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bipolar

Are there any others out there that have been diagnosed as bi-polar? I'd be interested in hearing what you're experience has been with the looking as it relates to bi-polar disorder.

Paul

prtjazz

Are there any others out there that have been diagnosed as bi-polar? I'd be interested in hearing what you're experience has been with the looking as it relates to bi=plar disorder.

paul

I would also be very interested in this. A close family relative of mine has had at least 4 severe manic episodes requiring hospitalization. I have wondered about introducing him to the act of looking but I have held back feeling concerned that the turbulent recovery period could precipitate another episode.

Paul Freedman

Suicide

I have no personal experience with bipolar disorder (I was never diagnosed anyway) nor with people who have been diagnosed with it, but my hunch/theory is that anyone who suffers from such a wildly changing personality experience, will suffer much less in recovery than someone whose fear-of-life-context based personality has grown in a stable fashion over a long period of time. I believe they will experience great relief from the knowledge that who they are is unchanging, and will see with greater ease and speed what they are not, since the experience of their interaction with life is not as governed by the idea of control that "normal" people who live in fear of life have. Also, if any suicidal thoughts arise occasionally, eg. in depression, this too will speed up recovery, since the idea of suicide implies the will to give up important aspects of identity. In recovery we can be acutely confronted with erroneous ideas about ourselves, and with the nasty fear-driven habits with which we harm ourselves, but with the knowledge that, once, you were willing to kill yourself because of these ideas and habits, makes it easier to drop them like red hot coal and be rid of them for once and for all.

Again, this is just a hunch/theory, although most of what I just wrote comes from personal experience with my own wild highs and lows in the past. In fact, a few months before rediscovering John and before my first intentional look at myself, I became convinced that killing myself was one of the very few viable options to end my misery. In retrospect it seems this has made my recovery a rather smooth and fast experience if I compare it to the feedback I read and hear on the JOL forum and podcasts.

I hope this is of any value to you, and not too besides the point.

Wouter

I was at one time diagnosed with bipolar (type 2) but I don't think the diagnosis was correct.

I have had episodes of depression and anxiety and I had been on medication, on and off, for a many years. I have not taken any meds for about five years.

The medical community believes that depression and bipolar disorders and so on--the common affective mood disorders--are caused by chemical imbalance in the brain. Perhaps this so. My subject experience is that people with depression are people who are not able to pretend. It seems to me that the fear of life and its consequences should logically cause depression or some sort of mood disorder in everyone. But some people are able to deflect the direct effects of the fear into such things as ambition and pretense and success and so on. But those of us who are not able to pretend it away experience the effects as depression.

So to me, depression and affective mood disorders are a logical consequence of living in the context of the fear.

Whether this makes the recovery easier or harder is impossible for me to say.

My recovery, if this is what it is, has been all over the place. After seeing that the only problem there is, is the delusion of fear, there was a period of delight and naturalness. Then I looked, and then I stopped the looking, and since then it's been a period of confusion. For a few weeks, I was obsessed with the idea of not-done. That's gone now. What I experience now seems to be periods of easy calm punctuated with periods of insomnia and low energy and no motivation and isolation and dread.

Whether this is another episode of depression or some facet of recovery or a combination--I cannot say.

Bi-Polar

I was diagnosed as Bi-polar about 10 years ago. On meds for about 5 years. I did a year long Yoga teacher training in 2005 and really immersed myself in that practice. My therapist told me that my symptoms seemed so much less that we agreed I could stop my meds as long as I kept up the Yoga & Meditation. I have been off meds for several years. I started the looking about 2 years ago. Over the last 6 months I've had a series of events shake me and about a month ago I fell into what I would call an existential dark hole. I began waking up in the middle of the night and crying for a couple of hours at a time. Mind filled with thoughts of death. I never really felt like I would try and kill myself but it occurred to me that this might be a viable option. Since it's been several years since I've felt like this I am wondering if this is bi-polar stuff flaring up or is this just a phase in the recovery? Maybe a combination of both? I'm doing fine now. I've made some adjustments in schedule and I'm resting more but that 3 or 4 week period was like a HELL. It was very rough going.

