Questions and Answers

Meditation

This is a meditation practice that is based on Loving-kindness, using Right Effort, which is part the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Basically speaking, it teaches how to radiate Loving-kindness to both yourself and others. Whenever you get distracted, you apply the 6R’s to gently let go of the hindrance.

Below you will find information on how to practice.

You don’t need to be a Buddhist, nor do you need to become one. You can be religious, or not at all.

Please, do not mix it up with other meditation practices. It’s essential follow these instructions precisely, without adding, changing or skipping something.

These are the 6R’s:

  1. Recognize there is a distraction (which is always unwholesome), no matter if it’s a pleasant or unpleasant distraction. You don’t really do this step; it either happens – you become aware you were distracted – or it doesn’t and then you are not meditating anymore, but thinking.
  2. Release the distraction; don’t put your attention on it, let it go, allow it to be there – without taking it personally, so without fighting against it – because this is the truth in this present moment. You can’t fight the truth. In other words, you develop your equanimity to it. It might disappear, it might stay. Keeping your eye on a hindrance will make it bigger, because then you’re feeding the hindrance.
  3. Relax (soften, tranquilize) the tension caused by that distraction, in the head  and mind. If the tightness doesn’t go away, never mind, you will be able to let it go while on the meditation object (your home base).
  4. Re-smile (return to wholesome state)
  5. Return to the meditation object (wholesome object)
  6. Repeat this process, keep the 6R’s rolling

Instead of doing them individually, see them as a flow you want to get in to. It should not take you more than four or five seconds. There is no need to verbalize. Verbalization is slow and can cause tightness or a headache. You don’t have to know which hindrance you’re experiencing.

The 6R’s help you let go of craving

The 6R’S are designed to let go of craving, that’s all. They are not meant to get rid of the hindrances. They are not there to use as a stick to beat things away. Sometimes you’ll forget and the mind will go crazy with one thing or another. That’s fine, there’s no problem with that. It’s just the mind doing these silly, little things. Just let it be. It’s not yours. You didn’t ask things to come up. You don’t control it. It is present, so don’t fight with the truth.

When the mind starts to wander, you just notice it. Thoughts are not your enemy. They are not ‘yours’. You don’t stop them, nor do you push them down. You allow them to be there, but you don’t give them any attention. If thoughts come through, but you’re able to stay with the object of meditation, you can ignore them. They will fade away by themselves. It’s not that you need to 6R every thought that comes through. Only when you get distracted away from the meditation, do you need to 6R them. Some thoughts are observation thoughts; my mind is very clear right now; my back is straight. You don’t need to 6R them, since there is no craving in them. You can 6R, but it’s not necessary.

Posture

You don’t need to sit on the floor. You can sit in a chair, alert and with a straight back, but still comfortable enough to keep this position for at least half an hour. Don’t lean heavily into the back rest.

Sit still

Sit for at least 30 minutes, without moving. At. All. Don’t scratch, don’t rub, don’t change the posture. You can swallow though 😊

30 minutes

Practice at least half an hour per sit. Then your progress will slowly improve. If you practice longer, your progress will be faster.

Choosing a suitable Spiritual Friend

A Spiritual Friend should be someone who will not bring lust up in you of any kind.

  • Bhante Vimalaramsi advises to use a person of the same sex.
  • They should be alive.
  • You do not have to know them personally, nor do they need to live near you. They can be on the other side of the world. However, knowing them personally will make it easier to practice in the beginning.
  • Pick a person who you respect.

To start with this practice, the Spiritual Friend

Should not be a family member

Should be alive

Should be human

Should not be a person who is ill or injured, because you might want to take away their pain or help them get cured, and keep thinking about that. (Outside your practice you can send good wishes to them, but not during the time you are trying to develop this practice)

Stays the same; don’t switch from person to person.

Instructions

  • Start by sending loving and kind thoughts to yourself. Smile, a little Buddha smile is enough. Remember a time when you were happy. Think about a time when you felt peaceful, calm or happy. Let a warm, glowing feeling in the center of the chest arise.

Remembering a time when you were happy can be any number of situations when you were young. It can mean having spend time with a parent, having looked into the eyes of a baby, or maybe you played with an adorable animal, like a kitten or puppy. It is not a case of imagining that this happened, it should be an actual memory and you remember how it felt. The feeling is not always the same and there are some people who had a very pleasant cool feeling. It isn’t necessarily always a strong feeling either. Don’t try to make it big, just go with the flow of what happens with it

  • Make a wish for yourself (may I be happy, or: may I be peaceful). You need to feel that wish. You put this feeling in your chest and surround yourself with that feeling. And you radiate that feeling to yourself. When that feeling fades, you may use the same or change to another wish, as long as you feel that wish.
  • If you become distracted – or when you accidentally start focusing on the breath – use the 6 R’s.
  • After 10 minutes visualize your Spiritual Friend and see them smiling. It can be a picture or you can visualize them in words. Put that friend and your wish for them in your heart. This wish must be appropriate for the present moment. You feel these yourself, because you can’t radiate something that you don’t feel in that moment. Don’t repeat the wish over and over like a mantra, just say the wish once and radiate that feeling as long as you can. When that feeling fades, make another wish. It can be the same wish, or a different one.

