THE FORUMS

September 30th, 2014
Vipassana Meditation and pickup
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#31

videodrome

Junior Member

Join Date: 11/29/2010 | Posts: 12

 Hi,

I've done the Vipassana course and I believe it was really beneficial. It is also one of the most challenging - the two go together.

I was ready for something difficult so I knew I had to get through the difficult stages. I would say that every day, 1 to 10, I wanted to go home. I knew that was out of the question so I just got on with it. There were some good experiences on the course, none better than the final day, but on the whole it was a massive struggle.

It is hard meditating at home because of all of the goings on throughout the day but I make sure I do it.

By the end of the course I really didn't know what difference it had made but after a week or so back home, whereI have been meditating 2 hours a day, some things have become clear. I've written a list of 9 important changes but now I've deleted it because others might wonder why they are not experiencing the same things as me. The technique has different effects on us all and when the changes occur it is hard to recognise them. It is only upon reflection that I now understand them.

I cannot confirm to what extent Vipassana is responsible but I do feel changes in my behaviour and attitude since I returned. I never question whether or not I will meditate - I just do it because I want to give it a chance. Reading this list makes me realise how important it must be and I'm going to keep on doing it.

I hope that you all learn the lessons well and observe sensations, remaining detached - it is the key. Pleasure/pain - they're the same thing really, they just come and go like everything else. 

Doing another course isn't on my mind right now but I will do one within the year. The conditions in which you practice are just right and I know it will improve my technique.

Metta to you all
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#32
Jake454

Jake454

Trusted Member

Join Date: 01/05/2011 | Posts: 1129

I plan on going to a retreat in march but until then I would like to practice meditating, can someone give me the basics of what i should focus on or be doing while meditating?
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#33
markzor

markzor

Respected Member

Join Date: 11/25/2009 | Posts: 810

I like the books "focused and fearless" and "mindfulness, bliss and beyond" as good books.

I practice buddhist meditation - I like the literature that describes the "jhanas"  (which is more focused upon "samadhi" = concentration, as opposed to "vipassana" = insight. But you need concentration to get insight - there just two sides of the same coin) . 

You can read the first FIVE chapters of "mindfullness, bliss and beyond" on google books; these chapters explain the basic meditation really excellent (in my opinion).

I would summerize the meditation instructions very briefly like this:

Meditation is the art of doing as less as possible.
It's not about having no thoughts, because you can't help it that you have thoughts. What you DO can is choose the way you react to them. In order to do as less as possible, you must not react to these thought by having more thoughts (or emotions). You need to simply acknowlegde the thought in a non-judgemental, neutral way, and continue meditating. This neutral response is important, since that way, you do the least. Becoming enthousiastic about catching a thought, or frustrated about thinking so much, only makes you do even more than just thinking!

Basic meditation exercise:
Focus your attention on your breath (the air flowing through your nostrils). If that your mind has wandered, then notice the distraction, and focus on the breath again.
Do this for 15 minutes. Use a timer to time this; this prevents you from thinking about how much time there is left.

Meditation practice consists of developing four skills:
1) Focusing attention
2) Sustaining attention
3) Noticing distractions
4) Letting go of distractoins.

You develop concentration with the first to skills, and you develop mindfulness and/or awareness with the last two skills. The concentration helps you to really "see" what is going on, because you don't get as easily dragged along with all your thoughs and emotions anymore. The mindfulness helps you to notice *what* is going on. In your daily life, you will notice sooner that you react emotionally to something; that you get thrown off-balance by a rejection, etc. Because you notice your emotions quicker, you can respond to them before they grow out of control (since emotions and thought tend to grow bigger, because you sustain them by being unaware of them - if you aware of them and then stop reacting to it by just observing, you regain control).

Exercise in "focusing attention":
A helpfull exercise is to switch your attention between your body (different location), or between different sounds, or between body/sound/sight. A popular meditation exercise is the body-scan, where you first tense and then relax different parts of your body, usually going from toe to head. So you tense your toes, relaxe your toes, you tense your feet, relax your feed, your lower legs, your knee, hips and buttocks, belly, lower-back, chest, upper-back, neck, upper arms, lower arms, hands, fingers, face.... and then you tense and relax EVERY muscle. 

