Thank you all for your replies. I'm not good at answering individual quotes but I will just provide info to answer most. Someone asked what I had read. Well, all of Brad Warners books, Alan Watts - Way of Zen, Three pillars on Zen, Wes Nisker - Buddha Nature, TNH - teachings of the Buddha, Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist, What the Buddha Taught, Stephen Bodian - Wake up now, to name a few. I listen to tons of Dharma talks from many different teachers. I don't particularly like reading any of the Sutras or ancient teachings...I find them difficult to understand and hard to read.
What method do I use? None really. I have given up counting my breath as I lose it after counting to 10 2 or 3 times. Now I just sit there and let the mind calm naturally. This normally happens after 10-20 mins if it happens at all. Maybe I should try mantras or something.
Was I taught? No, not at all. I thought that by reading and listening I would learn enough. I mean, all I have to do is sit there right? I fail to see what a teacher could tell me that I can't learn from places like this or books by accomplished masters. Then again, by the looks of it, I am totally wrong
I was visiting a Zen Center for a while but I developed an aversion to the place. I can't pinpoint one single reason - I see lighting incense, statues, bowing and prostrations as resembling religion too much and pointless. It feels too much like worship (I grew up RC). Also I find the general atmosphere too rigid. I felt too tense and was continually afraid of messing something up.
I had Dokusan with the teacher there once and I told him I was anxious. He told me to just sit with that anxiety and get to know it and not too run away from it. Well, I already knew that (from places like this or books by accomplished masters).They also have regular retreats but there is just no way I could commit to three to five days out of work and away from the three kids I have. I have issues with being cooped up like that with so many people so close... hygiene and that. In fact, even sitting in a room with other people so close to me meditating, bellies rumbling, coughing, sniffling etc, turns me. So I ended up hating going the place altogether.
Have you changed any aspects of your general lifestyle? Well, yes. I quit smoking, quit eating mammals (i know but it's a start), and quit drinking altogether after years of drinking waaay too much. I was going to take the precepts at the Zen Center but the Rokusu sewing part drove me nuts and I realized that I didn't have the time or the patience to finish it in time for the ceremony. I would rather just buy one already made but I don't think that suggestion sat well with the teacher.
Anyway so that's it so far really. I have been going solo now for quite a while and if I'm not going anywhere near the Zen Center, I have no chance of meeting any kind of a teacher even if I wanted to. Maybe Zen isn't an ideal path for me. Maybe I should try A different tradition? Problem is, the reason why I stuck with Zen in the first place was that it was the least religious of all the traditions. Maybe Buddhism isn't the correct path for me period? Because the more I read and practice, the more resentment and confusion I feel.