Message Boards Message Boards

Miscellaneous

They call it practice...

Toggle
They call it practice...
Answer
8/25/15 8:37 PM
Because we have to practice doing it. Or so it would appear.

And that's where I'm struggling. We're in the process of trying to relocate back to Texas. For a few weeks now, all my time that isn't required for taking care of my daughter, making sure things are maintained around our residence, and doing the things to help my wife who is overwhelmed by her job, is devoted to trying to find a place to live, at a distance. and arranging for a moving truck, moving labor, and arrangements for our house scouting trip to D/FW next week. And it seems to have evaporated any spiritual sense in my life.

Usually, and for some time now, I've been able to have some level of mindfulness, mindfulness as the Buddha described. Some days it's to a remarkable degree, throughout the day. Other days, it's here and there. For the last few weeks, it's been nearly nonexistent, in spite of being aware of this being the case. And I recently I was made aware of guarding the sense doors, which really just seems like a higher level of mindfulness, but a helpful description none the less. Trying to put that into practice has been an exercise in futility.

With everything going on, I feel like now more than ever, my practice, which is supposed to be our very lives, seems nonexstent. And if the difficult times aren't the most important time to bring our practice to bear, when is? I still meditate two hours each day, I read something about or related to the path each night as I go to sleep, but I feel like I've almost regressed back to the point i was at before I started all this a year ago.

And I make a sincere effort each day, throughout the day to remain aware of, and present in the moment. It never gets off the ground. Even my worst days before weren't like this. It just seems that my mind, energy and attention are so invested in this (and there is definitely craving and clinging, because I strongly desire to return home) and so I can get myself re-centered.

I would appreciate hearing ideas and suggestions as to how I can get oriented and stay grounded on the path as I'm going through all of this.

RE: They call it practice...
Answer
8/25/15 9:40 PM as a reply to Darrell.
Hi Darrell, it sounds really skillful what you're doing (sitting, supporting your wife's efforts, your daughter, the move..).

So, one, what does it look like when your practice is not struggling?  

And, two, for me, if I'm swamped or generating lots of ideas, I make a little list of those things,  and then just like anapanasati I gladden the mind and then apply (and re-apply) the mind to the senses versus the breath (kindly, no matter how often mind ferrets away) and I take long, deep breathes to relax the mind and body (these long, slow, deep breaths will after a seconds or a couple minutes often start to form a concordance with the heart rate and bring the rate and pressure down -- Case Western Reserve put out a little more research on this in 2014). I just keep re-placing the mind to the actions of the senses of actually doing and deeply breathing.

So this can help me re-orient in an overwhelming situation.

Those are what I've tried. And sometimes a situation is just really overwhelming. Maybe this time would be more of a struggle without the practice you're doing now and before.


Good luck with your move!


(Sorry for the wall o' text; carriage return is not happening at the moment =)
_________________________
editx1: carriage return restored!

RE: They call it practice...
Answer
8/26/15 6:06 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Thank you for taking the time to help, Katy.

What does it look like when I'm not struggling? Good question. It's easiest to answer that by saying what it isn't. It isn't as reactive as I've been lately. And there has been, in recent months, a greater ability to let go, to surrender to what's going on. While these qualities were not dominant, or the majority, they were there more than have been before in my life.

I wonder if it's just the heightened state of alarm I'm in. there's been an extreme amout of craving and clining about going back to a place that has never stopped being home to me, even after 15 years living elsewhere. And this entire business has been fraught with uncertainty, and even a few times when it looked like it was DOA. And yet, in spite of all odds, it is happening. The only hang up is a place to live, and that's been what has been consuming almost every minute of my free time for the last two or three weeks.

So with the degree of profound clinging to, and craving for, some part of me has sensed this as a threat, and has kept me amped up on adrenaline.

I've started doing metta a month or two ago, and that helps, even if my metta practice is still very immature, which it is, it helps. as does the sitting.

I'm working on trying to remember to breath as you suggested, although that's not much different than remembering to be focused on the body, mind, feelings, ardent, alert and mindful.

