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Thread: Zazen only a drop in the bucket?

  1. #1
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Zazen only a drop in the bucket?

    I'd like to hear people's thoughts on this one...

    I am sitting more regularly (people who've heard me say that 30 times please ignore that statement), and learning to drop thoughts in a way I thought was good enough, but I am really having lots of chatter going on and on in my head. Not the schizophrenic type of chatter, but a constant stream of everyday nonsense: Going over and over again in my mind what I said in answer to a question someone asked me. What to say if Mom asks me about such and such. Conversations I had with people both good and bad. Talking to myself about plans for the near future and blah blah blah...the list goes on.

    It seems like it's gone so far beyond my control. I find myself in some sort of inner rap session every moment I'm not in a meeting or otherwise engaged with other human beings (and even then it can happen).

    I don't want to go to my med provider and ask for some pill for it that will make me stoopid (sic). That won't help anything. But I don't know if it's physiological, or if I just let myself do too much of what I seem to always have done naturally, and now I'm stuck in a cycle.

    Should I be sitting several times a day? Eating more broccoli? Has anyone been through this, and how did you resolve it?

    Gassho,
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi Julia!

    My head usually was like that a few years back. Like a monkey jumping all over the planet.

    In my limited experience I can say that sitting twice a day helped me a lot. Once at dawn, the second in the afternoon.

    Being the first one my long sitting. In my case that is 35 or 40 minutes.

    Also, I have found that exercising helps a lot to get your mind focused. Maybe a little running 3 times a week? That's what I do

    While sitting all I do is just not to comment or "grab" thoughts. I just let them go.

    Hope that helps.
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Julia,

    I think the key phrases in your post were "good enough" and "beyond my control"...it's beyond good, bad or control. But, that's the usual line and I understand where you are coming from. I can only speak to my own experience as a humble novice priest, but I had the same thing for a long time and still do once and again. The thoughts never go completely away, it just gets a bit easier to let go of them. I spent a long time getting caught up in how to do zazen "properly" and believe me when I say that you are doing zazen just fine. These thoughts are traps we have set up for ourselves that even the most dedicated practioner can fall back into. Give yourself a break, relax as much as possible, and let the thoughts come. All of them! It will be overwhelming at times but keep with it and try your best not to label anything during zazen as good or bad. It just is.

    Just my $0.02.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Ordained Priest -In-Training & Shuso (Head Seat) for November - Ango 2014
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please take what I say with a grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma!

  4. #4
    Hi Julia
    I will only speak for myself here but I will say that conversations in my head come and go, so many factors in our lives bring them up. One thing I have noticed is the minute(or minutes) I stopped trying to not focus on them they got a bit easier to drop or let go of as Kyonin said.

    Let them come up, but do not follow them too far. Sitting seems to help the conversations settle more too. The times I sit less, are the times I find my inner conversations more regular and during my day to day stuff too. Sitting more often (read regularly...) the less I notice them.

    Broccoli I cannot say but perhaps less caffine if your prone to a lot (like me!).

    I would approach this gently... sitting does not HAVE to be just this way or else its no good/less good/useless(well...hehe its good for nothing but....)
    So far you have noticed the chatter and the cycle...so I would say keep sitting and paying gentle mind to it and let it go when you do catch yourself, with out worrying about the quality of zazen.

    Gassho
    Shohei

    Edit just hit post and noticed Dosho's post... Ditto what he just said!
    Last edited by Shohei; 06-20-2012 at 07:21 PM. Reason: hit post and noticed Doshos post and wantted to ditto it :D

  5. #5
    hi Julia,
    from my own experience, if the chatter is just too much I start counting breaths. Even though it's such a basic practice and usually given to "novices" but it works every time.
    Gassho,
    Andy

  6. #6
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi Julia.
    I think this is pretty normal and not something to worry about. There is much wisdom in the words above.

    Maybe a chat with one of the teachers might be a good idea?

