Author Topic: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?  (Read 7848 times)

ant

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beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« on: March 07, 2010, 09:33:03 AM »
hi,

(first sorry for my bad english, i m not nativ speaker).

i just started sitting meditation some weeks ago. before i did yoga for some years and also some breathing-walking-meditation.
i try to sit everyday for about 20 minutes. some days ago i also downloaded an mp3 of a guided breath awearness meditation (it is called anapanasati), which works quiet good for me.

yesterday i was having some troubles (not connested with meditation) and i was feeling very sad and cryed a bit and i was wondering if it would be all right to meditate at this moment. i started to but then after about 10 minutes somebody disturbed me and i did something else then.

now my question to those of you who have some more experiences then me and maybe also more theoretical background:
how are your experiences with these kind of moments in connection with meditation. should one better wait and do something else till one is more calm and is not feeling so sad anymore in order to meditate?
or is it a good idea to meditate when one is feeling sad and like crying?

and what is with the moments when one is feeling very very good, if not to say too good or manic, would it be ok to sit in order to calm down or should one wait till one feels more balanced  / do some sports or whatever first ?

and another question: my legs mostly go to sleep when i m sitting in half lotus.
should i sit in another position then?
or is it unavoidable?
or should i just go on practicing in half lotus and after a while they will not go numb anymore?

thanks for your help!

Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2010, 04:42:26 PM »
dear ant,

Welcome to the forum and welcome to the meditative journey. Its good you have decided to sit for 20 mins everyday. Daily practice is the most important thing in bringing about change within and therefore without.

Whenever you feel like crying, cry. Its a good way to release the all the clutter inside. Once you have cried and have calmed down, you can sit for meditation.

And whenever you feel sad, or excited you can and should sit for meditation. You need not wait for the mind to get balanced. Afterall the end result of your practice is a balanced mind, so how can this be a pre-requisite to sit?

Just the other day I was feeling a little sad, low for some reason. I meditated for an hour and in the end I got up feeling so peaceful, happy. I had a smile on my face. Meditation actually gives you that clarity.

Make the best use of this wonderful forum to streghten your practice. May you get the best results out of your practice!

Warmly,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

ant

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2010, 07:54:11 PM »
thank cristal palace for your answer.
its probably best to try and not to overdo it, i guess. i must admit i might be a bit too carefull (about whats "ggod" and whats not.), because i ve heard that meditation , especially without the guidance of a teacher, can be dangerous (psychosis can develop). on the other hand i ve also heard that the influence a teacher has can be dangerous as well for the same reason. since i dont know anybody who meditates for a long time, i decidede to give it a try without teacher. but this forum is really helpfull. thanks again.

do you also have experiences with sleeping legs?

bye

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2010, 07:42:20 AM »
ant,

Welcome to the form. I can only agree with what Crystal Palace said. Crying is actually something to be expected on the path.

Regarding numb legs there are things you can do. Sit on a couple of firm folded blankets to lift your bum four - six inches or so off the floor and this might stop you from trapping the blood supply (possibly the cause). Your knees and bum then make a firm tripod for you to sit on but are not so cramped as when sitting o the floor.

Warm regards,

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

Morning Dew

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2010, 07:03:49 PM »
because i ve heard that meditation , especially without the guidance of a teacher, can be dangerous (psychosis can develop).


Is this true?

Thanks

Renze

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2010, 07:53:17 PM »
because i ve heard that meditation , especially without the guidance of a teacher, can be dangerous (psychosis can develop).


Is this true?

Thanks

Yes, especially if you already have a higher risk of psychosis (schizophrenia etc.) it's usually advised not to start meditating. I have personally felt a big imbalance/high energy levels in my brain the last few days. I felt like going insane so I'm going to take it easy for a moment.

Morning Dew

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2010, 08:58:11 PM »
Hi Renze :-)

What kind of meditation do you practice and how many hours do you do per day? More info highly apreciated :-)

I my self was in a very similar kind of agitated and uneasy feeling and after I started daily morning Ki-breathing my Mind and Body seemed to become leveled a bit (not to say unified, just yet ;-). Ki-breathing is known for its 'cleansing' abilities and is utilised by many respected Aikidokas. Not more than half an hour a day is recomanded, I do 20-25, started with 15 minutes for a whole month).

