Recommended Posts

We have some meditators here that are very good technical long meditators - it would be good to mention techniques for staying awake during what I refer to as "hitting unconsciousness". I use breathing techniques but I no longer know from what tradition they came (if any).

 

Ya Mu mentioned a comparison between Zen and Qi people meditating, wherein awareness was quite different and the creative part of the brain was stimulated in the Qi people.

 

I am not sure what the main differences are between a Zen meditation and a Qi aspect but I use a mix of teachings that I have learned over the years and also invented on my own, and staying in an aware state and not sleeping or going unconscious has never been a problem for me during meditation but it may be that Raja Yoga meditation is good at this which was my original early path or?

 

I do not want to imply that I don't hit walls of unconscious energy - I definitely have but I move through them - they usually only last a few minutes but sometimes they are quite tenacious - in any case, I do not stop the meditation. In some 40 years of meditation I can count on one hand the number of times I have fallen asleep or konked out from hitting a wall and I don't think I need all of the fingers.

 

I would say that in those 40 years I have very rarely stopped a meditation short because my body clearly needed sleep and meditation was pointless, probably also something I could count on one hand. I bring this up because one should start meditating with a reasonably good bank of sleep already in ones space so that falling asleep should not be a technical problem ( you don't start if you are exhausted).

 

My point is that I agree with the general notion that it is highly beneficial to sit for long periods - certainly at least 1 hour.

But quite a few appear to have problems with the Unconscious Energy Walls and do not sit for more than 40 minutes and usually less than that.

 

If you can offer clear concise techniques that you have experience with for moving past the various walls to long meditation, please offer them up.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some years back, i attended a day's teaching given by a visiting lama. He was quite old, late 70s. He's been teaching for over 50 years. A few hours into the day, we noticed that he would nod off occasionally for a couple of minutes during the sessions, and sometimes we could even hear faint snoring :D , but what was truly astounding was how he could always continue the topic seamlessly upon stirring!

 

Later on, during Q & A, someone asked this teacher how he managed that feat, and he jokingly said he is usually wide awake all the time, even when he's dozing, and its us who can't tell that we are asleep even though our eyes are open.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a Great teacher that was very much the same - though as we became close, I would go off with him.

 

If anyone was watching us, we might be sitting there talking for awhile and then both of us would close our eyes having said nothing about doing so prior, and be off sometimes "far away" and then we would open our eyes back up in unison and converse about what took place.

Edited by Spotless
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ok i think i get it what you mean. During meditation we end up falling into a not-effective non-alerted awareness?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ok i think i get it what you mean. During meditation we end up falling into a not-effective non-alerted awareness?

 

And/or we stop our meditation and call it a day.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed on physical movement

 

In my experience the unconscious energy is best surpassed with coherent breath mechanics, which eventually extends into correct energy mechanics in some sense. Making efficiency gains is important. So the answer to the question changes as one's meditation changes, to a certain degree.

 

The biggest key for me was working with the niwan, techniques like "turning the light around" from secret of the golden flower, which basically becomes a calm clear "abiding" (since not all definitions really fit) in the light that manifests there. The better that happens, the more "meditation" becomes "sitting peacefully for a short while."

 

But those things dont seem to happen solidly until things like breath mechanics until maximal efficiency, dantien breathing, other things like harmonizing the waxing and waning of the niwan and lower dantien...

 

This is why as a beginner it might not necessarily be productive forcing oneself in the more stern interpretation of the term abiding. The energetics that make it a nice short peaceful sit where the clock as ticked many more times than it feels like become important for long sessions, imho. Other than that it really does feel like hours on end, and your brain not being in an optimal energetic configuration will note those hours on end, all sorts of mundane energetics that consume a lot of mental energy (think thoughtstreamenergy) take their toll and then the consciousness becomes dull.

