Author Topic: Shamatha Meditation  (Read 20721 times)

Morning Dew

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2011, 09:12:40 AM »
Quote
as though my head were placed inside a fish bowl and my invading thoughts seemed to be 'trapped' inside this bowl with me,

This reminded me of this digital collage i made approx 6 years ago ;)



So true what you say.

Be well

Matthew

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2011, 10:37:47 AM »
In my limited experience I have been struggling with the same thing.

I had always read and watched clips that always emphasised concentrating on the nostrils or upper lip, I did this and I always felt a little disconnected, ....

Its hard to put this into words so forgive me if it sounds nonsense!
Angelpen,

No this does not sound like nonsense, not at all. By focussing on the nose area/upper lip you are activating the Trigeminal nerve - a cranial nerve that links the face directly to the brain. As we are generally "living in our heads" to an unhealthy degree it is absolutely normal that this would make you feel disconnected as it amplifies that. It's also an attempt to force concentration.

By focussing on the abdomen and chest or whole body you will be activating the Vagus nerve - another Cranial nerve but this one is the super-information-highway between body and brain. This one reconnects, regrounds and anchors us in our body. We "re-incarnate" our disembodied minds by doing so, reconnecting bodymind fully.

Warmly,

Matthew
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Anglepen

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2011, 11:37:50 AM »
Hi Matthew

Thanks for the reply, that makes lots of sense to me then and would reflect why I feel so different using the differing techniques. I have always been of the school of thought to do whatever feels right at the time. I am also hoping using the andomen/diaphragm and chest passage ways, incorporated with allowing my mind to be mindful of other areas of my body that I may in time 'go deeper'  would you think I was on the right track? Could you possibly provide any further instruction?

Many thanks

Kev

ps.  I love the picture posted! Sums up my mind nicely sometimes ;)
pps. Chanfing my username to my real name, I don't feel comfortable behind a made up one.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2011, 11:40:15 AM by Anglepen »

Matthew

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2011, 12:46:45 PM »
Kev,

You are on the right track. The other advice I would offer is to watch the specific part of the video referenced here (the vid is four posts up in the same thread). That divides meditation into two types only: clinging/desire and letting go. It's a very lucid explanation.

Also "doing what feels right" can be useful but also can be misleading: your ego can easily trick you. So I would advise to stay (be disciplined) with Shamatha until you reach access concentration where the breath and the observer dissolve into one. Thereafter mindfully continue with open awareness of all sensations in the moment and see where you get!

Be well,

Matthew

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Anglepen

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2011, 04:27:45 PM »
That video clip, especially the section highlighted really made sense to me, thank you Matthew :)


Peace

Kev

Masauwu

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2011, 04:59:14 AM »
My monkey mind wants to ask something (again... :)).

I have a few things written down that i read every morning before sitting for various reasons. The first paragraph is this:
"Bringing mindfulness to the fore, breathe in aware of the entire body, calming the entire body, breathe out aware of the entire body, calming the entire body."

For a couple of days now i started thinking i didn`t understand the instruction, as simple as it is. To me the body and the breath are 2 separate objects to be aware of and i found myself juggling between them as the focus of awareness, and this can`t be right. I can`t seem to find the body and breath to be one. Or maybe it was meant to be awareness of the sensations in the body caused by the breath on its entire voyage from the belly to the nose, which means the whole upper body?

PS I don`t like monkeys.
PPS Well i don`t dislike monkeys, i just don`t want to be in the same room with them.  ;D
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.

Matthew

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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2011, 05:08:02 AM »
Aware of the bodily sensations (including those created by the breathing process) but not with a fabrication of following it from your nose to your lungs. The sensations might be in your chest, abdomen, throat, legs, arms, back, internal organs etc etc etc
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 05:24:06 AM by Matthew »
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soma

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2011, 05:23:53 AM »
Sorry if I confuse things even further but could you also say, breathing in - you know that you are breathing in and feeling the whole body relaxing. Breathing out - you know you breath out and feeling the whole body relaxing ?


