Author Topic: Few questions about concentration during practice  (Read 211 times)

Heitentinger

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Few questions about concentration during practice
« on: January 19, 2019, 03:33:47 PM »
Hello everybody !

First of all, let me introduce myself. I am a student of 23 years old and come from switzerland. I have been practising meditation for about 2 years now almost daily. I am very happy to have found this forum because every french forum I visited so far were dead (never any answer). So let me appologize because there might be a few gramatical errors, and it's probablly going to be a very long post.

I first came to meditation trhee years ago, by trying a Vipassana retreat of 10 days. I wanted to be able to calm my mind that was (and sometimes still is) continuously building imaginary scenarios about anything that was quite tiresome.
But taking into acount I didn't know anything about meditation (thought I would have some vision and "fight my deamons" litterraly) and didn't realise my deamons were :  impatience and lust of new experience, I only could stay for 1 day before litteraly break up from anger and left the retreat. The fact that I have trouble with authority was also a big point because we were "forced" of meditating even when we whished a pause.

I still noticed a few benefits when leaving so I decided to try it less harder at home.

one year later I started to practice seriously (about half an hour a day). And started to understand what meditating was really about.
My problem is, I don't know anybody who could give me theoretical advices, and sometimes I ask myself what I could do better to meditate "deaper". This is why I come to you dear reader.

My main problem is sometimes to keep focus.
Sometimes I don't have to force it and I can wheather practice a "goenka style" meditation being totally focused on my breath, or even easier practice a "mindfullness" = "accept and observe everything that presents in the moment". And I whish I could meditate like this everytime.

Some other times, It's really hard to get into it and sometimes I can't even meditate. I sit, and start to try focusing on my breath but then, I keep observing my breath but my brains starts to observe it as a parralel task and is mainly into my inner chatters. As if I could observe myself (at least a part of it) and at the same time thinking about lot of things.

The thoughts that disturbs me the most are the ones that are analysing what is actually going on right now. Is this the present moment too ? because some thought might be : "oh you are again thinking about what you are thinking, so now stop thinking but now I am thinking that I have to stop thinking". So in a way I seem to observe my thoughts as everything else. but this doesn't calm me as if I stay totally in emotional and physical senses without bringing the mental into it.

So I would like you to exchange with me a few tips you have to entirely dedicate your mental to observation of the other parts of being, because I feel that observing the mental with the mental makes like an "infinite loop"  ;) informaticians.

I tried to observe with the heart the mental but in this case I totally lose control and don't even notice that my mental has gone and I start thinking about things that have nothing to do with the present moment. The only thing that seems to help is doing sport before or start with hypnoses (on youtube).

I now am thinking to do a Viapassana retreat again, but the kind of meditation they practise "only focus on breath and nothing else" seems a bit counterproductive to me because it fights against natural pulsions and emotions we have instead of noticing them and escort them to liberation.


To resume :
 - how to calm the mental in the beginning of meditation so it doesn't spend the next half hour to observe itself.
 - is thinking about present thoughts living the present moment ? or is it already thinking ?
 - any tips for this ?
 - Is it a good idea to start Vipassana again taking into account I didn't last 2 days last time ?


 Thank you a lot for your answer and wish you the best.

PS : I am a heavy maryhuana smoker (but never before meditating), could this lead to concentration problems ? (I don't have any concentration problems in other aspects of my life)

« Last Edit: January 19, 2019, 03:38:11 PM by Heitentinger »
You can never be sure to really understand something, until you are certain you can't totally understand it.

Matthew

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Re: Few questions about concentration during practice
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2019, 04:50:59 PM »
Forced concentration doesn't ever lead to depth.

Even if you cannot concentrate, you are still meditating.

All thinking is thinking, however, forcing quiet on the mind deosn't work - one must relax into peace through progressive aware recognition of habitual patterns and  letting-go.

It takes 4-7 days for pot to leave your system, longer if you have been a heavy smoker as there will be significant reserves of cannabinoids in your body fat. Being stoned will limit your ability to make progress on the path and face reality. It's a way of hiding from life.

Summary:

Keep smoking pot if you so desire but do give up on expecting to make good progress on the path.

Give up all ideas of making progress on the path, whatever you do.

Give up forceful quiet and concentration: there is a perfect balance between relaxation and effort - and this is only something you will find through experience.

You won't learn this using S.N.Goenka tradition techniques as these are forced.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Heitentinger

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Re: Few questions about concentration during practice
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2019, 05:22:25 PM »
Wow thank you for the fast answer.

So what do you think ? I should just keep meditating even if I can't. Realising that I am distracted and keeping being distracted. I did so for a long period and realised then that I was not meditating anymore but juste sitting and waiting for the half hour to go through thinking about a lot of things and how I could make my meditation go deeper.

It's all the paradox of observing the mind using the mind, i don't know if it's clear it's quite hard to explain.

Knew about residuals  8) but it's quite a bad habbit and i noticed sometimes it could also help going deeper.
(some chamanic experience also involve heavier psychedelics which are for me trips that are close to meditation but only my point of view not encouraging anybody), So do you think so even used as a tool of self exploration ?

bests
You can never be sure to really understand something, until you are certain you can't totally understand it.

