DhO Upgrade happening now! Stop posting until complete.

General

Dear All, The remarkable Manish is about to backup and upgrade Liferay to Liferay 7. This is the fundamental platform on which the DhO runs. As such, anything posted from about now (January 23, Saturday, at around noon Central Time) will likely be lost until the upgrade is complete. Thus, stop posting anything you wish to last now until this is done! Thanks! -Daniel, Owner of the DhO

 

 

Message Boards Message Boards

Concentration

Kindergarten Question

Toggle
Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 10:17 AM
So I have been meditationg off and on for almost 20 years without really taking it seriously. No retreats, no special practices, just following the breath. I've read a variety of books: D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu, Gil Fronsdal. And probably more I can't remember right now. 

Right now I'm giving it another try and it seems to be going better than ever before. I get to the end of the time (I use one of those free apps) and instead of relief I feel like it was too short. After about six weeks, I'm up to 25 minutes a day (sometimes twice a day) but trying to increase slowly so I don't go overboard which I tend to do and then burn out.

Question: what's next and how do I know? There seem to be all kinds of other practices like noting and kasinas and so forth but where do I need to be before taking up those? And what is a logical second step? This sangha seems to be very much about advanced practices and attainments but I just need some advice on a step two as it were. 

Thanks
Bill

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 11:01 AM as a reply to Bill.
Hi and welcome to DhO! 

Can you tell us more about your past practice of following the breath? How long were your usual sessions and what experience did you have during those practices? Basically have you had any "wow" or "what the heck" moments and have you felt/perceived any absorptions due to concentration etc ...

Some folks seem to easier follow concentration practices while others seem more at home with noting practice. 

Giving us more info about your previous experiences might help us give better advice. 

Once again, welcome! 

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 12:28 PM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Papa Che Dusko:
Hi and welcome to DhO! 

Can you tell us more about your past practice of following the breath? How long were your usual sessions and what experience did you have during those practices? Basically have you had any "wow" or "what the heck" moments and have you felt/perceived any absorptions due to concentration etc ...

Some folks seem to easier follow concentration practices while others seem more at home with noting practice. 

Giving us more info about your previous experiences might help us give better advice. 

Once again, welcome! 

OK, thanks.

So mostly I just stay focused on the breath and watch thoughts come and go. Usually they come and go the whole time and of course I get caught in trails of thoughts numerous times per session. I just notice that and come back to the breath.

In the last few weeks it's been easier to stay focused and there are probably rare moments when the thoughts don't stop exactly but just fade way back. Maybe. Kind of hard to describe. Overall my sessions seem less jangly. But never had a "wow what was that" moment. The only odd sensation is sometimes I used to get a sort of twisty feeling. Like my body was twisting or swaying. But very slight. Have not had that in a while though.

I tend to meditate for a month or so and then get fed up with nothing happening and stop. Or life happens and a pause becomes months or years. 

Duration is typically 30-45 minutes (building up over time) but lately I've been building up more slowly and that seems to work in that all my sessions now end before I expect them to. Previously I almost always took a peek at the time before the session was done. Now every session ends before I expect it to.

Does that help?

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 1:21 PM as a reply to Bill.
All the authors you mentioned above (not sure about Gill though) do emphesise samatha/absorption and you seem to lean towards that side as opposed to Vipassana. This is important as it shows where your faith lies. Those authors resonate well with you and I think its good to follow that faith as there is nothing worse than having doubt in the very practice we are to do every day for 45-60 minutes once or twice.

In Vipassana we take stuff appart bit by bit (dismantling a chariot) seeing the unsatisfactoriness, impermanence and non-self in all what was objectified, while in Samatha we solidify into absorptions (aka Jhanas) and follow the path of calm, joy, bliss, gladness, one pointendness and equanimity (and at some stage all these will be seen as unsatisfactory, impermanent and not self, hence let go of).

you wrote;
"In the last few weeks it's been easier to stay focused and there are probably rare moments when the thoughts don't stop exactly but just fade way back. Maybe. Kind of hard to describe. Overall my sessions seem less jangly. But never had a "wow what was that" moment. The only odd sensation is sometimes I used to get a sort of twisty feeling. Like my body was twisting or swaying. But very slight. Have not had that in a while though."

