Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

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

Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Zimesky » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:04 pm

These have been the recent traits that seem to re-occur in most of my meditations lately. I've been trying to practice Anapana for my primary meditation, supplementing it with walking/standing meditation. Every time I sit, I tend to drift off into a dream state, filled with vivid imagery. I'm conscious but unable to focus my thoughts back to my breath. After a time my attention will seem to naturally fall back to the breathing, but soon drifting/dreaming off again. After a time I'll get up and do walking meditation, but as soon as I sit down again, my concentration becomes hazy and groggy, and the vivid dreaming will start up again.

After I'm finished meditating I always feel very groggy and my head feels like it's in a daze. It's actually getting to the point where I'm developing an aversion to meditating because the whole process isn't very comfortable at all, leaving me drained and tired. Any thoughts or help would be incredibly appreciated.
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby daverupa » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:18 pm

A few things come to mind.

One may be general sleep - make sure you're well-rested because deficiencies here can have all sorts of effects (while we're on the subject, be sure to drink enough water as well).

Another may be something I've described to myself as cotton-head, but which your description also resembles. I found that this happened for me when I was trying to do anapanasati via a single-point focus, say a nostril or something. These days I don't do it that way, and so the cottony side effects don't occur either.

Finally, it may also be an occasion of the sloth-n-torpor hindrance, or something along those lines where a skilled antidote is called for, some manner of gladdening the mind or other tools for raising energy.

It will take careful examination in your own case, so I hope these possible directions of inquiry are useful.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Aloka » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:22 pm

Hi Zimesky,

I wonder if this might be helpful in some way :

http://www.buddhanet.net/nowknow2.htm

With kind wishes,

Aloka
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Zimesky » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:33 pm

Thanks for the response =) May I ask how you practice Anapana without the single pointed focusing? I'm also not very familiar with gladness meditation. I also agree that the issues I have seem to fall within the purview of the Sloth-Torpor Hindrance, also Doubt, as well. I always seem to be questioning myself on wither I'm doing the method correctly, or if my attention/awareness, or concentration of the breath is correct. Some people say be aware of the nostrils, some just say be aware of the duration of the breath in general, others say counting, and within counting many say different methods of counting are effective.

I feel like I've read enough (probably too much, honestly), that somewhere in my mental database I probably have the correct answers for myself. Although if I start analyzing my meditation, it feels like a self guided lecture class on Anapana, instead of practice. My confidence in my practice is not very high, to say the least!

EDIT: Thanks for the link, Aloka =) I'll check it out.
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby daverupa » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:26 pm

Zimesky wrote:Thanks for the response =) May I ask how you practice Anapana without the single pointed focusing? I'm also not very familiar with gladness meditation...


In reading over the usual sixteen aspects of anapanasati in four tetrads, the relevant points here are aspects three and ten.

I consider the third step to involve a broad point of view which encompasses the whole body while breathing, rather than narrowly considering "the whole breath" as the meaning. Therefore, not only does the third step involve a broad encompassing observation, but the fourth step involves calming involvement with that totality rather than a focus on calming the breath.

The tenth step of gladdening comes between experiencing the mind and calming the mind, all within the third tetrad of anapanasati. What comes to mind for me in this connection are passages such as:

And for one who is abiding contemplating body as body,[*] a bodily object arises, or bodily distress, or mental sluggishness, that scatters his mind outward. Then the monk should direct his mind to some satisfactory image. When the mind is directed to some satisfactory image, happiness is born. From this happiness, joy is then born. With a joyful mind, the body relaxes. A relaxed body feels content, and the mind of one content becomes concentrated.


---

Some people say be aware of the nostrils, some just say be aware of the duration of the breath in general, others say counting, and within counting many say different methods of counting are effective... My confidence in my practice is not very high, to say the least!


