On the move

I have been traveling this month, and one of my friends asked me if I made time to sit when I was away from home and out of my usual schedules. A couple of weeks ago on my travels, I offered a meditation session at a friend’s office, but otherwise I did not do any formal sitting. There were plenty of times, though, when I paused for a moment to relax and engage the moment with presence.

When I am giving meditation instruction I often tell people that they can practise anywhere, and usually give the examples of walking down Market Street and being at the airport – though any street will do, and any airport. In New York last week, the stereotypes of hardened New Yorkers was belied by eye contact and smiles on a number of occasions, especially on the subway. These are small things, but to me they embody a moment being met. Visiting a museum, paying close attention to the exhibits around me, just for a second, things felt totally clear. In the long and tiring security line at JFK, I turned to focusing on the sensations in my body, which was a two-fold exercise: I had gone to the airport with ample time, so I was completely unstressed about time or being late, but I had also started getting sick, and had bundled up against the heavy rain in the city, which left me feeling very warm inside the terminal building. On the plane I was also just allowing myself to feel the sickness, and that slightly dislocated feeling of being high over the earth in a small pressurised cabin.

Flying west, we had just caught the last of the sunset in the sky, and had the half moon guiding the way across the continent. As we came into land under clear skies over the bay, I was watching the reflection of the moon in the water, and thought of Dogen. 

DSCF3676The picture does not do justice to the beauty of the scene, as we came in to land over the bay with the moon above; my attempt to capture the reflection in the still water was even less successful.

By the way, I have updated the calendar page, and will continue to do so as events get confirmed, so please check the tab above the header photograph.

3 thoughts on “On the move

  1. Thank you Shundo for this post. It was warm and resonant in different ways.
    Zazen off the zafu – It took me quite a while to begin to appreciate this. And then to realize its fundamental nature.

    Experiencing the body at the airport, feeling a bit sick – Now that reminds me of my own pragmatic koan: How to practice under duress, under impossibly difficult life circumstances. I wonder if you would care to comment on this.
    I watched my practice fall apart many years back, but concurrently this koan arose – a worthy morsel to chew on.

    Moon – awareness of Moon – like the breath: breathing in, this is breathing in; breathing out, this is breathing out.
    Here in the desert, the moonlight is always changing, but the beauty is constant.


  2. Thank you for your words. I am glad you have found a way to return to practice, even as your life throws up enormous difficulties. The challenge is always to stay what is actually happening for us in our lives, even as we would wish for things to be different. It is the wishing that causes suffering, and if we can hold ourselves upright through these circumstances, hopefully we can be more at ease with knowing that where we are is the reality of our life. Sickness, however mild or severe, is a great teacher for that; we are sick, even if we would wish for ourselves not to be, and breathing in and out with the sickness is what we can do. Your last line is a beautiful poem. Take care.


  3. As I read Sabaku paul’ comment on his ‘practice falling apart’— I’m reminded of building a beautiful sand castle and watching the incoming water slowly return that castle back again and then the beauty of rebuilding the castle, all over again. Currently, not much sickness but mounds of difficulties to drive me, back always to sitting. And expressing ‘fully’ what’s happening and understanding why. Thanks for your great post; Sabaku paul and Shundo — I love the photo for it reminded me the first time I landed in SF.


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