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Any Nicheren Buddhists out there! How does having ME/CFS effect your practice

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by tinacarroll27, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. tinacarroll27

    tinacarroll27 Senior Member

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    Hi everyone! before I took ill I was a member of the SGI (soka gakkai international) Nicheren Buddhist. Since I have become ill I am house bound and can't get out to meetings any more. I have severe ME/CFS so hosting meetings is not possible either. I also struggle to chant. I used to chant about 2 hours a day before and now I struggle to do 2 minutes. I feel like my Buddhist practice is falling apart as I can no longer take part and I am too weak to chant for long periods. I know I need to have compassion for myself but I don't want to give up my Buddhist practice and it's difficult keeping it going (especially the chanting) with this illness. I was wondering how other people who practice this Buddhism cope, if there are any of you on this forum? Have you stopped going to meetings and do you now practice alone as I do. I have had support from other Buddhists but they do not always understand this illness and it's severe limitations.
     
  2. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    I am a Buddhist, but not a Nicheren Buddhist. I take my teachings from a broad spectrum of Theravada, Mahayana and Tibetan teachers. I have never engaged in the chanting aspect of Buddhism. It has never drawn me in.

    Is there a particular reason you're a Nicheren Buddhist specifically? My understanding is that Nicheren Buddhists reject all other forms of Buddhism. Is that correct?

    ME has really been an enormous boon to my practice. I call it Zen Master CFS. I am in the extremely severe camp. I can't get out of bed. Buddhism has kept my head above water. I'm really quite chipper most days. I am very committed to my practice and the transformation I have undergone whilst at this degree of severity has been remarkable. It's been a process of steadily and unreservedly opening to this situation exactly as it is. Simply returning over and over again is all I've needed.

    Have you considered opening to teachings from different lineages?
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
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  3. tinacarroll27

    tinacarroll27 Senior Member

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    Nicheren Buddhism was the first form of Buddhism I met at university and I had been in the SGI for 10 years before I took ill. At the time I met the SGI I was going through a difficult point in my life and it helped my get through that. Yes the SGI does not approve of other forms of Buddhism and they don't approve of meditation, which to be honest I find strange. I like what you said about opening to the situation as it is. That makes sense to me. I am open to all forms of Buddhism and I like the idea of meditation, chanting is just too difficult form me with this illness.
     
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  4. boohealth

    boohealth Senior Member

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    You can chant in your head. You don't have to expend the effort for the outloud chanting. You can also listen to chanting--there are some nice ones online. You can relax into the vibe. I used to chant. It's a lack of discipline that has led me away from it, I guess. I always felt the chant had a sort of sonic potency--that there was something fundamentally potent and harmonious about it.
     
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  5. ahmo

    ahmo Senior Member

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    I have a different, non-Buddhist meditation practice. I can't go anywhere, but have found some online sites to access talks. I'm not doing formal meditation these days, though I do focused breathing AM/PM. Most of my meditation these days is about watching my mind in relation to whatever music or spoken words I'm listening to: How much does my inner talk interfere? I find chanting is too depleting. chanting inside is a great idea @boohealth :hug:
     
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  6. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    You could check out www.audiodharma.org and www.dharmaseed.org if you are interested in expanding your horizons into other areas of Buddhism. They are free libraries of audio teachings. From the former I recommend Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella. The latter I recommend Tara Brach and Jack Kormfield. Pema Chodron is also a wonderful teacher but is not listed on those sites. Gil Fronsdal offers really excellent introductions to meditation. I'm sure there are other excellent teachers on those sites. They are enormous libraries. The podcast Zencast takes many of the best teachings from those sites.

    If you're able to read I suggest Zen mind, beginners mind by Shunyru Suzuki Roshi. Despite the name it's not really a beginners' book, but you're not really a beginner! :D Tara Brach has also written a wonderful book called Radical Acceptance. Also Sharon Salzberg has written a world class book on Lovingkindness which is an often neglected element of practice but so, so crucial. She is also available on dharmaseed.
     
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  7. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    I'm a Theravada/early Buddhist. I started with Zen but after a couple of years of hearing the 'the Buddha said this, or that' I wanted to know what he really said. After some searching I discovered Theravada and found that Zen has chucked out the wonderful, extensive, and detailed mental toolbox that the Buddha provided for personal development and attaining complete freedom from stress and suffering.

    I looked into various forms of Mahayana but found that a some of the most referenced discourses (often relied upon in Zen) were fabricated many centuries after the Buddha's death, and introduce ideas that weren't in the original teachings.

    I also found that the content that most lay people are exposed to in popular Buddhism is important but quite superficial compared to the discourses that the Buddha delivered to monastics. If you want a true and deep sense of what Buddhism is about then I recommend studying the original discourses (collected in the Pali Nikayas). They are intricate, detailed, and subtle (and they talk about meditation -- a lot).

    If you are interested, the following Theravada sites will keep you busy for the rest of your life:
    Access to Insight - translations of discourses, many excellent articles by experienced monks, nuns, and lay people.

