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Welcome! 04 Mar 2011 17:12 #204

Whitney -- was the "Big Mind Zen Center" a basic Zen center like the San Francisco or Los Angeles Zen Centers (SFSZ and ZCLA) or was it more focused on the "Big Mind" technique and thus somewhat different?
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Welcome! 04 Mar 2011 23:51 #205

I think there's an interesting discussion to be had (which I was having with a friend today) about entering and leaving different communities. I'll start a thread on it. -Ona
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Welcome! 05 Mar 2011 19:04 #206

Perhaps this calls for a new topic/discussion??
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Welcome! 05 Mar 2011 19:09 #207

I will respond to this under Ona's new thread...
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Welcome! 21 Mar 2011 13:02 #208

How's everyone doing these days? It's spring, albeit early spring. The weather here in Chicago is still cool and dreary. I await the usual explosion of color about two weeks from now.
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Welcome! 21 Mar 2011 15:07 #209

Delightful! Little flowers are up. Faced with three deadlines, taxes and a business trip, so little time to post lately. Hope to have more time for that in the coming weeks. Happy spring, everyone!
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Welcome! 21 Mar 2011 17:35 #210

Happy Spring, indeed.

I've been taking a break from work and school since Wednesday, so I'm feeling pretty well rested. It's been nice to sleep in and spend time with my wife during the day.

I got lots of good practice time in. I usually only practice for 15-20 minutes at a time, during breaks at work. I've been sitting much longer this week since I've been home and all. It's fun to watch experience unfold in whichever way it does.

Looking forward to hearing from others.

Jackson
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Welcome! 07 Apr 2011 15:22 #211

Hi, everybody.

I'm Zach. I'm a practitioner (sounds slightly more flexible than 'Buddhist') in the Thai forest tradition here in New York City. My primary sangha is Dharma Punx NYC, though I pop into the zen temple in Brooklyn when I can wake up early enough.

I'm the sort of person—and I assume there's many of us—who understood what the tenets of Buddhism were, in an academic sense, from a pretty early age, and immediately recognized them and affirmed them as true without really doing any practice. From age ~15 to age 26, where I am now, I passed through various periods of greater or lesser intellectual engagement with the various traditions—usually Zen. Sometimes the principles of Zen and Buddhism in general were closer to the forefront of my mind, sometimes farther away; sometimes I was reading a lot about the various schools and traditions, or about Zen aesthetics, or whatever. But over the last six months or so, the essential problems of suffering, dissatisfaction and attachment had been asserting themselves to a greater and greater extent, until only a couple months ago I finally decided to fully reengage myself with the dharma, on an active, behavioral level. So I started actively looking for meditation circles and traditions in my area and for the first time I've been regularly going to dharma talks and meditation. And I've been listening to talks pretty much my whole time at work and on the subway since that same time.

So that's where I'm at right now. My meditation muscles are, to say the least, pretty flabby; I haven't regularly sat since 2003. I'm currently coming off a really dispiriting session on Tuesday, where my mind and body seemed to be in constant competition to see which could be in greater discomfort. But I'm working on it.
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Welcome! 07 Apr 2011 16:40 #212

Hi Zach, welcome!

I hope you don't mind that your post has sparked a couple of comments.

-- physical discomfort. I tried for years to sit on the floor on a cushion with my legs crossed and any sit after about 15 to 20 minutes was always dominated by pain in my legs, knees, and back. About four years ago with few exceptions I really dropped that and now sit in a chair, with my feet flat on the floor and my back/body straight. I love this because while I do make sure and maintain a straight posture and if I'm doing 'zazen' I will approximate that posture as well as I can while in the chair -- physical pain isn't a factor in my meditation at all.

Also, A lot of my meditation takes place in my twice daily 2 hour commuter van rides and in those there is no way to maintain any kind of "posture,' so, usually I either pick an object (such as touch of breath on nostrils) and just stick to that as close as possible or, do a more choiceless awareness practice. I can often get very steady awareness momentum on the van using either method and sometimes will reach equanimity and little fruition blips.

