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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

involuntary motion during insight practice

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Hi everyone,
I'm new to this site and I would very much appreciate some advice regarding my recent experiences in insight meditation. In recent sits I experienced a kind of rocking motion, like my body moves or rocks back and forth and also side to side. This happens on its own, without me "doing" anything. The movement is not very strong, bust still noticeable and it gets stronger if I put my attention on it. It only occurs after about 20 or 30 minutes of insight (noting) meditation in a stage that I call "arising and passing", although I'm not really sure that that is really what I experience. In this stage, the noting process speeds up, and eventually starts to go off on it's own, I perceive many small sensations in my body going on and off, I feel very calm and joyful and my perception is very clear. The small sensations then start to combine into more broad waves or bubbles that move through my body and this is where the rocking movement starts, as if those waves or bubbles were pushing or dragging my body from one side to another.

It's a very pleasant feeling, like a massage, and the fact that noting is very clear and fast and doesn't require constant effort is also very nice. But I wonder what the movement means and how I should deal with it. Any suggestions and advice would be appreciated.

(Some background info on my meditation technique: I do noting practice as described in the MCTB, with a focus on somatic sensations in the whole body. I start out with one-word labels and switch to “blip” labeling when things speed up. I sit for 40 minutes, once or twice a day.)

Thanks,
Chris

RE: involuntary motion during insight practice
Answer
10/25/10 2:35 PM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
Chris B:
Hi everyone,
I'm new to this site and I would very much appreciate some advice regarding my recent experiences in insight meditation. In recent sits I experienced a kind of rocking motion, like my body moves or rocks back and forth and also side to side. This happens on its own, without me "doing" anything. The movement is not very strong, bust still noticeable and it gets stronger if I put my attention on it. It only occurs after about 20 or 30 minutes of insight (noting) meditation in a stage that I call "arising and passing", although I'm not really sure that that is really what I experience. In this stage, the noting process speeds up, and eventually starts to go off on it's own, I perceive many small sensations in my body going on and off, I feel very calm and joyful and my perception is very clear. The small sensations then start to combine into more broad waves or bubbles that move through my body and this is where the rocking movement starts, as if those waves or bubbles were pushing or dragging my body from one side to another.

It's a very pleasant feeling, like a massage, and the fact that noting is very clear and fast and doesn't require constant effort is also very nice. But I wonder what the movement means and how I should deal with it. Any suggestions and advice would be appreciated.

(Some background info on my meditation technique: I do noting practice as described in the MCTB, with a focus on somatic sensations in the whole body. I start out with one-word labels and switch to “blip” labeling when things speed up. I sit for 40 minutes, once or twice a day.)

Thanks,
Chris


welcome to the dho. here are a few threads i remember and was able to find in the archives which you may find relevant:

[url=http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/257761
]http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/257761
http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/94034#_19_message_93734 (discussion about the technique of turning/revolving attention)

as to your question about what the movement means and how you should deal with it, my answer is that you should keep noting (since that is the practice you are engaged in), keeping in mind the three characteristics, rather than dwelling on the content, of what you experience.

tarin

RE: involuntary motion during insight practice
Answer
10/25/10 3:16 PM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
Yep, classic A&P stuff. Keep going, and watch for what comes next as it happens.

Speed, precision, inclusiveness, consistency: these are the keys to that game,

D

RE: involuntary motion during insight practice
Answer
10/26/10 12:27 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Tarin and Daniel,

thank you for your responses, they are both helpful and encouraging. I will read up on the experiences others had with this. And of course I will try to stay with my noting practice without getting lost in the content.

As for what comes next: After the A&P-like stage described above there is a stage that seems like I stopped meditating entirely, all the pleasant and extraordinary sensations fade out, noting requires more attention and effort and I generally feel like I "fall back” into ordinary everyday experience. I felt a bit irritated and disappointed when this occurred for the first time, but as it seems to repeat itself I think it could be the end of A&P and the first part of dissolution. Do you think that's a good guess? I’m going to investigate this further.

