Meditation

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Meditation

Postby Monsoon » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:49 pm

Okay, a second topic for the New Year.

How many of us engage in meditation practices as practices in their own right?

As an adherent of Pure Land Buddhism I am comfortable with mantra meditation, and this year have included a more specific mantra to Guan Yin to my daily practice. I understand that many martial art exponents enjoin in zazen (zuo chan) practice as a means to clear the mind of obstructions, is this a common thing?

More important perhaps is the following: If you have a meditative practice, do you engage in it before or after martial practice, and does this make a difference?

Monsoon
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Re: Meditation

Postby John the Monkey mind » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:07 am

Monsoon wrote:Okay, a second topic for the New Year.

How many of us engage in meditation practices as practices in their own right?



Although I have not recently been meditation at times I have been quite active. I have done a fair bit of Zen meditation as well as some Tibetan practices. I have also had a little experiences with Pure Land Buddhism so have tried doing some of their mantra.
I have also done some Qigong meditation from YMAA materials.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Inga » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:48 am

I have been doing meditation through martial arts for a few years, qigong & sitting, trying to cultivate the movement of qi. Over the past year I have begun some dharma study and joined a local Sangha. The members of the group come from many faiths, some Buddhist, some Christian and Jewish – but we all sit together and meditate. I have been introduced to meditative practices such as tong len, which was really hard at first but I’m getting a little better at it. Mostly I work on becoming more present and mindful, to stop worrying about what I did, or what happened, or what might come and be here and now. I remind myself to work with what I have, and to be grateful for what I have, and to cooperate and be compassionate with others. It’s challenging, and I can’t stop being an optimist (yet) and hoping for a bright future. But by staying focused in what I’m doing at the moment, I hope I’m improving on the quality of my life, and not wasting time wondering about what might have been or wishing what will be. I think this has helped my martial arts training as well, being present in the class and not letting my mind drift to what I’ll fix for supper later, or what someone said to me earlier in the day. With improved focus for my daily life and reinforcement that my family and friends are dear to me I’ve greatly increased my peace of mind, my blood pressure is lower and I sleep very well. The biggest breakthrough for me was realizing how I can take the focus of my meditation from the cushion and carry it with me, through the day, as it takes the edge off of frustrations with myself and others and redirects me to more important things. So yes, I meditate not necessarily as a habit before or after training, but regularly, and it does make a difference for me.
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Re: Meditation

Postby joeblast » Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:16 am

Since I'm a fan of integrating cultivated energies via utter and complete stillness, I always advocate for that as a completing....non-act, hahaha 8)

Embryonic breathing continues to be an excellent foundation - I use it to ostensibly build or reach a certain level of calmness, continue it until the body's processes drop below certain thresholds, after that the practice blossoms and becomes net energy positive. In dropping signals below their thresholds of sensitivity, I focus on coherent breath mechanics as an accompaniment to EB.

That is usually a point of inflection for a given session - if I am to do further energetic work, MCO for example, that is the time. But plenty often I will not do active energy practices, I usually let my mood dictate that...the foundational meditative stillness, however, always, every single session, beginning and end....beginning through end, if I have nothing else on the agenda.

Once that point is past I then turn my focus more toward longevity breathing to complete a session. For me it differs slightly from say EB in that it is more streamlined, stripped down. For breath mechanics I isolate just the Diaphragm-Psoas-Perineum dynamic - everything else is left unperturbed. No facilitating breath with the sinuses or anything like that (that point is part of EB too)...I gently descend the diaphragm-psoas junction on the inhale and let the inhale continue descending deep into the abdomen, far below the diaphragm but not too low so as to perturb the perineum from its waxing and waning. The roll of the diaphragmatic motion flows smoothly past the foramina (aorta, vena cava, esophagus/vagus)...the flow of air smooth, turbulence free (no stimulation of the olfactory nerve, yet still maintaining proper blood o2/co2 balance so that it does not feed back upon the heart and lungs)...each inhale rolling seamlessly into exhale, vice versa, until "the one breath" is there, with no feeling of air there is no distinction between inhale and exhale...and also importantly, the spirit effortlessly fixed at the seat of awareness at the ni-wan. With the Cranial Nerves well attenuated, the chains and cascades of neural firings are brought beneath thresholds of activity,

"Only at this time will one suddenly introspect and
recognize the roundness and illumination of the origin of
nature and life."

