RE: Getting rigor in practice: many styles in a day or pick one for longer?

Nick N, modified 2 Months ago at 12/26/22 11:32 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/26/22 11:32 AM

Getting rigor in practice: many styles in a day or pick one for longer?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/27/22 Recent Posts
Hello!

I just returned from a one-week vipassana retreat at one of the large insight retreat centers in the US. One of the things I took away from the week was the idea that I need to bring more "practice" into my practice: i.e. not just sitting and cultivating awareness, but picking a methodology and going deeper. Working directly with hindrances by applying 'antidotes' was very productive and I'd like to explore that realm more.

So, I want to bring more rigor into my practice. I'm thinking of doing explicitly shamatha, Mahasi-style noting, brahmavihara, and hindrance practice. My question is, does it make more sense to pick one and commit to it fully for weeks or months? Or does it make sense to have a concentration sit in the morning, noting practice in the afternoon, and metta before bed?

Thanks very much for the feedback!

For context, over this last year, I usually sit for two thirty-minute sessions a day. I've done two week-long vipassana retreats. Over the last six months, I've been mostly cultivating spacious awareness, general mindfulness, and body awareness—nothing fast or precise like noting. My references are Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas for concentration, Practical Insight Meditation for noting, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness for metta, and Unhindered by Gil Fronsdal for hindrances. I'm also curious about contemplative and view-based practices like those from Ken McLoud and Rob Burbea.
Adi Vader, modified 2 Months ago at 12/27/22 6:45 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/27/22 6:45 AM

RE: Getting rigor in practice: many styles in a day or pick one for longer?

Posts: 204 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Concentration practice develops the stillness of mind that help insights sink in deeper.
If meditating in the range of an hour everyday and new to practice in general it makes a lot of sense to split time between concentration and insight in the ratio of 80:20. If meditating in the range of 2 hours or more everyday, or if you already have a daily practice for mutliple months then a ratio of 50:50 makes more sense. You can split between sessions - 1 session dedicated to concentration and the other to insight.

In concentration practice as well as insight practice have a clear idea of what are the markers of skill (skill map), what are the techniques you are using. plan a particular practice program for a period of 2 weeks (for example) simply execute your practice program and take brief notes on how the sit went vis a vis the instrcutions. Review your sit notes / logs every two weeks and on the basis of that make course correction for the the next 2 weeks.

Its good to be very structured, methodical. In order to do this its good to practice within a paradigm which has a skill map. If not, then use dharma theory to create one for yourself.

​​​​​​​Good luck. 
Nick N, modified 2 Months ago at 12/27/22 11:50 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 12/27/22 11:50 AM

RE: Getting rigor in practice: many styles in a day or pick one for longer?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/27/22 Recent Posts
Thank you Adi, this is great advice. I like the two-week practice plan idea and reviewing it before moving on. I can definitely think of some skill maps to track progress on.

​​​​​​​Metta.

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