Newsletter Summer 2013 – Zuowang

There are several nice articles out there about Zuowang meditation practice.  Articles that explain that one sits and forgets (self, separateness, etc) or sits in what Livia Kohn describes as ‘sitting in oblivion’.  For a beginner mediator this terminology may not be very helpful since they may be challenged by simply “sitting”, period.  The mind racing about with a seemingly endless stream of thoughts arising. Various sensations such as an itch or twitch or an ache here or there all seeming to ask for attention and with this a reaction.  So, the beginner meditator reacts by scratching the itch or adjusting their body to relieve the discomfort. Thoughts may form around these sensations, and the cycle of monkey mind continues.
I have sat with intermediate mediators who shifted their body in response to sensations. How can they have stillness in mind if they are not having stillness in body? To advance in meditation, to truly sit in Zuowang, one practices stillness of both body and mind.  So, here is what I tell beginning mediators:  When a sensation arises, watch it without reacting to it.  Just simply sit with it.  Observe how the sensation changes and then vanishes.  It’s the same with thoughts.  Just simply watch them arise and pass. Keep practicing, noting the sensation and not reacting to it.  Just watch.  With ongoing practice, the mediator is able to sit for short periods and then longer periods without making bodily adjustments.  In doing this sitting still practice, one is also training the mind in stillness.

Written by Priest Tina Hamilton

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