Stupid obsessions during zazen - your experiences ? How do you deal with them ?

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  • Ugrok
    Member
    • Sep 2014
    • 323

    Stupid obsessions during zazen - your experiences ? How do you deal with them ?

    Hello !

    Last few days, during sitting, i could not help but endlessly listen to the blood stream in my ears. You know, that sound that is always there, quite a high pitch, not very pleasant when you start paying attention to it.

    I also had a few times when i was obsessed with my eyelids automatically blinking.

    Did you experience such obsessive times ? What is the "good" attitude towards these during zazen ? I just sit and let myself be obsessed, but it's quite an unpleasant experience...

    Thanks !

    Gassho,

    Ugrok, sat and heard his own blood flowing today
  • Jishin
    Member
    • Oct 2012
    • 4819

    #2
    Stupid obsessions during zazen - your experiences ? How do you deal with them ?

    Hello,

    It's neat that you are able to perceive things that you normally would not during Zazen.

    Gassho, Jishin

    #SatToday

    Comment

    • FabianS
      Member
      • Nov 2014
      • 26

      #3
      Greetings!

      During sitting I notice several things that usually are "invisible" (to me). The beat of my heart like a wave starting in my chest, quickly going through the whole body. My breath and how my body moves with it, things that are normally not considered at all.
      I deal with them as I do with thoughts. I leave them be. If they're there it's good, if not - it's good as well. Not paying attention to them as this would be listening to them instead of just sitting. They're there, but just as everything is there when just sitting. Yet it's not about those feelings and thoughts. Was a strange feeling at first, but feels good now once I could let go of clinging to one of those sensations all the time.

      Gassho, Fabian
      #SATTODAY
      It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about us.

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39074

        #4
        Yes, it just is usually a temporary thing because we are so bombarded during the day with noise and action and distractions, that the simple quiet and stillness and focus causes the mind to look for something to hook onto. It will pass.

        Please look here ...

        Hi, Please tell me that the faces staring back at me from the carpet during zazen will cease over time. No matter where I rest my gaze there is a different face each time. Why is it always faces that I see, in the carpet, curtain patterns or clouds? It is I must confess very distracting. Gassho Steve gassho2


        Gassho, J

        SatToday
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • Ugrok
          Member
          • Sep 2014
          • 323

          #5
          Well, i'm in a fairly bad spot right now. I cannot help but listen to this noise, and it makes it louder, it's driving me crazy. Sitting has become really hard even if i still do it without "real" problem other than my mind going "what if this never stops ? what if you become crazy because of this noise ? what if this is a brain tumor ?". I'm sort of falling in a vicious circle as anxiety makes me hyper sensitive and i hear the sound more and more, which makes me more anxious ! Now i'm sort of trying to catch the sound during the day. I see how obsessive and stupid this is, but cannot help it, it's like trying not to think about a pink elephant. I know what i need to do : do stuff and stop paying attention. This is insane as i totally created the problem in the first place, trying to listen actively to this sound and making it more and more important when it was always there before and not a problem at all...
          Just don't know how i should manage this during zazen as letting go only seems to make things worse, at least that's how i judge it.

          Gassho,

          Ugrok, sat today (with difficulty)

          Comment

          • Kokuu
            Treeleaf Priest
            • Nov 2012
            • 6737

            #6
            Hi Ugrok

            The usual advice is to sit with whatever arises and watch it come and go (including the stories and thoughts about the things). However, sometimes things become so overwhelming it is near impossible to do this in my experience.

            This may well be advice contrary to the practice of Shikantaza (in which case I am sure Jundo will correct my ignorance) but I sit with a lot of pain and symptoms of chronic illness and when the sensations are too great for my capacity to just sit I find that working with the breath or saying mantras allows sufficient cushioning of experience for me to still be with what is without being overwhelmed. Breath awareness can also help the physical manifestation of anxiety. You can let go of these anchors for as long as you can to touch the experience then go back.

            Much metta to you
            Kokuu
            #not sat yet today as have sick son home with me

            Comment

            • Ugrok
              Member
              • Sep 2014
              • 323

              #7
              Thank you very much Kokuu, that's what i did quite instinctively on the cushion : focusing on the breathe. Helped a bit.

              Gassho,

              Ugrok, sat today

              Comment

              • Jishin
                Member
                • Oct 2012
                • 4819

                #8
                Originally posted by Kokuu
                sensations are too great for my capacity to just sit I find that working with the breath or saying mantras allows sufficient cushioning of experience for me to still be with what is without being overwhelmed.
                I agree. Sometimes I have very disturbing images regarding the horrible suffering that my patients have that I can not make go away. In such cases I use mantras.

