progress in meditation?

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

progress in meditation?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:57 am

Hi all,

Im new to this forum so advanced apologies on any mistakes.

I have been meditating now for 1 year (usually one sitting practice per night (20-30 min), although I did try some walking meditation for a period of time.)
I know I probably shouldn't be too concerned about this, as it can cause hindrances in practice. But lately it has been on my mind.

Question: Throughout my time practicing I have never had any visual stimulations, i.e. nimittas or any of the kind. Is this "normal"? I would be curious to know if others have experienced/not experienced and how long you have been practicing, i.e.. when was your first nimitta?

And if anyone has any feedback or questions about my practice (Do I need to practice more frequently/longer?) let me know.
Also, do you need to have these visual stimulations as sure signs of progress? It bothers me as I can't 'see' any progress.

With Metta,
Sam.
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby Crazy cloud » Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:16 am

greeneggsandsam wrote:Hi all,

Im new to this forum so advanced apologies on any mistakes.
With Metta,
Sam.


Hi, nice to see you :hello:

I have been meditating now for 1 year (usually one sitting practice per night (20-30 min), although I did try some walking meditation for a period of time.)


I have had maybe 10 or 15 sit downs last couple of years, lasting for app 2 hours. But I try to practice "judgement free awareness" troughout days and nights, and being kindful or mindful to what ever arises in the mind.



Question: Throughout my time practicing I have never had any visual stimulations, i.e. nimittas or any of the kind. Is this "normal"? I would be curious to know if others have experienced/not experienced and how long you have been practicing, i.e.. when was your first nimitta?


First time was after 2 sit downs, and after about 30 minutes stillness. Sorry to say that I dont know whats "normal" ..

Also, do you need to have these visual stimulations as sure signs of progress? It bothers me as I can't 'see' any progress.


No, because for me, it seems there are more to this path, than just these mental objects. My ajhan calls them "small toys", and advice me not to make them an significant part of the whole practice (for now ..). And I do have other signs of progress, which is far more interesting and keeps me fully occupied, by the before mentioned training of "judgement free awareness".

I guess that maybe a little farther down the path, they might become more interesting and valuable to me ..


May you be well, dhamma friend :smile:
your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh green distances of your blindness
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:34 am

Welcome greeneggsandsam! :hello:

Can you tell us what approach you are using? Visual nimittas are more common if you follow a highly concentrated practice, such as described in some places in the ancient commentaries, or by some modern teachers, such as Ajahn Brahm in his book Happiness Through Meditation, available here: http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/books.html, and sold in some places as Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond.

The first five chapters are available freely: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books11/Ajah ... ers1-5.pdf

Other, less concentrated, approaches are less likely to give rise to visual nimittas.

In any case, the point of Buddhist meditation isn't to have particular experiences. The point is to calm your mind to the extent necessary to understand it better. I don't think it's useful to worry about whether you have a particular experience.

If you can find a good teacher nearby, you would benefit greatly by getting some personal instruction. Otherwise, I would advise picking the approach of a particular teacher that you find inspiring and following his or her approach from books, talks, etc, for a few months, and see what develops.

:anjali:
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:03 am

Thanks for all the input so far :)

I have not been following any strict meditation routine. Basically I started with breath meditation for the first few months, then after reading about vipassana I tried that for a little while ( contemplating hair, skin, teeth..impermanence.. suffering), but I didn't seem to find that very fruitful (I think this is because you should have a solid foundation in samadhi before vipassana). So, I have been back to breath meditation for the last couple of months. When I say progress I mostly mean visually. The last couple of months I have really felt that my practice has become more substantial (for lack of a better word), I now really try and incorporate mindfulness into my daily routine, instead of just focusing on having one meditation every night ( I found I had been quite heedless in my practice for the first 6 months, although I only came to realise this after that time had passed.)

In terms of teachers, I used to listen to a lot of Ajahn Brahm's youtube clips and found them very good. However, as of late I have discovered the teachings of Ajahn Chah translated into english and I am beyond words for how influential they have been to my practice, I now know why they say he was such a great teacher!!!

