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practice

in meditation I've been trying a few things. first I decided to "count" my breath alphabetically: breathing in I think of the next letter and breathing out I think of the first word that comes to mind that starts with that letter.

whereas this keeps my brain busy and somewhat randomized, I was getting too caught up in coming up with words and not paying as much attention to the actual breath part or the phenomenal experience of sitting in a whirl. so I gave up on the words and started using the alphabet alone instead of numbers but it was too easy to lose track of where I was without concentrating on the sequence itself so I decided to just choose one word and think it every time I breathed out, just as an index of breathing. for simplicity, I decided to make it a syllable instead of a word. 'ut' seemed nice.

it works a little better than everything I've tried so far. I could just say one number over and over but numbers have associations and one can get lost in a train of thought that starts after saying 6 three times for instance and the same can be problematic with a real word and in fact while doing the random word breath indexing I started to worry about what words my brain would decide to serve me and what hidden meanings I might start looking for in them so really this is how it all came down to a syllable. first I was thinking 'out.' 'out.' 'out.' but that morphed quickly into an 'ut' of indeterminate association.

I suppose this is what they call a mantra and is not normally what they do in zen but counting the breath does not work for me but indexing it with 'ut' does.

we'll see how this goes.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
expanding_x_man
Apr. 29th, 2006 04:22 am (UTC)
In Tibetan shamatha meditation, which as practiced by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was very closely related to zazen, we just notice the out breath and think, "Thinking" when we notice a thought, image or emotion crossing our "mind". Labeling thoughts and all mental phenomena as "thinking" and letting it go was the practice. Sometimes of course, you get caught up in a thought or daydream or emotional knot or a memory, and you forget to think "thinking" and let it go. But, then you do, and you come back always to the outbreath. The outbreath is the anchor.

Similar. They were going away from the hypnotic or manipulative effect of mantras, although there are other kinds of practices that employ mantras, at least with Tibetan (Tantric) Buddhism, but you had to have gotten there first. The sitting or meditation was always the foundation. Then, you got into the fancy stuff, mandala offerings, prostrations, and finally vajrayogini and dakini practice or visualization. I never got there, too advanced.
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