I came here to learn to observe all there is in within and without through Viapassana. I am still not sure what this technique is but intend to try it and see :-)

BTW, can one become energised (gain more energy) by doing Vipassana. With Ki-breathing one can. Sorry coming from Qigong background :-)

Stay relaxed.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2010, 08:58:55 PM »
because i ve heard that meditation , especially without the guidance of a teacher, can be dangerous (psychosis can develop).


Is this true?

Thanks

Yes, especially if you already have a higher risk of psychosis (schizophrenia etc.) it's usually advised not to start meditating. I have personally felt a big imbalance/high energy levels in my brain the last few days. I felt like going insane so I'm going to take it easy for a moment.

This is very unlikely if you are following the basic calming breathing technique and are not focussing too intently - it is a question of being honest and gentle with yourself, taking time and acting to overcome negative habits.

Also be aware that meditation may bring to the surface long buried trauma that has been repressed as a defence mechanism. It is important that you have a strong social support system with good friends and supportive connections you can rely on if you are going to start meditating and have mental health issues. This way anything that arises in meditation can be discussed with someone you trust.

Meditation comes from the same Latin root as Medicine, "medicare". Medicine heals the body - when done right. Meditation heals body and mind - when done right.

Notably there are many forms of psychotherapy being developed and worked with that include a specific meditation component - and these are generally showing better results than the same forms of psychotherapy without the meditation component.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: March 11, 2010, 09:03:07 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2010, 09:00:53 PM »
BTW, can one become energised (gain more energy) by doing Vipassana. With Ki-breathing one can. Sorry coming from Qigong background :-)

Morning Dew,

The answer is yes. It takes a lot of energy for your brain to run wild like a tiger. Once tamed you have more energy for other things.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

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

Renze

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2010, 10:01:42 PM »
Hi Renze :-)

What kind of meditation do you practice and how many hours do you do per day? More info highly apreciated :-)

I my self was in a very similar kind of agitated and uneasy feeling and after I started daily morning Ki-breathing my Mind and Body seemed to become leveled a bit (not to say unified, just yet ;-). Ki-breathing is known for its 'cleansing' abilities and is utilised by many respected Aikidokas. Not more than half an hour a day is recomanded, I do 20-25, started with 15 minutes for a whole month).

I came here to learn to observe all there is in within and without through Viapassana. I am still not sure what this technique is but intend to try it and see :-)

BTW, can one become energised (gain more energy) by doing Vipassana. With Ki-breathing one can. Sorry coming from Qigong background :-)

Stay relaxed.

Dear Morning Dew,

I started with Vipassana, about 30 minutes every day. At first I just felt very energized after a session, which resulted in hyperactivity (I have ADHD, but am normally not hyperactive).

6 months ago I started focussing primarily on Samatha meditation, after getting the first glimpses of the Nimitta. I now sit for 1 hour every day, and during the weekend I sit for 4 hours total.

I'm not sure if the symptoms I feel now are caused by meditation, because I have felt them before (back when I wasn't meditating yet). I feel very impulsive and hyperactive. I also have feelings of grandeur, and quite heavy mood swings. It sounds a lot like bipolar disorder, I might have to see a psychiatrist again sometime :)

atomjack

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2010, 02:41:30 AM »
Renze, any depression and anxiety symptoms I've had have lessened to a significant degree since practicing awareness. It allows me to watch my mood and my thoughts while not getting attached to them. It made me realize how many negative thoughts I habitually think through out the day and the effect those thoughts have on my mood. Through meditation, I've gotten better at catching in those thoughts before any emotional attachment can take place, slowly changing the habit of negative thinking. I am not sure why you are feeling what you are feeling, then again, while I've felt many changes since I've started practicing meditation, I still consider myself a beginner.

Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2010, 07:35:04 AM »
because i ve heard that meditation , especially without the guidance of a teacher, can be dangerous (psychosis can develop).


Is this true?

Thanks

Yes, especially if you already have a higher risk of psychosis (schizophrenia etc.) it's usually advised not to start meditating.


I do not think the guidance of a physical teacher present is required to start meditation even if a person has mental health issues.

