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Physical Practices

Stillness Sucks

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Stillness Sucks
Answer
1/12/15 2:50 PM
Does anyone else have the experience that still/seated meditation makes things WAY worse - i.e. panic attacks, loss of equanimity, too many "insights" that may be false?

I read an account where Jack Kornfield was at a medditation, and a man tried to sit for a couple days strait. He bassically went nuts and started doing karate kicks in the meating house, and the monks perscribed red meat and jogging - and no meditation.

I'm thinking this is the way I need to go. Yoga seems to be just fine. 

Anyone else with similar experiences, oppisite views, or any other thoughts on this matter? What do you think, for example, the spiritual or highter Path lesson is contained in this?

RE: Stillness Sucks
Answer
1/12/15 4:31 PM as a reply to H McElroy.
Hey H McElroy,

http://www.reichandlowentherapy.org/Content/Principles/receptive_shift.html

That link may be useful, according to the author of that site meditation produces a direct receptive shift, this practice (of meditation) is usually without safeguards and is thus considered dangerous. This is probably why many meditation traditions emphasize the utility of a guru (teacher) and preliminary exercises, such as vase breathing, or not vase breathing but bodily exercises as well as other preliminaries (compassionate exchange) before engaging in the primary practices.

The master Hakuin Ekaku practiced zazen assiduously, but also naively, because of this he suffered from Zen sickness. Which nowadays would actually be... dun dun dun... adrenal burnout syndrome!

http://educate-yourself.org/cn/adrenalburnout19apr05.shtml

It was only after practicing regulating, Taoist meditations that he learned from a hermit that he recovered from this sickness.

In general, unbalanced, naive practice leads to disastrous and often painful results. Hence the need for balance and regulation.

This is why people have teachers and therapists, and perhaps communities like these for guidance.

Not that goal-oriented, DIY meditation is bad. But one also wants to avoid end-gaining, attainment and spiritual materialism.

In the case of the man who went mad after doing seated meditation, perhaps he was just not ready, sitting still with lots of remorse, neuroses or past burdens on your shoulders will drive anyone mad. Once again, the need for morality is emphasized, so as to remove remorse, simultaneously diet (to avoid burnout), and perhaps bodywork are helpful too.

Happy Monday.

Part 2: I mean hell, the Buddha himself warned against premature monks running off into the forest to lead solitary lives, due to the hair-raising fear and horripilation they would experience. Perhaps the same principle can be applied to people who go on long solitary retreats.

The goal-oriented attitude is detrimental to the aspirations of those who sit month-long retreats hoping to burn through paths, the expectation and "attainment attitude" are too high, and thus decrease the enjoyment of sitting meditation itself. Putting a time-limit on anything, creates stress and inhibits growth. Growth only occurs in stress-free environments.

The late Chogyam Trungpa was big on this, and often emphasized that one was not meditating to "get anywhere", but rather to enjoy breathing in and out. I'm fairly certain his point was more subtle than that, but I digress.

RE: Stillness Sucks
Answer
1/12/15 4:40 PM as a reply to H McElroy.
Good insight and information. I've also come to this all through the back door - what I've also heard called 'spontaneous kundalini rising'- through benzodiazepine withdrawal and a near- near-death experience. It was at the very least an unexpected and violent ego death. At this point, I'm trying to cope with it. I've sound further mediation to be sometimes good and sometimes terrible. - Dark night stuff for sure. However, since sitting sometimes makes it all worse, I'm at a loss. I've just met a potential teacher - a monk - and am hoping she will help. Not sure how to broach the subject. Thanks! 

RE: Stillness Sucks
Answer
1/12/15 7:14 PM as a reply to H McElroy.
if it is too overwhelming to sit to meditate, you could set aside some time to do running, and meditate on sensations and breath while you run, then eventually you could go for walks and do that mindfully, then you could eventually do seated meditation for 5 minutes a day, until you start to feel comfortable with that.

RE: Stillness Sucks
Answer
1/12/15 8:18 PM as a reply to H McElroy.
In response to the title: Yeah, I know what you mean. Work practice is a good alternative to yoga for me. I pick some outdoor acticity like snow shoveling and practice concentrating on physical sensations. Maybe the spiritual lesson in this is similar to the one some learn from the desire for deliverance stage of insight or the re-observation one. Acceptance that you're pretty much fudged and there's nothing you can do about it so just accept your crap sensate reality as it is.

I sat for 10 minutes today with the intention of concentrating on my breath and calming the mind. My concentration was good but the stillness really sucked that sit because of predominante edgy energy with no detectable tranquility present.

RE: Stillness Sucks
Answer
1/12/15 10:06 PM as a reply to H McElroy.
Good points. 

It may may make more sense in context. I spent a couple years very isolated and afraid to leave my house. The middle path for me, it seams, is to participate more in the sensate world. I almost died last year. I REALLY like sensations. Even unpleasant ones are interesting enough and 'not death' (or cake?) enough to be enjoyable, in a way. I'm actually not looking to be still. I'm thinking more yoga and, yes, walking and THEN move up to running. Maybe I'm just not A Buddhist ;)

RE: Stillness Sucks
Answer
1/13/15 1:04 AM as a reply to H McElroy.
Hey guys,

There is no need to be perfectly still to meditate.  If you mean you have trouble just doing nothing for a bit, though, then that is actually a good reason to try it.

Maybe try this.  Just sit and do nothing for a little while, don't set a fixed amount of time or anything, and just observe all the reasons you come up with for not remaining seated.  The inevitable answer to all of this antsy chatter is that there is always something to DO!  Always something to FIX!  Always something to PREVENT!  But why not just let the world be broken for a little bit and rest?  Maybe write down everything you're worried about forgetting as it comes up, so you can give yoyrself permission to let go of it for even a few minutes.

Oh, and concentration will help with this.  Even counting your breaths will help.

Hope you guys can find the non-sucky stillness. emoticon

RE: Stillness Sucks
Answer
1/13/15 6:38 AM as a reply to H McElroy.
I would seriously recommend some of the four protective meditations, i.e. meditations that can help you in rough times such as metta meditation, corpse meditation and such.
In fact, this morning I was feeling too edgy, then I took time off my regular meditation to start with some metta. It usually just takes a couple minutes: just making good wishes... cultivating compassion... letting go of anger...
Then I contemplated about the fact that I'm going to die... that I will no longer have my arm, my legs, my eyes, my head, etc... calming down... letting go of excessive attachment to the body... letting go of superficial goals...
Then I counted the breath 1 to 10 some times , verifying I was ok and then did the meditation I choose.
Now I'm feeling calm and focused. If edginess starts to appear, I can see it and avoid it.

These and others are helpful tools for dealing with these kind of feelings.
There is no need to suffer.

Peace,
John