‘Life is too short to be in a hurry’ – Thoreau

Transitions (Wellington Southern Walkway, NZ)
Transitions, photograph by Anne Dick, Wellington Southern Walkway, NZ

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

There’s something rather absurd about rushing to get to zazen (meditation) yet that’s sometimes what happens –  arriving to sit out of breath and with a head still teeming with the busyness of the day. For some people lockdown will make that less likely, for some people more of a risk.

Although our practice of zazen is of just sitting without any specific focus it can help to have a transition at times like that, just before the bell rings at the start.

Counting the breath from one to ten can help recalibrate. Counting one on an in breath and two on the out breath then continuing like that up to ten before dropping from the counting into full awareness. 

If the body is tight with tension, doing a brief body scan before the bell rings, without making any conscious effort to relax, can allow your body to have the space to release into the sitting.  

First becoming aware of the breath in your abdomen before taking your awareness up to the top of your head then from the top of your head, over your face and neck down your shoulders and hands to your fingers then from your shoulders down your torso, back and front, down your legs and feet then returning up the body back to the top of the head, noticing as you travel through the body in each direction how each part feels, without trying to change anything. 

Then the bell rings and you can just sit.