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Newbie: should I just follow my breath or do I get to think about stuff?

tonypatontonypaton New
edited October 2015 in Meditation

I am new to Buddhism but totally in love with it all!

I am new to meditation with only 1 hour of sitting each day. I have read many notes from the Vipassana 10-days. And I have been reading lots elsewhere about meditation....and i have been sitting, trying to faithfully observe thoughts and feelings and just let them move aside.

But every couple of days I get some really juicy stuff coming up from somewhere....for instance a thought that my anger for my enemy is a function of my isolation and if I really understood no-self, "that I inter-am"...that I am one with my enemy, then my conflict would take on a whole new....and on goes the thought.

These feel like deeper moments, and I feel those thoughts are important to my journey. How do I meditate ON something like this, without losing track of the intimacy of my breath?

sova

Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited October 2015

    Hi there @tonypaton - welcome!

    Vipassana is not the only meditation technique available.

    For me meditation is kind of like exercise. To keep it fresh and interesting I like to "cross train" i.e. try different meditation techniques.

    At present I'm enjoying following the Lamrim (Stages of the Path) meditations of both Venerable Thubten Chodron and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

    There are several specific meditations in the Lamrim that encourage us to meditate on the topic you mention in your post above.

    Good luck!

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

    Welcome @tonypaton. Hope you find something useful here.

    It sounds as if you were off to a good start, however uncertain it may be from time to time. There are a hundred answers to your questions, but the most compelling ones will probably arise as you keep on trying. Don't fret too much, just keep on keepin' on and see what happens.

    I personally prefer breath counting -- counting exhalations mentally from one to ten and begin again -- but there are a lot of other practices as well. I like breath counting because it is very even-tempered and devoid of emotional baggage, whether good or bad. Such an approach may sound a bit cold and distant from the juicy delights of life, but rest assured that the juicy stuff is all there ... you won't turn into a plaster saint.

    Take your time. Pay attention. Take responsibility.

    Best wishes.

    lobsterJeffreyInvincible_summer
  • @tonypaton said:

    These feel like deeper moments, and I feel those thoughts are important to my journey. How do I meditate ON something like this, without losing track of the intimacy of my breath?

    Hello <3

    Stuff [a technical term ;)] arises ...

    Good, bad, juicy, 'important', useless, deep, emotive and everywhere including sideways.

    You could perhaps keep a meditation diary to document and reflect on those arisings that seem useful ... or ask your question here:
    http://dhammawheel.com
    or here
    http://www.dharmaoverground.org

    or here even ;)

    :)

    sova
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I find it interesting (though am probably reading too much into it) that you said "Or do I get to think about stuff?" I have been meditating or about 5 years and a Buddhist for 4, so not very long myself. But if one thing drives me crazy it's letting my thinking run amok, monkey brain as they say. Thinking is no longer something I feel I am missing out on or anything like that, which is kind of how I read your title. Don't get me wrong, I still think, lol. But I don't view meditation as something to suffer through or something that takes away something I'd rather be doing (like thinking about stuff). It is what allows me to focus on what I actually need to be dealing with rather than all the random stuff that comes up with an untrained mind.

    I always like the analogy about meditation being like house training a dog. If the dog pees on the floor, he's not a bad dog. Just an untrained dog. Your mind is really no different. If you want it to do something else, you have to train it, and meditation is a great way to do that. As @Bunks said, there are many types of meditation. I am curious how you feel your meditation is going? 1 hour seems like a lot for someone who is brand new. If it's working for you, then great! Just be careful of attaching expectations of particular outcomes to your meditation sessions, or you will get burned out and bored with it quickly when you aren't "getting results" that you are expecting. I had to start with just 5 minutes and work my way up. I still don't meditate an hour a day most days!

    BunksJeffreydantepw
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    You should follow your breath AND you get to think about stuff! Cool, huh?

    And you should post your thoughts and musings on New Buddhist. The meditation and quiet will still be there waiting for you when you get back.

    Welcome.

    lobster
  • I recommend finding an expert to instruct you. I study under Lama Shenpen Hookham.

    https://www.facebook.com/BuddhismConnect?fref=ts

    lobster
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @tonypaton said: These feel like deeper moments, and I feel those thoughts are important to my journey. How do I meditate ON something like this, without losing track of the intimacy of my breath?

    It might be better to do the contemplation as a separate practice, or move onto to it after a period of breathing meditation.

    Earthninjalobster
  • @pegembara said: Imagine you are a ship in open waters. The breath is your anchor and thoughts are the waves. If the anchor is not strong enough, you risk getting carried away by the waves. So make sure your anchor is strong enough first.

    I like the analogy of the breath as an anchor. It means that waves ( thoughts ) aren't a problem unless you are carried away by them. Sometimes the anchor may drag of course.
    Along similar lines I sometimes imagine wading into the sea. If you adopt a balanced and flexible posture you're less likely to get knocked off your feet by the waves as they pass by.

    dantepwKale4Dayz
  • @Bunks said:
    Hi there tonypaton - welcome!

    Vipassana is not the only meditation technique available.

    For me meditation is kind of like exercise. To keep it fresh and interesting I like to "cross train" i.e. try different meditation techniques.

    B) Well said. Vipassana breath counting is of course excellent.

    My favourite book at the moment is 'meditation for dummies'. There is a wonderful talk by Ajahn Brahms in another thread that discusses his approach. Bringing or anchoring on the breath can formally and in mindful resonance bring us back to stilling as @SpinyNorman mentions.

