Author Topic: Enhanced emotions  (Read 230 times)

Steve_c53

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Enhanced emotions
« on: March 28, 2018, 03:14:22 PM »
Hi all, this is my first post on the forum and need a little advice if possible.
I first started meditating on a daily basis approx 28 months ago and learned how to get started from reading a few books. I have practised on my own during this time as there are not many resources round my part of the world so finding someone to teach me is difficult.
I must say during these last couple of years meditating has been very difficult, ranging from obsessive distractions and high emotions. I first came to this practice due to personal reasons suffering from mild depression and anxiety thinking meditation would help me to overcome these issues. Unfortunately meditation has not helped overall and sometimes it feels like it has made some things worse, can this happen?
Over the course of the last couple of years meditating I have found that when off the cushion my thoughts have turned to my past, regrets, pain I have caused, fears, etc etc like a past filled with sadness. I am always worried about the future, without going into details there is a person who is a narcissist and making my life a real misery and has been for the last three years. I dont like mentioning personal problems online but I am struggling to move forward in my meditation practice.
I have also noticed that my emotions are really enhanced, all the positive and negative. Can/does meditation cause emotions to be stronger? 

From the beginning I have practiced Shamatha watching my breath and sit for approximately two 30 minute sessions per day. I sit on a Zofu in the burma position but my legs still get numb after approx 20 minutes and have to shift my other leg in front, is this ok to do? I have tried sitting in a chair but it just does not feel right...

I have loads more to ask but the school run needs to be done  :'(


         

stillpointdancer

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 09:44:49 AM »
I first came to this practice due to personal reasons suffering from mild depression and anxiety thinking meditation would help me to overcome these issues. Unfortunately meditation has not helped overall and sometimes it feels like it has made some things worse, can this happen?
Over the course of the last couple of years meditating I have found that when off the cushion my thoughts have turned to my past, regrets, pain I have caused, fears, etc etc like a past filled with sadness.
I have also noticed that my emotions are really enhanced, all the positive and negative. Can/does meditation cause emotions to be stronger? 
 I sit on a Zofu in the burma position but my legs still get numb after approx 20 minutes and have to shift my other leg in front, is this ok to do? I have tried sitting in a chair but it just does not feel right...     
1. Yes, meditation does help in the long run, but can raise issues which make things worse when you are developing your practice on your own. A teacher can help when things seem to be getting worse rather than better.
2. Past regrets can be a problem, which is why you need to include wishing yourself well as part of metta meditation. Many find it hard to forgive themselves, but it is important not to overlook this part of the practice.
3. Emotions are often difficult to control at some stages of meditation practice. Sometimes they are negative emotions, sometimes overwhelmingly positive. This is a side effect of meditation, which is why a teacher would stress equanimity, a middle path between positive and negative.
4. Posture can change the experience, but, for me, it's more important to be comfortable than to try to go through the pain barrier every time you sit (although some zen people might not agree with me!). The good thing about meditating alone is that you needn't be afraid of disturbing others by moving to get the circulation going again.
“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

Alex

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2018, 03:54:30 PM »
Hi Steve

Thanks for sharing your experience. And well done for establishing a regular practice with no help but from a few books!

You mention that you practice shamatha, giving attention to the breath and consequently to all phenomena that happen while you’re doing that. Maybe then, it is possible that mental and emotional patterns simply have become more visible (as opposed to ‘worse’)?
And in the same manner you notice more precisely when you mind is inevitably ruminating about past events, or worrying about future events.

This seems very normal. This is what our minds do. And really getting to know or fully understanding what our minds do is at the core of what meditation is about.

Also it is probable that you have been cultivating more acceptance or safety with regard to emotional experiences, allowing you to feel both the pleasant and unpleasant emotions more intensely? In a world where suppressing emotions is considered normal, simply or truly feeling your emotions could be considered as intense.
But again, seems pretty normal to be sad when you are sad, happy when you are happy, etc. And sometimes this is more intense than at other times.

This is just a suggestion, but maybe it would be interesting for you to move on from shamatha and orient your practice more towards vipassana / insight meditation?

Finally, I agree with stillpointdancer, comfort in posture is important. It fundamentally represents or embodies kindness towards ourselves. So whatever you do, I invite you to do it with kindness. You could explore with awareness the sensations that come up in your leg, and with equal awareness change different leg to the front. This is definitely okay! ;) Or you might one day try other postures. With time (and/or other physical practices) flexibility might also improve.
 
