Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

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Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby twiz » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:40 pm

Hi there! I'm not really sure where to put this topic. Since I've recently been introduced and practicing in Mahayana, I figured I would give this space a try.

I'm shifting from a mindfulness meditation practice to a concentrated/single- point object meditation. And, I'm really struggling.

I had been sitting 40 minutes a day, counting my breath and watching thoughts. I added a daily Tonglen practice into the sit the last few months.

I have been receiving teachings and meeting with a Rinpoche. I was instructed to sit for shorter periods (5-15 min) more often, instead of the longer time period. I am to look at a picture of Buddha Shakyamuni, or whatever object I may choose for a few minutes, then close my eyes and see if I can visualize Buddha. If I cannot see the object, then repeat. When needed, return to the breath until calm. Then try again.

What I am not understanding is the visualization. Are you suppose to literally see the object when you close your eyes (color, shape, etc)? The term "Mind's eye" was used at one point . So that makes me wonder if you are not aiming to literally see the object, but get a sense that it is there? I'm not even sure if I fully understand what it means to visualize something in their "Mind's eye".

Can anyone clarify and/or give examples of visualizing an object with eyes closed.

I can't believe how simple it sounds to do, yet how confusing and impossible it seems to be.

Thank you very much!
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby KonchokZoepa » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:49 pm

to give you a metaphor what i think is meant by visualizing that you have a picture of your mother inside your head, you close your eyes and recall your mother and you can see what she looks like. you dont actually see her but you see a picture of her, cause you can remember what she looks like. the same with visualization, you dont actually see the deity ( if you visualize a deity ) until your minds obscurations are purified and can see visions of deity. before that you visualize and as you can see a picture of your mother when you close your eyes cause you remember what she looks like, the same way with buddha image.

this is what i think its suppose to mean.
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:19 pm

twiz wrote:Hi there! I'm not really sure where to put this topic. Since I've recently been introduced and practicing in Mahayana, I figured I would give this space a try.

I'm shifting from a mindfulness meditation practice to a concentrated/single- point object meditation. And, I'm really struggling.

I had been sitting 40 minutes a day, counting my breath and watching thoughts. I added a daily Tonglen practice into the sit the last few months.

I have been receiving teachings and meeting with a Rinpoche. I was instructed to sit for shorter periods (5-15 min) more often, instead of the longer time period. I am to look at a picture of Buddha Shakyamuni, or whatever object I may choose for a few minutes, then close my eyes and see if I can visualize Buddha. If I cannot see the object, then repeat. When needed, return to the breath until calm. Then try again.

What I am not understanding is the visualization. Are you suppose to literally see the object when you close your eyes (color, shape, etc)? The term "Mind's eye" was used at one point . So that makes me wonder if you are not aiming to literally see the object, but get a sense that it is there? I'm not even sure if I fully understand what it means to visualize something in their "Mind's eye".

Can anyone clarify and/or give examples of visualizing an object with eyes closed.

I can't believe how simple it sounds to do, yet how confusing and impossible it seems to be.

Thank you very much!


My understanding is you should not "attempt to see it" literally, but rather, vividly see it with what we would term "imagination", draw it from your memory and concentrate on it. Usual disclaimers apply, i could be wrong etc.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby montana » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:08 pm

You know how in a room you are familiar with you can close your eyes and still know the layout of the room?
The visualization should be like that. You aren't seeing it with your eyes at all.

Later when that visualization becomes really stable a corresponding subtle image will come to the surface which is far more detailed, luminous, and invigorating. If you are meditating with stable gaze at the time then you could see it with your eyes open. The subtle image is very much like a dream and you can't shape it directly, it arises out of subtle karmas/imprints you made previously, maybe while you were meditating on the visualization.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby futerko » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:27 pm

Although the term "visual" is part of the word visualize, you can engage more of the senses to inject life into your meditation. What is really important is to "feel" it.

You can also use incense or oils (sandalwood is particularly; nice, subtle, conducive to meditative states, and expensive), which you can come to associate with the presence of the image, and maybe also sounds, rays of warmth/love, etc.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:44 pm

twiz wrote:Hi there! I'm not really sure where to put this topic. Since I've recently been introduced and practicing in Mahayana, I figured I would give this space a try.

I'm shifting from a mindfulness meditation practice to a concentrated/single- point object meditation. And, I'm really struggling.

I had been sitting 40 minutes a day, counting my breath and watching thoughts. I added a daily Tonglen practice into the sit the last few months.

I have been receiving teachings and meeting with a Rinpoche. I was instructed to sit for shorter periods (5-15 min) more often, instead of the longer time period. I am to look at a picture of Buddha Shakyamuni, or whatever object I may choose for a few minutes, then close my eyes and see if I can visualize Buddha. If I cannot see the object, then repeat. When needed, return to the breath until calm. Then try again.

