Author Topic: Evaluation: an important skill to develop in meditation  (Read 1986 times)

Renze

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Evaluation: an important skill to develop in meditation
« on: November 25, 2013, 08:04:26 AM »
Here's a quote from Thanissaro Bhikkhu's book "With Each & Every Breath":

Quote
As I noted in the Introduction, the basic strategy of training the mind to put an end to suffering is to reflect on your actions and to question how skillful they are, so that you can keep refining your skill. Because meditation is an action, the same strategy applies here. To develop it as a skill, you have to learn how to evaluate how you’re doing what’s working, what’s not working—so that your skill can grow. In fact,evaluation is such an important part of meditation that it’s a factor of jhana, which we will discuss in Part Four. This sort of evaluation is what turns into the discernment that ultimately leads to release.

So remember: There is such a thing as a good session and a not-so-good session of meditation. You want to learn how to judge the difference. However, the ability to judge your actions is, itself, a skill that takes some time to master. If you’ve ever worked toward mastering a physical skill or craft—such as woodworking,cooking, or playing a sport or musical instrument—think of how you developed your powers of judgment so that they actually helped you gain mastery. Then apply the same principles to the meditation.

I feel this is often overlooked. I see a lot of people (myself included) getting frustrated when they aren't making progress, blaming the lack of progress on themselves, or starting to doubt the technique. I agree with Thanissaro that the other extreme, to say that whatever happens is OK and there are no bad meditation sessions, isn't very skillful either. I think you should be compassionate with yourself, but at the same time acknowledge the mistakes you make in meditation and learn from them.

DarkNightOfNoSoul

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Re: Evaluation: an important skill to develop in meditation
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 10:51:46 PM »
Hi Renze, that's interesting, thanks. I've also come across both points of view - at one extreme, just sitting is all that is required, there should be no judgment or evaluation of whether it's good or bad, skillful or unskillful. At the other extreme, meditation is considered "good" only if you achieve completely one-pointed concentration for most of the session.

Dare I ask what people consider a good session versus a not-so-good session? To me at the moment, it seems a good session is not defined by how distracted one is, but by how aware. A session in which you daydream for 20 or 30 minutes at a time before becoming aware of the daydreaming isn't so great. A session where the mind wanders off constantly, but you quickly become aware of this and bring your focus back to the object is better. What do you think?
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 01:54:10 AM by DarkNightOfNoSoul »

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Evaluation: an important skill to develop in meditation
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2013, 02:53:53 AM »
A "good" session for me involves acute awareness without interaction. Without the weight of my mind I feel light and a tingling through my body, and may have visual light. Generally that state will run until the bell rings.

Although I try not to view sessions as good or bad, sometimes the greatest insights come from "bad" states of mind.

Renze

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Re: Evaluation: an important skill to develop in meditation
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2013, 11:08:45 AM »
Dare I ask what people consider a good session versus a not-so-good session? To me at the moment, it seems a good session is not defined by how distracted one is, but by how aware. A session in which you daydream for 20 or 30 minutes at a time before becoming aware of the daydreaming isn't so great. A session where the mind wanders off constantly, but you quickly become aware of this and bring your focus back to the object is better. What do you think?

A session in which you just can't find a way to overcome a certain type of distraction. It keeps coming back until the bell rings. For me, this usually is drowsiness. But a 'bad' session also gives you a lot of opportunities to learn from mistakes, but first you gonna have to make them by trying out new strategies to overcome the obstacles. I think this is what Thanissaro is saying. I have a tendency to rely on the same kind of strategy, that just doesn't work.

ramat

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Re: Evaluation: an important skill to develop in meditation
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2013, 10:50:01 PM »
Namasthe

All Meditation is good. But our progress will be better if we learn from it to come out of old habits or thought patterns and develop patterns of Love, Peace, Freedom etc.

I use a diary to note down things after everyday meditation and reflect on what happened.

We have to bring the state of peace felt during meditations in to daily life to progress faster.



 

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