Tips on maintaining a consistent method

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Post Reply
Laurens
Posts: 494
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:56 pm
Location: Norfolk, England

Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by Laurens » Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:29 am

I've been meditating on and off for the best part of 10 years.

My issue seems to be that I frequently tend to flit from method to method (e.g. body scan to breath to vipassana etc) rather than developing one method consistently.

I'm not exactly sure why this is. I think it may be due to running out of confidence with a particular technique due to apparent lack of progress.

Does anyone have any tips on picking a technique and sticking with it? How can you develop a confidence in a technique without feeling the need to change things up?
"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

User avatar
budo
Posts: 634
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am
Location: The world

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by budo » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:36 pm

It is a mild form of learned helplessness, when dogs search for bodies in rubble they will get depressed if they do not find any bodies, so their handlers need to plant some fake things to search for like toys. It also another reason why laser pointers produce anxiety and depression in dogs because they can never catch the laser dot. Humans are no different, your brain needs dopamine to know it's doing something right, it's how our survival and reproduction mechanisms work by rewarding us for our efforts.

This is why I'm not a proponent of systems/techniques that do not make you feel good, and why I think samatha/jhanas are important as the mind needs to be rewarded. You are less likely to dabble and change techniques if you are getting the dopamine hit. Samatha and jhana provides you with those hits of gratification just like a train track keeps the train on track.

Jhanas are also great because they keep you challenged, the opposite of learned helplessness is when you attain something too easily and you get bored of it, the "flow" state is when you've met a level of challenge that's not too easy nor too hard.
In positive psychology, flow, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time.

Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow:[2]

- Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
- Merging of action and awareness
- A loss of reflective self-consciousness
- A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
- A distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered
- Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience

Those aspects can appear independently of each other, but only in combination do they constitute a so-called flow experience. Additionally, psychology writer Kendra Cherry has mentioned three other components that Csíkszentmihályi lists as being a part of the flow experience:[3]

- "Immediate feedback"[3]
- Feeling that you have the potential to succeed
- Feeling so engrossed in the experience, that other needs become negligible

Just as with the conditions listed above, these conditions can be independent of one another.
So my tips:

- Keep it simple at first, you should get that dopamine hit early on, when you calm yourself and relax, that in and of itself should reward you.
- Keep it consistent, I meditate every morning at least 45min - 1 hour but if I enter first jhana it can last way longer. If jhana kicks in then perfect, my brain has been refreshed and I can then move onto other techniques like insight/contemplation.

When I first sit down my goal is to get into a good position and then maintain awareness on the breath while preventing my biggest hindrance, sloth, from arising. Everyone has their own hindrances they have to overcome and that is the main obstacle for every beginner meditator.

SarathW
Posts: 10513
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by SarathW » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:35 pm

For me, the only way to maintain consistency is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

paul
Posts: 1359
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by paul » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:35 am

Laurens wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:29 am
I've been meditating on and off for the best part of 10 years. My issue seems to be that I frequently tend to flit from method to method (e.g. body scan to breath to vipassana etc) rather than developing one method consistently. I'm not exactly sure why this is. I think it may be due to running out of confidence with a particular technique due to apparent lack of progress.Does anyone have any tips on picking a technique and sticking with it? How can you develop a confidence in a technique without feeling the need to change things up?
Once a practitioner has direct experience then they will apply themselves steadily to furthering the area where they have found it, and it can be in serenity or insight, depending on temperament. It’s true that the suttas say that sensuality must be replaced by a pleasure apart from that, but ultimately that means insight, which is also a source of pleasure, as jhana can only suppress the hindrances:

“Even though a disciple of the noble ones has clearly seen as it has come to be with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, still—if he has not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful qualities, or something more peaceful than that—he can be tempted by sensuality. But when he has clearly seen as it has come to be with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and he has attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful qualities, or something more peaceful than that, he cannot be tempted by sensuality.” —-MN 14, Thanissaro

I advise the study of impermanence in daily life, which must provide an immovable grounding, then study how impermanence relates to the four noble truths ie. is the cause of suffering due to attachment to something which is moving, like trying to grasp a spinning wheel.

User avatar
Manopubbangama
Posts: 183
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:17 pm

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:01 am

This is just my opinion, and apologies if I read your intent wrong, but I think it is good to not have a consistent method.

As in, Effacement... https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nypo.html

What needs to be eradicated at any given time?

This sutta helps me a lot.

When I see a beautiful woman, asubha.

