Author Topic: What is the best practice?  (Read 26552 times)

VinceField

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What is the best practice?
« on: May 01, 2014, 10:02:28 PM »
I have recently started practicing Vipassana meditation.  For the past two weeks I have been doing 2-3 hours total of both sitting and walking meditation.  The first week and a half I actually put more emphasis on Samatha meditation to develop the concentration needed for proper Vipassana practice.  Now that my concentration is more developed, I have started focusing more on Insight.

For the past 14 years I have been practicing meditation solely for the purpose of inducing out of body experiences, lucid dreams, and deep altered states of consciousness with the goal of exploring nonphysical reality and the nature of my self beyond the physical level of experience.  But these nonphysical experiences and explorations, while beneficial in their own way, do little to eradicate attachments, defilements, and suffering.  I have recently come to the realization that I have been putting off the development of a dedicated meditation practice for quite some time now, and that if I am to make any significant improvements in the evolution of my consciousness into states of higher awareness and truth, the establishment of such a practice is necessary. 

My friends recently attended a 10-day Vipassana retreat, which inspired me to begin a dedicated practice of Vipassana at home.  I had previously known about Vipassana and it's potential benefits, and would have attended the retreat if I had been able to.  After recently reading much more in depth into the theoretical and practical aspects of Vipassana practice, I came to an understanding that this practice could potentially lead to true liberation.  While I had been practicing mindfulness to some extent for the past could of years and working to eradicate the influence of my ego and the suffering caused by my attachments and desires, I was now presented with a practical means for the ultimate fulfillment of this. 

This post is more geared towards Matthew and others who are more theoretically and experientially knowledgeable in these matters.  Matthew, you have written that you have certain disagreements or dissatisfactions with the Vipassana method.  My goal is to dedicate myself to a practice that will bring results, and according to my understanding, Vipassana is such a practice.  My understanding is that Samatha meditation, while having it's own benefits, does not lead the practitioner to true insight and liberation in the way that Vipassana may. 

I wanted to inquire as to:

What aspects of Vipassana do you find lacking and/or unsatisfactory?

What do you believe is the best practice or combination of practices to achieve liberation from suffering and illusion, to achieve enlightenment?

If this is not clear from your responses of the previous two questions, How would you recommend I supplement or modify my Vipassana practice to achieve the best results?

Thanks!

Quardamon

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2014, 11:14:33 AM »
Hello VinceField,
Welcome to the forum. Interesting to have someone who has that much experience with astral travel. But that is a side note.
For reasons of clarity, I think it would be good if you read what our former(?) member Kidnovice wrote on the word vipassana. You will find it here:
http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,2219.msg22883.html#msg22883
Cheers.

VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2014, 10:24:11 PM »
Thanks for the link Quardamon!  I definitely learned something from it, similar to what I have been thinking myself.  Perhaps Vipassana supplemented with a meditation practice emphasizing another means of development like Samatha would be a more holistic approach.  This is not to mention lucid dreaming and out of body work, which is a must if I am to best use the totality of my time here in this world, as one-third of our lives are usually spent in unconsciousness, when this time can be used for conscious self development and exploration. 

I am awaiting a response from Matthew the irreverent one.

Matthew

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2014, 11:03:53 PM »
Hi Vince,

Quardamon has linked to a very good explanation of the background to the subject and the questions you ask. I thank him for this and Kidnovice for writing the original article.

What aspects of Vipassana do you find lacking and/or unsatisfactory?

Matthew, you have written that you have certain disagreements or dissatisfactions with the Vipassana method.

The elements which concern me regarding the teaching methods of VRI/Goenka I have written of widely and it sounds as though you have read about this already. I am not going to repeat them here because I do not wish to bring any more disharmony to this Sangha over such matters, nor repeat myself. Some are covered in the above-linked text.

My goal is to dedicate myself to a practice that will bring results, and according to my understanding, Vipassana is such a practice.  My understanding is that Samatha meditation, while having it's own benefits, does not lead the practitioner to true insight and liberation in the way that Vipassana may.


What do you believe is the best practice or combination of practices to achieve liberation from suffering and illusion, to achieve enlightenment?