Note that you're supposed to be able to be aware of the breathing for every tetrad, not just the first. Thus, since counting and nostril-focus and that lot aren't discussed in the instructions, while paying attention to certain other things alongside the breath is discussed, try wandering around the anapanasati texts on their own terms for a while, letting others address points of confusion about those instructions instead of adding to them.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Zimesky » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:20 pm

Thank you kindly again, Daverupoa =) And thanks again to Aloka for the link. After I read it I followed the link back to the main site and found my way to a PDF of Ajan Cha's teachings. I paged through to a section called "On Medtation" I stumbled onto a passage that nearly perfectly describes my issues. Although I don't quit know if he mentions a way to fix them, or I didn't understand or catch the method he may have prescribed. It's on pages 85-87. http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/teachings_chah.pdf

Here is most of the piece I'm talking about. I'm hoping somebody with a better grasp on this kind of material may be able to clear it up! He clearly mentions the issues that come up for me, but then he goes on to talk about different ways to develop samadhi. I'm not sure if he's saying to use Wisdom to move forward or, if he just brushes over the issue for a moment and moves on.

But if mental energy is still not strong and mindfulness weak, there will occasionally
arise intruding mental impressions. The mind is peaceful but it's as if there's a 'cloudiness'
within the calm. It's not a normal sort of drowsiness though, some impressions will
manifest – maybe we'll hear a sound or see a dog or something. It's not really clear but
it's not a dream either. This is because these five factors have become unbalanced and
weak.
The mind tends to play tricks within these levels of tranquillity. 'Imagery' will sometimes
arise when the mind is in this state, through any of the senses, and the meditator
may not be able to tell exactly what is happening. “Am I sleeping? No. Is it a dream? No,
it's not a dream...” These impressions arise from a middling sort of tranquillity; but if the
1Jh¯ana is an advanced state of concentration or sam¯adhi, wherein the mind becomes absorbed into its
meditation subject. It is divided into four levels, each level progressively more rened than the previous
one.
ON MEDITATION 86
mind is truly calm and clear we don't doubt the various mental impressions or imagery
which arise. Questions like, “Did I drift off then? Was I sleeping? Did I get lost?...”
don't arise, for they are characteristics of a mind which is still doubting. “Am I asleep or
awake?”... Here, the mind is fuzzy. This is the mind getting lost in its moods. It's like the
moon going behind a cloud. You can still see the moon but the clouds covering it render
it hazy. It's not like the moon which has emerged from behind the clouds clear, sharp and
bright.
When the mind is peaceful and established rmly in mindfulness and self-awareness,
there will be no doubt concerning the various phenomena which we encounter. The mind
will truly be beyond the hindrances. We will clearly know everything which arises in the
mind as it is. We do not doubt because the mind is clear and bright. The mind which
reaches sam¯adhi is like this
Some people nd it hard to enter sam¯adhi because they don't have the right tendencies.
There is sam¯adhi, but it's not strong or rm. However, one can attain peace through
the use of wisdom, through contemplating and seeing the truth of things, solving problems
that way. This is using wisdom rather than the power of sam¯adhi. To attain calm
in practice, it's not necessary to be sitting in meditation, for instance. Just ask yourself,
“Eh, what is that?... “ and solve your problem right there! A person with wisdom is like
this. Perhaps he can't really attain high levels of sam¯adhi, although there must be some,
just enough to cultivate wisdom. It's like the difference between farming rice and farming
corn. One can depend on rice more than corn for one's livelihood. Our practice can be
like this, we depend more on wisdom to solve problems. When we see the truth, peace
arises.
The two ways are not the same. Some people have insight and are strong in wisdom
but do not have much sam¯adhi. When they sit in meditation they aren't very peaceful.
They tend to think a lot, contemplating this and that, until eventually they contemplate
happiness and suffering and see the truth of them. Some incline more towards this than
sam¯adhi. Whether standing, walking, sitting or lying, enlightenment of the Dhamma can
take place. Through seeing, through relinquishing, they attain peace. They attain peace
through knowing the truth, through going beyond doubt, because they have seen it for
themselves.
Other people have only little wisdom but their sam¯adhi is very strong. They can
enter very deep sam¯adhi quickly, but not having much wisdom, they cannot catch their
delements, they don't know them. They can't solve their problems.
But regardless of whichever approach we use, we must do away with wrong thinking,
leaving only right view. We must get rid of confusion, leaving only peace.
Either way we end up at the same place. There are these two sides to practice, but
these two things, calm and insight, go together. We can't do away with either of them.
They must go together.
Zimesky
 
