RE: Meditation Hangovers

Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Hi y'all

I get a hangover from any meditation which results in the crazy stuff e.g. realisations, shifts or ruptures in consciousness, bright lights, visceral awareness of the chakras, prophetic dreams ect. I suppose I am "blessed" in that they happen all the time, all that is required is that I have to be conscious. Being in contact with others appears to speed it up as does any kind of practice, even the consumer friendly stuff. As I said, all this leads to hangovers just like when I drink too much. Needless to say I don't drink anymore, ditto sex, drugs or rock'n roll. Bummer.

Consequently my life is fairly constrained at the moment and has been for about six years. I have learned to cope though, I have a great job that i love and a cool crib full of the latest consumer electronics. But I don't have a life. More importantly I don't have a practice.

I have done long periods of practice in various traditions for about 20 years before I hit this particular wall. It is also fair to say that, for better or worse, I have always ended up going hard core. I have chatted to all kinds of teachers/priests/spiritual friends, most scratch their heads and change the subject. Some get threatened. I live in Ireland which is still, despite recent events, very Catholic. Catholics seem to have a rather unhealthy relationship with this kind of stuff so I've gone quiet of late.

So, is this standard A&P stuff? Do I go hard core again (empirical evidence suggests I should not)? Do I have some kind of free ride? Some (well, one) of my friends insists that this is the case.

Please help, or if you can't, just say nice things.


Regards

Whalebone
J Adam G, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Sounds like you're a dark night yogi who encounters A&P stuff rather often, which strengthens or reawakens the dark night stuff which is experienced as a hangover. The feeling of a "wall" is often related to Desire for Deliverance and Reobservation.

The cure is stream entry. Definitely possible for anyone, especially someone with so much experience as you. Yes, your experience suggests that you should quit meditating because it keeps bringing you suffering, but the experience of everyone who has stuck with the meditation methods until they broke through Reobservation and Equanimity into Path and Fruition has been that the hangover actually stays with you from your first A&P event until you attain the path. It's just that without meditation, it seems less strong -- but it's there in the background, keeping your life from being as awesome as it could be. So, go ahead and do some real hardcore vipassana with the attitude that absolutely no sensation or thought can arise that will stop you from following good meditation instructions and advice.
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for getting back to me, is very generous of you to take an interest. But inevitably I have some questions. I'm not a great scholar I'm afraid.

You suggest that I am experiencing dark night stuff and that this is some how resonating with my personal store of crap and re-manifesting. And that that this is just a fact of life until I get stream entry and the only way for that to happen is to meditate more? Okay, ask a stupid question, life is the problem, meditation is the cure. I get that. But there is skillful meditation and unskillful right? You suggest that I should bash on with Vipassana. I've tried a few systems and knowingly or unknowingly I've always ended up drifting back to vipassana because A) it gets results right now. emoticon I just seem to be wired that way.

I do yoga asanas and end up resting in the stretch and its "story". I do ti-chi and end up observing the pulses of energy up and down my spinal column. I do concentration practice and end up resting in the pain in my back or my knee until it disolves or migrates or whatever. Daniel Ingram seems to be constantly stressing the importance of noticing the impermanence of phenomena in our practice, that's vipassana right? Sometimes it feels that I do little else, sitting or not. And i'm okay with that, its actualy quite nice that stuff is always changing. Its quite nice that I am always changing for that matter. Change can be fun.

But I feel as if this way of being invites some level of insight weather I want it or not, and lets be honest here, I really do, who wouldn't eh? But there is that damn price that I have to pay, the hang over. And its so mechanistic, like after every release or rupture some evil dwarf injects me with a Mickey Finn. And these hang overs are'nt trivial things. I'm talking full on, gut churning migrane head ache stuff. Then, just like a hang over it stops and I'm okay again. There is none of the self doubt, confusion or closed loop paranoia, that we normally associate with dark night experiences. I've been there more times than I care to recall, and it really isn't that, its just physical pain, like I've been poisoned.

So when you say, "just do more vipassana", I think "I'm getting plenty of vipassana, thank you"

What I need is a new way.

Any Ideas?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Yeah, side effects.

Lots of discussion and opinions on how best to avoid them.

