Amphibios’ concentration log

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Tara Benares, modified 1 Month ago at 5/25/22 4:42 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/25/22 4:42 PM

Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
I have been casually meditating over the last few years. My practice has not been consistent or particularly deep. I started to meditate to combat overwhelming anxiety. 

Turns out the anxiety was PTSD from a difficult childhood. I learnt this from therapy over the last year. I decompensated earlier this year - turns out I also have ADHD. 

Childhood Trauma splits you up. I dissociate - my experiences over the last year have taught me as much as I can take about nondualism. When I looked for the watcher while dissociated my consciousness expanded and I got mind like sky although I couldn't hold it. Not difficult when you can't feel your body, there is no self in the way and nothing rises in the field. 

I want to go the other way, I want to regain what I have lost. 

I have started fire Kasina practice - it helps to concentrate on something external. I want to stay outside of my mind. 

For various reasons I currently have little emotion - although I can feel in the moment. The core part of me is still a child (as are we all) but I am not well connected. I can feel my core emotions in the moment - because children are timeless. My core is timeless, I have felt it. 

I am living in black and white, my core emotions are Technicolor, but I'm far from my core. I tried doing the washing up but paying attention to everything I did. I used all the senses I could - sound, touch, sight, smell to keep myself in the present, it felt incredible, I kept getting shivers. I felt alive. But my vision changed, I could see everything in the centre clearly but I couldn't see anything out of the circle clearly. I am inattentive, hypervigilance gives me the ability to pay attention to more. But there is a cost, and I'm sick of paying. 

I am unable to pay attention to myself, to my emotions. It's how I survived. 

I can't touch the child part of me, the happy part that was always with me. When I concentrate at work now, I start talking describing what I'm doing, time slows down. I'm trying to use a different path. 

What I used to use is fight, anxiety and emotion - salience. But that is how a child concentrates, I can't use this path because I end up being driven by my triggers. 

I can't trust anything, not that I did much anyway. My memories, emotions, what I thought I was, nothing is mine. 

I want to be whole. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/25/22 9:13 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/25/22 9:13 PM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

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

I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties. I think something like inner child work or Internal Family Systems, with a trauma sensitive therapist/guide and somatic practices, might be helpful for you, in conjunction with meditation. Mediation or self-enquiry without the trauma work or grounding in the body can sometimes lead to more intense dissociative states.

Best wishes
George
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Tara Benares, modified 1 Month ago at 5/26/22 2:03 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/26/22 2:03 AM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
Thanks George. 

I'm doing psychodynamic therapy still - concentration practice will be adjunct. This included trauma therapy. 

The psychiatrist who diagnosed me with ADHD advised me to strengthen my meditative practice. 
As far as I can work out, the PTSD stress response is why I was not exhibiting serious ADHD symptoms. Although I have had executive function difficulties all my life. 

The trauma therapy basically just made me more hyperactive and impulsive. I felt amazing but I had little connection to my body so I couldn't tell if I was tired. I couldn't get in touch with my core feelings but I didn't realise this. 

Flashbacks feel like ghostly emotions and I would easily tune out of them if I started doing things. Sometimes I would only realise they were happening because I was doing a body scan and would 'find them'. 

fight or flight reactions make me feel like I'd been given the power of 10 tigers that my brain is expecting me to unleash on someone. I never have, because I simply don't want to hurt people. I think the 'thinking' part of my brain does not go down because I have adhd. 

I want to stop doing these boom bust cycles, I want to get in touch with the feelings I do have. 

When I think I'm feeling something but can't bring it up, I stare into a flame. My thinking part pays attention to the flame and then I can feel what is hidden. 

There might be more appropriate concentration practices, I am not looking for insight. I just need to do something else, there are no shortcuts for me. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Month ago at 5/26/22 2:43 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/26/22 2:43 AM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Hello Tara,

Thank you for sharing your story. I recommend the book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness by David A. Treleaven. It contains lots of good info on how you can have a meditation practice without re-traumatizing yourself.

Best wishes,
Niels
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Tara Benares, modified 1 Month ago at 5/26/22 2:49 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/26/22 2:49 AM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
Thanks Niels, I will check it out. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/26/22 3:43 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/26/22 3:43 PM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I've tried a little kasina practice and was surprised by how quicly
strong emotions could be released. My guess is that it's because the thinking mind is "distracted" from the body. Personally I prefer meditating on the breath at the belly, because I find it more easy to stay grounded while experiencing strong emotions in the body. But the thinking mind does have a tendency to get involved and disrupt the flow (thinking it knows
what should happen and effectively resisting what needs to happen for healing). Maybe some combination of both would be beneficial.
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Tara Benares, modified 28 Days ago at 5/30/22 3:48 PM
Created 28 Days ago at 5/30/22 3:44 PM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
I have a superficial understanding of Buddhism, meditation practice does not require a deep understanding to follow meditation instructions. 


