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Don't know what to do Daniel Johnson 10/12/12 7:27 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Simon T. 10/12/12 9:49 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Change A. 10/12/12 10:14 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Russell . 10/12/12 10:06 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Some Guy 10/13/12 7:38 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Richard Zen 10/12/12 10:12 PM
RE: Don't know what to do N A 10/13/12 1:57 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Tom Tom 10/13/12 3:24 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Tom Tom 10/13/12 3:27 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Change A. 10/13/12 12:16 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Brother Pussycat 10/16/12 4:10 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Daniel Johnson 10/16/12 1:44 PM
RE: Don't know what to do tom moylan 10/16/12 5:42 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 10/16/12 10:39 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Change A. 10/16/12 10:00 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 10/17/12 1:29 AM
RE: Don't know what to do fivebells . 10/16/12 11:22 AM
RE: Don't know what to do End in Sight 10/16/12 11:32 AM
RE: Don't know what to do mind less 10/16/12 1:07 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Bruno Loff 10/16/12 4:17 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Richard Zen 10/16/12 5:40 PM
RE: Don't know what to do This Good Self 10/16/12 8:04 PM
RE: Don't know what to do This Good Self 10/16/12 10:20 PM
RE: Don't know what to do This Good Self 10/17/12 6:18 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Simon Ekstrand 10/17/12 7:25 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Richard Zen 10/17/12 10:37 AM
RE: Don't know what to do This Good Self 10/17/12 7:21 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Richard Zen 10/17/12 10:40 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Robert McLune 10/18/12 9:28 PM
RE: Don't know what to do This Good Self 10/19/12 6:38 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Robert McLune 10/19/12 8:36 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Zyndo Zyhion 10/18/12 8:19 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Zyndo Zyhion 10/21/12 4:39 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Tom Tom 10/25/12 12:16 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Zyndo Zyhion 10/25/12 2:28 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Daniel Johnson 10/26/12 5:13 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Jeff Grove 10/16/12 5:37 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Tom Tom 10/19/12 6:41 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Nikolai . 10/19/12 7:13 PM
RE: Don't know what to do End in Sight 10/20/12 7:43 AM
RE: Don't know what to do Tom Tom 10/20/12 12:26 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Tom Tom 10/20/12 5:58 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Daniel Johnson 10/26/12 5:40 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Adam . . 10/26/12 6:32 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Tom Tom 10/26/12 11:59 PM
RE: Don't know what to do Zyndo Zyhion 11/6/12 4:13 PM
RE: Don't know what to do rich s 10/24/12 11:49 AM
Don't know what to do
Answer
10/12/12 7:27 PM
It took me quite a while, but I think I finally got to the point a while back where I understood how to practice this noting/noticing type of meditation. It seems that when I practice sincerely, and with some energy behind it, I make progress along the axis of insight. I think this is true because it seems clear that awareness increases, more thing are seen clearly for what they are, delusions are seen through. This is progress in terms of general insight into the nature of experience (The 3 characteristics).

It seems that the practice follows down this path further and further. I could imagine an end to this path at some point where all phenomena are seen clearly in this way, which might require a lifetime of work. From my current viewpoint, it is a vast project which will require a tremendous amount of time and energy.

I find this path to be fascinating and somewhat inherently valuable for the insight itself. I also find that over the last few years I have become much more sensitive and aware of the different subtler qualities of experience. I think there is also something somewhat liberating about the freedom of not being bound to certain delusions.

Along with the sensitivity, I've found at times very strong emotional and energetic swings. These are often quite painful, dramatic, intense, irrational, and debilitating - among other things. It seems that the more I practice this meditation, the more unpredictable and erratic the energy can be. Perhaps, to some extent, my response to these various energetic swings also improves with practice. This is beneficial because although it may be more intense or more out of control, at least I am doing less to perpetuate it.

At times, I've had some experiences which match up with some of the maps and some descriptions of what other people experience, but I think mostly my experiences don't seem to follow the patterns, maps, or strata which other people describe. At the least, I am still unable to recognize such patterns after a lot of effort in that pursuit.

My "First Training" life of everyday affairs is quite up in the air. I quit my career two years ago to pursue meditation full time. While at times this seems to fit the model of the Dark Night, it also still seems like the most rational, ethical, and intelligent thing I could have done in the situation.

After exhausting my financial reserves and exploring the option of monkhood, I am now decided that I want to rebuild a householder's life. I experience many cravings when I think about this, and the strongest of those cravings may be for the seemingly "noble" pursuits of a householder's life. For example, the idea of a career which helps change humanity for the better is something I may even crave more than sex. At the same time, a career founded on craving seems uninspiring.

While I enjoy this project of the second and third trainings, it seems that they are very large projects to undertake for my current mental capacity. In other words, it seems it could potentially take years on retreat, or maybe an entire lifetime. And, this time and energy obviously draws from the amount of time and energy that can be dedicated to the first training.

In terms of insight, it is often like walking into the darkness because I don't know what I will encounter until I get there, but it seems like there is probably quite a large territory yet to be explored.

In terms of concentration, I think the most clean and quiet my mind has ever been was after 6 weeks on retreat. It was a wonderful state of clarity and tranquility, with a mind that was able to penetrate easily into any object. It was generally quite pleasant. I currently don't know any way to attain such a state without long retreat.

And then there is Actualism. I remember having great results with this practice when I was really practicing it, but now it seems mostly like a memory. Richard's commentary about Tarin's claim (and retracted claim) to actual freedom, and Tarin's subsequent disappearance from this board have left me somewhat confused, and perhaps also doubting. In some way, it seems like even a larger undertaking, and perhaps even more nebulous in the nature, direction, and length of the path (after all, it is wide and wondrous). I don't know if this practice is compatible with any of the three trainings, or perhaps even all of them. Most practitioners seem to claim that it is compatible with a householder's lifestyle.

At the heart of it, I have trouble remembering why I'm doing any of this. Right now, I think it is mostly motivated by this:
1. Life is some kind of precious and unique opportunity
2. If this is true, then it follows that the best course of action would be to make best use of such a precious opportunity.
3. What is the best way to make use of this opportunity of being alive right now as a human being?

This is a question which I don't have an answer to. (I'm also somewhat uncertain about the question itself.)

I have been suffering a lot lately.

I would love to get any feedback or responses or questions to this post.

Thanks for reading emoticon

- Daniel

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/12/12 9:49 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
I don't have much advice to provide but I share many of those feelings. It's not an easy ride but what else there is to do down here but pay attention? Here is my skype if you want to drop by: jackinbox78

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/12/12 10:14 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
At the heart of it, I have trouble remembering why I'm doing any of this.


Daniel Johnson:
I have been suffering a lot lately.


I practice so that it reduces suffering in my life which it has to an extremely large extent which I wouldn't have thought to even be possible when I first started (2007).

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/12/12 10:06 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
My advice is to get a teacher if you are serious about getting this done. It can be done, and fairly quickly. Reach out to other people that have been through this as well, it helps tremendously to just talk. I would suggest getting a very pragmatic, practical teacher such as those listed on KFD. That's just my opinion though.

