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Question/s on Zazen mechanics

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A place to share and discuss the practice of Zen Buddhism without teachers. Debates about whether practising without teachers is possible or desirable are not appropriate here, nor are criticisms of Zen Buddhist practice with teachers.

Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby chankin1937 on Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:12 pm

Basaltic wrote: I'm not sure that this is the right place to post this thread and its questions; but if it isn't I invite the mods to move it to the most appropriate discussion forum. Here goes, anyway:

I've been practising zazen for some time now, some years, in fact, but, regrettably, not continuously in that time, and I have noticed a couple of persistent problems.

I continuously sit for 40 minutes twice a day, every day, now, and while concentrating hard on watching the breath and counting the exhalations and relinquishing any extraneous, discursive thoughts, I have a tendency to pre-empt or anticipate counting the next exhalation while drawing in the preceding inhalation. I can usually let go of any wandering thoughts by letting them wander in and wander out, thereby disregarding them, while watching and concentrating on the breath, except for this tendency to anticipate and count the next outward breath while still breathing in. Will this change with continued practice or is there some method or way I can use now to change this?

Another question I have is that I also have a tendency to tighten the shoulders while I sit. When I notice that they have tightened up, I consciously relax them, however, after a short time they are tight again and I have to relax them again, and so on. Once more, will this problem eventually change with continued practice or is there some method or way I can use now to change this?


Hello Basaltic,
Counting breaths, koans etc are good for beginners, they improve concentration and one-pointedness. Time to move on.

The Buddha said “Nirvana is the extinction of dukkha”.

Here are a few thoughts on that message:
Zen Master Hanshan Deqing on enlightenment:
“If within a single moment deluded thinking suddenly ceases, [you will] thoroughly perceive your own mind and realize that it is vast and open, bright and luminous - intrinsically perfect and complete. This state, being originally pure, devoid of a single thing, is called enlightenment.”

The Buddha said, "The absence of thought is the state of the unconditioned."
- Wang Yang-ming (1472・1529)
Profound quietude delivered me
To the transparent moonlight.


From the Surangama Sutra (page 80 of D.T.Suzuki’s Manual of Zen Buddhism.)
“The mind-essence is variously characterised as something original, mysterious, mysteriously bright, illuminating, true, perfect, clear as a jewel etc, It is not to be confused with our empirical mind, for it is not an object of intellectual discrimination.”
And “It is independent of all forms and ideas.” And “it lies beyond all the categories of thought”

These quotes also tell you what dukkha is. It is random and habitual “thinking”.

We sit (as you have correctly illustrated) alert and passively aware and allow our thoughts to melt away.

Ashvagosha said: "All kinds of ideation are to be discarded as fast as they arise; even the notions of controlling and discarding are to be got rid of."

Ma-tsu (died 788) said: "Only let a man exhaust all his thinking and imagining; he then holds the unparalled treasure."

Nagarjuna said: "Bliss consists in the cessation of all thought."

These directions relate specifically to meditation. They definitely do not recommend we abandon “thinking” in our daily lives. That would make life impossible.
If you are wondering why emptying your mind of thoughts gives you access to profound peace-of-mind, consider the following argument:

1/ Solving problems and satisfying appetites demands efficient use of the tools our awareness has access to – all aspects of “thinking” - conscious mental activity (CMA) . consider a single problem or appetite in isolation:
2/ Once the the appetite is satisfied or the problem is solved CMA has completed its invaluable role and (ideally) we abstain from further using it, for the time being. Let it go.
3/ Simultaneously once the appetite is satisfied etc. we feel content, fulfilled, at peace – happy.
4/ From 2 and 3 it becomes apparent that a reduction in CMA actually produces a feeling of happiness.
5/ It follows that practicing abstaining from CMA will produce higher and higher degrees of the feeling .
6/ That is the psychology of the common human goal. That is why meditation works. Happiness (contentment, peace –of-mind) is the great treasure of zazen. It gives you access to the common human goal – happiness – by applying the psychology of that experience.
I hope this helps.

P.S: If you have an itch, scratch it: if you are tense, relax. No big deal.

