Meditation Issue

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

Meditation Issue

Postby theravada_guy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:05 am

Greetings all,

Well, I had it set in my mind that I was going to mediate for five minutes every day, at least once a day. Well, I did meditate once after my evening devotions, then the next day I meditated after my morning devotions. When it came time to the evening devotions and meditation, I only did the devotions and skipped the meditation for that night for a really stupid reason. Now I've skipped it altogether for one or two days. Why is it that I do the devotions regularly, but I don't do the meditation regularly? I read every day too. I'm probably going to answer my own question, but here goes. I suppose it's because I hate sitting still doing nothing. I'd rather be at least sitting still, but doing something other than watching my breath. I know this is a common problem amongst Buddhists. Is this an issue in the East as well as the West? Does anyone have any advice they can give me? I know five minutes isn't much, but right now it's all I can do due to physical pain and discomfort setting in, especially the legs. I don't have a cushion yet. Maybe that would help with the pain in the legs?
With metta,

Justin
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:11 am

Do walking meditation if you dont like to sit.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:19 am

theravada_guy wrote:Greetings all,

Well, I had it set in my mind that I was going to mediate for five minutes every day, at least once a day. Well, I did meditate once after my evening devotions, then the next day I meditated after my morning devotions. When it came time to the evening devotions and meditation, I only did the devotions and skipped the meditation for that night for a really stupid reason. Now I've skipped it altogether for one or two days. Why is it that I do the devotions regularly, but I don't do the meditation regularly? I read every day too. I'm probably going to answer my own question, but here goes. I suppose it's because I hate sitting still doing nothing. I'd rather be at least sitting still, but doing something other than watching my breath. I know this is a common problem amongst Buddhists. Is this an issue in the East as well as the West? Does anyone have any advice they can give me? I know five minutes isn't much, but right now it's all I can do due to physical pain and discomfort setting in, especially the legs. I don't have a cushion yet. Maybe that would help with the pain in the legs?


You did answer your own question!
force yourself! be relentless! when you go to get up stop yourself! don't aim for a set time just watch the breath for the duration of the breath, then repeat!
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby theravada_guy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:47 am

Is just watching the breath a valid form of Theravadin meditation? When I *do* meditate, I watch the in and out breaths, and if a thought or image arises I just dismiss it and go back to the breath. Is this how it's done?
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:50 am

theravada_guy wrote:Is just watching the breath a valid form of Theravadin meditation? When I *do* meditate, I watch the in and out breaths, and if a thought or image arises I just dismiss it and go back to the breath. Is this how it's done?


Yes its called Anapanasati and is the most popular and most widely used object of meditation.

MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING: GETTING STARTED by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu 

http://www.suanmokkh.org/archive/aps/mwb-abc1.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:53 am

theravada_guy wrote:Greetings all,

Well, I had it set in my mind that I was going to mediate for five minutes every day, at least once a day. Well, I did meditate once after my evening devotions, then the next day I meditated after my morning devotions. When it came time to the evening devotions and meditation, I only did the devotions and skipped the meditation for that night for a really stupid reason. Now I've skipped it altogether for one or two days. Why is it that I do the devotions regularly, but I don't do the meditation regularly? I read every day too. I'm probably going to answer my own question, but here goes. I suppose it's because I hate sitting still doing nothing. I'd rather be at least sitting still, but doing something other than watching my breath. I know this is a common problem amongst Buddhists. Is this an issue in the East as well as the West? Does anyone have any advice they can give me? I know five minutes isn't much, but right now it's all I can do due to physical pain and discomfort setting in, especially the legs. I don't have a cushion yet. Maybe that would help with the pain in the legs?


Even if you did manage 5 minutes a day it's a drop in the bucket. It's good you realise why you don't like to sit, that's an insight already. If you want to pursue this rather than just dabble you'll need to get some momentum going, sign up for a retreat of about 10 days or so, that's the only way to break through the initial resistance.
"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
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby theravada_guy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:01 am

Bodom:

I thought Vipassana was the most popular form of meditation?

Goofaholix:

Okay, I'm ignorant here. I've heard the term used quite a bit here and there. So, what's a retreat? I don't think I have any places nearby that I can do a retreat. And travel isn't possible at this time. There is an Insight Meditation group in a town I can drive too and back without any problems.

