Author Topic: What is the best practice?  (Read 26738 times)

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2014, 09:19:20 PM »
Learning self-compassion and self-forgiveness seems to be where you're at vince. These things are not only essential for letting go of your own guilt and regret but also compassion for others
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

VinceField

  • Guest
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #26 on: May 13, 2014, 07:58:08 PM »
After talking with several people who have substantial experience and have undergone significant development with Bhante's teachings and methods, it has been recommended that I switch my object of meditation from tranquilizing on the breath, to metta loving-kindness.  Despite my initial thought that it might be best to have a meditation object based in reality rather than a mental/emotional fabrication, I am going to give it a go.  After giving it some thought, I suppose hinderances can arise and be mindfully addressed just as readily with metta as they can with breath awareness as the object of meditation, leading to an effectively purifying meditative practice.  And as Matthew has said, self-love and forgiveness is probably something that I need to improve upon, and there is a forgiveness aspect to Bhante's loving-kindness method that I believe can properly address this.

I am curious as to anyone's experience with this type of meditation or opinions about making metta a full-time practice, as was suggested by some who have experienced the higher jhanas in this way.

Here is Bhante's method:

Quote
When practicing Loving-Kindness Meditation, you first start by sending loving and kind thoughts to yourself. Begin by remembering a time when you were happy. When the feeling of happiness arises, it is a warm glowing or radiating feeling in the center of your chest. Now, when this feeling arises, make a very sincere wish for your own happiness and feel that wish. “May I be happy.” ... “May I be filled with joy.” ... “May I be peaceful and calm.” ...ect...

Make any wholesome sincere wish that has meaning for you, feel the wish in your heart, and radiate that smiling feeling.

It’s really important that the wish you make for yourself, and later for your spiritual friend, has real meaning for you and uses your whole undivided attention. You then feel that wish and put that smiling feeling into your heart and radiate it.

Don’t continually repeat the wish for happiness. Make the wish for your own happiness and feel that wish when the feeling of Loving-Kindness begins to fade a little.

After every wish for your own happiness, please notice that there is some slight tension or tightness in your head, in your mind. Let it go. You do this by relaxing mind completely then smiling. Feel mind open up and become calm, but do this only one time.

If the tightness doesn’t go away, never mind, you will be able to let it go while on the meditation object (your home base).

Don’t continually try to keep relaxing mind without coming back to the home base. Always softly redirect your smiling tranquil attention back to the radiating of happiness.

This meditation needs to be done with a soft relaxed mind, not pushing or making mind stay on the Loving-Kindness.

The more you smile, the easier the meditation becomes, and your mindfulness will improve by leaps and bounds.

When a series of thoughts come up to take you away from your meditation object, notice that you are not smiling or experiencing the feeling of Loving-Kindness and making a wish for your own happiness. Then, simply let go of the thought. This means to let the thought be there by itself without keeping your attention on it. This is done by not continuing to think the thought, no matter how important it seems at that time.

Notice the tightness or tension in your head/mind, now relax.

This tightness is how craving (taṇhā) can be recognized and let go of. This is also called the cause of suffering or the “Second Noble Truth”.
Relaxing this tightness is the way of letting go of craving, which is called the cessation of suffering or the “Third Noble Truth!” Feel the tightness open. The brain (a part of the body) and mind feels like it expands and relaxes. It then becomes very tranquil and calm.

At this time there are no thoughts and mind is exceptionally clear, alert, and pure because now there is no more craving or clinging. Immediately smile and then bring that soft smiling mind back to your object of meditation, that is, the feeling of Loving-Kindness and making and feeling the wish for your own happiness.

It doesn’t matter how many times your mind goes away and thinks about other things. What really matters is that you see “how” your mind has become distracted by a thought. Just notice “how” the movement of mind’s attention occurs, “how” mind becomes distracted, and let that distraction go.

After sending loving and kind thoughts to yourself for about ten minutes, then begin sending loving and kind thoughts to your “spiritual friend”. A “spiritual friend” is someone who, when you think of them and their good qualities, it makes you happy.

This is a friend who is of the same sex, they are alive, and not a member of your family. This is for right now. Later, you will be able to send Loving-Kindness to all of the members of your family. But for this training period please choose a friend that you love and respect.

Once you start sending Loving-Kindness to your spiritual friend, please don’t change to another person. Stay with the same spiritual friend until you get to the third meditation stage (jhāna).

