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Meditation feels pointless

Sometimes when I meditate it just feels so pointless and also really boring. I watch the breath, I think, I come back to breath, I think, etc etc etc. I rarely feel anything but boredom and anticipation for the bell. I do not find the breath interesting or insightful in any way. It feels like the bell will never ring sometimes. Time just goes on and on. I feel huge relief once it rings. I feel I am going to grow so bored of it that I may give up one day. I read so many books etc about insight into anicca and anatta etc but I really dont feel like it has changed my perspective much at all considering the amount of time I spend doing it. I sit for average 1 hour twice daily for over 5-6 years now.

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Then stop. It's ok to stop, do something different, try an alternative way, or not do it at all. Certainly reduce your time. it's not quantity that counts, but quality.

    Read some of Thich Naht Hahn's work and focus on trying a different approach.
    It's meant to be a challenge, but it's really not meant to be this hard.

    VastmindSwaroopRuddyDuck9Beej
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It's interesting to enquire what is behind the boredom - I see it largely as a defense of the mind to avoid confronting it's true nature. It's telling you to hurry up and do something else, anything to distract it :)

    But an hour twice daily is a lot of sitting. Different people have meditative breakthroughs in different ways and times - Bodhidharma sat facing a cave wall for nine years.

    CarlitaSwaroop
  • ZaniaZania Explorer

    Cinorjer you say after 40 years that's how it feels most days. But then you say eventually it will get better. Doesn't seem like it's getting better for you? Accept it for what it is and continue, why?

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited August 2016

    @Zania said:
    Cinorjer you say after 40 years that's how it feels most days. But then you say eventually it will get better. Doesn't seem like it's getting better for you? Accept it for what it is and continue, why?

    Hard to describe, in that no, meditation didn't get more exciting or transform into a mystical mind journey. Maybe it's that people can get used to anything, and the feeling of being bored is one of them. It's become a familiar experience. Like the ache in my knees that won't let me get off the floor without a struggle. Since I know what causes it, the brain being hooked on activity, then I know it's not going to kill me to deny it that activity for a half hour or so and it's good for me. And if I'm simply in a restless mood and can't settle down, I do something else instead.

    Spekter
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I just sit everyday and I guess it helps me in some way however subtle. Perhaps without meditation I would feel more lost and caught up in the emotions. It helps me to notice the changes in mood etc. Today I noticed the point at which my mood changed from melancholic to peaceful. It reminded me how transient everything is.

    (From this thread).

    There's your point. If this is what happens - if it's ALL that happens - there's your point.

    CinorjerRuddyDuck9
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    The only thing worse than meditating is not meditating. Everyone needs a way -- some way or place or time -- in which to serious up and get honest. Will that way be meditation? I don't know -- it's your life. What is it you really want? What is it you really need? What is it that really makes you happy? Never mind whether you are good-better-best or virtuous or some other nonsense ... but really, what does your honesty say to you? You... all by yourself ... without anyone else looking.

    Meditation offers a deliberate space in which to sort such things out or identify them or something. Other circumstances are too full of "improvements." What are things like when nothing is improved, when you are not going someplace else? If you say "boring," my honest reaction is "bullshit!" Everyone is fascinated by their own sense of being. Penetrating that fascination is the direction that meditation heads towards. If you want ecstasy, take a pill. If you want understanding, you have to slow down ... waaaaay down.

    Is there a gold medal at the end of the exercise? That's a tricky question that only you can answer. It doesn't mean diddlysquat what anyone else says ... what you say is the gold standard.

    Who knows, maybe chocolate would work better.

    Best wishes.

