New to practise, a few questions.

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 to practise, a few questions.

Postby Snufkin » Sat May 12, 2012 12:06 pm

Hello everyone, I've been practising meditation for just over a week, I've been doing this daily and try to fit in two sittings a day when possible. I am just wondering about the length of time I should be practising for, initially I started off with doing it for about 10 mins, and now my sittings are almost 20 minutes and progressing a little each time,

I have a couple of queries, my first one is should I try to aim sit for longer, or just naturally allow time to increase? And also, should I put a timer on my sitting so I know how long to aim for?

Thanks in advance!
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby bodom » Sat May 12, 2012 12:18 pm

Hi Snufkin and welcome too the forum!

I highly recommend reading this short chapter entitled Structuring Your Meditation from Mindfulness in Plain English a classic best selling manual on meditation:

Structuring Your Meditation
http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/min ... ish_10.php

I hope this answers all your questions and more.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby Snufkin » Sat May 12, 2012 12:36 pm

bodom wrote:Hi Snufkin and welcome too the forum!

I highly recommend reading this short chapter entitled Structuring Your Meditation from Mindfulness in Plain English a classic best selling manual on meditation:

Structuring Your Meditation
http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/min ... ish_10.php

I hope this answers all your questions and more.

:anjali:


Excellent, thank you very much, I have actually just started reading this book. Perhaps I should have read it in it's entirety before posting on here. :embarassed:
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat May 12, 2012 4:03 pm

Haha don't worry! It's always good to ask. Congratulations on starting down the path!

I think it's probably best to let the time organically grow, but do be sure to push yourself slightly so you don't get stuck in one spot. A timer is a good idea if you find yourself wanting to peak at the clock; it can help you to be determined and say, "I will sit until this bell rings no matter what." Otherwise that chapter is a really good resource, as is the entire book. Good to see you reading it!

May your practice be successful!
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 to practise, a few questions.

Postby Cittasanto » Sat May 12, 2012 4:56 pm

Snufkin wrote:I have a couple of queries, my first one is should I try to aim sit for longer, or just naturally allow time to increase? And also, should I put a timer on my sitting so I know how long to aim for?

Thanks in advance!

Hi Snufkin,
well it depends what your reason is! are you aiming for a regular practice of a specific duration per day or something else?
A timer is handy if you have to finish by a certain time, but I personally prefer no timeing of sits that way I can sit for as long as I choose, but also I use a timer when I have a specific time I have to finish for.
unless there is a specific reason you are training to sit for a certain length of time, I wouldn't, and allow nature to take its course, but it is a good idea to keep a regular time you sit at and not follow urges to get up from a sit unless necesarry
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby Snufkin » Mon May 21, 2012 2:27 pm

I definitely had trouble with wanting to get up after a short amount of time, but I've started to let these thoughts go. My main aim is just to increase the length of time I'm sitting for really, so I can have a better quality of meditation. I'm starting to sit for about 25 minutes now.

I've started to encounter something else that may or not be an issue. After I follow my breath for awhile, and thoughts begin to settle down and my concentration becomes deeper. Nothing else happens, I just follow my breath, discarding the odd thought that pops up until I end my sitting. No insights arise, no emotions, nothing, just a calm concentration.

Am I doing something wrong? In my mind it feels more like my idea of what Samatha meditation is, as opposed to Vipassana.

Thanks for the kind replies.
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon May 21, 2012 3:03 pm

Snufkin wrote:I definitely had trouble with wanting to get up after a short amount of time, but I've started to let these thoughts go. My main aim is just to increase the length of time I'm sitting for really, so I can have a better quality of meditation. I'm starting to sit for about 25 minutes now.

I've started to encounter something else that may or not be an issue. After I follow my breath for awhile, and thoughts begin to settle down and my concentration becomes deeper. Nothing else happens, I just follow my breath, discarding the odd thought that pops up until I end my sitting. No insights arise, no emotions, nothing, just a calm concentration.

Am I doing something wrong? In my mind it feels more like my idea of what Samatha meditation is, as opposed to Vipassana.

Thanks for the kind replies.

It really depends on the tradition you're interested in. Some who follow the Mahasi or Goenka methods would say that, once such calm is obtained, it is better to then move towards a more "active" scanning of the body or noting of sensation. Other traditions, like those of Ajahn Chah or Buddhadasa, would say that the development and purification of that concentration to the point of Jhana is the best road to insight. Again, it's all about your personal technique and path. In my opinion, based solely on the path I follow, which may not be right for you, I would recommend continuing the cultivation of concentration until you begin to experience more profound stillness and/or Jhana states, which I believe are best for the eventual obtaining of insight. But do ask around for other opinions! Buddhadasa is just one teacher =]
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 to practise, a few questions.

