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frustration / access concentration Red Beard 11/6/13 3:02 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 11/6/13 4:23 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Nikolai . 11/6/13 7:24 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Red Beard 11/7/13 1:24 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 11/7/13 8:20 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Arid D 11/6/13 8:48 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration sawfoot _ 11/7/13 5:01 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Modus Ponens 11/7/13 4:35 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Red Beard 11/10/13 12:08 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Jinxed P 11/16/13 9:34 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Red Beard 1/18/14 11:33 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Banned For waht? 1/18/14 12:25 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Banned For waht? 2/12/17 7:10 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Bill F. 1/18/14 12:21 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Dream Walker 1/20/14 1:40 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration PP 1/20/14 4:13 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Jesse Patel 2/6/14 9:47 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Anne Cripps 1/20/14 6:18 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Don L Wilson 1/20/14 11:03 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Red Beard 3/2/14 8:37 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Dream Walker 3/3/14 2:23 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Billy T 2/7/17 6:47 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration junglist 2/9/17 4:22 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Banned For waht? 2/12/17 7:01 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration tony john lambert 2/12/17 8:47 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Patrice Berube 2/13/17 5:32 PM
RE: frustration / access concentration Paul Kinkade 2/15/17 10:28 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Red Beard 2/23/17 2:06 AM
RE: frustration / access concentration Simon Liu 2/23/17 7:03 PM
frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/6/13 3:02 PM
Hi,

Been lurking this forum for a while now: need some help.

I've been meditating for 1,5 years now. I've gone the last 239 days without missing a day of meditating.
I'm currently meditating 50 minutes sitting (eyes open) + 10 minutes walking (immediately after sitting) every day.
The meditation style I do is the Mahasi Sayadaw noting-style meditation.

Here's the problem: I haven't even reached Access Concentration yet.
This is really frustrating to me. I'm really motivated to meditate, but it seems like I'll never reach Access Concentration.
I'm afraid this will take away my motivation to meditate if it will take me much longer.

I quote Daniel in MCTB:
Until you can get into access concentration, you ain’t got squat.

... but the rest of the paragraph on access concentration is so short I don't know what to expect.
How long did it take you guys to reach Access Concentration, and under what circumstances?

I'm also getting really frustrated by the amount of 'mind-fog' I have in daily life. It's like I'm distracted and 'turned inwards' 95% of the time.
It has always been this way and it's holding me back in getting my law degree. How am I supposed to focus on anything if I'm always 'zoned out'?

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/6/13 4:23 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Hi,

Welcome to the forum.


How long did it take you guys to reach Access Concentration, and under what circumstances?
Could you supply the experiential definition of "access concentration" that you're using?
By sharing the definition that you're using people may be able to more accurately share in your thread.

I'm also getting really frustrated by the amount of 'mind-fog' I have in daily life. It's like I'm distracted and 'turned inwards' 95% of the time.
It has always been this way and it's holding me back in getting my law degree. How am I supposed to focus on anything if I'm always 'zoned out'?
Is this after lunch/meals/snacks?
Are you dependent on caffeine stuff?
As two starter considerations: a) removal of gluten from your entire diet for 7-days, and b) removal of starchy carbohydrates from your pre-work/study meals and snacks. Have you already adhered to such efforts for 7-10 days?

Are you exercising (getting your heart rate up to the point where it is hard to speak) and how often?

Thanks for your post.


Best wishes,
Katy

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/6/13 7:24 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/6/13 8:48 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
What exactly are you doing when you meditate, mind wise?

I have found that it doesn't matter if you meditate 2-5 hours aday if it is not quality meditation. If you don't feel your concentration strengthening then it is very likely you are not applying enough mental/directed effort, and most importantly, the object that the effort is directed at should be consistent in each practice session - at least I have found this to be most helpful. 10 minutes of quality meditation is far superior than 1 hour of poor quality meditation. What helps me is if I keep my wits and intent about me as I am meditating, and have a general idea of what I am striving for in the background of my mind.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/7/13 1:24 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
katy steger:
Could you supply the experiential definition of "access concentration" that you're using?

I quote Daniel in MCTB: "the ability to stay consistently with your chosen object with relative ease to the general exclusion of distractions."
This has happened to me maybe 3 times in total over the last 1,5 years. And it seems to be completely random in when it happens.

