Dark night vs life stuff?

wylo , modified 10 Years ago at 1/5/13 9:19 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/5/13 9:13 AM

Dark night vs life stuff?

Posts: 166 Join Date: 11/18/11 Recent Posts
Hi, I can honestly say the past few weeks Ive been possibly through the worst mental and physical anguish Ive experienced since all this started for me.

But it didnt necessarily come by itself, the job started get tenser due to high stresses, my relationship with my girlfriend broke down and ultimately ended (even though we live together, worst part being we lived together prior to getting together_, and after a bit of drinking over the christmas I hit serious lows during this week when back to work after a bad christmas. I also developed really low self esteem over my problems that in the past were just issues that didnt necessarily have to be taken personally.

I tried and tried to meditate my way through but there was almost zero concentration. My work was faltering all week, and there was such a heavy gut of a feeling through pain and fear that I found it difficult to even speak to people (not to mention come backhome and face my now ex). I could feel the tenderness in my voice and was conscious of it.

I think Im finally coming out of it,now, and yet none of the situations have changed, me and the girlfriend are finished yet Im getting cooler with it (mainly because I try my hardest not bullshit myself about it), my perception of work seems to be improving , even though nothing has really changed in there.

My question is, is this dark night, or is it me discovering that all that other deep peace throughout the year was me simply ignoring my issues?

Have you ever confused dark night with life issues? Can life issues trigger dark night? or vice versa?
Or is it possible that Im suffering from a mood disorder ,and in fairness EIS has suggested that and Ill hold my hand up and admit I never bothered to contact a doctor about it, mainly because the periods Im at peace for are so long that it seems that it just cant be right.
Jane Laurel Carrington, modified 10 Years ago at 1/5/13 10:29 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/5/13 10:29 AM

RE: Dark night vs life stuff?

Posts: 196 Join Date: 12/29/10 Recent Posts
I can say that every December I begin a long, inexorable descent into some form of dysfunction. It's most likely SAD for me, living in the northern half of the planet. The Christmas holidays make it worse, especially with all the expectations piled on, the break in my routine (I have always found that difficult), and the struggles of trying to figure out what to try to do and what to let go of (Christmas cards in the latter category). I eat tons of sugary stuff, in the past I'd drink (don't do that any more), my weight goes up, I don't exercise, and I spiral. This year all these ills were greatly exacerbated by the death of someone close to me; she had been suffering from cancer for years, went into the hospital on December 23, and died on the 26th. I spent a good part of the break experiencing grief, then came down with a virus that made it impossible for me to breathe. My practice was for shit. Then on New Year's Eve I managed to sit for 45 minutes and everything was wonderful.

So: is this practice-related or life happening? Sounds like a lot of life happened to you at a time of year that is famous for making people crazy. Life will happen to you whether you're in the Dark Night or Equanimity, 1st path or 4th or pre-path, meditating well or unable to sit. Dark Night for me is this inexplicable pall overlying life's ups and downs; at this point in my path it flickers on for an afternoon or maybe an hour or a day or two, then flickers off again (or at least did; I'm feeling fine for the moment and all is well). As for your now-enhanced coping skills: this might have to do with the fact that the new year is here, the days are getting longer, and the holidays are over. I start to feel better every year right after January 1, like clockwork. Or it may simply be that you ran through the requisite amount of misery for the issues that slugged you and are now ready to move on.

One thing that a lot of us not-so-secretly hope is that this practice will ultimately insulate us from life. It does not do that, even though there will be times when we may have long stretches of deep peace, as you did. I'd say the best thing to do is accept everything that comes your way, practice related or not, watch it, notice it, welcome it even, and let it do its thing. Gentle non-resistance is the path, regardless of what's making you feel good or bad at any given time. The benefit of the practice is that you become better able to do this. Doesn't sound like much, but it is in fact everything. Metta to you.
Jason , modified 10 Years ago at 1/5/13 2:37 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/5/13 2:37 PM

RE: Dark night vs life stuff?

Posts: 342 Join Date: 8/9/11 Recent Posts
My take on this has oscillated throughout the path. Initially when I came across the notion of a dark night yogi, I thought it explained all my troubles. I probably could have earned a mood disorder diagnosis, and I have mixed feelings as to whether or not I'd have been better off going that route at certain points. The tipping point should probably be suicidal ideation. That's when you need someone else supervising your decisions.

After first path, my perspective changed. I thought, the dark night wasn't so bad in the context of practice, and probably had nothing, or not everything, to do with previous years of depression. And now, a couple paths later, baseline happiness is much happier. When I experience a dark night cycle, it's such a stark contrast. It comes out of nowhere, this sense that life just sucks, and then poof! Gone. For a moment, or a day or two, it was like the old days. So, maybe it really was the dark night all along.

At the moment, given the season and certain rather extreme financial pressures, I should be terrified and miserable by the standard of the past. And I just can't be bothered about it that much. I take care of business and forget about it. I don't think it's A+P or mania, or even EQ especially. If I'd had this perspective ten years ago, my whole life would have been different. Oh, I could nurture a few regrets. But I just can't be bothered. Everything is okay.

I tried and tried to meditate my way through but there was almost zero concentration.

I think that's pretty normal in DN stages. Sometimes I just let it wash over me like a bad acid trip. Even if you can't note. Let your mind torture you. surrender. If nothing else, you start to see that it is just mind, it isn't self and it doesn't last. But don't push too hard, don't expect progress. One day soon it will just come. You'll sit through hell and then the last 2 minutes feel calm. And the next day five minutes. And then 10, but the hell was a bit cooler. And so on.

During the DN stages before 1st path I did a lot of vegging out. It's not a wholesome suggestion, but probably a lot less detrimental than drinking, which will make you feel worse.

Hope that helps. Good luck.