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The "snapback"
Answer
5/17/19 5:14 AM
I'm interested in feedback on this forum since I have asked teachers in the past and received  answers that haven't helped.

In the last five years, since a particular retreat doing a lot of mantra mediation, I experience a sudden loss of calm and concentration any time I start to develop a practice. I recently realised it applies to absorption in general. Even trying to clean the bathroom without thinking produces a brief period of calm and then this violent "snapback". 

If often begins with a sense of "burning too hot". Everything is on overdrive, I am full of plans and energy. Then things start to feel very strained. I cannot contact my breathing. I become emotionally unbalanced. I cannot think straight. I make poor decisions. My limbs feel like they all want to move in different directions. I feel a thousand miles away from everyone I speak to. I get exhausted and then I sink into depression and it takes weeks or months to pull myself out. I often have a screaming sensation in my head.

I have stayed away from mediation because of this. I am more stable but life is not back to normal. I am worse off than before I started and I don't know what to do about it. I think this snapback is maybe an obstacle to overcome rather than a limit to respect. I don't understand what is going on or how to break through it (if that's the right way of thinking about it). I can't find anyone who understands what I'm talking about or understands how unmanageable it is. I would appreciate any feedback.

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/17/19 5:53 AM as a reply to Chris.
Interesting question. Sounds wise to investigate it rather than avoiding it, as long as one doesn’t get too overwhelmed to function.

Have you read Daniel Ingram’s book MCTB2? I’m thinking that it sounds like it could possibly be that you are in low equanimity and then fall back into reobservation. The contrast there is huge, but the pattern of moving back and forth between these two stages is common. If that is what you are going through, it may be helpful to carefully notice on a sensate level how it manifests as it occurs.

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/19/19 4:11 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks for your reply. I haven't read Daniel's book but I have watched some interviews which gave me a taste of the approach. This reference point you mentioned is a good place to start as the content is quite dense. 

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/17/19 10:37 AM as a reply to Chris.
Chris:
If often begins with a sense of "burning too hot". Everything is on overdrive, I am full of plans and energy. Then things start to feel very strained. I cannot contact my breathing. I become emotionally unbalanced. I cannot think straight. I make poor decisions. My limbs feel like they all want to move in different directions. I feel a thousand miles away from everyone I speak to. I get exhausted and then I sink into depression and it takes weeks or months to pull myself out. I often have a screaming sensation in my head.

I have stayed away from mediation because of this.


Chris, it's really a good idea to go slowly when these things happen. This type of response are very common in therapy and mediation (I'll explain a few ideas below). In general, whenever the solid sense of self becomes too vague, too quickly it can cause anxiety or even a freak out. 

In classic psychoanalytic therapy, patients are often guided into developing "ego strength". This is the ability to deal with thoughts and feelings in a way that doesn't cause them to become overwhelming or repressed. Not just strong thoughts or emotions, but also subtle anxiety. It's worth looking at the wiki article on defense mechanisms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms) to see the various ways humans can develop more mature coping mechanisms.

I also like the ideas described in the psychology/mediation blended theory called Biocognition “Boundaries of Abundance” (Martinez). In this model, it recognizes that our sense of self is vulnerable when we're children and young adults to overwhelming negative experiences, and these experiences cause biological-psychological-cultural wounds that can be re-triggered. The interesting thing is that these wounds typically occur by those with authority over you and who you are dependent on survival. So it occurs in family/community within a general context of calmness, belonging, intimacy, and love. What is interesting about this is when we feel calmness, belonging, intimacy, and love it can acutally re-trigger the memory of negative experiences --- which is very counter intuitive. As a result, these wounds cause limits to dimensions of happiness because they are re-awakened by contexts of happiness. You can only experience joy to the extent that you feel worthy of the experience, wounds associated with happiness is the limiter of joy. In this approach to therapy/meditation, you find a safe place, a safe posture (solid seat, warm, back protected), imagine happiness, look for the “kill joy” negative feeling, that is the wound. Then you experience the sensations of wounds without judgment. A more active method is to apply an "antidote". When you feel shame, you remind yourself of times you were honorable in life. When you feel abandonment, you remind yourself of when you actively committed to yourself, took care of yourself. And when you betrayed, you remind yourself of when you stayed loyal to yourself, true to yourself. In this way you create a healthy sense of self, with less old wounds. Here's a link to a recording that summarizes this approach. https://www.amazon.com/MindBody-Code-Beliefs-Longevity-Success/dp/1622037618 There is also free stuff you can find online with some searching on Mario Martinez's name.