When the sitting is good, sit longer. Sit as long as you’re comfortable. When the mind says it’s time to get up, sit for another 5 or 10 minutes to find out if that was only restlessness or it really was time to get up.

This acronym might be helpful: DROPSS. Whether it is a physical or a mental pain; Don’t Resist Or Push. Soften your mind and Smile.

Let your mind be like water; water doesn’t resist. It just flows around the obstacle. Allowing it to be, develops equanimity.

Have fun with this practice. Smile. Laugh about that mind that doesn’t get tired coming back to the same stuff over and over and over again. The whole point of smiling is to have a light mind. It makes the practice much easier.

Category: Meditation

It doesn’t have to be strong – it just needs to be continuous. 

Make sure you 6R whenever your mind wanders.  So, whenever you forgot you were actually meditating.

Every time you use the 6R’s, the feeling of Metta will be able to grow, as the mind will continue to calm down.

Whether strong or weak, just watch mindfully for the moment the mind starts to wander. 

 The longer you can stay on your object, the stronger the feeling usually becomes. 

 Don’t push, just 6R when needed.

Category: Meditation

No, please don’t do that. Let go of the breath completely, as this will help you to get deeper into the meditation. You observe the feeling of Loving-kindness.

Later on you won’t even notice the breath.

Just apply the 6R’s whenever your mind goes to the breath. Stay with only the feeling.

Category: Meditation

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 3 was part of a daily 30 -minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Slightly edited to improve readability  

For one, if you jump from one and a half hour to two hours, it’s quite a jump for the mind to get used to. So, you do it in increments of five to ten minutes. So, an hour thirty-five minutes, an hour forty minutes. That works better than jumping from one to another like half hour scales. It’s better to do in those more manageable ways. You might find it easier for your mind to say: ok, one hour thirty-five minutes, rather than jumping from one and a half hour to two hours straight.

Watch it here

The 6Rs are crucial, and the most profound is the Relax step. Many people seem to glaze over the Relax step, not really taking the time to understand what it is. It is the relaxing of the mind, body and the tightness in both.

 What does it feel like to Relax?

Relaxing the bodily, mental, and verbal Formations – it feels like a clear space, a pristine, thoughtless space without craving. The body is relaxed, but not slouching. Mind is clear, like a cloudless sky, and thoughts are gone, barely wisps, if they are present at all.

 To practice just the Relax step, as a preliminary step to understand what it feels like:

Just let mind be and then intend the relaxation. Relax, relax, relax – then, you are able to see what it means to have that open spacious mind. Then, you can quickly go to it, as you let go of the distraction, then you see that open mind.

 Some people seem to associate the Relax step with a sharp intake of air and a letting of breath. This is a reactionary aspect of the Relax step, but not the Relax step of stilling Formations in and of itself.

 Of course, one caveat – you mustn’t just Relax during the actual meditation. Once you understand what it feels like, you use it as part of the 6R’s. Then, there is development and progress, as it is intended. Besides, if you were to just relax, relax, relax, the mind would become dull, with no object.

 Once you understand the feeling of the Relax step, you are ready to incorporate it into the 6 R’s. This is what happens:

Your object is Metta. Suddenly you think back to a time with nostalgia, or you consider the future, or think about anything other than the Metta. You

  1. RECOGNIZE, seeing the distraction.
  2. RELEASING is the immediate letting go of the distraction – not attending to it, turning mind’s attention now to the
  3. RELAX step – the stilling of Formations. Mind is now clear, ready to attend to
  4. RE-SMILING, or checking if you ares still smiling, then
  5. RETURNING to the object of meditation, then
  6. REPEATING every time you see mind has been distracted.

 All of this happens in less than 5 seconds. It is a flow, a rolling of the steps.

Don’t get attached

Now, the other thing to consider is that mind attaches itself to the Loving-kindness, Compassion, Empathetic Joy or Equanimity.  

 Here, it’s important to pay attention to mind observing – just watching, not becoming the Metta. It’s an object, therefore, you are watching it, not becoming it. The feelings that come up from the object must be observed, and 6R’d if they distract. Likewise, you observe that you were distracted – not becoming the distraction by fighting it or ignoring it. Any such effort will only cause more craving and clinging. Allow the mind to do its work. It will unravel itself.

