Need Some Advice

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

Need Some Advice

Postby Collective » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:39 am

We are told to focus on the breath, but I find this harder than focusing on awareness. When I focus on breath, I use my mind, to focus. But I find it easier and more relaxing to 'just be aware'. That's when I get a good meditational experience.

It isn't that I actively force thoughts out to experience this 'nothing/awareness', rather, I recognize I've been thinking, and then simply adjust to experiencing awareness. That's probably a much better way of putting it actually: I don't literally focus on nothing, I merely shift to experience the awareness. Reagrdless of if I'm amidst a noisy scenario or dead silent, I'm just aware. And I don't mean 'actively aware', like 'Bird song...tap/faucet runnin...dog barking...child laughing...car enging...'. I'm just sort of all aware yet nothing is focused.

So for me, breath focus seems a little more involved mentally than merely being aware of being aware. But the trouble is Budda said focus on the breath. Is this the only way? I do focus on the breath to start my meditation, but then once I feel I'm at that certain level, I let it go and just become aware.

Hope I made sense.

Am I doing this wrong?
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:50 am

Hi Collective
Collective wrote:But the trouble is Budda said focus on the breath. Is this the only way?


There are actually over 40 meditation objects described within the canon. I'm not sure what you are doing with the breath when you say its a bit more mentally involved. It certainly can be a difficult meditation subject to get established in and I can attest to that. However I think there are real benefits in sticking with it. Depending on which methodology you are using, you may seek advice from experienced meditators or teachers who are well versed in that particular method.
Here's a publication you might find useful: http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Anapa ... asati.html
kind regards

Ben
"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."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16127
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Collective » Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:41 pm

Thanks for the link.

When I say I find breath focus more involved, I mean it simply in contrast to not having to breath focus. And I find it difficult because I cannot for the life of me feel anything in my stomach area, and almost nothing in my nose/tip of nose/nostrils.

I meditate now mainly to relax, I find everything falls into place as a result. If anything else transpires, great, if not, great. I'm happy with the blissful feelings.

And it's great for lowering high blood pressure too :)
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Moggalana » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:13 pm

Hi Collective,

do you know Ajahn Brahm's instructions for anapanasati? His first two stages may be similiar to what your are doing. He teaches Sustained attention on the present moment and Silent awareness of the present moment as a preparation or preliminary practice for the actual mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati). Maybe this is helpful?
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
Moggalana
 
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:31 am
Location: Germany

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Collective » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:20 pm

Moggalana wrote:Hi Collective,

do you know Ajahn Brahm's instructions for anapanasati? His first two stages may be similiar to what your are doing. He teaches Sustained attention on the present moment and Silent awareness of the present moment as a preparation or preliminary practice for the actual mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati). Maybe this is helpful?

Interesting, I bookmarked the link.

Trouble is, I seem to be working backwards, nothing new there then!
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Moggalana » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:40 pm

Well, if you are drawn to this awareness of awareness or shamatha without object stuff, you will probably have to look outside of Theravadin meditation. Alan Wallace's book, The Attention Revolution, might be a good starting point as he teaches the traditional theravada method of anapanasati as well as two other techniques belonging to tibetan buddhism. However, this is probably not the correct subforum for delving more deeply into this matter.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
Moggalana
 
Posts: 331
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:31 am
Location: Germany

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:01 pm

Hi Moggalana
Moggalana wrote:Well, if you are drawn to this awareness of awareness or shamatha without object stuff, you will probably have to look outside of Theravadin meditation. Alan Wallace's book, The Attention Revolution, might be a good starting point as he teaches the traditional theravada method of anapanasati as well as two other techniques belonging to tibetan buddhism. However, this is probably not the correct subforum for delving more deeply into this matter.


I don't think it is necessarily out of the bounds of this subforum, as it is an interperatation of the same text, although the other two may require another thread for comparison purposes.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5751
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby salmon » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:13 am

Hi Collective,

Ananpanasati is only one of the meditation tools prescribed by the Buddha (as already mentioned by Ben). Perhaps you can read the teachings of some forest masters like Ajahn Dune Atulo. The do have teachings on how to focus on the mind (or awareness) instead of other objects like the breath or the stomach. Instead, they practice focusing the "mind on the mind".

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... _Atulo.htm

:smile:
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~
User avatar
salmon
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:55 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Collective » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:30 pm

salmon wrote:Hi Collective,

Ananpanasati is only one of the meditation tools prescribed by the Buddha (as already mentioned by Ben). Perhaps you can read the teachings of some forest masters like Ajahn Dune Atulo. The do have teachings on how to focus on the mind (or awareness) instead of other objects like the breath or the stomach. Instead, they practice focusing the "mind on the mind".

