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Recovery and Rehabilitation

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Dichotomy of experience

Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum. I wanted to give a little background about myself and then ask a question.

I've been looking at myself off and on (without even calling it that) since a kid. I had an amazing experience when I was first drawn to meditating when I was in my early twenties. For five months it felt like I was just looking at myself from sunrise to sunset -- not only at the feeling of me in my chest and body, but seeing it in everything around, such as trees, mountains, etc.

Then for some 20 years after that it has felt like I have been running from how simple looking at myself was.

Where I find myself now at 48 is that it feels like I am split in two. Whenever I stop and look at myself, it is easy to see and feel the empty space of 'me' in my chest. Often with it I feel bliss, an ache of love, but mostly just feel peace. If I am hiking or sitting quietly, I can see that me-ness in other things too.

But, other times it feels like all the habits and addictions to escapes I have had since a child are here as strong as ever. When those thoughts come up I don't even want to stop and look at myself. Thoughts come up with a vengeance to arrogantly dismiss it as a waste of time, to say 'don't look at yourself. go run to your normal escapes and you will feel better.'

It seems like the more I look at myself, the peaceful parts of my mind become even more at peace, but the parts which have never been at peace seem are as tumultuous as always.

My question is, has anyone else experienced this? Will continuing to look at myself eventually even out my moods and bring peace to the parts of my mind which seem so overactive, desperately running from fear to escapes, built up over almost 50 years of ruts.


Yes. Looking works. Best not to set expectations and to avoid trying to script your recovery. You may do the looking in a rather desperate way for some time and that's ok. The crappy stuff will stand out more than usual for some time. Then it lets up. For me, it seemed to let up in a way that just happened and it was not an event; there was no distinct transition. It just happens but it isn't a result of something the mind puts into play.

Welcome to the forum, zuroma999.

I'm happy for your peaceful experiences. I hope you'll have plenty more of those in the future.

In my opinion, it might not be of any particular benefit to compare your past looking to what you've run into here with John and Carla. Look afresh (as I'm sure you've done already). I have a friend who claims she's done the looking long ago but It's quite clear we were not talking about the same thing. I'm not saying this is the case with you, but to me it points to approaching these things afresh without comparing to past experiences. People mean many distinct things with "me" and those get confused easily.

What I understand from John is that looking at yourself is not a tool to bring peace or get rid of tumult in your mind. Seeking peace might just be an old habit and looking at yourself might well be a waste of time, at this point. It's a cure but not an escape from your moods. On the other hand, if you feel like looking, go ahead, as long as you're compelled to.

I hope you've familiarised yourself with the attention directing exercise John advises us to practise? You don't have to give too much attention to tumult in your mind or the commentary about moods and escapes.


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