Author Topic: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion  (Read 2719 times)


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I have noticed that of all the negative emotions that I deal with in meditation (anger, anxiety, fear, jealousy, etc.) the hardest "feeling"if it can even be described as such is the feeling of uncertainty.

I get this quite often when I meditate.

Basically it's the thought "Will this work? (the meditation) Is this going to help me? What if I'm wasting my time? What if there's a better way out there to feel better?"

Through this I notice my attachment to feeling good and grasping for a method/way that will make my good feelings last.

Still, this kind of uncertainty is killer. I can't seem to sit throught it because most of the time I believe what my mind says about meditation ( that it's not worth my time, it's not going to work).

Can anyone relate?

Dharmic Tui

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Re: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2013, 04:22:18 AM »
I can relate. At any point have you managed to let go of your procrastinating mind? As in, rather than searching for an answer, or doubting, or any of that, just stop and put that part of your mind aside?


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Re: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2013, 08:43:18 AM »
yes. you are not alone.


Re: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2013, 09:03:01 AM »
Initially you have to take other people's word that meditation is effective. After a while you will have your own proof.

Love yourself, love your breath and enjoy meditating for it's own sake. If you start pushing for results you will make it a chore.

Try other things too as there may well be better ways. Exercise and the outdoors help me enormously.



Re: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2013, 05:42:21 PM »
Hi Mike,

You may find this helpful.


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Re: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2013, 07:26:39 PM »
I can relate with you; for a long time I wondered if I was either wasting my time or even worse - heading in the wrong direction and then I would need to back track.  I didn't have an example of someone who had been successful at developing themselves in the way I desired to develop myself, so I was aiming in the dark.  But for some reason I wanted to continue doing it, even if I didn't know why; it felt like it was the "right" path in regards to what I wanted (which at the time I couldn't even pinpoint or explain).

What helped me was understanding why I did it and how it could advance me in certain areas.  When I didn't have a reason to meditate I could still meditate, but not with sustained effort.  I had to discover A: what I want, and B: why meditation, before I could trust I am making a good choice.

Here is a basic breakdown of how my thinking of meditation worked/is working for me:

1. After much searching, I discovered a phrase that explained everything I want: knowledge of suffering and the end of suffering.

2. I began to think of all the things I consider in my life to be suffering: anxiety, loss of self control due to emotion, fear, unstoppable desire, ect.  Basically I wanted to be ok where I was, but there are things that try to either pull me forward or push me back.

3. I thought about why things are the way they are and how they work.  I thought about how peoples personalities and perspectives can change with brain injuries, how people with certain life experiences can have certain tendencies, and how much the mind plays a role in our entire life experience. (James Austin's book "Zen and The Brain" is a good read if you find yourself interested in the neurological aspects of how our brains function and what that means to us)

4. When you notice how the mind functions, how thoughts will unconsciously just "arise", how our habits are engrained into us, how automatically our body will respond to things, you begin to see that you can act in a way that will affect your mind, change your habits, and with practice affect how you function as a living creature.

Say I wish to come to terms with my own mortality.  One day I will die.  How might I find peace and rightness with this?  I imagine, is there any sort of anger, aggression or emotion that can over come it?  Maybe momentarily, but emotion subsides and I'm back where I was.  Alright, how about logical understanding of exactly what happens in death?  OK so now I know that it is the cessation of perception and conscious function in the same manner as sleep, but I am still effected by the fear regardless of the fact I know exactly what it is.  So what can I do?  I must learn of it more intimately, must realize it is a part of me and be willing to embrace it as part of my human condition, otherwise I will run or chase endlessly.  This is why I meditate.  No function in the human body naturally wants to be near something painful, no matter how beneficial it is (think of the fear of going to the doctor).  With meditation, you have the ability to come closer to the things that frighten you that you cannot escape.  While every urge in your body wants you to run or fight, meditation is the only thing I have found that allows you to be with your fears and see exactly what they are to you.  When you calm the mind, and dis-identify with your habitual responses temporarily during meditation, you can look at exactly how things are, and come to terms with them on a realistic playing field.  One day I will die, all whom I love will die, my name will be forgotten, I don't know where I'm going or even where I came from, I feel a sense of conscious individuality despite my body being an arrangement of food and earth and mental impulses, and all my knowledge is little more than words and pictures arranged in certain orders.  While everything about this my mind naturally wants to label "bad", the fact is that it "is".  Meditation lets you touch on the foundation of what you see as reality, not what is good or bad but what is, and allows you to base your life and actions on that rather than an illusion that leads to confusion, misunderstanding, and in turn, suffering.

