Don't like to meditate

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
nobody12345
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by nobody12345 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:35 am

Ben wrote:Just do it.
Indeed.
Serious meditation is the hardest work in Samsara.
So the mind plays all the tricks and makes all the possible excuse to avoid it.
But there really is no short cut or substitute for meditation.
I have been meditating twice a day for 2 years and half and still, time to time, I have to clench my teeth and fists to sit and meditate.
Aversion toward meditation is very common and sooner or later, you need to confront it.
The mind plays trick on you over and over in order to remain in Samsara and quench its desire on various formations/objects.
If you want to progress toward freedom, you really need to confront its laziness and conformity

nobody12345
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by nobody12345 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:47 am

plwk wrote:Spot on Ben. I think there was once I spotted an Ajahn Chah quote...
If you like to meditate, then meditate. If you don't like to meditate, then meditate.
That's one of my all time favorite quote of Ajahn Chah.
That very motto has been my meditation mantra for past 2 years and half.
I think a make it or break it factor of practice is consistency (i.e. keep going whether rain or shine).
Anybody can meditate when things run smoothly.
However, those who penetrated higher Dhamma are the ones who persevere in the middle of shit storms.

RatherSkeptic
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by RatherSkeptic » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:14 am

imaginos wrote: I have been meditating twice a day for 2 years and half and still, time to time, I have to clench my teeth and fists to sit and meditate.
Aversion toward meditation is very common and sooner or later, you need to confront it.
And? Did you discouver any progress during these last 2 years? Something that tells you that the confrontation will pay off in the end? Or are you telling us that you exactly still feel just like before you've started meditation?

As for me, I can totally understand Digity!

I've been doing the same for 1,5 years now, 2 times a day often - without even a trace of progress! No blissful experince, no relief of stress, no inner peace, no "weird experiences", no nimitta, no pittishuka, no sudden joy, no sudden sadness, no more mindfulness in daily life, no more concentration in daily life, no more inner peace in daily life...well, some of you might remember the other thread I've started...nothing has changed since then.

Okay, there's one effect I always feel: Exhaustion. At the end of meditating, I feel tired and exhausted every time because forcing my mind to be either aware of all distractions (Vipassana) or of concentrating on one single object (Samadhi) is just such a drain - not gain - of energy! But this is what meditation is: Forcing your mind to a meditation object or the sensations by mere willpower until... "something" happens...right?

Of course, other activites are exhausting too - like yoga, jogging, weight lifting, learning for mathematics, practising a music instrument, etc. But you get something back from these activities! You become more skillful, the hard work always pays off and you get something back from it. Which is why activities like these make sense. As for meditation, I've done it like you said, imaginos: I've clenched my teeth and worked so hard to force my mind to the object again and again, but contrary to all the other things, it has given me nothing back! It only got worse, especially right after the meditation session, I soon felt like being drowned in the stream of thoughts, making me feel like I didn't meditate at all.

So why I'm still trying to do this? Why I'm actually here? I don't know for sure anymore.

As for Digity, I can only agree with him. 'til now, it all feels like one big hoax. Are you telling me now that it's normal to feel like this for the whole first 2 years?

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DAWN
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by DAWN » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:38 am

Meditation is not about get things, meditation is about let them go (c) Ajahn Chaa

Be happy that you have nothing, it's better that have something and be attached to it.
If someone serch something to be attached on it, the one can putt a collar on the neck and attch it to something wery weigh, it's faster and better than meditation, visible right here and now.

With metta. :meditate:
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

Maarten
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Maarten » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:56 am

If you have to exert all your willpower to sit on that cushion, if it is a painful horrible experience and all you want to do is just run away then aren't you torturing yourself? Isn't that one of the extremes to be avoided on the middle way?

If it is such a horrible experience and you are getting nowhere then you are probably doing something wrong and should try to make some adjustments.

“Upali, the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities do not lead to
utter disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to
self-awakening, nor to Unbinding’: You may categorically hold, ‘This is not the
Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher’s instruction.’
“As for the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead to utter
disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-
awakening, to Unbinding’: You may categorically hold, ‘This is the Dhamma,
this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’”
AN 7:80

Digity
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Digity » Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:59 pm

RatherSkeptic wrote:
imaginos wrote: I have been meditating twice a day for 2 years and half and still, time to time, I have to clench my teeth and fists to sit and meditate.
Aversion toward meditation is very common and sooner or later, you need to confront it.
And? Did you discouver any progress during these last 2 years? Something that tells you that the confrontation will pay off in the end? Or are you telling us that you exactly still feel just like before you've started meditation?

As for me, I can totally understand Digity!

