[HealthDharma] WELCOME to 'The Zen of Health Ailments, in Body & Mind' Practice Group

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39270

    [HealthDharma] WELCOME to 'The Zen of Health Ailments, in Body & Mind' Practice Group


    Dear All,

    We welcome to this place all our members, and especially those of you who are engaged in Zen Practice while living with a variety of serious health conditions of mind and body, aging and disability. Poor health can present special challenges for any of us, as we learn to accept limitations, pain, frustrations and fear as personal manifestations of our own humanity and impermanence. Master Dogen and the historical Buddha are both said to have known sickness and pain due to severe illness, and all of us must live through such times of life, or witness our loved ones face such times. Aging, sickness and mortality are the questions which, it is said, first led the Buddha on his search for liberation. They are the greatest Koan. In this place within our Treeleaf Forum, we hope to offer discussions, resources, friendship, support and strength to each other, as we face this Koan.

    I sometimes say that, in Zen Wisdom, life is just life, and conditions are just what they are, while judgements and resistance to those conditions happen within our own heart. A person who truly accepts sickness in times of sickness, aging as one ages, death in times of death, will not know "suffering" (Dukkha) in Buddhist meaning, for this Dukkha is our mind's resistance to just what is. There may be pain, loss of motion, loss of abilities, loss of loved ones and our own life, but Dukkha arises in our inability to flow, to allow, to embrace such states.

    However, it is not so easy, and sometimes so very hard.

    The ability to be accepting and allowing, even of our own physical pain, grief and worries, can be learned in practice but, even then, is sometimes far from a simple task. Perhaps a Buddha can always know such allowing, and sometimes any of us can be so allowing of the hard events in our life, even very much of the time ... but we ordinary beings are surely not always so. I am not always so when I am ill, as I recall my own encounter with cancer a few years ago. Any of us can be sometimes afraid or truly panicked, frustrated, broken hearted, psychologically struggling, depressed, financially strained, moaning and wishing it were otherwise. We are only human.

    I hope that, at such times, this "Zen of Health Ailments" Practice Group will help, a little and a lot, to bring peace to those who are worried, strength to those feeling weak, comfort to those sad or grieving, friendship to those feeling alone.

    This "Zen of Health Ailments" Practice Group will be under the watchful eyes of Jinkan, and of our other Teacher, Kokuu, who also has practiced for years with disabilities which often keep him house, bed or wheelchair bound. They will be assisted by several of our novice priest's from Treeleaf's 'Monastery of Open Doors' ... Meian, Onki, Ankai and Seiko who each, respectively, live and practice with a variety of debilitating illnesses and disabilities of body and mind, some very serious, some curable and treatable, some not. Some of our other priests and members of the Treeleaf Community will likewise join in, bringing their own Wisdom, Compassion and real life experiences to this place. I thank them all.

    Allow me to close with these lines from our Eko Dedication and Metta recitals:

    We especially seek tranquility & well being for all creatures now suffering or ill in health.
    May they be serene through all their ills.
    May their lives be at peace and Wisdom pervade the darkness of ignorance.

    * * *

    May they be healthy, and at ease in all their ills,
    May they be at peace, embracing all conditions of life.

    Gassho, Jundo

    satTodayLAH


    * * * * * * * * *

    A Note from Kokuu:

    Beyond our ‘regular’ struggles with life, some Treeleaf members have conditions of the body and mind which present challenges to both how they live, and how they practice Zen. Our lives are always complete and whole just as they are, but it is also the case that these conditions can present day-to-day difficulties which can at times affect everything we do.

    The three broad categories of conditions are:

    1. Physical illness and disability
    2. Mental health conditions (including recovery from addiction)
    3. Neurodiversity (e.g. autism, ADHD)

    At Treeleaf, our approach to these conditions is that, while we welcome any member who abides by the community standards, we acknowledge our limits as a community of Zen practice and expect anyone with a physical or mental health condition or diagnosis of neurodiversity to self-manage that condition together with the appropriate medical professionals. Even though some of our members have training in medicine and mental health, ethically we cannot provide any advice regarding any particular condition.

    However, as a place of practice, what we do encourage is for members who have any of these kinds of conditions to share with us how they practice with them, and to ask for advice from others who similarly practice with their own body and mind challenges, especially during difficult times. Please feel free to use this part of the forum to do just that.

    We are also aware of the social model of disability so welcome suggestions here as to how Treeleaf can better respond to the needs of members with physical and mental challenges, and any accommodations we might need to make. We have already included some of these based on the experiences of current members but recognise that this is an ongoing process.

    If you are dealing with something that you do not wish to share with the whole sangha, an alternative to posting here is to contact Jundo or one of the unsui or priests (with the knowledge that the same limits apply as above that we are able to be a listening ear but not provide any expert advice, aside from ‘talk to your medical professional’). Priests who have particular experience in living with these conditions include:

    Ankai (Parkinson's, cardiac illness, PTSD)
    Kokuu (chronic illness and disability)
    Kotei (social anxiety)
    Koushi (mental health, recovery from addiction)
    Onki (mental health, neurodiversity, gender identity and exploration)
    Seiko (chronic illness, visual impairment)
    Tokan (OCD)


    Thank you all for your practice
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-07-2024, 01:25 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Ankai
    Treeleaf Unsui
    • Nov 2007
    • 893

    #2
    I've been living with Parkinson's, a serious heart condition, and PTSD.
    While I'm in no way a teacher, I have learned to cope with some of the limitations, and adapt practice to what I'm able to do. If there's any way I can be of some use, please feel free to ask!
    I can't teach, but, I might be able to help smooth out some bumps.
    Any time!

