Inner Barriers

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Distractions From The Mind Within  Meditator's Shields  Success Factors  Wrong Meditation Objects  Positive Inner Minds  Dealing With Unskillful Thoughts  Taming Emotions  Dealing With Pain  Depressive Thoughts From Impermanence Contemplation  Dealing With Depressive Thoughts  Don'ts  Do's  Winning Running Thoughts  Meal Plans  Sleepiness  Let Go: Desire - Theory  Let Go: Desire - Practice  Ego Vs No-Self  Dark Nights: Background  Dark Nights: Symptoms  Dark Nights: Winning Strategies  

Distractions From The Mind Within

# After classifying all thoughts and emotions, the ones that are negative or not useful are mostly the ones that run on auto pilot mode. They all happen automatically without your demands.

# Check with David Hawkins Map Of Consciousness level as a guide towards to positive inner mind -

# Negative mind will not persist and has its own fluctuation; only physical pain may persist for certain duration.

# When negative mind runs out of its fuel, a sense of relief happen, which is 4th Noble Truth. Nirvanna is just cessations of such negative minds and their effects.



Automatic impulsive desires, feelings and emotions

Automatic judgements and responses to situations

Automatic negative assumptions

Automatic thoughts that pop up randomly about various topics, people and situations

Brooding - engaged in or showing deep thought about something that makes one sad, angry, or worried.

Complaining is a form of anger

Craving - 3 objects of craving: the craving for existence; the craving for non-existence and the craving for sense pleasures (kama). 



Doubt (in yourself, the teacher, the practice, or the Buddha)


Dull unfocused state of the mind

Ego - the nature of ego is resistance, anger, confusions, upset

Floating in automatic thoughts and daydreaming that can waste minutes to hours without being aware


Hatred or aversion

How To Overcome The Five Hindrances -

Irresistible urges and addictions accumulated throughout lifetime — This will lead to falling back to square one, making you go back to your day 1.


Minor irritation - impacts of uncomfortable sensations

Minor irritation - impacts of uncomfortable sensations

Mourning for loss of time or time passing quickly is a form of regret

Random self talks

Reliving trauma - because trauma is hibernated and during meditation, they emerge again.



Restlessness, Worry, Anxiety

Sensual desires towards external objects through sense organs

Sloth (laziness/sleepy)

Sudden outburst of negative emotions based on the past habits

Tempestuous emotionally charged memories of the past - good or bad — This will lead to falling back to procrastination and daydreaming.

Tempestuous longings — This will lead to falling back to procrastination and daydreaming.

There's no intellectualization at all involved in all negative minds.


Torpor (dullness) - lack of interest or excitement - lack of brightness, vividness, or sheen

You may feel like things slowing down.

You may feel like you're wobby.

Fear arises due to "If I have no self, I should just die" -> Correct assumption: You have no self in the first place. There's nothing you've lost. Self was an illusion.

Fear arises due to "I have no control over anything. What can I do?"

The mind playing games and tricks

Because there is this feedback link between calming and concentrating, people had had a tendency to look upon calm/concentration as the be-all and end-all.

Confusions about emotionlessness towards life's downs - loss of loved ones, life tragedies

Lack of belief / confidence / Faith

Pervasive feeling of hopelessness/depression derived from nothing/impermanence (fix: do loving kindness meditation)

Some believed that the goal of the path was to get greater and greater concentration and go deeper and deeper into pleasant, absorbed states.

Some focus on a particular sensation on and on daily for years because that sensation is intense for them every time they meditate. The answer is to focus on broader aspects of phenomenas.

Some focus on breath and keep focusing on breath as it is calming and soothing rather than adding 3 marks of existence contemplation.

Some keeps on learning same principals, involve in discussing or wishful acting repeatedly which become substitutes for their practice.

The second common trap is getting caught in a good place: the path leads to something good, but growth slows after that.

Thinking about and debating about the paths rather than systematically practicing a path.

Tranquility that fails to mature into insight is a classic example of getting caught in a good place. Overemphasis on the calming aspect without enough of the clarifying aspect, leading to lopsided practice.

Fear arises when feeling of mind shrinking develops as it looks inward. Mind is there but harder to perceive.

Fear arises when feeling of less and less about you develops.

Bored mind attempt to do something, create something as the ego wants to control the mind back.

Going into dreamy state which is in fact torpor which is low energy, low mindfulness state. Time to get up and do brisk walking. The real state of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception is silent yet energetic.

Calls to an action that arises from craving embedded in it. This craving is the push you feel the irresistible need to take action even if they are innocent.

When you feel movement as suffering, this feeling could be in form of subtle aversion. Meditation on that aversion.

As sound arises, craving arises.

As sight arises, craving arises.

As thought arises, craving arises.

Whatever arises has the craving embedded in it and the "you" that arises is right there in that sensation.

You don't exist anywhere else at that moment other than hearing the sound. Why don't you arise at that moment? Because you want to hear it.

Hallucinations of various weird, unrealistic stuff that appear vividly in dreams, in reality settings whenever you do meditation.


