On Zazen Being Hard

Morning Zazen Practice
Morning Zazen Practice

Zazen is just sitting there on a cushion, so it’s really easy. Until you try to do it for more than 30 seconds. Then it can get kinda difficult. I have been sitting for a few years now, and I still remember when 5 minutes felt like a long, painful time to be sitting still.

If you’re having a hard time sitting for long periods of time, like the 30 or 40 minute sits we do at All Beings, try doing zazen at home. Do it for 5 or 10 minutes, once or twice a day. 30 or 40 minutes doesn’t feel so long for a few of us, but to beginners, it can feel like an eternity.

If you find yourself thinking the whole time, that doesn’t really mean you’re doing it wrong, and that you’re bad at zazen, and that you should stop. It actually means you’re doing it right, because you’ve just noticed that you’re thinking a lot, that your mind wanders. I believe the idea is to, when you notice, try to bring your mind back to a still point, ‘thinking non-thinking’ as it’s said. This’ll probably last about 10 seconds, and that’s ok. Just keep trying.

We call it practice for a reason. If someone handed you a violin and said ‘play this’, you’d be bad at first. It’s the same with anything, and certainly with zazen. The more you do it, the ‘better’ at it you get. Also – it’s not necessarily supposed to be ‘enjoyable’, though it can be.

But yeah, sit for shorter periods more often, and talk to Bobbi about posture, which is really important for your physical well being. —Sam Reggio