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This takes too long to work

The title says it all. The result that is supposed to come from looking simply takes too long to have any real value to me. I honestly don't remember how long I've been at this. Maybe 2, maybe 3 years, maybe less. I don't know. I'm just so anxious all the time, and it never stops. Meanwhile I keep flitting about between various methods of getting "free" of all this chronic anxiety. I've been doing the looking, quite steadily, though, with determination. But at best I feel like I'm treading water, maintaining a very uncomfortable form of common insanity, not getting better, but at least not degrading into a truly crazy, mental-institution-worthy form of mental illness. So if there is any value to this, it's at least that I am not getting worse. But I honestly can't say I'm truly doing ANY better. At all. Seriously, what is wrong with me?

Nothing

Dear Franco: I say that nothing is wrong with you. I suggest that you may be relating to the "looking" as a vehicle to change your experience. I view the looking as an act that once done opens up a realm of possibility in which the content of your experience shows up differently, without an continuing context of the fear of life, yet still with the residual material playing out. After the looking I have found that it works to pay close attention to the arising feelings and thoughts etc. that are triggered and move attention and energy away from these energetic movements to simple current experiences like the breath or something simple in the environment. Over time the reactive states that are the suffering lose the energy to arise and depart. I work with a young woman who suffers from compulsive eating and purging. She reported that she was consumed by the thoughts and feelings that resulted in her self destructive actions. I suggested that she start to carry a tennis ball in her hand with the the letters PT written on it to keep reminding her to pay attention to these thoughts and feelings and to move her attention to simple things around her or to her breath. This provide her with a tool to stay aware of her attention and use it rather than have it use her.

I hope this is useful to you.

Love.

David

My experience and some encouragement

Hi, franco14

I suffered intermittent anxiety and panic attacks for nearly thirty years. I too tried many things with little to no relief and a deeply abiding fear (and shame) that I was crazy, borderline psychotic, weak, damaged-goods, mental...you name it, I'd tortured myself with it more times than I can could begin to count now.

The good news is--and I offer this with the most gentle of ironic respect--it all seems wincingly humorous to me now.

I started "getting over" the worst of it a few years before I came across John Sherman. I had purchased an expensive self-help program from a late-night infomercial offering help with anxiety and depression. It included numerous taped interviews with people who described exactly the suffering and torment I'd experienced far too often in my own life. But they went on to describe further their individual states of recovery, some to the point of laughing at themselves in retrospect. Several techniques and some simple theory were part of the program and I found them helpful and insightful...

But what I now attribute to be the turning point in my long career of suffering that awful shit was an observation made by the program's teacher. So profoundly true was it for me that it simply stopped me in my tracks and opened what eventually proved to a whole new road to emotional health for me. Her observation was this (in my words years later): "Virtually everyone who suffers severe anxiety has something or someone they run to for safety, that makes them feel at least temporarily free from threat.." (in my case I new this to be true).."What they don't realize," she said, "is that it is they themselves who ascribe the power of safety to that which makes them feel safe. It is they themselves who are their own safety net."

I didn't have JS's language back then but for me this was an almost instantaneous and profound moment of touching/feeling/seeing myself...in that instant of hearing her point, I KNEW the truth of it...that I was in fact the source of my own safety and well-being, that it was not only true but could not be otherwise.

Did it all go away right then and there. No. But the road to recovery certainly began right then and there...

And when I found John and his work a couple of years later it deeply resonated with, confirmed, and articulated so much more what had happened for me beginning with that insight. (which I really see as simply another articulation of John's instruction to "look at ourselves".)

On a practical note, you mention that John's instruction takes too long to work... I recall that one of the most powerful characteristics of my anxiety and panics was my desperate impatience for immediate (or even measurable relief). For the longest time I would instantly grade, rate, and dismiss any and every single thing I'd try for relief. Since everything failed to provide instant relief, I concluded (again and again) that nothing worked.

One of that teacher's instructions was to simply accept the anxiety when felt coming on, accept it, even cultivate an embracing of it...(this probably sounds as insane to you as it did to me the first time I heard it)...

but this so resonates with John's description of phenomena rising and falling with in us (within the "me")...and the cultivation of mindfulness, and looking again and again at "me"..

I hope this helps, franco14, if only as encouragement. you can and you will find your way as your way is that you in which all this other stuff rises and falls...and you ARE always there.

With love,

John

Hi franco 14.

I know this very well from my own experience. Just recently I have noticed the difference in felling bad and the underlying fear that says that feeling bad is wrong, and not a confirming sign. For me, felling bad still go on as a loop. To be honest I feel terrible at least once a week, and it can last for days. It comes and goes. But as I sad, just recently I have noticed that the fear and most of all, the resistant of feeling bad is almost as bad as feeling bad. I feel bad so something must be wrong!

