Questions

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Billy5000
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Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:03 pm

Questions

Post by Billy5000 »

I have some issues in my practice that I would appreciate some help with.
I was listening to a podcast and the teacher was talking about papanca. He spoke of an experience where he watched his thoughts proliferating. In my own experience meditating for 5 years I have not once watched my thoughts do anything but disappear as soon as I notice them. Is it actually possible to notice a thought and keep watching it as it continues? If so why doesn't this happen to me? For me they are like bubbles that burst as soon as I see them. I have never even noticed the beginning of one. Suddenly it is already there, I notice that I am lost in it and then it's gone. I can't understand how it can be possible to continue watching the thought.

Every morning I usually sit for an hour before I do anything else. Many mornings I notice this intense aversion to sitting. A part of me hates it, finds it boring and pointless and I drag myself to the cushion. Before the bell rings at the end I usually start anticipating it and thinking about finishing before it goes. I feel really really uncomfortable as my body continues to slump and my mind wanders off both of which I become aware of every minute or so and then I come back to breath and straighten my posture. Should I straighten my posture or just stay slumped? I never seem to go below the surface lately. I have entered some very deep states during meditation before and felt so inspired to keep going but lately my practice has become a tedious shallow chore and feels like I'm going nowhere. I suppose it helps me to be more mindful sometimes during the day but I feel frustrated that I put so much energy and effort in for very little reward. I just want my mind to shut the f_ck up for a minute but it's just not happening. Why am I stuck on the surface going round in circles like this? It seems I have reached a plateau and unless I get some support I fear i may give up.
Leon-nl
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Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:44 pm

Re: Questions

Post by Leon-nl »

" Is it actually possible to notice a thought and keep watching it as it continues? If so why doesn't this happen to me? For me they are like bubbles that burst as soon as I see them. I have never even noticed the beginning of one."

Lol, everybody is different I guess. Thoughts are supposed to be bubbles that burst as you notice them. For me that doesn't happen but I'm a beginner with meditation. When I am mindful, I do not get caught up in the thought process, but I definitely can follow a thought without actively continuing it myself.
Maybe others can explain as why our experiences are different and what it means.

As for your aversion to sitting: Maybe it is a good idea to just be easy with yourself and make your meditation shorter. Maybe you could go back to 30 minutes or even 20 minutes, like a beginner, keep it there for a few months and then build up again with fresh energy.
Maybe you could indulge yourself once in a while and have a guided or other form of meditation when your aversion is extreme.

Discipline is important with meditation, but being kind to yourself, too, and forcing yourself leads nowhere.

Just my thoughts, I might be wrong :-)
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15
Jones
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Re: Questions

Post by Jones »

Hi,

Is not meditation like learning a skill. We have all heard the story of these two children who were brought up to play the piano? The first child's parents criticised, condemned and hit the child's hands with a ruler even if she played just one wrong note. The second child's parent always encouraged the child in a positive manner, had patience, even if it played a wrong note, giving the child the room it needed to grow, not obstructing it with any comments like "why can't you just play right?", but just listening gently instead. Guess which one grew up to be proficient?
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subaru
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Re: Questions

Post by subaru »

Leon-nl wrote:" Is it actually possible to notice a thought and keep watching it as it continues? If so why doesn't this happen to me? For me they are like bubbles that burst as soon as I see them. I have never even noticed the beginning of one."
Greetings Leon-nl
Precisely..
This point , in my opinion is extremely important.. because:
1) If the mindfulness is real then all unreal things like papanca will disappear
2) sometimes one imagine one to mindful, then one will observe all sorts of 'phenomena' in the mind, heavens know if they are real or not lol
3) even the real mindfulness is actually not permanent, this impermanancy is real, nothing wrong with that

right?

Greetings billy.. patience, you are almost getting it
:candle:
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samseva
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Re: Questions

Post by samseva »

Billy5000 wrote:Every morning I usually sit for an hour before I do anything else. Many mornings I notice this intense aversion to sitting. A part of me hates it, finds it boring and pointless and I drag myself to the cushion. Before the bell rings at the end I usually start anticipating it and thinking about finishing before it goes.
If you are doing 1-hour sessions of meditation and you are actually developing aversion and hatred towards it, you are doing it for too much time. Start with 5 minutes, but doing it and actually enjoying your meditation; then increase to 10 minutes, 15 or 20 minutes and so on. Start with 10 or 15 minutes if 5 is not enough.
Billy5000
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Re: Questions

Post by Billy5000 »

samseva wrote:
Billy5000 wrote:Every morning I usually sit for an hour before I do anything else. Many mornings I notice this intense aversion to sitting. A part of me hates it, finds it boring and pointless and I drag myself to the cushion. Before the bell rings at the end I usually start anticipating it and thinking about finishing before it goes.
If you are doing 1-hour sessions of meditation and you are actually developing aversion and hatred towards it, you are doing it for too much time. Start with 5 minutes, but doing it and actually enjoying your meditation; then increase to 10 minutes, 15 or 20 minutes and so on. Start with 10 or 15 minutes if 5 is not enough.
Ive been meditating for 5 years so I have gradually worked up to an hour. I dont feel the negativity every single day but lately feels like more than usual.
Pinetree
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Re: Questions

Post by Pinetree »

The point of mindfulness is to acknowledge whatever you're experiencing (good or bad), with perseverence, persistance, commitment.

In my experience, a "secret" to the practice is "Keep going". And if you happen to stop, acknowledge that. And if you missed to acknowledge it, notice that you have missed or forgotten.

But don't cultivate the intention to stop, don't put faith in that intention. This is how aversion builds up, if you don't notice, it gets the snowball rolling, bigger and bigger.

