Thursday, August 13, 2009

Craining to Experience the Body

I had a pair of "body" focused experienced this morning, and then finished reading the article I wrote about yesterday. The first experience happened while biking. I had just crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River, and was enjoying the wind blowing at me, as well as the legs pumping, pushing the biking up the gentle slope. The problem was that I was looking down a little too much, and so didn't see what was ahead of me until I was almost on it. Just a moment before passing, I looked up and saw the eyes of a wild turkey, its neck stretching out from behind a light pole. The sight shocked me, being in the heart of the city, this huge bird that didn't seemed phased a bit by my passing it so closely. I stopped and looked back at it. It looked at me, and I felt my heart racing and a roar of laughter fly out of my throat. A few cars passed, and I saw the drivers also smiling, maybe at the two of us together, maybe just at the bird.

The second experience was an outdoor meditation by one of the many lakes in Minneapolis. To any of you who have never actually done zazen outside, I recommend it highly. This is how it has been done for most of history, and many people continue to meditate solely or primarily outside around the world. So, what's different about it? Keeping with the topic, partly what's different is that it's easier to feel the body. Maybe this is especially true with the wind blowing, but I noticed how easy it was for me to tune into my breathing, and to focus on different sensations occurring within. It's possible that this was just "how it was" today, or that I'm more comfortable with natural sounds like birds calling, dogs barking, and the wind, and thus am able to experience those without the need to judge or comment internally. Also, the flow of changes outside - such as the wind shifts or ducks squawking - the natural rhythm of that seems to cue me in to my own rhythms in a way that I don't experience indoors. I often have to work at dropping story lines about the bangs, clunks, shifts in temperature, talking sounds, etc. that I experience indoors. In other words, it takes longer for me to "get out of my head" and fully embody my zazen, life itself at that moment.

In some ways, this feels like an artificial division, and certainly, zazen is zazen no matter where you are or what is coming up.

But when it comes to attention to the body, and shifting away from that "heady zen" I spoke about a few weeks ago, sometimes a shift in location (or wild turkey) is called for.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

I am a very new meditator, but I have definitely noticed what you're talking about when meditating outside. The most I ever felt connected to my breath and body was meditating outside on my porch in the wintertime (about -15C) - I could *really* notice my breath!