I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

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I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby Middleway » Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:07 pm

Hi
Sorry for the ambiguous title but it seems the most appropriate.

My story is that I am a guy in his early 30's who has struggled with anxiety and depression for pretty much my whole life. I have reached the end of what psychiatry can offer me. I have been through all the medications and enough therapy to know that its not going to help me. Aside from brief relief from medication the only true relief I have felt is when I started seriously reading and applying buddhism to my life.

Before I had goals in life but was frustrated by my mental state limiting me achieving them. Now, I am just so lost. I have no idea who I am, what I want out of life and where I am going. I am terrified of waking up one day as a bitter old man on his death bed, alone and full of regret. I am not exaggerating, I have realised that there is a pattern going in my life that if it continues will lead to just that. I am scared to death.

I need to make some pretty huge changes to my life. I'm not an alcoholic but alcohol is just bringing me misery so I need to stop it. I work night shifts because I can't handle days and that is destructive to my well being as well. Friends I can't related to, a very unsatisfactory living situation. In years gone by I have packed up and moved towns, cities traveled but as the old saying goes, wherever you go, there you are. So I am not going to do that this time unless it is with a clear goal.

One of my biggest symptoms is that I have thoughts that just race at a million miles an hour through my mind. I am just so scattered and all over the place. Meditation seems so counterintuitive to my natural instincts..,to stay busy, stay alert, do anything to keep my mind occupied to keep the awful thoughts and panic at bay. It scares me to even think about relaxing to be honest.
I have tried before with no success but I know that you are meant to accept that your have become distracted and return to focus on your breathing.

I have been to temple once but found the overtly religious aspect of it disconcerting. I have so many pressures on me at the moment, I am wondering if I should go to thailand for 6 months or a year and study buddhism. I am fortunate in that I can afford to do this.... Just.

I need some advice on how to begin, what school of buddhism is the most appropriate and anything else that may help me on my path.
This is not a whim, I am deadly serious about applying buddhism to my life and becoming a more loving and happier person.

Words would not convay my gratitude for any advice

Thanks
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby palchi » Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:43 pm

Hi,

I don't know where you are based, but if in (or near) the UK this link might be of interest to you.

http://www.tararokpa.org/therapy/about/index.php

I have no personal experiences with this programme but have heard very good things about it.

Best wishes
palchi
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby Mr. G » Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:54 pm

Hi Middleway,

You mentioned that you wanted to study in Thailand? Perhaps this is a better forum to ask your question:

http://www.dhammawheel.com

I would personally recommend Mahasi style vipassana, and if I were in your position, I would go here:

http://www.saddhamma.org/html/about_saddhamma.shtml

But that's just my biased opinion. :smile:

:namaste:
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby Middleway » Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:32 pm

Thanks very much, I will check those links now. I am based in Melbourne Australia.
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby Su DongPo » Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:40 pm

Middleway,

Have a look here --

http://www.dhamma.org.au/

Best of luck,
Dongpo
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby Luke » Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:38 pm

Hi Middleway,

It could be that you truly are too restless to meditate right now, but that's okay because there are other things you can do to work your way there.

1) You can focus on performing positive actions: be kind and helpful to people, be generous, give donations (even if they're small) to Buddhist temples, and save animals which will otherwise be killed (release fish into the river/ocean, etc.). The Buddhist answer why you are suffering now is that it is due to bad karma which you accumulated in previous lifetimes. You can eventually purify this bad karma by accumulating good karma.

You should also avoid harming other beings whenever possible (this includes insects!), and becoming a vegetarian is often a very good thing to do.

You can also get a Buddha statue or print out some beautiful Buddhist images from the internet to hang on your walls to inspire you. Even if you don't have an altar, you can imagine that you are mentally offering flowers, treasures, and other beautiful and precious things to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. They, of course, don't need any of this, but it creates good karma for yourself.

2) You could do yoga or other exercises. If you're too restless to meditate, then a "moving meditation" like yoga might be better for you. Ashtanga yoga is one of the most physically intense styles of yoga, so if you want to work out some energy in a spiritual way, that might help you.

Or physical exercise can be helpful such as walking, running, swimming, bicycling, hiking, lifting weights, etc. They often improve your mind as well as your body. See if your mind wanders while you're in the middle of doing heavy bench presses!

