Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

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Danielle Loesch, modified 10 Years ago at 12/23/11 11:27 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/23/11 11:10 PM

Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 54 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Hi everyone,

Earlier this year I posted an introduction about myself and also had a practice thread going for a while. A brief recap (you can read the threads here and here is that I crossed A&P and had a few days of equanimity at my first Goenka retreat in 1999, then proceeded to swim in the Dark Night for the next 12 years up until today. Every time I would do a retreat with intensive meditation I would make some progress (such as working with Vimalaramsi and Adyashanti for a couple years in 2009 and 2010 where I repeatedly got to 4th and 5th jhanas. (The more recent approach to sitting has been more open awareness and less focused because I just can't do that focused stuff anymore. Also whenever I go into deep relaxation or sometimes drifting off to sleep (in sitting or in receiving bodywork or doing yoga, feldenkrais, whatever) I often get spontaneous spinal movements, especially in the pelvis and lower back but sometimes going all the way up).

But in between these jhanic times my life was filled with misery, and physical problems as well--for one thing I fit the description of "fibromyalgia" with oftentimes burning, stabbing pain all over my body but mostly in the head/jaw and neck. I am experiencing it as I write this, although over the years the frequency and duration is gradually decreasing.

I am so convinced it is mind-caused and this is validated every time I sit down to meditate: IF I am willing to sit through the oftentimes pure torture, then after 20 to 40 minutes, the pain pretty dang reliably dissipates, going along with my mind slowing down and me being able to see how the chain of (dependent origination) reactions causes the tension and pain in my body. If I'm ever in such misery I can't stand it, I pretty much know that if I just sit down and sit still and face it for long enough it will eventually dissipate and I will sometimes get a few minutes or hours of equanimity. BUT the problem is that as soon as I get up from the cushion and my mind kicks in again, the tension and pain in my body returns and I feel like I just can't live a normal life at all. ....... I feel like yes I know seeing impermanence breaks up the solidity of the physical pain but for some reason I don't seem to be getting any new, long-lasting Insights for a long time. Like a shift in perspective or state of mind that will prevent the same build-up of tension from happening over and over again. For this reason, I fear that my practice is being used as pain relief/medication.

If I knew that "if you are willing to sit for X amount per day through this awful pain, then you will at a certain point go beyond simple temporary pain relief into real progress", then I think I could muster up the courage for a strongly determined practice. But because I so easily cause tension and strain with a goal-oriented practice or an expectation of how much I will do per day, I tend to shy away from setting goals like this and try to focus more on relaxation/somatic practices. BUT I REALLY WANT TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE (i mean, OK, twelve years of DN...] and whenever I do things to relax myself, the tension always returns because I haven't eradicated its ROOT.

[I just reread the first link I posted here and I did get some really great feedback and my practice was much stronger for a few months. But then I hit a wall again with tension and resistance, so perhaps hearing fresh responses might help although there was a lot of wisdom packed into that thread.]

In the past I was doing a couple hours sitting a day (the Goenka years, 1999-2003) but I eventually came to realize that I was so tense and my approach to the practice was so tense that I needed to ease off, so I stopped for a while and ever since then have been reluctant to force myself into intensive home practice--I don't trust myself to not be hard on myself to perform, achieve, succeed, etc.

I eventually (early last year) ended up in Reichian therapy to try to unravel somaticized emotions causing psychosomatic illness, but I always had/have the feeling (ever since '99 actually) that everything else is just moving pieces around on the game board and that real Insight is to be my only savior and relief.

I was recently reading other DN threads and it seems like people have super helpful stuff to say, so may I please ask for it directed my way? emoticon

Thanks all.
Danielle (was Uma)
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 6:41 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 6:21 AM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Danielle (was Uma) Sarason:

If I knew that "if you are willing to sit for X amount per day through this awful pain, then you will at a certain point go beyond simple temporary pain relief into real progress", then I think I could muster up the courage for a strongly determined practice. But because I so easily cause tension and strain with a goal-oriented practice or an expectation of how much I will do per day, I tend to shy away from setting goals like this and try to focus more on relaxation/somatic practices. BUT I REALLY WANT TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE (i mean, OK, twelve years of DN...] and whenever I do things to relax myself, the tension always returns because I haven't eradicated its ROOT.


Seems there is a ton of aversion there towards those sensations. Do you see the sensations/pressure in those places as the cause of all this misery?

Perhaps the sensations are not the problem but the very movement to resist them and want them gone is the problem. Perhaps the root of the problem is the blind mental movement to crave cessation of such sensations. Perhaps if you step back and observe what is going on there, you might be able to get a glimpse of this process.

Try looking at the sensations of pressure and notice the very subtle or gross mental tension going on at the same time. Notice how it might seem like the mind is wrestling with those sensations. Notice that the mind does not want to look head on at those sensations but it seems like there are very short moments of pure sensate experience of the sensations peppered with moments of mental tension or a sort of mental 'turning away' from said sensations. Notice how these two occurrences (the pure sensate expericne of sensations and the mental tension) don't happen at the same time. Notice how they seem to occur one after the other very quickly. Can you do this? If so, tell me what your experience is.

