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A Practice Thread from Ident
Answer
12/10/10 6:25 PM
Through a combination of realising that I talk a lot on here with indicating any results of practice, and the suggestion of tarin greco, I've decided to start a practice thread. I'm going to make an effort to change my writing style, drop my habit of using scare quotes (thanks for introducing me to that one tarin, I had no idea that's what I was doing) inappropriately and present a stripped down record of what actually occurs during practice. Here goes.....

Initial Setup: I use the bathroom in my house as my meditation room [1], take a shower, clear any clutter, place a towel over the radiator on the wall with a small candle on a plain, flat glass disc on top of that. I place a cushion down on the floor and sit in a basic cross-legged posture ensuring my breathing is free and focus on the intent to notice as many sensations as possible as quickly as possible. This is the process I usually follow before becoming aware of the sensation of the breath, allowing my eyes to focus gently on the flame of the candle and then, once I feel that I have access concentration, I close my eyes and go from there.

10 Dec 2010 - 2000-2100

Focussed on the sensation of breath rising and falling as concentration rested on the after image of the candle flame which appeared to sit in front of the third eye area, the sensation of the inhale/exhale at the edge of the nostril became apparent and the feeling that breath occurs as four discreet stages. The candle remained in the center of the visual field accompanied by a sense of stability which I examined and noted mental sensations of calm, a slight increase in body temperature and a physical sense of a pleasant relaxation state. There was a sense of my body, it's position in space and the thought that it was a vehicle came and went.

The other sensations that make up the illusion of a single breath were noted, as the abdominal and chest musles expanded I noted, as I have done in previous practice, that there's a point on the inhale where I feel like there's a secondary breath being taken, almost like a top-up on the previous one. This also seems to happen on the exhale about a third of the way down when there's an almost involountary push of the last of the air from the bottom of my abdomen which brings my focus back to the pause before the next inhale. There's no sense of urgency, like it's a desperate gulp for air, but it's something I've noticed.

Visually at this point I could see the flame become brighter on the exhale, but almost vanish on the inhale unless I make a specific effort to make it appear otherwise. By noticing this I could then see an aura around the image as the flame morphed into a pale blue cube in a ring of light. I became aware of sensations of physical pain although these were simply noted and seen to have no actual impact on my experience of that moment, they were felt as small, tightly packed vibrations when I paid attention to them as I noted.

The image of the cube began to distort and shake before I noticed that I'd shifted awareness to what was going on behind it, in the space in front of me which had gone from feeling stable and relaxed to something with sensations of increasing space which made me think of being inside an inflating balloon. This was accompanied by physical shaking, not exactly pleasant but noticeable and reminiscent of having consumed too much caffeine or amphetamines, and a feeling I would describe as being like a rocket starting up before blast-off. I noted anxiety, a baseless fear and this made them dissolve into the background.

I noted sensations of my own boundaries, my sense of size was being experienced as considerably bigger than it had previously felt and I had a visual image rise up of my own body, seated in meditation but emitting some sort of auric field like analog distortion on a VCR. This was noted as an image and nothing more which seemed to cause me to begin seeing the very fine vibrations that made up the image as it vanished into the a background of undulating vibrations. There was a wave of blissfulness immediately after this as I felt the sensation of being quite solidly in this state of expanded awareness.

At this point I became aware of having very little physical awareness below my neck, not a complete absence of sensation but certainly a noticeable decrease. I became aware that my eyes were fluttering like during a R.E.M. phase of sleep and I could feel a pulling sensation like my eyes wanted to look at my brow chakra which, when I just let go of what I noted as a sense of my own inability to let go, was followed by a brief visual strobing and the feeling that I was going "up and out" as the sensations of space expanded again.

Physically my bodily awareness had dropped to nil except for my eyes and occasional flickerings of my fingers and bottom lip, the sensation at this point and the accompanying images involved feeling that my physical eyes and my third eye had formed a triangle radiating light up through my crown chakra area, the sense of completing a circuit of some sort which led to what I would describe as the sensation of hitting reset.

I felt that this section was over, a sense of regret but a knowing that this state was always there as the light which had been prominent above my eyeline began to darken as I felt my eyes twitching again before I began to notice hearing again and how it hadn't been there a moment before but my alarm went off shortly after this and I think I moved back down a bit too quickly as I returned to baseline bodily consciousness and felt very ungrounded and distant so I remained seated and focussed on experiencing my body as I sat there. This passed within about three minutes as I stood up, laughing to myself as I noticed the feeling of pain in my ankles and feet from being seated for an hour and how impermanent the sense of discomfort was when noted for what it was.

This is what I can recall from tonights meditation. My preferred mode of sensory awareness is visual due to my line of work so I know that my report may seem more illustrated and visual than it actually was but this is the easiest way for me to express it.

Thanks for reading.

[1] At present my house is going through a renovation and the main bedroom is currently a storage space. I also have a ten-year old, a dog, and three cats so I need somewhere I can close the door and with minimal distraction.

RE: A Practice Thread from Ident
Answer
12/10/10 10:39 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Ident Silence:

Initial Setup: I use the bathroom in my house as my meditation room [1], take a shower, clear any clutter, place a towel over the radiator on the wall with a small candle on a plain, flat glass disc on top of that. I place a cushion down on the floor and sit in a basic cross-legged posture ensuring my breathing is free and focus on the intent to notice as many sensations as possible as quickly as possible. This is the process I usually follow before becoming aware of the sensation of the breath, allowing my eyes to focus gently on the flame of the candle and then, once I feel that I have access concentration, I close my eyes and go from there.

start meditating formally before you even sit down. prepare your intent, and set to it intently, powerfully, and unwaveringly as you go about your preparations for the meditation sitting. treat this as part of your formal session. your mindfulness should already be firmly established by the time your bottom reaches the cushion.

learn to get access concentration by not doing anything; stop using a candle for this purpose.


Ident Silence:

10 Dec 2010 - 2000-2100

Focussed on the sensation of breath rising and falling as concentration rested on the after image of the candle flame which appeared to sit in front of the third eye area, the sensation of the inhale/exhale at the edge of the nostril became apparent and the feeling that breath occurs as four discreet stages. The candle remained in the center of the visual field accompanied by a sense of stability which I examined and noted mental sensations of calm, a slight increase in body temperature and a physical sense of a pleasant relaxation state. There was a sense of my body, it's position in space and the thought that it was a vehicle came and went.

a vehicle of what/for what?


