Dealing with persistent sankhara/purification

Lost & Found, modified 1 Year ago at 2/3/23 7:31 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/3/23 7:31 PM

Dealing with persistent sankhara/purification

Post: 1 Join Date: 2/3/23 Recent Posts
Heya there,

Here are a couple burning questions.  My A/P cherry popped four years ago in the first body scan in a Goenka, with funky electrical currents and piercing knots.  Ended with more questions than answers but greatly interested; found The Mind Illuminated some months later and, heeding its warning, I stuck to the breath.  I was courting stage 4 (not losing the breath from the foreground of attention for more than a second) when a funny trhoat knot started appearing every sit.   After three weeks it started pulsing, throbbing, then dissolved on a pleasant tingling and didn't come back.  "Hmm, fancy that."

...until it did, months later, during a breakup.  TMI warns of hidden stuff coming up when the waters clear up, tho not of it happening when shit hits the fan, but still from the first catharsis I assumed the pain was from old wounds.  After it dissolved into tingles multiple times (chasing the breath, IFS, Metta and do nothing), on a day I literaly did nothing but lay down at the beach, memories surfaced from a similar breakup long ago, and it didn't came back.  "Oooooh, I get it!"

It's been half a dozen or so knots, pulls, burnings, each more wacky than the last, but all dissolved eventually, with the former practices, and also with noting and Tonglen; but, I've been dealing with a pesky burning in the throat for over a year with no luck.  At the start I would just cough or interrupt the sit to have a drink until one day I got it, and let it do its thing: throat closed and I half-choked for a minute before going into full catharsis.  The reaction softened over time, and while living at a monastery for a couple months and in a retreat with Shayla Catherine it started manifesting as just tingling, but once centration diminishes the burning comes back, together with the choking, and end up with a mouthful of flegm and a full nose, and some vague emotional hurt.

In some periods it can show up three times per hour when sitting, and ever since the monastery, it can show up any time I'm slightly introspective during daily life, so it's become kind of disruptive.  I have asked several teachers, without much success.  Thanissaro adviced to ignore it.  "How can I ignore that I'm choking??" I replied excitedly; he then procedeed to demonstrate the technique.  Vince Horn suggested I try moving my neck, and the first two times it felt like it was full of glass shards, so something happened (hmmm... had a faceplant with a bamboo flute on my mouth as a child and pierced my throat...), but things went back to normal after that. 

Mind you, this is all a working hypotesis, I'm still getting my head around all this, so first than anything, does this sound plausible, or should I be asking an M.D. instead? (Covid made the reaction show up a lot... hmmm)

Second, what resources/books could help?  Most of them don't even bother to mention the wacky side effects, which actually seem to be the main deal!   Are there teachers specialized in stubborn shankaras?  (I even tried a family constellation, but nothing came up... until the closing meditation xD)

And for extra points, is there any relation between purifications and them ñannas?

Thanks for any help.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago at 2/4/23 6:44 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/4/23 6:44 AM

RE: Dealing with persistent sankhara/purification

Posts: 2579 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Of course you should go to an M.D. if a physical problem perisists. 
Nikolai , modified 1 Year ago at 2/4/23 4:48 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/4/23 4:40 PM

RE: Dealing with persistent sankhara/purification

Posts: 1677 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Sounds so very similar to my experience while in the Goenka tradition. I remember the first time one of those knots totally dissolved. 

I was in the kitchen washing the pots and pans. I had a thought, why the F was I relegated to pots and pans again. This is serving on my first ever 10 day as a server.

That irritated thought got more obvious as well as an obvious knot of burning in my chest. It started getting stronger. I remembered the often repeated advice to just observe. As I observed, my sense of irritation sort of separated from my sense of "self" and it was like it was being observed from above, with no "me" connected to it. 

