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gravel road
vibrations dark night dn
Answer
2/18/15 8:11 PM
Hi, I am looking for clues. Sorry for the rather discontinuous post below, a slightly edited stream of thoughts. 

I am in the DN, now recognizing this has been true for about 2 years. It has been hell, the definition of existential depression with suicidal thinking, the works. The DN genesis was associated with an enormous lifting of psychological denial of a personal "disability" that has silently and pervasived shaped my entire life. (I am autistic.) The lifting of the veil of denial was initially a great lifting of a heavy burden. Within a short time (weeks later?) down came the house of cards of who "I" am. It came down very fast, almost violently, like a truck hitting a concrete wall. This led right into existential depression.

I recognized that the loss "I" was possibly a normal state to have attained from my practice, but I had no idea what the subsequent DN was about. I avoided talking about the loss of "I" to most people, including my meditation teacher. thinking it might be either morbidly pathological or a ridiculous claim to something unlikely to happen to an ordinary, but dedicated meditator.

Whatever happened, it was accompanied with personal pronoun confusion. I unwittingly started refering to myself in 3rd person at times, and getting some odd reactions when noticed doing so by myself or others.

I assumed the DN was a new version of major depression and sought therapy with meds and some talk. I am still using meds.

In the past couple months I considered that somehow meditation had broken something in my brain, perhaps permanently. Sitting had become pointless and was often more to settle and rest my hurting brain. My distress with simply being alive was escalating to a point of fear.

Possibly related is a loss of appetite. I have lost 15 pounds in 2 months. I have little to negative appetite. I eat to feed when my blood sugar wanes. Eating itself often feels like stuffing dead things into the hole in my head, not much fun.

A few days ago I stretched out on my recliner to meditate, lacking the will to do it proper. I felt very cold, even next to a burning stove. A strong shivering overtook my body. My whole body was actually shaking and vibrating for maybe 5-10 minutes, but I don't know for certain how long. I was not ill, and not actually cold. The physical shaking subsided, but the sensation of shivering persisted. I got into my hottub to warm up, the sensation continued, but no more physical shaking. This was all quite disturbing as I considered it more evidence I had really fucked up my brain.
update: a few hours after writing this, while sitting, the whole shivering experience began again, accompanied by a powerful feeling of loss comparable to the grief of loss of a family member. There was no crying or sadness. Just a painful emptiness. The shivering did not ramp up into shaking. I did my best to ride it out for about 30 minutes by exploring as best as i could, then had to pee, after which I did some household chores with what felt to be almost unbearable anguish. i took my dog for a walk. the mood now is defeated and exhausted. i don't know how long or how many times i can go thru this without serious mental health issues. or what, i don't know.
 
More recently I experienced a bright and sudden insight. Bright as in I literally sat bolt upright while working on the keyboard and experienced a momentary flood of sensation, esp a bright light that obscured my vision for perhaps a second or two. Sudden as it came out of nowhere. It was preceeded by a spontaneous remembering of the Mara enlightenment scene in the movie The Little Buddha, and I knew with certainty that the entire DN experience is yet another object. 

Now I am in a don't know what the fuck is next state. I have restarted studying dharma, with an emphasis on jhanas, but very much a beginner on the concepts. 

Back to the Gravel Road title. Above is background I would appreciate comment on, but not the reason I started this question.

I am very curious about the experience of vibrations, because something like a vibration is often felt when sitting, and I don't know just what this sensation is. I have always thought it to be neurological background noise, and now wondering if it is something more interesting, like interesting neurological background noise.

I suspect the shivering episode was a strong expression of the same thing, again I don't know. So, this morning I examined the vibration hoping to be able to put it into some kind of words here. What came up was driving on a gravel road. Bear with me, I am making this up as I go... 

I have a persistent feeling of crunchiness in my experience. It feels a lot like driving on a gravel road. It varies just the way speed changes the road feel on a gravel road. Slow is crunchy and bumpy thru dips and potholes. Medium is a different crunchiness and the bumps are smoother as the tires fly over the deep spots. Fast is humming, not really crunchy, the road feel is overall somehow smoother, although never like pavement, and the car fishtails unpleasantly.

The sit started with a slow drive on the gravel road, many ruts, dips, and crunchiness. As my body relaxed the road speed picked up to a moderate level with the moderate sensations. I was able to tease in some speed and fishtailing.

So, WTF is this gravelly experience? Is this how I feel the vibrations I read about but do not recognize? or??? And what does it mean to me, if anything at all? When I pay attention the gravel is there most of the time. It is annoying. I don't like it. If there was a pill to make it stop i would take it. 

