Need Some Advice

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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Collective
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Need Some Advice

Post by Collective » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:39 am

We are told to focus on the breath, but I find this harder than focusing on awareness. When I focus on breath, I use my mind, to focus. But I find it easier and more relaxing to 'just be aware'. That's when I get a good meditational experience.

It isn't that I actively force thoughts out to experience this 'nothing/awareness', rather, I recognize I've been thinking, and then simply adjust to experiencing awareness. That's probably a much better way of putting it actually: I don't literally focus on nothing, I merely shift to experience the awareness. Reagrdless of if I'm amidst a noisy scenario or dead silent, I'm just aware. And I don't mean 'actively aware', like 'Bird song...tap/faucet runnin...dog barking...child laughing...car enging...'. I'm just sort of all aware yet nothing is focused.

So for me, breath focus seems a little more involved mentally than merely being aware of being aware. But the trouble is Budda said focus on the breath. Is this the only way? I do focus on the breath to start my meditation, but then once I feel I'm at that certain level, I let it go and just become aware.

Hope I made sense.

Am I doing this wrong?

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Ben
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Ben » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:50 am

Hi Collective
Collective wrote:But the trouble is Budda said focus on the breath. Is this the only way?
There are actually over 40 meditation objects described within the canon. I'm not sure what you are doing with the breath when you say its a bit more mentally involved. It certainly can be a difficult meditation subject to get established in and I can attest to that. However I think there are real benefits in sticking with it. Depending on which methodology you are using, you may seek advice from experienced meditators or teachers who are well versed in that particular method.
Here's a publication you might find useful: http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Anapa ... asati.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
kind regards

Ben
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Collective
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Collective » Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:41 pm

Thanks for the link.

When I say I find breath focus more involved, I mean it simply in contrast to not having to breath focus. And I find it difficult because I cannot for the life of me feel anything in my stomach area, and almost nothing in my nose/tip of nose/nostrils.

I meditate now mainly to relax, I find everything falls into place as a result. If anything else transpires, great, if not, great. I'm happy with the blissful feelings.

And it's great for lowering high blood pressure too :)

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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Moggalana » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:13 pm

Hi Collective,

do you know Ajahn Brahm's instructions for anapanasati? His first two stages may be similiar to what your are doing. He teaches Sustained attention on the present moment and Silent awareness of the present moment as a preparation or preliminary practice for the actual mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati). Maybe this is helpful?
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Collective
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Collective » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:20 pm

Moggalana wrote:Hi Collective,

do you know Ajahn Brahm's instructions for anapanasati? His first two stages may be similiar to what your are doing. He teaches Sustained attention on the present moment and Silent awareness of the present moment as a preparation or preliminary practice for the actual mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati). Maybe this is helpful?
Interesting, I bookmarked the link.

Trouble is, I seem to be working backwards, nothing new there then!

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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Moggalana » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:40 pm

Well, if you are drawn to this awareness of awareness or shamatha without object stuff, you will probably have to look outside of Theravadin meditation. Alan Wallace's book, The Attention Revolution, might be a good starting point as he teaches the traditional theravada method of anapanasati as well as two other techniques belonging to tibetan buddhism. However, this is probably not the correct subforum for delving more deeply into this matter.
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:01 pm

Hi Moggalana
Moggalana wrote:Well, if you are drawn to this awareness of awareness or shamatha without object stuff, you will probably have to look outside of Theravadin meditation. Alan Wallace's book, The Attention Revolution, might be a good starting point as he teaches the traditional theravada method of anapanasati as well as two other techniques belonging to tibetan buddhism. However, this is probably not the correct subforum for delving more deeply into this matter.
I don't think it is necessarily out of the bounds of this subforum, as it is an interperatation of the same text, although the other two may require another thread for comparison purposes.
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salmon
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by salmon » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:13 am

Hi Collective,

Ananpanasati is only one of the meditation tools prescribed by the Buddha (as already mentioned by Ben). Perhaps you can read the teachings of some forest masters like Ajahn Dune Atulo. The do have teachings on how to focus on the mind (or awareness) instead of other objects like the breath or the stomach. Instead, they practice focusing the "mind on the mind".

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... _Atulo.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:smile:
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Collective
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Collective » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:30 pm

salmon wrote:Hi Collective,

Ananpanasati is only one of the meditation tools prescribed by the Buddha (as already mentioned by Ben). Perhaps you can read the teachings of some forest masters like Ajahn Dune Atulo. The do have teachings on how to focus on the mind (or awareness) instead of other objects like the breath or the stomach. Instead, they practice focusing the "mind on the mind".

