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post #81 of 124

What is meditation?  How do you meditate?  What is the purpose?  Everything I've read about meditation assumes that you already know how to do it. 

post #82 of 124

zoebird: My DH wants the whole sunday worship thing to be a all inclusive family thing or he won't do anything at all. We were going to alternate, until the kids decided UU is more fun, and now dh just wants us to stick with UU. I'm just really confused as I really want to be a part of the buddhist temple, but I feel I have more support/friends at the UU church, and if I go to the temple it very well may be alone.

post #83 of 124

Mittsy: can you do both?  I know you obviously want to share it with your family but maybe if you start going alone you will discover avenues to open it to your family, find things about the temple that are "fun" ??

 

EarthRootStarSoul: I love Zencasts.    http://www.wildmind.org is a good resource for meditation. 

post #84 of 124

Read Suzuki Roshi

post #85 of 124

What is meditation?

 

Typically, meditation is the stilling or calming of the mind, so that there are no thoughts floating through.

 

How do you meditate?  

 

There are thousands of methods. I find the easiest to be candle gazing. Set a timer for 3 minutes, then gaze at a candle. when you notice that you have wandered into your thoughts/daydreams, go back to looking at the candle. That's it. You're just bringing your mind back to the focal point. 

 

What is the purpose?  

 

There are multiple layers of purpose. The ultimate purpose is to live meditation all the time -- to be in the present moment, and deeply aware of that, without other thoughts, all the time. 

 

But, the earlier stages of meditation are really about training the mind to focus, observing how your mind works (your reactivity, your mental and behavioral patterns, etc).

 

Everything I've read about meditation assumes that you already know how to do it.

 

Largely because no one knows how to do it until they do it, and usually you don't realize that you are doing it when you are doing it, and of course, it takes a lot of practice to do it, and so it's really about practicing how to meditate, rather than actually meditating, until you become so practiced that practicing meditation becomes easier. Nice, right? LOL

 

Anyway, don't worry too much about how it reads when you read instructions, just try to do what you read. Beause that's the only way to learn meditation -- is by doing it. And you don't actually do it at first. The first thing is just getting focus. And that's tough. For everyone. Really.

 

I've been meditating for 20 years, and I still dont' ahve it down pat. :D

post #86 of 124

Thanks, zoebird!  smile.gif

post #87 of 124

I'm so drawn to Buddhism, but I find it very overwhelming. And I find myself alternating between the attraction of it and much that instead turns me off. Like with meditation ... I've been trying breath meditation and mindfulness meditation at home, and enjoy this very much. For my first attempt at a formal class, though, there was a lot of chanting and a laughing part that just did not work for me. I also think my Catholic upbringing has ruined me forever as far as rituals go; I just have a hard time taking seriously things that feel like the trappings of organized religion.

 

That said, I'm looking for something that feels like teaching. I'm enjoying the Buddhism for Mothers book that's been referenced here (along with a few others), but is there something other than, or in tandem with, meditation that supports the changes of heart, mind, and action one may aspire to? And is there a tradition that's more accommodating to a near-atheist who has trouble with words like disciples and followers?

 

Any comments and advice welcome. Thanks so much.

post #88 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by bananahands View Post

I'm so drawn to Buddhism, but I find it very overwhelming. And I find myself alternating between the attraction of it and much that instead turns me off. Like with meditation ... I've been trying breath meditation and mindfulness meditation at home, and enjoy this very much. For my first attempt at a formal class, though, there was a lot of chanting and a laughing part that just did not work for me. I also think my Catholic upbringing has ruined me forever as far as rituals go; I just have a hard time taking seriously things that feel like the trappings of organized religion.

 

That said, I'm looking for something that feels like teaching. I'm enjoying the Buddhism for Mothers book that's been referenced here (along with a few others), but is there something other than, or in tandem with, meditation that supports the changes of heart, mind, and action one may aspire to? And is there a tradition that's more accommodating to a near-atheist who has trouble with words like disciples and followers?

 

Any comments and advice welcome. Thanks so much.


