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Thread: Staying focused

  1. #1

    Staying focused

    Hello all,

    I am now back after a few months away and it struck me how there is a tendency of mine to go through periods of drifting in and out of practice. Sometimes sitting becomes routine and I know this is kind of the point but when then i get into a bad mindset and I find myself sitting but not really sitting (if that makes any sense at all) does anyone else get this?

    sat today,

    gassho,

    simon

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Kyotai
    Guest
    Simon

    Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I have been through that cycle many times. Sometimes sitting feels like your just putting in time. Try going back to counting the breath in these instances until you can quiet things down.

    This often happens in my life. But remember, bad mindset is just a judgment. As is good mindset.

    Continue to sit through it all, again and again

    Gassho, Kyotai
    Sat today

  4. #4
    Joyo
    Guest
    Hi Simon, I agree with Kyotai, a mindset is just thoughts.

    I came across this on Karen Maezen Miller's facebook page today...Whatever you think stops you from meditating stops you from meditating. Although they do not exist, they are called "hindrances."


    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  5. #5
    I think I have known how you feel. I just try to remember that it is not always going to feel that way, but sometimes it will, and that's all fine if I just give an honest and gentle effort.

    Gassho

    Sat today
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  6. #6
    Hi Simon

    Yes, I have been there and it tends to resolve itself. The most important thing is to keep getting yourself onto the cushion.

    I find the same with liturgy too. Some days I will recite the words like an automaton, other days I feel the meaning far more when I am actually paying attention.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday

  7. #7
    Hi simon,

    I've only made it through the recommended Brad Warner books, but there's a sentence in there that's really helpful to me: He says, sometimes he is leading a sesshin and all he can do is keep sitting and not run out of the room. And he is the PRIEST leading the sesshin
    So, in comparison, sitting without really sitting does not sound so bad at all.
    We are all doing the best we can, and if it's not to run out of the room.

    Gassho,
    Danny
    #sattoday

  8. #8
    Hi Simon!

    Welcome back. Yes, I have been there too, but that's why I sit even more. I have found that when the mind doesn't want to sit, it's when it most needs zazen.

    So just sit one day at a time.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  9. #9
    Hi Simon,
    I think almost everyone who has persisted enough in the practice has passed for the same. Its exactly that the reason why it is called persistence: we insist in spite of the big forces which induce us to abandon it.
    I am not sure but I think that was Shunryu Suzuki who say that this kind of periods should be faced like the distracting thoughts in zazen. When you realize that have lost your concentration you just return to focus on zazen and let them go. When you realize that you have spent a period, short or long, of your life without practice, you just forget them and return to focus on your practice.
    Gassho
    Miguel
    #Sat Today

  10. #10
    Hi Simon. Sitting seems to go through cycles. Sometimes it is simple and clear. Sounds and sensations, feeling and scents,.. there is no here and there, nowhere to go. Sometimes there is being swept up in "my life" with all the emotional stories. The birdsong in the back yard is screened out and I want to be anywhere else but there. But I've been taught that sitting includes all of this, whatever state of being is present.. and I just keep sitting anyway. Like an old friend used to say "This too". Just keep sitting.

    Gassho
    Daizan
    sat today

  11. #11

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post

    I find the same with liturgy too. Some days I will recite the words like an automaton, other days I feel the meaning far more when I am actually paying attention.
    Hi Simon,

    Yep, been there. It's a rut. Like others say, it's nothing to worry about. Here's a thought about what Kokuu says above: Jundo once said something about reciting the Heart Sutra and how we can get apathetic, not really feeling the words or listening to them. This, to me, is important. We have to listen with our whole being, sit with everything we are. So that takes a fresh of mind, an openness of attitude. I would say look at your life and see where you might be closed off or stressed or something similar. It's probably just a small thing, but could be helpful in seeing why you're sitting is like this. So, I'd think of the rut you're in with sitting as a symptom of something else. Next time, try reading a zennie poem you like or some meaningful passage by Dogen before you begin sitting. Really feel those words, let them really sink into everything you are, listen with your whole self. Sometimes there's an attitude, especially in Zen, that words aren't important, but they are our great pointers, a powerful tool, so try some close, patient, gently concentrated reading of something meaningful. Then sit. Then see what comes up.

    Gassho,
    Alan
    sattoday
    Shōmon

  13. #13
    Hello,

    Shut up and sit down.


    Gassho,
    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  14. #14
    Hi.

    Many wise words here. We have to keep sitting. Even if it's just for the sake of forming an unyielding habit.

