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Thread: Zen Practice with Physical Illness or Disability

  1. #1

    Zen Practice with Physical Illness or Disability

    Dear Everyone,

    Treeleaf is an online sangha, designed with the intention of providing a place for people to practice Zen who are not able to physically access a ‘bricks and mortar’ dharma centre. Reasons for not being able to attend a physical centre include reasons of geography, life circumstances (such as working hours, caring for young children or sick relatives) and, also, having physical illness or disability.

    As such, we welcome members who have physical challenges in their everyday lives which also apply to some aspects of practicing Zen. This information is intended to answer some of the most frequently asked questions which may cause people with varying physical abilities to think they cannot practice Zen or cannot do so ‘properly’, and also provide some resources on the topic from Zen and Buddhist teachers and organisations. Even if we are currently healthy, illness and aging are a certainty in life so at some point we will have to modify our practice to accommodate physical frailties.

    Although some of us in the sangha already practice with disability and/or physical illness, the challenges we face may not be the challenges that you face. While we have attempted to be as inclusive as we can, please let us know if you require information or assistance that is not here, and applies to your particular situation. By doing this, we can increase the scope of support offered.


    SITTING POSTURE
    Zen can be a very physical practice. To begin with, being able to sustain posture on the cushion can be very demanding for anyone with challenges to their physical health. When we see rows of students sitting in the lotus posture, or half-lotus, Burmese etc, that can seem like the correct way to do things. However, forcing yourself into a posture which is more than a little uncomfortable (postures can initially feel odd as your body adjusts to them) is not conducive to good sitting and this is even more true if trying to do so might cause you long-term damage through pushing your body too hard.

    If you can do the traditional postures but need support in the form of additional cushions, a neck brace, back support and such like, it is completely fine to do this.

    Alternative postures to the standard zafu sitting include sitting in a chair (often with a cushion or zafu under your feet so if they do not naturally reach the floor), lying on your side (such as the Buddha’s parinirvana posture) and lying on your back (including support under your knees) such as in the yoga śavāsana (corpse) pose.

    This article gives some advice on alternative postures.

    It is perfectly fine to attend zazenkai and other sits and ceremonies in supported or reclining postures.


    BOWING
    Bowing, especially full-length prostrations, can be physically demanding. If prostrations are required in the weekly zazenkai or other ceremony, you can instead visualise doing this with your hands held in gassho (if you are able). If the gassho position (palms together and held with the base of the thumbs in the centre of the chest) cannot be achieved or maintained, it is okay just to visualise doing this also. If your physical ability necessitates a one-handed gassho, this is completely acceptable.


    KINHIN
    Kinhin (mindful walking) occurs between sessions of zazen in the weekly and monthly zazenkai. If you are unable to walk, then this can be replaced with some mindful stretching. Part of the function of kinhin is to stretch the muscles after zazen in addition to being aware of our body as it moves. Stretching also achieves both of these things.

    If stretching is not possible then consider watching the movement of the breth.

    If you are able to do a brief amount of kinhin then please do this for as long as you are able and then either stretch or watch the breath as above.


    SEWING
    Jukai (taking the precepts) and Shukke Tokudo (homeleaving ordination) both require sewing as part of the preparation for the ceremony. Before Jukai, participants sew a rakusu. Before Shukke Tokudo a kesa is sewn. These sewing activities are part of a commitment to the practice and the ceremony about to happen but rely on the sangha member being sufficiently able to sew.

    If you require assistance or modifications to the normal method to be able to sew (such as using a machine rather than hand stitching) this should almost always be possible. If no sewing, or very limited sewing is possible, then a family member or sangha friend can make part or whole of the rakusu or kesa for you. We do not wish someone who wishes to be part of the sangha and take the precepts to be prevented from doing so because of this.


    PAIN
    Here at Treeleaf, we sit zazen in the traditional Sōtō style, in full completeness with nothing lacking. However, while it is not the aim of practice, it has been noticed that levels of pain during and after sitting can feel reduced. This may be of benefit to sangha members who experience pain, especially chronic pain.

    Jundo talks about sitting with pain and alternative postures here.


