No Good Meditation – a reflection by John Backman

No Good Meditation


6:10 a.m. Semi-lotus, hands in lap, eyes front. Focus soft. Chin tucked. Go.

Sitting. I am sitting.

That’s what Zen masters tell us to focus on. Wait, no, there’s no I involved. Just sitting.


I shall have shredded wheat this morning. Sumatran coffee. Drifting. Hurt’s still there. Wonder if I can ever forgive them. Or myself, when I look in the mirror. I look in mirrors and see a woman’s eyes. Eyes, window to the soul. Cliché. Come back.

I am sitting.


On my forearm: stink bug? They’re in the house. Sit, goddamn it.

Sitting. Sitting.

Sitting zazen. Zazen eases depression, said that magazine. Send them one of my essays? No, not shredded wheat: the new Kashi cereal I picked up. Maybe a combination. With coffee.


Come back. Glance at the clock. Five more minutes. Must hurry. Sitting. Sittingsittingsitting.

No, not like that.


Bow. Up. Creak to my feet. Bow thrice: to Buddha, to Jesus, to Thérèse of Lisieux—my BFF, Catholic saint extraordinaire, who said, “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”

Wonder what she meant by good. Maybe she looks down from heaven and sees what I’ve done here and thinks bad. Yeah, but this is zazen: no good, no bad, just is. At least I’ve learned that much.

I think.


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A writer, speaker, and spiritual director, John Backman writes about ancient spirituality and the unexpected ways it can affect postmodern life. This includes a book (Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart) and personal essays in such places as Tiferet Journal, Amethyst Review, and Belmont Story Review.

1 Comment

  1. Mark Tulin says:

    Humorous and insightful.


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