John W's Log #2

J W, modified 7 Months ago at 10/14/22 9:54 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 10/11/22 8:13 PM

John W's Log #2

Posts: 623 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Hey all, at long last I am starting my second log.  

My hope is to do a better job than I did in my first log of not getting overly personal here, and just sticking to sitting meditation, but in order for me to get this thing started properly, I will have to give a few boring personal details in order to provide background about my conditioning and my personal history, as well as my goals for this log and with meditation in general:

1. I have long suffered from insomnia.  This condition, to the best of my knowledge, has much less to do with meditation and as it does with early life trauma and other environmental factors.  It runs in the family - my father, and one sibling has it - and neither of them has done any sort of meditation nor have they had any history of substance abuse.

I can't say that meditation has made my sleep deregulation any better or worse (yet), but it has certianly made me more aware of it.

2. It was recently suggested by my therapist that I am on the bipolar spectrum.  I'm not sure to what extent I have this condition, but it does fit with my experience of mood swings began occurring as early as my late high school years (16 or 17), possibly earlier than that.  It was almost certainly made worse by substance abuse (alcohol and psychedelics).  While it's been mostly manageable, there certainly have been ways in which my life has been affected by these mood swings.

Again, I can't say that meditation has made these mood swings better or worse, but I have become more aware of them since I began meditating. 

I also, thanks to Daniel Ingram's book, began to view these 'cycles' through the lens of spirituality a couple of years ago, which previously I had not.  Whether or not this is a 'better' or even 'good' way to view mood swings or cycles is I guess, TBD.  What I can say with certainty is that some of the phenomena that occur during an episode of insomnia seem to map pretty well with MCTB progress of insight stuff.  For example, I can think of several occassions where after one or more nights of sleeplessness/restlessness in which I experience things that seem to map pretty well to the dukkha nanas (fear, misery, desire for sleep --I mean deliverance, etc), as well as more equanimous states, and blips, or series of many blips in rapid succession, after which my mind sometimes becomes much more relaxed and I am able to sleep. In several cases a series of sleepless nights will end in a very vivid dream which starts with a 'breakthrough' (to put it very vaguely - imagine climbing through a tiny hole), followed by an extremely pleasant and fulfilling dream world environment which I can only assume is some sort of dakini land or pure land.

This brings me to my intention(s):

1, to focus toward a type of interaction with this forum which has a limited amount of risk for potentially giving someone some sort of advice that might be unintentionally harmful or misunderstood.  As this is my personal log it gives me a way to interact with and contribute to the community in a way that's specific to just my own experience.

2, to receive advice from others on the path, particularly from those with similar conditions to mine, or who are familiar with conditions such as mine.  I have read threads on here before that talk about BPD and meditation which I have recently re-read after my diagnosis.

3, to keep myself motivated to practice daily and maintain an awareness and a history of what is going on in my practice.

4, to perhaps bring a bit of awareness to how meditation can (or can't?) be helpful for those such as myself with conditions like bipolar or related disorders. 

One final note on this point which is perhaps a tricky one - I have read many different answers here on DhO on whether or not people with bipolar disorder and other mental conditions *should* meditate.  Perhaps the best answer is that we don't know.  

I have spent the last, oh, 4 to 6 weeks, and periods of several weeks throughout the past 18 months not meditating at all.  My experience is that my symptoms were only worsened during these periods of not meditating (though, not sure if there is any correlation).  Perhaps that's just me, and perhaps that is part of the tricky part - no two people are the same. 

Whatever the case, we'll see how this goes.  

Much love to you all,

(few minor edits to remove some unnecessary personal info)
J W, modified 7 Months ago at 10/11/22 8:41 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 10/11/22 8:41 PM

RE: John W's Log #2

Posts: 623 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts

30 minutes: Michael Taft guided shamata- following breath 
-mind restless (lack of sleep)

20 minutes: vase breathing

30 minutes: just sitting
-whole of perception as object
-tingling, visuals
-slight head pressure
Chris M, modified 7 Months ago at 10/12/22 7:13 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 10/12/22 7:13 AM

RE: John W's Log #2

Posts: 4689 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Glad to see this new log, John. I'm sure there are folks here who can help, even if it's just lending you a sympathetic ear.
J W, modified 7 Months ago at 10/12/22 12:24 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 10/12/22 12:23 PM

RE: John W's Log #2

Posts: 623 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Thank you Chris, that is very kind.

Sleeplessness persisted again last night although I eventually did sleep. I went through several mini cycles getting into EQ, high EQ, blip, A&P zoomies, back to EQ, etc, 3 or 4 times over the course of a few hours. These cycles were overall pretty pleasurable and had a feeling of 'ironing out' my mind. Alas, I did get bored of this after some time. Not much time spent in the Dukkha Nanas and the times I were they didn't have too much bite to them, so that's good I think.

