Author Topic: Old vipassana student, still suffering from long-term tension, what to do?  (Read 24388 times)

MEDITAT0R

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Dear experienced teachers, meditators and others,

I started Vipassana 6 years ago and took about 15 courses until now, long courses. I even meditated almost consequently 2 hrs/ a day beside the courses.
In the last courses I found out that I am still working with a lot of tension. Especially in the lower abdomen area, there is a constant 'knot' like a fist. Due to this my breath cannot really flow, and it is sometimes hard to observe breathing or sensation at all.
Also in my daily life and even in lying or sleeping, this pressure often manifests itself. It is a reason that I am mostly still quite restless and that I have only very rare moments when I feel relaxed present and well.
I started working more with anapana and also meditating in lying. But I'm becoming more desperate with the situation, and it is very hard to just accept this very strong and very disagreable sensation as it is manifesting itself for years!
The ATs I asked - and I asked many, you can believe me - couldn't really help me. Advices like 'be happy, smile' or 'relax' just frustrate me even more, because that's what I have been trying for years!
Massages help me some time, but I cannot get massage every day and I would really like to treat the problem at the root level.
Still, in good moments I can admit that I made progresses the last 6 years and changed a lot.
Only, seeing all the happy faces i.e. on metta days and still feeling so much pressure myself is sometimes really hard.
I just do not really find the point where and how I can take the pressure out. Concentration is still very weak. And there are a lot of doubts if Vipassana is really the right means for my present situation and if I shouldn't meditate on other objects that are i.e. more gross.
 When sadness comes up, it gives me some relief from the tension (means by weeping), and I also regard drowsiness sometimes rather as a friend as it relaxes me. Even when I fall asleep short times in meditation, after that it is much easier to continue working in a more relaxed way.
What could you advice me? Are there meditators who made similar experiences - what helped you? And are there teachers (of whatever tradition) who could give me a hint how I could get out of the viscious circle of trying to reduce pressure by pressure?
I would really appreciate help at the moment after having worked a long time almost on my own. I really wish to lead a happier, dhammic life with more peace and less tension, but it seems as if my sankharas (the accumulations of the past)  would turn out to be massive hindrances to achieve this.

thank you very much for practical advices apart feom 'observe it' or 'relax'.
metta - a meditator.

unprevadedrapture

  • Guest
so far as the suttas say, you can't eradicate sankaras till stream entry. the buddha said "go do jhana," which means not just objective observation, but feeling the breath energy and spreading it how you need to feel to deepen concentration. This should help you meditate longer. consider method 2: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html the buddha also taught inquiry, contemplation, and intellectual discernment throughout the suttas. have you considered seeing a doctor? yoga? also consider writing to the abbot of wat metta.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2010, 07:53:43 PM by unprevadedrapture »

Matthew

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Welcome to the forums.

Pay close attention to how you initiate turning movements of your body. It should begin with the eyes moving in the direction you will turn, the head follows and pulls the neck round. Feel if there are imbalances/asymmetries in your movements.

If there are then seeing a very well qualified Alexander technique practitioner could help you literally "unwind". It all starts with the neck this kind of tension. Pay close attention to movements of your head, find any asymmetry and deal with it - the rest of the body will follow in due course.

Meditation: Personally I do not recommend Anapana at the nose, or body scanning, for someone who is clearly as caught in tension and suffering as you - even after such a long established practice. I recommend whole-body-breathing Shamatha for your meditation, feeling the whole body breathe in and relax, and the whole body breathe out and relax. It directly influences the instinctual levels of the brain and sends a powerful signal through the Vagus nerve that:

EVERYTHING IS OK

Warmly, in the Dhamma,

Matthew
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Jhananda

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Hello meditator, I am sorry to read of your difficulties with practicing Vipassana meditation (tm).  One of the many things that meditation teachers and priests seem to not get is the contemplative life is more than just endlessly practicing meditation techniques.  In fact too often in religion we find people burying their neuroses under a mountain of religeousity and/or meditation techniques.  The contemplative life is about self-awareness, not just practicing endless meditation.  So, do work on moment-to-moment self-awareness.  While doing so observe how you store tension and respond to tress.  See, if you  can relax throughout the day, and not respond to stress by becoming tense.  Instead, when you detect stress, see if you  can release it in the moment.

atomjack

  • Guest
I have found that what Matthew suggests, breathing with the body, has improved relaxation within my practice. When breathing with the body, I slowly notice the tension breaking down and I can feel the relaxation taking over after every breath. When I focused on a sensation within my nose or upper lip, it was a lot more difficult for me to relax. The technique is just one of the many valuable things I'm thankful for since I've started reading this forum.

