Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Stephen18
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Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Stephen18 »

I am not advanced in my meditation, and my main obstacle/hindrance is an overactive thinking mind. So much so I am wondering whether I am doing the meditation at all or I am just sitting and thinking. I think I have always thought a lot, but recently it's been just too much, and is draining my mind of energy, and ruining my meditation which is supposed to be about clarity and peace. People suggest that I just note the thought, then return to whatever is the primary object of meditation, and keep doing that over and over, then gradually the thinking would stop. One teacher said that the moment I notice the thinking I should be glad and pleased, since that is a moment of mindfulness.

I suppose I can ask the many teachers I now have access to, but I would also like to hear the thoughts (oops, no pun intended!) of the community.

Also, which of the five hindrances is actually thought/thinking part of, or is it a combination of a few of them?
SarathW
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by SarathW »

Thinking is stopped only when an Arahant or Anagami is in Nirodha Samapatti.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
Stephen18
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Stephen18 »

SarathW wrote:Thinking is stopped only when an Arahant or Anagami is in Nirodha Samapatti.
:shrug:
Hi, Sarath. :smile: I am probably referring to a hindrance where the thinking is excessive and is disrupting the quality of the meditation, and would like to at least lessen it.
Bakmoon
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Bakmoon »

What kind of meditation are you practicing?
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
Stephen18
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Stephen18 »

Bakmoon wrote:What kind of meditation are you practicing?
Samatha Trust's 16 stages of samatha bhāvanā. First four stages involve counting (different lengths of breath), next four involve following the breath as it goes through the body, next four one focuses on the tip of the nose, and lastly the 'settling' stage where one focuses on the nimitta.
Bakmoon
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Bakmoon »

Upasaka Sumana wrote:Samatha Trust's 16 stages of samatha bhāvanā. First four stages involve counting (different lengths of breath), next four involve following the breath as it goes through the body, next four one focuses on the tip of the nose, and lastly the 'settling' stage where one focuses on the nimitta.
Sometimes when the mind just really wants to think, it can be useful to switch over to a form of meditation that involves discursive thinking, such as Metta meditation, contemplating the qualities of the Buddha, etc... Not like a whole meditation session, but you could start with it for the first part of your meditation and then switch to your main practice.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
santa100
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by santa100 »

Upasaka Sumana wrote:my main obstacle/hindrance is an overactive thinking mind. So much so I am wondering whether I am doing the meditation at all or I am just sitting and thinking. I think I have always thought a lot, but recently it's been just too much, and is draining my mind of energy, and ruining my meditation which is supposed to be about clarity and peace.
Try not to have any notion of "I" or "mine". Ex: when noticing the breaths thru the tip of the nose, try not to think in terms of "my nose". Instead, simply notice in-and-out air movement through the nostril rupa. Similarly for other people, when a thought about Mr. John Doe arises, try to notice that John Doe is merely a label to describe another set of Five Aggregates. Obviously it's easier said than done. But when consistently applied, I find this strategy quite helpful in reducing many distracting thoughts. Give it a try and see if it works for you..
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samseva
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by samseva »

Upasaka Sumana wrote:Also, which of the five hindrances is actually thought/thinking part of, or is it a combination of a few of them?
The hindrance most associated with excessive thinking is restlessness and scruples (uddhacca-kukkucca). Also skeptical doubt (vicimicchā) to a point. Maybe the others such as sensuous desire (kāmacchanda) and ill-will (vyāpāda) if during your meditation you can't stop thinking about an object of desire or a person or object which you feel ill-will towards. Most of the time, however, it is restlessness (uddhacca).

Nyanaponika Thera's The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest has an abundance of methods to get rid of the hindrances, as well as other important information.
Pinetree
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Pinetree »

By Ajahn Brahm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlB3uksRV8M" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Especially around minute 28 in the video

--

Also, what samseva said above, plus see if you are thinking that there are important things that you need to take care of. What helps me there is re-examine the motivation to meditate. So, cultivate the attitude that for that 1 hour or however you dedicate to the practice, the meditation is the most important thing in the whole world.

