Best Concentraition Meditation?

Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

Best Concentraition Meditation?

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
What is the most effective meditation for developing concentration? I got the feeling that I need to work more on my concentration before moving on with insight meditation from this part of Daniel's book,
just a movie camera that is shaking wildly will not be likely to produce a clear or intelligible movie, so a mind that won’t stay settled on
an object will not clearly perceive the ultimate truth of it.
. I feel like I can't keep my mind on the object for very long.
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J Groove, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Best Concentraition Meditation?

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
I really like the "anapana spot" technique taught by Pa Auk Sayadaw. You can learn more about this by reading the jhana books of Shaila Catherine and/or Tina Snyder and Steve Rasmussen. It's a subtle technique that seems very effective. There are some talks on Dharma Seed by Tina and Steve in which they explain this technique, and Robert Cusick explains it quite well in another talk on IMC's Audio Dharma. (Sorry to not provide links. I've got to head out the door, but I might post some links later if you're interested.) Ron Crouch over at KFD used this technique for about three years and has described it as an effective way to develop samadhi.
If you do go this route, I do think Kenneth Folk's critique of the role of jhana in the Pa Auk Sayadaw system should be kept in mind. The basic idea seems to be to develop concentration to an extraordinary degree and then be able to master jhanas by spending hours and hours in them. Only later do you move on to vipassana. I don't think it's a "wrong" approach, per se, but it would certainly seem to require a huge amount of retreat time. Kenneth certainly is not a fan of it. But that doesn't mean the concentration technique itself isn't effective. Hope that helps!
J Adam G, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Best Concentraition Meditation?

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
The fastest developments in concentration often come from kasina practice.

Take a circular object of a single plain color. It could be a bowl, a plate, a beverage coaster, a circle cut out of paper, or whatever you like. It just needs to be a simple circle of one color. Prop it up against a background of a somewhat different color and brightness. Sit comfortably at a distance that allows you to see the kasina easily, without significant eyestrain. Stare at it.

That's pretty much it. You can apply more or less effort at various stages of the practice, and see for yourself what results come with differing balances of effort and relaxation. Don't be surprised for very soft stages of jhana to arise early on in the practice. Basically, the first jhana is when you can successfully tune into the kasina and tune out the surroundings. It feels somewhat exhilarating, though afterwards you might feel a bit tired if the effort was high. (The jhana itself does not usually contain the feeling of fatigue -- you might feel it after exiting the jhana, but only if you worked hard.)

In the second jhana, you aren't focusing on the center or any specific part of the kasina anymore. The switch from first jhana to second jhana comes at the point where you're able to relax your effort in a specific way, and instead of losing focus on the object and falling prey to distraction, you become aware of the entire kasina object at once. The eyes often unfocus when that happens, and the object may seem to stick out from the background. Distractions are actually farther away in the second jhana than they were in the first. This is a good way to tell the difference between losing the first jhana to distraction, and moving from the first to the second jhana.

That should be sufficient explanation to get you started. Stare at the object for about 15-30 minutes at a time, according to a timer that you set at the beginning of practice. Don't worry about time anymore once you've started meditating; let the alarm tell you when you're done. Just stare at the object. Try and notice how sometimes you're distracted, sometimes you're unclear, and then sometimes it becomes easier to focus on the center of the kasina. And once you become familiar with that state, see if there's a particular way you can relax your effort that causes your awareness of the kasina to increase and expand to the entire object. If you use the kasina to get really familiar with the first 4 jhanas, and it will pay off big time when you do insight practice.

EDIT: Wow, that was silly. The first jhana is when you can successfully tune out the background and tune into the kasina, not when you can effortlessly tune out the background and into the kasina.
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boeuf f, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Best Concentraition Meditation?

Posts: 60 Join Date: 2/4/10 Recent Posts
Kasina practice is great.

Remember that "concentration" is a poor translation for "samadhi". "Composure" might be a better word. Samadhi is a conditioned state--it is not an activity, it is not about bearing down with some laser focus on something and burning a hole in it, it's more like composing yourself within the object of concentration and accessing calm and clarity.

Consider: "Compose yourself within the breath" vs. "Concentrate on the breath." Do you understand?

Leigh Braslington's jhana article may be helpful:
http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/awakening101/janas.html

The "nada sound" or "inner sound" or "sound of silence" (ie: that ringing/buzzing whine one "hears" when things are quiet), is very concentrating for me and is also a good object for vipassana. The sound may be faint at first, but with attention and calm, it will grow more vivid.

It is described in the essay of that name in this book by Ajahn Sumedho:
www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/intuitive-awareness.pdf

Regards,
Bruno
Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Best Concentraition Meditation?

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Alright thanks guys.emoticon
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boeuf f, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Best Concentraition Meditation?

Posts: 60 Join Date: 2/4/10 Recent Posts
I just came across this: Two exceptionally pragmatic and clear-eyed talks on the basics of samadhi/concentration can be found at this page:

http://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/2/.

The page lists all recorded talks by this teacher, below are the talk titles and dates (you will need to scroll down to them in order to choose your preferred listening method):

Concentration 2010-08-31
The Container of Concentration 2010-09-07

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