LonesomeYogurt wrote:Samatha meditation is concentration meditation, where the mind is focused on a single object, usually the breath, until a unity of focus has been established. This is sometimes called Jhana.
Vipassana meditation is insight meditation, where the mind is directed to experienced phenomena such as thoughts or sensations in order to see them clearly as impermanent, dissatisfying, and non-self.
In some traditions, such as the Goenka or Mahasi traditions, "dry" vipassana, where there is very little pure concentration meditation, is supported. However, in practice, a great amount of concentration is developed through insight.
In others, like Buddhadasa or Ajahn Chah, essentially do not separate them at all and say that the cultivation of concentration and Jhana leads to insight.
It all depends on what tradition you're interested in. I would personally recommend taking a while to focus on developing concentration through annapanna, or breath awareness. Try and find the point where you most distinctly feel the in and out breath, and then establish your mind on that point like a gatekeeper; don't follow the breath in or out, just note when it hits that one spot and when it doesn't. When your mind wanders, bring it back. Try and "know the breath," understanding directly the length, duration, intensity, etc. that each in and out breath has. Don't think about it analytically, saying, "That was a short breath, I bet the next one will be longer!" Just know it directly. That might sound weird, but you'll soon grow to see the difference between knowing at the experiential level and just thinking. Try and examine each breath to see it as impermanent and out of your control. Try and keep focused and calm your mind, but when other thoughts invade, just note how impermanent and uncontrollable they are as well. Do that for a while, establishing concentration and mindfulness until you begin to become more and more fixed on the breath at that one single point of entry.
In the suttas, the Buddha never says, "Do samatha" or "Do vipassana." He just says "Go meditate." In truth, you can't have samatha (concentration) without vipassana (insight), or vice versa. Like a bird with an injured wing, having only one side developed will hamper you. Instead, they should develop together. So don't worry too much about whether or not you're doing samatha or vipassana; the important thing is to sit and be mindful!
But I'm no meditation master! Other people will have other ideas. This is just what I would say off the cuff. Good luck and welcome to the Sangha!
eternityinmind wrote::namaste: Well,when i meditate I usually count the breath from 1 to 10,paying attention to the motion of the lower abdomen (the hara) and the posture of my body,trying to keep my spine straight.It's basically zazen I think.Is that classified as samatha meditation? Thanks for all the answers!
LonesomeYogurt wrote:eternityinmind wrote::namaste: Well,when i meditate I usually count the breath from 1 to 10,paying attention to the motion of the lower abdomen (the hara) and the posture of my body,trying to keep my spine straight.It's basically zazen I think.Is that classified as samatha meditation? Thanks for all the answers!
Zazen is samatha, yes. It's far more of a Mahayana technique, but that tranquility in great for turning towards insight in Theravada. My recommendation would be to start moving that attention from the hara to other sensations in the body, or perhaps to your thoughts. Just as you mindfully examine the hara, try mindfully examining all other experiences for a bit. But don't stop trying to get samatha going; it's important!
eternityinmind wrote: Yeah,during meditation I will try to count the breath from 1 to 10 in the beginning until the mind settles and then I will move my attention to examining the breath without counting it,just observing.I think that will be a good combination of both samatha and vipassana.I usually meditate for about 20 minutes (I am a beginner),doing some walking meditation before or after the sitting meditation.Are 20 minutes enough for the mind to settle down and then be examined or I should increase the time of my sitting?
LonesomeYogurt wrote:eternityinmind wrote: Yeah,during meditation I will try to count the breath from 1 to 10 in the beginning until the mind settles and then I will move my attention to examining the breath without counting it,just observing.I think that will be a good combination of both samatha and vipassana.I usually meditate for about 20 minutes (I am a beginner),doing some walking meditation before or after the sitting meditation.Are 20 minutes enough for the mind to settle down and then be examined or I should increase the time of my sitting?
Well, in the beginning it's a great time period. But always push yourself - I remember a teacher told me once to never go a week without raising your time limit on meditation. Try even 21 minutes next time, a longer walk, etc.
Walking meditation is important though! Good to see you doing it.
Where are you locating the breath? If you're interested in increasing your samatha practice and working to obtain Jhana, you might want to bring your focus to the tip of the nose rather than the abdomen. However, if you're more interested in pure insight, try the abdomen. I'm definitely in the "obtain Jhana first" camp, so I'm biased. But Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Gunaratana both have great books on the subject if you're interested.
RatherSkeptic wrote:The only difference seems to be that in Samatha, you never really leave your primary object of meditation, while in Vipassana, you always select the distractions as the new meditation objects until they disappear. So actually, according to Gunaratana, the difference is just about how much concentration you're putting into the distractions.
Or isn't it?
LonesomeYogurt wrote:Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm is all about Jhana practice, as is Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English by Gunaratana. Both are great resources for deeper meditation states.
eternityinmind wrote::namaste: I am a little bit confused about the difference between samatha and vipassana meditation. How the two relate to each other? Can and should I combine them? How exactly? Any tips appreciated.
Well, in modern English language Buddhist usage, the term in Pali "vipassana" largely refers to a couple of streams of modern Theravadin meditation that largely derive from some doctrinal explanations from Burma / Myanmar in the last century or so.
However, the term "vipassana" (in Pali), and "vipasyana" (in Skt), are not confined to Theravada, and have always had a strong usage in almost all forms of Buddhism. It's paired with "samatha", and the two are "yoked together" to form the basis of Buddhist meditation as a general whole. Usually samatha comes first.
Samatha, from the root "sam" (to pacify), means calming, pacification, stilling, etc. and is roughly equivalent to samadhi "concentration".
Vipasyana, from the root "pas" (to see), insight, special seeing, observation, etc. and is roughly equivalent to prajna "knowledge".
Now, because almost every Buddhist school indicates that some sort of wisdom or insight is needed to become liberated, they all have some equivalent of vipasyana. They may not use this term, however, but the meaning is a commonality.
LonesomeYogurt wrote:In reality, those who do vipassana develop a huge amount of tranquility, and those who do samatha develop a huge amount of insight. The division is more conceptual than actual.