Can you recognize something in my experience? If you not can see improvement in how you feel, can you see some improvement in how you relate to it?

I dont think that there is something wrong with you, not more wrong then any other of us!

All the best

Niklas

Too long?

I too suffered from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks most of my life, along with depression. This is now gone, for the most part. I have been looking for over a year and a half. There are fits and starts, but the looking is deepening. It is spontaneous and natural and longer in duration. It feels more integrated into my awareness, which of course is me. I never thought the fear would go away. It did. I also have been able to make better, healthier choices resulting in better emotional stability. Upward spiral?

True story. Keep looking. The fact you did it this long would seem to indicate you know it's not fruitless.

Feeling bad

Niklas

Hi franco 14.

I know this very well from my own experience. Just recently I have noticed the difference in felling bad and the underlying fear that says that feeling bad is wrong, and not a confirming sign. For me, felling bad still go on as a loop. To be honest I feel terrible at least once a week, and it can last for days. It comes and goes. But as I sad, just recently I have noticed that the fear and most of all, the resistant of feeling bad is almost as bad as feeling bad. I feel bad so something must be wrong!

Can you recognize something in my experience? If you not can see improvement in how you feel, can you see some improvement in how you relate to it?

I dont think that there is something wrong with you, not more wrong then any other of us!

All the best

Niklas

Hi Niklas, I, too, know that experience of feeling bad and the underlying fear that says it is wrong, and have begun in the direction you indicate, of being willing to have it be as it is, moreso. Thank you for affirming this for me. Best regards, Marlowe

Something that occurs to me is this - the effect of the looking is not to magically remove all fear from life. I think the effect is to remove the fear that stops us facing life. This fear is probably quite a bit more subtle than our everyday anxieties, almost unnoticed for most of the time. For me what I see happening is that I'm suddenly willing to face up to things that I wasn't willing to face up to previously. Previously life itself was just too scary and assumed to be hostile, I was holed up in my bunker waiting for it to change. With a change to that fundamental fear of life itself, I now have that incremental bit of bravery that allows me to see life as it is. That doesn't make general life issues less scary, in fact in the first instance they seem more scary because I'm truly facing them for the first time. What's changed is not my contextual fear of certain things in life, it's the fear of simply living life itself. Now that I've turned that small corner and decided to live life just as it is, the result is that I'm actually in a place of high intensity and really finding myself overwhelmed and scared. But to get to that place I had to get over that more basic fear which is that life itself needed to change in order for me to be OK. So it doesn't feel as if all fears have been lifted, but in fact at least one of them has. I'm now no longer scared of the idea that life just as I see it might be the only life I get. I don't think I HAVE to change it to suit my special needs. I am now finally open to the possibility, a terrifying one, that I will have to life in this life according to the conditions that have been laid out for me. That's scary as hell, but only by having the courage to face my contextual life fears can I get past them. That initial courage is nothing more than overcoming the most fundamental fear, the most fundamental idea that there simply was no hope unless something dramatically changed. I think that's the fear of life that John suggests has now been eradicated. Not quite what I had hoped for, but a change none the less.

I wonder, similarly to as suggested by Niklas, that if you can see just that slightly different perspective that you'll see the truth in what has changed in you from looking at yourself. Fears are still there, but your attitude to some of them might not be what it once was. Getting past those fears will then just take time as your previously unhelpful defenses need to be unravelled. It's certainly difficult to deal with that period of time being a matter of years, not much less as we would like, but then even facing that possibility up front and accepting it is another step on the way.

Thank you Marlowe for sharing that. It is now even more obvious that it is so.

This is a really good example that the fear attached to feeling bad is getting weaker and we is getting stronger.

All the best to you,

Niklas

Well said.

John

What is too long?

Hi folks, been avidly following Jon since '06. Came from a Zen background. Found him to be the cleanest, clearest expressor of what I FELT to be.."so". Never posted...always figured it is so simple...I either get it or won't. Listen/watch all Johns' stuff, periodically read here.

Problem:been an long time opioid user (doctors approved-22+ years after getting run over by a car.)Fully subscribe to...my BELIEF that without this one look, humanity is doomed. And MY life likewise. I know all about not doing this to obtain-I'm WAY over-literate spiritually speaking. But....since "nothing matters unless/until you see you"...I've neglected reality. Gonna lose all of it. Medications a crutch.Initially viewed my increasing struggles with life as a sign that I was on the right track. Now view it as an excuse-partially. Major depression. Unwilling to go to a detox (too many hospitalizations)...feelings of immense failure....gonna lose all possessions and job (likely).Had the harebrained notion that mebbe forcing myself to the ledge would finally get me to see and realize it. Now.....sorry, just want to step off the ledge. Literally. I think back to Johns' early stuff like "At the End of Your Rope"...and that's what I'm thinking

BUT...I keep trying. So...how long is too long? I guess for me it'll be when I'm "dead" physically.

