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I'm doubting if I will be able. Not even a single breath my mind stop talking. I start with metta and try to sit for at least half an hour to an hour a day. I don't skip even a single day. It's a huge effort and I am starting to feel disappointed.

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    Which type or types of meditation do you practice? – C Smith Jan 28 '18 at 1:15
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    I attended two vipassana retreats of ten days, where I learned metta anapana and vipassana. But at home I have been doing mainly anapana and metta because I thought I needed to be able to concentrate on breathing at least a bit to then start vipassana. But it's just not getting any better. – Marina Jan 28 '18 at 11:26
  • Possible duplicate of Inferiority because of failure in meditation – 1231546 Jan 28 '18 at 12:29
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    I think you try too hard to get, to achieve a calm mind. It will settle on its own if you don't try but relax with the breath, with the body. Just let things be without trying to control. Come back to breath gently and calmly when you catch yourself caught in thought. Be kind to yourself, patient with yourself as you would with a good friend. Each time the meditation will be different. Come with curiosity and openness to the sitting. How it will be this time? – user4878 Jan 28 '18 at 13:37
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    While similar in nature, I don't think the two questions necessarily are duplicates. This question revolves more around samatha meditation. I think we should let it stay open. – Lanka Jan 28 '18 at 15:47
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There are several things I would advise:

  1. Start with your body. Change your attention from "life" to feelings in your body: tensions, emotions, energies etc. Reconnect with the parts you've not been paying attention to. Feet are often completely forgotten. Relearn to feel everything, first part by part, then all of your body at once. Relax all tensions, sometimes there may be tensions in abdomen that take years to relax, just sit & watch it and trust your intuition/feelings which part needs your attention.

  2. Make a very careful study of your breathing. Breathing is always connected with emotions. Short, long, calm, nervous, blocked, there are millions, no - billions - details in the breathing. If you watch your breathing muscles, particularly diaphragm but really chest, shoulders, abdomen, and everything else, you can "read" your subconscious mind like a book. Then start relaxing breathing, no need to force it to be slow or calm, just watch for blockages and remove them. Just remove them one by one. This may take days and days, but eventually you should be able to achieve breathing that is very smooth, very subtle - and your mind will be the same, because by relaxing your breathing you're healing your mind.

  3. If your mind is chatting, pay attention to your mouth muscles: tongue, lips etc. They sometimes have the habit of moving very slightly and "saying" things (this is called "subvocalizing"). Try relaxing the mouth muscles by feeling how tired they are from constant work. If this does not work, try reading a mantra - any mantra that you like and that makes you feel good - it should help wash out habitual talking. In worst cases this may take a long time, up to a year.

  4. Finally, no need to worry so much about "concentration". Women's mind is different from men's (not better or worse, just different). Women's mind is naturally wide open, while men's mind loves to box itself. No need to box it. Just sit and stay open. The more open you get, the less fight there is inside you, the fewer thoughts and images will your brain generate. The metaphor for this is lion's gaze (unlike dog's gaze). Dog's gaze follows the objects, while lion's gaze just stares at everything, ready to jump. Be like a lion, strong, confident. It's a mood you can generate: bright, strong. Don't worry about thoughts, focus on the mood. Thoughts come and go but the lion stays in place, with its majestic presence.

  • Very helpful answer. 1 question. If you watch your breathing muscles, particularly diaphragm but really chest, shoulders, abdomen, and everything else, you can "read" your subconscious mind like a book. Do shoulders, abdomen breath? I didn't get the sentence. Do you mean to watch sensations there while breathing? – user10804 Jan 29 '18 at 13:58
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    In my experience, shoulders and abdomen participate in breathing by shaping the chest & lungs and conditioning the lower ribs and the diaphragm. Ah, I see - no I did not mean "the muscles are breathing", I meant, "the muscles used for breathing" :))) – Andrei Volkov Jan 29 '18 at 14:11
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First of all, keep in mind that lay life is not conducive for high proficiency in concentration, so, be patient with yourself. Inability in concentration means that the mind is under influence of counterproductive tendencies rooted in it, which may be:

craving for gratification through the six senses (remember that mind is a sense media too), restlessness, worry, ill-will, aversion, resentment, negativity, annoyance, boredom, tiredness, drownsiness, doubt.

In summary, whatever mind state which prevent you to be content and satisfied in the the present moment (independent of external circumstances) is a hindrance (and this include your craving for attain concentration as well). The cause for the presence of those hindrances are related to how you live your daily life: Pursing and indulging in those sense experiences which you like or trying to run away or destroy those you dislike. So, first you have to weaken (and eventually extinguish) the unwholesome latent tendencies of the mind.

