Author Topic: How did you First learn to meditate?  (Read 5053 times)

Joseph Ng

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How did you First learn to meditate?
« on: February 25, 2016, 03:10:23 AM »
Just wondering how others first learned to meditate.

I first happened upon it because I was trying to get over some drug addiction and mental health issues...specifically anxiety and panic attacks. All the doctors and psychiatrists suggested it to be a complementary practice or therapy besides taking all the medication and such.

I learned from books and then eventually a medium gave me a mantra to try...I've since developed my own technique and have used guided meditations and isochronic tones.

How did you learn? Did somebody teach you?

tlandasedin

Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2016, 10:01:22 AM »
I first learned by watching a Youtube video awhile back because I was going through a depression. It said to watch your breath going in and out along with your belly rising and falling. I've meditated it on and off for the past year in different ways with no noticeable effects. But the past couple weeks I've been doing it for an hour every day and I've seen some noticeable improvements in my mental health. Has meditation been helping you?

rogp99

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2016, 05:28:16 PM »
My memories about that time was hazy though. When I was a kid, I had watched some kungfu movies on TV. I thought it was cool to sit cross-legged, motionlessly for a long time. Then I tried to do exactly that, it was simply a mind-blown experience. I forgot it and repicked meditation again when I realized the ugly side of life. Now I use belly breathing technique for my meditation.

Matthew

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2016, 07:34:33 AM »
After a few tries with local groups I decided to jump on in and lived and worked at a Buddhist meditation centre in France for eighteen months. Several resident and visiting teachers influenced my practice, Khandro Rinpoche, Kobun Chino Roshi and Shibata Sensei were important to the development of the practice. In terms of books, Thich Naht Hahn, Chogyam Trungpa, Sogyal, Suzuki and now the Nikaya Suttas. Alan Watts and many other audio and videos over the years since meditation became the biggest influence in my life.
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Suited4Battle

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2016, 11:02:30 PM »
I was first exposed to meditation when I started taking jivamukti yoga classes. I didn't realize that meditation was an intergral part of yoga at the time. At the end of class we do a few min of mindful meditation and the default mantra is let go.

Vivek

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2016, 08:44:48 AM »
Monro, the meditation instructions given in the home page of the forum may help you better grasp what mindfulness meditation is really about. Suggest you try the instructions.
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Suited4Battle

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2016, 10:31:28 PM »
I just read the instructions for calm abiding meditation on the homepage.
I think that's pretty much what I attempt to do. Is it bec I said we use a default mantra of let go?

Matthew

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2016, 07:33:19 PM »
Using a mantra can be useful practice for certain things. As the instructions on the homepage point out Shamatha is quite different: knowing mind through knowing breath, knowing and calming body ...
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Suited4Battle

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2016, 04:15:20 AM »
thanks for the reply, meditation is so interesting bec it seems so simple(and I think ultimately is) but it takes a lot of learning n work to understand this(or maybe the whole point is not to understand but just experience)

this may seem like a silly question but is this forum mainly about mindfulness meditation? I never heard of Shamatha meditation before and a definition I found was
 
Samatha (Pāli), (Sanskrit: शमथ, śamatha [note 1] is the Buddhist practice (bhāvanā) of the calming of the mind (citta) and its 'formations' (saṅkhāra). This is done by practicing single-pointed meditation most commonly through mindfulness of breathing. Samatha is common to all Buddhist traditions.

so the problem with the mantra is that it takes away from the focus of the breath? I can understand this in theory.  I didn't realize that using a mantra would make it something diff than mindfulness meditation. the mantra let go is directly linked to the breath as we focus on the inhale(let) and exhale(go)  I also specified this was a "default" mantra and I meant that if we had trouble staying focused on the breath then this mantra would help 

Also this thread was about how we first learned to meditate. Currently when I meditate(sometimes I'm not even sure if I'm meditating due to all these diff conditions or at very least not sure what type) I ideally just sit and breathe and observe my breath, body and thoughts.  I've wondered before if focusing on let go was somehow diminishing my focus bec they are words and inherently have "meaning" so now a typical session will have me mostly trying to just breathe and observe but when I find my thoughts increasing and my focus on breath decreasing, I will revert back to a mantra that specifically focuses on the inhale n exhale as this seems to help refocus my attention on the breath, do u think this is a "crutch" of sorts and ultimately counterproductive?

