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Difficulty in practise due to pain

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Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 3:40 AM
Hi everyone, I hope this isn't the wrong section, first time poster here. I apologize in advance for the length.

About 15 years ago I was reading the Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui Neng every day during my commute (2 hrs a day approximately) and then reading other sutras when I got home. My knowledge of buddhism was limited outside of those texts, but I did my best to understand. My goal at the time was to find my "buddha nature", though I didn't know how despite all my reading. I looked here and there, up and down, inside and outside, everywhere I could think of. One night I started reading the Gatha of Seng T'san, and then I read the following:

It’s not difficult to discover your Buddha Mind
But just don’t try to search for it.
Cease accepting and rejecting possible places where you think it can be found,
And it will appear before you.

It was as if my logical mind just stopped dead in confusion for a split second, and in that instant it felt like my mind exploded outwards. I experienced something without boundaries, without size or shape, totally beyond conception or limitation. For a moment it was as if my mind filled the entire universe, but just as quickly as it started it was over. Tears started pouring down my face and I felt a gratefulness and joy like i've never experienced, along with the realization that there is no self, and no other. The universe is fundamentally empty and "we" are alone.

Like many before me I made the mistake of thinking i'd reached final enlightenment. After about 4 days of absolute bliss and clarity, and what I believe was prajna (I could ask myself any question and get answers which had the ring of truth to them), I abruptly "fell back to earth". I was confused and didn't know what to do. There was no doubt in my mind that my experience was real, but I couldn't understand why it ended. Out of frustration I stopped practising and entered what you guys seem to call the "dark night". I stayed there for 15 years and got caught up in passion and sensation again, though certain things like superstition and belief in a self just dropped to nothing.

After a number of particularly painful experiences in my life I found my way back to the path and started practising again, and realized my error in thinking I had achieved unbinding. After increasing my knowledge of the stages of the path I realized that it was likely stream entry that I experienced, and that i'd been wandering off in the weeds for the last decade instead of walking the path.

I recently learned how to practise vipassana and samadhi at a higher level than before, and started making good progress again. I was happy, and the remaining hindrances began falling away. I stopped smoking pot, lost all interest in sex, stopped playing video games (I was formerly a game designer lol), let go of ill will etc etc. Great, right?

Unfortunately i've hit a wall and i'm not sure what to do. My noticing practise is stronger than ever, and i'm currently meditating pretty much all day every day. However i'm experiencing pain that is making it very difficult to do samhadi, or even sleep. I can do vipassana but we're supposed to balance insight with tranquility and I currently feel totally unbalanced since I can't sleep much or do tranquility meditation for any length of time. I have pains in my head and neck which don't go away no matter how much I note them.

Have I totally misunderstood my place on the path? I'm willing to accept the possibility that i've overestimated my progress, but when I review the progress on the path information, it feels as if I am currently at "Knowledge of Re-observation". I don't say this to humblebrag or anything like that, I just genuinely want to keep progressing, so i'm confused as to how I should proceed. How do I either stop or let go of this pain? It's not even so much the pain that I mind, it's the fact that it's interfering with my ability to sleep and practise. Any help would be appreciated.

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 5:33 AM as a reply to Lars.
Hello, Lars! Welcome emoticon


Lars:
It was as if my logical mind just stopped dead in confusion for a split second, and in that instant it felt like my mind exploded outwards. I experienced something without boundaries, without size or shape, totally beyond conception or limitation. For a moment it was as if my mind filled the entire universe, but just as quickly as it started it was over. Tears started pouring down my face and I felt a gratefulness and joy like i've never experienced, along with the realization that there is no self, and no other. The universe is fundamentally empty and "we" are alone.

Like many before me I made the mistake of thinking i'd reached final enlightenment. After about 4 days of absolute bliss and clarity, and what I believe was prajna (I could ask myself any question and get answers which had the ring of truth to them), I abruptly "fell back to earth". I was confused and didn't know what to do. There was no doubt in my mind that my experience was real, but I couldn't understand why it ended. Out of frustration I stopped practising and entered what you guys seem to call the "dark night". I stayed there for 15 years and got caught up in passion and sensation again, though certain things like superstition and belief in a self just dropped to nothing.

After a number of particularly painful experiences in my life I found my way back to the path and started practising again, and realized my error in thinking I had achieved unbinding. After increasing my knowledge of the stages of the path I realized that it was likely stream entry that I experienced, and that i'd been wandering off in the weeds for the last decade instead of walking the path.
It could also be "just" the Arising & Passing Away.


