Totally Stuck

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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Hi,

I've had some "enlightening experiences" or temporary "seeing no self" over the years, some glimpses, but no lasting relief. The glimpses were enough to break me from thinking I could be happy with any other type of life comforts or successes, so now I've been stuck between worlds for a long time.

I used to do good at "instructions" and working with teachers (I considered becoming a nun at one point), but too many temporary highs followed by dead-end experiences (and also dysfunctional student-teacher relationships), and now it seems no technique or teacher can really give any useful help or at least I can't "get it". Still meditate but can't concentrate. Cannot stick with an object anymore in any kind of relaxed way. I rotate between choiceless awareness, breath awareness & metta/forgiveness but feel like I'm not getting anywhere. Too much body pain most of the time and suppressed emotion which when it finally comes out is overwhelming... did a lot of therapy and trauma therapy (found out I had a lot of dissociation from suppressed traumas, and PTSD), but it got to a point where I'm so tired of processing in that setting (one-on-one intensive connection) because I have to stay too connected to the therapist and ultimately I feel like I want the Dhamma to heal and nothing else can even come close. Once I've glimpsed a slice of dependent origination, nothing else can compare, it would seem. (Plus I'm tired of shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars just to see if some person's "method" can take the edge off. But, however I practice needs to take some hardcore emotional processing into account and be very careful to avoid emotional suppression–I'm aware that there's some pretty heavy old suppressed stuff to wade through.) 

So I really don't know how to practice anymore. I used to do a lot of intensive sitting, retreats, inquiry, getting into jhanas, etc. But it feels like so far away. One retreat with Adyashanti about 5 or 6 years ago I asked him a Q and he said I was "checkmated" -- that no technique could help me anymore because i was at a certain place and this was actually a really good thing...a sign of good progress... but it never really turned out to be a good thing or at least maybe I still kept running after techniques to try and ease suffering... Had lots of body issues/health stuff over the years, quit meditation for some years and just did things like restorative yoga, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais etc. but nothing ever changes deep enough so I come back to meditation and the straight dhamma but find myself a total flop.

I am too skeptical of most teachers and usually soon decide they can't help me. So although I have some helpful and caring people in my life, I guess I'm doubtful anyone can really help me. So why am I posting this here if no one can help me? Not sure, heh. But I still somehow appreciate feedback...On the off chance.... emoticon

Thanks for reading.
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Jeff Wright, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 82 Join Date: 4/16/15 Recent Posts
Your practice seems to be in a similar place as mine...not able to focus on the object of meditation for any length of time, and feeling stuck. For me I think that's OK, since I am pretty new to all of this (really having only had a solid practice since Jan 1 of this year). I initially tried focusing on the breath, as so many instructors seem to tell you to do, but first of all I couldn't find that one point where the breath went into and out of my body and then finally after weeks of trying and discovering that it was actually *inside* my nostrils, not at the tip of my nose, I found the feeling so esoteric and faint that my mind wandered off almost immediately. I then tried noting and had similar results. I finally (reluctantly) turned to Metta as my object of meditation, using the TWIM approach, and I have truly been enjoying it. I don't know if I'm "advancing" (although I do feel that I am), but that's secondary because I *feel* a lot better.

I have heard from several authorities on the subject that sticking with one single practice instead of flip flopping around is the best (and ultimately quickest) way to achieve a breakthrough, which you seem to be looking for. I'd say, pick whichever practice feeds your soul, and go with that. Remember that the journey is the destination and don't get hung up on attainments, where you are at on the maps, if/when you will ever "get there..." But that said, also find qualified teacher and let them guide you.

I feel for you on the body pain. I'm getting a bit older (just turned 50) and the inevitable creaks and pains are really starting to assert themselves and while I get that these are just feelings that arise, persist, and then pass away - and I get that they are not-me - they certainly are difficult to just 'note off' when they're at their peak. Another reason I'm finding the Metta meditation helpful, since I can soak my being in love and compassion and send it out and that seems to take a bit of the edge off. I'm also discovering that sitting *very still* during my sessions helps to alleviate the focus on my pains.

Peace and love to you,

Jeff
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Jeff Wright:
Your practice seems to be in a similar place as mine...not able to focus on the object of meditation for any length of time, and feeling stuck. 
Hi Jeff, thanks for your comments. I guess we are more common than we think, huh! (not being able to focus too well)
For me I think that's OK, since I am pretty new to all of this (really having only had a solid practice since Jan 1 of this year). I initially tried focusing on the breath, as so many instructors seem to tell you to do, but first of all I couldn't find that one point where the breath went into and out of my body and then finally after weeks of trying and discovering that it was actually *inside* my nostrils, not at the tip of my nose, I found the feeling so esoteric and faint that my mind wandered off almost immediately. I then tried noting and had similar results.
I have the opposite problem: after years of intensive (probably misguided at times) vipassana, I ended up feeling tons and tons of stuff, all over my body, all the time. Without equanimity this is kind of like a torture chamber. No wait, it IS a torture chamber. I'm a wee bit jealous of your brand of difficulty here, lol (or not so lol as the case may be).
I finally (reluctantly) turned to Metta as my object of meditation, using the TWIM approach, and I have truly been enjoying it. I don't know if I'm "advancing" (although I do feel that I am), but that's secondary because I *feel* a lot better.
That's wonderful. I did the TWIM approach for a few years and it really did help me a lot. It is such an open style and there's a lot of really good things about it. When I could do that type of approach, the pain just fell away and I did seem to make progress, spend extended periods in equanimity, that kind of thing. Unfortunately, like everything else, I began to fail at that approach as well and dead ended...... emoticon I still try to bring it into my practice as much as I can though, but not with much success. emoticon
I have heard from several authorities on the subject that sticking with one single practice instead of flip flopping around is the best (and ultimately quickest) way to achieve a breakthrough, which you seem to be looking for. I'd say, pick whichever practice feeds your soul, and go with that. Remember that the journey is the destination and don't get hung up on attainments, where you are at on the maps, if/when you will ever "get there..." But that said, also find qualified teacher and let them guide you.
I like that about feeding the soul. As far as finding a qualified teacher, oh boy, well that would be great but for someone to be "qualified" to be able to help "me" ... well... as you might see in other parts of the thread that would be something of a miracle. But I'd take it!
I feel for you on the body pain. I'm getting a bit older (just turned 50) and the inevitable creaks and pains are really starting to assert themselves and while I get that these are just feelings that arise, persist, and then pass away - and I get that they are not-me - they certainly are difficult to just 'note off' when they're at their peak. Another reason I'm finding the Metta meditation helpful, since I can soak my being in love and compassion and send it out and that seems to take a bit of the edge off. I'm also discovering that sitting *very still* during my sessions helps to alleviate the focus on my pains.
You're right, metta is very soothing to the pain and probably still really good for me if I could manage to get back into it. Also, point taken about sitting *very still*...it really does make a difference, between sitting totally still and even fidgeting a tiny bit. I gotta get back on the still train. 
Peace and love to you,
And to you too.
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katy steger, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
One retreat with Adyashanti about 5 or 6 years ago I asked him a Q and he said I was "checkmated" -- that no technique could help me anymore because i was at a certain place


I really like this expression and definitely see it as a place that happens when there's apparently no other teacher to help (you wrote: "I am too skeptical of most teachers and usually soon decide they can't help me. So although I have some helpful and caring people in my life, I guess I'm doubtful anyone can really help me. So why am I posting this here if no one can help me? Not sure, heh. But I still somehow appreciate feedback...On the off chance....").

So I can relate, but I'm not sure recounting my experience helps.

So I really don't know how to practice anymore. I used to do a lot of intensive sitting, retreats, inquiry, getting into jhanas,


Yup, I use mild pre-jhana for some daily activities or to "gladden the mind" (after sugary cupcake crashes...), but I agree that these have since paled since seeing D.O. and seeing nothing that challenges/can dismiss that yet. (But I do still look forward to winters when this is a natural time for me to practice jhanas).

Once I've glimpsed a slice of dependent origination, nothing else can compare, it would seem.


So all I know is compassion for the condition of being and dependent origination (D.O.), equanimity for the condition of D.O., and enjoying/supporting the company of others (mudita), exending dana and taking care of oneself, and finally letting go of sorrow/dukkha for the condition of dependent origination and the terms of "if it arises, it passes". It feels very peaceful. One day I just gave up and realized that was the condition and suffering it does nothing*. This is no claim; I am a basic practioner, just to quality that. [okay: "I am a basic pracitioner is a claim" =]

Like Jeff, I feel for you on the body stuff. It sounds like you've done a lot. Do you ever fast after noon (like retreat) or try, say, the MIND diet (gah, I know, another diet...)? And do you ever just gently teach others from your experiences (like some of the techniques you know)? You seem post-evangelical or non-evangelical, for lack of a better word, and could be a nice, calm teacher? (That doesn't really address your checkmate). I'm speculating here..


