Self care & Difficult Experiences
One of the most important things to assist in navigating the ups, downs and confusions that can arise in this path, is being connected with people and community that sympathise and resonant with what you are going through. So stay in touch with each other or find other places where these curiosities are shared.
Additionally, there are endless practices and techniques for raising general well-being, such as gratitude, meta meditations, writing, exercises, and creative expression. These are all worth delving into if you find your general happiness low.
Many studies have promoted the benefits of mindfulness, but often ignored the 'dark night of the soul' and other mental health difficulties that can arise with the practice.
Dr. Willoughby Britton has been studying both, and attempting to find out when meditation can be harmful and what to do about it.
Check out this video for a complete interview, but to summarise:
1) If a practice seems to be inducing feelings of unworthiness, then back off that practice and switch to self compassion and other positive psychology methods.
2) If childhood or psychological trauma is arising, back off the practice, and use positive psychology as well as seeking out therapy and support from friends and community.
3) If existential terror of 'the three characteristics' is arising, (no-self, impermanence/emptiness, the innate unsatisfactoriness of all experience) then KEEP GOING! If you feel you are tipping over into nihilism then check if your own going wellbeing is going down, and supplement your practice with positive psychology and connecting with things you love.
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