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Old 11-01-2005, 06:40 AM   #1
Saturn
 
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Evil Eyes Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

In Karate I once learned a mental focus feat. Sensei gave us all a paper with a title "1,000 BREAK IT DOWN TO EQUAL", and a spiral steel nail. He told us this was a homework assignment with which we were to take home and write four pages in four days of any and every mathematical equation we could think of that equals 1,000, at the same time we were to hold on to the nail with our free hand. Sensei told us that we were to try to understand the meaning of the nail, "the nail is the key to the answer"! he said. Nobody understood.

Four days passed, we all brought out papers back with the nails. Sensei looked at everyones papers to make sure we did the work and then the nail, he took turns telling us each we failed. This was silly we thought, what does the nail have to do with math? We began regular practice and sensei took one of the nails and sat down cross legged, and told us what to do. Sensei sat there to the side meditating for a while, we all watched him wondering what he was doing with the nail.

After about a half an hour he opened his eyes and stood up calling the class to stop, he showed us the nail he was holding, It was bent like a cresent moon " ( ". He told us that this was a feat of mental focus, when you are doing math you are meditating, with meditation comes sharp mental focus, bending a nail in your fist is relatively impossible otherwise, it is very hard and it hurts. When you are in deep meditaion you can bend it, and with expirience you could even bend a metal peg. Strength is not the objective meditation harvests strength and you apply that through your hands and crush the nail, but you should not strain, I can do it in about 15 min to a half an hour now he said, but to do this I had to practice for years.

I have to say that this exercise is a gauge for focus, the ability to bend a nail may have its uses in gripping a fist, but focus is needed to effectively perform all martial movements especially in Aikido. When masters say to practice meditation, and to try to understand and apply Ki you should really try.

P.S. In around an hour I to three I can noticibly warp a nail while doing hard breathing Zazen, but it will be a long time for me to bend a peg I'll tell ya. Don't belive me, look at those Hung Gar guys who can bend rebar and spears with thier throats. Apply Ki focus to all movements in Aikido, learn to, and imagine how awesome you will be able to perform.

Last edited by Saturn : 11-01-2005 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 11-01-2005, 07:04 AM   #2
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Evil Eyes Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

On Zazen Breathing Meditation

I once read a story in a book called "Secrets of the Samurai" about a Buddhist monk who was of course a Zazen practitioner. I know and understand that great power can come from breathing couple with movements and force. The monk was said to have crossed like a mile to two mile long bridge on but one breath. In Zazen the idea is to learn to make your Hara your new lungs. After much practice the cool outdoor air you breathe into your lungs which you can feel fill them you WILL come to feel it enter your lower stomach. It almost feels like you have rewired your body and oxygen goes directly to your Hara.

Learning to prolong your breathing helps to control your breath in a aggressive encounter, to cut right through panic, and if you can comfortably prolong one breath for 3- 4 minutes imagine how powerful your movements will be to take a huge and powerful lung capacity and fire it out in a split second, there will be alot of power coming from your center and lungs. Also, prolonging breathing initially causes panic so go slow and grow in seconds through time, and measuring time can't help but make you more aware of your breath- which is a nessecity in encounter for relaxation I hear.
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Old 11-01-2005, 07:08 AM   #3
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Evil Eyes Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

By the way anyone reading this please feel free to add or to respond.
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Old 11-01-2005, 09:25 AM   #4
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

IMHO, nice palor tricks, but how does bending a nail help develop wisdom or compassion in the real world.

I have never tried to do Aikido while bending a nail, usually I just try not to hurt anybody too much.

How much of your training enviroment do you miss by focusing on the nail?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-01-2005, 09:54 AM   #5
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Sounds like spoonbending to me, to be honest.

Developing focus is good. In fact, its one of the primary reasons I train in Aikido. There are many ways to learn to meditate, although doing math while trying to bend a nail - without knowing youre supposed to try to bend the nail - sounds like, my opinion, dont be offended - a really lame exercise. Why not focus on the outcome? Why have distractions?

This reminds me of something I have noticed in personal trainers. There seem to be 2 types - some that take your focus away from the activity, by yelling, being obnoxious in general - and those that help you learn how to focus your energy on what you are doing. To me, thats aikido - focusing your energy, be it mental, physical, spiritual, or all at once - on the task at hand. The key is not in distraction, but applied focus. The zanzen that you speak of souns similar to this.

