Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Melissa, modified 1 Month ago.

Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 9/20/20 Recent Posts
We all here probably know that the meditation culture, retreat, renunciation culture in Buddhist practise/dharma is not in parallel with what society touts nowadays.

Whilst I appreciate my practice a lot, I find a little trouble trying to integrate my practice, the things I am learning, interested in, or prefers into my daily life.

For example, due to recent heavier practice, I tend to want to minimise social outings ( thank god for covid now that outings in not a norm), or keep it short and sweet, rather than spending the whole weekends out with friends, gossiping and drinking, and this tend to be looked at sideways from friends, or they will ask 'Are you ok?' or ' You have changed, we can't relate to you anymore." or sometimes i just pretend to be interested in gossips, foods, drinks, vacations, shopping just to fit in. 

How do you handle that?

My general outlook on life has changed drastically too, from previously wanting to achieve this and that, to currently wanting to try to let go and live more down to earthly, taking care of my ethics, be considerate with my general surrounding, and family and friends have been asking ' are you really ok? you might be lonely? " which sometimes poses a lot of doubts and confusion in what I am doing and made me think a lot on whether my actions are really beneficial? (they are, but self-doubt is real)

even the type of books and videos and talks I am interested in has changed. 

The question is,
1) Do you face such challenges too in your life or am I thinking too much? 
2) If you have managed to overcome it and integrate your life nicely with your practice, do you have tips for me?
3) How do you manage self-doubts? is there any relevant material or book you refer to?

any advice is greatly appreciated. I foresee this challenge is going to be more 
I come to dharma overground once in a while to see the beautiful community here which I really cherished as they normalise another way of life.

With Metta. 
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David Matte, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 75 Join Date: 8/3/19 Recent Posts
Integration is a huge and complex topic. Having just begun this path 6 years ago, I still feel like a beginner regarding integration but you're likely to get some good advice from those who have been integrating their insights for a while. 

Initially after getting some insight into my experience and beginning to make drastic changes to my life, I continued to act with pretense around family and co-workers; trying to put together the old act of myself, pretending to be someone I'm not to feel included or accepted or whatever.

I did this until I realized I didn't have to and I wasn't living my truth, which was the most important thing for me. The pretense wasn't helping anyone and I wasn't being true to myself and what I realized. 

The important thing I have learned is to just be straightforward and honest with the other person. Just be yourself. Investigate the need you feel the need to fit in. What is it you want from the other person and why? Is it just a primal survival desire to feel included in the tribe?

However, to stop looking externally to feel included by the other person doesn't mean you have to stop being curious about the other person. "No actually I haven't seen the latest "insert latest Hollywood film". Tell me about that? What did you like about that?" After all, this person is just how the Mystery is presenting itself so I find it natural to be curious and open about that; what is that person about? How has the Universe shaped their conditioning? A person is just like anything else we see in the natural world so I find it's helps to take an interest in them.

If you feel the conversation calls for it, you can try skillfully leading the person to understand your position more. You can tailor what you say depending on the person. "A couple years ago I had an experience where I realized I wasn't my thoughts. That made me consider x and so I no longer..."

I have also learned that you don't actually have to have much in common with the other person in order to be able relate to them. Think of how many people have pets. In terms of interests and the status quo, how much do people have in common with their pets? Not very much! They can't even have a conversation with them but yet relating happens and goes very well. 

​​​​​​​I'm also very grateful for this community as it's been a channel for some sense of connection and community for me, as well as a source of self assurance that I can simply be myself knowing there are many other people out there living with the insights and values I hold in my own life.
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Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 254 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
 Hey Melissa, I feel ya emoticon

The dhamma path we are on here is a special one - not for everyone. So naturally, if you go down that path, you are going to leave some behind. And as you may remember, one cannot really understand what it's about before actually walking the path. It just doesn't make sense to a person who's not on the path that there even is a path! "What path?! Just have a drink and chill the f out".

Also, when not on the path, being alone tends to mean that one feels bad. But it doesn't in our case! - one may, I suppose, just be utterly obsessed with studying.. this thing!... that we actually are! And why is that so weird anyway? It's not like we have a manual for being human and existing, one that everyone has read. No, what we do on the path makes a lot of sense to us. We're learning something valuable about ourselves and aligning our life accordingly. But it doesn't make any sense to a person who's not there.

