Fear, Pain, and Absence

Today was a busy day. I was tired out and slept until 9:30, which was a nice indulgence since I haven’t felt like I’ve had enough sleep all week. It was interesting to compare notes with my co-classmates in the teacher training on Saturday; many of us have not slept at all well this week. JW, who also had slept poorly this week, told us that over the years she’s noted that for the few days before and after a full moon people seem to have their sleep disrupted. Of course I find myself writing this past 11PM tonight so I’m not exactly getting back on track!

AM made us coffee and toasted an English muffin for me for breakfast. It was nice to sit with him and share breakfast together. Then it was a rush to take a hot shower, which was worth it as it helped the ache I was feeling after the yoga workshop yesterday. I got ready and went to taught my regular Sunday beginning yoga class at the community center.

Z waited until all the other students left to speak with me. She told me that she once again enjoyed the class, that she enjoys every class. The ability to enjoy my classes comes from the space I create; she said that it is because I continually remind everyone to have compassion for their bodies and selves. To move to the point of intensity, stay with it, breathe into it, but to resist pushing past it. Z let me know that this allowed her to let go of judging her body & its ability and just do yoga.

Once again I found myself humbled by a student, by their complimentary words. Compassion is the foundation for my practice and the thing I hope students learn. I know how judging I am of myself, how difficult this practice is for me to apply to myself. It is so common to struggle with the Inner Critic that my teachers offer a weekend retreat on the topic at least twice each year. In order to help me learn more about this for myself, I try to encourage my students to cultivate compassion. To have a student tell me this exact thing is what helps her is really very special.

After this I hung out with DW and AM at the house until it was time to head out again. I popped by CK’s to gave Atari some food and love. Mostly he ignored me. Then off to the Dharma Center to co-teach the last class combining a physical asana practice with the contemplation of the last three Paramitas (perfections). Tonight MB and I read passages to call the students’ minds to the Paramitas Sila (ethical, skillful way), Dhyana (meditation, concentration), and Prajna (wisdom).

Then sitting zazen in the chilly zendo; 61 degrees, Fahrenheit and falling tonight. I’d forgotten my dinner and wrap at the house. AM surprised me by bringing my dinner during asana practice, but my wrap was something I missed all evening. When it was my turn for sanzen I went downstairs and talked with HB about my fear around my pain during sesshin.

He gave me several suggestions, like trying seiza (kneeling, I’ve avoided because of the surgery in my right knee when I was 19), drawing my mind to all the places in my body that felt fine, and when all else fails just standing on my zabuton. Beyond that, if all those things didn’t help during sesshin we’d just address it then. He did comment upon my fear over something so many months away. I noted in response that this fear has been eating away with me for two years and is truly the root of my resistance to sesshin.

I felt better after talking to him, less helpless. I went back upstairs to my cushion and began to inspect my body for what did not ache. I found it very easy to settle into the area of my digestive system and notice that my stomach, liver, spleen, kidneys, small & large intestines and bladder all felt absolutely fine, good really. The next kinhin period I spotted a passed seiza bench on the shelf, snagged it the next time I went past, and set it on my zabuton. For the last two zazen periods I sat seiza and found that my knee was OK. Even through the padding I felt the hardness of the bench on my left sitbone, however, I was able to get through the sitting period. On Thursday I’ll try using the bench with the gel pad I have.

Picked up DW after sitting was over and drove by CK’s to take care of Atari. He was happy to see me and rolled around on the carpet until I rubbed his belly for a while. I gave him some kibble and his pill, right as I was leaving CK sent me a message. At the house I phoned her and told her about the day.

I miss her. I wish I were there with her or that we were just in our usual routine. I don’t miss her like this, even when we’re not together, when she’s just a few miles away.

It isn’t that I don’t enjoy the time I’ve spent with AM and DW, time I’d usually be with CK, at her flat. I’ve really been glad to have the time with them. The time with them isn’t a replacement for time with CK, it is just good time with them. There isn’t some comparison or measurement. I just miss her. I feel the absence of her place in the humming and drumming of my daily life.

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