Author Topic: Several questions from a complete beginner.  (Read 2233 times)


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Several questions from a complete beginner.
« on: January 07, 2010, 03:55:58 AM »
Hello. I'm so glad I found this place.

I have been wanting to get into meditation-and Buddhism-for quite awhile but I never really realized it was something I could actually do, never realized it was something attainable and that I could do it without going off and living in solitude. Obviously my presence here shows that these assumptions have been proven immaculately wrong.  ;)

I read a few online sources explaining vipassana meditation and just meditation in general and found it to be something that I would really love to get into doing. After trying a couple sessions over the last couple of days, I have some questions.

First off, I have found that my attention span is great enough to do longer sessions than my body seems to want to do. It may be the way I'm sitting, but after only ten minutes or so my spine starts hurting as well as my left thigh. I can manage to block it out for another five or MAYBE ten minutes at best, but the pain eventually becomes too distracting to continue.  I sit on my bed using a pillow as a cushion and I sit with my legs crossed and hands clasped lightly in front of me. Is this kind of pain normal? Is it the way I'm sitting or is it just a matter of getting used to it and building up a tolerance for sitting for longer periods of time?

Second, so far I have just been trying to concentrate on my breathing and my belly rising and falling. I read about the "mental noting" technique and I tried it as well, noting 'rising' and 'falling' with each inhale and exhale. I also tried 'noting' secondary objects, but I'm not sure what I should be 'noting' or if I should even be attempting to do it this early in my practice. I have noted things that seem trivial to me, such as tingling sensations in my hands and becoming aware of my elbows resting on my legs, denoting them as "touching" or something similar, but do these things even matter? When thoughts arise I mentally say 'thinking' but rather than letting them pass I find myself trying to suppress them, which I'm sure is wrong. How do I learn to simply let them pass?

Also, I feel like there is something more to it, another step or something. Some kind of contemplation of all these bodily processes that helps you gain insight, but I don't know what it is or how to do it, or frankly if it even exists. To me it just doesn't seem like simply acknowledging certain sensations without being attached to them is...enough? I don't know, maybe I'm overthinking it?

How long should I start off with each day? Should I bother trying Vipassana meditation yet or just stick to concentrating on my breathing and working up to it? If the latter, how long should I do this, when will I know I am ready to move on?

Any other tips or things you think I should know would be greatly appreciated.



  • 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: Several questions from a complete beginner.
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2010, 09:37:51 PM »
Dear Aaron,

Welcome. I am glad you have found the forums. We are a self help meditation practice based community. We offer help and differing opinions and you must make your mind up for yourself as to that which is of value, and that which is not. Often this may involve trying something out.

My thoughts on the issues you raise:

Do not sit on your bed unless it is a concrete bed. Sit on the floor on two or three blankets folded to soften the surface for your knees. Under your bum you want 6 solid inches or so of blankets or cushions. Breath in deep and let the breath out naturally for a while when you sit. Your knees should be on the floor without strain and your pelvis gently tilted forward, letting your spinal muscles relax as the spine is well supported in this position. On the bed, not.

Just breathe and let go of everything, centre awareness in the physical process and sensations of breathing. Relax but sit upright without tension and develop deep and relaxed yet clear and strong attention on the breath. Embody yourself.

Do it for as long as feels right each day. Maybe 15 minutes or half an hour or - if you have the opportunity - for as long as feels right. Don't set targets .Fabricate nothing.

Thinking is to be noticed like you might notice a cloud on a summer day. Just watch it pass. It is not you. We usually get caught up but you can not fabricate a silent mind without force that dulls awareness. So you have to learn to just let thoughts be. Don't even label them, be aware of them arising without following the train of thoughts and without judgement.

Fabricate nothing. Do not fabricate silence or thoughtlessness or thought. Just sense the breathing in your body for a few weeks or months and let your mind relax and wind down like a clock. It will need that time.

Then, one day, the thinking will stop. But it won't happen tomorrow, unless you are suppressing your mind with force.

Keep up a regular daily practice. Ten minutes twice a day is of greater value than an hour once a week.

Also reflect on the wholesomeness of all aspects of your life with self honesty - the basis of peace and change in meditation.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 09:43:07 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Life student

  • Guest
Re: Several questions from a complete beginner.
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 11:50:41 PM »
Thank you for your explanation on meditation technique, Matthew. I too have just begun taking meditation seriously, and I found your explanation to be very helpful. I recently quit taking anti-depressants cold turkey upon realizing that the meds represented a lack of control over my mind and, consequently, my life. Silence has been key to my success in quiting. I have begun to experience silence on a new level. The affects are profound. The silence gives me strength, peace, calmness, and a feeling of contentedness. It's as if I am experiencing a new dimension of life.

Matthew, what techniques can you offer me to assist me in carrying my silence throughout the day. How can I have a calm and silent mind in an otherwise tense and noisy environment?

One more question, if I may: What is your take on music? I love music, but I have come to realize through meditation that it creates an inner turbulence in me that is difficult to shake off.



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