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Sense of self gone
Answer
1/21/19 7:40 AM
Hey guys, i really hope someone has some advice for my problem.

i feel like im in a dream for 4 years now.
this shift has begun while i was meditating and noting "thoughts, sensations, thoughts, etc..."
i was new to it and didnt do it often but it happened very quickly.

suddenly while noting there was a shift as if my "I" went a step back into observermode. forever.
i couldnt find my sense of me anymore. and its gone until now. i feel like im a robot.
vitality of life has stopped. my sense of time, my sense of others has gone as well.
i feel stuck in empti-land.
i just cant stop believing that everything is an illusion. whats even real anymore?
Even this keyboard im typing on doesnt seem to exist. as if its made out a dream.

theres not a single positive thing about it although it sounds like enlightenment?
how can i justify to myself that the world is real? that i am real? especially when hearing nonduality folks talking about illusionary world all the time.

i wonder if its just a huge corebelief problem or a trauma.
Interestingly in those 4 years of emtpiness-land only 2 times i got my old sense of aliveness back for a very short period of time (some hours)
and those two moments were initiated by a big amount of relief concerning my life. so i wonder if its really a kind of psyche problem.

I really hope someone got a clue for me.

Thank you

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/21/19 8:55 AM as a reply to Leander.
Leander:
Hey guys, i really hope someone has some advice for my problem.

i feel like im in a dream for 4 years now.
this shift has begun while i was meditating and noting "thoughts, sensations, thoughts, etc..."
i was new to it and didnt do it often but it happened very quickly.

suddenly while noting there was a shift as if my "I" went a step back into observermode. forever.
i couldnt find my sense of me anymore. and its gone until now. i feel like im a robot.
vitality of life has stopped. my sense of time, my sense of others has gone as well.
i feel stuck in empti-land.
i just cant stop believing that everything is an illusion. whats even real anymore?
Even this keyboard im typing on doesnt seem to exist. as if its made out a dream.

theres not a single positive thing about it although it sounds like enlightenment?
how can i justify to myself that the world is real? that i am real? especially when hearing nonduality folks talking about illusionary world all the time.

i wonder if its just a huge corebelief problem or a trauma.
Interestingly in those 4 years of emtpiness-land only 2 times i got my old sense of aliveness back for a very short period of time (some hours)
and those two moments were initiated by a big amount of relief concerning my life. so i wonder if its really a kind of psyche problem.

I really hope someone got a clue for me.

Thank you


Read this, including all the links within and article and see if it resonates: https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/12/dark-night.html

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/22/19 9:11 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
That article is a good one to have pointed to, so thanks AEN!

Depersonalization, Dissociation, and Derealization are like the flip side of insight, the other dark side of the coin. Insight is about them, strangely, but sometimes, when they hit, it is not good, not good at all, and, sometimes, can be very bad. They are a piece of the puzzle, but key pieces are missing from them that would make them more balanced, more complete, more functional, more enjoyable, more freeing, more what all of this was shooting for.

While this is not always true, they frequently arise in those with some trauma histories. There is a great book on this called Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness, by David Treleaven with Willoughby Britton which talks about how these can masquerade as deeper insights than they are. You should obtain that book and read or listen to it or both.

It is not that they might not have a profundity to them, as they can, and it is not that they might not have some wisdom in them, as they might, but they should not be mistaken for higher attainments.

How to address the 3 D's is complicated, but might reasonably begin by asking questions. Do you have a trauma history? Anything like this happen before, even for brief moments? How is the rest of your life going? How are you in relationships? How is your career or whatever you aspire to do with your life? What do those around you say about how you have been these last 4 years, particularly in comparison to before? Have you talked with any counselors or similar people with a mental health background about any of this, and, if so, what did they say? Have you talked with any competent meditators with sufficient skill to help you, and, if so, what did they say? What are your primary coping mechanisms for stress? What stressors are you under? Do you have adequate social support?

