• Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

The Shogun

The Meditation Chamber

Recommended Posts

Oh-yeah.jpg


 


 


The Meditation Chamber is the place to seek the stillness of the mind, where you can share your views, experiences, questions, and challenges with your meditation practice; whether you're beginning to meditate or on a two-hour daily practice.  


  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Headspace and Stop, breathe and think are my favorite apps.

 

There also different alternatives to meditation you can try if sitting it's not your thing. You can meditate while performing katas, or try an adult coloring book as an alternative meditation.

 

Extra points if you get the Doctor Who one.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm using headspace and try to meditate daily for 20 Minutes. I've started in July last year. My first problem was that i did tend to fall asleep during the meditation. Fixed it with getting about 45 Minutes more sleep. Than it went well for a while. But since the end of november it has become a struggle again. It's hard to concentrate and to calm down during the meditation. I credit work stress with causing this. I try do sit through the sessions anyway.

When the sessions go well i tend to be a bit more relaxed and can concentrate a bit better. i tend to overanalyze things and meditation keeps this in check.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm using headspace and try to meditate daily for 20 Minutes. I've started in July last year. My first problem was that i did tend to fall asleep during the meditation. Fixed it with getting about 45 Minutes more sleep. That it went well for a while. But since the end of november it was become a struggle again. It's hard to concentrate and to calm down during the meditation. I credit work stress with causing this. I try do sit through the sessions anyway.

 

I often do fairly short meditations, because they fit into the schedule more easily.  It's hard to say you don't have time for five or ten minutes here or there, and you don't worry so much during the meditation about your deadlines.  (Once in a while, I'll extend them for another five minutes if I feel like there's still a ways to go.)  If time pressure is part of why you're having trouble, maybe shortening your meditations would help, or doing short ones more frequently through the day.  Sometimes I feel like, if you've gotten fairly good at centering yourself through meditation, you don't need a long meditation to get back there, but you might need more of them in a day to remind yourself what it feels like.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I've posted this before, in response to people's questions in threads, but I should probably put it here, too.  The thing that made meditation click for me was realizing that meditation actually is a kata, but for the brain instead of the body.  (It really literally is.  Japan transmits a lot of traditional knowledge and arts via kata, not just martial arts, and that's how Japanese meditation traditions teach it.)  Meditation is a practice in the same way that, say, aikido is a practice, where you do hundreds of repetitions over months or years, to develop the skill you're working on.  Your brain might not calm down during the meditation.  It may not feel relaxing.  And I think that's really frustrating for people who think that meditation is meant to be a relaxation period in their day, and feel like they're failing at it if their mind doesn't calm down.  We sort of talk about meditation like it's, "Clear your mind of thoughts, and then you can start meditation," but that feels backwards to me, because what it's teaching you is how to clear your mind of thoughts.  If you knew how to do that, you wouldn't need it.  Meditation is the practice of taking your uncontrolled thoughts and sitting them down in the corner, over and over again, so that when you have to use the technique in real life, it feels natural.  Like your martial arts practice, some days are going to freaking suck and you'll mess up every move, and some days you'll just be on fire, but you just go to the practice and finish it.

 

So, you know, meditation: it doesn't have to feel good or make you calm while you're doing it.  And maybe don't expect the black belt performance of yourself when you're a white belt.

 

Most focus meditation, in my experience, feels a lot like the feeling you develop after a while on the mat.  There's a sort of very calm, focused attentiveness and awareness you develop on the mat, and can start slipping into out of habit when you get into the dojo.  I find the feeling a lot like that.  Not surprising, probably, because meditation goes back a long way with martial arts, so that people could develop those mindsets.  When you start hearing people talk about the martial arts mindsets like mushin, zanshin, shoshin, fudoshin, you're talking about that shared language and practice of meditation and martial arts.  So I think martial artists have another frame of reference for getting the feel of meditation.  But learning to do that outside the dojo is hard.

  • Like 18

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm interested in meditation, but I don't know where to begin. Especially because, as a skeptic, as soon as mysticism, religion or alternative medicine get mentioned, I am turned off. 

 

Is meditation possible from a position of materialism (i.e. the philosophy that nothing exists beyond the physical)? Also, as one who gets bored easily, are there more active forms of meditation? ones that can occupy that disractable portion of the mind?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a chance to read some of the essays from my zen teacher (no link, not open access). This lineage of zen has a long history of martial artists as teachers. It fits smoothly into the training I'm already doing. I like that he is very clear on what to do and what not to do.

  • Sit every day.
  • Throw yourself into sitting zazen. Don't just hold still and let your thoughts wander.
  • Maintain correct posture and breathing.
  • Keep going after you have a breakthrough - there is more to learn.