Neither Vipassana nor Shamatha are practices as Kidnovice pointed out in the above linked text - they are both fruits (or "Phala") of practice:

Quote from: Kidnovice
A second potential problem with the idea of “vipassana practice” is that it is founded on the belief that there are two different practices: (1) concentration/tranquillity (Shamatha/Samadhi) and (2) insight (vipassana). In this framework, concentration is something you might do in preparation for insight practice. Indeed, it is commonly said that you cannot do both; if you do concentration/tranquility practice, you will have to stop in order to do “insight practice” because you are otherwise too absorbed to be aware of what is happening.

The thing is, the Buddha didn’t teach that. It is true that there are certain types of concentration/ tranquillity practices that prevent you from developing insight. But the Buddha never suggested these types of practices. From the suttas, it is quite clear that for the Buddha, “concentration/tranquillity” and “insight” were simply two capacities to be developed together.

If this is not clear from your responses of the previous two questions, How would you recommend I supplement or modify my Vipassana practice to achieve the best results?

- Ensure you fully establish yourself in good moral conduct (Sila/Shila)

- Stop looking at Vipassana as a practice: recognise that insight is a fruit of good mindfulness practice (establishment of right view).

- Gain a firm foundation of Shamatha and Samadhi - if you truly seek freedom you will need to establish yourself in the first four Jhannas (a basic foundational extension of development of Samadhi/Shamatha to facilitate true insight).

- Maintain mindfulness 24/7.

- Study and read the Meditation Sutta's and follow the eightfold path.

You have clearly done much work on yourself to date. This will be of benefit in the road ahead.

Whatever practices you continue with be sure you are developing calm, concentration and true insight into the nature of things: be sure you are not fabricating new experiences, new conditioning, but seeing through and thus dissolving that which you carry with you.

Kind regards,

Matthew
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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2014, 12:54:51 AM »
Thank you for the advice.  I have come across several of your posts in which you stated that you disagreed with certain aspects of Vipassana teaching methods, and yet you did not elaborate as to what they were exactly in the threads I am referring to, I suppose because you have done so in the past and perhaps the members you were speaking to had prior knowledge of this.  I was hoping you could summarize your viewpoint in this regard to save me an undetermined amount of time searching through old threads, or perhaps point me to a thread in which you have already addressed this. 

Thanks for your time.  :)

Tobin

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2014, 06:26:07 AM »
He didn't talk about his issues with the geonka method because it has caused problems in the community a number of times.

Here is one example
« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 06:32:19 AM by Tobin »
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Tobin

Mpgkona

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2014, 08:04:35 PM »
Vince,

Vipassana is a term that translates to "insight."  Insight into the nature of things. It is not a term that is synonymous with Goenka style meditation. Vipassana is not theoretical. It is not something to believe in either. It's simply a fruit of meditation. Matthew, I believe, does not disagree with Vipassana (whatever that means). If you're referencing his old posts about goenka it's best not to go down that road. If you search you'll find dozens of discussions about Goenkas method.
When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2014, 10:42:18 PM »
I understand what Vipassana is, I have been studying the theoretical and practical aspects of the practice of cultivating Vipassana quite intensively.  I was referring to the practice of cultivating Vipassana, which is generally referred to Vipassana meditation practice, as "Vipassana" simply for convenience.  Thanks for posting another link to an informative thread!  I will do more searching through the forum for myself.  I appreciate the perspectives of those more experienced than me.  If anyone would care for an experienced perspective into the theoretical and practical aspects of astral travel and lucid dreaming I would love to share.   :)

Matthew

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2014, 02:05:56 AM »
Vince,

These two links are of more value than old arguments that arose from careless speech on my part:

Anapanasati sutta:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

Why nose Meditation comes from a mistranslation of the pali word parimukham (and is best avoided):

http://www.4nt.org/anapana/parimukham

Quote
There are quite a lot of evidence showing that jhana does NOT start out with focusing on a small area:

1. The Parimukha expression in Chinese is translated as "bringing mindfulness to the present" or "bringing forth mindfulness" (xinian zaiqian).

