application of meditation

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

application of meditation

Postby orangemod » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:51 am

Hi all:
I hope I have this posted in the right place.
Here is my question:

Everything I have read about the practice of meditation has led me to believe that you are only to focus on your breathing and other thoughts that come in can be recognized and passed by....then go back to your breathing. Ok, suppose I have a concern and I want meditation to help me to solve the problem. Can I think or concentrate on this exact thought during meditation to possibly find a solution. Or is the meditation only there to create a clear mind and calm so I can later (not during meditation) find a solution?

Hope this makes sense.
Thanks in advance.
Cheers, Dave
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Re: application of meditation

Postby 5heaps » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:25 am

Solving problems requires moving from object to object, which is the opposite of building concentration (ie. staying on a single object longer and longer by steadily reducing dullness and excitement/agitation from distracting you).

The point would be to develop very good concentration so that when you aim your mind towards solving a problem your ability to do so is greatly increased, because the mind has become sharper, more lucid, subtler, less impaired, more inspired, etcetc.
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Re: application of meditation

Postby Reductor » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:29 am

orangemod wrote:Hi all:
I hope I have this posted in the right place.
Here is my question:

Everything I have read about the practice of meditation has led me to believe that you are only to focus on your breathing and other thoughts that come in can be recognized and passed by....then go back to your breathing. Ok, suppose I have a concern and I want meditation to help me to solve the problem. Can I think or concentrate on this exact thought during meditation to possibly find a solution. Or is the meditation only there to create a clear mind and calm so I can later (not during meditation) find a solution?

Hope this makes sense.
Thanks in advance.
Cheers, Dave



I suppose you could bring about some serenity and internal stability, which are necessary in effective meditation, but once you have a quiet(er) mind you can direct it to the problem you choose. But that would not be Buddhist meditation proper.

It would be similar to some of the contemplation you find in Theistic religions (contemplation of Bible passages, contemplation of God, etc).

Its worth noting that Buddhism has other meditative modes, so to speak, and they are might be described as being more active than breath mediation.

Better, I think, is to focus on Mediation Buddhist proper in an effort to reduce suffering as a whole.
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Re: application of meditation

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:55 am

hi Dave
welcome to Dhamma Wheel,
I find having a calm mind helps actually solve the problem, and this is what we are trying to do, not work out our problems!
you may find you get an answer to a problem while meditating, also, not because you are reflecting on it but because you are calm and become open to the answer you already know.
directing your mind to a problem you are facing is a form of practice called reflection which still needs to be done with a calm mind to properly analyse the problem, so when doing your formal practice do your formal practice, when reflecting reflect, but don't get caught up in the troubles, try to remain calm & balanced, find yourself getting caught up in the problem go back to the breath for a moment or two.

orangemod wrote:Hi all:
I hope I have this posted in the right place.
Here is my question:

Everything I have read about the practice of meditation has led me to believe that you are only to focus on your breathing and other thoughts that come in can be recognized and passed by....then go back to your breathing. Ok, suppose I have a concern and I want meditation to help me to solve the problem. Can I think or concentrate on this exact thought during meditation to possibly find a solution. Or is the meditation only there to create a clear mind and calm so I can later (not during meditation) find a solution?

Hope this makes sense.
Thanks in advance.
Cheers, Dave
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Re: application of meditation

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:57 am

Hi orangemod
I think you may have made a couple of incorrect assumptions regarding meditation. As thereductor said, you have inadvertantly confused theistic forms of comtemplation with Buddhist meditation.
There's more to meditation than just awareness of breath, though it is the dominant form of Buddhist meditation being practiced. Anapana-sati, depending on how it is practiced, can either lead to sammasamadhi (right concentration), or vipassana (insight into the nature of reality). In both cases, one is working with the object. Whatever is going on in the background - one neither pushes it away nor indulges in it.
What tends to happen as a result of practice is that the calm and clarity that arises as a result of meditation allows the meditator to see a previously perceived intractable problem in a new light partially unobscured from our own defilements, prejudices and habitual mental associations. But it should not be confused with the goal of the practice which is to develop concentration and insight and come out of suffering.
Kind regards

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Re: application of meditation

Postby seanpdx » Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:56 am

orangemod wrote:Hi all:
I hope I have this posted in the right place.
Here is my question:

Everything I have read about the practice of meditation has led me to believe that you are only to focus on your breathing and other thoughts that come in can be recognized and passed by....then go back to your breathing. Ok, suppose I have a concern and I want meditation to help me to solve the problem. Can I think or concentrate on this exact thought during meditation to possibly find a solution. Or is the meditation only there to create a clear mind and calm so I can later (not during meditation) find a solution?

Hope this makes sense.
Thanks in advance.
Cheers, Dave


I wouldn't start out by trying to concentrate on the thought. I would begin with breathing meditation, using that to come to a certain level of concentration, and then directing the concentrated state of mind from the breath to the problem at hand.

Of course, the level of concentration required to (in all likelihood) solve your problem may be out of reach if you're not already adept at meditation.

But the meditation is not only there to create a clear mind.
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Re: application of meditation

Postby orangemod » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:36 pm

Thanks all, you have been a big help. I am (obviously) new to meditation, so I have a lot of practice ahead of me.
But, this gets me going in the right direction.
Cheers, Dave
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Re: application of meditation

Postby AdvaitaJ » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:16 am

Orangemod,

You've already received lots of solid wisdom, but please let me add that in my experience it's very difficult to not have "current issues" surface during meditation. I certainly don't have to exert any effort, the problems just pop up on their own...all too often, it seems. However, as Ben and others have said, once you've achieved a degree of calmness and concentration, I think you'll be amazed at how the best solutions seem to surface all by themselves.

Regards: AdvaitaJ
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