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What to tell a beginning meditator when they can’t detect their thinking?

A person told me that they had just started meditating (vipassana) and then they told me that the whole time they were sitting in meditation, it was like they were totally quiet. Like being in the zone, without any thoughts at all. I guess it’s like that because the person is totally identified with one’s thinking thus can’t detect them. So then I wonder what to tell that person if anything? Will the meditation still do it’s magical work, even if the person can’t detect the thinking? I guess this might be the case, because at least sitting in meditation, regularily each day relieves some stress and healing is going on whether they can see their thoughts or not. I realize that if I tell him he’s not doing it right, or something along those lines, then he might get discouraged. It’s been so long since I first started, I don’t recall how it was the first times.
Phae: Counting breaths is what occurred to me as well, because when one looses count then one can know it happened because one got lost in thinking.
Tamara S.: I think the idea to ask him questions to point him towards being the witness of thoughts vs. being identified with them is good. Your comment gives creative ideas. Because one is so used to doing based on what one is telling oneself, then even very simple meditations like ‘watching one’s breath’, are done with one’s mind. I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out, busy as hell…. I’m scanning my foot, now I’m scanning my torso, etc. It gives me the general idea to suggest to the person instead of watching one’s breath, that one focuses on feeling one’s breath. Anything which can be more clearly said that focuses the person into using their inner sensing capabilities to feel something happening using the outside sensing capabilities, I think would be helpful.
damayanti373: I agree with you, that simpler meditations with a strong focal point are better for beginners. When I tried to do a meditation that was more like vipassana, then this gave me too much free reign. I start to remember that I probably sat in meditation for many months, without getting much result. It was after I switched to a 4 count, that it started working better for me. Later I stayed open to trying other types of meditation and eventually developed my own unique way of doing it that worked the best for me. I think people process information differently, and thus why there are so many different meditations. I like this meditation from swami muktananda, it’s very simple , easy to do and I see that the effect is that the inner hearing and inner seeing is engaged thus quieting the talking one. It was just recently I came across the name: Swami Muktananda, I will look him up next.
Kiteeze: Yes, I think your thoughts are pretty much on the mark. He told me he was in this blank state, because he wants to believe he’s doing it right. The rest of what you write brings up another question for me:

Can we be the observer of our thinking at the same time we are engaged in thinking? Or is it more like ‘we are lost in thoughts’, then come back to awareness realizing we were just doing that?

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kiteeze
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kiteeze

It makes me wonder if the person isn’t trying to tell you what they think you want to hear? What they think is right. So many people have the idea that meditation means absence of thought. Beginners often become very scared because they find this impossible. Most beginners find a collage of thoughts will flit through their minds when meditating . It puts them off because surely the mind ought to be blank if you’re doing it right? But really, meditation is detachment from the current of thought. It is like being one of those insects, a water boatman, we… Read more »

damayanti373
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damayanti373

For beginning meditators it is good for them to know to follow their breath. (If they are not paying attention to their thoughts, then their attention is elsewhere) By putting full attention on the breath, alonside using a mantra, then a deeper meditation is experienced. The in breath can be “Ham” and the outbreath “Sa” (This is known as ajapajapa mantra using the natural sound that the breath makes. The space between the breaths are widended as meditation is deepened. Thoughts will naturally subside as this process is developed.)

Tamara S
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Tamara S

Telling them to count their breaths is a good practice but may also interfere if taken too far. I would also, when in conversation with this person, ask questions about their experience both while meditating and in daily life. Questions such as how long is the stillness between your thoughts? When is the thinking mind most active? When is it more still? When he watches his thoughts passing through does he find it is his tendency to believe them? Do the thoughts come in related clusters or do they appear random? Any question that focuses his attention on witnessing thought… Read more »

Phae
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Phae

Tell him to count breaths. Yes, he will still benefit & in time even come to recognize his thoughts. I have had this happen to others & I did not correct them, but it did not take long for them to come to me & tell me that they had been in error. Blessings.