Not ready for meditation?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Not ready for meditation?

Postby Awarewolf » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:59 pm

I just heard about the 3 types of happiness: the basic body/mind level (not sure how to explain this one), the meditative state of mind, and enlightenment happiness. Would it make sense to say that one is not prepared to develop meditative happiness when they have not generated/stabilized a basic body level happiness? Or would instead developing the higher level of happiness carry the lower along with it?

I am wondering how this would relate to the idea that people should treat mood disorders before starting with meditation or atleast on the side (therapy, a teacher). People who seem to come out of a meditation regular practice for the worse (panic attacks, depression, psychosis etc) usually are these people.
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Re: Not ready for meditation?

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:07 pm

I did not have a mood disorder, but 8 years ago I had serious insomnia that kept me up for the better part of a month with only 2-3 hours of continuous sleep per night. I became quite anxious. I started meditating for at least 5 min a day. I decided to keep a log and 8 years later I sit for much more than that and have not missed a day in 8 years.

I would say if a person has a serious mental health issue, s/he is best off making a priority of using professional help, but there is no harm in 10 - 20 minutes of meditation a day. At that level, they are getting some mild relaxation which can only help.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Not ready for meditation?

Postby befriend » Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:51 pm

meditation brings up a lot of good and difficult things, it can reveal things from your history you were unaware of. people who have experienced trauma in the past can actually retraumatize themselves from practicing meditation. I myself have stopped meditating as of about one month ago, after some extensive meditation it was revealed to me in a dream that I suppressed the greif of my brothers passing for 20 years. i was traumatized by his death, and trauma can express itself in different ways, psychosis, bi polar, eating disorders etc.... i recommend what Buddhist teachers are teaching now, is that sometimes its not always good to be with your sensations because it can retraumatizing. i practiced 30 minutes of vipassana like a month a go, and the next morning i was totally numb, i couldnt feel sympathy, or anything. so i would recommend reading peter levines book in an unspoken voice, which deals with trauma and how symptoms can manifest and of the healing process. to heal my trauma gradually, i am planning on doing some ptsd based yoga, journaling, exercising etc... to chip away at the trauma before getting engrossed in vipassana again. i recommend tara brach talking about trauma on dharmaseed.org and other teachers on that site that talk about trauma. take care, befriend
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Re: Not ready for meditation?

Postby Coyote » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:49 pm

It is true that various mental disorders can obstruct meditation as well as be aggravated by it. As for whether it is necessary to first treat the disorder before beginning meditation, well, that depends on the person. I am sure many meditation teachers as well as fellow Buddhist practitioners would recommend the appropriate medical treatment for a medical condition along with any meditation you may be practicing.

However both samatha and vipassana meditation can improve mood conditions (perhaps not disorders per se) such as mild anxiety and depression, in my experience.

Ven. Munindo (UK) has spoken sometimes in talks about the relationship between psychiatric therapy, mental disorders and meditation/Buddhism. You can check out talks here: http://ratanagiri.org.uk/
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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