Meditation Forum

Vipassana Meditation Forum => Meditation, Practice And The Path => Topic started by: gasteria on March 17, 2015, 08:25:13 PM

Title: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on March 17, 2015, 08:25:13 PM
I read on and off this forum and I get an impression that lots of the people with time get more peaceful, can focus on breath longer and feel better in general. Also I read few books about meditation recommended on this forum and outside of the forum and watched some YouTube presentations of meditation teachers.  I have been very committed to meditate at least the beginning.

I know I should not compare myself to anybody else. I also know that we are not to expect the progress but just watch "what is".

I am 8 months after Vipassana retreat, I meditate almost every day at least 45 min in the morning. But my mind is out of control like a run away train. I can focus on the breath maybe 5 sec at most before my mind goes somewhere and hardly comes back after maybe 10 min to stay focused for another 5 sec. and to go away again.

If we are not supposed to control the mind or train it but just observe it, my observation is that it just does its own thing regardless what my desire is. I invested lots of hope and lots of time to rid myself from emotional pain and become more tranquil. But nothing really changed since I started. It would be very hard for me to quit but I consider myself being no different than 8 months ago.

Maybe I a not a meditating type. During retreat I met people that shared with me how much meditation changed their lives and made them much happier people. I was hoping to feel the same way after some time. I am more and more reluctant to sit on the cushion because it does not do anything positive for me. Maybe it does, but I am not aware of it.

I am hoping that other members of this forum have some suggestions that help me stay on course. 

 
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Middleway on March 18, 2015, 12:22:38 AM
Have you tried focusing on your thoughts? Investigate how thoughts form, and how one thought leads to another and so on. Once you figure out that process, then you just sit and watch the thoughts go by.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: bomega on March 18, 2015, 04:32:45 AM
Meditation changed my life, but most days are all monkey mind. Occasionally I have "a good meditation session" and I feel calm and peaceful afterwards. But some of my strongest insights came when the mind was mindlessly obsessing about something continuously for 20-30 minutes.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: p340 on March 18, 2015, 09:55:59 AM
Hey Gasteria, can you describe your practice in detail? What is the first thing you do when you sit down? What are your steps? Your rituals?

There are so many different approaches, maybe someone here knows one that is better suited for you.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: elvisluvs on March 18, 2015, 01:02:53 PM
Hi Gasteria- you've been at it a lot longer than me. One of the books I read  described a scenario of the author "trying too hard". Could that maybe apply to you? And since I don't know much about meditating  :( - have you considered a different time of the day? Some folks are ready for action in the morning. Maybe if you were more tired, that might foster a more relaxed state of mind. Hth-m
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on March 18, 2015, 05:38:08 PM
I don't have any ritual. I just sit down try to relax and focus on my breath. It does not take long before I am lost in my thoughts. My attention comes back in few minutes and then is lost again. I don't force anything. I just try to observe my breath or focus on sensations in my body. 
As for the time of the day, I think morning is the best time of the day because my mind is most relaxed and rested. I also have full time job and it would be very hard for me to carve out an hour from my busy daily schedule.
thank you all for responding to me.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: RWalker on March 21, 2015, 07:14:31 AM
Gasteria,

I suggest you to try count on the breathing. One inhale and exhale is equally number "1", second inhale and exhale is number "2" and go on...

When you are lost in thoughts or you lose numbers, count again on the start.

I don't advise you to sit down with cross legged, otherwise you will deform your skeletal body such as hips, knee, legs, few others too... There is alternative, just simply sit straight on a comfortable chair.

This session of  time must be 15 minutes for beginners.

Note: It is not necessary to tire yourself. Meditating in the evening is not recommended for beginners.

---

To Middleway,

Focus on the "thoughts"?! This is not Artful Concentration but Profound Insight because this requires skills... I meant better concentration and quite mind for spell casting aka. "functions" in the "thoughts" and the "mind" too. This is used for better investigation and observation.

---

To guys,

Peaceful mind? This does not exist because this is just a side effect, normally.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Stefan on March 21, 2015, 10:18:03 PM

I just sit down try to relax and focus on my breath.


There are different techniques that lead to "vi passana". They are similar in essence, but vary in detail.
There are different ways of focussing on the breath as well as the body sensations.
Please try to specify your technique. Any "name"? In whose tradition was your retreat?

