Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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shanyin
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Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by shanyin » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:04 am

Can someone give Samatha (mindfulness of breathing) instructions? And also, how to deal with thoughts included.

For example, I used to really like dealing with thoughts in meditation. I would be able to notice space between my thoughts (time) and I would acknowledge when my mind follows a line of thought then return to the breath.

So, with the mind on the meditation object (the belly) following all the way in and all the way out, not following my thoughts, and everything is just in the background.

Sorry I know I post alot on Buddhist forums looking for support and alot of the time my posts aren't the best but I would like to know how to deal with thoughts in meditation. To me dealing with thoughts in meditation is almost the whole practice. Not to interfere with thoughts but just to develop non-judgemental awareness.

mikenz66
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:16 am

Hi Shanyin,

If you don't mind some non-Mayahana input you might find Patrick Kearney's session entitled "Tracking the Thought Stream" in his retreat recordings useful. He gives some very practical suggestions about working with thoughts.

There are several retreat recordings here:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/audio.html

I've never actually met Patrick, but he includes extensive instructions and Q&A in the recordings, so it's almost as good as being there, the only downside is that you can't ask the questions yourself...

:anjali:
Mike

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:57 am

Patrick Kearney's instructions are good, I agree.

He has a free pdf of the same teaching (I think) called Watching The Mindstream available on Buddhanet.

Anyway, they way to deal wight thoughts is let them go like clouds passing in the sky, or like snowflakes dissolving in the ocean - my favorite analogies;)

What is actually is a constant process of being distracted, the noticing distraction and returning to the object.
To me dealing with thoughts in meditation is almost the whole practice. Not to interfere with thoughts but just to develop non-judgemental awareness.
There are reams of instructions on the subject across Buddhist traditions, it's a pretty deep question/practice.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

Motova
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by Motova » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:09 am

shanyin wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:04 am
Can someone give Samatha (mindfulness of breathing) instructions? And also, how to deal with thoughts included.

For example, I used to really like dealing with thoughts in meditation. I would be able to notice space between my thoughts (time) and I would acknowledge when my mind follows a line of thought then return to the breath.

So, with the mind on the meditation object (the belly) following all the way in and all the way out, not following my thoughts, and everything is just in the background.

Sorry I know I post alot on Buddhist forums looking for support and alot of the time my posts aren't the best but I would like to know how to deal with thoughts in meditation. To me dealing with thoughts in meditation is almost the whole practice. Not to interfere with thoughts but just to develop non-judgemental awareness.
https://www.amazon.ca/Mindfulness-Bliss ... oks&sr=1-3

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Buy these, you won't be disappointed.

shanyin
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by shanyin » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:28 am

I feel like as soon as my mind is focused on the belly in the present moment, my mind wants to be distracted. It wants to follow a thought then I get uncomfortable with my meditation because I'm not sure what to do ...

mikenz66
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:42 am

That's exactly the sort of thing that Patrick's sessions discuss. As JD points out, so do many other meditation teachers. The strategy many suggest is to find a way of being aware of thoughts without getting lost in the content. One way of doing that is to find something about the thoughts to be aware of that isn't the content. Patrick goes through some exercises on various ways of approaching it - Where is the thought? What does it feel like? ... The comments from participants are useful, as it becomes obvious how different the experiences can be...

:heart:
Mike

shanyin
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by shanyin » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:50 am

Or the other side of that coin is that when I feel like I am succesfully in the present moment I feel the need to stop meditating.

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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:09 am

shanyin wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:28 am
I feel like as soon as my mind is focused on the belly in the present moment, my mind wants to be distracted. It wants to follow a thought then I get uncomfortable with my meditation because I'm not sure what to do ...
Understand the experience of discomfort, or the desire to stop meditating etc. as the thought you are watching, and return to the object - this is how I've been advised at least. Any phenomena that pulls you away, notice and return, how you feel about it is just another layer. That is pretty classic shamatha.. you can also examine the thought or emotion, location, dwelling place, color as mikenz says, and sometimes it will dissolve..but this is more advanced technique relatively speaking and not something I would personally jump into deeply without instruction or before you are ready. The basic shamatha I was taught is simply notice and return...I remember something by Ajahn Chah where he says, view the thoughts etc' as "none of my business" and go back to your object.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

Motova
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Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:05 pm

Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by Motova » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:28 am

Motova wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:09 am
shanyin wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:04 am
Can someone give Samatha (mindfulness of breathing) instructions? And also, how to deal with thoughts included.

For example, I used to really like dealing with thoughts in meditation. I would be able to notice space between my thoughts (time) and I would acknowledge when my mind follows a line of thought then return to the breath.

So, with the mind on the meditation object (the belly) following all the way in and all the way out, not following my thoughts, and everything is just in the background.

