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Thread: Meditation? I give up

  1. #1
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    Meditation? I give up

    Well, from what I understand, which seems to be very lacking these days, the more I practice letting go of my thoughts and feeling the feelings in my body, the more I will lessen my suffering. In fact, this seems to be the opposite for me. I am getting more and more overwhelmed by my thoughts, emotions and resulting reactions, and am having real problems applying my practice off the cushion. I feel like giving up, as I don't seem to be getting any benefit from meditation. (I have been a meditator for years now.) Lots of stressful stuff in my life, and a problem with severe insomnia.

    Any thoughts on what to do about this?

    Lise

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    Hi Lisehull

    I am not a meditation teacher and you should find a proper teacher I think, but for what it is worth

    Quote Originally Posted by lisehull View Post
    Well, from what I understand, which seems to be very lacking these days, the more I practice letting go of my thoughts and feeling the feelings in my body, the more I will lessen my suffering.
    from your comment I think that your first problem is that you think thought is the enemy you need to let go. This is a common idea that you let go your thoughts and concentrate on your bodily sensations, in my experience this is not possible, there is a conflation between bodily sensation and thought.

    It is not thought that is the problem in itself, it is the relationship to thought that you have to let go, that is getting caught up in the story of the thought

    In fact, this seems to be the opposite for me. I am getting more and more overwhelmed by my thoughts, emotions and resulting reactions,
    A common side effect of meditating is thinking your thoughts are increasing, mindfulness means you are seeing the chaotic mind much more clearly.

    If that clarity is showing you that you being overwhelmed on a regular basis it maybe that you need some additional help, such as counselling.

    A working definition of meditation practice I find useful is "knowing what is happening while it is happening, without being caught in the story or judging", The first part is relatively easy, the second part is tricky

    This is where letting go comes into it's own, you do not try to let go the thoughts or emotions but notice them, instead of following the story of the thoughts and emotions, just notice the effect they have in the body, what are the feelings they evoke, be present for what happens when you turn to the bodily feelings.

    and am having real problems applying my practice off the cushion. I feel like giving up, as I don't seem to be getting any benefit from meditation. (I have been a meditator for years now.) Lots of stressful stuff in my life, and a problem with severe insomnia.


    Lise
    We all feel disheartened at times, sometimes we have unrealistic expectations. sometimes life is tough, sometimes we look to our practice to solve problems that it will not, but in my experience with a properly established practice, life becomes much smoother, the ups and downs still occur but I am far more resilient.

    Even if you have been meditating for years, as I had, it is worth seeking out a genuine teacher, perhaps in a retreat situation. to establish your practice on a level that can benefit you

  3. #3
    What type of meditation are you practising, Lise? Is it a method you learned from classes at your Tibetan Buddhist centre?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisehull

    ...a problem with severe insomnia.
    I find that a cup of green tea before bedtime and then slowly and gently breathing in and out while repeating the Four Immeasurables mentally x 3 when I'm in bed, helps me to relax and drift off to sleep.

    It's possible that this Thich Nhat Hanh video posted below about falling asleep quickly might be helpful in some way.

    However, if you have a lot of stress in your life and you're having difficulty coping, Lise, maybe, as Mike has already suggested, it might be worth considering the possibility of getting some counselling ?

    Sending lots of good wishes for your health and happiness,

    Aloka




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    Quote Originally Posted by lisehull View Post
    Well, from what I understand, which seems to be very lacking these days, the more I practice letting go of my thoughts and feeling the feelings in my body, the more I will lessen my suffering. In fact, this seems to be the opposite for me. I am getting more and more overwhelmed by my thoughts, emotions and resulting reactions, and am having real problems applying my practice off the cushion. I feel like giving up, as I don't seem to be getting any benefit from meditation. (I have been a meditator for years now.) Lots of stressful stuff in my life, and a problem with severe insomnia.

    Any thoughts on what to do about this?

    Lise
    For me, letting go is not about letting go of thoughts as in pushing them away, but about your relationship with the thoughts that arise. You can't stop thoughts arising, but you can start to change what happens when they arise by starting to observe them as an outside observer. You look at the thought, say to yourself something like, "Well, that's an interesting thought" and then start to look at the next thought that comes along. In that way the first thought kind of fades away by itself.

