In a thread recently there was debate about the merits or otherwise of public sitting. Clearly, this is not something to be done out of ego but does serve to make zazen more visible to the world. After all, seeing a mendicant was one of the 'four sights' reputed to turn Shakyamuni onto the path of dharma.
Anyway, in September I took advantage of a warm late summer/early autumn to take my lunchtime sit outside on a couple of occasions. I live in a relatively small apartment block (40 or so flats) in a rural village in southern England but was still somewhat self-conscious about doing this. My aim was not actually to be doing public zazen but merely to make the most of the sun before the weather got cold.
This morning I had a delivery of some jeans I had ordered for one of my daughters and the courier, who I know reasonably well, mentioned that he had seen me sitting and asked a few questions about meditation, whether I was Buddhist, if it improved my well-being and ability to deal with life and such like. Whether he will go and meditate I have no idea, nor I am attached to the idea of converting people to sitting. However, one thing I did learn was that seeing someone sitting gives people an opportunity to ask questions if they are already interested in the idea, or even just curious.
When I am well enough (and the weather turns nice again!) I hope to do something similar in a park in Canterbury, maybe with a dharma friend for company. A large open space like that is both lovely to sit in and also not in anyone's face. If someone is intrigued it may trigger them to find out more or even come and ask. Anyone interested in Christianity just has to turn up at their local church and I think it is good to give would-be meditators a similar opportunity. Aside from anything else, hopefully it normalises practice as something normal people do and not just sandal-wearing hippy types. Even if it achieves nothing, the park is a lovely space, and often has an ice cream van nearby