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Early pointers for beginners

Early pointers for beginners
beginning advice
10/17/13 7:46 AM
I am at the very beginning of my practice (30 sittings, 20 minutes
max.) and having a very shallow theoretical understanding yet. A lot
of learning and practice is ahead of me, but my values and mindset are
in good general agreement with this community (to the extent of my
current understanding).

I would be very thankful for any very early pointers especially on the
practice side. I've compiled a list of books recommended by Daniel
Ingram and users on this forum, but book suggestions are welcome too,
especially those I could benefit from at my current level.

What would you advice yourself if you could go back and talk to
yourself in your very first month of practice.

Thank you very much! I realize that the forum is primarily for
advanced practitioners, but I hope this question is not completely

RE: Early pointers for beginners
10/17/13 9:49 AM as a reply to Rob Dijs.
As a fellow beginner:
- don't read too much, do some reading just for inspiration. you won't be able to relate to the stuff from the books anyway without some practice. Better sit.
- "meditate" off the cushion. do noting while walking/traveling; short breaks mid day to check your breath/position (this will make you more aware of your condition while engaged in some activities)
- "getting it" and "doing it" are two very different things (like: i know how lotus position looks like, but to actually sit in that position takes a lot of training)
- from books I've read recently I liked "A path with heart" and "Hardcore zen"

RE: Early pointers for beginners
10/17/13 11:09 AM as a reply to Rob Dijs.
IMHO, the best way to begin is to do a 10 day Vipassana retreat. I do not recommend to start on your own simply by reading books as it can be unsafe, you need to have a teacher to guide you. A 10 day course will give you a jump start into understanding of Dharma. If you're keen on doing things on your own, read "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" by Ajahn Brahm -

If I could go back and talk to myself, I'd just say well done.. because the way I see it, the truth is right here but we're unable to realize it due to our baggage of ignorance. There's nothing to do but to accept this fact and work towards reducing this baggage and subtler truths get revealed by themselves. As we go deeper in practice the teachings also become more profound and meaningful than we initially realize.

RE: Early pointers for beginners
10/17/13 10:33 PM as a reply to Rob Dijs.
This is a very good question, mindset is very important...

1) Your first person subjective experience of reality is the gold standard for reality within meditation.

In intellectual analysis he time we are used to taking the 1st person view for granted or looking at it like some fuzzy emotional stuff. While focusing on abstract 3rd person points of view.

However the reality of the situation is that our 3rd person obejctive perspective still depends on the 1st person perspective. So in meditaiton, spiritual Truth etc, it is best to focus on 1st person direct sensory experience of what is happening right now.

2) Realization is experiential, but it helps to get some intellectual understanding. Then actually look into at what part of your 1st person subjective exerperience doesn't match up and why.

3) Different practices will appeal to you and be effective at different stages in the process. Don't be too afraid to experiment in the medium - long term.

4) Don't hold to tightly to your view of reality. Your job is to deconstruct them. Not for the sake of deconstruction, but to reduce clinging and attachment (deconstruction is just a tool).

5) This forum is not just for advanced practitioners. Don't be afraid to move fast, and post things that may be stupid. Someone will correct you and you will learn. Or if you are right you can get some more confidence from the feedback.

These would be my principles. But you need to figure out what works best for you. All the best. emoticon

RE: Early pointers for beginners
10/18/13 2:50 AM as a reply to Rob Dijs.
It's a good idea to extend sitting periods to around 60 minutes. You can do this by adding five minutes every few days. Using a timer is also highly recommended.

As a beginner I found it hard to sit for longer periods and generally stopped after about 30 or 40 minutes, thinking that longer sits would come more naturally at later stages. But the fact is that it can take quite a while to become calm end get some concentration going in the beginning, so sitting longer makes a lot of sense especially in the early stages. You can do less or be more flexible about sitting time after you've got some momentum.

Also, investigate why sitting longer is hard. What changes after 20 minutes that makes you want to stop? How does that feel in the body? Can you just watch the sensations that appear when you want to stop practicing just as you watch all the other sensations that have come and gone before? ...

Best wishes

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