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soupdragon1973
02-01-2013, 10:00 AM
Do you practice meditation outside the dojo and do you find it effective in using in your Aikido practice? Or life generally? How long do you meditate for? I have started doing at home but usually only manage 10-15 mins per day but I hope to increase that to 30 mins per day.

NekVTAikido
02-01-2013, 07:32 PM
Yes, I practice meditation, and I find it has a significant impact on my training.

My practice is mindfulness, from the Tibetan tradition - not an intense focus, but a relaxation and noticing. Mostly I notice my body and posture - which of course translates immediately into awareness that is useful on the mat. Habituating the mind to remain relaxed, alert, aware of a broad field of vision (field of perception) without being fascinated by any one thing within it (or being willing to gently drop the fascination as it is noticed) is good practice. Being well practiced in that is enormously helpful when training.

notlimahttocs
05-07-2013, 07:28 PM
Hi Alex-

I practice meditation regularly off the mat. It is part of my own spiritual journey and my professional work as a licensed mental health counselor. I find that meditation allows me to still the mind in a way that can translate onto the mat. The best way for you to understand it is to experience it for yourself. There are many forms of meditation so do you research and maybe consider finding a good teacher. Lots of info and resources out there. You might check out "The Intuitive Body" by Wendy Palmer: http://www.amazon.com/The-Intuitive-Body-Discovering-Embodiment/dp/1583942122/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367972774&sr=8-1&keywords=conscious+embodiment

SeiserL
05-08-2013, 08:07 AM
Been meditating since high school.

Mental calmness, clarity and discipline is always useful.

Bill Danosky
09-03-2013, 10:47 AM
I find meditation to be absolutely crucial. I wouldn't pretend to know how it actually works, but life works better the more you do it. There are thousands and thousands of guided meditations on YouTube, so you can explore for the rest of your life, and you should. Some people like a particular practice and stick with it "religiously". But don't get hung up about it. It's important to realize that even when you just sit and do nothing, you are getting somewhere.

dps
09-05-2013, 03:42 AM
Do you practice meditation outside the dojo and do you find it effective in using in your Aikido practice? Or life generally? How long do you meditate for? I have started doing at home but usually only manage 10-15 mins per day but I hope to increase that to 30 mins per day.

I listen to it throughout the day.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7UmcdTQ2x4
dps

PaulF
09-05-2013, 04:09 AM
I practice standing/moving meditation in the form of Taiji and Qigong, I find it highly relevant to aikido in terms such as developing a sense of centre/one point, keeping weight underside and the relationship between breath and energy. However, I don't have a spiritual attitude towards any of it and take anything that smells like dogma as metaphor. Sifu would probably say that this makes it devoid of meaning or intent but that's fine with me, each to their own. :)

lbb
09-05-2013, 09:00 AM
The answers here illustrate the difficulty with a question like "Do you practice meditation". "Meditation" is a very broad term, and as you can see here, covers a wide range of practices with different objectives, some of which are mutually exclusive -- one cannot practice "meditation" in the sense of Christian prayer and also practice shamatha vipassana, for example. Some of these practices require acceptance of a belief system, others do not. It may be possible to blend some of them into a single practice, but I don't think it's wise to assume that you can -- you'd need to really learn about the specific practices that interest you before you could make that call.

If the meditation practiced in your dojo is your inspiration for meditating outside the dojo, that's great -- just be aware that very, very few dojos really teach meditation practices. Most dojo "meditation" is at best cursory and a matter of monkey-see-monkey-do, rather than a practice taught by someone who follows and understands a regular practice. Having everyone sit still and close their eyes and hold their hands in a funny gesture is not the same as teaching a meditation practice, not even when you toss in a few vague phrases like "Clear your mind" and whatnot. There are significant exceptions, to be sure, but for most of us, in most dojos, if we really want to develop a meditation practice, we should look outside our dojos for guidance and support. There's nothing wrong with doing so -- most senseis are honest and humble enough to admit that they're not qualified to teach esoteric practices -- and there's much to be gained.

phitruong
09-05-2013, 09:52 AM
i meditated for years. however, it's very hard for me to meditate, because my head would go on various commentary trips, for example, i would stand in hug-the-tree pose, deep breathing, then my head would start,

