If you or someone you know has OCD and want to explore the spiritual dimension and/or resonates with these ideas please feel free to make a comment or contact me.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
The Spiritual Dimension of OCD
This blog will share ideas exploring the Spiritual Dimension of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The main premise is that there is spritual wisdom manifesting in OCD and how to recognize that. This brings one to start to transcend the illness while simultaneously developing hidden wisdom. The approach is Buddhistic in style based on the authors' background in Tibetan Buddhism and Zen. This does not mean that the "spiritual dimension" "is" "Buddhist."
It is precisely the "doubt" and "uncertainty" in OCD that slowly reveals real wisdom. Even as one transcends OCD some symptoms continue to manifest, but instead of overwhelming one, one can recognize the overarching truths and differentiate between pure OCD manifestations and hidden wisdom OCD symptoms.
UPDATED And Corrected: 4/2/05 (There are continuing updates but you may notice at times not much new as been added; this is due to fixing perhaps a word, a punctuation mark etc. But NEW IDEAS are coming, NEW VISIONS oF HEALING, UNDERSTANDING and MINING the RICHNESS oF THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION oF OCD will continue to be presented. So Keep Coming back!!!)
Been away for qhilw but am going to start up with new tips, ideas and meditations for OCDers. 4/2/05
Today 1/17/05 The Spiritual Dimension of OCD reached it's 1000's hit. New people read this everyday and there are many returnees as well. But I fear somehow the way this blog is put together some people may not be fully understanding some of the more subtle aspects hence unable to use them for their own and/or others benefit. The reason I feel this is that I would expect more communication; either as comments or direct emails to me. I have received more comments then this blog shows as I have removed them to another area and I also have received numerous private emails but I would like alot more so I can fully create a clear and comprehensive website of The Spiritual Dimension of OCD. So with my doubt energy I sense somehow I am not being clear enough BUT without feedback either to me directly or as comments it is difficult for me to know how to clarify more fully. There are many more technquies I will share but I want to know if, so far, people are understanding what is already here. Thank-you and keep checking back! My email is: email@example.com
How does the recognition of the Spiritual Dimension practically help one with OCD?
There are many benefits from actually experiencing a spiritual dimension.
- First the path of accumulation itself has many benefits such as mind training and meditation, searching out the vast literature and opinions on OCD, of the mind and so on.
- As mind training deepens more awareness of the patterns of one's reality become clearer.
- These patterns range from one's own mental manifestations as well as openness to the possibilities of syncronicities.
- Hence as one deepens one's meditative experience the mind naturally calms therefore it becomes more clear the pure OCD manifestations versus the deeper structures beneath the OCD revealing wisdom and the spiritual dimension.
- Sometimes the wisdom of OCD is precisely the OCD symptoms themselves such as doubt. And since the OCDer already has an openness to reality in the form of this unceasing doubt, many possibilities can be explored and with the growth of meditative experience one can eventually play, with a light touch, one's growing awareness and one's awareness of one's growing awareness.
- And with this expanding view toward the spiritual dimension another key benefit is the reduction of attachment to the OCD symptoms themselves.
HOW CAN I BE SURE? IN A WORLD THAT'S CONSTANTLY CHANGINGï¿½HOW CAN I BE SURE?
The awakening to the "gift" of doubt is rewarding.
And meditation with expanding wisdom is one of the keys to this awakening and to its potential liberating factors!
NOTE: This will be updated on a regular basis and so the "gaps" will be formulated regularly and added. SO CHECK BACK!!!
Posted at 10:19 pm by spiritual OCD
Friday, April 09, 2004
This will be blogged in a haphazard way at first then getting into form as it unfolds.
I first noticed OCD symptoms or rather I first remember doing ritual type behavior when about 11 years old. I don't remember the words but I used to recite very precisely something for protection. At 8 years old I would talk often about death. Nothing particularly monumental occured in my everyday life, except constant family arguments. Many families argue alot and I do not attribute my death ponderings or my protection "spells" (as I came to loosely think of them) to that aspect. It was pure me. Other social aspects of my behavior were effected; but everyone is effected in their own ways.
More on some of the ways OCD manifested over the years and how I came to recognize the spiritual dimension.
First I opened up to the possibilities that there might be a wisdom aspect of OCD.
