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Thread: Best times to sit zazen

  1. #1

    Best times to sit zazen

    When do you all prefer to sit? I make a point of sitting early morning (between 5 and 6 am) to start the day before my little one wakes up, but I always find my second sit (early afternoon) to be much more successful.

    Iím curious how others experience this, and if thereís considered a Ďbestí time for those of us who have limited opportunities.

    Gassho,
    Jonathan
    St



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  2. #2
    Now.




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    Ask not what the Sangha can do for you, but what you can do for your Sangha.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Chishou View Post
    Now.




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    Good answer!

    Gassho


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  4. #4

  5. #5
    My work schedule fluctuates, so for me it partially comes down to the best practical time (ie I can often do a full half hour sit in the mornings, which I prefer -- evenings can be tough due to household stuff).

    However, beyond this, I do feel like it is a little different for me in the morning versus at the end of my day. I understand that there is no "bad" zazen, but evenings can be more challenging because I have a harder time coming back to the mirror mind concept/state. Work can be stressful, I'm applying for grad school, trying to sell our home... all of these things will bubble up more in the evenings for me. That said, perhaps this means it is the perfect time!

    So, yeah -- I agree with Jishin and Chishou

  6. #6
    I'm still trying to find a fixed time for my sittigns. I loved to sit early in the morning, but since I started to work at night, I ended up getting up not so early any more. But any time we sit is the best time for zazen, I think.
    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today

  7. #7
    l would say that any time is the right time (and right timeless too).

    Better if one is not falling asleep if one can avoid that, but otherwise any place is the right place too (and right placeless).

    Besides a time for sitting each day, also do not forget our little Anywhere, Anytime INSTA-ZAZEN!© many times and places for a moment in life too ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...nners-%2813%29

    There are many times to sit Zazen, and everyone's life and life rhythms will always be a little different. Just remember that, when sitting, we forget all about "right time and place" and just sit timelessly where we are, no before or after, better or worse, nor any other place in the world.

    Gassho, J

    STlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    I try to always start the day with sitting with a Sangha. Sometimes I have a midday sit or one in the evening.
    Morning zazen works well for me as my mind is more at peace though I find each sitting as whole and complete.
    Also, as Jundo pointed here, I often go for Insta-zazen when in the hustle and bustle of daily life. I like it.

    Gassho
    Washin
    st/lah
    Kaido (有道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    ----
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything what I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  9. #9
    I would say best time for sitting is attachment to both sitting and best. Sitting is sitting which transcends best and sitting. So just sit and thatís all. I think Jundo made this point above but some have not heard it.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  10. #10
    I vote for early morning. Although sometimes I'll wait til mid-morning. And then early evening after everything around the house calms down for the day.

    Gassho
    STlah
    James

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    I would say best time for sitting is attachment to both sitting and best. Sitting is sitting which transcends best and sitting. So just sit and that’s all. I think Jundo made this point above but some have not heard it.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12

    Question

    I'd be interested in your thoughts on what's a healthy daily sitting/study mix? Is there an existing thread? I've been majoring on sitting so far and find attending daily SSR and FSR slots really great for establishing a routine...now there's more SSR slots, if I miss the bus I just catch the next one!

    Gassho, Chris -sat/lah
    Last edited by ChrisKiwi; 03-05-2020 at 10:01 PM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisKiwi View Post
    I'd be interested in your thoughts on what's a healthy daily sitting/study mix? Is there an existing thread? I've been majoring on sitting so far and find attending daily SSR and FSR slots really great for establishing a routine...now there's more SSR slots, if I miss the bus I just catch the next one!

    Gassho, Chris -sat/lah
    I don't think that there is a right "mix," but I would say that neither should be neglected.

    Sit daily. In my book, the time length of sitting is not anywhere near as important as forgetting about measures of time, before or after, during sitting. When sitting, there is no long or short, before or after. Thus, sometimes we sit long and sometimes we sit short. Sometimes we "sit" in a slow moving postal line or lying on a doctors' examination table too. Do what feels right in your life, but do not neglect sitting either.

    In our "way beyond words and letters," most of the old monks read the books before burning them (then reconstituted the ashes and read them again). Zen Practice without some homework and understanding can be too directionless and misunderstood. The key is not to get caught in words and philosophizing, and to bring this practice to life. So, I would say always be reading at least one Zen book if you can, even if slowly and with other things to read or do.

    We have a few threads on "How to Read Zen Books," by the way, because they come in many flavors. It can sometimes be confusing to newer folks why different writers and books on "Zen/Buddhism" seem to be coming at things different ways:

    Special reading - once born twice born zen (parts not 1 not 2):

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...8part-not-1%29

    and

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...8part-not-2%29

    Also: eight types of enlightenment
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...-enlightenment

    That should keep you busy reading for awhile!

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Thank you Jundo, this is really helpful.

    Quality of sitting/study seems key: "...time length of sitting is not anywhere near as important as forgetting about measures of time" and "The key is not to get caught in words and philosophizing, and to bring this practice to life."
    It's easy to fall in these traps, particularly newbies like me!

    Gassho, Chris satlah

  15. #15
    With 3 kids and a busy life.

    “Formally” once a day whenever I can fit it in

    ”unofficially” when I am elbows deep in diapers, at the doctors, in the kitchen, at work, the dojo and the bathroom, everywhere else too

    Gassho Kyotai
    ST unofficially
    I am a student at Treeleaf. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. Gassho

  16. #16
    Hi Jonathan

    While it is true that any time is a good time to sit, and most of us have a restricted number of times available due to other responsibilities around work and family, I have personally found that trying to jam a sit in too early or too late is just an exercise in fighting sleep.