Ident Silence:

The other sensations that make up the illusion of a single breath were noted, as the abdominal and chest musles expanded I noted, as I have done in previous practice, that there's a point on the inhale where I feel like there's a secondary breath being taken, almost like a top-up on the previous one. This also seems to happen on the exhale about a third of the way down when there's an almost involountary push of the last of the air from the bottom of my abdomen which brings my focus back to the pause before the next inhale. There's no sense of urgency, like it's a desperate gulp for air, but it's something I've noticed.

try letting go of an exhalation completely mid-way through it. let your heartbeat (as felt in your body) nudge the remaining air out of you.


Ident Silence:

Visually at this point I could see the flame become brighter on the exhale, but almost vanish on the inhale unless I make a specific effort to make it appear otherwise. By noticing this I could then see an aura around the image as the flame morphed into a pale blue cube in a ring of light. I became aware of sensations of physical pain although these were simply noted and seen to have no actual impact on my experience of that moment, they were felt as small, tightly packed vibrations when I paid attention to them as I noted.

2nd jhana.


Ident Silence:

The image of the cube began to distort and shake (...)

2nd jhana culmination (arising & passing event)


Ident Silence:

(...) before I noticed that I'd shifted awareness to what was going on behind it, in the space in front of me which had gone from feeling stable and relaxed to something with sensations of increasing space which made me think of being inside an inflating balloon. This was accompanied by physical shaking, not exactly pleasant but noticeable and reminiscent of having consumed too much caffeine or amphetamines, and a feeling I would describe as being like a rocket starting up before blast-off. I noted anxiety, a baseless fear and this made them dissolve into the background.

early third jhana.


Ident Silence:

I noted sensations of my own boundaries, my sense of size was being experienced as considerably bigger than it had previously felt and I had a visual image rise up of my own body, seated in meditation but emitting some sort of auric field like analog distortion on a VCR.

late third jhana.


Ident Silence:

This was noted as an image and nothing more which seemed to cause me to begin seeing the very fine vibrations that made up the image as it vanished into the a background of undulating vibrations. There was a wave of blissfulness immediately after this as I felt the sensation of being quite solidly in this state of expanded awareness.

early-mid 4th jhana.


Ident Silence:

At this point I became aware of having very little physical awareness below my neck, not a complete absence of sensation but certainly a noticeable decrease.

mid-late 4th jhana.


Ident Silence:

I became aware that my eyes were fluttering like during a R.E.M. phase of sleep and I could feel a pulling sensation like my eyes wanted to look at my brow chakra which, when I just let go of what I noted as a sense of my own inability to let go, was followed by a brief visual strobing and the feeling that I was going "up and out" as the sensations of space expanded again.

three doors.

(fruition)


Ident Silence:

Physically my bodily awareness had dropped to nil except for my eyes and occasional flickerings of my fingers and bottom lip, the sensation at this point and the accompanying images involved feeling that my physical eyes and my third eye had formed a triangle radiating light up through my crown chakra area, the sense of completing a circuit of some sort which led to what I would describe as the sensation of hitting reset.

exit fruition... return to 2nd jhana.


Ident Silence:

I felt that this section was over, a sense of regret but a knowing that this state was always there as the light which had been prominent above my eyeline began to darken as I felt my eyes twitching again before I began to notice hearing again and how it hadn't been there a moment before but my alarm went off shortly after this and I think I moved back down a bit too quickly as I returned to baseline bodily consciousness and felt very ungrounded and distant so I remained seated and focussed on experiencing my body as I sat there. This passed within about three minutes as I stood up, laughing to myself as I noticed the feeling of pain in my ankles and feet from being seated for an hour and how impermanent the sense of discomfort was when noted for what it was.

baseline mental factor of the (whatever path you are) path-winner.


Ident Silence:

This is what I can recall from tonights meditation. My preferred mode of sensory awareness is visual due to my line of work so I know that my report may seem more illustrated and visual than it actually was but this is the easiest way for me to express it.

if you want a deeper result from practice, pay more attention to the body.


Ident Silence:

Thanks for reading.

you're welcome.

tarin

RE: A Practice Thread from Ident
Answer
12/11/10 8:19 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Thanks for that tarin, your advice is concise and priceless.

To answer your questions and comment on your suggestions:

Your advice regarding my practice is pretty much exactly what I've needed to hear. Time to drop the stabilizers and get on the bike properly!

The sense of the body being a vehicle also occurs intermittently in day to day life but it's difficult to communicate what I mean as I want to say "a vehicle for consciousness" but I know that words like consciousness or awareness are only labels with no relation to the experience of the emptiness of phenomena. A vehicle for experience? A vanload of nothing? A Sherman tank spraypainted pink with easy open doors and an 8-track for the illusion of self? I need to meditate on this to examine the actual experience of the idea and then I'll try to provide a better answer but I suspect you already know what I'm trying to say.

Tommy

Pratice Notes - 11/12/10
Answer
12/11/10 7:17 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
11/12/10 - 2000-2120

Initial Setup: Took tarins advice and built up mindfulness as I went about my normal activity for about 20 minutes prior to sitting. I found that by using a basic breath counting, not trying to maintain control of the breath and only counting in cycles of ten, I could get access concentration within a matter of seconds, begin to note the sensations involved while preparing to sit and the mental movements of setting intent. By the time I sat down on the cushion I felt a sense of balance and focus which reminded me of equanimity and proved very useful to the following observations. Present-orientated intent was set firmly to note each sensation arise and pass as quickly as they occured while maintaining awareness of the body.

Focussing on the sensation of breath from the cooling air around felt mainly (about 70/30 in terms of sensate awareness between either nostril at any given time) in the left nostril as it passed with a sense of sweet "nothingness" down the back of the nasal cavity, smooth but on closer inspection not a solid, ongoing sensation with more of a wide and slow vibrational quality.

I purposely avoided allowing any visualisation of the sensations, or at least noted and disgarded them as they arose, and stayed with the basic sensate experience. From the nasal cavity I observed the air travel down the back of my throat, my swallowing reflex tried to kick in and I almost missed it but I noted the automatic nature of it and moved on to following the sensations of air filling my abdomen first, the expansion of the solar plexus area and the sensation of a full breath being completed as the chest rose before the pause and continuation of the breath. I had noted that the vibrations appeared to be narrower as the breath travelled through the throat before re-expanding in the chest cavity but looking closer this was actually incorrect and they were only changing to negotiate the shape of my throat, the sense of which was a lot wider when I payed attention to it but there was the awareness that this was only because I was making this occur.

I gradually became aware of pain in various places on my body which, when noted, would vanish or my awareness would shift to another area as the sensation of pain rose up there. I noted and noted as this occured and consistently saw that these sensations were empty, they had nothing to do with a sense of self and had no solidity so I could just allow them to do their thing and carry on observing the breath.

