Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Ray, modified 4 Years ago.

Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Post: 1 Join Date: 12/16/16 Recent Posts
Hi guys.

I'm looking for the ultimate anti-stress/anti-anxiety method.

Some backstory: I take an anti-anxiety drug to take the edge off my anxiety. The way this drug works is it dulls the mind and senses so that reality is less intense. This makes anxiety less intense but also makes reality much less interesting and sucks the joy from life.

I'm hell bent on finding a way to get off this drug and functioning like a normal person. I will do almost anything to make this happen.

I feel like concentration practice could be the go - I have already done some, and I find relaxing. HOWEVER what I need to do is make it so I can reproduce the relaxation ON DEMAND, DURING A STRESSFUL SITUATION. This is the key. It's one thing to sit in a quiet place and be peaceful, it's another to be able to draw on that peace in a time of need.

Can concentration practice eventually lead to this ability? To be able to chill my mind even when I'm panicking?

Are there any better or complementary practices I could do?

I thank you for your thoughts.
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Supreme Maharishi Bhumi 1000, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 10/14/16 Recent Posts
RE: Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?
Myles Davidson, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 10/20/16 Recent Posts
For me, in answer to your question, I would have to say a resounding HELL YES!

I have had an anxiety disorder my whole life and have (mainly) self medicated to deal with it. I won't go to much into my story but I have had serious heroin, meth, alcohol and cannabis addictions. I've done many withdrawals from heroin, methadone and Suboxone and they have alaways been hell (anxiety through the roof!). After seven years clean from heroin and meth I discovered the 'deep web' markets and like a kid in a candy shop was having the best drugs sent to my door and another relapse. Long story short, I'd been on Suboxone for a couple of years and it was time to come off (for good this time!)... enter meditation.

I'd had a little bit of experience with meditation (did stints of it and had done a retreat) and always noticed how much calmer I was durring the day. After learning more about the science of how it works I decided to start meditating again in preperation for my withdrawal. I knew I needed to 'cool doiwn' my sympathetic nervous system ('fight or flight') big time so I worked my way up (in meditation dosage time) as I lowered my Suboxone dose ready for the jump off. In the week leading up to my last dose, I was meditating 2-3 x one hour a day. Just pure 'samatha' (concentration). 

18 days ago I had my last dose of Suboxone. What is incredible is I have had zero anxiety (and I mean none!). The 'restless leg syndrome' was a bit chronic for a few days but I found cannabis to be of huge benefit in too many ways to recount here. 

My experience has been mind-blowing to say the least. The fact I had no emotional triggers around me helped enormously but 'samatha' saved the day really! It's been hard to meditate the last couple of weeks and I haven't really needed to. I'll get back into it when I am strong again and can hold myself upright emoticon

My advice... start working your way up to meditate as much as you can before you stop your meds. Just ingraining the pattern of an even breath is huge for anxiety. The more you do it, the more naturally you'll just breath like that always. Keep us posted emoticon
shargrol, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Posts: 1608 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Some great replies here from people with more experience than me in transitioning away from medication.

One thing I will add is that plain old physical exercise can go a long way to supporting a calmer baseline state. I would actually recommend exercise before I recommended meditation. Gradually establish a good, challenging practice. If your most stressful activity of the day/week are hard workouts, everything else seems easy.  Just make sure you allow yourself time to recover, either by rest days or by emphasizing different parts of the body on different days.

It's clear to me that having good exercise supports good meditation. The body and mind is less twitchy. And good exercise and good meditation supports good sleep. And to minimize anxeity, it's great if you can have all three: a healthy and mellow body, good meditation practice, and good sleep. So all of these three really help and together they support each other.

Best wishes!
Myles Davidson, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 10/20/16 Recent Posts
shargrol:

One thing I will add is that plain old physical exercise can go a long way to supporting a calmer baseline state. I would actually recommend exercise before I recommended meditation. Gradually establish a good, challenging practice. If your most stressful activity of the day/week are hard workouts, everything else seems easy.  Just make sure you allow yourself time to recover, either by rest days or by emphasizing different parts of the body on different days.


I would second that!
Personally my thing is yoga + running + kettlebells. (stretch + aerobic + strength).

