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soupdragon1973 02-01-2013 09:00 AM

Meditation
 
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 06:32 PM

Re: Meditation
 
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 06:28 PM

Re: Meditation
 
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-...ous+embodiment

SeiserL 05-08-2013 07:07 AM

Re: Meditation
 
Been meditating since high school.

Mental calmness, clarity and discipline is always useful.

Bill Danosky 09-03-2013 09:47 AM

Re: Meditation
 
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 02:42 AM

Re: Meditation
 
Quote:

Alex Mitchell wrote: (Post 323012)
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 03:09 AM

Re: Meditation
 
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 08:00 AM

Re: Meditation
 
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 08:52 AM

Re: Meditation
 
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 09:05 PM

Re: Meditation
 
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 09-05-2013 11:02 PM

Re: Meditation
 
Quote:

Hugh Beyer wrote: (Post 329718)
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 10:34 AM

Re: Meditation
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 329724)
...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 01:16 PM

Re: Meditation
 
Quote:

Bill Danosky wrote: (Post 329739)
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 01:23 PM

Re: Meditation
 
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 01:46 PM

Re: Meditation
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 329745)
..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 05:12 PM

Re: Meditation
 
Quote:

Bill Danosky wrote: (Post 329758)
"Where are we going? To the present moment, and we arrive again with each step."

:)

bkedelen 09-09-2013 01:02 PM

Re: Meditation
 
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 02:23 PM

Re: Meditation
 
Quote:

Benjamin Edelen wrote: (Post 329795)
I have never been able to make "moving meditation" work. ,,,. Moving meditation rings the same as gimmicky fitness equipment to me.

The monks here 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 03:04 PM

Re: Meditation
 
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 09:15 AM

Re: Meditation
 
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 11:50 AM

Re: Meditation
 
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 12:59 PM

Re: Meditation
 
Quote:

Benjamin Edelen wrote: (Post 329811)
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 03:15 PM

Re: Meditation
 
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 03:30 PM

Re: Meditation
 
got a really really stupid question. what is meditation?

bkedelen 09-10-2013 04:08 PM

Re: Meditation
 
At this point, what isn't meditation?


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