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Meditation and what works for you

JerbearJerbear Veteran
edited October 2009 in Meditation
Good Evening All! I'm trying to beat a problem with insomnia and have already slept 3 hours. For me that is great before midnight. But since I was awake, I thought I would ask a very simple question. In your meditation practice, what works for you? So often, it is easy to point out what doesn't work, and it can be self defeating. Since I'm getting back into the swing of things, I'm not as able to concentrate like I had at one point. It hit me all of a sudden that I could try the things that I did when first learning to meditate, such as guided meditations to get back into it. Within a few weeks, I found guided meditations to be less helpful.

This is just a post to help others with ideas that may help them. I personally liked Bodhipaksa's "Guided Meditations". I've tried others, but this was very basic. I remember talking to him online and feeling bad that his voice became in the way. He thought it was the greatest thing and it was time to try it on my own. What are things that have helped you to meditate, either meditating for 3 days to 30 years. You may do something that reminds someone of something that they used to do that could be helpful to them.

Bear Hugs to all,
Jerry

Comments

  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Jerry, dear bear,

    You ask for personal reminiscence so this is entirely personal and can, I trow, add absolutely nothing of use to those who want specifically 'Buddhist' content.

    As i get older, I am sleeping less and finding dropping off more difficult. Lying there one night, some months ago, I took time to review what I had done to overcome the childhood insomnia and sleep-walking that I remembered. It seemed to me that I told myself stories in my head (my first, internal steps to becoming a story-teller, etc.) That day, I had been trying to write another 'teaching tale' for my collection so I began to tell it to myself. It concerns Jesus' disciples being sent out in pairs and examined the idea of brushing dust off your shoes. The protagonists are Peter and Thomas, in order to confroint two attitudes.

    That was the story I had imagined but, as when I was a child, as I lay in bed and went 'into' the place, the time, the weather of the story, eyes closed, warm in bed, I drifted into the best sleep I had had for months.

    These days, when I can't sleep, I just have to imagine seing those two dusty enthusiasts and try to overhear their converstaion, I sleep within moments.

    I suppose my NLP colleagues would say that I had 'anchored' dropping off to a fully imagined trigger state. And Pavlov might mutter "conditioned response". But it works for me.
  • edited February 2009
    Jerbear wrote: »
    Within a few weeks, I found guided meditations to be less helpful.

    Hi Jer,
    I think guided meditation has its place and was occasionally very helpful for me in a group setting but what it does not do is teach you what meditation really is.
    With it, you are always depending on ideas and conclusions which the speaker is suggesting to you. This may be relaxing and pleasant but it's not very 'empowering'.

    I don't know anything about the causes of insomnia but I would imagine one factor to be the inability to shut off the mental chatter, emotions, feelings etc?
    Interestingly this is the 'raw material' of meditation and the abandoning and subsequent stilling of this is the gateway into first Jhana.

    If anyone is interested in reading some first rate instructions on how to do it, then I recommend reading this free online book by Ven U Vimalaramsi. It helped me:

    As a pdf file:
    http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/Books/Pdf/anapana-%203-2003.pdf

    As HTML pages:
    http://buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/anpnst-vim/part0.htm

    Based on this sutta:
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

    Off this site:
    http://www.dhammasukha.org/

    That's my tip.

    Namaste
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Sri,
    I would agree that meditating on your own is much better. But there are other things that people do that may be helpful. Many people (including me) need the help in order to get a routine going. When I'm back up to that speed, I plan on doing so. Right now, it seems I need the extra help with guided meditations. I do plan to look at the links you attached also. I need all the help I can get and others might find something useful.

    Sri & Simon,
    Thanks for the insomnia advice. I actually am making great headway and slept 6 hours continuous last night. I used to be a 7 hour a night sleeper. I may not get to that again, but I'm okay with 6 hours. Just a problem I have to keep working at.
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Thanks for those links, Kris.

    I don't have anything to add just yet but when I do I'll let you know, Jer.
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Boo,
    You're presence is always enough!
  • MagwangMagwang Veteran
    edited February 2009
    After 25 years of meditiation (with varyng degrees of dedication), I have learned (i'm a slow learner) that there are no techniques or methods or tips that can help your meditiation practise. The harder you try, the harder it becomes.

