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Losing momentum

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Losing momentum

Postby dbranch on Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:20 pm

I practiced for one month until I became so idealistic, and therefore disappointed, that I stopped. I stopped sitting and I stopped going to the Zen center.

I didn't want to just dabble in Zen. I knew I wanted to "do" Zen for my whole life, but sitting was so dry and uneventful that I had and am having some doubts.

How do I know that I'm "doing sitting" right?
How do I make myself do it (what do I tell myself when I'm being lazy?)

The whole issue is made more complex due to my mental illness and all the mental circuses that go on in my mind.

If it's worth anything, I sat last night again, and I'm ideally going to start up my practice again.

Peace,
David
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Re: Losing momentum

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:12 pm

David,

Best wishes.

I could recommend physical practice. Not instead of zazen, but in parallel with it. Perhaps you can attend a regular Yoga class near you. The yoga should help to get the body into a stronger and relaxed state, so that it takes better to zazen. Zazen is not just a "mental" practice (maybe it isn't at all a mental practice really), but it is pretty physical, and can be physically demanding (upon one's stamina, and on deepest relaxation).

I think that physical practice has always been a part of the Zen Buddhist practitioner's diet, and I think that some real losses or lacks of 'nourishment' of overall practice can result if we don't include it.

I would say, give any newly-begun yoga regimen (or etc.) weeks or months before assessing its benefits, and its synergy with zazen and Zen Buddhist practice generally. Stick with it and see if you come to see the real complementarity in it / to it that I'm trying to say exists, and is enjoyed by many.

Your Zen Buddhist teacher may have more personalized suggestions, and I hope so.

best,

--Joe
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Re: Losing momentum

Postby Denial on Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:32 pm

Hi David,

Idealism can be a double edged sword. On edge, it can motivate you. On the other edge, it cuts away that motivation. If you hold false impressions of what you'll take out of meditation, it can make you lose motivation. While I do think looking at what you could gain can be a great motivator, it's also important to be honest, so that you can actually reach that so as to keep your motivation. This is why a lot of people stress making realistic goals. I'd recommend starting small. Sitting for 5 or 10 minutes a day can be a great accomplishment for somebody that doesn't meditate regularly.

As for how to actually meditating, I'd recommend getting feedback from the zen instructor at your zen center. It's hard to say generic tips, because everybody is different. As far as actually doing it (i.e. taking the time to sit down), there's nothing more than just doing it. Keeping a schedule, positive self talk, etc... all of this is great, and can be helpful, but at the end of the day, you just have to sit down and meditate. If you feel like you can't manage that, trust me, you can. Know that negative self talk isn't helpful, however, do not get mad at yourself for engaging in it. If you're lazy and doubting, that's ok. You can still meditate, even with these feelings.

You mentioned mental illness causing difficulties. Again, with this you should make sure you have a good instructor. I don't know what mental illness you have, and I don't want to press you on it if you don't want to share, but sometimes meditating can draw out certain things, or maybe it's more accurate to say that they're drawn out while in the course of meditation. If this happens, I cannot recommend just observing your thoughts without proper instruction from both a skilled zen instructor and a therapist. Instead, I'd say take a break, get up (if you're able, don't do this if you're dizzy or feel paralyzed), and count your breaths. Do something else for a while. This might not apply to you, and might not even be an issue, but just be aware that this could happen. This isn't a part of meditation, just can happen during it. Again, do not try to meditate through it without proper guidance.

Peace,
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Re: Losing momentum

Postby Nothing on Tue Aug 09, 2016 9:58 pm

Hi David


You mentioned doubt, being lazy, mental circuses. Those are three of the five hindrances that obstruct or get in way in our meditation, daily lives too. You can read a bit about them here http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html and in more details in the nikayas of the pali canon, although it would be best to ask the teacher in the zen center same questions you asked here as the others suggested.

Agree with the advice that Joe gave to you about practicing yoga as an aid for better zazen and I can confirm that from my personal experience and that reminds of the saying of Kodo Sawaki , I am paraphrasing - Zazen is not spiritual, we are doing it with our bodies.

All the best,

Viktor
"There is no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end" - James Hutton
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