Dissociation and stream entry

J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
Did anyone here struggle with dissociation/depersonalization and still reach stream entry? Just wondering if a disposition for dissociating will stop me from gaining stream entry. Seems to be a thing that's extremely difficult to deal with.

If it is possible to get stream entry with this disposition; after attainment, will the dissociation be vanquished or under much more control or does it not solve this?
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Oatmilk, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 105 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
What's causing the dissociation? Is it trauma? Have you talked to a specialist?
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I'd suggest to not practice any meditation until you have worked on this and even then I'd be careful. 
Streamentry is absolutely not worth it playing with your health and won't fix that problem. 
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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It was triggered in meditation, and have had it on and off for a few months now. Likely related to childhood trauma. Not super severe.
I am in therapy with an psychologist who is also an expert meditator. So no worries, simply wanna know if someone has done it, so I could know if it is even something I could achieve in this life.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Not depersonalization, but dissociation including dissociative seizures. Had them before starting the practice, got rid of them thanks to the practice (with few brief exceptions). On my way to third path now. 

Edited to add: By the way, I can recommend the book Coping with trauma-related dissociation: skills training for patients and therapists by Boon, Steele, and van der Hart. Some really good stuff there. 
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Thank you, that's hopeful!
I'm going to read that book.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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J M M
Did anyone here struggle with dissociation/depersonalization and still reach stream entry? Just wondering if a disposition for dissociating will stop me from gaining stream entry. Seems to be a thing that's extremely difficult to deal with.

If it is possible to get stream entry with this disposition; after attainment, will the dissociation be vanquished or under much more control or does it not solve this?

Stream entry can have different meanings depending on what practice you do so I will avoid using that term.

I don't think dissociation/depersonalization would interfere with awakening. However it might make it harder to recognize awakening. Some people assume awakening means one is perfect or experiences no mental anguish so if they have imperfections, or have awakened but not perfected awakening, they may not believe they are awakened at all.

I wouldn't look to awakening to cure all types of psychological issues. What it should do is to help you with your attitudes to those issues.

As your level of non-attachment increases, your cravings diminish, including cravings for awakening, being perfect, and feeling good all the time.

When psychological issues have strong basis in neurophysiology either genetic, developmental, or acquired in other ways such as trauma, they tend to be persistant, but meditation can still help with secondary effects such as your attitudes to those issues.

As far as I am aware, perfected awakening is very rare.
Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 79 Join Date: 4/6/14 Recent Posts
It was helpful for me to frame insight practice (Mahasi) as the training of getting out of dissociated state, out of absent-mindedness or blindness to some particular experience, which can be momentary micro-dissociation or chronically being out-of-touch. Insight is a moment of awakeness to what is right now. Stream-entry, supposing this is a well-definable thing, is a shift in baseline mindfulness (from zero to something more; this non-zero is the unstoppable stream which propels further development whether you want it or not), so there will be definitely less dissociation from experience and more awakeness, in average.

It can also be awakeness to dissociation/depersonalization, if that's what reality brings up in that moment. That is okay. Dissociation is a mind-state which you learn to identify, acknowledge (note/notice/label/label aloud...) and thus objectify, disembed from it; don't forget about noting the feeling-tone as well, and impulses to react (such as fear, dramatizing, wanting to analyze which trauma it came from, ...) and then let it go, back to the anchor. When it comes again, do that again emoticon It is not something which should not happen in the practice.

I've seen a young person who had life-long depression with frequent derealization/depersonalization experiences in real life (which was quite limited because of that) who did several 2-week vipassana retreats, and practiced successfully. He still struggles with the condition (the depression) and does not practice now, as far as I know, but could do the practice without much issue; he just had to note derealization/depersonalization quite often.

Having a therapist-meditator at hand is very good, he/she can perhaps give better advice how to continue with the practice. Intense retreat can be very helpful, but do it with a teacher you trust and knows about your condition. Meditation can bring up stuff but can also be tremendously healing.
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Oatmilk, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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It was helpful for me to frame insight practice (Mahasi) as the training of getting out of dissociated state, out of absent-mindedness or blindness to some particular experience, which can be momentary micro-dissociation or chronically being out-of-touch. Insight is a moment of awakeness to what is right now. Stream-entry, supposing this is a well-definable thing, is a shift in baseline mindfulness (from zero to something more; this non-zero is the unstoppable stream which propels further development whether you want it or not), so there will be definitely less dissociation from experience and more awakeness, in average.
I am sorry but exactly that kind of advertisment is the reason why people struggle on a certain point. Suffering means suffering, no matter how much it is not you. An unplesant experience stay's unplesant. Just because you are able to sit with it does not mean that you feel in any way good about it, or that it is functional. You won't be able to look beyond your current "mind-state." 
Dissociation is a mind-state which you learn to identify, acknowledge (note/notice/label/label aloud...) and thus objectify, disembed from it; don't forget about noting the feeling-tone as well, and impulses to react (such as fear, dramatizing, wanting to analyze which trauma it came from, ...) and then let it go, back to the anchor. When it comes again, do that again emoticon It is not something which should not happen in the practice.