Every meditator knows this inner radio, all those thoughts that will start again and all over again ... not progressing doesn't mean that you are "not the meditative type". It just means you may have picked a technique not suited for you (as p340 pointed out already). I wouldn't be the type to do it your way either, but the Goenka tradition works for me. There are others who will suggest another buddhistic tradition. Howsoever, a change in your practice might be advisable.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Alex on March 22, 2015, 02:15:41 AM
Hi gasteria

I understand you're evaluating your practice.

Leading a busy life, a monkey mind is no surprise, as was said. But I wonder if maybe you did experience more beneficial changes than you're aware of; maybe not as much compared to others, and maybe not enough to reduce your emotional pain to the level you desire; but enough to be as comitted as you are and to not want to quit?

Quote
If we are not supposed to control the mind or train it but just observe it, my observation is that it just does its own thing regardless what my desire is.

An extremely valuable insight... but it's difficult to let go of the desire to control.   ;)

All we can 'do' in meditation is set the stage and 'allow' things to happen. Continue what you're doing and see what happens?

Do you also practice mindfulness off the cushion? It's what we do off the cushion that eventually changes our life...

Quote
I invested lots of hope and lots of time to rid myself from emotional pain and become more tranquil.

There seem to be some expectations and maybe I'm wrong but it feels like you are disapointed and wondering if meditation is going to ease your emotional pain any time soon...

I also wonder if these expectations somehow influence the quality of the attention that you bring to your meditation. If so, be mindful of those expectations... Allow yourself to be open and relaxed.

I think you're doing great, right where you are now. I'm right beside you, with all of my pains and desires ;)
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: p340 on March 23, 2015, 11:43:25 AM
I don't have any ritual. I just sit down try to relax and focus on my breath. It does not take long before I am lost in my thoughts. My attention comes back in few minutes and then is lost again. I don't force anything. I just try to observe my breath or focus on sensations in my body. 
As for the time of the day, I think morning is the best time of the day because my mind is most relaxed and rested. I also have full time job and it would be very hard for me to carve out an hour from my busy daily schedule.
thank you all for responding to me.

As you can see, much valuable advice has been written now. To give you even better advice we still need more details. I guess you read some kind of book about meditation? Then the author would help us to talk about your technique.

You try to keep it simple, whats probably good. Some say "Just sit down and relax". If this is sufficient instruction for you - perfect. But some need a little more guidance, like me. I can just tell you what helped me, and this are sometimes little tricks i added to my practice. Others may discard them, so you will have to evaluate yourself if they are worth trying.

What helped me in the earliest days with a similar problem was advice of Tara Brach. She said to not be angry with yourself after recognizing that you have been lost in thoughts. Try to appreciate the feeling of "waking up again". Praise yourself for doing so. Try to remember how good this feels. This can brighten your practice a little. As for me, it helped me a lot. I started to recognize this feeling of waking up from the virtual world of thought trains in daily live and i don't devalue my lack of mindfulness anymore - i am glad about my waking up. This little twist made a lot of everyday experiences much more loving for me.

And don't worry to much about good and bad meditation. You maybe do some valuable work by letting these trains of thoughts pass through you and eventually they get less frequent.. By sitting in meditation you always show love / loving kindness towards yourself as you direct your vision inward and try to "be here now". For me thats always worth it, no matter how good or bad the technique works.

Hang in there : )
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on March 24, 2015, 07:47:51 PM
I haven't given up on meditation. I like the saying I heard from somewhere "It does not matter how slow you go as long you don't stop".
Maybe even these few minutes when I am alert and mindful during meditation does something positive for me. Even if it does not, just sitting quietly for an hour relaxes me regardless whether my mind wanders or not. I really don't know whether I made any progress or not. Maybe I did and I am not aware of it. Or I need  some more time.
I was completely unrealistic believing that by attending Vipassana retreat there will be light bulb in my brain that will light up instantly. Now I am disappointed because after 8 months no enlightenment yet. I guess progress cannot be timed. It takes its own pace. I find posts on this forum very helpful and supportive. I will keep reading and keep meditating and see what comes out of it.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: god_is_good on March 25, 2015, 12:14:31 AM
Honestly, any "improvement" I've made has been millimeter by millimeter and hard earned.  I don't even think of improvement as successfully concentrating completely on the breathe, which I only manage to do for a few seconds at a time, but simply the amount of time I can manage to *try* to focus only on the breathe.