"i wonder if popcorn go good with this..hmmm"
"what if i put some butter on the popcorn. no no.. butter would be bad for cholesterol..."
"what if i dip popcorn in barbeque sauce like my son... strange little bugger.."
"you know what go really good with bbq sauce? chicken wings! ya, them nice deep fried wings.."
"need celery and carrot with dips to go with the wings. maybe some drinks too....."
"can't have drink with out something to watch...."
"maybe the expendables movies with all them old actors to make me feel young...."
"wonder if they are going to put steven seagal in the next one......"
.....
.....

hughrbeyer
09-05-2013, 10:05 PM
I'm actually doing tree-hugging right now mostly as an aid to aikido practice. Learnings so far:

It's like zazen for the body. Just as in zazen the first thing you learn is that your mind can't be quiet for five seconds without hareing off on "commentary trips", I'm finding my body can't be quiet for five seconds without tensing up somewhere. The layers of tension I carry without being aware are phenomenal.

Correlation is not causation, but starting standing meditation has been associated with some major, and rather uncomfortable, personal and life insights.

Anyway, I think I'm getting a lot of value out of it, at least for now.

Janet Rosen
09-06-2013, 12:02 AM
I'm actually doing tree-hugging right now mostly as an aid to aikido practice. Learnings so far:

It's like zazen for the body. Just as in zazen the first thing you learn is that your mind can't be quiet for five seconds without hareing off on "commentary trips", I'm finding my body can't be quiet for five seconds without tensing up somewhere. The layers of tension I carry without being aware are phenomenal.

Correlation is not causation, but starting standing meditation has been associated with some major, and rather uncomfortable, personal and life insights.

Anyway, I think I'm getting a lot of value out of it, at least for now.

I find it really hard. OTOH I could never bear seated meditation so this is a way better practice for me...and working on internal skills too....:)

Bill Danosky
09-06-2013, 11:34 AM
...I could never bear seated meditation...
I always have to gut out the first 5-10 minutes of seated meditation, where my mind really struggles against it. Then it gives over and the rest is marvelous. Like a silent retreat, one of the major objectives is the experience of release, when your mind finally surrenders. Your mind is not you. You can make it do what you want.

Janet Rosen
09-06-2013, 02:16 PM
I always have to gut out the first 5-10 minutes of seated meditation, where my mind really struggles against it. Then it gives over and the rest is marvelous. Like a silent retreat, one of the major objectives is the experience of release, when your mind finally surrenders. Your mind is not you. You can make it do what you want.

Some of us have physical, not necessarily mental issues, that make seated meditation (in any position) virtually undoable. Sitting still + focusing on breathing or nothing = rapid chronic pain flareup. That's why a standing form that specifically includes miniscule adjustments is at least somewhat doable + gives me something to deal with. Walking meditation even better. chacun a son gout. (yes, a pun too, tho the ailment is not mine)

bkedelen
09-06-2013, 02:23 PM
If you are into meditation as a singular non-activity of non-doing, in opposition to everything else in life (with the possible exception of sleep), you need to assume a non-action body position. Sitting and laying down are the two most accessible non-action body positions, and since everyone except yogis consider lying down to be too tempting of a sleep ready position, sitting is the default.

Bill Danosky
09-07-2013, 02:46 PM
..Walking meditation even better.

Love it!

"Where are we going? To the present moment, and we arrive again with each step."

Janet Rosen
09-07-2013, 06:12 PM
"Where are we going? To the present moment, and we arrive again with each step."

:)

bkedelen
09-09-2013, 02:02 PM
I have never been able to make "moving meditation" work. Possibly because of my rather narrow definition of what "meditation" means. It is bad enough that I have to keep breathing, I just cannot seem to make "doing nothing for a while" work while doing stuff, because for me those things are mutually exclusive. Moving meditation rings the same as gimmicky fitness equipment to me. Being stationary and making a non-effort at lessiness is kinda what the experience is all about. Any inconvenience or lack of productivity that results is just part of the bargain.

Trying to produce results, hell even considering meditation an activity means I am still not doing it. I already spend a hell of a lot of time not doing it because I can barely get my head around the material in the first place, despite it being the very heart of simplicity. The last thing I need is to have walking, stretching, or training teasing me away from the void.

Janet Rosen
09-09-2013, 03:23 PM
I have never been able to make "moving meditation" work. ,,,. Moving meditation rings the same as gimmicky fitness equipment to me.

