Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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ryan95227
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Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by ryan95227 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:46 pm

i have been meditating for about 4 months approximately. I've read a beginner's guide to meditation "with each and every breath" and the noble eightfold path from accesstoinsight.org. These two things i have read talk about the importance of body scanning and sitting comfortably to maximize the energy needed for jhana to be reached. I have extreme problems with this approach. I've incoporated body scanning for 3 weeks so far and i have not detected any signs of movements,sensations,tensions, or etc. There's nothing I can detect. Is body scanning actually true or something? Now my second problem is sitting comfortably. I can't sit in half/full lotus position. I need to rely on a wall and a soft bed to get by. I lay my legs on top of each and this puts pressure on my legs as my meditaiton time exceeds 30 mins. How can i sit in half/full lotus?

These problems are bothering me as I'm planning to head over to 10 day retreat over summer. There's no way i can sit down on a soft ground without any wall to rely on for 2 hours. Its impossible. My back will break. Is there any way for me to sit in half/full lotus or any way for me to dectect body sensations?

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Dan74
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by Dan74 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:23 pm

Hi Ryan,

I sit in Burmese which I find much easier than half-lotus and still very stable. Image

And I wouldn't sit for more than 50 minutes generally and for a beginner, that is usually too long. I'd build up from 15-20 up to 30-40.

As for body scanning, do you mean you are not aware of any sensations of your body? Tightness, tingling, etc?

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daverupa
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by daverupa » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:30 pm

ryan95227 wrote:How can i sit in half/full lotus?
Stretching and time, and even then some people just don't have the hips for those postures.

But I wouldn't focus there; get a zafu, or a meditation bench, or a small zaisu chair shoved into a large beanbag, etc. For the retreat you have planned, there are meditation benches with folding legs, or you can use a zaisu chair on it's own, and both of those can fit in a backpack or satchel.

As to the body scanning issue, Dan has asked a good question... :popcorn:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

ryan95227
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by ryan95227 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:34 pm

I can't sense tingling or any sensations. I only notice the usual pain in my trap/legs/back from sitting too much

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Dan74
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by Dan74 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:41 pm

Scanning practice is something usually done at the start, I think, so you shouldn't be sore yet :)

I'd still persist with the practice, maybe slow down a little. You will surely feel where your toes/feet/legs are folded in unusual position, your stomach rising and falling from breathing, the back exerting to keep straight, the air moving through the chest, and a few others?

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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by Kaccāni » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:23 pm

Hmm. Dependent on your body architecture, ligature length, etc. sitting upright and free may just not be made for you. If back and joint pain keep you from concentrating or noticing the subtler phenomena in your body, then that posture is not of much use. It may be an exercise at times to ignore disturbing sensations, but in no way should pain be the rule when sitting, or you're hurting yourself in the long run. Sit in a posture in which you are able to concentrate.

It is as much Meditation-like to sit on a chair, even if it doesn't look and feel as mystic. Maybe just because of this it is better for Westerners to begin with, so one sits, and not zazens :)

Best wishes
Dana
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ryan95227
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by ryan95227 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:26 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:Hmm. Dependent on your body architecture, ligature length, etc. sitting upright and free may just not be made for you. If back and joint pain keep you from concentrating or noticing the subtler phenomena in your body, then that posture is not of much use. It may be an exercise at times to ignore disturbing sensations, but in no way should pain be the rule when sitting, or you're hurting yourself in the long run. Sit in a posture in which you are able to concentrate.

It is as much Meditation-like to sit on a chair, even if it doesn't look and feel as mystic. Maybe just because of this it is better for Westerners to begin with, so one sits, and not zazens :)

Best wishes
Dana
I can only rest comfortably for about 40 min in my most comfortable position. I think if i practice flexibility i think i can do a half lotus and can sit for 2 hours

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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:23 am

Sitting on a zafu - firm meditation cushion - is a big help. It raises the body a little, which takes a lot of pressure off the legs, and also makes it much easier to keep the back straight.

Image

The point about a zafu is that it is firm - usually filled with buckwheat husks so that it doesn't squash flat when you sit on it.

The other meditation position which is very stable is the 'sage position', which is like the half-lotus, but with the foot on the calf instead of the thigh.

During the long retreats, individual sessions generally last up to one hour, with breaks between them. You're not required to sit for more than one hour continuously, in my experience, and doing so is quite a difficult thing to do.

Don't worry about achieving anything or reaching any kind of special state. The point of sitting is to sit, if you can do that, it is all you need to do.