The point of this post? I dunno....but since so few of my friends and associates have any idea of what I talk about-they have too much fear and can only offer solutions from that delusion...not that I'm not acting from it....I just see that a "solution" MUST be from a different perch.

And...my point is, I guess, that even if only intellectually understood. this is the only thing to do that makes any sense. And perhaps someone here has been to that darkest...or "who cares" location...place in THEIR life ...and can offer...something. Magic is what I seem to have been chasing, and now can't break the spell.

Hope this isn't too depressing...one final thought-John, I hear in your new stuff just what I heard in your old. Perhaps more cleanly expressed, but you've never lead me astray. In fact, a December 22. 2007 talk was amongst the most compelling I've ever heard anywhere. Played it to great effect to other sufferers.....you should check it out again! It was a tremendous help for some folks who at that time were in a state similar to mine now.(Alas-it was on my old dead computer, now lost to time)

Folks-keep at it. Deserves world wide attention. Anyone has a suggestion, I'm all ears.

Smiles to all

Jim

OP is back. Thanks everyone.

I'm still feeling awful. Truly terrible. I'm not even having a good day here or there. I'm not having any moments where I feel truly relaxed or rested or able to think that everything's going to be ok. I used to have at least 5 minutes once a month where I almost felt settled and not terrified. But I haven't experienced that in probably 8 or 9 months!

Tonight, I'm wondering how all this relates to specific phobias and whether there is any value in trying to overcome a specific, known phobia.

I don't mean to get off topic here, but this relates to how long it takes the recovery process to play out: I find that I am twisted up inside because of religion and sex. I used to be super Christian and I used to be Mr. Sexual Purity. I clung to an identity of being "pure" (sexless outside of marriage) and viewed myself as a role model because I was so good at resisting beautiful women (and no, I'm not secretly gay). My beliefs have changed, realizing it was all nonsense, but I'm in so much pain because I learned to hate my sex drive and learned to suppress it for so long, and no matter how hard I try (and no matter how hard I try to let go of trying), I cannot make peace with my sexuality. It is an ENORMOUS source of pain, shame, guilt, and fear, to even think of myself having sex and actually enjoying it. I don't want people to see me as a sexual person, especially the people I love. I'm not a virgin any more but I've never been able to enjoy sex because of religion. I am filled with a lot of anger at the morons who teach such ignorant, damaging dogma, and angry that I wasted the best years of my youth avoiding sex and not having this basic human need met.

I mention all of this because I'm wondering if the recovery process can be sped up by facing this specific fear. Every time I get the urge to go out and have sex (as if it's just that easy), I crunch up inside with fear and self-loathing. Problem is, the fear is too intense to face. People keep telling me to just "feel the feelings" and "let it up" and "stop trying" and "face the fear" and "just let go" but I can't and it's eating me alive! Meanwhile I'm not feeling any noticeable benefit from inward looking upon this issue (which feels to me like my "core" issue). I feel better about other things (which were always much more trivial to me), but my core problem (as I perceive it) doesn't have even the slightest dent in it, after all this time, and I can't cope. Is there anything I can do other than "Just keep looking"??

Feeling bad too long

Thank you all for this thread.

These have been my concerns, too. I'm grateful for Niklas and others for pointing out the distinction between feeling bad and feeling bad about feeling bad. The latter has changed. It's less substantial now. Feeling bad still feels bad but IS ACTUALLY NOT bad, as in dangerous or something evil. The belief that this feeling tells how things are is weaker. Perhaps the feelings themselves will appear less often, eventually.

I've been plagued with depression, not so much with anxiety, but the suffering is intense nevertheless. And as was pointed out below, the circumstances given, however undesirable, might even start to feel like a thrilling point of departure to start building your life and learning to live it. Not least because it's really the first time you start with what is there rather than fantasy, standing on the real ground and feeling the challenge of life. I only wish I had the confidence in my strength, skills and abilities to deal with it.

Seppo

Hi, Franco.

I would like to reiterate DParrish's comments. It might be useful to consider that this practice involves looking at the experience rather than looking for the purpose of changing the experience.

I can relate to your comments. I find myself often caught in ruminations about how bad I feel, judgments about how bad I am as a person, and various other dead-end cycles of thought in this messy tangle of emotions and stories that I call consciousness.

