Shifts in Motivation

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Florian, modified 8 Years ago at 10/28/13 3:49 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/28/13 3:49 PM

Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hello Dharma Overground

it's been a while since I've been a regular contributor here. One reason is that I had other commitments which limited my spare online time. Another reason is that I didn't feel I had much to contribute.

I spent the last few days trying to catch up, but that's a daunting task. So I'm going to post this here, now, and if this has already been discussed in the past year or so, I hope you won't mind too much.

One idea that's been on my mind of late is that of using the motivation for practice as a macroscopic map in its own right (i.e. the maps about the big shifts rather than the maps about the individual cycles). Duncan Barford has written a little essay where he plays with that idea, it's in his "Handbook". He correlates the attitude towards meditation with the 4-Path map.

The thing is, the 4-path map doesn't do much for me. Maybe it's because I haven't experienced much of the territory it covers. Maybe it's because I'm not a retreat-trained meditator, and thus the territory presents itself to me differently. Whatever.

So the motivation to practice could be a metric which is less dependent on the circumstances - retreat or no retreat, vipassana or prayer or journalling, guided by a teacher or not...

Here are some distinct "stages" of motivation which I think I can discern in my own practice so far, looking back to childhood. "I practice because I'm..."
  • curious: as a kid, I liked doing mind games before falling asleep
  • obedient: a parent wanted me to do certain religious practices
  • desperate: praying every nicht for the health of a loved one as a kid
  • determined: starting a new practice because MCTB got me hooked
  • cornered: felt like I was not making progress, but unable to stop anyway
  • driven, hounded: progress was going way too fast, still unable to stop
  • luxurious: a kind of "I can stop any time I want", kind of like the childhood curiosity but with lots of competence
  • washing armpits, brushing teeth: I feel icky if I don't; like being driven but without the sense of being driven.


So does this resonate with anyone? How has your motivation to practice varied or shifted over the years?

Cheers,
Florian
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 8 Years ago at 10/28/13 6:27 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/28/13 6:27 PM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hey Florian,

It's good to read you again!
washing armpits, brushing teeth: I feel icky if I don't; like being driven but without the sense of being driven.
Yeah, I have to say, this one resonates right now. I was dropping off this stuff towards last spring and summer, just busy with moving and stuff, and a friend who is currently very studious just motivated me naturally to dig in simply by describing their practice and efforts.

So in September and October some DhOers drop in and out of a google hangout morning and night, which Bruno set up for the purpose (no show is OK), and I have to say, it is a mental cleanser. I'm sure at some point I'll drop off again, but right now, I'd say it's up there with brushing and flossing: feels funny not to sit a bit a.m. and p.m.... Bruno is hosting a time slot that's more convenient to UK and W. Europe.

I do like to consider the fetter model. I like its behavioural focus.
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Florian, modified 8 Years ago at 10/28/13 11:23 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/28/13 11:23 PM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Katy

good to read you, too!

katy steger:
I do like to consider the fetter model. I like its behavioural focus.


I like the focus on tangible behavioural results (as opposed to purely subjective mind content), too. Motivation is somewhere in between the externally observable behaviour and internal mind states, now that I come to think of it. Thanks!

Cheers,
Florian
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago at 10/29/13 2:11 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/29/13 2:11 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Motivations

1. I don't like my concentration.
2. I love to concentrate
3. I'm addicted to concentration and now I need insight
4. I suck at insight
5. Insight is getting better
6. Insight is starting to be difficult
7. The three characteristics are a downer
8. There's a little hope from the small bit of equanimity I'm feeling
9. I need more equanimity
10. Equanimity is really awesome and now I'll stop practicing
11. Equanimity fades so I need to keep practicing
12. Equanimity is getting wider and daily life is getting better
13. I don't need to sit to meditate because reality is wherever I go
14. Thinking about practice hurts
15. Let go of thinking about practice and just practice
16. I'm self referencing less but have I really gotten the detail I need?
17. I haven't done the classic stream entry. Do I need this?

There will be more I'm sure. emoticon
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 8 Years ago at 10/29/13 6:07 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/29/13 6:07 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
I love this, RZ:
10. Equanimity is really awesome and now I'll stop practicing
11. Equanimity fades so I need to keep practicing
12. Equanimity is getting wider and daily life is getting better
13. I don't need to sit to meditate because reality is wherever I go
14. Thinking about practice hurts
15. Let go of thinking about practice and just practice

Same here =)
For me, I'd add:
14b. Guh, need to practice...
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Bruno Loff, modified 8 Years ago at 10/29/13 8:32 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/29/13 8:31 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Hehe, i'll take that challenge. Here are the motivating factors for my practice so far.

  • (depression) I am terribly depressed and I can't concentrate. Some book talks about meditation as a way to concentrate better. So I meditate.
  • (depression + fascination) I am still depressed, but also fascinated about the kind of things that happen during meditation.
  • (depression + no-way-out) I am so depressed I had to take sick leave from my job; my whole life is on hold and I see no other way out of this.
  • (A&P bliss) I just had stream entry and I am completely euphoric, love is everywhere, etc. I think meditation is some kind of panacea for mine and everyone's problems.
  • At this point euphoria was too strong, meditating was too aggressive, mind was too volatile. No meditation.
  • (dark night) It turns out I hadn't "gotten it" after all. I meditate because it has worked once, it might work again.
  • (actualism trip) Meditation led me to a place of relative ease. I am having good side-effects from other practices. This stage was a bit like being euphoric, but without some factors previously present. I am again convinced that my current "perception-changing" paradigm is a panacea, and practice it with enthusiasm.
  • When that fell through, I stopped meditating for a while.
  • (need-for-balance) I am tired of ups and downs, and suddenly value tranquility more than I have ever before. I find that meditation helps me attaining such tranquility.