    Gassho and take care
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  7. #7
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    So much good advice here; thank you, all. Just wanted to add that I would consider myself a borderline or undiagnosed case of ADHD. My oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD recently, so it's in my genes somewhere. Anyhow, I've had problems like this all my life so I empathize with your situation. Ultimately, as disorderly as it is, I've come to accept that is simply my zazen. And, to borrow from Maezumi Roshi, "your zazen is the zazen of the buddhas."

    Gassho,
    Shujin
    Last edited by Shujin; 06-20-2012 at 07:53 PM.

  8. #8
    Things that have helped me to "settle down" tremendously, in life in general, not just in zazen:

    - Zero caffeine (was a nightmare to quit but I feel so much better and "level" now)
    - Regular exercise. I'll second Kyonin on the running!
    - Cut out junk food as much as possible
    - Limit TV/net surfing/news reading+watching -- after abstaining from these for a week, I was amazed at how agitated I felt upon resuming.

    But I wouldn't worry too much about scattered thoughts. Just don't hold them.

    Oh, and read "Opening the Hand of Thought" on the Treeleaf book list if you haven't already. I just finished re-watching all of Jundo/Taigu's Intro to Zen videos as well--interesting how many new things you pick up or re-learn things you'd forgotten. Might be worth a re-watch for you too.

    Best of luck! Let us know how it goes.
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Your experience with the mind chatter is normal. Over time, your ability to let of your thoughts will improve. There are days when my mind is clear like the deep blue sea but other days, I feel the mental waves throwing and crashing my mind about like a tiny rowboat riding in the midst of a sea storm. Keep sitting while letting go of expectations and judgements on whether it's good or bad Zazen. The fact you are noticing your mental chatter, it is a very good step. You are becoming mindful of what is happening inside and now you know what to let go of.

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    Things that have helped me to "settle down" tremendously, in life in general, not just in zazen:

    - Zero caffeine (was a nightmare to quit but I feel so much better and "level" now)
    - Regular exercise. I'll second Kyonin on the running!
    - Cut out junk food as much as possible
    - Limit TV/net surfing/news reading+watching -- after abstaining from these for a week, I was amazed at how agitated I felt upon resuming.

    But I wouldn't worry too much about scattered thoughts. Just don't hold them.

    Oh, and read "Opening the Hand of Thought" on the Treeleaf book list if you haven't already. I just finished re-watching all of Jundo/Taigu's Intro to Zen videos as well--interesting how many new things you pick up or re-learn things you'd forgotten. Might be worth a re-watch for you too.

    Best of luck! Let us know how it goes.
    Hi Julia - I agree with Kaishin's advice. My home page used to be the BBC news site. I changed it to a calm picture - it made a big difference. Our minds are so overstimulated on many, many levels.

    I've stopped aiming for anything while sitting - most times my mind is scrambled - I'm in awe of anyone who has mastered sitting for hours.

    There's been a lot happening in your life - probably settled thoughts are easier to access when preceded by calm events.


    Be kind to yourself,

    Gassho

    Willow

  11. #11
    Hey Julia.
    i know alot of things already been said about it. and i pretty much agree with all of the above. but i will still share a little bit of what i think and had experienced in that regard.

    when i first started sitting years ago i was amazed at home much cleared my mind has become until i began noticing thoughts on a deeper leve i was never aware of. it seemed overwhelming how much chatter ran through my mind. but with time it too subsided and i found clarity and quiet.
    with time i found an even deeper layer. and so the process went on and on. with time i just accepted the fact that my mind will always work a million miles a minute. it changed a lot! less thoughts and chatter started to see the clear sky in zazen. had moments where no thought came up at all for a long time... (not really true, i realized later) and suddenly i started noticing clouds. there were thought creeping in. i tried fighting it but the more i fought the faster i lost. so i just listened to Jundo. i dropped all thought of thought. i let it go! when a thought comes i see it accepted it, i let it run its natural course until it expends itself. you would be surprised how many of them come. movies i've seen, books i've read, music i herd, people conversations, things i have on my mind lately... pretty much everything!
    now days i just sit and try not to notice it. just let go. i sometimes feel like the thought and me are almost separate.... they float like clouds and i just acknowledge them. sometimes it feels like im not really there.
    in the end there are days its easy to sit and days where i even feel so tired i am not sure whether im awake or asleep... i might be sleeping zen or just dropping everything so much i do not notice myself.
    in either case just accepted it and let it go.

    thats my very long and pointless rambling about something insted of just keeping silent.
    forgive me for burdening you with my incoherent rant...

