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Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out

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Hello fellow travellers, I've been perceiving a really challenging set of sensations for about 4 years. They seem.... stuck.... without fruition (other than a desperately needed massive growth in compassion through the duration, so I guess getting stuck in a dark night state does have some benefits even if it sucks), and its become increasingly difficult to function in day to day.

The core experience is an almost constant high intensity vibrations almost anywhere I focus (or not focus too) inside (body, emotion, thought), fundamental frequency seems to be around 15 Hz, lots of harmonics. My relationship with this has varied from curiosity (initially) to experimentation to welcoming to watching torment to frustration to asking to watching some more and back around again.

- On and off the mat: the intensity is high enough to interfere seriously with daily life, and I'm pretty desperate.
- Exquisite detail, but simultaneous low overall clarity
- If I broaden focus to.... hard to describe but inside but somehow not in the body (?), a state that I find most conducive to "getting the raga" in music lessons, the vibration fills the entire space somewhere both inside my body, but it would be hard to describe it as inside this physical body. If I don't hold my focus in one place, it swirls around my being at unbelievable speed, vibrating on every scale. It feels to me like a tambura sounds, shimmering and moving between every scale and harmonic all at the same time.
- The emotional palette feels something like terror, and one way I have framed this for a while is as a non-stop multi-year panic attack. This is one area where I have not experienced the other side of the coin, this definitely hasn't been a joyous or light thing, its felt serious, heavy, and painful. A huge amount of energy has gone into just managing to get by day to day as if I wasn't a person constantly being chased by a tiger ;-)
- Appeared suddenly about 1 yr into an intensive (few hours a day?) practice of nada yoga, centered around learning hindustani classical vocal music with a sort of zen-esque meditation-in-all-but-name, and virtually no analytical discussion. I have a teacher, and still work with them. They are so un-analytically-non-map-oriented it almost hurts. The overt interest of the school of music is on perfection of tuning, but at least in my experience, that comes to encompass and require unbelievably (to me, hah!) subtle awareness.... listening to 'everything' with a wide awareness and strong concentration.
- I had been extending the state required to do the core practices into daily life almost full time, particularly body awareness.

I've worked with this on the outside with time spent on hatha yoga, accupuncture, therapy, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications, and experiments in a bunch of other things. Most things seem to have virtually no effect, with the notable exception of accupuncture which almost universally intensifies the vibrations (not necessarily unpleasantly, since it also.... interacts with them), and it seems I can semi-reliably feel meridians through this field (its been an object of interest to a few of the accupuncturists I've worked with). That said, a whooole lot of accupuncture doesn't seem to have made the situation better!

I've been having trouble reaching out, partially since I'm not even totally sure what I'm doing hah, and partly because anytime I try to describe this, I end up pretty muddle-headed, like it exists, but any thought I can have about it is both true and not true, and most perceptions or qualities seem present as well as the seemingly contradictory ones.

Its driving me crazy, pretty literally. Like a really really really really bad itch when you're sitting for an extended period, but the extended period is years now.

In the past week I've started from basics for a couple hours a day with mctb style noting, and (assuming I am stuck in dark night) reinvigorating my efforts to try to achiece some sort of SE.

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/1/19 7:50 PM as a reply to Seth.
I just needed to get that out there and make contact with ya'll, hopefully its not too overwhelming long a list.

A few more details that have stood out to me over the years:
1) Initially it seemed that the frequency was related to breathing, but that faded after about 6 mos
2) It appeared one night after a particularly intense 3 hr sitting lesson, I remember driving home thinking I maybe shouldn't even be driving, wrapping myself in a blanket, and getting ready to "go into samhadi" (or whatever it was I expected at the time hah) and disappear from this world. It felt like something that was going to turn into something. Then it just..... continued..... for years.
3) If I whip my focus around my body quickly, it sort of lags a little, leaving almost like a swirling trail behind it
4) At first I was very interested in a perceived relationship with heartbeat cycle, and at the time I had a very experienced accupuncturist work closely with me to try and see if they could detect it in my pulse, no dice (tried this again later with a very old school chinese accunpuncturist). I still feel some vague connection to heart, but never have been able to get the investigation beyond a vague sense that its connected.
5) I suddenly became hyper sensitive (over sensitive?) to people's emotional states, in many cases I would say deeply hidden ones, though I remain skeptical about this knowing how much some part of me would like to have some attainment from all this lol.
6) One of the other ways that I've described the core experience in the past is its as if I'm now an amphibian with a highly porous skin, and every loose vibration goes through.... its very hard to describe but the 'field' does ..... change in respond to the minutest outside change, from people to sounds to whatever. But not in any predictably patterned way after a few years of watching closely.