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/21/19 10:19 AM as a reply to Leander.
I highly recommend this book: https://www.amazon.com/Coping-Trauma-Related-Dissociation-Interpersonal-Neurobiology/dp/039370646X for coping strategies while you are waiting for other more long term strategies to work. I hope somebody with experience offers help.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/21/19 7:52 PM as a reply to Leander.
Sorry to be hard-nosed about this, but I really recommend you talk to a properly qualified medical professional rather than seeking advice on an Internet message board. Diagnosing depersonalization disorder and coming up with a realistic treatment plan is a job for a professional and should only be done after an in-person interview.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/21/19 10:36 PM as a reply to Leander.
Having gone through this, what helped was recognizing that while the self is empty from a fundamental perspective, it still exists from the practical day to day perspective. Similarly, while there is no meaning in anything that arises from a fundamental perspective, it can still appear to be meaningful from a practical perspective. Just because the self is empty doesn't mean that you have to spend your days in a miserable disconnected state, you're free to "be" whatever version of that self that you'd like to be. Go out for dinner and eat food you like, watch movies (comedy helped during this phase), continue creative hobbies, exercise, etc. Clinging to not-self isn't really any more useful than clinging to self.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/21/19 11:07 PM as a reply to Lars.
Lars:
Having gone through this, what helped was recognizing that while the self is empty from a fundamental perspective, it still exists from the practical day to day perspective. Similarly, while there is no meaning in anything that arises from a fundamental perspective, it can still appear to be meaningful from a practical perspective. Just because the self is empty doesn't mean that you have to spend your days in a miserable disconnected state, you're free to "be" whatever version of that self that you'd like to be. Go out for dinner and eat food you like, watch movies (comedy helped during this phase), continue creative hobbies, exercise, etc. Clinging to not-self isn't really any more useful than clinging to self.

This is really practical and excellent advice. Also, Daniel's questions are very important re figuring out what might be happening for you. 

I have written a bit about "insight gone wrong" here: http://annalutkajtis.com/delineating-the-dark-night/

Does any of that relate to what you are experiencing? If so, you might want to check out the Shinzen Young video in the references. Shinzen has helped other meditators through this process.  

Please do reach out if you are struggling.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/22/19 12:55 PM as a reply to Anna L.
If any of the trauma-related material that Daniel mentioned resonates with you, you may find it helpful to work with a somatic experiencing therapist.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/23/19 9:30 AM as a reply to Leander.
Thanks for all the answers, it means a lot to me and makes it a lot more bearable already.

@An Eternal Now: ive read the first link. Suzanne Segals story and the two types of nondual contemplation after I AM.
i have to admit that just reading the contemplation spikes some panic in me because it implys i have to go further into no-mans land. Things like "theres no seer, just seeing". it makes me feel even less existent. As if thats the missing nail in the coffin to destroy me once and for all.

@Daniel: Ill definitely check out the book.
Regarding your questions: im not sure if i have a trauma history. What might be interesting is a huge panic attack i had some years before this shift into no-mans-land happened. i was sitting in the grass with some friends and suddenly everything turned into total emptiness. it was only seconds but nothing but "seeing" happened. that moment was so empty of anything, there was nobody seeing the seen. just plain seeing. as said, this lasted for some seconds and led into an overwhelming panic attack. couldnt tell if i was real anymore.
gladly it stopped as fast as it arrived. from then on i had these "attacks" once a week for some minutes.

so, i have no idea if that was a spontaneous glimpse into empitness or just a regular panic attack that held DP/DR as a present for me.
at that time i didnt know anything about spirituality, nonduality etc.

As for your other questions: i have not met anyone with the same experience. ive never been in medittation circles, never met spiritual teachers, nor anything. all i know about this is from the internet.

The only one i ever talked to about this is my psychotherapist and my girlfriend.
The therapist moved far away so thats gone. but i was talking to him for a year once a week.
His opinion was that i basically unconsciously decided to block out the whole world as a coping mechanism. Dissociation so to speak.
While meeting him was helpful, my condition didnt change and im still not sure where to find a safe place in my mind where i can finaly get some rest from all this.
Its hard to find a therapist who knows anythign about DP/DR or Dark night or whatever u wanna call it.


