Author Topic: mindfulness questions  (Read 2146 times)

vedanta

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mindfulness questions
« on: June 12, 2014, 06:56:10 PM »
Have some questions. Would appreciate if you could answer or give some helpful input to any or all of my questions. Just use question number to indicate which one you are replying to.

For background on myself before I start with my questions, I have been meditating for about 10 months now. Mostly alternate between simply focusing on breath or on sensations relating to thoughts and feelings, depending on my mood. Dont have a teacher, but have enrolled for Goenka course for september. Till then I am on my own. So far, I am just following whatever I gathered from books and youtube videos, major influence being 3 steps to awakening by Larry Rosenberg (superb book).

My main problem is mindfulness. Have been struggling with it for all this time.

1) If I try to focus on my breath during daily life to maintain mindfulness, I feel like I am not really focusing on my tasks and surroundings. How do I do this?

 2) I stumbled on something a few months ago on my own while trying to be mindful. I had an experience as if there was a video camera working between my eyes and I was watching everything through it including my own body within view. Not sure how to explain this. It felt as if my own body was doing things on its own, move around, work... while I just watched it move through this camera area. Felt very weird and it scared me. This experience lasted for almost 2 days and then faded away.

After this I have been able to start my 'video camera' voluntarily, whenever I remember to be mindful. But I do not know whether this is the right way to go.

And if I do this method, I can focus on breath on and off, that is I can flick my focus between the camera and my breath quickly and repeatedly as long as I can be mindful but then my focus is just the 'physical me' and not my surroundings or my feelings.

3) Then there are thoughts. Problem is I am either in my thoughts or being mindful. I cannot 'WATCH' my thoughts like videos or books say. When I remember to be mindful, I can try to look at the last thought I had and analyse it in terms of feeling and sensations but then what I am doing is analyzing my last few thoughts and not being mindful in that current moment. I am lost in analysis. How do I watch my thoughts in the current moment?

4) If I follow number 3 method above, I find that the most powerful sensations I feel are in my chest and upper abdomen area. Sensations are more like knots, pressure, pain, burning. If i focus on these sensations again i am not focusing on my actions or my breath or my surroundings, my focus is just my sensations.

5) Dont know which of the above to follow. I find I can just follow one method. I can maybe flick focus between 2 things but can't do all.

6) Next the sensations in my chest and/or abdomen area. From what I understand I am supposed to simply watch my sensations and since they are impermanent they should fade away. But these sensations dont fade away. They stay as long as I am aware of them.
 In fact, any pressure/pain in this area intensifies with more thoughts especially painful, angry, guilty, desire thoughts and finally turns into a burning sensation which may or may not spread to my entire chest,abdomen, throat and shoulders.

Interestingly, I feel these sensations only when I focus on them. If I am lost in thoughts or work, no problem. Or if I am following methods 1 and 2, no problem either. Moment I change focus to my sensations I become aware of them. The more I am mindful of these sensations, the more they intensify. So much so that if I lose focus again and then come back after a few minutes, I still feel the burning from the earlier intensified feeling, although less now. But if I stay at it, it intensifies.

What is this? FYI, I do not have any health or gastric problems. So this is not acidity. But I wonder if I shall cause acidity by focusing on this.

7) These sensations have been so powerful, I have also been mindful of them in meditation. If my meditation is going fairly ok that day (meaning I am not too lost in thoughts) this pressure/pain/burning in chest-abdomen area is so great that there is no point focusing on anything else like tingling/itching....What should I be doing? I find I am mostly doing number 3 (looking at the thoughts I just had) and then observing the burning until I get lost in thoughts again. If I am able to be mindful for some time the burning simply intensifies. Has anyone had this experience?

8 ) Can anyone suggest a book/video on vipassana style mindfulness?

9) I think a read a post, probably written by Matthew mentioning that he focuses on staying calm and observes thoughts as they arise simultaneously? Can anyone explain this process in detail? Is there a book on this?

Quardamon

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    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: mindfulness questions
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2014, 10:50:32 AM »
5)     . . .    I find I can just follow one method. I can maybe flick focus between 2 things but can't do all.
That is a logical conclusion, supported by your experience, and it is a clear statement. Well done. :)

6) Next the sensations in my chest and/or abdomen area. From what I understand I am supposed to simply watch my sensations and since they are impermanent they should fade away. But these sensations don't fade away. They stay as long as I am aware of them.
Again, you are clear and honest about what you experience.  :)

But    . . .    Then you do tell about their impermanence:
You tell, that the pressure/pain in this area intensifies with more thoughts. Also, you have found that you feel these sensations only when you focus on them. And you tell that the thoughts turn into a burning sensation.
So they are not hewn in stone, they change.

So, what happens is not really that they 'fade away'. They do not vanish into thin air - that is not what you experienced. Also, it is not true that they simply stay as they are.
It is common to find that in meditation: "Hey, my thoughts / feelings do not do what I want them to do".

Also you tell of a later step in the training of the mind:
After finding that you cannot simply will the thoughts and feelings away, you find that you can have a subtle influence:
The more I am mindful of these sensations, the more they intensify. So much so that if I lose focus again and then come back after a few minutes, I still feel the burning from the earlier intensified feeling, although less now. But if I stay at it, it intensifies.

