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I was wondering, in the case of a beginner in meditation, how much having eaten sugar might affect meditation quality? Also, I wonder what else -- in terms of states altering the mind like tiredness or sexual arousal -- might affect meditation quality. What are the things to avoid to preserve meditation quality?

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The vinaya probably talks more about food. In the suttas the stock phrasing is ''moderation in eating'' is associated to good condition with minduflness, like that

https://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/anguttara/04/an04-037.html

"And how does a monk know moderation in eating? There is the case where a monk, considering it appropriately, takes his food not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification, but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, 'I will destroy old feelings [of hunger] & not create new feelings [from overeating]. Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' This is how a monk knows moderation in eating.

https://www.buddha-vacana.org/formulae/bhojan.html

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Householer, interested,

althought already knowing, heard and read often... => there is no way around, no short cut for "lazy".

Keeping 8 precepts, the Brahmacariya, is needed, otherwise meditation on lack of precepts, holding wrong views, would never arise, at least not for right liberation. Once Sila section, based on right view is complete, Samadhi comes alone by it's given causes.

To get possible some access to right view, practice of generosity of all kinds will be needed to train at first place as well.

What are the things to avoid to preserve meditation quality?

unskillful things. See right effort.

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort...

"One tries to abandon wrong resolve & to enter into right resolve: This is one's right effort...

"One tries to abandon wrong speech & to enter into right speech: This is one's right effort...

"One tries to abandon wrong action & to enter into right action: This is one's right effort...

"One tries to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter into right livelihood: This is one's right effort."

(note that this Gift of Dhamma is not given for trade, stacks, exchange or entertainment, but for ones work trough maccharia to escape the wheel here and liberation)

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how much having eaten sugar might affect meditation quality?

That depends on how much/little (blood) sugar you're starting with. Too low blood sugar levels is equally detrimental to meditation as excessive sugar intake can be.

A rule of thumb for determining what is too much is probably to stick to what's necessary for your body/concentration to function to an acceptable degree, but no more than that as it will bring you into sensory desire territory (kāma-taṇhā).

What fits your physiology best is probably a matter of trial-and-error.

What are the things to avoid to preserve meditation quality?

Generally speaking, according to satipaṭṭhāna sutta the hinders to meditation are described as:

  • Sensory desire (kāmacchanda)
  • Ill-will (vyāpāda/byāpāda)
  • Sloth-and-torpor (thīna-middha)
  • Restlessness-and-worry (uddhacca-kukkucca)
  • Doubt (vicikicchā)

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.010.than.html

The sutta also goes into detail on how to counter the hindrances. I personally find these advice for countering hindrances good starting pointers, but also a bit generic. Again, you might need to explore what counters fits you best, personally.

Also, this is a huge topic, since pretty much every aspect of the eightfold path contributes to preserving meditation quality, meaning that everything we do according to the eightfold path inbetween actual sessions of meditation is conducive to fruitful meditation practice, and vice versa.

Also, continuous meditation will strenghten itself as you go from coarse examination to finer insights. The message here is to be patient and compassionate about your struggle for elaborating concentration. Don't give up!

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