Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
lotus flower
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Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation?

Post by lotus flower » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:53 am

Hi everybody. Are there anyone else who have mental illness? Did you attained deep concentration? When i was 20 or 21 years old i started regular meditation. Later i gave up and start again. Now i am 23. I have two serious mental illnesses. Schizophrenia and anxiety. I take medications but as i know serious schizophrenia is hard to cure. I still experience hallucinations sometimes. I found that i can not really calm my mind with anapanasati. I didn't attained long samadhi or jhana. I can make only few short samadhi in one hour anapanasati meditation. What i found - my mind just wandering and wandering and it is very hard to concentrate on the breathing. I gave up. I decided to try vipassana with noticing. I found it easier than anapanasati. My mind become more calmed. So i decided to follow vipassana teachers and i hope that i will attain deeper samadhi and the vipassana jhanas. I simply gave up anapanasati. What i found in my mind during anapanasati - that was just a lot wandering and my mind was like a wild horse. Maybe i will have more success with following vipassana teachers. But i have no so much hope to attain the vipassana jhanas. Most of healthy peoples attain jhanas hard, then peoples with mental illness must need extra time to attain the jhanas or it is simply impossible. Before you kindly advice - i tell you i already tried a psychologist. I shared my life with her. She helped only little.
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:49 am

Remember this is a many-lifetimes project. You dont have to ace everything in this life.
There are many aproaches to the dhamma, and hard-core meditation and jhanas is just one, practised by very few. Very few who actually attain the jhanas, that is.
Relax, don't stress. You have plenty of lifetimes ahead of you to master this.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

Pinetree
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by Pinetree » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:06 am

A lot of people have anxiety, and yes, it takes more effort, but can happen. Not sure about schizophrenia, but from what I heard, some of the time, especially with medication, the mind works relatively normally.
What i found - my mind just wandering and wandering and it is very hard to concentrate on the breathing.
That's everybody's problem, just don't rush things. To my knowledge, there is no magic here, if the mind wanders 1000 times, you remind yourself of the breath 1000 times.

But it's not that you have to practice Jhanas (not all "normal" people do), if Vipassana works for you, that's great.

Very few people are able to achieve high sustained concentration, not sure if that's 1% or 5% (or less), but certainly very few.
Before you kindly advice - i tell you i already tried a psychologist. I shared my life with her. She helped only little.
Not all psychologists are the same. Ideally, you would want to find a therapist specialized in your type of problems. And I don't even mean to say that one is a good or bad psychologist, it's possible that between some people, the bridge of communication and understanding doesn't work properly.

And not all approaches to psychological treatment are the same, if one doesn't help much, you can try another one. Some are helpful for certain people, but not other people.

I am not sure what kind of psychological treatment you have available at the place where you live, you can only get advice for choosing a psychologist from people that live around your area. If that is difficult for you for financial and other reasons, I suggest you keep trying, maybe you will find some support either through state health care or some non-profit group.

I know you mentioned once that you talk to a psychologist through e-mail. That's may be not enough, especially in the beginning (at least you'd need skype or some real time communication).

What may be worth trying is from the cognitive therapies (CBT or REBT), which may help more or less for hallucinations, but certainly for anxiety, and also helps you manage the stress in your life.

This therapy isn't based on "sharing your life" (even if your personal history is discussed during the first few sessions), by working with your thoughts and emotions in order to improve various aspects of your life.

That is similar to Vipassana in the sense that you are encouraged to look at your mind events as they occur, in the present moment, instead of sharing stories with your psychologist.

I am not sure how helpful will be for you to understand how this therapy works, but try searching on Youtube for "cbt role play" - this is people acting like they are doing a counseling session, usually 2 people, one acting as the therapist, the other one acting as the patient.

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:51 pm

If you hear voices, meditation can make voices worse and more controlling of your life, if this happens I would recommend not meditating and concentrating on the other aspects of the 8 fold path. I have a mental illness and mediation makes things worse for me, so I don't practice meditation.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

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lotus flower
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lotus flower » Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:50 pm

Bhante Lucky wrote:Remember this is a many-lifetimes project. You dont have to ace everything in this life.
There are many aproaches to the dhamma, and hard-core meditation and jhanas is just one, practised by very few. Very few who actually attain the jhanas, that is.
Relax, don't stress. You have plenty of lifetimes ahead of you to master this.
Thanks. "Remember it is a many lifetimes project." I will keep your words in my mind :)
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

lotus flower
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lotus flower » Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:58 pm

Pinetree wrote:A lot of people have anxiety, and yes, it takes more effort, but can happen. Not sure about schizophrenia, but from what I heard, some of the time, especially with medication, the mind works relatively normally.
What i found - my mind just wandering and wandering and it is very hard to concentrate on the breathing.
That's everybody's problem, just don't rush things. To my knowledge, there is no magic here, if the mind wanders 1000 times, you remind yourself of the breath 1000 times.

