Author Topic: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice  (Read 10126 times)

Cilla

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Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« on: February 11, 2012, 02:26:30 AM »
I've stopped meditating and not finding it easy to restart.

Please help me find my way back. What tricks and ideas have you got to help me.

On retreat its easy to meditate and stick with the program. In normal life, self discipline is  absent.

After my retreat i had hoped to try to continue with some of the daily routine that we followed on the retreat a la Goenka. I wanted to get up early, go to bed early, refrain from internet and tv. Meditate twice a day for a total of about 2.5-3 hours.

Problems i have doing this. There are some really good things on tv and they are often on quite late at night.

I'd love to get up early but without that insistent bell, i find i give in to going back to sleep. I have learnt that if i have something unpleasant annoying whilst i am in bed (such as a hot sun shining on me) i can get up. But i don't have a hot sun at the moment.

I just tried to give up using my computer during the week except on Sundays (which i think is a very good plan) but i failed in my first week. Once i start using the net, i keep on using it. My breaks  between work etc get longer and longer on the net. For instance today i haven't done much else since i got up. Just one simple chore and one not so quick chore but still less than an hour.

I think a lot of my problem is what happens in meditation for me. I think of other things i want to do and get restless. Or i get discomfort and can't stay with it. Or i get bored. My mind doesn't wander too much and i don't have any other strong emotions. Just the usual 5 hindrances. If i could be more successful at sitting for an hour, i think i would find it easier to keep doing. Before i was quite successful at sitting for half an hour but now i've sort of lost that. time just seems to drag. While i think watching the breath is a great practice, i don't find it quite as interesting as the books say it is. In fact i don't find any of the practices as interesting as people say it is. I wish i was better at mindfulness of feelings, thoughts and so on. I haven't really grasped the training there.

I have no interest in meditating on  objects other than myself. I find them dull.

I want to be a good practitioner of mindfulness. I've been learning with a zen teacher but i don't really want to be fully zen. I don't to do anything tibetan and goenka's method isn't full enough. If i could get my zen teacher to teach me mindfulness using goenka's excellent teaching skills and method, i'd be really happy with that.

Does anyone know if there's anywhere written an excellent very simple instruction for practicing mindfulness eg body, sensations, feelings and mental states.

DarkNightOfNoSoul

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2012, 10:22:37 PM »
Hi Cilla, unfortunately I can't offer much in the way of advice, as I have experienced similar problems. So I can only offer my empathy. But I suspect these are common difficulties, so I'm sure some of the good people on this forum can offer us both some helpful tips!

Andrew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2012, 08:37:40 AM »
I think the first thing is to relax.

Relax.

Relax.

Once you were not here, and that situation will return again. So while you are here, how do you want to spend your time? Stressed? Striving? Worried?

Relax.

Hear is the trick, if infact you do think it is important, then you need to hear this one thing; It is important NOW, in the moment you think it is important, to do something about it.

Stop.

Relax.

Feel your environment.

Feel your emotions

Notice your thoughts

And notice in all of that this one thing, they are impermanent. If you do this then you are 'meditating', 'being mindful', 'doing what needs to be done'

All other considerations like "I should get up and meditate tomorrow" "I'm not disciplined enough" "I will get this right, one day" are all taking up the moment that they occur in. Notice how they pass. Notice that a moment later you are involved in some other thought. The original thought is gone. this is the whole of 'mindfulness'; to remember to notice this flux and to use more and more of your time flowing with it, until there is only flowing.

Whatever happens is impermanent. Including, well, everything.

And I just reminded myself to notice that. haha.

your daily practice will return when you stop thinking that it starts when you sit down.

getting it done

Cilla

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 07:58:06 AM »
Ok my first strategy is to try to meditate a few times a day in 5 minutes blocks. Just to do it at all.

I am not sure i agree with you that sitting meditation is not necessary Andrew. For me is the thin of the wedge of not practicing any buddhism.

I have found that a regular practice of meditation is valuable because it is what keeps me focussed on practising the 8fold path.

