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Thread: Where do you sit?

  1. #1

    Where do you sit?

    Gregor made a post in the bok club saying he enjoys sitting under a tree in a little park, and it got me thinking. From everything I have heard and read we are supposed to practice in a quiet room, facing a blank wall. How many people actually do this?

    While visiting my family for the summer I generally sit in the center of my old room, since it is the only floor space I can find. On days when it is not to hot I will find a nice shady space in one of the local parks, but those days are few and far between.

    So where do you sit?

  2. #2

    I usually sit in our guest room facing the wall. I must admit I haven't done zazen outdoors yet and must try that sometime.


  3. #3

    where do you sit

    At this time I sit in the living room of my apartment.
    I have a small cupboard which I use as a butsudan (small altar)
    There is also a lamp for the living room on the butsudan ('be a lamp unto yourselves).
    between the cupboard and the bookcase there is space for my zafu and pillows for my knees (my knees dislocate rather easily (!!!)so I find a pillow under each knee helpful to prevent this.
    When I am seated in front of this cupboard, the doors of the cupboard are a perfect 'wall' to face.
    I open my living room door--about 6 feet directly to my left.
    So I have the air and character of the day coming in to sit with me.
    Even in winter, I sit with the front door wide open. (I wear a wool cape--2nd hand store find, perfect for sitting in winter).
    In the beginning I just sat facing a wall on a zafu. I didn't sit every day, only once a week. I don't know when I started sitting daily.
    There was a period of time when I didn't sit regularly at all, when I moved and was looking for another group to sit with. Eventually, though, daily sitting became just the thing to do--there was no forcing. I sit for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. I sit with a group on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Sometimes, with my son's activities a sit or two on the weekend doesn't happen (usually it's the morning sit that gets scratched due to time constraints--but even then sometimes I will sit a few minutes (kind of like snacking on a handful of peanuts instead of a full meal).

    I really appreciate my slow growth. At this point it feels as if practice does me rather than I do practice. Sitting sits me.
    The beginning was not like that. I couldn't tell you why I persisted in continuing to show up to sit with a group and then only think about shoes the entire time ("should I buy the brown ones with the silver buckles? They really would go nicely with the green outfit and the black skirt--Or should I buy the dark suede?") I am not kidding. I sat in shoe purchase meditation for a number of months--as soon as my tush hit the cush it was 'shoe time.' But I continued to sit.
    Attending a zazenkai (one day sesshin) or a sesshin (a full one or as much of one as can be carved out of a busy life) is very helpful for getting into daily sitting.
    I believe I have gone on a bit further that the topic raised
    "where do I sit?" On my ass!!!

  4. #4
    Great Topic --- Thanks for creating it! I really enjoyed hearing about everybody's practice. I think this is a great way for us a Sangha to share with each other and discuss Zazen.

    As stated earlier I do sneak away from the Emergency Depatment, during my breaks and lunch to do Zazen outside in a little park we have on campus. It really helps me to settle myself and greet the rest of the day with a clear mind; regardless of what may lie in store when I return to work.

    At home I've turned the botton of a wall mounted book-self into an alter (candles, insence, a small Buddha statue, & water bowl). Underneath that I've spread a zabuton and will sit there usually using a seiza bench. I'll clean and refill the water bowl prior to each sitting, then gassho to the statue - - and sit down for Zazen. About half of the time I"ll have my laptop right next to me and be sitting along with Jundo's video.

    It seems to work well for my practice.

  5. #5
    When I practice the piano, I like to have the bench at a certain heigth, the light in just the right place and the metronome at hand. Of course, I can play anywhere there's an instrument, but I find that having a routine and a set place helps me get down to the matter at hand regardless of being in the mood or not. My flat in Tel Aviv has a large main room and a kitchen that opens out onto the quiet side of the building in a waist-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window. I used to sit there when I was first getting used to all the noise of my poor, working-class neighborhood. Now, I sit in the main room where my home altar is. The altar is atop a white dresser about a meter high, and since I'm sitting on the floor, essentially, I am facing a white wall. My sitting just got that much more comfortable thanks to Sean who posted patterns for sewing a zafu and a zabuton. Here are the results: I'm a graduate student at Tel Aviv University and more or less live in the library. I try to take a break mid-day to remember little things like, oh, oxygen. There's a grove of date palms between the biology building and the campus synagogue that I love to sit in. The more regularly I sit, the easier it is to sit anywhere.

  6. #6
    I don't have an altar. or even a Buddha statue.

    I sit at the far end of my computer room, facing the door. There are only 3 walls, none of them blank.

    Similar to Keishin, I also keep a window open at my back - I tend to feel quite hot while I'm sitting. But I keep a robe or blanket nearby as I get very cold as soon as I get up from zazen. (Apparently this is normal?)

  7. #7
    I sit in my office (I work at home), though I do try to sit outdoors sometimes (I live in the mountains, and it's quite nice, and very quiet). I don't have a room where I can go that is empty and that I can only use for sitting, which would probably be better. I also don't have blank walls.