    Gassho, Dojin.
    I gained nothing at all from supreme enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called supreme enlightenment
    - the Buddha

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    - Limit TV/net surfing/news reading+watching
    How could I forget this! Kaishing, you are right!

    Lowering your media consumption will make your mind a lot calmer and more focused.

    I used to be a Google Reader addict and since I left that service, I can say that my stress levels (along with the monkey mind) became much more bearable.

    Yes... reduce media and be happier
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    Hi Julia.
    I think this is pretty normal and not something to worry about. There is much wisdom in the words above.

    Maybe a chat with one of the teachers might be a good idea?

    Gassho and take care
    Myozan
    Word (american slang meaning I agree. lol ) The level of chatter in my head is directly proportional to how I let myself react to the day's events. Stressful day? I tend to have more chatter; I catch myself designing solutions for work problems sometimes. Or mock arguments with people, if those people said something to piss me off. lol I think the more I sit the more I realize how much my mind is doing this. There are no distractions, so you can really pay attention to what goes on in your mind. But just keep sitting. Don't worry about it, just keep sitting

    Gassho,

    Risho

  14. #14
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post

    Oh, and read "Opening the Hand of Thought" on the Treeleaf book list if you haven't already. I just finished re-watching all of Jundo/Taigu's Intro to Zen videos as well--interesting how many new things you pick up or re-learn things you'd forgotten. Might be worth a re-watch for you too.
    I am doing that with the vids already...and I think that book is great In my humble (and probably wrong) opinion, the fact that you have that monkey jumping in your mind is normal as a human being, otherwise you would be a rock; the fact that you can actually be aware of its jumps (a.k.a. "thoughts") is great because it is your chance to get back to your "Zazen" line (a.k.a. The reality of your life in that very moment) .... just open the hand of tought and let go, return to your Zazen posture, one an one thousand times...

    mmmh it would make more sense if you could read the book please excuse my poor wording
    Last edited by Koshin; 06-21-2012 at 04:11 PM.
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  15. #15
    disastermouse
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    Julia,
    I have a genuine case of ADHD, so what you're describing is not foreign to my experience. I've talked to some people who've been sitting who do report an actual INCREASE in mental chatter after they've been meditating for a little while - although it's hard to say whether it's an actual increase or just a much closer awareness of the mental chatter. I don't know if shikantaza is a prescription for anything, but I do remember from back when I did sit everyday - it does subside after awhile. Genuine curiosity about the internal dialogue may do more to silence it than opposing it...

    Chet

  16. #16
    Yes, eat more broccoli. No, have not resolved that yet. Great that you are sitting regularly. Dogen said that practice. And realization are one. Have you noticed that some thinking and feeling is more difficult to let go of than other?
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki View Post
    I'd like to hear people's thoughts on this one...

    I am sitting more regularly (people who've heard me say that 30 times please ignore that statement), and learning to drop thoughts in a way I thought was good enough, but I am really having lots of chatter going on and on in my head. Not the schizophrenic type of chatter, but a constant stream of everyday nonsense: Going over and over again in my mind what I said in answer to a question someone asked me. What to say if Mom asks me about such and such. Conversations I had with people both good and bad. Talking to myself about plans for the near future and blah blah blah...the list goes on.

    It seems like it's gone so far beyond my control. I find myself in some sort of inner rap session every moment I'm not in a meeting or otherwise engaged with other human beings (and even then it can happen).

    I don't want to go to my med provider and ask for some pill for it that will make me stoopid (sic). That won't help anything. But I don't know if it's physiological, or if I just let myself do too much of what I seem to always have done naturally, and now I'm stuck in a cycle.

    Should I be sitting several times a day? Eating more broccoli? Has anyone been through this, and how did you resolve it?

    Gassho,
    Julia
    Hi Julia,

    Yes, Zazen does not end on the cushion.

