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Deepening Meditation Practice & Achieving Stillness of Mind

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  • Haca Ce
    started a topic Deepening Meditation Practice & Achieving Stillness of Mind

    Deepening Meditation Practice & Achieving Stillness of Mind

    Hello,

    I began meditating regularly two years ago. I meditate daily for an hour at least by myself. I don’t attend any group meditation sessions, besides the first few group sessions two years ago when I started meditating regularly. My meditation practice deepened in the first year or so, so that I had a good measure of inner peace and more quietude of mind. I always feel better after a meditation session, but lately I feel that I am not making any progress. I cannot keep my mind on the breath for even the count of ten, although I do bring my mind back to the breath when I notice my mind wandering.

    Still, if I earnestly meditate for an hour I end up feeling better, but I feel like my meditation has not deepened in the past year. My mind is not usually crammed with thoughts, but thoughts still steal my attention, I meander away from the breath, perhaps muse to myself, etc, then slowly but surely remind myself to bring my attention back to the my breath. Most recently, I think even that has been dwindling and I think sometimes I just end up thinking most of the time I’m supposed to be meditating. Perhaps my zeal for meditation also slackens a bit from time to time. I often listen to Dhamma talks or read Dhamma related articles though.

    1) How can I deepen my meditation practice by meditating solo so that I experience more stillness of mind, samadhi, more profound inner peace, and jhana?

    2) Do I need to put more relaxed effort into focusing and stilling my mind on the breath?

    3) Should I consider attending occasional group meditation sessions or retreats to reinvigorate my enthusiasm and diligence for meditation, or just to benefit from the group energy?

    I prefer deepening my meditation practice solo at home though.

    Thank you,
    Metta

  • Haca Ce
    replied
    Thanks a lot Bhikkhu Sunyo!

    Leave a comment:


  • Bhikkhu Sunyo
    replied
    Hi dear Haca,

    Sorry for the late reply. First we were on the yearly rains retreat (when we don't do this forum) and then your question got somehow hidden from view. Anyway, here's my answer. Hope it helps.

    It's so easy to see meditation as yet another thing to become 'better at'. Something to keep practicing until you 'get it' or until you achieve whatever goal you've set for yourself.

    But those kind of attitudes apply to worldly things: to careers, to sports, and such. You become better at sports, achieve a certain stage in a career or whatever. However, in meditation the point is to actually get beyond such attitudes. That is why meditation is totally different to other things, and that's a bit hard to get your head around at first.

    The aim of meditation is to not have any desires to become better at it, or to achieve or get something out of it. If you have such desires, it doesn't work. As soon as you set a goal for yourself your meditation is bound to fall apart. It seems like you've noticed that If you set a goal of paying attention to ten breaths, it becomes a struggle and it's not much fun at all.

    So to answer your specific questions:

    1) How can I deepen my meditation practice by meditating solo so that I experience more stillness of mind, samadhi, more profound inner peace, and jhana?
    You don't have to deepen your practice, or experience more of things! Just be content with whatever little stillness and peace you have; that's all you need to "do". And if you are content, the mind just becomes more peaceful by itself.

    2) Do I need to put more relaxed effort into focusing and stilling my mind on the breath?
    Nope! Don't put forth effort in this way. Instead put forth "effort" into just being content.

    3) Should I consider attending occasional group meditation sessions or retreats to reinvigorate my enthusiasm and diligence for meditation, or just to benefit from the group energy?
    If you have the ability to it won't hurt. But practicing at home is just as good. It's the attitude that's important, not where you do it. The BSWA has online guided meditation talks and online retreats that you can find on youtube. Listening to those before/while meditating may also help you find some renewed enthusiasm. There's also live streamed meditation classes, which may help you get the feeling of being in a group since people listen to them simultaneously.


    Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions if you have any.

    With kindness,
    Sunyo

    With kindness,
    Sunyo

    Leave a comment:

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