day 10

An evening sit. Something a bit different: just sitting, cross-legged, relaxing, focusing on breathing. Not much counting. No pressure to do it properly. On a sofa, in a relatively quiet place, but not especially so. A way to squeeze sitting into a busy day. Beneficial all the same.

Discipline: 7/10.

day 9

An outdoor late-morning sit. A first: setting the timer and settling into position I immediately found stillness. Next step: maintaining it for 30 minutes. A bit of thinking about work, and then a wasp appeared. I’m quite good sitting through insect landings lately, but there was something about the pitch of this buzz that I didn’t love, so I looked and, sure enough – wasp. Would quite like to get a place where wasps don’t faze me either, but hey ho, we’re heading into autumn and winter now so no big deal. And besides, my focus should be on the doing, not the outcome.

Discipline: 5/10.

day 8

More evening sitting, I think. Sitting in the evening, especially before bed, is very different somehow. Very peaceful. Gently contemplative. Sitting first thing in the morning is great – that’s the routine. But on occasions when that can’t happen, I might fall back to sitting last thing as the next best option.

Discipline: 6/10.

day 7

A warm day, so sat in the garden. Half lotus, counting out breaths only, up to ten then over again. Always helpful sitting outside. The sounds of the world keep the mind from wandering too far. Some thinking, still. Wondering and wandering. But almost no fixing, dwelling, mulling, narrating – that’s progress.

day 6

Sanzen, followed by a 30-minute sit. I’m using the studio in the garden. It sounds obvious, but finding a quiet spot for zazen is very helpful. At the moment, I’m sitting on a chair as the presence of a back rest helps me, even though I don’t lean on it too much. Soon I will start to introduce some zafu sitting. In the right position, that can feel like quite hard work, and I struggle a bit with circulation to my legs. I tend to avoid putting too much weight on my legs and instead rely more on my spine, which isn’t the usual way. Even so: pins and needles. Consequently, a 30-minute sit tends to be followed by a 5-minute lie-down, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Perhaps it doesn’t matter – lying meditation is a thing too.

day 5

This morning, 45 minutes of zazen, with a group on Zoom. The difference that sitting with others makes is quite staggering. It’s almost like a force-multiplier or super-power. Consequently, my mind wandered less in 45 minutes of group zazen than it currently does in a fraction of 30 minutes of sitting alone. And that, in itself, is clarifying. Because I know that, if I’m working towards anything, that for now it’s working to reduce the distraction and increase the discipline. I don’t think you can prevent thoughts arising entirely, but when I let each one pass by without a second thought, then I’ll be really ready to make progress. I’m a beginner again, which is what comes of not sitting for a while. And do you know what? It feels rather nice.

day 4

Lunchtime sitting, today. I think I prefer sitting first or last thing. Very conscious of the difference location, clothing and time can make, and it is best to optimise. That said, pretty good, today. A better ratio of focus to wandering, and what wandering there was was hazier and more fleeting than yesterday’s. Continued to work with “who am I”, though also returning to counting breaths when my attention does veer off. Noticed one moment that felt something like an opening up. Often when sitting, especially when returning after a lapse in practice, things can feel rather confined. Today there was a moment, though quite short, when the walls seemed to come down and an empty vastness came to the fore. It feels the closest thing to an answer to my question since returning to practice.