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Old 12-19-2005, 08:21 AM   #1
kljohnson
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Question Studying Tao, Need some advice.

I've been studying the Tao Te Ching, and believe it is the path I was meant to walk. I believe it's principles will help bring me the peace I so desperately seek.

But my troubles are in meditation...Despite all my attempts, I can't seem to slow my over active mind down. I can't seem to hold center for more than a fleeting moment, and when acctually trying to meditate, the noise in my mind becomes almost unbearable.

Does anyone have any tips for meditation, a method that works well for you? How did you first find and hold center.?

And further into it, how do you focus on the center, when faced with conflict. ( I work in a place where a few times an hour a person is faced with an angry person, or a conflict that can easily change into a screaming match...yes I am looking for new work)

Any tips, ideas?
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Old 12-19-2005, 09:30 AM   #2
bkedelen
 
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Tip the first:
Meditation is not having a calm mind, it is the act of trying to calm your mind. The trying is the important part, not the succeeding. If it was easily accomplished with a couple tries, everyone would do it.

Tip the second (learned right here on Aikiweb):
An interesting change happens if you stop considering what you are doing "Meditation" and start just sitting quietly. This removes some of the expectation and the pomp that the word and practice of "Meditation" invokes. Sitting quietly at the beginning/end of your day is a very nice thing to do, and I recommend it highly.
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Old 12-19-2005, 09:37 AM   #3
MM
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

If you have an active mind, then use it positively. Try meditating and thinking about building your own "spiritual" retreat in your mind. Some place that's special to you and also quiet, serene, and peaceful. Some people visualize a cabin in the woods surrounding by trees, a flowing stream with a waterfall, etc. Once you can focus on that, then start focusing on details, like a small garden with a path through it or how the walkway is built, etc. Over time hopefully, your mind will settle and you can slowly just meditate without an over active mind. Works for some, doesn't work for others.

How to focus? Try working a computer help desk for a steel company. Especially when the steel workers derived their pay from production. When a system went down, they lost money. Their language was very colorful and they were usually very angry about the system going down. Realizing that they weren't angry at you was the most important part. Once you understood that, you tend to not escalate the level. Keeping calm amidst that storm sometimes helps to calm the other side (sometimes not). But if you're doing the best you can, then come to terms with yourself with that fact.

You can't do everything and people expect way more than you'll be able to do. Why worry about all that when you can't change it? Do you worry about not catching falling airplanes? Then why worry about other things that you can't change? Concentrate on what you can do and can change, and do your best at that. Angry people are everywhere and most times they aren't angry at you personally but at a situation they can't change. You can't change their mind, nor can you change their emotions, but maybe you can help change the situation. If you can't, maybe you can help point them along the way where they can change the situation.

Anyway, you wanted suggestions.

Mark
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Old 12-19-2005, 09:38 AM   #4
Qatana
 
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Yes, just stop Trying to meditate. Just sit and watch what goes on behind your eyes, let it Be, and go on.
It Is really best to get qualified meditation instruction. know there are Buddhist centers in your area, I would contact one of them. You don't have to be a Buddhist, Taoist or any other labelist to learn to meditate, they are glad to teach you.

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 12-19-2005, 09:52 AM   #5
roosvelt
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Have a ritual is good.

Wash your hand and face with warm water, put on your special robe, go to your designated place, light a special scent, put up a special picture, play a special soft music. Chanting a verse of something poetic also help.

Do everything slowly and carefully. The whole process is meditation. Don't try to rush everyting to get to the "meditation" phase.
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Old 12-19-2005, 12:07 PM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

IMHO, sounds like you are making progress. Compliments. Learning to be still and centered brings up the monkey-mind. The trick in taming it is not to engage or try too hard, just observe. Over time it has its effect. if you are getting fleeting glimpses, you are making progress.

Its like a cat. If you reach out for cats, they run away. But, if you stay open and available, they end up sitting on your lap purring.

Discipline and patience.

Relax and breathe.

