Author Topic: Practising ONE meditation or several types ?  (Read 1518 times)

Thomas87

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Practising ONE meditation or several types ?
« on: August 10, 2014, 02:43:44 PM »
Hello !

I'm new here, first I should say that I'm very happy and grateful to have the opportunity to ask/discuss on this forum, where I saw lots of experienced and well intentioned people :).

I come here to ask advice about my own practice. I've been meditating for a few years with great interest but not much discipline and a very irregular practice. I practise maybe 30min  a day on average, although I'd really need to go further for a more stable and serene life...I have quite a lot of time for that, but struggle to do it, maybe due to me keeping searching for a more efficient way to meditate instead of putting in the hours (I know it's stupid :) and on the other hand I can't help but think it seems logical to look for how to get the best of it !).

So here I am once again, questioning about my practice ;).
So that you understand better what I'm looking for : my "goal" with meditation would be to be able to let go more easily of my negative emotions and thoughts feeding each other, because I often make myself miserable with that classical process. This is one of my more important struggle in life. Judging things like my girlfriend, the events and situations in life etc. I'm an optimistic in some part, but "negative mental activity feeding negative emotions with judgement in it"-cycle, regularly beat me down. Even if I'm aware of it in some part, I still suffer from it a lot.

My meditation basically consists of breathing and body awareness, and trying to accept and let go. I try to "be the breath and the body" instead of being my mental activity etc. Part of the instructions for this meditation comes from what I've read on this forum. A lot of my comprehension of human mind comes from the Power of Now (Am I allowed to cite this book ?), which helped me a lot to be honest.

So here is my question, does a single meditation really is "enough" for progressing toward more serenity and acceptation, and detaching from the mental activity and emotions ? Plus cultivating positive emotions seems really important to me, but I don't know if really they should appear naturally through meditating, or if specifically cultivating them is recommended ?
I suspect that I could benefit from implementing other meditation types :
- meditation specifically on thoughts, and emotions
- developing gratitude, compassion, love, satisfaction...
And besides that, I know that reading the power of now helps me a lot, you experienced meditators certainly read some material, how important is the time you read for you progress, would you recommend that I include that as a specific part of my program ? (I know my approach might be too systematic and "mind built", but for now I guess I should profit from it even if it's not ideal...). And if so, do you have specific powerful reading to recommend, given that I'm not using my full time for that ?
Specific exercises ? I'm much into exercise, cold shower etc, if you have something to say about it or some other practice that you might recommend, please go ahead :).
For example I read here about vagal nerve stimulation benefits, do some of you use specific breathing exercises besides meditation for doing that ?

Of course, your spiritual experience might lead you to not answer directly and rather point the inherent mistakes in my post, I'm aware of that and that's perfectly fine if you can point some leaks of my approach :)
Any other advice, comment of any kind or digression are welcome off course !


Thank you a lot, I feel I'm asking a lot !

I wish you the best :)

Thomas.

VinceField

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Re: Practising ONE meditation or several types ?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2014, 07:12:10 PM »
Hello friend  :)

One thing I would absolutely recommend is listening to dhamma talks and reading about the teachings whenever you can.  The more time put into studying in your free time away from meditation, the more your mind will become inclined to putting these teachings into practice.  And of course, the more time you put into an effective meditation practice, the faster you will develop along the path.

The Power of Now helped me back when it first came out, but back then I didn't know much about Buddhism.  I would choose dhamma teachings over Tolle any day of the week. 

I am currently studying Thanissaro Bhikkuh and Ajahn Brahm.  I do believe the teachings of these monks would be a good start.  Their meditation methods are slightly different, yet complimentary.  I have assimilated aspects of both teacher's methods into what I believe to be one solid practice and I have been really making progress with it.

I started a serious daily meditation routine a little more than three months ago, and I have just now began to settle into what I believe is an effective method of practice.  I was bouncing from one technique to the next every coulple of weeks, looking for the best method.  The more I learned from both studying dhamma and meditating, the more I was lead away from the methods that I had initially started with and the more I began to understand what the elements of a truly effective practice was. 

Compared to when I started three months ago, there has been an enormous improvement in not just my states of body and mind cultivated during my meditation sittings, but also in my daily life, thanks to dedicated practice and study.  I'm not sure that the Power of Now alone will suffice if you really want to develop.  I spend at least two hours a day studying dhamma teachings and at least one hour a day meditating in case you were curious as to the time I put in.  Although sometimes I'll put up to three hours meditating and spend the rest of the day studying if I have the time.  I don't believe I would have gotten the results I have reaped thus far had I not been as dedicated.  This path has become my priority, my way of life.  It is a wonderful thing.  I do believe this attitude is necessary if true growth is desired.

I found that regular yoga (I practice kriya and kundalini yoga) is also helpful, as it loosens and strengthens my body for meditation sittings.  And of course, a healthy diet and proper exercise is a must. 

Good luck bro, take care.

J0rrit

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Re: Practising ONE meditation or several types ?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2014, 09:37:15 PM »
Hello Vincefield,

I'm curious in how you meditate now? Combining different aspects of the two techniques of Brahm and Bikkhu. And what do you think are the elements of an effective practice?

Greets

VinceField

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Re: Practising ONE meditation or several types ?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2014, 11:47:30 PM »
I use Thanissaro's methods of breath work, and I use Brahm's method of letting go and breath awareness, each in varying degrees at varying times in the session depending on what is needed in the moment.   I also use Brahm's advice of affirming my goals for the meditation session beforehand.  I find it helps to keep me focused.  And of course, I start my sessions by cultivating metta for myself, my family, friends, and all living beings, as both teachers instruct. 

