Mental pain in meditation - Dhamma Wheel

Mental pain in meditation

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Mental pain in meditation

Postby BryanRoberts » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:45 am

I suffer from a neurosis called pure OCD. It permeates my meditation. Only recently I have learned how to meditate, and have been doing a fair bit of it these past fews days. When I sit, the neurosis becomes louder than when my mind is distracted by daily doings. It consumes most of my focus, there is nothing I can do about that, I let the neurotic OCD thoughts come and go and they all come with an element of anxiety, and all these uncomfortable emotions come up, they become so damn loud at first, to the point where my meditation is not listening to breath since listening to the breath is literally impossible, it is about listening to my neurosis without getting involved in it. I have tried pushing past the thoughts and forcing my attention on the breath but that just makes matters worse so now I just sit with the mental pain and let it run its course. The whole experience is pain, sometimes excruciating, but it allows some space to enter the painful thoughts. When I meditate lately, I feel worse than when I am not meditating, by far, and for the most part there is only fleeting moments of being one with the breath as the neurosis can be so loud. After awhile it becomes less loud but it still is painful and not fun at all, but I am able to see it happen without being swept mindlessly in it. Its kind of funny that meditation for me is a time of mostly pain but I can say without a doubt it is doing me good. It is like taking a painful poo, when I am done, I feel relieved and more awake and alive and at peace than before the meditation. It makes it so I can write this message in a state of meditation since there is a stimulus here (typing this) which fills my mind but when it comes to meditation the stimulation of listening to breath it isn't as easy since the stimulation is so quiet. I was wondering if anybody else had meditations like this. I am not sure why I feel compelled to share this because there is no particular questions I have, I just wanted to share and see what others have to say. Metta. It can be confusing at times to hear talks about meditation since my experience seems to have little common ground to the experience of other people.

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Re: Mental pain in meditation

Postby DAWN » Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:36 am

Try to contamplain your mind and body, it must be very intresting in your situation.

When pain arise :
"-Hm, my body (mind) feel pain here or here.
-What is the sort of pain?
-How it mouves.
-Hmm.. intresting
-What exactly make me percive it like somethink painfull, which element?
-And if i tuch it? Feel compassion to it? If i lead my concentration on other part of body (some plesant feeling)? ...what will heppens?
- Hmm, intresting, this pain mike arise such and such toughts.
- My body want to stand up. And if i stay a little more, what would be reaction of my mind? Of my body?
- And if i will forgot the last minutes of suffering, and will concentrate on the pain's present moment? ....Now. ....Now.... Now... (until you establish present moment)
- Intresting, there is feeling of pain in presen moment, but there is no suffering in present moment.

Investigate your mind, and your body like this.
Like a scientist who want to know the fonctioning of illness, of pain, body, feeling, perception, volitional formations, consciosness... all fenomena. Like a scientist who want to find the medicament, the exit, the end of suffering. :meditate:

I wish you the best.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

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Re: Mental pain in meditation

Postby James the Giant » Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:52 pm

Last edited by James the Giant on Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.

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Re: Mental pain in meditation

Postby gavesako » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:20 pm

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Mental pain in meditation

Postby BryanRoberts » Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:19 pm

"I wonder how you could make the OCD work FOR you, instead of against you... hmm...
Continual return of the attention to a single task or object, that's very OCD, and very much a vital part of meditation. i wonder if that could be harnessed. Or if there's a more suitable kind of mediation for your situation.

Anyway, good luck and best wishes."

Thanks for posting your response, refreshing. I think this may be true as sometimes the pain is like a brick and daydreaming about other things does not and can not happen, it is easy to focus on the brick and easy to know when I am distracting myself as I have to put effort into distraction. When the brick dissipates (I actually meditated for two hours after writing this and it was a pretty peaceful meditation, was so relieved for it not being painful that I felt I wanted to just stay with the breath for eternity) I am very grateful to have the chance to be with my breath that I do not daydream or get distracted for more than a few moments here and there. I hope that if my neurosis settles that I am able to appreciate the breath to the extent I do now. Of course though, thinking about how it will be in the future is pointless, :rolleye: . Right now I wouldn't say my OCD is working against me in meditation, sure it sucks, but it is what it is, its doing its thing, and there is no avoiding it, facing it head on seems to be the way. Some psychologists recommend people with pure OCD constantly keep busy, deep down I know that is not how to do it.

