Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 4/23/09 6:13 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 4/23/09 6:22 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 4/23/09 10:56 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 4/23/09 11:27 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 4/23/09 11:56 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vincent Horn 4/24/09 3:12 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 4/24/09 10:35 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 4/26/09 6:51 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 4/26/09 10:14 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 4/27/09 8:44 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 4/27/09 9:05 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 4/27/09 9:21 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/3/09 1:44 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 5/3/09 7:13 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration beta wave 5/4/09 2:36 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/4/09 6:01 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 5/4/09 7:58 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/9/09 5:30 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/9/09 6:15 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/9/09 6:21 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 5/9/09 7:02 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/10/09 4:18 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/11/09 1:04 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 5/11/09 5:08 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/15/09 1:02 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/16/09 3:50 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/16/09 3:56 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/16/09 5:42 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/16/09 5:51 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 5/16/09 7:30 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/17/09 7:04 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/17/09 2:24 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/17/09 3:22 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/17/09 3:45 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/17/09 3:57 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/17/09 5:03 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Trent S. H. 5/17/09 5:19 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/18/09 10:16 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Ed clay vannoy 5/18/09 3:10 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/22/09 4:25 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/22/09 4:38 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration tarin greco 5/22/09 9:34 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 5/22/09 10:52 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/25/09 7:50 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Florian 5/25/09 8:29 AM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/29/09 2:41 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration tarin greco 5/29/09 9:57 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/31/09 8:44 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Vishal Lama 5/31/09 8:46 PM
RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration Wet Paint 5/31/09 9:50 PM
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 6:13 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 6:13 PM

Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

After reading all the posts on the 'Responses to Realization and Development' thread, my head has now started to spin. emoticon Since no one, recently, has asked any question on "concrete" practices, I would like to take this opportunity to ask my own, in the hope that the dharma elders or seniors could help me out a bit.

So, for the past couple of weeks, I have been devoting daily around 45-60 min doing mindfulness-based breath meditation. I pretty much count the in-and-out breaths from 1 to 8, followed by repetition. It usually seems like the meditation goes quite strong for the first 30 min, after which it sorta fizzles out. Usually, by the end of that period, very few thoughts hover in the foreground, while I keep my attention on the breath as much as I can. Well, I do lose attention from time to time, and the longest that I can keep my attention on the breath lasts maybe 1 minute or so.

Anyway, after the first 30 min, I seem to lose steam for some reason. I have checked and determined that 'sloth or torpor' is certainly not causing it, for neither my mind nor my body feels lazy. (I am using the set of five hindrances as a reference point, here.) It kinda seems like all other factors are in "check" except that 'anger or ill-will' is probably the main factor impeding my progress. Are there any concrete steps that I could take to ameliorate my situation?

Thanks,
Vishal
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 6:22 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 6:22 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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I should also quickly add that there are times when there is a feeling of "rapture" (I am not sure if I am using the correct word!) that seems to arise through the entire body but the moment I try to "investigate" it, it is gone! Also, this "rapture" sometimes seems to emanate from the top of the head, and following further investigation it again disappears. I have no issues related to body aches and such.
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 10:56 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 10:56 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Vishal

Thanks for this great down-to-earth practice question!

It seems you are leaning towards concentration in your practice. What happens when I do this is, after a while of really pushing the concentration, applying a bit of force to mainain it, there comes a moment when this application of force becomes unnecessary, even oppressive, and once I release it, or metaphorically step back a bit and let go of the handle, concentration will happily continue on its own, but if I continue pushing, it starts to wobble and veer this way and that.

Kenneth has this great "chicken herding" metaphor; check out his pages on "Jhana and √Ďana" and "Deeper into Jhana" in the "Practical Dhamma" section.

Another bit of imagery I've found helpful is that of teaching a kid to ride a bike - at first, you'll hold on tightly to the bike so the kid learns to be comfortable and can find balance and rhythm, but at one point, you can let go of the bike (still running along...) and they'll stay upright on their own.

Another way to look at the experience of "fizzling out" is the more insight-leaning interpretation of "third vipassana jhana", where the center of your object vanishes, and attention moves to the periphery. Thus, if you try to force your attention into the center (which is gone), you'll have a hard time, but if you again "let go" a bit, "step back", and take a wider, more inclusive view, attention will again settle, but this time on the perimeter, not in the center. No great rapture in this state, though.

I've given pointers to various states and ways of getting a handle of what's going on - I hope this is not confusing. Finally, I'm not a very advanced practitioner by any standard, just so you can place my thoughts on this.

Cheers,
Florian
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 11:27 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 11:27 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Florian,

Thank you!

It wasn't confusing at all. Indeed, it was very helpful, especially the part where you mentioned that the application of force becomes unnecessary beyond a certain point. Indeed, very often, after a while into a meditation session, I realize (suddenly!) that the breath is not noticeable or that it is not there anymore, following which my mind sorta goes into panic mode. Perhaps, I stopped breathing, or that I am not getting enough air! Those kind of thoughts inevitably arise. Then, once more, I bring my attention to the "coarse" breath. So, what concrete steps could I take so that such a panic mode doesn't arise and that I move on to the next stage as smoothly as possible?

I have read Kenneth's 'chicken herding' metaphor several times. (Maybe I should it read it again.) But, I was slightly unclear about those chickens. Those chickens do refer to thoughts, right? Also, given that my practice involves developing concentration, should I be running after those chickens? Or, is there a natural way to let go of concentration and move into insight territory?

