Author Topic: A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice  (Read 3219 times)

J0rrit

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A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice
« on: August 01, 2013, 09:31:33 AM »
Hello there,

I have a couple of questions regarding my mediation practice. I hope someone can help me with these:

1. I try to meditate (Vipassana) for 45 minutes each day, but after +- 30 minutes my upper leg gets really sleepy and very painful. I try to stay in the same position as long as I can, but when the pain gets too much I have to change position. I can never meditate for 45 minutes without changing my position, if I do, the last ten minutes will be about being distracted by the pain. I meditate in the half lotus. Can someone help me with that?

2. I noticed that I have become a little obsessed with meditating. That is if I can't meditate in the morning (because I have to get up really early, and if I would be meditating I wouldn't have enough sleep) I don't feel well the whole day till I get to meditate. The thought that I didn't meditate yet will be the whole day in my mind and that gives some sort of stress. But when I have to get up really early I would like to just meditate in the evening, but than I will be obsessed with the thought that I didn't meditate yet....

And most of the day I'm obsessed with being mindful and getting out of my thoughts and dissociating from my thoughts etc etc, but I have the feeling that this obsession makes things worse because I'm so focussed on my thoughts whole day long (I have some problems with obsessive thoughts and anxiety). So I'm being obsessed with trying to 'fix' my obsessive thoughts and dissociating from them through the day. Instead of focussing on something I'm doing at that moment (like studying), my focus is a lot on my thoughts most of the time and to don't get caught in them. I have the feeling that when I just focus on what I'm doing and not being so obsessed with being mindful and 'progressing' with 'fixing' my obsessive thoughts, they won't be that a big deal anymore.

Does someone recognize this or maybe have some good advice ?

3. One of my biggest distractions is the feeling of my heart beating. It's not a high frequency but I feel it contract really hard and I can feel this very well. This feeling is always there (I'm in a stressfull period right now) and it screams for my attention during my meditation practice. I try to fix my attention on it, I can do this for as long as I like but it keeps returning and getting my attention. If I try to focus really hard on my breathing it will disappeare from my attention, but than I will use a forced attention and this is not mindfull, right? Does someone have some advice about this?

Thanks in advance for your help! ,

Greets

Matthew

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Re: A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2013, 10:13:05 AM »
Hi JOrrit,

Interesting questions. May I ask you to clarify what you mean when you say your practice is vipassana? Where or how did you learn to meditate, or what form does your practice take?

This will help in responding.

Warmly,

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

J0rrit

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Re: A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2013, 10:22:34 AM »
Hello Matthew,

Thanks for your quick reply! I learned Vipassana from a meditation teacher in the teachings of Mahasi Sayadaw. In my practice I recently left the noting of all mental phenomia, because I discovered the noting was just working in a negative way (there is also an old topic on this forum about noting, and that it is really helpful at the beginning, but that it gets in the way somewhat later). Sometimes I still use the noting, but when I don't need it I don't use it anymore, and I'm practicing silent-present-awareness than. I try to focus on whatever comes up next, but the last few days I'm practicing more anapanasati I guess. That's something I'm aware off now,

I hope this will do,

greets

redalert

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Re: A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2013, 10:30:57 PM »
1. I try to meditate (Vipassana) for 45 minutes each day, but after +- 30 minutes my upper leg gets really sleepy and very painful. I try to stay in the same position as long as I can, but when the pain gets too much I have to change position. I can never meditate for 45 minutes without changing my position, if I do, the last ten minutes will be about being distracted by the pain. I meditate in the half lotus. Can someone help me with that?

I can relate to where you are with your sitting practice.

1. Maybe you can try dropping the leg and sitting Burmese style.

2.  Strong determination: Make a resolution to yourself at the beginning of a sit that you will sit for the entire 45 min period. Pain or not you will not move from the cushion. When the unpleasantness begins, investigate it, look at it, note the feelings. See if you can experience its changing nature, one moment cold feeling in the knee, the next is a stretching feeling in the ankle, whatever the feeling see that it is changing. When you have reached your limit see #3

3. Change position, but do it mindfully. Very slowly change posture but do so with attention remaining on the object. If we move to quickly we lose mindfulness.
Notice the solidity of the pain breaking up, if you need to repeat this process 5 times to finish your 45 min. sit, then next time try to do it in 4 position changes. If sitting becomes absolutely unbearable then stand, but again do this slowly and mindfully.

4. Be kind to yourself, you need to push your limits but also be mindful that you are not torturing yourself. Torturing yourself is not the middle way, neither is avoiding try to find the balance that lies between these extremes.
Note: It is normal to cross this middle ground many, many, many, many, times.


2. I noticed that I have become a little obsessed with meditating. That is if I can't meditate in the morning (because I have to get up really early, and if I would be meditating I wouldn't have enough sleep) I don't feel well the whole day till I get to meditate. The thought that I didn't meditate yet will be the whole day in my mind and that gives some sort of stress. But when I have to get up really early I would like to just meditate in the evening, but than I will be obsessed with the thought that I didn't meditate yet....

