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I've been meditating fairly regularly for the past 5+ years, but have really only begun to follow Buddhism the past year or so. As such, my meditation practice has changed. I admit, I am not presently working with a teacher or monastery, though it is on my radar.

I meditate every morning, from 20-30 minutes, and then usually a short one at night, around 5 minutes. Yes, I'd like to meditate more often, I'm working towards that.

I wonder if my meditation is too 'busy'. I begin with focus on the breath, generally counting up to 10 a few times. I also throw in the "I have arrived, I am home..." mantra during this period. I then move to a short 'prayer' routine that I developed in recovery from drugs/alcohol - this is only about a minute or so. I typically then spend a bit focused on non-self, passing through the body and saying 'I am not any singular part - I am not the senses, the flesh, bones, blood, organs, etc'. This often leads to contemplation of the 4 Noble Truths, with which I sit for a bit, maybe 5 minutes or so. I wrap up usually with metta, going through the various people (myself, an honored person, loved, disliked, etc.).

Writing this I'm like "wow", I do all that in 20-30 minutes??? So that's why I pose the question here - might it be wiser to just stick with one of those? Abandon all? Center on just a few of them?

I feel like it works for me, I do enjoy it, but I do wonder if I'm sorta 'cheating' in the sense that I'm doing too much, keeping the mind too occupied in order to pass the time 'quicker'.

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The reflections you are doing are both excellent & necessary however they are the development of right view and not the development of right concentration. The development of concentration is developing a quiet & still mind. In developing a quiet & still mind, the right view reflections you are doing are used only when a hindrance arises or when grasping/attachment to meditation arises.

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Yes, this does sound quite busy. Try keeping your attention sustained on the breath, using the breath to relax the entire body in a way that feels good. Be mindful of pleasant feeling filling your experience from attention on the breath and relaxation. When the body is full of pleasant feeling and you are comfortable and satisfied within your meditation, being mindful of bliss and joy, you have reached the first jhana. Give yourself 30 mins to reach this stage. Try not counting and bringing in other concepts. Just stay with the breath, cultivating pleasant feeling. This method is in line with the Buddha's original instructions. This is right Samadhi. Subscription to teacher or monastery is not required.

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Encompassing all that you do within 20 minutes is both honorable and perhaps not the best practice all rolled into one. Simply focus on the breath to begin. It will be your guide. Thanissaro Bhikkhu has excellent videos on YouTube that make the practice seem easy. Metta/Loving Kindness meditation is a great way to end the day if you would like to continue the practice.

  • I've been listening to some guided meditation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on Youtube, as per your suggestions, and they've been great. But I find myself relying on his instruction, is that still concentration? It doesn't seem to be concentration on ONE object, rather two: his instruction and the resulting action, e.g., focus on breath, then focus on relaxing the different quadrants of the body. For some reason I have this idea that 'pure' meditation doesn't rely on guidance, not sure if that is a skillful thought. – KevinMartillo Sep 30 '17 at 16:33
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    Great that you have used the videos and personally suggest the 40 minute w/ ending which I have used and find extremely beneficial. – C Smith Oct 4 '17 at 23:31
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    Please understand that most everyone has relied on a teacher at some time for instruction. Once the skill is learned, it is taken away and used on ones own. Same here. As for the breath, it is the main focus, even when going through a body scan. You are breathing into the body - that is the main focus. Eventually the scan falls away, but then again, down the line so does the breath. Then we are left with the One. – C Smith Oct 4 '17 at 23:47

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