Best,
Vishal
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 11:56 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/23/09 11:56 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Hi Vishal,

One strategy regarding the "vanishing breath" is to shift to other, more subtle, "whole body" or "energy" breath perceptions. This way, when the physical breath perception vanishes at the tip of the nose (or wherever you are observing it), there's still the rest of the body in your awareness. This is also a nice way to watch rapture spread throughout the body without pouncing on it.

There's a recording of a workshop given by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu where the Anapanasati Sutta is discussed in depth, with lots of practical advice like the above.

http://tinyurl.com/dzxqbf

Scroll down, it's a two-part recording called "The breath: A Vehicle for Liberation".

As to moving into insight territory - my entrace is always to look for oscillating, vibrating sensations. Here's the contrast:

When doing only concentration specifically, I go for a sense of continuity (in the breath, by concentrating on the smoothness, the beauty, the graceful continuous u-turns when in-breath turns around to out-breath), the even distribution of rapture throughout the body.

When doing insight specifically, I go for noticing as many changing sensations as I can catch: each hair on my upper lip being buffeted by the breath, each slight muscle tension or tremor in the abdomen, each little "dot" of rapture fizzing like the bubbles in carbonated drink.

Don't worry about the chickens.

Maybe play with a kasina object and see how that compares to breath concentration: there are common points and interesting differences, in my experience.

Cheers,
Florian
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Vincent Horn, modified 14 Years ago at 4/24/09 3:12 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/24/09 3:12 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Actually, there can be quite a bit of rapture in the 3rd vipassana jhana, but I don't think this is what Vishal is describing. It sounds more like 3 characteristics territory. All of your suggestions are very good here Florian. I would also agree with you, that at this point one could open up a bit and start noticing the three characteristics using whatever method makes sense (noting, body scan, whatever). Vishal, if you're trying to cross the A&P, this'll be the best way to do it.
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 4/24/09 10:35 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/24/09 10:35 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Florian and Vince,

Thank you very much!

Florian,

Oscillating and vibrating sensations do pass through my body during any sitting, but earlier I tried not to pay attention to them because I was too much focused on the breath, I guess, but then it also seems as if I was trying too hard. From now, I will see what happens when I pay attention to the sensations. I downloaded the audio files you recommended and I will be sure to listen to them.

Vince,

After you mentioned The Three Characteristics, I again read your blog post titled, "The Spiritual Map of the Elders", that you had written some time back and it does seem like I am in that particular territory. That was indeed a great help to me. Somewhat of a relief, too!

Best,
Vishal
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 4/26/09 6:51 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/26/09 6:51 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Ok, after incorporating Florian and Vince's suggestions/advice into my practice, over the last couple of days the "fizzling out" during my meditation sessions has disappeared! It is now possible to do a good 1-hr meditation with ease. I just have a couple of questions.

1) These days, during my meditation, I see (or rather, can conjure) images of people, scenery, etc. such that I can zoom in our zoom out to a large degree, if you will, of those images. That is, if I wish then I can get as close as possible to the objects in those images to get a detailed view or I can move back to get a bird's eye view. Also, I can fly around them and look at them from all possible angles, and so on. For the most part, these images are random but I can come up, it seems, with just about any image I wish to see.

Is there anything to all this? Am I practicing well? Is this natural? Or, am I just not doing things properly and thus wasting my time?

2) Also, of late, I have been having some pretty "strong" dreams, in the sense that in those dreams I am very much aware that I am dreaming and that I can, to a large degree, "control" the environment as well as the conversations I have with people in the dreams. Also, after I wake up, I can remember the dreams and can also pretty much go through the exact sequence that I went through in those dreams. Such dreams never occurred to me earlier.

Again, is there anything I should be looking into vis-vis such dreams?
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 4/26/09 10:14 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/26/09 10:14 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Hi Vishal,

"good" meditation with little physical discomfort, visions during meditation, spiritual dreams, lucid dreaming - to me, you're describing what goes by the name of "The Arising and Passing Away" or "The A&P" around here. Get acquainted with the maps of the "stages of insight", if you haven't done so, because the territory after the A&P is radically different, and the transition tends to be confusing and abrupt.

One teaching that's useful to know during the A&P is the one about the "ten corruptions of insight" - basically, what to look out for to avoid becoming too impressed with one's awesome meditation skills. In my case, I literally got fascinated with perceiving brightness for weeks on end. Once I started noticing how the brightness was tiled, with the individual tiles growing and shrinking, I progressed once again. Or it was all part of the process. Either way, a bit of conceptual knowledge at least helps pass the time, and maybe avoid common goof-ups.

Regarding the dreams and visions - I use a journal for my meditation and dream experiences. Reading back entries, patterns tend to become more obvious than they were at the time. I haven't had a good OOB dream or funky meditation vision for quite some time, and while I don't really miss them, it's fun to read about those times.

In summary: Enjoy it while it lasts, and don't neglect your practice when the clarity goes away.

Cheers,
Florian
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 4/27/09 8:44 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/27/09 8:44 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Florian,

Thank you very much, once again!

I wish to write here about some of the things, related or unrelated to my meditative practice, that I have been noticing for the past few weeks, so that in the future I can come back and read this entry. Who knows, perhaps a few beginners like myself on DhO may greatly benefit from this.

Though people talk about MCTB all the time on DhO and that I had read portions of it, I never really read chapter 24 ('The Progress of Insight') of Daniel's book until you told me to. Based on what I found in the section dealing with The Arising and Passing (A&P) stage, it does look like I am now in that territory. Here's a list of some of the novel stuff I have been experiencing (or had experienced, a couple or more weeks ago!) and (to my surprise) I found a lot of them mentioned in the book.