I'll give you a rough summary of things you are likely to find here:

1) Get the dose of vipassana higher, on retreat, with really good teachers who can guide you to Equanimity and Stream Entry.
2) Bruno Loff I suspect would recommend Advanced Yoga Practices, though he might chime in with his specifics or modifications of this generic advice, as they basically claim that you can get the bliss energy of the microcosmic orbit going and then keep that up through the thing, if I understand things correctly.
3) AF advocates might recommend remembering a PCE and trying to get back to that: another long discussion could follow to explain what all that means, though if you look around you will find it here somewhere.

What will specifically be the best advice for you may depend on a number of factors, but I am interested in these:

Do you have time, and if so, how much, as well as the other resources that would allow retreats of some duration, say 3-4 weeks or thereabouts?
Do you have any inclination do so something like that and if so, how much?
Have you tried getting in contact with someone who help you figure out how to at least crack stream entry, assuming that you haven't, which I haven't actually asked enough stuff to determine, but regardless, if you are still feeling the pain, there is more to gain (or lose, depending on your point of view) somewhere.

Thoughts?

Daniel
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Hello Daniel,

Thank you for your time, I'm sure you are a very busy man.

In answer to your questions:

1. Yes I am interested in long retreats, my work is very open to these requests. 3 to 4 weeks would not be a problem. A co worker went off and did a nine month Tibetan retreat no so long ago and was given leave to do so. Management was fully aware of the reason for the time off. I am fortunate in this regard.

But no I would not consider doing so in the foreseeable future for a very good reason.

Side effects; you are going to hate me for this, but this is a live issue so please bear with me. I will try to be brief.

I know that ultimately, side effects are just dancing lights and should not distract you from the the close attention to the detail of your regular practice. If you do so, the answer for your pain/weirdness will resolve itself within the practice. And so you move on to the next.

For many years I was chugging away with my hour or two per day of Hindu Vedanta, very disciplined, very focused. About 8 years ago I discovered Theravada on a 10 day SN Goenka retreat. Very challenging, very opening. I fell in love with that practice and dropped everything else to a support/maintenance level.

But really this was were the trouble started. During this retreat I had any number of very strange things happen. One example:

Scanning the body, find some pain, move on, dragged back to the pain, stay a while, move on. Pain gets worse, get dragged back. And so on. Eventually trying to not notice the pain is knocking you off your center. So you think, okay, I have no choice, I will try to rest in the experience of the pain. At least that way I can keep going. But, surprise, surprise, pain changes too. Not only that, if you relax into it, it dissolves in front of your "eyes" and releases a big dollop of energy, which flashes up your spinal column out out the top of your head. In my case this started a chain reaction that ended up with me feeling that my whole body was on fire, a glorious cleansing fire. For the rest of the retreat it was the same story, day in, day out. Eventually it resolved in to uncontrollable sobbing for hours on end. I now know that it is possible to do to perfectly good, attentive practice while your body is in constant spasm and tears are streaming down your face. Lots of lovely sensations to observe.

Through all of this, the course instructors insisted that this was basically uninteresting and that I should just continue, after much shouting and arm waving I took them at their word, although their faintly robotic attitude was a bit scary.

Take the above experience, rinse and repeat for about 2 years.

I went on retreats of between 3 and 10 days, two months in Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand, two months doing Ashtanga Vinjasa in Mysore, India. Had progressively more crazy stuff happen, went to the teacher(s), “don't worry its all good” etc.

I'm doing one to two hours of Goenka through all this period, crazy stuff creeps in to daily practice. I'm getting a taste for this now, you really can ignore all kinds of vile visitations, body wobbles and psychic fire works if you really want to. Feels great. My girlfriend thought that I was some kind of living saint.

I've basically given up on teachers now. I follow all the instructions as well as I can, some are great especially the Tibetans, hats off to them, very happy to support a Goenka practice. But still, interviews are painful in the sense that elephants that are clearly visible in the room are being avoided, oddly it is the Tibetans who are the most evasive. And anyway Goenka says all you need is your daily scanning practice, do your two hours and all will be fine, anything else is just detail. So that's what I do.

I must say the Goenka thing is very solid, you really do feel like nothing can stop you.

But then I started getting very physical side effects. Stuff that would stop me working, and more importantly, practicing. It started with one hour sits that would be fine and normal, but the next morning, hang over. I have a very clean life by this time, very little booze. If I didn't meditate for the day, no hang over. This was a new departure and needed close attention, so replicated the situation many times just to be sure. No doubt in my mind, causal link. This was hard going, a hang over is a huge disincentive to practice. Sought advice, this time, just embarrassed silence. Thanks guys.