A trick to help you "sustain attention"
Sustaining attention if often difficult at first, or even for experienced meditators in the first ten minutes. Often, you are so distracted all the time, you only get to direct your attention. By the time you are actually watching your breath, your mind has wandered again. Or even worse; you fail to notice your distractions, so you end up daydreaming the entire meditation sessions! That's not an effective way to cultivate the four skills!

That why it helps if you count your breath from 1 until 10.  If you lost count due to a distraction, start from 1 again. I recommend doing this for the first 10 minutes. 

Become aware of your "effort".
It seems that counting violates the principle of "doing as less as you can". But in doing just a little counting, you prevent a whole lot of distractions! Notice that "doing as less as you can" is not the same as "doing nothing"; because if you do nothing; you will daydream, think, scratch your itch, etc. It requires EFFORT to do as little as possible. You need to balance this effort; too much effort and you end up "doing things" again. Too little effort, and you ALSO end up doing things again (thinking, daydreaming, etc).

If you SCREAM with your inner voice to "FOCUS ON THE BREATH".. then you will not be distracted, at all. But you are so busy screaming in your head, that you are not doing as little as possible. On the other hand, if you just sit down and say to yourself: "Oh well, let's focus on the breath"... then you will end up being distracted the entire time.

Notice distractions
As soon as you notice a distraction, react non-judgemental and neutral. Say to yourself: "A distraction." and focus your attention on your breath again. It helps to say it in yourself instead of just noticing it, because if you say it to yourself, you are more consciouly practicing the skill of noticing distractions. Although if you mind is more focused and calm,  you don't need to do this.

Letting go of distractions
It sometimes helps to give a humerous nickname to recurring thoughts, in order to depersonalize yourself from them.  For example, if you keep worrying about whether a girl will call you back, come up with a humerous label for that story/thought, like: "my little call fantasy".

Meditation is not sleeping
Meditation is NOT a relaxation exercise - but you DO relax from meditation. The difference between meditation and relaxation exercise is that with meditation, you stay aware of what's happening, but with relaxation, you are allowed to lose awareness (and fall asleep). With mediation, you are practicing these four skills, with relaxation, you just try to relax.

Sometimes is difficult to discern whether you are sleeping or meditating. If you are REALLY focused and concentrated, you won't notice your surroundings anymore... but.. you are still aware of them! A good test is if you are shocked by the alarm of the timer. If this is the case, you weren't paying attention and simply asleep. If you simply notice your timer, then  you were meditating.

After dinner, just before bed, or when just waking up may be bad times to meditate, because then you are sleepy and you can concentrate less. (However, I recommend meditating before you sleep if you are not TOO tired, as you sleep better and more restfull when you have meditated!)

Well begun is half done
Before you start meditating, take a deep conscious breath and become aware of your body.
Remind yourself of WHY you are meditating, and promise yourself that the next 15 minutes, nothing is more important than meditating. You can worry later about the things that are troubling you, now is the time for meditation and nothing else.

Don't understimate how important it is to really firmly make the commitment to meditate before you begin. It really helps you stay more focused and more let more easily go of distractions.

The stages of a meditation session
Read the google book from "mindfulness bliss and beyond"; it provides an excellent explanation of the "stages" you go through;... from a distracted mind full of thoughts about the past, future and present,... to a mind full of thoughs about the present, to a mind that's only observing the present, to a mind that's only observing the breath, to a mind that sustains attention on the breath, ...etc...

Attitude
This is extremely important! The wrong attitude can cause you to practice meditation wrong. You are just wasting your time then, and you don't get all the benefits meditation brings.
(1) Be non-judgemental
(2) Be patient
(3) Be willing to start over again (you will be distracted many times!)
(4) Be kind to your self
(5) Trust yourself.
(6) Accept yourself as you are, with all your imperfections.

It's very important that you are patient and are willing to start over again. You need to trust yourself, and the mediation practice, that it will work. The more you want to "get results" the more you stand in your own way. View mediation as gardenening: You sow the seeds and then you just trust them to grow. It's very important to be non-judgemental of your mind, as judging it wil only leads to more thinking. This ties in with accepting yourself as imperfect. Realize that every mediation practice is a good practice, even though it's full of distractions!

