time to switch to other practices?

Front Page Forums Meditation time to switch to other practices?

This topic contains 33 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Julian S 4 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 34 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #2374

    ST1000
    Member

    hi all – after a day or two of the gratitude practice and noticing a big shift in mood towards the positive – symptoms of the energy imbalance came back for me, i.e. not sleeping well, periods of agitation/anxiety. Its ‘s though the whole system got a shot of dopamine from the gratitude that felt good but I couldn’t handle because of the state of the mind/body.

    Still only doing 20 minutes, but going to go back to compassion practices as I still sleep decent when I do them. Can this energy imbalance last a long time? Does the mind/body eventually get past the imbalance? It seems as though as soon as I start increasing meditation again or go back to TMI it will come back full force. Does the mind/body eventually evolve past the imbalance? I would love to continue the gratitude practice because I think it has the potential for great benefit for me but it doesn’t seem like the right practice right now unfortunately.

    I know its not good to strive after the significant balance and ease that I have felt not too long ago, but it is a difficult time when there is significant dis-ease and practice generally makes it worse.

    Thank you so much.

    #2377

    Michael Dunn
    Member

    ST1000

    In response to your latest query, on top of all that has been said in this thread, I would suggest that if your mind/body system are out of balance, then you should work with off-the-cushion solutions to bring about balance and ease once again. Meditation can be a window into the dis-ease but may not be the cure.

    Please explore a comprehensive approach to restoring balance to your overall system. You are your own best guide in times like this as your condition may well be unique to you. You though have all the tools to understand your system and bring it back to balance. Keep exploring, trying things out. Keep what heals and stop that which makes it worse.

    Through this exploration, you will learn a lot about your subtle body and mind and what is required for balance that will serve you the rest of your life and meditation practice.

    Yes, it can stop, yes you can find balance again, but there may not be a single simple solution and I propose that you may be the best person to know the prescription.

    Regards,

    Michael
    DT Teacher in training

    #2378

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    Hi ST1000,

    As you are seeing, practices can be cumulative and most any spiritual practice can increase the energy flow and lead to imbalances for those that are sensitive.

    Some people work through the energy imbalances, and it stops being an issue. For others it can go on for long periods of time. The spiritual path can often be difficult.

    There are a couple of things that might help. Try resting for 5-10 minutes after your meditation without doing any sort of technique before getting up and going about your day. This can help the energy smooth out.

    Physical exercise can also help after meditation. This can be as simple as a brisk walk, or something more intense if you are capable.

    I also recommend working with acceptance. This is what the path is like for you right now. Try to realize that the energy is really just body sensations that won’t hurt you. Notice the sensations with mindfulness, and particularly notice your resistance to them. This resistance can be thoughts, or additional emotions (more body sensations). Mindfulness is one of the most important skills that you can develop.

    If your daily life and sleep is disrupted you might need to cut back even further on your practices until you find a level that allows you to function.

    Please keep us informed,
    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #2379

    ST1000
    Member

    hi all,

    I would like to thank everyone so very much for the collective wisdom. It has been a difficult time and the way forward has not been clear.

    I have noticed that two days of walking has improved the feelings of imbalance. For me the energy imbalance has manifested itself as agitation and irritability well above baseline as well as periodic insomnia. Strong energy currents occur for me at times but not always.

    Thank you again all so much. I will continue to experiment with what works for me – for now it appears continuing a decreased sitting schedule, spinal breathing, exercise, and heart based practices are all helpful.

    I felt so much better after walking in the morning yesterday that I am hopeful that I can go back to TMI in a few weeks or months.

    In the meantime I will continue to work with acceptance and letting be/letting go – I think that I have been striving to get back to feeling great again and resistant to feeling so out of sorts. I felt that meditation got me into this imbalance so I was trying to find a way to meditate out of it. Striving to get back to where I was has been the modus operandi – rather than non judgmental awareness of where I am currently.

    Is there a way to donate to the community or to Blake to support what everyone is doing here?

    Steve

    #2380

    Hi Steve,

    I often am not yet at a level of knowledge and experience to answer questions that are posted on the Dharma Treasure Community. This question is one that I can answer. You can donate via PayPal or by mailing a check. Please look at: https://dharmatreasure.org/pleasedonate/ for additional information.

