Author Topic: Where to from here  (Read 1146 times)

purity

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Where to from here
« on: January 05, 2016, 10:39:53 PM »
Hello everyone  :)      Im new to the forums.  I came across them after doing some searches online as I have been feeling a little confused and overwhelmed about the practice, the dhamma etc.
I have been practicing meditation for some years now. Ive lost count, maybe over 4 - 5 years. 

The first couple years I didn't read much about Buddhism. I was more experimenting. But over the last couple of years I have read a lot more and my practice has evolved and is now an insight practice as taught by teachers such as Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield et al.   

I have attended a retreat recently which was an eye opening experience. I felt a lot of intense emotions during that time and felt alive for the first time in my entire life. I also had some strange experiences which the retreat leader called 'samadhi'.  I have never heard of this before or had any clue that it would occur so when it did I felt quite panicky but since the retreat it has happened several times and although I have learnt not to expect it, I enjoy it when it happens.

I am having difficulty with the insight side of things.  I have read a lot about insight and about watching the arising and disbanding and it all sounds very profound however I have yet to notice anything that seems remotely as profound as what others write about.    Im not sure how watching an itch or thought arise and pass is ever going to seem like a profound insight.  I keep practicing because I think that perhaps things will change and the penny will drop one day but sometimes I begin to lose hope.  I know its all about letting go of expectations and just being present however, all the teachings books and talks do tend to lead one in a particular direction. i.e. toward cessation of suffering, awakening, enlightenment.  Its very hard not to strive for those things when its all Buddhist teachers ever seem to talk about.

My practice involves sitting and focusing my attention on the breath.  I catch my mind wandering, I notice it and I gently bring my focus back to the breath.   I usually note 'thinking'.  If I feel a sensation I usually note "itching" for example.  I will also notice if there is a desire to relieve an itch etc and I try to just watch it without reacting.   Thats pretty much my morning practice in a nutshell. It hasn't changed much over the years. Just more thoughts and more itches and twitches.
The meditation guide on this website says "it can take from some hours of practice to some months before having the experience of a single thought with no "follow through" thinking." 
Why after many years am I still getting lost in the follow through? 

I also try to do body scans the way Jon Kabbat Zin teaches. This method of focusing on and breathing into body parts such as the toes then the foot then the leg etc works better for me however I barely feel anything at all.  Sometimes I may feel an itch or a twitch in a different part than I am focusing on such as in my hand when i am focusing on my foot.   Sometimes I think that I might feel some mild vibration or tingling but Im not sure if I am imagining it. 
I must say though that when I was on retreat one night I suddenly felt an absolutely overwhelming amount of sensations. There was stabbing, tingling, itching, twitching etc .  Some were very unpleasant.    If I felt those things all the time I would honestly go insane.  I nearly scratched off half my face because it felt like bugs under my skin!!   But since coming home I am back to general numbness of the body again.

I have tried to do the scanning technique with a thin band that moves up and down the body but for some reason I can't seem to do it. Im not sure if Im supposed to be visualising the band or just sensing the area where it is but I can't seem to do either. I get a bit confused and dont know where its up to and I cannot seem to stay focused on a small area like that. 

In the afternoons and sometimes in the morning I do some metta practice.  I have been doing this for a while and although everything I have read and been told says that at first its hard and its normal for it to feel inauthentic using the phrases etc that in time this will change.   It hasn't shown any signs of changing for me.  It still feels like Im just rattling off the lines and my mind does not stay focused on the person I am sending well wishes to for very long.

During the day I try to remain mindful of breath or walking etc as much as possible wherever I am and I like to do some very slow mindful walking at home.

I have attended some Sanghas and felt perplexed by the talks.  It was all very cerebral and a bit intimidating.  Im not sure why Im talking about all this in public. I suppose I am feeling at a bit of a loss and not sure if I am actually getting any real results for all the effort I put in.  When I spend so much time doing this work I can't help but want a positive outcome, more peace, more happiness, less suffering etc but so far I dont see a lot of difference apart from being slightly more aware of my thought processes.