But it's not that you have to practice Jhanas (not all "normal" people do), if Vipassana works for you, that's great.

Very few people are able to achieve high sustained concentration, not sure if that's 1% or 5% (or less), but certainly very few.
Before you kindly advice - i tell you i already tried a psychologist. I shared my life with her. She helped only little.
Not all psychologists are the same. Ideally, you would want to find a therapist specialized in your type of problems. And I don't even mean to say that one is a good or bad psychologist, it's possible that between some people, the bridge of communication and understanding doesn't work properly.

And not all approaches to psychological treatment are the same, if one doesn't help much, you can try another one. Some are helpful for certain people, but not other people.

I am not sure what kind of psychological treatment you have available at the place where you live, you can only get advice for choosing a psychologist from people that live around your area. If that is difficult for you for financial and other reasons, I suggest you keep trying, maybe you will find some support either through state health care or some non-profit group.

I know you mentioned once that you talk to a psychologist through e-mail. That's may be not enough, especially in the beginning (at least you'd need skype or some real time communication).

What may be worth trying is from the cognitive therapies (CBT or REBT), which may help more or less for hallucinations, but certainly for anxiety, and also helps you manage the stress in your life.

This therapy isn't based on "sharing your life" (even if your personal history is discussed during the first few sessions), by working with your thoughts and emotions in order to improve various aspects of your life.

That is similar to Vipassana in the sense that you are encouraged to look at your mind events as they occur, in the present moment, instead of sharing stories with your psychologist.

I am not sure how helpful will be for you to understand how this therapy works, but try searching on Youtube for "cbt role play" - this is people acting like they are doing a counseling session, usually 2 people, one acting as the therapist, the other one acting as the patient.
Thanks. But i don't believe in psychologists. The psychologist who tried to help to me is a buddhist. Her advice is practice metta, karuna, be compassionate.... very serious bad things happened in my earlier life and i have a lot anger in my heart toward these peoples who did these things. I think a psychologist can not cure my anger but practice metta and karuna can help much more.
Last edited by lotus flower on Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

lotus flower
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lotus flower » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:01 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:If you hear voices, meditation can make voices worse and more controlling of your life, if this happens I would recommend not meditating and concentrating on the other aspects of the 8 fold path. I have a mental illness and mediation makes things worse for me, so I don't practice meditation.
Sure, if things will be worse i will stop meditation.
Last edited by lotus flower on Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

Pinetree
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by Pinetree » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:08 pm

But i don't believe in psychologists. very serious bad things happened in my earlier life and i have a lot anger in my heart toward these peoples who did these things. I think a psychologist can not cure my anger but practice metta and karuna can help much more.
Of course, it is your right not to visit a psychologist.

Cognitive psychology doesn't directly "cure" emotions like anger, but rather "cures thoughts".

They have scientific research showing that emotions are caused by certain thoughts which go through our mind second by second (and sometimes they come and go so quickly through our mind that we don't even notice them). So a certain thought arises and next moment there is an emotion happening (maybe to use the example you gave, the thought can be a memory of the past, and that memory triggers an angry feeling).

Once somebody sees which thoughts are causing some negative emotion, they can learn methods to replace these thoughts with other other thoughts that are not causing that negative emotion.

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lotus flower » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:04 pm

Pinetree wrote:
But i don't believe in psychologists. very serious bad things happened in my earlier life and i have a lot anger in my heart toward these peoples who did these things. I think a psychologist can not cure my anger but practice metta and karuna can help much more.
Of course, it is your right not to visit a psychologist.

Cognitive psychology doesn't directly "cure" emotions like anger, but rather "cures thoughts".

They have scientific research showing that emotions are caused by certain thoughts which go through our mind second by second (and sometimes they come and go so quickly through our mind that we don't even notice them).

Once somebody sees which thoughts are causing some negative emotion, they can learn how to replace these thoughts with other other thoughts that are not causing that negative emotion.
There are no thoughts who could not causing that negative emotion. For example: Metta and karuna just make the negative thoughts weaker. There is no magic. Psychologists also can not make magic.
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

Pinetree
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by Pinetree » Sun Jan 24, 2016 6:40 pm

No, I don't think psychologists can make magic.

