Surrealness?

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Surrealness?

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:44 am

Hi, everyone.

For about the last two months, I've had a weird feeling about everything. It's difficult to describe, and I'm seeking input from the wonderful knowledgeable people here :) It seems like a long list, but the qualities don't feel neatly separated from each other. I'm breaking it down because it seems to have various effects.

I would characterize the feeling this way:
* if you read only this item, then the main thing is everything seems utterly surreal, lacking credibility. I almost got into a serious car wreck and after I avoided it, there wasn't even a feeling of surprise. It didn't seem out of the ordinary. I felt like I should have some reaction, so I lamely hoped the other driver would be more careful in the future. It was far too late to honk the horn.

* the five senses all feel the same, like different colors of smoke. Hearing and sight seem like the same thing close up, then different when less attention is paid. Thought is in here as well. In meditation when a thought is about to arise, any sense word, taste/feel/smell/hear/see, would be applicable for the sensation of knowing it's about to arise. The sameness can become so marked I worry about forgetting the difference, but it never seems to happen.

* even these direct sensations seem dubious. It's not that I don't believe the keyboard I'm typing on is real. It's more like it feels fragile somehow, like it could stop being a keyboard at any moment, or even that it WILL but just hasn't yet. So just what the hell is this thing that I'm seeing and feeling under my fingers? An example of the lack of credibility feeling.

* a flowing quality. Nothing stops but things merge smoothly one into the next. I can't neatly isolate one perception from the one before it or after.

* the feeling that if I'm not careful, everything will fall apart into its constituent parts. I don't know what I could do to cause such a thing to happen, but it's like playing Jenga... which of these pieces will cause the whole thing to come crashing down?

* everything is sad. Not in a depressed, "poor me" way, but like it's a subtle part of every thought and perception :thinking: This quality can also make me laugh, because it's just so absurd sometimes.

* despite all this, things seem stuck in their momentum. I watch my habits arise, carry through, then end. The thought occurs to stop the destructive ones, and sometimes I can, but the very powerful ones it seems like I'm watching everything with polite interest behind a plate of glass, uninvolved as it happens.

* infrequently, but especially during walking meditation, everything will feel like it's bright, scintillating. Of course it doesn't LOOK bright. It's just dazzling, and "holy shit" worthy. It's stopped me in my tracks before, then it goes away after a few seconds.

* nothing is mine. I see my partner, my cats, my apartment, my thoughts, my memories... they seem incidental. The people and animals are wonderful and worthy of love and protection of course, but when I get down to it, I just can't find the direct connection. It's worried me sometimes because it seems like it could be interpreted as a lack of devotion to the people I love.


So in sum, I've had the feeling that everything is: totally unreliable and dubious, all variations of the same underlying thing, flowing, sad, driving with momentum, and ready to fall apart at any moment. Sometimes, a feeling of powerful luminosity is present.

I haven't been specifically examining one specific sutra or idea lately. The only daily, consistent thing has been zhinay meditation. I discussed my meditation experiences with a teacher, and he said it sounded like objectless meditation. He suggested I not linger too long in that state at any one time, but return to the breath periodically.

I post this thread for a selfish reason. I'm worried. In fact, were this a year ago, I would've instantly dived back into exploring Christianity for some security in the idea of a benevolent, protecting God. But Christianity seems ill suited for these specific experiences. So I'm turning to the Three Jewels, which includes all of you wonderful people :) I know not to cling to specific feelings or experiences. But I wrote all this out in specifics because of this worry. It's not even specific experiences, but a quality that everything has nearly all the time, and that it didn't use to have.

Is there any direction to be gleaned from this, either in studying a certain area further, or in avoiding a growing misconception that's resulting in these views? Do I just ignore it? :rolleye: Or more selfishly: what the hell is going on? I tried to explain some of it to my partner, and it just worried him. D'oh.

Thank you all so, so much. :buddha2: :heart:
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Surrealness?

Postby catmoon » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:07 am

You may be unwell.

See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depersonalization_disorder

particularly the symptoms section.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 3002
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

Re: Surrealness?

Postby steveb1 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:24 am

Above all, good luck and a quick resolution to your current condition. Please consult a licensed counselor or a physician. It may be something as simple as a chemical imbalance that potentially could be corrected by meds, vitamins, etc. Try not to worry excessively about it until you can acquire some external, professional data. Again, best of luck.
steveb1
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Surrealness?