Reminding myself of tarins suggestion to release the exhalation at the halway point and allow the sensation of the heartbeat to push the remaining air out I tuned in to this and within about thirty seconds there was a sense of the heartbeat causing a pushing of, not the air itself, but the sensation of it and then a subtle pulling sensation a fraction of a second before the sensation of physically taking a breath occured. Thinking about it now this part was experienced at a much slower rate, almost like playing a film back at half-speed as my overall physical awareness became very focussed on the heart and solar plexus area in general. Not as slow as a frame-by-frame sort of effect, more of a process being slowed to down to show someone a specific aspect of it and then something I can't quite recall but which seemed to just drop from my perception for a split second before I was back on the breath again solidly.

I noticed the beginning of the physical shaking, which tarin indentified on my other posting as early-third jhana, and immediately noticed that I had just passed through the second jhana. At the start of the next breath I noted I had deliberately stopped entering the third jhana and the following occured:

Between the last pulling sensation of the inhale and the pause before exhalation I felt a sense of being back in the first jhana for a "whistle-stop tour" of the three characteristics of it. I noted how it had appeared with minimal effort, but a sense of effort like gently flexing a muscle, and dissolved just as quickly, that it was only a state by which I mean it has a sense of solidity and permanence if one isn't aware of of it's impermanence in the first place, and that it has no connection to self. As I noted the above I was aware of the entry to the third jhana in the background, a visual image appeared of an opaque grey outline of my body seated with a larger version in an almost white colour behind it.

I watched the background activity for a moment and had some strobing of awareness, particularly around the heart area, realised I'd almost allowed myself to get caught up in content and moved through the second jhana quickly while noticing the change in focus which happened on going from first to third. It felt like I went from a tight focus on the breath to a less specific awareness of physical sensation to a panoramic awareness in a 1-2-3 movement as the shaking started up again. I had already watched it start in my left knee, move quickly over to the right and how it started to show up in other areas which I felt like I could almost anticipate but wasn't quite quick enough. For the first time I became really aware of how noting the three characteristics of these sensations would cause them to slip back to the nothing they came from so I noted as fast as I could and felt the sensations subside within about two minutes.

I noted an increase in the size of my own perception of my body again, similar to last night but the sensation was more of being elongated rather than a horizontal distortion effect. Becoming aware of this made me expand my awareness of the rest of my body and notice that I'd allowed my body to slouch slightly which brought me to a more grounded, whole body awareness and a correction of posture. This brought a mild bliss wave which I noticed was more annoying and distracting than pleasant and shifted focus back to the breath again and to noting sensations as they passed.

I felt a less intense form of the shaking begin but this time I felt it as being further away than the entry to third jhana, not quite as embedded in the physical sensations. The major difference here was distinct activity which I recognise as the A&P manifesting physically as intense and laboured breathing, sweating palms and twitching in the nape of the neck and spine. This passed quickly as I noted it's impermanence, how the sensations were not self and how they are all empty of meaning without the illusion of observer. This final point caused me to become aware of my eyes moving in a similar R.E.M. style to before but with more of a visual element like strobing again but the light was much more diffuse, not like what I've experienced before which I would describe as seeming more narrow, like striplights being swung in front of a strobe.

At this point, I estimate about 30 minutes in, I felt a very definite switch, if I were to describe it in terms of directional movement, to the left of my field of sensate awareness which, when I think about how it felt now seems like the previous state had been moved aside so that I would be able to see what was happening next.

I started to notice specific areas of my body as only existing when there was a sensation to register e.g. when I returned to the breath I was only aware of the "external" sensation of the air travelling through my nose which then vanished from awareness as I felt the air in my throat which was experienced like the inside of a hollow tube suspended in space. I noted that my sense of the body was still there but not as a solid experience and I could choose to be aware or unaware of any part of my anatomy at will. I realised quickly that this provided no satisfaction and was experienced as something very comedic, like playing with perception was a great laugh but a distraction from the moment.

I then felt that my eyes were turning inwards and I began to look for "the observer" in the space between these sensations which led me to notice a visual image of a golden/orange hued sphere which, when I examined it, was completely empty. Seeing this triggered a shift which I can only describe here as perceptual flip. I'm struggling to find the words for this without being too extravagant because it wasn't like a massive experience or a big fancy A&P fireworks display, just a very simple shift in the centre of perception itself and then nothing. A momentary absence.

Became aware of the breath again and feeling the muscles in my face create a smile through the sense of acceptance that brought a stronger but more subtle wave of blissful sensations which, as it passed over my body from the crown to the the base of my spine, seemed to activate each chakra or at least that was the visual aspect which presented itself. I noted the flow of sensation appeared to scan the entire body, back and forth on each breath which brought me back to being more fully aware of the body as I slowly brought my awareness back to the "real world".

I remained seated for a further twenty minutes while I reorientated myself again and noticed that I was still in a perfect posture after some difficult and painful movement during meditation and that I could maintain equanimity with very little effort. I realised how in the past I had been blown away by these kinds of experiences but how I now see them as just temporary states which only show their true value when the three characteristics are examined. I can't say what exactly occured other than knowing that I completed a cycle in one sitting again and suspect that the "momentary absence" I referred to was a fruition.

I look forward to hearing anyone's perspective on these notes and thanks for taking the time to read them.

RE: Pratice Notes - 11/12/10
Answer
12/12/10 12:04 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Ident Silence:
11/12/10 - 2000-2120

Initial Setup: Took tarins advice and built up mindfulness as I went about my normal activity for about 20 minutes prior to sitting. I found that by using a basic breath counting, not trying to maintain control of the breath and only counting in cycles of ten, I could get access concentration within a matter of seconds, begin to note the sensations involved while preparing to sit and the mental movements of setting intent. By the time I sat down on the cushion I felt a sense of balance and focus which reminded me of equanimity and proved very useful to the following observations. Present-orientated intent was set firmly to note each sensation arise and pass as quickly as they occured while maintaining awareness of the body.

oh good. perhaps some people who read this will try applying the method of establishing mindfulness prior to sitting to their own practices.

by the way, if you're a stream-enterer, you ought to be able to get 'access concentration' just with bare attention/mindfulness. consider trying this instead of breath counting.


Ident Silence:

Focussing on the sensation of breath from the cooling air around felt mainly (about 70/30 in terms of sensate awareness between either nostril at any given time) in the left nostril as it passed with a sense of sweet "nothingness" down the back of the nasal cavity, smooth but on closer inspection not a solid, ongoing sensation with more of a wide and slow vibrational quality.