    Zerolobsterrohit
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    The benefits of meditation do not often come in the sitting itself, but in what it brings to your life when you get up. Try another form. Try to break up your time. There are not necessarily more benefits for meditating for 2 hours a day rather than 30 minutes a day. it's rare that I sit longer than an hour, and more often it's 30 minutes. But meditation to me, is like sleep. We spend a lot of our lives in sleep, when really it seems like a waste of time. Couldn't we sleep less and accomplish so much more? Except sleep is when all the change and growth happen in your body and mind. Meditation is much the same. When I meditate, I don't have (usually) any kinds of amazing moments of deep bliss, or other such things. But as I have documented my journey through the years, the difference in my life, my relationships, my reactions, my perceptions of the world are very noticeable.

    person
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited August 2016

    @Zania said:> Sometimes when I meditate it just feels so pointless and also really boring. I watch the breath, I think, I come back to breath, I think, etc etc etc.

    It's difficult to diagnose meditation difficulties over the internet, but it sounds like you need to change your approach. Could you describe in more detail the method you are currently using, and where you learned it? Where are you paying attention to the breath, eg abdomen or nostrils? When a thought arises, how exactly do you respond? Is there a pattern to the thoughts? And so on.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    For me meditation is similar to my old days of running (before my knees packed it in!). If I ran the same trail day in and day out I would get bored. So I changed it up and took different routes to keep it interesting.
    Have you tried analytical meditation? Meditate on the four immesuarables or impermanence perhaps?
    Good luck!

    RuddyDuck9
  • ZaniaZania Explorer
    edited August 2016

    @SpinyNorman said:

    It's difficult to diagnose meditation difficulties over the internet, but it sounds like you need to change your approach. Could you describe in more detail the method you are currently using, and where you learned it? Where are you paying attention to the breath, eg abdomen or nostrils? When a thought arises, how exactly do you respond? Is there a pattern to the thoughts? And so on.

    Samatha vipassana. I follow the breath in the abdomen rising and falling. When I notice the mind wander I dispassionately note "thinking, thinking" and return the focus to my breath. Sometimes I notice a sensation at which point I note the sensation such as "tingling, tingling". Sometimes I feel bored so I note "boredom boredom". This is how Mahasi Sayadaw taught. I learnt from books and also from retreats.

  • when you note 'thinking, thinking', or 'tingling, tingling' etc.
    check from where 'you' get those words
    and
    how did you get those words
    and
    how quick you get those words (before or after noting the wandering mind/ before or after noting the sensation

    if you are involved with these tasks there is no time to get be bored, because you have to pay specific attention to the mind and its states at hand (vipassana)

    RuddyDuck9
  • ShimShim Veteran

    Sounds really similar to my meditation problems, but I've never had the perseverance to stick with it so long...

    So, may I ask, what has kept you meditating during these 5-6 years? There must be something that has kept you motivated! (not necessarily in your meditation sessions but in the idea of meditation itself, maybe?)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    samatha and vipassana aren't the same though. Samatha is the act of calming the mind, of learning how to single-point-focus on the breath to bring about tranquility. Once you are confident and comfortable in that, then you move on to vipassana which is more an open awareness of everything. It is very hard to try to manage vipassana without already being able to accomplish a tranquil mind. Do you have a meditation teacher you can check in with about your difficulties? Often teachers you do retreats with are happy to answer questions.

    Also, very much agree with @Bunks. When you exercise your body, you cannot do the same thing over and over for years and nothing else, or you end up with imbalances and eventually injuries. If you are a runner, you need to then do things like biking, swimming, yoga, etc. And so on. Meditation is much the same.

    Bunks
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited August 2016

    I feel @upekka has provided the most relevant advice for the type of meditation you are doing and the nature of your current practice.

    Like @Shim I find your perseverance extraordinary. Your discipline is in place, the question is now what?

    Here are some exciting possibilities:

    • The fire path. Burn your bra cushion. Try a Zen, Tantric or even yoga retreat. That should light your ass. o:)
    • Become a nun none for a while ...
    • Change to walking meditation
    • Get bored, so to speak ... :3
    Bunks
  • namarupanamarupa Veteran
    edited August 2016

    @Zania said: I sit for average 1 hour twice daily for over 5-6 years now.