    As the several wise folks on this thread have said, yes, all through one's day practice letting thoughts go that trap you, don't get caught in the drama, see through the parade of constant throught and emotions into the stillness and silence also there.

    To have a stream of thoughts and problems in life is just life. To also learn to see through them to an allowing clarity and illumination at the same time, and not be trapped by them as we otherwise would be, is our Practice on and off the cushion.

    So many wise & compassionate folks in this Sangha and in this thread!

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-21-2012 at 03:46 AM.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Kyonin,
    That's great that you can sit for up to 40 minutes. I am still working up to that. It seems like 20 minutes is my maximum before my head explodes.

    I will try to sit more than once per day. As for exercising, I am still trying to work that out around my wrist injury (and possible surgery).

    I remember being better about dropping thoughts in the past. It seems like I'm not as good at it now, or there are more thoughts to drop. I get caught up very easily in the mind-theatre.

    It's inspiring for me to see that you overcame your mind's monkey jumping -- makes it feel more doable for me.

    Gassho,
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  19. #19
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Dosho,
    The thoughts are traps, you are right, and I seem to be falling into them more than before lately. But I will stop judging them, I guess zazen with a flood of thoughts and some periods of being caught up is still zazen, yes?
    gassho
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  20. #20
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Shohei,
    Yes, I could live with less caffeine in my life most likely.

    Maybe that's the problem, I noticed "too many thoughts" and my attachment to that idea kept them coming. It's a good point. It seems that trying to find an explantion for their being more made them increase, a viscious cycle...
    Gassho,
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  21. #21
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Andy,
    That used to work so well for me, but somehow even that fell away and I was sucked into the mind-drama over and over...frustrating! I think it was Kaishin that pointed out I'm going through a lot, so perhaps it's a temporary phase, and breath counting will once again be a good starting point.
    Gassho,
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  22. #22
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Myozan and Risho,
    Yes, it's time I chatted with Jundo, I have talked to Taigu (a while back) but never to Jundo, it's about time!

    Risho, "mock arguments" sums it up perfectly! I am always anticipating near-future confrontations both mild and intense, I am so much on the defensive and feeling like I can't live in the moment, just plan things so people don't "get a jump" on me. I guess I've experienced that too much lately so 've come to expect it as a defense mechanism, but it's not a very good one, is it?

    Gassho,
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  23. #23
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Shujin,
    I actually have ADD, and I thought that had something to do with it but I didn't want to just slap a label on it without discussing.
    I hope I find the acceptance for myself as you have for yourself, thank you for disclosure, I know some people don't want to talk about their disorders that much.
    Gassho,
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  24. #24
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Kaishin, I will get the book soon. The caffeine is a tough one, I wonder if it would do to cut back gradually so I'm not knocked out of commission for an entire two weeks.

    Willow, the fact that you have observed and reflected on my recent condition and circumstances shows your great caring -- gassho. And it's a good point, that I didn't consider my current context. I should give it time also, and not just patience for the moment.

    Kyonin, remember when we talked about this before? You'd think I would be better, but not by much! It's hard to resist the impulse to "keep up with what's going on" even though I can do very little about it and it stresses and aggravates me. Leo Balbuta has written a lot of things about that but it is a process and sometimes it's a process you have to do over again!

    Lipor, it's not bad wording (and I read Spanish if you want to write, but what actually comes out of my mouth is a language I call "Franspanol" because my French has a horrifying influence on my spoken Spanish! You and Kyonin would completely crack up at me.) I am glad I am not a rock, and you make a good point about the "zazen line", I never heard it described like that but now I feel more empowered.

    Gassho,
    Julia
    Last edited by murasaki; 06-21-2012 at 03:57 AM.
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  25. #25
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    I'm so confused by the new system that I'm posting replies all over the place, I'm sorry!
    Chet, the first thing that came to mind was that my ADD was probably acting up. My meds are more focused on anxiety reduction and have found a workable dose/combination that I didn't want to have to mess around with. It would make sense for chatter to increase with sitting because of greater awareness, but I'm definitely feeling a quantifiable increase in thougts.s.