    TIME AWAY FROM THE SANGHA
    Some people with illness and disability find it hard to sustain a consistent interaction with Treeleaf or need periods of time away when their health becomes bad. Firstly, many able-bodied members have life circumstances which mean that they also struggle to keep up with the sangha on a day-to-day basis and many also take time away for personal reasons, so you are not alone in this. Secondly, there is a thread on the forum for letting us know if you are going to be away for a while. Also, please let one of the unsui know or a sangha friend if you would like us to be in contact and support you while you are away. It is often the times that you need to be away from the sangha that you might need us most.


    SANGHA CONTACT POINT
    If you wish to discuss any issues around disability and/or physical illness and how you can be supported in your practice then please contact Kokuu. He has been practicing with chronic illness himself for 21 years. Also let him know if you wish to suggest modifications and improvements for this resource guide.

    It is also important to be very careful if you feel or suspect that you might have a present physical or mental condition that might interfere with Zazen or other activities in our Sangha. If you are not sure, then you should consult with a doctor or mental health professional and only participate with their approval, guidance and oversight. Although Zen Practice should be safe for most people if you do not do more than your body or condition allows you, if there could be any doubt, please check with your physician first before undertaking any activity.


    RESOURCES

    Articles
    Buddhism and Disability
    Handicapped Buddhism by Richard Louis Bruno

    Books
    How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide by Toni Bernhard
    Lotus in the Fire: the healing power of Zen by Jim Bedard
    Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
    Rogue Monk: A Memoir About Zen, Disability, and Work by Mugan Sozan Peter Schellin (provisional)
    This Is Getting Old. Zen Thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity by Susan Moon
    Turning Suffering Inside Out by Darlene Cohen

    Talks
    Dongshan is Unwell (Norman Fischer)
    Radical Acceptance and Practicing Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach)
    Suffering and Gratitude (Norman Fischer)
    Transforming Illness Through Love and Letting Go (Susan Bauer-Wu)

    Gassho, Jundo
    SatTodayLAH

    Thank you to Kokuu for drafting the above and shepherding this project.
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-30-2017 at 01:58 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    How nice of you to put all this together, Jundo. I'm sure it will be really helpful and a nice relief for our new members with some physical difficulties, not to mention some long time friends around here.

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    How nice of you to put all this together, Jundo. I'm sure it will be really helpful and a nice relief for our new members with some physical difficulties, not to mention some long time friends around here.

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    Kokuu is the person who built this and put it together, I just posted it for the Sangha.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Then many bows to Kokuu! Good job.

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  5. #5
    Member Koki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Parma Ohio (just outside Cleveland)
    This is very motivational..I'd love to began this path to Jukai and Shukke Tokudo.

    Would connecting with a mentor be a good way to guide me and point me along this road?

    I've been sitting nearly 47 years...

    Frank

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    San Diego County, California
    Kunzang,

    Here is what is usually brought up when someone wants to know where to start on taking Shukke Tokudo.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ng-at-Treeleaf

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  7. #7
    Member Koki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Parma Ohio (just outside Cleveland)
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    Kunzang,

    Here is what is usually brought up when someone wants to know where to start on taking Shukke Tokudo.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ng-at-Treeleaf

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    Thank you Geika

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Thanks so much for this posting! As someone with increasingly restrictive physical mobility I have found these suggestions on how to continue practice to be invaluable.

    Gassho, sat today, lah.

  9. #9
    I had suffer a cerebral stroke, i have hemiplegia in my body, im practice zen in mexico since 14 years ago with a group of sotozen lineage, but its very strictly, im sad because i can’t do it all activities like zazenkai or sesshins, my master dont accept my votes like a dharma integrant because my participation is limited, this notes that write master Jundo its very important note, because its inclusive...thanks for consider disability...i sat today, mokuho

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mokuhó View Post
    I had suffer a cerebral stroke, i have hemiplegia in my body, im practice zen in mexico since 14 years ago with a group of sotozen lineage, but its very strictly, im sad because i can’t do it all activities like zazenkai or sesshins, my master dont accept my votes like a dharma integrant because my participation is limited, this notes that write master Jundo its very important note, because its inclusive...thanks for consider disability...i sat today, mokuho
    No body is excluded for such things here. The universe excludes nobody too.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Mokuhó View Post
    I had suffer a cerebral stroke, i have hemiplegia in my body, im practice zen in mexico since 14 years ago with a group of sotozen lineage, but its very strictly, im sad because i can’t do it all activities like zazenkai or sesshins, my master dont accept my votes like a dharma integrant because my participation is limited, this notes that write master Jundo its very important note, because its inclusive...thanks for consider disability...i sat today, mokuho
    Your vote counts here Mokuho. Thank you for your practice and wish you well.

