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Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?

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Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/4/13 6:54 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 8/4/13 5:39 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Change A. 8/4/13 5:50 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 8/4/13 8:19 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Change A. 8/4/13 8:48 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 8/4/13 9:19 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Change A. 8/4/13 9:36 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 8/4/13 9:54 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Change A. 8/4/13 10:05 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/4/13 10:52 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Daniel M. Ingram 8/6/13 1:43 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? This Good Self 8/6/13 8:26 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Adam . . 8/6/13 9:00 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? This Good Self 8/7/13 1:16 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Colleen Peltomaa 6/28/14 7:15 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Eva Nie 6/28/14 7:46 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/4/13 6:48 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/4/13 6:46 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Change A. 8/4/13 7:14 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? M N 8/5/13 2:30 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Fitter Stoke 8/5/13 10:33 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 8/5/13 10:50 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/14/13 9:19 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Fitter Stoke 8/15/13 8:16 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? M N 8/15/13 11:52 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 10/12/13 6:36 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Fitter Stoke 8/17/13 4:30 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 9/1/13 12:07 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? . Jake . 8/5/13 1:24 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Adam . . 8/5/13 7:21 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Sleeping Buddha Syndrome 8/5/13 7:54 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? PP 8/6/13 8:17 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? : ladyfrog : 8/6/13 2:10 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/31/13 9:33 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Tom Tom 8/6/13 6:02 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/14/13 10:30 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Tom Tom 8/15/13 7:24 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/16/13 6:41 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/16/13 7:08 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/17/13 3:17 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Banned For waht? 8/18/13 4:34 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Tom Tom 8/17/13 5:20 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/17/13 3:26 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Tom Tom 8/17/13 6:49 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/18/13 2:10 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Tom Tom 8/18/13 2:33 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/18/13 11:55 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 9/1/13 12:39 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? sawfoot _ 8/16/13 4:16 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/16/13 7:00 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? sawfoot _ 8/17/13 4:02 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 8/17/13 3:28 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Banned For waht? 8/17/13 2:51 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? M N 8/18/13 10:16 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Bruno Loff 9/1/13 12:17 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 9/8/13 2:03 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 10/12/13 6:06 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 10/12/13 6:12 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 10/13/13 11:27 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 10/13/13 10:23 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Bruno Loff 10/13/13 2:12 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 10/13/13 10:01 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Bruno Loff 10/14/13 2:24 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 10/14/13 8:13 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 6/25/14 8:11 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Eric M W 6/25/14 9:02 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 6/25/14 9:20 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 6/25/14 10:08 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 6/25/14 10:26 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 6/25/14 10:38 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Richard Zen 6/25/14 11:47 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Eva Nie 6/26/14 12:50 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Dada Kind 6/26/14 1:58 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Eva Nie 6/26/14 12:02 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Dada Kind 6/26/14 2:18 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Eva Nie 6/27/14 12:38 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 6/27/14 10:58 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? x x 6/27/14 6:29 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Jenny 6/27/14 11:11 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Eva Nie 6/28/14 12:10 AM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? x x 6/28/14 6:04 PM
RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down? Banned For waht? 11/21/15 7:08 AM
Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
equanimity anxiety dark night re-observation mental breakdowns waves migraine auras
Answer
8/4/13 6:54 PM
Hey, guys. I’m new and wanted to come into this forum more gradually, but I find I need some triage. Incredibly, I just lost a post I spent hours writing while trying to fend off “wave” vibrations that have me, um, starting to freak the hell out, frankly. I can barely see to type, for example. Basically, I’m now going to have to cut and paste a clumsier background and skip some things for now, including a description of an OOB experience I had around age 18. Apologies, but triage is triage. I’ll backfill later—if I survive, heh heh.

I started meditating and identifying myself as a Buddhist only 2 years ago (after 25 years as an atheist existentialist) in an effort to cope with pervasive fear and an odd sensitivity to the edginess surrounding pleasures that I felt I just "flitted" to and from. I experienced raptures and fireworks lights (like shards of mirrors) after only my first sit or three, and after only 10 minutes. I seem to have a low threshold for crossing over into altered states and seeing everything as not solid. It hasn't always been convenient.

My immediate concern is that I’ve stumbled into vipassana territory I am not ready for or practiced nearly enough to push up through precisely to higher stages. I’m worried I’m risking a meltdown. Yet I feel trapped, like I can’t go back now and simply dwell in samatha. I wasn’t carelessly disregarding my medical history; this just happened. I’m sure now that I’ve been DN cycling most of my life. I want peace.

Briefly, I have a history of anxiety/depression (no episode since 1999, though) and, more disturbing and impactful to my life, vivid complex migraine auras that often include full-blown hallucinations, panic states, and neurological deficits that amount to loss of all but the strangely surviving and struggling-to-survive Observer. This is a rare but well-documented form of migraine diagnosed at UNC Hospitals back in the late eighties. My son has a version that is milder on the aura side, but heavier on the headache side, not really complex but classic textbook. I only rarely get actual headache, which is why diagnosis was so difficult back in the day. It used to be known as basilar-artery migraine and hemiplegic migraine, which are poorly sorted diagnostically. Most just say “complicated migraine variant.”

I'm sure I crossed the A&P (again) last weekend and have been experiencing irritation/fear states (along with vibratory and "boiling" vision all this past workweek). I had a short Misery thing Tuesday at work, though nothing in my life was making me miserable. As best I can make out, I entered Reobservation Thursday or Friday, if not earlier.

Yesterday afternoon, at a coffeehouse, things shifted. The fine, irritating, furious vibes (mainly visual) suddenly morphed into much bigger “macro” waves of undulating distortions, like fabric on a slow but crazy breeze. Very LSD. They, like the finer layer of vibrations, never stop, even in my nighttime dreams, which remain ridiculously lucid and suddenly a bit powers-y (last night I was making other people do things in my dreams, just for perverse fun). These big waves are even more obtrusive off the cushion than the irritation vibrations were, making me barely able to read as I sit here and queasy as if seasick. I want them to frigging stop! I’m now experiencing some anxiety spikes because I can’t control them and need to get some work done for my new job! Everything is “breathing,” but in distorted, house-of-mirrors ways I’m emphatically not enjoying.

Triage suggestions anyone? Or will I have to resort to lorazepam, rolling up the mat, and hanging on for dear life and sanity? I thought the waves meant I had hit EQ, so I meditated last night diligently, but this doesn’t feel nice or even neutral. I don’t even want to be conscious for this, let alone practice. What should I do? And is there hope I can hit a nicer version of something soon?

HISTORY OF MIGRAINE AND PROLONGED NEUROLOGICAL DEFICITS

I had my first altered experience of consciousness at age 12, in an overheated crowded church while singing a hymn and staring at the cross above the altar. I suddenly experienced a "rain" of bright sparkling white lights, altered sound (everyone sounded plunged under bass-booming water), loss of perception of body fields, profound numbness, loss of speech, a plunge into slow-mo, and more (ie, less sense of even being there). This event was later diagnosed as complex migraine aura. My family has always joked that it was a religious experience. Now I wonder.

I'm 49 now and have sometimes been disabled for months with these migraine attacks (though less so since the last bad one in 2007). I would experience radically altered states of consciousness that are difficult to convey but not at all subtle in experience. These involved shimmering lights (common migraine fortification spectra), total blindness in the center of vision only, distorted or absent body fields, profound numbness, left-sided paralysis, slurred speech, loss of the ability to think in or understand language, uncontrollable twitching and body movements, and so on. These attacks usually began with a visceral fear state (terror, really) that suddenly arose from my gut into my mouth. It was much the way you feel when an elevator drops too rapidly and your heart is in your mouth.

I had the last big one of these during a vacation in the Smoky Mountains in 2007. I had been well for a long time. Suddenly, a particularly bad attack came on, proceeded by extreme vertigo (I lay down on the floor for stability, but the room was spinning). It went on for hours. At its worst, I was screaming because I was "experiencing" utter annihilation. I was yelling to my husband, "I'm disappearing! I'm disappearing! I'll never come back!" Just real terror like you can't imagine--the observer was there only to witness the impending destruction of even itself. All sense of body and most of mind were turning off. I was struggling at all costs to maintain a self.

I was eventually diagnosed but not before suffering extremely for decades and often feeling I was literally losing my frigging mind. In fact I suffered 3 nervous breakdowns because of the poorly controlled migraine condition and was then also diagnosed with severe agitated MDD. Phobias emerged also around travel, because of the migraine disease.

OTHER HISTORY STUFF YOU SHOULD PROBABLY KNOW

At age 19, trauma induced two weeks of hallucinations. I witnessed my mother have a seizure and turn blue and stop breathing. I “saved” her when I bolted up out of sleep after hearing her fall. When we returned from the hospital, I was drawing a bath and went through a white light tunnel, thinking, “Oh, a migraine.” When I emerged, for a couple of weeks, everything I looked at that was organic died and rotted to nothing before my eyes: fruit, people, whatever. Music was broken down into its individual notes, and was painful to listen to, as if each chord was a tactile lashing. The music sounded discordant. It was the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced and not easily forgotten. I was rational, too, and knew that I was "just seeing things" and "just hearing things." But I couldn't stop it, until I went in for hypnotherapy, finally got to sleep again, woke up, and it had all just completely stopped. This happened 30 years ago, and it still haunts me.

I also around the same time experienced leaving my body/viewpoint, as if a mirror flipped into outer space and I was seeing myself and a friend from the other side. It was rapturous and time was passing. I felt like I could keep going and never “come back.” I remembered my loved ones, though, contracted, and flipped back into my body state and POV.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 5:39 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Understand that random Buddhist people on a forum are not going to be able to prevent your disorders from happening and you will have to go to doctors or psychiatrists to get clinical help (which you seem to have done so already). What many of us won't know is if vipassana (especially if you are practising it badly) will add to your migraines or not. What if you have migraines and you blame the meditation but it was just your condition? You can definitely just stop meditating altogether and that will really slow down insight.

So do you see what I mean? Look at your post and think of a normal meditation practitioner (including an advanced one) trying to parse out what is your biological/mental problems and what is meditation related. How would we know if you really did go through reobservation when it was something else? I would talk to a psychiatrist and ask him/her if meditation is okay for you because how would any of us here know without being your doctor? Most meditators on this board have anxiety/phobias/mild depression. For many they had to meditate to quite an advanced level to be even able to deal with depression permanently. They also had to take medication while meditating.

Sorry if this is not what you wanted to hear. If anyone else knows how to answer this post better than me please do so!

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 5:50 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
I would talk to a psychiatrist and ask him/her if meditation is okay for you because how would any of us here know without being your doctor?


Without that psychiatrist being a meditator himself/herself, how would he/she know if meditation would help this lady with her condition?

FWIW, I used to have migraines myself as a child and they have gone away. Meditation did the trick.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 6:48 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
A psychiatrist could in no way help me navigate tricky meditation territory, which is what I'm asking about. I'm under the continuous care of a board-certified neurologist for my migraines, thank you, and he happens to be board certified in psychiatry, too. Are you suggesting that I might get a helpful response from him if I call him up and tell him I'm seeing reality as distorted wave formations? Really??? Don't you think it more likely that I'll be admitted to a psych ward and shot full of thorazine and then lose my new job? Not too bloody helpful, I'd say.

Migraine isn't a psychiatric disorder, and I'm not currently suffering any degree of depression. So why in the world would I make an appointment to see a psych? I've never found much use for psychiatrists or psychologists even when it did come to garden-variety depression, which, as I say, I haven't suffered from since 1999. Samatha practice cured my phobias where nothing else helped at all.

I gave my background to show that I'm really in this territory and have a low threshold for wildness. I'm not asking you or anyone here to medicalize what is happening to me or to offer medical diagnosis/treatment. I'm asking for dharma-savy and compassionate suggestions on navigating this tough practice territory and diagnosing "where I am" on the maps (re-obs?). It isn't my "fault" I stumbled into this territory. I'm trying to make clear that I have a propensity to stumble into wild rides while simultaneously not being an experienced, precise meditator. I'm asking for dharma suggestions, particularly since it is hard for me to read books at the moment with everything undulating.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 6:46 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
So let me ask things this way:

1. Is it within the "normal" range for vipassana practitioners to see the fabric of reality (or whatev.) as undulating waves continuously, even off the cushion, such that it is difficult to even read or work? Or have none of you ever heard of this?

2. Since I'm finding this unpleasant, am I definitely not in any stage of EQ?

3. If I'm still in re-obs, does anyone know why I might have experienced a sudden shift yesterday out of fine-grained fast vibrations into this more globular, warping macro vision? (And this is almost wholly visual; auditorily, I'm still hearing a high, fast ringing, but it isn't too bothersome.)

Thanks.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 7:14 PM as a reply to Jenny.
You should work on your throat chakra. You may try these simple exercises.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 8:19 PM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
Richard Zen:
I would talk to a psychiatrist and ask him/her if meditation is okay for you because how would any of us here know without being your doctor?


Without that psychiatrist being a meditator himself/herself, how would he/she know if meditation would help this lady with her condition?

FWIW, I used to have migraines myself as a child and they have gone away. Meditation did the trick.


That's great you think you've cured migraines with meditation but is this really scientific (do you actually know this for a fact?) and is giving other people with migraines (PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW) a possible false hope that their condition was the same as yours and will be cured just the same not a problem?

This along with those Ruthless Truth people talking about cancer and AIDS being cured is more examples of what not to profess from supposed advanced practitioners.

Jen Pearly:
A psychiatrist could in no way help me navigate tricky meditation territory, which is what I'm asking about. I'm under the continuous care of a board-certified neurologist for my migraines, thank you, and he happens to be board certified in psychiatry, too. Are you suggesting that I might get a helpful response from him if I call him up and tell him I'm seeing reality as distorted wave formations? Really??? Don't you think it more likely that I'll be admitted to a psych ward and shot full of thorazine and then lose my new job? Not too bloody helpful, I'd say.


Jen Pearly:
Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?


Which is it? Do you want to continue meditating or to slow it down? If you're seeing things that is not practice related you should go to a doctor.

Jen Pearly:
Migraine isn't a psychiatric disorder, and I'm not currently suffering any degree of depression. So why in the world would I make an appointment to see a psych? I've never found much use for psychiatrists or psychologists even when it did come to garden-variety depression, which, as I say, I haven't suffered from since 1999. Samatha practice cured my phobias where nothing else helped at all.


That's great you did that and meditation does help with how your thoughts affect you. That's all it does. If you see things and it's happening without your control I wouldn't expect that meditation would cure it unless it was a habitual thought pattern you wanted to atrophy with practice. Daniel Ingram talks about getting massive headaches during the dark night and I don't want to be responsible for giving advice that will cause you more problems.

Jen Pearly:
I gave my background to show that I'm really in this territory and have a low threshold for wildness. I'm not asking you or anyone here to medicalize what is happening to me or to offer medical diagnosis/treatment. I'm asking for dharma-savy and compassionate suggestions on navigating this tough practice territory and diagnosing "where I am" on the maps (re-obs?). It isn't my "fault" I stumbled into this territory. I'm trying to make clear that I have a propensity to stumble into wild rides while simultaneously not being an experienced, precise meditator. I'm asking for dharma suggestions, particularly since it is hard for me to read books at the moment with everything undulating.


I'm sorry I'm not going to take your word for it that you ARE in this territory. Do you know how many people make claims that end up not being true about their practice? EVERYONE. We all make mistakes and we need to go over this territory again and again. If you're having so many vibrations and seeing things that aren't real that you can't read books how would I proceed? I'm glad you don't want us to medicalize you but you say you aren't depressed and don't have phobias so then all that's left is anxious thoughts to take care of. Pretty much everything else is debatable on what meditation would actually do or not do. Real practice takes years to advance when you're doing it properly.

When you have insight you don't lose it. You can stop meditation but if you keep seeing things arising and passing away you won't be able to stop noticing it. Insight practice makes you go through withdrawal symptoms (dark night/dukkha nanas/etc) from letting go rumination over likes and dislikes. That's it! That's all it does that we know for sure. If you don't have depression or phobias then what is your goal?

Jen Pearly:
So let me ask things this way:

1. Is it within the "normal" range for vipassana practitioners to see the fabric of reality (or whatev.) as undulating waves continuously, even off the cushion, such that it is difficult to even read or work? Or have none of you ever heard of this?

2. Since I'm finding this unpleasant, am I definitely not in any stage of EQ?

3. If I'm still in re-obs, does anyone know why I might have experienced a sudden shift yesterday out of fine-grained fast vibrations into this more globular, warping macro vision? (And this is almost wholly visual; auditorily, I'm still hearing a high, fast ringing, but it isn't too bothersome.)

Thanks.