    Blake and Michael are wonderful resources. I benefit very much from reading their responses to questions that others ask. Thank you for your involvement with Dharma Treasure.

    Colleen Vaughn, Dharma Treasure Teacher in Training.

    #2383

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the follow up. It is helpful to the entire community when members share their experience of things that do and do not help. We are all slightly different, and we respond differently to different practices.

    If you wish to donate to an individual teacher you can send them a private message through this forum to set up the details. If you click on a person’s name you will be taken to her/his profile where there is a private message option.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #2652

    ST1000
    Member

    hello all,

    I wanted to update the group in case what I have found could be helpful for others.

    To summarize earlier posts, I have had significant energy imbalance/blockages after doing a fair amount ofTMI and after having purifications. This process was directly affecting my life off the cushion and seemed to be definitely exacerbated by practice, so in November of last year I cut my meditation down from an hour to about 20 minutes a day and started doing mostly choiceless awareness practice very gently. The deeper I got in meditation even during that time, the worse I felt.

    For the past few months since I decreased my practice, I continued to have predominant feelings of dis-ease, non restful sleep, contractions of face, neck, and chest off the cushion, and occasionally energy currents up the spine.

    I did my best to apply mindfulness to it and realized that my thoughts about what was happening and my aversion to it – and grasping to feel great again – were definitely increasing my suffering.

    I did my best to surrender to it and have compassion for myself during this difficult time. I have been working very hard which made it even more difficult.

    Then after going to a compassion workshop I realized that surrendering to it didn’t mean I couldn’t find ways to work with what was happening – the compassionate response in this case might be to try other methods to work with this process.

    So I ended up seeing a Buddhist Tai Chi/Kung Fu master and acupuncturist that is about an hour away from me.

    I went to a Tai Chi class and afterwords he checked my energy and said it was very strong but stuck in my head. He didn’t have time for a full session but he did a brief energy healing Reiki type healing (no contact) – About 2 days later I felt better than I had in months. I was relaxed and felt in balance and a sense of ease. A week later I went back for acupuncture and had powerful effects from it – there was some ups and downs since acupuncture but overall better. I haven’t had any of the contractions of face, neck, chest off the cushion and haven’t had any feeling totally out of balance and bad since I have seen this teacher.

    I bought a medical Qigong DVD and books that are based on the acupuncture meridians and am going to start daily practice as soon as I get them.

    Interestingly and not surprisingly this teacher feels that is essential to include practices to work with all of this energy when teaching practices that can generate energy. I remember Upasaka Culadasa mentioned in TMI that one might need to find ways to work with the energy such as Tai Chi, Qigong, or yoga if more intense manifestations arise.

    So I go back to acupuncture this Saturday again and will start the Qigong and see what happens.

    I know I have to find the balance between accepting where I am without aversion and grasping yet at the same time working with practices that can produce positive effects – and not getting caught up in these positive effects when they occur.

    Thank you all.

    Steve

    #2653

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for sharing this information. Slowly we will build a database of things that seem to work. I like your thoughts on self compassion and acceptance.

    I now recall that I once did a meditation retreat where Qigong was offered and it was a smooth retreat in terms of energy balance.

    I have thought about acupuncture, but have never tried it. I may give it a go.

    Please keep us informed of your further explorations.

    Thanks,
    Blake – DT teacher

    #2662

    Julian S
    Member

    Hi Steve, I have been following this thread with interest, thanks for the update. I practiced Tai Chi and Qigong here in New Zealand for four years and when I stopped (due to a whiplash injury) I noticed a sudden increase in convulsive pıti. Coincidence perhaps, but I have always found the possibility they’re connected very compelling. Your update adds another data point. I am currently receiving acupuncture but it’s Western style, not the traditional Five Elements constitution style. I will be interested in any further reports you can give us.

    Some questions (forgive me if you have already answered them earlier) about the pıti you’ve been experiencing: you mention off the cushion contractions (of face etc). I presume that these also occur at times during sitting meditation? If (during sitting) you shift your intention away from attending to the breath, and towards ceasing the contractive movements, do they cease easily and quickly? Off the cushion, do these movements persist for seconds, minutes or longer? Again, can you bring them under control through intention (which may involve conscious relaxation for example) or are they spontaneous and uncontrollable? I just want to be sure there isn’t some more physiological / less subtle reason for the contractions.

