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Inshin
02-28-2021, 08:48 AM
I'd like to share my zazen experience that I thought may be helpful for some, so I apologise it will be longer than 3 sentences.
For a while I've been struggling with dull sleepy zazens. There's so much info already on the net how to deal with it but I've asked Jundo for help.

Accept the dullness when dullness comes, but hold a profound, abiding
faith and trust deep in the bones, unvoiced, that sitting itself is a
sacred doing, all the Buddhas and Ancestors sitting now in the place
where one is sitting, this Zafu on Vulture Peak, all the universe in the
10 direction held within this spot, shining like a jewel.

Then, just be dull.
My initial thought was "Say what? Just be dull? But everywhere else it says something else! Nahh". But I've listened. And it turned out that, what I thought I was accepting in zazen was simple observation and noting, the type of noting so often thaught in various mindfulness practices. That however, has duality of observer and observed. So when the dullness appeared I would note its presence, wrongly believing I was accepting it, but on a very subtle level there was still resistance to it and the need to fight it off, to do something with it. Then I finally gave up : let it be, if I fall asleep on the cushion let it be, if it's a bad zazen, let it be. I've merged with the heaviness of dullness and sleepiness letting the eyelids drop. And then something strange happened : instead of falling asleep my breath naturally became very short and rhythmic. After some time it calmed down into stillness and I found myself with eyes open in blissfully focused and energised clarity.
This clarity is not important in itself, just another state of mind, just like the dullness was. Who knows, maybe next time I'll fall asleep on my zafu. What I found important though, is to truly accept whatever state I'm finding myself in, merging with whatever condition presents itself, dropping all the resistance and attachment freely being in the flow of impermanence. A glimpse of Shikantaza. So much more sitting to sit.
Now I understand why Shikantaza is not a meditation that dualisticly uses various techniques and conscious manipulation of body energy (sorry Jundo, I'm a slow learner, you keep talking about it all the time).

Deep bows.
Gassho
Sat

Bion
02-28-2021, 09:42 AM
Also, if itís a pattern lately, you might just be tired and you need to sit at a different time. Itís cool to accept and observe, but itís also wise to understand that sometimes the body tells you it needs something youíre not giving it.

[emoji1374] SatToday

Ryumon
02-28-2021, 09:58 AM
Don't forget that we're in a global pandemic, so, some things may not function as they normally do.

Gassho,

Ryūmon

sat

Inshin
02-28-2021, 10:05 AM
Also, if it’s a pattern lately, you might just be tired and you need to sit at a different time. It’s cool to accept and observe, but it’s also wise to understand that sometimes the body tells you it needs something you’re not giving it.

[emoji1374] SatToday

Bodhidharma ripped his eyelids off :p
If we try to create perfect conditions and look for perfect timing to sit Zazen we may not end up sitting much. I think it might be worth it to use some effort and practice in challenging conditions. As lay practitioners we will hardly ever experience "hard core" Zazen and practice as in some monasteries.

Gassho
Sat

Bion
02-28-2021, 11:44 AM
Bodhidharma ripped his eyelids off :p
If we try to create perfect conditions and look for perfect timing to sit Zazen we may not end up sitting much. I think it might be worth it to use some effort and practice in challenging conditions. As lay practitioners we will hardly ever experience "hard core" Zazen and practice as in some monasteries.

Gassho
Sat

From the Soto-shu official website: ďAvoid sitting when you haven't had sufficient sleep or when you are physically exhausted. Before sitting, eat moderately and avoid alcohol. Wash your face and feet so that you feel refreshed.Ē

https://www.sotozen.com/eng/practice/zazen/howto/index.html

[emoji1374] SatToday

Shokon
02-28-2021, 12:14 PM
I found that early in my practice my body seemed to equate stillness and 'soft eyes' with sleep and so it was a struggle to stay awake. After practicing a while, it ceased to be an issue, and I can now sit even when I'm tired and the urge toward sleep is never an issue. My body just needed to learn that zazen is not a sleep thing...

Horin
02-28-2021, 12:51 PM
Inshin, I know it as well, and that are things that also pass in my experience. So just keep sitting

Gassho

Horin

Stlah

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Bokucho
02-28-2021, 02:11 PM
Bodhidharma ripped his eyelids off [emoji14]
If we try to create perfect conditions and look for perfect timing to sit Zazen we may not end up sitting much. I think it might be worth it to use some effort and practice in challenging conditions.

Exactly this! If I listened to my lazy mind/body every time it tried to make an excuse to not sit, I would have missed out on some very beneficial Zazen. Thank you for sharing, I think we all struggle with it from time to time.

