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Thread: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hello all,

    I just wanted to mention briefly that starting on Sunday (the 12th) I'm going to celebrate 12 days of practice partner exercises by finally giving some thought to each of them (one per day) and in more than a few cases why I found them difficult to undertake. I wanted to do this since Fugen and Shohei took the time to come up with each of them and, as a reusult, I'd like to honor that by at least offering some feedback. I don't know if this is something anyone else would feel compelled to do, but thought I'd post my intentions.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  2. #2

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    i think this is a great idea, and I may join you in the endeavor. Gassho, Ann

  3. #3

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hello Dosho,
    I can answer you here, having rejected the many excuses that came to my mind throughout.

    In the end, I just did all I was able to do; according to the time available, my limited understanding, lack of skills and priorities as those changed and evolved over the course of this Ango. Some things took more from me than I originally expected. I did what I was able to do without forgetting to participate in the unplanned flow of friends and life around me,as well as struggling a bit with my own devils (as those arose) quickly filled my time and I was grateful. There was a rhythm to this much which evolved and to which I eventually bowed.

    At this juncture, feeling gently challenged (as I need to be occasionally) to account why I did not do something more, I wonder, “Was the sum of what I did half empty or half full?” The conclusion I arrived at was this, “I don’t know” and I am OK with that. So while I have every respect for both the individuals involved and for you in your support of their good work, I can only say I am sorry I was unable to do more and (as I remarked elsewhere) one of the lessons of this 100 days of special practice or me was I didn’t really accomplish anything except (perhaps) for this: I am better prepared for the next time and the time in between.

    Many thanks; many blessings.
    Gassho,
    Don

  4. #4
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    I, too, am sorry I did not accomplish more, but I am planning to go back and review them when my final exams are done.

    Although I did not participate nearly as consistently and frequently as I would have liked, the exercises were a good opportunity for me to reflect on things a little differently -- they took me back closer to beginner's mind.

    I would like to see what you have to share, Dosho (and others).

    gassho
    Julia

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Don and Julia,

    Thank you for your words. I certainly was not trying to make anyone feel guilty about having not done more, but I do share many of the sentiments you both expressed. My post was mainly aimed at myself and anyone who felt like going along for the ride. And speaking only for myself, I just wanted to do what I can do now to honor their efforts without dwelling on why didn't do so before.

    So, I'll begin tomorrow...any and all are free to join in the experience!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  6. #6

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi.

    Great initiative!

    I'd like to put in some thoughts/ disclaimers around the practice partner excercises, as im partly behind those (and so are you... ) and i don't regard me as an an authority in these matters, so make of them what you will....

    Firstly they were a part in the Angopractice for those that wanted to do them, but it is also so that they are available for everyone all the time.

    Second, they don't have to be done with a practicepartner, although that is somewhat encouraged sometimes, but you can do them all by yourselves.
    As something to ponder if nothing else

    Thirdly, the practice partner excercises, as the well as the Ango, is not a race, it's a practice. If you feel them to heavy or unable to complete them, thats ok.
    Take what you've learned and move on, but don't give or quit, because there is no such thing in these things...

    Fourthly, if i may i would greatly see the development of these things as they have been a good practice for me, and if i may i will be in on this thread to, with your blessing of course.

    Fifthly, its all good practice.
    Thank you for your practice.
    Really.


    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    ...if i may i would greatly see the development of these things as they have been a good practice for me, and if i may i will be in on this thread to, with your blessing of course.
    I don't know if you are asking my permission, but if so I certainly give it with the understanding that asking for such was not required. Feel free to cut into my dance any time you want.

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the first day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #1:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2804

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  9. #9

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    Hi.

    Great initiative!

    I'd like to put in some thoughts/ disclaimers around the practice partner excercises, as im partly behind those (and so are you... ) and i don't regard me as an an authority in these matters, so make of them what you will....

    Firstly they were a part in the Angopractice for those that wanted to do them, but it is also so that they are available for everyone all the time.

