New Meditation Goal

The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 3:16 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 3:16 PM

New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
I've been seriously meditating since 2017 when I got "The Mind Illuminated" by Culadasa. I very quickly got to stage 4 (within a month or two) but then couldn't pass beyond that. My motivation to meditate has gone up and down, but for more days than not since then, I have meditated, and for the days I've meditated, more were for at least an hour or more than not. In fact, the first year I probably meditated barely missing any days, essentially all for an hour or more (up to 3 sometimes). It's pretty discouraging that I can't seem to fully overcome gross distraction, and I've tried to make sure my mindset has been positive regarding noticing and correcting for distraction, and labeling them (though I almost always use the label "thinking" as I can't quickly think of something better, alternatively I say what I was thinking about, but that might be getting into content a little too much, not sure). I also follow the breath and intend to notice subtle distractions before they become gross distractions, or ask my mind to be aware of all thoughts without getting into them, so I can correct it if it begins to trail off. I've used other techniques, as well.

I read a post in Daniel's post compilation regarding TMI, and I believe he said to get to the higher stages one must meditate 5-15 hours a day using that system. I read replies to his post and asked someone, and they gave push back saying they don't think that is true and that an hour or two should do it, but it seems to not have been the case for me so far, so maybe I'm one of those ones that requires that. There is almost no way I can possibly meditate 15 hours a day, at least right now, but I was thinking about dedicating myself to 5 hours a day by waking up in the morning at 5am, spending 30 minutes to get ungroggy, then doing 15 minutes of walking meditation, 1 hour of sitting meditation, 15 minutes of walking meditation, 1 hour of sitting meditation, which would then leave it at 8am and be 2 and a half hours so far. Then at 12 noon, I will do the same thing, getting another 2 and a half hours and ending on 2:30pm. This seems to be the easiest way I can think of to meditate 5 hours a day and still have a lot of time in the day to do things. I only work two days of the week, so on those days I will have to do something a little different, but I have a lot of free time at work when I'm not working the day shift (which won't be much longer) so I can meditate at work too. It will be a little less free time than I'm used to (I'm used to virtually infinite free time) but it should still be enough free time to do the other things I want to do. Do you guys think this is worth a shot? I felt pretty excited and enthusiastic when I thought about doing it, which derailed my meditation, lol.

If possible, encouragement would be nice, and also metta/prayers/magick to make sure I commit to it and don't give up. If I get to higher stages I might go back down to 1-3 hours if I feel I need the time, if I can master those stages enough to maintain them even with the lowered time, but might just keep it indefinitely, or indefinitely do 3 hours or something, not sure, we'll see. Whatever happens, I hope to keep the 5 hours for several months at least to see what happens. If I still fail to go beyond, I will either need some other kind of help or will have to somehow crank it up even more, I guess. Advice is also welcome, but mostly I'm looking for resolve, which is high right now in this moment, but I don't want it to fade. I really care about the higher meditative attainments and awakening, so there is a lot I'm willing to do if I have to, though many things will be very hard most likely, and I have a history of caring about things a lot not being enough for me to get myself to do the related things in the doses I say I will (namely with drawing).

Also a question, when he says it requires 5-15 hours to get to the higher stages, does that imply there are other meditation methods that get results with much less time? (Results such as jhanas and awakening) or is that just how it goes if you want those things (always needing to meditate 5-15 hours no matter what method you choose)?

Thanks guys.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 4:32 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 4:32 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 775 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I see that you specifically asked for encouragement and help to strengthen your resolve. I'm going to get to that. But first ... 5 to 15 hours a day outside of a formal retreat is very unusual. I would not recommend jumping from an hour to five hours as an early move. You can burn out pretty badly (physical and mental damage) that way. I would guess that, in most cases, it would be counterproductive. 

Now for the encouraging part...

People routinely get jhanas and awakening with much less than 5 hours a day. An hour to two hours a day, plus some retreats, is pretty standard for advanced practitioners. Half an hour to 40 minutes is a typical starting dose. It may take a while (like years) but so do most things, like learning an instrument, or a language, or a sport, or a profession. Awakening is generally not easier or faster than those things.

Things like joining a sangha, going on short retreats (or even long retreats), and working with a teacher are very good ways to support your practice. There are quite a few TMI teachers out there and The Dharma Treasure organization offers in-person and online retreats. These things are time-consuming and take money (which is another version of time-consuming) but you estimate that you have some time to devote to the path. 

To sum it up, my suggestion would be less volume and more support. 
The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 5:46 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 5:46 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
Ugh... I don't know what happened. I typed an entire post and hit publish, then it took me to the front page, and when I checked to see if it posted, it didn't. I don't know how to quote either, or if it will even ping someone.

I thanked you for your post and making me aware of the possibility of burnout, and for the encouragement of knowing it can be done with 1 to 2 hours a day and some retreats.

