Author Topic: Meditation worsens anxiety!  (Read 9838 times)

Maysun

Meditation worsens anxiety!
« on: December 30, 2011, 10:06:55 AM »
I´ve been trying to do meditation for about 1.5 month now, mostly to deal with anxiety, derealisation and panic attacks. The first 2-3 weeks overall there were subtle positive changes. I tried several methods and stuck by the ones that worked best.

However, it seems right when I find out what works, my mind starts sabotaging me, doing the exact opposite. For instance, if I notice bodyscan usually makes me more calm, and I focus on the left leg, my mind immediately goes to the right IN RESPONSE to it and does not want to move back. It is not just that I get more conscious of all the shitthoughts my head produces, it is that it actually produces MORE shitthoughts in response tot the ´assignment´.
Another example is that if I think I see a pattern: sit meditation on breath works a couple of days (and even works is relative cause there still nasty thoughts but theyre managable, overall more relaxed of focused). Then if I try again, I am only feeding on my frustration or fear and end up way more frustrated than I began. So I start conditioning myself to associate this type of meditation here and then as a fear feeder and decondition myself to do another type someplace else. Which works about one time, then same story.

I´m trying to accept and let go of every thought but trying is not the same as actually letting go. If I´d be good at letting go I wouldn´t have to practice meditation, but I´m not so I practice it but you need to be able to let go for meditation, so it´s a huge paradox. I try taking a step back and allowing myself to change postures, do it only a few minutes etc but my mind is just too strong (the wrong way) and can take me from a tiny bit fear to OMG I´m gonna die in a minute.

So in this situation, how can I learn to meditate in a helpful way and still improve my concentration etc?

I do have therapy and talk about it with my therapist, but like to see more ideas on this.
On the internet I only seem to find information about meditation being such a good thing and sometimes about meditation making you conscious of the nasty stuff happening in your brain. I suppose both are true, but my mind also respond ON the sensations and nasty thoughts in a way I apparently can´t manage. And if I keep taking steps back and end up doing 3 minutes of meditation each day because everything else makes it worse, then the positive can´t do much neither.

By the way, I also read sometimes that you can´t do meditation wrong and that everything is ok, but I think you can only say that when it is already going well. When you´re ending up very scared because of the trying to meditate, than obviously it is not OK. + There is always one ´task´ like focus on your feet, and if you don´t try it you´re not meditating at all so I don´t understand that idea.

Help?

Morning Dew

Re: Meditation worsens anxiety!
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2011, 11:32:41 AM »
Hi Maysun my friend :)

I suffered from very strong Panic Attacks and Fear form sleeping and Paranoia from walking on a street at night, well Paranoid I was very much we might conclude. Just recently I got diagnosed with PTSD (war combat and crapy childhood).

I will try and share my experience by drawing inspiration from what you have written:

Under your practice in the side bar you wrote;
Quote
I have no idea really, try a bit of everything

I joined this community back in March 2010 I think and was in search for a meditation technique which will calm down my anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia.

I got offered here to try a technique called Shamatha or Calm-abiding (artice is on the front page). I started practicing this technique with whole of my heart for almost year and a half and the result was fantastic I must say. My Panic Attacks, Fear from sleeping and walking on the street at night as well as my stif neck pain have subsided drasticly and thanks to that I can function much better in my every day life.

It took me about 6 month of daily Shamatha practice to come to that point. I practiced 40-45 minutes every morning, at times even two times a day. At work I would make sure to go to sit in the toilet for 5-10 minutes and this would calm me down during working hours.

Quote
However, it seems right when I find out what works, my mind starts sabotaging me, doing the exact opposite

When I started with practicing Shamatha I experienced exactly the same phenomena as you describe here. What you are describing is not to be taken as a failure but the very truth of our reality. What you are describing is the very First Noble Truth of The Buddha :) "Life Is Suffering" or the way this mind of our clings to phenomena that is.

You are doing great in my opinion, the only small tiny thing I would suggest is to always base your practice on Calming the body with each in and outbreath.

Restlessness is one of the 5 Hindrances which are to be calm down/let go of.

Quote
I am only feeding on my frustration or fear and end up way more frustrated than I began

I can totally relate to this. I too got as frustrated as you. What I got to do is follow the Shamatha instructions closly, this is also what the Buddha instructs; Be Aware of the Arising Phenomena, Comprehand it Clearly ("feeling of fear and frustration"), Calm this phenomena into the body with each in and outbreath and gently once calmed return to the Object of meditation (in this case breathing).
This worked for me like a charm.

Quote
I´m trying to accept and let go of every thought but trying is not the same as actually letting go

Most if not all practitioners get this very same issue :) I still ride that horse :) Thoughts will be there most of the time it is the way we RELATE to them that COUNTS :) Here is where you get the Insight into the nature of Suffering The 2nd Noble Truth "Clinging to phenomena causes Suffering". We cling to the arising phenomena by feeling Desire or Aversion towards it. We Desire stillness and silence and calmness and we feel Aversion towards the invading thoughts, unpleasant bodily sensations and emotions. All these Arise in within the body and right here you remedy this by Clearly Comprehanding the arisen phenomena (pleasant or unpleasant), Calming the body until the phenomena Passes away and returning gently to the Breath or the Object of meditation. This is the way of ACTUALY Letting Go (The 3rd Noble Truth) :) and not by pushing it away :) which is based on AVERSION :) and DESIRE for something better (2nd Noble Truth).

