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Hello, a question

edited September 2009 in Meditation
Hello, I am new to these forums as you can see.

I have a question regarding sitting meditation.

I find myself unable to do it. It seems unnatural to me - I do not want to do it.

All of the gains I have made during my life in regards to my goal of attaining enlightenment have come unforced. They did result from a desire for certain things (such as an understanding of the truth) - but they did not have to be forced. There was great effort involved but it was always what seemed right to me.

As of now I would rather walk or lay down(and eventually fall asleep) than sit. And I currently do both, at times.

However I understand that great gains could be made if I brought myself to sit.

Should I attempt to force myself to do so? I do realize that believing I must "force" myself is just an illusion - but nevertheless it still obstructs me.

Anyways,
Thank you.

Comments

  • edited June 2009
    oh I recognize people from buddhachat here. cool.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 2009
    I've been an offical Buddhist for 7 years (unofficially, nearly 20).
    I rarely 'sit'.
    But I do meditate in my fashion.
    Actually, Thich Naht Hahn's fashion, really...
    Walking, 'doing', driving, many ways.
    Just very little 'sitting'.
    I keep thinking I 'should' too.
    I guess, when 'should' turns to 'want', I shall.
    Until then, I'm comfortable being imperfect.

    :)
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited June 2009
    Hi Travis

    Many ex-Buddhachat are currently at buddhaforum.org

    With metta

    DDhatu
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited June 2009
    TravisMago wrote: »
    Hello, I am new to these forums as you can see.

    I have a question regarding sitting meditation.

    I find myself unable to do it. It seems unnatural to me - I do not want to do it.

    All of the gains I have made during my life in regards to my goal of attaining enlightenment have come unforced. They did result from a desire for certain things (such as an understanding of the truth) - but they did not have to be forced. There was great effort involved but it was always what seemed right to me.

    As of now I would rather walk or lay down(and eventually fall asleep) than sit. And I currently do both, at times.

    However I understand that great gains could be made if I brought myself to sit.

    Should I attempt to force myself to do so? I do realize that believing I must "force" myself is just an illusion - but nevertheless it still obstructs me.

    Anyways,
    Thank you.
    Hi Travis

    My view is it is important to be natural.

    Walking meditation can be useful for general reflection about one's life and for slowing down the mind. Then one can sit if it feels natural.

    Sitting can be in a chair, on a log, on a rock. It does not need to be cross-legged.

    Kind regards

    DDhatu

    :)
  • jinzangjinzang Veteran
    edited June 2009
    Practice requires a certain amount of effort and commitment. It's not entirely natural and unforced because it goes against our long ingrained habits. Actually, our habitual way of doing things is unnatural although it doesn't seem so. The proof of this is in the amount of stress and unhappiness it causes us. It's like many other areas of our life, such as our diet and mode of living. They are unhealthy and send more than a few to an early death. But changing these habits isn't easy.
  • edited June 2009
    I am going to eat a meal, and then I am going to walk, and then I think I may try sitting. I do feel like trying :)
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 2009
    *Members will please confine information regarding their own websites, or inter-website discussion, to PMs. Links already exist in signatures. Any interest or curiosity could be satisfied by following the links.
    Irrelevant posts have been removed.

    Thank you. *
  • GlowGlow Veteran
    edited June 2009
    Hi TravisMAgo another refugee of the BuddhaChat diaspora here. :P

    I have actually been rather neglectful of "sitting" these days. I have found, however, that my mind will "force" me to deal with my emotions/habits/life during the night, while I'm in bed. I will find myself waking to intense emotions or an emotionally-charged memory or recollection of something that happened during the day, and I have to remind myself to practice "Radical acceptance" and breathe with i in exactly the same manner as in sitting meditation. Does this happen to anyone else?

    I think setting up a regimented practice is helpful in the beginning. If I hadn't sat in formal meditation for a few years, I never would have really discovered how to sit in the middle of my life with unconditional friendliness/equanimity instead of anger or reactivity/curiosity instead of aversion/etc. Cultivating the method helped me deal with my impromptu meditation sessions at night, as well as the problems of mundane daily existence during the day.

