crossing the A&P and into dark night

george, modified 8 Months ago.

crossing the A&P and into dark night

Posts: 93 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
Hi everyone. So i thought I'd post my experience and see what the community thinks! I had a lot of doubt surrounding what happened to me but after stopping my meditation and reflecting on the experience i can say with confidence that i crossed the A&P and into dark night. Now this was a big deal to me, to the point where it became very obsessive and destructive. Its taken me a long time to recover and re-gather myself after this experience and see it more clearly because i sure as hell couldn't see shit in the midst of it. Here it goes!

So it started with Daniels book. I hit the ground running dry vipassana style noting 45 mins a day for ~4 months. Very fast noting of gross impermanence, shifting to subtle impermanence, noticing energy within the body. Snake like movements up my spine, really strong upright posture, body was buzzing. Started having emotional upheaval. Crying, sinking feeling in my stomach, felt miserable.
I kept trying to decipher where i was on the path as outlined by Daniels book and this contributed to a lot of suffering. I had no teacher at this point so i STOPPED practicing and went looking for a teacher.

Found a teacher who was a psychologist although not a buddhist practioner (thought it would be ok). I worked with her for over a year, experiential body work, reiki and guided mediation in sessions. Sitting with her I experienced a snake like feeling going up my spine and a lot of shaking. Bubbles would be going up my back too and there would be a churning at my bottom chakra area. Then my posture would just straighten right out, my body would be vibrating like a tuning fork and then nothing, it all subsided. Then there was this plain, spacey type experience pleasant but not buzzing like before.

What followed was an even more emotional roller coaster. A lot of fear, anxiety and terror. My chest was being ripped apart by how sharp the physical pain was, this pain radiated around the side of my torso to my shoulder blades I thought I was having a heart attack or I was close to having one so had a blood test done to check my health. I also went and saw a myotherapist to help with the shoulder blade pain. I was fine, thankfully. At this time I quit my job which I hated and finally found a job I enjoyed doing! I kept practicing even though it was hard getting up for work.

Again i was questioning where i was on the path, if I crossed the A&P and was in dark night. My teacher said i was experiencing anava mala. Could anyone maybe explain anava mala in the context of the Insight stages? I had no idea what this was which was frustrating as my teacher couldnt relate to my path and I really couldn't relate to hers. Now I can see how not being on the same page as your teacher can contribute to problems in the practice.

Eventually it got to the point where i started having these weird experiences. They're hard to describe. I still get them every now and then but not at the same intensity. If i had watched a video, or listened to someone talk during the day, during the evening when lying down I'd get these very magnified or loud repeats of what was heard earlier in the day. It started to freak me out and i couldn't get in touch with my teacher. I couldn't sleep properly and i needed help so admitted myself into hospital. I was administered anti depressants and started to feel better. But just before i was put on them it felt like my body was always in anticipation of something, it was so agitated and restless, I couldn't relax. The medication thankfully took the edge off.

SO it's taken me a long time to be able to write this and also to even understand what i experienced and make sense of it. ALSO what to do and what NOT to do while practicing. 1. If i find I'm experiencing the snake waking up again then to expect emotional upheaval, but that this upheaval is GOOD. 2. Not to obsess over where i am on the path and just sit and practice, no craving for an experience and no aversion toward an experience just practice. 3. Take care of my mental health by taking medication (much needed relief) and therapy. 4. Doubt and uncertainty is inevitable, just notice it like everything else.

Sorry if its long, hope people find something of use and more advice and information is greatly appreciated.

George
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Jarrett, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: crossing the A&P and into dark night

Posts: 54 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hey George, 

I relate to so much of what you posted here. I am pretty ignorant regarding Vedantic systems but the anava mala appears to me as a layer of illusion and limiting beliefs that need to seen through. And the kundalini can help "burn" through this. I am experiencing tons of sharp pains and intense pressures in different places in my body while sitting and I just try to hold these sensations with awareness and love and continue to place my attention on my object of concentration. This has been happening for a couple years with varying degrees of intensity and emotional upheaval.

I'm curious if you could try to describe some of these "weird" experiences that you say are hard to describe. Your post sounds like a pretty classic Kundalini awakening A&P event followed by dark night.   

In dark night, I wouldn't say I am / was depressed. Just more like everything is incredibly intense and I get overwhelmed quite easily. Moments of intense reactivity, anger, rage, pain, as well as joy and bliss. Like a much wider range of emotions has been accessed. 

I like what you wrote here:

george:
1. If i find I'm experiencing the snake waking up again then to expect emotional upheaval, but that this upheaval is GOOD. 2. Not to obsess over where i am on the path and just sit and practice, no craving for an experience and no aversion toward an experience just practice. 3. Take care of my mental health by taking medication (much needed relief) and therapy. 4. Doubt and uncertainty is inevitable, just notice it like everything else.