2. Thanissaro Bhikkhu pointed out the earlist passage where this expression occurs--in the Vinaya. There, it is explicitly defined as the whole frontal region of the body.

3. Focusing on such small areas like the nostril and the mouth is fundamentally at odds with the nature of the satipatthana practice, which is always about knowing activities within an experiential domin in its entirety (i.e. body, feeling, mind, and all of the above within the frame of Dhammic categories). And the parimukha expression most often occurs as the precursor to satipatthana practice.

Etymologically, experientially and ontologically "fully facing" all aspects of oneself through raising mindfulness to the fore of your present moment experience is more consistent with the rest of the Buddha's teachings than developing hyper-super sensitive nose-concentration.

Kindly,

Matthew
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 02:11:09 AM by Matthew »
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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2014, 05:11:24 AM »
Great articles Matthew, very helpful.  :)  I have actually not done any nostril concentration meditations.  I have been doing strictly belly awareness breathing.  The first week or so I simply concentrated on my abdomen without much noticing of the different states of change as more of a concentration builder, but this past week I have begun incorporating more of a mindful approach to ease into the Vipassana cultivation practice.  Although, as to your advice, I have also added a full body awareness Samatha breathing meditation to my routine to ensure I have the prerequisite development before getting too heavy into the insight practice. 

I have been studying and following to some extent the book Essentials of Insight Meditation Practice by Venerable Sujiva.  My understanding is that this material does not recommend the combination of Samatha and Vipassana Practices, as they lead down different paths and arrive at different goals.  It only suggests the combination of these two practices in the beginning stages where it is necessary to build concentration faculties before beginning Vipassana cultivation.  The author appreciates Samatha development for what it is, but says to stick with insight cultivation if insight and liberation is one's goal.  I would think that once a certain degree of concentration is attained and one is able to effectively go into the insight practices, concentration would continue to develop along with the development of insight.  Perhaps I am wrong or only partially accuate.

Matthew, I am curious as to your own meditation routine and your personal experience in balancing the cultivation of concentration and insight.

Matthew

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2014, 12:12:25 AM »
Hi Vince,

My routine has varied over the years. Working/living in Dhamma centres I practiced anything from 4 to 14 hours daily. At other times I have dropped formal practice for extended periods.

Currently I meditate for an hour in the morning, half in corpse posture, half sitting. In the evening I meditate for another half hour in corpse. During the day I practice mindfulness in daily activities such as washing the dishes, cooking, shopping, walking, conversing, etc. At the moment there is a deep rooted transition taking place in development of compassion and non-clinging which seems to have a gestalt aspect: coherent/complimentary, and each positively reinforcing the other.

The core of my practice is developing calm and concentration. Insights arise naturally in the empty space this frees up in mind. We all start from different places and work at different paces. I have had some pretty heavy karma to work through and this takes time.

I also practice stepping out of the doing/knowing mind and into the being/feeling state of mind as often as I can, especially when around other people or when I find I've got caught up in doing something. This is a very spacious state of mind, highly connected to momentary experience and replete with compassion, it's almost like dropping the ego instantaneously and stepping into the void. Perhaps the periods of intense practice have helped facilitate the ability to do this.

I have not tried to cultivate the fruits of mindfulness in any specific order as I sense it is important to learn how to "surf the waves" of mindfulness and be open to the fruits that fall. They seem to fall when I'm ready and when they are needed. Otherwise I wonder if Meditation could become like a dog chasing it's tail ...

Having said that, there is a sequential sense in the teachings of the Buddha that my experience confirms: calm and concentration, equanimity, compassion and non-clinging proceeding deeper insights ...
Kindly,

Matthew
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 11:25:40 AM by Matthew »
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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2014, 08:50:30 PM »
I have just started studying the ideas and methods of Venerable U Vimalaramsi who teaches the "Tranquil Wisdom Meditation."  He says that his method is taken directly from the suttas, rather than the often times inaccurate commentaries.  According to him, concentration practices and insight practices were never meant to be segregated.  Also, the Buddha apparently rejected strict concentration practices, as they serve to suppress that which arises rather than mindfully examining it, constricting the mind rather than serving to open and expand it.