As long as a person is sane, honest (unbiased towards oneself), and takes it slow and steady he is ready to undertake the task of meditation. Then the teacher can be in any form. It can be the words of the Buddha, a Dhamma talk or even plain common sense.

In fact, mental health problems are all the more reason to start the task of meditation. And people with such issues have the wonderful oppurtunity to express their problems over here in this forum - better than discussing with their friends or family.

The important thing is to practice a lot Shamatha before starting Vipassana - that way a person can ease himself into the practice of Vipassana so even if mental trauma does arise one is able to deal with it skillfully.

Regards,
CP
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2010, 07:40:46 AM »
Dear Renze,

It may be that your meditation feels like hyperactivity or over-energised because it is freeing your mind up. There is a lot of energy rattling round your head that used to be doing other stuff. This energy can also be tamed in meditation. With every breath you breath aware of the whole bodily breathing experience and calm and relax the body. A relaxed body will relax the mind naturally.

Also don't forget to take your mindfulness off the cushion where it really counts. When the hyperactive feelings or feelings of grandeur hit that is a good time to return to the breath and calm yourself.

Finally I would suggest that what I said above about having some good trusting relationships with people you can talk to about anything that arises in meditation holds true. The sorts of reactions and psychological symptoms you are experiencing could be related to very strong barriers relating to some form of trauma in your early years. If so and if you recall this you will want to have people to go to.

My personal  experience is that a great deal of childhood trauma has been released by practice. It was important and fortunate for me that I was in a supportive environment and had someone to talk to whom I trusted. When I stop meditating my coping skills decrease. When I have a regular practice they are boosted strongly.

Sometimes I still hit an edge where there are strong feelings such as you have described. Meditation seems to be the best antidote after many years of experience.

Rather than seeing a psychiatrist I wonder if it would benefit you more to form a relationship with a psychotherapist you see on a regular basis. The root cause of most mental imbalance is suppressed material in the unconscious:

- Meditation will bring it out.
- Regular psychotherapy gives you a space to process that which comes up.

- Psychiatry on the other hand is likely to give you a label leading to prescription of mind altering chemical - which might address some of the symptoms but is unlikely to help you deal with underlying causes.

As I said above many psychological therapies are now practised using a mindfulness component (usually missing a calm-abiding component). Despite the lack of calm-abiding these therapies are showing greater benefit than the plain vanilla counterparts.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

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

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2010, 07:49:22 AM »
I do not think the guidance of a physical teacher present is required to start meditation even if a person has mental health issues.

....

The important thing is to practice a lot Shamatha before starting Vipassana - that way a person can ease himself into the practice of Vipassana so even if mental trauma does arise one is able to deal with it skillfully.

CP,

Very true.  The lack of Shamatha or calm abiding is why persons with mental health issues who start Vipassana or insight meditation sometimes hit nasty roadblocks.

I can not overemphasise how under-estimated Shamatha practice is. And it is a practice of awake relaxation, calming, learning to live in one's body. this is why it is an effective intervention for mental health issues. Anapana at the nose is not, however, a good form of Shamatha for anyone with mental health issues. The Shamatha should be as described in the Maha-Satipatthana Sutta:

Quote
"There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore [lit: the front of the chest]. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. He trains himself to breathe in calming bodily fabrication and to breathe out calming bodily fabrication.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

Matthew

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

Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2010, 07:54:44 AM »

When I stop meditating my coping skills decrease.


This is very true.

Regular Meditation keeps the mind in check regularly. Even when I stop practicing meditation for a few days, I sense a lathargy creeps into the mind. And it becomes easier to lose one's equanimity and then get subjected to all the forces in the world that take away one's mindfulness. At the end of the day when I go to sleep, I feel incomplete and discontented. Quite the opposite is true when I practice meditation and remain mindful off the cushion throught the day.

This led me to conclude that daily meditation is a must even if I had great retreat experiences. My guess is that this is perhaps the same reason that the Buddha meditated daily, even after achieving Buddhahood.

Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2010, 08:21:43 AM »
The relationship between fear and the rational mind.

