How do YOU meditate?

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

Post by pitithefool »

I'm pretty new here, so I wanted to ask how you guys meditate and what seems to give the best results? I like to use the technique described in With Each and Every Breath by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, but I know there are a plethora of others. What works for you to get your mind settled and concentrated?
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Ceisiwr
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by Ceisiwr »

pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:59 pm I'm pretty new here, so I wanted to ask how you guys meditate and what seems to give the best results? I like to use the technique described in With Each and Every Breath by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, but I know there are a plethora of others. What works for you to get your mind settled and concentrated?
When sitting down I mostly practice ānāpānasati in line with the suttas, Paṭisambhidāmagga, Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

Thanks for the reply! So I want to ask you, what is your object when practicing breath meditation? I know, the breath lol, but are you watching it in a particular area like around the nostrils, at the navel etc? Also, I know a little about the vsm, and there seeks to be description of a visible "nimitta" that ends up sortof consuming the meditator and it's at that point that one enters Jhana. If you don't mind me asking, can you tell me you experience of what all that looks like or if my preconceptions are even accurate?
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:02 pm
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:59 pm I'm pretty new here, so I wanted to ask how you guys meditate and what seems to give the best results? I like to use the technique described in With Each and Every Breath by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, but I know there are a plethora of others. What works for you to get your mind settled and concentrated?
When sitting down I mostly practice ānāpānasati in line with the suttas, Paṭisambhidāmagga, Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga.
Thanks for the reply! So I want to ask you, what is your object when practicing breath meditation? I know, the breath lol, but are you watching it in a particular area like around the nostrils, at the navel etc? Also, I know a little about the vsm, and there seems to be description of a visible "nimitta" that ends up sortof consuming the meditator and it's at that point that one enters Jhana. If you don't mind me asking, can you tell me your experience of what all that looks like or if my preconceptions are even accurate?
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Ceisiwr
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:17 pm

Thanks for the reply!
You’re welcome.
So I want to ask you, what is your object when practicing breath meditation? I know, the breath lol, but are you watching it in a particular area like around the nostrils, at the navel etc?
I take parimukhaṃ to be around the nostrils or upper lip. As Jhana is of 1 perception and 1 perception only, absorption, you need 1 point to focus upon. In this case, to set up air perception until it becomes static and fills your entire perceptual field. Essentially, this is air kasina practice. If you follow the breath in or out or focus on anything other than the sensation of breath at the nose or lip then you are giving rise to multiple perceptions, the mind becomes scattered and disturbed and so Jhana is far away.
Also, I know a little about the vsm, and there seems to be description of a visible "nimitta" that ends up sortof consuming the meditator and it's at that point that one enters Jhana.
The nimitta is merely the sign of deepening states of concentration and the condition for absorption, i.e Jhana. It is a representation of the object of meditation. It can manifest for people in different ways. It can be a light or it can be a static sensation of “air” or “airiness”
If you don't mind me asking, can you tell me your experience of what all that looks like or if my preconceptions are even accurate?
Having practiced sense restraint and morality the conditions are there for the hindrances to be starved. When sitting down to meditation, due to these former conditions which act as the base the mind can settle on the object of meditation. You become mindful of the breath as it strikes the nose or lip. You do not chase the breath in or out, nor control it anyway. Just mindful and aware of where the breath touches the nose or lip. In, out, in, out. If thoughts arise they are seen as coarse, disturbing (to peace) and dukkha. The unity of perception of “air” at contact at the lip or nose is seen as fine and peaceful. Increasingly the mind is drawn to the singular perception of “air”. Then, the mind becomes wedded to the perception. If a distraction does arise the mind is stuck to the breath, like magnetism. Then the perception of “airiness” begins to grow and grow and the 5 senses begin to fade. Peace, calm, rapture and bliss begin to grow. The whole mind feels expansive and as if filled with air, as if the duality between mind and air disappears. Increasingly there is just “air” or “airiness”.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:37 pm
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:17 pm

