Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

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Diogo Kelles Fonseca, modified 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 3:12 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 3:12 PM

Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 17 Join Date: 6/25/15 Recent Posts
Hey ya'll

I've been on 3 10-days retreats of pure vipassana over the last few years and got fairly far on my progress, building strong concentration and experiencing a lot of intese stuff etc, but I barely got any practice off retreat due to a lack of discipline.

However, I seem to have fixed this problem, and been practicing 50m most days for almost 4 months now and its safe to say that it is now a habit... however, I can't for the life of me seem to be able to build concentration. I wish to build concentration before doing further progress in vipassana. I'm a ADHD adult on meds, who struggles mightly with dispersion and even on retreat, I'm constantly flooded with toughts. The difference is that the strong concentration on retreat can sort of 'fend the toughts off' or allow me to just stay with the object regardless of the toughtstream (attention bounces tought-object-tought-object kinda fast, but stays fairly more on the object). But off-retreat? Damn, my mind is wild and gets constantly caught in tought.

like, once or twice on the week, I feel some progress, wether I'm trying to go for some concentration (I feel I get into some light jhana territory) or insight practice (I feel I go back to some known vipassana territory), but most days, I just struggle with the toughtstream.

I mostly practice noting of the breath on the nosetrills while lying down. But the results are the same with few days I tried candle flame kasina, the difference is that with kasina I feel i make more progress, regardless of the penetrating toughtstream.

What I've tried:
- to put a lot of effort on trying to watch every single moment of every sensation of the breath.
- to try to focus on the intention of the concentration i'm putting on the breath.
- to put a gentle effort on the breath, as if i'm watching the breath from a far.
- to note the breath while watching pleasant body experiences (trying to do some samatha and failing).

That's basically it, I'm out of options on my book lol... those attempts all end up with me lost in tought everytime, and I'm really good at not being frustrated or angry and getting back at the exercise, but I feel that after 3 months I should be at least a little bit better? I made no progress whatsoever haha... Is that normal?

any feedback is apreciated! thank you friends.
shargrol, modified 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 4:58 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 4:58 PM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 2558 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
One approach would be to use thoughts as your concentration object. To do this, you note the general category of your thinking on every outbreath.

Worrying thought
Investigating thought
Judging thought
Prideful thought
Axious thought
Planning thought
Comparing thought
Waiting thought
etc.

Basically with noting practice you can use sensations or emotions or thoughts (or two or all three of these) as fuel for practice. 

What is interesting about this kind of practice is that eventually you find yourself without a lot of thinking.  It's almost like you give enough attention to thoughts as thoughts... and thoughts become less important and don't arise as much.So then you can note other aspects of your experience like calm, ease, peace and if thoughts or emotions go back to noting those too.

This kind of practice creates "vipassina jhanas" a kind of concentration state which is less momentary than vipassina but more alive than shamatha jhanas: 34. The Vipassana Jhanas – MCTB.org
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Chris M, modified 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 5:30 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 5:29 PM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 5327 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Here's a thought for you (pun intended). In reading your comment I grok a sort of over-reliance on striving, even in regard to your vipassana focus on objects. Given your situation I suggest slowing things down. Relax a bit. We can sometimes strive so hard to "get somewhere" that the struggle overwhelms the long term objective of learning how the mind works. Don't get lost in the forest. Take a few steps back and see what results from that.

Ignore this if you wish.
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 6:09 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 6:09 PM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 414 Join Date: 10/30/23 Recent Posts
I'm personally a big fan of breath counting for building up initial concentration. So breath noting comes in different types which end up being a different level of engagement for your brain. I've found a Goldilocks approach works best in my own practice, where you want to go for a strategy that is not too hard (or it will be frustrating) and not too easy (or your mind will start to wander), but when you have it just right it's like a fidgetspinner for your brain - it just gives it something repetitive but engaging to do and that helps calm things down. So I'd say in order from least engaging to most engaging, we have