It IS a very weird mental illness. And a perfect one for someone already musing on death as a youngster.
To skip ahead to my first spiritual clue. I read a book on Zen. I do not recall where I got this book or why I read it. In it there was an interview with a Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn. His motto was,"Always keep don't know mind and keep going straight." The phrase "don't know mind" resonated deeply within me. At that time, during my 23rd year, I would not have used the term resonate, but it really felt right. OCD was already manifesting for 12 years. I was aware of it and read about it. The sense of uncertainty and doubt is prominent in OCD and it was prominent within me. I doubted everything. Well, almost everything. I did strange rituals, said "prayers", walked funny and other way out displays of OCD. I knew it was called "the doubting disease" and so when I read about "Don't Know Mind" it was like WOW! here was a spiritual tradition that honored uncertainty. This makes sense!
DOUBT (updated 5/24/04)
What is it about DOUBT that may hold the key to wisdom? Why does Sahn Sa Nim use the phrase "Don’t Know Mind" so often? For a scientist are not questions the driving force?
In Obsessive Compulsive Disorder the doubt is pathological; meaning it interferes with everyday life in a substantial way. It slows life down in terms of actions in the world. This is due to getting stuck with doubt about reality and even doubt about our own minds and senses! Hence very difficult to get it all together and move forward. It bogs life down, clogs the machinery…
But there is a kind of doubt that deepens one’s experience and knowledge of life. The doubt of a scientist, of a creative artist, of philosophers that enhance one’s and other’s lives. To me the phrase "don’t know mind" keeps all possibilities of life open. To not know and not only be OK with that but to embrace that! Could this be empowering to all people, but especially people with OCD?
How is wisdom attained by using the eye of doubt?
There is also an implicit trust when you embrace more and more the open quality of "don’t know." The Buddhists might say this is one’s Buddha Nature and of course, this is good. In other words, by experimenting with doubt and keeping the mind free of trying to know. To let go of putting labels on reality whether they might be on the mark or not. And then see for oneself whether what naturally and spontaneously arises from our more relaxed being is not wisdom manifesting itself. So for OCDers to expand one’s tent of doubt to include ever-larger pieces of their reality but in areas that are not emotionally charged. In those areas one should experiment with doubting their doubt from above so to speak. This process was crystalized in me when I connected so strongly with "don’t know mind". I also kept in mind that his words were meant for all minds not only Obsessive-Compulsives and this gave me hope.
I believe wisdom manifests when keeping a pure state of not only "don’t know mind" but also "not needing to know or not know" mind. These states of mind are spacelike and has many good qualities that both feel good to the person and others as well. Such as tolerance. But in everyone’s own style or in Buddhist terms "one’s true nature" comes out more freely since not bogged down by weighty concepts of reality. Of course, whenever one tries to describe the mind, that is so open to doubt as to be almost free of it, one is using concepts to describe the indescribable. And it has to be indescribable! This is another instance of trust. That even though we use words to describe these internal and external realities it is the experience itself that is the wisdom. Actually practicing to keep the mind open of needing to close around what is going on in life internally and externally. And as the issue of closure is fundamental in obsessive compulsive disorder this will slowly ease the need for closure, hence certainty, hence the painful opposite of "don’t know mind".
These practices elevate doubt. As doubt is elevated from the mundane then more "freedom to be" grows. One must also remember to continue to doubt the doubt leaving nothing out…This further "purifies" doubt. The pathological doubt weakens and one is able to "see" reality more clearly hence wisdom naturally arises...Because there is doubt there is wisdom!
THE ACCUMULATION OF CLUES -updated 3/27/04
There is a comparable phase in the Buddhist tradition namely; the Path of Accumulation. This is the accumulation of wisdom similar to the accumulation of clues slowly revealing the spiritual dimension of OCD to me.
At the time of reading the Zen interview of Seung Sahn I was going to University. I majored in Mathematics since that was the best way to abstract my mind so as to understand death. This is how I thought about mathematics since my high school days when I was reading books on cryogenics among other subjects. I also started dabbling with writing poetry and fiction. A friend of mine mentioned to me that my writing seems like Zen Koans he was reading about. Since this was about the time I "discovered" the Zen book and read the interview that felt so right this excited me. I wanted to meet a Zen master and at the time had no idea how to go about this. So I started reading books on Zen.
