Tuesday, February 24, 2009

day 5 of zen retreat - discussion

body meditation: this was wild! the most interesting part was at the beginning, while working with my toes. actually was able to 'address' and move each one separately (when little, my pronation was noticed, and was trained to pick up pencils and marbles with big and pointer toes) the rest of the toes were just there - but not tonight. they still moved mostly in unison, but was able to get the selected toe to move more, and could feel it slide past and in front of the other toes. it is probably the most bizarre thing to date.

the thing that got to me was my image of myself was of things being wrong all over the place, but while moving through my body, when asked for comment, none of the parts really had that much to say (lower back excluded). I expected much more grief. after all the effort I put into external communication (wife, kids, work, ...), you'd think I'd be on speaking terms with my body. that will be fixes post haste.

mindful walking: 10 min doesn't go as far as I thought it would (didn't even complete one lap on my usual walk). of interest to me was how many things flowed without my forcing them. usually I need to actively remember to not walk like a duck (got an issue with pronation, therefore with foot direction while walking) and to tighten my abdominals (usually just use my spinal erectors, part of my back problem). listened to the babble of a fountain in a yard, watched a cat who was watching me from his window, and enjoyed the breeze on my face and limbs. tried not to be annoyed when stepping on a rock, but instead, focused on how it felt (well, it feels lumpy and uncomfortable - duh!). quite an interesting experience.

didn't know this was going to happen today. went for a mile loop yesterday at lunch and worked mostly on quieting my mind while allowing the outside in (paying attention in the soft, broad way, to everything around me, from rocks beneath my feet, traffic zooming by, birds chirping, jets flying, and the rumbling in my stomach - my walk is to fetch my lunch). didn't practice the breathing, but other than that, I think it went well.

another interesting tidbit: just before I headed out for the walk, the eclectic music box known as our iTunes library was playing a waltz (Blue Danube, to be specific). you can imagine how hard it was to get that song out of my head while walking. suddenly I was counting in 3's instead of 2's, and walking with an odd gait (for those who have waltzed, no need to explain, to those who have not, I'm not sure I *could* explain - has to do with how the dance is performed).

it got worse later that evening as I sat and meditated - the song kept coming back. tried my usual Cartoon Mind trick and visualized an ensemble of chimpanzees (amazingly, they showed up wearing white tie and tux). got a chuckle out of myself, but the band played on, and my zazen session was sinking fast. finally broke myself up with audible laughter when I re-enacted a scene from a TV commercial (fancy restaurant, two guys seated at a table and dressed up as barbarians, guy in a tux with a violin playing just behind them, one barbarian reaches back, grabs the violin and smashes it on the table, then hands the wreckage back to the violinist). I know, senseless violence - and against a violin, no less. All I needed was a saxophone, and I could have had sax *and* violins! introspection aside, the laughter broke my prior state and allowed me to reenter zazen with a less cluttered mind. for some reason none of the chimps came back to harass (or serenade) me in the final segment of my session.

ps - my wife already thinks I'm kinda nuts, but lets me pursue some of my more benign quirks. having me break out in laughter in the middle of a meditation did pique her curiosity - about my sanity. fortunately, she shares much of my sense of humor, and laughed along with me. at least it appeared she was laughing *with* me...


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