But...

I find that the effort helps me a lot.  That is to say, just trying to concentrate solely on the breath has brought about a noticeable difference in my clarity, my control over my emotions, and my mood, and I often fall into meditative breathing when I'm walking around going about my day.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to give my breathe the sole, undivided attention I should be, but I know that the longer and harder I try, the better my life seems to become.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Luscious on March 25, 2015, 02:36:53 AM
I read on and off this forum and I get an impression that lots of the people with time get more peaceful, can focus on breath longer and feel better in general. Also I read few books about meditation recommended on this forum and outside of the forum and watched some YouTube presentations of meditation teachers.  I have been very committed to meditate at least the beginning.

I know I should not compare myself to anybody else. I also know that we are not to expect the progress but just watch "what is".

I am 8 months after Vipassana retreat, I meditate almost every day at least 45 min in the morning. But my mind is out of control like a run away train. I can focus on the breath maybe 5 sec at most before my mind goes somewhere and hardly comes back after maybe 10 min to stay focused for another 5 sec. and to go away again.

If we are not supposed to control the mind or train it but just observe it, my observation is that it just does its own thing regardless what my desire is. I invested lots of hope and lots of time to rid myself from emotional pain and become more tranquil. But nothing really changed since I started. It would be very hard for me to quit but I consider myself being no different than 8 months ago.

Maybe I a not a meditating type. During retreat I met people that shared with me how much meditation changed their lives and made them much happier people. I was hoping to feel the same way after some time. I am more and more reluctant to sit on the cushion because it does not do anything positive for me. Maybe it does, but I am not aware of it.

I am hoping that other members of this forum have some suggestions that help me stay on course.

Wow this is almost a carbon copy of a post I just wrote.  This is exactly how I feel after nearly 3 years.  Its very frustrating to feel like you're not getting anywhere.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Alex on March 25, 2015, 07:27:17 AM
Its very frustrating to feel like you're not getting anywhere.

Off course we all start to meditate with a certain intention or goal, but if the "here and now", with all of its imperfections, is not "okay", then when will it ever be?

In this way meditation is more about arriving then about getting anywhere.

Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: sailor on March 25, 2015, 03:51:21 PM
You sit for a lot longer than I can so think you should honor yourself that you give yourself 45 min to be with you and be present for yourself.

I don't think judging yourself is helping you. It's called a practice for a reason. Also to maybe you can try meditation when you are eating, or walking. You can turn daily activities like washing dishes into a meditation.

I think everyone here at some point has felt the same way. I'm sure I'll feel that way again at some point. Take it easy on yourself.  :)
Title: Why am I meditating
Post by: Quardamon on March 28, 2015, 10:23:56 PM
I invested lots of hope and lots of time to rid myself from emotional pain and become more tranquil. But nothing really changed since I started. It would be very hard for me to quit but I consider myself being no different than 8 months ago.
5. As for my emotions I made extreme progress. I do not react to negative emotions. I stopped being sarcastic and mean to other people or myself in response to my anger, resentment, fear and other emotions. I just endure it and wait it to pass. Also I get lots of serenity from meditations.
How do these two add up? To me, they seem contradictory.

Maybe the answer is in this:
I do not react to provocations, arguments, do not gossip and criticize people, do not provoke people myself, or react with anger, and restrain myself from hurting people emotionally. That is on conscious level. To achieve it I strongly control myself.
The italics are mine.

Somehow I feel inclined to give a very cryptic reaction:
You cannot expect a compass to make the journey for you.


I guess I need to train my mind to better sense my body.
I support that.
Control is a helpful thing. The body is an other helpful thing. Not only in the sense of sensing it with the mind, but also in caring for it, listening to it, being it. It can, at times, be more basic than control. Please, enjoy being bodily present. And even if you cannot enjoy it, train yourself to be bodily present - even if it is only 10 minutes a day, during a walk in the wind.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on March 29, 2015, 02:50:07 AM
Hi Quardamon.
You really nailed me in my discrepancies and inconsistencies and spent time to dig up my previous posts. Thank you for this. That is a testimony of my ups and downs. Lately mostly downs. Shortly after retreat I was pumped up with enthusiasm and hope. That evaporated after a while when I was not making much progress. I don't expect anybody to give me any guidelines. I was hoping that other people would share their experience with me. I am sure that their progress has not be linear and only in Northern direction. I received lots of responses and I read all of them thoroughly. Some of them are really very helpful. I will just tag along and do my best to continue. 
gasteria
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: flowair on March 31, 2015, 09:17:06 PM
Quote
That evaporated after a while when I was not making much progress.