The Bomb in the Brain Part 4 - The Death of Reason - The Effects of Child Abuse

When you are hitting these walls of overwhelming energy what often lays behind them is fear. Meditation increases the size and activity in the frontal cortex and the anterior cingulate (which does allow the frontal cortex to overcome the signals being sent out by the Amydala. This gives you the strength of mind to break through the conditioned responses of the Amygdala). By calming the body in proper Shamatha one calms the Amygdala. The Amygdala is an old part of the brain which jumps into action quicker than rational mind an controls flight/fight responses. By calming it and strengthening the frontal cortex over time, slowly as your bodymind allows, you will reprogram the childhood patterns of reaction embedded in the Amygdala.

Watch the four part series here - nearly three hours of informative research.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 10:22:52 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Morning Dew

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2010, 09:28:21 AM »
Thank you all for such lovely replies. This helps tremendously.
So I guess I am to start with Shamatha then :-)



Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2010, 05:24:59 PM »
Matthew,

Why do you say that anapana at the nose is not a good idea for those with mental health issues?

Warmly,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Renze

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    • Ungrounded
    • No hope
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2010, 05:47:45 PM »
Thank you all for such lovely replies. This helps tremendously.
So I guess I am to start with Shamatha then :-)




I second this! Thanks for the enormous support. :)

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2010, 06:24:36 PM »
Matthew,

Why do you say that anapana at the nose is not a good idea for those with mental health issues?

Warmly,
Crystal Palace

CP,

The scientific basis is in this post:

http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,688.msg5460.html#msg5460

Fundamentally mental health issues are mostly caused by early trauma and dissociation. Rejoining body and mind through meditation works well with whole body breathing awareness. The neurology/physiological effects of Anapana at the nose does not make it a good tool for meditation for people with mental health issues as it may heighten their disembodiment.

Body breathing awareness meditation fully activates several important neurological systems related to trauma response and physiology. It also calms the over-active Cortisol system that has been found to be a common factor in such mental health issues.

This is also important because if your Cortisol system is running at 110% 24/7 you will not be able to produce enough Vitamin D for your immune system to be working. Both Cortisol and Vitamin D are produced from cholesterol. An overactive Cortisol production leaves not enough cholesterol for vitamin D production - the body favours the Cortisol production as this is a base reptilian survival system - even if it's completely out of whack as a result of experiences that causes the mental health issue. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, seasonal affective disorder, schizophrenia and a number of other mental health diagnoses.

Psychiatry is not medicine. It's important to remember this. Medicine finds things that can be shown to cause disease. Psychiatry bunches together a number of behavioural "symptoms", puts a label on it then sends you to the chemist. But there is no test, nothing under the microscope they can show you as a causal agent. There are sometimes/often changes in body chemistry associated with mental ill health but these are a result of the mental health issues - and not causative - in the vast majority cases.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

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

elliberto

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2010, 07:51:10 PM »
Very interesting information TIB!
Have been reading up on your posts about shamatha and vipassana (been trying to figure out their differences en relation to eachother) for the few weeks I'm on this board now.
And this bomb in the brain series seems to put this in a logical & scientific context, which I like :D

Morning Dew

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Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2010, 09:23:12 PM »
Thanks for the Cortisol vs. D-vitamin info it opened another window into how complexed we are and truly amazing. Pitty our minds are in such low vibrational level. I feel our Body is much more inteligent than our Mind is. I mean when cut our body can heal without us telling it to do so  :D

Quote
Rejoining body and mind through meditation works well with whole body breathing awareness.

If you don't mind to elaborate this a bit more; when you say whole body breathing awareness ... do you actualy travel mentaly (visualisation) following the breath through your entire body in and out? Is there any kind of visualisation taking place here or do you simply breathe in and out as blending in the Universe around you and inside of you ... becoming the Universe it self ?

Thank you!

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.
Re: beginners questions: meditation when sad? numb legs?
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2010, 09:43:39 PM »
Quote
Rejoining body and mind through meditation works well with whole body breathing awareness.

If you don't mind to elaborate this a bit more

Your questions about how to practice have already been answered. I was merely using a short term for the explanation given. Did I mention visualisation in my explanation? No. You have to FEEL your body as you breathe and RELAX/CALM your body as you breathe.

Anything else is fabrication. Visualisation is fabrication. Forcing a silent mind is fabrication. Breath and feel and be. When you get caught in thoughts return attention to the breath. You have to do this a lot.

Read my signature below:

FABRICATE NOTHING

It's time to meditate.

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 10:13:18 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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