one of the questions I wanted to ask after joining was what do u guys think of visualizing words while meditating?(lol/I think I can guess the answer to this one now)
there's one teacher who mentions that visualizing words like let go can keep u more focused on the breath/mantra(I'm noticing the conflict)  This didn't seem natural to me at first but I have noticed that the rare times I have tried this, it seems to keep me more focused on the mantra than if I just mentally verbalize it with the breath   

 

mdr

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2016, 06:29:18 AM »

there's one teacher who mentions that visualizing words like let go can keep u more focused on the breath/mantra(I'm noticing the conflict)  This didn't seem natural to me at first but I have noticed that the rare times I have tried this, it seems to keep me more focused on the mantra than if I just mentally verbalize it with the breath   

Suited4Battle, i trust what Matthew says: 
Quote
Using a mantra can be useful practice for certain things. As the instructions on the homepage point out Shamatha is quite different: knowing mind through knowing breath, knowing and calming body ...

Myself, i learned to meditate in Goenka tradition, so i don't use mantras. I have this close friend, who learned to meditate with Sogyal Rinpoche, he (my friend) uses all kinds of visualizations, mantras and so on. He is more than satisfied with the results he's having, but it is very different practice from what i initially learned (and stick to).
We sit (meditate) together and i noticed he keeps his eyes open and breaths on mouth (vs us being thought to breathe on nose, and at least initially, keeping the eyes closed). He's equally amazed at what i do. It's different schools, like in every other tradition/ religion imho, mine works for me, probably something else is equally or even more effective for someone else.
Again, as my initial experience was as thought by late Ji Goenka, in meditation, i refrain from anything else, except observance of breath and the sensations. At the retreat i attended, they ( the teachers) really insisted on that. More so, after the retreat, a group that used to gather for sittings was asked NOT to attend if they were doing anything else, but what we were thought. (Yoga was ok though, you could do assanas besides, but only that and not in a manner of "devotion", ie. not as a religious practice.)

Attachless

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2016, 09:26:13 AM »
I`ve tried many different drugs in my youth, most influential being LSD and MDMA, LSD more in the long run, coupled with reading Eckhart Tolle at around that time (or little before), as well as stumbling over Osho and his talks, which are meant to, by the way he speaks, make your mind silent, and is less about the content of what is being said, by stopping in mid of sentences, where the mind would be still to curiously await what is going to be said next - although the stillness was of short duration, it gave me the taste, a few drops, that would make me hunger for more. Eventually, during a LSD trip, I had one moment of, I guess it was utter stillness and awareness, but to say it was would diminish what the experience was for me anyway, because it felt like I found all my answers, and the next moment it slipped away, was gone. I later found out in my life, after practice, that it was this moment of space in which I`d just observe, sitting, hearing, seeing, and of course, the moment I`d stop observe, "it was gone", too. So, without knowing what I had grasped on, I`d be searching, and eventually found it in meditation later on. What I expected from meditation, firstly, was bliss, so MDMA actually made me want to attempt one of Goenka`s 10 day retreats, because, if you go back from trying out many drugs, that make you blissful, to a "normal life", it takes even more to find meaning in the mundaneness, in the stress of everyday life, the anxiety of situations, of the future, etc., and it`s easy to find that in the drugs, because, normal life ain`t provide that. But I also didn`t want to go down the road of my father, so in meditation I searched. And I eventually found - and lost again, just to be found again, and this went on until the finding-periods got longer and the lost-periods shorter, which simply boil down to maintaining and applying actual practice and meditation in every moment, every day.

That`s how I would come to be interested, and eventually pursue meditation. And after I have tasted it, I fell back many times, but came back always. At some point I already knew I`d come back the moment I fell back, because past has shown no alternative for me. Now, even taking drugs will not fulfill - because a shift happened, from content, to context. So you could take a bath in high bliss and ecstasy, but you`d know that the fire heating the bathtube is in hell, and the moment you get out of that tube, that`s where you gonna be. I rather make effort getting out of hell, than taking blissful baths that only last so long and don`t change a thing.
to be or not to be - one hardly notices the subtlety

mdr

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2016, 09:48:10 AM »
Thank you for sharing your experience, Attachless.

if you go back from trying out many drugs, that make you blissful, to a "normal life", it takes even more to find meaning in the mundaneness, in the stress of everyday life, the anxiety of situations, of the future, etc., and it`s easy to find that in the drugs, because, normal life ain`t provide that.

