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Meditation, a Chair, a Wall, Zazen

I can’t really explain how it has all come together, but for a while now I have felt a yearning to quiet my mind, to slow down and reflect on what we often refer to as the deeper things in life.

To be sure I credit the disruption COVID-19 has brought to us as a big part of my present state of mind. Lives lost, our way of living modified, businesses ruined, fear always with us or just below the surface.

And then there’s this business of getting older.

Along the way I have read several books about Zen and learned how crucial meditation is to its pursuit, or rather more directly in the pursuit of enlightenment. The irony to this is that one seeks enlightenment by quieting one’s mind.

So today I decided to try my hand at meditation, or as it is known in the Buddhist tradition zazen. The technique for first-timers is simple. Sit down, look at a blank wall, and count your breaths with your eyes half-open. You can set a ten-minute timer if you want.

In my typical fashion, first I fretted over how to sit, where to sit, where to find a blank wall, lol. Full lotus, half-lotus, etc. You catch my drift. Anything but sitting down and doing it.

Then I realized I had a fine meditation chair in the dining room and a blank wall ten feet away in the study. I had a timer on my phone. I was breathing.

I plopped down in the chair, took the position I had seen recommended in the books I read, punched go on the timer, and counted my breaths for ten minutes while I stared at the wall.

You know what? My mind slowed down just a little. Just enough for me to know I need to zazen more often and for longer periods of time.

And you know what happened after that? I wrote it down on my steno pad. A simple entry, but an entry nonetheless. “11-29-20, zazen 101.”

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