Problem is - when we are upset, we are thinking: "I should feel happy now instead of being be mindful of my upsettness".

And that's where the fish starts to stink. When we switch the intention to practice for the intention to follow our desires and aversions.

Pleasant / blissful states and aversion can be both hindrances, but only if you are not being mindful of them.

If you feel calm, note "happy", "peaceful", if you have aversion, note: "aversion" or "disliking", if you are anticipating the bell ring, note "thinking" or "wanting", if you think about your straight or slumped posture, note "wondering", if you remember blissful meditative experiences, note "remembering", if you feel stuck, note "stuck", if you want your mind to shut the f_ck up for a minute note "wanting to shut the f_ck up for a minute". Of course, notice any bodily feelings, of tension, tightness, pain.

Finally, if you feel frustrated of noticing so much unpleasantness, instead of enjoying a blissful experience, note "frustrated" :)
I was listening to a podcast and the teacher was talking about papanca.
Link, please ?

Learning from somebody else's experience can be helpful if you understand it, but if you see it confuses you, ignore it.
Is it actually possible to notice a thought and keep watching it as it continues?
I have asked my teacher this specific question and he said no, and that the correct way of practice is to note "thinking", and then the thought vanishes.

But some see images, they have visual thoughts, and that would work, one can be "seeing" a thought for longer time.


***

Now, what is the claim that somebody is watching thoughts ?

I don't know, but ...

This is what I asked for the link, if we had more details, or somebody was familiar with that teacher, we could speculate closer to the "reality".

"Watching thoughts coming and going", can be a general statement, which means knowing there are thoughts, but in a detached manner, without the desire to cling to them.

So it's not a moment by moment mindfulness, but a more general state of mind, when one is in a relaxed mood, has thoughts from time to time, but does neither get caught by the content of the thoughts, nor does he try to push them away.
Should I straighten my posture or just stay slumped?
I've been wondering myself ... and personally decided for the middle way - sometimes, I straighten without forcing it.
I dont feel the negativity every single day but lately feels like more than usual.
A goal of the practice is noticing impermanence and suffering, and that part seems to be going rather well :)

******************

I really liked a point made in a video I saw yesterday, and this is my understanding of it:

- the goal is to practice being mindful
- if we are mindful, it doesn't matter what happens
- if we are not mindful, again - what happens is irrelevant (which is meant in correlation to the goal - because we have already stopped practicing mindfulness)

(the comment is inspired by the minutes - 26:20 to 27:30 - from the video)

Also, there is a funny story in the same video, I think it's worth checking it out, minute 8:30 to 11:30.

The video is sort of a daily talk / Q&A session, probably not worth listening to all of it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el7PG14Dpfg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Jones
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Re: Questions

Post by Jones »

Hi Dhamma friends,

I hope this sutta reference helps someone, it is from the Samyutta Nikaya 46.53 translated by the most Venerable Thanissaro Bhikkhu:-

Excerpt from Aggi Sutta: Fire.
"Now, on any occasion when the mind is restless, that is the wrong time to develop analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, persistence as a factor for awakening, rapture as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is hard to still with those mental qualities. Just as if a man, wanting to put out a large fire, were to place dry grass in it, dry cow dung, & dry sticks; were to blow on it with his mouth and not smother it with dust. Is it possible that he would put it out?"

"No, lord."

"In the same way, monks, on any occasion when the mind is restless, that is the wrong time to develop analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, persistence as a factor for awakening, rapture as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is hard to still with those mental qualities.

"Now, on occasions when the mind is restless, that is the right time to develop calm as a factor for awakening, concentration as a factor for awakening, equanimity as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is easy to still with those mental qualities. Just as if a man, wanting to put out a large fire, were to place wet grass in it, wet cow dung, & wet sticks; were to give it a spray of water and smother it with dust. Is it possible that he would put it out?"

"Yes, lord."

"In the same way, monks, when the mind is restless, that is the right time to develop calm as a factor for awakening, concentration as a factor for awakening, equanimity as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is easy to still with those mental qualities.

"As for mindfulness, I tell you, that serves every purpose."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
:anjali:
Thisperson
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Re: Questions

Post by Thisperson »

I've found that many times when there is aversion to sitting, it is because I am wanting something out of it, and not getting it. Wanting to get peaceful, wanting the thoughts to stop, wanting to not be angry, etc. So when you're experiencing this kind of trouble try to simply be with whats arising, instead of wanting results. Be mindful of the moods in mind and feelings in body without "getting lost in them" (for lack of being able to think of a better term).

It's counter intuitive that "just being" with what is arising in meditation leads to a gradual relaxing of the mind, we think that there must be this sense of control, but simply watching and learning from what's arising tends to work so much better. For example, try to pay attention to what happens when you're sitting in meditation and feeling a feeling that you don't want to feel (for example anger). See what happens if you cultivate the desire to "get rid" of the anger. Then see what happens if you simply observe the anger with mindfulness. When you observe with mindfulness, you gain the intuitive awareness of certain things leading to stress and certain things leading away from stress. It can be quite helpful to remember the second noble truth which is that when there's stress, that stress comes from craving. So try to examine and learn from any feelings of wanting, when meditating.

The advice to back off of your practice a bit might be beneficial as well. Try cutting it back a bit to maybe 30 minutes and try to use the time well. If you are still "set" on an hour a day, maybe try switching to a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening. It doesn't matter if you meditate for fifteen hours a day for twenty years if no understanding arises. The point of meditation is not to rack up the hours, it's to learn from what is going on in body and mind. That learning comes from focused mindful attention.
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