2 years of meditation with no progress

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby BuddhaSoup » Thu May 17, 2012 12:47 pm

I agree with others that we really shouldn't be focusing on goals with meditation. The goal itself is an attachment, and can interfere with the zazen itself. I also agree that having a good teacher or friends in a sangha can be very helpful...the Buddha himself placed great emphasis on sangha as being integral to the practice. Going it alone can be like flying at night without a compass. Yes, you're meditating, but you may be spinning your wheels without the help of a good teacher and/or sangha to support you.

One other thought that I had in response to your postings is to be aware that zazaen, and the energy of zazen manifests not just on the cushion, but also in daily life. Since starting to meditate, are you maybe a little more patient with people? Are you just a bit kinder to yourself and those around you? You mentioned some changes you have made in your life: these are a big deal; even the change in your diet is a big improvement, and may be part of the path toward lessening anxiety.

Finally, take a look at some of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction articles and youtubes out there (Jon Kabat-Zinn especially). MBSR is a meditation based program to help people with anxiety, dep, and PTSD, as well as to help nearly everyone navigate the stressors in life. JKZ does not call it meditation or Buddhism or Zen, he teaches in a secular fashion, but the teaching is at the heart of zazen and vipassana. It's a style of meditation and thought designed especially for cognitive issues like anxiety.

From your posts, it seems to me you have made changes, and reached goals, and yet you're just not seeing these positive changes. Zazen is not like weightlifting; doing it every day will not give you a bigger bicep in two weeks. Sticking with it though, with a good guide and faith in it, will yield huge results. Just don't focus on these goals...
BuddhaSoup
 
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:06 pm

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby BuddhaSoup » Thu May 17, 2012 1:25 pm

Maybe this posting from our brothers and sisters at DhammaWheel is helpful:


Re: Why Meditate?

New postby Goofaholix » Wed May 16, 2012 6:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:"Dark night" in the context of Theravada is interesting.

I wonder whether some paths/meditations/actions/whatever-you-want-to-call-them lead into the rabbits burrow of dukkha better than they lead out of it. It's quite plausible that the path that leads you to be aware of the problem, is quite a different path to that which can cure the problem, once diagnosed. To give an analogy, the x-ray that shows tumours is different to the medicine that may be used to heal them. Is the meditation the x-ray and/or the remedy? When the author of the posting says things like, " Advanced practitioners want to awaken because they are tired of being on the path, tired of being stuck in the twilight between awake and asleep", I wonder whether they're just sitting there taking endless x-rays, rather than taking the medicine of the Noble Eightfold Path.



I think it's common for people to start on the path with misconceptiions about what the path is about, unrealistic expectations about the results they will get, wrong view etc. This is often informed by romantic views of Buddhism or self-ish motivations.

To me "the dark night" refers to a process of slowly realising these things are part of the problem not part of the solution and letting go of the attachments to them, which is often painful or leaves one in a period of disillusionment.

Slowly we realise we are creating a new kind of Dukkha with our attitude to practise and let go of it, it's not that there was anything wrong with the practise to start with it's just our attitude to it that changes.

"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't really begun." - Ajahn Chah
BuddhaSoup
 
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:06 pm

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu May 17, 2012 2:43 pm

stardor, here's a suggestion for you to start.

http://books.google.pt/books/about/The_ ... edir_esc=y

This book gives detailed instructions about Shamatha, the type of meditation that seems more suitable for you to start with. You can decide later if you also engage in Vipashyana meditation tandem.
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby Challenge23 » Thu May 17, 2012 5:57 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:Maybe this posting from our brothers and sisters at DhammaWheel is helpful:


Re: Why Meditate?

New postby Goofaholix » Wed May 16, 2012 6:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:"Dark night" in the context of Theravada is interesting.


How meta. That post you quoted came from the same essay that I posted here. It even had the same title. Neat.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
User avatar
Challenge23
 
Posts: 119
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:36 pm

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby stardor » Fri May 18, 2012 1:26 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:Maybe this posting from our brothers and sisters at DhammaWheel is helpful:


Re: Why Meditate?

