I recently left a comment but felt compelled to write you directly.
About 3 years ago, I first started reading your blog and your teachings resonated deeply in me.
I went out and gave Jimmy a lot of cat food, attempted to stay with the I-thought for a while but got stuck on my usual methods of meditation (concentration meditation and vipassana) and thus gave up.
At this time i really got into listening to devotional music as well. I would lay on my back on the cool tile floor with headphones on and let go of everything else.
I also have a bad back, and laying down like this was the only thing that brought relief. One day, however, the pain was severe, and even laying down like this did not help. In agony, I called out to the ??? and immediately a bright white light came from within and the pain was instantly relieved! I could barely believe it. Accompanied with this experience was a bliss of unimaginable quality that stuck around for days.
I was inwardly inspired to do something, but what that was I did not know yet. I did not have to wait long, however.
I began reading intensely about Jesus and His life of service. I felt I needed to do the same. So one day, i cooked up a couple pounds of chicken and got in my car and gave the food to the several homeless people in my area. The bliss came back, and it inspired me even more.
I was unemployed at the time, so I had free time up the wazoo. I continued my little feeding program. One day, I asked one of the homeless guys if there were any others doing what I was doing, if anyone else was serving them and he said yes. It was a small shelter/feeding program in the next city over, so I went to pay a visit.
I just went in there and introduced myself and asked if they needed any volunteers. And they did.
Within a few months of serving everyday, the director offered me a paid position which I accepted. I worked with the homeless with mental illness, advocating for them to get housing and whatever else they needed.
But after a few months, I began to become depressed and so badly, my boss requested I go see someone.
I was diagnosed as bipolar and by second opinion, schizophrenic. I stopped all meditation and became a medicated zombie.
I ended up losing the job as well.
Fast forward a year and some months--the medication no longer zombifies me and I feel a lot better.
My desire to continue my practice has become strong again, but I don't want to go down the same path of concentration, I want to be free. I realize now that that is what I have always wanted.
How do I begin with self-inquiry without getting sucked into my old methods?
Your guidance and comments are supremely appreciated.
Don't look within. Don't observe. Instead FEEL within for the sense of I, the sense that I am alive and I exist.
Listen to sacred music a lot. Muktananda style and Krishna Das are very good.
As you are looking for the I-sense, and emotions come up, don't just observe them but take them into your heart. Make a home for them in your sense of I. Accept the feelings; love them.
Depending on your medications, you might want to gradually cut the dosage, but ask your treating physician. Medications such as Zoloft, Prosac, Lamyctal, will "level" moods and emotions, and much decrease their reality and intensity leaving you a bit lifeless.
If you are taking anti-psychotics, such as Thorazine, they will zombify you, and after a while, you won't feel like you are a zombie from inside, but you will remember a time when feelings were more alive and real. Antipsychotics are superstrength tranquilizers, and really screw up one's ability to feel within.
On the other hand, duloxetine 30mg does not cut the intensity of feelings so much.
Manic depression is a frequent official diagnosis for many into spirituality, and the mood swings can be do to opening one's heart to deeper feelings, as opposed to to the diagnosis of manic/depression for someone not tuning in to their insides.
The key is to stay away from Vipassana-style observation, and get into feeling. Learn how to bring the bliss of chanting into your heart to "lighten" you, but it also teaches you how to bring emotions into your heart.
Emotions and openness are gateways to the Self.
Your "spiritual" experiences of the past show you have talent in this area. Just keep going with confidence.