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Practical question: I can count 10 breaths. So what??

zenguitarzenguitar Bad BuddhistNew England Veteran

Hi Sangha, in my breath meditation I've reached the point where I can count 10 breaths without too much problem. Actually I can count much higher if I try. This may sound like boasting except for one thing: I still experience plenty of negative emotions in my daily life. Anxiety, irritability, and greed are major stars on the stage of my daily consciousness, also ignorance and delusion must be lurking in the wings somewhere as well. I can be perfectly mindful and serene for a period of several hours, dealing admirably with coworkers and other people, but then some silly event (e.g. inability to find a parking spot, some criticism from a close relation) can set my mind off into spasms of vexation that destroy my mindfulness and take hours to die down. I thought I was getting over this!

So I'm wondering, when do the benefits of meditation actually begin to trickle down into daily life? :smile:

Comments

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    when you stop expecting them to do so ;)
    Meditation isn't magic in that way. Just doing meditation doesn't suddenly make life easier to deal with, or make difficult people easier to work with. Bring meditation into your life in other ways. When you feel yourself getting upset, take a minute or two and practice your breathing meditation. Collect yourself before your mind runs away. It's possible to leash it before it gets out the door like an untrained dog.

    I've been meditating daily for almost 4 years now. Sometimes it's shorter, sometimes it's an hour. Sometimes I meditate several times a day. It has helped immensely. But I still have my moments, and I am most certainly not perfectly mindful all day. My goal isn't to stop my mind from doing what it does. But to change it's habitual patterns of reaction and attachment and aversion. The meditation helps you to be able to practice. It doesn't solve all the problems for you.

    zenguitarBunks
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    When you stop worrying what comes after 8......

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The point ISN'T the counting. Is it?

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    I can count 10 breaths without too much problem.
    when do the benefits of meditation actually begin to trickle down

    When the problems become the benefits... or vice versa ... I forget. :)

    zenguitar
  • You will always experience emotions in the same way you will always breathe or grow hair, until you die. I think the point of meditation is to accept this.
    silverDhammaDragon
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    edited February 2015

    @zenguitar said:
    Hi Sangha, in my breath meditation I've reached the point where I can count 10 breaths without too much problem. Actually I can count much higher if I try. This may sound like boasting except for one thing: I still experience plenty of negative emotions in my daily life. Anxiety, irritability, and greed are major stars on the stage of my daily consciousness, also ignorance and delusion must be lurking in the wings somewhere as well. I can be perfectly mindful and serene for a period of several hours, dealing admirably with coworkers and other people, but then some silly event (e.g. inability to find a parking spot, some criticism from a close relation) can set my mind off into spasms of vexation that destroy my mindfulness and take hours to die down. I thought I was getting over this!

    So I'm wondering, when do the benefits of meditation actually begin to trickle down into daily life? :smile:

    Time to go deeper. Read the anapanasati sutta. Now it is time to step over the threshhold to the temple.

    "[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

    That is the first step. Calming your breath, heartbeat etc.

    Then

    "[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

    Notice the good feelings in the body. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Continue breathing and calming also the mental fabrications.

    Thats your nest step i guess. There are a lot of steps. :).

    Read more here and ask if it is not clear.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

    The effects start showing when you implement them in your life.
    Mindfullness is the key to understanding the dependent origination.

    Then you will know how to get results in your life.

    /Victor

    zenguitar
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @Victorious sayd: "Mindfullness is the key to understanding the dependent origination." For some reason lately - noticed you have these sound bites that grab my attention...I'd say yes. For me, I know I can easily practice mindfulness most of the day and don't feel bad if I can't settle down to actual meditating. Mine is a very deep, dark place filled with repressed thoughts & feelings of all kinds, and I feel 'successful' in my practices because heck - if I can notice the small daily changes and shifts in attitude towards this rotten stuff inside, and how I deal with everyday frustrations, I figure by quantity alone, I am a smashing success.

    nakazcid
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @federica said:
    The point ISN'T the counting. Is it?