There are many many many other meditation type approaches that use this same kind of allowing, exploring, healing approach. Here's a few of them: http://awakenetwork.org/magazine/shargrol/253

In pure meditation, you go gently into the state of calm and allow feelings of freak out come up, but you don't resist and you don't react, and you let them come and go... and they disappear like sparks from a fire flying up into the air and going out. Obviously this takes a strong foundation and ego strength. Advanced meditators look at this stuff as "purfication" and often will feel they body get hot. In ancient traditions, this is called tapas [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapas_(Indian_religions)]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapas_(Indian_religions)

The important thing is to go slowly. If you experience too much too quickly, you will just re-wound yourself. No can make progress if they just keep re-traumatizing themselves. So go slow and try to find an approach that works with you (ideally working with a therapist or a meditation teacher.) You can see that there are a range of approaches from pure therapy to pure meditation to everything in between. 

Hope this helps in some way!

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/17/19 11:41 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Oh. So that’s what the occasional heat waves are? I didn’t know.

I’m noticing a pattern where I don’t see warning signs that others see in questions like these. Lack of meditation experience in comparison is of course the obvious reason, but I think it might also be the case that I’m less sensitive to certain things and therefore miss what might be important for others to watch out for. It hasn’t always been like that for me, but I seem to have forgotten how overwhelming it could be. Somehow I have done this kind of healing. It probably happened very gradually.

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/19/19 4:33 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for your reply. 

I have explored this from a trauma perspective as well, and have done some Somatic Therapy. I watch an interview with Daniel Ingram last week, I think it was guru viking, and he mentioned the word "titration" in the context of handling difficult experiences. This reminded me of Peter Levine and is what caused me to write. 

Because that is the big quesiton really. I've heard and understood the need to titrate the experience so that it doesn't overhwhelm and retraumatise. Recently I tried pranayama which was recommended to me as something gentle: MISTAKE! I'm looking for something that is foolproof that I don't have to be worried about disregulating my system as you say. Perhaps that is the unrealistic expectation.
 
I will check out the approaches suggested. Thanks very much.

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/20/19 11:03 AM as a reply to Chris.
Chris:
Because that is the big quesiton really. I've heard and understood the need to titrate the experience so that it doesn't overhwhelm and retraumatise. Recently I tried pranayama which was recommended to me as something gentle: MISTAKE! I'm looking for something that is foolproof that I don't have to be worried about disregulating my system as you say. Perhaps that is the unrealistic expectation. 

Yeah, pranayama can create a kind of axiety/panic attack response in some people. Definitely have to be careful with that method.

(BIG EDIT: I left out "not" in this sentence, very sorry!!!) I have to admit, I've _NOT_ found a foolproof method for dealing with this stuff. In a way it's easier when someone knows what trigger/trauma they are dealing with, because then you can apply a specfic treatment method. Obivously working with a therapist is called for in these situations, but I've noticed that when people are ready and willing to go into therapy there is fast progress -- that willingness seems to be the most important thing. It seems there are a lot of new techniques beyond the old "talk about your problems" approach. This technique seems fascinating to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6UvKhLYf7w

But anyway, the main thing I wanted to add is that it is very common that when learning to titrate to sometimes do to little or too much, but if your intention is solid, you learn from this and find a balance over time. And of course over time you learn to be able to be resilant and can actually stay present to stronger and stronger "triggers". So mostly I wanted to encourage you to explore this and also know that the is no perfect method and no one is perfect at figuring out this titrating stuff. We all learn by trial and error, ultimately. 

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/22/19 8:03 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for that. I have looked at EMDR a little bit though not in great detail. It's not recommended in every instance of something like this, but I did have some results.

Perhaps the hardest aspect to deal with is the cumulative exhaustion of the chaos of the snapback. Everything goes haywire and that can have lasting consequences. It's hard to keep picking yourself up, though this has improved. For a long time it literally felt like the universe was punishing me for daring to relax. It sounds ridiculous but it was such an all-pervasive experience. In the end I found it was a therapist listening and exploring this in a non-judgemental way that helped to get past this idea. The common spiritual model of not giving into your ego just made it harder. 

Thanks it's been helpful to realise I was looking for something that always works. I can see how trial and error and different practices at different times might be the way to go. 

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/23/19 6:06 AM as a reply to Chris.
Yeah, the real goal is to catch the snapback earlier and earlier, and yet not feel defeated if we have to go through a whole cycle again. But ideally, we start learning what triggers the snapback and what reinforces the snapback.

