Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Padme » Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:34 am

I'm not sure what my problem is. I've had very low energy lately. I have Hypothyroidism, so I thought my thyroid levels were off. Had a full blood work-up and everything is normal. I've also been feeling a bit depressed, and I can't put my finger on why. I've been good with staying positive even when times are tough, but lately my negativity is getting the best of me it seems.

I haven't meditated in a couple of weeks, I just can't bring myself to. It's almost as if I'm too "down" to meditate, which is counter-intuitive to me. I should be meditating now more than ever. But I think of it, look at my alter, and just walk away, it's depressing. I think of my alter as my sacred space, and it's almost as if I don't want to taint it with negativity. Perhaps I am not skilled enough in meditation to sit and observe and be neutral, I don't know...

Anyone ever had this happen? Any suggestions? I just can't seem to bring myself to sit while feeling so overwhelmed with negativity, yet that's probably what I need to do to overcome it! I feel very stuck. I've always been told to sit even when I don't feel like it, but it just seems wrong somehow, to sit when I know I will just be feeling preoccupied and down.
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:50 am

Padme wrote:I'm not sure what my problem is. I've had very low energy lately. I have Hypothyroidism, so I thought my thyroid levels were off. Had a full blood work-up and everything is normal. I've also been feeling a bit depressed, and I can't put my finger on why. I've been good with staying positive even when times are tough, but lately my negativity is getting the best of me it seems.

I haven't meditated in a couple of weeks, I just can't bring myself to. It's almost as if I'm too "down" to meditate, which is counter-intuitive to me. I should be meditating now more than ever. But I think of it, look at my alter, and just walk away, it's depressing. I think of my alter as my sacred space, and it's almost as if I don't want to taint it with negativity. Perhaps I am not skilled enough in meditation to sit and observe and be neutral, I don't know...

Anyone ever had this happen? Any suggestions? I just can't seem to bring myself to sit while feeling so overwhelmed with negativity, yet that's probably what I need to do to overcome it! I feel very stuck. I've always been told to sit even when I don't feel like it, but it just seems wrong somehow, to sit when I know I will just be feeling preoccupied and down.


Recite Namo Amitabha with concentration and you will feel much better. Try it.
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Padme » Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:54 am

LastLegend wrote:
Padme wrote:I'm not sure what my problem is. I've had very low energy lately. I have Hypothyroidism, so I thought my thyroid levels were off. Had a full blood work-up and everything is normal. I've also been feeling a bit depressed, and I can't put my finger on why. I've been good with staying positive even when times are tough, but lately my negativity is getting the best of me it seems.

I haven't meditated in a couple of weeks, I just can't bring myself to. It's almost as if I'm too "down" to meditate, which is counter-intuitive to me. I should be meditating now more than ever. But I think of it, look at my alter, and just walk away, it's depressing. I think of my alter as my sacred space, and it's almost as if I don't want to taint it with negativity. Perhaps I am not skilled enough in meditation to sit and observe and be neutral, I don't know...

Anyone ever had this happen? Any suggestions? I just can't seem to bring myself to sit while feeling so overwhelmed with negativity, yet that's probably what I need to do to overcome it! I feel very stuck. I've always been told to sit even when I don't feel like it, but it just seems wrong somehow, to sit when I know I will just be feeling preoccupied and down.


Recite Namo Amitabha with concentration and you will feel much better. Try it.


LL, do you happen to have a link for this? I just searched it and got all kinds of varied results...
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:59 am

Ok there is no need for shrine or elaborate activities. All you need to do is say/repeat/chant/recite Namo Amitabha either out loud or in your head, make a vow to Amitabha to be reborn in Pure Land, with complete Faith of course. These 3 things are very important. You can increase your faith by listening to Dharma teachings that are related to Pure Land. So try to practice first, then post your experience here. I personally repeat NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (Vietnamese version of Namo Amitabha) in my head, almost every second, and if I forget I will come back to it immediately. After a couple months, you will notice some changes inside of you and eventually on your outer appearance also. During your practice, you will wrestle with intruding thoughts. So you should experiment to see which method can help you focus. I personally hear myself repeating NAM MO A DI DA PHAT in my head. This method works for me. Another method works for beginners is to repeat NAMO AMITABHA as fast as you can for 10 times one after another or consecutively. You can do that as many times per days as you can, and it works best when you do it out loud. Over time, you will become more focus. If intruding thoughts and emotions arise, do not pay attention to them if you do it slow and consecutively.

