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If one has a regular meditation practice and has no particular mental health issues or physical health issues - is it always beneficial to meditate? Or are there circumstances or points in time where it might be better to stop or cut back?

I ask because there are points where in my practice it just seems impossible to meditate and I have stopped for a dew days or a bit longer. Is that a mistake? Should you just grit your teeth and meditate anyway even if the meditation session is pretty unpleasant?

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I've seen meditators of many different schools talking about the importance of not walking away from a "bad" sitting. All books I've read reflect this commitment. All monks I've heard too. Conversely, I never heard or read a single meditator to take this issue lightly as in "well, if you are not much up to it, sure, maybe some other day".

There are certainly a number of reasons for abandoning a specific practice. A big one, is that we might be doing it in some improper way, or in a way that increases unwholesome states, hindrances and/or decreases faculties associated to meditation.

"As, Anuruddha, I was abiding diligent, ardent, and resolute, I considered thus: 'Excessive meditation upon forms arose in me, and because of excessive meditation upon forms my concentration fell away; when my concentration fell away, the light and the vision of forms disappeared. I shall so act that neither doubt, nor inattention, ..., nor perception of diversity, nor excessive meditation upon forms will arise in me again."

-- MN 128 (Bodhi Trans.)


On a personal note, this is how I worked with this issue: if I identify the unwillingness to meditate as a hindrance, I do not make concession. Otherwise, I stop, or do not meditate -- at least formally, sitting. (I'll make an adendum to this at the end of the post).

For example, in an individual sitting, if it's just hard, I'm in discomfort, or I wish to be doing something else, I make all the effort necessary to continue until my clock tells me to get up.

If I'm in "unbearable" pain, I stop -- I had to discover what is "unbearable" pain for myself, so today I'm roughly aware of how much I can push making progress (and without turning the meditation into a nightmare; been there, done that, a lot!).

Similarly, if I start a meditation carelessly and then feel very hungry, I prefer to stop, have my lunch and then do a proper sitting -- no need for unnecessary suffering. But only as long as this is the real reason, and not a hindrance. I remember a few times when I had to interrupt a sitting, but two reasons compelled me to do so simultaneously. One was very reasonable, the other was a hindrance. At one time, I only interrupted once the hindrance subsided. Another time, I wasn't able to do so, and I got up. And I could tell I got up because of the hindrance, not because of the counterpart. I blamed my inattentive mind and this compelled me to be more careful and practice more.

I've observed that this -- not giving to hindrances -- is extremely important for two reasons:

  • Giving away to hindrances may hurt future sittings considerably.

    Personally, I know all I need is one single "walk away" followed by some half-baked excuse in my mind to make the future sittings much harder -- as it will be much easier to stop.

  • The difficult sittings (the ones in discomfort, with a strained, confused, non-concentrated and noisy mind, in "non-ideal" places or circumstances, etc), may be instrumental for upcoming progress.

    I've personally had experiences with periods (days, months) of meditation that seemed like walking in the desert, going nowhere, and individual sittings that felt just terrible, but were so very important.

    Years later, I noticed the "desert" was due to me not knowing some basics of meditation (for instance, what to do with hindrances...as a zen trainee, unfortunately, I was never introduced to these basic concepts and what to do about them). In other words, I'd say I was unskillful.

    But when skills are in place, that's the whole point of meditating when hindrances are present, however strong: we're supposed to master them. And, I guess, that is what makes these difficult sittings feel so special; when we sit again later and it's....something else entirely.

    So, I think once one develops, for example, some minimum skills with hindrances and is able to roughly replicate a "deeper state", these terrible sittings are seen just like the first week at the gym: a warm up (or simply actual work: even though we are displeased, muscles grow stronger -- I've observed the same happening with mind). Provided one is exercising correctly, otherwise it is just painful and possibly damaging.

So, revising (and concluding) from what I stated earlier: I would continue the sittings if (a) I'm seduced to not meditate because of a hindrance; and (b) this is the n-th sitting (for some small n, like 4) that is not good / without progress; otherwise it probably means I'm doing something wrong, and I better figure that out, perhaps, by other means, like studying.

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It is always beneficial to meditate with a sight. Meditation is related to enlightment and insight by looking into something with clarity & precision, seeing each component as distinct and seperate, piercing all the way throught so as to percieve the most fundamental reality of that something (what is your current sight). In simple it is about clarity of a mind (your mind) that in a relaxed mode (a mind that don't fall into rush). Perheps there's impermanence (as per satipatthana.. Sutta) which lead to impermanence of the self-view. The meditator first explor his body than his mind. Then the 4 characters of himself come forward. 1. Appearing & ceasing. 2. Disappearance of effort and point 1. Even. 3. Joy also disappears, there's only happiness and concentration. 4. The forth jhana arises characterised by purity of mindfulness due to equanimity (only on the part of meditator or translator). By Summerising all these points and accepting the effect i get that the possibility of evenness of mind come into existence. But soon that all get disappeared, may be because of lack of the stream/flow. Then i tried to understand the characters of my mind. One is i lost the steadiness of my mind towards my sight. Second is i had lost the stream/flow. Then By putting more effort and concentration i came to know that it is very necessary to keep alive or to stay adhered to my sight (point of sight). Only then my mind can be under no stress (just by putting all my efforts in a sight). Keep the purpose/reason/sight alive in your meditation until unless you forgot it or you get yourself out of that pre fixed sight in wholesome. If wholesome isn't achieved you'll keep on thinking of that (it is the only way you can know if you doing it write or wrong). Tranquility (samatha), insight (vipassana), mindfulness (sati), concentration (samadhi) and supermundane powers (supernormal knowledge) all can be achieved in the presence of knowledge of impermanence of all the phenomena that lead to a permanent liberation (mukthi).

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When you receive guests.in your house you make sure your house.is.clean.In this way you make sure your life is in order before you.meditate.if you have trouble meditating to such an extent that you have to stop then its.time to get off the mat and make.amends with your past, make right what.was wrong.do Dana.focus.on sila.make merits.Maybe visit someone you owe an apology.Meditation can be obstructed by karma that may have been repressed.for.so.long but has now just came up to the surface.and you cannot.meditate your problems away.sooner or later you have to face it.Then when you sit again you will find your karma has allowed you to resume.you can see the.problem clearly.see it arise and fall.but if you have trouble getting there in the first place then you have to clean the house.its all about balance.that will.lead peace.of.mind.to.concentration and to wisdom. It is.always beneficial.to.meditate.so beneficial that.sometimes you.have to get off the mat.and remove the obstacle that is.keeping you.from.meditating

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It's always beneficial to meditate properly. Meditation goes wrong when we don't have the right ideas and attitude.

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from my experience, I dont make meditation more difficult than what it has to be.. i would watch my breathing like a curious scientist watches things on his slide via microscope. it is quite pleasant for me

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