Author Topic: Uncomfortable energy in the body  (Read 22248 times)

deanmw

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Uncomfortable energy in the body
« on: April 05, 2008, 10:27:44 PM »
Hi, my name is Dean and I'm new to this forum.

I've been meditating on and off for about 16 months now. Before I started meditating I was experiencing uncomfortable energetic sensations in my body, related to what can only be described as a nervous breakdown eight years ago. In fact it was researching the underlying causes for these sensations and looking for healing strategies on the web that led me to discover vipassana and a much clearer understanding of meditation (previously all I knew was that counting your breaths could stop monkey mind and allow you to become calmer). I had pretty much tried every treatment and therapy under the sun and completely given up on the medical community to provide any answers. Hence doing my own research.

These sensations are present more or less continuously (except when I'm fully concentrated on something else), and intensify when my mind quietens, especially if I lie down to relax. They start just after I wake in the morning, and they remain until I fall asleep at night. I have learned coping strategies that allow me to hold down my job as a software designer and lead a reasonably normal life, but the continual discomfort (or perhaps more accurately my reaction to it) has been very disruptive to my well being and enjoyment of life, and it just saps my energy.

I'm pretty sure now, having familiarized myself with Buddhist psychology & Yogic philosophy that these sensations are due to blockages in energy flow around the body. Granthis or knots I believe they are called, and I understand they are caused by unresolved emotional material. They certainly feel like blockages the way the pressure builds up and then shifts to different locations in my body.

I find that when I meditate, whether or not I directly focus awareness on these sensations, the overall energy in my system seems to rise and the sensations become progressively stronger. It gets to a point where the energy is not only accumulating and dancing in the usual places - typically the abdomen and left shoulder, but also seems to overflow into the solar plexus, chest and throat, and then from there I feel the forehead and crown becoming activated.

However there never seems to be any resolution - the energy builds up but does not seem to release. Consequently this energy remains at a high level after meditation for several days, eventually calming down somewhat, providing I don't meditate and give it any attention. From previous experience, the baseline level of activation then remains, with uncomfortable energy pooled / frozen in the abdomen or lower spine. I use the term frozen because the energy has a more stagnant quality to it when it doesn't get attention, and is much more fluid and mobile when it does.

I wondered whether anyone else had encountered anything similar - where energy is stuck in the body after meditation, and what if anything they have been able to do about it?

Also one key question - is it ever dangerous to work through these energetic blocks with kind attention - e.g. can it send you into psychotic states. I seem to be able to feel around the edges and back off the meditation when it is getting too much and I notice my equanimity lapsing and my attitude becoming more driven and manic rather than observational and compassionate. But I wonder if doubts about the dangers are preventing me from really getting inside the knots and really feeling what it there. And if perhaps persisting through the fireworks might be cathartic - baptism of fire?

Any thoughts anyone?

Many thanks,
Dean.

Stefan

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2008, 11:19:18 PM »
That's a lot to think about!

For now ...
Also one key question - is it ever dangerous to work through these energetic blocks with kind attention - e.g. can it send you into psychotic states. I seem to be able to feel around the edges and back off the meditation when it is getting too much and I notice my equanimity lapsing and my attitude becoming more driven and manic rather than observational and compassionate. But I wonder if doubts about the dangers are preventing me from really getting inside the knots and really feeling what it there. And if perhaps persisting through the fireworks might be cathartic - baptism of fire?

One of the key questions! Mostly you answered it by yourself already ...
I personally know someone who entered psychotic states when she tried to go too deep too fast. As a result of that, her life had been horrible for years. On the other hand, I know that sometimes a meditator enters states that feel like hell really, but the time is ripe to go through it, and he leaves the "chapel of fears" on the other side, having dissolved the "sankharas-of-hell". To me it seems that you are quite clear with your feelings/ sensing - they will tell you wether to go on or to stop (for now). Take your time: the way to nirvana isn't a racing track!

"If equanimity turns into ego-trip, then it's time to take rest ..."

Metta, Stefan
anicca

Matthew

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2008, 01:36:03 PM »
Dear Dean,

I would certainly propose you continue meditating. Sometimes try going deeper into these feelings and see what comes from them. You are unlikely to make yourself psychotic using vipassana techniques.

Do be aware that the emotion material that is blocking you is from the past and not a present manifestation. For you to get to the bottom of things you will need that awareness to help you develop equanimity towards both the sensations and the emotional material. Some of us hold inside dark secrets that take a long time to unfold. Such dark secrets, when revealed, can be very destabilising. But that is where vipassana meditation has great strength because it provides you with calm and equanimity. You may end up learning things that mean you need to reasses parts of your life and relationships but you will grow from the experience.