I certainly have not had any breakthroughs yet. He says that it is not that hard to get to "kensho". Apparently the hard part comes after that. More to look forward to. ;)

 

(crossposted from my thread)

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm interested in meditation, but I don't know where to begin. Especially because, as a skeptic, as soon as mysticism, religion or alternative medicine get mentioned, I am turned off.

 

The science behind meditation does exist, not in large quantities, but it's looking pretty strong. I felt the same way, so I did take a bit of a look into that.  The way it basically goes is this: the brain is always active, and if you're not actively thinking things, it fills in with noise.  People don't control that noise as well as they think they do.  (This is looking like a serious contributing factor to a lot of mood disorders, impulsive behavior, etc.  That noise is probably just semi-random activation of heavily-used synaptic connections, which in some people is pretty harmful, if the thoughts and emotions that keep getting activated repeatedly are a problem.  The brain tends to reinforce negative pathways, like fear or social alienation, more heavily than positive ones, because those things are high-risk and high-priority for monkeys in trees.  At best, it's a background noise of activity that's taking up a lot of brain cycles and slowing down the thinking that has to get done to respond to a situation.)  But behavior can be trained through repetition, so you can train yourself to recognize that noise and, importantly, get some control over it and over how to stop listening to it.

 

It uses a teaching style that's not common in the West, and often gets misinterpreted as mystical.  It comes out of the "do it over and over in order to learn it" style of teaching, rather than the "explain it verbally in order to understand it" style of teaching.  It's the same way a lot of martial arts teachers got the whole "wise inscrutable sensei" bullshit when they came to the US, when really, you just need to learn some things by doing, because you can't explain someone else's body sensations or build muscle memory with words.

 

 

Is meditation possible from a position of materialism (i.e. the philosophy that nothing exists beyond the physical)?

 

Yes. Easily so. Quite a lot of meditation, even a fair portion of the stuff wrapped up in traditional language, is basically that. The point of most meditation is learning to perceive what is actually happening, without a lot of mental noise and knee-jerk reaction muddying the issue.  So it's pretty much all about being aware of what actually is, and understanding what part of that is under your control.

 

(There is religious Buddhism, but a fair chunk of it, especially as it moves further east and gets adopted outside monasteries, is basically secular, and about how to handle being an ordinary mortal person in a world with no supernatural referees to appeal to.  Traditionally, it's more treating it as a profound insight than a mystical one.  The mysticism is, IMO, a bit of a misinterpretation and a bit of playing up Eastern exoticism.  There's a lot of "this ain't mystical shit, you better ground yourself in the real world" running through actual Buddhist teaching, at least in the schools that most of the martial arts had contact with.  And there's a lot of really dodgy Orientalism in the new age community, which should be given about the same attention as the really dodgy science in the new age community.)

 

 

Also, as one who gets bored easily, are there more active forms of meditation? ones that can occupy that disractable portion of the mind?

 

On this one, you're kind of fucked.  Because the point of meditation is not to occupy the distractable portion of the mind, but to train it to behave differently.  Which doesn't happen if you're distracting it, because that's the noise you're training yourself to recognize and control.  In MA terms, those are the incoming attacks you're practicing the techniques to counter, you can't get on the mat and just avoid the incoming attacks.  As a fellow easily-bored person, I sympathize, because this made starting miserable, at least until I started looking at them as increased opportunities to practice technique.  (There are more active forms of meditation, like walking meditation and probably some of the suburi practices, but if you're doing things to occupy your mind during meditation, you're not doing meditation.)

 

A few things helped me on this one.  First, recognizing that the focus that had started coming in the dojo was kind of the same idea, so I was capable of that shift in mindset and I wanted to recreate it when I needed it.  Second, just deciding to try it a few times for very short five or ten minute sessions, and going, "oh, shit," when I started seeing how sharply that brain-noise could drop off.  Third, giving myself permission to suck at it.  Even people who are good at it are going to have distracted days when they suck, so I can suck a lot, and that's fine.  And last, on a really bad day, I'll fall back on a guided meditation.  I don't totally love going the more passive route, because I'm not convinced it does as much good in terms of practice, but a supported practice is better than no practice, so if that's what gets me through that day, sure.

  • Like 11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hot dog, sarakingdom: thorough and informative. Now as a follow up question: how? Do you have a move to recommend? A set play? A kata to start the novice out, then?

 

The one I started with, and the one I stuck with, was the simplest one I could get away with: counting the breath.  Because I've basically always got breath, and the counting gives me good feedback on when I've let my attention slip.  (I am not yet the kind of master who can just focus on the breath, without that feedback.  Tried it.  I know I'm cheating.)  Basically, you breathe normally, focusing on the physical sensations of breathing, and count the exhales, up to ten, then go back to one.  You will find yourself losing count, or suddenly noticing you're on fourteen or fifteen (or twenty), which means you've lost focus, and if you do that, you just start back at one.  It's simple, but really hard to do.  I don't sweat it if I screw up a lot.  Like being on the mat, you just get back up and try again.