Edit: Is meditation even a requirement? I have already benefited from the little I do already. Were there lay Buddhists back in the Buddha's time that did not meditate?
With metta,

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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:14 am

theravada_guy wrote:Bodom:

I thought Vipassana was the most popular form of meditation?


The breath can be used as the basis for vipassana

. :anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby Ben » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:21 am

Hi TG
It seems to me as though you are having issues with motivation and I sense that you probably don't know why you are meditating.
Goofaholix's advice is good. A residential intensive meditation retreat will give you a depth of experience as well as teach you a technique or two in an environment that is conducive to meditative practice. Many people attending a meditation retreat will find themselves established in the particulars of practice as well as havng developed some insight into why meditation is an integral part of the path. And I recommend to most people that they attend a residential meditation retreat for that reason.
Having doubts about meditation while struggling on your own is quite normal. You just need to work out what you want from this 'path'. If you feel sufficiently motivated to continue with the hard work of making an end of suffering, then you will continue. If however you are after something else, then maybe its not for you. In my experience meditation is rarely pleasant and quite often it is hard work. But whatever I experience, I try to maintain my awareness and equanimity. For me the actual experience of meditation itself is unimportant.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby Guy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:50 am

Hi Theravada Guy,

The breath is a good object of meditation, but it's also important to understand the subject of meditation - ie. that which is observing the breath.

I can relate to your situation as I used to wonder sometimes if I was just wasting my time or not. Are you a busy person? Especially busy with thinking all the time? People who tend to work or think a lot seem to have trouble justifying spending any time meditating. This is quite common since many of us believe if you want to get something you have to do something. All business/doing is about trying to obtain something some time in the future. In meditation instead of getting you are letting go, instead of doing you are being present.

So how can we let go and do nothing? It is a natural process when you give the present moment value. If you value the present moment the mind will eventually become quite comfortable in the present moment and will want to stay there all by itself, especially when it's time for meditation. If you are concerned about the future, as Ajahn Brahm likes to say; the best way to care about the future is by looking after the present moment, since now is the time your future is being made. Be kind to the present moment/breath, be gentle with it, make peace with the present moment/breath. If you get the hang of this then the breath will become soooo smoooooth and soooo peeeaaacefuuul all by itself and the rewards of meditation will become obvious.

Everything everyone else has said is also very useful advice. If you want me to clarify anything I have said please ask.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby theravada_guy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:56 pm

Hi guys,

I thank you all for your advice. I did as Manapa said, and just did it. I also wanted to do it though. But I think I'm going to have to use a chair as the pain in the legs is too much when I sit on the floor. When I lean over, there's no pain, but when I go to sit in the meditation posture, with the back straightened, the pain kicks in.
With metta,

Justin
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby baratgab » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:31 pm

You can rationalize and elaborate with intellect as long as you would like to, but what you will actually do is determined by your inclinations. :) If you simply don't incline to meditation practice, I think the best solution is to positively condition the mind, for example with good, inspiring dhamma talks on the subject. This is why I like Ajahn Brahm, for instance.

But the problem can be that there is already too much expectation and worry about the meditation (I always worried about it), and the mind simply escapes, as it always goes on the way of least resistance. You could direct it with force, making meditation the least painful option with self-punishment and so on, but I think this wouldn't help much with your long-term well-being (bad meditation kamma). :embarassed: I would suggest, in this case too, positive conditioning: peace, kindness, compassion and acceptance towards yourself, and setting up the perception of meditation as something that is beneficial and pleasant in the here and now. If these conditions are given, the mind inclines to meditation, and there is no hard work at all.

Pain is also not a problem. ;) Though, it's tricky, because if the mind is in a low-energy state, pain can be seen like a huge problem, but as the energy accumulates, the same thing feels completely trivial, and the body grows tranquil.

Though, as others already pointed out, the environment should also be supportive and encouraging. This is the main reason why I would like to ordain; even that I perfectly know what should I do, I do not do it (enough) in this lay environment. :cookoo: But at least I have finished whipping myself, after realizing that setting up the right causes and conditions is a large part in right view and right intention.