Best wishes and thanks for putting down this thread. I really relate to that phrase and phase "checkmated" and wish you well in unlocking it/letting it go, however that happens..


{*I certainly grieve traumas and sadnesses shared by friends; this to me is natural as is laughing with friends at somthing funny).

_______
Editx3


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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Hi Katy, thanks for your words.
Yup, I use mild pre-jhana for some daily activities or to "gladden the mind" (after sugary cupcake crashes...),

What do you mean by mild pre-jhana?
...finally letting go of sorrow/dukkha for the condition of dependent origination and the terms of "if it arises, it passes". It feels very peaceful. One day I just gave up and realized that was the condition and suffering it does nothing
I don't understand the last sentence?

Like Jeff, I feel for you on the body stuff. It sounds like you've done a lot. Do you ever fast after noon (like retreat) or try, say, the MIND diet (gah, I know, another diet...)? And do you ever just gently teach others from your experiences (like some of the techniques you know)? You seem post-evangelical or non-evangelical, for lack of a better word, and could be a nice, calm teacher? (That doesn't really address your checkmate). I'm speculating here.

Yeah, I used to play with fasting a lot and changing the way I eat. It's hard not to eat after noon but I did it for few months to not eat after 2 or 3 and I was healthier. Should try that again!

I have done some teaching of relaxing yoga or movement lessons, guided relaxations, bodywork, etc. and I am able to help people relax and feel good...they do appreciate my calming voice & touch... but it doesn't seem to really help me and then I question why I'm doing that when the relief seems so temporary anyways.

And thanks, I like that "post-evangelical" term about myself -- I would agree!
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Noah S, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 1532 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
How about trying prayer, ritual magick, loa/visualization/spiritual mind treatment?

Especially since youve tried everything else.  
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Noah S:
How about trying prayer, ritual magick, loa/visualization/spiritual mind treatment?

Especially since youve tried everything else.  

Hi Noah, thanks for commenting. I have done and still do prayer. Sometimes it helps but often feels very tiresome, begging, goal-related, it can help things temporarily but never lasts, like everything else. It can take the edge off, or shift me from a really stuck viewpoint, or help in a certain situation, but doesn't seem to bring lasting insight or relief. Still, I don't dismiss it and its power.

I'm not into ritual or magick (so I don't think I'd be into the combination of the two). Since seeing certain insights, these things have no appeal. 

I tried visualization in the past, another trick with temporary results but not really changing anything. And also, my mind can get tight with this kind of thing and I need to go in the opposite direction.

I have no idea what LOA or spiritual mind treatment is? emoticon
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Noah S, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 1532 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Hi Noah, thanks for commenting. I have done and still do prayer. Sometimes it helps but often feels very tiresome, begging, goal-related, it can help things temporarily but never lasts, like everything else. It can take the edge off, or shift me from a really stuck viewpoint, or help in a certain situation, but doesn't seem to bring lasting insight or relief. Still, I don't dismiss it and its power.

I'm not into ritual or magick (so I don't think I'd be into the combination of the two). Since seeing certain insights, these things have no appeal. 

I tried visualization in the past, another trick with temporary results but not really changing anything. And also, my mind can get tight with this kind of thing and I need to go in the opposite direction.

I have no idea what LOA or spiritual mind treatment is? emoticon


Loa/spiritual mind treatment are just other forms of prayer and magick, with loa standing for law of attraction.  Okay, just checking.  I've found that visualization I do can stay dormant for a year or more before bearing fruit.  For instance in 2011/2012 I was wallowing in the depths of bipolar disorder but visualizing permanent healing and wholesomeness every day.  It wasn't until late 2013 that I discovered pragmatic dharma and started to apply its approach seriously.  Since then I have had a decent amount of that permanent healing I was asking for.

But if you've truly tried consistent visualization of what you want for weeks or months at a time, then its obviously not worth continuing.  If your prayer/visualization hasn't been that consistent, it might be worthwhile.  Also, its important that the prayer comes in the form of celebrating the receiving of what you want, and gratitude for that gift, rather than a request which highlights further, the lack that you feel.  So if your prayer hasn't taken this form it might be worth trying out.

Edit: 
Also with prayer its vitally important to completely forget it after you say it.  The more you look out for signs of progress through small adjustments to reality, the more you hinder it.  I'm just trying to think of specific technical changes that you may not have already applied, since it seems like you've done so much already.
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Noah S wrote::
Loa/spiritual mind treatment are just other forms of prayer and magick, with loa standing for law of attraction.  Okay, just checking.  I've found that visualization I do can stay dormant for a year or more before bearing fruit.  For instance in 2011/2012 I was wallowing in the depths of bipolar disorder but visualizing permanent healing and wholesomeness every day.  It wasn't until late 2013 that I discovered pragmatic dharma and started to apply its approach seriously.  Since then I have had a decent amount of that permanent healing I was asking for.


Cool that you have experienced some permanent healing! What do you mean by pragmatic dharma? (And btw yes I know about LOA and used to play with it, just didn't know the acronymn.)

But if you've truly tried consistent visualization of what you want for weeks or months at a time, then its obviously not worth continuing.  If your prayer/visualization hasn't been that consistent, it might be worthwhile.  Also, its important that the prayer comes in the form of celebrating the receiving of what you want, and gratitude for that gift, rather than a request which highlights further, the lack that you feel.  So if your prayer hasn't taken this form it might be worth trying out.

Edit: 
Also with prayer its vitally important to completely forget it after you say it.  The more you look out for signs of progress through small adjustments to reality, the more you hinder it.  I'm just trying to think of specific technical changes that you may not have already applied, since it seems like you've done so much already.

Thanks for your comments. I can see how adjustments could be made to help prayer be more effective. But to me that's not the same as the dharma. Do you see it as the same?
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Noah S, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 1532 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Cool that you have experienced some permanent healing! What do you mean by pragmatic dharma? (And btw yes I know about LOA and used to play with it, just didn't know the acronymn.)


I actually knew about the DhO and MCTB for a couple years before I started to understand it and use it (evidence of synchronicity for me).  Later I started working with Ron Crouch, which is when the tables turned.  When I say pragmatic dharma I mean the DhO, the Awake Network (KFD+DhR), Buddhist Geeks, The Hamilton Project, various independent blogs, teachers and ebooks, and the published books MCTB and Saints and Psychopaths.  Lots of other teachers, groups and lineages could be rightfully included in the term.  That is just my personal categorization.

Thanks for your comments. I can see how adjustments could be made to help prayer be more effective. But to me that's not the same as the dharma. Do you see it as the same?


My working definiton of dharma is "the way things work."  This obviously specifically applies to mind hacks, heart hacks, life hacks, etc. that have to do with improving one's own situation internally (primarily) and other situations (secondarily).  Law of attraction works with the mechanics of internal reality primarily, to reach a certain outcome.  The same could be said of various spiritual techniques and processes (including Buddhism broadly and Vipassana narrowly),  as well as the actualism method.

If you want inner peace, I call that a dharma problem with a dharma solution.  This solution might involve a combination of efforts including prayer/visualization and some type of meditation.  

p.s.- Above is my 'objective' opinion, not including my 'subjective' opinion, which is heavily considering the actualism method.



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Don Merchant, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 202 Join Date: 6/9/15 Recent Posts
Danielle,
Don't know if this is something that might interest you, but from what you said about no self I thought i'd at least share it.

http://liberationunleashed.com/ . They are guides who do all of their work for free. No hooks, no ads, no enticements :-)

I can relate to many things you listed as problems. PTSD. Physical pains, etc. I'm still going through many issues of my own. A balanced combo of practices are helping me - metta/forgiveness, insight, noting, walking meditation. Sometimes no practice for a day or two just to relax from even that 'duty'. However, I cannot get away from the 3 C's in every day life. My mind shows them to me all the time. No matter where I am or what I'm doing. emoticon
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Don Merchant:
Danielle,
Don't know if this is something that might interest you, but from what you said about no self I thought i'd at least share it.

http://liberationunleashed.com/ . They are guides who do all of their work for free. No hooks, no ads, no enticements :-)

I can relate to many things you listed as problems. PTSD. Physical pains, etc. I'm still going through many issues of my own. A balanced combo of practices are helping me - metta/forgiveness, insight, noting, walking meditation. Sometimes no practice for a day or two just to relax from even that 'duty'. However, I cannot get away from the 3 C's in every day life. My mind shows them to me all the time. No matter where I am or what I'm doing. emoticon
Thanks Don, been there, done that. ;) "Went through the Gate" with LU about 4 years ago. They are very kind & dedicated and it was cool. I'm supposedly "liberated" already – but there is way too much suffering and reaction here to entertain that idea. I've seen no self and had temporary relief from that. More than once. But it didn't last. I know there are different points of view but my definition or understanding of being liberated includes a drastic reduction in suffering. Otherwise, what's the point?