Some further tips
- Meditate daily (at the same time, preferably)
- Sit however you want; but keep your back straight. You may lay down, but then you are more prone to falling asleep.
- If you sit with your legs crossed, you may want to put a pillow under your buttocks to get your back straight.
- It's better to meditate more often than longer
- You can gradually extend your meditation time to 20-30-45 minutes
- Imagine yourself as a mountain, or make mediation "bright, spacious and light". Imagining these qualities help you find the right amount of effort and the right way of concentrating. 

Mediation should bring you:
- More and quicker awareness of your thoughts and emotions
- Feelings of calm and rest / inner peace
- Less anxiety and stress
- Better concentration
- Better ability to "let go" of things that were troubling you -- a sense of relief.
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#34
markzor

markzor

Respected Member

Join Date: 11/25/2009 | Posts: 810

 @GoldFingers:

No, I have not attained any Jhanas.
I practice for more than 13 months daily, although I have only short sessions of between 15-45 minutes. Always once a days, sometimes twice a day.
I notice that my daily stress affect my ability to reach deep levels of concentration in meditation, and vice versa; deep levels in concentration with mediation seem so alleviate the stress in daily life.

I also notice that I sometimes practice half-heartely; in those times I am more lost in something my mind tells me is more important. Other times, I am really interested in motivated in meditation. In these times, it really goes well, and I often get to into the "ready for absorption" state; where I lose track of time, have no troubling thoughts, feel light and relaxed. Also feelings of seclusion, i.e. the awareness of my body and surroundings diminish, and the awareness of my breath on itself is increased. (Not so much on the sensation, but the breatch as an occurence).

I got sometimes close to the nimatta (counterpart-sign); but never really there. I hope the vipassana course will help me in attaining jhana's.

The funny thing is; that even if I have what I consider a "bad" meditation session where I am completely distracted all the time and I wasn't able to reach a decent amount of concentration, or could overcome some restlessness.... I still find some benefits from it. Like, I am just a little more relaxed than I was before. Or I suddenly notice a emotion in me I would have missed if I hadn't meditated.

I would love to talk about other meditators; especially in their experiences, troubles, etc in attaining the jhana's. Do you have any experience with them, Goldfingers?

ps. sorry about all the spelling mistakes. typed in in a hurry :p
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#35
Jake454

Jake454

Trusted Member

Join Date: 01/05/2011 | Posts: 1129

Thank you for your response markzor ahha helped verry much.
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#36
Tyler

Tyler

Instructor | Trusted Member

Join Date: 08/20/2006 | Posts: 8131

Yeah it's funny many people keep recommending me to do this.  Hopefully get around to it at some point, although not sure what I'd do with the kids.

Tyler
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#37
VanCitySean

VanCitySean

Junior Member

Join Date: 01/13/2011 | Posts: 3

Awesome, i have done this course twice now, its part of my life. It can help alot in becoming centered
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#38
VanCitySean

VanCitySean

Junior Member

Join Date: 01/13/2011 | Posts: 3

  i think Last recommendation was by me at Vagas party where i ran in to you guys... awesome night
Tyler wrote:
Yeah it's funny many people keep recommending me to do this.  Hopefully get around to it at some point, although not sure what I'd do with the kids.

Tyler
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#39
Goldfingers

Goldfingers

Member

Join Date: 05/16/2010 | Posts: 80

Thanks Markzor for posting the link to google books. I read up to and including the description of Jhanna. I like it and am going to start right now.
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#40
markzor

markzor

Respected Member

Join Date: 11/25/2009 | Posts: 810

Goldfingers wrote:
Thanks Markzor for posting the link to google books. I read up to and including the description of Jhanna. I like it and am going to start right now.
let me know how it works out for you; if you have any questions feel free to ask them (you can PM me if you like) and I will try my best to answer them (although I haven't followed any official course or the vipassana course; i just read a lot about it, practice it now for more than a year daily, and i practiced a couple times before for periods varying between a couple of months to a year)
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