Author Topic: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?  (Read 2648 times)

humanoid

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I shall soon read the book "mindfullness in plain english"
and I guess my question will be explained there...

But until I've read this book could anyone please tell
me at what do I have to point my awareness during meditation
according to vipassana? (and perhaps according to zen as well :) )

For your information...
I have learned what I guess must be some kind of unstructured meditation in the book "I am that" (by nisargadatta)
and i have practiced it quite a lot the past 2 years. Even though I like the results i am wondering
what the object of concentration in vipassana (or zen) actually is??!!!




Until now, when doing meditation i have always been attentive of my whole body as a whole,
all the thoughts as a whole and in fact all sounds and sensations outside of me as a whole.

I mean, i sort of give all my attention to everything which I can be aware off, all at once,
without differentiating whether something is supposedly painful or pleasurous, interesting or boring,
internal or external.

In this kind of meditation, there are not really any thoughts (although they obviously
popup sometimes and try to distract me) - and i feel very relaxed, yet very energetic (as in: not feeling lazy one bit).

In this kind of meditation, the chattering mind, the "ego experience" is absent...
yet i feel very much present. I feel present not as a person with likes or dislikes,
not as the body, but as Awareness itself that shines it's attention onto "everything at once" (as explained earlier).


In meditation I feel like i am the dot (awareness) and i give attention to everything inside and outside me
in all directions (the giving of attention is represented by the arrows)

but in every direction where attention is aimed at,
there is unveiled more awareness... (and it feels like this attentiveness or awareness is me)
which i again use to give attention in all directions...

so basically meditation for me is sort of like the picture below.
I like it, but at times it has definately been kind confusing because there is no
"fixed" point of concentration such as the breath...
but instead my way of concentrating is to forever give attention in all directions. (sort off)



In vipassana/zen, if the point of concentration, or the way of concentrating,
is different and more effective than the -at times kind of confusing way- I have been practicing until now...

then I hope I shall soon realize the inferiority of my method and switch to a superior one!
I guess it's really about time I should start to read the "mindfulness in plain english" book :)





I give thanks to those who answered my question!! 
and those who have not, thanks for nothing  :P
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 11:42:25 PM by humanoid »

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Re: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2009, 07:23:19 AM »
humanoid,

It sounds like your object of meditation is too large to accomplish much in terms of Shamatha and developing concentration and calm, the first stage of meditation. Hence this sense I am getting that it is sort of out of your control now. Try a month of basic Shamatha using the breath as an object of meditation, 50% attention on that and the other 50% on bodymind. When thoughts arise watch, if you get entangled then guiltlessly note you were thinking and return to the breath.

It's an experiment. See what is different about it.

You seem to be trying to develop an all encompassing awareness without having focussed, tightened your concentration and established tranquillity as a base. I have a feeling the tranquillity you are experiencing could be described as a kind of hypnotic overload of the senses.

Matthew
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alex

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Re: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2009, 03:26:47 PM »
me at what do I have to point my awareness during meditation
according to vipassana? (and perhaps according to zen as well :) )

In Vipassana you should be aware of
• the body,
• the feelings,
• the mind and
• the dhamma.
To get there, you usually start with a concentration meditation, the object of this could be watching the breath, imagining a colored disc, or contemplating death and impermanence (there are lots more). It is helpful to choose one of these objects as an "anchor". Other traditions practice "moment-to-moment concentration" with changing objects. From there you continue to the first step of Vipassana, observing body sensations. After you feel proficient in one area, change to or include the next area. If too many experiences at once confuse you, take one step back, or return completely to your anchor.

In Zen, it's "just sitting", and beginners start with "just breathing". Stephan Bodian describes it like this:
Quote
As an alternative to mindfulness meditation, you may want to experiment with the Zen practice known as just sitting, which usually involves two phases or steps: just breathing and just sitting.

When you're adept at following your breath, you can practice becoming your breath -- merging yourself completely with the flow of the inhalation and exhalation, until you, as a separate observer, disappear and only your breath remains. Now you're no longer breathing; instead, your breath is breathing you. Like welcoming whatever arises, this practice, known as just breathing, is supremely simple but requires a quality of awareness that's both focused and relaxed.

The next step, just sitting, involves expanding to include the whole realm of sensate experience. But instead of being aware or mindful of your experience, you "disappear," and only your experience remains -- seeing, smelling, hearing, sensing, thinking. As a Zen friend of mine put it, "When you sit, the walls of the meditation hall come down, and the whole world enters." Ultimately, this practice takes you to the same place as mindfulness; it's simply the Zen alternative.

