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-   -   A Zazen question and some worries (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15659)

"Frances Bacon" 01-16-2009 08:11 AM

A Zazen question and some worries
 
I am starting to sit Zazen as part of my aikido practice. I have an oportunity to attend a Zen weekend retreat in 2009.

I want to attend the retreat, but I am worried about something. I am worried that I will not be able to sit still for large periods of time. I am sure that anyone who sits for hours at a retreat has a hard time staying still, but I have a specific problem. I am not sure if my specififc problem makes a difference or not.

I have Tourette Syndrome.

This means that I have semi-involuntary muscle and vocal movements. I can control them, but for limited periods of time It is confusing to explain, so here is a link for people who want more details.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourette_syndrome

I do not have a severe case. In most situations, people cannot tell that there is a problem. During training it is not noticable.

But I am worried about the Tourette's may affect me at the retreat. One, I am very new to sitting. Two, I do not know what to expect at the retreat. Three, I will be sitting for long periods of time. Four, I am not sure that I should bring it up to members of my dojo or people who are running the retreat.

Probably I think the best thing would be to talk to my sensei and sempai to ask for information. I have not discussed my Tourette's with anyone at the dojo and am not sure that I want to at this time. I know that the members of my dojo are great and understanding people. That is not the issue. I do not think that I could speak to any of them face-to-face about it without tearing up, and this embarrases me. It is a very emotional issue for me and I sometimes have a hard time talking about it. (I could probably send an e-mail.)

The older I get, the less severe the Tourette's is. It is not a secret, but it is not something I mention a lot. I do not mention it in work settings and no one at my job notices it. I am still very emotional about my history with the disease.

So, I wanted to post something here first to see if anyone can help. I am looking for:

Information on what to expect at the zen retreat
How (maybe) not being able to sit still for long periods of time will influence the zen retreat
If I should bring this up with members of my dojo or the people at the retraet
The best way to bring this up with members of my dojo
Other forums or resources that might be better for this question
Any other suggestions that you feel might be helpful

I am trying to sit daily and increase the time I sit each day so I can have more experiense sitting for longer periods of time before the retreat. I think this will help.

Thanks.

Don_Modesto 01-16-2009 01:01 PM

Re: A Zazen question and some worries
 
Quote:

Anonymous User wrote: (Post 223657)
So, I wanted to post something here first to see if anyone can help. I am looking for:
....
If I should bring this up with members of my dojo or the people at the retraet
The best way to bring this up with members of my dojo

What has been your experience with this in the past? I see examples of diabilities all through popular media (Boston Legal, e.g., Monk...) It would seem to me that acceptance and willingness to work with such things would be at an all time high. (But you would know this better than I.)

Quote:

Other forums or resources that might be better for this question
Have you friends/acquaintances with the same condition? Wouldn't they be a better resource for this question?
Quote:

Any other suggestions that you feel might be helpful

I am trying to sit daily and increase the time I sit each day so I can have more experiense sitting for longer periods of time before the retreat. I think this will help.
It seems like you're on top of it. I hope that talking it out with the principals works, that's what I FEEL is best, but again, I don't have YOUR experiences.

Good luck and let us know what develops.

Voitokas 01-16-2009 02:10 PM

Re: A Zazen question and some worries
 
That is a hard situation! Do you think that it might be disruptive to the other meditators?

Toby Bazarnick 05-03-2009 04:47 PM

Re: A Zazen question and some worries
 
I can imagine that it sucks to have been dealing with Tourette's over the years. Mys sensei has an appropriate mantra: "Remember, it's nothing personal." There's a lot in that.

It may not be much of a problem if you are able to manage the auditory tics for longer sits during meditation. Any type of physical tics will likely not be noticed, especially if you are sitting on the periphery of the group. On a deeper level, not being affected by such things is sincerely good practice for others who sit; they get opportunities to let go of each new sound.

As for doing aikido, I can say this: There have been a few people in dojos where I've trained over the years who have had Tourette's-like behaviors (twitching, vocalizations or coughing). Nothing extreme - nothing like the Tourette's of Hollywood.

With all three people, it hasn't been considered a problem by class members or instructors. Literally, not once. If there were, I'm sure it would be dealt with directly and respectfully. I've noticed these peoples' behaviors because I worked with someone who had Tourette's - so to me, it isn't a big mystery. Other people may not notice or care much.

Since you mentioned that you still have some feelings about this, I really commend you for 1) bringing this topic to this board, and 2) for directly confronting this in your own life by doing aikido and meditation.

Aikido pushes all sorts of buttons and people inevitably see all of you, in every form. Maybe what you think is terrible/horrible is not all that to someone else. There are a heck of a LOT worse involuntary behaviors coming out of people on the mat. Everyones' behaviors come out.

Keep training - don't deprive yourself and others.

Linda Eskin 05-23-2009 07:15 PM

Re: A Zazen question and some worries
 
Quote:

Toby Bazarnick wrote: (Post 229467)
...On a deeper level, not being affected by such things is sincerely good practice for others who sit; they get opportunities to let go of each new sound.

You might talk to the person in charge of the retreat, just to be sure, but I agree with Toby. I have met a young man with Tourette's (quite noticeable and frequent physical and verbal ticks) who is a very competent horseman and rider (and a really nice kid). The horses he works with are the better for being in his care, as they learn to not be easily startled or distracted. :)

I'm sure it causes you daily frustration, but I'll bet others are not nearly so concerned about it as you might think. Telling them up front would alleviate any concern or distraction they might feel (for instance, wondering if you are upset, or have the hiccups, or whatever). The young man I referred to tells people when he meets them, basically "Hey, I have Tourette's, so I make weird noises and jump sometimes," and the response is universally along the lines of "Oh, cool, whatever. Nice to meet you."

dps 05-23-2009 10:11 PM

Re: A Zazen question and some worries
 
Talk to the person in charge of the retreat. They may have dealt with similar problems in the past. You will be fine.

Part of sitting meditation is not letting the outside environment influence your mind as you sit. I once sat next to a woman who had a horrible cold. Her breathing was raspy and she coughed and sneezed throughout the time we were meditating. It was a challenge for me to not to allow her to disrupt my meditation.

David:)

Frances Bacon 05-29-2009 10:28 AM

Re: A Zazen question and some worries
 
Thank you everyone for your answers and suggestions.

I did talk to the instructor thru an intermediary, before the retreat.

The retreat went great. Sits were for about 45 minutes to an hour at a time. I did not have any tics during the sits at the retreat and I was very happy about that. It was not an issue. So, I was worried for nothing.

So, what have I learned? 1. Just tell people if I am worried about something. 2. DON'T WORRY SO MUCH! (easier said than done but it is good advice)

Thanks again, -FB

Linda Eskin 05-29-2009 05:56 PM

Re: A Zazen question and some worries
 
I'm so glad you went, and that it turned out well. :-)

Linda


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