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:19 am

Thank you very much for your compassionate responses. I hadn't considered that it may be a medical condition. I'll be looking into that angle now as well. Thank you. The only family history of mental illness is depression on my mother's side. I described the quality as "sad" but it's more bittersweet. There's nothing hopeless or destitute about it, or else I wouldn't be doing my best with the path I'm on, such as it is :)


I'd like to look into depersonalization disorder a little since it seems like a dangerous possibility. These are the primary criteria Wikipedia lists:

"unreality in one's sense of self" - yes, but this is the only one that I would say is totally descriptive. It's interesting that Wikipedia says this symptom leads to deep philosophical questions :P

"feeling disconnected from one's physicality" - yes and no. It's not mine but it's all I've got. It seems like a fine distinction?

"feeling as though one is not completely occupying the body" - no.

"not feeling in control of one's speech or physical movements" - only during one specific addictive behavior, but feelings of helplessness are common among addictions. Perhaps in the way that's meant here, it may likely be "no" as well and merely an addiction.

"feeling detached from one's own thoughts or emotions" - yes. They arise anyway and I respond, but I try to temper that response, especially when it could result in harm.

"a sense of automation, going through the motions of life but not experiencing it or participating in it" - no. I've redoubled my practice and have seen positive changes in some areas. I want to benefit others, which very much is participating :)

"loss of conviction with one's identity" - I've never dwelled on the issue of identity, even before I found Buddhism. Is that the same thing?

"feeling a disconnection from one's body" - yes, but not apathy. It goes back to the feeling "this isn't mine but it's what there is to work with". I never feel like there is a "me" that is here and my body is somewhere else. That sounds alarming.

"inability to accept one's reflection as one's own" - not sure what this means. I don't think someone else is thinking my thoughts. I don't know where the thoughts come from, but I do my best to handle unwholesome ones and generate beneficial ones.

"difficulty relating oneself to reality and the environment" - not at all. Practice has helped me warm up to other people and be really curious about everything, and steady when things get tough.

"feeling as though one is in a dream" - yes.

"out-of-body experiences" - no.


Also one thing that makes me doubt it's a mental dysfunction is I don't have problems interacting with or coping with the world. Coming from a place of depression before the dharma, I'd say the change has been towards more normalcy and engagement with the world. The timeline is more like this:
2010-2011 deepening depression
August 2011 - September 2012, half-assed practice but enough to transform the depression
September - now, daily practice and reading.
October - now, arising of the quality described in the original post.

Thank you again anybody for taking time to read this and help a stranger on the internet :) :heart:
Last edited by duckfiasco on Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Surrealness?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:45 am

It can be psychiatric/psychological condition or it may be a consequence of the type of meditation you are engaging in. To gauge this I would change practice for a while. Do you have the opportunity to engage in group sadhana practice? Something where you need to coordinate, interact and synchronise your actions (chanting, bell ringing, etc...) with a group? Try this and see if there is any observable change. Shine can cause one to be an "overly" calm observer (overly calm by modern societies standards).

The points that concern me (as a practitioner but as a psychologist too) are these:
the five senses all feel the same, like different colors of smoke. Hearing and sight seem like the same thing close up, then different when less attention is paid. Thought is in here as well. In meditation when a thought is about to arise, any sense word, taste/feel/smell/hear/see, would be applicable for the sensation of knowing it's about to arise. The sameness can become so marked I worry about forgetting the difference, but it never seems to happen.
Sensations do have the same underlying quality (emptiness) but the differences should appear clearly when you turn your attention to them.
a flowing quality. Nothing stops but things merge smoothly one into the next. I can't neatly isolate one perception from the one before it or after.
When observing mind one should be able to see the pauses between thoughts/perceptions. Actually one trains to do so. Try to observe these pauses. Initially when we meditate it seems that there are no pauses, but that is due to the restlessness of our mind, throuh shine the mind should be calmed to the point where one can 'see": thought (or perception) arising, thought existing, thought passing, pause, thought (or perception) arising, thought existing, thought passing, pause, etc... quite clearly.
the feeling that if I'm not careful, everything will fall apart into its constituent parts. I don't know what I could do to cause such a thing to happen, but it's like playing Jenga... which of these pieces will cause the whole thing to come crashing down?
Like reality will fall apart or the way you perceive reality will fall apart?
despite all this, things seem stuck in their momentum. I watch my habits arise, carry through, then end. The thought occurs to stop the destructive ones, and sometimes I can, but the very powerful ones it seems like I'm watching everything with polite interest behind a plate of glass, uninvolved as it happens.
Equanimity does not involve a lack of involvement with phenomena. It means we relate to phenomena/circumstances without falling into attachment/aversion. We are involved, but we are not emotionally invested in phenomena.