And to be honest, sometimes, I do believe in magic. But it doesn't always work :)

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:50 pm

I believe in the miracle of instruction, but that does not always work either. It has to be the right instruction, and given at the appropriate time.

However severe the mental instability may be, it can only be reduced or removed entirely through practice. Directly observing the restless wandering mind using the vipassanā method is highly effective, but loving-kindness meditation or recollection of the Buddha's qualities may also be very helpful.
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by dxm_dxm » Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:30 am

I think metta can not do any harm whathever ilness somebody may have. Spending your time in a compassionate state of mind can not do more harm than spending your time in an anxiety, depressed, paranoid etc. state of mind. A good advice I heard for apanasanti is to do it with the goal of increasing your concentration. When you focus on the nose, remember it is with the goal of increasing concentration not reaching a particular state of mind. It's like going to the gym. And you should know that attaining jhana is something way more rare than narcissistic people on the internet might make you believe it is. I had some funny topics myself about been in the bazillion jhana :D

I also have a question so that I could better understand schitzofrenia. Do these voices, visions etc. are considered real by the person and taken like that ? In psichadellic drugs for example if you see an alien you know it is from the drug. In delirant drugs (datura/benzidamina) you do not know it is from the drug. Witch one of these is it ? Are they just some voices that say something that brings fear and fear is actually the problem? Maybe if you investigate these things with mindfulness when they appear you can find something about the ilness, maybe find something nobody else found before. Having OCD, I am very curious to see where the fears came from. To this day I found absolutally nothing but this is the method used by all people who have discovered something: observing.

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lotus flower » Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:18 am

dxm_dxm wrote:I think metta can not do any harm whathever ilness somebody may have. Spending your time in a compassionate state of mind can not do more harm than spending your time in an anxiety, depressed, paranoid etc. state of mind. A good advice I heard for apanasanti is to do it with the goal of increasing your concentration. When you focus on the nose, remember it is with the goal of increasing concentration not reaching a particular state of mind. It's like going to the gym. And you should know that attaining jhana is something way more rare than narcissistic people on the internet might make you believe it is. I had some funny topics myself about been in the bazillion jhana :D

I also have a question so that I could better understand schitzofrenia. Do these voices, visions etc. are considered real by the person and taken like that ? In psichadellic drugs for example if you see an alien you know it is from the drug. In delirant drugs (datura/benzidamina) you do not know it is from the drug. Witch one of these is it ? Are they just some voices that say something that brings fear and fear is actually the problem? Maybe if you investigate these things with mindfulness when they appear you can find something about the ilness, maybe find something nobody else found before. Having OCD, I am very curious to see where the fears came from. To this day I found absolutally nothing but this is the method used by all people who have discovered something: observing.
Yes the problem is the fear and anxiety which i experience when i hear voice or see a not real picture. The mind become restless. I think it is hard to attain jhana with such mind. I don't really understand your other questions. Seeing not real things or hearing voices comes from schizophrenia and not from the drug. The problem is that schizophrenia is hard to cure by medications. There are many peoples who take medications but they still have hallucinations. Schizophrenia is hard to keep in balance by drugs. At beginning of my illness i didn't took any drug and i saw things and i heared voices. When i started to take the medication the hallucinations became less. But the medications can not remove all hallucinations. There are peoples who experience that the medication works well but many peoples find they still have hallucinations.
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lotus flower » Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:20 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I believe in the miracle of instruction, but that does not always work either. It has to be the right instruction, and given at the appropriate time.

However severe the mental instability may be, it can only be reduced or removed entirely through practice. Directly observing the restless wandering mind using the vipassanā method is highly effective, but loving-kindness meditation or recollection of the Buddha's qualities may also be very helpful.
Thank you Venerable. Sadhu.
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by acinteyyo » Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:51 pm

Dear lotus flower,
I've read many of your posts dealing with jhana and samadhi. You really seem to work hard to attain a satisfying state of samadhi but unfortunatly it also seems that you approach the practice of developing a calm mind with strong unreflected craving for reaching samadhi. Arousing and putting a lot of energy unbalanced into practicing samadhi is most probably what prevents you from attaining calmness. (About your mental conditions I cannot comment, only a specialist can help you with that.)Too much effort, too much energy only agitates the mind. Don't neglect the other factors of the noble 8-fold path.

I want you to know and keep in mind that you cannot force samadhi to happen. What you can do, is to develop wisely appropriate conditions so that samadhi will come to you naturally when the necessary factors and conditions are balanced and developed to the right "combination" (for lack of a better word).