Lars:

I recently learned how to practise vipassana and samadhi at a higher level than before, and started making good progress again.
Could you tell us more about it? What techniques are you using? What is your typical sit like? How long do you sit for?


Lars:

I was happy, and the remaining hindrances began falling away. I stopped smoking pot, lost all interest in sex, stopped playing video games (I was formerly a game designer lol), let go of ill will etc etc. Great, right?
Not sure it is necessarily great to lose all interest in sex, for example. Why would you say that? Is it something you like? Also be careful of losing interest in too much stuff, it could be a bad sign. What's wrong with being a game designer and playing videogames? Don't rush it.



Lars:

Unfortunately i've hit a wall and i'm not sure what to do. My noticing practise is stronger than ever, and i'm currently meditating pretty much all day every day. However i'm experiencing pain that is making it very difficult to do samhadi, or even sleep. I can do vipassana but we're supposed to balance insight with tranquility and I currently feel totally unbalanced since I can't sleep much or do tranquility meditation for any length of time. I have pains in my head and neck which don't go away no matter how much I note them.
See the questions above on technique specifics, how long you sit for, and so on.

Also: Do you exercise? I need yoga and pull-ups for my shoulders and neck, or they hurt, irrespectively of my meditation.


Lars:

Have I totally misunderstood my place on the path? I'm willing to accept the possibility that i've overestimated my progress, but when I review the progress on the path information, it feels as if I am currently at "Knowledge of Re-observation". I don't say this to humblebrag or anything like that, I just genuinely want to keep progressing, so i'm confused as to how I should proceed. How do I either stop or let go of this pain? It's not even so much the pain that I mind, it's the fact that it's interfering with my ability to sleep and practise. Any help would be appreciated.
I/we would need more info on your practice to give tailored advice. But my main tip is: Quality of life, like sleep, is more important than practice, for the simple fact that without a good quality of life it will be hard to progress on the path.

So for example if meditating fewer hours makes you sleep better which leads to better sits *and* better quality of life -> win/win. Quality over quantity. Sustainability of practice over speed of progress (aka craving).

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 7:54 AM as a reply to neko.
It could also be "just" the Arising & Passing Away.

I considered that, but everything i've read about stream entry accords with my experience, and the normal world "stopped" during that experience. It was only after I "came back" that I realized the lack of self and experienced the bliss etc. It was totally unexpected and did not occur during meditation, but during reading of the sutras, which caused my normal mind to just stop dead in its tracks. Essentially when my logical mind stopped I saw intuitively that the reason I couldn't find my buddha nature was that I previously "couldn't see the forest for the trees". At that moment my awareness exploded outwards and I "saw the forest". It was the most powerful and life changing experience i've ever had, and i've had some pretty intense experiences otherwise. A&P doesn't sound nearly as intense or significant as what I experienced, but sounds more like some of the earlier experiences in my youth (including mushroom and acid trips where I temporarily lost ego identity etc). That said, it's possible i'm mistaken even if every fibre of my being says otherwise. Humans have a great capacity for delusion.

Essentially this experience answered the koan "What was your original face before your parents were born".

Could you tell us more about it? What techniques are you using? What is your typical sit like? How long do you sit for?


I've been doing a combination of walking vipassana (noting steps), and sitting with eyes open/closed while noting all mental and physical events. I also do tranquility meditation by sitting/lying while focusing on the breath, and then easing off on the directed attention once my breathing becomes calm and I begin to feel pleasure in the body. I generally just alternate between them, I walk for 30 minutes or so, then sitting vipassana for an hour or so, then walk again. When I get home I do samadhi, do some reading etc. When i'm so tired that even that is difficult I go to sleep. When I need to sleep I watch my breath as I lie in bed until I fall asleep, and resume noting when I awake. I'm unemployed recently (though financially stable) so I have plenty of time to practise as I like and keep whatever schedule works for me. I'll admit that out of all the meditation techniques, tranquility is the one I need the most practise with. I find it difficult to stick with it for more than half an hour or so since this pain started getting bad. Hard to be sensitive to pleasure when you're feeling constant pain, though it's easy enough to note the pain in vipassana.  emoticon

Not sure it is necessarily great to lose all interest in sex, for example. Why would you say that? Is it something you like? Also be careful of losing interest in too much stuff, it could be a bad sign. What's wrong with being a game designer and playing videogames? Don't rush it.

