Poll

How structured/focused is your practice?

Not at all, it flows freely
2 (18.2%)
It has a basic foundation/structure or point of concentration that branches out
8 (72.7%)
Quite rigid with as little deviation as possible
1 (9.1%)
Other (specify)
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: The nature of your practice  (Read 2360 times)

Dharmic Tui

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The nature of your practice
« on: November 29, 2012, 10:51:15 PM »
Hi all,

Just wondering how defined or loose people’s practice is. After reading lots of different sources talking about focusing on a specific thing, or counting, or doing some sort of envisaging or chanting I’ve thrown that all out somewhat, and just sit there being attentive to whatever comes my way.

How has your own practice developed? Have you managed to stick solidly to a very specific method or point of concentration? Or does whatever happens, happen? If the latter, are Jhanic states still attainable, or do you have to really concentrate hard on a specific thing? Or is concentration on awareness itself good enough?

Falkov

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Re: The nature of your practice
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2012, 06:02:50 AM »
My practiced started years ago from school programs-as I lived in Thailand until 17 or so.  I was fortunate enough to attend this one particular public school which we had to meditate, while standing in formation at 8am everyday- for 5mins to strengthen concentration. There was also elective classes which we had to choose, and I chose, you guessed it- (more) meditation classes, taught by monks and experienced lay-persons.  And it sticks w/ me until this day.  I can say, if I didn't learn anything at all there, I sure learned how to meditate!

Just like everything else, you are free to explore your own after certain formal way of practice- TM, chanting, Sati, Samadhi,etc.   Eventually, as I had discovered also is that the line between actual meditation and not intentionally doing it, is very blurry- as one progresses.     


I liked Samadhi, and Jhanas- I loved being in that state, until I yearned for more, and realized that there was more to it than being in a "zone" feeling peaceful, having great concentration. The worst part was getting very angry when I couldn't get to that state again.

Now, it's more awareness (Sati)- peaceful/not peaceful, happiness/unhappiness, noisy/quietness, being over there/ being over here, having/not having, meditating/not meditating- they don't effect or bother me, sure I gotta let go of the wanting, of the control- too.

Mpgkona

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Re: The nature of your practice
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2012, 02:41:39 AM »
Because I am of the Goenka brand of Vipassana I cant relate to chanting or entering "states." Its kind of alarming to hear that you used to get angry when you couldnt achieve a particular state. In the Goenka school that kind of frustration is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Being equanimous with everything one is feeling or thinking is the ultimate "goal" of Goenka Vipassana. Observing all things objectively during meditation, especially your cravings, desires, and the things you dislike and have aversion towards, is the key to gain
When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

Mpgkona

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Re: The nature of your practice
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2012, 02:51:46 AM »
Because I am of the Goenka brand of Vipassana I cant relate to chanting or entering "states." Its kind of alarming to hear that you used to get angry when you couldnt achieve a particular state. In the Goenka school that kind of frustration is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Being equanimous with everything one is feeling or thinking is the ultimate "goal" of Goenka Vipassana. Observing all things objectively during meditation, especially your cravings, desires, and the things you dislike and have aversion towards, is the key to gaining knowledge, insight, and wisdom into the reality of things. For me meditation is merely a tool to help me live a better life. The actual meditation is not something I do to make me feel good at the moment. I never try to achieve any particular state or feeling. In my opinion trying consciously to do this is dangerous. However, if this works for others thats great. I obviously come from one school of meditation and Im certainly not an authority on it. My question is, if the goal of ALL Vipassana is to see things as they really are, why would someone try for a particular feeling or sensation when that feeling is as impermanent as the cloud formations in the sky?
When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

Quardamon

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    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: The nature of your practice
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2012, 02:04:08 PM »
On how to achieve jhana I have no idea. Although I have been there two or three times, if my understanding is well.

The effect of my practice changes. For a good part, that does it on its own. But also I find, that the effect and character of my practice change because my attitude changes.
In the last few months, there were a lot of times that I felt things of which I supposed it where themes that were living in friends of mine. Compare clairvoyance, with a difference: the experience was there before I would know with what person the experience would belong. And more often than not, I would not know where this experience belonged. Well - when in a period such things happen a lot, I get the tendency to regard my sitting meditation as an exploration of unknown terrain.
Of course, that is not as open-minded any more as vipassana meditation should be. I even stopped for a week and again for several days, because I could not get myself out of this mode of being-the-explorer.

Well. I get stuck. Maybe I want to tell far too much. Your call appeals to me, Dharmic Tui.

Falkov

  • Guest
Re: The nature of your practice
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2012, 03:09:51 PM »
No need to be alarmed as I realized that anger doesn't help solving  a problem- in some situation however anger (fueling the fire) can be more useful than despair, but much less useful than being calm.    I do feel the anger and frustation  now and then-seems that no one can escape this kind of suffering, but instead of reacting or allow it to take over, I simply notice it and move onto what I need to do at the moment- more like touch and go.


