How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

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

How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby starter » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:11 pm

"… as the Buddha points out, it's possible to change your mood and to create moods that are a lot more useful in the practice. That's why one of the steps in breath meditation is learning how to gladden the mind when it needs to be gladdened — both in terms of the way you breathe, and in terms of the way you learn to think and talk to yourself. In other words, see where the mood is leading you, and if you don't like the direction it's heading, realize that you're free to look at things in a different way."

"You need a spot where you can step back and look at things." … "If you can learn to look at your moods as baskets — i.e., not who you really are, but simply things you've created — then you can start working on the raw materials and make better ones. But it's important that you have this ability to step back."

[You need] "the right set of attitudes that help you gauge the situation for what it is" … "learning to gauge what was a healthy mood and what was an unhealthy one. … "remind yourself that these moods are not necessarily true; they're not necessarily you. They're like a set of clothing" … "regardless of how true you might think the mood is, you've got to look at its effects. Where is it leading you?"

[You need] "skills in creating and maintaining a better mood." … "What can you do to make it more and more solid? … There's a passage where the Buddha talks about a meditator who finds, as he's focusing on the breath, that there's a fever in his mind. So he needs to change his topic for the time being, to find something more inspiring, more uplifting. That could include reflecting on the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, or whatever you find inspiring that relates to the practice [e.g. by experiencing or recalling the peaceful joyful moments]." … "Anything that works in getting you out of an unskillful mood and into a more skillful one — one that's ready to settle down — is an important part of the meditation." … "The skills that enable you to be more mature in general, also help make you a more mature meditator."

"And then there are the skills of releasing the mind, knowing how to free the mind from a relatively skillful mood to reach an even more skillful one. Even when you've developed a skillful mood, you can then say, "Okay, this can take me only so far. What kind of mood would take me further?"

"Then finally, once you've got the mind in a much better mood, when its fever has subsided, you can go back to the breath, and the mind can really settle down. It can drop all that thinking and go to a place that's a lot more still, solid, and buoyant."

[Sentences/paragraphs taken from Meditation4]
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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby Nibbida » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:46 pm

This is an aspect that I did not really appreciate for several years of my mediation practice. Now I see it as utterly essential and couldn't imagine meditating without it.

Here are some excellent talks I have listened to by Vipassana teachers:

Heather Martin - To Gladden the Heart
http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/81/talk/2633/

Heather Martin - Joy Ushers in Calm
http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/81/talk/2806/

Christina Feldman - Gladdening The Heart
http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/44/talk/2742/
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby dhammapal » Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:04 am

Hi Starter,

There is a Dhamma talk on this topic in Meditations3:
Gladdening the Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
By coincidence I googled “Gladdening the mind” recently and only came up with Thanissaro Bhikkhu's article. Please share anything else you discover.

Thanks / dhammapal.
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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby Individual » Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:39 am

Gladdening the mind is good, but control and stability seems equally important. I know from personal experience that it is easy for the mind to spin wildly out of control because of blissful or liberating meditative states.

Calm and equanimity are superior to a glad mind, because there is more control and stability. A stubborn and dogmatic sense of compassion for other beings and refraining from ill-will also keeps one well-anchored to reality. Control over one's own moods, without having compassion, is bewildering.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditatio

Postby starter » Thu Dec 23, 2010 3:15 pm

Hello friends,

I'm often puzzled by the translation of "delight" in such a paragraph:

"When understanding the meanings and experiencing the Teaching delight arises, to the delighted joy arises. Of one with a joyful mind the body appeases [calms]. The appeased body experiences pleasantness. The mind of one who experiences pleasantness comes to one point [concentrated]."

I don't know the pali words for "delight" and "joy" in this paragraph, but I feel they probably don't mean the strong emotions of happiness (sensual feelings) but pleasantness. I thought any strong emotions should be avoided during meditation.

Metta,

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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby Nibbida » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:05 pm

starter wrote:Hello friends,
I don't know the pali words for "delight" and "joy" in this paragraph, but I feel they probably don't mean the strong emotions of happiness (sensual feelings). I thought any emotions should be avoided during meditation.


It may be helpful for you to familiarize yourself with the Seven Factors of Awakening:

Balancing factor:
1. Mindfulness (sati)

Energizing factors:
2. Investigation (dhammavicaya)
3. Energy/enthusiasm (viriya)
4. Rapture/bliss/happiness (piti)

Calming factors:
5. Tranquility/Calm (passaddhi)
6. Concentration (samadhi)
7. Equanimity (upekkha)

As Individual stated above, blissful states can become wild and out of control, so stability from equanimity can balance that out. I would not say that any of these are "superior" to the others, but rather they are all essential ingredients that one learns to balance in time. Any imbalance leads to a different kind of problem. When there is too much excitement or agitation, one applies more of the calming factors. When there is too much sleepiness/dullness, one applies more of the energizing factors.

There is a good, clear chapter on this in Goldstein & Kornfield's book Seeking the Heart of Wisdom.