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... _Atulo.htm

:smile:

Now that is what I am talking about!

Thanks all :)
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Collective » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:15 pm

I've been thinking, maybe if I clarified exactly what I want out of meditation.

First and foremost, I simply want to relax my mind and body, and be free from stress and anxiety. I find this occurs when my mind is still. This for me comes about from 2 exercises. Observing in a detached way, the breath, and more so when observing in a detached way, the mind. Personally, I find when I watch the mind, observe it, I get no thoughts. And as a result, I feel relaxed. Whereas if I watch the breath, I get distracted by the mind. It's analogous to watching a naughty child so they behave themselves.

I am not my mind?

So all I want is that blissful relaxed feelling, and anything else, insight etc, is a bonus but not a primary goal. Relaxation however, is.

Please, any advice, is there a name for this type of meditation, wherein the mind not the breath is observed?

Thank you :)
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Jan 30, 2010 6:38 pm

Sayadaw U Tejaniya teaches this style of meditation, see http://sayadawutejaniya.org/ if you want more teaching on it.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1944
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:12 am

Collective wrote:I've been thinking, maybe if I clarified exactly what I want out of meditation.
First and foremost, I simply want to relax my mind and body, and be free from stress and anxiety.
So all I want is that blissful relaxed feelling, and anything else, insight etc, is a bonus but not a primary goal. Relaxation however, is.

Please, keep in mind we don't meditate to get something, we meditate to get rid of something.
To meditate just to get more pleasant feelings will not lead to insight and in fact will bring just more dukkha.
You should reconsider your intentions.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
User avatar
acinteyyo
 
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:48 am
Location: Neuburg/Donau, Germany

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby baratgab » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:14 am

acinteyyo wrote:Please, keep in mind we don't meditate to get something, we meditate to get rid of something.
To meditate just to get more pleasant feelings will not lead to insight and in fact will bring just more dukkha.
You should reconsider your intentions.


This is indeed a very good point and advice! :) But I would like to take the liberty to reassure the original poster that the meaning is not that meditation is not supposed to lead to relaxation and happiness. It is just that relaxation and happiness happens exactly when one gives up that wanting and striving for it. Maybe it is needless to point out, but discontentment is all about wanting that we don't have; it is just obvious that we don't want to introduce such a quality into our practice. Maybe this is the reason if objects other than the perception of breath yield more success: the difference in the underlying attitude towards the different objects. Stiffness can make a frustration out of anything and everything.

Somebody already mentioned Ajahn Brahm's anapanasati instructions. There is also a sutta study from him of the Anapanasati sutta. And an inspiring dhamma talk that I would also recommend: Stop Trying to Meditate.

Apologies if I'm too verbose, or anything. :anjali:
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"
User avatar
baratgab
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:55 pm
Location: Hungary

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:57 am

Many of us in this day and age are really caught up in our heads and meditating on a physical sensation does wonders to restore a big chunk of reality (physical reality) to its rightful place.

If someone (like me) who spends a great deal of time in thoughts practices a kind of meditation that is unconcerned with the physical perception, it's a recipe for disaster IMO - you just go deeper and deeper into fantasy.

If the actual sensation of the breath is too subtle (which is an indication of a kind of a numbness to the physical) then perhaps the movement of the breath can be the object. I am not sure if this is in the Pali Canon so excuse me if it isn't, but it is something I've heard taught by a number of teachers.

So basically meditation that grounds us in the physical reality here and now is the way to go. For someone already pretty grounded there maybe other techniques, but for those of us who are still floating somewhere in headspace, it's a God-send (sorry Buddha-send).

_/|\_
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2640
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Collective » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:26 pm

Thank you all for the advice and links.

Certain aspects seem a contradiction to me.

Is 'breath' meditation the same thing as 'awareness' meditation?
Can 'breath' meditation bring about insight (however that may be described) like 'awareness' meditation does?
My point is; if I focus on my breath, surely I'm not as aware as when I focus on awareness. A bit like, if I'm looking up I can't be looking down at the same time?

The movemtnt of breath sounds interesting and may have been something I've been trying to put into words for a long time now. I find it difficult trying to centre my awareness on the tip, or nostrils because the sensation is that subtle as to be almost non existent. So I tend to become aware of my breathing in general. The concept of breath in breath out rather than the more central focused physicality of the breathing mechanics.

In short then, what (if any) are the differences between breath meditation and awareness (which I think is anapanasati?) meditation. If indeed they are different.