Unhappiness to do meditation

Pleasing to have lots of sub-ordinates and fames (from sharing meditation insights)

Sensual desires

Sexual desires

Fear into unknowns, phenomena


Being ungrateful for and being dis-gratitude

Self-pride; knowing that he has superiorities and much more knowledge, intelligence than others.

Being mean to others, critizing others (for not doing meditation)

Pleasing to have lots of money and good fortunes (during meditation period)

Meditator's Shields

Adopt non-reactity - the ability feel but not react. Treat sensation as sensation not as ideas, preferences, stories, memories.


Be courageous to discover the root. When you deeply realize how everything works, things will get tearing part.

Be happy even if no progress happens as long as you have verified your method is consistent.

Contemplation on Anattā - no self, non self, no agency, fully automatic

Deconstruct fear / negative emotions by breaking it into mental image, mental talk, and body emotion.

Don’t resist, but acknowledge, allow, and accept it as a hidden part of yourself or look at them as bad children of someone else.

Evenness of mind

Grateful for everything.

Ignore and just focus on meditation object (breathing/metta...etc) until a hindrance becomes too strong and impeding your focus and routines. If a hindrance become too strong, make them your meditation object.

Knowing .. knowing.... sensing....sensing.. hearing.. hearing..feeling...feeling

Knowing knowing that peace is happening

Knowing knowing when lights are being seen

Knowing knowing when restlessness is happening

Knowing knowing when thoughts are occurring.

Learn from people who have overcome difficult paths

Let go using 6R techniques | Recognize > Release > Relax > Re-Smile > Return > Repeat

Lose the battle and come back later. It's okay to get defeated.

Make impermanence contemplation of earlier mind of depressive mood with later mind

Make your meditation object as the centre of Gravity

Mindfulness means awareness of precision.

Mindfulness means clarity of sensory contexts from moment to moment

Non-judgementally observe and aware of everything. It is what it is.

Notice, don’t think.

Observe and accept. Don't give in. Acceptance is not surrendering.

Observe....observe... Relax... No judgement... No judgement... Let it be. Equanimity


Positive thinking

Take feedback from people around you so that non-self personality learn and adjust behaviors accordingly to become healthier more fulfilling no-self person.

When in doubt, check your breathing.

Wisdom springs from meditation; without meditation wisdom wanes. Having known these two paths of progress and decline, let a man so conduct himself that his wisdom may increase.

You have five senses, use them. Open all your senses and watch the present moment like a movie.

Lose attachments and let go.

Equanimity is the base of Nothingness. Its purpose is to balance the mind.

Let all analysing go. It's the job of psychotherapists not the job of meditator. Because analyzing will never end because there are endless amount of mind stuff coming in and out.

Develop a habit of relaxing continuously when too much intensities are happening. When you relax, mind movements are less and less. It is the craving that makes the movement.

Relaxing removes craving.

Investigate not analyze.

Monitor not analyze

Self-check: What is stopping me from going deeper?

Enforce the right assumption that sensual pleasures are not going to bring lasting happiness.

Use Loving Kindness and gratitude to prevent ill-will and hatred

Eat less to prevent sloth and torpor

Know the difference between wise wishes and foolish desires.

Wanting to come on a meditation retreat, wanting to see the truth, wanting to gain insight – these would be classified as wise wishes

Wanting to come on a meditation retreat, wanting to see the truth, wanting to gain insight – these would be classified as wise wishes

Wanting dessert after every meal or wanting to experience some blissful state so you can hang out there would be considered foolish desires.

If the hindrance you are experiencing is aversion, then the thing to do is to stop the practice that you were doing and start doing mettā meditation.

Change the postures

Meditate in open fresh air

Success Factors

Consistency every SECOND as any gap will create a tricky idea, concept, identity

Consistency in terms of contemplation

Consistency in terms of daily Practice

Wrong Meditation Objects

Don't make object of desires as Meditation object.

Wrong objects can't give you equanimity as the cause negative inner minds like craving in your mind.

Positive Inner Minds

Anything good requires deliberation. Any accomplishments in life need deliberate planning, thinking, and efforts.

Compassion (karunā) - wishing that others be free from suffering

Deliberate Dedicated Focus on the work to be done

Deliberate Focused attention during meditation

Deliberate Positive assumption/thinking

Loving kindness (mettā) - wishing for the happiness and welfare of others


Dealing With Unskillful Thoughts

Once the mind is clear, it is possible to return to compassion and wisdom.

Option 1: Replace unskillful thought with positive thoughts

Option 2: Give it brief attention to its impermanence and know that it will fall away (Mindfulness).

Option 3: Reflect on the harm it can cause and its impermanence (mindfulness)

Option 4: If it continues to persist, use concentration to become free of greed, hatred, and delusion by focusing on skillful thoughts such as equanimity and joy.

Skillful thought has four parts: preventing negative states of mind, overcoming negative states of mind, cultivating positive states of mind, and maintaining positive states of mind.

Unskillful thoughts are — imbued with desire, aversion, or delusion, attachment, ill-will and cruelty. Another way to put it: unwholesome thoughts arise from greed, hatred and delusion.

