Author Topic: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration  (Read 5564 times)

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« on: April 24, 2011, 05:20:56 AM »
I want to write about an experience I had with the noise. Couple of days ago I woke up later than usual and started the morning meditation, five minutes later the noises started. I felt so angry and I wanted to get up but I decided to carry on and see what would happen, I watched the anger get stronger, it became so intense almost unbearable. I could hardly keep my focus on the breath, than I had a backache, and it was so painful. Still I didn’t move I just sat there and observed. Usually I am able to sit and observe any emotions that may come up during meditation apart from anger. If I got angry during the sitting I would get up. This time I decided to sit and observe. After an hour which seemed like eternity the pain in my back and the emotional pain of my anger reached their heights then suddenly I felt tingling in my back and the pain disappeared and instead I felt nice feelings in my back then the anger just vanished without a trace though the noise was still there.
When I got up I felt at peace the whole day and there was clarity in my mind I have never known before that lasted eight hours after the mediation. 
I haven’t had this experience since and I am wondering if any of you had a similar one.

I know that Green Tara doesn't come around often any more, but I just wanted to thank her for posting this in another thread (Earplugs!!!)

I have sat a few times this morning, but I can feel that there is many things in my way, one of them is pain in my legs, the other annoyances with noise. Green Tara's post has really encouraged me to press through both things. For the record, I'm using a seiza bench (the second one I've built), but despite months of sitting now, the flexibility doesn't seem to be returning. It would seem that indeed I am getting old. Damn impermanence!

Green Tara didn't get much feedback on whether others had pushed through physical pain and anger at noises like this, I'm interested to know the answers, as there is a fear on the pain side, that I'm doing damage somehow. But I know it is ridiculous,  I've pushed through worse pain, and not been injured. Just would like some encouragement from hearing your stories.

love

andy
getting it done

rideforever

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Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2011, 07:34:24 AM »

I have been using earplugs regularly for a couple of months and its really great - so quiet !  I even used them on an IMC retreat during the group sittings.  I have very strong reactions to noise as well - without them there are times meditation just doesn't work. 

Pain wise - well I have a box full of discarded zafus, cushions, and a seiza bench.  Nowadays I have given up on all that stuff and sit on a pillow leaning against the edge of my bed, which I can hold for 2 hours without any problems - if I make sure I am sitting up quite straight my abdomen is free enough.  I was looking at a picture of U Ba Khin the other day taken as he was in meditation and he had quite poor posture, leaning forward ... people often say that you need a formal posture in order that your abdomen is free ... but he didn't have a particularly good one.  Anyway, I wanted to meditate not fight my body - that's something else entirely.


Morning Dew

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Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2011, 07:40:11 AM »
I too use earplugs when needed especialy if my wife is around the house making subtle noise :D
As a matter of fact I will use it now after I have answered this post.

About Seiza Bench, well make a TALLER one :) the one I make is a bit too short in comparison to the "original" zazen one. This will fix your problem. Or sit on a normal chair instead with an erected spine.

It is not about ear plugs but about the story in our heads that we build around earplugs :D be mindful of that only and let earplugs be just that ... earplugs ;) We drink water when thirsty we use earplugs when retreat into the self, sleep when tired, eat when hungry, etc ...

No reason for pain in my opinion.

Friendly Dusko


Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2011, 11:30:31 AM »
Thanks for the replies fellas.

love

andy
getting it done

kidnovice

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    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2011, 08:19:57 PM »
Hey Andy,

Long time no chat.  :) I've been so busy lately, that I just haven't had the time to post as I used to, but I've enjoyed seeing how actively you've been involved.  You are a wonderful addition to this sangha.

Anyway, ive got a few moments, and i thought i would respond to your question...

Green Tara didn't get much feedback on whether others had pushed through physical pain and anger at noises like this, I'm interested to know the answers, as there is a fear on the pain side, that I'm doing damage somehow.

I've had many similar experiences to Green Tara on retreat (and milder ones in daily practice). And I know that I have been greatly helped by these experiences. I've seen intense pain dissolve in the actual moment (as GT describes), and I've had areas of my body that seem chronically afflicted with intense pain (for hours or days), only to have it all vanish after a brief break between sittings.

For me, the real benefit of having these experiences is that I started to see the deep interconnection between "pain" and "my mind's reaction to pain." After enough experiences seeing pain dissolve,  I learned to have a much deeper faith in the power of my own awareness.

I realized for myself that if my awareness is sufficiently calm and kind, then the pain won't be very troublesome... and may even just dissolve when deeply observed. On the flip side, if my awareness is aversive in any way, painful sensations will be amplified.