Meditative

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Re: Few questions about concentration during practice
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2019, 12:37:11 AM »
I used to smoke cannabis daily for years. It has much potential for medicinal use but for me it did nothing but distract and numb me to life. It destroyed my concentration and capacity to deal with challenges in life, but that's my fault for abusing it. I did mushrooms plently of times but I didn't get much benefit out of it because I used it to enhance mind numbing activities like watching movies and playing video games. I did have many mind blowing insights and a couple mystical experiences, but didn't take the time to integrate them into actual life changes. All psychedelics have potential value as a tool of self exploration, but what you get from it depends on your intention and the changes you make as a result of the experience.

stillpointdancer

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Re: Few questions about concentration during practice
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2019, 11:52:00 AM »
Wow thank you for the fast answer.

So what do you think ? I should just keep meditating even if I can't. Realising that I am distracted and keeping being distracted. I did so for a long period and realised then that I was not meditating anymore but juste sitting and waiting for the half hour to go through thinking about a lot of things and how I could make my meditation go deeper.

It's all the paradox of observing the mind using the mind, i don't know if it's clear it's quite hard to explain.

Knew about residuals  8) but it's quite a bad habbit and i noticed sometimes it could also help going deeper.
(some chamanic experience also involve heavier psychedelics which are for me trips that are close to meditation but only my point of view not encouraging anybody), So do you think so even used as a tool of self exploration ?

bests
There are so many different types of meditation that it would be difficult not to 'meditate' if you just sit quietly and do nothing. I sat for years when nothing seems to be happening, but it does, whatever form you try to practice. There is no 'deeper' meditation, just stuff that happens when you are meditating. Sometimes you 'get into the groove' of the meditation and lose track of time and space, and so on, but these times are rare and are not capable of being consciously replicated.

I've met plenty of Western Buddhists who got into meditation because of experiences they had taking drugs, but none who carried on being Buddhist meditators while still taking them. There is a lot of interest in things like electro-magnetic stimulation, which is said to induce insight-like experiences, but this misses the point that it is regular long term meditating that brings about change rather than the insight experience itself. Then 'deeper' experiences arise from 'normal' meditation practice.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Heitentinger

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Re: Few questions about concentration during practice
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2019, 04:59:21 PM »
Well thank you all a lot for all these wise answers.

haven't learned much but at least you confirmed me I am on the right path. I didn't realise that it was still benifical to just sit and wait but I suppose, as long the intention of meditation is present, it is benefical.

have a good evening
You can never be sure to really understand something, until you are certain you can't totally understand it.

Matthew

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    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Few questions about concentration during practice
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2019, 06:53:57 PM »
So what do you think ? I should just keep meditating even if I can't. Realising that I am distracted and keeping being distracted.


If you are sitting paying attention to the rise and fall off things you are meditating. Distraction is an ego defence to the practice, so make Mindfulness of breathing the base, and when distraction arises, when thought intrudes, note the distraction and return to the physical sensations of the breathing process, calming/relaxing with each in breath and each out breath. It may help to read the calm abiding meditation instructions linked from the homepage and make this the daily bread of your practice.

Whatever you choose, stick to one method.

I did so for a long period and realised then that I was not meditating anymore but juste sitting and waiting for the half hour to go through thinking about a lot of things and how I could make my meditation go deeper.


Again, distraction (thinking) is an ego defence. You may think you were not meditating, yet you were. You maybe just were not aware that letting thought arise and fall, not attaching to it, but noting it's occurrence then returning to the sensations created by the process of breathing is a more effective meditation.

It's all the paradox of observing the mind using the mind, i don't know if it's clear it's quite hard to explain.


This is a transitional phase you are describing. It's called "the watcher". You have to watch yourself watching and be mindful of that process to break out of it.

Knew about residuals  8) but it's quite a bad habbit and i noticed sometimes it could also help going deeper.


It doesn't help you go deeper. It limits absolutely your ability to grow and maintain your Mindfulness. Sometimes the ego will fool you into thinking you've "gone deeper" - the fact you cannot reliably reproduce or maintain the effect shows how it limits you.

Basic morality, including abstaining from intoxicants, comes before meditation on the path. There's a good reason for this.

(some chamanic experience also involve heavier psychedelics which are for me trips that are close to meditation but only my point of view not encouraging anybody), So do you think so even used as a tool of self exploration ?


These type of substances can give a taste of greater insight. Once you have that taste you need to make them redundant and get down to the hard work of living a moral life lead by discipline (Shila), and maintaining the practice.

There are no shortcuts from doing the hard work of looking carefully, calmly and honestly in the mirror: fully facing up to all your own habitual tendencies and deconstructing them. This work does not only take place in formal meditation, it must continue through every moment of life. Awareness of how your mind reacts to the situations you find yourself in, the people around you, your own conditioned mind: these must become your every moment. It's how you see, dissect and remove habitual patterns, clearing your mind to see things as they truly are.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2019, 07:00:14 PM by Matthew »
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Heitentinger

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Re: Few questions about concentration during practice
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2019, 10:02:48 PM »
Oh this is nice, the post on samatha is really instructive, it's really what I needed to read
You can never be sure to really understand something, until you are certain you can't totally understand it.

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: Few questions about concentration during practice
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2019, 12:40:02 AM »
Oh this is nice, the post on samatha is really instructive, it's really what I needed to read

Glad it helped. Try it for a month and see how it goes. Don't try too hard and force things, yet don't be sloppy and let the mind wander - the Buddhist path is called the "middle way" for good reason.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~