Author Topic: Starting Meditation Practice  (Read 5282 times)

Wombat

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Starting Meditation Practice
« on: December 29, 2018, 12:42:24 PM »
I have started a new meditation practice of TM 30 minutes followed by 15 minutes metta in the mornings, 30 minutes Do Nothing in the evening.

The original purpose was to be able to connect with others more successfully in social situations, so I don't have to drink alcohol. Additionally, uncovering a sense of what I want and being able to successfully complete tasks rather than avoiding them is another goal of mine.

From just this morning's meditations I have discovered that contrary to thinking I would find it hard to generate feelings of love in metta, they are actually rather straight for me. However, I close off to them very quickly because I seem to think they are "weak". Upon thinking about this a bit more, it would seem that others see these feelings of love in me, however, I seem to have developed this closed nature to them because it almost feels like people take advantage of me or give me shit because of them. I have not yet developed the capacity to keep these feelings "open" as a heat sink on social situations and so I close them off.

It is interesting to note that alcohol makes me feel like these feelings are heightened or almost more open, but past a certain amount, brings out the exact opposite feeling i.e. a shadowy, dark feeling.

Instantly, I was reminded of the Jungian concept of integration of shadow and wondering about how I might go about this so I can develop this openness more in everyday life, but also have the strength behind it to not feel the need to close off when I feel like someone is mistaking this love or openness for weakness.

Overall, it is interesting to see the realisations that one session brings and will be great to see how this program pans out over the course of a few months.

saturnus

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2018, 10:05:34 PM »
Regarding weakness and love, I find that we are culturally and experientially conditioned to mix in feelings of grief and/or desire with love, and that is what adds the weak quality to love.

I find with metta practice, one of the biggest blocks to the full manifestation of love (agape), are these feelings of grief and desire. I find that one needs to sit with them and "burn through" them to get closer to pure agape.

For example, metta meditation might bring back memories with an ex, and that might be painful and sad. But your feelings of love are mixed in with those sad feelings and you need to sit through them and let your mind work through them.

Illuminatus

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2018, 04:01:35 PM »
I enjoyed reading your log; it sounds like you are already making progress!

From just this morning's meditations I have discovered that contrary to thinking I would find it hard to generate feelings of love in metta, they are actually rather straight for me. However, I close off to them very quickly because I seem to think they are "weak".

I have a few thoughts about this.

1) Relating directly to the above quote, this is a potential avenue for developing CONCENTRATION. So, a big part of concentration is "staying with the object whether you like it or not". So in this case you would stay with the love feeling despite having egoic or intellectual conflicts with it, for the sake of:
- The practice
- Curiosity / seeing where it goes
- Possibility of jhana through staying with the love feeling

For me personally my concentration practice developed strongly after I realized staying with pleasant sensations was nicer than not, despite what my verbal thoughts had to say on the matter.

2) The "love = weakness" meme seems almost universal amongst Western men (possibly all men worldwide?). I have heard stories however that men drop this guard once they see their firstborn child (Paul Stanley of all people mentioned it in his audio book; Russell Brand also dedicated part of his latest show to it).

I myself had a strong aversion to metta due to "love = weakness" which is why I never seriously attempted it until this year. The main thing that changed my mind was that I simply tried every other method in the whole world and none of them fixed my relationships with other humans. Metta did.

So you have the possibility here of simply taking it on advice that this is something worth doing, sooner rather than later, and taking it as an article of faith, rather than wasting time crossing everything else off your list.

3) Will "love = weakness" survive a 30-day experiment? Or even a 7-day experiment? Practise metta each morning and give yourself to it as much as you can. Log in your daily journal any instance of your being taken advantage of by other people following the practice. I am guessing that after 7 days you will have precisely zero log entries indicating that this actually happened. But the experiment is worth doing for your own peace of mind.

Wombat

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2019, 01:12:18 PM »
Quote
I find with metta practice, one of the biggest blocks to the full manifestation of love (agape), are these feelings of grief and desire. I find that one needs to sit with them and "burn through" them to get closer to pure agape.

Yes, I think this might be true. Have already noticed it a fair amount when sitting through negative emotions during my 30 minute TM session.

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For me personally my concentration practice developed strongly after I realized staying with pleasant sensations was nicer than not, despite what my verbal thoughts had to say on the matter.

Also agree. This morning I came to the realisation that despite not *wanting* to do 30 minutes with 100% of my heart and soul, I am far better off doing it, and the slight mental discomfort it creates is completely outweighed by the positives I experience afterward.

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So you have the possibility here of simply taking it on advice that this is something worth doing, sooner rather than later, and taking it as an article of faith, rather than wasting time crossing everything else off your list.

It's interesting. I think the love=weakness thought perpetuates a lot of the *one-upping* that goes on at parties etc. During this morning's metta practice, I noticed that I have almost the exact same feeling when I consciously apply metta to someone I dislike, as I do when someone delivers a particularly hard blow in a group setting. It was a very interesting realisation and it is the process of sinking in to that feeling more that gets me through the metta practice, rather than just saying "fuck this!", getting up and going about my day.

