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Thread: accepting things as they are

  1. #1

    accepting things as they are

    I am going through some tough times right now, and I find it increasingly difficult to accept things as they are. It's easier to let go of my thoughts of "I should have done this" or "what if it happened this way" when I'm sitting, but when I get off of the Zafu, it's almost as if I've forgotten how to accept things. It does help if I have a task to perform and I can be mindful of my work, but once I stop the thoughts flood back into my mind. I don't have a particular question; I just wanted to mention it and see what others at treeleaf have to say.

    Gassho,
    Steven

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bunny's Avatar
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    I will speak from my own experience/practice. From my own experience I have learned that sometimes when life/practice is particularly tough it's best to practice in bite sized chunks. Sometimes if I am in the middle of a strong emotional reaction or difficult external experience...I might only be able to stay with the experience for a few breaths of time. That's okay. Sometimes I need a break. I just keep coming back to it and taking those little bites as much as I can. Those little bites add up and sooner or later the big unbearable thing (whatever it is at the moment) becomes more bearable-I'm more able to practice with it for longer periods of time.

    A couple of other things that are useful to me...
    -I also find that self compassion is important during tough times.
    -Viewing the difficulty with objectivity definitely helps too.
    -If I am aware I am getting carried away in thoughts or emotions, I can use that as a wake up bell to return to the present. If I notice all the thoughts flooding into my mind I can think to myself, "there are those thoughts again. time to get back to the present" and then just gently shift my attention to whatever is going on in the present moment (sounds, smells, textures, whatever I am able to notice).

    Thank you for sharing this.
    Gassho
    Bunny

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Hey Steven,

    Awareness of what your mind does is a big deal - well done.

    Difficulty in accepting "things as they are" is a cause of great suffering - I'm sorry things are tough. Zazen doesn't offer easy answers.

    The fine print: sometimes the noise is so loud that the best you can do is white knuckle it from moment to moment - like they say, sometimes you have to "fake it 'til you make it."

    The good news: It is possible to find the stillness in the midst of the noise you experienced on the zafu at anytime however - remember to breathe and be aware of what your mind is broadcasting. Whether you are an observer of those thoughts or participant is up to you - it does take practice.

    You could have a number of mini-zazen sessions during the day if your schedule permits.... even two minutes while parked in your car or stopped at a traffic light.... standing in line at the supermarket. Like "topping off the tank", to keep your emotional reserves up.

    Thanks for this post. We are always here if you need us - let us know how things are going.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 10-10-2013 at 02:01 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  4. #4
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    Steven,

    You have already received wonderful advice. The one thing that I have told my sister is to quit beating yourself up over things that happened. Nothing can change what has happened but as it was already said having self compassion can help you deal with the thoughts of the moment. We do learn from the things of the past but dwelling on them is hurtful. One of the Precepts is "do no harm". Love yourself. If you can try, each time that those thoughts begin, stop what you are doing if you can and take three breaths. With each breath say I am in control of the present and I am not controlled by the past.

    Gassho,
    Heishu


    “Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape." Author Unknown

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Heishu,


    Thank you for a wonderful teaching I would do well to heed myself.

    Steven,
    Thank you for offering us an opportunity to practice - we are all teachers and students at the same time.

    I bow to you.

    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 10-10-2013 at 02:17 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunny View Post
    -I also find that self compassion is important during tough times.
    This is one of the harder things for me to accomplish. I find it much easier to be compassionate towards others than myself.


    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post
    You could have a number of mini-zazen sessions during the day if your schedule permits.... even two minutes while parked in your car or stopped at a traffic light.... standing in line at the supermarket. Like "topping off the tank", to keep your emotional reserves up.
    Yugen, thank you for this suggestion. The thought of having mini-zazen sessions never crossed my mind. I am definitely going to try this out throughout my day.

    Gassho,
    Steven

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    I'm interested to know if the mini-zazen (Jundo calls it "insta-zazen!") helps - stay in touch!

