Louis "LJ"'s practice log

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L J, modified 3 Months ago.

Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 133 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Hi all, you probably all know me from my previous practice logs or my "what technique to use after mental breakdown?" thread. I want to thank you all for your amazing support, I dont know what I would do without my second family here on dharma overground. Things are still very tough for me. Covered in guilt and scenarios from the past. Thoughts of how can I continue with my life after these past actions and so on. Trying to figure out exactly what I did wrong or what I didn't do. Basically a shit show. I have come to realise that I hate seeing myself happy. I am super hard on myself when I do anything remotely wrong because of my childhood experience with my abusive father, so I think I am subconciously scared of becoming like that and therefore am super hard on myself when I do anything even slightly wrong, even things that other people have said are no big deal I blow out of proportion and torture myself for. However I am going to make the concious effort by writing this post to stop this cycle once and for all. I want to allow myself to be happy, spread love to myself and most importantly forgive myself for the shitty things I may have done in the past, rather than searching continuously for exactly what happened to give myself some sort of reassurance. Even if I murdered someone (which I didn't lol) I can't make any changes to that and have to forgive myself so I can move forward for the benefit of all sentient beings. I haven't practiced in over a week so I am going to slowly build up like I would coming back to the gym. I plan to do 20 minutes of freestyle noting aloud and then 10 minutes of metta towards myself maybe twice a day just to get my toes wet again and then I will work back up. I will recall back here what the battlefield has to offer for me after each day of manual labour in the trenches. Sam, George, Papa Che, and anyone else willing to chime in, I am calling out for your support like a lost civilian needing batman. I am going to get through this and I love you all so much for helping me so far. Let the battle of attention, appreciation, and acceptance begin. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2169 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I wish you all best Louis! 

Look at this as a long distance journey up the hill emoticon Coukd be short, but it also could be long. We do not know.

Endurance, breathing, relaxing, steady noting but no rushing. Im not trying to get out of this moment. Instead I soak fully without resistance in this moment. I welcome it with a humble smile on my face. One experience at a time. Be it an experience of itch, of guilt, of joy ... I look at it and know if it's pleasant, neutral or unpleasant. I look at it and know if it's spacious or contracted, I look at it with genuine curiosity. 

Keep up the talking therapy and do not forget Ingram did offer you to have a chat with him emoticon Talking to him might act motivating! Just saying. Your call of course. 

If I have something to say in your log I will gladly do so.

May your practice be of benefit to you and all other beings! 

p.s. btw, it is good to state an intention before each sit like ; I will now practice 20 minutes noting and 10 minutes Metta to the best of my ability. I will do so to attain to full awakening as fast as humanly possible for the benefit of myself and all other beings. (Then practice) At the end of practice might say "may this be for the benefit of all beings". 

If you so choose. 

​​​​​​​Best wishes! 
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L J, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 133 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Thank you papa che! So day 1 in the trenches is over and I am back for a quick report. Today was hard. Felt very emotional all day long but I am now feeling better as I write this. Practiced 20 minutes of freestyle noting aloud and 10 minutes of metta towards myself and forced myself to keep a smile on my face even when it hurt to do so. I don't care if my mind is telling me I don't deserve happiness! I am going to wish this mind-body ever lasting happiness as if It was someone else. Onwards and forwards...gotta keep in the fight.
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2057 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Great to see you back in the saddle Louis. emoticon

Chronic guilt is probably the hardest issue to work through, but also the most liberating ultimately. It's amazing that you already have this insight that it's not really about what you did or didn't do, rather it's being repeatedly tortured by the internalized voice of the abusive parent. It's a tough process, but somehow it needs to be re-experienced from the child's perspective - the child that had done nothing wrong at all - so that the pain can be fully felt and released without being re-traumatized by the internal guilting critic. No need to rush into it, one day at a time, but when you are ready that book Homecoming by John Bradshaw is a great place to start (and/or Alice Miller's Drama of the Gifted Child).

