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Calm Lake Meditation

May 28, 2012

by Stephen Damon

Tonight, our sangha will discuss “Mind Waves” from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Before our discussion I will lead a meditation based on what I heard at a Buddhist retreat a few years ago. I have made several changes so that it more closely expresses some of the points Suzuki Roshi makes in this chapter. If you sit with a partner, one of you can read it out loud or if you are sitting alone you can either familiarize yourself with it before you sit or you can read one paragraph at a time, giving yourself ample time to follow its instructions.

Part 1

Gently close your eyes from the top to the bottom and let yourself settle into the darkness and silence.

Now, picture a small lake. Notice how the calm, clear waters reflect the sky. Try to feel the calmness of the water with your whole body. Keep this image as clear as possible so that your relaxed attention can remain focused on it. Notice how this relaxed attention moves through your body.

If you find that thoughts and ideas begin to distract you, keep returning to the lake image until you can hold it steadily. It may appear as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer.

As you breathe in, feel a deep relaxation and awareness. Let that spread throughout your body: your chest, your abdomen, your back, your arms and legs. Feel a sensation of calmness filling your body. It may feel warm and full…Notice how your body feels right now. A current of warmth spreading…

As you continue to melt and relax into the calm waters of the lake, how do you feel in your body? Spend a few moments tuning into that feeling. How do your arms feel? Your skin? Your face? And how does your breath feel as you rest your inner or outer gaze on the glassy surface of the calm lake? Include that feeling in your awareness, and let it fill your whole body.

Calm lake, calm mind: they mirror each other.

 Part 2

Notice how your breathing helps you maintain your focus. Let your breath flow naturally in and out without pressure or strain. Let it be delicate and quiet. Think of your breath as mirroring and reflecting the glassy smooth surface of the lake. You want to breathe smoothly so as not to ruffle the waters.

Gradually let your attention shift, focusing less on the image of the calm lake, and more on this feeling of your breath, letting the feeling of the lake merge into the feeling of your breath. Your breathing has now absorbed the feeling of the calm lake. Let the feeling of calm abide and continue in your body and breathing.

Now, let everything go and return to the darkness. Feel yourself settle into the darkness and silence.

Now, gradually, open your eyes. Let everything in. Watch as you slowly rise to the surface to meet everything around you…and gasho.

Bows,

Stephen

From → Zen Buddhism

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