nice and short
im new to buddhism
i’m trying to practice meditation
im finding it difficult
ive studied into it but am confused as to which way i should sit due to all these different methods.

and what am i focusing exactly on.
i read if things come to mind to label them and pass them off to not focus on them.

10 Comments

  • With practice you will be able to meditate when walking, lying down, cycling, hiking, washing dishes and even while sitting in a plain old chair, at your desk or on the step of your house or near your favorite tree.

    You do not have to meditate in any specific ‘seating’ posture. It’s not necessary to emulate another cultures habits or norms to practice meditation or the Dhamma.

    Your first focus should be what the Buddha actually taught about meditation, all other ‘opinions’ are exactly that. The Buddha taught us to be mindful of breath. (Anapanasati)

    “The meditator should then breathe calmly and naturally, mentally following the whole breath in and out without a break in attentiveness. At the outset one should simply breathe in and out without reflecting about it. One may fix the attention on the nostrils or upper lip, wherever the breath is felt most distinctly as one breathes in and out. There the attention should remain.”

    When you begin finding a comfortable and relaxing place for you is very important. A quiet place is always recommended but not always necessary.

    Thoughts will arise, even emotions, but like the Buddha taught us they are momentary and passing and the most important thing you can do is let them go, passing like the wind so to speak. No need to label, categorize, etc. the point of mediation is free your mind from such mundane and ultimately useless distractions.

    Set a timer/have a goal, five minutes or ten minutes to begin with, start slow. As your practice becomes better and you are beginning to grasp it, go to fifteen or twenty minutes. Also, set a regular schedule for your practice. Going to a temple or meditation center can help with this, but, you also need to practice on your own.

    One practice that can also help is the practice of Puja, even if you are just taking the precepts at morning, taking the time to meditate afterwards for just five minutes or so. Taking the precepts or hearing/reading/studying the Dhamma can help you just before you meditate; setting your mind at ease and also giving you a real and definite goal for your mediation practice.

  • I think which method that should be choosed by you is the one that most suitable for you.

    In Anguttara Nikaya 4.170, Ven. Ananda said: “Friends, whoever – monk or nun – declares the attainment of arahantship in my presence, they all do it by means of one or another of four paths. Which four?

    1. developed insight preceded by tranquillity.
    As he develops insight preceded by tranquillity, the path is born. He follows that path, develops it, pursues it. As he follows the path, developing it & pursuing it – his fetters are abandoned, his obsessions destroyed.
    2. developed tranquillity preceded by insight.
    3. developed tranquillity in tandem with insight.
    4. where a monk’s mind has its restlessness concerning the Dhamma [Comm: the corruptions of insight] well under control. There comes a time when his mind grows steady inwardly, settles down, and becomes unified & concentrated. In him the path is born.

    the common object for meditation focus is our breath. But if breath does not work for you, there are a lot of meditation object that can be try out by you, e.g.: loving kindness. Here is where the function of a meditation teacher lies to guide you.

    You can get into this link to study vipassana meditation :
    http://www.vipassanadhura.com/howto.htm

    They even have a dharma friend program where you can get a guide from quailified vipassana instructor through email, regular mail or telephone.
    http://www.vipassanadhura.com/dhammafriend.htm

  • Others have given you excellent advice on different meditation techniques.

    But even with the best of advice, most people – newcomers and old-timers, alike – can sometimes struggle with meditation.

    When challenges arise (and they always do), the direct guidance of a teacher and the support of a community can help you.

    Few people can sustain Buddhist meditation practice for very long without such guidance.

    That’s really the only reason that Buddhist meditation centers exist – to help people begin and sustain meditation practice.

    So if you’re not currently practicing with a teacher, you might consider doing so. Here’s a list of Buddhist centers around the world. If there are several centers close to you, visit as many as you can and see if one feels like “home.”
    http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/

    Best wishes in your practice!

  • There are many different objects of meditation throughout our training, so it is either a matter of choosing a particular subject or being advised by our teacher regarding what to focus on.

    A good place to start is the breath. In order to effectively absorb into objects of meditation though, it is important that our body doesn’t distract us through pains or movement. Therefore, to start, sit in any comfortable position that will not become painful very quickly. In a chair, on the floor, a bed, couch, or meditation cushion; doesn’t matter too much. There are specific postures that have certain functions, but for now, better to just be comfortable. A straight back is the most important.

    Scan the body from the head to the feet telling yourself each area is relaxed and comfortable; that all tension is melting away. This helps to draw the mind inwards away from objects of distraction and to settle the energies of our body. With each breath, feel the body become more relaxed and warm, and the mind becoming more and more focussed just on the body.

    Once you’re comfortable, begin to observe your breath as it enters and leaves the body. When you realize you’ve been distracted by thoughts other than the breath, relax a moment, then recall your breath. Don’t get all heavy about it or hard on yourself saying you can’t meditate. Meditation is difficult at first, but like many things in life requires persistence. Each time you realize you’ve been distracted, relax a moment, then recall your breath. The main idea is simply to remember what you are doing, remembering the breath, maintaining mindfulness of your object.