I'm sure that you agree that I write in a quite silly way, but in any case, this is my current offering. :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"
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby Guy » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:33 am

Hi Theravada Guy,

theravada_guy wrote:Hi guys,

I thank you all for your advice. I did as Manapa said, and just did it. I also wanted to do it though. But I think I'm going to have to use a chair as the pain in the legs is too much when I sit on the floor. When I lean over, there's no pain, but when I go to sit in the meditation posture, with the back straightened, the pain kicks in.


Don't try to sit through pain, I don't think that is what the Buddha taught at all. A lot of people (perhaps they were ascetics in a past life) seem to think that pain means spiritual progress or something like that. I would advise you to make yourself as comfortable as possible at the start of the meditation, whether you are sitting on the floor or sitting on a chair make sure your body is relatively pain free. It won't ever be perfectly free of pain, but try to reach the stage of "good enough" then you can let go of the body. A straight back certainly helps one to stay alert and mindful, but make sure that you aren't too rigid or else you won't be able to focus on the breath at all because the pains in your back will be too intense.

Don't take my word for it though. Experiment for yourself with different postures, sometimes leaning forward, sometimes leaning back, sometimes relaxing a little, sometimes relaxing a lot, sometimes a rigid back, sometimes slouching. Find out through experience and reflection how the bodily posture influences the mind and vice versa. It sounds like you are already doing this though, good job!

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby AdvaitaJ » Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:24 am

theravada_guy,

One reason you might be struggling with motivation is that you haven't yet experienced the rewards that come from a good session. For my part, I'm only just calming down after 5 minutes. I don't think I actually begin approaching a productive state until 10 or 15 minutes have elapsed. I've also noticed that the busier I am beforehand, the longer it takes for me to "settle".

Lots of people have pain issues when trying to sit cross-legged or on a cushion. Sitting in a chair is a frequently mentioned alternative. After trying a cushion for a number of weeks, I discovered a seiza bench. What a difference that made. I agree with the other poster that you shouldn't try to force yourself to meditate through pain. IF you're sufficiently concentrated, you won't notice the pain. But you have to get there first and that would be a tough hill to climb if you have a very rapid onset of pain.

Once you achieve a good stable reasonably pain-free position, give yourself some real quality time to settle down. There are lots of good books available online to get you started and it probably won't take long before you realize the benefits. Once that happens, the rest will fall into place.

Regards: AdvaitaJ
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby theravada_guy » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:11 am

Greetings,

Yes, I actually sat in a chair this morning after I had done the sitting on the floor bit and tested it for a bit. I have figured out I need a chair. Thanks to everyone who has given me advice. I'm taking it all into consideration. I think I know what I need to do now.

:anjali:
With metta,

Justin
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:38 am

a little late here but, how old are you? if you're still pretty young (30s and under) and not super big or had had major injuries you should be able to sit without any problems. if you hurt that's just because you haven't stretched those muscles enough. when ever people have wanted me to teach them meditation the first thing I've always said is sit cross legged as much as possible, when you eat, when you read, when you watch TV, just sit in the meditation position, get your body used to sitting and also if you're doing something you wont notice the pain so much. sitting in the meditation position is good for you, for your back, abs, legs. chairs, couches etc just make you weak, use those muscles!
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby meindzai » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:19 pm

I did something similar to this once, but I didn't even set a time limit. Sometimes I would meditate for 30 seconds in bed before I went to sleep just so I could scratch it off my list for the day. But I still did it every day and kept momentum, as pathetic a momentum as it seemed. But over time those sessions grew into longer more "legitimate" periods of meditation.

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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:52 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:a little late here but, how old are you? if you're still pretty young (30s and under) and not super big or had had major injuries you should be able to sit without any problems. if you hurt that's just because you haven't stretched those muscles enough. when ever people have wanted me to teach them meditation the first thing I've always said is sit cross legged as much as possible, when you eat, when you read, when you watch TV, just sit in the meditation position, get your body used to sitting and also if you're doing something you wont notice the pain so much. sitting in the meditation position is good for you, for your back, abs, legs. chairs, couches etc just make you weak, use those muscles!


I fall into this catagory yet can not sit cross legged! although I do agree, unless you have a specific issue, injury etc practice makes perfect.

now off to weigh myself! I was 13stone last time
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Re: Meditation Issue

Postby salmon » Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:26 am

If you really must sit on the floor, the other option is to prop you buttocks (not legs, just buttocks) up with a cushion. IE. sit on the edge of the cushion. That helps bring some of the stress off your pelvic joints too.
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