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Nausea
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10/23/18 4:17 AM
I'm new to all this and I'm amazed at how much detailed theory and discussion there is out there. It's great. My question: I've been doing what I think is a choiceless awareness walking practice for a while and on a couple of occasions it has made me feel overwhelmingly sick. I wonder what this is and how to deal with it. Should I push through or do something else? I can't see much written on the topic. It's happened twice and I've felt it coming on a few other times and backed off. Both times I wrenched and thought I would actually be sick. The sensensation is of all of the things I'm sensing being completely overwhelming, with an exhilarating element but also of it being too much to handle, everything rushing together. The first time the sensation occurred about ten minutes after the mediation, and the second time it occurred during it. I've done the specific process that lead to the nausea maybe fifty or sixty times. 

Background: not a very heavy-going practice. I did headspace about four years ago and since then have done an independent practice based on that using a timer, 15-30 minutes 3-6 times per week. This summer I got more serious and did some reading, including Daniel's book, though I'm pretty time limited these days too. Before all that I did a lot of long distance running and got in to some interesting states doing this — what I thought was runners high must have been the result of a kind of concentration practice that I’d developed without knowing what it was (matching breathing to pacing, focusing on breathing, counting breaths in sets of eight, noticing discomforts in the body, examining them, and returning to the breath).

RE: Nausea
Answer
10/23/18 6:55 AM as a reply to Christopher.
Can you go into a bit more detail about what was going on in your body, especially in the time period leading up to the episodes of nausea? Any increased heart rate? What was your emotional state--did you notice any fear or anxiety? What was going on with your breathing? And what was the specific process that you used?

Sounds like you did indeed get into some interesting states while running. You've probably seen this, but in case you haven't you might enjoy this comic on running from The Oatmeal. I'm a big fan of using running, martial arts, dancing, etc. as a form of dynamic meditation.

RE: Nausea
Answer
10/23/18 8:23 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Look at you helping beginners! emoticon

Christopher, you a Sartre fan? He wrote a lot about that exact experience, which is a type of dukkha (suffering caused by the awareness of the fundamental problem of the illusion of self). He even called one of his books Nausea.

Have you read the section in MCTB on the stages of the progress of insight? I'd check that out.

RE: Nausea
Answer
10/23/18 9:33 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Look at you helping beginners! emoticon



Touche. emoticon but imo it's one thing to try to help beginners on a public forum where (hopefully) it contributes in a positive way to a useful body of information, quite another to develop personal relationships via face-to-face virtual or meatspace meetings. That takes a lot more time and energy and is much trickier to navigate. 

RE: Nausea
Answer
10/24/18 6:16 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
I'm familiar from some years ago with the Sartre novel; this describes the experience I'm talking about as well as anything, though I'm wary also of scripting myself. Roquentin perceives the world without imposing concepts on to it and finds it all superfluous. The walking meditation I've been doing similarly involves taking in sights, sounds, physical sensations, thoughts, and letting them pass, being free with where focus falls. I'm especially likely to feel sick if I manage (with some difficulty) to perceive the forms of other people in this way, just as movements of shape and colour, I guess as this is one of the kinds of perception we're most likely to layer interpretation on to. I'm intrigued that you (JC)  link this to the illusion of the self as I was relating it to impermanance, following one guide but then they're all connected right?! The MCTB progress of insight section is an amazing thing to read but also tantalising and infuriating absent formal retreats: have I had an arising and passing experikence? Many of them? Have I experienced a dark night? Or were the experiences that might fall under those headings really something else? Or just some of them? If X was an arising and passing then so was Y, and if Y was then so was Z, but in that case I had the a&p experience pre-teen, and a number of times since, and that seems unlikely, so perhaps I'm pre a&p, and whatever darkness I've gone through is better explained with psychological categories outside of the stages of insight (something that Ingram expressly allows). The diagnostic/orientation process is incredibly difficult and at the same time there is the niggling idea that everyone's experience is different to an extent that undermines the usefulness of the maps. I was surprised that the nausea experience is not more discussed but the dhukka concept is a good lead in this.

The oatmeal cartoon is nice, there's a book by the novelist Murakami called 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' that really gets the idea, though from what I remember it doesn't talk specifically about concentration practices either. Still nowadays when I see a mass participation running event I see a lot of people getting high together!

RE: Nausea
Answer
10/24/18 10:45 AM as a reply to Christopher.
Christopher:
 The diagnostic/orientation process is incredibly difficult and at the same time there is the niggling idea that everyone's experience is different to an extent that undermines the usefulness of the maps. 


The maps can be very useful, but also a problem if not held lightly and taken with a grain of salt. It sounds like you're paying close attention to sensations and that's really the important thing. The maps can be helpful for contextualizing weird or difficult experiences if they're giving us trouble, but if you can stick with the sensations then you really don't need them and they might just slow you down or distract you.

Thinking of your nausea as a kind of dukkha makes sense to me. And so really all there is to do is try to feel it clearly. All sorts of weird/pleasant/unpleasant experiences will happen in meditation if you practice consistently for long enough, and the thing to do with all of them is just to experience them clearly without grasping at/trying to get away from/trying to ignore them. 

I like Murakami and enjoyed his book on running. emoticon

RE: Nausea
Answer
10/24/18 6:32 PM as a reply to Christopher.
Make sure you find a meditation practice with joy, pleasure, and concentration. If you go into insights too quickly you can get sick with withdrawal symptoms. Keep feeding on harmless objects like the breath. Enjoy it like food. Weaning of addictive thinking is slower and easier to integrate. 

RE: Nausea
Answer
10/25/18 3:55 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Ha I guess the issue for me is whether to pursue the route that lead to this sensation or to steer clear of it, i.e. whether to continue doing meditations that are open with respect to the object, or to leave those alone and do more meditations that don't seem likely to lead to the nausea (and are actually pretty pleasant), such as focusing on sensations in the feet while walking or the breath while sitting. 

RE: Nausea
Answer
10/26/18 1:25 PM as a reply to Christopher.
Christopher:
Ha I guess the issue for me is whether to pursue the route that lead to this sensation or to steer clear of it, i.e. whether to continue doing meditations that are open with respect to the object, or to leave those alone and do more meditations that don't seem likely to lead to the nausea (and are actually pretty pleasant), such as focusing on sensations in the feet while walking or the breath while sitting. 


With insight you want to see efforting, and learn to do less efforting. Start with concentration and learn to pay attention to the breath with less and less need to push the breath. Sometimes it's okay to push it, but you wear out eventually. As you do less and less efforting in concentration, you notice your thoughts/labellings much easier. They hurt too. Moving your attention span to focus on something also hurts.

Eventually you want to let go of preferences (measuring likes and dislikes in perception) for periods of time so that you can use preference when you need to and let go of it when you don't. There will always be some pain being conscious, but that takes a lot of weaning until you get to stream entry and beyond. 

For many, they want concentration, pleasure, and a normal life. It's up to you, but you will always need some pleasure somewhere to keep going no matter the path. A dry path on this website has many casualties. emoticon