Meditation remedy sought

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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Rick
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Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:48 pm

Hi everyone. :-)

I'm doing a meditation in which the goal is to observe my mind: find its location, size, color, watch how mental objects arise and decay, etc.

Sometimes I experience this like a short-circuit: My head gets stuck in a loop and observation pretty much shuts down!

Anyone got a remedy for this?

Thanks!

Rick
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Vasana
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Vasana » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:17 pm

What do you mean by 'short circuit'? Capacity for lucidity or alertness abruptly or gradually disappearing or conceptual mind abruptly finding no footing to stand on?

Following from agitation/over-stimulation or from over-exertion? From dullness/sleepiness?From finding something? From not finding something?
From focusing too much on mind's clarity and cognizant aspect or from spacing out? From something else?

Many mahamudra texts have sections on identifying and eliminating faults. Some of which are locatable on google book search and elsewhere. Usually you would run this kind of thing by your teacher if the resources you have access to and your own experience don't clarify things right away.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:49 pm

Vasana, thanks for the reply.

I'll spend some more time doing the mind-observing meditation and let you know a bit more exactly what problems I experience.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:39 am

rachmiel wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:49 pm
Vasana, thanks for the reply.

I'll spend some more time doing the mind-observing meditation and let you know a bit more exactly what problems I experience.
If it's that your presence is disappearing due to being focused on a thought, the most common advice I've gotten to is clearly observe the thought itself until it dissolves. If you are elaborating on the thought repeatedly sometimes that is observable too, and you can let it fizzle out.
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jkarlins
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by jkarlins » Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:51 am

Body sensations, like breath.

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Lukeinaz
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Lukeinaz » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:09 am

rachmiel wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:48 pm
Hi everyone. :-)

I'm doing a meditation in which the goal is to observe my mind: find its location, size, color, watch how mental objects arise and decay, etc.

Sometimes I experience this like a short-circuit: My head gets stuck in a loop and observation pretty much shuts down!

Anyone got a remedy for this?

Thanks!
Rick
I experienced something similar that was like holding two mirrors together. An endless loop of observers observing. Quite tiresome.
Staying here without discomfort,
I am at ease and free from worries,
In a state of joyful mind.
Are you well yourself, my dear mother?
-Nyoshul Rinpoche

daibunny
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by daibunny » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:11 am

Continue meditating while observing and investigating the shutting down would seem to be the correct thing imo.

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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by passel » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:41 am

^to a point. If it starts freakin you out, persist just a bit to develop patience paramita, then finish up the session by doing low impact practices that you enjoy, then go for a walk, goof off a bit. Come back to your next session refreshed and don’t force yourself immediately into the tough stuff. It has its own timing, learn from it best you can. Just one experience after another, each one a log on the fire
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:09 am

Hmm ... I wonder if it's something like this:

If awareness is watching the thoughts that arise in mind, there's plenty of "room" for the watching to take place, because aware-ing is different than thinking, they don't get in each other's way.

If otoh thought is doing the watching, thought watching itself so to speak, the short circuit occurs because the two streams of thought (watcher and watched) get in each other's way.

If this is true(ish) ... then the ability to clearly and calmly watch thoughts arise and decay in mind is a kind of litmus test for whether awareness is doing the watching or thought masquerading as awareness.

Not 100% sure I'm making sense, but since when has that stopped me?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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jkarlins
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by jkarlins » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:29 am

Too discursive, it's a sidetrack. Thus the idea about the body.

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Wayfarer
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:34 am

A student once asked Joshu: "If I haven't anything in my mind, what shall I do?"

Joshu replied: "Throw it out."

"But if I haven't anything, how can I throw it out?" continued the questioner.

"Well then," said Joshu, "carry it out."
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Vasana
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Vasana » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:36 am

rachmiel wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:09 am
Hmm ... I wonder if it's something like this:

If awareness is watching the thoughts that arise in mind, there's plenty of "room" for the watching to take place, because aware-ing is different than thinking, they don't get in each other's way.

If otoh thought is doing the watching, thought watching itself so to speak, the short circuit occurs because the two streams of thought (watcher and watched) get in each other's way.

If this is true(ish) ... then the ability to clearly and calmly watch thoughts arise and decay in mind is a kind of litmus test for whether awareness is doing the watching or thought masquerading as awareness.

Not 100% sure I'm making sense, but since when has that stopped me?
Just my 2 pennies but from how i interpreted what you said, I would say you may be on to something here. Balancing/sealing clarity with emptiness and subject with object is the name of the game. Relatively easier to have experiences related to either individually, but more difficult to experience them symyltaenously as the union of shine and lhagtong/ shamatha &.vipassana which is what a yogic valid cognition is. Learn the corresponding terms used in these systems and it should be easier to contextualuze and communicate it all.

Also, don't neglect calm abiding/shamatha. Analysis without calm is like a bright candle in a room with a strong draft. The calm abiding serves as a candle holder and lid making the flame less erratic.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Dan74 » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:40 am

rachmiel wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:09 am
Hmm ... I wonder if it's something like this:

If awareness is watching the thoughts that arise in mind, there's plenty of "room" for the watching to take place, because aware-ing is different than thinking, they don't get in each other's way.

If otoh thought is doing the watching, thought watching itself so to speak, the short circuit occurs because the two streams of thought (watcher and watched) get in each other's way.

If this is true(ish) ... then the ability to clearly and calmly watch thoughts arise and decay in mind is a kind of litmus test for whether awareness is doing the watching or thought masquerading as awareness.

