Questions and Answers

Daily Life

Caffeine affects some people more than others. Generally speaking, it also depends on the source and amount of caffeine consumption. 

Tea is generally less stimulating to the mind, than coffee. Green tea is better. Having said that, some people don’t seem to have a problem with drinking coffee, and the effect on the meditation. You have to find what works for you. 

 Generally, caffeine being a stimulant is what causes too much thought-energy in the mind, so there should be a balance. This is why I recommend tea, especially green tea, as this balances out the caffeine with something known as L-Theanine. This activates alpha brainwaves, which are associated with mild meditative states.

 My statement about caffeine is to not allow it to become an addiction. Meaning, don’t get cranky if you don’t have coffee around 🙂

 Don’t allow any form of consumption to become a crutch for the mind or body. What’s more important is to find internal sources of pleasure and joy and energy, i.e., the mind itself. The way to do that is through meditation.

 A great caffeine replacement is to do Compassion meditation in the morning. This activates and arouses the gamma field of brainwaves. These are associated with more energy, that is stable, non-stimulating, and keeps the mind in a process of a flow state. Plus, it feels good! 🙂

Categories: Daily Life, Meditation

Forgiveness

Please see the following suttas in relation to forgiveness:

In this sutta, the Buddha doesn’t accept the harm from another. Thus he doesn’t get inflicted to the point that he needs to Forgive.

https://suttacentral.net/sn7.2/en/sujato

And this sutta, number 21 the first section, shows the importance of understanding one’s own mistakes and forgiving others’ mistakes.

https://suttacentral.net/an2.21-31/en/sujato

For more information on how to practice Forgiveness, see

Revised Instructions

Category: Forgiveness

Bhante Vimalaramsi created a powerful Forgiveness meditation, which he then practiced himself for two years. On his website you will find free resources and excellent instructions.

Revised Instructions

Categories: Forgiveness, Meditation

Meditation

Caffeine affects some people more than others. Generally speaking, it also depends on the source and amount of caffeine consumption. 

Tea is generally less stimulating to the mind, than coffee. Green tea is better. Having said that, some people don’t seem to have a problem with drinking coffee, and the effect on the meditation. You have to find what works for you. 

 Generally, caffeine being a stimulant is what causes too much thought-energy in the mind, so there should be a balance. This is why I recommend tea, especially green tea, as this balances out the caffeine with something known as L-Theanine. This activates alpha brainwaves, which are associated with mild meditative states.

 My statement about caffeine is to not allow it to become an addiction. Meaning, don’t get cranky if you don’t have coffee around 🙂

 Don’t allow any form of consumption to become a crutch for the mind or body. What’s more important is to find internal sources of pleasure and joy and energy, i.e., the mind itself. The way to do that is through meditation.

 A great caffeine replacement is to do Compassion meditation in the morning. This activates and arouses the gamma field of brainwaves. These are associated with more energy, that is stable, non-stimulating, and keeps the mind in a process of a flow state. Plus, it feels good! 🙂

Categories: Daily Life, Meditation

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 2 was part of a daily 30 -minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Slightly edited to improve readability   

I’ll break it up into a couple of things. When I was mentioning yesterday about moving, I was talking about number one; intentionally moving out of Restlessness, or intentionally moving because the body feels like it needs to move, when it’s not necessary to move.

Secondly, when it comes to where you open up your eyes; if you’re doing it because it’s just a process. In some cases, when somebody is in Infinite Consciousness, the eyes might just open up. Or, if they’re experiencing lots of joy in the sixth jhana, the eyes might just open up. That just happens as an automatic reflexive process. So, it’s not necessarily coming from your intention to open the eyes.

But in relation to what I was telling earlier about the smile, I’m referring more to seeing, and using, the smile to the extent that you need the Joy there. It can be the internal smile, or to see if you need the smile from the physical level, to bring up that Joy. But that I would not consider to be a physical movement, as compared to something like moving your limbs, or moving your posture, or something like that. Remember, when you’re doing the 6R process, there is still the movement of the mouth, there is still the movement of the lips, in order to come to the smile. To that extent you can move, if you need to smile, but beyond that you don’t want to move intentionally.

