Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:28 pm

I'm sure there are more, but I think one of the under-appreciated meditation techniques would be metta meditation,....usually only done as a preamble to or after anapanasati. I'm sure someone has a brain scan somewhere that shows this, but I've noticed the mind/brain gets into habits like anything else. Doing metta meditation is such a gift when you are exposed to long periods of negative input. It makes it roll off of you a bit more and helps you recover faster.

It doesn't need to take up any extra time. I've felt results doing it while on the elliptical at the gym or just out for a long walk.
Last edited by Jhana4 on Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Underappreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby cooran » Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:06 pm

Hello Jhana4,

Living for three years or so in a home by the side of a busy main road, I found difficulty much of the time in using Breath Meditation – too many unpredictable truck, motorbike and bus noises, and heavy traffic plus loud t.v. and conversations by others living with me.

I used to go for brisk walks through a local park and try to do discursive meditations like Metta and using a mantra ‘’Buddho Araha.m Bhagava, Bhagava Araha.m Buddho’ while walking for about 40 minutes or more.

I was surprised at the level of peace it brought into my life – having unconsciously considered it ‘’second rate’’ with breath meditation as ''the most important''.

The mantra was interesting, because the minute I lost concentration (though not realising I had), the order of words would become jumbled.

Metta became (and still is) my main meditation practice, though I still do breath and body meditation as well. For metta, I have created a seven line individualised metta meditation and it begins with a tip I got from Ajahn Brahmavamso - to initially bring to mind a cute baby or animal, notice/capture the feeling that arises in the instant, allow it to pervade your whole mind and body, and begin the mental metta recital.

I find that both mantra and metta meditation go well with the walking rhythm and also highlighted and prevented rambling or worrying thought patterns.

With metta
Chris
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Re: Underappreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:24 pm

Interesting question. And good comments from Chris!

I'm not sure if metta is "super-underappreciated". There are whole books on the brahmaviharas. A number of teachers do run retreats based exclusively on metta (and other brahmaviharas), and it's the primary method taught by Bhante Vimalaramsi http://www.dhammasukha.org/index.html
Some Mahasi teachers will get some students to do days or weeks of metta when they think it's needed to get "settled".

Looking at the traditional subjects:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamma%E1%B ... Dh%C4%81na

Kasinas. Not very common, but I have heard of retreats using this technique. I have heard comments recommending guidance in using kasinas because it's easy to become very highly concentrated.

Asubha (revulsion). Contemplating corpses, etc is something I'd not attempt without guidance.

Recollections: This is somewhat interesting. The instructions in the suttas for recollection of Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha are what one would commonly chant:
Itipi so bhagavā arahaṃ sammā-sambuddho,
He is a Blessed One, a Worthy One, a Rightly Self-awakened One,

So it's certainly widely practised, though one could argue that perhaps many western practitioners don't recognise it as a meditation technique.

Recollection of morality, giving, devas. Probably a bit under-appreciated...

Recollections of:
Body, Death, Breath, Peace

Body and breath would be rather popular...

Brahmaviharas - already covered.

Formless states - need the form jhanas first...

Elements - Another of the popular subjects. The distinction between body, elements, breath is fuzzy in the approaches I'm familiar with (Mahasi, etc).

:anjali:
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby jackson » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:32 am

Greetings everyone, :smile:
One thing which I've been practicing as of late which I feel is of tremendous benefit but is rarely mentioned on this forum is the five daily recollections. The five being:
"I am of the nature to decay",
"I am of the nature to get sick",
"I am of the nature to die",
"All that is mine, beloved and dear to me, will one day leave me",
"I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma, if I do good I recieve good, if I do bad I recieve bad" (I can't remember the real wording but this is how I recite it).

I've found that through these recollections I have an increasing awareness of the impermanence and frailty of the world, and yet though this has increased my resistance towards sickness, death, and change has decreased and there's more acceptance that this is the way of the world. Anyway, I highly recommend this practice, and can see why the Buddha suggested reflecting on these every day.
Good topic and may you all be well, happy, peaceful, and free from suffering! :smile:
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:11 pm

jackson wrote:Greetings everyone, :smile:
One thing which I've been practicing as of late which I feel is of tremendous benefit but is rarely mentioned on this forum is the five daily recollections. The five being:
"I am of the nature to decay",
"I am of the nature to get sick",
"I am of the nature to die",
"All that is mine, beloved and dear to me, will one day leave me",
"I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma, if I do good I recieve good, if I do bad I recieve bad" (I can't remember the real wording but this is how I recite it).


