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Thread: losing weight & zazen

  1. #1

    losing weight & zazen

    Having spent a little time in the chest pain unit of the hospital not too long ago, I've been losing some weight. And after tonight's practice it sort of hit me that zazen seems a little easier in a way now.

    This thing we do is in large part a physical discipline, so it makes sense that being less obese might be helpful. Anyone have thoughts either way on this?

    Diligently attain nothing. Sort of. Best not to over-think it.

  2. #2
    Hey there Syd,

    Sorry, I don't have much to share on the topic, but I do know that taking care of ourselves (both physically and mentally) allows us to practice and be of service to the people we love and to our community. Sounds like you are working in the right direction.

    Also, I am happy to hear that you ok and no longer in the hospital. Keep up the great work ... it will all come together.

    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    I agree that taking care of the body, getting exercise and eating right, makes us feel healthier. It makes us feel healthy during Zazen too.

    Of course, if we are sick and can't do anything about it ... we just sit with that, and sit with what is. If we are really sick, just recline with what is.

    Of course, we also sit beyond fat or skinny, healthy vs, sick, young and old ... all just measurements of the human mind.

    Nonetheless, even when sitting beyond fat or skinny, healthy or sick ... best to eat well, exercise and take one's medicine if needed, staying as fit and healthy as possible. It is not an either/or proposition, and we can accept and be one with illness AND try to get healthy At Once As One. (Can't do much about the "getting old" part however, so best to just accept that completely!)) When fat, we are perfectly just fat ... yet can try to get skinnier.

    Zazen itself does not burn many calories ... but also, it is a time when we are not raiding the refrigerator for chocolate. So, once again, Zazen is perfect balance.

    I am on a "Zen Diet" since January ... based on some Oryoki principles of eating whatever is placed in my bowl, but in small portions, mindfully and slowly. On a "Zen Diet" there is "NO GAIN NO LOSS, NOTHING IN NEED OF CHANGING ... EVEN AS WE LOSE A FEW POUNDS".

    The Buddha was a healthy guy, probably one reason he lived well into his 80s (at a time when most folks lived half as long). He rose before dawn, retired early, did not eat beyond noon ... and was a BIG WALKER! Barefoot no less!

    Gassho, J

    PS - Good to here from ya, Syd!
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-20-2013 at 02:51 AM.

  4. #4
    Since I have memory, I've always been a big guy thanks to a terrible relationship with food my family has had for ages. I inherited that, so fighting weight has been a life issue for me.

    Exercise was the only thing that has helped me to keep kilos/pounds off. Even when I was in my heaviest weight, I sat regularly. Being big wasn't an issue for zazen, except for the sitting position. I was never able to sit in full lotus because of big thighs and butt, so I sit in Burmese.

    With that said, overweight was never an issue for sitting.

    Now, Zen indeed helps you keep weight off of you and I have found it's the best diet ever!

    In my first Ango (2011) in Treeleaf, I gave up two things: bread (and related products) and video games. The challenge was to quit both during the 90 days of Ango. The first few days were hard, but then I got used to it.

    Quitting bread made me think about a lot on how to eat properly and research for alternatives. At the same time, I was leaving a terrible habit. Bread, cookies, pasta and all processed wheat work like a drug to the brain. There's a real addiction thing going on. (There's a lot of science in this. If requested I can provide links to related articles)

    For the first time in my life I was being conscious on what I was eating! This was a revelation to me.

    And then there's the meal gatha, that reads:

    This food comes from the efforts
    of all sentient beings past and present,
    and is medicine for nourishment of our practice.

    Medicine. What happens when you have a whole bottle of medicine? You pretty much die or get close to it. Abusing food is no different, only slower perhaps. Again, Zen made me stop and think about my relationship with food, where food comes from, and how I have been damaging my health.

    When Ango finished, I had lost weight! I kept the no-bread policy without being obsessed about it. I do have some pizza or a donut every once in a while, but I try to be mindful and stop. Then I get back to veggies and lean meat.

    I was already a runner, but better nutrition has helped me get further than I ever imagined. Without my practice, I couldn't ever get to this point.

    And well, there's a lot more to tell about my better eating habits, but I won't bore you more.


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  5. #5

    Very good to hear from you and I am grateful to hear that you are out of the hospital.

    I have little to add beyond what has been said, but I will just say that when I am keeping up a regular sitting schedule I find myself more likely to take care of myself. So, I suspect that when one takes care of the mind, one is inclined to take care of the body. At least it has been so for me. I am still a bit overweight, but I tend to worry less than I used to in the past. Worrying does little to help and can actually hurt!

    Now, if you will excuse me I should go exercise!


  6. #6
    Thanks for the feedback, y'all.

