Looking for information about intermediate/advanced meditation practice
July 30, 2011 9:57 PM   Subscribe

Looking for information about intermediate/advanced meditation practice.

I try to meditate between 30 minutes to 2 hours a day, and am getting into interesting territory which I would like to better understand.

What I know is mostly from the Theravada tradition, but I'm open to any information from traditions which employ advanced meditation practices.

Perhaps books/websites are insufficient and I should go on a retreat?

Any suggestions/thoughts welcome from those who have walked this path.
posted by MetaMonkey to Religion & Philosophy (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't mean this in a catty way, but perhaps it might help if you actually asked a question? And/or defined "interesting territory"...

Kudos on dedicating that much time to the task, though. I consider myself lucky to get in half an hour here and there.
posted by pla at 10:28 PM on July 30, 2011

When I went on vispassana retreats, there was like Question Hour (I forget what it was called) with the teachers. You might try one of those retreats if you are open to that style.

Also, I don't know what kind of interesting territory you're in, but I got the sense that people would end up in a phase for a bit, and that one of the common answers to that was that they should not get attached to it (and especially not develop ego around how awesome they were as meditators for being to that point), because soon enough it would pass and they'd be in some awful phase. :) But I was not advanced myself, and question time was private, so I don't know if there is a better answer to your question.
posted by salvia at 11:19 PM on July 30, 2011

Good to read about your dedication to the practice. You haven't mentioned how long you've been sitting (1 yr? 5 yrs?). The basic mindfulness technique doesn't change but the depth of your perception changes the longer you sit. It is tempting to think "I've got it. What's next" in the first two years of practice. But stick with it and it'll unfold and deepen on it's own.
posted by tboz at 1:31 AM on July 31, 2011

Definitely, consult a teacher about the specific phenomena you've experienced. It's way too easy to be fooled by nice but ultimately irrelevant experiences. Spiritual practice is actually a demolition process, in which we dismantle the defensive patterns which run our lives, and as you go further with the demolition, the practice actually gets simpler, even as it gets more demanding. The jhanas and so forth have their place, but they are largely peripheral, and come only when the really hard work of demolition has cleared space for them.

A Trackless Path is a series of Dharma talks which my teacher gave on a retreat with advanced practitioners. (I didn't go, but I think the minimum was at least five years' dedicated practice.) Ganges Mahamudra is another series of talks by him concerning a poem he translated. The poem is about the awakening of Naropa, an extremely advanced student of Tilopa's.
posted by fivebells at 6:19 AM on July 31, 2011

In my experience*, the practice is the same whether it is your first minute of meditation or you have been doing it for many years. The experience changes, but the process if inquiry, observation and acceptance is the same. As I've gotten more experienced, it has been interesting to observe my assumptions that I should have gotten rid of that problem, become x% wiser, or made y% fewer mistakes in life. On the other hand, I do see my life changing in really wonderful ways.

Everybody is different, and there truly is no Correct Way to do this, but I have found retreats invaluable. My most recent retreat was just as useful as my first. Developing a good relationship with a teacher I respect and can speak to about my immediate experience without having to go over any background has also been extremely helpful. It has also been great to be able to communicate with that teacher outside of retreats.

* Feel free to memail me if you like.
posted by Cygnet at 6:44 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've done a lot of Buddhist meditation in which there are no mantras, visualizations or goals; so for me "advanced" and "meditation" don't belong in the same sentence. I wouldn't be too fascinated by the "interesting territory" you're encountering. Observe it and let it pass. Where exactly are you hoping this interesting territory will lead you?

That said, it can be very helpful to have a teacher or guide who is well-versed in the particular method you're practicing. In the end, books cannot replace practice. Your profile doesn't say where you're located, so I can't make specific suggestions; but I think your time would be better spent looking around for a reputable Theravadan teacher rather than reading books on the subject.
posted by Paris Elk at 10:32 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you want more answers than MeFi can provide, you might consider checking out the r/buddhism subreddit if you haven't already. The community has a definite "punk rock zen" bent which turns some people off, but there are plenty of fantastic and helpful people who are always happy to discuss this stuff in exquisite detail.
posted by dialetheia at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. Guess I should find a teacher!
posted by MetaMonkey at 7:47 PM on July 31, 2011

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