Observation is not focus – it is the mere watching and seeing what occurs, not becoming involved or identifying with the feeling or the object. This then would become absorption concentration; too much focus, pushing down insights to arise naturally.

 This is why relaxing is important – it provides the mind space, required for insights to arise.

The luminous Mind

  It’s only after the mind has reached stability through the jhanas, that mind can then watch its own clarity, luminosity, and radiance – the bright, quiet, clear mind, where at this point all crude Formations have been relaxed, and now one lets go of the subtler Formations.

Category: Meditation

Online Retreat

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 3 was part of a daily 30 -minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Slightly edited to improve readability  

Manasikara literally means; taking to heart. Unifying, in that sense, your mind with that object. Or with the understanding of that object. It’s taking to heart what you’re seeing.

The root of the word yoniso is yoni, which means the source, the origin point. There are a lot of different ways to look at this word. Like a lot of words in Pali or Sanskrit, it’s polysemous, which means that one word can have multiple shades of meanings and variations.

If you look at the text of the book you guys are using as part of this retreat, it was chosen to be translated as: attention rooted in reality.

Yoniso manasikara really is right attention. You are really paying attention. And what you are paying attention to is the things that arise in the reality of the situation. So, it is along with this unified attention, unified mind set.

Ayoniso manasikara means unwise perception, or inattention, or unwise attention. Meaning, you are not paying proper attention to your object. When that happens, that gives rise to hindrances, gives rise to distractions. Whereas correct attention is not focused, it’s not full-fledged focus but it is more about understanding how things are arising in the present moment.

Another variation of this meaning is also when the Buddha, or any of the monks use yoniso manasikara, they use it in a way to find the cause of something. For example, in the line of Dependent Origination, the Buddha will say: Birth having come to be, what is the origin of Birth, what is the cause of Birth. And then he says: Being come to be, and so on. That is another variation on yoniso manasikara.

But for the purpose of practice and the purpose of the meditation, whether it is in sitting practice or in your daily life, you have to pay attention, meaning you have to understand, how reality is arising as it arises. How it’s unfolding and, accordingly, make changes to your meditation practice, in the way of using the 6R’s, or whatever it might be.

It is actually through this yoniso manasikara that you are aware of, to link back to the previous question, what certain jhana factors are present. Or aware of what certain mind objects are present, what distractions, or what insights might arise. Or anything else like that.

Watch it here

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 3 was part of a daily 30 -minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Slightly edited to improve readability  

For one, if you jump from one and a half hour to two hours, it’s quite a jump for the mind to get used to. So, you do it in increments of five to ten minutes. So, an hour thirty-five minutes, an hour forty minutes. That works better than jumping from one to another like half hour scales. It’s better to do in those more manageable ways. You might find it easier for your mind to say: ok, one hour thirty-five minutes, rather than jumping from one and a half hour to two hours straight.

Watch it here

Sutta Explanations

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 3 was part of a daily 30 -minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Slightly edited to improve readability  

Manasikara literally means; taking to heart. Unifying, in that sense, your mind with that object. Or with the understanding of that object. It’s taking to heart what you’re seeing.

The root of the word yoniso is yoni, which means the source, the origin point. There are a lot of different ways to look at this word. Like a lot of words in Pali or Sanskrit, it’s polysemous, which means that one word can have multiple shades of meanings and variations.

If you look at the text of the book you guys are using as part of this retreat, it was chosen to be translated as: attention rooted in reality.

Yoniso manasikara really is right attention. You are really paying attention. And what you are paying attention to is the things that arise in the reality of the situation. So, it is along with this unified attention, unified mind set.

Ayoniso manasikara means unwise perception, or inattention, or unwise attention. Meaning, you are not paying proper attention to your object. When that happens, that gives rise to hindrances, gives rise to distractions. Whereas correct attention is not focused, it’s not full-fledged focus but it is more about understanding how things are arising in the present moment.

Another variation of this meaning is also when the Buddha, or any of the monks use yoniso manasikara, they use it in a way to find the cause of something. For example, in the line of Dependent Origination, the Buddha will say: Birth having come to be, what is the origin of Birth, what is the cause of Birth. And then he says: Being come to be, and so on. That is another variation on yoniso manasikara.

But for the purpose of practice and the purpose of the meditation, whether it is in sitting practice or in your daily life, you have to pay attention, meaning you have to understand, how reality is arising as it arises. How it’s unfolding and, accordingly, make changes to your meditation practice, in the way of using the 6R’s, or whatever it might be.

It is actually through this yoniso manasikara that you are aware of, to link back to the previous question, what certain jhana factors are present. Or aware of what certain mind objects are present, what distractions, or what insights might arise. Or anything else like that.

Watch it here

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