Concentration vs Natural Witnessing


Dear Ly, can I ask if Vipassana meditation (specifically, the practice of “observing” the breath and sensations) supports or contradicts the practice of awareness?

In my personal experience, when I practice meditation by observing my breathing and feeling, there are times when I can interrupt the wandering states of mind, which means I don’t get caught up in them anymore, and in times when there are emotions strong rise (ie: fear, restlessness, boredom, frustration, desire…) it also helps me to go through quite well, but I still feel that observation state is not as natural as simply witnessing, because with Vipassana I have to focus my attention on the breath and sensations (i.e., prioritizing the objects of breath and sensations) while practicing mindfulness as instructed by you there is no focus anywhere, all objects are equal.

  However, with your way of practice I found it quite difficult to actively witness, it’s really random because only when I remembered then I could witness for a short while, whereas with vipassana I am more in control (maybe it’s because I’ve been practicing Vipassana meditation for more than 2 years) Hope to hear from you.


It is important to understand 3 things:

  1. You should find out if concentrating purposefully on a predetermined object is Vipassana meditation or is it Samadhi meditation. It is necessary to research carefully in advance so as not to assume that you are practicing Vipassana.

2. Whether there are any benefits when one practice the meditation of focusing, awaiting, scanning, keeping track of a certain object.. ? Is this practice support the process of awakening/knowing/enlightening/seeing the truth?

-> The temporary benefits of this is to avoid the natural process of the mind, using subtle will to suppress, guide, and focus one’s attention on one point to temporarily “forget” reality. The use of this concentration is a very subtle way to alter the natural state of body/feelings/mind/dhammas.

In urgent cases, when one’s inner being is too shaken, in order to avoid creating and causing harm to oneself and others, this practice can be used as a form of first aid.

 It is a very good supplement for people who are in panic, easy to lose their temper, whose minds are too confused. With the urgent help of distracting one’s mind, this person can have more time and composure to have the opportunity to practice properly later on. 

In essence, focusing on a predetermined object has no effect on developing wisdom or insight, that is, does not help one see and know the mind’s phenomena AS IT IS.

It is only when we see the body/ mind and the dharmas as it is that there is the realization of the mind’s programming and its causes and effects, with this insight one then can naturally stop clinging to these programmings.

3. Are you practicing to have peace, to tame the mind, or to have enlightenment and liberation (from the wrong inertia of the mind)?

Depending on the end goal, a person’s practice direction will also be different. 

Also depending on a person’s base and level, the instructor will help that person to practice specific way.

In my experience, choosing where to focus is actually a distraction which does not develop wisdom nor insight, it can only temporarily avoid or unintentionally inhibit the arising thoughts/anger. That’s the reason why you find this concentration practice “effective” in reducing distractions.

In fact, the wandering mind is not reduced, but only temporarily inhibited. That’s why a person who only tries to distract and inhibit the mind for the rest of his life will not be enlightened because he cannot see the true nature of the mind, even though he may have a temporary peace.

The practice of seeing and knowing correctly the body, feeling, mind, and dharma means to let that witness be natural, seeing things as they are, whether it is in the body or feeling or in the mind or in the dharma.

Due to the false inertia of the mind that is used to controlling and seeking, the natural pure perception will not be frequent at first.

But each pure witness moment itself has reversed deep habits, returning the mind to its pure state. Gradually, that clarity will be more visible and more fundamental, less obscured by the controlling or seeking habits of the mind.

When you choose to actively observe, IT IS WRONG. 😊

It is that active mind that is using the will to observe.

If you have been used to sophisticated seekings for 2 years, your mind will surely have many such habits when you first practice pure witnessing.

Witness that seeking habits as well.


Yes, thank you very much, It’s very clear to me 😃

I can simply understand the meditation of focusing on an object is like taking painkillers when having an attack, but pure witnessing or seeing thing as it is – is like taking antibiotics to cure the root of a disease, both of which have certain effects, it depends on how to use them right (Because everyone’s goal is to heal the root but sometimes also take pain relievers when needed).


That’s right. To cure a disease at its root, one must see the root cause of the disease, from habits to the interplay of body, feelings, mind, and dharmas..

But in order to see the root causes, you must let everything be as it is in order to see it as it is.

If you look at enough data, you will understand and gain wisdom. If you have wisdom, you will know what to do next.

When you have the tools and know them, you can use them flexibly. As long as you don’t mistake pain reliever for a cure, it’s fine.

5 days later, this meditator came back and asked again



Regarding the recent experience of practicing mindfulness, after I “let go” of focusing on the breath and the feeling, just considering it equal to other phenomena, I found that it was true that I had previously attached to the breath and feeling 😃. I realise that this is also a form of attachment, is the same pattern of attachment.

I also see more of the unconscious programmings of the mind, and generally feel more awake in everyday life.

  However, I find it difficult to witness when I just wake up (at that time, I still know it, but it’s very vague) and when I was having Rem sleep. Do you have any advice for me about this?

1. Practice witness when I just wake up, or when I am having light dreaming

2. When tired how can I “stay” with the uncomfortable feeling, ie I don’t chase it away unconsciously anymore?? Thank you.


1. Don’t try to witness according to YOUR will. Let the mind soften naturally. When you sleep, it’s time to rest, not the time to turn on the lights. This applies to natural witnessing in the day time as well. Just let it be natural.

2. Witness the tendency of wanting to chase uncomfortable feelings. Besides that don’t try anything.

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