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flipping the coin on Meditation

SystemSystem Moderator
edited October 30 in Meditation
This discussion was created from comments split from: The other side of meditation retreats.

Please see that discussion for background. Thanks

Comments

  • Sam8Sam8 Hamilton, NZ Explorer

    I really want to know how exactly these people were meditating to have had such bad experiences (so I can know to not do it that way!).

    I can see how mindfulness might bring up issues that someone had previously been dealing with through distraction or repression, and I can certainly see how trying to achieve "no-self" or an "empty mind" could lead to depersonalisation disorder, a hellish condition.

    What I don't see is how focusing on the breath, body, sounds, etc., and observing the rise and fall of thoughts and feelings in the present moment, could lead to any harm.

    So what I want to know is, what exactly were they doing?

  • what exactly were they doing?

    Intense practice

  • Sam8Sam8 Hamilton, NZ Explorer

    @lobster said:

    what exactly were they doing?

    Intense practice

    With all due respect, that's a bit vague- I want to know what exactly they were intensely practicing.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited October 30

    From what I understand the mind normally and healthily goes from concentration to diffusing away to again concentration. So intense could be trying to hold that tight concentration in a contrived way and for prolonged duration that can have side effects of mental instability? I think a lot of the meditation methods given to people to do on their own are usually safe because they are not upsetting this need for both concentration and diffusing out to space?

    lobsterDavid
  • What I don't see is how focusing on the breath, body, sounds, etc., and observing the rise and fall of thoughts and feelings in the present moment, could lead to any harm.

    @how has provided an experienced answer

    In an intense social pressure to practice, some people pop, explode or break down. It is the intense concentration of the unprepared that leads to this potential meltdown. You use the word 'focus' but thinking of it as 'gentle attentive awareness' is superior to forced focus. People unaware or never having been intentionally still, have a tendency to force or tense their being.

    With good practice, for example the gentle observing techniques you mention and/or walking meditation we will feel and be safe.

    Hope that is more helpful as is @Jeffrey insight B)
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2nB1psRz3JFQpzDh6J2Z6xl/is-mindfulness-meditation-dangerous

  • 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

    @how said:
    What is a
    System Moderator????
    This is a system account and does not represent a real person.?????

    Skynet....is that you?

    Well I've been called a few choice names but that's a new one... No it's just an Administrative Handle that's just part of the Merge program.
    Nothing to see here, go back to your homes, it's way past bed time...

    howlobster
  • Sam8Sam8 Hamilton, NZ Explorer

    So I've been looking around about this. It appears some people may be adverse to certain "anchors" in meditation, e.g. paying attention to the body, perhaps because they an OCD related anxiety about their body. The suggestion is to offer people a range of options to use as their "anchor"- don't insist they use the body, for instance, when paying attention to sounds might work better for them (or vice versa). You have to find what works for you.

    The other trouble appears to be around meditations based on the idea of "no-self." If someone has trauma or low self esteem and in fact need to build up their sense of self, then telling them "the self is an illusion" is counterproductive. People may also experience "no self" but interpret it in a negative way, believing they have obliterated their minds or their sense of existing at all.

    So teaching "no self" isn't always appropriate to every person. I don't actually believe in the whole "no self" theory anyway so the above doesn't really apply to me, but I know many meditation teachers still teach it, so they should be forewarned.

    lobster
  • 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

    It's not a theory. If you believe it's a theory, then you have misunderstood it.
    It might be more easy for you to accept if you consider 'not-self', rather than no self'...'

    lobster
  • @Sam8 said:
    So I've been looking around about this. It appears some people may be adverse to certain "anchors" in meditation, e.g. paying attention to the body, perhaps because they an OCD related anxiety about their body. The suggestion is to offer people a range of options to use as their "anchor"- don't insist they use the body, for instance, when paying attention to sounds might work better for them (or vice versa). You have to find what works for you.

    The other trouble appears to be around meditations based on the idea of "no-self." If someone has trauma or low self esteem and in fact need to build up their sense of self, then telling them "the self is an illusion" is counterproductive. People may also experience "no self" but interpret it in a negative way, believing they have obliterated their minds or their sense of existing at all.

    So teaching "no self" isn't always appropriate to every person. I don't actually believe in the whole "no self" theory anyway so the above doesn't really apply to me, but I know many meditation teachers still teach it, so they should be forewarned.

    This is an interesting one. From the Buddhist perspective of many lives, if you have the karma to find yourself in a Buddhist class, then you are extremely blessed. Now, within all of those lives it might be a recent introduction for you, and your contact with it - whilst incredibly blessed from an ultimate point of view - might be very challenging. I've grown more and more into the view that attempting to bend ourselves to fit what we think another wants or needs is pointless. Our bending might help, it might not. Yes, be delicate, be sensitive, but deliver what is in your own heart to deliver in life. If you look out into your class and think 'hmmm, not sure this chap can handle this, better reign it in'... well, first of all, you simply don't know that, and second of all, you rob others of the opportunity to be exposed to what they can handle.

    More and more I believe that we need to leave people to their suffering. There are reasons that it is there, and, from a karmic perspective, it is perfectly designed to suit the spiritual needs of that individual. I think the best we can do in life is to be the fertile soil that surrounds others. Their growth or lack of is their business. But with a gentle, warm, understanding manner, I think we can make it more comfortable for them to grow. We have to be responsible for ourselves. If someone attends a meditation class and freaks out then that is on them. If we begin to reign ourselves in then we sell ourselves short and others short. We just can't account for everyone, and we can't know what that piece of the puzzle means to them.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited November 25

    @federica said:
    It's not a theory. If you believe it's a theory, then you have misunderstood it.
    It might be more easy for you to accept if you consider 'not-self', rather than no self'...'

    It helped me get through the initial confusion. It's weird though because of how Buddhists have so often used the word "self".

    I thought those terms could be interchangeable for the longest time but they are two distinct teachings. The term "self" is used differently between "not-self" and "no-self".

    The former is the sense of individuality or the essence of a person/being. No matter what form we focus on , it is not us, not me, not mine. It doesn't mean the individual isn't really here but that we look with what we look for. The latter uses "self" as in permanent and separate and of course seperation is the illusion, not our being here.

    The way the teachings are often interpreted makes it confusing.

    I like the rope and snake analogy. When we think we see a snake but it turns out to be a rope. The rope is the individual and the snake is seperation and permanence. It doesn't mean the rope doesn't exist, it means it has been misrepresented and misunderstood. When we see it is a rope, we have a good laugh.

    lobster
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