Hi, everyone! I know there have been oodles of "which school is right for me" and "how do I find a teacher" threads. I'm trying to trust karma and prayer on this one and trying to till the soil as best I can beforehand, as it were
My question more concerns the time between now and then.
Right now, I do many little things throughout the day. I try to practice moments of mindfulness when waking up, going through a door, departing, arriving, sitting down, before meals, and things like that. I also take a long walk every day and use not stepping on any bugs as my focus. If they risk getting crushed on a road, I move them to the side. I try to send compassion to any creatures, human or otherwise, that I see.
I do have a hard time sitting X number of minutes a day in meditation. More often, I'll be sitting already and think, "I feel like meditating" and focus on my breath or something in my line of sight for fifteen or twenty minutes. I find if I try to make it a point of "TIME TO MEDITATE!", it feels like a struggle and I have to deal with weird feelings of resentment.
I've also read lots of books like everyone on here
Unfortunately, I think I've taken to building up a pretty storehouse of new concepts that I find hard to apply. Dharma is so tempting to make into a mental exercise. The one teaching I've found resonates deeply where I can start to shut off the conceptualizing part of my brain is compassion. I find tonglen satisfying and natural. When I try to expand the compassion to all beings, a strong feeling of openness arises in my chest, from inside my ribcage. The more I send compassion out, the stronger the sensation expands outward past my body. I don't know what that means if anything. I've been ignoring it. I also get a big doofy smile on my face. Is smiling while meditating a no-no?
The only sangha I've been to more than once is a Zen priory. I knew I had to go back when I felt very irritated and ridiculous in the simplicity of zazen. I read somewhere that revulsion in practice is very important to pay attention to. I also heard many times that practice shouldn't just make you feel good about yourself, because the point isn't pleasure, even otherworldly.
So I have these conflicting bits of practice. I find compassion practices transformative and wonderful, but I worry about developing attachment and ignoring the gritty stuff I need to work on. Then I find zazen irritating which must mean something and it has yet to reveal that to me, in proper Zen fashion
And recently, I tried some visualization meditations. Then I read that vajrayana-like meditations can be dangerous to the unprepared, so I'm slightly terrified to do them again. The few I did were very, very moving. I felt the residual effect last for several minutes after I stopped meditating.
This long, meandering post reflects my state of mind
I feel very unfocused. I don't even care about a school at this point... Do I gravitate towards what comes naturally? Do I lean towards what I actively resist in zazen? Do I investigate visualization further or will that harm me? Is this all nonsense and I should just go with the flow?
Thank you for reading yet another long post by me, and for any insight! Peace.