 

So when I stress shutting up the cranial nerves - doing so also usurps the potential normally manifested as thought stream energy - and there are less of these drains on the conscious energy, making deep states and long sessions a great deal easier.

can also mention that "fixing the spirit at the seat of awareness" is the first technique mentioned in luk's taoist yoga.

 

given that the inclusion of the technique made meditative signposts appear 20-30% more quickly in terms of breath duration when utilized well... ;)

Edited by joeblast
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/9/2014 at 6:17 AM, joeblast said:
can also mention that "fixing the spirit at the seat of awareness" is the first technique mentioned in luk's taoist yoga.

 

given that the inclusion of the technique made meditative signposts appear 20-30% more quickly in terms of breath duration when utilized well... ;)

 

Can you expand on this 

 

Thank you in advance

Edited by Spotless

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure...I first came across the concept...well, I first came across the concept in 4th grade by a certain experience, but first read about it in YMAA's material where I first dipped my toes in on qigong & meditation. It gave methods to find the location, eventually you recognize an energy dynamic there, when manipulated in the body's yinyang, harmonizing the upper and lower dantiens is a method to help cultivate the central channel, taiji pole, shushumna, however one wishes to describe that.

 

The premise is that the energetic pineal-pituitary dynamic forms the upper energetic node, the upper analogue to the lower dantien. (Upper dt, niwan, analogous terms)

 

Many references to describe it....I like Drew's "the source of the I-thought" concept...I also like the seat of awareness concept, denoting a main attachment point of body-spirit...in Taoist Yoga, Luk makes reference to later pitfalls if this technique is not utilized.

 

The light that forms in the lower dantien eventually rises up and replicates itself at the niwan - curious thing that the ol taoists knew the pineal gland was the size of a grain of rice - but when this happens it gives the practitioner a real experience of the pineal gland's place as the "master endocrine control center" - every time I've gotten to sufficient depth, my metabolism has gone wild from this phenomena and I feel like I want another 700 calories a day for a length of time until the "surge" stabilizes over sessions.

 

play this in reverse ;)

 

animated_31.gif

 

if it werent so darned impossible to find a gif of the sun shining....yeesh! then I would have just re-animated it backwards.

 

curious yinyang in this, it is....it is like a Shepard Tone in some analogous sense...so put that is the context of "turning the light around" at the niwan.

 

 

So for a practitioner who has yet to establish any of this, best done via anapana>ldt breathing>upper dt breathing>harmonize over practice times. A long term practitioner will likely have intuitive sense for these concepts and already experienced plenty of related phenomena, regardless of whether one has a name to attach to any of it. But even simple techniques when revisited convey a ton :)

 

Hopefully that made sense :D

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Incorporating hand mudras like Kuji Kiri helps to maintain a steady energetic flow for a long session.

The whole set consists of 9 mudras. When done in correct order, really works for me without additional mantras or any other ritual, just by observing. I do each mudra for 9 minutes, or until the breath tends to halt and give me that nice happy , alight expansion, and after about 90 minutes I feel much more alive, and can do another set happily and easily, but feel no need.

I definitely recommend doing the set as a supplement to a long meditation session.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spotless, may I ask the reason why you meditate? As in, what are you trying to accomplish, if anything, by meditation? I think that if you were to receive a genuinely helpful answer, the people answering would need to know this first.

 

I regard meditation as mind training. As such it's similar to any training in that it is fitted to a purpose. So sprinters train and crosstrain in ways different from long distance runners. And a weight lifter trains in a way that's different from a gymnast and they achieve different, even if somewhat similar results.

 

Your training regimen needs to be tuned to your expectations. So what do you expect out of your meditation?

Edited by goldisheavy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Incorporating hand mudras like Kuji Kiri helps to maintain a steady energetic flow for a long session.

The whole set consists of 9 mudras. When done in correct order, really works for me without additional mantras or any other ritual, just by observing. I do each mudra for 9 minutes, or until the breath tends to halt and give me that nice happy , alight expansion, and after about 90 minutes I feel much more alive, and can do another set happily and easily, but feel no need.