If you would like to talk sometime on Skype, send me a PM.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/12/12 10:12 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Listen to your conscience and don't mix it up with guilt over craving. I would definitely add some cognitive therapy like Focusing by Gendlin to tap into that. Some of the reactivity and niggling conscience pangs should be delved into instead of ignored. Understanding the emotions can right itself because the confusion ends on what you want. Oftentimes meditators block out reasonable and legitimate desires assuming all desires are bad. Good practice of course doesn't block it out. If they are wholesome (practice a job that is helpful) I don't see samsara in that.

Focusing - Six steps

I've never went on a retreat and feel that paying attention should be in any situation otherwise it's impractical for me because it's too sheltered.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/13/12 1:57 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
I think you should go ahead and get a career that will help change humanity for the better.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/13/12 3:24 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
According to the guru sage known as the rock band Tool in a song called Lateralus:

Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must
Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines.


Forget about the maps. Put your trust in the body let it do what it needs to do and go where it needs to go. Words are not the language of the body. Given that this is difficult to accomplish, go to this link to learn more:

http://www.dharmaocean.org

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/13/12 3:27 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
I just went the dharmaocean site and found a relevant quote:

What are we trying to do, anyway?

What we are trying to do with our meditation practice is to find out how samsara works. When you see exactly how samsara is operating then right then, at that moment, you are free. What goes on in us that we get so tied up? So let's look right at our most difficult emotions and states of mind. The more turbulent and frantic our mental state is, the more worthwhile it is to look right into it because the more we are likely to find out.

These teachings are updated weekly. Come back next week for another teaching by Reginald A. Ray A. Ray

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/13/12 7:38 AM as a reply to Russell ..
Russell:
My advice is to get a teacher if you are serious about getting this done. It can be done, and fairly quickly. Reach out to other people that have been through this as well, it helps tremendously to just talk. I would suggest getting a very pragmatic, practical teacher such as those listed on KFD. That's just my opinion though.


I'll second this opinion. One downfall of relying on forums for advice is that you can just filter out your preferences, which may not be the best for you. There's a benefit of entrusting some choices to someone else, especially if you're prone to indecision or over-analysis.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/13/12 12:16 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
1. Life is some kind of precious and unique opportunity
2. If this is true, then it follows that the best course of action would be to make best use of such a precious opportunity.
3. What is the best way to make use of this opportunity of being alive right now as a human being?

This is a question which I don't have an answer to. (I'm also somewhat uncertain about the question itself.)

I have been suffering a lot lately.


Maybe you are considering life as too precious and that is what is causing you a lot of suffering. Try meditating on death instead and before doing any formal sitting meditation, do the yoga asanas as described by Venerable Rahula in the links contained in this thread.

I think this will help alleviate the suffering and that is what is causing you to think about all this stuff.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 4:10 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:



And then there is Actualism. I remember having great results with this practice when I was really practicing it, but now it seems mostly like a memory. Richard's commentary about Tarin's claim (and retracted claim) to actual freedom, and Tarin's subsequent disappearance from this board have left me somewhat confused, and perhaps also doubting. In some way, it seems like even a larger undertaking, and perhaps even more nebulous in the nature, direction, and length of the path (after all, it is wide and wondrous). I don't know if this practice is compatible with any of the three trainings, or perhaps even all of them. Most practitioners seem to claim that it is compatible with a householder's lifestyle.
l


If you had great results practicing it, why did you stop?

I don't think Richard's or Tarin's or anyone's reservations about what constitutes AF are reason enough to quit a practice that, in your own words, produced great results. So it might not have been 'pure' AF; so what?

By all means, go ahead and find a career that will lead to the betterment of mankind. But be aware of the fact that you're bound to suffer many disappointments on that road. To persist, you will need a practice that gives you good, beneficial results (joy, clarity, fearlessness etc.) right here right now.

So go back to whatever worked for you best. Moment of tried and tested practice -> beneficial result. Next moment of this practice -> next beneficial result. Moment of thinking how X or Y have reservations about that practice - not a moment of practice -> no beneficial result. Moment of thinking how the end goal of the practice is months, weeks, or aeons away - not a moment of practice -> no beneficial result.

As long as you're actually practicing, you're likely to have beneficial results, which will prove invaluable in your "right career".

As long as you're allowing doubt or uncertainty to deceive you, you're not actually practicing, and so will not have any beneficial results.

Now, if nowadays any attempt at practice seems to fall flat on its face, I agree it'd be best to find a teacher.

I hope this helps address the three points you've raised.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 5:42 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Hi Daniel,
nice to read you again. I like Bikku Bodhi's boiled down statement of the path. It goes something like this, "We have only two things to do: Start on the path, and continue on it."

I fall back on this simplicity when the confusion and doubt come to the fore, when I can't remember when the last time was I had a transcendent sit or when "the goal" seems distant or impossible.

I also like the Buddha's cooked down version as to what he taught, namely: "I teach the truth of suffering and how to end it."

If you believe that this is a continuing flow which goes over eons, then take the long view and know that if you are this far along your goal will be reached.

So. I admire your commitment to the dharma. I admire your desire to do good. These are large and valuable things. I'm certain that whatever you choose will only add to your already vast positive karma. Try to enjoy it.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 10:39 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
At the heart of it, I have trouble remembering why I'm doing any of this. Right now, I think it is mostly motivated by this:
1. Life is some kind of precious and unique opportunity
2. If this is true, then it follows that the best course of action would be to make best use of such a precious opportunity.
3. What is the best way to make use of this opportunity of being alive right now as a human being?

This is a question which I don't have an answer to. (I'm also somewhat uncertain about the question itself.)

I have been suffering a lot lately.

I like that way of thinking about it. Personally, I think the answer to #3 is to enjoy being alive as much as humanly possible. To that end, I've found that actualism delivers the goods far better than meditation ever did. I am certainly enjoying myself a lot more now than I was 6 months ago, which is when I managed to drop the whole meditation thing. So, I'll recommend the same to you, and I'll see if I can say anything that might help you with regards to that goal. Obviously it is your choice either way.

Daniel Johnson:
And then there is Actualism. I remember having great results with this practice when I was really practicing it, but now it seems mostly like a memory. Richard's commentary about Tarin's claim (and retracted claim) to actual freedom, and Tarin's subsequent disappearance from this board have left me somewhat confused, and perhaps also doubting.

Indeed, the goings on on the DhO and on the AF yahoo group and Richard's announcement filled me with tremendous doubt, as well. Somehow Tarin's posts were not satisfactory. I sought to resolve my doubts by visiting Richard in person, and I am certainly glad I did. My advice to you is to no longer look to Tarin or Trent or Nikolai or Jill for advice on how to become actually free, but rather, focus on the AFT site, or on the yahoo groups as it seems there might be a few actualists around there.

Daniel Johnson:
In some way, it seems like even a larger undertaking, and perhaps even more nebulous in the nature, direction, and length of the path (after all, it is wide and wondrous).

Ah but it's quite the opposite. The meditative path is quite nebulous (just observe how repeatedly participants will say that it is very difficult to put into words what they are experiencing), the direction is nebulous (how much have the goalposts changed? First it was clear-cut MCTB lays out stream entry, all the sutta paths, 4th path is full enlightenment; then there was this aff business; Nikolai is going further it seems; KFD has another system entirely; etc), and the length is questionable (how many people say they are finally done with nothing left to do and they now enjoy themselves fully without meditating whatsoever?).

