I returned to Canada from a trip overseas for a family funeral, elated and awoken, like I was being reborn. A few days before I left, I started to sit daily again. Today marks the 17th day in a row that I’ve sat on the mat, and is the longest daily streak. One of the techniques that I have employed that has allowed me to reach this ongoing goal is to not employ any one technique.
Instead of creating a strict time period to spend on the mat, or to practice a single doctrine or “established Buddhist path” (such as Zen, Vipanassa, and so on) I’ve just made it a priority to sit daily. While in the UK, I experimented with counting breaths using a Zen Mala, a gift from an old friend who returned from Korea, and his own family funeral, discovering that a 20 minute session is approximately 160 breaths. This awareness now allows me to meter my sessions without having to rely on a mechanical or electrical timer. My sessions were also almost exclusively late evening sits just before midnight.
Since my return, I’m back to morning sits, and today, I experimented with a guided meditation. This ~25 minute audio session takes the listener through relaxing their entire body, one piece at a time. While it instructed the listener to lie down for the session, I elected to sit Burmese on my zafu, as is my normal posture.
By the end of the session, I was truly present, mindful, and extremely relaxed. I also felt connected with myself, and with the world. Confidence is but a side effect of being present, and I’m pleased with the results. I plan on repeating this guided audio journey a few times a week to see if it cultivates a laid back, broader awareness not only during my “regular” zazen sessions, but also in the rest of my life.. I hope to recognize my discomfort in my anger, sadness, stress, basically “caught” a state of “reactivity”.. There’s something that feels off..
Our minds have a natural pull towards mindfulness and peace, but we’ve taught ourselves to accept this reactive state, that it’s normal to dwell and overthink this feeling of disquietude. Yet the more we sit, the more we actively train ourselves to relax and to become mindful, the more we recognize how alien this philosophy is, and how unhealthy our vibrations are as we stew in this discomfort.
I’m sharing the guided meditation with you now, as a public Dropbox link. Unfortunately I found it quite by accident, and have no one to credit for the file. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.. It will give many of you a way to sit for almost 30 minutes, perhaps impossible to imagine, or achieve, without months of practice and training.
If it helps even just for today, please share it, and this post, with others, so we may elevate our consciousness as a whole, and eschew the “normalcy” of living in stress, fear, and anger. Live in the now, not in the past or future. Nothing is certain, nothing is written. All you have is Right. Now.