The physical sensation in my chest got so strong it started pulsating . By now it felt truly trippy and other worldly. I stopped washing  the pots and ran into another room to sit down as the
, by now,  violently pulsating knot in my chest had taken on a life of its own. Then uncontrollable tears and sobbing began , still like observing from outside my body. It felt like no one was crying but a pure release of a lifetime of some sort of emotional hurt. After 5 minutes it dissipated while a fellow older student sat with me and told me to just observe. 

That  was my first truly obvious knot and release of it. I have had that throat one as well. It seems linked to much emotional turmoil built up in the past. 

In hindsight, 20 years later, I think I made the knots worse by paying all attention to them. I happened to come accross an old vipassana pamphlet while dusting Goenka's  personal library in his quarters at Dhamma Giri (I was a naughty pali student) with a story of Sayagi U Ba Khin telling Goenka as a student to centre all his attention in the chest area for entire sits. I read that and nothing could stop me doing that. But I think there is a reason for the 20 day instruction? to do this but not for very long., just  a few minutes at a time. I feel that prolonged attention is actually bringing it into existence. Later on post-SE, I discovered that peripheral awareness as opposed to hyper focused attention did a better job of dissolving such knots. 

Even later I discovered completely ignoring them worked even better. Not in a sense of "oh there is knot, let me pay attention to something else, but with the knot still being sensed in the background". but actually understanding that the knot seemed to co-arise with the directed attention towards it. The hand grasping out was actually giving rise to what it grasped. 

instead, I directed the mind to stop giving rise to it. Stop giving "shape" to the knot. Not ignore the knot as if it was an actual object to ignore. But cease giving "shape" and "name" to it. Giving the mind permission to cease giving shape and name to the knot seemed to automatically lead the mind to cease this very action. And with that, any knot just collapsed. I ceased directing attention to make it into an "object" to then react towards. 

Perpheral awareness was a stepping stone to this and I'm assuming post-SE mind state access and abilities was also helpful and perhaps key. Not sure if it would work pre-SE. 

I'll post a link to peripheral awareness info in a sec. 
Nikolai , modified 1 Year ago at 2/4/23 4:45 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/4/23 4:42 PM

RE: Dealing with persistent sankhara/purification

Posts: 1677 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts

​​​​​​​I think see comment section as well for more info. Particularly the Culadasa pointer. 
Kevin Andrew, modified 1 Year ago at 2/5/23 1:42 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/5/23 1:42 PM

RE: Dealing with persistent sankhara/purification

Posts: 85 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I practise Goenka-style.

I have what I call 'the thing on the side of my head'. I suspect it is from physical trauma and has an emotional component. It has been there for years and as I've written elsewhere can get quite 'gnarly' now. One of my ATs mentioned a sankhara they had been working on for years.

What Nikolai said, "The hand grasping out was actually giving rise to what it grasped." We will be dealing with these things until we figure them out. I suggest the throat thing is like the other things that dissolved for you. I have experienced similar. The throat is gonna take more courage to just observe with the same dispassion as everything else.

Also what shargrol said, be sure it's not some other emergent condition.

​​​​​​​My 2 cents...
Aviva HaMakom, modified 1 Year ago at 2/5/23 2:09 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/5/23 2:09 PM

RE: Dealing with persistent sankhara/purification

Posts: 103 Join Date: 12/17/22 Recent Posts
I agree with all of the above (see a doctor to rule out a physical problem, it could well be some type of cellular damage from COVID that might heal over time, try some of the paradigm shifts Nikolai mentioned). 

Two further thoughts:

Since this is the throat chakra, are there (or were there) significant things you want to say to people that you are "swallowing"? Do you feel able to fully express yourself, verbally and creatively? Do you find it easy to let others do the same?

Also: is your diet the healthiest-for-you it could be? With purification stuff, diet is one of the things on the body end of the mind-body continuum that we have a more concrete ability to change. It might not apply to you, but mentioning it just in case it is helpful.

Much metta and success to you in dissolving/ignoring/purifying these things.