I know...  :'(  i really have special admiration for people who messed with stuff and let it go afterwords, in my view it takes special kind of strength which i personally recognize instantly and do admire.

Quote
That`s how I would come to be interested, and eventually pursue meditation. And after I have tasted it, I fell back many times, but came back always.

That's the only thing that truly matters imo. Respect.

Attachless

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2016, 12:08:04 PM »

Quote
That`s how I would come to be interested, and eventually pursue meditation. And after I have tasted it, I fell back many times, but came back always.

That's the only thing that truly matters imo. Respect.

When I turned my back after trying stuff out and got interested in meditation and did my first course with 18 (and even before I got into meditation; I think there are several months in between these two events: turning my back on drugs and do my course, which I applied for immediately after I got to know of it, which was 3 months before). I broke up in January/February with drugs, and did the retreat in September, after some final events happened after silvester that made me decide to do that (and also turn my back to my former social circle, which left me alone and isolated too at that time, obviously). After that "breaking up" I did MDMA once a year, and mushroom or LSD once a year, responsibly, for the next two years, after that I dropped MDMA because I felt the artificialness, still doing LSD occasionally if there`s an intention or urge in me to explore something. I found it to be the only drug you can`t abuse, and that you always learn something from it. It`s tough to get addicted to LSD, because of its potential - anyway, not gonna make this topic into a drug topic lol with "fall back" I meant to stop meditating, occasionally smoke weed maybe, but otherwise, it was really just either stopping meditation and hence stopping growth, because the very act of stopping meditation was accompanied with not facing difficulties in my life, hiding, taking the easy and comfortable path etc., and when I would meditate, it would be hard to not be aware of me not facing these issues or areas I need to work on, or to hide, etc.

So generally it was back and forth between improvement in my life, and either staying where I am or regressing a bit - and this been always linked to whether I meditated or not. I wouldn`t regress much at all though, like I wouldn`t go back do drugs (because of the content - context thing), ain`t work in the long run, and for the short, mostly 1-2 days until I get fed up with it again. It`s still some road to getting the same or more meaning and joy, thrive and enthusiasm, and courage, out of life through conscious effort, intent and discipline, which involves meditationpractice all year round, as I would through the use or abuse of drugs - or "seemingly" would, of course. I`ve seen many cases where drugs wouldn`t make one happy (being an addict to heroin, or cocaine etc.) - just that the alternative was so much worser and harder than choosing just to go on, see what I`m saying? I think the whole addiction stuff is an illusion, just that the alternative is the more difficult path to take. If you want to be successful, which could simply mean, being content and happy with what is, or with what you choose to be to some degree. Once you`ve seen through that illusion of happiness through drugs, you`re left with the conscious decision to dull yourself, or to face the world, kind of, I guess. You can get high on drugs, or overeat, watch TV and stuff like that, you know. In both cases you`re not facing the world, and for sure you're not content and happy :-) So yeah, it has definetly helped and is still helping me, if not being an much integral of my life that I wouldn`t like to miss anymore, as I`m always turning back in case I turn my back, and that means something. I got over the drugs through my own experience and conclusion prior to meditation though. At least the "hard ones", including alcohol.
to be or not to be - one hardly notices the subtlety

mdr

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2016, 12:42:26 PM »

After that "breaking up" ...

I know what you mean exactly, in my mother tongue we use the same expression - to ''break up'' with old patterns/ bad habits etc.  :)
So generally it was back and forth between improvement in my life, and either staying where I am or regressing a bit -

Yep, for some reason the way out is always like that, a bit forward, bit back, until one makes it. I feel from your enthusiasm and sincerity that you are quite young and albeit i know you only from posts here, i feel proud of you and of the decisions you are making. Keep up the good work.  :)
« Last Edit: March 20, 2016, 12:44:16 PM by mdr »

Attachless

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2016, 02:01:42 PM »
I feel from your enthusiasm and sincerity that you are quite young and albeit i know you only from posts here, i feel proud of you and of the decisions you are making. Keep up the good work.  :)

:-) Does that imply though that enthusiasm and sincerity decreases as one gets older and as life "eats one out"? I mean, there`s a saying which says that life is pressure - some get stomped, some get diamonds. It`s not about whether life is full of pressure or not, it`s how .. you know. I`ve been quite depressed and anthusiastic, if you know what I mean^^, for quite some long periods of my life, so I don`t account enthusiasm and sincerity to my age (22), but to my decisions, and the results of the actions I`m taking, or trying to take (more) bit by bit. In that sense, my enthusiasm and sincerity should only grow as I grow and get older. If that`s not so for many other people, that seems to not be my destiny, hopefully, :-) It took me quite some work to get thriven (and it still does, really), so if young age has enthusiasm and sincerity from the get-go, I wonder where it is. It seems like something that needs work, and be sustained. Or better yet, trained, like a muscle, and the more you do it, the stronger it gets.

