Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

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Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby SamKR » Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:53 pm

Hi, I am an irregular practitioner of Vipassana meditation as taught by Goenkaji, and I have a specific question. I hope experienced meditators or teachers could help me answering this.

I am having a kind of gross sensation (just like pressure) around the head almost all the time for more than two years. This sensation always makes me feel dull, unfocused, unsharp and is related to my decreased memory power. I think it is somehow related to stress (I mean medical "stress"), and when I follow Bhante Vimalaramsi's method of "releasing", it reduces for sometime, but later comes up again.

But I want to observe this sensation as it is without releasing it deliberately (as taught in this tradition). However, I also feel some subtle vibrating sensations around face/head. Now which should I focus on: that gross pressure like sensation or the vibration like subtle sensation as is encouraged in the tradition (if I am not mistaken)?
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Re: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 03, 2010 9:51 pm

Hello Sam,

Hopefully one of the experienced Goenka meditators will respond today ~

You have had these constant symptoms checked out by the medical profession, haven't you?

with metta
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Re: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby Hoo » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:15 pm

Hi SamKR,

My suggestion is probably as unexpected as one can get. :o Your reference to medical "stress" may be accurate, and worth checking out with a trip to your doctor for an evaluation of its cause. There could be lots of different medical reasons that cause your symptoms. Most are easy to figure otut and treat. But some can be quite serious. Mine turned out to be a brain tumor, and the swelling/pressure it created caused some symptoms similar to what you described.

...gross sensation (just like pressure) around the head (mine were headaches that wouldn't go away). This sensation always makes me feel dull, unfocused, unsharp and is related to my decreased memory power.


I hope yours is nothing so drastic as mine turned out to be! :) Fortunately mine was not immediately fatal and could be dealt with medically. It sounds like your symptoms could have any number of medically manageable causes or cures. Or it may relate to stress and/or high blood pressure, or other circumstances. So I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but it might be beneficial to check out the medical end.

Hoo, who has heard most of the jokes about being brain-damaged but folks are welcome to add to the collection if they wish :)
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Re: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:55 pm

Hi SamKR

Firstly, I second Chris & Hoo's recommendation regarding consulting your doctor - if you haven't already done this.
Secondly, contact your local assistant teacher. If you don't know who your local assistant teacher is, you can find out from your local course centre or consult the worldwide contact list. If you can't access a copy, contact me by pm. Your local assistant teacher or area teacher will be able to give you authoritative advice with regards to your meditation practice at taught within this tradition. I cannot recommend this enough.

Returning to instructions you were give, you will recall Goenkaji mentioning several times during the last few days of the course that at different times you will move through different situations. Experiencing gross and blank sensations, experiencing a combination of gross and subtle sensations, and experiencing uniform subtle sensations. He says that you should sweep where sweeping is possible and then go back and review those parts of the body where sweeping is not possible. He also mentions that some people have the experience of observing subtle and uniform sensations in areas where gross sensations are present. There's nothing wrong with that. Just observe and stay equanimous regardless of any sensation you experience. The objective is not to experience subtle sensation but to develop one's awareness of, and equanimity to, whatever you experience.
Feel free to contact me by pm if you have any further questions.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:18 pm

Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:Firstly, I second Chris & Hoo's recommendation regarding consulting your doctor - if you haven't already done this.
Secondly, contact your local assistant teacher.

Do you have a third suggestion? I ask because I experience the same thing, have tried these two suggestions, but have found no real solution. Whilst I don't think for me it has impacted my mental agility, sometimes it can make me tired.

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: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:30 pm

Hi Paul
I know someone who might be able to give you some advice particular to your situation. I'm happy to pass on the details via pm.
kind regards

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
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Re: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby SamKR » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:45 am

Hoo wrote:Hi SamKR,

My suggestion is probably as unexpected as one can get. :o Your reference to medical "stress" may be accurate, and worth checking out with a trip to your doctor for an evaluation of its cause. There could be lots of different medical reasons that cause your symptoms. Most are easy to figure otut and treat. But some can be quite serious. Mine turned out to be a brain tumor, and the swelling/pressure it created caused some symptoms similar to what you described.


Thanks for your suggestion. I have been to my doctor, and it appears to them that it is nothing organic. I am also having chest pain (in the middle of my chest) for more than a year. They did many tests but everything turned out normal. So they suggested to ignore it, do things that may reduce stress.
Last edited by SamKR on Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby Hoo » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:49 am

Hi SamKR,

I'm glad you've been to the doctor and there's no apparent medical problem to deal with!

EDIT: But I just read further and see you have on ongoing night experience that might contribute, or be part of the symptoms? If there's not the right specialists in Reno, how about over the hill to Sacramento?

Would it be of any benefit to up the level of consultation to a Neurologist to loook for more subtle indications of intra cranial pressure that a family doctor might not be looking for? That's kind of what happened for me, my family doc didn't see my problem in the earlistr symptoms where a neurologist might have. Or maybe to a sleep disorders doctor?

Hoo, about 1.5 hours away from my own neurosurgeon.

BTW, I know my recent experience leaves me sensitive to circumstances that remind me of it. Feel free to ignore my inquiries. I won't be offended at all :)
Last edited by Hoo on Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby SamKR » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:50 am

Ben wrote:Hi SamKR

Firstly, I second Chris & Hoo's recommendation regarding consulting your doctor - if you haven't already done this.
Secondly, contact your local assistant teacher. If you don't know who your local assistant teacher is, you can find out from your local course centre or consult the worldwide contact list. If you can't access a copy, contact me by pm. Your local assistant teacher or area teacher will be able to give you authoritative advice with regards to your meditation practice at taught within this tradition. I cannot recommend this enough.
Ben

Hi Ben,

Thanks for your suggestion.

Since I did not meditate regularly (though I wanted to; I have started doing regularly just for a few days :)) I didn't think that pressure sensation was related to meditation that the teacher can deal with. Or could it be related? I could be wrong but this sensation seems to be related to "stress" deep within my mind (but I don't perceive any reason for my stress). I think it's stress, or any problem related to mind, because I have another symptom too: almost every night after sleeping for half an hour I wake up suddenly, terrified and with palpitation. I consulted doctors, psychologists but no solution. Anyways I will try to meet an assistant teacher, but it seems unlikely anytime soon as I live in Reno, NV where I didn't find teachers in this tradition though I know there are many in California.

Returning to instructions you were give, you will recall Goenkaji mentioning several times during the last few days of the course that at different times you will move through different situations. Experiencing gross and blank sensations, experiencing a combination of gross and subtle sensations, and experiencing uniform subtle sensations. He says that you should sweep where sweeping is possible and then go back and review those parts of the body where sweeping is not possible. He also mentions that some people have the experience of observing subtle and uniform sensations in areas where gross sensations are present. There's nothing wrong with that. Just observe and stay equanimous regardless of any sensation you experience. The objective is not to experience subtle sensation but to develop one's awareness of, and equanimity to, whatever you experience.
Feel free to contact me by pm if you have any further questions.
kind regards

Thanks for reminding me. I will try to do so.
Last edited by SamKR on Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:16 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Two types of sensation: which to focus on?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:51 am

[quote="Ben"]I know someone who might be able to give you some advice particular to your situation. I'm happy to pass on the details via pm./quote]
Thanks Ben.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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