Author Topic: Samatha: Strong emotions--resisting calmness/neutrality  (Read 1706 times)

shayme

  • Guest
Samatha: Strong emotions--resisting calmness/neutrality
« on: April 08, 2013, 05:06:54 PM »
Greetings all

I thank everyone in advance for taking the time to read this post.

Some background information: I have been practicing meditation intermittently for the past 18 months. I focus primarily on samatha because it seems to be the foundation of leading a life that is less chaotic [relaxation/mindfulness].

However, every time I devote myself to engaging in daily samatha practice I eventually find myself rejecting it. I can become very relaxed and mindful. When I carry this over to daily life from the cushion, I have had mixed results. A times, I will feel powerful in my interactions with others—very confident and controlled, calm and without emotion. Thinking more rationally about my interaction/conversations/actions. During this time after meditation, I will observe emotions that arise and immediately put them down by using diaphragmatic breathing or relaxing body, distracting mind with mindfulness, etc. It works for a while.

But then I begin to feel like I am an unfeeling, detached zombie of sorts. I start to crave emotion [like listening to heavy metal music to become excited/active, make jokes with people, and in general, just behave as I usually would]. I begin arguing with myself that I would rather take the highs with the lows, the exciting days with the depressed ones, than this neutral zombie like state. I even find myself after meditating for a few days and being fairly calm, to responding confrontationally to rude people that I work with, seemingly just to feel the rush of adrenalin/excitement again. And then at that point I will further argue to myself how I feel more alive and human again with this up/down rollercoaster ride instead of mindful zombie.

My wife is telling me that perhaps I shouldn’t meditate anymore. But a part of me thinks I should just push through it. Not sure if this is normal. Usually the more I try to live relaxed/calm after meditation, eventually the harder I will rebel against it. Note that this is not against formal cushion practice, but instead is against the act of carrying the useful tool over into daily life to apply it—rather than compartmentalizing relaxation/mindfulness.   

Maybe I am missing the point in applying samatha techniques to my daily life. Not sure why I eventually start to resist it so strongly. Or am I suppressing my emotions too much? Should I not strive for relaxation at all times?

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Re: Samatha: Strong emotions--resisting calmness/neutrality
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 07:39:44 PM »
hi,

Yes i think you are missing something if you are in zombie state.  :)

Quote
I start to crave emotion [like listening to heavy metal music to become excited/active, make jokes with people, and in general, just behave as I usually would]. I begin arguing with myself that I would rather take the highs with the lows, the exciting days with the depressed ones, than this neutral zombie like state.

This is happening because you are forcing yourself to like things you dont like and dislike the things you like. Whats wrong in listening to heavy metal now and then?
The teaching never says you have to like certain things only.

Quote
During this time after meditation, I will observe emotions that arise and immediately put them down
So you put down positive emotions as well? if so you are causing yourself more suffering. Its not about putting down, its about understanding the cause of their arising and getting freed from suffering.
The more you put them down, the chances are they will arise more. You have to make peace with them, stay with them, turn enemies to friends.

Quote
Usually the more I try to live relaxed/calm after meditation, eventually the harder I will rebel against it.
happens, mind wont surrender easily.

Quote
Should I not strive for relaxation at all times?
I dont think relaxation is something to strive for. More you strive more it runs away.

Quardamon

  • Member
    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Forcefully holding on to calmness
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 08:50:18 PM »
Hay Shayme,

I agree with siddharthgode, but maybe I use different words. So let me try.
You want to lead a life that is less chaotic.
You can put down emotions by diaphragmatic breathing etc. So there you use a certain technique.
But then you start to crave emotion.

Do I understand right, that this is somehow a discovery for you? I mean: you can bring yourself to a state of control and calm in daily life that is not at all satisfying for you. That insight is very worthwhile.
The state of control and calm can make you feel powerful in interactions - so it has it's place, as a tool. But not as the end point - not as the state that will give you a fulfilling life.

And even as a tool it works only for a few days. Then you start to respond confrontationally to rude people. You want to feel excitement, you want to feel alive. Is this an insight that you gathered, that putting down your emotions and being controlled makes you feel like you are not alive?
And that the need to be live is more important, more basic to you than the wish to be calm; more important and basic than your wish to be not depressed? That is beautiful. In my view, meditation is something you do to learn. It is not a trick - you learn.

Maybe at times, on the cushion, you can feel your aliveness even when you are calm, or even when you are depressed. For many years I did not take my practice into daily life. Not consciously. Now you shed light for me on why I did not do that. It would have been confusing for me.
If at times you can feel this aliveness somewhere in the background on the cushion, I am sure that later you can feel this aliveness also off the cushion when you respond confrontationally to rude people. It will make your reaction to them less sharp - still clear enough, maybe even more clear.

I heard that a Dutch zen teacher had this saying: "Stand where there is no place to stand".
I seems, that you have no place between the roller-coaster ride and the zombie. So that is a beautiful place to stand: between the roller-coaster ride and the zombie. (Again, I mean on the cushion.) That is probably not vipassana meditation. It sounds more like a riddle.

Have a good journey.

And welcome to the forum.

shayme

  • Guest
Re: Samatha: Strong emotions--resisting calmness/neutrality
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2013, 07:25:33 PM »
Thank you both for your insight.

Spent this week doing brief meditation on the cushion only and not attempting to carry it into my work or home environment. Felt much better.

Appreciate the insight of standing where there is no place to stand. Refraining from forcing myself to do either/or has relieved some burden and I am just riding the ups and downs. If I find myself too wound up I will do some Samatha to help bring myself down a bit. But certainly not trying to kill all emotions.

Thanks again.


 

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