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Which meditation should I do at this stage?

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I recently attended a 10-day goenka retreat and I found the body scan technique he taught to be helpful. I have always had an aversion and craving to many bodily sensations, and this technique seems to specifically help with that. One issue I had in my past meditations with simple breath concentration is my high amount of aversion to every single unpleasant physical sensation, so I could barely keep my attention focused on my object. The emphasis on equinmity in goenka's course was also very helpful. 

However, my attention itself, along with my resolve of sitting for long periods, is still very poor. With the body scan technique, I find myself constantly drifting and it is much harder to focus properly since it is much more complex to do than breath meditation. Maintaining equinmity is also a lot more difficult just because of how complex the object is, as well. 

I tried breath meditation after the retreat and I ran into the same problem of low resolve and high aversion to any unpleasant sensations.

I would really appreciate advice on which direction I should proceed in. 

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/3/15 10:48 AM as a reply to johnson.
Hi Rich: What is your ultimate goal in practice, if such a thing exists? Different practices tend to emphasize different things and lead to different results, i.e metta practice does not feel like scanning does not feel like noting does not feel like shikantaza. Is there a particular direction that seems natural for you right now?

Bill

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/3/15 11:19 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill F.:
Hi Rich: What is your ultimate goal in practice, if such a thing exists? Different practices tend to emphasize different things and lead to different results, i.e metta practice does not feel like scanning does not feel like noting does not feel like shikantaza. Is there a particular direction that seems natural for you right now?

Bill

Well, right now I would like to be able to experience all bodily sensations without aversion or craving, but my concentration is poor so I am not sure if maybe I am taking too slow a path by attempting such a complicated technique as opposed to developing one pointed concentration with an object. 

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/3/15 11:33 AM as a reply to johnson.
Hi. In the specific lineage I work with (Vajrayana/Dharma Ocean) somatic and body practices are the foundation, and there is a practice called the ten points practice that works in a similar way to scanning, though the emphasis is skewed more towards release than equanimity. In my opinion it would be wise if you feel called there to spend a month or so working with whatever somatic practices are beneficial. This may be the body scan method you have been working with.If you are interested in developing equanimity and concentration, you can practice metta but rather than sending loving kindness to an external object you could generate the feeling of metta however you see fit and move it through the body. Or you could simply note body sensations, which builds equanimous feelings as well as concentration. Also it is normal in beginning practice to not have very strong concentatrion skills and to find oneself falling consistently off the object for long durations. 

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/3/15 12:03 PM as a reply to johnson.
Use the technique they taught you at the retreat emoticon  (I among other people on this forum have used this technique and it has taken me very far) 


alternate scanning your body slowly part by part, and then as a wave 

Without a doubt your mind will drift!  You are never doing the technique inccorectly, when you place your mind on a sensation the feeling/thought associated with that sensation will pop into your head.  Meaning by definition this technique brings up things like thoughts and feelings.  As you get purer you will get cleaned out and the sensations you feel will become more subtle and thus the thoughts more subtle.

With regards to equanimity just do your best. The object should'nt be too complex? Just one spot on the body at a time, or a wave motion.

Start with the body technique and if you find your mind drifting too much go to the breathe.

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/3/15 5:36 PM as a reply to Bailey ..
Bailey .:
Use the technique they taught you at the retreat emoticon  (I among other people on this forum have used this technique and it has taken me very far) 


alternate scanning your body slowly part by part, and then as a wave 

Without a doubt your mind will drift!  You are never doing the technique inccorectly, when you place your mind on a sensation the feeling/thought associated with that sensation will pop into your head.  Meaning by definition this technique brings up things like thoughts and feelings.  As you get purer you will get cleaned out and the sensations you feel will become more subtle and thus the thoughts more subtle.

With regards to equanimity just do your best. The object should'nt be too complex? Just one spot on the body at a time, or a wave motion.

Start with the body technique and if you find your mind drifting too much go to the breathe.

Well, the issue is I have a hard time shifting my attention across my body. It feels clunky and unintuitive to me compared to focusing on breathe. 

Would you still recommend that I stick with the technique? I suppose with more practice, I will become more fluent. However, I am already fluent with the breathe, and can't the same insights be gained with the breathe object? 

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/3/15 11:32 PM as a reply to johnson.
Maybe you could try the method I used to use.  It's basically a combination of breath meditation and body scanning.  First I would breath out "into" the feet, then I would breath in "from" the feet and out into the lower legs.  Then in from the lower legs and out into the upper legs.  Etc, etc.  Basically connecting breathing with body scanning.