However I said I struggle to get to residential retreats so I may have to do an at home retreat, so wondered what you think of continuing with the 5 hours a day, but with the intention of it being a limited time and not my new normal. Daniel said something about if you have only 365 hours to meditate in a year, it is best to frontload that in the first month, or something, I don't remember his exact words or where to find it. But that basically is like 5 hours a day for the first month, I think, and I won't even go down to 30 minutes a day or whatever it would be after that, as I will still do 1-3 hours a day. I say 1-3 instead of 1-2 because I noticed it is the third meditation that my concentration noticeably improves, so maybe that is required for me to grow. My first two meditations are always about the same.

Anyway, now if I do it it will probably be a limited time, either until I get what I want out of it, a certain amount of time has passed (could be 5 days or a month or two, depends, I have to feel it out and see how I react to it), or I feel I am burning out so stop because of that.

I also asked if I consider it like an at home retreat, if I have to cut myself off from everything and everyone while doing it for it to have any effect. This would be stressful, but it is how residential retreats work, and I don't know if I would be wasting my time if I don't do that. My original intention was to still use the internet and talk to people, but if I'm not doing it forever I don't know if that works.

Also thanks for letting me know Dharma Treasure has online retreats. I hope they aren't too expensive. I'll have to see how they work if I'll be interested.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 6:26 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 6:26 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 775 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Keep in mind that I am only drawing off my own experience and what I have heard others report. I'm not a teacher, so don't put much stock in what I say. 

That said, why not give it a go and see how you like it? Have you already done some 5 hours days? If so, how did they go? 

People have very different experiences with meditation. You could be the time of person who thrives on 5 hour days, or you could find that your knees get sore. 
The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 7:27 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 7:25 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
Okay, I'll give it a shot.

In my first year of meditating, I tried an at home retreat, but I only managed to do like 4 or 5 hours a day for 3 days, but I had an afterglow anyway and it lasted a long time. If I can somehow do this for a month or more, I hope I get my old benefits back and then some. I got a lot of benefits from meditation in my first year that went away after my life became extremely stressful and I haven't seen them since, even when my life is less stressful again, but maybe it is because I need to do some more intense practice.

If I do happen to thrive on it, I think it would take about 4 years to get over 7k hours of meditation doing 5 hours a day, which I think was about the hours Frank Yang displays in his enlightenment video that he had around 3rd path. I'd have to check again. It's probably not a good habit to try and compare my own practice to someone else's, but it is inspiring and a goal to reach. If I'm not 3rd path by then it would be disappointing though, lol.

Alternatively can do 3 hours for 7 years , which would be easier to maintain, and closer to what Frank Yang probably did (I think he said somewhere he meditated 1-3 hours a day and did two 10 day goenka retreats.)

I think I put this in my first post that got deleted, but I asked if this place counts as having a sangha? I don't know if I can find one in real life where I live and I don't know where to go.

Also my knees wouldn't hurt since I sit in a chair. I have a meditation bench but I can't sit on it for more than 45 minutes without the pain being unbearable and my leg falling asleep. It is much easier to maintain good posture on though compared to a chair. I wish I could sit an hour on it without pain. Does it just take practice? Do your legs get used to it? Maybe not meditating on the floor is why I'm not enlightened yet /j
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Dream Walker, modified 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 7:41 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 7:41 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 1659 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
The Woofy Hermit
Hey dude
I've been seriously meditating since 2017 when I got "The Mind Illuminated" by Culadasa.
Seriously? what do you mean by that?
I very quickly got to stage 4 (within a month or two) but then couldn't pass beyond that.
Sorry I don't speak culadasaese, especially what YOU mean by stage 4.
My motivation to meditate has gone up and down, but for more days than not since then, I have meditated, and for the days I've meditated, more were for at least an hour or more than not.
In some generalized way, over time, I too have vaguely had motivation go up and down, an hour,  or more,or less, more or less. (Wink)

In fact, the first year I probably meditated barely missing any days, essentially all for an hour or more (up to 3 sometimes).
good on you.

It's pretty discouraging that I can't seem to fully overcome gross distraction, and I've tried to make sure my mindset has been positive regarding noticing and correcting for distraction, and labeling them (though I almost always use the label "thinking" as I can't quickly think of something better, alternatively I say what I was thinking about, but that might be getting into content a little too much, not sure). I also follow the breath and intend to notice subtle distractions before they become gross distractions, or ask my mind to be aware of all thoughts without getting into them, so I can correct it if it begins to trail off. I've used other techniques, as well.
sounds a bit kitchen sinky...toss more in, and be vague with each one so we can get a real good idea of what you're doing or not doing....

