Trouble settling...

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

Trouble settling...

Postby Demarous » Sat May 02, 2009 2:23 pm

I am fairly new to the buddhist path and i am going through a fair bit at the moment. I am visiting Cittaviveka in Chithurst as much as i can to try and get some calm to my mind, and some comfort that its not as important as it all seems.
I'm struggling with trying to focus, my mind will not settle, i'm aware that i seem to slip off of concentrating on my breathing every ten seconds or so, and although i can calm my body down from a sometimes near panic state, i really can't seem to control my minds wandering!
Any suggestions?
Also i'm using the half lotus position to meditate, but it does hurt after some time and again, distracts my mind. I can feel the pain dissapear when my concentration works but it soon reappears!!!
Sorry to babble!!!
Demarous.
:thinking:
"Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart."
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby Fede » Sat May 02, 2009 3:11 pm

Demarous, do you know the teaching on the guitar string....?
A guitar string should not be wound round the key so tight, that its note is strident and unharmonious.... nor should it be so loose that its note is dull and discordant.... a guitar string should be just taut enough to meld its note beautifully with the others in a smooth melody....

Do not try so hard in your practice that you become frustrated and tense, nor relax and release so much that you become despondent and discouraged....
The lotus position (or even the half-lotus) is not a necessary and essential pre-requisite.
I never sit so.
And if a thought comes into your head... so what?
That's what your mind is designed to do.
To think and be alert.
Simply observe, note and let go.
return to breathing.
Relax!
It should be worthwhile and enjoyable, not an ordeal to be mastered at all costs - !!
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby Demarous » Sat May 02, 2009 4:05 pm

Thank you for your advise, it is very helpful. I shall bare it in mind and continue forward. i will keep in mind that the thoughts coming in are ok before i return to my breathing.
I shall also, at least for now, forget my hip straining half lotus position!
You have helped a great deal with my troubles, thank you again.
"Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart."
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 02, 2009 10:46 pm

Greetings Demarous,

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel, by the way! :hello:

What kind of meditation are you working on?

Also, I'm going to move this topic for you into the Meditation forum in the hope of getting it in front of the attention of some of Dhamma Wheel's more experienced meditators.

Best wishes.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby Demarous » Sat May 02, 2009 11:02 pm

Hi Retro, I am focusing on each breath at the moment, to try and calm, and sometimes i sweep the body.
As i say, i'm fairly new to the Buddhist path, being previously blindly caught up with trying to sustain my business, i have realised that that really was not the way to inner peace!!! I Used to use the breathing techniques in Kung-Fu, found it very calming back then.
I can relate fully to the Dhamma and although new to it, feel at home. If there are any tips or techniques that anyone can advise me on, to keep my focus, i would be grateful. I shall however, put the effort in and try not to get wound up about it anymore!

:smile:
"Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart."
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby rowyourboat » Thu May 14, 2009 12:55 pm

Hi Demarous

I'm from your part of the world myself

Try walking meditation for 20-30 mins before sitting -this is widely used to settle the mind before sitting meditation

it is a more gross meditation- easier to focus- the walking itself seems to have a qualities of settling unsettled issues in the mind
With Metta

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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby Demarous » Sat May 16, 2009 1:02 pm

Thanks very much, i will try that! :smile:

I was at Cittaviveka last sunday, had afternoon tea with one of the monks and some other Lay people, followed by a guided meditation for evening Puja.
I was able to relax my mind with the guided technique, but still find it much more difficult when i'm alone.
Metta,
Demarous.
"Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart."
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat May 16, 2009 7:52 pm

Let go of the idea that you shouldn't have thoughts. If you have ears and are not deaf, you have to hear sounds. If you have a mind and are not fast asleep or in deep concentration, then you have to have thoughts.

They arise dependent upon conditions. If you're busy most of the day, talking to people, working, emailing, on the phone, etc., then your're going to have a lot of thoughts when it comes to meditation time. Just observe the thoughts, and let them be. They will gradually fade if you don't feed them.

