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Thread: Zazen Motivation

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Zazen Motivation

    Hello,

    I'm having a little trouble getting back into the habit of sitting everyday. I can't seem to go more than 4 days in a row and then I'll blow it off for 3 or 4 days. I know I can do it , I've gone as long as 6 months without missing a day, but I can't seem to motivate myself lately. I've been using the zen-hall as a crutch but even when I do sit, I can't seem to make myself sit for more than 15 minutes without getting twitchy. My form feels good, no back/knee pain or anything like that so it's a mental thing.

    Anyone got any advise? What do you do to get on the cushion and stay on the cushion?

    Thank you,
    Ron

  2. #2

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    I can't seem to make myself sit for more than 15 minutes without getting twitchy. My form feels good, no back/knee pain or anything like that so it's a mental thing.

    Anyone got any advise? What do you do to get on the cushion and stay on the cushion?
    15 minutes is 15 minutes.
    Maybe just sit without trying to get over those 15 minutes as a goal.
    Just sit. If it's 5 minutes, then good. If it's 30, then good.
    Some of us ( ops: ) have a hard time even doing 15 in a given a week.
    When I go to my sangha on Fri's, I just sit.

  3. #3
    disastermouse
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    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    I can't seem to make myself sit for more than 15 minutes without getting twitchy. My form feels good, no back/knee pain or anything like that so it's a mental thing.

    Anyone got any advise? What do you do to get on the cushion and stay on the cushion?
    15 minutes is 15 minutes.
    Maybe just sit without trying to get over those 15 minutes as a goal.
    Just sit. If it's 5 minutes, then good. If it's 30, then good.
    Some of us ( ops: ) have a hard time even doing 15 in a given a week.
    When I go to my sangha on Fri's, I just sit.
    I think I may try this.

    Just getting on the cushion and getting up whenever. Not even timing it for a little bit...just so that I actually get on the cushion.

    Chet

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Hey Ron,

    I can't really offer any advice since I am going through something similar. But I think Chet is right; get on the cushion and don't make judgments after that. Be twitchy, be agitated (more a note to myself!), be whatever. Just keep doing it.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  5. #5

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    I don't time. Sit in the morning and sometimes the afternoon.

    B/W

  6. #6

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    I can't seem to make myself sit for more than 15 minutes without getting twitchy. My form feels good, no back/knee pain or anything like that so it's a mental thing.

    Anyone got any advise? What do you do to get on the cushion and stay on the cushion?
    15 minutes is 15 minutes.
    Maybe just sit without trying to get over those 15 minutes as a goal.
    Just sit. If it's 5 minutes, then good. If it's 30, then good.
    Some of us ( ops: ) have a hard time even doing 15 in a given a week.
    When I go to my sangha on Fri's, I just sit.
    I am going to say something that may sound heretical in the Zen world. We all go through stages like this ... and they are actually good and part of the "process". Sometimes we learn as much from falling away from sitting (because of the balance that may be lacking) as we do from sitting. We miss it when it is not around.

    It can also be a matter of "quality time" ... I would rather see 15 minutes of sincere sitting, than 30 minutes of killing time.

    But we should aim for every day, realistically be happy if we can come close to that (and everybody is different ... some guy may benefit most by sitting 2 or 3 times a week, another guy twice each and every day). As long as you keep coming back, as long as you are away from it a few days (not a few months or even years), I think it is no more serious than cheating on one's diet!

    (I have to be cautious here, because it is like a diet instructor saying, yes, you can have a little chocolate cake and cheat a bit ... just don't eat the whole cake everyday! :shock: )

    This Practice is a lifetime hike through the mountains, not a 1000 meter dash. It is okay to stop for a picnic, take a nap sometimes, along the way.

    Gassho, Jundo

    (PS - the problem in Japan is that maybe most Zen priests don't sit at all once they leave the monastery .... although many many do).

  7. #7

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Here's an approach ... Pick a time that you are sure you can do. Do time it, don't just wing it. Sit truly for that much time, and get up when the time is over even if you feel like sitting longer. Do not extend the time, for a full week -- that will take you to the point where you're hungry for more. Then the week after you can add on 20%, but no more. Follow your hunger. If you're not hungry for more sitting time, you don't get to add any more, but you are definitely sitting at least once a day.

