Share meditation tips here

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

Share meditation tips here

Postby alan » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:18 pm

How have you integrated sitting into your life, and overcome difficulties? Any advice for becoming more motivated? This is the place to share.

I'm operating on the basis that motivation is key. Please no comments about just sitting without a goal--That's like an unhealthy person who goes to the gym and just observes. Bare attention of the weights won't help. You need to lift them!
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:27 pm

The great step for me to start siting regularly to meditate was to do walking meditation (I'm serious!). During the time you're wasting, like walking to work, or to the store, or in the supermarket, or washing dishes, or whatever task you're doing that you think is consuming your time, use it to practice mindfulness. That was sufficient to eliminate a good deal of lazyness from my mind and motivate me to do sitting meditation. It's a win-win on many levels.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby duckfiasco » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:41 pm

A big factor in practice for me has been reluctance to practice :tongue: For this, several things have been helpful:

* sitting even when you don't want to. It helps to look at the mind as a patient mother soothing her child.
There's really no issue you can't handle, just have to stay calm and do what needs to be done for your child.
The tantrum won't last very long when you actually sit down and hold your reluctance with care. :hug:
You can have a sense of humor about it, "may this pitiful reluctant effort be of benefit to some being somewhere." You learn a lot about the mind and volition from not giving in to every little whim of desire like we normally do all day.
Over time, persisting during times like this, you start to feel meditation is worth it and start to look forward to it, whatever challenges there may be.

* "small mindfulness" whenever you remember, even if you're sitting on the toilet. One thought, one movement, one breath. These little moments truly build up momentum throughout your day. Modus Ponens' experience reflects my own :)

* doing prostrations before each session. Remembering the benefit even one drop of the teachings have had in my life already. It quickly dispels any "do it later" feeling. Taking refuge for me includes trusting the Three Jewels with my reluctance, my doubts. Hand them over to the Jewels. Trust the path to get you through it.

* gratitude for the sangha of people here and teachers and authors also helps. These people are doing the hard work and have helped us more than we can know. We can show our gratitude with 20 or 40 minutes of our time, to really try what they recommend :)

* remembrance of death throughout the day. "This may be my last chance to meditate. How will I spend it?" Really feel old age in your bones, the corpse sitting on the cushion. We still have this opportunity left, but time's a-wastin'.

* seeing it all as a great experiment. When having trouble, it helps to inject some playfulness. For example, instead of frustration, I try to think, "well I haven't managed to stay focused on the breath for very long today... what might I see if I do?" or "What IS it that the mind keeps doing anyway? Let's watch close and see what it's up to."

And nothing beats a sense of humor with yourself and your situation as your defilements inevitably bubble up.
It's like living in a house your whole life, then deciding to try to clean up a bit. You never know what you'll find, and some rooms will be very dusty.
"I don't remember buying those gaudy curtains! Wow!"
"I don't know what this pile of black stuff is but I better deal with it."

Believe me, the Buddha and countless teachers know exactly what it's like to be beset with monkey mind, unexpected sexual fantasies, ill will... That's why they can teach about it :)
There's nothing so bad or so "far gone" that nothing can be done.
"Abandon what is unskillful, monks. It is possible to abandon what is unskillful. If it were not possible to abandon what is unskillful, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because it is possible to abandon what is unskillful, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' If this abandoning of what is unskillful were conducive to harm and pain, I would not say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.' But because this abandoning of what is unskillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, 'Abandon what is unskillful.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... index.html

Also, reading authors or teachers that inspire you is helpful and can instill a sense of determination in your path.
I recently discovered Achaan Chah and his teachings.
He's excellent at giving you a kick in the arse to practice, riling you up to really get down to business.

Finally, this forum (and Dharma Wheel when I was over there) have been so valuable :group:
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby BlackBird » Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:20 am

- Being around and talking with fellow yogis. Good friendship in other words. This has helped me.
- Another big thing for me has just been focusing on mindfulness in my daily life.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Kenshou » Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:52 am

If I had to name one thing, it would be maranasati. Which has been said, but still. Just that recollection can be the antidote to every hindrance, and a great motivator.