When you do your "balanced combo" of practices, do you just switch around when you feel like it, or do you have some kind of discipline about when you do what? I try something like this but these days I have the attention span of a flea so I usually don't get very far.
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Don Merchant, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 202 Join Date: 6/9/15 Recent Posts
Otherwise, what's the point? Exactly.

Lol, admittedly yes I do switch them around as I feel the need. I know when I have an issue or two needs attention. I work up to it by doing metta, purposely for a day or two, before I tackle the issue directly. I also spend time thinking about the issue, on and off, while I'm awake; trying to apply what I know from buddhist teachings, to this issue. Namely the 3 C's. Once I can look at the issue from these three angles, I then spend time in metta with the issue. Usually during this stint of metta is when I truly forgive. At this point I let this part drop off as I now have 'closure' with it. So far, so good. I've been able to forgive some people I never in my wildest dreams thought I would or could ever forgive. This is just my own homebrew method :-). Not at all saying it can or will help you. So there is my disclaimer :-)
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Don Merchant:
Otherwise, what's the point? Exactly.

Lol, admittedly yes I do switch them around as I feel the need. I know when I have an issue or two needs attention. I work up to it by doing metta, purposely for a day or two, before I tackle the issue directly. I also spend time thinking about the issue, on and off, while I'm awake; trying to apply what I know from buddhist teachings, to this issue. Namely the 3 C's. Once I can look at the issue from these three angles, I then spend time in metta with the issue. Usually during this stint of metta is when I truly forgive. At this point I let this part drop off as I now have 'closure' with it. So far, so good. I've been able to forgive some people I never in my wildest dreams thought I would or could ever forgive. This is just my own homebrew method :-). Not at all saying it can or will help you. So there is my disclaimer :-)
That's cool that you have the intuition & discipline to take that approach, such as metta for a day or two then addressing an issue directly. I agree that doing metta & forgiveness can make such a big difference with an issue and I have experienced that myself. I might try to incorporate more of this as it's still helpful just hard to stay focused on. ;) 
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tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
Howdy,
lots of people here can relate to your experiences and struggles methinks.  i can only speak from my own (similar) experiences.  letting go of expectations about what 'success' or 'progress'  should be like allows the subtle doors of reality to reveal themselves through good practice.

what is good practice...  well that depends on you, your past, your expectations and all of the components that make up you.  it sounds to me like you need to relax and try to focus on the positive while letting go of certain negative tendencies while trying to see them all as empty. this is different than supression of experience.

metta practices develop your generous , compassionate nature and generally have the effect of lightening us up.  practicing simply letting go of the obsessive negative though patterns may seem like avoidance but actually can retrain those tendencies to be leaned more positively. 

i used to worry about checking out varying practices.  this is often negatively commented upon by various traditions for self-serving reasons.  obviously, practicing the same thing exclusively and often will strengthen those particular facets of practice but it can also be the case that those are not the optimal practice for YOU.

i wish you luck, success and happiness.  do nice things for yourself.
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
tom moylan:
Howdy,
lots of people here can relate to your experiences and struggles methinks.  i can only speak from my own (similar) experiences.  letting go of expectations about what 'success' or 'progress'  should be like allows the subtle doors of reality to reveal themselves through good practice.


Thanks Tom. The words "letting go of expectations" sound great and I agree with the importance of that - my problem is translating it into realty (actually letting go of expecations). Practically speaking, I can't do it yet.
what is good practice...  well that depends on you, your past, your expectations and all of the components that make up you.  it sounds to me like you need to relax and try to focus on the positive while letting go of certain negative tendencies while trying to see them all as empty. this is different than supression of experience. 

Yeah I agree that in theory this is what I need. In practice I put a lot of time into attempting relaxation and it barely makes a dent in the tension. Maybe I need to really spend a lot more of my day in practice (right now it's just in the morning mostly) -- maybe I'm being asked to just put more time in.

Regarding focusing on the positive and letting go of the negative, I ran into a big problem with the metta approach which worked so well for a while, when my teacher kept telling me to smile and be happy and let go of the negative... The negative was coming up SO STRONGLY it was overwhelming, I was really unable to follow his instructions and ended up spending a few years in intensive therapy. Maybe it was the time to look at some deep emotional wounds/baggage and that type of stuff, but I wish I could've kept with the metta. It was great w
metta practices develop your generous , compassionate nature and generally have the effect of lightening us up.  practicing simply letting go of the obsessive negative though patterns may seem like avoidance but actually can retrain those tendencies to be leaned more positively.  

Yeah, see above. (Sounds awesome but got stuck with it.)
i wish you luck, success and happiness.  do nice things for yourself.

Thanks, I appreciate it.
Derek Cameron, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Danielle Loesch:

But I still somehow appreciate feedback...On the off chance.... emoticon


I would guess that "stuck and helpless" is a birth script. Does "stuck and helpless" come up in other areas of your life? Has it come up in therapy?
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Derek Cameron:
Danielle Loesch:

But I still somehow appreciate feedback...On the off chance.... emoticon


I would guess that "stuck and helpless" is a birth script. Does "stuck and helpless" come up in other areas of your life? Has it come up in therapy?

Yeah, sure, it has come up in other places and in therapy. Interesting thought about the birth script, makes sense.
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Ian And, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Danielle Loesch:
Hi,

The glimpses [of "enlightening experiences" or temporary "seeing of no self"] were enough to break me from thinking I could be happy with any other type of life comforts or successes, so now I've been stuck between worlds for a long time.

I used to do good at "instructions" and working with teachers (
I considered becoming a nun at one point), but too many temporary highs followed by dead-end experiences (and also dysfunctional student-teacher relationships), and now it seems no technique or teacher can really give any useful help or at least I can't "get it". Still meditate but can't concentrate.

Too much body pain most of the time
and suppressed emotion which when it finally comes out is overwhelming... did a lot of therapy and trauma therapy (found out I had a lot of dissociation from suppressed traumas, and PTSD), but it got to a point where I'm so tired of processing in that setting (one-on-one intensive connection) because I have to stay too connected to the therapist and ultimately I feel like I want the Dhamma to healand nothing else can even come close.

Once I've glimpsed a slice of dependent origination, nothing else can compare, it would seem. (Plus I'm tired of shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars just to see if some person's "method" can take the edge off. But, however I practice needs to take some hardcore emotional processing into account and be very careful to avoid emotional suppression–I'm aware that there's some pretty heavy old suppressed stuff to wade through.)

...but nothing ever changes deep enough
so I come back to meditation and the straight dhamma but find myself a total flop.

I am too skeptical of most teachers and usually soon decide they can't help me. So although I have some helpful and caring people in my life, I guess I'm doubtful anyone can really help me.

I'm supposedly "liberated" already –
but there is way too much suffering and reaction here to entertain that idea. I've seen no self and had temporary relief from that. More than once. But it didn't last. I know there are different points of view but my definition or understanding of being liberated includes a drastic reduction in suffering. Otherwise, what's the point?

I try something like this
but these days I have the attention span of a flea so I usually don't get very far.

Hello Danielle,

So basically you're telling us that you are all meditated out, concentrated out (can't keep your mind on a glass of water long enough to save your life), metta'd out, prayered out, therapied out, and are really just down-in-the-dumps frustrated with this whole shebang everyone calls life and are just about ready to chuck it all in and ...

But there's a little part of you which still thinks that it just missed the boat that just sailed out of the harbor, and that if you can just put that one little piece of the puzzle together, things might begin to turn out differently. Does that about sum it up, or am I missing something? In other words, you have hit rock bottom, and there's nowhere to go but UP from here!

The only questions are: Where is HERE? And where is UP? And how do I get THERE from HERE? And then there's that little phrase "Be here now" that keeps creeping in. "Where does that fit in anyhow, and what does that mean, anyway? I haven't the foggiest!"

You are right about one thing that you say: no teacher ever can help you. All they can do is stay by your side to assist you in guiding yourself down the pathway that you have chosen to walk while providing you hints at what you are doing wrong. The only one who can help you is YOU!

Once you accept that premise and responsibility, things will begin to change in your life and in your practice. Stop looking for distractions outside yourself, and start looking for answers within.

I don't think there is a person on this forum who hasn't experience what you are going through and felt the same way about it, myself included.

All you need to do is get back to basics (in the Dhamma), and don't let yourself get away with giving it a half-hearted effort this time. Either you are all-in-to-win, or you are all-in-to-lose. Either DO what must be done, or don't make the effort at all. That is the crossroads decision you will have to take.

