Author Topic: Discouraged by this idea that one should try to have thoughts while meditating.  (Read 1649 times)

Ja192827

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Dan Harris essentially says on his 10% Happier podcast that when you experience stillness of mind during meditation, it is not a good thing. This is because you only grow when you have the opportunity to let go of thoughts, which could be likened to "lifting weights" for the mind. 

Hearing this was discouraging for me because whenever I experience a longer period without any thoughts, I then start thinking that I need to allow thoughts to enter my head in order to have the opportunity to practice letting them go.  Ever since I heard Dan Harris say this, whenever  I experience a still mind while meditating, I try to think of something just for the sake of being able to release the thought from my mind. Consequently, I now feel a bit of anxiety when meditating, because previously, I would end meditation sessions feeling more centered with a still mind.  Ever since I heard it, I end meditation sessions more stressed because it seems I have been thinking more than when I was off the cushion.  But maybe I benefited more from it, as I had more opportunities to let go of my thoughts.  Please tell me this concept is messed up. Seems to have as much logic as banging one's head against the wall is good, because it allows one to practice equanamity.  :) 

Not that 100% stillness of mind should be a goal, but please tell me that if one experiences fewer and fewer thoughts as one meditates over the years, that it is a "good" thing. Thanks.

Thanisaro85

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Hi Ja,

Not sure what do you want to achieve in meditation ultimately.  Stillness is the natural phenomenon when you keep letting go thoughts. Know it, watch it go, not holding on to it. I guess you are probably well versed with it and that's why you can enjoy the stillness.

I hope i had interpreted correctly what Dan Harris had said. I think the whole idea is to be able to have complete awareness during the session, not into a half blurry state where the mind is between still and cloudiness.

It is definitely not right to purposely think of something during meditation.

If you meditate constantly, yes, u will be able to program or develop a habit of fewer thoughts in long terms.  But you have to apply the practise mindfulness of your body and mind during the sitting session into your daily activities, to create the habit.



A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

Ja192827

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Hi Ja,

Not sure what do you want to achieve in meditation ultimately.  Stillness is the natural phenomenon when you keep letting go thoughts. Know it, watch it go, not holding on to it. I guess you are probably well versed with it and that's why you can enjoy the stillness.

I hope i had interpreted correctly what Dan Harris had said. I think the whole idea is to be able to have complete awareness during the session, not into a half blurry state where the mind is between still and cloudiness.

It is definitely not right to purposely think of something during meditation.

If you meditate constantly, yes, u will be able to program or develop a habit of fewer thoughts in long terms.  But you have to apply the practise mindfulness of your body and mind during the sitting session into your daily activities, to create the habit.

The main thing I want to accomplish with meditation is to drastically reduce my overthinking. There was a study which found out that generally, people spend 46.9% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. I spend about 99% of my time thinking of something else.

I will drop the recent odd habit I have picked up to try to think of things during meditation.

Thanks for the good advice!

Matthew

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One shouldn't try to have thoughts or try not to have thoughts. To do either misunderstands the way these first steps in meditation work.

Bringing mindfulness to the fore; being aware of what your mind is doing, will usually involve a lot of awareness of thought, especially in the beginning. By not attaching to thought, and particularly not getting caught up in the story, these (largely habitual and repetitive) thoughts begin to dissolve; their power to drag your mind from place to place dissipates in the light of awareness.

As Thanisaro writes, "the whole idea is to be able to have complete awareness during the session, not into a half blurry state where the mind is between still and cloudiness". This blurry state between still and cloudiness can be induced by forcefully suppressing thought, or by dullness; lack of mindfulness and focus. It's about finding the middle way. A kind of balancing act where enough effort is applied to maintaining awareness of what's happening now, without any forcefully suppressing anything that arises.

Quote from: Thanisaro85
It is definitely not right to purposely think of something during meditation.

For basic mindfulness meditation 100% true.


... I then start thinking that I need to allow thoughts to enter my head in order to have the opportunity to practice letting them go ...


At this point there are already thoughts on your mind ... letting go of the thought "there should be thought" might be useful.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

dharma bum

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Something similar happened to me when I heard the Dalai Lama say that meditation makes the heart healthy and make you live longer. Then I realized that I had internalized the idea that I need to live longer and started to feel anxious about it.

But it doesn't really matter who you hear an idea from. If it were not this idea, it would be something else. For instance, it is generally accepted that meditation is good for you, but then if you practise meditation and don't feel good about it, then you start to feel anxious. This is a very common problem for me, as well as for others.

It is the nature of the mind. The thought that the mind would be still if it hadnt been for this thing you hear or read is another delusional thought, as Mathew says.
Mostly ignorant

Ja192827

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One shouldn't try to have thoughts or try not to have thoughts. To do either misunderstands the way these first steps in meditation work.

Bringing mindfulness to the fore; being aware of what your mind is doing, will usually involve a lot of awareness of thought, especially in the beginning. By not attaching to thought, and particularly not getting caught up in the story, these (largely habitual and repetitive) thoughts begin to dissolve; their power to drag your mind from place to place dissipates in the light of awareness.

As Thanisaro writes, "the whole idea is to be able to have complete awareness during the session, not into a half blurry state where the mind is between still and cloudiness". This blurry state between still and cloudiness can be induced by forcefully suppressing thought, or by dullness; lack of mindfulness and focus. It's about finding the middle way. A kind of balancing act where enough effort is applied to maintaining awareness of what's happening now, without any forcefully suppressing anything that arises.

Quote from: Thanisaro85
It is definitely not right to purposely think of something during meditation.

For basic mindfulness meditation 100% true.


... I then start thinking that I need to allow thoughts to enter my head in order to have the opportunity to practice letting them go ...


At this point there are already thoughts on your mind ... letting go of the thought "there should be thought" might be useful.

Sometimes I get caught between still and cloudiness, almost like a trance. It is kind of a nice feeling, as it is nice to get a break from constant mind chatter, but it seems too "easy." I will take your advice and will try to stay away from being in this state. Thank you.

Ja192827

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  • Who are you?
    • Vipissana
Something similar happened to me when I heard the Dalai Lama say that meditation makes the heart healthy and make you live longer. Then I realized that I had internalized the idea that I need to live longer and started to feel anxious about it.

But it doesn't really matter who you hear an idea from. If it were not this idea, it would be something else. For instance, it is generally accepted that meditation is good for you, but then if you practise meditation and don't feel good about it, then you start to feel anxious. This is a very common problem for me, as well as for others.

It is the nature of the mind. The thought that the mind would be still if it hadnt been for this thing you hear or read is another delusional thought, as Mathew says.

Yes, I have been meditating for 6 years and other than not being as reactive when dealing with others, I am not sure how much I have benefited from it, but I try to trust that there benefits that I just don't notice myself because they must be so gradual. Thanks

 

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