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Beginner looking for guidance!

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by paradoxenygma, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. paradoxenygma

    paradoxenygma Member

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    My journey began a few years ago with my first panic attack. It scared the hell out of me because I didn't know what it was. Since then I've had this persistent nagging anxiety that I can't seem to shake completely. It went away for a year or two and I felt like I was back to normal, only to return again when I stupidly started up an old bad habit of smoking pot. The two most anxious times in my life happened immediately after stopping smoking cold turkey. I think I've learned that lesson and have no desire to smoke pot ever again. I've avoided going to the doctor's in the fear of them putting me on medication. I had a bad experience at the beginning with a doctor who put me on medicine my body didn't agree with. It made me feel worse! It's sort of like putting your hand on a hot stove, and then having someone else tell you to do the same thing but expect a different result! I've seen therapists for anxiety and they pretty much tell me I'm doing all I need to in order to manage the condition, and say that I'm doing better than most in that regard. I'm very honest and tell them everything. I would hate to experience the anxiety of someone who is NOT managing it well! I've finally decided to face my fears and go see a new primary doctor, if not only to get passed the fear of it. Being scared of things is limiting my life. Leading up to my doctor's appointment, my anxiety has skyrocketed...leading to panic, restlessness, and horrible muscle tension. I know how to calm myself down during anxious times for the most part, but the thing that bothers me the most is this muscle tension down my neck, shoulders, and in my jaw. This also causes pretty nasty tension headaches. Even when I'm not anxious, the muscle tension doesn't allow me to relax and that in turn makes me anxious! It's a vicious cycle. I was even so bad at one point I was pretty agoraphobic and leaving the house was a difficult task, even for a short trip to the grocery store and such. If the muscle tension eased up, I really do feel like the anxiety would follow suit. It has in the past. I'm usually a pretty calm person, but this is interfering with my life.

    I recently started reading a lot about mindfulness and meditation in depth. I've tried meditation in the past, but I never stuck with it long enough to have any sort of impact. I've been using LifeFlow pretty regularly for the past few weeks. Everything I've read about mindfulness says you can't really go into it with the intentions of reducing your anxiety, it just sort of happens. If you put expectations into it, you can cloud your progress. That's a simple concept, yet pretty hard to do!


    Does anyone have any advice ? I'm obviously not in danger of dropping dead anytime soon, but being in a constant state of anxiety/tension is pretty uncomfortable and miserable. Any tips/pointers to guide me along the way would be GREATLY appreciated :)
     
  2. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    hi paradoxenygma

    Welcome to the forum:)

    Sympathies for the hard time you are having - may it's life be short, but full of insights for you.:rolleyes:

    You are quite right that looking for improvement of problems by using meditation is mostly counterproductive.

    It is also true that when our 'stuff' is on the surface meditating for too long can bring more up and make life even more difficult.

    How long are your sessions?
    How often - twice a day? 3 times a week?
    What meditation technique are you using along with the Lifeflow?
    After your meditation session do you feel better? worse? about the same?
    This info is useful to see where you are at.

    Meanwhile, you could get some objectivity with the following exercise:

    Get a pencil and paper and make 3 columns heading them NECK, SHOULDERS JAW

    Down the side write these areas of investigation

    Where is the pain (get exact locations - as near as you can)
    Is there an area of no pain (as near as you can)
    What colour is it (there is no right answer - just what seems to be to you)
    How heavy is it? ( again just your own estimate)
    Is it solid or is there movement in it.

    Draw a line under this section and repeat it twice more so you can have three goes at it.

    Start with the first section and investigate the neck fill in your observations in your own shorthand when you have finished the first section do the same for the shoulders and jaw.

    Go to the next section and do it all over again

    Do it for a third time.

    Review your investigation and see whether you wrote the same things down each time, slightly different, or markedly different. Again, there are no right answers here - there is only what you observe.

    If you have the time - repeat each day for a week - and compare the investigations day by day.

    It is possible that this will decrease the overall muscle tension as you start to see things have different characteristics rather than a continuous, tightening, painful solid block.

