Norman Fischer

‘In the simple format of meditation, just sitting there by yourself with no one to negotiate with and no task to perform, you have the perfect conditions for practicing patience. Take the issue of physical pain, an experience we naturally view as problematic. Here’s a way to go about it: When physical pain arises in meditation, stay with the breath and the sensations of physical pain. Don’t move, don’t adjust, even though you want o. Doing this will quickly show you hpw the mind runs away when it doesn’t like what’s going on. Gradually train your mind to stay close to the unpleasant sensations and the thoughts that inevitably go with them. When you do this, you will be surprised to discover within yourself a larger person, someone more forbearing, more dignified, and more courageous than you thought you were. It may seem masochistic to practice like this, but developing patiend with unpleasant physical sensations is perhaps the most valuable thing you can learn from meditation practice. To be able to endure physical discomfort and pain with grace and composure is a valuable skill you will come to appreciate as time goes on.’ (The World Could Be Otherwise)

The last sentence reminds me, as I may have said on here before, that I have heard it expressed that this practice is good preparation for dying. As morbid as that might sound, I think there is great value in that. And, typing this out, I remembered all the evenings in sesshin at Tassajara: the first period in the evening after dinner always seemed to end up being the most painful of the day; I would endure whatever my legs were telling me until the bell rang, then would leave the zendo during kinhin to pee, or clean my teeth – anything to get a little break. Often I would tell myself on the way out that I wouldn’t come back, but somehow I always did, and the last period was never as bad.

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