Correct meditation/mindfulness

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby Doomguy93 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:26 pm

So I've been trying to improve my meditation for the past few weeks, I've seen improvements but I just wanted some input on what I've been experiencing. When I first sit down to meditate my mind is generally distracted, after 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes 5 minutes on a good day) I can quiet the mind down and only focus on the breathing for the most part but sometimes I still notice thoughts is it normal to take that long to quiet the mind down?
With mindfulness outside of meditation, is it the simply awareness of the body/mind/perceptions those perceptions/mind objects pass, and awareness of the body? The reason why I ask this is because the general explanation is pretty simplistic, yet so hard to actually achieve sometimes.
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby Jikan » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:36 pm

Doomguy93 wrote:So I've been trying to improve my meditation for the past few weeks, I've seen improvements but I just wanted some input on what I've been experiencing. When I first sit down to meditate my mind is generally distracted, after 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes 5 minutes on a good day) I can quiet the mind down and only focus on the breathing for the most part but sometimes I still notice thoughts is it normal to take that long to quiet the mind down?


Sure, perfectly normal. The mind's a busy place. Don't expect for thoughts not to arise. What's important is to recognize anything that arises as the play of the mind.

With mindfulness outside of meditation, is it the simply awareness of the body/mind/perceptions those perceptions/mind objects pass, and awareness of the body? The reason why I ask this is because the general explanation is pretty simplistic, yet so hard to actually achieve sometimes.


It's a simple practice that is, indeed, difficult to maintain. The point is to be aware of what you are doing when you do it. When you brush your teeth, you are not chasing after thoughts of past or future. You just attend to the moment of scrub scrub scrub. And so on for all activities. Be present. Don't chase after thoughts. Recognize when you do and come on back. Over and over and over and over... that's how I've been taught.

Enjoy your practice.
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby lobster » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:44 pm

When the mind has to sit with itself, with us 'in attendance', its distracted nature becomes apparent. Don't fight or cling to notions of what should be happening.

It is what it is.

In time we settle into [insert nature of practice] and our settling is sometimes unsettled, unsettling and sometimes settling, settled and we prefer that . . . both are important but neither is preferred by the mind . . .

It is where it is . . . :namaste:

Hope that is helpful :popcorn:
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby avisitor » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:14 am

Please update us on how your meditation is going.
How do you see mindfulness now??
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby dimeo » Sun Oct 06, 2013 3:22 am

How are things going now as the months have passed?

Doomguy93 wrote: but sometimes I still notice thoughts is it normal to take that long to quiet the mind down?


Experiences vary and we're all different, but I'd say yes, it's common to initially observe your mind being active, and that it takes time (and regular practice). You might begin to observe more subtle thoughts and sensations as your mediation deepens. But in mediation there's always layers of phenomenon you'll experience. You might notice a 'space between thoughts' at times. You might notice the internal chatter and speed of the stream of thoughts slowing down with time and regular practice. You might notice sometimes your body feels very uncomfortable during mediation, and at other times the complete opposite. It's important to not cling to meditation needing to be one way or another, but rather to practice frequently.

With mindfulness outside of meditation, is it the simply awareness of the body/mind/perceptions those perceptions/mind objects pass, and awareness of the body?

I'm not sure I get what you mean here by this. Are you asking:
Is mindfulness outside of mediation simply the awareness of the body, the thoughts, and perceptions?

To this question I'd say yes, that the goal of being mindful in daily life is pure direct awareness of the body, thoughts and perception. And going further, some teachings say that all phenomena are mind. From what I understand of teachings in Mahamudra, we are using the mind to observe the nature of mind itself.
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby Anicca » Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:56 pm

Hello Friends,
Although I have learned a lot about Buddhism in the past year, I am fairly new in the actual practice of meditation. I have read several mantras or thoughts to meditate on including the simple task of controlling one's breath but when I actually practice it I do not feel more aware or calm. In addition, after having an ACL reconstructive surgery on me knee I find it difficult to sit in a Lotus Position or Half Lotus. Can someone inform me of something I should actually visualize or think of or recite when I meditate so I can achieve better results and perhaps any pointers for a novice in regards to sitting position or anything else?

