Monks Average Meditation Routine

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
DCM
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Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by DCM » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:02 pm

Hi, what would a monks in, say a forest, average daily meditation routine be, i.e.;
1. How long would an average session last.
2. How many sessions would he do a day.
3. What would be the topic of each meditation session, samahdi, loving-kindness, investigation of phenomena, etc.
4. What would be his aim for each session.

Thankyou.

form
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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by form » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:36 pm

DCM wrote:Hi, what would a monks in, say a forest, average daily meditation routine be, i.e.;
1. How long would an average session last.
2. How many sessions would he do a day.
3. What would be the topic of each meditation session, samahdi, loving-kindness, investigation of phenomena, etc.
4. What would be his aim for each session.

Thankyou.
You can try do some dry run at home.

I would think many sessions a day. Most likely and frequent subject will be breathing with a few others as supporting.
Goal is to gain jhanas and come out of it to attain insights.

DCM
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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by DCM » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:40 pm

Hi Form, thanks for the reply, can you explain how they attain insights after coming out of Jhana please?

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by Zom » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:11 pm

Hi, what would a monks in, say a forest, average daily meditation routine be, i.e.;
Depends on a monk. For most - there is no meditation routine at all.

form
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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by form » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:48 pm

Zom wrote:
Hi, what would a monks in, say a forest, average daily meditation routine be, i.e.;
Depends on a monk. For most - there is no meditation routine at all.
That is a sad state for Theravada.

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by Garrib » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:57 pm

Is that really true though? I assume most monastics at least practice meditation a little bit every day. I mean, even most lay people (at least in the West) seem to practice quite a bit.

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by SarathW » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:29 pm

I am not sure what the routine of average forest monk or city monk.
My assumption is for any Buddhist monk he meditates all day.
He meditates even walking, sleeping urinating of defecating.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by WindDancer » Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:26 am

DCM, thanks for the question. As a lay practitioner who has considered becoming a monastic, I have had similar questions. I have little personal knowledge; however, I have listened to many Dharma teachers, some of them monks and others lay teachers in the West. In Theravada Buddhist areas of the world, some monks do not meditate at all or meditate very little. These monks tend to other duties, such as performing services and care for the lay community, teaching or caring for children, participating in ceremonies or holidays or tending to the upkeep and functioning of the buildings, grounds and daily needs in the monastery. I have heard that some monks meditate regularly on a daily basis, and they have more intense practice during specific times of the year, such as during the rains retreat.

I have heard that some lay practitioners in the West maintain a more dedicated meditation practice than some of the Theravada monastics in other areas of the world; however, there seems to be a debate whether the practitioners in the West might miss out on the benefits of renunciation and other practices of living a monastic life.

I eagerly welcome any confirmation or rebuttal of what I have learned from others. I am interested in learning from experienced teachers so I can model my daily practice in ways which will bear good results.

Thanks,

WindDancer
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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:47 pm

DCM wrote:1. How long would an average session last.

2. How many sessions would he do a day.
If the monk were a very earnest one, then bhāvanā would consist in just one session per day, lasting from the time he woke up until the time he fell asleep.
  • ‘Come, bhikkhu, be devoted to wakefulness. During the day, while walking back and forth and sitting, purify your mind of obstructive states. In the first watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, purify your mind of obstructive states. In the middle watch of the night you should lie down on the right side in the lion’s pose with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and fully aware, after noting in your mind the time for rising. After rising, in the third watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, purify your mind of obstructive states.’
DCM wrote:3. What would be the topic of each meditation session, samahdi, loving-kindness, investigation of phenomena, etc.
It would vary according to what obstructive states he was purifying himself of.
DCM wrote:4. What would be his aim for each session.
See above.

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by pyluyten » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:36 pm

i know in some theravada temple in england, they wake up at 6. something like half on hour later, a first *sitting* session, & i think it was for 1.30h . Obviously practice is supposed not to last after sitting but this is different. then the temple is cleaned a bit (yep almost every day). there was another quick sitting on the morning, then the meal.

after the meal there is room to read, walk. more cleaning. then in the afternoon more sitting.
i do not know the full schedule, but it gives you an idea : maybe 4 or 5 hour sittings, but depending on the monk it could be rather more or rather less. very few talking, still a bit. Lot of "work" : cleaning and various stuff. A bit of reading but not that much.

they also have retreats

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by Zom » Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:25 pm

In Theravada Buddhist areas of the world, some monks do not meditate at all or meditate very little. These monks tend to other duties, such as performing services and care for the lay community, teaching or caring for children, participating in ceremonies or holidays or tending to the upkeep and functioning of the buildings, grounds and daily needs in the monastery.

