Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I had my first dokusan this morning, which you may or may not know is a formal discussion about your practice with your teacher. While that was pretty much about all it was, it was also a lot more.

I've known her now for almost nine months, but today was the first time I'd actually referred to her as "my teacher." It wasn't intentional, it just came out that way. Before it was always by name, or as "the teacher" or "the head teacher", but I guess the intimacy of this meeting changed that.

This wasn't the first time I'd discussed my practice with her so in a way it was comfortable, but the formality combined with the full attention of someone so experienced was intimidating. It was a very powerful lesson to feel myself as the focus of concentrated attention. In a way I could grasp onto the thought that if I practice longer, I too could posses such focus. But to do so would be to stop the mind and fixate on a goal. Instead I find it comforting to just know that it is possible to cultivate. If it happens, it happens.

For now, my practice comes fairly easy. I told her it's become a habit so the hardest part of just doing it is past me. From my experience with Aikido, I know that there may be plateaus in my progress, but my attitude is to accept them, to push through them. Practice is ongoing, I should enjoy the plateaus just as I should enjoy the easy spots for being comfortable and hard spots for what they can teach me. This caused me great difficulty when I tried to define what I considered ups and downs in my practice.

It was a little strange discussing my practice so openly since I usually try not to gush about it to other people who may or may not be interested and/or understand. After I'd left, I realized things I'd wanted to bring up or how I could have articulated something better. There'll be other times though.

I find the most difficult aspect of discussing practice is avoiding dualistic speech, judging and desires for its path. As these things came out, I knew what I was saying. Normally when I make some mistake similar to this and it's pointed out, I feel like I'm being told something I already know. Somehow when she pointed these things out, I still learned something else, something about how I perceived it.

All around it was a very pleasant experience. Sitting has had an observable impact on my life after such a short time. I'm happy to formally have a teacher and enjoy being a member of the sangha. It's nice to have a mirror that functions as both something to reflect what ideas you send out but also reflects similarities as well as setting examples of where practice can lead you.

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