So I changed it up, did more yoga; same problem but with a slightly different flavor. Eventually I found that Ti-chi was reasonably safe.

The trouble now is that I'm getting hang overs every day no matter how careful I am. I'm hardly practicing at all the pain is so bad. I don't get the crazy stuff any more no bright lights or visitations or other fun stuff, just pain, visceral uncompromising pain. Sounds crazy now but I tried to use my old technique of resting in the pain in the hope that it might dissolve. No chance, this stuff is set in concrete.

Finally I stop practicing altogether, the morning hang overs have now become a permanent fixture of my life and they start to get worse, stretching on in to the afternoons. With no practice of any kind to support me, my health starts to suffer, small things just don't go away then morph in to something else. Knee problems, become back problems, become chronic migraines etc. But somehow I hold it together I start to recover, the hangovers become manageable again, my physical health starts to return.

Then (doom doom) that fateful day. I was invited by work to go on a pilgrimage to the Catholic shine at Medjugorje, Croatia. I had had some crazy stuff happen at these places before, but that was a several years ago now, and as a non-Catholic and as a non-practicer I felt safe. Also, I would be with people who I knew well and trusted. Very bad decision. Was as bad as my first Goenka retreat but with out the support of a Sangha or a practice to keep me real. My colleges had no clue either, attempts to discuss my predicament provoked outright hostility in one case. Turns out Marian devotional practice is every bit as intense as some of the Tibetan stuff. Who knew? Just had to suck it up.

So I get home, exhausted, disillusioned, vowing never to go anywhere remotely energetic ever again. A few days later I get the flu, but its not the flu its Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, some times called ME. So I spend the next two years bed ridden for most of the time, with no energy to do anything other than contemplate the contents of my own skull and in constant pain. Luckily I have some experience with both of these phenomena, so I survived. One year of slow recovery later I emerge in to the light of day blinking and disorientated but back at work and in one piece. Feels like a miracle.

So now I have that familiar itch, the one I've had all my life and that only 2 hours of daily vipassana seems to scratch. I love that practice. Life is possible with it in ways that I couldn't even imagine before I discovered it. Stuff actually gets processed in real time as its happening. No more waking up with night sweats because of stuff I should or shouldn't have done. Constantly second guessing my inappropriate thought word or deed. Life is actually fun with vipassana.

So when people talk about stream entry or second path I have very little interest. Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for those who are able to pursue those goals. And a profound jealousy for those who do. But its all so far away from the facts of my practice needs. For me its about psycho-spiritual survival first and foremost. I can't imagine a life where I would have the freedom to make those choices.

For me, if I don't practice I tend to run around screaming. And as I continue to recover from my illness the time is fast approaching when I will have to get back on the cushion again like it or not. My favorite practice is Goenka vipassana but the last time I got in that vehicle, I drove it into the nearest tree. It would be fair to say that I am at a crossroads. I have seriously considered never meditating ever again. But I know that that is probably unrealistic. Where to go? I have no idea.

So Daniel, there you have it. The short version. Dull stuff I'm afraid. I suspect that this is not the kind of answer you wanted when you asked about my capabilities and intentions. I'm sorry, I've just dumped 10 odd years of barely supervised practice in you lap and asked you to make some kind of sense of it. So i'm not expecting miracles. But the reason posted my original note was that you do seem to give no nonsense answers and shoot from the hip. That has been sorely lacking in my spiritual life and would be most welcome.

Thanks again

Howard
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

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

I get a much milder version of what you describe when I'm in what's called "A&P territory" around here. Luckily for me, consistently and diligently doing noting practice reliably moves me out of that "territory". Other kinds of practice are (to me) too easily solidified into the kind of concentration that's already too much at that point.

Here's a very interesting case study (from the DhO sister site Kenneth Folk Dharma) where symptoms (and people's reactions) similar to yours are described, along with a detailed account of how the "patient" moved out of it:

Case Study: Monica

Maybe you will find something useful in there.

Cheers,
Florian
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Hello Florian,

Thanks for your time.

So Monica got out of jail in 10 days? Good job! I can fully empathize with the weight of her suffering. That kind is symptom is very much of a piece with my own experiences, especially the sense of restraint it places on your being. The sense that you have to befriend these sensations because you are stuck with them so you may as well get comfortable together.

I think she has the advantage of me in that I know nothing about Jhanas. I have heard of them and know that you use them as tools to unlock further insight. And that they can be fun, maybe too much fun, but also that they can soften the edges of a harsh practice. Sounds good.

