at a wall

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

at a wall

Postby no mike » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:34 pm

I am practicing Anapanasati, and getting confused.

I now practice with my eyes open, and do my best to follow the breath and not "go off contemplating" or "falling asleep." I recently began walking meditation for at least thirty minutes just before sitting, I sit for an hour and fifteen min., and have made good progress keeping emotions/feelings/worries/and most sleepiness from arising. I keep to the 5 precepts, and I read the Dhamma daily. Recently, I had developed a numbing in my nose that came up during sitting, and again during the day when I was being mindful. I was very happy thinking maybe this was a part of a sign, but after reading several posts, I realized this was not the case. Now, if it happens I use it as a gauge that I am trying too hard. At this point, I am wondering about the blackout-type vision mixed with waves of moving or shimmering light sensations. Am I just blacking out? Is this something I should follow or something I should be mindful to avoid following? I am not seeing any distinct forms. I would like to observe a sign before getting into back into Vipassana meditation, but I seem to be both figuratively and literally stuck at a wall, with my eyes and my practice.

I feel a lot of spiritual urgency, so I will keep at it, but I must express that staring at a wall and observing my breath at the nostrils session after session with no progress seems worse than the beginning when I was sitting through a lot of leg and back pain. My sleepiness is starting to come back and my thinking/contemplation at times becomes hard to deal with.

Thank you

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Re: at a wall

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:03 pm

All of that is just stuff. Don't worry about signs a way markers. Just pay attention and keep it light, simple and easy, and don't struggle to keep it light, simple and easy. Also, even a crappy meditation is a good meditation.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: at a wall

Postby daverupa » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:54 pm

no mike wrote:I must express that staring at a wall and observing my breath at the nostrils session after session with no progress seems worse than the beginning when I was sitting through a lot of leg and back pain. My sleepiness is starting to come back and my thinking/contemplation at times becomes hard to deal with.


Progress is like a hammer handle that gets worn away over years of use, but on any given day one can't say how many molecules of handle have worn away and call that the 'rate of progress'. So, progress is partly just sitting down again.

Beyond that, have you tried laying your practice alongside the anapanasati instructions? Observing the breath seems to cover the initial sitting down instructions which precede the tetrads, as well as perhaps the first half of the first tetrad, but how goes the progression through the rest of the satipatthana for breathing? How goes the letting go and the calming of sankhara? Are any of the hindrances or the awakening factors in view?

:console:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: at a wall

Postby no mike » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:28 pm

tiltbillings wrote:All of that is just stuff. Don't worry about signs a way markers. Just pay attention and keep it light, simple and easy, and don't struggle to keep it light, simple and easy. Also, even a crappy meditation is a good meditation.


Good advice, as I learned to keep it lighter after the sinus issue, thx, I'll try :)
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Re: at a wall

Postby no mike » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:35 pm

daverupa wrote:... but how goes the progression through the rest of the satipatthana for breathing? How goes the letting go and the calming of sankhara? Are any of the hindrances or the awakening factors in view? :console:


I need some time with this one, but first I believe I am in stage 4 first tetrad, I have been reading http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/anapanasati.pdf

I have not acquired a sign or a training sign as I have heard it referred.

I'll do some homework to respond to the other questions, thanks :)

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Re: at a wall

Postby no mike » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:25 am

daverupa wrote: How goes the letting go and the calming of sankhara? Are any of the hindrances or the awakening factors in view?

:console:


Okay, I'm ready to answer these. I don't know.
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Re: at a wall

Postby daverupa » Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:39 am

no mike wrote:
daverupa wrote: How goes the letting go and the calming of sankhara? Are any of the hindrances or the awakening factors in view?

:console:


Okay, I'm ready to answer these. I don't know.


I think a lot of people do different things, so advice and direction is going to vary a bit. I see this aspect of practice as cumulative, thus:

satisampajanna --> satipatthana}anapanasati --> jhana

where guarding the sense gates and daily mindfulness and presence of mind generally contribute to perpetual satipitthana practice. This is conducted over the four postures, as it were, so seated practice isn't necessarily anapanasati at first, but perhaps simply a contemplation on the presence & absence of the hindrances, applying the four right efforts as appropriate. This wouldn't be anapanasati per se, even if the breath was used as a tool for samatha.

The anapanasati tetrads build on the satipatthana framework towards four related goals: the calming of kaya-sankhara and citta-sankhara, the release of citta, and relinquishment. This is all making it ones object to 'let go', and as the jhana pericope describes, seclusion from sensuality directly with seclusion from unwholesome states precede jhana.

