How to tranquillize bodily and mental formations


Thank you Bhante for this great advice, looks the training mentioned in suttas is for sustained mindfulness on breath itself which tranquilizes the formations, now I have experienced it as well.

Though there are moments after prolonged sitting causing pain which disrupt this mindfulness, any recommendation for such painful occasions.


I am Sorry, this forum is not a place to give meditation advices. You should personally contact a meditation teacher.


I thought Buddha said Bhikkhu’s after I am gone the dhamma is the teacher and you do not need any specific personals advices, or teachers, so asking for dhamma to provide some help and this forum is one of the largest collection of dhamma teachings


This might help. It is from SN42.12:

These two extremes should not be cultivated by one who has gone forth.
Indulgence in sensual pleasures, which is low, crude, ordinary, ignoble, and pointless. And indulgence in self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, and pointless.

Hence, we have the middle way. Also note that there are different forms of meditation to explore and practice in combination: sitting, walking, standing, reclining. For example, during zazen sitting practice, we would regularly walk about in kinhin meditation. Different teachers and traditions address this in their own ways. Ask around in your own local context if possible.


Assessing meditation experience is the trickiest thing. However, according to your experience you may have drawn into conclusions which is a little bit risky.

Normally there is a gap between what we imagine before hand and the real experience (Cintāmayeñana and bhāvanāmayeñana).

Normally, the advices should be more specific for the development of the meditation. Thats why I suggested you to ask a teacher.

Do not draw into conclutions. Always be doubtful about your conclusions.
Do not share your meditation experience publicly.
If you are practising anāpānasati, simply you have to be mindful on your breath, more precisely, the contact of the air on you nose tip or lip. According to anapanasatisutta, there is no other place to experience untill nirodha.
Because, it says (16th)

Yasmiṃ samaye, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ‘aniccānupassī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘aniccānupassī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; ‘virāgānupassī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘virāgānupassī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; ‘nirodhānupassī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘nirodhānupassī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; ‘paṭinissaggānupassī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘paṭinissaggānupassī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; dhammesu dhammānupassī, bhikkhave, tasmiṃ samaye bhikkhu viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. So yaṃ taṃ abhijjhādomanassānaṃ pahānaṃ taṃ paññāya disvā sādhukaṃ ajjhupekkhitā hoti. Tasmātiha, bhikkhave, dhammesu dhammānupassī tasmiṃ samaye bhikkhu viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. (MN118)

When you do not feel your breath keep your attention to the place that you earlier felt the breath untill you feel it again. What ever your experience is your main goal is to keep your attention on your breath, everything else is spontaneous.

For the pain,
If you meditation 30 min - 1hr for a session is enough. when you feel the pain, it might be due to exhausting or due to cleared and developed attention (/sati)
(This is just the way you feeling it but the real pain is much smaller and its like when you touch a 100 C hot cake and 100 C hot aluminum plate, you’ll feel aluminum is hotter but in reality it is not.)
Vissuddhimagga is a good read except its explaination on the image. Vimuttimagga has cearly explained that part. As long as there are no EBTs explaining basic meditation experiences on the practice you may have to rely on recent books on meditation.


Thank you again Bhante, out of curiosity and understanding cause and effect may I ask why? [quote=“Amatabhani, post:26, topic:14250”]
Do not draw into conclutions. Always be doubtful about your conclusions.
Isn’t the practice to remove doubts and delusions


This keeps you from wrong conclusions and misunderstandings of meditation experience. People tend to believe unvaluable results valuable in meditation, thats why.
Doubt helps you to identify deceits from the truth.


Since we are discussing a practical aspect, may I suggest a practical demonstration?
You could pick up any of the recent (dated within last 1 year or so) Ajahn Brahm Friday night guided meditations and do the meditation… the way he goes part by part to still the body and then calm the emotions (the PeaceOmeter :joy:) fits the sutta description perfectly. As far as I can break down the practical instructions, he starts off by changing posture to a comfortable one, then switches to concious relaxation during a body scan, going onto peace and ‘letting go’… and the end result is usually the stilling of body formations and the calming of the emotions. Of course, every teacher does it differently, and even if you take a single teacher like Ajahn Brahm and go through the guided meditations over the years, you can see how his technique has been evolving.
In the end, I guess there is no ‘best way’… rather its whatever works for you… even jhana is conditioned after all- so the nature of the required conditions in any particular case will always differ!


Yes I had seen this meditation, peaceometer works some time 30 min or an hour after which it falls apart, if you sit for hours there is suffering that’s when tranquillizers are required

Seen some videos where folks talk about Ajhan Chah’s full night still sitting meditation, including monks and leh community, mentioning he used to sit like a rock, wondering which tranquillizers worked there


Meditation masters are adept at achieving higher states such as Jhana, wherein there is supposed to be minimal / no sensory input that arrives to disturb the mind. Even the breathing is described as ‘stopped’ at these higher states. But these are a matter of practice and conditioning- one can’t achieve such stillness by an act of will.