I think, i know, the 8fold path includes sitting meditation. You can't really do without it if you want to get the most out of it.

Thanks also darknight for replying.

Andrew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 02:17:27 PM »
Certainly, the idea is not to agree with someone else, just look to your motivation right now, can you fit 5 mins in now? How about 10mins right now?
Throughout the day you can get in plenty of mini sits, and by the end of the day, you have the momentum to sit 20mins or more. Start now.

30 secs with your eyes fixed to the front, widen your attention, notice all the sensate world in and around you pulsing with life, mechanical noise, the touch of the air on your skin, the way the mind moves in response to a smile.  That is all I'm really saying. It's OK, take the time now with just a minute or two. Notice the way everything is in flux, that is right concentration.
getting it done

Cilla

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2012, 03:29:57 PM »
Dark night, i've found the solution (s)

Actually i do have two though i think the second one may be more important than the first though well perhaps they are of equal importance.

My strategy of tiny steps was good actually. Last night i meditated 15 minutes.

But what really helped was reading some good clear instruction.

so to put that in general terms, read something inspiring really helps. What did i read. Well i read part of the thingy on another thread by ajahn brahm. One of his ebooks. And as he was only talking in nonpractical terms, i kept on looking around and found another  good practical description of mediation that i really liked by another guy on his site. sorry i can't which ones they are off the top of my head. It was in teh list of articles anyway. It might have been the other ajahn brahm but anyway it was about meditation.

Just having clear instruction right in front of you so that you are confident about what you are doing is a good start. And setting the task so that you are confident you can do it is also very important. So for me doing it for five minutes good. Now when the alarm goes off i am quite comfortable.

today i went to the centre and sat for two 25 minutes sessions with just a stand up and jiggle my limbs in between. It wasn't too bad. Going to a centre is also very very helpful to keep your practice going. So now i feel set again though i will continue with small periods of meditating and gradually build them up.

I also need to cut my computer off from the internet for a while as that is one of my biggest current distractions. Here i am now at 1.30 am and i should have been in bed ages ago. 

Suffice to say, cracking the whip does not work. I respond to carrots only. find your own carrots if the ones i've suggested don't work for you.


Matthew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2012, 10:36:46 PM »
Stop thinking about it so much and just sit. Really.
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Cilla

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2012, 09:54:24 AM »
Do you mean i am annoying you?

I like talking and sharing my stuff. Sorry if it bothers you. I was just trying to be helpful to darknight or anyone else who had trouble sitting.

Matthew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2012, 10:04:11 AM »
No I don't mean that at all. Often I give very short answers. Especially if the question is long.

Assumption is not often useful.
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Gadfly

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2012, 12:37:32 PM »
I just tried to give up using my computer during the week except on Sundays (which i think is a very good plan) but i failed in my first week. Once i start using the net, i keep on using it. My breaks  between work etc get longer and longer on the net. For instance today i haven't done much else since i got up. Just one simple chore and one not so quick chore but still less than an hour.

I meditate regularly every morning but I can totally relate to you with this problem.  ;)

DarkNightOfNoSoul

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2012, 07:23:51 PM »
Dark night, i've found the solution(s)

My strategy of tiny steps was good actually. Last night i meditated 15 minutes.

But what really helped was reading some good clear instruction.

Hi Cilla, thanks for your suggestions. This has been my recent strategy too, though I was hesitant to suggest it as I'm not confident about my practice at the moment. But yes, rather than attempting to maintain an hour every morning and evening, I started with about 20 minutes each evening. This was about 5 months ago, and I'm now doing between 30-45 minutes each evening. I think starting small allows you to develop a solid daily habit with minimal frustration, then it can be built upon. I don't know if this is a good approach, but since I've failed several times on the hard-out two hours daily one, I'm sticking with it for now.

