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I've eliminated many addictive fetters which deterred me from practising meditation. However, now I've noticed that getting into a meditative posture leads--perhaps because of the addictions such as social media which gave me dopamine are gone--to a kind of lethargy, a low energy. I have thus a few questions.

1) I've always had trouble with the breath as meditation object. I enter a state of less thoughts when I'm focusing upon it, and seemingly it diminishes my total experience of the body, mind, etc. Which meditation object would really increase my awareness and energy? Is it possible to achieve shamatha with outer objects, or even inner images?

2) Are there alternative ways to raise energy, such as physical exercise or other things like this. Will such activities increase my meditation energy specifically?

3) In terms of interior images, which seemingly arouse my mind slightly when I let myself visualize random things: are these recommended as meditation objects? I'm a very visual person, but I've been afraid of interior images as meditation objects for a few reasons.

First, the images that arise during meditation, in my case, sometimes seem disturbing. Second, I have always had a difficult time separating my inner impressions from reality; although, to be fair, I always am conscious of what's real and what is not, but I am very superstitious and attribute a lot to images or impressions that arise in me.

If any of my questions are answered, I thank you in advance.

  • I recommend listening to talks on dharmaseed.org while you sit sometimes. Having someone guide the way is incredibly helpful when starting out. I have been practicing meditation for several years now and still find great value in attending gatherings and listening to meditation talks/teachings on dharmaseed because not only do you become attentive to what is being said, you get deeper insights thanks to the efforts of others. – sova Nov 22 '16 at 17:35
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  1. Anapana (Breath-In/Breath-Out meditation)

Anapana is suitable for people who frequent train of thoughts. If you are easily distracted person Anapana is well suited technique as meditation. Thoughts are hindrance to meditation. It is also one of Five hindrances prohibit meditator not to achieve keen concentration to clearly see the bubbles of matter and non-matter states. If you are seeing images/thinking about images during meditation, it is some kind of restlessness (uddhacca) and this does not allow your progress in meditation (whatever goal you are trying to achieve).

Please keep in mind that meditation does not help healthy body or energy. The mindfulness/proper attentiveness plus having insightful knowledge of eating habit of your own (when you have to eat, how much do you have to eat and which one you can eat) can only help sound body and energy. Other than walking with normal pace, physical exercises are not recommended as body building is not recommended for those who practice meditation.

2-3 Samatha Recommendations

Based on your hobbies and attitudes, you need to choose which type of Samatha is suitable for you. Usually, this is done when you go retreat to some meditation centers. Generally people nowadays are easily distracted and that is the reason Anapana is ubiquitous choice in many meditation centers. For the people with distraction it is recommended to do meditation in confined space and do meditation walking in open space is not suitable. There are some constraints in choosing type of meditation for particular type of people with specific hobbies but nobody is master in choice, only combination with own personal determination/reasoning on type and experienced teacher from meditation centre can do approximation.

Below are some of the type of Samatha for the person with specific hobbies, attitudes and inclinations but you are warned to seek proper guidance from centers instead of choosing the type of Samatha your own.

  1. Anapana - for most distracted people
  2. Marananusati (intensive mindfulness of dying) - for people of pride
  3. Asuba/32 Human parts - for people with strong sexual/sensory desire
  4. Metta - for people with strong aversion

There are many more; colors, four elements, and 10 anusati including Marananusati. All are for people with different hobbies, attitudes and inclinations. I hope you could find your most suitable techniques of meditation by consulting a good teacher in meditation center and make progress in meditation.

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Increasing Energy

Sustained mental activity increases energy. 1st bring your mind to the object (initial application), then bring the mind to it again continuously regardless of the fact that it is on the object or not (sustained application).

Samatha with Outer Objects

This is also possible. But essentially this is mind made object. E.g. you look at a disk try to recreate this in your mind, and meditate on this mind make object. In this case, arising and passing nature of the mentally created object is not very clear.

Recommended Method

It is best to raise your energy by means of Vipassana practice, which is found in the Saṅkhitta Dhamma Sutta. As re iterated above this is done through initial application and sustained application, i.e., you bring your attention to the object and refocus your attention on the object. Once you practice this your mind becomes sticky with the objects you choose. This increases both energy and concentration. The Sutta mentions different "flavours" the Jhana. Once you get hang of things you can try them out.

  • How exactly does one increase energy specifically through the Vipassana method which you mentioned? I looked at the Sutta but it seems elaborate, do you have a summary or perhaps an outline for a technique? Is this sutta different or is energy raised from Vipassana itself? – Eggman Nov 20 '16 at 17:41
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    Added a bit more information. Also you can try the 2 books by Shaila Catherine. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Nov 20 '16 at 17:55
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As you have breath as meditation object, and the more you concentrate , there will be a stage of less experience of body and mind. It is one of the progress depending on the individual concerned. At that point , actually no need to increase your energy. Meditation is should not be as what you want. This is the nature you have to observe mindfully. Otherwise you will not see the three basic facts Anacca, Dukkha, Anatta. If you go on meditating breathing mindfully, it will become more and more subtle and fade out, come again and again like that. These are the stages you will be observing in meditation. So try to keep on doing and never try to change it.

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Achievements. Focus on your achievements. Review how difficult it was and how you made it. Review your good qualities. Review how you are free from many problems that people have. Review the progress you are making. Tell yourself a good story. This is first jhana.

  • This falls into the trap of egocentrism and can actually detract from samadhi. Thus, it can't be the first jhana, because it defies the principle of joy through withdrawal. – Vishwa Jay Nov 27 '16 at 18:45

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