                Gassho, Jishin

                #SatToday

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39074

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Kokuu
                  The usual advice is to sit with whatever arises and watch it come and go (including the stories and thoughts about the things). However, sometimes things become so overwhelming it is near impossible to do this in my experience.

                  This may well be advice contrary to the practice of Shikantaza (in which case I am sure Jundo will correct my ignorance) but I sit with a lot of pain and symptoms of chronic illness and when the sensations are too great for my capacity to just sit I find that working with the breath or saying mantras allows sufficient cushioning of experience for me to still be with what is without being overwhelmed. Breath awareness can also help the physical manifestation of anxiety. You can let go of these anchors for as long as you can to touch the experience then go back.
                  Hi Ugrok and Kokuu,

                  I also recommend that, when the thoughts start running like wild horses, or when there is some severe pain or other distraction, following or counting the breath is good to center one like an anchor. No problem. In fact, if a mantra helps for a time (it does not matter what one chooses as the mantra, some phrase of your choosing that resonates), that is fine too ... or whatever else one needs to get one through the pain or brain hurricane. If and when one can eventually calm down a bit, and find some peace, I then recommend a return to open, spacious sitting.

                  But here is the thing: the most vital aspect of Shikantaza is NOT whether there are wild thoughts or no wild thoughts, pain or no pain. Shikantaza is radical sitting embracing and yielding to what is without resistance. Shikantaza is sitting beyond concern for something else in Zazen, and how circumstances might be better.

                  So, for example, if one is sitting with wild thoughts or pain that seems to be making for distracted Zazen by wishing that one did not have wild thoughts or pain ... that is bad Zazen.

                  If one is sitting totally at one, allowing and accepting one's wild thoughts and pain that seem to be making for distracted Zazen, but with equanimity as to the situation (even equanimity with the fact that one might wish there were no wild thoughts or pain ) ... that is good Zazen.

                  In fact, if one is sitting in Zazen feeling pretty clear and pain free ... but feeling one needs to experience such and stay so for "good Zazen" .... that is actually a kind of bad Zazen too!

                  Seems strange, huh?

                  So, good Shikantaza has nothing to do with pain or thoughts or no pain or no thoughts ... only our total presence.

                  In the meantime, do what one can to be free of the pain, follow the breath or whatever ... no matter.

                  I remember sitting Zazen at Sojiji temple here in Japan, many years ago, in an old wooden rickety building. I asked the teacher if I should break off Zazen and run for the exit if there was a big earthquake. He said something like, yes, probably it is prudent to get out if a big earthquake under that rickety roof. However, if I ran while still "at one with the earthquake", then it was still good Zazen even while running. If I decided to keep sitting through the earthquake, but was "at one with the earthquake", then it was still good Zazen even while sitting. If I was afraid, but was "at one" with my fear, then it was still good Zazen. But if I sat or ran, was afraid or not ... but was not "at one" with the situation ... then it was bad Zazen!

                  Here is a short section from one of the best Zen Books I have some across in years, something I am about to recommend to everyone with a review (Risho first introduced it awhile back) ... Please search the phrase "not a very good Zen teacher" here, and read the few pages entitled "No Gaining Idea".

                  Enter the mind and practice of Zen: apply the insights of one of Zen's classic poems to your life--here and now.Destined to become a trusted, dog-eared companion.Shitou Xiqian’s “Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage” is a remarkably accessible work of profound depth; in thirty-two lines Shitou expresses the breadth of the entire Buddhist tradition with simple, vivid imagery. Ben Connelly’s Inside the Grass Hut unpacks the timeless poem and applies it to contemporary life. His book delivers a wealth of information on the context and content of this eighth-century work, as well as directly evokes the poem’s themes of simple living, calm, and a deep sense of connection to all things. Each pithy chapter focuses on a single line of the poem, letting the reader immerse himself thoroughly in each line and then come up for air before moving on to the next. Line by line, Connelly shows how the poem draws on and expresses elements from the thousand years of Buddhist thought that preceded it, expands on the poem’s depiction of a life of simple practice in nature, and tells stories of the way these teachings manifest in modern life. Connelly, like Shitou before him, proves himself adept at taking profound and complex themes from Zen and laying them out in a practical and understandable way. Eminently readable, thoroughly illuminating, Inside the Grass Hut shows the reader a path of wholehearted engagement—with the poem, and with the world. Destined to become a trusted, dog-eared companion.