Thanks for the reply!
You’re welcome.
So I want to ask you, what is your object when practicing breath meditation? I know, the breath lol, but are you watching it in a particular area like around the nostrils, at the navel etc?
I take parimukkam to be around the nostrils or upper lip. As Jhana is of 1 perception and 1 perception only, absorption, you need 1 point to focus upon. In this case, to set up air perception until it becomes static and fills your entire perceptual field. Essentially, this is air kasina practice. If you follow the breath in or out or focus on anything other than the sensation of breath at the nose or lip then you are giving rise to multiple perceptions, the mind becomes scattered and disturbed and so Jhana is far away.
Also, I know a little about the vsm, and there seems to be description of a visible "nimitta" that ends up sortof consuming the meditator and it's at that point that one enters Jhana.
The nimitta is merely the sign of deepening states of concentration and the condition for absorption, i.e Jhana. It is a representation of the object of meditation. It can manifest for people in different ways. It can be a light or it can be a static sensation of “air” or “airiness”
If you don't mind me asking, can you tell me your experience of what all that looks like or if my preconceptions are even accurate?
Having practiced sense restraint and morality the conditions are there for the hindrances to be starved. When sitting down to meditation due to these former conditions the mind can settle on the object of meditation. You become mindful of the breath as it strikes the nose or lip. You do not chase the breath in or out, nor control it anyway. Just mindful and aware of where the breath touches the nose or lip. In, out, in, out. If thoughts arise they are seen as coarse, disturbing (to peace) and dukkha. The unity of perception of “air” at contact at the lip or nose is seen as fine and peaceful. Increasingly the mind is drawn to the singular perception of “air”. Then, the mind becomes wedded to the perception. If a distraction does arise the mind is stuck to the breath, like magnetism. Then the perception of “airiness” begins to grow and grow and the 5 senses begin to fade. Peace, calm and bliss and joy begin to grow. The whole mind feels expansive and as if filled with air, as if the duality between mind and air disappears. Increasingly there is just “air” or “airiness”.
I'm still learning how to do quotations so forgive me. So this sounds quite similar to my own experiences with "jhana lite" with one major difference here and that's the singleness of perception. So you're telling me that in jhana, there is only one perception and that's of the breath, correct? I have a slightly different view and that that the jhanas are singleness of preoccupation or task and that singleness of perception doesn't really occur until a solid fourth jhana going into the realm of infinite space and so on.

Please tell me what you think of this, because I think our views and experiences are pretty similar:

The first through fourth jhanas seem to be akin to the flow state described by mihaly csikszentmihalyi. A good article is this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

In these states, the mind is wholly consumed by the task of meditating, but multiple perceptions occur in the first through fourth jhana, in which we are systematically abandoning perceptions and mental activity, in this order: sensuality, vitakka-vicara, piti, then sukha, where in the fourth jhana we finally have a purity of mindfulness and a more-or-less single perception of the meditation object, followed by the more refined single perceptions in the formless attainments.

It seems like with your method, it goes straight to the heart, so my question to you then is, would you consider my method to be incorrect or to be improved upon?
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Ceisiwr
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:00 pm
I'm still learning how to do quotations so forgive me. So this sounds quite similar to my own experiences with "jhana lite" with one major difference here and that's the singleness of perception. So you're telling me that in jhana, there is only one perception and that's of the breath, correct?
I am indeed saying that, although it’s not always the breath. It just that when it’s mindfulness of breathing. Actually, to be specific, it’s the nimitta not the breath itself.

“When I understood that doubt is a corruption of the mind, I gave it up. When I understood that loss of focus, dullness and drowsiness, terror, excitement, discomfort, excessive energy, overly lax energy, longing, perception of diversity, and excessive concentration on forms are corruptions of the mind, I gave them up.”

