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TOPIC: Dark night or just PMSing?

Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 11:03 #97629

Not wanting to meditate, difficulty concentrating, feeling overwhelmed with challenging emotions like anger and sadness…
Sometimes I think I am in the dark night and it turns out just to be PMS, or vice versa. Maybe this is a testimonial to the cyclical nature of our lives?
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 11:55 #97630

Maybe experience is what it is, regardless of what name you have for it or how you 'explain' it? ;)

The real question remains: "This being so..." what do you do?
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 12:35 #97631

What Kate said. :)
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 13:06 #97634

Hmm, we all have cyclic ups and downs and whatever their cause I find it's important to balance 1) using it as an opportunity to check my own reactivity, to see how that leads to my own suffering and that of others'-- and 2) yet, making necessary clarifications in my boundaries, lifestyle choices, etc. That's a tough balance but I don't want to lose either side.

This has been and still is a tough one for me to work on.

So whether dark night or hormones, there seems to be a balance between cultivating ultimate insights and relative/relational insights. I don't want to use the former to avoid the latter (spiritual bypassing).

I really hope I'm not being a jerk by posting in this thread! Obviously I don't have first-hand personal experience of PMS, but like most humans, I do experience cyclic moods and sensitivities.

ETA: actually, I've been told by various co-habitors that I maybe experience those cycles a little *more* than most haha!
Last Edit: 10 Feb 2015 13:09 by Jake St. Onge.
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 13:45 #97635

Actually, considering the PMS possibility could have the positive result of finding bodily means of grounding yourself-- diet, exercise, rest, breathing.

And that's likely to be helpful if the experience is called "Dark Night," too. We 'spiritual' types tend to think everything starts with mind/psyche. Being reminded that we are being embodied at every moment is good: we can directly address mind through body, not just vice-versa.
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 14:56 #97637

Yes--for example, I've been feeling a bit ebullient today, and realized that I've taken some pain pills with a codeine derivative, part of the opioid family. And I love how it makes me feel. But there's chemistry at work, so even if I'm basically going through a happy cycle, this is really helping!
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 15:14 #97638

That explains the bouquets of flowers thing, eh? ;)
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 16:41 #97640

@derya - the PMS test: take some Midol Teen. All better? It was PMS. Still filled with existential horror? Dark Night.

:woohoo: :silly:
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 16:49 #97641

Ona Kiser wrote:
That explains the bouquets of flowers thing, eh? ;)

Well, not entirely. I've wanted something like that before the chemicals took effect. But maybe I'm in a better mood because of it!
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 16:50 #97642

The best antidote for that situation is menopause. :P
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 19:06 #97647

Sorry if anyone was offended by this- it wasn't my intent. I appreciate the responses that this is just another thing to observe- and I agree, and I am doing my best to do that. I'm not trying to deep searching here, I just think it is interesting. I wish there was somewhere that some of these topics were able to be explored further- like how we have so many evidence based practice journals for science and medicine...what if we had ones that looked at different effects of lifestyle on meditation? Like is caffeine actually helpful or not? Randomized control trials of people who diligently follow the maps vs those who don't but objectively observe whatever arises, etc. AND @ Ona maybe it's not that simple as just "taking midol" because- as Kate mentioned our minds and bodies are intricately related- so who is to say that there is not some chemical (such as neurotransmitter or hormonal) that is occurring physically when someone actually is in the dark night (that would be another good study!) I know all this stuff doesn't "really matter" in the ultimate goal of meditation, but I think it's healthy and motivating and fun to think about.
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 19:16 #97648

And I also just have to add that asking these kinds of questions helps take away some of the "woo woo just believe in it" attitude that seems to surround meditation in mainstream culture. If we can show more (there has been some studies already) effects of the benefits and challenges (and their causes and resolutions) of meditation through scientific inquiry- then perhaps more people will engage who previously would not have been drawn to something that seems overly spiritual to them.
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 19:27 #97650

I was trying to banter, joke and make light of the subject. Sorry.
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 20:14 #97654

Oops-- was anyone offended at any point? I think it's possible to make good points seriously and with the odd joke or two. At least, I hope so! :silly:
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 20:15 #97655

Yeah, I guess my long winded response was a little uncalled for. I'm a little emotional right now :blush:
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 20:18 #97657

All honest participation is valuable. It's all good.

