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I have been practicing insight meditation daily now for over 6 years. I have learnt the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition. I focus on my abdomen rising and falling and notice when my attention goes to something else which seems to be mostly thoughts and then I gently bring it back. When my attention goes to a sensation I watch the sensation for a while until it is no longer holding attention then I bring it back to the breath. After 6 years of doing this I can't say that I have had profound insight into the true nature of reality etc. Most of the time I just feel really bored and doubtful that sitting all this time is actually changing anything. My concentration is only marginally better. I understand Dukha, Anicca and Anatta but its more from reading about it than sitting. I sit for an hour in the morning and 45 mins at night. Im not sure whats going on but just feels something is missing. I read about and hear people talking about the profound changes they experience and how their lives are filled with peace and joy from practicing so I wonder where Im going wrong? As far as Metta practice goes I am told that at first it may feel contrived but if you keep going it begins to work but I have to say that after all these years not much has changed on that front either. It seems that the effort and energy I apply massively out weighs the benefits. So I'm confused about this.

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Boddhidharma sat for 9 years. The last time I was in Japan, I had an oppertunity to sit Zazen in a very old temple. I remember one of the monks talking me through the process of what I should do/expect, etc... Before the sitting commenced.

He gad no idea tgat I'd been sitting fir over a decade, but that's fine. I remember him attempting to discribe what it might be like if I have an "experience" (huge mistake, experience in Zazen can not be reduced to words).

Anyway, when he was done, I just smiled, nodded my head, and told him, I'm not anticipating having any experience. I just intend to sit... Just sit. And that's what I did.

But the fact is, I have had experiance from zazen before, not every time, but it has happened. You have to engage the practice wuth absolutly zero preconceptions, empty your mind, and stay fixed in the moment. Constantly, reducing that moment more and more until it is merely this instant.

When you are in this instant, that means that nothing else exists to you. That moment, that just passed, dies not exist. That moment, which is approaching, does not exist. Nothing exists except this instant. And then... This instant becomes eternity for you. And you are no longer locked in time.

There are no words that can exoress that experience. It dies not resemble any other experience that you can relate to. There is no point in trying to imagine what it might be. If you search for it, you can nit find it, because you have no idea wgat you are searching for.

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I'd say you are expecting something to happen. Chasing something outside, when really you need to stay calm and let things happen on the inside.

Whether anything happens or not, you must meditate for however much time you can. It seems like you are doing it, but you are weighing yourself down by burden of expectations and reading or listening to too much anicca or whatever. I am doing this too much reading around thing. So I am talking out of what I experienced. I don't care about what the Buddha experienced. Honestly. You have to drop it. The mind is caught up with all that, plus worldly affairs and loses balance. And you feel bogged down. Stop pushing at it.

I'll say it again, Drop your expectations. And simply meditate.

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Though I have some exposure to the Mahasi the angle more based directly from the Suttas.

I have learnt the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition. I focus on my abdomen rising and falling and notice when my attention goes to something else which seems to be mostly thoughts and then I gently bring it back. When my attention goes to a sensation I watch the sensation for a while until it is no longer holding attention then I bring it back to the breath.

When your attention is lost your mind gets "lost" on a bodily feeling which in many cases is a pain or thoughts of the past and future mainly. In essence these feeling are 3 types: pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. So when you mind wanders away depending on if you liked, disliked or was neutral to the new object (object which stole your attention) you will get pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations.

Now you have to let go of the sensation. Pleasant sensations lead to the craving, unpleasant lead to aversion and neutral lead to ignorance. In this situation you have to maintain Wise Attention, i.e., you have to be equanimous can seeing impermanence. Your mind should be void of any form of craving or aversion to sensations (not generating unwholesome roots), the hindrances, Vipallasa, created fabrication (visualisation, verbalisation, intellectualisation, etc.), mental volitions (4 kinds of nutriment - mano-sañcetanā).

After 6 years of doing this I can't say that I have had profound insight into the true nature of reality etc. Most of the time I just feel really bored and doubtful that sitting all this time is actually changing anything. My concentration is only marginally better. I understand Dukha, Anicca and Anatta but its more from reading about it than sitting. I sit for an hour in the morning and 45 mins at night. Im not sure whats going on but just feels something is missing. I read about and hear people talking about the profound changes they experience and how their lives are filled with peace and joy from practicing so I wonder where Im going wrong?

2 things can happen:

  1. You practice in the wrong way
  2. This practice is not right for you

Also perhaps it might be worth trying another technique. Also see this answer for pitfalls of the Mahasi technique.

