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bewildered bewildered

WinklepickerWinklepicker earth New
edited August 2016 in Buddhism Basics

Im currently reading Stephen Levine's book "A year to live". Theres a section about noting mind states. It says to sit for 5 minutes and you will probably notice about 12 but with practice you will notice hundreds. Not sure whats going on in my head but I barely notice even one "bewildered bewildered".
I meditate daily but I really don't feel that things are becoming clearer or that Im beginning to "see things as they are". My mind usually just feels like a vague dull blob and I feel unhappy a lot.
Sometimes I notice anxiety because its quite an obvious one when the heart races etc but most of the time I don't notice much at all. Is it possible that I don't have any mind states sometimes? That Im neutral? "confusion confusion"

Its the same with body sensations for me. I barely notice anything at all except an itch or a twitch. Books and people say to to keep trying and that you will feel something in the body part being focused on because there is something there but that I can't feel it because Im just not focused enough. But I have been trying for a long time and nothing is changing. Most of the time if I do a body scan I get lost in thought so many times that it feels like I will never finish. I have tried doing the Goenka vipassana body scan i.e. scanning over the body in tiny portions but I gave up because I found it virtually impossible and so painfully boring that I just couldn't stand it any longer.

I feel I need some progress with this stuff otherwise it all feels a bit futile. But then all the material says you have to let go and not want to get anywhere! "frustrated frustrated"

Comments

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    "Things as they are" will not be jumping out of the mist and grandly revealing themselves to you. Lack of this doesn't mean meditation isn't working. Different mindset, different timescale, different perspective (mostly retrospective). Keep at it. It's like the sun going down, the light fading, and then before you realize it, the stars are there. Really they were the all along, but you needed your vision recalibrated. Meditation will do that for your perception, but not until all the mental chatter quiets down.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    If you're having a hard time connecting to yourself maybe getting into a meditative movement practice like tai chi or qi gong or some forms of yoga would help.

    lobsterFosdickpegembaraSwaroop
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Winklepicker amazing things can happen when one watches the breath, however you might first need help with taming the monkey mind

  • But its not like Im a beginner. Ive been doing this for over 10 years but still feels like not much different. Surely the "mental chatter" "monkey mind" would be tamed a little bit by now?

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    @Winklepicker said

    My mind usually just feels like a vague dull blob and I feel unhappy a lot.

    This sounds very familiar to me, I think I used to experience it quite a bit, especially after meditation. It seemed different from "monkey mind" and more akin to sloth and torpor, though that doesn't seem like a perfect match either.

    In any case, it seemed to me to arise from the absence of two particular factors of enlightenment as discussed in the Satthipathana Sutta - joy and energy. Perhaps meditation and reflection on those factors would be helpful?

    I experienced this kind of blah mental state off and on for years until I belatedly figured out that if joy and energy are ever experienced, they can be remembered, and if remembered they can be deliberately and consciously invoked in circumstances other than those which gave rise to them originally.

    lobsterBunkspersonKerome
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited August 2016

    @Winklepicker said: Im currently reading Stephen Levine's book "A year to live". Theres a section about noting mind states. It says to sit for 5 minutes and you will probably notice about 12 but with practice you will notice hundreds.

    Mind state is continually changing, but it takes some experience to notice this. Noting can be helpful but it is easy to get caught up in the words and miss the feelings they are pointing to.

    You might find it helpful to focus on mindfulness of the body initially, this has a grounding effect and is a good foundation for mindfulness of mental objects.

    A lot of people work with the breath, what I normally use is the bodily sensation of pressure due to weight/gravity, which changes according to posture and movement. This is coarser than the breath, and perhaps easier to work with. I get bored with body scans, so they don't work for me. It isn't one size fits all, so explore different approaches and be creative.

    So, keep it simple, go back to basics, and find something that works for you.

  • @Fosdick said:
    ... until I belatedly figured out that if joy and energy are ever experienced, they can be remembered, and if remembered they can be deliberately and consciously invoked in circumstances other than those which gave rise to them originally.

    Good insight. In the shrine building dharma community, it is not uncommon to use external objects of association.
    So for example a flower or peace [sic] of Nature - preferably Buddha Nature. ;)

    A favourite monk or teacher, a book, a slide show of Bodhisattvas on our phone or tablet. In other words we build up calm, peace, euphoria until it becomes a habitual base.

    @Winklepicker said:
    But then all the material says you have to let go and not want to get anywhere!

    First you have to be somewhere to get nowhere. o:) [I iz so New Agey] Might as well be less dukkha filled ....

  • 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 often find meditating aimlessly, is better than meditating 'aimfully'. (Not a word, but it is now....)
    Sometimes when the cares of the world are weighing heavily on my shoulders; I'm fed up, feeling down, looking on the dull side.... I sit. I don't even examine the feelings. I don't consider 'where they are'. I don't break them down, dissect them, scrutinise them, analyse them or actually, even give a damn about them.
    They're familiar to me. They have been for a while, (say a decade or so) and they intensify or dissipate, according to whatever else is going on. So I don't need to think, "What is this? How shall I label this sensation? What name can I give this feeling?"

    Fukkit.
    I just sit. I slump, adopt probably completely the wrong posture, and I just - sit. I breathe. I control the flow of thinking, and shut it the hell up, because I'm not interested in thinking, or even 'watching the thoughts'. I just try to blank, and just sit.

    When I get up, maybe minutes later, maybe a half hour later, I feel good. well, mostly, ok. Stable. Ready. And on we go.

    I think this 'fukkit' session keeps me on an even keel. And really, that's what you want, isn't it? An even keel, to cut through the water, and sail you across from one side to the other....?