Matthew

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2011, 05:26:08 AM »
Personally I've never mistaken breathing in for breathing out ;)
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soma

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2011, 05:37:17 AM »
he he - I meant that if one have a problem of where to focus on the breath sensations one can instead focus on the sensations of relaxing the whole body and at the same time be aware of the fact that one is breathing in and out . it is a slight emphasis on relaxing (really feeling that) and less on the breathing ('just' knowing that) if you see what I mean.

ok, gotta rush to work now.  :)

Matthew

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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2011, 05:41:35 AM »
Agreed - the relaxing element is often underplayed. Enjoy work !
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Andrew

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2011, 07:38:45 AM »
To me the body and the breath are 2 separate objects to be aware of and i found myself juggling between them as the focus of awareness, and this can`t be right. I can`t seem to find the body and breath to be one.

Hi Mate,

Only 2? The sensations will be in the dozens. Your 'focus' will be flicking back and forth all over your body quite quickly. It is a mistake to think you are trying to find a point of focus, an object..the sensations never persist long enough! It is the letting them be, all the sensations, just noticing them, that builds Mindfulness.  This is the mindfulness you have right now, reading this, but more and more calm and happy as you get relaxed with not having the internal commentary so strongly influencing you, or rather now influencing you to build more mindfulness!.

Have you read Mindfulness in Plain English? The chapter on Mindfulness /"Sati" is a life changer.

Have I said Mindfulness enough times? :D

love

Andrew
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 08:08:28 AM by Andrew »
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Andrew

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2011, 09:12:36 AM »
Read this sutta. Love it's simplicity and profound detail in few words.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

When you see 'calming' think letting go! Use the breath the do this, like a sigh! Like waking up and realising it is a public holiday! Notice how calmly you are sitting. Put a little smile on your face, I find this reminds me to be happy ready for the rapture bit!

The basis of the meditation is being relaxed in mind and body. Like a kid watching bugs, or a baby looking at it's mother, relaxed and happy! Matthew said it nicely a month or too back, "Don't mistake technique for meditation" that is a very good thing to remember, mindfulness was with us our whole life, reminding us to buy the milk, making walking in the park relaxing, all manner of things.

Love

Andrew
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Masauwu

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2011, 11:45:17 AM »
Agreed about the miriad of sensations and other things to be aware of, but i was referring to the "anchor" or main object of awareness in shamatha. I have a better idea now after reading all the replies and specially watching Bhante Vimalaramsi`s video posted on another topic.
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #39 on: June 07, 2011, 12:54:47 PM »

"Bringing mindfulness to the fore, breathe in aware of the entire body, calming the entire body, breathe out aware of the entire body, calming the entire body."



In three places I can think of, Buddha talks about the breath and mindfulness as tools.  (Wood Turning, Bath Soap, and a Saw) Read the verse you quoted carefully and you will see the that the breath is being used to calm the body.   There is no object or anchor, if it was the instructions would be different. Learn to use it to calm the body, allow yourself to know that you are breathing deliberately to do this. You notice tension in the breath and the sensations around it and you release it with a little smile. Calm-abiding literally means agreeing to relax! Being happy to go along with being calm. I don't remember reading that we watch the breath like an object, I'm not sure one can do that anyway without focusing on an area of the body. Our focus on the breath is the same as if we are using a hand tool like a saw, we watch it do the work, we just keep it moving mindfully (so we don't cut our fingers , like I did today!)

I was actually taught back in 2003 to watch the breath at the tip of the nose at dhammaloka centre, though not the main reason I got little results, it did contribute to 8 years of fruitless meditation( the one or two times a week I could be bothered) as I couldn't understand the link with what I had picked up to what Ajahm Brahm was talking about.

Like Mathew said, Relax. Happily agreeing to relax= Calm abiding. Get Monkey mind on your side by noting or counting your breath if you need to. I did this (noting feelings and sensations) to get started and it was good for 2 sessions!

