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Thread: exercise and zazen

  1. #1
    Karen Ji Shin
    Guest

    exercise and zazen

    G'day Sangha Australia registering! I've been wondering about physical activity and Zen. Is there a correlation between sitting and doing fitness of some kind?

    I've met a few Zen priests. One thing which stands out is that they have bung legs. They have overdone the sitting bit perhaps?! It always surprises if not shocks me. Is it possible to be liberated and of service whilst caring for one's physical being and not needing a walking stick or a hip replacement as a consequence of (over) sitting?

    I have asked online is there a physical equivalent of zazen beyond bowing and kinhin? I've really been wondering about that for the past 24 hours or so. What has come to me is that the Soto Zen practitioners of yore were farmers. They did their physical activity on the land. They toiled the soil from dawn until dusk. For them it was a respite to sit. They certainly didn't need martial arts or yoga. They were doing martial arts and yoga in their day to day activities.

    So as I consequence I am going to take far more seriously my wish to be more involved in organic gardening. I have a large garden and a small house. The large garden is mostly full of grass at the moment. However I feel now more than ever a strong desire to convert it into a food producing garden. It seems far more useful and zen like than to do martial arts or yoga and more in keeping with our current practice. Gassho, kjs

  2. #2

    Re: exercise and zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by Karen Ji Shin
    G'day Sangha Australia registering! I've been wondering about physical activity and Zen. Is there a correlation between sitting and doing fitness of some kind?

    or so. What has come to me is that the Soto Zen practitioners of yore were farmers. They did their physical activity on the land. They toiled the soil from dawn until dusk. For them it was a respite to sit. They certainly didn't need martial arts or yoga. They were doing martial arts and yoga in their day to day activities.

    Gassho, kjs
    AS a part time aging athlete and zen practitioner, I feel a responsibility to keep my body in excellent condition.

    After toiling in the world from dawn to dusk, it is a respite and joy to sit.

  3. #3

    Re: exercise and zazen

    Hi Karen,

    I find it works best for me to get my physical activity through regular daily activities rather than going to a gym, for example. I garden, take brisk beach walks with my dogs nearly daily, mop my floors on my hands and knees, etc. I do yoga, too, as I find it is supportive of my mindfulness practice. Good luck with your organic gardening aspirations! It is so rewarding and makes such sense to grow food.

    Gassho, Jean

  4. #4

    Re: exercise and zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by Karen Ji Shin
    G'day Sangha Australia registering! I've been wondering about physical activity and Zen. Is there a correlation between sitting and doing fitness of some kind?

    I've met a few Zen priests. One thing which stands out is that they have bung legs. They have overdone the sitting bit perhaps?! It always surprises if not shocks me. Is it possible to be liberated and of service whilst caring for one's physical being and not needing a walking stick or a hip replacement as a consequence of (over) sitting?

    I have asked online is there a physical equivalent of zazen beyond bowing and kinhin? I've really been wondering about that for the past 24 hours or so. What has come to me is that the Soto Zen practitioners of yore were farmers. They did their physical activity on the land. They toiled the soil from dawn until dusk. For them it was a respite to sit. They certainly didn't need martial arts or yoga. They were doing martial arts and yoga in their day to day activities.

    So as I consequence I am going to take far more seriously my wish to be more involved in organic gardening. I have a large garden and a small house. The large garden is mostly full of grass at the moment. However I feel now more than ever a strong desire to convert it into a food producing garden. It seems far more useful and zen like than to do martial arts or yoga and more in keeping with our current practice. Gassho, kjs
    Excellent subject (especially for someone like me, too often sitting Zazen, sitting behind a desk, sitting at the dining table).

    Zen Practice has always emphasized physical activity in addition to, and as a further expression of, Zazen. In its wider meaning, --all-- activity (or inactivity) in life is Zazen ... and this is sitting, reclining, walking, running, mountain hiking, tending the temple garden, lifting weights or changing diapers. Yes, an old Zen saying goes, "a day without labor is a day without eating".

    So, just as with anyone, Zen folks should get off their butts! Exercise (I have a stationary bike and do 90 minutes most days), work in the garden, move!

    Although we also must spend time "on the Zafu" each day (although all is "Zazen", only Zazen is Zazen), it is ALL ZAZEN in its wider meaning too (so long as we also sit each day). It is all Zazen --if-- we remember ... as we are trying to get in shape or lose some pounds ... that simultaneously there is "nothing to attain" and "no gain no loss".

    Gassho, J

  5. #5

    Re: exercise and zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by Karen Ji Shin
    One thing which stands out is that they have bung legs.
    I've never heard of bung legs (or bung anything) before. I shall use it in a sentence at work tomorrow.

  6. #6

    Re: exercise and zazen

    Hi and Welcome Karen Ji Shin!
    Nice first post

    Gassho
    Shohei

  7. #7

    Re: exercise and zazen

    not only is my daily run part of my "zen" practice, it is probably the part from which i most benefit, both physically and spiritually -- i don't "like" much of my run, there is almost always a point where i think about stopping, and this after 40 years! -- the aches and pains bring me to awareness, like it or not

    gassho, roky

  8. #8

    Re: exercise and zazen

    OFF TOPIC---
    /me runs and tackle hugs Rocky

    Welcome back (yeah i know you were never gone :P)

    Ahem

    Gassho
    Shohei

  9. #9

    Re: exercise and zazen

    Very nice post indeed!
    and it's true a lot of zen buddies I know have a belly with skinny legs
    they should get a stationary bicycle too... as I should :wink:

    Gassho,
    Luis

  10. #10

    Re: exercise and zazen

    Welcome Karen,

    Has anyone tried Tai Chi. Sounds good to me. I have been meaning to try it for the past ten years or so (probably the world`s worst prevaricator) but not got arround to it yet. Just yesterday though, I started a short course in Nordic walking at a local nature reserve. The participants were mostly old ladies. I was the only man in the group. It seems the average British male is a lazy so and so and we Brits are the worst in Europe for physical execise.
    By the way, in Cockney slang a bung is a bribe. I actually bribed my legs with the promise of lunch in the cafe after.

    Daiku

  11. #11
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Location
    Selinsgrove, PA
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    1,069

    Re: exercise and zazen

    Hello all,

    This is a great topic...I try to exercise (formally) about 5 days a week. I think it is a huge part of my practice. As Roky stated, somedays I really have to push myself to do and complete a workout - I mean it is work! But it has a way of settling the mind just as in zazen. I do yoga too which helps those muscles be able to sit in zazen - another wonderful way to feel the mind-body-universe connection.

    It also helps me find my breath on those days where I'm feeling unsettled. At this time of year here, with all the snow, cold and grayness - exercise really helps to keep the mind balanced and to avoid becoming depressed.

    I've never tried Tai Chi, but would love the opportunity to do so.

    take care all,
    Kelly-Jinmei

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