Until April 7th, Clouds in Water Zen Center where
I practice and teach is in a Winter/Spring practice period. We are experimenting with an option for
practice period that focuses on home practice. We are committing to do:
Begin the day by refreshing your intention.
once (a full bow), staying down for tharee full breaths to relax and
the verse for beginning the day
During the day, take time to relax and focus at
least once. Wherever you are, sit
quietly, note what’s happening in your body mind and feelings and focus on
breathing. (5 or more minutes)
End the day by taking stock and letting go.
once for three full breaths
your day and identify any regrets and joys you have about your behavior.
three verses: atonement, ending the day verse, and dedicating the merit.
These small things, that anyone can do, have a powerful
effect. I’m still always
surprised! When I first started
practice, I thought only major effort could moves the mountains of blockage
that I felt. Anything less, small
mindfulness practices for example, were, I thought, stupid and not
effective. I remember the first
time I heard about the three breath meditation, which is to pause anytime,
anywhere, and breath three conscious breaths and relax, I thought “that can’t
possibly work.” Too insignificant.
It took me many years to see that these small things have a
profound effect. I have changed my
intention from a concept that I was going towards a future that had a “Great
Realization” in it, to an aspiration to have a “continuous line of immediacy” in my 24 hours. All of a sudden, these small practices
that you do amidst the daily activities of my life had much greater
significance. The small practice
of returning to a direct experience of this moment becomes a deep and profound
practice. This is it! The
repetitive regularity of a daily spiritual structure becomes even more
This practice period’s instructions are the basis for a
daily spiritual structure that can remind us of our true aspiration and our
true practice. I think this simple structure is really the basis for spiritual
life in all religions. A daily religious structure gives us the underpinnings
for truly being able to manifest the present moment of “just this!”
I admire the Muslim tradition of praying 5X’s a day. They also add the power of doing this
in community. The whole culture
stops and prays together. Wow. Or
in the Jewish tradition of the Sabbath, the whole community is bound together in
worship even though you are an individual family in your own home. As I am
doing the morning and evening bowing and chanting at home, my feeling is
empowered by knowing that all the people who have committed to practice period
are doing it too.
Keeping alive our intentions and working with the review at
the end of the day really focuses our mind to the task at hand and supports our
deeper vows. How easy to get
“tossed away” as Katagiri-Roshi used to say, with the stories and busyness of
our daily life. With this
structure, we are actually emphasizing our spiritual intentions and
Seize this day to express practice/realization. Don’t wait for a future time, which
strictly speaking, doesn’t exist.
Strengthen the “remember” part of the famous instructions – Remember,
Be, Here, Now.
Labels: Buddhist prayers, daily life practices, mindfulness, practice period