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Author Topic: Meditating Without Language?  (Read 1790 times)

Altair

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Meditating Without Language?
« on: March 29, 2015, 08:38:24 am »
I'm not an expert at meditation, but I try to do it every day and improve at it, as part of my spiritual practice. I try to let the random thoughts and worries come and go and hopefully eventually go, so that my mind eventually becomes clear and calm. I've gotten better at that over time, I think.

But one thing I'm *not* good at, that I'd like to be able to do, is to let go of language entirely when I meditate. Even after the random thoughts ("I'm worried about my job," "I have to cook dinner tonight," "Isn't Dad's birthday tomorrow?") have come and gone, and I'm trying to just be where I am, I find I'm still using language: I hear a car horn from outside and instead of simply appreciating the sound, my brain can't help but assign the word "car" to the sound.

I'm not even sure moving beyond language should be a meditative goal, but it seems to me it would take my meditation to the next level. But seeing that, as a writer/editor, I'm all about language, this could be tough.

Does anybody have any experience with this? Does anybody know if this goal fits in to traditional meditative practices? Any suggestions on how to achieve this goal?
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Faemon

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2015, 09:49:25 am »
Quote from: Altair;173500
I'm not even sure moving beyond language should be a meditative goal, but it seems to me it would take my meditation to the next level.

Have you tried meditating on language? Sometimes the way beyond in meditation is within.

If you hear a car horn, notice the word that forms in your mind, "car" and meditate upon...why? Why that sound? Why that word, first, and not automobile? Why those letters, in those shapes? Why this pronunciation? What if you spoke another language? What if you lived somewhere else so long that you caught some other accent there? Why, word? Why word? Why worlds of words? Why is the immediate experience of a thing a word, rather than the immediate experience of the thing to which the word refers?

If it's your experience that the word for the thing is the name of the thing is the thing itself, then to embrace that rather than transcend that could have interesting results as well.

I hope this helps!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 09:51:00 am by Faemon »
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Altair

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2015, 11:05:37 am »
Quote from: Faemon;173503
Have you tried meditating on language? Sometimes the way beyond in meditation is within.

If you hear a car horn, notice the word that forms in your mind, "car" and meditate upon...why? Why that sound? Why that word, first, and not automobile? Why those letters, in those shapes? Why this pronunciation? What if you spoke another language? What if you lived somewhere else so long that you caught some other accent there? Why, word? Why word? Why worlds of words? Why is the immediate experience of a thing a word, rather than the immediate experience of the thing to which the word refers?

If it's your experience that the word for the thing is the name of the thing is the thing itself, then to embrace that rather than transcend that could have interesting results as well.

I hope this helps!

 
That's a great idea. I'm going to try that.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

MadZealot

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2015, 01:04:04 pm »
Quote from: Altair;173500

Does anybody have any experience with this? Does anybody know if this goal fits in to traditional meditative practices? Any suggestions on how to achieve this goal?


I've been able to get around the incessant-brain-chatter by focusing on a certain image (such as a candle flame) either through visualization or gazing at the real deal.  Concentrating on the notes of meditating music (without lyrics) also helps.  Maybe chanting mantras like "Om" serve similar purpose, but I've never used 'em.
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Altair

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2015, 03:09:19 pm »
Quote from: MadZealot;173527
I've been able to get around the incessant-brain-chatter by focusing on a certain image (such as a candle flame) either through visualization or gazing at the real deal.  Concentrating on the notes of meditating music (without lyrics) also helps.  Maybe chanting mantras like "Om" serve similar purpose, but I've never used 'em.


On rare occasion I've meditated with music, but not in a long time. I'll give that a try again.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Naomi J

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2015, 05:17:25 pm »
Quote from: Altair;173500
Does anybody have any experience with this? Does anybody know if this goal fits in to traditional meditative practices? Any suggestions on how to achieve this goal?

Brendan Myers has an exercise in one of his books called 'peaceful abiding' that builds on that idea. He may well have got it from another tradition - not sure. He asks you to sit outside and focus solely and mindfully on the scene that surrounds you - the feel of the wind on your face, the sound of the birds, the view of a falling leaf, etc - and as you see them, to name these experiences in your mind. Then the next stage is to focus simply on the experiences and sensation without language or commentary - so, feeling the wind without naming it or reflecting on it intellectually at all. The second stage is very hard to reach and I've never managed it for very long at a time, but the attempt can be very rewarding. It's a lovely mindfulness practice that connects you with the physical world, whether or not you manage to achieve the more advanced stage!
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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2015, 06:07:46 pm »
Quote from: Altair;173532
On rare occasion I've meditated with music, but not in a long time. I'll give that a try again.

 
I love this method. It's so easy to just block everything else out, at least in my case.

Try focusing on a specific part of the music; the piano, the drums, the guitar, the harp, etc. I've found it works for me :) Maybe it shall for others?

Altair

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2015, 06:42:41 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;173534
Brendan Myers has an exercise in one of his books called 'peaceful abiding' that builds on that idea. He may well have got it from another tradition - not sure. He asks you to sit outside and focus solely and mindfully on the scene that surrounds you - the feel of the wind on your face, the sound of the birds, the view of a falling leaf, etc - and as you see them, to name these experiences in your mind. Then the next stage is to focus simply on the experiences and sensation without language or commentary - so, feeling the wind without naming it or reflecting on it intellectually at all. The second stage is very hard to reach and I've never managed it for very long at a time, but the attempt can be very rewarding. It's a lovely mindfulness practice that connects you with the physical world, whether or not you manage to achieve the more advanced stage!

