The Mind Illuminated archive

TCMC 7 April 2011 (1 of 2)



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Because this is the first Thursday, I'm going to be talking about the basics of meditation in this first half hour. Rather than our usual question and answer session. Okay. So hopefully that But what you'll be interested here? So essentially, I'm I'm going to just start from. As to the beginning what I would say to somebody who has expressed an interest in learning to dedicate. But doesn't really know very much about it back to the sponsor. And I think the place it again of point down that. Meditation is a way of training the mind.

That's actually the most the best translation of the word. One, which is the poly reviews for medical train training light. And what you're training the mind specifically can is if your training defined intentional stability, which is what people often refer to as concentration. And mindful awareness. These are the two things. First of all, I I like to use it word chance stability. Because it's more accurate description most especially because you avoid some of the misconceptions that people inevitably associated with their concentration.

Also some people just naturally have a dislike for the the concentration around emotional resistance with the the word concentration. So So I I will acknowledge that. That what we're talking about is consistent with what's usually referred to as concentration the name was fine. That I'm many use in terms intentional stability and explain it in a way that I I think it's more clear than just referring to concentration. And then we want to the other thing training, which is mindful awareness, which I don't think there is a concept and common and English language that even remotely the approach this financial awareness.

So let's talk about intentional stability. I first made a distinction between. Attention and awareness. Yeah so you all know about attention helps. You pay attention to one thing. That i think well you pay attention to dominates your conscious experience in the moment. Right? And we... Your volume can from one object attention to another round attention. Or sometimes while you are attending to an object something else will suddenly displace that and become. Or you can intentionally move your my attention for one to to other.

So attention is is whatever object or handle processes dominating your conscious experience and moment. Now and your experience? Although you're paying attention to nothing, you are also aware of Looking at makes sense. Sure. So we have these two ways that we're pinging in information that we are experiencing the world. And that we're also experiencing ourself, because we wanna be paying attention to what's happening in Inside around nineteen attempting two o'clock. Or we wanna be attending to something else in our awareness we're aware conversions thoughts in the background and so forth.

So I'm using with the word awareness and a very specific way you may be used to thinking of awareness and consciousness has being more or less synonymous. But I'm making a really deep distinction here I'm saying, that That consciousness, is this subject of experience. We have strict experience of That. This experiencing a phenomena that you can Not only is it direct. It's highly subjective. Yeah. It's very just finding of our reality and development. We have recollection of it and we tend to report it to to the other people we can make we can make the comments with without consciousness.

Now when I say awareness, if you think about it, I told you I was using awareness to refer to what's going on in the background. But I first... That is conscious your consciousness what's going on the background now. But the awareness itself is not the same as consciousness. It because. Well, one one way of refresh I would just point out that. All kinds of organisms we could say they are aware of they respond to their environment various this way. But we find a very doubtful that they will be conscious at least in in sense that we say that we are not to and but in big or not So these are two different things.

And when you bring as the human mind does, when you bring the element of consciousness, to the process of the awareness that creates the the context, the background for your experience. And then over and above that, we're able to further focus the power to consciousness on specific. No. Okay. So we want to develop stability of attachment. And then we also want to make our awareness mindful mindful of our spread. The incident attachment is non stable is. That common experience we have with the attention is constantly shared in moving.

And as I mentioned earlier, sometimes it is moving due to our intention, we you we intentionally we shift the attention from one thing to another. But every time get spontaneously booze, or something can in the space of our attention and displace whatever else is there. So one sentence in which we want it at all intentional stability. Is to be able to focus our attention one thing. Intentionally and have to stay there. So that's called directed and sustained attention. And initially when somebody beginning to meditate, that is the main thing that they're concerned with is is developing some degree of intentional stability.

There are other meditation methods that neglect to address this at all. But it doesn't change this time. But when you sit down to do those methods, you're gonna go through a long period, frustrate an attempt to practice in the way it's described because your retention is not statement. And so the approach that we take. That I tell is since that's the first thing that you have to have to be able to do any of the other things. You might do is if i application back. But You began working on directed and sustained attention the ability to intentionally choose an knowledge of potential and have your attention stay with a reasonable degree of consistency.

So that's that's the first goal really. Yes too. Achieved that to degree intentional stability. Now farther along, not right away, but far as it alone, word on another aspect of attention. Of intentional stability, which is a scope of your attention. You pay attention, you can pay attention to something that is very small, closely defined or you can pay attention to something that is larger or broadly fine. Right. And once you start to stabilize the movement of your attention, you begin to be aware that the scope of your retention is also subject to fluctuations and variation.

