I've been doing zazen for over 40 years and I ALWAYS start just as I
described below, including first counting the exhales and inhales, then
counting the exhale/inhale cycle, then following the breathes and finally
settling into shikan taka.

If I have trouble focusing on any part of counting or following the
breathes, I just stay in that technique, or even go back to the previous
technique, until I can focus well before moving forward.  Some sitting
periods I never get to shikan taza in the 20 or 30 minutes I sit, but that
doesn't happen too often now - but does happen occasionally.  I don't
consider this a big deal.  It's 'all good'.

Two more tips:

-          - Breathing is VERY IMPORTANT to zazen.  Please be sure you're
belling-breathing correctly, and that includes sitting in a posture that
contributes to that - a posture that 'opens up' your hips so you are
cramping your belly area.  Again, full-lotus is best for this but not
absolutely necessary.  It helps move your hips open up and straightens out
your back.  I can't sit full-lotus.  I can sit in half-lotus, but often just
sit cross-legged.  Be sure your back is straight.  Many teachers say you
should feel like you're 'lifting the sky' with your head.

-          - When you get to the point of dropping the
following-the-breaths, it's very much like defocusing your gaze.  When
gazing you first focus on a point on the floor or wall, and then relax and
defocus your eyes.  In this way you can still see, you are visually aware of
what's in front of you, but you are not focusing on it.  This the same think
you do with your awareness.  At first you focus your awareness on 1 through
10, then just in-out, and finally defocus entirely.  I think of it like
focusing sunlight through a magnifying glass and moving the focus closer and
closer to the floor or some other object.  When you start the sunlight is a
large circle.  The more your focus the smaller and smaller the circle
becomes, and the more intense it is.  BUT, when you are focusing it as small
as you can get it, and then move just one step farther, the circle
disappears altogether.  That's what shikan taza is like.




From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 9:20 AM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Having trouble getting back into zazen



I have been doing basically as you describe. It was fine with 10 minutes,
but making the move from 10 to 20 or 30 was very hard. 

I had stopped doing the counting, should I maybe get back to it?
--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Zen_Forum%40yahoogroups.com> ,
<billsm...@...> wrote:
> Dave,
> I don't know if the feeling of boredom will pass for you. It did for all
> people I know of that sit. Of course maybe it didn't for those that tried
> sitting but quit.
> How are you sitting? I suggest you find a competent teacher to instruct
> you. Second best is find an instructional book or website. There's are
> many good sites on the web, or check out JMJM's site. He's a frequent
> poster on the Zen Forum and will probably respond to this.
> If all else fails, follow these instructions:
> 1. Sit in a comfortable position. It should be a position in which
> the back is upright but not supported, and that opens up your hips so that
> you can breathe well. Full-lotus is preferable. Half-lotus or cross-legged
> is okay. Kneeling is okay. Sitting upright on the front of a
> straight-backed chair is okay too.
> 2. When you first get into the position close your eyes and sway from
> your hips like an inverted pendulum, first back and forth and then side to
> side. Slowly decrease the angle of your swaying until you are upright.
> This will help you find an upright position that puts the least amount of
> strain on your back and legs.
> 3. Fold your hands one inside the other and rest them on your legs.
> 4. Open your eyes, lower your gaze to a point about 3 or 4 ft in front
> of you. If you're facing a wall pick a point low on the wall as if you
> gazing about 3 or 4 ft in front of you. A solid-colored wall is best.
> White or cream-colored is best. De-focus your eyes.
> 5. Take a deep inhale and exhale slowly. Do this 3 times. Your
> breathing should be 'belly breathing' - your belly should be going out and
> in with the breathes. It should NOT be 'chest breathing' - where your
> shoulders go up and down with the breathes. These should not be so deep as
> to strain you, but as deep as is comfortable.
> 6. Take a deep inhale and then count '1' (in your mind) while exhaling
> slowly.
> 7. Count '2' while inhaling slowly.
> 8. Repeat until you've reached '10', and then start over.
> 9. If you lose count, or find your mind wandering, or find you're on a
> number greater than 10, start over.
> 10. Count your exhales and inhales like this until you can do it
> consistently without losing count.
> 11. Then change and count '1' on your exhale/inhale cycle, '2' on your
> next exhale/inhale cycle. Do this until you can do it well.
> 12. Then change and drop the counting, and only 'follow the breathes',
> just direct your attention to following the breath as you exhale and
> Do this until you can do it well.
> 13. Then drop the 'following' the breathe and 'just sit'. This is shikan
> taza (clear mind). This is zazen.
> I'd suggest you only sit as long as you feel comfortable. If that's 10
> minutes, then that's okay. Just sit 10 minutes at a time. Sit this way for
> a couple days or a week and then jump it up to 15 minutes, then 20. I
> think you ever need to go more than 20 minutes at home, but most zen
> sit at least 30 minute or even 40 minute periods.
> Hope this helps.Bill!
> From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Zen_Forum%40yahoogroups.com>
[mailto:Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Zen_Forum%40yahoogroups.com> ] On
> Of DP
> Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 8:52 PM
> To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Zen_Forum%40yahoogroups.com> 
> Subject: [Zen] Having trouble getting back into zazen
> I've tried to do the half-hour sitting in a chair, but I find myself
> bored after 10 minutes. Will this pass? Will I be able to do longer in the
> future if I keep it up?
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