    It must not be that bad if you have kept it up for that long? relax... relax...relax...There is no sureshot method anyhow. It may even take a lifetime or longer to reach enlightenment, and even then no promises. The road is long and boring. Make preparations. Do something different. Change the routine. Spice it up. The main thing is to relax before, during, after, and even when not meditating. Because grasping and attaching can be tiresome. We need to take a break sometimes. Keep it up! Good times are ahead :)

    RuddyDuck9
  • ZaniaZania Explorer

    @karasti said:
    samatha and vipassana aren't the same though. Samatha is the act of calming the mind, of learning how to single-point-focus on the breath to bring about tranquility. Once you are confident and comfortable in that, then you move on to vipassana which is more an open awareness of everything. It is very hard to try to manage vipassana without already being able to accomplish a tranquil mind.

    I know but they are interwoven and as important as each other according to the Buddhas teachings in the Pali suttas. One practises samatha then when the mind is tranquil begins vipassana but all the while returning to samatha when necessary. This is my understanding from the many books I have read, podcasts llistened to and talks at sanghas and retreats.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Interwoven yes, but important to completely understand and maintain samatha on its own before continuing onward.

  • ZaniaZania Explorer
    edited August 2016

    @Shim said:
    Sounds really similar to my meditation problems, but I've never had the perseverance to stick with it so long...

    So, may I ask, what has kept you meditating during these 5-6 years? There must be something that has kept you motivated! (not necessarily in your meditation sessions but in the idea of meditation itself, maybe?)

    I guess I have experienced a lot of suffering, deep unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the way things are not only in my own life but in the world in general. Im pretty much in the top 2% of wealthiest people in the world simply just because of the place I live. I've also lived a life of comfort and luxury wanting for nothing but it was never enough. Still I suffered a lot and craved for more.

    This has driven me to begin an inner journey. To try a find a way to live better, to be happier. To search for an inner peace that cannot be so easily destroyed. Along the way I have realised that it's not about trying to get somewhere else or something else or get rid of something but is more about acceptance of where I am at wherever that may be.
    In itself even this has been a very difficult thing to accept because like everyone I crave pleasant experiences and want to get rid of unpleasant. I'm slowly learning to let go and trying to understand how this doesn't mean that I cannot take action in doing the things I want to do in life. It's a tricky paradox.

    Yesterday I felt like my meditation was pointless but even this view has changed since I wrote about it. It's clearly not pointless. I just felt it was in that moment after that particular sitting.

    Other than that I can tell you that I have had some mind blowing experiences meditating. They were just more impermanent experiences though and I can count them on one hand. I have even had to let go of this as in the past it became a hindrance when I found myself craving more similar experiences.

    ShimlobsterShoshinkarasti
  • @Zania said:
    Samatha vipassana. I follow the breath in the abdomen rising and falling. When I notice the mind wander I dispassionately note "thinking, thinking" and return the focus to my breath. Sometimes I notice a sensation at which point I note the sensation such as "tingling, tingling". Sometimes I feel bored so I note "boredom boredom". This is how Mahasi Sayadaw taught. I learnt from books and also from retreats.

    It might help to just focus on samatha for a while, and drop the noting.

    lobster
  • If you are in the wealthiest 2% then you must know very well the discomfort of having too much. Have you as yet found anything that is not subject to arising,decaying and passing away? Your practice looks to be sound and with a good foundation.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Most people in western countries should know the discomfort of having too much. If you have shelter, water, sewer, and electricity you already have vastly more than many people on the planet. To add in furniture, special dishes for holidays, birthday and holiday gifts, pets, computers, cell phones...those of us with those things all indeed probably have too much.

    That said, try not to feel guilty about where you were born or how you were brought up. It's easy to do so. Don't feel guilty. Instead, use your privilege wisely.

