At a recent corporate meditation, I drew out a graph on a white board, following something that I believe I heard from Shohaku: the horizontal axis was time, the vertical axis measured from ‘lots-of-thinking’ to ‘asleep’. He said that we usually flow between the two ends of these (I thought afterward: in life, not just in meditation), and motioned a sine wave with his hands; at our best moments, he said, we get closer to the midpoint of the axis, which is relaxed awareness. I drew out how sleepy my lunchtime sit had been that day, after a general lack of sleep at Wilbur – the first half hour was right down at the sleepy end, though once the sun had gone behind a building and left me feeling a little chilly, I felt more alert for the second half.
After our short sit at the company, I asked the participants to draw their own graphs, and everyone joined in very honestly. There was a noticeable dip at half-way for a few people – perhaps the settling in the room had promoted a little mid-afternoon drowsiness.
I have signed up for the one-day sitting on Saturday at Zen Center. It seemed like a good time to do another one: apart from the ones I lead in England, I haven’t really done one since I left Zen Center – and I had a little laugh on using the booking software. It asked me if this was my first one-day sitting, and I replied ‘ha, ha – no.’ I long ago lost count of how many of them I did in my years at City Center, but I would guess at more than fifty.
If I were to draw a graph of my levels of wakefulness for all of them, the trend would be for a mid-afternoon drowsiness as well. Except for the years I was ino, and responsible for all the arrangements (you can read about such things here and here). Then, the afternoon became the time that things had usually settled down enough that I could actually relax into sitting, and they became the best sits I had during that time. I hope I have no responsibilities on Saturday, and that I get at least one moment which feels as good as the brief sit on Sunday evening at Wilbur did.