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Watching the breath with LifeFlow

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by eddy3042, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. eddy3042

    eddy3042 Member

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    Hi I'm new here!

    I've found the Vipassana practice of 'watching' the breath interesting and challenging and it's also the method that appeals to me most. The word 'watching' is misleading because we're not aiming to picture the moving breath in our minds. A better word is 'sensing' - sensing the feel of the breath as it moves in and out. This is usually felt within the nostrils for most people I think.

    The reason this method fascinates me most is the sheer difficulty of it. I haven't been meditating for very long and I find it amazing at how difficult it is to keep my 'sense-attention' on that particular 'nostril-sense-place' even for just one exhalation and inhalation. The difficulty is analogous to that of a waterskier forced to hold on to the rope-handle with just the pinky finger of one hand! It's very easy to lose your mental 'grip' on that sense-place and find yourself getting caught in a thought but even when thoughts aren't distracting you it's still a challenge to hone in directly on that sense-place and stay there.

    What I've noticed is that after 'exerting' my mind to some extent in staying with that sense-place I'll be able to kind of let go of that exertion and the mind will naturally stay at the sense-place for longer periods. When this happens there's always a sense of 'letting go' or relaxing of the mental striving and it takes less coaxing/effort to keep the mind on the sense place.

    I've just recently found out about LifeFlow and started using the 14 minute demo with over-ear headphones. I am extremely sceptical about entrainment audios and I know that the placebo effect can be powerful enough to sell any dodgy product. What is striking to me about using this demo is that the sense of 'letting go' that I mentioned before seems to come about much more easily than it used to with less mental effort needed to get to that clearer mental state.

    Of course mental exertion is required or it wouldn't be meditation but the demo seems to allow more of a relaxation into the process of meditation than there was before. It seems to help me to let go of extraneous thoughts more easily and quickly and to help me stay at the sense-place more easily.

    I'm curious to know if anyone else can relate to my experience?
     
  2. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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  3. Panthau

    Panthau Member

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    Never thought about it that way... thats almost a sport-like view of how long you can focus your attention :) :)
     
  4. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Hi Eddy, and welcome to the community.

    As with anything, there may be some level of placebo effect, and that will depend on the existing belief system (learnt beliefs) of the person it's effecting.
    Whilst I know there are dodgy products out there and dodgy salespeople behind them, I'm confident that Michael is not out to rip people off with his products. Firstly he gives away freely the CD's to learn meditation. The technique provided is the same as Transcendental Meditation, but without the ceremony and "fluff" around it. To learn TM, you would pay within your means anything up to a couple of thousand $US. The learn the same from Michael is free. And for that you could just take it, learn it, use it for yourself and not be tied into any other product. I'm also aware of great generosity in terms of the entrainment products by Michael and the Project Meditation team and they're always willing to listen to an individuals needs and adapt the purchase of the products to suit. e.g. if someone wants to purchase LifeFlow over a longer period than once a month, they can arrange that, if they want to just download LF10 and then stop, they can do that, and even pick up again later on if they like. There are even offers of reduced costs via email for those wanting to try the full LF10, or other products on offer, which come around from time to time. In terms of the cost of LifeFlow in comparison to other products, it's very small, and certainly is an honest reflection a minimal cost that is equated to the effort that has gone into Michaels research and creation of them. On top of that, you have a free community to join and discuss things with all us lovely people :D, and lots of free information to explain and back up the prinicples outlined in meditation and brainwave entrainment. I certainly believe myself, that there is nothing dodgy going on here, otherwise I wouldn't have signed up for it myself.

    I would beg to differ a little. Mental exertion is the last thing that is required for meditation. "Awareness" and "Action" are the two things required. Being aware of when the mind is controlling us rather than us controlling the mind and being able to act to change it so that the mind is not in control.

