Monday, March 27, 2017

The gradual path

I thought I'd jot down some of things I've encountered on the gradual path of mind training. This is probably why most people don't bother...

Practice daily
Observe the body (repeat)
Observe the senses (repeat)
Practice eating
Practice listening
Observe sounds
Notice pain
Notice pleasure
Observe moods
Observe thoughts
Bare attention
Clear comprehension
Observe the breath
Notice tension
Notice relaxation
The relaxation moment
The in breath
The out breath
The resting moment
Notice the whole body
Relax the whole body
Allow pleasure
Notice wanting
Notice anger
Notice anxiety
Notice doubt
Notice weariness
Thoughts are not you
Behind thinking
The observing mind
Observe patterns
Observe reactivity
Accepting you don't know
Going deeper
Wandering mind
Mental proliferation
Calming the body
Calming the mind
Notice (5 elements)
Notice (32 body parts)
Notice initial attention
Notice sustained attention
Notice pleasure
Notice bliss
Notice unified mind
Notice hatred
Notice love
Notice greed
Notice delusion (circular thinking)
Be happy
Be calm
Be good
Be generous
Be forgiving
Move on to wisdom
Thoughts are not truth
Notice (5 aggregates)
Accepting things as they are
Let go
Surrender
Arising and passing away
Grief
Dispassion
Cessation
Freedom
Notice 6 senses
The first noble truth
The second truth
Third truth
Four truth
The three doors
Expand your mind
Noble silence
Infinite space
Infinite mind
Nothingness
Neither perception or not
Sustained cessation
The mind is everything
Observing the formation of mind
Freedom from mind
Resting in sublime equanimity
Connectedness

Saturday, March 25, 2017

You are not your thoughts

That's it really. Have a thought, let it go. Where do they come from? Well, that's where it gets interesting. We are all in this soup. Who is in your bowl?

Anyway, take a step back and breathe. Then you will know what to do.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Focus on the space


Notice the body and forms
Then notice the space

Don't get too excited about it. Just know that it is there.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Still meditating

Calm
Breathe in,
Pause,
Breathe out,
Rest in the gap,

....

Breathe in,
Pause,
Breathe out,
Relax,
Rest in the gap,

Slowly, slowly, slowly
I yield

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A month of meditation

Here's what I'm going to be doing over the next month in the spirit of meditation training. Generally I'll be following this typical meditation sequence every day:

- Scan through the body, relaxing muscles, breathing into tension
- Get the body relaxed and establish awareness of the whole body
- Breathe into the whole body - this is very refreshing
- Join the body, mind and breath together - this means I feel the breath and body in my mind - I'm not thinking about anything else
- Once I've reached this point I feel like I've cleaned out the rubbish and I can relax into the next bit
- If I'm still a bit jazzed, I'll do four elements or body parts for a few cycles
- Next I'll switch to mindfulness of breathing - watching the breath come in and go out again. Just a simple practice
- I'll maybe count my breaths just to ensure I'm not deluding myself  - 1 to 10 then back down again
- I'll do this until it is time to do something else

Also during this period I'll be doing a day long meditation retreat and maintain a regular practice with a sitting group. I'll also be working on everyday mindfulness of movement and changes to postures. I'll do mindfulness of vedana, mind states and acknowledge any other things that may come up/

After I've done all that, I'll tell you about jhanas before doing more detailed insight practice. Then when we get through all that you'll be telling me what to do.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

When meditation becomes training and a discipline

If you've been following what I've been doing this year, you'll know that I've restarted meditation practice from scratch and am working through all the various techiques that have brought some relief from the difficult thing that is me. So far I've been doing practices related to the body.

So, now we come to the point in our lives where we ask ourselves - is meditation just something I do to relax or is it something that I want to take seriously?

Ask yourself that question. Then ask yourself: does your life feel shit?

If it does then your mind is in the wrong place and you can benefit from meditation practice (or you can spend a few years doing therapy). Ultimately, you will find that the change only happens from within yourself and learning to meditate will show you how.

Anyway, let's say you've been doing some meditation for the last month or so. If I was a meditation teacher I'd now be telling you to keep sitting every day no matter what - meditation is a training and an art. It requires skill and practice to be able to see what is going on.

So this is what you must do: practice every day. Not every other day. Every single day. Even 10 minutes is enough to connect to the breath and allow the mind to relax a little bit.

If you're good with 10 minutes, move up to 20 minutes, then 30 minutes. Keeping adding time until you get to an hour or two. This is where you will learn what it is to meditate. You will realise mindfulness, knowing and calmness. You will know the difference between body and mind. You will experience the quieting of thoughts. This is what you must do to be able to move forward into the deeper aspects of the mind.

So I'll resume meditation instructions in a few weeks once I've done some proper sitting. None of that guided meditation stuff - just sit.

No short cuts. Give yourself a mind detox. Do it once and you'll never be the same again. You'll also know what I'm talking about which will be quite useful. I'm sure most of you don't....

Monday, February 20, 2017

Four elements meditation

In case you are wondering, I'm going through a progressive set of meditation instructions in a number of different posts that take you to the very essence of your own mind and being. I'm doing the exercises as I go along so it's kind of in real time. We've started with some body meditation and some ideas about mindfulness.

Now we move forward to start investigating the interface between mind, body and concepts (especially in relation to compactness which I will explain later). The launch pad for this type of  investigation is the four elements - earth, wind, fire and water - but let's not get hung about these labels. This meditation is derived from Buddhist meditation practices that were devised thousands of years ago when they hadn't discovered electricity and they hadn't figured out what a quark was - but they did have fire, earth, water and wind. In essence, this practice is nothing to with these elements - it's just a way of looking at experience that is different to the way we normally look at things. It's about seeing how the functioning of the body is an impersonal flow of information and how we project concepts on top of this flow.

It's highly useful because it helps with the discipline of mindfulness.

So:

- Begin by focusing on the breath. Breathe in and out.

- Establish the knowing faculty of the mind - you know something if you can label it. Know breathing in, breathing out, and the pause in between,

- Now, know pushing as you breathe in. Feel the breath pushing the rub cage apart and pressing against the diaphragm. This is the air in the atmosphere pushing into you.

- Next, know supporting. This is your muscles keeping your body together and in a certain posture.

- Know softness - the belly, your lips, relaxed muscles.

-  Know hardness - your teeth and bones. The hard floor. Feel them from within.

- Know heaviness. Feel gravity pulling you down. Feel the heaviness in your body.

- Know lightness. There's always some space in the body that is light and wispy.

- Know roughness. Clothes against your skin.

- Know smoothness. This would be silk on your skin, or a polished nail, or a smooth tooth.

- Know hot - warmth in the belly, the out breath on the lip.

- Know cold - fingertips, toes, the in breath on the lip

- Know flowing - the liquid mucus in the mouth, the blood in your body

- The last one is a bit tricky. Know cohesion. This is basically the fluid (water) that is everywhere in your body keeping it juicy and pliable.

And that's it. Keep cycling through the list and take a mental note of each characteristic. Do it as you move around. Notice how these things come and go, and shift about. Notice how external events influence these features of your bodily experience.

If you want to go a bit further, ask yourself something like: what is heat? How do I know heat? What sensations make me think heat is happening? How am I constructing the heat experience?

This is where we are ultimately headed but before we go there, we'll explore bliss and jhanas. It's an interesting but useful diversion.