Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
soapy3
Posts: 250
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:54 pm

Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by soapy3 »

I've been a regular meditator, without missing a day, for years. I've found it to be a powerful anti-stress tool.

I developed an anxiety problem this past summer and I have been finding it difficult to meditate. I still have, I've done some meditation every day, but it is temporarily not the powerful anti-stress tool it was.

Starting July I began having relationship stress, some other worries, and periodic trouble sleeping. I started meditating more and focusing more on getting deeply relaxed. I started getting jolts of anxiety while in deep relaxation. One evening, I got so worked up I couldn't sleep and that lit the fire on a long spell of sleep trouble which I am still living through. As I lost sleep on a regular basis, my anxiety levels grew.

Halfway through August my father became suddenly ill and died. This happened while I had two nights of only 3 hours sleep. A few days later my relationship came to a defacto end.

I've been waking up in the middle of the night a lot. I have had issues with my heart racing. My doctor said that it is normal to have anxiety for up to six months after someone has died.

I've been seeing a shrink,
I've been talking walks for however long I can every night,
I've been meditating before I go to sleep,
I've also been getting acupuncture twice a week.

I got off attivan which my brother-in-law had me temporarily take so I could get SOME sleep. I am now taking lavender oil capsules. I am also taking some other relaxing herbs during the day.

I've done large amounts of walking meditation when I have been very agitated.
I'm doing metta meditation often.
I've focused on diaphragmatic breathing when I meditate to stimulate my vagus nerve/parasympathetic nervous system.
I've also tried doing complex counting systems while I watch my breath to help get my mind out spirals.
I've tried noting how all of the unpleasant sensations from my feelings are temporary.
I've tried watching my feeling come and go until the emotions became too much for me.

So, my question is, any other tips for dealing with all of this?

Anything else I can try to crank up the relaxation power of my meditation?

Thanks for any ideas
sattva
Posts: 1254
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 10:07 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by sattva »

Wow soapy3 you are having some issues right now, aren't you?! First of all, I am sorry about your father and the end of your relationship :hug:

You don't say anything about how old you are or whether you have had similar problems in the past. Since it started BEFORE your father died and the relationship ended, it may not be totally connected to these events. Did you tell the shrink and doctor that you were having some problems before these happened? If not, maybe you would want to do that. I would kind of pressure both your family doctor and your psychiatrist to run a full battery of tests, including hormone levels before I did anything else. Besides that, to help you sleep, get off caffeine if you drink it, turn off the computer at least an hour or so before bed, and listen to the most soothing music you can find. I once read in a chi kung that it is best NOT to exercise later in the evening, it keeps you awake and it also stated that the optimal time for bed is about 10 pm. There is such a thing as becoming too tired to sleep. Try to go slower and wind down in the evening. Make your hours before bed slower and quieter. Try a hot bath. In case you didn't know, research shows jasmine oil also helps you sleep and of course there is always chamomile tea. I think you are being really proactive on this!!! Good luck!
http://www.chatzy.com/25904628501622
pegembara
Posts: 1735
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:39 am

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by pegembara »

I hope this advice is useful.
The way to really live is to die. The passport to living is to imagine yourself in your grave. Imagine you’re lying in your coffin….Now look at your problems from that viewpoint. Changes everything, doesn’t it? Anthony de Mello
The Blessed One said, "Mindfulness of death, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. Therefore you should develop mindfulness of death."

With Metta
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8503
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by cooran »

Hello soapy,

I note that you said you often do metta meditation. In times of distress, it is often beneficial to focus metta meditation solely on oneself - westerners can unconsciously be quite negative towards themselves without realising it.

Ajahn Brahms says that one should first think of something that arouses feelings of loving-kindness- like visualising a cute puppy or baby.

I would suggest that you try to note the feeling that arises when you do this visualising, and direct it toward yourself, using a multi line mantra like "May I be safe and protected, may I be healthy and strong, may I be happy of heart and mind".
You can use other repetitions like " may I swiftly progress on the path to Nibbana, may I have happiness and the causes of happiness, may I live with ease and well-being".

You are important, your happiness and peace are important. :group:

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 ---
User avatar
mirco
Posts: 450
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:12 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by mirco »

soapy3 wrote:Thanks for any ideas
Hey Soapy,

sorry for your loss.

This instantly came to my mind:
forgiveness meditation.
It also is/can be a part of Metta.

