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  • Billy Thorpe
    started a topic Guidance needed

    Guidance needed

    During my childhood and teenage years I was severely bullied and ostracised at school and my home life was also very chaotic with my parents fighting a lot and using physical violence to discipline me. This led to a lack of trust in people, a lack self confidence, chronic depression and a drug addiction.

    I begun to dabble in meditation in my 20s as I was so unhappy that I thought I might find some answers about how to be happier. It wasn't until 20 years later though that I became interested in Buddhist teachings and begun to take meditation more seriously. So for 5 years I have meditated everyday for 1-2 hours. I also try to do some mindful walking. I attended a retreat last year for the first time and experienced a lot of very intense emotions as well as some wonderful altered states where I felt like I was floating. I felt alive for the first time in my life.

    Since the retreat my practice has slowly been feeling more and more difficult to keep up. I am overwhelmed with boredom and aversion. I have lots of thoughts that never ever stop racing through my mind. I never seem to reach a place of stillness anymore but instead I just feel agitated. I also find myself craving a lot to feel those sensations I felt on the retreat.

    I feel like I want to get some results from this practice. I don't feel like I'm becoming a happier more equanimous person. In fact I'm close to giving up because it just feels meaningless like I'm sitting there doing nothing and wasting my time. I have tried to do some metta practice and I understand that this should become easier and more natural but for me it has not. I don't feel much kindness at all. I feel sympathy sometimes. I think because of my damaged trust in people it's very very hard for me to feel any sense of kindness towards them. I resent people more than I feel kindness. After the retreat I did but now I'm back to where I was. Most of the time I just feel half dead, empty, numb, flat, bored and angry that I can't feel happy. I know I sound really screwed up but that's where I am at.

    I have tried to do vipassana style body scans but my mind is so all over the place that it's impossible for me to concentrate on an area of my body in the way that is required so I usually sit and focus my attention on my abdomen rising and falling. Then my mind wonders then I bring focus back to the abdomen. But after all these years of doing this as I said it feels meaningless.

    I need some kind of goal or intention or I will just ditch the practice. Enlightenment is not good enough because it's like a carrot dangling in a stick. Nobody really knows if they will get there or even if it's true. I guess I need some guidance of some sort. I have been told to seek a teacher and so I went to some sanghas but I found it very boring and the people were not so friendly.

  • Bhikkhu Sunyo
    replied
    Hi Billy,

    I'm sorry to hear of your troubles. As I understand you these feelings have been going on for a while, haven't they? If they are really strong and long lasting, and it is getting stronger, perhaps visit a doctor. It could be a chemical imbalance.

    Either way, as I said, meditation will help. I am not really familiar with the kind of meditation they do at the place you mentioned. Do they also do loving kindness meditation? I would really recommend that. Especially sending kindness towards yourself. This will give you more self respect, which is something that depressed people seem to be missing a lot. If you use google I'm sure you can find plenty of information on it.

    But alongside meditation I would add some other things as well. Relationships, a healthy diet, exercise: all those sort of things.

    Are you talking to anybody about this? Any close friend or family member? Talking can really help. A lot of people have feelings of sadness or depression. It's normal. Please know it is no failure of yours and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I wish some of the people I know/knew would have been more open about their feelings, so I could at least have let them know I would be there for them.

    What kind of work are you doing? Is it something you care about?

    By the way, I have not read what you have read, but (although I admit I do not fully know what it means) I do not really agree that a "self cherishing mind" is what causes depression. I think accepting/loving/embracing yourself is actually an important factor in getting out of depressions.


    With kindness,
    Sunyo

    Leave a comment:


  • Billy Thorpe
    replied
    Originally posted by Venerable Sunyo View Post
    Hi dear Billy,

    First of all sorry for the late response. I was away from the monastery for a few weeks.

    The meditation practice has its ups and downs for everybody. Perhaps try to focus on the positives: you've had some nice experiences during the retreat, so at least you know what's possible now. Sometimes it takes a while to build up the practice up till the point where such nice states of mind can arise. A retreat is of course a good environment for this, but it is also possible outside of it. Can I ask where you did your retreat, by the way?