I lost interest in those things after seeing their downsides for myself, not from being told to. I actually used the advice of Thanissaro Bhikku and experimented with my "sins" for a while, which is what led to it (and was kind of fun haha). When I smoked pot I noticed that it increased all my desires, including sex, appetite for food, violence/ill will ( killing people in video games) etc. When I then experimented with stopping smoking I found that those desires very abruptly stopped or decreased on their own. Essentially I was able to see how the different desires reinforce each other like links in a chain, and how by removing the first link in the chain the successive links fall away too. I saw clearly how riled up my mind got when I engaged in them, so I lost my passion for them. I don't feel like i'm depriving myself, I just don't have a desire for it anymore. Essentially I began to see them as unprofitable.

Also: Do you exercise? I need yoga and pull-ups for my shoulders and neck, or they hurt, irrespectively of my meditation.

I used to exercise much more than I do now (mostly walking now), but again I saw that exercising to excess increases mental and physical fabrications, and much like smoking pot it led to other desires (it increases hunger, and ego when noticing muscle gains etc). I did a little weight lifting earlier today to help with the shoulder pain, and it did help somewhat. I just don't do it for ego gratification anymore.

I/we would need more info on your practice to give tailored advice. But my main tip is: Quality of life, like sleep, is more important than practice, for the simple fact that without a good quality of life it will be hard to progress on the path.


I can appreciate that, which is the reason i'm posting here. Progress is good, but being able to sleep is also good.

Essentially my resolve has been very strong lately and i'm losing attachment to most of my previous "unprofitable" behaviours. After years of being caught up with desires for sex and drugs & rock and roll (lol) it's nice to feel some freedom from all that.

I'm not trying to become some perfect being overnight, it's simply developing the virtue aspect of the path after seeing the benefits of it for myself. The concentration and insight aspects seem to follow naturally when I work on the virtue aspect. I can't argue with the results, i'm more calm than ever and have been able to improve my relationships with family members who I had issues with before. I'm also seeing the world much more as it is versus the rose or crap tinted glasses I alternated between previously. It's entirely possible i'm trying too hard, i'll keep that in mind.

The only problem currently is the pain. It's possible it's just a physical issue and not a spiritual one lol. I'll try doing more exercise when I feel pain, and pull back a little so I don't burn myself out.

Thanks for the feedback. If you have any other advice, don't hesitate.  emoticon

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 12:03 PM as a reply to Lars.
Mind blowing incredible life changing experiences are A&P. Stream entry isn't an experience and it isn't amazing. "Every fibre of your being" probably says otherwise because thats what you're thinking and have convinced yourself of (sounds like a belief, because someone can be stream enterer without knowing it, there is no reason for a stream enterer to believe they are a stream enterer. but people who feel things with "their whole being" usually do so because of their thoughts, their beliefs). It doesn't matter either way in terms of your question though.

What is it about the pain that is stopping your progress? What would progress look like to you? Would the pain disappearing be a sign of progress, if so why? What is the issue exactly - that you experience a pain you want help relieving, or that you want to find the best way to continue your insight progress - and if you think these two things are related, why is that?

Also what exactly does the pain feel like? Where does it arise, how long does it stay, whats its shape, texture, can you witness each particle of sensation arise and disappear in real time, all the time?

As for the pain relief - have you tried working with it with very gentle movement exercises, rotating the head, neck, gentle breathing, careful posture, etc?

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 12:43 PM as a reply to Lars.
One of the most beneficial practices after stream entry, for me, was "surrender". That is: letting go of what happened, what it means, what to do next, etc. etc., and keeping your everyday practice maintained with diligence. Keep sitting. Do a retreat. Take your empty mind with you too - drive with it, work in the yard with it, order pizza with it.

Also, work on being present in this moment. When you feel tension in your body or mind, find that spot in meditation, whether sitting, or out in the world, and put your attention on it with the intention to release it. Relax you muscles or tension in your body any time you think of it.

Remember, progress considers grasping a joykill. Think of it like a new relationship you really cherish - you need to let that "person" and the balance of your relationship find itself. Let go of your expectations about what stream entry, or enlightenment mean. Let things be as they are. Let go of your contrived mind.