Be Well
Last edited by mirco on Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
"An important term for meditative absorption is samadhi. We often translate that as concentration, but that can suggest a certain stiffness. Perhaps unification is a better rendition, as samadhi means to bring together. Deep samadhi isn't at all stiff. It's a process of letting go of other things and coming to a unified experience." - Bhikkhu Anālayo
User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3713
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by Mr Man »

I find gently focusing on (and relaxing) the palms of the hands and soles of the feet can help when tense.
sattva
Posts: 1254
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 10:07 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by sattva »

cooran wrote:Hello soapy,

I note that you said you often do metta meditation. In times of distress, it is often beneficial to focus metta meditation solely on oneself - westerners can unconsciously be quite negative towards themselves without realising it.

Ajahn Brahms says that one should first think of something that arouses feelings of loving-kindness- like visualising a cute puppy or baby.

I would suggest that you try to note the feeling that arises when you do this visualising, and direct it toward yourself, using a multi line mantra like "May I be safe and protected, may I be healthy and strong, may I be happy of heart and mind".
You can use other repetitions like " may I swiftly progress on the path to Nibbana, may I have happiness and the causes of happiness, may I live with ease and well-being".

You are important, your happiness and peace are important. :group:

With metta,
Chris
:goodpost:
http://www.chatzy.com/25904628501622
sattva
Posts: 1254
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 10:07 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by sattva »

mirco wrote:
soapy3 wrote:Thanks for any ideas
Hey Soapy,

sorry for your loss.

This instantly came to my mind:
forgiveness meditation.
It also is/can be a part of Metta.

Be Well
Took a quick look at the link and site, nice!
http://www.chatzy.com/25904628501622
User avatar
martinfrank
Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:55 am
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by martinfrank »

Dear Soapy

I am sad to hear that you are suffering. I understand what you are going through.

You are doing the right things: Seeing a psychiatrist, anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication, acupuncture, meditation. Did you try to talk with a Buddhist monk or nun?

We need both, surviving and dealing with what happened and happens to us. Survival comes first because we cannot deal with what happened if we don't survive.

I find letting go of loved ones extremely difficult but there is only so much we can achieve without dealing with the cause of our sadness. I try to focus on "letting go" when the emotions want to overwhelm me. I had one moment of almost total relaxation when I found something like "closure" for the death of my parents and my lover. Visiting the grave can help us to deal with the emotion. Talking with a pet helps us to release the emotions and cry. Even watching a sad movie helps me to cry and accept.

It is a sad fact that time is almost the only remedy for our pain. It is easy to say "I'm a Buddhist" but when the truth of suffering shows itself to us in our life we find it very difficult to accept.

Love

Martin
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.
User avatar
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 3184
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by Modus.Ponens »

Hello.

I'm sorry that you're going through this. :heart:

The strong feelings of anxiety, streess and suffering in general are what is to be expected in this situation. But dealing with these well is not normal at all. But maybe it's possible.

Focusing your atention on impermanence is good at the moment you're doing it. But it also brings up suffering to the center stage of the mind, because it is kind of a shocking thing to observe about the world. When you leave the cushion, the suffering shows up easier. Since you already have enough impermanence and suffering in the situation as it is, it's best to turn to equanimity.

While in siting meditation, observe your sensations in the body with equanimity. Try to get to the point where you have some understanding that bad sensations is not the same as suffering. It has more to do with attachment and aversion to the sensations, than with bad sensations. When you realise this, you can do the same type of observation, with equanimity, of the sensations of fear and worry you have.
It's funny that fear and worry in general are similar to the fear and worry of drawing blood many people have. The prospect of having a seringe in your arm can be frightening. But actualy it's not that bad.
I'm not trying to trivialise your suffering. I am just pointing out that it is possible to deal with your suffering better, once you learn how.

So once you can observe fear and worry with some equanimity you realise they are exagerated reactions to any situation. It's the normal reaction in the overwhelming majority of people. But that doesn't mean it is not exagerated. When you realise this, you can meditate siting and relaxing. Allowing senstions, feelings and thoughts to come and go in a relaxed, open and spacious mind, without the mind being too affected.

Then you'll be able to cope with this situation better. A lot of metta, including a lot of it for yourself, is very helpful too.

I hope this helps you to deal with your situation. It doesn't have a quick fix, of course. But I believe this can alleviate a good deal of your suffering.