A lot of attention

I am 27 and was diagnosed (bipolar) at 18 while still in high school, after a massive breakdown. I use the word massive because the quality of the experience of my life changed drastically in a short period of time. Before this breakdown I would have been labeled as a typical student with a good future ahead of me, waiting to go to the college of my choice. I remember the onset of my illness as the manifestation of a seductive, dangerous, experience altering, and insidious event that lead me to believe many different ideas from moment to moment. I am sharing this story because I think there is value in how I have learned to pay attention to how I look in a way, from moment to moment. I have really found a place from which to continue the looking process and to learn to pay attention to that which is useful.

I will briefly summarize the break down. The week of my breakdown, during school I noticed that my grades were beginning to really pick up with ease, I was more alert, and people seemed to want to be around me more. I started to value my own thoughts more and more. A thought would occur and to me each thought was a fantastic revelation. I got my way in more situations. I started to read books everywhere I went, during school. This is all in stark contrast to the experience of my life before that point. Before that point I was afraid of nearly all people, and anything unfamiliar. My grades were always good but I worked like a dog to get them. Misery followed me and my thoughts were just a reflection of my insecurities. Everything I did took massive amounts of will power. I really didn't know what to attribute to this new found success in my life, in contrast to the misery I was familiar with. I thought about it over and over. Till one day in physics class the teacher mention Einstein and relativity. I thought Everything is relative to the observer. Then the next thought came quickly I am an observer. Then I saw the next thought as the truth and decided to really to take it to heart Everything is relative to me because I am an observer. After that moment euphoria enveloped me and I entered a blissful state that lasted some 4 days. I wasn't aware of the fact that I was in fact in what most people called a manic episode. I spent 4 days in jail after stealing a car and claiming that everything belonged to me because I was THE observer (AKA GOD). To make a long story short it isn't very much fun being psychotic in Jail for 4 days. When my parents posted bail I went straight to a psychiatric hospital, where I was medicated and eventually released back into high school. In the wake of the break, I would try to kill myself twice. One of the attempts to kill myself left me in a comma for about 24 hours. This self-induced trauma was most unpleasant and all together useless.

I have shared this story because it gives a context to what I am about to say. Even though I went through a break, I don't see the break as anything but a manifestation of a condition common to many people. That condition is the condition of living a reactive and fear based life. The break was a culmination or concentration of that fear. It is still just the fear of living life. Being introduced to the looking process doesn't magically erase the fear of living life, but rather begins the process of developing the ability to pay attention to useful experiences. Even after I began to look at myself I was hospitalized twice. I still smoke cigarettes, I am over weight, and I still take medication. However a world of attention has opened up to me, having an effect on the quality of my experience. I began spending 5-40 minutes alone on a regular basis just paying attention to my experience. As thoughts occur I simply notice that they are occurring. I don't even call it meditation because I had been practicing my version of meditating for a long time. I found that I was trying to escape into a state of meditation rather than pay attention to reality as is actually occurs to me. So I literally sit on my bed in any way I see fit and begin to notice all kinds of things. I notice that I have thoughts, and I let them exist for their short lifespan. I notice the things that happen in my body as thoughts occur, and I let those bodily experiences occur for their short lifespan. There begins to be a development of attention. I turn that attention on the me that is only me. This to me is looking. I am the being that directs the attention that is looking at myself. This being is not injured, hurt, scared, or fearful in any way. The being that actually is me doesn't have preferences. I am really here to pay attention and everything else that happens is related to me by this paying attention.

The ability to pay attention as I write this is from that place of being. It isn't important that I control what happens to me, because my experience tells me that control is limited to my attention. Even then I am a guide of my attention, I try not to get into the realm of control at all. I can only pay attention to a theme of usefulness and try to not give too much attention to uselessness. The time I spend alone every day (5-40 minutes for me) is essential in learning to pay attention to useful experiences or paying less attention to less useful experiences. My bipolar illness is a culmination of fear. I don't give much attention to that fear now.

