Announcements Announcements

DhO Hacked and Upgrade

General

ATTENTION!: It appears that our server has been hacked through this version of Liferay, meaning it is no longer secure, and so expect instability as we deal with this and attempt to upgrade to Liferay 7, which we failed to be able to do last year the last time the team attempted it, but we have no choice at this point, so bear with us as we try again. Save any long posts in a text file before posting them. You can follow me on Twitter at @danielmingram for updates if the site is down. Apologies for any complexity this causes. We will work as fast as we can. We have backups of the database, so hopefully nothing will be lost. Thanks to all helping with this complex process.

 

 

 

Message Boards Message Boards

Toggle
Fearful experience
Answer
11/30/11 3:59 AM
I'm trying to diagnose an experience I had today and I experienced also before on the cushion. I was quite a mess this morning, experiencing a lot of anxiety and feeling depressed. I decided to do some lying meditation/relaxation. For a few hours, I paid attention to the tension in my body and the anxious memories arising in my mind. I would experience the usual spasms that happen to me when I don't allow anxiety turn into muscular tension.

I more or less felt asleep at some point (but I'm not sure) and then I experienced this sensation of disappearing. I experienced it before in retreat on the cushion but this time it lasted longer, which made the experience more scary, even if it was nothing new.

I did talk to myself during the experience, with thoughts like "Don't be scared! Don't be scared" and "Let things go".

It feels like falling into an abyss. Everything get dark and each time and I scream inside, terrified. On the cushion, the feeling of having my body disappearing was more obvious. This time, I somewhat missed this transition but I did feel a strong influx of "energy" in my head at the beginning.

Getting out of it feel a bit like waking up from a nightmare and my heart is pounding but it doesn't end with any body movement. The difference from a nightmare is that there is no confusion since I'm not "waking up", there is nothing to confuse with reality and my mind feel relatively clear.

I kept having spasms for a few minutes afterward but the anxiety subsided. It was obvious that I was feeling much better than this morning but I was very emotional for about an hour with a desire to cry. I now feel quite good and able to engage with life.

RE: Fearful experience
Answer
11/30/11 10:06 AM as a reply to Simon T..
Hi Simon,

It sounds to me like an experience of dissociation, which can often arise as an involuntary coping mechanism in response to anxiety or stress. Though you didn't do it on purpose, your mind checked out of the experience because it was too much to handle. It's almost like blowing a fuse, or tripping a circuit breaker. The is a wide variety of ways dissociaion can occur, so descriptions vary from one person to the next. The experience can be quite unsettling, though. Most people wouldn't do it on purpose if they had the choice, at least not in most stressful situations.

These little episodes can be frustrating for someone attempting to be mindful of anxiety, since the purpose of mindfulness is not to check-out or dissociate. When it happens, do what you can to notice that it happened and allow your mind to reintegrate your experience in its own time. You may try bringing your attention to the tingling sensations in your hands and feat, or even ask yourself, "Do my hands feel hot or cold?" This tends to bring your mind back to the present-moment experience of the body, and helps being the episode to a close.

Of course, I could be diagnosing this incorrectly. I don't think it has anything to do with the stages of insight, per se.

-Jackson

RE: Fearful experience
Answer
11/30/11 9:03 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Jackson Wilshire:


It sounds to me like an experience of dissociation, which can often arise as an involuntary coping mechanism in response to anxiety or stress. Though you didn't do it on purpose, your mind checked out of the experience because it was too much to handle.


It could very well be that. Shinzen Young talk about depersonalization/derealization in one video. It's supposed to be found somewhere in the classic text being described as "falling into the pit of the void". It definitely feel like falling into the void. It doesn't last very long for me, maybe 2-3 seconds. I ended up crying quite a bit during the rest of the day so there was definitely a strong emotional component hanging around.

RE: Fearful experience
Answer
12/1/11 10:03 AM as a reply to Simon T..
Simon T.:
It could very well be that. Shinzen Young talk about depersonalization/derealization in one video. It's supposed to be found somewhere in the classic text being described as "falling into the pit of the void". It definitely feel like falling into the void. It doesn't last very long for me, maybe 2-3 seconds. I ended up crying quite a bit during the rest of the day so there was definitely a strong emotional component hanging around.


What's tricky about all of this is that there are a lot of psychological states that have similar characteristics to experiences described in contemplative traditions. Although there may be some similarities, I wouldn't say that there always the same. Sometimes they are really quite different.

An example of this is the feeling of "emptiness" felt by individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder. Someon with BPD may feel empty inside, and then relate to the texts that speak about Emptiness or the Void feel like they have an intuitive understanding of the teachings. But this is not the same Emptiness that the great sages write about and teach.

Dissociation/depersonalization/derealization (pick your favorite) can be similar. Yes, realization of not-self could be seen as "depersonalization" in some contexts. But the term means different things to mental health professionals and meditation teahcers (unless one person does both, which is common these days. Such people should know the difference).

Not that you're asking for advice, but I sitll recommended what I suggested in my first reply. You void experience sounds more like the workings of an unconscious defense mechanism rather than an opening into realization, or even the shift into a stage of insight. It doesn't have to be a big deal, and the reaction of your mind can be reconditioned. Simply and gently bring yourself back to a wakeful, integrated state when this happens. Relax, pay attention to something tangible in your body, like the temperature of your finger tips. Once you regain your composure, return to your practice in a kind and gentle way. Over time, your mind will stop finding anxiety so scary, and will stop trying to protect you from it.

Also, feel free to get a second opinion ;-)

Best!
-Jackson

RE: Fearful experience
Answer
12/1/11 11:15 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Yes, the words used to describe things that can't be describe can lead to some confusion. I think I can compare my experience to sleep paralysis. My experiences of sleep paralysis weren't too frightening but the feeling of not having a body but still having consciousness was similar. Also, some people report a sensation of free falling in sleep paralysis, something I felt. The part of the brain that deal with sensations could be shutting down to protect itself from an overload.