I read a post in Daniel's post compilation regarding TMI, and I believe he said to get to the higher stages one must meditate 5-15 hours a day using that system. I read replies to his post and asked someone, and they gave push back saying they don't think that is true and that an hour or two should do it, but it seems to not have been the case for me so far, so maybe I'm one of those ones that requires that. There is almost no way I can possibly meditate 15 hours a day, at least right now, but I was thinking about dedicating myself to 5 hours a day by waking up in the morning at 5am, spending 30 minutes to get ungroggy, then doing 15 minutes of walking meditation, 1 hour of sitting meditation, 15 minutes of walking meditation, 1 hour of sitting meditation, which would then leave it at 8am and be 2 and a half hours so far. Then at 12 noon, I will do the same thing, getting another 2 and a half hours and ending on 2:30pm. This seems to be the easiest way I can think of to meditate 5 hours a day and still have a lot of time in the day to do things. I only work two days of the week, so on those days I will have to do something a little different, but I have a lot of free time at work when I'm not working the day shift (which won't be much longer) so I can meditate at work too. It will be a little less free time than I'm used to (I'm used to virtually infinite free time) but it should still be enough free time to do the other things I want to do. Do you guys think this is worth a shot? I felt pretty excited and enthusiastic when I thought about doing it, which derailed my meditation, lol.
Link? RE:15 hours?
If possible, encouragement would be nice, and also metta/prayers/magick to make sure I commit to it and don't give up.

If I get to higher stages I might go back down to 1-3 hours if I feel I need the time, if I can master those stages enough to maintain them even with the lowered time, but might just keep it indefinitely, or indefinitely do 3 hours or something, not sure, we'll see.

Whatever happens, I hope to keep the 5 hours for several months at least to see what happens. If I still fail to go beyond, I will either need some other kind of help or will have to somehow crank it up even more, I guess.

Advice is also welcome, but mostly I'm looking for resolve, which is high right now in this moment, but I don't want it to fade. I really care about the higher meditative attainments and awakening, so there is a lot I'm willing to do if I have to, though many things will be very hard most likely, and I have a history of caring about things a lot not being enough for me to get myself to do the related things in the doses I say I will (namely with drawing).
I encourage you.
Hope you get higher, whatever that means to you.
Umm, ya. I guess too.

Also a question, when he says it requires 5-15 hours to get to the higher stages, does that imply there are other meditation methods that get results with much less time? (Results such as jhanas and awakening) or is that just how it goes if you want those things (always needing to meditate 5-15 hours no matter what method you choose)?
Perhaps you might Daniels book?

Thanks guys.
Good Luck,
~D
The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 8:36 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 8:36 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
Hey Dream Walker

By seriously meditating I mean doing it daily for a good time each day. Before then, I meditated every now and then (like a couple times a month if that) for like 5-20 minutes, with no idea of the real depth it could bring.

By stage 4, I mean through the majority of your sit more than 50% of your attention was on the breath (or whatever meditation object). The book states attention alternates at a rapid pace and that gives the illusion of focusing on more than one things at once. Basically it is spending more time on the meditation object than not.

Following the breath means intending to notice the beginning and endings of the in and out breath with higher clarity. Subtle distraction means your attention was on the distraction for less than 50%, gross distraction means it was on it for more than 50%.

It is in this thread Daniel says the 5-15 hour thing: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/6671448

I just recently finished reading MCTB, it took me a very long time. It was really interesting though. I reread the chapter on the 3 characteristics and he gives some practices in there. I think he said to do them a half hour or an hour, I forget easily. If he means to do each for that long a day, that adds up, if not, then it would not be long. I don't know if those were just starting times. I also wasn't sure if they involved noting or just noticing sensations (or if you do either or, depending).

Sorry for my vague post, I didn't think that people wouldn't know what I'm talking about for some reason, I took it for granted. I hope I clarified everything.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 8:40 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/2/24 8:40 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 775 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
It sounds like you are well-motivated and have a good idea of how to meditate. I think you are going to do well. 

I too have experienced big benefits (long afterglows) from days of long sitting. Some people can just hunker down and do that for ages and I am a bit jealous of them, but I find that even an ordinary one-hour-ish schedule has incredible benefits over time. I would say that seven days of one-hour sits is more powerful than two days of 3.5 hour sits. 

"If I'm not 3rd path by then it would be disappointing though, lol." That made me laugh. Partly because it was funny just as you meant it but also because of what Suzuki Roshi said (Enlightenment was my biggest disappointment). The ego will be disappointed whether or not you get the third path in four years, either for not achieving it, or for achieving it but not being there to see it :-)

My experience has been that a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach works well. Right now you want the benefits that you had a few years ago. If you describe those a bit, some people might be able to suggest how to get there again. That could be a nice, doable, medium-term goal.

This place is a bit of a sangha. But it's a weird one. We don't have an active teacher, we don't sit together, we don't study the same texts together. There are particular advantages to those sorts of practices, especially early on. Where do you live? Perhaps people here know of some sanghas hear you. There are also online zooms and so on. 