When all else fails, it is usually the basics that are missing because the Dhamma is perfect just as it is. The only problem is: most people who do not GET IT can't see what it is they're not getting! Even though it is right in front of their faces. You think you understand the instruction; but do you really?

And the instruction is so simple and unassuming that it mostly goes right over most people's heads because they are looking for something that ISN'T there. Which only demonstrates that they never really understood the instructions in the first place. Maybe it was only a matter of a mixup in translation, or the teacher had a misunderstanding and was teaching Adhamma. [A= "without" or "not," as in an-atta or "without self"] Whatever the problem, the solution is quite simple.

Who is the ultimate Teacher? Go back, read his words and instruction, find out what he means and intends you to understand about what he is saying, and put yourself through his training. You don't need another (contemporary) teacher other than THE ORIGINAL TEACHER!

If you do that, you will be amazed at what all the other so-called teachers missed or thought was so unimportant that it barely deserved mention! It will be a revelation exploding in your mind.

And then you will see and begin to understand that everything was really "oh so simple." But I really never did believe that he meant it that way when I first read it. You mean I have to know this when it is happening, and I have to know that when it is happening! What a revelation! It never dawned on me that that's what he meant.

For example: "And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating the body as a body? Here a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in long, he understands: 'I breathe in long'; or breathing out long, he understands: 'I breath out long.'"

If you want to practice dhyana meditation in order to help you increase your level of concentration (because that is exactly what will happen if you practice it correctly) then you must first establish mindfulness before you begin any session of meditation. And do not move on into the meditation until after you have established mindfulness (sati) first, and be hard on yourself and don't allow yourself to get away with anything less.

What is meant by the term mindfulness within the context of this instruction? An accute awareness of your inner and outer surroundings, as though you are in the middle of a great thick forest and are mindfully aware of any dangerous animals which might want to be making you their next meal. If you can picture that and how you would react in that situation, then recognize the hightening of your mental state of awareness and endeavor to achieve that state of alert awareness every time before you enter meditation. I'm telling you, if you do this, you will notice a distinct difference in the quality of your meditations which will enhance your ability to begin entering at will dhyana states of contemplation.

Work first on bringing up your level of concentration. With concentration, everything else is possible. Once that is at a high enough peak, it sets up the condition for illuminating insight to occur (if you are bright, inquiring, and enterprising enough to look for it; in many cases it'll find you, you won't have to look far).

So, as I say, make a commitment with yourself to get back to basics and to find out what the Teacher originally taught and start putting yourself through your own training program based upon your reading of what the Teacher taught. When all else fails, go back to the horse's mouth and begin again starting at square one. Don't assume you understand anything. Take it slow and easy. And with the right guidance, everything else (emotional processing/suppression) will begin to work itself out of the body of its own accord as the insights into the cause of these events begin to pile up.

In peace,
Ian
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
(This is just me not being able to figure out the formatting stuff.)

Ian And 
Hello Danielle,

So basically you're telling us that you are all meditated out, concentrated out (can't keep your mind on a glass of water long enough to save your life), metta'd out, prayered out, therapied out, and are really just down-in-the-dumps frustrated with this whole shebang everyone calls life and are just about ready to chuck it all in and ...

But there's a little part of you which still thinks that it just missed the boat that just sailed out of the harbor, and that if you can just put that one little piece of the puzzle together, things might begin to turn out differently. Does that about sum it up, or am I missing something? In other words, you have hit rock bottom, and there's nowhere to go but UP from here!

Hi Ian, thanks for all your comments. Good way to put it. Though, I would differentiate flavors of "rock bottom," since I've been much worse off in my life before in other ways, but if you mean rock bottom in terms of feeling like a total and utter failure at meditation or equanimity or stream entry...then, yeah!! emoticon

The only questions are: Where is HERE? And where is UP? And how do I get THERE from HERE? And then there's that little phrase "Be here now" that keeps creeping in. "Where does that fit in anyhow, and what does that mean, anyway? I haven't the foggiest!" 

Yeah lol, especially once I've experienced there being no center point and all that, then to come back to trying to focus on a location or a direction, urgh$%^&#@. Yeah, pretty much clueless how to operate other than just work on surrender somehow.

You are right about one thing that you say: no teacher ever can help you. All they can do is stay by your side to assist you in guiding yourself down the pathway that you have chosen to walk while providing you hints at what you are doing wrong. The only one who can help you is YOU! 

See, I'm not even sure they can do that much. Because how can they guide me down a path I've chosen to walk if it's not their path? They are not seeing it from the inside and so anything they deem "wrong" might be a judgment on their part or come from limited perspective. It gets complicated (seemingly)...

Once you accept that premise and responsibility, things will begin to change in your life and in your practice. Stop looking for distractions outside yourself, and start looking for answers within. 

And there's an interesting journey, to determine what is an unnecessary distraction outside myself and what is necessary. I've simplified my life in a lot of ways but in some ways, not so much...looking ouside myself for help is definitely a strong habit.

All you need to do is get back to basics (in the Dhamma), and don't let yourself get away with giving it a half-hearted effort this time. Either you are all-in-to-win, or you are all-in-to-lose. Either DO what must be done, or don't make the effort at all. That is the crossroads decision you will have to take. 

What exactly does this mean to you? Because if by not half-hearted you mean using strong discipline, will-power, effort, obsession, etc. then I tried that. Right now I'm trying to find the tranquilizing part of the whole formula, the letting go, not knowing. So how does that fit in with being all-in? How does "doing what must be done" fit into my situation if "trying" isn't what's working? Thanks. I guess, where is "right effort" when all effort seems somehow problematic....?

When all else fails, it is usually the basics that are missing because the Dhamma is perfect just as it is. The only problem is: most people who do not GET IT can't see what it is they're not getting! Even though it is right in front of their faces. You think you understand the instruction; but do you really? 

And the instruction is so simple and unassuming that it mostly goes right over most people's heads because they are looking for something that ISN'T there. Which only demonstrates that they never really understood the instructions in the first place. Maybe it was only a matter of a mixup in translation, or the teacher had a misunderstanding and was teaching Adhamma. [A= "without" or "not," as in an-atta or "without self"] Whatever the problem, the solution is quite simple. 

Who is the ultimate Teacher? Go back, read his words and instruction, find out what he means and intends you to understand about what he is saying, and put yourself through his training. You don't need another (contemporary) teacher other than THE ORIGINAL TEACHER! 

If you do that, you will be amazed at what all the other so-called teachers missed or thought was so unimportant that it barely deserved mention! It will be a revelation exploding in your mind. 

And then you will see and begin to understand that everything was really "oh so simple." But I really never did believe that he meant it that way when I first read it. You mean I have to know this when it is happening, and I have to know that when it is happening! What a revelation! It never dawned on me that that's what he meant. 

Thanks. I've heard of this approach (no teacher except going back to the original words...or at least as close as they can be to the original words given the time delay...). Maybe it's time I do more of that. What do you think is a good one to start with?

For example: "And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating the body as a body? Here a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in long, he understands: 'I breathe in long'; or breathing out long, he understands: 'I breath out long.'" 

If you want to practice dhyana meditation in order to help you increase your level of concentration (because that is exactly what will happen if you practice it correctly) then you must first establish mindfulness before you begin any session of meditation. And do not move on into the meditation until after you have established mindfulness (sati) first, and be hard on yourself and don't allow yourself to get away with anything less. 

What is meant by the term mindfulness within the context of this instruction? An accute awareness of your inner and outer surroundings, as though you are in the middle of a great thick forest and are mindfully aware of any dangerous animals which might want to be making you their next meal. If you can picture that and how you would react in that situation, then recognize the hightening of your mental state of awareness and endeavor to achieve that state of alert awareness every time before you enter meditation. I'm telling you, if you do this, you will notice a distinct difference in the quality of your meditations which will enhance your ability to begin entering at will dhyanastates of contemplation. 

Well, I would question this suggestion in my case, since being PTSD and hypervigilant, I'm usually overly hyper aware anyways. As if my life is in danger being in the middle of the jungle. I can't imagine how cultivating any more of that state before I meditate would help?? I think I'm alert and aware of TOO MUCH when I sit down to meditate...and it's hard to let go of "impending danger" and quiet that down in order to sink into a deeper awareness of how the mind is operating, if that makes sense. 

So, as I say, make a commitment with yourself to get back to basics and to find out what the Teacher originally taught and start putting yourself through your own training program based upon your reading of what the Teacher taught. When all else fails, go back to the horse's mouth and begin again starting at square one. Don't assume you understand anything. Take it slow and easy. And with the right guidance, everything else (emotional processing/suppression) will begin to work itself out of the body of its own accord as the insights into the cause of these events begin to pile up. 

