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Questions - Dhamma Wheel

Questions

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Dhammabodhi
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Questions

Postby Dhammabodhi » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:27 pm

Hello all,

I'm posting after a long time in this section. It is unfortunate that due to immense stress in personal and professional life I stopped my sitting sessions a few months ago. Partially, it was also due to the fact that I was not able to find joy in it. I've restarted, with a stutter and a stop, my practice :embarassed: , but I'm experiencinng some difficulties which I would like to talk about.

As I've posted earlier, I practice Anapanasati, the samatha variant.

1. Pain and Pressure: During my sitting sessions whenever I have a decent concentration on my breath, I feel surging pressures all over my head, in particular in the front of the head. The pressures are accompanied by pain, sometimes sharp, sometimes pressing and consistent. This makes meditation helluva difficult and sometimes I get really discouraged. I feel like a sealed bottle of coke after it has been shaken vigorously. :(

In the summary of the article "Mystery of the breath nimitta" by Bhikkhu Sona, he mentions an airy, light-headed, pleasant feeling accompanying strong concentration. With me it is just the opposite! This disheartens me to no end as I don't have access to a meditation teacher. I heard a student on one of Bhikkhu Thanissaro's talks say that he had told her of a way to "release" this pressure and "channel this energy". Is there a specific technique that might help me?

2. Optical Illusions: This is not so much of a problem but just an inquiry. After my meditation a couple of days ago I was sitting in the toilet, and I was looking down at the mat on the floor. Suddenly there was a change in my perception of the mat and it began to "shimmer", something like the optical illusion of a mirage. It lasted only a few seconds though. I have had a similar experience before but I rejected it thinking I must have been day dreaming or something, as I wasn't even meditating at the time. Is this normal? Or is it something physiological, totally unrelated to meditation?

Thank you for your kind suggestions,
Metta :anjali:
Dhammabodhi
"Take rest, take rest."-S.N.Goenka

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Dan74
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Re: Questions

Postby Dan74 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:37 pm

Regarding the optical illusion, this is a fairly common occurrence for meditators. Nothing to worry about I would say.
_/|\_

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Dhammabodhi
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Re: Questions

Postby Dhammabodhi » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:42 pm

Thank you Dan, that's reassuring. :)

:anjali:
"Take rest, take rest."-S.N.Goenka

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Dan74
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Re: Questions

Postby Dan74 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:47 pm

_/|\_

PeterB
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Re: Questions

Postby PeterB » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:06 pm

To take the optical phenomenon first Dhammabodhi this possibly an example of what is called " nimitta".
Which is usually translated as " sign"..it is produced when we start to approach a state of concentration..hence "sign".
It is if anything an encouraging thing to experience as long as we dont linger over it or imbue it with significance.

The discomfort you mention may simply be physical..by the time we are adults many of us have learned ways of sitting walking and lifting that are not easy for our spines and necks to cope with.
It might be worth getting yourself checked by a physiotherapist who may be able to suggest excercises to enable a better flow of blood and lymph through the shoulders and neck.
Anapanasati is a highly effective means of meditating, whether with samatha or vipassana as the objective. But things go so much better many people find, with a little instruction. And fortunately instruction in Anapanasati is widely available.
I notice that you live in France , which is replete with centres that teach varities of Anapanasati.

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Re: Questions

Postby Reductor » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:39 pm


Kenshou
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Re: Questions

Postby Kenshou » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:49 pm

Speaking of Thanissaro, maybe this'd help in unclogging you? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... uided.html

"Steady and relaxed" is right, forgive me if this is obvious but emphasizing a little more calmness might be useful, too much intensity and striving can get uncomfortable.

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Re: Questions

Postby PeterB » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:02 pm

" Buddho" practice is well worth exploring...good link Kenshou.

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Re: Questions

Postby Moggalana » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:22 pm

Maybe you are straining too much, concentrating too hard? Ajahn Brahm always encourages his students to "be kind, be gentle, and let go". Just let the body breath, and watch that process with awareness. If you watch the breath at a specific location, you could, as others have already suggested, change that and experiment with you point of focus. If you are focusing somewhere around the head, put your awareness on the abdominal movement instead, for example.
About the optical illusion: I think I have experienced something similar. I blame it on the meditation, but who knows? If you are worried, consult a doctor.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.