Taming Emotions

Are they expanding and contracting, or solid and fixed? Do they change in quality or stay the same?

Emotions arise due to specific causes and conditions, and pass away when their causes disappear. Do your best to eliminate outsides causes and conditions as possible.

Every emotion has its own characteristic sensations and related bodily movements.

Is the emotion getting more or less intense, or staying fairly constant?

Scan your own body to discover these for yourself. What are the specific bodily sensations that go with this particular emotion?

Staying objective is the most effective way. Use labelling like pain is coming, anxiety is arising, sadness is coming..

When confronting emotions, always start by investigating the physical sensations that accompany them.

Where are they located? Are they pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? Are they changing intensity?

Dealing With Pain

Ignore unpleasant sensations as long as possible while focusing on breath

Knowing... knowing.. knowing sensation rather than assuming as pain

Make them your meditation object if they persist, and move mindfully only when absolutely necessary.

Zoom in to the pain. Zoom out to the whole body -

Depressive Thoughts From Impermanence Contemplation

Also called Dark Night of the Soul , Falling into pit of the void

Emptiness of purposes/lifes

Everything is meaningless

Fear of life

Fear that there's nobody, no physical people, no physical reality outsides

For a person who doesn't do meditation, those symptoms are classified as depression.

Losing interests in life

Losing motivation

No appreciation of everything

No sense of goals in life

Dealing With Depressive Thoughts

As Vipassana itself is insight, the mental note about insight becomes the main mental body. When there's a overwhelming depressive noting, the trick is to kill that main mental body who is taking in charge of doing vipassana insights

If everything is empty except fear, you will see where the problem is.

If everything is empty, by its definition, fear/ lack of motivation, losing interests must also be empty.

Observe fear as body sensation or another thought which comes and goes

Observe fear that understands life meaningless/the void.


Don't attach to feeling of doubt, expectation, boredom and resistance to meditation.

Don't cling to, don't interpret any experience, feelings, emotions that are triggered automatically during meditation.

Don't control your bad behaviors or thougths during meditation periods despite you being aware of them. They will persist. Let them do the play. You just watch.

Don't desire benefits, goals, milestones, results in meditation.

Don't desire progression.

Don't desire, analyze anything.

Don't fake any mentality, and mindset. It does not matter if they come to you or not.

Don't hang on to appearing thoughts and experiences of the past that were totally forgotten. Be aware and cut them.

Don't hang on to strange or vivid dreams. Just say "Thank you" and convey your Loving-Kindess to whoever trigger extremely stranges dreams.

Don't hang on to the delights. Be aware of it and cut them.

Don't hang on to the thoughts that want to do something during meditation.

Don't have doubts into current meditation practice whether it'll be useful or giving benefits.

Don't keep learning spiritual stuff because it takes your entire life time. Practical work is the most importance.

Don't move. Commit to a minimum minutes or hour daily.

Don't stop meditation after experiencing mind calming effects.

Don't think and dwell on outcomes, results, feelings, imagination driven from meditation.Expectations can make you anxious about your meditation time spent as we all want something from what we do. Stop expecting and focus only on the process.

Don't trap into and admire lights that appear during your meditation.

If an approach doesn't work, be flexible and tune it.

If certain inner wisdom or ideas have developed in you, always double check whether they're directly applicable to your current reality. Be realistic as much as possible so that you don't get dissolved in such thought process.

The real inner wisdom is never illusions and is always practical, logical and provable.

Accept every reality. Face it. Be courageous as much as possible. Don't use meditation as hide-outs from reality. Connect your practice to your reality. Don't avoid them.

Always look inward within you, not outward.

As long as we treat meditation as fun or the task we are obliged to do, we may not reach deeper. One has to be serious.

Be aware of your thoughts and emotions recursively at the deepest level. Try to be observer of observer of observer until no more observer was seemed.

Be extra careful before making any assumptions or realizations whose impacts are not seen at the point of making. Just observe and do not take them to your heart.

Comit meditating daily with your favorite method. 16-hours of unconscious living will always override meditation efforts you made in all previous days.

Cut of unhappiness and meaningless with Annata

Discard any new thoughts and beliefs that may accientally come to your mind. Else, they will keep you thinking endlessly. Meta-meta awareness is critical.

Do a walking meditation to get the blood circulation going in the legs.

Do more meditation if you're in low mood level -

Do nothing with your mind, feeling, thoughts, emotions, that's all it takes.

Even if you have 3 minutes of free time, do meditation. Over time, you are already in meditation whenever you are doing non-brain-demanding activites - walking, eating..etc.

Even if you've been meditating for months, years, or decades, your mind will keep asking you to stop it by creating various deceptive thoughts. See

Every time a new thought is created and destroyed, be heedful of it. Thoughts are split into 2 areas: Those triggered from external stimuli and internal auto-occuring thoughts.

If you are starting meditaiton and have free time, it is beneficial to sit several short times within a day with hourly reminder (handy mobile app: blip blip)

If you can't concentrate with one method despites multiple attempts, try another technique.

