Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Background: I'm totally new to meditation, trying to start for the purpose of making 'actualism' practice easier, via increased mental clarity and having some interesting experiences like 'bliss'.

So far the brief periods I've tried have been very frustrating and seemingly useless experiences. It's as if I have 100 thoughts a second, constantly distracted... and at times I can't tell whether I am or have been concentrating on the target object... or whether I've just been imagining that I've been concentrating on it.

I'm closest to being able concentrate on my breathing but what is there to concentrate on in-between breaths? The gap in-between each breath is like a license to brainstorm.
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
A tip which I've seen Daniel give, though I've never been able to put it to good use, is: in the gap between the in and out breath, focus on the sensations associated with sitting (ass-in-the-chair/chushion/whatever). So "in in in in sitting sitting out out out out sitting sitting".
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
A tip which I've seen Daniel give, though I've never been able to put it to good use, is: in the gap between the in and out breath, focus on the sensations associated with sitting (ass-in-the-chair/chushion/whatever). So "in in in in sitting sitting out out out out sitting sitting".

That'll work, as long as it brings distracting verbalization and ideation to a halt. The closer to pure silence you can get, the better. Because that indicates mental control over the mind (i.e. the mind obeying what you tell it to do). But this amount of mental discipline can take a great deal of work and diligence to achieve. Hence, the practice of meditation itself.

What also will work is to focus on the sensations that accompany the breath, whatever they may be. These may be experienced as "blissful" if one's concentration is up to par and the mind becomes absorbed in them.
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
A tip which I've seen Daniel give, though I've never been able to put it to good use, is: in the gap between the in and out breath, focus on the sensations associated with sitting (ass-in-the-chair/chushion/whatever). So "in in in in sitting sitting out out out out sitting sitting".


Thanks, I'll give it a go. You say you've never been able put it to good use... what was/is your experience with focusing on the breath then? Do you just not need to, i.e. silent mind during the gaps or do you use a different concentration object?
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

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Well, I never had much luck with concentration meditation, my experience was and is that my mind is always very noisy, not only during the gaps but also during the breath. I am still unable to reliably enter absorption, and in fact have a somewhat limited interest in doing so, and thus rarely practice concentration. Occasionally some bliss will spontaneously arise and then I can get very absorbed.

Although, before stream entry I would frequently use the breath as an anchor of sorts while doing insight meditation — I would note note note and if I was too distracted I would restrict myself to noting the breath (in in in out out out). For this kind of vipassana practice only momentary concentration is required (at the moment of noting) and mental noise is mostly OK. So I never had to worry about that, actually.

Ian has a great thread on concentration meditation: A general, all-purpose jhana thread, in case you haven't read.
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Well, I never had much luck with concentration meditation, my experience was and is that my mind is always very noisy, not only during the gaps but also during the breath. I am still unable to reliably enter absorption, and in fact have a somewhat limited interest in doing so, and thus rarely practice concentration. Occasionally some bliss will spontaneously arise and then I can get very absorbed.

Although, before stream entry I would frequently use the breath as an anchor of sorts while doing insight meditation — I would note note note and if I was too distracted I would restrict myself to noting the breath (in in in out out out). For this kind of vipassana practice only momentary concentration is required (at the moment of noting) and mental noise is mostly OK. So I never had to worry about that, actually.

Ian has a great thread on concentration meditation: A general, all-purpose jhana thread, in case you haven't read.


Is there some other kind of meditation that you practice and/or that led you to "stream entry"?

I'm not bothered about the means, I'm just thinking of aiming for a more malleable mind. All I've heard of is concentration style of meditation. I know nothing about all this other stuff (don't even know what stream entry is).
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Nad A.:
Is there some other kind of meditation that you practice and/or that led you to "stream entry"?