MEDITAT0R

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Hi, thank you for your remarks! The last one seems the most encouraging to me. I also made the experience that I can sometimes relax rather more when doing breath observation on stomach area or whole body instead of concentrating on the area below the nose as taught in Anapana.
By breathing with the whole body, do you mean conscious breathing or just observation?
As to Yoga and Alexander Technique, I tried it already and consulted physicians some years ago, too - they discoverd an imbalance in the diaphragm area (which is in my opinion the result of this tension). As I mentioned many efforts I undertook to get relief turned sometimes just into more pressure.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2010, 05:05:41 AM by MEDITAT0R »

Matthew

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MEDIAT0R

Read this post for instructions on the technique atomjack is referring to. It answers your questions well:

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

The imbalance in your diaphragm is a result of a whole body imbalance and I can promise you that if you pay close attention to your head movements and correct asymmetry it will help. I knew you would have that too. The knot in your stomach is the Psoas muscle in chronic tension on the opposite to the side of your diaphragm that is dysfunctional. The sternal attachment of your Sternocleidomastoid muscle on that opposite side is probably weak or non functioning and the upper Trapezius too - which is where correcting head movements will set you straight. You probably have a slightly dislocated atlas (twisted to one side). The knot in the stomach told me all this.

Warmly,

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

MEDITAT0R

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Hi, thanks again for your posts. I appreciate the practical ones, like the samatha meditation or alexander technique. I tried out the Samatha and might meet a Alexander-teacher which whom I worked in the past. I'm not sure if analysis is helping me and don't think it might be a precise analysis by just reading my post about the problems without meting me personally.
Are there any experienced Vipassana meditators who have/ had similar problems and how do you cope with it or come out of it? Or assistant teachers which did already encounter similar problems on their students? I would appreciate very much if you could post your experiences, thanks!
I'm open for new techniques but do not want to throw in the towel completely with Vipassana - it helped me the last years, and as it helped so many other people that I have no doubt it is very beneficial - it could just be that at the moment and for my present state it is not the right thing.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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If you read the sign up agreement you will know this forum is not affiliated with S.N. Goenka's Vipassana International. You won't get AT's answering your questions here.

What you will get is a variety of responses from people who practice various forms of Shamatha Vipassana meditation.

Read the post I linked above. I suspect that much of your time in meditation is spent in self hypnosis. Don't need to meet you to know this or analyse certain aspects of your presentation accurately. It's in the words you write.

The Vipassana you have been practicing is a raft that will only take you so far. You will have to change rafts if you want to reach the other shore. How do I know this? Goenka is an overweight, indulgent sell out - and not a Buddha.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: April 27, 2010, 07:29:36 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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Morning Dew

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I am not an experianced meditator (only about 7 month now) but I feel like saying that I kind of felt much better sitting in Seiza japanese style. It literarly keeps my head, neck, back straight without any tension at all and the lower abdomen kind of naturaly falls into the stomach cavity making abdomen bearthing very relaxed  :)  Seiza is hard on the leggs though in the beggining but I started with short sessions like 10 minutes and than every week I would up it for 5 more minutes until I reached 30-35 minutes per sitting.

I never ever encountered anyone I know (aikido folk) who had back problems the ones Buddhists experiance.

One can also sit even more confortable in Seiza by fixing a few pillows under the but, the way we ride a horse. Like this we releave the preasure from the leggs.

You might try it and see how it goes  :)  in Seiza you can only create numb leggs  ;D  but your lower abdomen area will enjoy it!

I also recomand whole body breathing, in and relax, out and relax.

Quote
By breathing with the whole body, do you mean conscious breathing or just observation?

I like to feel the every moment of the breathing as the ultimate simple reality of the every moment. I do not conceptualise it but feel it rather as I would feel wind or sunshine on my face.
In the beggining you might feel your mind WANTING to cling onto some sort of conditioned focal spot (anapana, Dantien), but be patiante and observe it the way you would observe any other thought which comes up, by simply letting go and going back to relaxed all over body breathing so to stay in the actual moment as it Is.

 :)

Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition

How do I know this? Goenka is an overweight, indulgent sell out - and not a Buddha.


I disagree. He may be overweight, but not indulgent and definitely not a sell out. These are strong opinions you have Matthew, and I can only hope you are 100% sure of what you say.

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

Buddha

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Crystal,

It is hard to say someone is overweight to the obvious extent that Mr Goenka is and not indulgent. The two do not mix.

When I say he is a sell out I am referring to the fact that as his regular business he will personally only lead meditation retreats on a regular basis only for rich businessmen who can pay a large fee.

These are not opinions but facts. I'm not meaning to offend yet if someone is offended by facts then that says more about the person and their attachments than the facts.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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soma

  • Guest
Even if Goenka is indulgent, this is just one particular character flaw which means he is not perfect.
You said, Matthew, in the 'Sharing Experiences' thread that,
Quote
Though I feel strongly as an EX-Shambhallian that Chogyam Trungpa fell off the wagon (in terms of drinking and Dhamma) I can still see he contributed much wisdom in his days.

Well, could it not also be said of Goenka that although he might be indulgent he still have opened over a hundred meditation centres all over the world where you can go on an intensive meditation retreat and be fed and have roof over your head absolutely free of charge ?

There are alot of people entering the world of meditation and perhaps also Dhamma through his centres.
I know that his Dhamma might be 'corrupted' but his discourses are very general and will do any beginner more good than harm and Goenka is not the final station but often the first.

