Foggy mind

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

Foggy mind

Postby Coyote » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:35 pm

Hi everyone,

I have noticed that during concentration meditation, when my mind starts to stop thinking unnecessary thoughts and quietens down, and a feeling of joy or bliss sets in, the mind usually feels quite foggy and not clear and precise. My question is: is this the hindrance of sloth and torpor becoming more noticeable, and therefore the mind needing more training, or could it be something else? I feel that joyous feelings actually seem to cloud the mind rather than sharpening it.
It's hard to explain, but it's like I get so focused on the feelings of bliss that any sense of concentration goes out the window. Like when you feel something so amazing that you just sit there in a stupor, not able to think properly.
Any advice or ideas about what is going wrong?

Thanks and metta,

Coyote
"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: Foggy mind

Postby daverupa » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:49 pm

Maybe this helps?

SN 46.53 wrote:"At such times, monks, as the mind is sluggish, that is the wrong time to cultivate the enlightenment-factor of tranquillity, the enlightenment-factor of concentration, the enlightenment-factor of equanimity. What is the reason? A sluggish mind is hard to arouse by these factors.

"Suppose a man wants to make a small fire blaze. If he heaps wet grass, wet cow-dung and wet sticks on it, if he exposes it to wind and rain and sprinkles it with dust, can he make that small fire blaze?"

"No indeed, Lord."

"Just so, when the mind is sluggish it is the wrong time to cultivate the enlightenment-factors of tranquillity, concentration and equanimity, because a sluggish mind is hard to arouse through these factors.

"But, monks, when the mind is sluggish, that is the right time to cultivate the enlightenment-factor of investigation-of-states, the enlightenment-factor of energy, the enlightenment-factor of rapture. What is the reason? A sluggish mind is easy to arouse by these factors.

"Suppose a man wants to make a small fire blaze. If he heaps dry grass, dry cow-dung and dry sticks on it, blows on it with his mouth, and does not sprinkle it with dust, can he make that fire blaze?"

"Yes indeed, Lord."

"... a sluggish mind is easy to arouse through these factors.

...

"But as for mindfulness, monks, I declare that it is always useful."
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Foggy mind

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:55 pm

Coyote wrote:Hi everyone,

I have noticed that during concentration meditation, when my mind starts to stop thinking unnecessary thoughts and quietens down, and a feeling of joy or bliss sets in, the mind usually feels quite foggy and not clear and precise. My question is: is this the hindrance of sloth and torpor becoming more noticeable, and therefore the mind needing more training, or could it be something else? I feel that joyous feelings actually seem to cloud the mind rather than sharpening it.
It's hard to explain, but it's like I get so focused on the feelings of bliss that any sense of concentration goes out the window. Like when you feel something so amazing that you just sit there in a stupor, not able to think properly.
Any advice or ideas about what is going wrong?

Thanks and metta,

Coyote

Hi Coyote,
it sounds like it maybe that, but it could just be a state of mind? look at the Cittanupassana section of the satipatthana sutta and see if any of those seam close?
maybe try putting your focus on something other than the feeling? or investigating the feeling more than resting in it?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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: Foggy mind

Postby marc108 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:44 pm

once the bliss comes up, what do you do then?
"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: Foggy mind

Postby hanzze_ » Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:50 am

Maybe that is useful:

