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Thread: calling all new parents...

  1. #1

    calling all new parents...

    ... how do you manage with zazen?

    it's about 3 months now that I've been full-time stay at home dad with our little boy Beren, just over 8 months old. What with looking after him, shopping, cooking, washing and whatever else when he goes to sleep the last thing I seem able to do is zazen!

    Every day I think right when he's asleep I'll wash his bottles, prepare the tea, etc... and then do zazen but either I don't leave myself enough time or I'm so knackered that zazen soon turns to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............

    Same on an evening, get him to sleep, Clare say's 'I'm going to sit, you coming' and usually I struggle to make my mouth form the words to say 'I'm too buggered' :lol:

    He's asleep now, my head is thumping, I should go and sit instead of being on here but the sofa and sleep seem so much more tempting zzzzz...........

  2. #2

    Re: calling all new parents...


    You just described my life! Yes, I can relate. We have a 2 year old (as of this Sunday) and an almost 5 year old. While they are no longer infants, I'm afraid it hasn't gotten easier to find time to sit. I'd actually love to sit twice per day, but I end up doing about 30 minutes a day, usually pretty late at night. Yup, I'm exhausted but, as it stands now, that's really the only time I can do it. I just try very hard to do it before I start dozing off in the chair. I'm afraid there's no magic formula (so to speak). If you find one, please let me know!

    Along the same lines, as was discussed on another recent thread, being a parent can be an amazing aspect of Zen practice - being present, focusing on whatever is at hand, trying to be slow to anger, trying not to rush, etc. While sitting is the main part of practice, all this (and more) can enrich one's practice.


  3. #3

    Re: calling all new parents...

    Good job to you for still being upright!
    I too suffered a bout of zazen-less or zZzZazZzZen.

    One thing that works for me now, and i don't know if its possible for you yet... but in the afternoon Sienna (our daughter) goes for a nap and so do I! When ever she sleeps ... I take that opprotunity to grab a quick nap. then go off and do what needs done. Or Coffee/tea and plenty of it :lol:

    That usually helps me get my late evening sit in. I still sit even if im bushed or cant score that nap, 1/2hr of drowsy zazen is better than laying on the couch thinking about how tired i am. I just then go to bed earlier, instead of waiting up for my wife to get home (@ 12:30am)

    Of course you could just "sit" while doing one of the other things your doing... "grocery line up zazen" or "diaper-ZOMG-wadda-mess zazen"
    For a while i did a lot of "sitting" while standing... dishes and folding the laundry etc.

    One last motivator for me as of late is after sometime away from the zafu i REALLY appreciated the time on the cushion and the noticed the benifits... like a bit more energy in my day

    Hope you find something that works!
    and if you do Please share!!!


  4. #4

    Re: calling all new parents...

    I wake up at 0430, long before anyone in the house is up. Most of the time anyway. I sit for half an hour and then get up and eat a small breakfast. (one cup of generic honey "O"s with soy milk lately) then sit for another half hour. The evening sittings are a little less quiet. Usually I turn the electronic baby sitter to "Noggin" TV (its like preschool on TV, or so they advertise) and that usualy distracts the kids enough that I can get an evening sitting in.

    There are exceptions to the peace and quiet though. Sometimes one of the children will wake up in the morning and want attention, more often the family cat wakes up in the morning and wants attention. sometimes I do ZaZen with a three year old on my shoulders, sometimes with a cat cushioning my hands. It is all ZaZen. When the three year old was a four month old I would also do ZaZen with her on my lap. If she was fussy I did my best to satisfy her and then continue ZaZen.

    Most important I think is a couple of things that have been mentioned before. One, make a schedule and do your best to keep it. Please understand that the schedule will not always be kept, but don't stop trying. Another thing I recommend is taking advantage of off schedule times for sittings. I find some days on weekends where the rest of the family is engaged in various things, I can sneak off to the cushion and get an extra sitting in.

    I don't think I have said anything new. I have been there and it can be challenging. I am also powered by green tea, and that help keep away the ZZZZzzZZZzzZZzzs.


  5. #5

    Re: calling all new parents...

    Thanks for the input, good to hear how others fair/manage , although I'll give the 4.30am start a miss :lol: I struggle with sleep as it is never mind a baby :lol:

    Guess it's the old get organised and stop making excuses routine eh?

    In gassho, Kev

  6. #6

    Re: calling all new parents...

    Hey Kev,

    I'm a stay at home dad myself with a 3 year old, but I remember 3 months very well. At that time I didn't do much sitting, but whether it was that or a brief lie down on the couch, I left him in a swing nearby. That may not happen for you, but nap time is usually when I do it including in just about five minutes! But I hear you on the sleepiness aspect as late night sittings haven't worked so well and perhaps Jundo has a suggestion on how to sit when tired. I'm a beginner so I can't offer much more than that and solidarity with my stay at home bretheren!

    BTW, my son just used the potty when asked for the first time and I'm pretty ecstatic, can I tell you? It'll be hard sitting at the moment but I'll do my best.


