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How to relax and let go?

How to relax and let go?
Answer
1/16/16 8:42 AM
I have been meditating for a couple of years and feel all kinds of energy sensations. Some people tell me my "kundalini" has awakened. Well, ok, but I still can't really relax completely. I can't get into jhana or experience bliss, light, piti, sukkha, etc... in plain old shamatha meditation. This is my goal, to just get good a shamatha. Now, I know some have success with concentration, but concentration does not relax me. It revs me up. It makes me very tense. I always have a tension in my head, I think specifically because I am controlling my thoughts on a subtle level. I can very easily sit and have absolutely no thoughts for a long period of time, but it is because of this clamping down on the head tension. I would like to release this tension. Sometimes, when I am falling asleep, I feel it release and my mind and imagination goes wild and all of a sudden angels and demons are playing weird games in dimensions where the laws of physics don't apply in my head. I think I use tension to hold back my imagination during the day because I am afraid of going crazy and the fast swirling wild imagination which makes no sense has been detected as a threat by my amygdala and so it tightens down on the brain in a way to suppress this activity. But this causes depression. I have meditated with no agenda, letting go of the mind, allowing it to do whatever it wants, and this is nice, but still not making much progress. Another meditation which kind of works is to just feel the "self" who thinks it can "let go" and ask "what is that" or "who am i" etc... I know when the tension does let go a wave of relaxation comes over me and my energy comes down out of the head into the body. What really gets the tension to let go is sex, especially if I am able to just lay back and have it performed on me of course. But this can make me a selfish lover if that is all I ever want to do. I need to learn to relax myself and let go of control of my mind and stay grounded. Does anyone have a similar experience and learned to let go of their control or suppression of their mental formations?Thank you.

Another way to think about is is like spirituality 101: How do I "disidentify" from my mind so that I see it as just something that is there and of no concern to me and so therefore not something I need to or can control?
How is emptiness even able to control or identify with thoughts? I guess if I knew that I would know the cause of suffering and be liberated.

RE: How to relax and let go?
Answer
1/16/16 11:47 AM as a reply to KundaliniLinguini.
KundaliniLinguini:
I have been meditating for a couple of years and feel all kinds of energy sensations. Some people tell me my "kundalini" has awakened. Well, ok, but I still can't really relax completely. I can't get into jhana or experience bliss, light, piti, sukkha, etc... in plain old shamatha meditation. This is my goal, to just get good a shamatha. Now, I know some have success with concentration, but concentration does not relax me. It revs me up. It makes me very tense. I always have a tension in my head, I think specifically because I am controlling my thoughts on a subtle level. I can very easily sit and have absolutely no thoughts for a long period of time, but it is because of this clamping down on the head tension. I would like to release this tension. Sometimes, when I am falling asleep, I feel it release and my mind and imagination goes wild and all of a sudden angels and demons are playing weird games in dimensions where the laws of physics don't apply in my head. I think I use tension to hold back my imagination during the day because I am afraid of going crazy and the fast swirling wild imagination which makes no sense has been detected as a threat by my amygdala and so it tightens down on the brain in a way to suppress this activity. But this causes depression. I have meditated with no agenda, letting go of the mind, allowing it to do whatever it wants, and this is nice, but still not making much progress. Another meditation which kind of works is to just feel the "self" who thinks it can "let go" and ask "what is that" or "who am i" etc... I know when the tension does let go a wave of relaxation comes over me and my energy comes down out of the head into the body. What really gets the tension to let go is sex, especially if I am able to just lay back and have it performed on me of course. But this can make me a selfish lover if that is all I ever want to do. I need to learn to relax myself and let go of control of my mind and stay grounded. Does anyone have a similar experience and learned to let go of their control or suppression of their mental formations?Thank you.

Another way to think about is is like spirituality 101: How do I "disidentify" from my mind so that I see it as just something that is there and of no concern to me and so therefore not something I need to or can control?
How is emptiness even able to control or identify with thoughts? I guess if I knew that I would know the cause of suffering and be liberated.

Can you describe your sitting practice in more detail? As in what technique/s you practice, where the attention is, etc.?

RE: How to relax and let go?
Answer
1/16/16 4:29 PM as a reply to KundaliniLinguini.
KundaliniLinguini:

Does anyone have a similar experience and learned to let go of their control or suppression of their mental formations?Thank you.


I have slowly been learning concentration as of late.  Here are the things that are working for me, that I did not know before:

1) Don't worry about posture.

2) Don't worry about time.  Just sit down and meditate for as long or as short a time as you want.  Focus more on progressing through the stages of your personal meditation process, rather than on how much time has passed or how much time is still left.

3) Get a good conceptual grasp on concentration meditation.  This includes the 7 factors of enlightenment and the 5 factors of jhana.  I used to try to understand the factors of jhana as my main squeeze, and tried to go in order.  I would drive myself crazy by trying to get perfect applied and sustained attention on my object.  All this would do is cause the hindrances to arise.  I actually think the 7 factors of enlightenment are a better approach to meditation.

4) Get rid of the hindrances: You have to get rid of the hindrances first.  Part of this process is realizing the importance of being happy and relaxed before going into meditation.  Realize that meditation is never going to work for you unless you can learn to 'let go' off-cushion and then bring this on-cushion.  Then empower yourself to learn this skill.  Once you start meditating from a decently chill mental atmosphere, play with the breath.  

