Willow Monastic Academy Forum

Community Practice Discussion

What’s your practice like? We all want to deepen ours collectively, so let’s join together to chat about it!

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Hahaha, my practices seems to have been – for the last several months, at least – preparation for practice.

I’ve learned that a comfortable, sustained posture and calm+energetic breathing are the BASE of meditation, and that meditation really begins after those things have been established.

It’s taken me 3 months to establish that. And still, I fall in and out of good posture and quality breathing.

So my practice now is to establish this base (easier said that done), and then move beyond into the other 10 points of the Soryu Forall method. I’ve done that this week, and what I’ve discovered is that working with the ‘5 hindrances’ and moving into the ‘5 great rousings’ has helped me sustain that base for longer periods of time.

For a long time my mind was caught up in posture and ‘trying’ to breath correctly, now I’m seeing that they can be automatic, moved beyond, and the ‘mind’ and start to transcend the body… I think?! :crazy_face: See, still thinking. Clearly not there yet :grin:

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Hi Yuli… the past two years have been the most full of my whole life. Starting a business aimed at supporting the mindful tech ecosystem while also becoming a father.

I managed to keep consistent practice intact, though this is the longest I’ve gone without an intensive retreat in almost a decade.

With such a full life, my practice has veered heavily to dropping all effort, somewhere in the Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Shikantaza, ‘Do Nothing’ camp. It’s been a lifeline <3

Looking forward to COVID cases settling down and finding some childcare so I can come to willow for a full week one of these months. In the meantime, glad y’all are starting online programming soon!

Much love, be well!
Jay.

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Hi Jay! Nice to hear from you =D

Sounds like a lifeline indeed. Out of curiousity - is there a kind of practice that continues for you off the cushion? Clearly it can’t be a do nothing technique, but I’m personally curious to see if, for you, the do nothing extends into the way you experience everything else.

Hello extended family! I just finished a 7 day silent retreat. During this time, I went from flitting around with whatever I like for a few hours at a time, to practicing mostly one series of techniques intensely for 7 days.

On a few occasions, I decided “f*** everything, I’m going to do this ALL the way - I’m going it give this EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW”. I want to share some results:

(1) The result of one day like this was the sustained rapture of being lost (detachment from conceptual experience) in the sea of rising energy against a backdrop of something like “all is trust”, using the Forall method.
(2) A different day’s result was an intense experience of losing the regular conceptual awareness of boundaries of objects and other things in my visual experience. For one part of this, I stared at Seishin during an interview. It felt to me like I had no idea who this life form was or how, but it didn’t matter - it was simply, purely, deeply, and completely, beautiful and right.
(3) On another day - I built up energy in the stomach for ~40 minutes until, in a half conscious state, I lost control of the flow of the energy and my entire body painfully seized up, taking me out of the intense nonconceptual focus space rhythm. (This experience now directs me to learn deeper and better integration of “calm breath”).

Many other things happened - I laughed and I cried and I discovered and forgot and was and was not and mistakes were made and the unmistakable arose and passed away. The reason I am sharing these particular experiences though, is that - although I did not myself do this - I now believe Soryu when he says “you can awaken TODAY”. Not in the imaginary space of tomorrow if only X and Y and Z happen. TODAY. I share (1) and (2) to suggest that I crossed the boundaries of my expectations radically faster than I thought was possible - and I can already be very ambitious. My thinking about what is possible with this practice is no longer the same. I share (3) because I suspect that it is my desire for awakening which can hinder the process (ex: greed or grief for the world, attachment to identity in the future, or just a kind of nervous seeking to please some part of self). It is only fair to note that as you find your full living, you may or may not discover recklessness like I did - keep an eye out.

This is where I’m at now. The prevailing sentiment is “Holy shit. I can do a Lot. I’m going to do it right.”

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Hey! Good question - yes, ‘informal’ practice is a huge part of my everyday life. Do nothing certainly helps me find a sense of ease with things, and I feel that impact in daily life. More often I find myself engaging in sense-based practices in daily life… fully connecting with a visual scene, or a soundscape, or a piece of music, or a body sensation (i.e. in the shower), etc. Those are my ‘microhits’ as Shinzen refers to them. Also, I tend to engage in cultivation practices related to kindness and compassion in certain situations, like in a conversation with a stranger. This stuff used to take a lot of effort, but now they seem to arise organically in daily life, so I rarely put any effort into them. I think the ‘do nothing’ over past 2 years has really helped me get out of my own way and let mindfulness happen.

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Thanks for the retreat notes, fun to read. I find expectations are always inaccurate, so I’m glad to hear you “crossed the boundaries”, though I wonder if there are any boundaries to cross? The expectations only exist in our minds! Don’t know if that makes sense, but it is my experience.

Let me say it differently, you say your thinking about what is possible is not the same anymore. What’s the before/after here? What were your prior expectations of what is possible? What are they now?

Wow. Even more than the practices that you’re describing off the cushion, I love the fact that the on- and off-cushion practices support each other. This feels beautiful.

I’m curious, do you have a practice(s) that helps you be mindful about work while on the computer? I’m experimenting with this right now! Being with my senses, cultivating kindness, and allowing a moving serenity in the moments of silence between my action/focus to cross into the actions/focus itself feels very engaging. I want to create space for increased exploration of this question at Willow and outward.

I’ve been meditating for ~ 10 years. These days the primary focus of my practice has shifted from formal sits (although I still do these a few times a week) and towards more of an “applied mindfulness” stance to my everyday interactions. Recently the focus of attention that I’ve found to offer the most leverage has been the question “how can I be with reality more fully?” and “how can I allow my experience, whatever it is, to deepen into this moment?”

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Right! I communicated badly there. It’s more accurate to say “my skills have changed”. Or, in terms of what I wrote, "My thinking (as a process, not a set of concepts) about what is possible (for me - meaning, what I feel I can achieve, meaning what I can sense I can achieve, meaning, my memories and skills related to phenomena which it’s useful [strictly for communication purposes] to label as a similar experience [a “state”] to the experience we are communicating about) with this practice has changed (has changed in a way I want someone to read about).

To answer your question directly, my world-body-mind-interaction-landscape flows more naturally towards non-conceptual concentration when near certain states. For another example, it’s easier now to access a memory of my thinking as vigorous and sharp in general anytime I become aware of the now, but with especially more vigor when exposed to some associational trigger like for example if I say “I’m going to give this everything right now”. The general tendency is to flow more towards self confidence and a burning will to practice.

About updating specific concepts - I just hadn’t thought about the Forall method (nor awakening) before! I only read about it in “MAPLE Seeds” during the silent retreat and then immediately tried it and discovered my actions rapidly moved me towards states I hadn’t known about.

I shared the same story at Willow just after retreat and two residents said they appreciated my share and felt inspired, so I thought maybe some curious souls reading this forum might appreciate it too. =P

Ooooh - I’m in love with these questions, especially the second one. I’ve been asking something similar recently as I try to bring my recent more intense sitting experiences to the rest of my activities. I’m telling a story that these questions, or the self that pursues them, are why you have such a calming and connecting presence when we actually hang out.

Also - would you mind giving your thoughts on the computer question too? How does your practice parlay to doing online work / social media use?