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How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising? - Dhamma Wheel

How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
starter
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How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby starter » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:44 pm

Hello teachers/friends,

The biggest challenge in my mindfulness/alertness training is about thoughts, which I can hardly control. I often notice/observe thoughts when they've already started for a little while, so I missed "Thoughts are known to him as they arise". Do you have some practical tip to overcome this? Metta,

Starter

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Goofaholix
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:38 pm


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tiltbillings
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:39 pm


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bodom
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby bodom » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:51 pm

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

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tiltbillings
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:20 pm


jackson
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby jackson » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:53 pm

Hello Starter, :smile:
I've struggled with noticing thoughts arise for a while, but I've been reading the Ayya Khema book "Visible Here & Now", and in it she mentions what I believe are called (if I remember correctly) the four right efforts. These are:
1. Not allowing an unwholesome thought to arise
2. Replacing an arisen unwholesome thought with a wholesome one
3. Allowing an unarisen wholesome thought to arise
4. Expanding upon an already arisen wholesome thought

I hope I got that right, if I didn't then someone please correct me... Anyway, she elaborates on this point by saying that feeling comes before thought, so if we focus on feeling we can feel whether or not a thought will be wholesome or unwholesome before it arises and thus decide beforehand whether to think it or not. I've been practicing this and it's allowed me to get in front of thinking, so to say. Anyway, I hope that helps.
With metta,
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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octathlon
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby octathlon » Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:02 pm

Thanks for that excellent quote, Bodom.

I frequently miss even catching the lion's tail and barely glimpse the lion's rear end as it goes out of sight. :|

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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby octathlon » Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:04 pm


starter
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby starter » Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:25 pm

Hi, Thanks a lot for your kind prompt help.

"Pay attention" -- to thoughts instead of our original meditation object (e.g. breath during sitting, steps during walking and postures/activities during daily life)?

"Focus on feeling we can feel whether or not a thought will be wholesome or unwholesome before it arises and thus decide beforehand whether to think it or not". -- My thoughts are usually neither wholesome nor unwholesome (or wholesome but not beneficial for the stillness of the mind), which don't really generate a pleasant/painful feeling.

Probably I'd better put more effort in restraining my reading / writing / thinking as well as detaching the mind from the sense objects in order to quiet my mind down. Metta,

Starter

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octathlon
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby octathlon » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:25 pm

Even without worrying whether the thought is wholesome or not, I'm thinking that advice is good for detecting a thought before or as it arises. I have noticed thought and feeling arising together in what I felt was simultaneous, but maybe the feeling was coming first. I will try to detect that.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:52 pm

Mindfulness of thoughts cannot be separated from the other three foundations of mindfulness. If you have trouble with wandering thoughts, pay more attention to mindfulness of daily activities.

Start from the gross — mindfulness of the body — and work towards mindfulness of the subtle — thoughts and mental states.

Sit still for as long as you can, walk slowly, and be mindful of all daily activities in detail.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:44 am


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Ben
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:55 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Guy
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby Guy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:19 am

Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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Guy
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby Guy » Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:24 am

Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

starter
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby starter » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:22 pm


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Phra Chuntawongso
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:44 am

Hi Starter.
As Bhikkhu Pesala said, spend more time outside of your formal meditation practice being mindful.
The four major postures we can be mindful of during the day are:Standing,Walking,Sitting and Laying down.
When we practice mindfulness in this way you will start to see more results in your formal sitting.
Remember that we are actually trying to set up the practice of being mindful at all times,so go for it.
Good luck in your practice.
With metta,
Phra Greg
And crawling on the planets face,some insects called the human race.
Lost in time
Lost in space
And meaning

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effort
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby effort » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:44 am

thoughts are like waves that hit the shore one ofter the other, with patience observe them...

jeff oliver.

rowyourboat
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:34 pm

Hi Starter,

Thoughts are the products of hindrances. You need to overcome the hindrances, hence giving rise to less thoughts. As long as you have a flurry of thoughts it will be difficult for you to do samatha or vipassana. Letting go (nekkhamma) and getting less involved with things around you is a helpful way to withdraw your mind from those things which keep coming up in your mind.

Understand clearly that citta-visuddhi is what you have to do now. That is to overcome the five hindrances (aka 'thoughts') and settle the mind. You will not be free from thoughts completely (so my characterization of thoughts as hindrances isn't entirely correct, but close enough), so what we are aiming for is an ability to stay with what you focus on without being distracted by thoughts (and ending up thinking some unrelated thing). The best way to do this is to focus on one object (like the breath), and keep at it.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

starter
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Re: How to become more alert of the thoughts' arising?

Postby starter » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:40 pm

Hello Matheesha,

Indeed if I want to progress to jhana, I've to overcome the hindrance of thoughts first. You mentioned "Letting go (nekkhamma) and getting less involved with things around you is a helpful way to withdraw your mind from those things which keep coming up in your mind." Currently my involvement in the writing/reading/discussion in this forum and the listening to/pondering about the Dhamma talks (during eating, cleaning ... so it won't take away my formal meditation time) are what keep coming up in my mind. Although such activities may not be directly beneficial to concentration, they help with the understanding of dhamma and the actual practice. So I'm not sure if I should let go of these activities ...

With metta,

Starter


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