I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

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BlueLotus
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I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by BlueLotus » Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:00 am

Trying to meditate. The mind simply does not stay on the breath for a simple 5 seconds. I have been doing this for months. What is wrong with me?

Vipassana has to be done after achieving some level of samadhi, right? I guess they recommend at least the first jhana before u do vipassana. I am nowhere near that.

Is this just me or is there anyone else who finds it practically impossible to quieten the mind? I cannot leave the life I live now. I have dependents. I can't ditch them and go to a monastery to meditate all day.

Any tips that can help me? Yes, I have tried counting. I have tried metta. I have tried walking. I have tried focusing on discursive thoughts. I have tried coffee. Nothing works.

mal4mac
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by mal4mac » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:14 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:00 am

Vipassana has to be done after achieving some level of samadhi, right?
Wrong. Or, at least, views differ.

Mahasi Sayadaw, one of the most renowned vipassana masters of modern times, said: "It is possible to begin straightaway with insight meditation without having previously developed full concentration in jhana" (Mahasi Sayadaw, Practical Insight Meditation, Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1971, p. 58).

Quoted:

http://www.vipassanadhura.com/jhana.html

In bare ("dry") insight meditation the student goes straight to vipassana practice without prior training in concentration. Nyanaponika Thera: "Though the term bare insight (sukkha vipassana) does not occur in the canonical Collection of Discourses of the Buddha (sutta-pitaka), there are numerous texts in that collection which are illustrative of that method of meditation, that is… instances where the penetrative insight into reality is followed by the entry into the stages of holiness [levels of enlightenment], without prior attainment of the Absorptions." (The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, York Beach: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1988, p. 103. ... one of the most highly regarded modern treatises on Buddhist meditation.)

Nyanaponika Thera also points out that bare insight might be better suited to modern times: "in this hectic and noisy age of ours, the natural quietude of mind, the capacity for higher degrees of concentration, and the requisite external conditions to cultivate both, have greatly decreased, compared with the days of old... The principal conditions required for cultivating the absorptions are seclusion and noiselessness; and these are very rare commodities nowadays. In addition, environment and education have produced an increasing number of those types who will naturally be more attracted by, and adapted to, the direct development of Insight. Under such circumstances, it would amount to a neglect of promising roads of progress if one were to insist rigidly on an exclusive approach through the absorptions, instead of making use of a method emphatically recommended by the Buddha himself: a method which is more easily adaptable to the current inner and outer conditions, and yet leads to the aspired goal." (The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, p. 104)

Achan Kor: "You could, if you wanted to, precisely follow all the steps in the texts so as to develop strong powers of mental absorption (jhana), but it takes a lot of time." She writes. "It's not appropriate for those of us who are old and have only a little time left" (An Unentangled Knowing, Barre: Dhamma Dana Publications, 1995, p. 34).

In Practical Insight Meditation, Mahasi Sayadaw remarks: "The Majjhima Nikaya commentary states… ‘Herein, some persons contemplate on the five aggregates of clinging as impermanent and so on without having previously developed tranquility... [i.e., jhana, or a lower level of absorption called "access concentration."] This contemplation is insight meditation’" (p. 59).

Another advantage to practicing "bare" insight rather than attaining jhana first is that the calmness of jhana is so pleasurable it may become addictive. You may become so attached to it they may get stuck there for years. Neglecting vipassana, they fail to make further progress on the path toward Nibbana.

"The aim of Buddhism is not serenity but the peace of… Nibbana, which is attainable only through insight-wisdom. Hence one should devote oneself to insight meditation" (Ven. Matara Sri Nanarama Mahathera, The Seven Contemplations of Insight, Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1997, p. 129).

Some concentration is necessary for insight meditation, but only "momentary concentration," a much weaker degree than that of the absorptions. Anyone can achieve momentary concentration, since it doesn’t require any special aptitude or a completely silent environment.

The purpose of concentration in meditation is to inhibit the five mental hindrances: lust, anger, restlessness, doubt and sleepiness. However, this can be accomplished with strong momentary concentration; jhana is not necessary.

Mahasi Sayadaw: "Though that concentration has only momentary duration, its power of resistance to being overwhelmed by opposition [i.e., the five hindrances] corresponds to that of access concentration [the strongest level of concentration after jhana]."

In the Commentary to the Visuddhimagga [Path of Purification], in the explanation of the chapter relating to mindfulness of breathing, it is said thus: "'Momentary unification of mind' means the concentration of mind lasting only for a moment. For that (type of concentration), too, when it occurs uninterruptedly with its respective object in a single mode and is not overcome by opposition, fixes the mind immovably, as if in absorption."

"It occurs uninterruptedly with its respective object" refers to the uninterrupted continuity of the thoughts engaged in noticing; after noticing one object, one attends, in the same manner, to another that follows immediately; again, having noticed that object, one turns to the next one, and so on.