Anything that arises in the body or mind in the present moment is a legitimate meditation object. Even unwholesome thoughts like lust and anger should be observed as they really are to understand their true nature, not to make them go away.
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby Demarous » Mon May 18, 2009 9:17 pm

Thank you for your advice, :bow:
so am i still to go back to focusing on my breath when i recognise i am thinking, hearing distracting sounds etc?
metta,
Demarous
.
"Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart."
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 19, 2009 2:17 am

Greetings Demarous,

Demarous wrote:so am i still to go back to focusing on my breath when i recognise i am thinking, hearing distracting sounds etc?

If you're doing samatha (tranquillity) meditation then you stick to a single object.

If you're doing vipassana (insight) meditation then return to the primary object (in this case, the breath) once you have dispassionately observed what encroached upon your field of awareness.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby MMK23 » Tue May 19, 2009 7:01 am

retrofuturist wrote:If you're doing samatha (tranquillity) meditation then you stick to a single object.

If you're doing vipassana (insight) meditation then return to the primary object (in this case, the breath) once you have dispassionately observed what encroached upon your field of awareness.


Hey retrofuturist!

From your clearly intentionally brief summary above, if one was doing samatha meditation, and the object was the breath, then what would be the difference between samatha and vipassana?

Sincerely,

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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 19, 2009 8:36 am

Greetings MMK23,

See this extract from Bhikkhu Sujato's "A Swift Pair of Messengers"....

http://aswiftpairofmessengers.googlepag ... dvipassana

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby MMK23 » Tue May 19, 2009 10:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings MMK23,

See this extract from Bhikkhu Sujato's "A Swift Pair of Messengers"....

http://aswiftpairofmessengers.googlepag ... dvipassana

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hey Retro :-)

Thanks for the link. Help me out though, I read it through and I couldn't find an answer. The only answer I could construct on the basis of that article would be, "If one is doing samatha and the object is the breath, and one is doing vipassana and the 'anchor' is the breath, then the difference is that one is samatha and one is vipassana."! Have I missed something obvious - I am inclined to do so :-)

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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 19, 2009 10:49 pm

Greetings MMK,

Sorry, your questions are getting confusing... :thinking:

Is there any chance you could reword them so I understand exactly what it is you're asking?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 20, 2009 12:18 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:If you're doing vipassana (insight) meditation then return to the primary object (in this case, the breath) once you have dispassionately observed what encroached upon your field of awareness.

Your summary sounded fine to me.
In the first case the aim is absorption into an object (which may be a concept, such as metta), so anything that arises is dealt with only to the extent necessary to be able to get on with watching the object.
In the second case the aim is to be aware of the reality of what is happening - the arising of sensations, thought, etc, so when those things arise you watch them. The primary object both induces calm and provides a focus when there is nothing else arising.

Here is another way of looking at it:
http://aimwell.org/Books/Other/Questions/questions.html
“Why did Mahāsi Sayādaw ignore ānāpānasati, which was directly taught by the Buddha, but introduced the rising-falling method?”

“Is ānāpānasati the same in essence as vipassanā and meditating on rising and falling, and able to lead to magga-phala and nibbāna?”

In answering these questions, Panditārāma Sayādaw explained the teachings of the Mahāsi Sayādaw as follows.

Ānāpānasati can take two directions. If the meditator strives to be mindful of the form or manner of the in-breath and the out-breath, then it is samatha meditation and leads to one pointed of mind. On the other hand, if the meditator notes the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath as it moves and touches, then it is vipassanā meditation. The element of wind or motion (vayo-dhātu) is rūpa or matter, while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is nāma or mind. Therefore, ānāpānasati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom. However, in the Visuddhimagga, in the section on kāyānupassana, or mindfulness of body, fourteen objects of meditation are discussed, and further subdivided into objects for samatha and vipassanā meditation. In the Visuddhimagga, ānāpānasati is presented as an object of samatha meditation. Consequently, if we are to instruct meditators to develop ānāpānasati as part of vipassanā meditation, we will be inviting much unwanted and unwarranted criticism and controversy. And neither Mahāsi Sayādaw or myself would want to argue here that the Visuddhimagga, the rightly venerated classic, is at fault here.