    Having said that, the only thing I can offer is this: Don't try to control your monkey mind, just watch it. Be the observer. Watch what happens. You will notice how noisy the mind really is. Like a bell that no longer is being struck, it will slowly stop vibrating. You will notice this nd you may think "wow, im doing it!", but be careful! Keep watching - NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS.

    And when you are ready to stop, do it mindfully and with purpose.

    Hope ths helps.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited February 2009
    I've just been listening to a selection of recordings by Miles Davis, across the '40s and '50s, culminating in So What. To start with, he could play (oy! could he play?!) but he wouldn't have played So What. The years of practice and learning and doing all contributed to that achievement. And, at the same time, he remained Miles Davis.

    My experience of meditation is, in its small and banal way, similar. Meditation is both precisely the same and inexpressibly different from when I sat for the first time, over 40 years ago.




  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Realistically, I don't want every meditation experience to be something "magical" or "special". One thing it would make me think is that everyone of them should be that way. I'm being reminded of things that I haven't thought about through this post. "Monkey Mind" and reading some of the sutta that Kris added links to have already reminded me of how one's mind is not to be controlled, just watched and return to the breath with compassion to one's self. To paraphrase Nike, "Just Sit".
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Yeah, I'd agree, Jer. It's your mind you're observing. Does your mind only got sweetness and light in it? HA! Your meditation experience is a reflection of your mind, which has all kinds of stuff in it! So you got to deal with the shit along with the sweetness and light. Probably much more of the former than the latter, if your mind is anything like mine...

    Palzang
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Hey Pally,
    No one said I'd find just sweetness and light. Many people have said that I was full of excrement for a number of years. It's just me seeing it for the first (or 100th) time.

    I also hope this thread is of help to the people who just come in and look and read. I can never do that in any group as I have a lot to say. Actually, that is when I notice the practice working. I say a whole lot less as I think about it before I say it. I have caught myself thinking "You have nothing to say, so why post?". But if you're a quiet one, you're welcome here also. Take what you need and leave the rest.
  • edited February 2009
    Fresh air and walking have always helped practice as well as insomnia.
  • gracklegrackle Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Jerbear,
    Here is a suggestion for insomnia. Still yourself and as you breathe in think "peace in. As you breathe out think"tension out". This helps me overcome as well as reset the brain clock. Fortunately insomnia is a rare visitor. Another post recommended walking. For me 1/2 hr every evening helps in many ways. Best wishes.
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited February 2009
    Thanks for all the suggestions on insomnia. It's starting to resolve slowly. I slept 5 hours straight the other night which is the most I've done in a while. Now just 2 more hours to add.
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited March 2009
    I'm having the same issue, Jerry. Can't get more than about 2 straight hours. I don't know what's up with that. I wish I had some great advice but I don't. If I get this sorted through the use of some wonderful practice like walking meditation or something I'll let you know ASAP. In the meantime just know that I'm with you in my heart and sleepless mind.

    ((((((((((HUGS)))))))))
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Have you tried a hop and lavender pillow? It's magic.
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Hop and Lavender pillow? Not ever heard of one so I guess not. We have a "Sleep Number Bed" which guarantees a good night's sleep, but so far has not been helpful. But it is a comfortable bed.

    Brigid, check your PM's. Have a couple of questions about this for you that you might be able to relate to but don't feel it appropriate to bring up in a general forum.
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Everybody,
    Thanks for your inpur on this. I see my doctor on Thursday and will bring it up to her as it is really making me cranky and unable to concentrate. In case you did not know this, 7 out of 10 nurses make the crappiest patients. But this is starting to make me unwell, so I shall resort to the person who is supposed to be consulted. I will let you all know what happens.

    Bear Hugs,
    Jerry
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Jerbear wrote: »
    Hop and Lavender pillow? Not ever heard of one so I guess not. .............

    This is easy and natural: fill a small. gauze bag, or an old (clean) stocking with a handful of dried hops and a handful of dried lavender. Put it on your pillow when you lie down to sleep. It's an old remedy but I assure you it works better than any sleeping pill I've ever tried (and the quack has given me lots over the years), there are no side effects and it smells like heaven.
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Thanks, Simon. I have a friend with a sleeping problem who takes tons of sleeping pills. I'd like to get her off them. Just one question: where does one get hops? (other than in beer, of course) Not something I've seen on the shelves of the local grocery!