Anyway, thanks again for your advice
Chris

RE: involuntary motion during insight practice
Answer
10/26/10 2:13 PM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
Chris B:

thank you for your responses, they are both helpful and encouraging. I will read up on the experiences others had with this. And of course I will try to stay with my noting practice without getting lost in the content. 
As for what comes next: After the A&P-like stage described above there is a stage that seems like I stopped meditating entirely, all the pleasant and extraordinary sensations fade out, noting requires more attention and effort and I generally feel like I "fall back” into ordinary everyday experience. I felt a bit irritated and disappointed when this occurred for the first time, but as it seems to repeat itself I think it could be the end of A&P and the first part of dissolution. Do you think that's a good guess? I’m going to investigate this further.


yes, and have a look at what leigh brasington, an experienced meditator, wrote about how he handled the shakes (gross piti), as well as the transition from second to third jhana ... no irritation, no disappointment, just an attention to the subtlety of changing experience (the key word here is 'subtlety', as third jhana is far more subtle than second).

when the piti fades, keep your concentration continuous and allow your attention to open out into the periphery as it naturally does (noting where the edges of your mind become prominent). note the contentment (out of which can arise an expectation that something more interesting should happen - if so, note that); note the mental haze (which typically follows second jhana when concentration isn't already well-developed - this may be residue from going through the corruptions/imperfections of insight[1]); note the 'background noise' (that becomes more prominent after piti has faded). note these, and other, things well, then later, when it is applicable, appreciate the ambit of your entire field of awareness. whether you traverse this territory quickly or slowly does not matter; what matters is that you gain insight from the passage. the way to gain insight is to note the three characteristics. you can definitely do this while in jhana.

tarin

[1] mahasi, the progress of insight, IV, 4 (cf. ingram, MCTB, 4. The Arising and Passing Away)

RE: involuntary motion during insight practice
Answer
10/27/10 12:41 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Tarin,

these are very helpful tips, thanks again. The shaking has started to change character in my last two sits, it starts earlier, but doesn't bother me much or keep me from noting. So after waves of shaking appear and disappear two or three times, the whole thing fades entirely (as does the accompanying super-energetic feeling of A&P) and I enter into a very calm stage where I can notice some of the things you mentioned, especially the contentment that can turn into boredom, and the haze, especially in the center of awareness.

I understand from your comments and from the MCTB that this could be the beginning of Dissolution. Some fitting things I've noticed: The opening-up of awareness (occurring by itself), the sensation of being out of tune with experience, the prominence of the periphery of awareness and the ending or fading of sensations. All these seem to fit with the descriptions of Dissolution I have read on this site and in Daniel's book. Also, there has been a kind of background vibration, as if the background of my experience were staring to move or wiggle - if that makes any sense.

After reading about the experiences typically associated with dark night I am a little anxious about what will happen to me. But I am determined to keep practicing no matter what and I didn't notice any emotional downsides yet.

Chris

RE: involuntary motion during insight practice
Answer
10/27/10 1:30 PM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
Chris B:

these are very helpful tips, thanks again.

you're welcome.

Chris B:

I understand from your comments and from the MCTB that this could be the beginning of Dissolution. Some fitting things I've noticed: The opening-up of awareness (occurring by itself), the sensation of being out of tune with experience, the prominence of the periphery of awareness and the ending or fading of sensations. All these seem to fit with the descriptions of Dissolution I have read on this site and in Daniel's book. Also, there has been a kind of background vibration, as if the background of my experience were staring to move or wiggle - if that makes any sense.

it does, and as the practice you are engaged in is noting, i recommend you note that background vibration like all other phenomena which present.

Chris B:

After reading about the experiences typically associated with dark night I am a little anxious about what will happen to me. But I am determined to keep practicing no matter what and I didn't notice any emotional downsides yet.

nor may you necessarily, as they are only possible side effects.

so far, your practice descriptions read as if you're paying attention to the right things (staying focused on the occurrences themselves and keeping the interpretations to a minimum). this is an efficient way to go about practice and so i encourage you to continue, perhaps upping the duration of your sits to at least one hour per session and powering mindfulness throughout the day... that is, if you feel up to it.

tarin