Now and Zen

I spent a full day in meditation yesterday. Sitting, silent and mostly still, mindful of my breath, for 45 minutes at a time. Then walking, slowly pacing, mindful of the soles of my feet for 30 minutes. Then back to the cushion to sit for another 45. Alternating this way, walking and sitting with a break for a silent lunch, focused on slow mindful food preparation, slow mindful eating, slow mindful cleaning, slow mindful digesting.

Focused on my breath, my feet, my hands, my belly.

Every time my mind strays; wanders back to the past, flies off to the future, starts telling me stories, so very many stories, I come back to my breath, my feet, my hands, my belly.

No judgment, no force, simply come back. It wanders. Oh, how it wanders. I allow it to wander. And gently allow it to come back.

All day I watch the wandering and returning. I sit back and become the observer. Observing the mind. Observing what thoughts arise. Good thoughts. Bad thoughts. Crazy thoughts. Brilliant thoughts! They come in waves, arising and receding. Arising and receding. They are the practice of the brain. Just as ‘waves are the practice of water’. (Shunryu Suzuki)

I am not the thoughts. I am not the thinker of the thoughts. I am the observer of the thinker and the thoughts. I watch. I watch without judgment or reaction. I feel. I feel without judgment or reaction. I soften. I soften without judgment…

The thoughts return to the breath. The thinker returns to the breath. The observer returns to the breath. The three align and I become the breath. I am breath and nothing more. I am breath and nothing less.

I am calm. I am content. I am peace. I am breath.

I have carved this time out of my life to be here, sitting in a room full of other people who are also sitting here, with nowhere else to be, and nothing else to do. Nothing at all to do.

The practice is so simple. Sit, breathe, be here now. Know what you are doing. Walk, breathe, be here now. Know what you are doing. Chew, swallow, be here right now. Know exactly what you are doing.

I know exactly what I am doing, now. I stay with my flowing breath. I stay with my walking feet. I stay with my working hands. I stay with my filling belly. I am here. I am in this moment now. Aware.

This practice is so simple.

Real Life practice is much harder. I come home and I’m immediately distracted. Pushing and pulling in three directions at once. Multitasking. Daydreaming. Out of focus. Wandering. Seeking out escape.

I observe this. I allow it all to happen. Without judgment. And as often as possible, I come back to my breath. I come back to my hands, my feet, my belly, my ears, my eyes. I come back to now. Right now.

I’m here right now. I come here in waves.

……

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