Need Advice!

Mandakini, modified 2 Years ago at 8/4/21 1:24 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/4/21 1:24 PM

Need Advice!

Posts: 11 Join Date: 4/26/20 Recent Posts
Hi All,
Here are some details about me, the practice and obtstacles
Age/gender  - Late 50s/Woman 
Meditation History Goenka Style since 2015. Daily 2 times 1 hour sit
Yearly 10 day retreat

Prior practice - till April 2020- I had a demanding and pressure job and have been in workforce for a long time.
Always had anxiety and felt in my stomach. Tried to work on it many a times but it never went away. 
Time to time I got some guidance from ATs but I felt I was kind of my own. 
I came across MCTB2 while googling for my issues after first retreat and it has been of great help.
My practice has been going well ( A&P, Three characteristics and of course in Dark night)
Medical history  - I had developed neck pain which somehow shows up every year. 
More details in another post :

Current practice -  I took retirement 3 months ago  to get some in depth knowledge by reading material and  practicing regularly and dedicated  2021 to the practice.  During this time I’ve read The Middle Length Discourses ,  browsed/read  MCTB2 many a times, read Jack Kornfiled’s  Path to Heart 
In few weeks in to the practice, as I expected,  anxiety in my stomach wasn’t there any more
Felt subtle flow - and from my previous experience thought this will bring up a deep Sankara on the surface.
It did - it took me some time to realize personal issue I had not addressed

Meditation was going well, I was feeling subtle flow and many bones were clicking in my had as if channels were opening which I have felt in the past as well, but this time it was more.
But 2 weeks back started feeling a bit of tension in the back of my head. 
Thought it will go away and continued meditation since I was not overwhelmed.
One upsetting behavior  of  a long time friend was dancing like crazy - ALL the time in my mind,  I was aware that this is my judgmental  mind but just couldn’t help it. I was expecting ideal behavior which this friend has failed so many times.
On one of the retreat I had similar irritating thought about another meditator and I knew it was similar this time as well.
MCTB2 also mentions about this kind of behavior.

After few days When pain became a bit more I decided to take Advil 400 mg three times a day to see if it helps.
It did not.
Scalp became tender and I could not lie down on my back or side.
This time I was feeling more push on my crown, as if something wants to come out and was pulling my attention to that.
I was scared if I am there for a bit longer, it could pop open. Therefore I was carefully scanning it downwards as if to dissipate the energy to lower parts.
My eyes were burning time to time
My throat  was hurting time to time. If I touch I could feel it hurting
If I touch side of my  neck - it was hurting.
I could not tie my hair. Constantly touching head/hair. i lightly and  rapidly scratching with finger nails felt good.
I was also trying to eat more food and protein ( almonds, yogurt, milk) thinking this might help grounding.
I was too tired to be able to read or type on computer.
At this time I decided to take my prescription medication - Cyclobenzaprime ( muscle relaxer) and Maloxicam ( anti inflammation and pain killer)
By this time my attention was completely captured by pain,
Pain was not continuous. It rises from the occipital lobe and goes up.
Its stabbing, it’s cut through, it’s burning.
In the night I had to move constantly - then I was trying to see if I should stop moving probably just stand the pain or uneasiness. It did not help
Next night there was intense urge to scratch the head I did it for 10 mins.
Turned my hair in all different directions. If some one looked at me at that time - they will think I am gone crazy.
Used my fingers and thumbs to press base of the skull and massage few more points in the skull.
Also used my fingers to massage soar muscle near mid spine ( both sides of spine)
It felt as if cervical  bone cracked  and removed some of the pressure
That seems to remove the pain.
With this crazy actions on head and hair - next morning I woke up with same burning head feeling but in a minute it was gone and I felt relieved.

I continued taking medication for  two more days, I felt better  and stopped taking medication.

What I was worried was  If I have to see a doctor what would I tell him about pressure on the crown.
He will not understand energy I am feeling in the body. If he prescribes me another medicine,  what will it do the pressure on skull?
My Assistant Teacher was only able to tell me that I should do quick body scan and not do part by part and ask dhamma what is asking for acceptance and could not  give me any specific guidance to reduce energy buildup.
I remembered that energy can be reduced by focusing on lower body parts ( feet, stomach and palm), eating grounding food.
Also read in Path to Heart - look for expanded view to see where is the cause of pain, it might be other place in the body.
Also asked what is it asking for acceptance  - I saw something,  very deep rooted anger and guilt in my stomach for what I had done 30 years back. I cried holding my stomach. It was not due to some judgmental thought about friend but some deep down guilt and anger.  
when pressure and pain was there I started focusing on stomach area and telling myself, all is okay, all its okay, pain and pressure reduced.

I have Satipatthana course coming up next month - wondering if I should go for it.
I have stopped meditating  for last one week and trying  to find out what was that and what should I do if it re-appears.
Should I be doing more loving kindness meditation or continue gently enquiring with Vipassana?
Can I use acupuncture next time it happens?
At this time, I feel, I am all alone in this.If  any one can provide any guidance, that will be great.

