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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Up A Creek without a paddle (Am I in the Dark Night and what to do now?)

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I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet, but still get an accurate diagnosis, I appreciate any and all help, because this sucks. 

I recently (2-3 Months ago) had what I think was an arising and passing experience.

Short back story, I have been an off and on opiate addict for the past 4 years. With bouts of opiate sobriety punctuated by 1-4 month runs on oxy, heroin, vicodin. I drank HEAVILY in between and during the opiate use. Then about 2-3 months ago I had a bit of a break down and just kind of decided it was time to get sober. It's hard to remember exactly why I did it it just kind of happened. I continued to drink to get me through the withdrawal stage, but as the opiates left I believe my arising and passing experience either happened or began to happen (I'm not sure the words to use) and it eventually led to me getting sober. Also may be relevant that I have had fairly extensive experience with psychedelics years prior so I don't think this is my first go around. I also have been reading dharma since I was 12 or so with a big break during all the drug use. 

What I experienced 3 months ago was: 
  • Feeling of being "chosen" for some sort of higher purpose like how a saint would be called to a higher purpose.
  • Feeling of being able to see/feel karma. Everything feeling vaguely familiar, feeling like I've spent time with the people around me in past lives.
  • Feeling like everything is moving/breathing colors being extremely rich. 
  • Meditating while sleeping.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Extremely vivid dreams. (I don't often remember dreams)
  • About halfway through I was able to quit drinking all together (still sober 75 days later)
  • Feeling like the universe was talking to me, seeing significance everywhere.
  • Hunger for spiritual texts, stories, etc...
  • Overall feeling of significance. Everything just felt extremely important like it had cosmic implications.
  • Extremely loving.
  • Mental abilities/communication abilities greatly increased.
  • Kind of embarassing, but I had a Kundalini experience. I had heard about the Kundalini so I tried bringing it up my spine. I basically felt like I had an orgasm, got an erection, and felt like the energy released out of the top of my head. 

This began to give way to fear. It felt like it was too much. I felt like I wasn't ready; overwhelming. It was still pleasant, but still extremely fearful. Bouts of fear were interspersed between longer connected-to-all feelings. Then it all kind of slowed down and I feel hungover and disconnected. I've began to practice 30mins-1hour a day, but it's difficult.

Some days are better than others, but generally I feel kind of grossed out with the world. I also feel uncomfortable all the time! My skin feels kind of like it's crawling sometimes and I just feel generally out of sync like I am always behind what's happening now. When I breath I feel the sensation come in/or out like it is vibrating or pulsing at a pace much faster than my heartbeat. I feel kind of disatisfied with everything, food is no fun, sex is no fun, making money is no fun, it all just seems like a waste of time and I want it to stop. My only goal is to make it stop  make all this bullshit suffering stop. 

I've read MCTB in its entirety and It's helped at least make some sense of the experience, but I did want a second/third/fourth opinion outside of self-diagnosis. 

So my question is was what I want through arising and passing and now the dark night?
If so does this mean I have a lot of catching up to do?
Would I need a stronger practice to pop through quickly?
I have my first 7 day silent retreat begining this coming monday up at Spirit Rock, any tips/anything I should focus on?
Should I tell the facilitators? Should I go for the stream on this retreat? Is that even remotely possible? 

I just want this suffering to end everything feels like a waste of time.

I know no one has to help so I do appreciate any and all help that much more. Thank you

Kyle,

You have a seven day retreat at Spirit Rock coming up, and that's a very fortunate position to be in. I can tell you from personal experience that the teachers there will most likely be reluctant to even frame a discussion in terms of the progress of insight. I've been told by senior teachers there and at IMS that it's simply not how they evaluate a yogi's practice these days. From my perspective, I question how useful ongoing, realtime evaluation according to a stages of insight framework is anyway, while on retreat at least, especially a shorter one. In some cases, it can be a major distraction.