What I have found with the looking practice is that all those thoughts and feelings only point to each other and not to the actual experience, whatever that may be in a given moment. I've found that "feel what you feel, regardless of thoughts about it" approach will gently point my attention to the experience and the thoughts become less virulent and less demanding of my attention.

John has talked about this quite a few times. To paraphrase, it feels like the thoughts are pointing to something important - an explanation, a solution, etc. - but they are not. The simple act of looking points away from thoughts and toward the actual experience.

Whatever it feels like at the moment is what it feels like. Your thoughts will almost certainly produce explanations and possible solutions, along with thoughts about blame, dissatisfaction, "something is wrong," and similar. But they cannot point your attention to the feel of that, the feel of your existence in this moment.

My suggestion: rather than looking for a change in your experience, practice simply feeling what you feel, and point your attention to that and that alone.

For me, I have found that there is often a sort of "core" of what it feels like to be me, and that core feeling is typically focused throughout my spine. I've found that looking is simple and automatic if I start with what it feels like in my lower spine and radiate my attention outward from there, allowing whatever is felt and experienced in the process, and relaxing whatever I find to be tense. Sometimes this process brings out a deeper tension or discomfort, but that, too, is allowed and relaxed into the looking process.

So it may be helpful to start with whatever area of your body feels most heavy, tense, or otherwise uncomfortable and radiate your focus of attention from there and allowing yourself to relax into whatever you find without regard for the thoughts that will surely arise throughout the process of looking.

To be quite honest, I felt, and sometimes still do feel, like I am so damaged or ill that there is no hope for me. But those thoughts lose power by the minute as I practice looking. They are merely afterthoughts entangled around the thing I have spent my life NOT looking at, which is simply what it feels like to be me. You will find that the relevance of these thoughts will fade even as they persist in arising. It takes as long as it takes.

Good luck. smily

This takes too long

It does not matter that this takes too long for you. You may read this for a second. You heard what you, needed to hear. Look at you once. John says with just one look,you will see you. He suggests that your may notice life becoming functional. Functional life mimics what it would become if you were you. So you will take as long as you want here and now.

This takes too long to work

Dear Franco,

Yes this takes too long to work--until it doesn't. You, after just one look, may find you, not so much in your expressed fields of dizzying experience; rather you, may find the entire field of experience as your babies, you. You, may even notice there is no importance in the logic of fear. Maybe, maybe not. But how can you not fail to be you...in the midst of this conversation, after just one look. Franco, when you see you, you will see this work took the perfect amount of time.

This takes too long to work

It really does not matter how long this takes. John says after just one look you cannot fail to see you. He goes on to say you, will be home safe secure. In the language of another brother 'there are innumerable rooms in my father's house'. You, independent of the expression of your understanding of your 'room', you, after just one look ARE home. You reach a point after looking with no recommendation except--just look at you. Thanks be to you!

This takes too long to work

This takes too long to work

Be thankful this takes too long to work. I am continually drawn back to this thread. It seems to include all questions. Firstly, the "this" which John calls me, now is being the "taking" or life unfolding. And the "too long" seems to me to refer to the alsoness of me as the constant unfolding of the "work" or life itself. John refers to the noticing of beam of attention as functional and functioning after the looking(actually just one look). Now, whenever, you feel drawn to account for your beam of attention, a simple yes, no, or excuse me may suffice. Then agonizing responses to life may start to lose their steam in the midst of circumstances. Finally, can I just make a sandwich for lunch without the drama? Apparently, yes.

This takes too long to wor

This takes too long to wor

I am continually drawn to this thread. What a wonderful thought.

This takes too long to wor

This takes too long to wor

This takes too long to work. Does it still? That this takes to long to work is an expression of me. Do you see? John has suggested to even hear of me adequately is precipitous. So as crazy thoughts continue to arise breathe easily, they are just your thoughts.

Hi Jim!

I can really feel your pain in your posting. And I know it very well my self from my own process.

How are you today?

Niklas

Hello Franco.

How are things going, how are you? Is it still the same or have you noticed some change in your process?

Thank you for your currage and honesty in sharing your struggle.

All the best,

Niklas

I've just finished reading this thread as this has been a topic on my mind recently. I came across John's work in the autumn of '06. It made immediate sense to me and I was (and still am) convinced that I saw what he was pointing at. I saw myself. Back then, John used to emphasize looking at yourself as often as you could. I was a Buddhist monk then, and had plenty of time on my hands. I literally spent hours every day looking at myself over the period of a year. This resulted in all kinds of mind-blowing experiences. They eventually faded away. I've since left the monastery and returned to a conventional lifestyle. Although I am still convinced that I have followed John's instructions with the looking, the truth is that I still have times where I experience fear, anxiety and self-consciousness. Admittedly I do not suffer like I used to, but I can't say that I've realized the results that I believe John and some other members of this community have. At times I still feel the fear of life, I still feel a sense of alienation, alone in a hostile world. Again, this is not the prevailing background sense that it once was, but it still comes up. I don't really spend anymore time "looking". I spent so much time over the years doing it, and am so sure now that there is nothing else to look at, that I saw what there is to see, that it seems pointless. Besides, John now says that one look is enough, so the results of that one act will (or already has) manifest in time.

