meditation limbo

Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

meditation limbo

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Practical Dharma

I’m in a bit of a meditation limbo these days and was wondering if anyone had any advice.

I sit for an hour in the morning. Generally, it goes like this: I settle by watching “the breath”, treating it like a constant thing. Usually I settle quickly, but after 10-15 minutes I start drifting a little around, after which I use the energy from “coming back to the present” to refocus on the breathing. Then after reaching a plateau in settling, I follow the breath more as a series of sensations for about twenty or thirty minutes. Then I open it up and allow noting to go where it will. Through out this there is a feeling of deepening, concentrating, and stability... until recently.

These days, the quality of meditation is much more variable. I’m finding myself day dreaming a lot more. Similar to being on a long interstate roadtrip. I’m paying attention, but I’m daydreaming, too. The field of attention is wide but non-distinct. The feeling of the meditation is very light, mostly neutral sensations. And rather than feeling a deepening or concentrating. As an overlay, if I’m not fully participating in the meditation, there is a slight and fairly consistent feeling of annoyance or frustration to it. The location of the negative feeling is unclear to me. Sometimes it is a “holding” of some body tension as “mine”. But more frequently, I “look” for it in order to “see” it, but it seems to disappear before I find it.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
I’ve tried aggressive noting on any flickering sensations and really diving into them. I can keep that up for about fifteen minutes or so before it starts feeling very contrived. My bias is to “stop banging my head against the wall” at this point.

Since fast noting doesn’t seem to fit well, I’ve also tried just noting what happens in an “accepting of every thing that arises” way, which usually promotes more of the daydreamy flavor of meditation. Taking my time and slowly noting did seem to develop some sense of deepening. But the results are very inconsistent. Most of the time it feels like I’m wasting my time, although one time in particular, it felt like something vaguely precious yet not me was melting away, leaving me feeling vaguely confused, slightly afraid, and slightly exhilarated.

My biggest question is if I’m just being lazy by not going with either the aggressive noting or the aggressive concentration path. Absent this website, I would probably just keep trying things out with versions of aggressive, passive, playing around noting. But I feel like I could find myself getting sidetracked for a long time with that approach. Since I don’t have a teacher, I’m very curious if a situation like this is mostly nonsense, or if there is some guidance that would apply and minimize my getting sidetracked.

Any suggestions?
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Beta,

Regarding the "hitting a wall" - there is some really good advice in this thread (after the first post):

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/1450785/Meditating+on+Dukkha

I hope you find something useful in there.

Cheers,
Florian
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Such "limbo" periods are also known as plateau, and are typically the best place to really learn honing your attention and fine-tuning your sensibility to restlessness and torpor once you've passed the more gross obstacles of avoidance and impatience. Maintain posture and use it to anchor and uplift your awareness. Stay with the method, while exercising clear intention/decision at the beginning of each session, and at the end review the session to see how it went.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi betawave,
your experiences seem quite familiar to me. I have holidays for 7 weeks now and have been focusing on using this time to make progress. What helped me most during phases like yours was to increase my concentration skills and paying intention to hold the level during vipassana.
As to the daydreaming thing I found for myself that there´s usually some kind of intention ( a quite subtle one though) and/or tension/ distracting sensation inducing a stream of thoughts that gradually grows until you´re lost. I found it very helpful to become more aware of these indicators as this helped me to get rid of this during sits and distracting thoughts in general. This really helps concentration to develop and it´s a funny thing to watch arise and pass during vipassana.
I try to ignore all the unpleasant sensations until I settled into the right concentration. When this is done it´s quite easy to observe the three characteristics of them.
I hope you can find something that helps you.
Best wishes,
Martin
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Though, I think it was covered a bit by Hokai's response, I wanted to add a small bit to this point of being in "limbo" or being "sidetracked". Many stages of the practice, may from a subjective vantage point, feel like a sidetrack. What the maps tell us though, and what becomes clear if you cycle enough through this territory, is that the difficult and unclear phases of practice are often signs of progress. With that in mind, it can become a little easier not to make up too many stories of what a bad meditator you are, how lost you are, etc. Instead, it can be encouraging.

Sounds to me like you're on the right track though. emoticon
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
betawave - thanks for posting this. I have been experiencing qualities quite similar to these recently, after what I understand to be a pretty intense A&P event. It's one thing to read about the plateaus we may experience, but it's another thing to connect with people who are going through the same stuff. I wish you the best of luck, and encourage you to push through.

Vince - thank you for the reminder that hard times in the practice may actually be a sign of progress. I'm encouraged.
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RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Dan_K

I have noticed that daydreaming often happens when noting practice becomes repetitive. In my experience this can be the effect of a more subtle layer of sensations being solidified and identified with as a ‘lens’ through which the breath is watched. If this is the case the solution is to allow a wider focus and ‘step back’ from the absorbsion.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Thanks everyone!I feel a little silly, because once I articulated all of that... it became easier to note the pieces as experiences. Sort of a duh! or doh! realization.

Thanks Hokai, attention to posture is also helping me stay "active". Several people gave ideas on how to catching this earlier...I'll be taking some time to test these out... so for now, thanks very much! emoticon
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
I was checking out some of the links on the "Websites of Value" page and came across this passage on Jack Kornfield's site:

"A misuse of space can easily lead us to become spaced-out and unfocused. A misuse of absorption can lead to denial, the ignoring of other experiences, and a misuse of ordinary awareness can create a false sense of "self" as a witness. "
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: DharmaPutz

My friends, I have to tell you that I am unable to recollect or describe my experience that occurrred during sitting. For about 4-5 years I had a daily sitting practice and rarely missed a day. I have been to a handful of retreats from 3 to 10 days. Also, participated in our local sangha and when asked , taught basic meditation and Intro to Buddhism.( I always felt uncomfortable teaching since i don't believe I have reached any attainments Dan or others describe).
About 3 years ago I attended a Integral Institute ITP workshop trying to "jumpstart my practice" and then a year ago I started listening to Holsync on a daily basis which I think is helpful.
I want to do concentration meditation and Insight. but it seems that usually when I sit It is a struggle to stay on the breath or the belly. But there are moments when of settling into the breath. So, there it is.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: meditation limbo

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: DharmaPutz

Interestingly enough during the last several days after surrendering expectations about accomplishing any thing my sitting meditation as felt focused and energized.

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