Mind wandering

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Mind wandering

Postby StayFocused » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:30 am

I am wondering if this stops after long term meditation, I have 2 types of wandering, intrusive short thoughts that come and go by themselves, and full wandering where I catch myself in deep thought.

Also I have taught my 9 year old nephew to meditate he meditates for 20 minutes a day and he says his mind does not wander, is he telling lies or is this normal for a child?
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:39 am

StayFocused wrote:I am wondering if this stops after long term meditation, I have 2 types of wandering, intrusive short thoughts that come and go by themselves, and full wandering where I catch myself in deep thought.

Also I have taught my 9 year old nephew to meditate he meditates for 20 minutes a day and he says his mind does not wander, is he telling lies or is this normal for a child?



Thoughts that come and go are only intrusive if you grab onto them, to best of my knowledge, you will never cease having those, so it's the relationship to those that you should focus on,. not judging whether it's good or bad to have more or less of them...just let them be. Catching yourself in thought gets less over time, but I imagine only fairly advanced meditators get to a point where it rarely or never happens. The point is to increase the amount of time where you are not caught up in thought, the amount of time between those points can get longer and longer.

My guess is a nine year old kid wouldn't normally be able to even have the insight to know whether their mind is wandering (exceptions of course for sure).

All just my own experience of course, so take with a grain of salt and all that.
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby seeker242 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:21 am

As you progress in gaining skill in concentration, the mind wandering will decrease in proportion to your skill in concentration. More skill, less wandering. Even more skill, even less wandering.

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Re: Mind wandering

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:54 am

The point is simply to notice that it's wandering! The brain churns out thoughts all of the time, it is a perfectly natural process, and the point is not to try and stop it, but simply be aware, and then return your focus to the breath or the object of meditation. If you start to engage in thoughts like 'I shouldn't have thoughts, why am I thinking this' it is simply more thinking! The real skill is always being simply aware - it is only when thoughts begin to carry you along with them that the problems start, but if you are aware 'this is simply a thought' then it is not likely to happen.

And it also helps to abandon expectations of what the mind 'should' do or be like. It simply is at it is and the task of meditation is to see it as it is, not to try and make it into anything.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby avisitor » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:36 am

It is okay for thoughts to come and go.
The important thing is to let go
It is this practice of letting go that lets one break the train of thoughts
And as one practices more ... the more the concentration intensifies and less thoughts arise.

The mind of a young child is not an easy thing to gauge.
But, be assured that most still have that flow of thoughts in their head even if they believe they don't.
Conceptual mind is a hard thing to let go.
Especially when one uses it to deal with the world at large.
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby oushi » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:51 am

StayFocused wrote:I am wondering if this stops after long term meditation, I have 2 types of wandering, intrusive short thoughts that come and go by themselves, and full wandering where I catch myself in deep thought.

Also I have taught my 9 year old nephew to meditate he meditates for 20 minutes a day and he says his mind does not wander, is he telling lies or is this normal for a child?

Thoughts are triggered by emotions (mostly by worrying) and are means of looking for truth that will cure the problem that triggered them. We can technically say it's natural.
Karma does not go away if we block it. It is released through letting it go, so through wandering mind for example. We can think of it as a pressure pushing thoughts from inside. There is no point in stopping them temporary by using effort to quiet the mind. Also, there is no point in following them, because there is no end to problems of an ignorant mind. Solving them one by one is a never ending story.
What we should aim for, is a mind that transcends wandering and stillness, not being perturbed or attracted by them. So, first we need to notice it and then see the empty nature of it.

It is not as simple as letting though go, because mind will habitually grasp after them. It needs an anchor. Without it, you will forget to let thoughts go. If you let go of a thought, where will you direct you mind then?
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby avisitor » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:29 am

oushi wrote:It is not as simple as letting though go, because mind will habitually grasp after them. It needs an anchor. Without it, you will forget to let thoughts go. If you let go of a thought, where will you direct you mind then?


When you see you are not on breath, then bring yourself back to breath.
Breath is the lifeline or "anchor" to your awareness.
It is as simple as letting thoughts arise and letting them go.
The hard part is to actually practice it correctly.
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby oushi » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:43 am

avisitor wrote:When you see you are not on breath, then bring yourself back to breath.
Breath is the lifeline or "anchor" to your awareness.

Now the question is, do you want to stay there forever, or is it a skillful way of achieving something else?
avisitor wrote:It is as simple as letting thoughts arise and letting them go.

Simple, but not easy. I know even shorter guidelines, but that does not make them easier.
avisitor wrote:The hard part is to actually practice it correctly.