These readings became a source of comfort in my otherwise chaotic mental life. Depression and the associated restriction of social contact that that caused as well as the many protection obsessions and compulsions left me dazed and confused, but for some reason this zen stuff spoke to me deeply.
Many people in the sciences or any field where one loves the subject one ponders, muses, thinks often about it. But for me for example in Chemistry I would get bogged down with the tiniest details and I could not stop thinking about it until I asked my professor. I would write pages and pages of questions to ask. Since I was too shy to talk in front of the class I waited for the professor after class or would go by their office. One such professor of Chemistry actually told a fellow student to keep me away from him with all my questions. I never knew if he was serious or not but it stood out. Of course I often came up with a question that most people would never think of and it helped me deeply undestand the subject BUT most of the time my obsessional questions caused me great mental pain. This is the difference between healthy passion and my obsessional questions. It was like my mind was a cauldron with both sharp intelligence and obsessional loops of questions and doubts all mixed together.
This is a term that comes up a few years later and its profundity continues to amaze me. During the time of College the same friend (we started an underground paper The Ikonoclast) told me about The Myth of Freedom by the Tibetan Buddhist Chogyam Trungpa. Neither title nor the cover caught my interest. Zen buddhism was it. He then told me about this new College called Naropa, started by Trungpa and the poet Alan Ginsberg and it intrigued me. I needed to meet these people. I also learned that Zen masters also taught there at times. So I decided to drive out there during the summer of 1982.
The notion of emptiness appealed to me so I signed up for a course on Shunyata (the sanskrit term usually translated as emptiness) at Naropa with Zazep Tulku. I was not very good socially and always getting smacked down with my verbal mistatements. At other times I was as smooth as can be. Before I actually arrived at Naropa that summer I called Allen Ginsberg and joked that I want to study with him because I want some help. I really was joking but it came out wrong. Of course I was confused and wanted help but I was being overall light and jokey about Buddhism and what I've been writiing. Basically I was excited. He said kind of rudely he's not a therapist. This embarrased me and these type of events throughout my earlier days made the tacitern wall thicker. But he was a great teacher, even though I never really spoke to him. I never spoke to Trungpa either but took an Art and Buddism class with him. And it was Trungpa talking about the Tantric path where he spoke of Sacred Vision. I never could be sure I understood what he meant and was not sure I did not understand because I did not get it or because of OCD doubt. Pretty twisted? But this is how my mind would think. But it started to mean to me that whatever I perceived, whatever internal experiences I had, no matter what I was doing, whether awake or asleep, talking, reading or eating I was doing something in a sacred dimension, in a sacred dance, superimposed on everyday reality , both internal and external. The key here was not the words "sacred dimension" "sacred dance" but rather a palpable sense that I, my ego I, was in a larger storyline. I felt it. I still feel it.
And this is why I am finally writing these words. It is time! For what I do not know. How can I? I have OCD. Of course this is said in half jest but the underlying sensation of uncertainty is always there.
I found that there are many comparable descriptions of mind in the abidharma (buddhist psychology) and in Trungpa's books. I found them in Tarthang Tulku's books as well. The interesting thing is he was the first Buddhist teacher I ever read. In 1976 I read his Time, Space and Knowledge and how way back then it spoke to me but not in the Buddhist sense. I do not think I realized what a Tibetan Lama was or even the Buddhist aspect. This is when during my early college days I was being turned on to philosophy by a friend who majored in that area. I used to argue there was no such thing as time but having only a Mathematics background and spoke with a thick New York accent with attitude my verbal arguments were often colored by many curses.
Therefore even this Book in progress is a manifestation of this Sacred Vision and all who happen to come to it. This is a seeming very mystical statement and way too early for me to have uttered it. But it has been uttered and will be let go of now in meditative space to continue with the clues and continual doubt filled insights.
