My favorite part of zazen is the part where I remember that I am not supposed to focus on one spot. This realization inevitably dawns on me after contemplating a singular wood grain pattern on the floor. In the introductory video I watched, the instructor says something along the lines of your peripheral vision should be active at all times so you are viewing the whole room as you sit.
For some reason, it feels extraordinarily good to widen out your scope. There’s something inherently relaxing in not choosing. It was easier to calm my thoughts tonight then in the past. I still have a hard time not making a to-do list, or drafting a post, in my head while sitting. But awareness of my eyeline and also my body helped to minimize the wanderings. I had an itch at about minute 12 and wouldn’t let myself scratch it. It was kind of fun to examine how the itch evolved – a pin prick of annoyance at my brow, a creeping vine of near pain, a rash of eerie numbness. Doing something metaphysical helped me find the physical, tangible world.
Right before I sat, I finished reading my alumni magazine or, as I call it, parade of people who have done better than you. I’m 33, more than a decade out of college and a nearly a decade since I enrolled in grad school. At a standstill, working towards my best shot at a goal, it’s easy for me to negate all I’ve done in the last few years. I don’t feel like I have anything tangible yet to show for my work — a lot of almosts and behind-the-scenes work that meant a lot to me, but not much to the outside world. I’ve come to terms with my need for glory (a character term from grad school, not like actual glory where I would contribute anything seriously meaningful to the world) and am straining to make sure it doesn’t outstrip my work ethic. It’s too easy to get caught up in the feeling I’ve wasted time; my anxiety revolves around this notion. Ironically, anxiety has made me waste even more time. I’m hoping sitting will knock the inertia out of me.
Best online thing I read today: Now That’s What I Call Small Talk, Volume 452,793! by Dan Rozier / McSweeney’s
Song I loved today: You Will / Lia Ices