So basically I've been at this for 7 years, put enormous effort into it, am convinced that I did it correctly, have seen some benefits, but still experience the fear of life.

Anyone else experience anything like this? I'm especially interested in the "old timers", those who have been at this for several years. If you had asked me during my first year or two of this work, I would have enthusiastically said that the fear of life had been snuffed out. This sometimes makes me wonder about others who claim to be free from the fear of life. Time will tell. By the way, I'm in no way being cynical about all this. I've always had a strong intuition that this can work and that it has worked for John and probably others too. But when you've been at this as long as I have, and put so much into it, and then hear about others who seemed to wrap it all up in a few months, you've got to wonder what's going on.

Thanks, Ryan

The fear of life is not an experience Ryan, it is the context in which all experience is formed.

Take a look at this blog posting. Maybe it will help you understand a little better what to expect.

https://www.justonelook.org/natural/2018/11/podcast-episode-30-great-expectations

Please let me know if it helps.

John

suddhano

I've just finished reading this thread as this has been a topic on my mind recently. I came across John's work in the autumn of '06. It made immediate sense to me and I was (and still am) convinced that I saw what he was pointing at. I saw myself. Back then, John used to emphasize looking at yourself as often as you could. I was a Buddhist monk then, and had plenty of time on my hands. I literally spent hours every day looking at myself over the period of a year. This resulted in all kinds of mind-blowing experiences. They eventually faded away. I've since left the monastery and returned to a conventional lifestyle. Although I am still convinced that I have followed John's instructions with the looking, the truth is that I still have times where I experience fear, anxiety and self-consciousness. Admittedly I do not suffer like I used to, but I can't say that I've realized the results that I believe John and some other members of this community have. At times I still feel the fear of life, I still feel a sense of alienation, alone in a hostile world. Again, this is not the prevailing background sense that it once was, but it still comes up. I don't really spend anymore time "looking". I spent so much time over the years doing it, and am so sure now that there is nothing else to look at, that I saw what there is to see, that it seems pointless. Besides, John now says that one look is enough, so the results of that one act will (or already has) manifest in time.

So basically I've been at this for 7 years, put enormous effort into it, am convinced that I did it correctly, have seen some benefits, but still experience the fear of life.

Anyone else experience anything like this? I'm especially interested in the "old timers", those who have been at this for several years. If you had asked me during my first year or two of this work, I would have enthusiastically said that the fear of life had been snuffed out. This sometimes makes me wonder about others who claim to be free from the fear of life. Time will tell. By the way, I'm in no way being cynical about all this. I've always had a strong intuition that this can work and that it has worked for John and probably others too. But when you've been at this as long as I have, and put so much into it, and then hear about others who seemed to wrap it all up in a few months, you've got to wonder what's going on.

Thanks, Ryan

Expectations

Expectations

I too, have had similar doubts about the looking, as well as probably being one of those who proclaimed triumph over fear.....I just had an episode of depression that lasted for just a few days. It was a timely reminder of what my life was like every day over 2 years ago before the looking. Timely, because I was beginning to have doubts and wonder if there were changes in me.

I don't have grand experiences, but my life is fundamentally different. The angst that ground me down every day and exhausted me is gone. The poor lifestyle choices I made in reaction to, or to offset the angst have been replaced by positive lifestyle choices. Sometimes I wonder if the positive benefits of the looking can be contributed to better lifestyle choices, but then I remember that I was unable to sustain anything positive for more than a few weeks or months and routinely fell back into depression.

So I guess I'm not an old timer, yet, but the overall drift of my life is toward the positive......I also find it easier to direct my attention toward the positive. And if I can't direct my attention toward the positive aspects and fall down, I don't pile on the self recriminations and guilt that I once did. I just get back up. It's the getting back up that is different. It's quicker and without the usual staggering about.

I appreciate everyone's honesty on these forums. That, as much as anything tells me that we are all on the right track, because beneath the honesty and longing there is a heartfelt optimism in the looking. I sincerely hope that all who are struggling experience relief, as we are all in this together!