Like I said, since you still seem to be lucid, in control and aware of these "anomalies", it may only take a change in practice to "correct" the problems. Try this first and as soon as possible. If, after changing your practice for a while, you continue to have these thoughts/feelings, or at the first instance that you notice that you acted on one of these feelings without being aware of it (said something, did something unconsciously based on these feelings), then go see a mental health expert. Actually, you could go see a psychologist during the phase where you change your practice too. Talk your issue through with them. Tell them about your practice too. Just so that a professional is aware of what you are going through and keeps tabs on you just in case something goes astray.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 9218
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Surrealness?

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:10 am

gregkavarnos wrote:It can be psychiatric/psychological condition or it may be a consequence of the type of meditation you are engaging in. To gauge this I would change practice for a while. Do you have the opportunity to engage in group sadhana practice? Something where you need to coordinate, interact and synchronise your actions (chanting, bell ringing, etc...) with a group? Try this and see if there is any observable change. Shine can cause one to be an "overly" calm observer (overly calm by modern societies standards).

Yes, I had been going to a Zen center at least biweekly for the entire year, then recently began going to the larger Kagyu center in town. I really enjoy it and the interaction with other people. My practice has this entire time just been focusing on the breath, seeing things arise, going back to the breath if I fly off on a tangent. Sometimes, things calm enough that I can drop the breath and just see different sensations and such arise without getting too worried. They come and go. I haven't seriously practiced any visualization or more complex techniques since I simply lack the concentration to do them.

If practicing on the breath is problematic, what else might you suggest? I always read the breath is the most accessible gateway.

The points that concern me (as a practitioner but as a psychologist too) are these:
the five senses all feel the same, like different colors of smoke. Hearing and sight seem like the same thing close up, then different when less attention is paid. Thought is in here as well. In meditation when a thought is about to arise, any sense word, taste/feel/smell/hear/see, would be applicable for the sensation of knowing it's about to arise. The sameness can become so marked I worry about forgetting the difference, but it never seems to happen.
Sensations do have the same underlying quality (emptiness) but the differences should appear clearly when you turn your attention to them.

It's very hard to describe since I don't have formal training or anything other than what I've read in books and my brief practice. Sorry for the verbal diarrhea :toilet:

It's rare that perceptions are so similar I worry I'll forget what taste versus smell is like. I initially interpreted it as feeling the thoughts from the perceptions, the contact that may turn into interpretation, and feeling they are similar since they arise in the mind and become similar things... "blah is good, blah is bad." I am worried though that when I do what *feels like* paying bare attention to senses, they seem more similar than dissimilar. But then I go back to ordinary attention and they're distinct. Not sure what to make of that?

a flowing quality. Nothing stops but things merge smoothly one into the next. I can't neatly isolate one perception from the one before it or after.
When observing mind one should be able to see the pauses between thoughts/perceptions. Actually one trains to do so. Try to observe these pauses. Initially when we meditate it seems that there are no pauses, but that is due to the restlessness of our mind, throuh shine the mind should be calmed to the point where one can 'see": thought (or perception) arising, thought existing, thought passing, pause, thought (or perception) arising, thought existing, thought passing, pause, etc... quite clearly.

Thank you. I do have a very restless mind. Counting breaths is how I start every practice because of it. I hadn't given any thought to this, but it sounds like a wonderful idea.

the feeling that if I'm not careful, everything will fall apart into its constituent parts. I don't know what I could do to cause such a thing to happen, but it's like playing Jenga... which of these pieces will cause the whole thing to come crashing down?
Like reality will fall apart or the way you perceive reality will fall apart?

