Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cycle?

Hi all, 

As I sit here feeling like another cycle is underway, (and still a little unsure what stage  I am at but thinking that I am cycling between a&p and low/high equnimity), it seems intuitively that my body is undergoing some kind of purification process with each of these cycles, and that this is in some way making some progress. Is there any truth in this or is this just an illusion of some kind? i.e does cycling in the dark night actually provide benefit of some kind?

thanks :-)

bman
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Not Tao, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy (Answer)

Posts: 997 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
My personal opinion: suffering is not purifying.  When I am not suffering, I am kinder, more productive, and life is easier.  Happiness and contentment are purifying.  So, don't give yourself excuses to suffer, I say!

That said, the key to escape is to realize the suffering is empty, not to squash it or push it away - so you aren't wrong there.  The best thing to do is examine it.  Break it apart.  Anxiety is pressure, thinking, clenching, tingling, a bit of heat, another thought, seeing...oh hey, there was nothing really there the whole time...
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Noah S, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy (Answer)

Posts: 1532 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
I don't know.  Here's my theory:  I think the word 'purifying' involves too much of the personal narrative.  That being said, I don't think its random that all of our mental maps are designed in roughly similar ways.  Nature is very organized in its processes, and this is just another one of them.  You psyche/subconscious/chakra system experiences a 'pop' (fruition) and a deepening to the next level when the inner hill has been sufficiently worn down.  How long it takes to wear down this hill and exactly what form that wearing away takes will vary from person to person.  However, the fact that a mapable progression exists does imply some type of purification to me.  So I guess what I'm saying is 'yes, I think so, but perhpas it could be most accurately explained in completely naturalistic terms.'
Paweł K:
Cycling is like bipolar disorder. To win this game and have less and less depression/dn you must:
1. notice what actions that you do or not do cause DN
2. notice what actions that you do or not do can lessen or end DN
3. notice what actually causes suffering when in DN
4. do what you must do to not suffer during DN

Second this, plus everything else Pawel wrote.  Awesome post.  Also, notice the relationship between thinking patterns/Right View and what makes the DN feel better.
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Richard Zen, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy (Answer)

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Rob Burbea might point out that one should do a welcoming practice, or metta to phenomena to see how much is withdrawal symptoms (dark night) or how much is aversion coupled with withdrawal symptoms. If you welcome more experiences (including unpleasant ones) then what's left is likely withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms involve shrinking the amygdala a little bit so that the addictive part is less prominent. This is a slow process of course.

You are rewiring your brain for more equanimity. Keep practicing and look at disenchantment as a way to let go of habits you know you personally want to drop. Then use visualization practices to develop desire in the direction you want to go so that you aren't just shrinking the amygdala and not pursuing worthy goals.
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Pablo . P, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy (Answer)

Posts: 379 Join Date: 3/21/12 Recent Posts
b man:
As I sit here feeling like another cycle is underway, (and still a little unsure what stage  I am at but thinking that I am cycling between a&p and low/high equnimity), it seems intuitively that my body is undergoing some kind of purification process with each of these cycles, and that this is in some way making some progress. Is there any truth in this or is this just an illusion of some kind? i.e does cycling in the dark night actually provide benefit of some kind?
I'm there too, cycling for years now, mostly because little sleeping hours due to work and raising a child toddler. 

As many have said in DhO, a retreat would help you get a solid EQ, and with sufficient time perhaps SE too.

A retreat is not an option for me nowadays. So, meanwhile I've been working with a less dry vippasana approach. I mix Bhante Vimalaramsi's 6R vippasana-samatha method, with Shinzen Young's Rest Noting & Gone Noting, as needed in each sit. Bottom line, A&P are much more interesting regarding insights and DN symptoms shrank a LOT. I still have the Mahasi's vippasana tools on the background whenever is needed. The improvement is slow but healthier, so to speak.

