Part Time Zendrome

On the cushion, alert to attention drifting
or being absconded
—it’s hard work
using breath as anchor
tagging when attention strays…
simplistic, perhaps, yet the only specific meditation
the Buddha ever taught was this:
to be aware when breathing in that we are breathing in,
and out when out
and holding when holding

Each time I forget, pulled into thought or feeling
or a pool of memory
I slide a bead on a mala
and start again with thumb on a new bead
fresh attention returns with the breath
yeah, just try to pull me away now, see if I move!
…and there I go
…next bead. try again

soon one may notice there is bleed-over
during the day we may be aware
of being caught up in thoughts or feelings
more frequently
and we realize we don’t have to be
we don’t have to push away or resist
just being aware, of this thought, this feeling
and suddenly, we are no longer thinking “from” the thought
or wrapped in a feeling
the thought thinks itself
and is heading out of the station
with a whole train of thought cars attached to its wake
and we can just stay here at the station
another train will be by shortly to test us again
until we master this

but we can also be hijacked
like when a thought thinks it’s all zen in distancing from other thoughts
but this detachment and indifference is not zen
it’s just attention abducted in another thought
and this sleeker, woker bullet train of special privilege
is just another train
that left the station with us stuffed inside
but we gradually learn, down the track
the merit of being formless

and so goes the day to day
of practicing mind
a mixture of real and false awakenings
mostly sleepwalking
but the discipline of releasing thoughts
on the cushion
seeps into the day
in curious ways and moments
and begins to bloom into pockets of iridescent freedom
…so we’ve got that going for us