Strong limerance interfering with my concentration

Jacob J, modified 3 Years ago at 4/17/19 3:34 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 4/17/19 3:34 PM

Strong limerance interfering with my concentration

Post: 1 Join Date: 4/17/19 Recent Posts

I have a situation that is causing a significant change in my practice. I practice Zen Soto, working on concentration.

A exchange student has come to my house for 8 months.  We're halfway through the stay. I have taken it upon myself to mentor the student and help him learn as many new things in addition to his schooling as I can. This has gone well. The student has been grateful of the effort I have made. We get along well and spend a fair amount of time together. However in getting very close to the student I have also fallen deeply in love with him. The love is unrequited as the student is not interested in reciprocating. The best way to break free of the strong feelings I have for the student, ongoing despite his lack of interest, would be for the student to leave. But if I ask him to leave it'll wreck his semester abroad project, raise all sorts of questions with his family about what went wrong.  In short I'm stuck with the situation for a few more months.

The reason I'm writing a post here about this is to discuss the effect it is having on my practice. When I sit I am very distracted from any kind of concentration. I begin to focus on my breath and within half an inhalation my mind has wandered off, thinking about the student.  This might last for several minutes. Then I remember what I'm doing and return to the breath.  However my concentration usually lasts another half a breath and I'm completely distracted again. I have tried using mental noting (in/out) to help concentrate, with very little effect. I have tried examining the feelings that arise as simple energy patterns in the body, but in a couple of seconds I'm swept back into my cravings, lost in the past or the future. I have tried counting my breaths on a cycle of 1 to 10, but again I'm lost before I get to the first exhalation. I have tried looking for the thinker of these thoughts, but no sooner have I thought to do that when I'm lost in thought yet again. I have tried calling up these feelings on purpose in an attempt to let them wear themselves out, without success.

So this situation has generated a distraction that is currently overpowering my ability to concentrate.  During an hour and a half session I might concentrate on my breath for ten seconds total. I am not angry with these feelings.  I feel what I feel. However it would be better to be able to let them go, at least for a while durig my sitting. Eventually the situation will change at home and this strong limerance will fade away. But that appears to be months away.

Does anyone have any ideas about how to accept and release these feelings ? Or perhaps how to work on my concentration while being awash in them ?  Or if someone feels I'm asking the wrong questions, I'm listening.

Thanks in advance.
Jason Massie, modified 3 Years ago at 4/18/19 10:57 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 4/18/19 10:57 PM

RE: Strong limerance interfering with my concentration

Posts: 124 Join Date: 10/18/16 Recent Posts
I had a similar issue. There was this girl that wanted me to chase her but never catch her. Haha. I could not stop thinking about her. Yet here I was on retreat. I had 10 - 16 hour days of trying not to think about her. I failed at this. Haha.
I would be very accepting first off. Accept whatever happens. It will suck less.
Then you could make whatever hinders your meditation the object of your meditation. Maybe watch the breath but as soon as a thought occurs, label it like dialog, planning, imagining, memory, resentment etc.
It will be easy to see that thought is not self and not in your control. See it over and over. A thought has the same nature as an itch. Imagine deciding that you were not going to have any itches for the meditation period and then being disappointed when an itch occurs. Haha.
So the classical hinderences of craving and aversion will occur when these thoughts occur. The remedy is mindfullness and equanimity. See them but be non-judgemental. Have a neutral judgement of the thoughts, the person, yourself. If you are like me, you will have to do this many times. Because I did that, I am very grateful for the love desired but not reciprocated. 

If you can't do this stuff, maybe relax on the meditation until it passes. If the mind is sharp and you play a negative tape loop over and over, you can harm yourself. Daniel calls it dark jhana.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 4/21/19 9:46 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 4/21/19 9:46 AM

RE: Strong limerance interfering with my concentration

Posts: 6748 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Sometimes I have seen recommendations for this kind of situation to contemplate ugliness and the decay of the body and the yucky stuff that comes out from it and that sort of thing, but personally I think Jason’s advice sounds more constructive.