    BunkslobsterFosdickRuddyDuck9
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    I agree with @federica , the "fukkit" session is really useful. I usually get into such a session by quoting to myself "sitting quietly, doing nothing" and then doing just that. It is very relaxing, there is no straining after anything, the cobwebs are swept away and the spiders of discontent go elsewhere.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited August 2016

    That's nice, but is it anything to do with what the OP actually asked? I don't think it is.

  • 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

    For my part? Yes. I think we Buddhists sometimes fall into the trap of over-thinking things, and being guided into believing that if * this* or * that * aren't happening, then we're doing something wrong.

    FosdickRuddyDuck9
  • Too many assumptions.

  • 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

    from whom - ? Me...?

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    If straining to focus does not work, try unfocusing - this seems to me germane to the issue. Surely there is a middle way in there somewhere, but if we don't experience something close to the extremes, how can the middle be found?

  • @federica said:
    from whom - ? Me...?

    Yes. Most of the replies in this thread are nothing much to do with the OP.

  • 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

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @federica said:
    from whom - ? Me...?

    Yes. Most of the replies in this thread are nothing much to do with the OP.

    Insofar as my response is concerned, I think I'm on topic.

    @Winklepicker said:
    Im currently reading Stephen Levine's book "A year to live". Theres a section about noting mind states. It says to sit for 5 minutes and you will probably notice about 12 but with practice you will notice hundreds. ** Not sure whats going on in my head but I barely notice even one "bewildered bewildered".
    **I meditate daily but I really don't feel that things are becoming clearer or that Im beginning to "see things as they are"
    . My mind usually just feels like a vague dull blob and I feel unhappy a lot.
    Sometimes I notice anxiety because its quite an obvious one when the heart races etc but most of the time I don't notice much at all. ** Is it possible that I don't have any mind states sometimes? That Im neutral? "confusion confusion"**

    Its the same with body sensations for me. I barely notice anything at all except an itch or a twitch. Books and people say to to keep trying and that you will feel something in the body part being focused on because there is something there but that I can't feel it because Im just not focused enough. But I have been trying for a long time and nothing is changing. Most of the time if I do a body scan I get lost in thought so many times that it feels like I will never finish. I have tried doing the Goenka vipassana body scan i.e. scanning over the body in tiny portions but I gave up because I found it virtually impossible and so painfully boring that I just couldn't stand it any longer.

    I feel I need some progress with this stuff otherwise it all feels a bit futile. But then all the material says you have to let go and not want to get anywhere! "frustrated frustrated"

    Where have I made 'too many assumptions'...?

  • Sometimes I notice anxiety because its quite an obvious one when the heart races etc but most of the time I don't notice much at all.

    Welcome to samsara and NewBuddhist B) <3

    I would suggest that a 'noting' practice is quite innapropriate if drifting off (lack of focus) and not aware of feelings, arisings etc.
    What kind of practice do you feel would be a possible help to you?

    RuddyDuck9
  • A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last Paperback – April 14, 1998
    by Stephen Levine

    Levine decided to live this way himself for a whole year, and now he shares with us how such immediacy radically changes our view of the world and forces us to examine our priorities. Most of us go to extraordinary lengths to ignore, laugh off, or deny the fact that we are going to die, but preparing for death is one of the most rational and rewarding acts of a lifetime. It is an exercise that gives us the opportunity to deal with unfinished business and enter into a new and vibrant relationship with life. Levine provides us with a year-long program of intensely practical strategies and powerful guided meditations to help with this work, so that whenever the ultimate moment does arrive for each of us, we will not feel that it has come

    Ancient wisdom in today's world.

    The Blessed One said, "Mindfulness of death, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. Therefore you should develop mindfulness of death."

    When this was said, the Blessed One addressed the monks. "Whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for a day & night... for a day... for the interval that it takes to eat a meal... for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' — they are said to dwell heedlessly. They develop mindfulness of death slowly for the sake of ending the effluents.

    "But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food... for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' — they are said to dwell heedfully. They develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.

    "Therefore you should train yourselves: 'We will dwell heedfully. We will develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.' That is how you should train yourselves."

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.019.than.html

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Winklepicker said:
    I meditate daily but I really don't feel that things are becoming clearer or that Im beginning to "see things as they are". My mind usually just feels like a vague dull blob and I feel unhappy a lot.

    It really depends where you put your energy in meditation. I found things changed for me when I started to read about Right Effort and the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. If you approach meditation as 'sitting without desire', it is difficult to come to a state of insight, and you can have sloth-torpor, one of the Five Hindrances, becoming a barrier to going deeper. This can happen even though at the surface of the mind everything seems fine and easy, it's just that nothing happens.

    Sometimes I notice anxiety because its quite an obvious one when the heart races etc but most of the time I don't notice much at all. Is it possible that I don't have any mind states sometimes? That Im neutral? "confusion confusion"

    Just another one of the five hindrances. The feeling of being neutral I also had, and for me it was much related to not focussing desire and concentration correctly, of being so relaxed that important information was just being let-go and dropped.

    I feel I need some progress with this stuff otherwise it all feels a bit futile. But then all the material says you have to let go and not want to get anywhere! "frustrated frustrated"

    There are different forms of meditation. The let-go style of free-floating meditation is very relaxing but doesn't always produce results, in my experience it depends a lot on your interior configuration, to what extent things are allowed to percolate up from your deeper sources, how knotted-up you are internally.

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

    A man said to his doctor, "It hurts when I do this."
    And the doctor replied, "Well, don't do that."

    If something doesn't work, forgetaboutit ... see how that works.

    rohitlobsterWalker
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