Without wanting to pathologize it but dissociation is a "disorder" and not a mind state.
Intense retreat can be very helpful, but do it with a teacher you trust and knows about your condition.

This advice is harmful. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Oatmilk
​​​​​​​Without wanting to pathologize it but dissociation is a "disorder" and not a mind state.

At one point during my first depersonalization episode I thought I was having a psychotic break and might have to call for "professional help". That could easily have been categorized as a "disorder" and introduced other complications. Fortunately I held off and was able to ground myself. In retrospect I think it was a strong reaction to not-self insights (result of intense practice) combined with personal conditioning which led me to being insufficiently grounded in my own body. The line between "disorder" and "challenging mental state" might not be as clear as we would sometimes like to imagine.
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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George S
At one point during my first depersonalization episode I thought I was having a psychotic break and might have to call for "professional help". That could easily have been categorized as a "disorder" and introduced other complications. Fortunately I held off and was able to ground myself.

Good!
It is not an issue that requires 'professional help' until you are send there by other people.
And people do not care what you experience until it doesn't affect them. One should not make others be bothered by own internal bullshit, especially self inflicted by meditation.

In retrospect I think it was a strong reaction to not-self insights (result of intense practice) combined with personal conditioning which led me to being insufficiently grounded in my own body. The line between "disorder" and "challenging mental state" might not be as clear as we would sometimes like to imagine.

Brain can work in many different ways, the so called mind states. These mind states are usually caused by using new parts which previously were not used and/or not in this way.
It can take quite some time and practice for it to learn how to do some mind states. Even if mind state is in the end much better it might have at the beginning a lot of issues like also amount of usable connections... which is pretty much the same thing you said stated differently emoticon
Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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These are delicate things and deserve careful wording. I am sorry to not see that in your reply: labeling paragraph starting "It was helpful for me" as "advertising", or "Intense retreat can be very helpful" as "advice" is not conductive to fruitful discussion of the (important) topics you raise.
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Oatmilk, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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I am sorry, with "advertising" I meant the mindfulness movement and certain things people project on these "attainments." 

While I agree with George that the line is small between awakening and mental health problems, I would still advise anyone who struggles with dissociaten to abstain from meditation, especially if it's prolonged and a constant theme. 
If meditation causes dissociation than it's not a wise response to just "push through" it but rather stay away from practice until things have settled. 
Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 79 Join Date: 4/6/14 Recent Posts
I am sorry, with "advertising" I meant the mindfulness movement and certain things people project on these "attainments." 
Understood, you care about not creating unrealistic expectations; and I agree with that. Thanks for clarification, bro emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 5878 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I've got to say that I'm very glad that I didn't stay away from meditation, as Oatmilk here suggests that I should have. Conditions differ, of course, but for me it was the best thing I could do. It made my life so much more worth living and it made me so much healthier, both mentally and physically, and it makes me more present, more compassionate, and much less reactive. Sure, meditation can be destabilizing, and I agree that the mindfulness movement tends to keep quiet about the risks, which is very problematic, but I read MCTB2 and was well informed. Being a relatively mature grown-up person with great self-knowledge, I was capable of making my own informed decisions. It's not like all people with mental health issues are bound to crack up due to meditation. I freak out much less than the average, it seems. Nothing that has happened in meditation has even come close to what I have already gone through in life in terms of triggering - and I have had a lot of weird stuff happen in meditation. I just happen to love it. So don't go around deciding what is best for others. 

Having said that, I agree that when the dissociation is triggered by meditation itself, then it's important to be gentle with oneself and make sure that the self is strengthened before it's taken apart, so that one is able to trust that it will continue to be there as needed (as I have already written below). 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Actually even habitual actions that people do so automatically that they can't remember if they did them are the same mechanism as dissociation, so if we insist that it's always a didorder, then it's the disorder of normality.
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
Interesting. I wrote below how I have a lot of "micro-dissociations" throughout the day. Maybe part of it is that I have simply become more aware of how unaware normal life is.
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
Eudoxos .:
It was helpful for me to frame insight practice (Mahasi) as the training of getting out of dissociated state, out of absent-mindedness or blindness to some particular experience, which can be momentary micro-dissociation or chronically being out-of-touch. Insight is a moment of awakeness to what is right now. Stream-entry, supposing this is a well-definable thing, is a shift in baseline mindfulness (from zero to something more; this non-zero is the unstoppable stream which propels further development whether you want it or not), so there will be definitely less dissociation from experience and more awakeness, in average. It can also be awakeness to dissociation/depersonalization, if that's what reality brings up in that moment. That is okay. Dissociation is a mind-state which you learn to identify, acknowledge (note/notice/label/label aloud...) and thus objectify, disembed from it; don't forget about noting the feeling-tone as well, and impulses to react (such as fear, dramatizing, wanting to analyze which trauma it came from, ...) and then let it go, back to the anchor. When it comes again, do that again emoticon It is not something which should not happen in the practice. I've seen a young person who had life-long depression with frequent derealization/depersonalization experiences in real life (which was quite limited because of that) who did several 2-week vipassana retreats, and practiced successfully. He still struggles with the condition (the depression) and does not practice now, as far as I know, but could do the practice without much issue; he just had to note derealization/depersonalization quite often. Having a therapist-meditator at hand is very good, he/she can perhaps give better advice how to continue with the practice. Intense retreat can be very helpful, but do it with a teacher you trust and knows about your condition. Meditation can bring up stuff but can also be tremendously healing.