 

I don't do formal Zen meditation (zazen), which is pretty picky about physical posture.  (It's interesting, I just don't think it's practical for me.)  I'm not that picky.  If it'd pass for reasonably good mat etiquette under the circumstances, it's fine for me.  But what I do like about their theory of meditation that other schools don't do, is that it's done with your eyes open but lowered, so you're aware of what's going on around you, just holding it at a distance.  I like that from an MA perspective, and I like that for meditating in situations where privacy isn't totally possible.  (I once read some interesting study on how meditators from different traditions reacted to startling interruptions, and the outward reaction was similar, but the Zen meditators uniquely had no inner startle reaction, because they were very aware of their surroundings, not blocking out parts of it.)  So there are formal traditions, but I think things like posture and where you meditate are a little negotiable.

 

I dabble occasionally with some other traditional forms of meditation, like the odd guided compassion meditation when I'm in a bad mood and don't think it'd be a great idea to give the thoughts in my head five unsupervised minutes to dwell on shit.  One of the other big ones is taking an inventory of physical status, which can probably be a good one for people who do high-injury-risk sports, but I don't really do it, just when it's in one of the fallback guided meditations.  But basically, it's all breath counting for me.  Still does the job, and I can do it anywhere.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have much to say that hasn't been already mentioned, but I also started counting breaths whenever I was not meditating after yoga (that was a guided meditation). Also, I'm an agnostic and I have found that the neurological and anxiety dealing benefits of meditation works for me as well as the spirituality aspect of it. I hope we have helped you a bit in starting or continuing your practice and I can't wait to hear more about it. =D

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to the mods for adding this thread.  Thanks to Sarakingdom for her thoughtful answers. 

 

I think I'll be able to add a reasonable meditation goal into the next challenge.  At this time, I'm working on focus and attention with suburi.  I'm doing a very basic sword cut, no tension, and have been trying to keep my attention focused on the cut and the feeling in my body (mostly upper body).  It's not meditation, but it is a focus exercise, and it's amazing how much my mind wanders.  I at least notice it now, but still...it's too easy to think about what's going to be going on in the day, etc.  It should be interesting to see how that changes with some kind of more regular meditation practice.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The one I started with, and the one I stuck with, was the simplest one I could get away with: counting the breath.  Because I've basically always got breath, and the counting gives me good feedback on when I've let my attention slip.  (I am not yet the kind of master who can just focus on the breath, without that feedback.  Tried it.  I know I'm cheating.)  Basically, you breathe normally, focusing on the physical sensations of breathing, and count the exhales, up to ten, then go back to one.  You will find yourself losing count, or suddenly noticing you're on fourteen or fifteen (or twenty), which means you've lost focus, and if you do that, you just start back at one.  It's simple, but really hard to do.  I don't sweat it if I screw up a lot.  Like being on the mat, you just get back up and try again.

 

I don't do formal Zen meditation (zazen), which is pretty picky about physical posture.  (It's interesting, I just don't think it's practical for me.) 

 

I do the same breath counting practice as Sara. I am also doing the formal zen posture and breathing. I was doing a type of mindfulness meditation last spring that used sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. Both practices involve concentration on your breath.

 

I found that the mindfulness practice was more internally focused. Zazen is indeed picky about posture. Just like in martial arts, those small physical adjustments make a difference. The biggest thing is keeping the back long so that you can breathe deeply from the diaphragm. If you slouch you are likely to lose focus. Almost everyone needs to sit on a cushion when sitting on the floor. The cushion gives an angle to the hips so that you can keep your back straight. Once you get set in your meditation position you are supposed to sit STILL. No fidgeting. If your feet fall asleep you observe the sensations. This is part of training the mind over the body.

 

I like keeping my eyes open for meditation. I can see and hear everything around me. I am not trying to shut out the world. For one thing, it makes it easier to stay awake. I think it also makes it easier to take that mental state into other situations.

 

Different meditation traditions use different images and methods. I'm not saying that zazen is better, only that I am finding it more effective for me. Go to a few beginners classes and see which type of practice resonates for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I often do fairly short meditations, because they fit into the schedule more easily.  It's hard to say you don't have time for five or ten minutes here or there, and you don't worry so much during the meditation about your deadlines.  (Once in a while, I'll extend them for another five minutes if I feel like there's still a ways to go.)  If time pressure is part of why you're having trouble, maybe shortening your meditations would help, or doing short ones more frequently through the day.  Sometimes I feel like, if you've gotten fairly good at centering yourself through meditation, you don't need a long meditation to get back there, but you might need more of them in a day to remind yourself what it feels like.