When I first realised I dissociated I did not have the word to describe the state that I was in. I realised that I was calmer than I usually was but I was unsure why.

Eventually I realised that I wasn’t feeling emotions in my body, only in my mind. It’s like your mind and your body are a guitar, the mind plucks the note but it is heard in your body. I could not hold emotion, no residue was left after feeling something. I tried bringing to mind a memory of feeling something strongly, but I couldn’t do it. Instead the attempt left me feeling woozy and foggy.

I tried clearing my head by rubbing my clavicles hard, pushing against the supraorbital notch. I couldn’t bring my emotions back through my body or by using memory. The only thing that works is feeling strong emotion in the moment, evoking it anyway you can. 

I kept reading but I couldn’t find anything that described me. I didn’t feel flashbacks strongly and I felt no fear when I was able to tap into the emotions. I didn’t act on my fight or flight reactions because I was aware that’s what they were. I was aware I sometimes did automatic things - but I didn’t know where I had learnt them. 


In therapy I would lose my sense of self, it didn’t frighten me, I just realised I was trying to find something in my head. The ‘watcher’ was gone - but I was still there. It disturbed me, but I understood meditation to be a practice that showed you the self was illusory. Did it really matter? 


Meditation and body scans were the only way I could tap into what would happen to me. Buddhism has been one of the few places I have been able to find words for some of the states I have found myself. I have lost the ‘watcher’, no emotion ‘rises’ when I look inside my mind. It has helped me to not feel so strange. 


I have been reading ‘the path to Nibbana’ because I read it had a good path to feeling metta if you have difficulties doing so. I am also trying to read more because it helps me practice holding my attention. “In the brahmajala Sutta, No.1 of the Digha Nikaya, the Buddha describes there are 62 views of self! There is self watching self, “not self” observing self, the self observing a bit self and on and on. There is only one ‘you’ but which one is it? 


In therapy I have been core self with me sitting next to myself, my eyes covered. This is what the memory tells me when I have my ‘self’ back. I have been behind myself, watching myself talk out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes I’m outside of myself, watching myself talk to something on the laptop screen. This is what the memories show but in my therapy sessions I always feel I am ‘me’ with differing amounts of emotion and access to memories. 


The last time I realised that I had been dissociated for 2 weeks I tried to bring back my emotion by crying. I lay in bed in the dark, trying to remember what emotion was lost. What was the hurt? what had happened to me? I remember crying, but then it felt like someone else was crying. I couldn’t comfort them until I realised it was me, I was outside myself. It was so painful to feel myself like that and I kept telling myself it would be ok, then the flashback of doing and being like this as a child. Too late I realised that crying for myself meant go back to self. But which self did I go back to? 


All pointless questions? others have been where I am now. I keep trying to look outside to find what I am but doing this is what has made me not know myself.
It has caused me pain to compare myself and feel I am defective. But I have also felt comfort to know that my experiences are within the realms of being human, and that I’m ordinary. 


I want to know what is here. 

So far I know I can feel towards other but not myself. 

Which might mean I don’t have a self currently, I may have been avoiding realising this. 

This is supported by no emotion rising, so I’m not feeling emotion in response to thoughts. 

I’m only reacting with emotion to immediate occurrences in meat space. Even that is weaker than normal. 

Expanding my attention in the moment allows me to feel more (washing up experience). 

If I imagine scenarios in my mind - that does cause emotion. 

I can concentrate, but I feel no great satisfaction in completing something. 

If I dissociate now, I won’t concentrate because I become detached. What does that mean? I think I am left with cognitive emotions. This is where I go when I dissociate. It is harder to get out of because I feel so little emotion already. (Current)

The first time I dissociated when I was here - I was so low in dopamine that I couldn’t reset after sleeping. I was talking slower at work, finding it difficult to recall things. Time was slower. I felt like a part of my brain was asleep. But I was able to laugh and feel more. This was before the Atomoxetine kicked in. 

I think dissociation flips me from one type of attention system to the other, which one am I using now? 

​​​​​​​The more I am here, the more I forget being any other way. 
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Tara Benares, modified 27 Days ago at 5/31/22 4:20 PM
Created 27 Days ago at 5/31/22 4:20 PM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
What is here? What am I? 