    In terms of the types of meditation, I would classify these into 2 main categories with one of those split into 2 sub categories:

    Categories:-
    1. Focused
    1a. Focused - Objective
    1b. Focused - Contemplative
    2. Unfocused

    1a. Focused - Objective
    This is the type of meditation where you focus on a particular object whether that is sensory or mental e.g. a candle flame or the breath etc.
    With this meditation, effort is required to focus on the particular object and block out other sensory stimuli, as the focus is kept in the conscious mind. Whilst this allows for thoughts to be let go of, it requires conscious effort and does not allow us to enter as much of a deep state of meditation as other methods.

    1b. Focused - Contemplative
    This is the type of meditation where you start with a particular thought or question, focusing on that thing and, through relaxing into it, letting the mind follow the thoughts to see where it leads, and observing the outcome, often with a requirement to find an answer to something. Again this keeps our focus in the conscious mind but it allows us, sometimes with a little effort to prevent external sensory stimuli, to observe the thoughts with little or no effect on the outcome through emotional attachment or belief. This is a good way to get in touch with our intuitive thoughts, but does not take us into a deep state of meditation.

    2. Unfocused
    This is the type of meditation that is offered in the free Discover Meditation course here on Project Meditation, as well as that offered by Transcendental Meditation (TM), Dynamic Deep Meditation, or one of the other flavours of names that people have chosen for it. It involves starting with a focus on a mantra (a word or sound) that is "invited" to repeat in the mind; whether that is loudly, quietly, fast or slow, however it pleases. This focus assists in taking the mind away from the conscious thoughts whilst not offering a need to become attached to the mantra itself (often it is best if the mantra is not a word that has any meaning to ourselves or has any emotional or mental attachment related to it). After time, and with practice, the mantra itself will disappear from the mind leaving us in a deep state of meditation (complete awareness, enlightenment, call it what you want, there are no real words to describe it). If, during this type of meditation, thoughts are observed to arise, we can simply invite the mantra to return in its own time and in its own way, and continue on.

    So, although this appears to focus on a mantra, it is really unfocused as we have no intention of focus and do not attach ourselves to the mantra, allowing it to act simply as a vehicle to take us into the deeper states of meditation.


    Now there may be particular styles of doing meditations, and these are very numerous, but essentially each meditation can be put into one of the above categories. For example, Buddhist meditations often fall into categories 1a and 1b, sometimes focusing on the breath, other times contemplating a teaching or principle of the buddhist philosophy. Western guided meditations will fall into category 1b as they often take us on a journey of observation, sometimes leaving us with quite periods to observe what happens, then perhaps interpreting what we see and reflecting on how that relates to our individual lives.

    There is nothing wrong with any of the types of meditation. Each has it's own benefits. One should choose which meditation suits their own situation and requirements, however, if you truly wish to enter deep states of medtitation away from the controls of the mind, using an unfocused meditative practice is often the best way to achieve this.

    Now, when you incorporate entrainment tracks with meditation, the ideal way to use these is to avoid focusing on the tracks themselves and just let them play out whilst entering a meditative state. Often you will see people on here (not wrongly, it's very common when something is new to us, we all do it ;) ), comment on how they can hear this or hear that on the track or how they like certain tracks and not others. This indicates that the person is focusing on the track and ideally needs to choose to let that focus go and bring themselves back to the meditative practice. The more we use the tracks the easier that becomes and the more effective the tracks will become as they will not be interfered with through our conscious masking of them (through the emotions, learnt responses etc.)

    Hope that helps. :)

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  5. eddy3042

    eddy3042 Member

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    Hi Giles thanks for your thought-provoking answer!

    Perhaps we're only disagreeing on semantics and our meditative experience is more or less the same but I would say - Mental exertion is the FIRST thing required for meditation! Concentration might be a better word to use. It's not the only thing but it has to be a point of departure into the process of meditation. I'm probably wrong but, from what I've read, my current view is that meditation is training the mind to perceive things in a way that it doesn't do naturally without said training. This isn't to say that there aren't different reasons for meditating but this seems to be the most common view.

    You imply here that concentration is not a part of this sort of 'Unfocused' meditation but that simply repeating a mantra in our heads leads to deeper states of meditation. I would argue that it's actually the mental concentration needed to stay with the mantra that leads to the deeper states. In a strange and subtle way, it also requires concentration to have
    and to
    ! I would say this requires even more concentration because those concepts are vague, or more vague than having a definite object to focus on. I find it much more practical and simple to focus on a definite object like the feeling of the breath or a mantra than to have 'no intention of focus'. When meditating you have to intend to do something and the point of meditation is to at least try to stick to that intention until it starts happening on its own effort. The reason we need mental exertion is because it is difficult to stick to that intention, whatever it may be.

    This concentration might lead to states where you can focus on the object effortlessly or
    , but my argument is that it is mental exertion/concentration that leads us to those seemingly effortless 'no-mind' states.

    You can 'invite' a mantra to repeat in your mind until the cows come home but if you ain't concentratin' you ain't meditatin'! This is just my opinion of course. I think you use the word 'invite' to imply that we shouldn't try to control the object, just let it be as it is. Of course I agree on this aspect but it requires concentration/mental exertion to keep the object just as it is without extra conceptualizations or thoughts added to it. Indeed, without concentration how do we even realize that we've drifted off into thinking or that a thought has just arrived? Realizing that we've drifted away and then bringing our attention back to the object is the essence of meditation isn't it? This is what deepens our practise isn't it?

    I think that we are only disagreeing on semantics because I would say that there can be no awareness without some degree of concentration and no concentration without some degree of awareness. They work together. And of course I have to say that your use of the word 'action' implies some degree of exertion! Hence 'mental exertion'.

    Thanks for giving me much food for thought, Giles, and who knows, perhaps my views on this subject will totally change as I practise more and more. Let's start an interesting forum debate on this subject!
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2010
  6. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    May I ask where you've read this?

    When you say "meditation is training the mind to percieve things in a way that it doesn't do naturally without said training", I would still not agree with this.

    Meditation is a state of the mind. It's a state that already exists in all of us, but it is covered up by our conscious thoughts, pre-conceived ideas, learnt responses etc. etc. The way to get to that state of mind is to let go of those things, not to focus the mind on any thing, which in fact holding onto that thing and preventing us from letting go.

    Yes, that's what I'm saying, but nope we don't need the concentration as we do not "need" to stay with the mantra. Staying with the mantra will actually prevent us reaching those deepest states.

    Nope, we simply need awareness. Awareness requires no mental exertion.

    On the contrary, you can meditate with our without concentration, but the deeper states of meditation occur without concentration. There is a whole world of difference between concentration and awareness.

    But the conentration and mental exertion is extra conceptualizations and thoughts. :confused:

    Indeed, realization is what is needed and that realization comes from awareness, not from concentration.

    Correct that it is a matter of semantics, but awareness is ever existent within ourselves and doesn't require concentration for its existence. As an analogy, you don't have to have been concentrating on a car heading straight towards you from behind to be aware of the screeching tyres as it tries to brake. Your awareness will alert you to what is happening without any concentration. In fact your concentration can be entirely elsewhere. ;)

    True action requires no exertion. If you have to exert yourself to act on something then you are acting against something, and thus need to examine what it is you are acting against and determine if the action is really a true action or false action.

    We are all learning all the time.
    The wise tell us "our teachers are in front of us". And this applies to everyone and everything.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  7. chris063

    chris063 Member

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    Hi Eddy,

    I think that there is a very subtle difference between 'concentration' which implies use of the Mind, and Conscious Awareness, which is generally referring towards a sense of 'being' in the moment but with as little interference from the Mind and our Thoughts as possible.

    My own personal experience is that the use of anything which involves concentration and the mind, including Mantras, hinders the whole meditative process because I find it very hard to let go once my mind has fixed on something. I prefer to just sit, settle myself and become centred as much as possible (ideally a state of calm inner balance), and direct my focus to my own energy field, my own awareness. The thoughts still creep in, but as soon as I am aware that I am thinking about something, I relax again and 'let go' of them. I find that this way, I will go much deeper into my meditation, and feel a much deeper sense of peacefulness very quickly.

    I am sure that everyone will have their own particular favorite method of meditating, but in essence I believe that it is what we 'are' beyond our thoughts and mind which is the state one is really aiming to experience with what Giles has called 'unfocussed' meditation.

    Chris :):):)
     
  8. eddy3042

    eddy3042 Member

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    I agree with this totally and I'm not worried about whether the word meditation is defined as a practise or a state of mind. What I don't understand is why you seem to dismiss the incredible difficulties involved in arriving at that state of mind. Sure, in theory it should be easy because we're merely trying to
    and
    But if doing those things was as easy as you make it out to be then everyone would meditate and see profound results straight away. Our minds are incredibly tricky (monkey minds) things to understand and control. I maintain that the mind needs training in the true sense of the word. This is psychological training! Not a soft approach that implies that the skill of bare awareness is easy. Bare awareness isn't a state that you can just slide into just as you're starting this practice. Just because awareness is the goal of meditation doesn't mean that awareness is the only way to get there. My argument here is that concentration is the vehicle for allowing the mind to gradually become aware/strong enough to be able to reside in that state of bare awareness.


    This is why Zen practitioners don't start with the 'just sitting' practise and why Vipassana meditators don't start at the 'insight' stage. These next quotes are from Wikipedia having looked up zazen and vipassana:

    I admit I was rash when I said 'if you ain't concentratin' you ain't meditatin'. I agree with your statement -
    but you totally discount the hours/years/decades of concentration practise usually needed to arrive proficiently at those deeper states.

    Yes, your concentration can be elsewhere but you'd better hope that concentration/conceptualization engages as soon as possible to either ready yourself to be hit by the car or somehow try to avoid being hit by it. And I have no qualms about lumping concentration and conceptualization together in this particular case to try to prove the point that awareness, by itself, does not tell you what is happening at all! Awareness is the pure perception of the screeching sound devoid of the concept ('car skidding towards me'). Awareness alerts you to the fact that some'thing' is happening but it is the concept that arrives in the mind that split second afterwards that tells you what exactly is happening. And the mental concentration that comes with the realizing of that concept allows you to quickly try and do something about the oncoming car. Pointless arguing of semantics is fun!

    Of course
    but I come back to my argument that in order for awareness to reach ever more subtle levels, (and, by the way, awareness doesn't have to be at a subtle level to detect a car screeching towards you from behind!) the skill of one-pointed concentration must first be cultivated. Where have I read this you ask? In 'Mindfulness in Plain English', 'The Meditator's Atlas', 'The Miracle of Mindfulness', 'Beyond the Breath', 'The Quiet', 'The Dhammapada' to name a few. Not that I take all of what is said in these books at face value. I am an atheist and disregard the more 'spiritual' information like reincarnation and such. I am purely interested in meditation as it is an interesting and seemingly beneficial psychological practice.

    This interview shows how I view the point and practice of meditation.
    Interview with Sam Harris, "The End of Faith"

    Yes of course they are when written down or talked about just as awareness is! When put into practice, however, they cease to be concepts, they just are. If I'm concentrating in meditation I'm not thinking 'Concentrate, Concentrate' to myself. I'm merely trying (hopefully without the concept of 'trying') to retain my focus on the object. By the way, the 'object' can be one thing (the breath/mantra) or it can be everything that enters sense perception as in 'just sitting'. So I'm concentrating without the concept applied to it while the 'ever existent' awareness allows me to notice when I've drifted away from that object. The concentration helps to rid the mind of all its mental 'garbage' so that we can actually realize that state of bare awareness where concentration is no longer needed. The fact that awareness can be gradually refined to perceive subtler and subtler phenomena stems from nothing more than concentration and awareness working together.

    You're speaking metaphorically/metaphysically I hope. I also hope that no-one you've told this to in the past has taken it literally because by now they're probably overweight blobs! These are the sorts of spiritual wishy-washy statements that lead straight to a veritable malange of confusion. Let's ignore the ludicrousy of the paragraph as a whole and firstly come to grips with what you mean by true and false. Do you mean 'good and bad', or 'moral and immoral' for example? Can an action be true or false?! No it can't. An action that happened in the past can in the sense that it truly did happen but that's where the sense in your dichotomy ends. You'll have to explain yourself further, in simple layman's terms, if you hope for simpletons like me to fully grasp your meaning.

    Giles, I'm not disagreeing with what you're saying in your posts just for the sake of it. I truly disagree. That's what makes this such an interesting discussion/argument for me. Thanks very much again for providing me with great food for thought.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2010
  9. kishorlal

    kishorlal New Member

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    Vipassana meditation

    ___________________________________________________________
    Hello Friend
    Namastey

    I feel happy to learn through this forum that you are progressing in meditation.
    I also wish best.
    I am just wondering how the audio is making you absorbed in the meditation more than the dry vipassana.
    As I see, the Audio engages you MIND TRACK. When you are watching, sensing the breathing, the Audio engages your chattering Mind so well that you fee 'off sensations' as one Zen master has said. This results in quick and fast absorption to Meditaion, you may feel now. and leaves you more relaxed.

    On the other hand when your simple vipassana meditaion leaves you exerting more. As your mind is fighting with your concentration and asserting its presence and making you more strained.
    Real danger is in getting Fixated to 'audio' you are using now. In future,
    without that 'audio' you will have hard time to meditate.
    This is becoming sort of 'Pavlove' effect called condioning.
    Whereas meditation is just letting go of everything and observing .

    I hope you are able to get this point.

    So if you want to have refreshing mind. Just do one thing. before you sit for meditation. do a simple exercise for five minute.
    stand on a floor, with legs one feet apart. knees slighly bent. and start chaotic breathing. continue for five minutes. And then cathart your emotions or negativity with full force using your face, and vocal chord but keeping the voice within. This will make your mind cleaner and relaexed fast. and then you sit for vipassana following your routine.

    But remember to do vipassana in its purest form without any audio gadgetery. wish you happy journey and awakening.
    Namastey
     
  10. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    I'm certainly not "dismissing the incredible difficulties" as you put it. Nobody has said that it's necessary easy.
    However, the point I think I was trying to make, is that to say that meditation requires concentration is misleading, as ultimately meditation requires no concentration. If someone knew nothing of meditation were to read that they needed to concentrate then this is how they would attempt their practice of meditation, and believe that not concentrating is somehow wrong.
    Yes, it can be difficult to raise one's awareness in order to make the choice of letting things go, but understanding that that is the goal (for want of a better word) is, imho, some of the most valuable guidance.

    I apologise if I made out it was easy. That was certainly not my intention. :eek:

    In that sense.... yes I can agree.

    I still maintain it doesn't need hours/years/decades of concentration. I would perhaps (semantically speaking again) say that it requires dedication. Like a lot of things, for most people, nothing is going to necessarily happen immediately.

    I would actually hope that I acted in true awareness. If I were to try and concentrate on the car, I am certain that fears and emotions would get in the way and prevent me from acting on the situation in the present moment.

    I agree withe awarness and concept part. I still maintain that concentration is within the conscious mind and is clouded by judgment. The last thing we need in a moment of urgency is judgmental concentration; we rather need unconscious intuitive action that is not clouded by such judgments.

    Indeed it is. :D

    Indeed it is wise to not take these things at face value. I too am an atheist, but I think there is spiritual existence in all of us. A common mistake (and I'm not saying you've made this mistake, but for the benefit of others...) is to believe that a spiritual existence means that one must believe in spiritualism or be a spiritualist; believing in spirit beings, spirit dimensions and all that stuff. However, reincarnation, in a sense could be explained in scientific terms of energy manifestation, rather than the common view of what reincarnation is. I certainly don't hold with the buddhist view that we reincarnate at different "levels" e.g as an animal or a god, but can only become enlightened through being incarnated in human form. To me, this is an egotistical view and actually goes against the princple of buddhist attachment. But I digress... :cool:

    I'll come back and watch this tomorrow as it's late now and the TV's on. ;)

    But the mantra is merely a tool to guide us into meditation. Retaining focus on it will prevent us getting into deep meditation. We will still be at a level of a meditative state, but we have to let go of the mantra as well as everything else if we truly want to BE complete awareness.

    I think the only concentration needed it to take us away from our daily life and give us the determination to sit down and do the meditation in the first place. :rolleyes:

    Yes, I am speaking metaphorically and metaphysically, and of course I generally explain what I mean to people, as they are usually interested enough to ask for clarification. ;)

    It's a shame you believe they are "spiritual wishy-washy statements". It is such beliefs that can sometimes hold us back. We all have these beliefs, that's for sure, and the best thing we can do is, like we've been talking about, be aware of them and act to drop such restrictions.

    Yes it can. An action coming from a need without being influenced by learn behaviour, memories and emotions, is a true action The moment we let things influence the action, it is not an action performed in truth.
    As for what is "good or bad" or "moral and immoral" those things are learnt beliefs that will effect an action, and that is just a component of what I was referring to by true and false acts, but it is not true and false acts per se.

    Somehow, I do not feel you are a simpleton. :) I can only explain things in the words that I know, so I couldn't comprehend what would be layman's terms, especially for such a vast topic of discussion. I think the only way to explain these things is to ask questions and give answers as we are doing. ;)

    I know you are not disagreeing for the sake of it. If I thought that I wouldn't get into the discussion or would stop answering as there would be no benefit for either of us in continuing. I'm also not sure you truly disagree as you say. If you did, you surely wouldn't persue the conversation, as you would simply believe that you are correct and I am wrong... ;)

    Thank you too for the interesting discussion.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  11. eddy3042

    eddy3042 Member

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    Giles you are obviously a true gentleman and scholar and a terrifically kind-hearted person. Where I seem to attack forcefully with my words you flow like a willow in the wind and answer without 'attacking' back. I hope that the practise of meditation has half the effect on me as it has obviously had on you. I realize now that we actually seem to see eye to eye on most of these topics.

    That said, it also seems pretty obvious that we actually 'meditate' (sorry - using it as a verb not an ideal state) in fundamentally different ways. Some images come to mind to show what I think the difference might be. Of course there is no one right way to practise but this fundamental difference intrigues me.

    My way might be seen as climbing a mountain where there's a kind of rigorous effort (mental effort) for most or all of each 'sit' but sometimes I make it to the peak of that mountain and the object kind-of drops away and effortless awareness prevails. (That effortless awareness happens rarely by the way but much more easily with Lifeflow (I think))

    The image that comes to mind for your way is not ascending with effort but allowing yourself to sink downwards (I'm picturing quicksand or swampy quagmire) into awareness with no-effort. From what you've written I'm assuming you usually are 'letting go' of the mantra fairly early into each sit? The way you actually use the mantra not really as a focus point but rather as something that kind-of naturally draws you into awareness is what I'm finding hard to comprehend. I haven't actually listened to the Discover Meditation downloads on this site yet so perhaps that will clarify this for me.

    If you agree with this sort of image my question is - Have you always practised that way or did you start off doing something that more resembled my way? I ask this because I think if I tried to meditate your way I'd be lost at sea so to speak. This is because in most books I’ve read it says that a base level of concentration is necessary before moving on to pure awareness practise. And it's obvious to me that I don't have that base level of concentration at all yet! But I will endeavour to learn more about the mantra method on those downloads.

