Practice Template

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

Postby Pseudobabble » Thu May 04, 2017 8:18 am

Hi Everyone,

I'd like to post my practice template for you to evaluate and comment on. Perhaps it could help someone too. It's pretty short and simple. I'd be very interested in suggestions and constructive criticism, particularly with regard to how practices could be removed, added, or modified to bring about useful mental and emotional states.

There are some non-Theravada practices in here, but nothing crazy - I hope it doesn't cause a :rolleye:


Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series - It helps focus and put the mind into the body. Throughout the practice, you have to keep paying attention to your body parts, and balance, breathing. It also really helps to get rid of mental dullness, which is invaluable in the morning (also evening if you've had a tiring/boring day).

3 short rounds of Kapalabhati pranayama - also really helps to rid the mind of dullness, torpor. It oxygenates the blood, and clears the residual volume of the lungs of stale air. Give it a try :). I find it helps with relaxing your breathing apparatus; afterwards, breathing in a relaxed, unforced fashion is much easier. Make sure you find a reputable source for the practice method - if anyone is interested I can give the steps I use.

Buddho & Counting - Doing two things at once gives the mind all the activity it can handle. I subvocalise the 'Buddho' (In breath = 'Budd', out breath = 'ho'), and count the Buddho's without subvocalising. I count 1-2-3-2-1, 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1, 1-2-3-2-1. By that point the mind is usually quite quiet.

Then Body Scan/Part-by-Part - If the mind is still wanting to do something 'more interesting' than meditation at this point, this will usually give it that something. Depending on how much it wants to whizz around, you can be more or less detailed with your examination.

Abdomen Focus - Focussing on the belly, with a broad awareness which takes in the whole body. Now the mind is usually quite happy to settle down, and I can usually achieve some degree of samadhi.

What do you think?
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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Bhante Lucky
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Re: Practice Template

Postby Bhante Lucky » Thu May 04, 2017 9:05 am

Those things sound fine. Now add some sutta reading or other text-based study. Just 10 minutes per day.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Practice Template

Postby Pseudobabble » Thu May 04, 2017 9:36 am

Bhante Lucky wrote:Those things sound fine. Now add some sutta reading or other text-based study. Just 10 minutes per day.


Thank you Bhante. I actually read suttas all day long, at work, and at home. If that sounds silly, its because the more I read, the deeper my understanding gets, and the more small details appear as key points. :) Recently Yoniso Manasikara and Paticcasamuppada have been uppermost in my mind.

Do you have any suggestions for structured sutta reading to help deepen my understanding?
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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Bhante Lucky
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Re: Practice Template

Postby Bhante Lucky » Thu May 04, 2017 10:39 am

Pseudobabble wrote:Do you have any suggestions for structured sutta reading to help deepen my understanding?

No, just whatever is interesting to you. Keeping your reading interesting and relevant is the important part of study, otherwise it can get really dry and deadly dull.
You could focus on the "important" suttas I guess, like from Bhikkhu Bodhi's compilation, but I suspect you are aware of that book already. :reading:
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Practice Template

Postby Pseudobabble » Thu May 04, 2017 10:46 am

Bhante Lucky wrote:
Pseudobabble wrote:Do you have any suggestions for structured sutta reading to help deepen my understanding?

No, just whatever is interesting to you. Keeping your reading interesting and relevant is the important part of study, otherwise it can get really dry and deadly dull.
You could focus on the "important" suttas I guess, like from Bhikkhu Bodhi's compilation, but I suspect you are aware of that book already. :reading:


I really love the suttas about Right View, like the one in my signature. I studied philosophy for a long time, and those suttas are the transcendence of philosophy. A complete paradigm shift, so to speak.

"But, Master Gotama, the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?"

"'Reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

"In that case, Master Gotama, he does not reappear."

"'Does not reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

"...both does & does not reappear."

"...doesn't apply."

"...neither does nor does not reappear."

"...doesn't apply."

"How is it, Master Gotama, when Master Gotama is asked if the monk reappears... does not reappear... both does & does not reappear... neither does nor does not reappear, he says, '...doesn't apply' in each case. At this point, Master Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured."

"Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know.


It's genius.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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retrofuturist
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Re: Practice Template

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 04, 2017 11:24 am

Greetings,

What do you think?

I think it's nice enough as far as it goes. Looks and feels quite spiritual.

Can you point to a liberative aspect of it though? I assume that's the "why", I'm just not seeing the "how".

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Having dispelled all darkness, he found delight in being alone" (Thanissaro) (Snp v.956)

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Re: Practice Template

Postby binocular » Thu May 04, 2017 11:58 am

Your signature says:
Pseudobabble wrote:'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

Is this your metaphysical outlook?
How do you synchronize it with Buddhism?

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Practice Template

Postby Pseudobabble » Thu May 04, 2017 12:13 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

What do you think?

I think it's nice enough as far as it goes. Looks and feels quite spiritual.

Can you point to a liberative aspect of it though? I assume that's the "why", I'm just not seeing the "how".

Metta,
Paul. :)


The yoga and pranayama are just preparation for meditation.

The body scan and abdomen-focus anapanasati calm down my mind, and help to see the 3 characteristics in action. Otherwise, the calmness helps me avoid getting caught up in daily crap, which in turn provides space to practice right view. I'm really working on seeing the world in terms of right view.

Is that what you meant by liberative?


binocular wrote:Your signature says:
Pseudobabble wrote:
'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

Is this your metaphysical outlook?
How do you synchronize it with Buddhism?


Well, in terms of the physical body, we do return to the component elements which make us up. I find the Genesis quote quite helpful for remembering the finality and temporality of life, as well as the composite nature of the body which is 'mine'.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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retrofuturist
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Re: Practice Template

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 04, 2017 12:29 pm

Greetings,

Otherwise, the calmness helps me avoid getting caught up in daily crap, which in turn provides space to practice right view. I'm really working on seeing the world in terms of right view.

Is that what you meant by liberative?

Indeed it is. Good stuff. :thumbsup:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Having dispelled all darkness, he found delight in being alone" (Thanissaro) (Snp v.956)

binocular
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Re: Practice Template

Postby binocular » Thu May 04, 2017 6:03 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:I'm really working on seeing the world in terms of right view.

Could you describe a bit what that looks like in practice?

Especially in relation to the formulation in MN 117:
"And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view. And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view...

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view."

Do you, for example, keep a gratitude journal, have regular sessions to analyze your behavior in terms of good and bad actions, make a point of serving your parents, make specific vows and monitor yourself whether you are keeping them, ...?

Well, in terms of the physical body, we do return to the component elements which make us up. I find the Genesis quote quite helpful for remembering the finality and temporality of life, as well as the composite nature of the body which is 'mine'.

I asked because that Genesis quote could open the door to annihilationism. But it seems we clarified that.

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Re: Practice Template

Postby Pseudobabble » Fri May 05, 2017 4:57 pm

binocular wrote:
Pseudobabble wrote:I'm really working on seeing the world in terms of right view.

Could you describe a bit what that looks like in practice?

Especially in relation to the formulation in MN 117:
"And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view. And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view...

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view."


Do you, for example, keep a gratitude journal, have regular sessions to analyze your behavior in terms of good and bad actions, make a point of serving your parents, make specific vows and monitor yourself whether you are keeping them, ...?


In practice, it means being aware of what I am thinking, feeling etc, what it is in response to, and assessing whether that response is the result of a misperception.

For example (true story) - someone says to me 'I am smarter than you'. This makes me feel bad. I notice the bad feeling, and assess why it has come about. I realise it is because I have interpreted the statement to mean my intelligence is somehow inadequate if it is not greater than the intelligence of the person talking to me. I realise that I am, to some degree, basing my self-view (self-worth, self-esteem, w/e) on superiority of intellect. Then I realise that the bad feeling comes from how I derive my self-view, and that the self-view itself is at fault, because it requires a basis. I try to look at the statement, the interpretation, and the resultant bad feeling as suffering (stress, w/e), the origination of suffering, and then I understand the the path to the cessation of that suffering is the removal of the cause - the self-view. Obviously this doesn't mean I have removed that self-view right there and then. But if I do that again and again, it wears down that basis, and eventually the self-view will collapse. I love the path, because it provides the mental tools (Right View, among others) for deconstructing the world-view and self-views which cause me suffering. I am beginning to understand why Right View is the beginning of the path.