Watch it here

Categories: Meditation, Online Retreat

The tension is there, but you may not be able to feel it yet.  It can be quite subtle. Later you will start to recognize it, so just Release and Relax, even if you don’t really feel something. 

 Since your attention was drawn away from the meditation, you can be sure there was actually tension there. If there was no tension, you would not have been distracted.

Category: Meditation

Bhante Vimalaramsi created a powerful Forgiveness meditation, which he then practiced himself for two years. On his website you will find free resources and excellent instructions.

Revised Instructions

Categories: Forgiveness, Meditation

If you are meditating and a headache, or some sort of painful feeling in the head, starts to arise, yes, it’s probably because you are trying too hard.

Remember, meditating and letting go of hindrances is not supposed to be a fight.

Follow this link for lots of help. 

TRYING TOO HARD

Category: Meditation

Just use the 6R’s. It is only one of the five hindrances. Doubt is just a type of thought. 

 Can you observe it and then let it go?  It isn’t yours – you are identifying with it as my doubt.

The more you apply the 6R’s, the more doubt will start to weaken. You stop feeding it, so to speak. In time you will start to notice that this practice is very effective and doubt will just fade away.

Category: Meditation

Good question. This is a deviation that Bhante Vimalaramsi did. He took it from the Visuddhimagga. It turned out to make the meditation easier for people to start with. It’s like using training wheels for a while. 

Instead of sending Metta to all directions and all beings as per the suttas, you first start with just one person that you admire – someone who makes you smile, when you think of them. 

 You start small, as your feeling of Metta is still weak and is just getting started. It’s much easier to dwell on one person, than on all beings at once.  The Metta initially gets too diffused or watered down when it goes into the directions. 

So, you start with a Spiritual Friend to get familiar with the process of the 6R’s. Once the Metta has built up to the level of the fourth Jhana, you will learn to radiate in the directions and to all beings.

Contact a teacher here if you’re not sure whether your practice has progressed to the fourth Jhana. They will advice you on how to progress.

Please check below if you want to know more about how to pick a suitable spiritual friend:

https://www.dhammasukha.org/getting-started-with-twim.html

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

You will develop a stronger feeling of Metta with a personal or human connection. That is also why we want the person to be alive and not dead.

We want them to be a friend of yours. You could also choose a famous person as a Spiritual Friend, but again, it’s not as good as picking someone you know. 

We want them to be same sex so no lust arises. Or at least someone where you know lust would not arise – neither lust in you, nor lust in the Spiritual Friend you chose.

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 move at all. Don’t adjustment or move the body in any way. You can swallow and slightly adjust the head if necessary, but that’s all.  It’s important to keep still, because the Jhana state will develop faster when there is no movement.  It’s like ice trying to freeze.  Don’t touch the water while it freezes.

Giving attention to the itch will make it worse. So, if your attention gets drawn to it – you forgot you were meditating -, you can apply the 6R’s and Return.

Remember that sittings are always at least 30 minutes. So, get in an alert, comfortable position beforehand.

Category: Meditation

Don’t worry! In the beginning, it can be difficult or awkward to bring up that warm, glowing feeling of Loving-kindness. 

These videos may help you to bring this feeling of Loving-kindness back into your meditation:

The feeling doesn’t need to be very strong; a little spark is enough! If you look into the eyes of a baby, do you need to try to feel love? Is it hard to feel it while playing with a puppy? Or while sitting on a bench in a park, on a pleasant day, watching people go by?

Develop this feeling one sit at a time and you will be going down the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. You use the Brahma Viharas to become awakened. Developing a smile will make this practice much easier.