Having read MCTB2 I am interested in doing a Mahasi insight retreat, but I am actually scared of doing it. I feel it might be too much too soon. I also have no idea how I would go about framing the insight practice as a way out of dissociation. Because it seems that nowaydays the dissociation gets triggered exactly with Insight. It seems like I get glimpses of no-self, and then get scared, but so subly scared that I hardly notice it creeping in until it's too late. Samatha/jhana on the other hand, seems to be mostly without dissociation. I say mostly, because, like I said, the dissociation starts so subtly, that sometimes I sit for an hour, and only when I get up I realize that something is a bit off. Then I get scared of that, and it goes downhill from there. (Even reading about it, or writing this, I feel it coming on stronger again.)

So these are my two main problems:
- dissociation starts too sublty to identify in time. I would hate to be reinforcing this undesirable behavior hours on end. Also, trying to get better at identifying it quicker seems to be counter-productive, as to get in Jhana I need a lot of trust that it will happen, not paranoia that something might be going wrong.
- dissociation, in my experience, is not simply a mindstate that I can note, or observe, or create space around. It seems to be a mindstate that makes exactly these things impossible. My muscles contract, I close off from the world, I start staring, and become a bit rigid, and have very little control over my mind. And even if I would note it, wouldn't this still reinforce it? How I deal with it now is by indulging in every desire, like food, sex and entertainment. Seems to be the quickest way out.

Another problem is when I need to sleep. If I am in a dissociative state, it will pull me down, like a sensation in the head that pulls me away, makes me dizzy and light. I will become very aware of my body on the matress, and hear my breathing very loud and clear. It's quite scary, and I am afraid to let it happen. Mostly because, again, I don't want to reinforce this. But if I don't let it happen, this means I have to fight it all night and skip sleep.

I have also noticed that I do a lot of these micro-dissociations throughout the day. Sometimes as obvious as looking away from something; but other times it's more of a mental closing off, combined with staring. These I think I know how to deal with. Though with the frequency I do it, it gets very tedious for sure!

Thanks for your answer! It was helpful.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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The sensory experiences you describe in relation to going to sleep sound very much like something that often happens to me, but the diffrence is that I love it. I wonder if it would be possible for you to very gently and slowly reframe your experiences a bit? What is it about them that is scary? What are you afraid will happen? Is there any pain involved? Is there something in it that feels okay? Personally I have found that resistance is what makes it dissociation, and that there's nothing there that actually needs to be resisted. I can't say for sure that it's true for everyone, but it was for me. And for George S, to whom I shared my experiences, for that matter. 

My guess would be that you are having some kind of nondual absorptions. If that freaks you out at first, you wouldn't be the first one. Letting go of one's sense of a separate self can be tough, especially if it felt fragile to begin with. You might need to build up enough trust that your ego mechanisms won't go away. They won't. Insight will let you see through them, but they will still be there. Maybe you should discuss this with your therapist. S/he might be able to find ways to help you strengthen your sense of self. It could be a good idea to do that kind of work before you embark on journey to deconstruct it. 

I think what I would do would be to try to just very deeply relax and let your body "unclench", not by willpower but gently and gradually. There's a lot for you to integrate. No need to push anything. 
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
Thanks for sharing that. What is it about them that is scary:
I actually wrote what was scary about them in my post, then scrapped it because I didn't want to jynx myself. But ok, here goes: if I give up control in that moment when I feel that pull, I am afraid of being possessed by demons; I am afraid of ghosts; I am afraid of hallucinations; I am afraid of the dark; etc.

I don't even know why. It just seems that I am irrationally scared nowadays.

This is also how my first dissociation was triggered: I was trying to get in a jhana-like state, but somehow I remembered a story from someone on the internet who frequently had sleep paralysis and vivid hallucinations of a scary man standing next to his bed in the morning and he couldn't move his body. I then went on to jynx myself thinking that a scary man would appear next to my bed on the moment I would shift consciousness. Somehow I still managed to shift. No man appeared, of course, but I was super scared nonetheless, breathing heavily, eyes flickering, energy running up the spine.

Please, for my this night's sleep sake, be careful what you reply lolol. But I mean it.

The other thing that scares me, is simply the vividness and closeness with which I feel the matress and hear my breathing. I don't know why this scares me, simply that it does.

I definitely need to find a way to reframe it, or stop resisting it. It's easier said then done. It is encouraging though, when you say that it's only resistance that makes it bad.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Oh okay. It just didn't occur to me to be afraid of possession or anything like that. I have had many different kinds of altered states and nothing bad has ever happened in them. I got into it with the approach "hey, it's all in my mind - how bad can it be?". 