Listen, dude, I think you made much more progress than I did. Because I did not meditate at all for quite a long time, and for no specific reason but maybe a lack of time since my circadian rhythm has become unstable (I admit I let go of discipline by accident).

But consider, given that meditation is roughly like being mindfully here and now, isn't it all about not making any progress? Enlightenment therefore must be here and now, we're just unaware of it while in a hurry to progress.

To me (i.e. to my ego), these words look quite impressive. Seem worth following again, as for myself.


Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Matthew on April 01, 2015, 06:15:34 AM
I read on and off this forum and I get an impression that lots of the people with time get more peaceful, can focus on breath longer and feel better in general. Also I read few books about meditation recommended on this forum and outside of the forum and watched some YouTube presentations of meditation teachers.  I have been very committed to meditate at least the beginning.

I know I should not compare myself to anybody else. I also know that we are not to expect the progress but just watch "what is".

I am 8 months after Vipassana retreat, I meditate almost every day at least 45 min in the morning. But my mind is out of control like a run away train. I can focus on the breath maybe 5 sec at most before my mind goes somewhere and hardly comes back after maybe 10 min to stay focused for another 5 sec. and to go away again.

If we are not supposed to control the mind or train it but just observe it, my observation is that it just does its own thing regardless what my desire is. I invested lots of hope and lots of time to rid myself from emotional pain and become more tranquil. But nothing really changed since I started. It would be very hard for me to quit but I consider myself being no different than 8 months ago.

Maybe I a not a meditating type. During retreat I met people that shared with me how much meditation changed their lives and made them much happier people. I was hoping to feel the same way after some time. I am more and more reluctant to sit on the cushion because it does not do anything positive for me. Maybe it does, but I am not aware of it.

I am hoping that other members of this forum have some suggestions that help me stay on course.

Wow this is almost a carbon copy of a post I just wrote.  This is exactly how I feel after nearly 3 years.  Its very frustrating to feel like you're not getting anywhere.

Are you talking of Goenka retreats?
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on April 03, 2015, 12:29:36 AM
Yes, it was Goenka retreat.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Matthew on April 03, 2015, 07:53:20 AM
After three years of getting nowhere I would ask if the instructions offered had value.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on April 03, 2015, 05:24:16 PM
You confused me with Luscious. For me it is only 8 months.

After three years of getting nowhere I would ask if the instructions offered had value.

May I ask you what you mean by that statement?

Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Matthew on April 03, 2015, 07:01:02 PM
You confused me with Luscious. For me it is only 8 months.

After three years of getting nowhere I would ask if the instructions offered had value.

May I ask you what you mean by that statement?



The statement means what it says. If you keep doing the same thing for three years (or eight months) and find you are getting nowhere then it might be worthwhile questioning the value of what you are doing, the value of the teachings you were offered.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on April 03, 2015, 08:16:43 PM
I agree with you and that is why I started this thread with the question what I am doing wrong. I would not go that far to question the whole Goenka teaching. I suppose thousands of people benefit from his teaching including prison inmates. Everybody's mind is different and not always responds to standard approach. Maybe one day I will find the key to open my mind.





Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Matthew on April 04, 2015, 12:46:01 AM
Thousands learn the approach. A small percentage maintain a practice and an even smaller percentage do more than one course. A former dedicated Goenka practitioner recently told me he would no longer recommend anyone to attend a course. The Goenka approach is not a standard approach, merely very accessible.

If the bike you are riding has a broken wheel you won't get far on your journey ...
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on April 04, 2015, 01:47:51 AM
Why does he believe that Goenka method is not good? What else would you recommend?
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Middleway on April 04, 2015, 02:33:03 AM
Attending the 10-day course as taught by Mr. Goenka kick-started my practice. I will always be grateful for that.