New postby Goofaholix » Wed May 16, 2012 6:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:"Dark night" in the context of Theravada is interesting.

I wonder whether some paths/meditations/actions/whatever-you-want-to-call-them lead into the rabbits burrow of dukkha better than they lead out of it. It's quite plausible that the path that leads you to be aware of the problem, is quite a different path to that which can cure the problem, once diagnosed. To give an analogy, the x-ray that shows tumours is different to the medicine that may be used to heal them. Is the meditation the x-ray and/or the remedy? When the author of the posting says things like, " Advanced practitioners want to awaken because they are tired of being on the path, tired of being stuck in the twilight between awake and asleep", I wonder whether they're just sitting there taking endless x-rays, rather than taking the medicine of the Noble Eightfold Path.



I think it's common for people to start on the path with misconceptiions about what the path is about, unrealistic expectations about the results they will get, wrong view etc. This is often informed by romantic views of Buddhism or self-ish motivations.

To me "the dark night" refers to a process of slowly realising these things are part of the problem not part of the solution and letting go of the attachments to them, which is often painful or leaves one in a period of disillusionment.

Slowly we realise we are creating a new kind of Dukkha with our attitude to practise and let go of it, it's not that there was anything wrong with the practise to start with it's just our attitude to it that changes.

"If you haven't cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn't really begun." - Ajahn Chah


Reading through these replies have been very useful thank you. I have been under the impression that my anxiety has gotten worse, especially since I quit drinking etc (I think I self medicated). But as a few of you have pointed out, maybe I have just become more aware of it. Now I can actually feel it when it arises. Lately I have been having some strong emotions regarding the past, homesickness, regret...all kinds of stuff have been coming up. Maybe this is the Dark Night that you mention. I have read about this before but thought it was something that happens as one gets really deep into the practice. I think I have made progress, but just not the kind of progress I was expecting. I was expecting to feel better, not worse. So, again, thank you all for the slap upside the head. It woke me up a little. :)
stardor
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 16, 2012 1:09 am

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby Wesley1982 » Fri May 18, 2012 3:05 pm

Depends on your POV and what kind of progress you were expecting.
User avatar
Wesley1982
 
Posts: 739
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:45 pm
Location: Magga ~ Path to Liberation.

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby stardor » Fri May 18, 2012 3:11 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:Depends on your POV and what kind of progress you were expecting.


As I said in my last post, 'To feel better'.
stardor
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 16, 2012 1:09 am

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby sangyey » Sat May 19, 2012 12:45 am

http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/23-3/articles/samsara.html

This is an article of an interview with Tenzin Palmo where a little down the interview she mentions a few things on 'lung' (wind) that you might find beneficial to read.
User avatar
sangyey
 
Posts: 418
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:00 am

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby kirtu » Sat May 19, 2012 12:53 am

stardor wrote:
Wesley1982 wrote:Depends on your POV and what kind of progress you were expecting.


As I said in my last post, 'To feel better'.


:shrug: Oh my! Meditation will not make you feel better. Buddhist calming meditation will enable you over time, and this varies very greatly for different people, to BEGIN to calm and eventually tame your mind. If you really want to feel better - well no meditation is guaranteed for that - but authentic health meditation from another system is a better bet. Authentic teaching like that is difficult to find.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4368
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby kirtu » Sat May 19, 2012 1:00 am

stardor wrote:Reading through these replies have been very useful thank you. I have been under the impression that my anxiety has gotten worse, especially since I quit drinking etc (I think I self medicated). But as a few of you have pointed out, maybe I have just become more aware of it. Now I can actually feel it when it arises.


Then you have some real progress. Most people cannot feel or notice strong emotions when they arise. Most people are just sort of puppets to their emotions which arise or abate suddenly like passing storms.

It does sound like your awareness has developed a little. But awareness will be a growing awareness of suffering.

