Hi! And a question about visualization.

Guy P Srinivasan, modified 11 Years ago at 6/16/11 6:23 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 6/16/11 6:23 PM

Hi! And a question about visualization.

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hi everyone! I'm new, just started meditating two weeks ago, half an hour in the morning for now. I'll definitely be coming here for advice / reporting, MCTB was (and will be) a great read, and I'm excited to see where this goes.

I do have one question... I don't visualize well. At all. My skill at mental imagery is near zero, occuring only briefly sometimes when I am about to fall asleep. See http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Galton/imagery.htm if this concept seems foreign to you. ;) Are there specific practices I should avoid because they will be far more difficult without mental imagery? Is the lack completely irrelevant? Are there well known ways of developing visualization skills? I haven't seen any discussion of this difficulty and it seems to me that many practices like noting aren't reliant on it, but quite a lot of the descriptions of meditation experiences/techniques that I've read or heard about involve mental imagery or the word "visualization". e.g. kasinas.

Thoughts?
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Ian And, modified 11 Years ago at 6/16/11 7:22 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 6/16/11 7:22 PM

RE: Hi! And a question about visualization. (Answer)

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Guy P Srinivasan:
Hi everyone! I'm new, just started meditating two weeks ago, half an hour in the morning for now. I'll definitely be coming here for advice / reporting, MCTB was (and will be) a great read, and I'm excited to see where this goes.

I do have one question... Are there specific practices I should avoid because they will be far more difficult without mental imagery?

... I don't visualize well....Is the lack completely irrelevant? Are there well known ways of developing visualization skills? I haven't seen any discussion of this difficulty and it seems to me that many practices like noting aren't reliant on it, but quite a lot of the descriptions of meditation experiences/techniques that I've read or heard about involve mental imagery or the word "visualization". e.g. kasinas.

With the exception of perhaps using kasina discs to develop concentration, there is no need to fret or worry about visualization when practicing Buddhist meditation techniques.

Concentration can be developed using only the breath and watching the sensory experience (sensations) that arise as a result of what that practice helps to induce. It can be developed by focusing on an object (mental or physical) and keeping the mind focused on that object. There are many ways to develop concentration that do not entail visualization. But the most important thing to realize about the practice of Buddhist meditation techniques is that they are meant to help sharpen the mind's ability to see whatever is put in front of it in order to know that object more clearly. This has nothing to do with so-called "metaphysics" or anything else that may seem mysterious or ethereal. It has to do with developing down-to-earth skills in mental concentration so that you may eventually realize the truth first hand, namely that all life is anicca, dukkha, and anatta, otherwise known as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and without self nature.

Where one will run into problems is when they have trouble releasing their hold (attachment to) on the illusory nature of the object (or objects) they are observing. As Ajahn Chah, a wise and famous Thai Forest monk, was fond of saying:

"When you aren't making any suffering for yourself out of things, you are at ease. When there are no issues causing mental agitation, you remain equanimous. That is, you continue to practise normally with a mental equanimity maintained by the presence of mindfulness and an all-round awareness. You keep a sense of self-control and equilibrium. If any matter arises and prevails upon the mind, you immediately take hold of it for thorough investigation and contemplation. If there is clear insight at that moment, you penetrate the matter with wisdom and prevent it creating any suffering in the mind. If there is not yet clear insight, you let the matter go temporarily through the practice of samatha meditation and don't allow the mind to attach. At some point in the future, your insight will certainly be strong enough to penetrate it, because sooner or later you will develop insight powerful enough to comprehend everything that still causes attachment and suffering."

Therefore, concentration is used to enhance and develop insight into the true nature of dhammas (phenomena) such that the mind remains at ease no matter what arises before it.
Guy P Srinivasan, modified 11 Years ago at 6/17/11 2:05 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 6/17/11 2:05 AM

RE: Hi! And a question about visualization.

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Thanks! I had a feeling visualization wasn't actually an important component, but wanted to make sure. It's hard 'cause we use the vision metaphor so easily... "Concentration can be developed using only the breath and watching the sensory experience (sensations) that arise as a result of what that practice helps to induce." emoticon

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