Friday, August 15, 2008
In a couple of days, I’ll be going up to Cornwall-on-Hudson for my annual meditation retreat. It’s a sesshin, a period of intensified practice: lots of sitting, three daily services, small ceremonial meals, and no casual conversation all week. It’s a terrific opportunity for quiet introspection, to let your mind and body settle down and perhaps come closer to escaping their routine daily obsessions.
Last year, I went to sesshin for ten days, which was a bit too long. I emerged doubting the wisdom of those last few days of practice. This year, I’m going for seven days, which should be more manageable.
I guess I’m looking forward to it, though to be honest I’m also a bit anxious. I’ve really been slacking off in my practice for the last several months. I’ve gone to the Zendo here and there, and I’ve sat once or twice at home, but I haven’t been nearly as attentive as I’d been the last few years. I’m wondering if my system will be a bit shocked when I go in for a week of intense sitting!
Why have I slacked? Well, who knows. This seems to happen in practice - sometimes you’re practicing intensely, sometimes you’re not. For me it all began with a very busy spring, with lots of activities almost daily that literally kept me from sitting, and away from the Zendo. I’ve been working to make my schedule lighter by extracting myself from some extracurricular activities, but I haven’t quite resumed my regular sitting.
I leave on Monday, and I’ll be back the following Sunday evening, perhaps with a quieter outlook and the ability to see and appreciate daily life a bit more clearly. Or not!
(Photo: Blossoms floating in a bird bath, Mt. Tremper, N.Y., Aug. 2008)