~P
Pablo . P:
.... So, meanwhile I've been working with a less dry vippasana approach. I mix Bhante Vimalaramsi's 6R vippasana-samatha method, with Shinzen Young's Rest Noting & Gone Noting, as needed in each sit. Bottom line, A&P are much more interesting regarding insights and DN symptoms shrank a LOT. I still have the Mahasi's vippasana tools on the background whenever is needed. The improvement is slow but healthier, so to speak.

~P

is this the method of which you speak, Pablo?

http://begintosee.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/differences-between-mahasi-style-and.html
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Pablo . P, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy (Answer)

Posts: 379 Join Date: 3/21/12 Recent Posts
B Man, I just saw your post, sorry!

Explanation of the 6R's:

http://www.dhammasukha.org/the-6rs.html

Here, Bhante V. explains the main point of TWIM:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USJPI7MP3Tw

For further details and much more please check his book The Breath of Love 2012 (pdf) 

http://library.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/breath-of-love.pdf

thanks Pablo - i'll check them out
Thanks for sharing your journey Gordo, it helps to put things into perspective a great deal. Good to hear your a surfer. Sufing has played a part in my abstience from booze also over the last few years, although I am currently landlocked at present, I'm considering escape to the coast again soon. I miss being in the water. Its a beautiful thing. Are you still surfing?

You mentioned something that has been resonating with me for a while:
Gordo:
..You have probably been wondering why one aspect /stages seem to generally fit all to some degree while another/purification does not....

any thoughts on why this is?
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy (Answer)

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
b man:
Hi all, 

As I sit here feeling like another cycle is underway, (and still a little unsure what stage  I am at but thinking that I am cycling between a&p and low/high equnimity), it seems intuitively that my body is undergoing some kind of purification process with each of these cycles, and that this is in some way making some progress. Is there any truth in this or is this just an illusion of some kind? i.e does cycling in the dark night actually provide benefit of some kind?

thanks :-)

bman
I suspect the danger of thinking that suffering is purifying is that it implies that you need merely suffer long enough and then you will get purified and it will go away by itself.  I tried that for a long time and it didn't work!  On hindsight, I think there was sort of a martyr complex type addiction to it, like it made me feel like I must be accomplishing a lot and working hard becuase I was suffering so!  There was like a special kind of pride that I would take refuge in, as if the suffering was  sign of my specialness or something.  I didn't notice it much for those years when I was doing it, but looking back, I can remember my thoughts at that time and it seems rather obvious now.  So personally, I would advise against that mindset because I think it can easily slow progress thinking just by suffering, I would be making progress and thus that suffering was somehow a good sign. 

And although I am not an expert, my current opinion is it works something like this (warning airy fairy alert), as your energy rises, all aspects of you are intensified, both good and bad.  This it really is kind of like being bipolar, you swing wider each way.  Like an old pipe that for many years only needed to pass a trickle of water, when the water level and pressure rises, all the leaks get exposed.  But the leaks won't fix themselves, they are just much easier to see now.  Once you get all the new leaks fixed, then the water level rises again and there is another round of leaks exposed.  I think the point that it doesn't follow the analogy is that the water will usually wait for you to fix the current leaks before it rises. 

There is an old saying that people will tend to stay them same until the point where staying the same is more painful than changing.  I suspect the better you are at changing that which needs changing, the less you will need to suffer..
-Ev
Thanks all, some really useful advice in here. 

Pawel, your idea of looking for the joy has really hit home and I have been using that. Many thanks. 
Change A., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy (Answer)

Posts: 797 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
If you have cycled enough times for a particular cycle, next time it starts, try to consciously think about where it is going to end and which path it is going to take. It might take the wind out of the sails of that particular cycle.
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Ryan J, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy (Answer)

Posts: 129 Join Date: 2/19/14 Recent Posts
I suspect there is a sort of purification going on, in some sense, but without razor sharp definitions for words it's too tempting to analyze all the while with the wrong definition. So I'm just going to add this here about purification with energy kinks or whatever, I myself seem to work with as I relax, Shinzen describes it here, which may or may not be what you are experiencing:

http://www.shinzen.org/Articles/artIcky.htm

Because meditation is a state of alert relaxation, it usually produces pleasant body sensations. Sometimes this pleasure is quite obvious, sometimes it may be wispy and subtle. Even when a person is experiencing discomfort during meditation, there is usually still some pleasure present, although one may not realize it. In the Buddhist tradition, there are several special technical terms to distinguish subtle nuances of meditation-produced pleasure such as piti (rapture), sukha (bliss) and passaddhi (lightness).

