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Energy in head - going insane

Energy in head - going insane
3/16/19 2:16 AM
Hi all,
This is my first post here and I'm desperately hoping for some guidance. A bit of background: I am a 26 year old male who has been practicing dharma for about six years. I have a lama who studied under Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, though I live thousands of miles from him nowadays and only get access to him over the phone. I have have another teacher who is also a good friend and a pretty remarkable practitioner in the same lineage. No major history of medical issues, headaches, etc. 

Basically the issue I am essentially living with 24/7 now is that I believe I've been pumping all the energy in my body up into my head. I've been practicing in a very "heady" way of watching for and then cutting through concepts, and I've been doing this for years at this point. Maybe two years ago, I noticed that if I just sort "gave up" practicing, my life would be permeated by this spaciness, which in the beginning was perhaps subtle (though I don't really remember). This spaciness would last for a long while until I resumed some sort of effortful practice. The times I did talk to my teacher about this, I think perhaps I made it sound "better" than it was, like it was some kind of loving spaciousness rather than this sort of uncaring void spaciness. I moved to Hawaii, away from my teachers, and have had minimal contact with them (until recently) and when I did talk with them, would sort of just say everything was fine. Meanwhile, this sense of being spaced out, specifically in the head area, has increased further and further to the point where I had to start saying, "okay, something is wrong here." It's not a loving feeling, it's not wise, it's not compassionate or insightful.
I began having intense social anxiety (which varies day to day - sometimes I'm pretty much fine in conversation and within an hour I can suddenly become crippled with indecisive anxiety), depression which has become more and more intense, and a pressure in my head, ranging anywhere (and sometimes everywhere) from the third eye up. Sometimes this manifests as painful headaches, sometimes it's just like this noticeable pressure sitting in my head. Along with all this, my thinking has become utterly neurotic, like I have no choice but to obsess over this issue. It's pretty much all I think about. Finally, I'm talking about it, and now it's nearly all I talk about. I will go back and forth a thousand times a day between thinking I've found some special way of resolving it, and saying to hell with it, I'll just do nothing and see what happens. It's now at the point where my hands and heart area are feeling pretty light as well, and the head is just in a total fog. I have almost fainted several times in the past 24 hours. Even sitting here writing this I feel light headed like I'm about to pass out. 

Every time I try to do something to move this energy/pressure along, I find some relief for a day or two and then it all comes back, and worse than before. I've tried pranayama (kumbhaka breathing into the lower dantian), "dropping the brain" into the lower dantian, which I can do instantaneously (like relocating my center of gravity from my head into my belly), simply lying on the floor and belly breathing, and doing Reggie Ray's "earth descent" practice. I've tried reiki and acupuncture as well. My teacher has advised me to cease all practice and go to a psychiatrist, a therapist, and a neurologist (just to be sure the problem isn't medical). I'm happy to do these things but I'll have to wait for my appointments and in the meantime, I feel honestly like at any minute I am going to have a psychotic break. The thought of dying has come up very regularly. I am not inherently suicidal (I don't have a plan, I don't want to die, I'm afraid of physical pain, and frankly I don't want to create the karma from doing that, and I can't put my family through that), but I very regularly have the thought "anything is better than this." I'm extremely fearful that I've gotten my mind to the point of no repair and it's about to snap. Please, please, please help me.

RE: Energy in head - going insane
3/16/19 2:59 AM as a reply to John.
Hey John

I am sorry to hear you are going through this. Certain practices can make some people feel spacy and ungrounded. Have you seen Shinzen Young's "pit of the void" video? Is that similar to what you are experiencing?

I think your teacher has given you the correct advice - stop practising and see a doctor and a psychologist. The obsessional and neurotic thoughts must be very difficult to deal with, but rest assured, they are just that - thoughts - and like everything else, will pass. It sounds like you are experiencing some pretty intense anxiety and dissociation and it would be good to see someone who can help you with that. 

In the meantime, until your appointment, can you get grounded by spending some time in nature, hanging out with friends, watching funny movies etc? If you're in Hawaii and can get to the beach, the sand and ocean can be very grounding. As can mundane, everyday, non-dharma conversations with friends (or strangers). I think any practices (even grounding ones like metta) might be too triggering for you right now. 

Rest assured, your mind is not at the point of no repair. I think you are dealing with some anxiety and dissociation and your practice might have been exacerbating this. Hang in there! 

RE: Energy in head - going insane
3/16/19 3:27 AM as a reply to John.
Hi John, sorry to hear about how you are feeling.  As Anna says, there will plenty to look forward to in the future, and no you are not broken beyond repair!  But you should also consider contacting an emergency mental health line in your area.  Those people are trained to help and support when things get really tough .

Please, reach out, and find someone who can help you today.  You won't regret it.  Just make the call.

With love

RE: Energy in head - going insane
3/16/19 11:05 AM as a reply to John.
My teacher has advised me to cease all practice and go to a psychiatrist, a therapist, and a neurologist (just to be sure the problem isn't medical). I'm happy to do these things but I'll have to wait for my appointments and in the meantime, I feel honestly like at any minute I am going to have a psychotic break.

Smart teacher. Also, if you think you're truly in trouble on an acute sort of way, go to an emergency room. Brain chemistry and related imbalances will trump dharma any day, so if you're afraid and feel at risk get help immediately.

3/17/19 7:01 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks everyone.. Shortly after writing my initial post, I started driving home..Felt very light headed and started doing some very light belly breathing which had a pretty immediate grounding effect. I went home and tried to just be gentle with myself and take it easy, lay on the couch and put on a funny TV show. The prana in my body started racing, especially in my solar plexus/heart centers, and for the next several hours, prana seemed to be traveling up and down my spine very, very intensely.. Eventually it settled at the base of my spine, sort of by the anus, and from there it felt like something sort of "came alive." It started to feel like a plant was growing out of that area, circling up the spin, hitting each chakra along the way.. By the time it reached my head, my third eye was burning hot, and eventually it reached the crown where there was a mild cooling and opening sensation. This tapered off after a while and I just lay there as I felt prana work on different areas of the body, especially in the head. No crazy bliss or particularly intense revelations or anything, but clearly something happened.

The next day (and since then) I continue to have pretty intense spaciness in my head. On and off, I continue to go through bouts of feeling like I'm going to lose my mind, like I'm insanely depressed and have crazy anxiety, or like I'm light headed, which is sometimes accompanied by a pulsating feeling in my third eye or in other areas of the head. Talking to people really seems to help out with this. Other times, it's like I have more energy in my body than I know what to do with - not in an unpleasant way, but just that I have all this hot energy and it makes me want to run around the world. Other times, there's just a simple pranic pulsating throughout the body. My breath will randomly deepen, quicken, or retain itself briefly. Getting some hot/cold flashes as well.

I spoke to my teacher on this and he and I both seem to think this is Kundalini. He was quick to say that wasn't his area of expertise and he's referred me to a Kagyu practitioner who is also a Kundalini teacher/healer who he knows and trusts. I did some research on him and read some testimonials and I've tried to reach out to him. Waiting to hear back. My teacher also gave me some grounding exercises like walking in the grass barefoot, brushing my feet, eating a more solid, less liquid diet, and taking cold baths/showers.

If the mental pain/depression/dread gets to be too much, I am fully prepared to drive myself to the hospital, which my teacher endorses if I feel I need it. Either way, I'm seeing some medical professionals this week, just depends on if I feel I can make it to my appointments or not.