I think reading about and working on developing equanimity will be of benefit to you. The awareness that all phenomena are but passing experiences is also very beneficial. This way, if something comes to your awareness that shocks you or rocks your foundations you can take a deep breath and keep on meditating and hold on fast to those foundations.

Also make sure you have someone, a partner, friend, family member, with whom you have absolute confidence so that you can talk about any difficult emotional material that emerges.

The final thing that occurs to me is that if you have never seen one it may be worth visiting a McTimoney Chiropracter who will help actually realign your body physically which will benefit your meditation and help unblock the emotional level. I particulary recommend McTimoney because the method is rather gentle and if you have had rough emotional experiences that have left mental and physical marks you don't need to see the body crunching type of chiropracter.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2008, 03:37:21 PM »
I personally know someone who entered psychotic states when she tried to go too deep too fast. As a result of that, her life had been horrible for years. On the other hand, I know that sometimes a meditator enters states that feel like hell really, but the time is ripe to go through it, and he leaves the "chapel of fears" on the other side, having dissolved the "sankharas-of-hell".

Thanks Stefan for that perspective. I'm beginning to learn that there is no one right answer or one right technique for progressing on the path, and as you suggest perhaps sometimes 2 contradictory approaches can both be right at different times depending on where you are at.

I need to exercise caution perhaps more than most, because I have had a couple psychotic episodes in the past. These occurred a few years after the energetic disturbances started (but before I began meditating), and I believe were linked to a growing intolerance of my system to any psychoactive substances. I used to smoke cannabis semi-regularly, but my nervous system just cannot take it now, and I had to stop in 2003 after the first psychotic episode. The 2nd episode a year later was after fooling around with nitrous oxide, which I thought was supposed to calm the mind - it is used as an anesthetic after all - but it produced altered states of consciousness which again tipped me over the edge. Now I stay away from all recreational drugs, with the exception of alcohol, which can be useful in moderation to dampen the energy when it gets too much.

Stefan

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2008, 06:08:21 PM »
Psychoactive substances are quite difficult because it is hard to control what is coming up. I had a psychotic episode after an LSD-trip when a sankhara came to the surface I couldn't deal with then. If there's psychotic stress then psychedelic substances should be left aside.

Vipassana is far better because normally the sankharas that are coming to the surface are the "ripe" ones = the ones you will be able to deal with. Go slow, find your own pace, take rest when necessary, and then go on with your practice. And then, as Matthew pointed out, Vipassana provides you with the tools to deal with that stuff (LSD doesn't ...).

Metta, Stefan

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deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2008, 06:10:15 PM »
it may be worth visiting a McTimoney Chiropracter who will help actually realign your body physically which will benefit your meditation and help unblock the emotional level.

That sounds like a fantastic idea. I will look into that. One thing I haven't mentioned is that a few months prior to my "breakdown" I had a whiplash injury, caused by (of all things) one of the kiddie rides at the Thorpe Park theme park in the UK  :-[. In fact it caught me unawares, because after the gentle part of the ride where you watch the cute animatronic animals go by, you are suddenly thrust into a sheer drop roller-coaster type situation. Anyway I digress... the point is that I have frequently wondered whether or not that neck injury had somehow trapped the natural movement of energy through my spine and in some ways actually precipitated my breakdown. Although I did have chiropractic treatment soon afterwards, it was pretty rough - I remember thinking at the time that the adjustments were pretty radical, and boy am I putting a lot of trust in this man as he cracks my bones, first one way and then the other...

So yes, something gentler would be ideal. It's a therapy option I hadn't really considered.


I would certainly propose you continue meditating. Sometimes try going deeper into these feelings and see what comes from them. You are unlikely to make yourself psychotic using vipassana techniques.

I did take a break from conventional sitting meditation a few months ago because I was concerned that I was becoming too driven in my practice, and that observing the energy was just ramping it up, giving concerns that it could affect my day job or even lead to another departure from grounded reality. But I have now returned to it (meditation that is), hopefully with a bit more compassion this time having recently re-read the key chapters in Jack Kornfield's "A path with heart" - which I currently regard as one of the bests book on meditation out there at the moment. I don't know what other people think?

Right now I seem to alternate between different approaches depending on how I feel. Sometimes with the meditation I focus into the centre of the blocks which usually results in a busy and energetic session, so I then may take a wider focus on the body, but usually get drawn back in. Other times I try to keep focused on the breathing to improve concentration but it is difficult to not get drawn away again. When things gets too energetic and I start to feel a bit too detached and robotic, I start paying more attention to any emotional reactions I might have. Often this then leads to body movement or a change in body posture as I allow emotional expression - although that frequently then results in coughing, choking and gagging. From there frequently it feels right to just allow free flow movement of my body if it wants to - it's surprising how sometimes the energy just wants to move the body all by itself and shake my spine out. So sometimes it seems more natural to switch to moving meditation and yoga asanas (basic sun salutation and bends) at that point.

