Using other sounds to meditate

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

Using other sounds to meditate

Postby withoutcolour » Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:58 pm

My fiance and I attempted to meditate together in order to get me to practice more often, and he had an interesting question...
He asked, Do we focus only on our breath and bodies? Or can we focus on other things?
He said that the sound of the fan in our room was what he focused on, and it actually quieted his thoughts.
So I wasn't really sure how to answer him because I myself usually focus on my breath and my body, and it never occurred to me to focus on outside elements that would otherwise distract me.
What do you guys think? Fan-meditating?
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:19 pm

Hi WO
There are a host of things we can use as an object of our meditation, I think it is generally agreed that the breath is best for a beginner though.

Try reading the body section in the Mahasatipatthana sutta there are several versions around I have attached one which doesn't skip over the repeated parts, and try to read the Anapanasati sutta, which is all about the breath meditation.

the idea is to look inwardly first then expand outwards, so although there is nothing wrong with focusing on a fan as such he may find it better to start with the breath and work from there.

Hope this helps
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby withoutcolour » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:24 pm

Manapa,

Thank you so much for your prompt reply.
He has some pretty intense A.D.D., so I told him "whatever works for you." I'm going to try to ease him from the fan to his breath. He is a beginner but claims to use the sounds of the fan to clear his mind (which I didn't even know until today!) and I've been meditating for about 10 years.

I'm going to read that sutta and hopefully our practice improves :)

-wc
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:32 pm

Hi Withoutcolour

I have to agree with Manapa. The breath is an excellent object. Not only is it natural and readily available, the breath is both intimately connected with the body and the mind. Note how our breath changes with changes in our mental state. When we get angry, our breath becomes short, fast and sharp, when relaxed - slow and smooth, etc.
As your partner suffers from ADD, I recommend that he uses the samatha variant of anapana-sati which is to remain continuously mindful of the touch of the breath (around the nostrils and below the upper lip) for longer and longer periods. This will help to develop calm (samatha) and concentration (samadhi).
kind regards

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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby withoutcolour » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:37 pm

Thanks Ben.
I'll let him know, we will have to practice tomorrow or later this evening together with the fan off, heh.
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby Kare » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:22 am

A small, but interesting excercize:

Listen to the sound (whatever it is). Keep your eyes closed. The sound is "out there", you are "in here". Now, try to determine the exact borderline between the sound and yourself.
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:25 am

hey we have the same signature! mine is in thai though...

i have a vipassana kit http://www.amazon.com/Insight-Meditation-Step-Step-Meditate/dp/1564559068/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263863683&sr=8-1
and the first thing it has you focus on is sounds, any sound external, internal, just letting them be etc. so he's not doing anything too radical. also in the mahayana tradition kwan yin was enlightened though listening.
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby suanck » Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:38 am

When I meditate on the breath, occasionally I can also "hear" the sound of air flow through the cavities of the nose, inflow and outflow. If one focuses on that subtle noise, it could become the subject of meditation.

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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby Freawaru » Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:34 am

withoutcolour wrote:My fiance and I attempted to meditate together in order to get me to practice more often, and he had an interesting question...
He asked, Do we focus only on our breath and bodies? Or can we focus on other things?
He said that the sound of the fan in our room was what he focused on, and it actually quieted his thoughts.
So I wasn't really sure how to answer him because I myself usually focus on my breath and my body, and it never occurred to me to focus on outside elements that would otherwise distract me.
What do you guys think? Fan-meditating?


Hi,

in general one can use all the senses for meditation. Breath seems - because it is tactile - quite easy to most. But one can use vision, too, (for example the kasina meditation in the Visuddhimagga) or, of course, sounds, smells, thoughts, images, whatever. There is no such thing as an "outside" element, it is all internal, because we only are aware of an "outside" via the senses, and they are internal.

One more remark. Using the fan (a constant sound) as an object for meditation leads to relaxation and an increase of concentration (much like listening to the ocean or the wind in trees), to quieting the thoughts. But this relaxed state is close to a trance (state inbetween wake and dream) and some feel themselves drifting into it or ending up in a relaxed and pleasant but numb state. Nothing wrong with than in general, one emerges from it rather refreshed - but it is not the idea of meditation. When one's thoughts are quieted it is time to choose a different object, one more subtle. For example, using the sound of a fan, one can notice that the sound does not seem to appear with the same intensity all the time. The volume seems to vary. Focus on that.

Kare's recommendation is also very good, IMO:

Kare wrote:A small, but interesting excercize:

Listen to the sound (whatever it is). Keep your eyes closed. The sound is "out there", you are "in here". Now, try to determine the exact borderline between the sound and yourself.
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:11 am

If you are doing vipassana or insight meditation then sound should be part of your meditation just as much as the breath or anything else. However what you should be aware of is not so much the fan, nor the sound the fan is making, what you should be aware of is that hearing is happening, always observe what's happening at your sense doors don't give importance to what's happening out there.

However I notice you use the word "focus" a lot, focus isn't really an appropriate word for insight meditation. Perhaps you are trying to do a concentration technique then it doesn't really matter what you use to "focus" on as long as it becomes one pointed.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"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
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby appicchato » Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:12 pm

Goofaholix wrote:However I notice you use the word "focus" a lot, focus isn't really an appropriate word for insight meditation. Perhaps you are trying to do a concentration technique then it doesn't really matter what you use to "focus" on as long as it becomes one pointed.


An astute observation...if I were asked...
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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:56 pm

Greetings,

appicchato wrote:An astute observation...if I were asked...

I agree.

Withoutcolour, the following guided MP3 meditation (28,307 KB - 20ish mins) may be of use to him...

Mindfulness of sound and thought
http://www.buddhanet.net/mp3/huxter/hux ... hought.mp3

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Re: Using other sounds to meditate

Postby withoutcolour » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:24 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

appicchato wrote:An astute observation...if I were asked...

I agree.

Withoutcolour, the following guided MP3 meditation (28,307 KB - 20ish mins) may be of use to him...

Mindfulness of sound and thought
http://www.buddhanet.net/mp3/huxter/hux ... hought.mp3

Metta,
Retro. :)



Thanks Retro. As soon as he and I get a free moment together, I will sure to let him hear it. He works third shift full time, and I work second-shift full time and go to college in the mornings full-time (so my schedule is roughly 8am-10pm and his is 11pm-8am!).
Thanks everyone for giving me a hand with this -- I am so happy that he has taken an active interest in my practice... he proudly wears the Sakyamuni Buddha necklace I bought him in Thailand, and is starting to become familiar with the dhamma. :group:
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