1) I have had lucid ("strong") dreams where I was aware that I was dreaming, and I could quite easily manipulate the environment as well as the conversations I had with people in those dreams. Unlike other kinds of dreams that I used to have before, after waking up from those lucid dreams I could recount more or less the exact sequence of events in those dreams.

2) Sometimes, during a sitting meditation, I can vividly see through my close eyelids objects in my room as if my eyes were wide open! At other times, some bright light, lasting for several seconds or so, seems to emanate in front of me.

3) Sometimes, there is "rapture" that permeates my entire body, but upon closer investigation it disappears. Often, rapture seems to begin from the top of my head before moving to the entire body, but again on closer investigation it goes away.

(to be contd.)
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 4/27/09 9:05 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/27/09 9:05 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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(contd.)

4) It is possible now to sit for an hour or so for my meditation without getting bored, lost or spaced out. The "fizzling out" that used to occur after around 30 min into a meditation session, a few days ago, has now gone away.

5) Most of the time, sexual feelings don't arise, but once in a while when they do, they arise with great force for several minutes before subsiding completely.

6) I am able to look at images (random or the ones that I myself choose) during my meditation sessions and zoom in and zoom out of 'em with relative ease. I can fly around them and look at them from all possible angles. I can see mathematical formulas/diagrams with great clarity in my mind.

7) There is a much greater propensity, these days, to listen to audio files containing dharma talks, which I regularly listen to on the Zencast and Audiodharma websites. Almost all kinds of music (except a few songs) sound like noise to me.

8) I also seem to be reading a great deal of the Buddha's discourses (Sutta Pitaka) available on the AccesstoInsight website. And, some time ago, it was not uncommon to dream about discussing or listening to some of the discourses.

9) But, sometimes, after listening to dharma talks or reading Buddha's discourses, there is a sense that all that conceptual understanding is not enough unless it is supported by real practice.

10) Sometimes, there is a sudden "awakening" - I use that word for lack of a better one - to a feeling/idea/realization that the "me" I had always assumed was a particular person now is someone completely different, a stranger.

11) It is now possible to note during meditation that with the arising of a particular thought, there immediately arises sensations in the body ("warming and cooling" sensations.)

I guess that's about it, for now!

- Vishal
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 4/27/09 9:21 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/27/09 9:21 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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And, I should definitely mention that lately I have also been reading and paying attention to Buddha's discourses on the training of morality (sila?). That is something that I earlier used to ignore, thinking that hardcore meditative practice is much more important than anything else. But, now there is a gradual realization of the importance of right intention/speech/action on one's meditative practice. So, I am much more careful about what I think or speak, and there is much less inclination for small talk/banter in real life or online. The Eight-fold path as a whole package is finally beginning to make sense!
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/3/09 1:44 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/3/09 1:44 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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I am not sure if I am in the Dark Night territory, but I would just like to "report" that over the past couple of days I have started to grow irritated/angry over small issues that never really bothered me before. There is a general sense of self-righteousness vis-a-vis the Buddha's teachings, and I can't fathom why the world is so ignorant of those teachings. In my mind, I am like "How stupid and ignorant can any one remain for such a long time! Haven't they grown tired of their suffering?!" My meditative practice has somewhat suffered: only half an hour a day! The fizzling out doesn't happen at the end of the first 30 min, and meditation does remain somewhat "strong", at least concentration-wise, but I just feel half an hour is enough. I guess the kilesas are manifesting in ways I had not envisaged?

After getting irritated with someone over something, upon observing my mental state I see deep rage that hasn't come out yet but wants to! Needless to say, I feel terrible about it, knowing very well that it wasn't like this just a week ago. There is a pervasive feeling that my mind has latched on to the Buddha's teachings, and nothing seems more important than those, now. I am now also generally disinterested in things like music, etc. Maybe this is just the 'insight disease'? DhO members (Kenneth, especially) talk about 'insight
disease' all the time, but I was wondering if some could elaborate further on it. What exactly are the symptoms? When and how does it arise? What is the cure? There must be a cure, after all it is a disease! Is it just a psychological thing? Or, something more?

Thanks!
Vishal
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 5/3/09 7:13 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/3/09 7:13 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Hi Vishal,

Being strangely reactive to people and things is just one of several indicators to watch out for. The quality of focus (wide, no good centerpoint) and the quality of vibrations (slow, dull drumbeat-like) are very useful pointers as well, and not so easily scripted by expectations. There's a nice table on Daniel's site detailing all kinds of manifestations in the various stages.

http://www.interactivebuddha.com/mctb.shtml

Don't neglect your meditation practice - if you can't sit for longer periods of time (frequent experience during the dark night), just do several shorter sits. I also do walking meditation (just strolling along, not formal pacing back and forth), and can recommend it.

Insight Disease - have you listened to the "Hurricane Ranch Dharma Discussion" recording? You can download it here, it's under the "Practical Dharma" heading. Basically, Daniel was joking about how crossing the A&P is like catching a disease, and meditating is the only cure (and yet apparently also the cause). A slightly cynical, modern metaphor for how the Dharma seems to drive people on past a certain point.

Practice well, as the say!

Cheers,
Florian
beta wave, modified 14 Years ago at 5/4/09 2:36 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/4/09 2:36 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Good advice! You'll be tempted to say that sitting isn't productive anymore, so why beat my head on the wall? But actually, this next stage is all about intimately learning what doesn't work. Investigate the reactivity and see how it comes out of nowhere and isn't particularly wise or grounded. Don't take it as a personal flaw, but something that you need to investigate like a scientist. Meditation will help by facing it head on. "Straight ahead" as the zen guys and gals say.

Good luck!
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/4/09 6:01 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/4/09 6:01 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Florian and betawave,

Thank you very much!

