Author Topic: Beginner Question  (Read 3727 times)

db5

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Beginner Question
« on: September 23, 2013, 04:02:10 PM »
Hello everyone,

I just recently started meditation and have a couple of general questions. I did read the FAQ.

1. According to the FAQ, I am supposed to be calming my body while sensing what the body is doing. The problem is that I can consciously only do one of these things at a time. I think I'm decent at calming the body, which to me says I'm already doing the sensing part as I wouldn't be able to calm the body if I couldn't sense what it was doing in the first place. Is that a correct way to think about the process in that the sensing part is inherently incorporated into the calming part?

2. I started out with the mediation where a mantra is repeated over and over. I read the FAQ so I'm aware that that's considered a form of self-hypnoses. However, I have to say that the calming and focus effect that it produced was a bit more noticeable than the sensing the body method. Can someone with some years of experience comment on whether this holds true over time or whether the calming and focus effects escalate over time.

Thanks.

Matthew

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 07:25:20 PM »
Hi db,

Welcome.

...
The problem is that I can consciously only do one of these things at a time. I think I'm decent at calming the body, which to me says I'm already doing the sensing part as I wouldn't be able to calm the body if I couldn't sense what it was doing in the first place. Is that a correct way to think about the process in that the sensing part is inherently incorporated into the calming part?

Absolutely, you can't calm what you can't sense, however, they are separate processes ... This will become clear in time.

...
I started out with the mediation where a mantra is repeated over and over. I read the FAQ so I'm aware that that's considered a form of self-hypnoses. However, I have to say that the calming and focus effect that it produced was a bit more noticeable than the sensing the body method.

Yip, hypnosis produces more immediate calm yet less depth of true calm because the feeling whole body releases trapped emotional energy that more hypnotic techniques suppress.

...
Can someone with some years of experience comment on whether this holds true over time or whether the calming and focus effects escalate over time.
...

Absolutely, as you embody yourself and listen to the wisdom of your body the calming effects will accumulate with regular practice. As stated above in the beginning you will notice more and even seem less calm - you are listening to your body and it's messages for the first time in a while so to begin it may have a lot to say!

Keep working with it and you will learn from experience how to calm body and mind as things come into clearer focus.

Kindly,

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

db5

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2013, 06:20:43 PM »
...
The problem is that I can consciously only do one of these things at a time. I think I'm decent at calming the body, which to me says I'm already doing the sensing part as I wouldn't be able to calm the body if I couldn't sense what it was doing in the first place. Is that a correct way to think about the process in that the sensing part is inherently incorporated into the calming part?
Absolutely, you can't calm what you can't sense, however, they are separate processes ... This will become clear in time.


Thanks for the response. Could you elaborate a little on the calming/sensing part? If I can only do one at a time, which should I focus on? I found that mentally thinking "calm" on the in and out breath helps the body to become calm. On the other hand, if I'm supposed to be just paying attention to bodily sensations then I shouldn't be able to actively focus on calming the body. It's like the chicken and the egg: do I calm the body and then sensations come or do I listen to sensations and the calmness comes?

Matthew

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2013, 07:54:31 PM »
Focus on what you are experience now, this moment. Nothing else has any value.

:)

M
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db5

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2013, 02:20:03 PM »
Focus on what you are experience now, this moment. Nothing else has any value.

:)

M

I see.

So what about the things I've been reading about cultivating one-point consciousness and all that?
If I'm understanding you correctly, you are saying to just  pay attention to all the sensations your body produces, as they come up,  as you breath? That's it?

Matthew

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2013, 03:55:38 PM »
Yes, it is the route to one pointed mind. Focus on bodily sensation calm/relax, let thoughts be: no suppression of thought and learning the skill of no inner dialogue by just letting thought be. Mind will follow the body into awake relaxed mindful state.
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J0rrit

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2013, 05:12:21 PM »
Matthew, I hope you can give me an explanation about this too, because I have the same problem with both calming, relaxing the body and following the breath completely. I noticed that when I try to calm my body and follow my breath both, I'm not capable of staying with my attention at the breath as good and concentrated as if I only try to focus and staying with the breath, without trying to calm, relax the body at the same time. This also makes sense to me, because if when you try to focus on two things at the same time (follow the breath and trying to calm the body) the focus will be divided...

