Meditation going off the rails

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 going off the rails

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:23 pm

Hello there, allow me to share a little bit of background. I've been meditating for maybe a year now, and although I'm certainly no master, I am at a comfortable level that I know well; I haven't experienced a huge amount of progress in the last couple months, but there has a definite improving of concentration, insight, etc. over time.

However, just in the last week or so, my concentration has just completely left me. I mean gone. I have no idea what has happened, but my last ten or so meditation sessions have been me just struggling to even keep my mind on one breath. My thoughts seem plagued by nonsensical tangents and bizarre interior vocalizations and distractions. Although, as I said, I was never a master, I certainly know that I have gone downhill in my practice recently.

I cannot locate any change in my life or practice that would have led to this. Can anyone offer some suggestions or clarification about the possible causes of a derailment of the meditation practice? I've made the confusion my meditation object and contemplated its impermanence and the evidence it presents for non-self, etc. but it's still quite the roadblock. Any advice, tips, or possible things I may be doing to bring this about?

Thanks for your help!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Meditation going off the rails

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:36 pm

So you say you've been meditating for a year now and the past week is the only time things have gone to custard to the degree you're talking about?

I'd say you are doing marvellously well, or possibly it's been like this a lot and it's just your awareness has been too dull to pick it up.

It's pretty normal for people to go through phases like this, this is where you've got the most opportunity to learn, it's the uphill battles where you strengthen your muscles.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Meditation going off the rails

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:47 pm

I second what Goof has said.
Its a mistake to conflate progress with pleasant and easy meditative sessions as is attachment or craving for particular experiences.
Just keep on going. If you have the time and inclination - a residential meditation retreat will be of benefit.
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Meditation going off the rails

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:16 pm

I'm actually going on a Goekna one soon. Should I postpone my meditation for the next few days until I leave in order to start with a fresh approach, or should I keep trying until the day I head out? It's not so much a motivation issue but I'm afraid that just pushing ahead will leave me a bit worn out for the start of the retreat. Advice? Ben, you seem to be a Goenka-ite. I'd appreciate knowing your opinion on the matter.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Location: America

Re: Meditation going off the rails

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:24 pm

Hi LY,
Just continue with your daily practice until you go on retreat. Then when on retreat just practice as instructed.
I wish you all the very best with your ten-day course. And if you have any questions or concerns you are welcome to contact me via pm.
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: Meditation going off the rails

Postby icyteru » Tue May 08, 2012 2:35 pm

what are the thoughts that appear in your meditation? try avoid that in life.
and don't talk to thought. that is its food.
The most complete english tipitaka on the internet world. http://realtruthlife.blogspot.com .
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Re: Meditation going off the rails

Postby Cittasanto » Tue May 08, 2012 4:13 pm

Go back to the basics, just one breath at a time!

don't try to be at any level you have had, just be what you are at the moment!

when a thought comes up, see it, accept that it is there, and return to the breath!
if there is a predominant hindrance within the thoughts use an appropriate reflection or practice, you don't need to be an expert, you just need to follow the steps for a little while.

The basics are very important, and using them.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Hello there, allow me to share a little bit of background. I've been meditating for maybe a year now, and although I'm certainly no master, I am at a comfortable level that I know well; I haven't experienced a huge amount of progress in the last couple months, but there has a definite improving of concentration, insight, etc. over time.

However, just in the last week or so, my concentration has just completely left me. I mean gone. I have no idea what has happened, but my last ten or so meditation sessions have been me just struggling to even keep my mind on one breath. My thoughts seem plagued by nonsensical tangents and bizarre interior vocalizations and distractions. Although, as I said, I was never a master, I certainly know that I have gone downhill in my practice recently.

I cannot locate any change in my life or practice that would have led to this. Can anyone offer some suggestions or clarification about the possible causes of a derailment of the meditation practice? I've made the confusion my meditation object and contemplated its impermanence and the evidence it presents for non-self, etc. but it's still quite the roadblock. Any advice, tips, or possible things I may be doing to bring this about?

Thanks for your help!
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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