Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Beginner (still) at meditating

ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

When I sit, I have a very difficult time emptying my mind, even when I am not actively thinking of something, there is a song that is playing in my head. Is the goal to eliminate everything? Or is the music alright?

«1

Comments

  • @ajhayes said:
    When I sit, I have a very difficult time emptying my mind, even when I am not actively thinking of something, there is a song that is playing in my head. Is the goal to eliminate everything? Or is the music alright?

    Well, try and get rid of that song in your head and see what happens! It's going nowhere until it goes, and it won't be you doing the going. Everything that arises in meditation is ok. The practice is to create space between what arises and you observing what is arising. This way you can allow whatever arises to come and go without becoming involved in what arises.

    ajhayeslobsterdukkha
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Outstanding advice so far guys.
    Mind ... so much in it ...

    How do we fill the mind with emptiness? How do we sing silence?

  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @ajhayes said:
    When I sit, I have a very difficult time emptying my mind, even when I am not actively thinking of something, there is a song that is playing in my head. Is the goal to eliminate everything? Or is the music alright?

    I would say that the goal of mindfulness is to be aware of what is happening at all times and not getting caught up in them. You are not trying to get rid of anything but only to recognize the impermanent, selfless nature of all (conditioned) things.

    lobsterJackiepope123dukkha
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Very good advice from @genkaku and @how as to be expected from their long experience (or since their last session if being a zennith) however @Shoshin advice is particularly apt. It deals with perhaps the oldest, simplest and for many the best practice.

    Breath awareness.

    The first stage is non constipated attention on the breath. No-straining will allow you to become aware of your songs, singing, clutter, barrel of monkeys 'mind'. It is a zoo. All the animals are in one cage. Ay curumba!

    Stage two the 'mind animals' relax. Some leave the cage and find they are in an enclosure ...

    Natural thought is the observing of all our arising/existing and departing data.
    Deliberate thought is any deliberate manipulation of that data.

    Even though @how is not advocating it, I am a great believer in mind manipulation. The simple reason; we are in the cage and the carnivore animals are hungry. If we just wait we might end up devoured by our fears, ferocity, foibles or fantasies.

    This is why 'empty your mind' is a great deliberate active meditation, doomed to failure but we sometimes learn more from emptying than forming empty opinions on what meditation is and is not ...

    Bravo for getting started and sharing B)

    ajhayesJackiepope123silverdukkha
  • ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

    @lobster I've been doing this about a year. ;) still a beginner.

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

    @johnmac -- Be a little careful there.

  • namarupanamarupa Veteran
    edited May 2016

    The monkey mind or our thoughts, our body, our environment, are some of the things that we consciously or perhaps unconsciously monitor. When we stop monitoring the monkey mind thats when it starts to run rampant. If it does that under our watch, its fine cause we can always bring it back.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @ajhayes said:
    When I sit, I have a very difficult time emptying my mind, even when I am not actively thinking of something, there is a song that is playing in my head. Is the goal to eliminate everything? Or is the music alright?

    It might take some time for the mind to calm, but when it does you can see what's going on more clearly. So tranquillity is the basis for insight. Allow thoughts and songs to be, they are just objects in the mind and eventually they will pass. Just keep gently returning to the breath. Be patient and gentle with yourself.

    lobsterajhayesdukkha
  • @genkaku Try not to get side-tracked by achieving anything.

    OK, but if someone isn't meditating correctly and there is no benefit, then that person is very unlikely to maintain a regular practice, I suspect this happens quite often.

    Shoshinlobsterdukkha
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @genkaku said:
    @ajhayes -- Try not to get side-tracked by achieving anything.

    is meditation is just a side track ... sure ... very worthwhile and takes time to appreciate ...

    @SpinyNorman said:
    OK, but if someone isn't meditating correctly and there is no benefit, then that person is very unlikely to maintain a regular practice, I suspect this happens quite often.

    Indeed. It is why the titillation and titivation of tantra, nichiren and pureland mantrayana and the health benefits of prostration practices etc. prior to our 'just sit' are skilful 'confidence in the practice' builders. Just sit is often too simple for the monkey mind. It requires convoluted practices, rewards, distractions.

    Poor monkey.

    howdukkha
  • howhow Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @genkaku Try not to get side-tracked by achieving anything.

    OK, but if someone isn't meditating correctly and there is no benefit, then that person is very unlikely to maintain a regular practice, I suspect this happens quite often.

    Oh god!...
    What is meditating correctly?
    Would you judge a meditation as correct or otherwise, just because someone maintains it regularly?
    What about a meditation that allows one to sit without any challenges to our own ignorance. I bet folks could do that kind of practice for a very long time.
    Oh wait..
    I think that's called TV.

