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Setting up an on-cushion practice: "do nothing" and focused meditation

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Hi,

My natural inclination leans towards the "do nothing" style of unfocused meditation.  I mostly sit outside in a comfortable spot and listen to the birds and insects as "quickly" as possible without the intention to focus on anything, and dropping the intention if I notice that it has arisen.  This is very enjoyable, and I can easily do this for 1.5 - 2 hrs at a time with minimal mind wandering.

When doing meditation focused on an object, I use the "Nada" sound, which is much more apparent to me than feelings of the breath, for example.  But I can only do this type of meditation for 30-45 minutes before I get bored and my mind starts to wander.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been experiencing throbbing neck pains that are not posture-related while meditating, so I'm guessing I'm in the 3C's on the progress of insight, but I seem to be stuck there at this time.

In general, is one type of meditation (clarity edit: focused vs. non-focused) known to be more efficient at leading to insight than the other?

Am I working at cross-purposes if I do both (i.e. should I either spend time relaxing attention or focusing attention but not both)?

If not, do the two practices support each other?

Thanks

dave:
Hi,

My natural inclination leans towards the "do nothing" style of unfocused meditation.  I mostly sit outside in a comfortable spot and listen to the birds and insects as "quickly" as possible without the intention to focus on anything, and dropping the intention if I notice that it has arisen.  This is very enjoyable, and I can easily do this for 1.5 - 2 hrs at a time with minimal mind wandering.

When doing meditation focused on an object, I use the "Nada" sound, which is much more apparent to me than feelings of the breath, for example.  But I can only do this type of meditation for 30-45 minutes before I get bored and my mind starts to wander.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been experiencing throbbing neck pains that are not posture-related while meditating, so I'm guessing I'm in the 3C's on the progress of insight, but I seem to be stuck there at this time.

In general, is one type of meditation (clarity edit: focused vs. non-focused) known to be more efficient at leading to insight than the other?

Am I working at cross-purposes if I do both (i.e. should I either spend time relaxing attention or focusing attention but not both)?

If not, do the two practices support each other?

Thanks

Focus is good, can't get anywhere without it, no harm in that practice.  Non-focus with intention to not let anything slip by sounds like pretty darn good insight practice to me.

Perhaps, investigate the actual sensations, thoughts, feelings etc evidence for 'stuckness' till there is nothing left of it to investigate?  For example, "there's that neck feeling again, how big is it, is it constant, what does it feel like to have that feeling-where is that feeling of feeling the neck- did that mini investigation make the neck worse or better... oh it's gone, what's the evidence now?...."

It's normal to get stuck and to then to think about stuckness. And being stuck is not growing.  But investigating stuck breaks down the situation so that eventually growth has happened and the path forward presents itself.

matthew sexton:


It's normal to get stuck and to then to think about stuckness. And being stuck is not growing.  But investigating stuck breaks down the situation so that eventually growth has happened and the path forward presents itself.

Thank you for your kind advice.  When I really looked at feeling stuck, I found frustration that my current experience isn't different than it is, coupled with worry that the meds I'm taking to prevent mania are also preventing the quick and pliant state of mind that lends itself to gaining insight during the A&P.  As context, what I believe was first path occured during an intense, unmedicated manic episode, and I felt really close to a major shift during a second unmedicated manic episode in early July.

As of now, the sense of stuckness is gone.  I know that I don't have any agency in this, and what's happening now is happening now and must be surrendered to.  This brings a great deal of peace to the point where I'm having a hard time finding any suffering at this time.

Having said that, I'll probably be back in a month or so panicked about being stuck or fear or something! emoticon

Thanks again