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Thread: Taking Zazen Into Everyday Life

  1. #1

    Taking Zazen Into Everyday Life

    I've been wanting to move my Zen practice into everyday life, but am having trouble implementing it into my "daily doings". I'm wondering if anyone has any exercises or advice? Especially looking for advice on having a Zen mindset with ADHD, and what some of you do to practice with this, as I'm sure some of you do. Namasté

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by GrasshopperMan17 View Post
    I've been wanting to move my Zen practice into everyday life, but am having trouble implementing it into my "daily doings". I'm wondering if anyone has any exercises or advice? Especially looking for advice on having a Zen mindset with ADHD, and what some of you do to practice with this, as I'm sure some of you do. Namasté

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH
    Well, I am sure that many good folks will have other tips. What I do a couple of dozen times a day is incorporate a moment or half a moment of "Insta-Zazen" in everything that goes wrong (and sometimes what goes right) in daily life ...

    ... No parking spaces at the grocery? Insta-Zazen

    ... Tooth giving me some trouble? Insta-Zazen

    ... Daughter won't do her homework? Insta-Zazen

    Like that.

    - Zazen for Beginners (13) - Anywhere, Anytime INSTA-ZAZEN!©
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...nners-%2813%29


    (The © mark is just a joke, by the way. You can steal it!)

    Also Metta for difficult people, and so much more.

    I look forward to hearing tips from the other folks here.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Thank you for that, Jundo i look forward to hearing others' advice as well

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by GrasshopperMan17 View Post
    I've been wanting to move my Zen practice into everyday life, but am having trouble implementing it into my "daily doings". I'm wondering if anyone has any exercises or advice? Especially looking for advice on having a Zen mindset with ADHD, and what some of you do to practice with this, as I'm sure some of you do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    What I do a couple of dozen times a day is incorporate a moment or half a moment of "Insta-Zazen" in everything that goes wrong (and sometimes what goes right) in daily life ...
    What Jundo says is good advice. I watched a documentary about Thich Nhat Hanh on Netflix and at his monasteries there is a chime that goes of every fifteen minutes, reminding everyone to stop and be still.

    Now, my advice is not necessarily to do that, but I like the intent: to come back, again and again. This is what we do in zazen. As soon as we realize the mind or body has wandered, we bring it back. If we can bring this off the cushion, we bring practice to daily tasks. It is important not to lament that the mind wanders in the first place, but instead to simply acknowledge that this is what the mind does, and bring it gently back to here and now, without hesitation.

    Gassho
    Sat, 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
    Quote Originally Posted by GrasshopperMan17 View Post
    I've been wanting to move my Zen practice into everyday life, but am having trouble implementing it into my "daily doings". I'm wondering if anyone has any exercises or advice? Especially looking for advice on having a Zen mindset with ADHD, and what some of you do to practice with this, as I'm sure some of you do. Namasté

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH
    I, for example, will throughout the day perform mental body checks and try to become aware of my posture, breathing, sensations, environment etc.. When I’m walking somewhere I tend to place my tongue behind the front teeth, just like in zazen and walk purposefully and aware of myself. Sort of like a normal paced kinhin. I tend to do quite a bit of bowing (or should I say gasshoing) so as to express immediate gratitude or sometimes even awareness. I will gassho at nice sights, before walking out of the house, before eating (I also chant the meal gatha before every meal). It’s mainly things like these, other than of course always keeping in mind the precepts!


    Sorry for running super long!

    SatToday
    Bion
    美音

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  6. #6
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    There's already much good advice above, but one thing I'd like to add is that keeping a regular zazen practice will slowly (over time) make it easier to keep coming back to the present, to the unfolding of the Universe before our eyes (and other senses). In fact, the more we maintain a formal zazen practice, the more this returning simply happens by itself, with less and less effort on our part. Practice and patience walk hand-in-hand here.

    Gassho,
    Seikan

    -stlah-


    Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk
    聖簡 Seikan (Sacred Simplicity)

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Seikan View Post
    There's already much good advice above, but one thing I'd like to add is that keeping a regular zazen practice will slowly (over time) make it easier to keep coming back to the present, to the unfolding of the Universe before our eyes (and other senses). In fact, the more we maintain a formal zazen practice, the more this returning simply happens by itself, with less and less effort on our part. Practice and patience walk hand-in-hand here.

