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Old March 28th, 2009, 20:44   #1 (permalink)
5magics (Offline)
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Default Lack of progress in my meditation

Iíve been meditating daily since November last year, but I donít feel that Iíve have made all that much progress, and that frustrates me a bit. I just can't seem to be able to quiet the mind. I dream of being able to get into a no-thinking state, but seeing as my mind is no more at peace while meditating now, as it was in my early sessions, I begin to think that I will never reach a deep meditative state . Hopefully someone here could help me!

My mind wanders a lot while I meditate, from one trivial thought to another. I very often get into this sleep-like state where Iím not conscious enough to realize that I should be reciting my mantra, but Iím not fully unconscious either. Being in this state causes me to forget my mantra for several minutes, and the whole meditation becomes nothing more than a sitting nap! What can I do to prevent this? Since I have had many of these sleepy meditation sessions, maybe that is one reason for my slow progress?

But the sessions where I donít get sleepy doesnít feel that much more successful, either. When I recite my mantra, it tends to just slip away very quickly, and it never really grabs my attention. Could it be that I find reciting my mantra boring, and that I prefer to just hop on the train of thought? If so, I want to change feeling like this. I want to meditate properly!

Also, I can't remember ever feeling energized after a meditation session. Is that an indication that my meditation isnít effective? I want to be able to meditate instead of taking a nap when I feel sleepy. Is this possible?
I would love to get some advice that will steer me in the right direction in order to start benefiting more from my meditation sessions.

Thanks in advance

5magics
 
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Old March 29th, 2009, 16:14   #2 (permalink)
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It sounds like you are trying to hard to be a successful meditator. Go easy on your self

You will always have thoughts. It is impossible to be in a completely thoughtless state, although over time and with practice you will have longer and longer periods of no thought.

Observe your thoughts with detached curiosity. Dont judge them. Just watch them.

Dont particularly expect anything from your meditation session. Make your goal be to simply to meditate and again what ever arises - observe.

We have all fallen asleep and that is common. If you are fairly new to meditation it is a discipline you need to get used to. You will find that falling asleep or feeling sleepy will diminish, but even experienced meditators will sometimes fall asleep on occassion.

So be easy on yourself. Allow whatever to heppen to happen, watching with detatched curiosity and ease off from being tempted to measure your results.

As a marathon runner I know that I can not measure progress after each training session, but after a few weeks and months I look back and suddenly realise I have made lots of progress, and each session had been worth it after all although sometimes it felt like quite the opposite at the time. I find that my progress with meditation is very much like that of my running training. Both need regular input, to be built up gradually, and patience to see progress.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck and I look forward to hearing of your progress
 
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Old March 30th, 2009, 02:11   #3 (permalink)
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As has already been written, what you are saying is happening sounds "normal".

There are many, many sensations, thoughts and such one can experience during meditation.

Be patient and forgiving with yourself, the thoughts, the naps and anything you are experiencing. You can sit less comfortably if it helps you stay awake, like without letting your back rest on the chair.

Like eating a certain way to be healthy, meditation should be a life long practice. In that sense, one wouldn't lose hope because eating broccoli for some months didn't create feelings of total health.

I'm not a meditation teacher or anything but it is my personal opinion based on my own practice that "trying" is somewhat counter productive, if you have a background intention of improving yourself and life and just practice for the sake of practicing you may gain more in the long run. As the Beatles so brilliantly put it, Let It Be.
 
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Old March 30th, 2009, 02:23   #4 (permalink)
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A mala is a string of beads used to count repetitions of a mantra. You don't have to use one, and you don't have to keep track even if you do. It is something you hold in your hands that helps you to stay focussed on your mantra, and it can make a big difference to have the feeling of the beads passing between your fingers to act as an anchor. Another thing is that there is something called "mantra shakti" - the "energy" of the mantra. When you use a mala, it soaks up the "energy" of the mantra and then wearing the mala releases it back to you gradually when you are not actively working with the mantra.
 