/\ May everyone's 2013 be fruitful and happy :)
Even in mildly complex systems, any outcome is the wrong thing to target, with the process being where the focus should be.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Josh Young » Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:12 pm

I practice meditation, primarily mantra based.
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Re: Meditation

Postby John the Monkey mind » Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:11 pm

Josh Young wrote:I practice meditation, primarily mantra based.


Does your mantra have any particular purpose to it relating to martial arts? In Indian martial arts they practice mantras to enhance aspects of practice or skill.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Josh Young » Sat Jan 19, 2013 10:39 pm

One of the mantras is specifically taoist, this one relates indirectly to taijiquan. I use some mudras that have martial potential as well, though the martial ones are vedic. I also employ a mantra of Shiva who is a warrior god, said to have transmitted martial teachings 108 specific postures actually...
However none of my meditation is focused upon martial arts.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Greg Jah » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:08 pm

Inga wrote:The biggest breakthrough for me was realizing how I can take the focus of my meditation from the cushion and carry it with me, through the day, as it takes the edge off of frustrations with myself and others and redirects me to more important things. So yes, I meditate not necessarily as a habit before or after training, but regularly, and it does make a difference for me.


I very much relate to this thoughtful post by Inga. I have been practicing Zen meditation for all of my adult life. Last year, following a couple of reminders of my own mortality, I committed to a daily practice of 20 - 30 minutes in the morning. I try to get up early enough to do about 20 minutes of standing Qigong, Zhan Zhuang, & some Tai Chi before meditating. I find that these movements help wake my body up and put my head in a really good space to sit. The overall quality of my sitting, however, is also influenced by other factors (how much sleep I got the night before and whether there was any cold coffee I could drink before sitting :D , for example).

It is hard to put into words, but I do feel a definite connection between my martial arts practice and my zen practice. Zen helps me to become much more aware of my minds tendency to pull away from the present, and become agitated and judgmental. Sitting allows me to experience clearness between the ripples of thought. I try to make space for these same moments off the cushion. Martial Arts is an important context within which I can practice this.

Hope this makes sense!

Best,

Greg
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Re: Meditation

Postby caesar » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:02 pm

Greg Jah wrote:

Hope this makes sense!



It does!

I believe meditation has a lot to do with martial arts. I feel like the same principals go hand in hand...accepting whatever is coming for you...reacting in the most natural way...observing the ego etc.
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Re: Meditation

Postby pete5770 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:06 am

I'll play devils advocate and say that I don't believe in meditation(and I don't). To me the idea of sitting around doing nothing is of no use to me or others. I need to be shown that things are useful in the betterment of man and mankind. I simply don't believe that meditation will have any benefits to building a better world. Work that accomplishes ideas, ideals and dreams is what's required for man to live a happy and productive life. Work, not meditaion is the key.
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Re: Meditation

Postby brer_momonga » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:07 am

But you aren't doing nothing, you're turning inwards and working on improving yourself.

No one here is pushing a trademarked method - just talking about meditation.

After all, who are we but our thoughts? Work is very valuable, and none of us say replace "work" with meditation. I can see how someone who hasn't made progress in meditation or noticed any positive results can say that meditation is not work, however, it's similar to the way that someone who doesn't know that they are addicted to sugar and sedentary lifestyle can say, "What's the point of exercising and trying to eat right?" Both sadly betray an aversion to self-discipline and moderation.

How come whenever we start to get into the meat of a topic here, you try to challenge its fundamentals? I understand the need for that, but not for EVERY DISCUSSION.

