The practice of Zazen and Zen Buddhism shouldn't "take a break" while we're sick, or having a rough time, or even when we're having a great time. Its very nature exists all the time. Yet, I've been grappling with it for the past couple of months due to some medication that I've been prescribed.
The medication has changed me. And it makes me wonder what the whole point of zazen and meditation is when we can simply take a pill, and well, we're different. What is this "me" that has changed? And if I'm so easily chemically manipulated, what's the point of making effort be awake?
Another side effect of the medication is that it sometimes makes it very hard to concentrate, and sometimes I get dizzy and disoriented. It almost feels like being drunk or high.
One of the tenets of zen buddhism is to avoid substances like alcohol and drugs, which alter our perceptions. Yet, I have to take these drugs, prescribed by a doctor, which do that very thing. How can I think clearly and be present when I've been altered?
I've been grappling with this, like a zen koan. There is no answer. The question itself has been my meditation practice for the past month. When I'm driving or walking or simply sitting, I breathe, and go around and around without end on this question - does taking personality altering medication effect my zen practice?
My zafu pillow is lonely. My yoga mat is starting to gather dust. My bed pillow is getting a permanent dent in the middle. Pre and post sleep are my meditation times, when my body is too tired to move, yet my mind is spinning and floating in a semi-awake haze. I breathe, and relax, and let the medication do its work.
There is something to be learned from this, but I don't know what. I continue to breathe and bring myself as much as I can to the present moment. And when it's all over, perhaps, I'll be able to see the path I have tread, and understand then where I my experiences were leading me.