Posted at 10:33 pm by spiritual OCD
Saturday, April 10, 2004
More clues, More craziness
In 1986, I was going through a severe OCD episode and major depression. I moved to another state without any resources because I was compelled to. This was not the first time I just got up and split. This was the third time in 4 years beginning the summer right after my first visit to Naropa Institute. Twice during my first year of graduate school I left, left my apartment and my car...following my obsessions compulsively. A very painful time but also exciting in a way. Anyway, during this episode in the Midwest I went to a psychiatrist connected with the welfare services. I only got 15 minutes with him. A farce! But he did say one sentence that stayed with me all these years and was a major clue to the spiritual dimension of OCD. I told him about many of my OCD manifestations and that for example I add numbers on license plates and I read them like signs, omens, if you will. They scared me or relieved me depending on what they added up to. He casually remarked that since I was Jewish (he was Jewish as well) my background has Gematria, a Kabbalistic practice ...That's all he said about that and that's all I remember about the brief encounter. But this remark opened my eyes to a possible mystical viewpoint of some of the rituals and compulsions I did. Don't know mind, Sacred Vision and Kabalistic tendencies perhaps, mixed with pure pathological OCD symptoms. Strange! Irritating! Infinitely frustrating! What was this crazy, confusing and tortuous path I was on? Where was I heading? Don't know mind...
During this time I remember when first arriving in the new state I told someone that everytime I split like this I end up meeting a new spiritual teacher and this is part of the path. I started to recognize "mysticals" patterns in my life. I was slowly putting the pieces together. Feeling myself the wounded healer among other labels. Wanting to teach something "spiritual", something "mystical" but simultaneously completely fucked up, depressed, lost, poor and OCD'ed...The cliché slight glimmer of light, some glimpses of the spiritual dimension in my bones, in my marrow as my next spiritual teacher would say. It was true as I predicted on my arrival that I would connect with a new teacher. This was the Zen Master Katagiri Roshi. He was beautiful. He glided...
The recognition of patterns was perhaps aided my meditative practice that started to develop a few years after attending Naropa. Meditation, which will be discussed later in more detail, is a vital part of the opening of the awareness eye to see in the midst of an OCD attack and in the midst of deathly depression.
Being involved with Katagiri for a few years added more to the accumulation of clues...I meditated at the Zen Center, did a few retreats and became known as the "guy who stole the Zen centers truck." What happened was that during a 2 week retreat out of the city I flipped out with my obsession and had to immediately go back to town, so I "borrowed" the truck to get there. A three-hour drive. I would have walked all the way because I could not not go. No way! Same sensation as when I had to ask my professor questions, or say my rituals or had unpleasant vivid images that would intrude. Where was the wisdom in that action?
The spiritual wisdom does not necessarily show itself in the action but what other events spin out from that action that revealed some further patterns that seemed to fit...and when I tried to think what it actually meant, these patterns, I would go nuts and get more despairing since these were often unponderable (a term I later heard from a hypnotist who said I pondered the unponderable) questions. So I recognized patterns that felt like a path, that seemed to fit with what I have learnt and felt. I struggled with this trying to make a form, a clearer storyline, a mystical mythology but I also doubted it as my imagination, my "magical thinking" ala Salzmann. Then "don't know mind" would come up in my mind stream and I just let it go and kept moving. This would not happen often but at seemingly strategic times after months of tremendous mental pain. Obviously thoughts of suicide would arise as well. But that was not new. That went back to my Pink Floyd days laying in the closet during High School. When Katagiri talked of his own thoughts of suicide it showed the stark choice in reality. "To live or to die, that's it" he would say.
But I wanted more. I lusted after dharma transmission. This I never received. A part of me felt, though, that something deep and profound WAS transmitted to me. It was like I swallowed something that both filled me with bliss and when I tried to talk about "this" my tongue would vanish.
Posted at 06:58 pm by spiritual OCD
Monday, April 12, 2004
FLOWERS IN THE SKY
And so it came to be that I was finally around an authentic Zen Master in Katagiri Roshi. The year after the incident with the truck I was moving back and forth from Seattle to New York bouncing around with my obsessions until I finally decided to move back to Minnesota during the summer of 1987. I wanted to do the summer retreat for two weeks with Katagiri and even though some of his students were leery of letting me back Katagiri OK’d it with the condition that I stayed in the retreat for the whole two weeks.
I did it! I made it through with up to 8 hours of meditation a day and waking up at 4:30 am. FOR two weeks!…but of course I often at least once a day had to go off alone and meditate alone in the countryside. Overall I was at most of the meditation sessions and all of Katagiri’ talks. I felt a very strong connection with him. I still do.
