Meditation on the road.

I have been meditating regularly for quite a few years now. I usually sit Zazen (Zen meditation) for 1 hour most mornings.
Dawn is the best time for me. There is something about the stillness and the quality of the light first thing that I find very conducive to quieting down and settling into a deep stillness.

There are many different types of meditation and many reasons for meditating, from simple relaxation and de-stressing, to cultivating mindfulness, to completely changing the way you experience the world.

Which ever type of meditation you practice, the most important ingredient is consistency. It is far better to develop a regular daily practice of 10 or 15 minutes than to sit for 1 hour once a week.

This all gets a little more tricky when we travelling on the road.

If it is a fine morning I will sneak outside as quietly as I can. I have a small rubber mat and a zaffu (meditation cushion) that I use when traveling. I have sat amidst a wide variety of environments from picturesque streams to truck stops.
I think my favourite place is when we are on the coast and I just walk down to the beach, pile up a low mound of sand, and sit on that.

Sitting in holiday parks is usually more interesting. People are always up very early, walking their dogs or going for a shower or packing up their rigs. Depending on where we were located I used to feel very self conscious sitting in meditation posture whilst people are up and about all around me. But now I simply sit up close to Ripley (so I don’t stand out quite so much) and just settle into it all.

When the weather is bad (and Ripleys awning is not out), options are limited. Although Ripley is fairly large, she was not designed to have people sit around on her floor. I can just about fit in snugly between the two bench seats. It’s tight. The real issue here is that the moment I get up and go sit down, Juno thinks it’s a signal that round 1 of the wide world of dog vs man crazy-wrestleing has commenced.

Full contact mixed-meditation battles aside, I find that by far the biggest problem for me maintaining a regular sitting practice when travelling is a mental one. Filling our day with road tripping and sightseeing and hiking around all over the place in the fresh air, and then tapering that off with an occssional sundowner (or two) seems to be exceedingly conducive to a snuggly late sleep in most mornings.

Do I get up now and go outside into the cold to sit? Or do I lay here snoozingly until Kellys bladder inevitably forces her to get up at which point I can wrangle a cup of tea in bed.

Scattered mental activity and energy keeps us separated from each other, from our environment, and from ourselves. In the process of sitting, the surface activity of our minds begins to slow down. The mind is like the surface of a pond—when the wind is blowing, the surface is disturbed and there are ripples. Nothing can be seen clearly because of the ripples; the reflected image of the sun or the moon is broken up into many fragments.

Out of that stillness, our whole life arises. If we don’t get in touch with it at some time in our life, we will never get the opportunity to come to a point of rest. In deep zazen, deep samadhi, a person breathes at a rate of only two or three breaths a minute. Normally, at rest, a person will breathe about fifteen breaths a minute—even when we’re relaxing, we don’t quite relax. The more completely your mind is at rest, the more deeply your body is at rest. Respiration, heart rate, circulation, and metabolism slow down in deep zazen. The whole body comes to a point of stillness that it doesn’t reach even in deep sleep. This is a very important and very natural aspect of being human. It is not something particularly unusual. All creatures of the earth have learned this and practice this. It’s a very important part of being alive and staying alive: the ability to be completely awake.–Zen Mountain Monastry.

Zen Mountain Monastry.

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