The path to the Jhanas is well described by Ajahn Brahm in his many books on Meditation such as this one. It may perhaps answer your question.


Not just masters, the entire community used to sit all night without moving YouTube check at 6:35, don’t expect here everyone was in Jhanas and wondering how


An excerpt from Ajahn Amaro’s ‘Finding the missing peace’ - a primer of Buddhist meditation.

Q: Could you talk about the body and movement – particularly the question of when to move to relieve discomfort in sitting meditation?
A: Movement is a major part of meditation practice. When I first walked
into a monastery in Thailand, I had never meditated before. We would sit on
a thin grass mat on a concrete floor. Each sitting was an hour long, and you
weren’t supposed to move. So, my immediate introduction to meditation
after the first 15 minutes was pain.
But it’s important to realize that Buddhist meditation isn’t a masochistic
enterprise, even though it sometimes ends up that way. We don’t seek physical pain – it’s a side effect rather than the purpose. We would all be quite
happy without it. But there are a couple of issues we need to deal with in
terms of physical pain.
First, how we learn to deal with physical pain in a skilful way translates
directly into how we deal with emotional pain. Physical pain is a very simple
monosyllabic language: “Ouch.” “This hurts.” “Don’t want.” “Get away.”
“Stop.” “Ah, that’s better.” On the other hand, our reaction to emotional 
42 ~ Finding the Missing Peace
pain is convoluted and distracting. So it’s very useful to learn how to work
with physical discomfort with a balance of movement and stillness. Approaching pain with attitudes like, “I vowed I’m not going to move,” “Everyone’s watching,” “It’s wrong to move – I should force my way through
it,” is a direct route to the osteopath, if not the emergency room. You can’t
just force yourself with will power – the body won’t comply. You can override pain for a while, but you feel pain because the body is being stressed to
some degree. It’s a warning sign. If you’re rigid or stiff, you break. If, at the
other extreme, you’re completely limp and, as soon as you feel a slight bit
of discomfort, you start fidgeting, then you will never experience any really
deep peace, because you’ve developed a blind reactivity towards pain. If you
move as soon as you experience discomfort, you make yourself vulnerable
and weak.
What Buddhism calls the Middle Way is a balance between these extremes. This balance is not a matter of deciding to move half the time
and remain still half the time; it’s something different. The Middle Way is
like the point from which the two extremes pivot, not just being halfway
between the two, or going 50/50. It’s the source of the two extremes. It is
achieved by finding the right attitude towards discomfort.
When we feel physical pain, our first instinct is to tense up against it,
to resist it, be frightened of it or annoyed with it. This feels like a reasonable hatred; it seems totally valid to dislike the pain just because it’s not
pleasure. Just as in the example above about the noise in the street during
Ajahn Chah’s meditation session, it seems reasonable to think that the noise
is annoying me. The pain in the knee seems annoying, but as Ajahn Chah
pointed out, it’s really you annoying the pain. The mind grabs hold of the
pain and starts a fight with it. With meditation, you start to let go of the
reactivity, of the thought that the pain is bad, that it shouldn’t be there, you
don’t want it, and you begin to ask what is really going on.
As we discussed earlier, pain is exactly like sound: if you can’t hide it,
then make a feature of it. If pain in the back, the leg, the arm, or wherever it
is grabs your attention, don’t look at it as an irritation, distracting you from
the breath. Let go of the breath and give the pain centre stage. Explore the
pain. You will begin to notice that the feeling is unpleasant just as a sound 
Movement and Stillness ~ 43
might be irritating. Don’t try to make it pleasant or block it out. Simply
recognize it as an unpleasant feeling. You’ll start to see that the feeling is
one thing, and what the mind adds to it is another. Even if the mind buys
into the resistance, you can catch it and see that happening. You can recognize the pain as just a feeling and begin to see the distance between the
discomfort and real physical damage. You will find that you can learn to be
with that uncomfortable feeling, not by being tough and resisting it through
strength alone, but by being able to simply know that it is an unpleasant
feeling. You don’t have to hate it, fight it, or worry about it. If you need to,
you can move, but you can stay with it as long as it’s bearable, seeing that
it’s not that bad.
The main point is to adjust your attitude towards it. Establish an attitude of determination not to start a war with your own body. From that perspective, you will find that the discomfort can be present, but that you can
be quite at peace with it. If you find yourself looking at the discomfort as an
annoying intruder ruining your meditation, bring in an attitude of kindness
– loving-kindness – towards the pain, towards the feeling that is not likeable.
To employ loving-kindness doesn’t mean we try to like the pain. We simply
recognize and accept the presence of the pain in the leg, or the headache.
You can’t will it away, but softening the attitude towards it is the first step.
The second step is that in bringing the pain into the centre of attention,
you begin to notice that you’ve become tense by resisting the discomfort.
You can then relax the body like relaxing into a yoga pose. When doing
yoga, you might try to get the pose right, and you can be rigid in that effort.
But then you learn to relax into it and suddenly an extra couple of inches
manifest from somewhere, enabling you to move fully into the pose. Working with pain in meditation is exactly the same. You see how you tense up
against it, and then you relax into it. You see how the joints in the hips, in
the knees – all the way through – are tight. Physically relaxing the system
actually reduces the tension that you create through resistance to the pain.
As the tension drops, the cause of the pain is substantially removed. The degree of pain goes down, and the fact that you’re not fighting with it means
that even though there’s discomfort, it’s not a problem.
When you work with pain in this more genuine and direct way, you 
44 ~ Finding the Missing Peace
will develop a much more accurate intuitive sense of your own body. Then,
when you know your body is really being stressed, that you’ve pushed yourself too hard, you know that it’s time to move. When you move, it’s not an
act of aversion to the pain, it’s an act of kindness towards the body. This is
a major difference.
Ajahn Chah would say, “Always wait for a few minutes. When you really
want to move, just wait. For another minute or two, just wait. Just relax a
bit. Be patient.” For this kind of waiting to be most useful, you have to wait
until the motivation to move is not out of aversion to the pain, but out of
kindness to the body. You need to be careful, though, because your “inner
lawyer” will try to convince you that you’re being kind, just to get you to
move at any cost. But you need to examine whether you’re really being kind
or whether you’re moving out of fear or avoidance. The blessing of waiting,
of being patient, is that when you move, there’s a physical release and relief
in the heart as well. If you move out of fear and avoidance of the pain,
then when there’s another twitch, you will go right back to the fear/aversion
tangle again.
Working with chronic pain that has nothing to do with the posture of
the body is exactly the same. Let yourself fully accept it in your heart. It
makes a huge difference.
Working with physical pain this way is useful, because you start to relate to emotional pain in the same way. You can be with grief or anger or
sadness or fear and abide with them – accepting them, knowing them, and
letting go of them – in exactly the same way.

