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Insight and Wisdom

Insights, Meditations, Practice Points, Methods, Tips and Hacks

Purpose of Post,

To have a place where for Ideas and Methods that have worked for myself and others.  
Also, a place where new methods and ideas are placed that are being experimented with.

Hopefully, this post will remain Practice related.  Though I am sure it will branch into the why's and how's. i.e. philosophy and intellectualizing, But, that too is awesome, if we do not know, or think we know why and how something works, or might be working, then practice can be hollow and blind.

So, if anyone wants to post anything here, feel free, like brainstorming.  For one, there are alot of things that I used to practice with great effort, that have become more of an unconscious habit, like riding a bike, so I am also attempting to recollect all the Methods, Insights, and Mind and Body Hacks used in the past and present.


A Tip, Method

Want to start out with an Intention, a goal if you will.  The goal is to have the Mind Stilled within one breath.  Might sound crazy, especially to new practitioners.  But, it can actually save a lot of wasted time messing around with monkey mind, daydreaming and fantasizing.

Basically , the method is like this.

When all settled into the seated position, set the intention to have the mind stilled before the end of the first out breath.  That just puts an end to the Mind’s proclivity to play endless games, in other words, no excuses.

If that does not work, just go back to placing the attention on the breath, and try the same method for the next breath cycle.

Of course, there are many other methods and hacks, working with hindrances, etc.  But I just want to try and post one at a time.

One method does not cover the entire path, or the entire tool box.


P.S.  Edit to clarify, wanted to put this post in here because it helps to know what is possible.  It seems that alot of times people get under the impression that jhana has to brew for 45 minutes to an hour or more to develop.  Now, while that may be the case, I would also like to propose that that is not always the case.  Once one has found the key to access jhana, and maintains a regular daily practice both on and off the cushion, one will find that over time one may sit down and still the mind within one breath.  Or even have a stilled mind before even siting down to meditate.

Of course there are always extenuating circumstances, life struggles, biological mishaps, and whatnot.

And, due to my own ignorance it may be that I am confusing jhana with calling up fruition moments or some kind of non dual state.

But, I hope as I hope I have already mentioned somewhere, and if not I will say it here.  I am still practicing and learning, not claiming to know it all or anything.  Just trying to share experiences.


A Method

Physical Tension, Muscular Tension.

When established in the Meditation posture, or even when doing daily activities, notice any tightening of facial muscles, any gesturing of the facial muscles.

These are tell tale signs of what is going on within the mind, and a direct connection to relaxing, or tranquilizing the mind.  As above , so below.

So, the method is like this, when one notices a tensioning or tightening in the face, let it go.  This should also let go the mental formation associated with the muscular reaction.  The facial gesture is  a reaction to the mental state.

Now, this also goes both ways, a physical smile can affect the mental state.  This is one way to hack the mind system, a little smile can arouse a more wholesome state within the mind.  Especially when coupled with a nice relaxing breath.

As a side note, smiles are infectious, and can be picked up and passed along to other minds, but that may be another story, another method, spreading joy.  This changes the environment, people being a natural part of the environment.  All phenomenon are participatory, nothing is separate, humans included.

But basically, generating a joyful mind state, generates joyful thoughts.  Thoughts are just a storytelling sensation of what is actually happening.  This is why the underlying mood state is so important to develop and maintain.  It is of benefit to all. Cause and effect.


P.S.  I like to practice this when watching a movie or show, it is actually quite hilarious to observe with the mind the multitude of unconscious responses that arise in reaction to scenes in a movie.  

But, more importantly, is the training to let go, be aware of, and relax the muscular tension as it arises.  

Later, one can develop the skill to stay relaxed before the unconscious muscular tension arises, to remain imperturbable, if they wish.

A Method

Verbal Noting

What I think works best with verbal noting during daily activities is to repeat the noting twice.  I think I learned this from Goenka Tapes or maybe Mahasi Sayadaw books??

Anyway, when in the worldly world and I am aware of a touch sensation, I note “touch sensation, touch sensation”  

If a random thought or discriminatory thought arises, I note, “thought sensation, thought sensation.”

If someone is being loud and obnoxious, note, “sound sensation, sound sensation.”

When driving, I note my hands on the wheel, “touch sensation, touch sensation” Car tailgating too close from behind, “sight sensation, sight sensation.”

If an internal sensation arises, i.e. emotions , moods, one can note, “internal sensation, internal sensation.”

Breath is still a good anchor at anytime of the day or night, “breath sensation, breath sensation.”

While walking, “foot sensation, foot sensation.”

I think the double repeat works well, it helps to ground the mind in the present phenomenon, cuts off any extra and unnecessary storytelling.  Also, the mind is not too good at doing two things, (if even possible), at the same exact time.

So the mind can not be both observing phenomenon in the present moment and be discursive and unruly at the same time.

Easy hack to purify and ground the mind.  Helps to separate the sensations from the storytelling.


