September 27th, 2010 §
Term Student has begun! Last Tuesday I stood in front of the sangha in the Buddha Hall and pledged to increase my sitting time: attending sittings at the centre Tuesday and Thursday nights and Sunday mornings, and sitting for a half-hour morning and evening any time I’m not at the Centre, except for Saturday mornings. I figured I’d have a better chance of succeeding if I left myself one morning to sleep in and laze around, although I have a feeling I might add Saturday morning whenever-I-get-up sittings to the rotation just for consistency.
The main thing I’ve noticed after one week of this is that a half hour goes by much, much faster than it used to. Still plenty of monkey mind, but the apparent passage of time is faster.
I’ve also noticed that sitting in the morning at home is a lot harder than any other time, even including Sunday mornings at the centre. Usually my weekday mornings involve getting up, showering, getting dressed and heading out the door, and then I fully wake up on the commute in and have breakfast at my desk. But sitting in the morning at home means I have something to concentrate on before I leave. I’m sure it’ll come with time. That said, I think after term student is over I might spend those morning sittings doing metta practice instead of zazen. I think morning metta would set up my mind to stay skillful throughout the workday. But for now I’ve pledged zazen, and zazen it is.
One requirement of the term student program is weekly meetings in which all the participants (and Sensei when he’s there — but for the next two he’s in sesshin in Costa Rica) talk about how their intensified practice is going. I figure right here is a good place for me to keep notes on that, so for the next little while I think I’ll try to keep track of some of the details here.
But now work calls.
September 19th, 2010 §
I’ve been too busy at the Centre to post! I guess that’s a good sign. On the other hand it’s been all about getting ready for the fall yard sale, which happened yesterday and went well.
It was a neat contrast, because one of the first things we did as “real members” at the Centre was volunteer for the spring yard sale, and I remember definitely being the new guy there, and this time I was getting asked questions about where things should go and how much we should bargain.
So one problem with the Zen Centre yard sale is that it’s really tempting to go home with stuff. In the spring I came home with an old sewing machine (which I’ve since used to alter my underrobe!) and this time we came home with a slow cooker and a 20-year-old Cuisinart which was donated by Sensei’s wife Bonnie, who is a caterer.
I mentioned this to a friend online a moment ago. I had to post the result. (I am “mendel”).
mendel: folks we have a NEW (old) CUISINART
mendel: 20 years old apparently.
mendel: Bought it from a zen centre member at (before) the yard sale
eyeteeth: mendel asked, “How can a Cuisinart be both old and new?” He was told, “It costs ten dollars.” At that moment mendel was enlightened.
eyeteeth: Before enlightenment, blend smoothies, make julienne fries. After enlightenment, blend smoothies, make julienne fries.
Edit: And then, later…
mendel: The cuisinart of samsara has produced: KALE PESTO
eyeteeth: I left that kale pesto behind five miles ago. Are you still blending it?
September 5th, 2010 §
My practice has unquestionably cooled over the last few months.
I could get into lots of explanations and excuses but really it comes down to: I’m not sitting often enough. And thus begins a feedback loop in which I feel worse and sit less and feel worse and sit less, and where attending sittings at the Centre starts to add to the feedback (where usually I’d find it encourages me).
But I’ve just finished filling out two sets of paperwork which I think will break the feedback loop.
The first is a pledge form for the eight-week Term Student program at the Centre. The Term Student program has participants pledge to increase the amount of time and energy they spend in practice and on Centre-related activities, combined with weekly meetings with all participants to share their experiences and encourage each other. For the first time this year’s program was limited to formal students of either sensei or with special permission, and Sensei gave me the OK last week. I’m pledging to attend three sittings a week at the Centre, and to do morning and night sittings at home daily (but giving myself Saturday morning to sleep in), plus a bunch of ceremonies and samu at the Centre.
The second is an application for the 7-day October sesshin, which falls right in the middle of the term student program. This will be my first sesshin, which means that technically I’m attending for four days and then Sensei and I will decide whether I continue. But I have the full period booked off work and I fully expect to make it through!
Earlier tonight I was looking for something in Evernote and saw this quote I’d saved from Meditation Matters a year ago:
The affairs of the world will go on forever. Do not delay the practice of meditation.
Yep. Now to get that fire burning again. It’s a lot easier to keep a fire burning once it’s started.