1. I've gone through A & P and the dark night and see fine vibrations and some undulations but not as severe as you but if you look at Daniel Ingram's book on the A&P and the suffering knowledges you'll see that different people get different results. Some go through the rough patches easier and faster than others. Whilloughby Britton is studying the effects of the dark night.

The Dark Side of Dharma

2. EQ is when impulses from perceptions of likes and dislikes arise and pass away with less clinging (clinging = ruminating about likes and dislikes). Some like to say it's less sticky. You feel very okay and your mind is still and it's child like and peaceful. Lots of clarity. You get through the dark night the same as everyone else. You keep practicing and it will return even if you get into equanimity has a baseline habit. It just will be less and less debilitating over time.

3. I have no idea. emoticon I'm sure some people here might pretend they do.

If you want to see precise practice I would say that Daniel's sticky is a good way to look at maps so you don't get attached to them.

Hierarchy of Vipassana Practice

Gil Fronsdal Noting

My post may not seem compassionate but I don't want people to have unreasonable expectations of what it can do because I don't want them to be disappointed.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 8:48 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
That's great you think you've cured migraines with meditation but is this really scientific (do you actually know this for a fact?) and is giving other people with migraines (PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW) a possible false hope that their condition was the same as yours and will be cured just the same not a problem?

This along with those Ruthless Truth people talking about cancer and AIDS being cured is more examples of what not to profess from supposed advanced practitioners.


At a certain point during the practice, my headaches returned and I could either stop them or bring them back at will. If this can happen in my case, then it can happen to other people as well. So I'm not giving a possible false hope but a true hope. Of course, this may not be true for everyone but for some it may well be.

I have never talked about cancer and AIDS being cured from meditation.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 9:19 PM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
Richard Zen:
That's great you think you've cured migraines with meditation but is this really scientific (do you actually know this for a fact?) and is giving other people with migraines (PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW) a possible false hope that their condition was the same as yours and will be cured just the same not a problem?

This along with those Ruthless Truth people talking about cancer and AIDS being cured is more examples of what not to profess from supposed advanced practitioners.


At a certain point during the practice, my headaches returned and I could either stop them or bring them back at will. If this can happen in my case, then it can happen to other people as well. So I'm not giving a possible false hope but a true hope. Of course, this may not be true for everyone but for some it may well be.

I have never talked about cancer and AIDS being cured from meditation.


Read my post. I was taking about the direct pointing people (Ruthless Truth etc). Curing a migraine at will is AWESOME. But is this something that will translate to others? To me it's almost as bad as promising cures for more serious diseases with meditation. It's just the sort of thing we need to avoid. It's okay to talk about what happened to you because you are speaking for yourself but it does not translate that it will happen to someone else. I hope it does but it doesn't rest on hope. It rests on what actually happens to that individual. If she continues to meditate instead of slowing it down and it actually happens then great. If not then hopefully there are other benefits to be found.

We (yes I'm including myself) need to be careful and understand what instructors go through. They meet all kinds of people from all walks of life and only a percentage of them will get something of major value out of meditation. Daniel's book goes into great detail with it and so does Bill Hamilton's. There have also been people who have practiced badly and got weird results. Of course the person giving the advise gets the blame.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 9:36 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Read my post. I was taking about the direct pointing people (Ruthless Truth etc). Curing a migraine at will is AWESOME. But is this something that will translate to others? To me it's almost as bad as promising cures for more serious diseases with meditation. It's just the sort of thing we need to avoid. It's okay to talk about what happened to you because you are speaking for yourself but it does not translate that it will happen to someone else. I hope it does but it doesn't rest on hope. It rests on what actually happens to that individual. If she continues to meditate instead of slowing it down and it actually happens then great. If not then hopefully there are other benefits to be found.

We (yes I'm including myself) need to be careful and understand what instructors go through. They meet all kinds of people from all walks of life and only a percentage of them will get something of major value out of meditation. Daniel's book goes into great detail with it and so does Bill Hamilton's. There have also been people who have practiced badly and got weird results. Of course the person giving the advise gets the blame.


I don't think that I need to avoid talking about it. If you think that way, then you may do as you wish. I'm doing what I think is ok. I know that what happened for myself may not translate that it will happen to someone else but it may as well happen.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 9:54 PM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
Richard Zen:
Read my post. I was taking about the direct pointing people (Ruthless Truth etc). Curing a migraine at will is AWESOME. But is this something that will translate to others? To me it's almost as bad as promising cures for more serious diseases with meditation. It's just the sort of thing we need to avoid. It's okay to talk about what happened to you because you are speaking for yourself but it does not translate that it will happen to someone else. I hope it does but it doesn't rest on hope. It rests on what actually happens to that individual. If she continues to meditate instead of slowing it down and it actually happens then great. If not then hopefully there are other benefits to be found.

We (yes I'm including myself) need to be careful and understand what instructors go through. They meet all kinds of people from all walks of life and only a percentage of them will get something of major value out of meditation. Daniel's book goes into great detail with it and so does Bill Hamilton's. There have also been people who have practiced badly and got weird results. Of course the person giving the advise gets the blame.


I don't think that I need to avoid talking about it. If you think that way, then you may do as you wish. I'm doing what I think is ok. I know that what happened for myself may not translate that it will happen to someone else but it may as well happen.


Jen Pearly:
I am new here and had just posted a thread because I'm def. one of these DNYs. I've now "stumbled" into territory that is beginning to freak me out. Basically, I'm seeing (this is mainly visual) these waves with distortions off the cushion and on, and I can't make it stop. I've been good-natured about it for 24 hours now, but, um, I have some work to do and can barely read. I feel seasick, too, from the nonstop undulations. I emphatically did not buy a ticket for this particular ride; nonetheless, here I am, so now what?

It's nice to have/give warnings but what good practical good will a warning do if one has been cycling unwittingly in chaos since age 12? I would have loved and preferred to stay in salubrious calm abiding states once I found them 2 years ago, but I seem through biological makeup or early traumas or X to have been constituted with a low threshold for crossing over into "altered" consciousness, against my will, even during calm abiding sessions. How do I stop now seeing things as they are? I can't turn back, can I? My only diagnoses have been migraine with complicated prolonged aura and, later, major depressive disorder. My migraines are neurological rather than psychiatric but involve radically altered states, including the self disappearing. Since all warnings are too late and were for me unnavigable even when they weren't, what now?

May we all know peace and may I find a way to stop or slow down this ride.


Well do as you may. Have fun "curing" that.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 10:05 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
I wish someone could have told me about meditation earlier without me having to stumble upon it.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/4/13 10:52 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen,

Thank you. It looks like there may be some helpful ways to apply noting to my current unease with the undulations, which still haven't stopped, though I'm "okay" about them for the time being, reasoning that indulging in fear is definitely not going to be helpful in any way.

I've read MCTB twice very recently, as well as much else by Ingram on his site and in videos, and did read that hierarchy earlier today, which will help me more long-term. I wasn't being a cowgirl and ramming myself into a practice I wasn't ready for with false bravado. I know that I'm fragile.

I understand why you would remain skeptical that I was in any particular place on Daniel's maps, and I do know and have read here that much more experienced people make mistakes, but I'm going to go ahead and say any old way that I'm sure I had the A&P Event last weekend. I had all the signs: up all night meditating with no pain, lucid dreaming for the past 2 months peaking at this time, vibratory glowing states while meditating in my dreams, clear experiences of phenomena rising and passing away during the all-night meditation, an incredible zealous clarity and high the next day--and then subsequent fear, misery (which was just about a half hour), disgust, and repulsion over meditating all during the workweek. I have had all the peripheral vibrations this past week, too, the very rapid vibrations. Then yesterday the downshift happened and the wider, slower undulations began (off the cushion and then on). While meditating last night, it seemed as if a spot on the carpet was stretching and changing shape 3D and then my hands felt connected with it somehow (I couldn't actually feel my hands, though, so it was sort of like they disappeared). I started questioning where intention was located.

I know how it sounds, my being a newbie and an ignoramus and all, and I know it seems like I shouldn't be able to have an A&P after only 2 years of fairly brief practice sessions. Honestly, though, people do stumble into this stuff without having had any practice at all. I'm one of those people. I had no goal that took me to these vibratory things, and certainly not to be enlightened. I started meditating to gain better control over my conventional suffering (ie, learn how to concentrate,calm myself down, and not spin out and indulge in anxiety escalations). That goal has been met to a large extent, though refinement and continued practice seem in order. What I have seen of the Three Characteristics I've just seen since at least the time I was an adolescent. I wasn't "trying" to see this stuff. It's reality, after all--so is it impossible that it would show itself to those not necessarily articulating to themselves that they were looking for it? And, yes, a lot of direct experience of not-self was through migraine aura. It is completely irrelevant, isn't it, that aura taught me things that hallucinogens or precise practice teach others? Much better to be precise with a practice and go in deliberately, yes, which is why I'm here now--especially since there seems no real turning back.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/5/13 2:30 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Hi!

I think it might be useful to know what meditation tecnique you are using, and how much do you meditate every day, both on and off the cushion.

It seems to me that saying that you are in DN territory is a safe working assumption, expecially because of the previous A&P signs, vibrations going on and peripherical kind of attention.

What you describe is a bit extreme, but there are, as you said, people who are hightly sensitive to theese things.

I don't know about you shifting to EQ; I can only tell what you probably already know, wich is that cycling up and down on daily basis is normal, and the more you practice the more you get familiar with theese stage-shifts, and eventually the DN-EQ shift will be obvious to you as now the A&P-DN shift is.
I'm not used to the intensity that you describe, but all of my EQ-DN shifts were marked by a sense that "all of the sudden everything is not painful anymore (it can be both in the sense "pain is gone" and "pain is not bothering me")", and I think that should apply to you as well.

Bye!

edited once

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/5/13 10:33 AM as a reply to Jenny.
OK. I read your whole original post but not all the follow-ups - since a lot of them seem to have gotten off-track anyway - so I apologize if I'm repeating something someone already said.

What's your current practice? What exactly are you doing when you sit down to meditate? How often are you doing it (how many days a week), and for how long (how many minutes/hrs each day)?

I think it's relatively rare for people to experience what you're experiencing in connection with meditation, and given your history of migraines and the sorts of phenomena you've had connected with them, I have a very strong suspicion that the migraines are the primary cause of what's happening, not the meditation.

I have a lot of sympathy for you, because it's obvious that, no matter what, you're having a really rough time and definitely need some relief from that. To that end, my recommendation is that you back off from meditation for a couple weeks, just to see what the effect is. If your problems don't go away, then it's probably not the meditation. Meditation effects don't usually last that long after you stop. If the problems do go away, you can work to gradually reintroduce meditation and see if they come back. That would be a very reasonable way to start getting to the bottom of the problem.

Does this make sense?

Also, have you consulted with your neurologist since these recent symptoms started?

My mother suffers from migraines and recently had a very bad attack that landed her in the hospital with amnesia. It was frightening for everyone. I understand how weird the results of migraines can be. They're not just headaches. And given the long history of the sorts of effects you're describing, it would probably be a good idea to rule that out before assuming the solution here is to hit the cushion any harder than you are.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/5/13 10:50 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Yes, this I recommend. Scientifically stop meditation and see if the symptoms go away. If they are always there then they are not likely meditation related.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/5/13 1:24 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Hi Jen!
Mario and Fitter just chimed in some helpful questions and suggestions I think.

I just wanted to say that I can relate to having a low threshold for altered states. I have experienced the entire spectrum of the progress of insight, more or less continuously, since my early twenties without any formal practice besides little bouts opf sitting here and there. Mind blowing world shattering A&P at about 14 without any formal practice (still one of the 'biggest' state experiences of my life). I think that generally most experienced practitioners here who have communicated with other practitioners will have a sense that indeed individuals vary widely in their propensity to experience altered states and their susceptability to meditative techniques. Also, some people go through multiple Paths practicing a whole hell of a lot and don't seem to grok basic insights into emptiness that others get easily before path, or after Stream Entry. So there is an incredible spectrum of individual differences.

I can also tell you that once I finally sat down and started practicing seriously and began moving through stages of awakening, there have been alternating phases of much less weirdness and much greater weirdness. And it's tough to predict what will come next or understand all the causes and conditions. But that said, my overall happiness and equanimity and clarity have steadily increased due to practice and much greater stability in life has been the result. This took some time to sort out though.

On the topic of stepping back from meditating for a spell and seeing what becomes of your symptoms, I think that couldn't hurt. However, the cause and effect could be complex. There could be something about meditation (or how you are doing it) that triggered a physiological response (the undulations) that is related to your underlying neurodifference and won't go waway when you stop (even though it was triggered by it) like hives being triggered by something in the environment and then just continuing even after the stressor is removed. Or, as one with high state lability (tendency to experience a wide spectrum of states of consciousness easily), you may just be in for a very wacky ride! You may just experience the stages and states very vividly with lots of bells and whistles.

Oh and one more thing... perhaps you would benefit from more actively balancing shamatha and vipassana, calm abiding and investigation. They are not mutually exclusive. For people with high state lability who also have a flexible sense of identity I think it can be difficult to practice shamatha without challenging identity and getting insights. This may just be your nature. And anyhow at a certain point all that is really required meditation wise is just showing up and being with whatever comes up and letting it do its thing, letting more and more of the core processes of attention and intention etc show themselves as just more stuff arising and passing. In other words at a certain point in development for some folks, it may be impossible to cultivate shamatha without getting insights; but that doesn't mean you won't get the benefits of shamatha at the same time. Calmness, clarity, and syncing up with experience will support the kind of deep-in-the-gut readiness for awakening, for progressing through the stages of insight...

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/5/13 7:21 PM as a reply to Jenny.
are you sure?

is life better or worse when you believe that?

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/5/13 7:54 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
It depends, and no.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/6/13 1:43 AM as a reply to Jenny.
I may have some time August 9th in the evening if you are around. I am on Central Time. Let me know,

Daniel

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/6/13 8:17 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Besides the help already given, have you checked Bhante Vimalaramsi's method? It's a Vipassana practice with focus on relaxing tensions in the head, coupled with applying some kind of (self-) metta. So perhaps it fits with you current needs and strengths.

Check the 6R's in pages 29-31

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/6/13 2:10 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Hi Jen,

I wanted to let you I have had very similar experiences which i definitely put in the meditation related basket. I also came to meditation to deal with depression/anxiety, and through "mindfulness" practices. I do not have the neurological history that you have. I have never taken drugs. i have had very similar "wavy" and shaking phenomena among other things, with no history beyond run of the mill depression and intense meditation practice.

About two years ago I had a pretty intense period of spiritual growth which included a lot of visual perception stuff going on - seeing waves, ripples, shaking, undulation, shifting. I also had various tactile/internal sensations of instablitity, wavelike movement, and spiraling/vortex sensations. I had lots of lights, and sort of chakra centered activity. I still have what is most easily described as constant kundalini type sensations, and milder but still noticeable visual distortions (ripples and waves). They do not trouble me at all.

I was terrified, worried I would become non-functioning etc. I had the same thing with difficulty reading shifting text, and similar experiences to the one you described in the coffee house (big visible waves like the world was floating and fluttering in the breeze, and feeling the waves a the same time in my body). It was, in my opinion, quite vipassana related and tied to intensive retreat practice. It was terrifying to me (someone else might have just thought it cool, who knows). I have had several teachers help me through the "crisis", and it was not suggested it was anything but a spiritual experience. I had, maybe six years prior, had a very profound but completely non-scary spiritual opening, so it was not my first round with significant spiritual shifts.

What I was told by my teachers, and seems to be true as far as I can tell, is that some (a minority of) people will have these experiences (movement/sensory/kundalini etc.) and others won't. For those who are prone to it, it will happen as you make progress. I don't currently believe that these experiences are required or "mean" something, beyond indications of growth for those who will have that kind of path … For me they have been kind of like a huge koan for my ego (am I cursed/am i blessed or is this meaningful/meaningless). It definitely has shown me that my mind can not comprehend a lot of things.

Check out Shinzen Young's teachings on "Flow". Shinzen in general is quite explicit about various things that you can bump into. He has tons of stuff on YouTube.

When this happened to me I had no clue what it was, as general mindfulness/mass market buddhist stuff doesn't touch it. But connecting with senior teachers really was the best for me, as they have seen it all. If you can talk with Daniel you really should do it. And if you want to PM me feel free. With the right help i was able to navigate it, and I feel just fine about it all now. Hoping that is at least a bit comforting - at the time i was desperate to get some connection and information around what was happening.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/6/13 6:02 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Hi Jan,

I was also prone to extremely altered states due to meditation (far more so than you are describing).

Generally, if things are going too fast and you can't slow it down (and out of control hallucinations are occurring), then you are sitting much longer than your required natural sitting time. If you have a propensity for extreme states, then, generally, you require less sitting time to make just as much progress. See the post I wrote here http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3373753

I understand that you have a different health condition than is described there, however, if you read the whole thing and the links I posted to you will find many similarities (such as not being able to slow the thing down, out of control hallucinations, etc).