I definitely recommend doing the set as a supplement to a long meditation session.

 

Very few know this stuff - important if you sit on a long meditation and do them without regard to their effect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spotless, may I ask the reason why you meditate? As in, what are you trying to accomplish, if anything, by meditation? I think that if you were to receive a genuinely helpful answer, the people answering would need to know this first.

 

I regard meditation as mind training. As such it's similar to any training in that it is fitted to a purpose. So sprinters train and crosstrain in ways different from long distance runners. And a weight lifter trains in a way that's different from a gymnast and they achieve different, even if somewhat similar results.

 

Your training regimen needs to be tuned to your expectations. So what do you expect out of your meditation?

Good question:

 

I am not actually looking for a helpful answer from any standpoint other than experiential help from long meditators with regard to associated problems and barriers that might be useful to those seeking to increase their time sitting.

 

 

I definitely do not regard meditation as mind training, if anything it is a vacation from mind but we in the West are like the difference between typical North Americas and Eskimos - we have very few words for snow whereas the Eskimos have many. Mind is used for so many aspects of spiritual endeavor that it may be we are speaking on the same line and I do not know it. There is some mind discipline for some time but this dissipates more and more while many other aspects become more prominent.

 

The way in which you have posed the request for further insight into my purpose for meditation is a real eye opener for me.

I have never approached it from the training standpoint you have - very utilitarian on its cover.

 

Many years ago I decided to give "this whole reincarnation / meditation / yoga (real yoga) thing" my full due diligence.

I do not want to go into the long list of reasons why I decided to give myself over to an intense and diligent practice at an age when I could have been sowing my oats instead but I began the overall process in order to truly see if this search for the miraculous was possibly on the right track which it seemed it was or if I was trodding along a path of fantasy.

 

The basic tools for giving due diligence to the path of enlightenment are pretty basic and pretty clear and pretty much involve meditation, breathing, diet, effort on oneself, self inquiry, intentional suffering, and time spent in practice. I was intensely interested in giving it my best effort and in each step I had no minor goals but I was aware of some of the things I might expect to see unfold along the way to "real verification" that this long path was indeed a path worth pursuing. I had come from a Catholic background and found it unacceptable, but this new direction while incredibly clean and true and exciting - it was a complete head spin by comparison.

 

I spent the next several years in practice - many hours each day including head stands, postures, fasting and a great deal of meditation - Raja Yoga. At the outset I could do full lotus and could put my leg behind my head (I was an x downhill ski racer and you train to be a rubber band for high speed stuff).

 

Several years later I was giving it all up because while it was excellent for so many reasons - Nothing had really happened that was not something that might easily be explained by the sheer physicality of the practice and the mental discipline.

But a funny thing happened on the way to quitting: My third Eye opened up and the rest is history.

 

Meditation is where things unfold - I do not know what will unfold.

My body likes it, my head likes it, my life likes it, my voice likes it, my eyes like it, my space and the space I encounter likes it.

 

Now I meditate when I am draw to it and I know it will do something similar to just going out and sitting in the sun for a time.

Currently meditation has taken on a whole new dimension but I do not have the words for it yet.

In a sense I could say that I expect meditation to do something like "sitting in the sun".

Edited by Spotless
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I definitely do not regard meditation as mind training, if anything it is a vacation from mind

 

The mind is a capacity to know, to experience and to will. How are you taking a vacation from this capacity? Also, if it's a vacation, why do you get tired or inconvenienced at some point?

 

I apologize if I am misunderstanding something, but on the face of it, it seems your question implies that beyond some length sitting is not a sustainable activity in your practice and you're looking for tips on how to extend your sitting time.

 

but we in the West are like the difference between typical North Americas and Eskimos - we have very few words for snow whereas the Eskimos have many. Mind is used for so many aspects of spiritual endeavor that it may be we are speaking on the same line and I do not know it. There is some mind discipline for some time but this dissipates more and more while many other aspects become more prominent.