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Old March 30th, 2009, 15:03   #5 (permalink)
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Hi there, it's good and normal that your mantra seems to disapear - it's initially something for you to passively focus on. Are you using Discover Meditation or LifeFlow or some other kind of meditation? Look forward to your reply and wish you peace and joy in the meantime
 
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Old March 30th, 2009, 18:40   #6 (permalink)
Edwin (Offline)
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Originally Posted by 5magics View Post
Iíve been meditating daily since November last year, but I donít feel that Iíve have made all that much progress, and that frustrates me a bit. I just can't seem to be able to quiet the mind.
I have been meditating since around november 2007, and I can't quiet the mind as well. it is ok, because that is not why you should meditate.
My mind wanders a lot while I meditate, from one trivial thought to another. I very often get into this sleep-like state where Iím not conscious enough to realize that I should be reciting my mantra, but Iím not fully unconscious either.
If during meditation you get into this dream-like state, do you never suddenly notice that you weren't focusing on your mantra ?
If during a 20 minute session you realise this, let's say, about 3 times, I would consider it a successfull meditation ( if that even excists ). Like Harry said, go easy on yourself !
But the sessions where I donít get sleepy doesnít feel that much more successful, either. When I recite my mantra, it tends to just slip away very quickly, and it never really grabs my attention. Could it be that I find reciting my mantra boring, and that I prefer to just hop on the train of thought? If so, I want to change feeling like this. I want to meditate properly!
You allready are ! You want to meditate the way you think is right, but instead you are forcing your meditation into something it isn't, or shouldn't be anyway.
Also, I can't remember ever feeling energized after a meditation session. Is that an indication that my meditation isnít effective? I want to be able to meditate instead of taking a nap when I feel sleepy. Is this possible?
I would love to get some advice that will steer me in the right direction in order to start benefiting more from my meditation sessions.

Thanks in advance

5magics
One of the first signs that you are trying too hard, that you are straining, strifing towards a goal, is not feeling energized after a meditation session.

Both Harry as well as Papp made some excellent points, please read them through again. Meditation should be effortless, and this takes time to understand. Us Westerners have been brought up with the idea that we have to work towards a goal. So, if we would say: meditation should be effortless, try to keep yourself from thinking " Right, effortless, got it, I will try my very best to meditate effortless ". I hope you get what I am trying to say.

Your have seem to have set two goals for yourself ( while you shouldn't set goals at all ):
-First, you want to meditate without thought, and think that this is the ultimate meditation.

Sorry, but this is a basic trap that most meditators fall into ( myself included ). Meditation is not about not-thinking, it is about not-reacting-to-thought.
You are allowed to think, in fact, you should !!!

The very fact that there is thought, and images, and emotions, means that there are new neural pathways made between your left- and right hemisphere of the brain ! As a path is made, it runs into memories, stored emotions, things you haven't thought about in 20 years !

The key to meditation is not reacting to these thoughts or emotions, just observing them. But here comes a very important thing to remember : All meditators get lost in thought at some time, no matter how experienced they are !!! When they notice this, they are happy that they noticed, and joyfully return to their mantra, knowing that they meditate properly by noticing their immersion in thought.

Yes, in time ( some within a month, others within years or decades ) your mind will learn that thought immersion is not wanted during meditation ( or in life for that matter ) and you will reach a degree of enlightenment from that. However your mind cannot be forced to accept this, you can only try to effortlessly return to your mantra every time you notice that you are "aboard the thought-train" and keep doing that until your mind gets the picture.

But most importantly, and this brings us to your second expectation, if you have meditated effortlessly, you will calm down, and feel better than before you started meditation. Because you aren't forcing anything, and meditation can happen freely and effortlessly, you can really relax, and just the physical sensation of calming down should leave you feeling better than before.

Try to make sure that you are breathing deeply, this helps your metabolism to slow down, causing your heartrate do go down, until you feel utterly and totally relaxed. Just the joys of physical relaxation should be something to be happy with. In due time, you will receive other benefits from meditation. Don't wonder when, it will come when it comes. In Buddhism they say :

"Everything is as it should be."