« Last Edit: January 06, 2016, 12:09:07 AM by purity »

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Re: Where to from here
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2016, 06:30:05 PM »
 A quote comes to mind I just read in another thread, although you may expected something more uplifting and less "face reality!"-like :-P

Quote from: Adyashanti
We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice. The path of awakening is not about positive emotions. On the contrary, enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all. It is not easy to have our illusions crushed. It is not easy to let go of long-held perceptions. We may experience great resistance to seeing through even those illusions that cause us a great amount of pain.

Other than that I don't feel like I have the capability right now to give you right answer. Maybe it would help if you'd let us know for how long you usually sit everyday and if you sit once or twice. Sometimes increasing time sat or adding a second sitting in the evening can really make the difference in regards to building momentuum and hence establishing strong concentration-skills that would otherwise would never occur as such by single sittings alone (with too much time inbetween), hence lack of momentuum, which can be really strong and make the difference in regards to practice. Continuity is king.

I suggest awaiting some other advice, that's it so far from me :-)

In regards to metta, it has sometimes helped me if I went from "good wish thoughts" to trying to go directly to feeling and experiencing it, making it more emotional, and less intellectual, more heartfelt. i'm much in my head, so I always found verbalizing metta to be kinda odd and not leading to anything anyway, making me seemingly stagnating, wanting to give up on metta practice anyway (besides the rationalization that any act of kindness would be better 1000times than any thought of kindness, no matter how kind that thought is, rationalizing me myself metta as kind of useless - unless it can actually be felt, which will most likely lead to acts of kindness, which should be the purpose of metta? I guess? Some clarification on that would be helpful I guess, atleast that has been hindrance for me in metta practice too, the lack of knowing what its for, beside the lack of being able to practice it-really-. :-)

Best regards

Dominic
to be or not to be - one hardly notices the subtlety

purity

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Re: Where to from here
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2016, 08:46:35 PM »
A quote comes to mind I just read in another thread, although you may expected something more uplifting and less "face reality!"-like :-P

Quote from: Adyashanti
We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice. The path of awakening is not about positive emotions. On the contrary, enlightenment may not be easy or positive at all. It is not easy to have our illusions crushed. It is not easy to let go of long-held perceptions. We may experience great resistance to seeing through even those illusions that cause us a great amount of pain.

Other than that I don't feel like I have the capability right now to give you right answer. Maybe it would help if you'd let us know for how long you usually sit everyday and if you sit once or twice. Sometimes increasing time sat or adding a second sitting in the evening can really make the difference in regards to building momentuum and hence establishing strong concentration-skills that would otherwise would never occur as such by single sittings alone (with too much time inbetween), hence lack of momentuum, which can be really strong and make the difference in regards to practice. Continuity is king.

I suggest awaiting some other advice, that's it so far from me :-)

In regards to metta, it has sometimes helped me if I went from "good wish thoughts" to trying to go directly to feeling and experiencing it, making it more emotional, and less intellectual, more heartfelt. i'm much in my head, so I always found verbalizing metta to be kinda odd and not leading to anything anyway, making me seemingly stagnating, wanting to give up on metta practice anyway (besides the rationalization that any act of kindness would be better 1000times than any thought of kindness, no matter how kind that thought is, rationalizing me myself metta as kind of useless - unless it can actually be felt, which will most likely lead to acts of kindness, which should be the purpose of metta? I guess? Some clarification on that would be helpful I guess, atleast that has been hindrance for me in metta practice too, the lack of knowing what its for, beside the lack of being able to practice it-really-. :-)

Best regards

Dominic

Hi Dominic,   Thanks for your answers. I usually sit for an hour in the morning and again 45min -1 hour in the evening.  I also sometimes wake up very early e.g. 4am and do a lying meditation in bed sometimes for 2 hours.  I also try to do a 30 minute walk during some point of the day.   
In regards to the metta, I dont understand how to "go directly to feeling and experiencing it". If I sit there and try to feel something nothing happens.  Thats why I am doing the rote phrases.   What you are saying seems to contradict the quote in your reply that says "We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice".     Surely trying to experience metta would be pursuing positive emotional states would it not?


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Re: Where to from here
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2016, 06:38:48 AM »
What you are saying seems to contradict the quote in your reply that says "We must give up the pursuit of positive emotional states through spiritual practice".     Surely trying to experience metta would be pursuing positive emotional states would it not?

Metta is not pursuing positive emotional states, it is cultivating them: the difference is lack of attachment to them.
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