So, the Zen "thing"...

Been a while since I've written about my practice. I'm in a bit of an interesting place with it lately. It's sort-of in "summer love" mode, I guess you'd say. I'm not practicing as intensely as I'd been through the fall-winter-spring, but at the same time, I've noticed something very interesting to me.

Zen has permeated and informed my life in ways I hadn't realized. From the way I talk to the way I eat to the way I love, Buddhism--and Zen in particular--seems to have crept in everywhere. Any time I simply stop and drop into "observer mode", I see it. When I eat, I taste it, or feel it in my mouth. I look at food so differently now, and by "look", I actually mean the process of sight, and my ability to appreciate and assimilate something so (apparently) counter-intuitive as the sight of food. Why is looking at your food before wolfing it down so counter-intuitive? I mean, are we one step away from People Chow? Why is looking at and appreciating our food so back-seat to our experience?

Even the way I touch my partner is now something I have a hard time explaining. I've been given a practice by my teacher: be in my hands. Now, this is not to sound creepy or anything, but recently, I've heard him say this in my head while touching her. I was really stunned the first time. How could I have become mindless about touching someone intimately? How can we allow for something so very stunningly important to become so banal? So merely physical? I laid my hand across her chest, and was stunned to find her so unbelievably warm. It nearly blew me away.

And talking. Communicating. I have so much trouble with negative speech now. Harsh words, said in a way so as to make the speaker feel powerful or superior (read: "snark"). And yet I still find myself speaking this way from time to time. I try not to judge myself for it, but at the same time I do feel shame for wasting precious energy on words that don't matter, or worse, are sent out into the world with less-than-compassionate intent. More than anything, I simply feel bad for wasting time and energy that way.

So for me, Zen has become sort-of a stain: an ink used to trace out etchings like we did back in 8th grade metal shop. It is so fluid and of such low viscosity that it seeps into every nook and crevice, marking and delineating the finest details of my life. And not only does it seep in of its own accord, but due to its ultra-low-viscosity, it is readily drawn into any growing gap in my life as if by some sort of psychological or spiritual capillary action.

I am continually amazed and humbled by Zen, but more recently, this has given way to a simple and comfortable acceptance of this practice in my life. It's very much like the strong and week nuclear force, I suppose: You don't really notice it most of the time, but it's always there, doin' its thing to keep you together, even when the Universe is constantly trying to pull you apart...