Florian,

It seems like you have become my mentor on the path and I am very glad you are! emoticon I have been reading portions from the 'The Progress of Insight' chapter in MCTB because I am somewhat apprehensive about reading everything to the point that I "internalize" all that I learn and then start to imagine those things happening to me! Just wanted to be a bit careful about that. Having said so, I am pretty much doing what you have been recommending me over the past (couple?) few weeks.

I have indeed listened to all the three "Hurricane Ranch Dharma Discussion" audio files several times now. And, that's where, I think, I first heard the phrase 'Insight Disease' used by Kenneth.

Thank you very much, once again!


Betawave,

You are right: the reactivity seems to come out of nowhere!
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 5/4/09 7:58 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/4/09 7:58 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Hi Vishal,

Do read the entire chapter on the progress of insight. I find it best to know this kind of stuff beforehand, and there are quite a few highly useful practice instructions in there.

Here's a condensed version of the same map from a different source:
http://www.vipassanadhura.com/sixteen.html
And I've also found reading "Practical Insight Meditation" by the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw a great reference; it's available online at Google Books.

If you're not that much into map-mongering at the moment, well, that tends to happen during the dark night (didn't happen to me, though). Still, read that chapter.

I'm glad my tips are helpful to you, but I'm really not far ahead of you on the path, having gone through the dark night several times and recently entered into equanimity, after some backsliding - so actually we're in this together, in this invaluable community of spiritual friends. Luckily for us, there are quite a few highly experienced practitioners here, so I feel safe giving advice emoticon

Cheers,
Florian
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/9/09 5:30 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/9/09 5:30 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

Hi Vishallama -

Thank you for this post - your report has been very similar to something I could have written about this time last year. Unfortunately, I did pretty much stop sitting for a pretty long time.

What Florian said about the maps seems to be true in my case,. I am really geeked about the maps right now. If you have not done so already, I highly recommend going back and reading Daniels book cover to cover, even if you think you understood parts of it pretty well. I am finding out first-hand that it is dripping with tips and pointers and explanations that I missed (I had only read parts) or that I am seeing in a new way and I am confident you will be ripe for new information.

There are a few things I found useful for making the meditation "fun" again. I would love to hear anyone comments on the value of these techniques. One thing I did was try to find triggers. I would use that moment to establish my breath, much like at the start of meditating. I focus on the breath . Maybe 10 seconds, maybe even a minute or two. Long enough to make the breath really comfortable. I would abide in that stillness for only a short time, then I would gradually open my awareness by noticing everything around me. Sound, smell, feeling of clothes, temperatures, etc.. This "opening" might be a matter of seconds. Then I would go about my business.

A trigger I use is when I turn the key in my motorcycle. It is my primary vehicle so that is at least 2x/day for work/home. Then if I go somewhere, that is a "bonus'. emoticon Another trigger was heating water for tea. 2 minutes. Perfect amount of time for a good trigger. I added new triggers if I dropped others. It was sort of a concentration game and also the minute after establishing the breath, it seems (for me) to help tune you in to impermanence. Everything, noise, sound, light, sensations. Vibrations are easily sensed at this point.(cont..)
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/9/09 6:15 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/9/09 6:15 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Author: WayneWI

Another thing that was helpful was a sort of "thought noting". I use regular noting in this way too but what I call thought-noting was perhaps a grosser daily application that helped me dig up some morality issues I needed to look at (probably still more under "there"). What I do seems to help me in two ways. First, when "thought noting" my mind is not spinning into unhealthy thoughts. All of a sudden I am investigating thoughts. If highly unskillful thoughts are present, they are pretty obvious thus good for observation (You have broken the feedback loop and poof - they pass away like everything else). Second, if I was going about my daily life and remember to "note" my thoughts, what I do is attempt to trace back my thoughts to before I remembered to note them and look at dominant voice. This was effective for bringing unskillful intentions to the surface. Incidentally, I use triggers for noting too. The triggers are anger, frustration, impatience, insecurity, "wired-ness", suspicion. Pretty much whenever I felt aversion or strong sense of "self", it seemed a good time to investigate intentions.

I have also found "active rest" to be helpful when I did not feel I could meditate. (Link to instructions: http://www.mediafire.com/?bzg4amd3qn1) This is simply laying flat on your back and relaxing wile observing everything around you. It is a good 10-20 minute time-out. Eyes open (so don't fall asleep). Sometimes I meditate in the morning and active rest during lunch or after work.

Lastly - I did ask a monk about the difficulty in concentrating and hitting the wall. His advice? "Stop meditating!".. and I am pretty sure he did not mean stop sitting;).

Any feedback or ideas/things your finding that help you would be great to hear!

Cheers.

Wayne
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/9/09 6:21 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/9/09 6:21 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

Oh sorry - and how that all made the meditation more fun? emoticon

I think these little "practices" incorporated into my day helped me appreciate some of the subtler aspects of meditation. It is now not so forced and more natural. If I cannot gain concentration - big deal, I look at some vibrations for awhile. I know I have to work through the concentration issues, but when I let go of it, it seems that my progress into that territory has been less stressful (not sure if any faster though). But at least it let me relax about it enough to pick up regular, daily, solid practice again. I look forward to my meditation time and even get up early for it again.

Hope this helps.
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 5/9/09 7:02 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/9/09 7:02 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Wayne,

Great points!

I use what you call triggers, and can recommend it highly. I have an office job, and I set up a "typing break" on my computer to remind me of relaxing my wrists, back, and eyes every so often, and I use these moments as an opportunity for practice also.