If you adopt a commitment toward cultivating interest, in a sincere friendly manner, toward the sensations arising in this moment, the practice will progress. If you want to evaluate your practice, my suggestion would be to use inclusivity and acceptance as metrics. When these qualities are developed, equanimity will develop as a natural by product.

Best of luck on your retreat.

I'll second what Max said here.  Acceptance of feelings can be empowering, because you'll realize you can "take it", so when they eventually go away you won't worry about if they come back.  Acceptance also has a way of freeing up your awareness, and when you let your awareness drift freely, these kinds of negative emotions dissolve.  Negativity is a loop.  You don't just feel aversion to something outside of you, you also feel it for the feeling itself.  So if you accept the feeling, you can be free of it.  It's a tough proposition, though, because you can't accept something and wish it would go away at the same time.

Something I've been using to great effect (I've been meaning to start a detailed thread about this) is negative visualization.  Essentially, you imagine yourself getting into horrible accidents or suffering some kind of life loss.  You try to imagine the pain in real time and first person perspective - imagine it happening to you in the moment - and this has a way of robbing the imagination of negative things to dwell on.  It's important to do this with the goal of being neither repulsed or drawn into the mental imagery.  You simply imagine your body getting hurt in some way, and allow the images and feeling in your mind to go on uncensored.  It can be difficult at first, and you might feel yourself tensing up and pushing away, but if you repeat the mental story a number of times, it has a cathartic effect and you'll arrive at a sense of peace about the situation.  You can then apply what you've learned with this to any DN type emotions you're feeling.  Try to realize that it's not the sensations of the feelings that are negative, it's only your judgments about them that are.

And just so I don't sound crazy, lol, I'll mention that this was suggested in Stoic philosophy as a way to develop tranquility, and also has a solid base in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  It's a powerful technique!

I hope this helps.  It's done a lot for me!  Also, if it doesn't work fairly quickly (say 10 minutes or so) there's no need to torture yourself for no reason.  It should work pretty quickly if it's going to.

EDIT: Google images can be helpful too.  Try scrolling through "necrotizing fasciitis" for a few minutes to face those feelings of disgust head on.

Thanks Max.

Could you please elaborate on inclusivity and acceptance?

Also I appreciate this:

"
a commitment toward cultivating interest, in a sincere friendly manner, toward the sensations arising in this moment, the practice will progress." 

I'm going to try to live this from now through at least the end of the retreat. 

Hard to be interested in these shit feelings, but I see where that commitment in that way could be very helpful. 

Thanks to you as well Not Tao 

I've tried and its already helped a bit. It's like when you feel jealous about a partner picture the worst case scenario and something about it is cathartic.


Very likely was the A&P: I agree. Sounds pretty classic.

Best wishes with your addiction issues. The A&P can really help with that for a lot of people. Nice story and glad to hear it.

The A&P is standard Theravadan terminology, not that they will all know what it is, but if that is you framework, good to let them know that, and then try to work with their frameworks, whatever those are.

Stream entry is possible: accept this moment and perceive it clearly again and again and again. Ground all future-goal-map stuff in this sensate moment, in this field of experience, and see all of those maps, goals, etc. as part of what is happening here at a sensate level: this is key! Settle into this moment really diligently: it is a paradox, but reminding yourself again and again that being here now is how it is done helps.

Daniel

Kyle:
Thanks Max.

Could you please elaborate on inclusivity and acceptance?




Kyle,

Inclusiveness in this context means you don’t stop at “my skin feels like it is crawling and it’s unpleasant.” 

What is the sensation of skin crawling? Where is it felt in the body? Is it always present or does it come and go (not just hour to hour and minute to minute, but moment to moment)?

How do you know that these sensations are unpleasant? What does it mean for a sensation to register as unpleasant?

How does the mind react to these sensations? How does the body react? Does it put up a fight?

This sort of curiosity, a spirit of diligent investigation, is what drives the progression of the practice.

Max