Awarewolf wrote:But I'm ready to focus my practice and conduct. I've slowed myself down with expecting results and I spend more time feeling the bad emotions I feel.
This is good. It indicates at least the attainment of a level of awareness and insight profound enough to actually begin addressing
the REAL problems needing addressing. Good for you! Just don't backslide from this attitude. Keep it going forward.
Awarewolf wrote:I guess I'm being much more honest with myself as I go through the days now and I get a lot of true peace and meaning from acting in this way.
Ah! A positive resultant. This too is good. Keep this little insight at the forefront of your consciousness and don't ever drop your mindfulness of it, as it will serve you very well in the present moment and into the future.
Awarewolf wrote:I've also begun mindful breathing meditation, anapanasati, and am committing myself to practice everyday, even if its only for a couple minutes. I'm trying to build the habit.
Here is where I would advise to be a bit harder on yourself in your practice and commit to, at the very least, a half hour a day with the intent to build up to an hour a day, and eventually to two one hours sittings apiece once a day. But, yes, build up the habit of meditating once (preferably at least twice once the habit becomes established) a day. Gradually, if everything goes well, you should arrive at a point where you would do anything needed NOT to miss a meditation sitting. That's when you know you are on your way to bigger and brighter achievements.
Awarewolf wrote:One question I have is, when formally sitting to meditate, if my object happened to be the nostrils or the belly, am I to be aiming towards being mindful of the object nonstop? For the whole sit? I know other things will arise of course but later on if my concentration gets better and my focus on the object stabilizes is this still insight meditation? or have I switched to samatha?
Look at it this way: before you can stand up and walk on your own, you first need to learn how to crawl. Developing concentration via samatha
meditation techniques is the process of setting up the right condition for you to progress to the next level of achievement, in this case spending more time at insight meditation. (Actually, you will already be using insight to some degree in order to keep the mind focused on the meditation object. This will become clearer the deeper you become involved in your practice to quiet the mind.) If you view it in this way, setting up the right conditions first
before attempting to change your practice, you will make steady and enduring progress toward your intended goal.
So, in the beginning, yes, being "mindful of the object nonstop" (or at least without an "unnoticed break" in concentration, wherein you then immediately bring the mind focus back to the object) is a correct way to practice. Once you get to the point that doing this is as easy as falling off a log (or breathing; in other words, without having to think about it), then you can begin considering what next to bring into your meditation sitting. In other words, you should have developed the effortless ability to remain focused upon a meditation object for as long as you desire without becoming distracted and spacing out. This is the ability that needs to be developed first in order to successfully begin contemplating objects with the goal of having insight arise.
Once you are able to maintain focus on the object, you can begin examining the object for the three characteristics: anicca
, and anatta
, or for its impermanence, dissatisfaction, and without self quality. Once you arrive at this stage of the practice, this is the heart of insight meditation, and can be deepened by practicing satipatthana
, or the four establishments of mindfulness.
Does that make sense?
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV