Author Topic: Stormy Sensations  (Read 8142 times)

niza

Stormy Sensations
« on: August 06, 2011, 05:33:19 AM »
Hello All,

Wasnt sure which forum to post on. I practise Vipassana as taught by S.N Goenka and try sit 2 hours daily since the last 3 years.
Have written to matthew earlier as well.

The sensations are so intense..and full of friction/agitation most of the day...and cannot seem to calm down.

Also offlate it is accompanied by moments of despair/depression where going about routine becomes a huge challenge. It doesnt last all day and settles down after a while. But its torture when it happens.

Any suggestions? Should i keep working with sensations? or with breath? Tried anapana only for a while as suggested by matthew...but the sensations are too stormy.

WOuld be greatful for any inputs.

Love to All,
Niza

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2011, 06:24:17 AM »
Hi Niza,

Good to see you posting.

Relax, relax, relax.

If you have been doing three years of anapana at the nose and bodyscanning you will need to try a month or three or more of "breathing in sensitive to the whole body and calming the body, breathing out sensitive to the whole body and calming the body".

Anything less than this will unlikely start to deprogram the habits you have formed around meditation.

At the same time no other techniques to be used.

It's no surprise you experience some moments of despair - this too shall pass.

Truly,

Matthew

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

Quardamon

  • Member
    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2011, 12:53:19 PM »
Hi Niza,

Three years of two hours daily is a lot. How many retreats did you do with the Goenka method? I read on this forum, that in his method he gives slightly different instructions in the more advanced retreats. Like in the first 10-day course one is taught anapana at the nose and body scanning. In the second course, one is taught also acknowledging thoughts, in the third also feelings - something like that. (I never did Goenka.) 
For the moment, my question is: How many retreats did you do, and/or: What instructions do you follow?
Did you get teachings or have exchanges in those three years?


Vivek

  • Moderator
  • Member
    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2011, 06:45:43 AM »
Quote
Like in the first 10-day course one is taught anapana at the nose and body scanning. In the second course, one is taught also acknowledging thoughts, in the third also feelings - something like that.
I am not aware of any such variations given in 10-day courses. All 10-day retreats have the same instructions, though old students are given slightly different ones. But, this tradition emphasizes on sensations, not thoughts or feelings.
 
Quote from: Niza
Any suggestions? Should i keep working with sensations? or with breath?
My opinion: If the mind is getting too agitated, go back to Anapana. As and when the mind gets calm and the Samadhi is optimum, gradually go back to sensations. Do not be disheartened or afraid, stick to the practice no matter what. The symptoms you are describing are actually signs of progress. So, keep the momentum steady.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Stefan

  • The Marvellous Omannobazong!!!
  • Member
  • love is the key
    • Vipassana (Goenka), Freestyle, Family, God
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2011, 05:28:35 PM »

If the sea is stormy, oh sailor, what can you do to calm the sea?

Metta, Stefan
anicca

niza

Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2011, 11:10:56 AM »
Still sailing on a stormy sea of sensation.....cannot relax...this is tough!
Just hoping it will pass some day...!!

Does anything really help a stormy sea - except wait for the storm to pass!!

Quardamon done 4 10 day retreats....There are no variations in instructions..
Its the same technique.. 3 days anapana and then work with sensations...



Vivek

  • Moderator
  • Member
    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2011, 11:15:20 AM »
Go back to Anapana, work on Samadhi to steady and calm your mind.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Andrew

  • Member
    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2011, 12:05:07 PM »
That's a month of storms!

Niza why don't you start up a practice thread and detail this storm for your benefit and others. You are such a dedicated meditator, what input do you receive as far as spiritual friendships? I think although meditation is DIY, the understanding of dhamma is benefited by interaction.

loving friendliness to you

andrew
getting it done

Stefan

  • The Marvellous Omannobazong!!!
  • Member
  • love is the key
    • Vipassana (Goenka), Freestyle, Family, God
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2011, 04:14:17 PM »


Still sailing on a stormy sea of sensation.....cannot relax...


The relaxation doesn't concern the conditions of the sea:

The young sailor clings to the ropes, shivers all over, throws up, screams, runs around confused.
The old captain checks the sails with a glimpse of an eye, then leans back comfortably, lites his pipe and smiles at the weather.
Although both  experience the same storm ...

"Yo-ho-ho!"  :)
anicca

Quardamon

  • Member
    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2011, 09:12:55 PM »
Hello Niza, Vivek,

I cannot find where I got this idea from, that advanced Goenka practitioners learn other techniques.

I am in a period/situation, that I do not/should not want to tune in to others. In this case: I did not sit and meditate before reacting.

A friend of mine was very glad to learn the technique of noting, and of giving attention to anything that comes to the fore and is getting hold of the attention anyway. Before that, with Sufi-meditations that focus on relaxing and surrender, she would not be able to cope with strong fears, other strong feelings, and chaos. Now she was allowed to note chaos and allow it to be there. Not any more this idea that she should be relaxed. No more struggle with the idea that there should not be hatred. If hatred came to the foreground, there was hatred. Just look at it. Acknowledging what is there has a calming effect - even if at first, it might be shocking or disquieting.

Niza,
If you could find a physical teacher, that would be a good thing, I guess. Doing this kind of meditation, one needs a lot of trust. What I read is, that at times it is so helpful to have a teacher that one trusts.

I stop now.

Vivek

  • Moderator
  • Member
    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2011, 06:59:39 AM »
Agreed, Q. I too would recommend Niza to consult a teacher in person.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Stefan

  • The Marvellous Omannobazong!!!
  • Member
  • love is the key
    • Vipassana (Goenka), Freestyle, Family, God
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2011, 12:51:32 PM »


Now she was allowed to note chaos and allow it to be there. Not any more this idea that she should be relaxed. No more struggle with the idea that there should not be hatred. If hatred came to the foreground, there was hatred. Just look at it. Acknowledging what is there has a calming effect - even if at first, it might be shocking or disquieting.


There's a body sensation accompaning every emotion. If it is too hard to observe the emotion, then simply switch to the body sensation. When there's too much anger, I ignore the anger but focus on the hot little stone inside my stomach. Since the body sensation is another aspect of the emotion (both are different aspects of the same phenomenon) it doesn't really matter which you focus on ... only sometimes the body sensation is easier to handle than the emotion.
anicca

Vivek

  • Moderator
  • Member
    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2011, 01:37:21 PM »
That is one excellent example of off-cushion Vipassana, Stefan. Negative (read: not so helpful) emotions become our friends once we start to focus on the body sensations associated with them.

On a side note, I would urge Niza to really gear up his (her?) mindfulness and equanimity, bring in more precision to his observation of the sensations. (The following is intended as guidelines during  the sitting) So, Niza, when you say "stormy" sensations, isn't that a little vague? Is that how you labelled the sensations when you first encountered them? If so, how exactly are they "stormy"? Is there any movement to them? If so, how fast are they moving? From where to where is the movement? Or are they swirling all across? If so, in which direction? How fast? Really calm down and sharpen your mind when you do this. If you are able to do this much with some skill, step up the mindfulness even further. Is it only one big chunk of sensation you can observe? (Chances are that this is usually not the case. Such gross sensations are usually composite, meaning, they are composed of still smaller or subtler ones). How many sensations are there exactly? How much can you count? Now observe each individual sensation. Really see its characteristics. Strive to be as equanimous as possible throughout. And, most importantly: INVESTIGATE WHETHER THE SENSATIONS ARE PERMANENT, DO THEY SATISFY AND ARE THEY SELF. If there are tips that will help you ride this storm, then investigating the Three Marks will surely top the list.   
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

niza

Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2011, 03:22:15 PM »
Dear All,

Thanks for your inputs....

Vivek,

The movement is from top to toes..rapid intense movement..like every cell is exploding...Not exactly swirling.........but arising and disappearing in its place...the force is very strong..and its difficult to think / work in this state..almost 6 months... how to count ...its like each atom in the body???? It persists outside the sitting too

I did speak to a senior teacher...advise is something on the lines of.....keep doing your work...or practise anapana...or keep the scanning movement on while observing..part by part..bit by bit...

Quardamon...i dunno what emotion is there... its just this friction in the body,,,and resistence to the experience..like the body tensing up....trying too hard to focus...sounds like the young sailor..

Still trying to figure out what exactly equanimity means...how do i accept there is no equanmity when i dunno what equanimity means?

duh for now..helps to be interacting about all this...

Love,
Niza




niza

Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2011, 03:27:04 PM »
Vivek..her sensations...not his...

Morning Dew

Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2011, 04:52:46 PM »
Quote
...trying too hard to focus...

Hi Niza,

Remind yourself not to focus. No focus. Instead Keep Noting All Bodily Sensations as they Arise and Pass away. Note them and Keep calming the body with each in and outbreath building a calm base.

Let go of Anapana at the nose and let go of scaning the body. Both is very much a volitional fabrication. There is no reason to scan for phenomena which are arising on their own anyway :)
All you do is Be Awake to what is taking place in the now.
Letting go of the Doer mind and trusting the Knower mind more.

Before beggining a session try to invoke a positive and calm state of mind instead of negative. You can try Metta for a few minutes or simply try and invoke a happy memory you actualy experienced. This can assist in not falling into Dark Night bleedthrough.

May you be happy :)



Stefan

  • The Marvellous Omannobazong!!!
  • Member
  • love is the key
    • Vipassana (Goenka), Freestyle, Family, God
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2011, 07:49:53 PM »
Usually I don't think it is a good advice to tell someone to drop his technique, Dusko, because discussing the pros and cons of this versus that technique is extremely fruitless (and ' volitional fabrication' is only your assumption, but we won't discuss that here, please).

But in this special situation I thought about advising to do some Shamatha, too.

Quote
... you will need to try a month or three or more of "breathing in sensitive to the whole body and calming the body, breathing out sensitive to the whole body and calming the body"

You could give it a try.

Metta, Stefan
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 07:54:18 PM by The Marvellous Omannobazong!!! »
anicca

Masauwu

  • Member
    • chipping away
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2011, 09:15:02 PM »
Hi Niza,

Equanimity basicly means an even acceptance to whatever phenomena arises without reacting to it, a state of inner equilibrium that is unshaken by either unpleasant or pleasant experiences. As with most deeper inner states, words perform poorly at describing it. Just like the teacher said, continuing your practice will move things along, Anapanasati is a good idea like Vivek and Matthew said; it will bring the tranquility to balance the storm you uncovered with the 3 years of body scanning.

Believe it or not, that storm you started is a good thing, you just need to find the tranquility to navigate past it. :)

PS Since i cannot know your exact Anapanasati instructions given at them courses, i am taking the liberty of quoting from a temporary draft of Matthew`s meditation guide because i think they can help:
Quote
Shamatha/Calm abiding instructions and notes.

The practice is designed to bring your body and mind into full  harmony, to quieten the mind naturally over time, through repeated practice and not using any kind of force, and to improve and deepen your level of concentration. It is the gate through which you gain the solid basis of a calm, stable, concentrated bodymind able to further investigate the reality in which you live (internally and externally).

1) Choose a quiet place where you feel comfortable.
Notes: This can be a spot in your home where you will not be disturbed, somewhere in the garden or in nature.

2) Sit in a way that your back muscles hold you upright and erect without strain and without external support if possible.
Notes: This can be seated on the floor cross legged or seated on a chair such as a dining chair for example. It is important that the least strain in your body comes from your posture, thus if you sit on the floor for most westerners it is advisable to use some cushions or folded blankets to raise the backside a little bit - anything from 10 - 30 cm is usual - and if you sit in a chair it is important that your hips are not lower than your knees - also do not use the back of the chair to lean on if possible.

3. Once seated in a quiet place, upright and comfortable take a few deep breaths to centre yourself and start quieting yourself.

4. The core of the practice:

i) Breathe in paying attention to bodily sensations as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe. Breathe out paying attention to bodily sensations and calming the body as you breathe.

Notes: Do not intellectualise where you pay attention to or try to "follow the path of the breath in the body" or any other such thing - these are fabrications. Pay attention to the actual sensations in your body, wherever they are. Do not interfere with the natural breathing pattern, just pay attention to the sensations in the body as you breathe.

ii) Thoughts: Let thoughts be. Do not try to suppress them yet do not follow them. Let them arise and fall like waves coming up on the beach and flowing back into the sea.

