People occasionally admit to me, as if it were some kind of deficiency, “I don’t meditate as often as I would like to.”
The lucky ones follow that up with, “but I do (run/yoga/paint/etc) and that is like my meditation.”
I have benefitted from a disciplined formal meditation practice, but I want to encourage us to look for the places where we come in direct contact with our life and suggest going there often.
Let’s break this down a bit.
What is Zazen? When we drop distracting thoughts and return to the awareness of the breath over and over again, we’re practicing how to be fully and completely present to our life.
Zazen is a direct experience of our life in that moment.
Take the example of running. There are two examples to consider.
Version 1: We are running, our eyes are open and we’re missing cracks, curbs and branches but we’re lost in our head with thoughts of the fight we had with our significant other last night or the stress of the upcoming workday. We don't even notice our surroundings.
Version 2: We’re clear, bright and focused. We’re open to the experience and taking in our awareness of our surroundings, rooted deeply in our connection to our body, breath and road coming together in the moment. We finish feeling physically and mentally refreshed.
“Version 2” is meditation in motion. This is practice too.
For my friends who find their meditation in motion, the trick is carrying that experience into day-to-day life.
I love that we call meditation a “practice.” It begs the question, “what am I practicing for?” If the answer for my Zazen is that I’m practicing in order to live my life fully, then I can try to draw that same lesson from running.
Wherever you find this experience of practice, this direct experience of your life, go there and go there often. You’ll find peace, serenity and personal growth by developing and deepening in this discipline.
May your practice, whatever that may be, go well!
Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed.
P.S. Two notices about upcoming events:
First, the next beginner's class is on Wednesday, February 18th, 8pm EST. Sign up at: http://goo.gl/forms/dDN9QNDJ8v.
Second, the book club on Tuesday nights no longer requires reading in advance, we reading during the session! Reply for details how to join us.
Recommended Link for the Week: This six part series on philosophy is presented by popular British philosopher Alain de Botton, featuring six thinkers who have influenced history, and their ideas about the pursuit of the happy life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S24FxdvfOko