Inner speech

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

Postby Dhammabodhi » Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:04 pm

Dear all,

In the course of my practice I've noticed that most of my thought processes become manifest with a "verbal" commentary in the mind. Of course this is not an earth-shattering revelation, everyone knows about this. I was reading Ajahn Brahm's book "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" and he says that one must be able to stop this inner commentary in order to (begin to) gain deeper levels of concentration, in fact he proposes that breath-awareness should only be taken up once this has been achieved (if I understood correctly). But how does one go about achieving this? I'm kinda feeling frustrated on not being able to stop this inner speech even for a few minutes. If I just let things be, it totally overwhelms me and I lose even the tiny bit of mindfulness that I have. :toilet:

If anyone could direct me towards learning skillful means of stopping this inner speech, I'd be very grateful. :bow:

Thanks in advance, :anjali:
Dhammabodhi
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.

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Cittasanto
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Re: Inner speech

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:53 pm

This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Dhammabodhi
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Re: Inner speech

Postby Dhammabodhi » Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:44 pm

Thank you Manapa, that Sutta is very interesting. But I was not focusing particularly on "evil unskillful" thoughts, but rather the mundane day-to-day thoughts manifesting in speech in my mind.

Metta,
Dhammabodhi
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.

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puthujjana
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Re: Inner speech

Postby puthujjana » Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:51 pm



with metta
:anjali:
"Once you understand anatta, then the burden of life is gone. You’ll be at peace with the world. When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness and we can truly be happy."
- Ajahn Chah

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IanAnd
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Re: Inner speech

Postby IanAnd » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:36 pm

Dhammabodhi wrote:In the course of my practice I've noticed that most of my thought processes become manifest with a "verbal" commentary in the mind. Of course this is not an earth-shattering revelation, everyone knows about this.

I was reading Ajahn Brahm's book "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" and he says that one must be able to stop this inner commentary in order to (begin to) gain deeper levels of concentration, in fact he proposes that breath-awareness should only be taken up once this has been achieved (if I understood correctly).

I've actually used breath meditation to calm and quiet discursive verbal thought. But this was after I discovered how to do so at will. So, I suppose that this may just be a peculiarity of Ajahn Brahm's own mental atmosphere.

But how does one go about achieving this? I'm kinda feeling frustrated on not being able to stop this inner speech even for a few minutes. If I just let things be, it totally overwhelms me and I lose even the tiny bit of mindfulness that I have.

There is probably more than one way to achieve this. The suggestions given in the Bhikkhu's YouTube talk make sense also. I think much depends upon one's own mental constitution and what the mind responds to. So, with that in mind, the method I used to first achieve this mental "silencing" of verbal thought was not a Buddhist method at all, but rather was suggested by Ramana Maharshi's method of "vichara," the direct path. I came across some information by Mouni Sadhu (one of Maharshi's students) on the Internet and thought that I'd give it a try. You can find the information here. Disregard the talk about "self" and just try to follow the other instruction, namely:

Mouni Sadhu wrote:The method according to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi is as follows:

To immerse oneself in meditation, making a clear impression on the outer mind that the real Self cannot be any transient thing such as the body, emotions or mind. When this fact is strongly established without any doubt in consciousness, then I try to fill every possible moment with the inquiry "WHO AM I?" When any other thought enters the mind one crushes it with the Vichara. The more determined the perseverance, the better the result. The restless mind begins to give up the struggle. As I substitute every approaching thought with the magic Vichara, the periods of absolute quietness become longer. At first it is only for a few seconds, but with constant practice there come minutes of unruffled peace. The most important thing is to catch and remember what was most helpful reaching that peace of mind. I cannot describe that process in my consciousness, because it is above and beyond the activity of the mind, and therefore, cannot be expressed in words, which belong to the mental realm.But each earnest student will have the same experience.