So I'm not sure whether this alternating is disruptive (most teachers advocate finding one technique and sticking to it don't they?), but it feels right to me to be adaptive and have the flexibility to draw on inner (and outer) resources and modify the technique and approach to suit current circumstances. I can see that it is easy to fall into the trap of modifying your technique to avoid difficult feelings or perhaps because you are bored or have doubts about a current technique. But for me switching techniques / focus is a way to titrate the experience.

Flipasso

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2008, 07:38:58 PM »
I don't really believe in those energy things.
I think what you feel comes from your brain.
But if you do believe there's somekind of energy unbalance going on, I think you should try seeing an energy expert. For instance, a Reiki practitioner, a Acumpuncturist, or a Yoga teacher.
Meditation can induce psychotic states. I've had my share of them and don't plan on having any more, so that's why after reading "The Essentials of Insight Meditation Practice" by Ven. Sujiva, an excellent book on Vipassana, I decided to, at least, try to find a decent Vipassana teacher. In the book he disrecomends Vipassana without a teacher to all those who think may fall into "Breakdowns".
That's my advice.

deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2008, 09:13:53 PM »
Psychoactive substances are quite difficult because it is hard to control what is coming up. I had a psychotic episode after an LSD-trip when a sankhara came to the surface I couldn't deal with then. If there's psychotic stress then psychedelic substances should be left aside.

Totally agree. The only possible exception I would suggest is the therapeutic use of psychedelics in the correct (i.e. safe & nurturing) setting. As you may know Stanislav Grof found that LSD could be used therapeutically to treat people that are stuck in their process. Although pretty full-on, the death/rebirth experiences that these individuals reported during therapy frequently led to a dramatic and lasting improvement in their well-being and appreciation of life. Although LSD has now been outlawed for research in the US, he created holotropic breathwork as an alternative. I attended (and participated in) a one-off weekend workshop in Brighton that he led a few years back and found it really interesting - although ultimately that one session didn't resolve anything for me - nor realistically could it have really - it would likely need many sessions to give it a fair trial.

Vipassana is far better because normally the sankharas that are coming to the surface are the "ripe" ones = the ones you will be able to deal with. Go slow, find your own pace, take rest when necessary, and then go on with your practice. And then, as Matthew pointed out, Vipassana provides you with the tools to deal with that stuff (LSD doesn't ...).

I like the idea that it is the ripe ones that you are given to deal with. Somehow that perspective makes it easier to trust in the process - knowing that you are never given anything that you cannot handle.

Stefan

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2008, 10:50:55 PM »
As you may know Stanislav Grof found that LSD could be used therapeutically to treat people that are stuck in their process.

Yes, and Timothy Leary actually cured alcoholics with LSD. That led me to the point were I cured myself from tobacco addiction with one LSD trip (I described this somewere else, I can't remember where). I like this substance, but it also led me to my borders ...

I don't really believe in those energy things.
I think what you feel comes from your brain.

 ;) That's the neurophysiologist talking!
There's energy everywhere. On any subatomic level there's no such thing as matter ... only energies, quants of energies, appearing, disappearing and reappearing again ect anicca anicca anicca ... the brain consists of those energies! And then you don't believe in "those energy things"?
Anyway, I second your advice about a Vipassana teacher. It is good to do a Vipassana retreat. (I wouldn't recommend Reiki for anyone doing Vipassana. I would definitely recommend Hatha Yoga. Mostly I'd recommend doing a Vipassana retreat.)

Metta, Stefan
anicca

deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2008, 02:03:43 AM »
I don't really believe in those energy things.
I think what you feel comes from your brain.

I understand where you are coming from completely, and I think I agree that perception is to a large degree (if not entirely) a function of brain activity. At least while we exist in this body (whatever that really means). Although that could change if my meditation practice were to reveal something that makes it difficult to maintain that world view.

And I also understand that sensory perception has been correlated with a relatively small region of the brain (close to the motor area I believe) where the entire body has been mapped out into a homunculus model. So I could re-frame my experiences in terms of abnormal activation of circuits within the motor/sensory brain cortex. But I'm not sure that helps me much.

I am not convinced that science has yet reached anywhere near the understanding needed to come up with credible explanations for consciousness and am absolutely certain that it has yet to come up with truly effective treatments for when things go wrong. In my experience drug treatments only suppress or control symptoms, rather than treat the root cause.

