Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/8/22 4:21 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Papa Che Dusko 4/9/22 1:36 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/9/22 2:20 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Papa Che Dusko 4/10/22 2:50 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/10/22 7:12 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Will G 4/9/22 12:43 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/9/22 11:26 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Will G 4/9/22 12:22 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling George S 4/9/22 6:20 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/9/22 11:54 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Griffin 4/10/22 2:34 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/10/22 7:17 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling shargrol 4/9/22 8:14 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/9/22 11:31 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/9/22 2:14 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/9/22 2:37 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 4/9/22 3:10 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/9/22 3:10 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Adi Vader 4/9/22 9:39 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Chris M 4/9/22 5:29 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Adi Vader 4/9/22 9:41 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/10/22 7:07 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Chrollo X 4/11/22 11:04 AM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/12/22 8:46 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/13/22 7:40 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Ni Nurta 4/13/22 9:10 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Papa Che Dusko 4/14/22 1:12 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/14/22 10:25 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/16/22 10:25 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 4/16/22 1:56 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Jared N 5/4/22 10:03 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Ni Nurta 5/5/22 4:16 PM
RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling Brandon Michael Rohe 4/22/22 1:15 PM
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/8/22 4:21 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/8/22 4:21 PM

Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Hi, DhO community,

First I wanted to say thanks for your responses and support. I posted yesterday in the Motivation category, and now I feel myself eating my words.

I'll give my background first so you guys can know a bit about me and my past practice. I grew up in a heavily religious community with a strict sense of eternalism, including the belief that my family and I would be able to be together for eternity. Later, I left this community, as I felt like I could no longer buy into the narratives involved. I also suffered severe anxiety and panic attacks around age 13, but these later went away and I seemed to do okay for the next 13 years.

I invested my time in my life in studying, I learned a ton, and really love my schooling. I met a beautiful girl, who I married. We have been together 4 years and are very happy together. I always felt like a rock for her in our relationship. I consider myself fairly high functioning, with goals, plans, a daily routine, and good communication skills.

I started meditation 4-5 years ago, usually for 10-20 minutes a day. I found it relieved stress, and brought clarity and distance from my emotions. It helped me grow in my day-to-day life, and I found I was kinder, and my focused work was improved. I felt really at ease in life in general, and I remember the last 6 years as extremely fulfilled and happy. During this time, I found a passion for lifting weights, going on long walks, and spending time with my wife and family.

However, at the beginning of January, I hard committed to meditation, using a body scan technique that I learned from Headspace.  I had previously practiced a lot of breath-centered meditation, as well as mental noting, and these became familiar enough that I integrated them into the body scan technique (with sunlight visualization exercises). So what I was doing was some sort of head-to-foot scan, observing the body, and then I would go back up the body, visualizing it filling with bright warm light. All the while, if I felt distracted, I would simply note it and return to the attention of the body.  I'm sure there's a name for this sort of practice but I don't know it.

Anyways, after a month of meditating in this way for 1-2 hours a day, I began experiencing strange things. I would sense that I was a dark soft void behind myself. I could tell my body and brain were separate from me. (This was egged on by a guided meditation by Sam Harris).  Later, I started feeling this more intensely, as well as bright energy radiating up through my body from the sunshine visualization. I would lose all noticeable sensation and just blend with the consciousness.  At the time, I had no idea what all of this was, but it was interesting and I kept going.  Finally, I had an unsettling experience where I had a full-on separation from my body, I don't know how to describe it but I was just seeing that my body was there and it wasn't me.  This led to paranoia, then fear, and then all-out panic. I began to experience weird things off the cushion like I wasn't in control of my actions. I remember a few nights when I was conscious even while sleeping. It really freaked me out, and my sympathetic nervous system was always on. I was in fight-or-flight 24/7 for about a week, with very little unconscious sleep.

It all led up to a week-long stay in an in-patient psychiatric ward, in which they started me on some medication (SSRI, Sleep meds, anti-anxiety blood pressure medication, etc.)  That was the first week of February. Since then, experiences started to change.

After the hospital, I stopped meditation entirely, no sits, and as little off cushion practice as I could (it's hard not to practice these once you learn). I slowly stopped having disrupted sleep, my anxiety level went down, and I began to feel more "in control" and back in my "self" again. I knew some part of my brain was able to choose an outcome, and I had the choice of making myself better or not. I chose the path of healing. As time went on, I began having realizations about life. I realized that I had to lose my dearest loved ones someday. I realized that I don't believe there's eternal life after this one. I realized that I had an extreme fear of abandonment and loneliness. Most of these things came as a passive worry that I couldn't place my finger on. Then they would grow into more anxiety, more anxiety, until finally, at some explosive boiling point, I would discover this "truth" and would feel immense grief and cry for a few hours. Then it would take me a few days to recover and I would begin to get another realization.  I might mention that overall, this has felt very natural, and in some ways, I feel much lighter than before. It feels right. I feel like I learned some valuable lessons about letting go. And I continued to catch up in both work and school, so I was feeling much better overall.

I have been going to therapy once a week and meeting with a "spiritual crisis" counselor on a weekly basis as well. They have both proved helpful. I am also still on the medication and have a strong support system of family around me.

-------------------------------------------------------

2 days ago, I had to finish an end-of-term paper on Postmodernism, which brought up ideas of nihilism, fatalism, hard determinism, and non-self. I was not ready to delve back into these topics, and they quite frankly opened up a firehose of "dirty" fear and heartbroken rage. Now, I feel somewhere in between apathy, and not feeling like my life means anything. I'm quite sad and frustrated. The thought "why does it have to be this way?" keeps playing on repeat.

My illusion that life is in my control was shattered, though I'm still clinging to it for dear life. I learned that I am not myself, and it finally clicked that I'm not the actor. I don't get to choose, and that terrifies the hell out of me. I don't know how or why I would want to live this life anymore, and that makes me even more scared.  If not for my loved ones and cherished time with them, and the goal to continue helping others and lightening others' suffering, I would have no reason to live. I know that this non-self is true, and the emptiness is true, and the impermanence is true, and I wish I could go back to unseeing, but I feel like I can't go back to ignorance, or choosing to believe something else (especially confusing now with the realization that I'm not choosing).  Do I really have no control in this universe?

I'm sure many of you have experienced this hell and agony, and I don't know how to deal with it. I feel like I need to begin sitting again to get through it, but I'm also terrified of bringing up more stuff too quickly, because this has been incredibly difficult for my wife, my family, and others who are having to watch me suffer. I feel like I need help but no one can help me. I am scared because I also feel the need to be a solid rock for my wife right now. I can tell her depression is getting worse while watching me suffer. I don't feel like I can be strong for anyone right now, much less myself. I feel like my inner child is crying and he finally got to the point that he's so miserable I don't think I have the strength to keep comforting him for much longer.

I know I can't escape this stuff, but I also feel unable to go straight through it safely. I don't know what to do. I just want someone who knows what it's like to tell me it will be okay.

Sorry for dumping all of this emotion. But I feel seriously disconnected (borderline disassociated) and I don't know who to talk to other than my wife, but I don't want to burden her with more of this. My parents are both out of town and it feels scary being on our own right now. 

Thanks for any help you can give--I'm not going to give up on my search for more love and compassion.
Jared

PS:  One thing I'm noticing is the general trend of the emotions I've experienced since February started as anxiety, fear, and panic attacks/fight or flight. Then it was intense sadness and grief (though not a depressed feeling). The last couple of weeks were super angry and still grieving (also not depressed). And now, I just feel depressed and like need it all to go away. Thankfully, it seems to come and go in waves, and it's not pure agony. But how can I get strong enough to handle this?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 1:36 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 1:36 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 2436 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Thank you for sharing. 
Except your religious experience I've had a similar journey! 

Basically lovely meditation for a few years, very healing and then BOOM!!! All went to rotten shit emoticon 

Its good to understand that once you hit the Dukkha Nanas/Dark Night there is no way back" so to speak. One has only one option and that is to "go" Right Here into each and every experience with utter Acceptance. One after the other, they arise and pass away. 

When you say you did Mental Noting, did you do so rather at fast pace and for at least 45 minutes per session without much laps in mindfulness? 
I find this to be very important. 

By fast I mean 1-5 sensation per second for the duration of the whole sit (such speed and curiosity also aids in concentration) So really engaged into the mind stream that's unfolding. 
Can you please tell us more in detail how you practiced Mental Noting! Have you labelled it, what was your labelling speed, did it change and if so how fast would it be then ... the more you can share the better suggestion we all can give you. 

Im sure more members will join in to help. 

Best wishes to you Jared! 
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 2:20 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 2:12 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Thanks for the reply Papa! I appreciate your words of comfort and wisdom.

  I maybe misunderstand what noting is, but in my understanding of it, I was labeling thoughts or feelings, "anger," "fear," "judgment" etc. before letting them go and returning attention to the concentration on the body scan. So in that sense, I would say my noting was once a second, sometimes less, sometimes a bit more, but it was not the primary concentration of my meditation. Most of my sits were full-body scans where I  focus on the scan, or I would fade the scan into a "concentrated" open awareness (if that makes sense), acknowledging arising thoughts, sensations and emotions gently and letting them go. I'm sorry, I never learned a lot of the technical jargon, so I'm not sure if I'm saying it properly. I was mostly self-taught with a smattering of ideas from the Headspace app and 10% Happier. Though I have been researching like a madman since I found this site.

I sometimes struggled with attention wandering and distraction--rarely physical, mostly emotional: stress, anxiety, impatience, craving to look at my phone. But I'd say a good amount of sits, I would sit for 45 minutes or more without being distracted. Other days were worse and I would have 45 minutes of complete distraction and frustration, though most of the time, I got through this and found the mindfulness towards the end of the sit. I feel that my concentration might not be very stable, and somehow I stumbled into insight without developing as much concentration. But that is just my inexperienced theory, so I'm sure someone else would be able to make a better judgment.
Will G, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 12:43 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 5:38 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 26 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey Jared,

I've had many similarly difficult experiences along the path, although I was never hospitalized for anything, and my curiosity would usually get the better part of me when it came to new experiences. I came to associate them with some kind of 'progress' of insight, which was my main goal for many years. I also developed a kind of perverse appreciation for the creepiness of some of these experiences as aesthetic phenomena, but my life circumstances were very different from yours and I never really needed to be anyone's rock.

