Cannot ignore thought...

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  • dharmasponge
    Member
    • Oct 2013
    • 278

    Cannot ignore thought...

    Hi all,

    I have had a lot of advice over the years about how to deal with a busy mind, but never really been able to implement one to any real effect.

    For instance I understand that the best course of action is to be just OK with any thoughts that arise, and I am sure this might well work for some. I can only speak for myself clearly but that approach doesn't seem to cut it. It feels a little like avoidance or some sort of safety behaviour that has no real effect on shutting the mind up sufficiently to be able to 'just sit'.

    What are you experiences/thoughts re this?

    Thanks,

    Tony...
    Sat today
  • Juki
    Member
    • Dec 2012
    • 771

    #2
    Thoughts come. Thoughts go. Breathe in. Breathe out. Thoughts themselves are inevitable. Attachment to those thoughts is not. Let the thoughts go, just as you let your breath go. Acknowledge the thoughts, but do not wrestle with them. Return to your sitting. Return to the breath. Gradually, the thoughts lessen a bit, and the tendency to attach to the thoughts also lessens. Gradually. There will always be tough days on the Zafu. But if you just sit, just breathe, and let the thoughts move in and out like the breath, the process will work.

    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

    Comment

    • Hans
      Member
      • Mar 2007
      • 1853

      #3
      Hello Tony,

      since we are all slightly different in the way our thought processes work, there can never be practise suggestions that help 100% of the people in the same way (although in general I agree with Juki's comments above).

      To me personally, finally opening up to the fact that my thoughts are not special and that my identification with those thoughts is not special either, helped me a lot in the long run.

      A lot of parents tell their children that they are special. Well, I don't feel that is particularly true in a general sense. We are amazing and breathtaking aspects of a great and mysterious show, beauty everywhere around and inside us...but we as individuals are not special. I am only writing this because to me, the capacity to relax into "what is" is deeply connected with our ability to not take ourselves so seriously.

      Something will always arise. Sometimes many thoughts, sometimes just a few...sometimes a lot of emotions, desire, pain, sometimes other impressions. We should glide into being present with any and all of these manifestations, without judging our own progress or ideas of progress constantly.

      Whether you believe in conintuous life/lives or not, the point is that this is a long term practise....some even say it takes aeons to really apply this. Sitting and being present with your thought hurricanes is nothing other than practise. You are not doing anything wrong I believe.


      Gassho,

      Hans Chudo Mongen

      Comment

      • Yugen

        #4
        Hi Tony,

        Hans and Juki have great wisdom to offer. I'm conflicted in adding to the excellent suggestions that have been made here.

        Shunryu Suzuki had a great phrase for this, which I paraphrase: "when thoughts appear at the door, greet them, but do not invite them in for tea..."

        In zazen, please, do not set up an oppositional relationship with your thoughts.... sitting does not require that the mind be "shut up" in order to practice. I might suggest turning into the the wind instead of away from it... i.e., acknowledge your thoughts and learn to be in relationship with them. This is much easier said than done.... shikantaza is not easy or for the faint of heart... it requires daily practice (even in small bits) so the mind is "trained" to observe these thoughts and not be swept away by them. If perhaps we accept our thoughts as part of our reality rather than as an obstacle, the resistance might fall away.

        Much easier said than done, as I am sure you have observed. Sit regularly... even if for a few minutes at a time.

        Thank you for your honesty,

        Deep bows
        Yugen
        Last edited by Guest; 03-26-2014, 12:59 PM.

        Comment

        • dharmasponge
          Member
          • Oct 2013
          • 278

          #5
          Originally posted by Yugen
          Sit regularly... even if for a few minutes at a time.
          Thanks to you all for you answers up to now...I do sit each morning around 5am and have for a long time now. This is a relatively new manifestation.

          Caught me off guard I guess.

          Like drinking something laced with a poison without knowing....the effects are there but there seems nothing I can do, the thought arrives stealth like and with no knock at the door.

          Its already let itself in and is drinking my tea!
          Sat today

          Comment

          • RichardH
            Member
            • Nov 2011
            • 2800

            #6
            My experience is that thoughts have a life of their own. They come and go but are not really dissociated from, because thinking is a normal function, and there is no one to do the disassociating. So "letting them" come and go as opposed to getting caught up in them, is not quite how it goes. They flow, and think "me", there is absorbed thinking in some moments, and more space in other moment, sometimes there is a pause. When I sit it is less about leaving thoughts be, as there being no one apart from them to hold or leave be.

            Maybe that sounds a little buggy, but it is really simple. Just sitting, no problem. That's my experience at any rate.

            Gassho Daizan

            Comment

            • 6yx
              Member
              • Jun 2011
              • 48

              #7
              You'll find your way through persistent practice. Be patient and positive that you'll find it.

              I've noticed that we all do the same thing differently.

              When I'm able to not get "hooked" into my thoughts, it's as if they become water off the ducks back of my mind.

              A ducks back is not a polished mirror. But they do the same thing.

              Thanks for bringing this up. It's something I think about when I can't unhook, and try to recapture that skill.

              Gassho.

              Comment

              • Mp

                #8
                Originally posted by Juki
                Thoughts come. Thoughts go. Breathe in. Breathe out. Thoughts themselves are inevitable. Attachment to those thoughts is not. Let the thoughts go, just as you let your breath go. Acknowledge the thoughts, but do not wrestle with them. Return to your sitting. Return to the breath. Gradually, the thoughts lessen a bit, and the tendency to attach to the thoughts also lessens. Gradually. There will always be tough days on the Zafu. But if you just sit, just breathe, and let the thoughts move in and out like the breath, the process will work.

