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Dark Night or Incorrect practice or something else? Advice needed

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Hi DHO,


Since 1 week I started feeling a lot of aversion towards meditating (I still do it), my concentration on and off the cushion is worse and my mood and equanimity is dropping. Things fluctuating is obviously expected. The thing is I’ve been hyper motivated the last couple of months, worked myself up to 3 hours, never skipping a day no matter how tired or shitty I felt. Because I’m not working at the moment I’ve been practising mindfulness and doing insight practise outside and the cushion too for most of the day. 

Last month I’ve experienced a lot of spiritual highs, including the most beautiful 2 hours of my life till this date. This was paired with intense energetic phenomena happening a lot these days like I’ve never experienced before. Although I formally was ik stage 4-5, I definitely had stage 8+ meditations in here where my sits were completely effortless. 

I kept practising and investigating not clinging to the experiences, although they were nice. Because of these experiences I started learning more about Dhamma. I too started reading MCTB from Daniel Ingram.

Things progressively got worse from there. Only towards the 2nd half of my meditations I feel okay, outside of that I feel restless, shitty, foggy. I still have a minor involuntary movements all the time during meditation and sometimes even outside which makes me think I’m doing something correct, although there is a lot of doubt, and my concentration is shit way worse than it was before.

I am in the process getting a teacher and I’ve singed up for some zoom meetings. I’m also in therapy for my anxiety.

Due the to being foggy/less concentrated I worry if I’m using enough effort, but when I do use more effort my head feels tight. I used to be a over-efforter, and fixing that leaded me to those spiritual highs. My biggest doubt I guess is if I’m in some sort of Dark Night or if I’m just practising incorrectly or that these issues are purely psychological. Not due coming out of those spiritual highs or having some bad days, but due my experience being so different compared to the last few months. Like everything getting progressively better (energy, emotional regulation, concentration, insights, equanimity) with some ups and downs obviously, to being it as bad as when I started or even worse. 

Sorry for the long lost, any advice, general or specific is greatly appreciated.

Have a nice day,

Metta

RE: Dark Night or Incorrect practice or something else? Advice needed
Answer
10/15/20 1:01 PM as a reply to Hans Zanden.
Hey Hans,
I'm on my phone - so I am sorry if the format is off. 
Sounds like solid practice so far and it's typical for most Yogi's to get into the DN at around stages 4-6. So I wouldn't exclude that. 
You are not doing anything wrong - just note doubt as doubt. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that there has to be sth done. Don't strive in practice and accept that your concentration is shitty on some day's. Make a small effort to investigate into aversion and also subtle forms of aversion and put an emphasis on relaxing your body during practice. Just keep practicing 1-2 hours per day and you should be fine. Off cushion practice is fine as long as you don't restrict yourself too much - try to enjoy things and keep your shit together. All the best,

RE: Dark Night or Incorrect practice or something else? Advice needed
Answer
10/15/20 1:10 PM as a reply to Oatmilk.
Thanks for the reply man! Allright, I'll set my doubt aside. Today my doubt was so big that I started increasing my effort anyway. I'll just relax again at my evening session, and do my thing.

Have a nice day!

RE: Dark Night or Incorrect practice or something else? Advice needed
Answer
10/15/20 5:22 PM as a reply to Hans Zanden.
Hans Zanden:
Hi DHO,


Since 1 week I started feeling a lot of aversion towards meditating (I still do it), my concentration on and off the cushion is worse and my mood and equanimity is dropping. Things fluctuating is obviously expected. The thing is I’ve been hyper motivated the last couple of months, worked myself up to 3 hours, never skipping a day no matter how tired or shitty I felt. Because I’m not working at the moment I’ve been practising mindfulness and doing insight practise outside and the cushion too for most of the day. 

Last month I’ve experienced a lot of spiritual highs, including the most beautiful 2 hours of my life till this date. This was paired with intense energetic phenomena happening a lot these days like I’ve never experienced before. Although I formally was ik stage 4-5, I definitely had stage 8+ meditations in here where my sits were completely effortless. 

I kept practising and investigating not clinging to the experiences, although they were nice. Because of these experiences I started learning more about Dhamma. I too started reading MCTB from Daniel Ingram.

Things progressively got worse from there. Only towards the 2nd half of my meditations I feel okay, outside of that I feel restless, shitty, foggy. I still have a minor involuntary movements all the time during meditation and sometimes even outside which makes me think I’m doing something correct, although there is a lot of doubt, and my concentration is shit way worse than it was before.

I am in the process getting a teacher and I’ve singed up for some zoom meetings. I’m also in therapy for my anxiety.

Due the to being foggy/less concentrated I worry if I’m using enough effort, but when I do use more effort my head feels tight. I used to be a over-efforter, and fixing that leaded me to those spiritual highs. My biggest doubt I guess is if I’m in some sort of Dark Night or if I’m just practising incorrectly or that these issues are purely psychological. Not due coming out of those spiritual highs or having some bad days, but due my experience being so different compared to the last few months. Like everything getting progressively better (energy, emotional regulation, concentration, insights, equanimity) with some ups and downs obviously, to being it as bad as when I started or even worse. 