I would say the approach to how you move on will depend what your goal is. It sounds like on some level you've already had some deep insight and there won't be much turning back, and you seem to have had a healthy relationship with sitting practice in the past. Whenever things felt like they were getting out of hand in my practice, usually, as you pointed out, due to more insight than concentration, I would do shamatha practice exclusively for a few days (Culadasa's TMI is a good reference for this) as a kind of refuge, and ease off anything that looked more like noting or inquiry.

I'm also afraid to say, if you move forward and keep making 'progress', that the creepiness is kinda there to stay and will likely only get creepier. But the flipside is a strange kind of freedom, the breadth and depth of which is difficult to express, like its on a different magnitude than all of your life circumstances. Getting used to insights into lack of agency/control is like the ultimate anti-fragility practice. When properly integrated, these experiences come to feel neither like control nor lack of it. I would also say these insights haven't really answered any questions of the 'why should I go on living?' Or 'what should I do with my life?' variety, but maybe they will help clarify them in time? And maybe in part they have made answering them feel more or less irrelevant, although I still get bouts of reactionary affective tantrums that are mostly endearing.

Hope that helps!

Will
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 6:20 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 6:20 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Jared,

The kind of meditation induced psychotic break you describe is typical of people who have suffered trauma in the past and later start focusing intensely on the body. I had a similar thing at one point where I experienced extreme temporary episodes of depersonalization. Over time they became less intense and less frequent as I accustomed to the experience and learned to become more aware of what is going on in my body.
 
The common reaction to trauma is to disconnect from the painful feelings in the body and find escape in troublesome thought and behavior patterns. But the pain doesn’t go away, it gets stuck in the body and forms a tight knot, waiting to get triggered later by meditation or drugs or another traumatic experience or flashback. The key is to ground yourself (food, nature, exercise, friendship, sex etc.) and then slowly return to practice, being very gentle with yourself and backing off when things get too intense, slowly figuring out your limits and learning to respect what your body is telling you. This is the opposite of what happened to traumatized kids and adults, when they were taught to ignore what was happening to them and pretend that everything was ok.

There’s lots of good books and videos on YouTube about recovering from trauma. Google Gabor Mate or Peter Levine or “The Body Keeps The Score”. There’s also inner child work, eg books by John Bradshaw and Alice Miller, and this can be combined with meditation in some kind of “trauma informed mindfulness”.

It’s also common for people to get stuck on ‘form is emptiness’ for a while, fixated on emptiness and turning it into a kind of depression or anhedonia or nihilism. This is also typically a symptom of emotional repression, and resolves with release of old trauma and greater all round awareness of emotions. The flip side is ‘emptiness is form’. Emptiness is not an existing “thing” in and of itself, it’s just another property of form - lack of an inherent stable identity. But that doesn’t mean all form is bullshit. If nothing has any ultimate meaning, then everything is equally meaningful. There is as much beauty and meaning in a single blade of grass or tear drop as the works of Shakespeare or Bach. When you connect deeply with your own emotional pain, you gain a deep appreciation of the beauty and pleasure inherent in the “mundane” experience of life itself, precisely because it is so transient.
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 8:14 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 8:14 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 1760 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Nice, I can tell those words came from experience and your heart!
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 11:26 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 11:13 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Thanks for your recommendation on Culadasa's TMI. I will look into beginning more of this shamatha practice. Are body scans, noting, both inquiry practices? (Also, as for the "goal" for me--I have a couple: Immediate goal: alleviate suffering so it stops effecting my off-cushion life. Long term goal: I want to heal myself so that I can support and heal others)
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Hmm, the experiences themselves were maybe "creepy," but I actually enjoyed them as well. As you said, there was a kind of perverse appreciation. So that didn't bother me too much. What bothered me was the emotions of fear and physical reaction of the body: high-alert sympathetic nervous system response, clutching/emotional bricks lodging themselves in my body in various places, and the all-around "doom of annihilation" that followed (presumably my sense of identity being threatened). I'm assuming that through the "creepiness" stays, as I let go of the resistance to emotions (and learn to sit with them skillfully), my relationship with them will change, and they won't create as much suffering in the body/brain. Is that the case?
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Also, people keep alluding to some sort of self that remains: the "thing/nothing" that is watching all of this happen. Meaning in the process of the DN, the self no longer becomes the primary mechanism of seeing the world. In that disintegration of self, the viewer remains. What is the viewer? Is it pure consciousness? Is there anything that can even be said to explain it? Or is it just something I have to experience to understand?
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 11:31 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 11:31 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Sorry, this is probably a dumb question, but it just came to my brain. I am afraid that if I am not me, then what does it mean to have a "heart?"  In the depths of my being, I want to live a life of deep compassion and love. But I feel like I'm losing these parts of myself as I separate further from my sense of identity. I guess what I'm asking is where is the love coming from? Is it the self? Is it the "person"? Or is it something deeper that I won't be able to understand? It pains me to think that in some ways I'm giving up my ability to deeply empathize with other people.
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 11:54 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 11:54 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Thanks for your generous response George,

​​​​​​​It sounds like you're suggesting that my experience of suffering might be largely caused by trauma. Maybe that trauma is multiplying with the insights of the dark night to create a more hellish experience? 
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I can definitely see how this could be the case--but I feel like a lot of my trauma is integrated (through EMDR and somatic experience therapy). At least I no longer suffer flashbacks and day-to-day my parasympathetic nervous system is my default state. Maybe the dark night/meditation brings up deeper levels of those traumas--getting closer to the root causes of fear?
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Thanks for the recommendations on books, I will have to check those out! I also love inner child work, it's been a go-to over the past few months, and until recently, it was immensely healing. Recently it feels like because "I" don't exist, I'm not strong enough to give that love to my inner child, and that's been the hardest realization of "no agency." Who is comforting the inner child if "I" am not?
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I also love your explanation in the last paragraph. That deeply resonated with me. Thank you. emoticon
Will G, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 12:22 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 12:20 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 26 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Noting and body scanning are concentration practices and so is shamatha, but for many the latter has a lower likelihood of leading to destabilizing insight experiences, or at least seems to facilite their occurence in the context of a more stable kind of calm/abiding, because it isn't so focused on deconstructing sensory experience. Periodic high-alert nervous system reactions seemed to have been kind of inevitable for me following certain insight experiences, but shamatha is a good thing to master to cultivate a sense of connection, if not ownership, to your body and senses. The emotional reactions of fear, anxiety and the like mostly subsided for me over time and with habituation, and they would usually only stick around for a few days at a time during DN cycling. I can't really speak on more trauma-related emotional reactions, but I would assume these might stick around for longer. I don't know if that's your case. 

It can sometimes viscerally seem like there is something watching sensations arise and pass, but an important insight is that the these sensations themselves are their own knowledge, there is no knower, be-er, experiencer of them, and the feeling that there is is a kind of reification, a split-second echo of the knowledge(sensation) that claims ownership over it. Catching some glimpse of this is often a trigger of no-self experiences including lack of agency. It can be somewhat comforting to remind yourself that you aren't altering your perception when this occurs, and that you aren't losing anything, but that you're just seeing the way things have always in fact been, even in times where you've felt the most like your self. 

There are experiences in which it can feel like you are pure conscioussness, or a kind of disembodied viewer. These are valid experiences, and can also feel remedially comforting when some part of your conceptual vision of yourself falls away. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 2:14 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 2:14 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 6428 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Awakening does not take away love or compassion or empathy. It doesn't even take away your sense of self. It just allows you to be less invested in a too narrow and nearsighted perspective. 
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 2:37 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 2:37 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
This just clicked for me. Thank you so much for your help Linda.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 3:10 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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I'm glad! 
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 3:10 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 3:10 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Can someone explain this quotation that I just found on Reddit?:

We learn to give up expectations in order to be free of Fear, we learn to give up animosity and dislike in order to be free of Misery, we learn to give up rejection in order to be free of Disgust, and we learn to give up separation and cultivate intimacy in order to be free of the feeling of Get Me The Fuck Out Of Here!!!
I'm a bit confused about what this means. particularly the last part about "giving up separation and cultivating intimacy" but I don't know if I've experienced any of these (formally) other than Fear. It's hard to self-diagnose.
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 5:29 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 5:29 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 4417 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Maybe the person who wrote that was trying to be cute. I can't quite get it, either.
Adi Vader, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 9:39 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 9:39 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 118 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hi Jared

I am the author. I use similar metaphorical language and heuristics in my writing in multiple posts and comments on reddit.
I think this particular comment comes from the first part of a 3 part series that I had written:

https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/o19kpo/vipassana_the_progress_of_insight_part_1_anitya/
Bullet point #13 in the description of the PoI as it plays out for a yogi following a practice plan that uncovers innsights in the sequence of shunyata, anitya, dukkha, anatma

If you go to the bottom of that post, you will see a link to parts 2 and 3. I have explained the raw mechanics of how to 'do' what is written about in your quoted comment. Here's a link:
https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/osqhcg/vipassana_the_progress_of_insight_part_3_dukkha/

The metaphorical language is just that ... a metaphor for communicating. It makes sense not as some kind of a conceptual representation of the way things are, but only as tips and pointers to give direction to practice.

A few more links that might help contextualize the quote. I do hope I do not confuse you any further:

https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/r85dbh/comment/hn70291/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
​​​​​​​https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/kz8xx0/comment/h5190qu/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
Adi Vader, modified 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 9:41 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/9/22 9:41 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 118 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
I don't have to try I actually am cute! I am a sexy beast to be honest emoticon emoticon
Richard C, modified 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 1:10 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 1:10 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 3 Join Date: 2/12/17 Recent Posts
Friend Jared, 

I feel very sorry to hear of your current condition and the following brief words are only meant to help you, if possible, to overcome your present difficulties. If you don't like it then just forget about it and try to be happy. 

The Buddha often said his teaching is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end. If one experiences such great suffering in trying to follow what you may think is 'Buddhism' then it is a sure sign that you do not have the prerequisite knowledge to proceed with such suffering. Buddha's cannot lie so the fault must be in ourselves. The philosophy of 'Dark Night' is not a teaching of the Buddha and is only a means to try and justify to ourselves our difficult experiences caused by our own incomplete knowledge of the true teachings of the Buddha. So, it seems that you do not have a good background in the Buddha's teachings since you are experiencing such profound suffering in trying to follow what you have picked up here and there as Buddhism.

