RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Nerdspeak D, modified 23 Days ago.

Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 4 Join Date: 5/24/21 Recent Posts
I have been involved with practice for 11 years, mostly using Shinzen Young's material. It was pleasant for the first few years -- no retreats but many longer 2-4 hour sits, and reached (I think) the A&P several times in the longer sits.

From 2015-2017 I had an extremely difficult time practicing, seemingly out of nowhere, with chronic antsiness and racing thoughts. Partially this was due to career-related stress. 

Towards the end of 2017 I spent a few days doing a solo retreat with strong determination sitting (several 4-hour sits) and was able to get the antsiness and racing thoughts to dissolve into flow and spaciousness in a way that felt like my earlier experiences crossing the A&P but were more profound. 

I slid back horribly and became agitated and distressed for the next year or so. I still kept up daily practice of ~30 mins/day but my experiences were characterized by racing thoughts and agitation. I strained my career and relationship with my partner quite horribly and alienated a lot of friends because the agitation and irritability bled into my daily life.

Then in 2019, after getting my career situation stable again, I did a 10-day retreat with one of Shinzen's groups and again reached the flow/spaciousness point after several days. I felt the momentum for several months afterwards, but also had crazy outbursts of anger that came from nowhere and were triggered by tiny things -- which never happened before, has not happened since, and caused my partner to get fed up and leave.

In 2020 the antsiness, chronic agitation and racing thoughts during practice came back quite badly, and bled into my overall life decisions in a way that might not have been completely positive.  

Earlier this year, I finally broke out of the chronic antsiness by doing some shamanic stuff, plus a remote retreat with Shinzen's group again. Shinzen's teaching map is a lot less detailed than Daniel's or Mahasi's, and in the (extremely brief) conversation with Shinzen about it, he said it was "samaddhi pain" and to keep applying mindfulness and equanimity to it and maybe get body work. 

However, that doesn't really address the impulsiveness and tendency to blow things out of proportion that has been happening as I've kept practicing (and which Daniel describes in his book). That said, riding the momentum of the retreat has gotten me to a more comfortable kind of stage, where I still feel a lot of the agitation but can sit with it. 

Anyway, I am trying to figure out if I am a "chronic dark nighter" as Daniel defines it -- if I am just stuck in this stage -- or if I am just dealing with clinical issues, because that determines what I do next. 

If I am at an earlier jhana then maybe I just get in touch with my body more and face my childhood pain in therapy or something.

If I am really stuck in dark night, then the next step is probably to do a longer retreat (or two, or three) at a center where there is more frequent and longer-form contact with a teacher less in-demand than Shinzen and with more clear mapping, and try to push through it to equanimity and stream entry. 
George S, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 1771 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Have you tried therapy to get an idea where the anger is coming from?
Nerdspeak D, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 4 Join Date: 5/24/21 Recent Posts
George S
Have you tried therapy to get an idea where the anger is coming from?
Yeah. I had somewhat screamy parents and other adverse childhood experiences, but it was something I could mostly get through in about a year of therapy. 

Worth noting also, that the anger outbursts only lasted for 4 months and then completely went away. 
George S, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 1771 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I got some clarity about the source/story of my anger quite quickly in therapy, but it took me a lot longer to become aware how much repressed anger I was still holding unconsciously in my body ... and how that was continuing to drive patterns of seemingly unrelated angry outbursts. I think your idea of getting more in touch with your body and exploring your childhood pain that way is a good one.

​​​​​​​I don't think that labelling it as "chronic dark nighter" is particularly helpful. Maybe it's possible to process everything on a purely sensate level, but I have found doing that in combination with some kind of therapeutic work to be much more effective. 

There are a couple of books I always recommend for adverse childhood stuff, because they helped me a lot (and that was after years of therapy). One is The Drama of This Gifted Child by Alice Miller, which is pretty short. The other is Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw. The Bradshaw book contains some guided meditations to help you connect the storyline with the bodily sensations, which I found to be a very effective way to experience and release powerful anger/shame stuff without getting overwhelmed or having it bleed through too much into daily life. I guess you could say that being clear about the story and how this parent-child stuff works in general was a helpful framework to hold the somatic process.
 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 22 Days ago.

RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 5461 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Therapy can be incredibly helpful with the right conditions, but just like a meditation practice can't replace therapy, therapy can't replace meditation either. No matter where you are on the maps now, the situation doesn't work for you, right? I would meditate the hell out of it, possibly together with therapy. One doesn't preclude the other. 
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Not two, not one, modified 22 Days ago.

RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 908 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
 Something that has worked for me to move quickly through the dark night and into equanimity is this.

1. Visualise a 15 cm tall medicine buddha (pure royal blue seated meditating buddha) floating about 30 cm above your head. Feel the goodwill and healing that radiates from it.  After you appreciate this radiation of goodwill and healing for a while, let the visualised buddha come down to about 6cm about your head.  Again, feel the radiation of goodwill and healing.

2. Once you have fully appreciated the medicine Buddha  6cm above your head, let it drop down through the crown of your head, and then down through your brainstem and into your heart, and then feel it expand inside your body to fill you up completely, so you are the royal blue buddha with just a millimetre of normal skin over the top.

3. Acknowledge and appreciate the positive qualities of the medicine buddha.  Merge with these qualities, without losing yourself in the process.  Radiate goodwill and healing, both outwards and inwards. Then stop paying attention to the medicine buddha, and switch your attention to the goodwiill and healing instead. Enjoy walking around, naturally bolt upright, feeling the path the medicine buddha took from above, down through your crown, into your heart to expand into healing. Keep radiating the same goodwill and healing, but again without losing yourself.

4. Enjoy this, and try not to strive, but be content in equanimity, and happy.

5. Repeat as needed.

Good luck.  Let me know if it works!

Malcolm 

P.S. This is Guru Yoga, but with the best of all Gurus.  :-) 
 
Nerdspeak D, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 4 Join Date: 5/24/21 Recent Posts
I found this quite helpful. I am not sure if it put me into equanimity in the technical sense, but it definitely calmed me down. 
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Pepe ·, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Thanks Malcom, very interesting. Similar but different to things I have practiced in qigong and methods of Ajahn Lee. I'll add it to my practice
Adi Vader, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: Suspect I am in Chronic Dark Night

Posts: 13 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Please see if this post helps you in any way.
https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/kz8xx0/vipassana_working_with_the_dukkha_nanas_and_the/
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