I've popped in and out of all kinds of odd mind states over the years and have cultivated the ones that help me from a survival perspective. Ive always assumed that the ones I have found useful are in some related to the four immeasurables, but again I really have no idea. I suppose what I need is a good jhana instruction manual, but have more or less given up finding any manual that actually works. Most seem to be couched in a kind of dense prose that is hard to penetrate. I'm not lazy, but I'm not a scholar either. Any suggestions? (I have already ordered Daniel Ingram's new book)

Is there a down side to Jhana practice? I'm quite happy to put the hours in but to end up in a house of horrors yet again would just finish me off at the moment.

You mention noting practice and I am familiar with this, although have no real experience. You say this does the job for you but you also suggest that one goes in and out of A&P over time. As part of a cycle? Sounds like useful information any ideas where I can research this? You also say that some practices solidify too easily. I assume you mean get stuck on an object or phenomenon that you then fix by the very act of attending too it. Sounds cool, but am I correct?

I ask this because I got rather good at dissolving physical pain and negative emotions by attending to them. This is how I get some of those useful mind states. Feel the anger, attend to it, desolve it, release the energy, get the high, then go and be nice to that person you really hate. Very useful in a tight corner, I got good at doing it in my lunch break on bad days at work.

But it also sounds suspiciously like an ego trap. At the time I felt that I had more important things to worry about. I'm happy to say I have moved on from this rather inelegant approach to work place diplomacy.

Thank you again Florian, I can't believe that any body actually wants to take the time to help me with this. I'm so used to being a freak that I just assume the worst.

Howard
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
While waiting for my book, you might just want to read these chapters on-line:

Go to the wiki, scroll down to MCTB, click there, read Progress of Insight, Vipassana Jhanas and How the Maps Help to see if that rings any bells.

Just because every time you crossed the A&P previously made the Dark Night that much worse doesn't mean you can't get stream entry.

I know full well for myself how practice can give us sort of an abused puppy/PTSD-like reaction to this stuff, but it can end just by finding a place and a teacher that can meet your need for interpretation beyond just the instructions to keep practicing, which was good advice, but sounds like didn't suit you that well. More fine tuning of exactly how to apply the theory to exactly which stage can really help make things happen in a much better way than happened before.

If you have the time, I really would just get the thing done with: it is that straightforward, even if from your current vantage point it seems anything but.

And last but not least, the trap of the Chronic Spiritual Basket Case has ensnared many of us here at points, including me at times, and so you may benefit from the advice of those who through trial and error figured out how to do something more healthy and effective.
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hello Howard,

Noting practice vs solidification: yes, it's a dead-simple practice: I notice something, and then I "say" what I noticed. This way, if I enter some tape-loop, I'm bound to notice sooner or later.

Jhana: opinions abound. Arbitrary standards for mastery abound: My opinion is that if you're able to enter some of these to some degree, as seems to be the case, then there's a lot of benefit to be gained from them. If you wish to do this systematically, I can really recommend Kenneth's guidance - his tips got me into "hard" jhana for the first time.

Cyclic stuff: yep. The "progress of insight" looks like a linear progression of steps, but it's very common to advance a few steps, tumble back a few, advance... The point is to get it done.

Being the freak: many here, including me, have been this, or are this to some extent. It's one of those "tape-loops" I mentioned above, solidifying into the role of "great holy wreck" / "spiritual basket case" in many cases (cranky, cynical, hard-boiled SOB in my case). The unskillful way of dealing with this is "look what a freak I am!", while the skillful way is "this is freaking me out, how do I move on?"

Cheers,
Florian
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Florian, Daniel, Hi

Yeah, abused puppy/hard boiled SOB. An ex-girl friend used to call it my “Grumpy Hamster.” I prefer “Cranky Old Geezer Who Scares Small Children” because it has marginally greater comic potential. There is a serious point here for me. I'm not sure I'm ready to find out who “Howard The Stream Enterer” is yet. “Cranky Old Geezer” is safe and familiar, so I may stay here for a bit in an semi-ironic way. I have good reasons for this.

I originally posted because I couldn't stop myself. Now I have all kinds of good advice flooding in (You have Maps! You have no idea how angry I am about that!) and I feel an injunction to do some thing with it immediately. Truth is though I'm still sick. The literature on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome suggests a “normal” recovery time of 18 months to 2 years. Relapses are not uncommon. I have been back at work for 3 months so I am assuming my current recovery clock is at about the six month mark. I am ahead of the curve but this is not necessarily a good thing, it may mean that I am over doing it. So I have to be careful.

