A Fresh Start

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

A Fresh Start

Postby Collective » Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:52 pm

I have been asking questions about meditation. Specifically about breath meditation and awareness meditation. I don't understand (my fault) and I'm a bit confused now as to what I should do - or even what I want to do. I've mixed them up, so basically I want to start again from a fresh perspective.

Initially I thought I wanted just to relax, and I do. But now I am not so sure this is the best path. I know we should pput aside wants and cravings, but now I am thinking, if I can gain insight, that will also help me to relax, because after all, I am still sitting, breathing, and meditating.

So at the risk of sounding tedious, I would like to ask anew. Mainly: I would like to start afresh on awareness mediation.

What meditative technique must I practice to on my path to insight, to awaken?

Thank you all kindly, I do appreciate your patience. :namaste:
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby bodom » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:51 pm

In my opinion the following is the best introduction on why and how to meditate:

- Mindfulness In Plain English -

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html

: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: A Fresh Start

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:50 pm

Collective wrote:I have been asking questions about meditation. Specifically about breath meditation and awareness meditation. I don't understand (my fault) and I'm a bit confused now as to what I should do - or even what I want to do. I've mixed them up, so basically I want to start again from a fresh perspective.

Initially I thought I wanted just to relax, and I do. But now I am not so sure this is the best path. I know we should pput aside wants and cravings, but now I am thinking, if I can gain insight, that will also help me to relax, because after all, I am still sitting, breathing, and meditating.

So at the risk of sounding tedious, I would like to ask anew. Mainly: I would like to start afresh on awareness mediation.

What meditative technique must I practice to on my path to insight, to awaken?

Thank you all kindly, I do appreciate your patience. :namaste:


It doesn't really matter what technique you use, but if you do choose a technique it's best to stick with it until you've got a handle on it rather than chopping and changing all the time. The chopping and changing and the need to find the "perfect technique" is probably fuelled by restlessness, by the feeling that things aren't quite good enough, and this is the very thing one should be letting go of.

Watching the breath is the most common practice and I'd recommend you do this until you get comfortable with it, then think of trying other techniques.

What is more important than technique is attitude, which should be one of not expecting anything, acceptance, openness, giving up control. Meditation isn't so much about achieving something but of letting go of the mind that always wants to control, and achieve something.

If after a few years of doing this you still feel you aren't getting anywhere then maybe you should be concerned.
"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: A Fresh Start

Postby zavk » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:16 am

Goofaholix wrote:It doesn't really matter what technique you use, but if you do choose a technique it's best to stick with it until you've got a handle on it rather than chopping and changing all the time. The chopping and changing and the need to find the "perfect technique" is probably fuelled by restlessness, by the feeling that things aren't quite good enough, and this is the very thing one should be letting go of.

Watching the breath is the most common practice and I'd recommend you do this until you get comfortable with it, then think of trying other techniques.

What is more important than technique is attitude, which should be one of not expecting anything, acceptance, openness, giving up control. Meditation isn't so much about achieving something but of letting go of the mind that always wants to control, and achieve something.

If after a few years of doing this you still feel you aren't getting anywhere then maybe you should be concerned.


:goodpost:

I would add to this by suggesting that you attend a retreat/course if possible. If not, try to attend a group session every now and then if possible. When starting out, it helps to have support and encouragement. We can certainly offer some of that here online, but having some physical interaction with other practitioners is really helpful.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby AdvaitaJ » Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:36 am

Collective,

In addition to books and classes, I've found audio talks very helpful. In particular, some guided meditations are most helpful. One of my favorites is by Andrea Fella and it is available here: http://www.audiodharma.org/talks-andrea.html. It's titled "Mindfulness of the Body: Guided Meditation" and is dated 3/19/09. I found it a good balance of relaxation and an introduction to breath meditation.

Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
Li Bai
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:53 am

Goofaholix wrote:It doesn't really matter what technique you use, but if you do choose a technique it's best to stick with it until you've got a handle on it rather than chopping and changing all the time. The chopping and changing and the need to find the "perfect technique" is probably fuelled by restlessness, by the feeling that things aren't quite good enough, and this is the very thing one should be letting go of.

I agree. Pick a teacher, either in "real life" or in books/internet/etc, and stick with it.
e.g.
For "Mahasi-style 'insight' meditation": viewtopic.php?f=17&t=341&view=unread#p6695
For a more Samatha-oriented approach: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 019#p43505

Mike
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Collective » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:15 am

So many options.

I want to achieve insight, but not sure if that comes with just observing breath.
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Reductor » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:15 am

Collective wrote:So many options.

I want to achieve insight, but not sure if that comes with just observing breath.


At first it seems like your just watching the breath. In time you will realize that you're really watching the mind. And doing that will bring insights. It is certain, just ask any meditating monk.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:35 am

I don't know if this will help, but I found a suggested book here, Insight Meditation a Step-by-Step Guide, and it's a home study course/workbook. While I just got it today in the mail, it comes with the workbook (very easy to follow and understand), two meditation CDs (along with a booklet on how best to utilize them), and focus cards to help you with quick references to the lessons. It explains how to use the book in the best way as well. I'm only in the first lesson, and it suggests spending at least one week in each--which gives you the time to really learn and apply everything. I've scanned the whole workbook to get a feel of it, and I am very excited to use it. Maybe it will help you as well. I got it on Amazon.com for just $17 after shipping. I found it used, but never opened. This might be a good option for you....