 

Discipline is just one aspect one can train. One can train in spontaneity or abruptness and so on. In other words, qualities that are deliberately opposing to discipline can be intentionally cultivated, and that too is a kind of mind training.

 

The way in which you have posed the request for further insight into my purpose for meditation is a real eye opener for me.

I have never approached it from the training standpoint you have - very utilitarian on its cover.

 

Many years ago I decided to give "this whole reincarnation / meditation / yoga (real yoga) thing" my full due diligence.

I do not want to go into the long list of reasons why I decided to give myself over to an intense and diligent practice at an age when I could have been sowing my oats instead but I began the overall process in order to truly see if this search for the miraculous was possibly on the right track which it seemed it was or if I was trodding along a path of fantasy.

 

The basic tools for giving due diligence to the path of enlightenment are pretty basic and pretty clear and pretty much involve meditation, breathing, diet, effort on oneself, self inquiry, intentional suffering, and time spent in practice. I was intensely interested in giving it my best effort and in each step I had no minor goals but I was aware of some of the things I might expect to see unfold along the way to "real verification" that this long path was indeed a path worth pursuing. I had come from a Catholic background and found it unacceptable, but this new direction while incredibly clean and true and exciting - it was a complete head spin by comparison.

 

I spent the next several years in practice - many hours each day including head stands, postures, fasting and a great deal of meditation - Raja Yoga. At the outset I could do full lotus and could put my leg behind my head (I was an x downhill ski racer and you train to be a rubber band for high speed stuff).

 

Several years later I was giving it all up because while it was excellent for so many reasons - Nothing had really happened that was not something that might easily be explained by the sheer physicality of the practice and the mental discipline.

But a funny thing happened on the way to quitting: My third Eye opened up and the rest is history.

 

Meditation is where things unfold - I do not know what will unfold.

 

Ah. There it is. I think you've found your answer. You'll learn how to sit longer just by sitting longer, apparently? Meditation is where things unfold. I don't necessarily agree with you, btw. I myself do not believe that meditation is where things unfold.

 

My body likes it, my head likes it, my life likes it, my voice likes it, my eyes like it, my space and the space I encounter likes it.

 

Now I meditate when I am draw to it and I know it will do something similar to just going out and sitting in the sun for a time.

Currently meditation has taken on a whole new dimension but I do not have the words for it yet.

In a sense I could say that I expect meditation to do something like "sitting in the sun".

 

My approach to spirituality is, seemingly, drastically different from yours. But maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe by mixing with heterogeneous people you can ublock something.

 

In my experience, every meditator that hit a limit has hit a limit in their mind. Often it's very subtle stuff. For example, like what do you conceive your body to be, or how do you frame your effort in meditation, or the way you discriminate meditation from non-meditation, or a failure to recognize concerns that tend to bubble under the surface and a million other things of similar nature.

 

If you're looking for the miraculous, then relying on concentration to do all the heavy lifting makes for a path I myself would consider arduous.

 

Consider, do we really lack concentration in a mundane day to day life? Don't we tend to be obsessed? I mean, we are all concentrating pretty hard already on whatever it is we already do. So clearly concentration cannot be the full story here.

Edited by goldisheavy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I need to clarify something:

 

I did not start this post out of a personal need for ideas on how I might meditate longer. I typically sit for at least 1 to 4 hours and have regularly sat for 3-6 hours daily along with meditations well beyond and up into the 18 hour catagory.

 

Their are real benefits to long meditation and I would hope here we might share in clear experiential terms those things the have helped us to make it past some of the barriers that make long meditation seem more like a grueling endurance run rather than what it has been for me and others.

 

I am somewhat reminded of how people react to fasting in this regard.