Regarding clear instruction, I think the technique is relatively simple, it's just that practicing can be difficult. But there is a book, "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha", which looks like it might be helpful (I've only read a little so far):

http://www.interactivebuddha.com/mctb.shtml

today i went to the centre and sat for two 25 minutes sessions with just a stand up and jiggle my limbs in between. It wasn't too bad. Going to a centre is also very very helpful to keep your practice going. So now i feel set again though i will continue with small periods of meditating and gradually build them up.

I have read that going to regular sessions with others is also a good approach. There is a weekly group not far from where I stay, so I'm intending to investigate that.


I also need to cut my computer off from the internet for a while as that is one of my biggest current distractions. Here i am now at 1.30 am and i should have been in bed ages ago. 

I think you've touched on a very important point that many of us underestimate. I suspect that using the Internet is terrible for our mind! Email, instant messages (and text messages on our phone), Facebook, browsing YouTube clips, news sites...and meditation forums! :) If you think about it, what we're doing is spending hours each day doing the very things that we are trying to undo with meditation - avoiding content we don't like, seeking out content we do like, generating hundreds of tiny sankharas (sorry I don't know a succinct English word for it). Think about how many times you check various things that give you a tiny pleasant sensation - such as the little "thrill" of seeing your email icon light up! I worry that this is very bad for us. I'm trying like hell to cut down, but it's a strong addiction, and it taps deeply into the reward circuits in our brain. End of rant.


Suffice to say, cracking the whip does not work. I respond to carrots only. find your own carrots if the ones i've suggested don't work for you.

I'm not so sure about this one. I think one of my main problems has been expecting "carrots", or benefits from meditation. I think it's more important to let go of any expectations and just sit, as a daily routine, without worrying too much about it. If you expect benefits, they won't come. Interestingly, on my last retreat, I had zero subtle sensations until the day I lost all hope and completely gave up on the practice. Then suddenly, sensations were everywhere! Infuriating, but interesting.

Of course I may be wrong on all this; I'm still a novice and so probably shouldn't be offering advice!

All the best.

Andrew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 01:15:59 AM »

Don't sweat internet time, enjoy it. You are going to do it anyway right?  :D

Enjoyment is a big factor in letting go/relaxing/calming.
getting it done

Andrew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2012, 02:31:09 AM »


I am not sure i agree with you that sitting meditation is not necessary Andrew. For me is the thin of the wedge of not practicing any buddhism.



Hi Cilla,

I've been coming back to this statement in my mind, and I think there is a lot in it.

Firstly, I have never, anywhere, said 'sitting meditation is not necessary', I sit, and i meditate, and sometimes I sit and meditate.  I'm not offended or anything that you would say that, I just wanted to point out what you 'heard' vs what I 'said'.

The second part though is really the one I think has the most meat in it. 'Practising buddhism' is a great way of putting it, if you take it literally. 'Practice buddhism', but live life. Real life. Right now. Whatever 'sitting meditation' you imagine being important to 'buddhism', it is not a scratch on what one is doing with this moment, in this real life moment. So 'practice buddhism' then actually live right now. The moment buddhism becomes some thing you are trying to live, it is just another 'stick or carrot', as you put it, to keep us suffering in the way we are accustom to.

Meditate all the time, sometimes sit, sometimes lay down, sometime walk, sometimes talk with friends on the net, but all the time knowing this is the only moment you will ever have. As you put it 'Pay attention'.

Meditation is not just all flowers and roses, but rather also the soil in which they grow. It is a trap to think formal times of sitting are 'meditation' and the rest is 'whatever'.

but also thanks for the reminder, I could be 'formally' sitting more than I am right now, but I'm very careful these days not to stop meditating when I do that...


getting it done

Billymac629

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2012, 08:07:59 PM »
Short periods many times a day helped me start my practice...  Not asking too much of yourself in the beginning.. Sit 3,4,5 minutes at a time...maybe 2 to 4 times a day.. Then gradually lengthen the time per sit..  You can also try quick 30 seconds to a minute meditations throughout the day..  Maybe just stopping now and then to observe your breath or the sounds around you.. Or the sensations of the body..  Little bits many times a day!
Hope that helps..
Metta
Nothing in this world is to be clung to as I, me, or mine...

