Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:41 pm

piotr wrote:Hi, :smile:

Ben wrote:I think you know what I mean, which is, bliss or some other superfine vedana (sensation/feeling) should not be taken as the goal for path. All vedana are anicca, all vedanas are unsatisfactory and all vedanas are not-self. As the Buddha himself said: sabbe dhamma anatta. Rather than mistaking a vedana like bliss as Nibbana, one should utilise thee experience as an object of vipassana.


Sure, this are important insights, but they stand almost at the end of the path. And they are not a goal either – they are a means. Take a look at SN 12.23 and Dhp 277-279, where this is clearly stated by the Buddha. And so is concentration, which makes good use out of certain kind of feelings. It's just unfair to compare this to a situation of a person who is addicted to medicines – the Buddha gave us much better similes.

piotr,

Please clarify what it that you are saying here. It seems that you are missing Ben's point.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:27 am

Ben wrote:Hi Vardali
Boredom is quite possibly the manifestation of the hindrance of restlessness. All of us have to contend with restlessness at some point or other during our practice. In your situation, I would examine my practice and whether I was practicing as instructed. Boredom also indicates that you have dropped your awareness of the object of meditation and are reacting to, perhaps, the unpleasant vedanas (sensations) which is arousing slightly aversive feelings towards meditation.

If you are practicing anapanasati, then visualising bright flashing numbers as breath counters may in-fact be distracting your mind away from the breath-object.
For some inspiration, you might like to read Ledi Sayadaw's 'Manual of Respiration (Anapana-dipani): http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Anapa ... asati.html
or the section on Anapana meditation in the Visuddhimagga and to follow the instructions precisely and maintain your attention on the object for longer and longer periods.
All the best with your practice.

Ben


Hi Ben,

That's a great link! I'm not going to change my practice any time soon (I have a lot on my plate already) but if I were looking for meditation support right now this would be so useful.

Best,
Drolma

:anjali:
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby Pannapetar » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:18 am

I can relate to that. I think boredom arises as a consequence of craving for entertainment, intellectualising, or occupying the mind in any other way, especially as a result of the idea that "there are better things to do" than meditation. It may be worthwhile to set time apart for meditation, perhaps moving to a quiet location away from distractions. In the beginning, I often went to a nearby park for meditation. Now I am setting time apart in the early morning or in the evening when there is nothing else to do. The thing with achieving concentration... it just takes time. I have used the counting method with some success, but simple counting is too easy; it leaves too much room for the mind to wander. So I counted 0.5 on breathing in, 1 on breathing out, 1.5 on breathing in, 2 on breathing out, up to 5, then repeat up to 6, 7, 8, 9 until 10, then restart the sequence. While counting in this way I found myself visualising the numbers as shapes, as well as thinking "breathing-in" and "breathing-out" and simultaneously watching the (physical) breath. Occasionally, even a thread of independent thought sprang up and took its course in parallel. Obviously, the mind can parallel-process, and I even got better at it while using the counting technique. The parallel-processing can become tiring, however, and this leads to wanting to abandon meditation. I tackled this by dropping the counting after a while and just watching the breath, which is more peaceful and relaxing. Then I visualise my mind as a slab of white marble, clean and pristine. When thoughts come up, I perceive the thoughts as garbage falling on the white slab and I just gently wipe them away, like a cook wipes the countertop after chopping vegetables. This worked quite well for me, much better than the counting. I am not sure if this is an accepted Buddhist method, since I came up with it myself after much trial and error. Using this method I can get into a quiet state petty fast, even after a busy day with nagging customers and crying kids.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby piotr » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:36 am

Hi, :smile:

tiltbillings wrote:Please clarify what it that you are saying here. It seems that you are missing Ben's point.


I don't know what to clarify here. Maybe you can tell me where I miss the point.
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:54 am

piotr wrote:Hi, :smile:

tiltbillings wrote:Please clarify what it that you are saying here. It seems that you are missing Ben's point.


I don't know what to clarify here. Maybe you can tell me where I miss the point.