Not 100% sure I'm making sense, but since when has that stopped me?
It does make sense, but this aware-ing is also likely thought, just less judgmental, more standing back and observing type of thought.

Many of us on this path put too much energy into various kinds of thought and create a spiritual practice that is a complex edifice of thought. This is no use at all. Thought that is not ground just leads to more proliferation of thought. That's why jcarlins' suggestion of breath, perhaps breath as an anchor to stay grounded, may not be bad. Grounding the practice with off-cushion activities as well, is important, IMO.

_/|\_

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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Grigoris » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:11 am

Personally I use a number of "solutions" at this point:

1. Just relax the mind and let everything go. Rest in this.
2. Focus on something more "concrete" like jkarlin said: the feeling of the body, or the movement of the breath.
3. Stop meditating, make a heartfelt dedication of merit and go watch some goofy video, do some exercise, eat some food, make a cup of tea, talk to my wife, pet the cat, anything...

One time a teacher of mine made us do an exercise where we (it was a group session) had to count how many thoughts we had during a 2 minute meditation period. At the end of the two minutes we had to report to the group. I was doing really well with the counting when I started to think to myself: Should I also be counting the thought which is doing the counting? What about the thought that is making me think about counting? Is each moment of counting also a thought? Etc...

After we all shared our experiences the teacher just started laughing. Just about all of his had realised the futility of discursive analysis in meditation, but in Mahamudra many of the exercises aim to do just that. Hence 1.
"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."
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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:04 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:09 am
Hmm ... I wonder if it's something like this:

If awareness is watching the thoughts that arise in mind, there's plenty of "room" for the watching to take place, because aware-ing is different than thinking, they don't get in each other's way.

If otoh thought is doing the watching, thought watching itself so to speak, the short circuit occurs because the two streams of thought (watcher and watched) get in each other's way.

If this is true(ish) ... then the ability to clearly and calmly watch thoughts arise and decay in mind is a kind of litmus test for whether awareness is doing the watching or thought masquerading as awareness.

Not 100% sure I'm making sense, but since when has that stopped me?
I think I understand what you're getting at.

There is a difference between being aware of thoughts when they arise and watching for thoughts. The later is itself a thought, an outlook of watching and waiting for distraction. Like other phenomena, when you notice you're watching, the thought is no longer self-captive and instead self-liberates. There isn't a mind or watcher which releases, i.e. something left over that was bound before. So if you can avoid a feeling of "returning to watching" after noticing thoughts, that would help I think.

These things can be very hard to communicate online. Good luck!

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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by PuerAzaelis » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:36 pm

It's almost impossible to get the sense of this kind of thing over the internet, either the issue or the proposed solutions ...
And nobody in all of Oz. No Wizard that there is or was.

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Rick
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Rick » Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:22 pm

Fruit of attempting to watch my mind in action.

There is no "mind" per se.

There are mental objects/phenomena I notice = thoughts, snippets of internal dialogue, seen or felt images, emotions, perceptions, etc. By habit and misunderstanding I impute "mind" to these objects like I impute "flower" to the objects: petals, stem, leaves, roots, pistil, sepal, etc.

But there is no actual mind or flower that owns or presides over these sets of parts. Mind and flower are just names attributed to a set of perceived objects.

If mind is just a name with no actual existence, could the same be said of a thought, emotion, leaf, petal? (All the way down?)

(See what happens when you meditate on pain meds!)
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:38 pm

What perceives the objects? It can't be found but appearances (both objects and phenomena taken to be "mind") are perceived nonetheless.

Mind may be given a name or idea but it isn't just a name. Same for other objects. With respect to mind, that is why we can realize our fundamentally unbound state, even after lifetimes of misapprehending it. With respect to objects, that is why a glimpse of their emptiness doesn't necessarily destroy their appearance or our grasping at them, and why prolonged practice is necessary.

Someone please correct me if this is nonsense :bow:

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Wayfarer
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:54 pm

There's a very fundamental principle in this issue, which is that the mind can't be an object of itself. The mind, that which knows, is never an object. You can say things like 'this went through my mind', or 'my mind is troubled', or 'my mind is very busy this morning', but there is no 'mind' to be found apart from those contents, thoughts, ideas and sensations. But at the same time, it is foolish to say that there is no mind as one is surely conscious, the mind is aware of these 'objects'. But you can't grasp what it is - that is the fundamental principle. This is so for the reason that the eye can't see itself, the hand can't grasp itself - this is an idea from the Upanishads but I think it is a principle common to both Hindu and Buddhist teaching.

So you have to give up on the prospect of 'knowing the mind' - that is where un-knowing, not-knowing, the way of negation, actually comes into play. The mind is the unknown knower, and it is useless to try and know what it is. That 'uselessness' is the giving up of thought. There isn't anything further to achieve beyond that.

This is also stressed by some Zen teachers as the 'don't know mind' (there is a book on Seung Sahn's teachings called 'Only Don't Know'.) Actually I think the so-called 'higher states' are simply deeper and deeper states of not knowing. That is why samadhi is described as 'neither perception nor non-perception'. I have never experienced such 'higher states' but I don't think you can catch yourself experiencing them - to do so would be to fall back into the same trap. That's why it's essential to abandon any idea of attaining some state - the very expectation or desire to experience something, will always undercut the possibility. So nothing particularly special ever happens in meditation, in my experience, but sometimes the mind does quieten right down for a few brief moments. That's about it. I guess, for those accomplished meditators, it quietens right down more intensively and for longer periods of time.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Meditation remedy sought

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:05 pm

:good:

(loved the anecdote you shared earlier too, WF!)

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