Yearbook 2008


Nickolay (Bulgaria, 35yo, manager)

Ever since I got back from Antaiji this year there has hardly been a day in which I haven't thought about it, about the practice and the people. For me, Antaiji was a great school of dharma, discipline for the mind and living. As a matter of fact I built my daily schedule in a similar way, with early morning wake up, two periods of zazen and Ashtanga yoga every second day.

I have rearranged my eating habits too so that I dine in seiza on a little bench. I don't really chant but say a Buddhist prayer about food and some other important Dharma affirmations. I've developed a practice of "mindful eating", i.e. paying attention to the food, chewing, tanden and breathing throughout the process and I enjoy it very much. I certainly eat slower than we used to in Antaiji (wink). The pause between the bites (one breath) is also quite important since a misconditioned mind tends to skip it thus losing its awareness of the present moment. The experience of mindful eating itself and the feeling afterwards are amazing - it's like the body has absorbed the food instantly somehow.

One part of my approach is to build and continuously improve little effective procedures for everyday things, very much like in Antaiji, wherever appropriate. These procedures are printed out and placed around the house. They cover practical stuff like going through the bathroom morning and evening, how things are arranged, how to sit and stand, how to eat, how to drive etc. It's my wheel for re-conditioning thru replacing bad habits with more beneficial ones. Not to mention it's not only practicalities but Dharma stuff hanging on the walls that I want to imprint onto my brain. For example, I made a rule for myself never to sit with a bent back under normal circumstances. I try to be aware of my breath most the time. When driving I put a little lumbar pillow under my back so that it is straight. When alone in the car I use the time for mindfulness on the breath meditation which is a great way to develop mindfulness in everyday situations and especially while things happen and try to pull our attention away.

My evenings are also monastery style with early dinner and two periods of zazen before sleep. I must admit this part is harder to follow especially in a town that buzzes till late. Generally I find lay practice to be a blessing or a curse depending on the strength of the mind. When the mind is strong, focused and disciplined it's great to have the freedom to experiment and fine tune one's practice in accordance with one's own needs and preferences, but when the mind is weak and distracted that's the moment when you cry out for help from outside, from a teacher and a sangha. Sometimes I feel like caught between these two worlds, that of the monastery with its impossible simplicity, authenticity and perfection and that of lay life with its imaginary freedom, variety and rushing flows of life.

Yes, sometimes. Everything is sometimes. Thoughts, moods and mind states come and go. I may not know where my path goes through but I don't really care that much if I am able to build on my mind in this ever present moment.

Switch to Japanese Switch to French Switch to German Switch to Spanish