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 12-19-2005, 02:44 PM   #7
Mark Uttech
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

What works for me and has worked for many years is the simple focus on the outbreath. One breathes in thru the nose and then breathes out through the mouth making a silent "ha" sound.
When counting, the outbreath is ideally twice as long as the in breath. A good rythym i have used at work has been: breath in to the count of two, hold for the count of two and breathe out to the count of four. Remarkably, what this does, is it slows your breathing way down and even twenty minutes later perhaps after you have lost count or whatever, when you notice your breathing, it will still be slow.

In gassho
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Old 12-19-2005, 03:09 PM   #8
kljohnson
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Thumbs down Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Thank you all so much for your fast responses!!!! My heart feels huge right now. I am looking forward to giving your tips a try. Please, keep them coming!
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Old 12-19-2005, 03:31 PM   #9
ian
 
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

First, if you are investigating tao you have to realise taosim actually refers to two quite distinct things. The first is a philosophy characterised by lieh tzu, chuang tzu and lao tzu, effectively of the unification of ourselves with existence, naturalness, and the inability to logically analyse reality. The second is the alchemic taoism which relates to breathing practices, chi, extending one's life etc. Although there are relationships between the two (in that the 2nd took much of the philosophy of the first) there are conflicts between them. For example Chuang Tzu says to forget about alsorts of breathing practices, and says that trying to extend one's life is going against the natural 'grain' of things.

Thus, taoism is often thought of 'getting rid' of bad habits, rather than trying to attain good things; and thus our natural state is in itself what we are trying to achieve.

A good bit of advice on stopping thoughts during meditation is to imagine them like clouds - thoughts will pass in and out of your mind and trying to stop them through concentration will only result in you thinking about trying to stop thoughts. Thus you have to let thoughts just come and go and drift by with no attatchement to them. Breath deeply and slowly into your centre and hold for a brief while both before inbreath and outbreath. If you still find it difficult, start off just counting breaths (as a distraction from other thoughts).

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 12-19-2005, 03:43 PM   #10
ian
 
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

P.S. the tao de jing is very heavy reading! I whole-heartedly recommend Lieh tzu for starters instead

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157...books&v=glance

after that Chuang tzu is a good read (this is a beautiful book which is a concise translation which really captures the spirit, and is actually written by a Christian (gosh!)) - I've bought many copies and just end up giving them away!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/081...lance&n=283155

A much more complete translation of Chuang tzu is:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/023...lance&n=283155

Although you can go to many buddhist groups for meditation, it's difficult to find out more about Taoism since (in it's non-folk lore/alchemic form) it is not an organised religion. Also, I think there is quite a few differences between most forms of zen and taosim on a practical, if not philosophical, level. I think though, if you completely got to grips with Chuang Tzu (who many people think actually made up the character of Lao tzu and who actually wrote the tao di ching himself) you would not have to read any other books on taoism and you could relax in the happy knowledge that you are one with the Tao!

Good hunting - I'd love to hear how you get on!

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 12-19-2005, 04:36 PM   #11
kljohnson
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Quote:
First, if you are investigating tao you have to realise taosim actually refers to two quite distinct things. The first is a philosophy characterised by lieh tzu, chuang tzu and lao tzu, effectively of the unification of ourselves with existence, naturalness, and the inability to logically analyse reality. The second is the alchemic taoism which relates to breathing practices, chi, extending one's life etc. Although there are relationships between the two (in that the 2nd took much of the philosophy of the first) there are conflicts between them. For example Chuang Tzu says to forget about alsorts of breathing practices, and says that trying to extend one's life is going against the natural 'grain' of things.

Thus, taoism is often thought of 'getting rid' of bad habits, rather than trying to attain good things; and thus our natural state is in itself what we are trying to achieve.

A good bit of advice on stopping thoughts during meditation is to imagine them like clouds - thoughts will pass in and out of your mind and trying to stop them through concentration will only result in you thinking about trying to stop thoughts. Thus you have to let thoughts just come and go and drift by with no attatchement to them. Breath deeply and slowly into your centre and hold for a brief while both before inbreath and outbreath. If you still find it difficult, start off just counting breaths (as a distraction from other thoughts).