I purposely avoided allowing any visualisation of the sensations, or at least noted and disgarded them as they arose, and stayed with the basic sensate experience. From the nasal cavity I observed the air travel down the back of my throat, my swallowing reflex tried to kick in and I almost missed it but I noted the automatic nature of it and moved on to following the sensations of air filling my abdomen first, the expansion of the solar plexus area and the sensation of a full breath being completed as the chest rose before the pause and continuation of the breath. I had noted that the vibrations appeared to be narrower as the breath travelled through the throat before re-expanding in the chest cavity but looking closer this was actually incorrect and they were only changing to negotiate the shape of my throat, the sense of which was a lot wider when I payed attention to it but there was the awareness that this was only because I was making this occur.

possibly content-heavy; if so, tune more into the bare awareness of these experiences than the perceptions of what these experiences are/were. if you can't do that, note the three characteristics.


Ident Silence:

I gradually became aware of pain in various places on my body which, when noted, would vanish or my awareness would shift to another area as the sensation of pain rose up there. I noted and noted as this occured and consistently saw that these sensations were empty, they had nothing to do with a sense of self and had no solidity so I could just allow them to do their thing and carry on observing the breath.

note suffering characteristic.


Ident Silence:

Reminding myself of tarins suggestion to release the exhalation at the halway point and allow the sensation of the heartbeat to push the remaining air out I tuned in to this and within about thirty seconds there was a sense of the heartbeat causing a pushing of, not the air itself, but the sensation of it and then a subtle pulling sensation a fraction of a second before the sensation of physically taking a breath occured. Thinking about it now this part was experienced at a much slower rate, almost like playing a film back at half-speed as my overall physical awareness became very focussed on the heart and solar plexus area in general. Not as slow as a frame-by-frame sort of effect, more of a process being slowed to down to show someone a specific aspect of it and then something I can't quite recall but which seemed to just drop from my perception for a split second before I was back on the breath again solidly.

now try releasing the exhalation at the top of the breath, before you even start to exhale.


Ident Silence:

I noticed the beginning of the physical shaking, which tarin indentified on my other posting as early-third jhana, and immediately noticed that I had just passed through the second jhana. At the start of the next breath I noted I had deliberately stopped entering the third jhana and the following occured:

Between the last pulling sensation of the inhale and the pause before exhalation I felt a sense of being back in the first jhana for a "whistle-stop tour" of the three characteristics of it. I noted how it had appeared with minimal effort, but a sense of effort like gently flexing a muscle, and dissolved just as quickly, that it was only a state by which I mean it has a sense of solidity and permanence if one isn't aware of of it's impermanence in the first place, and that it has no connection to self. As I noted the above I was aware of the entry to the third jhana in the background, a visual image appeared of an opaque grey outline of my body seated with a larger version in an almost white colour behind it.

sub-jhana stuff; among the most knowledgeable of persons with whom to talk about this topic is dan ingram.


Ident Silence:

I watched the background activity for a moment and had some strobing of awareness, particularly around the heart area, realised I'd almost allowed myself to get caught up in content and moved through the second jhana quickly while noticing the change in focus which happened on going from first to third.

dissolution.


Ident Silence:

It felt like I went from a tight focus on the breath to a less specific awareness of physical sensation to a panoramic awareness in a 1-2-3 movement as the shaking started up again. I had already watched it start in my left knee, move quickly over to the right and how it started to show up in other areas which I felt like I could almost anticipate but wasn't quite quick enough. For the first time I became really aware of how noting the three characteristics of these sensations would cause them to slip back to the nothing they came from so I noted as fast as I could and felt the sensations subside within about two minutes.

dark night.


Ident Silence:

I noted an increase in the size of my own perception of my body again, similar to last night but the sensation was more of being elongated rather than a horizontal distortion effect. Becoming aware of this made me expand my awareness of the rest of my body and notice that I'd allowed my body to slouch slightly which brought me to a more grounded, whole body awareness and a correction of posture. This brought a mild bliss wave which I noticed was more annoying and distracting than pleasant and shifted focus back to the breath again and to noting sensations as they passed.

more dark night.


Ident Silence:

I felt a less intense form of the shaking begin but this time I felt it as being further away than the entry to third jhana, not quite as embedded in the physical sensations. The major difference here was distinct activity which I recognise as the A&P manifesting physically as intense and laboured breathing, sweating palms and twitching in the nape of the neck and spine. This passed quickly as I noted it's impermanence, how the sensations were not self and how they are all empty of meaning without the illusion of observer.

note suffering, including whatever distaste or relish for suffering may be present.


Ident Silence:

This final point caused me to become aware of my eyes moving in a similar R.E.M. style to before but with more of a visual element like strobing again but the light was much more diffuse, not like what I've experienced before which I would describe as seeming more narrow, like striplights being swung in front of a strobe.

late dark night.


Ident Silence:

At this point, I estimate about 30 minutes in, I felt a very definite switch, if I were to describe it in terms of directional movement, to the left of my field of sensate awareness which, when I think about how it felt now seems like the previous state had been moved aside so that I would be able to see what was happening next.

starting to perceive in formations.


Ident Silence:

I started to notice specific areas of my body as only existing when there was a sensation to register e.g. when I returned to the breath I was only aware of the "external" sensation of the air travelling through my nose which then vanished from awareness as I felt the air in my throat which was experienced like the inside of a hollow tube suspended in space. I noted that my sense of the body was still there but not as a solid experience and I could choose to be aware or unaware of any part of my anatomy at will. I realised quickly that this provided no satisfaction and was experienced as something very comedic, like playing with perception was a great laugh but a distraction from the moment.

equanimity.


Ident Silence:

I then felt that my eyes were turning inwards and I began to look for "the observer" in the space between these sensations which led me to notice a visual image of a golden/orange hued sphere which, when I examined it, was completely empty. Seeing this triggered a shift which I can only describe here as perceptual flip. I'm struggling to find the words for this without being too extravagant because it wasn't like a massive experience or a big fancy A&P fireworks display, just a very simple shift in the centre of perception itself and then nothing. A momentary absence.

high equanimity; fruition.


Ident Silence:

Became aware of the breath again and feeling the muscles in my face create a smile through the sense of acceptance that brought a stronger but more subtle wave of blissful sensations which, as it passed over my body from the crown to the the base of my spine, seemed to activate each chakra or at least that was the visual aspect which presented itself. I noted the flow of sensation appeared to scan the entire body, back and forth on each breath which brought me back to being more fully aware of the body as I slowly brought my awareness back to the "real world".

review.


