Meditation has a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. My interest in it as a religious/spiritual activity due to an intense fear of dying (assuming the possibility of the permanent extinction of consciousness), and a belief that the practice of zazen can lead to a direct experience ('enlightenment'/satori) which would overcome that fear of death. There is an element of faith in all of that, although Buddhist literature is full of inspirational descriptions of enlightenment experiences (starting with that of the Buddha's), providing a basis for that faith.
I believe that meditation is the most important activity we can undertake. The following quotes are my touchstones for that belief:
"To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe."
Those who try zazen even once
Wipe away beginning-less crimes.
Where are all the dark paths then?
The Pure Land itself is near."
Hakuin Zenji's Song of Zazen
Aside from two periods of 7 days participating in a sesshin retreat, my belief in the importance of zazen has not been matched by my commitment and the amount of time I've spent doing it. I've spent countless hours playing video games (addictive and fun but how worthwhile is time spent shooting electronic enemies), watching tv shows, online shopping, and reading news, football or tech websites. Tynan quite rightly calls it 'bullshit' and while I don't hope to eliminate it entirely, I'll only indulge in recreational activities if I'm on track for 21 hours of meditation per week.
Hello, and thanks for choosing SETT! The entire staff (all two of us) are now hitting refresh compulsively to see what amazing things you'll write here.
To get you started on that...
This is a sample post, just to show you how things will look. It won't self destruct on its own, so go ahead and delete it when you're done with it.
To make your own (much better) post, click the "Create New Post" button on the main screen of your blog. If you can't see it now, just click Front Page on the SETT bar at the top.
Fear, procrastination, fear. I'm not sure at what point I've realized how much that pattern has permeated my life until this year. Maybe because before I didn't know how to name it, and now I can.
Mindfulness has greatly helped, and so has the un-procrastination month at Sea Change. When I went through that challenge I started writing down the reasons/beliefs/fears that were stopping me from getting on with some MITs. It really helped me see the bigger picture. And by bigger I mean the picture that was hiding underneath, ever present but oh so quiet.
Sometimes the fear had no apparent link to the MIT at hand, but was something global, attached to my present circumstances. And so doing some work in the computer may have been stalled by worries about money, or my relationship.
Since creating this blog and knowing I had to write about how fear affects my procrastinating over things I started noticing many examples. Too many :) And just today, thanks to the Self-Compassion Month, I started thinking that I'm ok giving myself time to figure things out, to not expect immediate action every time I want to do something or create a result. I can put my mind to something and accomplish it in small steps, letting go of previous ideas of what productivity means (...and breathe). The 'lighter' I manage to make a task seem, the more fun it becomes. Making it smaller is working wonders so far. That's the best way I've found to beat the fear, catching it before it has time to settle and become overpowering. I've been focusing on that for a few days now, and I'm looking forward to getting more into the process.
Thanks Leo for all your great advice and for the great Challenges you've set this year so far!