Being relatively fit before stopping can make all the difference!
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tom moylan, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
yes.  jhana practice can help you chill.  it can help you deal with the things that tend to push your anxiety buttons.  dramas appear and fade away and you watch them float by like clouds in the sky leaving little impression.

it can take a while though and its difficult to say where the real changes lie; on the shamatha side or on the vipassana side or are they attributes of the wiring changes which happen at the different stages of insight or accord to something altogether different.

am i so chilled out because i can sit down and be in jhana quickly?  am i so relaxed because i have seen through some hindering concepts that i once thought were important to cling to?  am i at peace because my brain has been rewired after hitting some psychological milestones

its really hard to say due to my mixed practice over the years.  imo its almost a moot question.  since the individual variances in practice and experience are so varied its almost impossible to say what will help you the most in this direction.

hanging on to the idea that shamatha will save me or that insight will save me or this or that.  follow your nose.  if you can get good concentration get straight into it.  if you find that vipassana moves you along then do that.  if you find that something that had previously worked for you is no longer your thing..move on.

what is your practice like now?  why not do concentration?  it can only help.
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CJMacie, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Posts: 863 Join Date: 8/17/14 Recent Posts
Ray:
Hi guys.

[1] ... what I need to do is make it so I can reproduce the relaxation ON DEMAND, DURING A STRESSFUL SITUATION. This is the key. It's one thing to sit in a quiet place and be peaceful, it's another to be able to draw on that peace in a time of need.

[2] Are there any better or complementary practices I could do?


Lots of good advice above. Here's filling in some blanks…
 
[1] Yes and no.
Complete eradication of stress response, as some level – no.
Reduction of intensity and ofhelplessness – yes.
Developing skill (i.e. lots of practice) of experiencing, evoking tranquillity can create "room" in the mind to be able to see more clearly exactly what's going on in the middle of it; and a sense of things going on at different levels at the same time. When one part of the mind knows how to be calm and watch, it can then work as an anchor, a presence to stabilize, balance against other parts of the mind that still get triggered and automatically react, i.e. become anxious, freeze-up in panic. When the mind can watch it as it happens, it can see more and earlier how and when it gets triggered; have a bit of space (room) to be able to activate counter measures, e.g. newly developed habits, tricks to help defuse, or at least ameliorate the severity (and consequences) of reaction. (This watching, seeing approximates what is called "vipassana".)

Building a reflex to reliably evoke that stable, watching part of the mind, no matter what else is going-on, is of immense pragmatic value. Without it, the mind "gets lost", unanchored, cut off from perspective and deeper strength. With it, you're still in contact, can draw on your source energies to be able to weather storms, from without or within, the occurrence of which is beyond control. The reaction, presence of mind in the face of whatever pops-up, is within one's control – potentially, i.e. can be cultivated.

[2] Traditionally (Buddhist lore), concentration is built on the basis of "virtue", good moral conduct (Buddhist Pali term "sila"). The rationale is that mind can't really achieve reliable steadiness, calm, and clear vision, when it's constantly looking over it's shoulder, so to speak, with a "bad conscience". The idea is to also watch, discern one's intentions and actions to figure out how to behave more skilfully; to examine the results of what one does; not to engender "guilt" which can be like panic freeze-up, but to just learn to evaluate how do better, and let go of the past.

Another tip, from many different teachers, is to evaluate practices in terms of whether they yield positive results right away, even if small. This is important as it gives motivation to persist with it.
Myles Davidson, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Is Concentration Practice THE BEST Anti-Stress Method?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 10/20/16 Recent Posts
A lot (probably most) addicts or chemical dependent people are drawn to certain drugs because they provide what their brain is naturally missing or low on, due to diet, genetics, stress etc. (seratonin, GABA, endorphine/enkephalin, catecholamine etc.).

If you're drawn to anti-anxiety meds then you are almost certainly GABA deficient. (GABA is sometimes known as the brains natural Valium). The best way to remedy this is to take the following supplements to boost your natural GABA.

1. L-Glutamine (an amino acid essential for GABA production). Up to 3,500 mg's 3x daily an hour before breakfast, dinner and bedtime.
2. L-Taurine (another 'relaxing' amino acid). Up to 1000 mg's with each dose of L-Glutamine
3. B-Complex Vitamin Cap (B6 is essential for GABA production). You need to get 50-100 mg's of B6 with every glutamine dose.
4. Good multi vitamin

I'd be introducing these nutrients when you take the leap as well. This info is lifted from the book End Your Addiction Now: The Proven Nutritional Supplement Program That Can Set You Free by Charles Gant MD (which I highly recommend).

Good luck and best wishes with it all emoticon

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