About the 'mind-fog':
  • I think it's almost all the time. When I wake up I'm already in this distracted state of mind. I don't know if it's worse after eating.
  • I tried drinking coffee to increase my ability to focus, but I feel like it's just not working. I still drink some coffee, but I don't 'need' it.
  • I heard eating no gluten might help, but I never tried it. Are the things you list under A and B two seperate things, or should they be combined? I study throughout the day so removing bread from my pre-study meals would be almost impossible. I did try eating Primal/Paleo for 1 week (about half a year ago), but it was too expensive and I became grumpy because I couldn't eat enough to still my hunger.
  • I lift weights 3-4 times a week, but I don't do cardio (yet), so I don't raise my heartbeat that much.

Nikolai .:

Thanks, I will try it.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/7/13 5:01 AM as a reply to Red Beard.
I first got access concentration on retreat. Try a week long retreat. Get access concentration. Then realise that you don't need access concentration for insight.

Access concentration - concentration on one object. Momentary concentration - concentration on constantly changing objects.

You haven't described you mahasi style practice in detail, but as I understand it isn't going to get you to access concentration, if you are noting different objects (thinking, touching, sitting etc...), though you can still get very concentrated - just in a different way. If you want access concentration, you could try doing something like an anapanasati practice (with focus on nostril area rather than rising/falling of belly, which seems to be easier for most people), though as I suggest, a retreat would help.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/7/13 4:35 AM as a reply to Red Beard.
Hello

What you're describing seems a bit like ADHD. Please see a good psychiatrist about that. I emphasise "good" because, as you know, Ritalin is overprescribed. However it can be lifechanging for people who actualy have ADHD. I know of one person who wasted 2 decades of his life because of ADHD. It may not be pleasing for you to have to take Ritalin because of the precepts, but if the medication is for medicinal purposes, it is not a breach of the 5th precept.

If you have bipolar disorder or hypertension, you shouldn't take it. Otherwise, I think there's no problem.

Meanwhile, the best thing I can say to you, is for you to seize the "time waste" moments, such as washing dishes, sweeping, walking to work, etc. to practice mindfulness. It is a wonderful use of your time and will calm the hindrances.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/7/13 8:20 AM as a reply to Red Beard.
Hi,

I quote Daniel in MCTB: "the ability to stay consistently with your chosen object with relative ease to the general exclusion of distractions."
This has happened to me maybe 3 times in total over the last 1,5 years. And it seems to be completely random in when it happens.


Okay. This is the utility of providing one's definition. In the Anapanasati Sutta, these are the criteria for first jhana (which you probably already know):
First jhāna (pathamajjhana)
applied thought (vittaka)
sustained thought (vicāra)
rapture (pīti)
bliss (sukha)
one-pointedness (ekaggata)


So I have this question for you in regards to your ability to begin cultivating the first focused mental state (jhana), which could be preceded by something people call "Access Concentration", another step in a step-by-step logical training):
What is motivating you and your practice/efforts?

I lift weights 3-4 times a week, but I don't do cardio (yet), so I don't raise my heartbeat that much.
Cardio gives the body a different kind of energy than just weight bearing. If you can try ball-of-the-foot running in flat cheap shoe (no big heel pads, heel doesn't touch) on a treadmill/street/path or in place for just 7 minutes. Make those 7 minutes have a cardio effort that makes it hard to speak. Gently stretch calf muscles after this. Ball-of-the-foot running seems to put much of the surface impacting of running into the muscles (calves, gluts, quads) versus bones and joints (e.g., knee joint and lower back vertebrae)


I heard eating no gluten might help, but I never tried it. Are the things you list under A and B two seperate things, or should they be combined? I study throughout the day so removing bread from my pre-study meals would be almost impossible. I did try eating Primal/Paleo for 1 week (about half a year ago), but it was too expensive and I became grumpy because I couldn't eat enough to still my hunger.
Definitely try no gluten for 7 days. Then try slower sugars and less sugar when the mind needs to be alert. Example, yesterday I had collards, carrots, peas and spicey lentils--- those are all quite sugary so I did not have this with brown rice; the rice would have made me too tired, while the carbs from the veggies kept me full and alert (and very fortunate to be a being who can eat at will in the first place).

Lastly, how's your moral conduct? This is not a test, only to say that when we do/say things we personally find questionable, then the remorse/dread consumes the energy of our minds with distraction. Thus one can take one's regretful actions/speech and convert them into conscientiousness-- a skill of conduct that is grown like riding a bike, step-by-step.


