Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

This is the place to post whatever questions you have related to the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. The rest of us will do whatever we can to help you achieve a better understanding :)
Post Reply
Placebo
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:27 pm

Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Placebo » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:13 am

Hey everyone. I must say that this forum is a goldmine. I'll probably end up reading every past thread on here. So many of you guys explain things with such clarity that I'm often left in awe. :)

I suffer with Pure O which is a form of ocd where one has constant obsessive thoughts rather than compulsions like excessive hand washing etc. I read the Power of now and having been practicing presence. Sometimes I can stay aware for hours or even days and just let obsessive thoughts go which feels amazing.

But then sometimes I get completely defeated by horrendous negative thoughts loops and its as if I forgot the whole practice. This can also last for hours or days.

They obviously hit me when I'm not conscious enough but they hit me like a freight train. Its like I have a fear of getting stuck in the loop and when I fear it, it happens. Its like a knee jerk resistance when I don't even feel like I'm trying to resist. Then I try to step out which sometimes works depending on the momentum of the negative thoughts and physiological tension. Its like I get sucked into a vortex and can't get out. Its extremely stressful, scary, and irritating.

I have a huge pain body from a bad childhood and tried to escape my mind for 17 years through substance abuse. Luckily I'm clean now and never looking back. Anyway I think that years of trying to push thoughts and anxiety away created a very strong habit that's ingrained in my head so its like a knee jerk reaction to resist even if I'm trying not to. I'll put my attention back into my body and I'll feel enormous tension everywhere. So then I try just watch it but the tension just stays and doesn't dissolve. I guess I must be looking at it with resistance during these times. This leads to thoughts that its not going to go away which leads to more tension and thoughts. Other times when I'm very present I can watch it and it does dissolve.

Other than when happens though I'm able to stay present to a good degree and this stuff is easily dismissed. But other times I get stuck in it completely.


Thanks guys

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6235
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Sighclone » Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:00 am

Placebo -

Welcome, thanks for the kind words.

Resisting thoughts is futile. You know that. So stop doing it. They are going to come up and thrash around until they don't.

Experiment with several meditation practices - a good place to start is "Wherever you go there you are" by Jon Kabat-Zinn...a classic and still very useful.

In your case, a mantra-based practice might be useful.

Try a technique that comes out of Neuro-linguistic programming. That theory kind of got debunked, but this technique is useful:

Welcome the next thought, whatever it is - welcome it into your present moment, but do not energize it, simply witness it. Your presence, your Awareness is a cauldron, a crucible and it is a vaporizer of thoughts and it is very very powerful - more powerful than any thought...way more powerful. Because your presence is the source of all thought. And your presence is full of Grace.

Another technique: Sit down close your eyes and decide to fully occupy the present moment. I mean be right with it - not one ten-millionth of a second ago, but right NOW. If a thought comes up, fine. Simply re-settle into the immediate present moment. Hint: You are the present moment...the Pure Awareness of the present moment. There is no time in the present moment, just stillness. Not Void, but simply a very potentiated stillness.

Also check out Colin Drake. He has a very kind way of expressing nonduality.

Also Amonda Maa - esp. the videos linked to "Watch" in the menu bar of her website:
https://www.amodamaa.com/ - she is my new favorite teacher!!

Be Well,

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

Placebo
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:27 pm

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Placebo » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:09 am

Hey thanks for the warm welcome. I'm going to look into all of your recommendations and yes I definitely know resistance is futile :)


This practice has really been changing my life. I can go through the day without getting irritated, I don't get bored (even when the present situation would bore almost anyone) I feel empathy and more connected with others and I don't let their unconsciousness get to me, and am much more patient.

It's just this one thought loop that I get stuck in. I'm not sure if i explained it well enough in the OP. I hope I'm making this clear enough. It's like a fear/obsession that I'll resist a thought or body sensation before they even happen, and that fear then makes me feel resistance and tension in my body like I'm on alert. When this starts happening when I'm not conscious enough, it can be incredibly hard to step out of because of my irrational fear that I can't get out when it hits me so hard, its like a knee jerk reaction where I can't stop resisting the automatic resistance because I feel so overwhelmed . It's very irrational and it builds and builds, I feel like it's actually driven me Looney a couple times.


