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What’s the definition of a quiet mind?

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by Mr Monkey, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. Mr Monkey

    Mr Monkey Member

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    Hi,

    I'm just after a bit of clarification really. I've read a few posts which mention that you should ideally only use your mantra during meditation when you have a busy mind; otherwise you can detract from the quietness of the mind you’re trying to obtain by using your mantra. I have also read posts which have said, ignore experiences during meditation (eg feeling hot, spinning, images, light effects etc) and I have been doing this, but during my meditation today the thought "How do I know when my mind is quiet?" popped up, which got me thinking.....

    Whilst meditating I normally get 3 different general things which I just continue using my mantra through:
    • Almost constant light effects, random patterns and images.
    • Thoughts pop up which I can 'see', for instance the thought "When is this going to end?" (as in the meditation) come up during a session, but I can sit back a just watch it drift by without emotion/attachment.
    • I get thoughts which I get caught up in, only realising sometime after the event which is my reminder to start using my mantra again.

    So when people talk about a quiet mind is it becoming detached from the lights, patterns, images, thoughts etc so you just watch/witness them in a detached way, or do people experience some serene total blackness/stillness which is untouched by any of the above?

    Many thanks for any help :).

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
  2. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Paul, a quick point of clarification. You wrote, "I've read a few posts which mention that you should ideally only use your mantra during meditation when you have a busy mind..."

    That's misstated. You don't use a mantra "during" meditation. You use it to get into a state of meditation, and upon entering that state you abandon the mantra or any other technique you may have used to get you there.

    Continuing to repeat a mantra after reaching the threshold of a meditative state only insures you will not go fully into meditation or even remain at that threshold point. While your mantra is going you're not in meditation. That's a common misconception that usually occurs when someone mistakes a meditation technique as being meditation itself. A mantra is an element of mind, and mind is largely absent during meditation, hence, no mantra.

    Thoughts come and go. They're part of Mind. You are not your mind. It's only a tool available for use by your awareness. Watching thoughts drift through the mind is also not meditation, but is just another technique to enter meditation. As you watch objectively you eventually find yourself slipping into that quiet state at which point you don't continue to look for thoughts to observe. That would be as unproductive as continuing to repeat a mantra. You let observation of thought go, and you slip comfortably into the quiet.

    Thoughts do slow down and given sufficient practice and time they eventually fade more or less completely. This may be for a few seconds or, for someone with more time and practice under their belt, for many minutes. Your awareness remains and is in fact heightened, but the proverbial "little voice" in our heads goes silent. There are none of the internal dialogs in the background chattering away.

    Does that sort of answer what you were asking?
     
  3. Mr Monkey

    Mr Monkey Member

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    Ta-tsu-wa,

    Pretty much, thanks.

    Also an apology, I started to read your reply and realised you've had to repeat some of the comments from your principles of meditation & entrainment post. It would seem the read throughs I've done haven't stuck as well as I thought, so a handy reminder for me to revisit it.

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
  4. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Part of the difficulty is in coming to experience the state of quiet frequently enough that whenever it shows up you immediately recognize it for what it is and relax into it. So here's s short exercise you can try that might help you experience it so that when it happens in the future you'll know what you're shooting for.

    Pick a color. It can be any color, it doesn't matter. Just pick one you like.

    Got one? OK, now, imagine that the color you've chosen has a mental voice and can speak to you directly inside your mind. In a moment it's going to speak and these are the words it will say:

    "Does a man dream the dream, or does the dream dream the man?" (You may substitute "woman" for "man" if you prefer.)

    Read them over a couple of times until you remember the words. Then forget about them. Sit back, close your eyes, take a couple of slow, deep breaths, and listen inside your head for the color to start speaking, and pay particular attention to the tenor and tone of the voice. Listen closely enough so that if you were to hear that voice in a crowd you are familiar enough with exactly how it sounds so that you could pick it out from among all the others.

    Ready?

    Listen...

    Keep listening for the voice...

    Keep listening...

    There. Did you hear it? Did you notice exactly what its qualities were?