I'm probably a weird animal, though, because I didn't fear the disocciative seizures either. They felt like a restart of the system that cleared away negative loops with a strong emotional charge. I just don't need that defense mechanism anymore as meditation is more effective and much kinder to the bodymind. 

Fear makes things worse than they are. Build trust slowly, gently and gradually. Don't push it. 
Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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There is a lot of insight in what you write. You see the fear around that state of dissociation, perhaps also fascination, this kind of watching if it comes already, expectations, analyzing. What is actually worse, the dissociation, or the fear/panic around it?

If you are in that state already, and would like to be mindful, gently note what is happening. You can also try noting alound, in neutral tone: "there is fear", "there is tension" and such. Include the dislike for it ("there is dislike"), the fear/panic; and always after noting a few things become aware of the body (standing/sitting/laying/walking), perhaps tense around stomach, however it manifests physically, something. Don't stay just spinning in the mind. Don't try to solve anything. And no, it won't become pleasant because you are mindful of it. The more we try to control what is happening right now, the more suffering we have; because it changes by itself, anyway.

It is also okay to consciously decide to switch off and indulge, as you already do.

Regarding retreats, for clarification: I did not mean to suggest that you should do one. You know better for yourself.

Things I know various people recommended off-retreat for these kind of things otherwise: loving-kindness meditation, grounding in body awareness (easy, no strong concentration or pushing anything; like gardening, walks in nature; also bodywork e.g. light yoga, jogging, ...), merit-making (social work or similar, to become less centered on one's own suffering).

The micro-dissociations are very normal, I'd say for everybody: oh, so unmindful we are! And of course we would like to be perfect, right? Right? ;)
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Eudoxos .

The micro-dissociations are very normal, I'd say for everybody: oh, so unmindful we are! And of course we would like to be perfect, right? Right? ;)


Haha right, it's like you know me! Thanks for all the advice. Will try these things out.
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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You are not scared of no-self, no one ever is. Just like no one has any issue with their sense of self. And I mean 'no one' not in the sense there is no self but that all these thoughts you have to describe reality have nothing to do with issue(s) you have and when you do not experience this issue you will accept anything that happens, any mind state no matter how wild it is.

In mind states you experience part of your nervous system gets overloaded and this triggers panic attacks. Reaction to preoccupy yourself distractions is correct in this case. You could not act any other more skillful way even if you wanted to. Your nervous system need to reconfigure itself to switch active pathways before they get tired and the best after only one use. If the damage is already done then utmost priority is to shift activity elsewhere.

Sense of self accomplish some kind of switching, it is exactly the part of brain responsible for it. It is not very good at it without specifically training it for it and we humans misunderstood what it was for and made silly assumptions and as a result completely break it. Now the whole no-self mind is when self doesn't work like what you made it work in all these years you are alive but if that is not working at all then you get unpleasant experiences you describe.

There are many ways to accomplish improvement in how your brain works including those which give you absolutely no real insight in to what is the issue and what it means to resolve it.

More practical advice than explaining what is the issue is to answer unasked question if you should push forward in to this what feel going insane, this dissociation: if you push it then in can go in either of two ways, your nervous system figures out how to switch its parts and you will have sudden improvement (which you will call path or something) or it won't and something will get really broken inside. In this second case if you won't start panicking and go to therapy or other bullshit you will just experience strange things for few years and eventually fix yourself or you can panic and become truly damaged. Best advice thus is to not push too hard at one time. Give yourself breaks. Often when your nervous system experiences stress of mind states it doesn't know how to handle it is enough to give it time and then after some time go back to these mind states to find that something changed in them, often for the better. You will feel when that time is.

Patience is the virtue.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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I had some DPDR episodes during third path, related to relatively mild emotional trauma. Inner child work and learning to feel my emotions directly in my body seem to have cleared it up mostly. It might not stand in the way, but stream entry is not a panacea. The further you go down the path of insight, the more you will be forced to confront this stuff directly.
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Thanks! Helpful.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 2019 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
The first time it hit, I woke up an hour after falling asleep and my sense of self was completely gone. I couldn't remember who I was or anything about myself, it was as if my entire personality had just been deleted. This lasted for about an hour and I slowly got grounded by talking to my wife (who fortunately is a very stable person). The next day was very trippy, high anxiety and only a faint sense of my former self. I had to take my kids to a birthday party and I was anxious about all the social interaction, but after a while I noticed that I seemed to be able to do everything just fine and have conversations etc. I remember thinking ‘this is just crazy, I can hardly remember who I am and yet here we are having a perfectly normal conversation and they can’t even notice’. At that point I relaxed and the whole experience became quite enjoyable, even blissful at times. This lasted for a day or two. I can’t remember if it was after the first one episode or a subsequent one, but I was lucky enough to have a copy of Suzanne Segal’s Collision With The Infinite on hand. I read it in one sitting and recognized a lot of the same elements, although her case was much more dramatic. I think what Linda says is spot on, as well as the other comments about grounding yourself. For me it’s been a process of transferring my sense of self out of my head (thoughts about who I am) and into my body (direct experience of the other senses unmediated by thought (thoughts obviously still occur but are not nearly as important relative to the other senses as they once were)).