Ident Silence:

I remained seated for a further twenty minutes while I reorientated myself again and noticed that I was still in a perfect posture after some difficult and painful movement during meditation and that I could maintain equanimity with very little effort. I realised how in the past I had been blown away by these kinds of experiences but how I now see them as just temporary states which only show their true value when the three characteristics are examined. I can't say what exactly occured other than knowing that I completed a cycle in one sitting again and suspect that the "momentary absence" I referred to was a fruition.

mastery is good; moving on is good. one can lead to the other; the other can lead to the one; they can go hand-in-hand.

tarin

RE: Pratice Notes - 11/12/10
Answer
12/12/10 12:17 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
tarin greco:

oh good. perhaps some people who read this will try applying the method of establishing mindfulness prior to sitting to their own practices.


I've started seeing the benefit of this. Before I sat today, while taking a shower, I aimed to be mindful of all my actions. I noticed how easy it was to keep track of all my physical movements, but how I would still get lost in thought, which would distract me both from being mindful of the thought and of the body. However, before actually sitting, I reviewed some posts I had made, so I suppose there was a gap in the mindfulness which I will attempt to close next time.

Update
Answer
12/12/10 3:01 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Just wanted to quickly post on this thread to say that I'll be taking a different approach to reporting back from practice since the way I've chosen to do it the last two nights has led to content heavy descriptions. I was writing these reports within about five minutes of getting up which I now see as being useful from one point of view, while being completely useless from another.

It's all well and good to try describe something which you've experienced as dozens of individual sensations occuring each second, but I then try to express what occurs as a coherent and fully inclusive piece of writing which leads me to then use words which bear little relation to the rising and falling which they're trying to describe. I know the frustration is not unique to me and has no doubt been experienced by plenty of other people.

From the view of wondering "where I am" in terms of paths, I'm still none the wiser but having tarin point out each stage in my previous posting has helped me develop a much deeper understanding of the terminology and allowed me to become more confident in my practice.

I now know, based on experience and not just intellectual reasoning:
1. I can complete a cycle of insight up to Fruition with relative ease in each sitting.
2. That the times in the past when I thought I was cycling were actually correct.
3. I recognise that Fruitions are regular occurences for me.
4. What I considered to be "access concentration" was actually me mixing up the entry to first samatha jhana by looking too hard for a change in state. "Access concentration" is an automatic shift which I can get instantly but didn't note the subtlety. (Thanks to tarin for pointing this part out, it's cleared this up for me and I now see what you meant).
5. Experience of formations occurs in daily life but I didn't know that this is what was going on.

Anyway. All this is just words so it's back to practice and a break in posting from me.

RE: Update
Answer
12/12/10 4:03 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Ident Silence:

5. Experience of formations occurs in daily life but I didn't know that this is what was going on.

Can you expand on this? I still haven't observed a formation and called it such, but it seems more likely that I have and didn't know what it was rather than me never having seen one?

RE: Update
Answer
12/12/10 5:31 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I stand to have my ass handed to me on this one as I'm probably way off but I'll go for broke and say what I can....

Formations are gestalts of an entire experience. I can't say that I can perceive them at will or anything but what tarin highlighted in my last posting about beginning to perceive in formations at a particular stage of insight made me aware having perceived the same phenomena randomly over the last few months. It felt like a sense of having one chunk of "reality" being picked up, moved out of the way and another chunk being replaced, or like watching something you've experienced represented by a movie set which is then swept to one side only for another similar set pop up in it's place. That's a bit simple but it's the clearest way I can present it and is quite likely completely wrong as I don't think I'm anywhere near advanced enough to claim such a definite definition.

For me, these are mainly experienced with a definite "blip" and a sense of "something just happened but I have no idea what it was" although I can recall two specific occasions when I was aware of an empty space between two different formations as they were perceived. The first time I caught the last fraction of a second of the changeover and it was like seeing the edge of a frame on a reel of film while the present moment just sort of "popped" into existence, the second was actually on Thursday when standing at the bus stop in Glasgow. I had been working on perceiving sensations of depth/size/distance and the background of sensate awareness while standing waiting for the bus, just to kill some time and get a bit of Dharma in, when I noticed a visible gap in my perception of what was going on.

It seems to fit the description of formations and the way it felt was the same as what tarin identified. I know I could be completely wrong but if so at least I'll be able to gain a better understanding of the whole concept of formations. Hopefully someone more experienced will be able to help more here.

RE: Update
Answer
12/12/10 6:02 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
is it the shift from re-observation into equanimity, or the shift from equanimity into high equanimity, which you mean?

RE: Update
Answer
12/13/10 3:31 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
is it the shift from re-observation into equanimity, or the shift from equanimity into high equanimity, which you mean?


If I'm understanding the stages of insight correctly here then I'm referring to the shift from equanimity to high equanimity. My reason for thinking this is based on what I understand about the connection between going from high equanimity to Fruition via the three doors but I'm well aware that I may be totally misinterpreting this so please correct me if that's the case.

Further to what I'd said to Beoman, these perceptions have the sense of being very much complete and that by noting one sensation within it we can become aware of all sensations occuring at once. At this point the whole thing seems to collapse which I suspect is related to the breakdown of duality at this level but I'm only basing this on the way I've interpreted my experience/non-experience of it.

(EDIT: Rephrased)

13/12/10 - Notes
Answer
12/13/10 6:15 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
1. 10 mins walking vipassana outdoors.
2. 60 Mins seated vipassana indoors.

1. Walked in a circle for five minutes noting basic sensations of walking, moving, turning, feeling, thinking etc before stopping and focussing on sensations of temperature ( -5C outside). Observed that the mental sensations which make up the thought of being "cold" are not the same as the physical sensations which trigger the thought. I got something here but I'm finding it very difficult to put it into words right now. As it happened it was clear as day but now I'm just getting a tension in the back of my skull and forehead areas when I try to express it.

(Update: 10 mins later...) Fruition!! Right there. A realisation of how cold or hot, or any sensation for that matter, implies dualism, the existence of a seperate self and how that illusion of duality is what creates suffering.