@Lars thanks for those words, they really resonate well in me.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/23/19 10:12 AM as a reply to Leander.
Leander:
Its hard to find a therapist who knows anythign about DP/DR or Dark night or whatever u wanna call it.


If there aren't any somatic experiencing therapists near you, looking for two other therapist specialties may be helpful: EMDR(Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy).  Both are intended for use with patients with dissociation or depersonalization as symptoms.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/23/19 1:56 PM as a reply to Leander.
Hi Leander, I have been a little reluctant to post, as I do think a years-long experience of depersonalistion suggests professional help is the best way to go. Given that you have had a year of help, I will just share my own experience. I don't think my experience is in any way unique, and versions of this seem common on many different spiritual paths.

Anyway, a very similar thing happened to me after doing reflective self-enquiry. I had a big insight event and my self just completely went. Then it felt like I was observing 'my' life as some other totally disengaged, dispassionate new being, freshly arrived in this body. I found this kind of scary.

So what I did was to form a strong intention to recreate a better version of my old self, and identified two or three key goals (work, dharma), and three or four key virtues (compassion, diligence, love for family etc) to use to repopulate the self. Then I practiced those goals and virtues, directed at the life I had been living. At first it was like acting a role, but then it coalesced and became more or less real again. I still have a strong core of no-self, but it is overlaid with happy engagement with the world, without much clinging, with love for my family and compassion for others. It's good.

I guess if the same thing had happened in a church I would have recreated myself as a fervent born again christian. As it was, it felt like reincarnation into the same life, carrying over the karma but with a fresh choice as to what kind of person to be.

The other thing I did was take up formal concentration practices. This was to better cope with any further insights. When new insights arrived, instead of recoiling from them, I was able to take them further.

I have no idea whether any of this would work for you.  But maybe it offers some hope.

Love and best wishes

Malcolm  

P.S. So it is definitely not final awakening, but can help along the path if used skilfully. 

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/24/19 9:03 AM as a reply to Leander.
Leander:
Thanks for all the answers, it means a lot to me and makes it a lot more bearable already.

@An Eternal Now: ive read the first link. Suzanne Segals story and the two types of nondual contemplation after I AM.
i have to admit that just reading the contemplation spikes some panic in me because it implys i have to go further into no-mans land. Things like "theres no seer, just seeing". it makes me feel even less existent. As if thats the missing nail in the coffin to destroy me once and for all.


Fear and panic arises due to the misconception that 'I' have existed in the first place and has to dissolve. This is a misunderstanding. There is no 'I' behind the seeing which is none other than colors, no 'I' or 'hearer' that is behind the hearing which is none other than sounds. Nothing needs to dissolve, it is seen through and realized to be always already the case. You think that hearing and seeing is the job of an agent, a perceiver, a doer, and you are some detached perceiver, but in reality scenery sees and sound hears. The agent never was. It only appears to be real, and while the delusion is there, the appearance is very strong and hypnotic. There is a constant self-refencing, a tiresome and tedious process of referencing every experience back to a presumed agent out of ignorance, from 'just the seen' to 'I see'. The seeing/colors, hearing/sounds, action/activity happen first, followed by an unnecessary self-referencing to an imaginary agent. This sense of being a self, an agent, a perceiver, a doer, can however be challenged, investigated, and seen through. With the illusion seen through, the process of self-making naturally stops, it is not so much that a self is destroyed as it was never truly there. Nothing is lost, and in losing an illusion you 'gain' the world.

The old Zen koan goes:

The man sitting atop the hundred foot pole:
Though he's gained entry, this is not yet the real.
Atop the hundred foot pole, he should step forward:
The universe in all directions is the whole body.