It has been said that by noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, meditators are distancing themselves from the teachings of the Buddha. The answer to this is a firm and definite “no.” Quite apart from the success that meditators have achieved by noting rising-falling, there is much solid evidence in the Buddhist scriptures, such as Salāyatana Vagga Samyutta, to show that the method is very much a part of the Buddha’s teachings regarding mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the elements (dhātu), and mindfulness of the five aggregates (khandhas).

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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby MMK23 » Wed May 20, 2009 3:15 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings MMK,

Sorry, your questions are getting confusing... :thinking:

Is there any chance you could reword them so I understand exactly what it is you're asking?

Metta,
Retro. :)


LOL. Good idea. Give me a while it's a very slow few days :thinking:
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Wed May 20, 2009 4:15 am

Hi Mikenz66,

This is really great! :anjali:

“Why did Mahāsi Sayādaw ignore ānāpānasati, which was directly taught by the Buddha, but introduced the rising-falling method?”

“Is ānāpānasati the same in essence as vipassanā and meditating on rising and falling, and able to lead to magga-phala and nibbāna?”

In answering these questions, Panditārāma Sayādaw explained the teachings of the Mahāsi Sayādaw as follows.

Ānāpānasati can take two directions. If the meditator strives to be mindful of the form or manner of the in-breath and the out-breath, then it is samatha meditation and leads to one pointed of mind. On the other hand, if the meditator notes the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath as it moves and touches, then it is vipassanā meditation. The element of wind or motion (vayo-dhātu) is rūpa or matter, while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is nāma or mind. Therefore, ānāpānasati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom. However, in the Visuddhimagga, in the section on kāyānupassana, or mindfulness of body, fourteen objects of meditation are discussed, and further subdivided into objects for samatha and vipassanā meditation. In the Visuddhimagga, ānāpānasati is presented as an object of samatha meditation. Consequently, if we are to instruct meditators to develop ānāpānasati as part of vipassanā meditation, we will be inviting much unwanted and unwarranted criticism and controversy. And neither Mahāsi Sayādaw or myself would want to argue here that the Visuddhimagga, the rightly venerated classic, is at fault here.

It has been said that by noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, meditators are distancing themselves from the teachings of the Buddha. The answer to this is a firm and definite “no.” Quite apart from the success that meditators have achieved by noting rising-falling, there is much solid evidence in the Buddhist scriptures, such as Salāyatana Vagga Samyutta, to show that the method is very much a part of the Buddha’s teachings regarding mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the elements (dhātu), and mindfulness of the five aggregates (khandhas).
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 20, 2009 4:26 am

Greetings,

I didn't like the subservience the above quotation showed with respect to the Visudhimagga classification of anapanasati as samatha only, despite the fact that the last two thirds or more of...

MN 118: Anapanasati Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

... are clearly about vipassana.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Wed May 20, 2009 4:32 am

Thanks for pointing that out Retro.

:anjali:
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Re: Trouble settling...

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 20, 2009 5:00 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
I didn't like the subservience the above quotation showed with respect to the Visudhimagga classification of anapanasati as samatha only, despite the fact that the last two thirds or more of...
MN 118: Anapanasati Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

... are clearly about vipassana.

Actually, Ven Pandita seems to agree with you.

What he says is not so much subservience as wanting to avoid arguments...
Consequently, if we are to instruct meditators to develop ānāpānasati as part of vipassanā meditation, we will be inviting much unwanted and unwarranted criticism and controversy. And neither Mahāsi Sayādaw or myself would want to argue here that the Visuddhimagga, the rightly venerated classic, is at fault here.

Metta
Mike
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