    WalkerRuddyDuck9Bunks
  • ShimShim Veteran

    @Zania
    That already is a truly radical meditation motivation. Many of us (by which I mean modern meditators in wealthy countries) never go further than mindful self-improvement.
    You seem to have a similar motivation than the Buddha did! :+1:

    Zania
  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    Try metta for a while! :heart: :heart: :heart: that never gets boring for me. There are so many people to love!

    Bunkspersonlobster
  • @Zania said:

    Other than that I can tell you that I have had some mind blowing experiences meditating. They were just more impermanent experiences though and I can count them on one hand. I have even had to let go of this as in the past it became a hindrance when I found myself craving more similar experiences.

    Perfectly natural. As is the aversion to what I experienced yesterday, sweating and nausea. Needed to hydrate and not be wrapped - oops.
    We cling and reject (clinging to other) - so we cling and cling.

    Who said 'let go'? :p I think we have to let go ... o:)

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Who said 'let go'? :p I think we have to let go ... o:)

    And even that is circumstantial... When hanging from high ledges clinging is the thing to do :)

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said:

    @lobster said:
    Who said 'let go'? :p I think we have to let go ... o:)

    And even that is circumstantial... When hanging from high ledges clinging is the thing to do :)

    Not always so!

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    When i first started to meditate I had a 'point' in mind, ie, to find calmness...peace of mind a chance to experience true bliss etc etc....but as time went by,a realisation gradually arose... meditation is "pointless"....after all ...expectations/grasping/clinging to a belief.... have no place in the scheme of things "meditation"....what happens happens... what 'is' "is"....and since then "I" can't see any 'point' whatsoever in meditation...I guess this is why I do it...(Or better still it does me ) :wink: . :)

    Zania
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    I used to find it boring when it was something I planned and had to fit in my schedule or if the day had already been boring or if my monkey wouldn't stop chattering.

    Now I have to say I enjoy it and it's like eating or sleeping as far as scheduling goes.

    I found it helpful to see it as a recharging as well.

  • ^^. Recharging is a skilful approach. We have to get there.
    Enjoying meditation is something as is not.
    http://opcoa.st/0v70b

  • BrownbuddhaBrownbuddha Osaka, Japan Explorer

    All of the above! Do not seek a point, just do it, because you can. What is the point to life? Change your practice. Some do not advocate daily meditation. Why ask why? If you are sitting and trying to find a point, you are missing the point and the boredom is your mind playing tricks on you. Reasons / excuses can go on and on. :-)

    silver
  • And that is why we meditate. Because it is a practice not because it is a promise of something better than being content. Everyone struggles. Life is a struggle. There is no goal that we reach where we say "I am there! I am enlightened. I am free of suffering". Every moment that passes by is a struggle to be content in that moment and that is the purpose of meditation. Bliss is a choice but you have to tune out thoughts to experience it. Bliss is fleeting, the world is fleeting, meditation is fleeting, the mind is constantly grasping. Meditation is a lifetime practice to help you deal with life. One day something will happen and you will realize that you just dealt with it rather than allow it to effect your thoughts and emotions.

  • edited August 2016

    What some people would give for the chance to just BE

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    We all of us, without exception, have that chance - that choice - in front of us.
    Most of us just don't choose wisely. :)

  • upekkaupekka Veteran
    edited September 2016

    http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/anapanasati.pdf

    to go through this is even good for advanced practitioner

  • You're right but I think that is the point. Your ability to be with yourself without constant stimulation is linked to your self worth. So I think ( must remember capital I lol).

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Secretly or not so secretly there is a desire to feel better or perhaps even feel elated with whatever the results of meditation might be. It may be kool to say, "no goal," but, well, hey! I'd like to feel better

    And yet somewhere, in some dusty mental file box, is one of my favorite Zen guys, Ta Hui, who once suggested approximately, "I would rather suffer the fires of hell for all eternity than to portray Zen as a human emotion."

    Luckily or unfortunately, most of us have the intellectual wherewithal to sidestep or dismiss the practical implications of his words....

    ... still rather feel better, right?

    lobster
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