    Gassho
    Meikyo
    #SAT TODAY!
    ~ Please remember that I am very fallible.

    Gassho
    Meikyo

  15. #15
    The first days of sitting were torture. My mind was so full with various stuff already that it seemed impossible to just sit. My head wanted to expand and walk through all those (stupid and random) thoughts at once. Now after 2 month of daily sitting it's a lot more calm up there. There are days where the idea of sitting is not too appealing, other things like the nice weather or time with friends sound much more promising. But nonetheless (I) sit. The next meeting with friends, the next sunny day will be even more sunny, the time with friends more intense.

    I once thought of it like brushin my teeth. I can always say 'I won't today', but sooner or later they'll go bad and cause me only trouble. Same with sitting. I rather sit - even when not perfectly in the mood - instead of having trouble later. Trouble in the sense of a clouded, overflowing mind n such. Besides mood ain't a matter anyhow. When sitting - just sit. No mood, no mind, no good, no bad. Only the cushion and the whole universe. Steady breath. Sitting.
    Same goes for mindsets. Just sit down, When you sit there's no mindset, neither a good one nor bad one. There's nothing and everything.

    Enjoy like a cherry blossom in a warm wind carrying you around. Are you the blossom, are you the tree it originated from, the wind - are you even the sky above? Aren't you all and nothing? Is you mind(set) not everything, yet nothing? Please, join us and sit.

    Gassho, fabian
    #SATTODAY
    It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about us.

  16. #16
    Thanks for everyone's advice. Just thinking about some of the suggestions here have already had a positive effect.

    gassho,

    simon.

    sat today.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Hi Simon!

    Welcome back. Yes, I have been there too, but that's why I sit even more. I have found that when the mind doesn't want to sit, it's when it most needs zazen.

    So just sit one day at a time.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Thank you.
    Good one.

    SAT2day
    Kind regards

    Erik

  18. #18
    Ansan
    Guest
    Hello, Simon,

    I have only been "sitting" for about 3 or 4 months so I am certainly no expert. Sometimes, it is easy, and something to look forward to. At other times, like you, it just seems flat. As Jundo says, try not to sit like a bump on a log, and it is then that I ask, "what is wrong with being a bump on a log?" Or a frog on a log. Just let the thoughts go and be with the 1/2 hour or whatever time you have committed to and try to stay in the present. It ain't easy, but not hard either. I have found that my best motivation to sit is that I have a sitting buddy, my husband. He is not a buddhist but is committed to sitting. He often stages the room, and then, before sitting, we read something for "inspiration". Currently, we are almost finished with the book "Buddhism, It Is Not What You Think," by Steve Hagen. My husband is oriented toward the scientific and we usually have some interesting and provocative discussions before sitting. Another book, outside the recommended reading is Susan Blackmore's "Ten Zen Questions." She is not a buddhist either but does meditate daily and has for decades. She too is a scientist and finds Zen stimulating and is full of questions for and from her research. Like Danny, I also found Brad Warner's book "Hard Core Zen" fresh and inviting. Just sit, Simon. Don't worry about not doing it right or getting anywhere. Just sit. We are sitting with you.

    Gassho,

    Ansan/Ka

    SatToday

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Ansan View Post
    Hello, Simon,

    I have only been "sitting" for about 3 or 4 months so I am certainly no expert. Sometimes, it is easy, and something to look forward to. At other times, like you, it just seems flat. As Jundo says, try not to sit like a bump on a log, and it is then that I ask, "what is wrong with being a bump on a log?" Or a frog on a log. Just let the thoughts go and be with the 1/2 hour or whatever time you have committed to and try to stay in the present. It ain't easy, but not hard either. I have found that my best motivation to sit is that I have a sitting buddy, my husband. He is not a buddhist but is committed to sitting. He often stages the room, and then, before sitting, we read something for "inspiration". Currently, we are almost finished with the book "Buddhism, It Is Not What You Think," by Steve Hagen. My husband is oriented toward the scientific and we usually have some interesting and provocative discussions before sitting. Another book, outside the recommended reading is Susan Blackmore's "Ten Zen Questions." She is not a buddhist either but does meditate daily and has for decades. She too is a scientist and finds Zen stimulating and is full of questions for and from her research. Like Danny, I also found Brad Warner's book "Hard Core Zen" fresh and inviting. Just sit, Simon. Don't worry about not doing it right or getting anywhere. Just sit. We are sitting with you.

    Gassho,

    Ansan/Ka

    SatToday
    Thank you.



    Gassho,

    Simon.

    Sat today.

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