Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

For the few years i've had a dire urge to meditate but like everyone else i never really had the time to pursue it the way I've wanted to. At first i wanted to do it for the powers, then after i decided that i dont really care about that i wanted to do it for the enhanced mental capabilities, but now i think i just want to do it to gain sone type of peace of mind. I've used many excuses like it's not worth wasting my time on, I'll practice it later, I don't have the time or need for it and technically because of my work hours and shift I really do barely have the time for it but I've read a little bit of mctb and im really thinking about sacrificing a few things to practice but still I don't see the benefits in short term practice(in terms of length of practice daily) vs long term practice. Basically what im asking of you guys here is can you give me some advice and benefits you've experienced in your daily life on and off the cushion on why i should practice meditation it even if its just a little bit of practice daily? Thanks
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
So... you want us to motivate you? Do you think that's going to work better than wanting powers and cool mind stuff?
Lol good point.
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

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The point is that you need to be motivated to do this. You won't get the kind of motivation it takes to start and maintain a long-term practice from other people.
Yea your right i really just need to do it for my self and stop bouncing around it. Thanks for answering though i appreciate it.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it? (Answer)

Posts: 958 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Yashii:
...
Basically what im asking of you guys here is can you give me some advice and benefits you've experienced in your daily life on and off the cushion on why i should practice meditation it even if its just a little bit of practice daily? Thanks

I think you are smart to ask this question. Most meditators would never started unless they first heard that meditation provided some benefit. Understanding how other people benefit can help you decide if its likely to be useful to you.

Personally, I hate stress and life is full stress so I do samatha meditation to help feel more relaxed. I don't need motivation or willpower  to meditate like I don't need motivation or willpower to to eat. I eat because I'm hungry, I meditate because life (my brain) is a stress generator. I don't meditate today because I hope to get a benefit sometime in the future. I meditate today for the benefit I get today.

And often the way I meditate elevates my mood - it makes me feel good - so it provides positive reinforcement. A fundamental law of psychology is that if a behavior produces a reward, you will repeat that behavior. So this is another reason I don't need willpower or motivation. I want to meditate because it makes me feel good.

(You don't need to meditate a lot to gain powers. Some meditation will help but mainly you need a good teacher.)
I have struggled with motivation to meditate at times. I have found that when I am desiring some far off goal, vastly better mental health, for example, it is much harder to be motivated to sit. If I switch the goal to something like, I want to find out what my mind is like right now, I am much more likely to actually sit. So, if I were to suggest anything, I would say go do that. Forget about powers or enhanced mental capabilities for now. Go sit and watch your mind and try to figure out what it is like right now, in this moment. 
Tim Farrington, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it? (Answer)

Posts: 2454 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Yashii:
For the few years i've had a dire urge to meditate but like everyone else i never really had the time to pursue it the way I've wanted to. At first i wanted to do it for the powers, then after i decided that i dont really care about that i wanted to do it for the enhanced mental capabilities, but now i think i just want to do it to gain sone type of peace of mind. I've used many excuses like it's not worth wasting my time on, I'll practice it later, I don't have the time or need for it and technically because of my work hours and shift I really do barely have the time for it but I've read a little bit of mctb and im really thinking about sacrificing a few things to practice but still I don't see the benefits in short term practice(in terms of length of practice daily) vs long term practice. Basically what im asking of you guys here is can you give me some advice and benefits you've experienced in your daily life on and off the cushion on why i should practice meditation it even if its just a little bit of practice daily? Thanks

This question is Buddhism 101, in a way, it is literally the first and most important question of the meditative life and the eight-fold path: why practice? And the answer is simple, it is the First Noble Truth of Buddhism: samsara dukkha, this life we take as given is suffused with dukkha, with suffering. We begin practicing meditation because our eyes have opened to the pervasiveness and horror of that suffering inherent in life as we live it, and we want that shit to stop. We want off that wheel that goes round and round in a perpetual motion machine of misery. It's existential. I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole, if I didn't have to. The only thing more miserable than the meditative path is normal life, for me. For what that's worth, lol.
Yea my eyes have definitely opened and im ready to start as soon as i can. Thank for the answer.
Sam Gentile, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Tim,

Excellent answer!
The chicks Yashii - do it for the chicks.  ;)

Also to add to what others have said, it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  Meditate when you have time.  Chris said he meditated for 40 minutes x2 / day when he started - this was basically my practice for the entire path, combined with a very rigorous off cushion practice.  

