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.
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;

socoguy78
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by socoguy78 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:41 pm

It sounds like you have a case of restlessness and aversion. Aversion is a form of atatchment because not wanting to meditate comes up and you try to control and push it away it for what ever reason... Trying to control is atatchment. The truth is you are wanting to meditate and for some reason you are trying to push it away by trying to control it. How are you with giving in your life? Do you think kind thoughts about people, ex. wish then happiness, do good deeds with out expecting anything in return? Do your physical actions show you are giving? Do you follow the first 5 precepts?
Much metta,
zach

Digity
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Digity » Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:43 pm

socoguy78 wrote:It sounds like you have a case of restlessness and aversion. Aversion is a form of atatchment because not wanting to meditate comes up and you try to control and push it away it for what ever reason... Trying to control is atatchment. The truth is you are wanting to meditate and for some reason you are trying to push it away by trying to control it. How are you with giving in your life? Do you think kind thoughts about people, ex. wish then happiness, do good deeds with out expecting anything in return? Do your physical actions show you are giving? Do you follow the first 5 precepts?
Much metta,
zach
Of late my meditation has gotten a lot better and I don't hate doing it like before. I think venting about not liking meditation helped, but my attitude has shifted since I first posted this. I did take up the five precepts a month ago and I'm following them...which has helped. Having a hangover isn't exactly conducive to mindfulness!

I'm learning to be more generous, etc. I understand the connection between the way we live our life and meditation, but it takes time to improve these things. I now see meditation as a life long journey that will evolve over time, but I just felt like I needed to get this off my chest...to admit to myself that I didn't like meditating and then to sit back and reflect on why that was. Aversion and restlessness are a big issue with me, but I'm doing my best to work through that.

Yana
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Yana » Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:05 pm

hi everyone,

I actually enjoy meditating even though i rarely meditate more than twenty minutes but i get lot of benefit from it.For me personally,I can see a drastic change when i meditate and when i don't.Which strengthens my will to practice even more.

When i meditate i don't try to force my breath or control my breath in anyway.I don't try to feel peace or force peace.I just breath.And be aware of the breath.That's all..sometimes it's heavy,sometimes it's short,sometimes it's not comfortable..i am just naturally being aware of it. even if i am agitated i am naturally aware of the agitation.And without fail the more aware i am of my current state the more relaxed i'll feel.This has always happened.And i have noted it.I think it's good to keep a journal because you can write down what you encounter through personal experience and you know what works for you.

If you don't like to meditate try very short ones like i did..i started meditating for 1 min you can do that for a whole week/or the next day you can add another minute..then the next another minute..i know it's slow..but better slow and steady than nothing..before you know it you will have trained yourself to meditate for a good half an hour or one hour.I read somewhere it takes 21 days to change a habit.So if you train yourself to do something for long periods of time,sitting down for meditation will be a piece of cake.It will be like second nature to you.

So don't give up.. :anjali:
Life is preparing for Death

Digity
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Digity » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:39 am

I'm doing 20 minutes now in the morning. I'm also experimenting with doing an additional 5 minutes after a break where I focus on a particular emotion that's bother me or something to that nature. I find when I meditate on something that's bothering me it helps me see it in a clear light and I often can work through issues that way.

JSearch
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by JSearch » Tue May 14, 2013 10:52 pm

Sorry for posting on such an old thread, but I found it quite relevant to what I wanted to discuss. I'll try and keep it short!

Before I go on I'm not a Buddhist I was brought up RC but I'm not very religious and I have always found any form of structured religion (or call it what you will) does not agree with me at all, that said I do have a lot of respect for Buddhism and the Christian faiths etc. both imo have similar messages on enlightenment etc. although I would say that Christianity has somewhat misunderstood the real meaning of the new testament.

Anyway back to the subject at hand, I was first introduced to meditation of sorts in my early teens, it began with auto-genics, focusing on breath, mantra as well as other methods, I can only say I found the whole experience extremely frustrating then it simply made my mind go wild and anxious. I dropped the whole subject.