    There are a vast array of reasons why folks don't maintain a practice. Too boring/ too stimulating/ too painful/ too time consuming/ too off mainstream/ too challenging/
    / too repetitive/ too scary/ too religious/ too mind numbing/too uncomfortable/ too threatening/toooooooooo.........

    lobstersilverdukkha
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @how said:

    There are a vast array of reasons why folks don't maintain a practice. Too boring/ too stimulating/ too painful/ too time consuming/ too off mainstream/ too challenging/
    / too repetitive/ too scary/ too religious/ too mind numbing/too uncomfortable/ too threatening/toooooooooo.........

    Tee Hee.
    So much reasoning away.
    My favourite 'practice maintenance reason' is equally reasonable.
    I sits because 'no plan' is situational. That sits well.

    @genkaku said:
    Think of whatever is stuck in your mind as bubblegum on the sole of your shoe in summer. Keep on walking and it has a way of disappearing all by itself. Just count the breaths (or whatever your practice may be) and see what happens.

    That sounds like a plan.
    Chew and use 'mind gum' as ones cushion adherence. Practice as ones gumless state ...

    Soon we won't need an excuse, plan or gum ...

    We might still sit of course ... B)

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @ajhayes said:
    Is the goal to eliminate everything? Or is the music alright?

    <3
    Tee hee. Such a good question for us regular formal sitters.
    Where does the sitter go? To the arisings, mind gum, music, breath, posture ... you know the usual stuffed mind ...

    In the sense you are asking this question, the answer is yes we are allowing the eliminating/dissipation ... but we are a 'being attentive'.

    Relaxed attention. The gum analogy is very good. Keep going - do not blow bubbles but be attentive to the emptiness behind gum blown ...

    Hope that is helpful <3

    ajhayes
  • @how said:> Would you judge a meditation as correct or otherwise, just because someone maintains it regularly?

    Of course not, but people who don't manage to maintain a regular practice aren't going to get anywhere.

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

    ^^^^^

    "Not going anywhere" ... how in heaven's name does anyone do that?

    lobsterhow
  • Why bother meditating if it has no effect? What's the point?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @genkaku said:
    ^^^^^
    "Not going anywhere" ... how in heaven's name does anyone do that?

    Tee Hee.
    In many ways the effects or mind waves do not mean the ocean is apart from the drops. The mind, speaking for myself is always wandering, waving, wavering and wondering. That so called 'my mind' has never got me anywhere apart from places ...

    What we need is a good joke.

    Q: How can you tell if a cushion is meditating?
    A: Don't talk to the soft furnishings, they are just present ...

    Yes I made it up :3

    Actually I think I prefer the Buddhist orthodox phrase from the next post (stuff comes and goes just don't attach) which I think should read:
    'stuff comes and goes just don't scratch'

    [good joke still required] B)

    ajhayesdukkha
  • @ajhayes said:
    When I sit, I have a very difficult time emptying my mind, even when I am not actively thinking of something, there is a song that is playing in my head. Is the goal to eliminate everything? Or is the music alright?

    stuff comes and goes just don't attach

    ajhayes
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited May 2016

    double post

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

    Why bother meditating if it has no effect? What's the point?

    @SpinyNorman -- Confounding questions.
    How could something fail to have an effect? I mean that seriously ... no Buddhist high-jinx.
    I once asked my Zen teacher if Zen were dualistic. "No," he replied. Than I asked him if Zen were monistic. "No," he replied. Then I asked him what Zen was if it was neither dualistic nor monistic. He screwed up his face in search of some words: "Maybe," he replied, "it's sort of a pointless point."
    Dontcha just hate guys who give answers like that? :)

    lobsterdukkha
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    double post

    Well said :3
    Emptiness really is form ... B)

  • @genkaku said:> @SpinyNorman -- Confounding questions.

    So why do you meditate then?

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    http://tricycle.org/magazine/rules-for-a-long-term-relationship/?utm_source=Tricycle&utm_campaign=466fcec0e4-Daily_Dharma_May_18_201605_18_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1641abe55e-466fcec0e4-307236489

    The first rule we should begin with, if we want meditation to be in our life for a long time, is: Don’t make a rigid structure and then chastise ourselves when we don’t live up to it. Better to keep a limber mind and develop a tenderness toward existence.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    If you’ve been practicing for years, you should be seeing some results, If you’re not, you may be missing the point.
    The result of spiritual practice should be our inner transformation into better human beings. After practicing for months or years, we should be less prone to anger, pride, and jealousy. Our practice should lead us to a vaster, calmer mind.
    For example, the whole point of dieting is to lose a few pounds, not to collect knowledge and become an expert on each and every diet. You may have heard about different diets and read many books, but you won’t lose weight unless you put one of them into practice in your everyday life. Similarly, if you do not implement the teachings, your destructive emotions and self clinging will not diminish, and the Dharma instructions will be of no use to you, no matter how many you recieve.

    ~ Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche

    WalkerlobsterSpinyNormandukkha
  • "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" :p

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Natural thought is the observing of all our arising/existing and departing data.
    Deliberate thought is any deliberate manipulation of that data.

    ... coming back to the idea of right concentration which is deliberate focus on the breath, mantra, posture, walking, mindful sadhana and the natural letting go into awareness, which is the meditative part.