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/2/19 3:55 AM as a reply to Seth.
Sounds like you've been going through a multi year nightmare. I've been going through my own multi-year nightmare, which I mostly resolved and which was very different and also less bad than yours, so I have no idea what you should do.

However, I would like to point out the most important take-home lesson I personally learned from this: those kinds of things have a way of not going away on their own ever. Trying half-assed attempts at fixing this while struggling to hold up the rest of your life is a terrible strategy which benefits neither you nor, in the long run, anyone else. I wish I had just decided to put the rest of my life on hold, and got my ass in the next monastery until I figured this shit out. If you have kids, this may be tricky, but your education, schooling, job, friends and even significant other(s) have less priority and should be able to wait.

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/2/19 5:32 AM as a reply to Seth.
Mapping is always risky based on text only, but it sure does sound like you are circling the dark night. It also sounds as if you are handling it relatively skillfully in your daily life, from what you told us here, although I don’t doubt your struggle. A growing compassion is a major lesson from the dark night as I see it. You seem to have similar experiences of the vibrations as me. I believe you can get through this. I know that people have very different experiences of studying the dharma maps closely. For some it becomes stressful and leads to too much expectations. For me, however, they were the key. You seem to be enough of a phenomenology junky (good at observing and describing details) to be able to navigate through them too. I found that when I could name the specific dukkha nanas and see them for what they were, without resistance, they passed very quickly. I used the maps in MCTB2. Focus on how they are temporary and not you and how suffering is created by holding on to things that are temporary and taking things personally that are really not about you, that is, classic vipassana stuff. You seem like a strong practicioner to me so I think you’ll rock this.

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/4/19 9:39 PM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Dear Raving,

Thanks for your kind response and  concrete suggestion.... Are there monasteries you'd recommend? How do you reach out to them, etc? Really anything you can share about how "going to a monastery" happens :-P I'm not well connected in this regard, and taking action has become.... very very difficult.

I fortunately do not have kids. I do have a partner of more than 10 years, and she is supportive but frankly terrified that she has "lost me" (of course, this me is still me, but I understand the sentiment). I doubt a shorter relationship would have survived this. While I've managed to retain kindness throughout this, and I'm grateful for that, most other aspects have been at one point or another stripped away. I'm sure its very very hard to watch your partner struggle to not freak out when they walk through a grocery store :-P

I resonate strongly with what Daniel talked about in MTCTB about a zero leak-through policy, and I've exhausted myself chasing that with pretty much all my energy. Sadly, this was not something I practiced consistenly enough with my wife, though also, she would have seen right through it... don't want to know, and do want to know at the same time. At least her sensitivity means she is aware how much this is caused by suffering, and not some callousness or uncaringness.

After a period of more than a few months, I think there may be some ways in which the no-dark-night-leak-thru has a way of becoming emotionally damaging in its right, at least as a distancing mechanism that has its own pitfalls (see also, "not well connected"), since you're sort of running a virtual human in your brain, which makes it genuinely hard to bond with others. Not that "I'm constantly almost disocciating with sensations that don't seem like they are part of your reality" is a great way to bond either lol ;-)

-Seth

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/4/19 9:53 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hi Linda, I was hoping to hear from you, having read a number of your other thoughtful posts which resonated with my experiences.

I'm not sure if I'd say I'm managing this skillfully.... but at least I can honestly say that I'm managing it with every fiber of my intention and concentration. The easy part has been the things I don't do, the hard part has been figuring out what I /should/ do, and then doing it. To be honest, I'm a wreck and it feels like I'm hanging on by a thread for a long time... every breath knife edge, every breath.

I've tried a lot of approaches. After several months where pure observation was not resulting in a notable change in the phenomenuum (side note: except that by the end where I observed it spread to.... everywhere inside.... though curiously and distinctly not "outside" whatever that means, so if I focus on observing thoughts, vibration in the thought field, if I focus on observing emotions, vibration in the emotions, body, etc..... but if I look at a light, constancy), I focused on relaxing it, on the theory that if you had your hand on a hot cast iron skillet, should you observe "pain pain pain" and freeze yourself there observing it, or should you move ('pain pain moving' ;-)?

Whatever is happening is intense enough that while I can get hatha tension releases (ahhhh, there we go), its playing whackamole, and the next area in my body is freaking out. The physical discomfort of my body's reaction to this level of constant seemingly involuntary stress is...... hard. Its gotten easier as I've just grown used to it, but it does help me to have compassion for myself when I can clearly see from my body's reaction how freaked out it is at such a subconscious level.

I've found I've got a *severly* reduced executive ability through all this, I'm grateful that at least some commitment to intense observation has been left on the table.