Slow & easy, back to square one, not assume I understand anything. Sounds good! And I would truly love to experience the fruits of your last sentence there. 












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Don Merchant, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 202 Join Date: 6/9/15 Recent Posts

"Well, I would question this suggestion in my case, since being PTSD and hypervigilant, I'm usually overly hyper aware anyways. As if my life is in danger being in the middle of the jungle. I can't imagine how cultivating any more of that state before I meditate would help?? I think I'm alert and aware of TOO MUCH when I sit down to meditate...and it's hard to let go of "impending danger" and quiet that down in order to sink into a deeper awareness of how the mind is operating, if that makes sense."

I can really, really, relate. I can't give you any steps to follow, any plan,...anything except my own troubleshooting for my meditation, etc. Its not worth anything but your time, in which to read it :-) Or not.

Besides my 1st post, I'll add that sometimes when I am so fidgety I can't meditate, I simply sit and listen. I listen to every noise I can hear. I try to remind myself that I'm sitting in my room, on my bed, eyes closed, but not in any danger. Even when loud noises nearly make me jump out of my skin, I throttle my impulses of
fight or flight, reminding myself I'm not in danger, relax by deep breathing, then return to listening. Many times after going through this cycle a few times, I am able to relax enough to actually meditate. Reminding myself that I am not in danger from just noises can help too.

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Ian And, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Small steps.
Danielle Loesch:
...but if you mean rock bottom in terms of feeling like a total and utter failure at meditation or equanimity or stream entry...then, yeah!!

Aahh. Okay. Yes, that is what I meant. It is as good a place to start as any. Doesn't that have the feel, so to speak, of being back at square one. But then, you have the advantage of having already been all around the board, so you are familiar with the ground and the lay of the land. Are you up for an experiment? So would you be up to, in gratitude to T.S. Eliot, exploration with "the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time." Because that is, in a poetic sense, what the Dhamma is all about (in a manner of speaking). It is a discovery of your true identity, of ground you've been over time and time again without always noticing the nuances and which has been shaped by the twists and turns on which the river of your life's journey has taken you.

These twists and turns have created the identity that currently inhabits your thought. Everything (every event and experience) you view is filtered through this pre-conceived thought pattern in your mind. What Gotama is suggesting at various moments, as with the famous Bahiya Sutta in The Udana, is looking at the world around you with fresh eyes as though you are a newborn child and seeing only what is before them without adding or taking anything away. Just seeing things just as they are in all their beauty or ugliness, but also in their simplicity, without any preconceived notions attaching to them!

"Herein, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized.' In this way you should train yourself, Bahiya."

When one finally realizes how this is done, and it occurs one day, it is as though one has been hit by a lightening bolt! The realization is so strong that one is prompted to say, "Oh, that's what he means. I see. I no longer view this person over here as my father, the one who hit me and beat me. The one who ingrained so many psychological stimulations in me, which color the way I react to him when I see him. I see him as just a lonely man, empty and sad and perhaps hurt himself. Maybe that's why he lashed out at so many others. He was a victim, like me, who he was unconsciously shaping into himself because he knew no better."

I mean, this is just an example of a revelation that might occur from being able to follow that instruction. It might provide some insight into a problem that has been holding the mind as hostage. Once that revelation occurs, it can blow off the energy that held that psychological stimulation in place. Freeing the mind to be open to new and better and more pleasing experiences (like deep states of meditation, or dhyana).

In other words, use your moments of contemplation (when you are not able to enter into any sublimely deep states) for exploring your psyche. You might want to focus on a difficulty you are having in life to see if it can be resolved. Use the time you spend in meditation / contemplation toward achieving some insight or other when the mind is not inclined to settle down and become quiet. You have to learn to be flexible in this.

Danielle Loesch:
Yeah lol, especially once I've experienced there being no center point and all that, then to come back to trying to focus on a location or a direction, urgh$%^&#@. Yeah, pretty much clueless how to operate other than just work on surrender somehow.

Did it ever occur to you to be mindful of your thought itself. To watch the reaction patterns as they arise and fall. Yes, I know, it can be a difficult thing to do in the heat of the battle (i.e. when you are reacting emotionally to some present moment stimulation). But then that is what mindfulness practice is all about. And yes, it does involve levels of concentration. But it also involves an ability to see with insight these mechanisms at play within your own mind. When you can see them begin and play out, that insight helps you discover the points of attachment which can be let go of.

This practice that I just described could be termed satipatthana. Satipatthana is merely the establishment of the mind on either the body, feeling, mind states (such as anger or sadness) or various phenomena (dhammas, both physical and mental). Pick up Analayo's book Satipatthana, The Direct Path to Realization. I don't have a link at hand, but if you put that into a search engine, you should be able to find a free PDF that can be downloaded. He provides many interesting insights about the practice of satipatthana that could be jumping off points for a contemplation session, whether it is in formal meditation or not. You might be surprised and delighted with what you find in that book. I certainly know I was. As the old television commercial states: "Try it. You'll like it." That is, if you haven't already.

That's enough for tonight. Small steps.

In peace,
Ian
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Ian And:
Small steps.
Danielle Loesch:
...but if you mean rock bottom in terms of feeling like a total and utter failure at meditation or equanimity or stream entry...then, yeah!!

Aahh. Okay. Yes, that is what I meant. It is as good a place to start as any. Doesn't that have the feel, so to speak, of being back at square one. But then, you have the advantage of having already been all around the board, so you are familiar with the ground and the lay of the land. Are you up for an experiment? So would you be up to, in gratitude to T.S. Eliot, exploration with "the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time." Because that is, in a poetic sense, what the Dhamma is all about (in a manner of speaking). It is a discovery of your true identity, of ground you've been over time and time again without always noticing the nuances and which has been shaped by the twists and turns on which the river of your life's journey has taken you.
Hi Ian, thanks for this response which you wrote a while back. I like that quote by T.S. Eliot. Beginner's Mind you mean? emoticon
These twists and turns have created the identity that currently inhabits your thought. Everything (every event and experience) you view is filtered through this pre-conceived thought pattern in your mind. What Gotama is suggesting at various moments, as with the famous Bahiya Sutta in The Udana, is looking at the world around you with fresh eyes as though you are a newborn child and seeing only what is before them without adding or taking anything away. Just seeing things just as they are in all their beauty or ugliness, but also in their simplicity, without any preconceived notions attaching to them! 
Nice idea. ;) Of course I've been there before. lol, just kidding. I would love to have this perspective.
"Herein, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized.' In this way you should train yourself, Bahiya." 

When one finally realizes how this is done, and it occurs one day, it is as though one has been hit by a lightening bolt! The realization is so strong that one is prompted to say, "Oh, that's what he means. I see. I no longer view this person over here as my father, the one who hit me and beat me. The one who ingrained so many psychological stimulations in me, which color the way I react to him when I see him. I see him as just a lonely man, empty and sad and perhaps hurt himself. Maybe that's why he lashed out at so many others. He was a victim, like me, who he was unconsciously shaping into himself because he knew no better." 

I mean, this is just an example of a revelation that might occur from being able to follow that instruction. It might provide some insight into a problem that has been holding the mind as hostage. Once that revelation occurs, it can blow off the energy that held that psychological stimulation in place. Freeing the mind to be open to new and better and more pleasing experiences (like deep states of meditation, or dhyana). 
Yeah, I've been noticing recently how the thought pattern programs running in the mind are pretty entrenched and not necessarily reflecting anything in reality, so to speak. Like it is really programmed to keep creating suffering over and over again, strange. It sounds cliche but when thoughts can be let go of then the problem really does kind of disappear, the stress goes way down.
In other words, use your moments of contemplation (when you are not able to enter into any sublimely deep states) for exploring your psyche. You might want to focus on a difficulty you are having in life to see if it can be resolved. Use the time you spend in meditation / contemplation toward achieving some insight or other when the mind is not inclined to settle down and become quiet. You have to learn to be flexible in this.
Not sure what you mean. So when I'm meditating but the mind won't settle down, I can do some inquiry or something?
Did it ever occur to you to be mindful of your thought itself. To watch the reaction patterns as they arise and fall. Yes, I know, it can be a difficult thing to do in the heat of the battle (i.e. when you are reacting emotionally to some present moment stimulation). But then that is what mindfulness practice is all about. And yes, it does involve levels of concentration. But it also involves an ability to see with insight these mechanisms at play within your own mind. When you can see them begin and play out, that insight helps you discover the points of attachment which can be let go of. 
Yes it has occurred to me to be mindful of thought itself, thanks to being taught and practicing that before, and when the mind has calmed down it got way easier to see that. But lately the mind is so often so tight and fast, that any attempt at concentration or control feels like ... it feels like there's this pressure in my head/skull and any effort just makes it worse. But if I can get myself to sit for long enough and just be or feel and notice all my attempts to try and concentrate or fix everything, the eventually the mind might slow down enough for me to start catching observations of the thought itself, more clearly. That's when it starts getting interesting. emoticon
This practice that I just described could be termed satipatthanaSatipatthana is merely the establishment of the mind on either the body, feeling, mind states (such as anger or sadness) or various phenomena (dhammas, both physical and mental). Pick up Analayo's book Satipatthana, The Direct Path to Realization. I don't have a link at hand, but if you put that into a search engine, you should be able to find a free PDF that can be downloaded. He provides many interesting insights about the practice of satipatthana that could be jumping off points for a contemplation session, whether it is in formal meditation or not. You might be surprised and delighted with what you find in that book. I certainly know I was. As the old television commercial states: "Try it. You'll like it." That is, if you haven't already. 
Thanks, I will look up that book.
That's enough for tonight. Small steps. 

