E-mail post, kindly forgive formatting.

Beginning a sitting practice is tough work, particularly when we are
burdened with wrong conceit. Wrong conceit is the view that someone (either
self or other) is lower, higher or the same. Any of these views can be a
big hindrance to practice. I know because I have experienced this first
hand just observing my self. Especially when I hear someone say something
like "I practice sitting for 15 minutes a day" and my comparing mind goes to
work and tells me "oh I'm so much better than that." Or when some other
sitting champion says "I sit four times a day." And the comparing mind goes
to work and thinks: "Oh how can I compare to that, I'm not doing anything
compared to that." Or it can even be something like oh I'm sitting the same
as him so we are equals. I'm using sitting as an example but really this
can apply for any aspect of practice/life. Thoughts that we are better,
worse, or the same are not helpful and conversely can be harmful not only to
your own practice but also to others. Take a moment to think about it and
this becomes a no brainer, winning and losing can cause animosity, excessive
pride, frustration, etcetera. Saying someone is the same when they are not
can also cause animosity, excessive pride, frustration, etcetera. You have
probably seen this too. This path to salvation is not a competition.

Keeping that in mind, something I have enjoyed recently, and would like to
explore more, is sitting without a timer. Or allowing myself the room to
sit without any specific time allotted for it. It has really had a freeing
affect on my sitting. So I would like to recommend to everyone to try it
sometime, Not necessarily all the time.
But some time just don't rely on the clock, don't worry about the sitting
being long or short, if your legs get tired feel free to stretch out or take
a walk, forget about the rigid schedule and just enjoy the sitting doing

*A note to folks with families who are early morning sitters, I highly
recommend this be done waking up early in plenty of time for the family to
sleep away while you get your cushion squashing on, and you may run in to
problems getting to work on time if you try this on a work day morning.
Running late to work could lead you to not getting your lunch prepared on
time; which may lead to not getting the potatoes cooked prior to leaving;
which may lead to you trying to cook them in the lunch room in a
non-microwave safe dish; which may lead to a fire occurring in the microwave
which could be unpleasant in a number of ways.

If you have just started sitting-Zen there are some useful instructions to
be found here:



Kyle said...

"The path to salvation is not a competition." Prophetic words my friend.

SlowZen said...

Thanks Kyle. It's one of those things that seems to be cyclic. People start judging each other or even themselves by his/her practice. Heck, I've done it so I figure others might fall into that trap too. Hope someone finds these efforts helpful besides me.

Barry said...

ZM Seung Sahn used to call this "checking" mind - the mind that always compares, evaluates, criticizes, etc.

It forms one of the four walls of our self-created prison (along with wanting, holding, and making).

Over the years, I've found it better to sit with a clock just at the edge of my visual field. I've never like timers, but appreciate the opportunity to watch my mind wrap itself around excuses for why I shouldn't sit for the allotted period. Sometimes an excuse is so compelling that I get up before the time I established when I sat down.


Anonymous said...

I have an iPod that I've downloaded a meditation timer app. It dings after sitting so long. I guess you could use a kitchen timer, too.

SlowZen said...

Thanks Barry, Yeah checking mind, I think I've heard it expressed like that too. Still, a big trai i fall into over and over again.

SlowZen said...

Jamie G,
Thanks for stopping in. I've got a couple of good timers on my iphone, but what I have been enjoying here lately is just not concerning myself about the time at all. It has been a really refreshing way to sit.

Lauren said...

Great post, Jordan.

Sans timer I'm usually thinking its time to be up and away long before the period I had intended is complete. I've tried this experiment a couple times with my stop watch. As Barry suggested, the reasons to get up are myriad...and often win with me.

I recently found a 30min hour glass at a local department store. It's a very 'organic' timer. What's really frustrating is sometimes the sand stops or falls in sort of a time warp which doesn't seem to affect the other clocks in the house. I don't quite understand that [wink].

SlowZen said...

Thanks Lauren, it may be good to just get up when you get the feeling to get up, take a walk for a bit, then sit back down for a bit. Although I admit this can be difficult to do when the family is up and about. But just stoping all concerns about "how long" has been refreshing for me.

oxeye said...

I set a timer. I think I need the discipline, where you being a Marine, might enjoy a break from it..

I like what you said about making mental comparisons. I still do this constantly and most likely always will, but am becoming more aware of the habit.

SlowZen said...

Hey Jeff, thanks, I think becoming aware of these things is a step in the right direction.

Thanks for looking!