concentation practice:

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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 7/20/09 7:21 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/20/09 7:21 AM

concentation practice:

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: telecaster
Forum: Daniel's Practice Hut

Looking for practical tips for maintaining concentration on the breath.
I'm getting some concentration with two main problems that I know are pretty common:
1. Getting caught up in thoughts. They just come relentlessly and sometimes it is so tempting to engage and start to spin out. Anyone have any tricks for NOT getting tempted to follow and add to the thoughts?
2. Sometimes when my concentration is good, I can tell that I'm about to go someplace wonderful and special. As soon as that happens I mentally step back and think about what is happening, and, of course, lose my concentration. Can anyone relate to this and do you have any tricks or techniques to stop?
Mike
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Tina Hamilton, modified 13 Years ago at 7/21/09 12:00 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/21/09 12:00 PM

RE: concentation practice:

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Mike,

I don't really know of any tricks per se, but know that such thoughts will subside with ongoing practice as your concentration gets more developed and stable.
A few things that I found helpful when thoughts and/or visualizations kept arising:

Simply let each thought pass on by like watching clouds in a blue sky.

Another thing that I found helpful was just to note "wandering" as you catch yourself engaging in the thoughts.

And another thing I used to do was imagine a small whisk (broom) sweeping the thoughts away.

On occasion I still get what I call "monkey mind," where for whatever reason the entire sit is a parade of visual fragments (unformed thoughts) and nothing seems to be effective in subduing this (generally only happens if I missed a few days of meditation practice). In such case, I simply remind myself that "this too will pass" and relax into it with patience, acceptance, and kindness.

Honestly, with consistent concentration practice, less and less of these distraction will occur until finally there will be just silence and clarity.

I hope this was somewhat helpful.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 7/24/09 8:33 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/24/09 8:33 AM

RE: concentation practice:

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: AlexWeith

1.) To get rid of distracting thoughts, you can try:
You think voluntarily, like "thought...", "thought..." (or what ever you want) and place your thoughts a few feets in front of you.
You will then feel that they are away from your head, like external objects.
Then, try to find the place from where they are coming from. What is their source?
See, they are gone...
Posture is not important, you can train almost anywhere during the day, for short moments.

2.) Then, try to concentrate on something pleasant and attractive, like a good fragrance (as suggested in Daniel's book). I worked well for me.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 7/27/09 2:12 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/27/09 2:12 AM

RE: concentation practice:

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: kevin_stanley

I'm a beginner, so adjust how seriously you take my comments accordingly.

1. caught up in thoughts: I have the same problem. Sometimes it's less of a problem. I guess I'm hoping that the balance will shift over time so that it's less and less a problem on average. BUT--I have found that the harder I try to escape or suppress the thoughts, the more I stick to them and get caught, like the story of b'rer rabbit and the tar baby (if you know that one--if not, it's an Uncle Remus story, and I recommend them). What has worked somewhat better for me is to treat the thoughts as being similar to a fog through which I am trying to see the object of meditation. If you focus on the thing you're trying to see in the fog, it will become partially obscured at times, but you can still track it. If you start focusing on the fog itself, you can lose what you were looking at entirely.

2) Felling something's about to happen and losing concentration: I can totally relate. I've only slipped past this roadblock a couple of times, and only once recently--when I was more or less asleep, I don't know an answer to it obviously, or I would be handling it better myself. But the couple of times I've gotten past it I was very relaxed, not thinking too hard...in a sense not caring what happened (particularly true of the recent time when I was mostly asleep).
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Ian And, modified 12 Years ago at 9/10/09 4:35 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 9/9/09 12:42 PM

RE: concentation practice:

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
telecaster:

Looking for practical tips for maintaining concentration on the breath.

I'm getting some concentration with two main problems that I know are pretty common:
1. Getting caught up in thoughts. They just come relentlessly and sometimes it is so tempting to engage and start to spin out. Anyone have any tricks for NOT getting tempted to follow and add to the thoughts?
2. Sometimes when my concentration is good, I can tell that I'm about to go someplace wonderful and special. As soon as that happens I mentally step back and think about what is happening, and, of course, lose my concentration.

Perhaps it's time to make an effort to practice meditative absorption (jhana). This is the best way to cure what ails you, with regard to strengthening concentration and being able to let go of intruding thoughts.

Go here: Precepts and practices and start reading from the beginning of the section down to the next bold headline (Doctrines of the self). Try following the instructions just as they are given. Use your intuition to figure out what is meant when coming upon anything that has you confused about its meaning.

The most important instruction which, if followed, allows this process to begin taking place is the following:

"The remaining steps are willed, or determined: He 'trains himself,' first by determining his sense of conscious awareness, making it sensitive to the body as a whole."

When Thanissaro instructs that "the remaining steps are willed or determined" he is talking about talking charge of the experience itself. If need be use your imagination to become "physically sensitive to the pleasure of the breath." In order to "take charge of the experience" you only need to "get out of the way" (relax) and let the experience itself unfold while becoming sensitive to any pleasureful sensation that might arise. This is hard to explain as it is such a subtle experience. Yet, once you learn how it works, you will be able to enter jhana absorption at will.

Here, when Thanissaro says "making it sensitive to the body as a whole," he is referring to full body awareness and not just the awareness of the breath body (meaning "the body of the breath" from inhale to exhale) itself. In performing this instruction, look for a pleasant sensation which the breath hearlds; that is, a pleasant sensation that arises as a result of becoming absorbed in awareness of the breath. When that sensation arises, ride along with it and that will guide you into the first jhana.

You should experience the mind becoming steady, gathering and settling inwardly, growing unified and centered. You may even experience a sensation of pressure (like a mild headache) in the middle of the forehead at about the level of the eye brows. This is your concentration strengthening. It's a good sign. You can use it as a nimitta.

That's enough for now. If you can get through this much, you will be doing good.
Mike L, modified 12 Years ago at 9/9/09 10:37 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 9/9/09 10:19 PM

RE: concentation practice:

Posts: 75 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
If anyone wants a bit of help with full body awareness, there are a number of guided 61-points meditation audio files available for free on the web.

one of them is here: http://www.swamij.com/online61.htm

Edit: It is a bit of a trick to relax the body and sharpen the mind; I suspect most people are used to the mind and body operating in tandem. my $0.02: Work on maintaining mental clarity only of relaxing and being aware of the body.

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