Feeling really despondent...

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

Feeling really despondent...

Postby Beautiful Breath » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:25 am

Hi,

Anyone gone through the same drought I am experiencing? I'm still getting up at 5am, still sitting but not even sure why I am doing it anymore.

Feels like I am just sensation seeking, looking and waiting for some sensation that indicates that its worth it. I know it all sounds like fundamental stuff but I have been practicing for some time now and am a bit frustrated at this - again daft I know but there you have it.

I also have a virtual lecture in my mind too about the apparent virtues of different practices from Anapanasati (my main practice) to Hwadu, Shikantaza...this culminated in a sense if palpable despair that takes up most if not all of the hour I sit.

All advice welcome as ever...!

BB...
Last edited by Beautiful Breath on Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Feeking really despondent...

Postby Ayu » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:37 am

"Feeking" or "Feeling"? :smile:

Yes, i had a feeling of dryness some days ago. I had to accept it and watch it.
For such times I appreciate this one:
http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitak ... dread.html
Just stay in it.
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Re: Feeking really despondent...

Postby Dan74 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:46 am

Beautiful Breath wrote:Hi,

Anyone gone through the same drought I am experiencing? I'm still getting up at 5am, still sitting but not even sure why I am doing it anymore.

Feels like I am just sensation seeking, looking and waiting for some sensation that indicates that its worth it. I know it all sounds like fundamental stuff but I have been practicing for some time now and am a bit frustrated at this - again daft I know but there you have it.

I also have a virtual lecture in my mind too about the apparent virtues of different practices from Anapanasati (my main practice) to Hwadu, Shikantaza...this culminated in a sense if palpable despair that takes up most if not all of the hour I sit.

All advice welcome as ever...!

BB...



Nothing beats practicing exactly where you are, but oftentimes we have no clue where we are (at least me). At times like these it pays to loosen the grip to the main practice and just listen, I think.

I mean if right now you really want to do something else but you are forcing yourself to practice, it makes sense to become fully aware of what you want and deal with it. Otherwise resentment towards practice will build up and won't serve anyone.
Last edited by Dan74 on Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Feeking really despondent...

Postby James the Giant » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:46 am

Sorry to hear you are troubled BB, my best wishes go out to you.

All I can offer is to say; when I gave up hope of progressing in my meditation, I despaired of getting anywhere or achieving anything, I felt really hopeless and bleak, that it was futile and I was no good at this... and I found a measure of peace. Not expecting anything enabled me to just sit and relax into softness. I just sat and breathed, without hope or striving.

Eventually the meditation started moving again, a sense of motion and progress developed, and meditation started feeling useful again.
In retrospect, I'm totally sure it was working even during those weeks of "dead time" where it felt as if I was going nowhere. It's just that it was working deep where I couldn't see or sense it.
I hope that helps.

I also took refuge in my sila. I thought to myself, Well, my meditation might be useless, my future fairly hopeless, but at least I am doing good and keeping the precepts. That sense of having good sila is important to me, it's one thing at least that I can look at and say "yes, I am good at that."
I seem to remember the Buddha recommended we look at our virtues and successes, and take solace in them during dark times.

Best wishes!
James.
Last edited by James the Giant on Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
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Re: Feeking really despondent...

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:36 pm

James the Giant wrote:Sorry to hear you are troubled BB, my best wishes go out to you.

All I can offer is to say; when I gave up hope of progressing in my meditation, I despaired of getting anywhere or achieving anything, I felt really hopeless and bleak, that it was futile and I was no good at this... and I found a measure of peace. Not expecting anything enabled me to just sit and relax into softness. I just sat and breathed, without hope or striving.

Eventually the meditation started moving again, a sense of motion and progress developed, and meditation started feeling useful again.
In retrospect, I'm totally sure it was working even during those weeks of "dead time" where it felt as if I was going nowhere. It's just that it was working deep where I couldn't see or sense it.
I hope that helps.

I also took refuge in my sila. I thought to myself, Well, my meditation might be useless, my future fairly hopeless, but at least I am doing good and keeping the precepts. That sense of having good sila is important to me, it's one thing at least that I can look at and say "yes, I am good at that."
I seem to remember the Buddha recommended we look at our virtues and successes, and take solace in them during dark times.

