Author Topic: Integrating mindfulness to daily life, Distractions, Internet overconsumption  (Read 358 times)

Marc

  • Member
Hello vipassanaforum,

It has been a while since I have written anything here. I have never been very active, but lately I've been checking the forum more often. I feel like I've come to know some of you from reading your posts over these past few years. I appreciate this comunity and what it stands for, despite not contributing much. Anyway, I felt like telling you about where I'm at, in hopes of getting some feedback, but mainly it will be an exercise of self expression, because I'm tired of being a lurker  ;D

So I've always loved meditation since I discovered it. I don't know exactly why, and I still haven't fully articulated to myself why I meditate. It feels good, and I feel inspired by the traits in some long term meditators and trust them when they say it's worth it. I realise these probably seem very childish reasons for someone who has been at it for some years already :D. Ok, there's more reasons I could name, but I don't want to deviate from the initial goal of this post too much.

The fact is that after these years (arround 4 years I think) since I discovered meditation I feel like I have not been working with enough resolution. It seems that having discovered the path and the possibility of walking it, is enough to me. The "I will always have meditation" kind of thought.

I do meditate regularly, increasingly so. My goal now is to get one hour every day after getting up. Realistically I've been doing this without failure for only 5 days now. It doesn't feel like a chore and I enjoy my sittings. Once I start the meditation a huge part of the resistance to be in the present moment wears away quickly, but there has to be an initial push to break out of the more compulsive way of being that reigns when I'm not sitting. That's what I'm trying to get to, there's a great difference between my sitting mode and my "normal" mode.

It seems like one hour of sitting is not enough to calm the disorder that my distractive habits bring. My way of living is not conducive to mindfulness at all. I spend way too much time on the internet, or listening to podcasts, distracting my mind, and then when I get to the blanket (I don't sit on a cushion  ;)), my mind is all over the place, or I feel like a zombie, barely aware.

Even though I identified this problem long time ago and have been setting up rules to limit my internet consumption, after some time I always break them again, and if, for example, I come back from a party and I feel kind of low (I've some degree of social anxiety and most parties bring me down), it's very usual for me to spend the next 6 hours or so browsing youtube or reddit, looking for the "solution" to my life, or for accounts of guys that were in my shoes and "made it".

Lately another distraction has been listening to podcasts. I've been listening to a lot of talks about the Dharma, and although I get a lot of value from them, it feels like the majority of times it's just distracting me from the real goal, which is to practice.

I could go on and on, but it feels like I'm getting all over the place here. To summarize, I feel like I don't really know what it would be like to take "the path" seriously. That it has become just an idea that calms me and tells me it will all just be ok in the end. The idea that love is possible and life can be deeply satisfying or meaningful gives me comfort. In this way meditation has become my church now, and I was a proud atheist :D. It's my idea of heaven that allows me to live life without worrying too much about the future.

Also, although I DO enjoy meditating and being present (it's probably the best hour in the day for me), I too find that it requires some effort, and I resist the idea of preserving that mindfulness throughout the day. It seems so much work! At the same time, a life without these bad habits that distract me seems really liberating and REAL (I feel barely alive sometimes)...

I listen when people say that life is short and very precious. But the message doesn't quite get home. Has anyone of you dealt with internet overuse, or other distracting habits?

My next action will be to join a group to meditate with weekly. I'm looking for options and have contacted some centers already. (Thanks Beherenow for suggesting Shambhala in another post). I think it will help to get some support, I've been going solo at it for all this time, pretty much.

Rant over!

Be well,

Marc

« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 12:24:16 AM by Marc »

raushan

  • Staff
  • from India
    • S. N. Goenka switched to Samatha Forest Tradition
Hi Marc,

I had the problem of internet overuse. I also had the social anxiety. The thing you mentioned has exactly happened with me.

What is social anxiety ?

From my experience, When we judge ourselves that I should acted this way but we acted differently. Then we get anxious. But it is the wrong perception. We generally carry wrong view and perception that you should act this way.
I would say first step should be stop judging yourselves and start accepting yourselves. Don't feel bad about yourself. Every person is unique. You can't behave the same other person is behaving. I am an introvert and I used to judge myself lot.

True when you feel anxious you browse more internet. How I controlled it.?

1. I substituted internet with books. Whenever i used to feel like browsing internet i started reading books. Reading books leaves different impression on mind than reading random article on the internet. You have to be more focused on reading books. Find some non fiction books and read them.

2. I never used to skip the meditation session. i just used to sit even if i am not able to focus. But i made it ritual to sit two times. Even after eating sometimes i used to meditate.

3. Used to do some physical exercise. This breaks the physical inertia. You come out of your mental world.

If you break habit of the less internet consuption say to yourself it's fine. I am getting better. Don't worry about it.

4. I didn't do it earlier but try to talk with people with good vibration. Try to socialize. Don't talk with anyone about your problem. Ususally i have seen many people are selfish. They will feel happy about your problem and try to take advantage of it.