It's like anything else, the more ways you support your goal and reinforce what you are doing, the more likely you are to succeed quickly. 

I use a kneeling bench. It took a lot of practice, including mental practice, to get really comfortable for long sits. 
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Dream Walker, modified 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 5:45 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 5:45 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 1659 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
The Woofy Hermit
Hey Dream Walker
Thanks for your response!

By seriously meditating I mean doing it daily for a good time each day. Before then, I meditated every now and then (like a couple times a month if that) for like 5-20 minutes, with no idea of the real depth it could bring.
Ok, Cool enough, moving forward, find a time and place that works for you. I recommend 45 minutes 2 times a day as a good start. The important thing is quality over quantity as your daily habit/goto standard. While doing your sit (whatever that may be) train yourself to notice the sitting itself, check in on how stuff is going, notice how long it takes to do X, then how long it takes to do some other X. Most important, is figure out how long is optimal til you are just wasting time....on your habitual daily sits. Retreats are a whole different thing.

By stage 4, I mean through the majority of your sit more than 50% of your attention was on the breath (or whatever meditation object). The book states attention alternates at a rapid pace and that gives the illusion of focusing on more than one things at once. Basically it is spending more time on the meditation object than not.
I'm guessing by breath stuff you are working towards jhana. Try these, maybe 5 minutes each to start, find the dose that works.

Hack for 1st jhana - BREATH LESS game, how shallow can you make the breath, surf the very edge of uncomfortableness without gasping, take a longer breath anytime you want but dont gasp....that is the game.....how uncomfortable? just enough to focus your entire attention to this game. 
Hack for 2nd jhana - SWINGSET game, focus on the rise and fall of breath at your tummy. Remember how it feels at the top of the swing at the weightless pont where your tummy feels giddy. Cultivate that feeling as the breath at the tummy is the swing. Grow the ball of giddy/pleasure bigger and bigger at the end of the in or out point. (pick either, whatever works)

Following the breath means intending to notice the beginning and endings of the in and out breath with higher clarity. Subtle distraction means your attention was on the distraction for less than 50%, gross distraction means it was on it for more than 50%.
coolio

It is in this thread Daniel says the 5-15 hour thing: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/6671448
ahhh, got it...

I just recently finished reading MCTB, it took me a very long time. It was really interesting though.
Ya, most peeps I try to get to read it can not do it.

I reread the chapter on the 3 characteristics and he gives some practices in there. I think he said to do them a half hour or an hour, I forget easily. If he means to do each for that long a day, that adds up, if not, then it would not be long. I don't know if those were just starting times. I also wasn't sure if they involved noting or just noticing sensations (or if you do either or, depending).
Reread it again. Then again.....you will get a ton more out of it thhe 2-3 time. (sharpen the ax, then chop)

Sorry for my vague post, I didn't think that people wouldn't know what I'm talking about for some reason, I took it for granted. I hope I clarified everything.
Good luck
​​​​​​​~D
The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 7:38 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 7:37 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
"If I'm not 3rd path by then it would be disappointing though, lol." That made me laugh. Partly because it was funny just as you meant it but also because of what Suzuki Roshi said (Enlightenment was my biggest disappointment). The ego will be disappointed whether or not you get the third path in four years, either for not achieving it, or for achieving it but not being there to see it :-)
Trying to see if I'm quoting correctly, hope my post doesn't look silly. But happy to make people laugh, lol. That's interesting. I'm honestly kind of scared of these insights, but I feel I have to do it somehow, for some reason.

My experience has been that a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach works well. Right now you want the benefits that you had a few years ago. If you describe those a bit, some people might be able to suggest how to get there again. That could be a nice, doable, medium-term goal.
Meditation was like the best thing in the world for me and I was trying to get everyone to do it, lol. I took xanax for anxiety but I was able to stop because the calmness I felt from meditation was even better than xanax. I started feeling this childlike joy you get when you're a small kid again like all the time. I haven't felt that in a long time again. Everything was enjoyable so I could tolerate doing hard things, and taking walks in nature was just profoundly beautiful and enjoyable where usually I just get it over with for my health and am usually stuck in my head. I can't enjoy walks anymore again (though I don't have nearby nature anymore either unless I want to walk quite a bit further). I was constantly naturally coming up with solutions to problems in my life, which I had a lot as I had severe depression and avoidant personality disorder (still kind of do but it isn't as bad as it once was, thanks to meditation). I was also just very mindful so everything felt kind of surreal and cool, and I got exponentially better at video games. I don't feel that mindfulness feeling after most meditations anymore for some reason. I get it sometimes but then it can go away quickly. That's most of the benefits I think, I'm probably forgetting some. Learning how to get those back would be great. I'm also on medication I wasn't on back then, so I have this fear that maybe my medication prevents some of those feelings and dulls my mind. I want to stop taking some of it because I don't feel like it is doing any good for me anyway.