You seem to be critical of Ben's posting, but it is not clear why, if that is the case. Mostly, your posting is just a bit vague as to its point.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby kannada » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:28 am

Pannapetar wrote:I can relate to that. I think boredom arises as a consequence of craving for entertainment, intellectualising, or occupying the mind in any other way, especially as a result of the idea that "there are better things to do" than meditation. It may be worthwhile to set time apart for meditation, perhaps moving to a quiet location away from distractions. In the beginning, I often went to a nearby park for meditation. Now I am setting time apart in the early morning or in the evening when there is nothing else to do. The thing with achieving concentration... it just takes time. I have used the counting method with some success, but simple counting is too easy; it leaves too much room for the mind to wander. So I counted 0.5 on breathing in, 1 on breathing out, 1.5 on breathing in, 2 on breathing out, up to 5, then repeat up to 6, 7, 8, 9 until 10, then restart the sequence. While counting in this way I found myself visualising the numbers as shapes, as well as thinking "breathing-in" and "breathing-out" and simultaneously watching the (physical) breath. Occasionally, even a thread of independent thought sprang up and took its course in parallel. Obviously, the mind can parallel-process, and I even got better at it while using the counting technique. The parallel-processing can become tiring, however, and this leads to wanting to abandon meditation. I tackled this by dropping the counting after a while and just watching the breath, which is more peaceful and relaxing. Then I visualise my mind as a slab of white marble, clean and pristine. When thoughts come up, I perceive the thoughts as garbage falling on the white slab and I just gently wipe them away, like a cook wipes the countertop after chopping vegetables. This worked quite well for me, much better than the counting. I am not sure if this is an accepted Buddhist method, since I came up with it myself after much trial and error. Using this method I can get into a quiet state petty fast, even after a busy day with nagging customers and crying kids.

Cheers, Thomas

Hi Thomas,

Many years ago I also found that watching the breathing was too simple so I modified it to suit my needs. I needed something to keep my mind completely concentrated.

It went as follows...

1. Watch in and out breath, name each breath (inhalation + exhalation) as 1, 2, 3 etc - up to 10 and call the group 1 (1 sub-unit)

2. Repeat above and call this group '2' (2 sub-units)

3. Repeat above and name this group '3' (3 sub-units)

etc to 10 sub-units (10 x 10 breaths) 10 sub units then = 1 unit

Repeat above until 2 units are completed

Repeat above until 3 units are completed

etc up to 10 units - then finish

10 breaths = 1 sub unit, 10 sub units (100 breaths) = 1 unit, 10 units (10 times 100 breaths) = 1,000 breaths

Breath rate (on average) is between 6 to 10 seconds per breath. Shorter breaths are usually at the beginning of the sequence, longer ones towards the end.

Say at an average of 8 seconds for each breath the total time = 8,000 seconds or just over 2 hours for a whole session (one can modify lengh of practice for time available).

Practicing (or torturing yourself) this way ensures complete focus on the breath, if one gets lost in the count one MUST start again from the beginning, regardless of where you are in the sequence. It is not recommended to pursue practice in this way for too long, just until one gains complete focus - or goes completely mad. :D

Also, I found the best time to meditate was night time (less noise) a group of us would start around 9:00 pm and practice through the night, one hour and thirty minutes on with 30 minute breaks until around 6:00 am. We only did this on Friday nights, so we could 'recuperate' on the weekends.

Regards

k
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby appicchato » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:42 pm

kannada wrote:Practicing (or torturing yourself)...


Just for the sake of conversation...it sounds more like the latter to me...my experience, and what I've read, is that the concentrating, or focusing, on the breath is merely a centering point to calm, or slow down, the mind until such time until one moves on...chalking a cue stick comes to mind...it's done as a preparation, a preliminary, not an endeavor as an endgame in itself...I've tried to think of some benefit to this 'method' but unable so far...but that's just me...
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby kannada » Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:30 pm

appicchato wrote:
kannada wrote:Practicing (or torturing yourself)...