The theme of this summer retreat was KUGE, which means Flowers in the Sky. Flowers in the Sky became for me a deep transmission of something that I still cannot label. It still brings tears to my eyes. The thing is with all these clues and small realizations I still had years to go threw the worst of the OCD mental torment manifestations.
MORE ON FLOWERS IN THE SKY COMING!
Posted at 01:55 pm by spiritual OCD
Sunday, April 18, 2004
UPDATED June 2, 2004
In 1991 I went to the East Coast to go to Tibetan Buddhist teachings in New York for the Year of Tibet. There were many high lamas there and powerful initiations given including the Kalachakra held at Madison Square Garden with the Dalai Lama. Back in my old hometown! That was for 3 weeks. Then I went to Washington DC for another 3 week more specialized retreat.
The retreat was on the main Sakya teaching the Lam Dre. Translated as "The Path and Fruit". Other translations appear as "The Path Contains The Fruit" and "The Path within the Fruit". Or even "The Fruit Within the Path." Sounded alittle like Flowers in the Sky to me.
Sakya Trizan was "Vajramaster" for the retreat as the head teacher is called; a powerful title in the lexicon! Vajra meaning indestructible, diamond like. As I already starting to embrace "sacred vision" I viewed all matters especially "spiritual matters" as extra charged. Everything that occurs translate into sacred view. But the "Universe" often plays tricks on one, as Trungpa would say. And when that someone has OCD? You can imagine. Luckily there were a number of "normal" people close to me that ALSO had powerful syncronistic events and realizations.
Sakya Trizan was talking about the great Indian Mahasiddha (great magician) Virupa. He uttered a sentence that seemed to be revealing a self-secret Tantric principle. He worded the sentence in such a way that something was glimpsed. I have never really heard it said that way again. Virupa was practicing Tantra in secret being the abbot of Nalanda. After many years of practice all Virupa had to show for it was bad dreams and bad omens. He was very upset and threw his prayer beads into the toilet of his era. Then the next day a Goddess came to him and told him he misunderstood the signs. Then he was given teachings and gained the first 6 levels of enlightenment over six days. I’m still waiting to attain to 1/2 a level. And I was waiting back then in 1991 when I was taking this teaching in.
During the teaching to explain Virupa’s many obstacles Sakya Trizen said, "Virupa's obstacles ARE is attainments, his siddhis (powers)." Sakya Trizen did NOT say as I have read in many different translations of Virupa's short biography namely,"his obstacles are transformed into attainments." This, to me, is a very different statement then "ARE his attainments" and as I was one to get into the "mythology" of whatever I was spiritualizing, Zelig style, I started thinking about my mental illness of OCD with other coemergent factors as perhaps an attainment of some kind. What could this possibly be?
UPDATED 4/20/04: As we got deeper into the Lam Dre teachings a very important teaching phrase kept coming up. This was "the inseparably of samsara and nirvana." Samsara is ordinary mundane reality with its attendant psychological problems. Nirvana is the Spiritual Dimension. This fit nicely with my growing view of sacred world. Every previous clue as mentioned was being accumulated in my mind stream. There were many blooming Flowers in the Sky. But there were also many withered Flowers in the Sky blooming as well according to how I was viewing the totality of my experience.
Not only was I bringing into these Path and Fruit teachings my OCD but also my background as a Hypnotherapist and graduate studies in psychology and mathematics. At the time of the retreat I was a Hypnotherapist for over a year and saw many weird things minds can do in trance. My mathematics background was an excellent tool for sensing abstractions and thinking beyond concepts for many mathematical systems lie outside our ordinary 5 sense awareness’. My graduate work in psychology, philosophy and my personal therapeutic work with many psychotherapists and psychiatrists for over a decade gave me awareness of non-eastern approaches to the mind. But so far no therapies I tried for OCD nor depression helped much. No medications were helpful and I tried many with varying combinations. Desensitization was a disaster.