    And first of all, as good friends here have reminded us, be kind to yourself.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 10-10-2013 at 02:31 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bunny's Avatar
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    Objectivity has been really helpful in bringing compassion to myself. If I am able to relate to myself as just "a being suffering" rather than "me with all my history, emotions, thoughts, behaviors, etc" it's much easier to get to that compassion. Sometimes a mental exercise can be useful-trying to view myself through the eyes of the ones that love me.

    I love "mini zazen"

    Gassho
    Bunny

  9. #9
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Metta to you and your difficult spot. We all have them. Do I think Zen has helped me in tough times? Yes!!! It is important to recall when things change, that when things seem to be going all our way Zen is important too. Good, bad, rough, easy-Zen

    Gassho
    C
    Last edited by Clark; 10-10-2013 at 03:14 AM.

  10. #10
    I don't have much to add Steven that the wonderful folks here have already said. But, I do wish you much metta and hope things work out for you soon.

    Gassho
    Shingen



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  11. #11
    Hi Sam,

    Great advise and wise words already have been spoken here. I would like to add my thoughts (for what it is worth) if you don't mind?
    There are two ways we can deal with all that challenge us in our lives. We can fight and live in a constant state of readiness to fight, defend, take, grab etc. outward to others but oddly enough even more so inward, aimed at ourselves. Being like a rattlesnake all the time, poised and ready to strike at an instant. There is a second way you know. One that takes a lot of courage, practice and a very different state of mind. The best word as far as I can tell ( so that is not saying much) is to SURRENDER. Dear Rev. Taigu often says: "Drop it, just drop it!" Not meaning to just lie down, take every beating you or someone else wants to give you and just give up mind you, but a very different kind of surrendering. How this works is different for everyone I'm afraid? Maybe take a broom and practice surrendering to the sweeping itself? That's a "bridging practice" I do sometimes, maybe it works for you too? Just sharing you know, not saying I know anything.

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  12. #12
    Certainly the dichotomy between the way things are and how I wish they were is my greatest source of suffering. I spent most of my cushion-time (I can hardly call it zazen) last night wrestling with such things, despite Robert Aitkin roshi's observation that my aversion to the way things are is not external to me; it arises from within my own mind. When I push against it, it pushes back, and this is actually one motion, as it's me pushing against myself. Futile, frustrating, exhausting, but perhaps part of the process...and in my experience acceptance is a process, not an event. Perhaps it's because I'm such a dull practitioner; acceptance of reality only comes to me with the exhaustion of all other alternatives. Many of us must learn to accept the wholly unacceptable; my brother & sister-in-laws are just beginning to learn to accept the death of their only child; a Dharma sister the death of her grandson. I cannot find a mustard seed from a home that death has not touched. Cognitively, I understand this. Yet it's still very hard for me. Them, too.
    Just this; just as it is.
    May you be at peace Steven.
    Last edited by Piobair; 10-10-2013 at 11:32 AM.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  13. #13
    Metta to you Steven.

    I think we all go through periods of rumination when it's hard to let go of stuff. My mind has been racing all over the place this week due to a difficult
    group dynamic I'm involved in.

    Today I thought - there should be a box on those forms - where they ask what faith you are - labelled 'failed Buddhist' - just for me

    Please be kind to yourself and know this will pass.

    Gassho

    Willow

  14. #14
    There is a certain angst in the human condition because we don't really know anything about the future and our thoughts are dominated by the past . Embracing this not knowing, this don't know mind happens one breath at a time like one ocean wave at a time. And as yugen says sometimes we have to white knuckle it.

    Sent from my RM-860_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
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    Rich

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Sometimes mental images are like zombies. When you think you killed them, they return and sometimes even stronger!

    But being mindful of when your mind floods with crap is a good start because you can actually see where it's all coming from and eventually you'll be able to let go.

    The more resistance, the more suffering.

    I have found that observing life and understanding that it's me clinging to my ego and to my ideal results, I end up suffering.

    So just surf the waves, don't oppose them!

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    The more resistance, the more suffering.

