Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Myotai » Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:33 pm

Hi,

The more I try the worse it gets.

Over recent weeks the more I try to remain focused on the breath the more I experience sleepiness, lethargy, massive amounts of day-dreaming and so on...

Its actually getting to the point where I am feeling like its counter-productive and I may have to rethink my practice altogether. I am currently arising at 4am as usual and after some chanting often spending the next 30/40mins in a sort of foggy and hazy doze!

Anyone else experience this?


Thanks in advance!

M...
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Ben » Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:55 pm

If you are getting up at 4am you should try and get to bed by 9pm.
Also, keep in mind that lethargy, sleepiness and distractedness are very normal responses to meditation.
This publication you might find useful:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el026.html
Kind regards,
Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Myotai » Mon Feb 03, 2014 1:10 pm

Ben wrote:If you are getting up at 4am you should try and get to bed by 9pm.
Also, keep in mind that lethargy, sleepiness and distractedness are very normal responses to meditation.
This publication you might find useful:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el026.html
Kind regards,
Ben


Thanks Ben,

I know that I shouldn't really think in terms of progress, but I seem to be taking steps back rather than forward. I can remember a time where my mind dropped nicely into Anapanasati with little effort - this felt like the culmination of dedicated practice, where did that all go?? :broke:
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Babadhari » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:45 pm

hi myotai

you might find the suggestions here helpful for increasing alertness when you sit

http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practi ... and-torpor
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Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Mkoll » Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:20 pm

Myotai wrote:
Ben wrote:If you are getting up at 4am you should try and get to bed by 9pm.
Also, keep in mind that lethargy, sleepiness and distractedness are very normal responses to meditation.
This publication you might find useful:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el026.html
Kind regards,
Ben


Thanks Ben,

I know that I shouldn't really think in terms of progress, but I seem to be taking steps back rather than forward. I can remember a time where my mind dropped nicely into Anapanasati with little effort - this felt like the culmination of dedicated practice, where did that all go?? :broke:

I have no intention of being flippant here but it went where everything else conditioned goes. Namely, that which arises and and passes away does so in dependence upon conditions.

There's a sutta that recommends not thinking: "May my [aggregate] be like this now as it was in the past!" I wouldn't try reviving what is dead or chasing after ghosts. Maybe change your approach or your meditation subject for awhile?

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Myotai » Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:26 pm

Mkoll wrote:
Myotai wrote:
Ben wrote:If you are getting up at 4am you should try and get to bed by 9pm.
Also, keep in mind that lethargy, sleepiness and distractedness are very normal responses to meditation.
This publication you might find useful:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el026.html
Kind regards,
Ben


Thanks Ben,

I know that I shouldn't really think in terms of progress, but I seem to be taking steps back rather than forward. I can remember a time where my mind dropped nicely into Anapanasati with little effort - this felt like the culmination of dedicated practice, where did that all go?? :broke:

I have no intention of being flippant here but it went where everything else conditioned goes. Namely, that which arises and and passes away does so in dependence upon conditions.

There's a sutta that recommends not thinking: "May my [aggregate] be like this now as it was in the past!" I wouldn't try reviving what is dead or chasing after ghosts. Maybe change your approach or your meditation subject for awhile?

:anjali:


Possibly, though feels a little deflating. Not really chasing after anything to be honest. But didn't factor in going into reverse either!
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby suttametta » Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:57 pm

You are not thinking enough. If you are sleepy, rest. When refreshed meditate only for a short spell. Think through the anapanasati Tetrads. Breathe in thinking X, Breathe out thinking X, etc. then get up and make some tea. Sit down and go again. Also you can think through the themes in Nandakovada Sutta in a very linear fashion. :anjali:
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:26 pm

I have had problems with this a couple of times in my meditation practice over the years. Just echoing what some others said, make sure you are getting enough sleep, make sure you are getting a good diet.
Other than that, splashing cold water on your face can help, sometimes you can concentrate your way out of drowsiness.
Sometimes though you just have to doggedly sit through things like this. In a few weeks or a few months or even a few days you will look back at this and wonder and be grateful that its over :)
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:36 pm

Is it the same if you sit in the evening before bed? If not switch to doing it in the evening for a while and see how that goes. A 4am start is pretty difficult for anyone who has a job, family etc.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:56 pm

Myotai,

I have been doing this for years and recommend all of the advice given as well as this: persevere. Just keep going. Do what is sensible, try changing times, doing more walking but stick to it. I admire your effort and commitment and I hope you realize what a wonderful thing you're doing for yourself and everyone else. It is rare. Anumodana!
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Ben » Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:14 am

Hi Myotai,
Something else I learned that I want to share with you that I think might be relevant to your situation...