Ive done alot of meditation studies and practice prior to joining Aikido, I think it helps alot. 3 hours of meditation is impressive, not sure if applying it to nail bending is really going to get you far besides being that guy who can bend nails. Which is cool! Dont get me wrong, that is very impressivce, just not something I care to do or learn.

Just my opinion - I am just an unranked newbie, take that as you will.

Eric
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Old 11-01-2005, 10:45 AM   #6
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
IMHO, nice palor tricks, but how does bending a nail help develop wisdom or compassion in the real world.

I have never tried to do Aikido while bending a nail, usually I just try not to hurt anybody too much.

How much of your training enviroment do you miss by focusing on the nail?
How does tossing someone on the floor develope wisdom or compassion in the real world?
Sorry, Lynn. Just havin' a little fun with ya.

I think they were actually supposed to NOT think about the nail, hence their karate sensei's math assignment. I think the whole point of bending the nail is the same as the point of breaking boards; it's just a way of opening a student's eyes and making them say, "Oh, I guess I can do that after all!" It's seems like just a different way to learn focus (on something besides the board or the nail) and feel empowered.

When in a randori, we practice so that we can deal gently with an uke while directing our MENTAL attention to the next uke. 'Just doin' the math, man, just doin' the math.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 11-01-2005, 12:09 PM   #7
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Evil Eyes Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Personally i think your opinions are great, this is exactly what I'm looking for, I agree with all, who cares about the nail, it's just a nail. There is something to be learned from this though. This nail bending exersise is a great enigma of mind. I think that you can spend years trying to figure out if this is worth it, as I have, "What is the point" however when you realize you can't do it- it becomes interesting, it lets you know there really is something more you CAN gain. My old Sensei never said really what the point was or why it was so important, I guess it is just something anyone who tries it has to figure out themselves. I don't think it's the nail that matters, or the math, it's like there is a weaker part of the brain which you can learn to grow which is capable of subduing pain ignoring physical/mental limits, but I have to say before Aikido I do meditation in Zazen and after years of trying to bend a nail by applying mental focus to physical usage I can actually feel uke behind me in Randori. I suck at Randori, but, the one cool thing is that I know exactly where everyone is even against 5 ukes, that is a strength, even if i cannot SEE them because 2 or 3 are behind me.

Last edited by Saturn : 11-01-2005 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 11-01-2005, 04:23 PM   #8
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

I once had a student that wasn't very sure of her capabilities. I was just plain sick of hearing her say, "I can't do that." I just told her "I couldn't do it either when I started. The fact that I'm doing it now tells you that it can be done though, right?"
Once she conceded the possibilty that aikido could be learned, there was no reason for her to doubt that she could learn it too. From that night on, I made her knee-walk once around the room every time she used the phrase, "I can't." Her shiko waza improved considerably.
Sometimes I wanna just grab negative people and shake them, screaming "YES YOU FREAKIN' CAN!!"

Thanks for the karate story, Saturn.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 11-01-2005, 06:55 PM   #9
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Why didn't people just use some tools to bend the nail? By using tools, one can do it much easier and still can concentrate. Using one's power smart. I think this is Aikido. Anyway your teacher was doing Karate.

Jaemin
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Old 11-02-2005, 06:26 PM   #10
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
I have never tried to do Aikido while bending a nail, usually I just try not to hurt anybody too much.
Aikido might work rather well with a nail hidden in the hand ...

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Old 11-03-2005, 09:31 AM   #11
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Rupert i could kiss you, all along i was thinking the same thing

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 11-05-2005, 05:31 AM   #12
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Evil Eyes Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

There is something very cool that I discovered a long time ago about Zazen meditation. In all the stories of the Samurai and the Buddhists of old Japan I have heard about the importance about the cultivation of strength in the Hara through breathing in Zazen, and how you come to undertand the subtleties and spiritual powers of the world around you. When I first began attempting meditation I was REALLY skeptical about this. These stories not only seemed far fetched but appeared to be 100% untrue, almost like the idea of being able to move objects with your mind, ridiculous. But, after months of doing Zazen everyday on a quest to discover what the big deal was I was able to see something.

With much practice I got very good at concentrating on one-point, and I was able to breathe at around 57-67 breaths per hour comfortably. In one session after about 10 minutes I would settle right into it and completey relax, my awarness would extend all around the room. Now then, in Zazen I keep my eyes open and let my eyes relax and fall to stare at the floor about three feet in front of me. In around twenty minutes into the sessions all of the sudden the carpet would start moving, it seemed alot like waves, but the carpet would erratically swirl in spots or reverse direction, very cool. This would occur simply because of the Zazen, and the contemplations were interesting.

