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Fear and terror
Answer
2/16/17 3:37 PM
I've been out of dark night for a while and have decided to hit things hard again. This forum has inspired me. I remember thinking yesterday, "I've come this far, I might as well keep going." So, I've been paying attention to what I'm doing and noting the crap out of everything.

I'm not sure where I'm at on the MCTB map but what I feel is content. Very content. This has been the case for some time.

But now I'm beginning to feel a deep impenetrable wall of fear. When I note phenomena the mind tends to get quiet and a vastness comes into awareness. Sounds appear in this vastness but do not have a location relative to where I'm at. It seems like sound is inside me, but I don't seem to be here other than a vague sense of myself inside this vastness.

This does not seem like a very cool idea at the moment and I feel that the gravity of this undertaking is beginning to take hold.

This is like taking a leap into a deep well of unfamiliarity. Like everything I once knew would be flipped on its head.

How in the hell do I push through this?

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/16/17 4:49 PM as a reply to ivory.
I would wager your main sensory modality is sound. I'm more touch, so not sure the advice below will be helpful. Anyway...

  • Anxiety can be triggered by states of deep relaxation. This is both normal and OK and it passes. By trial and error I have learned to release only as much as I can handle.
  • I know of basically two sources of anxiety that come up (mostly "came" up) during meditation for me. One is felt starting at the kidneys, which are located just below the middle of the spine, a bit to the sides and inwards. The other is felt starting in the guts, i.e. the lower belly, all the way from the pubic region to the solar plexus, but inside. I.e. the guts.

    I have found that the way of dealing with these two sources of anxiety is different.
  • My kidney anxiety can be made to disappear completely and not arise anymore by a combination of alkaline diet (simplyfing: very little meat, milk, eggs or fish; and little flour, sugar, and so on, search google), frequent exercise, and mineral supplements. Yup!
  • The gut anxiety is a bit trickier. I now have the understanding that the gut stores anxiety in tension. When this tension starts to release, the anxiety is experienced again. That is not necessarily bad: if I can keep myself from getting too worked up, and allow the tension to release completely, that specific area that was in tension will not produce anxiety again (ever again).

    The difficulty is that if I relax too much, and there's lots of anxiety left unresolved, a lot of the tension can be released at once, which may be overwhelming and prevent the proper resolution of the anxiety-producing gut-tension. This leads to an anxiety attack, which is a terrible experience.

    The best way I have found to deal with this gut anxiety is by transversing a path, with my mind, back and forth between the gut region that is anxious and the root chakra at the base of the spine. This "grounds" the energy being produced in the anxious gut feeling, and keeps it at tolerable levels.

    If done properly, the root chakra will feel like it is pulsing with energy. This is grounding.

    Or, well, that's how things appear to me.
  • Some hard-learned advice: anxiety, once triggered by meditation and before it is resolved, does not mix well with bad news. If going through such an episode, turn off your phone, don't read email, don't read about climate change, etc.
  • Exercise is the best anxiolytic I know of, by a longshot. This small remark should not be underestimated.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/16/17 5:34 PM as a reply to ivory.
Have you looked at the parts of MCTB on fear and the dark night in general? I think it might help you.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/16/17 6:54 PM as a reply to ivory.
Ivory:
I've been out of dark night for a while and have decided to hit things hard again. This forum has inspired me. I remember thinking yesterday, "I've come this far, I might as well keep going." So, I've been paying attention to what I'm doing and noting the crap out of everything.

I'm not sure where I'm at on the MCTB map but what I feel is content. Very content. This has been the case for some time.

But now I'm beginning to feel a deep impenetrable wall of fear. When I note phenomena the mind tends to get quiet and a vastness comes into awareness. Sounds appear in this vastness but do not have a location relative to where I'm at. It seems like sound is inside me, but I don't seem to be here other than a vague sense of myself inside this vastness.

This does not seem like a very cool idea at the moment and I feel that the gravity of this undertaking is beginning to take hold.

This is like taking a leap into a deep well of unfamiliarity. Like everything I once knew would be flipped on its head.

How in the hell do I push through this?


Hello. I found myself in a similar situation lately. Some quick tips to save you time I spent unwisely:

  1. Stop using words like deep/impenetrable/vastness/no location/inside/don't seem/other than/vague sense/gravity of understanding/deep well of unfamilarity/flipped.

    It sounds nice, but what you want to do is note precisely and accurately exactly what is happening. These kinds of descriptions stretch the qualities of your actual experience into imaginations with strange attributes. If you're experiencing it, then it is happening within the six sense doors, and it is possible to note it with clarity. If it's not experienced, then it is inference about experiences, which is experienced as mental phenomena that can be noted. 

