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Dealing with the Dark Night

Help. Need strategies for working through dissolution DURING EXAM SEASON??

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-senior at university
-applying for pharmacy or graduate schools this fall, so grades still matter
-huge looming deadlines all in a row during exam season

problem symptoms:
-less energetic
-way less focused
-way less motivated
-space out easily, so it's getting difficult to get things done

meditation seems like this:
-giant black hole in my chest
-very spaced out
-no sensations in the center of attention
-can feel sensations at the edges of attention and hear sounds
-hard to maintain focus
-i usually hit this stage after i experience A&P vibrations, and stay here until the end of meditation

how to work through these symptoms? I'd really really like to be able to get into a better (more foucsed) state of mind, otherwise I know I'll have trouble meeting these deadlines (3 exams, 2 papers, and 1 project presentation). my rate of work has drastically slowed down. has anyone found anything that works for them?

something that I've found that helps me: listening to REALLY ENERGETIC MUSIC, gets me into an A&P-like state for a bit. I'm sure there's more out there, though.

So in the super new-agey end of the spectrum, Law-of-Attraction teacher (and channeller) Esther Hicks teaches a technique called "The Rampage of Appreciation" in which you spout out an inner dialogue of spontaneous, positive upsides that are occuring in your life:

"I am grateful to be in college.  I am grateful to be in a good college.  I am grateful for my intellect.  I am grateful to have gotten this far in college.  I am so excited to be graduating soon!  I am going to make a lot of money as a pharmacist.  This money will allow me to explore things and foster an excellent life."

If you are feeling shitty about a specific thing, then the technique is to go from negative to neutral to positive:

"Fuck, I can't do this right now.  I simply do not have enough time to study... ... Maybe I could just get started.  Maybe I could just read one word at a time.  Just do the next formula.  If I did it once, is it possible to do it again?  I think so... ... That wasn't too bad.  It actually felt kind of good.  Time is passing by quicker now.  I can definitely do this.  My momentum is building.  I can do this!"

This technique will work regardless of what nana you are in because it uses internal dialogue which is less conditioned by the phase shifts of attention that occur during the dukkha nanas.

Good luck, Li.  Hit me up if you want to chat.

thanks so much Noah! I'll be sure to employ these when I hit spaced-out couch-potato stage.

The thinking has a snowball effect.  Consider applying them before you reach dissolution so that the pathways are stronger when you finally do.

The other possibility is gladdening the mind.  "As I inhale, I breathe in joy.  As I exhale, I completely relax."  Then repeat 100X.

Hi li.
when exactly are these deadlines that you´re talking about? If they´re relatively soon, I would advise to do the following:
  • stop the insight meditation for the time being
  • make a strong resolution to stop the insight process until after these important deadlines
  • if you´re already familiar with concentration practices, switch to doing concentration meditation, e.g. metta or something along the lines of what Noah suggests. Personally, in a somehow similar situation, I have used a combination of concentration meditation and something along the lines of "autosuggestion". I would first get my mind focused, e.g. on the breath, and then, rather than evoking a feeling of something like loving kindness, tried to imagine (aka evoke the related feeling based on past  experiences and memories) feeling self-confident, succesful etc - or in your case feeling energetic and in the mode of doing things. If you´re not familiar with concentration practices, I would rather advise to stop meditation altogether for a while, as you may involuntary switch back to vipassana.
  • get back to meditation after the exams are done
The reason for this advise would be: If you´re really in dissolution and starting to feel the effects of that in daily life, there is a risk that it gets worse in the short term, as you move into the further dukkha-nanas. That may end up being really difficult when it coincides with an important phase in your studies. From my own experience (both good and bad) in similar situations, it´s much more managable to face one challenge at a time rather than being overwhelmed by all at once...

In any case, all the best for the time to come!

I've definitely stopped- nd it helps. I'll start up again soon though after my next exam next Tuesday!
caffeine helps a lot, too.

Thanks so much for your help.