Don't begin a sitting period without considering why you meditate.
Know your intention. Know that there is "nowhere to go, nothing to achieve." Be aware of ambitious thoughts.
your posture. No matter how you sit, the body should be erect (but not stiff), balanced, and at ease. The sitting place should
be neat and pleasant. (But we can sit anywhere and in any position even lying down if ill or exhausted.)
day. Try not to miss more than one day in a week. If resistance arises (it is a normal art of practice), be aware that it
consists of thinking; like all thought, it need not dominate you. Just observe it. Feel it in the body. And do not bully yourself,
Once a week, sit 10-15 minutes longer than you want to sit.
Don't become obsessed by sitting. In no case
should one's work or family responsibilities be neglected in order to sit.
When upset, don't avoid sitting. Hard as
it may be, it is crucial to sit when difficulties arise.
Know that sitting is simply maintaining awareness of body
and mind. Be aware of any desire to turn sitting into an escape from life by entering peaceful, trance-like states; such states
can be seductive but they are of no use.
Be aware that "achieving something" in sitting (such as special clarity, insight,
calmness of mind) is not the point. These may occur but the point is your awareness of whatever is happening, including confusion,
discouragement or anxiety.
Keep your practice to yourself. Don't attempt to teach others; do not proselytize.
Leave your friends and family alone. There is an old saying, "Let them ask three times". What you can give others is
how you live.
Don't spend your sitting time in planning. Nothing is wrong with planning per se, but set up another
time for it. If you hear planning thoughts when you sit, label them.
In daily life, be acutely aware of the desire
to gossip or complain, to judge others or yourself, to feel superior or inferior.
All practice can be summed up as:
(1) observation of the mental process, and
(2) the experiencing of present bodily sensations.
No more and no less.
And finally, remember that real
practice is not about the techniques or koans or anything else as ends in themselves; but about the transformation of your
life and ours. There are no quick fixes. Our practice is about our life, and we practice forever.
Charlotte Joko Beck
is a dharma heir of the late Maezumi Roshi and founder of the Ordinary Mind Zen School.