I actually use a Tao meditation technique called the "Inner Smile" at the very beginning of my sessions as well.  It is simply amazing.  It really gets me in touch with my body and cultivates genuine happiness and love towards my body and mind.  I also do various other Tao meditation techniques during my yoga sessions, which I generally do right before my meditation sessions.  They are really amazing at getting one in touch with one's inner energies, freeing energy blockages and loosening up the flow of energy in the body, among other things. 

The elements of an effective meditation practice can be found in the teachings of the eight-fold path, although it seems that three are especially crucial for meditation- right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.  These three aspects of the eight-fold path are contained in the teachings and meditation instructions of both teachers.

By the way, you can just call me Vince ;)

bomega

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Re: Practising ONE meditation or several types ?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2014, 12:12:40 AM »
Hi Thomas,

I thought the following reply to a recent question was perfect:
Therein lies the challenge. We'd like it to be a case of "sit in the lotus position facing North and hum for 5 mins", but for me it's very much a gradual process combining practice with insights. Over time it becomes far less forced as you practice more. Some personal "stepping stones":
- don't worry about whether you're doing it right
- don't expect things to happen like you might read in a book, because of the nature of how a mind develops over time it's not going to follow a strictly linear path
- listen to as many Dharma talks as you can. Most of my days start with a 30-60 min walk which I would use to listen to Dharma talks (less so now) just to give you a broad based understanding of the philosophy and psychology involved. Try to vary nationalities of teachers, Americans can tend to be a bit airy fairy (although maybe that's because there's a commercial element in a lot of them), Brits can be a bit more blunt, there might be cultural differences with other nationalities, etc (sorry if these generalizations irk).
- make it through as many sittings as you can, you might want to bail out during a "bad" one but these can be both beneficial and encourage discipline

Eventually (and it might take years) you should find your mind being less hyperactive and more content with just sitting there. I guess if you wanted to know a typical "technique" of a sitting for me, I pay attention to the breath coming in and going out (although never a specific area), that relaxes my mind and then I get to sit there and enjoy nothing.

I have a ways to go.
Ok...although I have dabbled in meditation, I am still very new to the practice, and especially this time around. However, while I agree that dhamma talks and readings are important, personally, I would prioritize your meditation sits over study, only because my experience was that by keeping my sits, I found myself naturally gravitating to wanting to learn more about it, and hence I arrived at the study naturally, based on what I needed on my path at the time. I really liked the Power of Now. I especially appreciated how Tolle said that the beauty of following the breath in meditation is that your breath always happens in the Now, and so you have to stay in the Now to accomplish this type of meditation.

I loosely do a yoga practice (I am also currently doing another isometric exercise called T-Tapp), and I get from yoga something similar to meditation. I have been reading Erich Schiffmann's The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness, and he talks about how yoga teaches you to be present in action. I certainly have gotten that from doing yoga, and yoga is unique from other exercise in that it requires it to do it. But you can take the mindfulness you get from yoga or your meditation sits and apply it to any exercise, so do what you feel like your body needs, or something that interests you.

I have been exploring my emotions and responses to the world in addition to my spiritual practice, and have found journaling to be very helpful for processing my emotions and reactions to the world. The way I recently learned is basically stream-of-consciousness, pencil-to-paper, whatever-blurts-out, and if nothing is blurting then keep the pencil moving with stuff like "I have nothing else to say. I have nothing to say. This is stupid. I'm hungry. I have a ton of things to do today. I have nothing else to say." It sounds silly but the benefits I get from this process is like meditation. I feel more balanced. At times I have gotten emotional release and insights. At the least I get a chance to vent to a piece of paper that doesn't judge me nor can be hurt by what I say. I read that you should do it for 750 words. I do it for a half hour before my meditation sit.

You asked about the vagus nerve stimulation...I think if you sit with good posture and allow your body to breath naturally, you stimulate the vagus nerve (because it passes through the diaphragm on its way to the rest of the body.) Here is a little tip from Katy Bowman on sitting with good posture, whether you sit on the floor or in a chair (and good to use on and off your meditation sit): If you have (or want to prevent) PFD, get off of your sacrum!. (You might want to turn down your sound. I thought it was funny, but some people thought it was annoying. :).) Did you read the meditation instruction on the main page of this forum? That will do it. Really, if you stick with the practice in a disciplined but relaxed way, you will find that you are your own teacher and guide and you will find yourself at whatever resources you need.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 12:14:45 AM by bomega »

Thomas87

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Re: Practising ONE meditation or several types ?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 08:36:54 PM »
Thanks for your great responses ! :)

Vince, I began Downloading Thanissaro Bhikkhu's material, I'll definitely work on that first, thank you. Yes I guess Eckhart Tolle won't be enough forever, which is why I'm happy to have something serious to discover !
From what I've seen on myself, no secret as you say : the more I practise/read, the better !

Bomega, I'll try implementing journaling a little, I already saw the value of it but never sticked to it...I'll try to do it for just a few minutes and see :). Listening while walking seems good to me, I'll try that.
I perfectly agree, having to sit forces us to question more about what we're doing and want to find more about it in teachings, so it's true that sitting as a first stone helps kick starting the practice, even if both being exposed to teachings and meditating seem equally important for non-advanced folks like me :).

(Yes I already read the main page advice :))

I'll come back later to give some update about my progress.

take care.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 09:57:34 PM by Thomas87 »

 

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