Author Topic: Beginner Meditation Difficulties  (Read 2535 times)

Centurion

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • None yet
Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« on: September 01, 2013, 03:52:21 PM »
Hello all, I am using a mindfulness book to help me with my generalized and social anxiety disorders. I am working on a meditation that simply involves focusing on the breath (without controlling it), but I find it difficult to keep my attention on the breath (specifically I am focusing on my diaphragm rising and falling). I am constantly thinking about my anxiety and whether or not it is getting better. Instead of clearing my mind of everything besides my breathing, my mind is trying to focus on my breathing but is constantly saying: "Is the anxiety gone yet? Is it gone yet? Why isn't it gone yet? What am I doing wrong?" There's the paradox in meditation, right? The paradox is that in order to get rid of the anxiety, I have to not try to get rid of it...

Dharmic Tui

  • Member
  • Something
    • Some Theravada, some secular
Re: Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2013, 07:24:42 PM »
What you are trying to cultivate with meditation is bare attention. This is a state of bring able to be with something without measuring it or justifying it with your thoughts. Time is needed to develop this, try noting your anxiety when it arises and don't be upset it is there, then come back to the breath when conditions permit. Know the anxiety and surrounding thoughts aren't really you, they're just a record your mind plays on its own volition.

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: Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2013, 08:59:06 PM »
To develop a little on DT's post, when it's said to note the anxiety initially you could just say the word 'anxiety' or 'thinking' silently to yourself, pause for a moment to gather your awareneness/attention and then move your attention back to the feelings in the body of breathing.

It is important to stick with body feeling. In these initial stages the first fruits of meditation that you are cultivating are calm and concentration. One key point is to try and avoid the kind of thought-train you describe getting caught in Centurion:

"Is the anxiety gone yet? Is it gone yet? Why isn't it gone yet? What am I doing wrong?"

Of course this will happen, and a lot at first, yet you will learn to spot the first thought arising, note it, pause and gather awareness then return to body sensation only by repeatedly failing/succeeding in this. It's like riding a bike: you only learn how to stay on it by falling off :)

Quote
There's the paradox in meditation, right? The paradox is that in order to get rid of the anxiety, I have to not try to get rid of it...

Exactly and this is what repeatedly returning attention/awareness to the breathing sensations in the body achieves. You're not trying to get rid of anxiety but embody your moment to moment awareness in the body as you breathe. Lessening anxiety will be a natural and happy consequence of embodying yourself this way.

Warmly,

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

redalert

  • Guest
Re: Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2013, 11:03:51 PM »
Hello all, I am using a mindfulness book to help me with my generalized and social anxiety disorders. I am working on a meditation that simply involves focusing on the breath (without controlling it), but I find it difficult to keep my attention on the breath (specifically I am focusing on my diaphragm rising and falling). I am constantly thinking about my anxiety and whether or not it is getting better. Instead of clearing my mind of everything besides my breathing, my mind is trying to focus on my breathing but is constantly saying: "Is the anxiety gone yet? Is it gone yet? Why isn't it gone yet? What am I doing wrong?" There's the paradox in meditation, right? The paradox is that in order to get rid of the anxiety, I have to not try to get rid of it...

First step is morality, without a strong moral foundation you cannot develop right concentration. Try observing 5 precepts if you can, this will reduce anxiety and begin to calm the mind.

Then whichever technique you choose to develop concentration, stick with it, and meditate with as much continuity as possible.

Much success,
Red

joiedelivre

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Vipassana
Re: Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2013, 01:45:30 AM »
I find concentrating on the sensation of the breath coming in a small point at the entrance of the nostril and out again the most focused.  However, when strong anxiety hits a certain part of the meditation time (and sometimes a large chunk) is focused on concentrating and being mindful of the sensations of the anxiety and where it is arising in the body.  Recently the usual knot felt more like a whirling milky way of sensations and the loosening gave a fleeting sense of welcome impermanence.  Sometimes concentrating on the touch of my fingers against the fabric of my trousers or rug helps to ground in the here and now.  The more acknowledged and felt the sensations the more aware of their passing away, that they are just physiological sensations largely developed as conditioned responses: they aren't you and don't define 'you'....

Centurion

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • None yet
Re: Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2013, 02:45:21 AM »
Does anyone have any advice on how I can meditate without getting rid of anxiety being the main objective? My book tells me to be "nonstriving" and get rid of any agenda before I start meditating. The only reason I am meditating is to manage my anxiety, however...

