How to deal with intense mind racing?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
rolling_boulder
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How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by rolling_boulder » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:08 am

Hello,

Does anybody else experience a phenonenon just after waking or just before falling asleep, where all mindfulness and equanimity and positive factors just seem to disappear? The age old "waking up in the middle of the night tossing and turning, can't fall back asleep" problem.

Upon waking, I usually find that my mind is racing uncontrollably and nothing seems to work to help calm it down. I usually find myself overwhelmed with sensual desire, muddled by illogical, dreamlike thought processes, and just uncontrollable whatever of my mental tools I try to use. It seems to just fade with time but "wait it out" is not an acceptable solution to me.

Here's an example of my own experience:

-attempted to meditate, was hampered by ankle pain
-fell asleep for the night
-slept, for about 2 hours
-suddenly woke up
-simultaneously a song is playing in my head, I feel the urge to masturbate, i have a delusional thought stuck in my head that a friend of mine is creating thousands of clones of his sister, I have the urge to meditate, I have anxiety about something unclear, and more. Typical post- sleep groggy state for me.
-attempt to meditate to clear up these issues
- no good, my mind keeps somehow viewing the breath in the context of the sister-clones instead of in terms of the 4 noble truths
-this goes on... More mental unrest, more attempts to calm the mind, no success
-at the end of it all I've lost sleep unneccesarily

I guess the point of this post is, how can a meditator deal with very intense mental unrest? What tools are there for a mind that moves too quickly to observe and control?

I'm aware that meditation should not feel like intensive effort but when my mind is racing like this, it really seems to require a lot of energy to calm it down. Maybe I am looking at this all the wrong way.

Any advice would be appreciated,

Thank you so much.
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

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Sam Vara
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:58 am

You might try this audio guided meditation from Ajahn Sucitto.

http://www.cittaviveka.org/index.php/te ... oning-mind

He talks of the "questioning mind" rather than the "racing mind", but I think it's the same. The idea is to come out of the spiral of thoughts, and orientate the mind towards more wholesome topics - in this case, the sensations of the body.

There is also a dhamma talk (as opposed to a meditation) which talks of using reflections on Buddha, death, and compassion to achieve the same effect, but in a more discursive manner:

http://www.cittaviveka.org/index.php/te ... -s-titanic

Two further points. Some of this sounds like a dream-like state, and having a cup of tea or taking some exercise might be more appropriate. You also talk of things as being "not an acceptable solution to me". It might be useful to see this as a mental state like all the others, rather than a statement about yourself.

Good luck, and be gentle with yourself.

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cooran
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by cooran » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:01 am

Hello rolling_boulder,

You may find this thread of interest

Share meditation tips here:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... ey#p250499

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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robertk
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by robertk » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:06 am

The reality of the present moment: racing mind.

Do you want reality to be different than it is?

If so that is tanha/aversion, the second noble truth.

The 4th noble truth can start right at that moment if, instead of turning away, there is investigation and acceptance.

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tiltbillings
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:19 am

robertk wrote:The reality of the present moment: racing mind.

Do you want reality to be different than it is?

If so that is tanha/aversion, the second noble truth.

The 4th noble truth can start right at that moment if, instead of turning away, there is investigation and acceptance.
Infinitely easier said than done.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Aloka
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by Aloka » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:36 am

rolling_boulder wrote:
Does anybody else experience a phenonenon just after waking or just before falling asleep, where all mindfulness and equanimity and positive factors just seem to disappear? The age old "waking up in the middle of the night tossing and turning, can't fall back asleep" problem.
I don't usually have a problem with falling aleep, but if I do, I breathe slowly and gently & then mentally repeat the Refuge (x3) and also wish for happiness for all beings x3 ("May all beings have happiness & the causes of happiness etc"). Sometimes I also repeat the mantra "Buddho."

http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Clarity_Insight1.php

I've found that each of these methods, or a combination of all 3, help to calm my mind before sleeping or when waking in the morning.

I also repeat the Refuge at the beginning of a meditation session and and Reflections on Universal Well-Being at the end.

http://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-books/chanting-book/

:anjali:

LXNDR
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by LXNDR » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:40 am

several times when i would not be able to fall asleep due to flood of thoughts i would concentrate on the here and now, as the suttas say 'bring my awareness to the fore', and watch my present state, which disconnected and disengaged me from this flood of thinking, that requires some effort, but before long the thinking rush would subside, just because i don't pay it any attention, and i fall asleep

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Viscid
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by Viscid » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:29 pm

The delusional thinking (along with the racing thoughts) may be indicative of some underlying disorder.. if that is the case, I doubt some Buddhist 'mind trick' will be of much aid.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Vanda
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by Vanda » Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:06 pm

Robertk wrote:
The reality of the present moment: racing mind.

Do you want reality to be different than it is?

If so that is tanha/aversion, the second noble truth.

The 4th noble truth can start right at that moment if, instead of turning away, there is investigation and acceptance.
True. In the end what other options are there? We fight and struggle against the things we don't want, but this does not change the situation.

The things we hate, the things that scare us, aside from "checking out" there really is no other option. True Dhamma needs to be employed as our body breaks down, as our life changes and we start to lose the integrity of who we are physically. True, real, Dhamma, is like a little flame, so fragile, so easily blown out, unless nurtured in to a strong, stabile, enduring torch within.
Last edited by Vanda on Sun Aug 16, 2015 12:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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- Kalama Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya

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waterchan
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by waterchan » Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:28 pm

Sam Vara wrote:You might try this audio guided meditation from Ajahn Sucitto.

http://www.cittaviveka.org/index.php/te ... oning-mind
:thumbsup: Guided meditations are the best way to meditate when your mind is really racing uncontrollably. What robertk posted above is true but we don't always have the skill to put it into practice on our own.

SarathW
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by SarathW » Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:40 pm

:goodpost: RB

Calming mind is a gradual process.
Do not expect miracles.
The great thing is that you are aware of it. That is the first step. You are mindful of your thoughts.
Are you observing the five precepts? Or at least give your best effort?
Avoid watching TV and useless internet sites.
Do not eat after 6.00 PM. Make sure you eat healthy food.
Get a health check done.
Do not worry about it. Just enjoy the mind show! (but do not participate) Know you are watching it.
:)
Last edited by SarathW on Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Herbie
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by Herbie » Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:33 am

If I am attacked by mind racing - which rarely occurs - then one thing that definitely puts an end to it is to just sit with open eyes looking straight ahead but not focusing, not exerting any effort on anything and drop everything even any resistance to mind racing, not following any thought. Be like a block of wood. Sitting seems necessary, lying is not as efficient as sitting.
Inspiration is based on the exchange of different linguistic expressions. But inspiration is best knowing how language relates to truth. :smile:

Ads
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by Ads » Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:47 am

I always found this was the worst for me if the room was too hot/cold or stuffy. Remedy this and it'll help immensely. For relaxation purposes, it's always better to go too cold then too hot.

pegembara
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by pegembara » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:41 am

Have you tried listening to dhamma talks that go for more than an hour while lying in bed? Give this a try.

Here is something to start with
http://www.londoninsight.org/resources/audio-downloads/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

peterve
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Re: How to deal with intense mind racing?

Post by peterve » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:08 am

that's quite intense mind racing. I must say.
I would advice to keep on meditating until and unless your intense mind racing ends.
That would quite difficult since it needs much mind endurance.
if you can't endure such things I think you should do what makes very much comfortable like thinking about most beautiful moments in your life.
i am sure this techniques can help you. :namaste: :namaste:
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