No Focus

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

No Focus

Postby Collective » Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:40 am

I've touched upon this before, but I'd like to bring it up again because I believe it's beneficial to me, but I could be wrong and therefore it could be a stumbling block. Perhaps I described my experience incorrectly, I don't know.

On occassion, when I meditate, eyes closed, or open, I try a technique wherein I don't focus on the breath - I turn my awareness to my actual mind. So I'm sitting there simply becoming aware of my mind, and when I do this, I find the mind chatter drops significantly.

When I shift my awareness to my breath my mind drifts more, and I find difficulty locating the breath. But as said, when I shift my awareness to my actual mind and simply observe it, I experience a much quieter mind. I read something about this somewhere, and I remember the narrative explaining it like a parent watching an unruly child, when the child knows it is being observed, it behaves.

What do you think, is this a known technique, is it recommended?
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Re: No Focus

Postby Kenshou » Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:47 am

Why not?

Be aware of everything, I say! Though the mind likes to have a point of focus (probably the breath if anapanasati), kind of like our vision, you can train yourself to keep on the periphery as well. Watch the mind, watch the breath, watch the body, all of it!
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Re: No Focus

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:09 am

Yes this is a good approach. I think it's probably not easy for a beginner, I know I wouldn't have been able to do it effectively without a good grounding in body awareness, but if you find it's working then go with it.

Sayaday U Tejaniya http://sayadawutejaniya.org/ teaches this approach and you'll find some helpful resources on his web site. Some of Ajahn Sumedho's teaching is similar, I think it's quite popular at IMS these days.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: No Focus

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:11 am

Collective wrote:I've touched upon this before, but I'd like to bring it up again because I believe it's beneficial to me, but I could be wrong and therefore it could be a stumbling block. Perhaps I described my experience incorrectly, I don't know.

On occassion, when I meditate, eyes closed, or open, I try a technique wherein I don't focus on the breath - I turn my awareness to my actual mind. So I'm sitting there simply becoming aware of my mind, and when I do this, I find the mind chatter drops significantly.

When I shift my awareness to my breath my mind drifts more, and I find difficulty locating the breath. But as said, when I shift my awareness to my actual mind and simply observe it, I experience a much quieter mind. I read something about this somewhere, and I remember the narrative explaining it like a parent watching an unruly child, when the child knows it is being observed, it behaves.

What do you think, is this a known technique, is it recommended?

This is a known technique and it is recommended. I usually start with watching the body, the breath but when the mind grows still I switch to the mind itself. It reminds me of the words of Ajahn Dune Atulo (Luang Pu).
He said things like
"Watch the mind right at the mind."
or
"In the area of the Dhamma, keep watch right at your own mind. Practice right at the mind. When you understand your own mind, that, in and of itself, will make you understand everything else."

and
The genuine basis of the Dhamma

There's one thing that meditators love to talk about, and that's, "What do you see when you sit in meditation? What appears when you meditate?" Or else they complain that they've been sitting in meditation for a long time and yet nothing has appeared for them to see. Or else they talk about seeing this thing or that all the time. This makes some people misunderstand things, thinking that when you meditate you get to see what you want to see.

Luang Pu would warn these people that this sort of aspiration is all wrong, for the purpose of meditation is to enter into the genuine basis of the Dhamma.

"The genuine basis of the Dhamma is the mind, so focus on watching the mind. Get so that you understand your own mind poignantly. When you understand your mind poignantly, you've got the basis of the Dhamma right there."


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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Re: No Focus

Postby Collective » Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:26 am

Thank you very much for your replies, they are very encouraging.

I have meditated for about a year now, so yes I am a beginner, but this more (advanced?) technique seems to work for me and I am lucky enough that it is a technique I find easy to implement.

In short, it now feels like I'm meditating and not just watching my breath.

Thank you all again :namaste:
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Re: No Focus

Postby Moggalana » Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:37 am

I like Sayaday U Tejaniya's approach :thumbsup: Ajahn Brahm's Between The Observer And The Observed is also worth a read. A little excerpt:

....
So, that is the power of mindfulness. Another important thing is where you focus that
mindfulness, where you direct it. Some people say you can be mindful of anything.
You can be mindful when you are sweeping the ground, and when you are eating.
Some people even say you can be mindful of sex and all these other crazy ideas. But
this is only being aware of the object of your consciousness. You can be aware of
sweeping, you can be aware of laying a brick, you can be aware of putting food into
your mouth, but that is not where mindfulness should really be put. I’m going to be
really controversial here. Mindfulness should not even be on your body, that’s not the
point of what we are doing.
....
The point is, where do greed, hatred, and delusion live? Where do the five hindrances
live? Do they live in your body? Do they live in the food you eat? Do they live in
the bricks you lay or in the broom or the leaves that you are sweeping? This is an
important point not only to your success as a monastic and to your harmony with
friends and other monks, but also to your progress in meditation. Those hindrances
do not live in the broom, nor do they live in your citta. They live between you and
those objects. It’s that space between the observer and the object that needs watching.

It’s not what you are doing but how you are doing it that is important. That is where
Mara plays. That is where the defilements live. That is the playground of greed,
hatred, and delusion. Too often people put their mindfulness on the object or they put
their mindfulness on the observer. They don’t look at the middle – in between them –
at ‘the doing’, ‘the controlling’, ‘the ill will’, and ‘the aversion’.
....
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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