  7. #7

    Re: calling all new parents...

    Kev et al,
    Boy, do I appreciate your posts. I have three boys, aged 17-4, and I have been caring for them this summer (as well as my wife) as she recovers from surgery. By the time evening rolls around, sitting on the zafu sure is tough. I have tried a combination of things - I ask the older boys to read and/or play games with their younger brother so I can carve out a thirty-minute sitting. I have also introduced two or three ten-minute sittings during the day, although they are not as satisfying as the longer session.

    At the heart of this for me however, is the opportunity to practice zazen in all my activities during the day - a remarkable challenge in itself. Whether I am washing dishes, cleaning toilets, doing laundry, reading to my son, vacuuming the house, etc., I try to bring the same attitude to these chores as I do to zazen - shikantaza. I try to observe and let pass the monologues of mind and focus upon the task at hand - to do it as thoroughly as possible and view it as an opportunity to practice. Zazen is not only done on the zafu - and to restrict it as such is not zazen. It helps a lot that I am currently reading Uchiyama's commentary on Dogen's Instructions for the Zen Cook....

    To paraphrase Uchiyama, the practice of the reality of life is just as valid as the practice of zazen (p. 30). "In Zen, this is called practicing singlemindedly with all one's energies."

    All zen platitudes aside, I have to go now and change my son's underwear. The potty training is on again - off again. :shock:

    An opportunity for practice!

    Gassho and best of luck,

  8. #8

    Re: calling all new parents...

    The texture of time is radically different with a new child in the home, thats for sure! I found it helpful to remember that the whole thing is practice - all of it. Another thing is that it is fine to sit for 10 minutes, or just 5, or just 1 minute. Even for just one breath if thats what is true. Sometimes we get the idea that if we don't sit for a full 30 minutes it dosen't count or something...

    - Rinsen

  9. #9

    Re: calling all new parents...


    I've bin there, dun that!

    This might be helpful:

    Reverence in Every Direction
    A young man named Sigala used to worship the six cardinal points of the heavens--east, south, west, north, nadir and zenith--in obeying and observing the last advice given him by his dying father. The Buddha told the young man that in the "noble discipline" of his teaching, the six directions were different. According to his "noble discipline" the six directions were: east; parents; south: teachers; west: wife and children; north: friends, relatives and neighbors; nadir: servants, workers and employees; zenith: religious men.

    "One should worship these six directions," said the Buddha. Here the word "worship" is very significant, for one worships something sacred, something worthy of honor and respect. These six family and social groups mentioned above are treated in Buddhism as sacred, worthy of respect and worship. But how is one to "worship" them? The Buddha says that one could "worship" them only by performing one's duties toward them.

    -- Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught
    from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

    Many blessings,

  10. #10

    Re: calling all new parents...

    Rinsen and Lora,

    Right on! I need to focus on the potential, presence, and opportunity for practice in each breath - one at a time. In this vein, even five minutes, or one minute of sitting is important.

    Lora, Thank you for Reverence in Every Direction...


  11. #11

    Re: calling all new parents...


    I've been there and somehow worked it out, mainly through my wife, Emma, who took care of the baby (he's now a 1-yearold who sits beside me for a short time every time i sit...) while i was sitting.
    It is often best to try and find the same time to sit and to talk it over with your wife/whatever, so that you get to sit a litle bit while she takes care of the baby...

    On the offside i seem to remember a video showing a zenguy named Jundo having a baby crawling over him while doing zazen, i cant remeber what date it was though...

    May the force be with you

  12. #12

    Re: calling all new parents...

    Hola Kev,

    I feel your pain.
    I could never get two main sits a day. One on the cushion and on one If I ever sat down on one my son would use his super baby senses and start off.
    Three things I found which have made it easier are, not taking sitting so seriously, a bit like Jundo's sitting in a burger bar, or in the car, kind of think. It was a good lesson and showed me not to expect anything, I think I was looking for a good sit, a relaxing sit, peace and quiet or something.

    Secondly is, babies are stupidly tiring. When you are half a sleep and trying to get jobs done they always take twice as long, or I bodge them. If you take a little siesta you can come back to the jobs fresher and with better concentration. I find this actually frees up more time.

    The third one is walking meditation with Beren in his pushchair. I have done it a lot with my son. if there is a park or some kind on looped circuit you can walk without having to dodge people all the time it will be easier at first.

    Good luck and I hope you find a system that suits


  13. #13

    Re: calling all new parents...

    Cheers for the sympathy :lol: Yeh walking meditation is a godsend, some nice quiet lanes round here and plenty of chance for an insta-sit on a bench.

    The seista is something I need to take on, I usuallt get distracted on here or preparing tea etc. but should take that power nap when he goes down.

    Just need the in-laws out of the picture now, not very Buddhist I kno, but sometimes it's nice to say 'Hi' and nice to say 'Bye' :lol:

    Viva la stay at home parent :wink:


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