All the best,
George 
george, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 287 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
Sweet as LJ, good on you for choosing to accept the shit. Acceptance is the way forward. I'm not going to add further instructions but what I will say is, Papa, George S, Sam and Tim have helped me so much over the past several months. How to implement the techniques correctly, encouragement and how to really practice.  Ultimately you have to make your own decisions based on your experience but without them I wouldn't be where I am today. So remember that you will always have support here from us.
On another note, OCD is an illness that comes from some traumatic experience or repeated experiences that probably happened in your childhood. OCD is dealt with the exposure prevention technique. In other words do not crave for your experience to be any other way, even with the intrusive thoughts, acceptance is everything and in fact exposing yourself to the very thing that makes you uncomfortable. With chronic guilt, George S I believe is suggesting inner child work, which is a great idea because you're working through the very emotional impressions that have triggered the OCD. Regardless what it is the best way to deal with all of it is with a therapist, medication and a big dose of humble acceptance. Lift your head up high, onwards and forwards. Lots of love. 
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L J, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 133 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Thank you all for your replies and deep kindness. Today I am swapping from 100mg sertraline to 5mg of escitalopram which is apparently very new and good for ocd. I will also be talking to my therapist tomorrow more about the exposure and response prevention therapy so things are looking good
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 1345 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Sam, George, Papa Che, and anyone else willing to chime in, I am calling out for your support like a lost civilian needing batman. I am going to get through this and I love you all so much for helping me so far. Let the battle of attention, appreciation, and acceptance begin. 

You have my full support! Look what you did! You got yourself back in the saddle. You got on medication, talk therapy, and now you're practicing again. With OCD, I've learned to not pay attention to the intrusive thoughts. They are not real. They are coming from emptiness and the OCD, not you.
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L J, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 133 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Guys I am not doing so well at all. Lots and lots of anxiety. I've been doing some more research about OCD and I have concluded that I have false memory OCD. I have somehow convinced myself that I have done something wrong sexually to my ex girlfriend but there is not even evidence to back this up. I even plucked up the courage to message her and ask if she can think of anything I did wrong and she said not really and that she hopes I feel less guilty soon and she's glad I'm getting help for this which I am. I am working with a therapist and doing some exposure and response prevention. Even though I have had this reassurance from her I am still plagued by scenarios playing over and over in my head. I am drenched in guilt and bad anxiety for most of the day and I feel like I don't even deserve help or happiness anymore. This sucks so bad. Like I said I had a very abusive childhood with sexual abuse too, so maybe there is a link there. I got switched from 100mg sertraline to 5mg of escitalopram and am supposed to be moving up to 10mg next week but I am scared to. I feel as if medication isn't completely necessary to overcome OCD and I don't even feel depressed. Just extremely anxious and covered in shame and guilt. I haven't practiced in a while and I am ashamed of this. Going to try and sit tonight and note out loud to the best of my ability if I can keep the tears in. I love you all hopefully I can make it through this rough time. What do you guys suggest I do?emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2169 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Hang in there LJ! emoticon 

Best is to continue with talking therapy. Meds can help level out the ups and downs. You seem down now so meds can help with that. 

You decide but I would stop practicing Noting for a longer while until getting better psychologicaly. 

Calm-abiding aka Shamatha would be a better choice here. 
"breathing out, relaxing the whole body, breathing in, relaxing the whole body" whatever thoughts, ideas, emotions arise, just let them pass away and you get back to breathing in and out, and knowing it, while relaxing the whole body with each in and outbreathing. 20-30 minutes daily. Up it as you see fit. In case this is impossible even shorter sessions will do. 7-10 minutes spread through the day. 

I used to do toilet meditation at work emoticon 5 minutes Calm-abiding when I felt stress and anxiety arising too much (as a sales man I had stress daily). 

Tell us more about what you think about all of this happening. Do you have any ideas what would be helpful right now? 

Best wishes! 
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L J, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 133 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Thank you so much papa. I will definitely try to maybe do some Shamatha instead of noting. I am so plagued with anxiety right now and also guilt. I am doing therapy but not sure whether I should up the meds. I just feel like crying all day longemoticon also why do you think I should do shamatha over noting? Do you think there will be more benefit from shamatha?emoticon Do you think throw in some metta too? Maybe 20 mins shamatha with 10 mins metta
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Josef C, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 72 Join Date: 6/16/20 Recent Posts
I recommend this book : Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts : a CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts and you can also download it from here ( Just remove the spaces) :  https://    book  4  you   .org/book/3702816/879a54 . For now maybe you can do mindfulness relaxation techniques to make you feel better. That book helped me and it is like  what George advised too and its good. 

My realization when facing OCD is that I shouldnt be too hard on my self whenever I have intrusive thoughts. It is a mental illness and there is nothing wrong being ill. The  intrusive thoughts are just a result of the illness and that it doesnt reflect who I am.  I mean I wouldnt be hard on anyone ill  feeling pain or suffering because they are ill.  Take care LJ. 
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 1345 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Whoa, didn't realize you had skidded a bit. All the advice given above applies. Seek more talking therapy as these experiences are coming from your subcnconciousness. But as a life-long OCD sufferer myself, DON"T BELIEVE THE OCD THOUGHTS. When an intrusive thought comes in that you know to be ocd, say to yourself somethhing like "oh, that's just an ocd thought. They happen because I have OCD. They are not ME." I learned this from a workbook. Much of my distress came because I believed every thought that came through. Say something like the above everytime if you have to, otherwise learn to ignore them.