Best wishes!
James.


:goodpost: Thanks for that James!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Feeking really despondent...

Postby Beautiful Breath » Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:56 pm

Ayu wrote:"Feeking" or "Feeling"? :smile:

Yes, i had a feeling of dryness some days ago. I had to accept it and watch it.
For such times I appreciate this one:
http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitak ... dread.html
Just stay in it.


doh :oops: ....phone fingers...
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby manas » Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:10 pm

Hi/BB

I/sure/can/empathise
with/your/situation

when/such/a/mood/hits/me
i//make/myself/go
back/to/the/anatta/lakkhana/sutta
or/any/other/teaching
that/reminds/me/of/why
im/really/cultivating/anapanasati

not/for/fun/or/enjoyment
but/because/we/are/in
a/precarious/situation
in/reality
even/though
our/psyche/has/become/very/skilled
at/placing/walls/of/denial
around/certain
ever/present/dangers

if/we/notice
we/are/clinging
to/any/of/the/clinging/khandhas
evidenced/by/getting/elated
or/distressed/in/mind
we/should/see/that

despondency/is/just/a/mental/state
it/wont/last/forever
i/know/its/really/tough/to/go/through
i/struggle/with/it/regularly/also
but/over/and/over/if/need/be
when/i/wonder/why/i/am/even/bothering
to/practice/at/all
i/go/over/that/sutta/yet/again

is/form/permanent/or/impermanent?
impermanent
and/is/that/which/is/impermanent/easeful/or/stressful?
stressful
and/is/it/fitting/to/regard/that/which/is/impermanent/and/stressful
/as/"this/is/me/this/is/mine/this/is/what/i/am?"
no...

and/so/on/through/all/the/clinging/khandhas.

ive/found/that/even/though
we/can/understand/intellectually
that/feelings/are/not/fitting
to/be/regarded/as/self
that/nevertheless
when/painful/emotions/arise
its/so/easy/to/slip/into
identifying/with/them
feeling/as/though
"i/feel/so/despondent"
but/upon/closer/examination
this/sadness
is/just/a/passing/phenomenon
of/the/mind
its/no/more/fitting
to/be/regarded/as/"my/sadness"
than/this/fragile/cage
of/flesh/and/bone
is/fitting/to/be/regarded/as
"my/body"

we/practice/whether/or/not
we/are/currently/having/any/fun/with/it
we/practice/to/end/delusion

much/metta/ :anjali:
Last edited by manas on Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby Coyote » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:27 pm

I think good meditation takes a long time to develop, and it is natural to go through stages. Investigate and see what you are doing wrong. Ven. Thanissaro's talks might help as he seems to go into this a lot.
In the mean time though, it might lift your spirits to do some recollections - of the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, Devas ect., and your own Sila as others have mentioned.
Remembering that the Buddha and the Sangha are ordinary humans, albeit with extraordinary parami, can help. Remember that you too have done good in the past to even live in an age where humans are relatively well off, let alone where the Dhamma is flourishing.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby kirk5a » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:54 pm

Beautiful Breath wrote:Feels like I am just sensation seeking, looking and waiting for some sensation that indicates that its worth it.

Well then that's probably what you are doing. I'd try a fresh approach. How about this?
One begins with the body posture that is comfortable whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down, whatever is convenient. One should then make oneself fully aware with just bare awareness, not trying to be aware of "something", just knowing itself alone. One then keeps the citta there continuously, just in bare awareness. There is no need to be discursive or analytical. Don't force it but also don't let the citta be free to follow events.

After a while the citta will go out following sense objects before one can catch it. This is normal for a beginner and when the citta is satisfied with that sense object, one will then again become aware of oneself. When one becomes aware, one should investigate by comparing ones state in still awareness and ones state when the citta is following sense objects. What is the difference? This is a method to make the citta notice and remember.

After this carefully and gently keep the citta in a state of still awareness as before. When one is not mindful, not being careful enough, the citta will again go out to seek some sense object and remain until it is satisfied and then one will again become aware.

