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Methods to quiet your Mind?

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Methods to quiet your Mind? Fabian 4/17/15 7:35 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Small Steps 4/17/15 8:15 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Fabian 4/17/15 11:10 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? John Power 4/18/15 1:11 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Fabian 4/18/15 4:26 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Pål 4/18/15 1:09 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Fabian 4/18/15 4:11 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Pål 4/18/15 4:51 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Fabian 4/18/15 5:10 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Pål 4/18/15 11:11 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Bryan 4/29/15 12:40 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Pål 4/29/15 9:57 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Change A. 4/29/15 1:18 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Pål 4/29/15 1:35 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Change A. 4/29/15 2:01 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Pål 4/29/15 3:01 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Change A. 4/29/15 4:32 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Pål 4/30/15 2:16 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Change A. 4/30/15 9:04 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Not Tao 4/29/15 2:50 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? elizabeth 4/18/15 5:49 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Change A. 4/29/15 10:33 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Not Tao 4/29/15 11:35 AM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Rednaxela 4/29/15 2:11 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Psi 4/29/15 3:18 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Change A. 4/29/15 8:01 PM
RE: Methods to quiet your Mind? Change A. 4/30/15 9:15 AM
Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/17/15 7:35 PM
Hello Meditators! emoticon

First of all: I am from germany so please excuse my english.

In my daily practice (I meditate about 2-4 hours daily) it seems nearly impossible for me to quiet my mind. I tried several methods:

1. Getting back to the breath again and again.
2. Telling your mind to STOP.
3. Body Screening Method.
4. Beautiful Breath.
5. Focussing on the belly instead of the nostrils.

Even after 2 hours (or more) practicing one of these methods my mind is heavily active and distracts me constantly from the meditation object.

I can easily get to the "Access Concentration" when the body is very still and the breath nearly disappears. But when it comes to the "One Pointedness" and Jhanas it is very hard for me. I already managed to get into the first Jhana, but only a few times and not for very long. In most of the cases I fell out immediately after entering because of thoughts like "wow, this feels amazing" or "finally you got it" etc.

Any advice for a really stubborn and active "monkey mind"?! emoticon

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/17/15 8:15 PM as a reply to Fabian.
I don't quite understand, and it's probably not your English, which is just fine emoticon... You say you have monkey mind but yet are able to attain access concentration? My understanding of access concentration is that the mind and body both are already very quiet. If your body is quiet but your mind is as active as you say, perhaps you are just physically relaxed.

At any rate, pick one of your listed techniques and just focus on that one for a month, e.g. just keep coming back to the breath, over and over again for the duration of your sits. Don't switch it up for another technique no matter how boring or ineffectual it seems. See how it looks in 30 days (or 31 if you think you need the extra practice ;)

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/17/15 11:10 PM as a reply to Small Steps.
Small Steps:
I don't quite understand, and it's probably not your English, which is just fine emoticon... You say you have monkey mind but yet are able to attain access concentration? My understanding of access concentration is that the mind and body both are already very quiet. If your body is quiet but your mind is as active as you say, perhaps you are just physically relaxed.

At any rate, pick one of your listed techniques and just focus on that one for a month, e.g. just keep coming back to the breath, over and over again for the duration of your sits. Don't switch it up for another technique no matter how boring or ineffectual it seems. See how it looks in 30 days (or 31 if you think you need the extra practice ;)

Thank you for your advise! :-) Maybe it is not the full "access concentration". The mind gets a little bit calmer when I am in that state...but only a little bit. That is the problem.^^ I always can feel that I am right before the jhana but the thoughts always come in the way and distract me from the "one pointedness". (which is the key for jhana in my experience)

I can have a calm and still mind for about 20-30 seconds, sometimes up to 1 minute. Then some thought arises and shifts me away from the meditation object. The mind never really locks into the breath/meditation object and is easily distracted no matter how long I practice. (so it seems)

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/18/15 1:09 AM as a reply to Small Steps.
Why pick one method of dispelling distraction and do nothing else?

The Buddha in the suttas is if a different opinion but he doesn't give any arguments for it either:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.020.than.html

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/18/15 1:11 AM as a reply to Fabian.
How do you relate to the thoughts? Are they the enemy and have to leave your mind as soon as possible?
Thoughts are just another object to be aware of, be glad that you noticed a thought. It is perfectly normal to have thoughts.
You meditate 2-4 hours daily, so your awareness/mindfulness is getting more and more continuous. In the beginning your mindfulness and concentration were weak and so you would notice thoughts once in a while. Now your mindfulness is getting more continuous and your concentration stronger, so you notice your thoughts more and more. These thoughts were always there but are now more clearly to you, so you are actually making progress. Don't hate the thoughts, notice them and gently return to your breath or other primary object you have chosen.