His method is Relaxing full body breath awareness, and in dealing with distractions and arising hindrances one accepts the hindrance and releases it with mindfulness, then relaxes one's mind (which is a step he claims is not often practiced in most forms of concentration meditation, the object of concentration is usually immediately refocused on with the tension from the previous distraction still present, and the mind usually tends to block out hindrances rather than properly dealing with them mindfully).  After relaxing, opening, and expanding the mind,  the practitioner smiles, which serves to enhance clarity and boost morale, and then awareness is brought back to the meditation object, the breath and relaxation.

I am going to put the Vipassana on the back burner for now and give this method a try.  I am curious as to other's opinions or experiences with this type of meditation.   

A video can be watched here: http://dcbuddhiststudies.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/improving-meditation-with-the-suttas/

His book can be read here: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ven_Vimalaramsi_Anapanasati_Sutta_2nd_Ed.pdf
 

Matthew

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2014, 09:42:48 PM »
Hi Vince

This is the practice I follow and promulgate. Well done for finding it :)

Kindly,

Matthew

PS if you read everything I linked to earlier you would have got here a week ago ....

PPS less study more practice will diminish ego. More study less practice will subvert progress.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 10:24:27 PM by Matthew »
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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2014, 02:12:56 AM »
I cannot recall where I initially stumbled upon the video of this teacher... it was either through one of my own google searches or it was posted on a thread on this forum.  Glad I watched it.

Regarding your post scripts, I most certainly read your links my friend!  In fact I was quite eager to read them and very grateful for you pointing me in the right direction.  I mentioned in a previous post that I began to incorporate this type of meditation into my routine as per your suggestion, although I only had a few scattered articles and some of your posts to base it off of.  This teacher has answer a lot of my questions regarding the nature and validity of Samatha and Vipassana cultivation methods and has also validated the method you brought to my attention and expands on it in a way that allows me to confidently understand it's theoretical and practical basis. 

Tis true, I have been studying my butt off!  I've been studying so intently since beginning my routine to not only ensure that I have adequate knowledge of the correct methods and signposts of development, but also to make sure I am engaging in the right practice that will most efficiently bring results.  There are a lot of variations and interpretations out there!  I had very little knowledge regarding Buddhist meditation practices before starting my Vipassana routine and didn't realize that it was just one piece of a larger system of practice, so I have had quite a bit to catch up on!  But despite all of my research and study, I have still been able to consistently put in 2 to 3 hours a day of practice.  But I agree with you and I would like to gradually replace the studying with more practice. 

Thanks again.

Middleway

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2014, 01:56:58 AM »
Vincefield,

Thanks for the video and book links. They were very helpful.

Warm  regards,

Middleway
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Matthew

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2014, 02:13:06 AM »
Vimalaramsi has come up a few times. Use the search box and you'll see a variety of views and some other video.
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2cdod

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2014, 08:28:39 AM »
I have a little beginner question linked to what you said!

Quote
the object of concentration is usually immediately refocused on with the tension from the previous distraction still present, and the mind usually tends to block out hindrances rather than properly dealing with them mindfully

I feel that most of the time I'm aware my mind has lost his concentration when I have already refocused attention. Like I can't watch the distraction/thinking arising and passing most of the time, just notice it when I already (kind of) automatically redirected my attention. Is it because my attention isn't powerful enough yet?

I think that this automatically redirected attention to my meditation object isn't the goal and I have to bring more attention to what arise before redirecting attention. Im I correct to think that?

Warmly!

I want to add that this forum is a real insightful place and thanks Mattew and others, I used to surf on drugs forums and that's really not the same ^^ I'm beggin to understand the concept of "shanga" :) I hope Im not of topic...

Matthew

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2014, 09:48:20 AM »
I feel that most of the time I'm aware my mind has lost his concentration when I have already refocused attention. Like I can't watch the distraction/thinking arising and passing most of the time, just notice it when I already (kind of) automatically redirected my attention. Is it because my attention isn't powerful enough yet?