If there was Stream Entry, there will be progress. If there is deepening, you'll know when it happens. If there hasn't been stream entry, this is still the best course of action if you are on this path.

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 2:31 PM as a reply to Andrew K.
Andrew K:
Mind blowing incredible life changing experiences are A&P. Stream entry isn't an experience and it isn't amazing. "Every fibre of your being" probably says otherwise because thats what you're thinking and have convinced yourself of (sounds like a belief, because someone can be stream enterer without knowing it, there is no reason for a stream enterer to believe they are a stream enterer. but people who feel things with "their whole being" usually do so because of their thoughts, their beliefs). It doesn't matter either way in terms of your question though.


Not sure what to say in reply to that, it seems to contradict things i've read elsewhere, though that could be just my ego trying to defend itself.

Andrew K:
What is it about the pain that is stopping your progress? What would progress look like to you? Would the pain disappearing be a sign of progress, if so why? What is the issue exactly - that you experience a pain you want help relieving, or that you want to find the best way to continue your insight progress - and if you think these two things are related, why is that?


The problem isn't so much the pain, it's the fact that it's strong enough that it interferes with sleeping and specifically tranquility meditation. Minor pains and aches, itching etc don't bother me anymore while meditating. I note them and they go away, if anything they simply show how they're impermanent etc. They're just a constant stream of events like thinking and hearing etc. This pain was strong enough that even when noting that, it remained. Progress for me at this point is just to keep going, placing one foot in front of the other. I understand that being attached to results or preconceptions is not the path (including my previous experience), so I simply do my best to experience the current moment impartially, and simply note what occurs. I don't beleive that pain will somehow permanently end if "I do things right", I just need to learn how to properly let go of my clinging to it so it's not a distraction.

Andrew K:
Also what exactly does the pain feel like? Where does it arise, how long does it stay, whats its shape, texture, can you witness each particle of sensation arise and disappear in real time, all the time?


I did some more reading on this site after my post and found someone recommending to note in much more detail the pain in situations like this, so i'm doing that and it does appear to be decreasing, though it's not gone. The difficuly with this pain in particular is that it was very strong and seemed to not end or "pulse" like the more minor pains i've experienced. There were no gaps I could discern, but I think I was noting it too quickly and without really penetrating it and putting the magnifying glass on it. It was strong enough I suspect I was actually avoiding it while noting it, instead of really looking at it. For now i'll simply put more effort into seeing the characteristics of it in more detail.

Andrew K:
As for the pain relief - have you tried working with it with very gentle movement exercises, rotating the head, neck, gentle breathing, careful posture, etc?


Yes, I tried pretty much everything I could think of, which is why I finally posted here. When I rotate my shoulder there's a sharp "click" in the spot that's pained, and I can feel where the pain radiates outward from that spot up to my neck and head. I might simply have an injury versus a "ghost pain". I've had this type of pain in that spot before, but the intensity is something new that occurred when I began practising more seriously.

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 3:21 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:
One of the most beneficial practices after stream entry, for me, was "surrender". That is: letting go of what happened, what it means, what to do next, etc. etc., and keeping your everyday practice maintained with diligence. Keep sitting. Do a retreat. Take your empty mind with you too - drive with it, work in the yard with it, order pizza with it.


I've basically being doing just that. I recognize how my preconceptions were exactly what made that experience so confusing, or more to the point the fact that it "ended" was so confusing. I've since dropped as much of my preconceptions as i'm able, and I simply note what's occuring in the endless now. In particular I recently began letting go of the tendency to fill the gaps in our lives with distractions instead of just experiencing the gap fully. Instead of breaking off to play video games if I feel bored or distracted, I note the distraction and continue sitting or walking. I allow myself to be bored or distracted instead of hurrying to fill that gap with something.

At one point recently when I realized how much I was carrying around with me I let it go, and it felt like putting down a mountain after carrying it on my shoulders for years. I felt so much lighter and more free, which is one of the reasons I started practising more intently. As I see the benefit of the practise my resolve grows stronger, however I think I went too far and got out of balance again. It requires such a light touch lol.

Stirling Campbell:
Also, work on being present in this moment. When you feel tension in your body or mind, find that spot in meditation, whether sitting, or out in the world, and put your attention on it with the intention to release it. Relax you muscles or tension in your body any time you think of it.


