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Thread: ADD, Practice, Trying Without Trying - How do you do it?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Exclamation ADD, Practice, Trying Without Trying - How do you do it?

    Hi all,

    I have ADD and it's immensely difficult for me to pay attention. In Jundo's first video in the Beginner Talks, there was a blender and it was very, very loud. That is my mind day in and day out and it's rarely quiet, no matter what I do. Some days, when I think about sad things, it usually slows down, so I sometimes intentionally think about sad things. When I'm happy, it gets really, really fast and excited and I lose track of many things, my body, my responsibilities etc. Right now, it's difficult to try and write what I want to say because my thoughts are moving by so fast and I have little time to recognize that they're even there, much less type them down.

    Day in and day out, my life consists of great effort to try and pay attention and get the job done. I often have to go to great lengths of dialogues with myself to keep myself doing things I should be doing.

    "Ben, you're doing so and so, now you're doing this, you should be doing that next... don't forget to do this, so and so"

    Now my question is if there are other people there with ADD.... how do you practice everyday? Sitting is so difficult, mostly very boring.... can I keep my dialogue? I need some anchor... shikantaza is no anchor... this sense of I just gets thrown about like in a tornado and I end up as scattered as when I begin sitting. Breathing is sooooo boring as well. Should I just force myself?

    But then forcing yourself, trying... how do I put in great, great effort without... putting any effort? This feels like a koan... how do I solve my koan? I can't do it sitting... right? or

    I'm so confused and scattered...

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  2. #2
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    how do I put in great, great effort without... putting any effort?
    The way I see it (and really, I know nothing about koans), there's only 3 things to do:

    1. Commit yourself to your practice.

    2. Be patient with yourself.

    Hmmmmm, forgot the third point!

    Gassho,

    Lisa

    2.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    It's so hard to be patient with myself.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Last edited by Tiwala; 10-30-2013 at 05:28 AM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  4. #4
    Hello Ben,
    thank you for being so open to your Sangha. I dont know anything about ADD, so my comment is rather about some other things you said,
    hope it helps though,

    Bein patient with oneself is vital. I tend to push and hit myself all day, but this leads nowhere. Like Lisa said, being patient is a key that unlocks many doors, be patient with yourself. Forgive yourself. Accept yourself. Play with the cards you have at every moment. You are ok, accept to be like you are. Move from where you are, one step at a time.

    If watching the breath is boring, than I would recommend to go with this. Yes, Shikantaza is without anything to hold on, but if you feel uncomfortable with this, my experience is to go with watching or even counting the breath. It hopefully leads you to Shikantaza anyway, but be patient, its not happening in a day or two. We're not in a hurry, things take there time.

    Thank you for your practice and Gassho
    Myoku

  5. #5
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    Hi Tiwala!
    I do not have ADD, but I have a hard time to concentrate at times.There is an exercise where you measure your breath also. I've got it from Thich Nhat Hanh. Counting slowly during inbreaths and outbreaths. I do this sometimes when even counting the breaths are to hard for me. After some minutes of measuring the breaths I go back to counting, then following the breath and then just sitting, shikantaza. It's like a stair I go down and up on. This is only my take on this and I do not know if it's the best way.

    Gassho
    Edward

  6. #6
    Dear Ben,

    we all come from completely different positions and situations regarding our physical hardware aka our bodies, emotional and mental imprints etc. The practise of Zen is open to all because it is not in opposition to this life, this universe/reality/God, but is a conscious and dynamic expression of it.

    What do I mean by this? You can never be left out of this practise, you can never do it wrong or right in terms of comparisons. All we can ever do is work with what we have to the best of our ability.

    Whether we are really doing that is something only we ourselves can answer.

    Sadly I have next to know knowledge of ADD but can inly guess that a lower sugar intake, more physical exercise and less multi-task distractions throughout the day might benefit your Zen practise.


    Gassho,


    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  7. #7
    Hi Ben

    I don't have ADD but do have a condition which affects the adrenal glands and that can often lead to sitting feeling 'wired' with the body buzzing and thoughts racing. At times like those I find that doing shikantaza leads to quickly being swept away by the turbulence of thoughts and having an anchor like the breath is a better way to practice. Meditation can often feel boring. That is okay.

    Interesting you say that thinking about sad things slows your mind down as in Tibetan practice one of the antidotes to a racing mind is contemplating your own death and the death of others close to you.

    Other advice I would offer is:

    1. Sit little and often and build up gradually to longer periods.
    2. Rest your attention in your hara centre/dan tien rather than your head
    3. Spend some time becoming aware of your body and posture when you begin. This can be very grounding. It can also be good to return to this if you go completely off track. I use Reggie Ray's 10 points of awareness for sitting meditation - become aware of where your legs touch the ground (two points), your bottom cheeks on the cushion (two points), hands in your lap, your upright spine, both shoulders (two points), head resting slightly downwards and eyes relaxed looking lightly ahead and down.

    Note - points 2 and 3 are not part of shikantaza as we practice it at Treeleaf.