Its because your attention isn't focused enough. This will come from developing calm/serenity (Shamatha) and concentration (Samadhi).

I think that this automatically redirected attention to my meditation object isn't the goal and I have to bring more attention to  arise before redirecting attention. Im I correct to think that?

Aside from the above comments there is another state people often miss: letting go and relaxing for a moment before moving attention back to the object - maybe this is part of the issue?

I want to add that this forum is a real insightful place and thanks Mattew and others, I used to surf on drugs forums and that's really not the same ^^ I'm beggin to understand the concept of "shanga" :) I hope Im not of topic...

Thank you for your thanks. Often I let comments like this pass but this time I want to say that the Sahgha here is held together by the goodwill, effort and discernment of many members from many backgrounds and outlooks. It feels to me like the Sangha is maturing. There is less friction and a great deal of goodwill and acceptance - I'm glad to hear you have found support in the way that was the intention behind this forum's existence.

Be well,

Matthew
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VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2014, 03:05:35 AM »
I recently read a similar thread from the Dhamma Wheel forum regarding this subject matter that I found to be very helpful.  It's nice to read that people have actual results from this practice.

Quote
Greetings all!
Long-time off-and-on lurker here, finally decided to create an account.  :-) A friend alerted me to this thread because of my interest in Bhante V's "Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation."

I've been going back and forth on whether to say anything here, but finally decided it wouldn't do any harm, and might (hopefully) help at least one person out there. So here goes.

About 7-8 years ago, a good friend of mine started telling me about this new meditation technique he was trying. I was only mildly interested, having come from a background of mixed spirituality (I was into Ram Dass and Terence McKenna, if that means anything to you) -- i.e. never really tried meditation before, but I was interested in finding a hardcore path. After a few gentle prods from my friend, and what to me seemed like a subtle but gentle change in his personality as of late, I thought, "why not?"

I was a new father with zero free time, so most of my meditation was done on a crowded bus, on my commutes to/from work. Certainly not the best way to start, but, Bhante's recommendation of sending metta ALL THE TIME, and constant mindfulness of smiling, made it somehow fit -- especially with fatherhood. :-) It felt good. Keep in mind, I'd never tried other forms of meditation, so "the 6 Rs" was it for me. I got into listening to Bhante's talks whenever I had time. Many of them are geared toward people who are coming from "straight vipassana," hence didn't interest me.. but some of the other talks were just gold to me.

A year or so later, I was able to fit in some more actual sitting time.. a half hour a day. Not too long after that, I started experiencing the first jhana. It felt *really* good. As in, is this stuff legal? But better than that -- clear mind, coupled with the goodness of sending well wishes to the people around me, and actually feeling it pouring out. So I start listening to more talks, and more things made sense. For instance, being able to look fast enough to feel that little "tug" of craving in the mind after something hits a sense door -- that would take me to the second jhana.

The first time I experienced the fifth jhana (aka the base of infinite space) was actually a little scary.  :-) Only because it's so different from the first four, where you're still in your body. Around the same time, I was getting used to doing the 6Rs whenever I remembered to. (One day, I popped into the 5th during a meeting at work -- I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom for a minute. I don't mind doing this now, but that first one was a bit jarring.)

Over the next couple of years, I fell off the wagon a couple of times -- life got in the way, I won't go into details -- but essentially did a big push for a couple months about once a year, and gained one more jhana, up to the 7th (nothingness). Let me just say that I can't describe the ____ (bliss? not sure what the best word is) of the 6th and 7th jhanas -- these are simply not comparable to anything I've ever felt before, and I've done my share of exploring. Around this time, the insights start rolling in, too. You know, the ones that sound cliche in the all the dhamma talks, about not having a self behind the thoughts.. and also stuff about where "becoming" comes in every quick round of dependent origination, etc. etc. -- these become amazingly real.
At the same time, it starts becoming less and less about the bliss, and more about balance, living a good life, having more of those insights, and .. well, sitting more and more because it feels right/good.