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Dhammabodhi
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Re: Questions

Postby Dhammabodhi » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:28 pm

"Take rest, take rest."-S.N.Goenka

Kenshou
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Re: Questions

Postby Kenshou » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:47 pm

Oh, I wasn't aware of the hypersomnia. Makes things tricky. I think you'll eventually find something that works for you regardless, if you keep looking. There's a lot of information out there. We all have our own particular little things to deal with in meditation, and this is probably where a good teacher is a real help, but once you struggle through it on your own, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

My typical mindstate is the opposite of yours, so I can't relate much. But good luck! Ajan Lee is a good source, by the way, do look into it.

Reductor
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Re: Questions

Postby Reductor » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:55 pm


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Dan74
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Re: Questions

Postby Dan74 » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:35 am

I can't really tell you much more about "opening the crown" because I am not much of a yoga practitioner and I haven't tried this method. From what follows it appears to be a kind of a mental opening up of the space at the crown of your head and somebody on that thread reported it as helpful.

I think there is a number of meditation teachers who answer questions like these via email and it may be worth your while trying to contact people who have taught meditation extensively and have experience with these kinds of phenomena and what tends to help in various cases.

Maybe you can find these or somebody can suggest some email addresses?
_/|\_

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Ben
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Re: Questions

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:05 am

Hi Dhammabodhi

I suffer from exactly the same phenomenon as you do - aches and pains with increasing intensity during samatha variant of anapanasati. The way the retreats that I do are structured, the first 1/3 of the time is devoted to the samatha variant of anapanasati before we move on to a form of vipassana (vedananupassana).
Venerable Analayo explains it very well in his work Satipatthana: the direct path to realization. He contends that the occurance of physical pain during samatha are the 'bodily formations' which comes stilled with increased concentration. I'll try and dig out and transcribe the section if I get time later today/tonight. The mere fact that you are experiencing aches and pains during samatha should be an indication that you are doing the right thing.
My advice to you is to keep on going. I know it can be tough, but while you are meditating and the aches and pains manifest - continue to maintain your awareness on the point of your breath's contact for longer and longer periods. The old habit pattern of diverting your mind to the pain will try and override your ability to maintain focus on your breath, but just keep going. Having said that, don't turn it into an ascetic practice. Just extend yourself a little bit each session.

As for not feeling joy in your meditation, again my advice is to keep going. Joy (piti) is certainly a factor for jhana but its non-presence during meditation shouldn't be a reason to desist with your efforts. Joy will manifest increasingly as your hindrances become quiescent. So, persevere my friend!
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

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retrofuturist
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Re: Questions

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:45 am

Greetings Dhammabodhi,

I get the unpleasant feelings specified in the first post as well - I've got them right now in fact and I'm not even meditating, although I am sick and that sometimes make it worse. Whilst I haven't worked it out yet, I can give this list of suggestions which have provided intermittent assistance:

- Keep hydrated
- Get your eyes tested
- Painkillers
- Avoid looking at screens too much (esp. computer screens)
- Try chiropractic, physiotherapy, myotherapy etc. to get your head, neck and shoulders in good alignment
- Relax
- Physical exercise, even walking
- Be less mindful*
- Have an alcoholic drink or two* (red wine was recommended to me)
- Get a brain scan if it persists over time (mine came back fine, but it's good to rule it out)

I realise those ones marked with an asterisk are odd advice in the context of a Buddhist form, but if the sensations get that bad, strangely enough, these two options work really well.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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jcsuperstar
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Re: Questions

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:50 am

สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Dhammabodhi
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Re: Questions

Postby Dhammabodhi » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:38 pm

"Take rest, take rest."-S.N.Goenka

Reductor
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Re: Questions

Postby Reductor » Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:02 pm


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jcsuperstar
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Re: Questions

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:21 pm

focusing on the chest is an ajahn tate method who like ajahn lee was a student of ajahn mun, ajahn fuang a student of ajahn lee suggests the whole body method, ajahn thanissaro who was ajahn fuang's student is the one we get all of this translated to us from.. the forest tradition is a quite the interconnected group. :tongue:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

Reductor
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Re: Questions

Postby Reductor » Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:33 pm



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