    So just surf the waves, don't oppose them!
    I did notice that the more I wished and hoped that things turned out differently, I would literally exhaust myself physically and emotionally. I took the mini-zazen advice that Yugen gave me and it was a huge help today. That and just being mindful of the tasks I was performing at work as opposed to being off in "la-la land" made me even more aware that things are just as they are and I shouldn't dwell on the past or ponder the future so much. It's one thing to recall a fond memory or look forward to an event, but to find yourself 45 minutes later dwelling on a negative event is definitely not what needs to be going on in the mind. Thank you all!

  17. #17
    Such "mini-Zazen" is very powerful, and I find myself Practicing so maybe a few dozen times each day. Even just for a moment or a few seconds.

    I wrote about it as part of our "Always Beginners" series ...

    Introducing Insta-Zazen! ©
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-%28Part-XX%29

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Steven,
    I'm so glad the mini-Zazen helped! (Even though I am engaging in copyright infringement) Insta-zazen I mean.....

    Now you can try it in all sorts of situations.... kind of like Green Eggs and Ham..... "on a plane, in a boat, on the sea, with a cup of tea...."

    Keep it up!

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  19. #19
    Senior Member JeffreyB's Avatar
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    I think that being new to practice can be an infinitely difficult time because for the first time we are stopping and taking a hard look into ourselves and that can certainly affect how we interact with the outward world, and not always in a positive way. Our ego-mind fights us at every turn like a rope around our ankles, tripping us and laughing at us. It can be hard to reconcile the cushion with the phenomenal world. I know that at times I have been accused of being a "terrible Buddhist" because people tend to have this idea that we are tree-hugging hippies that speak softly and gush serenity and profound one-liners at every turn. I like to remind them that I am a work in progress and that I am still a baby on this path. Take things one step at a time and when things become overwhelming, break it up into smaller chunks that are easier to process and neutralize. And of course, sit.

    Gassho and metta,
    Jeffrey
    "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
    Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  20. #20
    The practical application of Zen lies in us confronting each moment, not just being present in the moment but -being- the moment. And that can be so very difficultly sometimes. A tough day at work where nothing goes right, a fight with your partner or a friend, a death.

    It can be very scary because we are so conditioned, especially in today's fast paced world to suppress reality: television, music, smartphones, whatever distraction available at our finger tips at that moment.

    The purity when we sit allows us to confront these swirling feelings. But as Jundo and Taigu teach us, we observe them from a distance. They are feelings, they come and they go. Some are so pleasant and some not very, both are ok. We just witness, don't get swept up by them, and we continue to sit.

    Gassho,

    Lu
    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  21. #21
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Find support from outside. Friends, family, whatever. Someone who can share in your suffering. They can 'sit' through your suffering with you. There are bodhisattvas all around, just allow them to appear....

    Above all, don't be afraid, even of being afraid. Please hold on. I dunno who really are, but I know that you can make it. This sadness, fear, whatever, has happiness in the end.
    Gassho
    Ben

  22. #22
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    The thoughts will bombard you but keep sitting. Nothing new to add.

    Gassho

    Shawn

  23. #23
    Yea! Lovely answers! I´m so glad I practice with you guys! Tough times are very challenging for our practice, I´ve been the last 3 months on tough times myself, insta-zazen works great for me and also works great to tell myself this: "When you get off the zafu...take your zazen mind with you everywhere, as much as you can, without attachment" and that self advice has been really useful.

    Gassho

    kb
    Meditate and Defy.

  24. #24
    Steven,
    what you dsecribes sound familiar. These nagging thoughts and judgements in my experience calm down as practice continues. But I experienced too times of great calmness and again times of a storm of thoughts, but overall I think it calmed down over the years. I would go so far as to state that what you describe is everyday life for many of not most people. I believe most people feel uncomfortable when not being busy, be it working, sports, talking, watching tv etc etc, just stitting seems impossible for those. In my opinion you have the big advantage that you already found zazen, and that you enjoy sitting and see the "benefit". Thank you for sharing and your practice,
    Gassho
    Myoku

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