Vipassana hangover

tldr: Vipassana meditation makes you dissociate from your emotions (which “you” are), by focusing on physical sensations (which “you” are not). This habit makes your emotions numb. Undo the habit in order to feel the emotions again, so that you may become free of them, and not merely dissociate from them.

When a former Vipassana meditator (Goenka style) comes to practicing the Actualism Method, there is a distinct danger of carrying over the “body scanning” attitude developed on the meditation cushion. This pollutes any sincere exploration (see Determine cause and effect (and succession)), because awareness stops short (thanks to Vipassana “habit”) of physical sensations, never going any deeper.

These physical sensations tend to be the instinctual after-effects, typically in the throat, chest, belly area. The root cause of any feeling cannot be found in these sensations.1 They are a dead-end. An actualist needs to ignore them, as well proceed straight ahead (using Naiveté as an aid to deprogram oneself) into “my” abyss, via feeling it out.

Something to remember here is that despite the serious-sounding phrasing of that last sentence, this whole exploration business is actually rather effortless (see Effortlessness).

When proceeding in this manner, you may realize that a bunch of disparate triggers end up converging on some aspect of “me”. The whole exploration narrows down to some simple aspect of the psyche … and just like that – poof! – a part of of “me” is gone, or at least began to weaken.

  • We choose how we feel, which makes it possible to choose to feel good, rather than continue feeling bad, as long as the affectiveness awareness is there in place of whatever level of habitual dissociation.
  1. Emotions arise before physical sensations, which is where Goenka’s theory has gone wrong (which posits the causality the other way). See Richard’s Selected Correspondence: On Vipassana.