    We are not trying to strain or strain (empty) our arisings prematurely. In a sense focus refines or stills our mind porridge. Remember the three bears 'dharma' of the Goldilocks principle where a gentle balance is possible ... just right ... ;)

  • Natural thought is not the observing of all our arising/existing and departing data but the natural arising of data from various causes and conditions.

    The observer(subject) is not thought(object).

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    ^^^ Very subtle different approach/wording but notice how the 'natural approach' allows arisings as natural but does not get caught up with their passing through ...

    It might sound very undisciplined and relaxed to the point of 'mind meandering'. In fact it is attentive.

    Very well said @pegembara.

    Gosh ... it is like 'grasping' with an open hand ... :3

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Great quote from @SpinyNorman, reminds me of some of the best forms of Taoist thinking. This idea of 'passivity to phenomena' is often mistaken as having no effect. I would suggest quite the reverse. However that for most of us comes late in the game.

    Us lesser meditators are still attached to the wondrous animals (side effects of meditation) rather than the still pool. What so many have suggested is not to manipulate, cling or encourage the benefits but be attentive to the still pool.

    OM MANI PEME HUM as the wonderous animal said to its reflection in the stillness ...

  • With stillness there is clarity.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    ^^^ Exactly so. Well said.

    I am reminded of the Desiderata

  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @pegembara said:
    Natural thought is not the observing of all our arising/existing and departing data but the natural arising of data from various causes and conditions.

    The observer(subject) is not thought(object).

    My posting repeatedly highlighted the words natural & deliberate when speaking about thoughts within meditation.

    It was only in your removal of that highlighting that the posting changed from about being about meditatively discerning the differences between "natural" and "deliberate" thought
    over to
    defining thought via subject and object.

    Context?

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @ajhayes said:
    @lobster I've been doing this about a year. ;) still a beginner.

    Excellent... a beginner's mind ...let's just hope this doesn't change any time soon :)

  • BarahBarah Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    but people who don't manage to maintain a regular practice aren't going to get anywhere.

    Same goes for those who maintain a regular practice.

    howlobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @Barah said: Same goes for those who maintain a regular practice.

    Please explain. Most Buddhist practices have a specific purpose, eg developing calm or insight. People who don't practice regularly are unlikely to develop those qualities and not likely to "get anywhere".

  • @how said:
    Natural thought is not the observing of all our arising/existing and departing data but the natural arising of data from various causes and conditions.
    Context?

    Natural thoughts to me is a thought that pops up spontaneously. Deliberate thought is not spontaneous but intentionally brought up such as thoughts of loving kindness. They arise and cease.

    Both can be observed. Thinking is not observing. The process is thinking, observing, thinking, observing ......

  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @SpinyNorman
    Please explain. Most Buddhist practices have a specific purpose, eg developing calm or insight. People who don't practice regularly are unlikely to develop those qualities and not likely to "get anywhere".

    Those who maintain a regular practice can often be described as those who aren't going to get anywhere.
    Sometime this is called selflessness or the goal of goalessness or body & mind being one or experiencing non self or..in no need to be anywhere else than right here.
    I'm sure you get the idea.

    .

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @pegembara said:
    The observer(subject) is not thought(object).

    B)

    We might also find observer is a thought object and non-thought does not have a subject.
    This is why Nirvana is not a position or achievable object, it is 'accessible' through the observer or processing its 'nature'. Again these are subtle and experiential nuances.

    With a monkey mind like mine, calm and insight are temporary subjective necessities. Achievable and necessary precursors of a deeper meditation ...

  • @lobster The observer becomes the observed. In the seen just the seen.

    In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

    Bahiya Sutta

    lobster
  • BarahBarah Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @Barah said: Same goes for those who maintain a regular practice.

    Please explain. Most Buddhist practices have a specific purpose, eg developing calm or insight. People who don't practice regularly are unlikely to develop those qualities and not likely to "get anywhere".

    Are you suggesting that being calm or having an insight is impossible without a regular practice? Those are qualities that I knew and experienced long before knowing anything about Buddhist practice. Moreover, most insights that I had during my Buddhist study, did not come as a result of a regular practice.
    I am not negating effects of practice, because everything we do produces effects, I am just doubting that there is a direct link between regular practice and getting "somewhere". I know at least few lifelong practitioners who didn't get anywhere, and I am still looking for someone who reached the destination.
    From my experience, a regular practice is a direct sign of someone getting stuck.

    lobsterpegembara
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Thanks @pegembara for the quote, that equates to my experience. B)

    @Barah said:
    From my experience, a regular practice is a direct sign of someone getting stuck.

    No regular practice is also a stuck behavour.

    Regular meditation can be sticky. Sometimes it may be required by others, for a spot of monkey calming etc.

    My teacher never practiced meditation. However in one sense he was mindful/meditating/enlightened at all times.

    As for not finding someone who reached the destination, one can get stuck on that too ...

    Hope that is helpful. :)

«1
Sign In or Register to comment.