Whereas the actualist path is clear (Richard, for example, readily describes it), the direction is clear once you figure out and experience pure intent (just follow that pure intent), and the length... well, true, not many people have done it, but the ones that are done are done (Richard says he experiences himself much the same now as 17 years ago, and he no longer practices or meditates or 'life has become meditation' or anything like that).

Daniel Johnson:
Most practitioners seem to claim that it is compatible with a householder's lifestyle.

I agree.

Daniel Johnson:
I don't know if this practice is compatible with any of the three trainings, or perhaps even all of them.

Here's the most difficult part about undertaking actualism - letting go of spirituality. Indeed, the practice is totally incompatible with any of the three trainings - complete opposites.

Morality is about what is 'right' and 'wrong'. Another explanation would be Sin and what happens when you Sin thanks to the divine law of Karma. Check out this sutta which explains what happens if you are immoral and don't treat the enlightened ones properly (hint: you go to several painful hells). This very notion of 'right' and 'wrong' is dispelled in numerous pages on the AFT site.

Concentration is essentially garnering psychic power with which to enter altered states of consciousness, either temporarily (e.g. jhanas) or permanently (e.g. MCTB paths). As the actualist path is about avoiding altered states of consciousness, concentration is directly antithetical to actualism.

Finally, Insight/Wisdom is a particular way of seeing the world: as empty, not inherently existing, no body existing (see Tommy's latest post about any notion of a body existing being mere 'imputation'), all of it unsatisfying, etc. As this is not seeing the world as it is, but rather, projecting an (impermanent, not-self, dukkha, centerless, agentless, etc.) identity more and more onto the world at large, noticing that projected identity is empty, etc., and mistaking the physical world itself to be so, Insight/Wisdom is nothing but delusion.

Indeed, you won't find mention of anything resembling pure intent or the actual world in any of the three trainings, nor even any of Buddha's teachings.

The tricky part is that it seems to work and it seems to promise peace or something desirable, as you indicate:
Daniel Johnson:
I think this is true because it seems clear that awareness increases, more thing are seen clearly for what they are, delusions are seen through. This is progress in terms of general insight into the nature of experience (The 3 characteristics).
...
It seems that the practice follows down this path further and further. I could imagine an end to this path at some point where all phenomena are seen clearly in this way ...
...
I find this path to be fascinating and somewhat inherently valuable for the insight itself.
...
While at times this seems to fit the model of the Dark Night, it also still seems like the most rational, ethical, and intelligent thing I could have done in the situation.
...
In terms of concentration, I think the most clean and quiet my mind has ever been was after 6 weeks on retreat. It was a wonderful state of clarity and tranquility, with a mind that was able to penetrate easily into any object. It was generally quite pleasant. I currently don't know any way to attain such a state without long retreat.

So, you seem to see some value in it. Notice however that none of your listed benefits actually have anything to do with enjoying being alive or interacting with others or having fun or anything like that; they're all related to seeing the world a particular way, that way of seeing the world being valuable in and of itself, and being tranquil in a way which allowed that seeing to happen more readily. Further, I will point out the price you are paying for the above:
Daniel Johnson:
Along with the sensitivity, I've found at times very strong emotional and energetic swings. These are often quite painful, dramatic, intense, irrational, and debilitating - among other things. It seems that the more I practice this meditation, the more unpredictable and erratic the energy can be. Perhaps, to some extent, my response to these various energetic swings also improves with practice. This is beneficial because although it may be more intense or more out of control, at least I am doing less to perpetuate it.

Far be it from being tranquil all the time, it seems a lot of the time you've actually become more unstable/dramatic/irritable, etc. I can certainly relate to that as the same happened to me. At some point shortly after 'stream entry' I wondered if all I had really succeeded in doing is to become bipolar.

Also notice the way you've tied yourself in a knot, here. You say it's a good thing you're doing less to perpetuate these mood swings, even though they're more intense, yet they are only getting more intense as a result of what you're doing in the first place (meditating). The goal of wanting to see the world a certain way overrides such sensibilities, though, and one feels it is all worth it, in the end (but for what end? one doesn't even know).

Daniel Johnson:
I quit my career two years ago to pursue meditation full time.
...
After exhausting my financial reserves and exploring the option of monkhood

So that intense instability, coupled with the fact that you felt calm after having withdrawn from the world, caused you to cease being able to make a living (quitting your career) and to exhaust all your worldly savings... something which definitely made it more difficult to live in the world, no?

Couple those with the fact that you aren't actually seeing through delusions but forming new ones (the universe is not impermanent, every sensation is not suffering, things do exist), and hardly any case can be made for the spiritual path at all.

(By the way, this is why the meditative path takes so much effort and requires withdrawing from the world - because the universe does indeed exist and all your physical senses are (figuratively) screaming at you that this is the case. You have to constantly deny all that by meditating, which takes a tremendous amount of effort - and that's why you need concentration, so you can garner up the psychic power to do so. The affective/psychic faculty is indeed a powerful one.)

In any case, the choice is yours. I've attempted to make the case pro actualism anti spiritualism but it is up to you to do what you want. Needless to say, if you want to pursue the actualist path, you will have to turn around completely, drop all the spiritual beliefs you've picked up over the years, and begin contemplating what it really means to be alive!

Cheers,
- Claudiu

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 11:22 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
...the idea of a career which helps change humanity for the better is something I may even crave more than sex. At the same time, a career founded on craving seems uninspiring.


I've spent most of my adult life chasing this, I know that craving. Have you considered applying your insight practice to explore its causes and conditions? In my case, it arises from shame, self-hatred and a craving for love and acceptance, all of which made the whole enterprise self-defeating. That's me, though, I'm not saying that's what's happening for anyone else. But I wish for all who suffer this way that they find the love and self-acceptance they seek within themselves.

Daniel Johnson:
I have been suffering a lot lately.

I would love to get any feedback or responses or questions to this post.


I'm sorry you're going through this. I hope you find some peace in the midst of it.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 11:32 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
In terms of concentration, I think the most clean and quiet my mind has ever been was after 6 weeks on retreat. It was a wonderful state of clarity and tranquility, with a mind that was able to penetrate easily into any object. It was generally quite pleasant. I currently don't know any way to attain such a state without long retreat.


In this sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html), reading from the section "Higher Fruits of the Contemplative Life" to "Abandoning the Hindrances", would you say that something like the spirit of those causes and conditions gradually fell into place after 6 weeks of retreat?

You mentioned taking off two years for meditation practice, but not two years of retreat. I'm curious how you scheduled your time. One possibility is that your particular mental constitution requires long periods of time away from everyday stuff in order to develop these kinds of good mental qualities in a sustainable way. If that were true, it would seem that the meditative path would be very difficult for you, if you pursued it in any other way. And if you wanted to continue to pursue it, the best way might well be to become a monk and / or to focus on long blocks of time spent on retreat. The former isn't the householder's life, obviously, and the latter is probably very hard to integrate into the typical householder's life.

So, if you think this is a good summary of things, and you're not willing or able to consider becoming a monk or doing long meditation retreats, I would counsel trying something different. Either a different style of meditation, a different tradition, a different way of looking at the world and approaching everyday life (perhaps some kind of psychotherapy?), different life circumstances...but, something different that might help you navigate the impasse you're stuck at.

If you think this isn't a good summary of things, I'm not sure I have anything insightful to offer you, sorry.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 1:07 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
In terms of insight, it is often like walking into the darkness because I don't know what I will encounter until I get there, but it seems like there is probably quite a large territory yet to be explored.