I made a song called The Four Noble Truths Unplugged which you might find useful. It is made in a funny way but still it does bring the message across I feel :)

http://cheguebuddha.blogspot.com/2011/12/four-noble-truts.html

p.s. If you want you are more than welcome to practice with me once a week over the Skype. This community sits together over Skype video conference once a week. PM me if you want my skype user name :)

May we all be happy

frepie

  • Member
    • Goenka and personnal
    • Looking for answers and trying to loose weight
Re: Meditation worsens anxiety!
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2011, 05:03:56 PM »
Great answer Che! Very inspiring.
Meditation makes me angry...

Maysun

Re: Meditation worsens anxiety!
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2012, 10:17:14 PM »
Thanks so far for the extensive reply Che Guebuddha

There were a few days I consciously decided to not meditate and I felt way better and released, but I know it´s in the letting go, not in the fact that I didn´t do meditation itself.

I want to continue the practice and I am now thinking maybe for me it is important that there is no force to it and I have to allow myself to quit at all times. This may go against the directions of staying put at one place, not moving and finishing it through to whatever time you set, but I think that may be too harsh for me. I need to do something that facilitates my attention and if I keep thinking ´I can´t sit straight for even 10 sec´ ´my legs hurt´ it is more like torture.

And I will try to start without high expectations because they strongly have to do with it as well. (After two weeks of ´succesfull´ meditation: Oh I am so great, look at me, in half a year I will be enlightened -> NOT)

chintan

  • Maun
  • Member
    • Vipassana - Goenka
Re: Meditation worsens anxiety!
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2012, 06:53:39 PM »
Hi Maysun,

For instance, if I notice bodyscan usually makes me more calm, and I focus on the left leg, my mind immediately goes to the right IN RESPONSE to it and does not want to move back. It is not just that I get more conscious of all the shitthoughts my head produces, it is that it actually produces MORE shitthoughts in response tot the ´assignment'.
.......

By the way, I also read sometimes that you can´t do meditation wrong and that everything is ok, but I think you can only say that when it is already going well. When you´re ending up very scared because of the trying to meditate, than obviously it is not OK. + There is always one ´task´ like focus on your feet, and if you don´t try it you´re not meditating at all so I don´t understand that idea.

Help?

Two observations
1. The very fact that you are able to distinguish that you were focusing on left leg and the mind is going to right indicates to me that your meditation is working. You are aware of where you want it to be.. its like you have been able to put the reins on your horse. Now is the task of reining it in.. the question is who tires first. Some minds are like wild horses and the moment they see reins they revolt..

2. I will not agree that you can't do meditation wrong..  there are various techniques and through trial and error you will find the one or a mixture of 2-3 of them which work for you.. Start with Anapana Sati and see if it works

Metta..

rob

Re: Meditation worsens anxiety!
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2012, 09:41:51 PM »
I'm very new to meditation as well and have been having similar experiences. I believe the parts of my mind that have become addicted to constant occupation and chatter are fighting back as my practice erodes them (not always successfully). I have frequent anxiety attacks that, like your own, tend to subside if I drop my practice for a day or two. They began at almost the exact time as I first began meditation.

I also wake up every morning now with a song stuck in my head. And 90% of the time it's a song I haven't heard in a long time... and I mean it's in me head before I leave the pillow. This NEVER happened before I began my practice, and having a song in my head is the most difficult distraction for me to put aside for meditation.

Lastly, thoughts of verbal and physical altercations with my Intro to Meditation teacher have become very frequent when my mind runs away with itself.

I wholly believe that this is my mind fighting back, but I've lately had decent luck with dampening the anxiety attacks by observing the physical sensations and simply accepting that they are a part of me at this moment.

My teacher said something last night about a PBS documentary he watched about mapping the human mind. A neruoscientist they interviewed said (paraphrasing) "I've mapped the human brain and I can't find us. What I've found is a thousand parts of the brain all firing together, collectively creating 'us'... so it's more accurate to say that there are a thousand 'you' than one."

So the 'me' that is having these anxiety attacks is just lashing out, I believe. Self preservation. People develop allergies, their bodies reject organ transplants, they develop antibodies, and they get pimples when toxins flush out of their system. My gray matter is more impressive biologically than all of these other phenomena combined... should I ever have believed that it would roll over so easily?

Your body rejects threats, but not always using the intelligence of whichever 'you' is prevailing at that moment. You know you need that new kidney to stick, but your body really couldn't care less. You don't punch yourself in the sides if the transplant doesn't work out. If you weren't anxious and frustrated by your practice, chances are you'd fill that mental space with something else, and there's no guarantee it would be positive. Next crop to rise up will be hopelessness maybe because you feel the practice failed to 'fix' you.

For me, the ability to abandon expectations is a key benefit of the practice, and it has to extend to (and beyond) the practice itself.

Just my $0.02. I

Andrew

  • Member
    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Meditation worsens anxiety!
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2012, 11:58:11 PM »
Your 2c is a nice shiny one rob, I like the way you put all of that.

I think another important point that rises out of the 'me as a thousand things going on in the brain' point you make is there is no 'enemy' in there to fight, just a lot of things that get packed away and not always neatly! It's like an attic in those cliched hollywood kids films; full of brick-a-brac and can be quite scary when you go in there with a just candle or torch.

It is always important to note that 'meditation' is first and foremost getting used to be relaxed, pure and simple. like you point out, expectations are usually working to some other agenda in the rest of our lives as well, leaving them behind is beneficial, but not easy. Backing off is as important as pushing forward, if not more so.

getting it done

rob

Re: Meditation worsens anxiety!
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2012, 12:50:47 AM »
LOVE that attic analogy, may have to borrow it someday :) Such a great parallel because something scary always lurks in those shadows, like the monster under your bed. But what happens when dad shines a flashlight under there? Poof!

Wishing you all everything you want, and above all, a freedom from the want itself.

 

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