I tried to meditate on anger today. I wanted to feel it, try to push through my lack of emotion and see what happens. 

I keep doing fight or flight reactions when I get triggered. Instead of doing that, what if I give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar? I'm reacting against situations and feelings caused by my parents. I am unable to feel anger when I think about how they treated me. 

I thought about how safety, protection, attunement, comfort, delight in who I was, support and encouragement were all denied to me. I really tried to get angry on my behalf and I could feel energy forming in my chest. 

I concentrated on the edges I could feel in my body and they dissipated to love, contentment, understanding, patience and amusement at myself. 

I had my eyes closed and I thought that the candle had put something on fire because I could see golden light. But that hadn't happened it was in my mind. 

I'm the best parts of myself, it isn't my nature to get angry it's painful to me. I'm the part that holds against that terrible anger I hold. I also protect the vulnerable hurt part of myself. These other parts bubble up inside of me and spill into my consciousness. 

if I look at myself I'm not those things - not in response to others. I can't get at my anger through what I am. I protect others but I haven't protected myself against my anger. I have also not paid attention to when I have been hurt or vulnerable. I am making amends towards myself on that front. 

I remember my mum used to say to me as a child: 
May you be of good karma 
May you be patient 
May you be a mercy on the world. 

At the time I worried that these were such huge responsibilities to take on. But I did, and I am those things. In spite of them, not because. 

I need to figure out another route to get to those core parts. 

​​​​​​​I feel really content - like I've been doing metta. 
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Tara Benares, modified 25 Days ago at 6/2/22 6:59 AM
Created 25 Days ago at 6/2/22 6:59 AM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

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I am trying to do metta - wishing myself well and trying to feel happiness in my body. 

I used to be able to do metta easily towards other people and then I would use the energy on myself. I'd be like a carebear. 

My emotions are restricted so it doesn't work as well or I don't feel it well in my body. Sometimes I can generate energy in my body - not so much a particular emotion like happy or joy. 

I still eventually end up finding myself in an almost sleep like state, watching colours shift on the inside of my eyelids. Sometimes the colours bring peace that spreads out into my body. Rolling grey, changing into different colours. 

I'm not really aware if I'm getting caught up in thoughts or sensations because it's difficult to know if I'm constantly thinking or not at all and just experiencing, 

Meditation used to be a 'cleaner' experience. It might just be that I'm tired because I'm not sleeping very well at the moment. 

I hear the tinnitus all the time - I know that other part of my brain is blocked but grumbling. Flashback? Or just little emotion? 
George S, modified 25 Days ago at 6/2/22 9:20 AM
Created 25 Days ago at 6/2/22 9:20 AM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 2458 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Maybe try to wake your inner carebear. It must be in there somewhere, sleeping emoticon
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Tara Benares, modified 25 Days ago at 6/2/22 4:16 PM
Created 25 Days ago at 6/2/22 4:16 PM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
3rd time lucky - hopefully this will post. 

I have an appointment to see the psychiatrist next week. Will ask if I can be out on a DNRI if appropriate. That should help the anhedonia. 

Alternatively I need to feel sufficiently in danger or trapped that I have a flight/fight reaction. This will push me up and bust open my emotion. 

Hoping I'll get back to my carebear ways and resume laughing at my own jokes soon. 
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Tara Benares, modified 23 Days ago at 6/4/22 5:17 PM
Created 23 Days ago at 6/4/22 5:17 PM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

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Went over to a friends yesterday and stayed the night. I couldn't sleep during the night. I had noticed how she was treating her boyfriend (also my friend) and all I could feel was that I needed to get out of there. 

Made an excuse and left in the morning - I probably dissociated the day before so could only feel my feelings once I was alone. I cried on the train back to London. The heavy feeling of betrayal and trapped when you're being mistreated by a partner. I know I'm projecting a lot, but I can also see how punitive and contemptous she's being towards him. 

In the pub the day before she told me that she thought she had BPD. Having come across people with personality disorders, I told her that you don't behave badly just against your SO it's a consistent pattern towards everyone. So she wouldn't have backed off when she's done something to annoy me - she would have no insight. 
She told me that she had to have BPD, or else she had to accept she was a terrible person. It reminded me of something the last psychiatrist wrote

" No one ever asks me, ever, "I think I'm a narcissist, and I'm worried I'm hurting my family." No one ever asks me, "I think I'm too controlling, I'm trying to subtly manipulate my girlfriend not to notice other people's qualities." No one ever, ever, ever asks me, "I am often consumed by irrational rage, I am unable to feel guilt, only shame, and when I am caught, found out, exposed, I try to break down those around me so they feel worse than I do, so they are too miserable to look down on me."

