A bit lost about techniques, types and more - Dhamma Wheel

A bit lost about techniques, types and more

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby carlosm » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:20 pm

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the long explanation, and my English (not a native speaker), but I'm a bit confused about meditation and would like to someone to clarify some points and guided me in the right direction.

I've been meditating for about four months kind of on my own, even though I had attended some soto zen class in the past long time ago. I've been reading quite a lot of books articles on meditations and buddhism in general, from different traditions. My initial ideas was that there's a distinction between concentration( samathi) and insight (vipassanna?), that you could work both separately but they also complement each other, one is needed for the other one to develop. At the same time, virtue, concentration and wisdom are the trainings and and related, wisdom needs concentration.

From all this I thought that the first thing to do was strength my concentration in order to then gain wisdom and practice those techniques later. In some articles from different authors I've read about focusing in the upper lip/nostril, and bring the attention back to it, does not matter how many times, just do it. Don't try to control the breath, just watching and focus in that point, one-pointless, the mind should be really narrow...

BUT at the same time I've been reading a lot in, and seems to me that Thanissaro teachings another kind of meditation, he does not talks about fix the mind in the upper lip, he talks about breathing with the whole body, and modify the breath to heal it. Seems to me that this approach is more like a mixture between insight and concentration.

So during the past weeks my meditation has been quite bad, because I don't know what exactly do, what's the proper way to meditate. At the beginning of my practice when I focused in the upper lip I gained what I think It was access concentration, but lately trying to use the Thanissaru technique seems that I'm unable to be fully focus in the breath trying to breath with the whole body.

So, what would be the "proper" way? I assume that both ways works, all depends on the school that you follow. I
Is It useful to work only on concentration (upper lip/nostril)? Or should I just use something like Thanissaru approach?

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Re: A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:19 pm

There isn't a proper way. The directions for meditation in the suttas are vague, perhaps deliberately vague. The most important thing about meditation is practicing consistently every day. Do what works for you. You have the rest of it right.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby daverupa » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:29 pm

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Re: A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby santa100 » Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:06 pm

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Re: A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby Ben » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:36 pm

Greetings Carlosm,

my recommendation is to attend a residential meditation retreat of 7-10 days in a tradition that you feel comfortable. Practice what you learn with diligence during and following the retreat experience for up to one year to give it a decent trial. If you find that it gives you benefit - continue with it. If not, try something else.
kind regards,

“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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Re: A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby 2600htz » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:54 pm


Im sorry but thats just the natural way of how things work :).
At first we meditate just based on intuition and a few advices, and meditation works well (to certain level, but it gets to a point where u cant go further).
Later we want to improve, so we start reading and adding a lot of intellectual ideas to the practice, and this usually will cause a relapse in the meditation, because u will be trying to do concepts . And this is hard at first (in any discipline).

Hope it helps.

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Re: A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby bodom » Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:03 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

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Re: A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby chownah » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:34 am

I agree with many here who say to not skip around but rather stay with one thing for awhile. If you think you should be expanding the scope of the breathing then you might try abdominal breathing.....that is following the breath by concentrating on the sensation of the abdominal area. Some people have observed that focusing on the upper lip area tends to create a more cerebral and visual experience while focusing on the abdominal area tends to createa a more bodily sort of experience although some people do say that one can start either way and have expereinces of either's not a "one way or the other" sort of a thing....some people respond better one way and some respond better the other but either way can lead to the full range of experience. Since you seem to respond really well to the upper lip area I think you might be good to not abandon it....but you might establish concentration at that point and then when well established try to move focus to the abdomen....or as many people have said just stick with the upper lip and continue since you are getting good results....
I also want to point out that some people think that it is best to get advise from experts about how to modify one's techinique while other people think that it is best to do as much as possible on your own. I think one advantage is that if you go get advise from an expert you will probably be getting a balanced lesson including range of Dhamma stuff which for many is what is needed to keep moving forward. If you more or less go it alone you should be sure to include some self study about the Dhamma in general as meditation without some sort of overarching experiential context is probably limited in depth.

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Re: A bit lost about techniques, types and more

Postby carlosm » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:29 am

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