Need some guidance around

Luke NoHead, modified 8 Months ago at 9/25/22 5:25 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 9/25/22 4:30 AM

Need some guidance around

Posts: 2 Join Date: 9/25/22 Recent Posts
Hello, my first post. Hopefully this is the correct location.

I have been practising for 3 months now. I have attempted meditation before, both on and off for a few years until I would invariably drift away, but my current sustained effort feels a lot more focused and much more fruitful then before. I feel I have much better information now and its making a marked difference. I try to do one hour a day, but also continue the practise off cushion, as  I go about my life.

I started off with breath focus , feeling the air caress my nostrils and my belly move up and down. I would then fall into thought or notice things around me like sounds, sensatiions of the body and then return to the breath. It was very peaceful and I got a lot out of this.

After reading Daniels book and listening to Shinzen Young, I have started using the Mahasi Sayadaw noting technique, but I am unsure about where I am right now...namely should I return to the breath and is the resulting experience this is giving me, 'too much too soon'.

I start off with the Arising and Passing of my breath as recommended by Sayadaw , but this can only be sustained for a small period as right away I become aware of so much going on via my active noting, that it's not possible to use the breath rising / passing as a point of concentration, unless I choose to ignore (for want of a better word) and home in on only the breath by keep returning to it (as I did before in my practise). I guess there is no pause for me to return from. I find labeling and noting becomes even a challenge to keep up, as noting becomes something based on microseconds of observation as there is so much going on.  I find I end up with this experience of my awareness of reality turns to a  flickering experience as my attention darts around at all that is happening. 

The best way I can explain the experience is like everything is passed through a noise gate at a fast rate (for those aware of audio engineering), kind of like some really techincal drum and bass track (for anyone wondering what I am talking about, like this, but without the aggressive tones - this eventually becomes a buzz and it feels like my eyes are flickering, even though they are closed. 

Do I need to slow things down somehow, if so how. Should I just return to breath focus until my mind is able to move at a more capable pace?

EDIT: ​​​​​​​I should add a bit about my intentions. I am not seeking some full transformation / no self realization (at least I don't believe I am). I would just prefer to not suffer and feel more equanmity with myself and the world. At least that's what I think I want emoticon I have to keep my shit together (partner , young children, many dependents on me), so I can't go through any large pschyological upheavals / dark nights.
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago at 9/25/22 5:55 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 9/25/22 5:48 AM

RE: Need some guidance around

Posts: 1965 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Honestly, if you are not on a quest for significant transformations... then less hardcore practices might be more appropriate. Conventional physical exercises combined with conventional relaxation exercises combined with self-help/therapy might be the best thing. It's much better to specifically tailor your practices to what you actually need rather than blindly meditating and hoping it makes the specifics your life better. 

Even though meditation is becoming mainstream, maybe it shouldn't be. The marketing is that "oh, you sit down and have an adult quiet time and it fixes all your tensions and anxiety..." but really the way it fixes it is by throwing you into the middle of a full experience of those tensions and anxiety. It can definitely be too much too soon for most people who aren't on a quest.

Meditation is like mountaineering in that sense. So easy to buy the gear and head out to the mountains. Then the first cravase opens up and the first avalanche rolls by and suddenly there's the realization --- shit, you could die on this mountain.

Here's the important thing: even though there is a subtle marketting otherwise, you do not need to climb mountain or meditate to have a good and rewarding life. Yes, many people who climb mountains or meditate love their life, but it doesn't mean you need to climb mountains or meditate to love _your_ life. 

If you want to keep experimenting with meditation, I highly advise establishing all your supports BEFORE getting into difficult territory. Find the more senior mediators that can give you advice, find the peer group that can give you support, find a teacher that you trust enough to listen to when you feel like you are losing your mind.

Thanks for the question, this topic doesn't get discussed enough. Hope this is helpful in some way.
Luke NoHead, modified 8 Months ago at 9/25/22 6:14 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 9/25/22 6:11 AM

RE: Need some guidance around

Posts: 2 Join Date: 9/25/22 Recent Posts
thanks shargol

Do you think I should tailor my noting practise? I don't want to stop sitting, as I am getting so much out of this. Simple insights are really helping me deal with rumination , worry, anger and over thinking. I love what I have found so far.

In regards to finding a teacher, I honestly have no idea where to start.

Regarding physical / mental health, I would say I am quite robust. My hobby is running grueling multi day ultra marathons (which is very much a mental game for me as well). I don't have any signifcant traumas, my childhood was very happy.
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago at 9/25/22 10:27 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 9/25/22 9:27 AM

RE: Need some guidance around

Posts: 1965 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Sounds like you're hooked. emoticon

It's really hard to advise, because I don't know of any way that "gives all the good stuff" and "doesn't have any of the difficult stuff". I mean, people advertise that as part of their school of meditation, but it rarely happens. We get people from all different schools and traditions showing up here reporting difficulties.

(In a way, the traditions that promise no problems are the worst because they're not prepared and are frequently in denial when problems show up in their students. In fact, many times there is a blaming the victim kind of thing that happens. "You must have done something wrong, you must not have followed instructions, you're not our problem, get out of here...")

It's also hard to dictate the pace of things. People can back off and yet progress can still happen! 

So it really is a tricky thing to provide advice (beyond what I've said). 

I'll say one thing more, though. This whole meditation thing is learning about our own mind and learning to become our own authority, so to speak. So when you start getting a hunch, "maybe I should slow down..." definitely do the test and try slowing down. It's only over time and trial and error that people learn how to moderate their practice. (Must be somewhat like long distance racing?)

It's sort of a paradox... in practice we are learning to trust ourselves while learning to weed out the confusion/delusions we have. So it's sort of like crossing a bridge while building it.