What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

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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Laurens
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What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

Post by Laurens » Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:28 pm

The title says it all really. I'll start.

If I could go back to when I first began meditation, I think I would tell myself to emphasise humility.

The ego manifests itself in subtle ways when it comes to meditation, and it can be difficult to detect because meditation is ostensibly a good thing, and it's much harder to see the grasp of the ego when it comes to something good. However I have always struggled with the ego-based notion that effort deserves reward. That I deserve to become a better person, have deep mystical experiences, and become more enlightened because I put the effort in to meditating every day. This can then lead to frustration, I've lost count of the number of times when my ego takes hold and goes on a 'WHERE'S MY REWARD!!' tirade. But meditation doesn't work on that level. The best approach is to view any benefits that occur from meditation as wholly unearned, and undeserved. To view them as acts of providence that one is wholly unworthy of rather than products of one's own brilliance. Of course effort does count for something, but at times, even after years of meditation, one's practise can take leaps backwards, and sometimes the benefits are perfectly invisible. It's not like a job where you put in the hours each day and receive the paycheck. Sometimes it is just endlessly difficult, and you can never expect to get anything out of it. However it is still an infinitely worthwhile pursuit, moreso paradoxically if one enters into it humbly, expecting nothing.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Justsit
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Re: What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

Post by Justsit » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:13 pm

Not specific to Theravada meditation; there are many types of meditation, but in general...

Relax. Breathe. Watch thoughts go by like clouds in the sky. Let go of trying to achieve something.
Not too tight, not too loose.

SarathW
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Re: What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

Post by SarathW » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:34 pm

It all depends on what type of meditation you are talking about.
It is important to take three refuges before you start Satipathana Meditation.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Mkoll
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Re: What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

Post by Mkoll » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:48 am

In your newfound enthusiasm for meditation, don't contort yourself into positions (such as half or full lotus) before your body is flexible enough for them. Sometimes, pain is not something to patiently endure but a warning to move before you hurt yourself.

Great idea for a thread!
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

JohnK
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Re: What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

Post by JohnK » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:26 am

Advice 1: Don't try to intensely "smash through" to "enlightenment."
Advice 2: Don't think "figuring this out" will get you there.
Advice 3: Don't spend your time thinking about what you will say to the teacher.
Advice 4; Don't beat yourself up for sucking at this.
Caveat: If I did have this advice and followed it, I would not have learned (painfully but clearly) what not to do.
(But I likely would have found other ways to do it wrong and learned about those instead.) :)
Last edited by JohnK on Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:32 am

I would have told my forceful, intense younger self to
Relax, let go.
Relax, let go.

Relax, let go!

Srilankaputra
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Re: What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

Post by Srilankaputra » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:33 am

This;
Beings deceived by the mind
_Cittena vañcitā sattā

playing in Māra’s domain
_mārassa visaye ratā
https://suttacentral.net/thig6.7/en/sujato
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

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TLCD96
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Re: What advice would you have given yourself when you began meditating?

Post by TLCD96 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:36 pm

Before I even started meditating, I determined to read most of, if not all of, the Visuddhimagga. "If I really want to be a good meditator, I better learn from the best". So I downloaded a PDF and began spending hours each day reading slowly and color-coding different passages and summarizing each section. I made it at least 1/3 of the way through the book.

:reading: :tantrum: :toilet:

It was so not helpful!

My advice would be: put down the big books and start looking for a teacher in the area!
All of us are bound by birth, aging, and death.

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