And, throughout the whole thing, it is like an itch I need to scratch. Like a meaningless background discomfort is always lurking, ready to spring at me in the next moment of tedium, and I know intuitively (or perhaps simply hope and desperately believe) that meditation is ultimately capable to address precisely that.

And I want a happiness I can truly rely upon, preferably in a way that doesn't harm anyone else.
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Seamus O, modified 8 Years ago at 10/29/13 9:23 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/29/13 9:23 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 61 Join Date: 8/28/13 Recent Posts
First decade:

1) My posture sucks. Let me try sitting in the lotus position. Don't people meditate like this? What the hell is meditation, anyway?

2) Desire to be the best student ever: Maybe if I meditate all the time I won't suck at school this time around.

2b) Okay, this is hard and I still suck at studying, but maybe if I move to a monastery I'll stop sucking.

3) Everything sucks but I'm stubborn so I guess I'll keep sitting/living here.

4) Everything sucks here, but everything sucks everywhere, so maybe if I become a monk I'll eventually stop sucking.

5) Nevermind, meditation is stupid and has no results. I am only going to practice when I'm feeling crazy as a way of calming down.

Last two/three months:

1) I'm depressed. I never want to be depressed again. Research suggests meditation helps even though I'm disenchanted with it. I still suck at it.

[Found this site]

2) Oh shit, jhanas? I want to bliss out. Let me try that.

3) Oh shit, noting seems to cause obvious changes in the way I feel. Progress is fun, I want to keep having fun.

4) A&P: I am a meditation master. What else is worth doing?

5) Dark Night: No big deal, clinical depression was way worse than this, I'm still a goddamn master.

6) SE? This is almost too easy. I want all my friends to get SE now. I will be a vibrating anti-depression field.

7) Uhh...I have no idea what's happening, so I should probably keep sitting.

8) Second path? I don't even feel like I'm trying anymore. I seem to want to sit. That's cool.
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Florian, modified 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 3:59 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 3:59 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:
Motivations

1. I don't like my concentration.
2. I love to concentrate
3. I'm addicted to concentration and now I need insight
4. I suck at insight
5. Insight is getting better
6. Insight is starting to be difficult
7. The three characteristics are a downer
8. There's a little hope from the small bit of equanimity I'm feeling
9. I need more equanimity
10. Equanimity is really awesome and now I'll stop practicing
11. Equanimity fades so I need to keep practicing
12. Equanimity is getting wider and daily life is getting better
13. I don't need to sit to meditate because reality is wherever I go
14. Thinking about practice hurts
15. Let go of thinking about practice and just practice
16. I'm self referencing less but have I really gotten the detail I need?
17. I haven't done the classic stream entry. Do I need this?

There will be more I'm sure. emoticon


Neat, thanks!

Would you say this corresponds to cycles or paths (provided the cycles/paths model makes sense to you)?

Cheers,
Florian
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Florian, modified 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 4:17 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 4:17 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Bruno

nice, thanks!

Bruno Loff:
And, throughout the whole thing, it is like an itch I need to scratch.


Were there any shifts regarding this itch?

Cheers,
Florian
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Florian, modified 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 4:19 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 4:19 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Thanks, Seamus!

The last one, not feeling like trying, that's interesting. Did you get that before?

Cheers,
Florian
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Bruno Loff, modified 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 6:04 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 6:04 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Well, it has become more and more clear over the years. Whereas before it was a nameless semi-unconscious background phenomenon.
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Seamus O, modified 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 7:02 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 7:02 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 61 Join Date: 8/28/13 Recent Posts
The last one, not feeling like trying, that's interesting. Did you get that before?


No, everything's been pretty effortful until now. I just feel bombarded by thought and fantasies of the future less, and there's a pretty strong feeling of incompleteness to my efforts so far -- a sense of a spooky self floating around in my head that is a little embarrassing. So I'm just kind of hanging out, watching it, waiting for it to go away. This is way different than my experience in September of, like, passionately rapid-fire noting every atom of sound until my back gave out and I laid on the floor. emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 7:58 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 10/30/13 7:58 AM

RE: Shifts in Motivation

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:
Richard Zen:
Motivations

1. I don't like my concentration.
2. I love to concentrate
3. I'm addicted to concentration and now I need insight
4. I suck at insight
5. Insight is getting better
6. Insight is starting to be difficult
7. The three characteristics are a downer
8. There's a little hope from the small bit of equanimity I'm feeling
9. I need more equanimity
10. Equanimity is really awesome and now I'll stop practicing
11. Equanimity fades so I need to keep practicing
12. Equanimity is getting wider and daily life is getting better
13. I don't need to sit to meditate because reality is wherever I go
14. Thinking about practice hurts
15. Let go of thinking about practice and just practice
16. I'm self referencing less but have I really gotten the detail I need?
17. I haven't done the classic stream entry. Do I need this?

There will be more I'm sure. emoticon


Neat, thanks!

Would you say this corresponds to cycles or paths (provided the cycles/paths model makes sense to you)?

Cheers,
Florian


It does but looking at it now and the Anapanasati Sutta I'm still missing the calming of the bodily fabrication and the mental fabrication. Doing so puts you into jhanas without attaching to them and should help in daily life as explained in Daniel's "Experiments in Actualism" article.

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