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Mindfulness in Plain English

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by goodoljoshua, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. goodoljoshua

    goodoljoshua Member

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    Hi Michael,

    Long time, no see. My, how the community has grown!

    Just finishing up a great book entitled "Mindfulness in Plain English - Updated and Expanded Edition " by Bhante H. Gunaratana (Bhante G).

    You can read the original edition (not updated or expanded) for free here or download the .pdf free too! Personally, I'm still a book kind of guy so I previewed it on-line and then bought it (the updated and expanded edition).

    Chapter headings listed below.

    Reviews:
    "A masterpiece. I cannot recommend it highly enough." —Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of and Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine and Health Care, U of MA

    "Mindfulness in Plain English lives up to its title... With a very modern and inviting writing style, the language is loose and free, and occasionally humorous... An excellent resource for anyone wishing to begin or further meditative studies."—Today's Librarian

    "One of the best nuts-and-bolts meditation manuals. Bhante Gunaratana lays out the fundamentals of basic Buddhist meditation, the how, what, where, when, and why, including common problems and how to deal with them. His 52 years as a Buddhist monk make Mindfulness in Plain English an authority on a living tradition, and his years of teaching in America and elsewhere give it the clarity and straightforwardness that has made it so popular. If you'd like to learn the practice of meditation, you can't do better.—Amazon.com, Amazon.com Delivers Eastern Religion

    Chapter Headings:
    1 Meditation: Why Bother?
    2 What Meditation Isn't
    3 What Meditation Is
    4 Attitude
    5 The Practice
    6 What to Do with Your Body
    7 What to Do with Your Mind
    8 Structuring Your Meditation
    9 Set-up Exercises
    10 Dealing with Problems
    11 Dealing with Distractions I
    12 Dealing with Distractions II
    13 Mindfulness (Sati)
    14 Mindfulness versus Concentration
    15 Meditation in Everyday Life
    16 What's in It for You
    Afterword: The Power of Loving Friendliness
     
  2. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Thanks for that !

    Going to add it to my list of books to read :)
     
  3. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Moi aussi! It's so nice to see you again Joshua - happiness and joy to you and yours :) :) :)
     
  4. goodoljoshua

    goodoljoshua Member

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    Never far from home!

    Haha! Pollyanna, Edwin! Pure delight to "see" you again! I feel a special kinship with you. We're some of the old-timers around here. lol

    Pollyanna Dec. 11, 2007
    Edwin Dec. 15, 2007
    Josh Dec. 15, 2007

    Thanks for the responses.

    Shine On,
    Josh
     
  5. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    :)

    Sometimes a smile says it all !
     
  6. John

    John Member

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    thank goodol joshual -looks interesting -will download it
    John:)
     
  7. bashmaki

    bashmaki Member

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    Bought it this weekend. Read a little. I like the guys straight forward writing style. I'm always looking for more instruction on meditation. Not many teachers in the rural mid-west.

    Thanks for the tip,
    Gus
     
  8. goodoljoshua

    goodoljoshua Member

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    Ditto Bashmaki

    I like his style too. Apparently this book has been around for a while, but it's a new found treasure for me.

    Not many teachers here in Central Pennsylvania either. There are only three places that I know of but I find them too dogmatic for my tastes. Heavy Buddhist and Hindu overtones (chanting, rituals, etc.)

    Glad you're getting something out of it. Really glad. :)
     
  9. Michael Mackenzie

    Michael Mackenzie Owner

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    Hi Joshua,

    Thanks for dropping in and also for the vipassana book recommend.

    It's good to see you on the forums again :) Michael
     
  10. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Couldn't wait and started reading online, allready at chapter 8...

    Thanks for this man, it's amazing !
     
  11. goodoljoshua

    goodoljoshua Member

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    Haha! Awesome!

    It's quite a book, huh? Thorough, succinct, readable, methodical, and FREE! Feels really good to know this post has been helpful.
     
  12. bashmaki

    bashmaki Member

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    I have decided, after a number of years meditating, to try the method described in this book. At first it seemed an effort in futility. . . I kept trying. I eventually thought it was just becoming an exercise in chasing thoughts around in this head.