I have an insight meditation teacher, but he avoids directly discussing the jhanas, leaving some bread crumb bits in his talks, but I have not heard a clear discussion of the map. And I have an appointment with him next week.

RE: gravel road
Answer
2/18/15 10:53 PM as a reply to Michael K.
Michael,

        I have no idea about the gravel experiences so I won't touch that. I hope you can find some help with some of the destabilizing experiences. Regarding the dark night, and accompanying unpleasantness as it relates to issues of at times overwhelming emotions, I wrote the following to another practitioner here a couple months back and it may be relevant...or not. 

        Some portions of the meditative journey towards transformation are difficult, and can bring to light a great many things previously suppresed. In seeing that what we had always supposed to be solid is not can cause some real destabilization. It can also exacerbate any other dormant mental health issues. When you stop distracting yourself, there is less room for dissasociation through abstract thought, and the unconscious can come to light.
      That being said, there are some issues that are just mental health issues. It is most useful if you experience severe depression, anxiety, parnaoia, etc. to see a mental health professional. Severe as in it impairs functioning to a relevant degree. Even if it is material being brought to light through meditation -don't know your story, so I won't guess- the issues that are arising are arising because they are a piece of your experience, exacerbated though they may be.

      As for wisdom, watch what you eat. Make sure you are getting enough healthy starches, vegetables, and protein. Go for long walks. Spend time with people you enjoy spending time with, and feel comfortable around. If you are going to continue to practice take up a gentle practice for a while, for ex. practice metta only for some animal or person you feel totally safe with, and do just this in a light way for a while.

If you are experience severe distress in a consistent way it may be most useful to seek help in whatever way it is available. I have worked in mental health for several years, and also have a lot of experience with the difficult and destabilizing nature of insight at times. Also, and definitively, I am not saying you are mentally ill, just that the extreme emotions you are feeling MAY be more usefully addressed in a venue besides a online discussion forum. Or they may not. Who the fuck am I? If you are interested in talking 1:1 on skype, or need help with resources you can send me a PM on here. 

Bill



RE: gravel road
Answer
2/19/15 4:32 AM as a reply to Michael K.
I've noticed in my own practice that there are periods wherein the difference between where my body actually is and where it perceives itself to be (proprioception) are thrown out of sync, the degree and frequency of that desync registering as a kind of vibration (for lack of a better word). These vibrations begin rather slow, wide, and subtle (background), then gradually ramp up to become quite narrow, fast, and rather tactile (foreground). This cycle repeats, typically with an abrupt drop-off after the faster frequencies. 

Does this sound familiar at all? I don't have a good sense for picking out nanas outside the very obvious indicators, but my general feeling is that this phenomena is a hallmark of re-observation -- or at least that this is where it can become especially pronounced. Daniel's take on this nana is well worth a careful read and more than a little reflection. Bill's advice is very sound, too.

RE: gravel road
Answer
2/19/15 9:30 AM as a reply to Michael K.
As a teen I did a DIY body scan practice and could easily get into a proprioception hallucination where my body felt HUGE, like it was inflated like a balloon. I had no instruction other than a few mass market books. I figured out other meditation techniques, but the body balloon was a favorite which I could ususally do on demand and maintain for long periods. I think, from the distance of time, that I was using this as an escape, like a drug, to get distance from unpleasantness in my ordinary life.

My experience of unpleasantness largely came from being undiagnosed autistic (aspergers) and the mistreatment that a strange kid gets from every direction. I was motivated to find escape. Meditation was a good route at the time, by whatever means. At this time I am still autistic. Autism affects me pervasively. It is very hard or impossible to understand how this is important, but I am certain it is a large factor in too many ways to list.

RE: gravel road
Answer
2/19/15 9:45 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Thank you Bill. 

I am working with an autism specialist (who does not know dharma), and a theravada teacher (who is also a therapist, but does not know autism). I am trying to get what I need in small doses from both. It is not an optimal therapeutic situation. I do not have the kind of psychological history Daniel would want to see doing hardcore practices, but there it is anyway-a lifetime of mental health treatment and unwittingly wandering the jhanas. I got a tiger by the tail, and now trying to figure out what to do with it.

The pervasive mood of the past months has been that my life is nearing an end and don't care. I don't mean end in 10-20 years. It feels imminent, like in weeks or months. There is a measure of this. I am loosing weight from insufficient food intake, -15 pounds in 2 months. I can afford to loose more, but this is obviously not sustainable. It is odd, and interesting, in that I have always been somewhat overweight and loved to eat anything.

