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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2010 75 Earth-friendly/body-friendly furniture for meditation and daily life, including sitting, sleeping, lounging, and yoga. www.zafu.net Free brochure 1-888-267-5366 Knock down design travels in a suitcase. Multiple positions--feet can be in front, beneath or ankles resting on cross-bar.) Great for people with limited exibility. www zafu ffu fu fu f net Fre The Tilt SeatTM A kneeling chair and floor desk in one. Balances, strengthens and tones the body. unpleasant? What impact did it have on my morning, on the rest of my day, on my week?” Usually positive results are apparent, and, seeing that the practice has been beneficial, you develop a stronger intention to return to it. So then, after a hiatus, com- mit again to practice, maybe now for a month, with the same break built in for evaluation. In this way, little by little, you can become a regular meditator. Taking breaks from time to time doesn’t change that. Many people ask, “Is it necessary to do this in the morning? Is there some magic to the morning? I am not a morning person.” yes, I think there is magic to the morning. Monastic schedules the world over include early morning practice. practice seems most beneficial at that time of day, when your psyche is in a limi- nal state and the world around you has not quite awakened. Also, you are more likely to do it in the morning, before your day gets engaged and you remember all the things you need to do. In the middle of the day it is harder to rein yourself in, and at the end of the day you may be too tired or wound up. you may feel more like a glass of wine than meditation practice, which will likely feel pretty uncomfortable as your body notices all the aches and strains and kinks of the day. Actually, practice at the end of the day is very good for just this reason—while often uncomfortable, it does help you process all your stress and feel calmer afterward. But if you are trying to establish a fledgling practice, thinking you will sit restfully at the end of the day is probably not going to work as well as catching yourself at your weakest (which is to say your strongest): in the morning, when you are both more and less yourself, before you have fully assumed the armored, heroic personality with which you feel you must approach the world of work and family. (I must note here the obvious fact that all of this might not be true for you: we differ enormously as individu- als, and in these intimate matters one size does not fit all. I am describing what I have found to be true for myself, and for many other meditators.) There are many approaches to meditation. In my tradition, the Soto Zen tradition, meditation is not considered a skill that we are supposed to master. It is a practice that we devote our- selves to. So if you are meditating in the morning feeling half asleep, with dream-snatches passing by, and your mind not crisply focused precisely on the breath, the way you think it is supposed to be... this is perfectly all right. It is considered normal and possibly even beneficial. The biggest obstacle to establishing a meditation practice is the erroneous idea (firmly held by most people who want to establish a meditation practice) that medita- tion should calm and focus the mind. Therefore, if your mind is not calm and focused, you are certainly doing it wrong. Strug- gling with something that you are consistently doing wrong, and in your frustration can’t seem to get right, does not inspire you to continue (unless you are a masochist, and there are more than a few meditating masochists). Better to assume the Soto Zen attitude that meditation is what Getting Started continued from page 49