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Posts posted by ZenDancer

  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..




  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!



  3. 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'... ;)



  4. 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!


  5. On 14/03/2019 at 2:11 PM, flowboy said:

    Yes :)

    Oh and don't expect the fear to go away, rather learn to enjoy it as a little adrenaline burst to kick you into gear when it matters.

    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!


  6. 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 ;)


  7. 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?




  8. 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?



  9. 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: 


    In difficult times, the key thing is to turn toward the suffering instead of trying to figure out how to get rid of it or paper it over with all kinds of positive things. We need to learn how to turn toward suffering, really take it in, find the meaning in it, and let it open a path for us to a new life. There’s nothing more beneficial than being able to be present with the breath and with the body to what’s happening when we are suffering, without flailing all around in resistance. 


    I need to learn to sit with my pain, rather than trying to avoid it... simple, but difficult...



  10. Love your journal Thittato! I've been very sporadic and inconsistent in my meditation practice lately, and I need to get back to being regular with it... in the past, when I've had a really solid practice, it became clear to me that the value comes not in meditating 'well' or following one form of meditation or another, but in just damn doing it every day... consistency is the key... keep on keeping on, as you say... I mostly meditate Zazen, though I have to admit the Therevadan philosophical teachings are more appealing to me than the often-abstract Zen mindset... I was delighted to see a photo of Ajahn Chah in your journal! keep it up... i'm glad this forum lets me share in your journey...


  11. hello gentle readers,

    I am officially exhausted... I went for a run this morning, and did my usual 10K, but I probably pushed myself a little too hard as I've been feeling exhausted all day. I'm going to hit the hay early, and give myself a pass for not meditating today... my body just needs some sleep... it was a mixed bag on my daily goals, but I'm feeling good and positive.

    1. Exercise - done
    2. Meditation - nope
    3. No sugar - done... feels good to have a sugar free day. I'm a sugar fiend, but I'm 44 now and my body can't be doing with processing that crap anymore
    4. Intermittent fasting (20 hours fast followed by 4 hour eating window) - done
    5. Limiting TV time - blew it... zoned out in front of Netflix for two hours this afternoon
    6. Metta count - none today
    7. Photography - done - got some nice shots of protester in Paris.

    I'm looking forward to meeting up with some mates tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a few line from my old mate Timothy Leary:

    Escape the Trap of Beauty and Goodness

    As you return,
    Choose beauty, so you define ugly
    Select good, so you create evil
    As you choose your joy, so you design your sorrow

    The coin you are now imprinting has two sides
    Better to return into the flow of the Tao

    For indeed,
    The opposites exist for you alone
    Beyond your heads and tails
    Dances the unity

    All wounds harmonise
    All games end in a tie

    Your God stands on the pitcher's mound
    ... nods to his catcher
    ... winds up annd throws
    ... a shoulder high fast ball
    Right into your devil's glove

  12. Hello fellow travellers,

    Well, today was not by best ever... missed several of my daily targets... I woke up feeling 'meh' and succumbed to old patterns... no point in wwallowing in it though, I just need to get up early and do better tomorrow...

    Today's checklist:

    1. Exercise - done
    2. Meditation - done
    3. Quitting sugar - blew it
    4. Intermittent fasting (20 hours fast followed by 4 hour eating window) - done
    5. Limiting TV time - blew it... zoned out in front of TV tonight
    6. Metta count - 155 (Total so far 275)

    Another thing I want to start making a daily habit is photography. I work in video production, but I've neglected this area of my creative life for far too long... so I need to discipline myself to carry my camera with me at all times... starting tomorrow!



  13. Hello peeps,

    I’ve been getting back into my daily metta practice today - basically wishing love, joy and happiness to everyone I see as I go about my day. In the past I’ve found it can be really powerful and transformative because it both keeps me in the present moment and brings me to a place of love and compassion for my surroundings. I carry around a little tally counter and, as I’m walking from place to place wish good things for those I see. I find using a tally counter as I do it helps me keep it going and maintain. Today I wished love, joy and happiness to 120 different people. I’m going to see how long it takes me to get to 1,000, and then take it forward from there.

    Today’s metta count: 120

    The other daily targets I want to work on through this journal are:

    1. Limiting TV time
    2. Exercise
    3. Meditation
    4. Quitting sugar
    5. Intermittent fasting (20 hours fast followed by 4 hour eating window)



  14. Hi there flowboy,

    i've just signed up to the forum, and was reading through your journal. I wanted to say well done on your hard work and perseverance. I'm a few years older than you, and I know that it can be difficult sometimes... there's only so far sheer will can take us, and sometimes we have to wait for our efforts to be aided by a bit of grace before we see big changes... that's not so say self-discipline and effort aren't important - they're fundamental. I'm really impressed with how you pushing yourself to be better... it will pay off! keep up the good work brother!



  15. Hi there fellow travelllers!

    I've just signed up to the forum, having been listening to Leo's podcasts for some time now. Reading through some of the other journals I'm taking a lot of inspiration and positivity from the commitment you guys are showing in your self-development. I've been practicing Zazen for some years now, and I'm also very influenced by Advaita figures like Ramana Maharshi and Jiddu Krisnamurti. What these schools of spirituality all have in common, for me at least, is a very simple, no-nonsense, dogma-free approach to spirituality and God, devoid of magical thinking or overreliance on ritual. Much like Leo in many ways. While I find this kind of pragmatic, open spirituality fundamental, I've also found there is an important place for devotional practice in my life, because it's a way to proactively and consciously practice love... to sort of operationalise love as a practice in daily life. To love god is to love everyone and everything, and loving everyone and everything makes life feel pretty damnn good! As Timothy Leary once wrote 'Do no good, but for God's sake feel good, and nature's order will prevail'.

    I'm starting a journal to keep myself accountable, as there are several areas I want to work on in my own life and personal development. The two practices I'll be focusing on from the get-go are:

    Metta practice: proactively practive loving all those I enounter each day. This is generally as simple as silently wishing them joy and fulfilment as I encounter them

    Limit my use of screens/technology: I've found that cutting down the amount of time I spend with netflix or the TV is fundamental. I haven't quit it completely (yet), but binge watching TV is the opposite of midful presence, and I've found that making time for quiet and contemplation in the evenings, when the 'day's work is done', is crucial.

    I look forward to sharing my journey with you all!