I felt to contribute to the forum today. I guess I'd say I am simply in my life now. It's so different from what I would have expected coming from a spiritual background that it is difficult to express. I listen to and express opinions about things and it's all ok but not very interesting ( to each his own)...very familiar thoughts, sensations that come and go but they are always pretty much the same so I've come to recognize them more quickly and move my attention to the breath (self reliance)...the anxiety sensation is very familiar and the fear that would come with this feeling would paralyze me at times..this led to a feeling of no energy and depression. It's been a few years since these strong emotions overwhelm me. Sometimes a more subtle sensation presents itself ( I just feel bad) and surprises me but if the mind is trained to move attention I can often deal with it more directly in the moment.

I enjoy listening to young people and finding ways to direct them to looking at themselves before they start compounding their fears unnecessarily..I've seem amazing results with this in my grandchildren.

Yes it's been 6 crazy years since I first heard about the looking but I know it's the only thing I really needed to hear.

Love Maureen

Thank you very much to those who recently posted to this thread and to John for directing me to the piece on Expectations. I'm reminded again of how varied our personal experiences are with the looking. This past week I've been reflecting a bit on how my life has changed over the past 6 years or so. First, without a doubt, life is much better since I started with the looking. A couple of the major changes are that I'm no longer seeking a spiritual solution to my life, I don't feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with it the way I used to. This is a huge relief for someone who literally spent 10 years of his life in the single minded pursuit of "enlightenment". However, I probably have some ingrained ideas from Theravada Buddhism of what freedom should look and feel like. When painful emotions arise, there is often a sense that there is something wrong- not wrong with my life, but with the emotion itself. But what is very interesting is that when I do experienced fear or anxiety, I've noticed there is a part of me that remains still and even somewhat removed from it all, just not really affected one way or the other. It's as though even when I am in the midst of strong emotions (positive or negative) part of me just doesn't buy into it. I attribute this to the looking because in the past, I was swept away by fear, anxiety and depression. This is the most freeing effect of the looking.

But when I look at the content of my life, both internal and external, there are still lots of limitations. I still prefer not to experience pain, and I don't see that disappearing any time soon. When I look at my life, I see myself acting from a personality that is imperfect. I have blind spots and biases that limit me on a regular basis. Perhaps I can become more skillful in my life and I suppose that this is a never ending endeavor, but in the end, personalities are by definition imperfect.

Finally, I should add that none of this has the urgency it once had. I don't need to resolve anything today or this year. I've always found it refreshing to see how John's understanding of the looking and how to convey it has changed and evolved over the years. I know I've seen myself, and I know it has totally changed my life, but my life and understanding keeps evolving. I guess the spiritual promise that some of us followed for a long time of an enlightened, effortless life can be hard to shake off.

Hi Ryan!

I have been following the development of this work for several years now and I feel that I have a pretty good understanding and experience of what we, so far, has learned together about the act and the recovery process. In that sense I may be an "old timer".

But I don't feel done with anything. The context of fear still shows up, from time to time, and robs me of my natural experience of life. And as I have lived my life, I would be surprised if it had been otherwise. It seems to me that spirituality and drugs (getting away from everyday life) are two factors that strengthens the context of fear and thereby effects the length and intensity of the recovery period. I am very familiar with both of those factors and I can certainly see the traces of them in my recovery, in my mind.

And although that I feel that the context of fear is getting weaker all the time, the biggest change for me now is the way that I relate to it. I don't mind it as much as before. The experience of neurotic fear, anxiety and alienation does not automatically tell me that something is wrong and that I have a long way to go to reach "real" freedom.

Today I see my recovery process with love and patience. I have given myself (me) the attention that I needed to begin to heal from a life filled with fear and confusion. And I think that is beautiful. I don't hate myself anymore for everything stupid that I have done. I forgive myself and I love myself and I totally understand that it takes time for the scars in my mind to heal.

One thing though, that I wish that I have started with earlier, is to work more with my attention. My attention has been extremely week and has caused me a lot of trouble. If I had started earlier to strengthen my attention with some simple mindfulness meditation I think that I had been saving myself a lot of trouble. I have actually put very little effort to the act and what follows during the years. My strategy was to make sure that I had preformed the act John was suggesting and then I just listened to podcast and waited and waited... But if I had started earlier to get to know my attention better I am certain that it had helped my recovery.

Thank you Ryan for your posting. I had to take a few days to really notice what my experience is in this matter and I feel that this conversation is really essential.

Niklas

You are doing quite well. The personality takes time to complete the process of regeneration. It may never finish. The spiritual implication of suddenness to the transformation is deeply rooted and can be troublesome. Remember that the regeneration itself IS your actual life unfolding before your eyes, and engaging intelligently with it is quite satisfying. Be patient with yourself and work with the training to develop skill and control over your attention.