For more information, read this helpful article:

https://www.dhammasukha.org/cant-find-the-feeling.html

Category: Meditation

Smiling is incredibly helpful in developing an uplifted and light mind. There is scientific evidence that smiling changes our brain chemistry. It’s like the brain thinks: Oh, the mouth is smiling. I must be happy then! You ‘fake’ it until you make it!

Right Effort

Seriously, we are developing Right Effort – What is that?  

  1. Recognizing there is an unwholesome feeling
  2. Letting go of that feeling
  3. Bringing up a wholesome state (Smiling is one way)
  4. Keep it going

This is the Buddha’s Right Effort, a part of the Noble Eightfold Path. We just transformed it into an easy to remember shorthand, calling it

the 6 R’s:

Recognize

 Release

Relax

Re-smile

Return

Repeat

You 6R whenever your mind strays from your meditation object, so whenever a hindrance arises.

Smile all the time. Smile with your lips, your eyes, and particularly with your heart and mind.

Are you washing the dishes? You can do that with a smile. Practicing walking or sitting meditation? Smile the entire session!

And smile at strangers. Though this might seem a bit scary at first, it turns out that most people love it and will smile back!

https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/the-psychological-study-of-smiling

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/21/simple-trick-that-can-make-you-happier-according-to-research.html

Instructions for Metta Meditation and the 6Rs by Bhante Vimalaramsi

Category: Meditation

6R it once and Return to the object of meditation.

 You aren’t going to eliminate the headache or tension in one go, but you can Release your attention from it.

If attention keeps returning to that tension, you are basically feeding it, making it stay or even get worse. If you leave it alone, the tension will diminish on its own. Understand that this is just a painful feeling. Use the 6R’s, but only whenever your attention gets drawn to that pain again.

Category: 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

Options

As you will see below, we have many options available to learn this type of meditation. There are booklets in many translations, as well as an excellent YouTube channel (updated often). Of course you are more than welcome to ask any questions in our international community.

What is TWIM

TWIM stands for Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation. It is being taught by Buddhist monk bhante Vimalaramsi. Nowadays there are also many experienced teachers that will coach you, free of charge.

Loving-kindness

TWIM meditation uses the four Brahma Viharas. These are more commonly known as Loving-kindness or Metta, Compassion or Karuna, Empathetic Joy or Mudita and Equanimity or Upekkha.

Difference with other practices

This meditation practice bases itself on truly releasing and letting go of hindrances. It doesn’t suppress them in any way. The Buddha stressed mindfulness and Jhanas should be practiced at the same time!

Feel better

You’ll start to experience lasting personality changes and it doesn’t even take that long. Mental problems like anxiety, depression, traumas, irritability and even PTSD, start to lessen quite soon. This is because the root causes are being addressed.

Insight and Serenity yoked together

TWIM meditation teaches you how to be mindful of whatever arises, while simultaneously entering into a state of collectedness.

Here, you gently release any type of craving. You will let go of the commonly known five Hindrances; lust, anger, restlessness, sloth & torpor and doubt. But other emotions like fear and jealousy are being addressed as well.

No religion

Practice TWIM no matter whether you are religious or an atheist. You don’t even have to become a Buddhist! The Buddha was not interested in making us ‘Buddhist’. He taught one thing, and one thing only;

How to recognize and make an end of suffering

This is what you will learn in practicing TWIM meditation. This method guides you through the entire Noble Eightfold Path.

Nibbana

While this practice leads to the four stages of Nibbana, there is no need to wait until that happens. It lessens grief and distress bit by bit, starting from day one.

Resources

https://library.dhammasukha.org/books.html

https://groups.io/g/dhammasukha

https://www.suttavada.foundation/questions-and-answers/single-faq/what-is-the-6r-meditation-and-how-to-practice-this

Category: Meditation

Online Retreat

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 2 was part of a daily 30 -minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Slightly edited to improve readability   

I’ll break it up into a couple of things. When I was mentioning yesterday about moving, I was talking about number one; intentionally moving out of Restlessness, or intentionally moving because the body feels like it needs to move, when it’s not necessary to move.

