Should I increase reducemy stress?
I’ve been trying to find ways of doing zazen without falling asleep. I know this is not a rare problem. I’ve been experimenting with breathing faster, adjusting my focus, etc.
I seem to be one of the few people I know that is not ADD. My attention goes somewhere and sticks, like a bulldog. I am definitely more OCD than ADD. If I start to focus on controlling my breathing, I instantly relax, giving myself subconscious permission to let go of stress. This is hazardous. Perhaps I should hold onto the stress. This seems counter-intuitive. The reason I mention any of this is that I am friends with an ever-growing number of ADD people and talking to them stresses me out simply trying to keep track of what they are saying. I am Asperger-y and find listening to them highly annoying and it makes me want to have less contact with my fellow humans in general. Not good. So then I try to do more zazen, and snooze. I trip over myself.
I’m not sure of how much of this is my personal issue, how much of it is inherent in Zen, and how much of it comes from McMindfulness. My problem with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (and other corporate-friendly attempts to reduce stress via meditation and mindfulness) is that that is not what Zen is or ever has been intended for. On the one hand, our culture desperately needs to develop ways to deal with increasing sensory input and emotional turmoil. Stress can kill people and exacerbate virtually every disorder. On the other hand, using Buddhism to relieve stress accomplishes about the same amount as turning Christianity into just one more self-help venue. The serious stress-reducer and the self-helper can always find more effective non-religious means to accomplish their same ends. No philosophy or doctrine required.
Clarity in purpose is required. Zen is not for relaxing. It is for an ever-growing awareness of my own mind and how it functions (or not, as the case may be).