This place is a bit of a sangha. But it's a weird one. We don't have an active teacher, we don't sit together, we don't study the same texts together. There are particular advantages to those sorts of practices, especially early on. Where do you live? Perhaps people here know of some sanghas hear you. There are also online zooms and so on. 
I live in West Virginia. I'm not sure I'm comfortable giving the city I live in, though. There is the Bhavana Society in my state that I kind of want to go to sometime, but I don't have a car so can't really get around unless someone takes me, and it is about 3 hours away from where I am.

It's like anything else, the more ways you support your goal and reinforce what you are doing, the more likely you are to succeed quickly. 

I use a kneeling bench. It took a lot of practice, including mental practice, to get really comfortable for long sits. 
I hope to support it in a lot of ways, then. I said this in my first post that got deleted but think I forgot to in my new one, but I have seen a teacher online twice. They gave nice advice that I've been using, but I still feel like I make progress then go backwards again all the time. At the time of talking to him I felt very close to mastering stage 4 and now I do not. I was afraid they would run out of things to tell me and that nothing would help, but maybe I shouldn't underestimate how helpful a teacher can be. I see them again sometime later this month. It would be my third time seeing them (the first was in july and the second was in december. I want to start seeing them regularly)

And I see, I guess that might be like what I have. I thought it was just called a meditation bench, but yeah I sit on it kneeling. I've found multiple ways to sit on it and they have their pros and cons, but all ways make my leg or legs fall asleep. I might see if I can sit on it for a half hour a day or something and see if I slowly get used to it and have it stop making my legs fall asleep.

Ok, Cool enough, moving forward, find a time and place that works for you. I recommend 45 minutes 2 times a day as a good start. The important thing is quality over quantity as your daily habit/goto standard. While doing your sit (whatever that may be) train yourself to notice the sitting itself, check in on how stuff is going, notice how long it takes to do X, then how long it takes to do some other X. Most important, is figure out how long is optimal til you are just wasting time....on your habitual daily sits. Retreats are a whole different thing.
Right now I sit for at least an hour, and am just recently trying to multiple times a day instead of once. I think it is about the perfect time, as my focus will be one level then go down somewhere around the 45 to 55 minute mark, so I think it gives just enough time to try to grow and stretch my concentration out longer. Then some sits are the opposite and idk what I'm doing for most of it, then at the end suddenly I'm doing pretty good.

Quality over quantity sounds good, so I try to be dilligent and make sure I'm not just sitting not even trying. I want retreat quantity at some point though so that's why I might do 5 hours a day, for at least 5 days if I can manage. Not all in one sit, though, that would probably not go well. It just seems really productive to me if I can get like basically 5 days worth of meditation in a day, that sounds like it has to invoke some sort of progress, and Daniel seems to agree.

I'm guessing by breath stuff you are working towards jhana. Try these, maybe 5 minutes each to start, find the dose that works.

Hack for 1st jhana - BREATH LESS game, how shallow can you make the breath, surf the very edge of uncomfortableness without gasping, take a longer breath anytime you want but dont gasp....that is the game.....how uncomfortable? just enough to focus your entire attention to this game. 
Hack for 2nd jhana - SWINGSET game, focus on the rise and fall of breath at your tummy. Remember how it feels at the top of the swing at the weightless pont where your tummy feels giddy. Cultivate that feeling as the breath at the tummy is the swing. Grow the ball of giddy/pleasure bigger and bigger at the end of the in or out point. (pick either, whatever works)
That's all very interesting, thanks. I'll try those.

Reread it again. Then again.....you will get a ton more out of it thhe 2-3 time. (sharpen the ax, then chop)
Okay, I'll read it again sometime. I need a break first though, reading is quite exhausting for me as I have this issue where I have to read the same sentence like 7 times before I understand it. It's quite a long chapter.

Hey, quoting worked, I figured it out. Cool
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 8:08 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 7:58 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 1647 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
The Woofy Hermit
...

Also a question, when he says it requires 5-15 hours to get to the higher stages, does that imply there are other meditation methods that get results with much less time? (Results such as jhanas and awakening) or is that just how it goes if you want those things (always needing to meditate 5-15 hours no matter what method you choose)?

Thanks guys.


I am not familiar with TMI but from your post I think you are too focused making progress with the technique and reaching higher stages and that is distracting you from what is needed to make real progress. I think you should probably try a different style of meditation.