Fast forward to this past year. The 8th jhana, neither-perception-nor-non-perception. How to explain this? Have you ever sort of half-woken up from sleep, in that super calm mind state.. where you know that if you start to have a thought, you'll pop out of it.... and just having that thought pops you out of it? It's sort of like that, except with more awareness, more really really really nice calm and balance...... It is much unlike the bliss of the lower jhanas in that there's no "buzz", it is more like just.... *such* a relief. You really feel how awesome it feels to have nothing going on in your mind except for the awareness of nothing going on.  :-) If that makes sense. And then you start to see a thought coming, like a train from far away..... a little tiny vibration.... and you 6R that right away and go back to the calm. Sooo nice. (As you experience this more, the other jhanas are still nice -- but not AS nice as that pure calm.) At the same time, insights start popping up quite a lot. And other interesting things in life, weird little happy coincidences that might stem from being closer to your intuition (you know, that little voice that's usually crowded out by the other stuff).

So that's where I'm at now. No nibbana yet. But that's.... okay.  :-) I sit over an hour every morning -- two hours if I can, but that just means getting up early, and potentially being too tired for work and family life -- it's a balance.

I also haven't been on a retreat yet. But two of my close friends (including the one I mentioned at the start) have attained stream entry on retreats with Bhante. Heck, the one friend actually leveled up to sakadagami/once-returner on his last retreat. (He has experienced nibbana 4 times.)

Can anyone do this? Sure, probably. I don't know. I've been lucky to have the two close friends I mentioned -- we talk about this stuff practically daily (mostly via SMS(!)), and that helps a lot. I get a lot of valuable tweaks and tips that way. Without them, I'd probably have needed to go on a couple of retreats to get this far, because it does take some one-on-one, I think. But hey, we have the internet.

Soooo, there, I said it. Even now I'm not sure about clicking the Submit button -- weird to talk about this stuff, even under a psuedonym. But I am only doing this in hopes that it will help some folks. I'm certainly not trying to sell anything here -- you all can do what you want. But sometimes I wish that people would come out and say "THIS HAS REALLY HELPED ME!!" I mean -- it's how I found this path. Prior to my friend sharing his experiences with me, I could only judge books by their covers. The spiritual marketplace is big.  :reading:

Just A Simple Guy

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2014, 11:55:27 PM »
Vince,

I really like the video 'improving meditation with the suttas'. Thanks for posting it!

For the most part my practice is very similar except the release, relax and smile before bringing attention back. I incorporated it into my next sitting and at this point I can say it was a different experience. I think I was more easily able to sit in awareness, if that makes sense? It felt more organic and had more flow? Less resistance? It's hard to put my finger on it...

It definitely lent a different 'flavor' to the experience and I intend to continue with this very simple adjustment.

Again, thanks for sharing!

Tobin

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2014, 09:29:35 AM »
Yes, thank you for this. I will be incorporating this into my future practices.

I have a beginner question. This pertains to vipassana and this technique. How long do you focus on a feeling before letting it go? I can spend a whole session on a particular pain sometimes.
Regards,
Tobin

VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2014, 06:10:46 PM »
Detailed instructions can be found in his book Breath of Love and The Anapanasati Sutta:  http://library.dhammasukha.org/books.html

Here is a quote from the book.  Hope it helps.  :)

Quote
Thus, whenever a pain arises in the body, one first recognizes that mind has gone to that sensation, lets go of any thoughts about that sensation, opens mind and lets go of the tight mental fist that is wrapped around the sensation, or by letting the sensation be there by itself without any mental resistance or aversion to it. This is done by telling themselves, "Never mind it is alright for this pain to be there." Next, relax the tightness which is in the head ..... feel mind expand and become calm ..... then re-direct the attention back to the object of meditation i.e. the breath.

One must learn to open and lovingly-accept the present moment without that 'ego-identification' and the thinking or internally verbalization about, or taking it as "I am that". This is how one gains calmness and composure of mind, as well as, equanimity, full awareness, and mindfulness.

When pain arises, one does not direct mind into the pain. If one starts to think about the pain, it will get bigger and more intense and the mind naturally resists. Thus, one first lets go of the thinking mind, which verbalizes about these distraction (pain, hindrance, heavy emotion etc.). Next, relaxes mind and releases the tight mental knot around the sensation, relaxes the tightness in the head, calms mind and then, redirect one's attention back to the object of meditation. This is done continually until the pain doesn't pull mind to it again.