I never head of those concepts bundled together like that and under that name before. It sounds like a wonderful exercise in building a good base perspective on life. Anyone know what sutta it can be found in? I don't think I would do it though. Left alone, my thinking tends to run negative. Metta is better suited to what I need. Good find! Thanks for posting.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby jackson » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:32 pm

Here you are Jhana4, they're mentioned in the Upajjhatthana Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya 5.57 :http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html
Best wishes, :smile:
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:28 pm

Thanks Jackson. Those verses are found in practically every chanting book:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#five

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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby Richard » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:24 pm

Hello everyone,

I also like to do the five subjects for daily recollection. There is another form of meditation, also found in every chanting book, but taught (e.g., in AN 11.13) as an individual exercise: the Recollection of the 3 Jewels, beginning with the Buddha. The beginning formula, "itipi so bhagavā arahaṃ sammāsambuddho..." recurs throughout the Canon as an expression of faith in the Buddha and as a suggested way of developing faith. I don't think it has to followed strictly as a mantra, as there are many ways of reflecting on Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. The Buddha taught these Recollections to his kinsman Mahānama while also recommending reflections on virtues, generosity, and devas. He said you can do these "while you are walking, while you are standing, while you are sitting, while you are lying down, while you are busy at work, while you are resting in your home crowded with children." Unfortunately, most books on meditation simply ignore this teaching.
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:21 am

Hi Richard,
Richard wrote:There is another form of meditation, also found in every chanting book, but taught (e.g., in AN 11.13) as an individual exercise: the Recollection of the 3 Jewels, beginning with the Buddha. The beginning formula, "itipi so bhagavā arahaṃ sammāsambuddho..." recurs throughout the Canon as an expression of faith in the Buddha and as a suggested way of developing faith. ...

I agree. as I mentioned above viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9638#p148199 this is an interesting case because it blurs the distinction between "meditation" and "devotion". It would be hard to find an Asian lay follower who does not do that meditation regularly.

And, in addition to faith, such meditation do develop concentration...

:anjali:
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:58 am

Jhana4 wrote:It doesn't need to take up any extra time. I've felt results doing it while on the elliptical at the gym or just out for a long walk.


I've found the practice of mindfulness ( off the cushion ) to be useful, as it can be done anywhere, anytime.

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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby Jhana4 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:47 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Thanks Jackson. Those verses are found in practically every chanting book:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#five


I find that to be interesting. My thought is that someone brought up repeating those verses would have a radically different outlook on life, with the potential for a lot of positive attitudes in dealing with things. I wonder if people brought chanting those verses reflect on the meaning or if the majority of them even understand the Pali. One thing that turned me off about my own religious upbringing was a similar issue. People "got off" on the rhythms of the chanting in a foreign language, but they didn't know what the words meant, let alone pulling that meaning into their daily lives. The religious officials could care less as long as people showed up and supported the temple.

Though repeating those verses could strengthen some negative attitudes I have, I am excited by them. I'm going to try to find a less clunky translation than the TB's on ATI.....or just use it the way Jackson wrote them.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:21 pm

Hi Jhana4,

Yes, that's the interesting question. To what extent does intimate familiarity and repetition of such verses influence (and develop) lay people in countries such as Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc? I do perceive differences, but I'm wary of making broad statements based on anecdotal evidence.

You may be aware that the chant you will hear at a Thai funeral (or memorials after various numbers of months) is similarly blunt:
Anicca vata sankhara
Uppada vayadhammino
Uppajjhitva nirujjhanti
Tesam vupasamo sukho.

Conditions are impermanent,
subject to rise and fall.
Having arisen they cease —
their stilling is bliss.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/chah/bl111.html

:anjali:
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby chownah » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:41 am

Does anyone know if there is an explanation of how to do walking meditation in the Suttas?...and if not there then in the Vinaya?....if not there then in the Commentaries?....and if not there then in the Abhidhamma?

