Sitting with Emotions

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  • stacheman101
    • Jul 2024

    Sitting with Emotions

    Hi from St. Louis,

    It's wonderful to have a teacher and a sangha so accessible. It's kind of amazing. Thank you.

    Practicing shikantaza is new to me. I come from the tradition of vipassana and, most recently, of Joko Beck and Ezra Bayda. Joko and Ezra provide highly skillful ways of working with emotion -- mindfully observing, observing, observing the physical sensations and patterns of thought emotions give rise to. This has been very helpful for me, as I often have strong emotions coursing through.

    My question is: do we sit with emotions in shikantaza in just the same way we sit with thoughts? I see that "thought" is often mentioned in this tradition, but "emotion" perhaps less so (?) Do we pay attention to body sensations, thought patterns when, say, anger or grief arise? Or do we just try to let them go?

    The newcomer videos are helpful, but I'm only partway through them (no Internet connection at home for now) and would be grateful for some guidance.

    Thank You,

  • Shohei
    • Oct 2007
    • 2854

    Hi Jeff
    Just sit. Hehe easy right? Yes let them 'go' and let them come too, no need to push them away just let them be and they fade. I am a rather emotional guy and on a day where its been stressful or upsetting I find my self running through the stresses or following a story line - "if he/she had said that I would totally say..." well you know how that goes.

    I find after sitting I am much more likely to see where just whats keeping that emotion/feeling going and once I have really seen why, it tends to lessen.

    That said, we need not be emotion free! Just letting some of the drama go, any zen folk I know are actually pretty emotional folks!



    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39454


      Shohei expresses this so beautifully.

      I would just point you to a couple of recent threads which touch on this. On struggles in Shikantaza ...

      Treeleaf Sangha, the atmosphere here has been so supportive as I attempt to wrap my mind around buddhist practice, that I feel comfortable sharing some struggles that I have been having. Perhaps this is a common part of the practice, but Shikantaza has been very difficult for me. I am not sure if it comes from my background

      And this is on awareness of the mind's games, and Vipassana in a Zen context ...

      When emotions come, we tend to not grab hold, not play with them, and let them pass. We do not seek to repress them, but neither do we allow ourselves to wallow and stir them up. Eventually, we may come to experience emotions, yet not be their prisoner. We may know balance, not allowing them to run to harmful excess. We may feel the equanimity of a Buddha's Heart even while living deeply and with passion ... equanimity
      and passion at once.

      That leads to a related thread ... on Buddhists in love ... Attachments without Attachments

      Hi Everyone; I hope is well with you. I have been told that i analyze too much and too much and too much. But I have been pondering a few things with regard to attachment, and I can go a little crazy. So I don't want to be attached..but yet, I am attached to so much in my children, home, food, etc....but relating it

      Gassho, Jundo
      Last edited by Jundo; 08-07-2013, 02:35 AM.


      • shikantazen
        • Feb 2013
        • 361

        The second link with the post you made on awareness in Zazen is useful


        • stacheman101

          Which second link ? Much useful information here for me to sit with and explore.
          My thanks is (are? ) deep and sincere.


          • shikantazen
            • Feb 2013
            • 361

            This is the second link I was referring to:

            And this is on awareness of the mind's games, and Vipassana in a Zen context ...



            • Jishin
              • Oct 2012
              • 4820

              Hi Jeff,

              There are 10,000 ways to sit and just one way to sit. I just try to sit and drop the one and 10,000 things going beyond sitting where there are and arent thoughts and emotions. Cotton clouds carrying thoughts and emotions, gently passing by, dissipating into thin air as I try to sit steadfast as a mountain. Something like that.

              Gassho, John


              • Taigu
                Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
                • Aug 2008
                • 2710

                Thank you for your post. Yes John, beautifully expressed. I have often felt that shikantaza was the place that nothing could reach and yet I also sat flood of tears running down my cheeks. Whatever. Really dropping the one and 10000 things is not to try, not to care about clouds and no clouds. Shikantaza is big, it contains and embraces it all.




                • Myosha
                  • Mar 2013
                  • 2974

                  Thank you.

                  "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"