If you want to feel better, then sports or sex or something that you are passionate about.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4368
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby Spirituality » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:07 am

For me It really made a huge difference to get teachings from a real teacher, even though it was only his students doing the guided meditations.

As for the idea of making no progress, I would like to repeat after some people here: how do you know? It's common to still have thoughts butting in on your meditation time. One other common effect is that meditation makes you more aware of those thoughts, so that the mind seems busier, when in fact it's not.

I think 20 minutes a day is quite a lot for a newbie. Having kept that up for about a year is great! Pat yourself on the back and keep going. Focus on the positive side of this. It's no use being too strict on yourself. You live a lay life, any meditation that you do is a bonus. Don't expect miracles. And yes, unsolicited feedback from people around you really is the most reliable measure of change.

Expecting huge effects is likely to work counter productive. It adds tension instead of diminishing it.
User avatar
Spirituality
 
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu May 31, 2012 7:11 am

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:43 am

stardor wrote:As I said in my last post, 'To feel better'.

No problem with wanting that. But I'm wondering if it might not be better for you to look at Dzogchen where the path is less goal oriented? Something to consider especially if you are phobic to organized religion.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
Andrew108
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby uan » Sat Jun 02, 2012 3:28 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
stardor wrote:As I said in my last post, 'To feel better'.

No problem with wanting that. But I'm wondering if it might not be better for you to look at Dzogchen where the path is less goal oriented? Something to consider especially if you are phobic to organized religion.



One thought that might be helpful is to be specific with what it means for you "to feel better." Right now that's a very abstract statement and there's no way to measure any progress towards it. When you make it specific, you can then take specific steps towards achieving your goals.

You mentioned anxiety as one of your problems. That too is abstract. A suggestion would be for you to address a situation where you become anxious (paying bills, phone ringing or talking on the phone, or whatever things make you feel anxious). Then work to reduce that one area of anxiety. If it's paying bills, set aside one day to pay bills. Now you've consolidated your anxiety around paying bills to one specific day, then you can take whatever steps you feel works for you to reduce the anxiety of paying bills on that one day.

Dzogchen might be appealing to you. One of teachings from ChNN with Dzogchen is to use whatever secondary practices are necessary or useful to you in support of your main Dzogchen practice, and not limited only to "Buddhist" practices. You many want to look into Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_behavior_therapy. DBT combines some western psychological approaches with some Buddhist style meditation/mindfulness. I initially came across DBT as a recommendation that was given for my son who suffers from anxiety disorder (or as his neuro-psych said he has "left limbic over arousal"). From what you've said, you are able to recognize your feelings/anxieties as they arise. Something like DBT could give you the tools to take that awareness and actively reduce the negative impact those feelings/anxieties cause you.
uan
 
Posts: 340
Joined: Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:58 am

Re: 2 years of meditation with no progress

Postby Son of Buddha » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:38 am

Hey stardor

First recongnise that in 2 years you did have progress,you dont think quiting smoking,drinking,and non harm of animals is progress?

did ur meditation help you quit these bad mental and phyisical attachments?

Okay so u dislike formal meetings,find a spiritual friend,and meet with them one on one,help each other,they can be a good friend who goes to that zen center,so if you have questions ur friend can ask the teacher about it,and meet with you in a chill non stressfull setting and relay the info.

Also it sounds like you are getting burned out and are begining to resent the zazen meditation,and it seems you are overwhelmingly depressed/unhappy.
Try cutting back to 5 or 10 min of zazen,then implement tonglen /lojong meditation also since you only spend 30 min a day on meditation the slogans will help you with the rest of the 15 hr day,

Lovingkindness meditation is easy,and if your looking for progress im positive you will attain it.and it will also help with ur unhappyness.

Chech out pema chodron start where you are
And look up you tube videos on her and tonglen to help you out.
I honestly in my heart feel this is the medicine you need(do a short zazen before tonglen)

Peace and love
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 849
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

Previous

Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Soar, udawa and 8 guests

>