mindfulness practice and eye tiredness/pain

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    • #26021
      PBR
      Participant

      Hi,

      I have been practicing mindfulness in breathing meditation/body scanning /chanting (with understanding of the meaning of the Pali words) for more than a month now. These methods of practise provided me with a sense of relaxed state (cool breeze flowing within the body).Lately I am experiencing either pain in my eyes or extreme tiredness in eyes when I am trying to be mindful during many activities of the day. Due to recurring pain and tiredness in eyes, I stopped being mindful for a week and restarted recently. I am still experiencing tiredness in eyes. By mindfulness, I mean awareness and understanding of the activity. If it is chanting, then I am aware of words and the meaning it is conveying. If it is body scanning, I am trying to recognize sensations and understand the state etc.

      I noticed that when I am focusing/concentrating on being mindful, my eyes are strained a bit. When I relax them on purpose, I am loosing focus/concentration. While a right balance might be needed here. I am wondering if anyone experienced somewhat similar scenario.

      Any suggestions that would help me practice mindfulness for extended periods of time would be appreciated.

    • #26022
      y not
      Participant

      Welcome to the Site reddypapers.

      As I take it, what you are doing or trying to do is concentration rather than mindfulness. …”breathing meditation/body scanning /chanting (with understanding of the meaning of the Pali words)” Wilfully ordering the body into a regime of one sort or another.

      These are practices, rehearsed and tried out in the expectation of a result, a result expected in the body, in sensations in the body. While mindfulness is CONSTANTLY connecting anything you are doing or reflecting upon to a Dhamma concept or to Dhamma as Dhamma. You need not ‘DO’ anything. So for’extended periods of time’ read: at ALL times…and ANYwhere, and in ANY position.

      I hope this and the replies of others help.

    • #26023
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes. What was suggested by y not above could be the cause of your issues, reddypeppers.

      All our stresses have origins in greed, anger, and ignorance (of the teachings of the Buddha).
      – If we try to disregard those “root causes” and ask the mind to focus on something specific (like the breath), that just could be an added burden to the mind.

      We may not realize it (especially initially), but greed and anger lead to a lot of stress.
      – Furthermore, “meditation” should mostly involve contemplation of Dhamma concepts.

      If you can elaborate on whether you have anger issues or excess sensual attachments, that may help clarify possible specific solutions. But most people do not like to talk about personal issues, so that may not be a possibility.

      I would recommend the post, “Myths about Meditation” and then first few posts on “Bhāvanā (Meditation)

      After that, you could select other posts in the “Bhāvanā (Meditation)” section.

      Feel free to ask questions.

      P.S. Yesterday, I installed a “patch” suggested by the forum software people and it seems to work. Now the main forum page is being updated as comments are posted.

    • #26025
      PBR
      Participant

      Thank you for the feedback.

      Of the five hindrances to meditation, Sensual desires and Anger (short-tempered nature not directed towards anyone in particular) are in play. Sensual desires and Anger happen outside of meditation/mindfulness sessions –probably because during the sessions, I am either concentrating on breathing or body sensation scans.
      I notice/observe these sensual desires as body sensations when they arise. A lot of thinking/contemplation happens at this stage only to realize that all I can do is acknowledge its existence.
      Anger is noticed in my reactions (e.g., impatient responses during a phone call or in regular conversations –although not directed towards any particular person).

      Body scans/mindfulness is often performed during less involved activities (e.g., waiting at a doctor’s office, sitting in a commute, etc).

      Meditation/mindfulness sessions over the past two months have definitely helped me to know more about Dhamma. I am not sure at this stage on how to continue in the path with the interruptions (due to eye pain/ tiredness and hindrances mentioned above).