Maybe none of these apply to you, maybe some do. Those are my thoughts, though emoticon Good luck.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/10/13 12:08 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
sawfoot _:
Try a week long retreat

I'm going to do this in the summer holiday (first time I will have the time).

Modus Ponens:
What you're describing seems a bit like ADHD.

I know. I don't want to use any medication, but I'm going to get checked soon.
I heard that many people with ADD benefit from certain diets, so I'm interested in that.

Modus Ponens:
Meanwhile, the best thing I can say to you, is for you to seize the "time waste" moments, such as washing dishes, sweeping, walking to work, etc. to practice mindfulness. It is a wonderful use of your time and will calm the hindrances.

Thanks. I try to do this a lot, but often I just don't think about doing it, because I'm too caught up in my thoughts. But when I do it, it's really relaxing!

katy steger:
What is motivating you and your practice/efforts?

My main driving factors are gaining concentration and reaching buddhahood/enlightenment/whatever you want to call it. The last one seems impossible from where I'm at right now, but I hope this will change if I ever get the ability to concentrate.

katy steger:
[Try cardio.] Definitely try no gluten for 7 days. Then try slower sugars and less sugar when the mind needs to be alert.

Will do. As a matter of fact: already started.

katy steger:
Lastly, how's your moral conduct?

I live by the eightfold path as much as I can. The only conflicting thing I can think of is that I eat meat, but I'm not sure I feel bad because of this.
I will stop eating meat at some point in my life, I'm certain of that. But as a 'poor' student I think it's 'justified' for me to still eat it.

I think searching distractions (facebook, movies, etc) as little as possible would help me in my 'quest for concentration', so I will also keep this in mind.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
11/16/13 9:34 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Red Beard,

I can relate. I also have ADHD. But meditation has improved it immensely although I still haven't gotten access concentration either.

As mentioned already on this thread I think you are doing the wrong type of meditation for what you want. Noting is an insight practice, it can help with concentration, but it is not specifically used for developing strong concentration. Noting is what Daniel recommends you do AFTER you have gotten access concentration.

To get access concentration you should be focusing on a single object and keeping your focus there. Such as the movements of your breath. You may want to check out Alan Wallace's book "The attention revolution"

Or his guided meditations over at his website.

I would also recommend the Paleo Diet. This diet helped with my concentration. Exercise is an obvious must. Good sleep is an obvious must, and so is avoiding just surfing the internet.

The Paleo Diet

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
1/18/14 11:33 AM as a reply to Red Beard.
I thought it would be polite to give an update on how I'm doing.

I really appreciate all the suggestions you guys gave, but nothing seems to help for me (including the gluten-free diet). I'm losing hope/faith that this is something that can be done by anybody, or that the people who succeed in their meditation practice are just a bunch of lucky people with the right 'concentration-genetics'.

Is there anybody on this forum who used to have similar ADD-ish problems, and solved them using some technique or by going on a retreat or something, without using medication?

I used to meditate for about an hour every day, but because I see no improvement whatsoever, I've gone back to only 5 minutes a day. That won't help either, of course, but I can't motivate myself to do more than that at this point. Right now meditation seems like forcing my mind to do something it can't, which only creates more suffering.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
1/18/14 12:25 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
i didn't succeeded either.
All my states are accidents. I don't know how to reproduce anything either. It occured to me that i am doing something different and more better(in my opinion better).

Don't worry.
Mind overlaps everything, but some people when they start meditate they automatically enter into a (no-mind) reality, there is no overlapping, thats why you can't achieve concentration states.

i think i have ADD or what it is too, i am very impatient and meditation makes it better, i am now even more impatient haha. Im so impatient that i won't risk anymore, i take only sure things what works. (i take that claim back, i googled ADD and didn't understand anything whats there written..)

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
1/18/14 12:21 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Hi Red Beard:

Straining to reach something in meditation tends to push whatever it is we're looking for further away, and for certain sensitive individuals trying to place the attention on one object heightens frustration and can feel very constraining and increases agitation. I do not have ADD (that I'm aware of), but it may be useful to shift the focus of your practice. Perhaps somatic mindfulness may be useful, or, if you are looking to build concentration, which I would advise against it as it doesn't seem to be yielding productive results, you could use metta which builds concentration but in a gentler way.

Bill

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
1/20/14 6:18 AM as a reply to Red Beard.
:-) Hi Red Beard!

I am sorry that you have been having such a struggle despite your endeavours.

