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I had a private convo with John and Carla - it was great. I resonate immensely with their message after 20+ years on the spiritual path starting with imaginary gods as a pre-teen and ending up with Niz and Ramana in my early 20s. During our chat John mentioned something to the effect of "the effort made to dismiss unwanted thoughts is itself a form of SDA". I found that hugely inspiring and *appear* to have incrementally greater success in NOT letting depressive/anxious/fearful thoughts run my head for hours on end. I see them as a challenge when they arrive, and attempt to completely turn all attention away from them onto happier more positive thoughts. I thought to share this because it is not only a way of doing SDA but also serves as a palliative for the negative thoughts (if one can even marginally succeed in turning attention away the moment they surface, before they gain traction and snowball into something massive...). I'm also curious if there is some form of SDA that can be done other than breath watching that can be done anywhere.... Something that can be done in the subway or while walking....

Secondly, I've seen a lot of people saying they fail utterly at SDA. My POV is that much like the looking it is impossible to fail. Is this correct? I say this because the ATTEMPT to reign in attention in itself works the attention muscle. Like trying really hard to lift a heavy dumbbell which may not budge but your arm will be sore. And eventually, the dumbbell will move. So there is progress being made regardless.

Thoughts anyone?

Thanks for sharing your progress. Positive thoughts can be a distraction as well at times. In the looking booklet there is a mention of SDA in daily situations. It seems it is the breath awareness without the counting. It gives a space, a distance between you and the situation. And it seems to help.

thank you Mischa. Yes +ve thoughts can be a distraction! SDA is extremely hard. I tried it for the first time today with real intent..... i couldnt get past 2. Have to keep at it. Thanks again.

It's a fascinating process and even more difficult to articulate it, which you do quite well. The gym/ excercise analogy is quite apt. The focus on the breath is the main thing and the distractions/thoughts seem to fall in proper perspective , if that makes any sense.

Thanks Mischa. One more Q. I did SDA last 2/3 days with serious intent..... I found an immediate sense of relief and I see that it was because for that duration, I was not focusing on my Anxiety/worry/fear. That 10 minutes of relief itself felt like a huge burden lifted. Here is my Q though - how do u know when you are distracted? If I am counting, there is a part of my mind that is monitoring and that is already detracting attention. In its purest form, if ALL the attention is on breath, there will be just that and NO THING else. I will refer back to a psychedelic experience I had in AMS meditating on a canal street. I entered an internal world of pure nothingness from which I could see creation happen. When I was in that internal world, I had no idea of the external world. At some point with no volitional intent whatsoever, completely spontaneously, my eyes opened and there i was on the street in Amsterdam. Then again my eyes closed spontaneously and the internal world was all there was. This happened several times over the course of 3 hours or so. So if I am really focussed on the breath there will be no concept of counting. I hope this doesn't sound too - i just want to know Im doing it correctly. I question that if I'm counting, am i not already distracted? Or is the intent to only have two streams of thought - one on the breath and one that 'oversees' by counting breaths? And anything else is a distraction that resets me to 1?


So if I am really focussed on the breath there will be no concept of counting. I hope this doesn't sound too - i just want to know Im doing it correctly. I question that if I'm counting, am i not already distracted?

I seem to have the similar question to feraldream's. Sometimes when trying to really focus on breathing, I totally forget at which number I was in my breath before... but I think it doesn't matter, because the main purpose - I assume - is not reaching 10 and win, but is just focussing on breathing and I think counting should just help to distract from other thoughts.

I catch your drift. It seems to me the counting and the breath are like 2 sides of the same coin. We breath whether we count or not, that's automatic. The counting is the control or monitor, the standard that we ARE observing our breath and not something else, the distractions. When I am aware that I lost the count, then I realize I'm distracted and start again.


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