Unearthing creative possibilities: Trish Roque's website, personal blog, & portfolio

Zazen practice & what it’s currently teaching me

It’s been a very long time since I’ve practiced Zazen (sitting meditation) – almost a decade in fact.  I had intended to come back to practice since moving to California in 2000 but intentions and reality sometimes don’t coincide.  That doesn’t matter really.

What’s important is that I’ve been sitting for the last three weeks, 15 minutes every morning and every night before going to bed. Just sitting and counting breaths.  It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds – to try to reach 10, to inhale and exhale and to just focus on “one”, on “two”, on “three”, and that is a bird singing so beautifully and loudly, and what is Sammy barking at?, hmmm, I’m hungry, oh I should be counting – and back to “one”.  It is very rare that I ever reach 10.

It’s only been three weeks but in that time, my journal writings have reflected a person that doesn’t feel so panicked or rushed. I alluded to that feeling in my last post, when letting go of what’s not there just came to me.

The practice of sitting and counting breaths, of focusing on one, on two, on three – that practice reminds me to focus on what’s in front of me – to let go of what’s not there – which is everything else that is not in front of me. That includes the past, the future, and even the present, because really, what is the present?  By the time you sense it, it will already be in the past.

And yesterday, I was struck with another realization:

I need to start doing things with the small “I”, without the ego. Just writing those words, the essence is lost, yet, I don’t know how else to describe it. Replace the big “I” with the small “I” and the task at hand, whether it’s making websites or art, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, becomes about the task and not about me.

These words feel inadequate.

Make art with the little “I”, without the ego, learn with the little “I”, make websites with the little “I”.  It becomes about the work and not about me.  There is something very liberating about that – as though this load has been lifted off my shoulders.

We all have glimpses of what I’m talking about – that feeling of losing yourself in the moment with the task at hand, when hours fly by without notice.  It doesn’t have to be a task – it could be an activity, the runner hitting that high, the artist creating, the musician playing for hours. That is the closest I can come to describing this essential nature.

These words continue to be inadequate and I’m not a good enough wordsmith to describe this well, but let me try again: I’m learning the importance of fully expressing the essential nature of this person, this little “I” that’s me.

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4 Responses to “Zazen practice & what it’s currently teaching me”

  1. Monty says:

    Wow, this is such a beautiful read! Really, Trish, one of the best you’ve written. It comes from an entirely different space in you. How awesome to get to read it here. “…really, what is the present? By the time you sense it, it will already be in the past.” Beautifully said.

    Re feeling yourself lost in the moment: I was about to write that I’ve found in my meditation practice that I’m not lost in the moment but completely present in the moment, then I realized we’re actually talking about the same phenomenon. (a true zen exchange!)

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    trish Reply:

    Thank you friend, (and my one faithful reader! LOL!). I’m experiencing an interesting phenomenon that I’m sure is very common – I’m finding that the more I sit, the more difficult it gets. Maybe it’s because my mind is starting to quiet down and that makes all the noise in my head that much louder? (I like to think that’s the case.) I’m also realizing I need to find a zendo, to sit with others and to find a teacher. That was huge for me in Santa Fe, to be able to sit at the Upaya Zen Center. That’s the next step in the practice. When do you go to your retreat?

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  2. Monty says:

    how bizarre-extraordinary! on the bus ride to work this very morning this random thought occurred to me: “huh, isn’t it interesting that Clairvision (my meditation school) has recently started an urban branch in Berkeley. Wouldn’t it be weird if Trish suddenly finds an interest in checking out the ATE (awakening the third eye) practice + join their meditation groups.”

    And then tonight…. ta da! I read this.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    It just means that you & me, we’re two peas (pinays) in a pod… I have sat with a zen group (http://www.bayzen.org/index.htm) in Oakland and will get myself there very soon. I want to start this weekend but I am cramming to make some headway on a huge project I’m working on. My goal is to do at least one sesshin this year! Keep sitting sistah!

    [Reply]

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