Also, you may be dealing with some low level psychosis-like states (possibly due to the depression as there is such a thing as depression with psychotic features). However, you state that you have not been depressed and the hallucinations (or extremely amplified meditative states) are due to the migraines. I am not familiar with migraines as I have not experienced them, but I have experienced hallucinatory states far beyond what you're describing.

I have also experienced extreme headaches from meditation from not being able to slow the thing down. This is generally caused by blocked energy channels and extreme noting practice which tends to create a mess of spaghetti in the thought process and this generally leads to MASSIVE headaches. Please read the post I linked to as I describe this in detail, and how to prevent and deal with this situation. I generally don't experience migraines or headaches, but I could see if you were dealing with migraines and you were practicing in a manner that is inappropriate for your health condition, then these meditative headaches would greatly exacerbate your migraine condition.

The brute-force method of meditation described in MCTB (rapid-fire noting practice) is inappropriate and unhealthy for the majority of people with mental health problems. I describe a modified technique to get around this problem in the link above.

Meditation can be psychotomimetic (prone to causing/mimicking a psychotic episode) in people with a history of hallucinatory states or psychosis.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/6/13 8:26 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen, just a general guide here. Your ego thinks it's dying and it's fighting against the process.

You can either surrender to the "death" or fight a bit smarter and harder.

If you want to fight it, I suggest employing classic ego defense mechanisms (repression, identification, or rationalization).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/6/13 9:00 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Jen, just a general guide here. Your ego thinks it's dying and it's fighting against the process.

You can either surrender to the "death" or fight a bit smarter and harder.

If you want to fight it, I suggest employing classic ego defense mechanisms (repression, identification, or rationalization).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms


what a great post haha emoticon

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/7/13 1:16 AM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
C C C:
Jen, just a general guide here. Your ego thinks it's dying and it's fighting against the process.

You can either surrender to the "death" or fight a bit smarter and harder.

If you want to fight it, I suggest employing classic ego defense mechanisms (repression, identification, or rationalization).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms


what a great post haha emoticon


I was being serious Adam... although maybe you were too.

The most balanced, healthy, peaceful and happy people I have ever met will either:

1) have attained the things that an ego desires in life (you know the list), or...
2) have a very strong array of ego defense mechanisms to block the anxiety associated with the realization "I am not enough".

The "rightness" of this approach is demonstrated most readily in the physical and mental health of such individuals (eg. their skins glows, they don't get aches and pains or colds). Of course the first option is the ideal worth working for. All that needs to happen is that one stops fear in the mind. Then everything you want comes to you. But a good short term option is to defend the ego by fooling oneself. For example, if I felt like I was truly disintegrating, I could attempt to deny or repress this, or fight against it with self talk such as "I am here, I am real, I exist. I am important to others".

I am going to coin a new term: Premature spiritualization.

First be a good animal. Can't remember who said this. First be a good human before you start with the disintegration.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
vipassana migraine auras
Answer
8/14/13 9:19 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Hi to you and all. Thank you all for trying to help me think through this event and its possible triggers.

I was in the ER for 20 hours last Thursday night into Friday, finally convinced that the metamorphosopia I had experienced nonstop for a week was a brand new, persistent migraine aura--or some weird sequelae of migraine, even though I haven't had one of these persistent or prolonged auras since 2007, and that one was over in a matter of hours.

ER finally administered IV anticonvulsants, as I had first asked them to, and my vision cleared significantly before the IV was even 3/4 done. Sunday the auras started simmering again and revolving with neck spasms and occipital headache. I found some muscle relaxers in my medicine cabinet and took them for the neck. Interestingly, the muscle relaxer stopped the auras, too. So it appears that I was caught in a neuromuscular escalating feedback loop between my hyper-excitable neurons and my spasming neck muscles. This is tell-tale for migraine.

I have a rare genetic variant of migraine that involves multiple and at times persistent "auras." For example, once back in the late 1990s I had double vision for 4 months the day after a bad headache. I saw a neurologist specializing in vision and this eye problem was nystagmus because of either basilar-type or hemiplegic migraine. The complex types of migraines are poorly sorted diagnostically. One thing that initially made diagnosis of my migraine condition so difficult was that, at least as often as not, I experience no headache around the time of the auras. Auras can include profound numbness, paralysis, blindness, language disturbance, distorted perception of body fields, myoclonic jerks, twitches, and slurred speech. Sometimes these hit in rapid succession and overlap. You can probably imagine how frightening the attacks are, especially when they won't stop for weeks or months. Basically, they are like seizures in slow motion; this is often how the spreading cortical depression of migraine aura is described. I just have a particularly nasty version of aura.

I believe this recent event happened to me for a range of contributing reasons. Six months ago, I went off one of the two migraine preventives I take, because it was jacking up my blood pressure unacceptably. I was stable for 6 months without it, so I thought all was okay. Secondly, I started a new job a month ago and had to shift my sleep schedule off from being a night owl. I was not getting enough sleep the past month and was getting lots of mild to moderate headaches, so I was popping Advils and drinking coffee much more than I usually do. Also, some hormonal stuff was going on (please hurry up, menopause!), and this is a notorious trigger for me.

HOWEVER, I'm pretty much convinced by the timing of my dive into vipassana and the A&P Event(s) I was experiencing right before the auras began that meditation did in fact help bring on this disintegration. It is interesting to me, now that I think back through my life history, that so many of the big, long attacks were preceded by religious or peak experiences. I never thought to observe for macro-level patterns until I read MCTB. So hey, even if I cannot completely sort out the physical from the other conditions and causes for this event, at least now I'm alert to the maps and can watch across future time with more perspicuity.

As for my practice, I've been meditating only 2 years and usually only 30 minutes a day--until the A&P things started happening a few weeks before all this, when I then would suddenly sit all night without fatigue, pain, or any desire to stop. I attended a Tibetan center for a year and learned "calm abiding" samatha first. But I had some major problems with the dogma, hierarchy, and cultural fetishes there (not to mention some disturbing behavior by some teachers) and left. Then I gravitated toward the Thai Forest tradition and started reading and following the meditation manuals of Thanissaro (Ajahn Geoffrey DeGraff) and his Thai teachers. I was back to basics, doing breath meditation, but this tradition--at least the teachers I've read so far-- not only don't distinguish overtly between samatha and vipassana, but they discourage such sorting.

As best as I can make out, though, my sits start with at least access concentration but switch over to vipassana. This is because Thanissaro has one concentrate on the breath--but specifically the movement of the breath energy throughout the body and on every little sensation sensation thereof and its impermanence. When I would get to the point where you try to feel all the sensations of the whole breath body at once, I would routinely suddenly lose sense of my body all together. There would simply be no boundary. There would then be this feeling of exhilaration but often also a fear--it was like bumping your funny bone hard and experiencing hilarity/pain or having an intense orgasm that was also strangely a little scary (maybe this makes no sense).

The very first few times I did "calm abiding" via the Tibetan center, I saw big, bright white scattering lights. They were like shards of mirrors. These, I later read, were "firework nimatta." Note that I was sitting very little time and only a beginner. I don't personally believe you can tell where someone is by how long they've been practicing. I think some people have beginner's luck, or some such thing.

Then I joined this little virtual reading/dharma group that formed around reading MCTB and having a nuanced discussion of the book. My dhama buddies in the group started introducing me to various other related work on "noting" and such. So this was when I started experimenting really intently with noticing--and not simply with the breath. Noting, by the way, is too slow. I become aware that I'm missing the beginnings and endings of phenomena because the noting itself takes up too much time. It becomes a distraction. So instead of articulating, I just notice. One of the most fruitful experiments I had around the recent A&P time was "bare awareness" or "do nothing." This was incredible! I found that if I dropped intention, then stuff would really show itself to me.

And that's when the vibratory stuff kicked in, on and off the cushion, and then a week later the metamorphosopia, which was fairly debilitating and definitely alarming.

I've not suffered a depressive episode since 1999, but I tend to have a lot of garden-variety anxiety, and I grew phobias surrounding the migraine auras. This was largely why I took up meditation in the first place: to address fear.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/14/13 10:30 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:

I started reading and scanning your linked post and will definitely read through it carefully when I'm not up past my bedtime.

I find it disturbing and disappointing that vipassana can be and often is destabilizing. I know reality doesn't care how I may feel about it, however. I mean I get that, yes, what we are doing is precisely destabilizing self and delusions of permanence, but why the hell can't progress actually feel like progress on some accessible level of control instead of some horribly mistaken self-inflicted dive into runaway hallucination and workaday dysfunction? One of my friends said to me that monasteries and psyche wards are full of vipassana practitioners. One of the main reasons for joining a monastery is that then someone else can feed you oatmeal while you trip out. This is not the practical way to peace I first bought into, and I often ask myself these days why in the world anyone would want to become enlightened. Why? If enlightenment is not worth a few psychotic breaks, then how good can it be? Yet it obviously isn't worth it; hence, all the warnings and disclaimers on this forum--especially by those with attainments, ironically.

Although migraine is neurological rather than psychiatric, the difference to me isn't all that clear-cut. Where exactly is this magical line between brain and mind, between genetics and some vaguely subconscious form of intention? Migraine does produce hallucinations. Auras even produce "forced affect" or extreme moods, such as fear or ecstasy. Aside from there also being a headache and nausea in most cases, I'm not sure why migraine would be granted the title of physical illness instead of mental. Our medical culture is so weird in so many ways--it's exacerbating, as is the fact that the ER wouldn't refer me to a neuro and I'm forced to wait 3 months for an opening. Basically, until you keel over and are obviously nearly dead, virtually no one in the medical world can afford to give a damn. The first concern is liability, money, or some other form of self-interest. My regular neuro suddenly and inexplicably refused to see me during this crisis, after I trusted him for 13 years, and trusted by son to him. I have reason to believe it is because he's under medical board scrutiny for his prescribing practices and other ethical concerns.

Migraine aura is theorized to be basically a slowed-down seizure. The neurons are "hyper-excitable." Depakote is prescribed for migraine, epilepsy, and bipolar. It makes perfect sense that, if one has a propensity for neuronal hyper-excitability, then noticing everything, sensation by sensation, would cause a cascade. So again, if this is what insight is, how is it a good thing for anyone but the particularly dense and neuronally dull? Conversely, maybe all the hallucinators are already awake--at least to some extent--and need to learn something different, like nothing.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/15/13 8:16 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
Then I gravitated toward the Thai Forest tradition and started reading and following the meditation manuals of Thanissaro (Ajahn Geoffrey DeGraff) and his Thai teachers. I was back to basics, doing breath meditation, but this tradition--at least the teachers I've read so far-- not only don't distinguish overtly between samatha and vipassana, but they discourage such sorting.

As best as I can make out, though, my sits start with at least access concentration but switch over to vipassana. This is because Thanissaro has one concentrate on the breath--but specifically the movement of the breath energy throughout the body and on every little sensation sensation thereof and its impermanence. When I would get to the point where you try to feel all the sensations of the whole breath body at once, I would routinely suddenly lose sense of my body all together. There would simply be no boundary. There would then be this feeling of exhilaration but often also a fear--it was like bumping your funny bone hard and experiencing hilarity/pain or having an intense orgasm that was also strangely a little scary (maybe this makes no sense)


I'm a Thannisaro Bhikkhu fanboy, and I have experience with this kind of practice that mixes samatha and vipassana. Huge subject, so I'll try not to bore you by going on at length about it.

What I will point out, however, is that your experience of the body becoming boundaryless is one that I had on a recent retreat. I got into one of those states where it feels like you're breathing into the room and then the birds and the trees and the whole universe. Very expansive, spacious stuff.

When I reported this to the person running the retreat - a jhana expert - he basically brushed it off. "Yeah, we've all had that experience. But how concentrated are you?" he asked. He didn't really give specific instructions at that point, which was disappointing, but I took what he said and put it together with what I had read and my own intuition to figure things out.

Basically, you're going to experience odd sensations in your body as you're doing this, but you either want to ignore those sensations, or you want to calm them down as much as possible. It doesn't have to be perfect, but the stiller and calmer your body is, the better your chances of entering into jhana. This is what feeling the breath energy in the different parts of the body is meant to accomplish. And even if you do not manage to enter jhana with this practice, it's still highly beneficial, since it's hard for the mind to be agitated when the body is that calm.

I have too much to say about this practice, so I'll just add one more thing, which is that I love this practice, and there's a lot to recommend it over the "dry vipassana" approach, especially if you're having a lot of physical agitation already from migraines.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/15/13 11:52 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I have too much to say about this practice

One day I'd really like to hear you talking about that in some detail...bye!

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/15/13 7:24 PM as a reply to Jenny.
This is not the practical way to peace I first bought into, and I often ask myself these days why in the world anyone would want to become enlightened. Why? If enlightenment is not worth a few psychotic breaks, then how good can it be? Yet it obviously isn't worth it; hence, all the warnings and disclaimers on this forum--especially by those with attainments, ironically.


Hi Jan,

It's just a more honest and direct way of perceiving reality. "Enlightenment" is like seeing the vase instead of the two faces in the below picture. That's all it is. However, unlike with the below picture, once you (start to) see the "vase," there is no way to go back and see the two faces



Is it worth psychotic breaks and/or situations that put you on the brink of sanity and safety? Is it worth risking your life over? Probably not (depending on whether re-birth is true or not).

On the other hand, once you're on the ride you're on the ride. You can't go backwards and the thing will force you to finish it regardless of how dangerous it might be. To slow the thing down you'll have to sit less frequently, sit a shorter duration, as well as practicing a safer and less "gung-ho rapid fire noting" technique.

You will have to experiment to see what technique/s and sitting duration is appropriate for you and your health condition. I have described a modified practice in the post I put up for people with mental health disorders that involves altered technique and reduced sitting times. Since your health condition is a bit different, you'll have to experiment to see what works for you to get the thing done in as safe a manner as possible considering the circumstances.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/16/13 4:16 AM as a reply to Jenny.
I gave my background to show that I'm really in this territory and have a low threshold for wildness. I'm not asking you or anyone here to medicalize what is happening to me or to offer medical diagnosis/treatment. I'm asking for dharma-savy and compassionate suggestions on navigating this tough practice territory and diagnosing "where I am" on the maps (re-obs?)."


Jen, you have a lot of dharma advice here. Work on your throat chakra, work your blocked energy channels etc... Tom's advice on that linked thread is very wise, actually. You describe that you found noting to be too slow, so you took up fast noticing, the kind Ingram talks about a lot, the kind of practice Tom suggests to avoid for people with minds prone to getting over excited.

But while you said you were not asking for medical advice, you seem to be getting towards a good medically based understanding of what happened to you, and the drugs seemed to work the trick.

Migraine aura is theorized to be basically a slowed-down seizure. The neurons are "hyper-excitable." Depakote is prescribed for migraine, epilepsy, and bipolar. It makes perfect sense that, if one has a propensity for neuronal hyper-excitability, then noticing everything, sensation by sensation, would cause a cascade. So again, if this is what insight is, how is it a good thing for anyone but the particularly dense and neuronally dull?


People vary in their disposition to achieving hyper-excitable states. Clearly you are pretty far over on the continuum. Lots of meditation practices can lead to these hyper-excitable states, not just particular insight practices like fast noticing. So this isn't just about insight practice. On the question of "if this is all it is"… When you see a beautiful sunset, and are struck by the awe and wonder at the universe, all that really is is just some firing of neurons in your brains. Unless our minds are made up of cosmic magical energy stuff, then everything we experience is just this. Does this fact belittle any form of spiritual practice? An interesting question, and worthy of a separate thread.

But just to note, insight doesn't have to involve putting your mind into strange places and giving yourself seizures. You can have insight into questions like "what is the problem that you think vipassana will fix?" or "is thinking there is a problem to be fixed is itself the problem?" and so on. And vipassana is just one spiritual tradition amongst the many out there.

once you're on the ride you're on the ride. You can't go backwards and the thing will force you to finish it regardless of how dangerous it might be.


I would take this as an opinion, rather than fact. Yes, you have made some changes to your brain through meditation practices, but you don't have to believe that you are now stuck in the dark night forever (IMHO).

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
samatha-vipassana
Answer
10/12/13 6:36 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke, yes, whenever you have some spare energy and time, I'd love to hear your summary (even if lengthy) on Thanissaro Bhikkhu's meditation methods. I'm in another small reading group, and I can never figure out when discussing practice with others there whether I'm doing "samatha" or "vipassana." This Thai Forest tradition seems to teach techniques, but not "maps" and categories of results. I have to say that I'm grateful for the MCTB maps, but I also did get some kind of what I think were positive results with the more organic weaving.