    Good luck and will wait for you meditation info;)
     
  3. paradoxenygma

    paradoxenygma Member

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    Meditation info

    I am meditating almost everyday now at least once, sometimes twice. I think my most stressful time is while I'm at work so I'll sit quietly at lunchtime with my headphones for about a half hour if I can. When I'm home I try to shoot for an hour. I notice that I'm much more relaxed at home in general than I am when at work.

    Right now I've just been focusing on breathing. I've been using belly breathing as a calming tool for anxiety, so I continue that in meditation. Ive actually found myself breathing correctly even when I'm not meditating, which is a plus. I'm usually a shallow mouth breather, hah.

    After a session of life flow, or even just progressive muscle relaxation, I often feel better. A lot calmer and more peaceful. It's hard for me to continue that feeling throughout the day though. I guess that's why they call it meditation "practice" :) I read alot about people getting strong anxious feelings arising during mediation, but that hasn't been the case for me for the most part.
     
  4. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    Sounds like good stuff to me.:)

    Keep it nice and gentle, have a loving heart towards those parts of the body that have difficult sensations.

    You are perfectly right when you say this is meditation 'practice' - we are all practising - it's a long journey.

    You can bring this practice into the rest of the day whenever there is an opportunity, even without headphones and Lifeflow.

    Whenever the mind is not busy with work, during a wait between tasks, in the supermarket queue, at red lights, while washing up, lying in a bath etc etc just be aware of your breath and the rise and fall of the belly. Two minutes here, three minutes there, they all add up and build a calm and peacefulness that begins to soften the tension in the body and the anxieties in the mind even when in a situation we would previously find stressful.

    This does take time, change will happen. You may not notice the gradualness of it, but one day you will realise you have coped differently with a situation you previously found overwhelmingly challenging. It's like visiting a small child you have not seen for some months and being amazed how much they have grown and matured, whereas those near to them have not been aware of the gradual change.

    Your obvious courage and resourcefulness are great assets in this adventure

    keep us posted
    peace and joy:)
    H
     
  5. paradoxenygma

    paradoxenygma Member

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    thank you

    thank you for all your kind words and encouragement. It is deeply appreciated! I take your words to heart. The analogy of the child growing up is perfect, and I never thought about it that way. I'm so wrapped up in my thoughts and actions that I don't see my own progress. If I were to take an objective step back and notice long term changes I would see a lot of leaps forward. I tend to be hard on myself, and therefore want things to change NOW! haha. I'm still working on my patience. It just kind of disappoints me when I look back at how I was before all this. When I was younger, I traveled to Australia from the US and was there for part of a summer. I didn't know anyone. I had a few hundred bucks and a suitcase. It was amazing. Now something as simple as shopping for groceries is an uncomfortable experience because of the anxious mind. I want to get back in tune with the person I used to be. I'm a musician in a band who has done some substantial things. It has been rough dealing with the stress of the band while dealing with my own personal anxiety. We are getting to the point where there's a possibility we may travel around the country to play. The idea of that makes me really excited, but also very scared. Its very bittersweet to have success in something you've worked hard at, but also at the same time be afraid of that very success and the responsibility it brings.

    On a side note, I did have my doctors appointment today. I was a nervous wreck, but I made it through in one piece. I just tried as much as possible to focus on breathing. My blood pressure was much lower than it usually is at the doctors, which is encouraging. I've had "white coat syndrome" for as long as I can remember, so getting a pretty normal reading during a time of high anxiety was amazing.

    Giving blood, on the other hand, didn't go so well. I almost passed out :p But I quickly recovered. Me and needles don't do well together. I'm assuming my blood work will come back all normal because it has in the past. I'm not too concerned with it, but I'm going to call the office next week to see what the results were just in case.

    I'm also being referred to physical therapy. My doctor thinks there may be a physical reason my shoulder/neck/jaw are perpetually tensed aside from the anxiety. Hopefully they could shed some light on the situation. I've never been to PT so this is something new for me.

    Aside from all that, I'm going to continue meditation and trying as much as possible to relax. ;) Aside from that I guess there's not much else I can do at this point.

    I'll definitely post updates on everything as it unfolds, as long as people are interested in hearing :)
     
  6. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    Hi again

    We are always glad to hear from you - its a friendly place here and we check in with all sorts of thoughts, friendly discussions, news, experiences.

    Just something that jumped out at me from your last post -

    'I want to get back in tune with the person I used to be'

    This can work against you in many ways.

