Zen & Dharma

I am watching my breath

I imagine my mind as a door: a light screen door, swinging back and forth in a gentle breeze. The breeze is my breath, blowing in, blowing out. My mind is the swinging door.

I am watching my breath.

There’s a deep pain in my hip. My stiff neck. A conversation with my old lover, replayed yet again. All those people I need to remember to email. An idea, a burst of creative brilliance! Tick, tick…how much longer until the bell? Wondering. Impatience. Tightness in my chest. Patterns behind myeyelids. Itchy spot near my eye. My heart, my heart beating loud.

Outside: a raven caws. A car drives by on the road. Across the room someone coughs. Cloth at my neck, soft and warm. The man beside me smells of garlic. Raindrops spatter on the roof.

The wind blows. The door swings back and forth, between inside and out.

But: the door has no wall, it is only a frame. Flies make figure-eights around the doorframe, in and out, over and around. Grass grows all around and under the door. The sky extends overhead, unbroken. There is no wall. The door is a trick.

I raise my eyelids a crack: a narrow band of pale carpet, edge of black mat, vision a permeable membrane. My stomach rumbles. A woman shifts uncomfortably. Her knee hurts. My knee hurts. Her knee hurts. My knee hurts. Rain falls harder on the roof, rain falls into my fantasies and obsessions. Clench in my gut tastes of fear, smells of white, feels the sweet waft of incense from the altar, a door slams down the hall. Fish jump in the lake, airplane engine overhead, my thoughts, my plans, my memories. Me thinking about me thinking about the rain. The rain. A ripple smiles upward from the corners of my mouth, shifting pattern of light on floor, dog barks, hand raises striker, bell rings.

In and out, in is out, out is in. The door swings open, the door swings closed.

And still. I am watching my breath.

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