Suffering During Meditation… Watching Discomfort
One set up the garage as a meditation haven today. The bug light is in there to take care of mosquitoes. The Buddhists in the forests have mosquito nets which don’t necessitate taking their lives–but this one doesn’t have the luxury. It was done in mindfulness.
One drank some hot coffee before entering the garage and its 85+ heat and high humidity just to see if one could suffer more this time. One was reading the book by Levine called Gradual awakening that spoke of the times when meditation appears to be going badly is actually a time of great growth if one can come through it without attaching to or desiring better circumstances like (cooler, more comfy, less bugs, less noises outside,etc.)
It didn’t take one long before immersed in sweat, heat, and a position sitting on towels on top of the jacuzzi cover (thick hard foam). As soon as this one started, there was noticed a sharp pain coming from sweat entering an abrasion on one’s ankle where the hands remained. One started to move them away to erase the pain, but then stopped and re-placed them so that the pain would continue.
Not wanting things to be different is a concept that needs to start being followed. Sweat started to run down the body and tickled. A couple of mosquitoes did get to me and the itch was very intense towards the last 20 minutes or so of sitting. Through it all one was able to remain in what a book described as the sunyatta state (annatta) which is voidness and non-self. I really would like to avoid the fluff of Pali and Thai language which isn’t necessary in order to have or describe the experience.
One did not have thoughts of how it could be better. One did not reach to quell itching or pain or sweat from tickling various parts of the body. One just sat with it. Occasionally when concentration seemed fairly steady one would concentrate on the pain or discomfort to try to see the nature of it. One found that one could only concentrate on one discomfort at a time and that though multiple situations appeared to be bothering the body at once, in reality there were many competing stimuli vying for that crucial attention necessary to perceive them. One found that when attention was shifted from one to another that the original disturbance did not bother this one–unless the attention was shifted back to it.
One concentrated on focusing attention to the sensation of the nostrils as air passed over them on the inhalation and the exhalation. Though one was not able to maintain concentration very well throughout the sitting one was able to watch the process of thoughts arising and leading to other thoughts and eventually the whole process leading to full blown little fantasies played out in the mind!
It was incredible how small a diversion from the concentration on the breath it takes to divert the entire mind to another direction all together! One time one noticed that the bug zapper made a noise. This led to a thought that maybe some flies were in the air. Then this led to a thought about other possible bugs and lizards and spiders that may be crawling about. This led to a video picture in ones mind about some horrific creature that had big teeth! One felt the urge to laugh then because the whole process of diversion took just a couple seconds.
One immediately got back to the focus on the breath. This process happened many times tonight–perhaps a hundred or more–though not always completing a coherent thought sequence. Many times one caught the process as soon as it started. It seems to start with something perceived…some sound, pain, feeling, desire, etc. The mind takes this thing perceived and reacts instantaneously with whatever is within the mind to take the sensation to a different focus–perhaps as a way to entice the attention to follow it and not see it for what it was to start with–just a pain or sound or whatever.
Anyway, the further the mind can carry one away with the chain of reactions the more clever and far away from the original sensation the movement gets!!! It was not unlike my Freudian free association idea in which one follows a thought and its subsequent reactions down the line until we see what becomes of it.
The mind naturally does this on its own and infinitely better than we can do while consciously aware and choosing each word. The mind strings together chains of thoughts and reactions in a seemingly continuously flowing line of thought. The curious thing is that the result of its process is very far removed from the original sensation.
Mind is built for regurgitation and linking similar thoughts/experiences/perceived sensations/goals/desires/opinions/wants/things we want to be/ etc. That is all mind is–a storage bank, an infohouse. Much deeper is the soul or spirit that can guide with wisdom and in consonance with the one consciousness of the world (all that is).
Just have to write an incredible example that Levine wrote in the above mentioned book. He wrote that the only difference in the pleasure received from touching your lover sexually and touching rotting bird carcass is the contents of the mind. (Not as explicitly–but same idea). Everything that we’ve been taught and conditioned with decides feelings!