Take your meds and I;m with Papa Che on this. Calm Abiding or Shamatha for now as a base for Noting in the future. Right now, You need to get calm.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2169 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"also why do you think I should do shamatha over noting? Do you think there will be more benefit from shamatha?"

We all had experiences in our life where the body got too much alcohol emoticon or even too much food and sweets emoticon That experience of feeling utterly sick. So we know that some stuff can indeed cause lots of suffering to this body and this will of course be reflected in the mind. 

So, imagine doing full on Noting with a huge hangover and nausea from a wild Saturday night emoticon I hope you see where I'm going with this emoticon 

When there is lots of stress and anxiety then adding more striving to it (which Noting certainly is) can really be an overload and things might get too much. 

I see it being of benefit to focus on calming the whole body when in such anxiety ridden situation. One is still aware of other sensations, thoughts, emotions passing by but one returns to knowing the in and out breathing and relaxing the whole body with each in and outbreathing. 

When I'm having a bad hangover and feel like utter shit (usually also feel quilty and sorry for stuff I've said or done) I do appreciate hot shower and a head massage which is far from the noting attitude but is more in the body calming camp emoticon 

You give yourself permission to calm into the whole body and enjoy knowing when in breathing and when outbreathing. Give yourself permission that this is enough emoticon 

This calm-abiding will also become a great foundation, strong base for Noting practice in the future. 

Tell us how you feel about this and if you need more pointers. 

I also hope some of our known DhO Cats join in to offer support. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2169 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Let me add; 

"Do you think throw in some metta too? "

I think the Tonglen practice as described by shargrol is far more beneficial than plain Metta sitting there and sending loving kindness (which is also good). 

I have it pasted in my last log in the very first post. 

However I'm not sure if that too might get too overwhelming at this stage. My gut feel sais stick to talking therapy, meds (update the doc about any changes you might feel from the meds), calm-abiding Shamatha, hot daily showers (when depression kicks in I usually give up on taking showers which is a bad idea), get your ars into a park and go for walks, headphone in ears and listen to some stuff you like etc ... 

Maybe simple "may this be of benefit to myself and all other beings" at the start and end of session is enough of Metta for now? 
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2057 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hey Louis, sorry to hear you are going through a really rough patch. Are you able to talk to your therapist about trauma and abuse? It could easily be the original shame which is driving these OCD thoughts. I think it's really important to talk to someone who has experience with this stuff. Hang in there, the way forward will open up for you in time.
george, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 287 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
Hey LJ, stop noting and just do anything else that relaxes you, like papa is saying. This is very important!! I stopped practice altogether for 6months until I got my stuff together, no shame. It's that or risk hurting yourself more. Also doing exposure therapy will make the anxiety worse initially! You have to see/realise that the intrusive thoughts are just that, intrusive. Intrusive thoughts wouldn't be intrusive if they were something you didn't care about! Intrusive thoughts target the very thing that you identify yourself to be and attack that identity. OCD targets things such as. You doubt if you're a good person, you doubt if you're a good catholic, you doubt your sexual orientation. That's the nature of OCD it's got nothing to do with guilt, shame, sexual orientation etc and everything to do with DOUBT. It's a doubting problem here. The trauma is excessive DOUBT. You don't have the confidence (because people have undermined you or were very critical to your every decision) to say yeah I made a mistake in the past with some people but im doing my best to learn to be a better person. 

DO breathing exercises that relax you, metta, run, hit the gym, breathing exercises, relaxing massages, shake your body or wobble it around, hot showers, sex, yummy food, walks in nature.

DONT : Note, it will intensify everything, avoid alcohol & drugs, stressful exercise, anything that stresses the body out physically or mentally. Don't beat yourself up for having to reassure yourself too we all need some momentary relief from time to time, just understand that that's what you're doing and that ultimately you will have to let go of the reassurance. Lots of love LJ 
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L J, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 133 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I would like to drop an update. I am doing quite well. I am working everyday all day to reduce my rumination time, this is any form of reassurance, trying to figure out what I did in my past and what events actually happened or didn't happen, any sort of forgiveness, analysing, etc. I am doing this by tracking on my phone every 3 hours how many minutes I estimate that I have spent ruminating and working hard to reduce day by day. It is difficult due to the chronic guilt and anxiety to just let myself sit with uncertainty, I want to be able to figure out what I did or reassure myself that what I did wasn't that bad, but I see now that this just keeps me locked in OCD for the long term, even if I get short term relief. My OCD came about due to some events that happened with my ex girlfriend, mainly sexually related. She was not very sexually driven whereas I have always been very sexually driven and sometimes when she wasn't in the mood but I was I would be a bit naggy or persistent to have sex with her when she couldn't be bothered. Logically I know that I never had raped her or hurt her or forced her into anything but this is where my OCD came in full force, bringing up images I couldn't quite figure out, making me try to solve things and analyse situations and go over things to figure out what exactly happened over and over and over again and this just made me so so much worse as I couldn't figure out exactly what happened. All of this started 5 months after I ended the relationship! What madness! I see now from this perspective how I have been torturing myself for the last four months or so and I am glad that I have the knowledge I do now to get out of it. I am still doing therapy work and meditating here or there, and I am still on 10mg of escitalopram and feel no need to increase the dose as I feel quite stable. I want to thank you all once again for your kindness and support. I don't even know if I would be living without you guys on here. I love you all so much.
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Siavash ', modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 1401 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
 Glad you are feeling well Louis emoticon .

