Author Topic: Faith in Meditation  (Read 204 times)

raushan

  • Staff
  • from India
    • S. N. Goenka switched to Samatha Forest Tradition
Faith in Meditation
« on: August 04, 2018, 07:03:16 AM »
Hi Guys,

I think this happens with me time to time. So I wanted to ask. I am regular in practice now close to 3 years. Haven't seen much benefit. I keep losing faith in practice.
Over the period my relationship with meditation has changed. When I started first I thought initially that it's some kind of magic potion that will eliminate all the difficulties from the life. But slowly I have started to accept things.

But still, I feel there should come a moment of stillness, peacefulness after practicing it. My attitude should be such that people feel inspired after seeing me(it's not a wish, it's a parameter to measure I don't know how else do I measure).

I feel there should come a moment of thoughtlessness.

So, question is for long term practitioner. What changes have you seen in yourself over the long period of time? Do you feel that it was worth spending the time over the long period of time?

Have you been able to find a beautiful aspects of mind which you might never have seen if not practicing meditation.

When I compare a people who practice meditation with who is not currently I am not able to see much difference. I feel lot of people who practice meditation are in greater delusion than the people who do not.

I see people who are taking weeds regularly and working are more happier than me. I am disciplined in exercise and meditation still I feel some people are wiser and happier than a meditation practitioner without doing anything.

« Last Edit: August 04, 2018, 07:08:12 AM by raushan »

Anarcho

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Stage of 10 days
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2018, 08:27:41 AM »
Hello,

I have the same point of view from my own perspective.
I practiced during 2 years for 2 hours each day and didn't watch a change. It's a little bit disappointing. As I said in my previous topics, I was even feeling worse after my practice...

But I had severe anxiety when I started practicing. And I still have. I sometimes have the feeling that meditation sadly can help more healthy people than some trying to deal with anxiety or other health problems. I think that european medias (at least in my country) should stop to present meditation or yoga as a miracle for stress, cause I can tell today by experience that this is clearly not. It's nice to talk positively about, but we shouldn't make believe to miracles which don't exist.

It also seems that everyone reacts differently. A friend from Vipassana still practices it every day, and it's full of benefits for him.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2018, 08:36:10 AM by Anarcho »

stillpointdancer

  • stillpointdancer
  • Member
  • Retired teacher, deepening understanding of Dharma
    • Insight meditation
    • Exploring the results of 30 years of meditating
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2018, 12:03:44 PM »
Hi raushan
People take up meditation for many different reasons. Every person has their own understandings, assumptions and expectations, especially about the time scale of things and the changes you can expect to see. At the same time, everyone involved in meditation has different explanations of what happens. I've made a study of meditation since I took it up about 35 years ago, so here's my take on your post:

1. You don't say anything about how you practice. There are two main aspects to this, your meditation practice and the context within which you meditate, with both having an effect on what happens to you.

2. There are many scientifically proven changes that take place when you meditate, mainly around things like lower blood pressure, a reduction in stress levels, and so on. They may be worth an internet search or two. Even if you don't feel as if you have changed, it has been shown that meditating has an effect on the hard wiring of the brain. This happens whatever we do all the time, but the changes brought about by meditating are somewhat different, encouraging new brain cell to develop and bringing about changes to internal connections within the brain, changes which are the consequences of structured practices developed over thousands of years.

3. The changes can have subtle effects, so we are probably the last to notice any changes. Much more likely that close friends or relatives will see something. That was certainly the case for me, although I did notice that I didn't want to go out drinking so much. I also noticed that whenever I stopped meditating for any length of time the quality of my life suffered, or maybe the quality of my experience of life took a sharp dip.

4. On the down side, any change can be challenging. The process of change that meditation brings can be the most challenging you'll ever experience. Many issues get thrown up and there are times when you'll be less than 'happy' because of it. Much of this depends on context, on the sort of people you are meditating with, or whether it is a lone venture. Working with supportive people who have been through the same stuff is best.

5. The moments of 'peaceful stillness and thoughtlessness' come during meditation (I guess you mean non-though rather than thoughtlessness) rather than afterwards, although I deliberately don't drive for ten or fifteen minutes after meditating, to 'ground' myself, just in case something happens while I am driving.

It might be that meditation isn't for you at this point in your life. It may be time to take a break from it for a year or so, and see if your experience of life is better or worse without it. Hope this helps.




“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

stillpointdancer

  • stillpointdancer
  • Member
  • Retired teacher, deepening understanding of Dharma
    • Insight meditation
    • Exploring the results of 30 years of meditating
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2018, 12:08:20 PM »
Hello,

I have the same point of view from my own perspective.
I practiced during 2 years for 2 hours each day and didn't watch a change. It's a little bit disappointing. As I said in my previous topics, I was even feeling worse after my practice...

