Friday, September 28, 2012
Oh Yeah, That Zen Thing
Another thing I've been thinking about lately is my Zen practice -- such as it is. As many of you know, I was a member of a Zendo for about five years when I lived in New York. I took vows, got a Dharma name, attended regularly and did my best to practice diligently.
After I moved to New Jersey, I meditated less. And when we moved to London, I pretty much let go entirely. I've tried sitting here a handful of times. I went to a local Buddhist center once or twice, but it's not in the tradition I know and it didn't really click with me.
I've written before about my attempts to maintain my practice and continue sitting. Lately, I've been thinking that perhaps the Zen way to handle this is to simply realize that my practice has shifted. I don't mean to give up entirely, and the intention is important -- the spark that leads to a more mindful, gentle existence. I'm still practicing in small ways -- checking in with my breath as I sit on the tube, tuning in to each moment as I watch the streets around me for photographic opportunities, trying to be kind and keep my cool, even when slow knots of tourists block my path on the sidewalk. So maybe I'm not sitting for lengthy periods. Does that mean I'm failing, or just that my life is in a different place now?
Maybe rather than wondering whether my practice lives up to my ideas, whether I'm "doing it right," and feeling guilty about the ways in which it falls short, it's enough to see the ways in which I am still practicing. I don't mean to justify laziness, but Zen is not an external thing that I have to achieve. It's here already. It's with me all the time. It is me.
(Photo: Brick Lane, on Saturday.)