Treating OCD or just going for the bang?

Pavel Pek, modified 2 Months ago.

Treating OCD or just going for the bang?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/22/21 Recent Posts
Hello, my favorite forum in the world (and the only one EVER where people seem to respond passionately to my questions for some strange reasons - thanks for that) and my favorite sub-thread of it. I have a question that I have a feeling I would know Daniel Ingram's answer to. It's a question regarding mental health and concretely, whether I should treat my OCD alongside my "Journey2Awakening (name of my youtube channel lol - a little self-promo never hurts) journey" or whether I should just leave it all to the hands of dharma gods hoping that once I get enlightened that my OCD will somewhat change as well? I like to think that the reason for my dharma practice is the Tolleian "I've had enough of suffering already and don't need any more of it", but honestly, it's probably mainly just to be free of OCD making life truly hellish sometimes. 

Today I've also realized that most of my practice is completely chaotic, but I basically went from meditating 0 times a day to meditating 4-10 hours a day in a matter of a day or two and have been keeping this for like a week. However, I've found myself being "fried up" as Daniel puts it in his book under the many warnings he has put in the pages. Synergistically perhaps to this, I've been reading "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover" book and listening to Elliot Hulse in order to keep my ego into a little bit of worldly and ego stuff, to counter-balance the practice with something that I find really cool and almost "wtf-ish" and that would look awesome if one day they would make a movie about me (check some recent Elliot's videos to understand). In the book, I've just read about the archetype of a shadow Warrior who is usually causing himself a heart attack, which is how I am feeling lately this week, in order to achieve his workaholic ambitions. So I am like wait a minute, this is not healthy, I spiritually bypass here and am probably loading that "Live fast die young" barometer way too more than I'd like to.

So my question is, do you think that I should treat my OCD alongside my dharma practice? Its constitution is such that it's mostly about someone "wronging me" or me doing something "wrong". So I kind of have the feeling that getting awakened would really annihilate it. That being said, treating OCD (I've done it in the past) was like walking on coals and compared to Vipassana (As much as I can say on the subject after 1 serious week and 0 insights nor probably much quality meditation in terms of concentration whatsoever, I am sure it's a little different thing once you go deeper) it was like doing MMA or ballet. It was gruesome, drastic, hands-sweating (even writing about it now they got sweaty), it was the hardest thing I've ever done hands down, especially since I had to confront the worst fear I've ever had and then do nothing about it. I am also afraid doing CBT (Cognitive behavior therapy) and ERP (Exposure response prevention), my two go-to treatments for OCD would somehow stall my dharma progress because it's really hard to do exposures for me while also going my Journey2Awakening journey. So I would like to think that I can just skip all this and use all my OCD suffering as fuel for awakening, but clearly, I am burning myself to the freaking ground going 150 kilometers (sorry all American friends, I have no clue about miles here in East Europe) an hour. 

As always - anything welcomed, especially from other OCD folks.

Stay dharmic, not karmic friends!
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Chris Marti, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Treating OCD or just going for the bang?

Posts: 365 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Meditation is not a medical practice and cannot effectively substitute for one - it's a spiritual practice, a process that leads to spiritual self-discovery and, eventually and hopefully, awakening. It should not be used as a way to treat mental illness. For that, you need a good psychiatrist or therapist. And yes, you can certainly do both meditation and therapy, although making sure your therapist is aware of your mediation practice is best.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Treating OCD or just going for the bang?

Posts: 5981 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I really don't think that treating your OCD would be counterproductive for your dharma practice. On the contrary, the compulsion you describe needs to be dealt with if you want to follow the eightfold path. The difficulties that you expect from the therapy are great fuel for the awakening if dealt with alongside your dharma practice. 
Eudoxos ., modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Treating OCD or just going for the bang?

Posts: 89 Join Date: 4/6/14 Recent Posts
Sila-sikkha (which entails conventional psychological/personal development) is a different training than insight (pañña-sikkha); this is explained in MCTB (and elsewhere) in detail. While it is in a way necessary to do both (because…. what's the choice?), one should avoid doing both at the same time, always knowing what one is doing.

Professional therapy can hardly stall your insight (unless seriously astray), quite on the contrary, sane personality is supportive for insight. That's why it comes first as training, after all.

A short excerpt from Bill Hamilton touching the topic in Saints & Psychopaths (there is more of a context in the text), though he talks about intense practice:

Buddhist meditation is certainly psychotherapeutic, but there are some problems with regarding it as a form of psychotherapy. The first is that too much emphasis on psychological phenomena will derail the process of simply observing phenomena without trying to change anything. The second is that in terms of psychotherapy, results are random, and it is unwise to expect specific psychotherapeutic results from the practice. The third is that the level of the unconscious where mental illness originates is the deepest level. This level is not accessed until the final level of enlightenment.

Although there are many reports of neuroses, phobias and obsessions which have been spontaneously cured during meditation, usually there is no way to predict in advance if and when they will be cured. Even general personality changes as a result of attaining different levels of enlightenment are erratic. Some people have a very profound change in personality as a result of attaining the first level, and others do not.
Pavel Pek, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Treating OCD or just going for the bang?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/22/21 Recent Posts
Thank you so much, guys!!!

You really rock and helped me on this. I am already looking back for some therapists and have decided that I should definitely try to not treat my OCD just by dharma alone, but that this is not black-and-white as in "If you won't use all your energy that you could get from your OCD that would literally fuel your practice and the intense suffering would force you to wake up, then you will not get enlightened, therapy is just a distraction". That's probably just another OCD thought lol. In factuality, not having OCD would benefit my practice immensely, since as you say, sometimes I get lost in a psychological way too much, or rather it gets so distracting that I lose all concentration especially during Samatha. 
Pavel Pek, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Treating OCD or just going for the bang?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/22/21 Recent Posts
Hello once again, so I am back doing my exposures. And maybe this is an OCD black and white question, but how do you guys divide time between sila-sikkha personal development and for example noting practice? I am trying to be mindful using noting since I wake up till I go to bed, but doing exposures feels like I almost need to devote separate time for that. How do you guys divide time on morality x meditation practice especially mindfulness? Should I just act based on intuition as in here is an opportunity to do exposure so I do it and then back to noting? Or is trying to be mindful all day frying myself up and should I perhaps just devote 2 hours a day for it? It feels like that sometimes. It's really hard to switch from noting to doing exposures or other "therapy" stuff. How do you devote time between the two trainings and what exactly is that devoting time - intuition, clock?

Thank you all for your answers so far, I feel like I was doing a great deal of spiritual bypassing trying to heal my OCD purely by meditation, which was quite compulsive behavior in an of itself.

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