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Thread: Burn out?

  1. #1

    Burn out?

    Does anyone else here suffer from 'Buddhism Burn Out'? In the few years I've read about Buddhism, tried meditating and practicing mindfulness, I seem to hit very regular intervals of burn outs. It's where I go mad on studying and practicing these things for a short and frantic period of time and then it all slumps, I realise just how mad and frantic I've become and my body and mind just lose interest, before I finally come back to Buddhism with more interest than before, only to repeat the process over again. I can finally see it as that and see when it's happening, but it has taken a long time.

    I'm okay at the moment, but does anyone have any advice for when I do hit the inevitable slump, where I want to carry on but my body and mind don't. The only answer I can work out is that I'm going about and practicing these things in the wrong way?

  2. #2
    Hi Ten,

    I think that there are times to stick to it even when the mind and body are not willing, but there are also times to take off a few weeks or months. I did that several times over the years. It is good to have a break, maybe even a stimulation to training over the long run. I always came back, however.

    On days when you want to stick to it, but body and mind are not willing, I would just make it a daily routine (like flossing or jogging). Just do it out of habit. Once most people get on the cushion and start, a lot of the resistance to sitting may drop away. It is getting on the cushion at all that is the hard part.

    You might also cut back your sitting time sometimes (again, as a temporary step).

    I would be interested to hear what others say.

    Gassho, J

  3. #3
    Im not that seasoned by any stretch, but i have had (will have it again) similar experience & I agree with what Jundo said.

    For myself, I simply made a rule... if i think about sitting- then i must go do it. Reasoning for me is if I can make the time to think up excuses for not doing... then ive just wasted 10 mins of time i could have been sitting. Other than that just saying "today i will sit" or "Today i will not", imo, is better than making up excuses... "Im too tired/ wrestless /busy/Not in the mood" As said before... once i hit the cushion it all drops away - I keep that in mind too.

    Gassho
    Dirk

  4. #4
    Hello,

    I am back from a break. One of the main things I have noticed so far is that Buddhism and zazen did help (what I knew of it anyway) even though I was not practicing. I was not dedicated to practice but it was there.
    Now I am just sitting daily and seeing what happens with time. No pressures. So far I have found some of things are becoming clearer that I struggled with when not practicing, some not.
    Sitting commitments would be a problem (or were last time) but I have tried to not put any rules to sitting. Well just the one, to sit every day. The time of the day can vary and so can the place. The length of time and the way I sit can also vary. No matter when and where you are you can sit be it with this sangha or not with it. The rest will full into place. At least it might.

  5. #5
    I guess I'd have to agree with Jundo again. Make it a habit. Every morning I wakeup, take a shower, Sit, have breakfast (maybe check the net, then go teach class. Sitting's just something I do in the morning now. I think it's kind of good to strip down all the book reading and talk about it and just do it without any goal. Don't make it a big deal. It's just sitting.


    Take Care

    Gassho Will

  6. #6
    Hi Ten and all,

    The discipline required to practice music is similar to zazen practice, I think. I tell my students that if they are burned out with music, there is probably something out of balance about the way they are practicing. Too much metronome practice, too much solitary work (not playing with others), too much exercise work (etudes, scales, patterns, etc), too much reading/not enough improvising, etc, etc, etc. All of these skills are important for a professional musician, but if not worked on in a balanced way, they can all lead to burn-out.


    As someone who makes their living with music, I have learned that my morale is a HUGE part of my musical person. I practice all of the skills I need for my gigs, but I also make sure that I am devoting attention and effort toward being a music lover. That means things like buying CDs, chatting with others about their music, experiencing types of music that I wouldn't ordinarily seek out, learning a new instrument, etc.

    My point here is that in my Buddhist practice I have found the same to be true. The times over the years that I have 'fallen away' have been the times when I didn't pay attention to my attitude about the practice itself. If it is a drudgery to come to the piano or the zafu, something is out of balance in my life. Because I can't really take time off of the piano and expect to play well, I have learned that I must look to correct the cause of my apathy.