Only meditation has allowed me the patience and ability to absorb the reality of things into my mind; not only see them as ideas and realize they are true, but really touch them and take them into account in my day to day life.

Because of this ability I cultivate the ability to meditate because of how much it helps.  If my mind were to say "You are wasting your time," I remember "Have I found any other means of accepting my life without running?  No.  So far has it been working?  Yes.  So how can I be wasting my time when I have found a good thing that addresses exactly what I want?"

After that it's just hard work and sustained effort.  Meditations benefits will be no different than foods benefits when you are hungry.  You can always question and think "maybe this sandwich wont fill me up, what if I'm wasting my time?" but what else would you do?  Maybe meditation is a waste of time and there is a better way, but I have not found it and so far this works for me, so I continue to do it.

Good luck in finding your reasons to meditate.  I have heard it said that meditation should be without goals and I can agree with that, but I will say that I cannot meditate without direction and intention.  I'll leave off with this quote I heard from Tal Ben-Shahar's - The Pursuit of Perfect: "the... ideal is not a distant shore to be reached but a distant star that guides us and can never be reached."  You have to know what you want and the direction you want to go, otherwise you will walk in all the different directions at different times, and never actually change where you are right now.
In my experience, peace is not enjoyment or happiness, nor will peace keep you from getting hurt or depressed.  Peace is only the quality of not being disturbed.


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Re: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2013, 11:29:59 PM »
Thank you for your response.

In regards to having goals in meditation I remain neutral and confused.

In my mind, having a goal for myself will mean that there is the possibility of not achieving that goal (reducing my anxiety). Therefore my meditation practice now has an aim which will mean there is pressure of some kind to produce a certain outcome.

If I don't produce the outcome, I perpetuate suffering in me because my expectation is not met. This is true in my experience as sitting with the pure intention of reducing my social anxiety is not always effective because I don't always feel so calm and present when meditating.

I may have to make a goal which is a bit more all encompassing. Something like "Finding out that I am not my thoughts" or maybe "Changing my relationship to thinking".

I definitely see where you are coming from.


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Re: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2013, 01:00:49 AM »

Faith and confidence can come with a good teacher you trust, and with regular practice.   For me, I found I trusted the the experience and wisdom of the rinpoche who taught each week, who was ordained as a Tibetan monk. 

It's important to practice regularly, not just during times of distress, so that we become familiar with the underlying pure awareness, regardless of whatever temporary emotion we are feeling.

Also a familiarity with the practice develops over time, so you start turning towards it as a familiar refuge (instead of seeing it as unfamiliar).   And you might start to see the 'fruits' of your practice growing with time, which will further encourage you to continue and have confidence in your practice.

For example, notice your insight into how you are clinging to feeling good:

Through this I notice my attachment to feeling good and grasping for a method/way that will make my good feelings last.

Johann (Hanzze)

Re: The hardest feeling to simply "let be"- uncertainty/confusion
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2013, 06:05:18 AM »
Dear Mikeler,

Yesterday a came across this lektion on "The Joy of Effort". Short but very useful talk, that might match exactly some thoughts of yours.

Generally it is actually the training in virtue, which ensures you to feel better and that is the reason why meditation generally is not possible if such is not kept and trained.

Virtue: What is the Purpose?

Do good things and especially remember good deeds in the past, where you have acted generous and virtuous and use them as inspiration in every present moment. That lifts you up and when mind realizes that it actually has benefits you are easy inspired to progress in this wheel of joy.

A very good read in this regard to understand the wheel of dhamma, is also:

The Healing Power of the Precepts, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997; 4pp./11KB)
    Many people today have come to the Buddha's teachings in search of emotional and spiritual healing. In this short essay the author reminds us that the single most effective tool for healing a wounded heart may be found in the cultivation of sila, or virtuous conduct.

Observing Silas and being obliging is actually the very first level of meditation and till the end, one you can do all day and night.


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