In my own experience, philosophical ideals and grand future states / powers are much less likely to motivate us than personal present moment suffering.  If you are actively driven to achieve some measure of mental peace by the everyday sufferings of your own mind, you are much more likely to put in the effort necessary to make genuine progress on the path.  
The first sentence got me laughing emoticon
Could you expand on the very rigorous off cushion practice? I'm very interested.
SushiK:
The first sentence got me laughing emoticon
Could you expand on the very rigorous off cushion practice? I'm very interested.


Hi Sushi, glad you appreciated it.  ;)  As far as off cushion practice - I read a quote from HH the Dalai Lama at some point saying mindfulness is 90% of the practice and that holds true in my experience.  I tend to look at it in terms of a stable state model (see attachment). 

The goal in practice is to achieve a permanently enhanced state of awareness, aka attainment - be that First, Second, Third, Fourth Path, or beyond (dotted lines).  We do this not through any special tricks, but essentially just by ramping our current level of mindfulness (first ball + arrow) up to a maximum level approaching that of the next stable state aka progressive attainment.  Gradually we work through the specific mental challenges involved at our current level of practice, and gain some mastery over our current mental state.  For example - prior to Stream Entry we work through the challenges of the dark night, eventually achieving a stable state of equanimity.  When our current level of mindfulness / equanimity is perfected, we flip over to the next stable state (second ball + arrow) - the achievement of a path attainment and a new baseline state of awareness.

What I think the ball model illustrates well is the uphill nature of progression, and well as the issue of backsliding.  If we only meditate a couple times a day, and then let our mindfulness slack off in daily life, the momentum of mindfulness we have generated in meditation dissipates and it can be hard to progress.  Really getting through the paths, in my experience, demands a very strong continuity of mindfulness, which is no doubt why many people find retreats helpful.  However, it's also possible to really buckle down in daily life and try to maintain a continuous effort in mindfulness off the cushion.  Our approach to meditation becomes more of a 24/7 endeavor vs the fits and starts of an occasional meditation practice, and we will likely begin to have much more success in progression.  

As far as what I actually did, when I was in MCTB territory and practicing vipassana meditation, for mindfulness I tried to maintain a general noticing of sensations throughout my day off the cushion.  As my meditation practice evolved and became more of an awareness based approach, I similarly worked to maintain a continuity of mindful awareness throughout the day.  Integral to this approach was an idea of continually pushing towards the next level of attainment, constantly trying to refine my current level of awareness and hone it toward a breakthrough.  Mental and emotional suffering I tried to use as fodder for this push for increased attainment.  So at the extreme this approach became a push toward increased attainment to the exclusion of all other supposed "tracks" such as emotional integration or other more holistic ideals.  I can't say if that's the best / most healthy approach for everyone, but it definitely worked for me at the time.
Thanks a lot T DC, very clear.
Mental and emotional suffering I tried to use as fodder for this push for increased attainment.  So at the extreme this approach became a push toward increased attainment to the exclusion of all other supposed "tracks" such as emotional integration or other more holistic ideals.  I can't say if that's the best / most healthy approach for everyone, but it definitely worked for me at the time.

Yeah, I can imagine how this strategy is optimized for result but can make one a bit neurotic for a time.
Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

Posts: 2454 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
T DC

The chicks Yashii - do it for the chicks.  ;)
Yeah, Yashii, I should have mentioned this as well. Dukkha is a chick magnet.
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Chris Marti, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Chris said he meditated for 40 minutes x2 / day when he started...

What I did was to sit for 30 minutes twice a day. 40 minutes twice a day would have been far too extravagant emoticon
Ben Sulsky, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

Posts: 118 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
I think 5 minutes a day is a good amount of meditation for beginners!

Seems like increasing by something like 1min day per month is sufficient.  

Imo, working up to 15-20min sits are sufficient to get some concentration going and to get acquainted with the first 1-3 nanas.  

