Author Topic: Meditation: bare attention only?  (Read 4724 times)

Joe

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Meditation: bare attention only?
« on: September 06, 2009, 06:52:06 PM »
My meditation (as directed by Bhante G in 'mindfulness in plain English') focuses on finding the breath and trying to achieve "wordless bare attention". I understand that one conscious thought can lead to another- then run away into 'monkey mind' and even sleep. But, when I'm meditating (calm and focused), I think it would be a good time to focus on selflessness, impermanence and dissatisfaction. Ideally I would like to imagine my body rotting; or the house decaying around me; or reinforce the idea that the identity I have of 'me', is a bundle of my own perceptions (you get the idea). Instead I'm focusing on bare attention only.


Do the veterans here ever meditate on a 'topic' (Is that possible without thinking?), or simply focus on bare attention every time?
« Last Edit: September 06, 2009, 06:53:26 PM by Joe »

Joe

  • Member
Re: Meditation: bare attention only?
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2009, 07:30:04 PM »
This is a simplified snippet, without emotions or feelings, but my meditation goes something like this:

...[breathe in]....[breathe out]... How do I change gear on this monster truck, and why am I getting shot at (with vivid vision) "back to the breath" (sometimes wordlessly)... [breathe in]....[breathe out].....[breathe in]....[breathe out]... I better write a list of things to take to work "I don't need this thought now: back to the breath" (sometimes wordlessly)... [breathe in]....[breathe out]....

Luna Serene

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Re: Meditation: bare attention only?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2009, 07:37:46 PM »
I have never read mindfullness in plain english, though I gather it is a good read from what I have heard about it... I practice the type of vipassana taught in the ten day course, the first step is to do some anapana meditation to focus your mind and calm those monkey thoughts :) then they teach you a body scan method of vipassana which basically entails moving through different areas of the body part by part and seeing if you can feel a sensation there (sensation is something such as heat, cold, prickling, lightness, pain etc. could  be anything you feel physically) Thats all there is to it at the practical level, and some things become apparent to you as you are taking your mind away from its endless chattering, such as ideas of inpermanance, interconnectedness, insights into the nature of your mind. I think the idea is to just observe the mind in its natural state of calm, as it is easier to contemplate inside when the mind is calmed. There are other forms of vipassana teachings I believe, so my advice would be to find a technique you like and then follow that.

There were some things in the buddhas teachings about comtemplating different types of rotting corpses, but as I can gather this was primarily a meditation for those people who were too fixated on sexual desire to meditate properly. Showing them the human body as sinew, blood and flesh falling apart usually calmed their desires and thus calmed their mind enough for meditation to begin.  

Your second post is a pretty acurate description of how my mind works during meditation hehe, as you practice more and more there is less thought and less need for the "second voice" to take you back to the breath. Hope this helps a bit, metta

Luna
« Last Edit: September 11, 2009, 07:42:03 PM by Luna Serene »

Joe

  • Member
Re: Meditation: bare attention only?
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2009, 09:00:35 AM »
My meditation (as directed by Bhante G in 'mindfulness in plain English') focuses on finding the breath and trying to achieve "wordless bare attention". I understand that one conscious thought can lead to another- then run away into 'monkey mind' and even sleep. But, when I'm meditating (calm and focused), I think it would be a good time to focus on selflessness, impermanence and dissatisfaction. Ideally I would like to imagine my body rotting; or the house decaying around me; or reinforce the idea that the identity I have of 'me', is a bundle of my own perceptions (you get the idea). Instead I'm focusing on bare attention only.


Do the veterans here ever meditate on a 'topic' (Is that possible without thinking?), or simply focus on bare attention every time?


Writing a problem down helps to define it. That is, I get chance to go away and come back to my own question.  :D

The problem is that I was trying to use conceptual thinking to engineer mindfulness. The result would have been of little merit- a kind of 'pseudo mindfulness'. Better then not to conceive, but just observe and be patient- knowing my mindfulness is incrementally getting stronger which will lead to real insight.

Also I've been holding onto breathing to tightly (instead of using it as a tethering post). Now that I'm delicately observing, concentration and mindfulness are back in balance, and my meditation is moving forward again.