Here are good websites to explore
http://www.amtbweb.org/tenrecitationmethod.html
http://www.tinhthuquan.com/PhapAmEnglish/english.htm
http://www.quangduc.com/English/pureland/index.html

Please post your experience here. So we can help you.

Regardless of what others say, you will experience changes through practice after a couple of months. So you have to practice to see for yourself.
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Padme » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:02 am

LastLegend wrote:Ok there is no need for shrine or elaborate activities. All you need to do is say/repeat/chant/recite Namo Amitabha either out loud or in your head, make a vow to Amitabha to be reborn in Pure Land, with complete Faith of course. These 3 things are very important. You can increase your faith by listening to Dharma teachings that are related to Pure Land. So try to practice first, then post your experience here. I personally repeat NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (Vietnamese version of Namo Amitabha) in my head, almost every second, and if I forget I will come back to it immediately. After a couple months, you will notice some changes inside of you and eventually on your outer appearance also. During your practice, you will wrestle with intruding thoughts. So you should experiment to see which method can help you focus. I personally hear myself repeating NAM MO A DI DA PHAT in my head. This method works for me. Another method works for beginners is to repeat NAMO AMITABHA as fast as you can for 10 times one after another or consecutively. You can do that as many times per days as you can, and it works best when you do it out loud. Over time, you will become more focus. If intruding thoughts and emotions arise, do not pay attention to them if you do it slow and consecutively.

Here are good websites to explore
http://www.amtbweb.org/tenrecitationmethod.html
http://www.tinhthuquan.com/PhapAmEnglish/english.htm
http://www.quangduc.com/English/pureland/index.html

Please post your experience here. So we can help you.

Regardless of what others say, you will experience changes through practice after a couple of months. So you have to practice to see for yourself.


Thank you LL, I will look at these links.
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:09 am

Padme wrote:
LastLegend wrote:Ok there is no need for shrine or elaborate activities. All you need to do is say/repeat/chant/recite Namo Amitabha either out loud or in your head, make a vow to Amitabha to be reborn in Pure Land, with complete Faith of course. These 3 things are very important. You can increase your faith by listening to Dharma teachings that are related to Pure Land. So try to practice first, then post your experience here. I personally repeat NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (Vietnamese version of Namo Amitabha) in my head, almost every second, and if I forget I will come back to it immediately. After a couple months, you will notice some changes inside of you and eventually on your outer appearance also. During your practice, you will wrestle with intruding thoughts. So you should experiment to see which method can help you focus. I personally hear myself repeating NAM MO A DI DA PHAT in my head. This method works for me. Another method works for beginners is to repeat NAMO AMITABHA as fast as you can for 10 times one after another or consecutively. You can do that as many times per days as you can, and it works best when you do it out loud. Over time, you will become more focus. If intruding thoughts and emotions arise, do not pay attention to them if you do it slow and consecutively.

Here are good websites to explore
http://www.amtbweb.org/tenrecitationmethod.html
http://www.tinhthuquan.com/PhapAmEnglish/english.htm
http://www.quangduc.com/English/pureland/index.html

Please post your experience here. So we can help you.

Regardless of what others say, you will experience changes through practice after a couple of months. So you have to practice to see for yourself.


Thank you LL, I will look at these links.


No problem. I strongly recommend that you try in addition to what you are practicing. You will experience changes from inside out.
Here is the Introduction To Pure Land in case you could not find it on the websites I provided
http://www.quangduc.com/English/pureland/05pure1.html
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:33 am

Is there a group near you that you can meditate with? This may help motivate you to practice.

Is your depression linked to something that has happened recently? Maybe something that happened recently triggered a past response?