So there's gonna be some concern and perhaps disapproval from the ones around you. I guess that can't be avoided - especially if the ones around you are engaged in what I may almost think of as the most opposite to "path": gossiping and drinking.  lol! Nothing wrong with these things, but you know.. It's different stuff altogether! 


When I embarked on my path, I basically started gliding away from most of the "friends" I had. The only ones that stayed are the ones who were alright with whatever I was doing, whatever space I needed. And today they are still ok with us catching up every few months, sometimes longer. The ones who took it personally back then, and didn't last, didn't really get me anyway. So we're both better off as I see it. They don't need someone who's "weird" in their eyes in their life, I suppose.

I don't want to highlight the lonely part of embarking on the dhamma journey, but it definitely exists. (Oh man, it took some years before my girlfriend came to accept how much I would change, as well as all the turmoil of digging out mental shit every day. Thanks for sticking through it, babe emoticon).

But there's a smaller, less obvious perhaps, but much brighter side of this. The dhamma path is just so re-goddam-diculously rewarding. Not only are you gaining the insight from the practice, which gives you the liberating effects, you are also aligning your lifestyle to what matters more to you. It's a win-win.

Of course, if you don't really like to gossip you shouldn't routinely keep that as part of your life just to satisfy someone else. That would be so counter-productive and good for noone. Besides, if your gossip partners know and understand you, they will also understand that you have different fish to fry for whatever reason, although they may not understand.

I guess my opinion is that we should all walk our own paths as truly and honestly as we can. In this way we learn the most, grow the most, and are therefore able to inhabit the earth as the most great and most beneficial kinds of human beings on it. I truly do believe that everyone will benefit from you benefitting: Your values will likely purify, along with your mental states - and everyone will surely appreciate that in the long run.

In the short run, we will have some problems that we'll have to step up to. In your case it may be similarly to me, to actually have some relationships fade. This will be like ripping off a band-aid and then the real healing can begin.


I have a lot of thoughts about this and actually re-wrote this section completely different three times. I feel like I could go on a whole hour talking about it :p And I feel I didn't convey even a small part of what I think are important considerations, for me, in this post.

1) But yes, I do (or did) face such challenges.
2) I did handle it quite well myself, although it was a tough process.
3) Self-doubt is not something I know any good books about. However, it is perhaps one thing that you can start objectively investigating in your meditation over the next while, since it's bugging you especially these days. It surely is something which tends to be eradicated as insight grows.

I apologize for the messy wall of text. Anyway, best of everything Melissa emoticon

PS. For myself, the best advice for this was my mothers' words. Always be true to yourself. Cliché perhaps, but it has been very powerful to have had it as a mother-mantra growing up.
 
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Stefan R, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 67 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Only been in the game for about 14 months now, but I think I've made fairly decent progress in that time. I definitely noticed less desire for petty pleasure seeing and a lot of the vapid socialising habits people engage in. I've always liked deep conversations and hated small talk. But the paradoxical thing about the journey is that socialising is much more freeing. Being present in and experiencing a conversation in and of itself as it unfolds is so pleasant. 

Socialising is all about meeting people halfway. That's the beautiful thing about it all. There's a lot of magic in small talk, in talking about the weather, and just doing dumb spontaneous shit sometimes. You also begin to realise a lot of the petty pleasure-seeking is motivated by deep pain in others. Meditation gets you seeing suffering everywhere, and so socialisation takes on a new empathetic undertone. I love listening to people's stories, problems, woes, and triumphs. Before I didn't. And at one stage in the journey, I was totally against it. So there's also that to consider. You'll naturally start pushing and pulling away from certain things, and this is just a process of realignment of priorities and values. Insights will accentuate one part of the human condition, with which you'll identify, and then that insight will mature into a more holistic appreciation for the beauty and tragedy of humanity; this'll naturally get reflected in your social life as time goes on (it did for me, there were definite patterns looking back, and even looking now). Also, something to consider, unless your friends right now are completely toxic, consider making more of an effort to keep them around, maybe clue them in on the deep, life-changing process you're undertaking. If they're good, they'll understand. If not, oh well. 

Another thing to be cautious of is the ego-trapping nature of spirituality. I consider myself a pretty humble guy, but there have definitely been times in the past during the journey where I thought to myself: "I'm way above this person/conversation/etc". BTW: there were DEFINITELY people/conversations that I had outgrown. But the knee-jerk reaction of "I'm better than this" is pure ego inflation. Catch that as soon as it happens and explore what being better than or worse than something really means for your self-concept. 