Joe

  • Member
Re: Meditation: bare attention only?
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2009, 09:26:12 AM »
I have never read mindfullness in plain english, though I gather it is a good read from what I have heard about it... I practice the type of vipassana taught in the ten day course, the first step is to do some anapana meditation to focus your mind and calm those monkey thoughts :) then they teach you a body scan method of vipassana which basically entails moving through different areas of the body part by part and seeing if you can feel a sensation there (sensation is something such as heat, cold, prickling, lightness, pain etc. could  be anything you feel physically) Thats all there is to it at the practical level, and some things become apparent to you as you are taking your mind away from its endless chattering, such as ideas of inpermanance, interconnectedness, insights into the nature of your mind. I think the idea is to just observe the mind in its natural state of calm, as it is easier to contemplate inside when the mind is calmed. There are other forms of vipassana teachings I believe, so my advice would be to find a technique you like and then follow that.

There were some things in the buddhas teachings about comtemplating different types of rotting corpses, but as I can gather this was primarily a meditation for those people who were too fixated on sexual desire to meditate properly. Showing them the human body as sinew, blood and flesh falling apart usually calmed their desires and thus calmed their mind enough for meditation to begin.  

Your second post is a pretty acurate description of how my mind works during meditation hehe, as you practice more and more there is less thought and less need for the "second voice" to take you back to the breath. Hope this helps a bit, metta

Luna

Hello, Luna & thank you for your reply.

You said: "I practice the type of vipassana taught in the ten day course...". Are you referring to the ten day course in Hereford? (http://www.dipa.dhamma.org/). A retreat sounds appealing (and Hereford is close to me) but I cant sit for long enough yet.

I'm glad you found my description of meditation as pretty accurate. Please Add +1 compassion point for sharing the insight that we are all the same!








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: Meditation: bare attention only?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2009, 10:00:50 AM »
Breath. Getting to know your breath. This develops concentration and mindfulness.

Bodyscanning is not described anywhere in the Buddha's teachings.

Following the breath with no fabrication will lead you to "Samadhi" or "one pointed mind".

Using this mind you can penetrate more deeply than you ever imagined.

NO FABRICATION. This is the part MOST people fail to understand. It can takes years of practice before you see how fabricated your practice has become to support ego instead of being a tool to untie the knots with which it binds us. If you're lucky.

Best not to start fabricating - just be aware as you sit and breathe whilst clinging to nothing, stop worrying, and let the meditation do it's work. When thought takes over your mind return to the breathing.

No great depth of Vipassana work can be undertaken without an extremely sound basis in your practice of Shamatha/Anapana meditation.

Actually there is no need for any other meditation. Shamatha will take you to the place where Vipassana happens.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: September 14, 2009, 10:01:38 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Joe

  • Member
Re: Meditation: bare attention only?
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2009, 08:43:10 PM »
Thanks, Matthew.

Can you point me in the direction of a good 'shamatha' book or guided meditation?

Up until now I thought shamatha was another distraction from Vipassana that didn't warrant further investigation. I.e. another buddhist school, or another way to meditate...or something else. But it sounds like Shamatha develops concentration (only).


Shamatha = concentration (on an object- probably the breath)
Vipassana = mindfulness (observation) + concentration (on an object- probably the breath) = insight.

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: Meditation: bare attention only?
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2009, 09:34:10 PM »
Thanks, Matthew.

Can you point me in the direction of a good 'shamatha' book or guided meditation?

Up until now I thought shamatha was another distraction from Vipassana that didn't warrant further investigation. I.e. another buddhist school, or another way to meditate...or something else. But it sounds like Shamatha develops concentration (only).


Shamatha = concentration (on an object- probably the breath)
Vipassana = mindfulness (observation) + concentration (on an object- probably the breath) = insight.

Well put. The two are not different meditations. Vipassana develops from Shamatha. Anapana is a form of Shamatha. Shamatha develops concentration and calm. A concentrated calm mind is capable of far greater awareness for Vipassana.

[amazonsearch]Mindfuless in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana[/amazonsearch] teaches Shamatha in the practice section. There's a link to the pdf in the library.

Shamatha needs to be followed to Samadhi or one pointed mind of absolute focus, not through force but through calming and thus taming the mind. This is achieved by watching the breath and letting everything be as it is without attachment.

Watching the breath is taught in many ways. The Buddha taught only about being aware of long and short breaths and I feel strongly inclined towards practice with focus on all aspects of breathing rather than focussing on the nostrils or belly, for example.

Breath and Be.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: September 14, 2009, 09:36:28 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~