Plenty of study, no practice...

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Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby ChangYuan » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:37 am

I'm quite sure that this is not a new dilemma, that someone here either has gone through this, or knows someone who has, so I come asking for help.

I do plenty of study, read books and such, and some chanting here and there. But, no sitting. Partly because I am a very big guy, so its not very comfortable, and partly because it's very hard to get in the habit of. And I know that it is a major deficiency in my life, as I am very much under the sway of my emotions as of late, and this is not a good thing. Any advice on how to proceed here?
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby Luke » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:02 am

Ultimately meditation is just about the mind. Perfect sitting postures are helpful for various reasons, but they aren't absolutely necessary. Just meditate while sitting on a chair (or anything else that's comfortable and the right height) with a straight back and don't lean against the back of the chair (or whatever you're sitting on). This position is quite good enough.

You could also meditate lying down, but the drawback is that it's so easy to fall asleep instead.

Many sick people have meditated while lying down in the past. At least you're healthy enough to sit up straight.

Good luck with your meditation practice.

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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby catmoon » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:31 am

A practice that works for me lately is to say "I will sit for five minutes". That is an easy committment to make and once you get started, it almost always goes longer. But if it doesn't, the trick is to not worry about it and keep doing it two or three times a day.

Start small, plant a seed.
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby White Lotus » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:16 pm

just breathe.
make a wish, or vow that every breath i take is ten thousand praises to the Buddha of infinite light.

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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby ball-of-string » Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:01 am

<----- I am a large fellow. Don't let that discourage you from sitting.

A mentor told me this, it worked well for me. Set the intention that you will not go to bed at night until you put some time on the zafu, anytime during the day. The best plan is to take care of the practice early. The first time I stayed up late, but then realized I had not meditated and would need to stay up even later...
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby m0rl0ck » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:56 pm

ChangYuan wrote: so its not very comfortable


Developing a consistent sitting practice entails some discomfort for most people, some find it to be one of the more difficult things they have ever done. I took a friend to a zen sitting once, i beleive it was 2 30 minute sits interspersed by about 10 minutes of walking. Afterward she went outside, leaned against the wall of the building and cried. The key imo is to relax as much as possible and not to judge yourself. With most kinds of sitting practice there are really only two things to do anyway, stay and return :) Stay on your concentration object and when you stray just relax and return to it.
Ride the horse in the direction its going.

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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby Indrajala » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:10 pm

Get a hold of this book if you can:

Image

Ajahn Brahm's approach to meditation is quite straightforward, clear and he also elucidates clearly the obstacles one will face including in detail the five hindrances. One of those hindrances is ill-will which can be directed at the practise itself. You won't get far in your meditation if it becomes a chore.

At under $15 it is quite affordable too.
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby Ogyen » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:17 pm

True, discomfort happens. Patience and sticking with it are important. I started with the 15 mins a day. This seemed reasonable to me. If you are in sheer pain, that is no way sit. Sitting is supposed to be conducive to being open to the moment as it rises. It's hard to concentrate if all you can think of is what damage is taking place on your joints from the agony of bending ways your body may not be used to...

I like the planting small seeds idea. I have no intention of seeing anyone come out of a room crying or being the one coming out of the room crying just for a sitting period. It seems like any physical stamina, you gotta work up to it maybe? If there is pain, that is not the same as discomfort, do you make a distinction in this between pain and discomfort? Or are you just talking about a little discomfort that one can just grit teeth and bare the way you might hunger pains?
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby m0rl0ck » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:01 pm

Yeah its not about asceticism or toleration of physical pain, get reasonably comfortable, the middle way. Sort of like training a puppy :) firm but kind.

EDIT: You know what? Strike the firm in the above sentence. Most people are way too judgemental of themselves anyway. The things i wish someone had stressed for me in the beginning, and things i still have to remind myself of, are to relax and be kind to yourself. Did i mention relax? Seriously, relax :)

What kind of practice are you thinking about starting and where are you getting your instructions?
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby catmoon » Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:29 am

Ah yes relax and be kind to yourself. That idea was quite alien to me until I did some guided meditations online, and found the teacher was WAY easier on me than I ever was.

Then I started doing live weekly guided meditations with Chenma and found she went at it the same way.

I'm still working on that. I actually find it difficult to reproduce that really kindly atmosphere when I'm sitting alone.
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:05 pm

catmoon wrote:I'm still working on that. I actually find it difficult to reproduce that really kindly atmosphere when I'm sitting alone.


I find myself being judgemental and tense often too.

I find it helpful sometimes to reread the Anapanasati Sutta. Its a good reminder on the foundations of meditation.

He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'3 He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.'

He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Calming in the above quote is sometimes translated as tranquilizing.
Ride the horse in the direction its going.

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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby catmoon » Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:46 pm

I have no trouble with tranquilizing. (Or not much anyway).

What happens is I have a tendency to enter a sort of hard, cold, dark neutrality.

Yes I realize those terms are contradictory.

OTOH in guided meditations there is much more warmth and kindnesss.

I can't decide whether to pursue true neutrality or compassion, and I see no way to do both.

What mess. I'm so tangled up I don't know what to do and wrestling with it just makes me soooo tired all I can think of is to... to....

Image



ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby LastLegend » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:08 am

ChangYuan wrote:I'm quite sure that this is not a new dilemma, that someone here either has gone through this, or knows someone who has, so I come asking for help.

I do plenty of study, read books and such, and some chanting here and there. But, no sitting. Partly because I am a very big guy, so its not very comfortable, and partly because it's very hard to get in the habit of. And I know that it is a major deficiency in my life, as I am very much under the sway of my emotions as of late, and this is not a good thing. Any advice on how to proceed here?


Practice is in activities of daily living within the realm of Conduct/Concentration/ Wisdom through Buddha/Dharma/Sangha or "Awakened/Truth/Purity." This is what you do in addition to practice of Chan, Tantra, Pure Land, etc.
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby mindyourmind » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:17 pm

catmoon wrote:A practice that works for me lately is to say "I will sit for five minutes". That is an easy committment to make and once you get started, it almost always goes longer. But if it doesn't, the trick is to not worry about it and keep doing it two or three times a day.

Start small, plant a seed.



I also used that little trick to great effect - my "deal" with myself was to get up early in the morning, and if I didn't want to sit that was ok, just go into the shrine room, bow once to the Buddha and leave. No problem.

I never left without sitting.

That said - I get what the OP is saying - that sense of inertia, the "tomorrow I will do better" nonsense that is so easy to believe. My own sitting practice has been absolutely rubbish these last few months.

Hang in there, big guy, it happens to all of us.
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Re: Plenty of study, no practice...

Postby Madeliaette » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:15 pm

Have you considered walking meditation? I started to try that when sitting got to the stage where I was focussing more on my posture than meditation - sitting just doesn't work for me, I simply slump within seconds and keep fixing my posture and 'waste my time' - I currently use lying down or Yogic shoulderstand posture for formal meditation so I don't have to worry about correcting my posture all the time, but walking is more conventionally accepted - and as mentioned above there is a danger you might doze off if lying down. You could also try mindfulness meditation where you simply become mindful of whatever you are doing without the need to have a set posture.
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