Spiritedness

The Dark Night of the Soul, Meditation & Mental illness

24 posts in this topic

I am a huge fan of Zen Buddhism and have been meditating for a few years on and off, usually stopping my meditation practice after 1-2 weeks of doing it and then taking a break for a few months before re-starting it again. Main reason this was happening was because of a phenomenon called "The Dark night of the Soul", which describes a phase that many meditators experience, whereby the meditation causes rise to lots of unpleasant emotions and feelings. Personally, I have been anxious since childhood and many years ago I had severe OCD (still have it lurking in my current adult years but in different, less severe forms I'd say). I am also socially anxious around women to the degree where I have constant 7/10 anxiety in any place I go to that has females around that could potentially be looking at me (even while working out at the gym). Point is, I believe that whenever I started introducing meditation into my daily routine it sort of caused all these feelings of intense anxiety to surface and amplified them to an unbearable degree - causing me to eventually abandon the practice altogether because I couldn't handle it. Just to clarify, the reason I say all this is not because of the fact that these negative emotions were existing AS I WAS DOING the meditation itself in real-time (as that's natural to happen), but because all this anxiety and stress were present throughout most of my day as well, even when I wasn't meditating. Sometimes it has gotten so bad that even my sleep was affected. It's a shame because Zen, and Eastern philosophy in general, has taught me the importance of things like psychological flexibility, acceptance and "letting go". It taught me how we self-sabotage by being reactive to our internal mental events, by always being judgmental and trying to change them. It has shifted my entire worldview and was the reason I got into spirituality and consciousness work and eventually...finding Actualized.org! I really want to continue treading on this path, I want to explore the possibilities but I feel this problem I have with my meditation practice is limiting me as it affects my daily life. What should I do? Is there anything I can do to make this "phase" go by any smoother? Any tips to handle the overwhelming anxiety happening throughout the day caused by the meditation? Should I just accept that it's a natural part of the whole process? Should I stop the meditation altogether and first try treating my mental disorders by going to a therapist? Is it recommended for people who are mentally ill to meditate or is it a bad idea? I am very confused and wanted you guys' opinions, hopefully Leo you can see this thread and give me your input too. Thanks in advance everyone!

Edited by Spiritedness

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are talking about shadow work not the dark night of the soul. Dark night is like years long or decades long suppression of the soul. This is just shadow work. The ego needs to think in order to exist so it will bring up thoughts to get you to stop meditating. After you quite the base noise down it will have to expose itself in the form of unreleived traumas. You just gotta think about it and cry about it. Or take psychs as with psyches this stuff is forced upon you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Spiritedness said:

What should I do? Is there anything I can do to make this "phase" go by smoother? Any tips to handle the overwhelming anxiety happening throughout the day caused by the meditation? Should I just accept that it's a natural part of the whole process? Should I stop the meditation altogether and first try treating my mental disorders by going to a therapist? Is it recommended for people who are mentally ill to meditate or is it a bad idea?

I have OCD as well. Seeing a therapist sounds like the best thing for you right now (as I still do). Specifically, find a therapist who specializes in ERP (exposure response prevention) therapy. That’s the gold standard treatment for OCD.

It may be expensive if your insurance doesn’t cover it, but getting the best treatment for your specific condition will pay off in the long-term.

It’s shown that doing traditional talk therapy typically isn’t effective for treating OCD, hence why I specifically recommend ERP therapy.

Trust me, 10+ years have pissed away since I wasn’t getting the proper help. I wish for you to get it as soon as possible so you don’t follow in my footsteps. 


“Within the garden of your mind, every thought is a seed that can bloom into a galaxy of wonders." -ChatGPT 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, Spiritedness said:

I am a huge fan of Zen Buddhism and have been meditating for a few years on and off, usually stopping my meditation practice after 1-2 weeks of doing it and then taking a break for a few months before re-starting it again. Main reason this was happening was because of a phenomenon called "The Dark night of the Soul", which describes a phase that many meditators experience, whereby the meditation causes rise to lots of unpleasant emotions and feelings. Personally, I have been anxious since childhood and many years ago I had severe OCD (still have it lurking in my current adult years but in different, less severe forms I'd say). I am also socially anxious around women to the degree where I have constant 7/10 anxiety in any place I go to that has females around that could potentially be looking at me (even while working out at the gym). Point is, I believe that whenever I started introducing meditation into my daily routine it sort of caused all these feelings of intense anxiety to surface and amplified them to an unbearable degree - causing me to eventually abandon the practice altogether because I couldn't handle it. Just to clarify, the reason I say all this is not because of the fact that these negative emotions were existing AS I WAS DOING the meditation itself in real-time (as that's natural to happen), but because all this anxiety and stress were present throughout most of my day as well, even when I wasn't meditating. Sometimes it has gotten so bad that even my sleep was affected. It's a shame because Zen, and Eastern philosophy in general, has taught me the importance of things like psychological flexibility, acceptance and "letting go". It taught me how we self-sabotage by being reactive to our internal mental events, by always being judgmental and trying to change them. It has shifted my entire worldview and was the reason I got into spirituality and consciousness work and eventually...finding Actualized.org! I really want to continue treading on this path, I want to explore the possibilities but I feel this problem I have with my meditation practice is limiting me as it affects my daily life. What should I do? Is there anything I can do to make this "phase" go by any smoother? Any tips to handle the overwhelming anxiety happening throughout the day caused by the meditation? Should I just accept that it's a natural part of the whole process? Should I stop the meditation altogether and first try treating my mental disorders by going to a therapist? Is it recommended for people who are mentally ill to meditate or is it a bad idea? I am very confused and wanted you guys' opinions, hopefully Leo you can see this thread and give me your input too. Thanks in advance everyone!