So I use the term energy because I need to provide a frame of reference for my experience. I clearly am not using it in the strict scientific sense. I could use the term prana or chi, but I only have my own experience to go on and prefer to use a more generic term for now, at the risk of sounding airy fairy new age. What I actually feel are sensations that move about within my body. There is associated muscle tension. There is build up of pressure. Sometimes there is a web of tingling sensations sometimes quite painful, and feelings of electricity. Acupuncture at certain locations can bring on the same webs of pain. The sensations move along channels, usually very quickly, and then pool in another location. For example I may feel it at a precise location in my abdomen perhaps along a series of points in line, it mutates, becomes fluid and flows quickly to a precise location in my shoulder or perhaps to my throat. I have noticed definite correlates with the chakras described in yogic philosophy - particularly the solar plexus, throat, forehead and crown. But it also occupies other locations along the spine and to the left and right of it. Rarely do I feel these sensations in my arms and legs, but I get occasional prickles.

This is not the work of an overactive imagination I should add. I wish it were, then I could presumably just dis-spell it.

But if you do believe there's somekind of energy unbalance going on, I think you should try seeing an energy expert. For instance, a Reiki practitioner, a Acumpuncturist, or a Yoga teacher.

Why would you recommend an energy expert if you don't believe in these things? Sorry couldn't resist.

I have been to 2 different acupuncturists in the last 7 years for a course of treatments (I think around 6 or so in both cases). And whilst I have felt some painful sensations during treatment, I didn't feel any long term benefits. Also I couldn't stand the tea they made me boil up. It is truly revolting!

I have thought about seeing a body worker or energy healer, but I have read about people that have been screwed up by practitioners that don't really know what they are doing. My nervous system seems to be very sensitive, so I would be cautious about someone performing genuine "energetic" manipulations unless they had treated other people in a similar state to me. But it is definitely on the list of treatments to try.

With regard to Reiki specifically, I am a bit skeptical and don't 100% believe in it. I could be persuaded - I just have never experienced it. Those that have tried in the past to apply Reiki have had no noticeable effect on me. I actually received a Reiki One attunement while I was doing a detox in Thailand, but it did nothing for me. Hence the skepticism.

Finding a good yoga or vipassana teacher might be the way to go, but how easy is it to find one? And are Yoga teachers in the western world generally knowledgeable about energetic disturbances, or do they just play lip service and teach the asanas as keep fit classes? This is my skeptical mind coming out now.

Did you manage to find a decent vipassana teacher?

Many thanks for the suggestions.

Matthew

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2008, 08:45:02 AM »
I like the idea that it is the ripe ones that you are given to deal with. Somehow that perspective makes it easier to trust in the process - knowing that you are never given anything that you cannot handle.

Stefan is right here. It is the ripe stuff that comes up. More will come when you are ready. Don't chase it and don't evade it. This is where the equanimity comes in .... let it all flow over you like a warm river and let it be.

Trust yourself and the process you are engaged in. Also, be honest with yourself as much as you can in every sphere of your life. Watch out for when you tell yourself little lies. Being honest with yourself is where trusting yourself grows from and trusting yourself is what leads to release and release leads to realisation.

We are not taught to know and trust ourselves in modern western societies. Actually the opposite is true: our relationship to ourselves, others and the world around us is deeply ingrained with ideas that stem from the concept of "original sin", the idea we are fundamentally bad. This is idea is false. We are fundamentally neutral and have the choice every moment of doing the right or the wrong thing. However, the limits to which we can see this truth are established in early childhood and our upbringing limits this greatly.

I don't really believe in those energy things.
I think what you feel comes from your brain.

Haven't you seen the matrix? The brain generates enormous amounts of elictrical energy that drive the nervous system and all the muscular activity of our bodies. I am not saying that ideas of spiritual energy / chakras and such are fundamentally right, but recognise that the bodymind is an energetic system and energy blocks on a biophysical/biomechanical level do indeed exist.

I am not convinced that science has yet reached anywhere near the understanding needed to come up with credible explanations for consciousness and am absolutely certain that it has yet to come up with truly effective treatments for when things go wrong. In my experience drug treatments only suppress or control symptoms, rather than treat the root cause.

Agree with you 100% and this is a very good reason not to become psychotic because that can lead to you being a gunnie pig. It's bad enough being a mushroom .... but a guinnea pig is worse.