-Seth

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/4/19 11:33 PM as a reply to Seth.
Dear Seth,
I feel as if my response here was not thoughtful enough, because what you are going through seems to be too intense for anyone to go through alone with help from a book. You shouldn’t need to go through this alone, irrespective of your capabilities.

If I were in your position I think I would try to contact Daniel Ingram via email to get qualified help.

Reduced executive ability is something that I’m all too familiar with, and I have a partner with brain damage who has more severe difficulties than me. It’s good that you are aware of what it is and compassionate towards yourself. If you need someone to talk to with regard to handling poor executive functioning, I’m here. Maybe I could help findings strategies for some of your daily struggles. If not, at least I could probably relate. Sometimes validation from someone who understands is essential.

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/5/19 7:50 AM as a reply to Seth.
Seth:
Dear Raving,

Thanks for your kind response and  concrete suggestion.... Are there monasteries you'd recommend? How do you reach out to them, etc? Really anything you can share about how "going to a monastery" happens :-P I'm not well connected in this regard, and taking action has become.... very very difficult.
1234567
Hi Seth,
I have never been to a monastery, because I wasn't there to give that sort of advice to myself years ago.
So unfortunately I can't help you.
I don't even know if a monastery is the right place for you.
Maybe a retreat centre where you could be a volunteer would be better suited for you.
Maybe you don't need meditation at all and should do something else entirely, I know nothing about the problems you mention, so I won't comment on this.
The only thing I really wanted to say is "maybe you want to overthink your current strategy of struggling to maintain a normal life, take a break and make this thing your first priority, even if that takes years and entails lots of problems."

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/5/19 8:58 AM as a reply to Seth.
As this sounds like an energetic thing wouldn’t a Qi-Gong teacher be most appropriate? Isn’t this their area?

I know for myself I’ve been working with messed up energy and through a lot of investigation I’ve come to these conclusions so far:

Not having equanimity both causes tension and pushes the energy around in not so nice ways. Just having equanimity isn’t enough though, I need to actively relax my body using attention (all the while maintaining equanimity) and then sense the whole of me to equalise it both in and around my body.

These are just my observations and have no idea if they relate at all. Probably find someone who has expertise? Good luck!

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/5/19 3:25 PM as a reply to Seth.
Hey Seth, 

Sorry to hear you're having a hard time. I'm uncertain if the following will be helpful as it seems like you've tried quite a bit already. I can only offer my little anecdotal list of things that helped ground me whenever I was in this sort of territory, but perhaps they may be of use.

I will add that if you're experiencing anxiety to the point that it is destabalizing to your daily life, you should look into seeing a therapist (I know you mentioned this but wanted to emphasize it in case you aren't currently). If you can find a therapist with some experience in an awakening modality, this is preferable. 

  • Spend a lot of time alone in nature, the wilder the better. Big sweeping vistas and wide views are especially good. Long hikes are wonderful. Walking barefoot on the ground is excellent as well. 
  • Moderate cardio exercise and strength training 2-3x a week. 
  • Give yourself permission to be alone when needed. This includes practicing in an area that is secluded and you feel totally comfortable releasing big emotions if they come up. 
  • Removing the following from diet: alcohol, recreational drugs, caffeine, excessively sweet and salty foods, breads/grains, processed/refined foods. 
  • Augmenting diet with Fish Oil, Magnesium, Zinc, Niacin and B Vitamins. 
  • Not feeling obligated to practice too much or in specific ways. Experiment with dropping noting. Experiment with taking a day off every now and then or practicing less. A relaxed, open and panoramic awareness could be a helpful technique to try out. Just be with what's going on in the body without feeling any duty to monitor, note or "vipassanize" it in any way. 
  • Practicing metta, and remembering to just be kind to oneself. 

Sending Metta to you, be well and keep going! 

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/8/19 9:58 AM as a reply to Seth.
hi seth,
i empathize.
i also like Zachary's advice to you but would add that it seems you would be better suited to a less aggressive approach than strictly vipassana.  Some others have suggested metta and some other things which show the softer direction you might want to focus on for a while.  The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa may be a good guide for you.

There was also a mention above about the manifold nature of your experience.  While monastary life may seem attractive it has its own set of strictures and issues which may not suit you and the commitment required might cause even more stress.

The suggestion that you find a good teacher in a comfortable and supportive tradition seems to me good advice.

Aloha Dharma used to do online private sessions and he seems to be a good judge of peoples strenghts and weaknesses in my experience.

cheers

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/11/19 2:48 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
Hey Seth

Sounds tough. I agree with Raving, that if you can manage the time out, go meditate for a while and see what unfolds. There’s this great website featured around DhO that lists a bunch of meditation centres mostly around Asia, that are cheap and often with wide open practice options - that is, they don’t give you instructions then check you’re doing it - which is helpful for folks who have their stuff to work on already.

placestomeditate.wordpress.com (if link doesn’t work, just copy and paste)

In particular, the Panditarama centres in Lumbini, Nepal, and near Yangon, Myanmar, get good raps. 