But I had severe anxiety when I started practicing. And I still have. I sometimes have the feeling that meditation sadly can help more healthy people than some trying to deal with anxiety or other health problems. I think that european medias (at least in my country) should stop to present meditation or yoga as a miracle for stress, cause I can tell today by experience that this is clearly not. It's nice to talk positively about, but we shouldn't make believe to miracles which don't exist.

It also seems that everyone reacts differently. A friend from Vipassana still practices it every day, and it's full of benefits for him.

You make some good points here. The best time to take up meditation is when things are going well for you. Otherwise, if you feel you have to at least try meditating it may be better to take up some form which is more likely to help with a particular problem such as stress. They are available, but you have to put in the research to find something suitable.
“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

raushan

  • Staff
  • from India
    • S. N. Goenka switched to Samatha Forest Tradition
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2018, 12:32:56 PM »
Hi Anarcho, stillpointdancer,

I practice samatha meditation as suggested by Ajahn Brahm or also it's in the Home page of this forum.

One thing I have understood in recent few months my main cause of anxiety was to staying the job I didn't liked. Thinking low about myself that lead to some bad decisions in life. Giving people more respect than they deserved. I had less interaction with my friends and the like minded people. I am trying to change that.

So, I feel the more and more I am removing these causes that is making me happier. I have observed the pattern people who are happy have good people surrounding them. They are working on the carrier they really wanted.

I too kept practicing two hours for more than 2 years but then I started to see how I was giving less time to other stuff that was necessary and it was also probably one of the cause of anxiety.

Currently, I have reduced it to one hour.

stillpointdancer,

I want to know in which aspect meditation really helped you? Like just in terms of stress removal or calming down the mind? Becuase there are many other activities that people can do which should calm them. There is Yoga, Pranayams, Swimming, Playing sports.

I had this point in my mind that Meditation has something unique about it that no other activity can replace. Like some of the concepts I have studied in the Buddhism Anatta, Speration of Mind, Body that really is very advance.

But, is meditation sufficient for that? I also generally abstain from drugs and alcohol.

stillpointdancer

  • stillpointdancer
  • Member
  • Retired teacher, deepening understanding of Dharma
    • Insight meditation
    • Exploring the results of 30 years of meditating
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2018, 02:51:52 PM »

stillpointdancer,

I want to know in which aspect meditation really helped you? Like just in terms of stress removal or calming down the mind? Becuase there are many other activities that people can do which should calm them. There is Yoga, Pranayams, Swimming, Playing sports.

I had this point in my mind that Meditation has something unique about it that no other activity can replace. Like some of the concepts I have studied in the Buddhism Anatta, Speration of Mind, Body that really is very advance.

But, is meditation sufficient for that? I also generally abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Mindfulness of Breathing meditation helped in reducing stress and calming the mind. As the mind drifts, bringing it back to the breath or to counting the breath is a great help. As one of the basic meditations I was taught it still use it after all these years, especially if I include a body scan at the start to see where any tension lies. If this doesn't work to reduce tension I fall back to a relaxation exercise I used as a student. It was one of those self-improvement tapes (I am that old) that used self-hypnosis techniques and had a blank space in the middle to insert whatever you wanted to improve, from giving up smoking to gaining confidence. I still remember it and can 'play' it in my mind. Usually on the rare occasions I can't sleep.

To be honest, I only started meditation to experiment with the consciousness altering aspects. I wanted a drug free technique to explore different states of consciousness. It worked, but became much more than that, and I subsequently became a Buddhist.
“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

Merrikay

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Scriptural Meditation
    • Blessed
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2018, 04:49:33 PM »
Hi! I practice Biblical meditation, so my experiences and processes may be quite different. From what I understand though, a huge part of the Buddhist path (as well as Christianity) is practicing selflessness or letting go of the ego. I think our experiences in just about everything are influenced heavily by where our motives lie. For example, I tend to intellectualize everything, I have fooled myself many times into thinking I’m doing something for the benefit of all, when upon further inspection, it came from a selfish place. I personally believe progress (the path to peace and happiness) is made when we let go of ourselves, and our preconceived expectations. Love to you, I hope this was helpful in some small way!
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16

Laurent

  • Member
  • don't feed the troll
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2018, 07:00:54 PM »
Hello Raushan,

It is surprising that with this method you do not reach peacefulness states.
Have i clearly understood ? (I don't speak english very well)

The first idea that come to me is life conditions. Maybe you are too busy in life? Lot of thoughts? Don't really let go?

