Stuck on "shoulds"

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  • Jakuden
    Member
    • Jun 2015
    • 6142

    Stuck on "shoulds"

    Hello,

    I have noticed something in my practice that recurs constantly... I thought if I sat with it long enough it would maybe resolve itself, but it has been such a part of me for so long that it is ever-present. It is a feeling that I "should" always be doing something other than what I am doing... That I should be making more of the passing moment than I am, spending more time with my family, or doing a thousand things that need to be done. It is starting to really feel like an obstacle... I can see that the more "shoulds" I pile on, the more paralyzed I get and the less I actually get done. I will keep sitting with it, but I was wondering of anyone else had suggestions or has come up against this.

    Gassho,
    Sierra
    SatToday
  • broahes
    Member
    • Jul 2015
    • 97

    #2
    How could you ever be spending time with family with a mind that is a thousand other places? If you are present in the moment, family time is timeless.

    Gassho,
    Brooks sat today.
    "The victorious ones have said that emptiness is the relinquishing of all views. For whomever emptiness is a view, that one has achieved nothing." - Nagarjuna

    Comment

    • Myosha
      Member
      • Mar 2013
      • 2974

      #3
      Hello,

      Might help realizing it's the​ practice, without possessive pronouns.

      We're all bozos on this bus.


      Gassho
      Myosha sat today
      "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

      Comment

      • Jakuden
        Member
        • Jun 2015
        • 6142

        #4
        That probably gets right to the issue... As a business owner I never get to spend as much time with my family as I would like!
        Gassho,
        Sierra
        SatToday

        Comment

        • Risho
          Member
          • May 2010
          • 3179

          #5
          Sounds like the discovery The Buddha had with the first of the Four Noble Truths. I have the same issue; I have a lot of nagging thoughts: what I should or shouldn't do, anxiety about the future or past decisions/actions.. things I should do, guilt for not doing these things. I have feelings of overconfidence and also of not being good enough, not having enough, being weird, etc.

          But like every other thought, it is just a thought. It doesn't control us; we can let it pass ala Shikantaza-style, which can be hard and which requires practice. Those thoughts are juicy morsels of goodness that are hard to resist, but if we can get better at not being sucked in, it allows us to study ourselves. Sometimes, recurring thoughts could also be our gut telling us to change something. So I guess it's about trusting your instincts and also not letting the mind chatter control you; that's what the mind does after all, it spews out thoughts.

          What's cool about having the "equanimity" for lack of a better word, is that on rare times when I can let the thought pass on by and not chase after it or add energy, it allows you to choose if you want to take action or just let it walk on by, which is a way that zazen really gives freedom. So often I find myself being led and controlled by thoughts, Shikantaza is a reminder that I'm in charge after all, I don't need to do anything about some things or there may be things I have been neglecting that really do need attention, but instead of just insanely chasing after the endless problems to fix, you can take a calmer approach.. you aren't as desperate or grasping at things.

          Those are things I've found that works, and which I'm practicing at because I fail a lot

          Gassho,

          Risho
          -sattoday
          Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

          Comment

          • Byokan
            Treeleaf Unsui
            • Apr 2014
            • 4269

            #6
            Hi Gang,

            oh, this too is me. Risho, awesome insight and advice, thank you so much.

            Failing, falling, flailing, getting up again.

            Gassho
            Lisa
            sat today
            展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
            Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

            Comment

            • Shugen
              Treeleaf Unsui
              • Nov 2007
              • 4535

              #7
              Originally posted by raindrop
              Hi Gang,

              oh, this too is me. Risho, awesome insight and advice, thank you so much.

              Failing, falling, flailing, getting up again.

              Gassho
              Lisa
              sat today
              Me as well.

              Thank you,

              Shugen

              #sattoday


              Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
              Meido Shugen
              明道 修眼

              Comment

              • Joyo

                #8
                And me, I should stop that =)

                Thank you everyone!!

                Gassho,
                Joyo
                sat today (maybe I should have sat more!)

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39075

                  #9
                  Some very nice responses here.

                  Originally posted by Sierra529
                  Hello,

                  I have noticed something in my practice that recurs constantly... I thought if I sat with it long enough it would maybe resolve itself, but it has been such a part of me for so long that it is ever-present. It is a feeling that I "should" always be doing something other than what I am doing... That I should be making more of the passing moment than I am, spending more time with my family, or doing a thousand things that need to be done. It is starting to really feel like an obstacle... I can see that the more "shoulds" I pile on, the more paralyzed I get and the less I actually get done. I will keep sitting with it, but I was wondering of anyone else had suggestions or has come up against this.

                  Gassho,
                  Sierra
                  SatToday
                  Ah, Shikantaza is precisely the medicine for this dis-Ease. It is possible to live "should-non-should".

                  Let me explain.

                  We need "shoulds" to get on with life ... I should lose a few pounds, I should drive safely, I should finish my homework and get my degree, I should ship the package or write the report at work, I should keep pulling the weeds in the garden, I should play with the kids more.

                  Should itself is not a problem, and is necessary for our getting the jobs done.