    There are also practices that actively call up emotionally charged scenarios - death, anger, grief and loss, loneliness, etc. - in an effort to make you face life in all it's magnitude. I find, however, it's better for me to work with what life gives you as it comes. The arrows of Mara that come your way in daily life - even recollections of past arrows churned up by memory - and turn them into flowers, if you will.
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited June 2009
    I suspect that those of us who can't and won't keep up a sitting meditation discipline are not yet truly practicing the Dhamma in full earnest.

    Whilst our practice does not constitute just sitting, still, sitting cannot be undervalued - even if it is just 1/2 hour a day it seems to be very important to those serious about our practice.

    Day by day the flower has to be watered - it just works like this, even if the process is then invisible to the naked eye. But magic does work like this perhaps.

    Anyway here are some words from Pema, which might help anyone:

    The Key to Knowing Ourself is Meditation
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 2009
    I suspect that those of us who can't and won't keep up a sitting meditation discipline are not yet truly practicing the Dhamma in full earnest.
    I can see why you might think that, but I would dispute it.
    I don't think you have to have a sitting Meditation discipline to be fully practising the Dhamma.
    "When am I NOT Meditating?" was the reply from one senior monk to another, when challenged about his methods.
    Now, I would not elevate myself to such lofty ideals, but to say that those not sitting and meditating are not full practitioners of the Dhamma, is qute a leap.

    Anyway here are some words from Pema, which might help anyone:

    The Key to Knowing Ourself is Meditation

    Thanks for the link, though! :)
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited June 2009
    federica wrote: »
    I can see why you might think that, but I would dispute it.
    I don't think you have to have a sitting Meditation discipline to be fully practising the Dhamma.
    "When am I NOT Meditating?" was the reply from one senior monk to another, when challenged about his methods.
    Now, I would not elevate myself to such lofty ideals, but to say that those not sitting and meditating are not full practitioners of the Dhamma, is qute a leap.

    What I said was: I suspect that those of us who can't and won't keep up a sitting meditation discipline are not yet truly practicing the Dhamma in full earnest.

    In a strict sense, every moment is meditation. All postures are meditation, everything is meditation.

    But as my kid would say "It's only true when it's true"

    Most of us can mouth those words, but for most of us, it is not yet the truth of our lives - and our meditation.

    So until then, I think a disciplined sitting meditation is helpful - even Lord Buddha continued to sit years after Full Awakening, let alone a pleb like myself - she says. :) And in Gautama we trust.

    Of course, we are here just to exchange opinions -- so this is mine - and also my own personal experience. i.e. the steadiness of the posture, of that discipline, can be very helpful.

    Thankyou _/\_
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited June 2009
    I suspect that those of us who can't and won't keep up a sitting meditation discipline are not yet truly practicing the Dhamma in full earnest.

    Whilst our practice does not constitute just sitting, still, sitting cannot be undervalued - even if it is just 1/2 hour a day it seems to be very important to those serious about our practice.

    Day by day the flower has to be watered - it just works like this, even if the process is then invisible to the naked eye. But magic does work like this perhaps.

    Anyway here are some words from Pema, which might help anyone:

    The Key to Knowing Ourself is Meditation
    Yes, I definitely agree, Floating. Meditation is a major part of the Path and at the risk of sounding like a hard ass about it, I really can't see Buddhism without it.

    Sorry, Fede. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.:)
  • kennykenny Explorer
    edited June 2009
    Forgive me for my lack of memory when it comes to names but, I once read a story about how a very highly respected Geshe would never sit in what was considered the proper meditative posture he would lounge around and when an unwholesome thought would arise he would place a black stone down on the ground before him and when his mind would be clear or on wholesome thoughts he would place down a white stone. He did this for many years till eventually all he had on the ground was white stones.