That`s my point of view anyway. I know many people go the other way around, from thrive to .. yeah. not thriving lol. I come from the other direction, I had my midlife crisis at the beginning already. At least I`m gonna know who I am after that, in case it turns out good. See you in a couple of years, to conclude :-P
to be or not to be - one hardly notices the subtlety

mdr

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2016, 03:56:44 PM »
I feel from your enthusiasm and sincerity that you are quite young and albeit i know you only from posts here, i feel proud of you and of the decisions you are making. Keep up the good work.  :)

:-) Does that imply though that enthusiasm and sincerity decreases as one gets older and as life "eats one out"? I mean, there`s a saying which says that life is pressure - some get stomped, some get diamonds. It`s not about whether life is full of pressure or not, it`s how .. you know. I`ve been quite depressed and anthusiastic, if you know what I mean^^, for quite some long periods of my life, so I don`t account enthusiasm and sincerity to my age (22), but to my decisions, and the results of the actions I`m taking, or trying to take (more) bit by bit. In that sense, my enthusiasm and sincerity should only grow as I grow and get older. If that`s not so for many other people, that seems to not be my destiny, hopefully, :-) It took me quite some work to get thriven (and it still does, really), so if young age has enthusiasm and sincerity from the get-go, I wonder where it is. It seems like something that needs work, and be sustained. Or better yet, trained, like a muscle, and the more you do it, the stronger it gets.

That`s my point of view anyway. I know many people go the other way around, from thrive to .. yeah. not thriving lol. I come from the other direction, I had my midlife crisis at the beginning already. At least I`m gonna know who I am after that, in case it turns out good. See you in a couple of years, to conclude :-P

Lol, yes, definitely, if i am around this realm!  :D Oh, don't get me wrong pls, i wouldn't go back to my own 20ies for the life of me, and i am not sure there's such thing as "middle - life" crises, but that age has certain qualities that distinguish it  (in my humble opinion, once again.) I couldn't wait to become 30+, then 35+, because i am from a culture where some things are possible only when you are of " respectful " age. (I am referring to advancement in career mostly, but to some other aspects of life too.) But honestly, as much as i think meditation and the occult have not only profoundly changed my life, but have literally saved it from being wasted - if i wasn't introduced to it at 20 something, i doubt i'd ever start doing anything. At this age (which i love being for many reasons) i personally am too this and that (careful if nothing else) so to jump into new experiences without looking back. I wouldn't (and couldn't) leave everything behind so to relocate to Asia to gain new experiences. I'd be scared to experiment because i have people and animals who depend on me. Stuff like that.  :angel:
Like, all wisdom starts from (a bit of) foolishness, and the foolishness is really better gone through when younger, something like that  ;)

ETA: oops, the thread got diverted ... let us go back to the topic.  i apologize.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2016, 04:17:46 PM by mdr »

Suited4Battle

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2016, 09:57:29 PM »
Monro, the meditation instructions given in the home page of the forum may help you better grasp what mindfulness meditation is really about. Suggest you try the instructions.

thanks for this recommendation, I thought that I could practice mindfulness meditation and sometimes use a mantra to assist me in following the breath, particularly when I noticed my attention leaving the breath, now I realize that this is counterproductive to what I was trying to do and not mindfulness meditation. For the past few days when I meditate and start to go to a mantra, I let that go and just try to focus on the breath and just sit and be. I've noticed a slight difference. I always thought that using a mantra was somehow taking away from my meditation or was in conflict bec of the fact that words have meaning, now I think its not the meaning of the words that's the true problem but that I'm "creating" something with the mantra, almost like I'm bringing an agenda of sorts to the my meditation 

Matthew

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2016, 09:30:51 AM »
thanks for the reply, meditation is so interesting bec it seems so simple(and I think ultimately is) but it takes a lot of learning n work to understand this(or maybe the whole point is not to understand but just experience)

It is simple at heart and it is experiential, not wordy understanding that you need.

this may seem like a silly question but is this forum mainly about mindfulness meditation? I never heard of Shamatha meditation before and a definition I found was
 
Samatha (Pāli), (Sanskrit: शमथ, śamatha [note 1] is the Buddhist practice (bhāvanā) of the calming of the mind (citta) and its 'formations' (saṅkhāra). This is done by practicing single-pointed meditation most commonly through mindfulness of breathing. Samatha is common to all Buddhist traditions.