    Once you get more experience and more wise about things, it should get easier to hit the 'sweet spot' and it'll happen more frequent. It's a practice like any others. Please remember what is possible for you. You did it before and you can do it again. Don't give up. Deep inside your mind knows which way to go. It'll just take time.

    I think the following practice can help. Try to see how a single meditation session helps you. Almost all meditation sessions improve our state of mind, although sometimes only slightly. After each meditation session ask yourself how you feel then, compared to how you felt when you started. You'll find that there is usually a increase in peace and happiness. Instead of focussing on a big change all of a sudden--like you experienced on retreat--focus on those small changes. Let that be your goal instead of having a big goal.

    That aside, I don't think meditation will be the magical cure for everything. It will most certainly help a lot, but of course it is only a single thing.

    I think visiting some sanghas will be helpful. Maybe give it some more time to grow on you. Also, keeping the 5 precepts as best as you can is something I would strongly recommend. Do you know them?

    That's all I have for now, as far as I can judge from this position. Do you think this may help?

    All the best,

    Sunyo
    Hi Sunyo,

    Thanks for the reply. I did the retreat at the insight meditation centre in the blue mountains. Sometimes my mind gets really clouded with this negative feeling. I wake up and feel dreadful. I think of all the things I "should" be doing and I feel a sense of deflation and apathy about all of it. I feel overwhelmed and weighed down by what is required of me in this capitalist society I have been born into and then I feel really sluggish and unhappy.

    Its very difficult to pull myself out of that place because when I am there its very hard to remember that Im not always like that. In the same way, when I feel good I forget that I dont always feel good. I have tried turning towards these difficult feelings and gently allowing them to be there, knowing they are impermanent phenomena like everything else but when they persist for hours or days then I can't help but hate them and want them to go away.

    I have been reading about the Buddhist view on depression and how its a self cherishing mind that causes it. I dont feel like I am intentionally being self absorbed though. Its like a fog just descends upon me and I can't see.

    Its very frustrating because one day I am making plans to do some volunteer work to help others and change my self focused view and then the next I am full of self loathing, hating the world and feeling trapped. Sometimes I feel like even when trying to help others I come up against a wall and its just too difficult.
    One part of me really wants to be a more kind compassionate person but this other part of me just won't seem to back off and shut for a minute so that I can make some changes.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bhikkhu Sunyo
    replied
    Hi dear Billy,

    First of all sorry for the late response. I was away from the monastery for a few weeks.

    The meditation practice has its ups and downs for everybody. Perhaps try to focus on the positives: you've had some nice experiences during the retreat, so at least you know what's possible now. Sometimes it takes a while to build up the practice up till the point where such nice states of mind can arise. A retreat is of course a good environment for this, but it is also possible outside of it. Can I ask where you did your retreat, by the way?

    Once you get more experience and more wise about things, it should get easier to hit the 'sweet spot' and it'll happen more frequent. It's a practice like any others. Please remember what is possible for you. You did it before and you can do it again. Don't give up. Deep inside your mind knows which way to go. It'll just take time.

    I think the following practice can help. Try to see how a single meditation session helps you. Almost all meditation sessions improve our state of mind, although sometimes only slightly. After each meditation session ask yourself how you feel then, compared to how you felt when you started. You'll find that there is usually a increase in peace and happiness. Instead of focussing on a big change all of a sudden--like you experienced on retreat--focus on those small changes. Let that be your goal instead of having a big goal.

    That aside, I don't think meditation will be the magical cure for everything. It will most certainly help a lot, but of course it is only a single thing.

    I think visiting some sanghas will be helpful. Maybe give it some more time to grow on you. Also, keeping the 5 precepts as best as you can is something I would strongly recommend. Do you know them?

    That's all I have for now, as far as I can judge from this position. Do you think this may help?

    All the best,

    Sunyo
    Last edited by Bhikkhu Sunyo; 8th-March-2016, 08:15 AM.

    Leave a comment:

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