And so later on in the process, we'll do practices that are intended help us gain intentional control over the scope of our attention. That leads to some very interesting places. Once you can control the scope of your attention, Keep in mind this comes after you've already learn to sustain me attachment. You can focus on something. So closely, they become totally absorbed into, which is anti any absorption are fabulous practice, i hundred doctors. They... They they are impacting their out practice.

The other thing that you can do you have control over the scope of your engine. Was you learn to expand your earnings open it up so that it just is is wide open, it doesn't have a focus. And you can train your line to resist the natural tendency. For attention to begin to coalesce us around or focus on on whether whatever so the you're when stays open in other words you can sustain had a a wide scope of awareness that you can describe as spoken So the these are these are some things that come over time as as you develop control over both the direction scope for the changing.

The first thing you need to work on is the ability to direct and sustain your. Now the other aspect all gonna train the live is mindful awareness that's this. Background awareness. It gives whatever you're getting this context. Why you're doing it? Where you are? Why you doing it? What else is going on around you? This knowledge that is a part of your experience is to derived from what I'm calling awareness that it's the peripheral conscious aspect. And it's very important. Because it is from that field of awareness that our objects of attention are derived.

As a matter of fact, the function of awareness is to basically alert the line to the presence or something, the warrants attention. Warrants that extra high powered dose of consciousness and natural processing that that attention brings that allows us to analyze respond where make use of you all things that would do with our attention. So those the the function of awareness and much of this happens at unconscious level. It's too. Is to take in this much broader scope of information and process it at basic well, but certainly enough so that that our attention is drawn to things that andrew that field later report.

And mindful awareness, that's a special time awareness is developed in meditation is not part of ordinary experience. Mindful awareness refers to an optimal interaction between consciousness in the form of attention and consciousness and the farming awareness. Have it has the fact that if while you're paying attention to something that you are also aware, you have a bunch larger range or information to work with. And not only to that what you're paying attention to, is given a context given a much larger contacts.

Also mindful awareness. Does the same thing that ordinary awareness does in terms of making things available to the kind objects of attention, the mindful awareness. In particular. Because it is more fully conscious. Yes far more selective and the things that You okay attention to are far or appropriate. Now Somebody who does not have who has not trained themselves in mindfulness awareness, or will go through their daily light paying attention to things while I'm dang aware other things, when something really important comes out.

All of their capacity for consciousness will be sucked into paying attention or to that one thing. They will lose contacts. They will lose access to broader information. And also, the kind of information that becomes available are the rest of their knowledge is very limited because really what we are conscious of is the window onto reality that all of the rest the other ninety percent of your mind was semi unconscious processes that's its window to the reality of the year is way the contents of consciousness.

So when you become suddenly focused on something. You lose awareness, and you have no... You can't have any mindful where then. And so to develop mindful awareness this could develop a skill not losing awareness even when you're focusing on things. And then making that awareness a more fully conscious part of your learning experience. So that's about line for. I know everybody can follow the explanation of attention so leave a default the explanation of and see. No problem So then let's talk about meditation, and how you do it.

Well, the first thing that he need to do is to practice directing and sustaining your attention and to gain some control. Forward the movements of attention. So you pick an object an arbitrarily chose an object that you are going to practice directing your attention towards fixing your attention on. And first is all trying of possible objects that you can choose to do this with. But over to the course of several thousand years, people doing these practices, our real favorite. This works really well.

His the sensations are he produced on ground. His the breath is always there. You don't have to do anything to generate it. There you has it's solid like management that's sound like a visualization, it's something that's there. It's something that happens completely naturally so that you can hand it into a completely relationship with it pain completely the pass of observer. You Your attention all that at the same time, you can be aware other names. Most especially you can be aware of your mind.

Why are focusing your attention on it? And as you go along that will become a very important part on how you can sustain your focus. The breath is also always changing. It is not the same two incidents in a row. So that is a special quality that helps you in engaging with using it to the develop. Attention stability is the fact that it's constantly changing. It gives you many different aspects or elements of your meditation alter object that you can choose to focus on to a greater or lesser degree.

And to exercise your capacity for for consciousness point becoming where But the breath repeats over and over again. And carrier reputation of the breath is very, very similar to the last all earlier differences. Is. So the graph also has all of the advantages that would be associated with a completely un unchanged meditation object, and that you him become extremely familiar with. How we you become familiar with it. You can observe it as if from a greater distance, not just sear it on that sort of so opposed is so type any photos is.