If you do different meditation technique every day, your mind can be confused and calmness may not be achieved. If you want to try a different one, do it after your favorite one.

If you happen to remember your childhood memories vividly, be aware and cut them immediately. They will be attaching you deeper than random mind wandering.

If you're struggling, seek help. Don't sit still.

It is better to do meditation immediately after washing your face (and drinking a coffee if you wish). Within 30 minutes of waking up, our brain default mode network associated with negative emotions is not active yet.

It's okay to try many different techniques if your life is not under stress. If under stress, focus and stick to the one you find it convenient.

Just learn to waste some time meditating every day. Nothing needs to happen.

Live life as minimally as possible.  Many unnecessary stuff will make you busy and make your mind go to those stuff during meditation.

Mantras have their beauty, there is no question about it, but there is nothing bigger than silence.

Maximize your meditation efforts by living consciously in other times you're not dedicatedly meditating.

Myths about meditation -

Online messaging is like conversation. It makes mind to wander. Minimize communication during meditation routines.

Research and be aware not be trapped in concentration meditation dangers:

Research and be aware not be trapped in side effects of meditation:

Sleep quality and meal also affect the meditation quality. They can make or break your meditation efforts

Stop being in your own illusions and hallucinated thoughts about yourself, things, and people around you.

Stop looking at people with discriminated thoughts you've advanced in knowing your mind. Negative minds such as ego and pride will always stay deep within you bypassing your multiple layers of awareness.

To escape from the mind's trap, multiple levels of meta awareness is critical.

Uninterrupted meditation session is better than the one that gets spoiled due to distractions of your inner thoughts or other matters. Maintain at least a minimal of certain minutes whatever it may.

Use 6R to dissolve difficult feelings, desires, and emotions that linger. 6R technique -

Use meditation cushion if you have back pain.

Various benefits from meditation exist as long as you practise meditation. If you stopped it, they'd be gone in some time. Don't be upset. We still have to brush our teeth and wash our face. Just add meditation as part of our daily life. It's paid off.

When there are multiple thoughts running, focus on only one most visible. When there are no mood thoughts (bad, good, neutral), focus on breathing in and out and associated mind of knowing these 2 activities.

When you first started meditation, your mind will keep asking you: “What will I get? What is the takeaway from this meditation?” All the activities happening in the mind are all about “What can I get?”.

Winning Running Thoughts

Body movement technique:'s breathing with body movement -

Count breathing: Consider the beginning of out-breath as the start of the cycle. Count 1 after finishing an in-out cycle. Count 1 to 3/5/8.

Detachment technique: When each thought appears, remind yourself: Mind is not me. Emotion is not me. Thought is not me. Lust is not me. Desire is not me. Wanting is not me. Just mental images. Events already finished.

Don't Care technique: Treat each thought as soap bubble. Just let them go. Be light-hearted. If you're just hating those thoughts, you're adding fuels to keep them firing.

Gratitude technique: When each thought appears, say in mind "Thanks for thinking, Thanks for another thought to happen".

Labelling: With just being aware of your thoughts, you'll be dissolved into them without knowing. You gotta label them and stop them from spreading further.

Loving Kindness technique: When each thought appears about somebody/people, say in mind "May she/he be well and peaceful".

Paying further attention gives fuel to random thoughts to continue. Don't follow. Don't even think why you think such thought happening.

Police technique in the entire session: Catch every thought and stop it immediately. Watch ONLY thoughts. Not breath or body, ONLY thoughts.

Rapid breathing with body movement - by Dan - -

Rapid short breathing - the longer the gap between each breath, the more opportunity for random thoughts to occur. If tired, pause a few moments (with holding breath), do the rapid breathing again.

Relax and Let-Go technique - Not holding on to, not pushing away - Relax your body and mind - Each time new thought appears, mentally say "it's okay, relax." | based on psycho notion that any activity is due to tension/tightness in brain/emotion

Sense awareness technique: while in a relaxed but wakefull state, listen, watch and feel sensory based mind objects as they arise and fade away -

Some thoughts are too subtle, too vague and don't have anything special

The mind wanders whenever there is no focused task. The motto is Try Harder.

The ordinary mind scatters thoughts as a nature of expansion.

There's a dedicated place, point that thoughts are taking place. Typical places are round ears, round throat, or behind your head.

Thoughts are either verbal or image.

Meal Plans

Avoid animal products, especially lamb and pork as they may affect your concentration.

Avoid eating out as outsides food may contain chemicals and addictives which may affect your concentration.

Eat meals with simple natural ingredients.

Eat more fruits and vegetables as they help fresh your mind.

Physiology and mind functions are at their best when stomach is light.

We are what we eat. It's essential to take care of meal plans because meditation is a mind-body exercise.


Do a walking meditation. Put your attentions on steps.

Do some exercises such as pushup, plank.

Don't close your eyes. Open them slightly and gaze small area in front of you while meditating.

Don't sit on sofa.

Don’t lie down when you meditate especially when you first wake up or are about to sleep. You may fall back to sleep easily. Sleeping is good but your meditation practice will never grow.

Don’t meditate after eating a big meal. Alternatively, eat less before meditation.

