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Me and my "shadow stuff"

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Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 3:26 PM
note: The idea of this thread is to get out some of my psychological problems which have really built up and although I usually return to attention to sensations type practice, investigating my problems in a more discursive way seems like it is required at this point. However if people think I should just go back to sensations I am still open to that idea and some of the people I respect around here more than anyone else and whose practice results i'd like to emulate indicate that sensation-watching type stuff is all that is ever required. I want to emphasize: if people think that what is best is that I shut up in practice, I think I am ready for that.

note 2: this might be really long but I'd really appreciate help where possible.

note 3: some relevant history of my life is that I am 19 and most of my life for the past 3 or so years has been really strange, I don't think I ever really developed an identity the way people around me have I don't feel like I connect with people at all in real life, I fit all the symptoms as described by Erik Erikson as failure to develop an identity. Many times in the past few years I have tried super hard to commit to a certain identity, mostly via arguing with people about random stupid theories of what the "final answer" should be i.e. "fuk u, if u dont want no emotions than i am better than u." Or trying to commit to beliefs about the Buddha being super-awesome and omniscient and you can't disagree with him etc. I have tried REALLY hard to commit to these things and find some sort of "security" or "liberation" in organizing/stabilizing the world through these sorts of views.

Several times I've gone through the experience of having my identity shattered due to having soteriological views shattered, that's the thrust of my problems at the moment. I think the thing that really got me started with these questions was a comment Jake made on a different thread:

the thing to watch out for is if one is entering practice with subconscious blocks around experiencing the instinctual and emotional and relational aspects of life. The transpersonal identity can be a dissociative escape from earthly felt experiencing and relational complexities.

So if you feel committed to encountering and living your life fully, in a human and relational way, then you have little to fear about getting 'stuck' in a transpersonal identity


I don't really have any human or relational aspects to my life... which is probably not so good. Does this mean that:

. Jake .:
for some folks it could be a totally valid transitional mode of being between the ordinary default personal identity and a more open-ended, less-identified in general way of being.


Sometimes I think that this is where I am going, but it tends to contradict some of my instincts about psychological development - namely that avoiding things such as problems with social relationships with people means that you won't get past such psychological blocks, i.e. the only way out is through. An aspect of this has to do with the goals I have in life to begin with, what I want to be honest is to have no problems of life, to "perceive" perfectly and be perfectly happy I really don't want anything else. I am not really sure what this means, does the Dalai Lama have this with his total openness to his emotions, his unrestricted joy or unrestricted sadness and tears? Is this more like what Tarin Greco talked about with his "self going to oblivion and being fine with it" what I really think I want, and I don't think this is scripted, it is just coming out spontaneously - is some sort of permanence, a sort of unchangingness to something, anything, some ground to stand on, security. I have tried to make soteriological views into this but they obviously don't cut it, they are really wobbly, they aren't the sort of permanence I am looking for.

Maybe what I am looking for is not clinging to views, over the past few days when I started seeing this in a real, experiential way I looked at it at first as simply terrifying, nothing less than the end of the world. Right now I am thinking that I'd like to find something more like that in my life. It is really obvious to me that a lot of well being can be found over there, in the sort of lightheartedness about life and practice and liberation which I recognize moments of in my own experience and in other, more advanced practitioners.

The usual thing I go with in times like these hardcore content-ignoring, I'm really an expert at it. Every time my mind would start up thinking about my practice and wellbeing I would just return attention ruthlessly to sensations. No breaks, no conscious exceptions. (and I see a variety of sources, practitioners here and thai monks who suggest that this can lead to the sort of "permanence" I am interested in.)

What I really want is to be able to just walk around and live without feeling closed off to everything and every body. To not feel super anxious about just walking around through my college campus and imagining people judging me and shit. I want to send out a sort of universal apology about the hideous negative 'vibrations' I feel like I have spent so much time sending out. At the worst moments there are spontaneous mental images of my body exploding and letting all this tension out. I turn everything into a super-hardcore practice including "do nothing" or "relax" or "be equanimous".

I feel like what I should do now is something like just be happy not as a practice, no goal, I can't "practice" things anymore, they never work. Hard to explain what I mean by this. Application of a "technique" just feels like an incredible burden perhaps what is required is a 'lifestyle' approach (practice is taken as the goal itself, i.e. you do it because it is pleasant) but I can turn that into a "technique" I have to work at pretty easily.