So the breath as a meditation knowledge, this one that is very useful found found to be very useful over many thousands of years. For developing meditation. Really all things meditation skills I should say. So to develop potential stability, you make yourself completely comfortable and that's always very important. You must find a way to sit that suits your body and provides as much physical comfort as possible. Because when your body stays still it's going to become uncomfortable. So you don't need any additional discomfort that comes from.

Your posture than ideal. And that's something every individual needs to experiment with himself. That usually, sitting on krishna with your butt a little bit higher than your than your knees yeah. Is the best position for most people, but not necessary for everyone. And then there are a variety of different ways and even can place your legs. Everything from a full lotus to the Bur position with one leg time. I. There's many different ways you can position that. Likewise, you're anything to put that in any different places respond your d, you can touch your arms and your fingers together, but wanna hand over the other assembly say possibility.

But you will find a position that is most comfortable for you. And you need to tweak that position. If you find setting that you always develop you know, back or pain your needing your release fall sleeve or something like that. Experiment to see by using a slightly thicker push and under your butt, putting a support under your knee or whatever it is. If you can do something to alleviate that, you know, and so while you're in the process of learning the about hey, you also learn to set most comfortable work to do that.

Anybody that says this is what he to sit or if she count to meditation with his picture in your mind what y he looks like you, from the cover of ninety something. You have to sit that way you're you're you're gonna have a very difficult times everybody needs you unique. And this is all about training your on. You know, you can do... You can do yoga you can do other practices with your body that will make it easier for you to sit. As far as of meditation goes, you un find a physician of boss tar bloc that is going to be at least disturbing to the mental process.

At having as can. Closing your eyes to minimize visual distractions, then you are going to begin the process of directing and sustaining your attention. What you're going to do is ultimately is you're gonna focus your attention on the sensations of the breath both a particular location and let's see if you keep your attention there. And the location of choice is somewhere in the the vicinity of the opening of the nostrils, with the air and leaves. Sensations that are produced by that. Is a very sense that they're hearing.

If that too will vary made what's important is you find the area where you can kinda perceive those sensations most severely most rather. And it may be inside the Nostrils maybe on there though. It will differ maybe more deeper inside the nose. It doesn't matter. You find the area. The the next the size of the area could be small size canceled razor might be, you know, the size of like might be an area that or also it's possible that it might be a slightly different area where you feel the sensation.

So the n a compared to answer. None if that matters. You just find where see sensations. That is what you're going to make as an object to focus your attention on to figure practice. No. I would like to suggest that people begin. First of all, you close your eyes, you know, i have you could do this right now, close your eyes. And just be aware of everything that's happening around you, Ambient sound. Sensations, and hear body cessation severe or or you understand? Clothing. You feel the movement of your breath or perhaps sensations at warrant, fullness pressure.

Well, you're an attention to initially just freely go where it will and take one of projects checks they will. In the external environment or your body. What you mainly don't want do is have your attention just on sun thought process. And the most important thing is that you're staying here completely in the present. Allowing your attention to engage with whatever sensations the sense of hearing touch. Etcetera it happens to land on. And the next step is you gradually curtail the freedom of movement out of attention.

So the next step, is you preferential attend to sensations in your body. Allowing sounds to be president in background, but letting me attention, but freely invent from one sensation to another body. Now just a certain period doing. Well become quite obvious is that the most prominent sensations in your body or a amongst and most prominent least, you might have sore or or something that got and amongst of the most prominent sensations in your body are going to be the sensations produced by the movement as you breathe in a hour.

So the next stage, you can't just allow of yourself to be aware in the background the sounds in the background, any other sensations. But preferential attend only to sensations that related to the. And then the first the find step. And the process of but we just not you observe sensations in your abdomen and the sensations chest. And have a sensations in vicinity to sanitary nose. Another final step, this could just bring your attention two focused on the sensations of the breath at the nose. And meditation after that simple, you just keep your attention on sensation of rest of your notes.

Oh, well, they will go away here. Thanks for that. But you just keep it back keep bringing it back to the sensation to the those. Except if you have the idea that well, I supposed us to be able to keep my attention on bring. And it doesn't happen you're gonna start feeling irritated and annoyed things like that. Why is this keep happening? So well we need to analyze the process. You focus your attention on the sensation the reference? You're rewind for a little while one breath. Maybe two, or three.