I would add that looking at sensations, emotions, thoughts, as "good" or "bad" can strengthen the duality -- seeing things through the lens of "right" or "wrong" --  I "should" or "shouldn't" be doing this.. I have found evaluating to be really detrimental for me and the maps encourage evaluation.  When I let my intuition take the reigns, I connect to this inner knowing and when I can tune into that to make decisions, I find I am better taken care of. This can also appear in dreams for me. Does that resonate with you?

From what you describe here, I think you have a great attitude towards practice. Keep going and continue to be gentle and allow things to be as they are. 

Best wishes, 

Jarrett
george, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: crossing the A&P and into dark night

Posts: 93 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
Hi Jarrett, thanks for your message! Thanks for your input on the anava mala, I wonder how this corresponds to the insight stages though? Maybe not that important.

I was identifying alot with misery & fear in the dark night stages, but i would have to agree with you on your experience with it being very intense and overwhelmed easy, it was very up and down, basically a roller coaster ride. 

The weird experiences were as described in my original post. To add to that though, words would come into my head with frightening magnification, i thought i was hallucinating but later found out i wasn't. Had i experienced this in a normal state of mind I doubt it would've caused so much distress but because everything was so intense, i just couldn't handle it.

Yes i understand what you mean by strengthening the duality by buying into good/bad etc. I think identifying with any state of mind becomes an issue as it gives rise to craving and aversion or is it the other way around? I wish i knew what intuition was, but i don't. I usually make decisions based on how i feel, so a physical sensation but i found that to be unreliable as my physical sensation regarding something changes so much, so I dont know what to do?

I've stopped my insight practice but will be starting it again in the near future. I want some intellectual knowledge to mature and also coolect my thoughts regarding the previous experience. I also want to strengthen my shamatha practice before i continue anything.

Thanks again Jarrett.


warm regards,

George
agnostic, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: crossing the A&P and into dark night

Posts: 1639 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Yeah dry insight practice can be pretty freaky if you don't have a solid samatha base. Sounds like you handled the whole thing very well and respected your limits, even if you did have some terrifying experiences. You're on the path certainly, no need to worry exactly where because everything is going to unfold in time. Continue taking it easy on yourself, listening to your body, gentle relaxation and breathing exercises, diet, sleep, exercise are all important. No need to force the insight practice, you already proved you can do that and it's better to keep it running as a gentle form of investigation along with the other more grounding practices. Keeping a log here will help you get more precise feedback.
Best wishes
George
Tim Farrington, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: crossing the A&P and into dark night

Posts: 2460 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
george:
Hi everyone. So i thought I'd post my experience and see what the community thinks! I had a lot of doubt surrounding what happened to me but after stopping my meditation and reflecting on the experience i can say with confidence that i crossed the A&P and into dark night. Now this was a big deal to me, to the point where it became very obsessive and destructive. Its taken me a long time to recover and re-gather myself after this experience and see it more clearly because i sure as hell couldn't see shit in the midst of it. Here it goes!

So it started with Daniels book. I hit the ground running dry vipassana style noting 45 mins a day for ~4 months. Very fast noting of gross impermanence, shifting to subtle impermanence, noticing energy within the body. Snake like movements up my spine, really strong upright posture, body was buzzing. Started having emotional upheaval. Crying, sinking feeling in my stomach, felt miserable.
I kept trying to decipher where i was on the path as outlined by Daniels book and this contributed to a lot of suffering. I had no teacher at this point so i STOPPED practicing and went looking for a teacher.

Found a teacher who was a psychologist although not a buddhist practioner (thought it would be ok). I worked with her for over a year, experiential body work, reiki and guided mediation in sessions. Sitting with her I experienced a snake like feeling going up my spine and a lot of shaking. Bubbles would be going up my back too and there would be a churning at my bottom chakra area. Then my posture would just straighten right out, my body would be vibrating like a tuning fork and then nothing, it all subsided. Then there was this plain, spacey type experience pleasant but not buzzing like before.

What followed was an even more emotional roller coaster. A lot of fear, anxiety and terror. My chest was being ripped apart by how sharp the physical pain was, this pain radiated around the side of my torso to my shoulder blades I thought I was having a heart attack or I was close to having one so had a blood test done to check my health. I also went and saw a myotherapist to help with the shoulder blade pain. I was fine, thankfully. At this time I quit my job which I hated and finally found a job I enjoyed doing! I kept practicing even though it was hard getting up for work.

Again i was questioning where i was on the path, if I crossed the A&P and was in dark night. My teacher said i was experiencing anava mala. Could anyone maybe explain anava mala in the context of the Insight stages? I had no idea what this was which was frustrating as my teacher couldnt relate to my path and I really couldn't relate to hers. Now I can see how not being on the same page as your teacher can contribute to problems in the practice.


Hi George, and welcome to the DharmaOverground. You enter through the Dark Night door, which is great, lol, since we can cut right to the chase here.

