Every week in the Intro Class we talk about posture, breathing, and stilling the mind – the three basic components of zazen. It’s a repetition that never grows old, an instruction that brings to mind the adage from Zen (and from linguistics), “It’s impossible to say the same this twice.”
Zen is an embodied practice, on the cushion – or bench, or chair – and off. Our bodies are the vehicle for practice as well as an expression of the reality we discover and explore as practice unfolds. Nothing excluded.
In sitting, we’re invited to come into a posture that is balanced and at ease, fully relaxed and fully alert. Once found, this settled poise becomes the basis for sitting with “upright dignity” or what Dogen called “mountain-still sitting” – sitting with things just as they are.
The breath inhabits the gathered poise, joining it naturally, always already there. Following the breath can be a helpful anchor, a living plumbline that brings us back, again and again, to the here and now of each new moment.
Only here. Alone and replete. Only now. Boundless and inexhaustible.
Sitting allows us to experience the ‘Grand Central Station’ of our discursive thinking and, gradually, to disidentify with thought, to see its transparency – a great relief.
Zazen itself is an act of allowing, allowing whatever arises to come into the spacious welcome of our practice and there to join the whole of experience, whole without the slightest gap. Along the way we may come to taste and see the freedom and support that are intrinsic to this discipline.
Palms together with love,
Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash