I’ve been reading an interesting book called Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki.
The book takes away the mumbo jumbo of meditation and describes it in practical chunks. For instance, in the very first chapter he describes the meditation position in great detail — the back straight, back of the head pointing up, the hands held in a certain way, with arms out as though holding an egg in the armpit, etc.
And then after he describes this position he says “you ask me, now how do I meditate?” “I say to you, you’re meditating now. If you’re sitting in this position you’re meditating.”
It’s a very tai chi philosophy to encounter an obstacle and overcome it by embracing it and using its natural flow, and it’s such a counter-intuitive thing to do when you’re been raised to fit in with being a certain person, accomplishing certain things: beating your previous score; being like that soft-spoken, meditative, solemn guru whose talks you listen to. There always seems to be a pressure that I put on myself, an expectation to be what I’ve been taught by others to expect of myself. And the more I push those expectations on myself, the most I feel pressure and the unhappier I become. That’s when my pain, stress, depression, hot flash cycles, and random sicknesses begin again. I’m trying to find a way to jump into that flowing stream and go with the flow of what is and not fight it.
“You’re already meditating” is such a simple and profound lesson from a Zen master. No pressure, no expectation to be mentally anywhere or feel anything, no searching for my imaginary friend Krishna or my Buddha statues to hold my hand and help me through, just being nowhere and doing nothing but sitting in what he calls the “zazen” posture. Even though intellectually I understand meditation should be simple and without “doing”. It’s just a very tough thing to “not do” something. So here’s the something he gives me. Sit in “zazen”. Period. I really like that.