    Dojin, it was a good rambling I didn't think of it in terms of layers, that kind of makes sense though I will hae to keep expeeriencing to really get it. Letting the thoughts "run their natural course" sounds like the acceptance others mentioned, which I have not been doing at all, I will focus on this (or not-focus, you know what I mean) next time.

    Ekai, I'm glad I identified my mental chatter/drama even though at the same time I was caught up in it. Maybe my beginner's practice is what helped with that.

    Rich, I sure do notice how certain thoughts attach to me as strongly as I attach to them, and it's disturbing but necessary to realise. Now, if only I could get my boyfriend to eat broccoli with me, he hates it more than anything.

    Jundo, a parade it is indeed but I guess I can be happy that all parades end at some point!

    Gassho,
    Julia
    Last edited by murasaki; 06-21-2012 at 04:21 AM.
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  26. #26
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    I have read that it takes about five minutes of sitting for your mind to start calming down . . . so sometimes when I first sit down, I just let it do what it wants. After a few minutes, I think, well, are you done now? And I'm usually able to relax a bit and be quieter than if I had just immediately tried to shut my mind up.

    Gassho

    Jen

  27. #27
    Zazen only a drop in the bucket?
    Thus have I heard; A jug fills drop by drop.

    "When you are practicing zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything. It appears as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer."
    Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  28. #28
    Julia,

    I hope you don't mind my two cents. I used to have a horrible problem with sleepiness and then, after about 5 years of it there was a switch and now I find myself sitting in the midst of a tempest of thoughts whenever I sit. It generally takes about 15 minutes for the mind to quieten for me so I definitely recommend patiently sitting with whatever comes up and watching it rise nd fall of its own accord. It may be nice to take one day a week to abstain from entertainments and focus solely on the Dharma. In the other tradition that also informs my practice is the observance of the uposatha (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/d.../uposatha.html) which is day where people take an additional set of three renunciant precepts that help to simplify one's day and lead to a quieter mind. The Lord Buddha said that patience is the highest virtue and I think that it's always called for regardless of the situation. May you find true and lasting happiness in this lifetime. Mettaya.

    Gassho,

    Mike
    To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
    -Dhp. 183
    My Practice Blog

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki View Post
    Kaishin, I will get the book soon. The caffeine is a tough one, I wonder if it would do to cut back gradually so I'm not knocked out of commission for an entire two weeks.
    Despite its ubiquity, caffeine is a serious, powerful drug. You will definitely want to wean yourself off. Believe it or not, I actually sought the help of a substance abuse counselor to help me detox. Even though I really wanted to quit I could not--definitely an addiction! These days, even a cup of green tea sends me reeling. So I just avoid the stuff altogether.
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  30. #30
    disastermouse
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    It could be that you're becoming aware of more persistent and 'deeper' anxieties? I've noticed an uptick in anxiety and stress when I sit more - it's paradoxical, but it's due to not being able to bury things very well.

    For instance, my psychodrama regarding romance is messing me up something fierce right now.

    Chet

  31. #31
    disastermouse
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    Despite its ubiquity, caffeine is a serious, powerful drug. You will definitely want to wean yourself off. Believe it or not, I actually sought the help of a substance abuse counselor to help me detox. Even though I really wanted to quit I could not--definitely an addiction! These days, even a cup of green tea sends me reeling. So I just avoid the stuff altogether.
    Matt - Did you taper down? You CAN quit coffee cold turkey much more easily than, say, cigarettes - but tapering down also helps. I can't even taper down with cigarettes - I had to start taking Chantix.

    Chet

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Matt - Did you taper down?
    I tapered, but I was also drinking extreme amounts of caffeine. On the order of two pots of strong Starbucks brew a day. Took me about a month.
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  33. #33
    Yea sure coffe can be addictive but one cup in the morning is right for me. A cup before sports is great to. Anything can be addictive, even this forum.