It's worth thinking about and even writing down what seems to be specific triggers. Make them conscious. For example, maybe there can be such a thing as too much relaxation for you now, you might need to maintain a little bit of activity to feel safe. That's fine. Maybe no sitting practice but walking practice instead. Maybe mindfull workouts in the gym. Maybe doing housework as it is a monk's job in a zen temple, slow and sensitive and precise. That's why there are a million different practices -- all have worked for somebody in some situation 

Also think about what seems to reinforce the snapback. It's good to notice whole categories of thinking that happen like over-simplifying things, always thinking in worst case scenarios, thinking in terms of simple binaries (right/wrong, good/bad, etc.), and making big assumptions about knowing how things will turn out. If you can recognize the types or thoughts that happen for you, then you are slightly less embedded in that way of thinking. (You are aware of the thoughts, but as an observer, not as a 100% believer in them.) And if you ever fall out of balance, maybe there are little rules or reminders that you figure out to prevent complete exhaustion. Maybe it's "I will take a shower, get into pajamas, and lie in bed every night at the same time" so that you aren't staying up late and messing up your sleep. Maybe it's choosing non-exciting activities like washing clothes or cleaning the house instead of going online and getting wound up by whoever makes you outraged. That sort thing.

This is something that pretty much everyone has to figure out. Some people have problems early in their practice. The ones that don't tend to have problems later in their practice. It always seems to be a trial and error thing to find out way through.

Best wishes!!

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/17/19 10:36 AM as a reply to Chris.
This is a bit of a stab in the dark, but you may be experiencing trauma-related emotional disregulation that's now associated with meditative states. I ran into it when my meditation practice started digging up emotionally charged trauma-linked memories, and started to experiencing alternating emotional volatility and shutting down/feeling disconnected/remote.  For a period anything meditation-related would bring it up, or any time impermanence suddenly became evident.  I may be overgeneralizing from my experience, but it does feel somewhat similar.  When you say "burning too hot", do you feel like you actually flush or have your body temperature increase?  

I posted some advice and links in this recent thread that may be helpful even if I'm off base on the potential cause.  Good luck and take care!

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/19/19 4:22 AM as a reply to JP.
Thanks for your reply. I will read the thread. By "burning too hot", I am describing a fire being out of control and having too much fuel. I mean this physically in terms of being flush, but also emotionally and mentally. 

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/19/19 6:49 AM as a reply to Chris.
Hi Chris, Thats what happens when the heat pools in the head. It starts when it doesn't flow out of the feet. So it goes up the back turns in the head. Then down the front and is restricted. Then begins to pool at the top. The mind gets agitated and can become mental rising. The process continues and pressure builds. The attention keeps focusing on it, which makes it worse. Then it becomes mental falling. People may feel physically and mentally ill. Chronic cases end up with the attention continuously up there, which makes it worse.

I do remember seeing some information on a website of practishioners claiming to be skilled with this. One thing worth mentioning. One of the skills claimed was the ability to convince the person to allow the energy to come down. Its claimed that they don't want to. Don't respond negitively to that as it should give more details to find this source. The reason for not wanting to take it down was what they claimed was the ego. I don't know if any of thats true. I do know the heat in the head is.

I had a huge release of the fire element it block the head instantly and both legs went numb. My face and head felt like it had been anaethetetised like at the dentist. Obviously i go with the Sankaras so i was just a dribbling mess. I had a teacher that knew what to do. The heat poured out both feet non stop for 6 days. They were burning. I was taking attention to under the neck and sweeping down to the feet. Hold attention there for a few minutes. Take attention off the body, don't run it up the body. Focus on an external object. Then make contact below the neck and sweep down feeling all the sensations. Do that continuously. Don't cross your legs. Also buy a bike and do 30 to 40k steady rides. This has three benefits. Exercise. Grounding the attention into the lower part of the body. Finally the breeze on the skin and the sense activity draws the attention out of the body. This has nothing to do with some energy grounding. Its the attention your moving.

The previous 3 times i've given this advice, they weren't interested. Thats why i decide to mention that a symptom is a resistance to taking the heat down. The actual problem is no downward flow. The burning of the body is the buildup of the fire element. Its harder to feel the heat in the head. Often its just painful. Sometimes it will show on the face. Hot tingling. In the head you may notice pressure, or sometimes little sharp spots on the crown, like a releasing of pressure. When its chronic, people lose their perspective on how block it is.
Good news is that this is no mystery. Its well known.

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/19/19 7:01 AM as a reply to Bigbird.
I had a quick look on the internet, and i don't see any shortage of information. It does vary.

I would learn this.


https://realization.org/p/mantak-chia/most-effective-cure-for-kundalini-psychosis.html

RE: The "snapback"
Answer
5/19/19 12:21 PM as a reply to Bigbird.
Thankyou but I'll pass on pretty much all of that. 

The idea that not getting a good result, or not following the advice in the first place, is a sign of ego resistance, is a bit of circular logic I would argue. How can we measure that other than by the perceived skilfulness of the teacher?

And all the stuff about channels and heat rising and kundalini etc. might be true and might work for some people but I don't find that model works for me in any way. It might all be made up. It might not. But I think whether it's helpful or not is the main thing. 

Thankyou for your input though.