So anapanasati is designed to turn seated satipatthana into jhana. Prior to this, there is a bit of developmental groundwork which can be done as seated meditation but which can also get accomplished throughout the day, to greater and lesser degrees, weather permitting, your mileage may vary.

But other people seem to prefer to dive right in to anapanasati by focusing on the nostrils, and this means following instructions I'm not familiar with, so asking someone else is going to get you different responses and a different diagram.

I hope you get something useful.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: at a wall

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:35 pm

daverupa wrote:So anapanasati is designed to turn seated satipatthana into jhana.


I think there are simpler ways to develop jhana, Dave, IMO one doesn't need all that 4-tetrad stuff.
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Re: at a wall

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:39 pm

no mike wrote:I now practice with my eyes open, and do my best to follow the breath and not "go off contemplating" or "falling asleep."


If you're feeling stuck what sometimes helps is to change your approach for a while - maybe meditate with eyes closed from time to time, or focus on a different aspect of the breath, or use a kasina.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: at a wall

Postby daverupa » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:44 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:IMO one doesn't need all that 4-tetrad stuff.


:jawdrop:

Unexpected! But surely I will insist that sammasati is, indeed, essential. Let us hope the OP receives further input.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: at a wall

Postby kmath » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:20 pm

no mike wrote:I am practicing Anapanasati, and getting confused.

I now practice with my eyes open, and do my best to follow the breath and not "go off contemplating" or "falling asleep." I recently began walking meditation for at least thirty minutes just before sitting, I sit for an hour and fifteen min., and have made good progress keeping emotions/feelings/worries/and most sleepiness from arising. I keep to the 5 precepts, and I read the Dhamma daily. Recently, I had developed a numbing in my nose that came up during sitting, and again during the day when I was being mindful. I was very happy thinking maybe this was a part of a sign, but after reading several posts, I realized this was not the case. Now, if it happens I use it as a gauge that I am trying too hard. At this point, I am wondering about the blackout-type vision mixed with waves of moving or shimmering light sensations. Am I just blacking out? Is this something I should follow or something I should be mindful to avoid following? I am not seeing any distinct forms. I would like to observe a sign before getting into back into Vipassana meditation, but I seem to be both figuratively and literally stuck at a wall, with my eyes and my practice.

I feel a lot of spiritual urgency, so I will keep at it, but I must express that staring at a wall and observing my breath at the nostrils session after session with no progress seems worse than the beginning when I was sitting through a lot of leg and back pain. My sleepiness is starting to come back and my thinking/contemplation at times becomes hard to deal with.

Thank you

:heart:


Personally, I'd try walking meditation or metta or something. Walking meditation can inject new energy into practice, while metta can bring the "juice", so to speak. I know most people like to emphasize patience and that's important, but honestly, I've spent a lot of time in meditation banging my head against a wall, and the only thing that helped was changing things up.
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Re: at a wall

Postby no mike » Sat Oct 26, 2013 12:53 am

daverupa wrote:
no mike wrote:
daverupa wrote: How goes the letting go and the calming of sankhara? Are any of the hindrances or the awakening factors in view?

:console:


Okay, I'm ready to answer these. I don't know.


I think a lot of people do different things, so advice and direction is going to vary a bit. I see this aspect of practice as cumulative, thus:

satisampajanna --> satipatthana}anapanasati --> jhana

where guarding the sense gates and daily mindfulness and presence of mind generally contribute to perpetual satipitthana practice. This is conducted over the four postures, as it were, so seated practice isn't necessarily anapanasati at first, but perhaps simply a contemplation on the presence & absence of the hindrances, applying the four right efforts as appropriate. This wouldn't be anapanasati per se, even if the breath was used as a tool for samatha.

The anapanasati tetrads build on the satipatthana framework towards four related goals: the calming of kaya-sankhara and citta-sankhara, the release of citta, and relinquishment. This is all making it ones object to 'let go', and as the jhana pericope describes, seclusion from sensuality directly with seclusion from unwholesome states precede jhana.

So anapanasati is designed to turn seated satipatthana into jhana. Prior to this, there is a bit of developmental groundwork which can be done as seated meditation but which can also get accomplished throughout the day, to greater and lesser degrees, weather permitting, your mileage may vary.

But other people seem to prefer to dive right in to anapanasati by focusing on the nostrils, and this means following instructions I'm not familiar with, so asking someone else is going to get you different responses and a different diagram.