I should probably note that I have gone through cycles of this before, and next week I will probably be back where I started, I don't see where "progress" comes in. In fact just while writing this I felt jubilant and now I don't really remember why. FUCK. What do I do. Enjoy the "lowness" accept the "lowness" investigate the "lowness" stop treating the "lowness" as a problem? Do nothing? Focus on the breath? Chant a mantra? Watch a movie? Jack off? Eat some ice cream? Laugh? STFU and go back to observing sensations? Read some random dharma because it will inspire me for 5 minutes? Go on the forums and whine about it all? I think I could list all the potential solutions I am not taking for the next 10 minutes but I'll stop here.

Where is the fundamental problem, O enlightened folks, I don't know. Is this just pussing out? Do I go back to sensations? Wow my thought loops are so blind that I actually write them down like 5 times in one post.

I should probably edit this but I need to take a break, though as mentioned before I don't know how to do that.

metta,

Adam

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 3:53 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
something positive perhaps that is coming up after writing that is that maybe I need to be open to any experience whatsoever. normally whatever technique I am doing I automatically set certain restrictions on what is OK. e.g. it is not ok to feel xyz, it is not ok to feel resistance to feel xyz, it is not ok to feel like you are practicing wrong, it is not ok to feel resistance to feeling like you are practicing wrong, it is not ok to feel like it isn't ok to experience something. etc.

edit: a few more thoughts

what I think I want also has alot to do with effortlessness and naturalness, i.e. that "just being here" will be ok without me having to meddle with it, alter my perceptions of it or reshape it. perhaps what I mean by permanence, that things will be OK already without having to 'accept them' or 'be equaimous to them' or 'rationalize them' or 'fit them into some intellectual idea of how things should be/how they will be in the future'

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 4:42 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Hi, adam..

Just n case you are still interested in actualism somehow...

adam:

I don't think I ever really developed an identity the way people around me have[...] Many times in the past few years I have tried super hard to commit to a certain identity, mostly via arguing with people about random stupid theories of what the "final answer" should be i.e. "fuk u, if u dont want no emotions than i am better than u.


But you do. An identity is not about going all-marxist on the world, marching on the streets as a hardcore activist. An identity is about all that evident things, yes, but they're just the surface of a much more deep instinctual/social program. For example:

adam:

What I really want is to be able to just walk around and live without feeling closed off to everything and every body. To not feel super anxious about just walking around through my college campus and imagining people judging me and shit.


Then, what is that which is keeping you feeling closed off to everything and every body? Who and why is feeling super anxious? Why do you think/feel you're being judged? Why do you care being judged in the first place? It is precisely "you", and "you" is clearly an instictual/social identity.

adam:

At the worst moments there are spontaneous mental images of my body exploding and letting all this tension out. I turn everything into a super-hardcore practice including "do nothing" or "relax" or "be equanimous".


Have you ever questioned those refuges such as "do nothing", "relax", "be equanimous", "just observe", etc?

When a strong bad feeling arises, what is the difference between those kinds of action and saying a million times "everything is going to be all right" or "god will help me here"? To me, "do nothing" implies waiting for something/someone else to solve my problems; to simply tolerate the storm thinking that "this too shall pass", instead of getting rid of the storm (which you and only you can do).

In other words, IMO, the answer is not on observing things hoping they will go away or that, hopefully, in the future and for some reason, I will tolerate them better because of my observational powers. The answer is in taking responsibility of the mess and investigate the roots of it (not only the "what", but also the "hows" and "whys" they arise). Non-interventionism doesn't work, at least with me.

A couple of quotes from the AFT:

VINEETO:

To discover the actual world beyond my beliefs, feeling and instinctual passions I don’t merely observe what I think, feel and do from moment to moment, but I actively and unconditionally investigate into the cause, the core, the root, the why and how and when of ‘who’ I think, feel and instinctually know ‘I’ am. When I arrive at the root of an emotion or emotion-backed thought and see the passionate investment of my identity wanting to stay in existence through feeling and emotion, I can then deliberately abandon my investment and step out of this particular aspect of ‘me’.


RICHARD:

If it be not fun to track oneself in all of one’s doings then one might as well ‘give up the chase and relax’ ... however what you describe as a modus operandi does not make sense to me (‘go over the same emotions over and over again and the same repetitive thoughts until I give up the chase and relax’ ).

To need to (and to be able to) ‘relax’ means there must be tension in the first place to relax from ... thus the tracking down has changed from tracking down the ‘same emotions’ or the ‘same repetitive thoughts’ to tracking down the tension ... and you did not notice that the game had changed horses in mid-stream. The need to ‘relax’ is a flashing red light that the game-play has changed: ‘when did this tension start?’; how did this tension begin?’; ‘what was the event that initiated this tension?’; ‘what were the feelings at the time?’; ‘what was the thought associated with that feeling?’ ... and so on. Usually one has only to track back a few minutes or a few hours ... yesterday afternoon at the most. Then one is free from both the tension and the ‘Tried and True’ cure of ‘relax’ .

