Author Topic: Strange mental discomfort after 2-year of practice anapana meditation  (Read 386 times)

lemurian

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Vipassana as tought by Goenka
Hello, dear meditators!

I have encountered a serious problem, and I will be very happy, if you can halp me with advices.
In 2018 I sit my first 10-days course (as tought by Goenka). I was very impressed with that experience and decided to continue practice at home.
Quite quickly i realised, that it's very hard to practice vipassana itself, and i decided to focus only on anapana - to sharpen my mind, to cultivate a habit for a meditation. I also got acquainted with a technique itself (Tibetian and Burmese sources), which helped me a lot. Twice a day i've been meditating (1 hour in the morning, 1 hour in the evening) for about a year, when suddenly something went wrong.

Note, that I've ever suffered from any mental disease and consider myself more or less stable, "normal" personality.
Before IT started, I noticed some changes in my mind - I became much, much calmer and stable. My emotions became much quiter and softer. From the other hand, I felt that something weird goes on - I became totally detached from everyrhing, nothing could touch me. I've lost interest in almost everything, the reality became flat and predictable. My girlfrend said I look like a robot.
After 4-5 months of this "robotic" existence t started experiencing severe panic attacks (I've never had them before) and very strange perceptional effects:
- stretching of time
- feeling, that I've trapped in loop of same - looking situations
- paranoia
- overall physical disorder
I was very scared, because it lasted very long and intensively. I immediately understood, that it's somehow connected with a practice. I stopped all meditations, but still was in a very poor condition. I think, many people would go to a mental hospital in this case, but I decided just to wait. Everything was gone in 1 month.

around 4 months later I decided to continue my practice, but much softer, trying to avoid any inner tension and reducing the length of meditations (45 mins in the  morning, 30 mins in the evening). And after 7 months IT started again! But not so harsh, as one year ago. I still feel quite weird, but it's more or less OK. I stopped the practice.

Dear meditators, what am I doing wrong? Do you have any advices?

mobius

  • Member
    • vipassana
Re: Strange mental discomfort after 2-year of practice anapana meditation
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2020, 11:02:57 PM »
I'm afraid I don't have much useful to say other than: there are many types of meditation and not all seem to work for everyone. It took me a few months to find one that worked for me. And to avoid the sort of things you describe here.
My layman simple answer is that maybe you're meditating too much. Some say 'there is no too much' but that may be so for some people, but idk about others. Too much of anything isn't good imo.

As these types of posts seem to be somewhat common (on this forum at least)
I hope this sort of thing is something that begins to get addressed by meditation communities in a more complete manner in some form or another. So far books I've looked at and channels on youtube etc; only touch on these things a little bit. But apparently this is a major issue and I hope everyone begins to get a better understanding of it in the future and/so have better answers and advice for people like us.

I can say, on a positive note; while there may be bad times like you describe for one reason or another; there can be really great times. Even after I experienced some rather disturbing things, multiple times, I later experienced wonderful things.
For me at least, in the long run, its been worth it.  :) Like climbing a mountain or losing weight (or any major challenge) there's ups and downs and it may be painful at times; but if you get great rewards it's worth the pain
"Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away."
-Hakuin Ekaku

"I have seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it has never come to pass" - Mark Twain

Dhamma

  • Member
  • May we all fulfill our deepest wish for happiness
    • I take from all Buddhist schools + some yogic schools
Re: Strange mental discomfort after 2-year of practice anapana meditation
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2020, 01:20:58 AM »
@ OP: I am so sorry this has happened to you and is happening again, though a bit less intensely.

First of all, we all have mental illness, unless we're highly enlightened.  Now, of course, there is mental illness which is debilitating and dangerous.  But, again, we all have some form of mental illness; in fact, our delusions are mental illness in and of themselves.

Panic attacks are from an overactive mind, no matter how bad they become. You're simply overreacting. When my anxiety is super high, I get feelings that everything is closing in on me, and actual objects actually appear "smaller" than they actually are (houses, buildings, etc.).  It's terribly frightening and I think I am going crazy (but I never do as it's just a crazy monkey mind LOL). I have less of it these days, but it still grips me at times. I'm fine with it, I tell myself; I accept it. The mind knows if you accept or reject. Buddhism requires us to accept all feelings and sensations. The reason why horrible anxiety, depression and panic attacks holds our heads under water is because we cling to the rejection of the terrible feelings and sensations.

I think all meditation that is supported by a strong lineage (Yogi, Buddhist) leads to the end of suffering, if practiced correctly. One must understand that the fruits of meditation are not all received in a short time; in fact, we can have periods of strong darkness over us many times in our Buddhist path, even when we are practicing most seriously with a teacher. We're highly delusional as people. Our egos and our wrong views set us back immensely. We fall in the rabbit hole, even when we're meditating. We believe our thoughts have inherent value; we cling to the "self" and other external phenonoma.

Meditation sessions are not about feeling good, but rather seeing ultimate reality for what it really is. Slowly but surely, we become freer and freer from suffering as we see ultimate reality.  For sure it's great when meditation sessions are peaceful, but they also can be most unpleasant.  When the darkness comes over us, we stay grounded in the body. We feel darkness in our body and observe. Don't forget you have a body when the darkness and delusions come over you. Make your body your home. Stay focused on where the negative emotions are in the body. Watch it shift, watch its intensity. This prevents us from yielding to loop-like thinking (like a mouse on a wheel) and going into greater fantasy in your mind. Yes, it's hard to stay grounded in the body when the crazy monkey mind starts. But you can do it. Embrace the terrible suffering. Do not reject it. Welcome it, be present with it, and let it be.

Tibetan visualization meditations are also good (see Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's videos). You may want to try some (mind is like the sky; be a mother to yourself).

Don't forget that meditation is not everything, though it's still crucial. You must truly study and understand concepts such as no-self, emptiness, love and compassion for yourself and others, etc.  Practice walking meditation as well and do physical exercises like Tsa-Lung (a form of Tibetan yoga) or Hindu yogi yoga. We cannot neglect our bodies as body and mind work together.  I think some schools of Buddhism fail on this point (not all, though). And perhaps stop sitting for so long of a time in vipassana (1 hour and 15 minutes is perhaps just too long for you now).

One more thing: I've said this before on another post. Severely mentally ill people should not meditate without the guidance of a respected Buddhist/yogi teacher.  Depression and severe anxiety don't count as psychosis, even though they can be horribly debilitating. I am talking exclusively about schizophrenia, depression with real suicide contemplation, severe bipolarism, etc.

May you, friend, fulfill your deepest wish: to be free from all suffering.


With much, much love and metta,
Dhamma
« Last Edit: March 22, 2020, 01:30:02 AM by Dhamma »
You are already Buddha

 

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