Comprehensive List of Practices and Meditation Styles

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

Comprehensive List of Practices and Meditation Styles

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:19 pm

A friend and I are seeking to compile a comprehensive list of Buddhist meditation styles across traditions. Consulting books, online resources, teachers, and personal practice, we have already encountered quite a few different techniques and approaches. Although we've created partial lists from our background research and our own meditation experience, we would like to hear what fellow practitioners can contribute. In addition to meditation styles, we're interested in other activities people consider part of their formal practice, including but not limited to activities practiced on retreat. We also intend to run a survey/poll about the most widely used forms of meditation in the near future.

So this inquiry consists of two main questions:

1. What are the various forms of meditation that are practiced in Buddhism - whether specific to a certain school or universal to all schools?

2. What other activities (apart from meditation) are typical of your practice and/or retreat settings?

Many thanks.

:anjali:
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:36 pm

There's a fairly comprehensive list of Medtation Objections here, but as for techniques or styles of practice, that depends on the particular tradition.

For example:
  • The Mahāsi method emphasises analysis of the body into its four elements and clear comprehension of all daily activities.
  • The U Ba Khin/Goenka method emphasises mindfulness of respiration and contemplation of feelings
  • The Mogok method emphasises mindfulness of the mental process, and the understanding of dependent origination

You will find some useful information in "Living Buddhist Masters" by Jack Kornfield.
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby reflection » Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:17 pm

Hi,

If you are going to compose a list of meditation styles, I think you have to be aware of the danger not to take meditation out of context. With that I mean, out of context of the entire eightfold path. Meditation is modern word - bhavana is the word I think the Buddha would have used, which can be all sorts of things also outside of what we would consider as meditation nowadays.

And in that context, you'll also likely to leave out or misrepresent the teachers that teach meditation not as a particular (set of) techniques, but as a natural progression of the path, not really fitting to techniques. A common instruction with many teachers is "letting go". But is 'letting go' a technique or style? It's more a result of practice itself.

Just as something to take in mind.

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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:16 pm

Thanks for the replies so far.

At the moment, the list of Theravada practices looks like this:

Samatha - cultivation of tranquility (focused attention)
    Kammaṭṭhāna (40) - meditation objects
      Kasina (10) - colored discs
        Pathavi kasina - earth
        Āpo kasina - water
        Tejo kasina - fire
        Vayo kasina - air
        Nīla kasina - blue
        Pīta kasina - yellow
        Lohita kasina - red
        Odāta kasina - white
        Āloka kasina - bright light
        Paricchinnākāsa kasina - enclosed space
      Asubha (10) - contemplation of foulness
        Uddhumātakam - bloated corpse
        Vinīlakam - black and blue discolored corpse
        Vipubbakam - festering corpse
        Vicchiddakam - corpse cut in the middle
        Vikkhāyitakam - gnawed corpse
        Vikkhittakam - scattered corpse
        Hatavikkhittakam - hacked and scattered corpse
        Lohitakam - bleeding corpse
        Puluvakam - worm-infested corpse
        Atthikam - skeleton
      Anussati (10) - recollections
        Buddhānussati - recollection of the Buddha
        Dhammānussati - recollection of the Dhamma
        Sanghānussati - recollection of the Sangha
        Sīlānussati - recollection of virtue
        Cāgānussati - recollection of generosity
        Devatānussati - recollection of the devas
        Upasamānussati - reflection on nibbāna
        Maranānussati - contemplation of death
        Kāyagatāsati - contemplation of the body
        Ānāpānasati - mindfulness of breathing
      Brahmavihāras (4)
        Mettā - loving kindness
        Karunā - compassion
        Muditā - sympathetic joy
        Upekkhā - equanimity
      Arūpa-jhāna (4)
        Ākāsānañcāyatana - infinity of space
        Viññānañcāyatana - infinity of consciousness
        Ākiñcaññāyatana - nothingness
        Nevasaññānāsaññāyatana - neither perception nor non perception
      Āhāre-paṭikūla-saññā (1) - reflection on loathesomeness of food
      Catu-dhātu-vavatthāna (1) - analysis of the four elements
    Vipassanā - insight meditation (open monitoring)
      Satipaṭṭhāna - four foundations of mindfulness
        Kāyagatāsati - mindfulness of body
        Vedanāsati - mindfulness of feelings
        Cittasati - mindfulness of mental activity
        Dhammāsati - mindfulness of Dhammā subjects

I acknowledge that there is room for overlap and different emphases depending on the teacher and tradition, but does this list cover everything practiced in Theravada?

If anyone has any corrections or additions, your feedback is much appreciated.
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:17 pm

Buddhist practices more broadly (such as chanting, recitation, and other services) are also of interest.
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby daverupa » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:19 pm

I see arupa jhana, but do not see rupa jhana, which is interesting.