In peace, 
Ian
Thanks, much appreciated!
Danielle
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Ian And, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Danielle Loesch:
Ian And:
Are you up for an experiment? So would you be up to, in gratitude to T.S. Eliot, exploration with "the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time." Because that is, in a poetic sense, what the Dhamma is all about (in a manner of speaking). It is a discovery of your true identity, of ground you've been over time and time again without always noticing the nuances and which has been shaped by the twists and turns on which the river of your life's journey has taken you.

Hi Ian, thanks for this response which you wrote a while back. I like that quote by T.S. Eliot. Beginner's Mind you mean?

Well, not exactly. Although it depends on what one means by "beginner's mind" I suppose. I should have given you more context for the quotation as well as the full quotation so that you could roll it around in your mind and perhaps figure out some connection points. I did, however, endeavor to provide a hint by the two sentences following the quote. (I.e. "Because that is... what the Dhamma is all about...it is a discovery of your true identity, of ground you've been over time and time again without noticing the nuances...") It might have been a little beyond your reach.

The original quotation is from a book of four poem that Eliot wrote between the years 1935 and 1942 which was finally published under the title of Four Quartets. It consisted of the four poems Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages, and Little Gidding. It came out at the culmination of his career as a poet, and is regarded by many as a redemptive artistic effort in relation to his earlier widely acclaimed poem The Waste Land which seemed to take a negative view of the world. The quotation begins the last stanza in the fifth section of the poem Little Giddings, the last of the four poems:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Eliot conceived the fifth section of each poem to be (according to reviewer C.K. Stead) emblematic of "the problems of attaining artistic wholeness which becomes analogue for, and merge into, the problems of achieving spiritual health." Spiritual health in the sense of the ability to adjust one's view of past reality enough to see that "the way upward and the way downward is one and the same." Satisfaction in life (as in the affective world of our individual emotions) consists of letting go of those things or events that have hurt us only to see their integration into the whole of the journey which has brought us to the place we presently inhabit, and to see this place with a renewed appreciation of its meaning. To see it as it actually is, for the first time, rather than by our first impression based upon an initial affective "feeling" (vedana).


Danielle Loesch:
Yeah, I've been noticing recently how the thought pattern programs running in the mind are pretty entrenched and not necessarily reflecting anything in reality, so to speak. Like it is really programmed to keep creating suffering over and over again, strange. It sounds cliche but when thoughts can be let go of then the problem really does kind of disappear, the stress goes way down.

I think you are onto something there. Does it remind you of anything Gotama may have taught? Sounds like something you might wish to explore a little more in depth during your contemplations. In conjunction with a deeper comprehension of selflessness, don't you think.

Danielle Loesch:
Ian And:
In other words, use your moments of contemplation (when you are not able to enter into any sublimely deep states) for exploring your psyche. You might want to focus on a difficulty you are having in life to see if it can be resolved. Use the time you spend in meditation / contemplation toward achieving some insight or other when the mind is not inclined to settle down and become quiet. You have to learn to be flexible in this.

Not sure what you mean. So when I'm meditating but the mind won't settle down, I can do some inquiry or something?

If something is bothering you, some event or happening in your life which the mind is fascinated with, doesn't it make sense to examine it in order to see it clearly and relieve it of its charge of energy (i.e. the charge that is holding it in place within the mind causing the mind to become "attached" to it)?

What I'm saying, if the mind won't settle down because of worldly concerns, why not make those concerns the object of your contemplation. Everything connected to one's dissatisfaction is grist for the mill, and needs to be ground down into nothingness (that is, irrelevancy, as something with which one should not become identified or attached). That is what insight meditation is all about. Don't you think that would go a long way toward relieving any unbridled stress.

Danielle Loesch:
Ian And:
Did it ever occur to you to be mindful of your thought itself....

Yes it has occurred to me to be mindful of thought itself, thanks to being taught and practicing that before, and when the mind has calmed down it got way easier to see that. But lately the mind is so often so tight and fast, that any attempt at concentration or control feels like ... it feels like there's this pressure in my head/skull and any effort just makes it worse.

Then in those moments, focus upon a pleasant sensation during your meditation and make the attempt to become absorbed in that sensation. In the same way that you might become absorbed in reading a really interesting book. One can tend to lose all sense of time during such moments, and become lost in the pleasantness (satisfaction) of the moment. Use these times to deepen your practice of samatha (calm and tranquility) in reconditioning the mind. Samatha helps to strengthen one's ability at overall concentration. Use whatever comes up to redirect it into a wholesome activity. This means you have to pay attention and be willing to change direction in the blink of an eye, depending upon what is happening. You are the one directing your experience. Get used to that! And use it to your advantage.

Danielle Loesch:
But if I can get myself to sit for long enough and just be or feel and notice all my attempts to try and concentrate or fix everything, then eventually the mind might slow down enough for me to start catching observations of the thought itself, more clearly. That's when it starts getting interesting.

"Just be or feel and notice..." there, you've said it all! Focus on doing just that, and you will eventually get to that place where things "start getting interesting." Remember, you are the one directing your experience of each and every moment!

In peace,
Ian
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Vuthy Ou, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 24 Join Date: 3/8/15 Recent Posts
Hi Danielle,

I'm sorry that you're having such a tough time and I'm going to line out some suggestions that I think may be helpful. Please keep in mind that all of this is from my point of view and may be just as valid/invalid as anyone else's. What I can say with confidence is that my life, since I have been operating this way - has been the most fulfilling since I can remember. This stuff is fits squarely on the Morality side and thus works to change the content of your experience and how you do specific things. I'll leave Insight advice to stronger, more experienced practitioners.

I am not trying to admonish, point fingers, accuse, or invalidate any of your experience. This stuff is coming from the warmest place in my heart based on what works for me. Okay, on with it.

You're doing a few things that are causing you pain:
  • Making up stories and believing them.
  • Holding very strong views about how life "should" be.
  • Asking for shit.

Making up stories

Stuff happens to us. We experience one small piece of the event, through our own particular conceptual filters/personality/experience, etc. We take that small piece and start building a conceptual framework, a system, a story, out of it. We come up with reasons why X did something, why X is "always" doing that, how X will always be "that way". "X" can be anything or anybody - could be a family member, a friend, you, a group of people, an institution, whatever. Humans like their stories and their patterns, so confirmation bias comes into play - we start gathering evidence to support our story and discount evidence that goes against it. Before you know it - we have a rock soild idea of how "X" works, what motivations "X" has, what "X" is capable of, how "X" feels about things, how and what "X" is. And we believe it to be the truth. 

"I am always doing such and such..." "I've decided that such and such..." "Teachers are always going to such and such..." "The Dhamma is such and such..." All stories based on limited evidence compounded by confirmation bias. Am I saying throw all experience and thinking and evaluation out the door and take every new event as a child would? No. Some of those stories are extremely useful - they reduce mistakes and help keep us safe - but they are NOT the truth. When we realize that - all of a sudden, once hidden opportunities show themselves. People and things (including yourself) are capable of much much more (good and bad) than what our stories about them lead us to believe. 

Question your beliefs and views. You may have a ton of evidence to back that shit up. But it was gathered by a biased and flawed investigator. See how the stories may have been imprisoning you - coloring how you interact with the world, closing off some doors, while pushing you into others. My god does it make a difference when I saw that no matter how much I believed a particular story - it wasn't the truth. The tendency to judge people (including myself) or put people on a pedastal weakened significantly. I loved more. Possibility and opportunity presented itself everywhere.

Life "Should" Be a Certain Way

"This is good." "That is bad." "He's right." "I"m wrong." "You shouldn't do that." "North Korea shouldn't be doing this." "Catholicism was wrong for that." To me, all there is pleasant or unpleasant (or neutral, but whatever). Certain things have pleasant results. Other things have unpleasant results. That's it. There is no good/bad, right/wrong. Once I solidify something into a good/bad, right/wrong - I get expectations, I get craving, I get righteous, I get entitled, and I get guilty.