BTW, I don’t know your level of development, but just in case you’re wondering about the difference in approach between Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Amaro, its because they tend towards two different technical ‘flavours’ of Meditation- Samatha vs Vipassana. Depending on which way your mind tends to go, the techniques used would differ- though all methods converge in the end to the same goal.


Thank you for reminding us of this Bhante.


OOps… I seem to be running on the razor’s edge here! :thinking:

Perhaps a disclaimer might be in order :laughing:… something on the lines of

“These ideas/ concepts/extracts have been offered only to those interested in the subject of Meditation, for the purpose of General Information and only to serve for discussion points about how current Meditation Practices have evolved/ are sourced from the Early Buddhist Texts. Nothing contained herein should be considered a solicitation to practice meditation using any of these techniques. Please, always contact a suitable teacher first. If that’s not possible, please read extensively around the topic before attempting any of the practices on your own. Meditation can have beneficial as well as unpleasant and sometimes even potentially harmful results. In rare cases, unsupervised meditation may trigger various latent psychoses/ personality disorders that you may not even know you have. Various physical injuries may also result from unsupervised Meditation practice.”

OK, that’s supposed to be a humorous/ tongue in cheek comment - a riff on the SEC warning before buying stocks/ securities. :smile: Please don’t be offended.

Seriously, Right Speech on the internet seems much more difficult than in real life. (not that that’s a cakewalk either!)
Much Metta! May we all find our way to the far shore.


Thank you for sending this link to missing peace, its incredible advice for beginners and provides the most appropriate tranquillization (lesson 2 at the end). The silence between the breath etc, guided explanation of how to stay between two extremes is very well explained here and there is even mp3 audio to listen

I feel while the videos of Ajahn Brahm are full of wisdom and mostly relate to higher stages of meditation on how to shine nimitta’s and expect / perfect Jhanas, the basics for beginner to start are more better explained by Ajahn Amaro’s sessions.

I appreciate the role moderators are playing here to keep the advice’s succinct and within boundaries of teachings, this is just an elaboration of the particular step in one of the most common and core suttas MN118, which might be very natural to adept practitioners, beginners like me struggle to understand the details here.

Thanks to everyone for all your help.


Bodily formations are not heat, cold etc. In Chulavedalla Sutta Arahath Bhikkuni tells non-returner Visaka, in and out breath Visaka is of body, is associated with body and is thus in and out breath is bodily-formation.