And so this is why I kept going back to the Buddhist views on mind. The Buddhist views on mind, the kabalistic connection and sacred view brought me closer and closer to realizing that OCD itself contained wisdom and a spiritual dimension. So when Sakya Trizen kept talking about the "inseparability of samsara and nirvana" this made sense in terms of sacred view. Precisely in samsara, ordinary existence, does nirvana manifest simultaneously. Sort of like Don Quixote’s visions. An ordinary inn really a castle in disguise and so on. But how can one tell which is real? And as stated especially someone with the doubting disease? Perhaps Don Quixote is making even more samsara. So whatever sacred view arose in my awareness I had a built in "Don’t Know Mind" with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I saw these differing views as Flowers In the Sky for as Katagiri Roshi said,"Even the Buddha’s teachings are Flowers in the Sky." So in a sense there were many Sacred Worlds vying for my attention.
I know this sounds convoluted but I was accumulating clues. And that is one of the things that attracted me to Zen in the first place; the twisted stories and koans. Even in that Emptiness class I took at Naropa when learning of the highest Buddhist philosophy, the Madyamika, and how it is not eternalism nor nihilism nor both eternalism and nihilism nor neither eternalism nor nihilism, I told Zazep Tulku that either I found real wisdom or I finally met people as crazy as me. Yes, there was something to these convoluted statements. These Mobius strips of thought. But what?
Then we came to a very important part of the teachings. This was about how everything, all phenomenon, both internal and external, has both a samsaric aspect and a nirvanic aspect. This is an underlying truth of the "Inseparability of samsara and nirvana." This also fits in with Virupa; that his obstacles ARE his attainments, his siddhis! Two aspects of reality; one ordinary and the other enlightened, simultaneously, on ALL levels of phenomenon INCLUDING mental illnesses such as OCD and depression!
If I were to believe these teachings then I should start to ponder the nirvanic aspect of OCD, the attainment it might be and the secret wisdom that it is precisely in its pure energetic state. And that is what I started to explore.
Before these teachings I sensed Sacred World by mostly recognizing syncronistic events, that my OCD might have an antecedent in ancient rituals such as kabbalistic numerology that I might be tapping into and the natural ability my OCD mind has for "DON"T KNOW MIND" of Zen with the teaching of Flowers in the Sky always there keeping my attachment in check and yet given the skylike space to bloom.
BUDDHISM and OCD update 6/1/04
If we define mental illness as not seeing reality as it really is then according to the Buddhist view we are all mentally ill to some degree.
What is seeing reality as it really is?
As KUGE teaches it is NOT stopping the myriad Flowers in the Sky but rather seeing who is behind the flowers blooming.
And that is you and is not you.
You can tap into these experiences of these seeming contradictions with meditation. The "contradictions" start to fade expanding the wisdom mind. Meditation also helps naturally quiet the mind. With a quieter mind one can "see" the patterns of our minds, of our life and of our world which are also a totality. We are then less fooled by every thought that flows through one. The Obsessions loosen and Compulsions lose their power. More and more with practice. Neuroplasticity. The brain actually starts to change!
This totality becomes more experiential with meditation and the opening of Buddha’s eyes as Katagiri Roshi would say. The terms such as Buddha are merely designations of something one can actually experience beyond the concepts. There are our ordinary human eyes and as wisdom opens the Wisdom eyes open or as Katagiri says Buddha eyes…Just terms…But it is important to keep in mind even Buddha’s words are Flowers in the Sky as mentioned earlier. Therefore it is not the terms or ways of expressing these possibilities that are important but rather the actual developing experience of the spiritual dimension of OCD or for that matter the spiritual dimension for the range of mental illnesses...
The Pure Energy of OCD and Tantra (update June 2, 2004)
As anyone with OCD can tell one there is an intensity involved. Obsessions are very intense and focused mental images, thoughts etc. that one cannot control by definition. They intrude on consciousness very powerfully. It is a focus but it’s a painful focus. What would happen if over time one gained control over this intense ability to focus? This would be transforming an obstacle into a power. This is the Tantric view of transformation. This is different then Virupa’s experience that his obstacles are his attainments but it is very close. Virupa was very advanced spiritually. Through certain meditation and visualization practices one can slowly gain control over the raw energy of obsessions.