A Method

Right Effort , or The Four Supreme Efforts, as I remember anyway, the formula,

First , to abandon an unwholesome state that has already arisen.

Second, to not let unwholesome state arise that has not yet arisen.

Third, to arouse a wholesome state that has not yet arisen.

Fourth, to maintain a wholesome state that has already arisen.

This practice, one of which I deem very important I want to explain a little deeper, and possibly edit more in later.

The Four Supreme Effort formula, when I first started examining and implementing it, first I remember I had to keep trying to remember it.  Like, "Now, what was the next step, again?"  And, "What the heck was the third thingy?"  So, anyways, first I had to remember the formula, then recognize an unwholesome state, thought, mood, whatever, and then proceed.  I think this falls under Pariyatti, learning and studying the Dhamma.  Cuz, if one does not know what to practice, how can one proceed?  Much, less why or how, that comes even later.

So, anyway, The Four Supreme Efforts goes deeper than just surface thoughts and intellectualizing.

The real treasures and benefits are to be found at the deeper psyco-somatic level.  The internal alchemizing of ill will into Metta, judgement into compassion, jealousy into Mudita, shared Joy.  All that.  It is kind of a smooth flowing recognize,  abandon,  arouse, then maintain.  And, once practiced this can all happen in a flash of mind moments.

I think a fault, flaw , and danger in personal practice is that sometimes one will recognize an unwholesome feeling and even have the skill to abandon and let go of the unwholesome feeling, but then stop.  Practicing like that is like digging in a mud pit, shovel out the mud, and it works, for a little bit, but then the mud slides back in and backfills any progress, and the practioner stalls out and the practice stagnates.  Just becomes an endless shoveling of mud.  

Perhaps, Sisyphus is a better metaphor, constantly rolling the stone up the great hill, only to watch it roll back down again.

But , with the practice of the Four Supreme Efforts, the stone is chocked off, blocking the stone from rolling back down the hill, and the fourth step, maintaining the Wholesome States acts as a continuous applied force to either keep the stone in forward progress, or has enough force to prevent the stone from rolling back down the hill.

This is not to say that everything is always easy or anything, by no means at all, Life is Struggle, there is Dukkha.  Practice requires constant effort.  A constant and balanced effort that is, one can only push so hard , and so fast.  Patience is also needed.



Initiate and Maintain a Daily Practice

This is big in my opinion, but of course something is always better than nothing.

I started with a commitment of ten minutes a day minimum.  Eventually, I got tired and disgusted of stopping and starting, missing days, weeks, and yes, even years.  The more minutes and sessions , the better, within balance, sometimes the mind just needs a break.

I log everything into a hand written journal.

I try to start my day with a meditation of at least ten minutes, that gets it all started, and keeps to the practice, stabilizes the mind early.

I think of practice like starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together.  By rubbing two sticks together, the sticks get hotter and hotter, and eventually one can start a fire.  But, stop rubbing, and the sticks cool down, no fire is ever possible when constantly stopping and starting.  It is just the way it is.

Along with a formal sitting practice, I think is is wise to practice other methods throughout the day, it isn't just all about sitting on the butt.

There is more about how I think this all eventually unfolds into a kind of effortless effort phenomenon, but that is another topic.



An Eye for an I ??

So, the assumption that people often make is that we are looking out from behind our eyes, that we control what we see, what we look at, but is this true , really??

So, this is a simple method to investigate, an impersonal automatic function that we often mistake to be our intentional function, me and mine.

So, while sitting or moving around, whatever, free up the mind for a second, relax a little, let the mind just relax, be open minded.

Now, the focus is to notice eyeball movements.  Do not control the eyball movements intentionally, let them fall upon what they may.  Try not to think any other verbal thought except to note, "eyeball movement" at each and every eyeball movement.  Even a few minutes should be enough to gain some insight into the process of the automatic eye movements, the anatta aspect of the eye movements.

So, to recap, note eye movement for each and every time the eyeball moves to a new object, while at the same time not controlling the eyeball movement.

The Investigation is, does the eyeball move to the new object intentionally, or does it occur automatically?

Yes, this may be basic, but it also may be so basic as to be often overlooked, perhaps for a lifetime.  One can then pose the question, who is actually looking, or is there really anyone doing the looking, or is there just looking while looking?


Psi, thanks for this thread.

"Want to start out with an Intention, a goal if you will.  The goal is to have the Mind Stilled within one breath.  Might sound crazy, especially to new practitioners.  But, it can actually save a lot of wasted time messing around with monkey mind, daydreaming and fantasizing."

Its cool to see that's not as crazy or farfetched an idea after all emoticon. The same thinking has gone through my mind too. Not successful each meditation session, or many, but I still think it's a worthy goal.

RE: Insights, Meditations, Practice Points, Methods, Tips and Hacks
3/5/16 7:02 PM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Don Merchant:
Psi, thanks for this thread.

"Want to start out with an Intention, a goal if you will.  The goal is to have the Mind Stilled within one breath.  Might sound crazy, especially to new practitioners.  But, it can actually save a lot of wasted time messing around with monkey mind, daydreaming and fantasizing."