If you meditate at home, you can eliminate sleepiness with whichever ways work for you.

Rapid breathing (aka Fire breath) - Sample:

Rapid breathing with body movement - by Dan - -

Speaking out load of noting and labeling

Standup Meditation

Strengthen spine

Take cold shower or have water spray your face.'s Breathing with more active body movements such as breadth of fire, belly breathing

Let Go: Desire - Theory

Buddha said, if you don’t have the pleasure that comes from a well-concentrated mind, no matter how much you think about the drawbacks of sensuality, or the drawbacks of greed, aversion, and delusion, you can’t let them go.

Cut down the forest (lust), but not the tree.

Desire is to be abandoned not because it is morally evil but because it is a root of suffering.

Easy to do are things that are bad and harmful to oneself. But exceedingly difficult to do are things that are good and beneficial.

Just as perception influences thought, so thought can influence perception.

Our usual perceptions are tinged with "unwise consideration" (ayoniso manasikara).

Realizing that this body is as fragile as a clay pot, and fortifying this mind like a well-fortified city, fight out Mara with the sword of wisdom. Then, guarding the conquest, remain unattached.

Some defilements might slough off simply through watching, but not all of them will.

The Buddha does not offer as a solution the method of repression — the attempt to drive desire away with a mind full of fear and loathing.

The Buddha says, exert a fabrication against them. In other words, you have to do something intentional in order to get past them.

The craving of one given to heedless living grows like a creeper. Like the monkey seeking fruits in the forest, he leaps from life to life (tasting the fruit of his kamma).

There is no fire like lust; there is no grip like hatred; there is no net like delusion; there is no river like craving.

This approach does not resolve the problem but only pushes it below the surface, where it continues to thrive. The tool the Buddha holds out to free the mind from desire is understanding.

To understand desire in such a way that we can loosen its hold, we need to see that desire is invariably bound up with dukkha. The whole phenomenon of desire, with its cycle of wanting and gratification, hangs on our way of seeing things.

We have an instinct of internal urges that something must be done when we feel something unpleasant.

We remain in bondage to desire because we see it as our means to happiness. If we can look at desire from a different angle, its force will be abated, resulting in the move towards renunciation.

What is needed to alter perception is something called "wise consideration" (yoniso manasikara).

When you have the pleasure of a well-concentrated mind, it’s a lot easier to reducing desires.

You get so attached to that pleasure that you really don’t want to start taking apart your sense of self, the way you create a sense of self around your desires.

You need another form of pleasure to replace the pleasure that comes with sensuality.

Let Go: Desire - Practice

Accept craving/liking sensual objects and move on quickly to the present moment.

Attentive only to disappearances as soon after seeing sensual objects.

Below are combination of inward and outward techniques. Use the one most effective every time. The changes do not come suddenly, but when there is persistent practice, there is no doubt that they will come.

Comtemplation on Benefit: Contemplate the dangers of desire and the benefits of renunciation, gradually we steer our mind away from the domination of desire.

Contemplation on Temporary Relief: When compulsion/urges come in, think about the pleasure you experienced in the past and immediately ealized it was only temporary relief. Subsequently shift your attentions towards Nibbana.

Dead body comtemplation -

Dead body contemplation - - - replace them with your body and close family members'.

Disintegration approach: Imagine. Disintegrate sensual object and put each of them on the floor.

Distraction technique - Do a wholesome activity to divert the sensual attention.

Eat less or do fasting. Low energy doesn't seem to promote frequent desire to grow.

Find out the root trigger, trace the source of these feelings and then work with it - reduce/eliminate it.

First no judgement. Forgive yourself. Relax.

Gently shift your attention from internal urges to the present moment.

Gratitude technique: Mentally says thanks to desires (This way, you're recogizing them not resisting) and move on the present moment.

Guard the sense doors. Don't chase any tempting sights/sounds/thoughts, etc. By controlling this, you can guard yourself against some "hits".

Labelling techniques - See, hear, feel even before an object creates desire/craving/aversion on your mind

Let go using 6R technique -

Meditate on 32 body parts -

Meditate on unpleasant tensions from controlling the desire. Let the desire to persist, but to not give into the pressure of the desire. If we give in the desire, this is just a temporary relief only.

Old age contemplation through looking at transformed pictures of others -

Use will power to follow eight precepts -

Use will power to stop entertaining sense objects as soon as they arrive if they take over your mind completely over long hours.

Ego Vs No-Self

Ego makes you think that internal urges and compulsive desires are your belongings and you must fulfill them.

Egolessness is not meant for allowing others to walk all over you.

Egolessness is not meant for creating self-hatred and no self-esteem.

Egolessness is not meant for demotivation of worthwhile things good for yourself, and others.

Egolessness is not meant for shut downing your mind and body.

Even if we do spiritual stuff, we may feel that we're better than anyone who don't do.

Even trying to be humble can be a subtle way for ego to show superiority over others.

However, egolessness become problem when people mix it with daily living life and meditation practice.

The key is to direct ego into healthier sense of self that can liberate you in both normal living life and spiritual practice.