I do see the usefulness of the body scanning technique. I use this technique every now and then when my mind is restless and would not settle down in the first 15 minutes. By putting an effort into scanning the body part by part, my mind gets concentrated and settles down. I then switch to observing whole body breathing. I consider both techniques as part of the "contemplation of the body" described in the Satipatthana Sutta. Once we get the hang of the whole body breathing, I think it is important to move into the other three establishments of mindfulness described in the Satipatthana Sutta. These are contemplation of the feelings, contemplation of the mind (consciousness) and contemplation of the mental objects.

I would not go back to another course offered by Mr. Goenka foundation though. I cannot sign up to follow the body scanning technique and not be able to follow other techniques during the course. They also require that students would have to complete three 10-day courses prior to being eligible for Satipatthana Sutta course. I feel that this requirement is too restrictive and the main reason why most students do not go back. I would go back if they let me take the 30 day course without having to attend two more 10-day courses.

Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Matthew on April 09, 2015, 10:12:28 PM
Why does he believe that Goenka method is not good? What else would you recommend?

I understand he now sees it as highly fabricated, not really getting to know what is, but directing attention too much but that understanding may be not quite right.

Calm-abiding instructions on homepage are a very good place to start. Also read relaxation - the key.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: gasteria on April 29, 2015, 01:43:12 AM
I've got new inspiration to meditate from the book "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana.

I've read few books on meditation before, but this one I consider the most explicit, practical, easy to apply, and easy to understand. I could identify with this concept of Vipassana because the book is tailored for people that are brought in western culture.

He mentioned that taming a mind might take decades for some people. All I need to do is to concentrate and be mindful at this very moment and do my best to see the truth about that moment. According to him this is the only way to untangle sophisticated web of lies that I say to myself to avoid pain and preserve pleasure.

The book is fascinating and I am planning to read it again and again to be sure that I did not miss anything.

Now I cannot wait to sit on the cushion and do my best to be mindful regardless how many times my mind wanders elsewhere. If it comes back to present moment it means that I am able to be mindful and the more I practice the longer I can stay in now. I even started practicing being mindful off the cushion, while driving, at work, or while interacting with people. I am not good at it for the moment but I am not competing with anyone. That is my own reality.

At some point I was seriously considering giving up meditation altogether. I am glad I did not do this. It was worth trying different methods until one method started to work for me. I hope so.

Goenka Vipassana gave me jump start on meditation and I am glad that I went through the process. I would not come back, though, because the schedule was too rigid, the concept was too abstractive for me to apply. I just clung to it because I was desperate to get out of my misery and nothing else worked by then.

I need to mention that I don't know of any other meditation center that is so readily available all over the world as Goenka Vipassana Center is. Maybe I would not even try without it. So I have to give this organization a credit for being there for me when I needed it.   

Thank you Matthew for directing me to homepage where I found information about this book.

I feel much better than when I started this thread.
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Alex on April 29, 2015, 11:17:35 AM
Good for you! May your practice flourish! ;)

Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Matthew on May 01, 2015, 03:11:30 PM

I feel much better than when I started this thread.


:)
Title: Re: Why am I not getting better in meditating
Post by: Meditabondo on May 15, 2015, 05:10:00 PM
Hi Gasteria,

Although mindfulness training starts to have positive effects after 8 weeks, 8 months are not enough to say that it's not working. Becoming more mindful is a huge challange for people -like me- who tend to ruminate. I recognize myself in the way you approach meditation: you are able to commit and you want to get a result. Maybe you want also to perfom well during meditation. I make all these assumptions because that's what I still do and I'm working on. The positive side is that looking back I see some improvements in my life and in my attitude/expectations to meditation.

Some practical tips for sustain the focus on mediation or noticing more quickly that you've lost attention:

- Using guided meditation: the guide's voice helps you to re-focus on the object of the meditation
- Trying different types of meditation like the ones based on imagery. Personally I find that my mind is less likely to get distracted if I have to actively use my imagination. You can add some breathing meditation before and after.
- Try to meditate in different ways to make the experience new and more engaging. Recently, for example, I joined an online group practising mindfulness meditation in video conference. I think that varying helps to prevent your autopilot from taking over.

 Apart from the ones above, just keep practising. And, btw, the journey is the reward.

I hope it helps.