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A sleeping meditation

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A sleeping meditation

Postby JessicaLeigh on Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:15 pm

So, going to sleep is difficult for me. My body and brain just will not relax. Insomnia, sleep deficit, anxiety, stress; you know, all that. I'm sure I can get a witness :)

Anyways, I came across this sleep meditation in "Selections from the Embossed Tea Kettle (Hakuin)." I've done it a couple nights in a row and it helps me. So, I thought I'd share: —

"If you wish to practice this secret art, desist for a while from activities, refrain from meditating on the model subjects and first of all learn to sleep. Before you go to sleep or close your eyes, stretch out your legs and press them tight together, and let the energy of your whole body fill your body below your navel, breathing centre and loins, and time after time think of the following sort of things.

'It is this body of mine, all the parts below my navel and loins, which is nothing else than my own primal, essential dignity, what need then is there of such things as nostrils. This body of mine is my true original home, why should I need news of my (earthly) home? This body of mine is in very truth the pure paradise of my soul, what need is there of any further glory? This lowly body of mine is in truth my very own Amida, what law can he teach me?'"

Hakuin then shares how if you practice this meditation for a number of days, it will heal various ailments. He says that if it doesn't, you can chop off his head and carry it away. Wouldn't be Hakuin if he didn't mention someone chopping his head off! :lol2:
"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andrè Gide
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby Ted Biringer on Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:54 pm

JessicaLeigh wrote:So, going to sleep is difficult for me. My body and brain just will not relax. Insomnia, sleep deficit, anxiety, stress; you know, all that. I'm sure I can get a witness :)

Anyways, I came across this sleep meditation in "Selections from the Embossed Tea Kettle (Hakuin)." I've done it a couple nights in a row and it helps me. So, I thought I'd share: —

"If you wish to practice this secret art, desist for a while from activities, refrain from meditating on the model subjects and first of all learn to sleep. Before you go to sleep or close your eyes, stretch out your legs and press them tight together, and let the energy of your whole body fill your body below your navel, breathing centre and loins, and time after time think of the following sort of things.

'It is this body of mine, all the parts below my navel and loins, which is nothing else than my own primal, essential dignity, what need then is there of such things as nostrils. This body of mine is my true original home, why should I need news of my (earthly) home? This body of mine is in very truth the pure paradise of my soul, what need is there of any further glory? This lowly body of mine is in truth my very own Amida, what law can he teach me?'"

Hakuin then shares how if you practice this meditation for a number of days, it will heal various ailments. He says that if it doesn't, you can chop off his head and carry it away. Wouldn't be Hakuin if he didn't mention someone chopping his head off! :lol2:


Dear Jessica,

Thank you for sharing this. Great stuff! Your closing comment shows that you are clearly familiar with Hakuin's writings - it simply would not be the same without someone losing a head, or liver, spleen, eyeballs, or sitting so hard their ass falls off... Ha! Truly an inspiring ancestor - Thank Buddha for Hakuin!

To close, here is one of my favorites from him (an inspiring, human, passage - and a good 'checkpoint' for determining the quality of our 'sitting'):

As for sitting, sitting is something that should include fits of ecstatic laughter—brayings that make you slump to the ground clutching your belly. And when you struggle to your feet after the first spasm passes, it should send you kneeling to the earth in yet further contortions of joy.
Hakuin, Wild Ivy, Norman Waddell p.65


Please treasure yourself.
Ted
Do not misunderstand Buddhism by believing the erroneous principle ‘a special tradition outside the scriptures.’ Zen Master Dogen, Shobogenzo, Bukkyo (trans. Hee-Jin Kim)
Ted Biringer Author The Flatbed Sutra
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby Meido on Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:45 pm

Hi Jessica,

Nice indeed.

The practice is called Naikan no Ho. The word naikan is the same as the Chinese neidan); around here we translate this loosely as "internal cultivation". This exercise along with Nanso no Ho (the so-called "soft butter" visualization) are two treasures from Hakuin.

Depending on the lineage there are sometimes more details transmitted orally for these. For example, in ours there are details of body movement and breath that go with the simple instructions of "stretch out the legs and press them tightly together". But it's sufficient to just do as you're doing also: let the breath rest naturally in the abdomen, and bring the mind's attention to the lower portion of the body. Hakuin explains the use of koan-like concentration for this, but simply focusing one's attention on the lower body is fine. Another way this can be done very simply in any situation is to focus on the soles of the feet.