    Second, they don't have to be done with a practicepartner, although that is somewhat encouraged sometimes, but you can do them all by yourselves.
    As something to ponder if nothing else

    Thirdly, the practice partner excercises, as the well as the Ango, is not a race, it's a practice. If you feel them to heavy or unable to complete them, thats ok.
    Take what you've learned and move on, but don't give or quit, because there is no such thing in these things...

    Fourthly, if i may i would greatly see the development of these things as they have been a good practice for me, and if i may i will be in on this thread to, with your blessing of course.

    Fifthly, its all good practice.
    Thank you for your practice.
    Really.


    Mtfbwy
    Fugen
    Exercise I:

    * Introduce yourself briefly including where you’re living and your main interest in online practice:
    I live in the largely rural central highland area of Nova Scotia. Ocean, rivers, mountains, lots of forest; a quiet place.
    My interest in online practice stems from the fact it is my only opportunity for relative proximity to both teachers and other people engaged in exploring the buddha ways.

    * How will you communicate your practice (zazen, study, teacher-student, skillful practice, practice partner) to your practice partner? :
    As suggested, I will post answers and thoughts regarding the exercise’s questions here in this thread. Sometimes amending or combining the questions; other times disregarding those which may be redundant in this format.

    * What's your starting position in your practice this coming week; sitting, studying, working and communicating? :
    Sitting is always my starting position. Some of the best things I’ve learned is on the cushion; about my thoughts, their impermanence and the gaps in between. Sitting is more like a tune-up to me, though.
    I sit three times a day. I have that opportunity. I seldom sit more than 20 minutes at a time. At this stage I use the whole day for zazen; whether sitting or standing, walking of lying down.
    I read a fair amount, listen to teachings on my mp3 player throughout the day. My samu is cooking meals, doing chores and repairs for others.

    * What's your edge? :
    My edge in my practice starts with the fact I have “time” and “inclination”. Shantideva wrote (in Way of the Bodhisattva), “So hard to find the ease and wealth whereby the aims of beings may be gained. If now I fail to turn it to my profit, how could such a chance be mine again?” So here I am a widower, retired, near to all this nature with a deep and abiding interest in this path and finding my own.

    * What's working well for you so far, what's not working as well as you'd like?
    The chance to participate at Treeleaf is working for me. There have been a few times I found communication in this format challenging but that’s the nature of this media. Easy to misunderstand the nature of words (sometimes) without expressions and body language, or ever-present mindfulness, or finely tuned awareness.

    * Anything new you are going to put into your practice this week? :
    Just these exercises.

    * After your daily practice, send a quick message with the bare details:
    Perhaps. I am offering this start out of respect. I guess I am interested to see if others intend to participate in this and what shape that participation takes.

    Gassho,
    Don

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    I posted this in the Practice Partner Exercise 1 thread, but was requested to post it here as well:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Hi all,

    I'll start with the disclaimer that these are merely my experiences and I do not mean to imply that anyone else shares them. I can only speculate as to others' feelings on the exercises and hope they will share them too. And of course any suggestions I make to Fugen and Shohei are only from the outside looking in and may be in direct opposition to something they felt was integral to the exercise. This is just me brainstorming out loud and throwing out impressions from my scattered brain, thinking maybe one or two might stick during the course of the 12 days. And I am in no way saying "this is how it should have been"...only "this is how I took them in...this is what I took away".

    When the idea of practice partners began, I must admit that I was very intimidated. I got a partner quite soon in the process (BrianW) and knew him from the forums, but it still felt a bit awkward to engage with someone so quickly on such an intimate subject. I don't know if easing into it with less to discuss would have made it any, well, easier....probably not in my case. I know I felt a bit of pressure (self inflicted) to use Skype and be face to face with my practice partner, but as Brian and I would discuss later we both felt a bit uneasy with the medium. As I remember (and correct me if I'm wrong Brian!) we sent a PM to each other with questions discussed in the exercise but also some basic pleasantries about ourselves and our families. Both of us seemed more comfortable with that method of communication, since scheduling a specific Skype time would have certainly been less convenient...although the thought does cross my mind at the moment that perhaps being convenient wasn't the point!

