My first one-day sitting

Today I was at Appamada Zen Center before 8 am, and I left at 5 pm. This is the first time I’ve done a one-day sitting. I feel jazzed about it! I will do this again!

We started with the regular Sunday morning service–30 minutes of group zazen followed by 10 minutes of kinhin (walking meditation). Repeat these a couple of times. Then a reading and discussion.

The reading was about anatta, the nature of the non-self. Buddha characterized the self as a stream, constantly changing.

After the service, there was a tea break for those of us staying for the one-day meditation (about a dozen people). Then we did 30 minutes of zazen, then another half hour of chores. I brushed the dust and dirt of each of the zafus while others vacuumed the zabutons, damp-mopped, swept, weeded outside, etc.

Then zazen again, followed by lunch, a mid-afternoon tea break, a question and answer period, with more zazen and kinhin in between.

At practice inquiry during the morning service, I had asked Peg about sitting all day. She advised me to sit with my sit bones at the very front edge of the zafu and recommended placing a small flat pillow under the back of the zafu to give it more height. Then she advised sitting with my pelvis slightly tilted forward to allow my back to relax into its natural lumbar curve.

So I did. At each zazen, I switched the top leg in half-Lotus and also sat in the seiza style (sit bones on a cushion with calves under thighs).

I lost track of how many times I did zazen today–maybe 6? And 10 minutes of kinhin maybe 5 times? At no time did we sit for more than 30 minutes straight, so I’m guessing I spent a total of about 3 hours on the zafu and close to another hour in kinhin.

I did some yoga during the lunch break–vinyasas of down dog, plank, cobra. It woke me up and probably made my afternoon easier.

I was the only new person attending this one-day sitting. During the Q&A, pain was the topic. It seems you never get away from it completely.

Although I certainly have had issues while meditating–in my sacrum area, with adhesions in my thighs, with one leg falling asleep–those have become less of a problem after 3.5 months of sitting daily.

Today I noticed a little “glitch” in my spine in the middle of my thoracic vertebrae, and early, my left foot got crampy and just did not want to go on top in half-Lotus. Later it was fine. And that’s about it.

Someone relayed a story that Flint had asked during his studies why we do this–sit with pain. The response was to have empathy with those whose pain does not end when the bell rings.

Someone else stated that pain is inevitable, but suffering is the story you tell yourself about pain that keeps you experiencing it.

I noticed at breaks that there was a natural silence among the participants. I noticed that I felt very relaxed and content. My mind was in the immersed,  present state. During breaks, I walked aimlessly around in the yard, looking at plants, and I sat in the study and looked at the books on the shelves and out the window.

This is experiencing the non-seeking mind. Others appeared to be experiencing this state as well.

So. Life happens one day at a time. If I can do one day of sitting, I can do multiple days. When the time is right, I imagine I will have that experience.

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