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Thread: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

  1. #1

    Advice: Adding more practice to daily life


    I find myself in a different place mentally. I understand that life is our practice, yet I am craving more practice in daily life if that makes any sort of sense. I currently sit twice a day--morning and evening, as well as once weekly with a group and participate in a once monthly zazenkai with the local group. I consider the time I dedicate to helping out the kids as a scout leader my samu work (10 + hours a week during the school year, plus some summer time for camps, etc :shock: ) and really don' have the time nor the energy to dedicate more time to outside volunteering.

    I would love to hear about the little "moments of Zen" that other sangha members work into their days. While I want to dedicate more time to practice, I must be realistic about where it fits into daily life, and little moments is what realistically fits in!


  2. #2

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life


    As you're looking for examples and not a sermon i'll try my best...

    Washing the dishes.
    The last thing i do every evening before i get "my time", that is time that i can do anything with, after all the chores are done is washing the dishes.
    And when i wash the dishes, i WASH THE DISHES.
    This is something i've made pasrt of my practice since, i think, i read it in thich nhat hanh's book almond tree in the garden.
    A side effect is that it separates things, making me ready for doing other things such as getting my mindset on sitting and such.

    Being with Filur
    WHen i am with Filur, my son, i am only with him, not letting my mind wander to other things.
    And when we have some time doing things by ourselves, i let it go.
    Trusting him, in doing that which he should.

    Straightening the back
    As i have a damaged back, and knee and ... (the downside of being an old martial artist..) i try and straighten my back all the time, as it gives me a betterposture and doesn't ache as much.
    A little trick in doing that is that i stretch my fingers, and then my back straightens to.
    A side effect is that i've noticed my mind is less prone to wander if i have an "proper posture" and it also helps in sitting/being.

    But as you have realized, it's all part of the practice.
    You can make everything your practice.
    It's all good practice.

    And this may be a good topic on the teaparty, i'll add it to the list...


  3. #3

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    I find myself in a different place mentally.
    I think that is a perfect practice! Start to notice each time you find yourself in a different place mentally and let go of it. Let yourself come back to where you are right now. Sometimes it helps to stop what you're doing for a minute and focus on your breath, or keep doing what you're doing, but bring your mind to what it is you are doing now, let the other stuff go. This can keep me busy all day if I remembered to keep practicing it all day. In reality, I usually go several hours or a few days forgetting to come back to the present. I never critcise myself, I only do the best that I can and with time, I know I will close those gaps.

    Also, when you're waiting for an elevator, there's 60 seconds of standing zazen. When you're driving your car, turn off your radio and just drive (be careful not to space out, but just stay in this moment of driving down this road or sitting in this traffic).

    I think the practice of mindfully doing whatever it is I'm doing or staying present wherever I happen to be, is a perfect practice when I cannot do some of the other more formal exercises.

  4. #4

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    This post is very applicable to myself as well. As a work-a-holic, my mind is constantly racing. One thing I've learned is that a majority of the "thinking" that I do, is really not all that beneficial. It's simply meandering, useless, thoughts. I find myself now constantly bringing myself back to this moment, and even just briefly, clearing my mind on what's present and focusing solely on the task at hand.

    Fugen, I've actively worked on what you wrote concerning everyday activities: when washing dishes..washing dishes; when spending time with loved ones..spending time with loved ones. I'm learning everything can be practice. As I straighten my posture when I find myself wandering in thought during zazen, I bring myself back to the moment and the activity I'm doing throughout the day. Straightening posture...bring myself back to the present activity, it's no different.

  5. #5

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    Hello Jen,

    I have a saying that I come back to time and time again. It seems to help me when I feel that I need "more" in my life. Every time I feel this way I think of:

    "The best time is always right now, the only moment you can control. The most important person is always the one you are with. And the most vital thing to do is always make that person happy."

    I try to keep this thought with every thing that I do in my life. Washing dishes, playing with my daughter, reading, sitting zazen, etc.