Cilla

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2012, 01:26:54 AM »
 hey i do like the 30 second idea. In bhante G, he also talks about stopping every now and again and mindfully observing your posture just through the course of your day.

Thanks for the tip.

Matthew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2012, 08:32:48 AM »
How are you getting on with your practice Cilla? Have you managed to restart a solid routine? And the issue with overuse of computers? Any progress?
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rob

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2012, 09:35:29 PM »
hey i do like the 30 second idea. In bhante G, he also talks about stopping every now and again and mindfully observing your posture just through the course of your day.

To your earlier point about inspirational reading before sitting, I start my mornings with a cup of tea in silence and a book about the practice... and Bhante G has been my morning companion for the past week :) I agree 100% that it makes a difference. I think, for me at least, it occupies my mind and forces a certain degree of concentration at the time of day when my motor is spinning up (noisily so). From there it's a much easier transition into sitting.

Cilla

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2012, 08:13:25 AM »
No Matthew, i'm still using my puter too much but i am getting some work done in the garden now so not feeling so bad. I'm not meditating but thinking about buddhism through most of hte day anwyay.

I'm still not focussed on behaving very differently as i was in he beginning either.

Its ok though. I'm not worrying so much about it right now.

Andrew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2012, 10:05:39 AM »

Its ok though. I'm not worrying so much about it right now.

That is good progress then.  ;)
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Matthew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2012, 11:04:20 AM »
No Matthew, i'm still using my puter too much but i am getting some work done in the garden now so not feeling so bad. I'm not meditating but thinking about buddhism through most of hte day anwyay.
...

Cilla,

The question was loaded and the answer is honest - thank you.

It is a problem that you are thinking about Buddhism all day and not meditating and using the computer too much.

Thinking is the opposite to mindfulness meditation at the stage on the path you're at.

You are posting here with your beliefs and opinions and spouting out the perceived wisdom of Goenka (as you perceive it), telling people what to do (including to ignore others), and ... none of this is based on personal experience, other than experience of your thoughts and beliefs about things, which are not reality.

Chill it down a bit please. In six days last week you wrote nearly 9,000 words on this website alone. Had half that time been spent in meditation instead the other half of what you had written would have made a lot more sense.

Your enthusiasm for the subject at hand is to be admired. Channel it into gaining wisdom, not writing unwisely about things you have no experience of - this helps no one and least yourself.

Kind regards,

Matthew
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Vivek

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2012, 01:36:39 PM »
I agree with Matthew. Cilla, you need to focus more on strengthening your daily practice. You are too much into thinking and intellectualism with regard to Buddhism and Vipassana. Let theory and practice go hand-in-hand. We are saying this for your own good.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Cilla

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #21 on: February 29, 2012, 05:16:54 AM »
Of course i'm writing from experience and if i'm not i usually give a reference from where i got it.

Alexanderjohn

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2012, 07:04:59 AM »
When were you last in a good meditation groove?

Cilla

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #23 on: February 29, 2012, 09:18:19 AM »
End of December when my teacher left. I took it up last August.

In January i did the goenka vipassana retreat.

Since December and apart from the retreat i've done a few sessions on my own and been to about three i think at my centre. But my teacher is not back until April.

I'm not child either. I'm nearly 50. Old enough to have had many experiences.

Matthew

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Re: Help needed to restart and settle into a daily practice
« Reply #24 on: February 29, 2012, 10:30:14 AM »
Of course i'm writing from experience and if i'm not i usually give a reference from where i got it.

You are writing a huge amount from relatively little experience - and this ties in with your first post where you talked of your own problems getting a sitting practice down and your tendency to over-use computers.

Instead of fighting this can you recognise it's where you're at? It's where you were when you first posted. There is something for you to learn here but you won't do it by posting constantly based on opinion or things you have read.
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