Regards


raushan

  • Staff
  • from India
    • S. N. Goenka switched to Samatha Forest Tradition
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2018, 07:31:00 PM »
Hi Laurent,

Yes, You have understood correctly. I have difficulty in reaching peaceful states. Yes My career and life isn't exactly on track as I wanted it to be. I am working to change that.
I think the main reason for my anxiety currently is I am not exactly on the position(career wise) where I had hoped.

can you please explain with too busy in life?
« Last Edit: August 04, 2018, 09:50:52 PM by raushan »

Laurent

  • Member
  • don't feed the troll
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2018, 10:44:54 AM »
Hello,

The more the mind is free from concerns and considerations, the deeper the meditation is and achievements follow deep meditation.
From experience,i believe that progress in meditation is proportional to retirement, which is essentially mental.
Though retirement is essentially mental, our life conditions have impact in our mental activity.
For example, you will see a difference when you live in the city or in the country.

There are solutions. You could cultivate sense of urgency, considering death. You could read some teachings, especially Buddha's speech. Reading some sutta or considering death regularly could have a powerful effect. You can do retreats with a good guide.

It is necessary that you reach achievements in meditation to restore faith that meditation is really special and useful compared to other activities. May you find happiness and joy from your meditations  :)

Regards


Laurent

  • Member
  • don't feed the troll
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2018, 11:36:12 AM »
I feel there should come a moment of thoughtlessness.

There is  ;)

So, question is for long term practitioner. What changes have you seen in yourself over the long period of time? Do you feel that it was worth spending the time over the long period of time?

Have you been able to find a beautiful aspects of mind which you might never have seen if not practicing meditation.

When I compare a people who practice meditation with who is not currently I am not able to see much difference. I feel lot of people who practice meditation are in greater delusion than the people who do not.

I see people who are taking weeds regularly and working are more happier than me. I am disciplined in exercise and meditation still I feel some people are wiser and happier than a meditation practitioner without doing anything.

You are right. People who are not practising and don't even know about meditation can be a better person, more happier, than a meditation practitioner.
But what if this first would have practiced ? And what if this last would not have ?
Due to their respective kamma, you can not really compare two different persons. You can rather compare yourself with yourself.
Are you more unhappy than before? Do you harm people more than before?


I want to know in which aspect meditation really helped you? Like just in terms of stress removal or calming down the mind? Becuase there are many other activities that people can do which should calm them. There is Yoga, Pranayams, Swimming, Playing sports.

I had this point in my mind that Meditation has something unique about it that no other activity can replace. Like some of the concepts I have studied in the Buddhism Anatta, Speration of Mind, Body that really is very advance.

But, is meditation sufficient for that? I also generally abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Meditation is not sufficient. Morality is extremely important. But, meditation helps to maintain a good morality. And morality greatly helps to deepen meditation.
It is eightfold path.
For example, if your job is in accordance with right livelihood but you don't like your job, then you will probably have bad thoughts, words or deeds because of it, and it has consequences in your inner peace, and then meditative states. If you are able to maintain a good morality while you don't like your job, your job is not a problem. But it is hard to do, also depending on the person you are.
At some points, we have to explore every details of our existence to go further.

Your question about other disciplines makes a fundamental point which is the purpose of meditation. Because there is meditation vs other disciplines, but there is also meditation vs Dhamma. Practicing meditation doesn't mean that you practice dhamma. Dhamma is the spiritual path, meaning briefly renouncement and surrender. Meditation is not especially renouncement. There are mundane meditations. Dhamma has no mundane purposes. It is very important to clearly know what you expect from meditation.

Regards.


« Last Edit: August 05, 2018, 11:38:51 AM by Laurent »

mobius

  • Member
  • Who am I?
    • mindfulness
    • hopeful
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2018, 11:25:42 PM »
Just wanted to say, these replies have been very helpful to me as well.  :)

My own two cents:
I think to truly reduce stress/be a better person and everything it requires not only meditation but what you do and how you think all day long is just as important. Maybe meditation consolidates this; so if you're 'sowing bad seeds' so to speak, all day, then meditation isn't going to do anything for you, except cement bad habits.
I sort of think of meditation like a tool. Like a calculator; it can do wondrous things, but if you gave a calculator to a caveman, he couldn't do anything with it. Like any tool it must be used properly and as others said in the right context.

One hour seems long for me. I've just started and I only do about 10-20 minutes everyday. Although today I think I might done up to around 30, but I stopped twice in the middle so it was more like 3 sessions of 8 minutes each. Whenever I do it and nothing 'magical' happens within a few minutes; I know it's not going to happen and I don't bother trying to force a deep experience.