The chapter in which Daniel referred to “access concentration” relates not to Mahasi Sayadaw's noting-style meditation but to samatha (calm abiding) practice, though both may be approached via anapanasati. I am not sure if you understand this, or perhaps I have misunderstood when you explained…
The meditation style I do is the Mahasi Sayadaw noting-style meditation.

Here's the problem: I haven't even reached Access Concentration yet.

One could practice both types in a day but not simultaneously.

If you want to practice samatha-style meditation (which you can do with eyes closed), here are some guidelines for getting started…you will note that in “Stage Two” one has dropped the naming/labelling. If you have 55 minutes to spare, here is Ajahn Brahm giving a talk on how to approach anapanasati samatha-wise, not to be confused with Mahasi Sayadaw's noting-style meditation.

I cannot offer a suggestion on improving mind-fog, other than that I hope you are keeping yourself healthily-nourished and well-hydrated. Tight schedules, commuting and working in noisy hectic environments, and hours of intense cogitation as part of ones working day, may set ones mind “under starter’s orders” upon waking and leave it like a “madding crowd” long after heading home…and next day one wakes up for the same thing!... On the bright side, this is a lesson in the skandhas not being 100% under ones control (and therefore not-self), but unfortunately pleasure at this discovery is likely to be short-lived:-)

Working with what you have, here is an extract from the Maha-satipatthana Sutta that may give you some morale support for your mindfulness practice (for “monk”, read “person”), if none for getting your law-degree…

And how does a monk remain focused on the mind in & of itself? There is the case where a monk, when the mind has passion, discerns that the mind has passion. When the mind is without passion, he discerns that the mind is without passion. When the mind has aversion, he discerns that the mind has aversion. When the mind is without aversion, he discerns that the mind is without aversion. When the mind has delusion, he discerns that the mind has delusion. When the mind is without delusion, he discerns that the mind is without delusion.

When the mind is restricted, he discerns that the mind is restricted. When the mind is scattered, he discerns that the mind is scattered. When the mind is enlarged, he discerns that the mind is enlarged. When the mind is not enlarged, he discerns that the mind is not enlarged. When the mind is surpassed, he discerns that the mind is surpassed. When the mind is unsurpassed, he discerns that the mind is unsurpassed. When the mind is concentrated, he discerns that the mind is concentrated. When the mind is not concentrated, he discerns that the mind is not concentrated. When the mind is released, he discerns that the mind is released. When the mind is not released, he discerns that the mind is not released.

In this way he remains focused internally on the mind in & of itself, or externally on the mind [i.e others’ minds, recognising similar states] in & of itself, or both internally & externally on the mind in & of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the mind, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the mind, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to the mind. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a mind' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the mind in & of itself.

Wishing you success in finding a way forward with kindness to yourself (-:

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
1/20/14 11:03 AM as a reply to Anne Cripps.
Dear Red Beard and others

emoticon Many thanks to the Ajhan Brahm video link. I just sat with him for an hour and found it delightful.

He talks about how important kindness is. Loving acceptance of our present state, present self and loving the meditation is a prime indicator of how it is going.

I've been very pleased with the response you have received. I read them a few days ago and started to add to the conversation but time and login necessity slowed me down. So I went away thinking about you and your post. There are several topics to cover from my perspective.
ADD and ADHD are often over used. As a school psychologist and school counselor for 20 years I can attest that they are real. There are a variety of ways to treat it. I like Daniel Amen's www.amenclinic.com approach where he looks at diet, exercise, vitamins, neurofeedback, and medications. He also shows pictures of blood flow in the brain with SPECT scans.

Heartmath has a few varieties of devices that measure the variation in beat to beat of your heart. Using one of them you will know as soon as you start to drift away and can make corrections. There is also a device through MyBrainSolutions that does a similar monitoring. These allow you to be meditating all the time you are sitting.

Every time you return to the object of meditation you have strengthened the cortical region of the brain governing attention. Just like every time you do a physical exercise it makes a difference with the muscles concerned. So be happy if you have noticed drifting because you are meditating by returning and have increased your capacity to do so, despite present circumstances.

There are many beneficial reasons to meditate. Whenever we do so we accrue the dividends. If you want a deep experience or taste of 'enlightenment' and do not have extended time available, I suggest you participate in an 'Enlightenment Intensive.' They use a technique of koans while sitting across from another person. With another person watching we spend a lot more time on task than sitting anonymously in a group or alone. Typically about a third to a half of participants have very deep experiences in a three day event.

