I just concentrate on my breath for 10-20 minutes at a time. Take in a diaphragmatic inhale, hold for 4 seconds, release for 6 seconds (technique used by Navy SEALS). Repeat this and focus on the sensations going on in your body such as the feeling of air rushing through your nose, the life of oxygen in your lungs, the dissipation of stress as you exhale through your mouth. Inhale, hold, exhale, repeat. Your mind will naturally try to distract you and chew on problems going on in your life, but it's important to recognize that it's only a fruitless thought and your immediate purpose is to focus on your breath and survive.
After ~15 minutes of this, I stop consciously breathing and just observe the sensations going through my body. Most immediately, you will notice you continue breathing, even though you're no longer consciously doing it. This is a subconscious activity, what other subconscious activities are going on in your body? Start recognizing the sensations in your toes and move up your body, it feels like a body scan that relaxes whatever body part your conscious of.
Once you feel satisfied, wake up, notice your surroundings, and feel the refreshing glow of calm happiness.
I found many mentions of another approach advertised as used by Seals: square or box breathing, discussion on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13508038
I am observing that it is helping me become mindful of my thoughts. Before, when thoughts appear in my head -- I don't take a second to say 'yes, that's my thought'. Now, when a thought, especially negative ones, come into my head -- I can observe it and reflect on it first, seeing it for what it is. It has helped me become the observer of my thoughts if that makes any sense.
I also notice I am calmer in lots of situations and less prone to rush or panic. I think it helped me become slower, calmer, more focused, and more clear-headed. I ended up quitting caffeine or weaning off of it, as I noticed that it was causing negative effects on my thinking and sleep. It also helped me self-reflect and assess my life every day.
I recommend if you want to try meditation, do it consistently until it becomes a habit.
These techniques http://www.thewayofseeing.com/ helped me get meditating again. The drills I had done as a kid no longer worked, and the many variations I tried since haven't worked, for whatever reason.
I definitely encourage people to experiment, until they find something that works. Maybe it's tai chi, qi gong, hiking, the counting drills I'm doing now, sewing...
It's hard to explain, but physical pain was also reframed from negative 'pain' to simply neutral sensation.
I also found I had much less desire for stimulus. Usually when I'm cooking dinner or cleaning the house I feel the need to play a tv show or listen to a podcast, but after the retreat I could just experience the activity.
For a year after that I kept up between one and two hours a day, until I found that I was feeling a lot of guilt around the practice - when I put it off, when I wasn't able to find time. It seemed like I had begun to miss the point, so I stopped. I'm getting back into it currently, though.
I'd highly recommend the practice, especially learning by going to a ten-day retreat. It really gave me an experience of what is possible with meditation - true peace and fulfillment.
What does it mean to reframe physical pain? How reframing changed your experience of physical pain?
We've conditioned ourselves to pay close attention to pain for obvious reasons (e.g. something presents an acute threat to our survival), and we respond by escaping the sensation as quickly as we can.
With practice, we can learn to accept pain as any another sensation. If you're not afraid of death, it won't bother you at all. If (like most of us) you do, next time you stub your toe, recognize your conditioned response of trying to soothe the pain, just try leaning into it a bit. Know it won't kill you. Just take the opportunity to explore the experience and try to understand it more deeply. Remind yourself that you're not in danger, accept you can't unstub your toe (or whatever it may be), realize that the fight or flight response isn't necessary or appropriate, you can take more of your attention back from it than you gave it in the first place. It will still hurt, but you can make it much quieter, as it were.
Have we conditioned ourselves to acknowledge pain? It seems to me that we evolved the ability to have pain, which is, by definition, a sensation that grabs your attention right away.
> If you're not afraid of death, it won't bother you at all.
Am I understanding your phrasing correctly? That, if you're not afraid of death, then physical pain won't bother you at all? I don't think that's right.
Another q: What kind of benefit/enlightenment do you achieve by leaning into the pain of a stubbed toe? Why lean in to it and pretend that you're "above the pain", instead of shouting out a swear word, complaining about it for a minute or two, and then moving on with your life?
I don't know if I understand what you mean. I agree that we evolved to have pain for a very important reason and that it's extremely useful to react to it differently than other sensations. But does a relatively light, non-life-threatening pain need to take so much of your attention once you realize you're not in danger?
>Am I understanding your phrasing correctly? That, if you're not afraid of death, then physical pain won't bother you at all? I don't think that's right.
I'm not saying submit to it willingly, or not to escape if it's possible, but otherwise yes. To me it's the struggling against the pain that causes suffering.
>Another q: What kind of benefit/enlightenment do you achieve by leaning into the pain of a stubbed toe? Why lean in to it and pretend that you
Kind of, yeah. It's something I've experimented with. The longer I focus on something painful the less it bothers me. It just sort of feels hot. But once I start to do something else with my body that agitates it, it provokes the strong response that takes my attention away immediately. I'm not that quick to take it back, or turn it down, yet. It's the revoking of ALL my attention while I'm trying to do something else makes me feel angry, like anyone being nagged with useless information at relentless volume and frequency. Nothing you can do except give it less of your attention and remember that getting angry is the exact opposite thing. It does take a lot of practice, I think.
>And this ability comes as a result of meditation?
Definitely. Meditation is the practice of training your attention, among other things.
