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Help with the pain.
Answer
3/23/15 4:36 PM
I went to my first 10 day vipassana course in September of last year.  A big part of my expirience there was pain.  Pain in my upper back.  The intensity was directly related to how long I would meditate. It would get pretty intense when we were asked not to move for the duration of the mediation.  I was only able to stay still a couple of times.

I didn't meditate for several weeks when I got home becuase I had just had enough.  But, eventually I got into a solid practice of mediating every morning.  

The pain is pretty intense these days.  After about 45 minutes the pain starts and grows in intensity until I stop meditating.  Sometimes the pain lingers throughout the day like I woke something up while meditating.  Like today, it was 8 hours ago that I meditated and it still hurts.

I wouldn't say I am a sissy but I am running out of stamina to deal with the pain.  I find myself procrastinating, looking for the wherewithal to deal with it again. 

I am not really concerned with what stage I am in.  Although, I would guess I am In 3rd ñana, Knowledge of the Three Characteristics.  That is interesting to me but not really my question.

What I would love to know is what to do with the pain?  Is this just something that has to be endured?  How long will it last?  I have tried examining it to discover what I could. It is in 4-5 separate locations and varies in sharpness.  By the end of my meditation there is also some pressure that is about the size of a hand with the fingers spread out wide.  Sometimes it feels like pressure and sometimes it feels like weight pulling down and backwards. I don't know if any of that matters, but I though I would describe it.  It also sometimes feels like it is hurting becuase I somehow fighting against myself, although I really don't understand how or why.

I am all about speed on the path so if there is more than one way to deal with this, I am interested in the one that moves me forward at the greatest speed.

Any and all advise would be greatly appreciated.

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/23/15 6:01 PM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/23/15 7:57 PM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.
So for pain in sitting meditation and to develop the mind in favor of learning to meditate what I did was ānāpānasati, which could also be considered a joy-contentment-equanmity cascade of sensations, from high joy to neutrality:

Step one, immediately upon sitting down:
I often generated strong pīti (joy) right when I sat down.
For pīti: the common object for raising pīti would be recalling the uncontrolled laughter of two of my family members when they are laughing about something they did in public that was embarassing and they can barely get the story out because they are laughing so hard. 

Step two: I'd "harvest" the joyous sensation and the bright mind of that memory-driven pīti that had been raised, but I'd let go of the memory that raised the sensation and bright mind.  For me, the breath then sustains and stabilizes the pīti, the inhale commonly raising the energetic sensations of joy and the brightness of mind, while the exhale often subtley leads the way into sukkha. The breath is natural (btw: not forcing the breath just took a while for me; it was just natural for me to inadvertently "control" the breath in the beginning, which was uncomfortable in the chest, head, throat... =)

Step three: the pīti sensations subside naturally into sukkha (often on the exhale side, piīti is going into sukkha and sukkha commonly drops into natural, completely let-go equanimity (something agency/volition cannot bring about, imo; one just practices and the mind lets go on its own)

Step four: Eventually the mind can feel that pīti when the first inhale happens and the mind is willingly engaged with the breath (has lost interest in the routine of story-making in favor of this pleasant-starting activity-- this took a good number of months); the brain seems to learn what is pīti, how to stabilize that, how pīti will relax into sukkha and how there is a cascade from pīti into, eventually, equanimity; with equanimity arising when there is no expectation/ looking for/ antipication whatsoever, imo).

Note: the point is not to keep the mind in an athletic pīti or blissy sukkha, but to help the person adjust in a nice-feeling way to the first months/period of time of training in bhavana (meditative stabilization) and learning about body sensations and mental influence and vice versa. Eventually, from deep sukkha the mind can slide into equanimity. 

Hope that's useful.


_______________ 
edit x1: typo ogres 

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/24/15 2:41 AM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.
Brett Bangerter:
I went to my first 10 day vipassana course in September of last year.  A big part of my expirience there was pain.  Pain in my upper back.  The intensity was directly related to how long I would meditate. It would get pretty intense when we were asked not to move for the duration of the mediation.  I was only able to stay still a couple of times.

I didn't meditate for several weeks when I got home becuase I had just had enough.  But, eventually I got into a solid practice of mediating every morning.  

The pain is pretty intense these days.  After about 45 minutes the pain starts and grows in intensity until I stop meditating.  Sometimes the pain lingers throughout the day like I woke something up while meditating.  Like today, it was 8 hours ago that I meditated and it still hurts.

I wouldn't say I am a sissy but I am running out of stamina to deal with the pain.  I find myself procrastinating, looking for the wherewithal to deal with it again. 