    Investigate, what is this "vague sense"? what is this "impenetrable"? what is this "gravity? what is this "wall of fear"? Every single one can be broken down into distinct mental and physical phenomena in each moment, feeding back into each other over time. Be totally unwilling to settle for such descriptions, they imply that things cannot be seen or noted or that your ability to notice is lost. But if you go to your actual, moment to moment experience, you'll see that this is not true. You're doing good. Keep digging deeper into absolutely everything that occurs. 

  2. Chill out

    The "dark night" or meditative practise doesn't have to be so hard. It's generally quite destabilizing, but many people have quite an easy ride. It's super easy to rationalize that it needs to be chaotic, violent, destabilizing and full of suffering/endurance just because it's called the "dark night". It's also easy to rationalize that because your practise is hard, that it means you must be getting somewhere. Neither is true. And possibly a lot of stuff you're experiencing is unnecessary.

    E.g. Stuff can happen like we have a big expectation of the "wall of fear" intensifying, solidifying and somehow overcoming us. But if we go to our actual suffering in that moment very clearly, we can note that it is the mental phenomena of imagination/exaggeration, and the consequent peripheral muscular contract/tension in the body + restricted breathing, which is an instinctual way of resisting or suppressing the feeling from intensifying. One approach in such situations is simply to soften our body and defocus our attention a little to include this tension, the mental phenomena, as well as the original feelings of fear/dread. By experimenting with such approaches, you might find a lot of the apparent intensity of your experience is totally unnecessary. 

    So in general, on top of this, spend time creating more restful states by focussing an object/the breath (ie samatha/anapana) and also spend time investigating/noting positive aspects of experience rather than focussing solely on unpleasantness (there's almost always a choice). Of course, when a big storm comes, focus on it and note the shit out of it as accurately as you can. But by no means does the dark night have to be total blackness. 

Hope that helped. 

-Wing

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/16/17 11:59 PM as a reply to Doctor Avocado.
Wing Biddlebaum:
Hello. I found myself in a similar situation lately. Some quick tips to save you time I spent unwisely:


Damn dude, you are clear as hell. Excellent response.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/17/17 12:06 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
I would wager your main sensory modality is sound. I'm more touch, so not sure the advice below will be helpful.


I'm more of a touch guy also but I listen to slower tempo instrumental hip hop so the space between sounds comes to the forefront of attention easily.

Bruno Loff:
Exercise is the best anxiolytic I know of, by a longshot. This small remark should not be underestimated.


Yeah man, I totally agree with you. I surf and do yoga daily. When I'm not surfing I like lifting weights.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/17/17 12:18 PM as a reply to ivory.
This may be somewhat unrelated but I just took a look at the MCTB stages. I haven't looked at the book for a couple years. I'm definitely in EQ and I seem to be right on the edge of High EQ. I think the surprising thing is how repeatable the path is amongst practitioners.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/17/17 12:27 PM as a reply to ivory.
The right thing to do while in eq is maintain a very broad, panoramic sense of focus, and notice the stuff that is usually thought of as background.

Sense of space, sense of time, "being", "here", "meditating" and so on, including everything everything everything.

It may help trying to relax the center of the brain (there is a point there that is pulsating), and/or following thoughts back to where they originate from. This is what I was doing when I got SE.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/17/17 12:46 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
The right thing to do while in eq is maintain a very broad, panoramic sense of focus, and notice the stuff that is usually thought of as background.

Sense of space, sense of time, "being", "here", "meditating" and so on, including everything everything everything.

That's exactly what's come into awareness.

Mental pictures were also predominant and persistent last night. I surfed for 5 hours yesterday and when I went to bed panoramic images of waves were burnt into my brain. For some reason this brought on some anxiety and I felt rather jumpy as I was drifting to sleep. Perhaps because I'm not used to this sort of thing.

I'm a little afraid of going forward because... whoa nelly!

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 3:55 AM as a reply to ivory.
Right, visualizing stuff is also eq territory. Note fear, anticipation, giddyness, etc. Notice how it's all happening in the same field. Notice how it's just a small part of that field. Hunt down anything that seems to look like it's background / watching something else. Notice how that's not actually what is happening, and include that sense with the rest of the stuff.

The kind of fear excitement etc you are describing will go away when you get used to stuff. It's really not that special. Really. You can try to ignore it ("who cares?") and focus on the matter at hand, instead, which is more interesting.

Notice everything everything everything panoramic panoramic panoramic. Make it smooth, consistent, wide, calm, tranquil, peaceful, just OK and normal, slowing down, it feels like you could do it for a thousand years and just be calm and OK... everything everything everything panoramic panoramic panoramic.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 10:03 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Cool man, thanks

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 10:38 AM as a reply to ivory.
ivory:

How in the hell do I push through this?
In my experience Time with practice is a big part of it. The rest is realizing that the comfort zone is too comfortable and inching your way out into new territory and learning to balance challenge with skill level is a way to not bite off more than you can chew or stay too comfortable. Even in science it's called Directed Attention or in our circles Concentration Meditation that mediates dealing with tasks and going into flow. Maintaining prescence at work or in mediation is key to see what's interrupting you.