    Palzang
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited March 2009
    I have a barley pillow (I think it's barley) I call my "hugging pillow" because I use it to keep my shoulders properly aligned when I sleep. It's a bit noisy but I love it. I could put a sachet of hops and lavender inside it at the top where my nose is closest to it. I think that would be the perfect place.

    So now I just need to know the same thing as Palzang: Where do I find dried hops? Probably a health food store. Next time I'm in the big city I'll go to one. Or I could look for some online. That would be easier.

    I got 8 1/2 hours last night but that's because I took sleeping meds. They're actually my panic attack pills, the ones I keep for emergencies. I don't want to take them to sleep. I'm afraid of using them that way. I asked my doc a few months ago if I could and he said it would be fine as long as I only used them occasionally. So last night was the first time. Even though I intensely dislike the idea of using them, right now I'm feeling pretty glad that I did because the pain level is so much lower than it's been in weeks. It's astonishing how much a good sleep heals our bodies. It never ceases to amaze me.

    I did wake up pretty sore and stiff, like a pretzel. But after about an hour and a half of moving around, making my coffee etc. that went away and I feel so good. Sometimes relief like this makes you want to cry because you're so happy, so relieved.

    I know it's not going to last but sometimes a small break from the pain is enough to keep you going. I've said it many times. All I need is a break a few times a month and I can handle the rest of it. The real problems start when the pain is relentless. That's when it becomes demoralizing. You start feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. But if you can get a break and be reminded what feeling good is like it helps a great deal.

    You'd think it wouldn't. You'd think it would be even more demoralizing to be reminded of what you can't have all the time. But if you've accepted the fact that there will be pain for however long, a short break from it is like the sun coming out again. As long as you get to see the sun occasionally you can manage the gray skies and drizzle, you know?

    Anyway, I hope with all my heart that you get some good sleep soon, Jerry.
    With all my heart.

    (((((((((((LOVE))))))))))))
  • gracklegrackle Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Brigid,
    An online search is the best with the caveat of buyer beware. Depending on the severity of your sleep problems you may need to try more than one vendor to find those products which are best for you. I have not heard of barley pillows but I am familiar with buckwheat hull filled pillows. They conform nicely to your needs. Also by experience they work well in all climates. I have known three women who have been helped a lot by lavender. The lady with the most severe internal tensions leading to muscle pain at her work station told me that she carries a baggie of dried lavender to work and uses it throughout the day.
    the grackle
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Hiya, grackle. (Love your name, btw.)

    Please forgive me for not welcoming you sooner. *blush* Welcome!!

    And a big thank you. My pillow is indeed buckwheat hulls. I love it. I use it to rest my book on as I read, too.

    And thanks for the info on lavender. I'm going to give it a shot. (Did you know they use it in southern France to keep the scorpions away?)

    Again, welcome to the board!
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited March 2009
    It is my suspicion, based on little or no empirical evidence, that our bodies respond best to locally produce. I set myself the task, therefore, of seeking out sources for hops in the US and Canada.

    British hops are available in the US, I discover:
    http://www.crosby-baker.com/RetailLinks.htm
    I haven't looked further into which of them supply online.

    US hops are also available and this is one site I found:
    http://homebrewheaven.com/willamette-leaf-hops---2-oz.htm
    Leaf hops are what you want.

    As for Canada, all I could find were pellets for brewers.

    You may be able to grow your own if you have a sunny, sheltered south-facing wall and, somewhere in your locality, there must be a home-brewer or two.

    I do hope these links will help.
  • gracklegrackle Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Brigid,
    Today I learned something new. That lavender was used to control scorpions in southern France. I have fond memories of spending time in Pau. I am definitely a bird person. Grackles were everywhere in the southern US where I spent my formative years. Best of luck with the lavender. Having to deal with ideopathic preipheral neuropathy I know very well that chronic pain brings us all to our knees. But as long as we are moving things do seem to get better.
    the grackle
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited March 2009
    A big thank you to both Simon and Grackle! I very much appreciate your kind posts.