Because you have OCD alone is actually a gift, not a curse - when it comes to spirituality.   If you can just sit in actuality for enough time, you will awaken - and this will be much less time then one who isn't genetically gifted.  It could be a matter of weeks or months, as opposed to decades.   To calm your anxiety, I would look into some SSRIs and or benzos, that will open your mind and free you from anxiety, so that you can sit in actuality for long periods of time.   


 

Wisdom.  Truth.  Love.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why not find a qualified therapist who can also provide guidance with your meditation practice?

I've noticed that deepening phases are often accompanied by anxiety, which gradually settles as the mind adjusts to more docile states. It's like scuba diving for the soul. You need to take your time, rather than helter-skeltering into the murky depths.

Patience, diligence, and unconditional love toward the self will eventually get you here.


Just because God loves you doesn't mean it is going to shape the cosmos to suit you. God loves you so much that it will shape you to suit the cosmos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Moksha I really resonated with that, as my therapist provides guidance on that :x


“Within the garden of your mind, every thought is a seed that can bloom into a galaxy of wonders." -ChatGPT 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Yimpa Enjoy the deep dive ?


Just because God loves you doesn't mean it is going to shape the cosmos to suit you. God loves you so much that it will shape you to suit the cosmos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Moksha said:

Why not find a qualified therapist who can also provide guidance with your meditation practice?

I've noticed that deepening phases are often accompanied by anxiety, which gradually settles as the mind adjusts to more docile states. It's like scuba diving for the soul. You need to take your time, rather than helter-skeltering into the murky depths.

Patience, diligence, and unconditional love toward the self will eventually get you here.

There are no awakened therapists, so they won't be able to aid in anyone's mediation practice.   


 

Wisdom.  Truth.  Love.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Spiritedness Hey dude,

I'm still in the process of sorting my stuff out in this area as well. By still think I can contribute something of potential value.

In terms of therapy, what comes to mind is you could try out ifs therapy and/or somatic experiencing therapy .

With regards to meditation, perhaps shinzen Young's work could be quite good for you. Two aspects of his work strike me as particularly of value to you

Firstly, his see-hear-feel technique. I think that could help you deal with the emotions and thoughts that come up and have an improved relationship with these sensory experiences. Secondly, his ' focus on rest' technique. I think that has the potential to induce tranquility in you. 

Here is a doc:

https://www.shinzen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SeeHearFeelIntroduction_ver1.8.pdf

There is also a course called 'unified mindfulness' which explains it. The course is probably more accessible too

He also has YouTube videos about these two things as well

Edited by Ulax
Spelling

Be-Do-Have

Made it out the inner hood

There is no failure, only feedback

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Spiritedness also I'd really strongly recommend giving PSTEC click tracks a real go. I'd start off with the basic package.

It's a essentially uses, to my understanding, a mixture of NLP and hypnosis. And I've heard it's very useful for a lot of folks with regards to essentially stopping certain emotions from occurring ever again.

You can get access to it online. I can't remember if the basic packages for your knot it may cause some money though. I don't think too much money though


Be-Do-Have

Made it out the inner hood

There is no failure, only feedback

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Inliytened1 said:

There are no awakened therapists, so they won't be able to aid in anyone's mediation practice.   

It's rare, but even awakening therapists can provide space for your own awakening. The purest listen in silence, and ask an occasional probing question, which encourages you to realize. They are your companion and friend on the journey into the absolute. Eventually you see that they are you.

Reminds me of when my son was little and we played Oblivion together. He was scared of going into the crypts, and always asked me to sit there next to him when he first entered the gate to face the skeletons. Now he's mature enough to battle on his own, but I'm still there with him.


Just because God loves you doesn't mean it is going to shape the cosmos to suit you. God loves you so much that it will shape you to suit the cosmos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Inliytened1 said:

There are no awakened therapists, so they won't be able to aid in anyone's mediation practice.   