My first piece of advice to you is to stop all meditation practices that you are doing because meditation practice is not magic. In the Buddha's Pali Suttas/Discourses he explains how he came to be enlightened, and it was not by meditation alone, but mostly by contemplation of Dhamma/Objective Reality and gaining deep insight into it. Meditation was simply an aid to this process, which allowed him to be undistracted and to experience certain states that confirmed his insights with a strong steady imperturbable mind. But after his enlightenment he taught that one should first study by hearing and discussing his teachings until one attains Right Understanding, which results in Right View of Dhamma/Objective Reality. Without this Right Understanding many try to follow the path of meditation and that can lead to the abstract experience of the separation of one's body and mind, and many other abstract states which can be very disorienting and lead to psychotic break down for some people. Therefore, it is important to have ones understanding firmly rooted by Right Understanding, which results in taking the first step on the 8-Fold Path. This is the attainment of the first level of Noble Discipleship know as Hearing Entry (not the wrong translation of Stream Entry). Of course today with have printed books, which can serve the same purpose as sitting with the Buddha or his advanced disciples and hearing a discourse on Dhamma/Objective Reality. In the Buddha's time where he lived they did not have written words, but followed an oral tradition. 

See the following excerpt from the Middle Length Discourses, Sutta 43, Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of ‘Mahāvedalla Sutta’, which is a discourse by Sariputta the Buddha's chief disciple:


13. “Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?”

“Friend, there are two conditions for the arising of right view: the voice of another and wise attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view.” 

14. “Friend, by how many factors is right view assisted when it has deliverance of mind for its fruit, deliverance of mind for its fruit and benefit, when it has deliverance by wisdom for its fruit, deliverance by wisdom for its fruit and benefit?” (NOTE: These two are the two factors that the Buddha describes as being a liberated being with 'deliverance by wisdom' being completely liberated. While 'deliverance of mind' means complete mastery of one's mind.)

“Friend, right view is assisted by five factors when it has deliverance of mind for its fruit, deliverance of mind for its fruit and benefit, when it has deliverance by wisdom for its fruit, deliverance by wisdom for its fruit and benefit. Here, friend, right view is assisted by virtue, learning, discussion, serenity, and insight. Right view assisted by these five factors has deliverance of mind for its fruit, deliverance of mind for its fruit and benefit; it has deliverance by wisdom for its fruit, deliverance by wisdom for its fruit and benefit.” (NOTE: Notice how 'learning' and 'discussion' come before 'serenity'. The pali word here for 'serenity' is 'samatha', and this is the word Buddha uses to describe the Four Jhanas or main meditation levels that he taught. There are 5 additional formless attainments, but these are just perfections of the Fourth Jhana)

Right View frees one from the first Three Fetters (of ten total): 
  1. Existing Body View or viewing one's body as a real permanent thing and as oneself (Pali: sakkāya-diṭṭhi as sat(k)/existing, kāya/body, diṭṭhi/view)
  2. Doubt about the Buddha's enlightenment knowing the true view of Dhamma/Objective Reality (vicikicchā)
  3. Attachment to the sickness of speculative views (sīlabbata-parāmāsa)
These Three Fetters are overcome by understanding the Three Universal Characteristics (anicca, dukkha, anatta) to be understood as follows: 
  1. All things are constantly changing (anicca as constant change)
  2. This causes bad results as mental and bodily suffering (dukkha as du(k)/bad, kha/result)
  3. The body and its related experiences are non-self (anatta as an/non, atta/self)
So, from this we can understand rightly that all things including our own bodies are constantly changing, which in our case leads to our bad results of old age, disease, and death. Thus, we can understand that anything that is temporary and that we do not have total control over cannot be our self. Trying to find a self in this ever-changing body and its sensual experiences is like trying to step in the same water twice in a rushing stream. When one understands this basic teaching then one lets go of one's own existing body view. Now one sees that what the Buddha is teaching is universally correct and thus one no longer accepts speculative views, but only the true facts of the Right View of Dhamma/Objective Reality. One thus makes the first step on the 8-Fold Path and is bound to free your mind from suffering as described in the Sutta quotation above as 'Deliverance (Liberation) of Mind'. Now the rest of the path is followed in order with Right Samadhi or meditation being the last or eighth step. The development of concentration through meditation at this step gives one the ability to remove the other 7 fetters by the deep introspection leading to 'Deliverance (Liberation) by Wisdom (Understanding)', and not just some sudden magic through meditation. Thus, you can now go from incomplete knowledge to complete knowledge of Dhamma/Objective Reality. 

This is a very brief explanation to help you understand the problem with the approach you have taken so far, and that has led you into such difficulty. I hope you can now calm you mind and start the correct way of practice starting with a thorough study of the Buddha's teachings in the Suttas to give you the necessary solid ground upon which to make your stand with confidence and peace of mind to accomplish your goal of ending your suffering born of incomplete knowledge resulting in Dukkha/Bad Results . 
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Griffin, modified 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 2:34 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 2:34 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
Did you practice somatic experiencing before of after your crisis? Can it help you with your dark night situation?
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 8:48 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 8:41 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 4417 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Sure - and that paragraph you wrote requires translation  emoticon
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 2:50 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 2436 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Thanks Jared! 

Yes all you say makes a sense. 

I see you are getting more replies and with it different suggestions and angles on maybe how to continue from where you are. 

My suggestion is to ponder all suggestions you get and then go with the one which feels most natural to you. Once you know which way you want to pursue then maybe starting a journal here could be a good way to light up this part of your journey which seems to be on the unpleasant side of things (very normal in this line of insight meditation ). This way you can describe your se date meditation experience and members can chime in with support and tips along the way. 

May you be free from suffering, may you awaken, may you be happy.
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 7:07 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 7:07 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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Thank you for your words of wisdom. I found them very helpful. How will I know when I am sufficiently knowledgeable about these Suttas? And what does reading through them actually entail? Understanding them backwards and forwards in the depths of my mind?
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 7:12 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 7:12 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Thanks Papa, 

​​​​​​​Very wise words and I will do as you said to contemplate over which path might be best. Your recommendation to start a journal sounds like a really good idea!
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/10/22 7:17 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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After, and yes, the intense crying, shaking and other body tension releases seem to ease up the suffering as I process some of these realizations. The knowledge that my wife and brother were going to be separated hit me like a truck. I cried for 3 hours and got angry and punched my bed, but afterwards there was a definite lightness, and even now, the fear of losing my brother and wife are still there, though much less heavy and I sense less clinging.
Chrollo X, modified 2 Months ago at 4/11/22 11:04 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/11/22 11:04 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 56 Join Date: 1/11/22 Recent Posts
Don't worry about reading the suttas bro. The Buddha and his diciples didn't have suttas to go off of. Definitely read about the Eightfold Path though: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html

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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/12/22 8:46 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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Thanks for the suggestion! emoticon
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/13/22 6:30 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/13/22 6:30 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Inner resolutions such as "I can get through this, I can be strong, I can handle this.. " don't seem to stick up against the face of no self and dissolution of my identity. It seems like when I see no self and emptiness, any concept of self-affirmations wash away. (Particularly hard because my wife and I built our life around these).  How do I integrate this? Is it about letting go of control? I just don't want to fuck up my life while coming to these realizations...
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 4/13/22 6:45 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/13/22 6:45 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Your life is going to be fine. It's just your mind freaking out, a bunch of noisy thoughts that's all. Notice everything about your experiece that is ok - you have adequate food, shelter and safety hopefully, and a solid partnership. You are still breathing and your body is still there.
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/13/22 7:40 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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Thanks, I keep overthinking this stuff like crazy. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/13/22 9:10 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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 He might breathe and nothing on the outside is wrong...
...but the issue is that he has tired neurons. For neurons this is the biggest issue of all issues!
Rational arguments won't do because experienced distress is due to real issue, not imaginary.

And to think he could experience 3rd jhana bliss, literally bliss with every thought or move of his body.
It is at least what such DN can be experienced at if he let go of his current mind and allowed himself to experience blissful mind instead. Blissful like in "cannot imagine how blissful this feels like!"

Tested it numerous times, it always works. Depending on the level of tiredness mind might still feels somewhat broken but blissful and it recovers very quickly, like one two days. If person clings to used mind its like torture for it and the only things it gives is making the whole thing drag on for days or even weeks/months/years, generates tons of dukkha and then hard to overcome trauma. Might make person's mind avoid using pathways which caused it but then its just functionality loss. Most probably due to neuron's just dying.

No matter what is experienced and how it always feels right as long as neurons in use (active) are not tired. By tired I literally mean tired, overheating, lacking neuro-transmitters, starving of atp, with need to do maintenance, etc. There are many reasons why neurons might not want to be active. With so many neurons we do not need to force any neurons to do work when they do not want to. There are always neurons which want to be active and those which do not want to be active. For neurons activity is pleasure when they are ready for it. It is also suffering when they do not want to be active.

I find 'pragmatic' part of 'pragmatic dharma' completely ridiculous if the most pragmatic thing we as community can focus on is some idiotic self/no-self question which Buddha answered clearly as "too stupid, not gonna talk about it" by being silent and for actual issues best answer is "go to therapy" and "need to suffer... and not forget to suffer more by being super conscious of your suffering" because apparently something will click and because we call that insight (despite obviously there being zero useful knowledge!) and some people because they tortured themselves managed to arrive at some mind state they claim to be superior we should also just blindly follow this idea. Sure it might be superior but all these practices are in direct violation of 3rd fetter, they are ascetic practices.

All this suffering can be avoided by practicing simple things like eg. changing how hand feels like. Numerous ways hand can be felt, many types of bliss. When DN arise trying different ways how everything feels like until the one which is using part of mind which is not tired is found and it is it, no more dukkha in DN. Also learning how to cease activity that currently happens is learned with such practice because if person is to learn how to make experience of hand blissful they would need to know how to stop current activity by not continuing it otherwise they would not be able to do any jhanic experiences this way. Especially when moving hand. It requires knowing how to do jhanic mind that is actually useful for samadhis because if person can make hand movements jhanic they will be able to do any action jhanic, make whole waking awareness jhanic.

Simple stuff, as pragmatic as could be. This is what people should learn to do and not waste time on some pseudo-spiritual nonsense. Then when person is sure to have good enough skills related to changing minds the only realization needed is 'sense of self is like hand, can be also made jhanic' and person would then change how their sense of self feels like. There, issue with sense of self fixed.