    Always be wary of the tendency of tight assed, disciplined, rigid cushion squashing. Sit attentive, like basking in summer beach sun. If important thoughts drift by, they will remain and you can if required, contemplate and mull over them later ...

    'Important' thoughts, like insights are waves on the shore. No need to give them special attention, nor clouds across the sun or a feeling breezing by ...

    Here be dragons <3

    Earthninja
  • Kale4DayzKale4Dayz California Explorer

    This happens to me too. My approach is to "bookmark" such thoughts before I get carried away by them and continue focusing on meditating. When I finish meditating, I allow my mind to come back to those thoughts and start writing in my journal. That's when the thoughts can flow freely, and I'm able to explore them deeply. I've reached many epiphanies that way.

    Try that and see if it helps!

    lobsterdantepwBunksWalker
  • @Kale4Dayz

    Nice tip, bro :)

  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @tonypaton said:
    But every couple of days I get some really juicy stuff coming up from somewhere....for instance a thought that my anger for my enemy is a function of my isolation and if I really understood no-self, "that I inter-am"...that I am one with my enemy, then my conflict would take on a whole new....and on goes the thought.
    These feel like deeper moments, and I feel those thoughts are important to my journey. How do I meditate ON something like this, without losing track of the intimacy of my breath?

    I'm not an expert, but from what I understand about vipassana is that even though you may have thoughts that fall into line with "Right View" or something "good," you're not to indulge in them any more than other thoughts.

    The fact that you can reflect on these insights off the cushion is good though. I just don't think it's really part of the seated vipassana practice.

    @SpinyNorman said:
    If you adopt a balanced and flexible posture you're less likely to get knocked off your feet by the waves as they pass by.

    To take this more literally, this is why I find the Zen emphasis on posture to be very valuable. Eshu Martin mentioned in a talk (I can't find it right now... it's on his Youtube channel) that the stillness and anchoring in posture should be a reflection of the stillness and anchoring that takes place in your mind as well. No difference between the inner and outer life.

    Plus, I find that the posture used for zazen is a lot better in terms of body mechanics than the "anything goes/slumpy back and neck" stuff that seems to go on in other circles. Much more conducive to not having aches and pains later on.

    lobsterhow
  • In the practice of Vipassana, we are encourage to stay with the breath. Make yourself familiar first on the breath. Don't rush anything. Mindfulness of breathing is the basic and essential component, just be rooted on it, enjoy it, make friend with it. You may wanted to explore receptive awareness afterwards. All the best to your practice and may all beings merits it.

  • NeoNeo Here New

    @tonypaton:

    My personal and simple recommendation for "mindlessness" meditation:

    Set some sort of timer, so that you do not have to think about checking the time while meditating. Clear the mind of all thought...if thought arises simply set it aside without judgment. You will continue this throughout your meditation.

    Start by counting breaths, while otherwise clearing the mind of all thought. This help to calm the mind. When this is effortless, go to next step.

    Then just focus on the breath without counting, while otherwise clearing the mind of all though. This calms the mind further. When this is effortless, go to next step.

    Just continue to meditate, but without focus on anything, keeping the mind clear of all though. When the timer sounds, you are done.

    =================================

    My personal and simple recommendation for meditating ON something:

    Set some sort of timer, so that you do not have to think about checking the time while meditating. Clear the mind of all thought, except for a focus on the thing you are meditating on...if thought arises not related to the object of your meditation, simply set it aside without judgment. You will continue this throughout your meditation.

    Start by counting breaths, while focusing on the object of your meditation and otherwise clearing your mind of all thought. This help to calm the mind. When this is effortless, go to next step.

    Then just focus on the breath without counting, while also focusing on the object of your meditation and otherwise clearing your mind of all thought. This calms the mind further. When this is effortless, go to next step.

    Just continue to meditate, while focusing on the object of your meditation and otherwise clearing your mind of all thought. When the timer sounds, you are done.

    ==================================

    I hope this is helpful.

  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran

    Just observe the thoughts coming and passing away.

  • @rohit said: Just observe the thoughts coming and passing away.

    It's one approach, but would probably be quite difficult for a beginner.

    lobsterInvincible_summer
  • Tee Hee.

    'Not doing' is hard because we 'do meditation'. If we were asked to sit on our favourite beach (far shore for me please) ... no problem ...

    Here is some Bob Bodhi Dharma advice ... I might be in the wrong thread - ah well ...

    I and not-I - Pastafaria
    http://flyingspaghettimonster.wikia.com/wiki/Pastafarianism

    ... and now back to the deep thoughts ...

    dantepwLionduck
  • Spaghetti with meatballs and large side of lasagna for all! <3
    What was that again? We do what we do because we do; we do what we don't because we do; we don't what we don't because we don't and we don't what we do because we don't. o:)
    I haven't a clue where that came from, but what the heck. =)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @pegembara said:
    Imagine you are a ship in open waters. The breath is your anchor and thoughts are the waves. If the anchor is not strong enough, you risk getting carried away by the waves. So make sure your anchor is strong enough first.

    Good advice. B)
    For example yesterday 'sensitivity' came up as of import, worth pursuing at some point - maybe after meditation and breath anchoring or other formal practice ...

    Deep thoughts, even insights, are just the distractions from the breath/awareness/meditation ...

    Deepen the practice, insight is just a by product ... and now back to the open waters ...

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    After a while you can break the anchor chain and really begin to explore...deep waters, big skies.

    lobster
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