- A cry for help, and discussion of faith in practice -

Doctor Gonzo, modified 5 Months ago at 6/28/22 7:46 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/28/22 7:46 PM

- A cry for help, and discussion of faith in practice -

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/28/22 Recent Posts
Hey everyone, this is my first post on here, though I've been scrolling through this forum for a good 6 months now, so its a pleasure to finally emerge from the shadows and introduce myself to this community.

I have been meditating for a solid 2 years now close to every single day.  On and off for about 4 years in total to get a scope of my commitment to practice. My efforts as of late have been largely orbiting around the practice of Shamatha, both with and without an object, in (what started as) an earnest attempt to hone my concentration power.

Recently though I've been struggling to find solid footing with my practice, I've never experienced anything like this in my years of practicing but i feel completely foundationless in my meditative pursuits.. often unmotivated (but motivated at the same time yet I wouldnt be here?), struggling to concentrate for long periods, self doubt and lack of faith in the practice are recurring. I've wondered if this is a kind of lonliness expressed through the practice of not having a sangha or mentor to guide me on my path.

Anyway I'll just leave this here, any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 5 Months ago at 6/29/22 12:03 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/29/22 12:03 PM

RE: - A cry for help, and discussion of faith in practice -

Posts: 370 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
A basic foundation in counteracting the 5 hindrances and developing the seven factors of awakening can be developed. 

The cause of awakening is the seven factors.

So developing the factors of awakening is a direct path to awakening. 

I am sorry to hear you've had such trouble finding a foothold in your practice. Sometimes with the information overload we have with spiritual ideas these days it can be hard to get a feel for the basic qualities of mind that are leading toward awakening.

That's why I teach based on core skills like 7 factor cultivation and 5 hindrance elimination. You clear the obstacles to the mind and the mind awakens.  A teacher is useful to lay a basic strategy for good mind states to cultivate and how to do so, regardless of the practice. A teacher can draw from experience and point out things you might miss. And simply having someone you feel is qualified to listen to you ramble about stuff. If they have had that stuff happen also it is therapeutic for people to talk about it to someone who understands what they are going through.

As a teacher i don't really do much other than act as a mirror and a compass. The student is the one on the ground in their life, the teacher is there as a lighthouse and a guide. 
T DC, modified 5 Months ago at 6/29/22 6:55 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/29/22 6:49 PM

RE: - A cry for help, and discussion of faith in practice -

Posts: 477 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Feeling lost on the path is a pretty normal stage honestly, and one that provides can provide an opportunity for growth.  Exploring the difference available teachings and practices can sometimes help spark new inspiration and motivation.

What are your goals for meditation, and what kind of teachings do you follow now? ​​​​​​​

A sangha can definately be helpful in providing a feeling of meditative community, particularly if you can find one that aligns with your goals and inclinations in practice.  
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 6/29/22 10:59 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/29/22 10:32 PM

RE: - A cry for help, and discussion of faith in practice -

Posts: 1215 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Doctor Gonzo
Hey everyone, this is my first post on here, though I've been scrolling through this forum for a good 6 months now, so its a pleasure to finally emerge from the shadows and introduce myself to this community.

I have been meditating for a solid 2 years now close to every single day.  On and off for about 4 years in total to get a scope of my commitment to practice. My efforts as of late have been largely orbiting around the practice of Shamatha, both with and without an object, in (what started as) an earnest attempt to hone my concentration power.

Recently though I've been struggling to find solid footing with my practice, I've never experienced anything like this in my years of practicing but i feel completely foundationless in my meditative pursuits.. often unmotivated (but motivated at the same time yet I wouldnt be here?), struggling to concentrate for long periods, self doubt and lack of faith in the practice are recurring. I've wondered if this is a kind of lonliness expressed through the practice of not having a sangha or mentor to guide me on my path.

Anyway I'll just leave this here, any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou.

Do you find that you get some benefit from your practice? In my opinion the benefit you get today should justify the effort you put in to it today. I practice meditation because it helps me relax and elevates my mood, and makes me more resiliant to stressful situations. I want to do it because life is stressful and is full of difficulties. Meditation improves my well being. When I meditate, I feel "in tune", when I lose that feeling I want it back and I know how to get it back.


And/Or besides the daily benefits from meditation, the motivation to practice may also come from your desire to attain a longer term purpose.

In that case, you should have an understanding of how the practice works to accomplish what it is supposed to accomplish in the long term. Then, if you want to attain that purpose, you KNOW what you have to do to attain it, and if you want it bad enough you do the practice. In that situation if you don't practice it is because you don't want attainment enough to do the practice. Maybe if you found a different practice that you liked to do more, you would practice more.

