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#388228 - 04/14/08 08:35 AM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: horizon]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
I was so put off by my first attempt at meditating...that I didn't go back. Partly because I was [censored] off at the teacher, and partly because it was such an uncomfortable experience.

I started karate, and thought it might be a good idea to incorporate meditation into a larger practice. Knowing next to nothing about the topic/endeavor...I decide on a local karate zendo. I'm told to sit, facing the wall..and that's it. In the space of 30 minutes, I go:

-from 'this is okay...I can handle this'
-to 'this is boring'
-to 'my frigging legs/back are killing me'
-to 'how does one not think and not do anything without going crazy?'
-starting to panic now from the pain, 'it's only been 10 minutes?..I'm going to pull my hair out'

Bright thought occurs...I remember giving birth and concentrating on breathing. I try that...find the breath...watch it go in/down and up/out...the pain recedes...some kind of balance occurs where the pain in the background somehow is monitored.

-I'm zooming now...no thoughts...just breath
-then on the tip/end of an out breath...it feels like this soft bubble pops...and out blows all this grief. I actually have the time to abstractly watch it come at me and think 'I wonder where that came from'...before it hits me like a wall of bricks, and my composure is completely gone.

Don't know what to think about that, approach the teacher for some input and am told 'keep looking'. I get really [censored], 'What is this...some kind of zen gimmick?' So, I keep looking, get some insights, and decide to forego sitting.

'Screw this sitting meditation stuff...I'll stick to kata.'

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#388229 - 04/15/08 11:03 PM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: harlan]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
have you ever been as cynical as me - where I imagine the people teaching Zen/Zendo, know the lingo, procedure and tradition (ie the mechanics)...but at the same time, they haven't a clue?

even get that feeling? persoanlly, I'm not sure why 'classes' are even required of 'Zendo'. why do you need formal training of something which occurs naturally? It's like the usefulness of 'natural childbirthing classes'...well, if it's natural, WHY does a couple need classes?

lol. Actually, I had sortof a unique combination: I participated in natural birthing classes in the US, but the actual birth was in Japan. what resulted was a natural birth that lasted 8 hours, and me, as a spectator trying to incorporate the US training - hyperventilating.

Same kind of thing is common in US-version Zendo (which means trained for a short time in Japan then returning to US. The tourist version of Zendo). It's hyperventalization.

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#388230 - 04/15/08 11:51 PM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: Ed_Morris]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Hmm...I did find the birthing classes useful actually. I think my husband might have as well...if he had ever shown up.

I don't think it's untoward to look to others for advice, even in the simplest of endeavors. Natural isn't always nice.

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#388231 - 04/16/08 12:00 AM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: harlan]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
"are you as cynical as me"


-by your answer, I'll take that as a "no".

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#388232 - 04/16/08 07:10 AM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: Ed_Morris]
slix Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 26
Loc: Boston, MA
Well I've been practicing meditation for about a year now and here's what I can tell you.

Stop being so hard on yourself!

Everyone's always like... 'my mind races, i can't concentrate blah blah' for some reason I think Americans have this picture of perfect focus lasting for hours for these "special" people who can meditate. Before you start your session toss all that bs out the window. Everyone who meditates will tell you it's a pain. All of our brains get active when we try to quiet them. But through meditation we can realize that the working of our brain are just that... all in our mind and not anymore real than any other thought we have, whether it's fear or anxiety.

Now there has been a lot of great stuff put down in here all ow me to just give you my rundown for starting meditation. Sounds like you have a cozy spot to do it that's good, make sure you've got cushions (zafu/zabuton if you got it, some firm pillows if you don't). You want to sit so that just your rear is on the edge of the pillow allowing your legs to tilt down slightly. This allows you to maintain curvature in your spine. We're taught here to bring our hands together, placing the left fingers over the right in a cup with the thumbs touching lightly (think of holding a piece of paper between them) in the middle, centered on your belly button. Now before you start remember that you will not be perfect, that no one but enlightened zen masters can achieve such focus. That's not to say it's unattainable, just to say that for most of us we're looking for that 5-10s of enlightenment. Also place in your mind the thought of how you will treat yourself when you sit. Try to envision before you start how you would treat a very small child that is walking down the sidewalk with you, and tries to cross the street without looking. They don't know any better so gently help them back onto the sidewalk. Use this for yourself when your mind wanders.