The monks here (http://www.abhayagiri.org/home)would be very surprised that something I heard discussed as a perfectly viable meditation form by their then Chief Abbot (interestingly, a dead ringer for Christopher Eccleston, who had recently started as Dr. Who...) would be considered gimmicky.

bkedelen
09-09-2013, 04:04 PM
If they are practitioners of any functional system they wouldn't give a fart about what happens in other traditions, or what I think about their methods. I rewrote this post a number of times looking for a why to move the discussion forward positively and have failed. With that I bid you good day.

Bill Danosky
09-10-2013, 10:15 AM
The Catholic Church has long sent Fathers and monks to study at Buddhist monasteries, to learn their meditation practices. And I think you could say they are practitioners of a functional system. It's very fortunate for them, because many Buddhist meditation practices are too beneficial, too beautiful to miss.

There are even many versions of, say Walking meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches little children in France to say, "Oui (yes)", when stepping with their left foot. "Merci (thank you)", when they step with their right. They may take 3 steps on the in breath, 2 on the out breath, or more or less. Whatever the natural rhythm is. It's important to teach them to say, "Yes!" to life, and, "Thank You!"

But the focus of walking meditation is reminding you to Be Here Now. The perpetual now. Like Zen, it focuses you intently on the ordinary. Everything you notice, you touch with your mindfulness. So often, "We breathe, but we don't know that we are breathing. We walk, but we don't know we are walking. We live, but we don't know that we are living. Our existence is dull and blurry, like a dream." (More Thich Nhat Hanh, who is sort-of the Dalai Lama of Theravada Buddhism).

It reminds me of this quote by Herman Melville, "As the appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the heart of man lies a single, insular Tahiti- Full of peace and joy, but surrounded by the horrors of the half-lived life." It's pretentious to Quote Melville, but it's such a strong statement. "... the horrors of the half-lived life." It can be a shallow, fearful existence if you fail to embrace it.

bkedelen
09-10-2013, 12:50 PM
I would not invest the slightest trust in the catholic church's estimation of value.

I thought, from the title of the thread, that we were talking about what english speaking zen practitioners also refer to as "sitting", which I understand to be a formal training method that is more or less universally practiced by Buddhists.

If fancy pants famous characters want to call other types of practice meditation too, that is certainly their prerogative, but I suspect such overloading of the term is the root of the lack of common ground on the subject.

I guess that having diverse interpretations of esoteric terminology is very apropos to this venue.

Fred Little
09-10-2013, 01:59 PM
I would not invest the slightest trust in the catholic church's estimation of value.

I thought, from the title of the thread, that we were talking about what english speaking zen practitioners also refer to as "sitting", which I understand to be a formal training method that is more or less universally practiced by Buddhists.

If fancy pants famous characters want to call other types of practice meditation too, that is certainly their prerogative, but I suspect such overloading of the term is the root of the lack of common ground on the subject.

I guess that having diverse interpretations of esoteric terminology is very apropos to this venue.

Ben,

When I was introduced to formal sitting meditation in a Buddhist setting, the morning meditation was two periods of seated meditation, joined by a shorter period of mindful walking meditation. There was really no question of this being two periods of "meditation" separated by an "intermission" of movement; what was being practiced was one long period of meditation which passed through distinct modes of practice (Preliminary practices-sitting-walking-sitting-concluding practices).

Even within that framework, there are many possible variations. For example, Mary Malmros referred earlier in the thread to shamatha vipassana, referencing two distinct modes of meditation that are emphasized to various degrees in different traditions. Each of these modes has a long tradition of practice, instructions for practice, and advanced instructions for practice. And each tradition has its own sequence in which it introduces these distinct modes, and relative emphasis on one, the other, or both in some intertwined or sequenced fashion. At no point in thirty years of aikido training have I encountered instructions with anything like the specificity of those for either seated or moving meditation which I first encountered in the Soto Zen tradition.

Moreover, these are not the only modes of meditation practiced within the broader Buddhist tradition-- there are more than a few others. Many of these may look entirely the same to an outside observer, but be entirely different as to the methods and goal of the practitioner. Looking is not seeing, in such a case.

Notwithstanding the DIY bent of much of our culture, if you have specific goals for meditation practice, it's a good idea to a) find someone who has achieved those goals through meditation practice, b) successfully helped someone else achieve those goals through meditation practice and c) get yourself some individual guidance.

Maybe you're entirely right and meditative movement is entirely wrong for you. But that doesn't mean that there's no such thing as moving meditation, or that it doesn't benefit some people.

It just means that the moving meditation which you've encountered doesn't suit your current desires.

