Zen Mediation Course session 10 – Time
Welcome to the final session of the course.
In this session, I’d like to talk a little about time, and the way the mind so often chases after the past or the future. We can spend a lot of time living in the past or the future while forgetting that we actually live in the present.
So, today, just be present. This is the essence of Zen meditation, the whole process of being present. However you feel right now, be it annoyed or sad or happy, be present with it. For the time that you’re going to sit, it is part of the experience. It will change in time, whatever you do.
So, take up your sitting position. Find your sitting ‘spot’ by swaying the body if you want to. Large circles to small ones, or from side to side. Feel upright, yet relaxed. Feel your body against the cushion, feet against the floor.
Bring your attention now to the flow of the breath, just being aware of the process of natural breathing, through the nose. Notice the sensations as the breath enters and leaves.
If your mind wanders, what distracts it? Could be something you’re going to do later on. Or something someone said to you yesterday. You can spend hours caught up in how things were, or how they’re going to be. Meanwhile, you’re living right now on auto-pilot. This meditation space allows you to experience the flow of the present. Let the past and the future take care of themselves for now, and stay with the breath. Just simply be here.
Time is a strange thing. Events in the past can have a dream-like quality, almost like they happened to someone else. The future is creating itself with every passing moment. So where is now? How long is now? Now is changing with every moment. But ‘now’ has a flow to it. People talk about being ‘right here, right now,’ and ‘in the zone’ as though it’s something out of the ordinary. Like we need to be reminded. Just sitting like this gives us the opportunity to notice the flow of now by just being present. So let’s continue to do that.
Those thoughts that come into your mind are all a part of being present, too. You can notice them and let them go. Your mind is bigger than the thoughts. When you don’t chase the thoughts it becomes easier to experience that natural spaciousness. Like opening a door into a bright sunlit day.
When you sit like this, there is nothing to do. There is nothing to acquire. There is nothing to strive for. If I say you should sit in such and such a way, you may grasp at that as something to be achieved. Yes, there have been instructions on sitting, being aware of the body, and breathing. But to grasp at some perfect way of meditating is not the point of practice. It’s all very simple really. You just need to turn up, and be present. Let’s carry on doing that, now.
There’s no need for expectation in this practice. This is difficult for many of us because we’re so goal oriented. But an expectation is something else we grasp at and aim for, and when it comes to just sitting there is nothing to aim for. From the Zen perspective, when you become a Buddha it will be because you uncovered something that was there all along. We’re all Buddhas, already, so in a sense there’s nothing to achieve. Let’s sit a bit longer, then we’ll finish.
Just let go now and let the mind do what it wants. Take a few seconds to consider how it felt, today. What the experience was like, today. And when you come back to meditate again it can be like picking up on that experience, getting into that space again, which you’re now becoming more familiar with.
I hope you’ve found these sessions enjoyable, and useful. Giving yourself permission to simply step back and centre yourself with meditation for ten minutes every day is a worthwhile practice, and I hope you’ll continue to work with it. Thanks for listening and goodbye.
”Giving yourself permission to simply step back and center yourself with meditation for ten minutes every day is a worthwhile practice.