2. With a solid base of mindfulness and equanimity[1] I sat down in my usual position, followed the breath and noted, noted, noted. Still maintaining focus on the body which certainly does produce a deeper, clearer experience of sensation. Experienced a few points which I hadn't noted before (but actually had and didn't notice till just now!):

a. Whilst seated I noted pain in the first few minutes, examined who was experiencing the pain and saw the split between physical sensation and mental sensation but how they're both just sensation unless a "self" is present to experience it as anything other than empty, not even empty because it just "isn't". It's not something I can put in words.

b. At one point I noted the thought that I'd been dead, there was no fear or any other emotion, just noting a complete absence of anything for a moment. It was awareness of the breath that brought me back to "life" so I'm assuming this occured at end of the exhalation since, after following tarins advice, I now just leave the breath to do what it does, surrender any idea of control and note the sensations. This led to realising how sensation creates the sense of a seperate self, I noted what felt like microscopic flashes of awareness fleeting all over my body which was being experienced as nothing more than the sensations themselves, devoid of a center. A visual image appeared of my own body as luminosity expanding but there was no physical sensation to accompany it as I lost bodily awareness for a moment or two.

I could add more but these two seem most pertinent. I've tried to be as concise as I can here but it's still taken me over two hours to convey something which is not the experience itself. The map is not the territory and all that jazz.

There was a beautifully pure wave of bliss on descending the jhanas but coming back to baseline felt like confirmation of being in High Equanimity. Just a complete acceptance of everything as it is, no excitement, no fireworks, just contentment.

Any advice?

Tommy

[1] I've been re-reading MCTB after seeing tarin signposting the jhanas in my previous postings and have realised that I'm currently in High Equanimity, or I could just be guilty of rationalising my delusions or whatever's going on. Whether it's that or not, there's a sense of building towards something and I have an acceptance which seems to fit with the word "equanimous". It's not a case of not caring, it's just that after spending the last few weeks trying to figure out paths and suchlike I've come to a point where I could be content being pre-Stream Entry or being an Arahat. What happens happens.

RE: 13/12/10 - Notes
Answer
12/13/10 9:48 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Very interesting stuff! I can't offer much advice except keep going, and keep being mindful for a few minutes before sitting, as that seems to do good things for my sits as well. As words of encouragement, I've found that when I've been noticing things that are hard to put into words and that feel strange, something interesting would happen soon.

I see some similarities in what we're experiencing, at least with regards to getting insights about various things, although I'm not getting Fruitions about them. I also place myself in High Equanimity (actually in "Right Before Fruition" territory, as I think of it), although I could also be terribly wrong, since I definitely don't feel Equanimous in that state. It's more like an incredible intense sense of urgency and irritation of 'missing' and stuff, although very unlike Desire for Deliverance. Has anyone experienced this?

RE: 13/12/10 - Notes
Answer
12/14/10 11:04 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I tried to simplify my reports just purely so that I could put less emphasis on the content when writing but there's always the inclination towards trying to interpret what you're saying as you're forming it into a coherent posting.

The most interesting things actually occured when I was writing in the first place as I could "see" the sensations that make up thought progressed from intanglible "suchness" (by which I mean it just "was", no sense of dimension, form or anything)to the words I was using to express them. Hard to explain but, being from a magickal/kabbalistic background, the kabbalistic tree seems to be the most detailed map of this process from abstract to concrete. It feels ridiculous to say but none of this was anything exceptional.

I'm actually sneaking in a posting from work just now so I'll update with more hoohaa and voodoo later.

Notes - 14/12/10
Answer
12/14/10 6:14 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
1. Choiceless Awareness (Outside - Standing) - 15 mins.
2. Vipassana (Inside - Seated) - 75 mins.

1. Extremely cold outside again so decided to take advantage of the increase in sensitivity to temperature. Same as last night, clear perception of the split between physical/mental sensations and their emptiness without an observer to fill them with meaning. Closed eyes and allowed any sensations to be noticed, each one proved to do what they do and nothing more i.e. they arise, they pass. Nothing new but the state attained was ideal for seated meditation.

2. Seated as normal, A&P first up felt as a massive expansion of self and excitement but hit Dissolution very quickly before entering Dark Night. In the transition it felt like being shaken from the outside in but attempts to control it only caused me to flip between the two stages repeatedly. Like a skipping CD (remember when we used to say LP? Ha!) seems appropriate, a very quick and short wavelength vibration. I don't know if this is perhaps some sort of sub-jhana thing, it was educational but distracting if not treated like any other sensation and noted the living shit out of!

A cool thing which came from this was that when I had been trying to fight the shaking and kept falling back down I noted the emotions involved and came to some very interesting realisations about what each one was and why they "feel" the way they do. Another post for another time, we're getting a bit content heavy here already but it seems necessary to

Effort to control Dissolution stage is pointless, only surrender to it and continuing to note (which brought more intense and deep seated shaking) led to a proper shift to Dark Night which brought a weird silence, slow and eerie but with the sensation of standing in familiar territory. The same visual elements I'd noted before (having seen them pointed out by tarin) of this stage didn't show but the physical sense was filled with distortion of size which became distracting and led to drifting in and out of thoughts. Focussed on breath and corrected posture, noticed too much effort to note quickly led to less accuracy so relaxed the effort till it "felt" right, noted concentration now feels like a flexible muscle (just got a Fruition on recalling that!) and almost let myself slip into what felt like a samatha jhana.

Hit Re-Observation without a shadow of a doubt. Had noted physical pain slowly appearing towards the end of Dark Night, not felt as solid sensation at first but this quickly became a fight between the ingrained sense of "I" and the truth of no self. In round one, "I" had my arse kicked [1] by myself and had the feeling of being thrown through something (Saloon doors in an old Western movie seems a funny enough image) accompanied by a sharp drop to at least the beginning of Dark Night, if not Dissolution. Tried again, fell down. Tried again, fell down. Noted those emotions from before and remembered about transmuting the Defilements and use them as an aid to progress. Breaking them down earlier released their energy and I quickly moved to Low Equanimity simply by noting and surrending any effort to maintain control.

Had a sense of sitting in Equanimity and being bored with it, I noted the thought "Well, I've been feeling this way without meditating so why bother going through all the shit beforehand just to get back here". Never really noticed that before which made me notice that noticing this (strange loops abound here without seeing through it) and all the previous aspects, or "emanations" to use a kabbalistic model, right back to it's origin which isn't actually an origin at all. The paradox this creates in thinking right now doesn't exist when experiencing this. Each emanation contains the whole thought in various stages of manifestation, from it's origin/non-origin through the lens of dualism to sensation, any aspect of which can be experienced as a part of the entire "thing". Strangely enough, while writing this I realise that I had no noticeable Fruition at this point and made the choice to leave Equanimity feeling that I had done enough for the moment.

Returned to baseline with an underlying sense of being unsatisfied by what had happened. For what probably sounds like some profound realisation it was a matter of seeing the "nuts and bolts" of thoughts, emotions and sensations. The mechanics of duality or some other car-based something and/or other and/or not. emoticon

I feel the need to make it clear here that my choice of content-heavy writing here is to do with my inability to communicate these experiences more precisely. So much for me simplifying these posts.....