So I use the term energy because I need to provide a frame of reference for my experience. I clearly am not using it in the strict scientific sense. I could use the term prana or chi, but I only have my own experience to go on and prefer to use a more generic term for now, at the risk of sounding airy fairy new age. What I actually feel are sensations that move about within my body. There is associated muscle tension. There is build up of pressure. Sometimes there is a web of tingling sensations sometimes quite painful, and feelings of electricity. Acupuncture at certain locations can bring on the same webs of pain. The sensations move along channels, usually very quickly, and then pool in another location. For example I may feel it at a precise location in my abdomen perhaps along a series of points in line, it mutates, becomes fluid and flows quickly to a precise location in my shoulder or perhaps to my throat. I have noticed definite correlates with the chakras described in yogic philosophy - particularly the solar plexus, throat, forehead and crown. But it also occupies other locations along the spine and to the left and right of it. Rarely do I feel these sensations in my arms and legs, but I get occasional prickles.

This is not the work of an overactive imagination I should add. I wish it were, then I could presumably just dis-spell it.

This is not the work of an overactive imagination. Probably the opposite is true, your Imagination and other left brain functions are probably somewhat stifled and suffocated by the energy blocks you have recognised. When I first started meditating I had, on occassion, what I can only explain as a "kundalini" rush - an explosion of energy tingling through my spine and body, like an electric shock. The experience was reproducable and pleasant. Once I had established that I haven't played around with it since. As I mentioned above the nervous system produces huge potentials of electric energy and these can get released by meditation. I don't imagine you are imagining any of this Dean.

With regard to Reiki specifically, I am a bit skeptical and don't 100% believe in it. I could be persuaded - I just have never experienced it. Those that have tried in the past to apply Reiki have had no noticeable effect on me. I actually received a Reiki One attunement while I was doing a detox in Thailand, but it did nothing for me. Hence the skepticism.

Finding a good yoga or vipassana teacher might be the way to go, but how easy is it to find one? And are Yoga teachers in the western world generally knowledgeable about energetic disturbances, or do they just play lip service and teach the asanas as keep fit classes? This is my skeptical mind coming out now.

Did you manage to find a decent vipassana teacher?

Personally I find Reiki to be the next best meal to baloney. Sorry to any practitioners/believers out there but I have had many experiences of Reiki and they were all the same. Nada, nothing, rien.

Dean, keep your skeptical mind, you will need it on your journey to your truth. And the best vipassana teacher I have found is doing it. Over and over again. However I was given very deep instruction by Venerable Khandro Rinpoche. If she comes to London this year I would recommend going out of your way to attend her teachings. Also try McTimoney chiropractic for the body/energy blocks, there will certainly be a practitioner close to you, it is very scientific but gentle and works.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

mettajoey

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2008, 02:30:59 PM »
Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful posts deanmw!

There is a ton of good information here but I would just like to underscore Matthew's comment about having a teacher or friend to be able bounce off experiences and ideas.  There is great value in putting an idea or feeling out and seeing if it actually has the legs to stand on it's own, or if is just an illusion of sorts.  An objective observer is a fantastic tool and can save much time.  You may also find that a therapist who is familiar with Buddhist thought and/or CBT can also help to uncover the trapped feelings and make experiencing them beneficial or safer.  As was mentioned, this all comes up at it's own time but the idea of a Sangha, part of the Triple Gem (in whatever form it may take), is a key element and foundation of this practice.

Best wishes on your path,
-Joe
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2008, 10:54:12 PM »
Stefan is right here. It is the ripe stuff that comes up. More will come when you are ready. Don't chase it and don't evade it. This is where the equanimity comes in .... let it all flow over you like a warm river and let it be.

It makes such a difference to have reassurance that this material is coming up for a reason, and that perhaps with equanimity and a little trust it will release. It's hard to see an end after nearly 8 years, but perhaps becoming reconciled to it, as I am slowly, is an important part of the process. I have plenty of first hand experience that wanting it to stop doesn't make it stop and likely perpetuates the problem. But it is difficult not to want uncomfortable experiences to end. I guess there is a big difference between a preference for something to stop versus a frantic desire to escape from it. It's a bit like quicksand - the more you struggle the further you sink. At least that's how it is in the movies! I remember my brother saying to me after the 1st few weeks of continual buzzing in my head and body (and very little sleep) that you've just got to accept it. At that point my reaction was I'm not going to take this lying down - I'll never accept it. But I think acceptance is an important part of the puzzle.

Trust yourself and the process you are engaged in. Also, be honest with yourself as much as you can in every sphere of your life. Watch out for when you tell yourself little lies. Being honest with yourself is where trusting yourself grows from and trusting yourself is what leads to release and release leads to realisation.

Sounds like very good advice. I guess this is where the mindfulness comes in, being able to spot when you are kidding yourself. And yeah "trust" has become one of the key words / attitudes I try to keep in mind when my meditation becomes difficult now. Others I have are "let go", "let it be", "stay present / interested" and "kind attention". I find those useful reminders.