5) Gladden the mind: Breath into the areas of the body.  Engage with your visualization and mental talk functions to keep the mind entertained and trained on the breath.  You have to make the breath an interesting activity.  Once you get the ball rolling with this, start imagining that you are inhaling the energy of joy.  As you exhale, imagine that you are becoming more relaxed than you have ever been before, releasing even the deepest-held physical tensions in your body.  You can actually physically smile if you want.  

6) When rapture begins, keep gladdening the mind: You need to "gladden the mind" AND be mindful, at the same time.  Eventually, piti will spontaneously arise in some form of rapture.  When this happens, don't stop gladdening the mind.  Keep going, you need to go deeper and deeper, learning how to soak in, and absorb the rapture.  When this becomes so complete, sukha will spontaneously arise.  The key is to stay with the breath in a positive way, continuously.  Don't ignore the breath when the piti arises.

My current cutting edge is early-mature piti, so my last point is going on faith of the teacher I am working with.  He says that sukha, samadhi, and upekha naturally follow from mature piti, like a domino effect.

Edit:  This isn't like a step-by-step process for me.  Sometimes I do focus solely on the breath in a neutral way, for a period of time.  But I always start with the gladdening/positivity stuff.  When the good feelings are ingrained its easier to neutrally observe the breath.  Also, not putting too much effort into focusing on the sensations of the breath has been really helpful for me.  Just focusing with like, 40-60% of my attention keeps me from getting agitated.  When piti matures, the attention will become natural anyway.  I actually think that that is what the suttas are talking about, and the idea of an intense, continuous focus before piti is actually just bad hermeneutics.  Joyful focus leads to joyful jhana.  Agitated focus leads to more agitation.

RE: How to relax and let go?
Answer
1/17/16 9:55 AM as a reply to Noah.
Excellent advice Noah, most things I had to figure out on my own as well, #4 is key
I would add, when applying all this good instruction, observe who is the actor. Do we really 'get rid' of indrances? Hindrances arise IME. Use them as objects, it can be difficult since emotions are powerful and often bewildering. The way in for me is through physical sensation, observing body, mind, intentions, emotions, basically the Buddhist instruction in the Sattiphattana Sutta. Otherwise there's lalaland, blissed out samadhi based on constructions (of sound, objects, breath, ideas...) and you may just be purchasing a ticket to ride without even knowing it, and missing key insights along the way

RE: How to relax and let go?
Answer
1/19/16 10:06 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
i agree.  there is LOTS of really important information in noah's post.  re the hindrances:  they are very observable and therefore excellent objects of contemplation.  when doing concentration practice, especially early on, my particular engagement with the hindrances were to run through the list, one-by-one and check on their presence and intensity on a scale from one to ten eg: sloth and torper - 2, restlesness and agitation -5, doubt (whether of the technique, goal or my own capabilities) -2, lust or desire -6, anger, hate aversion -0.  this showed me where i had to put the emphasis on my preparation.

some of Noah's preparation might ameliorate the need for this step, gladdening the mind for instance.

with some level of experience this checklist approach can often be bypassed becaus one becomes accustomed to having easy acces to the positive sensations which preceed jhana and can just jump right to them,

RE: How to relax and let go?
Answer
1/16/16 6:10 PM as a reply to KundaliniLinguini.
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5644078

RE: How to relax and let go?
Answer
1/17/16 7:25 AM as a reply to KundaliniLinguini.
KundaliniLinguini:
I
S
pirituality 101: How do I "disidentify" from my mind so that I see it as just something that is there and of no concern to me and so therefore not something I need to or can control?


This is what my teacher has said on the subject of stepping back from the mind:

A person is not used to "stepping back" in anything. Through this stepping back, the one thing is, you're just learning how to not touch it, how to not make anything abut it, how to just be patient.

Because your own being so impatient is not letting you be. And when you're not letting yourself be, you don't let anything ripen with you. Because everything will ripen within you through your being patient not to touch it.

And when anything is ripened within you, it's just going to drop in its own ways. You don't even do a thing.

It's the same with ripened fruit, how it falls from the tree in such a beautiful way. Because of its heaviness, its ripeness, its juiciness, it's just going to drop.

But because the person is coming from this, "I want," "I want to understand," or "I want to be in somewhere, in a better place," then the person always, always keeps touching, keeps trying to understand, keeps trying to maniulate whatever is happening within.

The mind likes this kind of busy-ness, likes this kind of ivovlvement in everything. But it's because of you, you just not sitting back. Just be patient.

And even sometimes a person says, "Okay, I've been patient foo a long time." But you'be never been.

This is how being patient means. You sit back. Step back. From everything. You don't touch anhything.

RE: How to relax and let go?
Answer
5/26/16 3:57 PM as a reply to KundaliniLinguini.
What is your object of meditation?

B. Alan Wallace suggests resting the attention on the breath at the abdomen to help with tension in the head and body. On the in breath, place the attention at the abdomen, make sure you aren't "visualizing" this. For me, I notice my eyes have a tendency to "look" down toward my abdomen, so I try to relax them and keep them straight ahead. On the out breath, relax anything in the body that you notice as being tense. Keep letting go of the out breath and relaxing until the in breath comes on its own without being forced. Continue this cycle of focus and relaxation, bringing your attention back to the abdomen when the mind has wandered; Release, relax, return.

B. Alan Wallace has some extensive guided meditations on media.sbinstitute.com. I highly reccomend them.

Cheers emoticon