Guidance Please!

  • joelchigliak
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7 years 10 months ago #94174 by joelchigliak
Guidance Please! was created by joelchigliak
I have a long-standing history of anxiety and depression. I recently got (what I'm 99% sure was) stream entry and after about a week of feeling fantastic and 'empty' of self, I started to have a really hard time obviously 'cycling' through the stages (review?) whilst trying to get to sleep at night. Eventually this faded but I then slipped into the worst 3-month depressive episode I've ever had (signed off work and couldn't get out of bed.)

I realise this is probably not the best way to ask this, but I'm wondering - based on your experiences - whether you think I should continue with this hardcore mindfulness business? In terms of probability, am I likely to be through the worst of this or facing worse dark nights/cycling to come? I'm just not sure who to turn to or trust anymore after being introduced to 'mindfulness-lite' by my doctor.....
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  • Russell
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7 years 10 months ago #94175 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Guidance Please!
Hey Joel,

Welcome. 1st, please describe your practice previous to what you think was SE and describe the event itself. Did you have a teacher? 2nd, make sure you keep seeing your doctor/therapist if you are feeling depressed or anxious at the levels you seem to be talking about. This practice is not designed to avoid these type of problems, but to face them. And yes, it can make it worse in some stages as you have seen.

If you did get SE, then it's hard to not continue, because now you are in the "stream". The level of awareness at that point makes it hard not to break things down. Things start to take a mind of their own it seems.
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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 10 months ago #94176 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
My practice prior to SE was about 2 hrs per day of fairly undisciplined counting breaths/noting/listening to external sounds for about 6 months. At one point I started to suspect I was cycling between DN and EQ and when in EQ I noted 'gone' on the end of the sound trail of a passing car. My consciousness flashed up into my head and spasmed wildly for about 5 seconds. When I came to again it was clear Something Was Different. My internal chatter was diminished by about 80% and there was a distinct difference in my sense of self which lasted about a week. If I shut my eyes I would find myself in different jhanas pretty quickly- still no idea which ones. I then started to become aware of cycling through fear etc when going to sleep. I didn't have a teacher.

Btw- just out of interest- are you the same 'Russell' on here who has found the whole 'enlightenment' thing somewhat underwhelming?
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  • Russell
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7 years 10 months ago #94177 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Guidance Please!

"joelchigliak":3m0v782r wrote: Btw- just out of interest- are you the same 'Russell' on here who has found the whole 'enlightenment' thing somewhat underwhelming?[/quote:3m0v782r]

Underwhelming? No, but it is not what I expected. I am not sure what I expected anymore, as i do t have expectations of what will or can possibly come next. But I will say this whole thing is actually very ordinary in a way.

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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 10 months ago #94178 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
Does anyone else have any guidance they could offer? Just don't know who to turn to/trust about this anymore? Tried talking a bit about it to my psychiatrist and he - perhaps unsurprisingly - looked at me like I was even more 'mad'!....
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  • Russell
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7 years 10 months ago #94179 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Guidance Please!

"joelchigliak":h8zyti0k wrote: My practice prior to SE was about 2 hrs per day of fairly undisciplined counting breaths/noting/listening to external sounds for about 6 months. At one point I started to suspect I was cycling between DN and EQ and when in EQ I noted 'gone' on the end of the sound trail of a passing car. My consciousness flashed up into my head and spasmed wildly for about 5 seconds. When I came to again it was clear Something Was Different. My internal chatter was diminished by about 80% and there was a distinct difference in my sense of self which lasted about a week. If I shut my eyes I would find myself in different jhanas pretty quickly- still no idea which ones. I then started to become aware of cycling through fear etc when going to sleep. I didn't have a teacher. [/quote:h8zyti0k]

Sorry, I didn't have time to answer your question last night. I think it would be best to talk to a teacher, even just quickly over skype to get a better idea of what is up. I don't know if that was SE or not by that description. I am happy to chat to get more details but I do not consider myself a teacher, but I can give lots of recommendations. PM me.

As for the therapist, did you talk to them about the meditation stuff? I would suspect most people would look at us as if we were mad. I suggest you don't mix the two.

