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What works for me

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Moderatorsfredclaymeyer
TaglineWhat do you find helpful in your meditation?
DescriptionThis is a group for sharing and discussing anything (ideas, attitudes, techniques, practices...) that has positively impacted your meditation practice.
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1

Closing my eyes from time to time
fredclaymeyer — 5 years ago — in What works for me
I generally meditate with my eyes open, but I often find that closing my eyes for some amount of time seems to settle my practice. It seems a bit like putting a blanket over a bird's cage: the bird quiets down pretty quickly.
It seems most helpful either: 
  • As a break or change of pace in a generally "scattered" or chaotic session.
  • For a few minutes at the beginning of a session, when I remember to do it.
A caution: do not try this when you're very tired. You'll go right out and probably crack your floor...

1

How a guy meditated every day for a year
fredclaymeyer — 5 years ago — in What works for me
Here's a guy who managed to meditate every day for a year through being accountable to a friend and setting a routine.
There's really a lot in here—it also talks about how his attitude and motivation shifted before making the commitment, and the news article (on meditation and the brain) that inspired the shift.

1

Not sitting for a couple days every month or so
fredclaymeyer — 5 years ago — in What works for me
So, this may be bad advice, but I find that I personally sometimes really benefit from taking a couple days off of meditation every month or so.
I don't really plan to do it—it's more like I temporarily exhaust my discipline, which is easier for me to do than I'd like. And there will usually be a period of two days (not more than that) where I don't sit, and get lost in work or time-wasters instead.
I've found a couple of things consistently happen:
1. I start feeling the benefits of the practice quite strongly. I find this bizarre, but it's true. It's almost like the mind I'm cultivating needs a bit of a break from practice before it sinks in fully. The closest analogy I've thought of is that if you'd been training really hard for a marathon, your body might start to feel really good a couple of days after your last training session. I'm sure that analogy's terrible on a bunch of levels, but the experience itself has been pretty consistent for me with meditation.
2. Conversely, I start to get hit really hard with neuroses I don't usually face when I'm meditating regularly. After about two and a half days of not sitting, I'll start to "drift": I notice more and more trouble controlling my emotions (especially fear and irritation) and connecting with what I value and find beautiful in the world. It quickly gets quite terrifying, and I find it really helpful for reminding me just why I meditate.

I'd love to hear thoughts on this. I guess this isn't really advice, just something that I've noticed is helpful, and it's been consistent enough that I thought I'd share it.

1

"How has meditation changed your life?"
fredclaymeyer — 5 years ago — in What works for me
I found a thread by that title on an online forum called Vipassana Forum—here's a link.
I think it's a pretty good question. For me, the first few answers that come to mind are:
  • I'm not as irritable as I would be otherwise. When I don't sit for a few days, I start saying and doing things I really regret.
  • I don't get overwhelmed by fear, generally.
  • I'm much more compassionate and perceptive than I would have been without a meditation practice.
  • Meditation sort of gives my life "context"—not "meaning," but a sense that I know what I'm doing here and how the whole thing works.
I'm sure there's more, but those seemed like the first few answers that came up.

1

Making meditation a routine
davidbhayes — 5 years ago — in What works for me
One things that I found really helpful in establishing a regular meditation practice is to make a meditation a part of your daily routines. For me, I shower and brush my teeth together everyday, and have no place to rush off to after doing those things. So adding medititation to the end of that chain of routines fit naturally, and made it so I really couldn't forget (or "forget") to meditate.
If I couldn't do it at the time, at a minimum I was forced to engage with myself about why I wasn't doing it, and make an agreement with myself about when I would be doing it.

2

Forcefully minimizing distractions
emmacat — 5 years ago — in What works for me
My cable box for the tv in my room broke, I got it replaced but I wasn't able to set it up. After being put on hold numerous times by my cable provider, I keep putting off trying again. That was two months ago. I found that I really don't want the intrusion of tv in the same room where I have my cushion. When I prepare to meditate at night, I leave my laptop and all my gadgets downstairs. It may seem pretty nitty gritty, but I mostly respond to drastic measures. 
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2

Retreats!
fredclaymeyer — 5 years ago — in What works for me
I just did a several-day meditation retreat. It was wonderful, and I came out of it completely energized to practice. I would absolutely recommend taking any amount of retreat time you can manage--it's one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I'm back in a fairly stressful situation now, and I can see those stresses gnawing away at my practice. So (for my own benefit and everyone else's) here are a few thoughts on doing a post-retreat correctly:
• When you get out of it, continue to sit twice a day, morning and evening. It's really important to carry forward the practice momentum you've had.
• As a way to keep it a priority in a busy schedule: Notice how you feel during and immediately after a retreat, and think of that as being the result of meditation (which it is!). So, if after the retreat something comes up that threatens to interrupt your practice schedule, ask whether the thing is worth risking the benefits of practice for. Maybe it is, but at least you'll recognize the tradeoff you may be making.
• Don't worry too much about "holding on" to whatever benefits you feel in retreat. Some of these are just temporary excitements that only exist in a retreat environment and are bound to wash away anyway; and the things that really are lasting, valid insights will be difficult to access if you're worried about clinging to (your idea of) them. What you should hold onto is the practice itself.
Hope that's helpful! I better go practice soon...

2

Getting inspired by reading
fredclaymeyer — 4 years ago — in What works for me
I struggle regularly with putting off meditation. In general, I'd say turning the feeling that I "should" meditate into actual behavior is an uphill battle.
Recently, I read a bit from a book that's always been a favorite of mine (Illusion's Game, by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche). As I was reading, I found that I wanted to meditate, because of the author's genius and the sense that it came from a lifetime of practice.
So a recommendation is: if you have a favorite book, just try innocently reading a few paragraphs. As you're reading, if you find that you feel inspired to meditate, go do it before the feeling wears off! I'm going to see how this works for me. I'll try to report back.

3

Sila
ananda — 5 years ago — in What works for me
What works for me?
Well, I think sila (= Pali for virtue, i.e. virtue in regard to what you do the whole day) is very important.
It is very good to do good deeds. It gives you contentment which removes restlessness, during your meditation you will tend to feel "there is nothing else to do than to meditate now."
What are good deeds?
There are infinite ways to work on your sila. Here are some examples:
-Be kind to other people
-Work well in your day job
-Help other people
-Move your body much during the day, a hobby in which you move the body a lot helps
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3

Noticing and relaxing facial tension
fredclaymeyer — 5 years ago — in What works for me
A comment someone made about a recent meditation session reminded me of this: I can really tell a lot about how my mind is by examining the tension in my face, particularly my forehead and eyebrows. (Other people mention the jaw as well, although I wouldn't say I carry any particular tension there.)
Relaxing those areas actually makes me feel better, too; I've found it difficult to be miserable with a calm, relaxed face.
As a sidenote, traditional artwork depicting very advanced meditators tends to draw them with relaxed eyes; and I find that highly awakened people who are actually alive do indeed have those eyes. Here are a few photos--see what you think:
1. Traditional "wisdom eyes" drawing;
2. Buddha statue;
3. Adyashanti (modern spiritual teacher).