Mpgkona

  • Member
    • Some of this, some of that.
    • Here
Re: Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2013, 04:22:15 AM »
Centurion:  Your last sentence is concerning, from a Vipassana perspective. Vipassana is about observing things as they are, not how you would like them to be. Dont crave and dont have aversion towards things. This is an important goal of Vipassana. You have an aversion towards your anxiety and you are only meditating to "manage it. " Meditating to rid yourself of a mental ailment is a dead end path. Free yourself from this aversion first. Meet your anxiety head on, observe it, feel it, talk to it, and after time, when using a meditation technique correctly, the anxiety will subside. I know because I too suffer from serious anxiety attacks which has evolved into part-time agoraphobia). All of this is easier said than done of course. Nevertheless, try to let go of this goal and in time your anxiety will begin to dissolve away. Meditate for the sake of meditating. Meditation has the potential to change you, but it cannot be forced.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 05:52:24 AM by Mpgkona »
When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

Mpgkona

  • Member
    • Some of this, some of that.
    • Here
Re: Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2013, 05:51:53 AM »
Centurion:  Your last sentence is concerning, from a Vipassana perspective. Vipassana is about observing things as they are, not how you would like them to be. Not craving things and not having aversions towards things is one of the hallmarks of Vipassana meditation. Developing equanimity to all phenomena is the elixir for the poisons of craving (which I personally call greed) and aversion. You have an aversion towards your anxiety and you are only meditating to "manage it. " Meditating to rid yourself of a mental ailment is a dead end path. Free yourself from this aversion first, and free yourself from this craving to get rid of something. Meet your anxiety head on, observe it, feel it, talk to it, and after time, when using a meditation technique correctly, the anxiety will subside. I know because I too suffer from serious anxiety attacks (which has evolved into part-time agoraphobia). All of this is easier said than done of course. Nevertheless, try to let go of this goal and in time your anxiety will begin to dissolve away. Meditate for the sake of meditating. Meditation has the potential to change you, but it cannot be forced.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 05:58:10 AM by Mpgkona »
When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

joiedelivre

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Vipassana
Re: Beginner Meditation Difficulties
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2013, 09:29:52 AM »
I'd urge hearing what Mpgkona and I are writing: craving NOT to be in the moment OR aversion of this present moment of anxiety sensations is what is causing suffering. It will pass.  Meditation is learning to observe those sensations, realise they aren't satisfactory, aren't what defines 'you' but are the result of changing physiology and other chemistries, and that the sensations will pass even if it takes awhile.  It's the striving to avoid that is causing pain.  That striving comes from conditioning (we learn to avoid painful feelings from others OR are taught to not 'feel').  Feelings and sensations will present themselves until they are heard.  Fight or flight is a defense mechanism that has gone into overcharge because of conditioning.  Sometimes its almost an addiction: a knee jerk response to ward off feared-for-further 'unpleasant' feelings. Sometimes the unconcisous even uses anxiety as a talisman 'thinking' worry will protect.  But meditating will ground you in the present.  If you allow the sensations of the anxiety to just 'be', if you sit and observe no matter how scary or uncomfortable the sensations seem, gradually they begin to lose their power.  Ajahn Brahm has an interesting dhamma talk on the subject:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fixvb3s25Uk .  There is no 'managing' of anxiety.  All you can do is welcome it like a barking dog, watch it with compassion, let the suppressed fears and angers and vulnerabilities beneath the anxieties arise and pass away.  They are crying to be heard, to be observed.

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
14 Replies
4834 Views
Last post November 01, 2007, 08:25:23 AM
by eternalbeginner
29 Replies
7188 Views
Last post October 20, 2009, 05:51:18 AM
by truthforhappiness
13 Replies
6935 Views
Last post June 06, 2010, 12:39:58 PM
by Matthew
16 Replies
5329 Views
Last post October 28, 2010, 09:20:52 AM
by Morning Dew
16 Replies
5539 Views
Last post February 21, 2015, 08:08:26 AM
by Stefan
7 Replies
1320 Views
Last post September 12, 2016, 10:38:54 AM
by Nicky
7 Replies
764 Views
Last post January 06, 2018, 12:55:06 PM
by garyblackhouse