This is a good description of life in general also. I don't intend to be insensitive, but accept the darkness and enjoy it. Don't take life too serious.

It seems you are demanding too much from yourself. I was in your shoes a few years ago, doubting, suffering, thinking about monkhood. Thinking my practise was not going forward. I went to a monastery in Burma for some time. It was a good experience and I learned a lot, but I also realized that life must be lived 'in the world'. I chose the 'house holder's life' and my meditation practice and my life in general is better than ever.

1. Move focus from yourself by asking yourself what you can do for other people, and then do it. It can be a career or voluntary work, or simply helping out the people close to you.

2. Express your appreciation and contentedness for the good things you do have in your life.

3. You might get better training 'in the world' than in a monastery. Don't underestimate what you can learn from relationships and the boredom of everyday life.

4. Don't seek happiness. Let happiness find you instead (cliché, but true).

5. Spend more time in nature. Enjoy its wonders. Relax.

A word of advice from Thomas Merton: "[...] the idea that one can seriously cultivate his own personal freedom merely by discarding inhibitions and obligations, to live in self-centered spontaneity, results in the complete decay of the true self and of its capacity for freedom".

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 1:44 PM as a reply to Brother Pussycat.
Thanks for all these responses. I was surprised to see so many thoughtful replies. I will take some time to re-read and digest some of this information. emoticon

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 4:17 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Claudiu: your chatter about spirituality reminds me of my own; if you are anything like I was at the time (and your writing sounds quite similar), you are cherry-picking your evidence, or settling for little to no-evidence, to favor the conclusion you already believe in. A little bit more effort and you will acquire the abilities of rationalization and memory selection, and if those settle in place they will work quite well with your present lack of intellectual rigor, and then how could the world possibly avoid fitting into your world-view? I recommend a scientific attitude, I personally find a deeply dogmatic stance in all of your latest posts (and my own similar writings of yore, and in Richard's writings also).

Daniel: Here is something about your experience which I have never heard you clearly say, and yet which I think is true.

I think that your doubts and difficulties (and the reason things seem to take so long and concentration goes nowhere) are simply a matter of you being under an extra-ordinary amount of pain.

I do not know the reason for this pain, maybe it is some sort of energetic malfunctioning (e.g. a channel not properly circulating or something like that)? Maybe it is a subtle form of tension or holding?

We have more-or-less discussed this in the past, particularly how your own experience is in many ways similar to what my own experience was like (up to about two months ago). However I don't recall ever reading you say, unequivocally, that you understand how actually a lot of this questioning is simply a matter of being in pain and reacting to this pain.

If you do agree that this is the source of the problem, perhaps you also think that your success or lack of success with meditation is a concern which should, for the time being, be put aside, and that in exchange you should try to address this problem directly.This would actually be part of the practice, not moving away from it.

I am currently applying several measures to solve what I think is the same problem in myself. They seem to be successful, though it is too early to tell how stable they are.

(1) Instead of vipassana I do Chi-Kung, which for me seems to be more effective at releasing tension, whereas noting seemed to cause a severe build-up of said tension. (2)I have a good paleo diet (3) I do weightlifting (as per your suggestion), and (4) I do accupuncture (which is an amazing experience, but only if you have a good practitioner).

The full-body pain is gone, my mood seems to be fairly balanced (two months with no depression or euphoria, and counting!), my concentration has improved, and I've stopped evangelizing completely! Maybe any or all of these things will work for you, perhaps not at all and you need something entirely different. Who knows? Food for thought...

Either way, good luck with your decision (about which I have no advice to give).

Bruno

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 5:37 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson:
It seems that when I practice sincerely, and with some energy behind it, I make progress along the axis of insight. I think this is true because it seems clear that awareness increases, more thing are seen clearly for what they are, delusions are seen through. This is progress in terms of general insight into the nature of experience (The 3 characteristics).


Dan think about this statement, this is true for all undertakings, the sincerity is the energy that moves us in a direction, yet many times our investigations are blunted from the start with the energy mispent on the endless cycle of justifying (monkey mind) our choices.

Daniel Johnson:

It seems that the practice follows down this path further and further. I could imagine an end to this path at some point where all phenomena are seen clearly in this way, which might require a lifetime of work.


There is an end to suffering yet every moment contains the element of new discovery and wonder, a path that has no end

Daniel Johnson:


From my current viewpoint, it is a vast project which will require a tremendous amount of time and energy.


Yet your time and energy is finite and will be spent just the same no matter what choices you make, life is a vast project which will require a tremendous amount of time and energy. You dont have to put anything more into this then to attend to this very moment

Daniel Johnson:

I also find that over the last few years I have become much more sensitive and aware of the different subtler qualities of experience. I think there is also something somewhat liberating about the freedom of not being bound to certain delusions.


To think there is so much more to experience (life) that is missed (even wasted). There is so much more going on that we are ignornant of

Daniel Johnson:

3. What is the best way to make use of this opportunity of being alive right now as a human being?.

There is only one way everything else is a fabrication an internal reality seperate from this moment

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 5:40 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
(3) I do weightlifting (as per your suggestion),
Bruno


I'm reading this book now and highly recommend to anyone if they don't already know about it:

Strength to Awaken

Buddhist geeks - Strength to Awaken

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 8:04 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I have removed my first post on this thread because I wasn't happy with it! Try again....


A famous psychologist once said (and please read it many times slowly for meaning, because it's really worth it):

If you want to feel good, do things that make you feel good, and think thoughts that make you feel good.

People immediately say "oh well I'd eat 100 chocolate cakes and that would make me feel sick and ruin my health", but if you're paying attention to what feels good, you'll stop after one, most likely. After one it won't feel so good, it might even feel bad. Will one chocolate cake ruin your health? No. Did it make you feel as good as you expected? Probably not.... so "If you want to feel good, do things that make you feel good, and think thoughts that make you feel good". Just keep repeating over and over... You've finished your cake, and it didn't work because you feel just the same. Now don't stop there! Quick, do something right now that feels good - a thought or an action. If it doesn't work, try something else that satisfies the directive.

You can live your whole life successfully from the guidelines of how it makes you feel, since how you feel is actually what you want to change. For me, meditation has never made me feel good, only bad. Not that I am against the spiritual path, just that I don't think meditation is the way. I happen to think AF is not the way either.

Just as a side note, any time I hear people say they want to help the poor or the sick or the abused, that's fine, BUT don't fall into the trap that Mother Teresa fell into. She was trying to buy her way into heaven. Just look at the pain and sacrifice on her face. But back to you... does helping people genuinely make you feel good? If not, don't do it. Being a happy stock broker is far more beneficial to society than being an unhappy charity worker.

At some point, or some future lifetime, happiness might get a bit boring and you'll try to transcend it. But shouldn't you try happiness first? Your whole biology is set up to achieve happiness. The body thrives when you are happy. Life itself is pushing you that way and you're resisting it by making yourself do things that cause unhappiness. While a life of achievement is possible, keep in mind that some quite poor people are very happy. You don't have to become a stock broker with millions, just do what makes you feel good. Experiment.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 10:00 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
... well, true, not many people have done it, but the ones that are done are done


Can you spell out the names? I can count only Vineeto and she hasn't written much after her so called freedom. Justine's writings and account of his freedom are anything but freedom with crying and all.