Samadhi meditation (focusing on single object)  helps a lot w/ focusing and concentration- concentration is required  - I would say- in  most of daily activities, even in insight meditation.    Long time meditator can reach "Jahana" through Samadhi, which is a wonderful, peaceful and calm state, some serious athletes mention about being in the "zone" and that's what it is- seen this all the time.   However, if not careful the meditator can experience "pitfalls of (Samadhi) meditation".  Some of them are:  Pride (having great concentration/ quick mind), confidence (being able to achieve task quickly- w/ no effort), anger (occurs when concentration starts to decrease and more effort physically/ mentally is required) "object at rest will remain at rest and object in motion will remain in motion until external force "upsets" the motion/rest"- comes to mind, then depression- especially when the concentration wears off or exhaustion.   Which is the reason why the right mindset (being aware, no attachment) and right effort ( applying  knowledge/action) are required.    By this time,an observation/ correction from teacher is necessary , and hopefully the meditator is now moving on to Sati or Insight meditation- learning to be more aware and applying knowledge when needed.   Sati meditation should also involve more of the movement- to encounter the unintentional  entering of Samadhi and Jahana- forgot to mention-  which by the way is subject to the impermanent (coming and going, rise and fall, birth and death, object at rest will remain........... circle of life )- although concentration/ Jahana in moderation is just as good as Vanilla ice cream- yum,yum!     
« Last Edit: December 02, 2012, 05:50:52 PM by Falkov »

Dharmic Tui

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Re: The nature of your practice
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2012, 10:34:20 PM »
Thanks very much everyone for your words. Perhaps I have not fully calmed my mind in order for true Samadhi to manifest itself. I have found in the past I’d get too caught up on concentration on a specific thing that it’d distract me, or my concentration would become too forced or mechanical. In the end the failure to concentrate made me feel fearful and that I was never going to get anywhere, so I let my practice become more free, just letting whatever come in, no judging and no stress. Now I sort of have mindfulness of my breath at the back of my mind but I don’t give it a lot of importance, if it does come to the fore it’s usually more intense than if I’d purposefully started looking for it.

redalert

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Re: The nature of your practice
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2012, 01:58:38 AM »
Hi all,

Just wondering how defined or loose people’s practice is. After reading lots of different sources talking about focusing on a specific thing, or counting, or doing some sort of envisaging or chanting I’ve thrown that all out somewhat, and just sit there being attentive to whatever comes my way.

How has your own practice developed? Have you managed to stick solidly to a very specific method or point of concentration? Or does whatever happens, happen? If the latter, are Jhanic states still attainable, or do you have to really concentrate hard on a specific thing? Or is concentration on awareness itself good enough?

I would say my practice fluctuates on a day to day basis, depending on the busyness and responsibilities I am faced with as each day presents itself. When my responsibilities are light I find I have more time for formal seated meditation and can string hours of meditation together strengthening awareness and concentration. When family and work demand much of my time I find the mind to become very busy and less likely to remain on a single object, most of my meditation time is spent simply bringing the mind back to the object.

My primary practice is vipassana, but when the mind is busy I spend ALOT of time doing anapanasati, I find an alarm seems to go off every once in a while if the mind has become to active and it lets me know it is time to go on retreat or dedicate more time to meditation. I don't practice any other types of meditation, I have found a practice that works for me and it has become very stable.

When I sit, I try not to have expectations (I will practice vipassana tonight) I just sit and bring my attention to the touch of breath, if the body opens up to me great, if not, I try to remain equanimous and increase awareness of the breath.

I wouldn't worry to much about attaining jhana, much insight can be developed with acess concentration. I feel that in order to reach jhana you really need an appropriate environment like a retreat setting when you are in absolute silence and have no other responsibilities other than meditation to focus on.

 You never want to concentrate hard on an object , this will only cause stress. Effortless effort is required. If you are trying to hard ego will manifest if you are not trying hard enough then sloth and torpor will manifest. 

I would purposefully look for the breath otherwise you are probably just sitting there daydreaming, feeling good but not really meditating. Keep your attention in the present (in the body) not in the past and future (thought).

be happy :)

Renze

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Re: The nature of your practice
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2012, 10:08:14 AM »
I practice anapanasati, but whenever my mind wanders I use vipassana techniques like noting and following the thoughts for a while, before returning to the breath.  This keeps me very focused and aware of the breath, and prevents my mind becoming dull.
I get into access concentration this way, and getting very close to jhana. Not much insight yet, but the concentration and feelings of joy and contentment often linger during the day, and that makes it totally worth it :)

 

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