Content during concentration

Zarbook !, modified 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 6:48 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 6:48 AM

Content during concentration

Posts: 49 Join Date: 3/17/21 Recent Posts
I've been trying to step up my concentration using anapana and fire kasina. Some sits I'm going deeper and I think getting mild access concentration and jhana 1, some feel like hitting a forcefield of content. In earlier times, when I'd do anapana or vipassana, I'd get lost in the content more and follow the thoughts into planning, ruminating, solving. Now it feels more like a radio blaring, or driving past flashing billboards while I try keep my eyes on the road . It's a different kind of distraction. 

I was doing vipassana up until a couple weeks ago. This shift from chasing thoughts to just being bombarded had already happened, and I found I could deal with it better with vipassana by dissolving them. Now I'm not so much getting distracted into thinking about the billboards, I'm sometimes thinking about how I'm not meditating well.  Anybody got any tips and tricks? 

Some ideas:
- Focus harder on the object. This doesn't seem to work so well. I wonder if I'm slipping on an ADD banana peel here, where focusing harder makes my current brain not work as well. Or maybe it's couch-potato western weakness and I just need to push through.
- Deal with the content off the cushion with therapy, journaling etc. Is it showing me stuff that I need to sort out?
- Broaden/soften attention. After trying to focus harder and harder for about a week, I was experimenting with this at the end of the last sit. That's what made me think, "Ah! There are options - maybe the DhO will know what to do with this". It felt better than focusing harder and harder, but maybe it was just the relief of taking a break. I'll play with this more and see what happens, but I don't want to just half-ass it because it feels easier.

Thanks!
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 8:25 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 8:25 AM

RE: Content during concentration

Posts: 914 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Can you describe it in more detail, and maybe give a couple of examples of content, including how long the elements of content last? I ask because I can fit more than one meditative experience with "a radio blaring, or driving past flashing billboards while I try to keep my eyes on the road" and I have different approaches to those experiences. 
Zarbook !, modified 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 9:03 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 9:01 AM

RE: Content during concentration

Posts: 49 Join Date: 3/17/21 Recent Posts
Sure.

​​​​​​​Mostly it's thoughts about interpersonal issues. I'll set an intention, start meditating, then a few minutes later thoughts about these situations will show up. I don't get many closed-eye visuals while meditating or on psychedelics, so "billboards" was more like a metaphor. They show up as thoughts and with an inner-voice audial component.

Before, when interpersonal issues would show up, I'd think
a) think about the issue, try to solve it, turn it over in my mind, and go down rabbit holes, or
b)run through memories of the situations like a story, or like a movie replaying.
Sometimes I'd go in circles for the duration of the sit, sometimes (often) I'd drift off into other thoughts.

Now, off the cushion, I'm more settled and stable in what I think about these situations. There were a lot of questions that I have answers to, and different "parts" of me had different opinions. Now I'm more integrated. Parts opinons are still there, but I can see them as that. Not sure if this makes sense in words.

So now I don't try to solve it as much during sits. It's more like reading the back of a box of a movie rather than watching a movie replaying. Another metaphor: If running through the story if awareness is like a bead running down a string over time, now it feels more like looking at a whole piece of string at once.

There's an emotional charge. the intention is to watch the flame or breath, but there's an involuntary station playing "STORY HAPPENED, STORY HAPPENED", another playing "ANGRY ABOUT STORY", and a third playing "unconcentrated sit, bad meditator!"

I try to pay more attention to the object to get "louder" than the other stuff, like sound guy turning up the guitar and not the other instruments/vocals. Then what happens is:
a) the intensities or the experiental bandwidths all increase together, like I'm increasing the full board volume, not just the guitar
b) Attention maxes out and hits a wall. Feels like dissociating and negative thoughts about sit quality coming up
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 9:46 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 9:46 AM

RE: Content during concentration

Posts: 914 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Thanks. I get it now. That makes sense. 

One thing I do when narratives and emotions are pulling me away from concentration is to shorten the goal time for the concentration. I might say to myself, "there's a lot of pulling going on, so let me just try for one in-breath." Then I try to really just focus only on the physical sensations of just one isolated in-breath, but all the way from the start to the very end of the breath, keeping in mind that, once I get to the end of the breath, I can let the mind go back to what it wants to do. If I can get a few complete in-breaths over the course of a few minutes, that tends to calm the mind a little bit. If it calms it enough, I can try for an in-breath and an out-breath together. Basically, a few seconds of high-quality focus, repeated several times is sometimes more effective than trying for a longer period. But I think it also depends on the particular day and so on, so if it doesn't help, no biggie. 
Zarbook !, modified 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 11:05 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 11:05 AM

RE: Content during concentration

Posts: 49 Join Date: 3/17/21 Recent Posts
Thanks Martin, I'll try that tonight.
Rag G, modified 1 Year ago at 11/30/22 11:56 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/30/22 11:56 AM

RE: Content during concentration

Posts: 3 Join Date: 11/17/22 Recent Posts
From Alan Wallace shamatha teaching, relax/release/return when there is excitation and refresh/restore/retain when there is laxity strategies.

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