Meditation Discussion Forum

Vipassana Meditation Forum => Meditation, Practice And The Path => Topic started by: michael171 on November 28, 2019, 01:46:38 AM

Title: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: michael171 on November 28, 2019, 01:46:38 AM
I started practicing meditation about 2 months ago to help with anxiety. However, i wasn't practicing an explicit type vipassana or mantra. I was simply sitting out side and listening to the sounds and watching thoughts come and go trying not to focus on them. After a while i began to get this relatively intense pressure in my head more so on my left temple and it would migrate to the center of my forehead, now i researched this and found that it was not uncommon, However the reasons for it are many ranging from chakras to stuck energy to a third eye etc. Now, Im not very religious however this did kind of freak me out. I mean who would have thought that just sitting in silence would cause issues. And keep in mind i started "meditating" with out any prior knowledge of any of these topics so to go in and read some of these topics caused a bit (lot) of anxiety as well as confusion on the topic. I also did some research on negative effects of meditation, there are accounts of people going deeper into depression getting more anxious experiencing flashbacks from past traumas, involuntary bodily movements feelings of "spacing out" and even psychosis. I am not here to bad mouth this practice i simply wish to understand i did feel better when i meditated and to be honest the only reason i had anxiety was because of what i read i don't think it was a result of meditation. At first i thought i had a brain tumor lol. But yeah there were positive results i felt good i felt calmer and I think it helped me with maintain a sense of focus and peace. I have not meditated since everything i have read mostly so that i could wait for the head pressure to clear up(which it has mostly) and to better understand what it is that i am doing. I feel that i was practicing something i didn't fully understand and so because of all of this i wanted to see if i could find more knowledge and to see if this is something for me or not. 

So my questions are pretty simple
1.) does anyone know what happened to me what did i experience?
2.) what does anyone know about the negative expierences of people?
3.) is meditation not for everyone?
4.)What is meditation? like what is it really?
Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: Siddharth on November 28, 2019, 07:17:46 AM
1) what happened to you is fairly common and is basically you getting a little anxious due to observing things in your body mind that you did not know about before..
2) negative experience of meditation is generally when people force more than they can 10 hours a day for 2 months and so on..also depends from person to person and if you have serious psychological should take up meditation under guidance but from what you will be fine.
3) this has been discussed a lot of times here...the thing with meditation is that it does work as mentioned here before. And you must be accepting of all the +ve and seemingly negative externalities..
4) i leave this to others...and suggest you figure out for yourself..

With regards,
Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: georg7887 on November 28, 2019, 10:49:58 AM
Hi Michael,

I'm trying to give you a detailed answer to your first question. If you don't understand something, please feel free to ask. If you are interested in my opinion on the other questions please let me know.

In the following I want to describe, in my understanding of reality, what you may have experienced during and after the meditation. I write may here, because I'm not claiming to be a seer or psycic ;). I just wanna make clear that all my following assumptions on your experiences are based on my own and could also contain some of my own misunterstandings. May the following words be of some benefit to you.

During meditation you were (as you described) focusing your attention on sounds and thoughts. At one moment (to another and maybe another, …) you felt a bodily sensation (intense pressure in your forehead).

At this moment(s) your attention got attracted by this bodily sensation and your focus shifted (away from sounds) to the pressure in your forehead.

So, this bodily sensation become your new object of meditation (knowingly or unknowingly, only you could tell). To this point it was only a sensation (without any positivity or negativity in it), it was just pressure, which you were recognizing.

Then your mind was reacting (unknowingly I assume) to this sensation, which showed up in a feeling tone (which in Buddhism is “only” to distinguish between liking, disliking and neutral). I assume it was a feeling of disliking.

This feeling of disliking led to identification with the pressure (=I’am the pressure) and a “judging” response (e.g. thoughts (knowingly or yet unknowingly to you) like I’don’t like it, make it go away, I should be calm, etc.). This thoughts probably caused a reaction of more bodily sensations, identifications, thoughts, which lead to more and more (unaware) confusion, till you came to the moment when you were recognizing: I’m anxious.

