When is meditation too much?

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

When is meditation too much?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:51 am

Hello

I recently started meditating regularly (finaly! (again)). I have already done a 10 day vipassana retreat, so it's easier for me to handle more time reserved to meditation per day. On the other hand on dharma overground (which I visited very few times) I hear of a stage of the progression of insigfht where everything experienced is suffering and that it is almost unbearable. I think there are refferences to this in the book "In this very life", by Sayadaw U Pandita. Also there's the story of a member here who said he was practicing too much meditation and he ended up stoping the practice and suffer undeserved and heavy consequences. So, to a lay person, it seems that there is such a thing as an excessive amount of meditation.

So my questions are: 1- Has it been your experience that there is such a thing as too much meditation? 2- If yes,how much meditation is too much for a lay person?

Metta. :)
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: When is meditation too much?

Postby Ben » Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:07 am

Greetings MP,

I can't comment on what's been said over at DO. I think their re-interpretation of Mahasi Sayadaw's works are curious - to put it euphemistically.
It is true that both samatha and vipassana meditation can become unpleasant as we become increasingly more aware of deeper and more subtle aspects of our mental and physical matrix. I sometimes refer to going off on retreat to my non-Buddhist friends as 'going away to commune with my demons'. So, yes, samatha and vipassana can cause difficulties such as hindrances to manifest, physical pain, intense physical and mental pleasure as well as extremely intense emotional states to manifest.

It is also a prescient reminder that meditation isn't about taking time out to experience bliss, perhaps like in some other traditions, but is about developing wholesome mental culture.

So, I think its important to try and balance aspects of our practice. Not only sila, samadhi and panna, but also ensuring that we balance the faculties (indriya): saddha (faith/confidence), panna (insight/wisdom), energy (viriya) and concentration (samadhi), and mindfulness (sati).
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: When is meditation too much?

Postby reflection » Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:28 am

Hi,

I wouldn't worry about it. And if something occurs, such things are better to discuss with a teacher.

At a point in my practice I was advised to take some time off meditation, by one of who I consider my main teachers. Some things disturbed me, put me out of balance and I needed a little time to get back on my feet. In short, when you've made wrong assumptions about life, and you need to readjust them, it can be though. No need to go into details because I don't know if it happens to everybody. And if it does to you, consult a teacher as I said. In hindsight I don't know if taking time off meditation was the best advise, but it worked I guess because overall it didn't last that long for me and it came out for the better.

But I don't think all rough patches point to some kind of progress. And also, I certainly don't think usually those patches are a place to stop meditation. In general I'd say keep on it and only in rare cases may it be better to take some time off. When the hindrances come up stronger, for example, it may be better just to face them in meditation instead of running from them. Again, consult a teacher is the best advise. When you're shaken up is not the best time for self analysis.

:anjali:
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Re: When is meditation too much?

Postby IanAnd » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:29 pm

reflection wrote:Hi,

I wouldn't worry about it. And if something occurs, such things are better to discuss with a teacher.

At a point in my practice I was advised to take some time off meditation, by one of who I consider my main teachers. Some things disturbed me, put me out of balance and I needed a little time to get back on my feet. In short, when you've made wrong assumptions about life, and you need to readjust them, it can be though. No need to go into details because I don't know if it happens to everybody. And if it does to you, consult a teacher as I said. In hindsight I don't know if taking time off meditation was the best advise, but it worked I guess because overall it didn't last that long for me and it came out for the better.

But I don't think all rough patches point to some kind of progress. And also, I certainly don't think usually those patches are a place to stop meditation. In general I'd say keep on it and only in rare cases may it be better to take some time off. When the hindrances come up stronger, for example, it may be better just to face them in meditation instead of running from them. Again, consult a teacher is the best advise. When you're shaken up is not the best time for self analysis.

:anjali:
Reflection

Good advice. :goodpost:

Also, in connection with this, don't allow your mind to be used for self-fulfilling prophesy.

That is to say, if someone tells you to expect this or that outcome (as in the DhO. insistence of having to undergo a "dark night" experience) don't buy into that mindset, or you might make it happen just because you believe (accept) it as being inevitable.

Let everything that happens be a natural progression of the mind's arising and passing away. If a "dark night" experience arises, then deal with it then. Don't help it to happen just because someone told you to expect it to happen. Not everyone needs to experience or needs to expect to experience a "dark night" experience. If there are defilements of the mind that need to be dealt with, let them arise naturally during the course of insight meditation and deal with them there.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: When is meditation too much?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 27, 2013 8:57 am

Modus.Ponens wrote: On the other hand on dharma overground (which I visited very few times) I hear of a stage of the progression of insigfht where everything experienced is suffering and that it is almost unbearable.


Metta bhavana can be useful for periods like this.
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Re: When is meditation too much?

Postby Zom » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:20 am

When meditation does not go well, this is a sign that you are not prepared for it.

These three suttas are useful to read often and keep in mind ,)

1. AN 10.99 ((9) Upāli sutta) > http://www.palicanon.org/index.php/sutt ... ty-v-upali
2. AN 9.3 ((3) Meghiya sutta) > http://www.palicanon.org/index.php/sutt ... ightenment
3. MN 107 (Ganaka Moggallana sutta) > http://www.palicanon.org/index.php/sutt ... oggalla-na
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