In ancient feudal Japan you could imagine what the Samurai and Buddhists would think about this. To me a contemplation would be all objects have atoms, all atoms are in constant movement as well as molecules, in normal perception your mind is moving, and so you cannot see this because your mind is flowing at the same speed, so you need to learn to stop yourself before you can percieve the sublte movement of the world around you. Or perhaps through the cultivation of power and use during Zazen you become a bio-magnetic/electric powerhouse and create disruptive waves all around you on a sub-atomic level.

It seems to me that in times of far-fetched superstitions when people were being burned in other countries, the Japanese were exploring human potential, and in thier journies the stumbled across the effects of prolonged Zazen. Perhaps the effects are only from a complete overdose of oxygen, but to people in the old times there would be no science behind it, they would believe it is spiritual and not just contemplate the ideas. So on my own personal travels in this stuff I have discovered that the old stories may have more truth than we think, but we as a modern society don't burn witches or warlocks anymore because we don't believe such things so quickly.
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Old 11-05-2005, 05:58 AM   #13
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Evil Eyes Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

I have heard some stories about people I guess transfusing thier Ki into trees to help them grow. I have also seen pictures of Morihei Ueshiba doing so. Now, I know people are skeptical about this, but, it doesen't matter if this is possible or not. Alot of what we do in Aikido is having the mind lead the body by what is called projecting Ki. And meditating in such a way as to try to project Ki into a tree might be very helpful. It is a very innocent exercise, and with practice, whether it is possible or not you will get the old Placebo effect and your mind may create sensations in your body when you visualize energy coming from your extended fingers into the tree or plant. With this effect you can't learn to identify how you can abruptly recreate these sensations and use it to project Ki in techniques.
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Old 11-09-2005, 05:56 PM   #14
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Quote:
Trevor Wolfe wrote:

In around twenty minutes into the sessions all of the sudden the carpet would start moving, it seemed alot like waves, but the carpet would erratically swirl in spots or reverse direction, very cool. This would occur simply because of the Zazen, and the contemplations were interesting.

How interesting! I have similar experience when I have llucid dreams. Ad in some of my lucid dreams, especially in the sping ones, all the colours are very bright and primitive like in cartoon.

Do you think is that possible that you were "day dreaming"? I don't mean the normal type of "day dreaming", but in the lucid dream sense. Sometime, you can get out of your body. I did once. It scared me back into my body right away. I haven't been able to do it again. Maybe my mind is scared.

Maybe you can get into lucid dream by Zazen meditation. Some people in the Lucid dream groups speculated about it. But no body had the time, effort and patience to achieve that level of meditation. Maybe you can learn lucid dream technique, and start modify your vision. That would be fun.
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Old 11-09-2005, 06:06 PM   #15
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

I just remember. Sleep paralysis is one of the ways to get into lucid dream. (it's not exactly a good method to induce lucid dreams). Basically, you sleep on your back with a pillow under your neck so your head tilt back. Sometimes you wake up because of short breath. But your body is still sleeping. Most people would panic and wake. If you remain calm, and try to go back to sleep, you can get into lucid dream state.

Do you think it's possilb that controlling breath can induce active sleep state?
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Old 11-10-2005, 05:31 AM   #16
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Evil Eyes Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Of course it is similar, breath control and awareness induces deep relaxation, and deep relaxation is found in sleep. The mind stops chattering and only sees, much like the reality of a dream. You may be right about the lucid state in Zazen. Sometimes it might take me 10 minutes to fall asleep if I command my thoughts to stop, and in Zazen it takes 10 - 15 minutes for the pleasent effects to occur. Though if anyone would like to try to see what it feels like to go into this deep state, try to achieve one breath per minute and put some time in, say 30 - 40 minutes for the first time. And this is not very hard, have faith that you can just depend on knowing that if you do have some time to experiment and are willing to learn to prolong your breath the effects will happen.

