Sunday, October 3, 2010

Zazenkai Notes: Twice a half-day is...?

After the Circus
After the Circus, Helsinki, October 2, 2010

It seems like there's a teacher visit every month these days, which is awesome. Kanja Sensei was here over the weekend to lead a zazenkai. It was slightly (but not much) lighter than the usual ones, to accommodate first-timers, and to let her catch her plane back to Sweden on Sunday. I missed the first block of sitting on Saturday due to a previous engagement, but was there for the two afternoon blocks, as well as the whole program today. We only did two blocks today, but they were four rounds each, plus there was a recitation, so it was a fairly solid bit of sitting.

I got dokusan on Saturday. Still felt a bit nervous, but I'm clearly getting used to it. Nothing dramatic this time; just a check that I'm not going completely into the woods (apparently not).

My sitting went OK. Nothing spectacular, just OK. Had a rather a buzzy mind on Saturday and most of Sunday, but at some point I got so sick of my monkey mind chattering inanities that I just sort of grabbed it by the neck, smashed its face into the wall a few times, and latched onto my practice with all the concentration I could muster, and it got better towards the end.

I have a slightly inflamed tendon on my left knee, which is getting better, but still stopping me from sitting cross-legged. It's totally fine with seiza, though, and I had barely any distracting pain anywhere. I just switched between a slightly higher and slightly lower cushion. I wonder if I'm getting used to sitting more, or it was so painless because of the pills I'm taking for my knee. If so, perhaps I ought to save a few in case I'm crazy enough to go for a sesshin one of these days...

There was also a potluck after Saturday's zazenkai. Talked shop with some people, and Zen with some others. I also got drafted to help out at the Health and Beauty fair in another couple of weeks. It seems they especially wanted Helsinki Zen Center to be there, and the Powers that Be have decided that this is a good way to get the word out about us being around.

It seems I'm supposed to sit there facing one of our portable burlap screens, and if anyone asks, tell them that zazen will give you rock-hard abs in only 15 minutes a day. Something like that, anyway. I'm still wondering if I should bring my Jedi robe. I could borrow a lightsaber from the office, too. We have the official Darth Vader version, except the blade is kinda loose.

Hm, maybe not. Wrong kind of convention, I think.


  1. Saturday's zazenkai and the "party" after it were nice indeed. I still though have some trouble with my sitting posture, but I hope to get my legs stretched enough soon to sit comfortably with them crossed in front of me.

    I was also a bit nervous before going to my first dokusan, and I decided to go there before I had anything to ask in my mind. While sitting and waiting for the dokusan I figured out a question which then disturbed my concentration all the time until the dokusan. Only by asking the question I was able to leave it out of my mind.

    Sounds like a good idea to try smashing the monkey on the wall next time. I also learned that we sometimes have to use 'sisu' to concentrate:)

  2. Sounds extremely familiar, especially the bit about nerves and dokusan. This was the fourth time I've had dokusan, and it's getting a bit less tense every time; I'm really happy we have the chance to get it in Helsinki more often.