Z60: 2 months of daily meditation practice
February 27 - april 24.
Zoom calls every Tuesday
6:00 - 7:00 pm (MT)
Week 8: 4/17 - 4/24
Here is the Zoom call from this week. Guided practice is below it.
Please note there are 2-4 minute pockets of silence throughout this, and it ends in silence not a bell, so set your timer when you play this recording, and follow the practice into silence.
WEEK 7: 4/10 - 4/17
Here is the Zoom call from this week. No guided practice this week.
WEEK 6: 4/3 - 4/10
Another week has gone by. Less teaching this time, more practice. Beautiful check-ins and beautiful experiences.
WEEK 6 ZOOM CALL
GUIDED MEDITATION 3
Week 5: 3/27 - 4/3
Develop capacity to be with….
This week, we’ll develop capacity to be with the heart. But not just any heart. Junpo calls enlightenment “clear deep heart/mind”
We think we want to be loved. And our egos do. Love me. Need me. Cherish me. Take care of me. Love, for the ego, is transactional.
There is no realization without the heart. Junpo Roshi judges the quality and depth of others’ awakening through the depth of their compassion -- story of him with the Dali Lama.
We have to know our own heart. We have to be willing to be with it. It is only through the heart we can know how awake we actually are, what our basic intelligence is, and ... just how deeply our neurosis goes and how it obscures this truth.
Map and territory: Map first.
Heart…. Our personal stories. "Heart break." We think the heart is so tender, so vulnerable -- that it is the only organ that can be broken! “She broke my heart.”
And we believe it. Our experiences of the heart are ones of vulnerability and tenderness. But that's actually just our dualistic, ego view. The heart is vast and deep, and utterly, completely unbreakable.
Can you look without an opinion?
Can you listen without an opinion?
Can you feel without an opinion? Just feel?
What information is in the feeling?
Guided Practice Audio Only
If you weren't on the call, please listen to the Zoom call first to get context.
Week 5 Zoom Call
Week 4: 3/20 - 3/27
Developing the capacity to be with: a nuanced and practice view.
Tonight, the practice should begin to become easier. I have intentionally not given you many tools to use; now I'll provide some and also explain why I have structured it this way.
CONTEXT FOR THE NEXT WEEK'S PRACTICE:
With these tools we can better open up the potential for transforming our relative egos -- by being with what is, inside of our experience as it exists.
We are impermanent. We are fragile. We are not solid things at all. Our egos will likely vanish (or certainly transform) at death. So pain reminds us of this, and we run into our addictions -- work, porn, booze, relationships, entertainment, group support…
Anytime pain arises we go to our patterns, our addictions, which might be wallowing in a story or running from it as fast as we can.
What is in our experience we don’t want to feel, see, or embrace? Good bet that they’re not pleasant; things that are threatening to our egos, to our sense of self.
Guess what comes up when we sit down to practice? Just this.
Addictions are a way of controlling experience. And addictions come in many forms and shapes, from addicted to therapy to addicted to drugs to addiction to our story (although the impact of these addictions on ourselves and others can be very, very different).
Reggie Ray and the death of his father, with Trungpa Rinpoche: “I don’t see a problem.”
⇒ This is life. This is reality. It doesn’t go by our plans. There are no problems, anywhere. There is pain. But egos and stories turn pain into problems.
WHAT ARE WE REALLY DOING?
In our sitting practice, we are learning to control our impulses. We control an impulse by creating space around it, not indulging it.
GUIDED PRACTICE AUDIO ONLY
GUIDED PRACTICE OVERVIEW
9 Breathes into Lower Belly.
Hold awareness in the hollow of the belly; notice what’s there, or not there.
Scan physical body.
Note tension, let it go.
Feel places where supported by the cushion. We tend to focus on what feels bad or off; what feel right? Maybe your toes, or your ears.
Feel crown of head, and a line connecting through the central core of the body to the tan tien.
Focus on bottom vertebrae. Now move up the spine, one vertebrae
Lift your chest by a millimeter.
Take your chin in by the same.
Open the back of the neck.
Soften jaw, and let tongue float free inside of the mouth.
Soften the back of the eyes; notice the quality of the darkness behind the eyes themselves
Come to the physical heart. Feel it beating in your chest.
Look at it with your mind’s eye. What do you see?
Notice the space behind the heart. Can you open it, soften it?
WEEK 4 ZOOM CALL
Week 3: 3/13 - 3/20
Overview of this week's call:
Almost everyone in the group has had some emotions arise -- this is addressed in great detail in the SECOND half of the Zoom call (for Jamie, Jason, Nell Eke, and the phone-died Joshua). Starts at 31.oo
You must develop a strong and healthy ego to function in this world. Liberation comes when we see through the delusion of an ego as a permanent, separate self.
Jun Po’s 2 realizations:
JUNPO'S FIRST INSIGHT
First one was in the monastery. There, he realized that the ego was a fully conditioned process, not a self. Biology, culture, psychology all influence the illusion of free will. There is no permanent self -- permanence of the self is the greatest illusion and the cause most human suffering. This is the core of Zen.
How this relates to our practice is explained in the video: when we deconstruct the ego through meditation, we can re-inform it and reconstruct it includes the realization of its essential empty nature. Because our ego is a wholly-conditioned process and not a separate self, it can and must be reconditioned to become liberated.
Spiritual bypassing is, truthfully, something we want to learn how to do! As long as we do it in the way I describe in the video.
Stimuli => trigger point => emotion => conditioned reaction => old stories lived again in relationships, life, etc.
Stimuli => trigger point => emotion => drop into stillness => no action => no old stories impacting relationship, life, etc.