    Sat today.
    -Ankai
    Gassho!
    護道 安海

    -Godo Ankai

    I'm still just starting to learn. I'm not a teacher. Please don't take anything I say too seriously. I already take myself too seriously!

    Comment

    • Kokuu
      Treeleaf Priest
      • Nov 2012
      • 6755

      #3
      Thank you, Ankai.

      I have added you to the list of priests who can be contacted by members.

      Gassho
      Kokuu
      -sattoday-

      Comment

      • JasonC
        Member
        • Jul 2016
        • 50

        #4
        The Treeleaf Sangha is a fantastic resource for those living with various health issues. I must continually adapt my practice for my depression, anxiety with panic attacks, tic disorder (a minor form of Tourette syndrome, as my neurologist calls it), bad back and neck, and bad knees/ankles/shoulder from military service; I know many must live with much worse and I applaud this group for being there in support of them. This Sangha has given all the opportunity to practice in the way that works best for each individual. Metta to all who have health ailments.

        Sorry to run long.

        Gassho,

        Jason

        Sat/Lah

        Comment

        • Stephen E. Kauffman
          Member
          • Jun 2023
          • 16

          #5
          I would love to hear how folks deal with (mean "sit") with arthritic knees and hips. I already chair sit to address the knees issue, but the hips pain is discomforting in any position. Suggestions are most welcome. Gassho, Stephen

          Comment

          • Kokuu
            Treeleaf Priest
            • Nov 2012
            • 6755

            #6
            Is there any posture which works for you when you are sitting regularly (i.e. not in meditation), Stephen? Can you normally sit in a chair okay?

            Gassho
            Kokuu
            -sattoday/lah-

            Comment

            • Stephen E. Kauffman
              Member
              • Jun 2023
              • 16

              #7
              Thank you Kokuu,

              I have a good seating situation. I chair sit, which includes a straight back & 90 degree knee bends to the floor. Up until the hip problem began a few weeks ago, I typically sat two 45-60 minute periods in the AM, and an additional 35-45 period in the afternoons. Also, once a week I sit virtually two 30 minute periods with a group from Harrisburg PA (Long River Sangha, lineage of Noda Daito Roshi). Now, however, with the hip issue, the pain is aggravated when I sit longer than 30 minutes.

              Gassho, Stephen

              Sat and Lah
              Last edited by Stephen E. Kauffman; 11-30-2023, 01:58 PM.

              Comment

              • Shonin Risa Bear
                Member
                • Apr 2019
                • 921

                #8
                Long term sangha visitor would love to sit in here with permission. Salt provided gratis.

                gassho
                ds sat/maybe some lah
                Visiting priest: use salt

                Comment

                • Do Mi
                  Member
                  • Apr 2023
                  • 95

                  #9
                  I have issues with hip and back pain. What is helping me is a thick fluffy blanket on the chair, rising a bit behind my back and under thighs, a bit lower in front so my knees are lower than seat. I hope you can find a good setup!

                  Comment

                  • Stephen E. Kauffman
                    Member
                    • Jun 2023
                    • 16

                    #10
                    Gassho,
                    Stephen

                    Comment

                    • Kokuu
                      Treeleaf Priest
                      • Nov 2012
                      • 6755

                      #11
                      Long term sangha visitor would love to sit in here with permission. Salt provided gratis.
                      Your words are always welcome, Shōnin.

                      Gassho
                      Kokuu
                      -sattoday/lah-

                      Comment

                      • Shonin Risa Bear
                        Member
                        • Apr 2019
                        • 921

                        #12
                        Conditions: arthritis, seizures, leukemia. Current setup: Zero Gravity chair (this one costs about $50) with monitor aimed to take in the altar. I am doshi at Bird Haven Zendo about once a week; sometimes I can get up and bop around the altar, sometimes I stay put and do everything at the monitor, using perhaps a small stone as the offering.

                        IMG_20231022_151007.jpg

                        gassho
                        sat/lah
                        Visiting priest: use salt

                        Comment

                        • Do Mi
                          Member
                          • Apr 2023
                          • 95

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Shōnin Risa Bear
                          Conditions: arthritis, seizures, leukemia. Current setup: Zero Gravity chair (this one costs about $50) with monitor aimed to take in the altar. I am doshi at Bird Haven Zendo about once a week; sometimes I can get up and bop around the altar, sometimes I stay put and do everything at the monitor, using perhaps a small stone as the offering.

                          [ATTACH=CONFIG]9065[/ATTACH]

                          gassho
                          sat/lah
                          So glad you're here, dear Risa!!!

                          Gassho,

                          Do Mi
                          sat and lah

                          Comment

                          • Shonin Risa Bear
                            Member
                            • Apr 2019
                            • 921

                            #14
                            Mutual!

                            gassho
                            ds sat. lah?
                            Visiting priest: use salt

                            Comment

                            • Shinkon
                              Member
                              • Jan 2024
                              • 17

                              #15
                              Hello Everyone!

                              I am a newbie to this forum. For awhile now, my multiple sclerosis, depression, and ADD challenged my practice. After a couple of decades, I can say that the weeds those challenges represent led me to new understandings, ways of practice, and appreciation for the lessons they taught me.
                              In the following months, I look forward to discussions and the many perspectives that this thread has to offer.
                              I hope everyone finds peace and tranquility in their day.
                              Gassho,
                              Shinko

                              Comment

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