* cries in ifs therapy*


Be-Do-Have

Made it out the inner hood

There is no failure, only feedback

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Moksha said:

It's rare, but even awakening therapists can provide space for your own awakening. The purest listen in silence, and ask an occasional probing question, which encourages you to realize. They are your companion and friend on the journey into the absolute. Eventually you see that they are you.

:x

I’ve seen dozens of therapists in my lifetime. Never give up!


“Within the garden of your mind, every thought is a seed that can bloom into a galaxy of wonders." -ChatGPT 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Hojo said:

You are talking about shadow work not the dark night of the soul. Dark night is like years long or decades long suppression of the soul. This is just shadow work. The ego needs to think in order to exist so it will bring up thoughts to get you to stop meditating. After you quite the base noise down it will have to expose itself in the form of unreleived traumas. You just gotta think about it and cry about it. Or take psychs as with psyches this stuff is forced upon you.

@Hojo What exactly do you mean by "think about it and cry about it"? What should I do exactly?

16 hours ago, Yimpa said:

Trust me, 10+ years have pissed away since I wasn’t getting the proper help. I wish for you to get it as soon as possible so you don’t follow in my footsteps. 

@Yimpa When you say 10+ years have pissed away do you want to say that basically your OCD hindered your 'spiritual progress', if you will, and that when you finally got it sorted out things got way better for you?

15 hours ago, Moksha said:

Why not find a qualified therapist who can also provide guidance with your meditation practice?

I've noticed that deepening phases are often accompanied by anxiety, which gradually settles as the mind adjusts to more docile states. It's like scuba diving for the soul. You need to take your time, rather than helter-skeltering into the murky depths.

Patience, diligence, and unconditional love toward the self will eventually get you here.

@Moksha I feel like this is the most reasonable option. Both can be done at the same time. Having a therapist who will be treating me for the disorders I have and at the same time guiding me on meditation. Not a bad idea!

@Ulax Never heard of IFS therapy and Somatic Experiencing Therapy, will check them out, thanks! As far as those two Young's techniques you mentioned, do you use them in conjunction with the Shikantaza practice?

Edited by Spiritedness

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, Spiritedness said:

@Ulax Never heard of IFS therapy and Somatic Experiencing Therapy, will check them out, thanks! As far as those two Young's techniques you mentioned, do you use them in conjunction with the Shikantaza practice?

@Spiritedness I'm still relatively a newbie when it comes to shinzen Young's work and I'm still playing around with how to set up I practice overall. However my intention at the moment is to have a Letting Go style (non-directive) practice alongside these two shinzen practices. Shikantaza would fit in that category of letting go, for me at least. However, my mind struggles with Shikantaza at the moment. So I'm more pulled towards stuff like one giant mind comment if you're familiar with that.

 


Be-Do-Have

Made it out the inner hood

There is no failure, only feedback

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Spiritedness said:

Both can be done at the same time. Having a therapist who will be treating me for the disorders I have and at the same time guiding me on meditation.

Regardless of the reason for the disorder, self-realization helps to dissolve it. After enough suffering, eventually the mind surrenders. It sees its limitations, and lets the absolute in. Sincere trust turns into love, which integrates everything.

You don't have to master meditation to begin healing. Even 10 seconds of unconditional silence will plant the seed for miracles. Just be patient and let it grow. 


Just because God loves you doesn't mean it is going to shape the cosmos to suit you. God loves you so much that it will shape you to suit the cosmos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Spiritedness

45 minutes ago, Spiritedness said:

@Ulax Is it Vedic meditation or smth?

My understanding is it's very similar to vedic meditation


Be-Do-Have

Made it out the inner hood

There is no failure, only feedback

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Spiritedness said:

When you say 10+ years have pissed away do you want to say that basically your OCD hindered your 'spiritual progress', if you will

Everything that has happened, is happening, and will ever happen is all part of the journey that Reality dreams up. Nothing is truly wasted.

With that said, if you are experiencing debilitatingly illness (physical and/or mental), it’s wise to seek professional help to treat it. Suffering has a powerful purpose in this work, but getting entangled in it without proper guidance has sweeping consequences (as you already know). Instead of seeing mental health conditions as an obstacle towards discovering Truth, look at it as an opportunity to explore deeper about yourself. Also realize that spiritual practices alone won’t treat your mental health conditions.

2 hours ago, Spiritedness said:

and that when you finally got it sorted out things got way better for you?

Of course. I wouldn’t say that I have it all sorted out, but I’m in a much better place than I was compared to when I wasn’t getting the proper help. 

Edited by Yimpa

“Within the garden of your mind, every thought is a seed that can bloom into a galaxy of wonders." -ChatGPT 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The negative emotions and anxiety you're experimenting are withdrawal symptoms. Although your brain is rewiring thanks to meditational practise you have cravings of stimulation. It's the same when people quit antidepressant they get dizzy and feel bad, just things need time and patience. The unpleasant feelings will go away. Stay strong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now