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Thread: Zazen for Beginners Series: THREAD for QUESTIONS, COMMENTS

  1. #351
    Quote Originally Posted by Wondo View Post
    Thank you Jundo for this clarification. My experience with Shikantaza has been similar. Even when I encountered those variations of zazen, I never stopped practicing Shikantaza. It just always made the most sense to me…like a knowing you are home. It is such a beautiful practice and very simple yet very profound. Thank you for creating this place where we can all come as a community and share in such a wonderful way of practicing zazen.

    Gassho,

    Wondo

    Sat Today/LAH
    This is similar to my experience as well; I have tried various forms of meditation (not Zazen, but several attempts at other forms of meditation, most recently western "mindfulness", over the years) and none of it really made much sense to me. When I tried Shikantaza, it was like a light finally turned on. It just makes sense in a way nothing else has.

    Gassho
    SatToday

    -Kelly

  2. #352
    I just finished Lesson Nine and I am filled with so much gratitude for this teaching. Learning that thoughts are natural and not something to be judged is a breath of fresh air. I loved the cloud video because usually, when I think of 'thoughts as clouds' I think of fast moving cartoon type clouds; it was a good reminder of how spread out and lingering clouds ACTUALLY are.

    Gassho
    SatToday
    -Kelly

  3. #353
    Quote Originally Posted by KellyLM View Post
    I just finished Lesson Nine and I am filled with so much gratitude for this teaching. Learning that thoughts are natural and not something to be judged is a breath of fresh air. I loved the cloud video because usually, when I think of 'thoughts as clouds' I think of fast moving cartoon type clouds; it was a good reminder of how spread out and lingering clouds ACTUALLY are.

    Gassho
    SatToday
    -Kelly
    Thank you for sharing Kelly, I am glad you enjoyed it

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH

  4. #354
    I just finished Lesson 11 and spent more time focusing on the breath; I'm also reading What is Zen by Norman Fischer and Susan Moon and have been holding a more upright posture as well. I'm noticing something unexpected: it's actually more difficult to maintain focus when I'm paying attention to my breath and posture than it is when I just let everything be.

    Has anyone else had this experience, and am I trying too hard?

    Gassho,
    SatToday
    -Kelly

  5. #355
    Quote Originally Posted by KellyLM View Post
    I just finished Lesson 11 and spent more time focusing on the breath; I'm also reading What is Zen by Norman Fischer and Susan Moon and have been holding a more upright posture as well. I'm noticing something unexpected: it's actually more difficult to maintain focus when I'm paying attention to my breath and posture than it is when I just let everything be.

    Has anyone else had this experience, and am I trying too hard?

    Gassho,
    SatToday
    -Kelly
    Hi Kelly,

    Well, I would advise not to spend too much time worrying about the breath or posture. Just let the breath take care of itself. Oh, we like to breathe deeply, from the belly, but not in any forced or controlled way. Let the breath be natural, at its own pace, and then ... forget about it. Breathing happens naturally, takes care of itself.

    Likewise for the posture. It is not something to regulate or try to perfect, in my book. Find a comfortable way that feels balanced and stable, and then ... forget about it. Maybe adjust now and then as needed, but then ... forget about it again. No need to pay attention to such things all through sitting.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #356
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Kelly,

    Well, I would advise not to spend too much time worrying about the breath or posture. Just let the breath take care of itself. Oh, we like to breathe deeply, from the belly, but not in any forced or controlled way. Let the breath be natural, at its own pace, and then ... forget about it. Breathing happens naturally, takes care of itself.

    Likewise for the posture. It is not something to regulate or try to perfect, in my book. Find a comfortable way that feels balanced and stable, and then ... forget about it. Maybe adjust now and then as needed, but then ... forget about it again. No need to pay attention to such things all through sitting.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah

    Thank you Jundo. I suspected as much; I have been doing my best to follow each teaching as I receive it, and I suspect that I will find balance somewhere including all of them with practice.

    Love the cat by the way!

    Gassho,
    SatToday

    -Kelly

  7. #357
    I’ve been watching one video a day before my morning Zazen and I just finished the final beginner’s video this morning. For now I have no questions that haven’t already been asked in this thread, but I just wanted to express my gratitude for this wonderful resource. They’ve been very very helpful, so thank you Jundo!

    Gassho,
    Mason
    Sat

  8. #358
    I visit at least one sitting session with Treeleaf folks every day. Soon I will start Zazenkai because I am well enough. For me Treeleaf has become sitting.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Kind Ubasoku, calm poetry, I seek to support; to be supportive.