This bunch of bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc. made up the story which we call anxiety. So, anxiety is not just one thing.

The really important thing were the moment you recognized anxiety: You were awake at that moment, being back in the here and now, experiencing some taste of anxiety.

So, what can you get out of that? The one side of your experience showed you, that this hole bunch of unknowing experiences (anxiety) were too heavy to handle for you and you was trapped in your anxiety instead of watching and observing it for what it really is (sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc.).

The other side of this experience motivated you to search for a solution/answer, to overcome your anxiety.

In short: Overcoming your anxiety with meditation is possible: You can do that in getting to know your anxiety better and befriend with it over time. Step by step, little by litte. Not forcing anything and trying to be gentle with you, even if anxiety overwhelmed you – it’s only human.

Meditation can be your training field, in which you can start to watch what your anxiety is made up of, it’s the playground in which you can get in contact with it. But I can’t say it often enough, don’t force yourself too much, start regularly but slow. 

You may reflect on the following question:
-   What do you think what meditation should be like/should not be like
-       or in other words, does a good or a bad meditation exists and if so, what makes the good one
        good and the bad one bad?

I also would be interested how if you tell me something about how you meditate (how long, how often, etc.)

Greetings Georg
Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: stillpointdancer on November 28, 2019, 11:12:44 AM
Hi Michael
If you are meditating for a reason such as anxiety then it's important to understand what it is you are actually doing. I began meditating many years ago as an experiment to see if it could change how I perceived things (I was a science teacher interested in optics). Little did I know what I was starting.

1.) does anyone know what happened to me what did i experience?
The simple answer is stuff happens when you meditate, so it's best to try a few simple guided meditations first if you can't find a teacher. What you did is called 'Just Sitting' meditation and is quite advanced for a beginner as things tend to bubble up to the surface of your mind. Sometimes you merely become aware of stuff that happens anyway but normally doesn't get noticed.

2.) what does anyone know about the negative experiences of people?
If you research meditation you will find lots of examples of negative experiences. Again, a teacher will help but if you can't get one it's important to understand that meditating is not usually a series of happy, relaxed sitting experiences. It can be, but it means you aren't making any changes you might want to make, although the medical benefits such as lower blood pressure are often useful.

3.) is meditation not for everyone?
When I was a teacher in a Primary school I often used to take assemblies (usually morning religious assemblies here in the UK) and teach simple meditation to 8 to 11 year olds as part of multicultural themed assemblies. Most of them seemed to enjoy it but there were always those who didn't. My own view is that most people miss out on something if they don't meditate.

4.)What is meditation? like what is it really?
We are only just starting to understand this. Current thinking is that the brain is so plastic that it continually changes. New cells can form as we learn new things and new connections between areas of the brain can replace old connections in ways we can physically measure. Whatever we do brings about change in the brain, if only a strengthening of habitual thinking and understanding.
Meditation has developed over thousands of years to take advantage of this plasticity in the brain. People might not have known how meditation worked, but trial and error showed the effects of it. When we meditate, whether we know it or not, we change the wiring in our brains deliberately rather than leaving things to happen by chance as they do every day. How we choose to meditate dictates how we want our brains to change.
Buddhist meditation has developed differently in different parts of the world, but there are common strands to bring some kind of balance to how we change. There are relaxation meditations to help both mental and physical health, mindfulness meditations to make us more aware of what we are and how we respond to the world, vipassana or insight meditations to help us understand things in a different way (maybe levels of consciousness?) and so on.

So what meditation is really, at least in my understanding, is a series of practices to give you the chance to change yourself, in ways that you control, by sitting (or standing or walking) within some kind of meditation practice. The changes are real and measurable (with the right equipment you can see physical changes in the brain). It's a bumpy road but one that has enriched my own life and hopefully yours too if you decide to carry on.
Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: Thanisaro85 on November 28, 2019, 12:45:44 PM
If u keep doing this you are on the right track....

>>I was simply sitting out side and listening to the sounds and watching thoughts come and go trying not to focus on them>>

I can only answer you these..

