Simply Sitting - A Poem

by Portia Choi

Sitting with one’s bottom on the cushion,

knees folded and relaxed,

top of the foot on the floor,

soles facing up.

Back straight, head pressing the sky,

nose vertical, eyes horizontal.


Ah—ready for deep concentration

trying to drop all thoughts from the mind

(with each breath, the mind wanders:

what will I eat for breakfast, what will I wear?)

Breathing slowly, in and out.

Bringing the mind back to slow breathing.


After twenty minutes,

there is pain in the knees, then the thighs.

Breathing in-out, in-out, slowly in-out, in-out;

and the pain is forgotten.


Then, the foot starts to tingle,

It seems to change from aliveness to

concrete coolness.


The bell sounds, the sitting has ended.


The foot is numb and does not move, 

wriggle the toes, gently – slowly,

and vitality rushes to awaken the foot.


Ah, learning from simply sitting.


About the Poet: Portia Choi has published a chapbook, Sungsook, Korean War Poems, about her personal  experiences in that war. She administers Kern Poetry Online and sits with the Dust Bowl Dojo of the Zen Fellowship of Bakersfield.


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