Staying down-to-earth

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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Practical Dharma

Several members have expressed how their practice intensified after finding this place. One effect of accelerating practice I noticed is that the sense of uplift got be a bit ungrounded - not severely, but just enough for those who know me closely to notice a difference.

Paying close attention to sila helps, as does judo training.

How do you deal with this effect?

Cheers,
Florian
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Great question. I remember picking up Daniel's book very soon after beginning to practice. In all honesty, I didn't really get fully grounded and start the process of integration for a few years, until I felt like I had something significant to start integrating. That being said, I found being in relationship, pursuing other things (like a degree), and being committed to waking up as quickly as possible all very helpful.

Also retreats seem to be key in getting to some of these important breakthroughs (such as stream-entry) in a safe environment. :-D

-Vince
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
I tend to think that it's okay to be ungrounded if you can hold down a decent job, or get a degree, etc., and not destroy any intimate relationships. That is pretty much what Uncle Freud said. I also don't really know how exactly one goes about "integrating" some of these insights ("Look ma, no-self!") save that they do re-affirm the audacious claims of the text. Of course, that sounds kind of like bare absolute reality is just a very demented hobby.

On the other hand, a certain number of psychological insights seem unavoidable, since they can just happen on their own (i tend to think that there is a discrete, conditioned process by which it happens), though I'd happily trade them in for fundamental insights since they're only really of secondary importance. In a bunch of groups I've heard people talks about how they "realized something" about themselves and then essentially ask permission to indulge in that rather than engage the technique, which is ridiculous--if the psychological insight was that important, you can set it aside and come back to it later since you're not going to forget.

And on the third hand, some of the practice can be destabilizing in the sense that there's physical and psychological side-effects, but they only seem to get extreme in retreat; even if they're severe (e.g., shaking, altered vision) in a daily practice they're much more manageable since there are things like jobs, lunch, taxes, sex, and rent to take our minds off our intention to attain or cruise the twelth jhana or whatever, so the energy will dissipate on its own much more rapidly. And I was also told to eat heavy foods and walk outside; exercise really does help with some of the unpleasantness that can show up... Judo is about as grounding as it gets, ha ha ha.

anyway, that is my two-cents opinion.
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
As my practise developes further I´m running into this feeling af beeing ungrounded without any breaks. All I want to do is meditate, the more the better and if I cannot do so for any reason I really can´t concentrate or enjoy anthing else. This is not the right time for it to happen because I should be studying for university but simply cannot do this well.
A solution might be to quit practicing for a while but I prefer going for it and enter the dark night quickly, hopefully passing through it without major damage.
I would have never believed that these effects could be so intense before I began practising.
So staying down to earth is a really big issue for me and I´m glad that it´s being discussed here.
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
I am not a psychiatrist but this sounds like an obsession or a powerful, recurring compulsion. I can't tell you what a shrink would, but I'd open up to having other priorities in a formal sense. Obviously studies can be one for you. My own teacher suggested to me first that when something like that arises to engage with generosity and morality, since we can always improve those and they are powerful in a way we often forget, and second to consider metta practice to open up the intention.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 19 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
What do you mean by "feeling ungrounded without any breaks?"
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Tracy.

I'm going to throw in my two cents here and say that maybe it's university that you need a break from, not practice. Part of being "down to earth" is being honest with yourself and those around you about what's important to you. It's completely up to you to live your life in accord with your deepest values. If you've found that your deepest-held value is discovering the true nature of existence before you die (or something similar to that), you're probably not going to be able to do anything else well until you address it. I don't know how the baby in your profile picture feels about it, but it may be that after the end of this semester, it'll be time for you to put in some serious retreat time. Having a commitment to intensive practice in the future might also let you get back to your studies right now.

Of course part of my response is me projecting my own stuff onto your situation. I recently decided to give up on trying to be a "normal 23-year-old" and go bum around Asian retreat centers for a year. I feel like I'm fully living my own life again, so I know this is the right choice for me.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 3176 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Mai88: it sounds like you are already Dark Nighting, as that sort of need to meditate like you need to breathe or go to the bathroom is very classic Dark Night stuff, as is the lack of interest in people's worldly things. Finding the right balance between worldly activities that really need attention, such as children, bills, relationships, etc. and the sometimes very powerful urge to find something in meditation can be a real trick. I agree with Tracy's recent post.

As to Nathan28's post, quoted above, I am not really sure I would classify it in psychiatric terms. Instead, I am more likely to think of it in developmental terms, and when one is half way in and half way out, things can feel very conflicted and out of sorts. Best advice: find a period of time for a few weeks and, with the very best technique and instruction you can find, get stream entry. It really can be done. It helps tremendously. I remember canceling all my medical school interviews, nearly wrecking my marriage, and basically trashing my finances while in the worst of my Dark Night period just to go on retreat, as I couldn't really care about anything else. Once I got stream entry, suddenly I could engage with the world again, hold down a job, reapplied to medical school, was able to pursue studies well again, was much more tolerable in my relationship, etc.

Have you checked out the section on the middle ñanas in my book? It can be helpful, found in the chapter on the Progress of Insight in the writings or blook section of www.interactivebuddha.com. Also check out Jack Kornfield's A Path with Heart in the section on Dissolving the Self. Most importantly, don't permamently screw up anything you will want intact later when you are out of this. Be kind whenever possible. As monkeymind aptly notes, physical exercise can help.

I am glad this discussion is happening, as this is a key topic. If you can handle the Dark Night well, the rest is gravy.
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
Daniel, I don't disagree with you at all. I do currently feel a great deal of disappointment and frustration when I am unable to find adequate time for formal meditation, like this morning; the past several weeks have been a lesson for me in how relatively hopeless seeking any other outlet is. So I will clarify.

I do tend to think that it's okay to use psychiatric terms here, so long as it's clear that they're provisional means, rather than the ends. It seems pretty clear to me that all manner of cognitive phenomena, depression and dysthymia, etc., is going on, so at least on a relative level, it does make some sense to use that approach to keep one's shit together, especially with work and relationships, etc. But again this is all provisional.
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Thank you all for your comments!
nathan28: Your post really helps due to the fact that I really am exaggerating with the things I love. I have always been this way and sometimes I find it very helpful to be stopped, even in a straightforward manner. Baring this in mind I am still certain about the way I chose, e.g. intensive practise.
Tracy, I understand you so much! Something of your "deepest-held value of discovering the true nature of existence before I die" is bubbling up to the surface like a tidal wave, though I might still have some time left since I´m 20. And don´t worry the Baby in the Photo is and will always be the center of my life.
Daniel: I´m quite surprised about your suggestion of me being Dark Nighting, because I´m not sure if I have already passed the A&P event. Neither do I remember experiencing the 2-3 unknown events somewhere down the outbreath nor being able to percive about 40 sensations per sec, though it tends to get quite chaotic ( about 20) and I feel a decreased need for sleep and food.
The point of the physical exercise is really interesting since I have been practising traditional Kung Fu for about half of my life and without having known it cultivated the first two jhanas...
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
But the focus is entirely on relaxation and subtle bodyawareness, so I end up getting into insight territory quite often. I guess it can´t be helped...I will have to think seriously about going to retreat this year. And thank you for the book recommendation, Daniel. I will check it out and reread the related stuff in your book.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I can't speak for Daniel here, but I would just share that if you get too caught up with the descriptions of the map, or hold them too tightly (as I did) it will be hard to correlate the territory with the maps. It's possible to err on the side of thinking you've covered territory you haven't (which many people do) but it's also very possible to err on the other side, which you might be doing now.

I didn't realize that I had passed the A&P (twice actually) until I was able to sit down with a very skilled teacher and have them point it out. I had this idea that the territory would be way more intense, clear, or some such thing due to my interpretation of the maps. It seems quite possible that you are in the Dark Night, and that was my first thought as well when I read your post.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 19 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Exactly. I'd like to echo what Vince just said - and thanks, Vince. I would suggest, as I've learned from my own very modest experience, that it's better not to jump to any conclusions. Have patience. "Wait and see" is a really, really good piece of advice in the practice. The passing of time and your own sense of how you perceive the world is the best way to map your progress against the territory.
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
In my experience retreat really intensifies the side-effects and makes a lot of the details listed far more noticeable. But in the meantime it's not practical to worry about which vipassana jhana one's going through. Than. Bhikku has a talk written down somewhere on Access to Insight about how it encourages self-reliance to not get so caught up with worrying about where one is, rather than what one should do... if you were trying to beat a path through a jungle, it might be helpful to know that the vines in one region are very thick, or that there's a lot of poisonous plants in another, but that doesn't really have much impact on the fact that you just have to keep moving. That, and retreat of any length is going to intensify all the side effects that serve as markers.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: woman_alone

In keeping with Florian's original thoughts, I'm also going through that period of "ungroundedness". It seems that now, whenever my mind is not pre-occupied with other things, in the moments between thoughts, my mind just shifts into meditation mode of its own account. Everything slows down and I kind of lift off. The result is that I'm a lot less talkative and more detached/objective about everything. I also find myself saying no (sincerely) when people finish a sentence with "you know?" - somehow I instinctively am no longer able to make assumptions about friends and family. My husband has been looking at me strangely, but I told him straight out that it might get a little different when I started on this path.

As for the suggestions for grounding, I find it interesting that exercise is recommended, because after exercise is when I fall into this "ungroundedness" most easily. Like mai88 and Kung Fu the exercise tends to focus my attention, which carries over nicely into meditation practice. Similarly eating heavily is out for me. I don't know if others have found this, but food sensitivities are crystal clear now. Once I started meditating heavily it was perfectly obvious what foods my body didn't like - wheat, dairy, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, alcohol. Not only that but it's also impossible to overeat. I think it's about how much clearer the body's signals are - I can't ignore or over-ride them. That being said, if I back off on the meditation practice after a few days this fades and I can eat whatever. Anyone else finding this?
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago.

RE: Staying down-to-earth

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Thanks again everybody! I think it´s a really good idea not to take the maps literally and of coure just keep practising. I would really love to go on a retreat but since I´m a 20-year-old student with a 17 month old son and quite some responsibility helping to teach Kung Fu everyday, too, it is really difficult. My Idea is to do some solitary retreats whenever there is a day which allows me to do so. On the other hand I honestly find my practise grow exponentially even with my regular sits.
To woman_alone: Concerning your comments on the food, I find the sensation of being hungry very much decreased but when it comes to a celebration when there is loads of food I could eat without the notion of being full untill dawn. Really strange. I´ve got the notion of being really confident and calm, too. Which is quite new for me.

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