Just for the sake of conversation...it sounds more like the latter to me...my experience, and what I've read, is that the concentrating, or focusing, on the breath is merely a centering point to calm, or slow down, the mind until such time until one moves on...chalking a cue stick comes to mind...it's done as a preparation, a preliminary, not an endeavor as an endgame in itself...I've tried to think of some benefit to this 'method' but unable so far...but that's just me...

Dear Appicchato,

Thank you for your comment. Back then I saw my above practice as a way of taming an unruly mind and it really does work. However it was only meant as a temporary aid in a time of my life where a firm hand was required. I would suggest that anyone who cannot quieten their mind any other way might give it a try but only as an interim measure, until they can safely return to more conventional means. Back then (1970) I wasn't practising anapanasati, I had not heard of Buddhist meditation methods until 1990. I was practising so-ham japa (ajapa-japa), a method somewhat similar to anapanasati, where both focus on the respiration without altering it (not pranayama). The outcome was similar to Samatha practise.

Alll the best

k
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby piotr » Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:01 pm

Hi, :smile:

tiltbillings wrote:You seem to be critical of Ben's posting, but it is not clear why, if that is the case. Mostly, your posting is just a bit vague as to its point.


I thought that it's clear why I'm not comfortable with Genkaku and Ben's posting. But let me state it once more. In my opinion the bliss of concentration is not 'just another vedanā' as Ben says, but it's imporant part of practice. It's compared by the Buddha to food in a fortress which is 'for the delight, convenience, & comfort of those within' (AN 7.63). And contrary to normal feelings, it works as one of many means to the goal; it should be developed, and treated as a raft which will be abandoned at the other shore.
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:21 pm

piotr wrote:Hi, :smile:

tiltbillings wrote:You seem to be critical of Ben's posting, but it is not clear why, if that is the case. Mostly, your posting is just a bit vague as to its point.


I thought that it's clear why I'm not comfortable with Genkaku and Ben's posting.


I am seeking clarification because it seems that your expression of discomfort seems to come close to suggesting that what Ben is saying is not consistent with the Dhamma. Are you saying that?

But let me state it once more. In my opinion the bliss of concentration is not 'just another vedanā' as Ben says, but it's imporant part of practice.


It depend upon which framework you are working in. You seem to be working within a jhana type practice and Ben is coming from a non-jhanic vpassana style of practice. I think we need to be careful to distinguish between the two when comment on what is being said.

And contrary to normal feelings, it works as one of many means to the goal; it should be developed, and treated as a raft which will be abandoned at the other shore.


Again, context is important here.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby Jechbi » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:34 pm

Hi piotr,
piotr wrote:In my opinion the bliss of concentration is not 'just another vedanā' ... but it's imporant part of practice.
This is worth its own thread. Why don't you start one, titled "Bliss: Just Another Vedana?"
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby piotr » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:55 pm

Hi, :smile:

tiltbillings wrote:I am seeking clarification because it seems that your expression of discomfort seems to come close to suggesting that what Ben is saying is not consistent with the Dhamma. Are you saying that?


I'm saying that it's unfair to do such comparisions, which were done earlier in this thread, because developing concentration is a refined skill.
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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby Vardali » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:52 pm

Wow, you all have provided some more food for thought for me, in several ways (focus and context).

It seems I will have quite some time now to work with these various elements or rather try them out and see how I can relate to you comments (in terms of practice and experience).

Some stuff goes over my head atm, but I guess that is part of the game to see if/when it clicks ... ;)

So, you guys have made me curious, which seems not a bad approach to meditation again :D

Thanks a lot :D

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Re: Bored with meditation - solution or acceptance?

Postby Nibbida » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:00 am

Vardali wrote:Hi there,
I am not a good meditator, I have to admit


In case it hasn't been pointed out, this is the hindrance of doubt. Like anything else, it's best to note it with mindfulness and equanimity when it arises.

"There's no such thing as a bad meditation. The only bad meditation is the one you don't do."
--Cheri Huber

"Difficulty is an opportunity to become more aware of the forces of mind and the feelings causing the distractions. Remember, if we learn from what is going on, regardless of what is happening, the practice is working, even when it seems not to be working..."
--Gil Fronsdal, The Issue at Hand
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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