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How much would you say your environment effects your meditation?

MingleMingle Veteran
edited March 19 in Buddhism Basics

Perhaps a nice clean room over a dusty cluttered one or on a rock overlooking a lovely sunny beach. Maybe in a room full of others with fire torches or a whistling cave on your own. It all looks the same with your eyes closed I guess. Do you reckon one setting can bring you to the present more efficiently over another? I know someone's gonna say something like "it doesn't matter where you are just always try to be present" but this is just intended as a simply light hearted bit of convo. Even if it just a personal subjective preference. What setting is your favourite one to hit the zen pillow?

Comments

  • 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

    Effect = a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause; make (something) happen; to bring about.

    Affect = make a difference to, have an impact on.

    Love as ever, your resident Grammar Nerd. :tongue: ;)

    You are of course, absolutely right; we would in all probability answer something like, "it doesn't matter where you are just always try to be present." Because in all honesty,that is exactly what the standard and correct answer would be.
    However, I would add that someone who is extremely experienced and very deeply meditative, could do that. And I'm sure that even the most accomplished, expert and experienced meditator would, depending on the distraction, be somewhat swayed by their surroundings.
    So yes, for my part, I do not count myself as someone who can expertly instruct or teach anyone anything in great detail about meditation, and there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever in my view that surroundings contribute a great deal to one's comfort and ease, in meditating.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I think it does matter. Even my teacher tells us frequently that we (here, where I live) have no idea how good we have it for meditation because it is so quiet and nature-filled here. He lives in downtown Minneapolis, so there is always noise. And yes, you most certainly can meditate in it, millions of people do every day. You work with what you have ,and it offers a unique practice. But so does being able to sit in place where you can hear no evidence of industrial human life, and I think too few people in the world get a chance to experience that. I have gotten to the point I can meditate almost anywhere. But it is "easier" and more relaxing and for me more joyful to be able to do so in solitude with nothing breaching my senses other than birds and the wind. But for city people, that can actually be really stressful because they are so accustomed to hearing sirens and traffic and planes and other noise. Just depends what you are used to I guess. I've been camping with city folks who freak out when it gets dark because they've never been in actual darkness in that way. Strange stuff to me, lol.

    lobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    A couple of weeks ago I moved, (literally next door) however in the new place my bedroom door opens out onto a deck overlooking the bush and bay (the same view as my last place) , so I now have the option of meditating on the deck...

    I'm in a fortunate position (in more ways than one) to be close to nature, so the sounds of wildlife are ever present... Cicadas, Crickets, Birds...Plus my eyes are open during meditation practice just as they are when not sitting...

    When it comes to sounds & noise during meditation... Shunryu Suzuki Roshi provides some insight
    Sound & Noise

    No matter where the mind might go-stay in tune (be present) with life's ebb & flow

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    What setting is your favourite one to hit the zen pillow?

    One that is free of loud noises. I know this is a shortcoming on my part, but one that I have yet to get rid of.

    Also one that is free of dogs getting in my face and saying "you should feed us now, you're not doing anything else are you?"

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Very good question @Mingle

    I had very good meditation teachers. I partly learned to meditate in a temple which was being extended with noisy building work. Noise is no different to mind arisings. Allow. Be attentive to and return to the breath, mantra, body, mandala, yidam etc ...

    Locale can have a profound effect. I used to meditate in my local temple when it was still dark or dawn just breaking. At the moment my local churches are kept locked early morning and I may have to use a mosque. Muhammad was a Boddhisattva, just so you know ...

    For my situation, night is quiet and that is when I meditate. As for where ... at the moment, I face a wall ... as ever ;)

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    There is noise, and then there is noise. Noises that really have nothing to do with you, and about which you can do nothing, are easier to deal with. But noises which threaten to demand action on your part are very troublesome.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    I agree that in theory, it seems that it all looks the same with your eyes closed (as long as the environment is quiet), but I sure did get great results when I meditated in a back yard that was filled with fragrant cedar trees, twittering birds, and the sounds of the wind in the trees. It sure seemed like it, anyway. Maybe I was just more motivated in an environment like that. IDK. magic. :)

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited March 20

    Magic indeed. I once had the good fortune to visit a Zendo in Santa Fe, attached to a Soto Zen Monastery. Housed in an big old Spanish colonial style adobe (actually faux adobe) building. It was heated with a large, antique wood stove, the Zendo itself had a very high ceiling supported with log beams, wood floors, and was quite large. The whole place was redolent of cedar and incense, a place of dreams. No description I could make of it could possibly do it justice. It had a large walled courtyard with trees and garden for kinhin, and some low, rambling and rather rustic buildings that served as the monks' quarters.

    I was able to sit with the monks and others in the zendo for several weeks, and the place has remained steadfastly in my memory ever since, an ideal against which all other places are, sadly, compared. It really ruined suburban basements for me, you know?

