Here you will find a list of frequently asked meditation questions about the practice of Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation taught by Bhante Vimalaramsi- See if yours is here.
Video FAQ Answers
Your Questions answered by Delson Armstrong
I have a knot in my forehead. I have a headache. Is that tension? What to do?
Follow this link for lots of help - TRYING TOO HARD
What are the 6Rs?
The relax step in the Majjhima Nikaya is directly translated from the Pali language as Pasaambhaym. The english is Tranquilize. It is a specific action that the meditator preforms. It says "He tranquilizes the Bodily formation; he tranquilizes the Mental formation." Satipatthana Sutta and the Anapanasati are the sources of this text. Relax is to release tension as a thought pulls us away from the object. It doesn't mean to relax at the beach... It is a meditative act which is part of the 6R process
Why Smiling? It just seems kind of dumb. :-(
Smiling is incredibly helpful in developing an uplifted mind. There is scientific evidence that smiling changes our brain chemistry. Even an experiment was done by putting pencils in peoples mouths and they found the uplifting of the face muscles change the persons mood. You 'fake' it until you make it!
Seriously we are developing Right Effort - What is that? Recognizing there is an unwholesome feeling 2. Letting go of that feeling 3. Bringing up a wholesome state (Smiling is one way) and 4. Keep it going -That is the Buddha's Right Effort. Or we call it also the 6Rs: Recognize, Release, Relax,Re-smile, Return, Repeat. You 6R when your mind strays from your meditation object when a hindrance arises.
Smile all the time. Smile with your lips, with your heart and with your mind. Washing dishes-smile. Walking or Sitting smile the entire session!
Smiling and beginning Instructions from Bhante - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8u1JtRBJzqg
What do I do if have a lot of Doubt and can't get over it?
Did you think to 6R? It is only one of the five hindrances. Doubt is just a thought. Can you observe it and then let it go? It isn't yours - you are identifying it as 'my doubt.' Only a thought. 6R. Most of the time you are doing it right but doubt arises and if you 6R it you ARE doing it right!
Walking isn't meditation. Why should I do it? I would rather sit.
Is it OK to synchronize the feeling of Metta with my Breath?
No, please don't do that. Let go of the breath completely. Later you won't even notice the breath. 6R when your mind goes to the breath. Stay with only the feeling.
I can't seem to do the Loving-kindness/Metta meditation very well. Is it OK if I go back to breath meditation?
We recommend only doing Metta as it is 6X faster and more pleasant then Breath - Video
If you have practiced Breath or Anapanasati before it is likely you didn't practice it the way we teach it. We teach it using the 6Rs and the relax step. It is completely different and can be especially hard for people who have practiced breath before and have developed 'bad' habits. Please don't even consider breath. Bhante says some people can't do Metta but it's almost unheard of. Stay with Metta - It takes a little bit of practice is all.
Instructions are here once again - Video
When I 6R but I can't feel the feeling of tension in my head what do I do?
The tension is there but you may not feel it yet. Later you will so just release and relax even if you don't really feel something. Your attention was drawn so release that.
I have an itch- can I move?
No, please don't move at all. No adjustments or movement. Sittings are always at least 30 minutes! You can swallow and slightly adjust the head if necessary but that's all. Its important to keep still be cause the Jhana state develops faster when there is no movement. Like ice trying to freeze. Don't touch the water while it freezes.
Why start with one single spiritual friend and not all beings in all directions as is found in the texts?
Good question. This is a deviation that Bhante Vimalaramsi did that is suggested in the Visuddhi Magga to make the meditation easier. How is that? 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 that makes you smile when you think of them. You start small as your feeling of Metta is still weak and just getting started. Its much easier to dwell on one person then all beings. Your Metta gets to diffused or watered down when it goes into the directions. So you start with a Spiritual Friend and then to the directions once the metta has built up to the level of the 4th Jhana. At that time you radiate to the directions and all beings. (Not exact instructions.)
Why is the spiritual friend a human being? Why not my dog Frank? (hypothetical... I don't have a dog, and if I did his name wouldn't be Frank)
Who would name their dog Frank?? But the answer is you develop a stronger feeling of metta with a personal or human connection. That is why we want the person to alive and not dead. We want them to be a friend of yours. You could have a famous person as a Friend but its not as good as having a Friend as a Friend. We want them to be same sex so no lust arises - or at least someone who sending kindness lust would not arise.
How strong does the feeling of Metta have to be to progress?
It doesn't have to be strong - it just needs to be continuous. Make sure you 6R when your mind wanders. Every time you 6R your metta will increase as it becomes more consistent. So strong or weak you have to watch mindfully for the moment the mind starts to wander. The more you can stay on your object the stronger the feeling becomes automatically. Don't push just 6R when needed.
If one can feel the Metta for the spiritual friend do you keep repeating the phrases like "May I be happy!' and so on?
No - the phrase is not a mantra. It is only a nudge to keep the feeling going when it weakens and a reminder to keep the feeling going. You can also Smile more to strengthen the feeling.
What do I do when I am not formally doing walking or sitting meditation.
Does my Spiritual Friend have to be perfect?
There is no need to find the "perfect or soulmate" Spiritual Friend. It is just a tool for the meditation. Pick someone who you like and no anger arises. Same sex and alive. Just a friend that you like to hang with. Or an acquaintance that you enjoy when you are with them. Once you figure out who then let go of any doubts from then on. Use them every time. There is powerful benefit to using the same one each time. That is that whenever you think of them your mind kind of just sticks onto them and the metta comes up quickly.