Is this feeling also starting to influence other of your daily activities? Are you skipping work or isolating yourself from friends/family?
:namaste:
PS Fell free to PM if you don't want to answer publicly.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:55 am

Padme wrote:I'm not sure what my problem is. I've had very low energy lately. I have Hypothyroidism, so I thought my thyroid levels were off. Had a full blood work-up and everything is normal. I've also been feeling a bit depressed, and I can't put my finger on why. I've been good with staying positive even when times are tough, but lately my negativity is getting the best of me it seems.

I haven't meditated in a couple of weeks, I just can't bring myself to. It's almost as if I'm too "down" to meditate, which is counter-intuitive to me. I should be meditating now more than ever. But I think of it, look at my alter, and just walk away, it's depressing. I think of my alter as my sacred space, and it's almost as if I don't want to taint it with negativity. Perhaps I am not skilled enough in meditation to sit and observe and be neutral, I don't know...

Anyone ever had this happen? Any suggestions? I just can't seem to bring myself to sit while feeling so overwhelmed with negativity, yet that's probably what I need to do to overcome it! I feel very stuck. I've always been told to sit even when I don't feel like it, but it just seems wrong somehow, to sit when I know I will just be feeling preoccupied and down.


lojong or metta meditation may be helpful to you along with some physical exercise
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Padme » Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:50 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Is there a group near you that you can meditate with? This may help motivate you to practice.

Is your depression linked to something that has happened recently? Maybe something that happened recently triggered a past response?

Is this feeling also starting to influence other of your daily activities? Are you skipping work or isolating yourself from friends/family?
:namaste:
PS Fell free to PM if you don't want to answer publicly.


Unfortunately there are no local sanghas or meditation groups that I can get to. I live in a very remote area.

I'm not sure what my depression is linked to. I have a history of depression, but in the last several years I have been able to manage it on my own quite well. I do have some stress factors that have been going on in the last 6 months, perhaps the stress of it is catching up with me. I am disabled and work part time from my home office. I work seasonally and just started work this week. I don't get to sleep until very late (always been that way), so perhaps the pressure to rise early to work not having much sleep is combining with the other stress factors of the last several months and simply overwhelming me. I am not missing work, but do not feel fully plugged in, either. I have felt unmotivated in other areas though, getting chores done around the house, etc. I just feel extremely tired every day. Feeling tired only compounds my feelings and makes me feel more depressed, because I'm not getting things done.

I am isolated from my friends and family, but that is not a new factor. I simply live far from everyone I know, and none of us talk on the phone or email often. I hope that answers your questions adequately and I appreciate your interest.

It's been about 6 years now since I've felt serious and long-term, actual depression, so I'm not sure what's going on now. Because I'm remote, I'm forced to practice alone, which is usually okay, with the assistance of online interaction like this.

I suppose my question at this point would be: Should I FORCE myself to meditate even if feeling preoccupied and negative? I learned a long time ago not to force myself to lie in bed stressed out if I can't sleep. I should get up and go back to bed when I feel more able to sleep. So I am wondering if it's the same with meditation; wait until I really can be mindful, or sit anyway, even if I am distracted and stressed?

I'd appreciate any input on this; thanks so much.
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Padme » Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:52 pm

mr. gordo wrote:
Padme wrote:I'm not sure what my problem is. I've had very low energy lately. I have Hypothyroidism, so I thought my thyroid levels were off. Had a full blood work-up and everything is normal. I've also been feeling a bit depressed, and I can't put my finger on why. I've been good with staying positive even when times are tough, but lately my negativity is getting the best of me it seems.

I haven't meditated in a couple of weeks, I just can't bring myself to. It's almost as if I'm too "down" to meditate, which is counter-intuitive to me. I should be meditating now more than ever. But I think of it, look at my alter, and just walk away, it's depressing. I think of my alter as my sacred space, and it's almost as if I don't want to taint it with negativity. Perhaps I am not skilled enough in meditation to sit and observe and be neutral, I don't know...