Then again, samádhi (concentration) and viriya (energy) must be in balance. If viriya is more powerful and stronger than samádhi, you cannot concentrate well on the object of meditation. The commentary says: If viriya is stronger or more powerful than samádhi, a meditator's mind will become distracted and restless (uddhacca).
In the beginning of the practice his concentration is usually weak and often wanders. So, he should follow the mind and watch it as it is. If a meditator is enthusiastic for the achievement of insight, he may put too much effort in his practice, thereby causing the mind to become distracted and restless. Effort must be kept in balance with samádhi. To do this, he must reduce his effort, keeping his mind stable and steady; noting whatever arises in his mind and body attentively, but not too energetically. Then he will gradually attain some degree of concentration. Because of this concentration, his effort will become steady and firm, neither too strong nor too lax.
In some cases when a meditator has practiced meditation for two or three weeks, his concentration becomes very deep and strong, the noting mind notes the object by itself, automatically and effortlessly. If, however, insufficient effort is put in, the noting mind will gradually become dull and heavy. Hence, that concentration changes into sloth and torpor or sleepiness. The commentary says: -
If concentration is too strong and effort is too weak, then that concentration changes into sloth and torpor or sleepiness (thina-middha).
So concentration must be kept in balance with effort (viriya). The passive posture of sitting will only make his mind more concentrated on the object and, as less and less effort is required, the mind will become more and more dull. To keep his concentration in balance with effort, he should practice walking meditation longer than sitting. However, only very few meditators experience concentration that exceeds effort. There are also some meditators whose effort exceeds their concentration. Therefore, concentration must be kept in balance with effort, depending on circumstances.
According to the commentary, we can never say that sati is too strong or powerful because it is best for you to be mindful of each and every activity of mind and body from moment to moment. Then mindfulness becomes constant, sustained, uninterrupted and continuous, thereby giving rise to deep concentration. When concentration is deep, insight will unfold naturally and you will be able to realize the mind and body processes (nama and rupa). So, we can say that mindfulness is never too strong or powerful.

from Vipassana Meditation : Lectures On Insight Meditation by Venerable Chanmyay Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa
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Re: Foggy mind

Postby Coyote » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:38 pm

Thanks for the replies. I will try to put into practice what has been suggested but I haven't had a lot of time for meditation recently.

marc108 wrote:once the bliss comes up, what do you do then?


I have tried a number of things. First time I tried focusing on the pleasant feelings, but now mostly I just keep the attention on the object of meditation, i.e the breath.

Metta,

Coyote
"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: Foggy mind

Postby marc108 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:38 pm

Coyote wrote:Thanks for the replies. I will try to put into practice what has been suggested but I haven't had a lot of time for meditation recently.

marc108 wrote:once the bliss comes up, what do you do then?


I have tried a number of things. First time I tried focusing on the pleasant feelings, but now mostly I just keep the attention on the object of meditation, i.e the breath.

Metta,

Coyote


first i would suggest either finding a teacher or picking a teacher who has some more comprehensive teachings available. Bhante G, Ajahn Brahm, Thanissaro Bhikkhu & Ajahn Sucitto all have excellent meditation manuals available online.

i will just relay to you as i was instructed... stay with the breath, and eventually the bliss will suffuse into the breath. they will merge and kind of become the same thing.

re:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.'




once that happens, suffuse the 'beautiful breath' into the body... by breathing and pulling it in.

re:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal
"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: Foggy mind

Postby Coyote » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:53 pm

Hi Mark108,

Thank you for the advice. As for finding a teacher, I am staying as a guest at Amaravati monastery in August, and hope to find some good meditation instruction while staying there. Until then, I will check out the authors and teachers you recommend.

Metta,

Coyote
"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: Foggy mind

Postby marc108 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:24 am

Coyote wrote:Hi Mark108,

Thank you for the advice. As for finding a teacher, I am staying as a guest at Amaravati monastery in August, and hope to find some good meditation instruction while staying there. Until then, I will check out the authors and teachers you recommend.

Metta,

Coyote


Awesome, I'm sure you will find all the instruction you need there.
"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: Foggy mind

Postby farmer » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:32 pm

What happens if you try not to focus on the pleasure, but on the more neutral physical sensations of breathing?
The pleasure is still there in the background, but you direct your attention away from it -- kind of like being in a crowded room with many conversations going on, and forcing yourself to stay focused on the one person you are talking to. I find if I focus this way, my mind doesn't blur the way it does if I focus in on pleasant feeling.
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