Nothing is destroyed any more than seeing through the belief in the real existence of santa claus actually destroys some santa claus. You just wake up to reality. Oh, life is happening brilliantly without a center, without the need for the fiction of a center, and life is much more marvellous, wondrous, alive, boundless and free than the tiresome and fearful holding and grasping on to an unnecessary self-contraction and imagined entity and all the related sufferings. It's like holding on to hot charcoal and yet strangely not willing to release it due to fear of the unknown. Once the illusion is seen through and released there is a sense of freedom, release and fearlessness in facing life (see: https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/08/fearless-samadhi.html )

Then there is no fear as this is realized to be always already the case. The notion that 'I' had existed at the center, experiencing and coordinating everything is unnecessary and unfounded. The absence of self and agent is also experienced positively as everything is brilliantly alive and self-luminous, the quality of 'witnessing' which was once seen as a background observer now is felt as a quality of everything revealing itself to itself. The seeing is seen-seeing, colors and sounds and sensations are just felt vividly where they are instead of being experienced from some vantagepoint of self. It is not a static state of detached uninvolvement in life, there is complete engagement and intimacy in all actions, chop wood, carry water.

What is called pure consciousness experience becomes effortless and natural: http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/pce.htm , and in this state there can be no dissociation. If you do not experience the aspect of intense luminosity then joy and liveliness will not be felt (see: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-importance-of-luminosity.html ) The intimacy is not the intimacy of two entities meeting each other but the sense of gaplessness, when hearing a sound the sound is as if 'you', closer than your breath, when seeing the blue sky the blue sky is as if 'you', closer than your heartbeat. Everything is alive and vivid. So how can there be dissociation and derealization?

For a theoretical understanding of no-self also see http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_baggini_is_there_a_real_you

For the experiential insights into no-self/anatta refer to http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2009/03/on-anatta-emptiness-and-spontaneous.html

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/24/19 6:17 AM as a reply to Leander.
Leander, this may or may not apply to you, but your posts reminds me of some stuff that took me forever to realize in my own life... so for what it's worth...

From my own experience I'll say that another thing to be on the watch for is a subtle sense of pride that goes with going through a spiritual experience. This can show up as a background feeling that we have seen/experienced something that other people have not and that we have a slightly more advanced understanding of reality. This subtle sense of pride can kind of keep us locked into where we are, not really deeply investigating it with other meditation experts, not really analyzing it with therapists, not really working on making normal human life changes.

When pride holds us back, it's hard to admit that we know we aren't completely mentally healthy, to admit that we know we aren't completely enlightened, and admit we know we don't have a complete normal human life... but deep inside we feel that another change is too risky, we might lose everything.

When this happens, we avoid a lot of things. Most of all, we cut ourselves off from possible support. We avoid directly seeking help with mental challenges from true professionals, we avoid seeking help from true meditaiton experts, we avoid making changes in our life that would make things conventionally better. Sometimes we use the fear of anniliation as way to keep us stagnant. It's a real fear we have... but the fear simply isn't true. We can make changes in our life and in our thinking and the world doesn't end. We can take small tiny steps. We can even attempt things and fail and then try again. It's no big deal. 

Pride and aversion can stagnate everything. Years can go by because we're too proud to seek a change and we almost unconsciously avoid the things that would support making a change. 

I remember that when I honestly and actively starting working on making a changes... I felt a lot of sorrow and regret for the time I had wasted. It can feel horrible to experience the honest feelings of having lost years of life. But when you look closely at the sadness and regret --- that's your true self wanting to make a change. Deep inside, a part of your self knows what is going on and wants to make a change. If you connect to that inner intelligence, you will gradually find your own path. And it's really interesting how we find the people that want to support you when we actively seek out information and truly try to make changes.

There is a great physical/mental health resouce on the reddit streamenty site: https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/wiki/health-and-balance

So anyway, sorry if this doesn't apply to your situation or is over the top. It's just I know that when years go by without a change, then that almost always means stagnation. The human body and mind naturally wants to continue to grow and refine itself, even after big spiritual events. And although a lot of people use fancy words like "no self" an "enlightenment" --- all of this meditation/spiritual work really leads to something much more human: basic mental sanity. The road to enlightenment isn't travelled by becoming more and more crazy, its travelled by becoming more and more sane.

