Author Topic: What reading could help my meditation practice?  (Read 353 times)

Nife

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What reading could help my meditation practice?
« on: August 26, 2021, 07:21:32 PM »
Hi fellow beings!

It's a very very long time since I have posted here. In fact, I am not even 100% sure I have ever made it to posting (computer sais: "no posts").

Anyway's..., I have alway's liked the idear if meditation. I have tried different forms of it. It never stuck with me. Now, however, I think I am ready for it for several reasons. I just started a week ago.. On a daily basis. I started with 20 minutes of siting. I am building it up slowly towards longer sesions.

I have two main goals (that I can think of now) that are equally important to me:
1). To empty or slow my mind. My short term memory is becomming incredibly bad. I think that's because there are so many thought processes going on in my mind. It's becomming increasingly frustrating. It's costing me a lot of energy torturing my brain in attempts to remember what I wanted to write down or wanted to buy, ect..., all day. It's a serious problem I am having.
2). To experience what meditation brings me; basically to build up a meditation practice. Keep with it..., and see what changes it will bring. See what happens when I gain the ability to reach a certain stillness in my mind. Do I gain any inight(s) just by reaching this state? Do I reach this state?

I do want to do some reading. Especially to make the practice more interesting and engaging to me. It's very personal of course what texts will make meditation more "interesting and engaging" to me. I also think it could probably help me becomming more aware and receptive to changes that are common in ppl. who meditate. It could help maybe bring about some of the changes/benifits even. I enjoyed the biography of Buddha. Yesterday, for example. It was a really good start for reading. I just stumbled upon it on Youtube. A really really good start :). Any tips for interesting books that could help make meditation more engaging?

I don't think I am going to thoroughly study the Mahayana, Theravāda or Vajrayana school teachings... Not for now certainly... Never say never though. I do know however that I would like to have some structural knowlegdge of buddhism. Maybe one good and complete book about the Mahayana tradition. Not too basic (covering the teachings quite well) preferably easy to read/listen to. I am going to buy it as an audio book.

May I ask you guy's for advice? What could be books for me? Any other advice(s) for me? (apart from not wanting to achieve anything too badly?)

I would appreciate any input greatly

Thanks in advance,

Nife


Siddharth

  • Member
    • unlearning, relearning and letting go
Re: What reading could help my meditation practice?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2021, 09:41:47 PM »
hello nife,
the book recommendation section might be of help to you. here is the link : https://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php?board=6.0

regards,
Siddharth
And what is good, Phædrus,
And what is not good...
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What reading could help my meditation practice?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2021, 10:17:13 PM »
Hi Nife,

Can you see that in your question there is an inherent contradiction between what you believe to be the right method and the results you seek?

You wrote:

Quote
My short term memory is becomming incredibly bad. I think that's because there are so many thought processes going on in my mind.

and;

Quote
See what happens when I gain the ability to reach a certain stillness in my mind.

And then you ask:

Quote
I do want to do some reading. Especially to make the practice more interesting and engaging to me.

For the practice to be more interesting and engaging for you, through some reading, you are immediately going to increase the number of thought processes going on in (your) mind and take away from the ability to reach a certain stillness in (your) mind.

Also, to be honest, meditation practice is inherently boring. You are constantly bringing the mind back to self-awareness, to mindfulness of the physical and mental processes happening in the very moment; calming body and mind; seeing through the surface appearances to the depths, the root causes of physical and mental perceptions, feelings, sensation and confections (thought processes).

This can't really be emphasised enough: boredom is your best friend as a meditator. It is a great teacher, leading you to patience, acceptance, and honing your ability to gain the fruits of meditation by repeatedly bringing the mind back home to your own process of being.

Now ... I'm not suggesting you never read a book, yet in reality you are unlikely to gain any benefits in the short to medium term by doing so. What you will need to do is keep putting your arse on a cushion or chair; and keep breathing in mindful of the sensations that arise, and calming those sensations, and breathing out mindful of the sensations that arise, and calming those sensations.

That is a basic teaching called "mindfulness of/with breathing". It is the rock that any workable long-term practice will be built upon: the ability to sit when it's boring, or when your mind is trying to drag you away with entertaining and "interesting" thoughts, or when your body tells you it hurts too much, or when you want to read a book, or when you want meditation to be interesting - or any other number of distractions the ego will throw at you to try and stop you meditating.

So, before spending money on a book that will just get you thinking more than the troublesome amount you already engage in, I would suggest you consider following a basic meditation guide and sticking to the practice for a month or six - ideally getting to the point where you can sit mindfully, calmly, and untroubled, for an hour or so without difficulty and without losing focus. This would change your perceptions of what meditation is, and is meant to be, more than any book.

After that a book might be truly beneficial, because that is when meditation truly gets interesting: not in any intellectual way, but practically, empirically, experientially interesting, as you strip away the layers of the onion and get closer to living in present moment awareness.

There is a an introduction to mindfulness meditation linked from the forum homepage here - including a pdf you can print. It's a short book of sorts - just the one page ;) ... or you could try Jim Hopper's guide to cultivating mindfulness.

Really ... I think you will get more from reading one or both of those basic resources then doing it than you will from reading any book. You have to learn how to ride the mindfulness train for yourself - and the only way is by doing.

You can always ask questions here.

Kindly,

Matthew
« Last Edit: August 26, 2021, 11:58:06 PM by Matthew »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What reading could help my meditation practice?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2021, 11:36:19 PM »
Nife,

A post script. Two other comments recently have touched upon this issue directly:

Here and here.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Nife

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • breathing meditations
Re: What reading could help my meditation practice?
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2021, 04:55:13 PM »
Thanks Siddharth, thanks Matthew,

I think you are right Matthew. Reading isn't going to add much more to my proces at this stage (except for more thought processes :D). I guess I will just have to sit it out for the next half year or year. Luckily I do have the discipline, so I am not worried. Nor am I in a hurry.

I did just read the Shamatha-Vipassana or "Calm abiding" instructions and notes. I think it's a very good piece of text! Very compact. Just essential information. It does explain things wonderfully. So thanks for the link!

In a way it's good to hear someone saying: "you just have to do it, you have to learn to ride your own train". Because it reinforces that I am doing OK; there is nothing more to it then just doing it :). I guess I "needed" to hear that because I am doing this practice by myself, I am not guided by anyone (of course I talked to ppl.). So there was alway's the question in the back of my: "Will I miss out on tips and quidance that ppl. sometimes get when they are doing things like retraits and stuff"? But that's out of the way now!

Thanks again :)

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What reading could help my meditation practice?
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2021, 11:58:37 AM »
...
In a way it's good to hear someone saying: "you just have to do it, you have to learn to ride your own train". Because it reinforces that I am doing OK; there is nothing more to it then just doing it :)
...

Glad it helped Nife. It's why it says "Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project." under my name - only you can do it for yourself.

Let us know how things are going 🙂
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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