mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF focused and blank

zazen rhymes with susan (sort of)

So far, 2007 has me pondering rather than producing. This week I'm trying meditation.

I was inspired by a New York Times article (12.31.06) on David Lynch "Hollywood's leading surrealist and eccentric" ("Eraserhead," "Twin Peaks" TV series, "Mulholland Drive").

"The word 'harmony' would make me want to puke... Meditation would be a sickening thing to consider, because you want that edge to create... I don't want to be a namby-pamby." Besides, he added, "you would get chicks when you're angry."

That all changed in 1973, when the future filmmaker discovered meditation, which he believes allowed him to quiet — and exploit — his inner demons. He said that he has not missed a day since.

I got his new book "Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity." He says:

Ideas are like fish.

If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you've got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They're huge and abstract. And they're very beautiful...

Everything, anything that is a thing, comes up from the deepest level. Modern physics calls that level the Unified Field. The more your consciousness — your awareness — is expanded, the deeper you go toward this source, and the bigger the fish you can catch.

His words fit my own experience of having to sink inside myself to find creative solutions. And the fish has become my symbol for one's heart's desire.

Lynch does Transcendental Meditation. TM is a trademarked product you have to pay to learn, so I went looking for other how-tos.

I zeroed in on zazen because I found instructions and always like the idea of being "zen" (whatever that means). The sitting and the abdominal breathing is like yoga, throwing in a hand position. Then, for beginners, you keep your eyes half open, focus on your breath, and count your breaths repeatedly from 1 to 10. "The only agreement that you make with yourself in this process is that if your mind begins to wander — if you become aware that what you're doing is chasing thoughts — you will look at the thought, acknowledge it, and then deliberately and consciously let it go and begin the count again at one." Seems easy enough.

I did two sessions with myself, crosslegged on the bedroom floor, with Indian music in the background. I was certain that in two minutes I'd be itchy and done with it. To my surprise, when the itchiness set in, 20 minutes had passed. Cool.

Nothing amazing has happened yet. No flash of enlightenment. But maybe I'll keep plugging away at it and see what happens.