"In a single mode" means: though the objects to be noticed, as they present themselves, are numerous and varied, yet the force of concentration of the mind uninterruptedly engaged in noticing remains virtually on the same level. For what is meant here is: just as the first object was noticed with a certain degree of concentration, so the second, third, and other subsequent objects are noticed in each case with the same degree of concentration.

"Is not overcome by opposition": this means that the momentary concentration in its uninterrupted flow is not overwhelmed by the mental hindrances. "As if in absorption": this means that the strength of the momentary concentration is similar to that of concentration which has reached full mental absorption. However, such similarity of momentary concentration with fully absorbed concentration will become evident (only) when the methodical practice of insight reaches its culmination. (The Progress of Insight: A Treatise on Buddhist Satipatthana Meditation. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1994, pp. 6-7)

So we see it is not necessary to attain jhana before practicing insight meditation. There are no more excuses, no more reasons to put it off. The time to practice vipassana is now, today— even this very moment.

-----------------------------------------

In summary, noticing the breath for five seconds is fine, if you then find thoughts interrupting, just notice them instead and let them go, and go back to the breath. You can't go wrong with Buddhist meditation if you are just paying attention to whatever comes up! Who cares if you aren't concentrated on one thing for hours... that's not the ultimate aim...

That said, you might find your ability to concentrate on the breath improve over the years until you can focus in it for hours! But don't stress it, bare insight (they say) can take you the whole way.
- Mal

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cappuccino
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by cappuccino » Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:00 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:00 am
Is this just me or is there anyone else who finds it practically impossible to quieten the mind?
the nature of the mind is to change!
Last edited by cappuccino on Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Zom
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by Zom » Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:04 pm

Any tips that can help me? Yes, I have tried counting. I have tried metta. I have tried walking. I have tried focusing on discursive thoughts. I have tried coffee. Nothing works.
Have you tried doing other things than meditation...?

JohnK
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by JohnK » Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:46 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:00 am
...Is this just me or is there anyone else who finds it practically impossible to quieten the mind?
...Any tips that can help me?
I recall being on retreat and having this problem -- for a long time (could not even count to two! -- was trying to stay with the breath).
The breath is intended to be an anchor for the attention -- not valuable in and of itself.
Somehow the thought came, "The only real anchor is what is happening in experience right now."
Somehow this thought freed me up from trying to jam my attention into the breath, to just know for example, how frustration/anxiety was showing up in my experience, how my knee was buzzing, how I didn't like the sound of the heater coming on. I was able to let go of the grip that was all tied up with my self-image: "I should be able to do this!" :tantrum:
Maybe some of my fixation on the breath was to push away other painful aspects of experience (apart from just trying to be a "good student" by following what I thought to be the instructions).
(By the way, it might be that it was related to the frustration "I should be able to figure all this out with my rational intelligence" -- not sure about that.)
Hopefully this may be helpful.
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]

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BlueLotus
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by BlueLotus » Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:11 pm

Zom wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:04 pm
Any tips that can help me? Yes, I have tried counting. I have tried metta. I have tried walking. I have tried focusing on discursive thoughts. I have tried coffee. Nothing works.
Have you tried doing other things than meditation...?
Like?

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BlueLotus
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by BlueLotus » Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:11 pm

JohnK wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:46 pm
BlueLotus wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:00 am
...Is this just me or is there anyone else who finds it practically impossible to quieten the mind?
...Any tips that can help me?
I recall being on retreat and having this problem -- for a long time (could not even count to two! -- was trying to stay with the breath).
The breath is intended to be an anchor for the attention -- not valuable in and of itself.
Somehow the thought came, "The only real anchor is what is happening in experience right now."
Somehow this thought freed me up from trying to jam my attention into the breath, to just know for example, how frustration/anxiety was showing up in my experience, how my knee was buzzing, how I didn't like the sound of the heater coming on. I was able to let go of the grip that was all tied up with my self-image: "I should be able to do this!" :tantrum:
Maybe some of my fixation on the breath was to push away other painful aspects of experience (apart from just trying to be a "good student" by following what I thought to be the instructions).
(By the way, it might be that it was related to the frustration "I should be able to figure all this out with my rational intelligence" -- not sure about that.)
Hopefully this may be helpful.
U mean to just me in the present moment?

dharmacorps
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by dharmacorps » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:21 pm

If you are "trying to attain" inner peace you will likely have limited results. Just follow the breath and leave your expectations aside.

befriend
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by befriend » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:35 pm

The buddha doesn't say observe the breath the satipatthana sutta is so engaging in practice it's totally engrossing. In training the mind do what Buddha said and read the mindfulness of breathing discourse you dont bend your mind and focus on your breath, it's about comprehension you understand you breath in long or short you breath in experiencing the whole body not watching the body if you practice like this there is no room for the mind to wander eventually after you start to tranquilize the Body while breathing in and out rapture will arise and your energy will be restful you will find rest and peace of heart mind.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by JohnK » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:41 pm