 
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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The first time it hit, I woke up an hour after falling asleep and my sense of self was completely gone. I couldn't remember who I was or anything about myself, it was as if my entire personality had just been deleted.
Eventhough you say this experience was blissful at times, it still sounds like a very confusing thing to have happen to you!
It's good to now that these things do happen though. Will help me stay calm I hope. On the other hand, it also makes me wonder if high level meditation isn't simply dangerous/too risky! In any case, thanks for sharing!

For me it’s been a process of transferring my sense of self out of my head (thoughts about who I am) and into my body (direct experience of the other senses unmediated by thought (thoughts obviously still occur but are not nearly as important relative to the other senses as they once were)).
I am working on exactly this with my therapist. Some days I really feel I'm getting the hang of this. (Feeling pretty sharp and grounded today, btw. Think this thread helped with that.)
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Eventhough you say this experience was blissful at times, it still sounds like a very confusing thing to have happen to you!
It's good to now that these things do happen though. Will help me stay calm I hope. On the other hand, it also makes me wonder if high level meditation isn't simply dangerous/too risky!

Well here's the interesting thing ... it's not something that happened to me, I am something that happens to it! It's seeing things the way they really are (not-self), it's just that if you've spent most of your life tightly identified with a sense of self in the head (thoughts, centre of awareness) then it is temporarily uncomortable. I'm used to it now and it's the other way round - experience is generally quite pleasant ... unless I'm thinking about myself and up in the head, in which case I quickly notice how unpleasant it is and drop back down into the body!

For the trauma/inner child work I found the books Homecoming by John Bradshaw and Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller very helpful in understanding how this kind of stuff develops and how to go back and release it. For learning to experience emotions & psychological stuff directly in the body, Gendlin's focussing method is very effective.  
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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- Do you mean that this depersonalization episode was not an episode but is your new baseline experience now?
- 'Dropping back down into the body' –– when I am working on this I have had two different kinds of experiences: 1) a sense of being really low in the chair that I am sitting on, something like the feeling of stepping into a really low sports car, a sens of having lost an inch or two in body height, feeling very confident and courageous as I let all emotions and sensations pass through the body without closing off from them or reverting to thought, generally feeling extremely grounded like I never felt before; and in some rarer cases of this (happened twice), even seeing the world as if I am seeing it for the first time, as if this was the first time I really was somewhere, quite spectacular yet extremely banal; 2) my sense of self literally dropping to the belly area, like normally my self is somewhere between my eyes, but that time it literally dropped down. It was as if my head was above myself, as if I would have to look up to see my head. I only got this experience once, and it also included having my awareness/feeling expanding from the gut very far out into space around me, lasted a short while before I went into some weird altered state where my body was gone, which also lasted only a short while as I got too excited and lost it. Does any of these experiences have anything to do with what you experience?
- The Alice Miller book was on my reading list already, will add the other book as well. Never heard of the foccusing method, will look into it.
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Human males have very head-centric experience of sense of self.
Even when they move it elsewhere it is all concentrated in one spot. Even if it is whole body it is one spot of the whole body.
Even after their supposed 4th path it is still one spot!

It is actually visible, somehow even immediately and this impression if you will seems to be as far as I can tell pretty accurate.
There are different configurations to try though when optimizing them it all always converges to how we were naturally. Do not get me wrong, things change a lot but in the end a lot of how we are is already optimal for us so in the end it is always reflected in what we end up with.

I mention it to maybe seed an idea to try something more different. All it takes is to observe people, figure out how they do their mind to have idea what might be possible. This also include observing all the arhats. The more it is seen as normal option to choose from than some big challenge which needs to be attained the more chance person has to actually attain something significant... and the less awesome their attainment becomes. Like right off the bat most why there was improvement is obvious was caused by terrible initial configuration. Many people have better minds without doing anything than some arhats claim to have after years of retreats. Yet if you let your perception of these things flourish and have enough experience in practicing being flexible in these things you can pin point exactly the details which make it for them and incorporate them. Best not clinging to them but actually if you do not fall for illusion it was so much work to attain these things the easier is to not cling to them. Especially since there is a lot of references and in the end you will pick your own, ones which are in accordance with your own nature.
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta, thank you for your contributions; from reading your posts it seems that you have an exceptionally clear and analytical understanding of the human mind, though I must admit that your language is at times quite impenetrable for me. Which is why I hadn't responded before now, but was instead re-reading.