Ian
The books that I have been reading are Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu) Translation by Stephen Mitchell, it came highly recommended by a friend of mine and The Tao of Inner Peace by Diane Dreher (which is primarily recommendations on how to apply Tao principles to modern day life) I'm on my fourth reading attempt. And yeah it is some heavy reading...lots of thought ..

I'll definitely check out those books though..thank you so much!!!
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Old 12-19-2005, 09:57 PM   #12
xuzen
 
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Quote:
Kathy-Lynne Johnson wrote:
But my troubles are in meditation...Despite all my attempts, I can't seem to slow my over active mind down. I can't seem to hold center for more than a fleeting moment, and when actually trying to meditate, the noise in my mind becomes almost unbearable.

Does anyone have any tips for meditation, a method that works well for you? How did you first find and hold center.?

Any tips, ideas?
Meditation is always good and I am lousy at it too.... so I try to improvised. I pay for a 60 or 90 minutes full body massage once every forth-night and while a lovely blond and blue eyed Swedish masseuse slowly massages my body, I attempt to meditate.

p/s lovely blond and blue eyed Swedish Masseuse is actually my visualization technique to enhance my meditation experience. Lovely blond and blue eyed Swedish masseuse are rare in my country

Just a side note: Not sure if this would qualify as meditation, but the closest ever experience I have of "wuxin" or no mind action is when my sadistic sensei asked us to continuously do jiyu waza with fresh uke coming at you for infinite amount of time. At the moment when your body is at most exhausted, when my mind no longer control my body and my technique just appear out of no where. I felt detached from my body and I just let things be. Can this be considered as being in a meditative state?

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 12-20-2005, 09:19 AM   #13
roosvelt
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Quote:
Xu Wenfung wrote:

p/s lovely blond and blue eyed Swedish Masseuse is actually my visualization technique to enhance my meditation experience. Lovely blond and blue eyed Swedish masseuse are rare in my country
Not sure if you were serious about the blonde.

But if you continue meditation, you can make it happen.

I'm not sure if it's a good thing to do. It's the temptation they you warn about. I guess it's hinderous to higher enlightment.
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Old 12-20-2005, 08:12 PM   #14
Randal Gore
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

You might find a couple of books VERY helpful in your study of Taoism. The first is The Tao of Pooh and the other The Te of Piglet. I found them to be very easy reading, fairly light considering the topic and easy to put to use with regards to other types of persons.

As far as meditation goes...I have to think of it as a journey not a destination. If your busy mind brings things to you, maybe these are thoughts that need to be delt with rather than attempting to dismiss them. Once your mind is like a blank page, who knows what you will accomplish

Good Luck

"You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."-Super Chicken
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Old 12-21-2005, 09:15 AM   #15
bkedelen
 
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

I will second the Tao of Pooh as a fine text, but I want to mention that I found the Te of Piglet to be much the lesser of the two books. The Te of Piglet consists of the rantings of a crazy man who is convinced that Taoists will eventually take over the earth and begin growing extra-large fruits and vegetables. The book contains numerous of apocrypha such as the assertion that people used to enjoy lifespans of hundreds of years in the long forgotten past. This book is not a guide to better understanding Taoism or how to bring Taosim into your life, it is simply a chance for the author to rag on everything with which he is dissatisfied in the world, then proclaim that if we were all Taoists, all such maladies would disappear. Stick with the Tao, Tao of Pooh, and the I-Ching.
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Old 12-21-2005, 09:22 AM   #16
bkedelen
 