You will die, maybe soon, do you have any time to waste?
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Aloof » Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:13 am

There are many bhoddisattvas in the air.
Once a deep desire to sit and meditate arises in you, these
bhoddisattvas enter your mind and guide you to meditate
according to the method suitable to you.


This is from my personal experience.
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:30 am

alan wrote:Bare attention of the weights won't help. You need to lift them!
I have no idea of what "bare attention of the weights" might be, but bare attention as a bhāvanā practice -- a practice that is indicative of a carefully cultivated awareness and concentration -- is a very dynamic and efficacious bhāvanā practice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:33 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:The great step for me to start siting regularly to meditate was to do walking meditation (I'm serious!). During the time you're wasting, like walking to work, or to the store, or in the supermarket, or washing dishes, or whatever task you're doing that you think is consuming your time, use it to practice mindfulness. That was sufficient to eliminate a good deal of lazyness from my mind and motivate me to do sitting meditation. It's a win-win on many levels.
One of the things that was repeatedly emphasized by my vipassana teachers was constancy, which is your point here.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Ben » Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:50 am

tiltbillings wrote:One of the things that was repeatedly emphasized by my vipassana teachers was constancy, which is your point here.

And in the words of my teacher: "continuity is the secret of success", which was borrowed from Sayagi U Ba Khin.
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby SarathW » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:07 am

And in the words of one of my teachers:
It is something like light a fire by rubbing two sticks.
You have not time to rest till you get the fire.
If you stop half way, you have to start it all over again.
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:39 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Modus.Ponens wrote:The great step for me to start siting regularly to meditate was to do walking meditation (I'm serious!). During the time you're wasting, like walking to work, or to the store, or in the supermarket, or washing dishes, or whatever task you're doing that you think is consuming your time, use it to practice mindfulness. That was sufficient to eliminate a good deal of lazyness from my mind and motivate me to do sitting meditation. It's a win-win on many levels.
One of the things that was repeatedly emphasized by my vipassana teachers was constancy, which is your point here.


Well, constancy is probably even more important than my point, in terms of the final goal. I was aiming lower. My point is to use the time that we "waste" on otherwise neutral or unpleasant tasks, such as the examples I gave, to practice mindfulness. The advantage is that you're not taking time away from your day to specificaly do meditation. That makes all the difference, psychologicaly, at least for me. It's more a beginer's tip than constancy is. It has the advantage of being easily applicable to beginers, and the disadvantage of not being as powerful as constancy to attain nibbana. This raises an interesting question, for which I'll create a new topic.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Coyote » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:49 am

For me, it has been setting up an amount of time and keeping to it, not getting up or checking time half way through. Just ploughing through seems to diminish the problem of restlessness which for me was very bad, although it is not a long-term solution.

Finding a good object is another thing that has helped, as has becoming familiar with a variety of objects so that I can switch when I see the need.

Interacting more with the object (breath) can make things go a lot smoother, especially when it comes to hindrances. I recommend Ven. Thanissaro's advice when it comes to this.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby alan » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:26 pm

Going to the gym and watching the weights--even with mindfulness--will not make you stronger. You have to pick up the damn things yourself. For me, "Bare attention" was a waste of time. I'm taking a more active approach now.
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Kamran » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:48 am

I find it helpful to have a sort of personal anthology of excerps from talks, and suttas that I can reflect on when difficulties arise. Verbal fabrication, learning how to talk to yourself to keep yourself motivated, and deal with defilements is also an important part of the practice in my opinion.
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Digity » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:31 am

Accept that there will be ups & downs...the mind is too complex for progress to be linear, but make sure that you're ultimately progressing in a positive direction.
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Coyote » Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:10 am