I'd say, rest assured, if you had done something wrong, people would let you know long ago!
I have this habit too, trying to discover what I have done wrong, while people tell me they are not aware of anything wrong. It's just an unhelpful habit.
 
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 1345 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Yay!! You sound good. We all helped but its YOU that did the work. And with OCD that work is harf. Good going!
george, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 287 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
Wooooooo!!!!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2169 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Best wishes Louis! emoticon 
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L J, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 133 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I need your opinion, especially yours papa! Do I continue with maybe doing 30 mins of ki breathing or should I shift into some noting aloud?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2169 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Hi Louis! 

Im kind of leaning towards suggesting Ki-breathing or Calm-abiding Shamatha. 

If Ki-breathing (Aikido style) then try and do it as described by Sensei Koichi Tohei. 

It's based on Ha-do breathing. I will try and find the description on the net but I have his book at home and used the described practice from it. 

The inbreathing is pointed in your visualization from the nose straight into and through the skull. Not down into the throat and lungs. 
Inbreathing through the nose and slowly breathing in, long. There is this point in the throat where you can regulate how much air can pass. Use that part to squeeze in the inbreathing and outbreathing. 

outbreathing is through the mouth and has the Ha sound but in form of breathing of course. Again slow outbreathing and regulate in the throat how much breath is allowed to come out. Generally we want it to go long. 

After each in and outbreath wait for 2 seconds before continuing. So let's say there is outbreathing Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ... 2 seconds pause ... Inbreathing slowly all the way ... 2 seconds pause ... outbreathing etc ...

When outbreathing imagine your outbreath going into the center of your lower belly (under the belly button). You breathe out slowly and imagine breath going into a smaller and smaller point in the lower belly. This spot is called Tandien in Japanese I believe. 

Before inbreathing always imagine the flow from nose into and trough the skull (through eyes). 

I practiced this sitting on a Seiza bench or kneeling. I did closed eyes to aid visualization better. 30 minutes a day, first thing in the morning. I would just get up and immediately sit down then go to toilet afterwards but you find your way.

At the end of outbreathing lean gently your torso forward and breath out the rest of breath. Wait 2 seconds. Then start inbreathing , and at the end of inbreath straighten the torso again. Wait 2 seconds. etc ... 

Ask if something is unclear. 

It's a very healthy practice and can lead into Jhanas. 
It helped me heal my utter paranoia and panic attacks. But it took several months of daily practice.

In case you are interested in Calm-abiding I can share how I did it. 

​​​​​​​Tell us what you think emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 2169 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Here is the PDF book! Go to page 58 where he describes the way to do Ki-breathing practice (btw, he does mention the devine spirit and spirit of the universal etc ... thats his take on his expereince but the practice is really healthy I find)
https://kupdf.net/download/koichi-tohei-ki-in-daily-life-_59989f9edc0d603431300d18_pdf
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Oatmilk, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Louis "LJ"'s practice log

Posts: 110 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
Hey Luis, I haven't read your entire blog but maybe I can give you some advice since you wrote something about a mental breakdown. 
The Dharma hits people differently and I can tell from experience that it is useful to have a psychological framwork on this path. 
Some people rush this entire thing but they basically have to live with the consequences of doing so for a while, while others need a little bit longer - their progress is a bit slower but I would guess calmer as well. 
From personal experience I think it's advisable to consider therapy or working on attachment before starting out on hardcore Vipassana again. By no means this will make it much more plesant but behavior play's an important role as well. 
If you cannot find a therapist you might want to look into Dan Brown's Ideal Parent Figur Protocol. Attachement simply determines affect regulation and cognition and having both of that stuff right is really beneficial in all aspects of lifeemoticon 

Best, 
O

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