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Thread: Aversion

  1. #1

    Aversion

    Hi Guys

    I am struggling with my practice at present. I am finding it difficult to settle, boring & quite irritating. In the real world work is quite tough at present so maybe I am bringing "issues" to the cushion.

    Of course, I contine to sit every day - but I would welcome any thoughts on recovering my balance

    Kindest regards

    Jools

  2. #2

  3. #3

    Re: Aversion

    Hi Jools. I can only talk from my experience.

    I get really tense in the head and have major commentary if I have day of running errands or work. I sit in the morning, and after that it lasts for a good while. If I go out with many errands (like today) I lose most of the sitting from the morning gradually. You know, you have to deal with people and situations, crowds, noise and what not. When I sit after that in the evening, there is a lot going on. So many thoughts, goals imaginary situations and what not. But now I have a better sense of mindfulness and non attachment to the thoughts. At the end of sitting usually I'm more mindful and thoughts are just there. Coming up. Going away. Coming up. Going away.

    There's this tendancy, I find, to grab on to the thoughts. Like a thought will come up, and all my attention will go to that. But now I understand that and can be before thinking. When that happens the thoughts calm and I have a more openess.

    I can't really give you any tips, but just don't really grab onto the thoughts and try to just notice them. Breath, listen, look, open. It truly is a great practice, but it's like learning I think. You can't really get it right away, but it will come.

    I recommend sitting twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening or before bed.

    Gassho Will

  4. #4

    Re: Aversion

    Hi Jools

    I guess it is impossible to appreciate it at the moment, but practicing while having a load of problems is just great. It is easy to love the days of serenity, but we know damn well they never last.

    You're a runner, if I remember right. You and me love to run in days when the weather is nice, the wind is quiet, we have no worries, our body feels strong. It is awesome! We wish it was like that all the time. But if we limited our running to only those days in which the planets align correctly, we would only be out a few times a year. So what do we do? We just get out and run. We run in the rain, we run among traffic, we run disregarding the little dude whispering in our ears: "leave it for tomorrow, better get some rest, you have this or that to do, not today, ain't nothing wrong with skipping a day". When you go out and run despite the little voice, what happens is that he just shuts up for longer and longer periods of time. And you are able to run under any circumstances without hesitation.You know this to be a fact.

    So the way to keep running is just to keep running. Every time you run against a headwind the headwind becomes less of an issue, and you can just run.

    Since it is guaranteed that your life will present difficulty over and over again, why would you want to practice in any other circumstances than life as it is? We want to learn how to live THIS life, not a different one. So we start in our "I don't like it" stance, take a step back and look at what's going on without getting involved. Hard to do? You could say that, you could say it's easy (as opposed, for example, to qualifying for the gymnastics olympic team at this stage of your life). It doesn't matter, it just needs practice.

    You are practicing real life, and I'm sure I'm not alone when I thank you for that.

    Gassho

  5. #5

    Re: Aversion

    Hi Jools,

    I can certainly relate to what you seem to be experiencing. I am unsure if this will help but your post reminded of a recent email exchange I had with Jundo. I was feeling really irritable and pessimistic for a good few days. But, after focusing on what I was doing at certain times, my mood changed. I wrote this to Jundo:

    "Change, change, change. Everything changes, especially moods. I'm not cranky now. I had a good class on Saturday and I'm having an enjoyable weekend with my family. I had an excellent sit last night, after which I chanted the Heart Sutra; I was simply present. So, once again, I am reminded not to get too caught up in my emotions. I felt cranky the other day, I've let that go (hopefully I didn't perpetuate crankiness too much), and now I'm feeling pretty happy. And, of course, that'll change in due time. But I think as long as I'm feeling what I'm feeling at whatever time I'm feeling whatever I'm feeling, while not getting too caught in the trap of emotions, not hurting others in the process, remaining open to everything and everybody, I think I'll be on the correct track."

    Again, I'm not sure if that'll help, but...