    Gassho
    Andy

  8. #8
    Hi Ben,

    I read somewhere you can use the sentence "how does it feel?" as a practice somtimes. I say use because it is not a verbal mantra you repeat over and over. It's asking in the way you search inward, observe and try to sense. A wordless question you ask yourself without any words but with your gut. Try to feel what you feel at that very moment, any moment and watch it as an observer. Try to communicate with this unrest of the mind. This way you can change this uniqueness in you and learn to not perceive it as a foe but a useful tool in your practice. In my mind, shikantaza is not trying to do nothing or learn a new trick. Even not doing is "doing not-doing" or think "not thinking" like Dogen said. Observe your feelings about your troubles with concentration. Observe yourself sitting and all that comes with it, without sticking to it or thinking of it as something you must get rid of someday. Taigu said something about this in a vid. pointing to the option of communicating with something and then unwrapping it ( that was about pain but should apply to things like this too?). It's about acceptance, you know.

    Hope this helps?

    Gassho

    E.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Having ADD myself I can see a bit where you're coming from. Smaller blocks of zazen to begin with is my suggestion. Once you can sit for just 5-10 minutes then increase another 5 . work your way up. For me, I've also noticed that if you don't practice regularly it's more difficult when you come back to the practice. So, if say you work up for 20-25 min. then stop sitting for a few months you will have difficulties with longer sits again. It takes time for everyone. So, yes, you do have to be patient. Don't look for results, just sit.
    Dave _/\_

  10. #10
    I have some difficulties with attention and focus that have improved over time. Breaking up Zazen over smaller blocks of time has helped. Hyperfocusing on watching the breath or counting also has helped over time to slow down the brain and eventually letting go of any anchors when sitting. :-)

    Gassho, John
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    In my humble opinion and limited experience, ADD can be controlled by practicing discipline everyday, in most activities.

    Shut down distractions when studying, working or doing stuff. If you wash the dishes, focus on that. No music, no TV. Pay attention to details of the activity at hand.

    If you are reading, no Internet and no music.

    When walking, focus on the path.

    Bring your mind to where you are now. Like Tich Nhat Hanh says, bring your mind home. And do it by small periods.

    With discipline and patience, this little practice will permeate other activities, like zazen.

    But as the other wise Treeleafers said before, be patient. Controlling our band of monkeys doesn't happen overnight.

    Oh, and I would also work this out with the help of my doctor.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    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

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Ben,

    Thank you for writing your story and being so open about it. I have had ADD since I was 16 (I'm 38 now) and have taken medication for much of that time. I don't know if you medicate, but if you do you are probably well aware that it isn't a cure for it. Neither is zazen. It is medicine we must regularly take to keep us on track.

    I am only a priest in training, so please take what I say as the advice of a worker on the factory floor and not a foreman! If you can, try to let go of things like keeping lists of feelings, saying that made you feel better, and those thoughts which hold you down. It is so hard to do, but I have slowly begun after several years of practice. a calm those winds of inattention. How? By just sitting and allowing it to hit me all at once like a wave.

    None of it is easy. When I first started sitting I found myself swaying back and forth while I sat! It took some time, but eventually it stopped. But I still have moment of fidgeting to this day. That never goes completely away, in my experience. Results will vary and you need to give it time. Commit to sit for a period for a period of time: 5 minutes, 10 minutes...1 minute if that's all you can do. And don't try to stop the feelings...let them flow! It can be scary, like a tidal wave hitting you. But on the other side you feel better.

    A saying I saw the other day: "Smooth Seas Do Not Make Good Sailors". I believe that is true.

    I have more to say, but have to get my son ready for his Halloween party in an hour! But, you can send me a private message if you want (or find a time to Skype?). Otherwise, I will post again soon. Please be good to yourself, ok? We are always here!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Hi all,

    I have ADD and it's immensely difficult for me to pay attention. In Jundo's first video in the Beginner Talks, there was a blender and it was very, very loud. That is my mind day in and day out and it's rarely quiet, no matter what I do. Some days, when I think about sad things, it usually slows down, so I sometimes intentionally think about sad things. When I'm happy, it gets really, really fast and excited and I lose track of many things, my body, my responsibilities etc. Right now, it's difficult to try and write what I want to say because my thoughts are moving by so fast and I have little time to recognize that they're even there, much less type them down.

    Day in and day out, my life consists of great effort to try and pay attention and get the job done. I often have to go to great lengths of dialogues with myself to keep myself doing things I should be doing.

    "Ben, you're doing so and so, now you're doing this, you should be doing that next... don't forget to do this, so and so"

    Now my question is if there are other people there with ADD.... how do you practice everyday? Sitting is so difficult, mostly very boring.... can I keep my dialogue? I need some anchor... shikantaza is no anchor... this sense of I just gets thrown about like in a tornado and I end up as scattered as when I begin sitting. Breathing is sooooo boring as well. Should I just force myself?

    But then forcing yourself, trying... how do I put in great, great effort without... putting any effort? This feels like a koan... how do I solve my koan? I can't do it sitting... right? or

    I'm so confused and scattered...

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Ben,

    I'd say a good first step here is to see that ADD is only an attribute, not who you are. Like all words, it is but a label that we attach to something intangible. Besides that, I would agree with the Sangha that shorter periods of zazen could be beneficial for your at first. I would also recommend Jundo's intsta-zazen technique as well, and fiddle with mindfulness. It's also important to accept and let go. That strategy has helped me immensely. Accept and let go. If you experience racing thoughts, boredom or distress during zazen; sit with it. Neither push it away or pull it toward you. The mind can be like a stormy sky. When we wish it wasn't, the storm only grows stronger. When we accept the clouds, they no longer effect us and overtime they will dissipate, and really above them the there's always been the clear blue. Peace and clarity are with you this very moment, they are just obscured. Anyway, just thought I'd share and I wish you the best my friend!

