Author Topic: Restlessness  (Read 2313 times)

Jimmy Coconuts

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Restlessness
« on: October 22, 2007, 11:20:31 PM »
Restlessness can be a real drag.  I can't even count the times I've been sitting and my mind has drifted off to thoughts of things I needed to get done when I finished with my sit.

I have an old cell phone that doesn't get service anymore and I will use that as my meditation timer.  If I am feeling very restless I will sometimes convince myself that I had set it incorrectly and after some time I just can't stop myself from opening my eyes to see if I've passed my scheduled end time.

What are some of your experiences with restlessness?

-J

Fritz-the-Cat

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Re: Restlessness
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2007, 01:35:49 AM »
Jimmy,

I do almost the same thing!  I have a cell phone I use as a timer.  I like it because I can change the ringer to a "chime" and after 30 minutes, a chime sounds to end my meditation.  However, I too find myself at times constantly checking the phone to see if I have set the timer correctly.  Some nights my meditation is seemingly futile.  My mind wanders over the day I just had, the day to come and the days that have passed.  Everything seems to distract me.  The sound of the cat running across the floor or the feeling of him rubbing up against me as I sit. 

Then, there are other times when I feel my sitting is spot-on.  I see sitting as cumulative.  The more I sit, the less frequent the wandering times will be.  So far, that has proven to be true.  I do have to keep reminding myself prior to sitting that craving the spot-on meditation rather than the wandering mind is, well....craving. 

Over all, even when I sit with my mind wandering, I still feel I am getting results.

Keep at it!

Blessings!
Fred

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Re: Restlessness
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2007, 06:39:18 AM »
Hi Jimmy and welcome back.

You are right - restlessness can be a drag. On a basic level it is worth remembering that even restless meditation is still meditation. Getting you self to the cushion is the hardest part of being a meditator.

There is quite an art to finding the mid point to meditation technique whereby it is not so tight you are suppressing thoughts and not so loose you are getting caught up in them. If you try and hold yourself too tight during sitting this can turn into a form of self hypnosis - whereby one does not consciously have thoughts but is using huge amounts of energy to maintain this position. This does not lead either to calm-abiding or to insight. On the other hand getting caught up in long strings of thoughts all the time makes the meditation less effective, feel like a drag and even irritating which - as you rightly say can be a drag.

You mention sitting with your eyes closed. A good technique to try is to sit with your eyes open and with your gaze focussed on a point on the floor about three feet in front of you. A running mind can be encouraged by having your eyes closed. If your mind is wandering too much you can bring your gaze more towards you and tighten up the technique by doing so. If you are falling asleep you can do the opposite and raise your gaze higher.

This also allows you to check the time on whatever clock you are using without disturbing the meditation so significantly as your eyes are already open and if you place the timing device on the floor to the side of your knee you can take a quick time check without completely changing from your meditation position. Also when you are finding that need to look at the time it is good practice to acknowledge that drive, look at it, examine it and like all thought see from where it arises and where it dissipates

Remember at the end of the day that meditation is about peace and insight. Without losing the discipline of getting to the cushion and practicing diligently, don't give yourself a hard time about this or any other aspect of your practice - for when you are giving yourself a hard time there is almost no better recipe for restless meditation.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: October 23, 2007, 06:43:40 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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Ben

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Re: Restlessness
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2007, 12:42:10 PM »
Dear Jimmy and all

I remember some sagely advice once mentioned to me when I was struggling with sloth and torpor ~
Every effort gives results!.  I'm not sure whether Goenkaji mentioned it, but it certainly has his style about it, and its true.  Even every pear-shaped sit is still worthwhile.

Restlessness (and remorse), uddhacca-kukkucca are one of the five hindrances that are to be overcome in our Dhamma practice.  The arising of restlessness can be seen as a sign of progress, but its a hurdle that has to be passed in order to develop samadhi which conditions panna (wisdom), or more rightly, bhavana-maya panna (penetrative insight that arises from practice).
My own remedy for restlessness is to summon adhitthana(strong determination), but at the same time, as Fred and TIB have noted, relax into the session.

Here's a good reference for overcoming the five hindrances which you may find useful in your own practice: The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest: Selected Texts from the Pali Canon and the Commentaries, Composed and compiled by Nyanaponika Thera: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html
Kind regards

Ben
 

Jimmy Coconuts

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Re: Restlessness
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2007, 03:25:07 PM »
Thanks for the advice and the link.