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Zazen Motivation

    I've never tried sitting without a timer.

    I think I'm just getting frustrated because I do miss "it".

    I know it will pass eventually, I've fallen off the horse before and have always gotten back on - just not for this length of time.

    Your suggestions are deeply appreciated,

    Ron

  9. #9
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Zazen Motivation

    I think it's just one of those things, Ron. I've been horrid about formal sitting since right after Ango. I had been burnt out a bit and have been enjoying more insta-zazen while going about life. Maybe try that for a bit? But i'm starting to get a lil hungry for the formal sitting again.

    Shonin _/_

  10. #10

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Here's a couple of other things to try perhaps:
    1. Just do the metta practice for a while (we all need you to do that!). Sometimes sitting just feels too abstract and maybe the metta practice can act as a half-way house to re-connect you with it.
    2. Be brave and ask yourself what your resistance to sitting is made of (if it is a resistance and not just forgetting), do you find it an effort? - how is it an effort? is there something else you think you should be doing? is sitting quietly doing nothing a waste of time? are you just fed up with a load of zenny mumbo jumbo ("If I hear about one more d*** finger being confused for one more d*** moon... " etc.)? Is there something good on t.v.? Are you imagining some folks judging or disapproving of your sitting?(these are all things that I've felt ops: ). If you can really be honest with yourself about the reasons and bring them into the open for yourself, quite often they will evaporate, or you will be able to do something practical about them.

    Good luck with whatever you do and I hope you are feeling better about it within yourself one way or another soon!

    gassho

    Michael

  11. #11

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Approach sitting as something restful, peaceful, enjoyable, relaxing. I think Taigu said 'let sitting sit you'. When it becomes a good habit, then it won't matter how you feel about it, you'll just do it. Sometimes I do have feelings of not sitting, or when will this sitting end, and I allow myself a shorter sitting. I hope this makes sense.
    /Rich

  12. #12

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    It Will Pass

    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.
    can think of anything else to add since most of the advice here are sound...
    the only thing that comes to mind is just sit.
    sometimes i feel the same sometimes i feel i could sit for days.
    it all changes and you should just accept it... as for the other stuff you should find what works for you

    Gassho, Dojin.

  13. #13

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    One of my teachers, Rev. Bob McNeil, Sangha of the Compassionate Heart instructed me to pick whatever time period seemed appropriate at the time and be consistent--'everyday every day' as Matsuoka Roshi used to say.

    The 'problem' can be or become, an ego thing: that is, when you are feeling in the zone sitting wise you will sit on and on (delicious!) but zazen is not about delicious sits--it is about just sitting.
    extending your sitting when it feels delicious can lead also to sitting for shorter periods of time when you aren't feeling so delicious about it, and not sitting just because you don't feel like it--the idea is to sit whether feeling like it or not, just observing those feelings and thoughts as they arise

    everyday every day

    so simple
    yet.......

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Zazen Motivation

    This thread, to me, is what having a Sangha to practice with is all about.

    Thank you again for all your suggestions.

    Gassho,

    Ron

  15. #15

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    This thread, to me, is what having a Sangha to practice with is all about.

    Thank you again for all your suggestions.

    Gassho,

    Ron
    you know, i couldnt agree more.

    thank you Ron for pointing that out.

    Gassho, Daniel.

  16. #16

    Re: Zazen Motivation

    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    I know it will pass eventually, I've fallen off the horse before and have always gotten back on - just not for this length of time.
    As I understand it (and those with more experience than I--please correct me if I'm mistaken) a big part of the practice is just that--realizing when you're falling away and "getting back on the horse."

    For me, it's starting that's the hardest part of zazen. Once I'm actually sitting with the timer going, I'm good. But starting...that's when I run into all the "just a few more minutes on the computer," or "okay, I'll do it, but let me get this done first" (and then never getting around to it). My new years' resolution was to do zazen every single day this year, and so far so good.

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Zazen Motivation

    I've tried several of your suggestions and now seem to be back up on the horse (with the occasional stumble ).

    Thanks,

    Ron

    p.s. Good Luck with your resolution "kfrance"

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