Regarding the "thought noting" - Shinzen Young has a very geeky, technical take on Metta practice, which would build quite naturally on your thought noting practice. Again, I do this myself, and recommend it. It's the "spiritual alchemy" article on the "articles" section of his page http://shinzen.org

Introducing a light, "fun" attitude into meditation is also a great point. All this talk about dark nights tends to imply a grimness that absolutely need not be there, or at least need not be encouraged. As Kenneth points out, there's no point in indulging in some weird protestant guilt-trip about having a good time in meditation. Meditation experiences can be unpleasant or pleasant - as long as the feeling tone is noted (or otherwise noticed), these are equivalent.

Cheers,
Florian
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/10/09 4:18 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/10/09 4:18 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

Florian - You were correct - Shizen young has a style I find appealing.

"The The Icky-Sticky Creepy-Crawly It-Doesn't-Really-Hurt-But-I-Can't-Stand-It Feeling" article on the same page you pointed to was very interesting to me since I experienced the exact thing about a week ago. It was like something had gone wrong. Thanks for that.

~ Wayne
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/11/09 1:04 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/11/09 1:04 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
More report:

For a week now, I haven't practiced! I encounter, every now and then, mental states that I think correspond to irritation/anger and which are "hellish" - that's the best description I can come up with. I don't want to be drawn to them but they arise every now and then. And they pass away on their own, eventually.

About a week ago, there were several moments during the course of a particular day when the feeling was that of "waking up" to the reality "within" - again that's the best description I can come up with. It was akin to waking up from a sleep but a different kind of sleep!

I must get back to regular practice, again.
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 5/11/09 5:08 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/11/09 5:08 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Vishal,

Just start practicing again, without making a fuss about the past week. Building and keeping up a regular meditation schedule is a lifelong task - I think Hokai wrote this some time ago.

Cheers,
Florian
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/15/09 1:02 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/15/09 1:02 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

Hello Vishallama - I encourage you to investigate these "hellish" moments as they arise. Be aware of your aversion to them. Keep noticing, even when it begins to dissolve. Try walking meditation or noting, something more active if your having trouble sitting.

I still face strong anger and delusion and I wish I had not stopped practice when I did. I encourage you to continue. Don't worry, and do not focus so much on making progress, work on making a schedule (strong habit).

I am not sure if your "hellish" feelings are similar to mine.. and I would would like to tell you mine have gone away. But if anything, I notice them more than before (although I hope I am not acting on them in the same way I used to). Now I try to notice the feeling (like the trigger I talked about), then look at the dominant thought (usually a form of aversion) and how it is affecting my breath, etc.. Try not to become enamored with the energizing aspects of the feeling and investigate deeply the aversion that dominates the feeling.

I hope this helps.

Wayne
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 3:50 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 3:50 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Florian and Wayne, thanks for those useful suggestions! I incorporated those into my practice in more ways than you can imagine!

-------------

Report:

I am back on track again! Managing now half an hour of sitting practice with a couple or more of sittings everyday, the "hellish states" have faded away. And, I think this has been possible with the noting of the Three Characteristics - especially, no-self, with impermanence and suffering closely following on its heels - at the level of mental thoughts (fabrications?) during almost every moment of waking hours, and such a noting happens almost in real-time, so to speak. Suffering has indeed faded.

Last night, something different happened. As soon as I read the "Bahiya sutta", a translation for which reads as follows,

"In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed [2] will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized. Practising in this way, Bahiya, you will not be 'because of that'. When you are not 'because of that' you will not be 'in that'. And when you are not 'in that' then you will be neither here not beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the end of suffering.",

it triggered an intense desire/longing to sit for meditation, which I did for 20 minutes. But this time, there was no getting lost in thoughts. Right from the beginning to the end of that 20 min period, there was noting of the rise and fall of each thought with a great deal of rapidity, that I earlier thought wasn't possible. I didn't care to do any concentration practice, for I was naturally led into insight mode. Ten minutes into the meditation, all thoughts were stopped/suspended and the mind entered a very pleasant state (with a somewhat bright light in the foreground).

(to be contd.)
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 3:56 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 3:56 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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(contd.)

The mind remained suspended in that pleasant state for more than 10 seconds, and the head felt light; it feels light even now after waking up this morning. The anger/irritation that I talked about in my earlier posts have now vanished, so to speak. There is a sense of relief but really there is no "person" ("I") sensing that relief! Does this make sense at all? I feel like I am on the edge of something; just don't know what it is!
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 5:42 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 5:42 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

Vishallama - Thank you for that descriptive report. I am happy to see that you are experiencing some relief. It seems we are at similar stages in our meditation so I do not have further suggestions or advice at this point emoticon Your doing what I am doing at the moment.

I have not been fretting about it much since there is so much yet for me to gain from Daniels book. I have been focusing more on developing a strong practice than my attainments. I too have lightened my concentration practice to most often to only the first few minutes of meditation and go directly into insight practice. It does not seem at this time that my concentration has suffered greatly for it. Maybe even it improved a little. I have what (I think) are many rapid "rapture" moments. Mostly pleasant but not all. The shapes/lights I see are not as 3-D as the experience you previously described. I have minimum control over them and they are almost always green and more "jellyfish" like and move like smoke. I cant really make them appear but it is not unusual for them to spontaneously arise. I have seen them for some time and don't really get involved with them but I have noticed them more often lately. Rapid pulses/fluctuations/movement in skin temperature are also apparent when I feel I am getting deeper into insight territory.

Do you sense that concentration is something that you will want to return to? I have been feeling that I could make further progress in my insight practice if I built a better foundation in my concentration practice.