2.) what does anyone know about the negative expierences of people?

For those people who think a lot compare to others, once they get out of meditation and carry on with their daily activities, they can become more agitated, get frustrated/irritated more easily. The reason for this is from a no thoughts, complete calmness state, returning to a normal human being day to day activities where the mind think/works endlessly, the contrast is too big for the mind to "adapt" to. Is like asking one who is sleepy or had taken medicine that make one drowsy, to do some strenuous exercise. That feeling.

Some ( people who is by unhealthy )can get more depressed if the sitting is too long. In a calmness state, basically the breathing become very shallow and the heartbeat also slow down which means bad blood circulation. They can become very moody, some can last for days.

3.) is meditation not for everyone?
These advises from thai monks who are great meditation teachers, i read from their books. So is up to individual to consider this is valid.
People who had epilepsy, serious OCD or people who can't control their mind at all. These people, unfortunately, have to exhaust their negative karma in this life. The only thing that can help them is medicine.

4.)What is meditation? like what is it really?

In buddhism point of view, meditation( mainly samathan and vipassana) is a training to allow one to see clearly the body and mind, from a third "eye". To see that "we" do not really operate this body and mind( in buddhism sense). It functioned by its own, it generate thoughts, sensation, feelings by its own when in touch with the five aggregates of clinging. With diligent and correct practises, the conscious, can dettach itself from the body and mind, knowing the suffering but not suffer with them. And eventually, break away from the chain of samsara.

Third eye is a metaphor....perhap it is conscious in buddhism sense

Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: Katia on November 28, 2019, 07:14:47 PM
OP, it sounds like you learned from your reading that what you experienced is common?  IOW, probably not something to be concerned about, right?  Is this pressure especially intense and causing a lot of pain, that you are thinking of discontinuing your meditation practice?  Or is it simply that you are disturbed that it happened?

To me it seems that you are building a minor occurrence up in your mind until it is something negative... for example, your first reaction to an unfamiliar sensation was, "I must have a serious/terminal illness."  Next you went on to read extensively about negative things that happen in meditation, and are now afraid that this unfamiliar sensation will lead to depression and psychosis (instead of simply noting that this sensation is something that can happen often to meditators, realizing you're normal and being reassured that all is well, remembering that meditation is helping and not hurting you, nodding, and carrying on).  I assume this tendency to search for the worst-possible explanation is a product of your anxiety?

Are you seeing someone for the anxiety?  You might talk with them about your meditation practice.  I assume they have given you tips for keeping your anxiety from overriding you-- one of them, I'm sure, being to not immediately go looking for the worst-case scenario when you're unsure of something-- and will be able to help you apply those to your meditation as well.

In short, I don't think you have anything to worry about.  You feel that meditation is helping you, you are not exhibiting any worrisome effects, and you know that what you experienced is completely within the bounds of normal.  Perhaps you would benefit from also reading about the positive effects of meditation, to give you a viewpoint to counter all of the negatives? 

Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: dharma bum on November 29, 2019, 12:49:27 AM
4.)What is meditation? like what is it really?

There are many different traditions of meditation. Even within Buddhism, there are different ways to meditate. There are methods that are regarded as Hindu. I'm sure Christianity has some things like prayer that are similar.

So when people say 'meditation', they might be referring to slightly different things. Regardless, almost all meditation involve sitting and trying to let go, or fill your mind with something like love, or compassion, or some people say 'divine light'.

Most meditation techniques involve tuning awareness to something - like breathing, sensations, images, words (called mantras).

If you identify with Buddhist ideas, meditation is supposed to lead you to wisdom and an understanding of the nature of suffering. If you are Hindu, then it might want to lead you to 'discover the divine within yourself'. If you are secular, then you have to find your own purpose. :). Perhaps becoming a calmer, kinder person. You can figure it out and as you keep going, and your purpose can change depending upon your experience.
Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: dharma bum on December 01, 2019, 05:30:01 PM
3.) is meditation not for everyone?

I have thought about this for many years when people tell me meditation is not for them.

