RE: Increasing Volatility of Mind

Jim, modified 1 Month ago.

Increasing Volatility of Mind

Posts: 6 Join Date: 5/24/20 Recent Posts
Hi guys, This is my first post here but I have been lurking for a while and its been a great resource so far. So I came across this in ‘Saints and Psychopaths’ in chapter 6:

“I am not aware of any psychological tests that might support this, but the mind becomes more sensitive and changeable with each level of enlightenment It would seem that this is partly a result of being able to let go of a mind state more quickly. If you are able to let go of one mind state, then almost instantly another mind state will arise. If this ability is combined with the ability to consciously perceive processes which were previously unconscious, then the mind becomes more volatile.”

Also:
"Because the mind is more sensitive, there is a greater probability that a mind object will arise which will disrupt the- concentration. A similar phenomenon occurs when in the final phases of equanimity just before the attainment of Nirvana, when new deep areas of unconscious processes are encountered.”

Now I have been going through this for a while now. In my practice, it is a succession of mind states coming up, usually very subtle sort of state-like contractions, realizing that and letting it go. Eventually getting to a point where there seems to be no state or watcher until that is very quickly disturbed by another mind state or object. When this first started happening, when the disrupting object or state arose, it would bring a shit ton of anxiety. I started taking noting very seriously, to really figure out how the processes of the mind appear as sensations in the head and elsewhere. But also leaving a lot of room for a more open, spacious approach where I just stayed with whatever arose and passed. Then I think I got what might have been 3rd path, but I am not fully sure. Some things changed that line up with Daniel’s criteria but others not so much. 

This volatility actually happens no matter what stage I am at and its greatly affecting my daily life as well, making it difficult to focus on my studies. I also had some mild OCD symptoms prior to when I first started practice, nothing serious, but now this volatility led to its exacerbation.

It isn’t related to any of the nanas, although some of them do tend to exaggerate this.  At this point, my practice is basically just being with what comes, just bare attention to the whole field, sometime the mind will go in solid concentrations states or try to “investigate”. This approach seems to have made the anxiety that came with the disrupting object better, as the separation between the object and feeling is becoming clearer. So my attitude towards this volatility is improving, yet it still is so sticky, and the unsticking is so friggin slow.

As also mentioned by Bill in the 2nd passage, Nirvana is harder to reach because it is easily disrupted in equanimity, although now even staying in equanimity is very short. Before what I think was 3rd path, I was reaching fruitions a lot each day, now it's like the mind stops short just before it is about to and so less frequent fruitions.

I have not seen this volatility mentioned anywhere before on DHO, or perhaps I just missed it. So advice or comments?

EDIT: 
 I guess what I really wanted to find out is whether this is a common occurence as Bill says it is. Because if the associated anxiety or compulsive thoughts is not a product of attaining insights, then it could just be a regular ol’ mental disorder for which I would seek psychiatric help. Also, perhaps knowing that this is something that others have gone through might make it easier to accept it and motivate me.

Thank you.
agnostic, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Increasing Volatility of Mind

Posts: 1228 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It sounds like you have an expectation that the volatility has to "unstick" or "improve" before the next level of realization can be reached. Try looking at it from the opposite perspective - all experiences (even very subtle mind states) are inherently volatile or impermanent - they arise for a while before passing away, never quite proving satisfactory. What if the next level of realization involved accepting this rather than trying to fix it?
Jim, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Increasing Volatility of Mind

Posts: 6 Join Date: 5/24/20 Recent Posts
Thanks Agnostic. Yep, I am aware of the expectation to fix it and have begun to catch myself in the act of trying to make it unstick. I should have been more honest with the intention of my post. I guess what I really wanted to find out is whether this is a common occurence as Bill says it is. Because if the associated anxiety or compulsive thoughts is not a product of attaining insights, then it could just be a regular ol’ mental disorder for which I would seek psychiatric help. Also, perhaps knowing that this is something that others have gone through might make it easier to accept it and motivate me.
agnostic, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Increasing Volatility of Mind

Posts: 1228 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
You should definitely seek psychiatric help if anxiety or compulsive thoughts are a serious concern. But beyond this there will always be a certain amount of tension due to the impermanence of experience if one wants it to be otherwise. I think this is fairly common and is present in classical awakening accounts where one emerge from jhana before reflecting upon its ultimate unsatisfactoriness. I can't really speak to what Bill is saying, but in my experience nibbana arises upon releasing the craving for one's experience to be any different from the way it is *right now*, with all its volatile imperfection.
Jim, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Increasing Volatility of Mind

Posts: 6 Join Date: 5/24/20 Recent Posts
Oh my god. Every single moment of my experience is unsatisfying. And all this time I was trying to pick and choose.
agnostic, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Increasing Volatility of Mind

Posts: 1228 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
That's the spirit! emoticon
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Increasing Volatility of Mind

Posts: 1488 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I would say it's common to have a whole new appreciation of the volitility of urges and emotions with advancing practice. Yeah, sometimes is sucks and turns into volitile thoughts, too.

I would say the main question is whether you are able to work with this new situtation? Like everything in meditation, we need to make contact with dukka before it gets fixed and often just placing awareness on how things are is enough to slowly get us to drop what isn't helpful. (In other words the old advice, "can you be with this experience?")  But if that isn't happening, then we need some framework for working incrementally with these experiences.

That framework could be various modes of therapy or could be various modes of practice. I found that the 6 realms and 5 element practices in Ken McLeod's "Wake Up To Your Life" book (which is a summary of the various practices done on a tibetian three year retreat) was directly relevant to the very quick arisings of urges and emotions (5 elements) and the stagnant worldviews that sometimes get formed as instinctual defences to the volitility (6 realms). 

So if your situation isn't desperate, it might be worth checking out those practice. If you are really have trouble, then therapy is probably a good idea.
Jim, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Increasing Volatility of Mind

Posts: 6 Join Date: 5/24/20 Recent Posts
As my practice went on, I found that placing awareness directly and willfully on things just made it worse, because behind it was an intention to manipulate the experience or to drop it because I didn't want it there. Over time, it became harder to relate to awareness as it became increasingly elusive. Right now, I am trying to just be with whatever experience. There is still this sense of awareness, but its mostly doing its own thing. Will def check out that book. Although there is dysfunction, I have been able to relatively keep it together, and I guess I will give it some more time for this thing to unfold. Thanks.

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