Author Topic: Bad effects from daily practice?  (Read 4268 times)

aljoscha

Bad effects from daily practice?
« on: December 09, 2010, 03:14:59 PM »
Hello everybody!

I am new to the forum and want to discuss a few concerns that arised within the recent months of practicing vipassana. Maybe there are members reading this who made similar experiences and can share them with me.

I attended a ten days meditating course as held by goenka around eight months ago in spring. For me it was hard, as for everyone else, but I never considered breaking it up. For me the technique itself perfectly made sense and so i continued until now with the daily practice of one hour in the morning and one in the evening.

There are lots of benefits I see for myself. For example I feel that i are more open to the people around me. In conversations I feel that I can give others more than before and treat them a lot more lovingly. I feel that my understanding of equanimity has been developing during that time and that I have been able to gain wisdom out of the technique.

However, I feel like the things that I am doing in my everyday life are consuming my mind more and not less.

To give you an example: I like to play go, an asian strategic boardgame based on logic. I had not played for a long time but this summer i started playing again and loved it. But after some weeks of playing I became somehow addicted to winning. I started reading all this theory about how you can beat your opponent even better. After some time I quit playing because I had the feeling that I had become sick from the desire for winning.

Another example are my studies at university. Instead of thinking "well, I do what I can, but if I don't make it then this is no big deal" i become more and more anxious about being successful and afraid of failing.

This is a total contradiction to the goal that you only observe what's happening and don't judge it.

Can it be that the daily practice of vipassana makes your mind more sensitive and accessible to the process that you define yourself over profane stuff such as success?

Has anyone made similar experiences? Does this level off by the time, does it become worse? Is this a clear indicator that I am doing something completely wrong? Do I have a wrong attitude towards what I'm doing?

At the moment I feel like my horizon gets narrowed more and more...

Wish you all the best,

Aljoscha

dhruv

Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2010, 04:13:20 PM »
I think your horizon has only broadened. Your mind is now able to access these patterns consciously. It is up to you to make the decisions. You have awareness but can you maintain equanimity. Try this sometime, when you get any of those emotions start observing the sensations on your body, if you cant go into anapana and then move toward the sensations. As always view them objectively. It's not always easy to observer the emotions objectively so observe the sensations in your body. Best of luck.

Matthew

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    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2010, 08:58:18 PM »
I think it is possible that the practice is not working well for you. Try full body Shamatha as described in the "introduction to meditation" thread, paying attention to the sensations in the body as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe. Try it for a month and see if you start to calm down. Also try being mindful in daily life. When you notice you are being over competitive or pushing too hard take three slow deep breaths and then say "slowly" and return to what you were doing with an open awareness of your inner self and the outer world.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

aljoscha

Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2010, 10:24:05 PM »
Thanks for your answers!

@Mathew: So you mean taking a break from Vipassana and only doing Shamatha for a month?

Or do you recommend to combine the two of these?

Best, Aljoscha

Alexanderjohn

Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2010, 12:00:55 AM »
Hey, I found that after a few months of Goenka style I was definitely more aware of my agitation and many flaws, the problem was that just by observing them I didn't seem to become calmer. I've switched to shamatha and found it more fruitful. You find that if its ever time to body scan, you know it in the moment. If not just settle into the practice and do your best to relax. I started to find that when I grasped and then became frustrated because I kept grasping I was more able to smile about the futility of it and just breathe. Whatever you do it will still be helping you. I'd say Matthew hit the nail on the head though, carry your mindfulness throughout your day, that is really the most important thing of all to learn, you'll then start to answer all of your own questions.

kidnovice

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Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2010, 01:56:16 AM »
My hypothesis is that body scanning "accelerates" your awareness of the body. I even suspect that body-scanning develops this awareness faster than many other methods. In this way, it allows you to quickly enter into "hidden" areas of your consciousness. This sounds great, but it is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, you need to enter those areas of the mind to really achieve radical transformation. However, this transformation only happens when you bring a calm and kind awareness.  If you haven't trained your mind to be calm and serene, you will find that you've exposed hidden/subtle aspects of your mind, but you are unable to deal with it well. In short, you end up more reactive than ever.

That's my working hypothesis anyway.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If the above explanation made sense, then you can see why you ought to spend alot more time calming your awareness. That is what everyone has been telling you. Do it in any way that works for you. Full body breathing. Breathing at the abdomen. Anapana at the nose. Whatever.

I've even found that body-scanning can work well to calm my mind, as long as I consciously pay attention to my awareness.