As far as Metta practice goes I am told that at first it may feel contrived but if you keep going it begins to work but I have to say that after all these years not much has changed on that front either. It seems that the effort and energy I apply massively out weighs the benefits. So I'm confused about this.

Metta achieve the following things:

  1. Reduce aversion and develop benevolence
  2. Break barriers 1, 2
    1. Self, dear ones, neutral, foes
    2. Direction: People from the North, people from this or that direction
    3. Geographies: This or that country, region, town
    4. Race
    5. Species
    6. etc.

Main thing here is when you think about a being you might classify in 3 sections: favorable (friend, same race, same town, same part of the country, etc.), unfavorable (foe, citizen of an enemy country, etc.) and neutral. This results in sensations which are pleasant, unpleasant and neural.1 Before developing benevolence you have to get rid of the aversion. The way to do this is be equanimous to the unpleasant sensation noting its impermanence. If you are experiencing either Pīti, Sukha, Passaddhi wish that this peace is shared with the person. Generally people try to save good things for themselves. The best to share is the best experience you have. Also think about sharing merits of the meditation with someone. Also when there is a chance try to do it though physical or vocal action also.

Also this answer might be of help.


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In the Bhadraka Sutta, the Buddha explains the origin of suffering by giving illuminating examples. The village headman Bhadraka wants to know the cause of suffering that afflicts mankind. In reply, the Buddha asks him to think of his son and imagine that his son is meeting with unexpected misfortunes, or getting arrested by the king’s order or facing a severe punishment. Bhadraka imagines as he is told and finds that such thoughts give rise to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, grief and despair in him. When he imagines a stranger to be placed in a similar situation, facing similar predicament, he finds that he is not troubled at all with any mental agony. He explains to the Buddha that the difference in his mental reaction to the two situations lies in the fact that he loves his son with a parent’s love and is very fond of his son, whereas he has no such feeling towards the stranger.

Next the Buddha asks him if any love, passion or desire arises in him before he meets or sees or hears about the woman who has become his wife. Bhadraka replies that only when he meets, sees and hears about her that does he develop passion and attachment towards his wife. When the Buddha asks him further whether he will suffer from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, grief, despair, if anything untoward happens to his wife, he confesses that he will suffer more than these agonies; he might even lose his life through intense suffering.

The Buddha points out then that the root cause of suffering in the world is craving, greed, passion and desire that engulf mankind. It has been so in the past, as it is now , and so it will be in the future.

Essence of Tipiṭaka

2 See this answer and this answer.

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 I understand Dukha, Anicca and Anatta but its more from reading about it than sitting.

This is the place to be improve. practice 'sathipattana' for real understanding.

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When meditation brought profound changes to my life, this occurred when I was practising for around 8 hours per day continuously for 3 months in a meditation retreat monastery. The profound meditations that built 'momentum' were those where I sat for over 75 minutes, to 2.5 hours, during the after breakfast & after lunch sessions. The momentum would carry into the evening session but the early morning sessions were generally uneventful.

Personally, I have never practised meditation only for one hour each morning & each evening therefore I have not experienced the results this may bring. However, I imagine it would not bring profound results because morning meditation is generally not the best and, while evening meditation is generally the clearest (when not eating after lunch), this is only after long afternoon meditation. In other words, when I have lived a normal life, working in an office during the day, the mind is tired at night, particularly once it develops some samadhi-calmness, it has a tendency towards sloth/sleepiness at night.

I imagine practising only for one hour each morning & each evening would be good for a 'mental health checkup', to observe & manage what unwholesome states the mind has accumulated during the day. However, I doubt profound samadhi could be developed in such a short time.

  • Oh really! So it sounds like you're saying that unless one lives the life of a monastic there isn't all that much point in meditating. – Titsiana Booberini Feb 9 '17 at 22:42
  • I said it is good for 'mental health checkup'; to ensure the mind remains wholesome & in touch with how emotions are affecting life. It can also help people learn to remain calm. In summary, it has moral benefits. Regards – Dhammadhatu Feb 9 '17 at 23:12
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    Yes x 10000000!!! An hour is really not long enough to change anything. You are just getting warmed up at that point! Personally, I meditate for an hour on my lunch break and sit for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours when I get home from work. Generally I'll also take a short, 15 minute nap when I get home to dispel tiredness. You can have a deep practice living a lay life, but you have to make sacrifices! Regular retreats are also absolutely essential. That's where the real change happens! – user698 Feb 9 '17 at 23:51
  • Samadhi? You mean momentary Samadhi? – Lowbrow Feb 10 '17 at 3:50
  • Low intensive practice can yield results , subtle results over a longer period of time. – Lowbrow Feb 10 '17 at 4:20

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