Alternatively one can traumatize oneself to force mind to be so afraid of sense of self to not show itself, especially when they believe bunch of nonsense about no-self. Same with how DN after lots of such traumatic cycles becomes less bothersome. I do not however think this is pragmatic. It is torture. Torture on purpose but the purpose here is not due to anyone's choice but out of pure ignorance. I am myself guilty of torturing myself in exactly the same ways but I also see and admit this was not the smartest thing. At least I was just doing tests and not only tested this approach but others too.

BTW. Nothing against you George. From what you say it seems your nervous system figured this stuff out even if you cannot formulate insights. Just had to get my frustration out of my system because frustrated neurons which wrote this were the ones not tired. They realized they were tired on Monday. Even quite a bit tired, up to 6th nana, it at one point started to be quite unpleasant. Realizing this I quickly changed experience to jhanic bliss and experienced this for two days instead of bothering tired neurons. Today fully rested the same neurons realized that some other neurons still experience senseless suffering because state of 'insight' during forsaken dharma ending age is absolutely pathetic and no one seems to know anything about anything anymore.

In any case if I sound like spouting nonsense then you dear people please go on and suffer as much as you need. Suffer hard and deep and then there will eventually maybe be a click and suffering will not arise anymore. To make it work better focus on experiencing relief from suffering. That always work to make suffering return much stronger until something dies and it does not return anymore. I do not say this is not an option and that it cannot work like that. It can. I just say this option is unskillful and dukkha and neurological damage can be avoided. Also have a nice day and most importantly nice nights!

@Jared
If you cannot do it skillfully with jhanas and switching use pathways then at least find good distractions. Watch netflix or something where brain is not necessary.

But since you managed to get yourself in to DN I think you should be able to end it if you actually follow instructions: best recognize all actions are unpleasant and empty your mind by not adding to anything, not even trying to stop anything. And definitely ignore any sensations that feel like if you do it you will experience relief. These help for short time and otherwise only strengthen connections to exactly this part of your nervous system which is tired. Just close eyes, look at what is happening and do absolutely nothing at all. Suffering might become slightly louder (with less stuff in mind which amount decrease due to not continuing activities) but it should not actually make suffering feel more 'bad'. Rather than freaking you experience dukkha as louder endure it for a while. If you do then you should start experiencing blissful sensations. Let them clarify and then slowly shift to this blissful mind but with as little action as possible and without navigating toward relief. Once blissful mind established itself enough add some metta and then just keep experiencing bliss. Do not at any moment give in to anything you could call 'relief', and this includes desire to check when you start experiencing bliss if the mind you experienced still experiences dukkha. Just ignore any relief. Experiencing bliss has nothing to do with experiencing relief. Bliss is there simply because it is different part/mode of nervous system and it might be pretty strong because mind will try to keep itself focused on this different part and not slide back to the part which is tired.

As for self, no-self, identity etc. it is all non important. The less you think about this stuff the better. The whole notion about identity in dharma is result of unenlightened people running things for generations. Avoid relief, experience bliss and when you feel your mind is healthy (hint: currently you are very sick) then ponder about nature of self, no-self, identity, etc. to your heart content. Now you should enter safe mode and limit thoughts to bare minimum. Better take this seriously as you do not want brain damage no matter what anyone says.

In any case if you cannot end DN in five minutes then take as long as it is needed. Just do not panick and try as much as you need. In either case even if you fail to end anything it is emptying mind, stopping actions, avoiding relief that is needed for DN to pass. Rather than 'being mindful' I say 'avoid relief' because it is relief that caused mind to not be mindful. As soon as you start giving in to relief you become distracted by all sorts of things. Rather than continuing it and struggling to become mindful just stop focusing on relief, ignore it and mind will be mindful by itself. It won't have anywhere to go than where it is, you will notice everything that happens in gruesome details. The details here will also include all the ways to end DN. In this case pleasant mind which you can shift to and change this hell to little piece of heaven. And again, when you start experiencing different mind which is pleasant ignore anything related to relief and with it remain focused and mindful.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 1:12 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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You and your fucking neurons Ni! emoticon I dont mind you blabbing on and on about it as it's a free forum, but I hope your gibberish doesn't confuse new members like Jared here. 
The worst feel I get from your replies Ni is the "my way or highway!" attitude! emoticon 

Btw, Buddha did not teach Jhana but freedom from ALL fabricated conditions including jhanas. 
Needing to resort to jhanas to remove Dukkha is like reaching all the time for painkillers emoticon If this was Buddhas teaching then why not all just smoke hash all the time and "don't worry be happy" emoticon 

I suggest you give more space to members who are sharing about their experience and let them show the way they feel to proceed with instead of shoving "my way or high way" approach onto them. 

So emoticon excuse me for blabbing so much and going off topic emoticon I will now retreat back into my cave! "Do not Disturb" 
Chrollo X, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 8:24 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 8:24 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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Whoa, I didn't know jhanas were used to avoid life. I thought they were for wisdom.
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Sigma Tropic, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 9:53 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 9:34 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 326 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
There is a notion in this forum and in pragmatic dharma of "suffer through it and be open to experience" and people seem to be masochists here- I'm sorry, it's not noble to suffer in ignorance. You don't get points for suffering and just letting yourself suffer, and continuing to just let suffering happen. If suffering continues you have ignorance and delusion. If suffering keeps popping up you have ignorance.

Ni Nurta is talking about ending suffering in the moment. That is what the Buddha was talking about as well. Pragmatic dharma on the other hand seems to think "I can't do anything- I just have to learn to accept my suffering and be mindful of the sensations" . Well yes that's technically right but if you keep suffering - you're not doing it right - your mindfulness is not effective.

f you're doing it right then experience of any suffering can and is transformed into jhanic bliss in the moment, and if one does that and also has clear comprehension of jhanic mind, normal mind, suffering mind, the difference, how to change one into the other, etc.

Learning about suffering and it's causes is actually learning so you learn how to end the causes of suffering on a moment-by moment basis. If you're suffering and understand your mind and how it works then you will say to yourself "hmm, I'm suffering, this sucks, I don't like this, I don't want to suffer. ... maybe I should pay attention to the sensations...." Then your mind (if you learned anything from all the meditation) your (well trained) mind will have mindfulness and clear comprehension. Mind stuff is all mind stuff. Mind right now is creating dukkha. Oh right- meditation - enlightenment ok let's do this.

My personal experience is that sometimes I would end up in a suffering state. I fell asleep and was ignorant but now I'm suffering so that wakes me up. And look at the sensations,and they all change and I just pay attention to the sensations and mind is free of hindrances so as I'm paying attention there is mindfulness and clear comprehension going on, in the moment, and factors of awakening thus arise, thus jhana, thus Nibanna, thus end of dukkha. Someone who understands mind nature will have 5 min experience of dukkha nana-like thing tranforming into bliss.
​​​​​​​ 
In Jarad's case a layman's understanding of how mind works is fine, he can do the common sense thing and put feet on grass no socks, pet a kitty, watch some netflix, etc. Then when neurons have rested and are not overused and over stressed - people do lots of ineffective things that don't let their neurons rest. You should know when your brain is rested and healthy then you can ponder no self and all that. But it's not gonna do you any good right now when there are more basic issues happening. This kind of mind state is not healthy, at the very least if I were Jarad I would do the following:
 
  •      Give wife some attention (hint hint Jarad)
  •      Eat a good meal
  •      Stop thinking about philosophical nonsense that's making you suffer
     
Chrollo X, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 9:57 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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And letting neurons rest is basically mindfulness practice/meditation ?
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 10:25 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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@sigmatropic Okay, I did some basic research on Jhana practice--I hadn't heard of this. I do think there could be a lot of benefits to introducing it to my practice. Currently, my practice was body scans with noting, largely centered on the 3C's when they arose (I'm assuming the way I'm doing it is more insight-based?). What is a practical introduction of jhana training that won't lead as much towards the 3C's but will lead more towards the generation of these higher concentration states/blissful states? (TMI? Or the candle concentration? or something else entirely, such as the hand practice mentioned by Ni Nurta?)

And what's the business with the neurons @ninurta?  It's interesting but I'm not totally sure what you're recommending in terms of practice. Do you have any books or articles to recommend on the subject, or is this all coming from your experience?

@che I really appreciate your reply. I find these opposing views extremely helpful in my understanding and I'm grateful for all of your wisdom and help. There's something about the "feel the sensation" approach that is also very appealing, as sometimes, my desire is just to "plow" through it all and get it over with. Let's feel these goddamn emotions and get it done with!

I haven't been meditating (recommendation based on my psychiatrist and teacher/counselor), so I don't know if this is supposed to happen. But I feel as though I'm voluntarily pointing myself in the direction of things that "trigger" my suffering. And each time I do, something in me resolves or releases. For example, the idea of impermanence with my family members at first sent me into intense panic, fear, misery, and sorrow. Now, it feels bittersweet. On some level, I can appreciate and study it all around me. My presence with them feels more beautiful and I know that this moment is ultimately the most precious thing.  However, lots of variations of my fears are still not released, but much less painful. For example, non-self on some level is accepted, but when I get into no agency (which is the next obvious connection for me) that's where things are currently painful. However, each time I face them down head-on, I feel better. Does that make sense? It's almost like my own form of therapy that's extremely painful, but it feels as though I'm processing my trauma/"relationship-with-the-dissolution-of-self" a little bit at a time.
Chrollo X, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 11:07 AM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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Does samatha make awakening faster or slower in your experience Sigma? What have you seen when people or yourself put all their energy into just vipassana/noting/choiceless awareness? 
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Sigma Tropic, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 1:07 PM
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RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

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Chrollo X
Does samatha make awakening faster or slower in your experience Sigma? What have you seen when people or yourself put all their energy into just vipassana/noting/choiceless awareness? 

Samatha makes things faster when it's balanced with vipassana. I think the two are inseparable, co-dependent phenomena. Insight directly makes samatha practice easier. TMI stage 10 for example, is the perfection of the blend of samtha and vipassana. A person who is truly in stage 10 will be already awakened to a significant degree and full awakening is imminent and inevitable the longer they have their mind in that state. 

