Difficulties Meditating

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Difficulties Meditating

Postby edearl » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:46 pm

Due to chronic pain, I rarely sleep enough. Both pain and lack of sleep interfere with meditation. Since I began meditating about two weeks ago, twice my meditation was awesome, reduced my pain, put my mind at peace and a smile on my face.

Last night I slept well, but it was not enough to balance two days of not sleeping due to pain; thus, I count 50-100 breaths and loose concentration--nearly fall asleep. When this occurs, I become frustrated and feel my meditation practice is useless--wish I had started my practice many years ago. Maybe there is nothing to do except continue to practice meditation and study Dharma, but if anyone has any specific suggestions, I would appreciate hearing about them.

:namaste:
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby kirtu » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:28 pm

edearl wrote: When this occurs, I become frustrated and feel my meditation practice is useless--wish I had started my practice many years ago.


It's not useless and anyway we don't have the option of time travel.

Working through difficulties is part of the practice.

Maybe there is nothing to do except continue to practice meditation and study Dharma, but if anyone has any specific suggestions, I would appreciate hearing about them.


Sit intensely for up to five minutes at a time (or 3 minutes). But when you sit, just sit (or just meditate however you are meditating). Then do that 2, 4, 8 or so times a day. Start slow, meditate briefly but intensely and do it everyday.

This BTW are slightly adapted instructions from the late Sakya master Dezhung Rinpoche. I did not like these instructions myself because I came to Tibetan Buddhism from Zen Buddhism and we sit a long time in Zen. And in the beginning it's very hard. After 30 yrs. many people have more or less dropped away. I came to see Dezhung Rinpoche's wisdom in this over time (and anyway if you follow those instructions you will become a meditation master in your type of meditation over time).

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby edearl » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:45 pm

Thanks, kirtu. I will continue my practice of samatha as you suggest. Vipasyana is much easier for me.
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby Chaz » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:02 pm

edearl wrote:Due to chronic pain, I rarely sleep enough. Both pain and lack of sleep interfere with meditation. Since I began meditating about two weeks ago, twice my meditation was awesome, reduced my pain, put my mind at peace and a smile on my face.

Last night I slept well, but it was not enough to balance two days of not sleeping due to pain; thus, I count 50-100 breaths and loose concentration--nearly fall asleep. When this occurs, I become frustrated and feel my meditation practice is useless--wish I had started my practice many years ago. Maybe there is nothing to do except continue to practice meditation and study Dharma, but if anyone has any specific suggestions, I would appreciate hearing about them.

:namaste:


I would suggest you count to 21 breaths. Count only the out breath.

Actually, if you really can count to 50 breaths without slipping away, it's totally awesome. On the downside, you could be focusing on the breathing and counting a bit too closely.

If you've only been meditating for a couple weeks, you're doing just fine. Nothing to feel discouraged over. It takes a LONG time to develop solid and reliable one-pointed concentration. You have a long ways to go, but just take it easy. Don't be too hard on yourself when you feel your practice isn't up to par. Just breathe naturally and rest in that.
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby edearl » Sat Oct 15, 2011 12:54 am

Chaz wrote:...
I would suggest you count to 21 breaths. Count only the out breath.

Actually, if you really can count to 50 breaths without slipping away, it's totally awesome. On the downside, you could be focusing on the breathing and counting a bit too closely.

If you've only been meditating for a couple weeks, you're doing just fine. Nothing to feel discouraged over. It takes a LONG time to develop solid and reliable one-pointed concentration. You have a long ways to go, but just take it easy. Don't be too hard on yourself when you feel your practice isn't up to par. Just breathe naturally and rest in that.


Thanks, I've usually counted from 50 - 100 exhales, and try to imagine that awesome feeling I had twice during meditation. When I got the awesome feeling, my count was less than 21 and one of the two times my meditation lasted almost 30 minutes. I've done contemplative meditation for 50 years, and developed good concentration, but it was just something I did without any training, usually while walking. Since my back problems, I'm not very good at that any more, either.

Regardless, I will not give up, because it is so important.

Thanks for your help.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby Chaz » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:23 pm

edearl wrote:
Chaz wrote:...
I would suggest you count to 21 breaths. Count only the out breath.

Actually, if you really can count to 50 breaths without slipping away, it's totally awesome. On the downside, you could be focusing on the breathing and counting a bit too closely.

If you've only been meditating for a couple weeks, you're doing just fine. Nothing to feel discouraged over. It takes a LONG time to develop solid and reliable one-pointed concentration. You have a long ways to go, but just take it easy. Don't be too hard on yourself when you feel your practice isn't up to par. Just breathe naturally and rest in that.


Thanks, I've usually counted from 50 - 100 exhales, and try to imagine that awesome feeling I had twice during meditation. When I got the awesome feeling, my count was less than 21 and one of the two times my meditation lasted almost 30 minutes. I've done contemplative meditation for 50 years, and developed good concentration, but it was just something I did without any training, usually while walking. Since my back problems, I'm not very good at that any more, either.

Regardless, I will not give up, because it is so important.

Thanks for your help.



Sounds like you're "chasing the high". You got some "awesome feeling" and now you're trying to get it back.

