Author Topic: Right Effort  (Read 2283 times)

mcgee55

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Right Effort
« on: October 18, 2009, 01:43:53 AM »
Hello all,

I've think I've got an issue here about effort.  Namely, I think lately I'm trying to hard.  I say this because I often find myself over-analyzing the proper way to meditate.  Basically, I'm thinking too much about meditation!  For instance, today I was meditating, and I could feel my breath great in my nose.  I could also feel it in my chest cavity, which is an area I like to focus on sometimes if I'm focusing on the body.  It was very relaxing at first, but then I thought to myself - "No, not the chest cavity, were focusing on the breath not the body, focus on the breath in your nostrils!"  From there a whole internal debate started.  One part of me saying "focus on the nostrils buddy."  The other side saying "are you crazy, if you naturally feel it in your chest, you shouldn't block it out."  And it went downhill from there.  I find this happening more lately, not just during meditation but outside as well.  Its like I'm turning it into something way more complicated than it needs to be.  I've always been an overly analytical person, and I always tend to think about things way, WAY too much.  I'm a little disappointed that this is happening with meditation, however, because I feel like up until this point I've developed good confidence.  I don't want to cause myself any unnecessary suffering.  I feel like meditation, while challenging, should not be as complicated as I'm making it.  Anybody have any advice on what I can do to relax?  Any tips on generating the right kind of effort?  Thanks a bunch!!!

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: Right Effort
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2009, 10:32:55 PM »
mcgee

What you describe is not uncommon. Have no fear.

The ego is a slippery beast and it will cling to or repel that which it does not like. When we decide to become meditators and work on reducing our ego's grasp on us the ego does not like this all that much - even though it was a decision of the ego to do it!

As you said, you have been overly analytical all your life - well, join the club my friend. Most people are as society teaches us that rational thinking is the answer. The problem is that rational thinking is conditioned and sits on top of a lot of very irrational ideas and beliefs that we learn when we are young and which affect us deeply.

Keep at it. You can focus on the nostrils or the chest or the rising belly. You can be aware of all of it, all of your breath.

The Buddha didn't teach people to focus on the nose.  He taught people to anchor their awareness in their breathing. The nose stuff came way after he was dead and cremated.

The main thing I suggest you do to relax is .. stop worrying. I wrote a poem about it once:

Whats Worrying Me?

If worry could solve things,
That would be real fine,
I’d worry like a madman,
Nearly all the time,
I’d worry ’bout my money,
And my health and God,
And if we must experiment,
On cats and dogs,
I’d worry ’bout the Buddha,
If he cries at me,
And worry ’bout my breakfast,
And me afternoon tea,
But most of all I’d worry,
‘Bout what’s worrying me.

I think you are caught in a loop of that variety.

Meditation is simple but not if you think about it too much:

- Sit with your hips supported so your lower back is nicely aligned.

- Relax without slouching and without a back support.

- Take three or four deep breaths.

- Close your eyes or let them gaze gently at the floor about 1 mtr / 3 feet from your knees. Eyes relaxed.

- Place your hands on your knees, thighs or fold them in your lap.

- Relax and breathe naturally.

- When thoughts arise do not engage with them. Whatever thoughts they are.

- When thoughts arise do not push them away. Whatever thoughts they are.

- Be aware of your breathing ... in .... out .... in ... out ....

- Let thoughts arise and fall away - and keep paying attention to your breathing - neither pushing thoughts away nor indulging in a "train of thoughts".

This way you develop calm, concentration and equanimity.

Try keeping it really simple - because it is.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: October 19, 2009, 10:36:53 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

truthforhappiness

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Re: Right Effort
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2009, 05:44:57 AM »
Hello Brother/Sister,

I had experienced that complicated thoughts of judging before. What I did is I made a promise to myself that I'm going to just focus on the breath. I also did the counting on my breath in my heart

breath in...1
breath out...2
breath in...3
breath out...4

or each breath in and breath out, I called "Buddha" in my heart. Then I managed to calm down the thoughts, although there are still where my mind sway away from the breath, the counting helps.

And brother, if you have the time to read the Mindfulness in Plain English it's a very good guide one, here in the library section
« Last Edit: October 20, 2009, 09:53:38 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »

mcgee55

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Re: Right Effort
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2009, 05:39:04 PM »
Wow thanks for the advice guys!  I would have replied sooner but I've been away from my comp. for a while.  Matthew, I think you described me perfectly, and that was a very nice poem.  Its amazing how thoughts are able to sweep away the mind.  Perhaps there is solace to be gleaned from that knowledge alone.  I do really appreciate the support.  Truth, I have read the book several times, and have found it very helpful.  Actually, I have been thinking about reading it again soon. I do like to count sometimes, it can help me concentrate, especially when I first sit down.  Its so easy to get caught in the trap of "trying" in meditation, at least for me.  We're so accustomed to that way of life in the west I suppose.  I believe Bhante G. does address this somewhere in the book.  Another teacher/author phrased it along the lines of "the best way to get from A to B is really just to be at A."  I like that one.  Again, thank you both, and I haven't considered giving up.  Meditation, and everyday mindfulness in general, are most probably going to become permanent fixtures in my life.  Best wishes to all.

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: Right Effort
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2009, 12:06:05 AM »
mcgee,

Don't read the book again - yet. Don't read any books.

Simply sit twice a day for a couple of weeks first.

In the Dhamma,

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

mcgee55

  • Guest
Re: Right Effort
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2009, 01:13:48 AM »
Haha I was just thinking the same thing.