This 100 days idea was rather optimistic, apparently. I’m going to keep going, but obviously I’m not meditating, or writing about it, or writing here generally in fact, so much as I’d like. I’m tempted to blame busy-ness at work, and to an extent that’s fair, but I’m coming round to the view that how busy one feels at work is as much to do with state of mind as it is volume of work to be done. It’s time I noticed that feeling of busy-ness as a sign that a mental adjustment is needed. Do I really need to follow up on that idea? Or say yes to that suggestion? Or get involved in that conversation, however much it may touch on my areas of responsibility, and however wrong I think people might be? Almost certainly not. Bring it back to the basics, and doing them well, and helping the people around you – particularly those it is your responsibility to help. A bit like life, really. And: remember to breathe.
Consecutive morning walks in the mist. Consecutive morning walks up the hill. Feeding the robin. The school run. A bit of football. A bit of evening air. A nice salad. Sparkling water with ice and slices of citrus fruit. Spending time with Little Thunder. Spending time with the dogs. Taking bird seed to the reserve. Photographing wildflowers. Working outside. Gentle audiobooks. Avoidance of events. Avoidance of narratives. Time doing nothing.
A simple way to do zazen is to sit, legs crossed if possible, back straight. Rest your hands in your lap. By all mean search formal zazen postures, but this will get you most of the way there. Then, simply relax and count breaths. In, one. Out, two. In, three, and so on. Count to ten then start again.
The object is not to block out thoughts or force your mind to be blank, but to let thoughts go as easily they come, and notice the still moments in between. If you notice stillness, slow your counting to only the in breaths. In, one, out. In, two, out.
With practice, there will be fewer, briefer thoughts, and more stillness. Do it for 2 minutes. Then 10. Try every day, see how you go. If it works for you, perhaps try 20 or even 30 minutes. Perhaps consider finding a group. Sitting with others, even if only online, makes both the sitting and the stillness easier, somehow.
Sitting outside, in the sunshine, amid the bird song, it’s easy to wonder if this is too enjoyable – somehow cheating. Like all thoughts, this is a thing to notice but to let go of. Come back to the breathing, back to the centre, back to the silence. When I set on the hammock, if I close my eyes I notice a gentle back and forth rocking that evaporates if I open my eyes again. Is the rocking imaginary, or too minuscule to otherwise notice? It doesn’t matter. Just notice, then let go.
Every day, after 20 or 30 minutes of zazen (sitting meditation), I’m going to sit down and write whatever comes to mind for 5 minutes. This is not a meditation diary, as such. It may or may not be about meditation – we’ll see. Specifically, that is. Whatever these writings turn out to be about, I hope they’ll reflect meditation, or meditative and contemplative reflection, in a broader way. I’m going to try to do 100 of these. I know I won’t manage 100 consecutive days. Some days life will get in the way and I won’t manage to sit. Other days I’ll sit then forget to write. But eventually, I hope to get to 100 small pieces. I expect some will be very short if I do more reflecting than typing. I’ve just noticed I forgot to start my timer. That feels like 5 minutes. There’s one, then.