    One of the things I like the most about Treeleaf is that I no longer practice in a vacuum. There are other beings out there with whom I can talk about issues that come up, not to mention having a teacher that I can ask questions. All of these things have helped me greatly.

    The last thing I will say is that I have learned that I used to be too idealistic in my practice. I was putting too much pressure on my meditation to be a panacea. I would, therefore, be disappointed when I would behave like a human being (anger, sadness, impatience). The disappointment would sometimes lead to me not sitting for a while. Zen has helped me get over this overly idealistic notion of zazen and myself. I now realize I'm not superhuman and that zazen is not going to relieve me of my humanity. This awareness inspires me somehow.

    Sorry for the rambling post.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  7. #7
    Hi Ten...

    Bill wrote:

    "The last thing I will say is that I have learned that I used to be too idealistic in my practice. I was putting too much pressure on my meditation to be a panacea. I would, therefore, be disappointed when I would behave like a human being (anger, sadness, impatience). The disappointment would sometimes lead to me not sitting for a while. Zen has helped me get over this overly idealistic notion of zazen and myself. I now realize I'm not superhuman and that zazen is not going to relieve me of my humanity. This awareness inspires me somehow."

    What Bill said! That's pretty much what has put me on a time-out every time. Whenever I start to bring to my practice the judgemental mind, the critical mind, I end up walking away for a time. I am most definitely my own worst critic, judge and jury! It seems a bit sad for me to have reflected on this and recognized this pattern. From day one of my journey into serious sitting I was kindly told, "never judge your meditation." Yet I tend to judge it so often. :?

    That said, I've always come back no matter what level of despair, disgust, disillusionment (is *this a bad thing?) I've run up against. So, to echo others: just keep doing it. Remember: when the Cosmic Buddha has grabbed you by the scruff of your neck, it only hurts when you struggle! :lol:

    P.S. Thanks for your eloquence, Bill. _/_

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  8. #8
    Similiar to what Bill said about music. You have to remember there are other things in life.

    Gassho

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow

    Sorry for the rambling post.

    Gassho,
    Bill
    Hey Bill,

    Thank you for this. These comments make beautiful music. I am think of starting a collection of "Treeleaf Classicts" or the like, and including special things that people have written. This would be a good one to include, I think. :-)

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    As someone who makes their living with music, I have learned that my morale is a HUGE part of my musical person. I practice all of the skills I need for my gigs, but I also make sure that I am devoting attention and effort toward being a music lover. That means things like buying CDs, chatting with others about their music, experiencing types of music that I wouldn't ordinarily seek out, learning a new instrument, etc.
    Thanks for this bit, Bill. It helps me a lot with some morale problems with which I've struggled over the years as I try to become a working novelist.

    Gassho,

    Kevin

  11. #11
    Thank you all for your words of wisdom. Funnily enough, soon after posting this thread and saying I was ok, I hit a minor slump. Buddhism temporarily moved to the back of my mind and I knew I would return to it again in a couple days. It just feels like such an effort sometimes.

    As has been mentioned already, I am too goal orientated in Zazen and Buddhist principles etc.. I find I have to conceptualize things a lot just so I can get some glimpse of understanding, although it's probably wrong understanding.

    As Bill said, I'm also disappointed when I act like a human being, I still am much of the time, because it's not how I want to be (idealistic). It does throw me off of my practice for a time, but never completely. Maybe I should forget about it all and just sit everyday instead? But I don't find it that simple.

    I guess there's no easy way out of this other than patience.

    Gassho.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Ten

    Maybe I should forget about it all and just sit everyday instead?
    Hi Ten,

    That is a fine idea. Add to that when you can, but keep sitting as the foundation. Goalless sitting, not trying to change a thing. Just sit, allowing thoughts of this and that to drop from mind. Merely cross the legs and straighten the back, and you are engaged in Perfect Buddhism.

    Gassho, J

  13. #13
    Thank you Jundo. I will do this instead, I won't say try and do this as it makes it sound like one of my previous goals.

    Gassho,
    Ten

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