I am not really concerned with what stage I am in.  Although, I would guess I am In 3rd ñana, Knowledge of the Three Characteristics.  That is interesting to me but not really my question.

What I would love to know is what to do with the pain?  Is this just something that has to be endured?  How long will it last?  I have tried examining it to discover what I could. It is in 4-5 separate locations and varies in sharpness.  By the end of my meditation there is also some pressure that is about the size of a hand with the fingers spread out wide.  Sometimes it feels like pressure and sometimes it feels like weight pulling down and backwards. I don't know if any of that matters, but I though I would describe it.  It also sometimes feels like it is hurting becuase I somehow fighting against myself, although I really don't understand how or why.

I am all about speed on the path so if there is more than one way to deal with this, I am interested in the one that moves me forward at the greatest speed.

Any and all advise would be greatly appreciated.

Try lying down on the bed instead, eyes open and with a pillow under your knees. As long as you don't spend half the sit asleep, it's aperfectly valid posture. It just isn't necessary for meditation to be some kind of endurance event. Nothing sissy about finding a posture you can make progress in...

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/24/15 5:38 AM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.
Brett, do know whether it is the sitting positon or the mediation that is creating the pain? If not have you tried walking meditation or as Bagpuss suggested, lying down? This could help establish what is behind the pain.

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/24/15 4:15 PM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.
I´d say do not endure the pain. Investigate it.
If you work carefully and patiently on this, you may be surprised.
How to work with it - there is a very instructive post by Elizabeth P. here:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5674311

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/24/15 11:59 PM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.
This is likely a physical issue if you're still feeling it hours later.  If you're not using a chair, just use a chair, or lie down.  The fact that you are avoiding meditation because of physical discomfort means it's time to change something, I would think. You're not trying to train your physical endurance, you're trying to train your mind, right? So no point in making it harder than it is already!

BTW, you said the pain starts after 45 minutes - this is a pretty long time to sit still. If you want to do longer sessions, why not just alternate sitting and walking, 30 minutes each? This will help you transition mindfulness into everyday life, as well.

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/25/15 1:02 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Thank you all for taking the time to offer up these suggestions.
I would have thought it was the meditation causing the pain until I evaluated Chris' suggestion carefully. I had been under the impression that I was clearing sancara (spelling) and just had to work through it. Now I am not so sure. I will play around with my meditation position and see what happens.  I have been using a chair with erect posture- I don't use the back of the chair.
Having pain that intensifies rather than disapate makes evaluation of impermanence rather challenging.

My target is to sit for an hour.  My main focus at this time is working to greatly increase my ability to concentrate.  My goal is to be able to stay focused only on my breath for an hour.  If my mind pulls my concentration away but I am aware of it, and it's a very short trip, I'm still calling that a win.  I'm not planning on moving on to any of the other steps or processes until I have made this goal.
I have not had much success investigating the pain.  Before it gets too intense it's pretty easy to try and observe it with equanimity and see what I can learn.  As it never stops intensifying, at some point I loose equanimity (most other unpleasant sensations I encounter while meditating begin to fade when I observe them and eventually fade altogether).  What I have learned is that it's several sensations, and they vary in strength and vibration and they move around.  Sometimes a particular sensation will be just below my left shoulder blade and other times it is nearer to my spine. Or it feels like the same sensation that has moved and it's just a new sensation that feels the same as the other.  At the Vipassana course I went to they talked a lot about these sensations being something that needs to be released.  That they are a lower or negative vibration that will eventually disapate with eqaunamous observation.
Or maybe I just need to go see a chiropractor.......

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/25/15 2:17 PM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.
Brett Bangerter:
As it never stops intensifying
Oh, well, in this case I agree with Not Tao. In my experience, "good pain" varies in intensity (and other features) and disappears at the latest after I got up from the cushion. Except on retreat - there it sometimes piles up.

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
3/25/15 2:28 PM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.
The pain you describe is also what I experience when I am in the #3nana. I recommend the things I said earlier, but I think the descriptions of this nana in MCTB from Daniel Ingram and Contemplative Fitness from Kenneth Folk will help you.

MCTB: The Three Characteristics: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+3.+The+Three+Characteristics

Contemplative Fitness: -> see the attachments.

I don't know if showing Contemplative Fitness in this way is illegal, so if it is, then please delete them.

RE: Help with the pain.
Answer
4/21/15 8:27 AM as a reply to Brett Bangerter.
Brett,
do some yoga asanas.
This one is extremely useful http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschimottanasana
Pain is a very common thing during meditation.