Beautiful Breath wrote:...thanks for your replies. I guess it reminds me of a statement by a Tibetan Practitioner when I told him how I was practicing, he said "A stone can sit and not think".
Yes, but that's not what we are trying to achieve here. I find that statement misses the point.
Beautiful Breath wrote:I think the implication was that any practices that dull the mind (in his opinion like breath work or silent witnessing) are useless. He would err more on the active analytical methods in his tradition - each to their own I guess!
''...practices that dull the mind"? No disrespect intended, but has he actually read
the suttas? The problem isn't anapanasati, it's the five hindrances.
The problem is that we have not yet fully developed the skill of cleansing them out of the mind. What you are going through is normal, although not easy.
Abandoning sloth and drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth and drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth and drowsiness.
(Thīnamiddhaṃ pahāya vigatathīnamiddho viharati ālokasaññī sato sampajāno. Thīnamiddhā cittaṃ parisodheti.)
"Now suppose that a man is bound in prison. As time passes, he eventually is released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was bound in prison. Now I am released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.
(Seyyathāpi mahārāja puriso bandhanāgāre baddho assa, so aparena samayena tamhā bandhanāgārā mucceyya sotthinā abbayena1, na cassa kiñci bhogānaṃ vayo, tassa evamassa: "ahaṃ kho pubbe bandhanāgāre baddho ahosiṃ. So'mhi etarahi tamhā bandhanāgārā mutto sotthinā abbayena. Natthi ca me kiñci bhogānaṃ vayo"ti. So tatonidānaṃ labhetha pāmojjaṃ, adhigaccheyya somanassaṃ)
(http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I have not arrived at what i am about to describe very often, but ime, if we put forth sustained, steady effort, we can sort of 'ease into' a mind that doesn't mind
having to steadily exert itself, because it has been cleansed
of laziness. It is wakeful and alert. Now I have not experienced such a mind for long periods of time, or very often, but my limited experiences with it inspire me when things get tough because I know it is possible.
And it does indeed feel very positive just like the Buddha says, it's kind of like the mind is more pure, virtuous, kind of heroic and at peace with sacrificing a bit of comfort for the sake of a higher goal. (& although having no form or colour, it is beautiful
to perceive the presence of that mind.) One realizes, 'oh this is a better
mind than usual.' I just wish I could be like that all the time, but alas that's not the case as yet!
Take heart, BB. Sloth & torpor is a bane for most of us, myself no less than you. The following might be of assistance also:
Denourishing of Sloth and Torpor
There is the element of rousing one's energy, the element of exertion, the element of continuous exertion; frequently giving wise attention to it — this is the denourishing of the arising of sloth and torpor that have not yet arisen and of the increase and strengthening of sloth and torpor that have already arisen.
— SN 46:51
Six things are conducive to the abandonment of sloth and torpor:
Knowing that overeating is a cause of it;
Changing the bodily posture;
Thinking of the perception of light;
Staying in the open air;
These things, too, are helpful in conquering sloth and torpor:
The recollection of Death
To-day the effort should be made, Who knows if tomorrow Death will come?
— MN 131
Perceiving the suffering in impermanence
In a monk who is accustomed to see the suffering in impermanence and who is frequently engaged in this contemplation, there will be established in him such a keen sense of the danger of laziness, idleness, lassitude, indolence and thoughtlessness, as if he were threatened by a murderer with drawn sword.
— AN 7:46
Cultivate the meditation on sympathetic joy! For by cultivating it, listlessness will disappear.
— MN 62
Contemplation of the spiritual journey
"I have to tread that path which the Buddhas, the Paccekabuddhas and the Great Disciples have gone; but by an indolent person that path cannot be trodden."
— Vism. IV,55
Contemplation of the Master's greatness
"Full application of energy was praised by my Master, and he is unsurpassed in his injunctions and a great help to us. He is honored by practicing his Dhamma, not otherwise."
Contemplation on the greatness of the Heritage
"I have to take possession of the Great Heritage, called the Good Dhamma. But one who is indolent cannot take possession of it."
How to stimulate the mind
How does one stimulate the mind at a time when it needs stimulation? If due to slowness in the application of wisdom or due to non-attainment of the happiness of tranquillity, one's mind is dull, then one should rouse it through reflecting on the eight stirring objects. These eight are: birth, decay, disease and death; the suffering in the worlds of misery; the suffering of the past rooted in the round of existence; the suffering of the future rooted in the round of existence; the suffering of the present rooted in the search for food.
— Vism. IV,63
(more at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#sloth
One more thing just occurred to me. Recently I found that focussing on the sensation alone was unable to sustain my interest (and it is important to find something
of interest!). And so I switched to perceiving how there (seems to be) 'nothing', then there is the in-breath, then a tiny gap, then the out-breath, then 'nothing' again...arising and cessation...over and over again. And if you like, be 'analytical' about that,
if it helps keep you awake. In my case, the change of focus from the sensation
of the breath to perception of it's arising and passing away
resulted in the mind both calming
down considerably, and being quite awake and alert.
The perception of impermanence
- watching how the breath, after arising, inevitably vanishes again, (in one sense, DIES) - tends to wake one up, ime. (Sometimes if I am really struggling, I get creative and say to myself, "ok I am going to witness the lifetime of a single breath from beginning to end". Just as one would observe a human life. So, bringing attention to the breath, we watch how it arises, reaches it's peak, declines, and then ceases.
There, that was it - the 'lifetime of a single breath'.) Changing what aspect
of the breathing process we are looking at can help.