Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Wheel of the Dharma Turns and Turns

I used to say, somewhat flippantly, that I had had more zen moments on a bicycle than on a zafu, but I don't know that I would try to claim that these days. Nevertheless, my practice energy has been a little diffuse this week, and a lot of this has to do with bicycle-related activities. On Tuesday I spent a couple of hours down at Ocean Beach at the start of the Tour of California; I waited by the sign-in stand, and had many of the world's best cyclists passing by a couple of feet away, so I happily took photos. The mood at events like this is always relaxed and upbeat. Simultaneously in Europe, the Giro d'Italia has been entertainingly unpredictable this year, and I have been watching streaming video of some of the stage finishes after breakfast instead of studying. Then today, just to prove that all conditioned phenomena are unreliable, there were potentially explosive allegations made by Floyd Landis about riders and doping practices.
If there is anyone reading this who is not regularly reading Trevor's blog, I wanted to highlight this excellent recent entry. There isn't much I could add to this; I had a similar conversation recently with someone, and I said that moving wasn't a problem, but I had to really insist before the other person believed me.
The problem with deciding to write something here after dinner is that I can easily spend afternoon zazen polishing prose in my head, which I would call moving without moving. I have many ways of doing this. I might seem still from the outside, but there is a lot going on. I used to think that sitting zazen was a matter of parking my body on the cushion while I got to work on some mental afflictions - or more frequently, got carried away enjoying them - but eventually I figured out that the two things are related. A few years ago I started noticing how I would get a little tighter across the top of the chest whenever I started thinking, and I have had many occasions over recent years to feel how emotionally charged times lead to tension and pain, which for me manifests in the base of the spine and the hips. Right now my body is more or less settled, so I can work on some of the more subtle habit patterns, like noticing when my right shoulder moves forward and upward. I can also do this when I am riding my bike; if my ride is not too physically demanding, I can pay attention to lifting my chest and relaxing my shoulders as I pedal, and notice which muscles I am using as I climb a hill. Now that the sun has reappeared after the unseasonably late rain, I can look forward to some joyful moments out on the roads this weekend. And perhaps some joyful moments on the cushion before then.

1 comment:

Nedd said...

Bike and Zazen. Ahhhh. How related. I also do my fair share of "bicycle zazen" kind of a moving while not moving thing, but in reverse (body moving to get the mind not-moving). I ride everyday about 20 miles round trip commute after my morning zazen, so I get the whole moving while not moving thing or the not moving while moving - or whatever. Isn't all zazen? Isn't that the point?

And poor Floyd. I do feel badly for him. Talk about being bound up by the deisres. I hope he can figure it out. Thanks for your comments. Enjoy the ride on the bike or wherever you find yourself....