It's like going to college, signing up for a class about some specific topic and, instead of trying to further develop the topic, one instead tries to convince everyone that the subject either does not exist or isn't important.
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Re: Meditation

Postby pete5770 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:28 pm

brer_momonga wrote:No one here is pushing a trademarked method - just talking about meditation.

It's like going to college, signing up for a class about some specific topic and, instead of trying to further develop the topic, one instead tries to convince everyone that the subject either does not exist or isn't important.


Please re-read the OP's post. Especially where he asks "How many of us engage in meditation.....?"
I believe I've answered that question and stated my reasons. No need to get upset.

As for going to College and taking a class. No problem with that, but have you never questioned anything that the professor says or asked for reasons as to why this or that works or doesn't work or asked about proof of something? Who sits in classes without questioning anything that is said?
Why would anyone not have any doubts about things that are said simply because the person that said them had some credibility? In other words, who believes everything that people say?

I also believe that if you re-read my post you'll find that I never claimed meditation didn't exist.
Nor did I say it was unimportant. I personally don't consider it of any importance to me(key word personally) however if you consider it important then to you it is.

Where is the problem with myself not believing in something that you DO believe in? Isn't this the way of the world? So to speak. :? :?
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Re: Meditation

Postby Monsoon » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:38 pm

Well stated, Brer, I would second everything you said there.

@Pete, do you believe that taking a few deep breaths is a good way to calm yourself down a little bit? If you ever do this you will probably have noticed that, as you do it, it is not only your breathing that comes under direct scrutiny but your mental state. This is a kind of meditation. A fairly shallow one, but there it is.

There is plenty of solid scientific evidence out there that shows that regular meditation (almost any method) has provable mental health benefits, and by extension physical health benefits in terms of (for instance) metabolic stress levels. Nobody is talking about superhuman abilites and such.

This really isn't up for debate Pete. Your statements regarding meditation are, to the scientific community, equivalent ot you saying you think the earth is flat.

Since I started meditation I have fallen into two distinct practices: zuo chan (zen) - sitting meditation that turns the mind in on itself (this is not an attempt to hide though), and my Pure Land practice of reciting the mantra to Amitabha. Both these practices lead to clearer thinking and a sense of orderliness in my larger life. This too is not open for debate.

Regarding tai ji: sometimes when training I will allow myself to slow down so much that I simply stop outward movement in a random posture. I then stand in that posture for a few minutes allowing the posture to inform me of my position in space, my options for continued movement and my intent. This is a kind of meditation too.
peace and harmony

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Re: Meditation

Postby Monsoon » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:39 pm

Addendum.

Pete, asking questions is good... when you feel that questions are required. Asking questions just for the sake of asking questions is not good. There is a difference.

To me the idea of sitting around doing nothing is of no use to me or others.


Although in your last post you wanted to highlight that it was your belief that meditation had nothing to offer to you personally (and you emphasised the 'personally'). In the above quote, the fact that you think that meditation is 'sitting around doing nothing' suggests that you do not understand meditation and that therefore the 'no use to me' part is based upon that flawed understanding.

Hopefully you will see what I am saying here and not take it as personally insulting.
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Re: Meditation

Postby pete5770 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:56 pm

Monsoon wrote:Addendum.

Pete, asking questions is good... when you feel that questions are required. Asking questions just for the sake of asking questions is not good. There is a difference.

To me the idea of sitting around doing nothing is of no use to me or others.


Although in your last post you wanted to highlight that it was your belief that meditation had nothing to offer to you personally (and you emphasised the 'personally'). In the above quote, the fact that you think that meditation is 'sitting around doing nothing' suggests that you do not understand meditation and that therefore the 'no use to me' part is based upon that flawed understanding.

Hopefully you will see what I am saying here and not take it as personally insulting.


I guess you might consider me a good candidate for The Royal Society. Their motto seems to suit me "On the word of no one". However, I do believe I read somewhere that they are trying to change it to "Respect the facts". So who knows, there may be hope for me yet.

