I'm curious as to what the difference is between meditation 1) with distractions / without distractions, and 2) for a long and motionless period / while in the business of motion and surroundings.

I have been practicing mindfulness in my day to day life, and I wondered whether this was not meditation, or even a complete waste. I feel as though certain states or insights are achieved in the process, but I'm really wondering the following:

Does meditation, to even 'begin' or 'gain momentum' require the succession of non-distracted states which bear a similarity to one another? I.e. by varying the type of meditation or the states one experiences, and by having some slight distractions between them, is the whole meditative effort undermined?

Also, I feel a great resistance to actually sit down motionless and attempt to concentrate on a specific point, or engage in a continuous / repetitive mental effort. I am unsure why this is, as I believe I can apply much effort otherwise.

Ideally, I would like to practice dry vipassana, and I hope someone can answer how this would be achieved in the context of what I have explained. I am willing to expend time and effort, but simply wish to know what is the ideal way to proceed.

Thanks for any answer. (Also, how many distractions can one tolerate without too much impediment to one's meditation? Especially in regards to noise.)

  • Trying to make this question even clearer, I'm not sure how to understand the second-last paragraph which contains two ideallys. Is it saying, do you want it to be understood as saying, "My idea is that I would like to practice dry vipassana, I would like to know what your idea is about the best way to proceed in the context of what I have explained (about momentum and resistance)"?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 16:13
  • What do you mean by momentum? Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 11:31

3 Answers 3


Yes. 'Momentum' requires a succession of non-distracted states. 'Momentum' is a product of purification & samadhi.

Dry vipassana itself will not result in momentum because dry vipassana uses 'noting' or 'mental labeling', which are essentially 'distractions' or 'speed bumps'. It is only when the mind 'lets go' that 'momentum' will develop.

It is like letting go of a boat to flow down a river. Dry vipassana keeps the boat attached to the bank.

That said, dry vipassana is useful for developing 'sampajanna' ('clear comprehension'; 'applied wisdom'), which is a very important factor for samadhi development.

'Sampajanna' is necessary for negotiating speed-bumps but, naturally, when a speed bump is experienced, this results in a loss of momentum, however temporary.

The scriptures describe four kinds of meditative results (AN 4.41), the 3rd being the development of sati-sampajanna, for which dry vipassana is helpful.


The defiled mind always goes out in search of distractions. That’s a given. Buddha in ‘dutiya assutawantu sutta’ –(SN 12.61) said that which is called mind, is called thought, is called consciousness one moment rises as another ceases continually - just as a monkey wandering in a big forest seizes a branch and letting go of it seizes another. Taming this monkey is not an easy thing. So you have to take baby steps in the beginning. Even if your attempt at meditation takes only a few seconds, or a couple of minutes, be happy about it.

As you’re getting started, keep in mind that you’re like a kid learning to ride a bicycle. At the outset you may need training wheels, with only two wheels you will fall many a times, you will struggle, you may even need help. You can’t just learn overnight to ride a bike with a perfect sense of balance. With meditation, it will take months and years of continued practice.

There’s a Dhammapada verse that says, “Those who always earnestly practice 'mindfulness of the body', who follow not what should not be done, and constantly do what should be done, for those mindful and reflective ones the corruptions come to an end. So in time, a day will come when you give away your defilements, and you gain freedom.


Maybe you want to balance your faculties? Like, I do walking meditation before I sit and that usually balances concentration and effort. I am not sure if effort is increased or concentration is increased but I generally have a better sit right after walking meditation. There isn't as many distractions during walking meditation for me at least, I can stay more one pointed on my feet. It gets my momentum up. Some people do some breath meditation or some other form of samatha concentration meditation before mindfulness of mind and body. I went through a period where I couldn't sit down to meditate and I also had no idea why. I probably need to go to a retreat.

  • My answer won't format into paragraphs.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 6:26

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