:namaste:
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Kaccāni
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by Kaccāni » Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:02 pm

ryan95227 wrote: I can only rest comfortably for about 40 min in my most comfortable position. I think if i practice flexibility i think i can do a half lotus and can sit for 2 hours
Then sit for 30 minutes, take a 30 minute walk, and again sit for 30 minutes. There is no gain in a world record for sitting duration.

Or meditate while cleaning your rooms.

Best wishes
Dana
Shush! I'm doing nose-picking practice!

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PadmeSamadhi
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by PadmeSamadhi » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:27 pm

Hi, ryan95227.

I never did that body scanning and I have some problem sitting still, I'm really not great at that, but I'm trying like yourself to become better at it. How strong is your back, how good are you doing pushups? Also you could seat like Guru Rinpoche, sometimes I put my hands on my waist for a bit and it is a great relief for my back, maybe in the future you could go back to the posture you are trying when you get used to an easy posture.
Sometimes it's better to go gradually.

Image

One small truth is that some people never got in Jhana states while in correct posture, but they did while doing daily activities like walking or lying on the bed or even sitting horribly wrong, yes that happens for real.

Getting good in entering in a Samadhi state in daily activities is very a good thing and sometimes it can be easier, after you get in the Samadhi you can change posture if you cant hold the posture anymore and it will not diminish I promise you. In the future when you have some experience and you can even talk and work while in the state, that is not only gor great yogis on the mountains we can do that too.

When the Samadhis and Jhanas start to happen do not get fascinated and keep going, Samadhis can purify your mind.

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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by gloriasteinem » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:37 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Don't worry about achieving anything or reaching any kind of special state. The point of sitting is to sit, if you can do that, it is all you need to do.

:namaste:
Oh? I haven't heard that the 'point of meditation' is sitting. But I have no doubt most of this website users don't have any sensations. They try to achieve mental emptiness. With that much of a goal that much of an achievement. It will be rather strange to find someone here with prajna sensations and ability to meditate. So I guess one nead to find a master about that and if he likes to make small chat here... :focus:
Image

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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by gloriasteinem » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:02 pm

PadmeSamadhi wrote: Getting good in entering in a Samadhi state in daily activities is very a good thing and sometimes it can be easier, after you get in the Samadhi you can change posture if you cant hold the posture anymore and it will not diminish I promise you. In the future when you have some experience and you can even talk and work while in the state, ...
I wouldn't personally recommend that. If you think ppl will get extatic for you entering Samadhi while talking and working, they don't. They'd rather treat you like an alien or in best case as strangely alienated, and even dangerous as the person-alien in Under the skin. This is why meditation is called meditation and is best done in monasteries or home alone because ppl will not necessarily like or understand your mind states that are otherwise required for still meditation. Also your co-workers will be most likely atheist or uninformed believers who also have tons of speculation, prejudice and superstition. Not everyone might like Buddhist devotion at workplace but entering samadhi :/ I had colleagues who liked to bother, feel unwell and tension, even fear, I think entering samadhi there I also lost any desire to see them again and sort of left the job. I have a hiegher doubt that entering samadhi even with the best colleagues at work place will bring you nice results. Even talking about meditation with colleagues is not very much tolerated in my experience. Except if you're working in a Buddhist center. Or something.
Image

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Kaccāni
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by Kaccāni » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:43 pm

gloriasteinem wrote:
Wayfarer wrote:
Don't worry about achieving anything or reaching any kind of special state. The point of sitting is to sit, if you can do that, it is all you need to do.

:namaste:
Oh? I haven't heard that the 'point of meditation' is sitting.
The point of sitting is to sit.
Meditation needs no sitting, but sitting does.

Best wishes
Kc
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by kirtu » Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:52 pm

Sit in a chair most of the time. Work up to 30-45 minutes (assuming you are planning for a Vipasanna related retreat in the summer).

Stretch gently and then sit for 5 minutes max in Burmese posture (as recommended) but on a good, probably high cushion. Slowly (weekly) add one minute.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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PadmeSamadhi
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by PadmeSamadhi » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:13 am

