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Old 09-10-2013, 09:44 PM   #26
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Meditation

"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?
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:24 PM   #27
bkedelen
 
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Re: Meditation

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.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:06 AM   #28
PaulF
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
got a really really stupid question. what is meditation?
Hi Phi, hang on, lmgtfy

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.

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.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:13 AM   #29
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:49 AM   #30
Fred Little
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Bill Danosky wrote: View Post
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

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Old 09-11-2013, 11:11 AM   #31
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
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)

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:14 PM   #32
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 09-18-2013, 05:35 PM   #33
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Re: Meditation

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

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 09-19-2013, 02:42 AM   #34
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 09-19-2013 at 02:54 AM.
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Old 09-19-2013, 06:42 AM   #35
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
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
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Old 09-19-2013, 06:58 AM   #36
lbb
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Bernd Lehnen wrote: View Post
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! ). 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?
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Old 10-03-2013, 03:32 PM   #37
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Meditation

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.

Last edited by Bill Danosky : 10-03-2013 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 12-09-2013, 05:34 PM   #38
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 12-09-2013, 05:47 PM   #39
Janet Rosen
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Ben White wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 12-09-2013, 08:07 PM   #40
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Re: Meditation

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 12-10-2013, 08:12 AM   #41
lbb
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Re: Meditation

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:07 AM   #42
Fred Little
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Re: Meditation

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.....

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Old 12-10-2013, 10:43 AM   #43
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Re: Meditation

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Fred Little wrote: View Post
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
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:42 AM   #44
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Re: Meditation

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.

Disclaimer: all stated above has the potential of being complete nonsense
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