Back to nimittas, that is really what gets me, I have been meditating for a little over a year and have not had one and Crazy Cloud gets one on his second sit down, this seems like I must be doing something wrong? I know all this sounds like defilements to the wazoo and I am aware of this, its not that I want to obtain nimittas, it is more that nimittas seem to be clear progress for samadhi practice.?

Sometimes I thought I had a nimitta but it was just my eyes opening up a fraction and letting light in :)

On a side note @Mike - I don't really worry about this in my meditation practice, as I have no desire to see a circle of light. I only ask the question in reference to progress in samadhi practice.

With Metta,
Sam :)
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:41 am

greeneggsandsam wrote:Back to nimittas, that is really what gets me, I have been meditating for a little over a year and have not had one and Crazy Cloud gets one on his second sit down, this seems like I must be doing something wrong? I know all this sounds like defilements to the wazoo and I am aware of this, its not that I want to obtain nimittas, it is more that nimittas seem to be clear progress for samadhi practice.?

Not necessarily. As far as I can tell, there are various signs of samadhi, some visual, some tactile. It depends on the individual and on the approach. The way I generally practise (Mahasi-style approach, not striving for deep concentration, but with more of an emphasis on observation of phenomena) for me doesn't give rise to visual nimittas in everyday practise. An approach like Ajahn Brahm's is more likely to.

It sounds like you have a good practice. Don't worry too much, just keep doing it. You say you've been back on the breath meditation for a couple of months. That's really not a long time. Be patient. In my experience, it's often at the point where one stops trying for "something" that one "falls" into samadhi. As Ajahn Brahm says in the link I gave above:
So stop giving orders, let go, and enjoy the ride. Let the breath do the
breathing and simply watch.
...
One finds that progress happens effortlessly at this stage of meditation.
We just have to get out of the way, let go, and watch it all happen.
The mind will automatically incline, if we only let it, toward this very
simple, peaceful, and delicious unity of being alone with one thing, just
being with the breath in each and every moment. This is the unity of
mind, the unity in the moment, the unity in stillness.
...

It's a tricky balance. Obviously a meditation practice has goals --- but pursuing them too forcefully tends to hinder the letting go that is required to reach it...

Since you like Ajahn Chah, perhaps be reassured by his statement here:
At this point, some people might have doubts arising, because it is here that nimitta can arise. These can be of many kinds, including both forms and sounds. It is here that all sorts of unexpected things can arise in the course of the practice. If nimitta do arise (some people have them, some don't) you must understand them in accordance with the truth. Don't doubt or allow yourself to become alarmed.
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Evening_Sitting.php

:anjali:
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby Crazy cloud » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:42 am

Hi again, :)

Maybe the reason or some of it, to getting nimitta that easy, is that I remind myself why I sit down (peace and stillness leads to freedom), and keep it as simple as possible. I dont care about nimittas and jhanas, I just "want" my freedom, because I know that when stilness and peace comes together, they become pure joy in my mind, and the joy kicks in just a minute or so into meditation. And then I just hang on to the joy, and down we go into deeper states. there is nothing better than this peacefullness, and when I reach "beautiful breath", the stage is clear for whatever, but I still dont care about anything else then the hightened sense of freedom that springs out of sensing all of this stillness and joy.

Last time I had a nimitta, it came out of nowhere (as usual ;)). I was at the temple, and because it was overcrowded, I went for a sit down in my car in the parking lot. sat there for nearly an hour, and it wasn't perfectly still, and I had no expectations for anything. It was mildly peace and joyful, but about 30 min into that session, a black nimitta started to emerge.

Should mention that I to have the same "cyber Ajhans" as you, and I follow their instructions as good as I can, but I have added a few personal adjustments to their metodes. And before I even sat down the first time, I had been contemplating and "groomed" my mind to this unusual "job" of sitting and doing nothing at all (6 months) .. I've always been told that it's sinful and wrong to just sit and "doing nothing", and that kind of early programming, done by my parents/grand parents, and the culture I'm born into, felt like a real obstacle for giving myself the permission top sit down and just feel good ..

