Attainment, The Dark Night, Bi Polar, and Medications

T DC, modified 6 Years ago at 1/27/16 11:17 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 1/27/16 11:17 PM

Attainment, The Dark Night, Bi Polar, and Medications

Posts: 464 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
So the title just about says it all!

I have a friend who I strongly believe attained 3rd path several years ago.  Ever since soon after he began meditation he experienced strong dark night symptoms, strong enough that he went to a psychiatrist several years ago and was given meds for depression.  Since then he had been doing relatively well, but in the last year or so he has been rediasgoned with bipolar, and put on an agressive cocktail of meds.  Since that time he has gone greatly downhill, he has stopped speaking and exibhits neurosis strongly in a physical manner. 

He keeps saying he wants to get sane, and then get off the meds, but from what I have seen of him I am strongly convinced that the inexorable force of the path is the (or a significant) driver behind his neurosis.  How could a western psychiatric doctor possibly realise this or treat for it?  I am convinved he is largely just stuck on the path, and that maybe the meds are just making it worse, because he seemed to be doing much better before.

I am worried for him frankly, and given the difficuly of the situation I thought I would post on here to see if anyone had useful advice.  Apparently his psych doc is notorious for both diagnosiing everyone with bipolar and agressively pushing the meds.  My mom has recomended to his family on the advice of another therapist some different potential doctors to see, I have heard that once you are on meds it is hard to get off, and it might be a major shift to switch docs.  I am not advocating he go cold turkey and just meditate it out, however the current treatmetn does not seem to be working.

Advice appreciated!  Thanks -
Noah, modified 6 Years ago at 1/27/16 11:50 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 1/27/16 11:50 PM

RE: Attainment, The Dark Night, Bi Polar, and Medications

Posts: 1467 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
I am bipolar and have been on and off various mood stabilizers while on the meditation path.  Here are some thoughts.

a) He should find a skilled psychiatrist, consider getting a second opinion.

b) He should find a psychotherapist that is a good match for him.

c) A cocktail of medications at low doses are frequently better than one medication at a medium to high dose.  They tend to literally have a synergistic effect.

d) In general, people should approach psychiatry like they approach 'pragmatic' dharma; in an intelligent, strategic, and transformation-oriented fashion.  Meds can and will do the trick if he is bipolar, he just needs to find the right ones. is the best site for down-to-earth medication info.

e) He should regularly skype with a meditation coach who knows the technique he uses and knows about the dark night.  Good options are Ron Crouch, Abre Chen, Shinzen Young, Kenneth Folk, Vincent Horn, Hokai Sobol, and others.  The coach will help tweak his techniques so he can make the fastest progress through it.  

d) What worked for me was constant noting in daily life, while on the right medication cocktail.  The key for progress through the nanas was the consistency.  However, if he has technical 3rd path (the first big 'opening' of walking-around perception), than it might require a more nuanced approach.  Another thing that worked really well for me was EMDR therapy.

In conclusion, lots of external supports, lots of structure to his practice, and an intelligent and balanced approach.
tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago at 1/28/16 6:37 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 1/28/16 6:37 AM

RE: Attainment, The Dark Night, Bi Polar, and Medications

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
really sorry to hear about your friends' difficulties.  a long time pal of mine has suffered some significant relapses recently and so it hits home.

the advice given by noah above is top notch.  that said i am not a friend of medication based psychiatry.  i know, i know,  many people are helped by these medications to some degree but most are not helped by them in the long run.

the large majority of psychiatric medication is not meant to be prescribed longer than a few weeks and abuse of this rule is frequently ignored by doctors whose job it is to know better.  medical doctors with NO experience or training in psychaitry or pschology can prescribe these drugs and often take a trial and error approach.  why would they do that?  usually because they have no idea what they are playing around with.

the difference between different drugs, what chemical changes they make in the brain, the longevity of their manipulations and the long term effects of steering away from the bodies normal control mechanisms are largely unknown to many docs.

addiction is rampant with these drugs due to the severity of symptoms when trying to stop using them. many people will build up a resistance to a particular drug which eliminates much if not all of the initial benefit they received from it.  this can lead to intradose peaks and valleys which can be far less stable than their initial complaints.  many of the direct side effects of this class of drugs are worse than the symptoms they purport to diminish.

since your friend is already deep down the drug rabbit hole, he should find a doc who will work with him who has experience in evaluating his medication and mental history with the dual goal to free him of the medication and to improve his mental well being obviously.

since you believe this guy t be 3rd path, he is obviously very advanced and should know himself how destabilizing pushing the meditation envelope can be.  i would suggest that he drop anything which destabilizes his personality until the outside chemo influence is attenuated greatly.
Ward Law, modified 6 Years ago at 1/28/16 12:41 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 1/28/16 12:41 PM

RE: Attainment, The Dark Night, Bi Polar, and Medications

Posts: 123 Join Date: 9/7/15 Recent Posts
With respect to getting off the meds, it is critical, CRITICAL, that one taper the dosage as gradually as possible. The longer you've been on the drug, the longer it takes to taper off of it. I was on a minimal dosage of Lexapro, perhaps the most "gentle" of the SSRIs, for about 11 years. I spent a year tapering off of it, after which I suffered from increased fear and despair for at least another year. It's too bad that there are doctors out there who don't have a clue about this.
T DC, modified 6 Years ago at 1/30/16 11:44 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 1/30/16 11:44 PM

RE: Attainment, The Dark Night, Bi Polar, and Medications

Posts: 464 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Thanks all for the replies!

Noah, that is interesting to hear more meds could be better.  I'm not sure about the dose..  Also thanks for the drug site resource.  I have imagined being on medication like being in a fog, but I have no experience, and I know very little about it.  What Tom and Wardlaw say about the difficultly getting off the meds once you start them sounds pretty harsh!  If you get incorectly diagnosed and put on medicaton, you could be in for a worse time all around it seems like!

Tom, the point about stopping meditation because it's destabalizing is a good one.  At this point I think he's just trying to stay sane, which I think means no formal meditation.  Part of the difficultly of this situation I believe, and of his mental health diagnosis in general is that states on the path can be extremely destabalizing, and potentially could result in a physchiatric spectrum diagnosis.  For me, once I was past the A+P really, and more so after 1st and 2nd path, with notable other periods, I did experience extrememly destabalising mind states, but I just keep pushing on the path because I was convinced that attainment was the only thing that could help me.

Which raises a question; when people expreicne the strongly destabalising mind states on the path, what can we tell them?  Just keep on pushing?  Ultimately this may be the only thing that helps, and for the strong willed it may work, but for those who are utterly destabalised by their experince, they are really in for.  Without a clear path, and great faith in the potential of attainment, perhaps it is easy to go astray.

At any rate thanks for the advice.  I hope he can pull through and things improve.