3) You could recite the Refuge Prayer. Once I went to the lectures of a great Tibetan Buddhist yogi and one person in the audience asked him what he should do when he experienced frightening, hell-like states of mind as an after-effect of using drugs for a long time. The Buddhist yogi advised this person to recite the Refuge Prayer and possibly the long version of it (I'm not sure what the "long version" is).

Here are some of the short ones:
Traditional Refuge Prayers

Namo Buddhaya
Namo Dharmaya
Namo Sanghaya

I go for refuge to the Buddha,
I go for refuge to the Dharma,
I go for refuge to the Sangha.

or, the Tibetan (Mahayana) version:

Until I am enlightened,
I go for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Through the virtue I create by practising giving and the other perfections,
may I become a Buddha to benefit all sentient beings.

http://viewonbuddhism.org/refuge.html

You could also go to your nearest Buddhist temple and go through the taking refuge ceremony to formally become a Buddhist. You can do this at a temple of any Buddhist sect. You can still learn from any sect of Buddhism after doing this. For example, you could take refuge with a Zen Buddhist priest and then later decide to study Theravada or Tibetan Buddhism.

4) Limit your exposure to forms of electronic entertainment. You said that you have a problem with your mind racing all the time. Watching TV and surfing the internet certainly don't help this. Go back to the basics: exercise, read, listen to the sounds of nature (or of the city). This can also be a preliminary way to calm your mind down, so you might be able to meditate later.

I hope you are successful in overcoming your problems.

Luke
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby Middleway » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:40 pm

Thanks for your advice Luke (and everyone else)
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby fragrant herbs » Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:32 pm

whether you like or dislike meditation or chanting, you should give them a try and see what happens. when i first started out i joined a group that chanted, and i just told myself to stay for at least 6 months to see what happens. i actually had to make myself stay, and then 9 mo. later i moved on to meditation. you won't know unless you try.

it sounds like you are at a loss because therapy didn't work with you. i used to suffer from anxiety and depression. 13 years in therapy didn't bring any cure. i had to learn positive thinking and cured myself. now-a-days they call it cognitive therapy and dr. david burns wrote a book called, feeling good. and for the anxiety attacks i found drinking chamomile tea worked. it may not be the type you suffer from, but i lived with "butterflies." and i was given the tea and found it worked when it was actually just a cold remedy tea and one of the ingredients was chamomile, and when i looked it up it said anti-spasmodic. so i assume i had been having spasms all those years.

good luck to you.
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby ball-of-string » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:55 pm

Hey Middleway. I hope you achieve the serenity you are seeking. I am crazy-as-a-loon myself, so I will give you this cautionary statement. Meditation and other Buddhist practices did not result me being any less depressed or anxious, but instead helped me to accept myself and those conditions. And through acceptance, I suddenly became less depressed and anxious. I know what I said is paradoxical, and that was my experience.

I am sending you a PM. Check your mailbox...
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Re: I have pretty much everything hanging on this...

Postby Tilopa » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:18 am

Middleway wrote:Hi

One of my biggest symptoms is that I have thoughts that just race at a million miles an hour through my mind. I am just so scattered and all over the place. Meditation seems so counterintuitive to my natural instincts..,to stay busy, stay alert, do anything to keep my mind occupied to keep the awful thoughts and panic at bay. It scares me to even think about relaxing to be honest.
I have tried before with no success but I know that you are meant to accept that your have become distracted and return to focus on your breathing.

I need some advice on how to begin, what school of buddhism is the most appropriate and anything else that may help me on my path.
This is not a whim, I am deadly serious about applying buddhism to my life and becoming a more loving and happier person.

Words would not convay my gratitude for any advice

Thanks


I'm not sure meditation would be so helpful for you right now. My suggestion would be Tai Chi, Chigong or Hatha Yoga, maybe a combination of all three along with acupuncture and chinese medicine. I say this because the symptons you describe are typical of what we in the tibetan tradition call 'lung' which is an imbalance of the subltle wind energy in the body which also adversely affects the mind. Meditation can sometimes make it worse. I think you should definitely take dharma teachings but be careful about the meditation side of things until your winds are back in balance. Eat well, sleep a lot and commune with mother nature as much as possible.

As you live in Melbourne you should try and visit this centre:

http://www.tarainstitute.org.au/
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