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  • Bill29ish
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7 years 10 months ago #94180 by Bill29ish
Replied by Bill29ish on topic Re: Guidance Please!
I agree with everything else Russell has posted. I experienced some very delusional/paranoid/anxiety-wracked/depressing periods in the weeks after stream entry, and it was quite debilitating. I think it is imperative that you continue working with psychiatrist/therapist about whatever may be coming up for you. The dark night/review may be exacerbating some things, but it can not manufacture anything, it's all an expression of us. I say this because there were things I was blind to, because it was easier to scape goat it as just more dark night stuff. As for specific practical stuff, if you did hit stream entry things will continue to move forward. Try to cut down on practicing as intensely and allow things to settle. As for specific practices, i found metta to be extremely beneficial for periods where I was very contracted, specifically sending the energy of metta to the places of discomfort. There's also a vajrayana practice called earth breathing that is very grounding. It's easiest to locate these in the body in my experience. Feel free to ask more questions if you should stumble upon more distressing experiences.
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  • Dan G
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7 years 10 months ago #94181 by Dan G
Replied by Dan G on topic Re: Guidance Please!
Hi Joel,

I would just like to add that I found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy complimentary to my practice when going through some really rough patches. Like insight teachers (most teachers for that matter), some therapists are incredibly awesome and some are really bad. I would have a few conversations and see who you feel comfortable with. Bc sometimes its not who is good or bad, competent or incompetent, but who you click with it, i.e. who can deliver the goods when you need a particular set of goods. I found therapy helpful in getting me grounded, back on my feet, and out of my spinning thoughts. Of course, diet and excercise helps. For me a ketogenic/paleo diet seems to help when I am going through a rough patch (lack of sugar? not sure). I found Julia Ross' Mood Cure (awful title) really good and helpful. Diet and amino acid summplement suggestions there. This stuff is all controversial just sharing what helped me get out of a major rut.

Psychology Today has a list of folks that you can search by zip and filter functions that include Buddhism. I used this and it helped me track someone down who was awesome (and I don't live in a particularly open and progressive community). Personally, I would only use specific terminology like A&P and stream entry with an insight teacher, some therapists my be able to handle more general language like ,"I had this big spiritual opening that I've had a hard time processing." Stuff you probably already know.

[url:vussi547]http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_search.php?t=zip[/url:vussi547]

My two cents. Wishing you the best.

Dan
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  • jwhooper
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7 years 9 months ago #94182 by jwhooper
Replied by jwhooper on topic Re: Guidance Please!
I would just like to add that I suffered from anxiety and depression for a very long time, but they dropped away somewhere along the paths. I never suffer like I used to anymore. If you feel like your practice could be making it worse, switch to metta for a while. In my experience, metta is a very soothing, safe practice.

Keep going. I quit practicing for years and that did not improve my anxiety or depression at all. Use metta, and try to stay with the anxiety or depression. Do not resist it. Try to be with it, accept it, and understand it. From experience I know this is difficult. Cultivate love and compassion for yourself, and then extend it to the anxiety and depression. Give it time.
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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 9 months ago #94183 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
Guys! I think I just woke up! <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->

Is it even possible to go from 1st path to 4th in the matter of about a week?!! Without any fruitions?

My mindfulness became a habit in daily life and presumably the thing just went exponential!...

I see quite clearly now that the self is just made up of verbal 'talk' and mental imagery occurring in the present moment, a present moment which I am not separate from!

Thanks for all your kind responses anyway, even if this isn't 'it'.

I think I owe Kenneth (and Daniel and Shinzen of course) a drink! <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->
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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 9 months ago #94184 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
BTW - have any of you guys re-read 'mindfulness in Plain English' again after waking up? Amazing! <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->
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  • Derek
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7 years 9 months ago #94185 by Derek
Replied by Derek on topic Re: Guidance Please!
Well, there's a discussion on the front page as to how we define these terms.

By my definition, you need three things for stream-entry:

(1) Clear seeing of no-self
(2) No doubts
(3) No more belief in rites and rituals
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  • Russell
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7 years 9 months ago #94186 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Guidance Please!

&quot;joelchigliak&quot;:2ici5bh8 wrote: Guys! I think I just woke up! <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->

Is it even possible to go from 1st path to 4th in the matter of about a week?!! Without any fruitions?

My mindfulness became a habit in daily life and presumably the thing just went exponential!...

I see quite clearly now that the self is just made up of verbal 'talk' and mental imagery occurring in the present moment, a present moment which I am not separate from!

Thanks for all your kind responses anyway, even if this isn't 'it'.

I think I owe Kenneth (and Daniel and Shinzen of course) a drink! <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->[/quote:2ici5bh8]

Sounds like a nice dose of A&amp;P to me, but without further descriptions it is hard to tell.

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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 9 months ago #94187 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
alright guys. Second Path. At best. *cringes* I do feel that I know where this thing is headed now though....
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  • Russell
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7 years 9 months ago #94188 by Russell
Replied by Russell on topic Re: Guidance Please!
See my post above. <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->
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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 9 months ago #94189 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
haha - I really hope this isn't just A&amp;P! Can the A&amp;P present as a week long, qualitative shift in baseline concentration and sensory clarity?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel I'm on the cusp of Shinzen's figure/ground reversal when meditation becomes a habit and starts meditating 'you'?

How many hours a day does it really take to do the damage? I'm noting (with very occasional slips into memory/planning/fantasy) about 4/5 hours a day at the moment.