    Noticing anxiety can be a good thing. It is part of you.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  34. #34
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    It's taken a long time for me to becalm my mind and much of what has been said I have done (caffeine, late night working etc) but it has also much to do with bringing externals into balance ie, job, study, career path, relationships, finances etc... so much that we wish to balance right now but have to be patient about and be trusting that things will work out the right way for us even if it doesn't feel like it at the time. This is where a kind of faith in zazen can help diminish some of the worrying bit by bit. I will never forget one time when the chatter and worry suddenly stopped and I quite clearly heard Bob Marley singing "Everything gonna be alright, everything gonna be alright"... It just seemed to reflect that need to have this kind of faith in the practice. I haven't heard it since, but I hum it occasionally when needed... but not when sitting!!
    Heisoku
    平 息

  35. #35
    Hi Julia,
    I'm experiencing this right now, some times more than others. I'm a total beginner for all intents and purposes, and I think it's normal and it's probably harder for people like us who naturally have a running commentary/narration in our heads to learn to quieten the mind. This is the inspiration for my screen name "chatteringmonkeys" after all :-) I don't really have anything to add, other than that I have the same thing going on and it can be a little frustrating to have to keep reminding myself to stop narrating/thinking about things and try to calmly acknowledge it and dismiss the thoughts, and then try not to get frustrated at myself

    I'm hoping that this will eventually decrease and then disappear while sitting as my practice grows and develops. I guess it's easier for some and more difficult for others but for me, it helps to try to remember not to get discouraged and that "this too shall pass" (to borrow from another tradition).

    Darrell

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Piobair View Post
    Thus have I heard; A jug fills drop by drop.

    "When you are practicing zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything. It appears as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer."
    Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
    I love this quote, thank you for this, Piobair.

    Gassho,
    Darrell

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by chatteringmonkeys View Post
    Hi Julia,
    I'm experiencing this right now, some times more than others. I'm a total beginner for all intents and purposes, and I think it's normal and it's probably harder for people like us who naturally have a running commentary/narration in our heads to learn to quieten the mind. This is the inspiration for my screen name "chatteringmonkeys" after all :-) I don't really have anything to add, other than that I have the same thing going on and it can be a little frustrating to have to keep reminding myself to stop narrating/thinking about things and try to calmly acknowledge it and dismiss the thoughts, and then try not to get frustrated at myself

    I'm hoping that this will eventually decrease and then disappear while sitting as my practice grows and develops. I guess it's easier for some and more difficult for others but for me, it helps to try to remember not to get discouraged and that "this too shall pass" (to borrow from another tradition).

    Darrell
    Hi Darrell,

    If you are really really having a difficult time to allow some of the ripples and storm clouds of the mind to settle, it is fine to count or follow the breath for a time. Breath at your natural pace, and count "1" "2" etc. each time you reach the top of the breath. When coming to 10, return to 1 (not so easy to do, by the way). Also, place the mind at the tip of the nose and be lightly aware of the air entering and leaving there. If you just maintain the latter awareness without the counting, that is to "follow" the breath.

    Some teachers have people engage in such practice for the long term, but here I recommend folks only to do so when they really really cannot settle the chaotic mind a bit. As soon as they can, and the ripples and storms dissipate a bit, return to open, spacious awareness ... focused on everything and nothing in particular ... allowing thoughts to come and go without grabbing on, clutching them, or stirring them up.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  38. #38
    Hi Jundo,
    thank you for this advice! I have been trying to count the breath but then I get caught up in this whole "gotta make it to 10" thing that distracts me, so lately I've just been thinking "inhale" upon inhaling and "exhale" when exhaling. And just dismissing any thoughts that come up. Does that sound like a good practice?

    I really like what you said about placing the mind at the tip of the nose and focusing on the air entering and leaving, I'll try that the next time I sit.

    Deep Gasssho for that valuable advice,
    D-

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by chatteringmonkeys View Post
    Hi Jundo,
    thank you for this advice! I have been trying to count the breath but then I get caught up in this whole "gotta make it to 10" thing that distracts me, so lately I've just been thinking "inhale" upon inhaling and "exhale" when exhaling. And just dismissing any thoughts that come up. Does that sound like a good practice?

    I really like what you said about placing the mind at the tip of the nose and focusing on the air entering and leaving, I'll try that the next time I sit.