    Gassho Kyotai
    ST

    Sent from my SM-G950W using Tapatalk
    I am a student at Treeleaf. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. Gassho

  12. #12
    I had suffer a cerebral stroke, i have hemiplegia in my body, im practice zen in mexico since 14 years ago with a group of sotozen lineage, but its very strictly, im sad because i can’t do it all activities like zazenkai or sesshins, my master dont accept my votes like a dharma integrant because my participation is limited, this notes that write master Jundo its very important note, because its inclusive...thanks for consider disability...i sat today, mokuho
    You are very welcome here, Mokuhó, and your participation is whole and complete however much you are able or not able to do.

    Please let us know if there is anything more we can do to include you here. The above guidelines are designed to be modified as we learn more about the requirements of different medical conditions and disabilities.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  13. #13
    Grateful for everyone's practice.

    Gassho
    Byōkan
    sat + lah
    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

  14. #14
    I guess this is why I found this thread now - I will review Jundo's post and follow his suggestions ...... I don't know if this posted in a different forum also (if so, I apologize), but this is what I was about to post:

    "sitting with lupus"

    hello everyone,

    I can spare the details of how this came about, but this past week I was diagnosed with lupus SLE (systemic lupus erythematous) by my rheumatologist. It kind of hit me from left field, but in reality, the signs were probably there for a while, but had not yet appeared on the blood test (it did this week).

    If anyone has any suggestions or thoughts on sitting zazen (or reclining, or anything) with an illness such as lupus, I am open to it. I know similar topics have been discussed before, just not sure if it's the same or if there are specific suggestions.

    thank you in advance

    gassho
    kim
    st/lh

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by allwhowander View Post

    I can spare the details of how this came about, but this past week I was diagnosed with lupus SLE (systemic lupus erythematous) by my rheumatologist. It kind of hit me from left field, but in reality, the signs were probably there for a while, but had not yet appeared on the blood test (it did this week).
    I will just offer that we will all be Sitting for your health and peace with your condition, Kim.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by allwhowander View Post
    I guess this is why I found this thread now - I will review Jundo's post and follow his suggestions ...... I don't know if this posted in a different forum also (if so, I apologize), but this is what I was about to post:

    "sitting with lupus"

    hello everyone,

    I can spare the details of how this came about, but this past week I was diagnosed with lupus SLE (systemic lupus erythematous) by my rheumatologist. It kind of hit me from left field, but in reality, the signs were probably there for a while, but had not yet appeared on the blood test (it did this week).

    If anyone has any suggestions or thoughts on sitting zazen (or reclining, or anything) with an illness such as lupus, I am open to it. I know similar topics have been discussed before, just not sure if it's the same or if there are specific suggestions.

    thank you in advance

    gassho
    kim
    st/lh
    Sorry to hear this, sending Metta Kim. I hope it can be managed to minimize symptoms or put it into remission.

    I know in animals lupus can present in many ways and can attack many body systems, is it the same in humans? If so, I would imagine that your particular adjustments would depend on what effects the illness has on you on any given day. Sorry if that’s a no-sh*t-Sherlock statement I know there are lots of folks here with good advice about practicing with different illness manifestations such as weakness, all types of pain, and mobility and coordination issues.

    Wishing you peace,

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  17. #17
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Aug 2016
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    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    Kim I cannot offer advice but will offer metta.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  18. #18
    Metta to you Kim.


    Tairin
    Sat today
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  19. #19
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Sorry to hear this, Kim. I'm not sure that I have any suggestions about lying down zazen. I do all of my zazen lying down at the moment. I'd say find a position that is comfortable - it may take a bit of getting used to. In terms of pain, I just let it be there. I think there are various Buddhist resources about meditating with pain but I find zazen helps - it helps me let go of that second layer of suffering, all the aversion and thoughts around pain.

    I also find that sometimes my energy gets flat and I struggle with concentration whilst lying down so sometimes I add in some breath meditation too.

    Sending you lots of metta.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH

  20. #20
    Sitting for you Kim
    Metta and Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  21. #21

    Zen Practice with Physical Illness or Disability

    I think it is wonderful that we all try to be supportive of members with physical disabilities. That said, we do not do a good job of people with psychiatric difficulties.