John

suddhano

Thank you very much to those who recently posted to this thread and to John for directing me to the piece on Expectations. I'm reminded again of how varied our personal experiences are with the looking. This past week I've been reflecting a bit on how my life has changed over the past 6 years or so. First, without a doubt, life is much better since I started with the looking. A couple of the major changes are that I'm no longer seeking a spiritual solution to my life, I don't feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with it the way I used to. This is a huge relief for someone who literally spent 10 years of his life in the single minded pursuit of "enlightenment". However, I probably have some ingrained ideas from Theravada Buddhism of what freedom should look and feel like. When painful emotions arise, there is often a sense that there is something wrong- not wrong with my life, but with the emotion itself. But what is very interesting is that when I do experienced fear or anxiety, I've noticed there is a part of me that remains still and even somewhat removed from it all, just not really affected one way or the other. It's as though even when I am in the midst of strong emotions (positive or negative) part of me just doesn't buy into it. I attribute this to the looking because in the past, I was swept away by fear, anxiety and depression. This is the most freeing effect of the looking.

But when I look at the content of my life, both internal and external, there are still lots of limitations. I still prefer not to experience pain, and I don't see that disappearing any time soon. When I look at my life, I see myself acting from a personality that is imperfect. I have blind spots and biases that limit me on a regular basis. Perhaps I can become more skillful in my life and I suppose that this is a never ending endeavor, but in the end, personalities are by definition imperfect.

Finally, I should add that none of this has the urgency it once had. I don't need to resolve anything today or this year. I've always found it refreshing to see how John's understanding of the looking and how to convey it has changed and evolved over the years. I know I've seen myself, and I know it has totally changed my life, but my life and understanding keeps evolving. I guess the spiritual promise that some of us followed for a long time of an enlightened, effortless life can be hard to shake off.

I am revisiting this thread nearly a year later and find it both reassuring and unnerving. I can relate much more closely with the posts of Suddhano and his position. While my old post in this thread is valid and real, I realize that a year ago I was closer to my old misery and the relief I felt from the removal of overt chunks of neurosis was more palpable because I was closer to it? But things have grown a bit more complex in the intervening time. A year later, I am in a different position, working at another level. I feel as if the removal or the shifting of some of my more overt neurotic patterns has left me somewhat unmoored as they made up much of my identity. These patterns, as painful as they were, ran a straight and dependable course. (I believe psychology calls this 'secondary gain'). Food, binge eating, was a reliable friend, albeit a painful obnoxious companion. I could count on it when things got unpredictable. The enveloping of depression as it moved around me with its painful numbness was predicable and, in a way, soothing. Anxiety would be triggered predictably by certain situations and events. It was a train I could set my watch by. These neurotic energies were my identity and when I stumbled I could reach out and brace myself against them. They were the spouse/partner you couldn't live with, but couldn't live without. Now, much of that is gone and I feel I'm on different terrain. A landscape where my usual, dark landmarks are gone and the absence of them doesn't necessarily bring clarity, it just allows me to explore other aspects of my personality and the world at large. Things are being overturned and revealed. This seems to be happening in slow motion or real time. It is not something that is overtly troubling.....but at times can be disorienting and.....it is not the expected outcome! John's blog on expectations makes so much more sense in this context. I realize that expectations, like our familiar neurosis are landmarks and predictable, but they are no more real than anxiety and depression. They are a fixed star and navigational point, but a setting on this course invalidates other options and experiences which are close at hand, necessary.....our lives. It is hard to put my experience into words, as the terrain shifts as I speak it. I think the word "dynamic" is the best descriptor. I am not viewing the world from as fixed a position (anxiety, depression, misery, expectations was the fixed position). I am moving as the world moves. Layers are being overturned and exposed that I had no idea existed and I respond to them in ways I have not in the past. I am dropping the fixed point identity, reluctantly. The stultifying neurotic, suffering fixed point. The blissed out spiritually finished fixed point. I am looking at a world of ever changing challenges and discoveries from a dynamic position. One that I now realize will never be finished in its complexity. A year from now, I suppose I will post something completely different...