Kindly
Alex

stillpointdancer

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2018, 12:29:09 PM »
One thing I would add about posture is that, even with one which is aimed at comfort, you can always experiment with the spine, straightening it as much as possible without pain, and with the hands. Your hands can be open palm up or open palm down, or a number of other positions. Even slight differences can change the 'feel' of the meditation.
“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

dharma bum

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 02:37:10 PM »
i am not an expert and people should not take my word for anything, but sometimes it seems to me that dealing with some physical discomfort and getting past it can be good for you. there are many ways meditation can be done and each brings its own challenges and benefits. if you're in constant pain on account of your posture, then you're obviously doing something wrong, but there is no harm in extending your tolerance for discomfort.
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Steve_c53

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2018, 02:32:04 PM »
Firstly thank you very much for taking time out to answer my post.
Many people say that a teacher is important on the meditation path, I never could quite understand this in the beginning as the instructions seemed simple enough to me, but now I know that having a teacher would have sped up progress as working things out on your own takes a lot of time. Maybe one day I might find a teacher.
i am not an expert and people should not take my word for anything, but sometimes it seems to me that dealing with some physical discomfort and getting past it can be good for you. there are many ways meditation can be done and each brings its own challenges and benefits. if you're in constant pain on account of your posture, then you're obviously doing something wrong, but there is no harm in extending your tolerance for discomfort.
When I get physical pain (leg numbness)it takes my attention away from the breath, the longer I sit when the numbness starts it travels up my leg so that within the space of 10 minutes my whole leg can be numb. In books it has said that I should watch this pain, how should I watch pain?


This is just a suggestion, but maybe it would be interesting for you to move on from shamatha and orient your practice more towards vipassana / insight meditation?



One of the first books I read is called Mindfulness in plain English and this book is about the vipassana/insight meditation and this was what I wanted to practice but it really confused me in places. The instructions in the book start with a Shamatha approach and then you move onto insight meditation when you reach a certain level of concentration. The book says that when you reach a basic level of concentration you will 'see' a sign like a pearl or a wisp of smoke or a peg and this now becomes your object of meditation. The book then says that when you 'see' this sign consistently you are ready to practice insight meditation. Well, to be honest I have not seen any sign at all and you only need a 'basic' level of concentration? What happens 'sometimes' in my practice and probably only lasts for 10-15 seconds at a time is that my thought process slows right down and I am left with a nice sensation of just having me and the breath and it feels effortless to be in this state, but its only fleeting....so I am therefore a little confused on this 'sign' I am supposed to see. This is why I have not even looked at insight meditation because I am still on baby steps I think lol.

 

Alex

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2018, 07:17:25 PM »
One of the first books I read is called Mindfulness in plain English and this book is about the vipassana/insight meditation and this was what I wanted to practice but it really confused me in places. The instructions in the book start with a Shamatha approach and then you move onto insight meditation when you reach a certain level of concentration. The book says that when you reach a basic level of concentration you will 'see' a sign like a pearl or a wisp of smoke or a peg and this now becomes your object of meditation. The book then says that when you 'see' this sign consistently you are ready to practice insight meditation. Well, to be honest I have not seen any sign at all and you only need a 'basic' level of concentration? What happens 'sometimes' in my practice and probably only lasts for 10-15 seconds at a time is that my thought process slows right down and I am left with a nice sensation of just having me and the breath and it feels effortless to be in this state, but its only fleeting....so I am therefore a little confused on this 'sign' I am supposed to see. This is why I have not even looked at insight meditation because I am still on baby steps I think lol.

I have not read the book you’re referring to. From what you describe it seems the book refers to a deep (instead of basic) level of concentration called jhana (absorption). When concentration is deep enough to access jhana, it is said that there is a nimitta that is consistently present, which may sound like some exotic or magical experience, but is more like the knowing of the breath that is a mental knowing instead of physical sensations. Expecting or chasing this sign will prevent concentration from deepening.

If you have no idea of what the hell I’m saying  ??? that’s very normal, and nothing to worry about. Really! Jhana is usually not accessible for those of us meditating in lay life. It might be something to explore in a retreat context where the teaching is focussed on concentration meditation. And in that case it will surely help if you already have the insights/wisdom to handle the hindrances when they arise.

Now, again to the practical matters: shamatha is usually practiced to establish some level of concentration before moving on to insight practice. How much concentration is needed to practice insight meditation is an interesting question, and opinions may differ. In my experience: not that much. But, hey, you can experience that for yourself! ;)

Steve_c53

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2018, 08:24:54 PM »
Thank you very much Alex for the info, would it be possible to tell me where I can look for more information on what insight meditation is all about?

Alex

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2018, 01:15:38 PM »
What big question… where does one start, indeed?
 
As you may already have noticed, there is more than one flavour of vipassana. People can debate all they want about pros and cons but genuine practitioners will reap the fruits of their practice in any of them and from there on be able to find their own way and explore other approaches or practices.

I did not learn from written resources, so I’m afraid I can’t vouch for any such resource that contains clear beginner instructions for vipassana.

A quick search on this forum lead me to a suggestion by Matthew: https://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php?topic=199.0. Might be a place to start?

stillpointdancer

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2018, 10:18:25 PM »
Thank you very much Alex for the info, would it be possible to tell me where I can look for more information on what insight meditation is all about?

The Sathipatthana Sutta gives you some idea of a structured program of insight meditation, in this case via mindfulness. The idea is to bring about changes which allow you to see things in a different way.
“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

Steve_c53

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Re: Enhanced emotions
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2018, 09:12:44 PM »
Thank you very much Alex for the info, would it be possible to tell me where I can look for more information on what insight meditation is all about?

The Sathipatthana Sutta gives you some idea of a structured program of insight meditation, in this case via mindfulness. The idea is to bring about changes which allow you to see things in a different way.

Thanks very much for the info, I will take a look.