The great artists, scientists, philosophers, athletes or car mechanics have strong focus (concentration) but it’s a positive focus unlike the OCDer. But as the OCDer learns to experience the raw energy of OCD in the midst of it and slowly transforms it’s manifestations into more positive focus the powers gained could be significantly greater then the artist or athlete etc. for as one learns and experiences the contrast as the transformation takes place which shows even more about the power of mind. This is an example of an aspect of the Lam Dre teachings; that there is a samsaric aspect and a nirvanic aspect of obsessions. The samsaric is the obsessions as they are painful and disrupting while the nirvanic aspect is the intense mental power. There may be other nirvanic aspects as well.
With respect to compulsions the uncontrollable urge to act is painful and disrupting hence samsaric. What could the nirvanic aspects be of compulsions? The psychiatrist that mentioned my adding license plate numbers looking for omens being a kabbalistic practice of finding meanings in the numbers of the Hebrew alphabet gave me a glimpse that perhaps a more spiritual way of looking at some type of compulsions as a mystic practice, a sacred ritual. Of course the OCDer has to be especially careful not to get carried away with this view for magical thinking is a large component of this complex mental illness. CONTINUING…
Posted at 05:00 pm by spiritual OCD
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
KARMA AND Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 6/7/04
Karma can be a useful term for OCDers. It is a very complex subject. Not at all as simplistic as merely cause and effect. There are many different types of karma. For example there is personal karma and the collective karma of human beings. There is the karma of all sentient beings and so on. They mingle and interelate and there are so many threads that keeping track of them is impossible. The Buddhist symbol for karma is the eternal knot.
Most people with OCD notice patterns. This connects with the need for symmetry, the reading into events as omens among other things. There is a great sensitivity to events and how they unfold or how we think they will unfold. And part of the obssesive compulsive pathology is the uncontrollable urge to control this unfolding. Fear is one of the main ingredients here. So we are aware of many simultaneous things; such as lookng at the digital clock and seeing a certain number just as the radio said something scarey. Sometimes the coinicdences are uncanny. I'm sure many of my fellow OCDers have experienced this. Now I have a background in Mathematics and I can sense when some coinciding events are way beyond statisitcal probability. Of course weird things happen but when one of these way out events occur more then once? Then something besides mere OCD is taking place. This is the beginning of my awareness of syncronicities as I mentioned earlier and the unfolding of karma...
The unfolding of karma is more clearly seen when certain events go together in a way that makes sense on some level. For example something that should not occur occurs and is out of the ordinary. It could be a simple happening and not necessarily groundshattering in the temporal sense but it is a seismic shift in one's sense of reality and part of the shift is caused by the OCD sensitivity, which is extreme, of course, but which calms down over time with growing discriminating awareness. MORE SOON...
Posted at 12:10 am by spiritual OCD
How did my obsessive compulsive disorder change over the years with these shifts of perspective?
I will break it up into three parts:
- The compulsions
- The obsessions
- Secondary symptoms
b) Social phobia
c) Other afflictive emotions
- THE COMPULSIONS
The decrease in compulsions is more clearly defined. Just as a starting point for example 10 years ago I would do ritualized behavior most of the day. It sometimes took me half an hour to get out of a chair. This never happens anymore. There became a separation in which rituals were pure OCD manifestations and which, perhaps, were related to the sacred dimension. As my experiences in the spiritual world grew other "nonmentally ill" friends were of great importance. For some of them too experienced way out syncronisiticies or had other such non-ordinary experiences and this gave me confidence that some of my views might not be the mental illness. But I seemed to experience vast quantities of these non ordinary situations. Friends and even some of my therapists would have "non-ordinary" experiences around me as they would themselves tell me. This is one reason why I sensed that the OCDer is attuned to this sacred dimension.
Also my mind slowly had more control over itself. This was one of the benefits of meditation. And it is this mind that is the key to working with the compulsions. I started with compulsions versus obsessions since the actual obsessions took longer to be workable. This does not negate the fact that it is my mind that learned control of the compulsive aspect. MORE SOON!!! KEEP COMING BACK!!! YOUR SUPPORT IS APPRECIATED!!!