I'm not bothered about the means, I'm just thinking of aiming for a more malleable mind. All I've heard of is concentration style of meditation. I know nothing about all this other stuff (don't even know what stream entry is).


i'd recommend reading through Mastering the Core Teachings of Buddha, if you want a more malleable mind via stream entry. it covers everything ya need to know to get there.

to get stream entry you need a meditation technique that focuses on gaining insight into the nature of momentary experience. one such technique is 'noting' - can read a primer on it here.

or maybe you can have the people at ruthless truth yell at you for a few hours and you can get enlightened that way - seems to have worked for them!
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

i'd recommend reading through Mastering the Core Teachings of Buddha, if you want a more malleable mind via stream entry. it covers everything ya need to know to get there.

to get stream entry you need a meditation technique that focuses on gaining insight into the nature of momentary experience. one such technique is 'noting' - can read a primer on it here.

or maybe you can have the people at ruthless truth yell at you for a few hours and you can get enlightened that way - seems to have worked for them!


I don't really want stream entry much, as I said, I don't even know what that is. An advanced book like MCTB doesn't seem like it'd be right for me. Not only do I not have a clue what all those terms mean just in the first chapter alone, but I don't have much motivation in this direction beyond wanting a few interesting mental experiences.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Nad A.:
I don't really want stream entry much, as I said, I don't even know what that is. An advanced book like MCTB doesn't seem like it'd be right for me. Not only do I not have a clue what all those terms mean just in the first chapter alone...

it's actually a beginner's book, too - those chapters define the terms. also it would define what 'stream entry' means and that might help you identify whether you'd want it.

Nad A.:
but I don't have much motivation in this direction beyond wanting a few interesting mental experiences.

ah ok, i think i see what you mean. you don't want to dig too deep, per se - you just want to calm your mind via meditation?

the difference between noticing the breath and concentrating on it took me a bit to grasp - i didn't understand the distinction, since it seems noticing the breath is equivalent to concentrating on it.

try just reading these 2 chapters on concentration and insight from MCTB, as they define the distinction. if you still don't get it, post again. it seems like what you're looking for is concentration practice.
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

Nad A.:
but I don't have much motivation in this direction beyond wanting a few interesting mental experiences.

ah ok, i think i see what you mean. you don't want to dig too deep, per se - you just want to calm your mind via meditation?


A bit more than just calming the mind. tarin's advice was to hit jhanas, to cultivate bliss, if PCE's, EE's and felicity aren't forthcoming.
Sanjay M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 44 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
Hello Nad

Besides the stuff here at DhO these resources may help you

1) An essay on aspects of the practice of breath meditation (url: http://www.leighb.com/case_of_the_missing_simile.htm)

If you do not want to read the long article, there is a brief summary at bottom of the page. emoticon

2) Leigh Brasington's Talks on Jhana (url: http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/108/?search=Jhana)

If you want to listen to only one audio, choose the one about first four Jhana's

Regards
Sanjay
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Sanjay M:
Hello Nad

Besides the stuff here at DhO these resources may help you


Thanks for the links.

-

I'm going to explore using the upper lip as the concentration object, rather than the breath or 'breathing process'. The sensations of the upper lip are still there in-between breaths so it seems to be a more helpful way of framing the practice.
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Nad A.:

Is there some other kind of meditation that you practice and/or that led you to "stream entry"?


Yeah, it's called mahasi noting.

Nad A.:


I'm not bothered about the means, I'm just thinking of aiming for a more malleable mind. All I've heard of is concentration style of meditation. I know nothing about all this other stuff (don't even know what stream entry is).


As I was never successful at doing concentration meditation, I can't compare them both. But the mind does become more maleable after stream-entry, not to mention that there is a significant decrease in overall suffering. Also, having good concentration makes getting stream-entry easier, and vice-versa.
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:


Yeah, it's called mahasi noting.



Mahasi Noting:
[...]concentrating generally on the breath when sitting[...]


What's the difference between noting the breath and concentrating on the breath? Just that there's the freedom to concentrate on other sensations in the gaps when there's no breath?
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Nad A.:
Background: I'm totally new to meditation, trying to start for the purpose of making 'actualism' practice easier, via increased mental clarity and having some interesting experiences like 'bliss'.

