Author Topic: Thinking, writing, meditating and feeling better  (Read 2243 times)

alexaquatic

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Thinking, writing, meditating and feeling better
« on: April 15, 2010, 05:17:29 PM »
Hi:

New here and new to meditation as well, with some questions for you:

1.I've been practicing meditation for 6 months. The first 4 months (on and off) I was practicing a type of meditation that I learned from a video of Deepak Chopra (with a mantra), but then I found the online book "Mindfulness In Plain English" and it just made much more sense to me, that I decided to give Vipassana a try. So, the last 2 months I've been practicing meditation almost daily and so far I feel I haven't got the Samatha part quite right yet, but I am working on it. Also, during these 6 months I also been setting time to think and write, mostly aobut the things I do and why I do them, the way I feel, why it's so hard to change, etc. and I it has been liberating as I've found issues that I didn't realize I had, mostly about me being kind of immature at 33 years of age. I dont know if the meditations had anything to do with these revelations, because they have just appeard as I was writing or just in the middle of the day as I was thinking about it. So my first question is, should I keep setting time to think and write about stuff or should I just stick to the meditation? The reason I am asking this because in "Mindfulness in.." it says the purpose of meditation is to be mindful all the time, and thinking is not being mindful, or am I getting something wrong?

2. I have been practicing meditation for 20 minutes in the morning and also I've just started to sit in the evening for another 20 minutes, but sometimes I feel that I am not doing enough, but as I work all day I don't have more time for meditation. So, I was wondering what can I do during my day to practice? I read that one way to practice is to be mindful of what you're doing at the present moment, but at this level of my development I don't know if am able to be mindful.

3.As a result of me finding out about these personal issues along with other stuff, sometimes I've been feeling sad, lonely, helpless and unable to work. Should I try to meditate right away to make myself feel better or should I just stick to my my morning and evening sessions?

Thanks for reading...

Alex



Morning Dew

  • Guest
Re: Thinking, writing, meditating and feeling better
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2010, 08:22:46 PM »
Hi alexaquatic,

Here you can read about my trip into Shamatha practice. Maybe it will give you some answers;  
http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,711.0.html

Remain relaxed  :)

« Last Edit: April 15, 2010, 08:37:41 PM by Morning Dew »

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: Thinking, writing, meditating and feeling better
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2010, 07:33:45 AM »
alexaquatic,

Bhante Gunaratana does not go deeply into Shamatha Meditation until his second book "Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English".

My teacher taught me this simple recipe for meditation - which is the other way around ....:

Shamatha -- leads to --> Samadhi (one pointed mind / concentration) -- leads to --> Trying to achieve understanding (through insight / Vipassana):

My root teacher, Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, summed up ten days of intensive (up to 3 four hour talks per day) of Dhamma teachings such that the Dhamma can be distilled to a very simple recipe. She used 29 words. I have added three for a point of clarity:



  • Generosity

  • Avoiding Harm

  • Patience

  • Effort (Discipline / Shila)

  • Meditation (Shamatha, Samadi, Trying to achieve understanding - i.e. Vipassana/insight)



"Combine all five to become wisdom-mind"



“Do not allow arisings to become solid obstacles”.






Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche (some ten years ago - more recent pictures on her website linked above).

The establishment of calm through focussing on whole-body breathing effectively calms the mind very well. And there is definitely a place for reflection, thinking - and if it helps you organise thoughts and make sense - writing. But first emphasis is on calming body-mind through the practical application of Shamatha.

Many of us discover that what has been unconscious is brought into consciousness. Indeed this is one of the defining qualities of good meditation practice that it will do so.

It's good to place everything in the context of "non attachment" and remember "everything changes", hence the line in the above quote:

"Do not let arisings become solid obstacles".

Practicalities and answers to your direct questions:

Mindfulness without a firm base of Shamatha and the resulting calm and focus it brings is harder for most people in my experience. This base gives you the mental space to deal with things.

Meditation undoubtedly helped you reveal those things that have been revealed: as I said it brings that which is unconscious into consciousness. By doing so it removes the conditioning effect of those things: they no longer are bubbling under the surface and emerging as fully fledged thoughts/reactions we then attach to and assume "this is me".

One of the Buddha's metaphor's for "enlightenment" was "beyond conditioned existence". This is what he was referring to.