Much Metta and Thank you in advance
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Years ago at 8/4/21 5:44 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/4/21 5:44 PM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 881 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
I recommend stopping vipassana. I had similar issues where I had stabbing pains at the base of my head. I ended up in the behavioral hospital and was put on meds. It took me 8 years but I am finally able to come down on some doses of my meds, but not completely off yet. If you are curious as to which meds I can provide that information.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Years ago at 8/4/21 6:00 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/4/21 6:00 PM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 881 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Also if you are worried about getting on psych meds, there are genetic tests you can take to determine how fast you metabolize certain medications, thus helping find the right fit.
Kaloyan Stefanov, modified 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 3:34 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 3:31 AM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 83 Join Date: 2/18/21 Recent Posts
Hey Mandakini, thanks for sharing what you are going through! Your experiences are deeply relatable as I have had almost everything you describe myself (except your actual medical conditions + perscritpion drugs)

You are already familiar with Progress of Insight, MCTB2, Path with Heart, so you should have a healthy attitude towards your experience - in a sense, these things do happen to (a lot/most) people on the path at certain points. Yes, they can be deeply unpleasant sometimes, but it is nothing that you should freak out about. In a sense, they are a key part of the path - the physical/energetic symptoms and psychological purification seem to be deeply interwined as part of the path of awakeniking, even if they are not strictly speaking always on the same axis (i.e. you can have very deep insight into no Self and still have lots of psychological baggage to clean up - as is my experience). Do not regard your experiences as something to get away from, but more as an invitation to explore, to go deep, to integrate, to gain insight - all of which will utimately hopefully lead to better quality of life down the line.

Of course, taking care of your physical health, etc. is important, so don't neglect that. You correctly also observe that your doctor might not be the best person to help you deal with some of the symptoms you are experiencing and I definately wouldn't go screeming into their office "OMG, Kundalini is going to explode through my crown, Doc, please, help!". That will not go well emoticon. Painkillers might not also provide much relief unforunately - this has been my epxerience. Daniel Ingram described in a podcast how he literally couldn't turn his head to the right (or left?) for like almost 20 days due to how "blocked", stiff and painful his neck and upper body felt in one episode. He mentioned painkillers didn't help there either.

In your post you list some quite good things which help in these situations, and I have added some thoughts to things which you already touch upon:
- Energetic grounding. Focusing attention on Feet, or Hara (just under belly button) is good. Lying on the ground is good. Goind out in Nature is good.
- Diet: Eating healthy, nutritious food, protein, etc. is good
- Mild excercise such as walks, yoga, etc. can be good
- Taking lots of rest + naps during the day is strongly recommended
- Being in the company of nice people can be good sometimes
- On the practice side, doing slightly less Vipassana, or slightly less intense Vipassana, and mixing in more Shamatha, Metta or Open-Awareness type of Approaches (Not focusing on just one body area, but the whole field of sensate experience) are things that generally help people.

One additional piece of advice:
- The trick with these unpleasant periods of our practice / Dukkhas Nanas is to GO DEEP and ALLOW and not try to QUICKLY GO THROUGH and TRANSCEND. From my limitted observation it seems women in general are better prepared to go DEEP, and this comes more naturally to them, whereas it seems we goal-focused men often try to somehow GO THROUGH. GOING THROUGH usually just results in more pain, suffering and having to actually still come back and GO DEEP and ALLOW. But these are general observations which might not be applicable to every female or male practitioner of course. 

I hope this is helpful! You seem to be making good progress and to have a good hang on your practice at a time of your life where you also have the space. This rough patch will pass sooner or later - keep going! Let us know how we can help! Good luck and all the best!!!
Mandakini, modified 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 6:40 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 6:40 AM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 11 Join Date: 4/26/20 Recent Posts
Hi Kaloyan,
Thank you for taking time to read my long post and replying. 
I have strong desire to explore this life/body in this life time and encouraged with your words.
I will try to  take it slowly and patiently since I have rest of the life to explore :-)

I am wondering if you/someone can easily  point out the podcast where Daniel mentiones about his pain?

Much Metta
Adi Vader, modified 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 1:06 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 1:06 PM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 323 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hi Mandakini

I dont know if this will help you. In my meditation practice there was a time when the power in attention far exceeded the power in peripheral awareness. This caused energetic phenomena in the spine, a feeling of having an iron skull cap on my head, intense pain in the head - in meditation as well as out of meditation. Amongst other things like severe hallucinnations in meditation.