I have heard from a Japanese practitioner that there is a very detailed way of doing Naikan preserved at one temple that has variations of visualization and breathing prescribed according to the particular delusional habit to which the student is prone. It is also interesting that Torei, one of Hakuin's primary students, was knowledgeable regarding Shinto practices...so one of my teachers conjectured that his influence may well have helped shape what some lines have inherited today. All very interesting.

In any case, Hakuin's verbal instructions are sufficient to get benefit if practiced gently and with patience. His writings regarding these things have been widely distributed and quite popular over the centuries, which seems to fulfill his wish for these practices to be accessible to everyone in some form.

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
http://rinzaiheartland.blogspot.com
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby JessicaLeigh on Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:02 am

Thank you Ted and Meido for sharing.

Ted, I've only recently started reading Hakuin. His writing is just so dynamic and compelling. He really just puts it out there, you know? He's so blunt, and stark, and he has wrapped some beautiful language around his experiences and awakenings. I love it!

Meido, thank you for your comments. They help me to contextualize this practice and also to appreciate some of its nuances. Personally, I'm interested in learning the full comprehensive practice, orally transmitted instructions included! I'm moving in that direction :)

Jessica
"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andrè Gide
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby TTT on Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:34 am

Hi all.

I have heard some where thet this practis of haikuin, focusing on the abbdoman and stretching, is called a "dark practis"?

Ther is some Zen saying "sleep when you have to sleep". I think about thet some. But think thet i can only understand it, the
saying, my own way. I think thet the zen saying is supposed to be liberating and thet buddhism or zen is a life long thought?
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby Michaeljc on Fri Jun 19, 2015 8:35 am

Jessica -

Do you sit Zazen immediately before you go to bed?

If so, does this make any difference?

IME Zazen can have variable impact on sleep patterns, depending on its duration and intensity

Interesting stuff :)

m
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby Linda Anderson on Fri Jun 19, 2015 8:46 am

Jessica,
first things first, suggest you get your body in balance.... that is, remineralize and rebalance your body. Haukin is a great master, but I won't trust him to bring my body chemistry to rest... everyone in it's place. Time is wasted when we confuse meditation and chemistry.

Please forgive if I have come to the wrong conclusion.

linda
Last edited by Linda Anderson on Fri Jun 19, 2015 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:49 pm

Jessica,

JessicaLeigh wrote:So, going to sleep is difficult for me. My body and brain just will not relax. Insomnia, sleep deficit, anxiety, stress; you know, all that. I'm sure I can get a witness :)

Amen! I'm a ready witness. :heya:

Well, I "always" say ...don't neglect physical practice.

Hmm-m, 5 minutes of very slow bowing to the floor ("prostrations") can be very thorough in working most of the muscles gently before bed. You know the way how we prostrate in the zendo, but rather fast? Well, if you slow that down greatly, and practice this, it can be a help. Also it's a great way to get the body going again in the morning (paradoxical, I know; but that's real life for ya). :)

The extended periods of prostrations are a great help to the legs over time, too, and to the belly and spine. I feel that this is a help to our zazen posture, and our comfort in the posture. I'd say, too, that prostrations are thus not an invention "just" for ceremonial or ritual purposes, but that there is real Wisdom and Compassion in the old worthies' bringing them in and maintaining them as a part of daily Zen Buddhist practice, down the centuries.

with wishes!,

--Joe
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby JessicaLeigh on Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:22 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone :)

Michael, I typically sit in the a.m. I find zazen a bit stimulating for right before bed. Recently though, I've been moved to sit some evenings. Weird and interesting things happen with my body and mind when I sit at night. The way my awareness and sleep onset work are different. Can't really find good words for it. It's just weird, and interesting! But I like it :)

Hi TTT, I'm not familiar with the phrase "dark practice," so I'm not sure. But I'd say, yes, zen Buddhist practice is lifelong.

Joe, physical practice, yes! Lately I've been sitting more, something seems to have grabbed me. And I realize, actually my body isn't quite up to the task. I feel like a toddler. Like, I'm realizing, I don't know how to walk. I don't know how to sit down, or stand correctly. I mean this in literal terms. So now, I'm all kinds of self conscious, just walking around like "wow, I don't know how to walk. I have to learn how..." Yoga helps, when I actually get my butt to the studio! :)
"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andrè Gide
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby Michaeljc on Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:36 pm

Michael, I typically sit in the a.m. I find zazen a bit stimulating for right before bed


Jessica - how long do you sit for? You know all about correct posture right?
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby JessicaLeigh on Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:07 pm

Michael,

I sit for 20 minutes. My pattern has been two or three days per week. I m ow that's not sufficient and am moving toward practicing daily.