Also, while it's in line with your stated project to use Theravadan categories in this way, I wonder whether this isn't a good time to emphasize that satipatthana isn't really one sort of vipassana style; it actually cultivates both qualities - samatha and vipassana - and any other method, done well, is ultimately a version of satipatthana, in my experience.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:55 pm

Perhaps it would be more helpful to list practices/emphases under schools/traditions instead. Here's a rough outline (again, this is completely open to revision). Forgive me for enjoying list-making so much. :)

Śrāvakayāna
    Theravāda
      Sri Lankan
        Mahāvihāra
      Thai Forest Tradition
      Burmese
        Mahāsi Method
        U Ba Khin/Goenka Method
        Mogok Method

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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:00 pm

My first question would be "where does ānāpānasati go?"
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:07 pm

daverupa wrote:I see arupa jhana, but do not see rupa jhana, which is interesting.


The list of 40 kammatthana or meditation objects is derived from Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga, which enumerates the arupa jhanas but not the rupa jhanas. Personally, I would not include either the rupa or arupa jhanas as "forms" of meditation, but as "results" or "attainments." Yet I can see where if one was included (arupa jhanas), it would make sense to include the other (rupa jhanas).

daverupa wrote:Also, while it's in line with your stated project to use Theravadan categories in this way, I wonder whether this isn't a good time to emphasize that satipatthana isn't really one sort of vipassana style; it actually cultivates both qualities - samatha and vipassana - and any other method, done well, is ultimately a version of satipatthana, in my experience.


Likewise, I would not classify anapanasati as exclusively samatha, but as either vipassana or samatha (and often both) depending on the context. My personal practice is based largely on yuganaddha, the cultivation of both qualities in tandem. The list, however, is intended to be as comprehensive as possible. One may notice that kayagatasati is included twice, under both samatha and vipassana. The same adjustment can be made for satipatthana and anapanasati as the list is updated.

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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:11 pm

dharmagoat wrote:My first question would be "where does ānāpānasati go?"


In and out the nostrils. :)

Anapanasati is a method I treat as both vipassana and samatha, but others may practice it differently. Does anyone have input about the classification of anapanasati from personal practice?
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:50 pm

I was taught "blank mind" meditation, to tame and slow down the thoughts, the object was to stop thinking entirely and just perceive or listen. To start with this was much easier if one concentrated on the breathing, as a distraction from thinking, to give the mind some chance to slow down and or stop thinking, breathing in Put, breathing out Toe, I think. After you reach state of mental silence by concentrating on breath, you start to the next stage, let go of the breath and just stop thinking, after you can master going with out thinking for long periods, you move on to object meditation, using your now able to be silent mind to concentrate on an object, like compassion, love, etc etc

I would be very interested if someone knows if this is a Thervada practice, as I honestly don't remember where I learnt it. And have studied in several traditions.
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:21 am

If you are not already familiar with it, the 40 classical meditation objects are listed in Vism.
There is a section in A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma (Bh. Bodhi ed) that also enumerates meditation objects.

You may also wish to make contact with Stephen K (a member here) who produced a diagram of different meditation teachers/styles a few years ago. In fact, if you do a search here you might be able to find it.
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:40 am

Hello, MP.

In this PDF you can find a lot of (superficial) information on different aproaches to the practice of samatha and vipassana, even in each category you mentioned in your first list. I think both lists are very important.

http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/ ... enters.pdf

Be well :)
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:45 pm

Majjhima Patipada wrote:Anapanasati is a method I treat as both vipassana and samatha, but others may practice it differently. Does anyone have input about the classification of anapanasati from personal practice?


The many & sundry satipatthana modalities discussed here can probably all assist with the development of the awakening factors to some degree or other, but there aren't too many clear indications of the specific value of these disparate methods in the Nikayas. On the other hand, anapanasati is clearly stated to bring satipatthana to culmination, which in turn burgeons the awakening factors. Samatha-vipassana are developed in tandem, or as per rungs of a ladder perhaps, throughout any satipatthana.

I experience satipatthana as a mode of being-in-the-world with anapanasati having been specifically developed & delineated to facilitate jhana from that foundation. I'm not sure samatha-vipassana as practice modality groupings are quite accurate, in fact. The subjective sense that one or another is developing more than another isn't to be sought after; if an imbalance is noticed, it is to be redressed - not chosen.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:56 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:Hello, MP.

In this PDF you can find a lot of (superficial) information on different aproaches to the practice of samatha and vipassana, even in each category you mentioned in your first list. I think both lists are very important.

http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/ ... enters.pdf

Be well :)


Hello, MP.

Thank you for the link to the pdf. The daily schedules are especially informative.

:anjali:
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:30 pm

To help clarify, let me rephrase the original question.

What would you call the practice (or set of practices) you do when you set aside time to practice?

For example, I practice zazen, shikantaza, kinhin, satipatthana-vipassana, anapanasati, and metta bhavana.
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Re: Comprehensive List of Meditation Styles

Postby daverupa » Sat Aug 03, 2013 4:06 pm

Majjhima Patipada wrote:What would you call the practice (or set of practices) you do when you set aside time to practice?


If I've set time aside, it's anapanasati. If I haven't set time aside, I am striving to abide with satipatthana established with the result that there is mindfulness and distraction in turn, with increasing stretches of time spent well-established. I recall the metaphor of a drop of water falling onto a hot plate (SN 35.244) for the sudden re-establishment of mindfulness in this connection.

Metta et al is part of the experience of others; it's not a separate practice according to how I frame it, but rather gets brought along with satipatthana when other beings appear to the senses, according to the "protecting others protects oneself & vice versa" of SN 47.19.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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