Not so hard!  
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Jim Smith, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

Posts: 958 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Yashii:
 Basically what im asking of you guys here is can you give me some advice and benefits you've experienced in your daily life on and off the cushion on why i should practice meditation it even if its just a little bit of practice daily? 

When you experience a state of conciousness during meditation that is clear and seems to be more natural and relaxed than ordinary consciousness, and it seems to dispel a kind of mental fog and strong emotions that are present during ordinary consciousness, and that ordinary consciousness is confused and made turbulent by attachments and aversions, then you will want to spend your time meditating so that you can exist in clarity rather than confusion.

Like if you realized you were dreaming and you wanted to wake up, or someone had the TV playing too loudly and you wanted to turn it down, you wouldn't need will power, it would be natural to do it.


To find this state try to notice what it is like after a meditation session when your mind is quiet (how does your mind feel?) and other times in daily life when your mind is turbulent (how does your mind feel then?). Which do you prefer? Which is a better quality of existence? Can you just sit with this clarity?
An Eternal Now, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Why should i meditate and not only meditate but really work hard at it?

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Yashii:
For the few years i've had a dire urge to meditate but like everyone else i never really had the time to pursue it the way I've wanted to. At first i wanted to do it for the powers, then after i decided that i dont really care about that i wanted to do it for the enhanced mental capabilities, but now i think i just want to do it to gain sone type of peace of mind. I've used many excuses like it's not worth wasting my time on, I'll practice it later, I don't have the time or need for it and technically because of my work hours and shift I really do barely have the time for it but I've read a little bit of mctb and im really thinking about sacrificing a few things to practice but still I don't see the benefits in short term practice(in terms of length of practice daily) vs long term practice. Basically what im asking of you guys here is can you give me some advice and benefits you've experienced in your daily life on and off the cushion on why i should practice meditation it even if its just a little bit of practice daily? Thanks

You should aim for nothing short of enlightenment.

For a bit of inspiration maybe:

This is how Frank Yang described his attainment of MCTB's 4th Path:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGN9nCJ33Tk&feature=emb_title

https://youtu.be/4t8KvdMtT4A


You mentioned busy work life. How much are you able to sit? Half an hour, an hour a day should not be a problem? If you can do more, great! Don't think that you can't attain 4th path if you have a job. Personally I seldom sit more than 1 hour. I have ended all traces of duality and agency for the past 10 years. So don't aim for anything less, and take steps to just practice hard, whatever path of practice you take, and work with your conditions. You can do it! Lesser attainments than 4th path are also great, but they just don't hold a candle to 4th path itself, so don't stop short at anything less.

For a bit of glimmers on how my day to day experience is like, I wrote a preface for AtR guide, an excerpt https://app.box.com/s/157eqgiosuw6xqvs00ibdkmc0r3mu8jg :


"Personally, I can say from direct experience that direct realization is completely direct, immediate, and non-intellectual, it is the most direct and intimate taste of reality beyond the realm of imagination. It far exceeds one’s expectations and is far superior to anything the mind can ever imagine or dream of. It is utter freedom. Can you imagine living every moment in purity and perfection without effort, where grasping at identity does not take hold, where there is not a trace or sense of 'I' as a seer, feeler, thinker, doer, be-er/being, an agent, a 'self' entity residing inside the body somewhere relating to an outside world, and what shines forth and stands out in the absence of a 'self' is a very marvellous, wondrous, vivid, alive world that is full of intense vividness, joy, clarity, vitality, and an intelligence that is operating as every spontaneous action (there is no sense of being a doer), where any bodily actions, speech and thoughts are just as spontaneous as heart beating, fingernails growing, birds singing, air moving gently, breath flowing, sun shining - there is no distinction between ‘you are doing action’/’you are living’ and ‘action is being done to you’/’you are being lived’ (as there is simply no ‘you’ and ‘it’ - only total and boundless spontaneous presencing).
 