I agree with Small Steps. Choose one meditation and practice that.

Good luck.

*Every object is valuable for meditation, don't think one is better then the other, this is attachment.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/18/15 4:11 AM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
Why pick one method of dispelling distraction and do nothing else?

The Buddha in the suttas is if a different opinion but he doesn't give any arguments for it either:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.020.than.html

I actually tried that too.^^

The Buddhas advice for the removal of distracting thoughts are:

1. Substitute
2. Reflect
3. Ignore
4. Explore
5. Suppress

Substitution, Reflection and Exploration worked the best for me. The mind really got calmer and I got less distracted. But the thoughts only disappeared for short periods of time, they came back in regular intervals.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/18/15 4:26 AM as a reply to John Power.
John Power:
How do you relate to the thoughts? Are they the enemy and have to leave your mind as soon as possible?
Thoughts are just another object to be aware of, be glad that you noticed a thought. It is perfectly normal to have thoughts.
You meditate 2-4 hours daily, so your awareness/mindfulness is getting more and more continuous. In the beginning your mindfulness and concentration were weak and so you would notice thoughts once in a while. Now your mindfulness is getting more continuous and your concentration stronger, so you notice your thoughts more and more. These thoughts were always there but are now more clearly to you, so you are actually making progress. Don't hate the thoughts, notice them and gently return to your breath or other primary object you have chosen.

I agree with Small Steps. Choose one meditation and practice that.

Good luck.

*Every object is valuable for meditation, don't think one is better then the other, this is attachment.
I try to see the thoughts as natural and normal. As Ajahn Brahm says: "Be kind to yourself and your mind." But after hours of meditation and without any  progression they sometimes really bother me.^^

Sometimes there is also dullness and sleepiness inside of me when I try to achieve the one-pointedness. So it gets even worse. My mind always seems to search for something interesting. When there is only a subtle, good feeling breath it gets kind of bored I think... so it constantly makes up new unimportant stories about the future/past.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/18/15 4:51 AM as a reply to Fabian.
I think step 1 and 4 are pretty hard to interpret. How do you use them? According to Thanissaro Bhikkhu step 1 = just going back to the object and step 4 = relaxing the root of the distraction

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/18/15 5:10 AM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
I think step 1 and 4 are pretty hard to interpret. How do you use them? According to Thanissaro Bhikkhu step 1 = just going back to the object and step 4 = relaxing the root of the distraction

1 (Substitution) = I replace the distracting/negative thought with a positive/wholesome one. (about the dhamma for example)

4 (Exploration) = I try to figure out the cause for the negative/distracting thought. "Why am I thinking this? What is the cause?"

When I get a cause I try to figure out a cause for that cause also... I do that till I get to my birth.^^

There are many other interpretations about the 4th point but I think this is what the Buddha meant with it.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/18/15 5:49 AM as a reply to Fabian.
Hi Fabian,

When I am trying to focus my attention on an object (the breath)  or on what is occurring in the present moment, what helps me is just to notice that I am thinking and then shift my attention back.  If I am also annoyed or frustrated or angry that I am thinking I just notice that and let it go and shift attention back. I just keep doing that over and over again.

I think the skill I am trying to learn is this noticing and shifting of attention. It is not really about stopping the thoughts or the feelings that arise. It is more about noticing and then shifting my attention back. As that has become more and more effortless it has also become easier to notice the space between the thoughts and to rest there.

For me Exploration / inquiry / trying to figure out why a thought keeps arising is a separate practice. Sometimes extremely useful but it seems to work best as separate meditation with different techniques.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/18/15 11:11 AM as a reply to Fabian.
Maybe step 1 could be used as a kind of mantra japa. In Thailand many meditators think "Bud" on the in breath and "-dho" on the out breath. I've been thinking that it's not in line with the suttas and wondering why the Buddha didn't teach mantra repetition. But maybe the first step of the Vitakkasanthana sutta could be interpreted as a kind of mantra repetition. You puck a skillfull thought and repeat it to keep unskillfull thoughts away if it works. One could combine this with anapanasati. For example one can think "Let" on the in breath and "go" on the out breath. If it doesn't succeed in keeping distractions away one goes on to the next step of reflecting on the drawbacks of distraction etc emoticon I rembember reading that mantra means "guardian of the mind"!

