Just One Look Forum Archives
Recovery and Rehabilitation
Last weekend it was exactly 1 year after I first did the looking. I'm writing down what my experience has been for anyone who is starting this, into this or interested in it. Its gonna be a long read I guess so be prepared.
A faraway friend introduced me to all this and told me that this had ended his search some years ago. "Give it a try if you want" he said and gave me a card of John and Carla.
I did the looking a few days later when I got home, the night before my 24th birthday.
Up to that point I did have a "healthy" interest in spirituality/mindfulness and all that, but I was not so much on a quest of realization, nor was I meditating or following any specific doctrine, practice or advice.
The first week(s), june-july
When I did the looking first I was not sure what I was looking for. The childhood memory method made it all clearer. I found myself in the first weeks doing this at random moments like in the shower. I'd try to go through many stages of my life and see if I could find this same 'me' in all these memories, both good ones and bad.. and I could. I did really try to kind of conceptualize or separate this feeling from all other experiences.
I watched a lot of footage on youtube in this first week. Probably one of those 2hr recordings every evening.
Seeing I liked the looking I also started practicing focussed attention for some time. I was surprised by the difficulty at first, but also by the progress. I did notice in my day to day life that I was more able to take on the observer standpoint and see how I was myself consciously controlling my mood, reactions etc. I also saw how other peoples reactions were all part of unconsciously conditioned behavior, and couldn't understand why no-one was trying to take more control over this.
What did not really happen for me was a general continuous blissful feeling. The looking itself was soothing in a way, and the focussed attention had its benefits in day to day life. There were surely some moments where this resulted in blissful experiences, but not in the 'everything is blissful' sense.
At this point I was cautiously enthusiastic about the looking. It appealed to me so much since it was such a practical approach to traditionally spiritual themes and that fits really well with me. I also lost interest in all traditional spiritual approaches from the east.
The next months, august - november
After maybe about a month or maybe two these initial effects started to flatten out. I gradually stopped doing the looking and practicing focussed attention. I simply didn't have the inclination. I was quite content and was just waiting for all this to reveal itself more. Over a period of the next ca. 3 1/2 months I think everything kind of returned to normal. I was still interested in the looking, I occasionally visited this forum, but that was about it.
Halfway, november - march
Around november some things started to change in my interior and exterior. My internship came to an end and my next project for my study backfired last minute. It was half november and there was not realistic opportunity of fixing a new project before christmas or soon thereafter. Next started a rather frustrating time where I had basically nothing to do other then reaching out to all kinds of organizations and waiting for replies. Around the same time other things happened in my exterior. My grandfather passed which served me a whole mix of emotions; there were some issues in my relationship; I moved to a new city into a new house with new housemates, and -not unimportantly- winter came and it got cold and rainy here.
All this seemed to take its toll on my 'interior'. Over the moths end of november to maybe the end of march or early april or so I was feeling rather lethargic. I had so little energy to undertake anything and I was overtaken by a general downhearted feeling. This was not directly being reflected on the outside world. I was still seeing friends, family, my girlfriend etc. I was still training to run the half marathon in march. I mean to say that I could still have fun, I was still functioning in society, but I was just under the surface quite distressed I guess and it was harder to engage in all this. I needed a lot of sleep, maybe 9hrs a day. It is still hard for me to say if all this was the result of the looking and part of the recovery, or that it was the result of my context undergoing so many changes. I had always suffered from winter depressions in a way anyway. I still don't know, maybe it was a bit of both.
In this time I also started to develop a strong interest for more traditional eastern spiritual philosophies. More than I ever had before. I tried to get a better understanding of what was happening and started diving a bit more into the teachings of Ramana. Then after that there was Papaji and the whole neo-advaita movement. Somewhere halfway january I had quite the mystical experience of profound insight when drifting into sleep. This put some extra fuel on the flame. My healthy interest in all this had turned by this time into quite the craving for realization and the release of this downhearted feeling. During this period I also did the looking at times, just to see if it did anything to me. I could not get the satisfaction from it that I used to get at the start. I did notice how during the looking or during focussed attention I felt a kind of 'pressure' building up in my forehead. The forum here didn't give me any answers what this could be. I didnt consider it to be a medical condition because I felt how it was a result of my attention. I didn't feel like posting about it on this forum since I kinda lost my trust in the looking at this point, plus I actually completely disagree with the forum moderation policy (this has withheld me from posting several times out of principle). I found my answer a little later when reading about Chakras, the third eye and all that. My mystical experience from a little before that fitted well in these yogic frameworks too. As a result I accepted these traditional viewpoints as probably right, and the looking as a helpful step on the way to realization.
Towards the 1 year mark - April - june
After a lot of setbacks I could finally officially kickoff my new project in April. Finally having more to do helped getting me back up. The downheartedness slowly moved away, the obsession with spirituality also flattened out a bit. Everything returned more to normal again. Or at least, a version of normal that integrates my better understanding of myself, others and the world around me that I have created with the looking and other paths.
I felt that regaining control over my attention was important to get better mentally. I started to try practice focussed attention again, which I found the most useful meditation practice. I noticed I lost my previous skill and I could hardly get beyond the count of two. I have made progress in this, but I am by nature not really a committed person and I haven't truly been able to integrate this in my life an take on this practice regularly. It is the same reason why I had never truly practiced any form of meditation for longer periods of time before I got into all this.
I am now feeling pretty good, but I do notice a yearning for this blissful experience that is supposedly to be found when diving in the self. Of course I know it is not something that can be 'found', that it is already there, that it is not the goal but the means etc.. but the yearning is there and it is much stronger than it was 1 year ago... a lot stronger.
Actually before the looking I did not so much believe in the concept of the fear of life. I was unable to see it in me. Quite soon I found it and I hope it will be washed away by the looking or any other path that resonates with me along the way. Understanding what it is that can be washed away probably makes that craving intensify.
- I can say that at this point I am not sure what the looking has done for me. Surely the first months it has taken me pretty much as described here. However, other paths have taken me in similar ways for a number of weeks when I encountered them, and I am not ruling out that any of these paths can resonate with primal instincts of egoistic appreciation and strive for gratification, and maybe the looking just happens to do so really well. That is not to say that it is a bad thing to do. I'd recommend anyone who is interested in self development to do it.
- The focussed attention practice I think is very helpful and I wish I had a stronger power of mind to integrate this fully into my life. The scientific benefits of meditation have been described many times and I think that focussed attention might even be more efficient for novices than other forms of meditation since it is much clearer and practical.. just hypothesizing here
- I definitely had a time of emotional difficulty and distress. This can be attributed to the recovery. How I like to see it now is that much of this can be from external factors, but the experience might have been more intense due to the looking. In a way I think I am experiencing specific emotions stronger then before such as sentiment and empathy. I get more emotional when watching movies for example.
- Currently the looking has brought me a deepening understanding of myself and others and our conditioned behaviors. This fueled a flame in me that desires some form of liberation from the fear of life, suffering, etc. I am not sure at this point where this is leading me. I know that yearning for this is not the answer. I try to pick up on focussed attention and see where that will take me together with the understanding of the looking and other paths. Note that I haven't lost faith in the looking, maybe the dust is settling now and my 2 yr report will be much more evangelical about this practice. Thats actually what I still hope for.
Thats about it, I hope its useful for someone out there in person, or more generally for the common understanding of the process after the looking.
I haven't re-read this after typing it so I hope it makes sense for those who read it.
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