    Gassho,
    Keith

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Aversion

    Jools,

    This for me is the heart of the challenge. There are so many times I cannot settle down, I get "bored, irritated," and unable to settle down. There is an internal dialogue that accompanies this that says "I don't feel like sitting," "I don't have time for this - I'm too busy, preoccupied" or, "I'm doing OK and don't need this today." For me, these are the signs that it is precisely the time to practice. The times I have managed to sit are more often than not helpful. It has helped me even more in these times not to have any expectations of my sitting. Going through these periods has helped to establish my Zen practice as something relevant to my life, as compared to a "fair weather" practice. It's easy to be motivated and practice when things are going well. The practice that endures through the turbulent scenery of the mind is a keeper! It has helped me to realize that feelings of boredom, impatience, and irritation, as well as feelings of calm and pleasure in practice are impermanent phenomena, and therefore will pass. Please allow me to share a quote with you that I have been reflecting upon the last week, as you have been so good to share with me:

    [i][i]"Though you might have some trouble concentrating, it cannot be that there has not been at least once when you could concentrate to some extent. If you can use your method for even a very short time, that already lets you know that your scattered mind does not have true existence. Do not be fearful when your mind is scattered; just recognize that it is temporary.

    But, when you succeed in concentrating, is that mind real? Of course not. If mind were truly concentrated, it could not become scattered again. Now if both the scattered and unscattered mind are unreal, that ,means there is originally no mind. If this is so, it should be very easy to progress in practice. To be aware that mind does not exist will strengthen your faith, even though you have not experienced no mind. So long as you have faith in the non-existence of mind you can keep on practicing without any fear of disappointment.... A small setback does not mean that you have failed; it is just that the time has not yet arrived. If you climb half-way up a mountain, you cannot say that you have failed..."


    Faith in Mind - A Commentary on Seng Ts'an's Classic, p. 67

    These times of challenge are precisely those when we should settle on the cushion and practice. Of course this is easier said than done, and I am challenged in this regard quite often! Good days, bad days, they are all good days. We should beware of feelings of ease, comfort and pleasure as much as we should those of aversion and distraction because they both are transient. Our practice in these times allow us to recognize these waves for what they are...

    As one of my first sea kayaking coaches is fond of quoting: "a smooth sea never made a skillful mariner..."

    I wish you the best....

    Gassho,
    Alex

  7. #7
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Aversion

    Consider yourself lucky--sitting with aversion is one of the best opportunities to sit. Because, bottom line, one of the benefits of zazen is wearing down your sissy ego's tendency to run away from anything it finds unpleasant. As your practice deepens, the demons are going to come out to play. And facing them is how you develop strength and courage. Consider it a rite of passage...

  8. #8
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Aversion

    Also, you learn a lot about yourself by thoroughly examining what your mind has decided it just cannot stand. 'Cause what you can't stand ain't "out there," inherently existing in whatever you find painful or boring or ugly... it's in you, dude... in your own mind... whoa... :lol:

  9. #9

    Re: Aversion

    Quote Originally Posted by alex
    Jools,

    This for me is the heart of the challenge. There are so many times I cannot settle down, I get "bored, irritated," and unable to settle down. There is an internal dialogue that accompanies this that says "I don't feel like sitting," "I don't have time for this - I'm too busy, preoccupied" or, "I'm doing OK and don't need this today." For me, these are the signs that it is precisely the time to practice. The times I have managed to sit are more often than not helpful. It has helped me even more in these times not to have any expectations of my sitting. Going through these periods has helped to establish my Zen practice as something relevant to my life, as compared to a "fair weather" practice. It's easy to be motivated and practice when things are going well. The practice that endures through the turbulent scenery of the mind is a keeper! It has helped me to realize that feelings of boredom, impatience, and irritation, as well as feelings of calm and pleasure in practice are impermanent phenomena, and therefore will pass. Please allow me to share a quote with you that I have been reflecting upon the last week, as you have been so good to share with me:
    I second what is written above, and so much of the other sage advice from the others on this thread that hit the same notes as the above comment. Even after 25 years of this Practice, there are so many days like this ... so much of the time I crawl, rather than run eagerly, to the Zafu. Sometimes there are long periods, days and days, in which the Practice seems dull and dead end. It is like running or jogging in many ways, and some days we just resist to get out there. It is a "rite of passage" as Stephanie says, paying your dues. Some days are hard.