In my opinion it is best to do both samatha and vipassana type practices. Both practices teach you how to let go of attachments in a different way and you need to learn both to make the best progress. It doesn't really matter what technique you use, you can use most techniques to quiet the mind (samatha) and then to observe the mind (vipassana). But observing how the breath feels as it moves in and out of the nose is a good way to quiet the mind. Do this mindfully, not trying to stamp out distracting thoughts: not pushing anything away but also not getting carried away.  Relaxing meditation is also good. Then observing the activity of the mind is a good way to do vipassana.

You don't have to reach a certain stage with samatha before you do vipassana. Just use your own judgement about how to split your time between the two. 

I find it is helpful to understand what you are trying to do when you do vipassana.
I have some posts on my blog that outline some of the observations that I think are helpful.
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/12/do-buddhists-believe-in-soul.html
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/05/observing-mind.html
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/10/perceptual-shifts-caused-by-meditation.html

So my advice is not to get distracted by stages and states etc etc just quiet the mind and then watch now it works, how suffering arises and how the ego the sense of self is involved in suffering.  

Also try to practice mindfulness in daily life. You don't have to use a technique for that, just be aware of what you are doing as you are doing it - not pushing away mental activity but also not getting carried away by it.. Or you can do noting in daily life or some other kind of technique if you want.
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2023/07/practicing-mindfulness-in-daily-life.html

Also, my advice is not to measure progress by what happens during meditation. Measure progress by what happens in daily life. Are you suffering less, are you less egocentric? You don't need any of those states to make progress.

https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/
As Ajahn Chah described them, meditative states are not important in themselves. Meditation is a way to quiet the mind so you can practice all day long wherever you are; see when there is grasping or aversion, clinging or suffering; and then let it go. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 10:29 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 10:29 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 2710 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"Reread it again. Then again.....you will get a ton more out of it thhe 2-3 time. (sharpen the ax, then chop)"

emoticon Ha! Or you can do it my way; keep chopping with a dull axe for years then get utterly burned out and then roll up the mat and disappear for several years just to return again and this time sharpening the axe and then chop and do it right! emoticon emoticon 
The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 3:59 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 10:43 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
Thanks for all the links and advice.

I try not to strive in individual meditations and just do the technique. It is just when looking back at a month of meditating I am kind of disappointed my skill is about the same.

I'll think about mixing vipassana with my shamatha, though I am a little scared to without jhanas or just good shamatha in general as I heard the dark night is harder if you don't have something like that to relax in, and I just have this feeling my personality type is such to be subject to very bad dark nights. We'll see.

What's an okay amount of vipassana to do daily to cross the Arising and Passing Away? It doesn't require retreat?

I am noticing I'm a little less reactive since getting my habit really solid again, I think. The benefits are more subtle than they used to be, though. If I up my game for even a short amount of time, I think it will get better though. If not, well at least it is going okay as it is minus the stagnation.

I haven't read those links yet as I don't have time to right now as I have group soon, but I will later. So sorry if a question I asked was already answered in one of them.

Good luck Papa Che Dusko

Also yes, I'll try to be more mindful in daily life. I forgot to mention that. I maybe don't try hard enough in the realm so maybe that's holding me back.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 9:39 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/3/24 9:39 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 775 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
The quotes look great. You are nailing it!

The benefits of meditation that you describe sound great. They also sound reasonable as benefits to work towards having again. Especially the walks in nature. I have only been to West Virginia once, and that was twenty years ago but I can still see the scenery in my mind's eye. That's very rare for me, but those beautiful greens and the endless hills have stayed fresh all this time. It sounds like this period included a mix of activities beyond just meditation, so maybe some of those things, like walks in nature and video games can be part of your overall goals. 

The Bhavana Society is Bante G's place. I have so much respect for him. The second meditation book that I read was Mindfulness in Plain English. That might be the book that had the greatest impact on my life. But three hours is far! May practice groups welcome zoom participants these days. I was a member of a Zen group and an Insight Meditation Society group which both had zoom options. My guess is that there are thousands of sanghas that you could join by zoom. The Dharma Overground is not a sangha in that sense, but it does allow for something other groups do not: meditation logs! I would really recommend starting a log and reading other people's logs. It's also a good way to get advice when you are stuck. 

I'm happy to hear you are working with a teacher. That has been super useful for me. Like you, I just met with my teacher (Nick Grabavac) every few months. 

About the bench. I found it was helpful to put an extra cushion under my bum to reduce the amount of bend in my knees. 

Some of the most useful advice that I have received is to have fun with practice, to be diligent but also playful. The path is not a straight road along which we can march, passing well-marked milestones on the way to a known destination. It's more like exploring a vast forest, with trails that are sometimes clear and sometimes grow faint and even disappear at times, all leading to slightly different places. As we explore, we can shout back and forth to each other, describing the view from where we are, and the way we got there. It's great to hear about what others have seen but don't let eagerness to reach some fabled spot take your attention away from the scenery that surrounds you as you go. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 3:43 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 3:41 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 2710 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"I am kind of disappointed my skill is about the same. 

