Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/18/09 5:07 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/18/09 5:08 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice tarin greco 2/18/09 7:43 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/18/09 8:37 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice tarin greco 2/18/09 9:07 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/18/09 9:18 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Florian 2/18/09 9:44 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Florian 2/18/09 9:55 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Florian 2/18/09 9:57 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/19/09 3:02 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Jackson Wilshire 2/19/09 3:43 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/19/09 3:58 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Jackson Wilshire 2/19/09 4:12 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/19/09 4:17 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/19/09 4:22 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Kenneth Folk 2/19/09 7:55 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/19/09 11:43 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/25/09 11:01 AM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Kenneth Folk 2/25/09 1:22 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Vishal Lama 2/25/09 1:57 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice tarin greco 2/25/09 2:20 PM
RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice Jackson Wilshire 2/25/09 2:34 PM
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 5:07 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 5:07 PM

Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi,

I would be grateful if senior/experienced DhO practitioners responded to the following couple of questions I have that's related to my practice. Actually, my initial apprehensions about asking these questions were put to rest only by Vince and so here I am!

"Some background": My practice had been very unstructured and a highly erratic one until January of this year when I enrolled in Gil Fronsdal's 6-week Online Mindfulness-based Meditation Course for beginners. Being in school right now and somewhat low on money, it is difficult for me to go on long retreats, though I would love to attend one if and when time permits. Anyway, after the completion of the course there has been quite a bit of "inner transformation", if you will, within me and my practice has become very regular now. Currently, I sit anywhere from half an hour to an hour everyday. I would here especially like to thank Buddhist Geeks (Vince/Ryan), Hokai and Daniel very much, for they were the ones who, over a period of time, "pushed" me toward some actual practice without their even telling me! Earlier, my interest in Buddhism though very strong was mainly philosophical in nature. Only after grounding myself in actual practice did I realize that Buddhism is a completely different ball game. It makes a lot more sense now!

(to be contd.)
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 5:08 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 5:08 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Ok, my questions...

1) Over the past several days, I have noticed a feeling of attachment that I have developed toward some person (a girl) whom I greatly like. The feeling in itself has not affected my practice, in the sense that it doesn't bog me down, but there is a general sense of unease, unpleasantness and unhappiness over the realization that in all probability I can't be or spend time with that person, now or anytime in the future. During a sitting, which mostly involves developing some kind of concentration, the unpleasant feeling I just mentioned "goes away", so to speak, but it comes back anyway after the meditation is over. There is a sense of my being "incomplete" in the absence of that person. The feeling of attachment more or less stays in the background just beyond the horizon of my conscious thoughts. My question is, what practical steps could I take from an insight perspective to work around this feeling of attachment?

2) During a sitting, I bring my attention to the breath, then bodily sensations, followed by emotions, feelings and thoughts, after which I cycle back to my breath/sensations. I mostly remain mindful of my breath (nostrils) and sensations, with background thoughts appearing on regular intervals. Then after a while, I take notice of a particular thought and "reflexively" label it pleasant/unpleasant, following which it simply "drops" and my mind experiences a kind of a "release", if you will, during that split second. When a continuous chain of thoughts begin to drop that way, the release in my mind is sustained and then almost always pleasant sensations run across my entire body while my mind stays in that state of release for, maybe, several seconds before subsiding. Then the process repeats again until I decide to get up from my meditation. My question is, what kind of concentration "territory" is this?
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tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 7:43 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 7:43 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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1) work around? why work around? 'the feeling of attachment which more or less stays in the background' - from an insight perspective that sounds like you're striking gold there. remember suffering characteristic? best one of the three in my opinion. it opens you up to whole new dimensions of your current experience, most of which are kind of shitty, but if you want to do this thing there's no way out but in. so get into it. dont ignore suffering man, and take it however you can get it. take this opportunity to get into the background now that you've got something pointing right at it. if it hurts more as a result, whee!

2) no clue. sounds like it could be any territory. pay close attention to anything you call a 'drop' though. was there something there that is disappearing suddenly or vanishing abruptly? what is that abruptness?
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 8:37 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 8:37 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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@theprisonergreco

Thank you very much for your response!

1) There are times when the feeling of attachment "vanishes" or "dissolves", following which I experience some kind of spontaneous relief and/or joy that doesn't last very long though. To be more specific, when I bring my attention to an aspect (of the person I like) that I think is causing me some "suffering" and examine the associated or accompanying thoughts, emotions and sensations, the suffering dissolves. However, once that happens, very soon I discover another aspect of that person that too seems to be causing me suffering. So, I repeat the previous exercise again, following which the suffering again dissolves. But, it seems like there is no end to this cycle of repetition!

I should have been more careful with my words, especially the phrase "work around". I actually didn't mean that I would like to avoid the suffering. In fact, I would like to delve more into it!

