Meditation

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Re: Meditation

Postby Josh Young » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:56 pm

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.


agreed on all counts and I would love to participate in a Dharma discussion.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Greg Jah » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:52 pm

Hi everyone,

In thought I would share the following quote by Jack Kornfield. It is from a series of talks he gave, called "The Eighfold Path for the Householder." I posted the URL for the e-book where this quote is from on the Dharma Talks thread.

"What is the essence of meditation practice? Here is a story. After the Buddha was enlightened he was walking down the road in a very happy state...and he met some people and they said, "You seem very special. What are you, some kind of an angel or a deva?" "No." "Well, are you some kind of a god then?" "No." Well, then are you some kind of wizard or magician?" "No," he replied. "Well, are you a man?" "No," he said. "Then what are you?" And he answered, "I am awake."

And in those three words - "I am awake" - he gave the whole teaching which Buddhism contains. To be a Buddha is to be one who has awakened, awakened to the nature of life and death and the world in which we live, awakened to the body and the mind. So the purpose of practicing meditation is not to become a meditator, or a spiritual person, or a Buddhist, or to join something. Rather, it is to understand this capacity we have as humans to awaken."

For me personally, martial arts training plays a big part of my cultivating awareness and a context within which I can both cultivate and manifest this awareness.

Anyhow, the quote (and the book) really resonated with me and I thought I would share them with you.

Best,

Greg
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Re: Meditation

Postby caesar » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:36 pm

How do you people balance between seated meditation...tai chi, qi gong, and zz? Do you feel that if some day you do a lot of zz, you kinda are doing the same work as in for example zazen...or vice versa? I've been busy and unmotivated lately and doing a lot of zazen and only some stretching in addition.
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Re: Meditation

Postby Monsoon » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:05 am

Not sure 'balance' is the right word here. I don't do more of one if I do less of another, if that's what you mean. I have a kind of schedule. When I get up I do surya namaskar (sun salutation yoga) just to limber up before I have breakfast and go to work. At work, lunchtime, I will generally run through a jian form, the unjustly infamous 24 Yang form, and liuhebafa - in 2 distinct time sessions, not mixed. When I get home I go into the garden and spend about 1-1.5 hours more seriously attending to the jian and YMAA version Yang 108 (what I actually do in this depends on whatever my current focus is). Later in the evening I will settle into zuo chan (zazen, for the Japanese oriented!) but for no longer than 30 minutes as I am just beginning this practice after many years away from it. I do this every single day!

However, I quite often work on a stance or a transition throughout the day in unobtrusive (I hope!) ways and places - I have been known to push the shopping cart while mud stepping (what? :D sometimes you just cannot help yourself and get taken by the moment)

That kind of what you had in mind?

Part of my problem is that I haven't really settled on a specific qigong practice and will often do either ba duan jin, swimming dragon, tai chi ruler or tai chi ball, depending on my mood.

Regarding ZZ, I consider it a distinct and separate practice to my sitting meditation - different focus and all that.

Of course I have left out my devotions from this list, as well as the various sports I indulge in, work, family etc. It's amazing what you can fit into a day!
peace and harmony

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Re: Meditation

Postby Greg Jah » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:23 am

caesar wrote:How do you people balance between seated meditation...tai chi, qi gong, and zz? Do you feel that if some day you do a lot of zz, you kinda are doing the same work as in for example zazen...or vice versa? I've been busy and unmotivated lately and doing a lot of zazen and only some stretching in addition.


Hi Caesar,

I usually do abuot 15 minutes of qigong & zz before my morning sitting. I find the movement helps wake my body up and puts my head in a good place to sit. Qigong & zz have qualitatively different energies, for me, than sitting meditation. When doing Qigong & zz i feel like I am "filling up" and "waking up." Zazen, on the other hand, is for me more about observing my mind's movement, my tendency to attach to my thoughts, and the urges I get to act on those thoughts. It thus has more of a feeling of "letting go" and "being with" (and some days, "falling asleep" :D .) So for me, I don't feel like if I do more of one I should do less of the other, because I am doing different things.