Well, I don't feel like I'll go nuts or anything. I did use maybe melodramatic words there :) I guess a better way to describe it would just be a tenuousness to everything. Maybe a result of having impermanence drilled into me in every dharma book I read, or perhaps a daily awareness of death that I've had since I was very young. Everything just feels very delicate and fragile. It won't get destroyed into some nihilistic wasteland, but things as they are now seem "just so" and impossible to really keep that way. I'm always waiting for the rug to get pulled out from under me. But there's no anxiety about it. More verbal diarrhea :P

despite all this, things seem stuck in their momentum. I watch my habits arise, carry through, then end. The thought occurs to stop the destructive ones, and sometimes I can, but the very powerful ones it seems like I'm watching everything with polite interest behind a plate of glass, uninvolved as it happens.
Equanimity does not involve a lack of involvement with phenomena. It means we relate to phenomena/circumstances without falling into attachment/aversion. We are involved, but we are not emotionally invested in phenomena.

I see where you're coming from :) I qualified what I meant better in my second post. I think I overstated it a bit, and it's simply one specific long-standing addictive behavior that feels like I have no control in. The sense of momentum is what I was more getting at. One of the things that kicked me out of depression was actually this. I started feeling the "momentum" of certain thoughts and actions, and how they might lead to stronger and stronger ones until it became a full-blown depressive night. I noticed each thought or activity had a previous one, until wow, this little thing here lead to all of that? It was very eye opening.
I'm starting to see that quality with more thoughts, though I can't discern where most are leading. Some though yes, and it's been of enormous help in cultivating wholesome behavior by sniffing out the habitual thoughts that could lead to sorrow.

Like I said, since you still seem to be lucid, in control and aware of these "anomalies", it may only take a change in practice to "correct" the problems. Try this first and as soon as possible. If, after changing your practice for a while, you continue to have these thoughts/feelings, or at the first instance that you notice that you acted on one of these feelings without being aware of it (said something, did something unconsciously based on these feelings), then go see a mental health expert. Actually, you could go see a psychologist during the phase where you change your practice too. Talk your issue through with them. Tell them about your practice too. Just so that a professional is aware of what you are going through and keeps tabs on you just in case something goes astray.
:namaste:

Thank you. A big reason I posted it on here also is I feel it's related to my practice. Catmoon's suggestion also got me talking with my partner about all this, so he's on the lookout for me being a wing nut, too. I admit at the moment, I'm skeptical of a psychologist.

Honestly, I was surprised by the worried responses. Aside from this weird quality, compassion has come more easily, equanimity has helped me help others calm down in a very tough domestic situation... it seems like things in my immediate daily life aren't going to the pits, but improving. But this all gives me pause.

Again, I'm very appreciative of anyone who takes the time to help out.
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Surrealness?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:48 am

duckfiasco wrote:I haven't seriously practiced any visualization or more complex techniques since I simply lack the concentration to do them.
Anapanasati should be curing that problem. How long have you been practicing breath meditation? On the other hand, practicing visualisations helps develop ones ability to visualise (strangely enough). Just like drawing your attention back to the breath helps you focus, in the same way drawing your attention back to the visualisation helps you to focus. It is just another object.
If practicing on the breath is problematic, what else might you suggest? I always read the breath is the most accessible gateway.
I do not think it is problematic at all. Anapanasati was my sole practice for 12 years. Just that it tends to be "isolating" whereas it seems to me that you also need to be doing a practice that ties you back into your environment. Balance is the key.
It's rare that perceptions are so similar I worry I'll forget what taste versus smell is like. I initially interpreted it as feeling the thoughts from the perceptions, the contact that may turn into interpretation, and feeling they are similar since they arise in the mind and become similar things... "blah is good, blah is bad." I am worried though that when I do what *feels like* paying bare attention to senses, they seem more similar than dissimilar. But then I go back to ordinary attention and they're distinct. Not sure what to make of that?
Well, now you are being clearer. Perceptions are essentially identical after they have passed into mind. But they are also, essentially, identical before this stage too, due to their empty nature. ;)
I see where you're coming from :) I qualified what I meant better in my second post. I think I overstated it a bit, and it's simply one specific long-standing addictive behavior that feels like I have no control in.
You do not control, or you do not want to control? Let's get serious for a second here: normally we enjoy our addictive behaviours, while engaged in them, it's the consequences that we do not enjoy! :smile:
Thank you. A big reason I posted it on here also is I feel it's related to my practice. Catmoon's suggestion also got me talking with my partner about all this, so he's on the lookout for me being a wing nut, too. I admit at the moment, I'm skeptical of a psychologist.
It is related to your practice, but it is also related to your mental health. As for being skeptical of psychologists, I am a psychologist too you know! :tongue: Some of my advice comes from my experience as a psychologit and some from my experience as a practitioner. Not all psychologists are into mind control and money making.
Honestly, I was surprised by the worried responses. Aside from this weird quality, compassion has come more easily, equanimity has helped me help others calm down in a very tough domestic situation... it seems like things in my immediate daily life aren't going to the pits, but improving. But this all gives me pause.