Around a decade later, I was experiencing an incredible episode of mental depression and suffering, it became so bad that I simply could not take it anymore I simply desired peace and to rest, after around 30 minutes in bed I could not take any thoughts any longer and asked myself could I not just relax? I eventually entered a stage of incredible peace and silence, it is enough to say I experienced what you call "Samadhi" an experience that I can only say was like the grace of God, an awakening almost like a spell had been removed from me.

After this experience my next 2-3 months were the most incredible of my life, but I seemed to eventually slip back into my old self. This was 5 years ago now.

So then I began searching for the answers, what was this experience? Eventually I found Meditation again & began reading many books on the subject.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I have experienced what you call "Samadhi" once without any sort of formal meditation or awareness of it etc. However I now find that like when I was a teenager trying to meditate is very destructive, I leave mentally exhausted, a racing mind, anxious and with a racing heart, this is when I try mantra, focusing on breath or anything else proscribed in meditation books etc.

Worse still since I have read these books I am not even able to try to relax because as soon as I do, my mind comes in with "ah trying to meditate" and all the meditation jargon I've read in the books floods into my mind, it's almost like I've educated the enemy!

Anyway this is my experience, meditation doesn't really agree with me and I've tried for several years now!

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BlackBird
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by BlackBird » Wed May 15, 2013 1:03 am

Ben wrote:
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.
Exactly, plwk.
In my humble experience meditation is frequently less than a pleasant experience. But unless one finds the motivation within oneself to engage with and maintain the practice, then it isn't going to happen.
My advice to Digity may seem insensitive but sometimes the best way to overcome obstacles is to stop thinking about it and engage.
kind regards,

Ben
Not insensitive, although a clarification always settles any doubts. Just the right cup of tea for the job imo.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Kamran
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Kamran » Wed May 15, 2013 1:45 am

Why not try listening to some pep-talks while focusing on your breath ? The vast majority Thai forest talks are basically pep talks designed to motivate you to meditate.

Thanissaro Bikhu's 15 min talks can be very inspiring.

He covers the problem you are having, and most others you'll encounter at www.dhammatalks.org
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

binocular
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by binocular » Wed May 15, 2013 7:29 am

Dan74 wrote:Some people are way too restless most of the time to settle on a cushion, I think.
Yes. Which is why it is sometimes advised that a person first develop a physical skill, like sewing or some other craft or to play a musical instrument. To master a physical skill like that requires a considerable amount of mental and practical skills that are needed in meditation too, but it is closer to our usual experience than meditating on the breath or other forms of meditation. Which is how mastering a physical skill can be a good preparation for meditation.

Digity wrote:I'm very restless to begin with. I absolutely hate my general agitated feeling I have, but I'm someone whose had his share of anxiety problems in his life. I sometimes don't feel cut out for meditation...and there I go with excuses again!
Maybe they're not excuses.

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Crazy cloud
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Crazy cloud » Wed May 15, 2013 8:15 am

In my own prep for meditation - the instinctive feeling of doing somthing bad by sitting and doing nothing, was a considerable obstacle. My childhood programming (thanks parents and their parents ... :clap: ) "told" me that I had no right to just sit there ... So I just had to let go of that bad software

I love my lazy bones ... :mrgreen:
If you didn't care
What happened to me
And I didn't care for you

We would zig-zag our way
Through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain

Wondering which of the
Buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing
- Roger Waters

Digity
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Re: Don't like to meditate

Post by Digity » Wed May 15, 2013 10:33 am

binocular wrote:
Digity wrote:I'm very restless to begin with. I absolutely hate my general agitated feeling I have, but I'm someone whose had his share of anxiety problems in his life. I sometimes don't feel cut out for meditation...and there I go with excuses again!
Maybe they're not excuses.
Since I posted this way back in September I've become a regular meditator. I got over my desire to avoid meditation by just doing it. If anything, now I don't feel happy if I miss a sitting.

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