    Gassho,
    Seikan

    -stlah-


    Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk
    Well said - and great advice from everyone

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  8. #8

  9. #9
    Thank you for that Matt! I was looking for that thread before i posted this, to no avail. Very useful stuff! I still look forward to hearing other perspectives as well. Sorry for going over the 3 sentences

    Gassho, John
    Sat/LAH
    Last edited by GrasshopperMan17; 02-06-2021 at 04:43 PM.

  10. #10
    I have been a follower of Jundo’s Insta-Zazen during my day for years. Not good on incorporating rituals but strive to put the Precepts into practice to try to be a good person as I move about in my day. I am imperfect but as Jundo also has said when you fall down get back up.

    Doshin
    St

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Doshin View Post
    I have been a follower of Jundo’s Insta-Zazen during my day for years. Not good on incorporating rituals but strive to put the Precepts into practice to try to be a good person as I move about in my day. I am imperfect but as Jundo also has said when you fall down get back up.

    Doshin
    St
    Hey Doshin - good seeing you around

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  12. #12
    I'm really glad this topic came up; I can always use a reminder; I especially like the point that Jundo makes about being mindful of the 'mind theatre'. This pop culture mindfulness nonsense, apologies for me being so blunt, is a much more superficial approach; to me it comes across as another form of grasping to keep this constant state of mind which is completely different from the more subtle observing (may be too much of a strong word) or just sitting of Shikantaza

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    This pop culture mindfulness nonsense, apologies for me being so blunt, is a much more superficial approach;
    I think there are a few things going on, which are worth distinguishing. There is the mindfulness hype, "yay, it solves everything!" which overlooks the Buddhist context within which mindfulness was presented.

    But there is also consciously taking one Buddhist practice, mindfulness, and seeing if it could in itself be an intervention for certain issues. Jon-Kabat Zinn has a pretty good empirical base in using mindfulness for stress relief. In that case, Zinn, a long-time Buddhist practitioner, consciously used a Buddhist technique to address a psychological issue. With no pretence that it is in any way a complete teaching or representative of Buddhism as a whole.

    Then there is a third stream, that represents how Buddhism has changed over time as it reaches new historical periods and new cultures. A practice that greatly emphasized Sati over Samadhi arose in many Theravada countries in the 19th century (I've seen some nice papers linking it a response to colonialism, though I lack the expertise to comment on that). Westerners, like Joseph Goldstein, who studied Buddhism were highly influenced by this, and so brought it back to the States. And Mahasi Sayadaw, who taught a noting practice, was very influential in how this strain developed.

    So I would say there are 3 mindfulness strains in the West: the new, developing Western Insight tradition started by teachers like Goldstein, Salzburg, and others. The research-based psychological interventions started by Zinn. And the nonsense, McMindfulness stream you identified.

    Sorry for going over.

    Gassho,
    Jim
    stlah
    Last edited by JimInBC; 02-06-2021 at 07:13 PM.

  14. #14
    thank you that's very interesting.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Hey Doshin - good seeing you around

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah
    Thank you Risho. I am around just don’t have much to say (I know there are those in my past career that wished I reached that point sooner )


    Doshin
    St

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Doshin View Post
    I am around just don’t have much to say
    I understand that. There was a few days that i was just observing the goings-on of the zendo, but not commenting or talking much, and i suspect that there will be more periods of time like that as well. That's okay, for you and for me

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by JimInBC View Post
    I think there are a few things going on, which are worth distinguishing. There is the mindfulness hype, "yay, it solves everything!" which overlooks the Buddhist context within which mindfulness was presented.

    But there is also consciously taking one Buddhist practice, mindfulness, and seeing if it could in itself be an intervention for certain issues. Jon-Kabat Zinn has a pretty good empirical base in using mindfulness for stress relief. In that case, Zinn, a long-time Buddhist practitioner, consciously used a Buddhist technique to address a psychological issue. With no pretence that it is in any way a complete teaching or representative of Buddhism as a whole.

    Then there is a third stream, that represents how Buddhism has changed over time as it reaches new historical periods and new cultures. A practice that greatly emphasized Sati over Samadhi arose in many Theravada countries in the 19th century (I've seen some nice papers linking it a response to colonialism, though I lack the expertise to comment on that). Westerners, like Joseph Goldstein, who studied Buddhism were highly influenced by this, and so brought it back to the States. And Mahasi Sayadaw, who taught a noting practice, was very influential in how this strain developed.

    So I would say there are 3 mindfulness strains in the West: the new, developing Western Insight tradition started by teachers like Goldstein, Salzburg, and others. The research-based psychological interventions started by Zinn. And the nonsense, McMindfulness stream you identified.

    Sorry for going over.