I'm interested to understand better the quotes below:


It is actually visible, somehow even immediately and this impression if you will seems to be as far as I can tell pretty accurate.
You mean that you can see from the body language of a person where his sense of self is?
I mention it to maybe seed an idea to try something more different. All it takes is to observe people, figure out how they do their mind to have idea what might be possible. This also include observing all the arhats
So basically, instead of having a framework of progress wherein meditation supposedly inevitably leads to the mindstate called enlightenement, you propose that there is no one inevitable outcome, but that instead we should/could go shopping for any mindstate we think would suit us? Also, how do i figure out "how they do their mind"?
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 761 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
 
Ni Nurta, thank you for your contributions; from reading your posts it seems that you have an exceptionally clear and analytical understanding of the human mind, though I must admit that your language is at times quite impenetrable for me. Which is why I hadn't responded before now, but was instead re-reading.
Unfortunately the way human mind works is that despite missing hole in knowledge will always be driving mind to fill it one could always make lack of knowledge the issue with understanding a person and their words and not issue with understanding mind. In this case I can write about the very thing you could analyze in your next meditation but these two things wont be in any way connected in your mind and so intuition won't happen.

Not understanding someone would still drive mind mad and there would be effort to fill the gaps BUT not when provide answer like 'this person is just hard to understand' which is literally just generating experience of knowing and linking it with the chain of questions. If there is a hole in your mind but there is any pointer to any information which looks like some sort of answer it can be enough for mind to just take it and avoid having to do anything with the questions, even if this answer is irrelevant to this missing knowledge.

That is why to analyze mind one cannot take any answer and showed it to make mind comfortable "for now" and rather look for answers which are already there and if they do not answer actual questions those answers should be removed. For example if you have fruition it is not so obvious what that is about but if you have answer "this is fruition! bla bla bla experience of non-experience bla bla bla" this needs to be removed. Mind need to have this gaping hole in its knowledge and this will cause it to make genuine effort to figure it out.

Of course I do provide answers to some questions and I do think they are quite accurate but I also know they are they are causing mind to forego further analysis and I do remove these answers for myself. The goal for contemplation is to think about stuff and figure new answers and not to be complacent with having answers. This is a way to develop "exceptionally clear and analytical understanding of the human mind" emoticon

You mean that you can see from the body language of a person where his sense of self is?
I practiced to be able to experience all missing sensual experiences which caused experience sense of self to be experienced also.
The thing about it is that this was nothing new, I always experienced this. The practice thus was more about removing all the noise which made these experiences hide in the noise floor. This type of clearing stuff out can however hide experiences from mind. Noise is only noise until signal is found in the noise.

The way to do it is to have as little signals as possible but to be also to have these signals at will.
This is also true for favorite signal to be removed from mind: our sense of self. It should be possible to experience it but it should not happen. Having to do anything should not require sense of self to be involved BUT if I want to analyze action with it then it should be possible. Before action happens or after - during it happening sense of self makes no sense... which is pretty much how we normally believe sense of self work and this is one of the reason why it looks like something so bad to be removed completely emoticon

So basically, instead of having a framework of progress wherein meditation supposedly inevitably leads to the mind state called enlightenment, you propose that there is no one inevitable outcome, but that instead we should/could go shopping for any mind state we think would suit us? Also, how do i figure out "how they do their mind"?
If you cannot feel other people to assess if their mind states would suit you then look for what you can tell within given tradition. Rome was not built in one day and aspects of perceptions which are not used can become pretty dull. Then if you can feel it then you can usually tell how to do these mind states because pretty much feeling them means you already have them to the degree you can feel them. If you can experience persons mind fully it means you already know all you need to know about it and with little more effort you should be able to use it.

It always worked this way. Most people do not claim to copy others but do their practices but to some degree copying always happens when you have any contact with teachers. That is also why people often get progress when they go to retreats or find teacher despite after they do they do exactly the same practices.

This transmission process is somewhat complicated. What is my intention is to highlight that it exists and that it is useful to assess if what other people have suits us, also because it by itself is a large part of the practice. Someone who feels their teacher attainment is almost there, someone who have no clue is not. People are steered toward certain outcomes by the contact with other people even if practices they do could go in different directions. This is pretty normal.

As for singular enlightenment hypothesis: ultimately what enlightenment is should not change but there are many ways to skin a cat ;)
Given the issues (like neurons being tired) and their solutions (any way to switch them fast fast) what people need can be done/realized in many ways. This doesn't need to go as far as to actual enlightenment where person feels the whole universe but in pragmatic dharma circles having stainless mind is enough... and it is required for universe to want to feel us more than it does so it is still the prerequisite for enlightenment emoticon
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
That is why to analyze mind one cannot take any answer and showed it to make mind comfortable "for now" and rather look for answers which are already there and if they do not answer actual questions those answers should be removed. For example if you have fruition it is not so obvious what that is about but if you have answer "this is fruition! bla bla bla experience of non-experience bla bla bla" this needs to be removed. Mind need to have this gaping hole in its knowledge and this will cause it to make genuine effort to figure it out.
Over the past couple days I have actually changed my meditation in that direction. I noticed that, even when I was doing a basic practice like "do-nothing"-meditation, I was still interpreting too much into that instruction. In the most obvious case I was trying to get to states that I thought I should get to. In the less obvious case, which was a revelation to me, I was still trying to avoid some states, for instance falling asleep or being tense or not open enough or having too much energy in the head or having intentions in general.
Now for the first time I really am "doing nothing", no interpretation, no expectation, no questions, no answers, only observing life unfold. With some interesting results, that ironically I don't even care for in that moment.

