Author Topic: Question: How much to observe at once?  (Read 3272 times)

Hazmatac

  • Member
Question: How much to observe at once?
« on: March 08, 2009, 04:34:12 PM »
Lately I've been re-reading the book that taught me how to meditate, "Mindfulness in Plain English," and I have a question. At one point he says to pay attention to the breath, your body sensations, and your thoughts. He wasn't clear about how to go about this: either pay attention to your breath fully and notice these other things when you are distracted by them, or try to pay attention to everything at once. So, am I supposed to jump around or stay on the breath until distracted? Thanks.

alex

Re: Question: How much to observe at once?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2009, 02:49:35 PM »
I practice like this:
At the beginning the attention is on the breath. If at some point other sensations (feelings, smells, sounds, thoughts, ...) become strong, become the most important object, so that they draw my attention, and I am already observing them, I stop watching the breath and deliberately try to be totally attentive towards that sensation. If the sensation becomes weaker again, so I have troubles keeping my attention to it, or there are several sensations, and I cannot decide which one to observe, I leave them and return to the breath.

It is important to be clearly aware of the current object of awareness, so I can tell clearly whether I am watching the breath, or any other sensation, or a thought, or anything else. If this clarity is lost, it is always good to return to the breath and clearly observe the breath only. Mostly this means to observe only one thing at once.

greetings,
Alex

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Question: How much to observe at once?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2009, 07:32:49 PM »
50% attention on the breath - this is your anchor

50% attention on bodymind, thoughts and feelings.

If you are early on in your practice you are practising Shamatha or calming meditation. The technique is to anchor your attention in the breath strongly. When you notice you have stopped noticing the breath and are caught in a train of thoughts make a mental note of it and return the attention to the breath.

Be careful not to hypnotise yourself into ignoring body and mind - be aware of them and be aware that feelings and thoughts arise and fall but anchor awareness in the breath and always return to that when mind has wandered.

Shamatha leads to a calm, stable and focussed mind capable of undertaking the inner awareness work of Vipassana without distraction.

Matthew
« Last Edit: March 09, 2009, 07:57:57 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

alex

Re: Question: How much to observe at once?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2009, 11:42:45 AM »
50% attention on the breath - this is your anchor

50% attention on bodymind, thoughts and feelings.

Do you follow a regular schedule here? For example "the first half of every sitting", or "the first 15 days of every 30 day retreat"? Or more like that it "feels" 50%?

Greetings,
Alex

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: Question: How much to observe at once?
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2009, 12:32:56 PM »
Alex,

Keeping that balance throughout each moment of each practice session as a beginner. And taking it off the cushion into life.

As mind calms and stabilises the anchor is needed less but should still be used until complete stillness of mind is achieved.

Matthew
« Last Edit: April 02, 2009, 12:33:29 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Flipasso

Re: Question: How much to observe at once?
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2009, 09:25:21 PM »
At the beginning the attention is on the breath. If at some point other sensations (feelings, smells, sounds, thoughts, ...) become strong, become the most important object, so that they draw my attention, and I am already observing them, I stop watching the breath and deliberately try to be totally attentive towards that sensation.

Bhante Gunaratana also talks about (asking) three questions, without verbalizing, when distractions appear.

My advice, is keep at it, and re-read the book, and ask questions as necessary.

alex

Re: Question: How much to observe at once?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2009, 08:48:11 AM »
At the beginning the attention is on the breath. If at some point other sensations (feelings, smells, sounds, thoughts, ...) become strong, become the most important object, so that they draw my attention, and I am already observing them, I stop watching the breath and deliberately try to be totally attentive towards that sensation.

Bhante Gunaratana also talks about (asking) three questions, without verbalizing, when distractions appear.

My advice, is keep at it, and re-read the book, and ask questions as necessary.
erm ... what?

I was just talking about my personal practice, who is this Bhante?

But as you mentioned it: What are these three questions that help with distractions?

Greetings,
Alex

Flipasso

Re: Question: How much to observe at once?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2009, 06:00:05 PM »
Bhante Gunaratana is the author of the book that Hazmatac is reading.

He explains the technique pretty thoroughly.

I'm not the right person to talk about these 3 questions 'cause  I don't feel that I've managed to practice them correctly.
Get the book online and check out chapter "Dealing with distractions - ptII"

 

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