I've been doing the same for 1,5 years now, 2 times a day often - without even a trace of progress! No blissful experince, no relief of stress, no inner peace, no "weird experiences", no nimitta, no pittishuka, no sudden joy, no sudden sadness, no more mindfulness in daily life, no more concentration in daily life, no more inner peace in daily life...well, some of you might remember the other thread I've started...nothing has changed since then.

Okay, there's one effect I always feel: Exhaustion. At the end of meditating, I feel tired and exhausted every time because forcing my mind to be either aware of all distractions (Vipassana) or of concentrating on one single object (Samadhi) is just such a drain - not gain - of energy! But this is what meditation is: Forcing your mind to a meditation object or the sensations by mere willpower until... "something" happens...right?

Of course, other activites are exhausting too - like yoga, jogging, weight lifting, learning for mathematics, practising a music instrument, etc. But you get something back from these activities! You become more skillful, the hard work always pays off and you get something back from it. Which is why activities like these make sense. As for meditation, I've done it like you said, imaginos: I've clenched my teeth and worked so hard to force my mind to the object again and again, but contrary to all the other things, it has given me nothing back! It only got worse, especially right after the meditation session, I soon felt like being drowned in the stream of thoughts, making me feel like I didn't meditate at all.

So why I'm still trying to do this? Why I'm actually here? I don't know for sure anymore.

As for Digity, I can only agree with him. 'til now, it all feels like one big hoax. Are you telling me now that it's normal to feel like this for the whole first 2 years?
Well, since I posted this I've been more focused on improving my life circumstances to help support my meditation. For instance, I decided to take up the 5 precepts...the biggie was giving up alcohol, but I decided to do it. Lately, I have felt more motivated to meditate. What annoys me the most is how I try to control my breath so much....if I could get past that I think I'd enjoy the meditation more.

The Buddhist past has improved my life greatly. It's not just about meditation! There's the moral aspect of the path and also the awareness does help relieve suffering. As I understood that all things were impermanent I held on to things with less of a grip and that saved myself a great deal of suffering.

I don't think meditation is a hoax...I just don't think the conditions are in place for me to full benefit from it. I don't think meditation is something you can force into something. Maybe you're not ready for meditation? Maybe you need to work on other areas for that to fall into place? That's been my attitude lately. I'm questioning whether I'm really ready for meditation and what I need to improve in my life to make it a more positive experience. I think we just assume we should be good at meditation if we force it enough, but I don't think meditation is like weightlifting where it's pure exertion...it's much more subtle than that. I guess that's what frustrates me with it. Anyway, I will continue to work with the practice...I'm not going to let my current difficulties stop me from meditating, because I do think there's value in developing concentration and stilling the mind.

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reflection
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by reflection » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:17 pm

Hi to both Dignity and RatherSkeptic.

If you are suffering, you are attached to something, you crave something. Ask yourself what that could be.

I see a lot of: "If only I were more motivated, if only I could concentrate more, if only I could not control the breath etc." This attitude of trying to change things is what you take into meditation and that's exactly why it isn't working and why it isn't enjoyable. Meditation is having a good time because you don't have to become anyone or anything, you don't need to control anything. Samadhi is not a foced thing. I always dislike the translation 'concentration' for that reason. Instead, you can just let go. No need to be in control any longer, what a peace! The mind will take care of the rest. Just take doing away and peace will naturally arise.

So this:
But this is what meditation is: Forcing your mind to a meditation object or the sensations by mere willpower until... "something" happens...right?
is exactly what meditation is not. Will is one of the most important things you should let go off to get an enjoyable meditation, it's not something to use (99% of the time).

So sit down, whatever happens, it's fine. Your mind was active? ok. Your mind was peaceful? also ok. No reason to be upset, angry, disappointed, also no reason to be extra exited. It's all just nature. You can't control your own mind as you have noticed, so why get agitated about it? The more you force, the more you control, the more the mind gets annoyed. So don't get involved, that's what no-self means.

With metta,
Reflection

nobody12345
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by nobody12345 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:40 pm