Sit still, happily agree to calmly relax,  when you are still, enjoy feeling yourself being still, enjoy your relaxed breath, as your body sinks into calm, then you will get 'missile lock' all on it's own! The mind will snap to attention, just like Buddhas did while he sat watching his fathers fields as a kid!

Anyway glad to here you are sitting regularly.

Keep it up Brother!

Andrew

 

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Masauwu

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #40 on: June 09, 2011, 04:59:26 PM »
Sorry to keep on going in circles on the same subject, but it`s very important to me to understand this completely and it seems there are small nuances that can make a difference in the end result. I am not a calm or happy person, i can not make myself calm or relaxed at will, somehow it would feel fabricated. But maybe i don`t have to, after all.

Up until now, i thought my instructions were along the lines of: Breathe in sensitive to the entire body, calming the entire body, breathe out sensitive to the entire body, calming the entire body. But when i read the Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing:

Quote
"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore.[4] Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind.' [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'

"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion.'[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

Those numbers to me seem to be 16 stages of progress in this practice; please correct me if i`m wrong. And being sensitive to the entire body and calming the body seem to come forth as progress results of the initial mindfulness of breathing stages. It can`t be a list of things to be aware of from day one, because i don`t have any rapture that i know of, not to mention the other things in the list.

So now, as a beginner who wouldn`t know calm if it hit him in the face, my instructions should be along the lines of: Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' Simple mindfulness of breathing. And i will deal with calm and rapture when they appear, they have a lot of explaining to do... wandering around like that without me knowing where they are.  ;D

Any opinions greatly appreciated.
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #41 on: June 10, 2011, 02:24:20 AM »
, but it`s very important to me to understand this completely and it seems there are small nuances that can make a difference in the end result.



You are doing so well mate, really good. Going to the source (suttas) is far superior to my method of rushing over them!

Don't sweet understanding it completely, there are very few people who can actually claim to have done that! They are call Arahats!

My opinion is not to get to hung up on the method, but to keep sitting and noticing the different results of where each session goes based on what efforts you made.

So, if you sit there and just make the breath your focus, like you where saying a few posts back, then note the effect of that.
Next session, just concentrate on the body perhaps. Note the effects to yourself. There are so many 'ordinary' feelings that we just don't notice. One thing that is very important; never get up of the mat and say things like "That was a waste of time" or "still haven't got it". Every session is important and does a world of unseen good, be thankful and move on with your day.

I found myself aware of what I thought was anger and frustration in the middle of my chest. So it was a 'focus' of sorts for a few sessions. It ended up being a distraction, but I kept going and have seen alot more results since then of a different nature, that bear more similarity to what is described in the suttas.

Just keep sitting, and the body mind will heal first, then start marathon training! That's what I found anyway, alot of emotional things and expectations clouded me noticing where calm was hiding!

Your a champ.

Andy

 
« Last Edit: June 10, 2011, 02:31:19 AM by Andrew »
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Jeeprs

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Re: Shamatha Meditation
« Reply #42 on: June 10, 2011, 02:37:36 AM »
Also be aware of the fact that Buddhist love lists. They are very methodical in the way they analyze subjects, and the passage you have quoted really shows that. It is something very basic to the Buddhist view, and I think is characteristic of the Buddha himself - very methodical, logical in regard to those subjects where method and logic are helpful. Also bear in mind that these texts have been repeated, edited and refined for many, many generations. So this explains this very structured nature of the material. Subjectively, it is not like that at all (at least it has never been for me). It is not as if you suddenly realize 'aha! Here I am at Stage X!'. Some people might, but I don't think many do.

As Andrew and the others are saying, don't concern yourself too much with the technicalities. Persistence and purity-of-intention are the only things required. If you persist with the practice, and acquaint yourself with the literature, as you are doing, things gradually fall into place quite naturally.