A Zen Life in Trousers

Zen trousers, photograph by Anne Dick

A practitioner’s perspective, on and off the zafu – One

When I started sitting with the group the  suggestion was to wear something dark and loose to allow for flexibility and minimise distraction.

My first stage of experience with Zen was dominated by a preoccupation with finding the right trousers. Somewhere there was a pair of trousers credible enough to wear to the office and stretchy enough to help me navigate zazen (sitting meditation).

This continued as an undercurrent. Although I had a sense that the sitting I was doing was worthwhile, I gathered aiming to get results was not quite the point so put much of my effort into sourcing the right trousers.

By now I was accumulating a fair number of stretchy black trousers and began to feel optimistic about integrating my work and sitting needs via my wardrobe. Then I cracked it and found a pair which had it all – accommodating but not baggy, pockets, the works.

Frustratingly, having manoeuvred into minimising physical discomfort I found what I was experiencing during zazen was far from the ease and calm I’d rather expected. The buzz and distractions in my head followed me onto the zafu (cushion). There was no avoiding them. In fact trying to avoid them made them multiply. 

At some point I finally experienced the reality about it being a matter of neither fighting the buzz and distractions nor feeding them. And actually, that also applied to the physical discomfort. Being there with whatever was going on, physically and psychologically (including more variation on the trousers theme) and allowing it to open into a wider, more spacious awareness started being pretty much ok. 

Not guaranteed ease and calm admittedly but something radical, real and connected.

And one of the benefits of my zen life in trousers was that I found I had a well provisioned lockdown wardrobe!