And yes, it's much easier to trust when other people have trodden some of the path in front of you. So thanks to everyone for all the advice so far. I'm lapping it up!  :)

Dean, keep your skeptical mind, you will need it on your journey to your truth.

I now realize that keeping my critical faculty is an essential tool for avoiding psychosis. I found my departures from reality were assisted when I started to buy into the New Age "you create your own reality" paradigm. It's very easy to lose the plot when you think you can manipulate reality directly with your mind, or that somehow you are making things happen in some spooky way and are responsible for that. Apart from the ego trip, it doesn't take long for the paranoia to set in. The truth that I found about this is that I was creating my own interpretation of reality, but it was quickly deviating from consensus reality. And my mind was more than happy to distort my perceptions to match my new world view.

There's a guy called Julian Walker who has written a lot of very grounded stuff in his blog about Yoga, chakras, meditation and kundalini. He is somewhat critical of certain New Age thinking, and of people that have turned their back on rationality because it has led to our current and largely ignorant industrialized civilization and all it's problems, and instead embraced a kind of pre-rational almost fairy tale view of reality. Instead he suggests (inspired in no small part I think by Ken Wilber) we should be taking a post-rational view of spirituality which transcends but includes the rational world. Really interesting and sobering stuff. I can provide a link if that's appropriate / of interest to anyone.

And the best vipassana teacher I have found is doing it. Over and over again. However I was given very deep instruction by Venerable Khandro Rinpoche. If she comes to London this year I would recommend going out of your way to attend her teachings. Also try McTimoney chiropractic for the body/energy blocks, there will certainly be a practitioner close to you, it is very scientific but gentle and works.

Will do, and I'll let you know how I get on.

Many thanks.
Dean.

Flipasso

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2008, 07:47:46 PM »
BTW - Where do you think these energies come from?
I've heard of people in Goenka style feeling they release some kind of sankhara sensation. My question is, do they(you) know what they are? In psychological terms that is.

BTW2 - I was looking myself in the mirror when you talked about your psychotic problems. It's the interpretation that we make that does the trick. Also I sense (and read) that shizo's usually have high self esteem on the outside, but inside they are like shit.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2008, 07:51:56 PM by Flipasso »

deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2008, 08:14:16 PM »
Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful posts deanmw!

Thanks, nice of you to say so.

There is a ton of good information here but I would just like to underscore Matthew's comment about having a teacher or friend to be able bounce off experiences and ideas.  There is great value in putting an idea or feeling out and seeing if it actually has the legs to stand on it's own, or if is just an illusion of sorts.  An objective observer is a fantastic tool and can save much time.

There aren't really any people I know that meditate, except those of you on this forum! Although my partner lived in a Buddhist commune for several years and taught yoga for a while, she says she never really got anything out it and has completely turned her back on the whole spiritual path thing after some bad experiences herself. She now sees her previous quest for enlightenment as avoidance of reality, but thankfully is completely fine with me disappearing to do my navel gazing every day.  :)

Perhaps I should look into finding a teacher or group. I seriously considered booking a Goenka 10-day retreat when I was first finding out about vipassana, but was concerned that 10 days of solid meditation would frazzle me completely. I did email them with my history and concerns, but they were rather dismissive "Your experience of sensations sounds very normal" and wanted me to go through the official application process before evaluating my suitability. That kind of put me off a bit. I don't think ringing in the ears and my body's preference to vomit rather than express a genuine emotion is normal. Maybe I'll give them a go when I'm not so blocked.

You may also find that a therapist who is familiar with Buddhist thought and/or CBT can also help to uncover the trapped feelings and make experiencing them beneficial or safer.  As was mentioned, this all comes up at it's own time but the idea of a Sangha, part of the Triple Gem (in whatever form it may take), is a key element and foundation of this practice.

I can't remember if it was on this forum or not (it might have been you!!), but I came across something called "Dialectical behavioral therapy" which apparently integrates Buddhist mindfulness, so maybe that's one you had in mind. Conventional CBT hasn't really helped, and I've spent an absolute fortune on therapists so I'm a bit cautious about throwing good money after bad. Maybe when my cashflow is a bit better...

Thanks for the suggestions, it's really helpful stuff.

deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2008, 10:19:35 PM »
BTW - Where do you think these energies come from?
I've heard of people in Goenka style feeling they release some kind of sankhara sensation. My question is, do they(you) know what they are? In psychological terms that is.

Well I would hazard a guess that the energy is being driven from processes in my unconscious mind. I suspect in my case it is more likely to be personal issues & inhibitions related to the opposite sex as I was growing up (and the knock-on effects in later life) than anything transpersonal. My breakdown came straight after an "on/off emotional roller-coaster of a relationship", which presumably was the last straw for my psyche. I can only assume that is what this is all about for me.

