Friday, June 18, 2021

Mondo: Atitude of Mind and Posture

Mondo is a question and answer that typically occurs after a session of Zen practice. This mondo with Gary is from Tuesday, 8 June, 2021.

Being as this is your first time with us, how did it go?

VISITOR: “I need to practice more.”

We all need that! There is a phrase in Zen--beginner’s mind. Longtime practitioners, brand new practitioners, we're all in beginner's mind, all absolute beginners when we come back to zazen because it is always fresh and new, as every moment is fresh and new. In this way, we can all be surprised by practice.

Different things will arise during zazen, always, because the world is flowing and we're flowing. Everything is in flux and changing, so everything is always new. We come back again to the fundamentals: posture first, then breath.

The attitude of mind in zazen is concentration--on just this moment, this here and now, this posture, this one breath. Let everything be as it is, not fighting to push away the bad or gain the good. Zazen is the autotelic experience of being one with this immediate practice of sitting, completely in the present moment. We have everything we need right here.

Yes, we all need to practice more, I think.

VISITOR: “Thank you so much. I noticed that my legs started to lose circulation. Why is that, and what can I do to keep that from happening?”

The first month of anyone's practice will likely be a month of experimentation, and really, we are all continuously adjusting our practice to suit our bodies’ particular needs as they change. This morning, you were sitting in the Burmese cross-legged position that we talked about, so next time try having the other leg in front. That's one experiment.

Another is to give yourself some more height by flipping your zafu on its end and sitting in one of the cross-legged positions, just a bit taller.

You might also try the seiza position. Take your zafu, flip it on its edge and point it forward. Then kneel on the ground and bring the sit bone down on the zafu, kind of like riding a horse. If you can position yourself so that your big toes touch in back, that helps to create a nice tripod base. Seiza is a forgiving position that may alleviate the issue in the legs and feet.

In whatever position you choose, make sure you have that slight curve and your lower back, shoulders back, arms dropped, head presses the sky. Concentrate on the posture.

Now, I will say this: my feet still fall asleep sometimes. I just let that drop off, too. You may or may not be able to “fix” this, but it may not be something that needs to be fixed, so don’t let it discourage you from practicing. Ultimately, it may just be more of the phenomena of life, the topography of practice, that we accept and let come and go, like an itch, a sore back, the meowing cat, the ticking clock. It’s all the same. If we were never challenged with such things, such teachers, we would never be able to grow and strengthen our patience, our acceptance, our equanimity.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Back to the Dojo! Visitation and Protocols

Dear Friends of the Dust Bowl Dojo,

We have begun our live dojo practice again, with some restrictions. As we begin in-person practice and instruction, we want to make sure that precautions are taken to minimize risk.
Due to the size of the dojo and the lack of open-air ventilation, dojo practice is limited to those who have completed the vaccination process. If you would like to attend, please fill out the In-Person Zazen Attendance Form. and then be sure to bring your vaccination card for confirmation.
Proof of vaccination is required at this time in order to attend in person, and masks, though not needed during zazen, will be worn during chanting and must be brought to the dojo.

If you have not completed the vaccination process, you are welcome to participate via Zoom. See the dojo calendar for Zoom links.

Thank you for your cooperation. We look forward to practicing together safely!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Zen in the Gardens - 24 April 2021

Zen in the Gardens
 Join us Zen practice in the gardens of the Bakersfield Museum of Art. 

We will be outside in the fresh air and socially distancing, with plenty of space (more than the minimum distance) between practitioners, but do please bring your mask for any necessary facility usage or before/after socializing.

Beginners welcome. If you are new to practice, contact us in advance for more information.

See the description on the Facebook Event.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Afternoon of Mindfulness - CSUB - 13 March 2021

This event is coordinated by the Common Ground Club of CSUB. 2-3 PM, 13 March 2021. Gary will briefly discuss Zen practice and lead a short session of zazen.