Sitting Wobbly


"When walking, just walk. When sitting, just sit. But above all don't wobble!"

 Yunmen (964-949)



It sure is wobbly here
upon this cushion.
Like a baby
learning to sit up,
There’s a lot more action
than you’d expect.
There are stories
of Zen masters
who died
upon their zafus,
And they didn’t fall over.
They sat in their repose,
lifeless.
Maybe it’s easier
when you aren’t breathing,
to be still.
Right here, every breath
seems an earthquake.
Every beat of this heart
tips me over.
The blood in my veins
is a cascade.
Shaking, slumping, sagging,
I flicker like a candle
Ever adjusting
Back to upright.
How do I align with gravity?
How do I live in the forest
and be the space between the trees?

Tom Barrett


In meditation we may sit very quietly, and yet we are constantly moving. Though we may seek to be still, we must breath, our heart must beat,  and energy courses though our body as long as we are alive. When we are very quiet, we notice this. We are not lifeless, nonmoving stumps. We, like the candle flame, must always adjust. We may wish to sit still like a mountain, still even a mountain sags in its own time.

This awareness of wobbly interaction with gravity and the powerful flow of juice and energy in us is different from the  unaware fidgety way we usually sit. On the meditation seat there is no twiddling of fingers and tapping of feet. Shifting around is kept to the minimum. The intention is to be quiet, aware and still.

When we turn off the TV we can hear the wind blow and the birds sing. When we sit in meditation, we can hear the chatter of our thoughts,  and we can disengage from them. We can become aware of the space between thoughts. We can learn who we are and what we are doing here.


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