Thinking can be driven by ego because whatever you think is all about your experience of life around you.

Whatever we do, feel, think, react, ego may always be with us.

Dark Nights: Background

Stages of Dark Night: Fear -> Disgust -> Desire for Deliverance

Happens after contemplation of Arising and Passing away. It seems to be designed that way as a part of progression because we're deeply saddened to experience in heart that all we love in life are impermanent.

Those who obsess over staying tightly one-pointed will suffer more than those who learn to stay with what is going on regardless of whether it feels like “good meditation”

Those who idealize “good meditation” as being very focused, stable, and pleasant will need to revise their expectations, as mature concentration is much more broad and inclusive, and it takes mature concentration to do well in these stages.

We may get overwhelmed by emotional difficulties. It's an early Dark Night phenomenon that happens mostly in Fear, and it tends to feel like a shamanic drum beat.

The emotional challenge is that our most disturbing and difficult psychological issues tend to come bubbling up to the surface with an intensity that we may never have known before.

The perceptual challenge is that we also begin to experience directly the fundamental suffering of duality, a suffering that has always been with us but which we have never recognized with this level of intensity.

We face a profound and fundamental crisis of identity as our insight into the three characteristics begins to demolish part of the basic illusion of there being a separate or permanent “me”.

This is a kind of suffering that has nothing to do with the circumstances of our life and everything to do with a basic misunderstanding of all of it.

When we are deeply into the Dark Night, we could be living in what others might consider paradise and not be able to appreciate this at all, and so this solution is guaranteed to fail.

How many emails have I received from miserable Dark Nighting meditators who are now recovering from their retreat on a beach in Thailand and still having a wretched time in that gorgeous, peaceful place?

There are those who simply don't believe that such a wondrous and holy thing as insight practices could produce such profound difficulties.

Some will not realize they are not ready for these practices and will do them anyway.

They started meditation to gain relief (or just paid enough attention to their ordinary daily life to cross the A&P), hit the Dark Night, and are now like a pregnant woman who doesn't know what pregnancy is or what caused it.

The problem comes when we have things like debt, children, spouses, sick or aging parents, and the like, and sorting out the ethics of these conflicts is complex.

Regardless, the Dark Night does teach important lessons, and learning them is essential for moving to what comes next.

These lessons do not require specific lifestyle choices for mastery, though the Dark Night does tend to call like a siren to people to make radical, renunciate lifestyle choices.

Instead, it is a question of clear perception of—you guessed it—the three characteristics of the sensations that occur during those stages regardless of where you find yourself and how complex and overcommitted your life is.

As the stage of the Arising and Passing Away ends, meditators may be left feeling raw and incompetent even though they are continuing to make valuable progress into deeper and deeper levels of profound insight.

This feeling that something is very wrong when practice is getting better and better can cause all sorts of problems during the Dark Night, especially to those not familiar with the standard maps.

Dissolution feels like a very natural place to stop practicing, the only problem being that the later stages (Fear, and the rest) follow it soon enough.

Even if we stop, though less intense practice leads to a less intense, perhaps more diluted, if often prolonged dissolution.

However, those who wish to keep doing formal practice may find Dissolution frustrating.

Practice is likely to be more difficult, and we may experience pain from sitting that was basically completely absent during the previous stage.

This can be extremely frustrating for those who don't know that this is normal, and the desire to recover a fading past can greatly interfere with being present.

In the face of these difficulties, I highly recommend noting practice.

It may seem like backsliding to those of us who abandoned noting during the glory of the A&P when our minds were way too fast to formally note all we could perceive, but the spiritual path is not a linear one.

In the face of Dissolution and the stages that follow, noting practice can be very useful and powerful.

Additional notes to add at this point include things such as, “vague”, “dissolving”, “vanishing”, or Shinzen Young's famous “gone” for when things disappear again and again in Dissolution.

In short, if we can keep practicing (familiar theme yet?) and adjust to having to work in some more subtle way to perceive things clearly, we will begin to make further progress.

This time the effort will have to be with a lighter and broader touch.

Further, there are remarkable opportunities to notice that there can be a high degree of clarity in Dissolution concerning very vague phenomena and mental wandering.

Dissolution can be very frustrating, causing people to suddenly lose interest in meditation.

If they give up in the stages of the Dark Night (or any time after the A&P), the qualities of the Dark Night will almost certainly continue to haunt them in their daily life, sapping their energy and motivation, and perhaps even causing feelings of unease

Thus, the wise meditator is very, very highly encouraged to try to maintain practice despite potential difficulties, to avoid getting stuck in these stages.

A hallmark of Dissolution is that it is suddenly hard to avoid getting lost in thought and fantasy when meditating.

We may feel somehow dissociated or disconnected from our life, as if we were ghosts.

There's the stage of Misery characterized by intense feelings of sadness, grief, and loss.

In Misery, we are having our whole concept of self and the world as being permanent, able to satisfy, and even being “me” or “mine” torn up from the roots, and eroded by the now undeniable truth of the three characteristics.

The feelings that Misery can bring up are hard to accept for many, and our resistance to this process causes us further misery.

