Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

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

Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby StillWaters » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:12 am

Hello ladies and gents. I'd like to get some feedback on a serious issue I've had with my practice of mindfulness and meditation. Practicing either one of them makes me very anxious, tense, and stiff in addition to tremendous physical pain. When I began practicing last February it wasn't a problem, but as the weeks went by I noticed myself feeling a lot of tension building up during my meditation sessions. After some months it became worse. My mind on the other hand became increasingly calm. I learned very much so to "ride the waves" so to speak, but physiologically, my body was a mess. I began to feel a lot of pain in certain parts of my body like my neck, my back, and I began to feel strange sensations that I still can't adequately describe. The tension and pain started in my meditation practice, but then expanded to my practice of mindfulness. Eventually it got to the point where I was no longer able to practice meditation, and then mindfulness as well. At the time I stopped, I had been meditating daily for 4 months using various meditation audiotapes(Radical Acceptance with Tara Broch and Another cd with several different meditations)

Have any of you ever heard of this type of experience before? I certainly haven't and I'm at a loss. Practicing both and the tenets associated with them allowed me to live a life that I greatly appreciated. I would be very grateful for any input. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:27 am

Greetings,

It's not something I've experienced, but I wonder... could you be experiencing the effects of anxiety / panic attacks?

:?:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby cooran » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:42 am

Hello Stillwaters,

Many people in the West are unaware of the degree of the lack of love most Westerners unconsciously carry for themselves.
I would advise putting other types of meditation aside for a while and doing only Metta (Lovingkindness) Meditation towards oneself initially for some weeks, and then including other beings.

Ajahn Sujato - Unconditional Love
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2810

with metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby marc108 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:13 am

how long are you sitting? have you learned correct posture, re: hip positions & spine position?
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby manas » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:10 pm

Hi StillWaters

The tension and pain started in my meditation practice, but then expanded to my practice of mindfulness. Eventually it got to the point where I was no longer able to practice meditation, and then mindfulness as well. At the time I stopped, I had been meditating daily for 4 months using various meditation audiotapes(Radical Acceptance with Tara Broch and Another cd with several different meditations)


Well sometimes we need to try out a few different sets of instructions, and find which one works best for us. Maybe your current sets of audiotapes are not for you, even if they have helped some other people. Maybe you need some different guidance. If you search around this site there could be some links to some guided meditations you could try. Or you could visit a local monastery and ask for some advice, if the monks there are skilled in and follow the meditative tradition you are interested in.

I actually have the opposite problem to yourself. Mindfulness and meditation has released so much stress and tension from my body over the years. Looking back to my early twenties when I began, I think my body was like a coiled up spring back then, compared to now. My issue is that difficult emotions come up. But I see it as part of a healing process - they come up for my attention, so that I can heal them. Maybe the physical tension is like that for you, too. Your body is kind of telling you that it needs your kind attention.

This last bit is just my own experience, but my body sometimes 'speaks' to me, and pain is one way it does so. Once I was trying to give up smoking, and it was like, my mind wanted it, but my body didn't. Once, when I thought about lighting up, I felt my gallbladder contract slightly (I am not supposed to smoke at all, due to liver issues). It was as if it was saying, 'please, no, don't do that!' But I did not give up yet. A few days later, I was about to light up, and I got this pain in my head - as if my forebrain was saying, 'no, don't do that to me again!' This time I actually listened. (I have given up properly now, of course.) It was a very interesting experience, how my own body (which is of course infused with consciousness) actually has an intelligence about it. Of course the body is made up of inert matter, but it is constantly in motion, pulsating, and enlivened at present. So there is more than *just* matter involved; consciousness is involved also. So once again, listen to your body, and be kind to it. It might be trying to tell you something.

:anjali:
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Re: Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby David2 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:17 pm

The best thing about pain and anxiety is that it is impermanent. It will end. It is changing, more or less, in every moment.
It's quite possible that after a few years of following the Buddha's path you hardly can imagine that there once was this anxiety.

And even in shorter terms, the anxiety is very impermanent. The strength of it is fluctuating.

When we feel strong anxiety, it often feels like we are dieing. But that's just a delusion.
Even behind the most serious pain there is peace. The more mindful we are, the more we recognise this peace, the more we are able to enjoy this peace, the less the pain is a problem.
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Re: Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby befriend » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:08 pm

yes i have. i suffer from anxiety and another thing and i think thats part of the process of healing, i also have listened and bought a tara brach cd and i think its just the negative energy leaving your body. I AM NOT SURE THOUGH. but any healing meditiations i do involve releasing negativity, about 2 weeks ago i felt sad for no reason i chalked it up to be the healing meditations, because i think thats whats supposed to happen.
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Re: Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby StillWaters » Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:34 pm

Thanks for all the responses. I really appreciate the support.

@retrofuturist

It did culminate in that. In fact, the last time I meditated I had a panic attack with pretty severe hyperventilating. That is when I stopped.

@ cooran

I like those meditations. In fact, I was doing 2+ of those types of meditation weekly. I didn't change the amount of tension I had though, but the way I thought about myself began to change in dramatic ways. I'd love to do start doing those again, but I fear the looming neurosis that may result as a byproduct.

@ marc108

I have been shown twice. I doubt that's the issue, but I am open. Even the body scan meditations that I usually did laying on the ground resulted in tension although not as severe.

@ manas

I plan to go to a local center for meditation/yoga/mindfulness to ask questions. I should also look into going to a monastery, thanks. I would be open to the idea that the audiotapes don't suit me, however, the thing I find so strange is how much of a positive experience it has been for me emotionally and mentally, yet physiologically its the opposite. Even while thinking about some of these mindfulness tenets I find myself getting tense and also at the same time feeling a deep connection with myself. If I were to take a guess at what my body is trying to tell me based on the many ways I've tried to understand where this pain is coming from, it would be: "Stop trying so much". I've tried practicing just mindfulness without meditation and the same the happens. It seems as though any effort I put into doing something differently over a continual basis has the same effect.

@ David2

I would tend to agree if the it didn't appear that the anxiety and pain stemmed directly as a result of the practice. The symptoms only worsened. My breathing began to change as well, sometimes feeling like my head isnt getting enough oxygen. I would have more faith if I were to be told that this situation has been known to occur in some and that it does subside, but I haven't.

@ befriend

Thanks for the response. I don't have problems with fluctuating emotions; I'm used to that. It's the pain and anxiety. I would feel very anxious just walking up the stairs coming from the subway and that was the least of my problems. I never felt/feel this way without the practice.
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Re: Meditation and mindfulness provoking pain and anxiety

Postby befriend » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:42 pm

maybe you should email a kalyana mitta see what they say. karuna, befriend
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