    I make sure that no matter what I do, I do it fully and without judgement or expectations. The above saying applies to whether I'm alone or with others, and I've noticed that it keeps me coming back to stillness. I hope this makes sense.



  6. #6

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    Hi Joshin,

    You bring up samu and I that is one area I have been giving a bit of thought about. I work for a local environmental group and have had some great success with projects involving land preservation....I also try to support the groups' environmental education programs. I too have been busy with family life and part of that, for me, I consider samu, as I have been caring for two aging parents..both with dementia. Nevertheless, my daughter leaves for college next fall and I am thinking of doing some volunteer work at an animal shelter. Samu is one way to go beyond the self and, as you mention above, is one way to integrate practice into daily life.


  7. #7

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    Hi Jen,

    I usually try to get out of the office and go for a run at lunchtime. As well as sitting, I try to practice zazen while running and I guess I kill two birds with one stone Perhaps, the 'runners high' is simply a clear mental state?!?!

    Anyway that's how I add practice to daily life.



  8. #8

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    Hi Jen,
    - this relates to an earlier topic too... cleaning teeth. In the morning while I'm brushing I'm often thinking about what's coming up at work, and I even try to do other things while cleaning my teeth, like switching on the PC or drawing blinds. I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to do two things at the same time, but sometimes I find myself changing how I feel (getting angry, excited, anxious... whatever), carried away by my thoughts. So before I propel myself into a mood or an attitude which has absolutely no grounding in any reality other than that of my own head, I just go back to the weirdly gorgeous luxury of simply brushing my teeth.


  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Redding California USA

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    For me, it's my morning shower. Some days I notice I start planning my day and thinking my usual random thoughts. When I catch myself, I come back to the feel of the water, the steam, etc - whatever is going on right now. That seems to work for me. Of course, some mornings it's " Oh shit! I'm late! Gotta go!"


  10. #10

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    Sorry I haven't been responding, I was away for the week being a camp counselor 8) Thank all of you for your very thoughtful answers! All good advice that was sitting right in front of my nose, but it takes wiser beings than me to recognize it!

    The wise words shared here have helped me see what is missing. I need to turn off my type 'A' personality programming and instead of adding more I need to focus more on what is already there. Up the quality and forget about quantity as it were.

    Deep gassho to all,

  11. #11

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    Hellos to all posting here!

    There is no need to 'add' more practice to daily life; any more than you can add more daily life to daily life.
    Practice and daily life are the same.
    At least this is my experience.

    Above in comments something was said about 'my time' (defined as 'time I can do anything with').
    May I point out the whole of the entire day is 'my time.'
    There is nothing to keep me from 'my time' 24 7.
    There is no time NOT 'my time.'
    If zazen were a watch, every second, every minute, every hour would say My Time. Looking at it I can read that right now, it is My Time at My Time and My Time!
    This watch reads correctly at all times, (but you may need a more conventional watch to head off for work, and arrive to catch the start of the movie you plan to see with friends)!

  12. #12

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    Indeed Jen, I see where you're coming from. Often times I will say "Ugh! If only I could just sit down for 10 minutes everything would come into perspective!" One more sitting period, one more moment of peace. I believe that comes down to a mild-case of escapism on my part. The desire for things to be different than what they are at that moment. The desire to sit when I stand, stand when I walk, walk when I have to run. "If only if only if only", a common mantra of mine

    I find that the "Insta-Zazen" that Jundo spoke of is a good way to bring everything back. Popping that thought bubble hanging over our heads so frequently. Not on purpose of course, but one may notice that once that zazen is brought up from the depths, the ocean of thought we sometimes drown in turns out to only be a puddle. It is very late here, and I hope I have made sense in someway or another :P


  13. #13

    Re: Advice: Adding more practice to daily life

    Up the quality and forget about quantity as it were
    - Jen

    Still craving it to be different? lol

    Its both "as it is" and we want it to be different. How to include all? Be aware of the craving and do what you do to increase the quality at the same time. You'll be living "as it is" and perhaps, when fully doing that, changing things OR not changing things- who knows?

    "Just do it" as one Zennie said.

    Hope that is useful


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