Metta,
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby justsit » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:39 pm

There are many types of meditation, but basic Buddhist meditation, especially when beginning, does not involve "thinking about" or visualization. Rather, the focus is on the breath in order to calm the mind. Here is some basic meditation instruction. Keeping the attention on the breath will help tame the wild monkey mind. Frequent short sessions (5-10 minutes to start) are better than marathons.

Lotus/half-lotus are preferable, but not absolutely necessary, as long as you maintain the other components of correct posture - straight spine, etc., as discussed here. Due to your knee issues, when using a chair, make sure you are not leaning against the back and your feet are flat on the floor, or use a pillow under the feet if needed. Trying to meditate in a lying position is mostly discouraged.

And remember - relax!
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby Qing Tian » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:47 pm

In my personal experience I have found that the advice to 'focus on the breath' is somewhat misleading - more a wrong choice of words. Focus implies concentration, and concentration implies control. In anapanasati it is sufficient to simply observe the ebb and flow of the breath, neither focussing nor controlling it. This can be something of a slippery concept as the mind just loves to latch onto things and play with them! And so, once again in my experience, most people have a bit of trouble at the beginning because their intention to relax the mind and focus on the breathing leads to a forced breathing pattern that actually increases tension. In letting go of the 'focus' part and merely observing, the breath becomes softer and more natural, with natural and subtle rhythms (it's not a metronome!). As the practice deepens one can become aware of the the simplicity of observation and often the first glimmer of the mind set free. Of course, as soon as this is noted the mind latches onto it and refocuses and we have to start all over again :smile:

It takes time and patience to move from a state of expectation to a state of simple acceptance.

TL:DR take home message: do not control the breath during anapanasati


Disclaimer: the above is based on my own experience. Your experiences may vary.
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby Gwenn Dana » Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:45 pm

Very true.

Observe your breath without controlling it.
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Re: Correct meditation/mindfulness

Postby Seeker of Wisdom » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:52 pm

Qing Tian wrote:In my personal experience I have found that the advice to 'focus on the breath' is somewhat misleading - more a wrong choice of words. Focus implies concentration, and concentration implies control. In anapanasati it is sufficient to simply observe the ebb and flow of the breath, neither focussing nor controlling it. This can be something of a slippery concept as the mind just loves to latch onto things and play with them! And so, once again in my experience, most people have a bit of trouble at the beginning because their intention to relax the mind and focus on the breathing leads to a forced breathing pattern that actually increases tension. In letting go of the 'focus' part and merely observing, the breath becomes softer and more natural, with natural and subtle rhythms (it's not a metronome!). As the practice deepens one can become aware of the the simplicity of observation and often the first glimmer of the mind set free. Of course, as soon as this is noted the mind latches onto it and refocuses and we have to start all over again :smile:

It takes time and patience to move from a state of expectation to a state of simple acceptance.

TL:DR take home message: do not control the breath during anapanasati


Disclaimer: the above is based on my own experience. Your experiences may vary.


I came to the exact same conclusion in my own meditation too. There's a difference between purely noticing/observing the breath and concentrating/focusing on the breath. The latter implies something you actively do to achieve.

I am sure most of us have the experience of doing a task and listening to radio at the same time. For example, I like to listen to youtube video clips about UFO, ancient aliens, and those kind of weird topics. Whenever I read the mails, write checks to pay bills, and work on similar easy tasks that doesn't require a lot of concentration, I would play those youtube clips. But my main focus will be on working on paying the bills, and reconciling bank statements. I just have the youtube clips on and playing in the background so that I don't get bored. Once in a while though, the clip would talk about some interesting topics, such as, for example, new evidence proving existence of life on Mars. When this happens, my mind start to both work on the tasks and follow the clips. However, I wasn't actively concentrating on the clips. I was simply aware of what it the clips are saying. That is the state that you should have when following the breath. You are not trying to focus on it. You are simply following, noticing, observing it passively.
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