Notes: Do not try to suppress thoughts - this will quickly turn your practice into a form of self-hypnosis. Thoughts will happen - a lot at first! When we say "do not follow them" what is meant is this: Usually one thought triggers another. For example you might experience the thought "What shall I have for dinner tonight?" - usually the mind is then triggered into further thinking, such as, "Oh I fancy cheese on toast. Damn .. we have no cheese at home. I'll have to go to the supermarket after work. Oh that will be bothersome, it's always so busy at that time. etc. etc. etc."

The aim is to be aware of thought happening without allowing this follow-through of habituated thinking to continue. Do not expect to achieve this from the moment you start the practice. Depending on the initial internal conditions of your bodymind, the time you invest in the practice and the external conditions of your day-today life, it can take from some hours of practice to some months before having the experience of a single thought with no "follow through" thinking.

Do not force your mind into silence and do not fall into the trap of criticising yourself for having follow-through thinking occur. This is just natural! It is your current conditioned state - and this is what this practice will gently, in time, and safely, unravel.

iii) Always return to the sensations in the body as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe.

Notes: Thoughts will occur. You will suffer "follow-through" thinking - probably a lot and especially when you begin this practice. The point is not to suppress this artificially but to notice when it has happened and your mind has wandered from the sensations in the body as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe, then return the focus of the mind to those sensations and calming the body. When you notice you have got caught in a "train of thoughts", you can, at the beginning, make a mental note of this if you wish: just say "thinking" to yourself in your mind. It is not encouraged to do this for an extended period as it will be a new habit, but for some beginners it helps to "kick-start" the practice.

This returning of the attention to the bodily sensations and calming the body is the first stage of training in calm-abiding meditation. If you force quiet on your mind and avoid this stage you will never progress beyond a mild hypnotic calming trance. This trance can bring peace and relief yet it will not deeply change the way your bodymind works.

Only by repeatedly failing to keep the attention on the sensations in the body as you breathe and calm the body, then by noticing/becoming aware you have done so, and then gently (and without self-criticism - just another form of follow-on thinking), returning the attention to those sensations and calming will you train yourself in the first skill in concentration: maintaining the focus on an object (the bodily sensations).

iv)Time: How much you benefit from this practice is deeply correlated to the time you invest in it.

Notes: You probably spend at least half an hour to an hour looking after your bodily hygiene. Why not start by aiming to spend the same amount of time on this "mental hygiene"?

Sitting twice a day is recommended for the best results. The ideal times are after you shower in the morning and before you eat breakfast and some time in the evening that is neither too close to dinner (likely to induce sleepiness) nor too close to your bedtime (also likely to induce sleepiness and sometimes can cause interruptions to sleep).

5) Summary of the practice:

Sit comfortably: spine erect but comfortable, a sense of being awake and aware.
Breathe in and out naturally: paying attention to your bodily sensations and calming bodily tensions.
Let thoughts be: without following them and without suppressing them.
When you find you have got caught on the "thought-train" return awareness to bodily sensations and calming the body: do so without guilt.
Remain aware and awake: if you feel sleepy it is often because your body posture has leant forward and your breathing become shallow.
Try and find as much time in the day as you can practically find to undertake this practice and undertake the practice on a daily basis.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 09:26:17 PM by Masauwu »
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2011, 11:55:02 PM »
Thank you for posting that masauwu. It is being redrafted.

Much love,

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

Andrew

  • Member
    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2011, 01:50:59 AM »

duh for now..helps to be interacting about all this...

Love,
Niza

Keep interacting please, your dedication is inspiring and your presence here very welcome. We are all indeed in this together, that is what Sangha is all about.

love

andy
getting it done

Vivek

  • Moderator
  • Member
    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2011, 01:56:22 PM »
Niza,

 Good to know that you are consulting a teacher, and his advice is sensible enough. This is what almost all teachers would advise: continue with the practice.  To me, it looks like you are experiencing the 4th or the 5th stages of Insight. I understand that what you are mainly seeking is a way to end this experience, but I am sorry to say that there is no quick way to end this. You will have to see this through all the way. And no, I won't advise you to change your technique. You could maybe go back to Anapana (the method you have learned) if you have to, but that is all I would say. As I have mentioned before (in other threads) Vipassana is not going to be all fine and easy as we progress. We are most certainly going to hit real nasty snags at times, just like the one you are facing right now.

