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I need help - after Vipassana retreat

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I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 10:16 AM
Hi everyone,

I was looking for the anwers over the Internet but couldn't find them... I decided to write my questions here. I'm very confused and I hope someone can give an advice... (on the begining sorry for mistakes but English it's not my mother tongue :-) )

I finished my first Vipassana 10-day retreat 5 days ago. Before that I did some meditation but not regulary and for only 3 months (focusing on the breath, feelings, sometimes metta). I was scared because I had some psychological problems in the past but I decided to go. I was feeling quite ok, I had ups and downs like normal person... I thought that I could stand face to face with my fears and past memories so I went to the retreat.

On the 3rd day was my first breakdown. I had a strong feeling of fear, my heart was beating fast, etc. I decided to sit and just watch the sensations in the body. Later that day was better but since then everyday was a huge struggle. I was struggling with anxiety, sadness, fear, feeling of guilt, anger towards myself... - everything I could possibly imagine. I think at the same time I was pushing myself too hard. I really wanted to get through this, my teacher said it will pass and it's normal and this is the part of the puryfication. I believed it will help me. I had moments of calm but, believe me, that the retreat was extremely hard for me. I had this rollercoaster of ups and downs until the very last day. I didn't feel good on the 10th day, there was still a lot of tension in me.

After to course I visited my friend in the other city. Come back was very strange... I was enthusiastic, I was feeling strange in my body and world around was completely different. I assumed it's good. it's just the part of the process and I changed my perception, that's all. I expected that in a few days I will go back to normality, more or less. It's too much to write about... these 2 days were good in general, I was very (even extremely) positive, had a feeling like a have a new insight or something and I can do everything... But then I came back home and the worse feelings came. Feeling of being empty. I sit with my friends and I don't want to talk, I feel like begind a big glass. Something changed. But to worse. Today is my 2nd day at job. I am weak and I'm very miserable. I feel like a huge pain in my heart pressing me down to the ground. When I focus on something it lets go for some time. But it's still in my mind. I have a feeling that i have some kind of insight to my own pain and pain of others and I can't be happy anymore. I feel like I'm more aware of others but at the same time I don't want to talk to them, like I have nothing to talk about... Emptiness, very sad.

I've read about the Dark Nights - could it be what I'm dealing with? But I can't live like this... I feel like going insane emoticon

Sorry that this is so long. I tried to desribe it the best I can. I would be very grateful for any comments and help.

Thank you.
Kinga

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 11:06 AM as a reply to Kinga M.
Hey Kinga, and welcome!

It sounds exactly like you hit the Dark Night during your retreat, and towards the end you got into Equanimity ("these 2 days were good in general, I was very (even extremely) positive, had a feeling like a have a new insight or something and I can do everything... ") However, when you stopped meditating as intensely, you fell back into the Dark Night ("But then I came back home and the worse feelings came. Feeling of being empty. I sit with my friends and I don't want to talk, I feel like begind a big glass...")

It is pretty normal&predictable though of course really painful and unpleasant. So you have a few options...

1) stop meditating and go back to 'normal' life. but this won't make the Dark Night go away and will drag it out and you'll feel like there is something wrong (which there is - 'normal' life sucks!), so you kind of have to keep going

2) keep meditating and get Stream Entry. probably the best choice. you will basically keep being in the Dark Night, getting into Equanimity, then back into Dark Night, then Equanimity, etc., back and forth, until you finally make it to Stream Entry. the fact that you got equanimity means you're pretty close, though, so all you need is some good practice and you should be able to make it soon enough. i really really recommend reading Mastering the Core Teachings of Buddha as it tells you exactly what you need to do and why (in partaicular, your teacher said "it will pass and it's normal and this is the part of the puryfication". thats true but its not entirely helpful. MCTB kind of makes it all make sense and realize exactly whats going on). in short: sit down, notice the 3 characteristics (impermanence, suffering, selflessness) of all sensations accurately and consistently until you hit stream entry.