Sorry I know I post alot on Buddhist forums looking for support and alot of the time my posts aren't the best but I would like to know how to deal with thoughts in meditation. To me dealing with thoughts in meditation is almost the whole practice. Not to interfere with thoughts but just to develop non-judgemental awareness.
https://www.amazon.ca/Mindfulness-Bliss ... oks&sr=1-3

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/159030 ... UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/086171 ... UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/086171 ... UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/161429 ... UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.ca/Comprehensive-Man ... X756N8ZN21

Buy these, you won't be disappointed.
I forgot this: https://www.amazon.ca/Path-Purification ... J89HVMRMHH

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Wayfarer
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:50 am

shanyin wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:50 am
Or the other side of that coin is that when I feel like I am successfully in the present moment I feel the need to stop meditating.
The mind here is being led by desire ('this is good, I have succeeded') and aversion ('I'm distracted, this is not good'). That's OK, it's quite normal to feel those things, just know they are 'thoughts arising' and 'feelings arising'. Notice that they are arising, and then return to the breath. Try and maintain the pose for the designated time, don't become agitated about whether you're 'doing it right' or not, just maintain the posture, return to the breath, and stay with it.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

Jesse
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by Jesse » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:17 pm

One of the neatest discoveries is that emotions like boredom, or feeling like doing something else, impatience, or even feeling satisfied with your meditation; are just more momentary sensations, just like the thoughts that come and go.

Once everything in the mind is treated the same way as distracting thoughts, meditation becomes much easier, and more productive.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

Jehanne
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by Jehanne » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:56 am

Shanyin,
you've been given good advice already. I would only maybe add the reminder that practice is the key. You have to repeat many times, consistently, the practise in order for your concentration to develop. So everytime you notice you have drifted away, move the focus back to the breath and try to stay there. It takes time to learn how much effort is needed. Sometimes you need to add a bit more effort of sharpen your senses if you're getting tired. Sometimes it is more beneficial to relax the effort and go more easily. Also, how long session are you having? You should sit long enough that the initial restlessness goes away, but not set your goal too high ("I will sit for three hours uninterrupted!"). Maybe 20-30 minutes might be a good start. It's important to understand that not everyday your concentration is the same, and be gentle. The important point here again is to sit everyday and continue to practise, no matter what :)

shanyin
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by shanyin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:17 pm

Jehanne wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:56 am
Shanyin,
you've been given good advice already. I would only maybe add the reminder that practice is the key. You have to repeat many times, consistently, the practise in order for your concentration to develop. So everytime you notice you have drifted away, move the focus back to the breath and try to stay there. It takes time to learn how much effort is needed. Sometimes you need to add a bit more effort of sharpen your senses if you're getting tired. Sometimes it is more beneficial to relax the effort and go more easily. Also, how long session are you having? You should sit long enough that the initial restlessness goes away, but not set your goal too high ("I will sit for three hours uninterrupted!"). Maybe 20-30 minutes might be a good start. It's important to understand that not everyday your concentration is the same, and be gentle. The important point here again is to sit everyday and continue to practise, no matter what :)
My meditations last about 5-10 minutes I'm pretty sure. I try to focus on the belly and on the in breath recite "buddh" and then "o" on the outbreath sometimes. Other times I just focus on the breath.

I don't know if it's my medication, my family (who drives me nuts) or smoking but I feel strange. Thoughts don't seem to experience like words or are very powerful I suppose.

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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:28 pm

shanyin wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:17 pm
Jehanne wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:56 am
Shanyin,
you've been given good advice already. I would only maybe add the reminder that practice is the key. You have to repeat many times, consistently, the practise in order for your concentration to develop. So everytime you notice you have drifted away, move the focus back to the breath and try to stay there. It takes time to learn how much effort is needed. Sometimes you need to add a bit more effort of sharpen your senses if you're getting tired. Sometimes it is more beneficial to relax the effort and go more easily. Also, how long session are you having? You should sit long enough that the initial restlessness goes away, but not set your goal too high ("I will sit for three hours uninterrupted!"). Maybe 20-30 minutes might be a good start. It's important to understand that not everyday your concentration is the same, and be gentle. The important point here again is to sit everyday and continue to practise, no matter what :)
My meditations last about 5-10 minutes I'm pretty sure. I try to focus on the belly and on the in breath recite "buddh" and then "o" on the outbreath sometimes. Other times I just focus on the breath.

I don't know if it's my medication, my family (who drives me nuts) or smoking but I feel strange. Thoughts don't seem to experience like words or are very powerful I suppose.
Also you should be careful with your mental health. Shamatha meditation can increase or cause problems with some mental health conditions, especially if you are trying really hard. There is something to be said for simply taking a walk with an open awareness, or relaxing with a lucid, clear mind...rather than trying to force a technique.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

mariel.hespanhol
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Re: Thoughts in Samatha Meditation

Post by mariel.hespanhol » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:54 pm

shanyin wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:04 am
Can someone give Samatha (mindfulness of breathing) instructions? And also, how to deal with thoughts included.
It has been very helpful for me to watch Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's instruction and advice on meditation for begginners in these talks:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6aST9ibFNU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL1ehYl4D7w

Hope it helps you :anjali:
Que todos os seres possam se beneficiar _/\_

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