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Feeling a bit lost and hopeless

Feeling a bit lost and hopeless
7/9/17 11:39 AM
Greetings venerable meditators,

I write you here as it seems to be the most fitting place I can find. I grew up christian and let that go when I became a teenager, no big deal. I was still looking for something for in life when a friend recommended I try Vipassana meditation. I did and it did me a lot of good. I affected me to a point where I dedicated all the time I had to it, but now I seem to have wandered away from the path and find it hard to make my way back.

I'm trying to understand the way I feel, to make sense of it so that I might get back on track with my life.

I grew up learning to be an artist and now, this goal seems pale in comparison to attaining the fruits of meditation, but I can't seem to let go of my childhood dream (even if it makes life harder sometimes).

I smoke cannabis to releave stress and I get by. I function at a pretty good level in life. 

What I can't do is get back on track with my meditation. I remember someone at a retreat telling me that pratice outside of a retreat was basically useless and that affected me more than I thought. I came to believe the small day to day mediations were worthless if I wasn't in a retreat or going strong in my personale practice (3h+/day as I did during a phase in my life).

I would like to get back on track and find the peace I once had. I would like to intergrate my art with the practice instead of abandonning it or letting go of it. I know deep down that the meditation practice is the most impactful thing I could do, but I don't understand why the motivation is gone. I don't have a sangha in my city.

Does anyone reading this have any insight for me?
Or a relatable story?
Thanks, I value your time and attention.

RE: Feeling a bit lost and hopeless
7/9/17 3:23 PM as a reply to Frederic.
kudos dude...
no ganga - go for the deep stuff, ayahuasca and san-pedro, in a good holistic-dharma-supporting enviroment.
I know this might not sound buddhist, but they can really help. However, as always, listen to yourself if it is appealing to you, don't go against your instinct. My advice. I know this doesn't sound buddhist, but i see them as very benefical if used as part of practice. Also, mushrooms should also be good (never tried), but they are a little more pleasing.

honestly, i also think that you are in a stage in life where you need extremelly good teaching and support. you might be in a dark night.
I haven't passed it yet, so I can't speak as someone who is more knowledgeable, but, my teacher resembles it to birth many times - 
birth happens after after much contraction. you are now in a very contracted phase, after some expansion. forgive yourself and let yourself be contracted. It is Ok. I don't wanna sound all spiritual, but, accept yourself at the moment as confused and contracted. Find a way to trust life.This is hard and takes a lot of time for some people (especially as stupid as me, you can see my posts), but if you honestly call, the universe will hear somehow..
Look to find a teacher who you can trust with all your heart, and if there is one you don't feel that, let him go. if you don't find a teacher, trust yourself. <3 I truly appreciate your courage and sincerity.

RE: Feeling a bit lost and hopeless
7/9/17 4:23 PM as a reply to Frederic.
Hello Frederic,

I can' figure out why someone would think everyday practice is useless..
to life every moment of your day wholeheartedly is all you got, so why say: If I am not on retreat, I can't be living wise and passionate?
While meditation practice has definitively a huge impact and changes so much, there is still a life to be mastered. Meditation won't spare us the effort to learn new skills in this world, being real with emotions, fears and insecurities, living a good life and so on.
You have to be honest with yourself for what role meditation is playing in your life. And to make sure to live a preferable life that functions without it. The fruits of meditation won't resolve life issues, you do.

Greetings emoticon

RE: Feeling a bit lost and hopeless
7/9/17 6:33 PM as a reply to Frederic.
Hi Frederic. How much weed do you smoke? All day every day?
If so that's the source of your distressing emotions, not dark night.
If you're a chronic smoker and want to quit, you may be in for a long haul in regards to difficult withdrawal symptoms, anywhere from six months to two years if you smoke the high grade regularly. Check out the addictions section of for support.
Or if you're not a daily smoker you can probably disregard all that, but it doesn't necessarily mean dark night either. That refers to a specific stage according to MCTB adherents reserved for after you've crossed the A&P, and you didn't mention anything about that.
Daily practice is as important as retreat work IMO, that guy didn't know what he was talking about. 
Take care of yourself and don't beat yourself up if you don't want to make art anymore. People change.

RE: Feeling a bit lost and hopeless
7/10/17 7:48 AM as a reply to Frederic.
howdy Frederic,
i used to smoke but was never really positively affected by it so it was not that difficult for me to lay aside.  if it was a more pleasant experience it may have been difficult.

that said, it definitely affected my cognitive abilities negatively and so putting it aside was generally beneficial to me. it was a highly demotivational substance for me as well and since a good practice is based on consitancy and effort, in my opinion, the cannabis was not my friend.  on the other hand, i studied with some pals who could ace an exam after waking and baking so you will have to be the judge of that balance.

either way the long term picture is something like this.  one has an urge to meditate from wherever these urges come from.  maybe on just sits and tries to figure it out for themselves and gets frustrated and so looks for resources and teachers.  maybe a retreat is thrown in there.

most will learn that a consistent daily practice is helpful and so will begin a formal practice.  if they have learned or stumbled upon a technique which they can consistently apply that increases their concentration or even vipassana abilities or even just relaxes them, the will tend to sit longer and more frequently setting up a positive feedback loop.

there will be a phase where one still has to evercome some internal resistance to sitting but this is quickly replaced by a phase where one can't wait to get all of the little things done so they can just sit.  the satisfactions of a consistent practice start becoming more evident, momentum builds and exciting experiences and possibilities of more begin to emerge.

you are now hooked on something that costs nothing and shows great potential..all of your thoughts of practice are untainted by concepts of "work" and "must" are psyched to sit and explore this hidden magical world.

at some point your experiences get bizarre and difficult to order in the usual way.  you begin to notice patterns to your sits and you may even experience really really wild phenomena and find you can't stop without serious effort.

then you find you have opened a door that cannot be easily closed.  it is generally satisfying and you know innately that there is much much more than you imagined but that you are up to the task and it is as much a part of your life as anything ever was and to ignore it is not something you would even consider. up some momentum, do a retreat every year, plan it in advance and combine that with a daily practice that is not forced but a break from the usual daily run of things.

enjoy it as much as possible because that is also something many people ignore.  it should be fun and often VERY pleasant


RE: Feeling a bit lost and hopeless
7/14/17 2:24 PM as a reply to Frederic.
Hi Frederic! Welcome to the DHO!

First real fast answer is that a retreat can be a good way to get kicked back into practice mode.

As for retreat/daily life, I think the opposite is true: daily life practice is most important. If you had to do only one of the two for the rest of your life, it would obviously have to be daily practice. I would abandon the idea that only retreat practice matters. Your life is made up of the things you do each day.

I guess I can share some of my own experiences with my struggles/joys in combining art and meditation. Art in and of itself isn't complementary nor contradictory to practicing meditation. I had some anxieties around "committing to art", and so I used to think that art/dharma were two things I had to choose between, but really you can approach art from any perspective, so there are complementary ways of mixing them. Mindfulness practices are great for art. Contemplation of emptiness and impermanence can fit in extremely well with art making. Making art as a meditative practice can be extremely fulfilling. Visionary meditative experiences can be useful material/inspiration for artistic practice, provided you don't get caught up in their "messages" and are getting insight from them instead.
You can use your artistic practice as a meditation, in order to spend more of your daily life practicing meditation (similar to how you can use the experiences of washing dishes and eating food as a type of mindulness practice. Except if you are doing a 3 hour painting session, well that can be three hours of mindfulness, or absorption into particular sense fields or so on). 

If you experience love/joy/flow from making art (or if you want to experience that), you can consider it being a type of devotional joy-siddhi, a place to practice manifesting intentions in visual form, without expectation as to the result, while paradoxically nudging it in a feel-good, visually appreciative direction. 

You can also consider art as a way of practicing the Paramita, the artwork you make as being gifts, etc. So making art as a way to practice developing generosity, or concentration, or insight into emptiness (the creative process is quite astonishing in that sense, how an image arises through its own interdependent process that involves seemingly "everything" and you get to witness it). Anyway these are all deep studies.

So anyway. As for meditation stagnation. You could make the exploration of "motivation" as your object of meditation for a while. Explore what used to motivate you, what is missing now, what could you find that could possibly be a source of motivation, etc. And to listen to what is going on deep inside.

A topic that I find interesting is that of "interest" in and of itself. Interest as an inner energy that is moving somewhere. Investigative curiosity. Where in your mind can you tap into that and find the common overlapping points with art/meditation etc.

Another topic of contemplation might be "the benefits of meditation". You could sit in meditation and bring to mind the known benefits that you have already experienced in your life. And contemplate the upsides to meditation and the downsides to not-meditating. And reflect on them on  on a more personal level.

Finally I'd say be very careful about taking Ayahuasca or other powerful medicinal plants like that (I lived with shipibo trained shamans for six months and did regular of ceremony work with them during that time so I have a little bit of experience there). It's a separate "line of development" so to speak. Personally I think its extremely rare to combine it with proper Dharma practice, not that it can't be done, but if you don't have a proper Dharma teacher and are drinking with shamans then you increase your chances of ending up on a completely separate spiritual path that has little to do with Dharma insights. Also when ingesting plants and giving over your body and mind to them and the shamans it can be extremely risky so make sure you know what you're getting into.

Good luck!

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