    Of the top of my head, here are some for consideration:

    Perceptual distortions:

    Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Bipolar Type, Schizoaffective Depressive Type

    Mood Disorders:

    Bipolar type I with and without psychotic features, Bipolar type II, Major depression with and without psychotic features, Persistent Depressive Disorder

    Anxiety Disorders:

    Generalized Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder with and without agoraphobia, PTSD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    Developmental disorders:

    ADHD, Intellectual Development Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Personality disorders including Borderline, Obsessive and Narcissistic Personality Disorders

    Substance Use Disorders

    Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders and many others not mentioned that I can not remember right now.

    It's flat out discrimination when we tend to be supportive of all physical disabilities, depressive and most anxiety disabilities, but do not do such a good job with the others.

    My 2 cents.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH
    Last edited by Jishin; 02-13-2018 at 02:13 PM.

  22. #22
    Hello Jishin,

    when you say 'we' do you mean society in general or here at Tree Leaf?

    I think society in general is not very supportive of anything that constitutes 'other' or 'difference' right across the board.
    We have quite a culture of blame - even towards physical illnesses and disabilities. There is little help (at least here in the UK) for depressive illnesses
    and anxiety which is expected to miraculously get better with six sessions of CBT and perhaps a pharmaceutical pill. As for Mindfullness it is the new Utopia
    and sadly somewhat removed from much of what is taught here.

    Do you have any suggestions as to how we might do better here or out in the wider world?

    It is a subject close to my heart,

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    ST

  23. #23
    It's flat out discrimination when we tend to be supportive of all physical disabilities, depressive and most anxiety disabilities, but do not do such a good job with the others.
    Hi Jishin

    This has been raised among Jundo and the unsui and, while we want to be completely open and supportive to people with mental health conditions and those who are neuro atypical, it was felt that we lack the expertise to offer any suggestions around this. It was discussed in detail when these guidelines were being put together.

    The best we could do is state words to that effect and give information so that an individual could discuss their practice with those involved in their ongoing support and treatment.

    Basically, we do not ignore this group and wish to make them very welcome here. However, we are very aware of the limitations of our knowledge and prefer to err on the side of not interfering with conditions we know little about. If you wanted to talk about this further with Jundo or any of us, I am sure we would be open to it.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Jinyo View Post
    Hello Jishin,

    when you say 'we' do you mean society in general or here at Tree Leaf?

    I think society in general is not very supportive of anything that constitutes 'other' or 'difference' right across the board.
    We have quite a culture of blame - even towards physical illnesses and disabilities. There is little help (at least here in the UK) for depressive illnesses
    and anxiety which is expected to miraculously get better with six sessions of CBT and perhaps a pharmaceutical pill. As for Mindfullness it is the new Utopia
    and sadly somewhat removed from much of what is taught here.

    Do you have any suggestions as to how we might do better here or out in the wider world?

    It is a subject close to my heart,

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    ST
    Hi Jinyo,

    This is a very complex subject. The best I can do is to point it out.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Jishin

    This has been raised among Jundo and the unsui and, while we want to be completely open and supportive to people with mental health conditions and those who are neuro atypical, it was felt that we lack the expertise to offer any suggestions around this. It was discussed in detail when these guidelines were being put together.

    The best we could do is state words to that effect and give information so that an individual could discuss their practice with those involved in their ongoing support and treatment.

    Basically, we do not ignore this group and wish to make them very welcome here. However, we are very aware of the limitations of our knowledge and prefer to err on the side of not interfering with conditions we know little about. If you wanted to talk about this further with Jundo or any of us, I am sure we would be open to it.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Hi Kokku,

    Again, a very complex subject with lots of angles. It does good to call attention to the issue.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH

  26. #26
    Hi Jishin

    I will raise the subject again with Jundo and the other unsui. It may be we can make a post that makes it clear that people with mental health and neurological issues are very welcome at Treeleaf without offering specific advice.

    Recent posts make it clear that we already have members of this description who hopefully feel supported and considered here.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Jishin

    I will raise the subject again with Jundo and the other unsui. It may be we can make a post that makes it clear that people with mental health and neurological issues are very welcome at Treeleaf without offering specific advice.