As you are sending a sincere wish for your own happiness and then, mentally you say, “As I wish this feeling of peace and calm (happiness, joy, whatever) for myself, I wish this feeling for you, too. May you be well, happy and peaceful.” Then start radiating this feeling of love and peace to your friend. It is quite important for you to feel the sincere wish and that you place that feeling in your heart.

The practice of Loving-Kindness Insight Meditation can lead you directly to the experience of Nibbāna if you follow all of the Brahmā Vihāras (the heavenly abodes) precisely. The Brahmā Vihāras include the practice of Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity.

When Loving-Kindness Insight Meditation is practiced as part of the Brahmā Vihāras, it will take the meditator “automatically”, without changing the meditation instructions, to the material (rūpa jhānas) and immaterial realms (arūpa jhānas) up to the “Realm of Nothingness”.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2014, 10:02:57 PM »
Hi Vince,

Metta is one of the four Brahma-viharas or "sublime abodings" and they can be practice to culmination of the path. Personal experience has taught me they are/can be extremely powerful practice - to the extent of a certain level of unpredictability. A firm foundation of developed Shamatha, Samadhi, Sati and Vipassana can benefit the practice.

Kindly,

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

Tobin

  • Member
  • Seeking Truth
    • Samatha & Vipassana
    • Curious
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2014, 12:46:45 AM »
Hi Vince,

Metta is one of the four Brahma-viharas or "sublime abodings" and they can be practice to culmination of the path. Personal experience has taught me they are/can be extremely powerful practice - to the extent of a certain level of unpredictability. A firm foundation of developed Shamatha, Samadhi, Sati and Vipassana can benefit the practice.

Kindly,

Matthew

So is "Tranquil Wisdom Meditation" a form of vipassana? I've been forming doubts about my practice because I feel like if I'm not focusing on the sensations like I did in vipassana, then I'm not truly learning about them. I really do enjoy this new practice and it has increased my concentration a lot, but I'm not liking these doubts! :) Any insight is appreciated.
Regards,
Tobin

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #29 on: May 15, 2014, 08:14:38 AM »
Tobin,

NO Meditation is a form of Vipassana ... Vipassana is a fruit or a product of good Meditation and, yes, it can arise in Tranquil Wisdom Meditation.

Quote
The story of how the popular understanding of mindfulness derived from modern Vipassana meditation and how Vipassana first came to be taught to laypeople in Burma in the early decades of the 20th century is told in Erik Braun’s article “Meditation en Masse” in the Spring 2014 issue of Tricycle. There is thus no need to retell that story here.

Tricycle magazine: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/which-mindfulness
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Tobin

  • Member
  • Seeking Truth
    • Samatha & Vipassana
    • Curious
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #30 on: May 15, 2014, 08:51:55 AM »
Tobin,

NO Meditation is a form of Vipassana ... Vipassana is a fruit or a product of good Meditation and, yes, it can arise in Tranquil Wisdom Meditation.

Quote
The story of how the popular understanding of mindfulness derived from modern Vipassana meditation and how Vipassana first came to be taught to laypeople in Burma in the early decades of the 20th century is told in Erik Braun’s article “Meditation en Masse” in the Spring 2014 issue of Tricycle. There is thus no need to retell that story here.

Tricycle magazine: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/which-mindfulness

Right, I've heard this mentioned several times and forgot. Thank you.
Regards,
Tobin

VinceField

  • Guest
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #31 on: May 15, 2014, 05:04:42 PM »
Tobin

I understand what you mean when you ask if TWM is a form of Vipassana... referring to the practice of cultivating Vipassana.  I feel you, it is much easier to just say "Vipassana."  From what I understand from Bhante's teaching, the insights that arise in the practice of TWM do so during the jhana states and not so much during ordinary states of observing bodily sensations.  The strict one-pointed concentration taught by most Vipassana teachers is actually said to be restrictive in terms of mindfulness, as it tends to exclude all other sensations at the expense of the one small area being focused on.  TWM is said to be an ideal blend of both Vipassana and Samatha practices.

Tobin

  • Member
  • Seeking Truth
    • Samatha & Vipassana
    • Curious
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #32 on: May 15, 2014, 08:13:36 PM »
Tobin

I understand what you mean when you ask if TWM is a form of Vipassana... referring to the practice of cultivating Vipassana.  I feel you, it is much easier to just say "Vipassana."  From what I understand from Bhante's teaching, the insights that arise in the practice of TWM do so during the jhana states and not so much during ordinary states of observing bodily sensations.  The strict one-pointed concentration taught by most Vipassana teachers is actually said to be restrictive in terms of mindfulness, as it tends to exclude all other sensations at the expense of the one small area being focused on.  TWM is said to be an ideal blend of both Vipassana and Samatha practices.