Thanks also for your other elaborations; part of it rings true already, some of it remains abstract to me. But I'm going to trust that at the right time I will know how to use it.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 5878 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Honestly, I don't think you can avoid insight progression, even if you refrain from meditating. You are already experiencing altered states that are intimately related to insight. It was like that for me too. You can work with it or work against it, and working against it won't stop these things from happening once they have started. If you work with it, on the other hand, you can learn how to stay grounded and how to let go of fear and resistance that makes things worse and cut through states that are too much and develop an understanding that puts things into context so that you can cope better with the development that is already happening. And it can liberate you for the benefit of all sentient beings. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 2019 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
J M M
- Do you mean that this depersonalization episode was not an episode but is your new baseline experience now?
- 'Dropping back down into the body' –– when I am working on this I have had two different kinds of experiences: 1) a sense of being really low in the chair that I am sitting on, something like the feeling of stepping into a really low sports car, a sens of having lost an inch or two in body height, feeling very confident and courageous as I let all emotions and sensations pass through the body without closing off from them or reverting to thought, generally feeling extremely grounded like I never felt before; and in some rarer cases of this (happened twice), even seeing the world as if I am seeing it for the first time, as if this was the first time I really was somewhere, quite spectacular yet extremely banal; 2) my sense of self literally dropping to the belly area, like normally my self is somewhere between my eyes, but that time it literally dropped down. It was as if my head was above myself, as if I would have to look up to see my head. I only got this experience once, and it also included having my awareness/feeling expanding from the gut very far out into space around me, lasted a short while before I went into some weird altered state where my body was gone, which also lasted only a short while as I got too excited and lost it. Does any of these experiences have anything to do with what you experience?
- The Alice Miller book was on my reading list already, will add the other book as well. Never heard of the foccusing method, will look into it.

It was maybe 10-20 episodes over several months. What happened was that my baseline gradually converged towards the experience of the episodes, so that they became less noticeable.

Because humans spend an inordinate amount of time processing information in the head (especially language/thought), they tend to develop this uncomfortable sense that awareness is centered in the head. But when you look closely enough you see that there is no such thing as awareness independent of sensations, and that awareness arises & passes dependently with each sensation. The experiences you describe are seeing the way things really are – when there is awareness of a part of the body then awareness is actually emanating from that part of the body. Likewise when there is awareness of a sight, sound, smell, taste or thought then awareness is emanating from that very sight, sound, smell, taste or thought. This is called “nondual awareness”.

The problem that humans have is that social complexity has evolved much faster than the body, so they typically spend most of their time aware of stuff in the head and ignore the fact that the bulk of their experience still happens in the body. Trauma and emotional repression just exacerbate this imbalance. That’s why it feels so uncomfortable to maintain the sense that awareness is centered in the head, because it’s just not the way things are. There is a constant tension between the head asserting confidently ‘I think this is what is happening up here’ and the body yelling ‘hey dickhead, listen to what’s really happening down here’. Obviously the eyes and ears are actually attached to the head, but the head gets that wrong as well and assumes there is a watcher and a listener in the head, whereas really the seeing and the hearing are happening “out there”! Even thoughts are not really located in the head, that’s just an artefact of the way the sense of space is constructed.

The more you notice this kind of stuff and see how it leads to discomfort and tension, the more you tend to relax it and let experience arise naturally in its own place. Most of the stuff you need to do you can do without thinking about it nearly so much, and you can still interact fine with the world without maintaining the sense of the head being the center of experience. But the first few times you drop into this natural nondual awareness it can definitely feel weird and unsettling, especially if you are progressing fast, because it goes completely against everything you are used to assuming and requires a period of adjustment.

The body gone state sounds like some kind of formless jhana.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 5878 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I would say that it happens in the entire space. It's not restricted to the body. So the sense of the body falling away can be normal too. And especially during a formal meditation sitting, the body falling away is completely normal (just as it's also normal if it doesn't).

(If there's awareness of some kind of form, it's not a formless jhana in a MCTB2 sense, but definitions vary. There are also somewhat formless aspects of other jhanas, and there are nondual absorptions that are part of another system, and those can have many different characteristics. The development from state to state sounds more like a nondual absorption to me.)

If you are worried about dissociation, it might still be good to ground yourself in your body in daily life. Body awareness exercises are good, such as Hatha yoga or Ashtanga yoga (I would avoid intense Kundalini yoga, though, because that's the opposite of grounding). Getting to know one's body and being present to it is good. 
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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Interesting. Thank you for elaborating.
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

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George S
I had some DPDR episodes during third path, related to relatively mild emotional trauma. Inner child work and learning to feel my emotions directly in my body seem to have cleared it up mostly. It might not stand in the way, but stream entry is not a panacea. The further you go down the path of insight, the more you will be forced to confront this stuff directly.

Experiencing fruition and cessation from time to time as they happen when you let them is by itself not that helpful. Changes in mind state which typically happen is typically allowing better overview and more advanced practices but by itself it doesn't solve issues.