I don't know if you have been following this thread: http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/1825908/How+to+minimize+unprofitable+discussion In post #'s 18 & 19, there is a a really interesting idea offered and a great response that suggests ways to effectively implement the idea here. Seems like a potentially cool tool for developing practice and really pushing the format, eh?
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 5:51 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 5:51 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

Also - I read this earlier this morning: http://www.interactivebuddha.com/Insight%20Practice%20Instructions.doc the theory and practice section gives a really good description of noting similar to the mental noting I was talking about. It might even have been where I got the "mental noting" idea from since I am sure I read this years ago but only revisited it today.

I hope this is helpful and you feel encouraged to continue your practice with diligence.
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 7:30 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/16/09 7:30 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Vishal,

Well done! That was fast! Keep doing what you're doing. Read up on "equanimity" on the maps.

Oh, and I love the Bahiya Sutta, too. If you're into reading Suttas for inspiration, I bet you also like the "further shore" chapter in the Sutta Nipata. But not as magnificent as the advice to Bahiya. That one is very hard to top indeed.

Cheers,
Florian
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 7:04 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 7:04 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: SoManyThoughts

Hi Wayne,
I'm not sure I understand what you mean about investigating intentions behind unskillful thoughts. What types of intentions do you find behind those states? An example or two would help.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 2:24 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 2:24 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

Hi SoManyThoughts -

The way I try to do this is by first finding my breath as soon as I feel aversion (aversion the trigger/breath my centering point). When I am feeling obvious aversion, I can notice my breath is definitely not smooth and even if it is, I have a knot in my throat or chest or something. For me it will usually be both. I bring mind to that feeling and I try to breath "through" it. I try to relax the constriction and "normalize" my breath instead of "push" the feeling away. So I do this for two or three breaths (or more) and during this time, I am observing the inner dialogue. I look at the inner-argument I am telling myself as justification for the unskillful thought. I try to find what it is I cant have or what is not going my way and why is it upsetting me? Pride? Anger? Greed? It seems helpful for me to look for the three characteristics and apply them to the situation. I do this like a game. I try to "catch" subtle internal dialogue that otherwise goes unnoticed.

The inspiration behind this practice for me was surely: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.061.than.html This particular teaching was very helpful to me. I guess it seemed so obvious and basic to me at first glance, I did not see anything special in it but I feel it has had a profound impact on my practice. The preamble on honesty was a crucial insight to me. Investigation into honesty (how honest I am with myself) has been key. Sometimes I find that I must ask myself several times if I am being honest with myself about something or another before I notice a subtler aspect of greed/anger/delusion. And what about my desire to rid myself of greed/anger/delusion? Do I not have aversion to these things? *sigh*

So - this is how I practice and I hope it is useful to you. If I mistakenly misguided anyone, I welcome and trust one with more experience will correct and/or add depth to what I have said.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 3:22 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 3:22 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

sorry - An example of how I investigate intentions.

Note: I keep going back to aversion because I struggle with it. Any other tips on investigating anger and aversion are appreciated.

Holidays (pick one, any one..). I have a female friend I spend time with although she does not understand or support my practice. It is important to her if I attend family holidays. I feel "negative" towards the drinking and drunk, senseless conversation that is always present at these gatherings. I will avoid further elaboration but it is a strange environment in which to practice. I used to think "I will not enjoy it, they will all be drunk, talking stupid, it is boring..". This was not a skillful response and the reality of it is I would probably not do anything constructive if I stayed home anyway. Not to mention the disharmony created by the thoughts/intentions if I stay home or go to the party with these thoughts in mind.

So I investigate this selfish intention. I use it the opportunity to be honest (with myself/others). I use this observation into selfishness as an opportunity to be generous. I "share" that time with her because that time is important to her and using that time selfishly serves no real purpose, I just didn't want to go. So in this way I try to shift my intention from selfish aversion to a happier spirit of generosity and kindness. Sometimes I even have fun ;)

I further take advantage of the opportunity to look for judgment, pride, conceit, etc.. So I am fully present and engaged at the holiday gathering but I use the time to practice my morality game when the conversation get stupid (read: when I get annoyed). Everything becomes a game or exercise with the only rule being honesty. My attention is alert and I dont get involved with the shouting. No one notices me noting "rising, falling, rising, falling". I am just smiling like everyone else emoticon

Hope this helps.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 3:45 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 3:45 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: WayneWI

SoManyThoughts.. I should state clearly:

When I am investigating thoughts and intentions; I do not find one single distinct thought that was my "last" thought (I am not that fast). Rather I attempt to "catch" a collection of dominant aversive thoughts as they pass (I guess this is the best way I can describe it). Basically I will contemplate the loudest/most repetitive voice in the "mind-committee". Not silencing that voice- but letting it bellow like the wizard behind the red curtain ;)

Does this make sense?

Any other thoughts?
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 3:57 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 3:57 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: SoManyThoughts

Thanks, I think I get what you mean by intentions now. I thought you were talking about some kind of hidden agenda or something.

It's cool that you're able to see physical tension related to thoughts cropping up in day-to-day life. I can see that on the cushion, but in 'real life' there's so much of it all the time that I'm not able to break it down into individual reactions. Maybe someday...

Thanks for the tips.
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 5:03 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 5:03 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Florian,

Thanks for the feedback! Indeed, reading the suttas on the 'Access to Insight' website is an activity that I indulge in very often though the intensity has somewhat lessened now. Reading the suttas also has the added advantage of inducing "spontaneous" meditation every now and then. Knowledge straight from the horse's mouth, eh?!