Well it's good to know I'm not alone Vince. Now the tricky part is deciphering what is tranquil and what is stupor. :P I've almost fallen over twice doing TWM. haha
Regards,
Tobin

VinceField

  • Guest
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #33 on: May 15, 2014, 08:24:25 PM »
Haha.  It's not easy to balance relaxation and mindfulness.  The moment I start to slouch is the moment I realize my mindfulness has slipped.  I seem to shift between varying levels of relaxation- like I said, it seems like a balancing act.

This is the reason why I have meditated lying down for the past 14 years- complete and total relaxation makes it much easier to induce deeper and more profound states of consciousness, although my goal was not to maintain mindfulness- I would have subconscious triggers in place to awaken mindfulness at the right moment in order to consciously shift into higher dimensions of reality.  But this is a different practice altogether.  The disadvantage of the potentially deeper states entered while lying is the increased chances of loosing mindfulness in the process. 

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #34 on: May 16, 2014, 02:22:46 AM »
You wouldn't be the first person to go over that edge Tobin - I've seen a thirty year practitioner, senior teacher, fall asleep and off his cushion only to wake up when his head banged loudly on the wooden floor!
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

J0rrit

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • -
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #35 on: May 16, 2014, 10:31:18 AM »
I have some problems with finding the right balance between relaxation and concentration; that is with finding the right amount of concentration. Not too much, but also not to little, it has to be just right. It's sometimes explained as if you have a little bird in your hand: don't hold it with too much strenght or you will kill it, but also don't hold it with too less of strenght because it will fly away. The bird is the breath in this simile...

In my experience this is true; hold the breath with too much (forced) concentration and there will be too much tension in your mind, too less of concentration and you won't be aware of the breath well. Where's the boundary between these extremes? Also, for more relaxation it's probably the best to concentrate as less as possible on the breath, and hold is as less tight as possible, but I noticed than that concentration is dull. The fact of concentrating a little more creates some tension in the mind, but a little of this tension is necessary to have some awareness of the breath I would say ?

So in summary, I have found the middle way for myself I think, but I have doubts because I realize I can concentrate just a little more or less, so there are still a lot of options.

Does someone have any tips about how to find this balance? When do I know it's right ?
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 10:34:01 AM by J0rrit »

Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #36 on: May 16, 2014, 12:34:30 PM »
Does someone have any tips about how to find this balance? When do I know it's right ?

I know its right when mind likes staying there

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #37 on: May 16, 2014, 10:36:14 PM »
Does someone have any tips about how to find this balance? When do I know it's right ?

I know its right when mind likes staying there

Practice makes perfect ... try it too tight, then let it be loose, get to know what feels tight and what feels loose then home down on the middle way: relaxed but awake and aware ...
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

J0rrit

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • -
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2014, 10:49:56 PM »
This is what is told to me on another forum:

Don't focus on anything. Also not on the breath. Just be aware of everything that comes to awareness. This results in coming to the present moment. Eventually the mind will let go of everything because it focusses on the stillness created by coming to the present. This leaves the breath as the only thing left; awareness will be on the breath automatically; Jhanas etc will follow.

So do absolutely nothing! and the rest will follow from itself. This sounds strange to me, as there is said everywhere that you have to have an active focus. Sort of choiceless awareness, that results in anapanasati when there is created enough calm and letting go.

If this is true, can someone explain this to me better?

If this is true, how can you be aware of another object (disc, flame) with the same choiceless awareness, if this choiceless awareness results in awareness of the breath being the only thing left...

Tobin

  • Member
  • Seeking Truth
    • Samatha & Vipassana
    • Curious
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #39 on: May 20, 2014, 12:44:42 AM »
This is what is told to me on another forum:

Don't focus on anything. Also not on the breath. Just be aware of everything that comes to awareness. This results in coming to the present moment. Eventually the mind will let go of everything because it focusses on the stillness created by coming to the present. This leaves the breath as the only thing left; awareness will be on the breath automatically; Jhanas etc will follow.

So do absolutely nothing! and the rest will follow from itself. This sounds strange to me, as there is said everywhere that you have to have an active focus. Sort of choiceless awareness, that results in anapanasati when there is created enough calm and letting go.

If this is true, can someone explain this to me better?