You asked a follow-up question:
BlueLotus wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:11 pm
U mean to just me in the present moment?
I'm not sure I'm understanding the question. If you are referring to my closing sentence "Hopefully this may be helpful," yes, I was trying to be helpful to you either in this present moment or when you find it "practically impossible to quiet the mind." I guess if anyone else finds it helpful, great. Of course, I know it might not be helpful at all; I was offering a "tip" as requested.
But maybe I am misunderstanding your follow-up question.
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]

befriend
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by befriend » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:42 pm

When walking he understands I am walking. That's the instruction. Understanding what your doing is different than placing your awareness on the feet on the ground. by comprehending that your walking using your thoughts to recognize what your doing awareness of the feet on the ground arises naturally spontaneously without straining.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

2600htz
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by 2600htz » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:00 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:00 am
Trying to meditate. The mind simply does not stay on the breath for a simple 5 seconds. I have been doing this for months. What is wrong with me?

Vipassana has to be done after achieving some level of samadhi, right? I guess they recommend at least the first jhana before u do vipassana. I am nowhere near that.

Is this just me or is there anyone else who finds it practically impossible to quieten the mind? I cannot leave the life I live now. I have dependents. I can't ditch them and go to a monastery to meditate all day.

Any tips that can help me? Yes, I have tried counting. I have tried metta. I have tried walking. I have tried focusing on discursive thoughts. I have tried coffee. Nothing works.
Hello:

Ok, you have restlessness, that is your hindrance. Why you have restlessness? its hard to tell, it can be for several reasons (not keeping the precepts, trying too hard, switching your object of meditation, over aroused persistence, guilt, remorse, etc ).

Its very hard to advice someone in a forum where everyone is doing a different kind of practice. Take it easy, see if you can keep your attention on a movie for the entire span of it, tune the 7 enlightment factors (if you have restlessness you have to bring the equanimity, the calmness, not the investigation factor, not the energy factor, but you don´t have to bring them to push away the hindrance, do it just because it makes you feel good).

Regards.

JohnK
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by JohnK » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:10 pm

Some quotes from Ajanh Amaro's The Breakthrough; Chapter "A Busy Mind Need Not Be a Problem," (quotes from pp.136-9).
Now, it is easy to fall into the habit of judging how our practice is going -- 'good meditation' vs. 'bad meditation'...Be aware of the mind judging experience in this way, for this is a false division.
In this practice, the intention is to learn from everything: wished for and not wished for..pleasant and painful. Ajahn Chah often used to say that liking and disliking are of equal value...of equal value as a source of insight...Certainly we recognize that when the mind is in a concentrated, peaceful state...this is beneficial. But if we attach to it...that...can be a cause of suffering...The main point is to learn from it.
When the mind is confused and busy, you might think, 'Well, this is really bad. My practice is falling apart.' But the mind which can recognize these unwholesome states is not unwholesome. That which recognizes entanglement is not entangled. Right there, there is mindfulness.
That which is fully aware of the agitated state is the pathway of release from it. So don't be caught in these judgements of 'things going well' or 'things going badly'. This is just the experience of different patterns and moods.
You may find that after practicing for some time, you settle into awareness and then long-standing attachments and preoccupations rise to the surface. It's not that anything has gone wrtong with your practice;...they've a bit of room to come to the surface. it was not that things were 'going well' ...and now they're 'going badly'...It is just that different things have different causes...and they appear at different times. The precise causes for everything...are not knowable...we don't need to...figure out why a particular feeling has manifested at this moment...You can't say exactly what is the cause of them, but what you can know is that they can be met with the heart of wisdom...mindfulness conjoined with wisdom. Wisdom knows that this is changing, this is unsatisfactory, this is not-self. And therefore you reflect, what can I learn from this...?
...liking and disliking are of equal value. Things come together. Things fall apart. Coming together and falling apart are of equal value...
https://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-books/ ... akthrough/
https://www.abhayagiri.org/books/610-the-breakthrough
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]

Caodemarte
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:00 am

Best advice I have heard is that if if more than 1 second makes you tense try 1 second. Come back to it. Repeat. Observe without comment your mind as it becomes distracted or agitated or focused on breathing or other meditation object.

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BlueLotus
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Re: I'm trying to attain some inner peace here

Post by BlueLotus » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:51 am

Caodemarte wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:00 am
Best advice I have heard is that if if more than 1 second makes you tense try 1 second. Come back to it. Repeat. Observe without comment your mind as it becomes distracted or agitated or focused on breathing or other meditation object.
I've been doing that for months. One might think I would have improved a tad bit by now but nooooo. Hence the frustration. :(

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