And lucky you to have the kaleidoscopic, fast-forward display to notice! :ohmy:
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 20:28 #97658

Derya Anderson wrote:
Yeah, I guess my long winded response was a little uncalled for. I'm a little emotional right now :blush:

I'm certainly not offended. I was never subject to obvious PMS symptoms, or not any that I noticed, but I had a lot of trouble with both depression and anxiety, so it all tended to get lost in the shuffle. I asked in the early stages of practice whether there was a discernible difference between mood disorder and dark night stuff, but I found my own answer in my experience. There seemed to be a special flavor to the dark night nanas; for example, beyond my generalized anxiety or even response to certain phobias, in dark night I'd feel a kind of existential dread that would leave me wondering how anyone manages to navigate this life we all share. I felt as if I should fall down and bow before everyone I met to show my deep respect for the heroism of getting up and going through each day as a human being.

It may make sense as you go through your monthly and yearly cycles alongside your progress of insight cycles for you to notice whatever seems to be manifesting. Our journals here are great for that. It's not possible to pigeonhole all of it, of course, but anything that adds to your knowledge of yourself is good, and sharing with your sangha makes it all the more valuable.
Last Edit: 10 Feb 2015 20:29 by Laurel Carrington.
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Dark night or just PMSing? 10 Feb 2015 21:54 #97662

I'll say one thing, taking the meditation seat regardless of whether we want to or not has a way of really shedding a light on things. There is no such thing a meditation separate from body health/condition nor mediation stages separate from psychological life stuff... but it is possible to tease things out and frankly surprise ourselves. Sometimes when we're feeling the least motivation is the best time to sit. Nothing grueling necessarily and not with an intention to fix anything, just a twenty minute sit to let whatever is happening play out in the light of dedicated awareness.
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Dark night or just PMSing? 16 Feb 2015 23:58 #97724

(...funny that this is I think going to be my first post on this forum)

I struggle with this a lot. Not pms specifically, but the larger question of what is a body/brain/chemistry problem to be fixed, versus what is a samsara problem to observe/be with/open towards. In some sense, everything is a samsara problem, but it wouldn't be skillful to vipassana the hell out of your broken leg if you had an opportunity to get some medical care for it. Over the years, I've spent a lot of time swinging a bit wildly between those two extremes (fix vs observe). During the fix times, I've become pretty highly aware of different body states and the impacts they have on my level of suffering (things like my hormonal cycle, which I seem to be super sensitive to, blood sugar highs and lows, eating high carb vs low carb vs no carb, circadian rhythms and even stuff like sensory input on my skin from different fabric textures, etc ad nauseum). In my "fix" states I've spent a lot of time looking into neurotransmitter imbalances and genes and methylation issues. I like it - it's the type of thing my brain is good at (more so than meditation) and for short periods it makes me feel like I'm in control. However, while I have made a few discoveries that improve my baseline level of being, on the whole I feel like the "fix" states have increased my self-awareness dramatically, without actually decreasing my suffering very much. No real point to all of this, but it's something I think about generally a lot, and even more recently.
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Dark night or just PMSing? 17 Feb 2015 05:47 #97727

sloane wrote:
In some sense, everything is a samsara problem, but it wouldn't be skillful to vipassana the hell out of your broken leg if you had an opportunity to get some medical care for it.

Do both!
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Dark night or just PMSing? 17 Feb 2015 09:34 #97731

Hahaha! Took the words right out of my mouth.
I definitely agree it is a both/and.
The and is: and you can vipassanize the fixer/fixing/fixed complex, in real time. That's really helpful to open the whole thing out. Myself I find my 'fixing' tendencies have really opened up due to this, so that they... how to put this... only speaking for myself, here, by the way... but it's as if they have become 'lighter', less personal. Fixing can be seen more as belonging in the flux and flow of life, within the horizon of a deeper openness so to speak, so the 'fixing' tends less to aim for fixing samsara itself (a fools errand) and is more pragmatic, in the play of everyday life, self-regulation stuff. It's just much less heavy and psychological, even when it is about resolving deep psychological issues.
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