‘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.


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.