The physical vehicle (I hate this third person stuff) in not really up to the job yet. I sit in Burmese for an hour at a time watching TV or play station, just to get my chakras used to being lined up again plus core stability benefits. This is fine, but standing yoga asanas or ti-chi are just too much. Its not just a physical but also an energetic problem, by this I mean (I assume) prana. Any time any of that stuff moves I just get wasted. Which brings me to my third point.

The more I think about my past practice the more I realize how energy/bodywork related it was. If I'm honest the main reason for loving Goenka so much was that it gave me an excellent way of getting a handle on the barking-at-the-moon physical stuff that I was and still am dealing with. And when I read peoples' descriptions of their experiences on this site; the fine distinctions in mind states and access concentrations; all sound like dispatches from another world to me at the moment. I know Daniel has said that I'm not really that far away and I'm sure he is correct. But I don't feel I can go forward until I know where I am now.

I like Daniel's description of a “Cave Stupid” attitude toward practice, it feels familiar to me. I captures the grunt physical nature of my former practice. Florian said that I may have got in to a Jhana or two over time. I hope he is correct, but most of these states I have accessed, I remember them by their “feel” they are almost-but-not-quite-emotions. They also feel like active processes rather than “places”, (Jhana are often referred to as places it seems). This may be because the context for these is often in daily life rather than formal sitting.

In any case I need to do some research, and get my strength up before I try anything too new or radical. But I feel that I have options now, which is marvelous.

If you don't mind I would like to post some detailed descriptions of my experiences for public consumption. I don't think these are side effects but practices or valid results of practice, all have been repeated and verified in my own “cave stupid” methodology, I'm not into time wasting as a rule but I am aware that I may have confused subject with object and cause with effect.

Here goes.

When sitting in sitting meditation:

Burmese posture, maybe 20 mins in, of a 1 hour sit.

The mind is quiet to a degree. Thoughts crawl by, there are discernible spaces between the passing of one thought and the arising of another. The space is pregnant, but relaxed. Rather nice actually.

Breathing has slowed, there is a urge to extend the gap between out breath and in breath, because the gap has a manifest healing quality to it.

The observer is present and stable.

The body is calm, pain is either not present or non-intrusive.

The body is fully present.

Okay, the bit I'm interested in is the next injunction to physically move. Often as a result of stimulus in the environment.

The injunction comes from the solar plexus or more often just below and behind the navel. Is like a small electrical shock. It travels up the spinal column to the arms or down to the legs.

If caught before movement occurs it results in a nice buzz. The buzz floods the chest OR the abdomen and tops of the thighs rarely both.

If caught later on it results in a spasm and mental activity, normally a justification for the movement.

The longer this game goes on the harder it becomes, eventually you miss one and the movement is so dramatic that you find your self standing up and walking towards the refrigerator/telephone/lavatory, dead legs and all. This normally ends the session.

That's it.

This is one of the more contained meditation experiences that I have had/practiced. I think it may be one of the more straight forward. Maybe best to get the easy stuff out of the way first.

As always thanks for your time. You know I've never told anyone about this stuff right?

Regards

Howard
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

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

Well, one celebrity with CFS is - Ken Wilber! And his advice: "meditate and eat your veggies". (It's a longer story, actually)

Thanks for your sitting description. I hope some of the energy experts chime in, btw.

Have you tried the noting technique? Hard to tell from your practice description. Me, I'd go "hearing" (the thoughts), "relaxing", "calm", "pain" (even if not intrusive), "resisting" (the injuction to move), "shock", "buzz", "resisting" (another wave)...

(the "resisting" bits reveal a lot about the "dukkha" characteristic, even though the pain and shock seem more obviously related to dukkha).

I go for speed over absolute accuracy. At first, I managed maybe once a second, but many times a second is certainly doable.

About never having told anyone, or being angry about the maps: This is what the Dharma Overground is all about.

