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Getting back on the cushion

LittleAlLittleAl France New

Hi everyone. I'm looking for some encouragement, advice and suggestions for dhamma talks or teachers. About 4 years ago I began studying the dhamma and meditating on a daily basis, and for a couple of years found it extremely beneficial and calming. A couple of years ago however, I started experiencing what I would later find out are "emotional flashbacks (EFs)" (a little like panic attacks) which were occurring in the context of undiagnosed C-PTSD (complex PTSD) due to repressed emotional and physical abuse by my mother while I was younger. These EFs occurred on the cushion more and more frequently, I'm guessing because for the first time in my life I'd given my mind space to open up. Unfortunately, they became so frequent, that I began to associate meditation with them, and they also started occurring in other situations too. It has been a full year now that I haven't sat on the cushion, and although I have been dealing with the trauma and working to identify triggers to the EFs, I still have real fear and a feeling of an almost physical force stopping me from sitting. It's got to the stage where I could really have used some meditation during lockdown, but was unable to make myself do it. I do try to remain mindful throughout the day, however, and this has been useful during an EF to defuse the situation.

On the cushion, I have tried "sitting" with and recognising the feelings, but the trouble is they are so terrifying and emotionally distressing that I usually end up just giving up, because the pain is too much. I have tried to be aware of my breath, body, sensations, sounds....I'm not sure where to go next. I need help relearning that sitting can be a place of refuge rather than distress.

If you know of any useful resources which specifically would help with getting back on the cushion, I would be grateful. I miss it, and miss the person I was when I sat regularly.

Thank you :)

コチシカ

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Well, it seems to me that the first thing to do would be to get treatment for the emotional flashbacks. A lot of PTSD cases can be treated successfully trough a therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). It’s quick and relatively painless, but it does involve running through the traumatic memories in therapy, so it’s not a walk in the park to actually do.

    After that getting back on the cushion might be a lot easier.

    コチシカ
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    You don't have to sit to meditate. TNH suggests many different things you can do to meditate that do not involve silence, stillness or 'doing nothing'. Sweeping can be meditative; washing up can be meditative.
    You enact the tasks and concentrate on the water running, the soap bubbling up, the plates under water.... without actually THINKING that the water is running, the soap is bubbling up and the plates are under water.... You merely observe, without commentary. Same with sweeping, vacuuming, making the bed, do, don't think of doing.

    But it's important to get professional help. The experience of abuse is long gone, but latent and emerging memories are derailing your life and taking control.
    Your Mind is yours; it doesn't belong to anyone else, so what goes on in there is for you to sort out. And if that means gaining professional help to support you in that task, then it's the right and most urgent priority that you do.

    コチシカlobsterAlexperson
  • コチシカコチシカ Berlin, Germany Explorer
    edited June 28

    Hello!

    First of all, welcome! I have been part of New Buddhist for less than 1 month and I have to say that there is a great and experienced community here :)

    Firstly, apart from the meditation, I hope you are also receiving / seeking assistance from a medical specialist / therapist just like Federica mentioned.

    But returning to the cushion. My recommendation? Practice and intellectual immersion. That is how I do it :)

    Sources:

    Youtube

    Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu - A Canadian monk that has quite an active channel with lots of videos, including links to his books and a weekly Questions & Answers live stream.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQJ6ESCWQotBwtJm0Ff_gyQ

    Ajahn Sona - Another Canadian monk, Abbot from Birken Monastery. He doesn't do live Q&A like Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu, but his material is pretty solid. Check him out too!
    https://www.youtube.com/user/AjahnSona

    The Channel of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia - Lots of dhamma talks!
    https://www.youtube.com/user/BuddhistSocietyWA

    Reading

    Theravada Readings
    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/index.html

    Berzin Archives (Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism
    https://studybuddhism.com

    Dhamma talks (mostly Theravada)
    http://www.dhammatalks.net

    Buddhasasana - English Section
    https://www.budsas.org/index.htm

    Linji Yixuan (Rinzai Gigen) Zen teachings
    http://sped2work.tripod.com/linchi.html

    Extra (optional non buddhist)

    Pierre Grimes (Classic Greek philosophy applied to our times)
    http://noeticsociety.org/pierre-grimes/

    Of course...there's loads more...and different sources. Hopefully the more you feed the Youtube algorithm, the sharper your search will be.

    I wish you a happy Sunday!

    :smile:

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Consider using a space hopper as a cushion for a short while. Any panicking. Start bouncing.

    Here to help o:)

    Welcome too ... 💗

    コチシカ
  • コチシカコチシカ Berlin, Germany Explorer

    @how said:
    The facing of your particular arising experiences of fear is not something to rely on strangers about on any internet site.

    Good luck in this journey and I hope you will return here again to teach us of what you are learning about it all.

    Wise words.

    May all beings be happy!

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @how said:
    The facing of your particular arising experiences of fear is not something to rely on strangers about on any internet site.
    They don't know you, or your history, just as you don't know theirs. They will not be able to see how you respond to their guidance or even be reliably there for you through that process.
    I would look for some personal "one on one" help from a professional who might also be open to including some meditation in that help.
    While everyone here on this meditation site would love to see you back on your cushion, meditation is just not for everyone, all of the time, especially as a stand alone solution to regular and unwitnessed overpowering (EF's).
    Good luck in this journey and I hope you will return here again to teach us of what you are learning about it all.

    Good points, well presented....

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The Void Veteran

    I'll start by echoing others in saying that professional help in dealing with your PTSD is the most important thing. Very strong emotions like these can be too difficult to deal with on your own during a meditation session.

    Maybe you could find some success with more active style meditations like using a mantra or metta meditation where you are reciting phrases, or guided meditations. Rather than open presence or observation style meditations. Also study and contemplation on the philosophy or ethics of the Buddhist path can help give direction and cognitive tools for your life even if meditation is overwhelming right now. Meditation is only one aspect of the 8 fold path.

    Good luck, I hope it goes well for you and you can find a path to healing.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I miss it, and miss the person I was when I sat regularly.

    So miss ...

    The question becomes where to now?
    Great suggestions from everyone some may hit home ...

    You may skip some ...
    https://buddhaweekly.com/the-psychology-of-buddhist-prostrations-the-humble-bow-a-meaningful-method-to-connect-with-buddha-nature/

    Om mani peme [JUMP] hum

    No point in fighting ... oh ... wait ...
    https://www.zenlightenment.net/zen-martial-arts/

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