Excited for your new intention. I'd encourage you to seek out contact with a teacher, too. I was initially hesitant to do this myself and avoided it for a year, but joining a sangha and having a teacher has proven immensely valuable to me. I also don't know much about how you will handle the changes that can come with meditating, and having a teacher to help you navigate those things is helpful to avoid deluding yourself or getting caught in traps (local minima/maxima). Not knowing where you live there may not be much nearby you, but you can find... (read more)

1Sherrinford1yCould you explain what happens during such a meetup? Do people just meet and meditate to have a fixed time to do it? At my university there was a Zen-Buddhist group, but its meetings usually took place when I had other obligations, and then one time I went there out of curiosity, I did not find it very convincing. Basically the same things that I also found weird in the Suzuki book "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind": Posture is everything, so sit correctly and everything will follow.
3G Gordon Worley III1yAt our meetup people are free to meditate how they like so long as it's silent and otherwise not distracting to others: it's simply a space for people who want to practice meditation to do so together. Many people find it hard to keep up their practice on their own, which is why sangha is valuable. We don't totally provide all that sangha can, but we do provide at least some like-minded folks you can be with while meditating and talk to about meditating. So yes, it's a regularly scheduled time when people can commit to meditating and the social component helps it stick. We don't normally give instruction, but if people ask I just give the most rudimentary of guidance: sit comfortably so you are at ease but not totally relaxed and attentive but not on edge, then draw your attention to your breath without trying to control either your attention or your breath so you just observe what's happening. If you get distracted that's fine, just notice and return to the breath; you can't really meditate wrong because you are discovering a skill for yourself, and it's better to err on the side of saying "oh great, I noticed I was distracted; I noticed something!" than "shit, I got distracted; guess I suck at meditating". I practice zen so I'm familiar with the kind of instruction you received. There's more to it than posture but the form is the only thing we really have anything to talk about, because the goal is to just sit (this is the literal translation of shikantaza, the primary form of meditation in soto zen; another would be "simply getting on with sitting"), and learning how to do that is something we don't believe can be effectively taught but is something you can discover for yourself through experiencing stillness, and that starts with stilling your body by sitting in a particular form that encourages that. Incidentally I think this is why zen, despite its seemingly large position in the marketplace of ideas relative to other forms of Buddhism to the point that "ze

Thanks for your reply. I have read Dan Harris' 10% book, and found it quite entertaining, though in fact the parts that really tell you about meditation are a small share. I also read half of Suzuki's book. To be honest, it seemed to me like the kind of text where people start to believe they are into something but mostly because things seem so deep. I respect the insight that some things cannot be taught by theory, but then I expect that the example of those who practice Zen for a while must be something that can be useful for demonstrating what a valuable practice Zen is?

Starting Meditation

by Hazard 1 min read24th Oct 201818 comments


[Update] this intent has been put on hold. Check this comment for details. This note was put at the top, because whenever I see a post about "I'm going to do XYZ" my most burning question is always, "Well did they?"

I think since about last winter I've been convinced that there is something really interesting that comes from going deep down the path of meditation. Things like happiness is a chore, the little dragon is dead, Kensho, "My attempt to explain Looking", and Scott's review of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha all were things that lead me to that conclusion.

I've had bouts of meditation practices in the past, the longest streak was perhaps a month, and I never got anywhere past, "Yeah, I do feel calmer throughout the day after having meditated, and sometimes I feel incredibly peaceful in the midst of meditation."

I am "trying to get enlightened", but as people have pointed out, it doesn't seem like that's a great frame of mind to be in throughout a practice. That's why I'm documenting my current goals and assumptions in this post, and then I'm going to forget about it for a while and look back in a few months and if things have changed.

Here's the plan:

  • 30 min time for meditation each morning, everyday.
  • Using The Mind Illuminated as a guide, going through the various stages.
  • Finishing reading the book over the next week.
  • Each week when I do my weekly review, check if I can foresee days where it will be hard to do morning meditation, and make alternate plans.
  • I will document any days I miss in the comments of this post.
  • I will document any changes in attitudes towards this whole endeavor in the comments

Things I Want

  • Fewer moments of feeling like consciousness is a burden.
  • I've got a ton of strong curiosity about how minds actually work and what's really going on in my head, and I want to have a deeper felt/experiential map of my own mind and existance.
  • I want to suffer less.
  • I want to get in touch with lower levels of my experience, and more basic parts of my mind.
    • Both for epistemic clarity, and because I expect it will make me happier.
  • It sounds sorta like super powers and I've always wanted super powers.
  • I want to be kinder.
  • I want to be less terrified of dying.
  • I want to be less scared of being hurt by people.
  • I'm crazy excited by the idea of seeing the "clock ticks of experinece" (I interpreted an excerpt from MCTB to be saying the dude was able to percieve the actual sequential play by play of his experience)
  • Increased noticing skills

Assumptions / Predictions

  • There are real mental states / ways of being / skills that correspond to "enlightenment".
  • Though it might not be particularly quick or easy, I can can make progress towards achieving that through non-mysterious means.
  • If I do end up experiencing something like "The Dark Night of the Soul" I will be able to proceed through it (not getting stuck for more than a few months (made up time scale))