  9. #359
    After some reflection, reading the description again and watching the video twice I admit I do not get video 10 "the Mirror" or mirrormind. I understand what is said in the video and about the topic in this thread, but unlike the idea's presented in video 9 about the clouds and the sky, I don't understand how to apply this. I understand the words, but do not know what to do with it?

    Yes, we reflect without judgement just what is there. Just as we don't judge the clouds (or thoughts) that pass through our Zazen. We accept.

    But, what is the difference between the two or are they the same principle explained another way?

    Sorry for running long.

    Gassho,

    Artien
    SatToday
    Last edited by Artien; 06-27-2022 at 07:47 AM.

  10. #360

    Zazen for Beginners Series: THREAD for QUESTIONS, COMMENTS

    Quote Originally Posted by Artien View Post
    After some reflection, reading the description again and watching the video twice I admit I do not get video 10 "the Mirror" or mirrormind. I understand what is said in the video and about the topic in this thread, but unlike the idea's presented in video 9 about the clouds and the sky, I don't understand how to apply this. I understand the words, but do not know what to do with it?

    Yes, we reflect without judgement just what is there. Just as we don't judge the clouds (or thoughts) that pass through our Zazen. We accept.

    But, what is the difference between the two or are they the same principle explained another way?

    Sorry for running long.

    Gassho,

    Artien
    SatToday
    I won’t dare to try and explain anything as if it was doctrine.. I will say just that TO ME, the two are tied into each other.. “Watching clouds” requires an observer and the object observed, so we operate in a realm of separation: I watch “my own” thoughts and don’t interact with them, as if thoughts and observer were distinct. It is an action I take .. The mirror analogy, for me is the unification of that imaginary separation. The mirror is the space in which clouds passing by are reflected.. clouds don’t disturb the mirror, mirror doesn’t stop clouds, clouds and mirror exist as each other. That’s the nature of mind, free of divisions and self. So, I guess I understand it, in few words as : one is a doing and the other is being.
    I’m sure you’ll get a proper and accurate reply soon enough. This is just my incomplete ideas, so don’t give them too much credit, please!
    Sorry, I tried to be brief but still ran long.

    Sat Today
    Last edited by Bion; 06-27-2022 at 11:42 AM.
    Bion
    美音

    -------------------------
    Please consider whatever I might say as my own ideas, experiences and understanding, and not zen doctrine.
    Join me on Insight Timer
    Help me feed those in need by joining my Share The Meal team HERE

  11. #361
    Quote Originally Posted by Artien View Post
    After some reflection, reading the description again and watching the video twice I admit I do not get video 10 "the Mirror" or mirrormind. I understand what is said in the video and about the topic in this thread, but unlike the idea's presented in video 9 about the clouds and the sky, I don't understand how to apply this. I understand the words, but do not know what to do with it?

    Yes, we reflect without judgement just what is there. Just as we don't judge the clouds (or thoughts) that pass through our Zazen. We accept.

    But, what is the difference between the two or are they the same principle explained another way?

    Sorry for running long.

    Gassho,

    Artien
    SatToday
    Just sit Zazen, letting things be in the world, not judging or tangled in thoughts, with a radical allowance of all that is ...

    ... and one is bound to experience what is this "clear mirror." It is as if all the world is held in wholeness and illumination, including us. All things are just "as they are," ups and downs, good and bad, the welcome and unwelcome, beautiful and ugly, all prove Welcome (Big W) in the wholeness of the mirror. The mirror rejects nothing.

    Don't worry so much if you can't get your head around it right now. Just sit with such equanimity.

    The Blue Sky is just the mirror too, and the clouds of thoughts, of this and that, good and bad, etc., are not rejected by the sky. The clouds ARE the sky. You and I are the sky and clouds. It is precisely the same teaching, mirror and sky, clouds and things in the mirror, just different analogies depicting this wholeness which is separation, separation which is the boundless, clear and open wholeness.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-27-2022 at 01:44 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #362
    Thank you, Jundo.

    And thank you too Bion. I like the analogy you presented of doing vs being.

    Gassho,

    Artien
    SatToday

  13. #363
    I get it now. 2 days ago I had what you could say was a good Zazen sit. I saw the blue sky and the clouds. I was the mirror. Before it felt like "faking it." when sitting. Havent managed it since, but it's not important. I know it's there now, within me.

    So my sensere thank you for your lessons, wisdom and insights.

    Sorry to run long.

