Trouble With Breath Disrupting Daily Life

Michael S, modified 5 Months ago at 10/28/22 1:56 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 10/28/22 1:56 PM

Trouble With Breath Disrupting Daily Life

Posts: 2 Join Date: 10/28/22 Recent Posts
For an hour a day for one year, I practiced meditation by directing my attention to my breath in the area between my nose and upper lip. When I realized my mind had wandered off my breath, I gently brought my attention back to my breath.

After one year, I had a nervous breakdown. I don't know whether my meditation practice contributed to the breakdown or not. I immediately stopped meditating at the start of the breakdown. For a couple weeks during the breakdown, my breath took on a  very strong, noticable, and unpleasant quality. Despite not meditating, my attention was stuck on my breath, and I had to make a strong effort to move my attention away from my breath to get myself through the breakdown.

I have since mostly recovered from the breakdown, and over the past year, the strength of my breath on my attention has subsidded a certain amount. However, it is disrupting my daily life. It is like there is a magnet that brings my attention to my breath throughout the day, and I am not intentionally doing this.

That setup brings me to my question: Has anyone had a similar experience? Or an experience where an object of meditation was imprinted on their mind for over a 1 year period outside of meditation sessions? Any advice about how to handle this or anything to point me in the right direction? The strategy that has worked best for me is to simply notice whenever my mind does this and not attach any aversion to the experience. Thanks for reading
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Chris M, modified 5 Months ago at 10/28/22 3:49 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 10/28/22 3:49 PM

RE: Trouble With Breath Disrupting Daily Life

Posts: 4669 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I'm so sorry this has happened to you. I assume you have a therapist to work with? If so, have you discussed this problem with that person? Did you experience any negative issues with focusing on your breath before the breakdown? 
Michael S, modified 5 Months ago at 10/28/22 4:48 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 10/28/22 4:48 PM

RE: Trouble With Breath Disrupting Daily Life

Posts: 2 Join Date: 10/28/22 Recent Posts
Thanks for your kind words. I have been working with a therapist for 1 year now. Therapy has been incredibly helpful in unpacking life traumas and anxieties. I have talked to the therapist many times about the issue too. He has helped me to be less afraid of it and less frustrated by it. It hasn't gone away, but it impacts me less severly. I just wanted to reach out to the meditation community to see if there was meditation specific knowledge that a therapist might not know about, especially since this specific issue is tied directly to the way I was meditating.

I didn't have any negative issues focusing on my breath in the past. It was generally a positive experience that helped me be more focused on the present moment as I lived my life, though there were plenty of ups and downs in practice. There were 3 separate times where I became completely absorbed in my breath and had incredibly strong feelings of bliss, but those states lasted only for about 10 seconds each.

I miss my practice in concentration, but I don't think it is helpful for me right now, and I wish there were a way to get back into it skillfully.

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