2) To give some more details on this one, the breath becomes almost unnoticeable and for a while the thoughts are there for me to note. And then, suddenly by labeling a thought "pleasant/unpleasant", I am no longer thinking the thought and it is no longer a part of me, at which point I experience a dropping of the thought almost effortlessly just like a ripe fruit would drop from its tree naturally!
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tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:07 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:07 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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2) sounds like breaking into mind-and-body to me.

what you might want to do when this happens is see how the recognition that there is a thought is also just happening on its own, the intention to label the thought is just happening, the labelling of the thought is also happening, etc. the sitting there is just happening. there's nothing to contrive here, just keep seeing it as it is. that's no-self characteristic. and if you cant do this without getting confused or frustrated.. that's suffering characteristic right there. either way you win, that's insight practice.
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:18 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:18 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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@theprisonergreco

That's exactly what happened! You put it very well! It would last for some time and then fade away, so to speak.

And, could you please explain what "breaking into mind-and-body" means? I had never heard of that phrase. Thank you!
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:44 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:44 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Hi Vishal,

(I'm not a senior or advanced meditator - just so you can place my comments)

1) Me, I try to catch the beginning and end of these "attachment" and "relief" feelings, and of "concentration bubbles" than arise in my insight practice. Privately, I call this exercise "edge detector", and I think it focuses on impermanence. When digging into suffering, what works really well for me is asking questions, like "is that so?" or "resisting?" or "avoiding?" or "holding on?". These are suggestions I received from other DhO members, and maybe they are useful to you.

2) "no longer a part of me" - I recognize that, and I place it in the "mind and body" stage. YMMV, of course.

3) Please disregard if not applicable: You like her! She's a living being, as are you. While the feelings arising from our emotional life are great insight practice objects, they are also part of the conventional realm of human interaction and relationships (1/3 of the noble eightfold path, after all) I'm not suggesting that the Dharma Overground is the place for exposing the specifics of our emotional life, of course. It's more of a reminder - as Dan puts it, the life we wake up in is this life, so it's a good idea to make it a good one.

Cheers,
Florian
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:55 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:55 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Tarin sent his reply while I was editing mine emoticon

'Mind and Body" is a stage on the progress of insight. See here:

http://web.mac.com/danielmingram/iWeb/Daniel%20Ingram%27s%20Dharma%20Blog/The%20Blook/F46A4E80-C4FF-43C3-B6FF-5708E9E4CA15.html

Cheers,
Florian
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:57 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/18/09 9:57 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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What an ugly URL. This points there, too:

http://tinyurl.com/c7jek4

Cheers,
Florian
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 3:02 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 3:02 AM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Hi Florian,

Thank you very much for your response and also for providing the web link! I also greatly appreciate your thoughtful comment on the need to waking up in this life! That does make a lot of sense.
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 3:43 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 3:43 AM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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I second Florian regarding this practice. Very useful.

When an object arises that is accompanied by noticeable suffering, and I notice that I am unable to be present with it, I tend to ask my self three questions:

"Will grasping this cure the suffering?"

"Will pushing this away cure the suffering?"

"Will ignoring this cure the suffering?"

The answer, if I'm honest with myself, is "no." Realizing this allows me to stay with the feeling/sensation in an open way, which sets the stage for good insight practice. I would encourage you to try this. If you find that something else is more useful, great! Let us know what you discover.

Best of luck!

Jackson
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 3:58 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 3:58 AM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Jackson,

Thank you indeed for your response!

I do, in fact, ask myself those three questions, and the answer, as you mentioned yourself, is a big "No"! And, that to me is perplexing and surprising, if you will! When the object of desire/attachment is grasped, it doesn't lead to less suffering; when it is avoided or pushed away, it again doesn't lead to less suffering and when it is ignored, there always remains an unpleasantness somewhere in the background that won't just go away! So, no matter what, the suffering in some form always persists!
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 4:12 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 4:12 AM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Great response. I like where this conversation is going.

I want you to challenge the assumption that you made above. Where is suffering? Is the suffering something completely separate from the object? Do they arise together? When the object vanishes, does the suffering stick around or vanish with it? Also, where are "you" while all of this is happening? Who is suffering? These questions are also very helpful to me in my practice.
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 4:17 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 4:17 AM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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I would just like to write something in regard to anger, so that I could offer some more details of my practice.

When I notice that anger toward some person is arising in me, almost instantaneously my attention shifts toward sensations that run across my body, especially the head and chest areas, followed by breath, for several seconds. That, I think, prevents me from ascribing any causes to my anger. Then, in real-time I pay attention to what the person is really saying as opposed to projecting my own thoughts on to that person. And with the aid of some compassion, I almost always reach the conclusion that the other person is not really different from me! In some sense, I become that other person. And, the anger very soon subsides! What is more, it seems like I can become several persons at the same time by simply listening to what they are saying without my putting any "intention" behind their words. This kind of exercise has helped me immensely in dealing with any anger issues that I may have had, so much so that I am beginning to think that I am not "normal" anymore!
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 4:22 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 4:22 AM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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I do find those questions very instructive! Let me delve into this suffering with those questions in mind to see what "answers" I come up with. Thank you very much!
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Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 7:55 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 7:55 AM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Hey Vishallama,

Scoot over to the "Spasms while meditating" thread and carefully read all of the posts.