In my tradition remaining with the anicca factor of bodily sensations is the practice, I have found that without a steady daily practice I lose the ability to remain with these sensations. This is my own gauge and incentive for daily practice as my reactivity to sense phenomenon increases without this ability(I react blindly).

To maintain this I practice a minimum 2hrs daily, and often I must make a sacrifice of one thing or another to find this time, usually it is sleep. I have been doing this for over three years now and if I need to miss or cut a session short I just try to make it up later. I think a little obsession is needed in the beginning, when developing a practice, but the past is the past and there is no point in missing this present moment to practice because were beating ourselves up for what we didn't do in the past. I do find it helpful to start and finish the day with a meditation, so maybe on those days when you are rushed(early morning) you spend 5 min in bed doing some mindfulness training.
And most of the day I'm obsessed with being mindful and getting out of my thoughts and dissociating from my thoughts etc etc, but I have the feeling that this obsession makes things worse because I'm so focussed on my thoughts whole day long (I have some problems with obsessive thoughts and anxiety). So I'm being obsessed with trying to 'fix' my obsessive thoughts and dissociating from them through the day. Instead of focussing on something I'm doing at that moment (like studying), my focus is a lot on my thoughts most of the time and to don't get caught in them. I have the feeling that when I just focus on what I'm doing and not being so obsessed with being mindful and 'progressing' with 'fixing' my obsessive thoughts, they won't be that a big deal anymore.

I think if you can catch yourself worrying like this during the day it would be a good step. The moment you catch yourself worrying, start noting the thoughts as opposed to trying to get out of them. Also this is where developing a daily regimented practice is helpful. This obsession of the mind to constantly be aware grows and it becomes easier to catch and note anxious thoughts, their grip will get less sticky and they will be easier to let go of.

3. One of my biggest distractions is the feeling of my heart beating. It's not a high frequency but I feel it contract really hard and I can feel this very well. This feeling is always there (I'm in a stressfull period right now) and it screams for my attention during my meditation practice. I try to fix my attention on it, I can do this for as long as I like but it keeps returning and getting my attention. If I try to focus really hard on my breathing it will disappeare from my attention, but than I will use a forced attention and this is not mindfull, right? Does someone have some advice about this?

I think if you tried to remain focussed on the heartbeat it would not be that easy, mind would wander away. You are trying to remain on the breath and the mind is simply wandering away and because the heartbeat is a gross sensation the mind is becoming fixed on this. This is the old habit pattern of the mind, it wanders away. With continuous practice it will become easier to keep the mind focussed on the subtle breath(right effort), again this is another reason for daily practice.

Hope this helps,
Red

floyd

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Re: A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2013, 07:41:55 PM »
Hi JOrrit, I've a couple more suggestions to add into the mix.

Pain: I sit cross legged and sometimes get disturbed by pain. To alleviate it I sit on a large bean bag. After some initial adjustment/settling-in each sitting, it retains its/my shape until I'm finished with uniform and stable support. Also, mood affects posture and tensions in your muscles and the more stressed you are, the more out of alignment your joints will be and the more pain you will experience. Relaxation and posture are key.

Heart beating: I sometimes experience this too and have found it is most pronounced when I sit too soon after eating, especially after a big meal of stimulating or hard to digest foods such as coffee and glutenous bread. This pronounced heart beat is, I suspect, related to the amount of blood diverted to your stomach for digestion (is this possible?)

Cheers

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2013, 03:33:44 PM »
Hello again JOrrit,

My suggestions related to your questions:

1. Find a posture that works for you. In the FAQ there are links to old posture related threads. Read them for suggestions. Possibly the simplest way to solve the issue is to put a cushion under your backside to lift your pelvis a bit. The postural improvement may also reduce the sensation of your heart beating.

2. The Mahasi based styles are often a bit pressured, especially if you have a pre-existing obsessive thought issue. Meditation follows a middle way, not too tight, not too loose, not too intensely focused, but focused in a relaxed and awake manner.

It seems the relaxed/calming aspect is out of balance in your practice leading to this:

... most of the day I'm obsessed with being mindful and getting out of my thoughts and dissociating from my thoughts etc etc, but I have the feeling that this obsession makes things worse because I'm so focussed on my thoughts whole day long (I have some problems with obsessive thoughts and anxiety). So I'm being obsessed with trying to 'fix' my obsessive thoughts and dissociating from them through the day. Instead of focussing on something I'm doing at that moment (like studying), my focus is a lot on my thoughts most of the time and to don't get caught in them. I have the feeling that when I just focus on what I'm doing and not being so obsessed with being mindful and 'progressing' with 'fixing' my obsessive thoughts, they won't be that a big deal anymore.

You show some good insight into the problem you are facing. I don't think you need to work harder, as I recently said to another member, I think you need to work smarter . In your case that may simply mean learning to calm and relax during meditation and off the cushion to achieve the right balance/find the 'middle way'.