I wrote this on reddit recently:
https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/vi5e23/how_do_you_study_the_path_to_streamentry/iddkpkh/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

I suggest you try to find a mechanism that produces stream entry and then when you understand how it works you can do whatever practice will provide the necessary conditions. In that case you don't have to stick to a specific practice you can just pick one from a category of practices - which ever one appeals to you at the time.

There are various mechanisms that can work, I'll suggest one below to illustrate what I mean but if you prefer something else that is fine.

A very common mechanism for producing awakening is to first quiet the mind with one kind of practice and then to observe it with another type of practice.

To quiet the mind you can use relaxation exercises, relaxing forms of walking meditation, meditation on the breath, yoga, tai-chi, qi-gong or any other type meditation that is relaxing. One thing to watch out for is that you don't use the technique to suppress thoughts and emotions. The concentration should not be intense you don't want to drive away thoughts and emotions, you should be aware of them as they arise, notice them clearly, then go back to the focus of the practice.

When the mind is calm, shift your focus from relaxing and quieting the mind to observing the activity of the mind using some type of meditation that involves observing the mind like insight meditation or mahamudra meditation. Notice when something interferes with the relaxed tranquility of your calmed mind - learn to notice when emotions arise. This is often accompanied by some physical sensation in the body. Learn to notice these sensations. Notice that thoughts emotions impulses sensations self-concepts arise fully formed in the mind, you don't see how they are selected or created or formed, they just pop in from nowhere. You didn't ask for them, they are not yours, they are not you. But they are trying to tell you a story involving yourself, a story about good and bad, liking and disliking, scary or safe, etc etc. But these thoughts and emotions are not really yours, you don't have to believe these stories. Try to cultivate a perspective of a detached observer of your mind that does not reject what arises in it and does not get carried away by it either. At the same time understand that this "observer" is just another product of your mind it's not really you either.

Practicing in daily life is just a helpful as practicing in formal sitting meditation so try to stay relaxed during the day and watch the activity in your mind. If you find you lose the calm tranquility try to find time to restore it if you can.


This post also discusses "how it works"
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/24003868
Doctor Gonzo, modified 5 Months ago at 6/30/22 1:20 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/30/22 1:11 AM

RE: - A cry for help, and discussion of faith in practice -

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/28/22 Recent Posts
Sigma Tropic
A basic foundation in counteracting the 5 hindrances and developing the seven factors of awakening can be developed. 

The cause of awakening is the seven factors.

So developing the factors of awakening is a direct path to awakening. 

I am sorry to hear you've had such trouble finding a foothold in your practice. Sometimes with the information overload we have with spiritual ideas these days it can be hard to get a feel for the basic qualities of mind that are leading toward awakening.

That's why I teach based on core skills like 7 factor cultivation and 5 hindrance elimination. You clear the obstacles to the mind and the mind awakens.  A teacher is useful to lay a basic strategy for good mind states to cultivate and how to do so, regardless of the practice. A teacher can draw from experience and point out things you might miss. And simply having someone you feel is qualified to listen to you ramble about stuff. If they have had that stuff happen also it is therapeutic for people to talk about it to someone who understands what they are going through.

As a teacher i don't really do much other than act as a mirror and a compass. The student is the one on the ground in their life, the teacher is there as a lighthouse and a guide. 

I havent really looked into these concepts before so I'm excited to see what they can offer me, and thankyou everyone for you're incredibly helpful responses!
Ben Sulsky, modified 5 Months ago at 6/30/22 10:47 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 6/30/22 10:47 AM

RE: - A cry for help, and discussion of faith in practice -

Posts: 157 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
I try and do a faith + empiricism combo.  So say I'm doing a new concentration practice that I'm drawn to and have carefully considered. I might say OK, I'm going to do 300 hours of practice on this thing.  During that 300 hours I'm going to do minimal thinking about whether this is a good idea or not, other than being mindful about what's going on to the degree it increases my skill executing the practice.  

Once the 300 hours are over I'll check in with what's changed in my practice, what I've learned or not learned and answer all of the meta questions about whether continuing to do this thing is a good or not good idea.

If, more broadly, practicing meditation in general doesn't seem good, just stopping for awhile seems like the obvious thing.  I'm a pluralist about values so I don't think there's any reason to practice unless it's good for you.  Likely there's some tension between some intellectual beliefs or long term goals you have surrounding practice and the intuitive experience of practice not being good at the moment.  Some space might help let that breathe and eventually dissolve the tension.

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