In the last few days I’ve managed to pass another milestone in terms of post-operative recovery: being able to flex my knee enough (and without significant pain) to sit Zazen in Burmese posture. This little achievement means a lot to me, since being able to sit in a stable position without stressing one side more or less than the other is a big help in straightening everything out: having one dodgy knee leads to all sorts of imbalances in posture, legs, the spine, &c. Day by day, progress feels frustratingly slow, but I have to remember that I was nowhere close to sitting like this a week or two ago. Again — perspective!
On Monday, I underwent a surgical procedure (a bursectomy) to try to correct my long-standing knee problem (chronic prepatellar bursitis). As for the recovery, so far, so good. The key factor determining my long term recovery of function will be how well the wound closes (no little gaps or bubbles = very good).
Of course, as with any surgical intervention, there’s some post-operative pain. What strikes me very strongly is that when the pain hits, experiences like Zen meditation and taking ukemi are of great practical value: being able to relax, to acknowledge pain and discomfort without suffering and allowing them to become all-consuming, and above all to keep some semblance of good humour through it all — these things are really, really useful.
There’s something very nice about getting up early in the morning, before dawn, and spending a couple of hours in silent practice of Zazen and Iaidō, as I did today. The combined effect left me feeling very good for the rest of the day: settled, but not sleepy; exercised, but not over-exerted; energised, but not jumpy. Truly, a nice way to start the day.
The title of this blog comes from a Japanese phrase often applied to the martial arts, but also to other disciplines such as the tea ceremony.
動 — “dou”, move, happen, movement, action
中 — “chuu”, central, centre, middle, in the midst of, hit (target), attain
の — “no”, possessive suffix
静 (or 靜) — “sei”, quiet, still, motionless, gentle
Thus, 動中の静 means “the stillness of/in the midst of motion”, or “calmness in action”. It’s very difficult for me to articulate it precisely, but this seems to me to be among the cardinal qualities (virtues?) of the martial arts. The moments when I feel it in Aikido, Iaido or Zazen practice — or just in ordinary daily life — are sublime and priceless.