If this is true, how can you be aware of another object (disc, flame) with the same choiceless awareness, if this choiceless awareness results in awareness of the breath being the only thing left...

I'm also interested to know how the breath is the only thing left when we have things like sound and feeling to be aware of at the same time. If I am aware of everything, then how can I be focused?
Regards,
Tobin

Mindfullness

  • Member
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #40 on: May 20, 2014, 01:04:44 AM »
This is what is told to me on another forum:

Don't focus on anything. Also not on the breath. Just be aware of everything that comes to awareness. This results in coming to the present moment. Eventually the mind will let go of everything because it focusses on the stillness created by coming to the present. This leaves the breath as the only thing left; awareness will be on the breath automatically; Jhanas etc will follow.

So do absolutely nothing! and the rest will follow from itself. This sounds strange to me, as there is said everywhere that you have to have an active focus. Sort of choiceless awareness, that results in anapanasati when there is created enough calm and letting go.

If this is true, can someone explain this to me better?

If this is true, how can you be aware of another object (disc, flame) with the same choiceless awareness, if this choiceless awareness results in awareness of the breath being the only thing left...

JOrrit that's a great method, or so it seems. I struggle with trying to focus too much, so that seems like it would be a good technique to me. Would be good if someone could answer your question too.

yossarian

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Vipassana
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #41 on: May 20, 2014, 09:49:10 AM »
This is what is told to me on another forum:

Don't focus on anything. Also not on the breath. Just be aware of everything that comes to awareness. This results in coming to the present moment. Eventually the mind will let go of everything because it focusses on the stillness created by coming to the present. This leaves the breath as the only thing left; awareness will be on the breath automatically; Jhanas etc will follow.

So do absolutely nothing! and the rest will follow from itself. This sounds strange to me, as there is said everywhere that you have to have an active focus. Sort of choiceless awareness, that results in anapanasati when there is created enough calm and letting go.

If this is true, can someone explain this to me better?

If this is true, how can you be aware of another object (disc, flame) with the same choiceless awareness, if this choiceless awareness results in awareness of the breath being the only thing left...

I don't know where this technique comes from. It doesn't appear in any of the Sutta's that I've read so if your goal is in line with such buddhist goals as gaining insight into yourself and relieving suffering, this may not be the best road to go down. I have, however, read scientific literature of comparative brain scans that distinguished two different types of meditation.
Type 1 was called open monitoring and is what you describe as choiceness awareness.
Type 2 was called focused awareness and involved an attentional anchor, such as the breath.

What the brain scans showed was that both groups had the same alterations to the brain except that the focused awareness group had increased size in areas associated with attention regulation. This suggests that with focused awareness you get the benefits of choiceness awareness as well as additional benefits of attention regulation.

I've really enjoyed this thread as I've been trying for the past year to release the tension I created (or became aware of) during a Goenka retreat. It has brought Vimalaramsi to my attention which I appreciate as his method seems similar to what I construed from reading the sutta's, (though I don't particularly find his attitude appealing). I've personally found that distinctions on anchors such as nose vs chest/abdomen makes much less difference than HOW you focus that attention. If you are striving as opposed to relaxing, you will build tension. If you do either correctly and achieve a calm, receptive state you will get results so long as you eventually move that awareness to the whole body, as is advised in the Sutta's.

 I hope this helps a bit.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 09:58:36 AM by yossarian »

Mindfullness

  • Member
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #42 on: May 20, 2014, 02:19:39 PM »
This is what is told to me on another forum:

Don't focus on anything. Also not on the breath. Just be aware of everything that comes to awareness. This results in coming to the present moment. Eventually the mind will let go of everything because it focusses on the stillness created by coming to the present. This leaves the breath as the only thing left; awareness will be on the breath automatically; Jhanas etc will follow.

So do absolutely nothing! and the rest will follow from itself. This sounds strange to me, as there is said everywhere that you have to have an active focus. Sort of choiceless awareness, that results in anapanasati when there is created enough calm and letting go.

If this is true, can someone explain this to me better?

If this is true, how can you be aware of another object (disc, flame) with the same choiceless awareness, if this choiceless awareness results in awareness of the breath being the only thing left...

I don't know where this technique comes from. It doesn't appear in any of the Sutta's that I've read so if your goal is in line with such buddhist goals as gaining insight into yourself and relieving suffering, this may not be the best road to go down. I have, however, read scientific literature of comparative brain scans that distinguished two different types of meditation.
Type 1 was called open monitoring and is what you describe as choiceness awareness.
Type 2 was called focused awareness and involved an attentional anchor, such as the breath.

