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Thread: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

  1. #1

    Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Dear all,

    In the "Sleeping legs" thread Jundo mentioned the opportunity of alternative sitting - Insta-Zazen(also poissible of course as a compliment to a daily sitting). Has anyone tried that?

    I don't have the opportunity to actually be alone say on the commuter train but I have plenty of time and this too is a chance. I wonder if you guys have some tips. The back part of the seat on a train is impossible to bring into the perfectly vertical position but leaning onto it would make me drowsy in an instant. Also, there are more distactions than at home, etc. May be not zazen proper but something close to help one better the concentration?

    Gassho, Irina

  2. #2

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Sure, I try it all the time, and usually it works. Washing the dishes, walking to the library, or anything really that requires waiting, standing in line etc. Distractions, noises, jostling, other people are all part of it for me, life is full of them and for me practice is about full integration with daily life, not withdrawl. I guess I don't really have any advice, but I'm not really trying to concentrate while I do it. I try to drop whatever lists I'm making in my head, or worrying about this or that, what time it is, and just open my eyes and ears and try to feel the relationship I have with my senses and the world - the "actualized by myraid things" part, dropping away. Am I moving? Is the world moving? Both and neither. What train? Just this one. People getting on, getting off. Coming and going, but no movement. Well that's where I'm at these days anyway. It's made doing chores less aggravating at least. Straighten up, chop wood, fetch water, get the mail, ride the train. I think its an important compliment to standard zazen. Everything can be work practice.

    I live in a rather noisy apartment in the downtown of a big city with lots of traffic noise, upstairs neighbors clomping around and fighting, etc so I never really get a peaceful zazen. Perhaps it's helped find the stillness in the bustle, but I'm looking forward to getting up to the cabin when the snow thaws to remember what wind in the trees sounds like.

    Skye

  3. #3

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Inspirational Skye, very inspirational.

    Gassho,
    Agata

  4. #4

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skye
    Sure, I try it all the time, and usually it works. Washing the dishes, walking to the library, or anything really that requires waiting, standing in line etc. Distractions, noises, jostling, other people are all part of it for me, life is full of them and for me practice is about full integration with daily life, not withdrawl. I guess I don't really have any advice, but I'm not really trying to concentrate while I do it. I try to drop whatever lists I'm making in my head, or worrying about this or that, what time it is, and just open my eyes and ears and try to feel the relationship I have with my senses and the world - the "actualized by myraid things" part, dropping away. Am I moving? Is the world moving? Both and neither. What train? Just this one. People getting on, getting off. Coming and going, but no movement. Well that's where I'm at these days anyway. It's made doing chores less aggravating at least. Straighten up, chop wood, fetch water, get the mail, ride the train. I think its an important compliment to standard zazen. Everything can be work practice.
    That's it! Wonderful description!

    It can be sitting, standing, walking or reclining. The noisier the better. I will do a "sit-a-long" sitting in the street in the busiest part of Tokyo today or tomorrow, just to make the point.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    I liked that one you did in the shopping mall, Jundo. Not because of the anti- this or that message, or irony or any of that, but simply because it was so commonplace. I get tired of the Eastern romanticism that Buddhism is so wrapped up in so much of the time :idea:

    Skye

  6. #6

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Hi, folks.
    Usually, when I brush my teeth my mind is thinking of work, or planning the day with the kids, or the yardwork that needs to be done. But the other day it occurred to me to use it as an instant-zazen moment. I simply brushed my teeth and "opened the hand of thought" when anything came into my mind. It was a striking change. I saw bubbles I had never noticed go down the drain, I tasted the water in my mouth, I noticed there were words printed on the drain plug, etc. I had done similar things a few years ago before I started practicing shikantaza, but I think just-sitting is changing my awareness in ways that other practices didn't. This may not be exactly what Jundo is talking about, but it stuck out as a real moment for me.

    A big one for me is just-eating. Not formally like oryoki, but simply eating without getting worked up with a bunch of thinking. A side-benefit is that it makes meals much more satisfying. I also really look forward to things like oil-changes for the car or waiting at the dentist's office because I can settle in for a bit of "just living."


    Gassho,
    Bill

  7. #7

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    I've brushed my teeth at times with the reminder to take care with my speech and not harm through communication. But I really enjoyed your description of what it would mean to open the hand of thought while brushing your teeth.

  8. #8

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Brushing your teeth, that's a great one. I noticed recently I was getting really uptight when I brush my teeth, worrying about the next day.

    Time go for a run, I'm training for a 10k next week. Jundo's mentioned running a few times in the daily sit-a-long, it's an activity ripe for Insta-Zazen...

