trying to recover from nonduality / advaita
Posted by: kalinka ()
Date: February 27, 2018 05:32AM


first of all, i am not a native speaker, so please excuse my english...

Since more than 7 months i try to recover from my belief in nonduality/advaita. i was part of the satsang-movement for 7 years, visited different teachers, watched thousands of videos, read hunderts of books etc. etc. i was deeply looking for "enlightenment". i thought this could free me from my suffering (i am a long term sufferer from anxiety, panic attacks and depression).

in summer last year i visited a 7-day-retreat. no meditation, only satsang two times a day. one evening i got a panic attack in satsang because i had the feeling i couldn't understand anymore what they were talking about. i went upfront and talked with the teachers. they calmed me down somehow, but since this moment i couldn't stop thinking about the "real meaning" of the teaching.

i came home from the retreat and things started getting really weird. i got panic attacks daily and was very anxious. but i still thought i have to somehow "get it" or i have to really understand that there is no "self", then all this suffering will disappear. i spiraled down into a deep hole of obsessive thinking. first of all i had just a few moments of depersonalization but since 7 months it is a constant condition.

it is as if i am living all their teachings. i feel like "i" disappeared. everything that's left of me is just this body, witch isn't "mine" anymore, just a random bunch of flesh moving around doing things, but without a "doer" inside. i feel like a biological machine, programmed to talk, walk, eat and do stuff. but all happens "without me".

so - if no-self is bliss, like they told me - i must feel very happy and liberated right now. but i don't. since 7 months my life is completely ruined.
i would do anything to get out of this condition. it feels so terrible wrong.

in the beginning i spoke with a few teachers about my experience and they gave me different answers. and everytime i spoke with a teacher i got more afraid.
so i stopped doing this and tried to look for psychological explanations and tried to do the things which are recommended for curing depersonalization.

but i don't get better. and i think this is because i still somehow believe that their teachings are "the truth" and that i now realized it. every day i obsess about free will, control and the self. i try to find arguments against these kind of teachings but nothing makes enough sense to really convince me.

on my way of looking for arguments i also came across this website. i don't really know what i am looking for. maybe i hope that someone can convice me that there is no ultimate truth out there and that we are not just biologial robots running around.

i will appreciate every advise.. thank you!

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Re: trying to recover from nonduality / advaita
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: February 27, 2018 10:08AM

Meditation isn't for everyone. Some people experience adverse affects, OP. You're not the only one. It can destabilize people. Also, meditation is not to be used as a substitute for mental health care. Panic attacks and depression are serious matters.

There are psychotherapists out there, who can help you overcome those issues naturally, without medication, but it's a challenge to find them. Depending on how serious your symptoms are, they may recommend going on medication temporarily, while undergoing therapy. I have seen people heal to the point of not needing their meds anymore, but it takes time, and it takes effort on your part, and a good therapist.

It sounds like the effect of the meditation was to cause some kind of depersonalization. Check your health insurance policy to see if it covers mental health care, and look for a good professional to help you. These are serious afflictions you have. You should take care of yourself, the same way that you go to a doctor, when you are sick. You can't fix these things on your own.

Good luck!

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Re: trying to recover from nonduality / advaita
Posted by: happytown ()
Date: February 27, 2018 07:28PM

Unlike "insta-enlightenment", which of course wakes up EVERYBODY instantly when they hear it (and if it doesnt work it's YOUR fault so please sign up for the next satsang), I suspect "recovery from insta-enlightenment bullshit" requires a committed and gentle few years of satsang-free healthy living.

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The retreat setting and retreat rules can also have an effect
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 27, 2018 10:06PM

Dear Kalinika,

Not only the non dual teachings but the retreat setting and retreat guidelines can have a powerful effect on our body chemistry -- and body chemistry includes neurochemistry.

I agree with the others. It sounds as though you've been suffering for a very long time.

One thing to ask yourself is whether anyone else in your family has had trouble with anxiety, depression, work blocks, etc. It may take some of the spooky mystery out of all this just to ask such questions.

Misstyk is right on target. Please do yourself a favor and look for a clinician who can recognize that "meditation" is a powerful intervention, which means it can have side effects.

Ignore anyone who tries to talk you out of consulting a medical professional. You've been utilizing advaita teachings and suffering for 7 years. That is a huge portion of one's life.

Here are some questions to ask yourself. You do not have to give any
answers to these questions on the message board.

(This is information that your doctor will find helpful)

It would be interesting to know the following:

Has anyone in your family had trouble with anxiety, panic, depression?

Was this retreat was in a location and place
familiar to you or were away from home.

Did you pay a great deal of money to attend the retreat? The more money you
pay the more a feeling of anxiety you may have that the retreat justify the expense.

Did they require you to not use caffeinated beverages, painkillers (Tylenol) for the duration of the retreat. Suddenly stopping use of these has a big effect.

Did you stop using any favorite stress reducing substances or activities

* If you use prescription medication of any kind -- did you stop?

* If you use cannabis medically or recreationally , did you stop?

* If you are physically active, did you suddenly reduce your activity while on
the retreat.

Physical activity is a known stress reducer and mood elevator. Physical activity also helps us feel grounded in our bodies. Suddenly reducing
your level of physical activity imposes a *major* change to your body chemistry and neurochemistry.

Did your privacy change? Could you get away by yourself if you needed to?

Did you feel at ease with your fellow retreatants. Did anyone scare you or
anger you or push at your boundaries?

If you are used to having your own bathroom,
your own bedroom and suddenly find yourself sharing a bedroom or dormitory, bathroom, this can be a huge change, in and of itself.

Did you change your customary diet?

Did you reduce your food intake?

Did the retreat diet shift you to less protein and a higher proportion
of carbohydrates than you customarily eat?

Did you go to bed and get up in the morning at your usual times?

Yes, please do yourself a favor and get medical attention for this.

Retreats and meditation affect our bodies and nervous system. Your sufferings
are real and may have a physical basis.

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Re: trying to recover from nonduality / advaita
Posted by: figlady ()
Date: March 06, 2018 10:31AM

Hi Kalinka, I'm sorry you are going through this but very glad you are reaching out.

Are you on Facebook? If so, the group Shades of Awakening – about spiritual emergence(y) – may be relevant for you. They also have a website [] with a resources page.

Also it could be helpful to find a trauma therapist (especially somatically based) or other style therapist who understands this issue. They do exist. There are also inpatient centers for spiritual emergency (again, people know about those places in the group I mentioned). Wishing you to find some nice relief soon. :)

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