    Looking back, any "problems" I had with this exercise were really based in my fear of opening myself up to another person, even one I knew, since it often takes me awhile to warm up to someone. I can see advantages to making Skype mandatory for those who have access to it, one being to push us past our comfort level, but I do think at the start it is better to let people get to know each other in the method they find most comfortable. That's how Treeleaf itself works through the forum (at least for me) as people can decide how much they want to engage the topics and, in a certain sense, take it or leave it. But the exercise really didn't ask anything of us that isn't asked for in the forums...honesty, courtesy, and dedication (if we so choose to undertake them). Looking at them now, the exercise seems so simple and straightforward, but at the time it seemed anything but simple.

    That's it for today...hope to see some folks on day 2! And if you have any questions or comments Fugen or Shohei, fire away.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    P.S. By the way, I should just mention that with most of the exercises I will probably just be doing them rather than commenting on the process. This just seemed like a good way to start

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Great idea Don! Here goes mine:

    Exercise I:

    * Introduce yourself briefly including where you’re living and your main interest in online practice:

    I am a stay at home dad to two young boys while my wife works, all living near Rochester, NY, USA. My SAHD gig makes traveling to a zen center quite difficult and, despite the numerous buddhist centers in the vicinity, there are no soto centers less than a day's drive away. Besides, Treeleaf is my home!

    * How will you communicate your practice (zazen, study, teacher-student, skillful practice, practice partner) to your practice partner? :

    As suggested, I will post answers and thoughts regarding the exercise’s questions here in this thread. Sometimes amending or combining the questions; other times disregarding those which may be redundant in this format. (I stole Don's response...couldn't have said it any better!)

    * What's your starting position in your practice this coming week; sitting, studying, working and communicating? :

    I plan to sit up to 2 sessions of zazen a day, usually about 25-30 minutes each. I nearly always get the first sitting in, but my schedule with the boys usually dictates whether I can include a second session. I read whenever I can, usually while the boys are sleeping. Housework is much of my life and I try to do it with a samu mindset, but that doesn't always happen. I also post on the forum whenever I can and attend the tea party most Sundays.

    * What's your edge? :

    I honestly have no idea what this means since I think of edgy as "cool", which I am typically not. I'll just say that I have few edges as a person who is not as his peak physical shape and leave it at that.

    * What's working well for you so far, what's not working as well as you'd like?

    It only occured to me to keep track of this after reading Don's message, so I'll leave this one open. If anything my practice has gotten deeper since Ango ended, probably meaning I put too much pressure on myself during it.

    * Anything new you are going to put into your practice this week? :

    Just these exercises. (Stole this one again Don!)

    * After your daily practice, send a quick message with the bare details:

    Let's see where this goes!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  12. #12

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Thank you for your words and your practice.
    Gassho,
    Don

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the second day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...a meal!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #2:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2855

    PLESE NOTE: One reason I know I got off track with these exercises was because I felt "behind" in doing the past ones, so when new ones came up I didn't do them. Please feel free to jump in on any of these whenever the mood strikes. If you want to go back and do #1, please do so as I really hope some more folks will join us!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

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    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi all,

    Share a meal together, recite the Gatha together, eat in silence for 5 minutes. After that, talk is encouraged on the general subject of "gratitude", as is the theme of the Gatha, for the food before and other aspects of life.

    It is recommend that folks cook something they will probably find tasty, and something they know they usually do not like
    (as well, using not spoiled foods but foods that are not peak/pristine condition), and to eat both without judgment.
    I think one of the most difficult things I found with some the exercises, particularly the first few, was adpating them to my circumstances. So, when it came to this one...making a meal...that was a bit difficult since I rarely if ever make a meal that isn't for my kids. Even now stealing a few moments to type this is difficult, with my younest here eating Cheerios while I get ready to shovel a foot of snow so my oldest can get up the driveway from school. I am sure there are many lessons in this, but when your life isn't entirely your own you do have to make compromises. I pledged to give most of my time to the needs of my children, did so willingly, and wouldn't change it. But when I'm confronted with a simple task...make a meal..."taste the sweet and sour"...it seems near to impossible! I'm sure it is not impossible...but you do tend to lose track of yourself and your practice. I shall endeavor to do a better job of that.

