Hi, Sara. I landed on your newsletter after someone I follow on Twitter shared a picture of you holding the DESERT ORACLE book, which is one of my favorite things in the world. So I followed your link back to here, read your most recent piece, and I love it. It raises a question I've been pondering pretty hard lately.

You write, "I came to Zen after discovering that adopting a consistent meditation practice was doing wonderful things for my life." I've been meditating off and on for several years, and consistently now for two or three. I have floated around the fringes of adopting Zen as a "practice" but I can't say I have. I just sit. I've never sat with other people because it feels like it would be uncomfortable to me. But I wonder what even the meditation is "doing for me." I recognize that isn't even the way to look at it, especially because it's ... different. I mean, if I was doing push-ups twenty minutes every day for two years straight I'd be a beast, there would be a physical representation of all that hard effort.

So I'm curious β€” what were some of the tangible, "wonderful things" you could see your meditation practice manifesting in your life? I hope it isn't rude to ask. I don't interact with anyone else who has a consistent practice, I don't have a teacher, none of it. People ask ME about it, and if I may roughly quote Jim Harrison relating to his own Zen studies, I'm merely "a potato."

Anyway, thanks for writing.

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Hey Chris! I'm glad you found me – Desert Oracle is indeed brilliant! And thank you for the kind words about the newsletter.

It's not rude at all to ask. The wonderful things that meditation has done for me are mostly around helping me learn to let go. Of what I think will or should happen. Of fucked up or misguided stories I've been telling myself about how things are or should be. It's helped me open myself up to possibility and a new level of awareness that this world is so much stranger and wilder and more mysterious than we think. You could call it faith, I guess. Or certainly there's something going on with trust. I was a very cynical person pre-meditation who did not want to be cynical but who kept getting pulled back into tides of self-loathing or being convinced that the world is rotten. I have bigger level of openness towards everything these days. I am more able to trust that things are unfolding just as they should. That helps me be more present for other people, too. Here's an old issue I wrote about meditation that you might like:


As far as not sitting with others because you feel it would be "uncomfortable" – it absolutely might. But I wouldn't take that as a bad thing. Getting comfortable with discomfort is kinda the point of a lot of Zen stuff as far as I can tell. Here's a video Brad Warner of Angel City Zen Center did recently about finding a teacher/practicing with others that you might find interesting:


Also, I didn't know Jim Harrison studied Zen, but it tracks! I love his writing.

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Sara, thank you, this is very helpful. I can relate to many of the things you mention when it comes to ways you feel meditation has helped you. And this: "I was a very cynical person pre-meditation who did not want to be cynical but who kept getting pulled back into tides of self-loathing or being convinced that the world is rotten." Oof, that's me, totally. The battle is constant.

When my first book came out, a reader who is also a Jim Harrison fan sent me a cassette audio book of Harrison's "After Ikkyu," read by Harrison himself. What a kindness! I ripped it to MP3; here is the link to that, if you're interested. His introduction is where he makes the potato reference, which I have always found amusing.


Thank you for your writing. I'll be reading!

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Oh wow, thanks so much! This is excellent.

And yeah, I hear you. The battle really never ends.

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