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Euvie Ivanova @euvieivanova
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Thread: I've been asked several times recently about the "dealing with difficult emotions" meditation I practice. So I thought I'd talk about the technique here.

The first stages of this are simple, and anyone can do it. The latter stages are quite technical.
I started the thread with the purpose of describing how to process difficult emotions, but then ended up going into the technicalities of having a spiritual awakening (or at least the way I did it). It's a bit of a handful!
So the purpose of this meditation practice is many-fold. It's a way to deeper self knowledge and self acceptance, since you are looking at the parts of yourself that rarely see the light of conscious awareness.
This practice helps release trauma in a very direct way. We all have unhealthy behavioral patterns we repeat because of past trauma. If you think of trauma as knots in your being, the practice helps untie and smooth out some of those knots.
In Eastern traditions, this is sometimes referred to as "burning your karma" (and it literally feels like burning). In Jungian psychology, this is related to shadow integration. Basic versions of this technique are also used in many forms of therapy.
As a result of this practice, you end up a more emotionally resilient and more sovereign being.
The pre-requisites of this practice are knowing how to focus and open your awareness. You can do this respectively through 1. Meditation, focusing on one object (breath, mantra), and 2. Meditation, opening to all sensory inputs (similar to mindfulness, vipassana).
It helps to do the focus and open awareness meditation before starting the emotion practice, because it lets you sharpen the tools, silence the mental chatter, and relax the being.
Stage 1.

Sit or recline comfortably.

Focus the mind on one point, like a mantra or the breath. Do this for 10 minutes.

Then, open your awareness to all sensations without focusing on anything in particular. Sounds, smells, emotions, thoughts. Do this for 10 minutes.
Next, allow yourself to feel all of your emotions - deeply, fully, intensely.

Don't think about what's causing them, what you can do to fix them, or what kind of person they makes you.

Accept without judgement.

Feel the relief.

Do this for 10 minutes, then repeat the cycle.
Do this every day for the total of 1 hour. I've also found that doing three 20-min chunks works well.

You may sometimes get some very pleasant euphoric states.

After a few months, you will likely process all the surface / recent emotions and gain a deeper sense of well being.
Next comes the more difficult part. Once you process the surface / recent emotions, you may start digging up the difficult stuff. Trauma, abuse, major internal conflicts, etc. The kinds of things and their magnitude vary from person to person, but we all have something buried.
A lot of trauma is actually stored in the body, in muscle and nerve memory. So doing a movement practice like yoga, dance, or martial arts in conjunction with this helps immensely.
Stage 2.

Once you shut up the mental chatter, notice that most of what you feel as emotions happens in the body, not in thoughts.

Zoom in. Investigate where in the body you are feeling the emotions. Focus awareness there.
This can feel intensely painful, especially if you are dealing with major emotional trauma. It can register as a burning, throbbing, or stabbing sensation. Don't get distracted by figuring it out, fixing, or overcoming. Just feel, observe, and notice the release that happens.
After each time of doing this practice, you may notice that the traumas feel less painful or ar least different, and that you are less controlled by them.

You may get a euphoric, full-body sense of release.

Attachments drop. You feel lighter and have more clarity.
Stage 3.

At this point you've investigated thoroughly where in the body the sensations happen and what their qualities are.

Now zoom in to micro level and notice how each sensation forms a pulse or wave pattern (sub-second).

Something arises, then subsides, arises, subsides.
Observe the wave of sensation arising and subsiding.

Now notice the space between the pulses / waves. The emptiness, the Void.

Notice that each wave of the sensation arises from this Void, and then returns to it.

Observe the qualities of the Void. The sense of freedom in it.
Stage 4.

Notice how the one observing all this is separate from the wave.

How could you observe the wave, unless you aren't the wave?

And when you notice this, there comes a certain sense of detachment and relief.

"Oh, I am just watching this wave happening".
Stage 5.

Take the observer and plunge it into the sensation. Come into complete resonance with the wave, become one with it on a micro level.

At this point, the sensation ceizes. The wave doesn't experience itself as the wave.

Now, try to find the observer.

It's not there!
It feels like going through a portal.

It gets increasingly intense as you get closer to it, then suddenly you're submerged in nothingness and time stands still for an immeasurable period.

Then, just as suddenly, you get spit out on the other side and wonder what just happened.
This experience is like the wave-particle duality collapsing.