I'm not going to post as regular on this from tonight but anything new experienced will be reported on for some Dharma diagnosis. Getting much more familiar with the terminology and what it's referring to which is improving practice on all fronts.

Good practice my fellow Dharma-fiends!

[1] Just remembered how Daniel's table of jhanas and nanas refers to this stage as "The GREAT KICK in the ASS" which just made me laugh out loud.

A Short (Ha!) Update - 23/12/10
Answer
12/23/10 4:52 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
I've avoided posting practice threads and just sticking to informal noting through the day, a formal 30-60 minute seated vipassana and additional walking meditation for at least 10-15 minutes per night also. My reasons for not posting about practice are so that I avoid trying to interpret what occurs while writing since I have come to see that it's not helping since I find myself looking for patterns and noting "planning" thoughts about what I'll write when I finish up.

I figured it's better to at least keep my hand in with practice notes periodically than not post at all!

A Few New Practices

Today I have been mostly bringing (UK comedy fans may get the reference there) compassion and loving kindness to my life, spreading love throughout my daily interactions and placing emphasis on mindfulness thanks to a wonderful thread on here by the very knowledgeable Ian And. A few highlights are as follows:

- While on a break in work I started walking meditation, the world took on a shimmering quality as I followed the rise & fall of the breath, the sensations of inhale/exhale and their mental counterparts, the sensations of my feet rising and making contact with the snow beneath them (I could list everything noted but it'd be pointless) and gradually become aware of each element existing at the same "moment". The mindfulness established on waking up meant that noting at higher speeds was considerably easier although I've found a pace which I feel sits nicely for me and allows for more accuracy.

- On the phone to some rather argumentative customers I found that mindfulness cuts through everything, all the bullshit, the emotional reactions, all the stuff that isn't "self" and afford a wider, more accepting place from which to experience the world. I've always been empathetic towards other people's problems and am considered to have excellent interpersonal skills by the people I work with but this was more of an acceptance, a self-less surrendering to the moment and the need to bring others to the same understanding. In that particular situation I managed to turn this angry customer to a grateful and apologetic man who realised that not everyone he'll speak to doesn't care, and that there are people in this world who actually give a shit about others. That made me feel very content, to be able to reduce the suffering of another even in the smallest of ways is a reward in itself.

Over the last few days my practice has been quite consistent, I've focussed on samatha practice with minimal vipassana as I've realised that I don't want to progress any further for the moment (although I have the feeling that the Dhamma has other ideas) and enjoyed a bit of grounding, explored some more of the depth of the first four jhanas (although mastery is far away yet) and tentatively begun working with the fifth. In vipassana there's been very little in terms of new insights and no desire to complete a cycle as I feel quite comfortable exploring the transitions between stages, particularly the entry to Dark Night which leads me to...

A Coupla' Questions

Something I've noticed consistently while doing seated vipassana is the intense trembling which seems to mark the entry to Dark Night for me. Before the last few days I found that noting it as "movement" made it pass quicker but when that failed to work, I increased my focus on the origin of the shaking and now have a few questions I wonder if anyone could advise on?

1. While the initial sensation of trembling may very well be Dissolution going into Dark Night I suspect that there's a psychosomatic aspect which I haven't quite figured out yet. I get thought sensations of my body "playing along" with the shaking which is making me wonder if I'm subconsciously allowing my body to be carried away with sensations. The peculiar thing is that, while I can feel my body as being present, there's a feeling of being shaken from the outside in. It's not "scary" or threatening, it's actually quite funny to sit through but very distraction and physically tiring. Anyone else had this same sort of thing happen?

2. If it's not something directly practice related and/or psychosomatic, does anyone know about how something like a basic half-lotus could perhaps cause me to trap a nerve or something similar? I sit with my legs crossed in a half-lotus, back straight and resting my behind on a small cushion which supports me quite well. I also have a bad back due an in injury sustained while labouring on a building site, although I can cope with the discomfort but I'm wondering if a sustained posture could be putting undue strain on it. I do make special effort to maintain correct posture and usually experience little or no major pain which can't be noted and moved on from but these quite intense vibrations/shaking/trembling (hard to define as it feels like all of them at once). I know that I should see the doctor, which I'm doing after Xmas, but I just wanted to see if anyone else knew anything worthwile I could use or suggest any alternative asanas other than the good ol' death pose since the room I have is very limited. I've tried some of the asanas Aleister Crowley points out in Book 4 but a few are too complex to maintain and/or put a strain on my back.

3. Something else I've noticed has been a sort of "tick" I've developed, or at least become more aware of, since the last time I had an A&P Kundalini bonanza about four weeks ago. I'm considering the possibility of some sort of misplacement of energies since it's quite a pronounced twitch in my legs and/or arms which feels similar to a myclonic jerk only while fully awake. I've been sticking to Theravada practice so I've avoided trying to work with these sensations as the chakras. I also think I'll speak to the doctor about this too just for the sake of safety but I wondered if anyone had noticed anything similar or had any ideas of how to work with this? I note it each time it occurs and it's a similar, although considerably quicker, movement to that experienced in the questions I've asked about which makes me think there may be some connection.

Other than that I'm seeing cycling quite clearly, working with what crops up and just practicing, reading Jack Kornfield and Dan Ingram, and enjoying being able to learn from this fine site.

Take care folks and have a wonderful Xmas or whatever you're celebrating at this time if I don't manage to post before then!

Tommy

RE: A Short (Ha!) Update - 23/12/10
Answer
12/23/10 5:18 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
About shaking... I notice something similar. It's also related to A&P/Dissolution as far as I can tell.

Basically I'll be sitting there... then I'll get a kind of urge to tremble, or a feeling that I will tremble soon. At some point it happens, and either a part of my body or almost the entire body (usually the back) will tremble/vibrate in an energetic way for a second or two. it passes soon after that. it happens somewhat often, but not too much in any one sit, not to the point where it gets uncomfortable or physically tiring (last time i counted 5 evenly-spaced trembles, and no more after that). i don't do anything in particular to subdue / not subdue it. i get that feeling too of maybe playing into it, but i can't tell how much of it is letting it tremble and how much happens anyway. i doubt it's related to posture, since i had it while sitting slouched over, and while in Burmese position.

i'm a bit uncertain of posture at the moment. i like Burmese, but after 40 mins or so my leg falls asleep. i really like seiza for back comfort, but legs get into intense pain within 20 minutes. half lotus and full lotus have always hurt my ankles/knees. sitting is slightly uncomfortable. lying down is too relaxing. blagh. i actually like sitting indian cross-legged style in a comfortable chair, if you want to try that.

about the 'shimmering world' - i think i might be feeling that too, i might be talking about it in my latest post. i can relax into it upon command... it seems worthwhile to try to cultivate it as much as possible.

glad to hear you are spreading mindfulness and such and actually trying to help the world with it! that may be a direction i should pursue, that of training in morality, as i have been neglecting my job and friends and such in the pursuit of meditation for myself only.

