Meditation is hard...

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
Matticus
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Meditation is hard...

Postby Matticus » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:43 am

I've been meditating for about 1 year now, and I've recently re-affirmed myself to practice more this year. In the past, I've mostly attempted a practice regimen of Anapana and the White Skeleton meditation. I'm terrible at both of them, to be quit honest. I would still like to keep practicing them due to the great benefits I've heard both of them have for ones health and success at achieving Samadhi. Samadhi, I should mention is my first "big goal". I'm posting here to hopefully gleam some advice and wisdom from the ladies and gentlemen on these forums.. I'll post both meditations, and underneath I'll list the problems that seem to be blocking me from making much progress. I've read that the hardest meditations for you are usually the best ones, and getting through the difficulties will be VERY beneficial for you. It makes sense to me, just like working out for health, pain while excersizing means that your body is becoming more healthy and strong. I don't want to give up on these meditations, and I don't plan too. So any advice would be MASSIVELY appreciated.

ANAPANA
1. Whenever I try to become aware of my breath, I always end up struggeling to let it continue naturally. After I've settled down and bring my awareness towards my breath, I seem to unintentionally control it like a robot..
If I try to just let it go and work on it's own I tend to just end up holding my breath.. I've heard a correct way to begin practice is to "Watch your breath like a parent watches a baby sleep, don't try to interfere" I feel like what I end up doing is taking an emergency breathing device and then I start using it the "sleeping baby" If I relax my attention on my breath to just let it happen naturally my mind just wanders around anyways.

WHITE SKELETON
1. This ones easy, I'm just plain TERRIBLE at visualization practices. It's not that I can't manifest an image in my mind, It's that I can't keep it stable. Thats a pretty gross understatement too. My mind runs wild with uncontrollable imagery, colors, patterns and movements. Sometimes, I can keep a "stabelish" Idea on imagining my skeleton, "beginning with my left big toe", and then my skeleton is usually a slick, brackish black, brown or yellowish color" instead of a dazzling white that It's supposed to be visualized as. I've read that i'm supposed to repent, if this is the case. I can honestly say I haven't commited any serious crimes in my life, and I'd like to think I'm a good person in general. I'm not a saint by any means either though... I Imagine it's past Karma that makes this process so frustrating. The saying about trying to bake a cake using sand comes to mind.

Any advice on breath work and improving visualization practice, or ANYTHING that ANYONE thinks will help, will be most welcome and most sincerely appreciated.

Matticus
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Matticus » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:47 am


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Huifeng
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Huifeng » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:54 am

If samadhi is your goal, first prepare the requisites for samadhi, such as pure sila.

~~ Huifeng


Jeff
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Jeff » Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:05 pm

Hi Matticus,

If you don't mind, a meditation suggestion... Instead of trying to watch your breath for a while, try "just listening" to relaxing music for a while. Put on some headphones/earbuds and just listen. While listening, you may actually notice that the music seems to actually get louder. Music can be very good to help calm the salvage beast/mind.

Regards, Jeff

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Grigoris
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Grigoris » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:29 pm

Ven Huifeng is 100% correct, problems in meditation are due to lack of merit, listening to music won't solve that! Maybe take and keep some precepts and start a series of daily offering practices (water bowl offerings for example) to generate merit and 35 Confession Buddha practice to work on the (past) causes of your current problem (this practice also starts to focus your mind on not engaging in unwholesome behaviour, so it works on what you do now, thus it also influences present karma and future outcomes).
:namaste:
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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futerko
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby futerko » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:38 pm


Jeff
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Jeff » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:47 pm


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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:26 pm

Try out different objects of focus than breath, for instance gazing at an object, or concentrating on a visualized object, you can also try to focus on no object, I find that harder.
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

-Jeff H.

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futerko
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby futerko » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:32 pm


Jeff
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Jeff » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:41 pm


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Grigoris
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Grigoris » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:07 pm

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

Jeff
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Jeff » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:28 pm


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justsit
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby justsit » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:28 pm


Jeff
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Jeff » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:43 pm


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anjali
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby anjali » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:27 pm

All things are unworthy of clinging to (sabbe dhammā nâla abhinivesāyā). --Shakyamuni Buddha
Wanting to grasp the ungraspable, you exhaust yourself in vain. --Gendun Rinpoche

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Grigoris
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Grigoris » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:58 pm

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

Jeff
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Jeff » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:38 pm


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Grigoris
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Grigoris » Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:41 pm

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

Jeff
Posts: 354
Joined: Sat May 26, 2012 2:22 pm

Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Jeff » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:24 am

Hi Greg,

I also agree it is not a big deal, I just thought we were having an interesting intellectual discussion regarding karma/merit. :smile:

For an action to be wholesome, for me, it would require a wholesome intent. Earlier you stated the relative importance of the action, and your position that an offering with a negative intent still generated merit. My position is summed up below...

In the Nibbedhika Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya 6.63) the Buddha said:
"Intention (P. cetana, S. cetanā) I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect."

:namaste: :smile:

Matticus
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Re: Meditation is hard...

Postby Matticus » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:36 am

Thank you all for posting! I'm going to try to digest and apply the advice I've learned from you all. I've got a few questions on some of the responses. What is a "Water Bowl Offering"? Also, I don't really have a lineage. I've obtained most of my knowledge from reading the work of Master Nan Haui Chin. I don't really know If that would really qualify him as my Guru, but I can actually picture his photograph fairly well. Would that be appropriate or should I choose an Image of Buddha or Boddhisattva or something. One more thing, I stumbled onto the practice of Kasina last night, focusing on a candle seems like a reasonable way of practicing holding a sustained image in my mind. Any thoughts? Again, thank you all!

On a 2nd note for the discussion on merit in the thread. From what I loosely understand about merit, even if you were to give money or food to a begger selflessly and without a mind thinking of the possible benefits coming back your way it may not be good. If that begger uses the money to harm himself or others, or dies of a crazy food allergy, even with the purest intentions you would still be on the recieving side of some bad Karma. That thought makes me super cautious about what Charity's I donate too. I suppose a decent example would be the Heiffer Organization. Through them you can buy an animal through the organization and they will send it to an impoverished family or village. Unfortuantely, sometimes they send over an animal that is invasive and increadibly harmfull to a foreign ecosystem. Or I've read about articles about family's not being able to pay for veteranarian bills to keep their animals healthy. In the end both the family's AND the animal suffered and were harmed through the charities honest and wholesome intentions. I don't know if this really applies to what you good folks are discussing though.


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