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Hello + Practice Log
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10/21/19 2:03 PM
Hello Overgrounders!

I've been lurking for a while and wanted to start my practice log here so that I can benefit from the combined wisdom of the group. 

A bit about me:

I've been meditating off and on for the last several years. On my first Goenka retreat I went a bit off the rails (waking up with psychedelic visions every night, bouts of paranoia and euphoria, crazy visualizations, etc) but quickly returned to normal once talking was allowed. I've learned that my mind is quite vivid in concentration practice and I quickly get into stuff thats above my ability with little effort, so I've proceeded with caution since...(I have no history of mental illness besides intermittent anxiety). Reading more on the subject it may have been an A+P... or maybe not!

I read through The Mind Illuminated this last year and have had an intense desire to start meditating again. With two weeks of concentration practice my mind was already drudging up memories, emotions and blanketing waves of intense fear and droning sadness. So... I connected remotely with a teacher in the US (I'm currently living abroad) and his diagnosis was that my concentration was strong but my insight and ethics were weak, so I slip too easily into identifying with phenomena and getting caught in a mental/visual feedback loop. He pointed me towards Mahasi-style noting, which I've begun along with a shorter practice of meta concentration (using the warm feeling in the chest as object of meditation.) The noting seems to be great thus far at keeping me from identiying with my thoughts, emotions, etc and the meta gives ma a bit of a well-being 'cushion'.

Given my previous experiences (along with some kundalini-esque phenomena), I want to honor my desire to meditate, but be accountable and check in here to keep my progress on the right track. My biggest fear is that of losing control (fear of death ultimately), and in the context of meditation, getting stuck in an awful dark night or having depersonalized/dissociative experiences. Its a fear I'm going to have to befriend and work through. Any suggestions given my background are welcome!

(ps I've read through MCTB, Mind Illuminated, making my way through Mahasi Sayadaw texts, Satipatthana and other suttas, and watched way too many videos about the dark night emoticon )

Thanks for reading!

RE: Hello + Practice Log
Answer
11/1/19 7:14 PM as a reply to Christopher.
Howdy emoticon

I advise you to brush up on neuropsychology & cognitive psychology. That should hopefully elucidate the phenomena, you may even use the comprehension to skip over the dark night. 

Can I ask what about meditating excites you? What do you hope to achieve? Do you want to induce hallucinations or do you want to get above the mind? Are you trying to understand your nature more? Are you JUST curious and nothing more? 

RE: Hello + Practice Log
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11/1/19 7:22 PM as a reply to Christopher.
Welcome

I hope that you find what your looking for.

RE: Hello + Practice Log
Answer
11/2/19 12:17 PM as a reply to Christopher.
Welcome Christopher! I wish you luck, Metta, and fruitful practice. And if you're concerned about honoring your desire to meditate and you're doing Mahasi-style noting, you may want to look at adding Maranasati to your practice if you don't already do that. I do a little of it before every session as I find it tunes motivation, attitude, and effort to the right levels better than anything else, better than even TMI's four-step progression, though YMMV on that. It's also the fourth of the Four Protections you are instructed to contemplate prior to beginning noting contemplation in Mahasi Sayadaw's "Practical Insight Meditation", so you'll also be following his instructions. Hard to argue with that! 

RE: Hello + Practice Log
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11/2/19 3:09 PM as a reply to Mista Tibbs.
Mista Tibbs:
Howdy emoticon

I advise you to brush up on neuropsychology & cognitive psychology. That should hopefully elucidate the phenomena, you may even use the comprehension to skip over the dark night. 

Can I ask what about meditating excites you? What do you hope to achieve? Do you want to induce hallucinations or do you want to get above the mind? Are you trying to understand your nature more? Are you JUST curious and nothing more? 
I'll read up specifically on neuro psychology- thanks for your reply and the suggestion! I have CBT, Gestalt and EMDR experience from a period with a stressful work/life situation (read: neurotic new yorker ;) ). I think that specifically the EMDR opened up a world of somatic awareness of emotions/memories in the body that bubbles up very easily in meditation. I read "The Body Keeps the Score" and it 100% described my physical/emotional experience.  Great book from a more therapeutic angle.

As for my motivations for meditation: I've always felt an underlying existential sadness and childhood fears which I now find sabotage efforts regarding career, relationships and addictive behavior. I'd very much like to get some distance from these so that I can more effectively pursue the things I value in life. 

Additionally, I've always been a bit of a seeker, feeling a yearning towards transcendence. As if my body/mind knows what's possible and pulls me forward, whether I'm ready or not. I've wondered if I've had an A/P earlier in life, as I've sensed this spiritual pull since adolescence. I think I'm more interested in developing equanimity (and awakening if possible) than hallucinations for their own sake.

RE: Hello + Practice Log
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11/2/19 3:10 PM as a reply to Michial N.
Michial Neal:
Welcome

I hope that you find what your looking for.


Thank you!

RE: Hello + Practice Log
Answer
11/2/19 3:13 PM as a reply to Ryan.
Ryan:
Welcome Christopher! I wish you luck, Metta, and fruitful practice. And if you're concerned about honoring your desire to meditate and you're doing Mahasi-style noting, you may want to look at adding Maranasati to your practice if you don't already do that. I do a little of it before every session as I find it tunes motivation, attitude, and effort to the right levels better than anything else, better than even TMI's four-step progression, though YMMV on that. It's also the fourth of the Four Protections you are instructed to contemplate prior to beginning noting contemplation in Mahasi Sayadaw's "Practical Insight Meditation", so you'll also be following his instructions. Hard to argue with that! 
Thank you! This sounds like a great suggestion and I'll definitely read up on it! I may also DM you if I have any questions (if you don't mind!)

RE: Hello + Practice Log
Answer
11/5/19 1:29 AM as a reply to Christopher.
Christopher:

As for my motivations for meditation: I've always felt an underlying existential sadness and childhood fears which I now find sabotage efforts regarding career, relationships and addictive behavior. I'd very much like to get some distance from these so that I can more effectively pursue the things I value in life.


As someone who spent a lot of time in dark night I can tell you that you'll want to get a handle on that stuff while you continue on your journey practice. Building a healthy, rich life will develop your self-esteem. The last thing you want is to have to deal with that stuff while you are cycling through the stages of insight. Anyways, cheers. Nice to have you.