I hope that I am not confusing you. I see three steps:
A. You find in you practice that it does not work the way you thought it would work.
B. You do find out about impermanence and how thoughts and feelings go in a kind of process of their own
C. You find that after all, you can take some influence, through focus.

Well then, let us now skip to this:

In fact, any pressure/pain in this area intensifies with more thoughts especially painful, angry, guilty, desire thoughts and finally turns into a burning sensation which may or may not spread to my entire chest,abdomen, throat and shoulders.
To me this sounds as a cleansing. Do I guess well, that once you can spread the burning sensation, you can let go of the angry, guilty thoughts? I suppose that a process is going on that so to speak burns away the angry, guilty and desire thoughts. Could that be so?

The more I am mindful of these sensations, the more they intensify. So much so that if I lose focus again and then come back after a few minutes, I still feel the burning from the earlier intensified feeling, although less now.
Also this indicates to me, that a process is going on that was started up by the fact that you meditated for 10 months. A process that goes on also when you do not focus on it - and then it goes on in a milder way.

What should I be doing?    . . .     Has anyone had this experience?
When I had this during a retreat, my teacher told me to trust the process, and also not to focus on it or on thoughts that would intensify the process.

And that is where this advice of Matthew comes in again:
relax, trust, calm down.

Oh, I forgot: Welcome to the forum.
   (Sometimes I forget how simple life is.  :)  )

Re: mindfulness questions
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2014, 06:10:25 PM »
Quote
1) If I try to focus on my breath during daily life to maintain mindfulness, I feel like I am not really focusing on my tasks and surroundings. How do I do this?
It is because experiencing breath is pretty new to the mind... it is still finding new things in it and also learning from it. Once you get accustomed with breath mind automatically wants to keep breath then your problem will be solved.
Tip: dont over force the mind to stay with breath. Make it love the breath.

Quote
2) I stumbled on something a few months ago on my own while trying to be mindful. I had an experience as if there was a video camera working between my eyes and I was watching everything through it including my own body within view.
Never had this experience so i wouldnt be of any help here.

Quote
Then there are thoughts. Problem is I am either in my thoughts or being mindful. I cannot 'WATCH' my thoughts like videos or books say.
Yes.  You are doing right. Books say to watch thoughts arise and fall. Not to let thought trails go on like videos. i.e., There is a difference between a thought and a thought trail. Thought trail is a thought that has already grabbed once's attention and desires. Thought is just a pure image or a sound which is not identified by the self yet.

 
Quote
If I follow number 3 method above, I find that the most powerful sensations I feel are in my chest and upper abdomen area. Sensations are more like knots, pressure, pain, burning. If i focus on these sensations again i am not focusing on my actions or my breath or my surroundings, my focus is just my sensations.
Again the reply for your first question works here. Your attention gets grabbed by sensation if you react to it. If mind doesnt react to it and remain equanimus then you can focus on both outside and inside world and see their interconnection. At first you have to keep reminding the mind to be equanimus to them every second or two. Later it will become habitual.

Quote
Next the sensations in my chest and/or abdomen area. From what I understand I am supposed to simply watch my sensations and since they are impermanent they should fade away. But these sensations dont fade away.
Study them better.

Quote
this pressure/pain/burning in chest-abdomen area is so great that there is no point focusing on anything else like tingling/itching
Its ok if your mind is over powered by strong sensations. For now work on these gross sensations and let mind get used to them then you can work on sutler sensations along side these gross ones.

vedanta

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Re: mindfulness questions
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 10:18:39 AM »
Quardamom and siddharthgode,
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. It has made many points clearer to me. I appreciate your feedbacks.

Just A Simple Guy

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Re: mindfulness questions
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2014, 09:48:33 PM »
Quote
9) I think a read a post, probably written by Matthew mentioning that he focuses on staying calm and observes thoughts as they arise simultaneously? Can anyone explain this process in detail? Is there a book on this?

From my perspective and experience which is quite limited, I tend to approach it more as relaxed attending. Stay relaxed and attend the breath. Follow it's sensations (not the actual breath) in and out. If a distraction arises, it arises. When I become aware I gently return to relaxed attending. No recriminations. No judgments.

After 8 or so months what I find is distractions arise much less frequently, and when they do I am aware of them much earlier in the process. I perceive this as becoming more familiar with awareness, which in turn requires less and less effort in my practice and also being mindful in daily life.
“Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.” ~ Bruce Lee

Quardamon

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    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: mindfulness questions
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2014, 05:18:31 PM »
I suppose it would help you to read this
http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2008/03/23/vitakka-vicara-what-do-they-mean/

It speaks about two ways to concentrate:

Vittaka (vitakka):
Placing your attention, or directing your attention at whatever you are going to pay attention to.
Some people are very good at this; mind wonders off and they come back.

Viccara (vichara) is different: It is sustaining the attention there. It is hanging in there.

Compare a bird taking off and stayin in a glide once in the air.
It is a gentle work. Not only keep the attention on the breath, but also keep that quiet mind, that relaxed mind. It is some work. But you will find, it is in fact less exhausting than letting the mind spin out, letting the mind chatter.
At some point it becomes effortless.
      (My notes from a talk by Gil Fronsdal.)


vedanta

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Re: mindfulness questions
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2014, 10:32:40 AM »
Thank you everyone. Your responses have definitely helped solve my doubts.

 

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