    Gassho,
    Artien
    SatToday/LaH

  14. #364
    Thank You Jundo. Just watched #6 (watched the other 5 first!). I will practice letting go and not judging, just sitting and accepting, while also still doing what needs to be done in life, "...acceptance without acceptance, inner stillness and outward action combined, allowing and tolerant."

    Huge help, thanks again.

    Gassho,
    Brian

    sat today/lah

  15. #365
    Hello to the sanga,

    I have a question about eyes. I searched much of the forum and did not find this particular question...

    When I sit with my eyes open, they get dry and start burning. And then I find that I have to blink a lot and even then they continue stinging. (Perhaps it is that I am in a very dry climate, or just that I am a beginning beginner.)

    In Jundo's instruction on how to sit, he says that whatever posture you sit in is the right way if it helps you forget your body. (I think that's the way it was said.)

    Does the same hold true of the eyes? If it is very distracting to have them open, is one better served by closing them while holding the intention to not block out the "outside" world?

    Apologies for running long.

    Thank you 🙏🏼

    Aimee B.
    sat lah

  16. #366
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimeebeing View Post
    Hello to the sanga,

    I have a question about eyes. I searched much of the forum and did not find this particular question...

    When I sit with my eyes open, they get dry and start burning. And then I find that I have to blink a lot and even then they continue stinging. (Perhaps it is that I am in a very dry climate, or just that I am a beginning beginner.)

    In Jundo's instruction on how to sit, he says that whatever posture you sit in is the right way if it helps you forget your body. (I think that's the way it was said.)

    Does the same hold true of the eyes? If it is very distracting to have them open, is one better served by closing them while holding the intention to not block out the "outside" world?

    Apologies for running long.

    Thank you ����

    Aimee B.
    sat lah
    The eyes should be normal, like when driving a car. You seem to be doing, or trying to do, something extreme with the eyes (such as not blink, stare fixedly or the like). Maybe this will help ...

    Drivin' Dogen - Understanding "Open Spacious Awareness"
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ious-Awareness

    I sometimes comment this too:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I just sit, looking out through my half open eyes, no differently than if I were sitting at my kitchen table looking at the room or driving a car looking at the road. If looking at the wall, I am just looking as if looking at any scenery. Normal vision, but I just am not particularly thinking about, pondering or concentrating on what I am seeing. I describe it as "staring at everything and nothing in particular". My eyes take in the room or the floor or wall quiet naturally, but I do not latch onto anything mentally to think about what I am seeing. For example, my eyes may rest on a chair or on some spots on the wall, but I just do not get lost in thoughts such as "ugly chair, need to go chair shopping" or "those dots look just like a giraffe"

    My focus just wanders from point to point to point quite naturally, resting where they rest, on this or that, then moving on when they move on.

    What a room looks like before Zazen ...



    What the room looks like during Zazen (but just not thinking particularly thoughts like "ugly sofa, nice chair, wish I were outside, need to clean this dirty floor ... "



    If you need more specific help, and the problem persists, let me know. Basically, if you don't have such problem when driving or riding in a car, you should not during Zazen.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #367
    Jundo mentioned my personal mistake; I tried too hard to stare at "nothing" basically forcing my eyes to focus on the wall that's in front of my eyes. That was not conformtable and irritated my eyes. Now I focus much more on my breath (nose) and while doing that I probably relax my eyes further than most people, I can still see through it (I'd say they are about 80-85% closed?). At the same time, it feels natural for my eyes so I just go with it.

    Sorry for running long, wanted to add my beginner experience mistake.

    Gassho,
    Artien
    Satlah

  18. #368
    Quote Originally Posted by Ross View Post
    Anyone got any tips from transitioning from sitting in seiza to burmese? I'm quite an athletic person but have always had awful flexibility...

    When I first tried sitting, I got my sitting all wrong (not understanding what 'acceptable' sitting positions were) and was sitting in a generaly cross legged position (I understand why it's not recommended as it was not nice to sit in for such a long period of time...). Once I realised this was wrong, I just sat in seiza, as I couldn't do anything else. I was trying to improve this but quite quickly injured my hip , so held off for a while.

    As I don't really have any real medical conditions or bad injuries, feel I should be able to sit in a position that requires more flexibility with a bit of effort. I have a fairly decent knowledge of things like this as I'm a PE teacher and practiced yoga on and off for a few years. Looking more for specific stretches in a yoga routine or modified sitting positions that I could do while reading or relaxing. Or even some tips that might help actually sitting burmese a bit easier.