That is progress, having thoughts fall into the background is certainly a good sign. Not that thinking is bad but for samatha practice its a good thing as it means concentreation and calm is very solid and its a very powerful insight showing us that we are not that thinking mind and that thinking mind does its own thinking (somewhere in the background blabbing on its own), without me really controling it. So if Im not that thinking mind then what am I? emoticon  Am I that "knower" of this expereince? Dunno. Keep watching emoticon


Would you mind telling us more about what you mean by this "nothing happening then I stop". What do you expect should happen? What are you after? What do you crave from meditation? 
"I tend to meditate for a month or so and then get fed up with nothing happening and stop"

In my experience any practice I did so far since 2008 needed at least 5-6 months of constant daily practice to bring about some stuff, either an experience, or change in stress levels, or getting an insight, or else. One month might not be enough for the most of us (im sure there are individuals that just "get it" and get awakened instantly but those might be rare, it certainly aint me).

You do ask about noting and fire casina. Does that mean you are doubting your breath meditation and would like to try something else? Even these practices will need time (6 month or longer) and daily practice  get anything out of them. All this stuff is building a momentum, for each mind stage or mind state. 

What ever you choose its good to really put faith into that practice and give it a good try for at least 6 months before giving up on it and trying something else. 
I personally always got good results when my heart was set on the very practice I was doing, not having doubt about it but just doing the technique as designed and focusing on the mind stuff, body sensations and feeling tones arise and pass away, one by one, on and on and on.

If indeed you are experienceing "mind falling away" into the background then I think its good to keep doing what you are doing as that is a very good sign (just dont get wound up about it though and simply keep atention on the breath and calm as you did before, nothign but that breath is of any importance in such practice). It would also help if you up that sitting time to at least 45 minutes a day or at least try to gradualy get there as mind needs a bit time to really settle into concentration during each sit.

I am no expert on this (I only have my own experience) and you should hear what others here have to say also. Always get a second opinion emoticon I hope what I wrote is not confusing you.

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 1:59 PM as a reply to Bill.

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 2:25 PM as a reply to Bill.
What do you want the meditation to do for you? 

To reduce stress and help you feel more relaxed?
(Do more of what you are already doing.)

Actually, what you are already doing can cause any of the effects described below but the links indicated will help you direct your efforts in that direction.

To produce spiritual feelings of compassion and goodwill?
(Try metta or jhana meditation:
https://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/guided_meditations/01GuidedMetta(4min).mp3
https://www.dhammatalks.org/books/BeyondAllDirections/Section0007.html
http://www.leighb.com/jhana3.htm
http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/meditation-1#meditation_serenity )

To get enlightenment and end suffering?
(Read books by Thanissaro Bhikkhu: https://www.dhammatalks.org/ebook_index.html)

To get enlightenment and see the true nature of conscoiusness?
(Read MTCB: https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/)

To develop psychic powers?
(Find a teacher: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=&messageId=21664918)

Some other reason?


I also recommend doing relaxation exercises before meditating to have more consistent and productive meditation sessions.

It can also help you to get a better sense of what meditation can do, if you haven't done it before, is to try at least one time to meditate for at least one hour. You don't have to have perfect concentration, or sit on the floor, just tell yourself you will try, just once, to meditate for at least on hour. You can sit in a comfortable chair. You can peek at your timer. And you don't ever have to do it again for that long. I did this when I was a beginner and I felt so peacful and relaxed afterward that I was hooked for life. I wanted to feel like that all the time. My attitude is the meditation I do today should benefit me today. But that is compatible with any of the objectives above.

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 2:13 PM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Papa Che Dusko:
All the authors you mentioned above (not sure about Gill though) do emphesise samatha/absorption and you seem to lean towards that side as opposed to Vipassana. This is important as it shows where your faith lies. Those authors resonate well with you and I think its good to follow that faith as there is nothing worse than having doubt in the very practice we are to do every day for 45-60 minutes once or twice.

In Vipassana we take stuff appart bit by bit (dismantling a chariot) seeing the unsatisfactoriness, impermanence and non-self in all what was objectified, while in Samatha we solidify into absorptions (aka Jhanas) and follow the path of calm, joy, bliss, gladness, one pointendness and equanimity (and at some stage all these will be seen as unsatisfactory, impermanent and not self, hence let go of).

you wrote;
"In the last few weeks it's been easier to stay focused and there are probably rare moments when the thoughts don't stop exactly but just fade way back. Maybe. Kind of hard to describe. Overall my sessions seem less jangly. But never had a "wow what was that" moment. The only odd sensation is sometimes I used to get a sort of twisty feeling. Like my body was twisting or swaying. But very slight. Have not had that in a while though."