Its cool to see that's not as crazy or farfetched an idea after all emoticon. The same thinking has gone through my mind too. Not successful each meditation session, or many, but I still think it's a worthy goal.

Hi Don, and thank you, 

Yes, and a very acheivable goal.  It is all about the practice, especially working with The Five Hindrances throughout the day, so that when one sits to formally meditate, the heavy lifting has already been done.  Also, as Ayya Khema once said in her talks, and I am paraphrasing from memory here, mistakes are mine.  Jhana is like using a key to open a lock, once one has figured out how to use the key , they simply use the key to unlock the door and enter the room.  There is no need to fumble around with the key anymore.

It is like the old cliche of learning to ride a bike, at first we fall , and wobble, get frustrated, etc.  but, after a while it becomes natural.  Though if one has not maintained practice, one may have to start over a little in order to get the wobbles out.

Actually , the whole Eightfold Path is like that ....  After a while it becomes more and more natural.



The Anger Games

So, Anger, Ill Will.  Ill Will, funny, actually willing dis-ease, willing illness, well not funny , funny.

So, here is the Game, and what it did for me.

Finally I got tired of getting angry, and decided to put a stop to it.  So, I made it a game, basically the goal was to go 24 hours without having any kind of anger or ill will.

When I first started I would start the 24 hour timer in the morning when I got up and go as long as I could, usually about 10 to fifteen minutes.  I know right?  Then I felt as if the rest of the day was ruined and what was the point, it was hopeless.

So, then I change the plan, the new plan was to go 24 hours without anger or ill will, and if I got angry or had ill will, I would abandon it asap, and start the timer from that point forward.  That is all anyone can do, move on from this point forward.  The sooner anger or ill will was abandoned the sooner the clock cold be reset.  I did not actually have a stopwatch or anything, I just noted the time in my mind.

Again, same thing , the day would start, anger or ill will would arise, now ill will an anger counts if it is even just at the thought stage for this game, very important, this is no just about external actions, it definitely includes internal thoughts, wishes and judgements.

So, this process was kept rolling along, ill will would get triggered, I would recognize it, abandon it, and start again anew from that moment forward.  On and on, all day , every minute, ill will arising over and over, being abandoned over and over, for days, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, the progress was slow, the months turned into years, I had alot of anger triggers you see.

Eventually, one day I did notice, Hey, I do not really know when I was angry last.  Is that true?  I reviewed, yes it was true. Edit, so as to not misrepresent or be misunderstood.  Anger does still arise, but usually due to biological threats, continued lack of sleep, extreme unexpected pain.  But, anger of that sort is usually a shorter type of outlashing, and fades pretty quickly, i.e. moments and minutes. Though there were and still are irritations.  Irritations are like baby angers, they arise weakly and are easlily dismissed.

 Irritations can be wiped away like the windshield wipers wipe away raindrops on the car windshield.  But, it is also true that some irritations are likenend to bird shit, they do not exactly get wiped away cleanly with one pass of the wipers, but over time they become weakend also, and can eventually be removed.

Now, I am only saying that this method works for normal anger triggers and normal ill will triggers, in normal daily living.  I am unsure about not having anger arise if one is subjected by some Mad Scientist on a Torture Rack.  But, I am trying to deal with the reality of normal daily life , and normal pragmatic solutions.  


p.s. there are time when normal daily life can be as bad or worse than a torture rack, which, I believe lends sanity and all the more reason to practice now, while we are able, to better deal with reality as it arises moment to moment

Edit as noted above

A couple of things from my own practice:

1. a beginning ritual for each session. In my case this consists of 2 practices; an autogenic relaxation script, and then a merit dedication prayer.
By practicing the autogenic script at each meditation session I can amplify and strengthen the results of the script. Also, then the script is available to me all through the rest of the day, on demand. And I do use it when do some body-scanning during the day.

2. While getting started, I used meditation soundtracks on headphones (usually binaural beats). It was easier for me to commit to 30 minutes and the occasional 60 minute session knowing the track would signal the end of the session, and I didn't check my watch. I rarely use them now.

3. Inner smile is great, and here's a hack that I learned from my very first meditation teacher. If you can't smile for yourself, just imagine the people that would smile for you and 'borrow' theirs.

4. Psi's point about having other daily practices that link to your meditation practice. Mine come from a different discipline, but they really help build a consistent daily practice. Without going into a bunch of detail here are some of the better ones:
4.1 When doing some daily task, make it as graceful as possible.
4.2 When doing some daily task, tense one part of your body and see how that impacts your movement.
4.3 Periodically during the day check out what tension you might be holding and release it.

5. Try to notice the similarity between your physical reactions to physical stress or exertion and physical reactions to emotional stress.
6. Daily Lojong sayings. The ones I keep working on are the ones about not gossiping. 
7. Daily reading.
8. An attitude of play and experimentation in meditation.