Gassho,

Bokuchō
SatToday/LaH


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Shoki
02-28-2021, 02:19 PM
Bad zazen? "There is no bad zazen." Jundo.

Gassho
STlah
Shoki

Tairin
02-28-2021, 02:52 PM
Bodhidharma ripped his eyelids off :p
If we try to create perfect conditions and look for perfect timing to sit Zazen we may not end up sitting much. I think it might be worth it to use some effort and practice in challenging conditions. As lay practitioners we will hardly ever experience "hard core" Zazen and practice as in some monasteries.

Gassho
Sat

Right! I make it a priority to sit every day at my designated time regardless of the conditions because I know if I wait for the ideal conditions I may not sit at all.

gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Seikan
02-28-2021, 03:31 PM
I've struggled with sleepy/murky zazen off an on quite a bit this past year. I used to fight it more and try to "correct" my practice to align with my ideals. However, thanks to Jundo's wonderful perspectives on Shikantaza, I've slowly become more accepting of it as just another type of "weather" in the clear blue sky of zazen.

Consider a leaf flowing down a stream. Trying to change our zazen to be how we "think" it should be is like the leaf trying to float upstream. Quite often, the leaf will become stuck on a rock or a branch, and it may remain stuck there for some time. But eventually it will break free and continue to flow with the stream. Trust in the current of practice. Sometimes we flow easily and gently, other times we bump into all sorts of things along the way. It's all part of the journey. ;)

Gassho,
Seikan

-stlah-

(Apologies for running long...)


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JimInBC
02-28-2021, 06:32 PM
I'd like to share my zazen experience that I thought may be helpful for some, so I apologise it will be longer than 3 sentences.
For a while I've been struggling with dull sleepy zazens. There's so much info already on the net how to deal with it but I've asked Jundo for help.

My initial thought was "Say what? Just be dull? But everywhere else it says something else! Nahh". But I've listened. And it turned out that, what I thought I was accepting in zazen was simple observation and noting, the type of noting so often thaught in various mindfulness practices. That however, has duality of observer and observed. So when the dullness appeared I would note its presence, wrongly believing I was accepting it, but on a very subtle level there was still resistance to it and the need to fight it off, to do something with it. Then I finally gave up : let it be, if I fall asleep on the cushion let it be, if it's a bad zazen, let it be. I've merged with the heaviness of dullness and sleepiness letting the eyelids drop. And then something strange happened : instead of falling asleep my breath naturally became very short and rhythmic. After some time it calmed down into stillness and I found myself with eyes open in blissfully focused and energised clarity.
This clarity is not important in itself, just another state of mind, just like the dullness was. Who knows, maybe next time I'll fall asleep on my zafu. What I found important though, is to truly accept whatever state I'm finding myself in, merging with whatever condition presents itself, dropping all the resistance and attachment freely being in the flow of impermanence. A glimpse of Shikantaza. So much more sitting to sit.
Now I understand why Shikantaza is not a meditation that dualisticly uses various techniques and conscious manipulation of body energy (sorry Jundo, I'm a slow learner, you keep talking about it all the time).

Deep bows.
Gassho
SatWhat a beautiful description! Thank you. I learned a lot from reading - and then re-reading - your post.

Gassho, Jim
ST/LaH

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Jakuden
02-28-2021, 07:26 PM
From the Soto-shu official website: “Avoid sitting when you haven't had sufficient sleep or when you are physically exhausted. Before sitting, eat moderately and avoid alcohol. Wash your face and feet so that you feel refreshed.”

https://www.sotozen.com/eng/practice/zazen/howto/index.html

[emoji1374] SatToday

Haha this is one of the things that makes me realize I would never make it in a brick-and-mortar monastery for more than a week of Sesshin. After many years of fine-tuning this skin bag for peak efficiency, I know it would never adjust to the 7 hours a night of sleep a night alotted. I could do it by force when younger.

Thank you Inshin for this teaching gassho1

Gassho,
Jakuden
SatToday

Bion
02-28-2021, 08:18 PM
Haha this is one of the things that makes me realize I would never make it in a brick-and-mortar monastery for more than a week of Sesshin. After many years of fine-tuning this skin bag for peak efficiency, I know it would never adjust to the 7 hours a night of sleep a night alotted. I could do it by force when younger.

