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Thread: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

  1. #1

    Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Hello everyone,

    Ive just joined this forum. Been lurking here for a very long time, and have found the material here very useful. A big thank you to all of you. The material here has been very useful and transformative for my practice.

    Anyways, Id like to get your thoughts on how one deals with anxiety/obsessive compulsive disorders.

    Does one mindfully carry out ones compulsion? Does one delay carrying out the compulsion as far as possible? If anyone has dealt with this in this forum, Id love to hear from you!

    My own approach is the following: For a long time, I would try to avoid carrying out the compulsion, and try to suppress the obsession. It failed miserably. I would try to 'logically' explain the obsession away. Finally, I decided to carry out the compulsion as many times as I would like. However, that doesn't seem to be working either, and seems to be leading to all kinds of new compulsions.

    Anyways, over the last 2 days, I'm employing a slightly different approach. I just pay attention to whatever arises. Kind of like Shikantaza, except it has to be done 24/7 in my case. I don't prescribe to any one approach - saying that I will carry out my compulsions or not. I am trying to pay attention to whatever arises and see where that leads me.

  2. #2

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Best wishes to you and welcome to the forum.

    Your topic is well beyond my ken.

  3. #3
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    In my experience, Zazen can both alleviate stress and it can also cause a great deal of stress.

    Zazen is not a technique specifically designed to correct a particular psychological problem. Awareness can in and of itself correct certain tendencies of mind, but a psychiatrist or psychologist is probably better suited for dealing with such issues as OCD. Zazen may be a good complement to therapy, however.

    IMHO.

    Chet (a Zen practitioner who has had to deal with his own mental illness).

  4. #4

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    disastermouse, i was wondering what you might mean by zazen creating a great amount of stress?

    so far, in my experience, zazen has brought up repressed issues that i've had to deal with. In that sense, zazen has been 'stressful'.

    The interesting thing about my OCD is that it's helped me discover layers within layers of assumptions that I've been making. For example, I've discovered at, in a certain sense, I am an obsessive thinker, compulsively trying to seek some kind of security through my thoughts. I'm also obsessive about my emotions, compulsively trying to make them pleasant.

    Then there's Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz's 'four step' approach, that involves a certain disinterested observance of the obsessive impulse while not trying to carry it out. The parallels with shikantaza are definitely there.

  5. #5

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    I think a lot of us are maybe a little obsessive compulsive some days. Don't think I'm making fun of your situation.

    Really I couldn't say much about that. Our tendencies and habits form in different ways. Mine was complete sense of self and anti social behavior; including yelling and tensing, paranoia, getting angry and so on, every time I went outside, shopping etc.. I don't know what happened, but constant practice will change that. It's not an over night fix. However, it is important to not discriminate (as I've learned). To just let things be without trying to change anything, and continuing to sit.

    I am an obsessive thinker, compulsively trying to seek some kind of security through my thoughts. I'm also obsessive about my emotions, compulsively trying to make them pleasant.
    Yeah. This is important here. The most important is not trying to do anything with it. That means not "trying", but noticing. If you continue, no problem. keep letting it come and go until you "drop it" , would be the word here I guess.

    Trust me. Your not alone.

    Feeling the overwhelming need to what?... touch something repetitively, is based in the same condition that craves chocolate or distraction. You hear it a lot. "I must have my morning coffee. If I don't I get edgy." That might seem harmless in comparison, but if said with honesty, it's really not that different. It's a condition, a "habit" that we have acquired over time. So it takes time to work it out.

    Anyway, I can relate in other ways. I think a lot of us can.

    So it's important to remember that there's really nothing wrong or different about you. If anyone tells you that, they need to look a little more deeply into their own practice. So take it moment to to moment and just allow it to come and go. Do what you do, but sit as well (without a goal of course

    Don't expect to drop it quickly or in a week. It's a process.

    Gassho

    W

  6. #6
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Quote Originally Posted by zeta
    disastermouse, i was wondering what you might mean by zazen creating a great amount of stress?
    Keep sitting and you'll no longer wonder.

    Chet

  7. #7

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by zeta
    disastermouse, i was wondering what you might mean by zazen creating a great amount of stress?
    Keep sitting and you'll no longer wonder.

    Chet
    Not if you don't try to get anything from it, or try to do anything with it. It will do the opposite actually.

    If your sitting there trying to "do something" of course it's going to be stressful. Also, we don't have to sit for 40 minutes or 2 hours all the time. Especially if we are struggling to sit for 25 or 30 minutes. Take it easy.

    Gassho

    W

  8. #8

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Quote Originally Posted by zeta
    I just pay attention to whatever arises. Kind of like Shikantaza, except it has to be done 24/7 in my case.
    Sounds like it couldn't hurt . . . just don't expect it to change anything, it may change your behavior or it may not, either way, being more attentive to the what is happening right now is rarely a bad idea.

