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A Vipassana Failure

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A Vipassana Failure
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8/7/13 3:52 PM
I wanted to write a short note expressing my gratitude to this community as well as an apology for some quite angry behavior over the past few months.

I have come to realize that Vipassana is not for me. I have worn myself down physically to the point of exhaustion with meditating and I have reached the point that I no longer care if I am practicing or not, whether I ever am able to be productive and work or not, or whether I have a self or not (it still feels very much intact).

As bad as this sounds, I feel a good deal lighter with all this out in the open. What makes sense to me now (and deep down has all along) are surrendering to god, to love, to the present moment, to whatever circumstances arise, because ultimately I have reached a point that I no longer have any clue about things like fruitions, jhana, nanas, and the like. If these things were showing up at some point in my practice, they are basically non-recognizable now, and that gives me some peace.

Anyway, I hope this is encouraging for somebody. The point I am trying to make here is that not everyone will find the approach of Vipassana compatible with what they are trying to achieve in life. That's ok, the important thing is learning how to be happy and make others happy.

RE: A Vipassana Failure
Answer
8/7/13 7:58 PM as a reply to Sleeping Buddha Syndrome.
I'm sorry to hear that but you have many other options (which people should do whether they are advanced meditators or not). There are great books from many traditions that have helped me along the way.

Stoic Serentiy

Marcus Aurelius Meditations

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Psycho Cybernetics

Man's search for meaning

Pomodoro Technique

In the end meditation for me didn't replace these sources as much as created a foundation that can use them and there's no reason why people can't find something in the above to create general peace and aliveness. If the effort you did was exhaustive don't let that stop you from putting the same effort in developing skills and habits you need. Often that very day to day effort is what is needed to condition new habits.

If you ever return to some noting practice just remind yourself that what's happening in your life is hitting your consciousness already and trying to limit anything with noting practice isn't it. Just tuning into what consciousness is already noticing is all that is needed to get pretty good equanimity. Letting life and attention go where it wants to but always tuning into what's registering in consciousness is mindfulness. Seeing things pass away naturally without "extra help" creates freedom. There's more I'm sure but it's been pretty damn good for me so far.

Ken Folk's advice:

Practice becoming aware of the body sensations that correspond to a thought. Whenever a thought arises, feel the body. How do you know whether you like the thought or not? It's because the body sensations feel either pleasant or unpleasant. Notice that if you dissociate from this moment, i.e., step into the fantasy and leave the body, you will suffer. Suffering is not ordinary pain; ordinary pain is just unpleasant sensation. Suffering is cause by the dissociation, the stepping out of this moment, out of the body. Stay in the body and ride the waves of body sensation. Watch how the body reacts to the thougts and vice versa. See how the looping between body and mind IS the dissociation. Short-circuit this by returning to the body. Stay with the body as continuously as you can. You are stretching the amount of time you can stay in the body without being blown out of it by an event or a thought. To be in the body is to be free. To be in the body all the time is to be free all the time.
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"While you are practicing just sitting, be clear about everything going on in your mind. Whatever you feel, be aware of it, but never abandon the awareness of your whole body sitting there. Shikantaza is not sitting with nothing to do; it is a very demanding practice, requiring diligence as well as alertness. If your practice goes well, you will experience the 'dropping off' of sensations and thoughts. You need to stay with it and begin to take the whole environment as your body. Whatever enters the door of your senses becomes one totality, extending from your body to the whole environment. This is silent illumination."

-Master Shengyen
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Kenneth: See how the looping between body and mind IS the dissociation.

Mumuwu: Do you mean the moving out of the body to the mind and back?

I mean the creation of a third "thing," this pseudo-entity that is a composite of body sensations and mental phenomena. Living in this third thing is suffering because it takes you out of what is really happening in this moment; it becomes a proxy for experience. You can train yourself to stop living this proxy life of suffering by coming back to the body sensations in this moment. The body cannot lie. Being in the body is being present in this moment. Being present in this moment does not allow the pseudo-self to form. When the pseudo-self does not form, life is simple and free. It will be pleasant at times and unpleasant at times, but it is always free.

There is no conflict between noting and living in your body, by the way, whether you note silently or aloud. You can note or not note, think, act, talk, love, live; there is very little you can't do; you just can't suffer. If you choose to note, understand that there is nothing magical about the noting itself. The noting is simply a feedback loop to remind you to feel your body and observe your mind in this moment.


Which ever practice gets you to make good choices and develop good habits is the right one for you ultimately.

Good luck!

RE: A Vipassana Failure
Answer
8/13/13 8:11 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
I read your post and now it's deleted.

To answer your question. Meditation will (if done properly) help to wean you off addiction to dopamine. It will not organize and make your life better. In order to use the reward drug dopamine properly (to achieve goals) you need to have important goals in your life and then those goals have to be broken down into smaller goals that you can take action on a daily basis. This is so you can get regular healthy doses of dopamine which make you feel great. If you feel bad about life goals it's because you're not accepting what you haven't done or what you couldn't control that's interfering. With meditation you want to accept reality (especially what you can't control). That's how you reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Putting goals behind you is what will make you feel good with dopamine. Meditation will help with aversion that arises while you are taking on those goals.