If you feel strong aversion to a physical sensation, try meditating without the requirement to sit still.  Just sit on your couch or something like you're going to watch a movie or read a book.  Do your body scanning and shift if you feel some pain.  You might notice that, as your concentration builds, you simply will move less and less until you're just still because your body feels relaxed.  There's really no need to sit around fighting aversion.  It doesn't accomplish much.  Meditation doesn't have to be serious business, it can actually be fun and rewarding. emoticon

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/4/15 10:40 AM as a reply to johnson.
Each technique is used to prevent you from going on a rumination cycle. If you're busy being with what is (with noting, concentration, shikantaza, open awareness, etc) then you are not ruminating. This means the stress chemicals are reduced.  

One thing that helped me a lot was the welcoming/allowing practice. You want to start welcoming those itches and small pains along with your practice. It's an attitude that is opposite to aversion. If you keep consistently welcoming over some minutes the brain should respond with a big letting go. This can be used in conjunction with whatever practices you are doing. What I like about welcoming is that the amygdala just pushes and pulls towards objects it likes or dislikes. The tendency for meditators is to push and pull to try and stop the push and pull. Any push and pull is the same result. There is only two directions with the amygdala: more tension or less tension. Welcoming and relaxing the relationship to objects is the right direction in most situations.

If you like scanning I would make sure to include your attention to pay attention as more cause and effect sensations. Your intention is the feeling of "I'm about to scan my elbow" before the spotlight of attention acts on that attention. 

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/4/15 4:42 PM as a reply to johnson.
Stick to the technique they taught you emoticon Dhamma.org is the largest meditation organization by far in the world with more than 150 centers based almost entirely off of donations and volunteers.  They know what's up.  The technique is based off of instructions directly from the Satiphatanna Sutta, one of the two only suttas discussing actually meditation technique.

The body scanning technique will become second hand and natural as you progress.  It will happen on its own simply by giving intent.

I, and others on this forum, have used it to attain stream-entry and beyong.

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/4/15 4:48 PM as a reply to Bailey ..
After more contemplating, I feel like I want to just stick with meditating on the breathe, with a narrow attention focused on either my chest or my nose which I will alternate between depending on how I am feeling. I am much more fluent with the breathe object than with body scanning. When body scanning, a lot of times I am so caught up trying to just move my attention around that I don't feel like I'm able to pay enough attention to the actual sensations. I'm sure this will change as I practice more, but I don't really want to invest the time to get better at body scanning when I've already become fairly decent at the breathe object. 

And also, I want to attain insight through jhana, which is through concentration meditation. The reason is because meditation needs to be fun and pleasurable for me. My current personality simply does not have enough willpower to push myself to meditate if I feel too many negative emotions from it. 

Does this sound okay to you guys? Are there any downsides from my approach to enlightenment that I might cause me to reconsider this decision?

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/4/15 5:04 PM as a reply to johnson.
Nope, sounds fine to me.  If at any point you start to feel like you need to expend too much effort just to become tranquil, see if there isn't a way to accept the tensions while concentrating. Tight concentration is self correctling in that it becomes looser naturally as you feel the desire to be more effortless. Loose concentration early on is more problematic since it can just turn into dazed out mind wandering.

RE: Which meditation should I do at this stage?
Answer
1/4/15 5:22 PM as a reply to johnson.
rich r a:
After more contemplating, I feel like I want to just stick with meditating on the breathe, with a narrow attention focused on either my chest or my nose which I will alternate between depending on how I am feeling. I am much more fluent with the breathe object than with body scanning. When body scanning, a lot of times I am so caught up trying to just move my attention around that I don't feel like I'm able to pay enough attention to the actual sensations. I'm sure this will change as I practice more, but I don't really want to invest the time to get better at body scanning when I've already become fairly decent at the breathe object. 

And also, I want to attain insight through jhana, which is through concentration meditation. The reason is because meditation needs to be fun and pleasurable for me. My current personality simply does not have enough willpower to push myself to meditate if I feel too many negative emotions from it. 

Does this sound okay to you guys? Are there any downsides from my approach to enlightenment that I might cause me to reconsider this decision?

I've found the following approach helpful. When I start a sit, I'll cultivate mindfulness and do a quick pass or two of body scanning - just down, up, down, up. This helps me settle down and be more aware of my body, and makes the breathing meditation better. Give it a try. There's nothing wrong with just focusing on the breath, though, and I will sometimes just do that.