Finding the right amount of concentration and balance betwee

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Finding the right amount of concentration and balance betwee

Postby J0rrit » Mon May 19, 2014 10:02 pm

I have some problems with finding the right balance between relaxation and concentration; that is with finding the right amount of concentration. Not too much, but also not to little, it has to be just right. It's sometimes explained as if you have a little bird in your hand: don't hold it with too much strenght or you will kill it, but also don't hold it with too less of strenght because it will fly away. The bird is the breath in this simile...

In my experience this is true; hold the breath with too much (forced) concentration and there will be too much tension in your mind, too less of concentration and you won't be aware of the breath well. Where's the boundary between these extremes? Also, for more relaxation it's probably the best to concentrate as less as possible on the breath, and hold is as less tight as possible, but I noticed than that concentration is dull. The fact of concentrating a little more creates some tension in the mind, but a little of this tension is necessary to have some awareness of the breath I would say ?

So in summary, I have found the middle way for myself I think, but I have doubts because I realize I can concentrate just a little more or less, so there are still a lot of options.

Does someone have any tips about how to find this balance? When do I know it's right
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Re: Finding the right amount of concentration and balance be

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 19, 2014 10:19 pm

I think the problem here is you've created a false dichotomy. On one hand you could say the term "relaxation" isn't really used in this practise, on the other hand you could say concentration = relaxation in that one of the fruits of right concentration is a sense of ease and wellbeing.

Both terms are problematic ways of describing the same thing.

A better term would be collectedness, or centredness, and there is also an aspect of letting go. The word "concentration" implies it's forced whereas what you want is a collectedness, or centredness around your meditation theme. The term letting go implies not engaging with what is pulling you away from your meditation theme, wheras the term "relaxation" implies dullness and sleep.

Using different words to remind yourself what you are supposed to be doing can make a big difference.
"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: Finding the right amount of concentration and balance be

Postby beeblebrox » Tue May 20, 2014 12:54 am

I think the tension might come from expecting things to stay still, or the same (which includes concentration), while actually they're always changing, and possibly fighting against each other. If there was no awareness of that happening, it might cause some tightening, or frustration.

It's like expecting a kitten to stay still while you're carrying it around, or expecting that your way of holding it would be valid for the entire duration of carrying it. It just takes practice... and I also think the sitting simplifies it quite a bit.

:anjali:
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Re: Finding the right amount of concentration and balance be

Postby J0rrit » Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:35 pm

ok. But there has to be some active focus of your awareness on the breath, right ?

On another forum a lot of people (among them a Monastic) told me to not actively focus anywhere and to not choose the meditation object at any time. Instead, just do nothing at wait till everything but the breath has been let go of, and therefore, is gone from your awareness.

I tried this last one, but I came to the conclusion that that doesn't work...Without actively aiming your awareness at the breath, it's (I think) not possible to let go of everything and end up with only awareness of the breath...

Comments on this ?
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Re: Finding the right amount of concentration and balance be

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:52 pm

J0rrit wrote:ok. But there has to be some active focus of your awareness on the breath, right ?


You can simply become aware of it by choosing to advert to it; notice that throughout the anapanasati instructions, it's a known feature at first, and later lies alongside the other features of the training.

On another forum a lot of people (among them a Monastic) told me to not actively focus anywhere and to not choose the meditation object at any time. Instead, just do nothing at wait till everything but the breath has been let go of, and therefore, is gone from your awareness.


This doesn't seem to align with satipatthana/anapanasati instructions, as far as I'm aware; the focus isn't a laser onto the breath, but a relaxation away from a calm awareness of the breath until, using that as a guideline, one lets go of progressively more and more refined & subtle involvements, from which it is in the nature of things that jhana factor momenta come to be cultivated.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Finding the right amount of concentration and balance be

Postby Mkoll » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:56 pm

Enduring patience is the highest austerity. "Nibbana is supreme," say the Buddhas. He is not a true monk who harms another, nor a true renunciate who oppresses others.

-Dhp 184
Peace,
James
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