Non-meditation and distractions

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby kirtu » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:34 pm

You cannot begin non-conceptual meditation at any level without some minimal basis in concentration. This is the beginning purpose of shamatha.

You say that you are not able to stay with an object of meditation? How about sitting for 10 minutes at a time, several times a day just focused on the breath or an image of the Buddha in your mind (or physically in front of you). As distractions arise, just ignore them and focus on the object of meditation. Or if you become distracted, just recognize it and bring your mind back to the object. Set a day aside once a week to do this for say four hours (so 10 mins meditation, 10 minutes rest, for 1 hr at a time).

Have you tried doing this?

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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby TaTa » Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:01 pm

kirtu wrote:You cannot begin non-conceptual meditation at any level without some minimal basis in concentration. This is the beginning purpose of shamatha.

You say that you are not able to stay with an object of meditation? How about sitting for 10 minutes at a time, several times a day just focused on the breath or an image of the Buddha in your mind (or physically in front of you). As distractions arise, just ignore them and focus on the object of meditation. Or if you become distracted, just recognize it and bring your mind back to the object. Set a day aside once a week to do this for say four hours (so 10 mins meditation, 10 minutes rest, for 1 hr at a time).

Have you tried doing this?

Kirt


I think this is the key. People forget that almost all masters enfasis acheiving shamata or at least gaining some degree on it. Also they forget that Non meditation is in the same sentence as non distraction.
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby Lindama » Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:15 pm

duckfiasco wrote:
Concerning mindfulness serving or not serving as the meditation: some deluded people appear to concentrate with rigid fixation and believe that keeping their mind hostage is the meditation of mahāmudrā. That is nothing but their personal fault. The authentic great Kagyu masters took self-cognizant mindfulness as their practice, which is identical to the primordially pure self-awareness of the dzogchen system. Thus, despite different terminology, there is no difference in meaning. Neither system, mahāmudrā nor dzogchen, considers that meditation is the conceptual mind that fixates on mindfulness.
-- Tsele Natsok Rangdröl




This quote has stayed with me. Where does it come from? Just at the moment, it speaks very clearly. The other day, the word inconceivable came up, just that feeling. He is not talking about no thought or lack of thoughts, he's looking at its fixed nature. Then I went on with the day.

today, I'm getting an image of awareness with a quality of inconceivability. I actually can't explain that, it's probably not the words. He talks about the lack of fixation... things come and go easily. The beach chair meditation is about "360 degree awareness". That's inconceivable to the rational mind but not foreign to awareness. It's something to catch I suppose.

The link to purify mind seems to be a diff teaching, perhaps a preliminary... I don't know.
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:03 am

Thank you everyone for helping clarify a lot of things.

I found another article linked on this forum, and I just have to share the following (lengthy) passage from it because it spoke directly to my issue.
1. Bringing Thoughts to the Path
There are six types of adversities which need to be brought to the path. The first adversity is thought. Now thoughts continue to arise for us and sometimes they are extremely intense. These intense thoughts can be virtuous or non virtuous; they can be pleasant or unpleasant. In any case, if we follow the thought we become more bewildered, which leads to more fixation, which leads to more problems. If we apply the remedy to the thought, the thought is pacified, which leads to both temporary and ultimate happiness. So when we're meditating with a relaxed mind, whether we are practicing Shamatha or Vipashyana, when thoughts arise and distract us this obstructs our meditative state of stillness, so therefore it can be an obstacle. The remedy to this is how to bring thoughts to the path.

When we are meditating, eventually a thought will arise. It could be a weak thought or an intense thought, it could be a virtuous thought or a negative thought. In any case the situation is the same. It seems necessary to do something about this and there are three things we usually think of that we might do about thought. The first thing is that we need to recognize that the thought has arisen, and once we recognize that the thought is present we need to somehow restrain the thought, in other words get hold of it. Finally we need to apply an antidote, a wisdom that serves as an antidote to that thought. But here, this is not what is done. That is not how we bring thoughts to the path.

Another thing that we think we might have to do is to recognize that a thought has arisen and then examine it, we question the thought, try to see what it is like. Here, revealing the nature of the thought through analysis is also not what is done.

A third thing that may occur to us is that when the thought arises we just acknowledge its having arisen and then let go of it and it will dissolve. That is also not bringing the thought to the path.
Bringing thoughts to the path consists of: When the thought arises, you recognize that it has arisen, but you don't try to stop it or get rid of the thought, nor do you follow the thought. In other words, you don't try to alter the thought or the presence of the thought in your mind in any way. You don't examine or analyze the thought. All you do, is in a relaxed way look directly at it. When you look directly at the thought, the substance of the thought will disappear. But even before the thought has disappeared or dissolved, you will see its nature, which is beyond conceptual apprehension. As soon as you see the nature of the thought, even though the thought is still present, it has become meditation. That is how to bring thoughts to the path.