    Just tried sitting in burmese now though, and it's the closest I've ever been to sitting in an almost comfortable position, but wouldn't be able to do it for more than 5 minutes still

    * Edited just to say it feels like my right psoas is really tight when sitting burmese, so seems like a problem relating to that

    Sorry to run long

    Gassho
    Ross
    stlah
    Hi Ross
    A lot of people more knowledgeable than I have already responded, and of course Jundo has his own video in the sit-a-long series showing Burmese, but I found this to be quite useful, too, especially re where the weight distribution goes. I was also intrigued by the height of the zafu in this video.

    Gassho
    Anna
    satlah

  19. #369
    For sitting with eyes open. This is possible when I sit because my eyes are not all the way open or closed, and I keep my eyes at about 1/4 open, and very occasional blinking is not bad but rather like straitening one's glasses. Not a problem.
    Gassho
    sat/lah
    Kind Ubasoku, calm poetry, I seek to support; to be supportive.

  20. #370
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    Hi Ross
    A lot of people more knowledgeable than I have already responded, and of course Jundo has his own video in the sit-a-long series showing Burmese, but I found this to be quite useful, too, especially re where the weight distribution goes. I was also intrigued by the height of the zafu in this video.

    Gassho
    Anna
    satlah
    That is a very good video to introduce the Burmese. Thank you.

    My only comments are:

    - He does say that, before getting an actual Zafu, one may sit on pillows. That is usually not so good unless the pillows, or a blanket (like Kotei makes here: https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post280684) are tightly bound and supportive, because ordinary sofa or bed pillows are generally too squishy.

    - The most important aspect of Burmese or any of the cross legged postures is getting the knees down to rest comfortably on the ground or Zabuton. Without that, there is strain on the body and the posture is unstable. It is also the most difficult aspect for many of us "thunder thighed" westerners, in my experience. Stretches and giving it time help, but it is hard for many foreigners to attain that nice, stable knee placement shown in the video without time and stretching and patience and, sometimes, losing a few pounds (it is just true.)

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #371
    Good morning, good day, good evening dear friends

    To give my mind a quiet point of focus during Shikantaza I sometimes picture the entire cosmos in the egg-shaped space created by my hands. As with the blue sky and the mirror, this imagery brings moments of quiet to my mind. Is there any reason to not include that in my sitting practice?

    ...

    In the beginner video number 14 about the 15 minute sit, there's a recommendation to attend a longer residential Sesshin each year. Is this recommendation for an actual in-person style retreat as opposed to our Rohatsu that is done from home?

    If this recommendation is for old-school in person attendence, would it be best to find a soto Zen sangha or would the local mixed Zen center be okay?

    Apologies for running long. I am making use of the exception given to beginners.

    Gassho

    Aimee B.
    sat lah
    Aimee B.

  22. #372
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimeebeing View Post

    In the beginner video number 14 about the 15 minute sit, there's a recommendation to attend a longer residential Sesshin each year. Is this recommendation for an actual in-person style retreat as opposed to our Rohatsu that is done from home?

    If this recommendation is for old-school in person attendence, would it be best to find a soto Zen sangha or would the local mixed Zen center be okay?
    Hi Aimee,

    If someone's life, health, finances, work and family duties can allow, it is highly recommended to go to an extended retreat that lasts for several days, three days, or even a week or so. Online is fine, but residential is really powerful ... getting up with the sun, long hours of Zazen, Oryoki eating, work and more Zazen! If health and such allows, it can be a powerful experience.

    Our Rohatsu is great, especially for people who cannot do so. Or even for people who can do so, then do both!

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #373
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    Hi Ross
    A lot of people more knowledgeable than I have already responded, and of course Jundo has his own video in the sit-a-long series showing Burmese, but I found this to be quite useful, too, especially re where the weight distribution goes. I was also intrigued by the height of the zafu in this video.

    Gassho
    Anna
    satlah

    This video is fantastic!!! He has a new way of explaining that really makes sense to me.

    Gassho,
    SatLah
    Kelly

  24. #374
    While doing Shikantaza, I suddenly realized that all of the noise that I was hearing in that moment was from my own internal monologue. All of the images, self-referential conversation and anxiety dropped away and I was just there, sitting on the zafu, with nothing but the experience of sitting. As a beginner, knowing that there is an internal radio of self-chat that is endless is one thing, but actually experiencing reality without being completely absorbed and enticed by it... gave me confidence in the practice

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH

  25. #375
    Quote Originally Posted by Tomás ESP View Post
    While doing Shikantaza, I suddenly realized that all of the noise that I was hearing in that moment was from my own internal monologue. All of the images, self-referential conversation and anxiety dropped away and I was just there, sitting on the zafu, with nothing but the experience of sitting. As a beginner, knowing that there is an internal radio of self-chat that is endless is one thing, but actually experiencing reality without being completely absorbed and enticed by it... gave me confidence in the practice

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH
    Lovely. I am sure that you know Suzuki Roshi's little talks on sound and noise. The sound is vibrations from outside, but the interpretation and emotional reaction is between our ears.