Billymac629

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2013, 06:16:09 PM »
problem with both calming, relaxing the body and following the breath completely. I noticed that when I try to calm my body and follow my breath both, I'm not capable of staying with my attention at the breath as good and concentrated as if I only try to focus and staying with the breath, without trying to calm, relax the body at the same time. This also makes sense to me, because if when you try to focus on two things at the same time (follow the breath and trying to calm the body) the focus will be divided...
If you want to calm the body sensations you will need to put the breath in the background for a bit.  You can time the relaxation of the body with in breaths and out breaths if that helps. Thinking "breathing in 'relax', breathing out 'relax'" may help.  The attention is mainly on calming though.
However, the buddha also said that the breath is a "body among bodies".  So another way is if you stay with the breath and focus on calming the breath itself. You might find that the body follows and becomes calm also.

See which one works for you

maha metta
Nothing in this world is to be clung to as I, me, or mine...

J0rrit

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2013, 08:00:02 PM »
problem with both calming, relaxing the body and following the breath completely. I noticed that when I try to calm my body and follow my breath both, I'm not capable of staying with my attention at the breath as good and concentrated as if I only try to focus and staying with the breath, without trying to calm, relax the body at the same time. This also makes sense to me, because if when you try to focus on two things at the same time (follow the breath and trying to calm the body) the focus will be divided...
If you want to calm the body sensations you will need to put the breath in the background for a bit.  You can time the relaxation of the body with in breaths and out breaths if that helps. Thinking "breathing in 'relax', breathing out 'relax'" may help.  The attention is mainly on calming though.
However, the buddha also said that the breath is a "body among bodies".  So another way is if you stay with the breath and focus on calming the breath itself. You might find that the body follows and becomes calm also.

See which one works for you

maha metta

So, what you mean is: you can either focus your attention on calming the body, or mainly on following the breath as much as you can which also will result in a calm body and mind; in my opinion mainly because of the concentration you develop.

Is this right?

If you focus mainly on calming instead of following the breath, it appears to me that you miss the concentration-breath-awareness factor ?

db5

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2013, 01:31:59 PM »

So, what you mean is: you can either focus your attention on calming the body, or mainly on following the breath as much as you can which also will result in a calm body and mind; in my opinion mainly because of the concentration you develop.

Is this right?

If you focus mainly on calming instead of following the breath, it appears to me that you miss the concentration-breath-awareness factor ?

J0rrit,

I just started myself so I can only rely on my limited experience. I'm not sure this is correct but the way I've been interpreting, practicing it is to just sit and be aware of the things going on inside my body as I breath, kind of just watching everything as the body goes into automatic mode. At a certain point I could tell the difference between tense and relaxed muscles and at that point I could relax the particular muscle I was observing but without exiting the observation viewpoint. That was the starting point for me, anyhow. Now as I'm observing the body I can just slow everything down and my breadth gets really slow.

Again, someone chime in and let us know if this is incorrect, but the whole procedure to me is about consciously being aware of all those automatic processes the body does as you sit there in a very relaxed state. So if you're not relaxed yet just practice being aware of those processes first.

J0rrit

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2013, 02:49:34 PM »
Yes. But you can either focus on that (so the calming part) or focus fully for 100% on the breath, which you can't if you're also calming the body. Focussing COMPLETELY on the breath as your meditation object gives the opportunity to develop a great deal of concentration, which also leads to calm at the end. This is also the way to gain the Jhana-states...

But if I'm right, the Buddha taught only one meditation and not several ways, so my question would be which one would it be....

Thanks for your answer,

greets

db5

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2013, 03:51:35 PM »
Yes. But you can either focus on that (so the calming part) or focus fully for 100% on the breath, which you can't if you're also calming the body. Focussing COMPLETELY on the breath as your meditation object gives the opportunity to develop a great deal of concentration, which also leads to calm at the end. This is also the way to gain the Jhana-states...

But if I'm right, the Buddha taught only one meditation and not several ways, so my question would be which one would it be....

