I've been practicing concentration for a while, trying to reach access concentrataion. In the beginning of my practice my mind was very noisy (as I guess anyone else), after a while I began to calm down and thoughts began to slow down enough for me to see the way to concentration. I experienced how tracking the breath and taking in all the texture really changes the state of my consciousness and feels like plunging to a deep water. It seems that this is a window to a wide world I really want to explore.

In recent sittings I've been finding myself calming down very much to the point of not focusing on anything at all. No thoughts, no breath. I guess there's still thoughts and activity but my mind is not in tune to any of them in particular. While this can fell quite good, I think its retarding my practice. I notice that its now hard to track the breath in the same way, its like the mind is being lazy and wants to slip into the comfort of being dull. There's no texture to the breath and it now feels more distant.

What can I do to overcome this state of torpor and inject some clarity into the practice?


Take your finger off the trigger. Take your foot off the accelerator.

Just sit but with a quiet still silent mind.

Don't attempt to watch the breathing.

The Buddha did not teach to watch breathing.

The Buddha taught to abandon craving.

Every impulse to watch breathing is craving. When this impulse arises, abandon it, realise it, drop it, let it go.

When you stop trying or craving to watch breath and have a silent mind, Anapanasati (which means 'mindfulness with breathing' rather than 'mindfulness of breathing') can naturally take its natural course. 'Mindfulness' means 'to remember to keep the mind' free from craving.

When the mind stops trying to watch breathing, the mind will be free from the thought of 'trying'. Not trying actually makes the silent mind more clear, more sensitive.

Do we need to make an effort to hear a sound, to smell a smell or to see an object? if not, why does an effort need to be made to know/feel the breathing, when the mind is naturally silent?

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Well, without effort attention will not stay with the breath. It will wander away or in my case disappear. – Matan Tsuberi Aug 24 '19 at 20:12
  • This comment is false. Since your mind suffering from sloth, how would you know? The Buddha taught meditation as follows: "There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to LET GO, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind. Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters & remains in the first jhana... " accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn48/sn48.010.than.html – Dhammadhatu Aug 25 '19 at 1:56
  • Well, yes I know I'm in torpor, there's still some hope haha, but I feel that I could also blur that knowledge away and be lost in a vagueness similar to falling asleep but not quite so. – Matan Tsuberi Aug 25 '19 at 8:50
  • That is still okay .Meditate on the vagueness if it arises .There is simply always a feeling . – Omar Boshra Aug 25 '19 at 13:28

From Ajahn Brahm's essay on the five hindrances:

Sloth and torpor refers to that heaviness of body and dullness of mind which drag one down into disabling inertia and thick depression. The Lord Buddha compared it to being imprisoned in a cramped, dark cell, unable to move freely in the bright sunshine outside. In meditation, it causes weak and intermittent mindfulness which can even lead to falling asleep in meditation without even realising it!

Sloth and torpor is overcome by rousing energy. Energy is always available but few know how to turn on the switch, as it were. Setting a goal, a reasonable goal, is a wise and effective way to generate energy, as is deliberately developing interest in the task at hand. A young child has a natural interest, and consequent energy, because its world is so new. Thus, if one can learn to look at one's life, or one's meditation, with a 'beginner's mind' one can see ever new angles and fresh possibilities which keep one distant from sloth and torpor, alive and energetic. Similarly, one can develop delight in whatever one is doing by training one's perception to see the beautiful in the ordinary, thereby generating the interest which avoids the half-death that is sloth and torpor.

The mind has two main functions, 'doing' and 'knowing'. The way of meditation is to calm the 'doing' to complete tranquillity while maintaining the 'knowing'. Sloth and torpor occur when one carelessly calms both the 'doing' and the 'knowing', unable to distinguish between them.

Sloth and torpor is a common problem which can creep up and smother one slowly. A skilful meditator keeps a sharp look-out for the first signs of sloth and torpor and is thus able to spot its approach and take evasive action before it's too late. Like coming to a fork in a road, one can take that mental path leading away from sloth and torpor. Sloth and torpor is an unpleasant state of body and mind, too stiff to leap into the bliss of Jhana and too blinded to spot any insights. In short, it is a complete waste of precious time.

| improve this answer | |

Keep up the good work, sadhu! Think of meditation like a rocket ship on its way to the moon. At first, you will need great concentration to achieve lift off, and the ride will be rough. Then, upon reaching the stillness of outer space, the booster rockets are discarded, and the 2nd stage rockets are then used, gliding smoothly through the void. Finally, approaching the moon, various thrusters are used to slightly adjust trajectory and moderate the descent.

Your breath can be thought of like the booster rockets. It is helpful, but eventually you will need a new object of concentration if it gets too subtle to observe. The secondary stage rockets can be varied - the 'knowing' aspect of the breath (observe what it's like to be aware of the breath or lack thereof), the perception of stillness itself, the wondering if what to do next can be an object, whatever wandering thoughts enter, your current mood or joyous state. Observe through the lense of Impermanence, Dukkha, and Not-Self. Find whatever is actually there to observe. Is there anything that you are doing or holding onto? If so, let them go, relax them. It is a process of subtraction. Find things to observe and let go of, until nothing remains.

Alternatively, you can fabricate an object for concentration. Go to the center of whatever is there. If you are in a still space, go to it's center, and the center of that center, ad infinitum. If there is a sense of joy or peace, go to the center of that. If there is a bright light, go to the brightest point at the center, and so on. Then, relax into this centering, let go of the idea, and allow the momentum to pull you in.

Most of all, relax and enjoy the ride. In the end, it is truly simple.

| improve this answer | |

I find standing while meditating to be helpful

| improve this answer | |

Six things are conducive to the abandonment of sloth and torpor:

Knowing that overeating is a cause of it; Changing the bodily posture; Thinking of the perception of light; Staying in the open air; Noble friendship; Suitable conversation.

For detailed discussion please read.https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html#sloth

| improve this answer | |

Thinking that you need to HANDLE sloth and torpor or do something about it ,indicates that there is an attitude towards having sloth and torpor .When sloth and torpor arise then that is your existential phenomenon just meditate on it.Its not good nor bad its just sloth and torpor you don't have to fight it ,flow with it ,its simply is the reality for your being.And if you felt bad about sloth and torpor then meditate on that feeling. Meditation is not about concentrating on certain feelings and handling the rest .It acknowledges existence as it is.

Also take notice not to fall in the rapture coming from exploring the breath.Maybe you got attached to a good feeling when watching the breath and you wanted to repeat it .Existence is impermanent and does not repeat itself .Meditating on that can also be helpful. Meditating on impermenace

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.