Does anyone know any possible drawbacks of mantra japa together with breath awareness compared to breath awareness only? If the mantra is supposed to be droped at some point, how does one know when to drop it?

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 12:40 AM as a reply to Pål.
I use mantra before I meditate to quite my mind. I use Sanskrit mantras and the Pali chant that starts with 'Itipiso...'
Another methond like the Bud dho method is to think 'om' on the in breath, 'ah' when holding the breath before releasing, and 'hum' when breathing out. The is called vajra recitation and is very effective. I would say mantra can be dropped when the thoughts are calmed and you can stay with the breath. Go back to the mantra if thoughts happen again with regularity. Just some ideas that I find useful.

good luck and best wishes,

Bryan

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 9:57 AM as a reply to Bryan.
Thanks, sounds pretty suttaic actually although that mantra is mahayana ;)

Isn't vajrasattva repetition supposed to be Om Vajrasattva Hum? Btw what is Vajrasattva? Is that like a Buddha nature? What does Om Ah Hum mean? The phrase is includes in many mantras but I've never been recommended to repete it by itself before. 

Today I tried thinking (in swedish) "Take" on the in breath, "it" during the short pause between the in and out breath and "easy" on the out breath. emoticon That why I both instructed and trained myself in samatha at the same time. It generated pretty strong concentration compared to my poor standard.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 10:33 AM as a reply to Fabian.
Fabian:
In my daily practice (I meditate about 2-4 hours daily) it seems nearly impossible for me to quiet my mind. I tried several methods:

1. Getting back to the breath again and again.
2. Telling your mind to STOP.
3. Body Screening Method.
4. Beautiful Breath.
5. Focussing on the belly instead of the nostrils.

Have you tried noting?

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 1:18 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
What does Om Ah Hum mean?
In the end, it is just a sound which can be quite useful when used as a guide for breathing.

Om gets you to use all the muscles from the bottom of the spine to the top when breathing in, Ah is quite natural when you let the breath out by itself, and Hum is natural to force out the air that is still inside and gets you to use the muscles around the bottom of the spine.

So using Om Ah Hum for breathing gets you to breathe a full in breath and a full out breath which is beneficial.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 11:35 AM as a reply to Fabian.
Hello Fabian,

I think you may have the order of events mixed up.  You don't need to suppress thoughts to get to jhana.  What happens is actually opposite - as you watch the breathing, the act of meditating becomes more and more pleasant and you lose track of thinking.  Thoughts go away on their own.  If you're trying to notice when they go away, you're actually thinking more.

The main barrier to jhana is impatience.  The fastest way there is to let go of all concepts of what meditation is supposed to be and just take the time to let go of needing to do anything.  Just patiently enjoy sitting for a few hours with nothing to do.  Watching the breath is just an enjoyable activity.  If you try to pin the breath down, or hold on to it with perfect awareness, or chase after it like a rabid dog, or pounce on it every time you notice it's gone, etc, then you're just practicing impatience, which is essentially anti-jhana.

Think of it like this: there is only one thing separating you from jhana - it's a lunging, cringing, grasping, impatient urgency that is always there as a subtle background to life.  It's what comes up when you're doing nothing and fills your head with thoughts.  Each thought is a rehearsal or a regret or a hope or a fear.  These are all efforts to hold the world that you know together.  Jhana arises when you can finally drop this urgency, and the way to drop the urgency is to patiently tolerate it without acting on it.  Whenever anything comes up that suggests you need to do anything at all (including critiques about meditation or how well you're progressing), that is, in that moment, the only reason you aren't in jhana.  So when you notice you've been thinking, and your mind suddenly lunges - that lunging is the problem, not the fact that you were thinking.  If your thoughts are also causing lunging and grasping, that lunging and grasping is the problem, not the thoughts.  Say you're thinking about a TV show you'd rather be watching.  It isn't a problem that the thought came up.  There is only a problem if you believe the thought.  The thought is saying, "you can't be happy until you watch this TV show."  You can just respond with, "I don't believe it," and just let the whole thing be.  All our lives we're indulging this thing so it isn't going to turn off without a fight - and it's very sneaky.  It with come up again and again, along with everything else, but these thoughts are just a smokescreen.  There is only one problem - urgency, impatience, wanting, lunging, grasping.  You can be drifting along pleasantly in thoughts and jhana kind of pops up out of nowhere.  So mindfulness is not there to kill every thought before it comes up, it's there to watch for attachment and urgency.  If there is no attachement to ideas in your head, you just kind of notice that sitting down without anything to do is kind of nice.  It just gets nicer and nicer until you forget about yourself completely.