5. Attending retreats are good idea.

6. Develop some goal and work toward it everyday even just for few minutes or hours . You will feel better.

Last don't lose your hope. You will feel better and get better. Just keep working. It might take time but keep trying.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 01:04:36 PM by raushan »

Marc

  • Member
Hey Raushan, it was very kind of you to take the time. I was glad to read your message.

What is social anxiety ?

From my experience, When we judge ourselves that I should acted this way but we acted differently.

Yep, pretty much.

I think it helps to DO things also. In my case, I have been trying to solve my self esteem issues only by trying to change my perceptions. But I was doing nothing with my life. Maybe poor self esteem is telling me I need to be more active. So now I attack both fronts, changing my perceptions through acceptance (meditation), and working towards some goals (you mentioned this later, I agree).

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1. I substituted internet with books. Whenever i used to feel like browsing internet i started reading books. Reading books leaves different impression on mind than reading random article on the internet. You have to be more focused on reading books. Find some non fiction books and read them.

When I decide to not use internet or limit it to one hour a day I do find I read so much more :) And you are right it doesn't distract the mind in the same way, it requires more action and focus.

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2. I never used to skip the meditation session. i just used to sit even if i am not able to focus. But i made it ritual to sit two times. Even after eating sometimes i used to meditate.

Do you meditate for 2 hours, like Goenka says? That's pretty cool. It seems like it would be too much of a chore for me to force myself to do that. But the majority of days, if I meditate one hour in the morning I end up meditating some more in the afternoon. But I don't want to put a lot of pressure. My aim is to be really consistent, like no exceptions, with one hour each day, and build up from there.

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3. Used to do some physical exercise. This breaks the physical inertia. You come out of your mental world.
I do a lot of physical exercise as I'm training to become a firefighter. And yeah, it makes so much of a difference in my mind state.

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4. I didn't do it earlier but try to talk with people with good vibration. Try to socialize. Don't talk with anyone about your problem. Ususally i have seen many people are selfish. They will feel happy about your problem and try to take advantage of it.

Yeah, need to do more of that. :D I have a noticeable tendency to isolate myself.

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5. Attending retreats are good idea.

It has been a long time since my last retreat, maybe 2 years. I plan on doing something about it. This summer would be a good time I think.

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Last don't lose your hope. You will feel better and get better. Just keep working. It might take time but keep trying.

I've hope! I'm more optimistic these days. Even if I didn't get much better in the social anxiety department, it would be workable. The main thing I feel I need to do is really taking my practice more seriously. And get this internet thing under control

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I substituted internet with books. Whenever i used to feel like browsing internet i started reading books.

I will take this advice. ;)

I found your post on anxiety: https://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php?topic=3054.msg31703#msg31703

Will read this. Thanks again!



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.
hi Marc,

In his book, "The Buddha The Body and the Reason Why?: Why meditate?", Robert Leshin goes into the subject of how screens dissociate us from the physicality of life. Add to that the recent revelations that social media was designed to be addictive ... you start to see why this is all a big distraction. It's one amongst many that are available to us .. worrying about future, addiction to sex, alcohol, drugs, social re-inforcement etc.

Being mindful of this one can encounter any addictive substance or technology and stop wasting time on it - they are all distractions from being in the present.

You practice meditation to gain experience of being in the present (and compassionate, calm, concentrated, 'cool' etc.), then you put it into practice in daily life, every minute of every day ... and if you aren't doing this then you are not doing the utmost to live a life conducive to maximising the fruits of practice in real life situations.
 
It's not rocket science yet it takes discipline.

Be kind to yourself and others too.

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

raushan

  • Staff
  • from India
    • S. N. Goenka switched to Samatha Forest Tradition
Thanks Matthew, what you wrote is also reminder for me.

Alex

  • Member
Hi Marc

You say haven’t found the words to express why you meditate, but you’re doing a good job articulating the ambivalence around your desire to commit.

Maybe it goes more quickly for some, but it takes time to transform both our hearts/minds and our lives. Always a work in progress. When I started to practice there were several addictions, and several dimensions (carreer, friends, relationship) that were not very nurturing to a meditative path. Some of these have changed and some are still present. On average I remain more balanced, but my practice, concentration, mindfulness, etc. will fluctuate with certain conditions. Work in progress. There is this lower limit in terms of what constitutes my practice, but also kindness/acceptance that maybe I will not always be able to meet that lower limit. And also some kind of confidence that if I’m not able to meet that lower limit it won’t be long before I refind my courage.

You mention distractions. It sure is wholesome to be careful with that, especially if you value concentration. So many temptations like internet to distract us from present moment experience. But there are maybe also wholesome distractions. The podcasts for example seem like a wholesome distraction, contributing to a better understanding of what it is we’re doing here. On retreat, mindful body care / grooming, can be a wholesome distraction.