Speaking personally, I never relaxed in all those years of application and diligence, patience and perseverance ... upon exposure to the bright light of awareness the tension always disappeared.


Good luck!

Felipe

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 5:28 PM as a reply to Felipe C..
No felipe, I am not really interested in actualism or 'getting rid of identity' or any of these other conceptual imagined things. As soon as I take up some system or method (and in this aspect they are all the same) I just start creating some value system with which to judge things which is what is at the root of feeling bad in Actualist theory, right?

I think essentially I can either keep judging myself, creating values and ideals and shit or just say "fuck it".. which to be honest seems to be in a sense what Actualism is all about.

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 5:42 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
To be honest, from what you wrote, it sounds like the result of all your practice thus far has not been positive at all. Do you consider yourself better off now or before you started any sort of practice? Maybe you created a problem where there really wasn't one, before? If that is the case, then would the solution really be to keep doing what caused the problem in the first place?

Being happy for no reason other than being happy is subjectively preferable than being unhappy is a great way to live your life, I think. I'd highly recommend something like that - which is something that none of the following will do:
1) holding soteriological beliefs
2) "perceiving" perfectly
3) hardcore content-ignoring
4) ruthlessly attending to sensations
5) enjoying the "lowness"
6) accepting the "lowness"
7) no longer treating the "lowness" as a problem
8) doing nothing
9) focusing on the breath
10) changing a mantra
11) Shutting TFU and going back to observing sensations
12) reading some random dharma
13) whining about it on the forums

These might help though:
1) watching a movie
2) jacking off
3) eating some ice cream
4) watching something funny and laughing as a result
5) doing something fun
And, when you're in a better mood:
6) investigating the (now-former) "lowness"

Not to mention enjoying the permanence of the universe...

- Claudiu

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 6:17 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Have the results of my practice been at all positive? I dont know claudiu, I know that my perspective at the moment is distorted.

Thank you for your suggestions they really do seem sincere. From past experience though I bet if I sat down and paid attention to sensations this perspective and mood would pass. Based on what I hear from others if I keep doing this and going through the cycles they will slowly calm down.

On the other hand... WTF did other people have episodes like this 2 years into practice? Why haven't I gotten stream entry etc. Alot of others had some sort of spiritual maturity before they started practicing DhO style so maybe I am just going through whatever they went through before coming to the DhO.

My personal experience tells me that when I practice Actualism almost the exact same stuff happens, and I have spent time practicing just as prescribed and if you tell me I haven't, I won't believe you.

Has it really been that much better for you with Actualism? Maybe you just came to Actualism having already made some progress and seen through certain things. Maybe you came to it coincidentally with a certain turning point.

The voices in pragmatic I feel speak from a place of significant stability, happiness, authenticity and spiritual maturity... Daniel Ingram, Nikolai, Tarin, Trent, SW, TJ Brocoli, Jake, Antero, Owen, Kenneth, EiS, others I am forgetting all seem to have a way more liberal view about what practices are right and which are wrong than you do, I just can't believe that the subtle differences (in practice) which that actualism offers are really so magical.

Really what I made my original post hoping to hear was that I should just keep on keeping on and that it was difficult at times for them too. That sometimes they got "fooled" by their thoughts and suffering as I am now and I just need to keep working. I am pretty sure that's what they'd say but really I just wanted to hear it again.

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 7:13 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
now after alternating between short intense bursts of ecstasy and depression for a few hours it is leveling out a bit so i should be ok for the time being.

will be taking the STFU and pay attention to sensations approach again now.

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 9:23 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
I don't really have any human or relational aspects to my life... which is probably not so good.


This alone could possibly explain your perceived lack of progress. As I understand it, the traditional approach is Sila first, to stabilize the mind. That includes associating with wholesome people. It's pretty hard to have a stable mind without human relations. Actually, it's dangerous. IMHO, you need to deal with this issue on a practical level before anything else can get better. That could mean a lot of different things for you depending on your situation. What are your resources? Family? Access to counseling? Spiritual group? What stable people are around? (Hint: they're the sort of boring ones.)

Being 19 can be intensely difficult. I was an absolute trainwreck. Someone once described it to me as akin to preschool: everything is totally new, but there's very little guidance. You're right that you're expected to forge some completely new identity. Time takes care of a lot of that, unsatisfying as that answer may be. At least you have the DhO.

