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Dealing with the Dark Night

Not in the Mood for Retreat

Not in the Mood for Retreat
9/20/17 6:12 PM
I've been in the dark night for ~2.5 years.  Things got a little easier after a retreat last fall when the accompanying depression seemed to lift.  It certainly got a lot lighter but it hasn't gone away completelely.  A sat another one back in April and it was the most difficult one I've sat since my first.  I put a lot of pressure on myself because I really thought I was ready for something to happen.  Things have been pretty rough. I've been holding things together pretty well at work, but my SO has had just about enough.  

I have the opportunity to sit another retreat in a few weeks, but I'm not really in the mood.  And by that I mean that after just returning from vacation (2 weeks without practicing) and starting to get back in the swing of things, I don't really want to disrupt my life again to go on retreat. I'm wondering if this is foolish since I won't have another opportunity until next spring.  Should I just suck it up and go, or give myself a little more time to prepare for a retreat in the spring?  

RE: Not in the Mood for Retreat
9/21/17 8:28 AM as a reply to Aaron Rice.
Hi Aaron, sorry to hear you've not been feeling too great for 2.5 years. 

My experience with similar periods is that it's important to be kind to yourself. Self compassion, not striving, not stressing the body to get to some breakthrough, nor relying on a breakthrough to remedy other aspects of life. 

On the one hand, intense practise does sometimes seem to be the way to get a shift. To some degree you can allocate time for it, expect stuff to unfold in a linear fashion and have enlightenment not care much how you get there. 

On the other, expectation can definitely block things, especially when it comes to getting into EQ, etc. Timing and the exact route you take is also highly individual. From personal experience it can also definitely be injurious to your wider life and your nervous system to try to ignore/negate them to try to get a shift. You identified it with "I put a lot of pressure on myself because I really thought I was ready for something to happen".

For me, overly intense practise to tryto progress by a certain deadline has only worked once. The rest of the time, it just fried me. Or left me playing catch up and suffering the time pressure when returning to life. The reason was that there was too much bearing down, too much embedding into attitudes of striving, and too little sensitivity to what the body/mind needed (ie lack of right effort). I actually cancelled a retreat today because I didn't think it would be kind to myself right now. 

Trust that it will happen if you stay loyal to the core investigative principles and cultivate sensitivity. You can't rush it. You say it might cause disruption or upheaval to go right now, especially without practise momentum. Maybe this gut instinct is right?

No need to answer here, but one question that comes to mind: if you could forget about the entire idea of being a meditator, the dark night, how it might be affecting things - then could you do anything on any level that will improve your energy, mood, relationships, etc? 

If so, doing them may almost certainly help your practise too

- Dr Avocado

RE: Not in the Mood for Retreat
9/26/17 2:43 PM as a reply to Doctor Avocado.
Thank you, Dr Avocado.  That was exactly what I needed to hear.