When I have a thought that I identify as illness and fear based I label it for what it is and send it on its way. The illness is a temporary state that has nothing to do with the self I find when looking. The less attention I pay to the illness the less it shows up as a manifestation. Since I started paying attention to my life as an experience to foster usefulness, the quality has picked up significantly of that experience. I haven't solved any of my problems because who I actually am is just fine. My experience has improved because how I pay attention to life as it happens has taken on a different quality. For me the quality of my life grows as the quality of the attention I give life matures. Pay as little attention to the dark holes of life and you might find that the dark holes of life don't have much attention to subsist on. Much of the junk we go through in life only exists because people pay a lot of attention to the experiences surrounding this junk. For me there is still attention given to useless things in my life, so my experience is affected in this way. I am paying less attention uselessness in a useful way, meaning that the useless things' time is limited. The best way to shrink bad experiences is to give a lot of attention to the good ones. I very much enjoyed paying attention to my experience of writing this response. Thanks for the post.

Thank You

First of all.... Thank you for the remarkably honest and courageous post. While I have never been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I have close relatives who have. They have had full manic episodes requiring hospitalization. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to go through something like that. While I do believe that medication has a definite role to play, especially when someone is in the middle of a full blown episode, I also believe that the cause may not just be biochemically based. I work as a therapist in a psychiatry department in a hospital and one could argue that most psychiatric disorders are expressions of different and creative ways of keeping

Life at arms length. I am not suggesting that any of this is conscious. How could it be if the fear based context of life , itself , operates out of awareness .Aren't the behaviors associated with most anxiety disorders expressions of fear-based avoidance? Perhaps depression might be an expression of resignation (life will never deliver the goods, so why bother)... Perhaps psychosis...takes us even further away from life and suicide is the final escape from a life that will never live up to its promise. It is not that I believe it is all psychological, but there does seem to be a huge amount of overlap when we look at psychiatric diagnoses through the "fear of life" lens. Wouldn't it be amazing if the looking was made available to children, and it acted like an inoculation against fear based reactions, the extreme and the ordinary.

Paul

The context of fear

To Paul, and Jon, and anyone who is interested:

It has been my experience in my own life and in the work that I have done with people in psychological treatment that fear is always at the core of the disorder and suffering. This is why this revolutionary discovery of the result of "looking at yourself" is so important. When John talks about going sane, he is referring to the clarity and contact with life that becomes available when the fear departs. It has been said that one's perception of oneself and life is directly related to the way the world and oneself "occurs to them". That is we are in a dance with the occurring world, so our behaviors and the outcomes we experience are in direct connection to this occurring world, or said another way the way the world, the way that life shows up for us, and the way life shows up for us is a function of the context in which we perceive life. Without a context of fear, life appears as it is rather than as a "concern", a threatening reality that we must keep at arm's length and be careful so that we don't get hurt or misled.

I have found in working with people that when the looking has been done, even just once, that they can redirect attention away from fear based thoughts and reactions and notice that there is nothing occurring at the moment that is threatening. This provides a freedom to be and act in concert with life in a natural way, and eliminates the suffering and dysfunctional behaviors that produce negative consequences. After all "mental illness" manifests in patterns of thoughts, feelings, etc. and to directly apprehend that these are based in fear and past misperceptions can begin a process of redirecting attention so that the patterns are no longer given the energy needed to continue to re-occur, and over time lose intensity until they depart completely. I have seen this happen. It is consistent with what we know about brain science in terms of the neuro pathways in the brain changing out of not being re-played and new neuro pathways being created that are functional. The people who are sharing here about their experiences with the looking especially as it pertains to mental afflictions are heroes and pioneers and are leading the way to the realization of a new possibility for sanity.

I am grateful. and I am grateful to John and Carla for pointing the way.

Love.

Paul Freedman

First of all.... Thank you for the remarkably honest and courageous post. While I have never been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I have close relatives who have. They have had full manic episodes requiring hospitalization. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to go through something like that. While I do believe that medication has a definite role to play, especially when someone is in the middle of a full blown episode, I also believe that the cause may not just be biochemically based. I work as a therapist in a psychiatry department in a hospital and one could argue that most psychiatric disorders are expressions of different and creative ways of keeping

Life at arms length. I am not suggesting that any of this is conscious. How could it be if the fear based context of life , itself , operates out of awareness .Aren't the behaviors associated with most anxiety disorders expressions of fear-based avoidance? Perhaps depression might be an expression of resignation (life will never deliver the goods, so why bother)... Perhaps psychosis...takes us even further away from life and suicide is the final escape from a life that will never live up to its promise. It is not that I believe it is all psychological, but there does seem to be a huge amount of overlap when we look at psychiatric diagnoses through the "fear of life" lens. Wouldn't it be amazing if the looking was made available to children, and it acted like an inoculation against fear based reactions, the extreme and the ordinary.

Paul

The Chemical Nature of Things/div>

Paul Freedman

While I do believe that medication has a definite role to play, especially when someone is in the middle of a full blown episode, I also believe that the cause may not just be biochemically based.

Paul

I wrote the following to notice what happens to be when I look and then think of the chemical nature of my illness. I started to respond to the post but it turned into something else…

It’s really neat that you stated that that the cause may not just be biochemically based. From my experience there does seem to be a chemical side to my own illness. There might be chemicals that occur in different states of the illness. I don’t study the occurrence of such chemicals and therefor can’t say much about them. I have heard people say that there is a chemical for every emotion a person could have. Perhaps there is a balance between seeing what occurs as party physical (or chemical) and partly determined by something beyond the physical. I don’t want to get into the “chicken and the egg” discussion. So I will say that looking on a regular basis strengthens my ability to look. When it occurs to look, then I see. What I see is a product between context of the reality I notice and how I see myself in that. It may be the case that there are chemicals that correspond to every process. Even if reality is determined by chemical processes, I would still look. I will look if my life is bad, good or OK. I will look because when I look, I see that who I am is free of being ruled by the idea of a chemical. Noticing that chemicals may exist and how they work in our experience doesn’t come close to the self we see when we look.

My intuition tells me that we are not in conflict with chemicals or the idea of how they may interact in our lives. I am asking myself, who is it that is threatened by the idea of chemicals and bipolar illness? What is there to threaten? Then I look. These are just thoughts. Thoughts are products of the mind. The mind thinks and perceives of many things, but when I look, there is me who is independent of all thoughts. Then it all comes back to attention. If I give a lot of attention to the idea of the chemical nature of things, then the idea of chemicals and the brain will play a more prominent role in my experience. If I do not pay attention to the idea of chemicals then life will go on any ways, without a lot of attention on the chemical nature of things. What I pay attention to has some bearing on the way attend to my own experience as it happens, chemicals or not.

Thank You for posting this. I really learned a lot about how I pay attention to my illness in the context of how I view the role of chemicals in general. Try not to see what I have said as being for or against the chemical nature of things. I wanted to see what I would say about the topic and how I would relate it to looking. I gave it a try.

Another thanks

Jon,

Also wanted to throw my two cents of thanks into this thread-- your post is quite remarkable. I've read it three times and feel sure I will read it a few more times before the end of the day. There's a lot in there!

Thank you for your honesty and for being here--

Best,

Ansley

The intelligent brain

Another amazing and helpful thread.

Jon_K

I started to respond to the post but it turned into something else…

I really enjoyed watching what you wrote morph from a philosophical description of your experience of chemical imbalances, to the independence of who you are from all things mental or chemical. I've come to see lately that the understanding of all these biological and mental mechanisms are of great value, but also very much besides the point, because it's so easy to get lost in the beautiful songs and stories they produce, instead of being occupied with the focus of attention.

Paul Freedman

Wouldn't it be amazing if the looking was made available to children, and it acted like an inoculation against fear based reactions, the extreme and the ordinary.

Yes. Tenfold yes. And it will happen eventually. I even think this forum would be the perfect place to start. I think I'm going to pursue that idea in the near future, thank you for putting that thought in my head!

Dparrish

It is consistent with what we know about brain science in terms of the neuro pathways in the brain changing out of not being re-played and new neuro pathways being created that are functional.

I'm really grateful and glad you said that, I've been suspecting for a while that attention is like the needle of a record player, and that those neural pathways are grooves, and that the act of looking at yourself brings about the knowledge that it is possible to move that needle out of the grooves, and that it's actually able to make new ones, which are functional and natural. I knew there had to be scientific knowledge that confirmed this out there somewhere, but I hadn't come round to look for it. You saved me that trouble and confirmed my suspicions.

With gratitude,

Wouter

 

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