I've heard it said that you don't need to know consciously what an issue was about to release it through meditation (can't remember where I came across this though). On the other hand I've also heard it said that meditation is not a substitute for psychotherapy, that they are complementary. For example, according to Diane Hamilton (a Zen Buddhist affiliated with the Integral Institute), meditation doesn't always confront the shadow material, but instead makes an object of it. She suggests that people & situations that provoke an emotional response often do so because of disowned aspects of your psyche - shadow material. So the first step is to consciously recognize when this is happening, and then to dialog internally with the person or issue. That requires you to know psychologically what is going on as part of the process.

So I would ask a question back - do you need to know in psychological terms specifically what the energy is about before it will release?

Flipasso

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2008, 12:00:25 AM »
Well I guess not...
I only would have to be aware that it exists.
OK, that's clearer... =)

mettajoey

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2008, 02:21:41 PM »
So I would ask a question back - do you need to know in psychological terms specifically what the energy is about before it will release?

If I'm following this correctly and also speaking solely from my own perspective, I don't believe I have the level of trust to just release negative energy just because it is there, I need to follow the emotion/feeling/sensation as far back to the source or experience as possible.  At that point, once I have the better understanding of where it arises and/or what the experience was, I can try to objectively review that experience.  Then often it becomes possible to release the negative energy.  Much of our conditioning and responses come from experiences in this life which are reachable and possibly fixable.
To me this also puts the rubber-to-the-road and benefits us more practically in our day-to-day life and mindfulness.
Kindly,
-Joe

The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2008, 10:04:22 PM »
If I'm following this correctly and also speaking solely from my own perspective, I don't believe I have the level of trust to just release negative energy just because it is there, I need to follow the emotion/feeling/sensation as far back to the source or experience as possible. 

Do you find you have to analyze with the thinking mind what is going on? Or does that just get in the way? I'm guessing that just following the emotion/sensation will eventually take me to an understanding of what it was about automatically.

Flipasso

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2008, 11:00:02 PM »
I intelectually think that one can release something without having concrete knowledge of what it is.
But my experience from meditation hasn't got to the point I felt I've released stuff (I don't practice for a long time) so my opinion on that is just Intelectual/Intuitional, not experiencial.
What I studied from psychology is that people release past trauma (how they call sankharas) by bringing them to the surface of consciousness. - For me bringing past trauma to conscious surface hasn't become a good, thing, but I still believe in it.
For me meditation is about mindfulness and equanimity. Living a more mindfull life, with more equanimity, expressing emotions better and communicating wisely.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 11:01:38 PM by Flipasso »

mettajoey

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2008, 01:01:33 AM »
If I'm following this correctly and also speaking solely from my own perspective, I don't believe I have the level of trust to just release negative energy just because it is there, I need to follow the emotion/feeling/sensation as far back to the source or experience as possible. 

Do you find you have to analyze with the thinking mind what is going on? Or does that just get in the way? I'm guessing that just following the emotion/sensation will eventually take me to an understanding of what it was about automatically.


Yes, that is how it works for me.

I have found that the meditation practice and my understanding of the Dhamma concepts has allowed me to calm my thinking mind enough to be able to better sense the underlying roots of many emotions and what content or experiences make them up.  As an emotion arises, breathing into and stopping the judgments and intellectualizing brings up the true emotional content.  Then, I can they say, ah ha! - then let the thought or realization go and breathe into it again for as far back as I am able to take that emotion or feeling.  Some of our knee-jerk reactions are built upon experiences that have compounded or built up over time and have deeper dimensions than is immediately obvious.  They can be clues or leads.  Ofttimes it's been a mountain built from a molehill or an emotion gained before you had the tools or knowledge or awareness to deal with it.  The thing is though, you have to purely experience that feeling as it was at the time without judgment or controlling it.  You may know better now, but you can't start here, it must be there or then and feel it as it was and who you were.

This is just a technique I have used with great success.  In fact, I started it before I learned Vipassana.  Vipassana has greatly increased my sensitivity and is especially helpful for mindfulness during the normal day.  It's like a first alert letting me know my thoughts are affecting my emotions because I can feel it in my body.  Vipassana also has a strong effect on one's sense of morality, if you start to do something you don't actually want out of lack of skillfulness, it sends up red flags of dislike and allows you to change course.  And of course, there is so much more to the practice.

-Joe

The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2008, 02:19:11 AM »
As an emotion arises, breathing into and stopping the judgments and intellectualizing brings up the true emotional content.  Then, I can they say, ah ha! - then let the thought or realization go and breathe into it again for as far back as I am able to take that emotion or feeling.  Some of our knee-jerk reactions are built upon experiences that have compounded or built up over time and have deeper dimensions than is immediately obvious.  They can be clues or leads. 