    Gassho, John

  14. #14
    I had trouble initially doing the "do nothing" just sitting shikantaza as well. It felt so confusing and I wasn't sure if it was working for me. With an object your meditation becomes so simple and easy to do. With shikantaza there is lot of confusion and uncertainty to deal with. From what I have seen shikantaza is taught in two major ways. The kind of do nothing and also the other kind (Taigu teaches this and there are other popular teachers who teach this way) where you simply observe/be-aware-of/be-with what's happening in your sitting (in your environment, body, mind) without manipulating it. I found that to be a bit more stable practice and easier to follow. But after a few months with that somehow I was drawn to just sitting again. Not that one is better than the other. If you feel a bit confused initially, you can always sit in the above way. It is best to PM the teachers (Taigu and Jundo) to get their suggestions as well.

    Gassho,
    Sam

  15. #15
    Hello Ben,

    You say sitting is "boring" and breathing is "boring". Might it help to alter your perspective a bit on what is boring?

    I think what Kyonin suggested might help with that, to have you focus on doing one thing rather than many things at once. In that, you can try to see something "boring" as rather "peaceful," "relaxing," etc. And then maybe, "it is what it is".

    Boredom is just a state of mind.

    I don't know if my words will be helpful for your particular case, but it looks like there's a lot of good advice in this thread and I wish you all the best!

    Gassho,
    Stacy

  16. #16
    Hello Ben,

    I don't anything more to add that has not already been said. To simplify, I think Stacy says it well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy View Post
    Boredom is just a state of mind.
    Keep going with your practice ... things will work out, they usually do.

    Gasshoo
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Hi Ben,
    I admire and respect your honesty in sharing with us.

    What I am about to say please take with a huge grain of salt as I am a hopeless beginner and novice priest.

    The notion of small "bite size" Zazen sessions taken frequently I think is a great idea. Build from there. There is a lot of good wisdom here, and trust your own instincts as well. Knowing which questions to ask is an important piece of self knowledge.

    I bow deeply to you

    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

  18. #18
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Very true Stacy! Boredom implies that there's actually something to do, when actually at the same time there is always non-doing. It's kind of an aversion to how things are, thus boredom can create the conditions for Dukkha to arise. I used to feel bored a LOT. Not sure what happened, but these days there isn't a trace. Regardless, you'll be fine Ben if you practice; because really you're fine right now

    Gassho, John

  19. #19
    Hi,

    I am going to say a couple of points that may surprise some:

    First, it is possible that, if some's mental state were extreme such as in the case of truly uncontrollable runaway thoughts or other mental condition (e.g., someone suffering uncontrolled manic-depression, paranoia, psychosis or the like), that Shikantaza may not be right for them, and might be very wrong. The person's Karma (or just biology) means they are not cut out for it, that they might benefit from other forms of meditation (for example, one focused on a Koan phrase or image of Buddha in order to anchor the thoughts), or perhaps no form of meditation is right for them. In some cases, it may even be dangerous to meditate at all!

    Now, please do not misunderstand: I really don't think that we are there yet with Ben! It is too early to tell yet, after just a short time, whether Shikantaza is suited to him or not. Please stick with "Just Sitting" some more.

    Second, as strange as it sounds, "non-thinking" in Shikantaza can happen even in and as "runaway thoughts". This is a tricky point. However, Ben describes how his mind is filled with thoughts and he must sometimes make great effort to keep things from overflowing. One would misunderstand Shikantaza "Letting Thoughts Go" as an either/or proposition with doing that. In other words, one can do both at once! Yes, sounds like a conumdrum ... but this is Zen after all.

    In our way, one can have a flood of thoughts AND SIMULTANEOUSLY drop all thoughts, judgments, goals and such AT ONCE AS ONE. If it sounds like a Koan, it is.

    How to explain? Well, we simultaneously taste a realm beyond all thoughts and divisions right amid and as all thoughts and divisions. So, one can also taste a realm beyond "floods of thought" even as you continue on having "floods of thoughts" from ADD. It is a bit like being caught in a hurricane of swirling thoughts like the storm's wind, yet simultaneously experience the silence and stillness of the storm's center AS ONE.

    Does that kind of make sense ... in a Zenny way?

    So, please do not give up on Shikantaza yet.

    Furthermore, as I have frequently written about Shikantaza in the face of many conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders and the like: Zazen can go hand-in-hand with medical treatment for the same. The following speaks of panic attacks, but also applies to other conditions that people might be suffering such as depression, addictions and the like ... even ADD:

    Our emphasis here is on Shikantaza ... which may be said to be "being one" with what ails one, although not necessarily a cure for what ails one. HOWEVER, that "being one" with life ... can relieve much suffering in life. It is a strange thing ... we do not sit Shikantaza to be "better" or to make life "other than as it is" ...

    ... Yet, in the very stillness of letting life be "as is it" and embracing all of life ... and in dropping the hard borders and divisions between our "self" and the world ... this practice does thereby leave almost all people better ... and often does work an effective cure (or is one helpful part of the cure) ... from depression, stress, addiction, compulsive disorders, eating disorders, anger issues, self loathing ... you name it.