    Skye

  9. #9

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    I've also been working with my brushing. The second I stick the toothbrush into my mouth I want to run off and do something else. I'll try to get the cats into the right room for bed time, I'll water plants, I'll clean the kitchen. All tasks that pretty much make it impossible to brush ones teeth. It's excellent practice trying to be present for brushing and stopping myself from running off.

  10. #10

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Thanks for your feedback guys!

    Teeth brushing is a great exercise (I also started brushing with the left hand in the evenings (when I am less in a rush) which helps to keep the concentration on the actual brushing :lol. Dish washing is a great exercise too and making food, actually, when I allow myself stay with the colors and the textures and not fly away in thoughts. I started loving to make food.

    Just-eating is a greater challenge. ops: I eat a morning paper for breakfast and often evening news on TV for dinner. Will be working on it, though: what is the point of making food mindfully and with love when I don't really taste it later? During the retreat when we had tons of time for eating and ate in silence I discovered that I got full much faster than I normally would think! I believe part some of it actually happened when I took the time to look at the food first for a minute.

    Skye: I will try to practice on the train but I don't really know what to concentrate on: during zazen it is the breath, when cooking it is the gorgeous veggies and everything around, when showering the sensation of water against the skin etc but how does one keep focus when there are so many different "objects" of attention competing for attention?

    Gossho, Irina

  11. #11

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
    Teeth brushing is a great exercise (I also started brushing with the left hand in the evenings (when I am less in a rush) which helps to keep the concentration on the actual brushing :lol. Dish washing is a great exercise too and making food, actually, when I allow myself stay with the colors and the textures and not fly away in thoughts. I started loving to make food.
    Enjoying chores that were previously burdens to be done with as fast as possible is a great benefit. But, I still get annoyed at my partner when she doesn't clean up after herself.

    Just-eating is a greater challenge. ops: I eat a morning paper for breakfast and often evening news on TV for dinner. Will be working on it, though: what is the point of making food mindfully and with love when I don't really taste it later? During the retreat when we had tons of time for eating and ate in silence I discovered that I got full much faster than I normally would think! I believe part some of it actually happened when I took the time to look at the food first for a minute.
    The most illuminating activities are often the ones I have had the most trouble with. But that doesn't mean I avoid the ones that are enjoyable and come naturally. You have a big challenge in front of you to eat mindfully with the TV on

    Skye: I will try to practice on the train but I don't really know what to concentrate on: during zazen it is the breath, when cooking it is the gorgeous veggies and everything around, when showering the sensation of water against the skin etc but how does one keep focus when there are so many different "objects" of attention competing for attention?
    In our practice of shikantaza or "just sitting" there is no object of concentration per se. Sometimes I will come back to breath-counting but only as a means of "cracking the whip" when my mind has wandered across the hill for too long, or when struggling with physical pain, then I return to just sitting. In a busy environment, I just try to let the noises, images, smells, other beings flow over me and through me. Every moment is perfectly still - is there anything that now does not contain? Does this moment arise and pass away? When you are in a quiet place, does the moment not contain all the noisy loud places as well? Dogen built a Buddha-hall in a single speck of dust, and within the hall, the entire world. And yet, we are also constrained by our senses and our intellect.

    Everything is a potential object of meditation. "Earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles, all things in the dharma realm in ten directions, carry out buddha work." Vending machines, turnstiles, escalators and clocks, stop lights and newspaper boxes. If letting them all in at once is too much, start with what's in front of you, or out the window, or the wheels underneath, whatever is resonating with you, and as they become familiar let the likes and dislikes of the rest of our crazy lives drop away.

    I highly recommend working through Jundo's Beginners series:

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/01 ... nners.html

    OK I should probably get to work now...

    Skye

  12. #12

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    I usually just use mouthwash in the morning :roll:

    G,W

  13. #13

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Brushing your teeth is an awesome example! Actually, I try and do the same with all my bathroom activities....brushing, showering and going to the bathroom. I guess I find that the bathroom itself is one of those places that is usually quiet, you are usually alone and your privacy is usually respected....so it makes for great insta-Zazen opportunities!

    I can't wait to start working on my house again this summer so I can use that time to really practice paying attention.

    - John

  14. #14

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Skye: Thanks! A lot to think about. Or not .

    I have been going trough Jundo sensei's beginner lectures one at a time but haven't reached this part yet. In the book I am reading on Zen practice (Taking the Path of Zen by R. Aitken) the advice to beginners included counting breath and using breath as an anchor which I find helpful at this stage. Later on as I understand it is advised to drop it. In a way staying with a breath is also "just sitting" and staying with what is: breath is there all the time.