You can also just tell the mind to "STOP" whenever it begins to proliferation verbal thought, using "STOP" in the same way that Maharshi recommends using the "who am I" whenever verbalization begins. Eventually the mind will obey, and verbal thought will just disappear on its own. I don't mind telling you, I was greatly surprised the first time this happened to me. It can be quite an emotional event! The mind suddenly going silent...

Good luck. Just be persistent, and you should do well with either of these methods (Maharshi's or the Bhikkhu's, that is).

In Peace,

Ian
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Dhammabodhi
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Re: Inner speech

Postby Dhammabodhi » Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:36 pm

Thanks puthujjana and Ian! I've actually seen that video before ( I'm a great admirer of Ajahn Jayasaro, he is one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen) and I've tried his method. Sometimes it works, other times I fail miserably. The problem is the "rest-period" between the in and out-breaths, when this chatter creeps in and slowly but surely dilutes whatever mindfulness of breath I have ( which is usually quite bad). In the meantime my counting is not affected, but by the end of it I'm just left counting for counting's sake. :embarassed: Maybe I'm not earnest enough... :toilet:

Thanks Ian for telling me about this method of Vichara. It sounds interesting and I'll give it a go. Just another stupid question: when you ask "Who am I?" doesn't the mind go into verbal mode to find answers? I guess your advice to just give the simple command "STOP" might be much more effective. When I go outside I like to watch the trees and listen to the wind, and have some real "quiet time", but this money mind won't let me, it wants to chit-chat. :shrug:

Thank you again for your kind replies :anjali:
Metta,
Dhammabodhi
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.

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puthujjana
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Re: Inner speech

Postby puthujjana » Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:01 pm

Hej Dhammabodhi,
Dhammabodhi wrote:Thanks puthujjana and Ian! I've actually seen that video before ( I'm a great admirer of Ajahn Jayasaro, he is one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen) and I've tried his method. Sometimes it works, other times I fail miserably. The problem is the "rest-period" between the in and out-breaths, when this chatter creeps in and slowly but surely dilutes whatever mindfulness of breath I have ( which is usually quite bad). In the meantime my counting is not affected, but by the end of it I'm just left counting for counting's sake. :embarassed: Maybe I'm not earnest enough... :toilet:


Have you ever tried "mental noting" like it's taught in the Mahasi tradition? I find this really helpful in my own practice.

It's easy: Whenever your mind turns away from your primary object of meditation (in your case: the breath) and starts thinking just make a mental note to the thinking process ("thinking, thinking") and let go. After that you can watch the thinking process passing away (= watching impermanence) and then you can return to your primary object.
Do it in this way every time your mind starts wandering and after some time it will stay with the primary object.

Although Mahasi taught pure vipassana meditation, some samatha meditation teachers (for example Ayya Khema) teach/taught this technique too. Ayya Khema said - in samatha meditation - you could also label every thought or inner comment with "unimportant" and then return to the breath (that's similar to Ian's advice above).

If you are interested, I would suggest reading "Practical Insight Meditation": http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Practic ... tical.html
...or reading Ayya Khema's approach in her diverse books, for example in "Being nobody, going nowhere": http://books.google.de/books?id=26Kg538 ... q=&f=false

Another tip I want to give you is that it's much easier to stay with the breath if you enjoy your meditation.
Ayya Khema said: "if you can love sitting down to meditate, without any expectations, just doing it, then you have already got at least halfway to concentration."



I hope that this is somehow helpful for you.

with metta
:anjali:
"Once you understand anatta, then the burden of life is gone. You’ll be at peace with the world. When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness and we can truly be happy."
- Ajahn Chah

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Dhammabodhi
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Re: Inner speech

Postby Dhammabodhi » Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:58 am

Whenever your mind turns away from your primary object of meditation (in your case: the breath) and starts thinking just make a mental note to the thinking process ("thinking, thinking") and let go. After that you can watch the thinking process passing away (= watching impermanence) and then you can return to your primary object.
Do it in this way every time your mind starts wandering and after some time it will stay with the primary object.


Thank you for this wonderful method. I did not know about this before. I've already started practicing this since yesterday!.

:anjali:
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.


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