What do you think? Is sitting through physical pain from crossed legs an integral part of dharma or optional?
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Welcome! 07 Apr 2011 17:00 #213

I'll be honest: right now I am more comfortable meditating in a chair, and a lot of my insistence to sit half-lotus or burmese comes from a place of ego. That said, I don't think ALL of it does—pretty much every source is agreed that full lotus is the most stable and long-term effective position for sitting, so I'm ok with continuing to try to stretch myself out. I mean, it's no surprise; I'm an awfully stiff guy, I've got a bad back, bad hips—but I'm also still of the mindset that those things can improve with effort.

That said, I've had at least some amount of pain in nearly every meditation session and I think that often it can be a terribly useful mindfulness aid. I can't think of a better object for demonstrating the principle of arising and falling away, for demonstrating the principles of papanca and the many self-inflicted arrows, than that sort of sensation. And usually I am able to attend to the pain, notice it, and allow it to recede from my consciousness.

Unfortunately on Tuesday I wasn't so skillful, and the dealbreaker was that the pain and the agitation started really building on each other. So I became agitated, and tense, and then more attendant to my pain, which unfortunately destabilized my concentration further, which got me agitated... Eventually I just had to stop, really.
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Welcome! 07 Apr 2011 17:16 #214

Well, I have really bad arthritis in my left lower back so I can no longer sit on the floor cross-legged even if I wanted to, which is good for me, in a way. The chair vs. floor debate is moot.
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Welcome! 07 Apr 2011 18:15 #215

Welcome, Zach!

For the record, I also do my sitting practice in a chair. I have a cushion, but my hips are terribly inflexible, making even the Burmese posture quite uncomfortable. I'm hoping to practice some hatha yoga one of these days, when I can make time for it. It will probably be a couple years down the road.

Getting settled into a meditation practice can be pretty difficult in the beginning, like learning any skill. The trick is to follow the instructions as best you can and allow progress to occur as it will. I think it's natural to expect gradual, evenly distributed progress. But, it doesn't tend to work that way. There are long plateau stretches followed by short spurts of significant growth. I say this to encourage you. Keep putting in the practice time and you will get better. It doesn't always suck this bad


Jackson
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Welcome! 07 Apr 2011 20:37 #216

I'll third this! :)

I've done nearly all of my meditation burmese style but either on a sofa or on the bed with pillows as supports where needed (I have a bad ankle which doesn't do well if squashed against a hard surface and creaky knees, too). I have also done many sits on a hard chair, sitting at the edge of the chair with feet flat on the floor - great when you are being struck my those periods of sleepiness. At my age I'm not sure I'll ever get flexible enough to fold myself up like a pretzel.

I also sometimes meditate laying down - someone said it's not a bad idea, as it is likely that some day you will be stuck in bed (dying, old, injured, sick) and want to meditate, and it's actually a hard to meditate at first in an unfamiliar position. :D

I also have done meditations on trains, planes and in automobiles. I also highly recommend meditating while your neighbor does renovations or argues in the next apartment. A great exercise is maintaining attention and including sensory discomfort.

Cheers.
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Welcome! 07 Apr 2011 21:13 #217

If one meditates in groups, especially in a zen center, there can be a tendancy to become obsessed with whether one is sitting in the right way, on whether it is okay to use a chair, etc. I know a lot of zen teachers/students have the opinion that zazen is only zazen if one is sitting on the floor on a cushion in the exact posture described by Dogen -- seriously

While I do love sitting with others, one of the benefits of having a solidary practice is that, of course, peer pressure is not a factor. And, one of the drawbacks is that there is no one to call you on your shit.

There will be a suggestion soon to move this topic to another forum. I will if I have anything else to contribute.
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Welcome! 08 Apr 2011 11:41 #218

"There will be a suggestion soon to move this topic to another forum. I will if I have anything else to contribute."