    So, I can't say I have any criticism of this exercise...merely criticism of my ability or desire to do things I resist. What else can I do?

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  15. #15

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Exercise 2

    *Share a meal together, recite the Gatha together, eat in silence for 5 minutes.

    Mixing A Metaphorical Meal: A recipe just waiting to happen...

    From Dogen’s “Instructions for the Zen Cook” comes Uchiyama’s book “How to Cook Your Life” . In part it talks about how to prepare a meal; not just any meal but one we prepare to share with others. The “meal” it is speaking of is our practice. Why share it with others? It is part of the Mahayana practice of a Bodhisattva; how to save the many beings.
    Everything we experience is our life. We receive it all raw. Then we cook it in the "pot" called our head, but there is danger in this. This pot contains poisons, three in fact; greed; hatred and delusion. These, in turn, are fed by our six sense organs eye, ear, nose, tongue, skin, and mind; Bodhidharma’s “six thieves”. How do we deal with these things which can poison our meal? How do we handle the six thieves which would steal its flavour? What are the antidotes? What spices do we use? If our goal is to “cook” our life in this “pot” for the benefit of others, we best figure out how we do this, passing on the nourishment and neutralizing the poisons. It takes a skilful cook. Kind of like the cooks that prepare the poisonous Japanese delicacy of puffer fish. Good to know, then, in both cases there is an ancient recipe.
    In the case of our meal, one (of many) such ancient recipe is found in the Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma (Breakthrough Sermon). We defeat the three poisons practicing with the three sets of precepts (as in the three sets of precepts we receive here in Jukai), summarized by the Three Pure Precepts; to renounce all evil, practice all good, save the many beings. We neutralize the six thieves by spicing our meal liberally with the six paramitas: generousity, ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom; committing these to practice. All this has value added, as Dogen said, “Because there is practice on the other shore, when you practice the other shore arrives”.
    This is the meal I would learn to offer; to share. I used to aspire to being a Zen monk, nowadays I think to myself, "If I could only learn to be a Zen Cook". In the meantime though (not being much of a cook of any tradition) I also offer this gatha, verse, song or prayer; an intention that all will turn out well:

    This food comes from the efforts
    of all sentient beings past and present,
    and is medicine for nourishment of our Practice.
    We offer this meal of many virtues and tastes
    to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,
    and to all life in every realm of existence.
    May all sentient beings in the universe
    be sufficiently nourished.

    *After that, talk is encouraged on the general subject of "gratitude", as is the theme of the Gatha, for the food before and other aspects of life.

    This is the dessert. Heh, if we got that far after my cooking in the presence of poisons, let’s just be grateful we are still alive!

    I should quit now. A loose tongue spoils the broth, then no one would touch it with a hundred foot pole!

    Gassho,
    Don

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the third day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...cooking with carefeul discrimination!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #3:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2895

    PLEASE NOTE: Feel free to jump in with any of the exercises we have done so far!

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi all,

    Well, it took a coupe days but I was finally able to complete exercise #3 this afternoon. I must say it was an amazing experience for me to take the time to carefully prepare the meal, not fiddle with the pot and let it do it's own thing, savor the meal itself, and take it all in. I found the metaphor of the pot being our own head very interesting in that there are many aspects of our "mind theatre" we can control, but only once we accept and allow for the parts we cannot can we ever really deal with our suffering. And by "deal" I mean allow things to happen without trying to stop them. You can't stop them! Indeed, while the process was taking place I had a very fussy toddler who wouldn't fall asleep, a 5 year old playing a very loud video on the computer, and a mind that wanted to do anything but be patient for the rice to finish cooking. Add to that the fact that I hadn't been able to get out to the store to buy rice because I was shoveling out from a snowstorm and then finding time to even attempt the exercise was quite difficult. Any one of these things could, given the right circumstances, could send me into a frenzied, frazzled mind state...but none of them did. I took them as they came and realized that whether it's cooking rice, raising kids, or twiddling my thumbs...it's all life! If you go against the grain or swim agaisnt the current it is only your suffering you enhance. Even now I have a piercing headache that I would love to go away...but I have no say on that...let it come, let it go. And live!