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/2423953/Spasms+while+meditating

It is a remarkable chronicle of a yogi's progress from the early ñanas to the all-important 4th ñana, the Arising and Passing Away of Phenomena. So far in this thread you have described the 1st ñana, Knowledge of Mind and Body. You are on the right track, and the best is yet to come. It may get difficult before it gets easy again, but don't despair.

The 4th ñana, or "A & P," as we call it, is the stage that will really kick-start your practice. If you follow the instructions, as did John, you too will see through the illusory solidity of your experience and firmly establish yourself on the road to enlightenment.

Kenneth
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/19/09 11:43 AM
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RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Kenneth,

Thank you very much for your response and also for providing a link to the "Spasms while meditating" thread! I am currently going through the chapter on "The Three Characteristics" in MCTB, and your comment on ñanas has further encouraged me to practice diligently. I shall certainly report to DhO members here of my progress!

-- Vishal
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 11:01 AM
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RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Ok, so I have been trying to penetrate my object of "interest" (which, in this case, is a person I like) through sitting meditation and/or being mindful of the object by paying attention to the Three Characteristics, and I noticed that the feeling of suffering vanishes when the separation of "selves" (mine and the other person's) dissolves. That is, a sense of a separate "me" liking/disliking the other person's qualities invariably results in dissatisfaction/uneasiness/suffering. But, when I "become" (or my mind becomes) the other person by accepting all that there is to accept about the person (without rejecting any of the qualities that my mind perceives the other person has), then the dissatisfaction/suffering is no more! Obviously, such a "realization" is not a "continuous" one, for the separation of selves is created every now and then, but overall the realization does stay in the "foreground" more or less.

I wonder what senior DhO members think about what I wrote above. Thanks!
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Kenneth Folk, modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 1:22 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 1:22 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Vishal,

I'm going to be very straight with you. The practice that you are doing doesn't make any sense to me. It may have value. I don't know. But reflecting upon your relationship is not vipassana practice as I understand it. It's just thinking. While it is possible to take mental phenomena as object in vipassana practice, it is an advanced practice, and I am not convinced that you have that level of proficiency.

May I suggest that we start over? The objects that you should be attending to are physical sensations in your own body. Every thought has a corresponding physical sensation. Let the thoughts be as they are, but do not attend to them. Fix your attention on the sensations in your body. Note them carefully. Rising, falling, pressure, tightness, softness, hardness, warmth, coolness, tingling, burning, stinging, pulsing, etc. If you do this, you will begin the process that leads to the end of suffering. Please follow the instructions carefully. Later on, when you understand the technique, and are well established in the process, you will be able to apply the vipassana technique to mental objects. For now, there is a very real possibility that by attempting to reinvent vipassana in an effort to indulge your desires, you are simply wasting your time.

Kenneth
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Vishal Lama, modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 1:57 PM
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RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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Kenneth,

Thanks for that hard-hitting response. I get the import of your message. I'll go back to doing the basics, which is what I had been taught before but somehow indulging in my desires made me forget all that. I greatly appreciate your response.

Vishal
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tarin greco, modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 2:20 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 2:20 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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vishallama,

i want to take another perspective on this, which is that while in the above you're not doing insight practice, you're doing something. what are you doing? to me, it looks like you're avoiding the pain of separation by building an affective bridge to merge with the other that it hurts to be a self that is apart from. now, does that lead to a reduction in suffering? clearly, yes, as you have observed. does it lead to a reduction in the kind of dualistic suffering that vipassana purportedly addresses? well, possibly, for some time anyway.. but regardless, will it do it like getting path has done for many people, and would probably do for you? i think probably not. yet, on the other hand, will getting path (any path) eliminate this kind of suffering you've been trying to work with - the suffering of feeling separated from someone you love and desire? it may clear up some duality confusion and angst that gets funnelled into that conflict, and while, through successful insight practice, you may end up not feeling particularly urged or compelled to fix this problem like you do now.. at root, it will not eliminate it.

so, maybe you should figure out your priorities. do you want to do the straightforward, single-minded variety of insight practice that is recommended here? or do you want to sooth, or maybe even heal, this wound? give it some real consideration. there's no wrong answer here.

when you figure it out, apply yourself diligently, and something will come out of it either way. of course, there's also the option of doing both, just probably not concurrently.
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 2:34 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 2:34 PM

RE: Questions on feelings of attachment AND concentration practice

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vishallama,

I completely agree with Tarin's words above, if that means anything to you. It all depends on what you're trying to accomplish. It is quite possible to use any sensation -- whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral -- to awaken to the "truth of things." However, if you're needing to resolve a dilemma within the content of your experience (i.e. getting over a love interest), there are many good ways of doing that too. Western psychology, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), has very effective means to this end.

Like Tarin said, it's possible to do both (practice vipassana AND work on your stuff), but IMO, it's better not to do both at the same time (i.e. the time you allocate for daily sitting meditation or extended retreats).

Keep up the vipassana, keep a journal, and report your findings. We'll help you fine tune when necessary :-D

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