New here... not quite sure what's going on with practice

Dan O'Connor, modified 9 Years ago.

New here... not quite sure what's going on with practice

Posts: 2 Join Date: 7/30/12 Recent Posts
Hi,

I'm pretty new here, but have read MCTB (although not all of the models of enlightenment). I have meditated on and off for years, but never was very serious about it until the last 3 months. During that time, I've practiced at least 6 days a week.

Anyway, recently, I have had a couple of experiences that I'm wondering about. I'll try to keep it relatively brief/concise, although it'll probably be scattershot. I don't have a direct meditation teacher, so I'm not really sure what to make of these experiences (if anything. Hell, they might be imagined for all I know).

1. I've always had a hard time focusing on the breath. I sometimes wonder if I had ADHD, but who the hell doesn't wonder that these days? Anyway, I did at one point in a lengthy meditation session manage to try something different where I just stopped giving a shit about working on the breath and I just let go internally. My breath was getting too slow/shallow to really follow anyway, so I just went internal. I sort of rolled my attention into a spherical ball around the solar plexus and sometimes up to my head. I was able to almost completely retreat into myself and I felt really peaceful for a while, to the point where I didn't want to leave it or move. I haven't been able to get back to that spot since and actually started feeling like I was slacking off, so I went back to focusing on the breath again (with less results). Did I reach something here? It was actually really restful and peaceful. It may have been the last time I felt really peaceful during meditation or after.

2. Since then, I've had a few unpleasant feelings. Typical symptoms: difficulty in the lower back (but I think this is actually just becoming more conscious of a sleeping issue). Pressure on the chest bone, like someone is pressing down on it (and no, it's not painful, it's just a brief pressure that's kind of annoying). Sometimes, I get a stiffness or ache in my neck and shoulders that can be constant. Sometimes a muscular tightness in my arms.

3. I started doing the rapid noting technique from MCTB. I've done it a couple of times and actually found last night that my meditation practice was a lot more engaging. And my concentration practice has increased finally. However, I noticed two things: I couldn't sleep as easily and when I do, my dreams are insanely vivid. Is this normal?

4. This is the real reason why I'm writing. I've noticed that since I started the noting technique, I've been noticing a lot more during my daily life. This actually caused a problem today and I'm wondering if anyone else has had this issue. I've always struggled with anxiety and am actually going to a shrink about it. He recommended mindfulness practice a while ago as a way of dealing with it, which is of course interesting to me since I had been meditating on and off for a while. Things were going great, but after starting noting this weekend, I started to notice that my anxiety increased. I noticed quite a bit more than usual, and sort of lost my equanimity as a result. It has basically increased my anxiety now that I'm more aware of things going on. Is this an issue? Has anyone else had this experience? Any advice? It has actually freaked me out a bit, honestly. I got back into meditation to deal with anxiety, and now it seems to have made it more apparent. (I also am more aware of a lower-level feeling of ungroundedness. And this did start to increase after the experience in #1).

Anyway, any insight or practice recommendations would be much appreciated. Thanks,
-Dan
thumbnail
fivebells ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: New here... not quite sure what's going on with practice

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
If you're struggling with anxiety, insight practice is not a good place to start. Metta practice or what you were doing in point 1. will get you better results.
Tom A Vitale, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: New here... not quite sure what's going on with practice

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
And my concentration practice has increased finally. However, I noticed two things: I couldn't sleep as easily and when I do, my dreams are insanely vivid. Is this normal?


In my experience, this is very normal and the direct result of heavy concentration. If meditation is less heavily concentrated, this side-effect will not happen.

It has basically increased my anxiety now that I'm more aware of things going on. Is this an issue? Has anyone else had this experience? Any advice? It has actually freaked me out a bit, honestly. I got back into meditation to deal with anxiety, and now it seems to have made it more apparent.


Any meditation outside of just sitting at access concentration (which would diminish anxiety like the doctor said) is likely to shed light on the anxiety to get a better look at it, thus giving the feeling of more anxiety. In the short term, anxiety will likely worsen, in the long-term it will be alleviated. More important would be to ask yourself the question, what exactly IS anxiety in a direct non-conceptual way? It could be several years of meditation practice before you can really answer this.

EDIT: I would agree with fivebells that you should spend more time just sitting at access concentration and developing basic mindfulness before doing any insight practices. I spent 1.5-2 years doing this before starting insight practices.

It has actually freaked me out a bit


When dealing with your anxiety or any other psychological/psychiatric issues keep this in mind: Fear of madness IS madness.
Dan O'Connor, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: New here... not quite sure what's going on with practice

Posts: 2 Join Date: 7/30/12 Recent Posts
Thanks to both of you. I will probably start meditation sessions with metta practice.

I'm not sure if I've actually hit access concentration, honestly. The reason I went so hardcore into this was that I wanted to attain the first Jhana, but it has been extraordinarily difficult to concentrate on the breath for me (breath meditation has almost always posed a problem for me; I had some success with an internal mantra a few years back, so I may pick that up again, but I'm likely to continue with the breath because I don't want to switch up modalities when things get difficult). Some times I can do better than others, but I almost never manage to get "one-pointedness" for more than a full breath cycle at best. And, honestly, even after reading descriptions of access concentration, I'm not sure if my understanding of it is even correct, but I'm still trying. Although, at this point, I'm digressing into a topic for another forum.

Thanks for the feedback/insight.
-Dan
Tom A Vitale, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: New here... not quite sure what's going on with practice

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
And, honestly, even after reading descriptions of access concentration, I'm not sure if my understanding of it is even correct, but I'm still trying. Although, at this point, I'm digressing into a topic for another forum.


You're over thinking this. Don't think about access concentration or jhanas at all, just put the attention on the breath when you sit and try to keep it there. When attention wanders bring it back to the breath. Practice exactly what I just wrote and eventually access concentration and then jhana will arise on its own.

Breadcrumb