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Author Topic: How has meditation changed your life?  (Read 17423 times)

Copey

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How has meditation changed your life?
« on: Sunday 13 February 2011, 03:29 PM »
I have been meditating now for the best part of four years now. Over time I noticed miraculous changes within myself. I used to suffer with anxiety, depression and panic attacks. It was so bad that I could barely get out of bed, I couldn't make friends or get a girlfriend, and I couldn't get a job. Life was hell and I was suicidal for a long time. One day, I was on a website about anxiety disorder when I read a post by a lady who said she was going to try meditation as an aid to help her deal with her mental problems. Being curious, I googled meditation and anxiety and I was astounded at the positive results people claimed they'd had at dealing with depression and anxiety through the use of meditation. From that day onwards, I decided I was going to meditate. It was so hard in the beginning and required so much discipline. But I was so desperate to dig myself out of the hole I'd gotten myself into that I carried on. And slowly but surely, things began to change. I will always remember the time four months into my practice when I was talking to somebody at college one day and I felt much more relaxed and less nervous than usual. That was the turning point and the first sign that things were getting better and I've continued with my practice ever since. Four years on and depression and anxiety are no longer a part of my life, I have a beautiful girlfriend whom I love very much and to top it all off we're expecting a new baby boy in May. All of these things seemed impossible just a few short years ago and I cannot believe how far I have come. So now I put the question to you. How has meditation and the dhamma changed your life? Stories like these can give inspiration to people who are suffering out there.
Kindest regards,
Craig

Morning Dew

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 13 February 2011, 07:45 PM »
Hi Craig and thanks for sharing my friend.

I started practicing Shamatha (Calm-abiding) approx 1 year ago, thanks to finding this forum. Before that I practiced other meditation techniques which have nothing to do with insight and a lot with fabrication like visualising and deep loud breathing etc...

Only two years ago I felt like there is no life left in me. After seeing a shrink for a while I realised that I am not dealing well with my very best friend's death. I didn't even cry when he died. I was so shocked that I simply ignored that fact and continued like nothing happened.
From that day on I kept sinking more and more.

I became very aggressive, restless, couldn't find piece.

So at one stage I felt so desperate that I started googling for love, faith, belief, hope, calm, ... and I came across a page with crystal healing. That is where my "spiritual" journey started. After "practicing" crystal healing for a few month I (the ego-self) discovered Reiki and all the magic part about it was so interesting that I (the self) had to become a Reiki Healer. So I got attuned by the masters and started "channeling" energy healing others and healing my self.
I kept healing other and myself and after about a year I felt that I was still very restless and very aggressive and I could see the reason why reiki didn't work for me.

This led me towards meditation to calm the ego-self. Did one Misogi breathing technique for a few month but nothing much happened except I did calm down a bit but there was something deeper going on in me I could not grasp. So I kept searching and found this forum, this lovely Sangha  :) which was very supportive and even comforting at times.

I am very glad I have found this practice of Calm-abiding and at the moment my wife is starting to engage into it with me. She started to realise that I am not talking to her in the same way as before and yet she is still talking to me in the old fashion (power trip). I stopped reacting to her fights and now I actually only laugh a lot, not to piss her off but because it is so freaking funny to see her talk that way and remembering my self talking the same, clinging to the same.
She is sitting with me now every morning for the last week  :)

The meditation practice was indeed a bit rough at the start because the ego-self felt that the habit will change so it fought back which is only normal, so I advice to all people new to meditation to jump into practicing it daily and stick to it because behind those cold dark clouds of ignorance the sun is always warm and shiny  :)

Thanks for starting this thread Craig.

Friendly Che

Offline Andrew

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #2 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 09:00 AM »
Hi Craig and thanks for sharing my friend.

I am very glad I have found this practice of Calm-abiding and at the moment my wife is starting to engage into it with me. She started to realise that I am not talking to her in the same way as before and yet she is still talking to me in the old fashion (power trip). I stopped reacting to her fights and now I actually only laugh a lot, not to piss her off but because it is so freaking funny to see her talk that way and remembering my self talking the same, clinging to the same.
She is sitting with me now every morning for the last week  :)


Friendly Che

That is really powerful Che. Wow. It's really early days for me, but I hope for the same here. Thanks for sharing that, it is very encouraging.