Meditation, in the social aspect, boils down to a well-known idiom. "You are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with the most". Meditation gets you most intimately connected to "you". And so the equation of "5 closest people = me" doesn't work any more. The mind starts seeing the complete transitory and conditional nature of its role-taking in social situations and begins to stop resisting the push and pull of identifying with a label, thought, idea, sensation, etc., and begins to completely immerse itself in the unfolding social happenings in that moment. 

My overall tip in this regard is to treat it just like meditation. Integration is about experimentation, being honest, and seeing where it takes you. There's no formula. Would I recommend you ditch 95% of your friends, change your career path, commit yourself mind, body, and spirit to your studies in the hopes of helping others as I did? Nope. You gotta find it your own way. How do you integrate this all? It'll happen naturally. Let the pieces fall. The die is already cast. The number will show up soon. And the results will play themselves out. The mind has a way of untangling itself the more it's just left to experience things as they unfold naturally. 
Rob Gee, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
 Funny, I've been tackling this question but from a different perspective. My thoughts are "if I integrate my practice more throughout my daily life, even just minor changes/attempts, than maybe I'll improve my practice". Practice sessions raises the ceiling, while integration raises the floor, and a rising tide raises all ships. Even replying to more posts within this community is an attempt at integration. 

I made a Google Forms questionnaire that I can access via my phone and setup a timer system. I added a couple things to track, but the idea is to have a low-key reminder to ask myself how mindful am I being. I can pull the data into excel and see any dips, especially if I use a number system. From there I can identify parts of my daily life that I can meditate on, figuring how to add mindfulness or equanimity.

Acceptance appears to be a key factor in my opinion. Dynamics with your friends may change, how you interact with them may change, and that's okay. Much like people have posted already. I'm also trying to avoid asking "How" because then I start thinking of what the first step would be ... instead I am attempting to simply "Do" and alter as I go.

I'm also a bit of a creative/problem solving thinker. Thinking points on a couple examples you highlighted:
  • Gossip - Leadership highlighted an interesting skill for me with "leading questions". I'm not a fan of gossip for the sake of negative speaking, so I subtly challenge people to think of the point of view of others or try to find more common grounds between all party members. Asking innocent questions can often redirect the flow of conversation and still make me feel part of the group. Listening more than talking happens more often.
  • Foods - This is actually my first step towards integration.
    • “This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work. May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food. May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation.
      May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet. We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our Sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.” - Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
    • Be quizzical about food. There is plenty of room for artistic interpretation and it connects all life on this planet. It very much feels like an outlet for my inner child to explore.
  • Drinks - I made the decision to follow a sober lifestyle recently, but if you do partake in drinks, I will say that you will not find a more easily accessible opportunity for sharing a "complete experience" with others like you can with wine tastings. It also works for craft beers, single malts, etc. In the depth of a wine tasting, all senses become a microscope of exploration. Your expectations of the beverage becomes a hinderance, hence why blind tastings occur. Is the wine pleasant, neutral or not pleasant? You note every minutia of details from the texture, body, acidity, sweetness, tannic sensations. The flavour profile can range from fruits to odd flavours, which sharing with others helps enhance the experience. Drilling into the fruit flavours can open it up to ripe vs unripe, fresh vs bruised, integrated vs flabby, red vs purple or green vs citrus. I could go on, but I'm already getting self-conscious by the length of this post.
  • Vacations - I'm always fascinated by what someone thinks of as an "ideal vacation". Usually exploring this with others helps improve my empathy and can offer insights on what motivates others. With Covid, I've become a sort of trend starter with my group of friends as my wife and I are always trying to find ways to make the most with what's available. We just got kayaks, so the idea of "vacation" has now become exploring our regional river systems. 
I've been trying to internalize this quote. If I lose friends along the way because of it, I accept that.
  • "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. (...) There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do."
The question is,
  1. Do you face such challenges too in your life or am I thinking too much? 
    • I do face such challenges. But a counter question could be "have you ever experienced a moment of full integration?", and the answer is yes. For me, the less I expect/crave for integration, the more I drop my ego, the more integration I have. 
  2. If you have managed to overcome it and integrate your life nicely with your practice, do you have tips for me?
    • What does "overcoming" look to you? It is a on-off light switch or a dimmer?
    • I'm also trying to tackle head-on any daily life challenges that trigger anxiety. By building momentum here, and with the positive parts of my life, I'm hoping that momentum will continue to grow and grow.
  3. How do you manage self-doubts? is there any relevant material or book you refer to?
    • My doubts arises from fear, and my fears arises from desires, and my desires are Dependent Co-Arisings. 
    • With my timer and google forms tracker, I am trying to catch moments in my daily life where I am locked in a dependent co-arising without being mindful. By liberating more of these moment, I liberate more of my doubts.
    • Books
      • https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ati/lib/authors/thanissaro/shapeofsuffering.pdf
        • Great resource on Dependent Co-Arising
      • Levels of Energy by Dodson, Frederick E
        • Interesting take on identifying emotions on a scale and the fluctuations from scale to scale. Part of my tracking.
Food for thought.
 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 959 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
How Can I Bring The Practice Into My Daily Life? ~ Shinzen Young
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSq9vKkLu4s
"At first, meditation is one of the things you do in life. Eventually you have to reach the point where life is something that takes place inside meditation"

