I was born with a congenital hip dislocation on my left side, so when I started to sit, it was challenging for me to do even half lotus. My Chan teacher, Venerable XX, was very careful to not push me too hard. All she asked was that I sit a little bit longer every day.
And so, that’s what I did. Starting with half lotus, I worked to distract myself so as not to unbuckle. Watching YouTube, listening to music, talking to friends … you name it, I tried it. And ever so slowly I was able to push my half lotus from ten minutes to almost an hour, just by adding a half to full minute every day.
I started to sit because I have a very stressful job in a hospital. Since Covid, the stress only got worse. I tried guided meditation but stopped making progress in a very short time. After a trusted friend told me about Chan, I decided to give it a try. The pain was unexpected. But if I was to really get anything from it, I was going to have to give it my all.
Initially, I couldn’t understand Master’s talks. Yes, he was funny, but I truly had no idea what he was talking about. I knew nothing about Buddhism prior to this. Then one day, struggling with pain, nothing that had helped before was working. Desperate, I found a video of Master and suddenly, I got it! I understood every word he said. “Enduring the pain builds blessings,” he said. “To make progress, you must not quit!”
And just like that, by not quitting, I made progress. I was able to sit in full lotus after just a couple of months. After practicing Chan Buddhism for one and a half years, my new record is four hours!
Does it still hurt? Oh, yes. It hurts like hell. Yet I was able to experience extreme blissfulness after the extreme pain. When I felt I was at my breaking point, unable to continue, BOOM!, the pendulum swung the opposite direction. Plus my energy/ focus/ emotions/ recovery time are the best they’ve ever been in my whole, entire life.
But don’t take my word for it, try it! Check it out. Walk the walk and you will receive your unique Chan “gift.”