RE: A Short (Ha!) Update - 23/12/10
Answer
12/23/10 6:38 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Basically I'll be sitting there... then I'll get a kind of urge to tremble, or a feeling that I will tremble soon. At some point it happens, and either a part of my body or almost the entire body (usually the back) will tremble/vibrate in an energetic way for a second or two. it passes soon after that. it happens somewhat often, but not too much in any one sit, not to the point where it gets uncomfortable or physically tiring (last time i counted 5 evenly-spaced trembles, and no more after that). i don't do anything in particular to subdue / not subdue it


You've got it bang on. That's pretty much identical, problem is that I seem to either get stuck in this mad inbetween sub-jhana thing which seems to be about letting go. I now suspect that there's some underlying issue with release, or letting go afoot here. I'll look into that one. Funnily enough, tonight it did come up but it passed very quickly due to this current increase in mindfulness so there may be some psychological issue to address here.

That's really interesting actually, thanks for posting that. The fact you're seeing this shimmering at will is even more interesting! Perhaps we're both simultaneously going utterly mental! Huzzah!!

RE: A Short (Ha!) Update - 23/12/10
Answer
12/23/10 6:53 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:

That's really interesting actually, thanks for posting that. The fact you're seeing this shimmering at will is even more interesting! Perhaps we're both simultaneously going utterly mental! Huzzah!!


Heh yes indeed. I often feel that I've traded a life of being subject to the whims of the world, with me being unable to control my reactions to it too well (pre-meditation), to a life of being subject to the whims of these damn insight cycles, which i at least know are caused by my mind in some way and i have some hope of escaping, but still sucks for now. feel as if i've developed some form of bipolar disorder...

oo i should qualify what i said about shimmering. i didn't quite look at the word carefully. i don't mean it as in a everything is rising and falling, which is what you said. i more focused on the aspect you mentioned of being able to see everything happening. i kind of am able to focus on the physical qualities of the world and find pleasure in them, with mental ones still intruding but somewhat diminished. sounds more like an AF-style thing actually.

RE: A Short (Ha!) Update - 23/12/10
Answer
12/24/10 5:17 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I know the feeling there but having the maps to work with certainly makes a big difference to the time spent going through the more arduous stages. I'd spent over ten years practicing magick with no adequate map of progress so finding the Theravadan maps has been a revelation. Just stick with it and you'll be fine, you've got the commitment and the ability to get where you want to be but we all know that it's not plain sailing on the seas of attainment.

The "shimmering" is something that's been going on for the last few years here, it just looks like seeing these wide, spacious vibrations when I'm looking at the air between objects but changes in frequency depending on what I'm looking at. It's easily visible with a slight shift in "seeing" which I can only describe as being like flexing the sense of concentration. No idea what it is but it's a nice way to choose to see the world.

RE: A Short (Ha!) Update - 23/12/10
Answer
12/24/10 6:13 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy M:

Something I've noticed consistently while doing seated vipassana is the intense trembling which seems to mark the entry to Dark Night for me. Before the last few days I found that noting it as "movement" made it pass quicker but when that failed to work, I increased my focus on the origin of the shaking and now have a few questions I wonder if anyone could advise on?

1. While the initial sensation of trembling may very well be Dissolution going into Dark Night I suspect that there's a psychosomatic aspect which I haven't quite figured out yet. I get thought sensations of my body "playing along" with the shaking which is making me wonder if I'm subconsciously allowing my body to be carried away with sensations. The peculiar thing is that, while I can feel my body as being present, there's a feeling of being shaken from the outside in. It's not "scary" or threatening, it's actually quite funny to sit through but very distraction and physically tiring. Anyone else had this same sort of thing happen?


Yes, I got that a lot during the past few months. For a few weeks I had this every meditation session for most of the duration of the session. I learned not to get annoyed with it, since that wasn't helping. Eventually I decided I would take the trembling as a cue to relax, and doing so brings it to a halt.

Tommy:

2. If it's not something directly practice related and/or psychosomatic, does anyone know about how something like a basic half-lotus could perhaps cause me to trap a nerve or something similar?


I don't think it's a trapped nerve, trembling is a common occurrence for meditators.


3. Something else I've noticed has been a sort of "tick" I've developed, or at least become more aware of, since the last time I had an A&P Kundalini bonanza about four weeks ago. I'm considering the possibility of some sort of misplacement of energies since it's quite a pronounced twitch in my legs and/or arms which feels similar to a myclonic jerk only while fully awake. I've been sticking to Theravada practice so I've avoided trying to work with these sensations as the chakras. I also think I'll speak to the doctor about this too just for the sake of safety but I wondered if anyone had noticed anything similar or had any ideas of how to work with this?


I've had that ever since my first dark night. It was very intense then and still get that occasionally. It seems to go away or at least attenuate with further purification.

RE: A Short (Ha!) Update - 23/12/10
Answer
12/24/10 7:45 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Cheers Bruno, I sat for 20 minutes this morning doing vipassana and have noted that there has indeed been a reduction in these "ticks" since investigating them more precisely. I'm waiting till my main sitting tonight to examine any change in this shaking stage so I'll report back later.

RE: A Short (Ha!) Update - 23/12/10
Answer
12/25/10 5:29 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Tommy wrote:
1. While the initial sensation of trembling may very well be Dissolution going into Dark Night I suspect that there's a psychosomatic aspect which I haven't quite figured out yet. I get thought sensations of my body "playing along" with the shaking which is making me wonder if I'm subconsciously allowing my body to be carried away with sensations. The peculiar thing is that, while I can feel my body as being present, there's a feeling of being shaken from the outside in. It's not "scary" or threatening, it's actually quite funny to sit through but very distraction and physically tiring. Anyone else had this same sort of thing happen?


This is something I've been wondering about. As the sensations pile up and I start to notice vibrations, I will become aware of my body shaking in the same rhythm as the vibrations. I can either ride the shaking and it gets more intense, or I focus on it and it clears for a bit. I was likewise wondering whether it was psychosomatic: as though I was getting carried away by vibrations, or was trying to increase them by will.

Andy