What are the pros and cons of blending samatha and vipassana so that any "switch over" from one to the other is sort of, um, unconscious? Ajaan Chah also warns against mapping the distinct Jhana or even separating samatha and vipassana. On the one hand, I read or heard somewhere that the controversy has to do with the fact that the Buddha never separates the two in the suttas. On the other hand, I've heard the counterargument that the Buddha did separate them and our thinking otherwise is an artifact of mere translation difficulties.

I'm thinking there must be a practical reason that this tradition continues to insist on blending the two meditations almost imperceptibly. Maybe it is precisely to temper the kind of somatic experiences "dry vipassana" can induce? Or maybe it is to keep the practitioner from getting attached to or fearful of a particular stage and then not advancing?

I'd love to hear your understanding of this topic of samatha-vipassana sometime.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/16/13 6:41 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
On the other hand, once you're on the ride you're on the ride. You can't go backwards and the thing will force you to finish it regardless of how dangerous it might be. To slow the thing down you'll have to sit less frequently, sit a shorter duration, as well as practicing a safer and less "gung-ho rapid fire noting" technique.

This is not true! I was not only "on the ride" I was "well into the ride". I never reached 4th path. I have no desire to continue it and indeed will not. I haven't meditated either on the cushion or in daily life for more than a year now. It's sort of been like going backwards, in fact. It's not forcing me to do anything because it was 'me' all along, anyway. And this is not a clever way of me claiming 4th path. I don't "feel done", I just don't want to pursue enlightenment anymore.

You have a choice.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/16/13 7:00 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Sawfoot,

I do need to back up now and figure out this throat chakra thing. It is so funny to me that you mention the throat, because some months ago (maybe 4 months), I was noticing during meditation that my breath energy felt weirdly blocked at the level of the throat. I knew nothing about the chakras at all, but a friend told me a bit about them and I started reading about it. I was thinking at the time "Oh, my throat chakra must be blocked."

About my not asking for medical advice and then getting and settling on medical explanations--well, yes, this event has confused the hell out of me! While I've come here to try to begin to understand the spiritual/meditative perspective that may be involved, I also interfaced with the local medical community, and in fact just spent 2 hours with a neurologist a while ago and got about 20 injections into my neck. The world of modern health "care" is bewildering and frustrating for most who require it at all. Add to it a very complicated/rare condition--which our system increasingly just does not support--one that belies the clear distinction between the physical and the mind, and the patient can experience all kinds of almost overwhelming reactions. I've felt very angry this week, very abandoned, and felt scared--all because our medical system is run by greed and insane fixations on standardized care. There is no room for the rare, the complicated, the outlier--let alone for any mind-body considerations. It is sterile, mechanical, impersonal, and nowhere near "healing" in its modes or tone.

My new (but old, since I used to see him) neuro and I spent a long time talking about the horrible influences on our health care system. Really, these are the same influences that are causing my husband and many others to work 60 to 75 hours per week instead of 40 and receive the same (or reduced) salary and benefits. Basically, Wall Street, big pharma, the insurance companies--all the monied interests.

Anyway, I talked with Dr. C today about the meditation part in all this, and of course he couldn't comment on that, even though he agrees that the compartmentalization of medicine and "spiritual" disciplines is tragic and not in the interest of patients. For me, I understand well why those who know one world cannot comment on the other world, but that leaves me, well, still confused. I'm hearing that I have to figure it out myself. I guess I will, eventually, though I also guess it will take a good long time and I may make many detours in thinking along the way before I'm able to make some sense of what is physical, what is not, what difference that makes, and what to do about it for optimal (or not harmful) outcomes.

It is easy to understand why "alternative" modalities are gaining a foothold with all but the insurance companies.

On a brighter silver-lining note, I'm an editor for a science magazine, and I'm going to invite a feature article on migraine aura to raise awareness. That will be fun.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/16/13 7:08 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Emu-golem person:

I don't want to pry if you'd rather not discuss, but what made you decide to stop?

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/17/13 4:02 AM as a reply to Jenny.
the compartmentalization of medicine and "spiritual" disciplines is tragic and not in the interest of patients.


Yes, though the problem in translation goes both ways. Those in the spiritual disciplines tend not to want to look at medical/physical descriptions of their experiences, in part perhaps, due to the idea that it belittles them (see my point in the above post).

[a condition that] belies the clear distinction between the physical and the mind


I noticed in your posts this point has come up a lot - the question of the distinction between what is physical and what is mental.

There are a lot of solutions to the mind-body problem, but if you ask me, you are going to struggle if you try to separate them. It seems to me you would be better off to consider the relationship as a non-duality, two sides of the same coin, the mind is the brain and the brain is mind, two different levels of explanation. When you question whether the problem is physical or whether it is meditation related - the meditation practice (at the description at the level of the mind) is inducing changes in the neural connectivity and chemical environment of your brain, which can cause problems (i.e. hyper-excitability in your case) which can be described at a physical level, leading to symptoms that can be described at the mental level, and so on...

Note: I just mentioned throat chakra's as an example of somebody's else advice. Maybe there is some utility in this kind of belief and practice, but it apears that when it came to the crunch, the drugs really helped.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/17/13 5:20 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
This is not true! I was not only "on the ride" I was "well into the ride". I never reached 4th path. I have no desire to continue it and indeed will not.


Perhaps I should rephrase it to say that the thing will force you to keep going until you hit somewhere relatively stable. This may not necessarily be 4th path. I also have not meditated in probably almost a year. I actually do not claim 4th path and feel I have not reached it yet either. This is according to Daniel's definition of 4th, not Kenneth's, which is an "utter" lack of agency and "utter" centerlessness. Since you have no desire to finish the thing, then you actually fit Kenneth's definition of 4th since his definition is no desire for enlightenment. I feel I am at a very stable spot somewhere between late 3rd path and 4th path. My experience is agencylessness and centerlessness though I would not place the word "utter" in my experience.

Since you state you were "well into the ride" I assume you probably stopped sitting at a somewhat stable plateau.

If you're currently sitting somewhere in the unstable nanas (of which the OP is currently in) then it is highly unlikely that you can just stop sitting and be comfortable with that. This is triply true for someone who is unable to "slow the thing down." Not being able to slow the thing down is not only a symptom of an underlying medical condition (be it migraines or mania), it is a massive untamed momentum. Trying to just stop in the face of it is like trying to swim upstream in roaring river. Most people on this forum have not experienced this phenomena of not being able to "slow the thing down" to the degree the OP has described.

From MCTB:
Soon the meditator will learn what is meant by the phrase, “Better not to begin. Once begun, better to finish!” as they are now too far into this to ever really go back. Until they complete this progress of insight, they are “on the ride” and may begin to feel that the dharma is now doing them rather than the other way around

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
migraine auras
Answer
8/17/13 3:28 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Yes, though the problem in translation goes both ways. Those in the spiritual disciplines tend not to want to look at medical/physical descriptions of their experiences, in part perhaps, due to the idea that it belittles them (see my point in the above post).


This is very good point--that people in the spiritual disciplines tend to resist scientific explanations and definitely medical ones as reductive and belittling. It seems to suggest a bit of attachment to agency/selfhood.

I noticed in your posts this point has come up a lot - the question of the distinction between what is physical and what is mental.
There are a lot of solutions to the mind-body problem, but if you ask me, you are going to struggle if you try to separate them. It seems to me you would be better off to consider the relationship as a non-duality, two sides of the same coin, the mind is the brain and the brain is mind, two different levels of explanation. When you question whether the problem is physical or whether it is meditation related - the meditation practice (at the description at the level of the mind) is inducing changes in the neural connectivity and chemical environment of your brain, which can cause problems (i.e. hyper-excitability in your case) which can be described at a physical level, leading to symptoms that can be described at the mental level, and so on...


Yes, I agree. The reason I'm distinguishing is precisely that when I suddenly find I need help (or preventive measures) and turn to ether of the two worlds (spiritual v. medical), I'm going to encounter, in either one, strict adherence to one worldview. There seems to be no in-between world dedicated to exploring precisely how the two perspectives blend, affect each other, or cause confusion over ameliorative or preventive measures. There seem to be no mind-body teacher-healers.

I did experience migraine persistent aura--though one I've never experienced before in my 49 years of life (metamorphosopia). In retrospect, though I'm usually an overcautious nervous Nelly, I did some things that set me up for this attack: quit one of my migraine preventive medications 6 months ago (b/c high blood pressure), started a new stressful job, flipped my sleep schedule, lost sleep, beat back tons of mild/moderate headaches with excess coffee and Advil for weeks, and--yes--went ahead and engaged experimentally in rapid noticing meditation after recent A&P.

My recent A&P, by the way, happened in lucid dreams (had many over a couple of months that built up to a special one) that I did not will or pre-program in any way that I'm aware of, except that I was doing samatha-vipassana for about 30 minutes a day. The dream A&Ps just happened, or so it seems.

I think the lesson in all this for me is that I need to take care of myself physically first, and really, really pay attention the minute that migraine or even mild headache emerges, and then excercise restraint in meditation practice that "excites" my brain/mind. Quitting altogether forever would probably be an overreaction. I just wish I had a teacher who knew a bit about both worlds. That in itself would lower contributory anxiety/excitement. The neuro urged me to go back to getting regular deep tissue massages for my messed-up neck, and he's exploring protocols and other possible preventive meds to replace the one I had to quit. Just getting regular massage really helps prevent my headaches. I was ignoring the headache component (slamming Advils and coffee, setting up rebound), and that ignorance finally catastrophized into persistent aura.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/17/13 2:51 PM as a reply to Jenny.
I have noticed that i have minor headache(can't call it ache but it lets itself know that there is something) all the time lately when i am inner rooms.

i searched now from internet
from wikipedia:
Typically the headache is unilateral (affecting one half of the head) and pulsating in nature, lasting from 2 to 72 hours.
....

yes i have had these. Get to know now, that this is migrane. =)
But i don't remember what caused them. I haven't paid much attention to these.

My cure for the headache is fresh air in nature and rest, anyway it feels very good to breath fresh air.

Also when the air not ventilate normally in nostrils it starts build up as ache.
Also even one beer is almost sure deal for having headache in the morning and when bad room ventilation then it only adds fuel.

The pain is frequently accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, sensitivity to smells, fatigue and irritability.


I am overly sensitive to smells and sound anytime.
Also im too sensitive to rutine work or duties, i will break down(mentally first then physically i feel like passing out when doing physical work) in couple hours. I can't keep a job not much over a month, no matter how good the job is or how good or promising the salary is.

Im highly irritable, i have low threshold to everything what invovles i need to do. Same things everyday life like eating, waking up, wc..
Sensitivity to emotions, stress, unknown situations = adrealine surges will pump up the blood pressure.

Im itself perfectly aware of this.

i have seen the walls disappearing suddenly, prolly also the vortexes. When i started practice then i didn't had a compare of others but have plenty of experiences when sleeping or halfsleep states.

When i started reading about buddhism and all the other main religions, i started to crave to attain it all. I am very impatient and want it all now or it isn't worth the effort.

in age of .. i made a determination and i also like knew innerly that i will get them. I have had practiced before also, i wanted to open third eye so my practice was concentrating on middle of the head mainly and practiced lucid dreaming for that i needed to practice awareness. The result was the crack or cracks and sounds and blue lightning flashes.

I had before strong awarensss(in my own opinion), and now i only practice awareness.
Awareness is the most pleasant exercise/discipline i have ever done and doing. And it provided all the answers, also i will find the answer to the suffering, but currently i don't know the answer, but i know what i need to do to know the answer.
I also practice little bit willpower.
i only once have been ridiculosuly happy and it lasted hour or so i think.

i have and had other disciplines too what i do..figuring out how much pain i tolerate, diets, celibacy etc
emoticon

i don't use any medication. I think i can lot to talk about this subjects but i write like a 5 years old so i skip..also i can't sing, dance and can't understand words..notes are notes and words are words..i need to have atleast 3 different sources to understand the meaning. I am lost very easily. I afraid strangers.

my plus side is luck. Universe takes care of me.

i think its all because of kundalini but not sure.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/17/13 3:17 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
Emu-golem person:

I don't want to pry if you'd rather not discuss, but what made you decide to stop?

It wasn't taking me to where I wanted to go. It caused so much needless pain and suffering in me - and all self-caused, as well. I wanted to get off the ride pretty soon after making myself get on it, but I believed that the only way out was through, so I kept going with quite a bit of intensity and resolve, yet it was just getting more and more painful. Eventually I realized that I could simply stop, slowly de-train all the meditative tendencies I had acquired, extricate myself out of the pragmatic dharma worldview, and go back to a more normal, non-spiritual life. And it worked! I'm much more like my old self (pre-meditation) now than before. This also required no longer wanting what's at the end of the path - the enlightenment Dan Ingram speaks of. No thanks, I'm better off without it!

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/17/13 3:26 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
This is not true! I was not only "on the ride" I was "well into the ride". I never reached 4th path. I have no desire to continue it and indeed will not.


Perhaps I should rephrase it to say that the thing will force you to keep going until you hit somewhere relatively stable. This may not necessarily be 4th path.

I actually didn't really stop in a stable spot. It was pretty bad a lot of the time. Of course some of the time it was also pretty OK, which is the nature of 'cycling' is it not? But the bad parts were still quite bad and the OK parts were not stable.

Of course, now I haven't cycled in over a year, which is great. A much simpler solution to the problem of the cycles than perceiving them in a non-painful manner is to simply stop causing them!

Tom Tom:
I also have not meditated in probably almost a year. I actually do not claim 4th path and feel I have not reached it yet either. This is according to Daniel's definition of 4th, not Kenneth's, which is an "utter" lack of agency and "utter" centerlessness. Since you have no desire to finish the thing, then you actually fit Kenneth's definition of 4th since his definition is no desire for enlightenment.

Ha. Then 99.9%+ people on earth fit the definition because they just don't desire it at all.

Tom Tom:

If you're currently sitting somewhere in the unstable nanas (of which the OP is currently in) then it is highly unlikely that you can just stop sitting and be comfortable with that. This is triply true for someone who is unable to "slow the thing down." Not being able to slow the thing down is not only a symptom of an underlying medical condition (be it migraines or mania), it is a massive untamed momentum. Trying to just stop in the face of it is like trying to swim upstream in roaring river. Most people on this forum have not experienced this phenomena of not being able to "slow the thing down" to the degree the OP has described.

That's true, it sounds pretty intense. Migraines suck too. You're right that massive untamed momentum can't simply be stopped. It has to go somewhere or it'll cause all sorts of problems. What needs to be done is to focus that energy somewhere else, funnel it in a non-meditative way, something that doesn't intensify the cycles. You have limited energy - if instead of putting 90% of it into spiritual stuff and 10% into other things, you put 90% into other things and 10% into spiritual stuff, then the spiritual stuff will diminish from lack of cultivation. To do this, though, you have to want to put your energy into other things, and then be prepared to work through what it takes to change your mental habits so you don't keep going to the same-ol' spot. Perhaps an apt analogy here is like the distinction between heroin junkies that manage to quit and never go back vs. the ones that believe "once an addict, always an addict" and keep going back to it. The ones that really quit just stop going there.

Tom Tom:
From MCTB:
Soon the meditator will learn what is meant by the phrase, “Better not to begin. Once begun, better to finish!” as they are now too far into this to ever really go back. Until they complete this progress of insight, they are “on the ride” and may begin to feel that the dharma is now doing them rather than the other way around

Yes, but I didn't complete whatever progress of insight that was and I was able to get off the ride and go back nevertheless. This idea is just a meme which self-propagates because the people who believe it are the ones that stick around.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/17/13 4:30 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
I'd love to hear your understanding of this topic of samatha-vipassana sometime.


Hm. I considered starting a new post on this, but perhaps burying it in here will prevent it from attracting forum foolishness while still helping those who are really interested. Keep in mind that this is just my own opinion based upon my own practice and my own definition and practice of "jhana". Different teachers have different definitions and different practices, etc.

***

It’s common in modern Buddhism to make the distinction between jhana meditation and vipassana meditation. Jhana is one-pointed concentration that “solidifies” the object and gives rise to (dangerous) bliss and (dangerous) detachment from the world. Vipassana is momentary concentration that breaks apart the object, perceiving the three characteristics in each of the four foundations of mindfulness. Vipassana is necessary for awakening; jhana isn’t. But this dichotomy doesn’t match first-person experience, and neither does it match what the Buddha seems to have taught.