    Much love,
    Boo
  • gracklegrackle Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Brigid,
    An excellent reference work: The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier. Precise entries and clear oictures. Plus an easy to understand section on making decoctions, tinctures etc.
    the grackle
  • edited March 2009
    Dear Jer,

    Apologies - long time no type!

    I found that the rituals of pre and post meditation I learnt from the monastic traditions in Japan help me to sit with more conviction than simply putting aside 20 - 40 minutes a day.

    I

    stretch

    arrange the space to sit

    light and offer some incense - bowing thrice

    bow to the world and to my zafu

    centre my sitting position

    practice zazen

    stand

    bow to the world and to my zafu

    fluff up my zafu

    sit in seiza and chant the Heart sutra

    bow three times to the Buddha, Dharma and sangha

    and go about my day.

    Sorry but I don't have any advice for insomnia apart from what's recommended in Fight Club: try to get a bit more exercise - at least 30 minutes of increased heart rate inducing action.

    I hope you're well.

    Gassho

    Dave
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Hello All,
    I just started on something a few days ago for sleep. My physician said that since my father had the same problem, it might be a good idea to try some sleeping pills every day for a few weeks and then back down and see if it breaks this cycle. I knew something was up as things were starting to get weird and I wasn't sure what was reality and what wasn't. If it came from someone I knew and trusted, then I took it as such. Lack of sleep can make one psychotic. Tonight is a 2 pill night, so I thought I would write you all a quick note.

    I might have another job back in hospice. I went through an agency who was trying to get me an ICU job, but it seems the hospital the agency was working with felt I would be better at hospice with my recent experience. It is in an inpatient facility instead ofdriving all over kingdom come. As I thought about it, this job is falling into my lap. If it goes through, I'm taking it. It's through a reputable company in the area instead of my former employers of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe. As I learn more, will let you know. Oh, and it was an 8 grand a year increase with benefits. So things seem to be looking up. I am thinking of you all and hopefully by next week, I will be a bit more secure in what is going on in my mind and what is reall If you've never been like this, it is strange. It scares me, but I know that unions aren't out to get me and I'm not being hunted down by the mob since I don't leave my house often. Will know more in a couple of days and hopefully my world will improve interiorally. A little scary to meditate as I'm not sure what is coming from me or this weird place.

    Bear Hugs to all,
    Jerry
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited March 2009
    Holy crapola, Jer!

    I go without sleep for 24, 36, and sometimes 50 hours at a time but I've never experienced the problems you're describing. How scary! I never thought I'd be saying these words but I'm very glad your doc gave you some pills to use because, my friend, do you ever need sleep! You have me worried.

    At the same time I'm so excited about this new job prospect! I hope with all my heart that it turns out to be a great thing. I think hospice work is one of the greatest services to humanity there is, both for the dying and for the caregiver. It's a beautiful, beautiful, mutually beneficial relationship and I hope with all my heart that you get the job and have the opportunity to stay there for a long time. Such wonderful work! Such a glorious opportunity!

    All my love and hugs to you, darling Jerry!!
  • JerbearJerbear Veteran
    edited October 2009
    An update on this thread. I had been taking Beadryl (diphenydramine) for sleep for years. It wasn't working and I kept taking higher dosages. It ended up causing my brain to swell a little and I ended up in the hospital a few months back. Since this occurred with another sleeping pill, I gave my body a whole month to clear out. I was put on an old antidepressant that causes you to sleep also. My doctor is fully aware of what I take and I don't have to run to the pharmacy every 2 weeks to get another bottle of 100 capsules. It wasn't working and all I wanted was a nights sleep. This is working nicely. I make sure to go without the medication about 2-3 nights a week to make sure my body gets the chance to sleep on it's own.
  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited October 2009
    Jerbear wrote: »
    I was put on an old antidepressant that causes you to sleep also.
    Trazodone? Be careful about your penis.
  • edited October 2009
    I personally listen to calming chants, like some of the ones I posted in this thread: http://www.newbuddhist.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3615
  • edited October 2009
    well i meditate on counting "om mani padme ohm" thousand times.... i count them with my fingers.... I think that works... i'm new also so i don't really know what i'm looking for.....
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