But why are you asking? You seem to be quite satisfied with your meditation, and it sounds quite good, only you are looking for a more "effective" method. What does that mean? Getting there faster, or having a more intensive experience?

greetings,
Alex

humanoid

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Re: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2009, 04:28:44 PM »
But why are you asking? You seem to be quite satisfied with your meditation, and it sounds quite good, only you are looking for a more "effective" method. What does that mean? Getting there faster, or having a more intensive experience?
I've been confused in the past about how to practice the method I've been using,
and although I'm now understanding and practicing the method quite well...

I'm still not sure whether I'm not overcomplicating things...
I'm starting to read mindfullness in plain english today  ;)

humanoid

  • Guest
Re: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2009, 10:52:43 PM »
humanoid,

It sounds like your object of meditation is too large to accomplish much in terms of Shamatha and developing concentration and calm, the first stage of meditation. Hence this sense I am getting that it is sort of out of your control now. Try a month of basic Shamatha using the breath as an object of meditation, 50% attention on that and the other 50% on bodymind. When thoughts arise watch, if you get entangled then guiltlessly note you were thinking and return to the breath.

It's an experiment. See what is different about it.

You seem to be trying to develop an all encompassing awareness without having focussed, tightened your concentration and established tranquillity as a base. I have a feeling the tranquillity you are experiencing could be described as a kind of hypnotic overload of the senses.

Matthew
Ok,
there is definately truth in what you say here.

I've read some mindfullness in plain english already, but no longer have the book at my disposal at the moment.
I remember the author said that watching the breath is to strengthen concentration, this makes sense.



But how can you watch 50% the breath, and 50% the bodymind at the same time?
I can watch 100% the breath or 100% the mind,

but mixing them can seem a bit difficult because you can only listen to 1 person attentively at the same time...
or read one book attentively at the same time... you know what I mean ?

how do i mix 50/50 of breath and body/mind?

THANKS for answer!  ;)

humanoid

  • Guest
Re: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2009, 09:16:45 PM »
i've started watching the breath,
and also slowing it down a little,
and i must say i feel much better and grounded than before.

so watching, and to a certain point making sure that the breath does not go to fast or too slow,
does indeed make a very big difference so thank you very much.



i'm still not sure how you can give 50% attention to the breath
and 50% to body mind

because quite frankly,
the breath is part of the body...

i guess you must mean to give continuous attention to the breath as an anchor,
and to give attention to anything that demands our attention for the wellbeing of ourself and others?

ever since finally starting to watch the breath, i feel much more in control of my mind.
before i felt good from simply "focusing"... but my body and mind were hyper.

since watching the breath i'm much more focused.
i guess i was affraid of focusing on the breath because somehow i thought that would be boring or cost too much energy,

but actually it feels so natural and effortless and helps so much that i would not want to change it for anything in the world.

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: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2009, 08:49:58 AM »
humanoid,

I am happy to hear you are finding more established calm through focussing on the breath. The idea of 50% on breath 50% on bodymind is this:

Mostly the attention is focussed on the breath.

Too loose (not enough focus on breath/other meditation object) and your mind will be assailed by thoughts and sensations and will not lead to the development of calm and concentration.

Too tight (too closely focussed on breath - forced attention) and your mind will still seem to calm but the calm is forced and hypnotic - not emerging from the developing stillness but kept shut like the lid on a pressure cooker.

One always maintains an awareness of body, mind, sensations, thoughts and environment.

You say you can place 100% concentration on the breath or 100% on bodymind but not 50/50. I think you are a bit confused here. The idea is not to BLOCK other stimulae from awareness nor to RESPOND to them - whether they come from internal or external sources. Even if you are, as you say, 100% focussed on the breath - if I come up behind you and tickle your ear you will notice - so that awareness can not be 100% on the breath.

Shamatha stage (where you are at) of Shamatha/Vipassana practice is really about developing a naturally calm, stable, focussed, concentrated mind. This mind is very different to the average persons mind which wanders like a scared lost man in the dark running from here to there and bumping into things. This calm mind is instead a tool you have worked on to develop and strengthen for the tasks ahead in Vipassana and, most importantly, in your daily life.

The important point is neither to force a quiet mind on yourself which will achieve no long term change nor allow your mind to wander through laziness which will also lead to no long term change. Only through giving the mind to the container of your developing awareness can you achieve this middle way.

I hope that makes things a little clearer. It sounds like you are making good progress.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: July 30, 2009, 08:53:07 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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humanoid

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Re: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2009, 09:37:34 AM »
maybe i misexplained before.

it's not like i could really give 100% attention to everything at the same time,
but I tried to, and the 100% of attention there is.. i tried to divide it equally to everything there is.

but yes, i would not recommend this to anybody.
thinking back on it, i can definately realize i was trying to force things too much.

50% on the breath and 50% on other things feels much more relaxed.
thanks a lot.

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: In meditation, at what do I have to point my awareness?
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2009, 08:28:25 PM »
Relaxed is good. Balance it by maintaining a clear awareness to avoid sleepiness.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~