50 days of zazen, and the future

I renamed my 100 days of zazen tag to 50 days of zazen. I did the 100 days, and am still going. But I stopped writing after 55 days. I was quite busy-brained throwing myself into a new job. And when I did sit down, I decreasingly knew what to say. I choose to interpret that as a good thing.

My teacher shared a paper she once wrote on taking your zen to work with you. This is the challenge of challenges for me. I’m much more likely to take my work into my zazen. Whoops. But I’ll get there. It may take many years, but I’ll get there.

I’ve been tempted to start another blog because I’m enjoying work, and that inevitably means thinking more about “professional” kinds of things. But if I blog in more than one place, I’m going to lose enthusiasm for one or the other. So I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to use this place for whatever it is I want to talk about.

I’ve always struggled to reconcile the various bits of me. The silly me. The serious me. The creative me. The analytical me. The happy me. The grumpy, sad me. But I’ve been a little bit inspired by the “bring your whole self to work” people. I might start bringing my whole self to blog. I’m all of these things, and it’s time I stopped fretting about the reconciling and just do whatever it is I feel compelled to do now, and try my hardest to be a good person and a nice person while I do it.

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.