This has been occurring to some degree on its own. When i'm meditating or even sitting reading a sutra I often feel the muscles in my body suddenly loosen in a way they didn't previously. For the last few years my body was often very tense, now it seems to be relaxing bit by bit, either by my noticing tenseness, or sometimes I don't notice the tension until it suddenly drops "on its own".

Stirling Campbell:
Remember, progress considers grasping a joykill. Think of it like a new relationship you really cherish - you need to let that "person" and the balance of your relationship find itself. Let go of your expectations about what stream entry, or enlightenment mean. Let things be as they are. Let go of your contrived mind.

If there was Stream Entry, there will be progress. If there is deepening, you'll know when it happens. If there hasn't been stream entry, this is still the best course of action if you are on this path.


Thanks, this was very helpful. I'm able to let go of grasping the more obvious hindrances to a reasonable degree, so i'm working on ferreting out the more subtle aspects of my clinging, including to the path itself or my feelings about that experience. However I don't want to repeat my prior mistake of tossing the raft before actually making it to the other shore. That just resulted in drowning for a few years lol. I just need to keep practising and putting one foot in front of the other without getting too attached to the process, or expecting to find "solid ground".

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 3:53 PM as a reply to Lars.
Paweł K:
your awareness of everything is like small tape that runs in endless loop
experience of something eg. experience of hand when you extended it before you, takes some length in this tape
if you replaced part of this tape that have this experience of hand on it with somethign else right when your mind's play head is on something entirely else then you would not even 'touch' experience of hand but moment later it would be whatever you replaced it with and previous experience would be like it never existed


Interesting analogy. I have noticed recently that even though events happen very quickly and continuously, I can only experience them one at a time. Is this what you're getting at?

Paweł K:
I would suggest not even replace pain that you have when sitting all day long but take whatever you feel is wrong with you that compells you to waste your life on sitting in the first place and replace it with something pleasant eg. experience of eating ice cream or something

might as well work... ^_^


Lol i'd love to hear what the Buddha would say about that advice. "Don't waste your time sitting, eat ice cream." ;)

There's nothing wrong with me or anyone else, really. However chasing after pleasant sensation didn't really do me any favours previously, which is why i'm focused on practise now instead. I'm actually enjoying it, shoulder pains aside.

The main bit of feedback I seem to be getting here though is that i'm taking it too seriously and clinging too tightly to my concepts of what the path/goal is or isn't. Trying too hard to let go instead of just letting go, essentially. Close?

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 4:44 PM as a reply to Lars.
What do I know, I could be wrong too! I don't know anything

Have you considered checking in with a doctor/physiotherapist of some type?

Maybe there's something here that could help?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BldDclolLCg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weE4WO48_UU

Hope it all works out for you

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/20/17 9:38 PM as a reply to Andrew K.
Andrew K:
What do I know, I could be wrong too! I don't know anything

Have you considered checking in with a doctor/physiotherapist of some type?

Maybe there's something here that could help?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BldDclolLCg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weE4WO48_UU

Hope it all works out for you

I don't mean to argue or be defensive, just trying to understand this particular bump in the road a little better.

I actually do have one more question though regarding vipassana. When i'm doing it while sitting, I try to note as many events as possible. When there's a gap, I simply note the breath (falling, rising) instead. However i've noticed that when i'm noting quickly and including the breath, for example:

Hearing, feeling, rising, hearing, falling, hearing, rising etc

When i'm doing this it sometimes causes the breath to change, as if noting is interfering with the breath. Many teachers warn against forcing the breath since it can cause headaches and pain/stiffness. Is it possible that my method of noting is causing this issue to be worse? Perhaps I should simply note hearing, feeling etc without reverting to breath so quickly so that I don't interfere with breathing?

Thanks again for your feedback, the second video was very interesting. By focusing on the secondary aspects of the pain (the outward radiating of it versus the primary site) I was able to accept the pain in a way that was difficult with the primary aspect. Even more interesting when focusing on the secondary aspects of it, the primary pain began begun having gaps in it instead of the prior sensation of being constant. Very useful technique. The pain is now gone with a little residual stiffness that also seems to be fading. It may come back, but at least now I have a better idea how to investigate it. emoticon

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/21/17 3:10 AM as a reply to Lars.
Paweł K:
specifically my advice was not to eat ice cream but experience ice cream taste, pleasant coldness, etc. It is one thing to chase pleasant sensations and other entirely wjem you make pain/unplesantness to be pleasant


Thanks, I was going to make another post asking you to clarify this. It sounds similar to an experience I had the other day while sitting on the toilet. I was noting as usual, and "smelling" occurred lol. However when I didn't try to apply the usual labels of bad to it and simply noted it, I noticed a sweet aspect to it. It ceased to be disgusting, and was in a way pleasant even as I laughed at that perception. Of course, I was still labelling it at some level by doing so, but it was interesting.