That is progress, having thoughts fall into the background is certainly a good sign. Not that thinking is bad but for samatha practice its a good thing as it means concentreation and calm is very solid and its a very powerful insight showing us that we are not that thinking mind and that thinking mind does its own thinking (somewhere in the background blabbing on its own), without me really controling it. So if Im not that thinking mind then what am I? emoticon  Am I that "knower" of this expereince? Dunno. Keep watching emoticon


Would you mind telling us more about what you mean by this "nothing happening then I stop". What do you expect should happen? What are you after? What do you crave from meditation? 
"I tend to meditate for a month or so and then get fed up with nothing happening and stop"

In my experience any practice I did so far since 2008 needed at least 5-6 months of constant daily practice to bring about some stuff, either an experience, or change in stress levels, or getting an insight, or else. One month might not be enough for the most of us (im sure there are individuals that just "get it" and get awakened instantly but those might be rare, it certainly aint me).

You do ask about noting and fire casina. Does that mean you are doubting your breath meditation and would like to try something else? Even these practices will need time (6 month or longer) and daily practice  get anything out of them. All this stuff is building a momentum, for each mind stage or mind state. 

What ever you choose its good to really put faith into that practice and give it a good try for at least 6 months before giving up on it and trying something else. 
I personally always got good results when my heart was set on the very practice I was doing, not having doubt about it but just doing the technique as designed and focusing on the mind stuff, body sensations and feeling tones arise and pass away, one by one, on and on and on.

If indeed you are experienceing "mind falling away" into the background then I think its good to keep doing what you are doing as that is a very good sign (just dont get wound up about it though and simply keep atention on the breath and calm as you did before, nothign but that breath is of any importance in such practice). It would also help if you up that sitting time to at least 45 minutes a day or at least try to gradualy get there as mind needs a bit time to really settle into concentration during each sit.

I am no expert on this (I only have my own experience) and you should hear what others here have to say also. Always get a second opinion emoticon I hope what I wrote is not confusing you.

I think you hit the nail on the head. I *am* comfortable with breathing and as you said I just need to build up to 45-60 minutes and see what 6 months brings. I guess I kind of knew that, but it's very helpful to hear you say it.

Thanks so much!!

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 2:16 PM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
Angel,
Yes! Thank you. I think that's why I gravitate to the breath. It's what I learned way back when from reading Bante G and later, reading suttas, this was one of my favorites. You reminded me how much joy I get from re-reading suttas.
Thanks so much.

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 2:31 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
What do you want the meditation to do for you? 

To reduce stress and help you feel more relaxed?
(Do more of what you are already doing.)

Actually, what you are already doing can cause any of the effects described below but the links indicated will help you direct your efforts in that direction.

To produce spiritual feelings of compassion and goodwill?
(Try metta or jhana meditation:
https://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/guided_meditations/01GuidedMetta(4min).mp3
https://www.dhammatalks.org/books/BeyondAllDirections/Section0007.html
http://www.leighb.com/jhana3.htm
http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/meditation-1#meditation_serenity )

To get enlightenment and end suffering?
(Read books by Thanissaro Bhikkhu: https://www.dhammatalks.org/ebook_index.html)

To get enlightenment and see the true nature of conscoiusness?
(Read MTCB: https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/)

To develop psychic powers?
(Find a teacher: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=&messageId=21664918)

Some other reason?
Good question. Certainly one goal is reducing stress. I'm curious about Jhana states, but reading MTCB has engendered a bit of caution in that direction. There is clearly more to it than just progressively higher levels of bliss. And of course I would love to be able to "rise above" the mundane and end suffering. I have no real interest in powers. 

Interestingly I just ordered Leigh Brasingtons book "Right Concentration". And I've tried some metta for a few well known USA political figures but I'm clearly not advanced enough because I'm not able to keep that up. Although that's probably the idea. Thanks for the nudge.

And I've been reading through Daniel's book online, but most of it seems way beyond where I am now. That was partly what prompted the question. I was wondering if I was just wimping out or going too slow or something. Sounds like not.   

And thanks for the links. I'll explore some of those further.

