Post #2055: Autumn Zen


In the Zen tradition that I am involved with, there is a custom of intensified meditation and contemplative practice in the fall – known as Fall Practice Period – which opens this Friday. Beginning with a two-day non-residential meditation retreat (where we go to the Zen-do and meditate all day and into the evening, but return home to sleep), we craft the following six weeks around a self-designed program with the goal of deepening our commitment to zazen (meditation), sangha (community), and dharma (the teachings and philosophy of the Buddha). At the end of this time is a seven-day silent residential retreat with the head teacher, and then a closing ceremony.

For my period of practice, I have made the following intentions known to my teachers -as a way of holding my own intention out and asking for support:

  • increased daily meditation length
  • increased attendance at the Zen-do – although I can’t make many of the Sundays, I have committed to weekday early mornings and volunteered to help open the meditation hall if others are unavailable to do so
  • limiting intake of alcohol (not that I drink a lot – but you know how it is….)
  • attention to healthy life practice (food/exercise)
  • gratitude practice

I have also decided to undertake a craft project as a mindfulness practice – and since I already do a lot of handwork, I have chosen something that I don’t do a lot of – embroidery. As I bought the book and the materials for this project sometime ago, it also fits the criteria of using up items that I already have:

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This bag by Naoko Shimoda features the artwork of Heather Moore – for a piece that I think will make a good focus in October. I am going to try to prep the piece tomorrow so that I can focus on the hand-stitching starting next week.

The dress pictured above, is a nearly finished garment for meditation – the Cappuccino Dress which I wrote about here. I have some finishing work to do still – including seamwork, sleeve cuffs and hemming. I used a French seam where the dress allowed for it, and I am thinking of ribbon-finishing the other seams as an added touch. This is a way I think garments should be in essence – very simple in appearance, but with attention paid to the details that (mostly) only the wearer would notice. I’m going to the fabric store today at lunch to see if I can find some seam tape – otherwise it’ll be zig-zagged by tomorrow and ready for wear once I hem it.

And of course, all of regular life will continue during this time – work, the band practices, the family visits, a trip to Las Vegas (more on that later) – it’s not as though I am suspending it all to go sit on a mountaintop. Rather, I hope to bring a greater attention and ease to the work I undertake during this time. We’ll see how it goes!

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