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I have asked questions many times here, and I have come to the conclusion that my mind easily tricks me. I speculate and doubt to a very great extent, and feel aversion to fear and effort; I will easily try to avoid such states.

I feel these are all symptoms of an ungathered mind. For example, I often feel afraid of getting hurt from running as exercise, or just that it is too effortful; the consequence is that I avoid it. Similar with meditation, wherein I find sitting too effortful.

But with meditation, there arises another problem: I also doubt, but I doubt all aspects of meditation. I doubt mostly the breath, and whether it is the right object, and whether I am meditating correctly. Ironically, I have read in meditation texts that the breath is the object best used against speculation and delusion.

But, no matter how I examine the matter, I'm still uncertain that breathing meditation is right for me; I always tell myself "Maybe it represses my emotions," or "Such a person advised against it," or even "Maybe I'm meditating all wrong."

Are these obviously just doubts which, despite seemingly seeing this, I cannot shake? Does anyone have other advice on this?

  • I don't see how sb can answer this question when truly you are the one who needs to examine himself,I would suggest to listen to your thoughts not control them – user13064 Jun 15 '18 at 18:36
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It seems pretty clear to me that your mind is divided. There is a conflict between a superficial mind and a deep mind. The superficial side is the hunting dog mind that gets excited about ideas it gets from the world of people: "Oh! I should exercise!", "Oh! I should meditate", "Oh! They say this would be good for me!", "Oh! They say this is the right thing to strive for!". While the deep mind is not so gullible and does not want to run around like a hunting dog chasing pigeons. As a result of that, you get this sense of fighting between something you think you "should" do on one hand, and not really feeling like doing it, on the other.

This happens when we lose touch with our deeper mind and identify with the superficial. In fact, our deeper mind is always the closest, but we tend to learn to suppress it. Nevertheless, it makes its presence felt by resisting the efforts of superficial mind. Good news is, the fact that it can resist so well, means that it is strong - despite you not giving it a chance to live and express itself.

What my teacher recommended in this case, is to take a step back and see at what point you have alienated a part of yourself. What usually happens is, we want to get something we really want (a job, a girlfriend, a particular place of living), that happens to be incompatible with the deep part of ourselves. At this point we make a deal with our deep mind and ask it to step aside and shut-up for a while, which it kindly does out of its spirit of all-acceptance that is its main characteristic. Deep mind is a mind of great love. So it agrees to step aside, like a good dog, or a favorite childhood toy, or a magic creature from the fairy-tale which used to be our best friend and now gets completely forgotten. The compromise grows and grows, until our life turns into a city without [dogs|toys|magic], but the feeling of something missing remains, and something forgotten reminds of itself through that resistance and doubts.

What my teacher recommended in this case is to sit down and ask yourself: "what do I want?", "what do I really-really want, that I had put aside and forgotten?" - getting into this mood of asking yourself what you want helps re-unite with the deep mind. There is nothing better than getting it back. It is like getting your life back. From that point on it becomes a matter of cultivating this "being truly yourself" mind until it grows strong again. Cultivating deep mind is cultivating energy of your spontaneous fundamental goodness, your own spontaneous Buddha nature, that always knows what's right.

The truth is, you don't have to meditate. You don't have to run. Running was meant to be a way to refresh your body and stir the energy, not a way to torture yourself. So ask your deep mind, and listen to your body - it will tell you how it wants to refresh its energy. Same with meditation. It was meant to be a way to experience peace, to experience suchness - with no judgement, no pressure to reach some target state, to come back to your deep mind - and instead we are turning it into its opposite, some sort of dukkha-hell.

Makes sense? It's a matter of switching perspective. When you get the right perspective, you start working towards the peace of being fully yourself, instead of endlessly frustrating yourself with superficial conflict. It may be scary at first, to be authentically yourself, and may lead to changes in your life situation - and to temporary trouble - but it is endlessly better than trying to do something you don't really believe in.

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This guide by Ajahn Brahm on doubt, one of the five hindrances, may be helpful to you:

Doubt refers to the disturbing inner questions at a time when one should be silently moving deeper. Doubt can question one's own ability "Can I do This?", or question the method "Is this the right way?", or even question the meaning "What is this?". It should be remembered that such questions are obstacles to meditation because they are asked at the wrong time and thus become an intrusion, obscuring one's clarity.

The Lord Buddha likened doubt to being lost in a desert, not recognising any landmarks.

Such doubt is overcome by gathering clear instructions, having a good map, so that one can recognise the subtle landmarks in the unfamiliar territory of deep meditation and so know which way to go. Doubt in one's ability is overcome by nurturing self confidence with a good teacher. A meditation teacher is like a coach who convinces the sports team that they can succeed. The Lord Buddha stated that one can, one will, reach Jhana and Enlightenment if one carefully and patiently follows the instructions. The only uncertainty is 'when'! Experience also overcomes doubt about one's ability and also doubt whether this is the right path. As one realised for oneself the beautiful stages of the path, one discovers that one is indeed capable of the very highest, and that this is the path that leads one there.

The doubt that takes the form of constant assessing "Is this Jhana?" "How am I going?", is overcome by realising that such questions are best left to the end, to the final couple of minutes of the meditation. A jury only makes its judgement at the end of the trial, when all the evidence has been presented. Similarly, a skilful meditator pursues a silent gathering of evidence, reviewing it only at the end to uncover its meaning.

The end of doubt, in meditation, is described by a mind which has full trust in the silence, and so doesn't interfere with any inner speech. Like having a good chauffeur, one sits silently on the journey out of trust in the driver.

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Here is my thought from studying and practicing. Doubt is one of 5 hindrances, and to deal with it, Buddha said to let go. doubting about something keeps you tied down to that subject you cant get away from. You might even create an internal dialogue about the subject. This is mindfulness comes into help. To be mindful of breathing, you need to interrupt that "internal dialogue" to be mindful of breathing. Even just a briefest moment, you see that when you focus of something else, you are free from that subject of doubt.

It is a thin line between "letting go of doubt" and english expression "ignorant is a bliss".

Buddha taught us to be liberated from 5 skandha, and doubt is what keeps you tied down to the subject.

have you ever noticed that to focus on breathing, you have to drop (or let go) doubt about any subject? even if it is just a flash of light, then you try to extend that briefest moment a little bit longer.

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Meditation is effortful in general; it is tough to sit still in one place and get rid of restless mind. Restless mind would try to find all kinds of excuses and aversion toward sitting for it seeks pleasure and reward. But this kind of mind has to eventually become tranquil with training. It takes substantial amount of effort to do so, but this is training nonetheless.

It is not easy to achieve tranquility at first, it is also not easy to practise at all. It is probably the hardest task you will ever have to accomplish in your whole life.

As for doubts, every practitioner has such doubts that you mentioned. We wouldn't be humans, but plankton if we had no doubts at all. Such is the way of our conceptual mind, the restless mind, the monkey mind.

Worth mentioning is the fact that meditation and seeing things as they are is not a conceptual thing to understand. It is not in the intellectual layer to realise. No matter how you try you will never truly acknowledge this only by intellectual reasoning, the only conclusion will you ever get by this is more internal quarrel and chatter.

All of the cessation and happiness that Buddha spoke of, is to be experienced; only there you will fully acknowledge it. Remember what Buddha said, Buddhism is heading against the stream all the time.

Let Go, Let Go, Let Go (Ajahn Sumedho)

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