    Gassho,
    Jim
    stlah
    Thank you for that perspective, Jim, i appreciate the historical perspective. I dont subscribe to the McMindfulness approach, but i understand where its coming from; mindfulness is very helpful from a psychological standpoint. I'm trying to put mindfulness in a Buddhist perspective, and this helps a little

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH

  18. #18
    tried the Insta-Zazen thing today on my break at work. Got a few humorous jabs and comments on it (which i didn't mind), but it seemed helpful and like a good thing to do. Thank you Jundo

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by GrasshopperMan17 View Post
    tried the Insta-Zazen thing today on my break at work. Got a few humorous jabs and comments on it (which i didn't mind), but it seemed helpful and like a good thing to do. Thank you Jundo

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH
    Oh, it need not be visible! No need to crawl on your desk in the Lotus Posture!

    In fact, no need to show any signs of it on the outside whatsoever. For example, standing on a bus in "Zazen" (left) and regular standing in a bus (right) ...



    See if you can spot which of the three men is engaged in Zazen during this meeting ...



    ANSWER: ALL OF THEM!

    Like that. No need for your co-workers to notice.

    Gassho, J

    STLah

    PS - I just noticed that, in the bottom picture, two of the men happen to have their hands in the Zazen mudra! However, I assure you that that was total coincidence. Mudra optional!
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by GrasshopperMan17 View Post
    I've been wanting to move my Zen practice into everyday life, but am having trouble implementing it into my "daily doings". I'm wondering if anyone has any exercises or advice? Especially looking for advice on having a Zen mindset with ADHD, and what some of you do to practice with this, as I'm sure some of you do. Namasté

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH
    I have a lot of trouble with this as well. The best I've found is to keep trying. I work on pausing before I talk, to give my brain time to catch up to my mouth. I've heard of a master saying, "you can make things a little better." If you just focus on doing one thing a little better each day, the process may be easier.

    Keep moving forward, buddy.

    Sat today,
    Adam

    Sent from my SM-T380 using Tapatalk

  21. #21
    In my experience. the Zazen we sit on the cushion penetrates our lives on its own. For ex, I notice that I am less reactive during the day. I suggest that you plan Insta Zazen breaks everyday by putting a few alarms on your phone
    Otherwise, like Jundo said, there are opportunities everywhere for Insta Zazen.

    Gassho,
    Sat today,
    Lah,
    Geerish.

    Sent from my PAR-LX1M using Tapatalk

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by GrasshopperMan17 View Post
    I understand that. There was a few days that i was just observing the goings-on of the zendo, but not commenting or talking much, and i suspect that there will be more periods of time like that as well. That's okay, for you and for me

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH


    Doshin
    St

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by JimInBC View Post

    But there is also consciously taking one Buddhist practice, mindfulness, and seeing if it could in itself be an intervention for certain issues. Jon-Kabat Zinn has a pretty good empirical base in using mindfulness for stress relief. In that case, Zinn, a long-time Buddhist practitioner, consciously used a Buddhist technique to address a psychological issue. With no pretence that it is in any way a complete teaching or representative of Buddhism as a whole.

    Gassho,
    Jim
    stlah
    I definitely noticed some cross over with stuff I've seen in Buddhism when I read his book "Full Catastrophe Living", he very much emphasized non-doing and applying it to stress relief and such. Very good book (bit of a slog to get through though).

    As for the original post, I find the more I practice/read more up on stuff, the more I find myself actively catching myself. On the flip side, I have not been practicing as much recently due to some of the craziness of the move and I have to wonder if that's been impacting my day to day...


    Evan,
    Sat today, lah
    Just going through life one day at a time!

  24. #24
    Jon Kabat-Zinn! I have been trying to remember that name forever.

    I really love what Geika pointed out- that we “must not lament the way our minds drift.” I do that much too often.

    Thank you for this thread. It has been really helpful.

    Gassho
    Krissy
    sat


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Thank you for teaching me.

    I am very much a beginner and appreciate any words you may give me.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by krissydear View Post
    Jon Kabat-Zinn! I have been trying to remember that name forever.

    I really love what Geika pointed out- that we “must not lament the way our minds drift.” I do that much too often.

    Thank you for this thread. It has been really helpful.

    Gassho
    Krissy
    sat


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I have trained in MBSR and Zinn's work has influenced this practice so much. Basically, you can view your thoughts for what they are, just thoughts. In this way, this detached approach allows people to deal with Anxiety, pain and chronic illnesses better.

    Gassho,
    Sat today
    Geerish.