There are definitely people that can be truly happy and at peace without meditation. My uncle (who died many years ago) was the happiest person I know, never seen him angry, never heard of him lose his cool; and he didn't know a darn thing about meditation. I think some people are just wired to be that way; nothing brings them down ever.
For the rest of us; we need things like meditation :D
But there are other things perhaps that can do the same as meditation. Just talking calmly at length with your spouse/lover for example, about your deepest desires/problems can be deeply healing. Like talking to a therapist.

dharma bum

  • Member
  • Certified Zen Master (second degree black belt)
    • vipassana
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2018, 04:15:01 AM »
i've been through all these issues and still regress many times. at one point, i started reminding myself that meditation is not a panacea for everything and i should expect nothing from it. at one time, i was suffering from anxiety over my jobs (really shitty supervisor and no other jobs in town) and when i meditated, i would get anxious because my anxiety was not reducing, so i was actually getting anxious about my anxiety, which is twice the anxiety at the same price.

there are some good suggestions in the thread. meditating on death is useful because it puts our troubles in perspective. other things i have done is to meditate on the troubles of people so much worse off than we are. it's not hard to think of people like that.

but i think one of the traps some people fall into is to see meditation as escape (i have a relative who does that) or think of meditation as leading to a superior state of mind/consciousness. to me, this seems like a mistake. what works for me is to think of meditation as a long road to travel on and all we can do is to take one step/breath at a time. this works for me most of the time because it frees the mind from expectations.

the other thing is that we have to try to remedy the problems in our lives that cause us anxiety. meditation is not enough. if you have bad habits (about money for example), then you should try and use the benefits of meditation to get over the habits.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2018, 04:19:59 AM by dharma bum »
Mostly ignorant

Bambs

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Vipassana
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2018, 10:02:04 AM »
Hi all

I have found this thread very interesting, as it describes exactly what my experience has been with meditation. Thank you for sharing  :)

At the beginning of this year I meditated consistently and quite intensively for several months, even taking the time to do a 3-day silent solo retreat at home, but I felt often frustrated as my worries and anxieties did not seem to be going away. I let my schedule slip and stopped meditating for a few months and have now begun to pick it up again. I don't know if this means that my meditation wasn't "working" before, but I agree with what has been said above about attitude and expectations. Maybe progress is not linear - perhaps one needs to think of progress as something which can't necessarily be accurately measured by the emotions, but how you respond to them?

I have actually found that reminding myself before and during a sitting that there is no pressure to make any difficult experiences go away makes me feel better during meditation - it takes the pressure off. I think guilt and self-criticism are such big hindrances, and as much of the work for reducing this takes place off the cushion as on.

I'm trying to think of meditation as a way of supporting me through difficult times - not as a solution to them. 

I still can't help but wish that negative emotions will just float away, but I'm trying to bring more self-compassion into my life as it really does soften the blow of everything I encounter.

Always easier said than done though...

ulab

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • practice
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2018, 06:46:52 PM »
Iam no expert in here....i think i am at least eligible to share my thoughts on  below part..


But I had severe anxiety when I started practicing. And I still have. I sometimes have the feeling that meditation sadly can help more healthy people than some trying to deal with anxiety or other health problems.

i would say meditation has been kind of miraculous for me..i did post one thread in here when i was truly struggling with anxiety  to get some sleep
(https://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php?topic=3384.0)
 ..i was taking 2 kinds of pills (antipshycotic and sleeping pill) even then i used to go through lot of struggle.

after meditation for 3 months ( 30 mins to 2 hours weekdays and 5 to 7 hours during weekends) i am able to sleep with just antipshycotic (you dont know ,that is such a relief for me )...i had terribly  bad days too in between but then the day after a bad day .. i would try with more determination and would find some relief . In my opinion that determination i got through my meditation .

As MOBIUS said..
what ever though that you get during your day and how you handle those thoughts will always have impact on your happiness.

in addition to meditation i do

--> Isha kriya 15 mins --(i dint go to any of the  isha classes till now nor i am suggesting some one to attend, i just tried this and found useful)
--> yoga for 30 minutes

Hope i am making some sense here

thanks



Anarcho

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Stage of 10 days
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2018, 07:31:34 PM »
Hello ulab,

Thanks to have written your own experience.
It didn't help anxious people that I know. But it's cool if I m wrong and it could at least give some relief for some.

John006

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Maharishi School
Re: Faith in Meditation
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2018, 07:10:05 AM »
Meditation is unwinding. It isn't about focus, it's in reality about de-concentration. It's not tied in with focusing one's thoughts on a certain something, but rather on getting to be thoughtless. The general advantages of meditations incorporate a calm mind, upgraded focus, enhanced clearness and communication, and unwinding of brain and body. Consistent routine with regards to meditation profoundly affects the center three territories of our reality - physical, mental, and spiritual.