"I should be having this experience." "I'm entitled to feel good about this." "I shouldn't be so distracted." "Those people are wrong - they deserve to be punished." "These people are better than me, I should be ashamed." See the suffering in this? People get really hard on themselves and their experience from judging it to be good/bad, right/wrong. How much suffering has come up because someone decided life "should" be "good" and "right"? On the large scale - people have started wars, committed genocide over this shit.

Life shouldn't be any way. There are pleasant things and unpleasant things. You can try to cultivate the pleasant and it will likely make life more pleasant BUT once you solidfy into good/bad/right/wrong/should/shouldn't some unpleasant stuff follows soon enough. Am I saying "do nothing about anything"? No, not at all - being pro-active results in many pleasant things. But, man, is it a relief to know see that you're just trying to cultivate pleasure for yourself and all beings without the righteousness. What a relief to see that your practice is simply unpleasant at the moment and not "wrong" or "bad". What a relief to see your life is simply what it is at the moment. How easy is it to love, forgive, and be compassionate to yourself and others without ideas about the way things should or should not be!

Asking for Shit

"I wish I wasn't so sad." "If only my practice was better." "If only my wife understood what I am feeling." "I feel so alone." "Life was so much better before." "I wish I could start over." See that? That's me. See me asking for shit? Even more insidiously, I saw that behind many interactions I was asking - "Please like me." "Please love me." "Please think I'm special." "Please think I'm wise." "Please think I'm talented." That asking colored everything in life and it sucked. I was always in the position of "not having enough" and "wanting more". Instead, I noticed that the happiest moments in my life involved no asking. I was just loving somebody - they didn't have to love me back. I was just giving - they didn't have to give back. When I started asking to be loved back - miserable. When I felt I "deserved" better treatment because I was so giving to this person in the past - miserable. See the pattern? Asking is tightly correllated with misery. Giving is tightly correlated with happiness. Stopped asking - for anything - happiness, skill, respect, love, admiration, compassion, understanding, peace. Started giving - happiness, skill, respect, love, admiration, compassion, understanding, peace. This was huge for me.

What are you asking for - overtly and subtly? Can you give it - right now - instead?

---------------------
My god that's a long post. I am not perfect. I still buy into my stories often. I still feel like things are right/wrong, good/bad often - especially when it comes to causing pain to sentient beings. There is still an element of asking present in all that I do. However, life is much more pleasant for me and those around me when I see the stories as stories, when I drop the righteousness, the entitlement, and expectation, when I give more than I ask.

Absolute best wishes Danielle,
C P M, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 219 Join Date: 5/23/13 Recent Posts
Hi Vuthy

I like your analysis of "Making up stories".  I've been noticing this dynamic in myself for a while now.  My wife and I now have a short form for the dynamic when we refer to it, we call it "making shit up".
The stories do seem very real while they are happening, and it's really hard to see that it is not the case. So the pattern for me is: get sucked into a story, see after a good period of suffering that it is only a story, drop it, feel relief, and be amazed that I was sucked in.
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Vuthy Ou, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 24 Join Date: 3/8/15 Recent Posts
Upvoting Gordo's post.
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Psi, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Danielle Loesch:
Hi,
 Hi! emoticon

Psi
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Gordo . .:
Make the happiness of others your priority.

Thanks Gordo. Not sure how to do this without ignoring my own needs though... I've focused a lot on others' happiness too much at the expense of my own. I think this principle can be taken and used really dysfunctionally. So, no idea about this one! How do you see it?
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Noah S, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 1532 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Hey Danielle, another thought came to mind when reading through everyone's responses.  Its kind of a long shot.  Once again, I am only suggesting this since it seems you have-been-there-tried-that with so many things.  

You could try the actualism method.  Foregoing all preconceptions, this would basically mean trying to stop making plans and strategies to be happy in the future and instead over-prioritize happiness NOW.  When one deeply shifts their priorities around, many of the sophisticated Buddhistic patterns of happiness-making fall away and out of importance.  This is because the eightfold path is designed to cover all possible bases and situations and it is also completely designed out of an understanding of temporo-linear karma/cause-and-effect (we shape our future by changing now)!

Actualism, on the other hand, is based on the idea that there no 'ultimate' you; 'you' are ultimately, your emotions, in that moment.  This being the case, it becomes easier to control emotions by laying claim to them and reprioritizing when it is right to find happiness (now): all resulting in enjoying and appreciating this moment of being alive.

The other half of the method would be checking in when you stop having fun.  Identify the negative emotion, and the negative thought behind it, and simply become aware of them in a continuous manner, neither repressing nor expressing them.  Be wary of moralizing messages such as 'this emotion is bad', 'I MUST be aware', etc.  It wont work right away, but eventually this awareness will start to dissolve the negativities permanently as you become more committed to what works for being happy (sensibility) and less committed to what you have learned from society and our animal-genetics about how to be happy (silliness).

Many parts of the Actualism method are individually contained in pre-existing systems.  What makes it unique is that it combines all these things into one.  It is highly likely that you have not been-here-and-done-this.  

Just more options for ya...
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Psi, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
Danielle Loesch:
Hi,

I've had some "enlightening experiences" or temporary "seeing no self" over the years, some glimpses, but no lasting relief. The glimpses were enough to break me from thinking I could be happy with any other type of life comforts or successes, so now I've been stuck between worlds for a long time.

I used to do good at "instructions" and working with teachers (I considered becoming a nun at one point), but too many temporary highs followed by dead-end experiences (and also dysfunctional student-teacher relationships), and now it seems no technique or teacher can really give any useful help or at least I can't "get it". Still meditate but can't concentrate. Cannot stick with an object anymore in any kind of relaxed way. I rotate between choiceless awareness, breath awareness & metta/forgiveness but feel like I'm not getting anywhere. Too much body pain most of the time and suppressed emotion which when it finally comes out is overwhelming... did a lot of therapy and trauma therapy (found out I had a lot of dissociation from suppressed traumas, and PTSD), but it got to a point where I'm so tired of processing in that setting (one-on-one intensive connection) because I have to stay too connected to the therapist and ultimately I feel like I want the Dhamma to heal and nothing else can even come close. Once I've glimpsed a slice of dependent origination, nothing else can compare, it would seem. (Plus I'm tired of shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars just to see if some person's "method" can take the edge off. But, however I practice needs to take some hardcore emotional processing into account and be very careful to avoid emotional suppression–I'm aware that there's some pretty heavy old suppressed stuff to wade through.) 

So I really don't know how to practice anymore. I used to do a lot of intensive sitting, retreats, inquiry, getting into jhanas, etc. But it feels like so far away. One retreat with Adyashanti about 5 or 6 years ago I asked him a Q and he said I was "checkmated" -- that no technique could help me anymore because i was at a certain place and this was actually a really good thing...a sign of good progress... but it never really turned out to be a good thing or at least maybe I still kept running after techniques to try and ease suffering... Had lots of body issues/health stuff over the years, quit meditation for some years and just did things like restorative yoga, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais etc. but nothing ever changes deep enough so I come back to meditation and the straight dhamma but find myself a total flop.

I am too skeptical of most teachers and usually soon decide they can't help me. So although I have some helpful and caring people in my life, I guess I'm doubtful anyone can really help me. So why am I posting this here if no one can help me? Not sure, heh. But I still somehow appreciate feedback...On the off chance.... emoticon

Thanks for reading.

Hi Danielle!  Well, first off I am just a fellow practioner, so these are just suggestions and reflections.  So, I could be wrong and could be way off base, if I am I apologize.  Just want to help, as a fellow practioner, and if I did not share these ideas it would feel more wrong than if I did share these ideas with you, I feel it would be selfish of me.  So, just take or leave these ideas as you wish.

Positive Shadow Side

From what I can tell of your very open descriptions is that you are a very advanced practioner, but you just may not realize how much of an opportunity life has given you, and how far you have actually travelled on the Path.  This may be a Shadow side, sometimes the Shadow side hides positive qualities, you may just not be recognizing fully all of your positive qualities.  Thus keeping them stuck in, not recognizing them just as they are.  There is humbleness, to be sure, but the flip side is , that it is completely okay to be a wholesome person.  If you reject this idea outright, that is probably a good sign of a positive Shadow side at work.  

Perfectionism
The Human process is impersonal by nature, so there is nothing really to blame, but only processes to be aware of and to improve upon. Recognition, No Blame, Change. Beating ourselves up over mistakes just adds more dukkha, i.e. a second dart.


