Oakville Zen Meditation

#269 Meditation: material & immaterial focus points May 4 - 19

                 Meditation on material & immaterial focus points

The opposite of meditation is mental distraction since, apart from few moments of concentration

during the day, we are distracted by around 90,000 thoughts on a daily basis. In other words,we are not just talking to ourselves all the time but we are also our own  faithful listeners. Very weird.

Focus points during meditation, also called anchors, can be either material or immaterial.

Material & immaterial anchors are infinite. We use them one at a time to slow down our train of thoughts.

Meditation using a material focus point or anchor.

Material anchors can be- breathing-candle-mantra-sound- doors, trees, blue sky, a brook, etc.

As we begin mindfulness meditation practice, the discipline is to bring our relentless mind to slow down by enhancing its awareness on an material object usually breathing. By doing so, we expect our mind to stay there. If we become distracted, which is always the case, we simply force our mind to go back to the focus target. Give our monkey mind the job of remaining focused, in a mindful way, on the subject and stopping jumping around endlessly is the prime goal of meditation. By doing so, we experience, consciously the reality of the moment, the only existing time and the only moment when and where we are alive. No matter what and how our mind is jumping around, we can always return its attention to the material object of the meditation. This is anchoring. As said, our breath is the #1 focusing point and material object for meditation because it is here all the time, because breathing is the only vital function of our body that we can control consciously and because breathing out produces a powerful calming effect.

Other material focus points can be anything. Using one of our 5 senses is the only way to go.

Sight for colors, hearing for music/sounds/noises, tasting, touching, smelling.Whatever the material anchor used, it is critical to pay attention in a mindful way. I will come back  at the end to this important skill.

Meditation  using  an immaterial focus point or anchor:

Anchoring our mind on thoughts and feelings is far more challenging that using  material anchor.

The main reasons are: 1) the object is virtual and 2) because it is very difficult to remain a non-analytic and non-emotional while focusing, in a mindful way, on a nostalgic event, a mistake of the past, or a worry of the future.

It is even more challenging to focus on a specific feeling w/o looking for the “why-what-when-how and why”! . For example, meditating on anger, fear, grief, anxiety, jealousy, desires, hatred, death w/o becoming ......emotional is very tricky but feasible with practice. In fact, mindfulness is a wonderful mental tool to learn to accept these feelings rather than ignoring, resisting or fighting against.

Mindfulness-based acceptance of what we are emotionally stuck with is some sort of "mental desensitization" similar to the one used in medicine  against allergies.

Final words:

Computers can do only 1 task at once ,as well our mind/brain cannot compute 2 thoughts at the same time. In other words he cannot focus on x and wanders at the same time on something else usually in the past or future. This is the key of meditation-based mind control.

Whatever the focus point you are using during meditation the following 3 fundamentals purposes should be repeated over and over:

      Focusing i.e. paying attention to x or y or z impose to our mind to slow down that is to become glued to one thought that is the anchor rather than producing zillions of thoughts in many space-time.

     To focus in a mindful way, that is passively w/o a discriminating mind, w/o analysis, judgment and decision regarding the object. Example: “I am worry about this.....and that’s okay” . This is acceptance.

      To experience the concrete reality of the moment that is the only existing space-time and the only time where we are alive. Being aware of this fact is being enlightened.