My practice, and some questions

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

My practice, and some questions

Postby Awarewolf » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:53 pm

I've spent a lot of time maneuvering through spiritual concepts and possible routes to enlightenment, buddhism, eckhart tolle, the law of attraction, all these different takes but after having "forced" realizations and insights I've realized (haha) that this method does not work for me. I stress myself out and I dove deeper into anxiety than I had ever in my life.

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. 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. I've also begun mindful breathing meditation, anapanasati, and am commiting myself to practice everyday, even if its only for a couple minutes. I'm trying to build the habit.

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?

Thanks in advance :jedi:
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Re: My practice, and some questions

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:03 pm

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?

Thanks in advance :jedi:

Until your concentration develops to the point where piti arises, just focus on calming the body through sustained attention to the breath. When piti does arise, switch your attention to that in accordance with the 16 steps of anapanasati. In the meantime, before that happens, keep it on the breath. Other thoughts or feelings may arise, but in the first four steps, you're just trying to calm yourself down; it might be "samatha" meditation but it's necessary to do the real work of Jhana.
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: My practice, and some questions

Postby IanAnd » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:24 pm

Hello Awarewolf,
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, dukkha, 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?

In peace,
Ian
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: My practice, and some questions

Postby Awarewolf » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:43 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Until your concentration develops to the point where piti arises, just focus on calming the body through sustained attention to the breath. When piti does arise, switch your attention to that in accordance with the 16 steps of anapanasati. In the meantime, before that happens, keep it on the breath. Other thoughts or feelings may arise, but in the first four steps, you're just trying to calm yourself down; it might be "samatha" meditation but it's necessary to do the real work of Jhana.


LY, what is piti? Just from your explanation I am guessing it is the start of the second triad? Are these triads really worth following? I feel since I ever started reading about anapanasati and other methods from the buddha, I've always felt it was more about just the act of feeling that breath like you mentioned and that will eventually get you where you want to be...is it these contemplations he recommends that helps develop the further insight when the time is right?

Also, when you say "before that happens keep it on the breath" does that mean in the first 4 steps while I'm beginning to note long, short, bodily stuff, etc., I'm not contemplating at all? Still just working directly with being aware of the feelings?
That serious beginners manual of anapanasati I mentioned to you says in the first step you become aware of the long breath, you get to know the feeling associated with it, blah blah blah there's a lot to recognize, but is this through contemplation and thinking? or simply awareness which brings these answers to you?

Sorry I'm slightly confused haha
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Re: My practice, and some questions

Postby Awarewolf » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:48 pm

IanAnd, thanks for the reply. I'll try to go a bit harder on myself (not literally I've done enough of that) as far as formal sitting goes, it's just tough because I live with 4 other buddies in a university house of drinkers :P this peaceful lifestyle isn't easy to mesh into life here, but I'm slowly adjusting.

and okay, I guess I can't say Samatha is all that bad at this point, considering I haven't reached the point to see whether it really is or not for myself.
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Re: My practice, and some questions

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:25 pm

Awarewolf wrote:LY, what is piti? Just from your explanation I am guessing it is the start of the second triad? Are these triads really worth following? I feel since I ever started reading about anapanasati and other methods from the buddha, I've always felt it was more about just the act of feeling that breath like you mentioned and that will eventually get you where you want to be...is it these contemplations he recommends that helps develop the further insight when the time is right?

The 16 steps are "worth following" in that if they work for you, they are a great method for calming the mind and producing insight. But if you don't like it, there are other methods!

Piti is translated as rapture, joy, or pleasure. It's a sensation, sometimes a tingling, sometimes a warmth, sometimes an almost electric zapping sensation, that arises when concentration is very strong. Don't worry about it though; you'll know it when it comes up.

The reason the Buddha set down the tetrads like he did is because they help progressively calm the mind to the point where insight can be incredibly potent. The first tetrad calms the breath and the body. After a point, when the breath is so calm that it cannot be accurately followed, other sensations will arise, but they too need to be calmed. Once both the body and the feelings that come from concentration are subdued, the mind can be explored. Finally, this leads the the last tetrad, which is the most "insight"-focused one; the contemplation of all things and impermanent, not-self, and unsatisfying.

Also, when you say "before that happens keep it on the breath" does that mean in the first 4 steps while I'm beginning to note long, short, bodily stuff, etc., I'm not contemplating at all? Still just working directly with being aware of the feelings?
That serious beginners manual of anapanasati I mentioned to you says in the first step you become aware of the long breath, you get to know the feeling associated with it, blah blah blah there's a lot to recognize, but is this through contemplation and thinking? or simply awareness which brings these answers to you?

It's not about thinking at all - thinking is the enemy of Vipassana! Just know it on an experiential level. You don't have to worry about intellectually understanding or categorizing it; just try and know as much about the breath directly through sustained attention. Even at the final steps, which take a long time to really get to, the contemplation of things as impermanent or not-self is not thinking, it's knowing directly.

As always, PM if you'd like. I hope I can help explain. Keep asking here too as there are many great practitioners of anapanasati here who are much more advanced than I.

Sorry I'm slightly confused haha[/quote]
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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