More report:
-----------------

Last evening, I did two sittings, the first one lasting 40 minutes and the second 25 minutes. They felt more like 15 minutes and 10 minutes, respectively. There was less noting involved and it seemed like the mind was in the 1st samatha jhana: diffused rapture throughout the entire body and pleasant state lasting a minute or so. There was more of a "pull" toward samatha jhana over noting practice. Felt a need to develop concentration practice to power my way through the equanimity stage, if that's what I am in.

In daily life, negative reactivity to situations/events has almost vanished. Much more at peace, much more in control of emotions. It no longer feels like I am doing the practice; it's like the practice is doing me. And that has brought a great sense of ease to one's effort.
Trent S H, modified 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 5:19 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/17/09 5:19 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
This is a very good indication that your concentration is pretty powerful. If you're in equanimity, it is probable that you have access to all 4 material jhana, even if you aren't necessarily aware of this.

I can't tell you where you are, but I can tell by what you're saying that something isn't being clearly interpreted-- look closely and judge honestly! It may be the case that you simply haven't noticed the other 3 jhana arise (they could have been very "soft" forms). Or it could be that you simply have not attained to the equanimity stage of insight.

Identifying the 4 material jhanas (1-4) can be a slippery undertaking until sufficiently mastered. The differences can be extremely subtle depending upon how you access them and also depending upon one's current stage in the insight cycle.

Do I mention all of this to add confusion and doubt? Hell naw! My point is that the best thing you can do right now is balance insight and concentration in equal portions and keep screwing around until things "pop out" in a way that makes it obvious what they are. Regardless of analysis, the prescription will always be the same: practice. Thus, unless you feel stuck or confused about something for a prolonged period of time, you're doing fine and can return to investigation of the three characteristics!

Trent
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/18/09 10:16 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/18/09 10:16 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Trent,

Thank you for that response!

When I reported earlier that my 40 min meditation session felt more like 15 minutes, that was my first experience with a lasting jhana! I wasn't paying much attention because I was pretty much immersed in it and was enjoying it quite a bit. So, when you asked me to look more closely, I repeated another 40 min sit last night and this time round I noticed somewhat more but I am afraid not a whole lot. (I think I should have immediately noted down everything in a journal after my sit!)

The defining characteristic of the state I was in was that 5 minutes into the meditation a sweet and soft rapture pervaded my entire body and that lasted the entire session. The rapture was more pronounced in the head and the torso regions. Btw, doing meditation while sitting on a chair brings about concentration with astounding ease! After getting up from my sit, soft vibratory sensations remained with me for an hour or two after which I went to sleep. There was much less noticing of the three characteristics and much more of just remaining with the soft rapture. The 40 min sit felt more like 15-20 minutes long. Each in-out breath cycle lasted for around 10 seconds or more, and there were times when the breath almost completely stopped for, say, 10 seconds. There was a very slight panic once in a while when I realized the breath had stopped but unlike before that didn't affect me very much this time round. Every now and then I watched a thought pass by. Gosh, I wish I had written down everything on a piece of paper after my sit!

I hope to write more tomorrow.

- Vishal
Ed clay vannoy, modified 14 Years ago at 5/18/09 3:10 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/18/09 3:10 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Vishal,

Yeah, the breath can stop like that especially in rapturous states like that. It is less jarring to start the breath yourself than to wait till the body panics and starts it for you.

Ed
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/22/09 4:25 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/22/09 4:25 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Report:
-----------

My concentration over the past few days seems to have improved significantly - of course, still very far from having mastery over any of the samatha jhanas - compared to the period when I started serious practice three months ago. I can maintain a good "solid" but diffuse attention over my breath and/or thoughts for as long as 45 min at a stretch now - no more raptures for me. Kenneth's chicken herding analogy has finally begun to make sense! The breath, with around 10-sec in-out cycle, becomes imperceptible after a while, and there is no more panicking over fear of losing/stopping the breath. There are times when between the end of a breath cycle (out breath) and the succeeding breath cycle (in breath) the mind suddenly enters another state (the feeing is more like that of another state "arising") for a brief several seconds. "Focus" during those few seconds solidifies/narrows/strengthens, later turning more diffuse. No effort is required during meditation, which I guess explains why a 40 min meditation feels like a 15-20 min one. Actually, some effort/intention needs to be expended or brought up to get *out* of the meditation. There is also the perception that an insight practice (noting) naturally brings about concentration and sometimes vice-versa. However, there is definitely a feeling that some kind of plateau has been reached on the insight front.

A couple of questions:

1) What should I do next? (Sorry if my descriptions above aren't detailed enough.)

2) Is it common that after reaching the A&P stage or the Equanimity stage previous stages keep recycling a couple or several times during the course of a day?
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/22/09 4:38 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/22/09 4:38 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Update:
-----------

Mention should be made of the fact that the feeling/perception of "entering" Death, if you will, has been quite frequent during waking moments. A sense of "self" dissolving but without the accompaniment of fear like it used to before.
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tarin greco, modified 14 Years ago at 5/22/09 9:34 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/22/09 9:34 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
'A couple of questions:

'1) What should I do next? (Sorry if my descriptions above aren't detailed enough.)

'2) Is it common that after reaching the A&P stage or the Equanimity stage previous stages keep recycling a couple or several times during the course of a day?'


hi vishal,

i'll take a shot:

1- keep going. fine tune into impermanence characteristic more. note vanishing. pay more attention to what you're dropping into with the out-breath. drop through, rather than just into, the formless stuff that it sounds like you're encountering there. impermanence - see that those states which are 'arising' are also 'passing' emoticon

2- yes/it seems so. confused the hell out of me, dont give it too much thought.