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Re: Mental pain in meditation

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:18 pm


First of all, I hope you are being followed by a mental health professional and if not, please go see one.

Regarding pure OCD, the key (for me) to dealing with intrusive thoughts is to say to my self: let them come to my mind at will. Let this fear come at will. The problem of pure OCD is atributing importance to thoughts, and reacting to thoughts. So the key is to accept whatever fear you have into your mind. If you have OCD you know one thing: your fears are irrational. So let them come at will. They will not harm you if you don't give them importance. Neither they will harm others. The next thing you'll face is the "What if I'm not capable of ignoring these thoughts?" fear. Let that fear also come into your mind and just let it be without giving it importance. "What if I'm giving it importance?" Let it come too! Let whatever negative thought that arises, arise naturaly. Only when your negative thoughts are dealt with naturaly will you be able to get insight from them.

Another thing is: if your intrusive thoughts are too strong, instead of siting meditation do walking mindfulness,which is a kind of vipassana . This way, the intrusive thoughts won't get in the way, they are integral part of meditation. Let them come and observe them. Then recenter your atention in the walking meditation. The reason for this is that when you have intrusive thoughts while trying to do samatha, your body is relaxed and very tense at the same time, which is not a good combination. After you get up, you feel very tense and peaceful at the same time. I think it's unhealthy.

I hope this helps.

Be well :)
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Re: Mental pain in meditation

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:36 pm

Greetings BR,

It appears that when you meditate and intrusive thoughts enter your mind, you react with a habituated response of intense aversion, experience anxiety and desire to escape the anxiety by relenting to the compulsive object or behaviour.

For as long as possible, keep your attention focused on the breath. In the Visuddhimagga, the quality of this attention is described as something being placed on something else. It should be gentle. When you notice the mind has wandered away, without negativity or judgementalism, simply return it to the object of the breath. When the intrusive thoughts and emotions come and gather intensity it is best to try and understand that they are transitory ephemeral, just thoughts, just emotions, just sensations. They are not me, my or I - it is only by identifying with the thoughts, emotions and sensations that we suffer.

Everyone experiences all the five hindrances when they commence their meditation practice. Some, like yourself, experience some of the hindrances more intensely than others. Meditation practice is mental cultivation/mental training to overcome the hindrances and eradicate the other root defilements. It is at times extremely hard work and very confronting.

If your OCD is affecting the quality of your life, then as Monus Ponens said, it would be best to consult a doctor. And there is no reason why you cannot continue with your meditation practice and receive medical consultation/treatment at the same time.
with metta,

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Mental pain in meditation

Postby khlawng » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:29 am

Dear BR,

Can I suggest you start from the very beginning and assuming you have decided to embrace buddhism and the buddha's teaching, start with something simpler.

For a start, wake and just spend 5 minutes doing some simple pali chanting. Afterwhich, make a vow sincerely, that you would like to start your path towards nibbana by following the buddha's teaching.

Then for 20 minutes, just close your eyes and do metta meditation. Send thoughts of loving kindness to yourself FIRST by saying:

May I be well and happy.
May I be free from suffering, free from enemies, free from disease and free from grief.
May I take care of myself happily.

Then go on send loving kindness to your immediate family, friends and relatives, colleagues, those people you are having disagreements with and then to all beings in all realms. Keep doing that on a daily basis until you can nail this down as a routine. You should feel happier about yourself and feel the conviction after a month or so.

Sometimes, it is necessary to build on the Saddha (faith) part before even attempting to work on any of the samadhi stuff. Be patient with yourself and don't feel like you need to meet some goal or achieve some target quickly. Those will come in the appropriate time.

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