At some point it occurred to me how silly it was for me to tell myself "no meditation" during sleepless nights, since "no meditation" is basically just aversion to mindfulness thus leading to getting stuck in the DN's which is harmful.

​​​​​​​Hope to get some good sits in later today (if my mind is not too exhausted).
J W, modified 7 Months ago at 10/13/22 10:20 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 10/13/22 10:19 AM

RE: John W's Log #2

Posts: 623 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Sending meta and gratitude. Thanking you, my friends, for your support and patience. I’m probably going to take some time off from updates here and just focus on myself and getting on a better more regulated schedule.  

Tried to keep it chill last night but mind was getting a little agitated. Insomnia is tough, but here is not the place to look to fix it. I need to just be chilling as much as possible and not worry about getting any sort of intense practice going.

Maybe some relaxing breathing stuff, basic mindfulness or yoga nidra if it helps.

​​​​​​​Thanks, as always, for listening friends. I hope I have not caused too much concern here. Will try to check in when I’m feeling better and more rested.
J W, modified 7 Months ago at 10/14/22 9:51 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 10/14/22 9:50 AM

RE: John W's Log #2

Posts: 623 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Feeling a lot better after a good night's sleep, pretty much back to normal.

These periods of sleepnessness, as rough as they are, usually come with some insight, which I would much prefer come through more healthy and stable means, but at least I got something out of it.  And mostly that insight is to be kinder.  To myself - starting with getting some medication to help with these episodes if and when they happen - perhaps something like Seroquel which can be used as kind of a 'stopgap' to just shut things down altogether. And to others. On that note, I know I haven not always been kind here on the DharmaOverground, and elsewhere. So to anyone I may have hurt or caused discomfort, I offer my deepest apologies.

As far as meditation is concerned, I don't think keeping a log here will really be of benefit to me. Nor will posting publicly about my personal life or using myself as some sort of experiment. I'll probably be sticking to nondual awareness style practices and breathing practices for the foreseeable future, as far as sitting practices. And then of course, there is always the meditation of life.

For the record, I don't think any of these most recent episodes were triggered by sitting practice of any sort. I can point to a couple of pretty specific things that did trigger them. It's possible that in the recent past when I was doing more intense style practices, that that might have kicked off sleepless patterns, but I wasn't really paying attention to that at the time, so I'm not totally sure, but wouldn't be surprised if they did.

So, I think it's now best for me to go into "read-only" mode here at the DhO. I've learned a lot from this place, and I hope to continue to follow, be inspired by, and learn from others on the path, here and elsewhere. I think Daniel and Co. are doing some great work in answering some of the big questions, ones that really, really do need solving, and I wish them all the best with those endeavors.

​​​​​​​Ok, JW, signing out.
Chris M, modified 7 Months ago at 10/14/22 10:23 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 10/14/22 10:23 AM

RE: John W's Log #2

Posts: 4689 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Thanks for your brief but informative visit! Best of luck to you. I hope you'll come back someday in a more active posting mode.
J W, modified 7 Months ago at 10/14/22 10:33 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 10/14/22 10:33 AM

RE: John W's Log #2

Posts: 623 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Thank you, Chris, best of luck to you as well, hope to see you around.

​​​​​​​I'll make sure to report in later down the line, should I come upon any sort of definitive information worth sharing.
J W, modified 7 Months ago at 11/1/22 10:57 AM
Created 7 Months ago at 11/1/22 10:57 AM

RE: John W's Log #2

Posts: 623 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Hey all, been inspired to check in briefly, I have been doing pretty well since the last post.  Hope to continue to keep monthly updates or so here.

The key for me right now is maintaining a healthy balance. As long as I'm getting enough sleep I am basically fine.  An hour of physical exercise, an hour of creative writing, an hour of meditation, few hours of work every day seems to be the best way to keep me on track.  And of course, moderation (damn weddings!!).  I also picked up a low-dose Seroquel prescription which I have used a couple of times as needed and it seems to be helpful so far.  

Meditationwise, I've been able to keep up a decent practice, though there are times when common sense tells me to back off (if I'm stressed or restless) and do more calming type exercises.  I have still been able to still do pretty intense stuff at times.  YMMV.  A lot of my practice right now has been mindfulness towards everything and understanding everything as path.  Physical exercise and writing music is especially good for this.  One thing I have noticed is that sometimes it's helpful for me if I get 'stuck' or getting overwhelmed, to switch activities.  If I'm writing music and getting overwhelmed, I go sit for 20 minutes, or vice versa, and then come back to the original activity.  For some reason that seems to help me get over the hump, so to speak.

A couple of things I feel like I didn't make clear from earlier - 1, therapy has been really helpful.  2, My therapist also happens to be an advanced meditator.  This combination of experience has made it easier for us to talk about unusual mental states that may arise during meditation, as well as how one might or might not benefit from a particular practice at a given time.  (In my opinion, which is of course biased). A shared understanding of the dharma also just helps us to be 'on the same page'.

Thank you for all the good vibes!!! _/\_