    In addition to the compassion and understanding you are developing, I would encourage you to work with mindfulness in daily life. It has helped me to have less distinction between “normal life” and “meditating”, which in turn can take some of the shenpa out of the path. Mindful Review (in the TMI appendices) can be very helpful here. But I would probably start by trying to notice when the sense of being a separate self is very strong in daily life, vs when it is weaker. Ask yourself how strong it is from time to time throughout the day, and then ask yourself “how do I *know* that it is strong (or weak)?”. Remember that all experience consists of either sensations or mental activity – that’s all we have. What combination of sensations and mental activity makes up that sense of being a small “I”? What combination makes up grasping and aversion?

    This can really help with equanimity towards these sankara. At least that is what I have found in my own experience.

    There are other daily life practices aside from the one I describe, e.g. on the spot metta /compassion. I have seen the HEAL method mentioned in this thread and others and am curious about it, do you have any links to further information on that?

    All the best with your learning, keep us posted if you can.

    Julian (teacher in training)

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  Julian S.
    #2665

    Eric
    Member

    Hey Steve,

    If there is an unresolved emotional component to your energy imbalance, you may want to check out EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique aka tapping). Like acupuncture it is meridian based and meant to remove energy blockages. Although it would be helpful you don’t need a trained therapist and can self facilitate it. The technique is easy to learn (you can find instructions on youtube). However a skilled therapist will most likely hone in on the underlying trigger and help resolve it more quickly. That is really the key… finding the underlying cause (as well as being open to the technique) as there may be layers to get thru to uncover that underlying cause. My wife is a therapist and this is one of her go to techniques when there is an underlying emotional component to any issue. I brought my wife in to some groups and we group tapped (studies have shown that you can tap for other people…so the group all tap on one persons stuff). I was amazed at how the technique released old deeply held patterns in my friends. Some had no idea they were still carrying around their old stuff.

    mucho metta,

    eric

    #2690

    ST1000
    Member

    hi all,

    Thank you everyone for your thoughts.

    Julian – the contractions of face, neck, or chest would last seconds and could occur in daily life – sometimes triggered by a circumstance that triggers a strong emotion sometimes not, and sometimes when I would settle in meditation. I believe I could always override them if I wished on and off the cushion. Less commonly I would get energy currents (lasting a second or two – many in short succession) up the spine off the cushion.

    I will definitely start looking into what sensations and mental activity makes up a weaker or stronger sense of self and what makes up grasping and aversion – thank you.

    You had asked about the HEAL method – this was a post on reddit that introduced it to me. I have not practiced it much. I have read the book “Hardwiring Happiness” by Rick Hanson that describes it.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMindIlluminated/comments/6kn0ch/practices_outside_of_tmi_methodology_which/?st=jem5v4ej&sh=aec50702

    Eric – that is interesting – I just bought a book on Dragon and Tiger Medical Qigong which is based on acupuncture meridians and it has tapping along the acupuncture meridians as one of the exercises. Very interesting. how did you know they released old emotional stuff? Did it come out as mental content? Thank you.

    All of this stuff is really a mystery to me, i.e., what exactly happened to me that changed me so much and drastically changed how the practices affect me? I know it was a change in energy, but what exactly? I know I likely will never know.

    I had my 3rd acupuncture session and tai chi/chi gung class today. I feel that for me having access to a systematic and time tested methods and practices to deal with the energy of the body is invaluable. I am not sure I am doing the right things now but it feels right for now – I had to do something as I felt so poorly. As the teacher in the compassion workshop said, “If you have a chance to relieve suffering, you do it”

    I have had essentially none of these less pleasant manifestations since starting acupuncture/tai chi/chi gung. I can now settle the mind and body again without feeling very badly and out of sorts afterwords. I haven’t done yoga in months because even gentle yoga for 30 minutes would lead to days of feeling badly even though it used to be a go to practice. I may try it again soon.

    I have a retreat based on the teachings of Sayadaw U Tejaniya in early May which is a very different practice than TMI – for the foreseeable future I am going to not do TMI but maybe I will someday in the future.

    It is quite an interesting path we are all on.

    All the best.

