Holding It Together
Supplementary article for live-streamed zazen 17th February 2022
To keep the mind straight, first keep the body straight
In tonight's live-streamed zazen I spoke about a previous Exercise in Mindfulness called: 'The Body/Mind Superhighway'. Unfortunately, I could not find it. However, as a substitute I found this one called 'Holding It Together' which works with the same principle, the interconnected nature of 'body' and 'mind/heart'. See if you can come up with some ways of applying these principles in your own daily life practice. View the suggestions as just that, suggestions for your own experiments. This is the spirit that the Buddha asked from his disciples, rather than letting the practice become a chore.
Continuing practice using the body, experimenting with keeping a good physical form. Whether we live alone or have a family, usually on coming back home after a day’s work, we ‘let ourselves go’. This may take many forms but the inevitable result is our becoming moody, irritated, dissatisfied. We may call it ‘being tired’ but actually it is the ‘letting ourselves go’ into formlessness which produces the corresponding moods — as above. Look at good athletes or any sports people — they may be exhausted, sit or even lie down to rest — but they never flop into a spineless heap! There is no rest, no re-charge in that position! Experiment, please. Remember not to be taken in by how ‘I’feel in the moment. That can change in a short space of time if we lead, not with thoughts and feelings but with the body.
Suggestions: with the family, tell them that say for a fortnight you are going to be specially considerate and polite in speech and act! Do not make a show of this, just keep physical form which may be quite comfortable but not sloppy slumping. Move about accordingly. Speak politely — whether talking of your day at work or at home, making a joke or a request.
If alone, the same applies to the physical form. Treat yourself and the things around you respectfully and remain collected. Do not ‘cave in’. Sit down properly with a cup of tea or to your meal. Experiment with the difference between rigid body and ‘letting yourself go’; find the Middle Way between, the effortless formality that springs from the heart, from courteous consideration for all that is, and that truly goes from ‘heart to heart’.
How did it go? What did you find?