You mention feeling busy and unmotivated - I know that when I get busy, it is easy for me to get passive about my practice. If you don't mind, can you share a bit more about where the lack of motivation might be coming from?

I really like and admire Monsoon's approach to practice & training (& family!) - it seems very balanced.

Best,

Greg
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Re: Meditation

Postby caesar » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:48 pm

Hehe, this is kinda ironic. The whole question I presented is very complicated in my head and already asking it was hard because I was afraid I would have to explain myself in the subject which is a total chaos for me...and this morning I woke up and saw Monsoon's post and I had a clear vision of an answer in front of me but didn't have time to write it 'cause I had to leave to school. So as I was in school I already forgot what I wanted to say and thought "weeelll...I'll do a bit of zazen when I get home and give an answer from a more clear mind then now." Well, right after school I fell asleep and after I woke up my friend invited me to a very interesting and bizarre energy healing class to which I took part...and just got home and now I really feel all fuzzy, funny and weird in my mind and body and it's almost as if I had nothing to say to you guys...who kindly gave me good answers and questions. :D

Thanks you anyway Monsoon and Greg for your kindness and I'll still go and try my best now!

About meditation...often when people talk how they meditate, some say they do seated, some say they feel like tai chi or other martial arts are meditation for them...others say simply "I walk, I draw, it's meditation for me" The line between meditating and not meditating is bizarre and thin and often I hear that what's imporant in the practice of meditation (for example zazen) is the time between the meditations...to be more clear: be in the meditative state between the practices.

Now I don't claim to be very experienced in tai chi or other martial arts or different sorts of meditation of any sort...but what I've experienced is that whether it's zazen, tai chi, yoga or qi gong that I do...the feeling afterwards is often more relaxed, more aware of my thoughts and feelings, and a more 'empty mind'. Now as I was sort of comparing zazen and ZZ...I didn't suggest that the practice would be the same or the results...but what I've experienced myself is that in both practices, having less thoughts helps, makes the "being" easier. A friend of mine said to me that my idea is wrong, because ZZ has an intention that zazen doesn't. He might be right, and anyway I haven't been doing ZZ so much and lately none at all.'

I grew interest towards meditation practice from martial arts. I was doing an art where I felt so many times great empty mind feelings...or let's say that the moments when I would succesfully dodge an attack etc...were the same moments where my mind was empty and everything just "happened", without my conscious interference...later, as I started to study what meditation is...I thought of these kinds of feelings as 'satori.'

While many people think of tai chi as moving meditation...and the popular belief of its taoist roots...being an art of self cultivation for many...isn't it often said that through the practice of tai chi, one might seek to become "one with tao"? As I read texts from many popular writers with eastern interest, they often mention to be "one with the nature" etc...then again there's zazen and: "become zen" In my understandment, it's all about having and empty mind, being enlightened so to say. Of course I'm not trying to claim that by doing zazen you learn tai chi or anything silly like that...I'm only often having thoughts that does the different practices bring actually the same results in the spiritual sense?


Monsoon:

Not sure 'balance' is the right word here. I don't do more of one if I do less of another, if that's what you mean. I have a kind of schedule. When I get up I do surya namaskar (sun salutation yoga) just to limber up before I have breakfast and go to work.


Good for you! My flatmate just yesterday tried to help me with the surya namaskar. I haven't been doing them for ages and I noticed that I have absolutely no muscle in my arms/shoulders anymore. :D

However, I quite often work on a stance or a transition throughout the day in unobtrusive (I hope!) ways and places - I have been known to push the shopping cart while mud stepping (what? sometimes you just cannot help yourself and get taken by the moment)


Know the feeling! Definetely, life is a dance. :)

Regarding ZZ, I consider it a distinct and separate practice to my sitting meditation - different focus and all that.


Well...I do agree with you...although I tried to explain something deep and mystical about the similarities above. ;)
But what I do find similar is the stillness and coping with physical/emotional pain and their connection with each other...and how to overcome it...by often: accepting it...at least for me!