    The key here is obviously relaxation plus concentration on the breath. As the book says; fighting the thoughts is fruitless. I HAD to try that ;)

    I eventually came from the chair with some satisfaction that I was being able to concentrate. At one point I had the brief realization that I'd become the breath itself and nothing else. For me, this is enough to keep me going for now. I'm still sitting in a chair. Once I begin to get the hang of it in a chair; I'll start to sit on a cushion. I think baby steps would be key in successfully, radically changing meditation styles.

    If anyone else has been trying to change to this type meditation; I'd love some feedback. If anyone has any extended experience; pointers would be wonderful.

    Gus
     
  13. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Been reading it up to chapter 9, and stopped there because it was too much info all at once and I needed some time to absorb it before I continued.

    I got my best result from this meditation method by sitting absolutely still.

    I realised that in fact I had been sabotaging my meditation for almost a year by scratching when I had an itch, moving a leg when a hint of pain came up...

    And not only have I reached the new Calm I have been writing about, I ended up noticing some really big unresolved issues as well ! I even went through a 15 minute period of being really agitated after my meditation last tuesday ( boy was I relieved that after those 15 minutes the Calm came back )

    Still feel great because of it !
     
  14. Bhavya

    Bhavya Member

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    concentration vs awareness

    Thanks for the recommended reading, Josh. Nice to have the nuts and bolts without the dogma.

    Gus you wrote: "If anyone else has been trying to change to this type meditation; I'd love some feedback. If anyone has any extended experience; pointers would be wonderful."

    I don't claim to be an expert - I'm walking my path the best way I can - but it's very important to me. It's really the only thing that has fascinated me throughout the 63 years of my being in this body. I've searched through many ways and have done vipassana meditation extensively and intensively. Here are some thoughts that I have on the subject, for what it's worth.

    The key for me is to distinguish concentration from awareness. This book Mindfulness in Plain English has a couple of chapters, 13 and 14 which talks about that. And of course Eckhart Tolle has written several books on the subject. They use concentration in the process of witnessing whatever's happening - thoughts, sensations, sounds...and hopefully in that witnessing, we can allow the phenomena to pass by without getting caught by them. However, if you're like me with an active mind, this can be difficult, especially if there's lots going on in your life!

    This weekend, I discovered another layer to all this and I'm really finding this new piece helpful. I took a workshop with an advaita master named Mooji who tells us to start inquiring about who or what is doing the witnessing. You have a thought and by noticing that it's arisen, you witness it, knowing that it's your mind thinking. Then you inquire, "who is doing that?" Answer, it's "me." But "who is that "me"? Or what?" Seeing that there's something apart from the mind, you notice that there's more to you. But where does this "me" come from? Somehow there's this identity that we have, thinking it's who we are. Yet, by being aware of it, we notice that there must be something more to ourselves than our identifying with the body/mind. We cling to this "me" but we can step back from it and witness it as well. When we discover this ultimate observer, we realize it's just pure consciousness. It is formless, without attributes, neutral, doesn't do anything but just "be." In it, we are joined with all that is. It's the source.

    I know that's a very wordy attempt to describe something that is so elegant and simple and beautiful. Being there with someone who is coming from that vibration made it possible for me to enter that ultimate state, however briefly, so that now in meditation, if thoughts come I can step back to notice that it's the me identifying with them and I can step back to the much more fundamental Self that precedes all of that. The thoughts either stop, or slow down, and I just witness, there's a thought, here's another one, the body is breathing, there's a sound ...without identifying with any of it. Insight, which is what "vipassana" means, arises because we see that it's all just phenomena, arising and passing away. Some of it is enticing, some is not and we start to notice the craving and aversion that the pesonality has to that. Behind it all, like the depth of the ocean, is the witnessing, just pure being. It's out of that that peace comes.

    I suppose what I'm saying is that we need some concentration but we also need to develop wisdom about the nature of existence - the body/mind, our identifying with "me, myself and I".