In the simplest form, meditation is just sitting and breathing and being aware. Maybe meditating for many hours at a stretch is not for everyone but literally everybody I know should be able to sit and breathe and be aware for 30 minutes with no ill-effects. Sitting still for 30 minutes is hard the way walking for 30 minutes is hard, or not drinking coffee everyday is hard for people. It can be simple or it can be hard depending upon your habits.
Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: raushan on December 01, 2019, 07:10:28 PM
Put it very nicely dharma bum.
Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: stillpointdancer on December 03, 2019, 12:14:14 PM
Back to the question, "Is meditation for everyone?" I have often wondered why meditation isn't something we all do as a matter of course. After all, you don't need any special equipment, you can do it for free and it needn't take up much time. A while back I came to the conclusion that our brains fight against lack of stimulus which, in modern society, is ubiquitous. They demand input of any kind and it takes a lot of effort to get them under the sort of control to allow the benefits of meditation to be experienced.

I think I was lucky in that I came to meditation first simply as a relaxation exercise, and later as a way of exploring how to change the way I perceive the world. It was only much later that I explored meditation in a Buddhist context, and by that time I enjoyed meditating and couldn't conceive of not meditating for any reason. When I started attending a Buddhist centre it took me a while to realise that many people there actually didn't enjoy meditating and only did the bare minimum.

Title: Re: Questions on Meditation effects good and bad
Post by: mobius on December 11, 2019, 12:57:44 AM
I remember thinking just like you when I started "Who would have thought that just sitting in silence would cause such issues". I also worried I had a brain tumor at one point. I worried I was schizophrenic and all kinds of things. Then I realized I just worry too much. :D I too got a little scared off at first, from reading about negative things from meditation.

As to the headaches/pressure etc. It could be that some people are predisposed to migraines, who knows. Migraine's and any kind of brain disorder is not well understood. The brain is the most complex machine in the entire universe (That we currently know of). Understanding it is going to be understandably incredibly difficult; if not impossible.

I began meditating and tried all kinds of different things. The worst thing for me, imo was staring straight unblinking at an object. This very quickly puts me into a trance like state that is very calm and feels good. But if I do this for enough days in a row I will without fail develop an awful continuous migraine. It landed me at the Urgent care doctor for the first time. It was some of the worst pain of my life.
Having said that; I have meditated once every day for over a year now; (not doing the above) but doing classic Vipassana or Shamatha (I'm not entirely clear on the meaning between the two) and no more crippling migraines. I sit, relax and stare either opened eyed or closed (usually closed) and just focus on my breath. If I have my eyes open I don't focus on any particular thing. To be fully honest I believe it has changed the way my body handles some things physically like viruses and such. I have vertigo occasionally now which I never had before but I don't get really ill (sore throats, cold etc) as much as I used to. I strongly believe a healthy lifestyle apart from meditation is also necessary.

Another major issue/possible obstacle I think is that meditation brings you to realize some of the most profound realizations of your life.
Sort of like 'everything you thought you knew was wrong' in a sense. No joke; and this is understandably not easy to accept, or deal with. And a large part of it; imo is not possible to explain in words or even conceptually with language. Maybe someday if our language/communication evolves, but as of know; it must be felt. But I believe all this can happen slowly, gradually. And it doesn't have to be forced.

Taking the advice of someone here I stopped meditating for about a week a while ago, to see if I missed it; if I would notice any difference at all. I did. It was very difficult to describe but it was sort of like after several days without meditating anymore, my mind began to feel more disorganized, like my thoughts were scattered and I had less control over my mind. It was subtle; and I'm sure I could carry on like that forever... but I didn't want to. I felt like I needed rest. Not sleep but a new kind of rest which I had discovered (and never knew until now) in meditation. In just one or two tiny brief 'episodes' which at the time were frightening for me, I learned something profound about life which I can never forget or ignore... and so despite all this I went back and I will keep meditating, probably till the day I die.

Anyways if you think pressure in the head is something else believe me; you ain't seen nothing yet! :P