Body Memory

On Saturday I had set my alarm early for the sitting, and, things being what they are at the moment, I was awake two hours before it went off. Which did at least give me time to do some reading and drink a little coffee before putting on my robes and walking over to Zen Center, at a time when the city was still quiet except for the numbers of homeless who were mostly awake at that hour.

There were about a dozen people waiting for the zendo door to open when I arrived, and we filed in and made our way to our seats. It was reassuring to be there hearing the familiar sounds, and anticipating the various events, like the shuso’s jundo, followed by Christina’s. The zendo was packed, more than I expected, with many people around me unsure what to do during kinhin.

I had wondered if I might have forgotten some of my oryoki forms, having not eaten with my bowls for more than two years, but it turned out my body remembered very well, with several hand movements that I couldn’t have described were I not doing them. I did forget to wipe my hattan, which sits under the bowls, as I was cleaning up, but other than that it felt very smooth. The people sitting across from me were more or less beginners, navigating their way through without floundering, but then stymied by the re-wrapping process at the end.

I had another chance to work my body memory with the kotsu for the period after breakfast, for which I had volunteered to be doshi. Picking up the one I had used before, with the orange string, I felt my fingers form patterns. I had been trying to demonstrate how I do it to Djinn when I was in Belfast, as Paul had brought her one. I don’t know how orthodox my method is, and certainly, watching Christina handling hers afterwards during the lecture I saw how she did a few things differently, but it feels right to me.

My sitting was rather sleepy on the whole, though I didn’t expect otherwise with the little sleep I had had. I noticed how my body moved between balance and strain as my energy rose and fell. I was spared a sleepy afternoon in the zendo by having four practice discussions in the art lounge – one with a person I knew, the other three with people sitting their first one-day. It was great to hear what they were experiencing, and what had brought them ot Zen Center that day, and I hope that I was able to offer something helpful, especially in terms of posture and comfort.

After breakfast and lunch I went up to the roof, which was mostly deserted (except for a couple of residents after lunch, a scene which suggested a budding relationship). The sun was already warm after breakfast, listening to the scrub jays and the construction noises, and very pleasant after lunch, as red tails circled over the Western Addition. Looking over the skyline, I noticed not just the the view had been utterly transformed in the two decades I have been looking at it from the roof, but that the change was only to the east – if I looked west of Laguna, apart for a few refurbished Victorians, I could not see a single new building.

IMG_1575.jpgIMG_1574.jpgLooking east from the Zen Center roof, with new construction everywhere.

4 thoughts on “Body Memory

  1. Ah, thanks for thinking about my kotsu fumbling! Wonderful to be reminded of my many one-day sittings at City Center. It all seems such a long time ago and a long way away.


  2. Thanks for the Dokusan that day. I was one of the three newers. You where supposed to be Mary that day but then ended up being You. Glad you were. I was/am practicing growing with the flow and trusting my body wisdom. After planning what I was gonna say all day, you’re suprise visit threw me off completely and I stumbled, which was quite refreshing. A lot of Sacral energy center wisdom flows in. Thanks for being you instead and letting me reflect!


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