I have heard that some lay practitioners in the West maintain a more dedicated meditation practice than some of the Theravada monastics in other areas of the world
You should question why they don't meditate at all or meditate very little. And the right answer here is not that they are "lazy" or "bad" or something. Most of people are just not spiritually ready to meditate, even if they are monks (monkhood itself doesn't make one a spiritually advanced person). That's why they try, but then give up.

DCM
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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by DCM » Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:17 pm

I should have been more specific, I was asking about formal meditation, walking or sitting. Thanks for all the insightful answers. How realistic is it for a lay person with a family, 9-5 job, kids and other commitment to really attain any level of Samahdi? Maybe I'm not ready to meditate.

I'm starting to come to the conclusion that I should concentrate on sila, read the Suttas and try and get Right View, as this may be something realistic for a lay person like myself with a family. Maybe going on retreat will help me bring some peace, but I realise how difficult it is to attain any level of Samahdi with all the distractions i face, and that Liberation is likely out reach in this life.

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by Caodemarte » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:20 pm

DCM wrote:I should have been more specific, I was asking about formal meditation, walking or sitting. Thanks for all the insightful answers. How realistic is it for a lay person with a family, 9-5 job, kids and other commitment to really attain any level of Samahdi? Maybe I'm not ready to meditate.

I'm starting to come to the conclusion that I should concentrate on sila, read the Suttas and try and get Right View, as this may be something realistic for a lay person like myself with a family. Maybe going on retreat will help me bring some peace, but I realise how difficult it is to attain any level of Samahdi with all the distractions i face, and that Liberation is likely out reach in this life.
Recently a Buddhist nun was asked at a meditation meeting for lay people I attended if her life was simpler than a lay person with. Fewer distractions. She laughed and quickly said, "No." You can always find distractions. It is enough if we all try to do the best we can when we can. Take a look at the life story of Dipa Ma or pretty much any famous lay person.

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by WindDancer » Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:32 am

DCM wrote:I should have been more specific, I was asking about formal meditation, walking or sitting. Thanks for all the insightful answers. How realistic is it for a lay person with a family, 9-5 job, kids and other commitment to really attain any level of Samahdi? Maybe I'm not ready to meditate.

I'm starting to come to the conclusion that I should concentrate on sila, read the Suttas and try and get Right View, as this may be something realistic for a lay person like myself with a family. Maybe going on retreat will help me bring some peace, but I realise how difficult it is to attain any level of Samahdi with all the distractions i face, and that Liberation is likely out reach in this life.
DCM, I feel empathy for what you have shared and the questions you have asked. I think these are real life questions that many of us face. How do I live this Path as a lay practitioner? How do I balance practice, with the realities of work and family responsibilities? What are reasonable goals or standards to hold for a healthy spiritual practice? Do I have to become a monk or nun to make reasonable progress, and is this way of life worth it if we are unable to live a monastic life?

I have asked these and other similar questions. I have listened to many Dharma talks and read several books, doing my best to discern what I should do. Here are a few things that seem to make sense to me:

1. I need to see things the way they really are. The truth is that despite my heartfelt desire to possibly ordain and live a monastic life, I do not have the health to do so. I need to practice being content with living the life of a householder who has a chronic illness. Causes and conditions far beyond my understanding and control have created the circumstances in which I live. Now it is up to me to do my best to walk the Path where I find myself.

2. I have heard multiple Dharma teachers suggest that it is just fine to enter the Path of practice from different starting points. A teacher said that some lay practitioners may focus on sila and generosity for several years, developing these as a strong foundation prior to more advanced practice. Others may spend twenty years or more practicing sila and generosity while deeply cultivating the Brahma Viharas: Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity. As people practice this way of being, they naturally drop some of the barriers that might have stood in the way of deeper meditation practice which they explore later in life. Some people in the West focus only on meditation and do not cultivate the other parts of the spiritual life until life's pain and stresses inspire them to do so.

3. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested that we need to be loving and gentle to ourselves. Instead of holding up a standard that creates deep suffering or a standard that is unattainable, we should start by meditating for just a short time. For example, start with 5 minutes, or practice meditating when waiting in the car for the red light to turn green. He suggested that we start with meditating for a length of time which we can commit to maintaining on a daily basis. If it is 5 minutes, fine. That is where we start. If we can meditate consistently most days for 15 minutes, great. Then over time the peace, well being and joy experienced while meditating will naturally move us in the direction of longer more fruitful ways of meditating. Then quite naturally this way of being will spill out into our way of being as we move through daily life.

Here is a little about how I live the Path in my daily life:

I actively practice, sila, generosity, the Bramha Viharas and actively seek how I can help add joy and reduce suffering in the humans and animals in my part of the world. I have a daily formal sitting meditation practice. Currently, 30 to 45 minutes of mindfulness meditation seems to be the sweet spot for me. When I sit for longer periods of time, the pain and stress on my body tends to produce diminishing returns. I have a well developed practice of meditation and being fully present in all my activities. I eagerly listen to Dharma talks. Over the past four years, I have listened to well over 500 hours. Sometimes I fully engage and other times I just let the talks flow over me as I am resting or doing light house work. I read Dharma books and do Sutta study in a practical way. It is far better for me to read a few chapters and then do my best to practice what has been suggested in my daily life, instead of just quickly racing through book after book.