I do know about the posture, from video instruction, reading, and one or two posture adjustments I've received during half day retreat from the resident teacher (a Soto priest & yoga teacher). At the same time, I'm not confident in my posture, nor stable in it. I definitely need to get my posture checked, and just be around more experienced and stable practitioners in the flesh.

The main issue I'm having right now is that the teacher and sangha I intend to establish long-term practice with is in a different city. I'm quite clear and certain of this and have concrete plans to move there in a year or so. I just need to save up enough money, and get a bit more tenure at my job so I can transfers my position when I'm ready to move. In the meantime, regards my practice, I cannot waste any time. At minimum, I need to establish a regular daily practice, a strong foundation. Beyond that, I'm not sure.

Anyways, I'm planning to reach out to the sangha, explain my situation and intentions, and hopefully receive some guidance as to how to move forward. There are other practice groups nearby. At this point though, my mind is clear about where and with whom I wish to train. Consequently, I'm disinclined to receive posture adjustments elsewhere, simply because I don't want to establish habits that may be difficult for me to beak when I come into the practice with my chosen teacher. I think much of this will be cleared up for me after making contact with the sangha I wish to practice with. Actually, I'll be writing a letter of introduction today. I'm nervous though, I don't know what they're gonna say!

Wish me luck :)
Jessica
"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andrè Gide
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby Caodemarte on Mon Jun 22, 2015 7:15 pm

I would not worry that taking posture adjustment from one zen group would conflict with advice from another. You will adapt any advice to your situation,or disregard it as you wish in any case. Posture advice from any knowledgeable source can be very helpful (non-zen yoga teachers can often help) and Zen groups should not vary much.
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby Caodemarte on Mon Jun 22, 2015 7:53 pm

Getting back to the sleeping question:

One Rinzai teacher has publicly suggested that one sleep that one way to sleep is to lay on your back, place you hands on you abdomen (or, rather lower abdomen). Breathe from the abdomen (without excessive tension) and lightly hold your method there. If you are focussing on breathing, focus on the breath coming from the abdomen. Again, the key is to do this lightly. None of this replaces zazen, of course, and is not a healing method of any kind, but may help you sleep. He believes that you are more likely to to go to sleep earlier and more likely to wake up remembering your method.
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby TTT on Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:14 pm

There are other methods too. For example falling asleep with a motivation "may i sleep and wake up early". This heals the mind.
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:53 pm

I sit for 20 minutes. My pattern has been two or three days per week


Jessica -

I find that 20 min is not long enough

One day try a 45 min sit directly before bed - as an experiment

Surrender fully to what in the beginning feels like an awful amount of time

The longer sits help us to forget about time

Don't fret about your posture. Adopt it as you can in the beginning and stick with it

The right 'dosage' of Zazen can lead us/me into a state where we/I can lie in bed fully content at not being asleep. This leads to a deep sleep that requires less hours than normal

As I find it

Cheers

m
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby fukasetsu on Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:56 pm

JessicaLeigh wrote:Actually, I'll be writing a letter of introduction today. I'm nervous though, I don't know what they're gonna say!

Wish me luck :)
Jessica


Wouldn't be much fun if you'd knew before hand right? :PP:

Don't live between the endless narrative loop of hope and fear, live is so beautiful if you're free from all that noise.
Just write a letter from the heart. You cannot control what happens all you can do is' control' the way you react to happenings,
they'll say what they'll say anyway, whether it be want you want to hear or not, consider it all a blessing, a teaching.

Remember that karma is habit energy, for instance a person who habitually gets angry about stuff, is bound to get triggered in their surroundings which anger them. So they get angry regarding the event which happened (or a person), while a follower of the way (a bit matured) considers it a blessing because they were giving an opportunity to look at their own psychological (or karmic) obstacles, others deal with anxiety, or whatever vexation is out there. If you see it all like that (as a blessing) there is no fear, and nothing ever goes wrong. ;)

"Good fortunes!"
Mijn Oude Vriend uit de woestijn begrijpt geen Nederlands. <3
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Re: A sleeping meditation

Postby lobster on Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:24 pm

Oh I thought this was about dream yoga, or yoga nidra or zen in the art of sheep counting.

My favourite technique is putting on some worthy dharma podcast ... I am in a coma in no time ... :hide:
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