Author Topic: Theory overload and question about subtle differences in meditation styles  (Read 3989 times)

Mikeler

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In my efforts to become as informed as possible about proper meditation practice, I've reached a point where I'm basically overloaded with information.

The problem is that most of this information about meditative practice contradicts itself/is part of a different school of meditation.

I'm experiencing paralysis by analysis. I'm afraid of sitting down to do meditation in fear that I'll be doing it wrong/wasting my time/just being uproductive, etc.

For example, take breathing. Breathing or rather focusing on a particular part where I feel the breath is currently my sticking point in my mindfulness practice. I first started by focusing purely on the movements of my abdomen in the inhalation/exhalation phases. Then I moved on to the back of my throat (recommended by mindfulness book by ACT therapists) and then finally I focused on the nostrils as mentioned by the "Mindfulness in Plain English" guide on this site. Then I found ANOTHER suggestion by Matthew claiming that it's not the breath we should be mindful of, but rather body sensations.

This confused me massively and also made me afraid of "failing" proper meditation practice.

Is there a "right" meditation style which is better than the others and is it possible for one to "fail" in meditation or waste their time?


Thanks for reading. Any help is appreciated.

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This confused me massively and also made me afraid of "failing" proper meditation practice.

Observing that fear is more important i think.  :)
See how self wants to be right always.

Anyway as for as technique goes just following blindly by asking us which technique works and sticking to it will be counter productive. You should start experimenting and see what works best and why.

If possible try and attend a 10 day course to firmly establish in any one technique and then see what works and dont works for you.

small guide
First start with nostrils till u start being aware of the sutler sensations in that region.
Practice this for a month and when you are able to comfortably be aware of these sensations, you can dive into body scanning.
After that you can try full body and breath awareness. 

brdlo

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information overload is my biggest for problem also. There are so many materials and concepts and expressions that only confuse me. I hope meditation will clean this mess in my head. I think for newbies it is must to only read a few resources and immediately start to practice, otherwise  listening a many of the gurus only have bad effects.

Mikeler

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Siddharth, is it possible to use something else besides the rising and falling of the breath as an anchor in mediation?

Also, when you say body scan, isn't that just a technique to scan the  body once or twice rather than something to anchor yourself to for the whole meditation?

Thanks.

PS: I'm looking for a meditation instructor near me that I can consult with and maybe take some classes with. I live in London so this shouldn't be a problem.

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is it possible to use something else besides the rising and falling of the breath as an anchor in mediation?

yes. There are a lot of meditation technique that use mantra or visuals as object of meditation. It all comes down to what is the end result you are expecting. If you want to practice vipassana then breath is a important anchor to begin with.

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when you say body scan, isn't that just a technique to scan the  body once or twice rather than something to anchor yourself to for the whole meditation?

Yes, in vipassana meditation the attention keeps on moving. It is important to have awareness of the complete body without any blockage.

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I'm looking for a meditation instructor near me that I can consult with and maybe take some classes with. I live in London so this shouldn't be a problem.

you can ask him to give a few days of vigorous training.

Vivek

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Quote
PS: I'm looking for a meditation instructor near me that I can consult with and maybe take some classes with. I live in London so this shouldn't be a problem.
Mikeler, I think Matthew should be able to help you.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Dharmic Tui

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This is why it's important not to get too bogged down in theory. Different teachers/gurus are going to offer different answers, there is no silver bullet path to go about this. My own anecdote is that since I stopped trawling various sources for instruction and concentrated on practice, things became a lot clearer.

Matthew

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Quote
PS: I'm looking for a meditation instructor near me that I can consult with and maybe take some classes with. I live in London so this shouldn't be a problem.
Mikeler, I think Matthew should be able to help you.

Sure can ... shoot me a PM. We can meet central at the Buddhist Society and use a shrine room there, otherwise I'm in Stratford.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

dimeo

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If you look at this question from another angle... isn't it neat how so many different traditions have so much in common with each other?  It might be a matter of asking "is the glass half full / half empty" perspective question.

I was reading the Yoga sutras the other day and was blown away at how similar it was in so many ways to the teachings on Mahamudra and Dzogchen I'd just finished looking at.


I was just chatting with a few friends how helpful meditation has been for me.  In some ways the simplicity of it may cause the average person to not even consider it as having any value or importance.   

I got to thinking how simple mediation really is.  It's amazing how direct it is to do and without really needing any studying or instructions.  It's that sacred space you always have with you.

Purple

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Is there a "right" meditation style which is better than the others and is it possible for one to "fail" in meditation or waste their time?

I, too, used to struggle with this question. I'd practiced both Zen and vipassana and was constantly worrying which approach was 'better.' I fluctuated between zazen and vipassana, always wondering while doing one if I should instead be doing the other.

Then someone on this forum suggested I decide based on results. Which practice yielded real benefits that showed up in my daily life?

So I paid attention and it became clear. Vipassana was yielding more positive results. It was making me calmer and more insightful and my day to day existence was improving. I loved the romance, art and paradox of Zen but that path wasn't as beneficial for me.

Let me stress the FOR ME part. This is an individualistic path. You'll have to decide for yourself what works best, this is just my own experience. No one meditation style is empirically better than another, you just need to find what provides you with the most benefits.

Even then, you may continue to doubt. Just today I woke up yearning for a little Zen in my life. I thought about going to the local Zen center this week and sitting with those nice people. Even though I've decided to start my own vipassana group, I was wavering because your own practice can become somewhat stagnant. You look around for something newer, shinier, different.

Then I thought about all the consistent good vipassana does me and realized I'm still on the right path.

Again, I'm not saying you need to pick this style to be happy, just relating how it went for me. I suggest reading Matthew's excellent instructions on this site and giving vipassana a try for a few weeks. Commit to the practice and see what it does for you. Only you can verify the true with of any given style.

Masauwu

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And if you have the possibility, go for the one that has a trustworthy competent teacher in your area. I imagine it can save a lot of time and frustration.
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.

Mikeler

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I'm already attending a mindfulness based group meditation.

I'm going to be doing a meditation retreat in the next few months.

Also, what is the actual difference between shamatha/vipassana and Zen AKA Zazen meditation?

Jacky

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If my goal is to enter jhana, can deep relaxation alone lead to jhana?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 05:48:03 PM by Jacky »

yes deep relaxation with awareness is enough....

Just deep relaxation will lead you into dreams....

Matthew

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Hi Jacky,

Morality is a basic requirement, there is a full descriptive text available here at access to insight.org

Quote
The attainment of any jhana comes about through a twofold process of development. On one side the states obstructive to it, called its factors of abandonment, have to be eliminated, on the other the states composing it, called its factors of possession, have to be acquired. In the case of the first jhana the factors of abandonment are the five hindrances and the factors of possession the five basic jhana factors. Both are alluded to in the standard formula for the first jhana, the opening phrase referring to the abandonment of the hindrances and the subsequent portion enumerating the jhana factors:

 Quite secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, he enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied thought and sustained thought with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. (M.i,1818; Vbh.245)
In this chapter we will first discuss the five hindrances and their abandonment, then we will investigate the jhana factors both individually and by way of their combined contribution to the attainment of the first jhana. We will close the chapter with some remarks on the ways of perfecting the first jhana, a necessary preparation for the further development of concentration.

Kindly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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