I hope the experience I share helps. Though I live a dedicated life to the Path, I know that I am only a beginner and have much to learn.

:namaste:

WindDancer
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DCM
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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by DCM » Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:09 pm

Thanks Caodemarte, I've got Dipa's book and have read almost half already. It is a needed break from my Sutta study as im half way through the Digha Nikaya, and feel I needed to break it up with some light, inspiring reading, which this book has provided me, and given me some fresh hope that effort and faith will bring attainments in the future.

WindDancer, what I am missing is bringing mindfulness into my daily life and routine. I do try but I need to be more vigorous in my efforts. I do see parts of my mind that cause me stress and suffering, subtle things like expecting too much in formal meditation, pushing myself too much with study, etc, it just seems paradoxical that because this life is so short and I could die any moment, that it is stressful when I get tired from studying or meditating too much to the point where I just stop for a while, guess I need to be kinder to myself and find a middle ground. I'm confident i will with experience.

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by sgns » Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:47 pm

I think it depends very much on the monk or nun, their tradition and community.

You could look at the daily schedule of various monasteries to get a sense. What is the aim of each monastic's meditation? It depends on the individual, and their traditions. Best way to learn -- visit some monasteries, see what life is like there, and ask the monastics your questions.

I could point you in the direction of monasteries in the US, but I know less about Wales. One well known monastery in England is Amratvi, in the Thai Forest tradition. Whereas not all monasteries emphasis formal sitting and walking practice in the same way, it is certainly a big emphasis there.

Part of the model of intensive retreat (which typically range in length from 1 week to 3 months) is that lay practitioners can sit, deepen their practice, and then integrate more fully into householder life. In the US, many of the lay dharma teachers here have spent considerable time (months and years) as monastics, but continue largely as householders, for whatever variety of reasons.

Notable lay teachers include Goenka, U Ba Khin, Dipa Ma, Munindra. From that, we could suspect that the emphasis of both lineages/methods (U Ba Khin and Mahasi) includes practices applicable to lay life. In the US we have many lay teachers trained in these methods; England would have some as well, centered around Gaia House.

But really, if you're considering how to awaken in the world, my 2 cents. As lay people, we are able to engage in the world. Be of service to the world. There is an ethnic cleansing in Burma right now -- figure out ways to support refugees. There are hungry, sick, dying, suffering people in your town. Tend to them. Offer support. Get creative in yours ways to engage. Just don't assume that you are the Wise One who will merely dispense great relief to those poor soul -- learn from these experiences. Respect, listen to and learn from the people you meet. Whatever challenges you meet along the way, take them as a means to learn even more.

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by DNS » Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:22 pm

sgns wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:47 pm
I think it depends very much on the monk or nun, their tradition and community.
Yes, I think a lot of it has to do with the tradition and the abbot. For example, I know a guy who was a monk at a local temple here and he said the schedule was pretty much:
Wake up, community chanting
Lunch, some chanting before the lunch dana
Evening, community chanting
And all the time in between each monk was on their own, some sleep, most just surf the internet in their rooms. The guy I knew got bored and disrobed.

And then there is another monastery here in town where the abbot is very good and serious. The monks meditate in formal sitting meditation sessions 5 times a day; each one hour long. That is almost like a retreat schedule, but it is all year long.

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by Mkoll » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:28 am

DNS wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:22 pm
And then there is another monastery here in town where the abbot is very good and serious. The monks meditate in formal sitting meditation sessions 5 times a day; each one hour long. That is almost like a retreat schedule, but it is all year long.
Impressive. Which monastery is that? Any sub-tradition?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by santa100 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:39 am

DNS wrote:And then there is another monastery here in town where the abbot is very good and serious. The monks meditate in formal sitting meditation sessions 5 times a day; each one hour long. That is almost like a retreat schedule, but it is all year long.
That's the way it should be. Even for all of us lay folks, in order to be considered a full-time professional in any field, one'd need to spend at least 8 hours a day every day!

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Re: Monks Average Meditation Routine

Post by DNS » Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:04 am

Mkoll wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:28 am
DNS wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:22 pm
And then there is another monastery here in town where the abbot is very good and serious. The monks meditate in formal sitting meditation sessions 5 times a day; each one hour long. That is almost like a retreat schedule, but it is all year long.
Impressive. Which monastery is that? Any sub-tradition?
http://www.chaiyacmm.org/about%20CMM.html

Chaiya Meditation Monastery, abbot is Ajahn Chaiya, born in Burma, speaks several languages fluently, including English.

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