    Thanks Giles
     
  12. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Indeed we do, and I don't think you are attacking, rather you are seeking answers and understanding, as we all are. ;)

    It's fine to use it as a verb, most people know it that way and understand it is referring to the technique being used to enter the meditative state rather than being the meditative state itself. This is the way of language. :rolleyes:

    "sink", "quicksand or swampy quagmire", these are just contrasting images to your own experience. I wouldn't necessary describe the meditation technique I most commonly do in such a way, but as a contrast to the method you desribe as your own technique, it will suffice as a illustrative way of describing my technique.

    Let me recount to you a couple of things that your description has brought to mind that I have observed in my own life but hadn't really equated particularly to my "spiritual" practice until now, both relating to your analogy of climbing a mountain...

    I enjoy going out walking in the countryside with my partner and our friends, often picking places to walk that we haven't been to before. On this one particular walk during summer last year, we headed to a new place and had figured out a reasonably long circular route. It was a lovely walk and the last stretch involved a long stretch (about 1.5 miles) of continuous uphill to get back to the car. Now, bearing in mind we'd already walked a good distance and our feet and legs were obviously feeling it, the others who I was walking with really got it into their minds that this last stretch was going to be a killer, and they even imposed this belief on me... at the start of it. Sure enough we all started walking up, concentrating on the hill ahead of us and how much effort it was taking to walk, but then I had a flash of insight (for want of a better way of putting it). I chose to look at the hill as thought it were level ground with simply a higher level of gravity rather than being an obstacle that was difficult to climb, and from that point on, each footfall became effortless. It was no longer a hill, no longer hard work, no longer something that was a challenge, and I continued on at a good pace all the way back to the car. When we reached the top, the others commented on how out of breath they were and how they were knackered, but queried why I wasn't. The answer was that had rid myself of the belief that the hill was a challenge requiring effort and seen it for what it truly was, a means for me to get from A to B; no more effort than any other route I could walk.

    The second relates to regular walks we do with one of our neighbours each week. Again it relates to how effortlessly I choose to let the walking be. The purpose of these weekly walks is because my partner and this neighbour (and her daughter sometimes) wish to exercise regularly and keep fit, so we walk locally and it can sometimes be quite downhill and uphill. Again, I choose for the hills to be effortless and again I can walk them without getting out of breath. Even when I'm walking on the flat, it seems effortless. The neighbour has obviously noticed this in me, because she often comments "Giles, your floating again!" when she observes how I'm walking.


    Things don't have to be an effort. They don't require concentration, because to concentrate on them will bring forth pre-conceived ideas of them and create effort. By simply practicing at being aware and letting that awareness come forth, we can let it trigger a choice when we need it, and that choice can be to simply let go. It sounds easy, and it can be, if you choose for it to be. If you believe it's not easy, then it's you (your pre-conceived ideas, memories, lifestle etc.) that is getting in the way and you have to first make the choice that it can be easy. Now that can be the the bit that people find difficult.


    Well I won't lie, yes of course I started off doing it in such a way that effort was involved. The first sorts of meditations I regularly did were guided meditations, requiring focus and concentration on what was being said. Whilst sometimes I did enter a good or deep state of meditation this way, it would often require so much effort that, upon coming out of the meditation, I (and the others in the meditation group) would be saying that we felt very relaxed (and ready for bed!). It would actually take energy from us to do the meditation.

    Since learning the unfocussed (mantra) meditation, and being taught that I should "invite" the mantra to come in how it chooses, rather than focus on it or make it happen, or try to hold onto it, the meditative state happens more regularly and easily and appears to be a deeper state of awareness. Then when I finish meditating this way, I come out of it and feel awake and alert, not drained of energy, but rather re-energized.

    This is a self limiting belief. What is stopping you from letting this belief go? :rolleyes:

    Do the books say why such concentration is necessary? Does the practice of meditation have to be so structured that we can't access pure awareness right away? After all, pure awareness is the natural state ("our birth right" as one of my teachers like to refer to things) and it is this natural state that is covered by all the thoughts, emotions, memories etc. Of course, we can choose to take things step by step, and it's entirely up to us as individuals. I think we call it a "fear of the unknown", which prevents us from just giving it a go straight away and seeing what happens. Even then, if we give it a go, we will have fears (ideas, thoughts etc.) that creep in and may sabotage the action, for that go, but it doesn't mean we have done anything wrong, it just means we can have another go, and another... and another... ;)

    As I think I mentioned in my previous post, the only concentration that I can see is required, is the concentration to take us away from our daily routine and give us the discipline/dedication to actually choose to sit down and practice meditation.