Sorry for the long lost, any advice, general or specific is greatly appreciated.

Have a nice day,

Metta


It's hard to say exactly what the problem is without more information

But when I have similar problems it is usually one of the following:
  1. There is somthing much more fun and interesting I want to do.
  2. I am concentrating with too much intensity - like I am looking intensely for a lost object. I get better results if my effort at concentration is more like looking at a beautiful sunset: it is relaxing and restful not stressful or intense.
  3. Unpleasant thoughts and emotions are getting ready to come up from the unconscious (and in that case pretty much anything else is more fun and interesting).

When #3 is occurring I find what helps is to try asking yourself why you don't want to meditate. When the mind is trying to hide something from itself it has to be coaxed into opening up. Trying to figure out if something is coming up and bringing it out can help. It can be somewhat disruptive while I do it but the next day I often find some improvement.

Another helpful step is to try samatha meditation or metta meditation if you are not already doing some of that in addition to vipassana. It can be relaxing and elevate your mood and make it a lot easier to deal with unpleasant thoughts and memories that might be coming up.

When I am sitting and stuff starts coming up and I need a break, I will sometimes do relaxation exercises. They are also good way to prepare the mind before meditation.

And sometimes just meditating after a meal instead of before a meal can make a difference because eating will sometimes elevate my mood (although waiting an hour after eating can help avoid drowsiness).

RE: Dark Night or Incorrect practice or something else? Advice needed
Answer
10/15/20 6:15 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Hans Zanden:
Hi DHO,


Since 1 week I started feeling a lot of aversion towards meditating (I still do it), my concentration on and off the cushion is worse and my mood and equanimity is dropping. Things fluctuating is obviously expected. The thing is I’ve been hyper motivated the last couple of months, worked myself up to 3 hours, never skipping a day no matter how tired or shitty I felt. Because I’m not working at the moment I’ve been practising mindfulness and doing insight practise outside and the cushion too for most of the day. 

Last month I’ve experienced a lot of spiritual highs, including the most beautiful 2 hours of my life till this date. This was paired with intense energetic phenomena happening a lot these days like I’ve never experienced before. Although I formally was ik stage 4-5, I definitely had stage 8+ meditations in here where my sits were completely effortless. 

I kept practising and investigating not clinging to the experiences, although they were nice. Because of these experiences I started learning more about Dhamma. I too started reading MCTB from Daniel Ingram.

Things progressively got worse from there. Only towards the 2nd half of my meditations I feel okay, outside of that I feel restless, shitty, foggy. I still have a minor involuntary movements all the time during meditation and sometimes even outside which makes me think I’m doing something correct, although there is a lot of doubt, and my concentration is shit way worse than it was before.

I am in the process getting a teacher and I’ve singed up for some zoom meetings. I’m also in therapy for my anxiety.

Due the to being foggy/less concentrated I worry if I’m using enough effort, but when I do use more effort my head feels tight. I used to be a over-efforter, and fixing that leaded me to those spiritual highs. My biggest doubt I guess is if I’m in some sort of Dark Night or if I’m just practising incorrectly or that these issues are purely psychological. Not due coming out of those spiritual highs or having some bad days, but due my experience being so different compared to the last few months. Like everything getting progressively better (energy, emotional regulation, concentration, insights, equanimity) with some ups and downs obviously, to being it as bad as when I started or even worse. 

Sorry for the long lost, any advice, general or specific is greatly appreciated.

Have a nice day,

Metta


It's hard to say exactly what the problem is without more information

But when I have similar problems it is usually one of the following:
  1. There is somthing much more fun and interesting I want to do.
  2. I am concentrating with too much intensity - like I am looking intensely for a lost object. I get better results if my effort at concentration is more like looking at a beautiful sunset: it is relaxing and restful not stressful or intense.
  3. Unpleasant thoughts and emotions are getting ready to come up from the unconscious (and in that case pretty much anything else is more fun and interesting).

When #3 is occurring I find what helps is to try asking yourself why you don't want to meditate. When the mind is trying to hide something from itself it has to be coaxed into opening up. Trying to figure out if something is coming up and bringing it out can help. It can be somewhat disruptive while I do it but the next day I often find some improvement.

Another helpful step is to try samatha meditation or metta meditation if you are not already doing some of that in addition to vipassana. It can be relaxing and elevate your mood and make it a lot easier to deal with unpleasant thoughts and memories that might be coming up.

When I am sitting and stuff starts coming up and I need a break, I will sometimes do relaxation exercises. They are also good way to prepare the mind before meditation.

And sometimes just meditating after a meal instead of before a meal can make a difference because eating will sometimes elevate my mood (although waiting an hour after eating can help avoid drowsiness).

Man, thank you so much, this is useful. I will aplly the advice.

Have a nice day!

RE: Dark Night or Incorrect practice or something else? Advice needed
Answer
10/15/20 7:30 PM as a reply to Hans Zanden.
Feeling shitty, restless, foggy, doubting, poor concentration etc - these are all qualities that can be investigated. Drop the negative labelling and try to study them as closely as you can. Really get a feel for their texture. That way you will stop resisting them. Look at it as a good practice opportunity. Bliss is just the payoff for working through the hindrances.