Would I need to start going on retreats at this stage to establish hours of mindfulness at a time?
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  • Bill29ish
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7 years 9 months ago #94190 by Bill29ish
Replied by Bill29ish on topic Re: Guidance Please!
Joel: Yes, A&amp;P can present that way. The fact that you haven't noticed any fruitions points to this conclusion. But who knows.
Nobody can tell you how many hours a day it will take or if you need to go on retreat as everyone's experience is different. Putting too much pressure on yourself to practice, and having expectations about what your life will be like past points x, y and z, will really fuck up your practice, and things will never be what you conceptualize them to be from your present state. This can often works against you, and slow progress down, and cause you to miss out on your practice.
Please go easy on yourself. The practice is already doing you.
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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 9 months ago #94191 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
shit. lol.
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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 9 months ago #94192 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
At the risk of continuing the most embarrassing thread in Internet history...

A bit of time, and a self and universe shattering fruition later, I think this might be second path.

I realise it's gone a bit quiet around here but I'd be really grateful if you more experienced guys could help me out with a simple question:

From the 'enlightened' perspective, does whatever I'm looking at in that moment effectively become 'me'? That is, if I'm looking up I 'become' the sky and clouds etc?

I feel like I've been striving for this for half my life and now I've (partially) got it, I'm not sure what to do with it! I never thought it would be like this!?

Please tell me I haven't gone even more mad!?

Thanks!
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  • Ona
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7 years 9 months ago #94193 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Guidance Please!
In my view specific powerful experiences (whether exciting or scary) are a passing reaction to novelty, and neither an indication you are mad (unless perhaps you have a history of mental illness), nor really &quot;what you were looking for&quot;. That said they are normal and fine. Often when we have very expansive, connected experiences we feel that sense of &quot;this is what I was looking for.&quot; That's one of the characteristics of those kind of experiences. However the caution is (once one is done marveling at or freaking out about the experience for a bit) to remember to observe the *relationship* to the experience: ie grasping or aversion. In continuing to observe the relationship to whatever happens to be going on at a given moment, insight continues to develop more readily.

I generally don't (on gut) evaluate very expansive one-with-everything feeling sort of experiences with &quot;path&quot; type transitions (though to me they are indicative of an ongoing deepening of practice and the peak moments of the back and forth cycling that is typical of most spiritual practices), but I'm not steeped in pragmatic dharma evaluation either; those here with more pragmatic dharma focused experience can offer their perspectives.
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  • Ona
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7 years 8 months ago #94194 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Guidance Please!
(Now I reread the earlier part of the thread, a couple of people already said &quot;A&amp;P&quot; which would be parallel to what I was saying in my own way. <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D --> )

One can think about &quot;progress&quot; less as being &quot;stuck&quot; at &quot;level x&quot; and then BAM suddenly at &quot;level y&quot; but rather that during the course of any given &quot;level&quot; one is going deeper and deeper, bit by bit (which is tied into these cycles of A&amp;P and dark night patterns that are typical). The cycling is not a &quot;stalled out&quot; or &quot;stuck&quot; thing, but rather the exploration and deepening and letting go that needs to develop at the stage you are at.
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  • Bill29ish
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7 years 8 months ago #94195 by Bill29ish
Replied by Bill29ish on topic Re: Guidance Please!
From my own current understanding, you don't become anything. There is no you, no clouds, no sky, nothing to become. Also, of course there's you, the clouds and the sky.
You may have an idea that once you get past a certain point, you will have this thing that you've wanted or been working towards your whole life. You won't. And you won't be able to conceptualize realization. It will sink into you when your body is open and ready. And it still won't be what you want.
Please feel free to ask questions, and forget any sense of embarassment. I've been around here and dho enough to see many people make far grander claims, only to pull a &quot;whoops&quot; when humility allowed.
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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 8 months ago #94196 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
Haha- ok thanks! Back to the drawing board!

This does feel like a big, month-long, shift though, even of I'm not very good at putting it into words. The reduction in mental 'noise' and increase in sensory clarity alone would have made it worth it, never mind any 'spiritual' aspect. Really appreciate the feedback and these communities...
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  • Ona
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7 years 8 months ago #94197 by Ona
Replied by Ona on topic Re: Guidance Please!
If you were told that the changes happening in your daily experience had a special name how would that change your daily practice?
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  • joelchigliak
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7 years 8 months ago #94198 by joelchigliak
Replied by joelchigliak on topic Re: Guidance Please!
I see what you're getting at but I'm not sure to be honest.

Because I used(!?!) to suffer from depression I'm doubly scared of DN stuff, so, if someone told me it was likely this was second path, I'd feel a lot more confident about proceeding as if hair on fire with the hope that the benefits would outweigh the drawbacks going forward from this point. I'm aware of the irony, but I'm sure the ego would also like to feel that it had 'achieved' something given that I have so few successes any more in any other areas of my life!
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