RE: They call it practice...
Answer
8/26/15 6:50 PM as a reply to Darrell.
I have some tips:

  • Thinking about the future usually is about controlling the environment (fight or flight response) and controlling what you can't control needs to be interrupted. The best way to interrupt it is to enjoy the breath. Desire can be problematic, because as soon as the brain notices a desirable object or experience it starts worrying about control to prevent from losing it.  Keep it simple. Concentration is better than mindfulness when the stress is really high. Return to mindfulness when your life is more settled.
  • Use a welcoming practice more often to smooth the hits of life that are out of your control. Preferences cause stress. This really smoothed out my noting practice. http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/9813/
  • I really like Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talks on the breath and how to be creative by changing your perception of it. When paying attention to the breath it's easy to manipulate it (this is an insight. What you pay attention to tends to get manipulated), and if you look at the in and out breath in a more peaceful way that comfortable feeling should help the mind. Eg. Think of the air going in and out of your lungs on their own instead of being pushed and pulled by a "you". Increase the breath for energy and relax the breath if there's too much boredom/restlessness. Consistency with as little gaps as possible will bring major benefits. Another way of saying it is "remain with the breath no matter what happens." The longer you stay with the breath the longer there is relief.
  • Try not to analyze meditation and notice how much stress there is when strategizing and analyzing is taking over.
  • Basic goal orientation which matches with my first point: Plan things in your life more and focus on doing one thing at a time. In sports or other endeavours it pays to breakdown goals into smaller parts and only think about the part you have to do now before you think about the next part. Feedback on how accurate or inaccurate you planning has is simply more information to update your plan to make it better.
  • Do this for the rest of your life because we all are going to have bigger problems coming (old age, disease, painful death). To make it more simple: Just think and do one thing at a time.
  • If  you get good at this you can start trying to nudge your attitude towards enjoying the success of putting small goals behind you: Flow. This happens when skills match challenges perfectly and your sense of self-preoccupation decreases and time seems to go by quicker. You know this is working when you feel more mentally energized after some work is done instead of being drained. 
  • Moving can be a drain if we get overwhelmed and being overwhelmed has to do with thinking about too much to do than what one has time for now, yet you can only do one thing at a time. Just try and think and pay attention to one thing at a time and let the expectations return to what is. The moving will get done under realistic timelines only.
I hope that helps.

Richard

RE: They call it practice...
Answer
8/29/15 10:51 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard,

Thanks for that, it has been very helpful. Although I have to admit, concentration was every bit as hard to maintain as mindfulness. It really almost seems/feels like the same thing. But everything you suggested has proven helpful, especially just doing one thing at a time. It's so simple, and obvious once I read it, I'm embarrassed that I missed it.

The interesting thing is that I had major insight twice this week, once while meditating, and today while running errands with my daughter, seemingly as a result of just making the effort to maintain concentration. I suppose we all have to remember that there apparently lulls in the activity, whether it's mindfulness, insight, or whatever form progress on the path takes. But when it happens, it seems like we're stuck, and insight, or that sense of the idea of self breaking down, ability to be fully present in the moment with a quiet mind, etc, will never come again. We've lost it. I'll have to remember next time, that if I'm still sincerely seeking, and making effort on the path, those times will come again.

RE: They call it practice...
Answer
8/30/15 9:03 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
Richard,

Thanks for that, it has been very helpful. Although I have to admit, concentration was every bit as hard to maintain as mindfulness. It really almost seems/feels like the same thing. But everything you suggested has proven helpful, especially just doing one thing at a time. It's so simple, and obvious once I read it, I'm embarrassed that I missed it.

The interesting thing is that I had major insight twice this week, once while meditating, and today while running errands with my daughter, seemingly as a result of just making the effort to maintain concentration. I suppose we all have to remember that there apparently lulls in the activity, whether it's mindfulness, insight, or whatever form progress on the path takes. But when it happens, it seems like we're stuck, and insight, or that sense of the idea of self breaking down, ability to be fully present in the moment with a quiet mind, etc, will never come again. We've lost it. I'll have to remember next time, that if I'm still sincerely seeking, and making effort on the path, those times will come again.

It's ironic in that I'm in the middle of a move myself. emoticon

Just remember that whatever situation you're in you can always return to the breath and learning how to be present with difficult people, situations and medical issues is good practice. Practicing during the storm also means you are letting go of attachment to preferences which will take you further down the path. Practice for most people at the beginning is just getting to be present in part of their life and to deal with the obvious rumination but after that there can be a plateau where people are using practice to avoid things. The goal is to do the things you don't want to do that bring good results and to avoid the things you want to do that bring bad results.

Oh well back to my move!