October 3, 2018

A friend spoke with me recently about difficulty attaining access concentration. I am far from an accomplished meditator, but I asked him what he's experiencing and did my best to relate my experience.

Several months ago I went from easily attaining strong concentration to struggling to concentrate at all. I looked at the five hindrances and recognized ill-will disrupting my efforts. I started working on metta, but it was really forced and it didn't feel productive. It wasn't so simple to replace ill-will with loving-kindness because it felt like I was not standing up for myself and not being compassionate towards myself (my anger felt justified and necessary until things were resolved some other way).

I gave up on metta for a little while and went to working on insight in my daily life, trying to observe sensations arising and passing away while I did normal stuff like walking or eating. Putting a little effort into insight lead naturally to a more authentic practice of metta, and after a few weeks my concentration abilities were back to the level I was accustomed to.

Morality, concentration and wisdom all support each other. I tend to think of morality first, and then concentration, and then wisdom, but now I've had the experience of turning to wisdom to put some fuel in the tank when my concentration was lacking and my motivation to be loving and kind was lackluster.

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