I hope you get something useful.


um. I am confused. I thought I was to build up concentration skills with anapanasati, up to the level of achieving a learning sign, before continuing on with insight or vipassana meditation.

everything is useful, thank you :)

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Re: at a wall

Postby daverupa » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:28 am

no mike wrote:I am confused. I thought I was to build up concentration skills with anapanasati, up to the level of achieving a learning sign, before continuing on with insight or vipassana meditation.


I've seen similar instructions, but I never made much of the practice as described. Others here can probably tell you more about those ideas, but I base my practice on other sources. As I said, people seem to approach these things in different ways.

Note that satipatthana is the definition for right mindfulness, the seventh of the Eightfold Path. It is discussed e.g. here in terms of approach and here in terms of how to refine it according to one's individual situation; here is another way of saying it.

Satipatthana addresses the hindrances, which is a practice one can refine with reference to, for example, this sutta - the hindrances and the awakening factors sort of play off each other.

Anapanasati, then, fits into this overall scheme, bringing clear knowing & release to their culmination - nibbana.

I'm sorry it is so dense with links, but if you go through them, it should at least make sense.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: at a wall

Postby no mike » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:23 am

daverupa wrote:
no mike wrote:I am confused. I thought I was to build up concentration skills with anapanasati, up to the level of achieving a learning sign, before continuing on with insight or vipassana meditation.


I've seen similar instructions, but I never made much of the practice as described. Others here can probably tell you more about those ideas, but I base my practice on other sources. As I said, people seem to approach these things in different ways.

Note that satipatthana is the definition for right mindfulness, the seventh of the Eightfold Path. It is discussed e.g. here in terms of approach and here in terms of how to refine it according to one's individual situation; here is another way of saying it.

Satipatthana addresses the hindrances, which is a practice one can refine with reference to, for example, this sutta - the hindrances and the awakening factors sort of play off each other.

Anapanasati, then, fits into this overall scheme, bringing clear knowing & release to their culmination - nibbana.

I'm sorry it is so dense with links, but if you go through them, it should at least make sense.

:heart:


I have been learning to practice mindfulness to help make progress during the day to remember right thinking, action, speech, etc., I have been studying the four foundations of mindfulness, and starting to do more walking meditation, and mindfulness has helped me to settle my thoughts/emotions during meditation, but I am confused about what I should be doing during sitting meditation, if not anapanasati. Should I be learning about metta techniques, or should I be contemplating on aspects of the four foundations? Or should I get a step by step book on vipassana meditation?

Thanks for patience, everyone :)

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Re: at a wall

Postby no mike » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:54 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
no mike wrote:I now practice with my eyes open, and do my best to follow the breath and not "go off contemplating" or "falling asleep."


If you're feeling stuck what sometimes helps is to change your approach for a while - maybe meditate with eyes closed from time to time, or focus on a different aspect of the breath, or use a kasina.


Thank you, maybe I need to back up and examine what it is I am approaching, and look at the whole game plan.

Dave indicates satisampajanna --> satipatthana}anapanasati --> jhana; describing sitting satipatthana before anapanasati. Hmm.

I need time to take this in. Getting frustrated with all the books and online literature regarding meditation.

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Re: at a wall

Postby daverupa » Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:11 pm

no mike wrote:I am confused about what I should be doing during sitting meditation, if not anapanasati. Should I be learning about metta techniques, or should I be contemplating on aspects of the four foundations? Or should I get a step by step book on vipassana meditation?


Have a look at MN 125 for a basic shape of the progression. You'll notice that the instructions call for sitting down when it comes time to specifically address the hindrances with satipatthana for the purpose of jhana, but prior to this there are instructions for vigilance and mindfulness which are to be done walking around as well as sitting.

Guarding the sense gates and applying right effort to obstructive mental states, while using the breath to calm things down for yourself, can be called anapanasati if you like, though I tend to use it in a specific way in order to clarify its prerequisites. Everyone has to build it up, no one starts at the end:

SN 54.6 wrote:"But how do you develop mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, Arittha?"

"Having abandoned sensual desire for past sensual pleasures, lord, having done away with sensual desire for future sensual pleasures, and having thoroughly subdued perceptions of irritation with regard to internal & external events, I breathe in mindfully and breathe out mindfully."

"There is that mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, Arittha. I don't say that there isn't. But as to how mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is brought in detail to its culmination, listen and pay close attention. I will speak."


