Advice for the beginning meditator…
So I have been meditating for 15 minutes, every morning for the past 5 days. I have learned several important lessons during this time and have done some research into the practice itself (Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana).
I have addressed some posture issues with the help of meditation seat. And today for the first time, my 15 minute timer began to stir before I did.
I am amazed by the concentration it takes to focus on nothing. Today in the shower I attempted to be mindful of only my actions during my shower…I had limited success.
What is this strange world I am entering where Thought and Concentration are completely redefined?
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“In Vipassana you have to be just aware of your breath. A simple rule is that no matter what you do, no matter in whichever action you indulged in – just be aware of your breathing process. Be watchful of breath as it comes inside your body and goes outside. Don’t try to control your breath. Vipassana is not ‘Pranayam ( the yogic exercise in which one control various movements of breath). If your breath is deep let it be, if it is shallow let it be. Just let your breathing in its natural rhythm.
Understand this by this analogy: Just imagine that a river is flowing. Now the flow of the river may be fast or slow. What you have to do is to sit on its bank Just watch the river as it flows. Don’t try to create ripples in it. Don’t do anything that affects its flow. Just be a watcher. This river is your breath. The breathing process is going on. Just be a watcher of this process. Slowly slowly as you watch your breathing, your mind will start calming own. You will see that all thoughts are disappearing on their own. Eventually as you keep practicing, such moment will start coming when you see that everything has come to a standstill. There will be no thoughts, there will be no emotions. However, there will be full awareness. The state of choiceless awareness. In this state you will know the real you. ”
– Buddha’s technique!
@tigerturban, Have you ever done a Vipassana? If so, you would know that Vipassana is not the technique of being aware of the breath. Yes, that is the introduction, what you learn in the first 3 days, but Vipassana, which means ‘seeing things as they are’, is a technique that focusses on, well, seeing things as they are. It is not about the breath, it is about the whole body, observing all the sensations objectively, without judgement, without expectations.
If you are quoting something, know your sources mate.
(3) Watching the Breathing like a river :
This is the third method of Vipassana. The main thing to focus upon in this meditation technique is the breath itself. This method is the most basic form of Vipassana. You have to watch your breath as it comes inside your body and then goes outside.
Just like the above two methods, find a comfortable, peaceful place. Sit their silently in a comfortable position. Now close your eyes and take some deep breath. Now start observing your breathing. Focus your entire attention on the breathing and follow it as it travels inside your body and comes out. Follow the breath in its entire route pf inhalation and exhalation. Watch the breath as if you are watching a river.
A river is flowing and you are sitting on its bank. You are watching the water as it flows in the river. However, you are just a watcher. You are not concerned with the speed of the flow. Neither your are concerned with the quality of water or whether it has ripple in it or not. You are just watching the river without involving yourself in the flow.
Similarly, just watch your breath as it moves in your body. Don’t be attached with it.
When it comes – watch it.
When it goes – Watch it.
Be a watcher, be a witness.
This is not easy. There will be distractions as you watch. .There will be floods of thoughts. You will be carry away by different kind of thoughts. But don’t get discouraged. If your attention is diverted 100 times, bring it back to breathing 100 times. Slowly all thoughts will start settling down. As you watch your breath, soon you will realize the witness in you. The one who is watching the watcher itself. Your true identity. You are not body, you are not mind, you are not breathing. You are -self. The knower who knows everything. Yet remains pure and unattached.
Watch your breathing. Keep watching and you will be in meditation.
In all the above three methods a little bit of perseverance is required. However, if you practice them sincerely, then these three methods may be your best friends in this highly demanding and stressful life. All the above three meditation can be done anywhere, anytime in any posture. Just give them a serious and genuine try at least for 15 days and watch the result.
@josephm, Let us learn What is not Meditation
Before knowing anything about meditation, it is important to familiarize ourselves with all those practices and beliefs which are often considered as meditation but are NOT meditation.
(1) Meditation is NOT Concentration
A big MISCONCEPTION : Meditation is just one form of concentration.
When you concentrate, you constantly project your attention towards a particular task or activity whereas in Meditation you do not project your attention towards a particular task or activities. You just remain aware of the moment without choosing anything to concentrate upon. Concentration is important for learning meditation. It will greatly help you (particularly in the initial phase) in learning mediation. However, it is not Meditation
(2) Meditation is NOT Relaxation.
What does relaxation do ?
It relaxes you, makes you calm, gives a sense of serenity and rejuvenates you.
Meditation also makes you relaxed.
But Meditation is not Relaxation
When you meditate……. its natural outcome is relaxation.
(3) Meditation is NOT a serious religious practice
Meditation is not a specific ritual demanding sitting in a particular posture, chanting some specific Mantras (powerful words having phonetic significance) or burning incense. Neither it means doing a particular exercise in a particular pose. Meditation is a quality of our existence. When you are aware of your true ‘self’ and perform anything (yes I mean anything ) with awareness, it becomes meditation
[Please don't feel confused by the word 'self'. Very soon you'll be introduced to this self.]
It is true that it takes some time to learn Meditation and it requires some genuine effort on the part of seeker to learn meditation, but it does not mean that Meditation is connected with any specific religion or ritual. Anybody, irrespective of his background, religion, caste, creed or nationality can do it. Meditation is not even a serious thing. One you understand it, it will be a pure fun to meditate.
(4) Meditation is NOT a state of mind.
Rather – It is a state of no mind.
Many gadgets are available in the market that promise to take us into a meditative state (often known as the alpha state of mind). Scientists have observed that there are basically 4 states of mind depending upon the frequency of mind waves. These states are alpha, beta, gamma and theta. Beta is the state in which we live and perform all our day-to-day activities. Alpha is the state just below Beta. This (alpha) state is often known as the state of Meditation. Gamma and Theta are the other states of mind in further depth.
Now what all these scientific Gadgets can do is to take us into the state of alpha. In the alpha state one become still, tranquil and calm. There is no tension, no stress. Your whole inner being becomes peaceful.
But please note that alpha state itself is not meditation. Alpha is the state of mind in meditation. Meditation is the awareness of our true self in alpha.
You will be in meditation if you remain awaken and aware of the present moment in the alpha state of mind i.e. in the state of absolute calm. No Gadget or mechanical device can create ‘awareness’. They can only create right condition for us to realize what is ‘true awareness’.
(5) Meditation is NOT self-hypnosis
In both Self-hypnosis and (in many techniques of ) meditation at least an initial period of concentration on an object is required. However in meditation, the meditator maintains an awareness of here-and-now and stay conscious of the meditative process which is not exactly the case in hypnosis. In hypnosis the person enters into a state of semi-conscious trance and become unaware of the moment which is not the case in meditation.
(6) Meditation is NOT thinking
Rather it is the process of transcending the thought process. Our mind is a non-stop chatterbox that continues to create all sorts of good/ bad, relevant /irrelevant thoughts incessantly. In meditation we realize that we are not just our body and mind. There exists in us an awareness independent of all kinds of thoughts. Knowing this awareness is what meditation is all about.
From a meditator’s point of view the saying of Descartes –
“I think, therefore I am” is not true.
A meditator will say – ” I am, therefore I think”
Lets summarize of all that we have learnt :
A SERIOUS RELIGIOUS PRACTICE
A STATE OF MIND.