    But for now, sleep! Then, on to day #4!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the fourth day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...dirty dishes!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #4:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2973

    PLEASE NOTE: Feel free to jump in with any of the exercises we have done so far!

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Clean up around the sink, so that there are only the dirty dishes there to be washed.

    Get everything ready so that you can wash them by hand.

    Wash the dishes intently one by one, as if each plate was the most important thing in the world ... as if handling a precious child.

    Clean diligently, removing the grime, while simultaneously dropping all thoughts of "clean" and "dirty" (if that is difficult, see if you can drop any negative feelings about the dirtiness, and see the dirty state with acceptance and equanimity).

    Do not rush it.
    Proceed ahead at a steady pace, taking care.
    Drop all thought of some goal to attain, even while forging ahead.
    Let each plate take it's time.

    How did it feel?
    Was it different than usual (if you usually do the dishes)?
    Did you feel stressed? More at ease?
    Can you consider doing this again, and other work in such "non gaining" way?

    Report your thoughts to your practice partner and on the forum Ango thread (we'll also put it forth for discussion at the Treeleaf Tea party ..).


    Hi all,

    This exercise was a little easier to find time for since I am the primary dishwasher in the household. I also thought this would be a snap because, "Hey, I do this everytime!" Result: No, I don't.

    It was different...very different. Like slow motion at first, but then it feels more like I'm NOT running at a crazy fast speed...just a regular speed. I'm actually doing the dishes, not doing the dishes AND going through every problem, decision, question, or answer of that day's activities. It just was. Man, one can sound like a whacked out guru or sage old man saying stuff like that, but it was different, and GOOD different. I didn't try to plan the best way to wash every dish and get ahead of myself, often resulting in stopping halfway through because I'm so frantic. Here it was just one at a time, not thinking about the next dish or the one before.

    Will I do this again? Yep.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  20. #20
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the fifth day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...gratitude!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #5:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2992

    It does seem like I'll be the only one participating, but still feel free to chime in at any time!

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi all,

    I may leave this one until I have a day where I'm more out and about as to have more effect. Yes, I'm sure I could always say more "thank yous" to my wife and sons as well as "the grass, the trees, and the window", but let's try it on a day I actually leave the house.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  22. #22
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the sixth day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...posture!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #6:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3025

    If you have any thoughts to share on this exercise or the previous ones, feel free to chime in any time!

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi all,

    Well, the best laid plans...I was all set to do the previous two exercises today as I went to my son's school for his holiday concert, but I must admit that I completely forgot! ops: I suppose that in and of itself says something about how mindful I was being, but there is the added difficulty of trying to hold a squirmy 16 month old while searching for a 5 year old. They just never seem to cooperate...silly kids, what is their problem? Why won't they just get with the program already! And the crowd of parents, just like little kids themselves pushing to get a good seat or talk up the teacher! It's enough to make to make you go crazy and forget your perfect, exact, on the money, super, impressive plan!

    So, to all those people today...busy parents, running children, swamped teachers, amateur camera operators, person who feels wronged by my family for making an honest mistake, and the less than pleasant smell of cafeteria food wafting through the air...thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  24. #24
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the seventh day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...nothing!

    Wait, nothing? Hmmmm....not sure how....ok, I'll just go sit then.

    If you have any thoughts to share on any of the previous exercises, feel free to chime in any time!

  25. #25
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the eighth day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...THEATRE! LINE! (Sorry, theatre humor).

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #8:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3076

    If you have any thoughts to share on this exercise or the previous ones, feel free to chime in any time!

  26. #26
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    I see you wanting a friend in this! I will try to keep up!

  27. #27
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    I see you wanting a friend in this! I will try to keep up!
    I'm falling a bit behind myself, so we can both pledge to keep up. Thanks!

  28. #28
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    I seem to be posting my results in another thread...

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Try to develop some awareness in day to day life of the "mind theatre" ... the thoughts and emotions that arise in the mind, and your reactions to various circumstances.

    Watch your behavior patterns as things happen throughout your day.
    What triggers various emotions?
    What reactions and behavior do they set off in you?