    We do emphasize mindfulness of our thoughts and emotions ... but not as a form of meditation. However, our Zazen is the radical non-doing of Shikantaza, and the "mind theatre" and tricks and games of the human mind is something that naturally we also become better able to recognize and avoid from sitting.

    ... I suspect that Shikantaza ... in its quietness, in the total stillness and acceptance ... would be something helpful with what you describe ...

    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher), cure cancer (although it may have some healthful effects and make one more attune to the process of chemotherapy and/or dying), etc. Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do is let one "be at one, and whole" ... TRULY ONE ... with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each, WHOLLY WHOLE with/as each one. There are many psychological problems or psycho/medical problems such as alcoholism that may require other therapies, although Zen can be part of a 12-Step program or such (a few Zen teachers in America with a drinking problem had to seek outside help). My feeling is that some things are probably best handled by medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment, not Zen teachers.

    My feeling is that receiving outside treatment, medication AND "just sitting" can all work together.
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post88359

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-30-2013 at 04:23 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Wonderful explanation Jundo ... thank you.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Wonderful explanation Jundo ... thank you.
    Agreed, thank you Jundo.

    Gassho, John

  22. #22
    Jundo, I agree with your explanation 110%.

    Gassho, Dr. John

  23. #23
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    It's so hard to be patient with myself.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    I'm so sorry, Ben, that you are struggling with patience towards yourself. I do not have ADD, but I do have a busy mind so I can understand, somewhat, what you are feeling. I would say, just continue on sitting, and show lots of metta to yourself, even if your mind is not working in such a way that you wish for it to. Just sit, with no expectations, sit with your racing mind, your confused and scattered mind. The clouds will be stubborn, that's ok, just sit with that. It may take a long time for those clouds to leave, like days, weeks, months, who knows, just sit with it and again, offer much metta to yourself

    And now I"m reading what Jundo posted, and that is very good advice also.

    Gassho,
    Treena
    Last edited by Joyo; 10-30-2013 at 06:27 PM.

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Hi all,

    I agree with much of what Jundo has to say and ultimately he is suggesting that shikantaza may not be for everyone which is undoubtedly right on the mark. However, much of the literature on ADD back in the 1990s used to claim that finding a certain "flow" to life was not possible for people with ADD and depression. I never believed that then and do not now. It is a daily struggle, no doubt, and I still have trouble sitting at particular times. I nearly always have something going through my mind, but what I have learned is to not engage those thoughts in physical action. I once compared the ability to keep one's attention on a task to a river. For most people, this river is rather small and contained, making it a simple matter to move the water downstream. For those with ADD, however, there is more water flowing down the stream, actually allowing one to be hyper-focused at times. What then happens is that the water will overflow that "regular" river and as a result the person with ADD needs to find (or create) more places for the water to flow.

    I believe in my heart that ADD is only a disability in modern times. In earlier periods of human history, people with ADD were wanders and explorers. They went into unknown lands, kept watch over others, and found ways to use their ability to expand our knowledge of the world. But in the here and now it can be difficult to keep up with the busy lives society has built for its citizens. That's where zazen can be helpful to some, but not all. For me, that society is very difficult to navigate and be fully engaged with in daily life. Sitting, while also very difficult, helped me find extra channels to divert that flood of attention by allowing it to flow around me without engaging the flood of thoughts. They are ALWAYS there. They never go away. It is so hard to let go. But I believe shikantaza can help by not trying to help. You don't look for solutions. You don't look for answers. They may never come! You can learn to just be with all that and let go of everything you are desperate to cling to.

    I am only a priest in training and my experience with the dharma is limited, so I offer only possibilities that did help me. I cannot say with any authority that they will work for anyone else. But often all I needed was a little hope that things COULD get better. That was no guarantee that they WOULD get better, but could was good enough for me. Very early on I made one decision that helped me immensely: I did not know if sitting would ever make me enlightened, but I knew it would never happen if I went looking for it. So, to this day I don't. I just keep sitting and by not trying to help myself, I helped myself more than I could ever have imagined.

    I hope these words are of some use to you Ben. But sitting is of no use whatsoever. And that is why it is such a wonderful gift.

    Deep bows to you and your practice.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Last edited by Dosho; 10-30-2013 at 08:00 PM.
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    What a profound, insightful, and genuine post. Thank you Dosho for your presence here.

    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

  26. #26
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone, for the kind advice.

    But, I think I need some time for myself. I realized that the more instructions I seek, the more confused I get. I'll chime in when I feel like I get it. For now, I think I'll just sit again and again and again until I get it. I have no idea if there's really nothing to get, but that's really all I can conceive of right now- a something to get.

    I felt like I'd been deluding myself, thinking I got it, but then I really don't. I just needed to let that out. Or let go. I don't know. I'm done with trying to sound zen. Or trying to be zen. Whatever. I hope you forgive this confused mess for using this place as his personal blog for his personal problems.
    May all of us get it?

    Question marks everywhere!

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  27. #27
    Hi Ben

    The conceiving of something to get is just a thought, or string of thoughts. You are right that advice only goes so far. Basically you just have to sit and the rest will take care of itself.

    Do keep asking questions. Questions are fine. That is what we are here for. You will probably find that a lot of them resolve themselves through sitting itself and maybe even fall away.

