Had to go to the office early this morning, so no sitting to start the day for me. Have to wait until tonight.

Which is exactly how my practice has always been, since the very beginning. And which is how this « retreat in the heart of life » came to be: It was/is a direct result of my own direct experience of my early years of practice, when I had two very young children and was living with my teacher and a few other students in the new Zen « center » that we were creating here in Montreuil.

Let me explain:

In those days, I had a baby son and a young daughter, a job and a partner, and we all lived in the « center, » with the meditation hall upstairs and my teacher in the room next door. I could not regularly sit or practice with the others, however, because I had children to feed and care for (sick or not), work outside the house plus work inside the house, a relationship…

I often had to sit by myself, either alone in my room long after the others had finished, or next to my daughter as she fell asleep at night (as someone said he did today in the comments!). Often I felt painfully excluded from the practice, isolated, so far, far away from my teacher (in the next room) and the sangha.

One morning as I sat alone, crying and feeling sorry for myself, I suddenly realized that THIS was my practice, right there, me on the blue carpet in my room with the baby asleep on the bed. How could I be excluded from this? How could I be isolated from this? I was always in the heart of my own practice!

More and more I learned from that experience, deepening the realization that my practice was in fact not difficult: I didn’t have a choice, there was no other place or way for me to practice than right where I was, in the heart of my life.

Which is true for all of us, whether we see it or not (sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t).

This week, may we realize it all together.