One of the tricks of the trade that meditators learn is how to use the intrinsic pleasure of meditation to deepen the meditation itself. This results in a positive feedback loop which carries the meditator into deeper and deeper states.

Here is how it works. The meditation produces relaxation and this feels good. The meditator can then focus on that pleasure skillfully, i.e. with equanimity and high concentration. This causes the pleasure to become more profoundly satisfying which in turn encourages even greater equanimity and concentration. This in turn causes the meditator to drop into an even deeper state of meditation producing more pleasure...
However, it is also true that meditators sometimes go through periods when the more they relax, the worse they feel! Specifically, there is a distinct kind of yucky body discomfort which occasionally arises in meditation. There is no single expression in the English language to denote this quality of sensation although we ought to have a word for it since it is such a common phenomenon. I once heard a famous Burmese teacher refer to it as "samadhi pain" because unlike other discomforts which immediately improve when you go deeper into samadhi (relaxation, concentration), this discomfort can get temporarily worse. The best I can do is try to characterize it in a few sentences. If you have ever experienced it, you will immediately recognize what I am trying to describe. For lack of a better term, I sometimes refer to this phenomenon as "relaxation pain."

It is an icky, sticky, creepy, crawly, jump-out-of-your-skin quality, a subtle cringing that may affect part or all of the body. The body may even move, shake or twitch as though it were in extreme agony, but there is little actual pain. It seems unbearable, yet it doesn't actually hurt. The worst part is that the more you relax, the "yuckier" you feel. When this phenomenon arises, it seems that the last thing you would want to do is to keep still for even a moment.

Of course this does not happen to everyone who meditates, so you may never be faced with it. But it is important to know about it because you could potentially encounter it at any point in your spiritual development. Even if you never meditate, you may experience this phenomenon, because it can arise as the result of just about any growth process. For example, a person may feel great while getting a massage or body work and then be ready to jump out of their skin a few hours or a few days later. Unless the body worker knows how to explain what is happening and what to do about it, the results could be confusing and discouraging to the client. This quality of sensation can also arise as the result of therapy, detoxification, diets and other growth modalities. In fact, people sometimes experience this quality of sensation for no apparent reason at all. When a person encounters this phenomenon, there is a tendency to be confused, to wonder, "What am I doing wrong?" In point of fact, it is a sign that you are doing something right!

If for whatever reason, you encounter this phenomenon, you need to do four things:

Understand what causes it.

Know how to work with it.

Remember that it will eventually dissolve.

Be happy.



------

There is more to the article than this if you go to the link.
thanks Ryan - very interesting article. This part particularly made me smile.

but what do we do about it? Nothing! Just try, to the best of your ability, to feel it and accept it. Sooner or later it will dissolve and break up. If you have made an effort to try to accept it, when it does break up, you will have released one "quantum packet" of poison and pain from the deep reaches of the unconscious mind.


I've been working to try and relax a blockage in my left thigh and lower back for about 4 years. I've been seeing little cracks and tiny bits of shifting over that time period and over the last few months I felt more and more movement and shifting. This week the floodgates have opened and I've been sick for a week straight as a result (its about the 5th time this has happened in the last couple of years that I beleive to be related to big energy blocks dumping loads of toxins in my body) - a "quantum packet of poison" feels about right for this circumstance! hopefully there's not too many more coming, though I kind of have a funny feeling although this might be the biggest and most dramatic, there's still a few more bumps in the road yet.

are you a shinzen fan? do you find his teachings to be of high quality and clarity?

just found this which is interesting discussion of his on The Dark Night... 

http://shinzenyoung.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/dark-night.html
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Simon T., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy

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A similar question could be asked about the 3C.
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Simon T., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Cycling in Dark night - is it purifying the body gradually with each cy

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Gordo . .:
From my understanding the answer to b mans question is no. This is because 1. The sankara process, although experienced in the body is a purification of the mind. So this is just an incorrect word. 2.The Mahasi insight  (dark night) stages are more an education than a purification. Hence the term insight.
The 3Cs are characteristics of phenomena, which are in both processes. 
The dark night could be explained as a 3c crisis, say a destabilising reaction to the insights.
Could you please elaborate on your post.
 