For one thing, jhana may not be necessary for awakening, but neither is vipassana. There’s no evidence Ven. Kondañña was practicing vipassana when he achieved stream-entry and then full awakening. There’s no evidence Bahiya was practicing vipassana when he achieved full release from the fetters. On the contrary, these yogis merely heard the Buddha explain reality to them in a way that was reasonable and that made sense, and they were instantly released. No jhana! No vipassana! You don’t even have to look that far back. There are examples of people today who have experienced awakening and who did so without either jhana or vipassana. Gary Weber and Eckhart Tolle come to mind. There are probably more.

Jhana is often referred to as “concentration meditation”, whereas vipassana is referred to as “mindfulness meditation”. But clearly concentration is broader than jhana, and mindfulness is broader than vipassana. The Buddha distinguishes between right concentration (jhana) and wrong concentration (probably absorption). There’s momentary concentration, access concentration, and single-pointed concentration. Only the last one is associated with jhana. And as for mindfulness, the Anapanasati Sutta shows us it’s an aspect of jhana as well, as it’s the framework for the four tetrads.

So concentration is more than jhana - but it’s also less than jhana. The first jhana involves the factors of rapture, happiness, directed and sustained thought, and one-pointedness. So concentration is merely one factor amongst five in the first jhana.

But what about insight? If we know anything, it’s that vipassana leads to insight into the three characteristics and release from the fetters, whereas jhana just solidifies things, makes you feel good, and can never lead to awakening. Isn’t this why people so often ask how they are to do vipassana from within jhana?

Well, some insight is necessary even to get into jhana. First jhana arises once you’ve blocked the five hindrances: torpor, ill-will, lust, doubt, and restlessness. In order to be motivated to block them, you must at least see the downside in them (their impermanence leading to stress). Seeing the downside of them, the mind sets things up so as to withdraw from them (right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort). If the mind clearly perceives the downside of these, then being secluded from them obviously gives rise to the rapture and happiness of the first jhana. These factors increase in intensity as the mind remains focused on them. This is how right mindfulness and right concentration (unification of the mind) arise.

Of course, once you stop focusing, the jhana falls away, and the five hindrances rush back in like a gang of thugs. But if you’re able to steady the first jhana, the mind naturally perceives the shortcomings (the impermanence and stress) of directed and sustained thought. Seeing the shortcomings of those, it releases them. The second jhana arises. Tranquility is the natural result of having given up directed and sustained thought.

Subsequent jhanas unfold in a similar way. When the impermanence and stress of piti are clearly seen and comprehended, the mind releases (disidentifies) with them. The third jhana arises. Eventually the same thing happens with sukkha. Then the fourth jhana arises.

Now all that’s left is concentration, mindfulness, and equanimity. One of two things can happen here. One can release all perception of the body and enter into the first arupa jhana, infinite space. (Note well, the perception of the body has remained up until this point, even though the body stopped being the theme of the meditation once one entered the first jhana. I don’t know who came up with this idea that entering jhana is like walking through an interdimensional portal, and you’re completely cut off from your body. If anyone is able to do that, I haven’t met them.)

The other thing that can happen is that the mind sees the impermanence and stress in the concentration itself. If that happens, the mind releases the concentration. Releasing this final attachment, the mind itself is fully released. All mental processes stop for a moment. Fabrication comes to a temporary end. In my experience, this is indistinguishable from passing through one of the three doors and having a fruition.

So, far from having to find out a way to “do vipassana from within jhana”, jhana itself is always powered by insight into impermanence and stress. This is not something one “does”. It simply happens by virtue of being in jhana. The mind is continually trying to find its own level from within this state. The mind wants stillness and tranquility. So it goes through its own contents, progressively jettisoning that which is inconstant and hence disruptive to its stillness and tranquility. The final, most subtle thing it must disembed from is this lingering attachment in the form of concentration. Obviously, if you give up concentration at the beginning or in the middle, you simply stop being in jhana. You throw the ladder away once you’ve already climbed it, not while you’re still on it! But once it’s thrown away, the mind is fully released from all attachment. The aftermath of this is exceedingly peaceful.

At this point someone might wonder what the point of going through this path is. If you need to be in jhana to find release, how’s that valuable? I can’t be in jhana while stuck in traffic. I can’t be in jhana while arguing with my significant other. “Mindfulness” is so much more portable and useful for life!

To that I have two replies. The first is that a mind which has perceived impermanence on this kind of microscopic level, at this high a degree of resolution, in such a subtle way, must be changed. Jhana is not merely an altered state, just as good as dropping a lot of acid or sniffing glue. Jhana involves the mind going through its own layers and perceiving the most subtle degrees of inconstancy and stress. The mind learns something from this, especially if it’s done over and over. This is the kind of seeing that makes a difference even after you’ve stopped meditating.

Second, there’s something just inherently useful about knowing how to deal with the five hindrances. Even if you can’t enter into jhana while in traffic or in a meeting, you can still learn to calm bodily fabrications. This will not put an end to mental distress (only jhana or nibbana does), but it’s pretty hard for the mind to be agitated when the body is relaxed. And since getting into jhana requires you to become a bit of an expert at relaxing your body, this is a useful practice no matter what. In fact, it’s a lot more useful than simply “being mindful” of stress, if we mean just watching the stress with bare attention and doing nothing about it. Isn’t it better to calm yourself down if you can rather than just watching yourself freak out? There’s a fine line between “mindfulness” and dissociation in my opinion. You’re better off getting in there and getting involved with the breath than fooling yourself into a false sense of “radical acceptance”.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
8/17/13 6:49 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
That's true, it sounds pretty intense. Migraines suck too. You're right that massive untamed momentum can't simply be stopped. It has to go somewhere or it'll cause all sorts of problems. What needs to be done is to focus that energy somewhere else, funnel it in a non-meditative way, something that doesn't intensify the cycles. You have limited energy - if instead of putting 90% of it into spiritual stuff and 10% into other things, you put 90% into other things and 10% into spiritual stuff, then the spiritual stuff will diminish from lack of cultivation. To do this, though, you have to want to put your energy into other things, and then be prepared to work through what it takes to change your mental habits so you don't keep going to the same-ol' spot. Perhaps an apt analogy here is like the distinction between heroin junkies that manage to quit and never go back vs. the ones that believe "once an addict, always an addict" and keep going back to it. The ones that really quit just stop going there.


I agree with you. As I stated earlier, the OP (Jen) needs to cut back on sitting frequency, duration, and stop doing "hardcore" mahasi noting (especially stopping any noting done in the head/in thoughts). Finding other activities to enjoy other than just meditation/"spirituality" will naturally diminish "hardcore" approaches to meditation. The obsession with "spirituality" tends to come with the earlier stages/paths and naturally diminishes with increasing practice. If the person can scale back "spirituality stuff" earlier on, then that's good too.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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8/18/13 2:10 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
That's true, it sounds pretty intense. Migraines suck too. You're right that massive untamed momentum can't simply be stopped. It has to go somewhere or it'll cause all sorts of problems. What needs to be done is to focus that energy somewhere else, funnel it in a non-meditative way, something that doesn't intensify the cycles. You have limited energy - if instead of putting 90% of it into spiritual stuff and 10% into other things, you put 90% into other things and 10% into spiritual stuff, then the spiritual stuff will diminish from lack of cultivation. To do this, though, you have to want to put your energy into other things, and then be prepared to work through what it takes to change your mental habits so you don't keep going to the same-ol' spot. Perhaps an apt analogy here is like the distinction between heroin junkies that manage to quit and never go back vs. the ones that believe "once an addict, always an addict" and keep going back to it. The ones that really quit just stop going there.


I agree with you. As I stated earlier, the OP (Jen) needs to cut back on sitting frequency, duration, and stop doing "hardcore" mahasi noting (especially stopping any noting done in the head/in thoughts). Finding other activities to enjoy other than just meditation/"spirituality" will naturally diminish "hardcore" approaches to meditation. The obsession with "spirituality" tends to come with the earlier stages/paths and naturally diminishes with increasing practice. If the person can scale back "spirituality stuff" earlier on, then that's good too.

Ah by "spiritual stuff" I was including "increasing practice". I should have said "meditative stuff" perhaps. To rephrase: "If instead of putting 90% of your energy into meditation and the things that lead to reality warping and 10% into other things, you put 90% into other things and 10% into meditation and the things that lead to reality warping, then reality warping will diminish from lack of cultivation."

Some practical advice if it's involuntary by this point: when reality starts warping, distract yourself with something. Watch some TV. Hang out (maybe drink) with friends. Exercise. etc.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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8/18/13 2:33 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
By "increasing" I meant "progressive," not increased amounts of meditation. Sorry for any confusion.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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8/18/13 4:34 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Jen Pearly:
Emu-golem person:

I don't want to pry if you'd rather not discuss, but what made you decide to stop?

It wasn't taking me to where I wanted to go. It caused so much needless pain and suffering in me - and all self-caused, as well. I wanted to get off the ride pretty soon after making myself get on it, but I believed that the only way out was through, so I kept going with quite a bit of intensity and resolve, yet it was just getting more and more painful. Eventually I realized that I could simply stop, slowly de-train all the meditative tendencies I had acquired, extricate myself out of the pragmatic dharma worldview, and go back to a more normal, non-spiritual life. And it worked! I'm much more like my old self (pre-meditation) now than before. This also required no longer wanting what's at the end of the path - the enlightenment Dan Ingram speaks of. No thanks, I'm better off without it!


it causes pain and suffering because you are bumping against the block, when you would have eventually realized the block then there is sliding downhill period(good period) till you hit the next block. These are all temporal obstructions.

the path is starting with realizing self, then gross body, then subtle body, then thought body. In every stage the fruit(dwelling in the present moment) is more tangible and pleasurable.

no matter how painful it is it still is better to follow the path because after you reach your goals, it just feels good. And besides the mind gets very much more powerful than before path.

The path is exactly like that what Daniel have said in his book. You can use different words and it can then have different idea but it still the same. The idea is to retrace back to source.

After you have realized the block it will result in wisdom, but till you don't have realized it, it will use you without you knowing it. Don't miss the good opportunity.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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8/18/13 10:16 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Ok, some grounding tips:

1)Slow noting (once every 2 seconds) should slow it down
2)Focusing on extarnal auditory and visual inputs should slow it down, since you are training yourself in sending your awareness somewhere that is not in your body, where the whole mess is happening; basically, it's a way to consciously distract yourself while still meditating
3)Avoid sitting meditation and favor walking meditation

My guess is, if you do all 3 of them you'll be able to keep making progress in the stages of insight and slowing the thing down at the same time. It's working quite nicely for me, though I have some different issue to slow down. It seems to me to be a good compromise, expecially if you are interested in breaking into EQ as soon as possible, interested in keeping meditation going effectively in a way that is not too painful.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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8/18/13 11:55 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
By "increasing" I meant "progressive," not increased amounts of meditation. Sorry for any confusion.

Oh gotcha. Well we do both agree that sitting less and engaging with regular life more will be beneficial in this case. But a more abstract question: if the mark of an advanced practitioner is that they meditate less than when they started, then wouldn't an even more advanced practitioner be someone who doesn't meditate at all? And that would describe 99%+ of people already... =P.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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8/31/13 9:33 PM as a reply to : ladyfrog :.
Ladyfrog--

Wow. I guess I never will be able to sort the physical from the "spiritual" in the way I'm only guessing would be comforting or some kind of "help."

I've now been a month with this wavy, undulating, vibrating vision that the doctors call metamorphosopia. I am not enjoying it. I want it to stop. It interferes with my working, driving, etc. I'm also having occipital headache on and off, as well as some numbness in my face and fingers--classic "transformed" migraine syndrome.

I am far from ruling out that meditation had nothing to do with the onset of this bout. But I'm also handling this experience with a lot less terror than I normally would. I guess I believe that it will end and that I probably won't die from it since I've been through similar episodes in other decades and eventually pulled out. And somhow meditation has made me less afraid in general of everything. I do think hearing some more about how the dharma practitioners helped you through would be interesting and possibly helpful. Your experiences do sound a lot like complex migraine, which often comes without headache.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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9/1/13 12:07 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke,

What you say below makes perfect sense to me from the POV of my having tried to follow Thanissaro Bhikkhu's guidance and, as you say, quite naturally discovered the stress around the edges even of bliss, concentration, etc., and then released them. His guides are not explicit about the overview as you are below, but this has been my experience, too. I'm glad to have the overview.

In my (albeit short) meditation history, it really has seemed to me impossible to practice the techniques separately. There seems to be an almost organic movement among various conceptual points of distinction, framework, or other apparatus, such that the separations strike me as artificial, as useful as they may be for the projects involving articulation and map making.

Thank you for spending the time and energy to answer me. I read this first many days ago but was feeling too weighted down by conventional reality (illness and work) to respond. I just reread and took in more, so I wanted you to know I that I appreciate it and find it useful knowledge.

Well, some insight is necessary even to get into jhana. First jhana arises once you’ve blocked the five hindrances: torpor, ill-will, lust, doubt, and restlessness. In order to be motivated to block them, you must at least see the downside in them (their impermanence leading to stress). Seeing the downside of them, the mind sets things up so as to withdraw from them (right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort). If the mind clearly perceives the downside of these, then being secluded from them obviously gives rise to the rapture and happiness of the first jhana. These factors increase in intensity as the mind remains focused on them. This is how right mindfulness and right concentration (unification of the mind) arise.

Of course, once you stop focusing, the jhana falls away, and the five hindrances rush back in like a gang of thugs. But if you’re able to steady the first jhana, the mind naturally perceives the shortcomings (the impermanence and stress) of directed and sustained thought. Seeing the shortcomings of those, it releases them. The second jhana arises. Tranquility is the natural result of having given up directed and sustained thought.

Subsequent jhanas unfold in a similar way. . . .

The other thing that can happen is that the mind sees the impermanence and stress in the concentration itself. If that happens, the mind releases the concentration. Releasing this final attachment, the mind itself is fully released. All mental processes stop for a moment. Fabrication comes to a temporary end. In my experience, this is indistinguishable from passing through one of the three doors and having a fruition.

So, far from having to find out a way to “do vipassana from within jhana”, jhana itself is always powered by insight into impermanence and stress. This is not something one “does”. It simply happens by virtue of being in jhana. The mind is continually trying to find its own level from within this state. . . .

The first is that a mind which has perceived impermanence on this kind of microscopic level, at this high a degree of resolution, in such a subtle way, must be changed. Jhana is not merely an altered state, just as good as dropping a lot of acid or sniffing glue. Jhana involves the mind going through its own layers and perceiving the most subtle degrees of inconstancy and stress. The mind learns something from this, especially if it’s done over and over. This is the kind of seeing that makes a difference even after you’ve stopped meditating.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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9/1/13 12:39 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:

As I stated earlier, the OP (Jen) needs to cut back on sitting frequency, duration, and stop doing "hardcore" mahasi noting (especially stopping any noting done in the head/in thoughts). Finding other activities to enjoy other than just meditation/"spirituality" will naturally diminish "hardcore" approaches to meditation. The obsession with "spirituality" tends to come with the earlier stages/paths and naturally diminishes with increasing practice. If the person can scale back "spirituality stuff" earlier on, then that's good too.


The funny thing is, until the week that the metamorphosopia started, I was sitting only 30 minutes a day, if that. And I don't really practice "noting" because I find it too slow and distracting. The week the aura hit, I practiced noticing, and "flow," and "bare awareness" techniques. Going on for months, I had been having many intense lucid dreams, without consciously setting out to do so. Several of these seemed like A&P, the final one initiating something like intense clarity, euphoria, painlessness, and energy, which suddenly made me start meditating for hours in the middle of the night, exhilarated. What an experience!

Since the aura has been taking over my life, I haven't meditated much except a few times just breath meditation to calm myself. Nothing intense. Still, the aural rages on. My neuro is thinking my thyroid levels were knocked too low when my other neuro cut off my prescription, something that also happened before the attack. And 6 months ago I went off one of my two migraine preventive medications because it was skyrocketing my blood pressure. For the past 20 years, I've not been able to keep aura away with less than two preventives onboard, so now begins the long process of trying different meds till one works. I'll be interested to get my brain chems stabilized and then see how meditation is.

Maybe the vibratory states I thought I was experiencing were nothing but neuronal hyperexcitability of migraine aura. Or maybe vipassana brings on precisely this state in everyone but they don't know to call it migraine aura.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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9/1/13 12:17 PM as a reply to Jenny.
My assessment of your situation is basically that you suffer from an energetic imbalance. I have had periods during which I experienced similar states, and I am still prone to them nowadays, but I think that I am better at handling them when they happen.

See if these descriptions resonate with you:
  • you feel that there is an excess of energetic activity
  • you feel that chi / energy is volatile, explosive
  • moving energy might be pleasurable at first, but as it becomes more volatile it also becomes more scary, like everything is changing too quickly
  • you sometimes feel your head spinning very fast, and you think very many things very intensely
  • you are prone to euphoria and great flashes of energy
  • it's like moving through a floor that is permanently shifting, and trapped with geisers (you sometimes press somewhere and WOOSH)


The key word is probably "volatile," in all it's meanings:
  1. evaporating rapidly; passing off readily in the form of vapor.
  2. tending or threatening to break out into open violence; explosive.
  3. changeable; mercurial; flighty: a volatile disposition.
  4. tending to fluctuate sharply and regularly.
  5. fleeting; transient.