Thank you Inshin for this teaching gassho1

Gassho,
Jakuden
SatToday

I donít get it.. so you sleep fewer hours or more? [emoji1]

[emoji1374] SatToday

Sekishi
02-28-2021, 09:05 PM
Bodhidharma ripped his eyelids off :p

Allegedly... gassho1



If we try to create perfect conditions and look for perfect timing to sit Zazen we may not end up sitting much. I think it might be worth it to use some effort and practice in challenging conditions.


Yes, once we sit down, I believe we should sit steadfastly with current conditions. When sleepiness arises, sit with sleepiness. When agitation arises, sit with agitation.

But the important thing is simply to sit (ideally at least daily). So I think it is pragmatic advice to say that if one seems consistently sleepy at a particular time of day, try sitting at a different time of day. As householders, life and Mara will throw plenty of difficulties at us that will interfere with sitting, there is no need to create a new one!

But that is just my opinion.

Gassho,
Sekishi
#sat

Jakuden
02-28-2021, 09:17 PM
I donít get it.. so you sleep fewer hours or more? [emoji1]

[emoji1374] SatToday

I need 8 minimum, optimally 9. Sorry the idea of less didnít even occur to me [emoji12]

Gassho
Jakuden
SatToday


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Tairin
02-28-2021, 09:17 PM
As householders, life and Mara will throw plenty of difficulties at us that will interfere with sitting, there is no need to create a new one!


gassho2
Tairin
Sat today and lah

Bion
02-28-2021, 09:18 PM
I need 8 minimum, optimally 9. Sorry the idea of less didnít even occur to me [emoji12]

Gassho
Jakuden
SatToday


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Ah, yes! The more, the better! I am with you! I do usually function on somewhere around 7, maybe a bit less. [emoji1]

[emoji1374] SatToday

Jundo
03-01-2021, 12:54 AM
As in all things, I say "there is NO BAD ZAZEN!" ... even the bad Zazen! :p

Sleepy falling over Zazen is perfectly sleepy falling over Zazen! Nothing is lacking as sleepy falling over Zazen!

NONETHELESS ... we try not to be sleep or fall over as best we can! (A Koan. Zen folks always looks at these things two ways at once as one).

So, like folks have recommended, try to get sufficient sleep for Zazen (and for all of life), sit at a time of day when one is not so exhausted, drink some tea or other caffeinated beverage of choice (not Mountain Dew or those "Bulldog" things ... all things in moderation, even caffeine! [scared] ). However, Zen monks have had an intimate relationship with tea for 1500 years and more.

When sitting and a bit tired, try some deep breaths, or slightly elongating/stretching the neck and back. Some Zen monks put a rock on their head not to sleep, or a sharp needle in their thigh. I do not recommend that.

Some monks try to sit all night in Zazen, especially during intense retreats. Korean Rinzai monks, pushing for a breakthrough, often try to go a full 7 days with ZERO sleep ... with hallucinations that start about the third day. Also not recommended. (If they went a few more days, brain damage and death would kick in, but apparently 7 days is okay apart from the sometimes mental breakdowns which result). Some monks, trying to sit through the night, also tied ropes to themself and to a hook hanging from the ceiling so that they would not fall over, with a stick under the chin. Kinda cheating if you ask me! :-) The stick is called a Zenpan ...

http://terebess.hu/zen/szoto/16.jpg

About the Zenpan ...

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=smNM4ElP3XgC&pg=PA389&lpg=PA389&dq=%22chin+rest%22+zazen&source=bl&ots=ZLtt1aC0fq&sig=iQHgegc98emRx0klcgoLti7d5sc&hl=en&ei=juIyTojFLPHnmAX3gpTxCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22chin%20rest%22%20zazen&f=false

Dogen's teacher in China used to hit people dozing during a Zazen retreat with a slipper. I have heard that, in monasteries, sleep deprivation is used just like it is used in marine boot camp or prisoner interrogations ... to break down resistance. I don't recommend that to you either.

I do not believe in sleep deprivation. Get a good night's sleep, not only for Zazen, but for health in general.

(Sorry to run long, and put everyone to sleep)

Gassho, J

STLah

Inshin
03-01-2021, 08:57 AM
It is exactly resistance and acceptance that I found really interesting. We're talking here about sleep, but it can be anything. It can be resistance to some unpleasant sound when we're sitting Zazen. We have a threshold in our minds of what we can endure and that is a limitation set by our craving for comfort. We are always trying to make the conditions of our lives as convenient and comfortable as possible. But most of the time it is not possible and we're facing dukkha. I think that without going to extremes that Jundo described, all of us in our daily seated and unseated practice can in a safe way push through resistance and experience what acceptance means. A silly example : I'm really enjoying "my moment" reading a book, suddenly my son is asking me for a snack disturbing me. His father could make it too, but he's asking me, and I notice resistance and clinging to my "me time". If I just agree to the situation, I will go make the snack hastily, slightly annoyed wishing to come back to my pleasant time. But if let go of the resistance and truly accept the situation I'll will carry the enjoyment of "me time" to the next activity, I'll make the snack lovingly and I'll find joy in making it.
I hope it makes sense.