I think people can do dry insight and get stream entry rather quickly compared to the more gradual cultivation of samatha-vipassana. I only know my own experience, and it seems like having both is the best, and if I had to choose samatha or vipassana if I had 6 months to live and I wanted to awaken before I die here's what I would do: Vipassana because once you get stream entry then you're safe and you can bliss out all you want your mind will vipassanize the jhanas, that's a huge chunk of what I did. I think a good route is noting up until stream entry if that's a practice that resonates, then learn jhanas after cessation (in the review phase it will be stupid easy) and then a sotapanna can do any and all practices whatever they want. Their mind will wake up no matter what they do, only a matter of how fast. 

The fastest path is having both samatha and vipassana. TMI teaches a blend of samatha and vipassanna and teaches how to train the mind to reach a state of access concentration, on command.  In my experience a good grounding in the fundamentals of working with and overcoming the hindrances is key. This is TMI stage 1-5 practice. Access concentration is TMI stage 6 +.  My observation has been that people will take up the dry insight path and never train in any of the other trainings and that may be why some people have trouble at times. 

I think without the unification of mind that TMI refers to people may cycle up the POI and get cessation like events, but without the unification of mind it seems to be the case that people can have cessations without any insight, without any release of bliss, without any cessation of dukkha - in which case that's not Nibanna probably more like an A&P type event. 

So people who do dry insight will actually develop the faculties of mind that are developed in TMI because noting is a legit mindfulness practice. If you're doing noting correctly (this is where my direct experience is limited so grain of salt time) you will have an experience of "knowing" that goes along with each note, and that experience of having an experience and knowing what you're experiencing is called mindfulness with clear comprehension. This faculty is like metacognitive awareness as taught in TMI. But people seem to not realize the knowing aspect and so they get all obsessed with phenomena themselves and not realize that the knowing is the important part. All the nanas are called nana because nana means "knowledge of". So having a correct experience of dukkha nanas is, for example, feeling the sensations of fear, and knowing fear as fear in real time. You have to know something to verbalize a note or make a mental note. So knowing goes in. With knowing, your mind naturally by it's own physiology, seems to try different ways of resolving the tension between knower and known, and that patterns out as the progress of insight

 Where you get the symptoms of "dark night" i.e. when you ruminate on dreadful concepts and dreadful images and don't know you're doing it (i.e. ignorance, wrong views, etc.), you experience a hell-realm type situation where you're so occupied with the dukkha there is no chance to awaken from it. Luckily for Jared his posting here and contemplating doing something about the suffering, indicates there was some level of "knowledge" going on, so he won't be stuck forever. 

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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 2:11 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 2:11 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 2436 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
An itch, or a fart can also be used for wisdom emoticon even more so maybe emoticon

But yes nothing wrong with Jhana (3C's apply to it as well) however an experience can self-liberate without the need of Jhana. 

If you believe you need Jhana to elevate suffering you are in Bob Marley Land of clinging to a "substance". Clinging (even subtle) leads to Dukkha. 

Jhana is but mind states, showing how God Realms are but a fragile experience , subject to 3C's just as anything else really. 

Jhana is also a very good place to practice Noting with emoticon I love noting the heck out of Jhanas! emoticon Lots of fun! 

I see no way of cleansing the Karma while in Jhana. Karma has to pop out in its full glory and release itself. Jhanas are generally pleasant and some Karmic stuff is not hence will be pushed back, avoided if Jhanas or even Noting are used. At one stage all these tools are but standing in the way of letting the experience self-liberate. 

If one is pre SE, I would suggest work your way past that important point. Choose Jhana or Noting or what have you. Keep at it for at least 6 months before changing. Give any method a good fighting chance before giving up and taking on a new method. 
Keep practicing, keep exhausting the "seeker" until only THIS is left as the only thing, one after the other arise-passing. That's when practice has begun. 

So dont let my words confuse you. Just keep practicing that which drives you best to sit and practice. 

​​​​​​​Best wishes to us all emoticon 
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 2:42 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 2:42 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 4417 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I think the two are inseparable, co-dependent phenomena.


Not to put too fine a point on this but all phenomena are codependent emoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 4:06 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 4:06 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Jared N
And what's the business with the neurons @ninurta?  It's interesting but I'm not totally sure what you're recommending in terms of practice. Do you have any books or articles to recommend on the subject, or is this all coming from your experience?

I am self taught. Need mind to study mind, not books.

Mind is emergent phenomena and substrate is always neurons.
One cannot understand mind without understanding neurons.
Even if you consider mind(s) beyond the one generated by physical body you will still find neurons. Neurons are inescapable, fundamental building blocks of mind and its internal realities. Neurons all the way through!

Practice instructions... do you really need anything other than knowing what you want to achieve?
There are no instructions for your current mind, nothing to do, nothing other than to do absolutely nothing and go to deserved rest by let yourself be replaced. Let some other mind that is also valid part of you have some fun too. In fact if that was not for the mind which want to be experienced you would not suffer so much. There is an important insight about nature of dukkha you might be able to uncover... that doesn't require experiencing dukkha emoticon

All these meditative practices work best when you are already feeling good. Best experience, best results. If you wonder what would be the point then... what is the point in collecting stamps? Make it your hobby rather than delude yourself it is some kind of necessity. Meditation is pleasant. Only reason to do it.

@Papa
Too bad DhO doesn't have signatures. I would put: You and your f**king neurons Ni!
Neurons clicked to type thank for these nice words emoticon

I do not believe in glory from pointless suffering. I also do not believe in no liberation. I have fun uncovering truths of this reality. If it stops being fun I will just know everything.

Also as far as my eyes can see everyone here is also 'my way or high way'. With lots of people more like 'our way or high way'. Besides if you have better advice than 'just experience 3rd jhana bliss instead DN' then please do not keep it secret!

ps. At least I didn't say 'Man, you must really love the drama!'... see, I am improving emoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 4:37 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 4:37 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Chrollo X
And letting neurons rest is basically mindfulness practice/meditation ?
When you have tired mind it will seek any way to give itself some rest eg.
- distractions
- daydreaming
- emotional outbursts
- urge to binge-watch anime

If you want to be mindful all the time having mind which need to seeks distractions might be problematic. If you start forcing yourself to be mindful and make it harder for mind to use its typical means of resting mind you can even hurt yourself. To avoid such issues I recommend more effort should be put in to developing methods that teach people how to rest mind... or just put more emphasis on importance of rest. Of course the kind of rest where you not just get sleepy but tired mind is resting and another arises in its place.

Is mind which switches itself all the time itself mindfulness?
Certainly such mind is naturally mindful. There is nothing to cling to if you change your mind moment to moment. All things arising in mind are very immersive and at the same time do not cause mind to be afraid of them. Moment to moment change is however already 4th path*. Being able to have fruition at will is very helpful. The easier it is done the better for meditation.

That said all this changing minds sound like fruition and yes, this is fruition.
Other than calling fruitions which is something person can really only do after 1st path it is still possible to not cling to mind and let it fade away. It is also possible to ignore the issue having paths and cause oneself needless suffering. Path doesn't instantly give proper insight and proper skills. Not when it is defined as 'fruition happen' rather than eg. 'understand what fruitions are and can do fruition at will'

*) Arhats even though they seem to use different mind states, skills and have different understanding converge to the same basic thing: mind changes moment to moment. There is also certain quality to this change related to what happens with once activated mind when it passes away that improves everything beyond what might happen in earlier paths but it is beyond scope of this post/thread.
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 4:40 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 4:40 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Chris M
Not to put too fine a point on this but all phenomena are codependent emoticon

True, but still some phenomena seems more codependent than others...
Chrollo X, modified 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 8:22 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/14/22 8:22 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 56 Join Date: 1/11/22 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta
Chrollo X
And letting neurons rest is basically mindfulness practice/meditation ?
When you have tired mind it will seek any way to give itself some rest eg.
- distractions
- daydreaming
- emotional outbursts
- urge to binge-watch anime

If you want to be mindful all the time having mind which need to seeks distractions might be problematic. If you start forcing yourself to be mindful and make it harder for mind to use its typical means of resting mind you can even hurt yourself. To avoid such issues I recommend more effort should be put in to developing methods that teach people how to rest mind... or just put more emphasis on importance of rest. Of course the kind of rest where you not just get sleepy but tired mind is resting and another arises in its place.


​​​​​​​Have you discovered some effective methods that can help one rest the mind?
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 4/15/22 8:47 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/15/22 8:47 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 4417 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Ah yes, the ol' spurious codependencies!

emoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/15/22 12:20 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/15/22 12:20 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Chrollo X
​​​​​​​Have you discovered some effective methods that can help one rest the mind?

Simply closing eyes, taking deep breath and then deep outbreath. The kind which causes a kind of vibrations or wave of sensations go through your whole body. While at it do not focus on your mind or dukkha and please do not focus on 'relief'. There will be relief but its not the point to think about relief but to feel good. The point is to empty your mind and get immersed with the breath, become breath. If you do that something in your mind will change and many of the things troubling mind will simply be gone... kinda like if you just exhaled them. Do not focus on the issues and again, forget about experiencing relief. People cling to relief and then wonder why they are miserable emoticon

Anyhow, that is the baseline. Simple breathing.
From there to be more specific and have something to amuse yourself (cause I do not know for you but I absolutely love when I do something and it causes incredible improvements in my mind state, it never gets old for me emoticon) there are two ways to do it with second being more advanced so lets begin with first.

So the goal is to stop activity in your current mind (the one that is tired) and you can actually do it by ceasing any volitional activity in this mind. I purposefully avoid using word 'stop' because it is not about trying to stop anything by acting. So let's imagine you are riding a bike. You can stop by extending your feet on the ground and using friction to stop the movement. This is less this and more about not pedaling anymore. If you cease activity then mind like the bike will eventually loose momentum and stop. It might seem you are already doing nothing to make this mind do all the stuff that is seems to be doing but cease any activity you are doing and just with restful awareness observe what actions in the mind you are still doing. If nothing is seen then simply wait for it while keeping in your mind intent of ceasing your own activities. Eventually it will become more obvious you actually were doing more stuff. If it doesn't stop by itself simply by the intent then seeing how you are acting to make it run you can cease your activity.

When I do it I experience a kind of pressure in all parts of the mind which I ceased activity in. And mind gets filled with this pressure eventually causing whole mind to be just this pressure. If that happen then just keep doing nothing. Keep this inaction even if that not doing was the last thing you will do for the rest of eternity. Acknowledge it that you won't budge even if that was to end whole universe, let alone you. Eventually new mind will arise that is not the mind which ceased its activity. The new mind will not be stopping its activity and won't feel like what was the reason for you wanting to stop activity in the first place. This new mind will replace stopped mind and you won't even know when or how but you will be this new mind. Not you as in that old mind. It won't feel you are the same person. It will feel you are the new mind.

