Author Topic: Calm Abiding Meditation vs Just Sitting (Shikantaza) Meditation  (Read 402 times)

Rloop19

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    • Sitting Meditation
Firstly just wanted to say hello and thanks for adding me to the forum.
I got into meditation about six months ago because I was struggling with Social anxiety/sadness. In social settings, I would become hyper aware of my feelings and how others were perceiving me because of it. If I felt sad or anxious around people I would immediately compound those feelings by resisting and add negative thoughts such as "Im such a pussy" "Im killing peoples vibe just by being here" I tried to deny my feelings which made those feelings even stronger. As a result, I isolated myself for the better part of a year.

I have partially grown out of this stage of my life, but still experience a great deal of anxiety/sadness/low confidence on a daily basis. I know now that resisting thoughts and feelings is not the path and the only way for me to get over my social phobia is to allow myself to feel all of my emotions and put myself out there socially regardless of the feelings or thoughts im experiencing. Because of this I took to just sitting or Shikantaza meditation.

Im in no way an expert and My practice consists of me basically sitting cross legged for 15 minutes twice a day. Fully accepting thoughts and emotions. And then noticing and labeling my thoughts and feelings when I get caught up in them. I have applied this to real life with decent success. I definitely have noticed more focus but Im wondering if theres better options out there

The thing is ive been reading up on how to do calm abiding meditation and am wondering if it is a better fit for my situation. I must admit that the thought of not noting thoughts makes me a little bit uneasy. But I am open to suggestions or opinions. Thank you.

NewPathForward

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Re: Calm Abiding Meditation vs Just Sitting (Shikantaza) Meditation
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2020, 10:14:56 PM »
I am also new in my practice, in fact newer than you are.  However, during this whole period of learning, I’ve changed the way I practice a few times.  Each time has been slightly accompanied by fear that I’ll lose my progress in my old meditation, but I truly have come to see it as my meditation naturally evolving as I progress.  I can measure the results and experiences and decide what’s best for me. 

It sounds like you would like to try out Shamatha, and this is what I am currently practicing.  In some of my meditations I do observe my thoughts, and in others I don’t.  Regardless, there is a ton of experience to draw from on this forum and surely by continuing to ask questions and being open minded your practice will evolve for the better :)

I suggest the Shamatha method that is on this site.

Much metta,
Charlie

Matthew

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Re: Calm Abiding Meditation vs Just Sitting (Shikantaza) Meditation
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2020, 01:01:14 AM »
Well done on articulating your situation so clearly. It takes self-honesty to do so, and that is a very valuable commodity on this path of learning.

....
The thing is ive been reading up on how to do calm abiding meditation and am wondering if it is a better fit for my situation. I must admit that the thought of not noting thoughts makes me a little bit uneasy. But I am open to suggestions or opinions. Thank you.

You have a misunderstanding of Shamatha from somewhere. You definitely notice thoughts, you just try not to get caught up in them. If you don't notice thoughts then you are forcing quiet on the mind - self-hypnosis. This doesn't produce any long term beneficial effect in meditation.

So in Shamatha we first anchor in the breath and the body. Why? Several reasons: 1) the autonomic nervous system can be more easily shifted from sympathetic "fight/flight" to parasympathetic "rest/digest" through quieting the mind and paying attention to bodily sensations: breathing in feeling and calming the body, breathing out feeling and calming the body. This induces calm in the vagus nerve which leads directly into the brain stem and induces calm in the mind (after some practice); 2) The breath is always there, until it isn't, at which point (or very soon after) you aren't suffering in this life any longer: It is a reliable friend to your practice, a good anchor, a port you can always find - and will always come back to throughout the processes of meditation; and 3) Because in this modern world we all, to some extent or another, have a tendency to "live in our heads": to over-think as you described so well in your post. So getting away from thinking at the beginning helps on many levels.

You will have thoughts. If you are meditating well you will be aware of those thoughts. And then you will watch them dissipate and you will return attention to the breath. What you won't do is allow chains of thought, such as "My arse itches. Shall I scratch my arse? I shouldn't really ... I'm supposed to be meditating. Damn I want to scratch my arse". Why? Because each thought in that chain is conditioned on the prior thought (and a lot of other prior thoughts and experience) - and in meditation we are on one level breaking the chains of habit that bind us.

Go ahead try Shamatha, you need to be aware of thought. You need to also not focus on it but on breath for a good while to stabilise your bodymind and feel your way into the practice, but Shamatha doesn't stop at being mindful of breathing.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Thanisaro85

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    • Reverend father Jaran, Pramote. Theravada
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Re: Calm Abiding Meditation vs Just Sitting (Shikantaza) Meditation
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2020, 03:31:43 PM »
Quote from: Rloop19 link=topic=3626.msg36120#msg36120 date=1587755202
[/quote

On top of the meditation advises by Matthew, you may want to stop the self bashing, self belittling. I understand all these arised( automatically) from the social anxiety/sadness symptoms you had and it almost like uncontrollable.

Next time, when the anxiety attacked or arised during a gathering, try to remember the exact feeling and sensation.Close your eye for a min in a session or a gathering when you feel what you described and react. To note and remember the body sensations, feeling, nothing else.

If you can remember that, you will probably found the same type of feelings and sensations arised on other occasion, not gathering, not some human interactions section. Maybe like cooking going to burn, cycling going to fall, chasing after a bus, or even receiving a very special gift. Yes, all is about anxiousness, but the thing is, for all these others events, you do not do self bashing isn't it? If you do, you probably need to see a psychiatrist.
So let's say the self belittling only happened at gathering or any socializing activities. You need to change the "programmed" self bashing to something else.

Replace the word from "I am pussy" to " yeah I am pussy but so what", the constant "so what" will lift you up to another level. It make you slightly nonchalant, than self belittling.
But you can't change it to something "unrealistic" directly like " I am all confident", it don't work for some, take a step at a time.
As you diligently replacing the programmed word tied to the feeling, your body and mind will remember it next time when social anxiety arised .

The next level is to change the word from " yeah I am a pussy , so what" to something like " I am so used to this anxious feeling and I kinda of like it". And you know, just change the programming bit by bit and be realistic with the changes. It takes months and consistent practises, will it totally remove the anxiety feeling, I can't speak for all, but I know for sure it did taper down the anxiety feeling a lot.

Again, all works/ changes take effort,time and consistency.

And does mindfulness of the mind help? If you keep practising mindfulness of the mind in normal "no human contact days", you had learnt to interupt the thoughts and feeling arising, which is quite useful to your situation. Please focus on this paragraph by Matthew...




You will have thoughts. If you are meditating well you will be aware of those thoughts. And then you will watch them dissipate and you will return attention to the breath. What you won't do is allow chains of thought, such as "My arse itches. Shall I scratch my arse? I shouldn't really ... I'm supposed to be meditating. Damn I want to scratch my arse". Why? Because each thought in that chain is conditioned on the prior thought (and a lot of other prior thoughts and experience) - and in meditation we are on one level breaking the chains of habit that bind us.







« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 03:43:44 PM by Thanisaro85 »
A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

 

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