Colin
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby partofit22 on Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:13 pm

While thinking about what you wrote in your post, Basaltic, a metaphor came to mind- Riding a roller coaster- There's nothing unnatural about anticipating that first drop while being lifted to the top of the first hill-
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:04 pm

Basaltic,

Welcome!, once again to the Forum.

For sitting-meditation practice, I think it's good not to neglect physical practice. Before sitting (and 40 minutes twice a day is a very good regimen!), it could be good to do some loosening-up exercises, so that the shoulders (which you mention) may be very relaxed from the beginning, and become more relaxed as the "sit" proceeds. Some people shake their arms wildly, as if signaling to a search- airplane that's come to rescue you where you've been stranded in the woods, or do a victory-dance set of movements, as if they've just won 100 million dollars in some international sweepstakes, or others will do some Yoga-styled stretches, even just a couple, taking a few seconds.

But, key to relaxing is sensing. It's a feedback phenomenon. The more you can sense, the more you can relax. The more minutely you can sense, the more deeply you can relax. A way -- the way? -- to enhance sensing is to put sensation into the muscles and nerves. That can be accomplished by performing some exercises, and noting the sensations before, during, and after. The sensing-relaxing response will develop, through this two-pronged deliberate enforced exercise. But first, sensation must be put into the nerves and muscles. Exercise, or a self-massage can be excellent ways to instill sensation. I use both! I also teach a Buddhist style of Yoga for meditators, and I teach both.

By the way, for smoothing-out the breath and making the breathing process more natural, it's a good thing to perform aerobic training (practice... ). Fast walking, or jogging, for example, of sufficient duration (after making a start, during a period of some weeks), will strengthen and energize the diaphragm area and the "breathing-muscle". This will help to make the breathing, at all hours of the day,
"impossibly-smooth", as I like to call it. This is helpful not only to people who practice a zazen based on the breath, but for everyone who sits zazen, or other seated-practices.

I don't think I overemphasize the usefulness of physical practice. And I try not to forget about mentioning it, when it can be a help to those who practice zazen, and our other dozen or so practices which are traditional in orthodox Zen Buddhist practice.

To sum up: exercises and/or self-massage before sitting are helpful to encourage and deepen relaxation in zazen (and at other times). And aerobic exercise is a boon to the breathing-muscle and entire body, for those who use a method involving the breath (or others).

Ah, it could be good to abstain completely from caffeine (take a week or so to taper-off to zero, to avoid headaches), as some meditators are more sensitive to it than others. Caffeine intake can cause the diaphragm muscle to be nervous, and a bit spastic in breathing. It can cause the diaphragm to "shudder" slightly, or hitch-up, at the turning-point of breath, and not to be s-m-o-o-t-h. You be the judge about how much caffeine it takes to cause this dysfunction! For me, it's any amount (alas). ;)

best,

--Joe
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Michaeljc on Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:25 pm

A lot of advice and it's all different :blush:
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Caodemarte on Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:17 pm

Maybe "concentrating hard" is part of the tenseness.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:01 am

Caodemarte wrote:Maybe "concentrating hard" is part of the tenseness.


Quite possibly. But if I am not concentrating hard, that is, concentrating fully and intensely, on both watching the breath and counting the exhaled breaths then that defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.
Last edited by Basaltic on Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:07 am

desert_woodworker wrote:Basaltic,

Welcome!, once again to the Forum.

For sitting-meditation practice, I think it's good not to neglect physical practice. Before sitting (and 40 minutes twice a day is a very good regimen!), it could be good to do some loosening-up exercises, so that the shoulders (which you mention) may be very relaxed from the beginning, and become more relaxed as the "sit" proceeds. Some people shake their arms wildly, as if signaling to a search- airplane that's come to rescue you where you've been stranded in the woods, or do a victory-dance set of movements, as if they've just won 100 million dollars in some international sweepstakes, or others will do some Yoga-styled stretches, even just a couple, taking a few seconds.

But, key to relaxing is sensing. It's a feedback phenomenon. The more you can sense, the more you can relax. The more minutely you can sense, the more deeply you can relax. A way -- the way? -- to enhance sensing is to put sensation into the muscles and nerves. That can be accomplished by performing some exercises, and noting the sensations before, during, and after. The sensing-relaxing response will develop, through this two-pronged deliberate enforced exercise. But first, sensation must be put into the nerves and muscles. Exercise, or a self-massage can be excellent ways to instill sensation. I use both! I also teach a Buddhist style of Yoga for meditators, and I teach both.