Other meditation's instructions have the meditators put their attention into the middle of the pain and try to see its true nature and watch its changes. But pain by nature, is repulsive and thus, the meditators have the tendency to tighten and harden mind so that they can continue watching the pain. The meditators will eventually develop enough concentration (fixed attention) to be able to overcome the pain. However, this is achieved by repressing and tightening mind.

One can clearly observe that the spiritual base of investigation of one's experience is to purify mind by allowing everything that happens in the present moment to be there without trying to fight, control, or even disturb it in any way. Loving-acceptance and patience (or non-aversion) of the present moment is the way to attain Nibbana. It is not attained by concentration, tightness, suppression and repression.

Tobin

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2014, 11:05:52 PM »
Thank you Vince, yes it helped a lot.

I just gave it a try and I found my concentration was much sharper and after smiling like a cheeseball the first few times, after that it was natural and felt good/uplifting. I will definitely be giving this method another shot.
Regards,
Tobin

VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2014, 07:23:44 AM »
I thought I'd share my experience out of curiosity of whether anyone else has experienced this or has any insight into the matter.

I have been meditating for about 2-3 hours a day for the past three weeks straight, jumping right into a dedicated practice coming from about a two-year meditation hiatus. The first two weeks I did a Samatha/Vipassana practice using one-pointed concentration, but more recently I began using Bhante's tranquility method. It seems like since I've made the switch, I've been experiencing very strong energetic sensations in my head, mainly during meditation and resting periods.

Some of the sensations feel rather pleasant, yet strong, and are especially concentrated around the brow chakra, the crown chakra, and the medulla oblongata. If I focus on the medulla the energy increases substantially until bursts of extremely pleasant yet intense energy shoot down my spine. During these bursts it feels as if the medulla is actually contracting. The activity in the chakra centers doesn't appear to be directly related to arising hinderances.

Mental tightness is extremely apparent when hinderances arise, manifesting as fairly strong energy and pressure in the areas of and around my brain. When I relax, release and let go, the energy and pressure is washed over by what feels like a wave of soothing warmth flowing from my head and down into my body along with a feeling of mental expansion, although at times the tightness quickly returns if I do not allow myself to remain in that relaxed state, usually due to thinking. I usually find that my eye muscles tighten with the tension in my head, and that totally relaxing my eyes is the only way to fully experience this wave of relaxation.

On another note, and another issue I would appreciate insight into, is that I seem to have an especially difficult time letting my body breathe without controlling it to some degree. It seems like I have to detach from my breath to such a degree that I am no longer effectively mindful of the breath in order for me to totally relinquish control of breathing. I find myself becoming short of breath and having to yawn often throughout the meditation due to this control issue. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  :)

VinceField

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Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2014, 08:32:19 PM »
I made some decent progress with my breathing issue today. I was able to allow natural breathing to take place without any conscious interference in the following way: I initially held my attention on my entire body, and with each in and out breath I focused on the intention of fully letting go. I let go for the entire in breath, and at the start of the out breath I re-intended to let go and felt myself letting go for the duration of the out breath. The main part of my awareness was focused on letting go and relaxing, and a smaller part of my awareness was on my body and breathing. It was a much more productive session- a lot less hinderances arising, much less aversion.

Does anyone else have a similar way of approaching their meditation or delegating the amount of attention they put on tranquilizing and letting go versus feeling the body and breath?

I have noticed that most of my arising hinderances are random memories of past situations in which I have some level of regret or I know that I did not act in a wholesome and truthful way, and if I follow these thoughts I find myself thinking of how I would have responded or behaved now that I am wiser. From what I have understood from Bhante's teachings, the more I allow these thoughts to exist without attachment and the more I let them go in my meditations, the less they will arise and the more they will dissolve until they no longer exist. I understand this process as a progressive release of attachment from the hinderance- from these memories and regrets (and whatever else may arise). I was wondering if anyone has any further thoughts or experience with this process.