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Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline

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Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline
meditation practice bipolar mind and body
Answer
8/2/13 7:06 AM
Hello,

I was seeking some mundane insight (though if you can give me ethereal insight i'm happy to receive!) on mood changes and practice. I have been keeping to a fairly steady routine of 1-2.5 hrs of meditation a day, but the last few days my restlessness and desire for activity has really increased as a result of an upward (energetic) mood swing. One of the largest effects is an extremely active mind, desiring to do the ten thousand things. Luckily through my practice I have begun to create more space between my running mind and my awareness, so I don't feel as attached or driven by the ideas my mind puts out en masse. At the same time, I am still quite restless (and underrested), so I am at a disadvantage while trying to sit and concentrate. Any ideas? How do y'all sit through a tired/wired situation? I suppose I could try doing more vipassana than anapassana (insight instead of samadhi), but I am working on my 1st Jhana before really jumping back into Insight. Also, any people with more experiential insight on mind want to take a crack a what causes an increasingly rapid flow of the mind-river people prone to mood swings?

Thanks,

Tim

RE: Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline
Answer
8/2/13 8:01 AM as a reply to Timothy Ingalls.
How's it going Timothy?

I've found mood swings have only become more severe as I've progressed. Re: during meditation though, it's a tough one that I doubt anyone has any major solutions to. The main thing is not to let that second arrow of your reaction to the mood swings cause you even more unnecessary dukkha. Don't obsess over the superficials - concentrate on doing the damage fundamentally and the rest will sort itself out. Don't obsess over this - just keep practising. Channeling the energy into some high-powered vipassana technique might be a good idea.

It's hard to know what could cause moods swings in the mind-rivers of people who are below the A&P. For people above the A&P, or above SE, that's a whole different story. Maybe you're even in A&P territory? You might want to read up on that.

To try and actually give you some decent advice - try burning up the energy with exercise before you start.

RE: Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline
Answer
8/2/13 7:16 PM as a reply to Timothy Ingalls.
Hi, since these questions are becoming increasingly common I have put the post back up regarding bipolar disorder and practice. I have added a strong warning/disclaimer at the top of the page which explains why I originally took the post down.

See:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3373753

RE: Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline
Answer
8/2/13 7:32 PM as a reply to Timothy Ingalls.
so I am at a disadvantage while trying to sit and concentrate. Any ideas? How do y'all sit through a tired/wired situation?


To answer your question, see the below response I gave to the thread here: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3721000

What worked for me (when I first started) was to stay on the object of meditation, but to let the breath and body be wild Meaning if the breath needs to be wild, let it be wild, if you need to sway back and forth for a while, then sway back and forth (while keeping the attention on the wild breath). I found that eventually the breath would settle down and then become shallow (perhaps after 30 minutes or longer of doing this) and then I would enter access concentration and then even jhana. This is what worked for me, but you'll have to experiment and see what works for you. If things get too bad off cushion, then make sure to take a break from sitting for a while and then come back to it and alter your technique to what is reducing hindrances and not increasing them. So what I mean is if the following are increasing for some time after a period of sitting then you're not doing it right. Proper samatha practice is about reducing these off cushion, not increasing them off cushion

sense desire
ill will
sloth and torpor
restlessness (fear is a form of restlessness, doubt, and "ill will")
doubt

So immediately after sitting these should be reduced (even if you started out sitting in a somewhat wild and anxious state, as I stated above). They should be reduced for some period of time afterward (ranging from minutes, hours, days), and then re-arise at some point afterwards. When they re-arise they should not be coming back stronger than when you sat down. If they are coming back stronger then you should alter your technique/sitting time accordingly.

RE: Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline
Answer
8/3/13 12:53 AM as a reply to Timothy Ingalls.
I suppose I could try doing more vipassana than anapassana (insight instead of samadhi), but I am working on my 1st Jhana before really jumping back into Insight. Also, any people with more experiential insight on mind want to take a crack a what causes an increasingly rapid flow of the mind-river people prone to mood swings?


Personally, I don't think this is a good idea (unless you happen to experience mania w/ psychosis (psychotic features) and you would have to be more cautious about provoking insight cycles ( see linked post that is two posts above). Practicing something like noting vipassana on a manic and racing mind will tend to only increase the manic and racing intensity and eventually you will fly out of control. You need to have an anchor for some stability. I would recommend working on calming the mind out of a hypo/manic-like state by using samatha before moving into vipassana. This is definitely possible because I used to do it all the time before I started doing vipassana. I would simply use the jhanic states to stop mania right in its tracks. Follow the instructions in the above post to do this.