    For me, this just enforces the idea that it truly doesn’t matter how you meditate as long as you do. When it all comes down to it we are trying to liberate our mind and the body nor any other form can affect this result. Following a strict routine helps in eliminating distractions and focusing attention (in my personal opinion of course).
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited June 2009
    Of course, meditation feels unnatural or strange when we first try it. That's because we spend life busily trying to fill every moment with something, whether it's TV or thinking about the past or the future,
    planning our next shopping trip, figuring out what bills to pay, etc, etc. We never just sit and be with ourselves. So of course it feels strange. Why wouldn't it? That's why we do it tho. It's a way to break away from our usual, well-worn rut that has only produced suffering and pain in the past. We come to Dharma because we feel that somehow things just aren't right, or maybe we have personally experienced great suffering of some form or another. We're looking for relief, for answers. The answers we get, however, always involve change of some sort, and change is always scary. It is for everyone. But it's like taking an unpleasant medicine. We do it because we believe or hope that it will work as advertised and offer us relief from whatever is ailing us. So we sit. If you feel uncomfortable or strange, it is just part of the practice. If you feel great and have conversations with deities (!), it's just part of the practice. It's all the same. You just keep doing it. You don't have to figure it out, just do it. But initially we have to make that leap or otherwise we just stay stuck forever, like a gerbil on a treadmill.

    Palzang
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited June 2009
    Great post, Palzang, as usual. I always love the way you describe meditation. You don't get all technical and use expressions beginners like me don't understand. I found this part to be such good instruction:
    If you feel uncomfortable or strange, it is just part of the practice. If you feel great and have conversations with deities (!), it's just part of the practice. It's all the same. You just keep doing it. You don't have to figure it out, just do it.
    Sometimes I forget that it's all the same and I definitely waste time and energy trying to figure it out.

    What you said makes me feel relieved because it simplifies the practice of sitting which I think I've been making more and more complicated over the past few months and getting somewhat frustrated as a result. I feel liberated, like it's okay to let go of all the things I thought I was supposed to be achieving, or at least developing, while meditating and just do the practice without analyzing it.

    So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go back to the beginning before I piled all sorts of opinions and ideas on top of my meditation practice and I'll just do it. I totally get what that means now, when people tell you to just do the meditation.

    Thank you so much, Palzang. My sitting practice is going to be new and fresh again and I'm excited about it. :)
  • gracklegrackle Veteran
    edited June 2009
    Brigid,
    Meditation is original research into the nature of your mind. Further as mind is seen as friend rather than foe confusion slips away.
    On a lighter note the Ravens I mentioned are now a family. Mom, Dad and the two kids. Happily qwoking at each other.

    grackle
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited June 2009
    Brigid wrote: »

    Thank you so much, Palzang. My sitting practice is going to be new and fresh again and I'm excited about it. :)

    Don't mention it. Oh wait, you already did!

    Palzang
  • edited June 2009
    I have decided, that, as a beginner, I don't like sitting meditation either. I think that if I had been born and raised in a culture where Yoga postures such as the Lotus are a way of life, I might be able to do sitting meditation without the great pain in my knees which I blew out when I was weight training...but that's getting off the subject. What I have been doing, is sitting out on the porch with my back as tight to the wall as I can get it and my legs straight out infront of me.
  • edited July 2009
    i didnt read the replies
    but personally


    meditation ok, is when u can seriously just still ur mind.
    like Expletive deleted, it doesnt matter where u are, what ur doing, if u can STILL ur mind, and you will know when it happens, thats it.

    what helped me one day , is when i realized or said to myself, this one phrase

    "there is NO discontent"

    u know, u gotta realize the universe everything- ur hand is the universe,

    i always wondered what is my life , i decided its the universe experiencing itself, or something close to that, i working on it...anyway

    YOU ARE everything around u..easy to say hard to experience properly
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2009
    *could you watch your language, please? Thanks.*
  • edited August 2009
    Perhaps only in the West has sitting cross-legged (zazen) become so rigidly identified with 'meditation'. The suttas describe quite a few ways of meditating, and sitting cross-legged is only one. Lying in the 'lion's posture', walking, etc are in no way inferior. That particular cross-legged posture is culturally-conditioned. They just didn't sit on chairs so much back then. For that matter, here in Korea, they still don't. You could just as well be sitting on a stool. It's your mind that's important here, not your body. You just need to be in a position in which you need to maintain a certain amount of wakefulness to keep from falling asleep. For that matter, keep in mind that bhavana includes any type of deep reflection or attention, including talking with others about the dhamma. Nor is sitting cross-legged an integral part of dhyana.

    Certainly, there is a benefit to developing the self-discipline to sit, but remember that this isn't an edict from a god who commanded that 'Thou shalt sit!' As long as you're attending to the mental and physical states and developing your grasp of things as they really are, you're meditating, IMO.
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator
    edited August 2009
    TravisMago wrote: »
    Should I [strike]attempt to[/strike] force myself to do so?
    An unequivocal "yes."