I'll think about mixing vipassana with my shamatha, though I am a little scared to without jhanas or just good shamatha in general as I heard the dark night is harder if "

You already mention what's actually going on and what needs investigation in form of Noting what's actually happening. In this case there is this feeling and sense of disappointment with not being good enough. Look at this! Look at the building blocks of this entire experience! 
First what are the body sensations associated with this experience? What is the feeling tone of this experience? Are there any other mind images accompanying this? The narrative is noted as "thinking". You keep noting all this until it's totally gone and replaced by another thing. Maybe a plan to eat something? Now investigate and unpack this experience of being hungry! Same way; body sensations associated with it. Feeling tone of the experience. Mind images. Thinking. 

Then next experience ... one after the other ... 

The more you get to enjoy such investigation the more you buy into it and mind gets instantly concentrated thanks to the joy of investigation. This is Khanika Samadhi and worked for me very nicely. 

Best wishes to you emoticon 
The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 5:51 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 5:48 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
The quotes look great. You are nailing it!
Thank you

The benefits of meditation that you describe sound great. They also sound reasonable as benefits to work towards having again. Especially the walks in nature. I have only been to West Virginia once, and that was twenty years ago but I can still see the scenery in my mind's eye. That's very rare for me, but those beautiful greens and the endless hills have stayed fresh all this time. It sounds like this period included a mix of activities beyond just meditation, so maybe some of those things, like walks in nature and video games can be part of your overall goals. 
There are some really beautiful places here. Where I used to live was pretty nice like that, I would walk alongside a river and there would be trees on both sides of the road that cars barely drove on so it was peaceful. I moved though and where I live now, the immediate area isn't very nice. If I wanted to walk an hour or two or something, I could walk back to where I used to live, but I'm not used to walking for that long. I maybe should try though as others do, and I want to be healthier. I should try jogging too maybe, when I had those benefits I was exercising a good bit too. I just recently started exercising again with a jumprope and lifting weights. Oh yeah, in the summer that place by the river at night would be filled with fireflies/lightning bugs and there are no street lights so it is completely dark except for them, it is really cool.

The Bhavana Society is Bante G's place. I have so much respect for him. The second meditation book that I read was Mindfulness in Plain English. That might be the book that had the greatest impact on my life. But three hours is far! May practice groups welcome zoom participants these days. I was a member of a Zen group and an Insight Meditation Society group which both had zoom options. My guess is that there are thousands of sanghas that you could join by zoom. The Dharma Overground is not a sangha in that sense, but it does allow for something other groups do not: meditation logs! I would really recommend starting a log and reading other people's logs. It's also a good way to get advice when you are stuck. 
I should give that book a try then. And what is a meditation log? What goes in them, where can I find them, and where would I make that thread?

I'm happy to hear you are working with a teacher. That has been super useful for me. Like you, I just met with my teacher (Nick Grabavac) every few months.
Cool. My teacher is Ollie Bray. He works on donations so I just pay him a little when I can but sometimes I can't and he's okay with that.

Thanks for the advice. Meditation has been pretty fun lately. Before november it wasn't fun and I couldn't get myself to sit, I would always meditate laying down, which would make me sleepy so the meditation was worthless. Now it is easy to sit for some reason, at least in a chair. I might start doing 30 minute visualization practice on the bench to get used to it and if I do switch my meditations to the bench.

The more you get to enjoy such investigation the more you buy into it and mind gets instantly concentrated thanks to the joy of investigation. This is Khanika Samadhi and worked for me very nicely. 

Best wishes to you emoticon 
Thank you for the advice, I will try it out. Does that make my samatha meditation both samatha and vipassana? Is that possible to do? It seems vipassana can also increase concentration though so it sounds like it helps with samatha too, so it should be worth doing. I meditate multiple times a day since the 31st of december, so I will use at least one, or part of one, for pure vipassana, if I can manage to figure out doing it correctly since I'm new to it. As things improve I will add more vipassana.

It sounds kind of exciting, I wonder what mind and body insight stage feels like. On one hand I feel I do see thoughts as thoughts and body sensations as body sensations, all as objects, but that might just be an intellectual understanding of mine and not experiential. I assume there is something more intense about mind and body, maybe. I could be wrong. I fear it will be hard for me to tell where I am at on the progress of insight, but maybe it won't be. Sorry for the rambling, I just have lots of thoughts about this. Time to investigate those, I suppose.

Best wishes to you all. I'm grateful for all your interactions with me and help and conversation.
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Sha-Man! Geoffrey, modified 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 6:03 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 6:03 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 351 Join Date: 10/30/23 Recent Posts
If you do end up visiting Bhavana in the next month or two, come say hi! 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 8:35 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 8:33 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 2710 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"Sorry for the rambling, I just have lots of thoughts about this. Time to investigate those, I suppose. "

emoticon Indeed! Vipassana-Samatha go hand in hand. They work as one. 