MN 128

I have a slightly different view and that that the jhanas are singleness of preoccupation or task and that singleness of perception doesn't really occur until a solid fourth jhana going into the realm of infinite space and so on.
I would disagree. The suttas, especially when you look at the Pali, suggest otherwise.
Please tell me what you think of this, because I think our views and experiences are pretty similar:

The first through fourth jhanas seem to be akin to the flow state described by mihaly csikszentmihalyi. A good article is this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

In these states, the mind is wholly consumed by the task of meditating, but multiple perceptions occur in the first through fourth jhana, in which we are systematically abandoning perceptions and mental activity, in this order: sensuality, vitakka-vicara, piti, then sukha, where in the fourth jhana we finally have a purity of mindfulness and a more-or-less single perception of the meditation object, followed by the more refined single perceptions in the formless attainments.
The 5 senses are shut down in the 1st Jhana, meaning there is 1 perception being absorbed into.
It seems like with your method, it goes straight to the heart, so my question to you then is, would you consider my method to be incorrect or to be improved upon?
It’s certainly meditation and it quite possibly has some benefits, but it’s not what I recognise as Jhana. Others however will comment soon. Some will agree with me, others will not. It is, of course, for you to discover what is correct. To separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:13 pm
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:00 pm
I'm still learning how to do quotations so forgive me. So this sounds quite similar to my own experiences with "jhana lite" with one major difference here and that's the singleness of perception. So you're telling me that in jhana, there is only one perception and that's of the breath, correct?
I am indeed saying that, although it’s not always the breath. It just that when it’s mindfulness of breathing. Actually, to be specific, it’s the nimitta not the breath itself.

“When I understood that doubt is a corruption of the mind, I gave it up. When I understood that loss of focus, dullness and drowsiness, terror, excitement, discomfort, excessive energy, overly lax energy, longing, perception of diversity, and excessive concentration on forms are corruptions of the mind, I gave them up.”

MN 128

I have a slightly different view and that that the jhanas are singleness of preoccupation or task and that singleness of perception doesn't really occur until a solid fourth jhana going into the realm of infinite space and so on.
I would disagree. The suttas, especially when you look at the Pali, suggest otherwise.
Please tell me what you think of this, because I think our views and experiences are pretty similar:

The first through fourth jhanas seem to be akin to the flow state described by mihaly csikszentmihalyi. A good article is this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

In these states, the mind is wholly consumed by the task of meditating, but multiple perceptions occur in the first through fourth jhana, in which we are systematically abandoning perceptions and mental activity, in this order: sensuality, vitakka-vicara, piti, then sukha, where in the fourth jhana we finally have a purity of mindfulness and a more-or-less single perception of the meditation object, followed by the more refined single perceptions in the formless attainments.
The 5 senses are shut down in the 1st Jhana, meaning there is 1 perception being absorbed into.
It seems like with your method, it goes straight to the heart, so my question to you then is, would you consider my method to be incorrect or to be improved upon?
It’s certainly meditation and it quite possibly has some benefits, but it’s not what I recognise as Jhana. Others however will comment soon. Some will agree with me, others will not. It is, of course, for you to discover what is correct. To separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.
Awesome I appreciate your responses.

I have a question though. If entering the first jhana, and it's accompanied by piti-sukha, then is the preception of
the piti-sukha different than the perception of the breath or are they one in the same?
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Ceisiwr
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:29 pm
Awesome I appreciate your responses.
You’re welcome.
I have a question though. If entering the first jhana, and it's accompanied by piti-sukha, then is the preception of
the piti-sukha different than the perception of the breath or are they one in the same?
Diverse perception is of the 6 senses. Unity of perception is based solely on mind, mind object (in this case, rupa) and contact between the 3 which comes with piti & sukha due to the seclusion that brings, seclusion being seclusion from the 5 senses. Incidentally, the translation “secluded from sensual pleasures” is based upon an Abhidhamma definition. Make of that what you will.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:37 pm
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:29 pm
Awesome I appreciate your responses.
You’re welcome.
I have a question though. If entering the first jhana, and it's accompanied by piti-sukha, then is the preception of
the piti-sukha different than the perception of the breath or are they one in the same?
Diverse perception is of the 6 senses. Unity of perception is based solely on mind, mind object (in this case, rupa) and contact between the 3 which comes with piti & sukha due to the seclusion that brings, seclusion being seclusion from the 5 senses. Incidentally, the translation “secluded for sensual pleasures” is based upon an Abhidhamma definition. Make of that what you will.
Oh okay that makes sense. I was going to say, according to AN 9.36, successful meditation practice requires discernment of mental states (which I would call perception, a form of labelling and categorizing) while in the jhana, and MN 111 provides pretty good evidence for this too.

