Fear, psychosis and how to continue practice

Gauthier, modified 3 Years ago.

Fear, psychosis and how to continue practice

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/15/18 Recent Posts

I'm looking to get some advice on how to continue practice.I started daily 1h meditating last June, the took it up to 2h towards august (with daily mindfulness). This meditation was done according to the instruction in Mahasi Sayadaw's book Practical Insight Meditation. The main reason I started meditation practice was to deal with the fears caused by a psychotic episode last year (spanning over 6 months, drug induced). The fear and psychotic behaviors were lessened. Then I went on my first retreat to the Dhammacari Vipassana Meditation Center in Germany, where I was given the instructions of Ajahn Tong Sirimangalo. Here I met a lot of fear ,paranoia, delusion. A lot of open eye visual stuff and body energies. But thanks to the warm hearted teachings of Hildegard Huber I got through.

Now I'm not sure I'm on the right path because of all the tension that is generated. When I'm alone I'm taking 45min to eat my food for example, to eat only for the removal of the hunger and try not to eat for worrying. Eating with other people is also hard because I have to stop to talk, then start again with worrying when I begin eating again. Every 'wanting' I try to catch in daily life, and correct by stopping and returning to what I'm doing. Not only craving but also wanting to put on shoes for example. I'm sick of seeing all these hindrances, which only causes more frustration. I'm I taking practice to serious in daily life? My teacher told me to not practice to intensively. I also started using the 4 protections for Mahasi Sayadaw again when met with challenging situations, they help in most cases. I use them often when eating or before I eat. Or in daily life when met with hindrances/ psychotic residue.)

My practice was going as this.
2x: 30min Brahmaviharas followed by the exercise of Arjahn Tong Sirimangalo for 1h. And a small 30min session in the evening. Sometimes very 'wide' attention field. For example when worrying it can feel all over the place, spread out. Or it can be narrow, dense and interfering with the noting (forming ?bells? on which the noting bounces). Noting worrying so located it forms a headache in the center of my head. I also feel tensions blowing up. I'm reflecting and analysing a lot, sometimes it is not possible to keep up with the rapid switching between these. Finding or returning to the primary meditation object is hard, not a lot of time is spend with it(doubting how to return).

Since three days it's the following.
I stopped practicing intensively. Maybe two sessions of 30min Arjahn Tong Sirimangalo's exercise. Learning to do coherent breathing (hard because I can't relax, there is so much fear and the breath is tense and doing strange things.) I'm eating more normally now, giving in to craving sometimes. There is a lot of thinking on how to continue practice. The protective practices do sometimes help,but not when I'm to analytically thinking. I love the calming effect if they work. Now there are a lot of psychotic things happening in daily life, I feel a lot of paranoia and things that are trying to 'teach' me something. When in peak moments of fear also hallucinations. Everything was disappearing frighteningly fast and extremely wide.

Do I continue the practice? I would like some concrete practice advice. I truly value mindfulness during the day and would like to do the Arjahn Tong Sirimangalo exercises to support this. I also want something to deal with the worrying and fear. Can I use the Mahasi protections? Seek psychiatric help? Should I check for a local teacher? (there is no Sangha in this tradition nearby, if you have recommendations in Belgium let me know)

Thank you,
with a lot of tried metta

Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: Fear, psychosis and how to continue practice

Posts: 393 Join Date: 1/15/18 Recent Posts
Hi Gauthier,

Sounds like you've hit some difficult territory with elements of paranoia and psychosis in daily life--I've had some brushes with that sort of thing myself and it's been pretty scary. Standard meditation advice is definitely to back off or completely discontinue practice and ground yourself in "normal" activities like exercise and socializing. I also think it would be a really good idea to check in with a psychiatrist at this point.

As much as people on this forum want to help, it's really tough to give good practice advice over the internet to strangers even without the complicating factors that you have going on. It seems to me like once you get through this particular crisis point, you would benefit from having an ongoing relationship with a teacher or mentor who can get to know you, your usual baseline of sanity, the warning signs that you're getting a bit too crazy, etc. That would allow them to guide you much more effectively. I get that you want to stick with one tradition, but perhaps you could relax that requirement and just focus on finding somebody you can work well with? Just a thought. I don't have any recommendations for Belgium, but others might. 

You might also find this Meditation Safety Toolbox helpful.

Best wishes,

Todo, modified 3 Years ago.

RE: Fear, psychosis and how to continue practice

Posts: 66 Join Date: 8/20/18 Recent Posts
Hey! My two cents,

Meditation is not for solving psychological problems. You have to first get your stuff together. Only then you can come back to meditation.
For the moment, I would say: ease a lot on meditation.
For what it's worth...