@RatherSkeptic, I think you misunderstood my post.
I did not say that I have to clench my teeth and fists for 2 years and half day in and day out.
I did say 'time to time' that I have to do that in order to sit and meditate.
Overall, my meditation practice has been fruitful.
And I do experience nice things generated by meditation time to time as well.
However, my point is, the ultimate aim of practice is to see the things as they really are.
Blissed out status of the awareness with wonderful deep concentration is nice and dandy but even if one is not getting such joys, still meditation is not a waste of time.
The dry path, which is dreaded by many is not so terrible if one's aim is not about having temporary fix (blissed out) but to see the things as they really are, and as a consequence, to break out from the cosmic jail, Samsara.
And I can relate to your frustration.
But hey, at least we have a map to break out from the jail and think about all the inmates that have no clue or no long term hope while indulging endlessly in evanescent physical pleasures.
Anyway, I wish you the best for your practice.
(For a full disclosure, I experience more pain and suffering than blissed out moments but after all, we are trying to break out from the cosmic jail, Samsara so things won't be easy and that's natural. Dhamma is going against the stream of entire Samsara and if that was not the case, meditation/ jail break (from Samsara) won't be so difficult. But the funny thing about difficulties that relate to meditation is, whenever that period passed away, I found my practice progressed than before. It always goes like that for me. A certain period of difficulties and sufferings, then after the period, I found my meditation improved than before. And I am confident that even if you are frustrated about meditation, keep pursuing with perseverance is infinitely more beneficial to you than giving up meditation and follow the stream of Samsara.)

RatherSkeptic
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by RatherSkeptic » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:02 pm

reflection wrote: I see a lot of: "If only I were more motivated, if only I could concentrate more, if only I could not control the breath etc." This attitude of trying to change things is what you take into meditation and that's exactly why it isn't working and why it isn't enjoyable. Meditation is having a good time because you don't have to become anyone or anything, you don't need to control anything. Samadhi is not a foced thing. I always dislike the translation 'concentration' for that reason. Instead, you can just let go. No need to be in control any longer, what a peace! The mind will take care of the rest. Just take doing away and peace will naturally arise.
If Samadhi/Samatha is just "letting go", I wonder how to get back to the actual meditation object, the breath that is...

I mean, isn't it thaught that you have to hold on to the object for every possible moment, every millisecond? If that's not the definition of "forcing the mind", then I don't know what it is...

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reflection
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by reflection » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:14 pm

Hi,

The mind will hold itself, it will get itself back if it is contented where it is. So if you are not at ease and pick up the breath, it won't really work. You'll try to force, but contrary to other things in life, meditation is not learned by forcing and repeating. It learns itself in a way.

If you have some initial peace and contentment, following the breath will pretty much happen all by itself. You don't have to do anything, because everything 'you' do is disturbing the mind from a natural process. That's why letting go is backing up, it is not getting involved, it's 'you' disappearing. Perhaps just a slight nudge of the mind onto the breath is needed, that's the one percent I left open, but even that is not always needed.

So meditation is letting it all go, let thought go, let control go, let the will go, just be contented with whatever arises. Then it will be pleasant, then it'll begin to have some fruits and will become easy to maintain. It's a bit like taking a bath. You don't swim around in it, disturb the water etc. You just sit in the bath and enjoy your time. Let the water settle.

So perhaps next time you could try to develop some initial peace by just being with the present moment. Forget about the breath. If time is ready, the mind will pick it up automatically. Why? Because it becomes the coarsest thing to notice, so it's only natural.

I wish you the best.

With metta,
Reflection

RatherSkeptic
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by RatherSkeptic » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:00 pm

So you're saying that focusing on the breath is wrong - in samadhi? Because the mind would turn to the breath by itself? Sorry, but that's not just very unconvincing, it's also a direct contradiction to what I've read about Samatha meditation.

For instance, I've read "beyond mindfulness in plain english" by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. I am happy to show you parts of this book here, from google books: http://books.google.de/books?id=UGzTsKE ... sh&f=false

Would you (all here) mind if you scroll down to page 72 on that link? Thank you.

Now, at the begin of the 3rd paragraph on this page, it is clearly said: First, fasten the mind on the breath and hold it there. That word, fasten! Like a seatbelt. Sounds to me if I really need to work hard to focus on the breath, thus forcing my mind, that's how I read this.

I know there are more examples from this book, but they can't be read on this link. For example, in chapter 9 "access concentration", he speaks about noting the breath in each of it's stages, the beginning, the middle, the end... So as I understand it, the meditator really HAS to work hard not to miss any stage of the breath, and he or she needs to be concentrated all the time, just like during a math exam. Which is why they've translated Samadhi into concentration. At least the translation makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

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reflection
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by reflection » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:49 pm

Hi,

I don't know V. Gunaratana's book really well, so I won't go into that. You'll have to ask him what he means. But for now I would point to his analogy of the muddy cup on the next page. What do you do to settle the mud? You put down the cup. This means you back up, you let go, you don't disturb the water; very similar to the bathtub I gave before (I'm quite sure the still water analogy comes from suttas originally). And so, you don't get 'doing' involved.