Some people have asked me to include some books and other research materials that may prove helpful. I will give this list over time. I know some of my more Buddhistic views are not so easy to understand and with your questions, comments and emails you are helping me to flush out and make these perspectives clearer and clearer. Also I would appreciate if you can let me know how you came to find this blog. Here is a quick list: Treatment of the Obsessive Personality by Leon Salzman (The best overview; especially the chapter on Magical Thinking)
The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing by Judith Rapoport (great sentence; namely she is amazed how OCD shows there is a chemical basis of Will). The Mind and the Brain : Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey M. Schwartz (Excellent and uplifting; shows how the mind using Buddhist Mindfulness can actually transform the brain; which is what I always surmised) He also wrote Brain Lock utilizing Buddhist Mindfulness. I will discuss how these books added to my evolving views soon. Most of the OCD literature did not awaken me much. But these books had some interesting phrases and ideas that further confirmed my own expanding view but it is mostly the Buddhist literature combined with these OCD books that together awakened and confirmed my growing sensitivitiy to the possiblity of the Spiritual Dimension of OCD.
How About Medication? 7/4/04
As to medications as an adjunt to this transforming view the following has been helpful. First off I tried all the basic OCD meds including Anafranil, The SSI's and so on and not one helped me at all. They made the depression worse with terrible side effects. Dilantin helped for a short time. The ONLY medication that even remotely helped consistently has been ULTRAM (generic-Tramadol) There have been several studies using Tramadol and this is why I asked my Doctor 5 years ago to give this a try and he was willing.
OCD and the Law July 12,2004
I also have been working with a homeopathic Doctor for the past 6 years and I believe this has helped with the depressive aspects.
But OVERALL without the corresponding shift of viewing OCD merely as a Mental Illness to the larger view of the Spiritual Wisdom of OCD I believe these medications would not have been satisfactory.
How does legal issues deal with the spiritual dimension of OCD? Well according to the view of Karma one may find themselves involved with situations that according to statistical probabilites should not occur. Therefore one may find themselves in bizarre situations that may have a legal compontent. Most peace officers do not have proper training dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or most Mental Illnesses.
I thank all of you readers whom found your way onto this site.
I hope you find something of interest here. Feel free to ask questions for clarification.
Even to whet your appetite so you find yourself coming back often to experience, perhaps, the unfolding Spiritual Dimension.
Also I thank the many email comments and your own ideas on these explorations.
Posted at 12:12 am by spiritual OCD
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
ADDICTED TO PAINFUL THOUGHTS
ADDICTED TO PAINFUL THOUGHTS 9-22-04
There is an addictive and perhaps a seductive element of OCD to painful thoughts. This aspect starts to manifest as one's OCD loosens. This probably occurs with depression as well but the intensity is more workable.
There are three basic types of thoughts:
There are shades of each and/or thoughts can change catagories over time and/or with new life experiences BUT at a given tme the overall feel of a thought is one of the above three.
By feel of a thought is meant the emotional aspect.
In OCD obsessional thoughts usually are of the second type but neutral intruding thoughts can also occur. In this case it is not the content of the thought that causes the discomfort but the repetitive nature such as hearing a song over and over again. With negative thoughts it is both the content and the repetitive nature that intensifies the obsessions causing real emotional chaos and pain.
If one has positive repetitive thoughts would that lead to discomfort? Again this is not the content of the thoughts. So would the uncontrolable thinking of positive thoughts lead to pain? If not, perhaps, through mind training etc. this can be a way of using the obsessional energy for well being.
To be more precise for a thought to be called positive it must "feel good", so would that uncontrolable "feeling good" turn to irritation eventually and then full blown obsessions?
WHAT ARE YOU PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH THIS? Ideas?
Posted at 08:39 pm by spiritual OCD
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Here are some of the new topis that will be filled out over time.
1) OCD and Homeopathy
2)OCD in Literature and the Media
a) What can be learned from the creative mandala?
3) Playing with the Opposite of your Obsessions and/or Compulsions
a) a form of Mind training
4) How Meditation creates space within and how this leads to more Mind Training abilities. Mindfulness meditation for depression and OCD. The new research on mindfulness meditation for depression gives hope.
1/14/05 I am trying to organize this blog so it flows naturally; so if there is anyone interested in helping that would be greatly appreciated and I would make a personal hypnosis CD for working with your OCD or any other issues. As you know I am a certified hypnotherapist with over 15 years experience.
I have many techniques which will be helpful to OCDers so any suggestions or help with editing, organizing etc. again will be appreciated.
Posted at 12:50 am by spiritual OCD