    For example:
    When you stub your toe, watch.
    When you meet someone in your family about whom you hold strong emotions, watch.
    When you get a red light when late for work, watch.
    When someone says something with which you strongly disagree, watch
    When someone says something flattering to you. watch.
    When someone says something insulting to you, watch.
    When you are feeling rested, or feeling tired, how does that change your mood? watch.
    When you feel anger, sorrow or happiness, don't try and drive the feeling away, just watch how it arises and plays out.

    Do you feel that you can start to observe your thought patterns and emotions more objectively, and perhaps free yourself from being caught by them so easily?

    Report your thoughts to your practice partner and, if possible, on the forum thread.
    Hi all,

    It's interesting that this exercise would come today since it's been awhile since certain emotional triggers have been activated. But, late yesterday and today? Oh yeah. As a disclaimer, what follows are the thoughts that arise in that millisecond and start to recede a millisecond later. So, I don't want anyone to think from what's written below that I'm in a full blown panic. I wasn't and I'm not. But these are the thoughts that arose without trying to filter them too much if at all.

    Yesterday my son got off the bus with two red marks on his face, one a scratch right near his eye, the other a very small cut on his cheek. I think I've found ways to observe and even control some of my reactions, but that was a new one. Is he hurt? Who did it? What happened? Is he ok? Am I ok? What happened!?! What little punk did this to him? So-and-so did it? Why would he do that? What do I do? What the hell do I do? Why doesn't it bother him? Did I teach him to be too passive? This is my fault! Oh crap, what the fuck do I do now?

    At this point my breathing was elevated, I'm trying to focus on him, trying to stuff my insecurities, and working to not take every step in dealing with this all in one moment. Trying not to feel like a failure for not knowing what to do in this one moment. Taking a second, just to be ok and not have it all hit me at once.

    I didn't sleep a whole lot last night. He's at school now and I sit here worried about not just the kid he is now, but the one he will become. I'm scared that I've done something terribly wrong. Will he be all right? He won't be home for two hours...TWO HOURS?! Am I going to be like this all day? Why is my heart beating faster? Am I in danger? Will he be bullied when he's 6, 7, 10, 14? How did I think I could handle this? Who did I think I was becoming someone's parent? I was bullied. His mom was bullied. Did I do this to him? Oh shit...why am I not handling this perfectly? Arrggghhhh!

    So, yeah, I'm noticing my mind theatre. Can I be objective? I'm getting there and yes I think I can, but I do have miles to go (and also zero miles to go as I'm right here with nothing to do, nothing to change at the same time). Will it ever be easy? I doubt it. Easi-ER? Sure, why not?

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  30. #30
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the ninth day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...seeds!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #9:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3092

    If you have any thoughts to share on this exercise or the previous ones, feel free to chime in any time!

  31. #31
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    What triggers various emotions?
    Things not going "perfectly" for me will set me off inside.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    What reactions and behavior do they set off in you?
    Frustration at not having things done the way I wanted them to be and when I wanted them to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    When you meet someone in your family about whom you hold strong emotions, watch.
    The first person that comes to mind is my sister. Most things I say to her are in an effort to lecture or direct.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    When you get a red light when late for work, watch.
    This is usually something I am quite patient about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    When someone says something with which you strongly disagree, watch
    I usually feel a strong urge to respond, but lately I can let it go. I prefer not to get into debates as much as before.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    When someone says something flattering to you. watch.
    I always feel like I don't handle it well!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    When someone says something insulting to you, watch.
    I always feel defensive, for sure!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Yesterday my son got off the bus with two red marks on his face, one a scratch right near his eye, the other a very small cut on his cheek. I think I've found ways to observe and even control some of my reactions, but that was a new one. Is he hurt? Who did it? What happened? Is he ok? Am I ok?
    Lol, I hope your son is alright. Is it for sure that he is being bullied, or did he just have some kind of accident?

