Particular resistance(s) to my practice
I'm not sleeping well. Last night I stared at the clock until it was nearly 1:00 AM. I got out of bed and started doing prostrations. My ability (or lack thereof) to do prostrations is one way that I can monitor my progress and my commitment to do intensive practice. The guideline is 108 prostrations a day. I haven't done any in so long I could barely get to 25. My legs burned today as if I had run a mile.
I don't know the history of the bow. I don't know if all Zen traditions practice bowing or not, but there is something olympic about the speed and intensity of prostrations in a Korean Zen temple. The Koreans and the Indians must have known the same thing... you have to prepare with the body if you want to practice with the mind. When practicing yoga, asanas (poses) are just one limb on an eight-limb path. The eight limbs are:
- Yamas (The Five Moral Restraints)
- Ahisma (Nonviolence)
- Satya (Truthfulness)
- Asteya (Nonstealing)
- Brahmacarya (Moderation)
- Aparigraha (Nonhoarding)
- Niyamas (The Five Observances)
- Sauca (Purity)
- Santosa (Contentment)
- Tapas (Zeal/Austerity)
- Svadhyaya (Self-study)
- Isvara-pranidhana (Devotion to a higher power)
- Asanas (Postures)
- Pranayama (Mindful Breathing)
- Pratyahara (Turning Inward)
- Dharana (Concentration)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
- Samadhi (Union of Self with Object of Meditation)
Physical activity (be it yoga or aerobic-quality prostrations) does empty the mind and make it easier for me to find my seat. I need to get back into the consistent habit of using these tools to empty myself of anxiety, frustration, anger, everything... so I can just sit.
What troubled me most today
I have let the apartment get out of control this week. I still have boxes and bags of things that I need to find a place for. I'm almost out of storage space with no end to the stream of possessions that I'm still moving in. I need to make numerous trips to a used book store to sell some books. Clutter does nothing good for my mental state.
What made me happy today
My daughter and I have been reading a story a day from an anthology of stories for Buddhist parents and children called Kindness. I love her response to every story we read (with the exception of one). After I've read the last line I ask...
"So, what did you think?"
"Yeaaahhh..." she says.
Then we discuss the story briefly and talk a bit before she goes to bed. Tonight, I asked her how she would handle herself if she was confronted by a bully in school.
"I don't know," she says. "I'd have to think about it."
"You don't have time to think," I say. "Someone is literally pushing you around... What do you do?"
"I walk away," she says.
"You try to walk away, but they follow you and keep trying to push you," I say.
"I walk towards the teacher," she says.
"You don't have the attention of the teacher yet," I say. "The kid keeps pushing you around."
"I tell them to Stop pushing me," she says sweetly.
"You say it like that?!" She is being much too nice. She is a pacifist like her mom.
Next time she raises her voice a bit. Overall, I'm pleased with her strategies. She is non-violent and passive like her mom... but she's not going to go cry in the corner. She will be proactive. She is a lesson for me.
The Seventh Precept we take at Still Point tells us what to do:
Do not harbor enmity against the wrongs of others, but promote peace and justice through nonviolent means.
I'm working on it.