These effects I speak of are the first effects you will notice, as time and practice and breathing lasts even longer and you come to an understanding, more can be felt seen and learned

Last edited by Saturn : 11-10-2005 at 05:38 AM.
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Old 11-10-2005, 08:54 AM   #17
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Quote:
Trevor Wolfe wrote:
it might take me 10 minutes to fall asleep if I command my thoughts to stop, and in Zazen it takes 10 - 15 minutes for the pleasent effects to occur.
There is a danger recognized by the Ch'an/Zen schools from the first days in China on through Soto and Rinzai of "seeking" meditation as an experience or end for enjoyment in itself.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
It is just contrary to the use of zazen as a tool to a fundamentally larger purpose.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 11-10-2005, 10:17 AM   #18
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
There is a danger recognized by the Ch'an/Zen schools from the first days in China on through Soto and Rinzai of "seeking" meditation as an experience or end for enjoyment in itself.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
It is just contrary to the use of zazen as a tool to a fundamentally larger purpose.

Erick Mead
Good point.

But I know someone (not me by any means) prefer to be strangulated to highlighten the climax during sex. Some teenages breath into a paper bag to get high. Some leather/rubber people wear leather/rubber mask or the real ones in the S&M party.

It seems it not breath that help meditation. But the main thing is to restrict air supply to the body while maintain calm. Our body will panic if there isn't enough air.

The monks like to build their temple in top of high mountains. The Tai Chi practioner practice very eary in the morning. Some taoist do it under water.

Why don't we just build a simple air tight room with devices to control O2 concentration.

Anyone has done this type of experiment?
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Old 11-10-2005, 10:28 AM   #19
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

several people, you can find information of it a book entitled 'people who's home-made air tight rooms killed them' : )

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 11-10-2005, 01:06 PM   #20
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Quote:
Steve Mullen wrote:
several people, you can find information of it a book entitled 'people who's home-made air tight rooms killed them' : )
If you're dead, who's talking here?

Please don't interupt a serious discussion unless you have something to add.
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Old 11-10-2005, 01:21 PM   #21
Karen Wolek
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Quote:
James Davis, Jr. wrote:
From that night on, I made her knee-walk once around the room every time she used the phrase, "I can't." Her shiko waza improved considerably.
Sometimes I wanna just grab negative people and shake them, screaming "YES YOU FREAKIN' CAN!!"
Gosh, if my sensei had done that to me, my shikko would be AMAZING by now!!! Three years of shikko everyday....wow.

Karen
"Try not. Do...or do not. There is no try." - Master Yoda
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Old 11-10-2005, 01:29 PM   #22
Kevin Masters
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

there is no uh.. nail
Actually there is, Neo, you just stepped on it.

Buhhh...
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Old 11-11-2005, 04:15 AM   #23
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

I watched an interesting programme on television last night which culminated with 5 people, who were 'specialists' in certain sences (a tea taster, an artist, a masseur etc), experiencing an hour in a sensory deprivation chamber, apparently the absence of all senses can have one of two effects on people, they either feel refreshed by the expeience or they feel a hightened sense of tention (apparently for some there is no effect at all)

To me meditation has a similar sort of ethos, by controling the breathing you can (i use the word grudgingly but i'm lost for another) dull the senses. In both cases the absence of external influence clears a huge section of your brain (set aside to deal with these) allowing other thoughts which have been 'compressed' to expand and fill this 'gap' in your mind. I really like the thought of this happening.

An interesting comparison can be using hypnosis to extract repressed memories. The hypnotist completely controls the other person's senses and allows their mind to be clear of them, allowing the space for the hypnotist to deposit the memories into.

Im not sure if i have actually made a point here or weather i have just rambled for a few paragraphs, either way i feel better for it and it got me out of a few minutes work. ; )

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:52 PM   #24
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Evil Eyes Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Lately when in deep Ki mediation, when I finally come to, my body reacts in a quick spasm like someone just jabbed me with a high voltage wire. This is strange, I am wondering why this happens. I believe it must have something to do with coming out of that deep a meditative relaxed state. Does anyone else get this effect?
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Old 12-15-2005, 09:31 PM   #25
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Re: Zazen Meditation, Haragei and Focus

Quote:
Trevor Wolfe wrote:
Lately when in deep Ki mediation, when I finally come to, my body reacts in a quick spasm like someone just jabbed me with a high voltage wire. This is strange, I am wondering why this happens. I believe it must have something to do with coming out of that deep a meditative relaxed state. Does anyone else get this effect?
No.

I'm guessing that you intetionally try to move your body before you fully awake. If my guess is correct, you can either come to more slowly or have external alram to wake you up fully.
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