I think we are conditioned to think that if we have an easy, pleasant, or rarified experience while meditating then it is 'good' and difficult experiences are 'not so good'. It's sometimes a hard lesson to realise that our experience of meditation whether it is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral is not a reliable indicator of progress.

What you are doing when you are practicing anapana is essentially retraining your mind. Much in the same way an athlete trains his or her body through physical exertions. It's no easy task for the athlete nor the meditator. The path will at times will appear long and arduous. Expect to get up close and personal with all the hindrances. Just keep going.

You might also wish to read Ledi Sayadaws gem the anapana dipani and using his instructions as a guide.

http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh431-p.html

With metta,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby kirk5a » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:55 am

Maybe you're bored with the breath, such that you just can't muster any concentration/energy. There are other meditation themes, you know. I don't see why it has to be the breath and nothing but the breath every time. Maybe you need something else right now. What about the "dhatus" (elements/properties) - earth, air, water, fire, space, consciousness?
"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: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby kmath » Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:58 am

It's gotta be that you're up at 4 am. I mean, go back to sleep and try again at 5 or 6. Or do some kind of yoga or chi gung in the morning to wake you up before sitting. Or do walking meditation in the morning.

Sitting never works for me in the AM either. Walk in the morning, sit at night.
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Feb 04, 2014 6:49 am

kmath wrote:Sitting never works for me in the AM either. Walk in the morning, sit at night.

I'm the other way round :shrug: but I do think walking meditation is a good solution to drowsiness in sitting.

:meditate:
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby khlawng » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:19 pm

Myotai wrote:I know that I shouldn't really think in terms of progress, but I seem to be taking steps back rather than forward. I can remember a time where my mind dropped nicely into Anapanasati with little effort - this felt like the culmination of dedicated practice, where did that all go?? :broke:


For me, this is always a sign that I am on to something. I call it regression-progression.
Its like the mind is trying to stop you and would go all out with all sorts of thoughts and hindrances just to see if you would give up.
Some are easy to overcome but others just almost breaks you!
Its our minds anyway and it knows all our weakness and how to manifest the temptations to stop you from progressing.
Anyway, for some reason, I always regress a step back and then progress 2 steps forward.
I am not suggesting that this is happening to you but maybe you want to just gear up and keep at it and keep up the fight.
Afterall you have nothing to loose.
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby purple planet » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:42 pm

in my way of practicing : mahasi sayadaw style - i do walking before sitting - for the same amount of time - its very good for many reasons but also to prevent sleepiness - also if i manage to be mindful of the sleepiness it goes away - but that happens when the mindfulness is strong enough

this felt like the culmination of dedicated practice, where did that all go?? :broke:

i asked this same question - didnt get an answer yet - i guess for now we just need to "be like water" and flow- and do are best we can and try again and again until we succeed - i do know that we are supposedly always advancing its just that were not abale to notice it yet - even when we think we went back - so keep practicing - good luck :twothumbsup:
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Mkoll » Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:12 pm

I've found that meditating at night allows me to awaken more refreshed in the morning and thus wake up earlier to meditate. I can wake up refreshed with ~6 hours of sleep and as long as I don't give into sloth-torpor in the warm bed upon awakening, getting up is fine. I've found that when I oversleep or fail to meditate at night, I wake up groggier and am groggier in the late evening. YMMV.
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:13 pm

Myotai wrote:Anyone else experience this?


Oh yes, and meditation sometimes feels like "1 step forward, 2 steps back"!

Lots of good advice here already, but if all else fails I'd suggest just sitting in front of your shrine ( whatever ) and relaxing for a while.
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Myotai » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:26 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Myotai,

I have been doing this for years and recommend all of the advice given as well as this: persevere. Just keep going. Do what is sensible, try changing times, doing more walking but stick to it. I admire your effort and commitment and I hope you realize what a wonderful thing you're doing for yourself and everyone else. It is rare. Anumodana!


Thanks for saying that, its nice to hear - selflessly of course! I work alone and so very rarely get to sit and talk with a teacher so this forum is priceless to me.
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Re: Anapana Almost Impossible now...

Postby Myotai » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:32 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Myotai wrote:Anyone else experience this?


Oh yes, and meditation sometimes feels like "1 step forward, 2 steps back"!

Lots of good advice here already, but if all else fails I'd suggest just sitting in front of your shrine ( whatever ) and relaxing for a while.


Oddly enough I do that sometimes....usually after an (unproductive as it were) practice...
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