Yes that feels right - the thought comes automatically in an "ah ha!" moment, which you let go of, presumably because if you start intellectualizing too much it will take you out of the groove. I guess there's plenty of time to think about it later.

Ofttimes it's been a mountain built from a molehill or an emotion gained before you had the tools or knowledge or awareness to deal with it.  The thing is though, you have to purely experience that feeling as it was at the time without judgment or controlling it.  You may know better now, but you can't start here, it must be there or then and feel it as it was and who you were.

That's really interesting. So the underlying issue could turn out to be something pretty minor as far as your adult mind is concerned, but to process it you need to experience it fully and unpack it as the person you were, which presumably is a bit scary. And I guess the regression to an earlier state of mind occurs naturally as you delve deeper into the experience?

And all the while you are applying equanimity over the top of it to allow the experience to play out to the end. And this might take many sittings going back to the same place until it loses it's power over you. Does that sound about right?

Matthew

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2008, 09:48:51 AM »
Do you find you have to analyze with the thinking mind what is going on? Or does that just get in the way? I'm guessing that just following the emotion/sensation will eventually take me to an understanding of what it was about automatically.

Both are forms of meditation. The thinking mind usually runs in circles but the tamed thinking mind goes where you point it. The base is shamatha or calming meditation, focussing on the breath by preference to stabilise the mind. Then one uses vipassana to apply that focussed mind to increase ones awareness of all aspects of "self". Through this you gain knowledge which you use your intelligence and intuition to process and understand.

In my experience there is no release without knowledge of the factors behind the energy blocks being released. The release delivers the knowledge of the psychological factors and this is where and how one "lets go" of the past that traps us.

And all the while you are applying equanimity over the top of it to allow the experience to play out to the end. And this might take many sittings going back to the same place until it loses it's power over you. Does that sound about right?

Yes, that's right. therefore develop quanimity, and even develop equanimity even towards your lack of equanimity!

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: April 10, 2008, 09:50:59 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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deanmw

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2008, 03:40:49 PM »
Both are forms of meditation. The thinking mind usually runs in circles but the tamed thinking mind goes where you point it. The base is shamatha or calming meditation, focussing on the breath by preference to stabilise the mind. Then one uses vipassana to apply that focussed mind to increase ones awareness of all aspects of "self". Through this you gain knowledge which you use your intelligence and intuition to process and understand.

In my experience there is no release without knowledge of the factors behind the energy blocks being released. The release delivers the knowledge of the psychological factors and this is where and how one "lets go" of the past that traps us.

Thanks that's really clarified things.

BTW I've located a McTimoney practitioner that is quite local to me, so I'm looking to set up an appointment quite soon. Should be interesting to see what they make of things.

On a different point, do you or does anyone else have experience of ringing in the ears (constant high pitched sound) and hot prickles / pain - particularly the sides of the face, but other places too? I seem to get this towards the end of my sessions, although sometimes earlier on, particularly if I have been meditating on successive days for several hours.

Kind regards.
Dean.

Stefan

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Re: Uncomfortable energy in the body
« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2008, 04:30:05 PM »
... the thought comes automatically in an "ah ha!" moment, which you let go of, presumably because if you start intellectualizing too much it will take you out of the groove. I guess there's plenty of time to think about it later ...

You can't let go of it when intellectualizing, because when you keep on thinking about it, then you keep it (in your mind) ... that's the opposite of letting go. When I let go of an emotion/thought/ body feeling/ sankhara, then normally I don't bother thinking about it any more. Indeed it would be hard to think about it since it is gone ...

On a different point, do you or does anyone else have experience of ringing in the ears (constant high pitched sound) and hot prickles / pain - particularly the sides of the face, but other places too? I seem to get this towards the end of my sessions, although sometimes earlier on, particularly if I have been meditating on successive days for several hours.

This seems to be a deep rooted sankhara that only comes up when you meditated intensively.

On the other hand, symptoms like these can occur from the radiation emitted by pylons (high voltage or also handy-pylons). Maybe you live near a pylon and start to sense it due to high concentration achieved through your meditation session? A friend of mine had a beautiful flat, he lived above the roof tops and had a beautiful sight ... and also constant ear ringing, pains and headaches. He got the advice to move somewhere beneath the roof-level because of handy radiation (which is stronger above the roof level). He moved down to the first floor ... all symptoms were gone within a few days.

(Or maybe it's those aliens again, hehehe ...)

Metta, Stefan

« Last Edit: April 10, 2008, 04:30:56 PM by stefan »
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