Underneath this statement lies the wast ocean of practice, where people are looking for the crucial "how?".
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby Nosta » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:34 pm

Teaching your son to meditate? Great!! :)

Maybe he is not lying. He is just a child and he may not be fully aware that he is wandering. Or maybe he is really good at meditation, whe never know.

Nevertherless, keep doing that. There are lots of benefits.
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby avisitor » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:12 am

oushi wrote:
avisitor wrote:When you see you are not on breath, then bring yourself back to breath.
Breath is the lifeline or "anchor" to your awareness.

Now the question is, do you want to stay there forever, or is it a skillful way of achieving something else?
avisitor wrote:It is as simple as letting thoughts arise and letting them go.

Simple, but not easy. I know even shorter guidelines, but that does not make them easier.
avisitor wrote:The hard part is to actually practice it correctly.

Underneath this statement lies the wast ocean of practice, where people are looking for the crucial "how?".


Please don't take this topic to a side track. Respond to the OP and/or his topic.
Listen I don't disagree with you but there is a time for everything
giving encouragement when necessary and giving direction when necessary.
Please check your ego at the door.

If you ask,
oushi wrote:"Now the question is, do you want to stay there forever, or is it a skillful way of achieving something else?"
...
Then what happened to being in the present moment, to be mindful??
Let thoughts arise and let thoughts go. Don't chase. Don't suppress.
The mind will wander. It is presently all about practice .. returning to breath.
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby LastLegend » Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:44 am

avisitor wrote:Please don't take this topic to a side track. Respond to the OP and/or his topic.
Listen I don't disagree with you but there is a time for everything
giving encouragement when necessary and giving direction when necessary.
Please check your ego at the door.


Ah friend. Welcome to Dharmawheel.

Getting back to topic-Mind Wandering, what is mind? And what is wandering? I am just asking questions. I have no answers for I am still struggling myself.
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NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby oushi » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:57 am

avisitor wrote:Please don't take this topic to a side track. Respond to the OP and/or his topic.
Listen I don't disagree with you but there is a time for everything
giving encouragement when necessary and giving direction when necessary.
Please check your ego at the door.

Before saying what is necessary and when, check you ego at the door. What are you trying to prove?

If you ask,
oushi wrote:"Now the question is, do you want to stay there forever, or is it a skillful way of achieving something else?"
...
Then what happened to being in the present moment, to be mindful??

Every moment is the present moment... you cannot get out of it. How does being mindful relate to letting go? To be mindful you need to keep track of every thought, so you need to hold, and control it. Your letting go is a decision not, effortless flow. You end up with more stressful state then before practicing.
Let thoughts arise and let thoughts go. Don't chase. Don't suppress.
The mind will wander. It is presently all about practice .. returning to breath.

That's just talking... and I asked very precise question. By saying, "let thoughts go" you are helping no one. :smile:
Those are very basic and crucial issues which you will not solve by saying: just practice.
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby KonchokZoepa » Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:07 pm

StayFocused wrote:I am wondering if this stops after long term meditation, I have 2 types of wandering, intrusive short thoughts that come and go by themselves, and full wandering where I catch myself in deep thought.



i would recommend the book that i just wrote a review in the book review section. Diamond mind - a psychology of meditation by Rob Nairn.

in his books he starts with the first instructions that you should be able to accept all thoughts and be ok with whatever arises in your mind. related to this he talks about our inner surveilance system that we should become conscious of how we make opinions and judgmenets etc from whats taking place in our mind. to relax and accept and see without becoming disturbed. letting them go can sound allright but not understanding how to do it you might actually repress your thoughts and that is not meditation.

becoming aware of this inner surveillance is a real key to meditation and making the mind more clarified and more open and free.

i really recommend this book to you since i can feel and see from what you are going in meditation that this book would be of GREAT help to you.
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

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Re: Mind wandering

Postby avisitor » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:32 pm

oushi wrote:...

I do not wish to side track this topic so I PM you.
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby LastLegend » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:49 pm

avisitor wrote:
oushi wrote:...

I do not wish to side track this topic so I PM you.


I don't understand how this is side track. Are we still not talking about mind and thoughts?
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby undefineable » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:07 pm