Fasting requires next to no effort to do, costs basically nothing (actually saves you money), is fantastic for you and makes you feel physically awesome and re calibrates you within your body and is one of the most spiritual experiences you might have in your life - but apparently it all boils down to your preparation and mindset as to how your experience with fasting unfolds.

Edited by Spotless
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A word about very long meditation:

 

I have always started long (8+ hours) meditation in the morning to mid-afternoon. (At least to my best recollection)

It has never occurred to me to deprive myself of a toilet if the need arises - but I am blessed with a bladder that can hold over 32 ounces so frequent trips if any have not been an issue and it is pretty easy to start a meditation after you have gone number two so you will not have that need again during the sitting.

 

I do have water or tea (herbal or green) at my side and a box of tissues and a blanket or two.

 

I like the temperature a bit on the cold side and widows open if that is a sensible option.

 

It is not considered beyond me to get up and let a cat out or shut a window (or open one).

 

Nothing about long meditation is for me one of endurance or a performance test - it is not necessarily a walk in the park either.

It has always been something I needed to do at the time.

 

Personally I have never done a "really" long meditation with a group. Probably the longest meditation with a group was 1.5 hours.

I did a 2 hour thing recently with a Tibetan group reading prayers in a sitting - it went by quickly - ever try to read out loud in a foreign language you don't understand while reading at a pace that is for speed readers for two hours?

 

I like to have tissues by my side for several reasons: the obvious is a running nose or the need to sneeze and clear out the nasal passages. I also hit times at which a great deal of energy leaves my space and for me it often takes the form of yawning and watery eyes. If I do not have tissues and use them occasionally then I will have salt cakes build up under my eyes and down my cheeks.

 

I have a blanket or two because I may start in the morning at say 11am when it is already warm and sunny but by two or three in the morning it can become quite cold - I typically have the windows open all night. It depends on noise levels and temps. If it's a hot climate I will have the air on the whole time if that works best.

 

I may start in full lotus and end sitting in a chair or just the opposite - I have never held to any teaching that is ridged in this regard though certainly in the initial years I was probably pretty ruthless.

 

Obviously eating gas producing food prior to meditation is asking for pain and discomfort and might not be very good for group work either.

 

Obviously do not drink a gallon of water just before sitting.

Turn the answering machine down to zero volume (if you even know what one is).

Turn your cell phone off.

Eat some good nutritious food that will agree with you and no stimulants such as coffee or black tea - (if you cheat I will not tell)

 

If you need medication - have it next to you with your water or tea.

 

If you think coffee would be a good option at you side for a long run then perhaps you should not meditate yet and read up on it further - then again in the words of one great sage "I haven't got a fricken clue how exactly this all works".

Edited by Spotless
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

bump.  good subject.

(I was looking for a Spotless posts on fasting and found this one)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once again - if any of you have practical suggestions for "long meditation sessions" please share them. 

I have enjoyed long sessions for most of my practice - 8 to18 hours in a sitting would generally be considered "long".

3 to 8 a medium sit, 1-3 a regular sit and less than 1 a relatively quick sit.

 

All of them are great - this is not about what is better and I am not "looking for help".

Just wanted to compile tips that long sitting meditators have found helpful.

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/8/2014 at 0:14 PM, C T said:

Some years back, i attended a day's teaching given by a visiting lama. He was quite old, late 70s. He's been teaching for over 50 years. A few hours into the day, we noticed that he would nod off occasionally for a couple of minutes during the sessions, and sometimes we could even hear faint snoring :D , but what was truly astounding was how he could always continue the topic seamlessly upon stirring!

 

Later on, during Q & A, someone asked this teacher how he managed that feat, and he jokingly said he is usually wide awake all the time, even when he's dozing, and its us who can't tell that we are asleep even though our eyes are open.

 

I recently came across the following on this Wikipedia page.

