Sometimes I find my daily sitting practice more of a chore than anything else. I get my large and somewhat lumpy pillow, place it in a corner of the room, sit myself down while keeping my shoulders straight and then sit for 45 minutes each early morning. That is the best time of the day for me to do this.
I sit and pay attention to my breathing while 1 001 distractions and agitations arise and pass away and come back and scatter in all directions. There are shards of dream. Envy about others, incidents I didn’t notice at the time but which made me envious, that carping bitter little feeling within. There is the desire to argue with others in my head, well out-argue them, leave them small and defeated by my forceful if arbitrary arguments. There is the creeping and many-faced fear coming in through the back door. There is regret — that ‘if only’ sensation of loss for what we never had, the self-reproach for under-achieving. So many of my failings have been sins of omission, things I failed to do. There is the same yellow-faced creeping fear sneaking up on me again. There is the odd fantasy about success and fame and money and doing something magnificent and superhuman all by myself. There is that old creeping shadow of fear again. And there is the quiet breath coming and going in my body.
This is one way of investigating the cogitating, feeling body/mind we call self. One way of doing an inventory just by sitting still and observing what comes up. Sitting practice is one of the best ways I have found to investigate what is going on in my Unconscious while stayed rooted long enough to feel the discomfort and pay attention to what causes it.
Today is a public holiday in South Africa and if the weather clears we might drive down to the coast and watch Atlantic rollers flying in to smash into spray and foam on black rocks. Two oceans collide off the bottom of the peninsula, Indian and Atlantic, cold currents meeting warm. Which makes for turbulent waters, hence the old name given by navigators, the Cape of Storms.
Sobriety takes patience and commitment. I’m hoping to walk along cold beaches looking out to sea, a briny wind clearing cobwebs and, as I walk and gaze at sea birds, gulls and sandpipers, taking time to slowly process the morning’s observations through the Steps.