                  Funny how this works.

                  Gassho, J

                  SatToday
                  Last edited by Jundo; 12-11-2014, 06:09 AM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Ugrok
                    Member
                    • Sep 2014
                    • 323

                    #10
                    Thank you Jundo. The text is great as well. What is interesting with these experiences of sitting in pain or in distraction or in obsession is that it is always humbling. We are not as peaceful as we think, we are not without flaws, we are just human beings. Sometimes this truth gets right into our faces and takes time to be integrated again because we easily get used to what we wrongly think is "good zazen". It always surprises me nowadays ; things are fine, i think i'm beginning to get the hang of stuff, to understand what zazen is about, even to feel it, then wham !, a random and sadly usual life experience just ruins my whole delusion. Then it passes and i do it again. Stupid little me, ahah !

                    Gassho

                    Ugrok, sat today
                    Last edited by Ugrok; 12-09-2014, 05:53 PM.

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39074

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Ugrok
                      Thank you Jundo. The text is great as well. What is interesting with these experiences of sitting in pain or in distraction or in obsession is that it is always humbling. We are not as peaceful as we think, we are not without flaws, we are just human beings. Sometimes this truth gets right into our faces and takes time to be integrated again because we easily get used to what we wrongly think is "good zazen". It always surprises me nowadays ; things are fine, i think i'm beginning to get the hang of stuff, to understand what zazen is about, then wham, a random and sadly usual life experience just ruins my whole delusion. Then it passes and i do it again. Stupid little me, ahah !

                      Gassho

                      Ugrok, sat today
                      One is Flawless Peaceful Buddha with pain, thoughts, lack of peace, flaws ....

                      One is Flawless Peaceful Buddha with no pain, no thoughts, deep peace, flawless ...

                      True Flawless Peaceful Buddha is not a matter of pain or no pain, thought or no thought, peace or no peace, flaw or no flaw, buddhas or silly human beings. Rather, Flawless Peaceful Buddha is all such.

                      The only thing is whether one realizes so or not.

                      When realized, flaws somehow become Flawless (we try to fix what we can nonetheless!), lack of peace is Peace, thoughts are No Thoughts, pain is Pain Free (even while still hurting like hell), and human being is Buddha.

                      Weird yet Wise, huh?

                      Gassho, J

                      SatToday
                      Last edited by Jundo; 12-09-2014, 06:27 PM.
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • Daiyo
                        Member
                        • Jul 2014
                        • 819

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Jundo

                        Here is a short section from one of the best Zen Books I have some across in years, something I am about to recommend to everyone with a review (Risho first introduced it awhile back) ... Please search the phrase "not a very good Zen teacher" here, and read the few pages entitled "No Gaining Idea".

                        Enter the mind and practice of Zen: apply the insights of one of Zen's classic poems to your life--here and now.Destined to become a trusted, dog-eared companion.Shitou Xiqian’s “Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage” is a remarkably accessible work of profound depth; in thirty-two lines Shitou expresses the breadth of the entire Buddhist tradition with simple, vivid imagery. Ben Connelly’s Inside the Grass Hut unpacks the timeless poem and applies it to contemporary life. His book delivers a wealth of information on the context and content of this eighth-century work, as well as directly evokes the poem’s themes of simple living, calm, and a deep sense of connection to all things. Each pithy chapter focuses on a single line of the poem, letting the reader immerse himself thoroughly in each line and then come up for air before moving on to the next. Line by line, Connelly shows how the poem draws on and expresses elements from the thousand years of Buddhist thought that preceded it, expands on the poem’s depiction of a life of simple practice in nature, and tells stories of the way these teachings manifest in modern life. Connelly, like Shitou before him, proves himself adept at taking profound and complex themes from Zen and laying them out in a practical and understandable way. Eminently readable, thoroughly illuminating, Inside the Grass Hut shows the reader a path of wholehearted engagement—with the poem, and with the world. Destined to become a trusted, dog-eared companion.


                        Funny how this works.

                        Wonderful text, Jundo, thank you.

                        I need to remember this everytime I sit.
                        And after sitting. And everytime I'm about to punch myself for not being as I would like to.

                        Gassho,
                        Walter

                        #SatToday
                        Gassho,Walter

                        Comment

                        • Ishin
                          Member
                          • Jul 2013
                          • 1359

                          #13
                          Excellent.

                          Gassho
                          C

                          Sat Today!
                          Grateful for your practice

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