    Recent posts make it clear that we already have members of this description who hopefully feel supported and considered here.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    My advice for all these conditions, including for other conditions involving physical illness or disability, has to be the same:

    Please seek treatment and counseling by a medical or mental health professional in your community with expertise in treating your condition. If the doctor recommends or approves of your participating here, and sitting Zazen, then you are more than welcome to do so. If the doctor recommends against it, then we request the person not to do so.

    That is all we can do, given that the patient and doctor are the ones who truly understand the person's condition.


    If a person is approved and able to sit with us, then it is fine that he/she adjust the way of sitting and participation according to his/her needs. (For example, we actually had a person participate who had a condition involving sudden movements and 'Tourettes' like sudden vocalizations. Our Sangha was the first that the person felt comfortable in sitting with "live" because they could simply turn off the microphone and sit a bit away from the camera. Another person needs to get up from time to time and walk a bit, again, no problem for our group). To the degree we can, each person is accepted for who they/we are. I feel this is one of the wonderful qualities that Treeleaf has, it is like a refuge, a safe place to come and put down the labels and categories, and just be who you need to be as much as we can figure out a way.

    I wish that we could do more to alleviate peoples' illness, but that is all that is possible for us.

    If approved by their medical or mental health professional, people with mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, alcohol recovery and so forth, and neurological conditions, are welcome at Treeleaf.

    In such case, we are happy to advise on how to practice and offer information about meditation and Zen practice for you to give to your medical professionals. However, while we can offer some support with normal day-to-day issues just as we do with all of our membership here, we do not have any specific training in dealing with psychological and neurological conditions and do not wish to interfere with any support or treatment you are receiving elsewhere.

    Whereas mindfulness and other forms of meditation have in some cases been demonstrated to help mild to moderate depression and anxiety amongst other conditions, this is not universally so. It is for you to discuss with your medical professionals whether they think this is suitable for you.

    I always say this on Zazen often going hand-in-hand with other treatment:

    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher), cure cancer (although it may have some healthful effects and make one more attune to the process of chemotherapy and/or dying), etc. Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do is let one "be at one, and whole" ... TRULY ONE ... with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each, WHOLLY WHOLE with/as each one. There are many psychological problems or psycho/medical problems such as alcoholism that may require other therapies, although Zen can be part of a 12-Step program or such (a few Zen teachers in America with a drinking problem had to seek outside help). My feeling is that some things are probably best handled by medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment, not Zen teachers.

    My feeling is that receiving outside treatment, medication AND "just sitting" can all work together.
    Zazen should be easy and harmless for most people, but everyone is different. Some people may have conditions which make them particularly sensitive. Follow the expert's guidance and advice and do not engage in Zazen if they do not recommend your doing so.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-14-2018 at 02:40 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    My advice for all these conditions, including for other conditions involving physical illness or disability, has to be the same:

    Please seek treatment and counseling by a medical or mental health professional in your community with expertise in treating your condition. If the doctor recommends or approves of your participating here, and sitting Zazen, then you are more than welcome to do so. If the doctor recommends against it, then we request the person not to do so.

    That is all we can do, given that the patient and doctor are the ones who truly understand the person's condition.


    If a person is approved and able to sit with us, then it is fine that he/she adjust the way of sitting and participation according to his/her needs. (For example, we actually had a person participate who had a condition involving sudden movements and 'Tourettes' like sudden vocalizations. Our Sangha was the first that the person felt comfortable in sitting with "live" because they could simply turn off the microphone and sit a bit away from the camera. Another person needs to get up from time to time and walk a bit, again, no problem for our group). To the degree we can, each person is accepted for who they/we are. I feel this is one of the wonderful qualities that Treeleaf has, it is like a refuge, a safe place to come and put down the labels and categories, and just be who you need to be as much as we can figure out a way.

    I wish that we could do more to alleviate peoples' illness, but that is all that is possible for us.

    If approved by their medical or mental health professional, people with mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, alcohol recovery and so forth, and neurological conditions, are welcome at Treeleaf.

    In such case, we are happy to advise on how to practice and offer information about meditation and Zen practice for you to give to your medical professionals. However, while we can offer some support with normal day-to-day issues just as we do with all of our membership here, we do not have any specific training in dealing with psychological and neurological conditions and do not wish to interfere with any support or treatment you are receiving elsewhere.