Hope this helps. emoticon

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 1:35 PM as a reply to Change A..
Is this true even if I just repeat the words mentally while breathing?

@Not Tao
this makes so much sense and is basicly what most Thai forest guys say too. I try to use it in my practice. But was the Buddha just a very bad teacher when he gave 18 different instructions/tasks everytime people asked him about anapanasati? And what was wrong with Aritthas practice? Omg will I ever permanently let go of this... Why can't some Pali scholar just explain to me that the Buddha just told us to watch the breath and relax and do nothing else? ^^ 

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 2:01 PM as a reply to Pål.
As long as the muscles get used the way they are supposed to, it should be good.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 2:11 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:

Think of it like this: there is only one thing separating you from jhana - it's a lunging, cringing, grasping, impatient urgency that is always there as a subtle background to life.  It's what comes up when you're doing nothing and fills your head with thoughts.  Each thought is a rehearsal or a regret or a hope or a fear.  These are all efforts to hold the world that you know together.  Jhana arises when you can finally drop this urgency, and the way to drop the urgency is to patiently tolerate it without acting on it.  Whenever anything comes up that suggests you need to do anything at all (including critiques about meditation or how well you're progressing), that is, in that moment, the only reason you aren't in jhana.  So when you notice you've been thinking, and your mind suddenly lunges - that lunging is the problem, not the fact that you were thinking.  If your thoughts are also causing lunging and grasping, that lunging and grasping is the problem, not the thoughts.  Say you're thinking about a TV show you'd rather be watching.  It isn't a problem that the thought came up.  There is only a problem if you believe the thought.  The thought is saying, "you can't be happy until you watch this TV show."  You can just respond with, "I don't believe it," and just let the whole thing be.  All our lives we're indulging this thing so it isn't going to turn off without a fight - and it's very sneaky.  It with come up again and again, along with everything else, but these thoughts are just a smokescreen.  There is only one problem - urgency, impatience, wanting, lunging, grasping.  You can be drifting along pleasantly in thoughts and jhana kind of pops up out of nowhere.  So mindfulness is not there to kill every thought before it comes up, it's there to watch for attachment and urgency.  If there is no attachement to ideas in your head, you just kind of notice that sitting down without anything to do is kind of nice.  It just gets nicer and nicer until you forget about yourself completely.

Hope this helps. emoticon
This paragraph is mind-blowing, if you'll pardon the expression.  I love this bits about  "lunging" and "urgency", they fit so nicely.  

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 2:50 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pal,

You don't have to let go of anything permanently.  You can just let go now and let future Pal let go in the future. :3

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 3:01 PM as a reply to Change A..
Why does the mantra affect the body that way? Does the body "think" I'm going to say the words when I think them?

@Not Tao
Do you think the Buddha was more pedagogical in the Indriya vibhanga sutta where his only Jhana instruction is "make it your object to let go" than in the Arittha sutta where he corrects Arittha, who says he practices anapanasati through just being here and now and watching the breath, and gives him the whole 16(actually it's 18 if you look closely...) step system? Even if one just looks at the first tetrad it's complicated, at least if one inteprets entire body literally.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 3:18 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Hello Fabian,

I think you may have the order of events mixed up.  You don't need to suppress thoughts to get to jhana.  What happens is actually opposite - as you watch the breathing, the act of meditating becomes more and more pleasant and you lose track of thinking.  Thoughts go away on their own.  If you're trying to notice when they go away, you're actually thinking more.

The main barrier to jhana is impatience.  The fastest way there is to let go of all concepts of what meditation is supposed to be and just take the time to let go of needing to do anything.  Just patiently enjoy sitting for a few hours with nothing to do.  Watching the breath is just an enjoyable activity.  If you try to pin the breath down, or hold on to it with perfect awareness, or chase after it like a rabid dog, or pounce on it every time you notice it's gone, etc, then you're just practicing impatience, which is essentially anti-jhana.

