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Introducing myself + need some advice :)

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Hey everyone! I've been ghosting on here for a while now but this is my first post so i thought i would just introduce myself. My name is Louis, i am 19 years old and i'm from the UK. I started practicing meditation 20-40 minutes a day around February time and I soon came across the pragmatic dharma guys (Daniel, Kenneth, Michael Taft and everyone else in the scene). I picked up MCTB2 and decided to up my practice time. So from around March time i have been meditating for 1-5 hours every day (usually around 3). I have been getting used to the noting technique since and i recently got serious about doing the noting aloud technique as instructed by kenneth folk and Papa Che on here haha. My plan is to do 3x 45 minute sits a day plus an hour of samatha to increase concentration and help lube up the path a bit. Does this sound like the right thing to do? I also plan to go on a mahasi retreat at the satipanya centre up in Wales in August. 

Secondly I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on how to deal with the dark side of this path. Before starting i used to think i was this solid thing that had a separate existence from the rest of the world and now that i know Louis is really just these impermenant sensations that belong to no one, its kind of depressing i guess. It just feels like my whole life was spent entertaining this fake character you know. I guess i would just like some words of reassurance because I feel kind of lonely and it feels as if life has lost much of its meaning. Thanks for your support it truly means a lot. Peace! 

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/19/20 11:57 PM as a reply to Louis Joel.
Louis Joel:

... its kind of depressing i guess. It just feels like my whole life was spent entertaining this fake character you know. I guess i would just like some words of reassurance because I feel kind of lonely and it feels as if life has lost much of its meaning. Thanks for your support it truly means a lot. Peace! 

I don't necessarily want to talk you out of an intensive practice, some people feel called to it, but I would like to point out that it's not "mandatory", it's not for everyone. And if you just started in February and it is already making you depressed, lonely, and life seems meaningless because of it, in my opinion something is wrong, something should change. Depression, loneliness, and meaninglessness (part of depression), are not "truths" that are "correct" or a necessaray consequence of awakening, they are only feelings, in a way opinions that are optional.

It's your choice, but if you want (partial) relief from those unpleasant feelings and other problems you could try a non "intensive" form of meditation and or do less of it. Like maybe  45 minutes once or twice a day, of just sitting and breathing in a relaxing way, watching for the next thougth to arise, possibly counting the breaths (count ten and start over at one), or saying "in" and "out" as you inhale and exhale,  or just observing the breath,  with the intention of just quieting the mind. You don't really need much more than that.

Every time you get distracted during meditation you are reminded you don't control your mind, your mind is not "you". As the mind quiets down and you notice thoughts arising and causing emotions and the physical sensations in your body that accompany them you see the cause of dukkha (2nd noble truth). As you let go of thoughts while relaxing and you observe the emotions ceasing and observe the various other conditions that cause them to cease,  you learn the the cessation of dukkha (3rd noble truth). You don't really need more than that from meditation. And you don't need to be in a hurry.


You could also try adding some kind of relaxation exercises, it could be a more effective "lube" than samatha alone.  Once a day I use a combination of relaxation exercises, both physical (progressive muscular relaxation) and then mental (alternating and repeating: visualizing colors, and hypnotic induction) until I feel like I am floating, then I do sessions of sitting meditation. I find it makes the meditation sessions more consistent and when you start the sessions relaxed  you have better concentration so you get more out of them.

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/20/20 2:32 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
Hey Louis

Awesome that you've found meditation, and that you are so dedicated!

I will advice you to be a bit careful, though. A striving mind can get you into trouble – I know that from hardwon personal experience. It is important to find the balance between effort and being kind to one self.

If you want to work with that level of intensity, I strongly advice that you find a qualified teacher. Having an experienced yogi lead you down the path can save you from trouble. Alternatively, you can create a practice log here on Dharma Overground. If you do, try to be precise in your phenomenological descriptions of what goes on in your sits. In that way other yogis can chime in with advice, but be aware that they – we! – might not all be that qualified (I am a beginner my self). emoticon

Also, let me point you to this excellent ressource from one of the very experienced yogis here on DhO: https://shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

G
ood luck with your practice, and be nice to yourself!

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/20/20 8:25 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
I second pretty much everything said above, especially having a relaxation practice, being kind to yourself and the excellent content on https://shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com

With that much practice time you want to balance things:

A regular physical / energetic / movement practice
Train your physical body, work off energy, regulate your nervous system and help with mood disorders. The further you go with insight the more important this becomes.
  • Qi Gong / Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Long solo walks, preferably in nature. Stay present / mindful / undistracted -- noting, step counting 1to9to1 or a mantra can help.

A practice that involves the nervous systems of other human beings
Involving other humans can deepen insight and ameliorates hyperarousal from excessive / striving solo meditation.
Guidance from more experienced meditators

  • Online forums, though I'd strongly advise some face-to-face time
  • Get a mentor / teacher
  • Join a Sangha

You'll notice that there are plenty of overlaps and opportunities to come up with options what work for you.

