In the Shodaka, there's a section that reads: "Reality is without human inclinations. If you have unresolved doubts, you must struggle with them..." and combust them.
When I first began seriously... not cosmetically learning how to practice Zen, I was initially told to count the breath 1 to 10. The people at Rochester Zen Center said, "Count low, slow, and then repeat." Bodhin Roshi also instructed with a slight smile... "And when... not if... You lose the count in your breath, just return to "One," and resume. There is to be no self criticism or wondering why you lost the count. There is only the practice you've been given."
That guidance was invaluable, but painful on the front end of my practice. A) It was 100% boring at first. B) My back hurt... my ass hurt... my feet went numb... and I couldn't figure out how to sit without pain. It took me a long time to understand that mental and emotional suffering can manifest as physical pain, when the distractions stop. C) The mind was like a freight train hurtling off of a cliff. Every piece of self doubt, bad memories, trauma, insecurity, and fear reach the surface; as inward voices were beating the shit out of me telling me to get up and leave. I very certainly didn’t feel like the picture painted of the Buddha In books.
I was determined... just enough... that I learned how to stay in my seat and resolve the doubt. Strangely that didn't come naturally. I was taught to do that in the rooms of recovery that I was spending time in. Old timers would say... "stay in the room and in your seat for the entire meeting… If you leave even to go to the bathroom you might miss the most important thing you need to hear that could save your life; so stick it out."
By the time I reached the end of my addiction… I was so shook up by some of the stuff going on, if they told me to stand on my head in the f*cking corner, and that would keep me clean, I would've. My ass was on fire for getting out of the jam that I had gotten myself in... I wasn't actually there for Recovery yet… Because I didn't even have an idea what the word meant. The same can be said of Zen.
On my left forearm I have a tattoo. It reads... "I am living a story, I will not give up." At the time I got it, it was there as a point of solidarity with my daughter whose everyday life was a hell realm. Later I realized at depth I need to apply that to me, have solidarity with my authentic nature, and resolve every last doubt, that allowed for being fully whole and wholly free.
There was a time... Because of unresolved doubt and insecurity… that every day I thought and felt like I was in a barrel, going over Niagara Falls, plunging into another drama. Because of ceaseless practice of the Way... that's no longer my story. Please combust what is unresolved within you, and confirm what I'm saying for yourself.
一May We Live and Die Without Regret