Monday, November 16, 2009

A Curious Meditation

It's one of those days when I hit the New Post button with not the first idea what to talk about. I showed up yesterday for my Sunday morning sit at the Laguna Sangha and did, indeed, sit for a full hour without once coming to the place of serenity and focus that I usually manage to find. My mind was scattered, flitting from object to object without settling on one for more than seconds at a time--unusual, because when thoughts take control, they normally tend in one particular direction and follow it for minutes on end before I realize what has happened, and bring it back to concentration on the breath. Strangely, too, in such a circumstance, the hour passed very quickly. The gong sounded before I'd had time to fret about how much longer it would be--the common experience when the mind wanders.

When I sit for a full hour, too, I usually like to structure the experience in some way. I start out with metta--wishing goodwill in ever widening circles to include all living beings--then move on, always following the breath, to one of several different body scans that I use to create a framework in which to establish intention and concentration before moving into full body breathing and, if I'm lucky, a sense of moving out beyond the confines of the body and becoming nothing more than a part of the everything that surrounds me. Yesterday, though, I didn't even manage to maintain concentration for long enough to work through the metta practice, let alone the body scan.

Altogether, a very curious sit--and a rather unsettling experience. Since my mind apparently gave up any notion of discipline or struggle, it was absolutely painless. And I yet I judge it to have fallen short as meditation. It was more like being adrift on shifting currents, with no sense of direction or resistance. I might as well have been asleep and dreaming. But no one, afterwards, complained about any snores!

3 comments:

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Thank you, Peter, for sharing your experience. I have not sat Zazen in a very long time, being too concerned that I have lost the art. I must begin again.

Richard said...

I've had to be told more than once, that even if you have an interrupted and unfocussed meditation, it's a lot better than no meditation at all. I suppose that at least you keep the habit going, and will still get some benefits.

I remember a Buddhist story about this subject:

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is so difficult!"

"It will pass," the teacher said.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is so much easier now!".

"That too, will pass," the teacher replied.

PeterAtLarge said...

Nick, I do believe that a daily sitting practice serves me in many different ways. I hear that you want to get back to it, and know that it would bring good things into your life.

Nice story, Richard! And yes, no meditation session is ever lost, in my experience. Even the one I describe was clearly a useful teaching. Thanks for checking in.