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/20/20 10:49 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
Slow down on practice, this is serious advice. 
-
1-2 hours/day with serious commitment to practicenin lay life is already enough to achieve your desired goal. 
You are 19 years old, your brain has lot's of plasticity and you should naturally develop fairly quickly. You don't have to be enlightened by tomorrow, as the impacts of meditation can actually be quite dramatic. 
If you want to know more about the negatives, or if you want another framework for the Dukkha Nana's, go and check out Willoughby Britton's work.
 https://www.brown.edu/research/labs/britton/sites/britton-lab/files/images/Britton_2019_Can%20mindfulness%20be%20too%20much%20of%20a%20good%20thing.pdf
You can also check out her videos on Vimeo: "The mechanisms of meditation induced hyperarousal/dissociation" 
The point is, that your brain is still developing and certain practices can result in overdevelopment of certain brain areas, causing dysfunction. 
I know what I am talking about since I'm still recovering from the impact of too much meditation, I've been recovering since February and am still quite dysfunctional at times. 
You really want this to be a life long journey - "patience is the highest blessing" 
Another point to be made: Psychological issues and spiritual development are not going hand in hand, you want to get rid of your baggage first. 
That being said, please take it slow my friend. 

-Mettacittena 

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/20/20 11:32 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
Louis Joel:
Hey everyone! I've been ghosting on here for a while now but this is my first post so i thought i would just introduce myself. My name is Louis, i am 19 years old and i'm from the UK. I started practicing meditation 20-40 minutes a day around February time and I soon came across the pragmatic dharma guys (Daniel, Kenneth, Michael Taft and everyone else in the scene). I picked up MCTB2 and decided to up my practice time. So from around March time i have been meditating for 1-5 hours every day (usually around 3). I have been getting used to the noting technique since and i recently got serious about doing the noting aloud technique as instructed by kenneth folk and Papa Che on here haha. My plan is to do 3x 45 minute sits a day plus an hour of samatha to increase concentration and help lube up the path a bit. Does this sound like the right thing to do? I also plan to go on a mahasi retreat at the satipanya centre up in Wales in August. 

Secondly I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on how to deal with the dark side of this path. Before starting i used to think i was this solid thing that had a separate existence from the rest of the world and now that i know Louis is really just these impermenant sensations that belong to no one, its kind of depressing i guess. It just feels like my whole life was spent entertaining this fake character you know. I guess i would just like some words of reassurance because I feel kind of lonely and it feels as if life has lost much of its meaning. Thanks for your support it truly means a lot. Peace! 

Hi Louis and welcome to the DharmaOverground (DhO, as we call it for short)!

I don't have much to add right now to the great advice you've received so far here: gentleness in your practice, and no need to push too hard, that'll come back on you fast. You're clearly all in, as far as your commitment, and good steady practice through every weather is the real "secret," an open secret: just do the work every day, rain or shine, up or down.

I am a dark night yogi from way back, which only means i've learned real slow. And from my slow learning on the "dark side of this path" i can say that the dawn comes, and it is worth the night. The meaning that seems lost comes back in fresh form, no longer yours, but beautiful, the more beautiful for you realizing it was always beautiful, and never yours.

And we're all lonely as shit on this planet, lol. You'll find friends here. We all get by with a little help from them.

love, tim

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/20/20 12:40 PM as a reply to Louis Joel.
Thank you all so much for the advice so far, it truly means a lot to me to have some feedback and support with my practice. I will definitely take the advice all of you gave so far into account in the future and I won't be as hard on myself from now on. I used to be quite the fitness addict but stopped due to covid and due to the fact that my desire to gain muscle and look a certain way greatly decreased since becoming less attached to 'my' body. However I did visit the gym again today as it re-opened and I think its a good idea to get back into lifting consistently to keep me grounded. Again thank you guys so much for the nice words so far, i wish you all the best in your practice and in the rest of your life emoticon

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/21/20 7:03 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
Louis Joel:
Thank you all so much for the advice so far, it truly means a lot to me to have some feedback and support with my practice. I will definitely take the advice all of you gave so far into account in the future and I won't be as hard on myself from now on. I used to be quite the fitness addict but stopped due to covid and due to the fact that my desire to gain muscle and look a certain way greatly decreased since becoming less attached to 'my' body. However I did visit the gym again today as it re-opened and I think its a good idea to get back into lifting consistently to keep me grounded. Again thank you guys so much for the nice words so far, i wish you all the best in your practice and in the rest of your life emoticon

hey Louis,

You're right on track, and this is a good sangha. Enjoy the camaraderie on the path available here, and the vast experience base the forum participants bring to things. Sift it all and find your way, and again, glad to have you aboard.

love,
tim

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/21/20 8:51 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
Louis Joel:
Before starting i used to think i was this solid thing that had a separate existence from the rest of the world and now that i know Louis is really just these impermenant sensations that belong to no one, its kind of depressing i guess. It just feels like my whole life was spent entertaining this fake character you know. I guess i would just like some words of reassurance because I feel kind of lonely and it feels as if life has lost much of its meaning. Thanks for your support it truly means a lot. Peace! 
Did you actually invent the thought about you being solid self in the first place?
And whole realization that you are just impermanent sensations? Is this your original thought?

If your belief was that you are just the body and after the death you are gone and started meditation just because apparently it makes people experience pleasant experiences and can improve default mind state then by all means continue with this belief. It is mostly correct.

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/21/20 11:41 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
There are several fronts. One is insight. The other is shamatha. I am still not an expert on differentiating the two. As you get up into the higher jhanas it becomes harder to tell insight versus shamatha

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/21/20 11:52 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
I send you a private message, Louis! 

RE: Introducing myself + need some advice :)
Answer
7/22/20 10:55 AM as a reply to Louis Joel.
Hey Louis,

Thanks for the reading and support of my practice log. What do you think about starting your own practice log so we could give you feedback and advice on your daily practices?