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Meditation and University Studies - Dhamma Wheel

Meditation and University Studies

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Ashitaka21
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Meditation and University Studies

Postby Ashitaka21 » Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:00 pm

Hey,

I'm new to this board. It was recommended by someone on the E-Sangha boards.

Let me cut to the chase. I have been meditating for approximately one year now. At the moment, I am meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night. I study at a University. Ever since I started meditating, I noticed that every time I am try to think, I exert pressure in my head. I literally exert physical pressure to my head to induce clearer thoughts - and it works, at least when writing papers and working on assignments. The problem is that when I am in this state of exerting pressure on my head, I tend to feel anxious, nervous, and lack compassion for others - I cannot be friendly in this mode. But, this way of thinking helps me maintain good grades...

I have been trying to reduce the pressure on my head. The corresponding affect of this is that thinking is not as powerful and I have little control over it - the pressure actually allows me to dictate what I think. In any case, I understand that this pressure is the opposite of what meditation is all about. When I meditate, I don't use this pressure, but when I'm done I turn the pressure back on. I don't know when I started using this pressure, but it has been very helpful in my studies. Without the pressure, I feel as though I have no control over my thoughts, and I don't feel intelligent whatsoever. I feel as though my knowledge regresses whenever I alleviate the pressure on my head, which is very strange I know. For example, I tried to do an essay without this pressure in my head, and it took me three hours to write one paragraph. I would love to retain my knowledge and effective way of thinking WITHOUT the pressure in my head, but this seems futile.

I was hoping that someone else on this board has experienced something similar. I have been trying to lighten up on the pressure but when I do that, thinks become chaotic and I have no control over what I'm thinking - it is a scary prospect, especially in school.

Thank you for your time,

Ashitaka21

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:01 am

Hello Ashitaka,

What kind of meditation are you practicing? Are you following instructions from any source?

If you don't feel comfortable with the pressure you are feeling, then maybe it is good to stop until you can find some assurance on being on the rigth track.
With Metta

pt1
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby pt1 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:00 am


Ashitaka21
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby Ashitaka21 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:21 pm

pt1,

Thank you for your input. I believe you definitely understand where I am coming from. The switching between the two modes, tense and calm, is definitely something that I practice regularly. I understand that I should seek out a teacher, but that is not feasible at this time, being on campus and all. I am trying to make the transition into the calm state of mind, and in that state I learn "real knowledge." It feels more authentic, but at the same time I don't feel as intelligent - it is a strange paradox, and I feel as though I can't "win."

Regarding meditation, I am practicing Vipassana. I focused on the breath for a while, but recently, I have been focusing on a mental image and trying to stay with it, it's called Sutta I believe? I switched to a mental image to help with my current problem of "calm" thinking. I also try to get some "loving kindness" in before every session.

Ashitaka21

pt1
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby pt1 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 4:32 am


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Ben
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 03, 2009 6:52 am

Hi Ashitaka21

From my perspective it appears to me that you maybe associating concentrated thinking with the sensation of pressure in your head. As a veteran of nearly 25 years experience of vipassana (vedananupassana: observation of sensation), one of the things that I have observed is the pervasive and subtle relationship between sensation and mental conditionings.
I recommend that you continue with vipassana and to also seek advice and instruction from a qualified teacher to discuss your individual needs and experiences.
Metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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pink_trike
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:10 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:16 am

With Metta

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Rui Sousa
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Location: London, UK

Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:20 am

With Metta

Ashitaka21
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby Ashitaka21 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:04 am


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pink_trike
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:15 am

I used to be quite intense in the way I approached thought and creativity, and often experienced somatic blowback. What helped me as an artist and grad student in a difficult, competitive setting that demanded uniqueness and unreasonable levels of memory and productivity was meditation and hatha yoga (and especially the gentle breathing exercises). Over time, I was able to stop pushing myself for results and let creative thought and understanding flow. I also noticed over time that that when I wasn't able to do this, or had the most difficulty doing it, was when I really had limited or no interest in what I was doing, so I began to follow the direction of my heart instead of forcing intellectual/creative conformity/results out of the brain. The brain is ideally a tool that supports heart consciousness.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

Ashitaka21
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:46 am

Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby Ashitaka21 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:57 am


arayan
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Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby arayan » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:01 am

Dear Ashitika,

thanks for your question. it is relieving for me to see that I am not alone in having questions such as these.

in my own experience i felt quite blocked, and particularly tense and ridden with anxiety (although i wouldn't have called it that at the time) when i was writing essays. In my experience, and interpretation, I think I was trying too hard to be concise (akin to concentrated) to get my point across. I could not flow easily in my essay writing. This may also have partly to do with a fear of criticism, and not being given room to make mistakes.

I think I did a lot of damage on the way to resolve these issues. So my first advice would be to take whatever approach you do slow and gradual. Sometimes settling into whatever your process is, removes the pressure you have to feel, esp if the case is that you are trying too hard).

Examine what you think might be causing you the anxiety? Do you write on your own about topics? Are you more comfortable writing something that is not going to be examined or marked?

Perhaps you also need more time for the material you are writing about, to be digested by your brain after you read it. Or perhaps you need to plan better. Perhaps the pressure is a result of the brain grasping at the material you have just read and trying to piece it together. Maybe you need time and repetition to internalise whatever you are writing, so when your words come out of you, it is coming from a steady, stable place inside of you.

I am wondering - does this pressure feel like you are trying very hard to focus, or does it feel like you are pushing your focus out - as in pushing words out too? In the past I have confused creativity for reactivity. I think this is often done in the art world. Often, people can come up with all sorts of words and such, in a short period of time, and it looks impressive. However, if you look at the quality of the words, they're often quite poor. Concentration is important here.

I am also wondering - how easy you find it to sit long periods to read or write? Do you find the build up of pressure overwhelming? Can you read for a long period of time?

Perhaps your thought is too concentrated to be comfortable. Perhaps you need to learn to sit and choose an anchor.. like your breath, and/or learn to use a little less effort. I think this is a dangerous term ppl (incl myself) misinterpret what it means to relax your attention. Personally, I find when my attention is more relaxed thoughts and words flow out more. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but I think it helps with conventional studying.

Often in a university or school setting, we take that organisation to be the authority, and if we cannot conform to those standards, then we think there is something wrong with us. I often think that the school system can do a lot of damage. People are encouraged to have an opinion about everything, you are encouraged to read (I don't think reading is bad, but the way my schools went about it had a lasting negative impression on me), and things like exams and cramming, can put a lot of pressure to the mind, in a way that feels quite 'unnatural' and possibly harmful over a period of time.

lojong1
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Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Meditation and University Studies

Postby lojong1 » Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:05 am



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