Not sure your choice of practice is all that practical, but be that as it may...

Nad A.:

So far the brief periods I've tried have been very frustrating and seemingly useless experiences. It's as if I have 100 thoughts a second, constantly distracted... and at times I can't tell whether I am or have been concentrating on the target object... or whether I've just been imagining that I've been concentrating on it.

I'm closest to being able concentrate on my breathing but what is there to concentrate on in-between breaths? The gap in-between each breath is like a license to brainstorm.

The purpose of mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of the breathing process at ALL times, not just during the in-breath and the out-breath, but it also includes the "gap in-between each breath." If you are not able to hold concentration on the breath during the gap in-between, then you have your work cut out for yourself.

When you can bring the mind to complete silence during this time, then you may begin to progress on toward more advanced insight practices, like satipatthana. It is best not to attempt satipatthana before you are able to quiet the mind, though. Because it would be difficult to make any progress beyond the distraction going on. This is why it is so important to be able to quiet (silence) the mind beforehand.
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Ian And:
Nad A.:
Background: I'm totally new to meditation, trying to start for the purpose of making 'actualism' practice easier, via increased mental clarity and having some interesting experiences like 'bliss'.

Not sure your choice of practice is all that practical, but be that as it may...


What do you mean?


The purpose of mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of the breathing process at ALL times, not just during the in-breath and the out-breath, but it also includes the "gap in-between each breath." If you are not able to hold concentration on the breath during the gap in-between, then you have your work cut out for yourself.


There is no breath during the gap in-between, so how can I hold concentration on the breath?
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
"Nad A.":
"Ian And":

The purpose of mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of the breathing process at ALL times, not just during the in-breath and the out-breath, but it also includes the "gap in-between each breath." If you are not able to hold concentration on the breath during the gap in-between, then you have your work cut out for yourself.

There is no breath during the gap in-between, so how can I hold concentration on the breath?

You mean the breathing process, don't you. By holding it on the gap (until the breath returns). How long is that gap anyway? Two seconds at most in most cases? Unless you're deliberately holding the breath. If you can't hold concentration on a two second gap, then you're in real trouble, aren't you. You're going to have to redouble your efforts.
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Ian And:
"Nad A.":
"Ian And":

The purpose of mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of the breathing process at ALL times, not just during the in-breath and the out-breath, but it also includes the "gap in-between each breath." If you are not able to hold concentration on the breath during the gap in-between, then you have your work cut out for yourself.

There is no breath during the gap in-between, so how can I hold concentration on the breath?

You mean the breathing process, don't you.


No, I was copying what you wrote: "hold concentration on the breath during the gap in-between".

By holding it on the gap (until the breath returns). How long is that gap anyway? Two seconds at most in most cases? Unless you're deliberately holding the breath. If you can't hold concentration on a two second gap, then you're in real trouble, aren't you.


I wouldn't know, I'm new to this. My question was hold concentration on what?
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Eran G, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Starting Meditation - Beginner Q's

Posts: 182 Join Date: 1/5/10 Recent Posts
Nad A.:
Ian And:
"Nad A.":
"Ian And":

The purpose of mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of the breathing process at ALL times, not just during the in-breath and the out-breath, but it also includes the "gap in-between each breath." If you are not able to hold concentration on the breath during the gap in-between, then you have your work cut out for yourself.

There is no breath during the gap in-between, so how can I hold concentration on the breath?

You mean the breathing process, don't you.


No, I was copying what you wrote: "hold concentration on the breath during the gap in-between".



I think what Ian meant there was the breath process. The gap is a part of the process. One good way to do that is to let the attention rest at a single point where you can feel the breath, for example, the tip of the nose right at the nostrils. Let the attention rest there and stay with the sensations of the breath as it comes in, stops for a beat, goes out, stops again and so on. An important part of concentration meditation is developing a calm and still mind. You can do that by resting your attention in one place and gently coming back to the same place when you notice that the mind has wandered away.

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