All meditation is about mindfulness. Not only mindfulness yet it is a key ingredient.

It might help to understand that "Shamatha" means calm and "Vipassana" means insight - strictly speaking there is no such thing as Shamatha or Vipassana meditation, though some meditations aim to induce one quality of mind over the other, all meditations will produce the two at some point - as both Shamatha and Vipassana are fruits of meditation. The Maha-Anapanasati Sutta goes into depth on the subject of mindfulness of breathing - you can read several versions at www.accesstoinsight.org

This section of the Wikipedia page is helpful too:

Quote from: Wikipedia
Etymology

The semantic field of shi and shama is "pacification", "the slowing or cooling down", "rest". The semantic field of né is "to abide or remain" and this is cognate or equivalent with the final syllable of the Sanskrit, thā.

The Tibetan term for samatha is shyiné (Wylie: zhi-gnas). According to Jamgon Kongtrul, the terms refer to "peace" and "pacification" of the mind and the thoughts.[3]

Theravāda

Function


In the Pali canon, the Noble Eightfold Path can be summarized into three divisions, namely morality (śīla), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (pañña). Mindfulness of breathing leads the practitioner into concentration (samadhi), the domain of experience wherein the senses are subdued and the mind abides in uninterrupted concentration upon the object (i.e., the breath), if not in meditative absorption (Dhyāna). It is the condition for insight (vipassana) and subsequently the development of liberating wisdom (pañña). In Theravada-Buddhism morality (śīla) is understood to be a stable foundation upon which to attain samatha. Samatha and vipassana form an integral part of the Noble Eightfold Path as described by the Buddha in his core teaching, the Four Noble Truths. The Fourth Noble Truth, "The Way to the End of Suffering", encompassing sila, samadhi and pañña, is very much a path inviting practitioners to live by sila, samadhi and pañña.

Samatha (calm) is considered to be a prerequisite of concentration. In terms of meditative practices samatha refers to techniques which assist in the calming of the mind. One of the principal techniques taught by the Buddha for this purpose is mindfulness of breathing (Pali: anapanasati). This practice is also used in order to concentrate the mind. As such, samatha meditation and concentration meditation are often considered synonymous. The goal is the establishing of mindfulness as used in conjunction with insight (P: vipassanā; S: vipaśyanā) practices, inquiry into the nature of the object, such as those encountered in the dzogchen tradition, resulting in wisdom (P: paññā, S: prajñā). Samatha is commonly practiced as a prelude to and in conjunction with wisdom practices.

Through the meditative development of calm abiding, one is able to suppress the obscuring five hindrances. With the suppression of these hindrances, the meditative development of insight yields liberating wisdom.

Objects of meditation

Some meditation practices such as contemplation of a kasina object favor the development of samatha, others such as contemplation of the aggregates are conducive to the development of vipassana, while others such as mindfulness of breathing are classically used for developing both mental qualities.

In the Theravada tradition there are forty objects of meditation. Mindfulness (sati) of breathing (ānāpāna: ānāpānasati; S. ānāpānasmṛti) is the most common samatha practice. Samatha can include other samādhi practices as well.



so the problem with the mantra is that it takes away from the focus of the breath? I can understand this in theory.  I didn't realize that using a mantra would make it something diff than mindfulness meditation. the mantra let go is directly linked to the breath as we focus on the inhale(let) and exhale(go)  I also specified this was a "default" mantra and I meant that if we had trouble staying focused on the breath then this mantra would help 

Mantra is a considered a form of mindfulness meditation and falls into the division of one which will generate Shamatha (Calm) and Samadhi (Concentration). It can also be used by repeating the Brahmaviharas to develop compassion and generosity towards others for example.

