“When you sit, you will sit…” – Shunryu Suzuki
When I arrived home from work today, I sat for the first time in a week.
It was hard.
Whenever I sit at home, I get this nagging feeling that I have set my alarm incorrectly and that I’ve been sitting for too long. This stems from an actual time when I sat for 50 minutes because I mis-set my alarm.
As such, every so often I will stop meditating TWO minutes before my scheduled 30 minute goal. There are times when I get disappointed with myself for stopping early, “why couldn’t you just stick it out for TWO more minutes???” I would scream at myself, but this does no good. Today, when I stopped early, I told myself that I was thankful to have lasted 28 minutes, and that next time the full 30 would be well within my grasp.
When I sit at home, I sit on my bed and stare at a wall. I don’t have the space for a zafu and zabuton, so I make do. When I go to zazen at the zendo, it makes for an uncomfortable hour because I am not used to sitting in seiza position. Oftentimes, my foot will fall asleep.
I learned long ago not to expect anything out of my practice. If my mind wanders, I simply let it wander. I know that if I start thinking thoughts like, “no I should not be thinking about that, I shouldn’t be thinking about anything!” It will lead me down a path of frustration. My practice is a much more enjoyable experience this way. It is filled with brief periods of what I would consider to be no-mind, I lose consciousness of everything-to the point of when I come to, I am startled and have to remind myself where I am. It is like waking up from a sleep but in actuality, I was wide wide awake.
When I was practicing on a daily basis, I started encountering very brief periods where I felt light headed, and was overcome by a tingling sensation. The word “calm” is the best way to describe my emotion in these situations. It’s like I understood or maybe even no longer cared about all of the problems and issues in my life. Even if just for a second…
A guy at my zendo said that as I practice more, I will begin to add new things onto my practice. I don’t know what he meant then, but after that experience, I think I have at least a cursory understanding.
There are also times when I practice that I find myself fighting off sleep. I implore myself to struggle through these times. I try to concentrate on my breathing. Slow, deep, breaths…
More often than not however, I skip meditating altogether. The usual reason is that it is taking up to much time during my day. I simply have too much to do. It’s at these times I forget how beneficial sitting can be for me. First, you mental benefits that doing an acivity consistently brings, but when you meditate, you also, at its most basic level, have a 30 minute reprieve from the world. Your problems, they are out there, in the world. When you sit, all you have are your thoughts. Nothing more.