When one is again aware, reinvestigate and then gently keep the citta in the state of still awareness as before. By this method, it will not be very long before one is able to control the citta and finally attain Samadhi. One will then be clever in the ways of the citta without having to learn it from another.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajaan_Atulo_Atulo.htm

Also, some food for thought:
"Now, when the mind's inconstant on its own
— aquiver, quick — and you catch sight of it,
that's when you find the ultimate in ease.
Small things obscure our knowledge of the large.
The khandhas totally obscure the Dhamma,
and that's where we go wrong. We waste our time
in watching khandhas so that we don't see
the Dhamma that, though greater than the khandhas,
seems like dust."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/mun/ballad.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby Anagarika » Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:20 pm

BB:

Perhaps today would be a good day for a walking meditation; a walkabout. Get off the cushion, give the mind a day to just be present, and let the body take over the meditation.

Consider also some other form of meditation, with a more physical element. A body scan meditation, to get you out of your head and into the body. A Metta practice, to get you in the outside world, opening compassion for others and then bringing it back to yourself.

Maybe consider some activity to cultivate merit...visit a monastery or sangha...just being around other folks struggling like we all do. Shop for food and bring it to the monks, or to a food pantry, a hospice or a domestic violence shelter.

Once you feel this uplifting from this bodhistta activity, your mind might then refresh and reset itself, and you can come back to the cushion with a cleaner slate.

I understand that the Buddha encouraged the physicality of walking...we've lost some of this physicality in modern times...endless, pointless, painful sitting is certainly not the way. Maybe Gautama understood that the mind can turn in on itself and make sitting meditation, without some physicality, hazardous at times.
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby marc108 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:37 pm

James really hit the nail on the head and BuddhaSoups advice about trying to gladden the mind is extremely wise (and effective). Gladdening the mind off the cushion has immeasurable effects on the mind ON the cushion. think all committed meditators end up going through periods of dryness and despair with their practice. I think the more you can loosen up around short term goals and expectations about sitting, the more you can relax into and enjoy the practice over the long term.

We all go through it, it will pass!
"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: Feeling really despondent...

Postby Bakmoon » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:37 pm

Beautiful Breath wrote:Hi,

Anyone gone through the same drought I am experiencing? I'm still getting up at 5am, still sitting but not even sure why I am doing it anymore.

Feels like I am just sensation seeking, looking and waiting for some sensation that indicates that its worth it. I know it all sounds like fundamental stuff but I have been practicing for some time now and am a bit frustrated at this - again daft I know but there you have it.

I also have a virtual lecture in my mind too about the apparent virtues of different practices from Anapanasati (my main practice) to Hwadu, Shikantaza...this culminated in a sense if palpable despair that takes up most if not all of the hour I sit.

All advice welcome as ever...!

BB...

Ajahn Brahm gives a good simile about this kind of thing. It's the simile of the pay check. A man goes to work on Monday, and after a hard day's work, goes home empty handed and exhausted, wondering why he even bothered. He gets up the next day and does exactly the same thing, wondering why he even bothers. On Wednesday he just wants to stay in bed, but his wife makes him get up and go to work anyways, and the same happens on Thursday. Finally, Friday comes, and he decides to give it another shot, and on Friday he comes home with his paycheck. "Wow!" he thinks to himself, "Why can't every day be payday?"

It's lighthearted, but true. Sometimes our meditation isn't pleasant or peaceful, but we have to go through it anyways, and when we do, we lay down the conditions for good practice later, just like how you have to work for a while before getting your paycheck.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:53 pm

The only thing i can think of that helped me at times like that was to surrender. Surrender all the expectations about practice and buddhims and your self and your ability to do it. Just make up your mind to surrender to the method, to the point of dying if need be, just for the period you sit.
Also, in my experience, doing metta has helped open me up and make me more transparent to my practice method at times, so you might think about doing some metta for a couple of weeks and start with your self. You are also one of the others and if you cant love yourself you cant love them.
Joshu was asked,
"When a man comes to you with nothing,
what would you say to him ?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby SarathW » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:12 am

B.B
Do not give up. I think that your are just about to make it.
This is the bridge (cross rood) between pleasure with material possession and the pleasure without material possession.
Let everything go so your will plunge to the other side of the bridge. :)

PS: please see
Knowing neutral feeling is happiness. Not knowing it is suffering.


http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Cul ... Formations
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:06 am

Hi BB,
Have you tried changing practices to a Brahma Vihara practice, or reflecting of the positive qualities of Generosity or Sila and recollecting on times when these are apparent, framing these sessions into the three characteristics or any other practice?

