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Concentration practices other than breath meditation.

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MCTB, Daniel Ingram :
Sometimes spiritual openings can be extreme and dramatic, and being able to slow things down and calm down can sometimes be very useful and skillful if we have to deal with the world and deal with these openings at the same time. In short, if you want to gunk up your insight practice because you simply need to slow down so as to be able to get on with your life or not completely flip out, such as to study for medical school boards, etc., one way to do this is to indulge in concentration states. Coupling this with formal resolutions to not make progress in insight can be very effective.

I am preparing for exams and most of my day is spent studying. Since I wanted to make some time for meditation, I decided to travel to the library by bus instead of bike so that I get some time in the bus to do some practice. I generally practice overall awareness including sounds of the traffic, body movements and occasionally body scanning. Reading the above advice from Daniel, I am thinking I better do concentration practices for now. I tried breath meditation, but I am finding it really difficult to notice the sensations of the breath since my bus journey is very jerky. Hence I want to know if there is any other way I could improve on my concentration practice considering it is a very jerky bus ride. 
Is there a way I could do some Kasina-like practice other than fire, while travelling? Is that even an option? What other Kasina objects can I use? Can I use only a Mantra instead? 

Although my main goal is to progress in the Insight path, I want to do some concentration practices as of now for two reasons. One reason is because of the warning / suggestion given by Daniel.  Another reason is that I find my concentration very poor and by improving it, my studies become more productive and I can get done with these exams as soon as possible, so that I can take some time off for retreats.

RE: Concentration practices other than breath meditation?
Answer
6/17/17 1:06 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Goutam:
Can I use only a Mantra instead?


I went through a phase of doing mantra on the bus. It works fine.

Goutam:
I find my concentration very poor and by improving it, my studies become more productive.

Yes, I do believe that doing mantra as a concentration exercise strengthens your powers of concentration in everyday life.

RE: Concentration practices other than breath meditation?
Answer
6/17/17 2:12 PM as a reply to tamaha.
you could try using external sounds as your object, or even body sensations itself, the jerky sensations of the bus etc.
and yes a mantra would work too

RE: Concentration practices other than breath meditation?
Answer
6/17/17 3:40 PM as a reply to Andrew K.
Andrew K:
you could try using external sounds as your object, or even body sensations itself, the jerky sensations of the bus etc.
and yes a mantra would work too
Yes, anything to prevent getting lost in thought. Attention should be on present perceptions, and noting can be used when thoughts capture attention.

RE: Concentration practices other than breath meditation?
Answer
6/19/17 5:58 AM as a reply to Ward Law.
Thank you all, for replying.

Derek2:
Yes, I do believe that doing mantra as a concentration exercise strengthens your powers of concentration in everyday life.
Can you please tell me what kind of mantra I can use? Can it be a single word like 'om'? Can it be phrases of metta?


Andrew K ;    Ward Law:

Yes, anything to prevent getting lost in thought. Attention should be on present perceptions, and noting can be used when thoughts capture attention.

I'm not very sure whether my concept of 'attention' and 'awareness' is very clear.
Suppose I am using sound as the object.
For practicing attention (concentration), I should be focusing on only sounds and when I notice my attention is captured by something else, I come back to the object and focus on it again. 
Now, how is ''awareness (Insight)'' practice exactly different from the ''attention (concentration)'' practice with respect to the same object like sound?
To be specific, does Insight practice mean to be just aware (and notice the Three Cs) of whatever predominantly arises without supressing it?
And attention practice means to supress (let go of) anything else that arises other than the object and intentionally going back to it?
Or am I missing something here?

RE: Concentration practices other than breath meditation?
Answer
6/19/17 2:58 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Culadasa is a good one to read regarding attention vs. awareness. Here's an article: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/08/attention-awareness-how-to-meditate-successfully/

RE: Concentration practices other than breath meditation?
Answer
6/19/17 10:47 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Hi Goutam,

I highly recommend Metta practice. I started only 3 weeks ago. It has transformed my life from being semi depressed to somewhat productive and happier.

These are some sources which may help you get started (thanks to Bernd the Broter and other DhO threads):

http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/44.html (Guided meditation by Gil Frondsal)

Metta phrases and elaborate instructions:

http://visuteoh.net/teachings/metta-meditation-instructions.html

Simple Instructions:
1. Bare awareness for a couple of minutes to get your mind somewhat neutral.
2. Repeat Metta phrases slowly (in your mind):

"May I be happy"
"May I be healthy"
"May I be safe"
"May I be peaceful"
"May I take care of myself with ease"

Pick only one or two phrases to start with or make up your own. A neat trick is to say half the sentence on the in-breath ("May I be") and the other half on the out-breath ("happy"). Gradually extend Metta to a close person, friend, neutral person, enemy and all beings. Be aware of the sensation that arises when you mentally utter these phrases.

Hope this helps.

RE: Concentration practices other than breath meditation?
Answer
6/20/17 12:59 AM as a reply to Mettafore.
Thanks Mettafore, for the suggestion. I will look at those links. :-)
Interestingly I started with metta phrases yesterday and so far it's been good. I was wondering if I am heading into the right direction. Your reply helped. 

First I started with "May I be at peace". Then I had some kind of difficulty using 'I'. Then I started saying "May this body be at peace". This kind of chanting helped me to be anchored to this very experience without letting me get distracted too much to the surrounding chaos that happens in the bus/metro. I was concentrating on the words and then the pleasant feelings it was giving. So I was way less distracted and it helped me to be relatively peaceful also. 

I have a question though.
Like I mentioned above, for most of the time I used the phrase "May this body be at peace". Then if my mind got too distracted, I would change the phrase to "May I be less distracted" for sometime. Then again come back to the original phrase. When there was a lot of urge to open the eyes (which is the first step for distraction), I would say "May I not open the eyes so that I can be peaceful". I would continue that for sometime and again go back to the original phrase. Then when I noticed the lust growing in me, I would say "May I be free of lust" until I felt better. And then again back to the original phrase. I would do the same way for 'frustration' , 'anger' , 'anxiety', 'guilt' , etc. I continued the same thing while I was studying also, to chant these phrases every now and then and whenever I was distracted.
So my question is if it is okay to be changing my phrases like this, as and when I feel it is relevant to the present experience.
My basic goal here is to develop good concentration (and ofcourse peace). And so far it's been good. What do you say?