Cheers,
Florian
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Hi Florian,

Good advice on the CFS i'm sure. Never really got on with noting too much. I find that in Vippasana I tend to drop in to a kind of unified field awareness thing. There is probably a technical term for it but I don't know what it is. The experience consists of being aware of multiple inputs at once. There is a sense of foreground and background. So that the primary support, say the breath, is contained within a larger process. So the sensation of me typing this sentence for instance is played out against the sound of the traffic out side, the ticking clock and the feeling that it is a bit chilly in the room. If I relax I can be aware of the all of this simultainously. When my mind is tight my awareness jumps or samples the environment in a rather jerky manner. Then I see this, get anxious, release the anxiety the unified field thingy comes in to focus. The more I release the larger my field of perception will become. I have to say that this mode has be come a kind of default conciousness state that I drop in and out of. This is where I go in meditation. Eventually the sensation of the my body will start to fray at the edges. The individual physical “impulses” become kind of no more or less relevant than the ticking clock. It all takes on a “flow” charactaristic. 'I' am still here though.

Its at this point that the problems start. Its at this jolly nice “I am one with everything” place that the chakras fire up and the crazy energy starts flowing. In fact just writing about this has got the old throbs going and its giving me a head ache. There you go! Meditation Hangover in real time. Result!

I have to go and lie down now. And I'm really not kidding.

Regards

Howard
Velvet V., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 37 Join Date: 4/13/10 Recent Posts
Howard, did you ever try concentration practice instead of vipassana? I have an idea that it might help you, and you're looking for another kind of practice, too. Although I'm no expert and have never practiced vipassana, I noticed that during concentration practice all "sfx" show up in case of distration for me, however slight it is. So it's pretty possible to ignore them, which would be good for you. It can even be used as a sign of detecting that your effort has become lax. It's not a buddhist meditation, but I think it's pretty much the same in this respect. Maybe not, but then buddhists in this thread will correct my description and understanding.

It goes like this: there is whatever you're concentrating on, and there are the "sfx". But when you're concentrating on the first, the second don't exist. The sfx only exist if your concentration has waned and as a result you became capable of detecting them. That doesn't help to ignore any sfx that linger after meditation, only during it, but that would be a start.

Your headaches and other health troubles are very suspicious, by the way, are you sure they're connected to meditation directly? Maybe the cause is different. If I was in your shoes, I'd do a full head scan, just in case. Maybe there is a problem with your health, and all your sessions do is tax you enough to make it plainly visible.
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Hi Velvet,

Yes I am familiar with this phenomenon. Many years ago now. My strongest memories of it are of the shrine room at Samye Ling in Scotland. I remember that the Tibetan dharma colors along with the all the candle light greatly facilitated all kinds of wacky stuff during concentration practice. I was keen on this for a good while, but thought that there were shinier more exiting practices just over the horizon, so I dropped it. In hind sight this was probably a mistake.

I remember my own experiences of the practice as one of frustration because the SFX would obscure the object. I would have to concentrate progressively harder in order to keep the object on focus. Eventually the physical and mental stress caused by this concentration would push me out of, what I now know to be, my access concentration. This would often end the session for me, as at the time all I registered was annoyance.

I have a difficult history with visualization practices in general, a kind of a love hate thing. At the moment, anything with SFX, deliberate or accidental, I would prefer to avoid. But thank you very much for the suggestion, it did bring back lots of happy memories.

You may want to explore this further yourself though. I'm not an expert, but this phenomenon may indicate that you have a facility with visualization. With the proper instruction visualization practices can be very powerful. The Tibetans are big on this as are certain Kabbalistic schools. Getting proper instruction is a good idea though, you can get your fingers burnt quite easily on this path.

Alternatively, you might like to try internalizing the object as a mental image, this is effectively a simple visualization practice and would fit neatly on to what you are doing now. But if your teacher tells you to stick to the script then do so. Dissipating your energy by jumping around practices can hold you back substantially.

As to my health, suspicious indeed! I may never know what it's all about. But I am on the way to recovery and have no pressing need to get back on the cushion just yet. So nothing to worry about really.

Thank you for your post

Regards

Howard
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Hi Florian

I am aware that you have suggested that I try the noting method a couple of times now and have not responded properly. I'm not being rude, its just that I have issues with it and I'm just trying to formulate the problem in to words. But I think I have it in a clear enough form.

I have tried noting on several occasions. But what happens when you become aware that the sense data entering your sense doors far exceeds your ability to note it all. I know you said that it is possible to note many times a second and Daniel has said that you can just "bip" each event, just letting it impinge on your consciousness. But even with this the process seems to be like trying to catch rain drops. Doomed to failure.

Now lots of people swear by this technique and have made good progress all the way to enlightenment we assume, so I must be missing something.