And more to the point, the present moment is the most important thing in the whole world.
I think I have always thought a lot, but recently it's been just too much, and is draining my mind of energy, and ruining my meditation which is supposed to be about clarity and peace.
Remember the present moment :)

The meditation is exactly what it is at the exact time you're thinking about how it's supposed to be different :P

---

This thread is about acceptance, learn to accept your thoughts :)

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... ce#p362434" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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subaru
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by subaru »

This is what I understand..

The process of thinking is unavoidable. One is supposed to be aware of it when the process of thinking arises... as opposed to indulging in it.. only in the state of certain Jhanas the process is stopped temporarily.

To indulge (or lament, take your pick) in the thoughts, ie conceptual proliferation ie living in the past/future, should be avoided as much as possible by cultivating either Tranquility (or Mindfulness) BUT if indulging or lamenting urges is too strong, then remember the precepts, that is exactly what precepts are for, ie for people who succumb to conceptual proliferations so that less harm is done to himself and others.

The process of thinking , depending on who you ask can be broken down to Volition (Cetana), Perception (Sanna), Attention (Manasikara) and alot of other cetasikas.. they are not created equal.. some are good, some are bad, some are neutral..
:candle:
Stephen18
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Stephen18 »

Thank you everyone for your helpful replies -- much appreciated.

I'll watch Ajahn Brahm's video in full later. He seems to be saying that if you allow the mind to think it will actually think less, while if you command your mind to stop thinking it will think even more.

:heart:
SarathW
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by SarathW »

I mainly practice Vipassana meditation not Samatha.
If I am not mistaken Vipassana all about knowing and training of body, feeling, citta and contemplating on Dhamma.
So the thinking is not a problem.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Cittasanto
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Cittasanto »

Hi.
What is your main object of meditation?

Kind regards
Cittasanto
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Stillness
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Stillness »

Upasaka Sumana wrote:I am not advanced in my meditation, and my main obstacle/hindrance is an overactive thinking mind. So much so I am wondering whether I am doing the meditation at all or I am just sitting and thinking. I think I have always thought a lot, but recently it's been just too much, and is draining my mind of energy, and ruining my meditation which is supposed to be about clarity and peace. People suggest that I just note the thought, then return to whatever is the primary object of meditation, and keep doing that over and over, then gradually the thinking would stop. One teacher said that the moment I notice the thinking I should be glad and pleased, since that is a moment of mindfulness.

I suppose I can ask the many teachers I now have access to, but I would also like to hear the thoughts (oops, no pun intended!) of the community.

Also, which of the five hindrances is actually thought/thinking part of, or is it a combination of a few of them?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Stephen18
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Re: Thinking as a hindrance in meditation

Post by Stephen18 »

Cittasanto wrote:Hi.
What is your main object of meditation?

Kind regards
Cittasanto
Hi, it depends what stage I am at. The Samatha Trust method has four groups of stages: (1) counting - the object here is literally the numbers; (2) following - following the breath as it goes through the body, from the nose to the belly and back again; (3) touching - the object is the sensation of the breath at one of the nostrils, without following it inside; (4) settling - the object is the nimitta, or whatever is "seen" (in the visual field) with the eyes closed. These groups of stages are subdivided into different lengths of breath, so we have the "longest" of counting (counting from 1 to 9 on the in-breath and from 9 to 1 on the out-breath), the "longer" of counting (1-6), the "shorter" (1-3), and the "shortest" (just counting "1"). The other three groups of stages preserve the different lengths of the breath but the counting itself is dropped. So we have the longest of following, the longer of following, etc. We always start with the longest of counting, then move in different ways from stage to stage through the 4x4 grid and then the same way back and finish off at the longest of counting. Each time the route is different.
An example would be:
longest of counting -> longer of counting -> shorter of counting -> shorter of following -> shorter of touching -> shorter of settling and then back through the same stages all the way to longest of counting.

Last week it was simpler: longest of counting -> longest of following -> longest of touching -> longest of settling, and back.
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