Zen Confessions time...I love stories.
Izzat so wrong?
sitting, one approach to clearing the mind is to recognize when the
monkey brain has bounded off in a new direction. Then simply name the
line of thinking, and recenter on the counting. Usually I find myself
spinning on some aspect if life, or how it "should" be but isn't, how it
was and will never be again, or how I wish it hadn't been. Recognizing
the drift, I name it "story" and come back to center.
an English major and someone mad for narrative, I have noticed that if I
have been reading any time close to the moment I get on the meditation
cushion, there's even more sludge than usual to wade through before mind
settles down. I have an extra layer of story, usually fiction,
sometimes biography or research all fresh and interesting to contemplate
instead of getting down to brass tacks.
through a turbulent sargasso, I feel like I have to push these seaweed
distractions to each side as I swim down to a more tranquil depth. At
the same time I know it shouldn't matter whether the story is "my"
story, or someone else's, as long as I am mindful of whatever comes up.
Does not stop me from reading, however.
feeling ill, my old standby since the fifth grade was to stack the
books high by the bed, and read, sleep, eat, repeat until I felt better.
Since I've been hammered with the adrenal burnout,
I've spent weekends (and once almost two weeks) just reading, hoping
that the down time will help me recover. What I am discovering is that
in fact, anything too emotionally compelling is actually more of a
strain than I should be putting myself through right now. Evidently,
everyday life with two kids and two cats in the house plus work has
enough stress without adding more.
So...spending a lot
more time reading facts & research, learning about the body and
nutrition, health topics, and in the evenings, Zen sources.
one of those last night, Deshimaru's Way of True Zen (thanks Pigasus
for the recommendation), I recognized that a great deal of how teaching
is effectively transmitted is through metaphor, comparison, and quick
narrative sketches. In other words, stories. In this case, stories to
help us wake up, as opposed to those simply meant to entertain or
But don't the best stories both engage us to
the point we forget ourselves, and then plop us right down in the
middle of significant recognition and resonance? The ones I love most,