>Can the same thing be achieved by telling someone to "suck it up" if they stub their toe?
It depends. If you said that to a stranger, they'd tell you to go to hell (more or less). If you said it to someone to whom you were the whole world, you'd create a louder pain that would drown it out. But they'd still be suffering.
Thanks again for your responses. A lot of the meditation talk still sounds a lot like "it was great but hard to explain, but you had to be there". I want to try it soon.
My pleasure - that's kind of the thing. All subjective experiences are impossible to define until we create words for them and know that we've shared the same experience with others. But we know that subjective experience is completely real. And it's everything.
The pain of sitting for 10 hours a day was actually just a feeling of... energy? I struggle to find a fitting word. A fly landing on my face was no longer annoying; it was a blissful reminder to stay in the present moment.
I hope that answers your question.
I do around 25-30 minutes of meditation session usually right after bath & try to do 10 minutes before sleep.
Most of the time, I'm able to be thoughtlessly aware. But trying to be more steady.
After trying various meditation techniques, I found "Sahaja Yoga" & life has been gradually becoming peaceful & enjoyable. Give it a try. It's free of cost & the most beautiful experience you can have on planet earth.
Visit Sahaja Yoga center nearby & ask anyone where can I get self-realization.
If you want more information, please comment. I'll be happy to help.
I can meditate anywhere. But usually I sit in half-lotus, slowly easing myself into a blank state. I think about radiating outward. Anywhere from 5-25 mins.
Never did a retreat.
The problem with meditation is I think that it can release a latent and light form of schizophrenia. Things that society values, you no longer value as much. It makes it tougher to fit in with "normal" people. The benefit is that you can draw your path more clearly and execute more clearly. I'd like to hear others' opinions as well.
One example is working at a bad job. The average person will sacrifice their happiness to work at this bad job, because it pays the bills, because it would look bad on you to quit, etc. They live their life in fear and misery, but will suppress it until it becomes too much and they explode. When a person has the experience of observing the sensations in their body, they will be able to recognize unhappiness early on and are more likely to move on before they explode.
It does make it a little tougher to fit in with "normal" people because we have completely different priorities, but I would say we have a greater grasp on our own happiness, which is way more important in the grand scheme of things.
These days are very busy; working 15-18hs a day is normal routine. Being in meetings, talking to clients, making business decisions and still being involved in coding, which requires a lot of focus stresses concentration and eventually health.
I know that meditation can help me. Every time I take the time for it, and may it be 5 minutes, helps me a bit already. I have not yet been able to do it on a daily basis at a fixed point in time even though I had the chance to do so.
How does it help me? I experienced me to be calmer and more thoughtful when I practiced Zazen (my mediation style) over a longer period of time. Days become longer, that is, I am more focused on every small moment. I am not stressed by external factors that much, not angry, never in a hurry mentally - my inner self stays calm even when I am faced with a difficult situation.
I highly recommend meditation to everyone I talk to about topics like stress, work life balance or being more thoughtful. Mediation does not only mean to sit concentrated on a cushion. Going to the gym, taking a walk or “just” sitting on a chair - all of these can be some kind of meditation when practiced with mindfulness. Meditation is not about doing that one thing, it’s about finding your own right way, and thus I think everyone can benefit from it.
After coming back, I feel much calmer. Very few negative thoughts occur in my mind and I noticed that I don't get worked up that easily. I somehow learned to not get angry at the slightest provocation.
Not sure if this helps you, but thought I would put it out there.
Breaking the loop of "negative" physical sensation -> negative emotion/thought is freeing. Feeling tightness in your chest does not require you to become afraid, it just means you are feeling tightness in your chest. But typically we have years of stimulus/response conditioning so we jump to the negative thought / emotion once the sensation arises.
I meditate 10-30 minutes ~5x a week, usually breath counting or doing the above. I found Noah Elkrief's videos helpful.
My meditation tends to be simple - wherever I am, I pretty much just take a seat, time a few deep breaths, keep my eyes closed, and either reflect with an objective in mind or just let my mind wander for 10 to 15 minutes. No mobile app, no fancy bells or whistles, nothing like that. No set schedule either, though I'm sure some sort of set schedule would be a great way to approach meditation and be more measured about meditating.
It helps but not as much as I would like.
If you see a benefit, consider it "proven," if not consider it a still unanswered question. That being said, I recall having once come across some interesting research in neuroscience dealing with meditation. However, it being neuroscience and not psychology, I don't think the research set out to ascertain any proclaimed "perceived" benefits. Just understanding the impact on the brain, neurologically, of meditation. I will try to link if I can recover the source.
What sort of methodology do you suppose can better attribute causality to a subjective experience? This is as far as the scientific method is willing to go, and the results are unanimous.
there are more, just google it.
i was skeptical as well, but i've found that TM has helped me be a bit more relaxed and 'aware'.
He describes the benefits of meditation from a skeptic and neuroscientist's perspective.
Since this will inevitably come up, I am liberal, and yes I still go. If you’re liberal and don’t like church, one thing I would suggest is that by going to church, you can actually make it more liberal instead of leaving it to others. Also fyi gays are the new jews and will be fully integrated like Jews were between 1930-1960 (until 1959 it was legal in Houston, Texas to restrict Jews on the deed restriction!!).