This is a world where nothing can ever sully and touch that purity and perfection, where the whole of universe/whole of mind is always experienced vividly as that very purity and perfection devoid of any kind of sense of self or perceiver whatsoever that is experiencing the world at a distance from a vantagepoint -- life without ‘self’ is a living paradise free of afflictive/painful emotions, where every color, sound, smell, taste, touch and detail of the world stands out as the very boundless field of pristine awareness, sparkling brilliance/radiance, colorful, high-saturation, HD, luminous, heightened intensity and shining wonderment and magicality, where the surrounding sights, sounds, scents, sensations, smells, thoughts are seen and experienced so clearly down to the tiniest details, vividly and naturally, not just in one sense door but all six, where the world is a fairy-tale like wonderland, revealed anew every moment in its fullest depths as if you are a new-born baby experiencing life for the first time, afresh and never seen before, where life is abundant with peace, joy and fearlessness even amidst the apparent chaos and troubles of life, and everything experienced through all the senses far surpasses any beauty previously experienced, as if the universe is like heaven made of glittering gold and jewels, experienced in complete gapless directness without separation, where life and the universe is experienced in its intense lucidity, clarity, aliveness and vivifying presence not only without intermediary and separation but without center and boundaries - infinitude as vast as an endless night sky is actualized every moment, an infinitude that is simply the vast universe appearing as an empty, distanceless, dimensionless and powerful presencing, where the mountains and stars on the horizon stands out no more distant than one’s breath, and shines forth as intimately as one’s heartbeat, where the cosmic scale of infinitude is actualized even in ordinary activities as the entirety of the universe is always participating as every ordinary activity including walking and breathing and one’s very body (without a trace of an ‘I’ or ‘mine’) is as much the universe/dependent origination in action and there is nothing outside of this boundless exertion/universe, where the purity and infinitude of the marvellous world experienced through being cleansed in all doors of perception is constant. (If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern. - William Blake)
 
You know all the Mahayana Sutras (e.g. Vimalakirti Sutra), old Zen talks about seeing this very earth as pure land and all the Vajrayana talks about the point of tantra as the pure vision of seeing this very world, body, speech and mind in its primordial unfabricated purity as the Buddha field, palace, mandala, mantra and deity? Now you truly get it, you realise everything is really just like that when experienced in its primordial purity and perfection, and that the old sages have not been exaggerating at all. It is as much a literal and precise description of the state of consciousness as it is a metaphor. As I told John Tan before, Amitabha Sutra’s description of pure land resembles my living experience here and now. “To me it just means anatta. When what’s seen, tasted, touched, smelled are in clean purity, everywhere is pure land.” - John Tan, 2019. "If one is free from background self, all manifestations appear in clean purity in taste. Impurities from what I know come from mental constructions." – John Tan, 2020
 
This is a freedom that is free from any artificially constructed boundaries and limitations. And yet, this boundlessness does not in any way lead to the dissociation from one’s body, instead one feels more alive than ever as one’s very body, one grows ever more somatic, at home and intimate as one’s body. This is not a body normally conceived of, as the boundaries of an artificially solidified body that stands separated from the universe, dissolve into energetic streams of aliveness dancing and pulsating throughout the body in high energy and pleasure, as well as sensations of foot steps, movement, palm touching an object, where the body is no longer conflated with a constructed boundary of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, ‘self’ or ‘other’, where no trace of an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’ can be found in one’s state of consciousness - there’s only one indivisible, boundless and measureless world/mind - only this infinitude of a dynamic and seamlessly interconnected dance that we call ‘the universe’. This is better than any passing peak experiences be they arisen spontaneously, in meditation or through the use of psychedelic substances. And yet, despite experiencing life to it fullest every moment without any veils, in complete openness and utter nakedness, nothing gains a foothold in consciousness, for as vivid as they are, they leave no trace just as a bird leaves no tracks in the sky, an empty and lucid display such as a gust of wind and the glittery reflections of moon on the ocean waves - appearing but nothing ‘there’ or anywhere. All these words and descriptions I just wrote came very easily and spontaneously in a very short time as I am simply describing my current state of experience that is experienced every moment. I am not being poetic here but simply being as direct and clear as possible about what is immediately experienced. And this is only a figment that I am describing. If I were to tell you more of what this is like, you would not believe it. But once you enter this gateless realm you shall see that words always pale in comparison."

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