Author Topic: Not Sure  (Read 2403 times)

Papa1234

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Not Sure
« on: February 22, 2010, 03:23:17 AM »
I have been exploring meditation for about three months. As I read more about it, it seems like the relaxation methods used for self-hypnosis and for meditation are much the same. I usually begin meditation by focusing on my breathing, counting backward from 100 and/or slowly progressively relaxing starting at my head and working down. I'm usually seated in a soft chair that supports my head. When I meditate, I find that I fall into a state much like sleep, but it seems different from when I nap or sleep at night. It consistently lasts 45 minutes or so, and I have no recollection of anything happening after I am relaxed and fall into this state. So I'm wondering ... am I hypnotizing myself, am I sleeping but don't know it, or is this typical of a meditative state?

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
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Re: Not Sure
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2010, 06:29:04 AM »
Papa1234,

Welcome to the forums.

I have been exploring meditation for about three months. As I read more about it, it seems like the relaxation methods used for self-hypnosis and for meditation are much the same. I usually begin meditation by focusing on my breathing, counting backward from 100 and/or slowly progressively relaxing starting at my head and working down. I'm usually seated in a soft chair that supports my head.


This chair, and the counting backward, won't be helping:

When I meditate, I find that I fall into a state much like sleep, but it seems different from when I nap or sleep at night. It consistently lasts 45 minutes or so, and I have no recollection of anything happening after I am relaxed and fall into this state. So I'm wondering ... am I hypnotizing myself, am I sleeping but don't know it, or is this typical of a meditative state?

Meditation is characterised by awareness, wakefulness, mindfulness and alertness. What you have described is definitely a form of sleep or hypnosis. It might be that you don't get enough regular sleep in which case that cold be addressed.

For meditating it is recommended to sit in a upright yet relaxed position without the back or head supported. The support for your back and head needs to be your spine and surrounding muscles. It is possible to meditate supine, but hard.

The focus at the start is very simple. Find a quiet time/spot. Sit upright yet relaxed. Breathe in and out training the mind to be sensitive to the whole body/breathing experience, calming as you breathe in and calming as you breathe out. When thoughts arise do not reject or follow (attach to) them, just let them fall away like the leaves of a tree. When you notice you have been caught in a string of thought, gently accept this without self criticism, then return your focus to the bodily sensations as you breathe.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

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

Papa1234

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Re: Not Sure
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2010, 02:25:17 PM »
Thank you for your helpful response.  Part of the reason that I began to pursue meditation was to learn something about the nature of the mind and the soul.  It bothers me that for someone who is suffering from Alheimer's or other dementia, the conscious mind deteriorates.  I had always believed that the thoughts experienced in the mind were those of the soul as well.  However, the deterioration of the mind implies that these thoughts are emergent from the aging organic brain and not a non-physical soul.  So, what does this deterioration of the mind mean for the soul?  If it exists, where are its thoughts? 

It also occurs to me that acts that we perform are conceived in the brain ... we are often keenly aware of the thought process as we weigh actions that we take (whether good or bad) before we take them.  If these thoughts take place in the organic brain, and the conscious thoughts of the brain are not those of a soul, why is the soul held karmically responsible for its actions?

Crystal Palace

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Re: Not Sure
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2010, 05:12:44 PM »
Dear Papa1234,

What I would have written, The Irreverent Buddhist has said word to word. I would urge you to follow his advice.

As far as your doubt about the soul is concerned, I would say that at this stage (I am assuming) you have insufficient experiental proof of either the existence of the soul or its non existence. Therefore, any view that you subscribe to is definitely not your own. For it to become real for you, you have to realize it within yourself experientally.

Since no intellectual answer can be fully satisfactory reagarding questions on ego, karma, soul etc. I would suggest you continue meditation as it is only there that you will truly be able to comprehend such topics.

I do think from what you have described that you have not been meditating in the correct manner. Do read this forum about Shamatha Practice or basic calming practice which is a good starting practice.

Also never, as Matthew has said, use head support, it will only make you sleepy. In my first 10 day course, I would lie down on the bed thinking I will meditate in this position and 15 minutes later I would find myself in the middle of dreams (they were actually nightmares then)

Best Wishes,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Papa1234

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Re: Not Sure
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2010, 06:26:42 PM »
Thanks for your comment.  You are correct in your assumption that I have have insufficient experiential proof of either the existence of the soul or its non existence.  Have you had any such experiential proof?  Can you describe it for me?

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: Not Sure
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2010, 06:59:28 PM »
Have you had any such experiential proof?  Can you describe it for me?

The problem here is that any explanation will be someone else's words - and not your direct experience !

Even the Pali Suttas are the words of others but the nearest we have to the Buddha's teachings. The Anatta-lakhana Sutta - "the Discourse on the Not-Self Characteristic" describes the five Skandhas and why they do not make a "self".

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.059.mend.html

Use the Suttas to try and gain some understanding and then see how your experience in meditation and reflection matches with these teachings - or not.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

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