Hi Craig,
that is a real heart touching account mate, to see the transformation like you did, I wish I could have a whole lot of people I know met you and hear this story. It makes me feel like I know you, just in the way you told it. Best wishes for parenthood as well, please let us know the good news. Oh, and some advise, make sure she is relaxing and quits work as soon as she can (if you can afford it obviously), too many women think they are superheros; they need to relax and be pregnant, it's a lot of work on it's own! (I have 4 children) . Either way, stay strong and peaceful. Thanks for your story, please stick around and share more of your advice as well ;D

love

Andy
getting it done

Offline Vivek

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #3 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 05:04 PM »
Really heart-touching account, Craig. :) Thanks for sharing.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Offline Stefan

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #4 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 07:01 PM »



Interesting question ... meditating actually didn't change my life, but meditation made me be much more aware of my life ... or any life ... as a result of this increased awareness I started to change my life in several small and a few big ways. Now I am the horse and the rider.

 :)
anicca

Offline kidnovice

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #5 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 07:31 PM »
Man, several years of meditation, and all I got was this lousy cushion! Seriously, it hasn't gotten me anything as far as I can tell--no girlfriend, no job. What a jip. ;D

Alright, I'm kidding, but only half-kidding. Here's what I have gotten: I basically have a much stronger sense of contentment that persists even when things aren't going so well for me. It can be a strange feeling. I also think I'm basically kinder and more patient with others and myself. When my mind starts generating unskillful states, I tend to have more space around them. As a result, I'm pretty sure that they pass more quickly. I should mention that if I don't meditate regularly, these benefits definitely diminish.

And truly, Copey. That was a wonderful story you shared. I'm happy for you!

And Che...

She is sitting with me now every morning for the last week  :)

Wow, that's amazing! Its real indication of the great progress you have made. I remember your earlier postings about how weird she thought your practice was. (which it is :D) The fact that she has decided to sit with you, even for just a few mornings shows how much you have changed. Its only natural that people can recognize that change in you, and then want to discover for themselves what you've found.

Much metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Morning Dew

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #6 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 08:27 PM »
Quote
Wow, that's amazing! Its real indication of the great progress you have made
 

KN my ego loves you man  :-*  :D you just never went against egos. You just always find right words.
I actually learned from you that ego can be encouraged with kind words to continue sitting and keep at it  ;D
It is true, ego is the one sitting and ego is the one feeling the day of the gilotine is getting near and is panicking, so kind words gives the ego comfort to carry on.
You just mastered the art of skillful speaking, you did.
You are good you KN  ;D you are good you  ;) you got it all figured out my man  :D I'll be keeping my eye on youuuu!

Friendly Che
« Last Edit: Monday 14 February 2011, 09:08 PM by Che Guebuddha »

Offline Quardamon

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #7 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 08:49 PM »
Wow, Kindnovice,
Soon you will have a lot of medals, and a kiss of the queen - I am trying to contact her for that. ;) And then you will have  to learn how to handle that.
I love you. Happy Valentine's Day.
Quardamon Kidding.

Jeeprs

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #8 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 08:56 PM »
I started a long time back, I'm in my fifties now. I never had problems with anxiety or depression although was inclined to moodiness and self-indulgence. My aim was always spiritual - I felt there was something more to life than what I had been told, and nobody around me seemed to know what it was. I found a teacher and read a lot of spiritual books. Gradually I have become more committed to the Buddhist teaching. Over the years it has made me a much better human being, more considerate, less moody, and more compassionate.

One of the books that really influenced me at the start was Zen Mind Beginner's Mind which is the founding text of the San Francisco Zen Centre. The teacher, Suzuki-roshi, cautions against practicing meditation with 'ideas of selfish gain'. I always felt if I could persist in practice with this attitude, it would provide the greatest benefit not only for myself but 'for all sentient beings'. That has become my main aspiration, and the work goes on.

Morning Dew

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #9 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 09:07 PM »
Quote
cautions against practicing meditation with 'ideas of selfish gain'.

 :)

Offline kidnovice

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #10 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 11:41 PM »
Yeah, Che and I are total ego-strokers.

"You're so cool!"
"No, you're so cool!"
"No, YOU are cool!"
"But, I'm telling you, YOU are really cool!"

And round and round, we go.  ;D But its not so bad. Harmony and encouragement are wonderful things. They are the foundation of sangha. I also have complete faith that we could challenge each other, and accept such challenge, when needed.  ;)

Metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Offline kidnovice

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #11 on: Monday 14 February 2011, 11:48 PM »
The teacher, Suzuki-roshi, cautions against practicing meditation with 'ideas of selfish gain'.


As always, Sukuki's words are incredibly wise. But the opposing view is equally important: the path is founded on a gesture of love for yourself, and if you can't really love yourself, then you can't love others. (of course, if you're IN love with yourself, you probably won't get far either!).

