Monday, August 25, 2008
A sesshin means literally "a gathering of the mind." It is a period of intensive meditation, usually done in a zendo--a meditation hall. The daily routine requires many hours of meditation a day; during a sesshin, you devote yourself almost exclusively to zazen practice, which is simply sitting to peacefully meditate. The meditation periods are interwoven with short rest breaks and meals--all performed with the same mindfulness as meditating.
I'm engaging in a Zen coffee sesshin in the zendo of my office to mindfully finish writing my book, Zen Coffee:
A Guide to Mindful Meditation. I'm going to gather the thoughts in my mind and on paper together, and while drinking my coffee, work in a meditative frame of mind, taking time
for short breaks for meals, to walk my dogs, and cuddle with my cats.
I'll also be taking a break from posting on this blog so I can focus on my book. I'm going to sit zazen at my computer, meditating on the words, writing them, and growing them into a book.
While I'm finishing my book, maybe you'd like to meditate on the koan
of meditating by coffee. This was part of my first post: You may be wondering what Zen and coffee have in common and how to meditate
by coffee. How can caffeine and calm, poured into the same coffee cup create a peaceful state of mind and help you to mindfully meditate? How can coffee jazz your mind and bring you inner peace at the same time? Well, it's a koan... that's the nature of Zen.
A koan is a Zen Buddhist riddle, used to focus the mind during meditation; it is something that has no easy answer; it may be totally illogical in nature and it appears to be a paradox. A koan is a question that must be experienced in order to be understood. Zen and coffee don't seem to mix. Or do they? It seems they'd be completely opposite
to one another, but part of the mystery of the koan is that they are
truly in harmony.
What do you suppose the koan means? How do caffeine and calm mix together in a cup of coffee? If you're one of the first ten people to solve the koan, I'll give you a free copy of my book. If you're one of the next ten after that, I'll buy you a cup of coffee. If you're still wondering what the answer is, you'll have to wait until the book comes out. But I promise you, you'll engage your mind and spirit, and that's a much better gift you can give yourself than receiving a free book.