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  1. Steps 10 & 11: a Zen Christian’s journey in love, paradox and union.. Hello peeps! There are few things more clichéed than someone making great vows to improve their habits in the new year…. so here I go with a new journal… I’ve been sober in recovery for some years now, and I’m guessing some folks here will already know that the 12 Steps are essentially a spiritual program. I’m gonna use this space to keep track of my actions and progress on Stepds 10 and 11: 10 Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Over the years I’ve made forays into many different spiritual paths, but these last few years I seem to have found the path that works for me in a combination of Soto Zen and Christian meditation… I’m much taken with the work and ideas of teachers like Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr.. So over the course of 2020 I’m aiming to update here each day on my practice and experience, both in meditation and ‘off the cushion’. The measure of a spiritual life is not in what happens ‘on the cushion’ but what happens away from it. After all, if I’m not growing in love and connectedness, both with my fellows and the world, what’s the point of my practice? If there’s one thing I’m pretty certain on about spiritual growth, it’s that paradox is a fundamental aspect of life, of reality and of the spiritual journey. I really see this in the contradiction between deliberate effort and self-dicipline, on one hand, and surrender, on the other. Real transformation isn’t something I can bring about in myself by force of will and rigorous self-dicipline, but by the same token effort and ‘doing the work’ is necessary. Similarly, surrender and self-emptying aren’t things I can ‘achieve’ so much as they are things that happen to me, or envelop me, gradually if I I’m in the right state of openness, readiness and consciousness… ... bla blah blah,.. me me me …. anyhoo… thanks for reading… I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you, and sharing in yours, in the months ahead… I expect I have a lot to learn from you all, and I hope I can contribute a little bit as you all find you way along your respective journeys too.. Love, Lucas
  2. Hi there @Iiris I love your journal! Opening up to others and being so honest and vulnerable takes courage, and it helps others when you really talk truthfully about your struggles... I had really deibilitating shame and social anxiety when I was younger (I'm 44 now), but with a lot of effort and persistence real transformation happened... I'm not some fearless James Bond figure, but these days I do things that would once have been impossible for me and they don't even phase me... TV interviews and making speeches and such... you've got this! Keep it up and you'll get the results you want.... I also love that you shared that Matthew Silver video... I used to live in New York and would regularly see him doing his funky thing in Union Square... that guy rocks! Hugs, Lucas
  3. @Soulbass Hey there!. Four days is great... well done! I've been doing intermittent fasting for health for a few years now, but I've never done more than 48 hours in a single fast... you may have inspired me to push it a bit further! Hugs, Lucas
  4. Hi there @Karla ! Loved what you said in your video about recognising others as yourself, and incorporating that oneness into how we perceive others... it reminded me of one time I went for lunch with a bunch of friends from my Zen sangha... I got a phonecall and stepped out for about 10 minutes, and when I got back one of my friends was eating my meal... I was like 'hey, you're eating all my food' and without flinching she just answered 'Luke, I am you, and you are me, so I'm just helping us eat our food'... Hugs, Lucas
  5. Hi there @Charlotte ... I'm loving your journal... your honesty about how your mind can go from 'fuck everything' to serenity and wisdom is beautifully honest and human... and it sounds an awful lot like the carnival that often inhabits my tiny brain (which makes me feel better!) Keep up the good work! Hugs, Lucas
  6. Howdy peeps, This evening, I'm sitting in, home alone, and staying with the stillness and the quiet. Since I joined this forum very recently, I've realised just how difficult I find it to be still when not meditating. I've been practicing Zazen and self-inquiry for a few years, and I'm reasonably well-practiced in getting on that cushion and sinking down into the stillness inside of myself, but practicing mindfulness during the rest of my day has been something I've never really bothered with... until now... I've decided to follow the good example of some others here by posting a weekly review of how I've done on my daily targets... So here's goes the rundown for week one: As you can see, there's plenty of room for improvement!
  7. I reckon it's good advice from Flowboy... I used to be terrified of women too, and I likewise put them on a pedestal... I managed to overcome all that through a phase of PUA fixation... I'm a bit older now, and have sort of grown past all that, but it was a crucial phase of my growth... real change can happen in this area of your life, but making a friend of that fear, and learning to channel it into action, will be more effective than trying to get rid of the fear... the fear will go away when you expose yourself to it enough... Good luck on your mission! Lucas
  8. Thanks @Dumivid and @Markus both! I appreciate your thoughts and responses... I've decided to start tracking TV consumption, and set a target to limit it to 5 hours per week... I'll see how I go with that - if I can cut TV out in the evenings I should be able to hit that target... I dont want to be completely anti-social and refuse to watch a film with loved-ones now ands again, though I think that in time I may want to set the target even lower... I hope you're both keeping well.. it's great to find others on the forum have been working on similar issues Lucas
  9. Hi there Marinus, Thanks for the response. Yup, I'm gonna start tracking my TV consumption and rein it in to educational material. In time I reckon I may want to cut it out altogether... Keep up the good work - I'm enjoying your posts Lucas
  10. Hi there @flowboy Thanks for the response. What you say really resonates with me, especially seeing through artificial storylines that distract from real life. i'm a work in progress, but I feel focused on this now... it's time for change! Hope all's well with you today Lucas
  11. Hi there @flowboy I'm also working on quitting TV... it's turning out to be harder than I anticipated.... how's it going for you? Lucas
  12. Do it! I did a degree and a masters in my 30s and loved it! The beauty of being a bit older is that you actually enjoy and appreciate learning!
  13. hi there @Marinus I was checking out your journal and saw you've been working on cutting out mindless TV/movies/series? I've just started trying to incorporate the same goal into my life, and I'm amazed how difficult I've found it... I guess you don't realie you have an addiction until you try top stop! How has it been going for you? Hugs, Lucas
  14. howdy peeps, lately I've been trying to cut back my consumption of Netflix/TV and spend more time being present and mindful in the evenings. It's really opened my eyes to how difficult I find it to be present when not actually meditating... There's a discomfort inside of me... a kind of low-grade depression that wants me to be constantly either doing something or zoning out with entertaintment... I know that path of self-enquiry requires me to spend more time in the present and actually 'ebving with myself'... Has anyone else experienced this? What have you learned? Lucas
  15. Howdy peeps, i haven't posted in a few days. I've been doing pretty good on my dailies, but one thing that's become very clear to me is just how difficult I find it to jsut be still and do nothing. I meditate daily, but even the act of meditating is a kind of 'doing' because I deliberately sit down and take a specific period of time to focus on my breath and mindfulness. Over the course of my life I've struggled with, and overcome, several additions - booze, drugs, food... and I know they were all tools I used to self-medicate the pain inside me. Over the past couple of weeks I've been trying to limit my consumption of Netflix and TV, and I'm amazed at how difficult I have found it. My usual habit of zoning out in front of some crappy show for an hour or two each evening is proving hard to break! Why? Because it's my 'last addiction' and without it I am obliged to sit with the discomfort inside myself each evening... but then, that's the point. I have been revisiting Eckhard Tolle's writing, and I find his language on the 'pain body' really helpful... that's exactly what it is... Having practices Zen meditation for some years now, I am also reminded of the basic Buiddhist principle of accepting the reality of suffering... I re-read an old book by the Zen priest Norman Fischer, and came across this: I need to learn to sit with my pain, rather than trying to avoid it... simple, but difficult... Hugs, Lucas