When you attempt looking at thoughts as a beginner, particularly with intense thoughts, you may find this uncomfortable. It may seem somewhat unnatural to you, but if you continue to apply it, it will eventually become quite natural and be an effective way to enter into meditation even in the midst of thought. Once you are experienced with this, then you will have the habit of, as soon as a thought arises, looking directly at its nature and it will become quite easy.

http://www.purifymind.com/ObstaclesPath.htm

I tried this advice and found it immediately beneficial.
Shortly after, I was able to see entire thought chains form, then fall apart, instead of immediately trying to crush them. Not the entire session, but for a little :)

For the first time, I realized that my suffering is not caused by the monkey mind from its own side. Here were the same kinds of thoughts, but without feelings of aversion or helplessness.
That's got me looking deeper whenever frustration comes up, instead of just blaming yet another lapse in concentration.

Second, I had never noticed before but every time I turned back to the object, it was with a subtle sense of aversion. I didn't like the distraction. I didn't like the intrusive and pointless daydreams. This is a definite fuel for the restlessness.
It seems obvious now, and I've read countless times not to be frustrated with distractions, but it's hard not to let aversion creep in after turning back to the breath for the 100th time in one sitting.

I don't know how many times I've read this kind of advice or these kinds of ideas, but it had just never sunk in.

Also, I'm going to my first Goenka retreat at the end of January.
I'm so glad for what the people of DW have taught me and helped me learn. It's very timely.
Especially with this (now obvious) idea that equanimity is important, I feel like I can try what kirtu suggests and be a bit more insistent on training the mind on the object for short periods of time.
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:56 pm

One meditation I got from somewhere or other that helped me was to try differentiating between the moving mind (i.e. thoughts) and the still mind, and see if they are the same thing, or different. I think the usual way you think about it from something like Vipayshana as a beginner (which I most certainly am) is that thoughts happen "inside" a still mind, so it's worth examining them and seeing if the subtle assumption that they are substantially different is correct.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby greentara » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:40 pm

"The essence of your proud mind is the unfolding of self-awareness,
Naturally empty the moment you rest, looking into your natural face.
This state is called the wisdom of equality.
Young maid let's rest in the natural state.

The essence of your lustful mind is attachment for sure,
The state of empty bliss, the moment you sustain it without clinging.
This nature is called discriminating wisdom.
Young maid, let's rest in the natural state"

So beautiful, simple, inspirational.... yet so hard to put into practice.
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby padma norbu » Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:50 am

greentara wrote:"The essence of your proud mind is the unfolding of self-awareness,
Naturally empty the moment you rest, looking into your natural face.
This state is called the wisdom of equality.
Young maid let's rest in the natural state.

The essence of your lustful mind is attachment for sure,
The state of empty bliss, the moment you sustain it without clinging.
This nature is called discriminating wisdom.
Young maid, let's rest in the natural state"

So beautiful, simple, inspirational.... yet so hard to put into practice.


Mostly a problem of remembering to practice, don't you think? Before I made the shift from sitting-in-front-of-my-shrine practice to focus on practice-in-daily-life, this kind of advice was basically completely lost on me. I didn't really understand what "integration" even meant. It seems that ever since I've stopped thinking of practice as something separate from daily life, I now constantly walk around with my intentions foremost in my mind and, while I wouldn't say I walk around all day in "bliss" or thinking "this is my natural face!" I do read this sort of advice now and feel I understand it. Which is nice, for a change.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby hop.pala » Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:48 pm

Mostly a problem of remembering to practice, don't you think? Before I made the shift from sitting-in-front-of-my-shrine practice to focus on practice-in-daily-life, this kind of advice was basically completely lost on me.

right.By to much thinking goes at the expense of meditation.First you to know and only much later maybe can be say something about that.But the explanation is not the understanding.
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:03 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:One meditation I got from somewhere or other that helped me was to try differentiating between the moving mind (i.e. thoughts) and the still mind, and see if they are the same thing, or different. I think the usual way you think about it from something like Vipayshana as a beginner (which I most certainly am) is that thoughts happen "inside" a still mind, so it's worth examining them and seeing if the subtle assumption that they are substantially different is correct.

Could you please elaborate on this? It seems to be right up my alley.
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:34 am

duckfiasco wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:One meditation I got from somewhere or other that helped me was to try differentiating between the moving mind (i.e. thoughts) and the still mind, and see if they are the same thing, or different. I think the usual way you think about it from something like Vipayshana as a beginner (which I most certainly am) is that thoughts happen "inside" a still mind, so it's worth examining them and seeing if the subtle assumption that they are substantially different is correct.

Could you please elaborate on this? It seems to be right up my alley.