Again, I'm very appreciative of anyone who takes the time to help out.
The worried responses are probably due to the fact that all of us here have some sort of direct (negative) experience with psychiatric/psychological dis-ease.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 9218
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Surrealness?

Postby catmoon » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:48 am

@ le Duck

Two things. I see a lot more parallels between your experiences and the symptoms of depersonalization than you do, and

the disorder spans the border between health and disease, it is only the more persistent and severe forms that are classified as "disease". In other words perfectly healthy people can have quite a bit of this sort of thing going on.

You may have noticed that recreational drug use has a role. Oops that's three things.


Sigh I can just see me as a shrink.

Dr. Catmoon : I believe you have depersonalization disorder. Look at this symptom list.
Hapless Patient: But but this isn't me at all!
Dr Catmoon: You mean you don't identify with these symptoms?
Hapless Patient: No!
Dr Catmoon: Nothing to do with you at all?
Hapless Patient: Absolutely not!
Dr Catmoon: See, I told you you had depersonalization disorder. Can't recognize yourself to save your life. (To intercom) nurse, straitjacket, stat. (To Hapless Patient) Will that be cash, debit or cheque?

So its kind of a Catch-22 diagnosis isn't it?
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 3002
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

Re: Surrealness?

Postby Thus-gone » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:31 pm

These are absolutely symptoms of depersonalisation/derealisation. However, DP/DR are themselves symptoms of the dukkha ñañas. With continued vipasyana-style practice, the symptoms will pass. Consider a retreat.

Most importantly, don't worry. DP/DR is not a permanent medical condition - it's a stage in spiritual practice. Most people get stuck in it because they don't have a meditation practice or, if they do, discontinue it at this point - hence the "medical" disorder. If you browse a DP/DR support forum, it's extremely clear that all of the people are in the dark night and don't know it.
Thus-gone
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:31 am

Re: Surrealness?

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:28 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
duckfiasco wrote:I haven't seriously practiced any visualization or more complex techniques since I simply lack the concentration to do them.
Anapanasati should be curing that problem. How long have you been practicing breath meditation? On the other hand, practicing visualisations helps develop ones ability to visualise (strangely enough). Just like drawing your attention back to the breath helps you focus, in the same way drawing your attention back to the visualisation helps you to focus. It is just another object.

Well, half-assed intermittent meditation for a year, then daily diligent practice for about three months. My concentration has improved greatly, but coming from a mind that was like a bunch of hummingbirds in a tornado, I'm trying to be patient! :rolling: I'm more able to recognize a distraction in its early stages now. Just not quite enough to sustain a visualization for more than a few breaths. I suppose visualization practice would help, but I'm waiting for instruction from a teacher. In fact, this Sunday there'll be a Chenrezig teaching at the Kagyu center :)

If practicing on the breath is problematic, what else might you suggest? I always read the breath is the most accessible gateway.
I do not think it is problematic at all. Anapanasati was my sole practice for 12 years. Just that it tends to be "isolating" whereas it seems to me that you also need to be doing a practice that ties you back into your environment. Balance is the key.

So maybe practice with a visual object, like the Buddha statue on my altar? I haven't tried using a visual object before. Just the breath, and the weird objectless kind that sometimes happens where I'm just sitting there and different things arise but nothing becomes a focus. That one's not too common, though.