Right. Yeah. The next thing in you know. A period of time as a elapsed. During which you know, he were thinking about a lot of other things. And that you had forgotten the breath on time earlier. And that's what keeps happening of me over and over again. So if we analyze that, we'll say, okay. You don't have any deliberate conscious control over whatever high lose awareness of driving. You don't have any deliberate conscious control over what it is, whatever it was but made you remember once again that you were a attempting have your test number.

So you can't to to beat yourself up and try to make it not happen. You don't have process control so you can't make the one thing not have or force the other thing to happen. You have to use sort dates? So... You train the mine in the same way you stream. Dogs and children and all kinds antibiotics with with positive and negative reinforcement? If you forgot the breath, at point a in time. And then two minutes later at point b, you realized that. Saying, oh darn and beating yourself up for for getting the breath.

Yes. The negative reinforcement is separated from the event that he would like to change by two minutes. It's not gonna work. The event that just happened though, yes that he realized that you lost cash. And in that incident, if you think about it, it was... You became more fully where I told away can you or when you were lost them thought? So this is actually more desirable to state in your mind. He like your line to be in this smart fully present or an a state. All the time. That the case, instead of be yourself up preparing for help meditation object And enjoy the experience of having come back to a state awareness that will positively reinforce the unconscious prospects that put together the fact that you're not meditating was the fact that you intended to meditate and made you conscious with death.

And so that that is the first step but you're really going to do it is too. Not it hasn't delay how your mind doing, what it's mouth to do. But to take satisfaction and in your mind doing what it wants to what what do you want it to do what you would prefer but it doesn't. So you positively reinforced the process of remembering. If we go into this a little deeper and we actually see that that Well, first of all, if you keep doing that, you will you will have this experience of the awakening that turn period of nine hundred more and more quickly.

And then you come to realize that the mind the only wander haven't to you for forgotten what you were doing. So forgetting, proceeds my model. Because first, have to work we has work backwards. So first, you have to work on shortening up period time line. Then you can start working on forget. And don't have time to continue with this, but you would work on the forgetting, and then you would realize what causes us the forgetting well, you're paying attention to one thing not else comes along as a distraction.

And you start paying attention to this other thing, even while you haven't out notation logic object. But the more time you been paying attention to this other thing that's come up the service thought. Colorado growth distraction. That is going to... That's what leads to forgetting. Then lease to the line on. And so you... In order to stabilize your attention, you work your way backwards through my ordering for getting purchase distractions and ultimately through the some distractions that become subtraction, eliminating those, so they you can stay life attachment.

So I don't think we have any new in here. Right. Do we have any new? K. Well So having believe classroom have the audience is perfect all experienced. So now now you can tell me when I do this next time, begin the. What I do different right here In what sense what I told you was why you them confusing or or not necessary or I really appreciate your feedback It was Do. I off a little bit. You. My when you were talking about attention my attention what other. So it was... Yeah. My... Also my attention been i like, not very focus lately.

So... But, if you're having new new in Mh. They're not... I think maybe. That late the... I they just to leave the fear theoretical a part until later. Nice thing that be just start out with describing the basic method and then maybe just guiding people through I mean it's more practical. Think That's right. That's a first yeah. Thinking that to my very first education experience I needed about thirty seconds. This is what we do. That good. It's right up front. Maybe. So it might be that you could do some what you do and then ask for questions.

So there's something who add questions coming into it. You get that out of the way. That's a good idea because you mean a little bit of the introduction to the theoretical part. I I think... Yeah. And really when I think about it as I was talking, I was noticing it. Well, what what is it is really important? About that is that. Well, some of the most important things are the things that people would have questions about other the people having this understanding about very and people begin to meditate, especially they have the word concentration in their mind.

They think they're supposed to block out everything else and it's supposed to stop fast which is not part of it. That's probably far more important to them the things that I was talking about today. It's just the simple things which related questions Yes right. Alright. Yeah. When I was the beginning meditating, more than one of my teachers across the experience of being new. Would talk about boredom and say, don't worry about that. It's it's okay. Beginners get bored. It's it's part of the process.

I haven't been bored in so long. I've been a lot things. Lot of other things. But one thing doesn't come up. What can you say about boredom? Well, Boarding is... That that is something that comes out board. But I mean usually, it doesn't come up the very first time two person benefiting us new and enough. You know? This too much for. But it comes up through extent after that. So it does need to be addressed. No. And I can't remember it. Yeah. Okay. Know it's more likely, I think what you'll remember is frustration.

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