The theme of our Rohatsu Sesshin this year was continuous practice. My understanding of this is learning to take our practice into every aspect of our lives, instead of separating zazen from all other activities.
A sesshin is an ideal place to do this, because the tight schedule and focus on silence and routine remove many of those distractions of our ordinary lives. It is much easier to be mindful at a meal when there is no conversation at the table, simply a keen awareness of the food on your plate, the tastes in your mouth, and the sounds of humans eating.
Staying in the moment is more challenging after the sesshin has ended, when you must return to jobs, chores, and family life.For me, the "to-do lists" very rapidly create a mindset of worrying about the future, instead of staying right here.
In a dharma talk that Darlene Cohen gave during the sesshin, she referred to this quote from Dogen:
"Continuous practice, day after day, is the most appropriate way of expressing gratitude. This means that you practice continuously, without wasting a single day of your life, without using it for your own sake. Why is it so? Your life is a fortunate outcome of the continuous practice of the past. You should express your gratitude immediately. "
— Zen Master Dogen quoted in Enlightenment Unfolds edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi
I love this quote. I love the idea of expressing gratitude by practice. Darlene also said, during that talk, that it was our task nor to become a "better" self, but to become more fully who we are. It seems to me that these two ideas are integrally connected. Learn and become my own true self; practice continually in order to show thankfulness for everything. Two steps both incrediby easy and incredibly hard to follow.
Every moment of every day that I can create space around myself, a gap between input and reaction, a slowing down of movement, I am moving closer to active zazen, continuous practice.
What do you do to bring practice into your daily life?