    Whereas mindfulness and other forms of meditation have in some cases been demonstrated to help mild to moderate depression and anxiety amongst other conditions, this is not universally so. It is for you to discuss with your medical professionals whether they think this is suitable for you.

    I always say this on Zazen often going hand-in-hand with other treatment:



    Zazen should be easy and harmless for most people, but everyone is different. Some people may have conditions which make them particularly sensitive. Follow the expert's guidance and advice and do not engage in Zazen if they do not recommend your doing so.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    A wise statement Jundo - and thank you Kokuu - totally agree.

    Things get very messy when any of us go beyond our abilities and I can only think that Treeleaf is very inclusive and welcoming to all.

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    ST

  29. #29
    Hi,

    I think Treeleaf is very inclusive but we as a group take liberties and doll out advice for people with certain conditions but not others. I think Jundo’s policy and restatement of it here is nice.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_ , LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  30. #30
    I think Treeleaf is very inclusive but we as a group take liberties and doll out advice for people with certain conditions but not others.
    The fact is that advice for someone who can't bow or sit cross-legged due to physical disability is pretty functional and easy. You can't do this - try this.

    Psychological and neurological conditions are less easy to do that with.

    Sorry if that feels exclusive. It is not the intention. We do our very best to support everyone here.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    The fact is that advice for someone who can't bow or sit cross-legged due to physical disability is pretty functional and easy. You can't do this - try this.

    Psychological and neurological conditions are less easy to do that with.

    Sorry if that feels exclusive. It is not the intention. We do our very best to support everyone here.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    I know. It's hard to make a distinction at times though.

    Gasho, Jishin, ST, LAH

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    I know. It's hard to make a distinction at times though.

    Gasho, Jishin, ST, LAH
    Thank you, Jishin, for your input on this. I also thank a couple of our other mental health professionals who have PM'd me with some input.

    Basically, our policy has to be that we keep the doors open here, and show people how to sit Shikantaza. However, if anyone has a condition ... physical and mental ... follow their doctor's advice first and foremost. If the doctor says that a practice is okay, then try it. If the doctor says that a practice is not okay, then don't do it.

    It is a bit like having a public pool and people coming to swim, some of them having medical conditions. We don't close the pool, but ask everyone to be cautious. We can't know exactly everyone's health state hidden inside, and we are not medical professionals, so ask them to check with their doctor before swimming (and to know themselves, and only do what they feel is beneficial). Shikantaza is a gentle way of meditation (unlike some very intense forms that people sometimes engage in) which should not be harmful in any way to the vast majority of people, but their are always people with particular conditions that make them sensitive. Follow your doctor's advice.

    People here offer advice to be helpful, just like any neighbor or someone you meet in the check-out line at the grocery. I offer general advice suitable for most people, but I cannot know everyone's unique syndrome and situation. Thus, listen to your doctor first before you listen to me or anyone around here. After that, you can start to listen to me.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    People here offer advice to be helpful, just like any neighbor or someone you meet in the check-out line at the grocery. I offer general advice suitable for most people, but I cannot know everyone's unique syndrome and situation. Thus, listen to your doctor first before you listen to me or anyone around here. After that, you can start to listen to me.
    Sounds good. Thanks Jundo.

    Gassho
    meishin
    Sat Today LAH

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Meishin View Post
    Sounds good. Thanks Jundo.

    Gassho
    meishin
    Sat Today LAH


    Jinyo

    ST

  35. #35
    I had surgery on my knee, a total knee. I am already disabled from rheumatoid arthritis of the spine. So sometimes I just sit on a strait back chair and rhythmically breath. Lately I fall asleep. It not because of posture or want of intent. So for a while I will lie on my back and hope that I stay awake.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    "We cannot enjoy life if we spend a lot of time worrying about what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow." Thich Nhat Hanh

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    I had surgery on my knee, a total knee. I am already disabled from rheumatoid arthritis of the spine. So sometimes I just sit on a strait back chair and rhythmically breath. Lately I fall asleep. It not because of posture or want of intent. So for a while I will lie on my back and hope that I stay awake.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Hi Taishi,

    I hope that you are up and around very soon. In the meantime, a little more "sitting" than you wish.