The instructions of the Buddha on mindfulness of breathing don't suggest mantra - I'd put it in the category of a crutch to help a beginner focus the mind on the object, and something therefore to be stripped away once you can do so without, so to the below, yes:

... I will revert back to a mantra that specifically focuses on the inhale n exhale as this seems to help refocus my attention on the breath, do u think this is a "crutch" of sorts and ultimately counterproductive?

one of the questions I wanted to ask after joining was what do u guys think of visualizing words while meditating?(lol/I think I can guess the answer to this one now)....
   

The answer I would say is "Keep it simple". Fancy multi-object meditations are more likely a distraction than something that will progressively strip the layers of conditioning and bring you into your body, mind and the present.

This was the information about ego that someone referred to (I've been writing this post for several days .... moving home at the moment and being messed around big time):

Quote from: Matthew
One of the things that may be very confusing for you is that the Buddhist ego is a totally different beast to the ego of western psychological theories. I know not many people stick strictly to Freud's schema of Ego, Super-ego and Id these days but a lot of it is still around those core ideas.

In Buddhism ego encompasses subconscious and conscious processes. The five Skandhas (heaps of habits) make up the ego, the false self identified both consciously and subconsciously as "I, me and mine".

It's very different to any concept of ego in Western psychology as far as I know.

Quote
almost like I'm bringing an agenda of sorts to the my meditation

That you do not want to do.
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Jen

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2016, 04:00:57 PM »
I was 14 when I first read about Buddhism (in my high school world history book, interestingly enough) and was drawn to it. Around that time I must have come across something about breath meditation, because I remember sitting in my living room with my eyes closed, trying to be aware of the breath. I thought it was the weirdest thing ever, haha. I dabbled off and on over the years but was never sure I was "doing it right". I discovered Goenka's Vipassana courses when I was 20 or so, and knew I wanted to try it, but it took a decade of me signing up for courses and canceling at the last minute to finally get up the courage/resolve to go to a course and stay. After my first course in 2011, I finally felt confident that I knew how to meditate.  :)
As an archer aims an arrow, as a carpenter carves wood, the wise shape their lives.

Suited4Battle

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Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2016, 09:04:12 PM »
thanks for the reply, meditation is so interesting bec it seems so simple(and I think ultimately is) but it takes a lot of learning n work to understand this(or maybe the whole point is not to understand but just experience)

It is simple at heart and it is experiential, not wordy understanding that you need.

this may seem like a silly question but is this forum mainly about mindfulness meditation? I never heard of Shamatha meditation before and a definition I found was
 
Samatha (Pāli), (Sanskrit: शमथ, śamatha [note 1] is the Buddhist practice (bhāvanā) of the calming of the mind (citta) and its 'formations' (saṅkhāra). This is done by practicing single-pointed meditation most commonly through mindfulness of breathing. Samatha is common to all Buddhist traditions.

All meditation is about mindfulness. Not only mindfulness yet it is a key ingredient.

It might help to understand that "Shamatha" means calm and "Vipassana" means insight - strictly speaking there is no such thing as Shamatha or Vipassana meditation, though some meditations aim to induce one quality of mind over the other, all meditations will produce the two at some point - as both Shamatha and Vipassana are fruits of meditation. The Maha-Anapanasati Sutta goes into depth on the subject of mindfulness of breathing - you can read several versions at www.accesstoinsight.org

This section of the Wikipedia page is helpful too:

Quote from: Wikipedia
Etymology

The semantic field of shi and shama is "pacification", "the slowing or cooling down", "rest". The semantic field of né is "to abide or remain" and this is cognate or equivalent with the final syllable of the Sanskrit, thā.

The Tibetan term for samatha is shyiné (Wylie: zhi-gnas). According to Jamgon Kongtrul, the terms refer to "peace" and "pacification" of the mind and the thoughts.[3]

Theravāda

Function


In the Pali canon, the Noble Eightfold Path can be summarized into three divisions, namely morality (śīla), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (pañña). Mindfulness of breathing leads the practitioner into concentration (samadhi), the domain of experience wherein the senses are subdued and the mind abides in uninterrupted concentration upon the object (i.e., the breath), if not in meditative absorption (Dhyāna). It is the condition for insight (vipassana) and subsequently the development of liberating wisdom (pañña). In Theravada-Buddhism morality (śīla) is understood to be a stable foundation upon which to attain samatha. Samatha and vipassana form an integral part of the Noble Eightfold Path as described by the Buddha in his core teaching, the Four Noble Truths. The Fourth Noble Truth, "The Way to the End of Suffering", encompassing sila, samadhi and pañña, is very much a path inviting practitioners to live by sila, samadhi and pañña.