    Deep Gasssho for that valuable advice,
    D-
    Hi,

    Yes, that is fine ... and sometime during the sitting, after some minutes, see if you can transition into sitting with "open spacious awareness". Maybe move back and forth for some time.

    Also begin to get a sense for the old Zen teaching that "in" and "out", "inside" and "outside" are but divisions of mind ... Shunryu Suzuki Roshi once said this about the breath …

    If you think, “I breathe,” the “I” is extra. There is no you to say “I.” What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no “I,” no world, no mind nor body: just a swinging door.
    Here is a bit more on breathing from our Zazen for Beginners (We're all always beginners) series ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-%28Part-XI%29

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  40. #40
    Hey Julia.
    this discussion gave me and idea for a new thread.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...9194#post79194

    basically i noticed that the hour/part in the day you sit has a big impact on the sitting itself. so maybe that has something to do with your chatter... i talk about it in more length in the post i wrote.

    sorry for hijacking this thread in a different direction

    Gassho, Dojin.
    I gained nothing at all from supreme enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called supreme enlightenment
    - the Buddha

  41. #41
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Heh, Dojin -- I discovered that other thread first and replied to it before seeing your connecting it in this one So I'll retro-reply here and hopefully not repeat too much.

    I do have to sit earlier, because I get so sleepy that I give up entirely, which really makes me mad at myself even though that's not good to do.

    However the chatter is all the time, not just during sitting. So I was trying to reduce it any amount for any time of the day...it's overwhelming.

    Since I have only just restarted my efforts to sit regularly, I wondered if I just need to be in the habit of it for longer to feel a reduction in the chatter. But it seems there are other things going on that add to it too. A lot of people gave me some really good advice in this thread that I am still digesting.

    That having been said, I have only done morning sits a few times now, and I noticed that I tend to feel better afterwards. The chatter doesn't really feel greatly reduced or anything, but maybe that morning sit is the boost I need to address the problem...

    Gassho,
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi,

    Yes, that is fine ... and sometime during the sitting, after some minutes, see if you can transition into sitting with "open spacious awareness". Maybe move back and forth for some time.

    Also begin to get a sense for the old Zen teaching that "in" and "out", "inside" and "outside" are but divisions of mind ... Shunryu Suzuki Roshi once said this about the breath …



    Here is a bit more on breathing from our Zazen for Beginners (We're all always beginners) series ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-%28Part-XI%29

    Gassho, Jundo
    Thank you. If I could "like" this posting, I would LOL

    Gassho,
    D-

  43. #43
    One other thing that *might* help (and I realize it's not the kosher, traditional way so take it with a giant grain of salt from this newbie ) is (in addition to respecting the tradition and doing shikantaza facing the wall), add a short period of doing it outside.

    I find, for me, I like to have a little white noise and for whatever reason, I like to "just sit" looking at water, whether it's a small pond or a big body of water. Today, I did 20 minutes sitting on a big rock at the lakeshore right at the water's edge and it was very helpful to quieten my mind chatter but without fixating on any particular thing (sort of seeing past the water, birds, etc.). Again, this isn't to say that you/I should not continue practicing the traditional method, facing the wall, just that it might be a little extra practice if you can (a small raft) as an exercise to help quieten that chatter. I think it's the same reason why I need an air purifier on at night so I can sleep, the silence is deafening and for whatever reason, the noise silences my internal dialogue. (I tend to narrate everything I do, which was worse when I lived on my own because I used to talk to myself all the time LOL Now I realize that my mother does it and it drives me crazy, so I must have picked it up from her )

    That said, I don't think this is a long-term thing and it's something that I need to work through so that I can be okay with pure silence, pure nothingness sitting facing the wall. Perhaps some more experienced people can comment. I'm so glad you brought this topic up!

    D-

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by chatteringmonkeys View Post
    One other thing that *might* help (and I realize it's not the kosher, traditional way so take it with a giant grain of salt from this newbie ) is (in addition to respecting the tradition and doing shikantaza facing the wall), add a short period of doing it outside.