I am revisiting this thread nearly a year later and find it both reassuring and unnerving. I can relate much more closely with the posts of suddhano and his position. While my old post in this thread is valid and real, I realize that a year ago I was closer to my old misery and the relief I felt from the removal of overt chunks of neurosis was more palpable because I was closer to it? But things have grown a bit more complex in the intervening time. A year later, I am in a different position, working at another level. I feel as if the removal or the shifting of some of my more overt neurotic patterns has left me somewhat unmoored as they made up much of my identity. These patterns, as painful as they were, ran a straight and dependable course. (I believe psychology calls this 'secondary gain'). Food, binge eating, was a reliable friend, albeit a painful obnoxious companion. I could count on it when things got unpredictable. The enveloping of depression as it moved around me with its painful numbness was predicable and, in a way, soothing. Anxiety would be triggered predictably by certain situations and events. It was a train I could set my watch by. These neurotic energies were my identity and when I stumbled I could reach out and brace myself against them. They were the spouse/partner you couldn't live with, but couldn't live without. Now, much of that is gone and I feel I'm on different terrain. A landscape where my usual, dark landmarks are gone and the absence of them doesn't necessarily bring clarity, it just allows me to explore other aspects of my personality and the world at large. Things are being overturned and revealed. This seems to be happening in slow motion or real time. It is not something that is overtly troubling.....but at times can be disorienting and.....it is not the expected outcome! John's blog on expectations makes so much more sense in this context. I realize that expectations, like our familiar neurosis are landmarks and predictable, but they are no more real than anxiety and depression. They are a fixed star and navigational point, but a setting on this course invalidates other options and experiences which are close at hand, necessary.....our lives. It is hard to put my experience into words, as the terrain shifts as I speak it. I think the word "dynamic" is the best descriptor. I am not viewing the world from as fixed a position (anxiety, depression, misery, expectations was the fixed position). I am moving as the world moves. Layers are being overturned and exposed that I had no idea existed and I respond to them in ways I have not in the past. I am dropping the fixed point identity, reluctantly. The stultifying neurotic, suffering fixed point. The blissed out spiritually finished fixed point. I am looking at a world of ever changing challenges and discoveries from a dynamic position. One that I now realize will never be finished in its complexity. A year from now, I suppose I will post something completely different.....

wondering how everyone in this thread is doing now? I have been looking and focused attention for about a year, and have lately been feeling like much of my old personality and personas have been dropping away, which in some ways feels good and in others feels kind of void and blah. I don't have much motivation one way or another, and am finding this current state pretty uncomfortable.

is the expectations blog post available anywhere else? that link is now a 404.

thank you for any updates/input!

Hi, Pilarstar! This experience you report is not uncommon, I went through this myself. When this sense of a void appears you can decline to attend to it. It will disappear in time. There are posts here in the forum about the same issue.

I added the article about Expectations to the Articles section of the forum.

https://www.justonelook.org/community/forums/articles/7711-expectations...

All the best,

Carla

franco14

OP is back. Thanks everyone.

I'm still feeling awful. Truly terrible. I'm not even having a good day here or there. I'm not having any moments where I feel truly relaxed or rested or able to think that everything's going to be ok. I used to have at least 5 minutes once a month where I almost felt settled and not terrified. But I haven't experienced that in probably 8 or 9 months!

Tonight, I'm wondering how all this relates to specific phobias and whether there is any value in trying to overcome a specific, known phobia.

I don't mean to get off topic here, but this relates to how long it takes the recovery process to play out: I find that I am twisted up inside because of religion and sex. I used to be super Christian and I used to be Mr. Sexual Purity. I clung to an identity of being "pure" (sexless outside of marriage) and viewed myself as a role model because I was so good at resisting beautiful women (and no, I'm not secretly gay). My beliefs have changed, realizing it was all nonsense, but I'm in so much pain because I learned to hate my sex drive and learned to suppress it for so long, and no matter how hard I try (and no matter how hard I try to let go of trying), I cannot make peace with my sexuality. It is an ENORMOUS source of pain, shame, guilt, and fear, to even think of myself having sex and actually enjoying it. I don't want people to see me as a sexual person, especially the people I love. I'm not a virgin any more but I've never been able to enjoy sex because of religion. I am filled with a lot of anger at the morons who teach such ignorant, damaging dogma, and angry that I wasted the best years of my youth avoiding sex and not having this basic human need met.

I mention all of this because I'm wondering if the recovery process can be sped up by facing this specific fear. Every time I get the urge to go out and have sex (as if it's just that easy), I crunch up inside with fear and self-loathing. Problem is, the fear is too intense to face. People keep telling me to just "feel the feelings" and "let it up" and "stop trying" and "face the fear" and "just let go" but I can't and it's eating me alive! Meanwhile I'm not feeling any noticeable benefit from inward looking upon this issue (which feels to me like my "core" issue). I feel better about other things (which were always much more trivial to me), but my core problem (as I perceive it) doesn't have even the slightest dent in it, after all this time, and I can't cope. Is there anything I can do other than "Just keep looking"??

Franco, hello. If you're still feeling troubled by this, I would be interested in talking with you. I can relate to what you have said here, and may be able to help in some way. Please PM me if you'd like to talk.

 

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