Not sure if that description is what you meant by method but it is definitely effective. I do it like that since I discovered it at 2nd path which at this point is like 9 years ago. And I mean merely formulating it as a method because normally if you cease activity and keep activity ceased then if the activity you ceased was of important faculty then it was always replaced by new mind. Mind here is like whole mind, part of mind, even single stray sensations are caused by some part of mind and can be itself thought as a kind of mind. Anyways, when I was discovering it and formulating it as method then rather than being smooth sailing it was more extreme. I was in my DN, felt like sheet, the kind of sheet with too many formulas in it. Trying to not do anything would be met with issue that I would not know how to do it. Not doing was harder than I anticipated. It would rather cause more activity, or at least it seemed like it. I was persistent and just went at it and treated it like cutting hyrdras heads. Each head I cease activity more heads would arise. The key here is perseverance and not giving up. Each activity I ceased would cause experience of pressure. It is subtle pressure and quite pleasant actually. Mind would get filled with this pressure as I stopped my actions and at some point it seemed like if that continued there would be no place in my mind for the pressure and I would explode or something. I just continued and at some point indeed mind got filled, like 100% of it felt like this pressure and... and once mind ran out of place no more stuff arose. It all felt like it completely blocked itself and nothing more could possibly be done in this mind. I just kept not doing anything and at some point I realized I experience new fresh mind. Not the old one which was kinda still there but once I started looking at things from my new mind it didn't seem old one even existed anymore... and this new mind felt good. It was not the kind of experience I would call Dark Night or dukkha nanas. More like EQ mind.

And in fact I later realized that EQ happens exactly because at some point during 10th nana mind does fill itself in exactly the same way as what I did by volitational non-action. Normally it happens because at some point everything is dukkha so much that mind stops itself, as I call 'recursively'. What I discovered is doing the same action which happens that causes EQ and when done volitionally it also causes EQ.

In practice if you get to 5th nana, Dawn of Dark Night, and notice that you are in dissolution and know that if you continue you will get to unpleasant Dark Night, then even at this point you can do exactly what I described and this will get you straight to Equanimity. And I am dead serious about this. I tested it for literally years. This method worked every single time for anything even remotely close to DN. To be even more sure I not always used it (and truth be told I did not always notice that my experience is 5th nana emoticon) and did it from 6th/7th nana. I do not remember ever getting to 8th ever since knowing how to stop DN. At least not in the sense of full mind nana. Parts of mind I can manage to carry to further nanas due to being heedless emoticon

What can this method also do?
Imagine you are in the bus driving somewhere. After mandatory sleep you wake up and realize you have to wait for next hour or two and it is all extremely BORING. Well, you can stop the mind which is bored in exactly the same way. The mind which will arise will arise because it finds sitting there doing nothing interesting and fun fun fun. It just works.

---------
Second method one is more fancy version of the first one. In it mind would be 'marked' and in an instant replaced by other mind. The marking is done in the same way as before, just with less emphasis on stopping actions and more on self-marking... which is pretty much done by ceasing activity so its the same. It is this pressure that marks mind. The difference here is that in this method it is more about causing pressure in as much mind as possible and then suddenly issue cessation. It is useful because its simpler and quicker to do this marking. In other words mind can mark itself to create this pressure.

When you feel this pressure it is like mind can do anything you want with marked minds all at once like you were referring to single object. 

---------
So those would be the 'methods' I use myself and I am pretty sure they do work to break DN and any other unpleasant things. After my 4th path I mostly used second one. So if I was feeling unpleasantness I would just think about mind marking itself and then would cause its cessation. It worked pretty quickly. If for whatever reason this self-marking didn't work I would get more meditative on it and just slowly methodically cease activity. Once done like that marking would seem to work for this part of mind. Useful for being able to make mind blissful or whatever.

There is also other way to do what I just described but rather than ceasing activity or marking anything it would be calling new mind with intention for old mind to take notice and stop itself. If done like that there will be moment minds switch. It works easier in EQ than DN though.

Yet another action which I learned and which was at one time very useful is a kind of momentary inactivity of mind by a kind of disruption. If you didn't notice everything I am describing works based on intent. Not creating intentions but pure intent. If the intent is for mind to stop its activity for a moment then mind will stop activity for a moment. Just stopping all activity and then resuming it normally. It might be hard to do it few first time but once your mind sees that nothing bad happens when it does that it will be much easier to do it. Just think about it long and hard and try to do it. Just focus on actual cessation of activity and not special effects. It is not about having effects but giving your nervous system momentary break. Moment is very short time, it won't feel like much has happened (or not happened) but when you start introducing such breaks you will notice it having positive effects.

In fact when you learn it you will be able to do them quite often. Even do them in rhythm where experiences should normally arise and with that cause them to not arise. You can for example look at how experience of hand happens and try to cease activity in your hand at exactly the moments sensations of hand would be processed, in the right rhythm. If you get it right it is possible to make yourself not experience most of such experience. In fact it is possible to make yourself not experience body. Touch happens at different times (also in different parts of mind than those you would target to cease background experience of body) so it will still be experienced. If you start breaking experiences with this method they are much likely to arise in the future.

You could for example cease your experience of sense of self with it and if you do it for long enough then no sense of self... in fact it is best to disrupt such things like sense of self. Best aim at the triggers of these experiences along any part of them you find would best not arise. If you do cessation of triggers you will inevitably also have pretty good idea what these triggers are and will be able to trigger these experiences yourself. Like for a single moment. This is useful for any faculty that is in your mind triggered left and right but which itself is useful to have. Like sense of self. By itself its issue is that it happens too much, not that it exists. You might want to have sense of self. I do not know, when dealing with opposite sex I find having sense of self works good. When however being alone sense of self is least useful thing to experience.

And let me repeat it: momentary cessation is not about effects. You will have enough effects when you master this and are able to do cessation of complex experiences and their triggers. Also of course cessation of this kind causes activity to not happen and no activity == rest.

---------
If I blabbered so much in this post then also method for jhanas using hand:
Extend your hand before you (or keep it where it is, doesn't matter really) and look at its experience, the mind which is its experience. Try to find experience of this hand but that is jhanic eg. has 2nd jhana specific piti/sukkha. Literally try to find and experience mind of this hand that is jhanic. Do not try to experience piti/sukkha in your current mind. Do not try to make non-jhanic experiences jhanic. When you find jhanic experiences and can feel bliss when moving fingers just do not think about the non-jhanic mind, do not use it. It should just disappear and you won't even know when and how.

And to repeat yet again: do not try to experience relief. There might be strong desire to experience relief in the mind you are replacing which should just fade away. Just ignore this and proceed with jhanic mind. If you start experiencing relief you will only strengthen current mind and make jhanic one have no place to arise. Relief is the best way to keep mind in place. You can relief it and keep it indefinitely causing neurons to get super tired. This relief I am talking about is itself way to rest neurons but you should not use it because it tires them much more than it provides rest. When vipassana skills reach level high enough that you are able to decompose experiences to its base components you can then check what is part of relief and extract experiences out of it and investigate it in more controlled and systematic way to uncover how it actually works. And if you feel you need to experience it anyways then just have a blast... then you will know why I say to not experience it emoticon There are more skillful ways to do everything that these experiences of relief do and this is pretty much what all these practices I described are for. If this relief thing worked we would not need meditation.

BTW. IF you do not get half of what I wrote then do not worry. Have years for practice. Just try these methods out from time to time and they will bear fruits. The more to the point practice is the more it doesn't need to be done consistently and just done at all because once your mind will get how it works it will be most obvious thing to do. Also all these things I described can be done at any time. If you have nothing better to do eg. when you are forced by someone to watch boring movie you can practice getting jhanic mind and with that invalidate all the efforts of that person to make you miserable ^^
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 10:25 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 10:25 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Ahh, this post is a breath of fresh air: very practical. Thanks for breaking it down! I will try these--and avoid clinging to relief as much as possible. Is this a reasonable summation: Jhana skillful; clinging to relief unskillful?
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 10:30 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 10:30 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 4417 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Just don't cling to jhana  emoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 12:44 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 12:44 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Jhana skillful; clinging to relief unskillful?
Yes that is correct.
Jhana by itself is like pure positivity so cultivating jhanic mind is cultivating yourself being positive and good. It also makes you a better person. Especially pure jhanas. I mean pure jhanas are when your whole mind is jhanic. Should that happen your mind is only able to conclude 'I am satisfied' and you do not want anything else. There is not a single thought of anything better or even jhana ever ending arising. It is very nice experience and very positive. If you experience it often then you are more likely to focus on needs of other people than your own because you yourself do not need anything more. It all feels so bloody perfect you cannot even conceive how perfect it feels emoticon

Definitely clinging to relief is unskillful but I would go even one step further and simply say to try to avoid relief unless experiencing it would be more skillful than not. It is strange thing to say either way but like I said, relief is the first thing that shows up to any party so it won't necessarily always feel like you have to cling to it.

Lets say you look at dukkha and assess possibilities for your next action, there will be subtle indications that what you do next will be for. I say to try to avoid these actions which jump at you and taste of relief on them. Try it out, see what that does. At times its like resigning from certain types of pleasure but jhanas do make up for it. Also in these rare cases when there is actually something specifically in relief which mind needs to experience it will be what shows up. In this case however it will look differently and might actually reveal something about the mind you didn't know if you fall on this experience.

Clinging BTW is just taking default action which is the one that jumps at you. It for normal mind is almost always relief. Hence normal people do not experience jhanas... unless when eg. in love. Person when they are in love, and I mean like real love, do experience jhanas, especially when person they are in love with is part of the experience. At least being in love is where I first experienced jhanas. It didn't work out with the person in question but even more than her I fell in love with the jhanas emoticon

Vipassana is not taking default action but just observing what is there. The experiences which indicate what actions are possible will evolve over time if you do nothing and just observe them. There will be more 'evolution' in experiences your awareness is focusing on and overall it looks like experiences are analyzed down to individual components from which they are made. It is there where eg. jhanic mind arises as an option. Such jhanic mind usually feels like what mind wanted to experience. Its just that what immediately jumps at mind is option to experience relief and finding jhanic mind as an option requires more time... which mind doesn't give to itself if default action is done as soon as it is presented to the mind.