So, it's really important to know the quality of your awareness, and to train it to be calm.  That is always my top priority. Trying to simply endure pain without that knowledge and training is unfruitful and dangerous.

You can definitely injure yourself physically, and may even end up planting seeds of deep aversion.  After all, if you sit around stewing in anger and frustration, that is the kamma that you are planting for your future!

It helps me to think of the practice as a "stretching" exercise. I am stretching my capacity to have a calm and kind awareness. First, i have to cultivate a base-line of calm... Which is generally much easier to do without trying to endure pain.  Then I can stretch that calm.  Sometimes, I stretch it by training myself to be aware of pleasant (or at least neutral) sensations even while painful sensations are present in my body. Other times, I stretch by calmly observing the pain itself.

The trick is to know how far to stretch. Stretch too far and you are just agitated, and not cultivating any good qualities. Even worse, you injure yourself. But if you don't stretch at all, you never really develop in equanimity, which is a wonderful gift of the practice. The first step to this sort of training is to know yourself well enough to answer these questions: How far should you stretch? When are you over stretching?

In my own practice, it has really helped to become more skilled at tuning-in to awareness itself, and seeing the different ways (obvious and subtle) that the body and mind influence each other. That's something we all have to see for ourselves. Ive also benefited a lot from deepening and my clarifying my intention for meditation: to broaden my capacity to be calm and kind. That provides me with a valuable compass to make skillful choices at different moments in meditation (whether to move, whether to observe or ignore pain, etc.)

Anyway, it truly helps me to reflect on these things in writing. I hope some of this benefits you and others.  :)

With metta,
KN
« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 08:26:12 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.

Vivek

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Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2011, 06:34:14 AM »
Quote
I hope some of this benefits you and others.
Indeed, it had, KN. I was about to write my thoughts when I saw your post. The key is to not take one's meditative practice to extremes; not to get too comfortable and eventually making it a chore/routine, at the same time, not making it an endurance test either. Our daily practice should lie somewhere between these extremes and it may vary from individual to individual. For example, some days you find that you have gotten too comfortable with your sitting and so, you may decide to "stretch" a little, just to reinforce your commitment to the path. How much you stretch is up to you. I believe that changing our attitude to the pain (we experience during sitting) is quite important. When we reach the point where we experientially see the link between the physical pain and the mind, is a real turning point. Our practice then takes a new meaning. However, it is very important to keep the mind free of such cravings to reach certain points in meditation. Otherwise, there is a possibility of regress setting in.   
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Andrew

  • Member
    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2011, 07:11:37 AM »
Thanks Dylan, Vivek.

Dylan I hope you are going well, it is a privilege to read your posts so thanks for the effort.

I sat this morning for 2 sessions of around 30-40mins (I never time myself or use an alarm) One in seiza (after cutting up a camping mat and a yoga matt to make a better seat on my bench, which also raises the height of the seat by an inch, which also helped , thanks Dusko!) And one session in Burmese cross legs. 

I think just the determination not to let myself be agitated by discomfort reduced it. I am aware that something in my body-mind is hiding behind pain feelings and that some determination is needed. I found the cross legged different and I was able to actually observe discomfort in the pelvis without any pain in my legs. I used a camping matt and a 16mm yoga mat matts and the 3 throw cushions. No ear plugs for either session. Even the Harley Davidson starting up next door didn't really bother me.

I'm just getting some deeper discipline I think, not being such a pansy! I often think to myself, 'what would I do if I was in prison, or otherwise not able to get comfortable? I would have to make do and get through pain. Though I hear what you are saying, it is a form of exercise, yoga even, so it has to be built up over many months. but I definitely at the point now to 'stretch' my awareness beyond minor discomforts.

love

andy
 
getting it done

Jeeprs

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Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2011, 08:50:35 AM »
That's the way.

When I went on the Vipassana retreat several years ago I was acutely aware of the discomfort. omigod this is SO painful, painful-painful-painful, please let it stop, omigod.

But I think really this was a large part ego-resistance. I have realized lately that it is a bit uncomfortable, but really it is not such a big deal. Maybe I have just become accustomed. But I can sit for 50 minutes now. Doesn't matter, not a big deal.

But I have hit other obstacles at the moment. I am having major turmoil with younger son and it just completely wrecks my sense of tranquility. Don't want to sit at all. Must get back to it tomorrow - I know this. Several of the old samskaras have turned up too and are hanging around again. Honestly I get 'e' for effort.