Becoming lost in and overwhelmed by the content of dark nights of sensations and being unable to see their true nature is a somewhat common cause of failure to progress and thrive.

In that the mind state of Disgust we may tend to judge things and people harshly.

We see nothing to cling to, no self to be found, and we begin to wish the whole edgy, disillusioning reality we had placed our trust in would just end,

At the stage of Desire for Deliverance, we are fed up with basically everything, often including dharma practice,

We are likely to wander far and wide or do something stupid or irreversible until we come to realize the limits of ordinary life solutions such as suicide, sedation with substances, divorce, or whatever.

Desire for deliverance is the stage at which people are most likely to quit their relationships, jobs, or school and go on a long retreat or spiritual quest. Fascination with celibacy as somehow being “a higher spiritual path” can arise.

Due to the sorts of frustrations and failures that are common in this territory, this stage is sometimes called the “rolling up the mat stage”, when many who joined monasteries in the stage of the Arising and Passing Away now give up and disrobe.

People on retreats tend to need much reassurance but often leave right then even with good support, guidance, and encouragement.

There can be the distinct feeling that there is no way to go forward, and it is useless to go back, which is exactly the lesson we should learn.

This stage can mimic or perhaps manifest as some degree of clinical depression.

Beware of making radical life changes that cannot be easily undone, such as a divorce or firing off angry emails to your boss, based upon the temporary feelings that may arise during this stage.

Because you are a meditator, you are practicing something good, and so you shouldn't feel this way, or at least so the traditions might seem to tell us.

Fear is frightening, Misery is miserable, and seemingly psychotic episodes are confusing and destabilizing.

In the face of such miserable experiences, we may swing to the opposite extreme, clinging desperately to grandiose or narcissistic images of ourselves.

Bad reactions can easily perpetuate themselves, and this can become a blatantly destructive mental habit if people persist in wallowing in these dark emotions and their deep and unresolved issues for too long.

It can be like cognitive restructuring from hell.

In skillful jhana, we skillfully use positive qualities to attract and stabilize attention, which then reinforces those positive qualities in a positive feedback loop.

In dark jhana, we unskillfully reinforce horrible mind states by obsessing about horrible mind states from within horrible mind states while being freaked out by horrible mind states.

This stage is a profound opportunity to see clearly the pain of the dualistic aspect of our attachments, aversions, desires, hopes, fears, and ideals, as our awareness of all this has been amplified to an unprecedented level.

Should you get your ass kicked at this stage, you continue making quick progress anyway, even when you drop off the imbalanced striving power and let the insight machine you have built coast somewhat on its own momentum.

If meditators stop practicing entirely at this stage, they can get stuck and haunted for the rest of their lives until they complete this first progress of insight.

Not moving forward with practice at this stage will deprive meditators of its primary benefits, such as the increased perceptual abilities that allowed them to get this much insight in the first place.

Thus, those who quit in these stages reduce their chances of ever getting beyond this stage, and the whole range of consequences, both physical and emotional, can remain long after the meditation skills have faded.

People believe that the spiritual life is all about bliss and wonderful emotion.

People believe in unrealistic and absurd models of spirituality that do not allow for the full range of the emotional and mental life, or chancing upon this stage outside the context of a well-developed insight tradition.

The dark irony is that we may wreck our relationships, careers, and finances, as well as emotional and physical health, trying to get away from our own high level of insight into the true nature of reality.

Since most of us are generally not used to facing fundamental identity crises, which is the basic issue in Re-observation, we are not familiar with the misery of fundamental suffering.

Being unfamiliar with that misery, we are likely to conclude that it is produced by the specifics of our ordinary world and personal circumstances.

Not continuing to do insight practices in this stage is like going into surgery, getting an incision, getting the surgery, and then having the surgeon leave you with a large, open incision.

When we fixate on very painful sensations, we can easily miss the fact that most of our reality is likely made up of sensations that are no big deal, and thus we miss many great opportunities for easy insights.

It absolutely does not require that Dark Night has to be a major suffering event.

Try to navigate the Dark Night with panache, dignity, self-respect, decency, gentleness, poise not as a proven boasting mess.

Dark Nights cease shortly after we finally give up and rest in what is happening without trying to alter it or stabilize it.

Dark Nights cease shortly after we can accept our actual humanity as well as be clear about the three characteristics of naturally flowing mental and physical phenomenas.

Dark Nights: Symptoms

You begin to recognize, and feel, what true suffering is. Everywhere you look around, all you see and feel is life is suffering; movement is suffering; nothing persists.

You feel overwhelmingly stuck, or “lost.”

You begin to desire to impress people less and less.

You have frightening, irrational thoughts, sometimes even along the lines of “I’m dying.”

Your view on the world is suffering and people are in constant struggle for their life.

Your sleeping habits are irregular, you’re hungrier than usual or not hungry at all, you’re sometimes so overwhelmed by emotion that you feel like you can’t function.

You’re becoming conscious of how your mind has been operating and how you feel every moment.

You’re having random and intense memories and dreams of past partners, forgotten childhood experiences, and so on.

