Sunday, January 29, 2006

Taking zen to the next level

Zen meditation is all about being able to be in the here and now, without being distracted by jumping from one thought to another. The latter is what your brain is doing most of the time. If you don't believe that, try to stop your thinking for half an hour. And that's without sleeping off course!

Stopping the thinking, or at least tempering the mind is a daunting task and progress is made with baby steps. No, make that rabbit steps. At most.

Since our house is more than 50 years old, we still experience the fact that (sound) isolation was a low priority after WWII. That's not handy while meditating. I once heard a complete episode of the GTST soap opera from the floor below, while I was doing zazen (sitting zen)!

So then I'd start yelling "I'M GOING TO MEDITATE NOW!" to Ester on the floor below. Not a tranquil way to start a meditation session. So I tried the official way. I bought a (very) small zen bell. Well, it's more a kind of a bowl. And a small one too. I couldn't get enough noise out of that little thing, so I had to hit on it several times before ester heard me. Most of the time I hit it that hard that fell from its cushion. But then I discovered a new technique to hit it in such a way that it gives so much noise that you won't believe it's coming from that little thing.

Larger bowls are even harder to hit right. It's so easy to hit it too hard or too soft that you have to be concentrated when hitting a large bowl gently. Since you have to hit it 2 or three times you also have to make sure that the volume is each time the same. As you see: you can meditate with everything. Even with a very small brass bowl.