There's a little bit about it in the Mahamudra book I mentioned earlier, in short...mind and what he calls kalpana - discursive thoughts - are not separate things at all, but in the beginning, you view kalpana as something separate and distinct from the still mind.

http://www.mahamudracenter.org/mmcmembe ... nguide.pdf

This PDF has a meditation that I think covers the same ground, in fact this manual is just awesome in general.
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby dude » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:40 am

duckfiasco wrote:Thank you everyone for helping clarify a lot of things.

I found another article linked on this forum, and I just have to share the following (lengthy) passage from it because it spoke directly to my issue.
1. Bringing Thoughts to the Path
There are six types of adversities which need to be brought to the path. The first adversity is thought. Now thoughts continue to arise for us and sometimes they are extremely intense. These intense thoughts can be virtuous or non virtuous; they can be pleasant or unpleasant. In any case, if we follow the thought we become more bewildered, which leads to more fixation, which leads to more problems. If we apply the remedy to the thought, the thought is pacified, which leads to both temporary and ultimate happiness. So when we're meditating with a relaxed mind, whether we are practicing Shamatha or Vipashyana, when thoughts arise and distract us this obstructs our meditative state of stillness, so therefore it can be an obstacle. The remedy to this is how to bring thoughts to the path.

When we are meditating, eventually a thought will arise. It could be a weak thought or an intense thought, it could be a virtuous thought or a negative thought. In any case the situation is the same. It seems necessary to do something about this and there are three things we usually think of that we might do about thought. The first thing is that we need to recognize that the thought has arisen, and once we recognize that the thought is present we need to somehow restrain the thought, in other words get hold of it. Finally we need to apply an antidote, a wisdom that serves as an antidote to that thought. But here, this is not what is done. That is not how we bring thoughts to the path.

Another thing that we think we might have to do is to recognize that a thought has arisen and then examine it, we question the thought, try to see what it is like. Here, revealing the nature of the thought through analysis is also not what is done.

A third thing that may occur to us is that when the thought arises we just acknowledge its having arisen and then let go of it and it will dissolve. That is also not bringing the thought to the path.
Bringing thoughts to the path consists of: When the thought arises, you recognize that it has arisen, but you don't try to stop it or get rid of the thought, nor do you follow the thought. In other words, you don't try to alter the thought or the presence of the thought in your mind in any way. You don't examine or analyze the thought. All you do, is in a relaxed way look directly at it. When you look directly at the thought, the substance of the thought will disappear. But even before the thought has disappeared or dissolved, you will see its nature, which is beyond conceptual apprehension. As soon as you see the nature of the thought, even though the thought is still present, it has become meditation. That is how to bring thoughts to the path.

When you attempt looking at thoughts as a beginner, particularly with intense thoughts, you may find this uncomfortable. It may seem somewhat unnatural to you, but if you continue to apply it, it will eventually become quite natural and be an effective way to enter into meditation even in the midst of thought. Once you are experienced with this, then you will have the habit of, as soon as a thought arises, looking directly at its nature and it will become quite easy.

http://www.purifymind.com/ObstaclesPath.htm

I tried this advice and found it immediately beneficial.
Shortly after, I was able to see entire thought chains form, then fall apart, instead of immediately trying to crush them. Not the entire session, but for a little :)

For the first time, I realized that my suffering is not caused by the monkey mind from its own side. Here were the same kinds of thoughts, but without feelings of aversion or helplessness.
That's got me looking deeper whenever frustration comes up, instead of just blaming yet another lapse in concentration.

Second, I had never noticed before but every time I turned back to the object, it was with a subtle sense of aversion. I didn't like the distraction. I didn't like the intrusive and pointless daydreams. This is a definite fuel for the restlessness.
It seems obvious now, and I've read countless times not to be frustrated with distractions, but it's hard not to let aversion creep in after turning back to the breath for the 100th time in one sitting.

I don't know how many times I've read this kind of advice or these kinds of ideas, but it had just never sunk in.

Also, I'm going to my first Goenka retreat at the end of January.
I'm so glad for what the people of DW have taught me and helped me learn. It's very timely.
Especially with this (now obvious) idea that equanimity is important, I feel like I can try what kirtu suggests and be a bit more insistent on training the mind on the object for short periods of time.



I am so so pleased to hear this, duck.
I have been thinking ever since we last talked on how to grapple with this one, and it's been frustrating for me. I think you've now found the right strategy I was searching to put into words, and I'm delighted.
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Re: Non-meditation and distractions

Postby dude » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:46 am

There's a little bit about it in the Mahamudra book I mentioned earlier, in short...mind and what he calls kalpana - discursive thoughts - are not separate things at all, but in the beginning, you view kalpana as something separate and distinct from the still mind.

http://www.mahamudracenter.org/mmcmembe ... nguide.pdf

This PDF has a meditation that I think covers the same ground, in fact this manual is just awesome in general.
]

That's excellent. Thank you very much indeed, Johnny, and namaste.
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