3) stop meditating and try actual freedom. i don't know if this is a good idea in the middle of an intense Dark Night, or if its best to continue and get stream entry and try it after that (or whether you want to try it at all), but it seems like a lot of people who have done Vipassana and been successful there are finding actual freedom to be 'the goal', really, and you don't have to be Enlightened to do it. but basically: see if you can remember any PCE's, realize that it's possible to shift your consciousness so that that is the experience 24 hours a day, then focus on being happy and harmless by applying the HAIETMOBA method. if it looks promising then start reading through the threads on actual freedom here, read through the actual freedom website.. i think those 2 links are a good starting point but there's a lot of stuff and it's not particularly well-organized from one central location so you kind of have to look around

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 4:12 PM as a reply to Kinga M.
Hi Kinga,

Welcome to the Dharma Overground and welcome to vipassana life. You've found a very helpful and valuable place on the internets. Unlike myself there are some very experienced meditators here who will hopefully chime in and help you along as good as possible.

I felt the urge to reply to your post because I can very much relate to it. I thought I'd tell you a bit of how I've been dealing with it, maybe it is of some help or at least gives you some reassurance.


Kinga M:
Hi everyone,

I was struggling with anxiety, sadness, fear, feeling of guilt, anger towards myself... - everything I could possibly imagine. I think at the same time I was pushing myself too hard.


Kinga M:

I have a feeling that i have some kind of insight to my own pain and pain of others and I can't be happy anymore. I feel like I'm more aware of others but at the same time I don't want to talk to them, like I have nothing to talk about... Emptiness, very sad.


I've been experiencing these things in daily life ever since my first retreat some time ago (don't be discouraged, some people get through this in a matter of weeks or days, it's very personal). Difficulty to focus, angry, hateful thougths, weakness, misery, emptiness, low self esteem, fear, anxiety.
Indeed they say it's dark night (however some psychological difficulties might be intertwined) and the only way out of it is to keep meditating and reach stream entry.

I have been getting cognitive therapy to deal with these difficulties in daily life and to conquer the depression and social anxiety i got from this (WTF is wrong with me?), wich has been really helpful to deal with negative thoughts (it's just thought, not very much truth to it). But although helpful it very much feels like dealing with the symptoms rather than the root of the problem. It helps in daily life, but not meditating does not seem to be an option.

Kinga M:

(...) But I can't live like this...

note: self pity, drama, exaggeration.

Well, actually you can. You're very much up to it. You'd be surprised.
Despite this negativity I started an education and a job as a high school math teacher, and although managing a classroom with 30 teenagers might sometimes feel like hell in a state of mind like this, I've been doing quite ok. Not so much problem about it really, I'm doing a decent job.

Also, it might be a pretty intense experience for you, but other people mostly won't notice it about you (wich for me seems pretty hard to believe, but I've checked it ;-). You can just keep doing the things you do. So try not to be hard on yourself. Guilt is not justified, nor helpful for that matter.

On the good side, dark night has been challenging me and helping me very much to develop compassion for myself and for the people around me. Metta meditation has been very soothing for me, helping me to befriend misery and make less and less fuss about it.

But alas, without reaching stream entry it seems that misery will be a returning visitor (if you accept it and start paying attention, you will notice how it has a rythm to it). Good for you that you've allready found the noble eightfold path and some sources of guidance to walk it. My humble advise would be to make it your main journey in life, as accomplished meditators all say that in the end it's the best thing they've undertaken by far.

Hope I've been of some help. Either way, good luck to you.
Noah


PS. Your english is actually very decent. The story isn't too long either.
So no need to apologise, in general, whatsoever emoticon



TL;DR Shit happens, start noting it.

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 4:51 PM as a reply to Noah Antique.
TL;DR Shit happens, start noting it.


HA! Perfect and some straight-up solid advice.

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 9:26 PM as a reply to Kinga M.
Kinga you're suffering what's known as depression.

This can be cured by getting an interesting job and a girlfriend. It's important not to meditate at this stage. Wait for meditation to come naturally to you - then it will be right. Best of luck.

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 9:44 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Kinga you're suffering what's known as depression.