Greg Jah:

I usually do abuot 15 minutes of qigong & zz before my morning sitting. I find the movement helps wake my body up and puts my head in a good place to sit.


Know what you mean, it does help! Though...Lately as I've only done zazen...I've also find it interesting to just go sit right after I wake up...kinda like accepting everything as it is right from the beginning of the day...but this is by no means meant to be criticism of any sort! I'm just experiencing, that's all.

Zazen, on the other hand, is for me more about observing my mind's movement, my tendency to attach to my thoughts, and the urges I get to act on those thoughts.


I understand this...but do you also feel that some of what you said there, is also present in ZZ...especially in the moments of feeling discomfort?

If you don't mind, can you share a bit more about where the lack of motivation might be coming from?


I would like to but let's say that for some of the reasons being too personal I can't...but I can say that I'm not getting what I'm hoping for, feeling unsatisfied and I have some long term problems with body which often really brings me down. You can P.M me though if you want!

Thanks for listening...I hope I didn't go too untopic...
caesar
 

Re: Meditation

Postby Monsoon » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:51 pm

Kind words Caesar, 'preciate the sentiments.

May I just add a couple of things that have sprung to mind?

1. My 'schedule', although it looks packed is really very flexible. There are a lot of practices that ar interchangeable, and I often do change them to suit some subtle differences in how I feel at a particular moment. For instance, I usually do my devotions before sitting meditation (breath following variety), and yet some days I find that instead of zuo chan (zazen) I will sit with my mala and chant - either mentally of verbally, and usually either for Amitabha or Guanyin. The point being that I still benefit from having some sort of practice.

2. Feelings of dissatisfaction happen to everyone at one stage or another. It is often said that the plateaus between the times of advancement are the real test of our commitment to our practices. I concur with this as I too have had to battle against lassitude at times. It's part of the process, but I will state that I believe it is far more difficult to push through the plateaus alone than with a group of like-minded enthusiasts! I struggle having no local Pure Land sangha AND no local taiji groups AND no local or even national groups of LHBF practitioners. That's not to even mention the lack of qigong players around my area. It is tough but it is also a fire in which your character is further tempered.

Hang in there, man! :D
peace and harmony

monsoon
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Re: Meditation

Postby Monsoon » Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:01 pm

Oh, a third thing:

3. Meditation. It doesn't matter what form of meditation people do as long as it is a suitable practice for themselves. However, drawing a strict boundary line between time of meditation and time when not meditating (in some way) is quite bizarre, and yet extremely common in the West (not so sure about the East, never really posed the question there - will do so next visit!).

Thinking of what you have said about this drawing of a line I am very much reminded of the following verse concerning religion from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran - well worth reading carefully in my opinion (I have emphasised some bits in Bold Type)

And an old priest said, "Speak to us of Religion."
And he said:
Have I spoken this day of aught else?
Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,
And that which is neither deed nor reflection, but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul, even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?
Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?
Who can spread his hours before him, saying, "This for God and this for myself;
This for my soul, and this other for my body?"
All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self.

He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.
The wind and the sun will tear no holes in his skin.
And he who defines his conduct by ethics imprisons his song-bird in a cage.
The freest song comes not through bars and wires.
And he to whom worship is a window, to open but also to shut, has not yet visited the house of his soul whose windows are from dawn to dawn.
Your daily life is your temple and your religion.
Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,
The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.
For in revery you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures.
And take with you all men:
For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself
lower than their despair.

And if you would know God be not therefore a solver of riddles.
Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children.
And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain.
You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees.
peace and harmony

monsoon
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Re: Meditation

Postby caesar » Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:43 pm

Thank you for that verse Monsoon! I really liked felt inspired for a while...

I got a book from Khalil Gibran as a christmas present from my sister a couple of years ago but for some reason never really started it, perhaps I'll do it now...or soon as I have time. :)

Cheers!
caesar
 

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