And this is exactly right, wether you believe in destiny or not, it happens when it happens, as it happens. We highly overrate our influence on matters, things happen. Meditation just happens. If it isn't what you expected, accept the fact that it isn't what you expected, and be gratefull that you got something else in return. Your body and mind know what's best for you.
Just experience it, let it go.

And tell us if our help isn't usefull, we will gladly help some more

Last edited by Edwin : March 31st, 2009 at 10:37.
 
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Old March 30th, 2009, 19:24   #7 (permalink)
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NOTE: This was written before I saw your post, Edwin. I forgot to submit it before I will write more later!


Thank you all for very helpful replies!

I'm aware that I in general have a tendency to judge and critizise myself. In other words, I feel that the voice of my inner critic is pretty strong, and this of course also affects my meditation. To dampen my inner critic is something I must work on, though I'm not exactly sure how... But learning to accept whatever happens during my meditation sessions will probably help me with the quality of my meditation, as well as other aspects of my life!

Thank you for your practical tips about meditation! Inedible, a mala could absolutely be helpful for me. I'll buy one right away!

5magics
 
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Old March 30th, 2009, 20:36   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you too, Edwin. Your reply, along with the others', enlightens me

I guess I must have fallen into the trap you speak of, Edwin. You speak of no reaction to thought, and observation of thought, pluss Harry Haddock speaks of "detached curiosity". I think I understand these terms, although they feel a tad abstract . Perhaps I will gain more profound understanding just by trying it out during my sessions?

To answer Pollyanna's question: Yes, I'm using the method shown in the Discover Meditation course. I've also tried out the LifeFlow sample quite a few times during the last three weeks, although I can't say that I have noticed any effect from it. Therefore I'm a bit uncertain whether I should buy it.

5magics

Last edited by 5magics : March 30th, 2009 at 20:47.
 
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Old March 31st, 2009, 01:28   #9 (permalink)
Edwin (Offline)
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Originally Posted by 5magics View Post
I'm aware that I in general have a tendency to judge and critizise myself. In other words, I feel that the voice of my inner critic is pretty strong, and this of course also affects my meditation. To dampen my inner critic is something I must work on, though I'm not exactly sure how...
In Holland we have a saying " Niets menselijks is mij vreemd " meaning "Nothing human is strange to me".
I know what you mean with that inner critic. Boy do I ever !

Actually, acceptance as you are learning right now with meditation can also help you with that inner critic. But first, you have to learn it so meditate some more
I guess I must have fallen into the trap you speak of, Edwin. You speak of no reaction to thought, and observation of thought, pluss Harry Haddock speaks of "detached curiosity". I think I understand these terms, although they feel a tad abstract . Perhaps I will gain more profound understanding just by trying it out during my sessions?
Bruce Lee once said: "Nobody will ever learn how to swim by lying on a bench on their belly making swimming-movements; they have to get into the water to learn"

Of course he was talking about martial arts, but it is a great metaphore for meditation or any other thing in life that has a learning degree

If however you feel like drowning, we can throw you another life-jacket, just ask
 
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Old March 31st, 2009, 05:18   #10 (permalink)
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Default Paul Wilson "Past Jewel Post from Edwin"

Hi 5Magics,
Great thread you started as it brings into focus one of the most "thought of" (no pun intended) aspects of meditation. Relating to this, came across a "jewel post" from Edwin from last August that fits nicely here:

Originally Posted by Edwin View Post
A nice link to a Youtube film from Paul Wilson, another meditation guru that I like to name alongside Michael Mackenzie, the founder of this site and all that comes with it.

Paul Wilson also took the mistique from meditation just like Michael did:

YouTube - Thought in meditation

Hope it helps !
You Tube link that is very much worth bookmarking indeed. Kudos to you Edwin for this buried treasure post.


take care all

jim
 
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