May you Alfalco and everyone be well.
Welcome to the forum and I sincerely hope that puredhamma can help you in any way along your path. This is just a personal opinion, I believe you made a wise decision in being open to investigate / explore the pure dhamma that’s was disseminate by Venerable Waharaka Thero and now his disciples / followers. I don’t suggest you take any teachings here with blind faith or any teachings/teachers for that matter. No matter how things turn out for you here at puredhamma, I’m happy to see that you at least open yourself to the Budddha dhamma that’s being shared here.
I can’t say I know or understand a lot about meditation, or that I’m doing it correctly. What I’m about to share is based on my own experiences and personal beliefs. For me, one thing that that I learned / noticed while practicing meditation and the Buddha dhamma is that most people differ in ways on how they see / understand the Buddha dhamma. As well not always one technique or way of meditation works all the time or that’s effective at a given time. What I mean by this is that for me at least, is that at certain times, a technique or way works really well for me and seems like I’m making minor progress. While hours later or the next day, I try to use the same technique or method and I end up hitting a wall or barrier or some sort within my mind. For example, one day it seems like I’m gaining momentum in investigating / exploring the different ways of understanding the Tilakkhana. The next day, I could try the same approach, same technique and nothing. No progress and at times I feel like I really have to force my mind to go back to contemplating or practicing the way I did the day before where I felt like I was making progress and felt easy / neutral. Sometimes when that happens, my mind seems to hit a barrier or a wall and not able to gain any momentum / traction in my meditation practice like I could the day or hours before. When that happens, I try to switch between different techniques / dhamma subjects to meditate on. I could be doing great in my formal meditation meditating on the Tilakkhana, but the next day, my mind doesn’t even want to go there and when I try to force my mind to go there, it just seems to be hitting barriers or walls and I’m not able to maintain my focus there. I would try to force my mind for some time, but if I feel it’s not working, then I try to switch it up to metta bhavana meditation. If that’s not working, then I switch to something else, like contemplating on different Buddhist core teachings and try to find a Buddha dhamma subject / concept that I feel my mind is more ready to accept at the time of my formal or anapanasati meditation.
I believe it’s important to be rigid yet flexible with one’s mind when practicing and learning the Buddha dhamma. What I mean by the rigid part is that whatever we’re meditating on or practice, it should be in accordance / consistent with the Buddha dhamma. For example, we’re not going to meditate on how we can get rich in this world, or how we can gain superpowers so we can show off, etc . . . Yet our meditation practice is flexible enough where we can experiment / try out different approaches/techniques that might be more effective at certain times / situations that’s in accordance with the Buddha Dhamma. Or being able to contemplating on different Buddha Dhamma subjects interchangeably.
I believe by being more flexible with one’s meditation practice it give us more ways / options / choices that we can choose / decide on that can better benefit our Buddha Dhamma practice. Remember that what one technique or contemplating on one Buddha dhamma concept might not always be the most effective or right for each individual at that current time. But this doesn’t necessary mean it won’t be at a later or any given time.
It’s unfortunate that so much emphasize is being placed on formal meditation out there and even more unfortunate that most of the things being taught to meditate on is not the most correct or beneficial that’s available to the individual. Just like how you were, including me and I’m sure others on here were once taught to focus on our breath in our formal meditation. I could be wrong about this, but it seems like not much emphasize is being placed on “what one does outside of formal meditation practice” compared to what one should do in formal meditation practice that’s being disseminated out there in the “popularly” taught Theravada Buddhism. In my personal opinion / view, what one does outside of formal meditation sessions is just as if not more important than what one does in formal meditation sessions, which is was more emphasized here at puredhamma. What I’m finding is that the more correctly / in accordance that I practice / follow the Buddha Dhamma outside of formal meditation sessions in my everyday lay life. The easier my formal meditation are. What I mean by “easier” is that I’m able to sit for longer periods of time, I’m able to go deeper into my formal meditation, I’m able to gain more clarity / understanding of the Buddha dhamma, etc . . .
For me personally, I haven’t placed much attention or emphasize satipatthana bhavana in my practice. But I do focus a lot on learning / contemplating on the Tilakkhana, 4 Noble truths and other core Buddhist teachings, as well being mindful of practicing Anapanasati whenever I can. What I’m finding is that when I focus on these two things, it seems like everything else falls into place. It’s hard to describe to others or would take very long to type this out. But I feel by practicing Anapanasati, learning / contemplating on core Buddhist teachings. All the other Buddhist meditation techniques / understanding of the Buddha dhamma comes naturally. To me at my current understanding / practice, it feels like I don’t have to do anything “extra” or need to do anything else besides focusing on the two things that I just mentioned. When I practice anapansati, it feels like I’m also practicing satipatthana bhavana. When I’m learning / contemplating / understanding of core Buddhist teachings like the Tilakkhana and others. I feel like I don’t really need to do anything else or extra. I guess this is the best that I can explain my experience so far, although it’s subject to change and once again not saying my practice is the right one, especially for others.
After saying all this, in the end my personal belief and experience is that before deciding what meditation techniques one should use or even thinking of focusing on formal meditation. I believe the most important thing is one must learn the Buddha Dhamma that facilitate the path to Nibbana from an Ariya (Noble disciple). Then investigate, experiment, and apply what one has learned into ones’ own life experiences to gain further understanding and realizations of the core Buddhist teachings such as the Tilakkhana, 4 Four Nobles, Paticca Samuppada, Assada / Adinava / Nissarana, etc . . . From my own path so far, I believe one of the most important thing is to be exposed and be able to comprehend the proper / correct meanings of the Tilakkhana and other core Buddhist teachings. Without this foundation or the “right” view, pretty much all meditation and practice would not be very beneficial or one would not be able to bring out the full potential of such practices.
This post really sums up on something that I have been realizing on a deeper level in the last past 2 weeks or so. As well give more detailed explanation on some of the things that I mentioned but didn’t give further details or explanations.
In regards to your question about the 32 parts of body meditation. In my current practice, I don’t really use it, but I have tried it before. In my personal opinion, especially this meditation technique, I feel one really needs a solid understanding / foundation of the core Buddhist teachings to be able to draw out it’s full potential, but this could be said for all the other meditation techniques. Personally for my current practice, I just keeping things as simple as possible such as learning and contemplating on key dhamma concepts especially the Tilakkhana. Practice Anapanasati in my everyday lay life as much as I can. I can’t say this is the same for others, but what I’m finding out is that when I focus on doing these two things, the other parts of the Buddhist practice just falls into place by itself. To me it seems like when my understanding of the Tilakkhana and other core Buddhist teachings is solid, all these meditation techniques and practices just comes naturally. I don’t need to look for them, but they come to me naturally at the appropriate time. When I’m practicing Anapanasati or Anuloma Khanti and Sammattaniyama, I feel like there’s nothing else that I need to do. I don’t need to any meditation techniques, don’t need to read or listen to the dhamma or really need to do anything. Just do my best to keep my mind focus there and allow the momentum to build. It seems like instead of me having to put so much effort, the process is automatic and it takes over and it becomes “effortless”. Of course I’m not always in this state in my everyday life, but it seems like that’s the direction where my practice is taking me. Once again, I’m not saying my practice is correct / right or suitable for others. It’s just that this is what’s working for me “right now”, of course this is subject to change and things might change in the future which is okay. After all I do personally believe that being flexible and being able to adapt to change is an important quality to have while one is walking on the noble 8 fold path.
If you have other questions, feel free to ask. I wish you and everyone the best in your dhamma practice.