You realize it's not a duality.

Not only is there no division between the observer and the sensations,

but the observer does't exist. And the sensations are just waves arising from the Void.

There is no "self".
Sometimes, you can see glimpses of the deeper reality through meditation or in other circumstances.

But it often takes seeing it with enough of your being for it to "click".

This is why shutting up the mental chatter and releasing the emotions first helps immensely.
For me, this experience last year was so earth-shaking that it felt like I broke my head and went completely insane.

I'd already had close to no mental chatter for months at that point from doing a ton of meditation, so it hit like a supernova.

Cue the self annihilation meme.
This whole business of awakening is not a pleasant experience, or at least it wasn't for me. I've heard the same from others who have had it.
I had been meditating for 8 years by the time I had this experience. The year I got it, I was meditating 1-3 hours a day, sometimes as much as 6 hours.
One time I meditated for most of 48 hours straight, and noticed that I had some continuous awareness even during sleep.

That was an interesting discovery, but it's just a side note.
Meditation is not all fun and roses, especially if you do a lot of it.
When you go deep with this style of meditation, you get to look at all the stuff you really, really don't want to look at. And feel all the feelings that come with it.

It's a deeply unpleasant experience, but it is cathartic in a major way.
Anyone trying to sell you spiritual awakening as a quick / light /peaceful thing is either not telling the whole story, or hasn't gone very deep themselves.

Make no mistake, it a destructive event of massive proportions.
Spiritual awakening is not a single event, like suddenly you're all happy and free and perfect.

The insight might come as a distinct event, but the work doesn't stop after. It's a long process.

The real work of meditation begins after awakening, as they say.
The aftermath of the destruction that is a spiritual awakening can last for years, with waves of aftershocks.

The mind begins to restructure itself in major ways. The personality often dissolves and then recoheres in a new form. The world view shifts. Behaviors change.
People often come to meditation because they want relaxation, better sleep, better focus, and ultimately, peace of mind.

And peace of mind does come eventually, but what they don't tell you is what lies between the starting point and that peace!

Oh, irony.
Another thing they don't tell you is that there is no such thing as perfection, before or after awakening.

There is no perfect peace of mind, perfect clarify, perfect self control, perfect cessation of craving or anger or suffering. It's a myth.
You don't stop being a human animal after awakening.

You just get better at it.
And if all of this sounds like a ridiculous amount of work for something kind of vague and pointless, that's because it is!

It's the cosmic joke.
At the end of the day, you don't really become anything different after awakening.

You are still you, in the deepest sense.

You are and have always been the cosmic evolutionary process becoming aware of itself.
You don't really "gain" any insights during an awakening either.

There is a part of you that already knows and has always known all this.

The other parts of you are just waking up to it and joining the party. Which is why the term "awakening" is fitting.
And after all of that, you still get to go chop wood and carry water.

The cosmic joke continues!
I would like to conclude this by saying that this is not "the blueprint", or the only way to have an awakening. It's just one of the ways.

There are lots of other ways it can be done.
Having a long standing, formal spiritual practice like meditation does make you more prepared and more likely to have an awakening.

But I also know people who've had various awakenings through:

- psychedelics
- tantric practices
- reading a profound book
- help of a guru

Having a framework does seem to be helpful for doing the work, otherwise the "I am insane" period post-awakening can last longer and be more damaging.

It also seems that dissolving the framework is a good idea after the work is done, so it doesn't turn into dogma.
Addendum: everyone is biased!

My own bias was pointed out to me in this post by @OortCloudAtlas.

I mainly talked about awakening to the realization that there is no self. But I failed to mention another important part.

And that is the realization that what we experience as the external world is not actually direct experience, but rather a bunch of stimuli that have been processed in the brain and then projected as an internal representation. We are living in a virtual reality, literally.
I had this realization when I did a bunch of psychedelics in my late teens, long before I started meditating.

It produced a long period of "I am crazy", and I don't think I integrated it properly back then. So I dismissed it as less important because of those circumstances.
And the lessons here are these:

Having a framework and a solid meditation practice are really useful for integrating spiritual insights. Insights had outside of a framework can create a long period of "I am crazy", can be difficult to integrate, or can get dismissed altogether.
When someone or something points out your biases to you, they are doing you a service and prompting you to update your model of reality.

Seeing as that's what your mind is doing anyway, constantly creating & projecting a model of reality, it's a good thing.
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