Ambivalence is part of our existence. We have are reasons to change and reasons not to change. Exploring the ambivalence, being present with both sides, and in this way letting the discrepancy between here and there maximize, helps to resolve the ambivalence towards what we value most, whatever that may be. And then we act almost effortlessly. Every step forward is a good one, even if you fall back a little later on. (I know that discrepancy may seem at odds with self-compassion; it’s simply a different perspective)

Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. All the best!
Alex

stillpointdancer

  • stillpointdancer
  • Member
  • Retired teacher, deepening understanding of Dharma
    • Insight meditation
    • Exploring the results of 30 years of meditating

It seems like one hour of sitting is not enough to calm the disorder that my distractive habits bring. My way of living is not conducive to mindfulness at all. I spend way too much time on the internet, or listening to podcasts, distracting my mind, and then when I get to the blanket (I don't sit on a cushion  ;)), my mind is all over the place, or I feel like a zombie, barely aware.

Marc

If you can break the cycle of distraction activities, that's good. If not then the idea is to take your mindfulness practice to the activities you undertake. Mindfulness can't be separated from real life, but is a practice, a set of skills, to bring to it.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Marc

  • Member
Hey Matthew. I didn't see your post initially. Thanks a lot for your reply! To me, you are quite the celebrity, after all these years reading your posts (I still remember when I came back from my first Goenka retreat and found this online forum where this guy was criticizing the technique I'd just learned... my feathers were ruffled. After some time I got to see that you were not that bad though :D).

I'm going more and more in that direction now (being more mindful during daily activities). I understand that attacking bad habits aggressively and with aversion doesn't lead to lasting change, as it is a form of repression. If I try to reduce consumption of internet by forcing restricting laws on myself, it's only a matter of time until my will power tank is empty. If instead I really observe what is going on when I'm indulging in any of these habits, then I can feel my mind getting agitated, losing my calm. And then, seeing the unskillfullness of it all, I can mindfully stop the behavior sooner than I would have otherwise.

Look at that, I'm becoming very adept at speaking the Buddhist jargon. :D

Haha, the best news are that my meditation routine is going strong. This is the most important part. Also, I have discovered a wonderful group of meditators close to home and I've gone for 3 weeks already. It's cool to speak about this lifestyle with real people.

I appreciate it! Take care,

Marc

« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 05:23:38 PM by Marc »

Marc

  • Member
Hey Stillpointdancer! Thanks. I'm trying to do this, as explained in the post above :).

----------------------------------------

And thanks to you too Alex,

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But there are maybe also wholesome distractions. The podcasts for example seem like a wholesome distraction, contributing to a better understanding of what it is we’re doing here. On retreat, mindful body care / grooming, can be a wholesome distraction.

I will not feel guilty about those anymore then ;) It's true that since I've been listening to more dharma talks, this practice has been more on the forefront of my mind.

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And in this way letting the discrepancy between here and there maximize, helps to resolve the ambivalence towards what we value most, whatever that may be. And then we act almost effortlessly.

I had to look up the meaning of 'ambivalence', but you explained this so well. It's funny, I read your post a week ago and didn't have time to reply. Then, today, I wrote about me trying to be mindful during these episodes of over indulgence, all the while thinking these were somehow ideas I had reached by my own analysis. Now, reading your post for the second time I've realized I have been following your advise subconsciously! ??? :D

All the best to you too!

Thanks everyone for your kind messages.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 05:22:07 PM by Marc »

pwinston

  • Member
    • Vipassana
Quote
I resist the idea of preserving that mindfulness throughout the day. It seems so much work!

My favorite non-sitting meditation is while driving. I do mindful breaths and counting. I find it quite a good way to pass the time because I feel like I'm doing something useful. Sometimes I don't do the breaths but I just focus on being mindful until that next bridge or sign, then pick a new target. I've done 5 hour drives and meditated probably half of that. At the other extreme I will do it for a 5 minute ride. Also a benefit is you are necessarily paying hyper-attention to the road and traffic if you are being mindful, because your mind and attention aren't wandering.

I have other stock times I will meditate out in the world. One is taking out the trash, I have to walk a good 300 feet and I just listen my footsteps. And walking back. Another is unloading the laundry from the machine, it's amazing how it changes things when your goal is good mindful breaths, the fact you are even doing a chore kind of recedes into the background. Well at least for a moment.

But I agree it seems exhausting to be mindful ALL the time. I can't do it during many activities. It has to be something blank enough that there's room for the meditation. But I think finding a few activities you can "pair" with mindfulness, and making it a habit to do so whenever doing these activities, is one idea. Even just walking up a flight of stairs, just listen to your steps.

There's a short YouTube video [1] where Mingyur Ripoche insists you can meditate "anywhere anytime" even if it's just "two breaths.. one breath". One habit I've heard is always take a single mindful breath when you arrive somewhere, before stepping out of the car.

A great time is when stuck in line somewhere, or otherwise just doing nothing. It's better than scrolling through your phone, although I still do that as well plenty.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOJTbWC-ULc&t=2s
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 11:43:18 PM by pwinston »