----

Yesterday and this morning's practices were really good. Yesterday I noticed that I could write on a single subject for a lot longer and with a lot more clarity directly after TM. I also decided not to drink on New Year's Eve and was much more aware of how my emotions were playing out in response to the events of the evening. I was able to let nervousness at the beginning just take its course, not think too much throughout, better at listening etc. Also many more feelings of "what can I give to these people" rather than, "how can I be funny etc.".



Illuminatus

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2019, 04:44:40 PM »
It's interesting. I think the love=weakness thought perpetuates a lot of the *one-upping* that goes on at parties etc. During this morning's metta practice, I noticed that I have almost the exact same feeling when I consciously apply metta to someone I dislike, as I do when someone delivers a particularly hard blow in a group setting.

The endgame of this practice is, that when they do that sort of thing, you have this bizarre phenomenon in which you notice that the intelligence which animates their skin is the same which animates yours. They ARE you. And then you can never be one-upped again.

It is experiences such as these that keep me highly engaged with and invested in meditation. It's just so mind-blowing and fascinating; I absolutely love it.

Wombat

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2019, 09:18:21 AM »
Do nothing meditation was interesting - it is strange in that it literally feels like I *do nothing*  ;) but then I have to comment on the fact that I am up and awake on time, writing this log, which is not something I would normally be doing. I would always find an excuse to fall back to sleep.

TM this morning was also good. I am concentrating a lot on career progression at the moment and trying to find something that actually suits me. Just like TM has fairly quickly revealed quite a few a-ha thoughts about my personality, it is extraordinary to realise just how much of career-focused thoughts center on my family and their expectations of me.

I have long had a problem with indecision and choosing a direction to go in that feels *right* (read: good enough), and this morning has made me consider whether I actually know the answer to this, but am unable to actually move in that direction due to constantly being pulled in another one worrying, musing and overthinking what my family will say about it.

saturnus

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2019, 01:38:24 PM »
I have long had a problem with indecision and choosing a direction to go in that feels *right* (read: good enough)

Dude this is also my biggest problem and also my New Years resolution to fix this.

Carl Jung defined a number of cognitive functions in his book Psychological Types. MBTI personality typing is based on this book and imo is a bastardized version of the original text, because typing people is limiting.

Our problem is over relying on our perceptive (or irrational) functions which are sensation and intuition. Perceptive functions, especially intuition, want to open possibilities, while Judging functions want to close down possibilities.

Indecision comes from the perceptive function wanting to keep possibilities open. We need to close: Always Be Closing (HD) Alec Baldwin - YouTube

and this morning has made me consider whether I actually know the answer to this, but am unable to actually move in that direction due to constantly being pulled in another one worrying, musing and overthinking what my family will say about it.

You know the answer, and eventually have to do it at some point. Whenever you actually decide to go in that direction you are going to wish that you made that decision earlier.

If you still doubt whether the decision is right, remember this quote: Successful people donít make the right decisions, they make their decisions right.

Once you make that decision, you are going to be met with intense doubt from you family and friends. You gotta make that decision work for you and once they see the results they will be on your side. And then there are some who will envy and resent you for being happy, which is a great fucking way to filter shitty people out of your life.

This dude is fucking awesome, and by synchronicity posted this video recently: Ship it Ship it Ship it Ship it Ship it Ship it - YouTube

My New Years resolution is to get disciplined. I used to think that discipline is limiting and I will lose my freedom if I adhere to it. Now I recognize that lack of discipline is my limiting factor and probably my biggest block for moving forward. I always sensed that adhering to a strict schedule stifles my creativity. I am even willing to sacrifice my creativity to get this area handled. I very much doubt that my creativity will suffer from this. I waste so much time that I canít get my ideas past the ideation phase and actually create them, which is what creativity means: to fucking create.

I also know that once I internalize discipline, I can let the chaos back into my time, and dude thatís gonna be some insane shit.

I am low on sleep waiting in an airport for my flight. I hope I didnít ramble too much :)

Wombat

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2019, 09:14:35 PM »
Quote
Carl Jung defined a number of cognitive functions in his book Psychological Types. MBTI personality typing is based on this book and imo is a bastardized version of the original text, because typing people is limiting.

Yes I'm very familiar with this, I think typing people has a lot of value but is extremely nuanced and most people who write about it don't really understand it (I won't pretend to be an expert), therefore it gets a bad rap. But yes, coincidentally, I'm very high on the perceiving scale and on the "Big 5" I'm 99th percentile openness.

Makes intentional action quite hard as I experience FOMO fairly intensely!

However, I have in the past sought guidance from someone who is both very structured and a very good teacher. He was able to explain how to set things up in my life so that these structures almost channel my energy in constructive directions. It feels very restrictive at first, however.

I have been attempting to get these structures in place for around a year now (checked my journal this morning) and found that I repeatedly get stuck on trying to implement them. Feelings of extreme resistance and almost purposeful distraction.

Strangely enough, since I have started a consistent 30 minute TM practice, I find myself almost automatically carrying out these actions as if the TM has burned through the negative feelings that come up throughout the day.