    Oh, I thought it was a contest. "I can count higher than you!" :lol:

    Jeffreylobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Seriously?
    I'd stop counting if I were you, and merely rest in calm silent abiding.
    Because while the "noise" of counting fills your mind, clarity and Emptiness find it hard to be Present.

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @federica said:
    Seriously?

    No. :smile: This is why we have these cute emojis. :sunglasses: : But thank you for the advice.

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @how said:
    I would suggest moving your breathing exercise from the mentality of your breath counting, over to an awareness of what you **physically feel of each breath **
    while giving any accompanying counting as light an emphasis is you can

    Thanks, I think I tried that, but I didn't like the way my breath felt going in and out, as odd as that might sound. Or perhaps I thought it was too boring and static. But I guess I just have to roll up my sleeves and slog through it... :smile:

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    That's the point I was trying to make; if you're counting - you're not meditating. You're counting.

    • It may be a good time to try experimenting with other methods, and examine different ways of "Brining the Mind Home."

    As I mentioned in another post, meditation is 'Minding the Gap'.

    That initially almost-imperceptible silent nano-second which floats between the end of one train of thinking, and the next....that's the 'gap' to widen.
    create more space within your thoughts. Don't hook your wagon to the towbar of the departing thought... let it go, and merely abide in the stillness of a calm mind.

    zenguitar
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @federica, thanks, though I notice that between the "3" and the "4" of my counting, say, there does seem to be a wide and peaceful gap, almost completely devoid of thought. It's one that I look forward to experiencing when I sit down to meditate. But, darnit, as soon as I stop meditating, I am back to my greedy, irritable, anxious way of thinking again :smile:

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @zenguitar: Then that peaceful gap between the 3 and 4 is your target...look forward to more spots like that, and expanding them. Soon, you'll be doing the mindfulness thing much of the day when you're not meditating. Ha ha, like I'm some expert! ;)

    zenguitarlobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @zenguitar said: .... I notice that between the "3" and the "4" of my counting, say, there does seem to be a wide and peaceful gap, almost completely devoid of thought. ...... as soon as I stop meditating, I am back to my greedy, irritable, anxious way of thinking again....

    Then the meditation is not the issue.
    Your Volition, Effort, Intention and Concentration are the issues.
    Meditation is a way of Bringing the Mind Home - but its not the ONLY way.
    Much of what happens around you, and how you perceive it and react to it, are down to your own Mindfulness and skilfulness.
    You can't bake a cake and only use eggs.
    Other ingredients go to making the perfect Victoria sponge.

    And you have to put in the elbow grease, too.....

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @zenguitar said: > So I'm wondering, when do the benefits of meditation actually begin to trickle down into daily life? :smile:

    There's a short answer and a long answer, to be honest I currently don't have the energy for the long answer.

    You are ready to drop the counting, so drop it.

    Keep meditating, but make sure you are doing it right, get some instruction and/or spend time with more experienced meditators.

    zenguitarlobster
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @federica said:
    Other ingredients go to making the perfect Victoria sponge.

    Okay, I am going to have to hit Wikipedia to find out what that is.. :smile:

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 2015

    OP, I've never heard of counting the breath. What's the point? Just focus on the breath in order to reach a place of calm. Then see what comes up. See what your psyche delivers to you. Work with that.

    You get angry when you can't find a parking space? You're giving the parking lots too much power over your life. The next time you find this happening is when you should start breathing. Take slow, deep breaths, and pay attention as you slowly, deeply breathe in, and as you gradually release the breath out. Do that as you look for a parking space. (Innn, ouuttt) Keep doing that until you're parked. See how you feel at that point. Better? It's partly about substituting new mental patterns for old ones that don't work.