What the brain scans showed was that both groups had the same alterations to the brain except that the focused awareness group had increased size in areas associated with attention regulation. This suggests that with focused awareness you get the benefits of choiceness awareness as well as additional benefits of attention regulation.

I've really enjoyed this thread as I've been trying for the past year to release the tension I created (or became aware of) during a Goenka retreat. It has brought Vimalaramsi to my attention which I appreciate as his method seems similar to what I construed from reading the sutta's, (though I don't particularly find his attitude appealing). I've personally found that distinctions on anchors such as nose vs chest/abdomen makes much less difference than HOW you focus that attention. If you are striving as opposed to relaxing, you will build tension. If you do either correctly and achieve a calm, receptive state you will get results so long as you eventually move that awareness to the whole body, as is advised in the Sutta's.

 I hope this helps a bit.

Would you mind posting the study? That would be helpful.

yossarian

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Vipassana
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #43 on: May 20, 2014, 07:56:26 PM »
Would you mind posting the study? That would be helpful.

I haven't come back across it yet and it's been years since I read it so I forget where it's located. Here's an analytical comparison of the two types: http://brainimaging.waisman.wisc.edu/~lutz/Lutz_attention_regulation_monitoring_meditation_tics_2008.pdf

It's probably in the references but I don't have time to pick through them today, sorry.

Mindfullness

  • Member
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #44 on: May 20, 2014, 08:26:02 PM »
Would you mind posting the study? That would be helpful.

I haven't come back across it yet and it's been years since I read it so I forget where it's located. Here's an analytical comparison of the two types: http://brainimaging.waisman.wisc.edu/~lutz/Lutz_attention_regulation_monitoring_meditation_tics_2008.pdf

It's probably in the references but I don't have time to pick through them today, sorry.

Thanks!

J0rrit

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • -
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #45 on: May 22, 2014, 08:15:11 PM »
How do you guys concentrate on the breath? How do you find the balance between too less and too much concentration ?

VinceField

  • Guest
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #46 on: May 23, 2014, 02:49:05 AM »
The method I have been using taught by Vimalaramsi does not have one concentrate exclusively on the breath.

Quote
the instructions that the Buddha gave, very specifically said you tranquilize on the in-breath and you tranquilize on the out-breath.
In other words, when you breathe in, you’re not focusing on the breath; you see the breath and you relax; on the in-breath, you see the breath and you relax; on the out-breath, and you relax; on the in-breath, you relax; on the out-breath... that’s quite different from the way, in this country in particular, meditation is being taught. Meditation is being taught to focus very deeply on the tiny sensation of the breath, but there’s no relaxing that’s occurring.

Personally, I am only aware of my breath in the background of my awareness.  The foreground of my awareness is focused on relaxing and letting go of all tension in my mind and body.  It is probably a 75/25 split.  Although lately I have been experimenting with a fusion of metta where I simultaneously radiate loving kindness from my heart center while relaxing.  It has been working wonderfully- I find hinderances arise far less with metta and deeper states of tranquility are achieved.  It makes meditation far more enjoyable and has more of a positive effect on my mental state during normal activities as well- I am more tranquil and joyous after metta-tation.   :D

J0rrit

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • -
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #47 on: June 05, 2014, 01:25:20 PM »
ok. But there has to be some active focus of your awareness on the breath, right ?

On another forum a lot of people (among them a Monastic) told me to not actively focus anywhere and to not choose the meditation object at any time. Instead, just do nothing at wait till everything but the breath has been let go of, and therefore, is gone from your awareness.

I tried this last one, but I came to the conclusion that that doesn't work...Without actively aiming your awareness at the breath, it's (I think) not possible to let go of everything and end up with only awareness of the breath...

Comments on this ?

VinceField

  • Guest
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #48 on: June 05, 2014, 02:19:12 PM »
I believe the idea is that feeling the breath is actually the experience of the more noticeable natural movements and sensations within the body.  If one lets go of all mental activity, one is simply left with the experience of the body, which would be the sensations of breathing and whatever else may come up naturally, such as pain.  By letting go of all mental fabrications and physical tension, what is left is the pure experience of what is- the movements and sensations of the body.

J0rrit

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • -
Re: What is the best practice?
« Reply #49 on: June 05, 2014, 02:23:50 PM »
There are still sounds, tastes etc.? And why wouldn't awareness end up being stuck on the heartbeat for instance, if you don't make any active focus of awareness on the breath ?