For a couple of months you could try using the time you spend writing to deepen your Shamatha practice and Samadhi as an experiment as this will allow you more meditation time. You have to find the balance but the result of this is that insight will become easier. See below for more about Shamatha.

Be patient with yourself, compassionate to yourself, generous to yourself and disciplined with yourself: these are the roots of bringing these faculties to everyday life - and to your relationships with others. "You can not give away that you do not own".

Another way to do more Shamatha is to do "toilet meditation". This one is great for people who work in offices. If you can't sit at your desk for five minutes practicing Shamatha a few times a day go and do it on the toilet (often one of the  only places in an office you will not be disturbed by too much and a good way of developing equanimity).

The rest of your working day will be more productive as a result as you will operate from a more stable base and be more effective at your work.

And/or use the time on the bus/train to meditate.

Being mindful all the time just means stepping back a tiny bit from what you are engaged in so you know you are engaged in it mindfully: with knowledge of what you are doing without becoming what you are doing. We are human BEINGS and not human DOINGS.

As soon as you feel lonely, lost or unable to work I suggest you root yourself in Shamatha practice on the spot. It can be done standing, sitting, laying or walking. Don't do this "to make yourself feel better" - do it to ground yourself. You will still face obstacles, but this will give you the strength and flexibility of mind to be sure they do not become "solid obstacles".

Once your Shamatha practice is strong you can maintain mindfulness with ease. I propose Shamatha a little differently to Bhante Gunaratana based on reading the Sutta's:

... Meditation begins as relaxing into your bodymind and reconnecting body and mind through total awareness of breath.

Awareness occurs throughout the body and mind through the distributed nervous system, though is of course centred in the brain - as the final organ of cognition of all perceptions.

...

The Buddha did not teach to focus breathing on the nose. For westerners who are often "head heavy" in their general way of living - and to some extent disembodied because of our cultural preference and conditioning towards rationality - this can be a particular and significant problem.

The Buddha taught:

Quote from: www.accesstoinsight.org
"There is the case where an aspirant -- having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building -- sits down cross-legged, holding the body erect and setting her (4) awareness before her. Always aware, one breathes in; aware one breathes out aware.

"Breathing in long, one discerns that one is breathing in long; or breathing out long, one discerns that one is breathing out long. Or breathing in short, one discerns that one is breathing in short; or breathing out short, one discerns that one is breathing out short. One trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. One trains herself to breathe in calming the entire body and to breathe out calming the entire body.
"

So according to the Buddha the focus of meditation is the entire breathing experience and body, not the nostrils. And the prime first goals are awareness or sensitivity to the entire body and relaxation or calming.

....
 

Still mind can be quickly achieved by Anapana or any other over-forced breath meditation - but it becomes a form of self hypnosis.....


Develop awareness of your whole body breathing. Relax during your meditation and feel the breath entering your lungs, feel the abdomen stretching out to accommodate this.  "Train (yourself) to breathe in sensitive to the entire body and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. Train (yourself) to breathe in calming the entire body and to breathe out calming the entire body." Let thoughts, feelings and emotions arise, be aware of them but do not engage of them. If you do then when you realise return to awareness of whole body breathing, noting the deviation from practice without self criticism.

.....

Also do not be afraid to have the eyes open a little, looking gently at the floor 1 - 2 metres in front of you. The eyes should be relaxed - as in when sleeping - but not forcefully closed, when meditating.

Trusting that some of the above will help and some might raise questions - that you will ask!

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

Matthew

ps Deepak Chopra is not someone I recognise as truly spiritual. He is monetising spirituality and getting rich - which is never a good sign.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 09:52:28 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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alexaquatic

  • Guest
Re: Thinking, writing, meditating and feeling better
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2010, 11:46:10 PM »
Morning Dew, thanks for sharing your experience, it's very interesting...

Matthew, thanks for your thoughtful answer, it sure answers my questions and also I am sure as I go along I will have more... Also I have been reading again "Mindfulness in Plain English" and I have been understaning it more than the first time I read it. I'll try to find "Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English" after I finish this one. It's really simple and to the point...

In my meditations I try to focus on the nostrils as he says in the book. I'll try whole body meditation and see how it goes...

You're right about Chopra. I visited his website awhile back to find something about meditation and all I could find was links to his products or information about his spa. Oh, well...

I'll report back with my progress.

Thanks for reading...

 

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