For my part, my sense is that the common characterization of aikido as "moving meditation" is little more than a tattered banner on the dusty and largely abandoned fairgrounds that once held the sprawling Carnival of the New Age, a lost phenomenon that now exists in little more than a few remnant populations in Ithaca, Amherst, Boulder, Santa Cruz, and points beyond. And just as Sugano Sensei once responded to a request for weapons training by telling the student "If you want mochi, go to the mochi maker," I think that people who are looking for meditation practice would do well to go to someone with some sound experience in meditation practice, whether Buddhist or Shinto in derivation.

And I would further suggest that, for best results, those from whom you are taking advice about meditation be people whose meditation practice and instruction is in no way dependent on their relationship with any martial arts instructor, particularly as students.

My .02. Hope it helps.

Fred Little

bkedelen
09-10-2013, 04:15 PM
While I will admit that professional meditators can probably make a lot of things work that are not accessible to me, I can't seem to find a way to practice stillness while moving around. So basically yes, it is entirely wrong for me. I don't seem to have explained what I am working on well enough to make that as obvious to readers as it is to me. I am not saying other's are definitely not meditating when they do moving meditation, I am just being skeptical since anything less would be uncivilized.

Your comment about Aikido as "moving meditation" is exactly what I was trying to say earlier, but phrased much better. Aikido and budo are what they are, they don't also need to be meditation (or fitness, or trauma counselling, or drama club). People interested in eastern traditions that don't include meditation seem to be unwilling to admit that they are not also doing meditation in some way. I became interested in meditation for this exact reason.

Eventually you have to dance with the girl that brought you.

phitruong
09-10-2013, 04:30 PM
got a really really stupid question. what is meditation?

bkedelen
09-10-2013, 05:08 PM
At this point, what isn't meditation?

Bill Danosky
09-10-2013, 10:44 PM
"There are many paths to the mountaintop, but the view of the stars from the top is the same. Start wherever you are." - I. D. Know

The reason there are so many kinds of meditation, is that there are so many perspectives and viewpoints. Every being has their own trajectory and meditating gradually orients you toward the essential, intrinsic truth that we are all headed to.

So have a practice; don't have a practice. The universe will get there either way, and you will arrive in your own time. But consider an important thing- the experience of life with a wealth of meditation is beautiful and enriching. How is your skepticism fulfilling you?

bkedelen
09-11-2013, 12:24 AM
You only read the last couple comments before posting, and therefore misinterpretedy comment, and the value judgment that skepticism would somehow prevent fulfillment is pretty far off topic, but lets play anyway:

So far it hasn't been a problem for me. It just saves a lot of money and time by preventing the effects of religion and charlatanry. It's not foolproof by any means, it's just a big improvement upon being without the tools to evaluate the world from a logical, neutral position.

PaulF
09-11-2013, 03:06 AM
got a really really stupid question. what is meditation?

Hi Phi, hang on, lmgtfy (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=meditation) ;)

To be vaguely serious though, I guess in my initial post I was thinking of it as the quietening of that internal narrator that you portrayed above, mine is less interested in food though. :p

I can't do this in seated meditation, he just gets more vocal and irritating. He shuts up when I've done an hour of hard Aikido training to the point where I'm near puking and then have to go through a few kata or taigi, but that seems a little too brutal to count. He shuts up quickest when we do Qigong in a group but he starts up with that "you're not quite doing it right" thing when doing the Yang short form. Maybe in 10 years he'll quit with that. :rolleyes:

Bill Danosky
09-11-2013, 11:13 AM
You only read the last couple comments before posting, and therefore misinterpretedy comment, and the value judgment that skepticism would somehow prevent fulfillment is pretty far off topic, but lets play anyway:

So far it hasn't been a problem for me. It just saves a lot of money and time by preventing the effects of religion and charlatanry. It's not foolproof by any means, it's just a big improvement upon being without the tools to evaluate the world from a logical, neutral position.

I'm not judging any comments you made, necessarily, but your tone is very resistant, very contentious. It's not foolproof, either, but it's a decent barometer of the state of your consciousness. That doesn't make you wrong, but it's very tiring. You can't row your boat gently up the stream.

Your resitance to religion and charlantry is reasonable- no one really requires anything of you to aid in your "salvation". Only your compassion toward other beings, and willingness to earnestly practice.