If you know what fruition is and you learn do it at any time then this can be used to pretty much workaround yourself from any state of woe. Arguably this point is more true 1st path.
T DC, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 393 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
J M M
Did anyone here struggle with dissociation/depersonalization and still reach stream entry? Just wondering if a disposition for dissociating will stop me from gaining stream entry. Seems to be a thing that's extremely difficult to deal with.

If it is possible to get stream entry with this disposition; after attainment, will the dissociation be vanquished or under much more control or does it not solve this?
You've got lots of answers already, but my two cents.  I encountered uncomfortable dissociative/depersonalization type experiences fairly often on the path, before and after stream entry, and mainly just considered it an unpleasant but probably inevitable side effect of the journey.  Given my own psychological make up I think I may also have been predisposed toward these states

Some factors play into it though: how unpleasant are the states and to what degree are they effecting you?  If you're having seriously uncomfortable experiences verging on panic attacks, it is of course more important to dig into possible causes and solutions, and more of a priority than if it's just anoying.

How hard are you pushing yourself?  Very intensive practice makes dissociative events more likely, simply because you are messing with your perception.  If you're pushing yourself too hard and making disociative states worse, back off meditaiton, excersice more, have a good meal..

Are the states you're encountering inevitable ocurances?  Unpleasant mental states are somewhat inevitable on the path of meditation IMO; the journey is tough and the territory we encounter can be quite mentally trying.  My strongest dissociative experiences on the path were significantly beyond stream entry, when I was getting into a strong experience of emptiness, and there were times I genuinely feared for my sanity.  Looking back I think it was probably an inevitable experience at that point on the path, and not much could have been done to make it more comfortable.

So there's a balance - yes uncomfortable experiences are inevitable on the path; pushing to hard in meditation can make them worse; but in order to make progress we do need to push hard enough.  It's a question of finding our personal limits and remaining rational enough to not drive ourselves nuts in the pursuit of improved mental health ;)

And to answer your question, no these states will not prevent you from achiving stream entry, if anything they go with the territory.  And stream entry with not magically resolve them - it may lessen some unpleasantness associated with the experience, but there's a long journey ahead filled with many other uncomfortable states.  The imortant thing is to consiously approach practice and the path in a balanced manner so as not to significantly exasterbate them.
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
Thank you T DC, for sharing.
(I'm not sure if the states are inevitable. Sometimes they are triggered by anxiety due to altered meditation states that are new to me. Sometimes I get anxiety and dissociation just from reading about trauma. I do feel like even just these last couple of days I've made some serious progress, with this thread also really helping.)
Platu •, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 7 Join Date: 5/7/21 Recent Posts
J M M
Did anyone here struggle with dissociation/depersonalization and still reach stream entry? Just wondering if a disposition for dissociating will stop me from gaining stream entry. Seems to be a thing that's extremely difficult to deal with.

If it is possible to get stream entry with this disposition; after attainment, will the dissociation be vanquished or under much more control or does it not solve this?
​​​​​​​
Depersonalization is anxiety based condition. Target the anxiety and depersonalization will cease, it's an branch of anxiety tree. 

I've been depersonalized 24/7 for quite some time. It's a great time to learn accepting this dysfuncional way of being. With all the pain, discomfort and weirdness. Meditating on the inner body/physical pain has helped. Focusing on that made me more tolerant and accepting of being in pain. Later I were investigating the 3C's. 

Understanding the mechanism of anxiety is key. To see the pattern layed down on the table. I've been surprised that it's not unique at all and can be well described. By seeing it, it's easier to accept and know that there is nothing wrong with you. Those books were gold to me: Dr. Claire Weekes 'Hope and help for your nerves', Barry McDonagh 'DARE', Paul David 'At last a life'. Shaan Kassam YouTube.

I did reach stream entry still having generalized anxiety, though the fog of depersonalization were gone for some time already. It didn't cure the anxiety, though coming out of 24/7 dukkha nanas has helped. The suffering has decreased also by directly knowing that I'm not a continiuous being with solid sensations. It's easier to deal with the sensations now than with the whole mental construct that I'm always depersonalized, anxious all day/week, etc.

The main takeaway from all those books is ACCEPT (whatever is). Over time it will desensitize your sensitized nervous system and you will not be triggered so much by false threat.
Eudoxos ., modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 79 Join Date: 4/6/14 Recent Posts
Speaking of resources on trauma I found valuable:

Besser van der Kolk: Body keeps the score
(book). It is very thorough, explains many facets of the trauma, both PTSD and developmental (abuse, sickness, ...) stress, how various reactions - bursts of anger, switching off - etc) happen and how they relate to the brain structures being (de)activated, what tratments work and why. It also gives a bit of history of understanding and treatment of trauma, as he was one/is of the key figures in researching this.

Gabor Mate: The Wisdom of Trauma (movie), freely available at https://wisdomoftrauma.com/movie/ (if you go through the main website, you have to register).
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
Thanks Eudoxos. I had actually watched the movie a few days ago.
J M M, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Dissociation and stream entry

Posts: 16 Join Date: 7/27/21 Recent Posts
Platu, thanks for sharing. Helpful and hopeful!

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