oushi wrote:It is not as simple as letting though go, because mind will habitually grasp after them. It needs an anchor. Without it, you will forget to let thoughts go. If you let go of a thought, where will you direct you mind then?
That's the question _ _ [quote+"avisitor"]If you ask,
oushi wrote:"Now the question is, do you want to stay there forever, or is it a skillful way of achieving something else?"
...
Then what happened to being in the present moment, to be mindful??
Let thoughts arise and let thoughts go. Don't chase. Don't suppress.
The mind will wander. It is presently all about practice .. returning to breath.[/quote] Whether either the breath or wandering thoughts are a sufficient anchor for the mind is under question. Maybe that's why ungrasped mental phenomena -along with the space in which they occur- takes so long (i.e. the time one's mindstream takes to reach full enlightement) and/or so much mental transformation to begin functioning as that 'anchor', even when one constantly wills it / does what it takes to make it so. So where you say: [quote+"avisitor"]Please don't take this topic to a side track. Respond to the OP and/or his topic.
Listen I don't disagree with you but there is a time for everything
giving encouragement when necessary and giving direction when necessary.
Please check your ego at the door.[/quote] , I disagree, since mental wandering (defined as continued mental phenomena of which one is unaware) is supposed to stop by full enlightenment. {I have no opinion as to the degree of Oushi's ego, though I doubt that he is either a Buddha or a non-Buddhist ;) }
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby oushi » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:45 pm

avisitor wrote:
oushi wrote:...

I do not wish to side track this topic so I PM you.

Will you try to convince me that you are right and I am wrong? There is no point in doing that. If my words don't help you, please ignore them. I you see something else them sincere openness in my posts, please ignore them. I will not spend time convincing anyone to anything, I just share my views.
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby LastLegend » Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:20 pm

avisitor wrote:
When you see you are not on breath, then bring yourself back to breath.
Breath is the lifeline or "anchor" to your awareness.
It is as simple as letting thoughts arise and letting them go.
The hard part is to actually practice it correctly.


I hope no offense taken on both of us.

I would like to ask you if awareness is always with you, why do you have to sit to be aware? Why can't we be aware when we eat, walk, talk, chant Amitabha, or even taking a shit?
NAMO AMITABHA
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NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby Lindama » Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:50 pm

oushi wrote:
avisitor wrote:
oushi wrote:...

I do not wish to side track this topic so I PM you.

Will you try to convince me that you are right and I am wrong? There is no point in doing that. If my words don't help you, please ignore them. I you see something else them sincere openness in my posts, please ignore them. I will not spend time convincing anyone to anything, I just share my views.


:smile:
oh, I didn't read on... disregard my question.

just love you
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Re: Mind wandering

Postby undefineable » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:42 pm

I apologise on behalf of Dharmawheel's computer system, which seems to have posted a first draft of this post a while ago without my asking :rolleye:
oushi wrote:It is not as simple as letting though go, because mind will habitually grasp after them. It needs an anchor. Without it, you will forget to let thoughts go. If you let go of a thought, where will you direct you mind then?
That's the question _ _
avisitor wrote:If you ask,
oushi wrote:"Now the question is, do you want to stay there forever, or is it a skillful way of achieving something else?"
...
Then what happened to being in the present moment, to be mindful??
Let thoughts arise and let thoughts go. Don't chase. Don't suppress.
The mind will wander. It is presently all about practice .. returning to breath.
Whether either the breath or wandering thoughts are a sufficient anchor for the mind is under question. Maybe that's why ungrasped mental phenomena -along with the space in which they occur- takes so long (i.e. the time one's mindstream takes to reach full enlightement) and/or so much mental transformation to begin functioning as that 'anchor', even when one constantly wills it / does what it takes to make it so. So where you say:
avisitor wrote:Please don't take this topic to a side track. Respond to the OP and/or his topic.
Listen I don't disagree with you but there is a time for everything
giving encouragement when necessary and giving direction when necessary.
Please check your ego at the door.
, I disagree, since mental wandering -defined as continued mental phenomena of which one is at best subliminally aware for most of the time- is supposed to stop by full enlightenment. {I have no opinion as to the degree of Oushi's ego, though I doubt that he is either a Buddha or a non-Buddhist ;) }
KonchokZoepa wrote: letting them go can sound allright but not understanding how to do it you might actually repress your thoughts and that is not meditation.

becoming aware of this inner surveillance is a real key to meditation and making the mind more clarified and more open and free.
These sound worlds apart. Hopefully we all know that most people subconsciously repress thoughts that have been judged to be negative or useless, although habitually failing to suppress thoughts will clearly make for a mixed blessing on the Path (and may partly account for the bias towards those with mental problems among the sub-set of people who are attracted to meditation :alien: ). For me atleast, the difference with shamatha/vipassana is that in order to practice you have to accept that if there is no substantial Self to be gained or lost by following thoughts, then there is no need to follow or repress any of them during the session, and no use in following thoughts so far as to really get lost in them at any other time. {In my experience atleast, most of the pain caused by the kind of thoughts people tend to repress comes from ego's sense that unrepressed 'negative' thoughts will warn of or (alternatively) lead to the destruction of Self.

To develop enough 'inner surveillance' to penetrate to the roots of one's mental habits, on the other hand, sounds like the result of long-term meditation to say the very least :bow:
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