Tonglen might be a good practice for you. Sit and breathe in all the negativity in the world, then breathe out loving kindness to all beings, if you like. Do that 20 minutes daily for a month, then see how your life has improved while you were distracted. It will. Compassion is absolutely free to give away, but it pays huge dividends.

Fred Little
09-11-2013, 11:49 AM
Tonglen might be a good practice for you. Sit and breathe in all the negativity in the world, then breathe out loving kindness to all beings, if you like. Do that 20 minutes daily for a month, then see how your life has improved while you were distracted. It will. Compassion is absolutely free to give away, but it pays huge dividends.

With all due respect, I would point out that tonglen is regarded as a relatively advanced practice in the Tibetan tradition, and is traditionally thought to require a sound grounding in both shamatha and vipassana meditative practice as well as a basic understanding of the principle of voidness as taught in that tradition.

The reason is simple: there's a lot of negativity in the world and many people can find this kind of practice quite overwhelming.

If you have benefited from this practice, that's great. But it's not a form of meditative practice I would recommend out of the gate, unless I knew the individual personally, had a clear indication it was appropriate to that individual, and could direct him/her to a qualified teacher with whom regular contact would occur, who has a bit of experience with what to do if the practice starts to overwhelm the practitioner.

If someone reading your post finds themselves inexplicably attracted to tonglen practice, I would advise those individuals to see if they can find a qualified instructor with whom they feel comfortable and with whom they can have regular contact before embarking on that form of practice.

Better safe than sorry.

Best,

Fred Little

lbb
09-11-2013, 12:11 PM
I would not invest the slightest trust in the catholic church's estimation of value.

I thought, from the title of the thread, that we were talking about what english speaking zen practitioners also refer to as "sitting", which I understand to be a formal training method that is more or less universally practiced by Buddhists.

I don't think that's a given. We're using the English word "meditation", which comes to us from the Latin, dates from about 1200, and therefore seems likely to have its roots in Christian spiritual practices. Nowadays, it's used for a range of spiritual practices (see my earlier post). No one tradition owns the term "meditation", not even within the context of an Aikido forum.

(as an aside, I'd disagree with "more or less universally practiced by Buddhists". I've practiced Zen and also shamata vipassana -- my current practice -- and find that while they have much in common, they also have significant differences)

If fancy pants famous characters want to call other types of practice meditation too, that is certainly their prerogative, but I suspect such overloading of the term is the root of the lack of common ground on the subject.

I guess that having diverse interpretations of esoteric terminology is very apropos to this venue.

It depends on the terminology, but in the case of the word "meditation", I'd say that's appropriate anywhere. It's a very wide-ranging term and is not "overloaded" by anything that anyone's said here. I think it's perfectly valid to frame it in a specific context for the purposes of a discussion ("Zen meditation", for instance), but that's not how this discussion began.

Bill Danosky
09-11-2013, 01:14 PM
With all due respect, I would point out that tonglen is regarded as a relatively advanced practice in the Tibetan tradition, and is traditionally thought to require a sound grounding in both shamatha and vipassana meditative practice as well as a basic understanding of the principle of voidness as taught in that tradition.


Nah, 7-year-olds do Tonglen. There are levels to everything.

hughrbeyer
09-18-2013, 06:35 PM
I was giving this thread a pass, but I'm in the mood to run my mouth today* so I thought I'd weigh in with a defense of the "Aikido as moving meditation" point of view.

The main form of mediation I'm at all familiar with is zazen. That practice, as I understand it, is a practice of mindfulness--how to be fully present in the moment without distraction and without the constant second-guessing so many of us are prone to--the little voice constantly looking over your shoulder, evaluating your performance, and commenting on your actions. The first thing you learn practicing zazen, of course, is how hard it is to keep the mind focused--it's constantly haring off after one shiny object or another.

But zazen is just kindergarten practice. By removing most external stimuli, it makes the task of staying focused as simple as possible (and even there, most of us mostly fail). The ultimate goal is to be able to take this focused, centered mind back into the marketplace (a Zen phrase). Many of the stories and koans Zen practitioners tell show how a Zen master brought his clarity of mind to real-life situations. (Which is not all sweetness and light. One monk regularly told a story about how her teacher's clarity of mind led him to throw her elaborate flower arrangement out out in the front yard as soon as he saw it.)

The point is, in these stories, that the protagonist isn't acting out of their own preconceptions, prejudices, or assumptions, but simply as a reflection of what's there. The enlightened mind, as they say, is like a still pool--when there's a cloud it reflects the cloud. When there's no cloud, it reflects blue sky.