    Be easy on yourself. Be grateful for your life and even your OCD . . . things are just as they should be, but it is OK to change things that need to be changed.

    Peace,
    Bill

  9. #9
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by zeta
    disastermouse, i was wondering what you might mean by zazen creating a great amount of stress?
    Keep sitting and you'll no longer wonder.

    Chet
    Not if you don't try to get anything from it, or try to do anything with it. It will do the opposite actually.

    If your sitting there trying to "do something" of course it's going to be stressful. Also, we don't have to sit for 40 minutes or 2 hours all the time. Especially if we are struggling to sit for 25 or 30 minutes. Take it easy.

    Gassho

    W
    The stress does not come from trying to 'do something'. One will come face to face with one's hidden agendas - and just saying 'drop it' will not cause those agendas to go away - nor will it always unseat one's attachment to them. Sitting with these things is sometimes very difficult and very fierce.

    Chet

  10. #10

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Sitting with these things is sometimes very difficult and very fierce.
    Alright. If you say so.

    Gassho

    W

  11. #11

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    I think that life itself because of the strong desire to live has a tendency towards obsessive compulsive thinking and doing. I am grateful that thru sitting I am sometimes able to take refuge and enjoy just being.

  12. #12

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Quote Originally Posted by zeta
    Hello everyone,

    Ive just joined this forum. Been lurking here for a very long time, and have found the material here very useful. A big thank you to all of you. The material here has been very useful and transformative for my practice.

    Anyways, Id like to get your thoughts on how one deals with anxiety/obsessive compulsive disorders.
    Hi,

    I am very much out of my range of knowledge on this issue, and unfortunately I have no particular experience in dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. So, all I can offer you are some very general statements ... I am sorry about that, and will try to find a Zen teacher (through the Zen teacher's association ... yes, there is one ) who may be more familiar. If so, I will introduce you confidentially.

    1- As some have said, your Zazen practice should be a supplement to seeking 'standard' treatments from experts and physicians specialized in your condition. There is nothing about Zen practice that can contradict that, nor should it.

    2- You have to find out what practices and responses work best on yourself, as not "one solution fits all" for a tough case like this. Zen practice, and Buddhist meditation, is a very large bag of tricks. It may even be, for example, that some particular practices of the Vipassana or Tibetan schools may be more effective than our practice here in your particular case, I do not know (I am not saying that there are such other practices that will be more or less effective, I really have no idea).

    3- That being said, I would imagine that some of what I spoke about yesterday in my talk during the Zazenkai would be very appropriate to your case ... awareness as the compulsion arises, holding the compulsion in mind as an object with equanimity, seeking to drop the compulsion (as we drop any thought or emotion in Zazen, and especially excess emotions and harmful thought chains), seeking to "replace the seed" of the compulsion, etc. Please give that a listen ... perhaps one or more of those practices will be of particular help (Zen and Buddhism offers a whole bag of tricks).

    01:50 - 02:30 DHARMA TALK & ZAZEN
    http://blog.beliefnet.com/treeleafzen/2 ... i-n-1.html

    4- This is no more scientific than google, but I did find an interesting recent study on the issue ..


    Study: Zen Meditation Really Does Clear the Mind
    Could help free the mind of distractions, new brain scans reveal
    Posted September 2, 2008

    By Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience

    The seemingly nonsensical Zen practice of "thinking about not thinking" could help free the mind of distractions, new brain scans reveal.

    This suggests Zen meditation could help treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (so-called ADD or ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, major depression and other disorders marked by distracting thoughts.

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/science/ ... _print.htm
    Again, learning to be aware of thought and emotions as they arise, to see them as a bit of mind created "theatre", and learning to drop excessive thoughts and emotions is at the heart of our practice. I would imagine that such a practice would be helpful to your case.

    I am sorry that I do not have more to offer.

    Gassho, Jundo

  13. #13

    Re: Dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

    Thank you everybody. Jundo, thanks - I shall check out the links.

    In a certain sense, this is largely an experiental process, one has to try and find what works best with oneself.

    Having an anxiety/OCD situation definitely provides a lot of material for practice. A lot of my hidden assumptions have been brought into light. My assumptions with regard to fear have been brought out. I would constantly (probably like everybody else) categorize my mental state into categories such as 'happy', 'sad', 'excited', 'confused', 'fearful', 'anxious' and so on. For each state, I (like everyoone else) would have a set of heuristics. i.e, if I'm happy, try to continue the state of happiness as far as possible. If I'm fearful, it would either be a 'fight' or 'flight' response. And so on. What OCD has helped me do is stay with the sensation as it is, examining it and it's attendant thoughts (kind of like Vipassana).

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