 
The first stage I do regularly; the second stage is what I'm after. I'm guessing Brendan Myers didn't give any specifics on how to get there.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Altair

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2015, 06:54:42 pm »
Quote from: Gaudior;173536
I love this method. It's so easy to just block everything else out, at least in my case.

Try focusing on a specific part of the music; the piano, the drums, the guitar, the harp, etc. I've found it works for me :) Maybe it shall for others?


Here's what I would use, as I find it hypnotic, but I'd need it without the words (which I like, but again, I'm trying to shed language):



Maybe I can find a way to loop a wordless portion of it.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Ghost235

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2015, 12:33:55 pm »
Quote from: Altair;173500


Does anybody have any experience with this? Does anybody know if this goal fits in to traditional meditative practices? Any suggestions on how to achieve this goal?


A great deal, actually.

It takes time.  One thing to always keep in mind when you go into meditation is that it is a careful balancing act.  When you see yourself labeling a phenomenon just acknowledge the labeling and let it go.  

Don't be upset with the labeling(that leads to more labeling and thought) or pleased at your speed of labeling(also leads to more labeling and thought).  Just acknowledge it and let it pass.

Also consider experimenting with meditating with eyes open or closed, depending on which one you are currently doing.

Lastly, try not to be discouraged.  I like the Tibetan analogy of the moon in the lake.  When we start meditating our minds are like a lake churning with all sorts of thoughts, feelings, concepts, and so forth.  When we start meditating it starts the slow process of calming those winds to make the waters calm.  Over time the water becomes perfectly still and we can see the reflection of the moon in the water.

But just as the wind doesn't instantly stop, so the thoughts, concepts, and so forth don't cease the second we pay attention to them.

Altair

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2015, 02:56:05 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;173575
A great deal, actually.

It takes time.  One thing to always keep in mind when you go into meditation is that it is a careful balancing act.  When you see yourself labeling a phenomenon just acknowledge the labeling and let it go.  

Don't be upset with the labeling(that leads to more labeling and thought) or pleased at your speed of labeling(also leads to more labeling and thought).  Just acknowledge it and let it pass.

Also consider experimenting with meditating with eyes open or closed, depending on which one you are currently doing.

Lastly, try not to be discouraged.  I like the Tibetan analogy of the moon in the lake.  When we start meditating our minds are like a lake churning with all sorts of thoughts, feelings, concepts, and so forth.  When we start meditating it starts the slow process of calming those winds to make the waters calm.  Over time the water becomes perfectly still and we can see the reflection of the moon in the water.

But just as the wind doesn't instantly stop, so the thoughts, concepts, and so forth don't cease the second we pay attention to them.

 
I was hoping one of you Buddhists--the meditation world champs!--would chime in. Thank you, Ghost! I will take your suggestions to heart.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Altair

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2015, 03:01:19 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;173575
A great deal, actually.


(By the way, what do you think of my mandala, below in my signature? Since Tibetan Buddhists excel at mandalas. Mine isn't anywhere near that level of complexity, but I like to think of it as a pared-down, modernist interpretation with special meanings for me--something between a Tibetan mandala and the Aztec Stone of the Sun. I use it in meditation sometimes, with good effect.)
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Ghost235

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2015, 03:17:22 pm »
Quote from: Altair;173583
(By the way, what do you think of my mandala, below in my signature? Since Tibetan Buddhists excel at mandalas. Mine isn't anywhere near that level of complexity, but I like to think of it as a pared-down, modernist interpretation with special meanings for me--something between a Tibetan mandala and the Aztec Stone of the Sun. I use it in meditation sometimes, with good effect.)

 
Hmm.  I don't really see much Tibetan mandala there.  The reason is that I don't see any vajras, Buddhas,yidams (meditational deities),the auspicious symbols, or the bright colors indicative of most of the mandalas I've seen.  Of course, you may have seen mandalas I haven't.

With that said, it does look like it would be quite effective as I see what look like(to me, at least) some pretty interesting symbols in there.  It has a pared down Western Ceremonial feel(most Tibetan mandalas, by definition, don't really pare down, I'm afraid).  Also, it looks like you could make one in sand very easily given a little time and practice.

Altair

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 04:09:57 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;173585
Hmm.  I don't really see much Tibetan mandala there.  The reason is that I don't see any vajras, Buddhas,yidams (meditational deities),the auspicious symbols, or the bright colors indicative of most of the mandalas I've seen.  Of course, you may have seen mandalas I haven't.

With that said, it does look like it would be quite effective as I see what look like(to me, at least) some pretty interesting symbols in there.  It has a pared down Western Ceremonial feel(most Tibetan mandalas, by definition, don't really pare down, I'm afraid).  Also, it looks like you could make one in sand very easily given a little time and practice.


Yeah, it's a big departure from Tibetan; I was likening it only in the broadest terms. (And besides, most Tibetan mandalas--though not all--are square-within-circle design, yes?)
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Ghost235

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Re: Meditating Without Language?
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2015, 04:14:48 pm »
Quote from: Altair;173588
Yeah, it's a big departure from Tibetan; I was likening it only in the broadest terms. (And besides, most Tibetan mandalas--though not all--are square-within-circle design, yes?)

 
This is also true.  I didn't want to point that out as I didn't want to seem overly critical or dismissive.  It really is a neat mandala.

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