This is something I could have written almost word for word, but instead of a Catholic upbringing, I was an evangelical Christian. I was just talking to my brother tonight about how I feel so drawn to the basic ideas of Buddhism, but keep tripping over anything that feels overtly religious. Having been without much faith and no religion for several years, I find myself yearning for a deeper spiritual connection, but wary of just about anything that would lead me there, if that makes sense. Hopefully with my reply, this will be bumped back up, and someone with more experience might have something to offer. :)

 

post #89 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by bananahands View Post

I'm so drawn to Buddhism, but I find it very overwhelming. And I find myself alternating between the attraction of it and much that instead turns me off. Like with meditation ... I've been trying breath meditation and mindfulness meditation at home, and enjoy this very much. For my first attempt at a formal class, though, there was a lot of chanting and a laughing part that just did not work for me. I also think my Catholic upbringing has ruined me forever as far as rituals go; I just have a hard time taking seriously things that feel like the trappings of organized religion.

 

That said, I'm looking for something that feels like teaching. I'm enjoying the Buddhism for Mothers book that's been referenced here (along with a few others), but is there something other than, or in tandem with, meditation that supports the changes of heart, mind, and action one may aspire to? And is there a tradition that's more accommodating to a near-atheist who has trouble with words like disciples and followers?

 

Any comments and advice welcome. Thanks so much.


You might enjoy some books written by Western teachers, but with deep training with traditions.   Buddha Is As Buddha Does by Lama Surya Das might be a good place to start.  Also, anything by Tara Brach or Jack Kornfield.  I think they all do a great job with making the traditions applicable and present for our lives today.  Who around here hasn't at times felt unworthy or struggled with the suffering of being in close relationship with others?  I came to these from a near-Atheist background and found no problems with them.

 

post #90 of 124


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bananahands View Post

I'm so drawn to Buddhism, but I find it very overwhelming. And I find myself alternating between the attraction of it and much that instead turns me off. Like with meditation ... I've been trying breath meditation and mindfulness meditation at home, and enjoy this very much. For my first attempt at a formal class, though, there was a lot of chanting and a laughing part that just did not work for me. I also think my Catholic upbringing has ruined me forever as far as rituals go; I just have a hard time taking seriously things that feel like the trappings of organized religion.

 

That said, I'm looking for something that feels like teaching. I'm enjoying the Buddhism for Mothers book that's been referenced here (along with a few others), but is there something other than, or in tandem with, meditation that supports the changes of heart, mind, and action one may aspire to? And is there a tradition that's more accommodating to a near-atheist who has trouble with words like disciples and followers?

 

Any comments and advice welcome. Thanks so much.

 

 

If you haven't checked it out, "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a secular book on mindfulness meditation. 

 

And for something more non-secular, "Miracle of Mindfulness" by Thich Nhat Hanh. 

 

Once you delve deeper, "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" by Jack Kornfield.

 

Shambhala Sun magazine (published by the Shambhala lineage, but has writings from authors of all traditions) is helpful to explore Buddhism.

 

 

post #91 of 124

There are some types of American Buddhism that are very low-ritual, and some that aren't.  Soto or Rinzai Zen...yeah, you're going to have lots of bowing and chanting.  Vipassana? Not too much. Thich Nhat Hanh? Aside from bowing and ringing a few bells, probably not so much either. In New York State, there's actually a monastery in Thich Nhat Hahn's tradition: Blue Cliff Monastery.  I'm not sure if it's anywhere near you, but I'm sure that they hold days of mindfulness, open to the public, which are very low-ritual, and yet deeply meaningful practices. Basically, you might do a little sitting meditation, a long group walking meditation, hear some kind of a brief dharma talk, eat lunch together quietly, do a Deep Relaxation guided meditation...those sorts of things. There is no requirement that you be a "Buddhist" or really any kind of an "ist."

 

I will say, though, as someone who has also practices deeply in a highly ritualized tradition (soto zen) there is a reason for all of that bowing and chanting.  The forms of practice are designed to help you remain upright, and to support and reinforce the teachings in various ways. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I have found that form and ritual can actually be very freeing.  Instead of making a thousand decisions in each moment about "what am I going to do now?" you just give yourself completely over to the form and the moment. So I just wanted to offer that as well! 

post #92 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diane B View Post

I will say, though, as someone who has also practices deeply in a highly ritualized tradition (soto zen) there is a reason for all of that bowing and chanting.  The forms of practice are designed to help you remain upright, and to support and reinforce the teachings in various ways. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I have found that form and ritual can actually be very freeing.  Instead of making a thousand decisions in each moment about "what am I going to do now?" you just give yourself completely over to the form and the moment. So I just wanted to offer that as well! 


