day 56, 57, 58

Two less good, one very good.

Some thoughts are like dinner party guests. You invite them into your sanctum, sit them down, feed them, converse with them. But eventually they’ve worn you out, you’ve had enough of them, and you want them to leave.

Others are like unexpected guests. They might pop in for a cup of tea, but they don’t outstay their welcome. They (hopefully) leave quickly, of their own accord, and you’re glad they popped by.

The first kind are thoughts that keep you awake. The second are thoughts that send you to sleep. The first are thoughts that break your zazen. The second are thoughts that do no harm.

So: fewer dinner parties, more quick cups of tea.

day 51, 52, 53 and 54

Oh dear. Busy and busy-brained. Two days, 30 minutes of “mindful” sitting – as mindful as possible, at least. 45 minutes of group zazen yesterday. Work after was so hectic I have no recollection of how the zazen itself went. 30 minutes of zazen this morning, with some noisy work brain happening. It’s all fine. No judging mind. We keep going.

day 50

Under the hawthorn tree, wrapped in a warm outer layer. Focusing on the breath, but not counting. A spell of thinking, bookended by tranquility. Half way.

day 47

3o minutes sitting after sanzen. I mentioned to my teacher that sometimes, when counting the breath, I go way past 10 without noticing. She laughed and told me I don’t need to count any more. So I didn’t, and realised how much it’s been getting in the way. I will still count involuntarily – and that’s fine, I won’t fight that. But I won’t try to count either. I’m also going to stop “scoring” my discipline. This was intended as a way to show what proportion of my zazen was clear-minded. But it inevitably sounds more like a self-critical review of the sit, which isn’t helpful. On another note, sometimes now, when I sit, I can almost instantaneously fall into a meditative state. This feels like progress – it’s not something I really experienced last year. A misty morning. Autumn has arrived and is making itself known.

day 46

The first frost. 45 minutes online group zazen. A chill helps maintain the focus. A gradual shallowing of the breath and a lightening of the sky.

Discipline: 7/10.