    You clearly have already developed capacity to concentrate, so kudos to you. How you use that concentration can bring great insight and spiritual growth. And I think that you can trust yourself to know how to proceed. I love the advaita teaching that we are ALREADY pure being. It's there inside of us, obscured by our focusing exclusively on our thinking mind and feelings. You've said that you're a long time meditator so you already have the yearning for spiritual truth. There's no question that you're on your way.

    Wishing you peace
    Bhavya :):):)

    Btw, sitting on the floor is great if you can, but my meditations are much better now than when I was a young un' looking great on my cushion. As long as the spine is straight, what does it matter? We're moving beyond all of that
     
  15. goodoljoshua

    goodoljoshua Member

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    Mooji Videos

    Mooji is pretty cool. He has a gift of leading you past and through your conditioned conceptualizations of who "You" are.

    About a week ago I stumbled across a web site by Richard Miller called Never Not Here. He's hosted a few satsangs and posted the videos on his site. He has about 2.5 hours worth of satsangs with Mooji. This is the link if you're interested.

    Shine On,
    Joshua
     
  16. Bhavya

    Bhavya Member

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    Thanks!

    Joshua, that link is terrific. Waiting for my water specialist to show up, I got to watch half of the first one. I love this man. Sitting in his presence, you feel such wonderful, loving energy but even more important, he takes you into that space. Even watching the video does it for me.

    I've been doing the 'inquiry' listening to LF9 for a few days now and the combination is very powerful.
    Many thanks
    Bhavya :):):)
     
  17. bashmaki

    bashmaki Member

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    I am having continued success with this type of meditation all-be-it slowly. I expected this though. I find the mind trying to build a construct and also departmentalize the breath as I concentrate awareness on it.

    Each time I merely bring my concentration and awareness to the thought pattern and ask the pertinent questions of this thinking. In no time the thought disappears only to come back again later.

    I would expect this to be a normal process since we've been taught since childhood to use our minds to categorize and departmentalize absolutely everything we do.

    The mind seems to dread anything it cannot departmentalize or categorize. It is merely what it does with everything. Because of this phenomena there seems to be no place for mind in the presence of true awareness.

    gus
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2008
  18. Bhavya

    Bhavya Member

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    Yes, me too. I'm going to spend 5 days with Mooji in a silent retreat because I want to learn more about this technique. I find I've gotten pretty good at observing my dysfunctional mind thanks to Tolle's books but as you say, the mind comes back! Like everything, it probably just takes continuing practice. :eek:
    And Mooji has given me more of an awareness of myself as a "personality." I can step outside of the body/mind and witness it's dance as a whole (and what a dance it is!) I think I have more of a sense of humour about it all ;)

    I'm hoping that the five days with Mooji will help me have a deeper experience of the ultimate observer which might make it easier to return to that space, ongoing.

    Bhavya
     
  19. bashmaki

    bashmaki Member

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    I am also looking at a 10 day school put on by the Vipassana Meditation website. They have a school within 180 mile from where I live. It is interesting from the standpoint that they do not charge anything for their course, food or lodging. All their funding comes from past students. You do have to fill out an exclusive questionaire and from this they make a decision on whether you are a good candidate for their program. They have a program starting in the spring and one again in the fall. The one in the fall would work better for me. In fact, the fall course is going on right now. It is fairly rigorous.



    The website is: Vipassana Meditation Website
    Intersting stuff here with a lot of information.

    gus
     
  20. Bhavya

    Bhavya Member

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    I've done a lot of 10 day retreats with Goenkaji's outfit. They have centers all over the world. It is rigorous but I found it very helpful though you may find a lot of your 'stuff' comes up. The first one I did, I had a great release and cleansing of emotional baggage. In 7 years I did about 11 retreats and got a lot out of it but finally I knew I had to broaden my practice. They want you to use their method and no other. :(

    You see, they truly believe there's is the only way. It's subtle but when you sit in silence for 10 days and all that you hear are talks by Goenka at night, it penetrates into the mind. The method is fantastic though - like the Mindfulness book only with Goenka's vipassana, after 3 days of focusing on the breath, you move to sensations going from the top of the head to your feet, slowly part by part in a systematic way. It's very powerful. I just wish they wouldn't mock other paths. (My sthick!)

    Bhavya
     

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