Overdoing it in Equanimity?

Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 4 Years ago at 9/25/19 1:41 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/25/19 1:41 PM

Overdoing it in Equanimity?

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Hey all, please see my question below followed by a little background for those that are interested.  

After a long, total bastard of a DN I appear to be predominantly in EQ. I’m worried about overcooking it by sitting *too much* though. 

Throughout my practice I have struggled with retreat schedules, and have always felt intuitively that it’s just too much meditation in one day for me. I get quite a headache from it and eventually it derails my practice. Right now, because I am a guest in the homeless hotel and have nothing else to do I am managing about 3-4hrs a day but I’m beginning to feel a bit “fried”. So, please let me know about your experiences with easing off a bit at this stage vs sitting as much as possible. 

I really, really don’t want to fall back but I don’t want to screw it up either emoticon

(and why I’m sure about where I am)

Basically… I’ve spent the last few years with poor and erratic practice due to massive head tension. I have to put the palm of my hand against my forehead to get to sleep because it can be so bad when I’m quiet or concentrating. But over the last 10-11 months it seems to have all been coming out in my daily life with huge bleed through. I’ve truly made a mess of things. 

I’ve spent months in paralysing existential fear, uncontrollable grief (continuous crying over my dog who died a few years back, my business crash, loss of eyesight <- yep, went blind as well! etc) and this eventually drove me back to practice. Fortunately I found Daniel had published MCTB2 in the meantime and I re-read it with a passion. I seriously improved my technique and stopped trying to “note” and doubled down on “noticing” with my Goenka style practice. 

Well, it took like a bloody WEEK for things to start to improve and now I find myself experiencing RO more in sensations than emotions which makes going through it much easier of course. When i lie down to meditate now, I just sink straight into very spacious territory after a brief glimpse of intense pleasure in the body and varying degrees of head tension and painful  sensations. Often I don’t get these at all, i just kind of blip over it in about 3-10 secs. 

The clincher for me is that my room overlooks a very busy street near the station and there are all kinds of sudden, loud and often annoying noises right outside my open window (ambulances, kids on motorbikes, car stereos, fighting…) and nothing ever makes me jump. No reaction at all above mild interest… Oh, and the head tension is there, and might even be quite strong, but it’s felt as just a mildly interesting fuzzy sensation that continuously expands and contracts as the sit continues. 

It should be noted that this is not the first time I’ve been through this. The last time around was pure sensations though, with only a bit of irritation and grumpiness as I went through the DN phases. This time round there is all of a sudden a bit of a quantum leap in my concentration levels and that helps also. 

Oddly, or perhaps not (I’m not the dharma brightest…) I feel hugely grateful for my business going down and even my blindness. Its forced me to accept help and freed me from distractions. I really don’t think I’ve “felt” very much of anything over the last 25yrs (i did see a therapist this summer and yep, there’s a whole bunch of stuff in my teen years that appears to account for this emotional blankness) but all of a sudden I can feel all kinds of emotions. Most of them sad ones, but they’re beautiful as well if you know what I mean. I’m really enjoying people, and not being anywhere near as much of a grumpy recluse as I was. It’s amazing. 

Boy, what an adventure eh?
George S, modified 4 Years ago at 9/25/19 2:30 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/25/19 2:28 PM

RE: Overdoing it in Equanimity?

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hey Bagpuss,

Don't take my word for anything because I'm a total noob. Also I can't tell whether there is anything "physically" wrong with your brain, but assuming not then the headache is probably a sign of progress. Or at least it was in my case. From my perspective it means your are becoming aware of your body (including the brain) and all of the psychophysical gunk that has gotten trapped there over the years. My facial headache got quite bad, not as bad as yours it seems but I was afraid of having a seizure, then just was I thought I could take it no more it started to release backwards into the brain and also the lower chakras started opening up which also helped reduce the pressure up there. I had to make a couple of life adjustments towards being less selfish as well. In terms of frying yourself, I felt a bit fried on insight sometimes and found concentration to help, but that was before the headache got real bad so I don't know if that will work for you. Oh yeah and that brief bit of intense pleasure you talked about, that sounds like piti, if you can amplify that it could help a lot. The trick is not to grasp at it or "try" to do anything with it, actually the opposite, try to relax and ignore it, then it will really ignite. Helped a lot with head pain to counterbalance it with powerful bliss waves. Then eventually you have to let go of both the pain and the pleasure and recognize them both as just conditioned "stuff", but I'm still in that phase so can't give you any advice there.
Jason Massie, modified 4 Years ago at 9/25/19 6:32 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/25/19 6:29 PM

RE: Overdoing it in Equanimity?

Posts: 124 Join Date: 10/18/16 Recent Posts
How do you read MCTB and post here if you are blind? Asking for a friend who is blind. I'd like to help him read that book.

Now your post is full of stuff so you may get wildly different answers which is good.

But specifically in regards to "not overdoing in eq", for me it is balancing the factors of awakening. Specifically, balancing effort and investigation with tranquility and equinimity. When I put in too much effort, I feel bodily tension. I use that as a guide as to were to back off. Maybe you can see something similar.
It is not backing off cushion time. It is being mindful with less effort and more tranquility. Maybe even sitting more(not considering other possible physical\mental health concerns which should be considered emoticon) See more widely and inclusively without trying harder.
svmonk, modified 4 Years ago at 9/26/19 9:33 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 9/26/19 9:32 PM

RE: Overdoing it in Equanimity?

Posts: 401 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Dear Bagpuss,

Your writing about going blind caught my attention. In 2010-2011, I was doing heavy concentration practice but I was slowly going blind in my left eye. It was really hard to drive, and in fact dangerous, but where I live it is almost impossible to get around unless you drive. Fortunately, my wife was willing to do the driving when we went somewhere together, and other times I could bike, but even then there was a danger that I would get doored or not see a car. At times I starting to think that there might be some kind of connection between my practice and the fact that I was going blind, but at other times I figured it was nonsense. But I was still really depressed all the time.

Anyway, I visited a whole bunch of doctors, nobody could tell me what the problem was. A cataract surgeon told me I didn't have a cataract and I was a bit young for one anyway. Finally, I went to another cataract surgeon who had practiced at the Mayo Clinic for 20 years, and he put a lens implant into my left eye. Immediately, I could see again. I was so grateful! But he never told me what the problem was, and why the first guy couldn't find anything.

Several years ago, I was chatting with my eye doctor about this and he told me that there is a kind of cataract called a fluid cataract that comes on very quickly, is especially common in people with really bad distance vision like me, and occurs in younger people. It is very difficult to diagnose. Anyway, that's what I had.

I don't know if you've sought medical help for your vision problem, or if the problem might be cataracts, but I would encourage you to keep trying until you find someone who can give you an answer.