    Relatives criticize you? Remember, they're just beings caught up in ego and grasping, too. If their criticisms are valid, do something about your behavior. If they're not valid, bear in mind that they have issues just like anyone else. If it's chronic behavior, calmly draw boundaries. Or spend less time around them, if that's an option. Solve the problem, don't stew about it. And breathe. Observe your own reaction; is the person pushing a button inside you? What's that button about? Ah, a good topic for your next meditation session! =)

    P.S. The fact that you're now noticing what sets you off, and are observing what that does to you, is progress. That is a sign that meditation is beginning to have an effect. Before meditation, and before Buddhism, you probably were heedlessly getting angry, and it didn't seem unusual. Now you're noticing and deciding these responses are unskillful and undesirable. You're moving in the right direction.

    silverzenguitar
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran

    @silver said:
    Victorious sayd: "Mindfullness is the key to understanding the dependent origination." For some reason lately - noticed you have these sound bites that grab my attention...I'd say yes. For me, I know I can easily practice mindfulness most of the day and don't feel bad if I can't settle down to actual meditating. Mine is a very deep, dark place filled with repressed thoughts & feelings of all kinds, and I feel 'successful' in my practices because heck - if I can notice the small daily changes and shifts in attitude towards this rotten stuff inside, and how I deal with everyday frustrations, I figure by quantity alone, I am a smashing success.

    Very good! Happy for you.

    Pick one feeling. And try to see its root. You will find a value you have made for yourself there. Examine it. Just a tip to get the ball rolling.

    It is helpful to see how the feeling in the body and the mind connect.

    /Victor

    zenguitar
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    As a matter of fact - I just 'had one' - body/mind connection - I was reading a book and something triggered a series of distraught feelings, so I just let the emotions sorta tumble out, and thinking about all the injustices to me and to others, I knew the 'dead end' - bottom line, is to accept the bad stuff. I can only do my best to not let 'the bastahds get me down,' though.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It's always our expectations that get us. We expect people to be a certain way, and get angry when they aren't. We expect to find a parking space, and get upset when we can't. Some things you can decide to do something about, some you can't. But you can let go of having those expectations no matter what. Why drive around looking for parking? Find a spot farther away and park there. Enjoy the walk. Enjoy knowing you saved closer spots for someone who needs them more than you do. Then not only are you not upset, but you are helping yourself and maybe someone else as well. Choose to see people are they are and not how you wish they were. Realize they are how they are due to causes and conditions in their lives. You've made a habit out of reacting in particular ways. Changing habits takes several weeks of focused effort. Pick one thing and work on that. It's pretty hard to change them all at once.

    zenguitar
  • It depends where counting takes you. I count sometimes and sometimes not. Experiment!

    zenguitar
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    @karasti said:
    It's always our expectations that get us.

    This! Except I would I apply this to your expectations of meditation. Approach meditation without any expectations of reaching 10, or making yourself a good Buddhist, and you'll find the experience more rewarding. Dropping such expectations has been very beneficial to my practice ... so far any way.

    Jeffreykarastizenguitar
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran
    When will the benefits of meditation begin to trickle down into your daily life?
    When you're not looking, and as long as it takes you for certain truths to sink in.
    This is a spiritual path of self-development we're talking about.
    You can learn French in three months, but some people have been committed to this path for a lifetime and don't feel further enlightened for that.
    You have to make an internal click, and each person has their own timing.
    You can be enlightened in ten seconds or in thirty years.

    You can't measure your progress for the lack of frustrating feelings arising at frustrating situations which will continue to happen as long as you live.
    You can measure your progress for the amount of self-restraint you put in in not overreacting at those situations, nor letting them get the better of you.

    And as @lobster said above, that takes practice, practice, practice.

    When I studied ballet, we young pupils swooned thinking of the moment in the class when we would dance centerstage.
    But our teachers invariably reminded us that there would always be the barre.
    Hours of barre. Forever.
    Centerstage was the last half hour.
    After hours of sweating on the barre.
    zenguitar
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Whoah, @DhammaDragon - that was heavy with the ring of truth to it. I have things that pop up in my mind more lately - this time, it was the Bible saying about the first shall be last and the last shall be first...I think maybe it has something to do with kamma as well.....? I just get these thoughts that flit into my mind- may be something ... or not.

  • And as @lobster said above, that takes practice, practice, practice.

    Thanks for quoting me when I did not say anything . . . ;)
    . . . You can count on me . . . :p

    Basically the advice you have been given by others is awesome. You should find your solution in there . . .