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    Lol, I hope your son is alright. Is it for sure that he is being bullied, or did he just have some kind of accident?
    Hi Amelia,

    He's fine, thanks for asking! I don't think it was bullying, but that's where my mind went since my wife and I both had trouble with that at school...so bad in my case that I didn't go back to achool after half of 7th grade (and my wife's may have been just as bad and she just dealt with it better than I). I think it just goes to show how easily we can project our feelings and emotions about our past on to our kids' experiences in the here and now. Mind theatre indeed!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  33. #33
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    I was bullied a bit too, so I'm sorry to hear about you and your wife. I can see exactly why you might be projecting that. I do it all the time myself, but in a different way because my fault is seeing a lot of bad in situations that don't have to be.

    Heh, if he really is getting in some little brawls, I'm sure at that young it is very easy to put a quick stop to if the teachers know about it.

    But, of course, I'm sure he probably just took a little tumble off a swing or something. I hate the idea of little ones getting into fights.

  34. #34
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    I was bullied a bit too, so I'm sorry to hear about you and your wife. I can see exactly why you might be projecting that. I do it all the time myself, but in a different way because my fault is seeing a lot of bad in situations that don't have to be.

    Heh, if he really is getting in some little brawls, I'm sure at that young it is very easy to put a quick stop to if the teachers know about it.

    But, of course, I'm sure he probably just took a little tumble off a swing or something. I hate the idea of little ones getting into fights.
    Unfortunately, he came home with another cut on his face and it's a boy from his class who hit him both times. Going through a lot of emotions now...not sure I'll be able to do nurturing seeds which is up next, but I hope so. Maybe I'll just stick with observing mind theatre for now...plenty of it at the moment.

    Thanks for your kind words Amelia.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  35. #35
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    I'm sure that once attention is raised to the issue, the offending boy will be suspended. Take some pictures of your son's face. Call the other boys' parents. Threaten to take legal action... Haha, oops, I am taking this too personally!

    Do what you want. =) You are his father and you do know best.

    Gassho

  36. #36
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Dosho,

    Being a very active parent in my twin 8 year olds lives this really has hit home. They have not been in this situation, but around friends who have bullied friends. I have been reading your Practice Partner Exercises recently but hadn't participated. Your personal experience has brought them home and I will contemplate these emotional triggers as well. I had begun during a recent outing with my family to see some trains and have dinner...two days before Christmas. At that time, it felt like a nightmare. But to be honest, this thread and particularly this post helped me to analyze and compartmentalize each moment and after a short analysis bring my emotions back to centre. Granted, being late, cut off in traffic, stuck in an HOV lane, having grumpy kids, etc, etc is not a emotionally challenging as what you have experienced, but maybe the point is the same. Being aware of each emotion, accepting it and letting it be just what it is. It seems, at least in my mind, the compounding of emotions is what brings much suffering to me.

    While I hope you find peace with your situation, I also hope it helps strengthen our practice.

    Gassho and thank you for sharing,

    Shawn

  37. #37
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Shawn,

    I am graetful that my posts offered you some perspective in your practice and perhaps some peace as well.

    As for me, I needed to step away for a couple days from the forum while I dealt with the incident with my son. There wasn't all that much to be done in relation to the incident itself, but I did have to deal with the emotional repercussions for my son, my wife, and for myself. Of those three my son seemed the least affected by leaps and bounds as he didn't hesitate to head to school following either of the incidents. My wife and I, on the other hand, brought so much of our past into the present that would have been better left in the past. But that's not quite how this world works, is it? I am eternally grateful to everyone here at Treeleaf who has helped me develop my practice over the years.

    So, after a bit of a break I'll be starting up the rest of the exercsies, although I'll have to break my 12 day theme just a bit. I think that'll be just fine...as the perfectionist in me grumbles in the background. :lol: I'll be home for at least a couple more days and then on the road soonthereafter as the weather dictates. I'll read the rest of the exercsies tonight and apply them over the next week as the situation deems appropriate. And when dealing with extended family, appropriate times may be plentiful.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  38. #38
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the tenth day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...a breath of fresh air!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #10:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3116

    If you have any thoughts to share on this exercise or the previous ones, feel free to chime in any time!

  39. #39
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the eleventh day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...a zazen quiz!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #11:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3142

    If you have any thoughts to share on this exercise or the previous ones, feel free to chime in any time!

  40. #40
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    On the final day of practice partner exercises, our priests in training gave to us...a review!