Thanks
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

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

It's a matter of practice, as with any skill. The insight stage which is at the current "leading edge" of your progress playes a role, too - sometimes, it's just plain hard to be fast and precise. Then, there's the fact that as you get better at noting, you also get better at noticing, thus, the amount of stuff to be noted seems to increase, when actually, your capacity to pay attention is improving. A bit of trust in the process doesn't hurt, either (in the ancient texts, the Buddha occasionally mentions "faith", "saddha", after all).

All that said;

When sitting, just note the thought "doomed to failure" as "hearing" (or "bip" or whatever) and move on.

There's no penalty for missing a sense impression (but it's good to aim at noting them all). However, you do have to notice the tape-loops ("doomed to failure"), note them, and move on to the next sense impression.

Absolutely anything that comes up during a noting-technique sit - note it. Don't get involved. Note now, ask questions later (and if you remember to note "question", so much the better).

In Daniel's book, there's the "simile of shooting aliens". If you've ever played an early 80's video game, you'll recognize the attitude. No time to count how many blocky pixels the alien is composed of. No time to ponder if those holes are eyes or what - shoot it, and move on.

Cheers,
Florian
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the prisoner greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Howard Maxwell Clegg:

When sitting in sitting meditation:

Burmese posture, maybe 20 mins in, of a 1 hour sit.

The mind is quiet to a degree. Thoughts crawl by, there are discernible spaces between the passing of one thought and the arising of another. The space is pregnant, but relaxed. Rather nice actually.

Breathing has slowed, there is a urge to extend the gap between out breath and in breath, because the gap has a manifest healing quality to it.

The observer is present and stable.

The body is calm, pain is either not present or non-intrusive.

The body is fully present.


mind and body (first vipassana nana; first vipassana jhana).


Howard Maxwell Clegg:

Okay, the bit I'm interested in is the next injunction to physically move. Often as a result of stimulus in the environment.

The injunction comes from the solar plexus or more often just below and behind the navel. Is like a small electrical shock. It travels up the spinal column to the arms or down to the legs.

If caught before movement occurs it results in a nice buzz. The buzz floods the chest OR the abdomen and tops of the thighs rarely both.

If caught later on it results in a spasm and mental activity, normally a justification for the movement.

The longer this game goes on the harder it becomes, eventually you miss one and the movement is so dramatic that you find your self standing up and walking towards the refrigerator/telephone/lavatory, dead legs and all. This normally ends the session.


cause and effect (second vipassana nana), with a lot of 'trapped energy' stuff, indicating a rather quick route to a&p territory, and indicating - even without the corroborative information gleaned from your previous posts - that you've likely been to the a&p before and are experiencing more 'foreshadowing' of it than normal (in a sort of backwards-bleedthrough of that later territory).

sounds to me like you need to learn to open your abdomen and ass more, so that the surges, rather than travelling upward and throughout your system (which actions are currently frying you), will have a larger place to go (the lower abdomen, below your navel), where the energy can collect, and percolate, and build a stable, tranquil (unproblematic) bodily bliss, and from where excess energy can travel out your pooper (root centre) into the ground. practice relaxing those areas (you may get a bit of gurgling and tenderness in these regions from doing this, particularly at first), and if the surges start showing up, make a habit of directing them down there (in order to build that really nice, calm, deep bodily bliss).

in short, connect the ground with your butt with your lower abdomen with the energy surges and everything will probably be fine.

tarin
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Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Hi Tarin

"sounds to me like you need to learn to open your abdomen and ass more, so that the surges, rather than travelling upward and throughout your system (which actions are currently frying you), will have a larger place to go (the lower abdomen, below your navel), where the energy can collect, and percolate, and build a stable, tranquil (unproblematic) bodily bliss, and from where excess energy can travel out your pooper (root centre) into the ground. practice relaxing those areas (you may get a bit of gurgling and tenderness in these regions from doing this, particularly at first), and if the surges start showing up, make a habit of directing them down there (in order to build that really nice, calm, deep bodily bliss).

in short, connect the ground with your butt with your lower abdomen with the energy surges and everything will probably be fine."

Thanks for your feedback, interesting and disturbing.

You are admirably clear and concise, much appreciated.

Howard
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Florian

Thanks for the advice and much to ponder.

Thanks again

Howard
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Tarin

Great advice, thanks. But you didn't comment on my observation that action precedes or is entirely independent of thought. This is a small point, we all know that it is possible to drive a car and think about the shopping, after all. But this is a question that I have never had a clear answer to in 20 years of meditating. So to formalize the question:

To what extent are thought and action dependent on each other. It is an important piece of box ticking for me. Can you help?