The monastery where I studied would regularly include activities designed to encourage you to attempt to take this clarity of focus out into other activities (cleaning bathrooms, chopping vegetables, etc.).

So with Aikido. On a good day, an Aikido technique can be a context in which to practice the same kind of focus. When I'm responding to the attack uke has given me, I can respond out of my idea of what they ought to be doing. I can respond out of my idea of the technique I think I ought to be practicing. Or I can just respond to the needs of the moment--without planning, without thought. Obviously, this is a trained response, but not all that trained--I first started to (occasionally) have this experience only a few years in.

And it's practiced just as well as uke. To simultaneously deliver a real attack, protect against openings, and respond to whatever technique is applied to you requires that you give up any idea that you are controlling what happens--you are simply present in the moment. Sometimes what happens in the moment is kaeshi waza, and that's fine too--but it's not the point. The point is that good defense comes out of mushin and being alive to the possibilities of the moment.

---
* Dark & Stormy, sunshine, Embarcadero

Carsten Möllering
09-19-2013, 03:42 AM
We're using the English word "meditation", which comes to us from the Latin, dates from about 1200, and therefore seems likely to have its roots in Christian spiritual practices.Yes.
As far as I know the connection of the word "meditatio" to the practice of e.g. za zen and other comparable practices stems from Christians who found the practices they experienced in China or Japan to be similiar to their own spiritual practice that was called "meditatio".
So when they integrated them they were also labeled "meditatio".
It were those christians who brought spiritual practices like za zen to Europe as part of their own christian meditatio long before those practices started their own, independent history in the west.

I think it is important not to narrow the understanding of what meditation means in the context of aikidō too much.

I myself practiced za zen years ago. I'm now doing a form of meditation which is related to nei gong. And forms of christian meditation accompany me all the time.
My direct teacher practices forms of shintō and also shingon buddhism.
Our shihan is doing za zen.
A dohai of me practices christian meditation very intensively.
Another friend does something I don't know and don't understand like meditating with trees and things like that.
...
To me all this is "medititation". All this is connected to the practice of aikidō within the persons who practice one to nurture the other.

Bernd Lehnen
09-19-2013, 07:42 AM
Yes.
As far as I know the connection of the word "meditatio" to the practice of e.g. za zen and other comparable practices stems from Christians who found the practices they experienced in China or Japan to be similiar to their own spiritual practice that was called "meditatio".
So when they integrated them they were also labeled "meditatio".
It were those christians who brought spiritual practices like za zen to Europe as part of their own christian meditatio long before those practices started their own, independent history in the west.

I think it is important not to narrow the understanding of what meditation means in the context of aikidō too much.


Yes.

I would like to add, that in my view (like in the practice of aikido where you may prefer tenkan or irimi, flight or fight ) there exist two main streams of meditation. One is to avoid (usually the perceived negatives of) the world. The other is to strengthen yourself to get enabled to accept what lies before you. Both of them can lead you in the long term to throw away seeking and longing (and meditation) and accept and see things as they are. Nothing has changed but, may be, your view of everything has. May be, you have found your inner freedom. You will die anyway. But, may be, you will live up to then another life.

And I'd like to add, that I don't see why a purely humanistic logic approach, without the usual meditation practices, couldn't lead one to equal results.

Best,

Bernd

lbb
09-19-2013, 07:58 AM
And I'd like to add, that I don't see why a purely humanistic logic approach, without the usual meditation practices, couldn't lead one to equal results.

Well, it could, but I think Hugh explained it quite well above. A meditation practice such as zazen is a practice in the sense of an activity that is carried out regularly or habitually...but it's also "practice" in the sense of repeated exercise with the goal of achieving proficiency. In this case, the proficiency being sought after is proficiency in mindfulness. The practice of zazen creates a deliberately simplified environment in which there aren't many distractions to overcome in the quest for full awareness and mindfulness. It's a practice environment, like the smooth mats and (somewhat) predictable attacks of the dojo -- in my own meditation practice, I think of it as being like the training wheels on a bicycle. The goal of training wheels isn't to ride your bike forever with training wheels: they're an aid to developing proficiency that will eventually let you ride without them. The analogy breaks down, because at least in my limited experience, I do have to keep coming back to those "training wheels" of meditation, and my moments of really being able to "ride the bike" without them are pretty infrequent. And certainly, people can and do learn to "ride the bike" without the training wheels (um...in fact, I learned to ride a bike without training wheels myself...damn, and I was really liking that analogy! :D ). But while not everybody needs a training aid, and while not every training aid works equally well for every person, it's not a bad idea to use training aids when trying to acquire a difficult skill, no?