    Then again, it can all turn with a single breath.

    Just as has been said by several folks here, this seeming difficulty is one of the most important conditions to practice with. Others have said it on this thread so very well, so I have nothing to add.

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Aversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    As your practice deepens, the demons are going to come out to play. And facing them is how you develop strength and courage. Consider it a rite of passage...
    Stephanie,
    Beautifully put. Thank you.

    Alex

  11. #11

    Re: Aversion

    Hi Guys

    thank you all for taking the time to respond - it is very much appreciated

    Charles - thank you. I will look out for a physical reaction & see what impact it has on my practice - I will let you know

    Will - good advice as always. Strangely, this week I had increased my sitting time to twice a day in response to feeling like this - I will do my best to maintain this for a while

    Alberto - we have had terrible weather today. Wind & rain all day, sweeping up the English Channel. I was in two minds whether to run tonight, but after reading your post I ran for 4 miles - it was miserable, cold & wet, but afterwards I felt better. I then sat for 40 minutes & it was the best zazen all week. Mind you I was desperate to look at the clock towards the end . Alberto - thank you.

    Keith - thank you for making me feel I am not the only one, that was kind.

    Alex - thank you for posting, during such a difficult time for you and your family. You are absolutely right about the internal dialogue, but after the run tonight and a good practice - I feel more at peace. I like your phrasing on the impermanent ephemera of it all - lovely. I will keep the faith and continue climbing.

    Stephanie - thank you for reminding me of the learning potential of zazen. I forget sometimes & just sit, without learning & appreciating the experience.

    Jundo - what a great community you have created - thank you. Good to know that after 25 years, you occasionally have an "off day".

    A deep gassho to you all

    Jools

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Aversion

    Threads like this one have made me realize I'm in exactly the right place.

    Thanks to everyone for their perspectives!

    Gassho,
    Scott

  13. #13

    Re: Aversion

    Jools thank you for posting the thread.

    it happens many times to me almost every week. i say to myself i will sit later, i have something to do now.
    in the end i find myself sitting zazen during the night when i am a bit tired. it isnt a very good idea but i still sit. maybe it even makes it harder to sit and that much better.

    for me it is mostly the physical sensation that bothers me. i cant hold the same position for very long, so i cant sit for longer than 30 minutes ( usually its 20 though ).


    but after reading the advice people gave i have only one thing to say.

    keep practicing.

    i would like to tell you y favorite story from Judaism that is just about such things.



    when king Solomon became king he was given a ring. it was a special ring with an inscription that read " it will pass "
    he was told that every time he finds himself in trouble he should look at this ring and read the inscription for guidance, and if someday comes and when he reads the inscription and it does not help him there is another secret inscription on the inner side of the ring.
    so for many years he got lost, angry, confused, troubled and what not, and he read the inscription and it helped him.
    one day something happened and he felt really really miserable, he read what was written on the ring " it will pass " not it wont he thought this is to terrible and took off the ring and through it away. after calming down a bit he suddenly remember the secret inscription. he ordered the ring be found and brought to him. eagerly he waited read the secret that would make everything alright.
    but it only read " this too shall pass "



    i like this story it reminds me that everything changes and even if we know it and forget about it and it seems that this is too much, that too shall pass.


    p.s.

    there is also a zen story on the same motive.

    A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible!"

    "It will pass," the teacher said matter-of-factly.

    A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!'

    "It will pass," the teacher replied matter-of-factly.