Richard's response on the Yahoo forum shows that he still suffers from mood swings.

Also, you should contemplate on Bruno's friendly advice.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/16/12 10:20 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://www.joeyo.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/doitanywaythoughtsfrommotherteresa.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.joeyo.org/2011/03/do-it-anyway-thoughts-from-mother-teresa/&usg=__w8GJiyWOjbJH_QXLKWfTz3SIWRo=&h=1600&w=1225&sz=254&hl=en&start=3&zoom=1&tbnid=l-4po0oucjqHWM:&tbnh=150&tbnw=115&ei=giB-UMA3zaGKB4CRgOgI&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dmother%2Bteresa%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26biw%3D1440%26bih%3D693%26tbm%3Disch%26prmd%3Dimvnso&itbs=1


There's a lot of suffering in this face. She has had a hard life. Life itself wanted her to be happy and relaxed and healthy, but she chose to resist this. Was she aiming for "the big prize"? Was she trying to buy herself a nice plot of land in heaven? Was it a case of "the more I suffer now, the greater the profits later"? Is this what she believed? Was personal profit her real motive?

I make a study of people I come across who are particularly healthy/happy and unhappy/unhealthy. The healthy/happy ones live to please themselves. Their whole lives are directed at feeling good. Sometimes they perform selfless acts, and acts of love, but they never do this unless it feels good.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/17/12 1:29 AM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
Can you spell out the names? I can count only Vineeto and she hasn't written much after her so called freedom. Justine's writings and account of his freedom are anything but freedom with crying and all.

Aye, Richard & Vineeto are the only two currently fully there. Justine & all the rest would be somewhere in the stage where Richard was between 20 years ago (when he became actually free) to 17 years ago (when it fully settled down). Richard indicated to me that he has no idea why it is that Vineeto got there first and the others haven't yet, as he lavished just as much attention on anybody else as her in terms of helping them move forward.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/17/12 6:18 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Sometimes I like to up the ante a bit. Pretend someone's holding a gun at your head, and he's going to pull the trigger unless you improve your mood a lot in the next half hour.

Are you going to meditate? I guess metta practice might work, but in general meditation has no reward I can see. And I don't for one second believe people who say they are better off for all the meditating. I don't believe it, see it or feel it.

What are you going to do to make yourself feel good? Your life is at stake this time, unlike last time you tried. Last time you got scared and thought it was ok not to make any effort.

Relax the body?
Take a pill?
Surrender?
Think of your beloved?
Think of your dog?
Play with the kids?
Paint a picture?
Have sex?
Go for a jog?
Lift weights?
Dance?
Watch a movie?
Get a job?
What?

Remember it's not about doing one of these things, it's whether the activity or thought pattern lifts your mood. It's not about risk taking, it's whether the risk taking improves your mood.

People quit their jobs, spends months in ashrams and years seated on a cushion, making themselves confused, anxious and depressed, and yet they won't spend 30 minutes doing this exercise. You won't do it will you? (yeh you, reading this). You want the big prize.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/17/12 7:25 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Are you going to meditate? I guess metta practice might work, but in general meditation has no reward I can see. And I don't for one second believe people who say they are better off for all the meditating. I don't believe it, see it or feel it.


I have a stress related heart issue that goes away if I meditate consistently. It's not dangerous but scary and annoying. Every time I've stopped for an extended period it comes back, so the connection is very clear.

I'll admit that it could probably be helped with some type of consistent relaxation exercises, but I haven't found anything else that helps so far.

Believe it or not as you see fit. emoticon

Metta,
Simon

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/17/12 10:37 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Are you going to meditate? I guess metta practice might work, but in general meditation has no reward I can see. And I don't for one second believe people who say they are better off for all the meditating. I don't believe it, see it or feel it.


The problem with this statement is that there are plenty of testimonials that people are happier IF they are doing the meditation right and adding it to their lives. I do believe that meditation if done improperly will lead to disassociation but if done properly the opposite happens. Secondly if you look at many instructions it's quite possible to let go of clinging throughout the day and then smile and think positively after each letting go. This only sounds slightly more technical than your method of trying to remind yourself to think positively or act positively. This is why smiling after letting go or "thinking positively" can be an aid if you make into a habit. As others have noted, metta is a fabrication so metta requires repetition to make into a habit.

I used to meditate with vipassana in a dry way where I ignored the clinging but when I read good instructions I could see the wisdom of letting go literally in my brain. This is obviously valuable. Then to keep letting go so that you go through the necessary withdrawal symptoms (because you're not chasing dopamine all the time) purifies your experience because the senses become clearer without all the reactivity taking over. At that point it's okay to think positively but when positivity won't help (losing job, losing loved one to death, losing a relationship) you can learn to accept by letting go of what you can't control.

If people aren't getting results with meditation it's because they are not LETTING GO of their mental clinging. The emotional relief is always there even in really difficult times. Ironically this will be needed when you are happy around envious unhappy people who will test you and try to stop what they think is impossible in their clinging minds.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/17/12 7:21 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
C C C:
Are you going to meditate? I guess metta practice might work, but in general meditation has no reward I can see. And I don't for one second believe people who say they are better off for all the meditating. I don't believe it, see it or feel it.


The problem with this statement is that there are plenty of testimonials that people are happier IF they are doing the meditation right and adding it to their lives. I do believe that meditation if done improperly will lead to disassociation but if done properly the opposite happens. Secondly if you look at many instructions it's quite possible to let go of clinging throughout the day and then smile and think positively after each letting go. This only sounds slightly more technical than your method of trying to remind yourself to think positively or act positively. This is why smiling after letting go or "thinking positively" can be an aid if you make into a habit. As others have noted, metta is a fabrication so metta requires repetition to make into a habit.

I used to meditate with vipassana in a dry way where I ignored the clinging but when I read good instructions I could see the wisdom of letting go literally in my brain. This is obviously valuable. Then to keep letting go so that you go through the necessary withdrawal symptoms (because you're not chasing dopamine all the time) purifies your experience because the senses become clearer without all the reactivity taking over. At that point it's okay to think positively but when positivity won't help (losing job, losing loved one to death, losing a relationship) you can learn to accept by letting go of what you can't control.

If people aren't getting results with meditation it's because they are not LETTING GO of their mental clinging. The emotional relief is always there even in really difficult times. Ironically this will be needed when you are happy around envious unhappy people who will test you and try to stop what they think is impossible in their clinging minds.


Richard if there's relief, coolness, smoothness and 'flow' when meditating....then great. How could anyone argue against that? The OP didn't have that experience, in fact he was going the opposite direction. Seems it happens to a heck of a lot of people in here. You're saying such people might be doing it improperly - and I might tend to agree with you except that I have never come across good instructions for this situation (depression/anxiety). What was your source for that? I suspect it's going to be more along the lines of CBT if it will work in this situation. If it's a thought watching exercise, I really like that idea, but I find it impossible to catch certain styles of thought. Some are easy to see, others sit there for hours causing misery, and I cannot see them no matter how hard I look. Emotions on the other hand are easier to watch and let go of.

Chronic fear causes depression. I think that's pretty well accepted by researchers in the area. The letting go needs to become a way of life. Letting go of fearful and clingy thoughts. Actually clingy thoughts are just fearful thoughts inverted. eg. "I really, really want that ice cream" = "I fear I might not get that ice cream". So it's all fear - no need to consider clinging, just fear.

