Before the holidays, my boyfriend recommended I think about doing 28 days of zazen – 20 minute meditative sits for 28 consecutive days. He warned me not to be offended by the email, which touts this practice as combating laziness. I wasn’t offended; I have been lazy for a long time. I’ve also been trying to identify the root cause of this laziness, which has manifested itself in an aversion to working out and the most ill-timed and worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever had.
Over the summer, I was reading the NYT Anxiety blog and I started crying. The piece was “The Anxious Idiot” by Daniel Smith, and it hit home in a very real way. Smith, author of Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety categorizes an idiot as:
A person who is so fixated on the fact that he is in a hole that he fails to climb out of the hole. An idiot, in short, is someone who is self-defeatingly lazy.
I started crying because I’m that idiot. In my latish 20s, I did a lot of work to get myself to a reasonable plateau of happiness and community – all of which I feel I’ve undone in the last two years of uncertainty and a yeoman’s share of familial responsibility. Somehow knowing I had once dug myself out of this exact hole was not immediately comforting — fool me once, shame on you. Get lost in a narcissistic, fatalistic spiral twice…
I learned to realize later that crying at the article was a good thing. I saw myself in Smith, the pattern recognition of self-hate and self-deprecation. (I feel bad that he’s had to do so many photo shoots with his hands gripping his hair under haunting shadows; how else do we understand anxiety if not for bad posture and poor lighting choices?) I appreciated his take on anxiety, one that a lot of people don’t quite understand (ugh NEVER read the comments). But crying was my first fistful of dirt on the way out of the hole.
So I started doing 28 days of zazen today. And I thought maybe a good companion would be to write something about it each day — or at least write something each day. Fiction, nonfiction, base journaling, poetry. (It will never be poetry.) I want something to look back at the end of the month. I don’t have any tangible goals other than to just complete the program or to just actively write once a day.
I’m supposed to count my breath while I sit, to think of nothing else but my breath. I’ve yet to get past “2”.
The best online thing I read today: On Repeat by Jen Girdish / This Recording
Song I loved today: In light of “On Repeat”, my most listened-to track on iTunes Like New / Deerhunter