gloriasteinem wrote:
PadmeSamadhi wrote: Getting good in entering in a Samadhi state in daily activities is very a good thing and sometimes it can be easier, after you get in the Samadhi you can change posture if you cant hold the posture anymore and it will not diminish I promise you. In the future when you have some experience and you can even talk and work while in the state, ...
I wouldn't personally recommend that. If you think ppl will get extatic for you entering Samadhi while talking and working, they don't. They'd rather treat you like an alien or in best case as strangely alienated, and even dangerous as the person-alien in Under the skin. This is why meditation is called meditation and is best done in monasteries or home alone because ppl will not necessarily like or understand your mind states that are otherwise required for still meditation. Also your co-workers will be most likely atheist or uninformed believers who also have tons of speculation, prejudice and superstition. Not everyone might like Buddhist devotion at workplace but entering samadhi :/ I had colleagues who liked to bother, feel unwell and tension, even fear, I think entering samadhi there I also lost any desire to see them again and sort of left the job. I have a hiegher doubt that entering samadhi even with the best colleagues at work place will bring you nice results. Even talking about meditation with colleagues is not very much tolerated in my experience. Except if you're working in a Buddhist center. Or something.
We could talk about that, maybe my personal experience is not quite the classical, I wasnt good at sitting at all.

I'm not familiar with the term "prajna sensation", what is it exactly?

I created a practice for me which is cutting through fascination, I won't describe it since it is not an official teaching of Buddhism, but cutting through fascination can save you from many meditative downfalls, example: attachment to non-thought, attachment to bliss, etc.

Many people when they are in a meditative state they act almost like zombies, right? Not me, when you are already in meditative state you could start a conversation with someone then do it again and again, one day no one will have a clue you will be in such state, people will just think you are wise, very deep and thoughtful.

Also during meditation some manifestations may occur, you could listen far away, or see lights, etc and then that can distract the person and wreck your meditation, cutting throught fascination will help avoid many other downfalls if funny stuff start to happen.

When you get used to a meditative state after comming back to it dozens or hundreds of times it will be much easier to come back to it just by remembering it and settling the mind as you did in the last times... and then let it be.

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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by jerraj » Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:06 pm

ryan95227 wrote:i have been meditating for about 4 months approximately. I've read a beginner's guide to meditation "with each and every breath" and the noble eightfold path from accesstoinsight.org. These two things i have read talk about the importance of body scanning and sitting comfortably to maximize the energy needed for jhana to be reached. I have extreme problems with this approach. I've incoporated body scanning for 3 weeks so far and i have not detected any signs of movements,sensations,tensions, or etc. There's nothing I can detect. Is body scanning actually true or something? Now my second problem is sitting comfortably. I can't sit in half/full lotus position. I need to rely on a wall and a soft bed to get by. I lay my legs on top of each and this puts pressure on my legs as my meditaiton time exceeds 30 mins. How can i sit in half/full lotus?

These problems are bothering me as I'm planning to head over to 10 day retreat over summer. There's no way i can sit down on a soft ground without any wall to rely on for 2 hours. Its impossible. My back will break. Is there any way for me to sit in half/full lotus or any way for me to dectect body sensations?
Hi ryan95227,

Perhaps you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself when it comes to meditation. Although you may read here and there that some elements or practice are important to reach jhana states, I wouldn't make it a goal as a beginner. The perspective of attending a 10 days retreat seems to put you into some starting blocks and it gives the impression that you must be ready by the summer for this retreat like an athlete for his next competition :)
Of course, in this regard, the uncomfortable sitting, the problems you have with the lotus/half lotus positions can only appears as an hindrance.

Perhaps you come to your meditation session with too much expectations. Be gentle with yourself. Thanissaro Bikkhu mentions in the book you are using that sitting on benches or chairs is fine, if one can't sit crossed-legs.
If you want to gently make your body more fexible so that you can sit crossed-legs, perhaps you should do some yoga stretches.
Here are some resources for preparing your body to lotus pose- remember to take it easy. :)
http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/ ... l-clarity/
http://www.yogajournal.com/article/begi ... eparation/
You already received some good advice regarding the use of a cushion.

I would also just drop the body scanning at first and just follow the breath and be aware of what happens, this, in itself is a huge exercise.

And make your meditation moment a happy practice: May you and all the sentient beings be happy :)

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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by PadmeSamadhi » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:16 pm

What jerraj said is perfect!
:thumbsup:

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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by Jesse » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:55 am

Beh! you can meditate on a regular chair, a sofa, lying down on a bed(just dont snooze off.) Don't worry about posture, in-so-far as meditation is concerned it's just a tradition, it has no real practical use.
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

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PadmeSamadhi
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Re: Somewhat of a beginner to meditation

Post by PadmeSamadhi » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:08 pm

Jesse wrote:Beh! you can meditate on a regular chair, a sofa, lying down on a bed(just dont snooze off.) Don't worry about posture, in-so-far as meditation is concerned it's just a tradition, it has no real practical use.
Well, recently my Lama read a book to us about the posture and he read in details the benefit we can have about the correct posture, it's all related to energy, what he read to us it is like an alchemical transformation.

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