Well here's one for you.
I have to admit that I have jumped around when it comes to meditation methods, objects, techniques, etc. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I've even battled with the question of whether meditation is of any importance at all, or practical for a householder. Ultimately I've decided that it is, at least for me, but which one? Vipassana, samatha, Metta?
But even within any of those techniques there are a myriad of approaches. Focus on the breath - but where? Part of the breath or the whole of it? Make a mental note of sensations - but how vigorously, and what labels to use? Start with metta to yourself or...
Of course the answer to these questions is "ask your teacher." And the usual advise in terms of which technique to use is to stick with one - keep working on it. Don't keep changing techniques. Which is good advice, especially if you're just starting.
But the more I practice the more I can't help but wonder "Does it even matter?"
I don't mean to discourage anybody from whatever technique they are doing, but I myself am getting to a point where it seems like my mind is going to do it's thing, and the less I interfere the better. Insofar as the "effects" of my meditation, I generally notice that the only constant is really more=better. Meaning more time spent on the cushion and more consistency seem to be the key factors - not the technique.
When I first began to realize this I thought that maybe it was some influence remaining from my earlier days doing Zen, which tends to put less emphasis on "doing." But on further reflection it has a lot to do with the Suttas, since the Buddha tends to describe jhana as a result of things like sila and restraint and such, rather than any particular technique. When the Buddha describes the life of a monk going forth - he starts by describing their leaving the household, shaving their heads, practicing virtue, sense-restraint, and so forth, then sitting under a tree, attaining jhana, going through the higher jhanas, attaining the knowledges and becoming an arahant.
In particular the tells us that you don't have to do anything to attain jhana. It just happens when the conditions are right - conditions over which we do have influence - starting from virtue. And to me, meditation is sila. It is kind of hard to break the precepts when you're just sitting there.
I'm not advocating a particular position here or telling people to drop technique - especially when just starting. I just feel like we often need to be told what to *do* when we sit becuase we are so used to *doing* and this is where meditation techniques may be useful. Curious what other's thoughts are on this.