One perception that has helped me in meditation practice, but also generally when applying Buddhist teaching, is that our seemingly immutable tenancies will and do pass if we wait patiently. They are not something that is mine or myself, and they come and go of their own accord. Seeing this for myself, and understanding that it is not inevitable to get caught up in them has been a valuable insight. "It will pass" can be a useful mantra/noting tool.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby binocular » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:45 pm

alan wrote:How have you integrated sitting into your life, and overcome difficulties? Any advice for becoming more motivated? This is the place to share.
I'm operating on the basis that motivation is key. Please no comments about just sitting without a goal--That's like an unhealthy person who goes to the gym and just observes. Bare attention of the weights won't help. You need to lift them!

I used to sit a lot. Then the competitive spirit took over (ie. I ended up sitting longer and longer, exerting myself more and more) - and then things just broke down, and I became completely unable to sit at all. It's hard to describe. "Meditation burnout" may be a good term.

It has taken me several years to even just begin to get comfortable with the idea of small steps and graduality. Apparently, in my first bout of meditation, I skipped over that, and doing so backfired terribly.
So now, I am basically learning to walk. Although, it's more like learning to crawl at this point.
Listening to some Dhamma talks, reading a bit, journaling, constructive problem solving, introducing new habits/contents into my life. I've actually looked up some books on parenting, and I am now trying to parent myself. Learning different didactic styles - when to be firm, when to be nice, when to reward, when to distract, and so on, without being attached to a particular didactic style. Checking my basic assumptions about things such as planning, schedules, motivation, trying to understand fears and aversions related to them.
Trying to just do things - just wash the dishes, just work in the garden, and each times trying to push myself a bit, making an effort to work with more precision and faster (yes, the idea of the able archer who can shoot arrows with precision and in rapid succession can be applied to ironing shirts or pulling weeds). A little focus on the breath here and there, until it becomes too uncofmortable to do so. Becoming comfortable with having a private matter. Becoming comfortable with holding my ground in regard to other people.
Coming to the point of being comfortable with not calling myself a Buddhist nor being eager to be considered one has helped a lot.


Coyote wrote:One perception that has helped me in meditation practice, but also generally when applying Buddhist teaching, is that our seemingly immutable tenancies will and do pass if we wait patiently. They are not something that is mine or myself, and they come and go of their own accord. Seeing this for myself, and understanding that it is not inevitable to get caught up in them has been a valuable insight. "It will pass" can be a useful mantra/noting tool.

Except that sometimes, some things take just too long to pass on their own. So one has to take a more proactive approach.
If your own problems are of the kind that they go away on their own within a foreseeable time if you just let them - more power to you, I guess.
Mine are not.
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby Coyote » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:01 pm

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Binocular. I myself have experienced that it is necessary to learn to walk (or crawl) before running, so as to avoid backfiring.

binocular wrote:Except that sometimes, some things take just too long to pass on their own. So one has to take a more proactive approach.
If your own problems are of the kind that they go away on their own within a foreseeable time if you just let them - more power to you, I guess.
Mine are not.


Of course. I was talking about those tenancies that come up in meditation then go away fairly quickly - towards ill-will, lust, sense-desire, boredom ect. Just seeing for yourself their transitory nature can be quite inspiring.
With those issues that may be with us for our entire life metta to yourself and acceptance is the advice I have read from those teachers who I greatly respect. Laying the foundation for or actually implementing a more proactive approach is of course an important part of the path. But burnout and frustration can follow if we have not accepted the fact that we may be stuck for many years or even lifetimes with certain tenancies. IMO.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:45 pm

alan wrote:Going to the gym and watching the weights--even with mindfulness--will not make you stronger. You have to pick up the damn things yourself. For me, "Bare attention" was a waste of time. I'm taking a more active approach now.
Given your "watching the weights" comment it is obvious you do not understand what bare attention is as a practice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Share meditation tips here

Postby alan » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:25 pm

Passive observance was not thought in the suttas, and has not worked for me. Pretty sure I understand it--it's been tried and rejected.
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