    More importantly, when you began listening for the voice, perhaps wondering what it would turn out to sound like, did you notice that the normal chatter inside your head got quiet? If not, try the experiment again, but choose a different color as it will have a different sounding voice.

    Listen for the voice and pay attention to its attributes. What will this new voice sound like? Listen very closely.

    That sort of exercise is a part of what Zen koans are meant to do. They pose a riddle that has no logical solution and force the mind to work at solving the unsolvable. Once all the obvious false avenues have been exhausted and the mind runs out of ideas it goes into a sulk leaving behind it a vacuum of relative silence.

    It's this kind of silence that you experience when you enter into a state of meditation. After you've experiened it a time or two it becomes possible to "feel" when it's about to appear. At that point you drop whatever meditation technique you've been using and let that silence wash over and surround you. This isn't a state of trance or unconsciousness. You continue to be very much aware the whole time, in fact, probably more aware than you usually are. That's the state of meditation.

    In the beginning these periods of relative silence last only briefly, but they get longer and longer with repeated exposure to them. In time you'll probably reach a point at which you don't even need to bother with a formal meditation technique. You simply call up the feeling associated with the silence and the silence arises immediately.

    That doesn't mean the mind has been destroyed. It's still there. It just isn't in use at that moment, just as I have many tools in my toolbox, and while I'm using one of them I'm not using the others. It doesn't mean they've been annihilated. They're still there. They just aren't on stage, but they can be called up to action at any time I choose.

    Mind gets a bad rap most of the time. People talk like it's an enemy. It isn't. It's a wonderful, indispensible tool that has uses no other tool has. Mind's biggest weakness is its insistence on trying to make us think it is the ONLY tool in the box, or worse yet, that it isn't a tool but that mind = me.

    Go into meditation when it's appropriate. Use mind when its appropriate. All things in their season.
     
  5. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    If you know when your mind is quiet, you will be thinking about it and if you're thinking about it, your mind is not truly quiet. ;)

    "witness" is a good word to use for it... yes. Witnessing what is there without thinking about it or commenting on it in your mind is heading in the right direction. For example, even with eyes closed, the eyes still percieve changes of light and the activity of the brain actually causes a sort of feedback in the nervous system to the eyes which causes them to appear to be percieving colours, shapes etc. that feed back to the brain again, so you can't stop the senses from perceiving things, but just letting those things carry on without any concern or thought about them can eventually lead to a state where your true Self, the thing that is complete awareness that can't itself be seen, detaches from those senses. It's such a state that you can't even call it blackness or stillness in truth. To do so places a label on it and to label it gives it substance, and once it has substance it is a creation of the mind and not the true state which can be achieved. You can only try and describe the state once you leave it, because it's at that point we start to try and grab hold of it to stay there and that grabbing hold is attachment which only takes us further from it (such is the habit of human mind), and in creating the attachments we link it in the mind to sensations, experiences, thoughts and ideas and it is these we use to try and describe it. We can't describe the undescribable, because it is more than anything so small as a description. I would simply say that when you have reached that state and returned, you will know it. You will recognise that grasping attachment you had as you left it.

    We all percieve moments of such a state on occasions, sometimes just for a few seconds, sometimes for longer, and sometimes between other sensations (it is referred to in some teachings as the space between thoughts). A example would be when someone is sitting on a cliff looking at a sunset and for a moment they let go of everything because their focus was placed on a single thing. Often people would say something like "I lost myself for a moment there", which in truth is referring to the mind becoming detached from the Self, or the mind stilling to the point that there is only the Self.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  6. Mr Monkey

    Mr Monkey Member

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    Ta-tsu-wa/Giles,

    Thanks for your responses; they have both helped my understanding.

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
  7. helenk579

    helenk579 New Member

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    I also think so.

    [url removed by mods, no advertising allowed]
     
  8. islovin

    islovin Member

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    My first true mediation

    Hi Paul,

    I had to respond to this. It totally reminded me of the first time I actually felt like I had reached a true meditative state.

    I remember saying to myself just before I entered into a very deep 2 hour meditation...."Oh My God, I am not thinking about anything." Then I think I giggled to myself because just the fact that I said that meant I was thinking.