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:03 pm

Zimesky wrote:These have been the recent traits that seem to re-occur in most of my meditations lately. I've been trying to practice Anapana for my primary meditation, supplementing it with walking/standing meditation. Every time I sit, I tend to drift off into a dream state, filled with vivid imagery. I'm conscious but unable to focus my thoughts back to my breath. After a time my attention will seem to naturally fall back to the breathing, but soon drifting/dreaming off again. After a time I'll get up and do walking meditation, but as soon as I sit down again, my concentration becomes hazy and groggy, and the vivid dreaming will start up again.

After I'm finished meditating I always feel very groggy and my head feels like it's in a daze. It's actually getting to the point where I'm developing an aversion to meditating because the whole process isn't very comfortable at all, leaving me drained and tired. Any thoughts or help would be incredibly appreciated.

Hi, Zimesky,
I'm familiar with the symptoms you describe :embarassed: and I think Dave's first thought is well worth considering. If you meditate in the evenings, simply shifting to mornings may help. Works for me! :smile:

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Kabouterke » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:04 pm

I think we've all experienced periods like this in our meditation practice, whether it be for a few hours or for a few weeks. Sometimes I noticed that I can get so-called "cotton head" (thanks for that term, that's a good one :P ) for a few minutes, and sometimes it cycles. Sometimes it becomes a "theme" in the meditation that you have to work through. Realize that it is one of the hindrances (usually caused when concentration is strong but mindfulness is very weak) and that it is really something that you have to understand and work with. It's an essential step in every meditator's journey, and it looks like your time has come :P The point is to not back off or make it "go away" per se, but to realize the true nature of what is going on when you get "cotton-head." These are one of the first big hurdles in meditation in any meditation tradition, so I encourage not to give up and give it your best. Although frustrating, it is an opportunity to seriously advance your meditation practice.

There're a few things I would recommend:

Sujiva recommended a few specific things, mostly techniques discussed in the Pali Canon as well as from the empirical traditions. Look through this book and try a few of these things out.
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/essentials.pdf

Another thing that helped me / is helping me understand sloth & torpor was this wonderful little pamphlet by Sayadaw U Panditabhivamsa about mindfulness. What exactly is mindfulness (sati)? And how is it different from concentration (samadhi)? What qualities does sati have, or should it have? This strong, energetic approach, typical of the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition, really helped me. I often just glance through this brochure right before sitting vipassana as a helpful reminder of exactly what I should be bringing to my meditation.
http://www.saddhamma.org/pdfs/the-meani ... tthana.pdf

Hope it helps!!! You will "get past it" as long as you welcome it as a chance to grow.
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Zimesky » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:15 pm

Thanks for the links Kabouterke =) I'll get started on reading them right away. Also, again thanks for everyone else' advice/links as well!
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Kabouterke » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:06 pm

Hi ZIMESKY... Just found this book by Sayadaw U Pandita and thought of you... Chapter 2 (only 1-2 pages) of this free PDF talks specifically about sloth and torpor and it made me think of you.

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/upandita/
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Re: Grogginess, vivid images, poor concentration.

Postby Zimesky » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:32 am

Awesome! Thank you so much! I've downloaded it and will get started on it tonight. As a small update, I'm still definitely dealing with the Sloth-Torpor. It's interesting though, I'll drift along in a heavy, foggy, dream state, then I'll spontaneously become very focused, and I can feel an energy flooding my arms and chest, sometimes going up to my head. During this I'll be very alert, and very focused. Then I feel, I think excited would be a good word for it. I feel like I'm actually meditating, and then I'll slowly lose the alertness and focus, and slide back into a Sloth-Torpor. Does, or did this happen to anyone else?
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