Thanks for your answer,

greets

It's hard to explain the relaxing part but  when I'm meditating and sensing the body sensations I sense my arm and it's a little tense and then I sense my arm and it's relaxed. I am observing my arm as it goes in and out of tense/relaxed stage. It's like I'm controlling the tension with my body, not my mind -- the mind just observes what is happening.

I think the questions here is where you said "Focussing COMPLETELY on the breath " needs to be further defined. Because what I got from Matthew's response above is to focus on the body's sensations as you breath. Yes, the breath is there but so are a lot of other things. I'm aware of the breath but I'm not really focused on it but on sensing what the body is doing.

That's just my opinion, maybe Matthew can clarify if my interpretation of his position is correct or not.

J0rrit

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2013, 05:50:22 PM »
ok, this is a post that I copied from another forum:

Quote
About staying with the object: what happened to me was, I'd concentrate, I'd "see" the Jhana, get all excited, want to take a "closer look" and forget to concentrate - poof.

Jhanas are concentration states, they "live" off concentration. The way to get that "closer look", to zoom in so to speak, is to continue to concentrate on whatever it was I was concentrating on.

Once that has worked a few times, you'll gain familiarity with the state, and you can try switching the concentration object, such as concentrating on the pleasant sensations. The thing is, if they are not stable enough or go away, it's kind of hard to concentrate on them.

One of the similes which the Buddha used was that of kneading powder with water. Gently spread the pleasant sensations around the body, but don't lose concentration. I find this easier when doing "full body" breath awareness, such as imagining the breath to come in and out of all skin pores, than by doing very narrowly focused awareness such as the anapana spot at the nostrils. With me, narrow focus is great for starting a sit, but I make it wider once concentration has "caught". The Buddha teaches a similar stepwise refinement in the Anapanasati Sutta. In the third step he recommends changing to full-body concentration, followed by calming the sensations in the entire body (step four), and only at that point, to focus on the rapture and pleasure. (steps five and six).

My general stance: Be gentle - this is about serenity. Have fun - jhanas are really great fun. Do it lightly. This is not heavy lifting.

YMMV. Experiment! Try kasina practice, or some other object, once in a while. Read the chapter on good goals.

If you enjoy listening to Dhamma talks, there's a really good three-hour lecture by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu on the sixteen steps of the Anapanasati Sutta, called "The Breath: a vehicle for liberation", which contains huge amounts of practice advice. He teaches the Thai forest tradition, fused Samatha/Vipassana style which doesn't focus explicitly on the Jhanas or on noting practice, but if you listen closely, what he does (in MCTB terms) is to first set up a concentration state, and then analyse it, understand it, look for its "faults" (i.e. the three characteristics).

Oh, and formal resolves are really astonishingly effective. Before the sit, think in a formal voice, "I resolve to concentrate on the breath for the next 30 minutes. May a concentration state arise". Silly as it sounds, this stuff actually works.

So maybe it's true that the Buddha taught a combined way, with at first concentrating FULLY at the breath itself, and after that going on to full-body awareness.

Matthew

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2013, 08:22:13 PM »
"The monk breathes in sensitive to the entire body, calming bodily fabrications, he breathes out sensitive to the entire body, calming bodily fabrications"

It's not that you can't do both, merely that you haven't learned how to do both, yet. It will come with practice.

Remember learning to ride a bicycle? Steering and peddling, both at once is more than you can handle at first. Get a grip on one the other will come. Why expect meditation to be different?

Kindly,

Matthew
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 08:30:13 PM by Matthew »
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db5

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Re: Beginner Question
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2013, 04:14:55 PM »
As I'm practicing more, I'm starting to notice that I can pay attention to bodily sensations in two ways:
First, seems to be from a 3rd person type of perspective. The best way I can describe it is I'm observing what is going on but not really actively engaged -- the body and breathing is in full automatic mode and I'm just observing what it's doing on its own.
Second, I would call a 1st person perspective where I actively try to discern subtler and subtler bodily movements. This method I would say is analogous to trying to hear a quieter and quieter sound.

The aftereffects of these two methods are very different with the first providing calmer but a more detached mind while  the second seems to give a little more energy and less detachment.

So the question is, when it comes to perceiving bodily movements are either of the two methods above correct or am I completely off?

 

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