    I find, for me, I like to have a little white noise and for whatever reason, I like to "just sit" looking at water, whether it's a small pond or a big body of water. Today, I did 20 minutes sitting on a big rock at the lakeshore right at the water's edge and it was very helpful to quieten my mind chatter but without fixating on any particular thing (sort of seeing past the water, birds, etc.). Again, this isn't to say that you/I should not continue practicing the traditional method, facing the wall, just that it might be a little extra practice if you can (a small raft) as an exercise to help quieten that chatter. I think it's the same reason why I need an air purifier on at night so I can sleep, the silence is deafening and for whatever reason, the noise silences my internal dialogue. (I tend to narrate everything I do, which was worse when I lived on my own because I used to talk to myself all the time LOL Now I realize that my mother does it and it drives me crazy, so I must have picked it up from her )

    That said, I don't think this is a long-term thing and it's something that I need to work through so that I can be okay with pure silence, pure nothingness sitting facing the wall. Perhaps some more experienced people can comment. I'm so glad you brought this topic up!

    D-
    Hi D,

    That is fine and good sitting too, and I like to sit such places very much. Next week, I am going for another hike on Tsukuba mountain, and there is a rock at the top where I always love to sit on a Spring or Summer day.

    Just don't become dependent on "needing" to sit in a tranquil, postcard place with the birds chirping.

    Don't become dependent on facing the wall either, or any place. We usually sit, for example, in a still and quiet room facing the wall (or facing in ... that is also a matter of personal inclination) ... because such places do help the mind become still and quiet. However, the truly still and quiet is also not a matter of where or when ...

    (Gee, one more "We're All Beginners" !! )

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...8Part-XXIII%29

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-22-2012 at 05:15 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  45. #45
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    I was actually advised before that kinhin could be a sort of "preparation" for zazen because the moving makes things easier to focus on...not that that's a real substitute but just to help settle down. I forgot about that until just this moment

    I like white noise too, and sitting in nature. Unfortunately with 110+ degree heat during the day, and scorpions creeping about at night, outside is not so doable here

    What I did yesterday, because someone was watching TV and another body was playing a noisy video game, was to put in my earbuds so I would tune things out and hear the Insight Timer chime go off. As it turns out, the sound of your breathing is magnified and it gives you the sensation of being underwater. I had also tried earplugs for a time when I had noise that bothered me at night, and I fell asleep with my breathing sound, which is rather soothing.

    Maybe that's not "kosher" either, but I think of these things in terms of temporary crutches or for when things get to be too much and you need some sort of workaround.

    Gassho
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.

  46. #46
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Great discussion. For my own practice I find that I don't need to completely "tune out". But I try (and often fail) to reduce my intake of negativity. Turning off the news, (even the news shows I like over on the far left), staying away from violent images, etc.. seems to slow things down. I find that most of my monkey mind moments are caused by things I am worried about. It's easier for the good thoughts to just sort of settle. I've even found some web sites dedicated to providing "good news" where you can read about all of the wonderful things that happened today. At least for me, I seem to not get as wrapped up in emotions when I'm feeling more positive. I guess I'm trying focusing my attention on what's right with the world as opposed to whats wrong with it. For me, it seems to reduce the chatter. Now if I could only stick to it.....

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by chuck13 View Post
    I've even found some web sites dedicated to providing "good news" where you can read about all of the wonderful things that happened today. ...
    Please share!!!
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  48. #48
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    Please share!!!
    http://www.happynews.com/

    http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/ this one requires a subscription for most of the content

  49. #49
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    Please share!!!
    Don't forget about the "Metta News Network" which was started by the Edwards family on Facebook

    Gassho,
    Hoyu
    Ho (Dharma)
    Yu (Hot Water)

  50. #50
    I agree a quiet place is nice sometimes for zazen. nature could be wonderful but in the end i dont care where i sit. if its at home facing a wall, a mountain top (would love to try that but i dont have any places like that anywhere close to home). or anything else i think one must find focus in any situation and just see it as it is!.

    Gassho, Dojin.
    I gained nothing at all from supreme enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called supreme enlightenment
    - the Buddha

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