In any way, investigating these kind of things can be done at any time so I recommend checking how this whole 'doer' business works and how choices what mind does next are being made. If you are able to abstain from acting and just observe your mind it will reveal a lot of otherwise hidden possibilities. Then if you start choosing different things than relief these different things will be often presented as default choice.

BTW. Even perception is technically 'doing'. It cannot be delayed by much and certainly decisions would need to be fast fast if for each sensations one would need to decide what to do. It does however work in exactly the same way as when you eg. move your hand. There is decision making process like that for all sensations. It is also why when you involve sense of self with doing it is also in perception. Of course sense of self should not be involved with either doing or perception, its just bad habit people usually learn because it makes sense for them that they should experience themselves doing stuff.

Of course people also identify with sense of self and might be even afraid that it somehow needs to be there or they do not exist and things like that. It always seem so silly in retrospect emoticon

Chris M
Just don't cling to jhana  emoticon

don't cling to Jhana... isn't that called a marriage? emoticon

just joking emoticon
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 1:56 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 1:55 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Of course people also identify with sense of self and might be even afraid that it somehow needs to be there or they do not exist and things like that. It always seem so silly in retrospect

This phrase has never been more relatable. Even though I know what you're saying is true and that it's better to let go of that identity, it feels terrifying and brings a lot of dread. I am looking forward to the part where it feels silly emoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 3:15 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/16/22 3:15 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Jared, I have an idea of practice for you. 
You might even find this practice somewhat fun - which is imho most important in meditation really.

Try to feel muscles, eyes, etc. but mostly just keep awareness there. Pressure and other tensions might be felt, just let them be and observe it all passively. Focus should also be passive, awareness should be effortlessly focused on your face and keeping it there should not cause dukkha. If you cannot focus like that or it hurts then detune awareness while keeping it on your face until you get to where you are not controlling focus and it doesn't hurt (might be very out of focus at this point!) and then keep it there for some time and once you get more comfortable let awareness slowly tune itself back in to focus but without you doing the focusing. Prioritize relaxation and if awareness cannot focus itself without causing dukkha then let it as it is for the time being. Do not rush anything and do not interrupt awareness when it tries to focus itself. If it finds it being too hard then do no worry and maybe try at later time.

It is the kind of practice I myself did. I was never really about strict schedule or methods and more about having fun during practices. As long as I did anything from time to time there was progress. These focus practices are very powerful and actually I managed to vastly improve my eyesight by letting eyes focus themselves rather than controlling them. In the practice I described eyes can be involved if your awareness is strongly linked to eyes (which it probably is). Detuning awareness is just letting it go out of focus, as much as it wants. This can also mean eyes will change focus. This is fine but of course everything within reason and if necessary readjust eyes. In the rested awareness eyes should also be rested and awareness focusing should not involve eyes. The thing with focus is that it can at times be really screwed up and you might not even realize until you take deeper look. In your case it seem face should be best object, also because sense of self is related to face and directly experiencing sensations in face should make your brain remap its face experiences - literally recalibrate itself. I recommend this practice exactly because of that. Then the focus part of this practice is because there might be also issue with focus.
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Jared N, modified 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 9:44 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 9:43 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta, I've been really enjoying your posts and getting a lot of value from them. Thanks for explaining these to me.

​​​​​​​When you say "sense of self is related to the face," I can see what you mean. When I look in the mirror, my sense of self is directly related to the eyes and expression I see looking back. I sometimes feel a sense of emptiness there, like I am unrelated to any of it. It's disconcerting, but I'm sure that's my sense of identity being unraveled a bit, maybe quick glances into no self. 

Quick question: is the goal of this "face focus" meditation (observe the eyes, face, sensations, awareness, etc...) Ultimately to see through the illusion of the self? Or is it to keep me connected to self for the time being? I'm trying to understand the reason behind your suggestion
Chrollo X, modified 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 11:05 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/17/22 11:05 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 56 Join Date: 1/11/22 Recent Posts
Can you talk more about avoiding relief? You mean like avoiding scratching and itch or satisfying a craving for a sugary snack? And when meditating and I feel relief from the breathing, I should ignore that relief and just focus on breathing? 
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/19/22 10:09 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/19/22 10:09 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Chrollo X
Can you talk more about avoiding relief? You mean like avoiding scratching and itch or satisfying a craving for a sugary snack? And when meditating and I feel relief from the breathing, I should ignore that relief and just focus on breathing? 
No, nothing to do with avoiding things which have relief qualities. Just these qualities.

The whole trick is in improving your vipassana skills to the point you can perceive qualities which make each sensation. Each quality itself is sensation made out of qualities. You can learn to do such distillation and by focusing on to and strengthening some qualities and weakening others by seeing them as undesirable change your experience.

Take this instructions
 quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, a monk enters upon and abides in the first meditative absorption (jhana)

Relief would be the part of sensual desires and unwholesome states that when you secluded/free from makes jhana arise. 

Serious vipassana practice is when you can analyze this stuff and enter jhana in any life situation. Even those which would be considered impossible to not have eg. sensual desire when dealing with opposite sex. These things when they include too much relief feel like something you must do (the desire) otherwise you feel like crap. Suffering caused by this can even make person justify ill will. Without relief the moment you are attracted to someone you already experience pleasure and if you don't get action then you do not think much about it. Then if you get it then it is orders of magnitude better that way. And again, despite this that cannot make you act against anyone because someone else suffering would not increase your pleasure, just decrease it. Sadness caused by someone suffering doesn't need to be suffering but it is least desirable state hence actions causing it will be least likely hence dropping relief drop fetters of sensual desire and ill will - literally 3rd path. And yes, at 3rd path this should be understood. If not as actual insight that is understood then intuitively avoiding relief. Without sufficient vipassana skills/resolution person might need to drop actions which can lead to experience of qualities they saw as source of ill will. The better your precision the less things you need to drop and still act skillfully. 

Breath concentration is actually very good example of where to find relief experiences. If person focuses too much on relief or rather gives in to it, then the there will be more vibrations on outbreath and there can be unpleasantness on inbreath. Likewise afterwards you might feel need to do it. When dropping relief then there is absolutely ridiculous amount of jhanic bliss. What little pleasure which can be had when letting relief doesn't in any way compare. You still do it but it feels different, if you cannot do it you do something else, it doesn't bother you. When you want it and can you do it. For someone watching you from outside not much changes other than you seem more happy. And this is the case for all things person does. That is why I am so explicit in saying one should drop it and if its not visible to improve own perception.

The general rule of the thumb is that you analyze sensations, both those which feel like have no relief in them (when you recognize what is this mysterious relief) and of relief itself to refine what you then recognize as relief. Normally when there are many sensations at once they are glued together and experienced as what I call composite sensation. It is like additional experience that mind creates so it can refer to many things at once. To test it you can try to experience left and right at once. There will be switching like awareness switching between left and right hands. If you insist on experiencing them at once it might happen that mind will create additional experience which has experience both hands in it but it is not really either of original experiences. I call this experience as composite experience. If you do it then it is easy to go back to hand experiences you started with - in fact it might be hard to keep this composite experience, especially because you already have pointers in your mind to individual hand experiences. The vipassana skill I say should be developed is ability to decompose composite experiences to experiences from which they are made. When you look at composite experience like desire to eat sugary snack it is possible to find individual experiences including what I call relief. Just note here, relief I am speaking about is not wanting to eat something sweet, it is not what causes you to go and do it. If you remove just relief you will get much better experience, jhanic, but that doesn't mean you won't go and get sweet snack! Still pleasurable things you want will be something you want and do simply because it was not relief that caused you to do actions! Actually if you remove relief its only changing how you will experience what you do, not what you do. You will put your shoes and clothes, go out to shop and get snack either way. Just in the case without relief you will rather already experience memory of sugar rush and enjoy it and all the actions are seemingly because getting real one is more pleasurable. Once you remove everything that makes experience unpleasant all you are left with it bunch of pleasant experiences and you will experience all actions as mind going from pleasure to pleasure. Not even because you feel you need more of it. That is exactly the point. The actions just happen like they did, mind/body move to do stuff like they always did. Just experience of everything is better.

It is possible to use vipassana to help you control your behavior but this is not really what I am focusing on here. Dropping relief will have positive behavioral chances by itself where it counts. In either way this is 3rd path insight so if it feels hard to grasp just practice your perception of sensations. Especially analyze what desires are made from. Analyze sensations that arise when there is dukkha. Some of them will be these which will fit name 'relief'.

There is much more which could be said about this. Just one more technical tidbit: after relief is weakened and jhana starts arising do not go back to relief. In the past I was often breaking jhanas by trying to check if I the pleasure I am experiencing caused suffering I experienced to disappear by checking if I experience this super amazing promised relief. Dukkha will disappear when mind which was suffering is left alone and can rest. If you start checking stuff then it won't work and it definitely won't work if you star triggering relief. One of the reason why I use name relief because to experience you felt bad and now feel good is need to have reference experience in form of suffering mind. It might seem innocent but its technically very counterproductive so despite being counterintuitive to just completely forget you suffered moment ago this is exactly what needs to be done. If you forget you suffered there is no experience of relief!
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/19/22 11:06 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/19/22 11:06 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Jared N
Ni Nurta, I've been really enjoying your posts and getting a lot of value from them. Thanks for explaining these to me.

​​​​​​​When you say "sense of self is related to the face," I can see what you mean. When I look in the mirror, my sense of self is directly related to the eyes and expression I see looking back. I sometimes feel a sense of emptiness there, like I am unrelated to any of it. It's disconcerting, but I'm sure that's my sense of identity being unraveled a bit, maybe quick glances into no self. 

Quick question: is the goal of this "face focus" meditation (observe the eyes, face, sensations, awareness, etc...) Ultimately to see through the illusion of the self? Or is it to keep me connected to self for the time being? I'm trying to understand the reason behind your suggestion

Three goals. First of focus on body: it is just skillful thing to do to focus on your body parts like that. If you move awareness to some part of body and you feel tension then just keep awareness there until it gets relaxed. 

Secondly face because like you noticed it is related to sense of self. Eyes are especially related and they are part of face. 