Hope this helps someone in some way!

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/24/19 9:14 AM as a reply to Leander.
Also Leander, I posted this on another thread today:
William Jeffery Pratt:
Dear AEN,

Poignant and veracious.

Yet,
the organism that hasn't awakened and the awakened organism will both
automatically recoil when it unknowingly touches a red hot fire. 
The
recoiling as a pure bodily function and activity will happen
spontaneously without self-referencing. It is necessary and useful for
the survival of this organism, be it awakened or not. It does not come
with the kind of self-contraction and fear and grasping before
awakening.

Some people will have glimpses of this 'spontaneous
happening' even without realizing anatta. For example they may wake up
from sleep and experience the body coughing by itself, too fast before
the sense of self kicks in as they just woke up (the structures of
subject/object, identity, selfing, takes some time to kick in after
arousing from sleep). But then the sense of a detached observer then
quickly kicks in, and there's a sense "oh I was just watching this
thing, the body is doing its thing and I'm not the doer, I am the
watcher". This is an experience of non-doership but NOT what I call
realization of anatta, therefore dissociation still happens. Most people
who have certain glimpses of non-self are talking about an experience
of non-doership, which is not necessarily a non-dual experience, or a
peak experience of PCE, but even if he/she experiences a PCE it is still
not what I call the realization of anatta. Even one realizes non-dual
luminosity as always undivided, they may still fall into the case of
Thusness Stage 4 - subject/object non-division rather than realizing
true anatta or no-subject of Thusness Stage 5 -
http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

As
I often said (elsewhere) - for 8 years now, there has not been the
slightest sense of agency, an agent, or subject/object division in any
situation. Non-doership, no agent, and no subject-object division (vivid
non-dual luminosity) all at once. Spontaneous and effortlessly so as a
natural state. The aspect of no agent must be clear, not just
non-doership, and not just subject/object non-division or non-dual
luminosity either.

Like seeing a picture puzzle, once you see it and the insight stabilizes, you can't unsee it even if you want to.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/27/19 9:59 PM as a reply to Leander.
Hi Leander,

I had a big shift too 3 years ago. After 2 years of expansion and disorderientation, this emptiness in the mind set in. The first 2 years of the changes  were the most difficult. There is still the watcher, but the mind keep wanting to expand.  I didn’t freak but by common sense , I did talked to my GP and have a complete blood, body checked. I was all fine. The key here is not to make stories about the changes, or insists things have to be normal and the same. Instead, keep observing phenomenons; especially their relationship with consciousness.
when emptiness set in, the first 6 months is fantastical. You eat but it’s like emptiness eat. You talk to people and it’s like emptiness talk. Things just happened on its own. 
So, I think if you were to have the right teacher, who have been through the same experiences to guide you; you would hzvd mnisn what to do.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/29/19 9:29 AM as a reply to shargrol.
@ Shargrol
u might be right im clinging to this state. i see it a bit as spiritual progress to be in the "look at me, im above all, im nothing" state and dont wanna lose it. on the other side i wanna get rid of it so bad.

im very confused and have no idea how to live my life right now.
but i just cant seem to justify "going back" into ordinary life. its all impermanent and nothing seems to have any worth to it because its just smoke and mirrors. it also would feel like spiritual regress. Or as if im cheating and distracting myself but secretly id know, all of that is not real.
i think i need to find reasons why to live a human basic life. but it seems so incompatible with spirituality and how unreal i feel.
i feel like im doing it wrong if i dive into ordinary things and activities like wanting to be good at sports or looking forward to a great meal that im planning to prepare for my girlfriend,
planning a career to have a nice house with a garden in the future. are all these plans wishes from the ego? fleeting thoughts not worth pursuing?
when do i listen to thoughts? when do i not? whos deciding anyway? im so very confused as u might suspect by reading this.

thank you for reading, im really lost here. im open for any kind of advice.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/29/19 10:47 AM as a reply to Leander.
Leander:
its all impermanent and nothing seems to have any worth to it because its just smoke and mirrors.