The one truly Buddhist book I've read is "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" by Trungpa.  (Please correct me if I have the title wrong: I lent the book about 6 years ago and haven't seen it since.)  He mentioned that the rituals in Zen, in tea ceremonies, etc. bring on a sense of profound boredom that is like the "firewall" to the divine.  Westerners finding the tea ceremonies fascinating, for example, are missing the point, he said.  This ritual is rooted in the cultural norms of the area and is like preparing spaghetti would be in the West.  I mention this as an interesting perspective on ritual and meditation, not to be argumentative!  I am in total agreement that ritual serves a purpose.  Meditating without ritual, or a mantra or yantra to anchor your being until you surrender, can be a chaotic cacophony of noise.

     What am I saying??!!!  I never meditate!  The closest I ever come is my walk, which has become the place for me to do mental "yoga".  I appreciate the simplicity of the Buddhist philosophy, but I have not embraced the religion.  Neither Christianity, any form of paganism or animism or any other.  I like simplicity.  If I chant, I like "Om" or "Om Shanti".  I like hearing others chant, like monks, or drums that can catch up my spirit in a joyous, primeval dance.  Sound lifts my being so totally, my idea of the ultimate convergence of body and spirit would be a drum circle.  

     I am drawn to Buddhism, as it addresses the spiritual journey more succinctly than any other religion.  I draw in-spir-ation from its teachings and want to know more.  I want to bring a mindfulness to my daily motions, something simple, something practical.  I am lucky to be keeping up with the garden this year. There is no time to set aside for pure seated meditation.  For now, it must move with my daily activities.

     Now I have kids and my spiritual journey is here on the ground, embracing the solidity of the earth beneath my feet.  "Mommy, is this a dream, is this real?"  Yes, I have to say.  For all intents and purposes, this is real.  All the lessons I have to learn are in this body, on this earth, as my Aikido teacher once told me.  Peace.

 

post #93 of 124

Many thanks for all the lovely replies. So much to move forward with. I appreciate all the book suggestions and the thoughts about rituals. Perhaps it's time to shed some of the hangups and open my mind a little more. The meditation center in NY sounds intriguing, though sadly it's not anywhere near my neck of the woods. I have found a small place a stone's throw away; I think it's time to stop reading their schedule and just go already.

 

Looking forward to reading more on this thread.

post #94 of 124

Hello everyone!  I'm just getting started with Buddhism but i'd love to hang out with you all here! orngbiggrin.gif

post #95 of 124

I'm new to these forums, but hoping to connect with like-minded people, especially as I'm about to move from my community in WA to D.C. area (anybody already in D.C. or NOVA?)

 

I had a little knowledge of Buddhism, but really found myself connecting with the practice once I became a mother.  I'm now doing much more serious reading, and trying to maintain a regular at-home sitting practice.  I haven't yet had a chance to practice or share with others--I'm in a fairly rural area and having a 2 year old at home has limited me in when I'm available to drive off and meet with others.  I'd love to hear from others how Buddhism guides their parenting, and how parenting has informed their practice of Buddhism.

 

Here are a few ways motherhood has connected me to Buddhist practice:

 

I'm forced to stay in the present moment--children are great at reminding us to be here, now....or NOW, MOM!!!!!!

Compassion and loving kindness flow more easily, now that I can imagine all people as children, being loved by their mothers the way I feel love towards my child.

I've learned to better let go of expectations, desires, wants and am better at accepting what is.

I had trouble when I first left my career to be a SAHM, and learned first hand that grasping onto that identity caused suffering.  I've also been helped in this by contemplating no-self and inter-connectedness.

I love being brought into beginner's mind by my child.  As she sees and experiences things for the first time, I can too.