    Steve

    #2692

    Julian S
    Member

    Hi Steve,

    There is certainly a lot we don’t know about the mechanism behind energy currents and meridians. The understanding I have from speaking with others (I haven’t investigated to any great depth myself), is that systems like kundalini yoga and Taoism / qi gong have far more sophisticated ways of working with, directing and storing these “energies” than does TMI or most flavours of Buddhism, which tend to lump it all as pıti (with a few grades) and instruct practitioners to “merely” develop equanimity with it. That’s not to say one approach is better than the other, just that it’s something of an open question. Certainly, my own experience with pranayama and qi gong, and anecdotes from others, would indicate that a degree of energy work in one’s background makes it easier to detect subtle sensations (such as in TMI style Stage 5/6 or the Goenka body scan).

    One system of vipassana that is doing some things along those lines is the Thai lineage of Ajahn Tong, who was one of Mahasi Sayadaw’s students. Several mnasteries in Chiang Mai teach this style, which incorporates touching the mind on up to 28 “touching points” in sequence. These points coincide with various acupuncture points, according to the monk I learned under at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. Students are introduced to them one at a time over the course of a retreat. For me, it was doing one of these retreats in 2009 that coincided with me first detecting subtle sensations. If you’re already experiencing energy flows then presumably you are “past” this point, but it is an interesting coincidence nonetheless.

    It’s worth reiterating, though, that the underlying mechanism for these energy currents / pıti / prana / chi is still unknown. The natural intuition of course is that they are located in the body somewhere, but there has actually been no success finding a testable phenomena that coincides with them. Of course, very little science funding has been dedicated to it 🙂 however, I believe Culadasa considers them to be in fact mind generated. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t real, in the same sense that thoughts and emotions are real. But simply that they may not have a physical correlate, or if they do, it quite possibly may exist in the interaction between neurons in the brain’s somatic “maps” (the somatosensory cortex). From the work I’ve done on chronic pain, which also implicates a strong somatosensory component, I find this theory quite plausible.

    It’s all food for thought, of course, which will only take one so far 🙂

    All the best with your continued explorations, we welcome any further updates you wish to share.

    Best wishes,
    Julian

    #2714

    Eric
    Member

    “Eric – that is interesting – I just bought a book on Dragon and Tiger Medical Qigong which is based on acupuncture meridians and it has tapping along the acupuncture meridians as one of the exercises. Very interesting. how did you know they released old emotional stuff? Did it come out as mental content?”

    Yes the stuff came up as thought content (memories) and emotional energy in the body. That is how the technique works, you start to drill down or uncover layers of stuff. You keep going until you either resolve the current layer to a satisfying degree or eliminate it. Or you keep going uncovering more layers till you get to the root and resolve it. It can happen in a session or take many sessions (if it’s old and deep it usually isn’t cleared in a session). My wife uses it daily to let go off stuff from the day…like brushing her teeth.

    mucho metta,

    eric

    #2730

    ST1000
    Member

    hi all,

    Oh boy not another “time to switch to other practices” post 🙂

    Wow thank you Eric that is very interesting.

    So I have had 3 acupuncture sessions and each day the day afterwords I have intense sadness/crying for some time. While I do have some things going on, this has not happened outside of acupuncture or retreat setting in recent memory. It felt a lot like a purification – intense emotion of sadness/crying with a lot of memories that I could think of came that were sad came to mind.

    The tai chi master gave me a breathing exercise to do – brief (not comprehensive) description – you breath in for 3 breaths, hold for 6 seconds, and breath out for 6 breaths. During this time you put your attention on different acupuncture points on the body – at first he told me to just do one point in the center of the foot – left than right, then center of hands left than right, then dan tien, then umbilicus. Then he added more points on the midline once I got used to those. You try to tense that area and “pull” on the inhale, keep pulling while holding, and then relax and “push” on the exhale.

    What I noticed almost immediately is that when I breathed in and was focusing on my hand is that I could feel the breath easily in other parts of my body – i.e., both feet.

    I also noticed that I generally felt much better afterwords and when I spoke to him about it he mentioned that of course it is not just a concentration exercise but gets chi moving.

    I haven’t done TMI in a while but it is interesting to me regarding how this is similar – though of course at the same time very different – to stage 5 practice.

    Just wanted to share this with everyone in case it could help.

    All the best to everyone.

    Steve

    #2731

    ST1000
    Member

    sorry a correction – breathe in and out in 3 part breath – and hold for 6 seconds.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 34 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.