Practice "mindfulness immersed in the body" (see Kaygatasati sutta and Satipatthana sutta) during your daily life. Be always mindful, do not let yourself be carried away in the agreeable aspect of the sense experiences, attend to it as a whole, turn your attention to their drawbacks, see how shallow, brief, unsatisfactory it is and as you crave for these experiences, it causes tension, discontentment and uncertainty ruining your peace of mind. A good simile used by the Buddha to illustrate the pursue of gratification through the sense medias:

MN 54

"Suppose a dog, overcome with weakness & hunger, were to come across a slaughterhouse, and there a dexterous butcher or butcher's apprentice were to fling him a chain of bones — thoroughly scraped, without any flesh, smeared with blood. What do you think: Would the dog, gnawing on that chain of bones — thoroughly scraped, without any flesh, smeared with blood — appease its weakness & hunger?"

"No, lord. And why is that? Because the chain of bones is thoroughly scraped, without any flesh, & smeared with blood. The dog would get nothing but its share of weariness & vexation."

"In the same way, householder, a disciple of the noble ones considers this point: 'The Blessed One has compared sensuality to a chain of bones, of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks.' Seeing this with right discernment, as it actually is, then avoiding the equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity, he develops the equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness, where sustenance/clinging for the baits of the world ceases without trace."

And how to uproot those counterproductive latent tendencies:

AN 9.41

"[Buddha]: Even I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, thought: 'Renunciation is good. Seclusion is good.' But my heart didn't leap up at renunciation, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace. The thought occurred to me: 'What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'I haven't seen the drawback of sensual pleasures; I haven't pursued [that theme]. I haven't understood the reward of renunciation; I haven't familiarized myself with it. That's why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace."

Remember that this is meditation as well and has to be done repetitively in order to weaken the hindrances. Always use the Four Noble Truths as guidelines to evaluate your current mind state:

  • Stress is to be investigated
  • The cause of stress (craving) is to be abandoned
  • The cease of stress (with abandonement of craving) is to be realized
  • The path (Noble Eightfold Path) leading to the complete cessation of stress is to be developed

Alongside, be virtuous, be generous, pratice metta indiscriminately, cultivate genuine interest for the welfare of all beings. Goodwill (metta) is the healthiest nutrient for the mind because doesn't have drawbacks and support concentration. Enventually, you will learn to be in a agreeable mood without relaying in external circumstances and then concentration will happen naturally.

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Based on your meditation background and current focus, it appears that perhaps you have cast your net too far to catch the kind of fish that you are looking for.

As juvenile as this may seem, I stayed with guided meditation for some time before progressing further to a primarily breath based focus. Two helps: for guided meditation, I used and still use at times the “Insight Timer” app. Not only does it have the meditations, but also a timer for solo timed meditation, and groups that one can join of varied meditational topics for ideas and support, inspiration, motivation, etc. The second helper is YouTube video talks/Facebook groups and books of Thanissaro Bhikkhu. He makes breathing meditation interesting, “easy”, and above all his style is light but enlightening.

I used analogy on another group to which I belong which may also be beneficial here. This though in terms of keeping the mind focused, free from chatter. If it ever truly gets that way.

One takes an aspirin for a headache. The ache does not subside instantly, it takes time for the medicine to work. And, when one aspirin doesn’t do the job, it may take another to relieve the pain.

Point is, keep at it. Over time you will be successful. It takes some longer than others. You will make it!

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"Not even a single breath my mind stop talking"

This the Anatta nature of the mind. This shows you that the mind is neither you nor yours.

It's a huge effort and I am starting to feel disappointed

This is the Dukkha nature of the mind. It's uncontrollable, unpredictable, impermanent and wanting to make it behave in a certain way causes suffering.

So why don't you stop trying to control the mind and try to gain some wisdom by simply observing what is happening instead of trying to make things happen?

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You actually ARE concentrating -- People mistakenly believe that to meditate is to calm the mind. That is actually not the object of meditation at all (although it may be the result down the road after a lot of practice).

The object of meditation is to notice when your mind is wandering or "thinking".....which you are obviously doing! That part of your brain that notices your mind has wandered is the part of the brain you exercise each time you notice.

Our brains all tend to run wild creating a lot of noise in our heads- but it's a different area of the brain that is aware your mind is "thinking" (almost like there are two of you in there).

Meditation is basically when you focus on something, you notice your mind wandered, you bring yourself back to whatever your focus was. That part of your brain that notices is getting a little workout - like lifting weights. So the more you notice your mind wandering, the more of a workout your brain is getting. Being "bad" at meditation is good!

As the gray matter there thickens and becomes stronger (from noticing your mind wandered), you will find more impulse control, more self awareness, focus, concentration, ability to distinguish the actual truth of who you are, versus that noisy thinker who is filling your mind with nonsense about who you are. Rather than trying to calm the mind, just try to notice where it's run off to and bring it back -- without judgment.

Don't worry, you are a very successful meditator!

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