If that was what they asked, I would tell them them change is within grasp. But."

https://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/08/just_because_you_see_it_doesnt.html

I often get a rush of feelings once I leave a situation like that. I'm working on trying to feel emotion in therapy, I can feel stuff when I'm on my own but not always when I'm around people. I meditated to get back into my body, so that I could feel. I started feeling nausea, payed attention to it and it went. But I've been feeling it all evening. 

Nausea = vulnerability, I feel it when I feel unsafe. These feelings have been hiding, now that I can't feel my 'happy' feelings they can be felt because they're not covered by happiness, excitement and laughter.

A shot of anxiety makes me start smiling. Fear feels like excitement, relief from a bullet dodged is happiness. My wiring is a panacea so that I don't ever have to feel, I just dissociate. 

I don't know who is friend or foe, so I just keep everyone at arms length. 
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Tara Benares, modified 9 Days ago at 6/18/22 5:49 PM
Created 9 Days ago at 6/18/22 5:49 PM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
Lot's has been happening for me but I'm trying to edge back into normality when I am released. I have had an opportunity to translate my experiences into something I understand as I have no dharma. 

I think I need to go back to Ewok phase - I never had the opportunity to be a child and I choose ewok not emperor palpatine. 

Ewok and I can only be together in the present - so I think mindfulness is the way to go. I never finished the waking up app so that'll make it easy with my ADHD. 

i have the opportunity to begin again which I am grateful for and stop running. But I need to leave my sonic the hedgehog phase and learn to walk. 

look through my eyes. 
when I meditate pay attention to the emptiness. 
Be a good bhodisattva - have a look at the moral code. 
no navel gazing. 

I will have the opportunity to speak to Daniel soon. 
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Tara Benares, modified 5 Days ago at 6/22/22 4:35 PM
Created 5 Days ago at 6/22/22 4:35 PM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
Spoke to Daniel Monday and it was really helpful. It was good to get an outside perspective because it helped to normalise my strange experiences. 

It's not clear what is happening because I've not been doing insight practices and I don't have a good grounding in dharma or the insight path to have any idea where I am. 

I have been getting my insights from therapy and it has been really helpful for me to better understand myself. 

I think I am in equanimity but I need a long period of stabilisation. Daniel suggested no meditation practice - only practices that are grounded in body/movement and with my eyes open. Therapy books to read, ppl who can support me in the journey in the UK. Also take a holiday! 

The psychiatrist I saw 2 weeks ago will be prescribing me something to help with my ADHD. 

I will stay mindful and grounded in reality. I didn't realise fire kasina is literally playing with fire - it just helped me to focus on something external. It felt really peaceful when I was going through a difficult time. I also thought it would help with concentration and so be useful in dealing with my ADHD. 

The last 2 weeks may have been a breakdown/reshuffling? or a psychotic break, or a continuation of my decompensation from Jan or a spiritual awakening. It's just not clear but I have been given good advice. I think that a lot of my dissociative barriers came down as I was getting tinnitus which is usually a sign that I'm coming out of dissociation, this was happening for 1-2 months before everything kicked off. 

I have been at a friends house for a few days and she's been looking after me. It was also my birthday yesterday so we had a good time traipsing around the countryside. Probably feeling the best I have done in the last 6 months and feeling like I've been released. 

thanks again for all the good advice I have been given. 
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Tara Benares, modified 2 Days ago at 6/25/22 11:06 AM
Created 2 Days ago at 6/25/22 11:06 AM

RE: Amphibios’ concentration log

Posts: 16 Join Date: 5/25/22 Recent Posts
Things have calmed down and become clearer. 
It helped that Daniel talked about 3 modes and that clicked for me. 

I had the ego death because it was my false self. I have never had a self I was born this way. The dissociation helped to give me structure so that I sort of worked normally as a self. 

I saw all the things I did because I've always been on the path. I just need to explicitly understand what that is. 

I have a single view back - I was flipping around so much because my brain was struggling to work how it used to. 

I'm definitely in equanimity. There are no fireworks because everything is small emotions and thoughts. It doesn't matter where else I have been that's where I am now. 

I've been struggling so much because I kept trying to do what I've always done. I keep trying to run when all I can do is walk now. 

I am home, I am secure and I am not alone. I've never been alone. I keep trying to figure out where I am but I just am. 

the flame does not do anything anymore - but I see golden light and I know I am not alone abd that I am home. That is enough. 

oneview 

​​​​​​​May you be of good karma 
May you be patient 
May you be a mercy on the world. 

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