Learning to practice zazen is akin to learning a musical instrument. People have greater or lesser natural ability, but the thing that makes the difference is practice. In the sphere of practice, regularity is more important than quantity. If you want to taste the fruits of Zen, rather than just read or think about them, consider establishing a daily practice.
New students with us make a traditional commitment called “Sixty Days of Building The Foundation”. This is a commitment you make to yourself. You undertake to practice either twenty five or thirty minutes a day, every day for sixty days. You mark off on a calendar each day of practice and if you miss a day, you start again at day one.
Not only does this build a habit of practice which will stand you in good stead, it gives you a sense of where your zazen is leading you. Everyone has warmer and cooler days, but over one hundred continuous days you get a sense of the general trajectory of your work.
Once you’ve completed your sixty days, make sure you keep right on going!
Here are just a few rewards commitment can bring:
- It can give greater meaning to your life. Commitment to something larger than satisfying your desires can provide you with a sense of purpose, which can be very comforting and calming.
- It can make you feel grounded and provide a sense of identity.
- It can provide direction in your life.
- It can give you something to serve.
- It can help you mature emotionally and psychologically.
- It can provide a context for making decisions.
- It can prevent you from acting on unhealthy impulses.
It can unify your mind.
The Challenges of Sustaining Commitments
When you make a commitment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will reap the results you desire. The outcome of your commitment depends upon a lot of conditions that are beyond your control. Therefore, you aren’t committing to a certain result, you are committing to making your best effort. The rewards come from acting on your commitment.
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