You’re radically rethinking your idea of material “success.” Your life motivation begins to less. Things that motivate you no longer motivates you at all or not like at the intensity of the past.

Your selfishnesses begin to less and less.

Even if you reduce meditation practice, your sense and feeling of suffering do not go away. They persist but under reduced intensity.

For a few days, you stop doing meditation or you try to live like ordinary person who never meditate but your feeling of suffering persists.

You take dopamine - serotonin assisted herbs but your feeling of suffering persists.

You do more of exercises for overall mood improvement but your feeling of suffering persists.

You do hobby or activities that make you happy but you feel that these happiness just melt away after a few minutes. They no longer make you feel elated for days like before.

You’re confused because you feel like you “should” be happy right now.

You feel simply being void of everything is a true peace whilest such idea for an ordinary person is a disaster.

You will develop strong sense of aversion and resistance to formal meditation due to emotional dark night traumas.

You feel like everything is plunging on towards vanishing.

Everything suddenly seem to you the inevitable movement of empty compassion.

You may feel all emotions are the natural result of confused empty phenomena trying to be happy and reduce suffering, however unskillfully.

You do medical checkup and found no symptoms because as you learn on the web about these symptoms, these symptoms are tagged as clinical mental illnesses.

Dark Nights: Winning Strategies

Accept the full range of our lives here as they are and recognize the awakeness of every type of experience.

Acceptance, honesty, and clear, precise awareness of the true nature of the actual sensations that make up all of this are the key in all the Dark Night stages

Rather than keeping holding to shitty feelings together with endlessly repeated frustration, full acceptance of this nature is contemplated and treated as it is and let it go.

Keep sending Loving Kindness to your feelings. Thank this feeling for giving you an opportunity to dissolve your self, view the world as struggle, impermanence

Refuse to let your negativity bleed out onto everyone and everything around you. “Do no harm,” and “Keep your shit together.

Keep your life functioning. Failure to do so can be disastrous, as your profound lack of perspective, fixation on negativity, and the suffering from your fundamental identity crisis can easily get projected onto things and people that simply did not cause

Make time for retreats or solitude and don't get stuck in the Dark Night.

Do your very best to get enough insight into the three characteristics to understand these stages well enough so that they move on to what comes next.

Work on finishing up this cycle of insight and then work on your stuff from a place of insight, clarity, and physical and emotional balance, rather than trying to do so in the reactive and disorienting stages of the Dark Night.

Avoid unskillful coping mechanisms, such as escaping into alcohol and drugs or just a needless sullen blue funk.

Face your life proudly with poise and panache.

Be brave, like a spiritual warrior, like a ninja.

If we ride it, flow with it, welcome it, dive down into it, play with it, revel in it, dance with it, and dissolve with it, letting it tear down the illusion of permanence and control as it begins to do so

Be gentle, loving, and forgiving of yourself.

Notice it is made of sensations: feel them honestly, as well as all the reactions to those sensations.

Resume the practice soon after reducing or ceasing of emotions.

Surrender to the resistance of dying ego who's willing to take back control, who's willing to stay happy with wordily pleasures and motivation. Let it die gracefully.

Strict vipassana and ultra-rapid noting work well for those with a high tolerance for pain

Others with mighty concentration skills might go for more abstract objects, such as sacred geometry.

Intellectual reflection coupled with some sensate investigation, and repeated questions such as, “Where am I contracted?” or, “What am I clinging to?”, asked well and often enough, will actually yield good results.

Experimentation and a willingness to regroup and retry if you fail with one approach are key, as failure and frustration are common experiences the first few times we try to crack the nut of the Dark Night.

Keep doing with very simple practice: six sense doors, three characteristics, which is the best practice for all insight stages.

Take your best guess and, if one method doesn't work, try again or use another technique.

Remember: all sensations are worthy of investigation!

Acceptance of exactly this, right here and right now, is required, even if it seems that this mind and this body are completely unacceptable and unworthy objects of investigation.

Continue to acknowledge and accept the content but also to see the true nature of the sensations that make up these natural phenomena.

Internally be willing to be emotionally honest, and keep investigating. This is an acquired taste and getting comfortable doing this is not easy for most.

Note physical sensations of restlessness and irritation with precision and bravery.

Pay attention to balancing effort and gentle acceptance.

Stay present-oriented. Walks in nature or places with open, expansive views can help, as can exercise.

Be clear, precise and accept all this despite the pain and anguish, both physical and mental, that it can bring.

Get to Equanimity,a true meditative greatness.

Use physical sensations as the objects of inquiry.

Pay attention to what is right in front of you, but keep your attention open.

Reality questioning: Does reality seem totally horrible? Notice how much of it is actually excruciatingly painful. If it is not that painful, why do you think it's horrible? Are you in a safe place? No gunfire nearby? Have enough to eat?

Never dwell on any emotions. Make note of it and then move on with the present moments of physical activities - what you're doing now? If nothing, focus on breaths - arising and falling. If walking, focus on touching of food steps.

Stop looking at the environment, the world, the people around you through your feelings and emotional interpretations. As soon as you're aware, cut.