I do not feel that I need to defend him and I do not follow him or his technique but I benefited a great deal from my 10 day course and can not understand the enormous hostility against him. The qritique is much too often emotionally charged .


Sorry, MEDITATOR, did not mean to hijack your thread and this is my first and last post on the topic of pro/contra Goenka  :)
« Last Edit: April 27, 2010, 12:59:15 PM by soma »

Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition

When I say he is a sell out I am referring to the fact that as his regular business he will personally only lead meditation retreats on a regular basis only for rich businessmen who can pay a large fee.


Dear Matthew,

You've made this point once before as well and now, as then, I would like to ask you to cite any one instance where a large fee was paid by rich people for a meditation retreat.

If you can establish this fact as you claim it is, I will withdraw my argument.

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

Buddha

MEDITAT0R

  • Guest
Dear Friends,
I am looking for practical advice. Now, this goes into a direction which I don't like, it rather seems a feud between different techniques. I am deeply respect- and grateful towards Goenka and am 100% convinced that there is no financial interest behind it - since all is on donation base (whereas many other traditions charge, at least for lodging and food).
Goenkaji himself doesn't judge other traditions and would never call other teachers 'indulgent'.
So, dear Matthew, your good advices concerning Psoas muscle and Samatha get a little bad aftertaste with that remark - I think we should treat each other and all other ways and traditions with respect and tolerance.

atomjack

  • Guest
Feel free to be proud and supportive of your experiences with Goenka meditation, but getting defensive will solve nothing. Most likely, you are not going to convince Matthew of anything. The best thing to do is to offer a piece of advice that might help MEDITATORS problem. When people take offense and become defensive by simple meaningless words, they have the potential to feel that way all of the time, living a life of agony.

soma

  • Guest
When people take offense and become defensive by simple meaningless words, they have the potential to feel that way all of the time, living a life of agony.


What !?  :o
Are we not coming here to feed our 'pain-bodies' ?

Yes, you are right, the best thing would be to remain silent but did you not yourself just react to simple, meaningless words ?
One can learn alot from all these simple meaningless words if noting everything that happens here through the cycles of pain and suffering. Dhamma in action right under your nose.  :D

atomjack

  • Guest
I did not react, I responded with a point where if someone says "Your teacher of choice is a big fat jerk!" and someone else says, "Your teacher of choice is doing great things!" Neither one should control how you feel.

MEDITAT0R

  • Guest
Friends,
stop it please.
For discussion about who Goenka is and if 'his' Vipassana is 'good', or for comparing methods, please open a new thread.
I'm suffering from tension and looking for a way out of it. This is the purpose of this discussion and might be beneficial for others to.
So: If you want to share experiences or give practical advice as happened until now - you are warmly welcome to write posts.
Thanks!

soma

  • Guest
You already mentioned that you have tried yoga so I guess that includes chakra breathing.
If not you can try this
While doing this you can visualise the colour orange.
There are probably better links than the one I provided but it is worth a try if you have not already tried it.

Otherwise chakra breathing can be basically breath in deeply and breath out deeply while focusing on 2nd chakra (is that it?-lower abdomen) and visualise the colour orange. Very simple but effective.

Lokuttara

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I can just smile at how these threads always turn into arguments for and against Goenkaji!

For the record, I would agree with what Matthew said about the full-body breathing - provided you are able to feel sensations on all/most parts of the body. This really helps, especially if you can remain equanimous with what is manifesting. Go part by part if the body is dull and there is a lot of pain, and then try full body breathing, as described by the Buddha in Satipathanna sutta. Just observe :)

Be peaceful. Send metta, and no need to antagonise like we are all parts of various sects!

"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

Morning Dew

  • Guest
I think I now understand J. Krishnamurti's teachings thanks to all what is going on in here.

I wish you all love and peace  :)

Remain relaxed and thanks for all the tips

unprevadedrapture

  • Guest
to inquire beyond physical sensations, and develop right concentration, is extremely practical.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
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MEDITAT0R,

Please pay attention to the suggestions I made for your practice. This is the important aspect of what I have written. The advices are good ones and will be helpful to you. I will split this thread if you wish and remove the Goenka discussion to another thread. Please let me know.

If you practice the whole body breathing it will be very beneficial to your current situation, as described in the posts linked to from above.

A number of people have found it a transformative change in practice to work with. You will only know for yourself if you give it a try. If you do and you have questions I will of course be available to assist in any way I can.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 12:50:23 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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mik1e

  • Guest
Hi,

It seems that you have serious problems with your body posture and mind. E.g., you may have habitual stress in some point of your body and you are unaware of it, or you are constantly thinking about something. Unfortunately, it is impossible to correct such things by reading advises (even very good ones) -- here you need specific advices addressing your specific problems.

To check and correct the body posture I can suggest to look at this technique: http://esosci.com/page/flatback . Straight spine and neck may solve a lot of your problems, if not all. But to provide more specific advises it is necessary to see what you are doing during the practice. I know that Matthew will object this and insist on written advises only, but I am sure that they will be useless in your case (unfortunately).