Now when I'm very present, I can let go of this quick but I really have to be on my toes which luckily I am most of the time. But even when I'm fully present I have to keep letting this obsession go. Its incredibly frustrating to always have this pop into my head constantly and the fact that I can get stuck in this insanity every now and then is what keeps me fearing it.

I don't know if this could be considered a normal stumbling block for some people learning the practice or if only someone with obsessive disorder like me can get stuck in this ridiculous mind trap ha. What do you think? Have you heard of anything like this before?

User avatar
Webwanderer
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6453
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 12:03 am

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Webwanderer » Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:11 pm

Placebo wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:09 am
I don't know if this could be considered a normal stumbling block for some people learning the practice or if only someone with obsessive disorder like me can get stuck in this ridiculous mind trap ha.
Nah. Most all of us have our own stumbling blocks. What I find effective is to just be okay with it, knowing it won't last. Being okay with the fear and knowing it won't last work well together in de-energizing old habits. It takes a lot of the resistance out it. Indifference is a great energy killer to internal concerns.

WW

Placebo
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:27 pm

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Placebo » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:44 pm

Thanks WW that was very helpful. It just so happens that I just watched a short video saying exactly what you just said before I read this. :) https://youtu.be/-M1-TxRY-Ec

It's the fear of it not leaving that keeps it there just like with any other thought form or physical sensation. It's kind of funny in a way because I'm at a point in my journey where I can easily let go of upsetting past/future thoughts or anything unpleasant happening in the moment MOST of the time but that fear of being blocked from the present moment> tension>thoughts of not being able to get rid of the blockage/tension>more tension until I wanna go crazy cycle I just couldn't shake.

Over the last hour I just simply accepted the feeling of blockage (which isin't even real) then the tension dissolved in about 5 minutes. I'm sure it will come up again but that's ok.

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6235
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Sighclone » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:56 pm

Indifference is a great energy killer to internal concerns.
Typical of WW, this is short and settled in at the end of a paragraph, but is very powerful and true - thanks WW!!!

Regardless of their source or upside-down and backwards origin, like Placebo's, they are just thoughts...indifference means not loading them with any energy...just a noticing and then moving on.

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

kharr1sma
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:30 pm
Location: NH, USA

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by kharr1sma » Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:44 pm

You have no idea just how happy I am to read this post, Placebo! I just finished typing up a post, and then deleted it all and "ran away" because I was afraid it would sound too weird and I'd come across like a freak or something (one of my constant fears, among others.) With me, it's music... there's always one song or another playing away, and nothing I can do seems to stop it. I do okay with the verbal and imagery stuff, mostly from the past, I can catch myself before I get in too deep/too long, but the music thing... can't seem to get any traction with it at all. What a relief (I mean, I'm sorry you have to go through this) it is to hear somebody else struggling with something in such a similar manner!

I'm very new to all this... been in AA for 10 months, now, which got me to examining myself and thinking along more spiritual lines, and then this book literally falls at my feet from our bookshelf: "The Power of Now." Seen it before,some time ago, scanned the synopsis, but it never caught my interest. This time, I couldn't put it down for 3 days! Read Eckhart's other books, which sort of lateralled me over into Buddhist teachings... this thing is snowballing!

Anyway, I don't want to hijack this thread, just express my thanks. Now I'm sure I've found the right place!!

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6235
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Sighclone » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:31 am

Kharr -

I know I speak for all the regular members and moderators when I say we are always happy to have helped anyone!

You might enjoy exploring Scott Kiloby's center and projects: https://kilobycenter.com/

Scott is a friend and early member here.

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

Hmmimhere
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:13 pm

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Hmmimhere » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:23 am

Hey- this is actually my first post & im pretty new to tolle, but not the ideas/experiences behind it. Anyhow i am curious- op- hows it going for you?