When your not sitting, but moving about you might try the 'Just say gone' game. It is a noting technique where you note when you notice something leaving your awareness. There are three or four areas to pick from, visual, auditory, kinetic, and emotional. I lump the last two together and use three words: see, feel, hear. These all come from Shinzen Young. If you get competitive with this noting you have to be very present tense, with no other thinking. Daniel suggested the higher limits on these might be 50 or more notes per second. LOL I have no idea how to measure that, but I do know the more notes I make the more present I am, and the more relaxed and peaceful I become. So you can pay attention to music noting with wild abandon every sound drifting out of consciousness. That could include each base beat, drum beat, each time there is a lapse of notes from an instrument, etc. Similarly from breathing to walking you can note each major change but also every minor muscle movement as it fades into history. Visually if you are walking there are so many objects drifting away peripherally. Even sitting if your thinking in pictures there are changes to be noted as you follow a thread of thought.

Ahh, so many things to enjoy. But also include noticing all the alarms, and complaints that come up during the day. Accepting and enjoying these compete life in other ways....

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
1/20/14 1:40 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Red Beard:
nothing seems to help for me
I'm losing hope/faith that this is something that can be done by anybody
the people who succeed in their meditation practice are just a bunch of lucky people with the right 'concentration-genetics'.

I used to meditate for about an hour every day, but because I see no improvement whatsoever, I've gone back to only 5 minutes a day.
I can't motivate myself to do more than that at this point.
Right now meditation seems like forcing my mind to do something it can't, which only creates more suffering.

Lets get back to basics.
1) Daily practice
2) Interaction with a teacher experienced in the area of your goals
3) Retreats

You say you do mahasi noting but we don't even know that. That's the problem with a forum interaction at times...too many assumptions. It really sounds like you're self sabotaging. Stop listening to yourself and get an experienced teacher who can guide you thru this. Your definitions may be wrong/misunderstood/self-sabotaging; get some good one on one guidance.
Go on a retreat.

What are you getting out of your daily practice? Why are you doing it? What motivated you the first 1,5 years / 239 days such that you are still doing this?
I don't mean to be harsh on you but sometimes we gotta face the fact that we can be our own worst enemies.
Good luck
~D

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
1/20/14 4:13 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Have you tried noting vanishings instead of arisings of phenomena? That puts the mind on the restful side of the street. The easiest practice is to hear cars go by (provided your street is not very busy nor very silent). I'm posting my experience with it in my practice log, see 12/8/13 and 12/20/13 posts. Also, please check Shinzen Young's "The Power of Gone" and pages 36 and 95-99 of SY's "Five Ways to Know Yourself".

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/6/14 9:47 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Red Beard:


Is there anybody on this forum who used to have similar ADD-ish problems, and solved them using some technique or by going on a retreat or something, without using medication?




Hi Redbeard. I have diagnosed ADHD, and have gotten to access concentration despite it. The technique I use when concentration is weak is simple: talk to yourself.

Use your inner voice and give yourself instructions, ask yourself questions. "How am I feeling? Can I feel my arm? Can I feel the hairs on it? What about my foot? Can I feel.all the unpleasant feelings in my body? Okay, let's try focusing on the breath for a second. Can you feel it?" Etc.

I often speak to myself in third person when doing this. I find that the attention responds to my inner voice, even if it doesn't respond to my simple intention. For now, I'd recommend just trying to build the strength of your inner voice, make it loud, strong, and under your control. Then, once it is doing your bidding, telling the attention to stay on the body/breath/whatever, you'll calm down a bit and maybe won't need the voice as much. For me, starting with the voice first, then letting that drop.only once the mind has some constancy of focus, works.

Also, I'm going to try doing doing 50 squats right before I.sit, as I think that might help too, would be curious to see if it helped you.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
3/2/14 8:37 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Thanks for all your replies.

I have gotten diagnosed with ADD a week ago. I don't know if I will use medication yet: it might help me but I don't really like the idea of a 'magic pill'.

I have lately dedicated my practice to metta meditation. I don't think it improves my concentration, but that's not my goal anymore. I feel it really improves the way I behave towards myself and others, so that by itself is already worth the effort. I think it has helped me speak less negatively to myself and be more open, loving and kind in my communication with others.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
3/3/14 2:23 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Red Beard:
I have lately dedicated my practice to metta meditation. I don't think it improves my concentration, but that's not my goal anymore. I feel it really improves the way I behave towards myself and others, so that by itself is already worth the effort. I think it has helped me speak less negatively to myself and be more open, loving and kind in my communication with others.