Metta
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta
soapy3
Posts: 250
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:54 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by soapy3 »

Thanks for the replies everyone. I've been trying to take it low key in the evenings. I will reply to this thread in a few days on the weekend. Thanks again.
Thisperson
Posts: 401
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 4:36 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by Thisperson »

It seems that you are trying to solve the problem of dukkha with discursive thinking. It doesn't work that way. You should switch your efforts to mindfulness of your thoughts, words and deeds along with your breath and bodily sensations, as much as possible. When you do that you should be able to see the defilements as they arise. You will see that they are not you. When you start to see in this manner then the need to solve anything starts to drop away. Take a step back and watch, without taking anything personally.

Here are a list of the defilements if you are unaware of them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleshas_%28Buddhism%29

Perhaps this writing from Thanissaro Bhikkhu will help you.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... rming.html
soapy3
Posts: 250
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:54 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by soapy3 »

Thisperson wrote:It seems that you are trying to solve the problem of dukkha with discursive thinking. It doesn't work that way. You should switch your efforts to mindfulness of your thoughts, words and deeds along with your breath and bodily sensations, as much as possible. When you do that you should be able to see the defilements as they arise. You will see that they are not you. When you start to see in this manner then the need to solve anything starts to drop away. Take a step back and watch, without taking anything personally.

Here are a list of the defilements if you are unaware of them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleshas_%28Buddhism%29

Perhaps this writing from Thanissaro Bhikkhu will help you.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... rming.html

Have you ever lost anyone who was particularly important to you?
Thisperson
Posts: 401
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 4:36 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by Thisperson »

soapy3 wrote:Have you ever lost anyone who was particularly important to you?
I've lost some people in different ways at different times of my life. Some non-immediate relatives have died. My long time childhood friend decided to stop talking to me after we used to hang out daily for the first 11 or so years of our lives. I've lost lovers both from inevitable demise in the relationship to just straight up leaving to another city with no explanation after considerable time together. I've not lost anyone in my immediate family to death yet so perhaps I should not be giving advice on loss via death, although I do understand the feeling of them being here today, gone forever tomorrow, though perhaps not on the level of a parent/child.

Perhaps this teaching from Ajahn Brahm will be helpful to you as he has far more wisdom than I.


Have you found any peace in the last month?
Sanjay PS
Posts: 311
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:26 pm

Re: Tips For Meditation After A Tragedy?

Post by Sanjay PS »

Hi Soapy ,

Tragedies can be like the tornadoes that pull us down , yet at the same time , they can teach us so much more than what we could have ever imagined , provided we open our hearts to this tearing away , which is an inevitable truth that we so dearly like to deny .

I have lost my brother , my mother, my sister and their lives and living were filled with pain . This pain is universal , and is within us , in the guise of both the pleasant as well as the unpleasant. Hence , it may be unfair on your part to compare the previous chapters of your life and living, when things were apparently going well , with the helter skelter that seemingly is on going now . This turbulent phase of yours is also just an experience of change , provided you don't evaluate it and leave it to be, just accepting the change . There are wonderful advice and supports provided by others in this post , kindly do consider it .

I recall once meeting a gentleman who was dedicatedly serving a 20 day long course , and at the end of the course , he came and exchanged a few pleasantries . His words still echo in my mind , saying that he was never as happy as he is now, after having finally understood death and parting.

A young man was he with a beautiful companion , blessed with two children , cynosure of their eyes . After a good solid blissful living of 12 years , once owing to the pre-occupation with his business , he bade his wife and two children good bye from his office , and they went onwards to catch their flight . After an hour, the phone rang leaving him beyond reason and comprehension , in a moment it was over , his life and living, aflame in a car that crashed .

The gentleman mentioned that he sought every help in calming the storm , from various ISKCON devotional living to counseling , however , none even touched the tip of the pain . Finally he came to know of a 10 day course that unabashedly dwelled on death and dying . He did the course , still there were issues , however, a bell rung within , and he continued doing courses , and finally life brought on its true meaning . Unreservedly the gentleman said , " what i earlier thought was true bliss and happiness , i know now was actually ignorance , today i can say that i am truly happy , and i am grateful to my wife and children , although it was a cost that had left me unprepared ."

There are others from who i seek inspiration too , families donating organs of their children , their brothers , their sisters , their fathers and mothers , brain dead in accidents . The newspapers are filled with these accounts .

Warmest regards ,
Sanjay
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka
Post Reply