However, my biggest reason for practicing this way is AN 9:34:

"Now there is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality, that is an affliction for him. Just as pain arises as an affliction in a healthy person for his affliction, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality that beset the monk is an affliction for him. Now, the Blessed One has said that whatever is an affliction is stress. So by this line of reasoning it may be known how Unbinding is pleasant.

"Furthermore, there is the case where a monk, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with directed thought, that is an affliction for him...

"Furthermore, there is the case where a monk, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with rapture, that is an affliction for him...

"Furthermore, there is the case where a monk, with the abandoning of pleasure & stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with equanimity, that is an affliction for him..."

It seems our discussion is getting rather pedantic but I'm inclined to hold on to my views that:
A) Multiple perceptions do occur in jhana
& B) Both of us are practicing right concentration
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Ceisiwr
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

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pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:47 pm
Oh okay that makes sense. I was going to say, according to AN 9.36, successful meditation practice requires discernment of mental states (which I would call perception, a form of labelling and categorizing) while in the jhana, and MN 111 provides pretty good evidence for this too.
Nothing in the grammar of AN 9.36 indicates that those reflections happen whilst in Jhana. AN 9.34 gives good evidence of the contrary, which you bring up below. MN 111 is very likely an Abhidhamma influenced text:
However, my biggest reason for practicing this way is AN 9:34:

"Now there is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality, that is an affliction for him. Just as pain arises as an affliction in a healthy person for his affliction, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality that beset the monk is an affliction for him. Now, the Blessed One has said that whatever is an affliction is stress. So by this line of reasoning it may be known how Unbinding is pleasant.
AN 9.36 is about what knocks one out of Jhana. In other words, the reviewing is being done when not in Jhana. Notice in that sutta, where you have underlined, diverse perceptions (saññāmanasikārā) are part of what is going wrong. Jhana then requires the opposite. In other words, unity of perception. It’s an essential ingredient. Also, notice it relies upon the Abhidhamma definition. Based solely on the suttas, kāmehi means “5 senses”.

“he is beset with multiple perceptions dealing with the 5 senses, that is an affliction for him.”
It seems our discussion is getting rather pedantic but I'm inclined to hold on to my views that:
A) Multiple perceptions do occur in jhana
& B) Both of us are practicing right concentration
The suttas say that diversity of perception is a hindrance to Jhana.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 11:01 pm
pitithefool wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:47 pm
Oh okay that makes sense. I was going to say, according to AN 9.36, successful meditation practice requires discernment of mental states (which I would call perception, a form of labelling and categorizing) while in the jhana, and MN 111 provides pretty good evidence for this too.
Nothing in the grammar of AN 9.36 indicates that those reflections happen whilst in Jhana. AN 9.34 gives good evidence of the contrary, which you bring up below. MN 111 is very likely an Abhidhamma influenced text:
However, my biggest reason for practicing this way is AN 9:34:

"Now there is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality, that is an affliction for him. Just as pain arises as an affliction in a healthy person for his affliction, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality that beset the monk is an affliction for him. Now, the Blessed One has said that whatever is an affliction is stress. So by this line of reasoning it may be known how Unbinding is pleasant.
AN 9.36 is about what knocks one out of Jhana. In other words, the reviewing is being done when not in Jhana. Notice in that sutta, where you have underlined, diverse perceptions (saññāmanasikārā) are part of what is going wrong. Jhana then requires the opposite. In other words, unity of perception. It’s an essential ingredient. Also, notice it relies upon the Abhidhamma definition. Based solely on the suttas, kāmehi means “5 senses”.

