Buddhism, Zen, Zen practice

Every Movement of Hand and Foot

(Painting by Gülcan Karadağ)

“Every movement of hand and foot creates a new breeze.”  A Zen master offered this hopeful observation.  Every single moment, in every situation, brims with freshness and originality.  I also take the quote literally to say that we stay aware of our bodies. Every movement of hand and foot gives us the chance to be awake.

Just as breathing is a way we stay mindful with our bodies, we also pay attention to our posture.  Posture is a major part of our zazen practice.  We keep upright, relaxed, and vibrant throughout our meditation.  It is not “I” or “Richard” sitting in zazen posture.  It is just sitting.

We maintain mindfulness in our posture at all other times, as well.  When we are standing, we know we are standing.  When we are sitting, we know we are sitting.  When we are lying down, we know we are lying down.  Nobody in particular is doing it.  It is just standing, sitting, and lying down.

It seems so simple, but it is the very foundation of mindfulness.  As Buddha said, we contemplate the body externally and internally.  We keep our practice and our understanding inside and outside of our body.  When we sit in our chair at home, it is different from sitting in the chair at the dentist’s office.  What is going on inside of me and outside of me in each of those situations?  Standing in front of someone who is angry or sad is different from standing on a diving board. What goes on inside and outside?  Lying down on my bed with a good book is different from lying under a hot sun on the beach.  Inside and outside!  All opportunities for mindfulness practice.

And through it all, we live in the world without clinging to anything.


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