    Wisdom Publications publish excellent translations of many of the Buddha's discourses in ebook and print formats.

    Dharamafarers - translations of the Buddha's discourses with commentary by Buddhist scholar Piya Tan (also a former monk). As Piya is a scholar he goes into excruciating detail sometimes (which can often be skipped when reading), but overall the content has been invaluable for my practice and understanding. This link leads to the first Dharmafarer volumes, but others are available on the Dharamafarers site.
     
  8. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    As far as practice, You'll find excellent information on Access to Insight. There is no reason why you can't have a strong practice even when bedbound (I'm mostly bedbound.) There are many articles dedicated to lay practice.

    Another source of excellent information is the Buddhist Publication Society.

    Now that I've probably overwhelmed you, if you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them if I can.[/url]
     
  9. xena

    xena Senior Member

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    How do you all cope with the brain fog in relation to meditation practice?

    I find myself more reluctant to practice and my mind wanders a lot more and my sense of presence feels diminished...
     
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  10. mango

    mango Senior Member

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    There are so many different kinds of meditation, so many different techniques and forms. I simply choose forms that don't require a focussing of attention, that don't require deep concentration :)

    To me 'presence' is that which is beyond form and concepts (i.e. not thoughts, feelings, sensations etc) so it's always the same, never touched nor changed in any way by the ever-changing states (including brain fog) of the body/mind/spirit.
     
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  11. xena

    xena Senior Member

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    Can you tell me more about these forms @mango? I want to be able to practice like that

    ive always Identified presence with the depth of awareness of my Internal state and thoughts and feelings and bodily sensations etc so I guess that's why I Ve felt it fluctuates which admittedly saddens me a little

    I like the idea that there is something eternal but for myself I'm still not sure what that is
     
  12. mango

    mango Senior Member

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    If you're able to read books or listen to audiobooks, you might want to check this one out:

    True Meditation by Adyashanti
    Book: http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=productdetail&iprod_id=434
    Audiobook: http://www.soundstrue.com/store/true-meditation-3991.html

    It's by far the very best book I've ever read about meditation, and I would warmly recommend it to anyone and everyone :) Reading it was a massive 'aha!' moment for me, and it has changed my meditation practice completely, for the better :)

    If you aren't able to read books, there are many free guided meditations led by Adyashanti available on YouTube.

    Another teacher that offers free guided meditations along similar lines is Rupert Spira. I think he's absolutely amazing too :)

    (Neither Adya nor Rupert are Nicheren Buddhists.)

    Best of luck! Feel free to ask if there's anything else you'd like to know about it.
     
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  13. xena

    xena Senior Member

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    @mango
    Thank you! I look forward to reading it

    Can you tell me more about what kinds of practice you do that don't require as much focus and concentration?
     
  14. mango

    mango Senior Member

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    Sure. It's very difficult for me to describe, but I'll try :)

    When people talk about meditation, what they usually mean is some form of trying to control the mind and/or controlling the thoughts, feelings etc. What I'm talking about is the complete opposite -- it's about letting go of the attempts to control the mind. It's about allowing everything to be exactly as it is, regardless. Even if only for a short moment now and then.

    The big question is, what happens when we -- even for a short little moment -- allow everthing to be exactly as it is..? That's for each one of us to find out for ourselves :)

    (Allowing things to be as they are does not mean 'giving up' or becoming resigned! Actually, things don't care if we allow them or not -- they will still keep on being as they are, so in fact we have nothing to lose by giving them permission in this way :) Also, all the stuff will still be there after the meditation has ended, and there's absolutely nothing stopping us from continuing to resist things -- or taking action in order to change things -- at a later point in time. The first step to this practice is simply about a temporary suspension of inner resistance to reality.)

    About "techniques". What I usually do is to simply "defocus" (relax) my attention completely. It's the complete opposite of focusing the attention, actually :) Or, imagine if you had antennas, it would be like retracting them ;)

    It's a kind of letting go, a conscious relaxing of the mind's attention.

    It's almost like when you defocus the lens of a camera, you know? Little by little or all in one go. Eventually everything (thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, sounds etc) gets blurry and sort of fades, melts into the background, loses its sharpness and bright colours. It's all still there, but it's so out of focus that there's nothing about it that catches your attention, nothing that grabs you.

    Every time the mind wants to go towards a feeling, sensation, thought etc, you simply remind yourself to relax your attention. Again and again. Very gently, in a totally kind and compassionate way (this takes practice too!). Over and over again. All the thoughts and feelings etc can still be there, it doesn't matter at all. They can stay as long as they want, even be loud or insistent -- not a problem :)

    It might not be very easy in the beginning (at least it wasn't for me), but it gets easier and easier with practice.