When I'm agitated with a person, metta.

etc.
Sabbe Sankhara Anicca - Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha - Sabbe Dhamma Anatta

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 3260
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by DooDoot » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:43 am

Laurens wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:29 am
My issue seems to be that I frequently tend to flit from method to method (e.g. body scan to breath to vipassana etc) rather than developing one method consistently. I'm not exactly sure why this is. I think it may be due to running out of confidence with a particular technique due to apparent lack of progress. Does anyone have any tips on picking a technique and sticking with it? How can you develop a confidence in a technique without feeling the need to change things up?
While Dhamma practise goes against the grain of natural conditioning and thus is not inherently easy to practise; in my experience, the above ('yogic') techniques offer an introduction to practise but in the medium to long term they don't lead to substantial progress. In the suttas, the Buddha appears to teach to watch the mind and, whenever a form of craving arises, to abandon that craving by reflecting: "It does not lead to peace/Nibbana" (per MN 19). While not inherently easy, I think we should aim for profoundly yet simply just sitting at ease with a quiet mind; without the busyness & ambition of 'manipulative techniques'. A Zen saying: "The quiet/silent mind can listen to grass".

Dinsdale
Posts: 6131
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:42 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:01 am
This is just my opinion, and apologies if I read your intent wrong, but I think it is good to not have a consistent method.
I have found this to be true, since consistency can lead to a habitual approach, not fresh or open. I usually work within the framework of satipatthana, but vary the method to keep if fresh and explore new ground.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

2600htz
Posts: 367
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by 2600htz » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm

Hello:

-Stop reading buddhism.
-Stop listening to several different teachers.
-From time to time dedicate long periods to meditation, if you meditate 15 minutes every day for 10 years, you probably never will go deep enough.
-And ofcourse, stick only to one method.

Regards.

User avatar
budo
Posts: 634
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am
Location: The world

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by budo » Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:54 pm

2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
Hello:

-Stop reading buddhism.
-Stop listening to several different teachers.
-From time to time dedicate long periods to meditation, if you meditate 15 minutes every day for 10 years, you probably never will go deep enough.
-And ofcourse, stick only to one method.

Regards.
:goodpost:

First point needs clarification though. Analysis paralysis is definitely a thing, but reading suttas is extremely motivating for me. I read suttas AFTER I've meditated, as the solution to avoiding analysis paralysis.

Dinsdale
Posts: 6131
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:21 am

2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
-Stop reading buddhism.
So reading suttas isn't helpful?
2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
-Stop listening to several different teachers.
Why? Isn't it useful to get different perspectives, and understand the bigger picture?
2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
-From time to time dedicate long periods to meditation, if you meditate 15 minutes every day for 10 years, you probably never will go deep enough.
Agreed!
2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
-And ofcourse, stick only to one method.
Why? Isn't it useful to explore different approaches to practice? It isn't one size fits all, and sticking to only one method can get very stale.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Pondera
Posts: 820
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:02 pm

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by Pondera » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:02 am

My approach is in the PDF linked in my signature. I meditate on earth, water, fire and air totalities.

My method involves trigger points where tension builds up (releasing tension there). My technique involves concentrating on my mind - leading to a robust release of soma from four different areas of the heart.

The results are comparable to jhana description - ie. tranquility and pleasure in the first two - one pointed mind in the second. Equanimity in the third and fourth. Neither pleasure nor pain in the fourth.

The totalities are all around you. One simply aligns the body to receive the totality by releasing the internal element from its associated heart location.
Four simple meditations on earth, water, fire, and wind - leading to tranquility and pleasure, equanimity and peacehttps://drive.google.com/file/d/1G3qI6G ... sp=sharing

Dinsdale
Posts: 6131
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:17 am

Pondera wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:02 am
I meditate on earth, water, fire and air totalities.
I'd be interested to hear how you approach this, practically speaking. I've done some work with the elements over the years.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

2600htz
Posts: 367
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Tips on maintaining a consistent method

Post by 2600htz » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:15 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:21 am
2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
-Stop reading buddhism.
So reading suttas isn't helpful?
2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
-Stop listening to several different teachers.
Why? Isn't it useful to get different perspectives, and understand the bigger picture?
2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
-From time to time dedicate long periods to meditation, if you meditate 15 minutes every day for 10 years, you probably never will go deep enough.
Agreed!
2600htz wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:35 pm
-And ofcourse, stick only to one method.
Why? Isn't it useful to explore different approaches to practice? It isn't one size fits all, and sticking to only one method can get very stale.
Hello:

Emm what i wrote was a personal advice for a particular case, not a general statement.

Personally i think reading suttas its better for advanced meditators, or people who want to start from scratch, but with the help of a teacher who uses the suttas as a guide, not just reading on your own. The creator of the topic has been meditating for more than 10 years, using different methods (vipassana,body scanning, mindfulness of breathing,etc).. So chances are his mind is full of ideas about what the practice is supposed to be, and he has followed many instructions that probably come from commentaries, so reading suttas on his own it will just cause doubt.

Someone could say: "its better to cause doubt as long as he reads the suttas, because suttas are the real deal". But that would be starting from scratch, becoming a "sutta wanderer" takes a lot of time, probably many years making questions about what this or that term actually means, and blablabla. Until you are in a position to sit without thinking you are doing it wrong. My guess is that for him its better to just pick a teacher, do whatever he tells him to do, and be consistent. Even if the teacher just tells him to stare at rocks for 2 hours a day, he still will make progress. Because in his case making progress is being consistent without giving up to doubt.

Regards.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 30 guests