All the best!

RE: Muddle headed 4yr 'dark night yogi' reaching out
Answer
4/17/19 1:24 PM as a reply to Seth.
Seth:
I just needed to get that out there and make contact with ya'll, hopefully its not too overwhelming long a list.

A few more details that have stood out to me over the years:
1) Initially it seemed that the frequency was related to breathing, but that faded after about 6 mos
2) It appeared one night after a particularly intense 3 hr sitting lesson, I remember driving home thinking I maybe shouldn't even be driving, wrapping myself in a blanket, and getting ready to "go into samhadi" (or whatever it was I expected at the time hah) and disappear from this world. It felt like something that was going to turn into something. Then it just..... continued..... for years.
3) If I whip my focus around my body quickly, it sort of lags a little, leaving almost like a swirling trail behind it
4) At first I was very interested in a perceived relationship with heartbeat cycle, and at the time I had a very experienced accupuncturist work closely with me to try and see if they could detect it in my pulse, no dice (tried this again later with a very old school chinese accunpuncturist). I still feel some vague connection to heart, but never have been able to get the investigation beyond a vague sense that its connected.
5) I suddenly became hyper sensitive (over sensitive?) to people's emotional states, in many cases I would say deeply hidden ones, though I remain skeptical about this knowing how much some part of me would like to have some attainment from all this lol.
6) One of the other ways that I've described the core experience in the past is its as if I'm now an amphibian with a highly porous skin, and every loose vibration goes through.... its very hard to describe but the 'field' does ..... change in respond to the minutest outside change, from people to sounds to whatever. But not in any predictably patterned way after a few years of watching closely.

aloha seth,

   Perhaps I am beginning to understand why experienced practicioners may recommend to someone obsessed with "enlightenment practices" to the point of self-damage such things as heavy meals, tv-watching and physical exercise. Perhaps they are trying to take the obsessed person's mind off of their obsessive thinking, so obviously harmful. My approach would be more like suggesting one ditch the practices and just sit, as naturally as possible. Let the mud settle. Think of non-thought. 

  People think that if their spiritual "progress" is not developing as they expect and desire that the solution is more intensive practice, active doing. Worse, they pick their practices whimsically, or go from teacher to teacher as though they knew what they were looking for. I've always found teachers more abundant than students. It is students who create teachings, and teachers.

   Enlightenment is really very simple and ordinary. Extraordinarily so. Just learn to love all being(s). Forget your self. Try take my advice and take "forget your self" as your essential practice. Soon, if not instantly, you will be enlightened, though you won't know it. The "goal" of being enlightened and knowing it is impossible. Turtle fur and hare's horn. True ultimate insight is nondual, so there is no one to know, in the event. A zen master once asked a monk if he had been to the top of the ultimate mountain. The monk replied that he had. The master asked him, and did you find anyone there? The monk said, no, there was no one there. The master remarked, and to think I doubted this fellow. The monk then pointed out, if I hadn't been there, how would I have known there was no one there? 

   Happiness is found by giving up being miserable. Clear-mindedness - as opposed to "muddle-headedness" - is found by giving up opinions.

   Lose your life and save it.

terry


from the tao te ching, trans feng:


16.

Empty yourself of everything. 
Let the mind become still. 
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return. 
They grow and flourish and then return to the source. 
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature. 
The way of nature is unchanging. 
Knowing constancy is insight. 
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster. 
Knowing constancy, the mind is open. 
With an open mind, you will be openhearted. 
Being openhearted, you will act royally. 
Being royal, you will attain the divine. 
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao. 
Being at one with the Tao is eternal. 
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

 

32.

A truly good man is not aware of his goodness, 
And is therefore good. 
A foolish man tries to be good, 
And is therefore not good.

A truly good man does nothing, 
Yet leaves nothing undone. 
A foolish man is always doing, 
Yet much remains to be done.

When a truly kind man does something, he leaves nothing undone. 
When a just man does something, he leaves a great deal to be done. 
When a disciplinarian does something and no one responds, 
He rolls up his sleeves in an attempt to enforce order.

Therefore when Tao is lost, there is goodness. 
When goodness is lost, there is kindness. 
When kindness is lost, there is justice. 
When justice is lost, there ritual. 
Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion. 
Knowledge of the future is only a flowery trapping of Tao. 
It is the beginning of folly.

Therefore the truly great man dwells on what is real and not what is on the surface, 
On the fruit and not the flower. 
Therefore accept the one and reject the other.