Does that make sense?
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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Re: Practice Template

Postby binocular » Fri May 05, 2017 5:11 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:In practice, it means being aware of what I am thinking, feeling etc, what it is in response to, and assessing whether that response is the result of a misperception.

For example (true story) - someone says to me 'I am smarter than you'.
/.../

Does that make sense?

Of course it makes sense!

I do that too. However, for me, this kind of practice as you describe above seems to "hang in the air" somehow. I do it, but the next time around it feels like I'm starting from scratch, with nothing to build on. I am prone to forgetfulness; and without external memory aides (such as journals, post-its, other reminders), things just seem to hang in the air for me, and then they go out the window, poof, like they've never existed. It is really frustrating!

Have you encountered this problem too, and if yes, how did you solve it?

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Re: Practice Template

Postby Pseudobabble » Fri May 05, 2017 6:04 pm

binocular wrote:
Pseudobabble wrote:In practice, it means being aware of what I am thinking, feeling etc, what it is in response to, and assessing whether that response is the result of a misperception.

For example (true story) - someone says to me 'I am smarter than you'.
/.../

Does that make sense?

Of course it makes sense!

I do that too. However, for me, this kind of practice as you describe above seems to "hang in the air" somehow. I do it, but the next time around it feels like I'm starting from scratch, with nothing to build on. I am prone to forgetfulness; and without external memory aides (such as journals, post-its, other reminders), things just seem to hang in the air for me, and then they go out the window, poof, like they've never existed. It is really frustrating!

Have you encountered this problem too, and if yes, how did you solve it?


I'm really bad with recording things. I start a notebook for something, then put it somewhere, and rediscover it 6 months later. But I know that repeated patterns of thought wear a 'groove' into the mind - this is actually a neurological phenomenon, so I'd say as long as you keep repeating, keep repeating, and don't stop, you will get the effect. I know this because when comparing my past behaviour and mental states to present ones, there is a clear improvement along the lines that have been repeated.

I suppose what I am saying is that remembering your goal and the method, and relentlessly applying the method will get you there. It has worked for me so far. There are probably more efficient ways, but simple is good, and its easy for me to get sidetracked trying to discover the 'optimal' method.

Writing things down is very, very helpful, but I feel (with no more evidence than our present communication) that you may be underestimating how much effect you are having just from practising. Try to see the results that you have gained from practising so far. It's a feedback loop - practising leads to results, however small, seeing those results leads to increased confidence that the methods are effective, and increased desire to keep practising, which leads to stronger results.. and so on.

Was it helpful?
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

binocular
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Re: Practice Template

Postby binocular » Sun May 07, 2017 12:09 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:I'm really bad with recording things. I start a notebook for something, then put it somewhere, and rediscover it 6 months later. But I know that repeated patterns of thought wear a 'groove' into the mind - this is actually a neurological phenomenon, so I'd say as long as you keep repeating, keep repeating, and don't stop, you will get the effect. I know this because when comparing my past behaviour and mental states to present ones, there is a clear improvement along the lines that have been repeated.
/.../
Writing things down is very, very helpful, but I feel (with no more evidence than our present communication) that you may be underestimating how much effect you are having just from practising. Try to see the results that you have gained from practising so far. It's a feedback loop - practising leads to results, however small, seeing those results leads to increased confidence that the methods are effective, and increased desire to keep practising, which leads to stronger results.. and so on.

Unless one actually records the results, how can one be sure that one is in fact improving, as opposed to just feeling or having the impression that one is improving?