I used the following way to correct this imbalance.
Please see if this helps you:
Mandakini, modified 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 3:11 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 3:11 PM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 11 Join Date: 4/26/20 Recent Posts
Hi Adi,
Thanks for the advice. I see your suggestion and steps mentioned in the link can be of help where  attention should be replaced by peripheral awareness. 
 In the start of my meditation journey, despite of constant pounding of instructions on moving awareness, I had put attention on the pressure in the head and wanted to move that pressure, on and off the cushion  which was cause of  headaches and inflamation in the head.
Since then I have improved but now some deep stuff is coming up on the surface and causing pain.
Pressure at the crown is one and then the pressure on neck, shoulder and that is causing Occipital Neurolgia kind of symptoms.
I read somewhere ...
The mind has to be very very familiar with what these things are and learn to relax them again and again. They curl up and become hard - dukkha shows up, we relax them - dukkha reduces. We do this multiple times. We see the results of these grips, we see the results of relaxing them. This juxtaposition teaches the mind a new way of engaging with objects. This is the 'nana' in the dukkha nana.
George S, modified 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 4:31 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 4:03 PM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Just adding my personal experience to the good advice above ... once you've ruled out possible medical issues, the kind of pain you are describing is consistent with suppressed emotions like anger and guilt. I spent most of my life ignoring my body/emotions, and it just takes time to release stuff from the subconscious and relax patterns of avoidance and resistance. Especially when increasing sitting time and getting into deeper states, old stuff tends to bubble up. In a way the pain is the teacher, teaching you all the ways you avoid and resist the direct experience of emotions in the body. Every sit is like a lesson in relaxing some hitherto unnoticed tension or resistance pattern. It takes time to learn to listen to and trust the body's real needs, varying sleep, food, rest, exercise, work, meditation, socializing etc as your intuition suggests. It sounds like you are doing the right things, and you can relax and trust in the process to work itself out emoticon
Mandakini, modified 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 8:55 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/5/21 8:55 PM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 11 Join Date: 4/26/20 Recent Posts
Hi George,
Thank you for the reply and positive comments.
 I strongly think medical issue is the byproduct of the process. 
I am going to give it a try and see how it goes
Also, it will be great if I get to talk to Daniel Ingram and get his opinion.

George S, modified 2 Years ago at 8/6/21 1:48 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/6/21 1:40 PM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Kaloyan Stefanov
 In a sense, they are a key part of the path - the physical/energetic symptoms and psychological purification seem to be deeply interwined as part of the path of awakeniking, even if they are not strictly speaking always on the same axis (i.e. you can have very deep insight into no Self and still have lots of psychological baggage to clean up - as is my experience).

This is my experience - insight brought my narcississm into very sharp relief. I'm curious about your experience (if you don't mind sharing, and I understand if not)
Mandakini, modified 2 Years ago at 8/7/21 9:43 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/7/21 9:43 AM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 11 Join Date: 4/26/20 Recent Posts
I started meditation and enquiery after about 2 week's gap. 
Main concern awas Fear of Pain reappearing and what is my plan to handle it.
Few things I had to resolve before I was able to continue in my meditation, may be some of you might be able to help me in this. After the plan to resolve,  meditaion went well  - felt that I am much more relaxed and able to do the enquiery and able to apply the learning of last 2 weeks reading and suggestions from you all! 
My line of action is :
1. Find out a spine specialist in the area for pain management and get neck and head checked again.
2. Find out from the group if any one has done accupucture when in pain and if they can share the experince.
3. Find out accupuncture professional in NYC
4. Reach out to Daniel Ingram and Dr Angiolo ( I listened to all his video podcast :-) if they have time and can make any suggestions being meditator and doctor.

Please help me if you can,in any of these above items.

Much Metta!
n0nick, modified 2 Years ago at 8/7/21 11:34 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/7/21 11:32 AM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 22 Join Date: 6/12/20 Recent Posts
I started my meditation jeourney with goenka vipassana though I am not practicing in that tradition so take whatever I say with a grain of salt. But I have been dealing with nervous system pain and energy imbalance so hopefully I'll be able to provide some pointers. Most of the pain is caused by blockages in the nervous system/energy body or samskaras if you like. These are mostly trauma and repressed emotions stored in the subtle body. There can be blockages related to other causse also. I have found accupuncture to be of great help in the path as it helps to open up channels and meridians. Deep tissue massage(myofascial release should also help dissolve blockages in the nervous system to some extent. ) physical practices like yoga or tai chi qi gong are also specifically designed to dissolve blockages in the body mind through allighnment, stretching and relaxation with awareness on specific body parts. Deep belly breathing also helps yo balance energy in the body and takes energy down from the head to the belly. Having some idea about the subtle body anatomy and energy system should also help to deal with the energy imbalances. There is a lot of information regarding the subtle body anatomy in daoist and hindu and Buddhist tantric traditions. 
Mandakini, modified 2 Years ago at 8/7/21 1:47 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 8/7/21 1:47 PM

RE: Need Advice!

Posts: 11 Join Date: 4/26/20 Recent Posts
Yes, pain is due to blockages and I will need to face the pain when knots open up and all the pain comes on surface.

Just to clarify - I am looking for accupuncture or doctor to ease the pain due to unblocking or opening of knots.