Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

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

Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Cal » Fri Jun 04, 2010 10:19 pm

Not exactly a very cheerful topic for my first proper posting, sorry.

I've very rarely had very joyful (vipassana) meditation sessions, they are generally quite hard work. However, recently (3-4 weeks) I am really struggling. My concentration is very poor, and I'm finding it almost impossible to stay with the breath for more than a very few seconds. My tension levels are currently quite high, such that it is almost physically painful, and especially so in meditation. I regularly find myself almost gritting my teeth to get to the end of even a 20 minute sit, and regularly find myself 'bursting' out of meditation with a jolt, and then giving up.

I do have some challenging family issues currently.

Any thoughts or ideas on making meditation more of a pleasure rather than a painful chore, would be much appreciated. I usually find that a longish Metta meditation period before vipassana helps, but even this is painful currently.

Metta

Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
User avatar
Cal
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: South Coast, England, UK

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Sekha » Fri Jun 04, 2010 10:46 pm

Hi Cal,

I think I can understand your current difficulties. I have passed through a similar period during which my meditation was pretty much like what you describe. It has been lasting so far for two years, with a constant reducing of the perturbation. In my case, it is due to having taken a too high dose of an hallucinogenic drug about 4 years ago.

From all that I have learnt from this experience, I would say: don't give up. Try not to think about the difficulty of your practice, either during or outside of your meditation time (which means also not talking too much about it just like we are doing now). Because it would drive you off track thinking 'this is too much'. Just sit and accept the reality that has arisen. It is difficult, it is difficult, you know it, but the only right thing you can do is focusing as best as possible on your object. Abandoning the training is not a viable option.

This difficult period has arisen, it will pass away, sooner or later, this is the law of nature. You don't need to wish anything about it, it will happen in due time. Just perform your task, and leave the result to the law of nature. Practicing Dhammma can require performing heroic deeds.

As Goenkaji chants during his ten-day course:
Good to have mastery of speech,
Good to have physical mastery,
But one who is master of his mind
Is a warrior of real courage.


I wish you all the best of strong resolve and energy to get through this. :console:

_/\_
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
User avatar
Sekha
 
Posts: 750
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:32 am
Location: French Guiana

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby cooran » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:30 pm

Hello cal,

I'd set aside the Vipassana for a while - now is possily the time to just do practice radiating Metta to yourself and others.
But concentrating on yourself first for some considerable time.
Here is a link to Ajahn Sujato's talks on Metta practice:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2810#p40062

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7640
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Reductor » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:53 pm

You should probably focus on samatha for a month or two. A calm, relaxed steadying of yourself in one place... this alone would teach you important skills for use when you return to vipassana, but the immediate payoff would be relaxation and pleasure.

Recall the seven factors of enlightenment:
mindfulness
investigation,
rapture,
tranquility,
concentraion,
equanimity.

The middle two are undervalued in our practice nowadays.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

User avatar
Reductor
 
Posts: 1286
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:25 am

try walking meditation, try chanting first, actually there are many ways that different people get their minds to "behave" there is no one right answer, you just have to find what is right for your temperament. when i went through a divorce years ago i found walking meditation worked great, who knew? also breath counting does a great job of giving the mind something to do that is still within the realm of meditation, its a good trick to turn to also if you get too fidgety near the end of a meditation session, so maybe instead of just quiting early you switch to breath counting (i do 1-6, 1-7, 1-8, 1-9, 1-10, 10-1 and if i miss any i start all the way over, this is from the commentaries so we're talking about a practice 1000s of years old here!), try doing a body scan type of meditation... just look around at all the different methods they are around for a reason and you can have a lot of fun learning new skills to keep that monkey mind from jumping around!
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Cal » Sat Jun 05, 2010 8:34 pm

Many thanks to all responders for the very thoughtful and helpful advice. All very helpful and useful suggestions, thank you for taking the time to respond. :namaste:

I have spent more time solely in Metta meditation today, and listening to the Ajahn Sujato talk. This felt less painful.

On the suggestion of samatha practice. Are there any particularly good sources on this, from a Theravada perspective?

Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
User avatar
Cal
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: South Coast, England, UK

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby cooran » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:12 pm

Hello cal, all,

Hope these are of interest:

Mindfulness of Breathing - see left side column
http://www.wildmind.org/mindfulness
Lovingkindness meditation - see left side column
http://www.wildmind.org/metta

Read numerous articles on Theravada Meditation under 3
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebidx.htm

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7640
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Cal » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:37 am

Many thanks, Chris.

Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
User avatar
Cal
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: South Coast, England, UK

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Srotapanna » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:42 am

Cal wrote:Many thanks to all responders for the very thoughtful and helpful advice. All very helpful and useful suggestions, thank you for taking the time to respond. :namaste:

I have spent more time solely in Metta meditation today, and listening to the Ajahn Sujato talk. This felt less painful.

On the suggestion of samatha practice. Are there any particularly good sources on this, from a Theravada perspective?

Cal


Hope you are feeling better Cal.

Resource on Samatha:
http://www.chanmyay.org/anapanasati.htm
Srotapanna
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 3:04 am

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Cal » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:25 pm

Thank you Srotapanna. I'm feeling a little less despairing, a little more concentrated in meditation. For the last couple of days, I've dropped all but metta meditation, in which I am at least able to concentrate for more than a few moments at once. I intend to stick with this approach for a few weeks now, to see if I can regain some focus and pleasure in my meditation.

Many thanks for the link - a very clear explanation of samatha vs vipassana, and some useful suggestions. Much appreciated. :namaste:

Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
User avatar
Cal
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: South Coast, England, UK

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby PeterB » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:43 pm

Cal wrote:Not exactly a very cheerful topic for my first proper posting, sorry.

I've very rarely had very joyful (vipassana) meditation sessions, they are generally quite hard work. However, recently (3-4 weeks) I am really struggling. My concentration is very poor, and I'm finding it almost impossible to stay with the breath for more than a very few seconds. My tension levels are currently quite high, such that it is almost physically painful, and especially so in meditation. I regularly find myself almost gritting my teeth to get to the end of even a 20 minute sit, and regularly find myself 'bursting' out of meditation with a jolt, and then giving up.

I do have some challenging family issues currently.

Any thoughts or ideas on making meditation more of a pleasure rather than a painful chore, would be much appreciated. I usually find that a longish Metta meditation period before vipassana helps, but even this is painful currently.

Metta

Cal

Do you have a hands-on teacher Cal ?
PeterB
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Cal » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:26 pm

Do you have a hands-on teacher Cal ?


No, I don't unfortunately. There is a Forest Sangha monastery about 30 miles away. But, though I've visited, I haven't actually found a teacher as such. I'm sure actually finding a teacher would help, just don't know how, really.

Metta

Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
User avatar
Cal
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: South Coast, England, UK

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby PeterB » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:55 pm

Its not like a guru /pupil relationship, if you go along to Hemel Hempstead one of the Sangha will be glad to talk to you.
As a matter of fact one of the regulars from this forum is staying there for a while at the moment.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Cal » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:02 pm

PeterB - I see. Thanks for the advice.

:namaste:

Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
User avatar
Cal
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: South Coast, England, UK

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Srotapanna » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:39 am

Cal wrote:Thank you Srotapanna. I'm feeling a little less despairing, a little more concentrated in meditation. For the last couple of days, I've dropped all but metta meditation, in which I am at least able to concentrate for more than a few moments at once. I intend to stick with this approach for a few weeks now, to see if I can regain some focus and pleasure in my meditation.

Many thanks for the link - a very clear explanation of samatha vs vipassana, and some useful suggestions. Much appreciated. :namaste:

Cal

Youre welcome Cal. Lots to read! :reading: Glad to hear youre better.
Srotapanna
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 3:04 am

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:20 am

Definitely recommend walking meditation- at least 20 minutes before you sit for anything else. This will calm the mind of gross disturbances.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Mental Pain and Aversion in Meditation

Postby Cal » Sat Jun 12, 2010 9:56 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Definitely recommend walking meditation- at least 20 minutes before you sit for anything else. This will calm the mind of gross disturbances.


I'm getting lots of exercise cutting down this Spring's 'crop' of bindweed and brambles so that we have a path again in the garden! I'll give the walking meditation more time, as I've really only practiced it on short retreats (as a break from sitting meditation). Thanks for the thoughts.

:namaste:
Cal
Right Speech: It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will. [AN 5.198]

Personally, I seem to gain the most insight when I am under the most pressure, when life is at its most unpleasant. There is something in me on those occasions which feels that there is nothing left but to be aware of 'this'. Ajahn Sumedho - Don't Take Your Life Personally, p288
User avatar
Cal
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:33 pm
Location: South Coast, England, UK


Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: jnak and 2 guests