What I am not understanding is the visualization. Are you suppose to literally see the object when you close your eyes (color, shape, etc)? The term "Mind's eye" was used at one point . So that makes me wonder if you are not aiming to literally see the object, but get a sense that it is there? I'm not even sure if I fully understand what it means to visualize something in their "Mind's eye".

Can anyone clarify and/or give examples of visualizing an object with eyes closed.

I can't believe how simple it sounds to do, yet how confusing and impossible it seems to be.

Thank you very much!


There is phsical senses and mental senses(objects)

When you are looking at something with your eyes you recieve a literal physical sense of sight.

What you want to do is to take that literal image you see with the physical eyes and be able to "see" it in your mind hence the "image" you "see" is entirely based in an mental object.

To be able to do this you must have uninterupted concentration and uninterupted mindfullness,other wise the mental image fades. And you have to open your eyes and resetablish the image again.

Also not to undermine your Guru but you shouldnt be starting your practice with an image of the Buddha,that is a VERY COMPLEX visulation just remembering the image in detail,and being able ti create it in the mind then maintain every charachteristic in perfect concentration is VERY HARD.

The best thing for you to do is start out with a Sphere pick whatever color you like then try to maintain this colored circle in your mind without losing it.

Once you have mastered that then move on to more complex images if you want.

Peace and Love
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby montana » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:44 pm

You can actually visualize the smell of incense if you want and when the subtle karmas ripen you'll smell it.
Some of you might actually notice the strong smell of incense already when you come in contact with dharma books. I suppose that is a sign of your relationship with dharma, or the book has been saturated with incense smell.
I remember my first contact with a vajrayana bell and dorje, I heard the loud piercing noise of a bell ringing. But when I asked other people if they heard it, they said no. Haha now I sound schizophrenic.

Our senses are so fabricated it really makes you wonder if the physical world really exists at all and if it does, why bother going out for sensual pleasures when you've the ability to make pleasures without all the work and bartering with other humans.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby twiz » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:32 am

Wow! Thank you all so much for the wonderful, and QUICK responses!

Sadly, I do have a general problem with visualizing things, even my mother. But, I can grasp the concept of seeing it, yet not literally. I can work with that!

montana wrote:If you are meditating with stable gaze at the time then you could see it with your eyes open. The subtle image is very much like a dream and you can't shape it directly, it arises out of subtle karmas/imprints you made previously, maybe while you were meditating on the visualization.


I'm glad you mentioned the eyes open. That was actually a follow up question I am awaiting an answer on from the interpreter (Rinpoche is just starting to learn English :twothumbsup: ). I can get flashes of the picture/image in my mind with my eyes open. This will usually happen off the cushion, without necessarily trying to recall it. In my sitting practice I have tried that as well. Sometimes I can hold it a second or two, then it's gone. It's when I close my eyes...I see a frame and that's it. Eventually my mind gets tight, irritated and it's time to stop.

By stable gaze you mean not move my eyes around the picture, correct?

Son of Buddha wrote: Also not to undermine your Guru but you shouldnt be starting your practice with an image of the Buddha,that is a VERY COMPLEX visulation just remembering the image in detail,and being able ti create it in the mind then maintain every charachteristic in perfect concentration is VERY HARD.


He gave me very clear options (Buddha, Jesus, Guru, rock, etc). I made the choice for personal reasons. I can see how starting with something less complex *might* be easier. I've also been told many times, by a few lamas that you do not want to switch it up. Start with something and stick to it. It's a valid question to ask him and get his thoughts on, though. I will do that. Thank you!

No incense in this house...both the cat and I have asthma. Sitting in the monastery and other teachings often requires the use of my inhaler.

Again, thank you so much for all the answers. This was my first post and I felt everyone was very kind and informative. I will work on approaching the visualization in the ways suggested, and see what comes of it.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby montana » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:41 am

Yes, stable gaze means not moving your eyes around or blinking.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby futerko » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:42 am

twiz wrote:No incense in this house...both the cat and I have asthma.


I prefer an oil burner myself, which produces no particulates.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby philji » Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:47 pm

I have practiced this form of shamata under the guidance of my teacher and he advised as follows.
One month of gently gazing at the picture of a Buddha, occasionally closing eyes and recalling the image

Month 2
Again use the picture as a support but then imagine the image above you and facing you. Firstly... Normal size...then as small as possible then as large as possible.
When image fades return to picture for a while....
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby greentara » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:38 am

I used to stare at a Buddha rupa and when I shut my eyes the shape of the Buddha was still there imprinted under my closed eyelids.
I've read its pretty standard and nothing advanced about it.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:07 am

greentara wrote:I used to stare at a Buddha rupa and when I shut my eyes the shape of the Buddha was still there imprinted under my closed eyelids.
I've read its pretty standard and nothing advanced about it.


yea that's a retina imprint.

how long was you able to hold your concentration on the image inside your mind?
was the image actually developed,could you see his hair strands perfectly,his facial expressions,every wrinkle in his clothing,eye color,halo and all its shining radiance,hand mudra.

its complex cause you have to create a perfect representation of every characteristic in your mind,then be able to hold that image with perfect concentration.

most people cant even hold the image of a red circle in their mind without losing it.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby smcj » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:24 am

When I complained about the same thing to my teacher the following conversation took place.

He: How long have you lived at your current place?
Me: Oh, about 5 years.
He: When you come home at night, is the doorknob on the right or the left?
Me: The right. Why do you ask?
He: How did you know that?
Me: Well, I just remembered what the door looks like.
He: In other words you visualized it. You have no problem at all with visualization.

So visualization is "remembering what it looks like".

Most people cant even hold the image of a red circle in their mind without losing it.

Guilty. Hey, it's not easy!
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:54 am

smcj wrote:When I complained about the same thing to my teacher the following conversation took place.

He: How long have you lived at your current place?
Me: Oh, about 5 years.
He: When you come home at night, is the doorknob on the right or the left?
Me: The right. Why do you ask?
He: How did you know that?
Me: Well, I just remembered what the door looks like.
He: In other words you visualized it. You have no problem at all with visualization.

So visualization is "remembering what it looks like".

Most people cant even hold the image of a red circle in their mind without losing it.

Guilty. Hey, it's not easy!


yea if a person can create a complex image of the Buddha in great detail in their mind and hold perfect concentration on the image without losing it then more power to them.

BUT many people struggle just creating the image of a red circle(Kasina) in their mind to begin with,then they struggle with concentration on the object trying to keep it from disappearing, for most people it is better to start out with something "easy" such as a red circle then move on to a image that is more complex to create and hold.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby greentara » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:44 am

Years ago I read Alexandra David Neel's book. As I remember she conjured up a yidam or was it a tulpu? The 'entity' had great energy and detail but at the end she found it troublesome having to hallucinate this 'being' into life and she ended up dismantling it.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby twiz » Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:54 am

Well, the clarification I received from Rinpoche was that yes, you are to see the picture in clear detail and color.
BUT, I'm jumping ahead with high expectations for that to happen quickly. Those expectations led to a great deal of frustration and dread in my meditation practice over the last month.

My understanding of his suggestions is really focus on calming breaths, look at the picture for VERY short periods of time (1-2min), take a break while sitting (think of BUddha qualities, do mantra/prayer, calming breaths, etc), and revisit for a very short time. He gave an example of a mother who is always thinking about and seeing what their children may be doing, even though she cannot see them with her eyes at the moment. Or, imaging an experience you have had...the more you think about it, the more you can really see it in your mind. For now, that is the goal. Not necessarily seeing the image in detail, rather seeing/knowing it in my mind. I should practice other type of visualizations with my mind, like I mentioned above. If necessary, practice with a more simple object while sitting. Buddha was still highly recommended to continue working with.

I also think I need to form a better connection with the picture. He pointed out one may require very strong faith and practice to see a picture or visualize in great detail. Mindfulness is not new to me, but meditation with a strong base in faith along this path is still in it's beginning phases. Patience, grasshopper. It takes time and a lot of practice, I guess.

It was also suggested when I get frustrated, to move along to something else - prostration, mantra, readings, etc. Anything to strengthen my faith. In turn that should help with meditation. Oh yes, and a common theme each time we meet...make sure to be grateful to myself for putting forth the effort. Be grateful for this fortunate situation where I can at least try. Notice the positive changes in my body, speech, mind outside meditation. If I notice changes, and especially when others remark on changes they see in me...then my practice is working.

It's funny, one of my main questions was what I should do while he is in India for 3-4 months and I get stuck or frustrated. I was just about to ask at the end of our meeting when he gave the above suggestion about focusing on the positive. I like when those questions get answered without having to ask! The answer is so obvious...why didn't I think of that?! :shrug:

So, onward I go. Baby steps, patience, effort, and gratitude.
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby twiz » Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:00 am

I'm going to bury a new question in an old topic.

I have severe adhd and have not given up hope. Mindfulness meditation has been quite a long process, but so much progress. I expect it will be the same with single point/concentrated/visualization. Sometimes I doubt if my brain is actually capable. I'm wondering, if brain and mind are different does that mean someone with adhd, brain damage, etc could still visualize with persistent effort? Or are they so intimately connected that w/o the proper brain functioning, you will never have enough concentration to visualize?
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Re: Concentrated/Single Point Meditation

Postby hop.pala » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:02 pm

I think the classical single point meditation happen by opened eyes,without close your eyes for not imagine something.The single point meditation is exactly for do not imagine something.Visualise can you do with closed eyes,but this not the single point meditation.
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