    I so seldom have anything to really say, because it's just zazen. It feels a bit odd to chime in just to say things like "I feel intimidated by sewing" and "I've moved my primary zazen space to the office so I can have some relative peace & quiet while I sit." heh
    Diligently attain nothing. Sort of. Best not to over-think it.

  7. #7
    Eating to sustain health and life / eat what you need, need what you eat.

    If we can be mindful of the purpose of food as nutrition (medicine),

    seeing 'first moments' as all that is necessary,

    dropping greed (or like an itch, letting the phenomenon arise of what is an itch before we conceptually call it an itch and get annoyed by it)

    appreciating life, beyond good taste and bad taste.

    Not chasing after the superlative encounter as though it's a necessary validation of self (any of you remember Snagglepuss from the early 60s children cartoons?)



  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Sydney View Post
    I so seldom have anything to really say, because it's just zazen. It feels a bit odd to chime in just to say things like "I feel intimidated by sewing" and "I've moved my primary zazen space to the office so I can have some relative peace & quiet while I sit." heh
    Quote Originally Posted by hbhippo View Post
    I feel the same way. I have been reading this forum for about four months but am really only now forcing myself to occasionally chime in. I am naturally shy and just generally don't feel the need to talk for the sake of talking. :-)
    Oh my Buddha, that is fine! This is a Way where saying nothing is often the truly Profound.

    Oh, and remember that "feeling intimidated by sewing" is the Whole Universe, and "moving my space" is all space and time moving!

    Gassho, J

  9. #9
    Just stop by to wave, say "hi" or simply "gassho" once in awhile so we can wave back.

  10. #10
    Hello all,

    It's good to see you again Syd! I too am glad to hear that you are out of the hospital and on the mend!

    I guess I feel our practice is a whole body experience. You can't really nurture one half of you without considering the other. They go together. When we are healthy in body, we can breathe more easily and sit/kneel/lay more comfortably. When we are healthy in mind, we can breath more easily and sit/kneel/lay more comfortably . But sometimes it is a hard balance to have both healthy at the same time.

    take care and don't be a stranger.

    hbhippo - please do stop by when you can and don't feel shy, we'd love to hear from you.


  11. #11
    To add to and not subtract from; it seems the word diet can become a burden (Zen or not). It becomes an albatross to carry and becoming a weight it self, and obstructing the view of healthy eating and a healthy life style approach to food consumption. Dieting, the word, may be better framed and real as an analogy of a yo-yo. Small portions are key, by doing them 5 or 6 times a day, which helps to kick in metabolism, the fire within that burns the calories (with exercise). A higher diet in protein will help the burn, and watch the carbs, esp the white ones.... sugar, white potato (frying is the double whammy with the grease), white rice, white pasta and white bread. Grains and oats are the key replacements, toss the sugar out of the house (and all the boxed foods from the grocery store with corn based sugars), wheat/oat breads, wheat pasta, sweet potatoes and brown rice are the slower burning healthy carbs, but one still has to watch portions, they are still sugar, but much healthier. White carbs= obesity and diabetes!! Google carbs...

    There is a thought made known to me; that only eat whats in the outside isles of a market (at least state-side), produce and meats/cheese (watching cholesterol intake). The mostly boxed items (except nuts and some oats) are filled with corn based sugar, and the carbs themselves, once grains, have become processed white floor with all the healthy ingredients stripped out... ie, processed food. Personally I have not drank a soda for 25 years, they are filled chemicals, sugars (or replacements) and garbage (sorry). My choice of liquids is, many glass fulls of water a day (I am addicted), a few beers, wine and limited milk.

    Eating can be for the most part, just our drug of choice. Covering unmet emotions and feelings, not being in touch with what is truly going on inside. We just shove food in to kill the pain (of reality). It seems a Zen or Buddhist diet would look more like eating slow (without out tv, music and such distractions) being very present with EACH bite. Taste the food, feeling one with it, the true embodiment of.... knowing how it got to our tables, even to the point of who and how it got there. When we eat, EAT. Its also ok to eat unhealthy on chosen days to take a day off, so to speak. Reward (if you want to call sugar and grease as reward) is sometimes needed. With taste maturity, we can gradually not even want the grease and sugar, as your taste buds become more favorable to bitters/tart and spice.

    Healthy eating and life style can become our way of life to truly live in the moment. Exercising should be at the top of our list of priorities, not something we will get to at some point, and make it strenuous, kick some ass! Push and pull your body to its extremes and a healthy life, its also VERY healthy emotionally, countering depression and life dramas. ENOUGH ALREADY!!

    Last edited by galen; 02-24-2013 at 08:10 PM.
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