Today’s “assembly” was a Zen “sitting” for beginners. This was an event meant to bring freshmen together with professors and staff and it did. I enjoyed it and enjoyed the stray thoughts that the luxury of ninety minutes of guided meditation brings. What was it like? It was slightly more stressful than a Quaker meeting (because you have to sit in a special way—though I opted for chair and not cushion) and slightly less (because you never have to talk or worry that the spirit is not so moving you).

I found myself charmed by the teacher (the roshi)’s humility and his utter unwillingness to “sell” Zen practices to us. This was a step up from the proselytizing I remember from meditation practices in Seattle in the seventies. So, I found myself remembering the guided visualization I did during drama class in the gym at the Orca School. (I kid you not.) At the time, I hated those moments, on the floor, eyes closed, listening to a record of whale sounds. (Again, you may think I jest unless you, too, remember Seattle or Seattle-like places in the seventies.) But, I must have liked them or been moved or impressed by them because I remember them vividly. And that memory always takes me to a purely happy one, of my Creative Dramatics Class, years earlier, in the basement of the University District Public Library. At the end of every class, we got to pick out a couple ribbons and pretend to be sea anemones by running around in circles waving the fabric. That is about the most fun I have ever had. I was four.

I also shocked myself almost to giggles with my own small vanities, thinking “she’s not very good at sitting still”; “she needs to turn that phone OFF”; “he certainly seems to be concentrating”; “boy, my hands are stubby.”

During a moment of questions, one young man asked what to do with the thoughts that come during a sitting.

You must endure them, came the answer.