I meant the Three Characteristics stage. Lots of tension can be encountered there and released. 
Gordo . .:
From my understanding the answer to b mans question is no. This is because 1. The Sankara process, although experienced in the body is a purification of the mind. So this is just an incorrect word....
 


hey Gordo / Simon - just wondering if it could be, in fact, both? i.e - both the body and the mind? I mean, we see in the journey, how the mind thinks something and the body involuntarily and (unusually) unconsciously reacts, usually in my experience with a tensing of the body somewhere. My understanding of the relationship between the mind body process in this way is that this stores this resistance or disapproval in our body, as tension. These tensions are subtle and not really realised until we start to really peel some layers of the onion away and get some insight into how tense we actually really are, but don't realise in real life. It seems to me that this tension somehow stops the proper flow of energy (and perhaps other things like blood and hormones or functioning of the endocrine system) and as such impurities and toxins are held in the body, and hence when these Sankaras are released from the mind, the tension related to this is released, along with the toxins, and the body detoxifies and "purifies". I don't know though, but that's how it feels to me, from my direct experience. Though this could be something else at play that I am not aware of. 
b man, your post here sounds a lot like the kind of chinese medicine the taoists write about.  Taoist practices are actually meant to achieve physical immortality, traditionally, and their different energy practices (qi gong) are meant to open up the flow of qi/chi in the body - which is considered to be "life force" basically.  You might get a lot of benefit from a practice like the microcosmic orbit.  I've found this kind of thing does a lot to clear up that tension you're talking about.
Not Tao:
...You might get a lot of benefit from a practice like the microcosmic orbit.  I've found this kind of thing does a lot to clear up that tension you're talking about.
thanks, I'll try and do some research on that.
also, on a slightly different note, just wondering what peoples take on repetitive dreaming is, whether its part of this process of releasing old "stuff" from the subconsious. Some very repetitive dreams (good ones, thankfully) ive been having about a person from my past, who incidently I saw again, under quite ununsual circumstances, this time last year for the first time in over a decade. 

This dreaming has been going on for a year but recently is becoming more intense. Anyone had this? Im not sure what to make of it. and havent really had any reoccurring dreams in the past, at least since I was a child (about saving my brother from a monster in the garden!!)
Hi gordo,

yeah that energy block in my leg has started to shift, it felt like it was a bit of a turning point, but its not all gone. its felt like little shifts have happened over the last few years but this was definitely the biggest to date.

I actually got really ill. about 2.5 weeks in total, before I felt back to normal. Am also getting alot more of these heart / chest tightnesses coming and going, I think its linked in some way. releasign past hurts / closed heart centre maybe reopening gradually.

it all feels like hard work at the moment, but hopefully well on the way to that physical immortality that NotTao mentioned ;-)
having a couple more cycles this week. Particually hard to focus on work. 

Noticed that I am also seem to becoming more sensitive to noise. 

I was complaining about it so much that my friend gave me some noise cancelling headphones a month or so back, that he wasnt using, and now I pretty much wear them all the time at home, to block out the noise of the busy road outside and the neighbours stomping around on my ceiling all the time. Bascially, I need to move, thats become clear for a while, but it seems to becoming more and more unbearable, and I think I am just becoming more sensitive to my surroundings. Im pretty much fully considering leaving inner London and moving either further out towards the quieter suburbs or even countryside. 

(Of couse, it could just be that I am getting old and boring!)

Does anyone else notice this increase in sensitivity to noise? It seems to be far worse during a dark night part of a cycle, of course. Or at least I notice it more because I am more easily irritatated. 

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