      Some Background: My exposure to meditation is through a 10-day SN Goenka’s retreat that I underwent five years ago with an occasional review of the technique and discourses on youtube. Recently I started with the above-mentioned meditation practices, reading articles on puredhamma.net, and listening to audio/video links posted on discord channel “original buddha’s teaching”. For about two months or so, I tried to adhere to five precepts as much as possible with the exception of false speech mostly for privacy reasons.

    • #26031
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello PBR,

      The main issue that you (and many other people) have is to incorrectly assume that Anapanasati meditation is breath meditation.

      It just happens that Lodonyo had the same issue and he figured out the difference. Please read the topic, “Icchā, Ānāpānasati, Satipatthāna.”

      Feel free to ask questions after you read the relevant posts mentioned there and also in the above in my previous reply.

    • #26035
      PBR
      Participant

      While I am not concluding this post. I am iterating few of my learnings since this post so as to benefit someone who reads this post later

      I reread some of the articles on puredhamma.net. It does clarify the proper meaning of Anapanasati, and in my understanding it is essentially “taking in” of moral thoughts/actions and “discarding out” the opposite –essentially a process of purifying the mind.

      I also went through some discussions on SN Goenkas methods in the forums –it was also helpful. Apart from breath meditation I was also performing body sensation scanning, and listening to discourses on discord channel and elsewhere. I can recollect that the sensation of cool-breeze-flow throughout the body happened during listening the discourses. I was at one point contemplating that the trade-off is eventually to sustain this pleasant sensation while suppressing sensual desires and anger.

      While reading through the post on “1. Introduction to Buddhist Meditation” and in particular the audio discourse titled “The Hidden Suffering that We All Can Understand“. I realized that my situation was somewhat similar to what X (mentioned in the discourse) was going through. Where I was contemplating on the dilemma of sustaining pleasant sensations (niramisa sukha) and restraining/suppression of sensual desires. In case of X the dilemma was to sustain niramisa sukha or retain the joy and interests when reading novels or listening to music.

      To conclude –my limited understanding so far is:
      Living a moral life is the foundation layer.
      The focus of Anapanasati should be about purifying mind rather than calming the mind through breathing meditation.
      To sustain niramisa sukha and avoid going back to sensual desires, one needs to comprehend Annicca, Dukkha, and Anatta nature of life (which in turn helps live sustained moral life). This I understood from listening to the discourse but I don’t think I comprehend what it involves yet.

      Also, I am no longer experiencing eye-tiredness or pain. However, I still do have some discomfort around eyes and head.

    • #26036
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello PBR!

      You concluded:
      “..my limited understanding so far is:
      Living a moral life is the foundation layer.
      The focus of Anapanasati should be about purifying mind rather than calming the mind through breathing meditation.
      To sustain niramisa sukha and avoid going back to sensual desires, one needs to comprehend Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta nature of life (which in turn helps live sustained moral life). This I understood from listening to the discourse but I don’t think I comprehend what it involves yet.”

      That is exactly right.
      – Yes. It may take some time to understand the Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta nature of life.

      I am also glad to hear that your symptoms have improved. You will be able to not only get rid of them but also to experience some “lightness in the mind and the body” as well.
      – Also, living a simple life is beneficial too. Attachment to material things gives an illusion of happiness but carries with it a lot of stress. While there is no point in subjecting oneself to hardships, trying to live a luxurious life (doing things in excess) can cause stress too.
      – That is the “middle path” advocated by the Buddha.

    • #31722
      grenier
      Spectator

      Bonjour Lal,
      Bodhiketu said in his article ”Stages of the path:Stream Entry and Beyond” (Bodhiketu/Stream Entry & Beyond (WBR)8 : ”Within the Western Buddhist, the levels of ethical purity within the fourfold scheme have been elevated to such an extent that practitioners can become discouraged and less confident in themselves and their practices” Is it ”the” major task that many of practitioners are involved in?
      Merci, Grenier

    • #31724
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello Grenier,

      I did a Google search and found the following article: “Stages of the Path: Stream Entry and Beyond,by Bodhiketu

      I had not heard about Bodhiketu and I briefly read through the above article.
      – I don’t think he has a good understanding of Buddha Dhamma.
      – That is the case with many. They try to interpret Buddha Dhamma in their own way.

