1 year of Zazen by Veronica Liscano Canova

Veronica Canova

The 27th of January 2024 marked my 1 year of Zazen practice. Minimum 20 minutes, every single day, mostly in the mornings, sometimes after work. 

It all started with “Practical Zen” for me. The desire to meditate started earlier, but this was the book that made me determined. No matter what, I would meditate. 

In the past, meditation was something I admired other people could do, but when it came to me, I felt I was too restless, too scared of sitting with my thoughts, too stiff in my body, etc. These obstacles were somewhat true … I was very restless in the beginning, my mind felt like a scary place to be in, and I was certainly very stiff! However, once I fully understood and accepted that Zazen is exactly about working with our obstacles, that in fact those very obstacles can be the material for the practice itself, I no longer felt discouraged, I felt curious: what if I could actually do it? 

I journal after each session. I write down the time of the day, the type of meditation I’m doing (breath, unborn, guided/not guided etc), and my mental state before and after the practice. I also briefly log any important experiences I had in the session. It only takes 5-10 minutes, but it’s an essential part of my practice. 

One of the biggest surprises in my practice came about three months in. Meditation stopped being a “to do” activity and started being something I genuinely wanted to do. I remember the day it happened: I was exhausted from work, my head was filled with worries and I was feeling overwhelmed. I sat down for Zazen, a simple breath meditation, and I suddenly realised it was actually “easier” to follow my breath mindfully, rather than dwelling in my messy, tired head. This was a revelation for me. I started looking forward to this new space where I could find a degree of effortlessness I didn’t know I could feel, a place where I could observe instead of trying to control. 

I would never have found this space if I had not “pushed” myself through the first months when the practice felt like a task. I think it’s important to believe that one can get to that effortless place, to keep going, every day, even if one doesn’t know “how” or when it will happen. I know that if I sit Zazen every day, it eventually happens. 

Meditation is changing me. The biggest and most important change is that I have confidence in the fact that I can change. From trivial little things, to deep emotional wounds. Meditation has a way of making one more flexible, and it gives me joy to see that I can surprise myself and overcome challenges. In addition, I’m getting to know my mind. I know the nuances of mental chatter, of daydreaming, of worrying. It’s immensely powerful to know oneself better. In a world that can be chaotic and confusing, Zazen is the best activity I can do to feel safer in myself. 

The changes are spreading to other areas of my life, I feel more attracted to peaceful places outside of myself as well. I have a growing need to find simplicity and stillness, to remove the layers of unnecessary stuff and unnecessary struggle. There’s happiness and curiosity in this change: what will I find, once all the layers are gone? 

On a practical note, I finally cleaned up the seemingly endless clutter in my room! It took a year…. 

Now there’s space.