This is my equation I use:

1) Fear is expectation of pain.
2) Expectation creates reality (a reality of pain).
1) + 2) ==> Fear creates pain.
So.... If fear creates pain, do not fear, ever. Do not indulge in it. It's hurting you.


When you are totally free of fear, then start meditating. Personally I like Richard Rose's method. I have had a good result on one occasion using the 'awareness watching awareness' method. Noting method has hair on it, imo.

How do you know when you're free of fear? When you're happy most of the time and when you have no concern about what other people think of you. Social fear - fear of being negatively judged - is one of man's greatest fears. If you wipe that out, life flows. That's my personal experience.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/17/12 10:40 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Richard if there's relief, coolness, smoothness and 'flow' when meditating....then great. How could anyone argue against that? The OP didn't have that experience, in fact he was going the opposite direction. Seems it happens to a heck of a lot of people in here. You're saying such people might be doing it improperly - and I might tend to agree with you except that I have never come across good instructions for this situation (depression/anxiety). What was your source for that? I suspect it's going to be more along the lines of CBT if it will work in this situation. If it's a thought watching exercise, I really like that idea, but I find it impossible to catch certain styles of thought. Some are easy to see, others sit there for hours causing misery, and I cannot see them no matter how hard I look. Emotions on the other hand are easier to watch and let go of.

Chronic fear causes depression. I think that's pretty well accepted by researchers in the area. The letting go needs to become a way of life. Letting go of fearful and clingy thoughts. Actually clingy thoughts are just fearful thoughts inverted. eg. "I really, really want that ice cream" = "I fear I might not get that ice cream". So it's all fear - no need to consider clinging, just fear.

This is my equation I use:

1) Fear is expectation of pain.
2) Expectation creates reality (a reality of pain).
1) + 2) ==> Fear creates pain.
So.... If fear creates pain, do not fear, ever. Do not indulge in it. It's hurting you.


When you are totally free of fear, then start meditating. Personally I like Richard Rose's method. I have had a good result on one occasion using the 'awareness watching awareness' method. Noting method has hair on it, imo.

How do you know when you're free of fear? When you're happy most of the time and when you have no concern about what other people think of you. Social fear - fear of being negatively judged - is one of man's greatest fears. If you wipe that out, life flows. That's my personal experience.


The awareness watching awareness did help loosen things up with equanimity for me. It's like Kenneth Folk's 2nd gear. You look at an object and then take the sense of self behind the eyes as the concentration object and after concentrating like this for a number of sessions the sense of self that doesn't exist retracts and you are bam! in your senses just with the "witness". Of course the bliss and extreme visual clarity fades away in a few hours.

There are different methods but without letting go of clinging then there's no result without massive concentration practices to block things out. When I first started meditating I would figure out all kinds of problems in my head but rumination can't figure out all problems and it plainly hurts more than logical thinking because the brain knows it may not have an answer to the problem. The rumination does not include acceptance of things you cannot control but always wants to win or "get away with it". That's why it doesn't stop. I learned that letting go has to be the point where you are okay that you'll die tomorrow. If you can let go of eternal life you can let go of small problems. The more you let go the better you feel because letting go doesn't mean taking an action like withdrawing from life but instead letting go of the vice in your head. It's mechanical. When the amygdala is used as the main guide for your senses you zoom in on likes and dislikes when you untense that muscle in your head you are back in the natural senses without a fixation. It's the same result as the 2nd gear practice but practical and immediate. You can feel your scalp/face/body tense up when there is reactivity and when you let go of the clinging thoughts there is a release. There is an understanding in the brain that fixated ruminating is unhelpful so the disgust and dispassion with that scenario helps to let go. Understanding dependent origination and looking at how everything fits the 3 characteristics (the same taste) should, after some practice, allow you to let go quickly throughout the day. Sitting down to meditate becomes more for great depth to see dependent origination even in your intentions and attention. I'm at the point now where there might be a tense conversation with a person and I have a concentrated furrowed brow out of habit but now I just relax it all and start letting go before I get into it. I used to think that this could be too pacifist but I'm starting to wonder if I could also vigorously defend myself in this mode if necessary. If martial artists can meditate and defend themselves so can we.

If there's clinging then there's not enough realization and understanding that clinging is wasted energy. It's like wishing things were better and then squeezing the mind in thought bubbles of rehearsing and imaginary scenarios until the energy is not there to take action. Willpower is known to drain and so using it up makes it hard to change life habits. I know it's hard and that's why practice is necessary to make it easier. If you use cognitive styles that work then good for you. I recommend Gendlin's Focusing but ultimately if you create a self that is watching another self there's still a divide between a you and the environment. That watching self could also go through craving and aversion to get rid of craving and aversion spinning into the same problem.

This article really helped me understand the need for constant mindfulness. I used to push concentration too much as an attempt at mindfulness but letting go as soon as mental tension arises feels closer to what's intended in mindfulness:

Reflection and presence

This one also helped a lot:

What is Anatta? By Bhante Vimalaramsi

As I began experimenting with this new/old form of meditation I began to see that every thought or feeling [no matter what kind of thought it was - wholesome or unwholesome] caused tightness to arise in my head, it was a subtle tightness that 20 years of "Vipassana" had never addressed or even noticed.

Seeing this I began to relax that tightness in my head and body as well. Then I began to see that even when there was no tightness in my body or head I could still relax even more. So on the in breath relax, on the out breath relax... a thought arises let it go, relax, softly redirect my attention back to the breath and relax again. If a sensation arose in my mind or body, mind would always go to it and tighten around it with a big mental fist. I came to see that this big mental fist was a type of aversion to that sensation and this caused thoughts to arise about the sensation. Why I didn't like it and wanted it to go away, etc. So first I let the thoughts go, which means I didn't take an interest in them any more... then relaxed the tightness in my head/body... next I let the aversion to the sensation be there, without trying to change it or make it go away. Let it float like it was a bubble in the air without directing it.
I found that the truth of the present moment is when a sensation arises, it is there whether I liked it or not, so why fight it... simply let it be there without any resistance to it, then relax the tightness around the sensation and the tightness in my head... I allowed the sensation to be there without liking or disliking it. Next ,I gently redirected my attention back to the breath and relaxed... relaxed on the in breath... relaxed on the out breath. The sensation wouldn't go away so my mind went back to it with all of the tension and tightness again. So what to do? Just begin the process again, no matter how many times mind gets drawn to it.


I have much less reactivity now but before A & P and the dark night I was noting silently even when with emotionally draining people and the icky disgusting reactions in the chest were enormous. Even when my head was hot and buzzing with anger I was watching it like a scientist. Paying attention when there's anger and anxiety does so much more than getting lost in thought and pushing metta. There more repression and manipulation and you get to the (I want to get rid of this pain!) attitude that brings more craving or aversion online again. If you can let go and then practice metta afterward then that's much better. emoticon Paying attention with mindfulness when things are really awful is the best practice you can do and it will get the brain to see that letting go is preferred over thinking about revenge or going over comeback lines in your head. Time is a concept in our memories and so is the conceptual person in our thought bubbles. Because time in reality is all connected, we can't divide time into parts without more subtle concepts then there is even more layers that can be let go of with practice. (I'm still working on that one). Right now I just let go everytime there is emotional pain of some kind and it's like shooting aliens a la Ingram, except dropping rocks when you see you are habitually picking them up is a closer metaphor for me. Mindfulness has to be there throughout the day. As soon as mindfulness wanes the old zooming and fixation starts up again. emoticon I want to be mindful even when there are thoughts. When you do that you can tell there are different kinds of thoughts (subvocal, images, sound/music) and they don't seem to be a problem until the zooming zombie appears again.