                Gassho,
                Juki
                Wise words ... =)

                Gassho
                Shingen

                Comment

                • Kokuu
                  Treeleaf Priest
                  • Nov 2012
                  • 6735

                  #9
                  Hi all

                  Great advice above.

                  Something I have found helpful from Mahamudra practice is to look at where thoughts arise from and where they go. You can also look at the substance of thoughts themselves. I am not suggesting to do this in Zazen but as an experiment to see what the nature of thought is. It helped break some of the hold for me, as when I see that I am becoming attached to thoughts, I remember looking into their nature.

                  Any strategy you use, though, is rarely going to be a magic cure. For me, thoughts have been the hardest thing to non-attach to since they seem to be mine, as opposed to sounds and sights which can be let go as other. Seeing that thought is the same nature can be helpful.

                  Gassho
                  Andy

                  Comment

                  • Geika
                    Treeleaf Unsui
                    • Jan 2010
                    • 4971

                    #10
                    I have a compulsive nature and my thoughts are no exception. Some insist on making themselves important, and I don't mean the "really" important ones, either, like, "Oh, it's time to pay the electricity bill."

                    I do think it helps to let them just come and go. It used to feel stifling and passive, but not anymore. I was just trying to convince myself that half the babble and daydreaming was important and worth keeping in some way. I don't mean to cut off my imagination or problem solving skills, but I can tell when my thinking is simply based in hungry wanting.
                    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
                    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

                    Comment

                    • Entai
                      Member
                      • Jan 2013
                      • 451

                      #11
                      Give your mind permission to have lots of noisy thoughts. They may quiet down on their own.

                      Gassho,
                      Entai

                      泰 Entai (Bill)
                      "this is not a dress rehearsal"

                      Comment

                      • Jishin
                        Member
                        • Oct 2012
                        • 4819

                        #12
                        Food for thought:

                        Prior to sitting, let your mind become agitated. Provoke it with lots of anxiety thoughts. Bills to pay, broken car, kid is sick, boss is a jerk, etc. Feed your mind with a bunch of junk. Exhaust it, just like getting a quick workout at the gym. Then, have a sit, get centered and see what happens. The mind might be too tired to keep busy and may quiet down and enjoy the silence. Just an experiment, not shikantaza.

                        Gassho, Jishin

                        Comment

                        • Jundo
                          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                          • Apr 2006
                          • 39065

                          #13
                          Some good advice here. (I am going to make the following big cause I want to say so loud and clear) ...

                          Follow the breath for a time if really really disturbed or tangled in thought. If really really really swept up in a storm.



                          Then, when one can, return to open, spacious sitting without resistance and flowing with equanimity. But why do you think one must be "shutting the mind up sufficiently to be able to 'just sit'???" You are thinking that something must be a certain better or ideal way to "just sit" ... instead of dropping all demands on how things must be. Only the latter is true "just sitting".**

                          Remember, it takes "two to tangle" to be bothered by anything ... be it thoughts or any circumstance in life. In the end, the thoughts are not bothersome or annoying, but your reaction to them ... and saying to yourself "this is disturbing" makes them disturbing. The answer, in Shikantaza, is ultimately not to remove the object you think is "causing disturbance" but, instead, to remove the "subject causing disturbance" ... your reaction, you.

                          When you can sit in the middle of a battlefield, Times Square or a plane crash and sit without resistance and flowing with open equanimity ... this is true Shikantaza. One finds then that the battle ends, Silence is found in the greatest noise. The bills, the broken car, the sick kid, the jerk boss are ultimately not the source of disturbance. Each is just what it is. You are the source of disturbance.

                          Weird, huh?

                          The more you try to get rid of the source of the problem ... the more you make a problem. Just drop the judgments and resistance to so-called problems and ... no problem! Oh, the sick kid and jerk boss may remain, the plane may still crash ... yet they do not.

                          Gassho, Jundo

                          ** Reminds me of this old joke for some reason ...

                          A police officer sees a drunken man intently searching the ground near a lamppost and asks him the goal of his quest. The inebriate replies that he is looking for his car keys, and the officer helps for a few minutes without success then he asks whether the man is certain that he dropped the keys near the lamppost.

                          “No,” is the reply, “I lost the keys somewhere across the street.” “Why look here?” asks the surprised and irritated officer. “The light is much better here,” the intoxicated man responds with aplomb.
                          Sometimes what we think we need to do to solve the problem (search where conditions are better, like the light or the quiet in our heads or out) is not what we really need to do to solve the problem.
                          Last edited by Jundo; 03-27-2014, 03:05 AM.
                          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                          Comment

                          • Ishin
                            Member
                            • Jul 2013
                            • 1359

                            #14
                            Nothing to add, but thanks

                            C
                            Grateful for your practice

                            Comment

                            • Jundo
                              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                              • Apr 2006
                              • 39065

                              #15
                              And to take this further ...

                              When one can sit and live not Disturbed (Big D) even about sometimes feeling disturbed ... in Peace (Big P) while sometimes feeling peaceful and sometimes not ... letting even such feelings of sometime disturbance to just themselves be mental objects that one is not distirbed about ...

                              ... such is true true "just sitting".

                              Double weird, huh?

                              Gassho, J
                              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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