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... _Atulo.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:smile:
Now that is what I am talking about!

Thanks all :)

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Collective
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Collective » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:15 pm

I've been thinking, maybe if I clarified exactly what I want out of meditation.

First and foremost, I simply want to relax my mind and body, and be free from stress and anxiety. I find this occurs when my mind is still. This for me comes about from 2 exercises. Observing in a detached way, the breath, and more so when observing in a detached way, the mind. Personally, I find when I watch the mind, observe it, I get no thoughts. And as a result, I feel relaxed. Whereas if I watch the breath, I get distracted by the mind. It's analogous to watching a naughty child so they behave themselves.

I am not my mind?

So all I want is that blissful relaxed feelling, and anything else, insight etc, is a bonus but not a primary goal. Relaxation however, is.

Please, any advice, is there a name for this type of meditation, wherein the mind not the breath is observed?

Thank you :)

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Goofaholix
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Goofaholix » Sat Jan 30, 2010 6:38 pm

Sayadaw U Tejaniya teaches this style of meditation, see http://sayadawutejaniya.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; if you want more teaching on it.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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acinteyyo
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by acinteyyo » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:12 am

Collective wrote:I've been thinking, maybe if I clarified exactly what I want out of meditation.
First and foremost, I simply want to relax my mind and body, and be free from stress and anxiety.
So all I want is that blissful relaxed feelling, and anything else, insight etc, is a bonus but not a primary goal. Relaxation however, is.
Please, keep in mind we don't meditate to get something, we meditate to get rid of something.
To meditate just to get more pleasant feelings will not lead to insight and in fact will bring just more dukkha.
You should reconsider your intentions.

best wishes, acinteyyo
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baratgab
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by baratgab » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:14 am

acinteyyo wrote:Please, keep in mind we don't meditate to get something, we meditate to get rid of something.
To meditate just to get more pleasant feelings will not lead to insight and in fact will bring just more dukkha.
You should reconsider your intentions.
This is indeed a very good point and advice! :) But I would like to take the liberty to reassure the original poster that the meaning is not that meditation is not supposed to lead to relaxation and happiness. It is just that relaxation and happiness happens exactly when one gives up that wanting and striving for it. Maybe it is needless to point out, but discontentment is all about wanting that we don't have; it is just obvious that we don't want to introduce such a quality into our practice. Maybe this is the reason if objects other than the perception of breath yield more success: the difference in the underlying attitude towards the different objects. Stiffness can make a frustration out of anything and everything.

Somebody already mentioned Ajahn Brahm's anapanasati instructions. There is also a sutta study from him of the Anapanasati sutta. And an inspiring dhamma talk that I would also recommend: Stop Trying to Meditate.

Apologies if I'm too verbose, or anything. :anjali:
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Dan74
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Dan74 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:57 am

Many of us in this day and age are really caught up in our heads and meditating on a physical sensation does wonders to restore a big chunk of reality (physical reality) to its rightful place.

If someone (like me) who spends a great deal of time in thoughts practices a kind of meditation that is unconcerned with the physical perception, it's a recipe for disaster IMO - you just go deeper and deeper into fantasy.

If the actual sensation of the breath is too subtle (which is an indication of a kind of a numbness to the physical) then perhaps the movement of the breath can be the object. I am not sure if this is in the Pali Canon so excuse me if it isn't, but it is something I've heard taught by a number of teachers.

So basically meditation that grounds us in the physical reality here and now is the way to go. For someone already pretty grounded there maybe other techniques, but for those of us who are still floating somewhere in headspace, it's a God-send (sorry Buddha-send).

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Collective
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Re: Need Some Advice

Post by Collective » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:26 pm

Thank you all for the advice and links.

Certain aspects seem a contradiction to me.

Is 'breath' meditation the same thing as 'awareness' meditation?
Can 'breath' meditation bring about insight (however that may be described) like 'awareness' meditation does?
My point is; if I focus on my breath, surely I'm not as aware as when I focus on awareness. A bit like, if I'm looking up I can't be looking down at the same time?

The movemtnt of breath sounds interesting and may have been something I've been trying to put into words for a long time now. I find it difficult trying to centre my awareness on the tip, or nostrils because the sensation is that subtle as to be almost non existent. So I tend to become aware of my breathing in general. The concept of breath in breath out rather than the more central focused physicality of the breathing mechanics.

In short then, what (if any) are the differences between breath meditation and awareness (which I think is anapanasati?) meditation. If indeed they are different.

Thanks again

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