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2011, 09:51:28 AM »
Hi Jeeprs,

I won't press you on what sort of turmoil with your son, but as I have 3 myself, and I was one of 4 boys, so I can empathise with you. Remaining calm sometimes means faking it! Just don't say anything except "I love you son". You don't have to feel it or think it, you just have to say it! Deal with meaning it later on your own. Walk away from potential arguments having said those 4 words.

As far as these 'old samskaras'; I vaguely know what that means, your great knowledge could be your undoing here though. I would say if it is an old one, then it is really time to get rid of it! If you did get rid of it, the it is a new one you have built since that time.
As a friend here, you get one chance to met your son's turmoil with your best shot. Sit your arse down, and work on your mindfulness like never before. He wants to know what you are made of as much as you do, let's find out shall we?

I just finished a game of monopoly with my boys. Usually that gets me revved right up, like pouring petrol on a fire, but I remained calm (ish)!. Would not have happened had I not sat twice this morning and worked on getting through some obstacles.

Feel the pain of what is happening square in your chest and face it head on. Breath through it, notice the sensation only, you know the drill.

love

andy 
getting it done

Jeeprs

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Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2011, 03:52:34 AM »
the tough thing is not wanting what you actually want. :'(

Everyone has strong and weak points. My strong point is reading and writing, language and literacy. My weak point is self-discipline.  To which end, the samkaras I am dealing with, actually come off a vine, if you get my drift. It is really time for me to get back to Earplugs, Pain and Frustration.

Andrew

  • Member
    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2011, 04:15:50 AM »
Hi Jonathan,
At the heart of self-discipline is self-esteem, my friend. You must love yourself first.  Your biggest strengths are kindness and humility from what I have seen., time to turn them on yourself and take all the judgments off yourself. Heal yourself the same way you know your words have healed others, with kindness.

Let go of all the rules, paths etc and just love yourself. Then sit. Get right back to being 20 years old again and love that bloke, then love the bloke he is now. Then love your son.

I'm only hammering you as I love you as a spiritual friend, perhaps a PM would be more discrete, but I would rather others judge my words to see if I'm off the mark or out of line, I could be just acting out my latent messiah complex!

As an aussie I know how our humility is a two edge sword, both a defense and an attack. We will admit our faults but inside we are going 'Fire trUCK that' Our convict heritage can make us two faced and twist what is otherwise a good trait.

Use your true humility to direct your kindness upon yourself and heal. A little bit will make a big difference.

love

andy
getting it done

Jeeprs

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Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2011, 04:51:23 AM »
thanks Andy! That is a very nice thing to say. It is OK but I am just reflecting on how it easy it is not to keep the precepts

But then I remember something the lecturer said the other day in the Foundations class. He said 'the precepts are just reminders'. They are not enforced by the Taleban (thank heavens for that!) In fact they are not enforced by anyone. They are just there as reminders, so when you get up too late to practice, yell at your son, and have a few drinks, this voice is saying (....ahem......).  Actually it is an example of self-sabotage. I do that. But thanks again, you are a true kalyāṇa-mitta (spiritual friend).


Vivek

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Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2011, 05:29:05 AM »
Quote from: Jeeprs
My strong point is reading and writing, language and literacy. My weak point is self-discipline.
Perhaps, it's not that you lack self-discipline completely; you are just not able to apply self-discipline in certain contexts. If you can read and write for hours on end, to me, it looks like self-discipline just comes naturally to you in that context. The joy, inspiration and motivation you get in that context makes it easy for you to be disciplined about it. I guess, if you'd stick to those activities long enough (meditation, perhaps?), you may develop the motivation to get along. Once we see solid results, there is usually no turning back.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Andrew

  • Member
    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Earplugs, Pain and Frustration
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2011, 05:29:51 AM »
What use is the 'ahem' voice?. How about the one that says 'I love you'? When you wake up late, It says 'I love you', when you are done yelling It says 'I love you' when you are drunk It says 'I love you' Give yourself a REAL break, stop listening to Ahem, he is a bad influence!

Dylan had some good advice in this thread when he said he takes a break from meditation when he feels it is a chore. Perhaps you need a break. Take a year off! Go fishing with your son, or better still running each morning! Wake up early, jump on him and get him out of bed and go for a jog a 5:00am. Mix it up.

Self sabotage only works when you have a plan. Throw out the plan and wing it. Only sit when you really feel like it.

I remember buddha said that being born a human was a rare. "If the whole world was an ocean and in that ocean was a turtle that surfaced once every one hundred years, and on the surface was a yoke floating randomly, then the chances of being born human is the same as if that turtle came up for breath and it's head went through the yoke"

Make the most of your life with your son, we won't be coming by this way again.

(I know the hammering should have stopped, but I thought that buddha quote was just begging to be said)

love

andy
getting it done

 

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