    Here's a link to practice partner exercise #12:

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3169

    If you have any thoughts to share on this exercise or the previous ones, feel free to chime in any time!

  41. #41

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi.

    The first excercise was about getting a ”partner” get to know him and you.
    Sadly we weren't good enough at explaining what we meant by whats your edge, but as we're doing this for the first time, we claim an understanding readers understanding of our missteps...

    You got some questions to work from and then we're off!
    We will do the excercises one by one,as you have had a chance to start on your own, just follow along if you so choose.

    Gassho and Mtfbwy
    Shohei & Fugen

  42. #42
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Fugen,

    Glad this thread was of help to you! This coming week I'll be finishing off my posts as I finally had my holidays with the extended family. Lots of good practice is happening!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  43. #43

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi.

    The second practice was about getting to know a bit more, share an meal and gratitude.
    All these things are important in our practice, not just only the excercises.
    U were to eat in silence and cook something u liked and something u didn't like, all in the spirit of getting to know.
    The thing was realizing the difference, if any, between what u felt about the things u did, and maybe getting an feeling for how things could be.

    Now we're not saying this is an easy thing.
    It might take you lots of times to do this practice over and over and over, because it takes practice, and u still might never get it, who knows...
    thats the thing, practice wont stop just because the Ango is over, these practices are still here, use them.

    Gassho and Mtfbwy
    Shohei & Fugen

  44. #44

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi.

    The third excercise in an extension of one of Fugen's favourite Dogen lines, it's from the Tenzoky?kun:
    An ancient said "when steaming the rice, regard the pot as your own head; when washing the rice know that the water is your own life.
    And Jundo kindly brought it up as he was talking about the Tenzo kyokun a couple of years ago, here's the link:
    http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/with ... fugen.html

    Added to that we had another line from the Tenzokyokun,
    ...Carefully watch with clear eyes that not one grain is wasted; then put in a pot, light the fire, and steam the rice.
    First up is making an meal mindfully and with great care.
    Next thing is eating slowly, exploring the eating and the food.
    This, we believe, is not something we are used to do, neither the unrashfulness of the first part nor the slow pace of the second, in our lives today.
    Although things like this excercise has been the craze in some cultures and is most often used in different mindfulness societies and sanghas associated with for example Thich Nhat Hanh.
    An shorter extension that you might try out is eating a raisin.
    Do this by first exploring it in your hand, looking at it, feeling it, and the putting it in your mouth and examining it there thoroughly before swallowing it.

    The practice is much about being mindful of what goes on and is experienced.
    Now, we had some different experiences regarding this excercise, and they're all good.
    It is perfectly normal to stand there and be rashful and want to do this and this and this as at the same time it is equally good to just see the thoughts come rumbling on.
    The question is what do you do about it?

    Gassho and Mtfbwy
    Shohei & Fugen

  45. #45

    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Hi.

    The fourth ecxcercise is doing the dishes!
    We've all done some cleaning up in our lives, now we do it with a twist. :twisted:
    Actually, if you just get into the habit, it makes washing so much more fun...

    Some notes on the excercise is that you should clean up around the sink before getting to the dishes, because, as in fengshui, there is something about open, clean spaces.
    Next you might want to just have one plate (or whatever your washing) in the sink, much like the Kyudobowman only carrying one arrow, as he's about to go and shoot.

    Some people feel a lot of stress as they do this excercise in the beginning, and we might not encourage doing it with all your kids running around your legs either.
    The stress is normal, because we are, sometimes, not use to taking the time to reallly do things like this.
    Better to wait a bit into the evening and when everything settles down, go do the dishes.
    And thats the secret behind the excercise, do the dishes.
    Nothing else.

    Gassho and Mtfbwy
    Shohei & Fugen

  46. #46
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: The 12 Days of Practice Partner Exercises!

    Just a quick note to say thanks to Dosho, Fugen and Shohei for reminding me of these exercises.
    I plan soon to revisit these, as they were dropped soon on as things began to pile up and get overwhelming for a bit during Ango, but I did enjoy the exercises and what I was able to learn and share with my partner.
    Gassho.

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