Best regards :)
your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh green distances of your blindness
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:17 am

Ok, looks like I shouldn't worry about it.
And thanks Crazy Cloud for the input and mike for that Ajahn Chah statement + links, really cleared things up.
Looks like I should just sit down and shut up :)

With metta,
Sam.
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby Mkoll » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:38 pm

You could add a morning practice for the same amount of time. You could also work your time upwards a minute or so at a time or just make a big jump to longer meditations.

Have you noticed that your mind is overall more calm than it was before you started meditating? If so, progress is being made.

:anjali:
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:38 am

Yes, I feel like my mind has become more calm and the time it takes for my mind to calm during practice has shortened, I have really noticed this in the last few months. I think I will try and incorporate a morning practice, have you found this has made your practice more fruitful?
I also wanted to ask sometimes it does feel like I get a weird surge of energy flow through my body sometimes and it makes my body shake and my head feels like it tenses up (usually only last for about 30 seconds). Has anyone experienced this? Im not sure if it is because I try and focus to much?
Do you think you should try and change up meditation techniques and times? or just keep it consistent?
Sometimes I try and go for a longer practice but sometimes it is had because I get pain in my knees...

With metta,
Sam.
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby kmath » Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:45 am

greeneggsandsam wrote:I also wanted to ask sometimes it does feel like I get a weird surge of energy flow through my body sometimes and it makes my body shake and my head feels like it tenses up (usually only last for about 30 seconds).


What does the surge feel like? Can you give some more details?
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:42 am

greeneggsandsam wrote:I think I will try and incorporate a morning practice, have you found this has made your practice more fruitful?


Most definitely. In general, with meditation it is "the more the better" as long as you're not neglecting social duties or damaging your body.

:anjali:
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:22 am

What does the surge feel like? Can you give some more details?


it is a little hard to describe, but basically it feels as if my body is really alert and tenses up, all I can say is I think it comes from trying to focus to much, I would not say it feels like anything blissful - hope that helps.

I usually sit in burmese position, does anyone get a sore foot from this, its as if I have a lot of weight resting on one foot?
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby Babadhari » Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:59 pm

hi sam

greeneggsandsam wrote:

I usually sit in burmese position, does anyone get a sore foot from this, its as if I have a lot of weight resting on one foot?


you could try spreding your weight out equally on both buttocks and alternating the positions of the legs with every sit

Do you think you should try and change up meditation techniques and times? or just keep it consistent?
Sometimes I try and go for a longer practice but sometimes it is had because I get pain in my knees...


i think it would be best to stick with the one technique . ive found regular sitting times and durations to be most effective in establishing a fixed routine. longer pain free sits should become more natural with practice. i usually do some yoga and stretches before my meditation to loosen the muscles and joints. most important is to relax

"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah


:namaste:
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Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby appicchato » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:39 pm

...keep it as simple as possible.


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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:36 pm

KISS
Keep it stupid simple!
:)
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:12 am

Thank you to all those who responded to my post. This forum is great!!!

:namaste:
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby khlawng » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:21 pm

SarathW wrote:KISS
Keep it stupid simple!
:)


did you mean keep it simple stupid!
cos keep it stupid simple! somehow has a different meaning.
right?
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby pegembara » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:22 am

2. "People who practice concentration fall into two groups: those who have signs (nimitta) via the eyes when their minds settle down, and those who have signs via the body. People in the first group are the ones who see visions of people, animals, whatever. Those in the second group don't have visions, but when their minds settle down, their bodies will feel unusually heavy or light, large or small, etc. When these people focus on the elements in their body, they'll notice them as feelings: warmth, coolness, heaviness, spaciousness, and so forth.
"If I'm teaching people like this how to meditate, I don't have to worry about them too much, because there aren't many dangers in their path — aside from the danger of their getting discouraged because they don't see anything happening in their meditation. The ones I worry about are those in the first group, because they have lots of dangers. Their visions can lead them to jump to all sorts of false conclusions. If they don't learn the right way to deal with their visions, they'll get stuck on them and never be able to reach any higher level than that."

Aj Fuang
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... tml#vision
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: progress in meditation?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:18 am

khlawng wrote:
SarathW wrote:KISS
Keep it stupid simple!
:)


did you mean keep it simple stupid!
cos keep it stupid simple! somehow has a different meaning.
right?


Ok let's say

KIS (keep it simple)
:)
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