    In fact, the vibrations from Suzuki Roshi's mouth via video are interpreted by my brain as Wisdom.



    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #376
    Quote Originally Posted by Artien View Post
    I get it now. 2 days ago I had what you could say was a good Zazen sit. I saw the blue sky and the clouds. I was the mirror. Before it felt like "faking it." when sitting. Havent managed it since, but it's not important. I know it's there now, within me.

    So my sensere thank you for your lessons, wisdom and insights.

    Sorry to run long.

    Gassho,
    Artien
    SatToday/LaH
    There is no "good" or "bad" Zazen.

    As Dogen said: "Do not think “good” or “bad.” Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views.”

    In Gassho,
    AnGyo
    SatToday

  27. #377
    The sound is vibrations from outside, but the interpretation and emotional reaction is between our ears. In fact, the vibrations from Suzuki Roshi's mouth via video are interpreted by my brain as Wisdom.
    This reminded me of the koan about whether it was the flag or the wind that was moving, and it was the mind that was moving. Thank you Jundo, I saw that video like 10 years ago, but it is always nice to come back to these teachings

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat

  28. #378
    There is no "good" or "bad" Zazen.
    There is not good or bad Zazen. Zazen is always GOOD! ... both when it is good and clear and silent, and on those days when the mind is stormy and it is very very bad.

    A key to Good Zazen is when we learn to sit in radical equanimity, leaping through "good vs. bad," yet with trust in our bones that this very moment of sitting Zazen is Good! just by sitting.

    It is a very Good Koan!

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #379
    One can also sit Burmese style with a small bench. There are diagrams, suggestions on You Tube. I can't sit this away or on Zafu because of knee pain and Back pain and have purchased a straight back chair with arms but fork one who wishes more traditional style of sitting, Burmese may work.
    Gassho
    sat/lah
    Kind Ubasoku, calm poetry, I seek to support; to be supportive.

  30. #380
    Greetings,
    I can speak from my own personal experience to anyone struggling with pain during Zazen. I struggled with a lot of physical knee and back pain after military service. For me, when I also started a daily yoga practice, and eventually became a yoga teacher, I found that my Zazen also improved. My knee and back pain has become far less noticeable and now I can sit for much longer. Previously even 10 minutes was met with much pain. Now I can easily sit for an hour without much discomfort. I highly recommend either yoga, or anything that involves loosening the spine and stretching the body. It can be a tremendous supportive practice.

    Gassho,
    AnGyo
    SatToday

  31. #381
    I've went through all beginner videos for the first time. This was a great opportunity to get bit size teachings of zazen! Thank you so much for the opportunity to learn from you. I've also have been digging deep into the podcast " The Zen of Everything" which has given me even more opportunity to learn from you Jundo.
    The forum is vast, where do you suggest a beginner go from here?

    Gassho,
    Alicia
    Sat today

  32. #382
    Quote Originally Posted by ahaney View Post
    I've went through all beginner videos for the first time. This was a great opportunity to get bit size teachings of zazen! Thank you so much for the opportunity to learn from you. I've also have been digging deep into the podcast " The Zen of Everything" which has given me even more opportunity to learn from you Jundo.
    The forum is vast, where do you suggest a beginner go from here?

    Gassho,
    Alicia
    Sat today
    Oh, just sit. Join in whatever talks look helpful, ignore the rest.

    There are also our Buddha Basics and Bodhisattva Basics threads here, with some introductory information on those topics:

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/foru...GINNER-s-PLACE

    Some recent questions, discussions and events can be found in the "Recommended Threads Today" tab ...

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/foru...-Threads-Today

    ... or just by clicking the "new posts" tab at the top of the page. Or you can do search word for any other topic you might be interested in. We also have a recommended reading list for beginners:

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ed-Books-Media

    One of our Sangha Buddhies can offer some guidance if you get lost:

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ANGHA-BUDDHIES

    We also have various practices and activities going on here:

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/foru...?165-PRACTICES

    But, really ... just keep sitting, read a little about Soto Practice, ignore the rest.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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