In any case, I'll leave this discussion to the faithful. :wink:
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Re: Meditation

Postby Dvivid » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:26 pm

Pete, your insinuation is that meditation has not yet been validated by modern science as having health benefits. And somehow you're also stating that meditation doesn't benefit humanity. Spoken like a true non-believer, and also like someone with zero understanding of the subject he is attempting to cause fights about.

If you're trying to be annoying, its working. Again. You bring nothing of value to this conversation.

There are decades of Western scientific research on the subject, should you have an interest in respecting the facts. Until then, please go away from this forum. You are officially not welcome here.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Greg Jah » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:32 pm

pete5770 wrote:I'll play devils advocate and say that I don't believe in meditation(and I don't). To me the idea of sitting around doing nothing is of no use to me or others. I need to be shown that things are useful in the betterment of man and mankind. I simply don't believe that meditation will have any benefits to building a better world. Work that accomplishes ideas, ideals and dreams is what's required for man to live a happy and productive life. Work, not meditaion is the key.


Hi Pete,

"Meditation" is a word that means different things to different people. When I referenced it, "meditation" referred to Zen meditation. As others have mentioned, from the outside this type of meditation looks like "doing nothing," but what is happening is that you are observing the mind's movement/ chatter, and your own reaction to that chatter. We also practice sitting through the urge to do something about the chatter. So our meditation practice consists of becoming more aware of our thinking patterns/ habits of mind and the urges we have to act on these thoughts, while at the same time practicing the physical act of not acting on them immediately.

Where the rubber hits the road is that these thoughts and urges don't magically disappear when we're not meditating. But by becoming more aware of them on the cushion, we become more aware of them off the cushion. We can then work on changing the patterns that are creating suffering for ourselves and others, replacing them with ones that are healthier and more in line with the laws of the universe (and not in line with what our ego wants to believe is true), and acting intentionally and compassionately as opposed to selfishly and reactively. As we do this, the effects will be felt inside, within relationships we have with others, and in our larger communities/ society.

To get more specific (you did say you needed to be shown) the Buddha wrote about five hindrances to a meditation practice. What is interesting about these five hindrances is that they also clearly hinder us in our daily life, in that they create unhappiness and suffering. The five are: desire (in addition to the obvious sexual side of this, one of my teachers defined desire as wanting what you don't have or more of what you do...amped up this hindrance is synonymous with addiction); anger; laziness; anxiety; and doubt (not to be confused with critical thinking - doubt the hindrance is more like waffling and being unable to commit to a course of action). These five hindrances are the reason 12-step groups exist, the reason why most psychotropic medication is prescribed, the reason behind much interpersonal violence, and the reason why many wars are started. The key to transforming these hindrances is awareness, which at its most basic level (the level the deepest transformation can take place) is cultivated through meditation.

Finally, your observation that transforming the external world requires work is correct (although so too does transforming the internal world). Within the US, the idea of "Socially Engaged Buddhism" has gained alot of traction over the last 20 years. Now, most Zen Centers have a socially engaged component to their practice.

I hope this helps address some of your skepticism towards meditation. And, by the way, if you are interested I'd be happy to post links to dharma talks which I've found particularly helpful in my own life. Come to think of it, if one doesn't already exist a dharma talk thread may be in order.

Best,

Greg
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Re: Meditation

Postby Dvivid » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:36 pm

Greg, a Dharma talk thread is a great idea. Pete is only trying to cause strife and agitate people. He has some atheist /agnostic agenda that he mistakenly feels is relevant to our conversations about the martial arts topics on this forum.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Monsoon » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:41 pm

I am in awe. That is a terrific post Greg -clear, simple and informative. If you wish to start a dharma thread I wil read it with much interest. Thank you.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Greg Jah » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:57 pm

Thanks, Dvivid & Monsoon, for your kind replies. Bringing the subject back to martial arts practice, the five hindrances I referenced in my post could also be applied to training. And I have to say, I have never thought about them in this way.

I look forward to hearing others thoughts, as well as links to interesting dharma talks on the dharma talk thread.

Best,

Greg
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