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Experiences with being a dark night yogi, ADD, Open Heart system

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I've been practising with the Open Heart system since last November after encountering the curious shitstorm surrounding Kim in this forum. It certainly seems to me that there is a lot of potential and power in these teachings, and they do not deserve to be ignored or ridiculed. Since there's not much public documentation of practitioners' experiences and quite a lot of apparent misunderstanding, I thought I'd post some of my beginner's experiences. Additionally, I think I may be a pretty interesting case study for the effects of insight practice on a severe attentional deficit. 

But I'll get back to that next week when I find the time, I thought I'd introduce myself and my background first.

Hi. Kid, 22. I originally tried meditation to treat my attentional deficits and depressive/anxious tendencies back in 2013. I liked it a lot until hitting a probable A&P event. I wish I had known what it was at the time. 

The dark night cycles that appeared after that kicked my ass quite heavily, the (untreated) ADHD, obsessive compulsive and anxious tendencies getting much worse. The following ~four years I wouldn't call pure suffering, but they most certainly were highly unpleasant, wasted, useless, painfully self-absorbed, harmful, sad, lonely failures. I believe the DN cycles played some significant part, fucking things up even further than they already were. That said, I had had some form of these difficulties since my childhood.

I retained my interest in meditation, but kept avoiding it, ironically due to being afraid of not being able to handle the mystical dark night of the soul all the while cycling through it. When I finally got my ADHD (apparently, a really bad case of that) dx'd, I began to grasp the miniscule amount of mind-moments with any practical agency and presence I had during a day, and how that was destroying almost every pursuit and good intention there was in me.

A friend whom I'd tipped off about meditation some years earlier came home from a retreat in quite the afterglow and that felt funnily... karmic. I felt like I couldn't avoid properly practising anymore (I certainly had that deep, intuitive sense A&P apparently tends to give one, that there was just "something" to meditation, non-duality, etc.). I downloaded MCTB at that point and was very impressed and caught by the clarity and no-nonsense-attitude (thank you, Daniel!), then began to browse these forums. 

Quite a lot of tiredness and dark nighting since the last post, things that require heavier thinking have felt a bit difficult to get done. In the meantime, I attended a non-residential Open Heart city retreat, a first for me. In addition to the usual tantric techniques and atiyoga, we practised rushen, a more "dzogchen" version of metta, dzogchen dance and shamatha. 

The first night the atmosphere felt really electric and intense, somehow, felt a bit like someone sucker punched me. That evened out during the next day. We began with rushen practice in the morning, it was interesting to witness how the body movements started to become less coarse and chaotic. A powerful, grounding practice that I was unable to appreciate the first time I tried it. 

Metta practice didn't involve any visualizing, smiling, trying to be particularly warm or anything - we just sat facing each other. First time I tried this, it was probably my favorite of all the practices we did. Warmth and presence certainly came up, but there was also a heightened sense of clarity without so much of an overwhelming desire to love everyone, which I've had more when practicing metta with visualisations. My eyes kept going out of focus during the entire retreat, though, I had some trouble keeping my the eyes locked with my partner. 

OH practitioners have had some trouble with dark nights, so Kim gave shamatha a bit more emphasis. We practised a technique where one tries to feel the breath in a fist-sized area between the belly and the back (a location in the body that does not get karmically stained, or something like that). I keep having trouble feeling the insides of my body properly, and had a bit of trouble locating that spot, but once my attention hit it I got a small glimpse of the natural state almost instantly. Kim on traditional shamatha: "-- a fucking pain the ass". I concur. 

Kim also did a verbal teaching or two per day. Based on audio recordings I've heard previously, the emphasis seems to have moved a bit more towards dzogchen, like that view is a "wrapper" around everything else we do. He explained some of the tantric techniques and deities from a dzogchen point of view - that the deities are not external beings and that we are not taken over by any spirits or such during rushen, but that these are expressions of things inside ourselves. These talks really clarified some confusion I had had.

Kim was also very present and attentive throughout all practices, he didn't just passively recite the instructions, zone out or anything. On several occasions, he correctly identified the problem or mental state I was having from my body language, and gave corrective feedback. I found this very impressive and useful. 

All in all, a very nice experience. One aspect I find missing from OH is "living the view" - its like this very sophisticated, directed collection of techniques and understanding about the bodymind and the bhumi system within it, but so far I've not seen so much emphasis on how to apply that as in the traditions whose events I've attended. That said, practitioners are free to attend other teachings as they wish. I've been very inspired by Ngakpa Chögyam in this regard. I wish traditional Vajrayana teachings were more to a Westerner than they are now. 

Hi there anj, nice to see you here emoticon

anj:

Metta practice didn't involve any visualizing, smiling, trying to be particularly warm or anything - we just sat facing each other. First time I tried this, it was probably my favorite of all the practices we did. Warmth and presence certainly came up, but there was also a heightened sense of clarity without so much of an overwhelming desire to love everyone, which I've had more when practicing metta with visualisations. My eyes kept going out of focus during the entire retreat, though, I had some trouble keeping my the eyes locked with my partner. 

I've tried this practise too, and it instantly became a favourite for me too! It's a shame you need to have a partner for this, so its not a frequent practise for me. I like that it creates this bond between two fellow humans while at the same time shows clearly the emptiness of both of us. It's almost like it's the most profound and satisfying connection you can have, and at the same time there is no one there! No you or me. And it's free of nihilism too, the emptiness is not "negative" but there is this deep metta, loving acceptance there. Felt like it was something I had been trying to find my whole life, sometimes with not so skillfull means even, when looking back.
anj:


On several occasions, he correctly identified the problem or mental state I was having from my body language, and gave corrective feedback. I found this very impressive and useful. 


It's pretty impressive to be able to pick up such tiny signals and have the know-how on how to help the other person. Thumbs up for that emoticon

anj:


One aspect I find missing from OH is "living the view" - its like this very sophisticated, directed collection of techniques and understanding about the bodymind and the bhumi system within it, but so far I've not seen so much emphasis on how to apply that as in the traditions whose events I've attended.

I've been completely happy with just receiving the technical instructions that work well for me. One thing I've always found not so inspiring in other traditions I've tried were these seemingly endless lectures on how to be a good person and not envy the neughbors car.... Granted, they may have been just lousy lectures, but I'm feeling a little bit of reluctance on the idea of OH being more on this side. But maybe you have something more inspiring on your mind? Do you wish to elaborate on what sort of things you would like to be discussed or what have you found useful previously? I've liked very much the idea that true empathy and correct action flows straight out of the natural state. Like if you study the qualities of it, you see that it does lie, does not steal, does not speak harsly and uncompassionate. This has seemed to be anough for me in this regard.

Best of luck with the practise!

Jehanne