How to Change Your Life with Mindful Awareness ~Shinzen Young
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yExoNZLCjDE
​​​​​​​
The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
https://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/key-books/#block_5d3dc2b18d1bf-1
"In this beautiful and lucid guide, Thay offers practical exercises as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness–being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness."
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 959 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Melissa
We all here probably know that the meditation culture, retreat, renunciation culture in Buddhist practise/dharma is not in parallel with what society touts nowadays.

Whilst I appreciate my practice a lot, I find a little trouble trying to integrate my practice, the things I am learning, interested in, or prefers into my daily life.

For example, due to recent heavier practice, I tend to want to minimise social outings ( thank god for covid now that outings in not a norm), or keep it short and sweet, rather than spending the whole weekends out with friends, gossiping and drinking, and this tend to be looked at sideways from friends, or they will ask 'Are you ok?' or ' You have changed, we can't relate to you anymore." or sometimes i just pretend to be interested in gossips, foods, drinks, vacations, shopping just to fit in. 

How do you handle that?

My general outlook on life has changed drastically too, from previously wanting to achieve this and that, to currently wanting to try to let go and live more down to earthly, taking care of my ethics, be considerate with my general surrounding, and family and friends have been asking ' are you really ok? you might be lonely? " which sometimes poses a lot of doubts and confusion in what I am doing and made me think a lot on whether my actions are really beneficial? (they are, but self-doubt is real)

even the type of books and videos and talks I am interested in has changed. 

The question is,
1) Do you face such challenges too in your life or am I thinking too much? 
2) If you have managed to overcome it and integrate your life nicely with your practice, do you have tips for me?
3) How do you manage self-doubts? is there any relevant material or book you refer to?

any advice is greatly appreciated. I foresee this challenge is going to be more 
I come to dharma overground once in a while to see the beautiful community here which I really cherished as they normalise another way of life.

With Metta. 


You have to use your own judgement on how to handle these things. No one can decide for you. I would discourage you from trying to follow someone else's pattern. But it sounds like you are asking the right questions, so I think you will find your way. One bit of advice: you can change your mind any time you want and try a different approach. There isn't a right or wrong way to do it, and what seems right today might be different from what seemed right yesterday. As your pracitce changes you over time, what is right for you may change too.

Metta.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 202 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
    Melissa, I'm sure the testimonials given will be helpful in understanding the process you're experiencing. I think everybody that practices seriously has gone through it. It's sort of a logical outcome. As Dogen said, "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self.” The better you know yourself the closer you will come to your true self. Both the psychological self and the larger aware self. This will change the way you perceive and act in the world. But in no way does it mean you have to separate from it. We learn to be “in the world but not of it”. It is freedom.     
     You will not find outlets for many experiences and understandings you will have in your practice. But think that you're an advanced astrophysicist. You wouldn't go around trying to tell everybody about your latest discovery in other galaxies and how you think you found alien life on planet x. Unless you're Niel deGrasse Tyson. Much less rejecting all the people that can't follow your argument. You just find the things you have in common and bond around that. Just like always.
​​​​​​​     In advanced practice, there are other mistakes we can make. I won't go into them now but keep, Torei Enji and the four ailments, in mind.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 1622 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It seems to be a pretty common pattern that someone feels unhappy and like something is missing in their life, so they go looking for answers in spirituality. They start practicing hard and see the downsides in their previous lifestyle and move away from people and stuff they did before. Some of that is necessary because it was unhealthy, but they also develop a spiritual identity and start looking down on stuff that wasn't necessarily unhealthy. Inevitably there's a certain amount of spiritual bypassing involved. Eventually they figure out that the bypassing is causing them suffering as well, at which point they get to the root of their problems and seeking. The spiritual ego is deflated and then they can return to some aspects of their former life without it being a problem. The problem was in how they were relating to certain stuff, not in the stuff itself.