If it seems to you that this fits with what you are experiencing, then you may be interested in what I have to say this kind of energy imbalance. In my case I don't experience this kind of imbalance all the time. It seems to me that I alternate between three or four kinds of imbalances, two could be said to be of a "depressive" kind, and two of a "euphoric" kind, and the experience I have just alluded to is of the latter kind. So my situation is different than yours in that this isn't happening all the time.

The general advice I have received is very helpful: do grounding activities. Here something calm like manual work (DIYing, knitting, fixing things, etc) works quite well, but also exercising for a long session.

In terms of practices, anything that increases yin factors and downward flow is very helpful. Working with the lower part of the body: the legs, the abs, the feet, ankles and knees (at this point I always like to reference "The three amigos of rooting", which have helped me during a particularly difficult phase).

These two things are good to balance things out, they serve to mitigate the problem, though I don't think that they can solve it in a definite way.

So now to the core of the matter: what is happening? I hesitated whether to go into this, because my response is mainly conjectural, don't make the mistake of interpreting it as advice when it is actually too theoretical to serve as such.

My conjecture is that there is something intentional happening under the hood at some point in the process, something subtle and not easy to see, which gives the process momentum up to the point of imbalance.

This conjecture was formed from the following experience, which happens repeatedly when I get into one of these "volatile" phases. During such a phase, stuff "comes loose" very easily: if there is a bit of tension there, then all it takes is for me to focus on it for a little while, and it will start "breaking apart." This is followed by pleasure and relief at first, but this pleasure is accompanied/made of increasing energy, and this increased energy promotes even more effective and faster "breaking apart" of tense spots in the body, which in turn come loose and cause an increase in energy on their own.

This positive feedback loop accelerates and feeds itself, and very quickly the feeling of pleasure is replace with a sense of thrill, and if the process becomes too strong, thrill is replaced with anxiety and fear, which injects even more energy into the process and feeds it more, except at this point things are no longer pleasant at all.

At the very extreme of the process (at least the most extreme I have personally experienced it), it feels a bit like being raped by the universe. For instance, it is impossible to be in a public place because of the noise, as things that would usually be filtered such as banging of tableware are now felt banging my ear drums in the most intrusive of ways. Here I have reached extreme imbalance.

I have tried to be impartial in describing this process, but already in the way I have described it, you might think that maybe, just maybe, there is a way out. [1] Again I should warn you that not only my description of the process is itself somewhat theoretical (because although I have had the experiences above, I am of course not certain I am describing them in the most skillful way), and I have only been able to apply my "solution" two or three times, but if I am not mistaken then there is a specific point where it is possible to intervene in the process somewhat:

When something comes loose, or flows explosively from one place to another, pay attention to the quality of the sensations immediately as they happen; there is an energetic shit, the area feels energized, tingling, volatile, a bit like it was "on fire." I personally find some similarity with the electric-like sensations one might get when near orgasm. Several things can be done at that moment, and my natural tendency is to either:
  1. Surf on the sensation, focusing on it and sucking pleasure out of it, much like I would ride a wave of orgasmic pleasure; this is very tempting but should be avoided at least past a certain point.
  2. If the process is advanced, one thing that sometimes happens is that I tense the area again, in order to prevent it from building up more. I never actually tried to do this on purpose, but it has happened spontaneously on one occasion.
  3. it also may happen that I freak out, become anxious, and then an energetic thing of its own will start in the guts, adding energy to the whole system (which is usually very conductive at this point). This only makes things worst and can sometimes be avoided with a bit of skill (repeated intent + determination).




The way to avoid doing (1), I have found, is to notice that there is something unsettling about the kind of pleasure in question. It doesn't feel safe. Even in the beginning stages, before the process gains momentum, the feeling of fiery volatility is already there, and then it helps remembering where that feeling leads, and that will make me want to give up the orgasmic-like approach to handling these feelings.

And that is exactly the right thing to do at this point. I observe the sensations in the area that was released with an intention that reads like "I prefer the feeling of serenity to this feeling of fiery pleasure." When I incline into calmness that way, the sensations tend to slowly settle, yet leaving the area more alive and open than it was before the release. However I must maintain mindfulness, because like I said my natural tendency is to do (1-3) depending on the phase the process is in.

The corresponding gross attitude for me is to feel that I no longer desire to be euphoric. As in, I see the disadvantages in that. This attitude translates into all sorts of other things in life, such as in my attitude towards food (it is OK if I don't have super-mouth-watering food that often, if instead I am eating healthy-but-more-bland food that helps me stay healthy and more balanced).

In the context of a buddhist path, it seems to make complete sense — basically it is a skillful way of abandoning.

So far, this has worked quite well for me.

[1] Also, by the way I have described it, you can if you like imagine its complete opposite, which I have also experienced personally, where everything feels dull and stuck, the mind is prevented from moving anywhere, but neither is it comfortable where it is lying because it is hard and tense.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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9/8/13 2:03 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno:

Bruno Loff:


See if these descriptions resonate with you:
  • you feel that there is an excess of energetic activity
  • you feel that chi / energy is volatile, explosive
  • moving energy might be pleasurable at first, but as it becomes more volatile it also becomes more scary, like everything is changing too quickly
  • you sometimes feel your head spinning very fast, and you think very many things very intensely
  • you are prone to euphoria and great flashes of energy
  • it's like moving through a floor that is permanently shifting, and trapped with geisers (you sometimes press somewhere and WOOSH)


The key word is probably "volatile," in all it's meanings:
  1. evaporating rapidly; passing off readily in the form of vapor.
  2. tending or threatening to break out into open violence; explosive.
  3. changeable; mercurial; flighty: a volatile disposition.
  4. tending to fluctuate sharply and regularly.
  5. fleeting; transient.



My conjecture is that there is something intentional happening under the hood at some point in the process, something subtle and not easy to see, which gives the process momentum up to the point of imbalance. . . .

The way to avoid doing (1), I have found, is to notice that there is something unsettling about the kind of pleasure in question. It doesn't feel safe. Even in the beginning stages, before the process gains momentum, the feeling of fiery volatility is already there, and then it helps remembering where that feeling leads, and that will make me want to give up the orgasmic-like approach to handling these feelings.

And that is exactly the right thing to do at this point. I observe the sensations in the area that was released with an intention that reads like "I prefer the feeling of serenity to this feeling of fiery pleasure." When I incline into calmness that way, the sensations tend to slowly settle, yet leaving the area more alive and open than it was before the release. However I must maintain mindfulness, because like I said my natural tendency is to do (1-3) depending on the phase the process is in.

The corresponding gross attitude for me is to feel that I no longer desire to be euphoric. As in, I see the disadvantages in that. This attitude translates into all sorts of other things in life, such as in my attitude towards food (it is OK if I don't have super-mouth-watering food that often, if instead I am eating healthy-but-more-bland food that helps me stay healthy and more balanced).

In the context of a buddhist path, it seems to make complete sense — basically it is a skillful way of abandoning.


Thank you for taking the time to write out your observations. I had to read this over and over across several days. The terms you choose do pertain to emotional/energetic states with a subtle intentionality to them. My current difficulty seems to have to do with there being so many sets of vocabulary that aptly describe what I've been going through since August 2.

I'm not sure whether what you are describing is about a single sit, or some longer period of time off the cushion. In general, I'm not sure I could be described as given to euphoria, but maybe so in phases. I am absolutely sure I experienced the A&P exactly one week before the aura started. The A&P was a sort of culmination of dreams spread over a couple of months. In the dreams, I would know I was dreaming, and I would decide to sit down and meditate in the dream. In one of these dreams, I sat down with a Christian mystic friend of mine to meditate, and the walls peeled away. We started speeding on the floor, now a kind of raft, across the ocean--very fast, with water whooshing over the floor. Everything started glowing and swirling--anyway, yeah, really intense dreams, until the one the week before the aura, which was more abstract and hard to describe. But I've no doubt it was A&P, as the next day I rose with incredible euphoria and clarity and just this profound feeling that something life-altering was happening.

I am not aware that I subsequently felt anything like what you are calling volatility or explosive violence, but maybe I'm not as experienced in reading myself as subtly as you read yourself. During a particular sit, though, yeah--I can feel that bliss "threatens" to burst into something else and that intention is somehow subtly involved.

The day the hallucination began, I had a migraine headache. It was storming, flash flood (which often triggers migraines because rapidly falling barometric pressure causes vasospasm), and I stopped in at a coffee house to drink coffee in an effort to avert the pain. (Interestingly, this coffee house has a quote of Buddha on display.) As I drank the coffee--BOOM--suddenly my vision became wavy, undulating. . . .

This has been one of my "persistent migraine auras," and several triggers were in place for it, including the fact that my neuro had cut off my thyroid medicine, I was off one of my preventive meds, and I was adjusting to a new job with a new sleep schedule. However, I'm loathe to think that the A&P's proximity to this disintegration was mere coincidence. I've not been meditating since then, except for some brief calming breath meditation. I swear I have the feeling that I could easily experience everything in a kind of synesthesia flow just by sitting still and going with it. Fitter Stoke said something about calming the body as much as possible--that that was what feeling the breath energy in all the different parts of the body was supposed to do. So I do think I tend toward excitement while meditating, that I feel energy not as calming so much as escalating. So maybe you are onto something here.

I'm now back on the proper dose of thyroid and my vision is much better (still slightly distorted in the distance). I'm treating this as a medical event, but I'm also looking hard at the "maps" and thinking of it in these other terms, as well as how I tend to practice.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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10/12/13 6:06 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Perhaps no one is following this thread anymore, but I currently feel too "shy" or generically avoidant or something to start another. For one thing, I could spend ages here on the forum, just reading and absorbing old threads by others, so I should probably refrain from throwing in even a peep till X, whatever X may be, which isn't at all clear, which is the symptom paradoxically causing me to voice forth now.

All that is clear to me now is that I'm in this strange, vague unease. I'm not depressed, afraid, or in any definite feeling. I do tend to wake in the morning in a low mood, but it quickly lifts if I'm scheduled to work or do something. Occasionally, I even feel bliss and appreciation, but then I don't know what to do or make of that. I'm just stuck. It is as though my mind is somewhere between the guttural spasm that starts a hiccup, and the hiccup "itself" finished and labeled as such. I'm aware of a kind of slow-mo implosion or spasm, and that's all. "I" is for intention and can't find any bearings or orientation.

I understand, having read about the maps and reread, that it may be years before I have sufficient perspective on this time period from summer 2013 (A&P) to Persistent Aura to October aftermath to know how to regard or read it in terms of "progress." And "progress toward what" is the main question that I guess has enough definition to it that I have to confront it and attempt to answer it: what is my goal? The problem meantime is, time waits for no one, so I am "stuck."

On most people's advice and my own reflection, after the aura succeeded in frightening me, I backed off my practice while pursuing medical solutions to restore solid vision. These solutions have been mostly a success; however, I would be lying if I didn't acknowledge that something is still somewhat "off" about my vision, particularly when I'm driving, moving through a wide panorama. So I'm beginning to accept that my vision will never be the same as it was. I can work at my job just fine by focusing my attention on the task at hand. And the distortions rarely creep anymore into narrow scopes of vision, such as that required to view a computer screen. Sometimes they do, though, and lately I have accidentally noticed that some subtle intention seems involved. Or maybe it is just the release of the intention to concentrate on my work or other matter "lets" them escape. Which release may be intentional, too, but something in me does not want to find out. I'm so blocked that I'm not even sure whether this something is fear, laziness, or otherwise.

The few times that I have meditated, I've tried just calming concentration. The problem is, I tend to slip into noticing (not noting, which is too slow), and when I do, the visuals do come back on rather pointedly. Weeks ago, this was enough to make me abruptly end the session. I seem to have a hard time with straight concentration practice, because anytime I try to "solidify" an object, I confront that that solidity is false. So the effort feels contrived. And it is, as even Thanissaro Bhikkhu points out in saying that, when we practice samatha, we are working against the way things really are.

The apparent ability to bring on the visual distortions and, especially, the timing of the aura's onset--one week after I crossed the A&P--have led me to conclude this much: Although migraine is a physical disease with physical causes and triggers, there is no way in hell this timing was merely coincidental. For me, it is some kind of marker on the map. Oh, that it would be less disruptive, unpleasant, and dangerous.

Hence this avoidance around the edge of things, coupled with avoidance of the cushion even though I miss/crave my meditation sits. I'm in a kind of ADD overwhelm about how to resume practice now. So I don't. I don't even know the foundational question that would again move me toward the cushion. So I have no question but am open to others' thoughts.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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10/12/13 6:12 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Perhaps no one is following this thread anymore,

(...) So I have no question but am open to others' thoughts.
: )

Please try to sit tranquility meditation. It causes pleasant feelings, discipline, equanimity and insight. The discipline alone is enough to remove fuel from the mind that can feed even malaise.

Good luck, keh-mo-sabe.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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10/13/13 11:27 AM as a reply to Jenny.
If you don't like concentration practice and insight practice causes side-effects related to your condition, did you ever think about other modes of reducing anxiety?

I've given some of these book suggestions to others who feel meditation is not an option.

Avy Joseph: CBT

Focusing - Gendlin

I would also recommend Metta practice if you want something that only goes up to the 3rd jhana. Yes it's true that concentration practices are conditioned but you need conditioning while you are alive those and skills can be useful. I'm in the process of figuring out that one as well. Insight has given me a lot but if it's going to mess with your vision, then the above suggestions are still better than what most people do which is nothing. emoticon

Avy Joseph - Rational Emotive Behaviour

I wish you the best!

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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10/13/13 2:12 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
And it is, as even Thanissaro Bhikkhu points out in saying that, when we practice samatha, we are working against the way things really are.


Gosh, really?! Where does he say that?

He does say that eventually attention itself becomes the object, and concentration must be dropped, but all that I read by him says that concentration is the most fundamental tool in order to gain further discernment (in particular, discernment of the 4 noble truths), and that it is only abandoned in the end, when it is no longer necessary.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
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10/13/13 10:01 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno:

Gosh, really?! Where does he say that?

He does say that eventually attention itself becomes the object, and concentration must be dropped, but all that I read by him says that concentration is the most fundamental tool in order to gain further discernment (in particular, discernment of the 4 noble truths), and that it is only abandoned in the end, when it is no longer necessary.


Yes, Bruno, here is what I was remembering from his Meditation 4 talks, "Experimental Intelligence" and "Three Perceptions," where he's saying something more subtle than the way I referred to it, more in line with the way you say it above--good stuff:

"The Buddha never talked about 'three characteristics.' The phrase 'three characteristics' doesn't appear in his teachings. That was something added later in the commentaries. He taught these three themes--inconstancy, stress, not-self--as perceptions and contemplations, as labels you apply to things, and aspects you look for in your experience of things."

"They're not compounded with the word "characteristic." The words they are compounded with are perception, sanna--as in the perception of inconstancy, the perception of stress, and the perception of not-self--and the word anupassana, which means to contemplate or to keep track of something as it occurs. . . . Now, it's true that you'll frequently find in the Canon the statements that all things compounded or fabricated are inconstant, that they're all stressful. And all dhamma--all objects of the mind--are not-self. So if that's the way things are, why not just say that these are characteristic features of these things?. . . Because words are like fingers, and you want to make sure they point in the right direction--especially when they're laying blame, the way these three perceptions do. . . . The Buddha's concern is not with trying to give an analysis of the ultimate nature of things outside. He's more interested in seeing how the behavior of things affects our search for happiness. As he once said, all he taught was suffering and the end of suffering. . . . Our prime focus in meditation should always be on the mind. We're not trying to analyze things outside in and of themselves."

"There's a larger context for looking for these [three characteristic] things, or learning to see things in light of them. The larger context is formed by the four noble truths. . . . And as the Buddha traces out the causes of suffering, one of the big causes is clinging. So one way of learning how to let go of clinging is to see things in light of those three perceptions of inconstancy, stress, and not-self. You don't stop with just seeing things in terms of those perceptions. At the same time, you have to learn the right time and place to apply them: when they actually serve the purpose of leading to a greater happiness."

"You look after the breath, tend to it, because it helps the mind to settle down with a sense of ease and solidity that your going to need for deeper insights. At the same time, as you are working with the breath, you get insight into cause and effect. Because even when the mind settles down and you see things, you've got to test them. . . . You can't trust everything that comes out of the mind. [The Buddha] even said that arahants had to be heedful about their actions. Even totally enlightened beings can't totally assume that everything they see or hear is actually the way it is. They have to test it [in the context of ending suffering and gaining happiness]."