                  The only problem is when we are doing ABC, yet totally distracted and pulled by the QRS and XYZ we feel that we should be doing instead. Yes, XYZ may be important and cannot be neglected (like walking the dog, getting that check-up, paying the taxes ... it cannot be put off forever, it cannot be neglected. Put off those too long, and the dog, your health, the government will make it clear that there is a price to pay sooner or later. They should and must be taken care of in time). However, the problem is when we are so captured by thoughts of XYZ that we fail to be in the moment of the ABC going on now.

                  Of course, for all of us, while we are doing one thing (even sitting Zazen for example), there are countless other things we perhaps should be doing instead. HOWEVER, in Zazen, one also learns to sit whereby sitting itself is a complete action, the one thing to do in that moment, no other place to be. There is nothing to add or take away, no thing lacking. One sits energetically in wholeness, with equanimity. Not one thing more need be done in that time of sitting. There is no other "should" while sitting.

                  Then, rising from the cushion, as we get back to our busy life we can learn to mentally combine the two ways of encountering life ... late for work, but simultaneously no other place but "late" to be ... needing to get the homework done, yet nothing in need of doing. Unhappy with the weeds, yet encountering them simultaneously in their completeness. Figuring the deductions on the tax returns (I hate doing those!), yet nothing simultaneously to add or subtract from the moment, all in balance! Needing to lose a few pounds, but simultaneously nothing in need of changing.

                  This is kind of a healthy "split personality" ... like seeing the world one "should" way out of one eye, a "nothing lacking in equanimity" way out of the other eye ... both together seeing the world with the Clarity of a Buddha Eye.

                  Maybe even when someone crashes into our car or the doctor gives us a bothersome diagnosis ... well, we might not like it out of one eye, but out of the other Zazen eye there is simply no other way which life "should" be in that moment. All is whole and complete, even though not.

                  Got the point?

                  Here is how it works for me: Sometimes I am in the park with my 4 year old daughter, and I start to feel edgy. She wants me to push her on the swing for the tenth time. So many other things I "should" be doing, no doubt. I have a work project to finish, I have witty things to write on Treeleaf Forum. Suddenly, I just "Shikantaza" the moment, and it is whole and complete. That time is a perfect jewel. There is no other place to be, nothing lacking. Suddenly, I am fully present for my daughter.

                  Oh, the work and the forum are still there ... but each in its time. I do the best to balance times for work, family, service to others, personal time ... even if not in the exact mix I would wish. The things I "don't really want to do" cannot be neglected, yet when I get back to work, weeds and tax forms (still yuck!), it too will be "the only place to be in its moment".

                  Got how that works? Left eye, right eye, Buddha Eye. Should-non-should.

                  Gassho, J

                  SatToday (the only place to be)
                  Last edited by Jundo; 08-06-2015, 04:40 AM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Getchi
                    Member
                    • May 2015
                    • 612

                    #10
                    Gassho,
                    Geoff.

                    SatToday
                    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

                    Comment

                    • Jakuden
                      Member
                      • Jun 2015
                      • 6142

                      #11
                      Thank you all! I knew you could help me see this more clearly... it sounds like if nothing else I am not alone! The "shoulds" are there and will always be there, so I will stop fretting over the fact that they will not go away and try not to let my mind transform them into overwhelming monsters. They are simply things that need to be done, nothing less, nothing more.

                      It is interesting that the example Jundo used was spending time with children... on the one hand, I feel guilty if I am not spending time with my children... on the other hand, my mind is constantly sabotaging my time with them by popping up all the "important" adult things I have to do when I am with them. (At least I have accountants that do my taxes. But then I have to work hard and pay them a lot of money. LOL) Yes to "Shikantaza" the moment, that is "the" practice ! On and off the cushion!

                      Gassho,
                      Sierra
                      SatToday

                      Comment

                      • Kaishin
                        Member
                        • Dec 2010
                        • 2322

                        #12
                        Thank you all, and Jundo, especially for the personal example that really resonates with me.

                        -satToday
                        Thanks,
                        Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
                        Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

                        Comment

                        • RichardH
                          Member
                          • Nov 2011
                          • 2800

                          #13
                          If I may add one thing here about persistent shoulds and shouldn'ts, or thoughts in general. With daily Zazen I find that more and more I am grounded in the immediate environment and am not teleporting into the past and future as much. The shoulds and shouldn'ts are still there but they are not the ground..the chatter of voices in this mid-town food court, the taste of lentils and diet coke, the toes wiggling in the sandals. This immediacy is not eclipsed, the thoughts are not so opaque. That is the trend with daily practice at any rate.

                          Just a personal note, please take with a grain of salt.
                          Gassho
                          Daizan
                          Sat today
                          Last edited by RichardH; 08-06-2015, 04:56 PM.

                          Comment

                          • Risho
                            Member
                            • May 2010
                            • 3179

                            #14
                            Jundo and everyone.

                            Gassho,

                            Risho
                            -sattoday
                            Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                            Comment

                            • Rich
                              Member
                              • Apr 2009
                              • 2587

                              #15
                              Sometimes we just need to stop and take a break or a vacation.

                              SAT today
                              _/_
                              Rich
                              MUHYO
                              無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

                              https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

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