Posts Tagged ‘zen buddhism’

A few thoughts on boredom…

“When you are really bored, the best thing you can do is sit down and let yourself experience the boredom more fully. It may not be a deep or satisfying state, but at least you are not indulging in the things with which you usually cover up this kind of experience. Your real state of mind is more nakedly exposed, because for the time being there are no distractions. If you can stay with the experience of boredom, you can try to feel your way through into something deeper, truer, and more spontaneous within yourself.” – Sangharakshita, “Staying with Boredom”  (Source: Tricycle Daily Emails 5/8/13)

Louis CK on Boredom


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I believe I’ve posted about this in the past few years, but I love this documentary.

The Zen Mind (Documentary)

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To Lady Mori with Deepest Gratitude and Thanks

The tree was barren of leaves but you brought a new spring.
Long green sprouts, verdant flowers, fresh promise.
Mori, if I ever forget my profound gratitude to you,
Let me burn in hell forever.

From Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu, translated by John Stevens. Published by Shambala in Boston, 1995.

(Mori was a blind minstrel, and Ikkyu’s young mistress)

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ImageI was struck this morning by how enriched my life has become by being willing to be draw on the wisdom of others. I spend a lot of time listening to the life experiences of others, letting their example guide me. Slowly but surely…  

This morning I was reminded by a friend, “I’ve had much to worry about in my life, most of which never happened.” 

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Thunder and Lightening over Scranton

When we see truly, there is nothing at all.
There is no person; there is no Buddha.
Innumerable things of the universe
 are just bubbles on the sea.
Wise sages are all like flashes of lightning.

–   Yoka Genkaku (665-713 CE), Shodoka

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don't just do something, sit there!One of the truly awesome, and at times challenging, things about meditation is there really is no instruction other than beginner’s instruction. If you are new to meditation, try to and enjoy your practice without seeking expert status – this is it!

Today’s tips are about getting to the cushion. Often we are exposed to meditation and we bring great enthusiasm to making this practice a part of our lives. However, we quickly find ourselves putting off sitting in favor of watching a little more TV or sleeping in a few minutes longer. The greatest benefits of meditation come not from a single session but rather from sitting every day.

  1. Set a reasonable length of time: Consider starting with 5 minutes. Remember our goal is to sit every day, not to be rocketed into enlightenment with that one perfect session. The first few months provide more of a challenge building a new habit than anything else. Make you ability to succeed sustainable. What length of time would it be impossible to say no to? What length of time doesn’t intimidate you at all?
  2. Link your meditation to something you do everyday. I have a friend who meditates in between showering and shaving. Another friend pulls into the parking lot at work in the morning and sits in her car. I know a guy whose life has been radically changed by meditating on the train ride into the city. Yet another friend links her meditation to waiting for her coffee to brew. The couple who started the Tuesday night meditation group I cherish, sit every evening after dinner together. I have a routine of washing the dishes and then sitting. Examine your life. Where do you see an opportunity to add some quiet time? 
  3. Make a checklist. When I challenge myself to make a new habit or to do something like my daily gratitude list, I put a checklist in a visible place. Hard to ignore a box next to a date that is waiting to be clicked off. I like to use the space next to my phone at work on a little posted note. Inconspicuous but impossible for me to miss.
  4. Ask yourself why you meditate. A powerful and motivating force for creating this new daily discipline lies in our most intimate motivations. We are attracted to meditation for different reasons; spiritual inquiry, a desire to quiet the mind, a quest for serenity, managing anger or anxiety, or coping with the loss of a loved one. These and other starting points provide for important reminders. Hard to justify watching another episode of Real Housewives when the alternative is working on an important struggle in your life. Why do you meditate? 
  5. Join a group. When I first started meditating I was lucky enough to have the support of a weekly group. This guaranteed I had at least one day a week of meditation. Even better, the support of others and the shared experience was a powerful motivator for my own daily sitting.
  6. Learn from the resistance to practice. We examine our minds when we do zazen but the opportunity to see our mind at work is available to us at all times. We can learn a lot from honestly inquiring within ourselves what these resistance points are.
  7. Just do it. Sometimes it is easier to simply let go of the struggle and just get on the cushion. Meditation is no place for debate. If we have good reasons to practice and a reasonable goal in mind, just sit there!

Good luck! May your practice and your life go well.

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