Re-evaluating my practice

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Ryan95227
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:29 am

Re-evaluating my practice

Post by Ryan95227 » Fri Apr 03, 2015 5:06 am

So I've been practicing buddhism for about 5 months so far. I read about 6-7 books on various authors such as bhikku, ajans, and etc. Right now I want to know if my own practice is either on right path or digressing?

Mindfulness
For this, I know that I must be constantly on alert, always being aware of the bodily movements and mind. Additionally, I also observe the defilements that arise. Unfortunately, I have some doubts about my own mindfulness. I tend to use many concepts, reasoning, and words whenever defilements come up. For an example, if my roomate plays a game with sound on and it bothers me I reason that " it is just a sound; my own tainted thoughts are persuading me to hate that sound even though sound is just a wave of energy." Another example is when restlessness and worry comes up in my mind. I try use a concept of letting go and try to reason that "this too will pass" or "universe is always changing and future is uncertain." I constantly see myself use reasonings and concepts. Should I just observe my mind the way it is?

Meditation
I find myself alternating between observing every moment of my breath to watching bodily sensation as i breathe in and out. I noticed that buddha had said to experience the whole body breathing in and out and also Thanissaro has also mentioned to fill the energy in the body with the breath. However i often find that my concentration is weakened when I do this. When i just purely concentrate on the in and out of the breath I concentrate better. Should i adopt this method?


Any advices?

jnak
Posts: 63
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2014 8:49 pm

Re: Re-evaluating my practice

Post by jnak » Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:16 am

In MN118, the Buddha says to train yourself to breathe in and out "sensitive to the entire body." I'd say that's a training objective, not something to expect yourself to do out of the box. For me, the most important part has been to not lose track of the breath. I seem to get better results when I stay with it in one place where it feels good. After that gets reliable you might want to watch it in other locations. Try to maintain a sensitive awareness of the body, but don't lose track of the breath.

I recomend Ajaan Lee's, Keeping the Breath in Mind. Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote the English translation and it contains the instructions he recomnended before publishing his own, With Each and Every Breath.
"...I'm not much of an expert when it comes to the texts. I've simply learned a few parts, and put them into practice." Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo

daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Re-evaluating my practice

Post by daverupa » Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:47 am

Ryan95227 wrote:Mindfulness
...For an example, if my roomate plays a game with sound on and it bothers me I reason that " it is just a sound; my own tainted thoughts are persuading me to hate that sound even though sound is just a wave of energy."
Sounds fine; why worry about using language at the mind sphere? It's just fine; please simply be aware you're doing it, and you'll prevent daydreams and papanca and so on, but thinking in and of itself still occurs in first jhana, so please be at ease.
I constantly see myself use reasonings and concepts.
Watch for wholesome & unwholesome themes, etc. - don't fight against this natural sense-sphere operation, use it with attention to the goal.
Meditation
I find myself alternating between observing every moment of my breath to watching bodily sensation as i breathe in and out. I noticed that buddha had said to experience the whole body breathing in and out and also Thanissaro has also mentioned to fill the energy in the body with the breath. However i often find that my concentration is weakened when I do this. When i just purely concentrate on the in and out of the breath I concentrate better. Should i adopt this method?
Concentrate better? Hmm... so, describe how concentration "is" when it's purely on the breath, and how concentration "is" when it's purely on the body, in your case.

I am going to guess that you're describing a difference between what could be steps 2 & 3 of anapanasati; if this is the case, "concentrate better" isn't the focus of a small zone, it's the smooth frictionless sense of images on a small glass sphere: a bit of a different phenomenological feel between them. The first could be taking a test, or watching intently through a sniper scope. The latter is more relaxed, less choosy, and so forth.

---

Have a look at the two books on Satipatthana by Analayo, as well, if you haven't yet.
  • "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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