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Here is what the Te of Piglet has to say about martial arts:
Quote:
Taoist sympathies were always with the Underdog -- with the outcasts and unfortunates of Chinese society, including those financially ruined by the tricks of corrupt merchants and officials and forced to become "Brothers of the Green Woods" (outlaws) and "Guests of Rivers and Lakes" (vagabonds). The Chinese martial arts were developed primarily by Taoists and Buddhist monks, in order to defend the defenseless and enable them to defend themselves. They might better be termed the anti-martial arts, as they were employed not only against armed bandits, but also against the soldiers of warlords and governing bodies, whenever they turned their swords against the weak. While Buddhist martial artists tended to concentrate on the "hard" forms of defense (from which evolved the forceful and direct Karate and Tae Kwon Do), Taoists tended to concentrate on the "soft" forms, such as the fluid and indirect Tai Chi Ch'uan and Pa Kua Chang (similar to, but more sophisticated than Judo and Aikido).
'Nuff said.
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Old 01-02-2006, 01:32 PM   #17
Ren Qizhen
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Kathy-Lynne
Meditating to cultivate your inner nature isn't anything like entering a fast food burger joint. It's the total opposite. There's no hustle and bustle or screaming teenager staff, there's no waiting for the fries, too hot coffee, too hot pie, too much carbs, etc.
Actually it's very good for centralizing qi and "watching" qi flow through your body. Give it a try for one year. Make up your mind to practice meditation consistently every morning or evening for at least 20 minutes (one stick of incense).
Diligent taoist and zen monks used to spend many years in regular daily meditation before they reached quiet stillness and centrality.
I'd like to recommend "The Secrets of Chinese Meditation" by Lu K'uan YŁ (Charles Luk), which is now available again in a reprint. K'uan-YŁ describe a range of different methods for self-cultivation from the ch'an (Chinese zen), tendai and taoist schools.
For a young practitioner who is vaguely interested in Taoism, I would also recommend: "Scholar Warrior, An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life" by Deng Ming-dao. It's a popular and general overview, which I am sure will fit the bill.
"Leave behind the normal human motivations, and meditation begins to flower. Surrender all your desires for gain, and all things will come to you." (Fast forwarding in "Scholar Warrior" to pages 285-304...)
I wish you a year of good practice!
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Old 01-02-2006, 02:25 PM   #18
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

I find meditation is helped by having a "theme" of something to think about. My mind tends to enevitably think about something and is hard to slow down. So for instance i'll think about leaves. What leaves look like, how many leaves may be on a tree, what colors leaves are. I'm not great on keeping my mind on a single "point" but i've found it good practice to start by keeping my mind on a single "topic"

I hope that makes sense.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 01-02-2006, 05:08 PM   #19
Mike Sigman
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Quote:
Ren Qizhen wrote:
For a young practitioner who is vaguely interested in Taoism, I would also recommend: "Scholar Warrior, An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life" by Deng Ming-dao. It's a popular and general overview, which I am sure will fit the bill.
Without realizing it, you put yourself into the category of "Pop Taoist". Deng Ming-Dao is the pseudonym of Mark An, the partner of the purported Taoist, Kwan Sai Hung, who can't prove a word of the outrageous stories about himself. See if you can get a copy of his passport, if you'd like confirmation. Once you start falling for the bogus and then begin recommending it, you shoot yourself in the foot. Time for some questions, Grasshopper... self-directed ones.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 01-03-2006, 07:30 AM   #20
Moses
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

If you want info on "Taoism", try the "Taoist Restoration Society". Be forewarned though, traditional Taoism is not the same as American "Pop" Taoism.

Also you might try www.hermetica.info, at the bottom of the page there is a pretty good translation of the Tao De Jing that you can download.

As far as settling the mind, learn how to relax

Moses
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Old 01-03-2006, 07:35 AM   #21
Mike Sigman
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Quote:
Moses Jenkins wrote:
If you want info on "Taoism", try the "Taoist Restoration Society". Be forewarned though, traditional Taoism is not the same as American "Pop" Taoism.
One of my teachers was a native-born Chinese who was always interested in Taoism. Finally he formed an organization of interested people to study and practice Taoism. I was asked to join, but I couldn't reconcile the idea of trying to become a Taoist and joining a club at the same time.
Quote:
As far as settling the mind, learn how to relax
Listen for a faint sound behind you.[/quote] Mike
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Old 01-03-2006, 07:58 AM   #22
Moses
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Re: Studying Tao, Need some advice.

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I couldn't reconcile the idea of trying to become a Taoist and joining a club at the same time.
Paradoxical traditions are somewhat ironic in practice, aren't they

Moses
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