Thinking about practicing samatha

John, modified 4 Years ago.

Thinking about practicing samatha

Posts: 4 Join Date: 5/29/17 Recent Posts
Hi all. 

Thought I would post here to get some advice on a question that I have been pondering for some time. I dont want to go into too much detail other wise I will end up writing a 3000 word essay, ha.  

Basically I would like to know is it a good idea to start practicing meditation (Samatha........and maybe eventually vipassana)?  I ask because it is something that I have been interested in doing for several years now. I have practicied in the past (jon kabat zinns "full catastrophe living" 8 week course etc..")  and I felt at the time that it did help with been less stressed and anxious about things, and in general I felt much happier. Around this time last year I decided on dedicating myself to meditation and trying to incorporate it into my life on a daily basis...........however, after some research I stumbled upon "the dark knight" and it has completely put me off it, in fear of causing myself more harm than good. 

So I ask you practitioners of meditation (samantha, vipassana etc...)  from your own experience would you recommend to a person to start practicing said meditation techniques??

Please feel free to ask me any questions.

Regards
John
Matthew Horn, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Thinking about practicing samatha

Posts: 119 Join Date: 1/30/13 Recent Posts
Practicing samatha is the fastest way to reliable happiness in the short-term. Once you master the first jhana, you will be able to "skip" the dark night stages when you finally start insight practice: you may go through the dukkha nanas, but they will express themselves as bliss. IMO the potential extreme negatives of practicing vipassana without mastering samatha first aren't worth it, and if you have a natural predisposition to fast insight progress, you'll attain insight from practicing samatha anyway. Have a look at The Mind Illuminated. It's probably the best guide to samatha around.
John, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Thinking about practicing samatha

Posts: 4 Join Date: 5/29/17 Recent Posts
Thanks for the response. 

Is there anyone that you would warn off practicing meditation for there own safety? As in, a person with maybe depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar etc .......mental health issues?  

I should probably add that I dont have any mental health disorders........ in the past I had an issue with anxiety and panic attacks however, that is currently not an issue now. I guess I'm asking that if i practice meditation (samatha) is it inevitable that I may have to face such issues again? 
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svmonk, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Thinking about practicing samatha

Posts: 396 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Hi John,

Well, my experience is Your Milage May Vary. emoticon

I ended up in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital while at a jhana retreat in 2011. I'd never been diagnosed with any kind of mental illness, nor really had any kind of mental problems at all.  That said, I had had problems with extreme kundalini (aka piti aka "energy") in a prior long retreat and there seems to be some connection between the two. I don't want to go into details here, if you want to know more check out my practice memoir (Silicon Valley Monk, on Google Play, Kindle, etc.).

Anyway, my advice would be take it slow and if you start to get "energy", don't cultivate it by focusing on it. I've since practiced light concentration and haven't had any problems. If it works, it can be very pleasant and help to mitigate Dark Night symptoms. Shamantha or samadi is a kind of light concentration, jhana is heavier.

Good luck!

 
John, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Thinking about practicing samatha

Posts: 4 Join Date: 5/29/17 Recent Posts
Thanks I downloaded your book and also purchased the book Matthew suggested "The Mind Illuminated".  It all seems pretty heavy going tbh but I guess anything involving the mind is always going to be. 

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