Sorry again for going over 3 sentences.
Gassho
Sat

Kyōsen
03-01-2021, 03:41 PM
I need 8 minimum, optimally 9. Sorry the idea of less didnít even occur to me [emoji12]
I realized when I was younger that I seemed to need more sleep that most people in order to function normally so the "8 hours" that's recommended is closer to 9 hours for me. 7 hours does not leave me refreshed at all, I feel sluggish and cranky all day. Less than that and it just gets worse. I felt vindicated when I learned more about what science has to say about sleep: We all need different amounts and while 8 is the average, there are definitely people who can do with less and people who need more, and that's just part of life.

Gassho
Kyōsen
Sat|LAH

Tai Shi
03-07-2021, 02:56 AM
Initially some years back when pain was like an ice pick into the brain, I wore a collar, and I sat lazily wishing I were some place else. I did not, or did drop into, in out of sitting, always siting somrewhere else. This I gave aways specifically artificiy, in part something else. There is always wish fulfillment. I fulfill daily now living into no adjustment. There is no pain at this moment. I just sit.
Gassho
sat/lah
Tai Shi

Daitetsu
03-07-2021, 11:59 AM
all things in moderation, even caffeine! [scared]

You actually used the words "caffeine" and "moderation" in the same sentence? (Oh I just did, too - d'oh!)
I am confused now...
But kidding aside, I once had a phase during which my Zazen practice was more like a "timed day dreaming" - it took me a few weeks even realizing this! The only way out there was making a short conscious resolution right before sitting, that I am about to let go of all thoughts now - it worked.

Gassho,

Daitetsu

sat2day

Heiso
03-08-2021, 04:45 PM
From the Soto-shu official website: “Avoid sitting when you haven't had sufficient sleep or when you are physically exhausted. Before sitting, eat moderately and avoid alcohol. Wash your face and feet so that you feel refreshed.”

https://www.sotozen.com/eng/practice/zazen/howto/index.html

[emoji1374] SatToday

The Soto-shu clearly don't have small children! Having small kids myself I have to sit when I can so sit with whatever is going on with me at the time, at first I found this frustrating as I wanted to be in optimal condition for zazen. But as I went on I realised zazen is precisely sitting with what is and sometimes what is, is tiredness, sometimes it's over stimulation. Either way I think sitting with however I am feeling at that time helps me carry my practice off the cushion more effectively.

Gassho,

Heiso.

StLah

Bion
03-08-2021, 05:06 PM
Itís one thing to sit with whatever spontaneously arises and a totally different thing to consistently make choices that make things difficult for ourselves. If thereís a pattern of an undesirable or harmful result, the wise thing is to look for the causes and maybe find solutions. 10 minutes of awake and alert zazen on a park bench during a break at work might actually be a better choice in certain situations than 30 minutes of head-bopping and dozing off on the zafu at 5 am or 11 at night. Balance is the key.


[emoji1374] SatToday

Kenku
03-08-2021, 06:03 PM
Thank you Inshin.

Gassho,
Kenkū.

sat today.

Max
03-27-2021, 07:05 AM
I have also thought about this. If (and I'm not at all sure if this is the case), Soto Zen falls into the non-dual Buddhist tradition, then Shikantaza would equate to the practice of 'Just Sitting'. We would be sitting in, what I would term, unconditioned awareness. In this state there is no right or wrong way to approach zazen, whatever arises, arises and we allow that. So if on some occasions the mind is sleepy, the mind is sleepy. As you say, let it, whatever 'it' is, be the way it is.
Respect to all.
Gassho
Sat

Tai Shi
06-12-2021, 10:13 AM
I no longer sleep during zazen nor Shikantaza but I fully relax into emptiness but I have been meditating 10 years and this October practicing with Treeleaf Zendo 7 years. With experience comes more acceptance. Be kind, and I have allowed myself to adjust to myself in so many ways.
Gassho
sat / lah
Tai Shi


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Tai Shi
06-12-2021, 10:16 AM
Thatís enough out of me for one day. lol. Thank you Jundo for much.
Gassho
sat/ lah
Tai Shi


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