It's rare that perceptions are so similar I worry I'll forget what taste versus smell is like. I initially interpreted it as feeling the thoughts from the perceptions, the contact that may turn into interpretation, and feeling they are similar since they arise in the mind and become similar things... "blah is good, blah is bad." I am worried though that when I do what *feels like* paying bare attention to senses, they seem more similar than dissimilar. But then I go back to ordinary attention and they're distinct. Not sure what to make of that?
Well, now you are being clearer. Perceptions are essentially identical after they have passed into mind. But they are also, essentially, identical before this stage too, due to their empty nature. ;)

Whew! I wish I could edit my initial post to make it less alarming to those who may only read the first post then reply. I think I'm understanding that one Zen story, and now I'm in the "mountains are not mountains" part :P

I see where you're coming from :) I qualified what I meant better in my second post. I think I overstated it a bit, and it's simply one specific long-standing addictive behavior that feels like I have no control in.
You do not control, or you do not want to control? Let's get serious for a second here: normally we enjoy our addictive behaviours, while engaged in them, it's the consequences that we do not enjoy! :smile:

I'm very fortunate that my karma with addiction here is not drug related, which I think Catmoon thought. So there's no recreational drug use giving me "insight" here. Mine is a sensual addiction, specifically to lust. I'm at the stage where the enjoyment is almost at a minimum, but I'm going through the motions. Even the consequences are not so terrible anymore. I used to be overrun with guilt. Now it's more like "that was a waste of time. I hope I can just not bother at all next time."
I call it an addiction because it started out ordinarily enough, then became one where I put myself through hell afterwards but did it next time anyway, and now it seems boring and I still do it anyway. Sorry if I alarmed anyone into thinking I was addicted to heroin or something.

Thank you. A big reason I posted it on here also is I feel it's related to my practice. Catmoon's suggestion also got me talking with my partner about all this, so he's on the lookout for me being a wing nut, too. I admit at the moment, I'm skeptical of a psychologist.
It is related to your practice, but it is also related to your mental health. As for being skeptical of psychologists, I am a psychologist too you know! :tongue: Some of my advice comes from my experience as a psychologit and some from my experience as a practitioner. Not all psychologists are into mind control and money making.

Thank you, your example is helping me soften my view. I mainly had one very bad experience with a psychologist. Full-on teen angst, a recent parental divorce, living in tension with my stepdad in a place I hated and a Mormon school when I wasn't Mormon. The prescription? Five minutes of conversation and a drug. It's left me skeptical of psychologists.

catmoon wrote:the disorder spans the border between health and disease, it is only the more persistent and severe forms that are classified as "disease". In other words perfectly healthy people can have quite a bit of this sort of thing going on.

Thank you. It's important to have lots of perspectives on this so I don't cheerfully drive myself nuts while thinking I'm benefiting all beings. Whoopsy. Like I said, if it is symptomatic of DP/DR, the results haven't been dysfunctional. No real anxiety, no social alienation, two of the primary results of DP/DR that I read.

Just in case you don't worry too (I mentioned it above) the addiction is not drug-related :)


Thus-gone wrote:These are absolutely symptoms of depersonalisation/derealisation. However, DP/DR are themselves symptoms of the dukkha ñañas. With continued vipasyana-style practice, the symptoms will pass. Consider a retreat.

Derealization sounds like the opposite direction I want to be going. Could you please elaborate on the dukkha ñañas? I found a list of 16 (?) ñañas related to breath meditation and couldn't find a specific dukkha one. Do you just mean realization of the qualities of dukkha experientially? I would say that's partly what's going on, if I had to guess.
Also, doing my first zhinay group retreat December 31st - January 1st :thumbsup: It culminates in taking refuge. I'm very excited.

Most importantly, don't worry. DP/DR is not a permanent medical condition - it's a stage in spiritual practice. Most people get stuck in it because they don't have a meditation practice or, if they do, discontinue it at this point - hence the "medical" disorder. If you browse a DP/DR support forum, it's extremely clear that all of the people are in the dark night and don't know it.

Thank you for this encouragement. I realize I was already reifying my experience with this. "What if this becomes permanent? This is so weird, am I going insane?" Oops. That's when the worrying started.

I'm curious to read more about the Dark Night in Buddhist terms. I'm familiar with the Christian take. It was in the throes of depression that I had an experience that closely mirrored the Dark Night, and that got me looking to a spiritual path. Since I wasn't practicing anything at the time though, it was maybe a taste and not the real thing.