Here's a brilliantly clear article on the topic by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

Hang On To Your Ego
« Last Edit: Monday 14 February 2011, 11:52 PM by kidnovice »
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Morning Dew

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #12 on: Tuesday 15 February 2011, 06:03 AM »
Quote
Yeah, Che and I are total ego-strokers.

This is actually very true, it is just that I approach the ego from the opposite side, I rather shake it up by provoking it (you probably noticed that).
I would say your way is much more fruitful than mine, but then again some might just realise their face was already up their arses when I provoked their ego and might realise the truth  ;D  you can call me Kyosaku aka Che Guebuddha  ;D


Offline Stefan

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #13 on: Tuesday 15 February 2011, 07:39 AM »


ah yes ... how did meditation change your way of dealing with your ego?  :)

Meditation taught me to accept the ego as I accept my knees or my kidneys.

There are some esotheric traditions that try to strangle the ego ... students lead a real war against a part of their brain ...
The Ego has some jobs to do. In a dual material world like this one, the Ego is some sort of navigator on our life"ship". On a planet full of mindblowing miracles, on a planet that moves around the sun with 70000 mph) it is the part that deals with the shopping.  ;)
The problem with the Ego is: it believes it is the captain! (A belief nourished by the fact that most people are not aware of their true self). But the Ego isn't captain, because I am. .... that's where the "esotheric war against the Ego" comes from.

So ... become friends with the ego again is one of the basics of meditation. Sit down with your ego and have a talk. Take your ego to meditation, show it around. If the Ego intereferes in meditation, then it is because it didn't understand something (like the momentarily dissolution of the body ... Egos hate that sort of thing because they need the body to go shopping). Explain the ego what is happening ... stroke it if it needs to be ....

there is no "dissolving the ego" in this life since it is a brain function. but meditation teaches the Ego some humbleness.

Metta to you, Stefan
anicca

Offline chintan

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #14 on: Tuesday 15 February 2011, 12:59 PM »
My practice is still limited to 3-4 sittings a week and the changes I can perceive are not Earth shaking but worth taking a note of - my marriage had not been going anywhere for the last 5 years - we have been married for 10 years now. Both of us are working professionals and that sort of brought in the marriage its own dynamics - to top it all we both chucked our jobs about a year apart and started our individual ventures.

In fact I made a conscious decision to take a break - go to a Vipassana retreat and started my venture in July 2009. All this while through rough marriage, financial difficulties and the stress of managing a new business meditation actually provided me a very strong anchor.

Over the last six months of so - there has been less of strain in our relationship - I am conscious of my way of looking at things changing - much less clinging and much more of acceptance. My feelings towards my wife and to some of my erstwhile obnoxious friends is not the same it was a year ago. It is helping me gain acceptance in their world. I still think I am cool - thanks to Che and KN for clearly explaining the need to pamper my ego -  but now I see coolness in others also.

Most of this is without conscious effort - there are no give and take - gain and loss equation in the head. I am not the type who was ever externally angry - no shouting / cursing / or showing of emotion for me but at the same time there was always a sense of not having got my due - a sense of unfairness. A lot of it is dropping away but the sense of dissatisfaction still remains at a lot of things.

With Metta.

Offline Matthew

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #15 on: Tuesday 15 February 2011, 08:10 PM »
Too many ways to say. Great thread.

Warmly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Jeeprs

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #16 on: Tuesday 15 February 2011, 09:39 PM »
The teacher, Suzuki-roshi, cautions against practicing meditation with 'ideas of selfish gain'.


As always, Sukuki's words are incredibly wise. But the opposing view is equally important: the path is founded on a gesture of love for yourself, and if you can't really love yourself, then you can't love others. (of course, if you're IN love with yourself, you probably won't get far either!).

Here's a brilliantly clear article on the topic by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

Hang On To Your Ego


Don't know if cultivating 'a healthy understanding of ego' conflicts with the advice against 'seeking selfish gain'. It is very easy to have an incorrect motivation for meditation. People do seek power over others through such practices and through involvement in spiritual movements and heirarchies. History is littered with them. Even in American Buddhism there are plenty of examples. The San Francisco Zen Centre itself became embroiled in a series of scandals after Suzuki-roshi's death. It is quite easy to create a 'spiritual super-ego' that feels very advanced and secure in its understanding of Buddhism. So the 'no-gain' teaching is very important in my view. It is an antidote to that kind of spiritual one-upmanship. In fact if you go right back this is one of the reasons the Mahayana movement formed in the first place.
« Last Edit: Tuesday 15 February 2011, 10:03 PM by Jeeprs »

Offline kidnovice

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #17 on: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 02:40 AM »
It is very easy to have an incorrect motivation for meditation.