Adyashanti Retreat

Adyashanti said, You are Checkmated.  Well, that may have gone into your psyche subliminally, and may have become a self fulfilling prophecy, the mental formation has probably strengthened, and will need to be dissolved.

Juxtaposition

  There is one way to use the Mundane Dependent Origination, and that is at the point between Sensations and Craving.  It seems to me, that the TWIM practice should have been your path out, with enough practice TWIM can become an automatic reflex, so to speak, and carry one though life all on its own.  Your previous experience and practice of this may help you once you break free of your Checkmate.  It seems you are stuck between dukkha and faith.


  • From ignorance (avijja) come karma formations/fabrications/volitional formations (sankhara)
  • From karma formations comes consciousness (viññana)
  • From consciousness comes mind and matter (nama-rupa)
  • From mind and matter come the six senses (salayatana)
  • From the six senses comes contact (phassa)
  • From contact comes feeling (vedana)
  • From feeling comes craving (tanha)
  • From craving comes clinging (upadana)
  • From clinging comes becoming/existence (bhava)
  • From becoming/existence comes birth (jati)
  • From birth, then aging & death
Twelve Links of Transcendental Dependent ArisingThis continues from the 12 “mundane” links of dependent origination, the last one being dukkha (or suffering) instead of “birth, aging and death”.
  • Suffering (dukkha)
  • Faith (saddha)
  • Joy (pamojja)
  • Rapture (piti)
  • Tranquility (passaddhi)
  • Happiness (sukha)
  • Concentration (samadhi)
  • Knowledge and vision of things as they are (yathabhutañanadassana)
  • Disenchantment (nibbida)
  • Dispassion (viraga)
  • Emancipation (vimutti)
  • Knowledge of destruction of the cankers (asavakkhaye ñana)

But first Faith has to be clarified, because in the English language it is usually taken to be a blind faith, but that is not the type of faith here.
Faith in this instance, comes from Wisdom, and Wisdom comes from Understanding, and it is the Understanding of all the Insights and Experiences that you have already had. You already know what has worked in the past, and what has not worked, so you already have the keys in your hands.  But, it is not always easy, especially when we are in a rut.  Our mind becomes like a truck stuck in the mud, and the longer we are stuck in the mud, the more balanced effort it will require to get unstuck, and move along again freely.  And balanced effort to keep it moving along.

Joy

This can be arouse within you once you free up and recognize exactly just how much practice, experience , and insights you actually have when compared to the everyday person who has been lost and wandering around, or did not have opportunities to meet teachers or have Dhamma Insights such as you have already had.  You can let this Joy arise, if you let it, it does not have to be an all pervading Heaven sent moment or anything, could be as simple as gratefulness and a smile into what you already have done, and tried to do for yourself and others.  

And also, just know you are not alone, currently I feel stuck myself. But, it is just one chess game, and one chess game is but a mind moment.  

Best two out of three?  That is one way to get out of checkmate, start anew.

And, two last things you probably already know.

Rome was not built in a day.

And Patience will carry one to Nibbana.

Metta

Psi

Oh, one more, Insights gained are not lost, but...  Like a second language, if they are not remembered and practiced, the Insights sink back down.  They are still there, they just need to be recovered, and successive recoveries of Insights become easier each time. 
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bernd the broter, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
When you say you have PTSD, what exactly do you mean?

I would imagine that having PTSD would painfully derail most of your other efforts, so that point seems crucial to me and I wonder why you didn't write more about it.

Metta, Forgiveness, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Yoga, Insight practice, Meditation etc. all are valuable for some purposes but imo none of them are designed to overcome PTSD without significant modification.
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Hi everyone who is part of this thread.

I wanted to write because I haven't had a chance recently to catch up on the replies, but I am deeply grateful for all of them and they are making a difference. Thanks y'all!
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
bernd the broter:
When you say you have PTSD, what exactly do you mean?

I would imagine that having PTSD would painfully derail most of your other efforts, so that point seems crucial to me and I wonder why you didn't write more about it.

Metta, Forgiveness, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Yoga, Insight practice, Meditation etc. all are valuable for some purposes but imo none of them are designed to overcome PTSD without significant modification.
Thanks for the reply bernd. By PTSD I mean I am very often in that hyperarousal fight-flight-freeze adrenaline state even when there is no apparent stress or danger. And that I learned through different therapies and trainings and readings that this is very likely related to a history of traumatic stuff - both developmental as a baby (including birth) & kid and then some accidents/violence/severe illnesses/losses as a young adult. 

As to why I didn't write more about it, not sure except that while I know that energy is probably stuck in the system and like you say it derails other efforts, at the same time I'm so sick of paying hoardes of money to expensive therapists who are trained in helping me get in touch with this stuck energy because it seems to take forever to unwind/unload/access. I did a bunch of stuff for that but it still seemed like the tip of the iceberg, so I've been very hesitant to keep delving in that (psychological) direction and was hoping somehow that making progress with insight could also help. Fortunately I recently was blessed to talk with someone who has experience (as a patient and also as a teacher/therapist) in both areas, so there's a bit of hope on the horizon.....

Do you know much about this topic?
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 1356 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Danielle Loesch:

I've had some "enlightening experiences" or temporary "seeing no self" over the years, some glimpses, but no lasting relief. The glimpses were enough to break me from thinking I could be happy with any other type of life comforts or successes, so now I've been stuck between worlds for a long time...
Kinda hard to tell where you are stuck. If I could figure that out I might be able to attempt to unstuck you.
Danielle Loesch:
I used to do good at "instructions" and working with teachers (I considered becoming a nun at one point), but too many temporary highs followed by dead-end experiences (and also dysfunctional student-teacher relationships)...
I am too skeptical of most teachers and usually soon decide they can't help me. So although I have some helpful and caring people in my life, I guess I'm doubtful anyone can really help me.

Well I guess it could be you thats screwing this all up, and since we like to be hard on ourselves its where we usually go. On the other hand maybe you just have the typical teachers who don't know crap about attainments or how to get them even though they might have gotten them. Maybe your bullshit detector works just fine and therefor the dysfunction starts and gets loaded onto you cause it couldn't possibly be the teachers fault..
Or, you might really be the problem....who knows.
Send me a messge if your interested in taking this to a video hangout and hashing thru it. I'm just a dude on the path that might have some different takes on things...who knows.
~D
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Hi all, I haven't forgotten about this thread but I haven't been able to reply to it. I just wanted to let everyone know that while I didn't get to replying to every reply, I did ponder and contemplate each one, and the net effect seems to be that I'm a bit less stuck than when I first wrote this! Thank you all and this community is really great.
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Danielle Loesch, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:
Send me a messge if your interested in taking this to a video hangout and hashing thru it. I'm just a dude on the path that might have some different takes on things...who knows.
~D

Hi Dream Walker, I just sent you a message. Thanks.
Sakari, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Totally Stuck

Posts: 38 Join Date: 12/28/13 Recent Posts
Hi Danielle,

I can relate to the lack of concentration and the feeling of being stuck that you mention. For both obstacles, four approaches in particular come to mind which I feel have helped me, where many other approaches have not:

The first one is heavy exercise. You mentioned having (had?) health problems, even so, perhaps there are some ways of moving the body which are both fun and strenuous for you? I find few things focus my mind like testing the limits of my body. For example, doing heavy deadlifts - especially having previously experienced that even a short lapse in attention likely results in back injury - has helped to cultivate my respect for being in the moment. So has taking cold baths and swims, which quickly demonstrate how aversion to feeling the body results in far greater discomfort, and, regardless, are invigorating. Dancing myself into the zone has also helped. Also I find that whatever bundle of negative feelings, and even the seemingly most profound "reasons" for being depressed and passive there existed before working out, have disappeared within half an hour, and do not return for many hours. Even better for me: strenuous exercise on some days, then more pleasant and relaxing types of movement on the days in between, and as primers for the heavy movement.

The second approach is somatic therapy, particularly the neo-Reichian methods. An excellent thread here on the DhO: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5201846

The third approach I got mainly from reading Culadasa: Whenever you find that your mind has wandered from the intended object, if your main reaction then is frustration or self-blame or some other negative feeling at the mind having wandered, then you actually learn to associate the negative feeling with the returning of the attention, thus making it harder and less frequent for your attention to return. If, instead, you rejoice when the attention returns (and, if I feel frustration or what have you, I also like to direct some compassion towards that frustration), the mind learns to return attention quicker and quicker. Similarly, simply appreciating the moments where attention is abiding teaches the mind to lengthen and strengthen the periods of attention.

The fourth pointer was one that I got from Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff). While attending to the breath, ask yourself: What way of breathing would be most rewarding right now? When I do this, I usually find I soon breathe deeper, and quickly get more relaxed and concentrated.

I hope at least some of that helps emoticon

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