Paweł K:
BTW. Buddha did not need to buld rafts to cross river, he just disappeared on this side and reappeared on the other. It was dropping notion of building anything that got him the enlightenment he called enlightenment.... and what do you exactly try to do with your practice again? ^_^


I do recall reading him conversing with a nun who asked how he crossed, and he said something along the lines of "I moved without moving". Sounds preferable to my drowning method.

Paweł K:
at the very least you should change how you sit or whatever to not cause needless physical pain as some official sitting positions are bullshit and practice is much more than what is called 'meditation' which imho it is called that incorrectly as someone can 'meditate' like few months straight on retreat and in reality not do even one hour of meditation and other might watch TV or sit at work doing his/her work and od more actual meditation. I would adhere to have more open mind and rather try to see what your mind is made out of and how it all work. I doubt Buddha would disagree


I have an injury and a surgical scar which makes the usual lotus type positions painful and even possibly unhealthy for me. So i've been trying lying positions, or sitting on the edge of my bed etc. I agree the posture isn't so much important as the mindfulness itself. As someone else in the thread mentioned, quality over quantity.

I really appreciate the help, i'm realizing that I have probably made the same mistake I made previously when I thought i'd achieved unbinding 15 years ago. This time I made the same error in assuming stream entry instead. It's possible it was, it's possible it wasn't. I'm trying not to attach myself anymore to either possibility and just continue the practise. I apologize if I was defensive previously, this is basically the first time i've sought any help from an actual teacher, versus reading the sutras and commentaries and practising on my own.

I do wonder about something else though, most of the classic teachers including Gotama often said "practise diligently, death may come at any time". Any advice on finding a good balance between not doing enough, and doing too much? I mostly took a break today and only did reading, minimal noting (with the exception of that guided meditation concerning habitual pains) and no tranquility meditation.

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/21/17 4:55 PM as a reply to Lars.
Paweł K:
you can do pretty much everything in many ways and one can even be indulging in eg. sensual pleasures and still do it perfectly skillfully. Just as one can meditate and seemingly not break percepts and do it totally not skillfully at all. To properly understand this one need to make proper model of own mind and body, proper model of reality. With bad models you might be compelled to do unskillful things because in those models they are seen as the way to go


Thanks for this btw, I did an experiment in doing something unskillfull skillfully and got some interesting results. When I noted the experience incorrectly nothing much happened, but when I tried the advice of stretching the noting word over the duration of the experience (so you can clearly see beginning, middle and end) something odd happened. And while I was noting that something odd happened something else happened lol.

My previous noting appeared to have been correct at some times, but often much like "reading the sutras by word repetition only".

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/22/17 12:22 AM as a reply to Lars.
Paweł K:
Gotama often said "practise diligently, death may come at any time"

you do realize this can be understood in at least two very different ways? do you?

all I am saing is to be clever about the whole thing, not brute force it


Both bodily death, death of the concept of self, and fully realizing the deathless (death of fabrications)? I'm pulling back on the "force" and just letting it unfold as best I can. I recognize I wasn't in the middle before, I was going from one extreme to the other. And yes, I was building.

Just had an odd experience of seeing through the "doer" (and knower etc). It was amusing realizing that the one seeking the deathless and noting isn't really me (even though I thought I already knew that), and the one knowing fact that is the same. It's funny how subtle our concepts of self can be, and how we can attach to one type of thought even when knowing not to do so with another. And of course, there are still layers of that onion that i've missed. The mind and body are looking more and more like a machine though, with inputs and outputs and functions, but no operator.

Update: I'm getting these wierd shocks and jolts of what I assume is piti. One was strong enough it was like a bolt of electricity arcing between my arms. It's not constant, and it's mingled with muscles twitching and a feeling of lightness. There's also a bit of that feeling you get when you notice a spider crawling across your skin. It's pleasant and odd at the same time. This is happening with eyes open while sitting in front of my computer, not during meditation. I'm trying not to get swayed by it, but it's interesting. It's getting stronger, how should I use this? Or just note it and let it go?

