For others looking for more good resources on Shamatha, the first half of the book "Calm Abiding and Special Insight" is on Calm Abiding (Shamatha) by Geshe Gedun Lodro, so a source from the Tibetan viewpoint.
Dechen Norbu wrote:It's a habit. We are visually super stimulated, perhaps, so the tendency to visualize nearly everything.
When those images appear, focus on the sensations and not the images. Image appears, shift focus to sensations again and again, without stress. Just focus on the feelings and don't exert too much pressure. Change focus gently. Are you sure you are relaxing properly?
OTOH, why don't you choose a different object? The sensations of the breath are not the best object for everyone. Have you tried? You may choose a visualization, for instance.
By the way, that's a great book. You can always write Alan if you need advice. It may take a while, but I'm sure you'll get an answer.
Hey, thanks. I'm sure I can always relax more before my practice, I'm working on spending more time doing so. I've tried a visual object as my object before, but I don't think that it is for me. Plus I am one of those "discursive types" that they encourage to use the breath as the object! I will try to work on this focus of tactile sensation for now, then maybe try to contact Alan some time later if I'm still struggling with it. I just discovered he is posting podcasts of the current shamatha retreat going on now, how cool!
For those interested: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/spring-2011-shamatha-retreat/id431523153