By the way, for smoothing-out the breath and making the breathing process more natural, it's a good thing to perform aerobic training (practice... ). Fast walking, or jogging, for example, of sufficient duration (after making a start, during a period of some weeks), will strengthen and energize the diaphragm area and the "breathing-muscle". This will help to make the breathing, at all hours of the day,
"impossibly-smooth", as I like to call it. This is helpful not only to people who practice a zazen based on the breath, but for everyone who sits zazen, or other seated-practices.

I don't think I overemphasize the usefulness of physical practice. And I try not to forget about mentioning it, when it can be a help to those who practice zazen, and our other dozen or so practices which are traditional in orthodox Zen Buddhist practice.

To sum up: exercises and/or self-massage before sitting are helpful to encourage and deepen relaxation in zazen (and at other times). And aerobic exercise is a boon to the breathing-muscle and entire body, for those who use a method involving the breath (or others).

Ah, it could be good to abstain completely from caffeine (take a week or so to taper-off to zero, to avoid headaches), as some meditators are more sensitive to it than others. Caffeine intake can cause the diaphragm muscle to be nervous, and a bit spastic in breathing. It can cause the diaphragm to "shudder" slightly, or hitch-up, at the turning-point of breath, and not to be s-m-o-o-t-h. You be the judge about how much caffeine it takes to cause this dysfunction! For me, it's any amount (alas). ;)

best,

--Joe


Those are some very good, practical suggestions and a very informative and interesting post, Joe. That's exactly the sort of advice I need. Thank you very much for your input. You've done well.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:31 am

chankin1937 wrote:
Basaltic wrote: I'm not sure that this is the right place to post this thread and its questions; but if it isn't I invite the mods to move it to the most appropriate discussion forum. Here goes, anyway:

I've been practising zazen for some time now, some years, in fact, but, regrettably, not continuously in that time, and I have noticed a couple of persistent problems.

I continuously sit for 40 minutes twice a day, every day, now, and while concentrating hard on watching the breath and counting the exhalations and relinquishing any extraneous, discursive thoughts, I have a tendency to pre-empt or anticipate counting the next exhalation while drawing in the preceding inhalation. I can usually let go of any wandering thoughts by letting them wander in and wander out, thereby disregarding them, while watching and concentrating on the breath, except for this tendency to anticipate and count the next outward breath while still breathing in. Will this change with continued practice or is there some method or way I can use now to change this?

Another question I have is that I also have a tendency to tighten the shoulders while I sit. When I notice that they have tightened up, I consciously relax them, however, after a short time they are tight again and I have to relax them again, and so on. Once more, will this problem eventually change with continued practice or is there some method or way I can use now to change this?


Hello Basaltic,
Counting breaths, koans etc are good for beginners, they improve concentration and one-pointedness. Time to move on.

The Buddha said “Nirvana is the extinction of dukkha”.

Here are a few thoughts on that message:
Zen Master Hanshan Deqing on enlightenment:
“If within a single moment deluded thinking suddenly ceases, [you will] thoroughly perceive your own mind and realize that it is vast and open, bright and luminous - intrinsically perfect and complete. This state, being originally pure, devoid of a single thing, is called enlightenment.”

The Buddha said, "The absence of thought is the state of the unconditioned."
- Wang Yang-ming (1472・1529)
Profound quietude delivered me
To the transparent moonlight.


From the Surangama Sutra (page 80 of D.T.Suzuki’s Manual of Zen Buddhism.)
“The mind-essence is variously characterised as something original, mysterious, mysteriously bright, illuminating, true, perfect, clear as a jewel etc, It is not to be confused with our empirical mind, for it is not an object of intellectual discrimination.”
And “It is independent of all forms and ideas.” And “it lies beyond all the categories of thought”

These quotes also tell you what dukkha is. It is random and habitual “thinking”.

We sit (as you have correctly illustrated) alert and passively aware and allow our thoughts to melt away.

Ashvagosha said: "All kinds of ideation are to be discarded as fast as they arise; even the notions of controlling and discarding are to be got rid of."