Hope you find something that helps! I know it can be overwhelming to find your starting point, but after a lot of researching I found this to be my best bet for starting out. I plan on sticking with this course until I have learned and applied it completely. Even if that takes a couple years--I love it so far!

:meditate:
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:41 am

Butrfly_Nirvana wrote:I don't know if this will help, but I found a suggested book here, Insight Meditation a Step-by-Step Guide, and it's a home study course/workbook. While I just got it today in the mail, it comes with the workbook (very easy to follow and understand), two meditation CDs (along with a booklet on how best to utilize them), and focus cards to help you with quick references to the lessons. It explains how to use the book in the best way as well. I'm only in the first lesson, and it suggests spending at least one week in each--which gives you the time to really learn and apply everything. I've scanned the whole workbook to get a feel of it, and I am very excited to use it. Maybe it will help you as well. I got it on Amazon.com for just $17 after shipping. I found it used, but never opened. This might be a good option for you....

Hope you find something that helps! I know it can be overwhelming to find your starting point, but after a lot of researching I found this to be my best bet for starting out. I plan on sticking with this course until I have learned and applied it completely. Even if that takes a couple years--I love it so far!

:meditate:

great kit, great sugestion.
also as others have said, pick one teacher/style and stick with it.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby salmon » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:12 am

Collective wrote:So many options.

I want to achieve insight, but not sure if that comes with just observing breath.


You certainly won't achieve any insights by asking everyone's opinion and advice but not actually starting. Understandably you are at your "window shopping" phase. But like many here have already advised, pick a method, take that leap of faith and stick to it. You'll never know whether it will work for you until you actually do it.

Good luck :hello:
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:22 am

Pick a teacher , stick with it. Ideally the teacher should be made of flesh and blood and belong to a recognised school.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:24 am

Greetings,

Collective wrote:So at the risk of sounding tedious, I would like to ask anew. Mainly: I would like to start afresh on awareness mediation. What meditative technique must I practice to on my path to insight, to awaken?

Sanghamitta wrote:Pick a teacher , stick with it. Ideally the teacher should be made of flesh and blood and belong to a recognised school.


Or be the Buddha ;)

:buddha2:

MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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


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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:29 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Sanghamitta wrote:Pick a teacher , stick with it. Ideally the teacher should be made of flesh and blood and belong to a recognised school.


Or be the Buddha ;)

:buddha2:

MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Metta,
Retro. :)

Failing that a representative of the third jewel.

:buddha2:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:33 am

Greetings,

Sanghamitta wrote:Failing that a representative of the third jewel.

The Buddha wins though, because he is both those things ;)

:buddha2: :buddha2:

... and since those who see the Dhamma see the Buddha...

:buddha2:

:jumping:

In all seriousness, the above advice given by others is good. :thumbsup:

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)
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Collective » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:34 am

Very true, good advice.

I have 2 books here which I bought some time early last year. Both by Bhante Gunaratana; 8 Mindful Steps to Happiness, and Mindfulness in Plain English.

I read most of both then life took over and I put them down. But what I did read, I'm not sure if they taught me how to awaken, how to gain insight. It taight me a lot about being aware at all times and how to do breath meditation. But my question was will breath meditation bring me to awareness/enlightenment/insight, and more importantly, the question I think I really need to ask is; how will it?
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:36 am

Greetings Collective,

Collective wrote:But my question was will breath meditation bring me to awareness/enlightenment/insight, and more importantly, the question I think I really need to ask is; how will it?

Yes, it can... but you need to distinguish between the samatha (calming) aspects and the vipassana (insight) aspects. Do you presently know the difference?

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)
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Collective » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:36 am

thereductor wrote:
Collective wrote:So many options.

I want to achieve insight, but not sure if that comes with just observing breath.


At first it seems like your just watching the breath. In time you will realize that you're really watching the mind. And doing that will bring insights. It is certain, just ask any meditating monk.

This sounds promising.

I guess my real question then, is how can doing something so simple (just observing the breath) bring so much release from attachemnt, and bring insight?
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Collective » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:38 am

jcsuperstar wrote:
Butrfly_Nirvana wrote:I don't know if this will help, but I found a suggested book here, Insight Meditation a Step-by-Step Guide, and it's a home study course/workbook. While I just got it today in the mail, it comes with the workbook (very easy to follow and understand), two meditation CDs (along with a booklet on how best to utilize them), and focus cards to help you with quick references to the lessons. It explains how to use the book in the best way as well. I'm only in the first lesson, and it suggests spending at least one week in each--which gives you the time to really learn and apply everything. I've scanned the whole workbook to get a feel of it, and I am very excited to use it. Maybe it will help you as well. I got it on Amazon.com for just $17 after shipping. I found it used, but never opened. This might be a good option for you....

Hope you find something that helps! I know it can be overwhelming to find your starting point, but after a lot of researching I found this to be my best bet for starting out. I plan on sticking with this course until I have learned and applied it completely. Even if that takes a couple years--I love it so far!

:meditate:

great kit, great sugestion.
also as others have said, pick one teacher/style and stick with it.

I will definitely look into this, into all of the great advice here.
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Re: A Fresh Start

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:40 am

Suck it and see Collective. What is there to lose ?
But I would strongly advise hands on instruction if at all possible.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
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