Regarding equanimity: I wonder why you do not understand the concept clearly, since, as you say that you have attended almost 4 10-day retreats, and that equanimity is the one thing that is taught again and again as an important aspect of the technique (togetherwith awareness or mindfulness). Simply put, equanimity towards the sensations is the constant, persistent attempt to perceive them objectively and letting go of our identification with them. Remember the analogy of the doctor examining the patient that Goenkaji talks about in his 10-day disourse? Reviewing that would be a great idea.

Additionally, I would also advise to consult your teacher regularly (if you feel that he is sincere). I don't know how it exactly works, but metta from the teacher helps a lot to get through difficulties on the path. I had firsthand experienced it. I hope I am making some sense to you. Please take my suggestions in good spirit.

May you come out of your suffering.

May you come out of these troublesome stages and unfold to true awakening.

Vivek.

 
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

niza

Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2011, 04:44:41 PM »
Vivek,

About equanimity...the body resists the experience..tenses up...and doesnt feel like its in equilibrium... And so i havnt experienced moments of equanimity where i feel detached from unpleasant experiences... All i seem to do is give myself a forced reminder that its impermanant...
Does this make sense?

Will keep on working...Thanks for your Metta. During the evening sit...it helped quite a bit when tried to bring precision to the observation as advised by you...the focus went out of the suffering for a while..

Love,
Niza

Morning Dew

Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2011, 06:35:59 PM »
Quote
All i seem to do is give myself a forced reminder that its impermanant...

This is an intelectual fabrication. There is no need to force a thing just see the sensations arising and passing away. What you can do is Remember to Calm the Body with each in and outbreath. Once the body is calm it will release the tension.

I too am learning a lesson in not trying to control the phenomena but to rather let go an simply note all phenomena without judging, remember to calm the body. Calmed body will result in calm breathing which will result in calm mind.

May you be free from suffering

Vivek

  • Moderator
  • Member
    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2011, 07:06:13 AM »
Niza,

 
Quote
About equanimity...the body resists the experience..tenses up...and doesnt feel like its in equilibrium
Equanimity is more of a mental faculty, although its effect could be sensed in the body (breathing normal, muscles relaxed etc). If your body tenses up during sittings, that is a sure sign that you are actually reacting to the sensations rather than observing them equanimously. What I suggest is that when you become aware that the body has tensed up (gut clenching, grinding teeth, restricted breathing, limbs tightening up as if ready to fight etc) gently relax them - unclench the gut, relax the jaws etc etc, and go back to observing the sensations. After some time, this will happen again. Then, again you relax them and go back to awareness of the sensations. As and when you observe that you are reacting, persistently keep relaxing. If you persist, there is a great chance that eventually the reactions will die out (and that is the aim of Vipassana) and your equanimity would be strengthened to a great extent.

May the Enlightened One help you walk on the path with patience, courage and diligence.

Vivek.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

chintan

  • Maun
  • Member
    • Vipassana - Goenka
Re: Stormy Sensations
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2011, 03:18:13 PM »
Hi Niza,

Welcome to the forum. Would agree with Vivek that you are experiencing advanced stage of Vipassana.

Please do a quick read of http://www.vipassanadhura.com/sixteen.html#fourb

I am in the third nana and be walloped around by a series of pitis myself but not as stormy as yours. My advice is to read it once and keep it in the back of the mind - too much of theory will cloud it all.

A co-meditator in the retreat I went to had similar to you "stormy sensations" so much so that he could not eat, sleep or even walk for a day. The teacher helped him - dont know how exactly. He had reached the fifth Bhanga Nana. We spoke on the last day when Nobel silence was broken..

Metta to you..

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
9 Replies
7315 Views
Last post February 22, 2010, 01:06:25 AM
by kidnovice
3 Replies
16390 Views
Last post September 20, 2008, 08:53:21 PM
by Stefan
6 Replies
3203 Views
Last post November 12, 2009, 03:58:21 AM
by wildfox
5 Replies
3856 Views
Last post January 04, 2010, 02:16:50 PM
by Matthew
15 Replies
5817 Views
Last post March 17, 2011, 10:26:47 AM
by thelastrich
39 Replies
13601 Views
Last post February 19, 2011, 03:30:22 PM
by Stefan
20 Replies
6289 Views
Last post February 26, 2017, 11:04:21 AM
by stillpointdancer