Try to do daily life practice and realize you can pay attention to anything you want to. The dark night can happen at any time of the day. It's bascially withdrawal symptoms as we go into new paths that are more free of addictive habits. Just accept the sucky feelings and realize that they are also not permanent. These symptoms can last a long time in the beginning but they become less and less dominant over practice time. It's such a great feeling to be in the dark night and then notice it disappeared about an hour ago. It may come back but you know it doesn't stay.

One thing that helps a lot is to practice visualization skills and use them in practical ways. Thinking is okay in meditation as long as it's thinking related to the dharma and seeing through illusions.

Our habits tend to imagine positive details without looking at the negative details. It's like part of our amygdala can only see positive details and part of it can only see negative details. To use both by imagining the positive and forcing the visualization to go into the realistic negatives gives a fuller picture so it's using negative reinforcement to actually help you. The pleasure is that you avoided a choice that would be mostly negative in the end. Trial and error of course is part of the learning process but it's good to use both positive and negative reinforcement to keep meditating and keep on your long-term goals.

Eg. Think of an interruption of your meditation and think of the downside of stopping the meditation to go do that thing. Sometimes it's good to stop meditating because what you are going to do is important but a lot of times it's just the addictive part of the brain that wants to get a pleasure hit. As psychologists would say, addicted people will do ANYTHING to feed their addiction. That's what we're dealing with when dealing with the dark night.

The only way is through, if you want to get through. emoticon

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 12:03 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
I like this a lot. Can you elaborate on the relationship between the DN and the impulsive desire to feed our dopamine addictions? I'm interested in this.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 12:28 PM as a reply to ivory.
Sure dude, no problem. Remember it's just one person's advice, and other people may have different advice which may be more suitable for your sensitivity/ability/way of seeing/etc. Or they may not. Give stuff a try, don't be discouraged if it doesn't help, just take what works and leave the rest. Also, stuff that doesn't work now may later become exactly what you need, and stuff that works now may be useless later, as well.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 1:27 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Sure dude, no problem. Remember it's just one person's advice, and other people may have different advice which may be more suitable for your sensitivity/ability/way of seeing/etc. Or they may not. Give stuff a try, don't be discouraged if it doesn't help, just take what works and leave the rest. Also, stuff that doesn't work now may later become exactly what you need, and stuff that works now may be useless later, as well.

What you said resonates for sure. I know to discard something when it doesn't.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 2:19 PM as a reply to J C.
I kind of did already. Stress is negative reinforcement to punish us for not following our habitual desires. In the ancient world it could help us to survive but in the modern world where people get welfare, the desires to get basic food, clothing and shelter are satisfied. The modern world has to create new desires which can be good or bad. Then we crave problematic objects and situations or get guided to bad objects or situations by manipulators.

One solution is sublimation. Sublimation is based on taking bad desires and replacing them with good ones. If I get enjoyable neurotransmitters the same from healthier objects or situations then who cares as long as it's healthy. Once you have healthy cravings these passions can fuel a life with less regret and be emotionally fulfilling. Having good relationships where you cut off negative people and punish negative attitudes that are destructive means you are creating a world where people have to behave differently around you if they want to be around you. As you save money and get better jobs you have more power and influence and can continue conditioning others to have better behaviour as you continue to monitor your own. Successful people have influence and power and usually they mess it up because they are not paying attention to details and pros and cons but if they have a moral practice that is central to their lives then they can use their influence for good. The payoff of morality is a clear conscience and mental peace.

So continuing on with the dark night. In the dark night you are first noting/noticing/acknowledging the withdrawal symptoms and not fighting them by loading up the aversion. You are welcoming, allowing, and loosening your hatred of the dark night and as you stay with things there will be a point where the withdrawal symptoms just drop because you aren't feeding the old addictions. The brain is a "use it or lose it" energy saver and by depleting old addictions with non-action the brain gradually sends less powerful alarms. In the meantime you create more congruent actions that meet what your long-term goals are and you let go of the old ways so the brain has a chance to put a foot in another enjoyment (eg. jhanas) before letting go completely of the other spot where the other foot still is. It's easier to let go when you have something better to hold on to. Dip into jhanas and really enjoy yourself and spread it throughout your body. When people are starving they go for anything: Bad relationships, bad jobs, bad food, drugs etc. Feed on rapture and then continue on with insight. 