    I will still burn cedar and pine incense in my little hole in the ground to recall that wonderful place to mind.

    lobster
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Sadly it affects me more than I should let it. Especially with my new job :angry:

    I'm really regretting accepting it. But I'm contracted till November, so I have to deal with it. I also have to get my practise back on track.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Very insightful and revealing posts everyone ... <3
    Peace and quiet outside, is remembered inwardly. @Fosdick gives an example. :)

    The Buddha eventually chose a secluded, quiet spot. So in a sense we take a step away from our environment and its associated distractions. What however if our neighbours are Mara and daughters watching 'Game of Drones/Thrones'? Still we can practice. The Buddha did.

    Is wearing headphones and playing some reminder/music/chanting/waves/bubbling brook etc appropriate? It may be.

    We are initially slowing down our interior and external environment. In a sense approximating peace ...

    Outside in. Inside out.

    Fosdick
  • 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

    @dhammachick said:
    Sadly it affects me more than I should let it. Especially with my new job :angry:

    I'm really regretting accepting it. But I'm contracted till November, so I have to deal with it. I also have to get my practise back on track.

    Sorry to hear that about your job, @dhammachick ... You really need to avoid this kind of stress.... (Like, you need me to tell you that.... ) That's another 8 months..... Whassup....? (PM me....)

  • namarupanamarupa Veteran

    Anywhere where there is no interruption for up to an hour should work.

    lobster
  • 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

    emphasis on 'should'......

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Well, where there are no external interruptions, we create our own. Twitches, itches, yawns, coughs. I actually have an easier time tuning into a bit of external distraction rather than my self-made ones. Some things pull me out of my meditation like a siren going by (our town is so tiny if the ambulance is here you know it's for someone you know), a jackhammer, things like that. But when I sit in my favorite spot, i can tune into the sound of the wind, the chatter of the birds, etc and it helps me. Obviously, we are connected in nature because we are of nature. But really we can use those more jarring experiences to tune in, too. It is our dual that determines a siren is bad while a screeching bird is good. We can (I think) make the choice to tune into either and use it to our advantage. Wanting to make the sound go away is more a disruption to our meditation than just letting it be what it is.

    lobster
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    for me, at the beginning, i mean my meditation in early days, i needed a quite place, specially i did meditation in temples and chose to sit in night at home when there was no disturbances

    gradually it is changed

    now, it doesn't matter when or where i am,s as soon as mindfulness arise 'here i go again'

    lobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited March 21

    @Fosdick said:
    Magic indeed. I once had the good fortune to visit a Zendo in Santa Fe, attached to a Soto Zen Monastery. Housed in an big old Spanish colonial style adobe (actually faux adobe) building. It was heated with a large, antique wood stove, the Zendo itself had a very high ceiling supported with log beams, wood floors, and was quite large. The whole place was redolent of cedar and incense, a place of dreams. No description I could make of it could possibly do it justice. It had a large walled courtyard with trees and garden for kinhin, and some low, rambling and rather rustic buildings that served as the monks' quarters.

    I was able to sit with the monks and others in the zendo for several weeks, and the place has remained steadfastly in my memory ever since, an ideal against which all other places are, sadly, compared. It really ruined suburban basements for me, you know?

    I will still burn cedar and pine incense in my little hole in the ground to recall that wonderful place to mind.

    That sounds like Roshi Joan Halifax's place, Upaya Zen Center. I live in Santa Fe, so I can go there any time. She has an active schedule of visiting teachers, and she hosts Stephen and Martine Batchelor there for week-long retreats annually. And yes, they've done a wonderful job with the architectural design and the landscaping.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited March 21

    @Dakini - It could be the same outfit, but the building I visited more than 30 -35 years ago was sold and the monks had to move elsewhere. The old building was a happy accident, it was just there and the monks leased it and it was perfect. I think the monk's quarters had originally served as stables for horses.

    My sister still lives in Santa Fe, and some of my in-laws, so there is a chance I will be able to visit this Upaya Center some fine day - I hope so, though I have done very little traveling of late.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    Another external element that I have found very helpful in meditation is the sight of the head monk stalking around the zendo with his keisaku. His mere presence is a powerful inducement to maintaining alertness.

    In the aforementioned zendo, the head monk confined his activities to gently poking those who seemed about to nod off, which I thought was a pity. I often wished he would give me a good whack between the shoulder blades - had he done so, I am certain I would be an enlightened being today. B)

    lobsterShoshindhammachick
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    As a person who loves to take mindful breathing breaks anywhere, I do acknowledge there is a big difference between meditating in a temple or in the food court in a shopping mall.

    Yet, the fact of not happening to find myself in the right environment should never serve as an excuse not to meditate.
    Rather get used to meditating five minutes on a construction site than not meditating at all.

    lobsterTraveller
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    To paraphrase Ajahn Chah the sound doesn't disturb you, you disturb the sound.

    lobsterDhammaDragon
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Indeed @Lonely_Traveller B)

    What is our 'sound'/disturbance/dukkha? When you can sit/be present/remain undisturbed by disturbance, Jedi will you be ... ;)

    TravellerDhammaDragon
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