Forget that.

Do the practice for it's own sake and don't count on any specific results right now.
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby edearl » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:01 pm

Chaz wrote:
Sounds like you're "chasing the high". You got some "awesome feeling" and now you're trying to get it back.

Forget that.

Do the practice for it's own sake and don't count on any specific results right now.


You are right, because I have severe pain continuously for 24-48 hours more than once a week. After the pain I am exhausted from lack of sleep as well as being depressed. The high suppresses the pain and puts a smile on my face. However, sometimes the high doesn't happen, and I now understand that is OK; meditation without the high also helps to reduce suffering.

Meditation has already changed my life. I am on a 1000-1500 calorie diet and expect to loose half my body weight or more, and I have stopped taking pain killing drugs (i.e., Vicodin and pot), except for Aleve twice a day, and will stop taking them sometime.

I am incredibly thankful for everyone who has helped me learn about Buddhism over the past couple of weeks. I still have much to learn; it will take time.

:namaste:
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby Kyosan » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:24 pm

Even when you are not formally meditating, when you are doing things in ordinary life, you can detach from the pain. When you have pain it will not cause you to suffer, if you detach from it. That is something that a person can do in addition to meditation.
:namaste:
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby edearl » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:38 pm

Kyosan wrote:Even when you are not formally meditating, when you are doing things in ordinary life, you can detach from the pain. When you have pain it will not cause you to suffer, if you detach from it. That is something that a person can do in addition to meditation.
:namaste:


I know some people can detach from intense pain, but I have not been able to. I do try. Perhaps my attempts help, but I do not know. When my mother went to the dentist, she would not have local anesthesia (e.g., Novocaine). She said that it didn't help her.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby edearl » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:38 am

:thanks: uslic001
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:21 am

edearl wrote:Due to chronic pain, I rarely sleep enough. Both pain and lack of sleep interfere with meditation. Since I began meditating about two weeks ago, twice my meditation was awesome, reduced my pain, put my mind at peace and a smile on my face.

Last night I slept well, but it was not enough to balance two days of not sleeping due to pain; thus, I count 50-100 breaths and loose concentration--nearly fall asleep. When this occurs, I become frustrated and feel my meditation practice is useless--wish I had started my practice many years ago. Maybe there is nothing to do except continue to practice meditation and study Dharma, but if anyone has any specific suggestions, I would appreciate hearing about them.

:namaste:


In meditation, actually we are slowly building our mindfulness ability. This mindful ability cannot be built in 1 day, need time and effort.

One of the misconception about meditation is I expect clear mind without thoughts. This is wrong. Thoughts has nothing to do with mindfulness. By understanding this one, we then can know that we only need to know when the thoughts arise. In this case We can do it anytime and anywhere. So, every second become meditation. It will build mindfulness stronger and stronger.

Don't meditate for long session and don't expect perfection. If you keep doing it and trying to be mindful, you will get it soon or later. You only need persistence and time.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby edearl » Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:42 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:
In meditation, actually we are slowly building our mindfulness ability. This mindful ability cannot be built in 1 day, need time and effort.

One of the misconception about meditation is I expect clear mind without thoughts. This is wrong. Thoughts has nothing to do with mindfulness. By understanding this one, we then can know that we only need to know when the thoughts arise. In this case We can do it anytime and anywhere. So, every second become meditation. It will build mindfulness stronger and stronger.

Don't meditate for long session and don't expect perfection. If you keep doing it and trying to be mindful, you will get it soon or later. You only need persistence and time.


:thanks: :namaste: -- Ed
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:09 am

edearl wrote:Last night I slept well, but it was not enough to balance two days of not sleeping due to pain; thus, I count 50-100 breaths and loose concentration--nearly fall asleep. When this occurs, I become frustrated and feel my meditation practice is useless--wish I had started my practice many years ago. Maybe there is nothing to do except continue to practice meditation and study Dharma, but if anyone has any specific suggestions, I would appreciate hearing about them.


If you're interested in Tibetan Buddhism you should buy Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal. It's a manual for mastering Mahamudra but you can just read to page 26 which covers mastering Shamatha.

A few tips from the book. Once you achieve "a natural sense of calm" then stop, take a break, and start again from the beginning. If tired: walk around before continuing. If agitated: make yourself warm, perform self-massage, and lower your gaze. If dull: cool yourself, wash your face, and lift your gaze. If repeatedly bored, take a break for a few days.

Good luck.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Difficulties Meditating

Postby Asabandha » Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:59 am

I appreciate how enthusiastic you are... It reminds me of when I first started meditating. I was a lunatic, going for days at a time and chasing the highs all the way. There has already been good advice in this thread... Here is what I would like to add: Awesome feelings arise spontaneously when we least expect them, but they are just another conditioned experience in samsara, or cyclic existence. If we chase the awesome feelings or think that these awesome feelings are the purpose of meditation, or even a hallmark of "good" meditation, then we are missing the point. Likewise, if we run from painful feelings of either the physical or mental nature, then we are missing the point of meditation. Real Buddhist meditation is about being present and aware of whatever is going on with the mind and body without getting involved or investing energy. Shamatha happens for real when we just let go.
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