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Old 02-08-2011, 01:24 AM
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Default Meditation

I've been sporadically practicing meditation for some years. In recent weeks and months I'm committing to more regular sitting. Today I had a kind of breakthrough. I was taking my meditation as medicine, a slightly unpaletable medicine. (Please forgive typos or misspellings; I'm too lazy to google www.dictionary.com right now). And now I'm really starting to enjoy just sitting there attending to breath and sensation while letting go of chasing after thoughts. It's starting to get restful, peaceful -- even fun, exciting -- an adventure.

And you?
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Old 02-08-2011, 07:12 PM
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Breathing ...

Yesterday morning: The new zafu and zabuton (Japanese words for stacked sitting cushions) certainly make sitting upright, spine aligned with gravity, more comfortable and easeful. Anyone who's ever practiced mindfulness on the breath, with the instruction just to watch or attend to the breath, will have noticed at some time that that's not so easy at first. It's an attitude and practice of just allowing and attending, not of affecting, forcing, causing. It's a fascinating fact that breathing is both voluntary and involuntary. One needn't choose to breath for breath to happen, yet it can be difficult to attend carefully to the breath without influencing it. (Try, find out for yourself.)

So I chose to play -- as often I do when sitting. To mix things up a little. To find my own way. And so I attended in a non-interfering sort of way for a while. And then I started choosing deeper, carefully attended to breaths. Fuller, deeper. Where does it go, what muscles are involved? How does that feel? How is gravity involved here? What emotions, however subtle, arise? And so on. Already I had come to a sort of calm, an ease, a quietness. Why not explore it? Gently.

I could feel the front of my body behaving as armor, as a shield. It was saying a kind of silent "no". It's "no" was felt as a dullness, a moving away from vitality, vulnerability, feeling, tenderness..., all those things I want. Or so I tell myself. So I decided to play like this: Can I say "yes"? "Yes" with my body where it said "no"? Can I breathe to say "yes"? Breathe directly into those places in my body which are saying "no"? I could! I did.

I felt the whole front of my body, the face of my facing of life, saying "yes!" I felt the knot behind my heart, in my back, also loosten its grip. I felt a calm joy, physical pleasure. And I knew I need not ever be bored with sitting still like this. This may be medicine, but it needn't be imagined as bitter, a chore in need of doing. It needn't be a strain, an effort against the river or the wind.

Last edited by River; 02-08-2011 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:52 AM
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I have no idea what you're talking about in your second post.

I do like the idea of meditation though. I've tried it a few times. I would like to try it more often. I have no idea why I don't. It feels great. I think maybe if I had someone to do it with, it would be a lot easier to push myself to do it often.
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:12 AM
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I like to do yoga for meditation. Well, it's not exactly the same thing, but I think it has a lot of the same effects. We always start in constructive rest position, which involves tuning in to your body and becoming aware of it.

The reason I prefer yoga over sitting meditation is that my mind gets restless and bored when I meditate. I know, I know, that's the whole point of meditating, but right now I just have too much trouble getting there on my own. I find that with yoga, I still stop thinking about life and thinking in general, and start to focus on alignment and the present moment.

I do Iyengar yoga, which uses props and is slower paced with held poses more than flowing from one pose to another. I've done faster yoga and I find that I never get the proper alignment in one pose before we're moving on to something else.

We often sit either on foam blocks or bolsters, allowing our pelvis to roll so that we're sitting on the front of the sitting bones. This helps keep the spine long and straight.

It's truly amazing how much of a change I've experience since I started doing yoga. The whole rest of my life has seen benefit, I'm calmer and more relaxed, I don't get anxious or worried as often, I do homework with a good attitude rather than as a chore. Even my test marks went up. My whole mind is just more focused.
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Somegeezer View Post
I have no idea what you're talking about in your second post.
It's about the practice of mindfulness on the body (as breath), which is the foundation and heart of Buddhist meditation. It may be that you have no idea what I'm talking about because you've not sat still and payed careful, extended, attention to your own breathing. It may sound like a silly thing to do, an absurd waste of time, but the practice has had powerful healing and transformational affect on lots of people. Check out Jack Kornfield's little book, Meditation for Beginners. (I think I have that title right.)
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat View Post
I like to do yoga for meditation. Well, it's not exactly the same thing, but I think it has a lot of the same effects.
Well, I'd say LOTS of things can be done meditatively, though not all meditation is sitting meditation (stillness meditation in a sitting position). Lots of movement arts are practiced meditatively, and are very helpful and have much the same kind of affects.

