day 35 and 36

Saturday, I crossed London and headed west to meet and sit with my sangha in person. It was an important day for my teacher in particular, as an inka ceremony was taking place that afternoon. I was nervous because this was my first time practicing with others in person, and after I arrived, and the sense of religiosity about proceedings grew, my flight mechanism kicked in. I started to relax once the actual sitting commenced and quickly settled. No, I reassured myself – this is just sitting – and though there is religiosity around things, it’s really just that a bit of process helps everyone know what to do. There’s nothing to believe. Fundamentally it’s just sitting and not thinking about anything. But, I settled into it rather too effectively. And after an absurdly early start, I found my head nodding once again. And, sitting with a group, I had a sense of letting the side down, and, very quickly, a panic attack ensued. This passed quickly (thanks in no small part to the zazen and deliberate breathing, I imagine.) After that, the rest of the day went much better. Did what must have amounted to several hours zazen and kinhin, plus my first in-person sanzan with my teacher. The afternoon ceremony was lovely, and made an impression. I’m not sure what shape yet. As I’d hoped, group sitting in person does make it much easier to keep a still mind. Sunday I headed back east and did my sitting, feet on floor, in quiet train carriages.