RE: gravel road
Answer
2/19/15 11:03 AM as a reply to John M..
re-observation. it does look familiar. a new thing to study.

RE: gravel road
Answer
2/20/15 7:47 AM as a reply to Michael K.
Michael K:
I have a persistent feeling of crunchiness in my experience. It feels a lot like driving on a gravel road. It varies just the way speed changes the road feel on a gravel road. Slow is crunchy and bumpy thru dips and potholes. Medium is a different crunchiness and the bumps are smoother as the tires fly over the deep spots. Fast is humming, not really crunchy, the road feel is overall somehow smoother, although never like pavement, and the car fishtails unpleasantly.

My experience is that one of the main differences I notice after completeing a DN cycle is that my perception of bodily sensations changes and becomes much smoother, particularly the sensation of breathing. I'd say that 'gravel-y' wouldn't be a bad description of how I feel before, and 'silky' might be a good description of how I feel after. The other really noticeable change for me is how the region of space inside my chest feels. In DN it is heavy/hard/painful/full and after it is spacious and empty-feeling.

Your issue with eating sounds to be related to the 'disgust' aspect of the DN. And the fixation on ideas of death and dying could be related to the fear aspect.

Certainly your experience sounds overall not very different to how I feel when I'm getting to the end of a DN cycle ('desire for deliverance'), in fact having done it a few times now I rather welcome the intensity of the experience, but the first time it seemed very permanent and very scary becasue I didn't know how to end it. The overal level of intensity you're describing is pretty high, but I think that if you've been in the dark night for years and years then that's just how it is the first time round.

I got through my first DN mainly by keeping my mind from getting lost in the contents and keeping it grounded in sensation, exactly as per MCTB.

-- Doing hard phyical activity like yoga, long distance cycling, weight lifting etc. anything that provides a really strong phyiscal sensation that I can get absorbed in. This builds your ability to concentrate even when things are physically unpleasant.
-- Any time I wasn't deliberately meditating I tried to stay aware of breathing. The less time you spend allowing your mind to dwell on the content of your thoughts the less power those thoughts hold over you. Taan Geoff has a nice talk on 'taking refuge in the breath'
-- I spent several days just staring out of the window at the landscape watching the edges of my vision strobing slightly. Sounds like your flickering is more propioceptive so maybe look for it somewhere else (varying ringing in ears? choppy sensation of breathing?). Mine just happens to mainly be visual. Low doses of LSD were useful.
-- Try to learn to find 'unpleasent' sensations interesting. This seems to be closel related to percieving the three characteristics.

My first fruition occurred by meditating intensely on the sharp, knife like pain that had developed in my chest over the previous week or so while using really strong breathing into a pillow to stop my mind just bailing out. The sensation became more and more intense, sharp and burning until it appeared in my visual field as a ball of light against a background. Waves of light and dark moved over the background and over the sphere and then at some point a wave of dark covered the whole sphere and 'blip!'... but the lead up to being in a place where that was possible took weeks of sustained effort. I also used 2C-B and a little inhaled DMT.

Just incidentally, my girlfriend is somewhat autistic and she also started meditating informally due to a horrid social environment and had a period in her teens where she had very odd experiences regarding her sense of self. She is now one of the toughest people I know -- mentally strong people are strong becasue they've been through hell, not becasue they started out that way.

Also, try not to starve yourself to death in the mean time. On a practical level I find that you can get a lot of calories into a smoothie, just load it up with fatty things like coconut oil, peanut butter, nutella etc. On a spiritual level, every experience is worthy of investigation. Experiencing disgust in relation to eating? Great! Investigate the sensation of disgust, once you get familiar with it you will recognise it as just a sensation, stop judging it as 'good' or 'bad' and stop being controlled by it.

RE: gravel road
Answer
2/20/15 10:48 AM as a reply to Michael K.
Michael K:
As a teen I did a DIY body scan practice and could easily get into a proprioception hallucination where my body felt HUGE, like it was inflated like a balloon. I had no instruction other than a few mass market books. I figured out other meditation techniques, but the body balloon was a favorite which I could ususally do on demand and maintain for long periods. I think, from the distance of time, that I was using this as an escape, like a drug, to get distance from unpleasantness in my ordinary life.

Thread on body distortions and the marshmallow man effect- http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4552606
Good luck,
~D