Thread: Meditation is stillness, not concentration

  1. #1
    A short talk from Ajahn Brahm (just over 7 minutes).




    Any thoughs about what he said?



  2. #2
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    Spot on with the stillness thing, but of course we can't get to the still point without strategies to get there. It took me many years to convince my brain that it was ok to just sit still and not worry about thoughts. To sit in stillness. Not without thoughts popping into my head but at a stage where they merely existed for a while then disappeared. Personally I think we then get back to a natural state of mind. I think back to hundreds of thousands of years ago, before complex civilizations, before all the accumulated knowledge took over our thinking. When we would sit for hours staring into a fire, or on a trail waiting for game to come along, or even undertaking simple tasks like collecting berries and stuff.

    My thinking is that there is a natural resting state of the brain where we access what we really are. Unfortunately everything about our society, the knowledge we have to gain, the distractions provided for us, and so on mean that it's more difficult for us to get to that state. Consequently we have to train the brain in meditation and this means concentrating on strategies to do this, such as mindfulness of breathing. Then is the time to let go of concentrating and let the brain come to the stillness he was talking about. 'Right concentration' might be a better way of saying it.

    For me it all goes back to the Kafka quote I'm so fond of: “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by philg
    To sit in stillness. Not without thoughts popping into my head but at a stage where they merely existed for a while then disappeared. Personally I think we then get back to a natural state of mind
    Yes... I find the settling of thoughts and stillness is easier to access naturally, when I'm sitting in a quiet place ouside in the open air.

    (Eyes still and focused on the space beyond the tip of the nose.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Yes... I find the settling of thoughts and stillness is easier to access naturally, when I'm in a quiet place ouside in the open air.
    Me too. 'Just sitting' in a quiet garden or park or somewhere with open eyes but not settling on anything. Walking as well, but I tend to get involved in what's around me when I have to navigate woodland or climb over stiles or look out for cows and bulls. Personally I like being on a footpath where cows are grazing, but my wife keeps pointing out how many people a year are killed by cows rather than bulls...

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    I think I vaguely understand what Ajahn Bram ment by stillness, not concentration, especially after hearing about his experience while a novice monk with his Bante'.

    It took a long time (years) for me to experience the kind of mental silence of which he spoke, my personal need was to concentrate on my breath during mediation.

    Another difficulty I experienced was pains in my joints while sitting, while using a near full, but mostly half-lotus posture. All my effort was some time spent on tolerating the pain I was experiencing, until I met a Bhikunni, who suggested I concentrate on comfort rather than trying to achieve an un-natural sitting posture, which few Westerners could ever hope to achieve, especially those of us with disconnected right hips from birth trauma / stresses, and sports injuries. After following the sister's recommendations I was able to increase my sitting time from 20 minutes to 4 and five hours at which time I experienced the peace of silence, that I had only previously known while walking stealthily in jungles of Philippines, Vietnam, and in national forests at home in The States. I didn't do much walking meditation in Japan, because I was stationed on the outskirts of cities.

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