    It was really cool and very funny at least it was to me.

    Irene
     
  9. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    LOL! Irene,

    Yes, we get an awareness that the mind is still, and then we instinctively re-attach to it so it can scream out "Look, I've got a quiet mind! .... ooops!" :D
     
  10. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Just wanted to say that this thread has been interesting and a joy to read so far, including the funny comments of Irene and Giles ;)

    Lately I find that, and maybe this is because I never gave up on meditation since I started it about 4 years ago, whenever I feel like entering the state of meditation, it is a matter of seconds and I am there.
    I can even allready "feel" the quiet, and I think you know what I mean once you experienced it, even when the mind still needs to quiet down.

    It's almost like ever since I found out where the lightbulb is hanging, I can simply turn towards the light at any given moment, even when I am staring into the seeming darkness.
    I am always at a loss for words trying to describe things like this, I hope the analogy makes sense.
     
  11. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    It makes perfect sense Edwin, and it's a topic I was considering starting as a thread in it's own right on the forum, but hadn't got around to it, however as you've brought it up... ;)

    The same thing happened to me a while back, and I think it comes from continuous practice of meditation, or maybe for a lucky few, it would be a place they get to quite quickly after learning meditation (or maybe there are people out there for who this is natural and they known no different?)

    At first the state of entering meditation spontaneously, was somewhat disturbing, because rather than being aware of getting deeper and deeper to reach the state, I was just there, yet the usual practice of moving in deeper was something that the mind recognised as entering meditation. Without that progression down (up, left, right, in, out, whichever way you want to call it :D), the mind would snap me back out of meditation and started imposing the belief that I'd forgotten how to meditate and that it 'wasn't working'.

    It's only when I continued practicing and simply let the awareness follow what was happening, that I became aware of simply being in the state of meditation without all the bits inbetween, and it was then that I knew that it was my mind that had grasped for attachment to the initial deepening process that had caused it to drag me back out of meditation and put the 'panic' in place.

    Now, I'm not saying that this happens every time I meditate, as we all have different meditation sessions each time, some more easily entered than others, but this is definitely something that I think people should be aware of so that they too don't get that feeling that they've forgotten how to meditate or that something is stopping them meditating, especially when the truth is the opposite; we're entering the meditative state with no (or little) effort... i.e. we've actually managed to let go of our attachment to the effort of meditation.

    One place where I now notice this happening more often is when I meditate in a group with others. Because many of the others in the group are very new to meditation, the group leader talks everyone through the steps to get deeper and instruct them on repeating the mantra and letting any thoughts go etc. etc., but often when this person pipes up from the silence and gives another instruction, this briefly brings me back out of the meditative state that I've already entered.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  12. Marina_J

    Marina_J Member

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    definition of a quiet mind?

    The quiet mind experience is so extraordinarily beautiful that many of the people who have momentarily experienced it spend
    the rest of their lives talking about it. This is how religions are born-trying to describe an experience whose fundamental quality is that it is without description. If you have any suggestion feel free to discus it .Thanks
     
  13. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Having been away for most of June I have just come accross this brilliant thread - thankyou for this post Ta-Tsu-Wa - I love it and totally relate. Wishing you much peace and joy :) :) :)
     
  14. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Hi Marina and welcome to the community. :)

    This is so true.
    It just can't be described and that is the only truth of it. It is, as you say, religion's attempts to create models, terminology or analogies to demonstrate such a state that causes them all to appear different when really they're all trying to aim for the same thing (excluding of course all the control that some develop to try and boost their ego or create a hierarchy etc. but that's a different thing :eek:)

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  15. islovin

    islovin Member

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    I just reread this after Pollyanna requoted this...and this paragraph really hit home for me. Thanks again Ta-tsu-wa...
     
  16. R8tmo

    R8tmo Member

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  17. Mr Monkey

    Mr Monkey Member

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    Nice analogy R8tmo, works for me.

    Islovin, I totally agree that the part of the post from Ta-tsu-wa is well worth taking on board.

    Although saying that I've got something out of pretty much everything thats been posted, so as ever, thanks to all :)
     

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