    It may be that you can't achieve that, simply because you are attempting to enter a state of awareness and you are attempting to concentrate at the same time; when the truth is that awareness and concentration are mutually exclusive. You are already finding yourself entering periodic states of awareness when you pracrtice meditation, but you also become aware at that point that you have lost the concentration and then fear (that you're not doing it right, and fear perhaps of staying in awareness) manages to attach itself and drags you out of the awareness to the comfortable concentration that you are familiar with.

    Why not practice your meditation again, only this time choose to stay in the awareness and choose to let the concentration go when it goes. If any thoughts (fears) arise as the concentration goes, simply choose to let them pass too.

    I can't recall how much detail Michael goes into on the downloads. I've have another listen myself and see...

    Hugs

    Giles
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
  13. Bryan555

    Bryan555 Member

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    Thank you, Giles. This post is more than a year old, but I'm new here and just stumbled upon it. Very nice summation...and gives me plenty of food for thought, concerning my own mediation. I particularly like your take, at the end, on how to use -- and perhaps how not to use -- the Lifeflow tracks. Very helpful for a newcomer.
     
  14. M L K

    M L K Member

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    And thank you, Bryan, for bringing my attention to this older post. :) I too found the discussion clarifying. Thank you, Eddy and Giles.
     
  15. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    :)

    It has been good to re-read this myself.
    Thanks for the thanks. ;)

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  16. Bryan555

    Bryan555 Member

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    Actually, this forum is full of really valuable stuff that's kind of tucked away and forgotten. As a newcomer, I've been "nosing around" a lot. It's natural for members to be interested in the newest posts. But, since many of us weren't here a year ago, or even a month ago...most of the real "nuggets" are actually hiding in the older posts.

    Must say that I really admire Giles, who put so much effort into the above discussion. My own take is that we are each having a unique version of a shared experience. That's a pretty cool thing. My own meditation is quite different than either Giles or Eddy. But I learned so much from their discussion. As a new member, I'm very grateful for that.
     
  17. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Much gratitude to you. Now please stop as my mind is blushing :eek:
     
  18. Mikemeditation

    Mikemeditation New Member

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    breathing and watching

    hi I am new here but I have to say that watching breath is probably the single technique that can speed you n the meditative path.

    regards
    Mike
     
  19. Anglepen

    Anglepen Member

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    May I just add a note to the original poster that meditation using the breath as a single concentration point is not, imo, Vipassana as a whole but merely Anapanasati/Shamantha used as a first stepping stone into the more diverse practices of Vipassana.
    The methods I have read of Vipassana use not a single point of concentration but a multi faceted approach using various stimuli (wrong choice of word I know)
    I see Vipassana as a more 'Insight' method, using the breath to calm and settle the mind and then using various feelings, sounds, thoughts even, and emotions to add stimulii (that word again) to the meditation.

    Of course I may be wrong and the various methods of meditation I feel are unnecessarily complicated and 'in depth' and I feel they can deter practitioners from become more deeply involved and immersed and possibly branching out into other methods.

    I myself have been guilty of reading far too much in the past and becoming so concerned I wasn't doung a particular method correctly I became stressed out and failed to really enjoy and benefit from my sessions.
     
  20. peanutbutter

    peanutbutter New Member

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    Hello,

    I am very new to the world of mindfulness and meditation, but I envy those that seem so concentrated and focused when they do meditate. I find myself always distracted even if i try focusing on my own breathing! My mind seems to wander off often! Can anyone give me tips? I would really appreciate them. Thanks!
     

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