Quote
You know the answer, and eventually have to do it at some point. Whenever you actually decide to go in that direction you are going to wish that you made that decision earlier.

Weird you should say this, and also evidence of synchronicity that you're looking to use structure and discipline to be creative as well. My project is writing.

----

This morning I had a much harder time of pushing through the 30 minutes. Still a lot of thoughts about my family's expectations of me etc. however again, I found the same thing to be true of my day. I look at my to-do list, and *just do* the things on it. As of now I've ticked off things I've been avoiding for over a month. Today I experienced the rare (for me) feeling of confronting and doing a load of tasks I'd been avoiding but which are very meaningful to my progression - the dopamine kick from this is incomparable to social media, cigarettes, mindless internet browsing or seeing a red notification on WhatsApp.

Metta-wise, I'm beginning to feel the feeling more now. I'm definitely opening up to it. During the day when I close off to it, I can actually feel it physically like a sink being plugged, it is a new feeling and strange to have awareness of.

Tonight, I am aiming to have my phone out of my room when I get into bed and do 30 minutes do nothing at a strict time: 10:30. Last night I slacked a bit, took my phone into bed and did the do nothing but only for about 15 minutes. Woke up tired and wondered why - another interesting side effect of TM is I don't question things incessantly. Usually my mind would almost purposefully skip the obvious answer because it was painful to acknowledge but now it's simply, "obviously you are tired because you took your phone to bed, so you went to bed later and you *also* didn't do 30 mins like usual". Before, that would have been painful to acknowledge. Today... it just is.

Wombat

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2019, 09:20:07 PM »
Would add to this: discipline and decisiveness are absolutely predicated on your ability to say no to things, and to not have them. For me, it seems like TM stops me identifying with the thoughts that come up and subsequent negative feelings when I explicitly realise I can't have everything or have to give something up I enjoy in service of something bigger.

Or maybe I'm growing up!

Illuminatus

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2019, 09:49:58 PM »
Great work, Wombat. Thanks for reporting.

Wombat

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2019, 12:49:39 PM »
Quote
Great work, Wombat. Thanks for reporting.

Thanks for teaching!

This morning's practice was good - again, quite interesting to have so many thoughts arise which I just burn through no matter how much I identify with them. This morning was about making "the right choice" about a girl, and as alluded to by Saturnus we always know the right answers to our questions, and TM seems to make it easier to sort out the clutter and get to the answer which was hidden in plain sight all along.

I tried Metta lying down this morning as after 30 minutes my right leg gets incredibly numb and uncomfortable - could a stool remedy this?

Finally, last night's Do Nothing was much more strict. At 1030 I just put my phone across the room, set a timer for 30 minutes and got to work. My mind actually "did nothing" relatively easily. So did my body. I found myself not necessarily sleepy, but not restless like usual.

Usually, I actually dread trying to go to sleep because I *know* I will spend minutes if not hours lying there, tossing and turning and gradually getting more and more frustrated about how I can't sleep. Do Nothing in complete contrast, relaxes me to the point where my body doesn't need to move and I don't care whether or not I'm asleep or not... because I'm so relaxed.

This then obviously makes it easier to fall asleep!

Illuminatus

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2019, 02:55:01 PM »
I tried Metta lying down this morning as after 30 minutes my right leg gets incredibly numb and uncomfortable - could a stool remedy this?

I do most of my formal meditation lying down, including metta.

I do a long vipassana session once per week sitting on a kneeling chair similar to this one:



I don't find it relaxing and I'm not sure whether to recommend it.

Wombat

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 12:17:00 PM »
This was a strange weekend for me - completely abstained from alcohol, worked on a side project, played guitar in a group & met new people. It felt a lot easier to do these things rather than just slip into going to the pub and doing nothing.

However, I still awoke feeling unrested each morning. I have a sneaking suspicion that meditating and not drinking is "un-numbing" parts of myself that are now trying to heal themselves in some way. I.e. I am just noticing how tired I am, rather than actually getting *more* tired.

The mornings for the last three days have been much harder to actually sit down and do the practice, I have found. Things are a lot easier when it's NDM before bed --> Sleep --> Get up --> No phone --> TM. If I add my phone into the mix anywhere on that path I seem to get distracted very easily and fall back into "I need to look up the solution for xyz problem...", when I already know what the solution is and simply need to implement it.

On a different note, I am finding that presence during conversation is improving, and that it seems tongue posture helps with this. Having my tongue properly positioned in my mouth, mouth closed, breathing through nose is a very different sensation to having it lolling around and breathing through my mouth - although the latter is much easier.

Illuminatus

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 01:31:48 PM »
Are you taking caffeine at all at any time of the day?

Cut caffeine entirely for four days and track whether sleep improves.

saturnus

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Re: Starting Meditation Practice
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2019, 04:05:50 PM »
I have a sneaking suspicion that meditating and not drinking is "un-numbing" parts of myself that are now trying to heal themselves in some way. I.e. I am just noticing how tired I am, rather than actually getting *more* tired.

I went through this exact experience when I started NDM. While uncomfortable, you are becoming aware of these things so your mind can dissolve them.