My recommendation is to put aside any thoughts of making progress, of becoming proficient or this or that experience or attainment. Just maintain your focus exclusively on the object of awareness for as long as possible at a time. And whatever happens, try your best to maintain that unbroken focus.
jerry wrote:IS Samatha practice strictly used to achieve single pointed focus, or are there other levels a person might keep their attention only on the breath in hopes of meeting?
The same holds true if you focus on keeping the breath in mind. Whether the breath is heavy or refined, simply be aware of it as it normally is. Don't set up any expectations. Don't force the breath to be like this or that. Keep your awareness with the breath, because in meditating by taking the breath as your preoccupation, you're not after the breath. The breath is simply something for the mind to hold to so that you can reach the real thing, just as when you follow the tracks of an ox: You're not after the tracks of the ox. You follow its tracks because you want to reach the ox. Here you're keeping track of the breath so as to reach the real thing: awareness.
jerry wrote:Hopefully some well practiced, long term practitioners might offer some advice.
My daily practice consists of two sits of at least 30minutes each, and that's the way it's been for some time now. I try not to differentiate between a "good" sit and a "bad" sit. I just sit. I follow the breath. One stumbling block I'm finding is that, it doesn't seem to matter that I've been doing this for a while now, some days I sit and my mind just gets lost in the milky ether. It's like my previous practice amounts to nothing and mastering any single pointedness is a fool's errand. Of course, I don't mean that, but I'm sure you understand the feeling. For consecutive days, it seems I just sit and spin my tires. And yet, I've felt a natural urge to kick it up a notch. Go deeper. The one time I did, I used a brief guided meditation by Thanissaro Bhikku where he moved the focus throughout the body. That wasn't at all a bad experience, but my mind comes back to the breath in thinking about how I want to move forward. Truly, I wish I had a teacher or a close friend who's been through all this. Alas, the burden falls on you, dear dhamma wheel. I'm going to ask a couple questions, but you may not feel compelled to respond with simple answers, and that's just dandy.
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