Author Topic: New to Meditation - Sort of an Introduction  (Read 2930 times)

Vaughny

New to Meditation - Sort of an Introduction
« on: May 26, 2010, 04:24:16 PM »

I have been working to learn some meditation techniques to calm and focus my mind after a very recent several-month bout with extreme anxiety (general, social) and multiple-times-per-week panic attacks.  At times my fear in these panic attacks has gotten so extreme that I have spent lots of time and money at the emergency room.  My general anxiety was such that I would literally walk around with shakiness and constant lightheadedness and prolonged sense of inability to make my body "go" anymore in terms of simple tasks like walking which seemed too strenuous for my heart to take.  I was in constant fear of the next panic attack and I developed a rather sudden agorophobia which I had never had experience with before.  (I had a panic attack in the car and for days I was unable to drive.)  I could barely go sit at my 5 year old daughter's baseball game because I got extremely uncomfortable with the "competitiveness" and the social atmosphere (both of which were minimal) and would start to get palpitations when it was her turn at bat.  I was supposed to enjoy this!  I am only 34 years old so these symptoms of "heart weakness" seemed abnormal and luckily EKG's, Echocardiograms, holter monitors, and lab work all reported completely normal.  But that's not the state my mind was in. 

Finally I had to get a grip on my anxiety state.  I went to a counselor a few weeks ago who suggested yoga and meditation.  I quickly absorbed everything I could on both.  One thing about someone with high anxiety is they tend to be excellent analyzers and compilers of data on topics.  I bought and read several books and websites and they keep leading me to more sources (such as this forum) where I can learn more about how to calm and focus the mind and process thoughts better.  I am still very early in the process of learning about these topics. 

I have started practicing basic yoga and meditation for the last two weeks.  I am reading Mindfulness in Plain English and have picked up Full Catastrophe Living.  I have gotten some books on restorative yoga and some of the moves such as Viparita Karani have been wonderfully relaxing and seem to be allowing me to make cumulative improvements to my well being and mainly to my confidence which was shot.

The meditation is somewhat difficult as expected.  I have been working on the breathing meditation and I am making progress at being able to keep my attention focused on my abdomen.  I now realize yoga is sort of a meditation and that seems to be easier for me.  I have also found some success in some forms of what seem to be meditation to me that I haven't read about anywhere.  Such as sitting in the shower in the morning and paying attention only to the water running in all directions off my head and down my body.   This has been a great morning addition to my day, whereas 2 months ago I would have spent this time worrying about all of the work I had to get done that day. 

I just wanted to write this as my introduction to the forum.  I have read some here over the last few days and decided to join today.  Already this new "lifestyle" with the inclusion of yoga and what I would currently describe as only moderately "successful" attempts at meditation I have calmed my mind to a unbelievably better place than I was even 2 weeks ago.  Last night I sat and enjoyed my daughter's baseball game with none of the typical lightheadedness or rapid pulse.     

I hope that if others have previous experiences with anxiety and panic that they could weigh in with things that have helped along the way.


Morning Dew

Re: New to Meditation - Sort of an Introduction
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2010, 07:19:45 PM »
Quote
I hope that if others have previous experiences with anxiety and panic that they could weigh in with things that have helped along the way.

Hallo friend  :) welcome to Vipassanaforum and good man for openning your self up  :)

I had very bad experiances with panic attacks. It would happen in public or in closed systems like a buss, and especialy in morning hours as soon I leave my home. I would get an instant pressure on my stomach and the next thing is I am flying to find a toalet to let the pressure out (No.2) This would be very bad in busses since they had no WC and I would be curling in my seat sweating like crazy, holding my stomack and in some cases I would simply get out of the buss earlier than I was supposed to just to find a WC.

There are different kinds of panic attacks but all have one thing in common; They are stuck energies in form of emotions which we constantly feed by taking them seriously all the time, developing even paranoias and such.

Relaxing in meditation and observing one self (one's own thoughts) helped alot in my case. Still there can be a bit of panic here and there but I am not taking it serious any more and therefor I am not feeding my panic attacks by going into them, rather I go back to Shamatha - observing the whole body breathing if such episodes happen, but I do not reject them nor do I attach to them.

In the past I also used to focus on my lower dantien (abdomen) just to find out that I still was very anxious and not realy "with my self2, because instead of observing who I am at this very time I was spending time focusing (read working) on my lower abdomen exaling and inhaling  :)

I would suggest you to not read much since that can only fuel your already fueled thoughts  :) Instead sit in Shamtha and relax your body and be aware of the whole body breathing rather than hypnotising your self by focusing on one body part (nose, Heart, Lower dantien).

Read our Meditation Introduction;
http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,34.0.html

Also if you can't help your self but must read something I can warmly recomand this;
Meditations by Jiddu Krishnamurti
http://www.messagefrommasters.com/Ebooks/Jiddu-Krishnamurti-Books/Krishnamurti_Meditations_1969.pdf

Remain relaxed  :)

Joe

  • Member
Re: New to Meditation - Sort of an Introduction
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2010, 07:57:23 PM »
Welcome, Vaughny.

Well done for letting your intuition lead you this far.

Panic attacks are good for practice. They give you the energy, patience and determination to practice. In the near future will you be grateful that panic attacks allowed you to see the mind for what it really is. Its like a massive insight: I cant think of anything more emotionally powerful, which is why it helps to pull the pants down on the mind. It the perfect event to see the mind overstretch itself, giving you the most profound opportunity to see it for what it is.

All conditioned things (in this instance thoughts and feelings) have three characteristics. Keep reminding yourself of these three points:

1, Thoughts and feelings are impermanent. They are born, then they die. They change, dissolve, rise and fall.
2, Thoughts and feelings are unsatisfactory. There isn't any solid ground to build any real beliefs off. Nothing to grasp at that is solid.
3, thoughts and feelings are selfless. The mind made its self. It's just a process. Your thoughts are a result of cause and effect. Its causality at work. Its skewed: your are viewing the world through skewed perceptions.

I highly recommend reading. You need to have a good understanding to turn theories into realities. Books aren't the fruit, but they are the arms that will point you to the fruit tree.  

I got the most use from these:
The Sound of Silence: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Sumedho
The Mind and the Way: Buddhist Reflections on Life  Ajahn Sumedho
A Still Forest Pool (Quest Books) Ajahn Chah
Being Dharma: The Essence of the Buddha's Teachings Ajahn Chah
Food for the Heart: The Collected Sayings of Ajahn Chah
Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away: Teachings on Impermanence and the End of Suffering  Ajahn Chah

I also recommend printing this off. There is some good stuff for starters and it will mean more as your practice deepens:
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books3/Ajahn_Brahm_ANATTA.htm

The real blow, that worked for me, is the thought that you cant use the mind to perceive the mind (refer to the three characteristics above). So it short circuits, it breaks itself, its defunct, corrupt. Then, more and more, you will find refuge in the present moment.




 
« Last Edit: May 29, 2010, 08:08:39 PM by Joe »

Joe

  • Member
Re: New to Meditation - Sort of an Introduction
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2010, 08:00:37 PM »
.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2010, 08:07:15 PM by Joe »

Vaughny

Re: New to Meditation - Sort of an Introduction
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2010, 04:27:37 PM »
Thanks for the posts in response.  I think there is some good material that you have pointed me to.

 

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