Morphine comas and insight cycles?

Robert Scott Johnson, modified 10 Years ago.

Morphine comas and insight cycles?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/25/11 Recent Posts
I thought I'd add a little something for everyone to consider I'll try to keep it short.By the time I was about 22 I had reached chronic alcoholism. One day I got arrested and put in jail for an old underage consumption warrant.After about a day in jail with no booze istarted going into intense physical and mental alcohol withdrawals (hallucinating hearing voices , becoming paranoid, life threatening blood pressure levels ,totaly freaking out.)
I was transferred to the hospital and placed in a coma out of fear that I was about to "scare myself to death". I was in the coma for 8 weeks.While in the coma I had a constant barrage of extremely realistic and terrifying dreams. Also for much of the time it seemed like I was kind of half conciouse half unconciose just kind of laying there paralyzed and hallucinating.I had no idea what was happening and started thinking all kinds of weird scenarios like I was dead and my memories were being transferred to another body, I was being kept so I could be killed and put in an art exhibit, my arms and legs had been amputated, just crazy stuff.
Anyway I got out of the coma went back home and relapsed very shortly and was soon very far back into my addiction where I stayed for a couple if years
Then one day I had a life threatening withdrawal seizure and was rushed to the hospital where I was treated and eventually put into another coma.At the hospital after the seizure and before I started freaking and had to be put in coma number two I remember truly thinking that this time I would go through whatever it took to beat the withdrawal periods and remain sober for good.During coma number two it was still extremely painful but not nearly as bad as the first one and I came out of it still feeling very drained but I had a true desire to remain sober and live life to it's fullest.
I went to a non profit residential work based recovery program where I stayed for a year and I remain sober to this day.Since then I have gained a great love for the dharma but have only recently ran into any in depth teachings on the maps (thanks to Daniel Ingrams book). It seems to me that when i was in the second coma that I may have had some sort of subconciouse coming to terms in my own head type of thing even though at that time I had no meditation experience I also wouldn't be surprised if what I went through was actually some of the insight stages and maybe I started a cycle and didn't finish it. My meditation practice thus far has just been Samatha stages, Metta, Devotional Meditation, Analytical Meditation, and sometimes a crazy mish mash of all of them and just feeling my sensate universe and cultivating appreciation and love for that.I've done some experimenting with insight practice and it seems almost like I'm continuing where I left off when I got out of coma number two, but the thing is i don't know where I left off.Can one start an insight cycle without knowing it , leave it dormant for several years and then just start a new one or must one finish what one started has started?
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Morphine comas and insight cycles? (Answer)

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I noticed no-one had posted a reply on this one so I thought I'd stick my big shoes in and say something.....Ha!

First up, well done on staying sober and it sounds like you've got the resolve and commitment to keep doing it. It's that sort of commitment which will serve you well if you decide to really go for the whole realization exploration which, if I understand your posting correctly, is what you're looking to do. It sounds like you're already more familiar with the Buddha's teachings than myself so I can't really advise anything else there, and if you've read MCTB then you've got the best "how to" manual for any newcomer to the progress of insight that money can buy at present. Get yourself over to here and familiarise yourself with Mahasi Sayadaw's classic.

As for the your interpretation of what went on during your coma, especially trying to relate it to the progress of insight, be careful not to try to bend your experience to fit the map by being aware of how you're doing this. There's a process involved which I've observed while trying to map other experiences within other situations, it's really easy to mislead yourself by just subtly twisting the memory of it. I can also say that you'll waste a lot of time, which would be better spent with your arse on the cushion and really practising, examining this stuff because it's all made up of old sensations and, although you'll get some psychological insights, following the vipassana technique will reveal more in the present moment which, as you're already aware, will in turn illuminate the past.

Insight cycles just cycle, whether you're aware of them or not they're happening constantly and can be observed. My opinion is that you'll soon find out what each stage feels like if you practice vipassana for any length of time. Once you know what each feels like, you'll be able to see how they manifest in daily life and observe how your experience of being changes during them. Practice will also show you where you are right now but it'd be very difficult for anyone but you to diagnose that with any degree of accuracy. With regards to continuing from where one left off, again I can only say: vipassana.

What I would say is that, given the degree of abuse your body has taken over the years through the booze, consider your current state of mental health. Are you really up to the often painful and difficult process of breaking reality down to a sensate level? I make no judgement whatsoever on you or where you've come from, I only offer this post as a friend on the Path in the hope that you can make the most of these techniques and not place yourself, or anyone else for that matter, in any danger through this. You've obviously had a tough time and it's beautiful that you've found truth in the Dharma, but be aware that this isn't all calmness and light, you're facing up to suffering, something you've done more clearly than many of us, and dealing with some crazy shit that can come up so consider this before you go for it.

You might have passed the Arising & Passing during your coma, it's only a guess based on what you're saying so far, in which case you would logically have progress into the Dark Night after that. These stages are totally universal, evident in practice and can be observed to occur in the same order, although each person may interpret or communicate the content in different ways, for anyone who practises any technique which deals with the "spiritual" side of things from, in my experience, magick to yoga. I have a tenuous theory that they occur in most situations which involve active/willed change e.g. learning, although I haven't really looked into much so far. It's quite incredible actually, you'll see for yourself if you pursue this Path.

Anyway, hopefully that's been of some use to you. I can only offer advice from the position of someone still fairly new to this so don't take what I say as the final word, there's plenty of people on here who can offer far better advice and you should take advantage of it. Whatever you choose, I hope you continue with your recovery and wish you the very best of luck in whatever comes your way.

Robert Scott Johnson, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Morphine comas and insight cycles?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/25/11 Recent Posts
Hey Tommy thanks for the reply. One thing I've been very careful about with this stuff is like you said not twisting around my memory to make it fit the progress of insight, My memory of the situation is such a jumbled up mess that it would be nearly impossible to acurately match it up with anything. For a long period of time I used to try to relive the experience and remember all the little details of the dreams or visions or whatever I had but I've found that it doesn't do much except put me into kind of a weird mindstate.As for making sure I'm up to the task of insight practice, I've used a lot of forgiveness meditation as sort of a pre cursor for the insight stuff it has done great for developing compassion towards my former drunken delusional self,and helps a lot in day to day life which is one of the main focuses of my practice.
I guess only time and practice will tell if my experiences were linked in any way to the progress of insight I'm both open and skeptical about that idea and I'm happy to have found a site like this where I can bounce ideas off of people.
As for crossing the A&P while I was knocked out I've toyed with that idea a little bit and it kinda makes sense. Especially since afterwards I did go through what seems very similar to the dark night, but on the other hand I was also going through the painful process of getting over an addiction, and I could easily link that up to the dark night, plus I was in new surroundings and living with people I had never met before,(although I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, the recovery program I was in was awesome and the people were great) it was a very fast paced cluttered type of reality that I could barely keep up with and it was a little over a year before I felt "normal" again, and to this day almost three years sober it sometimes still seems like I'm recovering, which I probably am.
Anyway I guess you live and learn.I should probably just be extremely grateful that things ended up ok, which I am, but my mind still goes a million miles a minute sometimes and I'm sure I'll still find myself sometimes pacing back and forth in my living room like a madman swimming around in content trying to piece all this together,I guess that's just part of the process but I'll try to keep that kind of behavior to a minimum and have more of a focus on the present moment. Thanks again so much for you reply Tommy, it really helps to hear others perspectives on this stuff and I look foreward to sharing any future Dharma experiences and questions with this network and will do my best to help others when I can!