I managed to do 20 minutes on my mat and cushion today, although I was having a 
little bit of OCD finickiness about sitting on the floor.

Are koans useful on your own, or should they not be attempted without a teacher?

--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, <billsm...@...> wrote:
>
> DP,  Two corrections.
> 
> Tip #1 below about breathing should read: ".a posture that 'opens up' your
> hips so you are NOT cramping your belly area."
> 
> Tip #2 below about focusing should read: "This the same THING (not 'think')
> you do with your awareness."
> 
> .Bill!
> 
>  
> 
> From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
> Of billsm...@...
> Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 10:40 AM
> To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: RE: [Zen] Having trouble getting back into zazen
> 
>  
> 
>   
> 
> DP,
> 
>  
> 
> 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.
> 
> .Bill!
> 
>  
> 
>  
> 
> From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
> Of DP
> 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> ,
> <BillSmart@> 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
> were
> > 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
> inhale.
> > 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
> don't
> > think you ever need to go more than 20 minutes at home, but most zen
> centers
> > 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
> Behalf
> > 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
> getting
> > 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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