If everyone did this and this alone, the world would be a much better place! We should all try this on our cushions. But we can't just stop here. We want to FEEL what happens on the cushion, and feel it COMPLETELY, but without getting sucked out of Awareness and into our shit story.
JUNPO'S SECOND INSIGHT
Junpo's second realization happened after 4 or 5 hours of meditation. There, he realized that while it was true the ego was a wholly conditioned process, it was also true that we had choice points. We could choose where before there were either habitual reactions, or places to "go still" and in essence wait for the trigger to pass.
With practice, and with Awareness, we can see the trigger arise. In traditional Zen, we simply remain unreactive until it passes or let it push us into Awakening (the "bypass"). With Mondo (and Integral) Zen, we look into the trigger itself.
Stimuli => trigger point => emotion => drop into stillness =>look for a deeper truth => choose compassionate reaction
Now, we can do three things.
1. See our triggers arise (understanding the causes of the trigger itself is the work of attachment and trauma therapies)
2. Feel the truth under the feeling (anger = sadness and care. Shame = internalized anger at others that points inward towards ourselves. Anxiety = excitement and opportunity, etc.)
3. Choose the appropriate response. My example with Patrick was that if I was angry at him, I would say, using my new insight, "I feel a great deal of sadness and a lot of care about this, and I'm really angry with you." The care and the sadness lead my expression, because they arise before my anger. They cause my anger, therefore they're truer (and more vulnerable).
ZOOM CALL WEEK 3
WEEK 2: 3/6 - 3/12
Story of Junpo and the "Mu" koan, where Eido Roshi clenched his fist, and then blew on it.
Question for you to sit with: Is there such a thing as pure listening?
EGO AND OUR PATH
Ego = world of opposites: light and Dark, Love and Fear, Happy and Sad, Content or Ill-Content, Single or Partnered...
What do we do with our egos?
What do we do with busy thoughts?
What do we do with hard emotions?
What do we do with "seeking" mind?
Getting rid of the ego = psychosis. We may come to a place in our practice where we get in touch with a Silence That Has Never Spoken, and yet it is the ego's job to speak!
An ego does three things: "I want more. I want less. I don't care." This will never change, nor should it. Let the ego do its job.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO OUR PRACTICE?
We let our egos be, well, egoic. "Me me me me me me you me me me me me me..."
But as we quiet our minds, we might accidentally discover our hearts. The discipline we develop, and the mindfulness, allow us to identify more and more with Awareness, instead of just Attention (remember this from week 1). And Awareness informs the ego. It can transform it, too, to a point. But it doesn't change it. Awareness gives the ego more space to have reactions (instead of being the reaction) and to see itself. We then use Awareness to see emotions and thoughts as information, and as stories, not destinies. (Junpo used to say if you don't like your life story, fire the scriptwriter.)
We'll get more into this next week.
TO CONSIDER FOR THIS COMING WEEK
The ego continually references itself – me, me, me, me, you, me, me, me -- with an ongoing stream of thoughts, feeling and emotions. When we stop this self-referencing, as we are training ourselves to do, we might “die upon our cushion” and discover the truth of Emptiness (Shunyata).
Can we be reborn without dying first? If we are truly WILLING to allow for this possibility, that our deep mind is purely aware, never turns away, never reacts, and was before us and will be after us -- and if we admit it's possible that this Awareness never reacts, and that our strongest emotions are really just information, then we have taken a huge step towards liberation.
"Enlightenment" is simply awakening to the pure consciousness within us that is deeper than our thoughts, emotions or feelings. It's not a state, not an experience, not a belief, not a feeling, not blissful or still or anything whatsoever.
More on that to come!
ZOOM CALL WEEK 2
WEEK 1: 2/27 - 3/5
Summary of Discussion Points:
MEDITATION SET UP
- Set a timer. I recommend the app Insight Timer.
- Put phone on AIRPLANE mode.
- Find quiet space.
- Knees lower than hips
- Straight back
- Lift from crown of head
- Support knees with small supports if not on the ground (rolled up socks, pillows)
- Should be comfortable
- Eyes open, ears open, heart open. We face what arises around us through our 5 senses, and the “senses” of our thinking and our feeling.
FIRST 5 MINUTES
- Lift chest, open heart
- Open the spine from sacrum to the root of the skull
- Tongue behind eye teeth
- Breath. Notice the breath falling into the belly. Imagine a few breaths coming down into the sacrum, all the way at the root of the belly.
- Notice body, emotions, mind:
- What is the state of the gross body? (includes energy levels)
- What is the state of the emotional body?
- What is the state of the mental body?
- Settle into your sit. Notice what happens to the three bodies (gross, subtle, mental) when stressors arise (and itch, a knee that starts to ache, a numb foot, a running nose).
- Do not move.
FROM 35 MINUTES TO END-OF-SIT BELL
- Turn timer over so you can't see it.
- Do not move. Not to scratch an itch, not to adjust, barring extreme discomfort.
- If you MUST move, do so quickly and efficiently, and resume your posture as quickly. Do not turn away from the discomfort! Do not wallow in it. Face it and let it go.
HOW TO MEDITATE, ZEN STYLE
- Attention and Awareness
- Emptiness and Fullness
- Bringing mind back to breath, back to senses
- The mind will oscillate between attention to senses, attention to thoughts, “becoming” thoughts, awareness of a lack of awareness, and through those cycles. The only goal is to celebrate when one touches into Awareness and notices that it had faded into the background.
ZOOM CALL WEEK 1
HOW TO SIT / POSTURE GUIDE