Impermanence?

At the beginning practicing mindfulness was hard. Could not hold a session for more than 2-5 minutes, and even in that time my mind was going to every direction. Feelings, sensations, thoughts, I was distracted by everything.

Then it seemed that I was getting the hang of it – sessions were getting easier, 10, 15, 20 minute sessions were possible. Sure, I had distractions, but I was able to be non-reactive and non-judgmental (to some degree). It seems that I was in the “mindfulness zone”. I was actually seeing the benefits and liked doing these sessions.

But lately it seems to take a turn for the worse. Again, I cannot concentrate, I am distracted by everything. Dark feelings are distracting me, I’m feeling crushed by them. Sometimes I even find myself tearing, feeling sadness beyond any reason or control.

One of the thing mindfulness teaches is impermanence, that everything passes. When everything was OK I was grasping to the good feelings, and now when they passed I feel like I did something wrong. On the other hand now that everything is bad I can’t seem to shake the feeling that it will never go away. It’s here to stay.

I start the session and I feel that I’m about to burst in tears. I feel as if a dark vice is grabbing my insides. My chest is burning, my stomach is turning. Something is twisting, turning, suffocating, and seems to only be growing inside me, here to consume what is left. Did it ever hear of impermanence, does it know that it need to go away? Or is it here to stay?

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Non Reactivity – Practice

I’m trying to practice non-reactivity and I find it very difficult. It is split into four lessons: Non-reactivity to body sensation, to sound, to thought and finally to feelings.

Body sensations – almost every session I find myself aching or itching, want to move myself to a more comfortable position or simply scratch. Eventually, as mindfulness suggest, everything passes, even the most persistent each. You need to make a note and let it pass. Problem is that if the itch is too strong I can’t simply nod it off – it’s painful. In the time during a session when it itches I find myself going back to the itch over and over. It’s hard to concentrate that way. I do progress though, at the beginning I had to move and each, and now I can sit still and not each during the entire meditation.

Sounds – I find it easier to get over sound and not get distracted to much by sounds. One thing is that if the sound is loud and very sudden I get startled, my heart start pumping, simulating the same reaction my body has when anxious or stressed. Take a little while to get back to the breathing and let my pulse get back to normal.

Thought – At the beginning this was the hardest thing to control. Thoughts come and go, and the bad ones just stay there, make you more anxious. Endless thoughts that seems to be extremely important, and I have to pursue them or they will be lost forever, seems to come exactly when I need to be focused on the now, on my breathing, on anything but them. Every thought just stayed there, making me more anxious, more stressed. I couldn’t count the seconds until the session would be over, in order to write down everything. I wrote them down, everything that I remembered. I put a pen and paper near me because I knew that I’ll become anxious to write. Slowly I saw that some thoughts repeat themselves, some thoughts are the same thoughts that I think when not meditating. Slowly, I could let go and focus on the breathing, on the now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard, some thoughts cling, some thoughts make me a little anxious, but I can note them and let them pass. Sometimes a little label help ‘worries’, ‘thoughts about the future’, etc. I try to note them, not ignoring them (especially the bad ones), and let them go, let them drift away while I focus back on my breathing. It’s not easy, but it’s becoming easier.

Emotions – The hardest no doubt about it. I am always stressed. Most of the time I’m stressed but not in a sense of panic, but in a sense of being alert, always suspecting something to go wrong, one might call it ‘survival mode’. It’s very hard to put this emotion aside and surrender to the now during meditations. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t alert that something might go wrong, that things won’t go as planned. When any event rises, let’s say a thought or sound, I can be non-reactive to it, but usually the process will cause stress to rise, just from being alert that this time I might not be able to be non-reactive to the event. Being non-reactive to one event triggers another event which is harder to ignore.

When I’m anxious I’m trying to meditate, and during the process of the meditation other events might cause me more stress and anxiety. There were times, not too many, that I think I ended the meditation with more anxiety than when I started.

Hope that it will become easier as I practice more.

Non Reactivity

Non-reactivity is to observe your thoughts and feelings and any environmental circumstances with a more detached outlook. Instead of labeling events (such as sensations, thoughts and feelings) in your life with ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you learn to accept things as they are without reacting to them.

I’m having some trouble with the concept and with the practice itself.

To accept things as they are without reacting to them seems like a sure way to not make a difference. You move and change things in your life as a reaction to events. If you would accept (shrug and nod) anything that happens in your life, you would not progress, you would not evolve, you would not improve. How can you be non-reactive to everything and yet be stimulated to progress and improve yourself?