    Disciplining your mind is worth the effort.
  • edited August 2009
    I agree with Lincoln. I need to start practicing too; I used to mediate once or twice a day and then I got lazy and stopped just as soon as I started seeing some positive results in my life. From the little progress that I made, I had the impression that I was looking through a door onto something wonderful, and all I had to do was continue practicing to step on through. Then I stopped.

    I'm going to start with 5-10 minutes at a time and go from there. I hope you do the same!
  • edited September 2009
    This is interesting and quite a relief. I am very new to this. My problem with sitting to meditate is that i have absolutely no time when i am not at work or with my children or husband. The only opportunity I have for solitude is 1/2 hr in the bath, 20 mins in the car and 10mins walking to school. I have been trying (fairly successfully) to use these opportunities to still my mind rather than make to do lists/worry about the kids. However I have been worried that it isn't really 'meditation' (but it still helps).
  • edited September 2009
    One thing I try to practice is a minute of mindfulness each hour or between each class that I teach; that kind of helps me stay centered and mindful during the work day. It's just a very brief meditation session that I do right at my desk at work. Would that be possible for you Hinny? I also try to stay focused on my breath as I'm lying in bed. Of course, it's much easier if one's spouse has already fallen asleep, but I certainly think these short sessions count as meditation. I've definitely been seeing the benefits of a (slightly) more disciplined mind.
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator
    edited September 2009
    hinny wrote: »
    My problem with sitting to meditate is that i have absolutely no time
    Step 1: Go to the bathroom. Lock the stall door and sit for 5 minutes (pants optional). There, you found time. :)
    Urizen wrote: »
    One thing I try to practice is a minute of mindfulness each hour
    That's really cool, I like it.
  • edited September 2009
    Lincoln - they bang on the door! but I agree, that is my best opportunity.
    Urizen - thats a good idea. Little and often. I need to stick at it. :)
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited September 2009
    Hinny,

    Don't forget to be a good friend to yourself and give yourself the same attention and care you give others because you deserve it just as much as they do. You will also be a better mother and caregiver if you are whole and calm. You can demand time for yourself. It doesn't make you less of a mother, it makes you a better mother.
  • edited September 2009
    Thanks Brigid. I think all mothers struggle with that one. But thats why I'm here (my children have driven me to Buddhism lol). I have realised that I can't go on the way I am (I am turning into a demented old hag!) I need to find away of renewing my spirit on a regular basis.
    Don't we all?
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited September 2009
    Absolutely!!
  • edited September 2009
    Glow wrote: »
    I have actually been rather neglectful of "sitting" these days. I have found, however, that my mind will "force" me to deal with my emotions/habits/life during the night, while I'm in bed. I will find myself waking to intense emotions or an emotionally-charged memory or recollection of something that happened during the day, and I have to remind myself to practice "Radical acceptance" and breathe with i in exactly the same manner as in sitting meditation. Does this happen to anyone else?

    Crazy enough it does! Wow, I just figured my brain was more active at night. But this makes so much sense, the only way i've found time to even sleep is when i'm in that meditative state, trying to stay with the breath.
    Heh opened up my eyes that much more Glow thank you. :)
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited September 2009
    What I've found about meditation is my mind is calmer and my emotions are not out of whack. There is no particular position one must use to meditate. If so, there would be a few of us here that would not be able to. I must sit in a chair to meditate. I have a meditation chair that I use when I can, but the point is doing it.

    The Buddha noted that there were five hindrances to meditation which are desire, aversion, sloth, restlessness and doubt. These are normally seen as during the meditation period. Sometimes, it can be before the practice I've found. For me, doubt and restlesness are two big problems. I don't subscribe to any religion and doubt much. But in working with it, I've found that meditation works for me. I had to start somewhere and I took an online meditation course and then a live one. I learned that I had to have some basic trust in the instructors. I get restless mentally so fast. If you have ever heard of the monkey mind, mine is a monkey on speed. It sometimes seems that I've done nothing for a meditation period but I give myself credit for trying. If you don't try, you will never know if it works.
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