fear of absorption, anxiety, adrenalin, training the puppy

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Martin Sokolski, modified 9 Years ago at 11/24/12 3:50 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/24/12 3:50 AM

fear of absorption, anxiety, adrenalin, training the puppy

Posts: 21 Join Date: 10/20/12 Recent Posts
NOTE: I'm reposting this as a new thread in this category (it was originally part of this post)

A lot of fear and anxiety is coming up when I sit.

I don't think I've ever experienced proper jhana, even though I've been meditating regularly for about 10 years. Certainly I've experienced jhana factors like piti and sukkha during meditation, but I've never been absorbed with the object of meditation anything beyond access concentration.

A couple of days ago a lot of fear came up as it seemed I was getting closer to letting go into the breath and absorption. Certainly my experience resonates with the following passage from Ajahn Brahm's book (p.24):
“...The more likely obstacle, though, is fear. Fear arises from the recognition of the sheer power and bliss of the jhana, or else at the recognition that to go fully inside the jhana something must be left behind -- you! The doer is silent before entering the jhana, but is still there. Inside the jhana, however, the doer is completely gone.”

The thing is that since that sit, my fear and anxiety outside of meditation have increased considerably, and I'm more restless, and have even more adrenalin than usual pumping around too. Every time I sit to meditate, the fear gets stronger. Today I just stopped meditating when it came up. Is this a common experience for people, especially control-freaks like myself who have problems letting go?

I'd be quite happy to just carry on despite the fear if knew it wasn't going to send me doolally. But my concern is that it will turn me into an anxious wreck!

Though it does seem to make sense to me that big fear would naturally make me think these fearful thoughts, and maybe the sensible thing to do is just to let go, relax into the breath and trust... let the fear come and just keep returning to the breath (trusting trusting trusting...), till it subsides. Even if it takes a few weeks, or more.

I'm not sure whether I should stop meditating for a while, or just go for it. Any thoughts? Thanks, Martin
Scott V, modified 9 Years ago at 11/24/12 11:14 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/24/12 11:14 AM

RE: fear of absorption, anxiety, adrenalin, training the puppy

Posts: 17 Join Date: 11/23/12 Recent Posts
You need to develop a degree of mindfulness of thoughts. Try to practice some insight meditations during your concentration meditations. Through this method, one can develop very hard Jhanas quickly.

Many people when doing concentration practices just disregard thoughts as they come up and go back to the object of meditation. While this will allow you to enter into absorption, it can still leave the possibilities for thoughts come up as you are simply ignoring them. The result of this is your thoughts that do come up can actually be fueled and intensified by the concentration, making it even harder to stay focused.

Though if you do concentration meditation while labeling and acknowledging thoughts and emotions as they arise, and then going back to the object of meditation, you will notice that your awareness of thoughts and emotions will increase, and they will begin to have no influence over your state of emotional feeling. The more you label your thoughts and emotions that pop up, the less frequently they will pop up. The result of this is, when you enter the Jhana, you will do so with a certain mindfulness where you can immediately stop any thoughts or emotions in their tracks by simply labeling them.

When you practice this labeling/insight method while doing concentration practices, you are in turn fueling(with concentration) your ability to notice thoughts that arise and increasing your ability to stop them in their tracks.

The key to mastery of the mind is to become aware of everything that comes up in the mind. Once a sufficient level of awareness is inherent in your natural functioning, then those aspects that you are aware of can come completely under your conscious control.

This is how people gain the ability to control autonomic and automatic functions of the body, such as heart rate, body temperature, emotional state, etc. Just as you cannot control your arm if you do not have a certain awareness about it. If a constant awareness can be had about anything in the body, then you can control it. This pretty much includes anything the body is capable of doing. If a person can gain a sufficient awareness of the electrical cellular activity of a wound, then that person can then consciously heal his/her wounds on command, as long as that awareness is available - the capability of spontaneously and rapid healing in a sense.

As far as thoughts are concerned.... If you can become aware of a thought as it is arising, or right when it arises, then you should be able to successfully stop it in it's tracks by labeling it and putting it in your conscious awareness for a brief moment. Then you simply let the thought go, it will fade away, and then you can go back to the concentration object. Some very annoying thoughts will often persist, but if the labeling method is continued in combination with the concentration, then frequency of arising thoughts will stop all together until they are no more. When thoughts seem to be no more, concentration will begin to settle into absorption that has no potential for a thought to arise. If enough time is spent in such a state, the body will eventually run out of energy, and thoughts may begin to arise again as the mental state weakens. At this point you can either go eat something, and don't meditate for 2 hours or so to allow digestion... or you can continue the process of strengthening the mindfulness of thoughts while increasing concentration.

This is a rare practice that I learned through my own experience. It is the simultaneous practice of Insight and Concentration and can provide very rapid results, along with some combined results that neither insight or concentration practice would produce on their own.
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Martin Sokolski, modified 9 Years ago at 11/26/12 8:05 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/26/12 8:05 AM

RE: fear of absorption, anxiety, adrenalin, training the puppy

Posts: 21 Join Date: 10/20/12 Recent Posts
Null & Void:
You need to develop a degree of mindfulness of thoughts. Try to practice some insight meditations during your concentration meditations. Through this method, one can develop very hard Jhanas quickly.
Thanks for your tips, but I'm trying to avoid any insight practice at the moment. I explain why in this here post.
Tom Tom, modified 9 Years ago at 11/29/12 3:45 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/29/12 2:36 PM

RE: fear of absorption, anxiety, adrenalin, training the puppy

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
I'd be quite happy to just carry on despite the fear if knew it wasn't going to send me doolally. But my concern is that it will turn me into an anxious wreck!


What worked for me (when I first started) was to stay on the object of meditation, but to let the breath and body be wild Meaning if the breath needs to be wild, let it be wild, if you need to sway back and forth for a while, then sway back and forth (while keeping the attention on the wild breath). I found that eventually the breath would settle down and then become shallow (perhaps after 30 minutes or longer of doing this) and then I would enter access concentration and then even jhana. This is what worked for me, but you'll have to experiment and see what works for you. If things get too bad off cushion, then make sure to take a break from sitting for a while and then come back to it and alter your technique to what is reducing hindrances and not increasing them. So what I mean is if the following are increasing for some time after a period of sitting then you're not doing it right. Proper samatha practice is about reducing these off cushion, not increasing them off cushion

sense desire
ill will
sloth and torpor
restlessness (fear is a form of restlessness, doubt, and "ill will")
doubt

So immediately after sitting these should be reduced (even if you started out sitting in a somewhat wild and anxious state, as I stated above). They should be reduced for some period of time afterward (ranging from minutes, hours, days), and then re-arise at some point afterwards. When they re-arise they should not be coming back stronger than when you sat down. If they are coming back stronger then you should alter your technique/sitting time accordingly.

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