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Afraid of Zazen('s physical consequences)

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Afraid of Zazen('s physical consequences)

Postby Soso on Sat Jan 16, 2016 3:26 am


a while back, I wrote about my situation. I had a neck injury (2nd cervical vertebra fractured on both sides) about 6 1/2 years ago and unfortunately that tremendously reduced my ability to sit in certain positions.

Recently I could not sit Zazen due to professional circumstances, i.e. time constraints (and laziness of course), and to my surprise, after adjusting the chair at work, almost all of my pain is gone, that means, the wound does not swell, nore does it cause tremendous eye pressure, dizzyness, depersonalization and consequently confusion anymore.

Which brings me to the conclusion, that there is a "perfect" position for me (and everyone), that enables one with disabilities to sit the most efficient Zazen. It is of course totally dependend on the individual.

The negative effect is, that I am now afraid of sitting in Zazen, because I do not want to bring the pain back (when it is there, it does not leave for ~2-7 days with all the side effects mentioned earlier). But I am certain, that Zazen has a VERY positive impact on my mental health.

That is why I am currently in a Dilemma, namely whether to practice Zazen and approve to having physical pain (and consequently mental, because the pain epicenter is on the head) or let the Zazen be and being emotionally instable.

I came to the conclusion, that my situation is a karmatic response of a previous life, which I handled not correctly and now I am paying for it. Right now I am grateful for the choice of having pain physical or emotional pain.

Namaste :Namaste:
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Re: Afraid of Zazen('s physical consequences)

Postby Guo Gu on Sat Jan 16, 2016 4:13 am

dear soso,
this is great news that you found the right position and chair to do zazen. isn't it encouraging?
as for the fear, you're over thinking this. this fear is based completely on an imagined future, a projection of something that might happen. you know that this is totally ungrounded, right?
relax when this fear arises. watch it. where does it arise, to where does it go? relax and return to your method of practice.
ground yourself in the actuality of your experience. and your experience is that you found a posture to sit zazen in a chair. treasure that!
be positive. one possibility leads to others. i'm sure you'll also discover that there might be other chairs, ergonomic perhaps, that might work for you as well. zen is not limited to sitting. there are other position and opportunities to practice.
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Re: Afraid of Zazen('s physical consequences)

Postby Judy Roitman on Thu Jan 21, 2016 10:01 pm

Hi, Soso.

I encourage you to practice in whatever way your body allows. Decades ago there was a student in our school who was told that after back surgery he would need to lie on his back most of the time for three months, getting up only to do things like go to the bathroom. "I know just what to do!" he told the doctor. So after surgery he attended our 90 day intensive kyol che retreat at Providence Zen Center, lying on his back in the dharma room (they set up the mats to enable him to do this). Why not?

Posture is not the point. Our mind is the point. And yes, pain can be incredibly distracting. So, like Guo Gu I am pleased you have found a chair and a posture in that chair which alleviates your pain. I encourage you to practice in that posture in that (or a similar) chair. You might even be able to install a similar chair in your local Zen center.

And please don't worry about karmic causes. It doesn't really matter, does it. What matters is what you do now.


Judy Roitman (Zen Master Bon Hae), Kansas Zen Center, Kwan Um School of Zen
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Re: Afraid of Zazen('s physical consequences)

Postby Soso on Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:14 am

Sorry for the late appreciation. I want to thank you both for your spot on tipps (don't build up fear before the Zazen, adjust position according to the physical condition, don't worry about karmic premises), that helped me to overcome destructive thinking and focus on the practice instead. For now I have the impression, that a high level of physical strain during the Zazen in my case is appropriate in order to not stumble into an unhealthy (painful) position. Through the long ago realization, that this Western life is unnatural, hectic, isolated and unfulfilling in almost every regard - if one has not the experience/strength to help others to find their path, yet/anymore - I plan to become a fulltime student soon, hopefully learning to keep awareness through other means than sitting meditation.

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