Anyone ever had this happen? Any suggestions? I just can't seem to bring myself to sit while feeling so overwhelmed with negativity, yet that's probably what I need to do to overcome it! I feel very stuck. I've always been told to sit even when I don't feel like it, but it just seems wrong somehow, to sit when I know I will just be feeling preoccupied and down.


lojong or metta meditation may be helpful to you along with some physical exercise


I was just listening to an audiobook last night that mentioned lojong, and was planning on looking into that a little today, after work. I need to find a good site that explains it, thanks.
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:00 pm

    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:03 pm

Interesting side story, I remember reading a passage in the book "Dipa Ma" where she suffered extreme depression after the loss of her husband, and she was prescribed metta meditation to be practiced first before vipassana.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Padme » Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:09 pm

mr. gordo wrote:Interesting side story, I remember reading a passage in the book "Dipa Ma" where she suffered extreme depression after the loss of her husband, and she was prescribed metta meditation to be practiced first before vipassana.


Actually, I usually do a basic sitting meditation, and then end with a metta meditation every time, but like I said, I haven't even been able to sit lately, so I haven't been doing it. I don't know why I can't get myself to just sit, it seems so silly, but every day I go to, and just don't seem to have it in me. I will check those links, thank you.
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby catmoon » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:30 am

Hmm, a bit bummed out are we? I prescribe http://icanhascheezburger.com. Take 3 pages daily.

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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:42 am

Padme wrote:Unfortunately there are no local sanghas or meditation groups that I can get to. I live in a very remote area.
That's too bad, I hope we can be of help to you here at Dharma Wheel.

I'm not sure what my depression is linked to. I have a history of depression, but in the last several years I have been able to manage it on my own quite well. I do have some stress factors that have been going on in the last 6 months, perhaps the stress of it is catching up with me. I am disabled and work part time from my home office. I work seasonally and just started work this week. I don't get to sleep until very late (always been that way), so perhaps the pressure to rise early to work not having much sleep is combining with the other stress factors of the last several months and simply overwhelming me. I am not missing work, but do not feel fully plugged in, either. I have felt unmotivated in other areas though, getting chores done around the house, etc. I just feel extremely tired every day. Feeling tired only compounds my feelings and makes me feel more depressed, because I'm not getting things done.
If your past depression is a psychiatric condition you must be aware that it may have a cyclic natue just that the interval of the cycle between feeling good and feeling depressed gets bigger and bigger. Just be careful that it doesn't reach the point where it pulls right under before you go seek professional help. From what you are saying though the disruption to your sleeping patterns may be the culprit. Your body can take up to ten weeks to readjust its cycle. Stress, of course, messes with sleep cycles big time.
I am isolated from my friends and family, but that is not a new factor. I simply live far from everyone I know, and none of us talk on the phone or email often. I hope that answers your questions adequately and I appreciate your interest.
You have no social supports where you live at all. That sounds difficult.
I suppose my question at this point would be: Should I FORCE myself to meditate even if feeling preoccupied and negative? I learned a long time ago not to force myself to lie in bed stressed out if I can't sleep. I should get up and go back to bed when I feel more able to sleep. So I am wondering if it's the same with meditation; wait until I really can be mindful, or sit anyway, even if I am distracted and stressed?
If you are stressed then you 100% definitely need to get your ass onto a cushion and do some sati (mindfulness) meditation. If you are distracted then start with an "easy" object like mindfulness of the body then progress to the mindfulness of breath. If during the breath mindfulness the distractions are too great then return to the body until your mind is calmed again then back to the breath again. Exercise is a good idea too, or at least get outside for 15 minutes every hour as a break from work. I imagine you work in front of a computer screen or at a table? So the eyes need to be rested by staring off into space every hour. Try not to dwell on the negative feelings, sati meditation will give you an object to direct your attention towards and thus draw your mind away from those feelings.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby zengammon » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:42 pm

Hi Padme

Just wanted to say hang in there.

One suggestion: you could go through your pre meditation ritual--every day. Basically, just get into the posture you use --every day, without missing. Then when you are completely ready to meditate, get up and go about your daily business. There's something about just getting into the posture. It might be enough for now.

take care,
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Padme » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:55 pm

zengammon wrote:Hi Padme

Just wanted to say hang in there.