Meditation helps me cultivate patience (oh, how I need more patience!)

 

Hope to have more conversations here!

 

post #96 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stay-at-om-mom View Post

Here are a few ways motherhood has connected me to Buddhist practice:

 

I'm forced to stay in the present moment--children are great at reminding us to be here, now....or NOW, MOM!!!!!!

Compassion and loving kindness flow more easily, now that I can imagine all people as children, being loved by their mothers the way I feel love towards my child.

I've learned to better let go of expectations, desires, wants and am better at accepting what is.

I had trouble when I first left my career to be a SAHM, and learned first hand that grasping onto that identity caused suffering.  I've also been helped in this by contemplating no-self and inter-connectedness.

I love being brought into beginner's mind by my child.  As she sees and experiences things for the first time, I can too.

Meditation helps me cultivate patience (oh, how I need more patience!)

 

Hope to have more conversations here!

 



I totally dig this and can relate - especially with #4!  love love love.  i've also found that I have to make time to meditate in interesting moments - doing dishes, chopping veggies, i'm mindful in different ways now.  

post #97 of 124

I'm in the DC area--welcome!  If you are looking for group stuff, check out the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.  Their weekly flagship meeting is in MD, but really close to NOVA.  Feel free to message me if you have questions about the area.

post #98 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by vydalea View Post





I totally dig this and can relate - especially with #4!  love love love.  i've also found that I have to make time to meditate in interesting moments - doing dishes, chopping veggies, i'm mindful in different ways now.  


What you're talking about it something I've been wanting to put into practice (somehow I always seem to get swept up in what I'm doing and forget, so I have yet to "wash my bowl, like I'm washing the baby Buddha")  I did find a mindfulness bell online that you can set on your computer to go off every 15-30 minutes.  At least when I do that, and hear the bell, I can stop myself for a few breaths and bring myself back to the here and now.  Thanks for the working meditation reminder. :)

 

post #99 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by puffingirl View Post

I'm in the DC area--welcome!  If you are looking for group stuff, check out the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.  Their weekly flagship meeting is in MD, but really close to NOVA.  Feel free to message me if you have questions about the area.



Wonderful to meet you!  I was checking out websites and have bookmarked the Insight Meditation Community. I though I saw some small groups that meet in VA, and I'm hoping I can connect with one of those.  Thank you!  I have lots of questions about the area, so you'll be hearing from me. :)

post #100 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by enjoythesilence View Post

Thanks for the welcome!  :)  I have another question, for anyone who has an opinion. Is Buddhism a philosophy or a religion? I have read many conflicting answers to this question online. To me, it seems to be both, but I was just reading a website which was saying that to see Buddhism as a religion is a corruption of the original teachings. I'm confused.


 

Hi! It's great to see this thread. Buddhist father here. DW and I are long time Buddhist practitioners (I emphasize and love the word "practitioner," because it really is a constant practice) in the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition.

 

I know this is an older post, and don't know if OP on above quote got the question resolved, but I would like to add that as an undergraduate Religious Studies major, this question was one of my final exam essay questions (I think it actually was, "Is Buddhism a religion, a philosophy, or a science of the mind?") in a course called "Religion, Science and the Problem of Consciousness."  I argued it was "All Three" and I of course had to back my answer up with evidence from the course readings and lectures. I got a good grade on the essay as I remember.

 

 

The instructor for that course, B. Alan Wallace, is an incredible Buddhist scholar and teacher in his own right, and I would highly recommend to ALL posters here that they check out his written work or attend a lecture, workshop or retreat with him in the future.  www.sbinstitute.com is his website, where he has itinerary and podcasts giving talks on meditation (a great source for other posters wondering "how to meditate" and "what meditation is"). He also gave a lecture at UCSB, where he used to teach entitled, "Buddhism: Atheistic, Monotheistic, Polytheistic, or All of the Above?"  It is a very helpful explanation, that is thoroughly supported by primary Buddhist sources from various traditions, that delves into the responses other posters gave here and how theism is AND is not tied to Buddhism or religion vs. philosophy. You might be able to google B. Alan and the lecture title and find the lecture online.

 

Sorry for the long reply  =)

 

Aaron

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