Emotions are definitely not to be avoided during meditation, only observed with mindfulness, and maybe balanced in a way that allows the meditation to continue.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby villkorkarma » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:17 pm

I am thinking that i Do better results while talking a walk then just beeing home and sit, thats works good.
I wonder how much good music i must have to make up to that walk.
dont hurt anyone in any sort of way
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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:30 am

Useful topic Starter. It takes metta to oneself to allow yourself to be happy and blissful. It takes wisdom not to let that overpower you. Another element of this is that breaking our precepts will lead to remorse- hence sadness- it will not be possible to gladden the mind, hence no samadhi will arise. This underlies another importance of keeping the precepts and generally being an ethical person.

From the Satipatthana sutta:

...having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating ..[the four foundations of mindfulness].

The above quote shows how important it is to overcome hindrances like covetness/craving and even grief (domanassa) before starting satipatthana practice. The Four Noble Truths yonisomanasikara method (as stated in the Sabbaasava sutta and Dhammachakka sutta) becomes an important tool in overcoming this sadness.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditatio

Postby starter » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:36 am

Hello friends,

Do you know some suttas in which the Buddha taught how to gladden the mind during meditation? In the following sutta the Buddha taught us to direct our mind towards some pleasurable/insipring sign (meditation object?) to arouse piti/sukha. What kind of pleasurable/inspiring sign? Could it be the 6 recollections or metta? Or do you know some other pleasurable/inspiring signs taught by the Buddha?

SN 47.10 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn47/sn47.010.olen.html, with some changes]

“It may be expected of anyone, Ananda—whether bhikkhu or bhikkhuni—who dwells with a mind well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, that such a one will perceive successively loftier stages of distinction.

What four? Here, Ananda, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating only the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, putting aside worldly desire and dejection. While he is contemplating only the body, there arises in him, based on the body, either a fever in the body or sluggishness of mind, or the mind is distracted outwardly.

That bhikkhu should then direct his mind towards some pleasurable/inspiring sign (object). When he directs his mind towards some pleasurable/inspiring sign, gladness is born. When he is gladdened, rapture is born.

When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body experiences happiness. The mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated. He reflects thus: 'The purpose for the sake of which I directed my mind has been achieved. Let me now withdraw it.' So he withdraws the mind free from initial or sustained thought (na ca vitakketi na ca vicāreti) (on the e. He understands: 'Without thought and examination, internally mindful, I am happy.'”

[Similarly with feelings, state of mind and Dhammas].

Your kind help has been very much appreciated. Metta to all,

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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby santa100 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:07 am

The Anapanasati Sutta indicates that with just a consistent practice of the in and out breathing, it could bring about rapture and happiness (piti and sukha). As mindfulness is fully established on the breaths, they becomes more settled, the mind no longer involves itself to worldly affairs, the elements of "seclusion" and "concentration" are fulfilled, which bring about rapture and happiness. Bhikkhu Bodhi in "In the Buddha's Words" wrote: "THe Buddha said that he used mindfulness of breathing as his main meditation subject for the attainment of enlightenment (see SN 54:8; V 317). During his teaching career he occasionally went into seclusion to devote himself to "the concentration gained through mindfulness of breathing" and he confers on it a unique honor by calling it "the Tathagata's dwelling" (SN 54:11; V326)"
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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby danieLion » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:29 am

Individual wrote:Control over one's own moods, without having compassion, is bewildering.

This makes a lot of sense to me. However, compassion, without having control over one's own moods, can be bewildering too. Especially if one is not also developing equanimity.
Goodwill
Daniel
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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby starter » Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:40 pm

santa100 wrote:The Anapanasati Sutta indicates that with just a consistent practice of the in and out breathing, it could bring about rapture and happiness (piti and sukha).


Hello santa,

Indeed a consistent practice of the in and out breathing could bring about piti and sukha (the 2nd tetrad of Anapanasati), which will disappear/calm down at the end of the 2nd tetrad. Have you noticed that during the 3rd tetrad it's necessary to gladden the mind to bring about sukha again?

By the way, I've just learned the translation of "sign" could just mean "object". So the "inspiring sign" could just mean the 6 recollections or the abandonment of hindrances.

Metta to all,

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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:25 pm

You could try the half smile while meditating. Or think of a particularly inspiring quality of the Buddha. Or even repeat 'joy, joy' in your mind. Metta also works.
With Metta

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& Upekkha
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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditation

Postby starter » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:57 pm

Hello Matheesha,

Many thanks for your helpful advice. Somehow I found the best way for me to arouse piti is to experience the stilling of all fabrications. Also it seems to be related to the energy level of the body, which might be relevant to health. Metta to all,

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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditatio

Postby starter » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:47 pm

One effective way for me to settle and gladden the mind is reciting "I go to the Buddha for refuge; I go to the Dhamma for refuge; I go to the Sangha for refuge".

How about sharing your method?

Thanks and metta!
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Re: How to gladden the mind - an important part of meditatio

Postby Kamran » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:53 pm

The below talk from Thanissaro Bikkhu comes to my mind frequently.

In it, he explains that the mind is always searching for food, and to notice when it is trying to feed on junk food, and remind yourself that that is not food. The breath can be a reliable and enjoyable food source for the mind. So I try to feed on the breath instead of whatever else (good or bad) that my mind was looking to feed on.

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/1207 ... Breath.mp3
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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