Beautiful Breath wrote:Hi,

Anyone gone through the same drought I am experiencing? I'm still getting up at 5am, still sitting but not even sure why I am doing it anymore.

Feels like I am just sensation seeking, looking and waiting for some sensation that indicates that its worth it. I know it all sounds like fundamental stuff but I have been practicing for some time now and am a bit frustrated at this - again daft I know but there you have it.

I also have a virtual lecture in my mind too about the apparent virtues of different practices from Anapanasati (my main practice) to Hwadu, Shikantaza...this culminated in a sense if palpable despair that takes up most if not all of the hour I sit.

All advice welcome as ever...!

BB...
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby binocular » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:42 am

Beautiful Breath wrote:Anyone gone through the same drought I am experiencing? I'm still getting up at 5am, still sitting but not even sure why I am doing it anymore.

Feels like I am just sensation seeking, looking and waiting for some sensation that indicates that its worth it. I know it all sounds like fundamental stuff but I have been practicing for some time now and am a bit frustrated at this - again daft I know but there you have it.

I also have a virtual lecture in my mind too about the apparent virtues of different practices from Anapanasati (my main practice) to Hwadu, Shikantaza...this culminated in a sense if palpable despair that takes up most if not all of the hour I sit.


Sometimes, it is recommended that a person take up a physical skill, such as cooking, playing a musical instrument, a craft, knitting, sewing, etc. before starting to formally meditate.
Practicing and mastering physical skills can be very good for developing important qualities such as virtue, concentration, discernment, patience, persistence, endurance.

Imagine what a calm and composed mind one must have to produce something like this.
Afterwards, it may be easier to move on to formal meditation.
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby Aloka » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:16 pm

BeautifulBreath wrote:
I'm still getting up at 5am, still sitting but not even sure why I am doing it anymore.


Maybe try going outside and doing walking meditation for a while instead ?
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby Digity » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:36 pm

I'm experiencing the same sense of despondency, but it's been going on for a while now. Although, I continue to sit each day. If anything, I feel more motivated to sit in hopes that the next time I do I'll snap out of it.
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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:26 pm

Hey Everyone,

I have dealt with the same issue (as I'm sure all of us have) and have found that making my life into an expression of the Dhamma through the practice of sila and dana has really helped to invigorate my practice. Remembering that the meditation is but one component of sila-samadhi-panna may help so get out there and volunteer, clean the house for your partner, make your kids happy, take a homeless person out to lunch. And, perhaps most importantly, don't forget what a precious treasure people like yourself who meditate and seek to purify their hearts are to this world. Sukhi hotu! :hug:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Feeling really despondent...

Postby BlackBird » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:17 pm

From one BB to another, this too will pass.

Because of the medication I'm taking, I struggle to fight off sleepiness when I meditate these days. Occasionally I'm successful and I have a good session (which is part of what keeps me going), but where I could formerly get somewhere close to jhana on any given session, now I spend most of my time redirecting myself to the breath from some bizzare pre-sleep fantasy world. I can comfortably sit for an hour, probably even two, and get absolutely nowhere beyond gaining a slight general sense of ease. When I compare it to what I used to be able to do it's nothing, but when I compare it to the alternative of not sitting at all, it still has a value.

I should really do more walking meditation to make up for it, I'm starting to feel. Certainly turning mundane tasks into mindfulness exersises helps make up for the lack of samadhi. Radiating metta throughout the day is another thing I do to make up things. At the end of the day I know as I come down and gradually come off my medication, I will regain my ability to stay awake.

I love Jame's advice above, that's essentially where I'm at now. With the fading of expectation, one gets a renewed take on meditation.

If there's one thing I've learnt over the years it's that expectation is one of the biggest hindrances there is.

metta
Jack
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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