Since right intention has good-will as part of its definition, I see metta as a foundational approach rather than a practice among practices to choose among. Samma-, which is usually what people are translating as 'right' (samma-sati = right mindfulness, for example) is something I see as meaning 'integrative' because there is feedback between all aspects of the Path. There isn't right & wrong mindfulness, there's mindfulness which is integrated with the Path and there's mindfulness which isn't.

Observe:

SN 47.19 wrote:"Monks, the establishing of mindfulness is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after myself.' The establishing of mindfulness is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after others.' When watching after yourself, you watch after others. When watching after others, you watch after yourself.

"And how do you watch after others when watching after yourself? Through cultivating [the practice], through developing it, through pursuing it. This is how you watch after others when watching after yourself.

"And how do you watch after yourself when watching after others? Through endurance, through harmlessness, through a mind of goodwill, & through sympathy. This is how you watch after yourself when watching after others.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: at a wall

Postby kirk5a » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:35 pm

no mike wrote:I need time to take this in. Getting frustrated with all the books and online literature regarding meditation.

Understandable. You might consider revisiting the "why" of meditation in order to get some perspective on the "how" - namely, less stress. As the suttas say:
He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: at a wall

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:44 am

no mike wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
no mike wrote:I now practice with my eyes open, and do my best to follow the breath and not "go off contemplating" or "falling asleep."


If you're feeling stuck what sometimes helps is to change your approach for a while - maybe meditate with eyes closed from time to time, or focus on a different aspect of the breath, or use a kasina.


Thank you, maybe I need to back up and examine what it is I am approaching, and look at the whole game plan.

Dave indicates satisampajanna --> satipatthana}anapanasati --> jhana; describing sitting satipatthana before anapanasati. Hmm.

I need time to take this in. Getting frustrated with all the books and online literature regarding meditation.

:heart:


Yes, it's difficult because there are so many different interpretations and approaches. There is for example no concensus on how the 4 tetrads of anapanasati should be interpreted - I've read 5 or 6 commentaries, and they all say something different.

I've reverted to a fairly simple approach, which seems to work for me.
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Re: at a wall

Postby no mike » Sun Oct 27, 2013 11:00 am

daverupa wrote:
Have a look at MN 125 for a basic shape of the progression. You'll notice that the instructions call for sitting down when it comes time to specifically address the hindrances with satipatthana for the purpose of jhana, but prior to this there are instructions for vigilance and mindfulness which are to be done walking around as well as sitting.

Guarding the sense gates and applying right effort to obstructive mental states, while using the breath to calm things down for yourself, can be called anapanasati if you like, though I tend to use it in a specific way in order to clarify its prerequisites. Everyone has to build it up, no one starts at the end:

SN 54.6 wrote:"But how do you develop mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, Arittha?"

"Having abandoned sensual desire for past sensual pleasures, lord, having done away with sensual desire for future sensual pleasures, and having thoroughly subdued perceptions of irritation with regard to internal & external events, I breathe in mindfully and breathe out mindfully."

"There is that mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, Arittha. I don't say that there isn't. But as to how mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is brought in detail to its culmination, listen and pay close attention. I will speak."


Since right intention has good-will as part of its definition, I see metta as a foundational approach rather than a practice among practices to choose among. Samma-, which is usually what people are translating as 'right' (samma-sati = right mindfulness, for example) is something I see as meaning 'integrative' because there is feedback between all aspects of the Path. There isn't right & wrong mindfulness, there's mindfulness which is integrated with the Path and there's mindfulness which isn't.

Observe:

SN 47.19 wrote:"Monks, the establishing of mindfulness is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after myself.' The establishing of mindfulness is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after others.' When watching after yourself, you watch after others. When watching after others, you watch after yourself.

"And how do you watch after others when watching after yourself? Through cultivating [the practice], through developing it, through pursuing it. This is how you watch after others when watching after yourself.

"And how do you watch after yourself when watching after others? Through endurance, through harmlessness, through a mind of goodwill, & through sympathy. This is how you watch after yourself when watching after others.


Thank you, this progression makes sense.

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Re: at a wall

Postby no mike » Sun Oct 27, 2013 11:36 am

kirk5a wrote:
no mike wrote:I need time to take this in. Getting frustrated with all the books and online literature regarding meditation.

Understandable. You might consider revisiting the "why" of meditation in order to get some perspective on the "how" - namely, less stress. As the suttas say:
He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Thank you. How ironic, when my source of stress has been meditation.
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