Ma-tsu (died 788) said: "Only let a man exhaust all his thinking and imagining; he then holds the unparalled treasure."

Nagarjuna said: "Bliss consists in the cessation of all thought."

These directions relate specifically to meditation. They definitely do not recommend we abandon “thinking” in our daily lives. That would make life impossible.
If you are wondering why emptying your mind of thoughts gives you access to profound peace-of-mind, consider the following argument:

1/ Solving problems and satisfying appetites demands efficient use of the tools our awareness has access to – all aspects of “thinking” - conscious mental activity (CMA) . consider a single problem or appetite in isolation:
2/ Once the the appetite is satisfied or the problem is solved CMA has completed its invaluable role and (ideally) we abstain from further using it, for the time being. Let it go.
3/ Simultaneously once the appetite is satisfied etc. we feel content, fulfilled, at peace – happy.
4/ From 2 and 3 it becomes apparent that a reduction in CMA actually produces a feeling of happiness.
5/ It follows that practicing abstaining from CMA will produce higher and higher degrees of the feeling .
6/ That is the psychology of the common human goal. That is why meditation works. Happiness (contentment, peace –of-mind) is the great treasure of zazen. It gives you access to the common human goal – happiness – by applying the psychology of that experience.
I hope this helps.

P.S: If you have an itch, scratch it: if you are tense, relax. No big deal.

Colin


[My bold]

Very informative and interesting post, Colin. I would point out that relaxing for me is a big deal. I am tense on or off a zafu. I am in a state of high tension and under considerable strain (I refuse to call it "stress," which is an engineering term) in the outer world, which no doubt has some considerable bearing on the bodily tension I experience when I sit. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned this at the outset in this thread. I also have considerable difficulty in sleeping; sometimes I go several days without proper sleep. However, I find that if I do sit, I am better able to manage and cope; hence, my eagerness to sit as best and as fully as I can. Many thanks for your input.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:41 am

Michaeljc wrote:
Remember that the effort must be maintained ...
Not too tight and not too loose
But held in a way as it can be held forever


I would like to bring attention to a method where effort does not need to be maintained. My immediate reaction to the OP was, "heck, someone is sitting 2 x 40 minutes/day and still tensing up, maybe the effortless method would be more appropriate" To learn more about it go to Jundo's site "Treeleaf Zendo" This does work for some students

In reality (according to reports) most students do not find the 'just sit' method particularly easy. A tug-o-war goes on between doubt and faith. 'Just sit' sounds extremely simple yet thousands of words are written about it

Geo Gu writes about some techniques he uses to encourage relaxation on a topic I started a month or two back. I often check my facial muscles as I find that if there is any tension, here is where it shows. It is amazing just how much more these muscles can be relaxed when there is a degree of tension. There is also the technique of belly breathing taught by Meido

I still sense that by forcing the counting of the breath you are creating tension. Its not working for you. You should really post your OP (unedited) in ask a teacher to get some verification

As I see it

cheers

m


[My bold]

These are some good suggestions, Michaeljc. Many thanks. And as I have said in my opening post and in a subsequent post, if the thread was opened in the wrong forum/subforum, the mods can move it to a more appropriate forum/subforum. This is the first time I have posted anything on ZFI and I am unfamiliar with the forum/subforum categories and with what sort of thread ought to be posted in which forum/subforum. But I take your point of posting this thread in the "ask-a-teacher" subforum. Perhaps the mods can move the entire thread to this subforum if this is the correct area for it.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:45 am

Michaeljc wrote:A lot of advice and it's all different :blush:


That's good. Variety is the spice of life.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:50 am

Chrisd wrote:Hi Basaltic :heya:

I've had the same problem(s). I know it's a pain in the ass :lol2:
I asked all my teachers but that wasn't much help.
It's something you work through yourself.

What I've learned:

Notice the problem or inconsistency (you already have), allow it to be.
Adjust or continue to practice.

If you notice it again, the problem or inconsistency, allow it to be.
Continue to practice.

Repeat.

Then at one point you've trained your mind to already allow the "inconsistency" and then it transforms.
That's insight.