Samatha (calm) is considered to be a prerequisite of concentration. In terms of meditative practices samatha refers to techniques which assist in the calming of the mind. One of the principal techniques taught by the Buddha for this purpose is mindfulness of breathing (Pali: anapanasati). This practice is also used in order to concentrate the mind. As such, samatha meditation and concentration meditation are often considered synonymous. The goal is the establishing of mindfulness as used in conjunction with insight (P: vipassanā; S: vipaśyanā) practices, inquiry into the nature of the object, such as those encountered in the dzogchen tradition, resulting in wisdom (P: paññā, S: prajñā). Samatha is commonly practiced as a prelude to and in conjunction with wisdom practices.

Through the meditative development of calm abiding, one is able to suppress the obscuring five hindrances. With the suppression of these hindrances, the meditative development of insight yields liberating wisdom.

Objects of meditation

Some meditation practices such as contemplation of a kasina object favor the development of samatha, others such as contemplation of the aggregates are conducive to the development of vipassana, while others such as mindfulness of breathing are classically used for developing both mental qualities.

In the Theravada tradition there are forty objects of meditation. Mindfulness (sati) of breathing (ānāpāna: ānāpānasati; S. ānāpānasmṛti) is the most common samatha practice. Samatha can include other samādhi practices as well.



so the problem with the mantra is that it takes away from the focus of the breath? I can understand this in theory.  I didn't realize that using a mantra would make it something diff than mindfulness meditation. the mantra let go is directly linked to the breath as we focus on the inhale(let) and exhale(go)  I also specified this was a "default" mantra and I meant that if we had trouble staying focused on the breath then this mantra would help 

Mantra is a considered a form of mindfulness meditation and falls into the division of one which will generate Shamatha (Calm) and Samadhi (Concentration). It can also be used by repeating the Brahmaviharas to develop compassion and generosity towards others for example.

The instructions of the Buddha on mindfulness of breathing don't suggest mantra - I'd put it in the category of a crutch to help a beginner focus the mind on the object, and something therefore to be stripped away once you can do so without, so to the below, yes:

... I will revert back to a mantra that specifically focuses on the inhale n exhale as this seems to help refocus my attention on the breath, do u think this is a "crutch" of sorts and ultimately counterproductive?

one of the questions I wanted to ask after joining was what do u guys think of visualizing words while meditating?(lol/I think I can guess the answer to this one now)....
   

The answer I would say is "Keep it simple". Fancy multi-object meditations are more likely a distraction than something that will progressively strip the layers of conditioning and bring you into your body, mind and the present.

This was the information about ego that someone referred to (I've been writing this post for several days .... moving home at the moment and being messed around big time):

Quote from: Matthew
One of the things that may be very confusing for you is that the Buddhist ego is a totally different beast to the ego of western psychological theories. I know not many people stick strictly to Freud's schema of Ego, Super-ego and Id these days but a lot of it is still around those core ideas.

In Buddhism ego encompasses subconscious and conscious processes. The five Skandhas (heaps of habits) make up the ego, the false self identified both consciously and subconsciously as "I, me and mine".

It's very different to any concept of ego in Western psychology as far as I know.

Quote
almost like I'm bringing an agenda of sorts to the my meditation

That you do not want to do.

thanks so much for the responses and recommendations, I remember reading your response in another thread about the big diff between Buddhist ego and western ego and I was still a little confused, I'm going to explore this more

Yes2life

  • Member
  • Meditation teacher
Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2016, 06:00:01 AM »
Choose your mantra.
Find a comfortable place to sit.
Gently close your eyes and begin by taking some deep breaths
Begin repeating your mantra silently to yourself without moving your tongue or lips
Stop repeating the mantra

smritiyoga

  • Member
  • Smriti Yoga
    • smritiyoga
Re: How did you First learn to meditate?
« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2016, 10:41:26 AM »
Steps to do meditate

Sit for just two minutes
Check in with how you’re feeling.
Count your breaths
Develop a loving attitude.
Don’t worry too much that you’re doing it wrong
Notice the light, sounds, energy

 

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