I have noticed that it is possible to hype myself up, engage in some practices, and to then feel more productive, have the impression that I am feeling more calm, have the impression that I am making progress -- when in fact I don't know whether I am in fact more productive, or more calm, or actually making progress. Sometimes, I even get rudely awakened by reality that despite feeling that I was being more this or that, I actually am not.

Basically, I've noticed that it is possible to do a practice and then (unknowingly?) fool oneself that one is progressing, that the practice is effective. Theoretically, it should be they way you're describing it, but I haven't seen it yet.

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Re: Practice Template

Postby Pseudobabble » Fri May 12, 2017 6:44 pm

binocular wrote:Unless one actually records the results, how can one be sure that one is in fact improving, as opposed to just feeling or having the impression that one is improving?



I know it, because I used to have many, many angry thoughts, violent thoughts, out of all proportion to external reality. I don't have them any more. I have no 'proof' that this is due to the practice, but the timing is concurrent, and given that these types of thoughts are one of the things that the practice removes - it seems like more than a coincidence, shall we say.

When something does happen to cause an emotion, lets say a family member says some annoying things: previously, it would have been difficult to control my response, the necessary mental space and calm to consider what was said, how it was meant, and how best to respond to it weren't there. They are there now. Again this development has been concurrent with my practice. When I stopped practising for a year - all the good stuff went away. Again - by no means 'proof', but it's good enough for me.


binocular wrote:I have noticed that it is possible to hype myself up, engage in some practices, and to then feel more productive, have the impression that I am feeling more calm, have the impression that I am making progress -- when in fact I don't know whether I am in fact more productive, or more calm, or actually making progress. Sometimes, I even get rudely awakened by reality that despite feeling that I was being more this or that, I actually am not.

Basically, I've noticed that it is possible to do a practice and then (unknowingly?) fool oneself that one is progressing, that the practice is effective. Theoretically, it should be they way you're describing it, but I haven't seen it yet.


To be honest, I feel that attention to progress is not the greatest aid. To be sure, evidence of progress spurs one on to further practice, how could it not? But I have found that what works for me is to attach value to the process, the practice. Let the progress come when it will. (So many words beginning with 'p'). In my samatha practice I get much better results if I focus on being aware of the breath, instead of focussing on achieving jhana.

If it works for you to write stuff down - I'm no authority to tell you otherwise. If it works, do it, by all means.

EDIT: I said earlier, try to see the results, then in this post, I say don't focus on them. :? Do whatever works for you, whatever motivates you to practice. Thanissaro has some nice stuff on how we have to use desire to go beyond desire - I'd say, figure out what works for you, and do it.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

binocular
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Re: Practice Template

Postby binocular » Sun May 14, 2017 4:54 pm

Thank you for your reply.

I've been thinking about what bothers me about your suggestion, and I think I'm onto something: Namely, I've grown up in a family (and extended social environment) where people place a low value on learning, training, practice. What matters here are 1. results, and 2. getting things right the first time around, or the second time at most.
Here's an example: I've recently injured myself with a sickel (nothing too bad) while working in my mother's garden. Once my mother found out, she angrily told me that I may never again work with a sickel. She had previously forbidden me to do the tasks after I had made a mistake or didn't do a very good job the first time around. I never objected and tried to see things her way. But this time, with the sickel injury, I actually told her that I will make an effort to be more careful in the future, surely there has to be a way to learn to use this tool more safely. But she resisted, saying that some things just can't be learned, and that one either knows them or not.

So yes, it looks like this is where I got this low opinion of learning, training, practice, and it comes with a lot of social pressure and baggage to keep it that way. Pressure and baggage that I often don't even seem to be aware of, but it seems to affect me anyway.

Learning to appreciate, see value in learning, training, practice -- this will be something quite new for me!

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Re: Practice Template

Postby R1111 » Wed May 17, 2017 5:56 pm

I would advice dropping the breathing exercises to stop trying to "cheat" one's way out of drowsiness and painful feelings, drowsiness is a valid meditation object for insight meditation, other than that i would be doing the yoga very mindfully if i was to do it and focusing on developing Mindfulness in daily activities.


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