    One way is that our memories are tricky things and it often embroiders the 'way we used to be'

    Another is this terrible trap of comparison against who we are versus the image of who we want to be, leading to continual dissatisfaction with 'what is'.

    Another thought to ponder is that your present situation has so many opportunities for learning and the difficult experiences you have already learned to deal with taught you so much, that who you are now is actually a much richer person than the one of years ago. It will have built a heart that can include more of the world and a readier compassion for others that is just waiting to show itself.;)

    I could go on and on - but enough already!!:D

    peace and joy:)
    H
     
  7. paradoxenygma

    paradoxenygma Member

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    update

    so the results are in...my lab work all came back completely normal. shocker, I know, lol.

    I've been feeling generally better since my last post. The areas of tension seem to be shrinking, which is awesome. I'm on the right track. Things aren't overwhelming as they were. I'm still meditating every day, and it seems to be helping me relax. I'm still working on thinking about things in a positive light, versus my normal pessimism. I think that's the toughest part. I have to go on a business trip to another state in a few days, and it's weighing on my mind, however its not as stressful as I thought it would be.

    I woke up this morning mid-dream, and it wasn't a good one! I woke up in an anxiety state due to the dream. Instead of instantly freaking out, I tried to accept the bodily feelings as they were. I just sat with them for a bit, and they went away pretty quickly. However, it kind of threw off my morning, and I haven't been able to shake it. I have been telling myself these are just anxious thoughts making their way to the surface of my mind via a dream. Emotional clearing so to speak :) So if I think about it in that way, it was a good type of anxiety :)

    I'm making progress, and that's all I ask for.
     
  8. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Yes you certainly are, you have had some awesome advice from HazelKay....and it’s beginning to pay off :)

    Dreams especially the one you describe can sometime be attributed to deeply hidden emotions.
    By using relaxation techniques, meditation and LifeFlow you have begun a journey of releasing these pent up emotions. The anxiety on waking suddenly was a defence mechanism, by allowing the anxiety to be and accepting the feelings you have released some or all of that buried emotion. By simply resting for a while, you actually allowed the emotion to seek freedom from in deep hiding place. It does throw your day off, but that is a small price to pay, accept the day and smile.

    You are a fellow traveller :)
     
  9. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Hi there Paradoxenygma, I'm so pleased to hear you are making progress and that your results came back good for you.

    There are some wonderful people in the community and you have certainly been given great advice from some of them. Although I have not suffered from Panic attacks, I have definately supressed emotions probably all my life. If you have heard of "The Great Pretender" by Elvis, looking back, I think I was "The Great Supressor" :) The big supressed emotions seem to always have surfaced through dreams which I have written about in a few posts over the past few years. Here's a link to one post:-

    http://www.project-meditation.org/community/having-problems/6001-first-time.html#post21462

    I hope it is of help and I wish you an abundance of peace and joy :) :) :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  10. paradoxenygma

    paradoxenygma Member

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    suppressed emotions

    Yes, the people in this forum are very helpful and very supportive. I am very grateful for that.

    I definitely think anxiety is a result of suppressed emotions to some part. I must have a lot of them! I consider myself a fine collector ;) I had another troubling dream this morning, and woke up extremely tired and a bit anxious. Sleep is exhausting :)

    In both dreams this week I had pretty vivid feelings of anxiety, and both were more physically intense than the anxiety I experience normally. That's probably why it effected me when I woke up. In one of the dreams, I was crying hysterically. I normally don't cry. Sometimes I get the urge to cry, but I can't for some reason. It's like there is a mental block there. A fear of letting go maybe? About two months ago I felt the anxiety coming back with a vengeance. It really scared me. I hadn't felt anxious like that in months, so I was overwhelmed by the idea of experiencing it again. I cried for like an hour straight. The only time I've ever cried like that was over the death of a family member. It felt really good to let that out, however it hasn't happened since. I feel like there is more to go, but I don't quite know how to accomplish it. I found a quote yesterday that really hit home for me: "Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water."

    Do you have any advice on letting these suppressed emotions release when they surface, instead of burying them back down again? Waking up from a bad dream is pretty troubling, especially when you're not prepared or used to it. I don't want to continue down the road of suppressing and avoiding these things, so how can I learn from these events instead of trying to stuff it back down in my subconscious? Or if I get an urge to cry, how to I let that out without suppressing that too?

