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Frightening experience - Dhamma Wheel

Frightening experience

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
greggorious
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Frightening experience

Postby greggorious » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:30 pm

I've just been meditating for 15 minutes and some really horrible images were coming up, very disturbing. I suddenly feel frightened, I'm shaking with anxiety and feel like crying. Is this normal? If not maybe I should just stick to samada for now?
I have a history of depression and I thought Vippasana might help me see through it.
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah

David2
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby David2 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:41 pm

This is definitely normal.

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Fede
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby Fede » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:43 pm

Mental issues are not always helped by meditation. They can occasionally, if not aided and supervised, be detrimental to conditions.
If you are under a specialist/therapist, take some advice or seek counsel.
I have heard from others who have experienced mental issues that their meditation was also not always a positive experience.

Take care, breathe, and relax.

be well.
Fede.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/

greggorious
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby greggorious » Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:07 pm

What's the point in meditating then? I thought it was to see through the veils of ignorance, to look at suffering face on. Depression is pretty much the first noble truth all over.
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah

ricketybridge
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby ricketybridge » Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:18 pm


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Ben
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby Ben » Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:40 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Nibbida
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby Nibbida » Sat Apr 30, 2011 2:43 am

Seeing horrific images is not at all uncommon, whether meditators are depressed or not. I had nightmares like that when I was on retreat for a week. I found that doing metta before I went to sleep at night helped noticably.

It might be helpful to consider how long you've been meditating for. When people have a serious practice, long-term the can get to stages called bhanga, which may feature frightening images. Or, as you suggest, it could be a manifestation of depression during meditation (or a little of both). Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is used to alleviate depression, so most people who do mindfulness/insight meditation don't experience that early on, which is why I bring up the point about how long/intensively you've been practicing.

One explanation why images of death appear later on is because of insight into impermanence. One constantly sees everything deteriorating as soon as it comes about. Also insight into anatta can also bring about images of death because it's as if the self thinks it's dying.

If samatha give you less trouble, that may be a better alternative for the time being. Meditation on brahma-viharas may also do well. Many people who do jhana practice notice their depression may reduce or disappear (according to jhana teacher Shaila Catherine). If you have considerable experience meditating, it may be a good idea to hook up with a teacher who can guide you through this. Many psychiatrists and psychotherapists may not be familiar with "spiritual emergence" There is a resource called the Spiritual Emergence Network in the USA that can make referrals to therapists who are familiar with this phenomenon:

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Fede
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby Fede » Sun May 01, 2011 6:42 pm

"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/

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cooran
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby cooran » Sun May 01, 2011 9:10 pm

Hello G,

In addition to the comments above, this list from Sayadaw U Tejaniya might be of interest:

Sayadaw U Tejaniya 'Right attitude for meditation'
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=7155

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

rowyourboat
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Frightening experience

Postby rowyourboat » Sun May 01, 2011 10:39 pm

Hi greggorious,

I'm not sure what you are doing is vipassana. It would help to hear what exactly it is you are doing. My guess is that it is a samatha process, where you are letting the mind settle, and that brings up these horrible images. It must be said that feeling depressed in meditation is NOT seeing the first noble Truth. The Truth is a cognitive/ thinking or conceptual output of the meditation- 'this is unsatisfactory' rather than the emotional 'I feel rubbish'. If someone is prone to depression it is important to do a lot of mental purification first (samatha proper-ideally jhana; overcome depression) and only then undertake vipassana. Vipassana takes a very strong mind to withstand, if it is the real thing.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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manas
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Re: Frightening experience

Postby manas » Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:21 pm

We need to know what is in our best interests, which might not always be identical to what we want at a particular time. That's part of caring for ourselves. It's like a kid in a candy store: the kid wants a whole bag of sweets, but the parent knows that this is going to make the child sick, and only buys one candy bar for the child. The kid can yell and scream, but a good parent doesn't just give a child what it wants, but first considers what it needs. We can take this attitude with our own minds also. I often have to take this stance with my own mind.

I had some pretty scary images coming up earlier this year. It's well and good for us to say, 'none of these images are self, they are just images in the mind', which is perfectly true, but not all minds are ready or able to have this perspective. I feel that identification goes deeper than what we might think. We might not even realize that we are identified with our body, our feelings, perceptions etc. And so, when the scary images came up for me, although I 'knew' they were not real, they felt real anyway - and that wasn't purely just a lack of sati-sampajanya, it was also because, on an emotional level, I was identifying with those images. (In fact, I still could do so, except that I restrain it - will elaborate below.)

I stopped meditating for a few days. I was scared to do the practice. Then I tried to think it out thus: What are those terrible images, really? They are just made of mind, nothing more. They have no more substance than that. My body, by comparison, is solid and stable. Why don't I spend all my energy in this meditation just grounding my awareness in the body?

It worked. I 'allowed' the scary images to enter, with one crucial precondition: I maintained (strictly) awareness in this physical flesh-and-bones body. This 'gounded' me, kept me from 'floating off' into the scary images and believing in them. I perceived that 'this body is one thing - (solid and stable) - and the horrible images / ideas are another thing - (comparitively insubstantial, like phantoms). Whenever my mind drifted off into the scary images, I patiently brought it back into awareness of kaya, the body. Thus I was able to not care anymore whether they arose or not. But it was crucial to be able to stay with the perception of this physical body as a sort of 'anchor'. That was what undermined any belief in the scary images as being anything of substance.

Disclaimer, however: please take the advice or more experienced practitioners above mine, and as has been pointed out, be careful. I'm not a medical professional, nor a qualified counsellor. I just wanted to share how I deal with this issue. :smile:
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."


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