Author Topic: Quieting the mind  (Read 147 times)

strawberryjen

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Quieting the mind
« on: November 01, 2017, 10:43:20 AM »
Dear all,

I have not long returned from my 10 day Vipassana retreat in which I really struggled! I noticed the busyness of my mind, yet at the same time, the futility of its contents. My attempts to meditate were more like one-hour sittings of constant thinking. Returning to the breath was helpful, but the chatter went on in the background, usually accompanied by a backing track. I know that in order to progress on the path, I need to detach from my mind and body but I am finding this so challenging. My mind is almost constantly busy and the only times I had some respite were sitting outside in nature, looking at the sky. I know that craving a silent mind is still craving, but I find it difficult to observe without being enticed by what it has to offer. I was wondering if anyone could lend some support or advice as I really want to be able to achieve a more peaceful and serene existence than the panicked and anxious life I am currently leading.

Much love,

Jen

Alex

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Re: Quieting the mind
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2017, 02:13:32 PM »
Hi Jen

Your 10 day course seems very fruitful to me. It lead you to realize that
  • There is a lot of thinking.
  • Under some conditions (like being in nature) there is less thinking.
  • There is craving for thinking to stop.
  • You can't quieten the mind by actively doing or trying something.
  • Returning to the breath doesn’t add to the mental chatter (even though it doesn’t stop you from thinking all together)
Seems like interesting and important insights to build upon.

So, keep at it: Let things be just as they are. Gently return to the breath. Repeat.

Kindly
Alex

dharma bum

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Re: Quieting the mind
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2017, 03:20:20 PM »
good advice from Alex. sometimes when it all gets very complicated, i start a meditation session by reminding myself that my task for the next 30-60 minutes is to just breathe in and out. that's it.
Mostly ignorant

strawberryjen

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Re: Quieting the mind
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2017, 04:38:35 PM »
Thank you both so much! Yes, I think beginning a meditation session by giving myself permission to just breathe in and out is really helpful. Alex, I really liked your spin on my experience! Here I was, thinking that I had gained nothing from my retreat, but actually I gained a great deal of insight. I just wonder if focusing on the breath will ever take me to liberation... :(

Alex

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Re: Quieting the mind
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2017, 12:13:05 PM »
Hey Jen

Yes, you learned from your experience! And it’s so easy to (dis)miss these things if we focus on what’s wrong or on some distant or future objective…

This goes to the core of what a contemplative practice is about: don’t try to be anywhere else. Instead open your mind and heart to what is present right here, right now. This is what transforms us, and frees us from our habitual tendencies.
This happens, gradually, and fortunately also in a different way then you conceive beforehand.

Also, reflecting on what it is you need right now could prove to be beneficial. Your postings suggest that you’re dealing with anxiety. This might bring a sense of urgency to your meditation (expectations, necessity, intense craving). Maybe it would be wise to address the anxiety in a therapeutic context and return to meditation when there is a little less urgency. Just a suggestion… only you can feel what you need. Meditation and therapy also work very well together.

Kindly
Alex

Laurent

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Re: Quieting the mind
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2017, 12:49:11 PM »
According to the buddha, the fact that there are thoughts won't bears you from reaching liberation, but aversion and/or craving for them will.
Just like you learnt in this 10 days course, to observe sensations without craving or aversion -you don't want to make sensations to vanish- in the same way, couldn't you observe thoughts without willing them to vanish?
You don't want to modify anything, you just observe things as they are, body, sensations, and mental.
If you find much difficulties to switch from giving attention back in your mental chattering again and again, to constant presence in observation, where chattering is just a phenomenon like others: sounds, pains etc...all phenomenons, mentally noticing can help. You just replace mental chattering with conscious thoughts. This can be thoughts of wisdom related to experience, like noticing impermanence or dukkha, or just noticing that there is a phenomenon like "i inspire". There is always something to notice in reality. Right thoughts and speech are also parts of the Noble Path.
I hope not to say something that could mislead. Read Suttas, especially the ones related to meditation, it will help you.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2017, 12:52:19 PM by Laurent »

Matthew

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Re: Quieting the mind
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2017, 06:39:45 PM »
The mind quiets itself if you keep at it. Alex' advice is very plain and true.
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