If you are in the dark night, you might try a lighter touch to practice. Instead of all out or nothing, just do a little at a time. Forget about progress. It's like a chinese finger-trap. Find just the right amount of pressure. In fact, it seems like you're taking life very, very seriously. Maybe watch some tv. Relax like regular unenlightened people do.

The last thing I want to say is, when you get hung up on psychologizing yourself and it isn't helping, take some vitamins. Eat good food. Get exercise. Sometimes that does a lot more than any insight.

I hope that helps and doesn't sound too presumptuous.

Jason

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 11:01 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
something positive perhaps that is coming up after writing that is that maybe I need to be open to any experience whatsoever. normally whatever technique I am doing I automatically set certain restrictions on what is OK. e.g. it is not ok to feel xyz, it is not ok to feel resistance to feel xyz, it is not ok to feel like you are practicing wrong, it is not ok to feel resistance to feeling like you are practicing wrong, it is not ok to feel like it isn't ok to experience something. etc.


This could be the seed of a really powerful insight. Whether it is in the context of an explicit practice or just in our unreflective approach to life, this setting up the standards for what it is ok to be experiencing or not is exactly what blocks naturalness and spontaneity.

It's so helpful to see that you can give yourself permission to experience everything you are experiencing, and still hold standards about:

--which actions you choose to make
--which words you choose to speak
--which thought-trains you choose to pursue.

It's about not confusing the levels here and seeing how sila and insight dovetail in this way.



Adam . .:

what I think I want also has alot to do with effortlessness and naturalness, i.e. that "just being here" will be ok without me having to meddle with it, alter my perceptions of it or reshape it. perhaps what I mean by permanence, that things will be OK already without having to 'accept them' or 'be equaimous to them' or 'rationalize them' or 'fit them into some intellectual idea of how things should be/how they will be in the future'


In a sense, it is the effortlessly natural you that is the source of the urge to become liberated from those factors that hold you back from authenticity, including the authentic appreciation of aspects of true nature like emptiness and impermanence. Tapping into that and letting that guide practice can be really helpful. Watching out that 'practice' is not just trying to manipulate experience to fit some predetermined mold like to be always happy, clear, and have no problems ;)

I think it's really important to take good care of your life, including following up on resources for manifesting a more satisfying socio-emotional life. Nineteen is a crazy time in lots of ways and many of the things you describe experiencing I can definitely relate to, and I agree with Jason that you can tackle some of these challenges-- especially the social relational ones-- directly on their own level.

Meanwhile on the formal practice front, remember that if 'practice' is about obsessively assessing and altering experience in the light of a preconceived standard of how experience should be, then you are by definition practicing unnaturalness, effortfully. Constantly trying to hold attention on one channel of experiencing, like sensations, can be a useful exercise but can as easily be highly distorting-- don't forget about feelings, thoughts, intentions, etc (of course, those things are composed of sensations too... but that does not negate the fact that these phenomena composed of sensations also have their own meaningfullness). Just be with what is, even when what is-- is that activity of manipulating experience to conform to some standard.

And try not to confuse the levels (it's surprisingly easy to do, in my experience and observation): making decisions about which actions to carry out with body speech and mind has its own pragmatic truth which is totally compatible with an attitude of attentively noticing and acknowledging and appreciating all the details of how you are experiencing... the actual thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, intentions etc. that are arising in real-time.

I hope this helps in some small way emoticon

Remember to be easy with yourself, and following Jason's advice to eat well, socialize, exercise and otherwise care for the full human dimensionality of your life, and Claudiu's suggestions about having fun and enjoying ordinary fun activities, would probably be helpful if you aren't doing that stuff already.

Watch our for the toxic seriousness that can creep into a practice, keep a sense of humor about your adventures inner and outer.

RE: Me and my "shadow stuff"
Answer
1/25/13 11:25 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Claudiu and Felipe I apologize for my responses to you guys, hopefully you understand.

Jake and Jason both of your responses are really helpful. Something especially in Jakes response paints a picture I am capable of imagining for my life, those things you suggest really make me think I can have my cake and eat it too, i.e. meditate and have a normal life. Hopefully I don't wake up tomorrow and forget all this, as has happened before.

It will be tough to make friends because most people are already in their 'groups' but being open to the possibility I am sure it will gradually happen, I actually have decent social skills when I want to use them despite appearances.

I've thought about this enough today I should watch some workaholics. Tomorrow I will try to smoke with my roommate or something, but I will also carve out some time to do some very open, non restricted type practice.

Jake you should really make a career out of this psychology stuff emoticon