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Now this may sound silly but I'm new to mediating and I hear that when you have a thought you just let it go. But if I'm focusing on the breath do I go off it, accept that I'm thinking then go back to the breath or just stay on the breath and if I get distracted go right back to it and not even focus on my thoughts?

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You should stay with the breath as much as you can. Therefore, if a thought arises & it will just float away, then let the thought float away; like it is a passing visitor.

You only have to 'let go' of something after you have 'picked it up'. Therefore, if you have not picked up (attached to) the thought, you do not need to let it go. Instead, just stay with the breathing & let the thought float by & away.

This method develops both samatha (calmness) & vipassana (insight).

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Mindfulness of breathing consists of paying attention to the sensation of breathing at the nose. When you are distracted (which is natural) you return to the breathing. The objective is to maintain a state of objectivity. The key is not to avoid distraction but to not get involved with it. By maintaining a state of objectivity, you automatically engage your Bodhicitta. Later on, the Bodhicitta will become more conscious and become something like "focusing" as defined by Eugene Gendlin.

  • what is "state of objectivity"? – Andrei Volkov May 18 '18 at 14:45
  • The most important attribute of objectivity is to not get caught up by emotion. Objectivity is an investigative tool needed to uncover the historical causes of unwholesome sankhara. It is also a state of mind from which one can explore the truly vast mental universe. – Ronald Cowen May 19 '18 at 18:46
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This article, “Generosity First” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu will help you IMO. If you take to heart what he says and follow it to the letter, then,

...this confidence is what allows you to overcome a lot of the initial difficulties: the distractions, the pain. At the same time, the spaciousness that comes from generosity gives you the right mindset for the concentration practice, gives you the right mindset for insight practice—because when you sit down and focus on the breath, what kind of mind do you have? The mind you’ve been creating through your generous and virtuous actions.

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