Thanks for the input. It's not really time pressure, it's more that there is to much going on at once and i rarely had time since november to really catch my breath. But you are right i will aim for shorter sessions.

 

I'm interested in meditation, but I don't know where to begin. Especially because, as a skeptic, as soon as mysticism, religion or alternative medicine get mentioned, I am turned off. 

 

Is meditation possible from a position of materialism (i.e. the philosophy that nothing exists beyond the physical)? Also, as one who gets bored easily, are there more active forms of meditation? ones that can occupy that disractable portion of the mind?

I picked headspace to play around with meditation because it presents meditation as a workout for the mind and never even mentions religion or some mystical stuff.

 

Headspace offers a free ten day program to try out. It's 10 guided sessions with a duration of 10 minutes each. It think other apps offer similar programs.

 

My suggestion would be to download the various meditation apps and try out the intro courses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sarahkingdom can just drop the mic and walk off stage with her answers! Wow, thank you for sharing all that knowledge!

 

I just saw this since I never really read the pinned threads. My mistake and big shouts to The Shogun for making this. 

 

Theo, I am also a bit of a skeptic, but there is a growing amount of research on the benefits of meditation, so you don't have to approach it in a religious way if you don't want to. It isn't a panacea to all of life's problems, but for someone like me who overthinks everything, it does help calm my mind. It's a way of training your brain and re-wiring how we react to things. I am not good at it but when I have devoted time to it, it seems to help. 

 

Lately I have been falling asleep while meditating, but that is largely a function of my insomnia. Still, I have made time to meditate five days in a row, so I am happy for that! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, for those who have recently started or restarted, how did you finally get around to sitting down to do the kata, so to speak?  Did you have an hurdles to get past, and if so, how did you?  I tend to be a kind of 'F-it, it's time to do this' personality for certain things (procrastinators of the world unite!  I'm uh, free later this week, I think...let me get back to you...)

 

Since there isn't a deadline, etc, hanging over head, it's harder for me to prioritize - if you've been there, and got past it somehow, I'd be happy to read about it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, as for me, I try to get the mental stuff done first thing in the morning. Meditating is part of the morning routine for me - exercises to wake me up, and the meditation flows right off of that. That may or may not work for you depending on how much time you have to work with in the morning, but getting it done and over seems to work best for me in terms of getting the most out of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope you don't mind a rebel sneaking in here. Resuming my meditation practice is a goal for me in starting NF, I'm setting really basic meditation goals this challenge, but want to extend them. I'm interested in trying out some of the apps you guys have mentioned. I have always used Insight Timer. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope you don't mind a rebel sneaking in here. Resuming my meditation practice is a goal for me in starting NF, I'm setting really basic meditation goals this challenge, but want to extend them. I'm interested in trying out some of the apps you guys have mentioned. I have always used Insight Timer. 

Welcome!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, for those who have recently started or restarted, how did you finally get around to sitting down to do the kata, so to speak?  Did you have an hurdles to get past, and if so, how did you?  I tend to be a kind of 'F-it, it's time to do this' personality for certain things (procrastinators of the world unite!  I'm uh, free later this week, I think...let me get back to you...)

 

Yeah, making time is the hard part. I agree with Kishi that first thing in the morning works best for me. I like having the peace and quiet before I start my day.

 

Meditating in the evening works for me, once I actually sit down to do it. Putting all the other tasks aside and sitting down is the hard part. Procrastination and all that.

 

One tip that helped me - I think of meditation as time when I can stop worrying about everything else. I almost always have too much on my plate. Family, work, world news, all give things to worry about. Meditation time lets my brain relax. I don't have to solve any problems. All I have to do is sit up straight and breathe. I can handle that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just try to fit it in wherever I can. I am not a morning person AT ALL, so that is tough for me. I kind of like it in the evening since my mind tends to race the most then and can use the calming. 

 

One thing that has helped me in the past with stuff like this (I'm also a fellow procrastinator! I heard someone on a podcast once say that their 'present self' must really hate their 'future self' considering how poorly they treat them, haha) is actually writing down a schedule week to week. It helped with my running back when I used to be a runner, and it helped when I had to study for the GRE. So maybe throw down a time on your Google calendar that is sacrosanct? 

 

To anyone who is a long-time meditator: have you noticed any long-term mental changes? One of my problems is that I have a fairly anxious mind, and I am hoping that meditation and mindfulness will help with it. I am not expecting it to be a perfect cure, but a tool in the toolbox. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now