3- in your everyday life, pay attention to transitions. getting up from the cushion, sitting down on the cushion, going from one activity to another, walking through a doorway from one room to another, walking inside/outside. what is it like, what is the effect it has on your experience? note it and move on.

emoticon

tarin
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 5/22/09 10:52 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/22/09 10:52 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Vishal,

What next? There is a lot of advice on navigating equanimity buried in threads here, (Jackson started a great one in February, iirc) and quite a few very good pages in the "Maps of Meditation" section. I'm certainly no authority, but one recurring theme seems to be, "be creative". The obstacles to progress here in equanimity seem to be the most subtle, deeply personal ones. But that is just how I perceive it at the moment. General advice like Tarin's still applies and should be the foundation of practice.

Cycling: yes! like Tarin says, confusing; don't be distracted by it. The cycles may even show up in individual meditation sessions. I take it as an encouraging sign of increased clarity, and not much else.

Fear of death (or madness): straight out of Daniel's description of equanimity. I encountered this, too.

I love your attitude and am thrilled by your progress. Keep going!

Cheers,
Florian
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/25/09 7:50 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/25/09 7:50 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

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Tarin and Florian,

Thank you very much!

-----------------
Update:

I sat this morning for a 30-min meditation, which again was very nice. It felt like it lasted 10 min. This time, however, it was somewhat different. With the breath being imperceptible after a while, I switched to noting the arising and passing of thoughts, which after some time were again very few to note. But, this time the thoughts felt like the waves of a sea and that I was skidding on the surface... more like riding the waves, touching it at certain points at certain time intervals and at other times just above them... pretty much surfing the thoughts (waves)! After the meditation, I felt much more restful this time compared to other times.

Any feedback would be appreciated.
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 5/25/09 8:29 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/25/09 8:29 AM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Vishal,

Waves, yeah...

Here's the thread I referred to.

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/2354717/Pushing+Through

Cheers,
Florian
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/29/09 2:41 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/29/09 2:41 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Florian,

Thanks, once again! You are awesome! emoticon

---------------------

Update:

On the concentration front, it seems I am able to attain all the four material jhanas (soft jhanas) with relative ease. Effortless effort is the key: just follow the instructions without getting lost in the content of one's thoughts! Having said so, as I reported earlier, there is a sense that I am stuck somewhere on the insight front. Reading Jackson's post, to which Florian provided a link above, I noticed that indeed "It's like my mind just assumes there needs to be an observer so it makes one" (to borrow his words.) Having been observing sensations, thoughts, feelings, breath, etc. for quite some time, I am finally beginning to "tire" of them, so to speak, and therefore I have begun to draw my attention "inward", which has been occurring almost naturally, if you will. By that, I mean, it's as if the scope of one's attention has been "pigeonholed" and so now there is nothing else to pay attention to except the mind that's been observing everything else all the time. Hope I am making sense here.

Any feedback/response? Thanks.
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tarin greco, modified 14 Years ago at 5/29/09 9:57 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/29/09 9:57 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
yeah, keep going, and remember that whatever you think of what is happening as is content, which can't really be avoided, but the point isnt to avoid content, its to avoid making content into something that it's not. if you've gotten this far you already know this on some level, perhaps quite deeply, but its worth pointing out again.
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/31/09 8:44 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/31/09 8:44 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Tarin,

Thanks, again!

--------------------------

Update:

I have been thinking of doing some kind of a retreat for some time now, but circumstances (some current obligation toward family members, not sufficient resources, etc.) have prevented me from going on one, thus far. Then, it struck me a couple of days ago that it is quite possible for me right now, owing to summer holidays, to do a mini-self-retreat for 3-4 weeks at home, pulling in around 5 hrs a day and possibly more. Something is better than nothing, after all!

So, maybe I could use this space, from time to time, to write down about some of my experiences while I am on this mini-self-retreat, starting from today.

Day 1:
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I only managed 4 hrs today. Staying disciplined on a self-retreat is definitely not easy! Having said that, I think I can definitely pull in more than 4 hrs tomorrow onwards. My mind needed some time to adjust, today!

Anyway, the most significant experience today was as follows. Having established mindfulness on sensations and thoughts during the last of the several 45-min sessions, after some time into the meditation there arose an itching sensation, and after having established mindfulness on the sensation the sensation subsided. Soon, a train of thoughts arose:

This itch is not me, it arose of its own accord, remained for a few moments of its own accord and then went away of its own accord. In a similar manner, any thought arising in the mind is not me, rises of its own accord, remains for a few or more moments (depending on how much I am hooked on to it) of its own accord, and then leaves of its own accord. How wonderful! Immediately, a qualitatively different sensation/perception/mind-state arose, all the senses were pulled inward, so to speak, and then there was nothing for the mind to hook on to. That lasted several seconds, perhaps longer.
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Vishal Lama, modified 14 Years ago at 5/31/09 8:46 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/31/09 8:46 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 0 Join Date: 5/16/09 Recent Posts
Here's hoping I will reach Stream Entry or something "closer" by the end of this 3-4 week retreat! Please pray to Lord Buddha for my success. Don't laugh! emoticon
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 5/31/09 9:50 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 5/31/09 9:50 PM

RE: Losing steam while trying to gain Access Concentration

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: AngelinaChan-Ong

Hi, hope you are doing well there.

The whole object of meditation Vipassana way is not to grasp at what you have read before, nor checking based on the theories you have learnt, but rather to concentrate at the very present moment.

It is not unusual to 'lose steam', and there are many other conditions that affects different people during different stages of progress. When I first started, I remembered telling so much to the Sayadaw, but each time he only smiled and told me, keep sitting, and be at the moment.

After a while, I knew what he meant. By then, I've discarded the grasping to the theoretical knowledge that I've had, and truly experience by practical knowledge and understanding, and this becomes 'experience'.

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