To answer the second question, the causes of the rapid-flow mind-river are due to energetic phenomena such as occur at the A&P (or can also be explained in biochemical terms like increased amines). The range of this energetic phenomena for someone with bipolar disorder is greater than the range of the normal person.

RE: Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline
Answer
8/2/13 11:38 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Thanks for all the replies y'all.

I find the comments on A&P particularly interesting. I don't know if I have had either A&P or Dark Night on the cushion, but I have certainly had something like them in waking life. In many ways that is what has pushed me down the meditation path. It's funny because it's almost zero-sum. It's like either profound transformation or suicide. What's great is that so much of the severity has waned over the past year (since I started practicing) so now the racing thoughts are no longer dangerous to my mood stability nor do they rapidly tax my nervous system, rather they are simply too much fun and too interesting not to follow - which becomes a large hindrance for meditation. Luckily, they too are impermanent and will pass so hopefully in calmer states I can make more progress.

Thanks again for all the insight and support

RE: Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline
mahasi bipolar depression
Answer
8/6/13 9:56 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom,

Thanks again for all your info. I feel like there are deep mines of insight to be gained from the study of "mental disorder" and buddhist insight. I would love to have more in depth discussion on the topics sometime. I was interested in your comment about how people prone to mania should not do noting practice. I was considering going to the Mahasi center in San Jose Cali this september for a month-long retreat, but you have advised me against it; can it really be so dangerous? I really need to do another retreat as I have fallen to 30 - 45 minutes of practice a day. I am still just enjoying being relatively normal and effective in life; whereas the depression was always a good instigator to look a little closer.

Thanks!

Timothy

RE: Bipolar Waves and Meditation Baseline
Answer
8/7/13 1:35 AM as a reply to Timothy Ingalls.
I was interested in your comment about how people prone to mania should not do noting practice. I was considering going to the Mahasi center in San Jose Cali this september for a month-long retreat, but you have advised me against it; can it really be so dangerous?


There is the potential for it to be very dangerous, but this is dependent on these factors.

1. Have you experienced any psychosis? (meaning a diagnosis of bipolar type 1 w/ psychotic features or schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is when psychotic features can occur during a normal mood, not manic or depressed, but the person also has experienced mania and/or depression).

2. Have you ever attempted suicide and/or made a plan for suicide? (If psychotic features are prominent, then suicide can also be a risk in the same way doing too much LSD might cause someone to jump off a roof thinking they are able to fly). It also can be a risk factor if someone gets deeply depressed and is prone to attempting suicide from a deep state of depression.

3. Do you experience hypomania (a diagnosis of bipolar type II) or do you also experience full-blown mania? (meaning it either involves psychotic features, or if it doesn't involve psychotic features, it involves behavior that is highly destructive to your life. Non-classical mania is psychosis-like states resembling schizophrenia or an acid trip. Classical mania is going on a 50,000 dollar shopping spree).

Keep in mind that bipolar type II, by definition, does not involve psychotic features as they only occur in schizophrenia/schizoaffective or bipolar w/ psychotic features (which is always bipolar type 1 or schizophrenia/schizoaffective..

If you only experience hypomania (bipolar II), then it is less risky though there is the potential for a depressive state. You, obviously, know your symptoms better than I do, so you would have to assess the risk based on the above three points.

Another important point: You may or may not have these problems when you're on the actual retreat. It is more likely that the problems will sneak up on you after the retreat has ended, but are causally related to the excessive amount of meditation and noting practice done while on the retreat. This could be very dangerous if there are no actual people around to tell you you're getting off track. Keep in mind that the only retreat I went on was 5 days, and I went into psychosis shortly after and was hospitalized twice in row.

On the other hand, I know several people who are bipolar who do not experience psychosis who have successfully completed retreats with little to no problems. These were all people who were practicing according to the instructions/tradition of Goenka, had no history of suicide attempts, and they were unfamiliar with mahasi noting, the dharmaoverground, or MCTB. This, in itself, doesn't mean anything as they may not have made any progress whatsoever, according to the maps in use here while they were on the retreat. Meaning they probably didn't pass the A&P event.

Helpful? Any more questions?

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