When you watch a movie, it's all illusion. It's a series of individual images being played approximately 30 frames per second, giving the illusion of motion. The color has been tweaked, the images edited, the sound mixed, music added. The people in the movie aren't who they appear to be, and they're wearing makeup and costumes. The story is made up and tweaked and edited by multiple people. The blood is corn syrup and red dye #5, the monsters are made of latex or CG. There's no actual danger when monsters show up, and the fire and explosions don't actually hurt anyone.

Despite all this you can still enjoy a movie, find meaning in it, laugh, cry or get scared, as long as you just let go and enjoy it for what it is.

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/29/19 5:05 PM as a reply to Leander.
Leander, you do seem to be clinging to a dualistic division. The spritual you and the mundane material world are not actually different. They are all the same field of perceptions. But I think deep down you know this already.

Is your problem in deciding to do something about it?  A kind of spiritual procrastination?  If so I suggest back away from the idea of 'deciding' to do something, and instead just gently think about a better destination, free of delusion, enjoyment without grasping, love without fear, compassion with humility.  Just reflect on this a couple of times each day and your subconscious will pick up the intention and push you to where you need to be. You don't need to decide and then act, you just need to lean towards an intention. Your subconscious will do the rest.

May you be free from suffering, may you be happy, may you be filled with loving kindness.

Malcolm

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/29/19 7:55 PM as a reply to Leander.
Hi Leander

In truth, you have not actually left "ordinary life." You are just making a distinction in your mind between what you see as a mundane "basic human life" and the spiritual state/insight you have experienced.

However, while insight is permanent (you have seen something that you cannot "unsee"), spiritual states are not - all states are temporary and do not last. Hence, we might experience a mystical state, feel as though we have seen into the true nature of reality etc. but then this state passes and we are left feeling that we have come "crashing back down to earth." 

A book that deals with this issue and that you might find helpful is called "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" by Jack Kornfield emoticon

It's also true that historically, meditation was mainly the domain of renunciates. However today we have many people who live as householders who also practice meditation and live what you might call (for want of a better term) "spiritual lives."

Some people in similar situations to yours may decide to renounce the householder life and ordain as monks. Others may decide to stay living as a householder but find ways to incorporate spirituality into their daily lives. There's no "correct" path - it's a personal choice.

Everyday life can be a great place to practice spirituality and you do not need to feel guilt over planning for the future or wanting a home/garden, relationships etc. if that feels right for you. You can still do all of those things while practising meditation and living an ethical and humane life. 

You write:

"im very confused and have no idea how to live my life right now."

While spiritual traditions such as Buddhism can provide guidance re morals/ethics and how you might best live a life that feels aligned for you, talking to a psychologist might also help in this regard. 

Another book you might find useful is "Spiritual Bypassing" by Robert Augustus Masters. 

I hope this helps. 


RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
1/30/19 6:33 AM as a reply to Leander.
Leander:
@ Shargrol
u might be right im clinging to this state.


No big deal, we have all done that.


im very confused and have no idea how to live my life right now. but i just cant seem to justify "going back" into ordinary life.


Yeah, we have all felt that way. But the real test of spirituality is if you can take it back into the normal world. The truth of it is that it is easier to find something when we cut ourselves off from the difficult stuff, but it takes years of practice, of trial and error, of success and failure and success again, before we can be a good, sane, spiritual person that can walk within all the bad, crazy, and unspiritual situations in the world. Oh well, that's just the way spiritually happens: we get a glimpse, but then it takes time to really develop it and make it unshakable.


i think i need to find reasons why to live a human basic life. but it seems so incompatible with spirituality and how unreal i feel. i feel like im doing it wrong if i dive into ordinary things and activities like wanting to be good at sports or looking forward to a great meal that im planning to prepare for my girlfriend,
planning a career to have a nice house with a garden in the future. are all these plans wishes from the ego? fleeting thoughts not worth pursuing?
when do i listen to thoughts? when do i not? whos deciding anyway? im so very confused as u might suspect by reading this.

thank you for reading, im really lost here. im open for any kind of advice.