    Thank you for your practice. Sharing your problems with sitting is an act of generosity as there may be others here with similar issues who learn from the replies and are happy to know that others are experiencing the same. Also, for those who teach meditation, it is really helpful to know how a person with something like ADD experiences sitting.

    Gassho
    Andy

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Thank you everyone, for the kind advice.

    But, I think I need some time for myself. I realized that the more instructions I seek, the more confused I get. I'll chime in when I feel like I get it. For now, I think I'll just sit again and again and again until I get it. I have no idea if there's really nothing to get, but that's really all I can conceive of right now- a something to get.

    I felt like I'd been deluding myself, thinking I got it, but then I really don't. I just needed to let that out. Or let go. I don't know. I'm done with trying to sound zen. Or trying to be zen. Whatever. I hope you forgive this confused mess for using this place as his personal blog for his personal problems.
    May all of us get it?

    Question marks everywhere!

    Gassho, Ben
    I know this space well. Like having something lodge in your throat and you can't spit it out. I have been to many centers, sat with many different teachers, in many different styles. Japanese Rinzai. Korean Rinzai, Soto Rinzai mix. Hindu Advaita Vedanta, just to name a few. I was convinced that I knew something. That I was a breath away from something. A moment away from something.
    So I was looking. Trying to find that one teaching, that one expression, that one Thing that will make it all click. And you know what? It was exhausting. Every place I went had their own rules and very strong views about what is real practice, what is enlightenment, what is Truth, and according to them, I was doing something wrong. And, of course I believed them. And tried and tried. Then one day, I just couldn't go on. I realized, in tears actually, that I was fooling myself. I didn't know jack S**t. I didn't understand a single thing.
    Everything I ever read, everything I ever heard was like water being poured into a cup with thousand and one holes in it.
    I was tried of the spiritual games. The robes, the names, the whole show. Every place had different costumes it was like a never ending Halloween party. I just couldn't go on with the game.
    In tears, and completely broken down, I decided to sit. And it was beautiful. I wasn't searching for anything. I didn't want anything. I just sat.
    Just let the sitting take care of itself. When "I" is there searching, looking trying to get something, it causes so much unneeded suffering and struggles. But, in just one instant in which we can simply throw ourselves out. Throw away expectations, throw away ideas of what mediation should and should not give us, then we will be able to experience life as it is. Not as we want it. Not as we expect it. But as it is. The "Me" who is searching, who is struggling, who is trying to get something, that "I" that "Me" for one moment put it aside and see if any struggle remains. How is this moment before "you" say anything about it? How is that different from Now?

    Please forgive these words. As I do not mean to tell anyone about what is practice and what is not practice. Just sharing some of my very insignificant experiences.


    In Gassho
    Humbly,
    Seiryu

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu View Post
    I know this space well. Like having something lodge in your throat and you can't spit it out. I have been to many centers, sat with many different teachers, in many different styles. Japanese Rinzai. Korean Rinzai, Soto Rinzai mix. Hindu Advaita Vedanta, just to name a few. I was convinced that I knew something. That I was a breath away from something. A moment away from something.
    So I was looking. Trying to find that one teaching, that one expression, that one Thing that will make it all click. And you know what? It was exhausting. Every place I went had their own rules and very strong views about what is real practice, what is enlightenment, what is Truth, and according to them, I was doing something wrong. And, of course I believed them. And tried and tried. Then one day, I just couldn't go on. I realized, in tears actually, that I was fooling myself. I didn't know jack S**t. I didn't understand a single thing.
    Everything I ever read, everything I ever heard was like water being poured into a cup with thousand and one holes in it.
    I was tried of the spiritual games. The robes, the names, the whole show. Every place had different costumes it was like a never ending Halloween party. I just couldn't go on with the game.
    In tears, and completely broken down, I decided to sit. And it was beautiful. I wasn't searching for anything. I didn't want anything. I just sat.
    Just let the sitting take care of itself. When "I" is there searching, looking trying to get something, it causes so much unneeded suffering and struggles. But, in just one instant in which we can simply throw ourselves out. Throw away expectations, throw away ideas of what mediation should and should not give us, then we will be able to experience life as it is. Not as we want it. Not as we expect it. But as it is. The "Me" who is searching, who is struggling, who is trying to get something, that "I" that "Me" for one moment put it aside and see if any struggle remains. How is this moment before "you" say anything about it? How is that different from Now?

    Please forgive these words. As I do not mean to tell anyone about what is practice and what is not practice. Just sharing some of my very insignificant experiences.


    In Gassho
    Wow.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu View Post
    I know this space well. Like having something lodge in your throat and you can't spit it out. I have been to many centers, sat with many different teachers, in many different styles. Japanese Rinzai. Korean Rinzai, Soto Rinzai mix. Hindu Advaita Vedanta, just to name a few. I was convinced that I knew something. That I was a breath away from something. A moment away from something.
    So I was looking. Trying to find that one teaching, that one expression, that one Thing that will make it all click. And you know what? It was exhausting. Every place I went had their own rules and very strong views about what is real practice, what is enlightenment, what is Truth, and according to them, I was doing something wrong. And, of course I believed them. And tried and tried. Then one day, I just couldn't go on. I realized, in tears actually, that I was fooling myself. I didn't know jack S**t. I didn't understand a single thing.
    Everything I ever read, everything I ever heard was like water being poured into a cup with thousand and one holes in it.
    I was tried of the spiritual games. The robes, the names, the whole show. Every place had different costumes it was like a never ending Halloween party. I just couldn't go on with the game.
    In tears, and completely broken down, I decided to sit. And it was beautiful. I wasn't searching for anything. I didn't want anything. I just sat.
    Just let the sitting take care of itself. When "I" is there searching, looking trying to get something, it causes so much unneeded suffering and struggles. But, in just one instant in which we can simply throw ourselves out. Throw away expectations, throw away ideas of what mediation should and should not give us, then we will be able to experience life as it is. Not as we want it. Not as we expect it. But as it is. The "Me" who is searching, who is struggling, who is trying to get something, that "I" that "Me" for one moment put it aside and see if any struggle remains. How is this moment before "you" say anything about it? How is that different from Now?

    Please forgive these words. As I do not mean to tell anyone about what is practice and what is not practice. Just sharing some of my very insignificant experiences.


    In Gassho
    Seiryu - thank you for sharing.



    Willow

  31. #31
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Thank you Raf
    gassho, Shokai

    Sent from my Note 2 using Tapatalk4
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    What a wonderful thread. Lots of great advice and insight.

    I too suffer from diagnosed ADD, so if you have any questions on my coping/non-coping techniques feel free to PM me. I've gotten quite used to it as both a graduate student and a zen student (don't get me wrong, I'm not setting the world on fire with my studies or zen practice, but I'm surviving)

    Metta and Gassho to all the great practitioners in this thread!
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu View Post
    I know this space well. Like having something lodge in your throat and you can't spit it out. I have been to many centers, sat with many different teachers, in many different styles. Japanese Rinzai. Korean Rinzai, Soto Rinzai mix. Hindu Advaita Vedanta, just to name a few. I was convinced that I knew something. That I was a breath away from something. A moment away from something.
    So I was looking. Trying to find that one teaching, that one expression, that one Thing that will make it all click. And you know what? It was exhausting. Every place I went had their own rules and very strong views about what is real practice, what is enlightenment, what is Truth, and according to them, I was doing something wrong. And, of course I believed them. And tried and tried. Then one day, I just couldn't go on. I realized, in tears actually, that I was fooling myself. I didn't know jack S**t. I didn't understand a single thing.
    Everything I ever read, everything I ever heard was like water being poured into a cup with thousand and one holes in it.
    I was tried of the spiritual games. The robes, the names, the whole show. Every place had different costumes it was like a never ending Halloween party. I just couldn't go on with the game.
    In tears, and completely broken down, I decided to sit. And it was beautiful. I wasn't searching for anything. I didn't want anything. I just sat.
    Just let the sitting take care of itself. When "I" is there searching, looking trying to get something, it causes so much unneeded suffering and struggles. But, in just one instant in which we can simply throw ourselves out. Throw away expectations, throw away ideas of what mediation should and should not give us, then we will be able to experience life as it is. Not as we want it. Not as we expect it. But as it is. The "Me" who is searching, who is struggling, who is trying to get something, that "I" that "Me" for one moment put it aside and see if any struggle remains. How is this moment before "you" say anything about it? How is that different from Now?

    Please forgive these words. As I do not mean to tell anyone about what is practice and what is not practice. Just sharing some of my very insignificant experiences.


    In Gassho
    Beautifully said seiryu ... thank you for this.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  34. #34
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi, I still don't get it, but I've managed to think about what I think my problem is.

    Due to various causes and conditions, not limited to ADD, I've found myself pushing, pushing, pushing, never giving up, always facing life head on. True, i get wounded, but i force myself to embrace this as well, even if i squirm. This is true for almost everything I do. Everything I do involves a great deal of effort, and to drop all that, I think, is immensely scary. It's like being thrown into a dark well, not knowing if there's some water to catch my fall.

    I feel like, and firmly believe, I should always be doing my best because people depend on me, and I'm afraid of even letting my guard down a little bit. I can't just sit around and do nothing. That is, to me, equivalent to being useless, irrelevant and a leech off of society. I feel like I should always be doing something more, achieving more, pushing more. I am never ever satisfied, and I actively try to never be satisfied. The world is on fire, after all... gotta save as many people as possible.

    But, here's the catch. I find immense happiness from sacrificing myself like this. I don't really care if I get hurt, or a, thrown into hell, or forced to do the most horrifyingly boring task ever, going through great lengths to do things, as long as I know that the pain has meaning. And I find meaning in the service of others (ideally speaking, of course its not always the case. I am no saint)

    I don't know how to reconcile my restlesssness to do things with radical non-seeking. To me, restlessness, the flood of thoughts, the rush, the dukkha, samsara itself...all of it is both pain and happiness. It can't be any other. I.e., I just can't let go of seeking more because it is precisely all that drives the good and peace in me. It sounds so much like what everyone here talks about (nirvana is samsara, nirvana is samsara) but the flavour, the intensity and gravity I feel doesn't seem to correspond and I'm perplexed.

    I know some people find great peace, compassion and joy in this practice, but I'm really starting to doubt whether this is really something I can do. I've had this doubt for awhile, but of course, its really too early to decide. Moreover, I have a feeling that what I think is true and what people here think is true... its really just the same thing in different pacakges. In fact, the truth is precisely in my doing. That's why I'm still here, struggling.

    But please, how does all this fit into the mystery of shikantaza?

    Should I just let go of letting go?


    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  35. #35
    Tiwala, I also have ADDH. After reading some of my postings I can even feel my ADDH through them. For that I appreciate my Sangha here and them being so accepting and ptient of me. As much as I would like to say something, I believe everyone else has said it all. The only thing that I can do is sit with you- even from afar- and send Metta to you. Gassho.

  36. #36
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Also, I know he's more attune to rinzai, and Jundo knows I'm a big fan of their intensity, and has been very very nice in looking for centers here for me , but that's another story and not really that important....anyway

    But master Huangbo once said that Ananda, having a very very good heart, was still deluded or along those lines. A good heart does not necessarily translate to true insight... and I'm kind of anxious about this. Why? Because I'm afraid that what I'm doing is not right. . . Helping others, working my ass off...is it right? All these questions, where do I put them when I sit? I can't put them aside either... but then Zen master Seung Sahn said that if you attach to the hwadu(the questions, basically) you wont get enlightened. I like to hold onto things, knowing full well that they will fade. I don't particularly want to drop them, they'll drop on their own. Why can't I enjoy a thought while it lasts? Is that such a crime?

    As you can see, the questions are never gone.... my ADD always makes me doubt. I learned through my own experience that just doing it does way more good than waiting for an answer... ut how can sitting be of any good to me? I know its not good for anything, but it feels bad for me.

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  37. #37
    Ben,

    reading your posts I keep getting the feeling there must be some practical solution for your problem. In the last of the Rakusu video series by Taigu, a person is mentioned that just could not sit and still wanted to practice so this person made one rakusu after another as his practice. That idea kinda stuck with me because practice apparently extends beyond even sitting in certain cases. I'm no teacher so it's not my place to go there and tell you what to do with this but still, thinking of you this keeps coming into my mind.

    In an attempt to stick with you and at least try to comfort you a bit, some thoughts from an extremely deluded fellow student:

    Just sit and let Buddha do the work. It's hard. There will be good days and bad days and good days again and that is true for anyone here. Have you tried to sit and just listen to the world? Every time you doubt or get scared, turn your attention outside and listen to the cars go by or the rumor of people on the street. Just sit and listen. Open a door or a window and just sit and listen.

    Sounds like you are hoping to reach a mystery wonderland of peace and quiet and I can only try to understand how exhausting it all must be for you. Count small victories in the practical sense and forget stuff like truth, samadhi, samsara and nirvana. So you know, it doesn't ring my bell either you know. Get practical with it and remember, every time you are sitting, every time you show up at the zafu and pay attention, work with what is given you to work with, that is the goal reached already. Today not so good? What is good/ no so good? Try again later or tomorrow.

    Probably not very helpful, but it coming from a sincere wish you find a workable way to keep practicing.


    Gassho

    E.

  38. #38
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Ben,

    I know you are looking for answers, but I don't think you'll find them, at least not on your present course. Shikantaza may not be right for you, that's true, but I think the only way you can know for sure is if you commit to sitting every day for a week, two weeks, etc. And if you can find way to sit every day for a month, without any latching on to any thoughts of what your practice is getting you or what questions it will answer, perhaps you'll know if this path is where you should be.

    Drop EVERYTHING and sit. I don't think I can say it more plainly than that.

    Regardless, I wish you well and hope you find a way that feels right.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Last edited by Dosho; 11-01-2013 at 08:39 PM.
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Hi, I still don't get it, but I've managed to think about what I think my problem is.

    Due to various causes and conditions, not limited to ADD, I've found myself pushing, pushing, pushing, never giving up, always facing life head on. True, i get wounded, but i force myself to embrace this as well, even if i squirm. This is true for almost everything I do. Everything I do involves a great deal of effort, and to drop all that, I think, is immensely scary. It's like being thrown into a dark well, not knowing if there's some water to catch my fall.

    I feel like, and firmly believe, I should always be doing my best because people depend on me, and I'm afraid of even letting my guard down a little bit. I can't just sit around and do nothing. That is, to me, equivalent to being useless, irrelevant and a leech off of society. I feel like I should always be doing something more, achieving more, pushing more. I am never ever satisfied, and I actively try to never be satisfied. The world is on fire, after all... gotta save as many people as possible.

    But, here's the catch. I find immense happiness from sacrificing myself like this. I don't really care if I get hurt, or a, thrown into hell, or forced to do the most horrifyingly boring task ever, going through great lengths to do things, as long as I know that the pain has meaning. And I find meaning in the service of others (ideally speaking, of course its not always the case. I am no saint)

    I don't know how to reconcile my restlesssness to do things with radical non-seeking. To me, restlessness, the flood of thoughts, the rush, the dukkha, samsara itself...all of it is both pain and happiness. It can't be any other. I.e., I just can't let go of seeking more because it is precisely all that drives the good and peace in me. It sounds so much like what everyone here talks about (nirvana is samsara, nirvana is samsara) but the flavour, the intensity and gravity I feel doesn't seem to correspond and I'm perplexed.

    I know some people find great peace, compassion and joy in this practice, but I'm really starting to doubt whether this is really something I can do. I've had this doubt for awhile, but of course, its really too early to decide. Moreover, I have a feeling that what I think is true and what people here think is true... its really just the same thing in different pacakges. In fact, the truth is precisely in my doing. That's why I'm still here, struggling.

