Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

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Rich N, modified 9 Years ago.

Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 64 Join Date: 1/12/11 Recent Posts
This has been happening for some time, particularly after insight practice. There's somewhat of a cycle I'm started to notice. I don't know if this is dark night and I'm starting to think it's just psiological.

When I'm meditating I start to feel presure in my face and later my chest. After some time this becomes like a "stressful" feeling. Some time after that it becomes painful and negative.

The next day I feel emotionally drained. Not just abstractly, but I actually feel draining pain in my chest, as if my best friend had died and I'd been crying all night (it really really feels like that).

When I say some time, I say that I've experienced this to various levels for maybe 2 years or more.

I think I need some very well considered advice on my practice.
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Nikolai ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
I experienced pretty much exactly what you describe for many years while a dark night yogi. The chest and face pressure and the stressful feeling and an onslaught of negative thoughts triggered associated with it. And the draining pain, all right off the bat with my first Goenka course in 2000 onwards. It got to the point where I gave up meditation for on and off 3 years. Now I don't want to say that you shouldn't go see a doctor, because there may be a slim chance it IS something that needs some medical attention, so please make sure you are physically ok.

If we are talking about what I experienced as well, then it took reading Daniel's book MCTB, understanding how the path of insight can entail some of this craziness, buckling my belt and holding my ground and noting my arse off till I got to 1st path as talked of at the DhO and MCTB. That took the edge off such phenomena. It got better and better then stopped being a problem with further progress.

Nick
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Dauphin Supple Chirp, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 154 Join Date: 3/15/11 Recent Posts
If you are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired after meditation, you should do twice or three times as much meditation as you have been. Don't look at insight practice as something you can do a couple of times a week or even just once a day; Instead sit formally twice or three times a day or more, every day; keep noting; stay mindful between sits; that way you will build up momentum, and it is very possible you will "power through" it within days or weeks. If you are already experiencing symptoms like you are right now, you're much closer to a breakthrough than you probably think.

I agree with Nick that there is, of course, always a chance that there is something medically wrong with you, and I'm not a doctor of medicine, so you may want to go see one just to be safe.
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fivebells ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
The other advice you've gotten so far has been very good. I would also add that seeing a teacher in person (at least over skype) can really help with this kind of thing, particularly if you've been stuck in it for two years. They might suggest a slightly different emphasis for your practice.
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Rich N, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 64 Join Date: 1/12/11 Recent Posts
Thanks. So in summary this is the advice:

1) Meditate more
2) Employ noting more
3) Seek a teacher

Is there anything specifically I can do to try to get more equanimity? I think my concentration is good, I could sit for several hours now and probably remain on track till the end. But negative feelings, no matter who much I look at it and with whatever level of objectivity I employ, continues to be unbearable.
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Nikolai ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Rich N:
Thanks. So in summary this is the advice:

1) Meditate more
2) Employ noting more
3) Seek a teacher

Is there anything specifically I can do to try to get more equanimity? I think my concentration is good, I could sit for several hours now and probably remain on track till the end. But negative feelings, no matter who much I look at it and with whatever level of objectivity I employ, continues to be unbearable.


What i found useful was not to focus so much on the 'negative' aspect of what was arising, as that would just cement the feelings so to speak. I went right to investigating the arising of the selfing process, the felt sense of existing as a separate identity, I would simply note 'image' for any images that arose in the mind somehow giving the impression they were about 'me', or contributing to the sense of 'me'. I would do the same with sensations, and would simply note 'sensations'. I would also note 'thought' in the same way. No matter how bad it got, I would simply break it all down into 'image', sensations' and 'thought'. That seemed to avoid grasping at the cessation of such phenomena (which essentially seemed to fuel their arising anyway).

Other possible ways to deal with such negativity is to 'hack vedana'., metta practice, upping one's concentration levels, maybe the sweet spot, an active letting go of the tension and also talking with other yogis who have experienced something similar helps orient and motivate yourself to do something about it.

Nick
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fivebells ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
It would probably help to switch to metta meditation and come back to noting when you've gotten fluent at connecting with metta.

Over the course of years of meditation, some unnecessary conditioning often evolves, so there's also a good chance that someone will have helpful suggestions if you give us a very precise and empirical description of what you're actually doing in meditation. (i.e., "I just sat down to meditate for the last thirty seconds, and here's exactly what I did, what came up and how I responded, what came up next, etc.")
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Nikolai ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
An experiment if you will.

I speculate (from my own experience) that such 'tensions' such as in the chest area, arise because of the way the mind ignorantly lunges and grasps at some phenomenon or other. There is a movement of mind to grasp and such sensations will arise as a result becoming even more 'tense' and the mind will grasp and cling at even more and manifest some thought /idea/belief/evaluation associated with something that has come in contact with a sense door (thought, smell, sight, sound, touch (in and out), taste), thus giving rise to self-narratives that suck arse. Woe, is 'me'!

It is the manner in which the mind habitually segregates and sections out phenomenon and fabricates off of it that leads to the arising of these tensions and self misery. To counter this tendency, becoming aware of what happens when and how this tendency is stopped is a good idea in my experience. One understands how dukkha arises and also how its cessation comes about. And one can then continue to attend to an approach or technique or pointer which moves the mind/body organism towards the permanent 'cessation' of such unsatisfactory arisings.

One simple approach which i have found extremely useful is following this pointer while at the same time following its instructions, having this approach in mind.

Give it a go. See what happens to that tension and stress when you apply this pointer and manner of approaching it, Play around with the way the mind focuses, looks, observes and see which manner of focusing, looking and observing (or NOT focusing, looking or observing) leads to the arising of all that stress and what other 'angles' actually lead to its cessation.

Nick

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Rich N, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Very real and negative effect of meditation on my nerves

Posts: 64 Join Date: 1/12/11 Recent Posts
Ok, thank you very much for these comments Fivebells and Nikoli they appear very useful.

The feelings I've got at the moment are much worse than just tension, actually they are more like feelings of absolute defeat and solitude. The big problem is that any other normal negative stuff which comes up in my life is being made ten times worse because of the presense of that. This is a pattern I've noticed before (as mentioned when I opened the thread), and I'm struggling at the moment to not allow them to affect any of the other people in my life (students, girlfriend, etc).

Some of the advice I've been offered isn't compatible, in that I can't do everything at once, so this is what I'm going to do.

I am going to start Metta practice, immediately. The reason being that I have had success with this practice before, but I stopped before I really turned into the practice. I think this practice is traditionally considered good for concentration also. I'll use this as my antidote when the going gets really tough, and then when things are rosy then I'll switch back to notice practice - in particular trying to note as much as possible including images and sensations of the self (which I've been noticed zapping up for maybe a year or so now).

I'll document what happens in my practice thread.

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