Sunday, November 28, 2010


Right now I'm sitting on an old wooden kitchen chair in the no-man's-land between my living room and dining room portions of the main room of my first floor. I also happen to be in front of an antique mirror that used to hang on my grandmother's wall, so every time I look up from the screen I see myself, which is admittedly odd. Sitting here, now, I am trying to unravel the effects of sitting more formally earlier.

The past couple of months have found me returning to the local Zen meditation group, which meets every Sunday night in the basement of the Unitarian church in town. I have attended this group on and off for years, but the last time I stopped it was for much longer than before. I get something out of sitting with this group, even though I'm not entirely sure I'd absolutely call myself Buddhist, but sometimes I get too close to things I'd rather not examine and I find myself running. I want to get past that.

Sometimes when I sit I can tune into my breath and fall into whatever space it seems meditation should tip you into at least for a few minutes at a time. Most often, though, all I really discover is just how noisy my brain really is and how much energy I devote to thinking about mundane and trivial matters.

Tonight I found that I had to sit with my eyes open -- I usually prefer to close them for the bulk of the sitting period -- because every time I closed them I found myself welling up and stifling sobs. I couldn't put my finger on any one source of upset, and as long as I kept my eyes open it wasn't a problem. My best guess is that I need to take a look at the ongoing sources of stress and anxiety in my life and try to figure out how to resolve them.

The anxiety I feel when I look up and catch a glimpse of my 40-year-old self in the mirror has less to do with being 40 and more to do with still trying to figure out how I've managed to disappear into myself and what I need to do to break the surface again. Sitting with the questions, formally and informally seems to be one way to get there.

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