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Questions and a funny aside on this mornings practice

JohnCobbJohnCobb Hot Springs Arkansas Explorer

I have only recently begun meditation practice and feel that I fail quite horribly at it each time. I know this takes time to develop. If I may outline my basic practice first, then ask a couple of questions.
The first thing I do is light a candle and some incense. I make prostrations before the candle and incense, usually reciting a refuge prayer. After that, I usually take my seating position and try to control and focus on my breathing. I may look at a spot between myself and the floor or I may watch the dancing flame of the candle or the smoke of the incense. This morning, I was having a lot of trouble focusing and so started playing the On Tara mantra on my phone and focused on that. I found a beautiful version of that chant on YouTube and it always puts me in such a good space. When I can just no longer sit still, I make more prostrations, maybe reciting the I'm Tara mantra or reciting the Refuge vow. Sometimes in my meditation I pray (if that's even the right word) to Buddha or to Tara for help with my practice.
Now, after all that, my question is what do I do when I'm sitting and I have an itch or my nose runs, or any of the thousand other uncomfortable things that happen to our body? Do I ignore them and keep trying to focus or do I deal with them and go back to breathing or chanting? I know my practice is all over the place, but I'm trying lol.
A comical note to this morning's practice. I place my candle and incense on the table that holds my son's PS4 steering wheel. I do not have a shrine set up yet and this is most convenient for me right now. As I was doing my prostrations at the beginning, I guess the steering wheel went into sleep mode or something (it's one of those fancy force feedback things) and began turning left and right by itself. I about came out of my skin when that happened 🤣🤣🤣
Thank you all for all your answers to all my questions ❤️ Namo Buddhaya!

Shoshin1

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

    There are so many teachers who recommend focusing on the itch, and permitting it to fade on its own... concentrating and focusing on your meditation, and ignoring or transcending the desire to scratch... Me? if it itches, I scratch. If my posture is uncomfortable, I change it. If I ache, I move. Sorry, but life's too short for stupid distractions.

    There was a young belle of old Natchez
    Whose garments were always in patchez.
    When comment arose
    On the state of her clothes
    She, drawled, "When ah itchez, ah scratchez."

    JohnCobblobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I fail quite horribly at it each time

    Excellent. That'll teach us who is in control … ain't us monkeys that is for sure.

    Here is a directed calming/preparation, that might be helpful. It is about getting comfortable …
    https://newbuddhist.com/discussion/26815/falling-in-love-with-meditation-again

    JohnCobb
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    I think it will vary with the stages of your practice. When just setting out, scratching occasionally is ok. Later on you may just want to meditate through it.

    JohnCobb
  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Veteran

    my question is what do I do when I'm sitting and I have an itch or my nose runs, or any of the thousand other uncomfortable things that happen to our body?

    If it's an itch then sit with it for as long as you can resisting the urge to scratch it, at first it can be quite difficult to do and the desire to scratch becomes overwhelming, when this happens scratch it, however. after a while the length of resistance time increases to the point where the itch will gradually disappear without any assistance from you... Nothing is permanent

    After practicing for a while everything that happens on the cushion is meditation and is experienced in a mindful way, for example an itch can arise and be dealt with mindfully where it does not interfere with the practice as it is part of the meditation practice...

    Well this is the plan....which I'm itching to put into practice ...

    JohnCobblobster
  • 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

    Has anyone ever watched HHDL during an interview? or when he's giving a talk? He never stops scratching, rubbing, touching, stroking... he's constantly fidgeting.
    Maybe he gets it all over and done with so that when he meditates, there's nothing to bother him, he's dealt with it all, already!

    BunksJohnCobb
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited June 7

    Sometimes from my zafu....

    When an itch either becomes the sum total of my attention, or is ignored, only a concentration exercise is occurring..

    When an itch is equally felt with all that I am also seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting & thinking of, then this might be called a meditation.

    Scratching an itch or not, while sitting, seems like a very isolated measurement of ones meditation.

    JohnCobblobster
  • JohnCobbJohnCobb Hot Springs Arkansas Explorer
    edited June 7

    Thank you all so much for your answers; as always, I appreciate every one of them. I'll be watching the Falling in Love With Meditation shared by @lobster this evening.
    I am very grateful to the Sangha ❤️

    Shoshin1lobster
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @JohnCobb said:
    I have only recently begun meditation practice and feel that I fail quite horribly at it each time. I know this takes time to develop. If I may outline my basic practice first, then ask a couple of questions.

    There are some great responses already but I'll chime in. I am no expert though and can only speak to my own experience.

    The first thing I do is light a candle and some incense. I make prostrations before the candle and incense, usually reciting a refuge prayer. After that, I usually take my seating position and try to control and focus on my breathing. I may look at a spot between myself and the floor or I may watch the dancing flame of the candle or the smoke of the incense.

    Focusing on breathing is good but trying to control it may be counter-productive. In the Plum Village tradition, simply being aware of the qualities of the breath is the first step. Like "Breathing in a long breath I am aware I am breathing in a long breath". I feel that trying to control the breath is like adding a story to random thought. Notice it but just let it be.

    This morning, I was having a lot of trouble focusing and so started playing the On Tara mantra on my phone and focused on that. I found a beautiful version of that chant on YouTube and it always puts me in such a good space. When I can just no longer sit still, I make more prostrations, maybe reciting the I'm Tara mantra or reciting the Refuge vow. Sometimes in my meditation I pray (if that's even the right word) to Buddha or to Tara for help with my practice.

    Have you ever tried a guided meditation?

    I also do prayer but I'm not asking anybody for anything, just putting the intention out there like watering a seed. "May all beings be able to live fresh, solid and free"

    Now, after all that, my question is what do I do when I'm sitting and I have an itch or my nose runs, or any of the thousand other uncomfortable things that happen to our body? Do I ignore them and keep trying to focus or do I deal with them and go back to breathing or chanting? I know my practice is all over the place, but I'm trying lol.

    For me, it depends on many factors. Sometimes I'll just try to stay with the uncomfortableness for a determined amount of time and others (like during a guided meditation) I just scratch the nose because the itch is a distraction.

    lobster
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