  1. Not noting, just watching the breath
  2. In, out, in, out,... (noting in and out)
  3. In, In, In or Out, Out, Out (just noting in or out)
  4. 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, ..., 10, 10, 1,1, ...  (same count on in and out breath)
  5. 1, wait, 2, wait, 3, wait, ... 10, wait, 1, wait. Or wait, 1, wait 2, wait 3, ... wait 10, wait 1 (just counting in or out breath)
So it's worth playing around with these to see
Martin, modified 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 6:27 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/14/23 6:27 PM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 905 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
There are some good suggestions here. My suggestion would be to try those out and see what happens, then report back. There are a number of other techniques that have not been mentioned but, from what you have said, it sounds like having a giant pile of options to choose from might not be the best way to start out. If you let us know what worked and/or didn't work when you tried these suggestions, people might be able to focus in on what is most likely to fit with your style. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 7 Months ago at 12/15/23 1:19 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 12/15/23 1:19 AM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 2921 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Here is something that helped me tremendously and is from my teacher Kenneth Folk (also the last video is by Shinzen Young). 

Kenneth's videos are rather short but are very clear. 
https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLky8N7-NqOd95njMDZ3LD7-i24cqKmtQO&si=UkP9Qql5Zd1VL4cC

best wishes to you! 
Mathew Poskus, modified 6 Months ago at 12/28/23 4:25 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 12/28/23 4:25 AM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 230 Join Date: 10/24/15 Recent Posts
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dyUCvFlDL8w&t=252s&pp=ygUXQWphaG4gYnJhaG1hbGkgYmVnZ2luZXI%3D
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Months ago at 12/29/23 5:38 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 12/29/23 5:38 AM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 1759 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
read this-
​​​​​​​
link

good luck,
~D
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David Matte, modified 6 Months ago at 12/30/23 6:22 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 12/30/23 6:22 AM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 109 Join Date: 8/3/19 Recent Posts
Dear Diogo,

I have to say that I'm detecting you have a subtle craving (aversion) to your practice in how you wrote your post.

For example, you want there to be not so many thoughts, want it to improve, and have expectations that it should've improved by now.

Just remember that having any sort of craving in the mind will actually counter cultivating concentration/stability. Concentration actually comes about through relaxation. Having any sort of craving (even subtle) always agitates the mind , and the thoughts will increase.

The key to concentration is relaxation. Relaxation is really the big key. Relax the body and relax the mind. Don't hold any expectations how it should go. When I sit down to practice, I tell myself the only thing I have to do here is to relax.

Just put on a smile, relax deeply, and enjoy being with your breath, or whatever meditation object you use.
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Diogo Kelles Fonseca, modified 5 Months ago at 1/29/24 8:28 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 1/29/24 8:28 AM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 17 Join Date: 6/25/15 Recent Posts
I would like to thank you all for your advice... Like some of you mentioned, I think the craving to "progress" and "get better" is really geting on the way of actually relaxing and letting whatever happen happen... I'm actually having a relaxing experience now on my practice, feeling I'm really getting what Shamatha is all about... I also implemented the "count the breath to 10 3x" to build inicial concentration, like a fellow here suggested!<br /><br />Thanks a ton everybody!
Ben Sulsky, modified 5 Months ago at 1/29/24 9:51 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 1/29/24 9:51 AM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 170 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
I'm a big fan of meeting your mind and heart where it is, and then playing to your strengths when possible.  If you have an active mind that jumps around a lot, keeping up the noticing of that rapid activity can be a challenging and exciting concentration practice.  You can also try keeping up the noticing of the body, the noticing of pleasant or not pleasant, and the cause/effect relationships of sensations as you're noticing the rapidly moving thinking-feeling mind.  Should keep you busy! 
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Bruno Loff, modified 1 Month ago at 6/2/24 7:22 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 6/2/24 7:22 AM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 1097 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
I experienced the same until I learned how to do jhana in the way that is taught by Leigh Brasington. This new year's eve I did a 10-day meditation retreat focusing on learning jhana like he teaches. I read his book off retreat and then used this youtube playlist during retreat. I learned how to do the first four jhanas.

Since then meditation is quite pleasant and I have been doing it almost every day (I maybe missed 3 days out of 150).
Stranger_Loop Stranger_Loop, modified 1 Month ago at 6/4/24 12:31 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 6/4/24 12:31 PM

RE: Advanced practioner with VERY undeveloped concentration, pls help

Posts: 44 Join Date: 3/17/23 Recent Posts
I am an ADHD adult as well. I never got rid of thoughts but still made a lot of progress just trying to note and then notice or doing light kassina.

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