    Awareness of calm, between the counting is very much the difference between focus and 'mindfulness without objects'. Counting or arisings in being are objects of 'just being'.

    Now about the negative or conflictive emotions . . . and when do we become 'my little pony and the Perfect Unicorn/Buddha' . . . m m m . . . I have not been wondering about the same question.

    You sound on course. Practice, practice, practice as mentioned (allegedly). <3

  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    @zenguitar said:
    Hi Sangha, in my breath meditation I've reached the point where I can count 10 breaths without too much problem. Actually I can count much higher if I try. This may sound like boasting except for one thing: I still experience plenty of negative emotions in my daily life. Anxiety, irritability, and greed are major stars on the stage of my daily consciousness, also ignorance and delusion must be lurking in the wings somewhere as well. I can be perfectly mindful and serene for a period of several hours, dealing admirably with coworkers and other people, but then some silly event (e.g. inability to find a parking spot, some criticism from a close relation) can set my mind off into spasms of vexation that destroy my mindfulness and take hours to die down. I thought I was getting over this!

    So I'm wondering, when do the benefits of meditation actually begin to trickle down into daily life? :smile:

    Being mindful is not exclusive to being set off into spasms of vexation. Being mindful does not exclusively mean you are experiencing only positive experiences. That is called being happy or calm or at peace, not 'mindful' per se.

    One can be mindful during a vexation attack :) That's the point, I think. And continue to be mindful during the hours it takes for the vexation to die down.

    I wonder if you are defining 'mindfulness' as a pleasant sensation (peaceful, happy state of mind)?

    Mindfulness is much, much 'bigger' than feeling peaceful and balanced. Mindfulness is an action you deliberately take DURING peaceful happy times as well as sharty ones like vexation and anger. Mindfulness is something you DO, rather than passively experience.

    lobsterJeffreyDhammaDragonzenguitar
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    "So I'm wondering, when do the benefits of meditation actually begin to trickle down into daily life?"

    Perhaps it already has but you are too busy to notice....How long did it take you to quieten the disturbed mind before you started practicing meditation ? "Practice makes perfect" @zenguitar

    DhammaDragon
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    How long do you meditate? In addition to trying a different type of meditation, perhaps it is time to add more meditation time (if you haven't been already). Meditation shouldn't be a slog, but maybe it's a good idea to investigate why you dislike the sensation of something as natural as breathing. I find it quite fascinating to focus on my body when I choose to include that in my meditation. When I meditate, my heart rate drops to about 53 bpm. Not too bad for a 40 year old lady considering my athlete son's resting HR is about 48.

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran
    Oh, @lobster, I know you mentioned "practice" somewhere because I gave you an insightful or awesome at the time.
    If it was not on this thread, where would that be?
    I'm on the phone, so I can't access comments...
    Okay, let's say that for the time being it was "ben trovato." :o
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran
    I found it! It was in the thread "Being patient with impatience."
  • @Shoshin said:
    "So I'm wondering, when do the benefits of meditation actually begin to trickle down into daily life?"

    Perhaps it already has but you are too busy to notice....

    Yup, I think so. OP, it doesn't all happen in a sudden =whoosh=, and your life starts falling into place, or you suddenly feel more equanimity. It can sneak up on you imperceptibly. :D 6 months to a year later, you may notice, "hey, I'm not as uptight as I used to be", or whatever. Or maybe you find yourself getting bored with your friends, and you need to find company that's more mellow, or more goal-oriented, or something.

    Give it time, grasshopper.

    zenguitarJeffreyShoshin
  • My first Zen meditation teacher, Rev Young, used to say, "The hard work starts when you leave the meditation hall."

    And Master Seung used to say, "Achieving clear mind is easy. It's keeping clear mind always and in every situation that is hard."

    How many times did you fall down learning to ride a bike?

    zenguitarJeffreymisecmisc1
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    Thanks everyone, this seems like good advice. I will work on this. I guess I am being too impatient. :smile:

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Or as our Parish Priest used to say,
    "dear God, please grant me patience - but for Christ's sake, hurry up...!"

    lobsterzenguitarJeffreyShoshin
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