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 2:59 PM as a reply to Bill.
Bill:

Good question. Certainly one goal is reducing stress. I'm curious about Jhana states, but reading MTCB has engendered a bit of caution in that direction. There is clearly more to it than just progressively higher levels of bliss. And of course I would love to be able to "rise above" the mundane and end suffering. I have no real interest in powers. 

Interestingly I just ordered Leigh Brasingtons book "Right Concentration". And I've tried some metta for a few well known USA political figures but I'm clearly not advanced enough because I'm not able to keep that up. Although that's probably the idea. Thanks for the nudge.

And I've been reading through Daniel's book online, but most of it seems way beyond where I am now. That was partly what prompted the question. I was wondering if I was just wimping out or going too slow or something. Sounds like not.   

And thanks for the links. I'll explore some of those further.

This might also be helpful to you in figuring out what to do. It discusses the roles of samatha and vipassana.
https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
So the proper path is one in which vipassana and samatha are brought into balance, each supporting and acting as a check on the other. Vipassana helps keep tranquillity from becoming stagnant and dull. Samatha helps prevent the manifestations of aversion — such as nausea, dizziness, disorientation, and even total blanking out — that can occur when the mind is trapped against its will in the present moment.

From this description it's obvious that samatha and vipassana are not separate paths of practice, but instead are complementary ways of relating to the present moment: samatha provides a sense of ease in the present; vipassana, a clear-eyed view of events as they actually occur, in and of themselves.

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 3:36 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

This might also be helpful to you in figuring out what to do. It discusses the roles of samatha and vipassana.
https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html
One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
So the proper path is one in which vipassana and samatha are brought into balance, each supporting and acting as a check on the other. Vipassana helps keep tranquillity from becoming stagnant and dull. Samatha helps prevent the manifestations of aversion — such as nausea, dizziness, disorientation, and even total blanking out — that can occur when the mind is trapped against its will in the present moment.

From this description it's obvious that samatha and vipassana are not separate paths of practice, but instead are complementary ways of relating to the present moment: samatha provides a sense of ease in the present; vipassana, a clear-eyed view of events as they actually occur, in and of themselves.

If I had to summarize what I think the essence of practice is, today I would say it is trying to isolate mental anguish from the physical sensations of pain and the physical sensations accompaning unpleasant emotions. Notice the physical sensation in your body, then try to find just the mental anguish ... get a good sense of what it is from observing it clearly ... then see what you can do about relaxing it. To do this you need a quiet mind or you will get carried away by rampaging thoughts and emotions - so that is the purpose of meditation, in addition to all those other nice things: providing serenity, and spiritual feelings, to quiet the mind so you can observe it better and then observe it. The physical sensations might not change much, but without the mental anguish, they have much less force.

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 3:35 PM as a reply to Bill.
Good. If you study the sutta carefully you'll see that there is a progression that includes all the pointers you've recieved so far.  When I first saw your post I had the impression that the length of practice you have doesn't correspond to the insights you report. It seems you have stuck to what you do well, no wonder you fall out of enthusiasm for the practice.  Follow the progression, you'll probably find that you know much more than you think.  

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/27/20 4:52 PM as a reply to Angel Roberto Puente.
Thanks, Angel. I hope that's the case. I'll re-read that sutta again. There's always more on each reading.

And Jim, thank you as well. I'll read that article. I never saw it before. Lately I've been trying to read less and practice more but these two pointers look very helpful indeed.

RE: Kindergarten Question
Answer
9/28/20 12:40 AM as a reply to Bill.
Bill:
So I have been meditationg off and on for almost 20 years without really taking it seriously. No retreats, no special practices, just following the breath. I've read a variety of books: D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu, Gil Fronsdal. And probably more I can't remember right now. 

Right now I'm giving it another try and it seems to be going better than ever before. I get to the end of the time (I use one of those free apps) and instead of relief I feel like it was too short. After about six weeks, I'm up to 25 minutes a day (sometimes twice a day) but trying to increase slowly so I don't go overboard which I tend to do and then burn out.

Question: what's next and how do I know? There seem to be all kinds of other practices like noting and kasinas and so forth but where do I need to be before taking up those? And what is a logical second step? This sangha seems to be very much about advanced practices and attainments but I just need some advice on a step two as it were. 

Thanks
Bill


"beginners mind is the way"

step two is: return to step one

knowing is not knowing

t




“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
~socrates

Announcements Announcements