Looking/focusing at a matter of fact experience is Shamatha and clearly comprehending/knowing this experience is vipassana. Easy. 

Now you keep at it during your sit and get into a tempo. Maybe 2 or 3 noted/labelled matter of fact experiences per second. It's ok if you do it on the same experience like the in and outbreathing body sensations. Just keep the tempo for 45 minutes of your sit. Then off cushion relax and bliss out. On cushion awaken, paying attention to the matter of fact arising exoerience, 2-3 sensations a second. Even 1 sensation a second is ok when starting. See how it goes. No right or wrong here. Just what goes well at this time. Welcome the arising experiences with loving acceptance. What ever those are. And keep logging here so people can point out if you are biking the wrong way emoticon 

​​​​​​​Best wishes! 

p.s. I'm also sorry for rambling too much emoticon 
The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 9:47 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 9:47 AM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
If you do end up visiting Bhavana in the next month or two, come say hi! 
Oh sure, if I do I will. You live there?
emoticon Indeed! Vipassana-Samatha go hand in hand. They work as one. 

Looking/focusing at a matter of fact experience is Shamatha and clearly comprehending/knowing this experience is vipassana. Easy. 

Now you keep at it during your sit and get into a tempo. Maybe 2 or 3 noted/labelled matter of fact experiences per second. It's ok if you do it on the same experience like the in and outbreathing body sensations. Just keep the tempo for 45 minutes of your sit. Then off cushion relax and bliss out. On cushion awaken, paying attention to the matter of fact arising exoerience, 2-3 sensations a second. Even 1 sensation a second is ok when starting. See how it goes. No right or wrong here. Just what goes well at this time. Welcome the arising experiences with loving acceptance. What ever those are. And keep logging here so people can point out if you are biking the wrong way emoticon 

​​​​​​​Best wishes! 
Thank you for the advice and information. And oh okay, so use this thread as my log?

I've meditated 2 and a half hours so far today. First 15 minutes of walking meditation, then I tried a kasina sit since it was dark outside still. I used a blue crystal ball with a puck light behind it. I had to look at it for a long time to get a decent afterimage, but either way it would last a long time and transform into things. I started getting really restless though and switched to just focusing on the breath for the last 20 minutes. I realized I was sleepy still, so I drank tea and exercised, then did the same thing except no kasina this time. I was highly distracted during basically all of it, and still sleepy. I tried investigating the feelings of disappointment and frustration of my distraction. I also tried to be happy that I realized I was distracted. I realized it a lot, but would fall back into it almost immediately. I have a slight fear I'm training my mind to be distracted, and do not know why it is worse than normal. December I was having a good focus for 30+ seconds at a time, instead of 2-5 seconds like now, and correcting much faster in december too.

I need to go grocery shopping later today and I don't know when that will be because it relies on someone else taking me when they have time, but I will probably do my next meditations after I've done that, if they take me. Usually the third hour goes better, so we'll see. Then I will try just vipassana for the last sit, or at least the later half of the last sit. We'll see how that goes.

I'm not sure how often I should log. After today, like once a week and summarize my practice up until then? What do other people do?
Martin, modified 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 12:49 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 12:49 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 775 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I checked out Ollie Bray. He looks good. I think it is good to work with people who have accreditation as teachers from reputable organizations, and Ollie has several. It is important because, unlike random people on the Internet like me, he has been trained in what kind of things to pay attention to when giving advice and who is likely to benefit from certain approaches. He also uses more than one technique and has undergone more than one training. People can really get tunnel vision when it comes to dharma. Working with someone who has shopped around is likely to be a safe choice.

If you like working with him, I would consider letting him guide you in some of your meditation choices for a while. With so many options out there, it's easy to bounce around without getting much traction in anything. Many techniques require long periods in which little advancement can be seen. Sometimes, the lack of advancement, or boredom, or discomfort itself is the teaching. In those cases, if we leave at those moments and try something else, our efforts might be squandered. A teacher will know this and can tell you whether you should just keep going or whether it actually would make sense to try something new. 

Logs can take many formats. Just go to https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/category/2658626 and read a few, then start a new thread and start recording your own. If you are looking for feedback on something, it's sometimes a good idea to mention that in the log entry.

All in all, I think you are primed for success. You have had great success in the past, so you know it is possible to gain benefits, you have a teacher, you have motivation, and you have a quasi-sangha here. Go for it!
The Woofy Hermit, modified 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 7:03 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 1/4/24 7:03 PM

RE: New Meditation Goal

Posts: 30 Join Date: 8/16/21 Recent Posts
Thank you very much Martin. I'm glad Ollie looks good to you. I'll check those boards out later, and make one myself sometime. I'm glad you think I can succeed. Let's see what happens

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