By not repressing what's hitting your consciousness (knowing part of your mind) and not ruminating about it there should be less mental stress. I always link this advice for noting so people don't get the wrong idea about it:

Gil Fronsdal noting

You should be noting things not to push them away but noting even the bad sensations and thoughts. The relief happens when you watch these sensations pass away on their own because you don't add rumination or repressive thoughts over the sensations. By seeing this and getting relief you realise that noting is just passively looking at what is happening as opposed to using fantasy to escape. Meditation is not an escape and in fact is quite the opposite.

Here's some 3rd path advise that Daniel gave another poster in the past. Sometimes looking at something that is beyond your skill level will clue you in:

Taking it as a working assumption that you got 2nd path, which is an assumption, and just proceeding as if that were the case:

Third involves a few things, as I see it:

1) Continuing to practice, and by that I mean directly seeing things arise and vanish on their own over there, however you can do that. Noting is good, direct observation of all the complexity is better, though using noting to ease into difficult patterns of sensations can be useful.

2) Going wide and through: as third is more spacious, more about dissolving a significant chunk of what seems to be observing, doing, controlling, analyzing, and the like, you both have to take on more of the sensations that seem to be all of that, which they aren't, and also see how to dissolve the artificial boundaries that seem to delineate that from everything else, meaning the rest of what happens in what seems to be space. Play on that line: how do you know what the edge between what seems to be you and not you is, viscerally, perceptually, vibrationally, texturally, geographically, volumetrically? Any quality that you notice seems to really feel like it means it is you, see the Three Characteristics of that.

3) Dismiss ideals and the patterns of ideals about what you think this stuff will do as more sensations to observe. If you can do this at the level of fluxing, shifting patterns of suchness, that is easier, but whatever level you find yourself at is the level that you can work with, as it is all the same from that point of view, and knowing that simple fact can help a lot.

4) Really allow the thing to show itself. Really allow luminosity to show itself. Really allow things to just happen as they do. Less control, more direct understanding of that natural unfolding, more noticing how the sense of control occurs at all, what it feels like, how that set of textures and intentions set up a sense that there is a you that is doing anything and how obviously wrong that is. Feel into what seems to be looking, asking, wanting, expecting and vipassanize all of that: not forcefully but skillfully, subtly coaxing those patterns into the light of awareness that sees through their clever tricks, almost like you have to look just slightly to the side of the Pleiades to see them as clearly, almost as if you have to sneak up on them so gently that they don't notice it and can be caught unawares, except that sneaking process is what you are trying to sneak up on.

5) Notice that you can't do anything other than what happens. Try. See how those patterns occur. Try to do something other than what happens. It is preposterous, but when you try it, there are patterns that arise, patterns of illusion, patterns of pretending, patterns that if you start to look at them you will see are ludicrous, laughable, like a kid's fantasies, and yet that is how you believe you are controlling things, so try again and again to do something other than what occurs and watch those patterns of confusion and pretending to be in control that arise and you will learn something. This is an unusually profound point.

6) Really, really keep the Three Characteristics in all their profundity as the Gold Standards for whether or not you are perceiving things clearly, and each moment you aren't, notice why and debunk that right there, and then do it again and again and again, as it always takes more repetitions of that process than people think it should, and so many get psyched out, when it may have not been that many more iterations of the process to have succeeded in locking that in as the way of perceiving things permanently.

7) Feel the going out into new territory with its confusion, tedium, frustration and creepiness as the thing itself: that which wants it to be known, mapped, predictable, safe, familiar is part of the thing that you need to see as it is: see those patterns in the head, chest, stomach, throat, etc. as more shifting, fresh patterns: that freshness keeps you honest, keeps you really paying attention in that slightly violating, slightly personally-taboo way that really helps in the end.

8) If you are familiar with the vipassana jhanas as living, familiar, felt things, then realize that Third has elements of the Third Jhana, wide but somehow there is something creepy about it, as it violates the center in a more full-time way than the earlier paths do. The more you have a tolerance for something in that letting go through-to-the-bone creepiness and can see the good side in that, the width, the spaciousness, the naturalness, the directness, the completeness, the fullness, the now-ness of it, the better you will do. It is a more sophisticated way of perceiving things, more out of control, more brave, more free, requiring more trust, more openness, more acceptance, being more down to earth and also more diffuse at the same time, which is an odd juxtaposition of feelings to get used to, but it is worth it.

9) If you have 5th, or even 4j.5j, meaning the spacious aspect of 4th that is not truly formless but still quite open and wide, that is a really good pointer, just allow it to also go through anything you think is you, working on that seeming boundary line, as above, but allowing it to breathe, to flux, volumetrically, like moving blobs of space with texture all together, all of them just the natural world doing its rich and empty thing.

Any of that help?


And to answer your question on what is a Jhana just look at it this way. To block all thoughts except the noticing of the breath should (with practice) get you some relief in that the brain can stop ruminating about negative thoughts because it's resting on something really simple.

Then there is this thread:

Isolation of blowing it

It's okay to ask for help.