This can be cured by getting an interesting job and a girlfriend. It's important not to meditate at this stage. Wait for meditation to come naturally to you - then it will be right. Best of luck.

in your 225 posts and year+ of being at the DhO, haven't you noticed a peculiar tendency for "depression" to follow intensive meditation?

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 10:05 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I've noticed people who are social phobics try to avoid taking risks in life. Lacking success, they end up thinking 'life sucks', and then renounce everything worldly, including relationships. This then leads them to meditation forums, where like minded people congregate. Giving depression a new and respectable word (Dark Night) only covers things over for so long.

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 10:20 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
hmm i think is most wise for me to just stop talking here. i'm sure you've had this discussion with many people already

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 10:19 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Yes it's a bit stale.

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
3/31/11 10:24 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Yes it's a bit stale.
i'd merely suggest re-looking at all the instances of "Dark Night" you've seen here, keeping in mind the principle of cause and effect

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
4/1/11 2:25 AM as a reply to Kinga M.
Hello again and thank you for your kind replies.

I was thinking about my situation in general and I talked to my Buddhist friend about it as well. What is the result of it? I'm not feeling like meditating at the moment. Some of you say that this is the Dark Night and the best thing is just to keep meditating. After the retreat and a few days at home I started to look at it in a different way. Now I am very aware of the suffering that I was hiding somewhere deep in my mind. I realized that even shortly before Vipassana retreat I was going through very difficult stages of mind but I was just covering it all the time (for ex. binge eating). Just running away from myself constantly... I have a strong feeling that this Vipassana course was too big shock. It's like going from complete ilussion to the core of your misery. It looks like all the pain just came out but I don't think I was ready for it. Ok, at least now I can work on it. But to be honest, I don't feel that Vipassana meditation is a way to deal with it (I mean personally for me). It looks like the problem is more visible now but I feel mentally unstable and I don't assume it as a positive result of the retreat...

My Buddhist friend adviced me to practise only metta or even stop meditating for some time. He's in a tradition where they're doing only concentration on breathing and metta meditation. Also he kind of dissuaded me from doing the retreat as a thing for more advanced meditators.

You know what more I experience after Vipassana retreat? Being neutral, emotionally empty. Yes, I said that I feel sadness and fear, etc. but I mean I'm lacking very natural simple emotions connected with everyday life. Enjoy being with people. Simple things doesn't seem to make my happy and I feel lost.

Why on the application form for Vipassana retreat they're asking about psychological issues? Doesn't it mean that some people can't take the benefits out of it or even harm themselfs? Don't you think that for some Vipassana may be too deep?

Such a relief to share all of this emoticon
Thanks in advance for your replies.

Kinga

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
4/1/11 7:31 AM as a reply to Kinga M.
Kinga M:
Some of you say that this is the Dark Night and the best thing is just to keep meditating. After the retreat and a few days at home I started to look at it in a different way. Now I am very aware of the suffering that I was hiding somewhere deep in my mind. I realized that even shortly before Vipassana retreat I was going through very difficult stages of mind but I was just covering it all the time (for ex. binge eating). Just running away from myself constantly... I have a strong feeling that this Vipassana course was too big shock. It's like going from complete ilussion to the core of your misery. It looks like all the pain just came out but I don't think I was ready for it. Ok, at least now I can work on it. But to be honest, I don't feel that Vipassana meditation is a way to deal with it (I mean personally for me). It looks like the problem is more visible now but I feel mentally unstable and I don't assume it as a positive result of the retreat...

yeah vipassana is really quite painful. if you re-start a vipassana practice, it will get worse before it gets better. you did reach the calm space for those 2 days, meaning you already got past it and you can again, but it might be difficult without a consistent practice and it will be painful, no doubt.

Kinga M:
You know what more I experience after Vipassana retreat? Being neutral, emotionally empty. Yes, I said that I feel sadness and fear, etc. but I mean I'm lacking very natural simple emotions connected with everyday life. Enjoy being with people. Simple things doesn't seem to make my happy and I feel lost.
it sounds like Dissolution. i've had the very same feeling. it does kinda suck!