Last part, of this self calibrating focus - this might not be very obvious but like I said the focus can be pretty screwed up which can by itself cause quite a lot of dukkha. It is possible to have such bad focus and not realize it because volitionally controlled focus can offset and force enough focus for it all to appear to work fine. In eyesight for example my eyes focused completely differently when I was controlling their focus than what they do by itself. I had normal eyesight in my teens but my eyes would often get tired especially after using eyes for longer periods of time. Pretty much like what people often complain about eg. at my job. People complain their eyes are tired after just few hours of staring at monitor and eyesight gets worse because they have like 8 hour job where they use monitor. Compared to now my eyesight in my teens was terrible. Supposedly it should only get worse and not better every year... Same focus of awareness, you can control awareness volitionally but when you do that you make ruckus in your mind and affect anything you want to focus on.

Instead if it is automatic and effortless then you just get awareness on whatever phenomena either you want or where it needs to be without any ruckus, effortlessly. That is why this aspect needs to be practiced and the way I described should be fairly easy to do. It can just take some time. It might be hard to let it control itself. If you first relax it you will see where it is when relaxed. From what I remember in my case it was very out of focus. So screwed up in fact that when I let it to its relaxed state it was like left part of my body went to the right side and right to left and back to front! Then after it all focused itself my mind is in sharp focus all the time and I do not need to do anything to have it focused. It might take lots of time or not a lot, depends. Do not rush it, if it all is very out focus but not a lot happen wait for it get in focus. Just waiting with the idea of focus will cause it to refocus. Just please not think about how you focus your awareness and just think about something sharp. Like small dot. If it starts to move in some direction (focus) but not quite how you focus your awareness yourself let it do that. When you start controlling awareness focus try to see if moving in the direction it wanted to go can be made going in this direction. It might as well be that you will manage to find proper focus like that. Some experimentation might help. In any way the idea is for focus to focus itself and control itself.

Of course the same is possible for eyes.
To improve sharpness you think about dot and then smaller dot inside, then even smaller dot inside that dot and the more you do it the sharper reference you can get. With better reference mind will make more effort to match this reference. More effort == your brain will use more resources. At first maybe not overdo this dot practice but over time (months, years) sharpen it and your focus will improve.
John H, modified 2 Months ago at 4/19/22 11:24 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/19/22 11:06 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 25 Join Date: 4/17/18 Recent Posts
Chris M
Just don't cling to jhana  emoticon

​​​​​​​Yep or anything else. The essence of dharma is to give up clinging altogether. I've had mediocre to indifferent success doing that but it does seem to me to help. Giving up clinging is probably many things but central to it is relaxation and ease. You can't command these things but you can create circumstances which promote it. Be gentle. Metta and the Bramavihara's might be good but do them gently. I'd recommend that to anyone but especially given the sort of circumstances you describe.  Remember that many of Buddha's contemporaries didn't take him seriously because he gave up austerities and he took life easy but not so easy that he stopped. The middle way.

I've done some work with jhana. I like it but it too can be too much on jangled nerves if you pursue it too hard. I like Leigh Brasington's approach to jhana. Soft jhana. You might too.

You might also consider applying EMDR to the fears and emotional pains that arise for you and for the painful experience that landed you in the hospital. Or maybe EFT style tapping. That can be done without a therapist when fear or other unpleasantness arises without having to wait until your next appt. PTSD and the like as often as not have layers. And some of what you are experiencing may be a result of that. I went down that road. It was hard. I'm not at the end, but it's become easier. Peace and light to you.

Cheers, John
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago at 4/22/22 10:54 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/22/22 10:54 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
How are the worms doin?
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Brandon Michael Rohe, modified 2 Months ago at 4/22/22 1:15 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/22/22 1:15 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 16 Join Date: 6/1/21 Recent Posts
Chrollo X Don't worry about reading the suttas bro. The Buddha and his diciples didn't have suttas to go off of. Definitely read about the Eightfold Path though: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html
Don't read a manual on how to build an internal combustion engine because the person who invented it built one without a manual... doesn't sound like the best advice, does it?
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Jared N, modified 1 Month ago at 5/4/22 10:03 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/4/22 10:03 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 72 Join Date: 3/6/22 Recent Posts
Haha, I love the picture! The worms are doing okay now. I'm back to baseline, with a bit more awareness I would say. I now understand that baseline is not the desired state, and I'm much more aware of the constant anxiety I have been living with. However, I felt the need to step back from meditation for a bit longer, because I had to finish my finals so that I could graduate (I'm done now!) My therapist has also been out of town, so I didn't want to spark a meltdown.  But I'm considering getting back into some gentle metta and Jhanic practices as soon as therapy starts up.  I am pretty afraid of meditation though.

I've noticed that there's fear linked now with meditation, and I've been finding myself with cold fear tingling down my spine when I think about going back to it.  Has anyone else noticed this ice-cold prickling feeling relating to fear/panic?  It was incredibly uncomfortable at first, but now I've been thinking of it as my own personal Wim Hoff challenge and it's kind of fun emoticon  That said, I'm pretty afraid of panic coming back in full-swing since it led to really drastic, scary thoughts occasionally. So I've definitely been waffling, because as of right now, even though I'm more aware of my daily suffering, I feel much more stable.

I'd really like to get a teacher who can gently guide me through some of the more difficult parts of my path, but I'm pretty strapped for cash since the medical bills in February.

I have been digging into my work, time with family and friends, and spending much-needed time with my wife (who's enjoying that I no longer act as a basket case 90% of the time). I went back to one of my favorite hobbies: modding and playing video games, which I'd stopped for a while-- I'm not sure if I like the way my brain acts when I play. They seem to thoroughly take up my attention and focus, but with the negative effects of dopamine withdrawal afterward. But it has been nice to have some time where truly no heavy thoughts enter my head, and it feels like a perverted kind of rest. Sleep has been much better. I've been going back to the weight room to lift big weights, and it makes me especially sleepy. I like lifting heavy weights because it seems to help the nervous system relax.

One of the biggest accomplishments in the last few weeks was a sort of "okay-ness" surrounding lack of agency. It's still scary, but at least I can come to the logical conclusion now that I've never been a free agent (at least the way I thought I was), but that didn't stop me from living a pretty happy existence, so there's no real reason it should cause panic now.

I think the part that was scary was the absence of responsibility. I'm still not exactly sure how that ties in, but I've been forcing myself to feel responsible because it is better for my morality to believe that I am responsible. Someone smart should maybe explain that to me because I still don't get it lol. Anyways, I'm grateful that this now feels like a more neutral topic instead of what it was.

I want to be a better human and help myself and others be free from suffering, and that's still at the forefront of my mind, so hopefully, things will continue going well.
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 9:30 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 8:14 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
The fear/panic is very common. I have suffered from it myself. It's good that you're framing it as something to investigate. Try to distinguish between the physical sensations and the thoughts, and get clear about how they relate to each other. Usually it starts with a physical sensation of anxiety/fear, followed by a thought like 'oh no, I'm starting to panic', which slightly intensifies the physical sensation, which leads to another though like 'uh oh, this might turn into a full blown panic attack', which leads to even more intense sensations, which ... etc. etc.

If we are not tuned into the body then we may not even notice the initial physical sensations of fear/anxiety, so that it seems like the thoughts pop out of nowhere and are what is causing the sensations. While it's true that the thoughts can intensify the sensations in a negative feedback loop, there has to be a baseline physical presence of fear/anxiety in the body to start the whole thing rolling. Usually this physical baseline is the residue of old experiences of fear/anxiety which were not able to be fully processed at the time they arose, so they got trapped in the body and are looking to be released - hence the experience of panic attacks. It's your body trying to tell you something - pay attention, this needs to be looked at. When it's been there for a long time, we are so used to a having a baseline experience of fear/anxiety that we cease to notice it as such and take it as normal.

The fear of panic is quite natural, but it tends to make the whole thing appear to be worse than it really is. Pure physical sensations by themselves can't harm you. It's the mind's tendency to throw up thoughts about the future ('what if ...') which create the impression that it is an unbearable experience which must be avoided. You can play around with it – notice how thoughts lead to increased anxiety, whereas switching attention to the pure physical experience makes it bearable. The dramatic physical experience in the body is actually pretty interesting if you take a microscope to it. Like you say above, you are switching between the fear of panic and the fun of having a personal challenge emoticon

The trick is to investigate it in a safe space where you know that you are safe, and to remind yourself that you are safe. You are not creating any new panic here, you are just investigating the existing sensations of anxiety/fear which are usually hidden below the surface and driving avoidant/unwanted behavior liking zoning out on video games or other addictions etc. Now you are giving yourself the chance to investigate what's really going on under the hood. It feels worse than it really is simply because you are not used to experiencing it directly. So you go through a strange period where your life is more stable but you feel more anxiety because you are now able to process it, which is the healing process.

I do a bit of meditation coaching for free, if you’re interested you can reach me at agnostic246 AT gmail DOT com
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 9:41 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 9:41 AM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Forgot to add, in order to ground yourself during the experience of anxiety/fear (and in case it starts to feel overhelming), focus on all the physical sensations that are not anxious/afraid which you are ignoring while caught up in the anxiety/fear - e.g. sensations of deep breathing in the abdomen (can always go depper to relax), sensations of contact with the chair/ground, sensations in the hands/feet, external sights & sounds etc. This counteracts the tendency of anxiety/fear to produce a kind of tunnel vision (which is itself a kind of interesting phenomenon).
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 4:16 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/5/22 4:16 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 930 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Taking a break might be as well the best option. Especially when it improves other aspects of your life.
Surely sooner than later you will be back on track so no need to worry about a break.

While that happens you can use desire for meditation to practice other interresting things. Like there is urge to do mediation to get some specific effects you can put effort in to getting the very same effect you feel you wantet to get. This might even be higher level practice than formal meditation and will not be easy... more in 'have no idea how to even begin to do it'. I spent whole lot of time on that. The idea is to try from time to time to put energy of mind that it would use on desiring effects in to doing something to get them. At least it should focus mind in to doing something useful and over time it might bear fruits emoticon

BTW. Mindfulness as long as it is not hardcore variety should be kept all the time in waking awareness. Hardcore mindfulness of course agitates mind more and can cause cycles of insight and Dark Nigh. Probably want to have some break from all the dukkha nana drama and it is understandable emoticon
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Sigma Tropic, modified 1 Month ago at 5/14/22 9:00 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/14/22 9:00 PM

RE: Opened Up a Can of Worms Yesterday--Really struggling

Posts: 326 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
Mahakala (Dharma Protectors)​​​​​​​

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