RE: Advice please!

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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please!

Posts: 3997 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Truthfully, my reason for wanting to start again is I'm sick of my default thinking.

This needs more explanation - what do you perceive to be wrong with your default thinking? Why do you think meditation would "fix" that?
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please! (Answer)

Posts: 3997 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Based on this tiny sample of information about you and your concerns, it's probably not a good idea to undertake a meditation practice like noting or anything else that would dig into your underlying issues. Sounds to me like you need to find someone who has knowledge of your type of problems so you can talk them through before you do anything that's potentially harmful. I think you are right to be worried, and I hope you find peace.
shargrol, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please!

Posts: 1575 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
That's some pretty good advice Chris. I wish someone would have said to me "you know, a little therapy would go mighty well along side some meditation" --- probably would have shaved decades off of my attempts at awakening.
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please!

Posts: 3997 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I was sooo trying to avoid using the "T" word  emoticon
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Brandon Dayton, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please!

Posts: 480 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I would love to see some sort of modern best practices emerge for preliminaries to meditation. There is the seeming paradox that keeps coming up: many people drawn to mediate (myself included) are drawn to it because of some sort of depression, anxiety or some other form of mental distress, but the mental disposition that draws them to practice also increase the risks. 

My current stance is that I think meditation is a good destination for some people wanting to resolve mental distress, but they just need the appropriate mental preparation before they begin and the right support and guidance during the practice.

Just fantasizing, but it would be great if the cultural funnel of meditation led people through some sort of careful evaluation that could determine preliminary practices (like therapy) before starting. I think the Tibetas are at least partially on the right track, maybe we just need an updated version that fits our contemporary culture.

In my own experience I believe hundreds of hours therapy (particularly relationship therapy in my case) hepled to make me ready for the A&P and it has certainly helped to smooth out the DN.
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please!

Posts: 3997 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Looks like DSS has deleted all their comments.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please!

Posts: 480 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I noticed that. Good stuff here anyway.
agnostic, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please!

Posts: 1893 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi DSS,

You should defer to the advice of others on therapy and medication, but I'll give you my experience with depression FWIW. I'm a narcissist and I went into therapy aged 30 to deal with unsustainable addictions. First therapy for 2-3 years was a real revelation and I made significant improvements and felt like I really understood where my behavior was coming from. Ironically I was them plunged into a 10 year period of major depressions which seemed to be triggered by various external circumstances (job loss, emigration, having kids (wonderful that they are)). I probably suffered about 3 major depressions lasting 2-3 years each. I kept trying therapy but with diminishing returns. I felt like I understood my issues but was powerless to stop them. Even more constructive methods like CBT didn't work for long. I was on and off Prozac as well and while it may have helped a bit to numb me out, it wasn't a permanent solution.

Eventually 2 years ago I hit the worst depression yet and was 50:50 live or die with a lot of suicidal ideation. I remember one morning having a strong sense of thinking "this is going to be the day" and preparing a method. I wasn't really serious about doing it immediately, but I wanted the reassurance of knowing there was a way out if I needed, plus I was getting satisfaction from imagining the shock and pain of those who I felt (largely unjustifiably) had mistreated me. I was strangely excited but also scaring myself, plus I just knew it wasn't the right thing to do for my family. Basically I had hit rock bottom and that's actually a pretty good place to be if you can wait another day because there's only one direction you can go emoticon 

If I was honest, the rational part of my brain knew I was also being a selfish idiot. Even if my life hadn't lived up to my absurdly high expectations, my external conditions were still pretty good compared with a lot of people who seemed to accept their lot more graciously. I remember thinking how absurd it was having all the comforts of modern life and having to pay a stranger $100 an hour to listen to my supposed problems. I also remember having a vague sense, even at my lowest points, that somehow depression was a self-imposed choice. You know that feeling when you first wake up and you don't feel depressed yet and you wonder "am I still depressed?" and then you "remember" to out on the heavy black jacket of depression and drag yourself out of bed for yet another day of feeling sorry for yourself?

I had had enough, so I just decided to go cold turkey on medication and therapy. If I was going to be depressed then let me really do it properly and sit there and actually study it and really get to the bottom of it. You know, really let myself go the whole hog and give myself an hour or two to really feel as fucking depressed as I needed to be without having to talk to someone else about it or cloud my mind with drugs. Well the surprising thing I discovered almost immediately is that DEPRESSION IS NOT A FEELING. Anger is a feeling and sadness is a feeling, but there’s no clearly identifiable feeling you can call depression. For me it was anger that was the strongest feeling. I mean I was just blown away by the strength of my feelings of anger and I could see that depression was just my way of hiding this unacceptable level of anger from myself.

From that point on my depression started to lift. After a couple of months I discovered MCTB and started going through insight cycles and experiencing “mini depressions” which lasted 2-3 weeks. It was pretty incredible to see 2-3 year life killing depressions getting condensed down to 2-3 week cycles and then 2-3 days and pretty soon going through the whole thing in a single sit.

I know it’s not good advice to tell people experiencing serious depression that they are “just going through the Dark Night”. Obviously a lot of people have worse depression than me and medication and therapy and lifestyle are all very important at certain times, but for me depression is fundamentally AN ERROR OF THINKING (even if that cognitive error has knock-on mental and physical effects):- "I'm a bad person, I'm a failure, my life should be better than this." etc. Once you’ve been through enough therapy and tried medication and are still depressed then you basically have a choice – piss the rest of your life away in this pointless exercise of mental masturbation, or use your natural intelligence and common sense to figure out what’s really going on. The mind is a poweful machine and when it turns on itself it can get ugly, but amazingly it can also figure its own way out of its mess.

I don’t know if it appeals to you, but it also helped me to think about the role of things like depression and mental illness in a wider socio-economic context. I’m not saying there aren’t people who are in life-threatening situations and need immediate help, but in a broader sense society has a tendency to become stratified into the strong vs the weak, the mentally healthy vs the mentally ill, due do its inherent competitive streak. When you look at a lot of outwardly successful people you can see that they suffer from many of the same problems, but they have just internalized them in a more socio-economically productive way. It’s not your fault, a lot of how external conditions turn out is pretty random even if your world is also mind-created on a deeper level.

I’m sorry you have suffered from depression for so long and I really hope you can get to the bottom of it with whatever combination of therapy, medication and meditation works best for you.

Best wishes
George
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Chris Marti, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Advice please!

Posts: 3997 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
DSS, self-diagnosis isn't something I would be doing in your self-described situation. When I got into places during meditation early in my practice that I was not familiar with, and that scared me, I sought a teacher who knew the territory and could guide me through from personal experience. Dark night is not depression, nor is depression dark night. Just a word of caution from someone who's been there, too.

And again, peace to you.