The roshi (Zen master) who is taking us through our day-long Zen workshop today is warm, smart, sharp, has no problem using some choice profanity, trained in pyschology, and incredibly kind. And then he says this, with the unequivocal conviction of someone with over 35 years’ practice under his belt:
“When you sit in meditation, you still the body, which in turn stills the mind, because the mind and the body are really indivisible. You learn how to really concentrate. Which means, of course, that you then learn how to concentrate in your daily living. You become better at anything you do.”
Put this up against a very different workshop I attended not too long ago, the title of which might have been “101 Ways to Help Students Fart Around While Still Being Productive.”
We talked about using pipe cleaners as “fiddle sticks” for our tactile kids, allowing our kinesthetic kids to pace, teaching our musical kids to tap the pad of cartilage in front of their ear canal to make a soundless drum for themselves. I bought in. I still do.
And now I’m stuck.
You could argue with me about the suggestion that we should teach kids to meditate (although people have, with success). But no one’s going to argue that kids in school need to concentrate. So if, as Roshi suggests, the best means to concentration– true, genuine, concentration, with the focus of a lazer– is to focus and quiet the body, then are we doing these kids any favors by teaching them what may amount to a bucketful of ways to better suck their thumbs?