We had an all-day sit at Russian River Zendo today. As is usual with such events, there were so many layers.
On the positive side: It was gorgeous, sunny and crisp, especially pleasant for our two outside walking meditations. There was a nice cohesiveness to the group, a coming together, a forming of sangha that felt very nourishing. Everyone put themselves wholeheartedly into their service roles, whether serving tea or preparing the noon time meal.
On the less-than-perfect side: I have had trouble sitting lately, and my hips have grown very tight. As the day progressed, I was in more and more pain. I had to shift and move and reposition frequently, each time more self consciously. I struggled with wondering whether or not I was doing the right thing to continue to sit on the cushion, instead of moving to a chair. Was I simply being stubborn? Was I trying to prove something to myself? Was the level of agony in my hips so severe that I was about as far removed as possible from any kind of mindful meditation?
I was acting as doan for the day, which made it both better and worse for me. Better, because I was able to look at the time and calculate when I could reposition so that I’d be able to walk when I rang the bell for kinhin. Worse, because I always feel that in such a role I should be setting some kind of example of steadfastness, and today I felt anything but that.
Somehow, though, I managed to get through the day in good humor. The pain, thankfully, only affected my hips, not my mood.
When I returned home, I called my grandmother, Gladys, for one of our regular check-in phone calls. I told her about my day, explaining that I had been at an all-day meditation retreat. I said I my hips had been hurting because I was sitting on the floor. She said, “You need to get some padded pants.” I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t exactly like that, it was more the position I was in that was uncomfortable. She listened, asking more questions. “So how long did you sit?” I said, “From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.” She said, “All day?” I said, “Well, we have breaks. We have lunch, and tea, and take short walks.” She was quiet for a moment.
Then she said, “You know what you need. You need a pair of those football pants. With the pads built in.” I laughed and said, “I’m not sure that would look quite right.” She paused. “Well, you could wear them under your skirt.”
That visual just about did me in. Thank goodness for grandmothers.
We did continue our discussion, and came up with one other solution. Gladys is a seamstress, and she said she’d be happy to help me sew some support pillows. Not quite as fun as football pants, but equally full of grandmotherly love.