Agreed. But I'm not so sure that simply wanting your own happiness is an "incorrect motivation." If that happiness is about having power over others, or being self-righteous, then obviously this corrupts the entire practice.

But one way to think about it is that such "power-seekers" simply don't understand where "true happiness" lies. Thus, their problem is not their desire for happiness, but rather their confusion about how to skillfully attain it.


In fact if you go right back this is one of the reasons the Mahayana movement formed in the first place.

I was thinking the same thing! I couldn't help but notice that I was articulating the Theravada view while you were presenting the Mahayana view. Yet, despite this difference, I think there is more agreement than disagreement. Specifically, I think both traditions understand that the perfection of loving-kindness and compassion is essential to progressing on the path.

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Jeeprs

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #18 on: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 04:31 AM »
Sadhu!

Offline Stefan

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #19 on: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 06:56 AM »

It is very easy to have an incorrect motivation for meditation.

Agreed. But I'm not so sure that simply wanting your own happiness is an "incorrect motivation."


Well ... there is a subtle trap there .... because there's still a "wanting" included.
How about "accepting yout own happiness or non-happiness" with Equanimity?

Metta!

anicca

Morning Dew

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #20 on: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 07:36 AM »
Quote
Well ... there is a subtle trap there .... because there's still a "wanting" included.
How about "accepting yout own happiness or non-happiness" with Equanimity?

Agreed BUT I also agree with KN because if you were like me hating my self, it does help to first relax into my self and by doing this I will develop some kind of compassion for myself and with time I will not mind my self so much and will rather see it as an innocent and ignorant child before I can move on onto Equanimity which can not be forced to be and requires some level of insight before one becomes equanimus.
All the 3 ways you mentioned have their place on this Path we walk. One step at a time and dont forget that we are all on different places on the very same Path. We all perceive according to the very perception we have at any given time. There is no way to liberation without being Ignorant first  ;D  so even Ignorance plays a very important role on the Path not to be put down in one's eyes.

Che

lente

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #21 on: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 07:43 AM »
I don't see anything wrong with wanting to be happy and ending my suffering. If the only advantage of Buddhism is that you become a better person than I probably wouldn't be interested.

Quote
"Very good, Anuradha. Very good. Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress."— SN 22.86

This is the famous quote of the Buddha which is often taken to mean that this is the essence of the Buddha's teaching. I like this quote, because this is my goal.


Offline Vivek

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #22 on: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 09:32 AM »
Quote from: stefan
How about "accepting yout own happiness or non-happiness" with Equanimity?
IMO, this acceptance of everything, including happiness and unhappiness, comes after very advanced stages in meditative practice. At our stage, I think it is OK to accept the fact that we are doing all this meditation etc for our own happiness. After all, happiness is one of the basic motivations of a human being. So, there is not much use shrugging it off and trying to intellectually assimilate the idea that the real goal is to go beyond happiness as well as unhappiness when one does not understand it in reality. As one progresses in the path, the stage will some when one understands that through one's own experience. Until then, "I wanna be happy"  :P
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Offline Stefan

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #23 on: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 12:14 PM »
Quote
Well ... there is a subtle trap there .... because there's still a "wanting" included.
How about "accepting yout own happiness or non-happiness" with Equanimity?

Agreed BUT I also agree with KN because if you were like me hating my self, it does help to first relax into my self and by doing this I will develop some kind of compassion for myself

Yes!


One step at a time and dont forget that we are all on different places on the very same Path.


Yes!! (And also: different path, same mountain, same summit ...)
« Last Edit: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 12:33 PM by stefan »
anicca

Offline Stefan

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Re: How has meditation changed your life?
« Reply #24 on: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 12:25 PM »

I don't see anything wrong with wanting to be happy and ending my suffering.


No, not wrong. But our suffering comes from craving, longing, wanting (and the other side of this particular coin, aversion, hatred, fear).
"I want to stop wanting", how does that sound to you?

Of course, "end to all suffering" sounds great ... but it is "only a byproduct" of the true goal. When we meditate we make better progress without wanting anything. We just sit. That's it. Everything else will come eventually.

In Austria there's a suitable phrase. Translated word by word it says "I'm wishless happy."
« Last Edit: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 12:34 PM by stefan »
anicca