    Thanks again for all the guidance from this forum!
     
  11. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Hi again :),

    I am not prone to having bad dreams, however, throughout my life I have had a few bad dreams where I have woken up in a state of fear or upset and before learning to meditate, I just accepted this as normal.

    At that time, I would probably wake up feeling terrified and the best scenario would be to thank goodness it was a dream, cuddle up to my husband, eventually go back to sleep and tell him all about it in the morning. Worse case (for my husband anyway) was I would feel so scared or upset that I would wake him up and tell him all about the horrible dream:eek:

    Before learning to meditate, I used to get involved with the story - after learning to meditate I realised the importance of not getting caught up in the story and thoughts about it. You have to focus only on the physical sensation in your body.

    After meditating for some time I had a bad dream and woke up with a dreadful feeling as though I was paralysed with fear. It was about 4:30 in the morning and as I was about to shake it off and thank goodness that it was only a dream, I realized this was an opportunity to observe and release.

    I closed my eyes again, accepted and observed the feeling. Now, I'm sure you'll agree, things that happen in the dark of the night always seem more scary. This was certainly true in this experience. It took for me, amazing courage to do this - I even felt that I might become paralysed if I observed this physical sensation which was in my spine. Anyway, I observed and curiously asked the question in my mind to the sensation "Where are you coming from?" After what seemed like about 20 minutes for the sensation to move slowly down my spine and disappear, the words betrayal and abandonment came to my mind.

    When the sensation had gone I knew something big had been released and I got up and wrote four A4 sheets about the experience.

    We all experience frightening things when we are little and for me, when I was aged 2, my mother had a complete mental breakdown and went to hospital for 9 months. The specialists told my father she would never be well again and she certainly wasn't in a healthy state for her two little girls to see.

    I have no conscious memory of this although I'm sure this would have been traumatic to a little 2 year old at the time. Almost a year later I had polio in my right leg - fortunately after being hospitalised for a few months and attending many physiotherapy sessions I learned to walk again and was cured.

    Who knows if there is a connection to this dream - it doesn't matter - what does matter is, that night I found the courage to face a fear and realised after, just how good it was to release it. It wasn't real - it just appeared that way.

    That night I learned that I could observe anything I experienced - it's just a great release process. I have had 4 more dreams since then (all different and all dealing with different emotions) and now, when they happen, instead of shrugging them off, I just accept and observe, knowing I am letting go of things that have restricted me in the past. For me, observing the sensations from the first dream were the worst, probably because our minds struggle to hold onto and suppress these emotions.

    Now, I believe, through learning how to observe and release emotions that had imprisoned me, my mind is freed up, allowing me to be creative, focused and able to find solutions so easily.

    Here's something you maybe could try in your daily life which will help prepare you to observe. The next time you are about to react with a negative emotion like fear, frustration, anger or hurt to something or someone, just stop and notice the physical sensation which always accompanies this - it may be a tightness in your shoulders, a knot in your stomach or a lump in your throat - Focus on the physical sensation, not the thoughts. Just accept the physical sensation, unemotionally and as you observe it, with simple curiosity, you should find it will simply dissolve. This may take a few minutes or a little while longer.

    Once you realise how you can do this you will find it to be a very freeing experience.

    I hope this is of help and wish you an abundance of peace and joy :) :) :)

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hi again, I am adding this part 22 hours later, because I actually had an unpleasant dream last night (the first in quite a long time) I couldn't post earlier due to a busy schedule today and unfortunately as the day goes on the vividness of what I wanted to tell you has paled somewhat.

