I’ve been meditating for about 7 years, but I have had a really hard time sticking to a regular meditation routine. It seems like it is really easy to talk myself out of it. Any excuse will work for me. Meditation is, if I’m being honest, quite boring. All you do is sit there for 20 minutes. That’s it. My brain haaaates it. So my brain will come up with any excuse not to do it.
Since December I have come up with a way to the cushion each morning that has worked! First thing in the morning I have to take medication (for my hypothyroid) and I can’t eat anything or drink coffee for an hour after I take the medication. Since my brain is pretty much useless before coffee I’ve been able to negotiate with my brain that time for meditation. So my routine is: wake up, take medication, meditate, yoga. When I’m done with all of that I can drink coffee and do anything that requires thinking.
This has been a tremendous breakthrough for me! Daily meditation has changed my life for the better, boring or not. There is a part my me (the thinking part. stoopid brain!) that feels guilty or beats myself up that this is the way I have had to talk myself into meditating daily. But then I think about Zen Buddhism itself and all of the forms and routines built into it. Zen looks kind of religious from the outside because there are so many forms. It can look weird from the perspective of someone looking in without knowing what is going on. But I realized that the forms are there as a container. They are there to get you to do the practice and prevent your brain from talking you out of the practice. I realize that my little routine of taking my medicine and then meditating is a form that I have made up myself so I can do the practice. And it works!
Now if I could only come up with something for exercise and eating healthy! (my brain has sabotaged me today in both of these disciplines).
Yesterday, I found these instructions from the Buddha on right speech:
The criteria for deciding what is worth saying
 “In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
 “In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
 “In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.
 “In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.
 “In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.
 “In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.”
—Abhaya Sutta: To Prince Abhaya
(On Right Speech)
So I thought I would draw out a flow chart
I’m not sure my flowchart makes it less convoluted….
but food for thought.
This week, WordPress’s Daily Post blog asks us to consider Identity. I find this subject fascinating and I think about it quite often. The idea of “Self” comes up a lot as I delve deeper into the study of Buddhism.
I am coming to the conclusion that identity is something that is not real. Identity changes, depending on who you are with, what your surroundings are, etc. Identity is a construct that we invent to help us make our way in the world. We put ourselves in boxes, we define ourselves for others, because that is what society tells us to do.
*Totally coming up dry as far as blog post ideas go, so I looked at my drafts folder. Here is something I wrote and left unfinished in April of 2016. It’s kind of weird to read it now. I think I still kind of agree with it. Maybe I’ll revisit this later this week.
If today were a dream it would go something like this:
I find myself standing on a stage in a play in front of an audience. I am supposed to speak my lines. But I don’t know my lines. Everyone is looking to me to say my lines so they can do their thing but I don’t know my lines. I stand there on the stage in front of everyone like a deer in the headlights.
So yeah. I was the precentor (bell ringer, and the person who was supposed to lead the chanting) for a meditation retreat today. Only, I’ve never really done this before and I didn’t know what to do. That was awkward.
Regardless, it was a good day and a nice retreat. Nobody really noticed, it turns out. Or if they did they were OK with it. It was my own ego that had the problem. It was an interesting and humbling day.
Both gain and loss, and right and wrong –
once and for all get rid of them.
When you are no longer asleep,
all dreams will vanish by themselves.
– from Affirming Faith In Mind by Kanchi Sosan Zenji (the poem we chanted today)