Living in the Dark Night

Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 1:10 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 1:10 AM

Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi DhO,

I have a friend who has crossed the A&P several times over the past couple of years, but who refuses to do any sort of meditation. Her fear comes from being with me during my "fall from grace" and her general fear of anything unfamiliar. Time and time again I hear her describing dark night territory, and it's really screwing up her life and mine due to it leaking out all over the place. Despite how demystified I present it, or by telling her that she's perpetually living in some of the worst of it "right now," she will not budge.

So my question to all of you are: what would you do in this situation? The dark nights I passed through were extremely painful, but also extremely quick; for those of you who have spent months in this territory, what did you find helped you that was not meditation related? Also, she is a little bit interested in Qi focused practices; is there any sort of tradition that works with this sort of territory but does not involve sitting on a cushion?

Thanks a million,
Trent
beta wave, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 2:17 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 2:17 AM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Trent, I hope this helps. I'm writing it probably from the midst of the Dark Night -- albeit the weight has mostly lifted -- so it might not have the clairty of someone that has a bigger perspective.

So, maybe a few things... The first thing is let her know what the goal is. Daniel's phrasing is one of the best:

"Fear can be frightening and fun... Misery can be miserable and fun... Disgust can be disgusting and fun."

In the middle of the dark night, especially if it has "hell realm" intensity, _anything_ can trigger the darkness. So trying to find psychological cures or techniques fail and the person know that -- which is one reason why they might not want help. But they need to know that they can ride out the energy and not get beat up by it. In my opinion, that should be the ultimate goal.

[Aside: The six realm teaching helped me a lot (as written in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism). Because there are general psychological contexts that these energies play themselves out in... and each has a strength and weakness which is useful to understand. Also in the worst of the Dark Night, they will in Hell then rapidly move to the God Realms... Which can be destablizing. Knowing the landscape helps. The goal is to stabilize in the human realm, the realm of basic sensitivity and basic decision making. (And to try and be more humble the further away from human the mood is.) I guess this is kind of a intermediate goal.]
beta wave, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 2:20 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 2:20 AM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
The last thing I would suggest is to get practice riding out the energy of the emotions. Maybe this can be done through the Qi focus (feel the emotion move through the body), such as standing meditation. Make sure that there is a mix of awareness exercises and physical exertion exercise. The former is for awareness, but it can build up psychological "pressure". Plain old exercise helps let go of that pressure.

Probably the hardest part of this is finding an environment where she feels she can safely ride out that energy. When I was in the worst of it, I felt way too vunerable to do that in most situations. Good old western psychology can really help, too.

I found the dark night to be very purifying and humbling, ultimately. It would have been less costly if I had been a more humble person. (Still working on it.)

Hope this helps.
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 2:31 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 2:31 AM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
It's difficult to say what you can do at this point other than what you have already been doing. Since your relationship with her is friendship, be the best damn friend to her that you can. If she's struggling and needs to talk, check in with her. Ask her how she's doing. Empathize often, and ask before you start giving advice. It can be painful to watch someone that you care about deal with something that you know how to work through.

I know nothing of Qi focused practices, but if she's interested in them, and you want to help her out, than I think you're doing the right thing by looking in to it for her. She may not have the energy to do so at this point.
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 11:51 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 11:51 AM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Ant_808

I spent most of 2008 living in dark night... not pleasant, but i feel like my meditation has matured a lot becasue of it.

I agree with betawave in the idea of riding the dark stuff out. For me the staying with it till the end (not that i always did), seeing the pain come, stay and eventually go was what helped me see the impermance of the dark stuff. Even though sometime it would come up again and again and go one for days at a time. However I think meditation was what helped me to stay with it mindfully during the times outside of meditation. So yeah, not much help unless you convince her just to sit a little bit and find out more about her aversion to sitting and try to work around that.

I also practice Tai Chi. It is a form of moving mediation that can concentrate the mind and relax the body. I would say it's worth a shot a getting her into some Tai Chi classes.

All the best
Anthony
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Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 11:54 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 11:54 AM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Ant_808

Oh yeah... I have to say reading this forum has had to be one of the most important factors in getting through this stage for me. Has she been on here?
Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 1:23 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 1:23 PM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Anthony, she just isn't interested (which imo is one more byproduct of feeling like hell all the time, largely of this very thing). I imagine the response to "why don't you meditate" would be similar if you walked up to any stranger on the street and said "hey, wanna meditate?" Haha. Anyhow, the Tai Chi thing definitely sounds like something worth looking into.

Thanks for all the responses fellas, helps me see some things in a different light and I will for sure try to make use of your advice.
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triple think, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 6:16 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 6:16 PM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Has also helped with nasty nanas, given all of the above isn't it.

If the harshness is mostly feelings of the sensate kind then any sort of in the moment body and consciousness activity that suits her well. Simple and leading to greater precision so any kind of physical thing from walking to singing, et al.

If the feeling is more of the conceptual kind, ie. relationships, issues, etc.. Then I recommend a journal. This is one of the best ways to blow out that content. Tell her to just pick up pen and paper and go. No plan. Sometimes it helps to begin with addressing another known person sometimes not. Later any other 2nd, 3rd, etc. POV and it can be increasingly beneficial to do so. Also, just keep writing until it is all out and there is relief. She will be shocked what she has to say. So, it is good to have someone to act in the receiver role but have the intention that it will never be 'sent'.

Also compassion practices.
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triple think, modified 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 6:32 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/23/09 6:32 PM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
One more thing you can do more to help with. Break from the base or ground. If she is home a lot, then take her out. If she is in the city take her to the country. If she is busy find some stillness. If she is alone get her into an arena crowd, etc. Spend a day in another kind of environment entirely or regular periods of some kind that break appropriately with the ongoing conditions and introduce different conditions. Be attentive, see what works. It isn't much but in another environment she may open up internally or externally in new or more beneficial ways.

I realize my input is pretty mundane but we can overlook that all to easily.
beta wave, modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 8:10 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 8:10 AM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Wow, this is a great great point! Exactly what is needed from a friend.

I may have finally got this through my thick skull, but the main problem of the Dark Night is building an identity around those negative experiences of the Dark Night. It's attractive proposition because one thing that seems constant are the negative events, so why not just accept that "that's who you are"? It's sometimes harder to remember that there was someone that "comes before" those experiences. (So to speak, of course.)

Having a friend remind you of the other aspects of your self/personality/life -- breaking up that strict identification with the negative -- does miracles.

Thanks again triplethink!
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Abingdon , modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 10:38 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 10:38 AM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 53 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Trent,

Just a question out of curiosity, and feel free to ignore it if you think it's too personal or inappropriate (and forgive me if so!) -- since she doesn't meditate, what do you attribute to getting her across the A&P and kicking her into DN territory? It might be relevant to other folks in similar situations....

Cheers!
Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 12:45 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 12:45 PM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Thanks again for the replies guys.

Abingdon, although your question is not inappropriate or too personal, I'm going to stay silent on that for other reasons. Sorry man. If you think you crossed the A&P due to "something else" prior to meditation and want to PM me in reference to that, I would not mind saying whether or not it was the same circumstance, but that's the best I can do.
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Abingdon , modified 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 1:45 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/25/09 1:45 PM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 53 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Sorry -- I certainly didn't mean to pry! :-)
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triple think, modified 13 Years ago at 2/26/09 12:41 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 2/26/09 12:41 AM

RE: Living in the Dark Night

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Sweet! I'm glad you understand. When you both find something and together that you really appreciate the joy will be healthy stuff to investigate as well. Sometimes a little light is all we need to see ourselves, oops, ha, see the way out of a very dark place. I see the way out here as appreciation, kindness, compassion and then we have equanimity. All the best.

Thank you for caring.