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body practice

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It’s eight in the morning and raining. The garbage truck is making stop-and-go rounds, day light still dull, teenagers texting their way to the nearby school, and I’m getting dressed for the weekly running group in preparation for the 10K race in four weeks. Reluctantly.

I’m reminded that running for eight kilometres this morning will strain my body, but that in Zen terms “body practice is not exercise.” As Daido Loori explains,

Body practice is nothing other than washing the face and cleaning the body; it is urination and elimination; it is cooking food and eating a meal; it is healing sickness, actualizing birth, practicing life, realizing death.

Turns out that I’ve been in body practice all along: while sleeping, waking up, noting the start of a new day, hearing the garbage truck, washing my face, and brushing my teeth … making tea and eating four almonds … looking for an extra layer of running gear and lining up the shoes at the door — essentially mindless  activities, performed half-asleep in reliance on routine. Time to fall awake! Everything is practice.

text: Loori, J. D. (1992). The eight gates of Zen: spiritual training in an American Zen monastery. Mt. Tremper, NY: Dharma Communications, p. 159. image:


One response »

  1. Such a good reminder. Thank you Peter.


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