Secondly, when it comes to where you open up your eyes; if you’re doing it because it’s just a process. In some cases, when somebody is in Infinite Consciousness, the eyes might just open up. Or, if they’re experiencing lots of joy in the sixth jhana, the eyes might just open up. That just happens as an automatic reflexive process. So, it’s not necessarily coming from your intention to open the eyes.

But in relation to what I was telling earlier about the smile, I’m referring more to seeing, and using, the smile to the extent that you need the Joy there. It can be the internal smile, or to see if you need the smile from the physical level, to bring up that Joy. But that I would not consider to be a physical movement, as compared to something like moving your limbs, or moving your posture, or something like that. Remember, when you’re doing the 6R process, there is still the movement of the mouth, there is still the movement of the lips, in order to come to the smile. To that extent you can move, if you need to smile, but beyond that you don’t want to move intentionally.

Watch it here

Categories: Meditation, Online Retreat

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 0 was part of a daily 30-minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

(Slightly edited to improve readability)

The materials – the suttas and the videos – are really to start to get an understanding of the different parts of the Eightfold Path. We start off with what is known as Effective Choice and Effective Application. That’s talking about Right Intention and Right Effort, that is really the basis.

As you get deeper, you’re going to Mindfulness, or Effective Observation; Samadhi, or what is the Collectedness – we don’t like to use the word concentration – and then you start to get into deeper subjects, like Kamma, Rebirth and Consciousness.

These are materials to help you on your own self-directed meditation. I won’t really be leading any kind of group meditation, this is more a path of self-discovery, in your own time and the amount of effort you put into it.

Watch it here

Category: Online Retreat

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 0 was part of a daily 30-minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

(Slightly edited to improve readability)

Yes. On day 2 there will be an entire focus on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. When you watch the video and read the material, it will go even more in depth into it.

 The two foremost suttas are the Satipatthana Sutta from the Majjhima Nikaya (number 10), and the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (Digha Nikaya 22) – which is identical except for the elaboration of the Four Noble Truths.

There are different ways of doing it, you can also divide them into four categories. You can solely pay attention to what is happening in the body, the mind, or the sensory experiences that arise. And in just the observation, the pure awareness without trying to control it, you will start to see insights into the body, the mind, sensory experiences, and into the mental contents. You start to see the impermanence of these things, and you see there is no controller there. There is an emptiness of self in that.

It happens with continually being observant, being aware, mindful; whenever you do get distracted, you utilize the 6R’s. The Recognition part primarily is the beginning of that Mindfulness.

Whenever you are in the jhana, whenever you are staying with your object of meditation with an open awareness – that is: being attentive but not focused, not too concentrated – you are practicing Mindfulness. You are applying the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. So long as you are openly aware, you can know that a hindrance has arisen or not.

If you focus too much, you are actually suppressing the hindrances, you are not able to know when, where and how you got distracted.

Watch it here

Category: Online Retreat

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 0 was part of a daily 30-minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

(Slightly edited to improve readability)

Sit for as long as you can. You can do an intention that you want to sit for an hour the first time. And the next time an hour 10 minutes, an hour 15 minutes.

If you have the inclination to sit for longer, that’s always good, that’s always suggested. If you want to sit for longer, do sit for longer.

In terms of pushing, it is not necessarily pushing. Let’s say the body wants to stop, but the mind does want to meditate for longer. You cajole the body, saying: how about five more minutes. Let’s see what happens for five more minutes.

 Likewise, if the mind is restless and doesn’t want to meditate anymore, you can sit for five more minutes. Treat the mind like a little child. In that way the mind won’t be pushing, it will accept it, and you can continue on with the meditation.

Watch it here

Category: Online Retreat

Sutta Explanations

Here you can find a huge list of interesting Sutta References.

They contain proof, definitions and hard to find references.

Category: Sutta Explanations