I'm betting that when you scan the body, you place all importance on seeing as much as you can, in as much detail as you can. I'm also betting that when you do that, you are generating strain and tension without noticing. You don't notice because you are too busy looking for sensations.

Instead, you might continue scanning the body, but accept that you don't need to see every little detail. Stop caring about what you see, and give utmost importance to the quality of your awareness. Constantly check-in with yourself: Is my awareness calm? Is it kind and gentle? If not, see if you can find ways to do that. Slow down. Speed up. Stop to recall a happy memory.

Or perhaps switch to a single fixed object like the breath. That's what everyone is suggesting to you. Simply watching the breath is helpful because it lets you give all the more attention to the quality of your awareness.

Remember, nothing matters more than maintaining a calm and kind awareness when you meditate! Everything else is just gravy.

With metta,
KN
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 02:00:21 AM 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.

Vivek

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Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2010, 09:25:30 AM »
Quote
To give you an example: I like to play go, an asian strategic boardgame based on logic. I had not played for a long time but this summer i started playing again and loved it. But after some weeks of playing I became somehow addicted to winning. I started reading all this theory about how you can beat your opponent even better. After some time I quit playing because I had the feeling that I had become sick from the desire for winning.

Another example are my studies at university. Instead of thinking "well, I do what I can, but if I don't make it then this is no big deal" i become more and more anxious about being successful and afraid of failing.

This could be because the sankharas (the psychological tendencies in one's unconscious) are coming to the surface due to you regular practice. Any serious Vipassi would know how during meditation (and especially during Adithan sittings) the sankharas come to the surface. They do not usually come all of a sudden and go immediately. By noting the intensity of the associated sensation, it can be observed that it rises and rises, reaches a peak and then slowly starts to subside, until eventually it is completely dissolved. Same is applicable to all habitual mental patterns. So, it may be just that the old habitual patterns are getting exposed more and more, only to eventually dissolve, provided you stick to the practice. Also, KN's suggestions are worth noting, IMO.   
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

dhruv

Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2010, 10:20:44 AM »
I second KN's advice. This has been my experience too.

Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2010, 01:14:19 PM »
thanks kidnovice
that helps

aljoscha

Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2010, 03:21:49 PM »
Hello and thanks for your many answers!

Today in the morning I tried to work with the concept of full body Shamata and found that it is worth continuing and trying what effects it could have.

I didn't concentrate on my breathing all the time, it soon started to be some sort of full body awareness and was quite similar to the body scanning. I also had the feeling that the body scanning routine comes more logically out from that than from anapana. But that might be just a personal impression for now.

Regarding the Metta meditation: Would you say, it as essential to finish a meditation session with that? Or do you recommend to meditate over Metta only when one feels like doing so?

Lokuttara

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Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2010, 04:19:49 PM »
The advice of Vivek, Matthew and kidnovice is very helpful here - I would agree with what they've said.

This is a very interesting topic. I remember Matthew talking before about how someone like Osho had become enlightened in some areas, but because he had dissolved a lot of his ego, the parts that remained became distorted, hence the obsession with his nice cars and wealthy lifestyle.

Looking back, in the first few years of my meditation my life went to some funny extremes. I look on it as, like Vivek says, Sankaras coming up. I remember the idea of having a cool car had been in my subconscious for years, and after Vipassana it came to the surface and I went and got some nice old sports cars like MR2 and Celica. I really enjoyed them, without so much craving. Now that urge has passed away, and I look upon such things as massive sankaras arising, finding expression, and passing away. I also regressed a little bit in some ways, but it all helped with my moving on. In the end I'm glad I gave expression to those things, as now I feel certain subconscious desires have been taken out into the open, looked at, observed objectively with calmness and non judgement, and dissolved. In some cases it involved acting on those desires, but no harm. They still pass away :)
"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Bad effects from daily practice?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2010, 05:25:12 PM »
Hello and thanks for your many answers!

Today in the morning I tried to work with the concept of full body Shamata and found that it is worth continuing and trying what effects it could have.

I didn't concentrate on my breathing all the time, it soon started to be some sort of full body awareness and was quite similar to the body scanning. \I also had the feeling that the body scanning routine comes more logically out from that than from anapana. But that might be just a personal impression for now.

Regarding the Metta meditation: Would you say, it as essential to finish a meditation session with that? Or do you recommend to meditate over Metta only when one feels like doing so?

The concentration is on the sensations in the body as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe. There will be muscles moving throughout your body as you breathe and you will attain a subtle awareness and calm your mind. Regarding Metta meditations keep that a small part of your practice - actually you can reflect on the bramavihara's off the cushion just as effectively.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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