Monday, 8 March 2010

Being at ease right now.

It's easier to sit for forty minutes during the weekly zazenkais than while sitting by myself in the zendo. There is peer pressure in the zazenkais. I don't want to move and disturb the others. Nor do I want to seem weak, troublesome, not a good practitioner. When sitting alone it is easier to fidget, sniff freely or even lift one buttock off the zafu to fart.

However, it's also easier to get off the zafu early, pack it in as a bad job, leave it to later, bugger off for a coffee. I set my timer on the tan behind me and as my legs get weary and I am finding it harder to settle my mind, I'm drawn to it. "How long's left?" I  wonder. Sometimes I give in to temptation and look around. I'm either happy that there's little time left, or unhappy that there's more than I thought.

Yesterday during the zazenkai, with each tan occupied around me I realised something significant for me. I always kind of knew it, but understanding intellectually and actually experiencing something for me can be very different. I realised that my discomfort with sitting comes from my mind. Not just a mental knowing, but something deeper than that. The thought had a deeper impact, if you can understand that.

Of course my legs and lower back can hurt a bit, or I can get cold or thirsty, but that's not what I'm on about. I'm talking about this mental restlessness which is always present. This not being at ease right now. Always feeling the need to do something else or be somewhere else and have something else in order to 'feel better'. My life circumstantces are very good to be honest. My family is happy and healthy. I have a nice home and good job. I'm healthy. Yet there's always something amiss. There's always an uncurrent of unease. It makes no sense. I should be very contented with my lot.

I read somewhere not too long ago that the fundamental problem facing human society is our seeming inability to be at ease sitting in a room by ourselves, and it describes me very well. So I realised that my challenge is just that. To be at ease right here, right now, and to be right here, right now requires practice. Indeed, it is practice. So I sat on and refocused on my breath, and today again, for forty minutes I undertook the same struggle, to step back from the constant stream of thoughts in my mind and to find some ease.

1 comment:

  1. I`m always self conscious about how loudly I breathe.