I think hatha yoga is a great compliment to sitting practice, and vice versa. (Regular sitting will re-align the spine in lots of folks, and strenghening certain muscles in the torso will certainly make sitting go easier!) Tai chi, chi gung, massage/bodywork, psychotherapy..., and other practices are also complimentary, I feel.
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Old 02-09-2011, 07:54 PM
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I understood the breathing thing. I've always done that. Focusing on your pulse is another good way. I just didn't understand a lot of the words. Maybe I was not reading carefully enough, but it just didn't make sense to me. Meditation is certainly very helpful though. I try to do it more and more.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:37 PM
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.... I just didn't understand a lot of the words. Maybe I was not reading carefully enough, but it just didn't make sense to me.
Or maybe I wasn't writing carefully enough. What I wrote was a quick sketchy thing meant just to convey where I'm at at the moment in my practice of mindfulness on the breath--which as I said is a very basic Buddhist meditation practice. I'm blending various techniques into a sitting, so I don't exclusively focus on breath. I allow shifts away from breath as a focus to other bodily sensations and awareness. Including emotional stuff (which is very bodily). It's possible (I can't say!) that you may have lots of somatic self-awareness, or very little. People with very little such awareness may have trouble knowing what I said, or why -- especially if they are not engaged in a similar type of meditation practice.

A lot of folks imagine / think that meditation is all about attempting to "stop thoughts". This just isn't so. It's a common misunderstanding. I do, however, think that compulsive thoughts become fewer and fewer with more and more practice.

How do you practice? For how long have you practiced? Have you had benefits?
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by River View Post
Or maybe I wasn't writing carefully enough. What I wrote was a quick sketchy thing meant just to convey where I'm at at the moment in my practice of mindfulness on the breath--which as I said is a very basic Buddhist meditation practice. I'm blending various techniques into a sitting, so I don't exclusively focus on breath. I allow shifts away from breath as a focus to other bodily sensations and awareness. Including emotional stuff (which is very bodily). It's possible (I can't say!) that you may have lots of somatic self-awareness, or very little. People with very little such awareness may have trouble knowing what I said, or why -- especially if they are not engaged in a similar type of meditation practice.

A lot of folks imagine / think that meditation is all about attempting to "stop thoughts". This just isn't so. It's a common misunderstanding. I do, however, think that compulsive thoughts become fewer and fewer with more and more practice.

How do you practice? For how long have you practiced? Have you had benefits?
You probably wrote it fine. I often find myself not understand what people have said. Even reading over it a million times, I can still miss the point entirely. I have no idea why or how to "fix" that.

I never thought of meditation as stopping thoughts. When I do it, I just feel so relaxed and inside a bubble with just myself. I first started when I was young. I just wanted to try it and see what it did. Why people did it. I think everyone has their own reasons for doing it and gets something diffrerent from it too.

benefits... I'm not sure exactly why or how, but I just feel better doing it. Feel like I gain something each time. No idea what it is or why it makes me feel good though.

I don't do it that often like I said though. I might do it more often, but there are many things I do to feel good.

Computer games are another one of those things I enjoy doing. I get immersed in it and could sit there for hours in an almost trance like state playing. It's very engaging. Music is another. From the heaviest of Metal, to the most soothing of Ambient. Ambient music is actually really good to have on when I meditate too. I start daydreaming a lot with it.
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:55 AM
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I found your comment about "mindful breathing" to be familiar, River. It's something that I was taught to do/use in martial arts - not just mindful breathing, but being mindful of all the bodies movements.
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