Bill Danosky
10-03-2013, 04:32 PM
I have a vast arsenal of concrete practices, but my favorite is one of the simplest:

Say, "Yes." on the in breath;
"Thank you." on the out breath.

Sojourner
12-09-2013, 06:34 PM
got a really really stupid question. what is meditation?

I think its a different thing for different people, the way I learnt it was that its about a process of emptying your mind of thought and focusing on breathing patterns. The heart rate then slows and it enables people to feel less stress and anxiety. - Again I suspect the outcome and process are differnet for differnet people.

Janet Rosen
12-09-2013, 06:47 PM
I think its a different thing for different people, the way I learnt it was that its about a process of emptying your mind of thought and focusing on breathing patterns. The heart rate then slows and it enables people to feel less stress and anxiety. - Again I suspect the outcome and process are differnet for differnet people.

Interesting. To me that is simply a physiological relaxation technique, not a meditation practice.

Sojourner
12-09-2013, 09:07 PM
Interesting. To me that is simply a physiological relaxation technique, not a meditation practice.

Hi Janet, I have little experience in it, when I did it it was actually at a Hapkido Dojo, where after the classes the Sensei would lead those that wanted to stay back in it. I found it pretty helpful but never took it any further as I moved on from doing Hapkido and away from the Dojo.

lbb
12-10-2013, 09:12 AM
Interesting. To me that is simply a physiological relaxation technique, not a meditation practice.

Perhaps the word "focusing" is confusing. In meditation practices such as zazen, breathing is the focus, yes -- but it's a focus of observation, not "thinking about" and definitely not trying to breathe in any particular way. We observe the breath, which will happen anyway -- it's not something that we need to try to do, so it's got special value because we don't need to set our mind (even a small part of it) to the work or effort of breathing. We can just observe it without thinking about it ("Gee, I wonder if I'm breathing right, is this deep enough, maybe I'm getting a cold") and without trying to do it. This contrasts with a number of relaxation techniques in which there is an effort to try and breathe in a certain way. See my earlier comment above.

Fred Little
12-10-2013, 11:07 AM
My experience is that there is also significant variation in the introductory meditation practices taught in differing Zen lineages, some of which are more prescriptive than Mary's replies suggest. This is less a disagreement than a basis for my observation that I would extend her well-taken remarks about the variety of practices subsumed under the generic label "meditation" across multiple traditions to intra-tradition variants as well.

It may not be a bad thing to ponder the possibility that the primary benefits any individual seeks when embarking on the practice of any particular type of meditation may be distinct from the primary function of the type of meditation within its own tradition, even if the hoped-for benefits are achieved as a result of the practice.....

lbb
12-10-2013, 11:43 AM
It may not be a bad thing to ponder the possibility that the primary benefits any individual seeks when embarking on the practice of any particular type of meditation may be distinct from the primary function of the type of meditation within its own tradition, even if the hoped-for benefits are achieved as a result of the practice.....

Sounds like aikido :D

Richard Vader
01-24-2014, 12:42 PM
Well for me training is meditation. A perfect mindfulness moment. I have to be here and now fully aware in the present. Don't think just try to open up and feel what uke is about to do. Do not prethink, try to not think at all just feel and react. With trying to feel come feelings. Make sure to seperate feelings from judgements. Just be and enjoy. That is the mindset i try to reach in the moments in seiza before we formally greet O'sensei and sensei. Most of the times a training deliveres me nice empty head and a full heart so i can cope with the hectic outside the dojo.

Now only hoping to one day to understand just the slightest thing about aikido. And to have technik that is a bit above crappy. Only just in it for a year, and young enough to hope on many more training and learning time.

fatebass21
12-06-2014, 03:22 PM
Although I took a break from aikido training for the last 8 years and have recently returned, I never lost the desire to meditate. Even simply doing the 2-3 minute breathing exercises done during warm-ups are enough to put me back on course after a bad day. The great thing is that meditation can be done anywhere and it is scientifically proven to better health and brain function (increases brain mass over time in the pre-frontal cortex).

Most recently I have taken a strong interest in transcendental med (TM).