    I usually keep me eyes closed, but one could keep them open or half-open too (might be a good idea if one is finding it very difficult to stay awake). In the beginning it might be easier to do this sitting or lying down in a quiet comfortable place for a few minutes at a time. But with practice it will happen much more effortlessly and one can do it for longer periods of time and also while doing other stuff at the same time, for example while brushing ones teeth, having breakfast or whatever :)

    It's not a "sleepy" or "switched off" sort of defocussing. On the contrary, it's very "awake" and there's a lot of clarity and a sense of "aliveness".

    Remember, don't try to control the mind. I let my thoughts, feelings and sensations come and go freely (they might be very loud or barely there at all -- either way, it doesn't matter), but I don't pay them any attention at all. Again, this gets easier with practice! Just keep relaxing and defocusing the attention, over and over again each time you catch yourself "getting interested" in the contents of your thoughts, or start judging your feelings etc.

    When everything else is allowed to temporarily completely fade into the background, what's left is only presence.
    Personally, I experience it as an infinitely peaceful, content and spacious "space", a place to rest, a sense of complete ease to sink into as if sinking into a lovely warm bath...

    There are many many other ways of course, and just as many ways to take things deeper and further from here :)

    Anyway, I do recommend you go listen to Adya or Rupert (or some other teacher whose teachings resonate with you). They can explain this a million times better than I would ever be able to..! :)

    I hope that answers your question :)
     
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  15. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    Here is a method of breath meditation by Ajaan Lee (Buddhist monk from the Thai forest tradition) that may be easier to use with brain fog:
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html

    You can skip down to Method 1 or Method 2 if you'd like get the gist of it before reading the introductory material. It sounds like an odd method, but was very useful for many of Ajaan Lee's students.

    One of his students, Thanissaro Bhikku has also written a meditation manual based on the same method (search for "With Each and Every Breath" on the linked page, or look near the page bottom):
    http://www.dhammatalks.org/ebook_index.html

    It's freely available in several different ebook formats.

    The method described in both documents is breath meditation based on what the Buddha taught, and expanded by Ajaan Lee. It's the only method that I've had success with, and by success I mean achieving the kind meditative state that is life changing in its depth and blissful feeling. Once you learn the basics you can even continue using the method at a shallow level no matter what you're doing during the day. Once you get used to doing it, this continuous focus on the breath can lead to an amazing level of calmness, no matter what you're doing.
     
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  16. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    Many actually regard doing something such as chanting for a time a form of meditation.
    ....

    Im not Buddhist but am a Yogi so follow yogic practices of a certain line. Chanting isnt seen as essential in the practices I do but can be a strong part of it at times to raise ones energy and the energy of the environment around us. Like yourself I cant now chant long at all as it causes me to strain and loose my voice.

    Often part of my practices can be done by just listening to someone who powerful chants and inner chanting along with what we chant instead of actually chanting it (thou we prefer to do at least a few chants or OMMMs at the end of it). I suggest to try to get on audio someone chanting what your group chants (is it OMM at all?) and innerly mind chant with it and you then can pitch in just an occassional chant along.

    With the ME, I cant myself chant well inside my head without this outside source, I just do not get that vibrational resonance which comes along with chants if doing it inside my own head without outside source so are reliant some of the energy being raised of the other who is chanting.

    Be aware that the more spiritually advanced the one who has his voice on tape to do the chant, the more energy that chant will give off while listening to it so not all DVDs of same chant are the same. There can be a huge difference from a chant being chanted and a developed one coming strongly from their soul doing a chant you are listening to and going along with.

    ....

    Secondly, if you cant attend your groups, I suggest try to keep up your practices you can do without issues and go along with whatever your group would be doing at the same time even if you cant attend as you can energetically link into them by doing whatever you do at the same time they are doing it and being aware of this fact. A person can still take on the group energy as if there all together.

    The link I have with my yogi group is so strong that I've found that even when I wasnt aware of when my group was meeting for a special meeting, I'd find myself drawn to do the things at the same time they were doing.. an energetic pull to do so. Then would find out after they had met and that I actually was still meditating, chanting or whatever along with them thou not in physical presence.

    best luck with things
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
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  17. maddietod

    maddietod Senior Member

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    To add to mango's ideas, I used to imagine every thought as a cloud wafting through a vast empty sky. "Oh, hello!" and let it float away. Later, I decided that I have a point of absolute stillness in me. I would hold that as a tiny dot in my mind, sit inside it, and let it expand.

    As with mango, I'm resting in mental stillness. The only effort is remembering to return to stillness whenever a thought rises. To mangle a Zen idea: It's fine to have thoughts passing by; just don't invite them in for tea.
     
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  18. NC360

    NC360

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    I understand. This video from Eckhart Tolle explains it well:

     
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  19. E.man

    E.man

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    We don't have to be in full lotus to be mindful. We can be laying down. (Esp if you have no choice ).
    Even a single Aum can be felt to resonate throughout my being even when laying semiconscious.
    Illness is one of Buddha's unavoidable life events along with ageing and death.

    Now that I've learned things I would not have come to without cfs can I recover now please.?
     

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