  8. #8
    i sit where i am, i suppose, which sometimes changes daily and sometimes stays the same for a month or three.

    my zafu is sometimes a rolled up fleece blanket (that was my favorite and if i had owned it, i probably would've brought it with me) but more often a sleeping bag stuff sack with some dirty clothes in it. my zabuton is sometimes another blanket, sometimes a camp pad, sometimes the grass - i like to have something as my legs tend to fall asleep when pressing directly on the ground. they tend to fall asleep anyway, but not as fast.

    at the moment i sit at the foot of my bed, facing either a blank wall, the carpet, or a little makeshift altar which includes a favorite picture of a carved Buddha relief that i saw at a monastery in India, sometimes some incense, sometimes a few tea candles, and a cardboard box. or sometimes i sit in patrol headquarters during night ski (like tonight) as no one else is around - just me and the howling winds, banging shutters, etc. in Montezuma, Colorado the altar's on a cinderblock shelf and includes a plant and in Colorado Springs i usually sit on the deck facing a tree. in New Zealand i usually sat on my deck and stared at the grass. in Canada i sit wherever seems the most quiet and i won't be bitten by mosquitos. in Michigan i frequently sit in various places around the yard, but sometimes in the basement staring at the carpet (again, no blank walls). airports/airplanes i find tricky, so (as frequently applies), hats off to Jundo!

    i tried sitting with the computer but found it very distracting, so i try to watch Jundo's intros when i can but seldom sit with the computer, just with you all in spirit!

    gassho! cd

  9. #9
    I have a low shelf against one wall in my bedroom that I've made into a small altar. There's some tea candles (which I don't always light), a small wooden Buddha (one of those cheesy fat ones from a store in the mall; I like to think this helps me not take myself so seriously), and my mala beads. I have a handmade zafu and zabuton made from thick canvas which has been greatly sturdy for traveling. I sit facing the blank wall above my little altar.

    Like cd, I find it too distracting to sit with the computer, but I listen to Jundo's talks and then sit with the sangha in spirit.

  10. #10
    Member Martin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Wherever the next mediation is. Every now and then I make it back to Norfolk, England.
    I have a small buddha and two tea lights in a corner of my office at work, and the same at home. So I can sit wherever I find myself, which is good as my working hours are irregular. I sit facing a wall on a zafu plus zabuton. I was a little nervous of having them in my office, but people's reaction has always been positive and interested, and some have asked if they can sit with me. In which case one of us can end up sitting on a thick law book (I work as a Mediator). The Supreme Court Practice works almost as well as a zafu!



  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by aebaxter
    There's some tea candles (which I don't always light), a small wooden Buddha (one of those cheesy fat ones from a store in the mall; I like to think this helps me not take myself so seriously)
    Don't take this too seriously, but the "fat Buddha" statues are almost always Hotei, not the historical Buddha.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by paige
    Don't take this too seriously, but the "fat Buddha" statues are almost always Hotei, not the historical Buddha.
    Oh yes I'm aware, that's partially why it's somewhat amusing. Thank you for the link though.

    - Al

  13. #13

    My Zen pactice place

    I practice in my bedroom facing a small bookshelf that I have a Wlamart Buddha statue on. It also has a Japanese calligraphy brush and an incense burner. these are all just parts of the ritual nothing more... some days I sit on my back patiowhen its not oppressively muggy here in KC

  14. #14
    Hello all, as I'm not actually in the Soto tradition, I sit in my bedroom facing the floor. I drive a truck for a living, so sometimes I just meditate in my truck. Occaisionaly (very), I meditate in a park.

  15. #15
    Facing the floor???

    You meditate in your truck? I assume you don't drive at the same time. :-)


  16. #16
    In the truck, its called, Meditation in motion! :lol:

  17. #17
    During my (hopefully) daily sittings in my apartment "living room" (though even calling it that is a stretch, its a small studio thing) on an improvised zafu/stack of pillows. I've got a little Buddha statue (one of the standard mall variety with Shakyamuni touching the Earth) that I rest on top of my stereo speakers so that I can bow at eye level before sitting.

    When I have free time during a lunch break I'll sit outside. Like others have noted elsewhere, the sounds of daily life work as nice little mindfulness bells.

  18. #18
    Hi All,
    I sit in the middle of my living room as it's the only place in the apartment that has some floor space. I try to tidy the room up, otherwise, while I sit I'll only think of how messy or cluttered it is.

    I see that other people in the Sangha sit outside when possible. Sounds like a great idea to me, however, I can't think of a place around here that wouldn't be crowded with people. Besides, I'd be a little self-conscious about sitting "in public".

    I hope everyone is well,

  19. #19

    Although I sit outside quite a bit on the daily netcast, or sit facing the camera, I do not recommend either as the standard manner of sitting for most folks.

    I sit outside to make the point that inside/outside are all in the mind, that all walls are of our own making, and that there are no 'distractions' without a being 'distracted'. And I face the camera purely so I can keep watch on the Zendo and see how all of you are doing (you did not know that I can see you through the camera, huh? :shock: )

    However, the best way to practice, most times for most folks, is inside a quiet room facing a wall, I think. Once in awhile outside is good, whether by the side of a noisy highway, next to a fetid garbage dump, in a cemetery, on an airplane ... but as a contrast, and a special practice.

    Gassho, Jundo

    P.S. - I am pleased to report that the anti-earthquake, electrical and plumbing repairs on the Zendo (and out house next to it) will finally start July 17 and may be done in time for us to move in by the end of the month, Yeah. I mean, even though time is a state of mind, and we do not distinquish "good" from "bad", that is some VERY good news!

  20. #20
    I have a small bookshelf that would be a good height for an altar while I'm sitting. Unfortunately, my cats have laid claim to it. And I think the cats are pretty much guaranteed to win any tussles with a Buddha statue.

    Candles and incense are completely out of the question.

  21. #21
    I'm restarting my practice, so I'm really glad to have found this site last night. Sitting without a sangha just doesn't work for me.

    I sit in my basement office, facing a white wall, incense to my left, on a zabutan and zafu.

    By way of introduction, I'm a 59 y.o. United Church of Christ pastor living in Wisconsin. I've been interested in Zen for a long time and have practiced at different periods since living in S.F. for a few months in 1971. I'm not sure what else is relevent. I guess people can google or ask. Oh, for people living in San Diego, my uncles founded Niederfrank's Ice Cream in National City. All natural ingredients for over 50 years.

  22. #22
    Welcome Rev. Don

    Gassho, Jundo

  23. #23

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