  14. #14

    Re: Aversion

    Reading your "conversations" guys is making me stronger. I am not so active on the forum (mostly becasue I find it hard to make myslef clear in English), but I am always reading all your messages and appreciate the strong and incredibly friendly community we have here.

    Deep Gassho to all of you,
    Agata

    PS: I will really try to be more active on the forum.

  15. #15

    Re: Aversion

    Hi,

    I want to return to this, because it is one of the most important topics we have ever had on this forum, ever ever. Truly. It is right at the heart of Zazen ...

    It --IS-- Zazen.

    Zazen is no fair weather friend. Anyone can sit a bit when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, our mood is good, we feel peaceful and calm inside, when all is good news and life is going our way.

    But the Wisdom of Buddhism is our finding balance when the sky is dark and stormy, our mood the same, when we feel danger and disturbance, when emotions sweep us up, when life gives us the short end of the stick and a kick in the head. Can we find stillness amid that commotion?

    In fact, can we learn to see through all that (the subject of the Heart Sutra).

    If one can transcend boredom and resistance on the Zafu, one can learn to transcend resistance to conditions throughout life ... to embrace life. to --BE-- life.

    So, the days when we suffer, cannot settle, fight back, when our mind will not be silent ... these are the most important days of Practice. I do believe. Same on those days when we simply feel resistance and "I don't want to sit".

    To quote that old Blue Eyed Buddha, Frank Sinatra Roshi ... "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!" :roll:

    Gassho, Jundo

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Aversion

    Great thread!!

    There must be something in the air because I have also been having some trouble getting back on the zafu.

    Thank you Jools for expressing things so well and thank you to everyone who contributed, it has been very helpful.

    Ron

  17. #17

    Re: Aversion

    My sincere thanks to all of you!

    A moment before reading this thread I decided I needed to do the laundry and then go to work (doing the laundry being an excuse for avoiding sitting, a k a wasting time doing nothing...).

    Now I'm going to wipe a tear, put the laptop away, and just sit!

    Gratefully, paivi

  18. #18

    Re: Aversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    To quote that old Blue Eyed Buddha, Frank Sinatra Roshi ... "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!" :roll:

    Gassho, Jundo
    Frank Sinatra Roshi
    and his dharma name would be the voice

    i totally agree, it is hard to sit sometimes... and i have many a times felt i couldnt sit today or now for many different reasons.
    and if i did happen to give up and skip on the sitting. i actually felt something missing...
    so i guess i better sit

  19. #19

    Re: Aversion

    Returned briefly just to tell you that I had the worst sitting experience ever... But it's all good. Really.

  20. #20

    Re: Aversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto
    Since it is guaranteed that your life will present difficulty over and over again, why would you want to practice in any other circumstances than life as it is? We want to learn how to live THIS life, not a different one. So we start in our "I don't like it" stance, take a step back and look at what's going on without getting involved. Hard to do? You could say that, you could say it's easy (as opposed, for example, to qualifying for the gymnastics olympic team at this stage of your life). It doesn't matter, it just needs practice.

    You are practicing real life, and I'm sure I'm not alone when I thank you for that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Consider yourself lucky--sitting with aversion is one of the best opportunities to sit. Because, bottom line, one of the benefits of zazen is wearing down your sissy ego's tendency to run away from anything it finds unpleasant. As your practice deepens, the demons are going to come out to play. And facing them is how you develop strength and courage. Consider it a rite of passage...
    Great advice everyone . . . We should live the life we have, not the one we wish we had.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  21. #21

  22. #22

    Re: Aversion

    Hi Guys

    been busy at work and home - I have time to sit and read the posts, but not so much time to type

    Charles - yes coffee can make me irritable & as a consequence I drink tea & decaff . I find alcohol is worse & I have to be careful when I have the odd pint of beer or glass of wine - these day's it just sends me to sleep It can also make me cranky, so I tend not to drink until after the kids are in bed.

    Thank you again to all those who have posted - its good to know you are there..

    Kindest regards

    Jools

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