@Dan: I hope these different methods and ramblings help you. When you asked "don't know what to do" you opened up a can of worms. emoticon

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/18/12 8:19 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Yes Bruno!

I agree, not just because it may apply to Daniel, but because that is my problem to to a large extent an i know it applies to me. I think of Michelle McDonalds exhortations from a lot of the talks of hers that i've listen to and i remember the idea. That one is building up equanimity and you can't fake that, you can't want that, you can't push your self to accept that, you just have to keep practicing until it is acquired. But things like taking it easy for a bit when you can't create any equanimity or doing chi gong can be a really good strategy to lubricate the practice. Michelle recommends Metta to increase to lubricate the suffering & also to increase concentration. Personally I have no doubt that chi gong is a kind of concentration practice too. Its just the nature of the dark-night we are like headless horseman running around looking for answers while avoiding the intensity of what actually is.

Well said Bruno & Good Luck Daniel.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/18/12 9:28 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
...in general meditation has no reward I can see. And I don't for one second believe people who say they are better off for all the meditating. I don't believe it, see it or feel it.

CCC, is this specific to this particular context, or are you making a general statement about meditation overall?
Robert

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/19/12 6:38 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
C C C:
...in general meditation has no reward I can see. And I don't for one second believe people who say they are better off for all the meditating. I don't believe it, see it or feel it.

CCC, is this specific to this particular context, or are you making a general statement about meditation overall?
Robert


For those with anxiety/depression, like the OP.

I had a qualifier that I thought "nice thoughts" practice (metta) could work. But I wouldn't limit my nice thoughts to "loving kindness to all humanity", the way metta is prescribed. There are other thoughts that will be much more pleasant, and create more happiness. eg. thinking about enjoying lying on the beach in the sun. That works much better than "loving kindness to all humanity".

For quite a while Bruno used to say that vipassana had cured his depression, then we find out he was worse than ever. Now he's given it up and feels better. Soon he will give up the Chi Gong. emoticon

Simon, sorry i missed reading your post before: I'm assuming your anxiety is either short-lived or mild, otherwise it would have turned into depression. Is that correct?

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/19/12 6:41 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
I have yet to see anyone with depression/anxiety issues talk about their pure samatha practice and for some strange reason they are all doing dry insight. It's actually rather simple: If you have depression/anxiety issues then STOP DOING DRY INSIGHT (or stop doing vipassana completely for the time being) and instead learn some samatha skills!

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/19/12 7:13 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom A Vitale:
I have yet to see anyone with depression/anxiety issues talk about their pure samatha practice and for some strange reason they are all doing dry insight. It's actually rather simple: If you have depression/anxiety issues then STOP DOING DRY INSIGHT (or stop doing vipassana completely for the time being) and instead learn some samatha skills!



I agree. Joy is a factor for awakening to occur (according to pali suttas). Enjoyment of this moment of being alive is a factor for actual freedom to occur (according to Richard). Intentionally fabricating more conducive states of mind, like felicity, a sense of wellbeing or a sense of enjoying the moment, or a jhana or two will be a nice reprieve from the dukkha. It will also lead to being more clearheaded about what you wish to do in my own experience. It is so much easier to decide what to do when one is able to fabricate a smoother path and not have the mind pushed and pulled by the 5 hindrances, which both dharma and actualist practitioners can suffer from. Learn to fabricate at will the mind states that are conducive for clear seeing, and/or attending to primarily enjoying being alive and it might loosen up the blocks.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/19/12 8:36 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Robert McLune:

CCC, is this specific to this particular context, or are you making a general statement about meditation overall?
Robert


For those with anxiety/depression, like the OP.

Ah, OK. Thanks.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/20/12 7:43 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom A Vitale:
I have yet to see anyone with depression/anxiety issues talk about their pure samatha practice and for some strange reason they are all doing dry insight. It's actually rather simple: If you have depression/anxiety issues then STOP DOING DRY INSIGHT (or stop doing vipassana completely for the time being) and instead learn some samatha skills!


As (of both of us) you're the one who's consistently enthusiastic about the possibility of people, early in their practice, learning to concentrate without activating the progress of insight, why don't you write up a quick how-to primer on it? (You could include it in the thread about meditating with mental illness that you started.)

The big problem, as I see it, is that the people with depression/anxiety issues who talk about their pure samatha practice on the DhO have read MCTB and are doing what is pure samatha to the best of their knowledge/ability. They're not failing to achieve it out of some choice they've made, but because reading MCTB was not, for them, sufficient to direct them; they need more information, and perhaps you can provide them with something valuable in that regard.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/20/12 12:26 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
The big problem, as I see it, is that the people with depression/anxiety issues who talk about their pure samatha practice on the DhO have read MCTB and are doing what is pure samatha to the best of their knowledge/ability. They're not failing to achieve it out of some choice they've made, but because reading MCTB was not, for them, sufficient to direct them; they need more information, and perhaps you can provide them with something valuable in that regard.


Yes, this is a great idea. Before Mahasi Sayadaw "dry insight" was thought not to be possible. Ironically, now people think "wet insight" is not possible.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/20/12 5:58 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
The big problem, as I see it, is that the people with depression/anxiety issues who talk about their pure samatha practice on the DhO have read MCTB and are doing what is pure samatha to the best of their knowledge/ability. They're not failing to achieve it out of some choice they've made, but because reading MCTB was not, for them, sufficient to direct them; they need more information, and perhaps you can provide them with something valuable in that regard.


For anyone encountering this thread who is curious, I have written about such topics here:http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3631675

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/21/12 4:39 PM as a reply to Zyndo Zyhion.
Yes the depression, trip is my boat, CCC, End, Tom & Nikolai. I have trouble developing serious practice outside of retreat. Lately I'm just sitting in a caravan in the country outside of Byron (nice weather), on the pension for depression, in Australia I'm very luck there is a pension for the so called mentally ill. I try not to spend too much time with my housemates hanging around the outdoor kitchen of the property we live on because of the dark night. I'm an Anxious Depressed Hermit, but some time I go out and chat or into town and chat with people, as I can often put it aside for periods when I have people other than my self or my sensations to focus on. On those good days, when I go out peoples can be quite surprised when I tell them I have depression.

Its been my objective to prioritise Samatha in my practice for the reasons you all stated. Though there does seem to be an interrelated tendency with the development of insight and depression, meaning that you can't stop the insight. By that I mean, that even when I practice samatha quite strongly as I did in my last retreat, by the afternoon the concentration would also awaken the insight quality, because of the interrelated qualities of the concentration and insight. After the insight has been awakened its really hard to stop it and just do samatha. That's not to say that samatha doesn't help or make things better because it does, and some days you can hold the samatha through out the day. But mostly the insight will awaken in the afternoon.