I don't plan on giving up practice or running away from anything in fear here. If I do have DP/DR, even momentarily, I'm convinced it's workable like anything else. And if it can become a future source of compassion for those in a similar state, all the better :popcorn:
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Surrealness?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:01 pm

Duck, alot of this is similar to what I have been going through since starting up daily insight meditation. I have a history with depression, so I have to be careful.

On the advice of people here I have been spending more time on loving kindness meditations and tonglen, this seems to help alot with the "everything is falling apart" feeling. Also I try to look at what is 'behind' all the parts that are in danger of falling apart..if that makes sense. Tonglen is easy to do...I do it when my concentration is failing, and then return to insight when it comes back.

I think that even realization of the "basics" in Dharma shakes one's worldview, it actually IS sad..you don't realize impermanence until you practice, and when you do see that it is all going away it's very sad, not just that it will be gone one day, but that it already is in that process.

So far transforming that sadness/fear into equanimity is helping me alot.

On the concentration thing, have you tried mantra at all? I find them fantastic, rather than requiring concentration they feel like they "are" concentration and seem to operate on an almost physical, intuitive level. The center I am going to seems to end with mantra after insight practice, I tried to do this myself in my home practice and do 108 Om Mani Padme Hum's...I find it very grounding after the insight practice.

Also the lojong slogans have been helpful.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2400
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: Surrealness?

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:24 pm

Thank you, Johnny. Reading your other posts, I've often felt like we're in a similar place. I'll have to give tonglen a more diligent look. I've kind of blown off visualizations because they feel very difficult, even uncomplicated ones like tonglen. Using them to gather concentration is interesting too... I always just count to 10, but I'll give this a try :) The "everything is falling apart" feeling is useful motivation to practice, but at some point it's just like sitting there with my hair on fire when I'm already doing everything I can. It's still burning my head anyway :P

The sadness of impermanence is something I didn't anticipate. I worried it was depression coming in again, but it's much finer and less heavy this time. It doesn't pull me into specific thought patterns like depression used to. It's kind of wistful, like watching birds fly across the sky with no way of stopping them. Then you can't even tell they were there after. I wonder if this is just the fact that samsara is unsatisfactory? It's weird to have such a basic part of Buddhism seem so visceral. Hopefully I can cultivate equanimity from this feeling as you have :)

I've used mantras as a fast track to generating compassion for strangers or difficult people. I hadn't realized they could be used for concentration, also. Shows my lack of instruction here.

Thank you for your insightful reply.
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Surrealness?

Postby wisdom » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:12 pm

duckfiasco wrote:I haven't been specifically examining one specific sutra or idea lately. The only daily, consistent thing has been zhinay meditation. I discussed my meditation experiences with a teacher, and he said it sounded like objectless meditation. He suggested I not linger too long in that state at any one time, but return to the breath periodically.


Some people are able to meditate directly on emptiness as their "focus" of meditation. The sense of surrealness comes from recognizing that reality is dream like in its nature, but also having not fully realized emptiness. What you are experiencing is the break down of old mental habits, concepts, and patterns. The truth is that things really are "surreal":

• SURREAL (adjective)
The adjective SURREAL has 2 senses:
1. characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions
2. resembling a dream


The more we recognize things are dream like, the more our ego and conceptions break down. The fear comes from the fact that the ego doesn't enjoy the dissolution of our old ways of thinking, and wants us to return to a comfortable place where we feel "grounded". The nature of the mind is groundless, which can be a really uncomfortable experience to even get a glimpse of, so gradually we have to push our limits until we fully realize the truth of emptiness.

My advice as someone who has experienced this in the past and no longer does is to take it easy on yourself but maintain steady practice, be open and willing to whatever comes, and maintain your pure intention/bodhicitta.
User avatar
wisdom
 
Posts: 473
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:33 am

Re: Surrealness?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:15 pm

duckfiasco wrote:Thank you, your example is helping me soften my view. I mainly had one very bad experience with a psychologist. Full-on teen angst, a recent parental divorce, living in tension with my stepdad in a place I hated and a Mormon school when I wasn't Mormon. The prescription? Five minutes of conversation and a drug. It's left me skeptical of psychologists.
Psychologists cannot prescribe drugs, psychiatrists prescribe drugs. That's coz they are doctors too.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 9218
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Surrealness?