Postby marc108 » Mon May 21, 2012 6:25 pm

bodom wrote:Hi Snufkin and welcome too the forum!

I highly recommend reading this short chapter entitled Structuring Your Meditation from Mindfulness in Plain English a classic best selling manual on meditation:

Structuring Your Meditation
http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/min ... ish_10.php

I hope this answers all your questions and more.

:anjali:


I would second this recommendation and second your idea to read MIPE in it's entirety... basically every question on meditation for beginners is answered there.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby Snufkin » Mon May 21, 2012 7:55 pm

marc108 wrote:I would second this recommendation and second your idea to read MIPE in it's entirety... basically every question on meditation for beginners is answered there.


I finished MIPE this morning, I'm not sure it clarified my question of no insight or emotions arising though.
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby marc108 » Mon May 21, 2012 9:13 pm

Snufkin wrote:I definitely had trouble with wanting to get up after a short amount of time, but I've started to let these thoughts go. My main aim is just to increase the length of time I'm sitting for really, so I can have a better quality of meditation. I'm starting to sit for about 25 minutes now.

I've started to encounter something else that may or not be an issue. After I follow my breath for awhile, and thoughts begin to settle down and my concentration becomes deeper. Nothing else happens, I just follow my breath, discarding the odd thought that pops up until I end my sitting. No insights arise, no emotions, nothing, just a calm concentration.

Am I doing something wrong? In my mind it feels more like my idea of what Samatha meditation is, as opposed to Vipassana.

Thanks for the kind replies.


You have only been practicing for a week & are only sitting for 25 minutes... meditation conducive of Right Concentration and any sort of true Insight will take a lot of dedication & time, it's a life long practice. Calm or concentration is not really an accurate translation of the word Samadhi. Calm (relaxation, still thinking), per say, is not really what is meant by Samadhi... Samadhi is profound and beautiful. If your breathing does not feel profound, beautiful and blissful then just keep watching the breath. The next step would be to see if you maintain your practice and keep that calm concentration for an hour.

I would also suggest you read a few books that are a little more beyond the basic concepts of meditation presented in MIPE, that will familiarize you with what Buddhist Meditation really is and entails...

Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond – A Meditators Handbook by Ajahn Brahm.
http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/upl ... ndbook.pdf

Meditation – A Way of Awakening by Ajahn Sucitto
http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/upl ... ucitto.pdf

Wings to Awakening An Anthology from the Pali Canon by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Part III, Section E: RIght Concentration
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... index.html


Vipassana and Samatha as separate meditation systems were not taught, as such, by the Buddha... This separation into two distinct forms of meditation came about later in commentarial works. Insight and Tranquility are things that happen as a result of meditation, not types of meditation. A good simple explanation of this can be found here:

The Path of Concentration & Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... cmind.html
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby Snufkin » Mon May 21, 2012 9:52 pm

Thank you so much for such a comprehensive post. And thanks to everyone else. I feared I was getting very much ahead of myself but it's difficult when there doesn't seem like anything to measure progress. I'll get started on the reading material and continue to increase my sitting times.
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby Snufkin » Mon May 28, 2012 10:03 am

More physical problems have started to rise, the chief one being towards the end of my sit, one sit of my neck becomes quite stiff and achey, it becomes harder to focus on anything else. My legs also seem to be going to sleep more often these days. Could these issues be something to do with the cushion I'm using?
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Re: New to practise, a few questions.

Postby marc108 » Mon May 28, 2012 5:14 pm

Snufkin wrote:More physical problems have started to rise, the chief one being towards the end of my sit, one sit of my neck becomes quite stiff and achey, it becomes harder to focus on anything else. My legs also seem to be going to sleep more often these days. Could these issues be something to do with the cushion I'm using?


legs going to sleep is normal if you're sitting lotus. you can try different leg positions, just sit in a chair or just ignore it... it wont hurt you, its just an annoyance.

spend 5-10 minutes stretching or doing some Yoga before you sit... this is useful for the body AND the mind. you can also give the areas that are commonly achy a good massage before hand. also check up on your posture, you may not be sitting correctly.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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