I remember anava mala from my time in a Muktananda ashram in the early 1980s. He espoused a form of Kashmir Shaivism, and the idea there was that the guru's initiation through shaktipat, the waking of the Shakti, the Kudalini energy, would initiate the saddhana or spiritual practice process that would dispel it. Like so:
when applied to Consciousness, mala means spiritual or mental impurity. It is the impurity with which Consciousness in its present limited state (the state of the limited or bound individual) is tainted.In Kashmir Shaivism, mala (spiritual impurity) is of three types: (a) anava mala, (b) mayiya mala, and (c) karma mala. All three types of impurity are the products of maya, the limiting or veiling principle in Nature.

and
The māla (meaning "dirt" or "impurity") theory states that the infinite Self, (Hinduism)]atman, is reduced and limited by three forces produced by ŚivaŚiva, by exercising his free will – svātāntrya, takes contraction upon himself and manifests as countless atoms of consciousness (cidaṇu – consciousness quantas). Cidaṇu are enwrapped by material vestment. The three malas are āṇava māla – the limitation of smallness, māyīya māla - the limitation of illusion and kārma māla – limitation of doership. . . . Of the three limitations, only the first one, ānava mala, which is the basis of the other two, is impossible to surpass through effort alone, without the help of divine grace (Śaktipat).  . . .

What the teacher was suggesting, I would guess, is simply that you were up against the fundamental problem of spiritual practice. Simply calling it anava mala is sort of at the same level as saying samsara dukkha, as far as I'm concerned: unenlightened existence is fucking miserable. If you're not aware of the dark night, or dukkha nanas, as a particular phase/phenomenon, and a relatively advanced one at that, with specific behaviors approriate to the condition, then you can wallow in it for quite a quite, until all the inadequate theories and futile verbal and conceptual negotiations finally burn up.

I do think it is notable that even in Kashmir Shaivism, it is recognized that while spiritual work, practice, meditation, can dispel the two lesser malas, the third and root mala, anava mala, requires something like grace, help from God, or the guru's shaktipat, or Shiva or Shakti. What the dark night teaches is beyond human teaching, and it begins with humility and surrender to the reality of that.

The maturity of malas of a person is related to the level of grace (śaktipāt) he is able to receive.[29] With dedicated practice, kārma mala and māyiya māla can be surpassed, but then the practitioner has to put his fate in the hands of Śiva, as Śiva alone can bestow the grace of lifting anava mala and helping him recognize (pratyabhijnā) his essential nature.

This is classic dark night knowledge in the sense in which the term "dark night" was used originally by John of the Cross: in the dark night, which is a "hell of mercy," a gift from God, our own efforts are shown to us, by God, to be ultimately futile without God's grace. This is why the suffering is so intense: it is at the limitation of what our finite selves can accomplish through techniques or self-effort or acts of will. And so it only really happens to people who have actually come a significant way along the path, and had their techniques work and their efforts pay off, right up until this point where it all craps out, incomprehensibly. Welcome to the nanas of the knowledge of suffering.
Eventually it got to the point where i started having these weird experiences. They're hard to describe. I still get them every now and then but not at the same intensity. If i had watched a video, or listened to someone talk during the day, during the evening when lying down I'd get these very magnified or loud repeats of what was heard earlier in the day. It started to freak me out and i couldn't get in touch with my teacher. I couldn't sleep properly and i needed help so admitted myself into hospital. I was administered anti depressants and started to feel better. But just before i was put on them it felt like my body was always in anticipation of something, it was so agitated and restless, I couldn't relax. The medication thankfully took the edge off.

I was a similar type, in that psychiatric medication for depression helped me stabilize enough to start sorting out my types of misery, lol. I am bipolar, a relatively severe case, and have had to learn everything the hard way.

SO it's taken me a long time to be able to write this and also to even understand what i experienced and make sense of it. ALSO what to do and what NOT to do while practicing. 1. If i find I'm experiencing the snake waking up again then to expect emotional upheaval, but that this upheaval is GOOD. 2. Not to obsess over where i am on the path and just sit and practice, no craving for an experience and no aversion toward an experience just practice. 3. Take care of my mental health by taking medication (much needed relief) and therapy. 4. Doubt and uncertainty is inevitable, just notice it like everything else.

Sorry if its long, hope people find something of use and more advice and information is greatly appreciated.

George

lol, no problem! The nail is in the board, man. You learned how to get through, and how to keep it in perspective. What the hell are you even doing here, taking up valuable space with your damn good perspective when there are so many people dark nighting like crazy?

Just kidding, relax, and practice, and you'll be fucked up again soon enough, lol, unless i beat you to it. It is all relentlessly cyclic, and fractal, and infinitely complex.

Glad to have you in the sangha, my friend. May you enjoy it and find support and refuge here.

love, tim
george, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: crossing the A&P and into dark night

Posts: 93 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
Thanks agnostic and Tim for your words.

First off Tim, HAhahaha looking forward to getting fucked up together! Really though thanks for spelling out the anava mala for me aaaaand your kind words. I actually went to a siddha yoga ashram and received shaktipat and it didn't help, or did it?

I stopped practicing altogether for a while because i just felt like shit. Have started up my samatha practice and completely sucking at that. My mind just wants to notice everything, just wired to vipassannise the fuck out of everything or space out. Its great fun.

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