    I am glad that the surgery seems to have gone well.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    I had surgery on my knee, a total knee. I am already disabled from rheumatoid arthritis of the spine. So sometimes I just sit on a strait back chair and rhythmically breath. Lately I fall asleep. It not because of posture or want of intent. So for a while I will lie on my back and hope that I stay awake.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I hope the recovery goes well Tai Shi.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH

  38. #38
    Member Anna's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Rural Queensland, Australia
    My comment here is nothing more than 'ping' so that people read it regularly. Thanks to Kokuu for compiling this policy of sorts and thank you Jundo again for providing this space. Without it and without it being as accepting and flexible as it is I would not be able to be a member of a Sangha. Thanks too to Jishin for reminding us that so many disabilities are not just invisible but are all too often regarded as being too difficult for even the most 'inclusive' space to accommodate. We can all do better every day by actively seeking out information about disabilities and differences that we don't fully understand. You'd be surprised at just how often you encounter people IRL who have to manage/battle various challenges when you are a wee bit more informed. You'll also be surprised at how your IRL and online interactions with these folk changes.
    Almost every single person I interact with IRL are the so-called misfits of society and even though there are times when I'm too much for them or they're too much for me I love them as the perfectly imperfect misfits that they are.
    Be kind to yourselves and look out for each other.

    Gassho
    Anna

    Sat today/Lent a hand
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.

  39. #39
    Anna, thank you for bumping this thread again.



    Gassho
    Kim
    St Lh
    Last edited by allwhowander; 07-01-2019 at 11:25 PM.

  40. #40
    Yes, excellent bump, thanks Anna!

    Gassho
    Byokan
    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

  41. #41
    Good read very insightful since I have several things wrong with my back and neck. None of which are currently being treated. I cant zafu sit. I was always hoping to adjust because I like my zafu and now it just sits in the closet. When I sit ( which comes and goes for reasons I wont get into) I chair sit. I do the "proper" chair sit with back straight for as long as I can but usually around 10 min I have to use the back of the chair like one would normally sit. So, it's always encouraging to see posts like this and helps me accept that I will never be able to sit traditionally even though I really want to.

    _/\_ Dave

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Shonin View Post
    Good read very insightful since I have several things wrong with my back and neck. None of which are currently being treated. I cant zafu sit. I was always hoping to adjust because I like my zafu and now it just sits in the closet. When I sit ( which comes and goes for reasons I wont get into) I chair sit. I do the "proper" chair sit with back straight for as long as I can but usually around 10 min I have to use the back of the chair like one would normally sit. So, it's always encouraging to see posts like this and helps me accept that I will never be able to sit traditionally even though I really want to.

    _/\_ Dave
    Shonin! One of our original Treeleaf folks, 10 years on now!

    Gassho, Jundo

    SattodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  43. #43
    Always a pleasure, Jundo. Great to see you again.I follow a lot of your posts on Facebook. Im just a quiet member.
    _/\_ ST/LAH

  44. #44
    Hi men, and women members. Right now as I sit before computer screen, my neck and shoulders are surrounded with frozen gel pack. I buy, not to endorse, on Amazon. No drug can begin to touch my pain right now, but the gel pack, collar, helps, and sometimes I can sit for 20 min, or even 30 min, I've been sitting for some time daily or so as I have the time. A little less than 20 yrs ago my conditions made it possible to go on Social Security Disability Insurance and when I applied, I had it in the unheard time of 60 days. This is the minimum. Because I have both bipolar type one, and Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rear form of arthritis of the spine, my eyes, lungs, and even heart affected. So, this was not so lucky, because it brought with it two artificial knees. I worked along with S.S.D.I. and almost lost the less than $10,000 a year I was expected to live on, and Jundo knows, I am married to a more than wonderful wife who has made it possible to drive a new car, pay for a home, and send a brilliant daughter to a "best" college. All considered I would have rather worked full-time-- never in my wildest dreams possible. I sit in a straight back chair with left shoulder propped against basement wall. My alter stretches out before my chair with Buddhist meditation cushion, Amazon again. AA's meetings take out of our home, and the occasional movie. But, most days find me typing with one finger and thumb. And, left index finger to shift. I am lucky again, because my wife's job and on int retirement has meant the best medical care. Hence, I am 67. I was not expected to live much beyond 60. I am now a committed Buddhist. Stuff happens.

    Tai Shi
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    "We cannot enjoy life if we spend a lot of time worrying about what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow." Thich Nhat Hanh

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