“he is beset with multiple perceptions dealing with the 5 senses, that is an affliction for him.”
It seems our discussion is getting rather pedantic but I'm inclined to hold on to my views that:
A) Multiple perceptions do occur in jhana
& B) Both of us are practicing right concentration
The suttas say that diversity of perception is a hindrance to Jhana.
Hmmm ok this makes sense,

I think it must be that my definition of perception is not correct.

I still think I'm meditating correctly though and here's why

1) It fits the description of jhana given especially in MN 119 and MN 118
2) If multiple perceptions do occur (in my experience), they are perceptions of vitakka-vicara, piti-sukha, and form/the object and all other perceptions or phenomena are of course a distraction. Whether these are considered really separate perceptions seems to be a matter of defining terms, but on that note, I would have to agree that if we are taking your (apparently correct) definition of perception to mean excluding of the 5 senses, then even my method has singleness of perception in the first jhana. If we take my own definition of perception, then my method only reaches true singleness in the fourth jhana.
3)The end result appears to be the same in which there is a single pure and extremely stable perception of form that can lead nicely into the formless attainmets.

I want to ask you then, what is the difference between Sanna and Vinnana? In my view, perception can and does occur both apart from and in conjuction with consciousness. A lot of perception occurs without our awareness it's the factor that organizes and interprets information, whereas consciousness is awareness either at the senses or the mind. Is this not in line with the canon's definition?

I've seen a couple suttas now, namely DN 15 that support the use of the term singleness of perception just as you use it here. In your opinion, is this synonymous with ekaggata, which I take to mean something like mihaly csikszentmihalyi's definition of flow, or is they two different things?
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by SarathW »

In my opinion as a beginner, just sit cross leg and body erect breath in and breath out.
Try your best to be aware or mindful of only the breath.
The hard part is your mind wondering away.
I use the following video to remind me to get back to my breath.

After practice this for few weeks, read and compare Sutta instructions.

Then gradually reduce to 30 minutes etc video and practice without the video.

“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

SarathW wrote: Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:01 am In my opinion as a beginner, just sit cross leg and body erect breath in and breath out.
Try your best to be aware or mindful of only the breath.
The hard part is your mind wondering away.
I use the following video to remind me to get back to my breath.

After practice this for few weeks, read and compare Sutta instructions.

Then gradually reduce to 30 minutes etc video and practice without the video.
Thank you!
pitithefool
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Re: How do YOU meditate?

Post by pitithefool »

SarathW wrote: Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:01 am In my opinion as a beginner, just sit cross leg and body erect breath in and breath out.
Try your best to be aware or mindful of only the breath.
The hard part is your mind wondering away.
I use the following video to remind me to get back to my breath.

After practice this for few weeks, read and compare Sutta instructions.

Then gradually reduce to 30 minutes etc video and practice without the video.
This video seems very similar to what's taught in anapansati sutta. I want to ask you then, what do you think of the jhana description in MN 119?

"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again & again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within & without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal"

"Just like a lake with spring-water welling up from within, having no inflow from the east, west, north, or south, and with the skies supplying abundant showers time & again, so that the cool fount of water welling up from within the lake would permeate & pervade, suffuse & fill it with cool waters, there being no part of the lake unpervaded by the cool waters; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of composure."

"Just as in a lotus pond, some of the lotuses, born & growing in the water, stay immersed in the water and flourish without standing up out of the water, so that they are permeated & pervaded, suffused & filled with cool water from their roots to their tips, and nothing of those lotuses would be unpervaded with cool water; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture"

"Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness."

It sounds to me like the process in the first jhana is willed, more or less. In my experience, piti-sukha comes naturally as the mind settles on the breath. From there, it naturally strengthens and tends to permeate throughout the body untill the point where the perception of the body fills the awareness and that same awareness is also filled with piti-sukha.

Does that sound like what's supposed to happen when meditating? I find it progresses in that fashion usually if I meditate any more that 20 minutes or so. I often have to look for a way of breathing or spot that feels nice and it tends to spread out from there until there is no part of my body or awareness that isn't filled with it and distraction no longer happens.

Please tell me what you think. Thank you again!
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