3.

One of my biggest distractions is the feeling of my heart beating. It's not a high frequency but I feel it contract really hard and I can feel this very well.
.....

Stress ... stress ... brings me back to the same point: relaxation, calming, finding the middle way.

I try to fix my attention on it, I can do this If I try to focus really hard on my breathing it will disappeare from my attention, but than I will use a forced attention and this is not mindfull, right? ...

No that is not mindful, it is a self induced mild form of hypnosis.

I have no wish to scare you and suspect this problem does come down to the business of finding that right space, where you are working with yourself in an awake but calmed manner, however, if the problem with the heart persists it may be worth seeing your doc just to be sure there is not some medical issue.

Hope that helps. You have to find the answers for yourself but you now have some differing viewpoints to explore and see if there is something here that agrees with your reason and experience.

Kindly,

Matthew
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 03:37:30 PM by Matthew »
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J0rrit

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Re: A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2013, 10:32:20 PM »
Thank you for all your good answers!

@ Matthew: How can I relax more during the meditation ?

I try to explain at what kind of a point I am now in my practice. Since a short while I stopped the noting because of several reasons. I noticed that this intervened with my practice and that it became a burden instead of a helpfull tool. Since that moment I also stopped the 'inner speech'. I did this for a short period. This worked amazing for me; I could really be objectively and equanimus of everything that came up, because I just quited the inner commentary (I read this in the book 'Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond: A meditator's Handbook from Ajahn Brahm).

After this short period I became aware of the fact that this is maybe not the right way; the right way would be to let everything just be as it is. So I changed my practice to that. I'm doing that for approximately a week now. I immediately experienced the differences. For the first in my meditation-practice I experienced the feeling that I forced nothing and that I really let everything be as it is. I was really equanimous the first couple of days. But since I really forced nothing and just let it all go and let it all be for 100% I became aware of how much inner commentary there is in my mind, it's insane. I can see both my thoughts and my inner speech as mental phenomia more and more, but it's becoming so much that it's hard to focus on something else anymore. For example, during my meditation I'm focussing now mostly on my thoughts and inner speech instead on on my breath. And when I try to focus on my breath I'm pulled back again against the stream of thoughts and inner speech (mostly about the thoughts). At the beginning I thought this should be the right way, because now I'm forcing nothing and the inner speech can fade away slowly in time. But at the moment I'm beginning to have doubts because I have the feeling I really made a step back in the meditation and all day long my mind is full of thoughts wich pull my attention (most of the time I can see them objectively and not get carried away in them, but they still grip some of my attention). When I just stopped the inner speech my self (not the thoughts that rise spontaniously) I felt so much more mindfull and with a clear and calm mind throughout the day (and throughout the meditation), that I seriously begin to think that that should be the right way...

Isn't quiting your inner speech the same as being objectively? I ask this because I think there are two sort of thoughts: thoughts that arise spontaniously and thoughts that you create yourself (inner speech). So quiting/stopping the inner speech would not be the same as trying to reach a thoughtless state. I mentioned it felt forced to quit the inner speech. But this is only for the beginning, after the meditation the mind 'grasps' on to this no-inner-speech state by itself and it's becoming natural.

And one last thing; I also think that something that has to do with this is that I not force my concentration anymore at the feelings in the abdomen of the breathing. But what is this 'middle way' ? My teacher told me that you have to focus on the abdomen for the fully 100%. And I experienced that this worked and I could be mindfull at the same time. Since the previous posts I'm getting the idea that this is too forced. Can maybe give some advice on this ?

I hope someone can help me with this!

Thanks in advance

« Last Edit: August 11, 2013, 10:44:45 PM by J0rrit »

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: A couple of questions regarding my meditation practice
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2013, 07:43:01 AM »
Thank you for all your good answers!

@ Matthew: How can I relax more during the meditation ?

.....

and one last thing; I also think that something that has to do with this is that I not force my concentration anymore at the feelings in the abdomen of the breathing. But what is this 'middle way' ? My teacher told me that you have to focus on the abdomen for the fully 100%. And I experienced that this worked and I could be mindfull at the same time. Since the previous posts I'm getting the idea that this is too forced. Can maybe give some advice on this ?


There is an element of force or avoiding other body sensations in concentrating on noses, toesies, bellies or whatever when mindfulness of breathing is your anchor to the practice.

This is also related to the question you posed directly about relaxation. The Buddha's word is clear on the matter:

Quote

Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' He trains himself, I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.' Just as a skilled turner or his apprentice, when making a long turn, discerns, 'I am making a long turn,' or when making a short turn discerns, 'I am making a short turn'; in the same way the monk, when breathing in long, discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long' ... He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

Sensitive to the entire body, calming bodily fabrication.

Calming and relaxing can be said to be somewhat synonymous. I'm hesitating more and more about the word relaxation because it can confuse understanding of right effort.
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