Don't be too hard to yourself and remember that your efforts aren't useless. Kamma will bear fruit eventually.
If your mind is agitated a lot, try to balance energy by practicing walking meditation. If I remember correctly walk slower as normal and observe the walking to reduce energy, when the mind settles go to a normal pace, when it becomes calm enough and stable try to sit, but don't do it with the desire to get, to attain. Observe and learn what agitates the mind, what calms it and thus I hope you may progress.

best wishes, acinteyyo
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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lotus flower » Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:37 pm

Acinteyyo thanks. I practice walking meditation before sitting.... Force? Too much effort? i just try to keep the concentration when i focus on the meditation object. It doesn't means i force samadhi...
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by dxm_dxm » Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:13 pm

I was asking weather when you see hear something you know it is not real and is because of the mental ilness (like in psichadelics) or if you really believe it is real (like in delirants). If an alien enters the room, do you think it is real or not ?
Force? Too much effort? i just try to keep the concentration when i focus on the meditation object. It doesn't means i force samadhi...
Every time I meditate, there is this desire to reach something present. I am very sure everybody has this problem. As long as the slightest bit of desire to reach jhana is still there, jhana can not be reached. However much you might want not to have this desire, it will still be there. If you try to think at things that you think will make this desire become smaller, it will not work. The only way to make this desire not exist is probably by focusing on the breath and just ignore that desire.

In order to eat a chocholate, you first need to want to eat a chocholate. Everything in this world is like this but at jhana it is the oposite so it is very strange for us. In order to reach jhana, you have to not have a desire to reach it. So, probably when you lay down to meditate, you should take as your nr.1 desire the desire to increase your concentration. Also you should not blame yourself or feel sad because you notice you still have the desire to reach jhana. Every person has this and blaming yourself is something bad for meditation. You might feel blaming yourself is something good and moral but meditation is a very pragmatic practice. If something is not helpfull, it is thrown away whether it is true or false, moral or imoral. I blamed myself a lot during editation because of the mind wantering off too much, having the desire to reach jhana, not been able to reach jhana, meditating worse than the day before etc. etc. You should congratulate yourself everytime you return your focus to the breath, that's the advice I read on accestoinsight and it was very helpfull :anjali:

Also, using medication is something that should be viewed very pragmatic. Some might be puritanic and say any substance put in your body is bad and not respecting the 5th percept. The thing in buddhism is that it is very pragmatical. If there exist a way to make your mind calmer and less of a danger to others that should of course be done. Maybe you have noticed I am very against medication for depression because probably 95% of the time it is not needed and not helpfull, just sold for profit but this is not the case in other ilness. Even in depression, there are people so low that taking medication might be the only thing that helps them and those around them to live a more happy life. So I just wanted to point out that me and other people who are antipsichiatry around here are like that in regards to the overmedication of normal people labeled depressed by people who want to make a profit and against lying in general. Buddhism is pragmatical, not like jehovah witness. If something is helpfull and conductive of peace, it is good.

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by lotus flower » Mon Jan 25, 2016 4:48 pm

Dxm: I see things which can not be real. For example coloured rings in the air. Or something like this. I simply know it is not real because coloured rings are not real, these are not in our world. I never saw alien. But if i would see one i couldn't know is this real or not. Or if i would see a bird in the window i couldn't know is this real or not. Sometimes i hear a maan's voice who say hello. I simply know these things can not be real, i know these things are only in my mind because there is no man in the house. And no coloured ring. The medication helps but not always. When i didn't took medication i had much more hallucinations.

What you wrote about jhana is very helpful. Thank you.
We found the teaching of the Buddha. Be grateful for it... We can meditate... Be grateful for it... We know that this universe is the samsara. Be grateful for it... We have THE CHANCE TO ATTAIN NIBBANA. Be grateful for it... :buddha1: :buddha2:

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by acinteyyo » Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:29 pm

lotus flower wrote:Force? Too much effort? i just try to keep the concentration when i focus on the meditation object. It doesn't means i force samadhi...
Okay, but the question is why you do it. I mean, ask yourself honestly what is your main motivation each time when you sit down to meditate or start walking. If you sit down to meditate, thinking "now I sit down and concentrate til I reach samadhi" but you neglect all the other necessary conditions, I'm quite sure it won't work that way.
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: Sad i want to attain jhanas but i have mental illnesses. Anyone else who have mental illness and practice meditation

Post by Pinetree » Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:20 am

i just try to keep the concentration when i focus on the meditation object.
How do you do that, how does that work for you ?

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