Now for the actual sit.

I generally start with a focus on the breathe.
Specifically the space just at the tip of my nose where I can feel the in and out breathe. Tying into your breathe is the easiest way to feel 'right now' since it's going to happen no matter what you have to say about it unless you're dead...

Counting 1 on the in breathe and 2 on the out, up to 10. I try this a few times until I feel I've sufficiently focused on my breathe.

Then from there you can approach it several different ways.
In the form of Zen Sword I study we learn mind training where we see ourselves practicing kata in the 1st person as if we were doing it in the room. Trying it faster and clearer each time we repeat it in our mind. If you're a martial artist I would think you can adopt this. For me and most here it has given a great means of attaining more clear mind in meditation. That said if you want something else often a mantra helps your mind to focus.

Such things as love, compassion, family, joy, empathy, a name of one of the boddhisattvas (Avalokiteshvara, Kwannon, Kwan Seum Bosal) can all be your constant focus. They will of course get overrun by your mind but that will just help to show you as you slowly bring yourself back to focus like you would that child, that you can retrain your mind and you can gain a bit of clarity.

Also don't strain yourself at first. For the first month I started meditation I just did 5minutes in my bed before I slept. Might not have been the most useful application but it still beat doin nothing. Hope this helps.
_________________________
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#388233 - 04/16/08 03:09 PM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: Ed_Morris]
jkdwarrior Offline
Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 341
Loc: belfast, Antrim, Ireland
Quote:



even get that feeling? persoanlly, I'm not sure why 'classes' are even required of 'Zendo'. why do you need formal training of something which occurs naturally?




Because you learn so many bad habits over the years that you make it so much harder for yourself. Its kind of the same way that tai chi shows you how to move naturally and efficiently. The way most non MAists move is inefficient and puts excess stress on the body.
A tai chi class will show them an easier way to use their body, a zen class will do the same for the mind.
_________________________
Sticks n stones'll break my bones, but if I land the first one, you're in trouble!

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#388234 - 04/16/08 03:23 PM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: harlan]
JMWcorwin Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/13/07
Posts: 731
Loc: SoCal, USA
harlan -
I read a book on Zen that put it in a light I had never seen before. You might like if you're still interested in meditiation. (or even if you're not) It's called "Hardcore Zen". I don't remember the name of the author but he's a former punk rocker and the book is written from that point of view. Very straight forward and non "yoda-like". You won't get too many riddles.

Give it a look and it may change your mind to give it a try again. Or maybe not. Either way it's interesting reading.
_________________________
There are no PERFECT techniques, only perfect execution for the situation at hand. ~Corwin

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#388235 - 04/16/08 04:58 PM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: JMWcorwin]
jkdwarrior Offline
Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 341
Loc: belfast, Antrim, Ireland
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX3uFN_LQnU&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qweBks3thcM&feature=related

Here's a good way to look at it if you're put off by the whole mystical idea people seem to have about. I personally don't see the necessity to do so. As soon as you make it seem mysterious, it puts off a lot of men since we're all logical and rational beings. I think some people just want to look cool.
Meditation is just practice for not being manipulated. You learn to gain control of you're mind because as soon as you respond emotionally you lose it. The first thing you should do is recognise when you are, you'll probably be surprised.
_________________________
Sticks n stones'll break my bones, but if I land the first one, you're in trouble!

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#388236 - 04/16/08 05:42 PM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: jkdwarrior]
Tashigae Offline
Mister Bendy

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 690
Loc: Samarobriva, Gallia
Quote:

I think some people just want to look cool.



Definitely.

(but meditation isn't the easy way to that)

Quote:

we're all logical and rational beings.



Definitely not.

(everyday, people keep reminding me how UNTRUE this is)
_________________________
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#388237 - 04/16/08 08:03 PM Re: A newbie's pathetic attempt at 1st time medita [Re: Tashigae]
jkdwarrior Offline
Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 341
Loc: belfast, Antrim, Ireland
I know, its just what people seem to want to hear. Looking at it now, it was an attempt from me to get people to warm to my viewpoint. Tell them how brilliant they are and they relinquish control.
_________________________
Sticks n stones'll break my bones, but if I land the first one, you're in trouble!

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