"And we try to push that perception [of the breath] into a state of solid concentration--which means that we're pushing it in the direction of making it constant and easeful, and getting it under our control."

"In this way, we're actually fighting the three characteristics as we try to bring the mind into concentration. We push to see how far we can find a happiness based on conditioned things. One reason for this is that if you don't push at a truth until it pushes back, you won't know how strong it is. Another reason is that we're going to need that conditioned happiness, that sense of relatively solid well-being, to put ourselves in a position where we can look at things very carefully as they come to be. That phrase, 'as they come to be,' comes in to play when we're no longer pushing. But we've got to push first."

"So you keep working on your concentration in all your activities, trying to keep the mind as constantly still as possible no matter what the outside conditions may be. You create the conditions for stillness inside, a sense of ease inside, and try to maintain that stillness and ease in the face of all sorts of conditions around you. You learn to gain more skill, more control."

"At this stage in the game, the issues of inconstancy, stress, and not-self apply primarily to the things that would distract you from your concentration. You try to see that no matter how attractive or alluring or interesting other topics might be, the don't measure up to concentration as a source for happiness. . . . . You keep this up, gaining these insights, until you've fully mastered concentration--which, as the Buddha once said, happens well after your first taste of the deathless."

"This means that there's going to be a long period in which you're essentially working against the three characteristics, at least as far as your concentration is concerned. . . . And again the focus is not so much on trying to get to the ultimate nature of these outside objects as it is on using the perception as a antidote for a tendency of the mind [toward distractions]. After all, these perceptions are not intended to be a statement of the ultimate nature of things out there."

"Ultimately, as your attachments to things outside of the concentration drop away, you turn your attention more to applying these three perceptions to contemplating the concentration itself. . . . You apply the three perceptions to . . . pry away even your attachment to concentration. That's when you incline the mind to the deathless--and, as the texts say, that inclination can take you in either of the two directions. One is to nonreturning, where you delight in your taste of nibbana as a dhamma, an object of the mind. The other is full arahantship, when you go beyond even taht kind of delight."

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10/13/13 10:23 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen,

I'd probably rather do nothing, too, than read a book on CBT, but thank you! I definitely will beef up my understanding of metta practice and do it more deliberately, schedule it. And, now that I reread Thanissaro Bhikkhu (quoted in response to Bruno here), I do feel motivated, from Thanissaro's perspective, to return to concentration practice. I think what he spells out there so subtly will indeed help me be less hung up on the notion of "reality" and more focused, as he says one should be at the beginning, on what brings stillness and calm, what will help fabricate solidity. It is okay that it is a fabrication. I'm not ready to go beyond that stage. I haven't done the work, the shoring up with these tools. Maybe that's why I cannot withstand the effects of "noticing" and bare awareness methods.

Thank you all for your help and patience. emoticon

Edit: Do you have any good sources to recommend for metta practice? Because I was in a Gelug tradition before switching to Theravada, I'm thinking it was called something else in Gelugpa, and usually was part of a longer practice or sadhana. It did help.

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10/14/13 2:24 AM as a reply to Jenny.
He's really great, huh? emoticon

This passage and others I've heard or read make me think that maybe he's talking about something quite different than MCTB. But I am not certain.

I have also been reading a lot of his stuff lately, and it was his stuff that motivated me to start getting into concentration practice. Katy's jhana hangout got me to actually do the practice regularly --- maybe you'll join us / them sometimes?

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10/14/13 8:13 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Yes. I had been reading his talks and some of his teachers' works exclusively for about 7 months when I accidentally encountered someone who urged me to read MTCB, which I did. MTCB was quite an eye opener, because, before I read it, I didn't really have sufficient context (the maps and just how radical perceptual shifts could be via advanced vipassana practice). I knew practically nothing about vipassana before reading MCTB, in fact. Therefore, until I read MCTB, many of Thanissaro's subtleties didn't jump out at me as important distinctions between samatha and vipassana, or between novice practice and advanced.

In short, I'm thinking that MCTB and Thanissaro Bhikkhu converge further up the line (or, er, path). But I think Thanissaro's tradition emphasizes a beginning practice stage that pushes concentration practice as far as it can go first (as a kind of necessary reality testing, ultimately). I also gather that the other reason for cultivating this "calm abiding" is so that one doesn't flip the shit when things "themselves" start presenting. He often speaks of the breath as a refuge, a home, a comfort. He even says to adjust the breath until it is as comfortable as can be. This is far from "bare awareness" of things as they arise. He encourages full-on fabrication. He says people can't just observe the breath without changing it intentionally, so don't try. Go ahead and adjust it all you want. Get it as close to perfect as possible. See just how far conditioned happiness does and doesn't go.

Then, I guess, and only then, is one ready for insight practice.

That said, I think it is also interesting that Ajahn Chah and Thanissaro rarely if ever distinguish between samatha and vipassana in their talks and texts. Ajahn Chah in fact says not to separate them into two separate practices or concepts at all! He finds that dangerous somehow--and I'm not done reading him, so I've yet to find out why. I am, of course, not sure, but this Thai Forest tradition seems to prefer an "organic" switch over to vipassana from samatha. That is, the jhana in which the practitioner starts "investigating phenomena" (ie, concentration itself) depends on that practitioner's makeup, or something like that. Maybe people like Daniel can jump onto the vipassana track from just access concentration and do just fine. Maybe others can't. And maybe yet others of us, like me, have a propensity for vipassana but are too fragile to go there without a whole lot more achievement in fabricating inner stillness, calm, and control.

There is, relatedly, another interesting level on which to compare MCTB with Thanissaro Bhikkhu: the emotional level. My impression when reading MCTB was that the main drive to finish this practice was to understand Ultimate Reality (emptiness), almost just for the sake of doing so, because one can. Yes, MCTB does talk about the reduction (elimination?) of "background suffering" (also known as "pervasive suffering") that awakening brings. However, there is still something impressionistic for me about that book's own overall restlessness. It is as if all this technical achievement didn't actually solve the problem I'm trying to solve, which is suffering, which is emotional-perceptual. The model of emotional perfection, and its counterparts, are rejected in MCTB. Moreover, the cycles of Fruitions continue endlessly, which I confess I found disappointing, despite my gratitude for Daniel's honesty about that never-ending ride. I also spent time this weekend reading Daniel's essay about his experiments with AF, as well as the dialogues between Tarin and others on the same. I just find it strange that reaching fourth path still left behind seeking impulses sufficient to make highly advanced dharma practitioners leave off dharma practice to experiment with AF. (This is not to say I have an opinion on AF. I don't.)

Notice that Thanissaro starts from a very different place. He has one focus on--become adept at--feeling good physically and emotionally first. The 3Cs are applied only to distractions (attachment, aversion), in a very macro-contemplative way, not to phenomena with a P, in a micro-scopic way. So, I don't have a hypothesis, but I'm vaguely wondering whether those very traditional cats, like Thanissaro, produce more integrated, completely happy, nonsuffering, nonseeking arahats--because they build this emotional refuge (albeit a Fabrication per excellence) first, so that practitioners control integration of perceptual shifts every step of the way--until, at least, the word "control" itself deconstructs.

As for the hangout, I just asked to be added. I'm not sure how mediation meetups work via hangouts, but, yeah, sounds groovy to find out.

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6/25/14 8:11 PM as a reply to Jenny.
This is just an update after months away. December through January 2013 I felt fine and lazy. I mostly quit practicing. I did samatha but felt sort of stuck in it, like I would eventually have to investigate these states. Perceptually, things stabilized for me; however, I still saw and see vibrations (hear and feel them, too) whenever I meditate or whenever I just quiet down and look for them. The bigger undulations stopped for the most part. I believe this was another macro round of Dissolution.

However, in February I received some totally unexpected and devastating genetic news. I learned that I'm at very high risk for something incurable, unpreventable, untreatable. Moreover, the report said it would cause cognitive decline within just a few years from now. This news traumatized me. I basically suffered a nervous breakdown, the first depressive episode I've had in 15 years. During this breakdown, I noticed very, very distinct Progress of Insight Stages, in precisely this order: Fear, Misery, Disgust, Desire for Deliverance, Reobservation. March and April were Fear. May was Misery. June was Disgust and Desire for Deliverance. Moreover, inside this longer progress, I noticed diurnal cycling, with early evening being absolutely the pits every day, like a combination of fear, misery, and DISGUST.

In early May, I went on an SNRI antidepressant, the same one I use to take to prevent migraines. It gradually helped, though I still have the issues that I'm perhaps going to literally lose my mind and die before I see grandchildren and exit middle age. I have decided that I have to go for Stream Entry. I just have to. I began sitting in samatha but with openness to seeing whatever presents. I sit often now with eyes open. 

I see very rapid vibrations, and constantly hear them. The visual vibes are so rapid now (they were much slower weeks ago) that I have to be very intent and still to see them instead of miss them. But overlaying these, or bowing out with them, are the big undulation things again, like those I saw last August, but now only when I'm meditating or when I want to see them during still moments during the day. 

I am finding the topic of EQ and formations difficult to think through and strategize around. And maybe that is a point. I have questions because there seems to be no consistency, or little, in how people describe the experience of formations in EQ. I'm guessing that these 3D undulating things I'm witnessing aren't EQ formations, because I'm still "over here" observing them come out at me. But what are formations anyway? In MCTB they are defined as the primary experience in EQ, but other versions of the Progress of Insight mention formations in much earlier stages. Yet others refer to them as just the fast vibrations, which I'm quite used to and unwowed by. Come to think of it, I've always seen vibrations, even when I was a child. So little of any of this is because I've extended time and effort in sitting. If I believed in past lives, I'd say I did most of the work before this life somehow, if any of these is practice-related at all.

I'm experiencing a lot of bodily pain while sitting. I'm in pain and still pained over my life stuff, but I can practice now and am no longer in the crisis I was a month ago. 

I'll start a new thread when the EQ questions articulate themselves for me. Thank you all, blessings to all.

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6/25/14 9:02 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Formations are a difficult concept. You really need to have strong concentration to perceive them. There are high-level practitioners around here who have read the Formations section in MCTB and have no idea what it's talking about. There was a thread about it somewhere but perhaps it's been buried in the migration...

The good news is, as long as you practice well, stream-entry comes. It does not matter if you were able to perceive formations emoticon 

I'm sorry I cannot more fully answer your question but I am pre-path as well, and struggling with practice.

If you really want to go for SE, have you thought about going on retreat? I'm at a point where I'm wondering if I should just put my life on hold and go for it. It's very complicated for me, though, because I have very young children, and I'm the only one who works in my family. I can't just leave for a retreat. So that leaves practicing at home, with lots of noisy kids... It can be frustrating.

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6/25/14 9:20 PM as a reply to Jenny.
I'm really sad to hear this.  

Remember that EQ towards formations is equanimity towards all experiences.  You would have to have equanimity towards your predicament as well which I cannot presume to prepare you for.  

Your consciousness is already leaning towards cookie-cutter perceptions of objects and it's automatically (casually as Daniel would say) leaning on those objects to like and dislike.  This means you need to have equanimity towards all "things".  I would listen to the below dharma talk as it goes into enormous detail of time, objects, intentions, attention.  You would need to contemplate this stuff over and over again in real meditation and fade your perceptions from consistently letting go of any clinging so that the consciousness weans off of objects.  I would also relinquish any beliefs that this practice will stop something genetic or be a cure of some sort.  This practice just gets you to reduce mental suffering as opposed to curing diseases or physical pain.  Believing in any miracle cures will just cause more suffering.  Thinking "I've got to get to stream entry" is more mental pain.  Keep vigilant with perceptions of objects in consciousness and let go of worrying about how they will be for you in the future, how they played out in the past and how they affect you now.  It's a tall order but seeing clearly how everything is cause and effect and eventually no cause and no effect is where you're heading.  (Eg. If cause is connected to effect then where's the line between the two unless you're chunking a perception out of it?)

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/9553/

I'm truly sorry for this diagnosis and feel any advice anyone gives would be glib.

Metta,

Richard

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6/25/14 10:08 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Thanks, guys. 

Richard, I should clarify: I have not been diagnosed with any disease. I did 23AndMe genetic testing to find out about my folate metabolism; accidentally, I found out from that test that I have 2 copies of the risk allele for Alzheimer's disease; it is not a deterministic gene, but rather a strong risk because I have 2 copies, one from each parent, which only 1.7% of the population is unfortunate enough to have. The studies I read put my individual risk at anywhere from 33% to 91% probability of developing AD. The odds ratio is 16 times the normal risk at the population level. If I do get it, this gene tends to make it start earlier, in the 50s. I just turned 50 when I found out. Except for a great grandmother who had some kind of dementia in her 70s, no one in my family tree has had symptoms or signs of this disease. All this is to say, I may or may not get it; no one can really quantify an individual's risk from the population studies. The disease is now thought to involve other genes, as well, and environmental factors--they just don't know which ones. Because the disease isn't in my family, the news was shocking. Unfortunately, I didn't take it well, and thus began a big mortality confrontation.

I do not for a minute think SE will cure me or prevent disease, although, from at least one perspective, now that I think of it, reducing fundamental suffering can only help in terms of epigenetics. At any rate, that is not my motivation. I feel resolve to practice to SE because, from what I've seen over the past year, I think I will in fact continue to cycle in the DN if I do not, and I'm tired of that "being stuck" kind of ignorance. 

We all have to die, and we don't know when or how it will happen. AD is definitely not a "how" that I would choose, but would anyone? No. When the time comes, I think I will accept death and even the encroachment of this disease, if it happens. Nothing is to be gained by not accepting it, and I'm mindful that I not present my son with a fearful picture of dying. I almost was killed in a car accident when I was 18. It was one of those slow-motion rolls in the car, with life flashing before my eyes. I comprehended during the wreck that I was about to die. I accepted it instantly, with love for the friends in the car with me and for everything. That is how it will be when the real reaper comes.

I will listen to the talk, with gratitude.

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6/25/14 10:26 PM as a reply to Jenny.
My mother died of Alzheimer's and it was not good but we all have to die and all forms of death are unpleasant.  From what Shinzen Young said is that Arhats who got Alzheimer's simply had less frustration than most patients experience at the beginning of the disease but everything else is the same.

I'm glad to know that it's not 100% fatalistic so I'm sure you'll have to continue using your brain and keeping it busy to slow down progress regardless.  In fact everyone should keep learning and using their brains to offset dementia since half the population over the age of 80 have some form of it.

Richard

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6/25/14 10:38 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Yes, all true. I'm sorry your mother and your family had to suffer because of AD. It is likely harder on the family than on the one who has it. It is becoming much more prevalent. I'm addressing possible risk factors that I can control, such as lowering of my high copper levels and raising zinc. For some reason, high eduation is supposed to delay the signs and symptoms; I have that much, a PhD and active mental pursuits. The Government has passed an act to greatly increase research funding, pushing for treatments that work.

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6/25/14 11:47 PM as a reply to Jenny.
High education helps but to be more specific is that we stretch ourselves into different territory so that we can feel the pain and draining feeling of learning something new.  That seems to be what needs to happen which sounds a lot like body-builders that plateau and need to stretch themselves to uncomfortable territory to develop further.

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6/26/14 12:50 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Something that has not been mentioned is diet.  Avoid processed foods, eat real food that goes bad in the refrigerator type of food.  IF it sits o the shelf for 10 years and the germs don't want it, probably not good for you either.  And light exercise.  I noticed my brain function is quite different on a diet of processed carbs and sugar and sitting in front of the TV/computer, than if I eat whole foods, and go for a short walk instead.  I don't want to go into the whole meat eating debate, that could go on forever, but it is said that meat helps ground.  I think sugar definitely does the opposite at least.  I don't thinjk it's possible to separate mind from body, they both are in constant interaction. 

IMO, you've been very smart about analyzing your situation and coming up with game plans.  It's hard to know because no one has all the answers.  People are also probably extra sheepish about commenting to some degree when the stakes are higher for fear of being wrong and so more likely to want to send you elsewhere than risk it.  But IMO, symptoms from meditation and symptoms from being 'crazy' can't easily be separated.  EMotions and development seem to follow repeating paths and those paths IMO are similar in the case of meditation development, dealing with crisis, 'mental illness' or whatever.  So I don't think it's easy to say what is and what is not related to meditation.  There is no clear dividing line between meditation and the rest of one's life, both of them constantly interact. 