It definitely changes with continued practice and developed skillfulness in dealing with your own system.
At one point you'll be doing this spontaneously, it's become second nature.


Interesting and informative post, Chrisd. I shall do this and see what happens. Many thanks.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Aug 28, 2015 3:47 pm

B.,

Basaltic wrote:Those are some very good, practical suggestions and a very informative and interesting post, Joe. That's exactly the sort of advice I need. Thank you very much for your input. You've done well.

You're welcome.

You know, in many parts of the world, Yoga classes at Yoga studios have become ubiquitous. If physical Yoga is new to you, you might try it out. Maybe it's already well familiar, but you've just been away from it in your home-practice? Going to a class can be a great way of starting or re-starting such a practice. You'll know the "level" of class you should seek to join. I think that even "old-hands" could do well to go back to "the beginning", though, if they've been away from things for a while. Best to go slowly and avoid injuries or strains.

A teacher, and the presence of the others in the class, help enormously. In a class: the practice seems to "take care of itself", as we practice together. But of course it's good to bring it home, too. But even going to a class a few times a week will make differences that you will feel, and your meditation and daily-life will benefit. I can't "warranty" this, but I can guarantee it! ;)

Of course, I dunno if any of these suggestions are appropriate to you. I'm just giving advice averaged over hundreds of people I've known or taught.

Strong practice,

--Joe
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Sat Aug 29, 2015 10:21 am

desert_woodworker wrote:B.,

Basaltic wrote:Those are some very good, practical suggestions and a very informative and interesting post, Joe. That's exactly the sort of advice I need. Thank you very much for your input. You've done well.

You're welcome.

You know, in many parts of the world, Yoga classes at Yoga studios have become ubiquitous. If physical Yoga is new to you, you might try it out. Maybe it's already well familiar, but you've just been away from it in your home-practice? Going to a class can be a great way of starting or re-starting such a practice. You'll know the "level" of class you should seek to join. I think that even "old-hands" could do well to go back to "the beginning", though, if they've been away from things for a while. Best to go slowly and avoid injuries or strains.

A teacher, and the presence of the others in the class, help enormously. In a class: the practice seems to "take care of itself", as we practice together. But of course it's good to bring it home, too. But even going to a class a few times a week will make differences that you will feel, and your meditation and daily-life will benefit. I can't "warranty" this, but I can guarantee it! ;)

Of course, I dunno if any of these suggestions are appropriate to you. I'm just giving advice averaged over hundreds of people I've known or taught.

Strong practice,

--Joe


Actually, yoga was suggested to me by a friend of mine. He goes to yoga classes frequently and regularly. He has invited me to go with him. I might take up his invitation and see what happens. The yoga classes are some distance away from where I live and the problem is finding enough time to go on a regular basis. I'm very busy and under a lot of pressure at present. I can make the time to sit, but travelling to a yoga classes about 25+ km away from where I live obviously involves more time. I'll see what I can do and after the dust settles and I'm not as busy as I am right now. Once more, thanks, Joe, for your input.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Michaeljc on Sat Aug 29, 2015 10:57 am

Basaltic

Of course, I cant be sure, - but your's appears to be special case

The topic probably wont be moved as it is in the right place. I find it unusual that relaxation is still an obstacle given the timing and duration of your sits. This is why I feel that you should put a query into Ask a Teacher emphasising the tension issue. I know that you will get good responses

Counting breaths, koans etc are good for beginners, they improve concentration and one-pointedness. Time to move on


This is not true. Some students use no other method than breath throughout their lives. Guo Gu is an expert in this. Koan training is more of an advanced method

Keep it up :) I suggest you try "just sit" occasionally. Give your mind complete freedom :heya:

m
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:42 am

Michaeljc wrote:Basaltic

Of course, I cant be sure, - but your's appears to be special case

The topic probably wont be moved as it is in the right place. I find it unusual that relaxation is still an obstacle given the timing and duration of your sits. This is why I feel that you should put a query into Ask a Teacher emphasising the tension issue. I know that you will get good responses

Counting breaths, koans etc are good for beginners, they improve concentration and one-pointedness. Time to move on


This is not true. Some students use no other method than breath throughout their lives. Guo Gu is an expert in this. Koan training is more of an advanced method

Keep it up :) I suggest you try "just sit" occasionally. Give your mind complete freedom :heya:

m


Thanks, Michaeljc. The generalized-bodily tension I experience is relative: I am tenser when not sitting than when I am. Having said that, relaxing is easier said than done.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby macdougdoug on Sat Aug 29, 2015 2:23 pm

Basaltic wrote:
Caodemarte wrote:Maybe "concentrating hard" is part of the tenseness.