Until a person truly gets disenchanted with controlling what is out of control the brain will require feeding, and if like I assume most people don't want to give up all craving, then craving what is healthy is pretty much what most people want to do. The way enlightenment is described by a lot of meditators, you have to get your life in order so that it's easier to let go. Many like Culdasa want people to stay in concentration longer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5He0q5u5yY
Culdasa

I would also point out again that a huge part of letting go is having self-love and that is controlled by self-parenting. By taking care of yourself like a parent would their beloved child then your good actions can condition a healthy self-love that isn't narcissistic and is a basic requirement if you want to deal with addictions. Many people have trauma, core-shame and they self-medicate their low self-esteem with addictions. It's pervasive all over the world. Some people even create these negative narratives to control people. If you have low self-esteem you are easier to control because you believe you don't deserve better. Then you can be strung out on anything you get addicted to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw3NyUMLh7Y&t=3s
I am not enough

People who have self-love that is healthy can let go of a lot of addictions and co-dependents that are new to liking themselves often get the same result as a good meditation but it lasts longer. They feel okay wherever they go much like a person on medication emoticon except it's natural. This is similar to the "lubricant" that Culdasa talks about but it's really Metta for yourself except you actually mean it. You need reminders here and there because people external to you are constantly reminding you that you suck. This often starts in childhood when children need mirroring from their parents "you are so loved" until they are convinced that they should love themselves. Then they act with more risk taking and can tolerate making mistakes and learning. Those who don't get that go onto a myriad of personality disorders which are compensations for this lack of self-love.

When you have self-love you are already letting go of a lot of bad desires because you feel loved and cared for by yourself the way a good parent does. You know that feeling of vulnerability when you look at a child and you feel a strong need to care for them and protect them from danger? You want to get that exact same feeling for yourself so you naturally make better decisions for yourself. You also fight for your rights without feeling guilty. A lot of problems go away that don't require meditation or fighting with a dark night. For many people this is enough and they go off and enjoy life and love in moderation and things are good. For others that are looking to eradicate craving forever they find it's easier with self-love to keep on going with their meditation just like dealing with other difficult challenges and not caving when there are distractions.

I just hope that people who are going through the dark night are making sure to read the 4 tetrads and realize they need to be relaxing tension while they are meditating. You can note and shoot aliens with aversion bullets but that just damages the brain further. Relax tensions and people need to be doing this in situations other than meditation. Maybe instead of shooting aliens, give them spa packages so they can relax fabrications? If you have a phobia of some kind relaxing tension around those situations and activities will help the brain relax so you can venture out of the comfort zone. Talking to people while being mindful and relaxed and dipping into those feelings of self-care improves the confidence in a balanced way. It's not-self, not no-self. We are not a doormat but we are not a bully either and we are self-contained as much as a person can be other than the basic necessities. That's why I like the nuance of Form is emptiness, and emptiness is Form. I can recognize form without putting it on a pedestal or pretending it's not there.

Wow! I'm getting more out of this than many readers are. emoticon

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 3:07 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Awesome post, Richard. That sounds very similar to what I came to realize.

I have a post-it-note on my cabinet that reads:


1. Take care of yourself
2. Open up
3. Do what matters
4. Be present


This is my life philosophy and it's listed in the order of importance. To open up is to allow unpleasant emotions and sensations to come and go. To do what matters is to live a values-based life with purpose and integrity and to let go of addictions and distractions.

The first tenet is important because it reminds me to sleep well, drink water, eat fruits and veggies, and make strategic decisions that serve my best interest.

They say, "Let go" but that's not easy because the mind says, "What's in it for me?" But If you focus on the suffering brought on by unhealthy habits (open up) and trade the unhealthy habits for healthy habits (do what matters) the mind is more willing to play along. The result is a well balanced human being with high self-esteem and the ability to be present with very little effort.

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 3:54 PM as a reply to ivory.
Dang, great discussion!

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/18/17 4:17 PM as a reply to ivory.
I think we are at similar realizations. Everyone will have different checklists. This would be my version emoticon

1. Be present (If I'm not present I can't direct intentions, they will be habitual)
2. Open up (Yep, relax the negative reinforcements that are operating all the time)
3. Take care of yourself (I can't do what matters if I don't take care of myself)
4. Do what matters (Kind of part of #3 but this can include the external world activities. Brendon Burchard would call this the "needle movers" on your goals)
Good luck!

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
2/19/17 1:13 AM as a reply to Doctor Avocado.
Wing Biddlebaum:

Hope that helped. 

-Wing

DANG! Im not even in dark night and I sighed some relief!

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
3/2/17 12:17 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Well, I'm off for a 7 day wilderness retreat. Stream entry here I come!

RE: Fear and terror
Answer
3/2/17 1:30 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Nice