    Sent from my PAR-LX1M using Tapatalk

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Guish View Post
    I have trained in MBSR and Zinn's work has influenced this practice so much. Basically, you can view your thoughts for what they are, just thoughts. In this way, this detached approach allows people to deal with Anxiety, pain and chronic illnesses better.

    Gassho,
    Sat today
    Geerish.
    Yet these mindfulness approaches leave so much out, Baby Buddha with the bathwater, whereby so much that might be truly helpful to the basic existential suffering of human beings is forgotten.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Yet these mindfulness approaches leave so much out, Baby Buddha with the bathwater, whereby so much that might be truly helpful to the basic existential suffering of human beings is forgotten.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    I think this is what happens when we oversimplify. We lose the essence. The word zen itself is so misused.

    However, I have helped a lot of people with body scanning techniques where they become more aware of their bodies and learn to cope with their illnesses through acceptance.

    However, it's used as a pill to deal with something. We sit Zazen in peace and storm. It's so different.

    Gassho,
    Geerish.

    Sent from my PAR-LX1M using Tapatalk

  28. #28
    Hi John I can share some practices that are helping me:
    - Simplified my activities to the essential (the usual.. videogames, tv, social media, etc). Same goes for personal belongings, got rid of everyhing I don´t actively use.
    - Increased a lot cleaning and ordering (I have a 2 years old son, who helps me by giving me A LOT of occasions to clean and reorder ). I find cleaning my personal form of zen.
    - Established a daily routine - both at home and at work - to make sure I have the the time for practicing (be it formal zen, insta-zen and simple mindfulness)
    HtH
    Franz, Sat

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Franz View Post
    Hi John I can share some practices that are helping me:
    - Simplified my activities to the essential (the usual.. videogames, tv, social media, etc). Same goes for personal belongings, got rid of everyhing I don´t actively use.
    - Increased a lot cleaning and ordering (I have a 2 years old son, who helps me by giving me A LOT of occasions to clean and reorder ). I find cleaning my personal form of zen.
    - Established a daily routine - both at home and at work - to make sure I have the the time for practicing (be it formal zen, insta-zen and simple mindfulness)
    HtH
    Franz, Sat
    I clean the garden and house with the same mindset as we'd clean the zendo. It's indeed liberating. Cleaning the house or washing the car is like cleaning oneself and is part of the practice.

    Gassho,
    Sat today,
    Geerish.

    Sent from my PAR-LX1M using Tapatalk

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by GrasshopperMan17 View Post
    I've been wanting to move my Zen practice into everyday life, but am having trouble implementing it into my "daily doings". I'm wondering if anyone has any exercises or advice? Especially looking for advice on having a Zen mindset with ADHD, and what some of you do to practice with this, as I'm sure some of you do. Namasté

    Gassho, John
    ST/LAH
    This post will go long; apologies - and I will sit extra to make up for it, but this is something I have to say.

    Really, really good advice here, but I have been thinking about this. Also- listen to this; it's a superb talk about just this topic: Norman Fischer's talk on Case 19 - Everyday Mind is Zen

    This question about moving Zen into your everyday life - when you asked this I immediately iterated through a list of tips and life hacks. The problem with that way of thinking is that it misses the point and the question.

    There is no integrating Zen practice into your every day life. That's like asking how do you get to where you are now? You see this all over the place in koans and teachings because it is such a prescient and important question. In fact, in this koan that Norman Fischer discusses: Everyday mind is zen -> the monk is asking his teacher the exact same question you are asking the sangha - so you and (all of us) are in very good company.

    The question isn't how you move practice into your every day life - the question is do you see how zen is already your every day life? And Zen - we've all touched upon it in this thread; there has to be a new word for this because it's been destroyed and turned into something it's not.

    I used to tell my wife that I'm going to meditate to make it more palatable - you know sugar coat it. Nope - now I tell her I'm going to go sit or sit Shikantaza - it's not meditation. I do this a lot to dilute things down to make them more palatable.

    And that's what "zen" is in our daily zeitgeist. We want to be more zen. No you want to escape your damned life lol (Not you - the general you)

    Zen isn't about simplifying your life so you can be calm all the time. Zen is about facing your life - and that also means facing your death - try to package that up - that lurking mortality right around the corner.

    So, and this is my personal perspective (I know I can get intense as my wife likes to point out lol), there is no time to waste. There is a crying baby, a burning world, suffering and death. There is also beauty and calm.

    Zen is not about latching on to one and avoiding the other - if you avoid what you don't like you are missing all or most of your life.