Okay, I suggest you..... talk about whatever you want to talk about here ;-)
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Welcome! 19 Apr 2011 02:05 #219

My 0.02 on the posture thing...while now I sit Burmese most of the time (unless I am doing a really long single sit of > 60m), when I started this whole thing I sat seiza. It is not straight-up Dogen, but it is ego-strokingly zen like. And a proper seiza bench produces very little discomfort, I find.
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Welcome! 22 May 2011 18:37 #220

Hey All,

Just joined and figured I'd say hi. I know some of you from KFD (where I've mostly been lurking) and some others from the DhO (where I actually do post on rare occasions). It's good to find a spot where like-minded practitioners still discuss Buddha Dharma and practice :)

A couple of months ago I got off a monthlong retreat at Spirit Rock where I got one of my deepest wishes fulfilled - that is the wish to stop craving for path. For the first time in almost 2 years, it doesn't really matter where I am and what attainments I do or don't have and I must say, it's liberating. My practice these days tends mostly towards samatha (using either the breath or Metta) and is somewhat inspired by Bhante Vimalaramsi's readings of MN118 and some of what was recently posted on the KFD on the practice taught by Ajahn Chah.

That's about it for now.
Eran.
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Welcome! 22 May 2011 22:32 #221

Eran:

Welcome and thanks for the intro.



Do you think the fact that you've stopped craving path and attainments mean that you are now in "equanimity?"



Or, is your practice now completely divorced from such maplike concerns?
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Welcome! 23 May 2011 01:57 #222

Welcome from me too, Eran.

Interesting that the commonality that's becoming apparent, among this little group, is a lack of fixation on goals/attainments/some kind of authoritative external validation. I must say, it's wonderfully refreshing!
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Welcome! 23 May 2011 03:18 #223

Thanks for the welcome, Michael and Kate.

From a map perspective, I think I've spent some serious time in Equanimity (maybe 3-4 months leading up to and including the last retreat). All through that time, craving for path would arise and often become a serious hurdle in my practice. I would spend my time sitting time getting into some pretty rarified states (either through jhana or noting) only to be hit by various manifestations of desperate grasping. I slowly got better at seeing that happening and was able to note that more and more but still, eventually would fall into it. I spent quite a lot of time (off cushion) worrying, analyzing, anxiously waiting for "it" to happen.

At my last retreat I've had a few experiences which I thought (and still suspect) were fruitions but that just switched the craving to getting a clear fruition and made the whole thing even more unbearable. After a few days of this and one more possible fruition it was decided in my mind that that was it and that I'm done for now. I'm still not 100% certain what those experiences were and they never repeated off-retreat but the sense of being done has been pretty stable since.

By the way, when you suggested that I may be in Equanimity, there was a pang of pain, the mind protested (something like "no, i've got stream entry!") but the whole thing is immediately seen and pretty easily released. So the instinct to cling to attainment is still there but it's easier to see through that.

PS.
I posted a pretty detailed description of what I was going through at that retreat on the DhO and was getting some good help from Tarin. It's on this thread, starting 3/25.
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Welcome! 23 May 2011 14:40 #224

After Kate's comment I started this big long reply in which I was explaining why I WAS interested in maps and then on to what was or wasn't equanimity, dark night, fruition, etc. etc. and then I got so confused and frustrated that I finally just let go and deleted the whole thing which felt great.
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Welcome! 23 May 2011 16:53 #225

Don't get me wrong, Michael, the maps have helped me considerably. Having clear attainable goals, knowing that I'm making progress is very helpful for me. There were times, however, that knowledge of the maps became a hindrance as I got caught up in that craving for attainment. It is that craving that I am glad to be free of. The mind still does what it does and occasionally analyzes states to figure out what's going on. The difference is, there's now much much less hanging on that analysis and the result of that is freedom. May not be ultimate freedom but I'll take it :)
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Welcome! 28 Jun 2011 14:19 #226

Hello again.

I've been out for a long time. First I caught pneumonia. Then I went on a vacation to get better. Now I'm back ;-)
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Welcome! 28 Jun 2011 15:32 #227


Hello again.
I've been out for a long time. First I caught pneumonia. Then I went on a vacation to get better. Now I'm back ;-)

-cmarti

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Welcome! 28 Jun 2011 19:39 #228

Glad you are better.
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