Nick
Jill Morana, modified 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 11:19 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 11:07 AM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
Danielle (was Uma) Sarason:
...BUT I REALLY WANT TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE ...


you "get to the other side" when you can accept and become totally fine with everything on this side
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Danielle Loesch, modified 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 2:23 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 2:16 PM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 54 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Nick and TJ B:

Yes, you are both so right and I know it. This is my frustration: Aversion and resistance are a huge problem and when I finally make some progress with these (usually as a result of things getting really intolerable), that is when the solid pain dissolves into vibrations/the pain goes away/I sometimes even get a few minutes, hours, or days of equanimity. But it always comes crashing down back to my previous "major aversion/resistance" mindset and then the aversion/pain/aversion cycle continues.

The image that comes to mind is that of Sisyphus and his rock...pushing it up the hill only to have it roll back down again. Of course, I seem to get the rock to the top of the hill for a little bit before it rolls back down. emoticon

I have seen the truth about aversion and resistance many times (this was one of the great gifts of Goenka's approach for me). But I have yet to make a lasting shift without this dramatic relapse (highs & lows) over and over.

This is exactly one of my main issues with setting goals for my practice: because I want to overcome aversion so badly, I fear that forcing myself to meditate a certain amount every day could just be supporting the part of myself that wants to get rid of the pain (the part that has the aversion). Like, my main motivation for practice might be coming from aversion. I feel confused because of this. I want to practice more but not if it's with the wrong motivation...

I am suspecting that I need to put more attention into my daily life morality...the precepts...I think slippages here and there are a big part of the dramatic relapses.
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Danielle Loesch, modified 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 2:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 2:56 PM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 54 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
Notice how these two occurrences (the pure sensate expericne of sensations and the mental tension) don't happen at the same time. Notice how they seem to occur one after the other very quickly. Can you do this? If so, tell me what your experience is.

Nick


Thanks for this. Something I will investigate further in my next sit.
Jill Morana, modified 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 7:49 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 7:49 PM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
Danielle (was Uma) Sarason:


This is exactly one of my main issues with setting goals for my practice: because I want to overcome aversion so badly, I fear that forcing myself to meditate a certain amount every day could just be supporting the part of myself that wants to get rid of the pain (the part that has the aversion). Like, my main motivation for practice might be coming from aversion. I feel confused because of this. I want to practice more but not if it's with the wrong motivation...


at this point the aversion is there whether or not you set goals and practice, so why not use the aversion to your benefit (aversion towards continuing to live in the dark night and wanting to practice hard to get through it)--nothing wrong with that.

have you done a retreat where you made the effort to stay present and aware every second from waking to bedtime for at least ten days? that would make a big difference.

jill
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Danielle Loesch, modified 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 9:59 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/24/11 9:59 PM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 54 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Jill,

TJ Broccoli:

at this point the aversion is there whether or not you set goals and practice, so why not use the aversion to your benefit (aversion towards continuing to live in the dark night and wanting to practice hard to get through it)--nothing wrong with that.


Thanks, that is a great point! emoticon The aversion is certainly there either way. I just have to be careful of straining in the practice...makes the pain worse.


have you done a retreat where you made the effort to stay present and aware every second from waking to bedtime for at least ten days? that would make a big difference.


I did a few Goenka retreats in the late '90s/early '00s. But since then found the scanning technique to produce too much straining in me and seem to need a more open/less focused approach. I did a couple 2-week retreats in '09 with another teacher but not working with him anymore. I have thought at times to go do another Goenka course because it is so great for this moment-to-moment awareness...but like I said I can't swing the scanning anymore without ultimately creating more tension. And it would seem dishonest to go there and do something else.

Any suggestions welcome. I haven't done an intensive retreat in a couple years because I thought they were contributing to the highs and lows but maybe I am ready for a fresh start. At the very least I am excited to take your suggestion that the aversion is there either way so it's OK to have some stronger determination about a home practice! emoticon

Danielle
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 12/25/11 4:29 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/25/11 4:28 PM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Danielle (was Uma):

...but like I said I can't swing the scanning anymore without ultimately creating more tension. And it would seem dishonest to go there and do something else.


So it seems you are paying attention in a away that leads to the arising of tension. Perhaps you could pay attention in a way (while sweeping or not sweeping) that does not create excess tension.

I wrote this some months back talking about how to pay attention in such a way. Experiment!
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Danielle Loesch, modified 10 Years ago at 1/3/12 4:07 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/3/12 4:07 PM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 54 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:


So it seems you are paying attention in a away that leads to the arising of tension. Perhaps you could pay attention in a way (while sweeping or not sweeping) that does not create excess tension.

I wrote this some months back talking about how to pay attention in such a way. Experiment!


Hi Nick,

Thanks for your suggestions. I am finding in general that my meditation seems to be moving again instead of stuck, since I started this thread. With your first suggestion above, to investigate the different timings between the sensation and the resistance, this was helpful and interesting. But it also came with a big dose of "trying to investigate the right way so i have the right answer to report back"...which I had to let go of! (Trying to do it right does create extra tension for me...)

The paying attention in a way that leads to the arising of tension has been a roadblock for me ever since that first experience of A&P etc years ago. After that I think there was usually too much tension and striving. Actually there might have been before that too, but I didn't think I knew what I was going for so I probably wasn't as controlling!! But anyway, reading your words linked here about not fabricating paying attention was really helpful and relaxing, and I will bookmark it for revisiting!

Danielle
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 1/3/12 4:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/3/12 4:16 PM

RE: Advice for this phase of my DN practice?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Just wanted to highlight the usefulness of the blog post Nick's linked to here and heartily recommend that you give it a try, regardless of how you're practice is going.

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