      If I start to comment on all those different people’s writings, I will have no time left to do anything useful.

    • #31725
      grenier
      Spectator

      Bonjour Lal,
      In your recent comments about ”a good understanding of Buddha Dhamma” and ”that Bodhiketu interprets Buddha Dhamma in his own way” I want to refer to Buddha himself explaining : ”This Dhamma is profound, hard to see and hard to understand…” Are you saying that , for we ”westerners”it is harder to understand as you say in your letter of Aug 3 2020, ”I do realize that it is hard for Westerners to understand some aspects of Buddha Dhamma” ? Merci

    • #31726
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes. I do.

      It has to do with the background that one is brought up.
      – Anyone can understand Buddha Dhamma IF they put their mind to it. The following are general statements based on my observations.
      – Most Westerners are brought up with the idea of a Creator God. So, understanding the intricacies of Buddha Dhamma is not easy. I see that many are struggling with the concept of rebirth. Even worse, the idea of the possibility of rebirth in the animal realm could be disturbing too. In many religions, animals are supposed to be created by God for human consumption.
      – Furthermore, they also face a lot of confusion because there are many versions of the Buddha Dhamma. So, one has to go through a lot of “stuff” out there, most of which is wrong. But how would one figure that out without looking at ALL that is out there?

    • #31729
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I was thinking a bit more about the above issue.

      It is a big problem. People try to mold Buddha Dhamma to their own world views.
      – In particular, secular Buddhists (Google the term and read about it), do not believe in rebirth. So, they have their own version of “Buddhism.”
      – Some others are scared of “extinction” at Nibbana. That is because they do not understand that there is no “soul-type” entity. Life is a series of “causes and effects”. Over long times that leads to much more suffering than any temporary happiness.

      All those are wrong views. One is not released from suffering as long as one has wrong views.

      The only thing I (or anyone else) can do is to present the teachings of the Buddha in its original form. Hopefully, at least some people will understand.
      – That is why I recently started a new series of posts to look at Buddha Dhamma from a more basic and fundamental level:
      Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach

    • #31730
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Lal said:
      “– Most Westerners are brought up with the idea of a Creator God. So, understanding the intricacies of Buddha Dhamma is not easy. I see that many are struggling with the concept of rebirth. Even worse, the idea of the possibility of rebirth in the animal realm could be disturbing too.”

      This is quite common. I had a discussion recently with someone calling himself Buddhist. When I brought up rebirth, this “Buddhist” launched right into a vehement denial of a human being reborn as an animal, claiming how unscientific that was. A cow, for example, can come from only a cow; same as with a human. For realms other than humans and animals, he disregarded them all together, saying there is “proof” for them.

      Another common position for secular Buddhists is to not think of rebirth at all. It is critical to just live happily “in the present moment”, then the next moment will be happy, and the one after that, and so on for the next birth (if there is one). I was in this camp.

      In my own experience, if we make rebirth the focal point, how precarious it is in the long run, then a lot of things make sense when we learn Buddha Dhamma.

    • #31731
      grenier
      Spectator

      Bonjour Lal,
      In your post -31726 , you said:”One has to go through a lot of ”stuff” out there…how would one figure that out without looking at ALL that is out there? ” It is a big job! As an example, I was reading Sujin Boriharnwanaket,”A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas” …The factors leading to enlightenment, and part 5, The Development of Insight…specificaly about sotapatti magga citta and it is very different of the position of Bodhiketu about a stream entrant…But what is ” the teachings of the Buddha in its original form?” So for us Westerners, ”to understand the intricacies of Buddha Dhamma is not easy”. Your suggestion to follow Bhikkhu Bodhi’s lecture set is the best advice I receive yet and I thank you for that reference, Merci, Grenier

    • #31732
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Cubibobi: “When I brought up rebirth, this “Buddhist” launched right into a vehement denial of a human being reborn as an animal, claiming how unscientific that was.”