Thanks again
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby baratgab » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:00 pm

Collective wrote:... I find it difficult trying to centre my awareness on the tip, or nostrils because the sensation is that subtle as to be almost non existent. ...


Perceptions are fascinating things: they have no solid ground. :) If you keep watching any sensation of the body, putting aside everything else, they grow, fill the mind, and you see more and more details. Not just in the case of the nostrils or the tip of the nose, but even heart-beating, or anything else. You can feel your body or any part of it heavily pulsating with every heartbeat, or you can feel the flowing of the blood in your brain. So we can't really say that this or that sensation is such and such. As with everything else, they are subject to change, subject to arising and falling away.

Of course if frustration arises because of the desire for a perception that is different from what you have, and the awareness shifts to the frustration, then the frustration will grow, instead of the calming meditation object. There is a tendency of identifying with such mental phenomena as "I", and if one identifies with them, one becomes oblivious to them. If one becomes oblivious to them, there can be no escape: they take control. The key is to keep in mind that everything is just a natural phenomenon that you can either cultivate, or put aside. If a perception is stressful, there is no reason to nurture it. In this way you can make peace with any conditions, and this peace and ease is the very essence of the "relaxation" that you would like to have.

As for or mindfulness of breathing, general awareness of breathing is excellent; just cultivate it thoroughly. You don't have to deliberately fixate on any nose or nostril sensation. You can even give the thing a spin, and instead of watching the breath, you can observe the mind whether it watches the breath or not. In any case, you are just observing a perception. In my view there is not so much difference between the "different" meditations; the dynamics is the same. With time you will eventually lose much of the initial experience of the meditation object (and of being :lol:), when the normal, complex perception of "reality" starts to completely fall away.

But I'm just following my own thread of thinking in my usual intuitive way, with the hope that it gives some form of help. :) It is guaranteed that there are much more skillful meditators than me here, so hopefully you will have some more meaningful explanations. And of course the recommended talks are really good sources of information; you can get from them almost everything that you need for development. Though, one of the most important spiritual qualities is patience; time is needed for the dhamma to fully penetrate one's mind.

Again, apologies for the blabbing, and have a lovely day. :anjali:
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"
User avatar
baratgab
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:55 pm
Location: Hungary

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Collective » Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:20 pm

Very interesting, and good avice.

So, to me it seems to be a case of staying focused on the breath and awareness at the same time?
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Collective » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:19 am

Collective wrote:Very interesting, and good avice.

So, to me it seems to be a case of staying focused on the breath and awareness at the same time?

Can anyone here with more expereince verify this?
User avatar
Collective
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:12 am

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:34 am

Greetings,

Collective wrote:So, to me it seems to be a case of staying focused on the breath and awareness at the same time?


MN 118: Anapanasati Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Now how is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to be of great fruit, of great benefit?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore.1 Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'2 He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'3 He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'4 He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind.' [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'5

"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14672
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Need Some Advice

Postby Freawaru » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:31 pm

Collective wrote:Is 'breath' meditation the same thing as 'awareness' meditation?


No.

The awareness we want to develop is a very specific and special awareness. Usually it is initiated during states of high concentration, identified and isolated there and then brought back to the states of lower concentration. In short, as long as one has not developed and identified this specific awareness one cannot do awareness meditation in the first place.

Can 'breath' meditation bring about insight (however that may be described) like 'awareness' meditation does?


Breath meditation can induce by concentration the awareness and thus lead to insight.

My point is; if I focus on my breath, surely I'm not as aware as when I focus on awareness. A bit like, if I'm looking up I can't be looking down at the same time?


When people just focus on awareness they experience a suppression of thoughts, feelings etc. They shut themselves down, so to speak (well, some also seem to enter trance states). The special awareness one wants does not do that. It keeps you being aware of whatever happens now without interfering with what happens. When a thought appears it makes you aware of that thought without judging the thought or interfering with it in any way. When an emotion appears it makes you aware of this emotion without judgement or interfering. This way it reduces clinging - just as one clings less to a lucid dream than to a normal dream.

Pay attention to the moment the breath starts again after the out-breath. Focus on knowing that moment as exactly as you can. Unlike thoughts, emotions and so on we cannot really suppress the start of the in-breath (just prolong the pause between out- and in-breath). Sooner or later it will start again on it's own. This "on it's own" is what you need to become aware of. This is the correct awareness and with it you can be aware of your breath at all times, aware of whatever you think, feel, an so on, even during sleep and dream and dying - it all comes on it's own.
Freawaru
 
Posts: 489
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:26 pm

Next

Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: identification and 2 guests