    Anyway, as I awoke from the dream, I began to focus on the sensation in my body and became aware that my mind was trying to get me to focus on the story - it felt like a game of cat and mouse if that makes any sense. The point is I became aware that this was happening so I could explain better to you how not to get caught up in the story and how hard your mind will keep trying to interrupt the process of you just accepting and welcoming the sensation while curiously observing it as a child might. I also noticed and remembered that my face always perspires during the process. Because of this realisation (I felt it was a chance to tell you how hard your mind works on distracting you) I couldn't focus on the 2 things at once and so I didn't continue observing. This doesn't matter to me at all because if something is going to surface, it will do again and I will just do the simple exercise of unemotionally observing it. I really hope this makes some kind of sense to you and is of help to you in the future.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011
  12. Boris Badenov

    Boris Badenov Member

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    My pain

    I've come to discover (after 6 months of panic) that my panic attacks are caused by deep seated pain in my neck muscles. I discovered this quite by accident after I decided to go to a chiropractor for some neck pain I was having. As the chiropractor worked on my neck and neck muscle soreness, my panic attacks diminished and went away. What magic! The funny thing is that the muscle pain isn't consciously evident to me until she starts to palpate my deep neck muscles, then OH BOY! do they hurt like crazy! It seems as if the pain is so deep seated that I'm not aware of it in my normal conscious state. I'm sure my body is aware of it though. My chiropractor explained to me how the chiropractic practice was initially started to treat mental illness and it all started to make sense to me. I've also become aware of traditional Chinese medicine and how they view certain organs coming active during certain times of day. I've found this to be very true with me. If you're having nightmares between 1 and 3:30 am, that is all liver. Your liver holds fear. I would consider that and how that applies to your situation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  13. paradoxenygma

    paradoxenygma Member

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    Update

    Its been about a month and a half since my last post. I have to say, Ive been feeling tremendously better ! The headaches have pretty much stopped, and my anxiety is under control. There have been days where my anxiety peaked, but I realized I was just getting a cold. I guess it was my body's way of telling me to slow down. I tend to get sick alot...so I need to chill out a bit so my immune system can do its job :) Things haven't been stressing me as much, and I don't worry about small things like before. Positive changes. When anxiety arises, Im trying my best not to dwell on it and escalate the emotions. So far so good.

    I'm not sure what exactly did it, but meditation has definitely played a role. Changing your outlook and way of thinking is essential to defeating something like I was going through. It seems cliché, but I feel like I've changed alot over the last month or two. I'm very happy with the results. I almost didn't believe it that just a month or two ago I was in a very different place.
     
  14. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    That's absolutely brilliant news - I am thrilled for you and wish you an abundance of peace and joy on your continuing journey :) :) :)
     
  15. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    hi there paradoxenygma

    nice one!:D

    smooth sailing for your onward voyage

    peace and joy
    H
     
  16. Pavlina

    Pavlina Member

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    Urge to cry

    Hi there!

    Writing is a great tool for me when I feel like crying, but I mean....crying......and while I write it seems like I find the real reason I cry, why am so anxious..... even when it comes from deep inside of me; while I write, I never censure myself, and I discover things about myself, my past , why I feel how I feel....it is like cleaning up a room, going through a box full of stuff, that I have not opened for a while....writing helps me sort out many issues and while I write, when it is painfull, I cry , I cry and I cry....and IT FEELS GREAT AFTER...and I have removed some dust at the same time....I understand myself a bit better...

    By the way, my English is not great, my mother tongue is French so I hope you can understand what I am trying to say.

    Pavlina

    Ps: playing music, meditation, all these things are great; you are doing everything to feel good, you are strong and courageous
     
  17. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Pavlina, your English is just perfect. Better than some English people. ;)

    Hugs
    Giles
     
  18. Pavlina

    Pavlina Member

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    Thank you Giles,

    Makes me feel good, as a matter of fact , makes me feel better....
    You know that feeling of isolation....when you think that you are the only one on this planet who feels like....
    I do not know if it is because days are getting shorter but hummmmm....I am a bit depressed today, could be my hormones as well....49 years of age.....:(( there so many things that are happenning....in my BODY AND MY MIND NOWADAYS....

    I dragged myself to the gym.....not easy.. feeling a bit better....I think I will meditate for a while....


    Pavlina
     
  19. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    It certainly could be the shorter days. Everyone feels depression to some extent because of the winter months, some people more than others. I use a S.A.D. (Seasonal Effective Disorder) "sunshine" style wake-up light, not that I get very depressed from shorter days, and I've always been an early riser, but more because I wake up feeling a little better refreshed and more naturally woken than if I were to use an alarm clock from deep sleep. Also it helps the other half to wake up better too.

    Exercise is always good for making you feel better. ;)

    Hugs

    Giles
     

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