Author Topic: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.  (Read 1663 times)

polishedbrass

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breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« on: October 12, 2016, 08:53:22 PM »
I was wondering what would be preferable in for example anxiety inducing circumstances.
I am concerned not so much with the momentary symptomatic relief but on 'reprogramming' the mind in the face of the anxiety

I know that greater levels of mindfulness have the effect of being able to change and reprogram the brain and body in response to feelings and their causes. I was just wondering if breathing exercises for example that produce the relaxation response can be helpful or if they actually interfere with this proces?

If my anxiety is triggered I will sit down and meditate and hold everything in gentle awareness without trying to interfere with anything, the anxiety symptoms will be there for a long time though. Sometimes slow diaphragmatic breathing exercises help me a lot quicker to get out of 'fight or flight' mode. I try to stay aware of my body at the same time though. But I would rather face the symptoms knowing that I am moving towards greater freedom than just symptomatic release.

I was just wondering what the pro's and con's are of both methods and if the 'active/controlling' method is still productive in the long term goal of inner freedom.

This also in relation to other traditions like yoga that balance the a rigorous control with acceptance vs something like 'just sitting' in the Zen tradition.

Laurent

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Re: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2016, 09:49:32 PM »
I guess that in your case it is best to continue observing breath like you do, because you seem to have understood how it works and you seem to bear it well.
I can only hearthen you to continue this way while i know it is long and difficult.
If you bear it well, then continue, you are doing a very fruitful job now. It is worth it. you will see a progress.

Active/programming  method can be your metta, and deprogramming method your contemplative meditation with sensations.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2016, 09:51:26 PM by Laurent »

Matthew

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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
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Re: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2016, 09:55:42 PM »
Observe.

The whole basis of Shamatha is to explore body and breathing in a relaxed and concentrated state: relaxed in the body and focussed mindfully, yet with no great force anywhere. The first thing that happens is everything relaxes. The relaxation is centred in the body and the amygdala - it doesn't go through the cognitive brain.

Shamatha will reduce anxiety within days if practiced right.

We've got an online video conferencing software built in to the forum somewhere.

We could chat about it then meditate together one day if you would like? Let me know.

Otherwise we could possibly organise a short video course for beginners to do in a group with some experienced practitioners.Volunteers please PM me.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

MarcT

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Re: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2016, 01:54:22 AM »
Observe.

The whole basis of Shamatha is to explore body and breathing in a relaxed and concentrated state: relaxed in the body and focussed mindfully, yet with no great force anywhere. The first thing that happens is everything relaxes. The relaxation is centred in the body and the amygdala - it doesn't go through the cognitive brain.

Shamatha will reduce anxiety within days if practiced right.

We've got an online video conferencing software built in to the forum somewhere.

We could chat about it then meditate together one day if you would like? Let me know.

Otherwise we could possibly organise a short video course for beginners to do in a group with some experienced practitioners.Volunteers please PM me.

Matthew,
I also would be interested to participate

warm regards
Marc 

polishedbrass

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Re: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2016, 09:48:07 AM »
Observe.

The whole basis of Shamatha is to explore body and breathing in a relaxed and concentrated state: relaxed in the body and focussed mindfully, yet with no great force anywhere. The first thing that happens is everything relaxes. The relaxation is centred in the body and the amygdala - it doesn't go through the cognitive brain.

Shamatha will reduce anxiety within days if practiced right.

We've got an online video conferencing software built in to the forum somewhere.

We could chat about it then meditate together one day if you would like? Let me know.

Otherwise we could possibly organise a short video course for beginners to do in a group with some experienced practitioners.Volunteers please PM me.

Thank you so much for your kindness Matthew.

I would really like to take up on your offer.

I notice that when I meditate in a state of anxiety that I can get to a state of mental relaxation and I observe the feelings and try to touch them deeply without losing myself in them or the thoughts that arise. I can smile at them gently and be there but my body just doesn't relax like my mind does. The tension in my body only seems to increase when I meditate it seems even though I can often keep a relaxed awareness of it. I come out of my meditation with a lot more muscle stiffness than when I went into it. Often my back and neck are really crackling everywhere when I get up.

At first I thought it was because I was too focussed on concentration and that was bringing up feelings from the unconscious. I've been following the path set out in 'The Mind Illuminated' for a while until the intense feelings really started and my childhood trauma was triggered. But now I use a lot more gentle anchor on the breath while really trying to open up my awareness to the body and giving attention to the feelings that arise. But the increase in tension is still there. There is also advice on giving attention to the feelings that arise and returning to the breath once they subside a little in intensity but often they don't subside even though I am giving them my attention for a long time. But perhaps a 'long time' is just my impatience speaking and a couple of months of 45 min-1 hour a day practice is not a 'long time' to deal with something like this. I just don't have any guidance outside of the books I read and my therapist has no experience with meditation practice. So I often wonder if things are 'working' or if I'm doing it wrong.

I just noticed last time my anxieties were really triggered that I went to my meditation bench and sat with it for 15 minutes. Afterwards I lay on my bed and did some deep breathing and only then I felt the feeling subside and my body relax a little. That's why I was wondering about this.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2016, 09:50:00 AM by polishedbrass »

Matthew

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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: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2016, 02:43:49 PM »
Marc, polishedbrass - I'll PM you both.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

BeHereNow

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  • "Do not doubt your basic goodness." J. Kornfield
    • Shambhala
Re: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2016, 03:21:38 PM »
I would love to participate if my schedule allows for it.
"You are the Sky.  Everything else is just the weather." - Pema Chodron

Teej

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Re: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2016, 06:19:57 PM »
Same here! I need to talk my questions and issues about the path thoroughly and quicker! I'll PM you as well.

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: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2016, 02:38:34 PM »
I'll try and sort out some times for later this week and next weekend and post them in another place for you all to see ....

One proviso: my neck injury has taken a turn for the worse and if it doesn't settle soon this might not be something I can do - in which case perhaps another member can assist you all with.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

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: breathing/relaxation exercises vs simply observing.
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2016, 12:26:47 PM »
Ok all .. seen the chiropractor this morning and I'm going to need twice weekly treatments and lots of rest.

I'm very sorry but taking on additional responsibilities at this very moment is not the right thing to do. Unless someone else from the community is willing to chat, I need you to bear with me for two or three weeks by which time my neck may be more stable.

Kindly,

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

 

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