 

I used to do this guided yoga nidra practice.  These days I can do it myself.  I can't normally do sitting meditation over 20 minutes.  But the yoga nidra, which to me is more profound than sitting meditation, I have been in that state for 2-3 hours at bed.  At some point, when I move the awareness from one place to another in the body, suddenly just the awareness kicks in, while the body sleeps.  I have heard myself snoring and got startled few times (initially).  I wonder, who heard the snoring?  It is not my physical ears.  The body was sleeping.   

 

Quote

Scientific evaluation

Experimental evidence of the existence of a fourth state of unified, transcendental consciousness, which lies in the yoga nidra state at the transition between sensory and sleep consciousness, was first recorded at the Menninger Foundation in Kansas, United States in 1971.[6] Under the direction of Dr. Elmer Green, researchers used an electroencephalograph to record the brainwave activity of an Indian yogi, Swami Rama, while he progressively relaxed his entire physical, mental and emotional structure through the practice of yoga nidra. What they recorded was a revelation to the scientific community. [7] The swami demonstrated the capacity to enter the various states of consciousness at will, as evidenced by remarkable changes in the electrical activity of his brain. Upon relaxing himself in the laboratory, he first entered the yoga nidra state, producing 70% alpha wave discharge for a predetermined 5 minute period, simply by imagining an empty blue sky with occasional drifting clouds.[7] Next, Swami Rama entered a state of dreaming sleep which was accompanied by slower theta waves for 75% of the subsequent 5 minute test period.[7] This state, which he later described as being "noisy and unpleasant", was attained by "stilling the conscious mind and bringing forth the subconscious". In this state he had the internal experience of desires, ambitions, memories and past images in archetypal form rising sequentially from the subconscious and unconscious with a rush, each archetype occupying his whole awareness.[7]

 

Finally, the swami entered the state of (usually unconscious) deep sleep, as verified by the emergence of the characteristic pattern of slow rhythm delta waves. However, he remained perfectly aware throughout the entire experimental period.[7] He later recalled the various events which had occurred in the laboratory during the experiment, including all the questions that one of the scientists had asked him during the period of deep delta wave sleep, while his body lay snoring quietly.[7]

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Spotless said:

Once again - if any of you have practical suggestions for "long meditation sessions" please share them. 

I have enjoyed long sessions for most of my practice - 8 to18 hours in a sitting would generally be considered "long".

3 to 8 a medium sit, 1-3 a regular sit and less than 1 a relatively quick sit.

 

All of them are great - this is not about what is better and I am not "looking for help".

Just wanted to compile tips that long sitting meditators have found helpful.

 

 

 

 

I mentioned yoga nidra above.  I am not sure if that will count.  Because, technically body gets into a state, similar to that of sleep while the awareness  stays in a meditative state.  From my experience, I know I can be in this state for extended hours, though I limit to 3 hours or so.  Anyone that wants to do long meditations, can possibly try the Yoga Nidra.

 

Personally, to me this is a meditative state.  I can't do sitting meditations consistently, over 20 mins a day.  If sitting meditation happens for few hours, I have to cut it back.    I am able to stay in the meditative state of awareness that results from yoga nidra, for upto 3 hours or so.  A few times, the awareness stayed for entire night.

 

After reading the book Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, I wanted to try this (about 7 years back).  Initially, I was not sure how to make the audio instructions myself, so I got the Yoga Nidra Meditation by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati  from Amazon.  For the first few times, I used this guided audio.  Then, I could do it with my intention.  When I tried initially, I used to get into the bhoga nidra :) (regular sleep).  

( I did not practise yoga nidra consistently over the 7 years.)

 

These days, when I start with the intention (moving awareness into different body parts), after 10-15 mins I slip into a state of just staying with awareness.  The state continues.  If I slip back and come to body/mind state, I start where I left off and in few minutes get back with just awareness.

 

( The body gets into a similar paralyzed state that happens during regular nightly sleep.   I read, some people use the state from yoga nidra to do astral travel, etc.  I haven't tried these.)

Edited by kńĀvńďri
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites