Stopping thoughts?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby Martin007 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:15 pm

Nikolay wrote: How does one "concentrate on the present moment" without stopping thoughts? Or maybe I am overthinking it?


As others have suggested it's not really about "stopping" thoughts but allowing them to pass - so there's a sense of letting go. And usually with samatha one is focussing on a particular object like the breath, which makes this easier. Give it time!
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:39 pm

It is helpful to distinguish between "a thought' and the "process of thinking".
If you really look at what's going on, there are no things that are thoughts. We can label a passing moment in the process of thinking 'a thought' , but that is really just a sort of freeze-frame way of looking at the activity of the mind. We can apply that method (and most people seem to be in the habit of doing that) but it isn't really accurate. When we say "thoughts arise" this is a convenient way of expressing the activity of the mind. But when you really analyze it, thoughts do not arise, meaning that there are no "things' that are separate, self-existent thoughts, no little thought-clouds in the head.

So, then the question shifts. Instead of asking about stopping thoughts, you have to ask about stopping the activity of the mind, and you really can't do that. Or, if you do it, you won't be aware of it, and you could have no memory of it! So then, what is this whole idea about? It's about calming the activity of the mind, allowing the activity to settle so that the awareness is on mind itself, rather than on objects of internal or external awareness.

Here is a little experiment you can do. Do you hear that? Shhhh! listen very carefully. (as though there might be some strange noise, either very soft, or very far away that you are trying to hear). Put all of your attention on the subtlest thing you can hear.

While you are doing this, while your mind's full attention is on subtle hearing, just take a little bit of notice of your visual awareness---not at what your eyes are looking at (don't shift your attention away from listening), which may be nothing at all, but just barely notice the visual awareness itself. Just sort of feel your eyeballs with your mind. If you practice this a few times, what you will notice, what you can sort of replicate, is awareness without thinking. Of course, this is limited to visual awareness, but it will give you some sense of "no thoughts arising". You can also do this by focusing on listening and then noticing your body's tactile awareness, or taste awareness.

From this exercise, you can see that it is possible to bring your mind to complete rest, with no object of focus and no thought activity occurring...just awareness itself, and awareness of that awareness without imputing a "self' who is being aware.
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Re: Stopping thoughts?

Postby avisitor » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:00 am

Here is my two cents ...
It isn't in stopping thoughts that meditation becomes deeper ... better.
It is the practice of letting go of thoughts that allows one to set the right conditions for mindfulness.
If one is having problems with thoughts arising and letting them go then it is the mind fighting to keep control.

How does one overcome this problem??
Having a good ******* helps.
Doing the work and fight the battle til one has achieved balance.
I can not say how cause everyone is different.
But, the work must be done in order to have a deeper practice.
Don't chase thoughts and don't suppress them.
"Let them arise and let them go"
Return to breath ... that is your lifeline to awareness.
Good luck.
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