Update 2: It has largely passed with a mild residual warmth and pleasure remaining. The jolts tapered off and then stopped.

I'm curious, should I continue to ask for your advice here or is there a more appropriate way of doing this?

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/22/17 2:34 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
This has been occurring to some degree on its own. When i'm meditating or even sitting reading a sutra I often feel the muscles in my body suddenly loosen in a way they didn't previously. For the last few years my body was often very tense, now it seems to be relaxing bit by bit, either by my noticing tenseness, or sometimes I don't notice the tension until it suddenly drops "on its own".

That can be taken further. There's a practice of sorts where what I try to do is simply sit down and not do anything whatsoever, just learn to feel comfortable in my own skin, learning to simply be without any need to control or cause anything to happen. Stopping trying altogether. It's a really profound practice and it seems to lead the relaxation of various muscles, for instance, in my case, in the forehead region (some tension that seems to push the eyebrows down a bit appears to loosen), the nasalis (it feels like my nose opens up totally), in the hip area, the temporal muscle (which, for me, seems to be a culprit with tension headaches every so often), and it also seems to lead to my upper back straightening all the way without any conscious aid in doing so (whereas typically my back is hunched forward a bit and I have to be highly aware of how my back is so that it can be kept straight). I have no idea whether this could help with any of the pain you feel, but it's a great line of practice either way, it appears to have a lot of benefit for your body. I have very little knowledge about Buddhist literature or meditative practices in general, although Daniel M. Ingram seems to talk about something akin to this near the bottom of this article: http://integrateddaniel.info/my-experiments-in-actualism/ (it's the point #5 in the area where he details the instructions for his practices). Anyway, hope you have a great time, enjoy your practices. 

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/22/17 5:00 PM as a reply to Lasse.
Lasse:

That can be taken further. There's a practice of sorts where what I try to do is simply sit down and not do anything whatsoever, just learn to feel comfortable in my own skin, learning to simply be without any need to control or cause anything to happen. Stopping trying altogether. It's a really profound practice and it seems to lead the relaxation of various muscles, for instance, in my case, in the forehead region (some tension that seems to push the eyebrows down a bit appears to loosen), the nasalis (it feels like my nose opens up totally), in the hip area, the temporal muscle (which, for me, seems to be a culprit with tension headaches every so often), and it also seems to lead to my upper back straightening all the way without any conscious aid in doing so (whereas typically my back is hunched forward a bit and I have to be highly aware of how my back is so that it can be kept straight). I have no idea whether this could help with any of the pain you feel, but it's a great line of practice either way, it appears to have a lot of benefit for your body. I have very little knowledge about Buddhist literature or meditative practices in general, although Daniel M. Ingram seems to talk about something akin to this near the bottom of this article: http://integrateddaniel.info/my-experiments-in-actualism/ (it's the point #5 in the area where he details the instructions for his practices). Anyway, hope you have a great time, enjoy your practices. 

Thanks, I was doing this for a little bit and it helped, but I just found something better lol. After having the odd piti experience last night, today i'm able to "produce" it, and it makes my body feel blissful. Ironically enough i'm able to sort of squeeze it out from very close to where the pain was before. I wonder if that's why that area was feeling so tense and painful before. Now I feel pleasure there when I do it, though it doesn't reach my whole body yet, just through my neck, head, arms, hands and chest. Beats advil.

I feel like a kid playing with a new toy I don't know how to control. When I stopped doing it, now i'm getting zaps of it randomly and fairly strongly lol. Apparently I don't actually know how to turn it off, not that I really want to.

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/22/17 5:53 PM as a reply to Lars.
Have little knowledge about those kinds of effects but they sound really cool, hope it all works out for the best.

RE: Difficulty in practise due to pain
Answer
7/23/17 2:19 PM as a reply to Lasse.
Lasse:
Have little knowledge about those kinds of effects but they sound really cool, hope it all works out for the best.

Thanks, until a few days ago i'd rarely felt this and I wasn't really seeking it when it finally happened again. It's not all roses though, it just brought more stuff to work through and cling to lol. Still, one more tool in the toolbelt, and something else to investigate. I hope your practise works out as well.  emoticon

This thread has served its purpose, I got the answers I needed and it's just devolving into yet another story which doesn't really benefit myself or anyone else. Thanks everyone for your feedback and advice, it was quite helpful.