Kinga M:
Why on the application form for Vipassana retreat they're asking about psychological issues? Doesn't it mean that some people can't take the benefits out of it or even harm themselfs? Don't you think that for some Vipassana may be too deep?
you've had some emotional issues, and look what it did. now imagine you had bipolar disorder - holy shit! i hear people who have that just get ridiculous highs and lows, like they'll be sitting in the bathroom and see themselves rotting away through the floor. the A&P and following Dark Night is already similar to a manic and then a depressive episode, so if you're already manic and depressive, it will be greatly exacerbated. basically Vipassana seems to really piss of the self, so if it's a strong and mentally-unstable one, there will be negative consequences.

Kinga M:
My Buddhist friend adviced me to practise only metta or even stop meditating for some time. He's in a tradition where they're doing only concentration on breathing and metta meditation. Also he kind of dissuaded me from doing the retreat as a thing for more advanced meditators.

i actually think the best way to deal with emotional issues is to practice Actual Freedom. it's literally a simple and direct method to eliminate the causes of your suffering by simply realizing it is silly to do that to yourself (all suffering is caused by your 'self', even if someone says something mean to you, it is your reaction that is the suffering, not the words) and then not doing it anymore (not feeding those emotions). maybe you can start with this topic on beliefs, and read the correspondences between Richard & others.

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
4/1/11 10:56 PM as a reply to Kinga M.
kinga, if you want to try the natural route to freedom, see my thread on 'magic and lottery', not the whole thing but the last post. That method has been working well for me since I posted it. If you want to know how to pick up women, you've probably heard girls say "I like a man who knows what he wants", which means you'll become attractive the moment you get in touch with your deepest desires (as opposed to the desires society has imposed in your mind).

When things are going well, and you have an interesting job, done a good day's work and come home to a lovely girlfriend, make love to her, eat well, you'll put your feet up and drift happily and naturally into a meditative state. This time without the depression (Dark Night).

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
4/1/11 11:06 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
kinga, if you want to try the natural route to freedom...
what freedom do you mean? freedom from what? freedom from everything except having to:
C C C:
have an interesting job... a good day's work and come home to a lovely girlfriend, make love to her, eat well...put your feet up and drift happily and naturally into a meditative state

? what happens if one of those things gets mis-aligned?

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
4/1/11 11:15 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Ultimate freedom, the freedom that comes from deep meditation.

Misaligned, like eg. having a fight with the boss? Then that night you don't get to meditate! You work on fixing that relationship. Next day, after smoothing things over, you go to lunch, have a nice cup of tea and quite out of the blue a deep and peaceful silence happens, on its own.

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
4/2/11 12:17 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Ultimate freedom, the freedom that comes from deep meditation.

Misaligned, like eg. having a fight with the boss? Then that night you don't get to meditate! You work on fixing that relationship. Next day, after smoothing things over, you go to lunch, have a nice cup of tea and quite out of the blue a deep and peaceful silence happens, on its own.

oh i geddit, only do it when you're calm. i dig it. but i think you can be calm without needing to have all those things

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
4/8/11 2:37 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I've noticed people who are social phobics try to avoid taking risks in life. Lacking success, they end up thinking 'life sucks', and then renounce everything worldly, including relationships. This then leads them to meditation forums, where like minded people congregate. Giving depression a new and respectable word (Dark Night) only covers things over for so long.


CCC,

well said. I came to the same conclusion myself.
Adyashanti calls it spiritual bypassing...
However, wether depression and the DN are exactly the same is something I havenĀ“t found out yet.

Sven

RE: I need help - after Vipassana retreat
Answer
4/21/11 11:45 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Kinga you're suffering what's known as depression.

This can be cured by getting an interesting job and a girlfriend. It's important not to meditate at this stage. Wait for meditation to come naturally to you - then it will be right. Best of luck.

you cant possibly be serious.

What if what you want is not an interesting job and a GF because you already have those, plus money, respect etc...
But what if what you want is for your kid not to be dead, or for your body not to be paralyzed?


if what you meant was to be as calm and peaceful as possible before meditating, then this post is less absurd and shallow, but it certainly doesn't sound like this at all.

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