One suggestion: you could go through your pre meditation ritual--every day. Basically, just get into the posture you use --every day, without missing. Then when you are completely ready to meditate, get up and go about your daily business. There's something about just getting into the posture. It might be enough for now.

take care,
john


Thank you. That made me think; I think I am somewhat, no very, perfectionistic in my meditation ritual. I change my clothes, change the lighting, do candles and incense, have a very mindful approach to it, which sounds good, but may be making it more difficult for me also. I can never "simply sit". By the time I'm sitting, I would simply go ahead and meditate. I think it's the "getting into meditation mode" that turns me off sometimes. Don't know if that makes sense, but that's what I thought about after reading your suggestion to simply get into posture. It never feels simple to me. I'll have to put more thought into this...
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:12 am

The only thing you need to meditate is floor to sit in. The rest is nice, but not necessary. Maybe it's becoming a problem, no? Sometimes we do it to steal away time from the "real practice of sitting" (that at the beginning can be a bit boring) while still being in "practice mode", thus feeling better.
My suggestion would be for you to do little informal sessions. Sit (or just put your back straight) and go for it for a few minutes. Then repeat it an hour later or so and keep doing it like that. Lighten up a bit. You don't need candles, incense and all that shebang to meditate. If you can and have such inclination, great. But learn to do it without all that preparation. Sometimes lighting a candle and burning an incense helps one getting out of the "stressful mode" preparing to practice, but it is also important to learn how not to depend of this sort of things. To meditate you don't need any of that. You can have it, but it's good if you don't feel the need of all the apparatus. Sit, small versions or refuge and bodhicitta (heartfelt) if you want, clear the stale air, and you're set. At the end, little dedication of merits (heartfelt). When having really little time, just sit, clear the stale air and do it. That's my suggestion. :smile:
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby Padme » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:10 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:The only thing you need to meditate is floor to sit in. The rest is nice, but not necessary. Maybe it's becoming a problem, no? Sometimes we do it to steal away time from the "real practice of sitting" (that at the beginning can be a bit boring) while still being in "practice mode", thus feeling better.
My suggestion would be for you to do little informal sessions. Sit (or just put your back straight) and go for it for a few minutes. Then repeat it an hour later or so and keep doing it like that. Lighten up a bit. You don't need candles, incense and all that shebang to meditate. If you can and have such inclination, great. But learn to do it without all that preparation. Sometimes lighting a candle and burning an incense helps one getting out of the "stressful mode" preparing to practice, but it is also important to learn how not to depend of this sort of things. To meditate you don't need any of that. You can have it, but it's good if you don't feel the need of all the apparatus. Sit, small versions or refuge and bodhicitta (heartfelt) if you want, clear the stale air, and you're set. At the end, little dedication of merits (heartfelt). When having really little time, just sit, clear the stale air and do it. That's my suggestion. :smile:


Yes, I do know this, but I have trouble living it. I'm like that in many regards. I can't seem to clean a little here and there, I have to clean my entire house. I just have a bad habit of being very perfectionistic, and needing to do things to my full satisfaction or I tend to not to them at all. Like meditating. I know I can just sit anywhere, but I enjoy doing the whole thing, candles, incense, lighting, etc. I do realize it's a flaw, believe me. I'm not meditating at all right now, which I know is not a good thing. I'm not defending it, just describing it. I just feel so distracted lately, I'm not sure why. For a good 2 or 3 hours today I listened to some CD's on Lojong practice, took extensive notes and studied them. Although I am glad I accomplished this, it did occur to me later that I could have meditated with some of that time instead of studying. Maybe I need to set a time every day to meditate and not wait until I feel like it. I'm obviously meditation lazy, that's not a good thing! I'm also suspecting that I should perhaps not wait until I'm in the "right frame of mind" to meditate. I imagine that even sitting in the wrong frame of mind, if there is such a thing in meditation, will at least give me the benefit of making it routine, and maybe the "right frame of mind" will eventually return.
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Re: Haven't Been Meditating: Advice?

Postby muni » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:49 am

Walking meditation? :thumbsup:

The interconnectednedness feet-ground in the very moment. Such a simple joy and courage.
One example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdO1vZJg ... re=related

And here Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. http://www.youtube.com/user/MingyurRinp ... 29823B8C5B Knowing we are one big family. Not alone so.
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