    But what if you could go beyond likes and dislikes? How would you do that? I can't tell you how - no one can all the time - that's why we practice and sit zazen. This whole practice is about jumping into our life, living our lives fully - the chaos, the calm, the beauty, the ugliness - taking it all in in one big gulp.

    You have to figure out how to fit zen practice into your life - but you first have to realize that there is no fitting anywhere. It's like you have to get out of your own way. This topic has been coming up a lot too but you are an expression/ you are the universe. WE don't see this because even though that is the case - that is always the case- we don't let the universe shine through us.

    We already have it - we need to stop and see that. We need to taste that - and we need to taste it when it's very difficult to see that through the storms of our life. Those storms are beautiful too - we are just scared because we separate from them. We don't want to think about our death or the death of our loved ones. It can come at any time.

    I can hang on with dear life - or I can bow to my coffee maker, my toilet, actually thank and care for everything in my life - and isn't that the Bodhisattva path? We care for what is in our lives - we don't leave a stone unturned. But I digress.

    You know this already - so do I. It's like the story of Bird's Nest Roshi that comes up during our precepts study: doing what's right is so basic - even a child knows it - everyone knows they should eat right, not smoke or drink excessively, love their neighbor etc etc etc ---- but even, so it's difficult for a man (or woman) of 80 years.

    Isn't that how it is? we all know what we need to do - yet we avoid what we need to do. I do it, you do it; that's what it means to be human. And isn't that why we suffer or experience dissatisfaction - because we run away from what we know we need to do - but zazen and this way isn't about some new fad or gizmo to keep you occupied like a fidget spinner. This practice is about stopping all that and actually taking stock of where you are here and now and doing your best with what you have here and now, knowing that you have everything you need to do that.

    And even so - we have this sangha here to help us remember that we aren't alone, even though no one can do this practice for us.

    In the koan that is talked about in the podcast (that I posted a link to in the beginning), there is a verse that Wuman adds to the koan to express the point of it:

    The koan is Case 19 from the Wumenkuan - Everyday Mind is the Way

    Spring comes with flowers,
    Autumn with the moon,
    Summer with the breeze,
    Winter with snow,
    When idle concerns no longer hang in your mind,
    This is your best season.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  31. #31
    That was beautiful, @Risho. Thank you.

    I find it helpful to remember that the Pali word "Sati," which is usually translated as "mindfulness," also means "remembering." So often, it seems what is needed in that moment is remembering.

    Say I'm sitting on the sofa next to our dog drinking my morning black coffee and the Achilles tendonitis in my right heel is particularly inflamed and painful and my mind is racing with the long to-do list from work and I have that feeling of hot tight anxiety in my chest and...

    Then I remember.

    And the heel and to do list and anxiety are all still there - maybe there's a touch more pleasure when the bitter coffee hits my tongue, a touch more awareness of the dog's breathing - and suddenly there is also an ease. This is life. This is how it should be. And I lean into the painful heel and racing mind and breathing dog and bitter coffee and anxious feeling in my chest with a slight smile.

    Gassho, Jim

    ST/Lah

    Sent from my SM-T510 using Tapatalk
    No matter how much zazen we do, poor people do not become wealthy, and poverty does not become something easy to endure.
    Kōshō Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by JimInBC View Post
    I find it helpful to remember that the Pali word "Sati," which is usually translated as "mindfulness," also means "remembering." So often, it seems what is needed in that moment is remembering.

    Say I'm sitting on the sofa next to our dog drinking my morning black coffee and the Achilles tendonitis in my right heel is particularly inflamed and painful and my mind is racing with the long to-do list from work and I have that feeling of hot tight anxiety in my chest and...

    Then I remember.

    And the heel and to do list and anxiety are all still there - maybe there's a touch more pleasure when the bitter coffee hits my tongue, a touch more awareness of the dog's breathing - and suddenly there is also an ease. This is life. This is how it should be. And I lean into the painful heel and racing mind and breathing dog and bitter coffee and anxious feeling in my chest with a slight smile.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    Thank you all so much for the wonderful advice. I have found all of it very helpful in my daily practice. You all are the best, and i am very grateful for this sangha.

    Gassho and Namasté, John
    ST/LAH

  34. #34
    I'm a fan of mindfulness bells, e.g. https://awakeningbell.org/, and making certain activities a focus for being in the present moment. Things you do every day, like washing the dishes, cooking, or sitting down for a meal, but only when possible.

    Gassho,
    Gareth

    Sat today

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