Fantastic,
Metta can be a great concentration tool too. If you have not read this check it out - Some Thoughts on Magick and the Brahma Viharas By Daniel M. Ingram
It changed my relationship to Metta practices and now I always start each meditation with it....it gets me into concentration states too.
Good luck,
~D

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/7/17 6:47 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
This post is very old now but I really wanted to answer it because I think this experience and this sense of frustration is universal and common and knowing this can help one realise that they are not alone in their sufffering.
I will speak from my own experience-
I have been practicing insight meditation (mahasi sayadaw tradition) for about 6 years on a daily basis. I have been on 2 residential retreats.
It wasnt until i went on retreat that I had some deeply blissful experiences and my perspective about the practice begun to change. However on a daily basis I dont experience these kinds of heightened states and to be honest Im not sure it would be useful anyway because I felt pretty "out there" at the time and it took me a few days before I kind of came back to earth to function "normally" in the world again.

I have found that it is great to read dharma books, watch videos and listen to talks etc. It can be very inspiring and at first you can feel very enthusiastic to do so because as a novice you just want to absorb as much as you can about this new practice and way of life you have discovered but there comes a point when having too many ideas and too much information about how things 'should' be becomes a hindrance.
If you are reading about other people's experiences and then comparing your own which is not like theirs, then inevitably you are going to feel a sense of lack or that something is wrong with your practice.  There is no one size fits all. Your path is your path, it is perfect for you. There is no right or wrong way and there is no shortcut. 

Concentration is only one part of the practice. Just as important is Metta practice. Also within the insight tradition you do not need to reach access concentration to begin vipassana.   Are you able to accept the sense of frustration you feel with compassion and see it as dukkha, anicca and annatta?  From what you have written it doesnt sound to me that you are. It sounds like you are craving for your experience to be other than what it actually is which seems to be the source of your frustration.  If your experience is frustration, irritation, despondency then can you turn towards that and sit with it?  This is part of the practice.   It is not about having some other feel good experience i.e. access concentration and/or getting rid of difficult feelings.  Perhaps right now on your path it is more important for you to learn equanimity.  Practicing more metta towards yourself and others will cultivate this. 

This world we live in is so driven by the desire and need to accomplish, achieve and attain but taking this into our practice is a mistake. Practice is a time to let go of achieving anything at all. It is a time to just sit and be with whatever is occuring.  What is occuring is not always pretty. In fact it can be downright painful and traumatising. Over a lifetime we have been conditioned to suppress difficult emotions and feelings.  We are presented with a plethora of methods to do this on a daily basis. We are taught that we should feel good and be happy all the time and if we dont then something is wrong. We feel a sense of lack.  When we sit and begin to face just how much we have suppressed it can be very overwhelming. We thought we would finally find happiness and or peace but instead what happens is we begin to stir the mud in the bottom of our proverbial ponds.  We crave for blissful states and hate the difficult states.   But the more we cling and crave for what we dont have the more it eludes us.  When we truly let go of wanting anything at all from the practice is when we move in leaps and bounds.  
It is a paradox. We come to the practice because we are suffering in our lives and wanting something else but we then learn that although wanting suffering to end is a good thing it can easily turn into craving and aversion which causes more suffering on top of suffering.   

To cut a long story short what I am hearing from the OP is that you are wanting something (craving) other than what you have (aversion) but you are not getting it and and this is leading to a sense of frustration ie suffering.  I have been here so many times and in fact I still do go there sometimes but dont let this become a hindrance on your practice. This is the perfect example and opportunity for you to really take in what the Buddha taught.  To see how craving and aversion are causing suffering.   
There is nothing to achieve in your practice or anywhere to get to. Just keep letting go and being here right now. Its all there is.   I hope the OP hasnt given up like so many before but if they have then maybe my post will help somebody else in some way.    It has actually clarified things for me just writing about it.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/9/17 4:22 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
Hi Red Beard,
I found your post interesting because that phrase you quoted from MCTB had been bugging me for quite some time...
Also, I got a bit serious about stuff about a month ago and I think I got it this a few days ago. Maybe first jhana, but I don't really have anyone to discuss it with to be sure.

I read that phrase probably a few years ago, so I reading your post reminds me of me a little while ago. Maybe if I outline some general and specific points it might help?