I very much relate to that feedback loop you were describing. I recently started going to r.i meetings (recovery international) and they utilize what are called 'spots' which are pretty much brief mantras to repeat and try to remind ourselves of in moments of distress. One i use a lot lately is: "being comfortable is a want not a need" like you mentioned-- when you allow yourself to experience it you are able to watch it come n go...i guess fighting it is a form of engagement...im trying to handle similar patterns in myself.

Placebo
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:27 pm

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Placebo » Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:13 am

kharr1sma wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:44 pm
You have no idea just how happy I am to read this post, Placebo! I just finished typing up a post, and then deleted it all and "ran away" because I was afraid it would sound too weird and I'd come across like a freak or something (one of my constant fears, among others.) With me, it's music... there's always one song or another playing away, and nothing I can do seems to stop it. I do okay with the verbal and imagery stuff, mostly from the past, I can catch myself before I get in too deep/too long, but the music thing... can't seem to get any traction with it at all. What a relief (I mean, I'm sorry you have to go through this) it is to hear somebody else struggling with something in such a similar manner!

I'm very new to all this... been in AA for 10 months, now, which got me to examining myself and thinking along more spiritual lines, and then this book literally falls at my feet from our bookshelf: "The Power of Now." Seen it before,some time ago, scanned the synopsis, but it never caught my interest. This time, I couldn't put it down for 3 days! Read Eckhart's other books, which sort of lateralled me over into Buddhist teachings... this thing is snowballing!

Anyway, I don't want to hijack this thread, just express my thanks. Now I'm sure I've found the right place!!
How funny because I get the non stop music playing in my head too ha. What's been helping me is just when this happens with such momentum I just keep bringing my awareness to my inner body. Sometimes I'll have to do it over and over again. Even every couple of seconds for anywhere from ten minutes to an hour. It really sucks but it eventually stops. The mind can gain a huge momentum (like a tidal wave) but being in stillness as much as possible also has a momentum to where it can get stronger and stronger and you end up not minding the mind as much so to speak. Behind these mind games lies our true nature. We have to be able to see that this is the all mind and not our true boundless self. We have to witness the sufferer. So there is a watcher of the mind, but even behind that still, there's a seeing of the watcher who watches these thoughts 😃

Only fear can keep any kind of mind loop going because we are identifying with it. A thought has no power by itself. Its our belief and identification with them that give them their power. They are like parasites, a parasite can't live on its own. It needs to feed, and in this case it feeds on our fear or identification with them. So when we keep feeding it, it grows more and more powerful to the point that it seems impossible to step out of and leads to extreme tension, fear, and excruciating frustration.

It seems so simple when it is explained yet we can still get sucked into it even if we know it's rediculous. I still fall prey to it at times but its getting less and less. Sometimes it helps me to say "take your best shot" and that alone seems to take some power away from it.

So like I was saying, even when the mind momentum keeps building to monumental levels I just keep bring my attention to my inner body, even if I have to do it every 3 seconds. Then soon, I end up only having to do it every ten seconds then 30 seconds until eventually I don't have to do it at all. Then stillness gains of the momentum. Of course this only happens when my awareness/consciousness levels are low which is why its always good to rest in stillness even when your feeling great to make that stillness stronger.

Placebo
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:27 pm

Re: Help with sometimes getting stuck in ocd-like thought loops

Post by Placebo » Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:22 am

Hmmimhere wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:23 am
Hey- this is actually my first post & im pretty new to tolle, but not the ideas/experiences behind it. Anyhow i am curious- op- hows it going for you?

I very much relate to that feedback loop you were describing. I recently started going to r.i meetings (recovery international) and they utilize what are called 'spots' which are pretty much brief mantras to repeat and try to remind ourselves of in moments of distress. One i use a lot lately is: "being comfortable is a want not a need" like you mentioned-- when you allow yourself to experience it you are able to watch it come n go...i guess fighting it is a form of engagement...im trying to handle similar patterns in myself.

Well it is definitely getting better. I recommend reading my reply to Khaar where I go in depth on this. Mantras can definitely be helpful. I'm by no means a spiritual master ha. But I think I'm well on my way to realizing the true self. I actually have realized it many times but the habits of my mind still aren't fully tamed because of how
strongly I have identified with my mind and pain body my whole life. 😃

Post Reply