    This is not without merit in terms of sitting with what is, however, I find that later morning and early evening work best for me in terms of being awake.

    Some people have sufficient privacy at work to sit at lunchtime without being disturbed. Not a bad pre-lunch ritual to get in the habit of!

    Setting a time and sticking with it also works for me.

    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.

  17. #17
    My toddler seems to have a sixth sense for my feet hitting the floor when I get out of bed, no matter how early I try. So that largely rules out mornings.

    What works best for me is to spend my lunch break doing a 50/50 mix of either walking or studying, and sitting. I try to make time for a full hour wherever I can, but even half an hour is refreshing.

    On the days when I can only manage a short daytime sit I usually also try for a longer sit after the tiny human is in bed. Presuming he falls asleep before I do!

    Gassho.
    Jen
    SatToday

  18. #18
    To me there is no best time because time is just time, but I usually sit early in the evening. I've never been a big fan of sitting early in the morning or late at night.

    Gassho,
    Seibu
    Sattoday

  19. #19
    Lately I have put a reminder in my to-do every day to sit wherever I am as long as I can. It is in a place where I see the reminder often. Sometimes long, sometimes short, just sitting where and when I notice. My work days are so long that attempting to set a daily time and place is impossible. If I don't follow my reminders, I grow very complacent at the end of the day and skip everything!

    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.

  20. #20
    It's 3:15 a.m. and I slept yesterday until 11:15 a.m USA Central Time, and completely missed my planned sit at 8:30. When I finish writing, I will retire (I am up for the day.) to my altar and sit now before breakfast at 5 a.m. My cat thinks she deserves her morning treat, and when I exit this study, I sit for 20 to 30 minutes. I won't answer my cat just jet. I'm listening to John Lennon singing Imagine "people living life in peace... I'm not the only one... a brotherhood (sisterhood) of man (humankind)... and we'll live as one." As a man also celebrating Agape, I believe this, and there is no other way...
    Tai Shi
    will sit in five minutes/ lah
    Gassho
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 03-24-2020 at 08:57 AM. Reason: spelling
    The object of practice is not transcendence but transformation, yet ultimately we must transcend ourselves. (Elucidation of Dogen) in HOW TO RAISE AN OX

  21. #21
    I sit as the last step before going to bed, after brushing teeth and other end-of-day cleaning. The fact that the sitting is preceded by several routine events made it easy to turn into a habit.

    I've had lifelong problems with insomnia, so it's easy to convince myself that if I can go to sleep (which will take at least an hour anyways), I can sit. I can see how this might be difficult to do all the time if you are actually tired when it's time to go to bed and you end up falling asleep on the cushion.

    As for study (mentioned by Chris), when I used to commute to work I would read or listen to podcasts during the commute. I have to admit I haven't really been studying much since working from home (that started long before the current crisis). I prefer going without study once in awhile and just sitting anyways; I think it helps me readjust the way I look at everyday things a bit so I'm not always thinking "what's the Zen Buddhist way to look at this situation?" and instead just encounter them as directly as possible and pay attention to my actions on their own terms.

    Gassho,
    Kenny
    Sat Today
    Last edited by Kenny; 03-24-2020 at 06:01 PM.

  22. #22
    I sit twice daily for 40 min each. I notice my evening sits have more presence; mornings are usually more wandering. I think general suggestion in zen (or atleast as per nishijima roshi) is to sit first thing after you wake up and right before bedtime. I am afraid I'll not get sleep if I do it before bedtime so I do my second sit around 6 pm or so before dinner. Also it is important to not do sits right after eating.

    Also as others said, we don't worry about what is best time or how to get best out of zazen. Sitting with no expectations is vital

    Gassho,
    Sam
    STLah

  23. #23
    My first answer: "In the present moment."

    Followed by, "In a perfect world, I like to sit when I wake up and before I go to sleep. But, life happens, and I try to sit at least once, even if it's only 5-10 minutes."

  24. #24
    Quick aside...my young 'Leafers sit "zazen" up the Feijoa tree...anytime is good for them!

    treeleafers-min.jpg

    Gassho, Chris stlah

  25. #25
    Yesterday afternoon--it was after 2:30, and I don't know when I started. I try to remember three things; these are, of course just ideas, or is it four? The counting, then I back up and say the Serenity Prayer, we are serene these days; it pays to have the same doctor all these years-- he knows my health conditions. I am only at risk because I smoked too long... the excuse, I have given up alcohol all those years ago. My father tells me he had neither smoke nor alcohol, and for many years, I was overweight. I have dropped 72 lbs since 2009-- I dropped 60 right away, and lately, I've lost another 12, so I am at 198, small for me, and my wife must weigh over 250 lbs. So, I quit smoking in 2001. 19 years ago. I still did lung damage, mild emphysema. This bronchitis once makes COPD-- I will exercise today. To sit the other two things I remember are the road unfolding either side, so my mantra Serenity Prayer, breath counting listen to my breath, then sit with nothing,
    I try to let go, so Sometimes I quit trying, and Q she said all were covered by God's grace, next I know my daughter does not have Coronavirus. I did not think so. She blames me for her asthma. Maybe up until she was old enough to know she had it, I was not at fault. Her knowledge, I cannot change this, and sitting for me is sometimes difficult. Always a choar.
    sat
    Tai Shi
    Gassho
    The object of practice is not transcendence but transformation, yet ultimately we must transcend ourselves. (Elucidation of Dogen) in HOW TO RAISE AN OX

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