    A 'Swinging gate' meditation can be a useful way 'in' to this kind of process, particularly if you are into visualisation practice. This is where you visualise thoughts in time to your breathing, letting the thoughts move in through a swinging gate as you breath in, then out, away from the gate when you breath out. Next breath is for the next thought. Naturally you can carry on breathing if nothing particular arises!

    If you follow strategies like this you may find that thoughts eventually quieten and fade- the opposite of when you try to push them away. When I do this regularly there are times when thoughts refuse to fade, so I examine them again to make sure that they aren't important enough to spend some time on. For me, it's all a matter of balance.

    As to reducing suffering, there is no direct relationship to look for I'm afraid. Meditation is more of a long-haul incremental thing that does work, but in it's own way and it's own time. Hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post

    A 'Swinging gate' meditation can be a useful way 'in' to this kind of process, particularly if you are into visualisation practice. This is where you visualise thoughts in time to your breathing, letting the thoughts move in through a swinging gate as you breath in, then out, away from the gate when you breath out. Next breath is for the next thought. Naturally you can carry on breathing if nothing particular arises!
    .
    Thank you for posting this idea/method. I can empathise with Lise, it’s hard to feel any gain from meditation when your life is very stressful and you crave some natural relief.
    It’s good to read others’ experiences here and the kind advice that’s always offered.

    For insomnia, no screens from 2 hours before bed & none in the bedroom. Tart Cherry juice is a natural way of getting the body to produce more melatonin, 2 kiwi fruit before bed too.

    With metta,
    Lorcán.

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    Okay, first of all, thank you for your well-meaning comments. I am practicing calm abiding. Have been for years. Yes, I learned this at the TB center I attended. Yes, I am still in touch with the lamas there, and I also follow a couple of teachers online. And, yes, I have been getting counseling for some time.

    These issues are nothing new for me, except for the severe insomnia and severe personal stressors. I have been doing a variety of things to aid in my getting a decent night's sleep, as suggested above and several other things. Sometimes they help, many times they don't. In many ways, it's not necessarily getting to sleep that is my issue, but rather staying asleep. For example, last night I woke up at about 1000 pm and it took two and a half hours to get back to sleep, and then I woke up for good at 450 am.

    Yes, I understand that it is my "relationship" to my thoughts that is the real problem. Yes, I judge myself and the thoughts, to the point that I can be very harsh with myself. Philg says meditation is a "long-haul incremental thing". Well, it has been almost 10 years that I have been meditating. For several of those years, I felt as if it was productive. Now I feel as if it's a constant struggle, even though I do meditate daily. I don't think I am pushing my thoughts away, but rather trying to let them be, let them dissolve, etc. I will try out the "swinging gate" idea, thanks.
    Last edited by lisehull; 16 Mar 18 at 14:38.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lisehull View Post
    In many ways, it's not necessarily getting to sleep that is my issue, but rather staying asleep. For example, last night I woke up at about 1000 pm and it took two and a half hours to get back to sleep, and then I woke up for good at 450 am.
    Which suggests that you might have gone to bed too early.

    The idea that we must get about 8 hours of consecutive sleep is, well, just an idea.

    The myth of the eight-hour sleep
    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16964783


    Yes, I understand that it is my "relationship" to my thoughts that is the real problem. Yes, I judge myself and the thoughts, to the point that I can be very harsh with myself. Philg says meditation is a "long-haul incremental thing". Well, it has been almost 10 years that I have been meditating. For several of those years, I felt as if it was productive. Now I feel as if it's a constant struggle, even though I do meditate daily. I don't think I am pushing my thoughts away, but rather trying to let them be, let them dissolve, etc.
    There are different types of problems, and they require different solutions. Some problems need to be addressed actively, some let go. Key is to figure out which is which, as opposed to using one and the same strategy on all.

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    Well, again thanks for your thoughts. In fact, I have been trying lots of things, for months. I don't go to bed too early. I go when I need to go. This is more than simple insomnia, and something I have been working on for a while. Last night I managed 5 hours of sleep, it was NOT enough. But I digress, the real point of my original post was about meditation. I am very disappointed.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by lisehull View Post
    But I digress, the real point of my original post was about meditation. I am very disappointed.

    How long is each of your daily meditation sessions, approximately ?

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