General:
- I decided it was concentration practice, so I decided to focus things, choosing one practice and sticking with it. I decided to decide the technique (watching breath in the abdomen, now at the nose area), the posture (foot position hand and finger positions, eyes closed etc.), length of time and resolution I made before each sit for the week, even if I felt there may have been a problem with them, and then review for the next week and adjust. I also tried to apply this into daily life to greater or lesser degree of success. I don't usually behave like this, usually I examine and change things constantly, which is conducive to making interesting observations, but sometimes gets in the way of things running smoothly, as well as various other forms of disorganisation.
- I started off with 30 minutes early every morning in the beginning, then 45, now 60 minutes. Before I started practising so regularly, 30 minutes seemed like a long time, but now 60 is good, and I feel I gives me plenty of chances to mess up, refocus, and get it right.
- Before I sat, I made a resolution each time of exactly what I was going to do. 

Specific to that particular sitting:
- It was the second 1-hour sit of the day, mid-morning. I didn't have to work much that day, which was nice.
- I basically went for it, and put as much focused energy as I could into following the breath; not like I was screaming or anything, I mean I hadn't really put any thought/effort into relaxing my body or anything else, although I have done so in the past.
- Some MCTB advice I used:- 1 minute completely focused is better than 60 more or less with the breath.
- If you can get 10 seconds perfectly, why not try for a minute? 5 minutes? ...
- I had noticed that pretty every time I got distracted it was at the end of an out-breath, so I paid close attention to sort of catching the breath and really putting my energy and focus as best as I could at those moments.

Result:
After some time I began to feel very physically comfortable (which had happened before), no back, neck discomfort etc.. I forget exactly now, but I think I focused on my smile, or maybe the general pleasantness of the feeling everywhere. Then this got a bit more intense and pleasant than it had done before, and there was a kind of bright flashing, strobing all around in front, and like a spinning greyish-coloured vortexy thing with a round hole in the middle started to move in to my field of vision from the right towards the left. The situation generated some excitement, which may have stopped it becoming more intense, but I tried to accept whatever it was that was developing and after a couple of seconds it subsided, leaving just the pleasantness with some sort of dim colourful things flying around (my eyes were closed). managed to stay with it till my timer bell rang.


I hope some or any of that helps you!
Keep at it and you can do it!!

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/12/17 7:01 AM as a reply to junglist.
Good descriptions, but not ultimate. You shouldn't lenghten your practice but discard practice and find the right spot, it is exactly there where the cause is. So ultimately the result is instant, the case and effect is one and the same.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/12/17 7:10 AM as a reply to Banned For waht?.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/12/17 8:47 AM as a reply to Red Beard.
Hi, 

   I have been using TM (Transcendental Meditation) since 1978 and find it so easy,there is no effort at all because  you use the minds natural capacity to think,rather than trying to control the mind by force and stop it.
Try not to think of Pink Elephants for the next hour......you cant, its impossible because you are trying to stop the minds natural function,its like pouring gas onto a fire to put it out.

No one knows what their next thought will be,in TM you use a Meaningless Mantra that you are taught to use in a specific way by a teacher,its very subtle and very simple method, kids can do it, its so easy,people that say meditaton is difficult dont know what they are saying because they dont understand how the mind works or even what it is.
I have also tried Kriya Yoga,Kundalini yoga and mindfull meditation,I find these so hard and frustating.
I'm not Buddhist or have any religion because your own truth has always existed,Religions are invented,but I do appreciate all the religions
.
Anyway in the end,we must ask who is meditating ? who am I? realising who we are not, is the key to freedom.
You are not who you think you are,studying Adviata Vedanta philosophy (Non dualismn) is very useful indeed and is the basis of  Lord Buddhas discovery.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/13/17 5:32 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
What worked and changed everything for me was to begin to stare at a spot on the wall, or at yantra/mandala/kasinas (same kind of things).
the yantra or kasinas work great because of the geometric patterns that makes early progress very easy to see visually.

I teach this technique to friends and family who begin Samadhi.

I believe open eye/stare practice is significantly superior to breath meditation for most people nowadays.
thousands of years ago, our lifestyle was different, we did not have any artificial lights and we weren't constantly distracted by traffic/cars/cellphones/tvs/computers etc...
This made developing our visual and auditive senses a necessity with growing up in a modern society, but sensing a very fainth sensation on the tip of the nose more difficult than it could be.
I believe people were naturally more sensitive to bodily sensations because of that.