So that aside, I can respond in more detail to what I said. I'm not saying focussing is wrong, I'm saying willfully focussing is not useful, because doing things with willpower is not creating peace. You can apply the mind to the breath, it doesn't always have to go automatically. However, in the end the mind will have to stick by itself to really get settled, whether you applied it or it went by itself. If it doesn't like to stay there by itself, it won't. You can force it back for 100 years, but it just won't stay if you treat the mind like that. Perhaps it will stay for a few minutes or even longer, but it won't enjoy it and I don't see meditation progressing then. It'll be more like a struggle, which meditation isn't really supposed to be as far as I'm concerned. It's about being kind to yourself and about being happy.

So instead of trying to go against this idea, why not try it? As I understand the method you applied so far didn't really help, so at least you could give an alternative a go. By focussing on the present moment, see if the mind will go to the breath automatically. I can see how it may sound unconvincing, but it really does happen and not just to me, so I hope you can experience it in some way or the other. Otherwise there is still plenty of peace before going onto the breath.

Do please note that the difference 'you' and 'the mind' in all the above is really artificial, which could give rise to some confusion between different explanations of different people. In reality there is no such a 'you', so if a teacher says 'you' do something in meditation, that's actually the mind doing it. But initially I think it can be useful to make a distinction, especially if you get a lot of stress out of meditation, that means you are trying too hard.

With metta,
Reflection

Maarten
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Maarten » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:07 pm

reflection wrote:Hi to both Dignity and RatherSkeptic.

If you are suffering, you are attached to something, you crave something. Ask yourself what that could be.

I see a lot of: "If only I were more motivated, if only I could concentrate more, if only I could not control the breath etc." This attitude of trying to change things is what you take into meditation and that's exactly why it isn't working and why it isn't enjoyable. Meditation is having a good time because you don't have to become anyone or anything, you don't need to control anything. Samadhi is not a foced thing. I always dislike the translation 'concentration' for that reason. Instead, you can just let go. No need to be in control any longer, what a peace! The mind will take care of the rest. Just take doing away and peace will naturally arise.

So this:
But this is what meditation is: Forcing your mind to a meditation object or the sensations by mere willpower until... "something" happens...right?
is exactly what meditation is not. Will is one of the most important things you should let go off to get an enjoyable meditation, it's not something to use (99% of the time).

So sit down, whatever happens, it's fine. Your mind was active? ok. Your mind was peaceful? also ok. No reason to be upset, angry, disappointed, also no reason to be extra exited. It's all just nature. You can't control your own mind as you have noticed, so why get agitated about it? The more you force, the more you control, the more the mind gets annoyed. So don't get involved, that's what no-self means.

With metta,
Reflection
:goodpost:

RatherSkeptic
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by RatherSkeptic » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:38 am

We'll let me try it again by posting a simple question:

Why would the mind EVER bother to focus on the meditation object (all by itself, without my doing), if daydreaming and reverie are obviously so much more colourful and exciting?

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reflection
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by reflection » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:02 pm

That'll happen if we fuel a specific interest in those things and if we think they are more exiting. The mind goes towards those things because we want it to. If we take away this interest, and instead we let go, the mind will eventually become bored with those things and find a more easeful place to rest on - which usually will be the breath. Nowadays I often have to get my mind off the breath because it goes there too quickly; when my posture is not right for example.

If you are interested to know more about all of this, I would recommend Ajahn Brahm's teachings (and of course try it for yourself). He emphasizes this a lot.

Through a bit of googling, I found this:
As a young monk, I always tried very hard to watch the breath. When I first came to
Perth, I wasn’t as skilled as I am now with breath meditation: I would watch the
breath for forty-five minutes with great difficulty; it was just too hard to keep the
attention on the breath. But then I developed the ‘letting go’ meditation, saying to
myself ‘just let go’. As soon as I did ‘letting go meditation’ the breath appeared very
easily and I could watch it for the next half-hour or so if I wanted to. It really struck
me that by trying to focus on the breath I had difficulty, but if I just let go and didn’t
care what came up in my mind, the breath was right there. The breath was easy to
hold in the mind’s eye and I was still. It showed me that it’s often hard to watch the
breath if you try too much. When you are trying, that’s craving – craving to be or to
do something – and that leads to suffering. You can’t get success in meditation that
way. If only I’d realised and kept the four noble truths in mind when I was
meditating, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time. I would have just been peaceful.
When we’re letting go, contented, and silent, the breath arises within the silence, as if
the breath is just there. We don’t have to force the mind onto it, we don’t have to
control it, we don’t have to worry about where we are going to watch the breath – at
the nose, at the stomach – we don’t have to worry about what we should do with the
breath. The breath just comes by itself when it’s ready and we’re just sitting there
watching it. The whole process of meditation is to try and do less and less. Try and
do more of cāga pa inissagga mutti, just allowing the mind to open up.
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books4/Ajahn ... Moment.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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