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My goal with meditating was related to improving my concentration for academic reasons. At first I came across a method of meditating where I count out my breadth and avoid thinking of idle thoughts.

I had a lot of success with this method and was able to focus much more but at a later point I grew curious on what happened if I didn't count at all or didn't pay attention to my breadth at all. So I repeated this process which was now easier just without any counting or attention. I again had success but my mind was very much blank at all times, it gave me some fright, I wasn't sure if it was going to be something harmful since I usually pick up on tiny details that relate to whatever I am doing but now my mind was just blank, so I stopped practising meditation as a whole for a while.

I have recently discovered that a lot of things I have been attempting already exist so I am wondering if:

  • There are any better ways then what I have been doing to achieve higher levels of sustained concentration?

  • What end results I will face if I venture back into completely clearing my mind rather than improving its ability to focus through breadth counting?

  • If there are other components that seem useful to my goal that certain kinds of meditation can improve?

  • I also don't have much of an opinion on the forehead sensation that is commonly called a third eye but I can control it at will, I would also be wondering if there is anything particularly special about increasing the sensation or not?

Any help is kindly appreciated. I have also been gradually resuming my breadth counting meditation with success.


(edited to add:)

I am happy and my mind is calm but it is filled with songs and memories that I like but are not related to the task I am working on and as a result get me distracted from it. As such I wanted to make my thoughts silent at will so I can keep focusing on tasks which make me less happy than my thoughts do.

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To answer the last part i.e. "my mind is calm but filled with songs and memories that I like but are not related to the task I am working on and as a result get me distracted from it. As such I wanted to make my thoughts silent at will so I can keep focusing on tasks which make me less happy than my thoughts do."


I wish I could just answer your question -- "what meditation practice improves my ability to concentrate on work?" -- without having to refer to other bits of Buddhist doctrine which you might not like.

However ...

I happen to know that the suttas do warn against music, for example -- saying that music can become an obsession, that when it ends you might obsessively seek more of it. Not that it's forbidden to laypeople, but still -- that can be a consequence. In fact that (i.e. to be "catchy") is maybe the point of music, that's (by definition) the kind of music people listen to and remember.

More sweeping/genrally than that, it warns against "delighting" in "pleasant" experiences, because you may become "attached" to those experiences.

It's possible that what you're describing -- distracted by pleasant memories -- is a symptom of that.

I think that some of the Buddhist doctrine (e.g. in the suttas) includes something like:

  • Try to do things because they're morally good/worthwhile, not because they're sensually pleasant
  • Beware that sensual delights are attachment-forming, which (attachments) can be debilitating and (eventually) a cause of suffering -- which is counter-intuitive at first, you might not think "sensual delights" would result in "suffering" or "unsatisfactoriness", you might think the opposite
  • Become good at (e.g. by practising) detaching from or letting go of certain thoughts -- if you're addicted to something harmful then that thing will be a recurring thought, that thought will recur -- and maybe you need to be skilled at a) recognising b) abandoning the thought when it does occur.
  • The Buddhist doctrine about abandoning "self view" or "identity view" might help with that -- because having views like "this is my music and my experiences which I like, which are part of me" makes it harder to discard them -- to say "that's just a thought" (instead of "that's my thought"), and to switch the thought off (or "cut it off at the root") instead of pursuing it ... you can do that with a sight, for example, if you see something attractive you can choose to look away instead of gazing at it, and similarly with a thought, just look away ... thinking is described as a 6th sense, like the other five, e.g. sights are visual objects and thoughts are mental objects.
  • Concentrate instead on what's moral, on what's good to do -- and align what you want to do with what's moral to do (where "moral" might mean e.g. harmless, beneficial, generous, perhaps even liberating)

I might say something about "seclusion" too but who knows what -- and being energetic or active, determined, e.g. doing a variety of only good things and practising well or constantly, instead of only passively consuming sensual experience.

In that way, "focusing on tasks which make me less happy than my thoughts do" is maybe no longer a problem:

  • Because thoughts (e.g. attaching to memories) don't make you especially happy, especially when they're distracting, and you're practised at dropping distractions
  • Because what does make you happy is "focusing on whichever task[s] which you decide it's right and proper (moral) to focus"

It's hard to know what to reference as related, since I don't know how much technical vocabulary you understand. But for some further reference, see for example Improving Sati-Sampajañña (situative wisdom) which was posted recently.

  • similarly with a thought, just look away An alternative is to look at the thought as if you were a lion -- the thought will go away. – ChrisW May 10 at 15:14
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sure here is the way to set the citta into right samadhi, contrary to whatever wrong samadhi you have developed, with this sutta https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn55/sn55.040.than.html, it is first physical seclusion, which means less distraction, fewer objects cognized, then it is mano which has piti and the kaya has passambhati then sukhaṃ vediyati, and the citta has sukhha then samadhi.

the way to get piti with mano is to sort out your Vitakkas with sati, ie satisampajanna, Satipatthana, ie knowing when a Vitakka arises, then judging it as either wholesome or not, and knowing when it vanishing , and if it is unwholesome dropping it by thinking of something good [instead of letting the bad thought proliferate] and when you have wholesome thoughts, you get glad to have wholesome thoughts. Same thing with feelings and perceptions.

In other words, when you have good thoughts, you are happy and when you are happy the citta is calm and enters samadhi.

Of course, before that, you must learn what is wholesome and not wholesome, because puthujjanas do not know what is good and what is bad, and buddha explains that here https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.009.ntbb.html

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