But today, we use our eyes constantly and we are not used to silence or distractionless moments, so as soon as we close our eyes for meditation, the mind goes nut and start to freak out.

-------------------------------
Anyway, Staring at the center of a yantra, soon enough (2-10 minutes), the lines in the pictures will start glowing and the perifiral vision will start getting darker, like a tunnel vision.

This is signs that your mind is getting concentrated. Enjoy!

After a few days of practicing this, the tunnel vision will stabilize. this is access concentration.


suggested steps:
1- pick an image you like and print it out or use a phone or tablet at a comfortable distance (whatever feel right for you (2-6 feet))
2- stare at the center of the imagine, think about stuff if you want, it doesn't really matter.
3- do this as often as you can for 10 minutes sessions only with a timer. 

4*- make a journal, what happened during this session, how did you feel?
5*- try to only "see". you want to try to only see. isolate that sense from all the other, only see.


** 10 sessions spread throughout the day should be more effective than 10 sessions in a row and nothing for the rest of the day.
Concentration seem to require momentum.

** Shorter sessions are better when you begin since we can get distracted and waste a 30 minutes session daydreaming,
10 minutes sessions are good because they are usually long enough to start to see stuff happening visually, and short enough to not annoy the mind and avoid getting lost in thoughts.


RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/15/17 10:28 AM as a reply to Red Beard.
Hi Red Beard,

My own meditation history is strikingly similar to what you describe. I was practicing 45-60 minutes per day, going on retreats, and reading some of the best material on concentration, yet after a year and a half I couldn't focus for more than ten seconds.

My strategy was to simultaneously put in more and more effort and PERFECT my technique. It is very good that I persisted relentlessly because a deeper problem revealed itself. I discovered a deep, chronic tension and a pattern of involuntary movements that used to be unconscious. This was all making it very unpleasant to focus on the breath, because every time I directed my attention to the breath it rubbed up against this internal tension, preventing me from stustaining my attention for very long. In other words, I discovered that it wasn't a lack of stable attention or awareness that was preventing me from concentrating, it was deep inner resistance to the act of concentration.

The new strategy I adopted was to stop trying to focus on the breath and work with this resistance directly. Once I've worked through the resistance, I plan to start meditating on the breath again. I have a teacher here in Minneapolis who is helping me with this. 

If you would like to talk directly with me about this, I'd be happy to talk to you and see if something similar applies to you.

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/23/17 2:06 AM as a reply to Red Beard.
Wow. Thanks for the ongoing support, everyone!

This is a quick post because I have a meeting in a minute; I'll definitely check out the suggestions given in this topic.

I still meditate on every non-weekend day. Not because I think it will improve my ability to concentrate, but because I like the structure it brings to my day, combined with the affirmations I do directly after meditating. Basically it's become so much of a morning ritual that I feel bad if I don't do it.

One thing I'm very hopeful about is Dual N Back training: a method to improve 'working memory'. I think I have an overactive mind. Combined with low working memory that means I struggle to keep 1 thing on my mind, and my mind keeps feeding me thoughts that block me from experiencing what's happening right in front of me.

Another thing I find interesting is Elliott Hulse his approach on self-expression, bioenergetics and OSHO meditation.

Sorry for not giving any references, but I have to go now. It's easy to find the stuff I mentioned on the internet, though.

Thanks again!

RE: frustration / access concentration
Answer
2/23/17 7:03 PM as a reply to Red Beard.
YouTube "meditation retreat - meditation or Self-Hypnosis"

Watch this video. It will lead you to jhana. I did 1.25 years of anapanasati with focus on the nostril area. I thought I got to access concentration because I saw Goenka's chariot wheel turning near my nose while I was meditation within 4 months of retreat. Only saw that once.

Now, I realize that it was self-hypnosis. I was hoping to enter jhana but saw the wheel and stopped the session. Didn't know what was going on. Why was I seeing something moving in front of me.

Concentration meditation leads to theta and alpha wave.

Relaxed mindful breathing leads to gamma wave and ecstasy (jhana) which then you can go into vipassana.

Let go of desire for certain experience. Just do mindful breathing in relaxed manner. 

Read anapanasati Sutta to get the original teaching which does not say to concentrate,

Concentration meditation does not lead to concentrated mind. Relaxed awareness which kicks into gamma wave gives you the concentrated mind.