    As for eating, my intention is to skip the TV altogether and just eat, not to try two things at the same time :wink:.

    Enjoying chores that were previously burdens to be done with as fast as possible is a great benefit. But, I still get annoyed at my partner when she doesn't clean up after herself.
    Great opportunity for practicing patience I guess.

    Every moment is perfectly still - is there anything that now does not contain? Does this moment arise and pass away? When you are in a quiet place, does the moment not contain all the noisy loud places as well? Dogen built a Buddha-hall in a single speck of dust, and within the hall, the entire world. And yet, we are also constrained by our senses and our intellect.
    I understand what you are saying, Skye but think it is a long way there for me. :roll: It feels I can find the way there by first training attention and finding this stillness within and then sort of expanding it outwards. Does it make sense? Sort of find that perfectly still moment (chances are it is easier to find it in a still place at least for me) and then take it with me out. I remember a day like this, a whole day and in the midst of hell breaking loose at work I had this stillness with me and I knew I was me but still it was as if I was watching somebody else getting into the middle of all that and as soon as irritation or other emotions came I could see right through them and somehow get detached from them very fast so the initial state of stillness was there all the time. I never had a day like that since then and I don't even know how I got there in the first place.

    Everything is a potential object of meditation. "Earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles, all things in the dharma realm in ten directions, carry out buddha work." Vending machines, turnstiles, escalators and clocks, stop lights and newspaper boxes. If letting them all in at once is too much, start with what's in front of you, or out the window, or the wheels underneath, whatever is resonating with you, and as they become familiar let the likes and dislikes of the rest of our crazy lives drop away.
    Thanks Skye, this is helpful! I will try to familiarize myself with something on the train but it is important not to stare at a person I guess :lol:
    By the way, great work from you here with the technical stuff. The Sangha map is cool!

    Will: :shock: :lol:

    John: Bathroom is like a tranquility island, I agree. I use contact with water as one of those "pointers" to check out where my mind is. It is easy to remember because it is usually takes at least a minute or longer so even if I forget about it at first I "wake up" at some point to "check in".

    Cheers,

    Irina

  15. #15

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Hey Syke

    a fellow runner (me - 4x a week 1/2 Marathons - my bag). Running is very close to sitting to me, it brings the same high & lows & occassionaly levels of fustrations. Let me know if you ever want to compares running notes.

    Kind regards

    Jools

  16. #16

    Re: Insta-Zazen recommendations?

    Hey,

    My plan to do an "Insta-Zazen" in the middle of the busiest part of downtown Tokyo got rained out! Not that I mind sitting in a cold rain sometimes (I mean, sitting amid whatever comes is the whole point of "Insta-Zazen"). It is that my laptop and camera rather mind getting wet, and I would rather like to avoid having to buy new ones! :?

    But I will do a few "Insta-Zazens" next week as a series. It has been awhile. And I will talk about the approach I recommend.

    For example, in downtown Tokyo, I hoped to sit still at the center of all the commotion, untouched by the noise, lights and thousands of passing people and cars. Aware and open to it, yet not dragged away by it. Something like that.

    In fact, I will head back to Tokyo next week and do that sitting (hopefully, on a sunny day)!

    And let me say ...

    In our practice of shikantaza or "just sitting" there is no object of concentration per se. Sometimes I will come back to breath-counting but only as a means of "cracking the whip" when my mind has wandered across the hill for too long, or when struggling with physical pain, then I return to just sitting. In a busy environment, I just try to let the noises, images, smells, other beings flow over me and through me. Every moment is perfectly still - is there anything that now does not contain? Does this moment arise and pass away? When you are in a quiet place, does the moment not contain all the noisy loud places as well? Dogen built a Buddha-hall in a single speck of dust, and within the hall, the entire world. And yet, we are also constrained by our senses and our intellect.

    Everything is a potential object of meditation. "Earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles, all things in the dharma realm in ten directions, carry out buddha work." Vending machines, turnstiles, escalators and clocks, stop lights and newspaper boxes. If letting them all in at once is too much, start with what's in front of you, or out the window, or the wheels underneath, whatever is resonating with you, and as they become familiar let the likes and dislikes of the rest of our crazy lives drop away.
    Skye, that is just so beautifully said ... you get the 'gold star' for the day. If you keep up like this, I will put you in charge of both Treeleaf "tech" and "Insta-Zazen"!

    Gassho, Jundo

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