      Science has undoubtedly made a lot of progress regarding INERT MATTER.
      – But it has made ZERO progress about the mind, as I pointed out in the new post: “Theories of Our World – Scientific Overview

      The following is a link to the lecture set by Bhikkhu Bodhi mentioned by Grenier:
      Bhikkhu Bodhi – 1 – The Buddha

      – I watched a couple of lectures just to make sure.
      – It is a great series of lectures for a beginner. It explains how to get to the MUNDANE eightfold path.
      – Of course, Bhikkhu Bodhi, like many learned bhikkhus of today, still translates anicca and anatta as “impermanence” and “no-self.” I DO NOT recommend his interpretations when he gets to such deeper issues.
      – Therefore, this series of lectures could ONLY be used as introductory material.

    • #31736
      grenier
      Spectator

      Bonjour Lal,
      I want to go back to your post #31724 and the article by Bodhiketu, ”Stages of the Path: Stream Entry and Beyond” (in Bodhiketu/Stream Entry & Beyond (WBR) 1 ) Bodhiketu mentions, on page 1 : ”The Western Buddhist Order has been going long enough now for there to be many of us who have practised sincerely and effectively for 20,30 and even 40 years. So are there Stream Entrants in the Order? If there are none, one could be forgeven for harbouring doubts. Has Sangharakshita overestimated our capacity? Have we failed to live up to our potential? Are the teachings and practices that we have adequate? ” I want to know why after you read his article, you said :” I don’t think he has a good understanding of Buddha Dhamma” What would be a good understanding? And in which way, Bodhiketu try to interpret Buddha Dhamma in his own way? Merci pour vos éclaircissements, Grenier

    • #31738
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello Grenier,

      Your quote of Bodhiketu merits some discussion. He says, “The Western Buddhist Order has been going long enough now for there to be many of us who have practiced sincerely and effectively for 20,30 and even 40 years. So are there Stream Entrants in the Order? If there are none, one could be forgiven for harbouring doubts.”

      1. The key is to figure out what he understands by the “Stream Entry” or the Sotapanna stage.
      – Did you see his idea of “Stream Entry” or how to get there? What did he expect to experience or gain once he got there? Apparently, he is discouraged by not being able to get there. But I am not sure he even KNOWS what “Stream Entry” means.

      2. Have you thought about what you expect from studying Buddha Dhamma?

      I would like to get some feedback on one or both of the above issues before I can respond.

    • #31754
      grenier
      Spectator

      Bonjour Lal,
      In your last post (#31738) speaking of Bodhiketu and ”Stream Entry”, you said : ”Apparently, he is discouraged by not being able to get there. But I am not sure he even knows what ”Stream Entry” means.” Could you gave me what ”you” mean by ”Stream Entry” who is not an ”ignorant comment”.
      Merci, Grenier

    • #31755
      Lal
      Keymaster

      As I explained to you in my email this morning, it is a concept that cannot be explained even in a single post. Please refer to what I recommended if you like to learn about it.

      After you go through at least some of the Bhikkhu Bodhi’s lectures AND have read some of the posts that I recommended, you can start reading the following section on “Stream Entry”:
      Sōtapanna Stage of Nibbāna

      Of course, if you like, you can start reading that section on the Sotapanna Stage now.
      – Since I have no idea about your background, you may well be able to comprehend that material now.
      – But if you don’t have that background, it may make more sense after you read some more basic concepts.

      In summary, what I mean by ”Stream Entry” is described in the posts at, “Sōtapanna Stage of Nibbāna

    • #33049
      Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing these ressources ;)

    • #33050
      Lal
      Keymaster

      You are welcome, Sangfeng!

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