Quite possibly. But if I am not concentrating hard, that is, concentrating fully and intensely, on both watching the breath and counting the exhaled breaths then that defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.


Hello, I think you should look into this further - concentrating hard, fully and intensely sounds wrong to me, as if one thinks that something will be achieved by one's hard work. Ideally meditation is a relaxed, natural state of awareness.

Mindfulness is a natural, relaxed state. For example, if I ask you to think of the colour Green; no effort is required on your behalf. And if I ask u to think of the colour green for 40 minutes, there will be times when the mind will wander. This is normal and must be forgiven - meditation is compassion.

As for postural help, Yoga before sitting might help (as I think Desert mentioned earlier) but also regular qi gong practise (which deals with correct posture and proper use of tension ie only the minimum required and no more)

Good luck
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Aug 29, 2015 4:07 pm

B.,

Basaltic wrote:I'll see what I can do and after the dust settles and I'm not as busy as I am right now. Once more, thanks, Joe, for your input.

Sometimes while we're still in the midst of the maelstrom, it's the best time to bring in a change. Anyway, life is short. I know that, for many people, "later" seems to stretch imperceptibly into "never". Ouch! Don't let it happen!, if you're really truly interested. ;)

best,

--Joe

ps a 25 km car-ride could be a good context in which to practice Ujjayi Pranayama, in preparation for the class, ...and afterwards. :)
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Caodemarte on Sat Aug 29, 2015 5:21 pm

The more I read this, the more convinced I am that you (the OP) like every Zen student, should go back over the basics of zazen. As several people have noted your description of what you're doing doesn't sound quite like normal zazen. This could be a problem in describing zazen, but I think there's a strong hint of misunderstanding present. The response about concentration and counting being to the purpose of zazen is a pointer that the words "concentration" or "zazen" are not being used in the Zen sense.

This is not a criticism and I am speaking to myself as well. It doesn't matter how often you have done this or practiced or when you have been trained. It is always helpful to review the basics again and again and always necessary to start from the ground up (although there are no beginner only practices or stages). Of course, the best is to go consult with an actual teacher. If that is not possible there are many non-pop Buddhist books and websites with teachers who have been trained and can speak authoritatively until you can.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Basaltic on Sun Aug 30, 2015 7:26 am

Caodemarte wrote:The more I read this, the more convinced I am that you (the OP) like every Zen student, should go back over the basics of zazen. As several people have noted your description of what you're doing doesn't sound quite like normal zazen. This could be a problem in describing zazen, but I think there's a strong hint of misunderstanding present. The response about concentration and counting being to the purpose of zazen is a pointer that the words "concentration" or "zazen" are not being used in the Zen sense.

This is not a criticism and I am speaking to myself as well. It doesn't matter how often you have done this or practiced or when you have been trained. It is always helpful to review the basics again and again and always necessary to start from the ground up (although there are no beginner only practices or stages). Of course, the best is to go consult with an actual teacher. If that is not possible there are many non-pop Buddhist books and websites with teachers who have been trained and can speak authoritatively until you can.


[My bold & italics]

What I mean by the purpose of the exercise is that practising concentrating on counting breaths is that this is the technique or method that is used. I am not saying that "concentration and counting" are in themselves the purpose of zazen. Absolutely not.
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Re: Question/s on Zazen mechanics

Postby Michaeljc on Sun Aug 30, 2015 8:22 am

What I mean by the purpose of the exercise is that practising concentrating on counting breaths is that this is the technique or method that is used. I am not saying that "concentration and counting" are in themselves the purpose of zazen. Absolutely not


I very quickly abandoned counting the breath of my own accord :blush: and found that following the breath to be more natural. Teachers like Meido and Guo Gu have specific exercises in using breath that enhance relaxation. Talk to them, they don't bite :heya:
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