For example, after a morning of exclusively samatha practice, (which is mostly what I do now) I find that with the increase in concentration I either get into observation or the the mini dark night of late equanimity? For some reason low equanimity or early mastery rarely factors, because I transition through it too easily/quickly. I'll be lying on the bed not even trying to practice, but in away, not being able to stop.
While there, many changing intense but subtle sensations will flow through my body,
(tingles-moving/changing, prickles or stings, pressures moving/changing, subtle fields & pressures moving/changing, space; lots of space and associated unpleasant with differing intensities, occasional pleasant or neutral sensations, sometimes periods where I'm hot then cold though this is usually with stronger associated sensations, this all flows in cycles of intensity as the fields move through different densities and so forth)
I twitch/spasm intermittently and regularly every 30 secs to 3 mins, if sitting cross legged its a full body spasm that sort of makes me jump or hop, not that I clear the ground or anything. Its not terrible, but it just keeps sort of going. I believe I need to develop the concentration to get in to high equanimity. And after that, stream entry is really only the first step, and like Daniel Ingram says, something to this effect: you'll experience two thirds dark night even after attainment as you cycle, so you better get use to it.
Also along with the increase in sensitivity is the development of equanimity, a neutral mind in the face of unpleasant sensations. I'm sort of waiting for this to happen in the face of my day to day experience and working on developing an integrated lifestyle. I'm a bit all intensity and nothing and of the last 20 months I've been 11 in retreat centres. The last todays I played computer games almost straight got to delete them again, I love the avoidance of the body but when I come out of it the dark night is worse. Yes when I practice its worse too, in that it peaks in intensity; but it cycles an its easier to generate loving kindness and not be overwhelmed by the dark night and let that become your personality i.e. negative, death seeing, meaninglessness dhamma wisdom which out of balance and held with some or just reaction.
So yes metta or samatha will make it better, but not perfect its a day today management or daily practice with continual commitment.

Kind Regards, emoticon Neem

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/24/12 11:49 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Hi Daniel,

some rhetorical questions for you:

What is preventing you from being happy and harmless at this moment of being alive (the only moment you are ever alive)?
*Do not exclude a single thing.


Why do you not want to die at this very moment?
*Do not exclude a single thing.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/25/12 12:16 AM as a reply to Zyndo Zyhion.
After the insight has been awakened its really hard to stop it and just do samatha.


There are certain nanas that are stable where it can be practiced. It's good if you can identify these and do it while you're there, before moving on. Yes, it can't purely be done in certain phases.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/25/12 2:28 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Yeah, Thanks Tom.

I used to sort of, focus on identifying Nanas, then I sort of stopped, also one of the nicer nana's that was sort of easy enough, was low equ and early mastery, but they sort of stopped happening, the just dissolve between re-ob and late mastery, I don't know why but that's the way it appears to be. Also after i started doing these practices more strongly about 2 and a half years ago, and this had also been happening anyway. that is the qualities associated with A&P really started diminishing and have slowly been since I was 25-6. I used to find chi gong really good for a bliss hit, should do that again, spring forest was recommended to me and I found it to be really good. Also gotta keep up the samatha practice, it sort of balances me out. Any way, I appreciate the thoughts as they are good advice!

Kind Regards Neem.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/26/12 5:13 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
However I don't recall ever reading you say, unequivocally, that you understand how actually a lot of this questioning is simply a matter of being in pain and reacting to this pain.


I'm not sure if I would go "unequviocal" about this, but I think that in the moments when my body feels lighter, and more pain-less, there is a marked lessening of stress, confusion, doubt, despair, etc.

Ever since I stopped trying to sit long hours for meditation, I've started seeing improvement in pain. My diet is pretty clean now, and feels good, and the weightlifting has helped eliminate back pain, etc... (although it seems to be replaced with a slightly more pleasant soreness, and occasional injury.) I used to do Chi Gong, and perhaps it is a good time to get back into that. I've also been recommended accupuncture, so maybe I should get back to that too.

Thanks, Bruno

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/26/12 5:40 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom A Vitale:
I have yet to see anyone with depression/anxiety issues talk about their pure samatha practice and for some strange reason they are all doing dry insight. It's actually rather simple: If you have depression/anxiety issues then STOP DOING DRY INSIGHT (or stop doing vipassana completely for the time being) and instead learn some samatha skills!


I'm not sure if my depression and anxiety experiences count as "issues"... but I assume this was written for me, so I'll reply. emoticon

It looks like I've written 371 posts here, and I'm pretty sure that at least a few of them covered attempts at pure samatha practice. I wonder, though, how much it might be a chicken-egg type of thing. If I am experiencing anxiety and depression, will it be easier or harder to practice pure samatha?

In fact, I see in the link you posted that you suggest Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond... There was a while when I was practicing straight from that book and posted about that experience here. If I could find the post, I'd link to it.

Perhaps the problem is that I just haven't found good instructions yet, but I just find samatha practice to be very slow in progress, and much of it can be very painful and unpleasant. And, I have yet to experience any kind of pleasant soothing lubricating effect from it. Perhaps I just need to put in another ten years of practice, or something.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/26/12 6:32 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Hey daniel, if you are looking for another set of instructions try thanissaro bhikku's breath concentration method. it is very bodily and it has always seemed to me that once you develop the skills to control the breath in the way he suggests your mental state doesn't really matter because it is all about controlling breath energy in the body. it is basically doing two things that i can tell - causing the sense of energy in the body to be pleasant and developing your ability to maintain a broad relaxed attention throughout the body.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/breathmed.html

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
10/26/12 11:59 PM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.

It looks like I've written 371 posts here, and I'm pretty sure that at least a few of them covered attempts at pure samatha practice. I wonder, though, how much it might be a chicken-egg type of thing. If I am experiencing anxiety and depression, will it be easier or harder to practice pure samatha?


The way I see it, is that once you are able to acquire the samatha skill to reduce/suppress hindrances, then things will be infinitely easier. Depression involves sensations of doubt/negativity/confusion. If you immediately start to do insight practices while this is going on then you have to deal with dis-identifying from these sensations simultaneously with the dark night disgust/fear/misery symptoms of the insight cycles. If you have the ability to suppress your hindrances, then you immediately will see all of this junk as quite illusory/fleeting/unreal. When you find all the doubt/confusion/depression re-arising, and then you sit (do samatha) and then suddenly it's gone again, then things will be much clearer. You can do this for several years, if you like. Just keep repeating the samatha sits and walk around with your hindrances suppressed. You'll think clearer and make better decisions.

Without the ability to do samatha people in these situations will get overwhelmed by the nasty insight symptoms combined with the depressive content of the depression sensations and then collapse into a depression, and thus stagnate and make no further progress. If you have the ability to produce bliss and suppress hindrances at will, then you can see this happening and stop it right in its tracks. Heck, you can fall into a depression and say oh, I'm depressed, better go enjoy some bliss and knock those hindrances out and boom you'll snap right out of it and go straight back to doing insight and soon enough you'll develop the appropriate insight levels to watch all of these depressive sensations arise and pass, be fleeting and silly, and eventually they'll be replaced with something more productive.

RE: Don't know what to do
Answer
11/6/12 4:13 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom,
This has been my opinion for a while now too, it is pleasing to hear other people agreeing with this notion! In particular in the context of depression, thank you for what I think of as your well thought words! Kind Regards Neem

P.S. now I need to get out of the slump and learn to consistently develop samatha. But,
“When you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

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