Think of it like this: there is only one thing separating you from jhana - it's a lunging, cringing, grasping, impatient urgency that is always there as a subtle background to life.  It's what comes up when you're doing nothing and fills your head with thoughts.  Each thought is a rehearsal or a regret or a hope or a fear.  These are all efforts to hold the world that you know together.  Jhana arises when you can finally drop this urgency, and the way to drop the urgency is to patiently tolerate it without acting on it.  Whenever anything comes up that suggests you need to do anything at all (including critiques about meditation or how well you're progressing), that is, in that moment, the only reason you aren't in jhana.  So when you notice you've been thinking, and your mind suddenly lunges - that lunging is the problem, not the fact that you were thinking.  If your thoughts are also causing lunging and grasping, that lunging and grasping is the problem, not the thoughts.  Say you're thinking about a TV show you'd rather be watching.  It isn't a problem that the thought came up.  There is only a problem if you believe the thought.  The thought is saying, "you can't be happy until you watch this TV show."  You can just respond with, "I don't believe it," and just let the whole thing be.  All our lives we're indulging this thing so it isn't going to turn off without a fight - and it's very sneaky.  It with come up again and again, along with everything else, but these thoughts are just a smokescreen.  There is only one problem - urgency, impatience, wanting, lunging, grasping.  You can be drifting along pleasantly in thoughts and jhana kind of pops up out of nowhere.  So mindfulness is not there to kill every thought before it comes up, it's there to watch for attachment and urgency.  If there is no attachement to ideas in your head, you just kind of notice that sitting down without anything to do is kind of nice.  It just gets nicer and nicer until you forget about yourself completely.

Hope this helps. emoticon

Hello Not Tao, 

Would you also agree that the method you are describing also has a longer lasting effect on the mind.  By this I mean , the mind becomes trained, for example, when thoughts arise, one is more and more easily able to just "let it be". emoticon

 In other words there seem to be an accumulative effect to this approach to Samadhi, one that if I may add, also adds in elements of Mindfulness and Wisdom.  

Such  that the training in Samadhi is not just a one time shot each time, and each time one practices they have to start all over. But, that the method you are describing is rather a skill , that kind of grows and develops.  One, that I think develops Wisdom, and Wisdom is said to be the final ingredient to the liberation of the Mind.

And further, do you also find that, by using the method that you describe, one also finds it easier and easier to find that clear mental state?  In other words, it seems that the thoughts that are not fed into, and are left to drift away on their own, or immediatley abandoned if one prefers to discard them quickly, these thoughts kind of clean themselves up, and lose their energy.  Some, eventually may never rise again, by this I mean the recurring old mental formations we carry from memories and episodes from the past, thought fragments, associated random thoughts, random daily thought sensations absorbed from our surroundings, etc.  And, if I may be so bold to add, genetically inherited habits may be cleared up also.  So, in this way one also purifies old negative habitual tendencies and what not.  My view of the method you describe not only quiets the mind, but more, it cleans up the mind, leading to a quieter and quieter mind as time rolls along.  A method with lasting benefits.

Anyway, good job,  just throwing a couple of cents out there!  emoticon  But, then again, maybe I do not have any cents...   <<<<-----Pun intended

Psi

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 4:32 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
Why does the mantra affect the body that way? Does the body "think" I'm going to say the words when I think them?

Mantra affects the way it does because it takes away the chatter that is going on in the mind. You can't have two streams of thought at the same time. So when you are reciting mantra, there can't be another line of thought going on at the same time.

I would say that in some aspects, thoughts are just silent speech which only the thinker can listen to.

Some mantras like Om Ah Hum work because of the muscles that are utilized to pronounce them.

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/29/15 8:01 PM as a reply to Fabian.
You could also try concentrating on the sound, even the sound of the thoughts. If you can penetrate sound enough, mind becomes totally quiet, no more thoughts arise.

You could also use the sound of the bell fading away into silence. Where does the sound go?

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/30/15 2:16 AM as a reply to Change A..
Do normal words, like my "take it easy"-"mantra" work in the same way? Or are "esoteric" sanskrit mantras special in some way?

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/30/15 9:04 AM as a reply to Pål.
Try them and find out for yourself!

RE: Methods to quiet your Mind?
Answer
4/30/15 9:15 AM as a reply to Fabian.
You could also concentrage on a yantra image (google to find some images) to see if that helps you more. People who are more visual get help from keeping a complicated image in their mind so that it remains quiet. Just look at a image and then keep that image in your mind and it may keep the distractions out of your mind. Notice all the patterns in the image and try to keep it that way in the mind. As the images are complicated, mind gets absorbed on maintaining it that way and the distractions don't find a place to stay.