New Meditator seeks guidance

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

New Meditator seeks guidance

Postby KentStillness » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:08 pm

Hi Everyone

I have been meditating since October usually for 25-30 minutes each day simply focussing on the breath which I understand is called Samantha.

I have read a few different books such as Peace is Every Step and Mindfullness in Plain English along with a book called Teach us to Sit Still. I will try and be as specific as I can!

I grasp the concept of Samantha but after reading the two above books I get quite confused when they discuss the progression to Vipassana, how this differs from Samantha and when during your practice of meditation you should make the transition to the next step.

I came to meditation due to some health problems (which have improved) and addiction (which I am in recovery and feeling better each day) and I wondered if anyone had any hints on dealing with these two issues in the context of Vipassana.

Apologies if I have got any terminology wrong - any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: New Meditator seeks guidance

Postby santa100 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:27 pm

Ven. Vimalaramsi's essay on the Anapanasati Sutta might help clearing up confusion between Samatha and Vipassana. He also offered usesful techniques on breathing meditation. Kinda long but definitely a good read..
http://buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/anpnst-vim/part0.htm
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Re: New Meditator seeks guidance

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:48 pm

Samatha meditation is more about calming your mind. You focus directly on one thing, usually your breath, and just keep your concentration at that. You don't necessarily ignore other things but you keep bringing your concentration back to your breath. As your concentration improves, you can develop a real single-pointedness of mind where fewer distractions and such arise.

This is a great time to start vipassana. In vipassana, your entire body and mind is the subject. You keep your attention on whatever is more prominent; usually that is your breath, but if you have an itch or a thought or a feeling, move away from the breath and focus your mindful attention on that instead. If you're thinking, say to yourself "thinking, thinking, thinking" until the thought ceases, or if you feel a breeze, note "cool, cool, cool" with your mindful attention until it stops. That's the essence of vipassana, realizing that all experience, whether those experiences are physical like heat or an itch, or mental, like an emotion or a thought, are impermanent and not under your control.

So basically samatha is more for relaxing and calming the mind through pure focus on a single object, mainly the breath. Vipassana is mindfully examining all experiences, whether physical or mental, and seeing them as impermanent and non-self. During vipassana, the breath is almost like a base camp, where you return to if there is no other experience that comes to the forefront. So explore and examine your thoughts and sensations, but when they calm down, just return to the breath!

I hope that helps. PM me if anything was unclear. Also anyone who sees any mistake or misstatement I may have made, please correct me!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: New Meditator seeks guidance

Postby KentStillness » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:38 pm

Thanks for the help i have found some literature quite ambiguous around this part of vipassana. I had some pain in my back some months ago during meditation so i left my breath for a while, the pain fluctuated then gradually dissipated. I then returned to my breath. So i guess this is vipassana
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Re: New Meditator seeks guidance

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:52 pm

The Buddhas definition

Samadhi sutta (tranquility and insight)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Samatha gives rise to concentration or one pointedness. Vipassana gives rise to insight into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: New Meditator seeks guidance

Postby KentStillness » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:51 pm

Thanks for your assistance and links it has been really helpful.

Armed with this I re-read some some of the chapters of Mindfullness in Plain English and it all makes a lot more sense. Whilst the information in the book is clear in the way it is written I think its the sub headings and wording used which is what was confusing me. The Anapanasati Sutta essay has really helped fill in the blanks.

Now I understand this I can embark Vipassana properly.

I have been struggling to sleep recently and I have realised that this is probably because I have done samatha for a little too long and in my efforts to concentrate my mind I have neglected to observe thought and sensation. Instead I have doggedly kept pulling myself back to the breath when noticing a thought pulling me away.

Whoops!
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Re: New Meditator seeks guidance

Postby reflection » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:13 pm

To add more confusion, there is the debate on how we should see vipassana. According to many, vipassana and samatha are not different practices, but states of mind.

When they [the suttas] depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana."

[...]

From this description it's obvious that samatha and vipassana are not separate paths of practice, but instead are complementary ways of relating to the present moment
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html
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Re: New Meditator seeks guidance

Postby icyteru » Tue May 08, 2012 2:46 pm

reflection wrote:To add more confusion, there is the debate on how we should see vipassana. According to many, vipassana and samatha are not different practices, but states of mind.

When they [the suttas] depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana."

[...]

From this description it's obvious that samatha and vipassana are not separate paths of practice, but instead are complementary ways of relating to the present moment
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html


yes. many suttas discuss about jhana. in digha nikaya and majjhima nikaya, how many jhana words that appear? :jumping:
The most complete english tipitaka on the internet world. http://realtruthlife.blogspot.com .
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