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Physical side-effects
Answer
3/2/08 10:01 AM
Forum: Practical Dharma

Aside from the advice to keep paying attention to sensations, does anyone have any input about all the unusual bodily phenomena that accompany the first and early second vipassana jhana?

While in a way these things are a tremendous boon because they literally make manifest the not-self, changing, and stressful nature of phenomenon, and even better, provide some really interesting, very hard-to-miss objects (e.g., the individual sensations that make up breath-of-fire like breathing), and do break up a lot of tension, they also suck. I have a strong suspicion that there are some yogic practices related to dealing with arm-flapping, violent shaking, excess heat, etc. On one or two occasions I've tried to hide in samatha jhana but found that can actually intensify the phenomena, even if one isn't being mindful.

Currently, the advice I got is to shift from sitting to standing practice to balance the concentration involved with energy, to walk briskly, and to eat plenty of food to "stay grounded". Does anybody have any thoughts?

RE: Physical side-effects
Answer
3/2/08 4:47 PM as a reply to Nathan I S.
Author: woman_alone

Hi Nathan,

I've been dealing with similar difficulties, but not as violent sounding as yours (mostly heavy physical "twisting", environmental shaking/wobbling, and lots of heat. What I've found to be the case in my own practice is that my pre-meditation state seems to have some bearing on the level of physical side effects during my meditation. In other words, if I can take fifteen or twenty minutes before entering meditation to put myself into a positive, peaceful, reflective state of mind, I find I experience less of the physical side effects during actual meditation. The only one that seems completely impervious to this warm-up technique is the feverishness. I also find that standing meditation relieves this to some extent, but if I'm already experiencing those manifestations then I'm as likely to fall-over in standing meditation, so I start there, but don't switch over.

Good luck!

RE: Physical side-effects
Answer
3/6/08 2:21 AM as a reply to Nathan I S.
Typically, I do prepare for every session, spending a few moments brightening the mind by practicing metta, or reflecting on my own good qualities and good fortune to have an opportunity to practice, etc.

In my experience standing does help, and I've found that intense physical exercise (e.g., like circuit training) curbs things significantly, though of course it also tends to be exhausting.

RE: Physical side-effects
Answer
3/6/08 4:23 AM as a reply to Nathan I S.
Author: woman_alone

Good point regarding physical exercise. I hadn't put it together before, but I do have a better meditation after a work-out. Let me know if you find anything else that helps, strategies are always useful.

Cheers!