Well, of course I can't give any specific advice because I don't know the details of everything in your life, but I'll just mention a few things that have helped me get moving when I've been confused and feeling kinda trapped:

The first is to try separating things in my mind. Sometimes I feel like everything is lumped together and there is no choice I can make without having to figure out a lot of other stuff and then it become waaaay to big. So I break everything into little tiny actions and just decide and do it. I'll even remind myself "decide and do". The trick here is to make the thing very small --- like picking up my dirty laundry and putting in the laundry basket. I know that sound stupid and simple, but there are many things in my life that I've blown off, just because I felt confused about the big picture. So I separate eating and sleeping and clothes and work and school and dating and career and meditation and socializing and family and politics --- and just try to do little actions that can be done right now. This helps break the log jam of stagnating

The other thing is to remember that everything that is good involves a process of success, failure, and success again. I wish it was different, but life is always up, down, and up again for everyone on earth, even "successful" people. Remembering this helps me in two ways -- 1) it reminds me that I have to keep exploring ideas and approaches to life, an 2) it reminds me that even when I make the right decisions, there is still going to be some failure involved, which doesn't mean I made the wrong decision, it just means that everything in life has some failure involved and I need to keep going.

The next thing I try do to is imagine that I'm giving advice to someone else. This is a strange thing where we almost always know what the next step should be, but we are scared to take it in our own life.... but ironically, we always have lots of good advice for how other people should live their life. So it's a funny thing, if we treat our self like a good friend and give our good friend advice, then chances are we are giving ourself good advice! emoticon  But that's just the way humans work, we tend to see all the difficulty in our own life and yet see things very clearly in other people's life.

And finally, the thing that helps the most but which is the most scary is hanging around with other people. Other people see things in ourself that we have trouble seeing. They see and give good advice, they help us not freak out when we have difficulties or momentary failures, they can help us see that we are worrying too much about stuff... And of course, people know things that we don't know. There is a reason why the buddha emphasized the "sangha" (community), humans really were designed to live their life with others and learn from others. All of us will embarass ourselves hanging around new people and in new situations, so no big deal. That awkard stage is just part of normal life. But to get new experiences and new ideas it almost always involves checking out new situations and new people. 

So I don't know what all this would mean specifically for you (work, school, social, hobbies, spiritual practice, exercise, etc etc.), but really the best way out of confusion is just to keep trying more things in life and looking for people who are doing interesting things and hanging out with them. It's impossible to figure everything about life out all at once and attempting to do that will always create confusion. But usually we can figure out the smallest next step that we could do and that's enough to get things going.

The big problem with spiritual ideas and practices is it can be used in a way to attempt to avoid difficulties and separate from life. This works for a short time, but eventually we find ourselves stagnating and feeling like we're falling behind. Sometimes the sadness and regret of falling behind makes us want to avoid doing things even more. (Some spiritual people will even fall into depression or avoidant personality disorder --- to use psychological terms.) But there really isn't a need to get psychological about it. The real trick is that we can just focus on the current moment and do the thing we would advise a friend to do if they were in our situation. Little by little the log jam will break. And then we can really explore life in a healthy and sane and adventurous way. And of course we will still be imperfect human beings, but we will be becoming more wise and more sane over time. Those are the cool people in the world, not the perfect ones, but the adventurous ones! The people that keep experimenting and trying new things and getting back up after they fall down. And those people inspire others too. 

Anyway, hope these ideas help in some way!

RE: Sense of self gone
Answer
2/3/19 12:09 AM as a reply to Leander.
Dear Leander, 

Are you still doing meditations or using anything that can trigger DA/DP (like drugs)?