But what is 'crazy' anyway?  As far as I can tell, everyone has weird %*)(W, some just hide it better than others.  If you hide it really well, you are 'normal.'   If you are less good at hiding it, then you are 'weird' or if you are rich, then you get to be 'eccentric' instead.  But if you can't take care of basic needs well like food, shelter, and basic cleanliness, or if you scare the crap out of friends and/or neighbors, then you might get labeled 'crazy.'  And what is 'crazy' in one culture might be just 'weird' in another.  Or if  you are in the jungle, some of the 'crazy' people might  instead be considered accomplished shamans and the tribe would happily help out with food.  Maybe society just likes to see ssomeone fit into society to a certain extent, if you can't fit in, then you are crazy.  In order to fit in, you have to act similar enough to the majority standards of your society in that place and time frame.  Otherwise people might sidle away as if it might be contagious cooties. 

But you can always placate a nervous majority by couching things according to their way of thinking.  That's why you are so right that it doesn't work to go to the neurologist and talk about crossing the A and P.  A lot of what is talked about here, although normal while in here, would sound 'crazy' once outside this enclave.  A lot of how to not get labeled crazy is to know who talk to about what things and what language to use.  If you use their language and couch it in their terms, then they think you are not crazy.  Come here and talk about medications, and people may get nervous, talk about the powers, dark night, etc, then you are 'normal' for here, but of course, does not fit at all when at the hospital!  If you ask me, the whole mixed up societal setup is more crazy than anything else!   

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6/26/14 1:58 AM as a reply to Jenny.
I also have double ApoE4. I've done a fair amount of research on it so far. I can summarize my findings: limit saturated fats, limit cholesterol, limit alcohol intake (inconclusive evidence on this one). Be sure to take all the typical Alzheimer's preventative cautions: exercise the mind, exercise the body, and typical diet stuff (avoid processed foods, variety, sufficient micronutrients).

And, ApoE4 isn't all bad.

Figured I should chime in with health advice. Good luck fellow double-ApoE4er!

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6/26/14 12:02 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
I didn't go heavily into detail because nutrition is so controversial.  What is currently standard advice has been shifting rapidly in recent years.  But one thing has actually been known for quite some time is that most cholesterol in your body is made by your body.  The body establishes a set point of cholesterol it maintains.  If you eat more cholesterol, the body just produces less to keep it in balance.  If you eat less, the body produces more.  This is actually well known amongst scientists and is not debated.  Strangely it is not super common knowledge amongst the general population and the food industry loves to market 'lower cholesterol' foods that they can easily make and then charge extra for.  But how much cholesterol you eat does not directly influence blood cholesterol levels by much and the affect it does have is very short lived because the body compensates.  They are not sure what does determine the set point though, genetics certainly, and exercise and age, and maybe some other foods you eat, but that is still not well known. They often lay the blame on saturated fat but that is not well proven either.  And often in research, the fat sources they use are things like hyrogenated vegetable oil, an unnatural oil that is rancid and loaded with transfats.  Results for that may not apply at all to animal fat for instance and much research suggests they don't.  Also consider that cholesterol is not DIRECTLY linked with other problems, only correlated.  But there are plenty of people with sky high cholesterol but no actual health problems and there are plenty of people with low cholesterol and plaque buildup.  That means that cholesterol levels alone are not the cause, there are other factors which are currently not known.  Anyway, it's good to consider that all cell walls need cholesterol for proper functioning and a large perventage of the brain is made of cholesterol.  Cholesterol is essential for proper body function, that's probably why you see so many weird side effects from statins. 

Sorry to butt in, studying nutrition is a side hobby of mine.  The advice I gave, I picked carefully to be the most likely to be correct given current knowledge and looking at the most recent research.  Advice like saturated fat is bad has become very controversial in recent years amongst many researchers and you are starting to see a reversal on that issue.  What seems to be more important is what kind of fat exactly you are talking about, processed crap or natural food sources.  Processing (especially under high heat and pressure like for extruded cereal, dried milk and protein bars) makes fats rancid, denatures amino acids and vitamins, sometimes making them toxic, and adds loads of chemicals, many of which are not on the label because they are legally considered part of 'processing' procedure and not an actual 'ingredient' even though they end up in the final product.  There is still much controversy, but personally, I feel all natural fat sources of like coconut oil are probably healthy.  In fact, research has shown natural saturated fats to be VERY protective against alcoholic liver damage in rats and other vascular issues. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15051845 (and this result has been replicated multiple times by other researchers) and most correlational research does not find problems correlated with saturated fat intake as long as the research compares people in the same country.   But it won't work if you use Crisco or vegetable oil, it has to be natural fats only that give the beneficial result.  Saturated fats really should not all be lumped into one big category, the body handles each one differently and research outcome can vary drastically according to which source is used.  However, some things are quite likely to be true are that unnatural chemicals are probably often not good for you and that vitamins and nutrients are good for  you, both issues can be dealt with at the same time by eating whole foods that are not heavily processed. Of course cereal has one of the highest profit margins of all foods so the food industry would love it if you continue eating lots of it anyway.  ;-P          

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6/26/14 2:18 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Going to need a source on that cholesterol info.

I agree that dietary advice seems to shift every few years. I would also say that corporations exploit tentative science for marketing. In particular, causation is often prematurely inferred from correlation. But, I think this core advice stands the test of time: avoid processed foods, get variety.

Thisthis and this might interest you.

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6/27/14 12:38 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
For the dietary cholesterol vs endogenous production, it's been a while since I've looked that up but here are a few studies:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholesterol (look under physiology section)
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8297185&fileId=S0007114511000237
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10419117
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jdr/2012/361863/ (this one covers a lot of territory including effects of various sugars)

Yes, I am very familiar with the lipid hypothesis and its detractors.  I do think a careful revisiting of the evidence puts the lipid hypothesis in the cross hairs and there are definitely some things that don't jive.  The prob with most saturated fat data is that much of it can be accounted for in other ways, for instance early research was done with rabbits, an herbivore that famously cannot tolerate much fat of any kind since it's not normal to their natural diet.  Rats also cannot tolerate as much fat as humans in general.  Other research came via comparing across countries but the problem there is people in another country are different in hundreds of ways besides just fat intake, it's impossible to know which variable does what heathwise when comparing across countries.  Plus there is ample evidence that several meat eating cultures like Masai and Inuit had very little heart problems when eating their natural diets.  Another problem is that a lot of people who eat high saturated fat these days are eating cookies, burgers, and french fries, which are not healthy for a whole bunch of reasons besides the saturated fat and the slew of cheap correlational studies are not able to compensate for that kind of thing.  Also interesting to consider the not so well known fact that statins have antiinflammatory effects and some believe that may account for the apparent benefits that show from their use and that it may not be the cholesterol lowering at all.  There are a lot of nuances that get lost in the shuffle but are probably important. 

Thats interesting about E4s apparently absorbing cholesterol better but producing less internally.  Even when something shows one way for thhe majority does not mean it's like that for smaller majorities.  That's another reason why research tends to miss all but the largest effects on tthe population, there is too much individual variation and what is good for a majority is not always good for a minority.  That still begs the question about cholesterol lowering though.  Cholesterol provides important immune system function and may be correlated with sickness because it is the traffic cop but not the perpetrator in the system: http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/96/12/927.full  .  If that turns out to be the case, then the emphasis on lowering cholesterol may be off base.  As I said before, some people with high cholesterol never have plaque buildup and some with lower cholesterol get heavy plaque. Why is that?  We need to know the other parameter that makes the difference.  Currently, they are thinking the main factor may be inflammation but if so, then we need to know what exactly causes inflammation.  Of course, big pharma has been hard at work lately coming up with pills for inflammation...       

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
6/27/14 6:29 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
I see very rapid vibrations, and constantly hear them. The visual vibes are so rapid now (they were much slower weeks ago) that I have to be very intent and still to see them instead of miss them. But overlaying these, or bowing out with them, are the big undulation things again, like those I saw last August, but now only when I'm meditating or when I want to see them during still moments during the day. 

I am finding the topic of EQ and formations difficult to think through and strategize around. And maybe that is a point. I have questions because there seems to be no consistency, or little, in how people describe the experience of formations in EQ.



Jen, for what it's worth, it sounds like your center of experience is the dark night nanas, which are showing up more as vibrations than emotions. The easiest way to move through these stages is to really just feel/experience the vibrations as intimately as possible. It's probably going to be a wild ride and you are going to want to take care and back off if things get too intense. Make sure you back off if things get too intense and stop practice, walk around outside, eat an enjoyable meal, take a bath, etc. But that said, my hunch is that by tuning into the vibrations, things will get more "concentration-like" and less "noting practice-like". The vibrations will eventually feel like they are massaging your mind and body.

Don't worry about "looking for" EQ. That's a huge mistake. Many people experience EQ without the obvious "formations" that Daniel talks about, so don't think you need to experience that or you're not getting. What is possible is that the vibrations get really bad (Reobservation) and then break apart into a feeling of more space along with an emotional release. You'll feel the weight has lifted. You might feel a little weepy. If you look back, you'll probably realize that what got you through reobservation was just a willing to experience whatever was happening. That's the doorway to EQ. But you can't decide this ahead of time and it can't be rushed. You have to have a little of it, chew it, digest it, take another bite, etc. Little by little you can move through dark night and reobservation. It isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be hard either.

Your biggest challenge will be to balance going through reobservation and not biting off more than you can chew. Don't be a hero, just aim for conisistent practice, something you can do day in and day out.

Progress isn't made by looking for the next stage of experience. It's made by being intimate in whatever is presenting itself right now, which is a door to another door to a door to a door...

Good luck!

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
6/27/14 10:58 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
I don't believe in the hysteria about serum cholesterol, or that statins are harmless, let alone good for people. The math behind the studies that first made serum cholesterol the bugaboo for CVD was bad--so much so that a course I took on editing medical journals held it up as the poster child for what mischief bad math can do in the scientific community. I'm too new to the whole APOe4 thing to really grasp what it has to do with AD-type dementia, but I suspect that excess sugar is more of a problem than, say, animal fat. I eat a nutrient-dense whole foods diet, avoiding processed foods, gluten, sugar, and excess simple carbs. For added fats I use only EVOO, coconut oil, and organic butter. I eat a lot of organic fruits (berries) and vegitables. I eat red meat maybe once a week and chicken a lot. I took the genetic test in the first place to identify methylation issues; I have C667T heterozygous, so I'm addressing that with L-methyl-folate to bring down my homocysteine. High homocysteine is also implicated in AD.

My neurologist wanted to test my serum cholesterol and discuss statins, but my other doctor, who herself is at high risk for AD, disagrees with going down the statin road. She says to avoid sugar instead. My cholesterol has for years been around 230, but I've had echocardiograms and carotid artery sonograms and show 0% plaque in arteries, which is not what one would expect if serum cholestoral means anything for CVD. Two of my doctors no longer even test people's cholesterol after lack of correlation was seen over and over again between serum cholesterol and plaques.

Most Americans have terrible copper-zinc ratios and excess unbound copper. Look at the work of Professor George J. Brewer. He is the one who got approval from the FDA to develop a treatment for Wilson's disease, a genetic disorder that causes life-threatening high copper levels. His more recent focus has been on AD, and he has published papers showing historical data, a mouse model, and controlled studies with AD patients--all of which support high copper as causative in AD. I had my levels tested, and, yep, my excess unbound copper is 47%, and my zinc is low. Dr. Brewer is halting dementia in patients by treating them with high doses of zinc. I'm taking low doses of zinc and slowly building up after I suffering through some "copper dumping" from too high of a dose at first. 

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
6/27/14 11:11 PM as a reply to x x.
Thanks for reminding me that progress isn't made by looking for progress--probably especially true with regard to EQ. 

I think I'm currently past Reobservation. I think Dark Night ended second week of June. I think since then I've been in low EQ, but this is where I usually get confused and slide back down. 

I've never really not seen vibrations. I thought everyone saw them. My husband and I talk sometimes of how when we were kids, in the dark, we saw bees. We laugh because we both know exactly what these are, and they are vibrations. In March, April, and May--the only reason I didn't see the usual vibrations was that I had such a visceral turning away from meditation and even just being conscious. That suddenly went--maybe at least partly because antidepressants finally kicked in. At any rate, I'm no longer recoiling. I'm cool with practicing, but I do keep reading that buying into expectation can short-circuit EQ.

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
6/28/14 12:10 AM as a reply to Jenny.
I suspect the thing about trying with effort to get to some states is that when people 'try,' what they often try is not what is actually going to work and that what they try may even often be detrimental.  Like looking towards the future with longing and not liking the now, but then not working on the issues of the now either.  It's like a kind of avoidance, like always wishing it was the future already and of course the future is always just out of reach so you will never be happy trying to get there instead of being here in the now and working with the things right in front of you now.  Like if you spend a lot of time looking at the beauty of the distant mountain but not a lot of time looking at the tricky terrain under your feet, it's going to take a lot longer to make it to the distant mountain!  Or some people spend a lot of time worrying about potential canyons and rivers ahead but still do not spend much time looking at the now either..  ;-P
-Eva   

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
6/28/14 6:04 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
Thanks for reminding me that progress isn't made by looking for progress--probably especially true with regard to EQ. 

I think I'm currently past Reobservation. I think Dark Night ended second week of June. I think since then I've been in low EQ, but this is where I usually get confused and slide back down. 


Confusion is fine. Low EQ is clunky. Just be with clunky, simple as that. (Congrats on finding your way out of the dark night!)

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
6/28/14 7:15 PM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
Richard Zen:
I would talk to a psychiatrist and ask him/her if meditation is okay for you because how would any of us here know without being your doctor?


Without that psychiatrist being a meditator himself/herself, how would he/she know if meditation would help this lady with her condition?

FWIW, I used to have migraines myself as a child and they have gone away. Meditation did the trick.
I agree with your attitude of persistence -- persisting through the mind phenomenon and somatics that sometimes occurs when one begins a meditation practice to vanish the mind.  My partner suffered migraines most of his adult life after a motorcycle accident that killed his girlfriend.  He is just now pulling out of it and he has persisted for many years, going within, looking within in the particular way that he does.

The first time I decided to meditate I likewise freaked out and discontinued the practice:  My head changed into the shape of a lizard or what I later came to know as a reptilian.   I did get my courage up and through my meditation practice resolved that fixation.   The second time I decided to do a meditation I felt I was asphyxiating, but I was wiser then and persisted through the discomfort.   Now I can do Vipassana or other meditation practices and the only thing I have is a noisy, distracting mind ("ummm, what's in the refrigerator?").  This is a good thing because it is what the mind is giving me and I can always work with what the mind is giving me instead of fighting it. 

My personal wisdom is that if a meditation practice is producing symptoms or other phenomenon, life reviews, etc, then it is working and to continue.   If the mind stream of content does get too intense to experience then I stand up and walk around the room putting my hands on things and observing them until I am calm again and can continue.  I always do some creative visualization after a session of guided meditation.

To sum, the hardest part is starting and the second hardest thing is to continue until a final resolution of the mind.

NOTE:  Personally I've discovered that fasting and moving towards a raw fruit and salad diet that is more complementary with the biomechanics of the body does help mollify extreme body and emotional manifestations.  
For example, my morning meditation seems to be more focused when I eat only strawberries and blueberries together (although I once had a profitable session after getting buzzed on a glass of red wine).

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
6/28/14 7:46 PM as a reply to Colleen Peltomaa.
The impression I've gotten is that if you are trying to get to the land of strange faster, then eat lighter foods and fast more, but if you are trying to slow down the wild ride, then eat more and eat meat and try taking a shower.  Not sure if that is true or not but I've heard it a lot. 

RE: Please Help: How Do I Get Off This Ride or Slow It Down?
Answer
11/21/15 7:08 AM as a reply to Jenny.
I had migraine yesterday.

Migraine can be different things. Headache, nausea, fear of death. Cold, sweat, heat. Pulsation in head, unable to conscentrate, not seeing properly. Body feels like it can't get enough nutrition, weak to move. Body starts smelling bad.
Heart bounding heavy at night, feeling like a weakling.
Aura: it starts from the left eye periphery. Its like almost-freezed water on a car windshield. Or a freezed iceflowers on window but its liquid. Left eye is veiled.

These symptoms can be experienced separately on different times. Maybe one day only the weakness, other day its heart racing.

Maybe its fever. There is probably no such thing as migraine or fever. You can mediate and find perverted energy in head or remove a block, it can activate sickness.
These are caused by demons?(no clear scientific explanation nor cure yet). They afraid light. Stay with the symptoms clearheadly, not get absorbed into them.

You can get affected by greed and it will spread over your body and you can get full blown migraine. People think that they go outside and can catch a cold. Its not cold its a malware(demon whatever). We can have demon in the head and then we let it to the body to purify it, you body will come cold, nausea headache, anyway if you win then awareness rises to the head, vibrations in belly rise, warmth rises, very good feeling. 

Nice thing is that mind gets more powerful there is many possible ways how to defeat those threats.

Happy hunting.