I'm not saying that this is necessarily what is going on with you Melissa, but I've seen it in myself and others and think it's worth being aware of it. You mentioned that your friends and family are asking if you're ok or lonely, so it might be worth considering what they are seeing in you. I'm not saying that you shouldn't change the unhealthy stuff, just to be wary of throwing the baby out with the bathwater!
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Emil Jensen, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 254 Join Date: 7/16/20 Recent Posts
Well said, George!
I actually did abandon a lot of things I used to do, out of creating a new "spiritual" self. Lol.
But some of these things I came back to later on, when I found out they were not bad in and of themselves. And coming back was a lot better, because I could enjoy it free'er!
Melissa, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 9/20/20 Recent Posts
THANK YOU SO MUCH GUYS.&nbsp;<br /><br />I am wary about spiritual materialism and try as hard as I can to not get trapped in it.&nbsp;<br /><br />However a lot times I realised i am asking myself, is this spiritual materialism or am I just prioritising what is&nbsp; important in my life and my values?<br /><br />Things like, letting someone know I am not comfortable about the unethical ways they are doing certain things which involved me, cutting short meet ups or not attending certain social function because I need to get my meditation in for the day, not really going out much with certain people whom make me feel 'small' or 'strange' about my ways, and not respecting my boundaries, being okay with saying, yes I am interested in the dhamma, and expressing that interest.&nbsp;<br /><br />I am taking it action by action, but some friends or families do not like how I have changed. I guess you all are right, it is only for me to judge what's the best thing for me to do.&nbsp;<br /><br />Hearing a few people say that they have this problem as well make me feel okay and also give me space to learn. As i am quite a beginner - a year or two onto the path, this transitory phase is definitely challenging emoticon<br /><br />But , I really really appreciate the sharing and kind responses emoticon<br /><br />METTA.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 1622 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
With this kind of stuff I find it helpful to remind myself that it's not necessarily an either-or situation. A certain person might cross my boundaries sometimes, but at other times I might be projecting my stuff onto them. Once you've cut out the really unhealthy stuff, a lot of the rest comes down to making peace with various shades of grey. I guess my motto would be 'change what you have to and figure out what's going on with yourself for the rest'. There's a certain freedom that comes from being able to stay present in an uncomfortable situation and be aware of what's going on without reacting or avoiding. It's not easy and I'm still figuring it out myself, but from what I've seen so far it works.
Rob Gee, modified 29 Days ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Another piece to the puzzle for me is the paradoxical fact that I've had some encounter with people that I thought I could have been more patient, more mindful, and the doubt nags at me. Other times, an encounter that felt so benign ended up being exactly what the other person needed. Weeks, months and sometimes years later I would have someone tell me that something I said or did resonated with them and helped them. 

Sometimes integrating mindfulness in an interaction isn't for the present version of either person, sometimes it plants a seed for a future blossom.
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J W, modified 28 Days ago.

RE: Integrating practice to daily life. Tips?

Posts: 384 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
For me I guess a big part of integration is the realization that dharma / practice IS actually in parallel with society (which society though?)

Perhaps one thing to do is think about the ways in which practice has helped your relationships, your outlook on life, your day-to-day experience.  For myself, I used to get pretty bad social anxiety sometimes, I think that's definitely gotten better as a direct result of practice.  Though at the same time, I do agree that solitude is a beautiful thing. (Agreed that it's not an either/or thing)

Perhaps renunciation has its place in Buddhism. But so does friendship (Sangha) emoticon

"
Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."[1]

​​​​​​​
"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.
"
-Upaddha Sutta

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