Regards

Howard
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the prisoner greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Howard Maxwell Clegg:

Great advice, thanks.


you're welcome. what results are you now seeing?

Howard Maxwell Clegg:

But you didn't comment on my observation that action precedes or is entirely independent of thought.


i didn't see your observation that action precedes or is entirely independent of thought anywhere in this thread; after scanning it, and utilising the search function with the keywords 'thought' and 'action', i am still unable to find it.

Howard Maxwell Clegg:

This is a small point, we all know that it is possible to drive a car and think about the shopping, after all. But this is a question that I have never had a clear answer to in 20 years of meditating. So to formalize the question:

To what extent are thought and action dependent on each other. It is an important piece of box ticking for me. Can you help?


my answer depends what you mean by 'thought'. by 'thought', which of these three things do you mean:

1- language processing;
2- any process of mental experience requiring intentionality (such as consideration, measurement, decision-making);
3- any process of mental experience at all (including things such as reflexes, the startle response, bodily coordination and the sense of balance)?

if the first, then only actions which require language processing are dependent on thoughts. if the second, then actions involving intention are prompted by thoughts but actions not involving intention are independent of thoughts. if the third, then all actions are dependent on and necessarily involve thoughts.

if you sense a weird tension or relationship between actions and thoughts, that is probably the insight problem.

tarin
J Adam G, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Thought and behavior are nondual -- they aren't the same thing, but they aren't really different either. (I'm sorry if that statement doesn't make sense. Think of it like leaves, stems, and roots -- they aren't all the same, but they're part of one plant and they are connected to each other.) In other words, it doesn't make sense from an ultimate standpoint to treat them as separate phenomena that are interacting with each other, but rather, to treat them both as phenomena which are arising in dependence upon previous conditions, some of which are past thoughts, some of which are past behaviors, and some of which are other things like genetics, past experiences, and external circumstances.

Having a lot of interest in, and potentially confusion about, thoughts and actions tends to occur in Cause and Effect for me. Once you can see sensation clearly enough to differentiate between mental sensations and physical sensations (Mind and Body), you may start noticing things like intentionality appearing to precede all behaviors, including ones that should be reflexive like breathing. Or you may be completely unable to "find" intentionality. Or you may see mental occurrences that you've never noticed before. Or any variety of experiences along those lines.

It's probably not going to be possible to directly see the answer to this until at least Equanimity, where the panoramic quality of attention allows you to see all of this stuff arising the way it actually is arising. Being an arhat would make it substantially easier, but the first real answers should start coming with 1st path Equanimity, and sometimes during A&P, especially if trying to notice this type of stuff. If you're just observing the physical sensations of breath when you hit the A&P, you're not likely to get any answers to questions about the relationships between the arising of physical and mental phenomena.

So, I still think it would be very skillful for you to use the vipassana techniques. Giving you specific answers will be hard, but if you can get to high Equanimity, you'll see for yourself.
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Hello Tarin and Adam,

This is great stuff guys thank you so much. I want to reply to each of your posts line by line but my head is in a spin and I don't want to waste your time. I can say "I know that Feeling!" to pretty much everything that you have said. But knowing how dangerous self diagnosis is, I also feel compelled to add "But do I really?"

In common with many (most?) practitioners my self assessment goes up and down from "Mind and Body" to "First Path" on an hourly basis. I want to take the time to frame my posts with care as faulty reasoning or sloppy definition can ruin the fun.

Thanks again for your very careful responses, I will be back shortly

Howard
Howard Maxwell Clegg, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Hangovers (Answer)

Posts: 22 Join Date: 4/28/10 Recent Posts
Dear all,

I'm afraid I'm going to have to wrap this thread up. Daniel's book has arrived, I've got Dharma coming out of my ears and I don't have the spare RAM to debate the finer points at the moment. You have all moved me on a great deal more than I would have believed possible a couple of weeks ago and for that I am profoundly grateful the bottom of my heart.

You young guys out there. Some of the stuff out there on the web is unbelievable. For Gods' sake use it. 20 years ago I would have given my first born to get my hands on this kind of teaching. We talk openly now about stuff that me and my friends would have had only the haziest understanding of and only talk about in hushed tones, behind closed doors.

Keep up the good work!

Thanks again

Howard

PS. Buddhist Geeks rocks.