    Over time, you will be able to stay focussed on only the breath for longer and longer. Your energies will settle, mental turbulence will settle. Best not to spend more than a 1/2 hr doing this at first.

    This is a great beginning meditation. Once you are able to gain some control, it will make all your subsequent meditations on other subjects much more powerful and effective.

    The inability to concentrate is a problem experienced by many Buddhists throughout the world. The only reason for this is laziness; a lack of persistence, a lack of frequency, and doing things incorrectly. I say this based on conversations with many Buddhists from around the world. They are unable to make much progress in the trainings because they don’t have concentration, but they don’ have concentration because they don’t really try. When you apply yourself diligently, it definitely gets easier, so don’t give up or go off saying it doesn’t work. With effort, you will succeed!

  • Yes, you will find lots of confusing and often contradictory instructions. This is because many instructors are presenting instructions and advice from their own experience. Ajahn Brahm focuses on jhanas through breath meditation. Thannisaro Bhikkhu says experiment with the breath and see what works. Ajahn Chah says start with the three points of nose, chest, and abdomen till the body and mind settle down, then confine your mind to the nose. Bhante Gunaratana follows more or less what the Visuddhimagga says: concentrate on the breath where it goes in and out of the nose, but to practice Vipassana meditation, you simply notice things rise and fall once you’ve reached a certain point of concentration.

    So what do you do?

    Let’s start with this: none of these methods are wrong. The problem comes when you keep switching aimless back and forth. No calm, concentration, or insight really arises that way, from my experience. Now, you might switch method depending on what sort of state you’re in: if you’re tired or drowsy, do a walking meditation. If you’re restless, use Ajahn Chah’s method or Thanissaro Bhihhkhu’s method. That sort of thing. But you should have one main method that you practice: a sort of default, and if you find difficulties, sit with them and learn the nature of those difficulties. If it’s just your mind resisting, stick with it, and it will pass. If it’s legit (such as genuine fatigue, or intense pain, or the mind simply refuses to cooperate), switch methods, take a nap (if you’re genuinely tired), or change postures (for intense pain).

  • Meditation can be very difficult at first, then it becomes easy. There are many different types of meditation, particularly in Buddhism, so you will need to look into the different schools of thought within Buddhism, find that which appeals to you most, and pursue the practices they recommend. Do you prefer Theravadin Buddhism? Zen? Tibetan? (And if you really get into it, within each of those you will find various traditions.) Or find a teacher or writer that you resonate with, and see what they recommend. If you particularly like a teacher, you may want to check out what tradition they come from (e.g., if you enjoyed Pema Chodron’s books, then you might want to look more into the Tibetan tradition).

    However, in general there are two basic types of meditation: meditation where you attempt to focus your mind on one thing, and contemplative meditation where you use meditation to gain insight into things in a deeper way than you ordinarily could. Beginners are usually told to try the former (focus on one thing) in order to strengthen the power of the mind and the ability to get into deeper brain states. A very common beginner meditation is to focus on your breath and remain focused on it as long as you can, and whenever your mind moves away from the breath to pursue a thought, just gently return to the breath as soon as it occurs to you (i.e., as soon as you wake up from the dream that that thought was creating for you).

    Good luck!

  • Hare Krishna
    I sincerely hope you find peace in Buddhist meditation.
    I just felt that I might add that Hinduism (Vaishnavism to be precise) says that focusing on nothing is really difficult. Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita also that “From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self. Gradually, step by step, one should become situated in trance by means of intelligence sustained by full conviction, and thus the mind should be fixed on the self alone and should think of nothing else.” 6.25-26
    But the meditational process in Bhakti is on something rather than nothing. That something is fully spiritual though, not of this world. So one meditates on the transcendental name (mantra), beautiful form, wonderful qualities and sweet pastimes of Krishna.
    Anyway, I hope you find what works best for you.

  • As you probabley know there are various schools of Buddhism. I belong to Soka Gakkai international and we do have a basic way of practicing. If you would like to see/experience what we do for yourself.
    Look under our web site to find a member near you and attend a Buddhist introduction meeting in your area. No obligation. You won’t be sorry. We are about 12 million members world wide in about 190 countries/territories , all practing the same way.

  • There are two main kinds of meditation, Samatha and Vipassana. They are likened to ‘stopping and listening’. Samatha is usually done in the form of simple breath meditation. SImply sit down in any posture you like (be it cross-legged, Lotus position, kneeling, lying down, etc) and simply focus on your breath. This is where the part about watching your thoughts, labeling them, and letting them go comes in – you will likely not be able to focus for very long. You will find yourself chasing those thoughts which come to mind instead of letting them go, but that is what practice is for.

    Vipassana is more complicated and literally means ‘seeing the reality of things’. It can be understanding Buddhist philosophy conceptually, but it also usually involves experiencing it. I am not really qualifies to explain it, but Buddhanet.net has a good section on it, as does wikipedia.

    In short – mindfulness (samatha), and then using that mindfulness to see reality (vipassana)

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