New-ish Concentration on breath Practitioner looking for further guidance

Maisam Abbas, modified 9 Months ago.

New-ish Concentration on breath Practitioner looking for further guidance

Posts: 42 Join Date: 2/28/21 Recent Posts
Hi All,

I am new here and to meditation in general, I have been practicing samatha using my breath as the object for about 2 years now and have seen great results so far. I started practicing mainly as a way to help reduce my anxiety and I can confirm that my anxiety today is 100s of times better than what it was a few years ago. I have gained pretty good insight into the nature of my thought patterns and how to dampen my anxiety and eliminate it simply by sitting and concentrating on my breath. My practice has helped me understand that I am not my thoughts, anxieties and emotions. That all phenomena come and go and that there is no need for me to suffer just because I am feeling anxiety or negative emotions in general. I think you might have noticed by now where I am going with this. I have read several books from various teachers on buddhism and meditation in general (inc. Daniel's MCTB2, which directed me to this forum), and I have become increasingly interested in furthering my practice into deeper and deeper understanding of reality. 

My practice so far has mostly been concentration on breath almost daily for 30-60 mins, depending on how much time I can find. It helps me greatly and I will forever be thankful to all the teachers that have helped me learn and practice this diligently so far. However, I have been trying to dabble more and more into vipassana but can't seem to pin down what works for me as I have been struggling to find my rhythm with the various practices I have tried. I have been trying the Sayadaw Noting practices in the last week or two but find myself stuck once my mind calms down to the point where there isn't much left to notice (where do I go from there). I can confirm that one of my biggest struggles always is battling sleepiness once my mind becomes calm enough, so noting starts off easier for me and gets harder and harder to focus on as it progresses and my mind calms down more and more. 

Should I instead stick with Samatha for longer as I am not even sure how many Samatha Jhanas I have experienced and can't even correctly identify them yet. But I have experienced some really blissful and rapturous states earlier in my practice which I can't replicate reliably (I try and not get attached to those experiences and have been practicing diligently but maybe at some deeper level I have been craving those states? i'm not sure)

Any feedback is welcome and please ask questions if you need me to clarify anything further.
Welcome!

It sounds like you have got a good thing going. I don't see any reason why you could not cultivate both Samatha and Vipassana at the same time. It's often recommended. On the Samatha side of things, you might want to check out Right Concentration by Leigh Brasington. It's written in a very straightforward way and gives nuts and bolts instruction for practicing the jhanas. I will let the many noting masters here cover the noting side of things. 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New-ish Concentration on breath Practitioner looking for further guidan

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing, is a method in its own right. It has a distinctive progress of insight. Read, "Mindfulness Of Breathing" by Bhikkhu Analayo for a thorough explanation of the methodology. 
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Josef Kyle Chan, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New-ish Concentration on breath Practitioner looking for further guidan

Posts: 72 Join Date: 6/16/20 Recent Posts
Hello ! Have you tried reading Practical insight meditation ? Basically the advice of Mahasi Sayadaw is return to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen after there is possibly nothing to note.  I mean even the sleepiness based on my understanding should be noted . Evertyhing can be a fuel for a noting practice . If you are interested in Vipassana I definitely recommend Practical insight meditation ( Free online ) or Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide by Analayo . You can also read Shargrol's blog which is full of advice and can give insight into your practice : https://shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html   . 
Maisam Abbas, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New-ish Concentration on breath Practitioner looking for further guidan

Posts: 42 Join Date: 2/28/21 Recent Posts
Thanks for the replies everyone.

@Martin Leigh Brasington's Right Concentration is definitely on my 'to read' list, I'll be sure to check it out soon.

@puentetaichi Thanks for the recommendation, i'll read it soon for sure.

@rainjk Thanks for the recommendations, I'll check those out.
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streamsurfer, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New-ish Concentration on breath Practitioner looking for further guidan

Posts: 97 Join Date: 1/19/16 Recent Posts
Since you can work towards concentration states already, you could start your sits with that. Whatever the time is you need to get into a solid absorption.
Then, if you want to continue your sit with doing vipassana/noting, you should do it systematically. (e.g. like described in Practical Insight Meditation, as mentioned)
Note the rising and falling of the abdomen if nothing special happens. If you notice other things, note that. Then return to your breath. 
Also note things like: boring, nothing happens, confusion, doubt, etc. Note everything which is in your experience. When noted, return to your breath.
Vipassana aims to investigate what is as what it is. Investigate it all emoticon
Also, if you can do a vipassana retreat - highly recommended. The nana cocktail the universe will present to you can be confusing sometimes.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: New-ish Concentration on breath Practitioner looking for further guidan

Posts: 1031 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
My approach is to use meditation (any meditation) to prepare the mind for the study of the origin and cessation of dukkah (2nd and 3rd noble truths).

Preparing the mind means to quiet the mental chatter and elevate the mood so it can better tolerate an honest investigation of dukkha (emotional pain).

Meditating on the breath does this, and metta, and jhana techniques can further elevate the mood.

Studying the origin and cessation of dukkha means to be mindful of the activity of your mind in meditation and daily life watching how emotional pain arises and how it ends.

Relaxation is an important part of the practice.

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