I think that walking meditation is way under-appreciated and way under-understood.
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:17 am

chownah wrote:Does anyone know if there is an explanation of how to do walking meditation in the Suttas?...and if not there then in the Vinaya?....if not there then in the Commentaries?....and if not there then in the Abhidhamma?

I think that walking meditation is way under-appreciated and way under-understood.
chownah

There's quite a lot of detail in the Commentaries, and various Suttas mention mindfulness in four positions (standing, walking, sitting, lying):
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns, 'I am walking.' When standing, he discerns, 'I am standing.' When sitting, he discerns, 'I am sitting.' When lying down, he discerns, 'I am lying down.' Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"If, while the monk is dwelling by means of this dwelling, his mind inclines to walking back & forth, he walks back & forth [thinking,] 'While I am walking thus, no covetousness or sadness, no evil, unskillful qualities will take possession of me.' In this way he is alert there.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"But if by doing this you don't shake off your drowsiness, then — percipient of what lies in front & behind — set a distance to meditate walking back & forth, your senses inwardly immersed, your mind not straying outwards. It's possible that by doing this you will shake off your drowsiness.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html
"And how, O monks, is a monk clearly comprehending? He applies clear comprehension in going forward and going back; in looking straight on and in looking elsewhere; in bending and in stretching (his limbs); in wearing the robes and carrying the alms bowl; in eating, drinking, chewing and savoring; in obeying the calls of nature; in walking, standing sitting, falling asleep waking, speaking and being silent — in all that he applies clear comprehension. So, monks, is a monk clearly comprehending.

....

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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:34 am

Greetings Chownah,

I cannot recall where I read this, but I have heard there is some contention over whether the Buddha promoted Mindfulness Of Walking, and/or Mindfulness With Walking.

It might seem like splitting hairs, but Mindfulness Of Walking involves mindfulness of the mechanics of walking to the exclusion of other activity, whereas Mindfulness With Walking involves maintaining mindfulness (as explained thoughout the suttas) concurrently with the activity of walking.

(It may have been Analayo who made the distinction? Sorry, I can't recall)

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:14 am

That's a good point Retro. Some of the suttas I quoted (and others I didn't) read to me as if they are about the walking itself, some about the mind while walking.

Mindfulness of the "mechanics" of walking also involves the elements (motion, hardness/softness, hot/cold, ...).

So I think that walking is very useful because it brings into play such a variety of things. Intention, body, elements, reaction of the mind to various stimuli...

:anjali:
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby chownah » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:22 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Chownah,

I cannot recall where I read this, but I have heard there is some contention over whether the Buddha promoted Mindfulness Of Walking, and/or Mindfulness With Walking.

It might seem like splitting hairs, but Mindfulness Of Walking involves mindfulness of the mechanics of walking to the exclusion of other activity, whereas Mindfulness With Walking involves maintaining mindfulness (as explained thoughout the suttas) concurrently with the activity of walking.

(It may have been Analayo who made the distinction? Sorry, I can't recall)

Metta,
Retro. :)

How would you classify this from Mikenz66's post...having read a bit more of the sutta it appears that this walking is being done while in 4th jhana:

"If, while the monk is dwelling by means of this dwelling, his mind inclines to walking back & forth, he walks back & forth [thinking,] 'While I am walking thus, no covetousness or sadness, no evil, unskillful qualities will take possession of me.' In this way he is alert there."

It seems that regardless of whether this is interpreted as Mindfulness of walking or if it is Mindfulness while walking it is clearly meditation while walking....does this seem correct? In other words this is a description of an example of walking meditation of some sort.....I guess to me it seems like it fits both m/of walking and m/with walking in that the thoughts about the condition would be m/with walking and since it refers to the state of walking it seems to be refering to m/of walking.....I guess.....

I think it's best to read a bit more of this sutta before deciding...a link to it...same as in Mikenz66's post:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

chownah
P.S. Also.....is what you have said about walking analogous to Mindfulness of the breath vs. Mindfulness while breathing?
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Re: Under-appreciated Meditation Techniques

Postby Pondera » Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:47 pm

Spring is a fabulous time to meditate on growth and decay.

Where does metta come from? What is it and how does one create it?
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