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:57 am

Well then I guess I'm fine with psychologists after all :D That was over 10 years ago so my memory is fuzzy :) I appreciate your experienced input, Greg. Σας ευχαριστώ. :thumbsup:

I suppose another source of my worry was that my year of half-assed practice mostly changed my attitude and outlook, but the things themselves had the same feel to them. Then after a few months of a little meditation every day, this inexplicable quality has started to emerge on a deep level, even though 90% of my sessions feels like snapping out of distractions and not doing anything special at all. I'm relieved to see others have experience with this, and they have gotten through it.

It makes me wonder what the hell is the mind that paying attention to your breath (or not) can have any effect on it at all? Just another item to add to the list of why human beings are so weird :shrug: Glad I don't have to understand the inner workings to practice.

I'm very touched by the concern shown by Catmoon and Steve and others. I have a few friends and my partner keeping a close eye on me now :) If I do start to experience regular anxiety about this or withdraw socially, I'll seek help from my lama and start considering psychological care.

wisdom wrote:My advice as someone who has experienced this in the past and no longer does is to take it easy on yourself but maintain steady practice, be open and willing to whatever comes, and maintain your pure intention/bodhicitta.

Thank you! That's very reassuring.
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
User avatar
duckfiasco
 
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Surrealness?

Postby catmoon » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:50 am

When contemplating emptiness we put our world view at risk. But that world view contains most of our tools for dealing with reality, and if it is rapidly deconstructed there may be a shortage of coping mechanisms for a while. In time, new coping mechanisms arise which are based in the new understanding, and things then normalize.

Since coping mechanisms are primarily derived from long experience, people who already have that long experience can be very helpful to those making the transition.

Just guessin' tho. I remember when I first started to look at emptiness seriously, and there was a time when a fire hydrant looked like a brilliantly colored paper shell to me. Things like that went on for a coupla months, maybe six, but eventually I saw that the realization of emptiness does not bring about the end of functionality and that there was little point or benefit in looking at an iron object as if it wasn't really there. More to the point is that we assign some intrinsic properties to objects that are not intrinsic to them, like goodness, badness, heaviness, lightness and so on.

So when emptiness first hits we see the fire hydrant as barely there. This is because we have negated the intrinsic heaviness and the intrinsic solidity of the thing, and then gone on to the errors- if it is not heavy it must be light, if it is not strong then it must be fragile. So we correctly negate certain intrinsic properties, but becuase we are so used to intrinsic properties, we go right ahead and replace them with the OPPOSITE intrinsic properties!

Am I making sense here?
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 3002
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

Re: Surrealness?

Postby Thus-gone » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:58 am

If you look here, the dukkha ñañas are stages five through ten. This would be the Buddhist equivalent of the Dark Night.

I've experienced what you describe a number of times throughout my practice, and sometimes it came with further symptoms like terror, depression and ego dissolution. Soon enough I realised that this was an extremely fruitful area of practice, and since then I've actually come to love it in a strange way. When you get an initial glimpse of no-self, most of the DP/DR symptoms disappear permanently. Actually, the whole concept of DP/DR stops making any sense: if everything is your own mind, how can anything be "dreamlike"? It's not even remotely different from a dream in the first place! Depersonalisation? of who? :shrug:
Thus-gone
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:31 am

Re: Surrealness?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:44 am

The difference is that in meditational experience one is consciously aware of the changes, whereas in mental illness it occurs because one loses their conscious awareness. It's a HUGE difference.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
User avatar
Sherab Dorje
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 9218
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Surrealness?

Postby lobster » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:14 pm

Excellent advice from everyone :smile:
Any sense of unreality and I would focus on grounding. For me this means walking, prostrations, yoga, Chi-kung etc.
The important thing is being able to deal with life and reality. You seem OK there . . . :woohoo:
User avatar
lobster
 
Posts: 951
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Surrealness?

Postby Thus-gone » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:04 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:The difference is that in meditational experience one is consciously aware of the changes, whereas in mental illness it occurs because one loses their conscious awareness. It's a HUGE difference.
:namaste:


This has nothing to do with DP/DR, which is precisely uncomfortable because one is consciously aware that things are different. It is not psychosis.
Thus-gone
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:31 am

Next

Return to Personal Experience

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

>