    But please, how does all this fit into the mystery of shikantaza?

    Should I just let go of letting go?


    Gassho, Ben
    If I may be so bold to say. It seems to me that you are over thinking this. Which is what we all do at some point. "Should I just let go of letting go?"
    No, let go of the one who is doing the letting go.

    Sounds all fancy and Zen like. But no, its really simple. In my very immature understanding. What this practice is pointing to, is that when you sit, don't bring yourself into it.

    What does that mean. We get so caught up in our mental activity that it has become our identity. So we tend to bring that with us in everything we do. When we sit, we tend to bring our entire history, our ideologies, our ideas of who we think we are into the picture. Really try it. Sit. Just sit.
    Really just sit. Don't add anything. Every time a thought comes up, "this is not for me" "How does this all fit in?" etc. Gently leave it aside. Anything that comes up leave it aside, and try to allow yourself to just be with what is.
    This is, in my view, the most powerful koan we will ever face. Because it is not a koan from a book. It is the koan of our very being. This is not something that one can figure out intellectually, it is something that we must dive into.

    Who sits? Who is having the difficulties? The body is in a certain posture. Is the body having the difficulties? The mind is jumping about. Is the mind having the difficulties? What are we adding to our present situation that is making this sense of difficulty?

    Just sit. Leave everything aside, just for one instant, and see if any struggle remains.

    Forgive me. I've been commenting a lot on issues better left for people with my experiences. But I do hope it can be of a little help.

    In Gassho
    Humbly,
    Seiryu

  40. #40
    There is one way to sit and 10,000 ways to sit and no way fits all. Let the Way sit you and have a sit. The ADHD brain is perfect as it is. No need to go anywhere else. :-)

    Gassho, John
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  41. #41
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    To be honest, I'm not really particularly looking for peace and quiet. Neither am I especially keen on being happy. This is probably not gonna last, like all other things, but that's ok.

    I'm just trying very hard to do the next best thing I can do, with how small I know. Its just that I feel forced to drop my thinking, and I'm wondering if its ok to just let it run wild.... as it has always been. I'm wondering if its ok to to be intense, to be extremely motivated, to fall but keep moving forward against all odds, to think, to feel! There is some obstruction. I've lived my life like this for so long, people seem to clear their minds, to become placid, still, equanimous, whatever that means....but more and more I'm starting to realize that this is simply not possible for me unless under some exhausted circumstances or intentional mental gymnastics, which, if I understand correctly, is not shikantaza!

    I sat for multiple times yesterday and the day before. 15-30 mins in length even. My thoughts kept on going all the same... not trying to change anything. Sitting, getting up, its like I never started or ended meditation. Its all the same... and it feels nice, not that I'm trying to make it feel nice, it just did. I just let my thoughts break free... I followed them, engaged them, when it happens, i analyze them, but sooner or later they just leave me. I have maybe a few seconds of silence then they come rushing again, as they've always done. I still sometimes wake up early in the morning from a restless mind like right now when I'm "slightly" excited haha.

    Shikantaza is really good for nothing, I understand that much.... but if I just let shikantaza and daily life meet, then I'm ok. This is still Buddha anyway, right? Walking, sitting, standing, peeing, pooping, eating, living, dying, THINKING, breathing, shouting, flying, distressing, wanting, falling, doing... no good no bad, simultaneously there and not, doesn't really matter... get it? I don't, but right now I don't really care. There are people out there who need my help and I am going to give my life to them wholly, completely, in a bang or no bang, just doing the next best thing I can do...

    I guess I'm just looking for validation...?

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  42. #42
    Some statistics say that up to 10% of children and 5% of adults have some form of ADHD such as inattentive type, hyperactive type or combined type. It would be a very safe bet to say that 3% of Soto Zen practitioners have ADHD. Not sure what they do when they sit, if anything.

    Gassho, John

  43. #43
    I sat for multiple times yesterday and the day before. 15-30 mins in length even. My thoughts kept on going all the same... not trying to change anything. Sitting, getting up, its like I never started or ended meditation. Its all the same... and it feels nice, not that I'm trying to make it feel nice, it just did. I just let my thoughts break free... I followed them,
    See? You are doing it you busy Buddha you! That is all there is to it m8! Now try to leave all expectations and hopes of impressive changes and cool results at the door of the room you sit in. Cross the treshold, take a deep breath exhale saying "haaaaaaaaaa" and leave it there. If most of us are like a glass of muddy water, your mind is maybe more like a bucket of frogs. They too quiet down in time. It just takes a bit more time, patience and a little bit of faith your mind too can quiet down. You can do it! ( Not religious faith but a kind of trust is what you are doing.) Try to stop comparing what you experience with what others say about their own practice in books e.g. It's all interesting and there is much to be learned in books but you cant learn how to swim from a book, now can you? Every one is unique, that's the practice you know, to embrace what makes you "you". Didn't your mom tell you never to put on other peoples glasses? They are always wrong for your own eyes. Find your own glasses! And like myself , it will take a lifetime and maybe more do do it. Great, no?

    I'm convinced you can do it!

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  44. #44
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Phew.

    Ok.

    I guess this is all there is to it!

    http://lookingcloser.org/wp-content/...T-Campaign.jpg
    ^me once my break is over. exciting! despite not looking so much like it.

    Gassho,
    Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  45. #45
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    Myozan Kodo
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    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

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