Through A&P all the way to Equanimity

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Andy R, modified 10 Years ago.

Through A&P all the way to Equanimity

Posts: 42 Join Date: 10/24/10 Recent Posts
I had a pretty interesting passage through A&P territory back at the end of January. I’ve re-crossed the A&P a few times in the past, and usually I get some fireworks, but nothing like this. This was waaaaay out there on the intensity scale.

Near the end of January, I did 14 hours of noting over two days on a long drive to visit a friend. A day after I got back home, I woke up with a lot of body bliss, but that never really developed and I had to get up for work. Hoping to continue whatever I left off, I did a reclining meditation session in bed that evening.

I started at 8:00 pm, and set the timer for an hour. I counted breaths to get into access concentration, but was tired and so I started fading in and out and fell asleep. When the chime rang an hour later, I woke with very strong body bliss and intense pleasurable sensations building up. The bliss kept getting stronger and more pervasive, and finally peaked with a very strong body rush. Shortly after that peak, the intense bliss and pleasure rapidly faded, and I felt a lot of coolness on my skin. The difference in the intensity of sensation from before and after the rush was striking.

Soon, I started getting some unpleasant tingles and vibrations, almost like very mild, low-frequency electric current. This increased in intensity, until it felt like slightly different frequencies were happening in different parts of my body. I started yawning, and my breathing seemed tighter and a bit constricted. Every once in a while, I’d feel a shift (for lack of a better way to describe them), almost like vertigo in a way, lasting maybe a second or two. I also had anxiety, itches in lots of places, full-body goosebumps, needed to swallow a bunch of times, and had strong urges to move or stop several times.

It was definitely harder to focus on separate sensations, and there were definitely a lot of them happening at the same time -- different tinglings, vibrations, larger longer-duration waves slowly washing over me. It almost felt like I was a cork bobbing in a very busy pool, or I was in the back or a truck driving over a washboard road. At one point, I suddenly felt tightness and fear in my chest and abdomen, and icy coldness flashed through my gut.

Eventually, after quite a while, things settled down, the vibrations and tinglings smoothed out and became much more consonant rather than dissonant, and the roughness faded away. It now felt like I was washed up on shore, and the waves were still hitting me, but at least I had something solid under me. The intensity of this faded as well, and although it still didn’t feel completely pleasant, I felt relief and calmness. I decided to try to see how far I could go with this phase of things, and hung out with the sensations. I tried to note for a while, but kept finding myself losing focus and following the content of thoughts. I’d note again, and then lose focus and eventually realize I was lost in thought. Nothing really changed much after that. I almost felt bored, and was having a hard time finding stuff to examine or note. Eventually I stopped meditating.

When I looked at the clock, I realized to my astonishment that it was now almost 11:00 pm, and that almost three hours had passed since I first lay down. I got up, walked around feeling wrung out, did some stuff around the house and went to bed. The next morning, I wrote up my notes.

What still really stands out for me over a month later was that:
1. I basically did little to nothing to encourage any progress through the stages. Once I realized I was in the A&P, I was essentially along for the ride and holding on for dear life.
2. All the different sensations were very vivid, physically intense, and deeply consuming. There was no room or time for discursive thought until near the end.
3. The intensity of this A&P was way off the charts compared to previous ones.
4. It’s now pretty clear to me I ended up in early Equanimity.

I'd appreciate any comments, questions, or commentary on this.
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Beoman Claudiu Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Through A&P all the way to Equanimity

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
UPDATE: Oh, I just realized this was a sit that happened a month ago. In that case, my main question is: what has happened since then? How are your sits now? The rest just confirms your assessment.

I was going to say, considering the sit started off in A&P, you saw clearly A&P->Dissolution, it was more intense than before, and you meditated for 2 hours without noticing it, maybe you had already gotten Stream Entry. Have you noticed anything in the previous month that supports that?

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

Andy R:
When the chime rang an hour later, I woke with very strong body bliss and intense pleasurable sensations building up. The bliss kept getting stronger and more pervasive, and finally peaked with a very strong body rush. Shortly after that peak, the intense bliss and pleasure rapidly faded, and I felt a lot of coolness on my skin. The difference in the intensity of sensation from before and after the rush was striking.

A&P/2nd jhana -> Dissolution/3rd jhana.

Andy R:
Soon, I started getting some unpleasant tingles and vibrations, almost like very mild, low-frequency electric current. This increased in intensity, until it felt like slightly different frequencies were happening in different parts of my body. I started yawning, and my breathing seemed tighter and a bit constricted. Every once in a while, I’d feel a shift (for lack of a better way to describe them), almost like vertigo in a way, lasting maybe a second or two. I also had anxiety, itches in lots of places, full-body goosebumps, needed to swallow a bunch of times, and had strong urges to move or stop several times.

It was definitely harder to focus on separate sensations, and there were definitely a lot of them happening at the same time -- different tinglings, vibrations, larger longer-duration waves slowly washing over me. It almost felt like I was a cork bobbing in a very busy pool, or I was in the back or a truck driving over a washboard road. At one point, I suddenly felt tightness and fear in my chest and abdomen, and icy coldness flashed through my gut.

3rd vipassana jhana (Dark Night) stuff using the body/emotions as objects of meditation. hard to identify the nyanas, sounds generally like Re-Observation.

Andy R:
Eventually, after quite a while, things settled down, the vibrations and tinglings smoothed out and became much more consonant rather than dissonant, and the roughness faded away. It now felt like I was washed up on shore, and the waves were still hitting me, but at least I had something solid under me. The intensity of this faded as well, and although it still didn’t feel completely pleasant, I felt relief and calmness. I decided to try to see how far I could go with this phase of things, and hung out with the sensations. I tried to note for a while, but kept finding myself losing focus and following the content of thoughts. I’d note again, and then lose focus and eventually realize I was lost in thought. Nothing really changed much after that. I almost felt bored, and was having a hard time finding stuff to examine or note. Eventually I stopped meditating.

4th vipassana jhana/Equanimity, indeed!

Just keep going. Be sure to note everything I bolded. You will keep losing focus & keep coming back, note that, too. Note boredom and sense of pointlessness of meditating. About having a hard time finding stuff to examine or note - note anything subtle that you notice, e.g. awareness, calm, boredom, ease, relief, spaciousness, whatever subtle things you're seeing visually.. there's lots of sensations that make up all of those that you may be taking for granted.

"Eventually I stopped meditating" is the way it tends to end, so set a timer and sit & note until it goes off.
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Andy R, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Through A&P all the way to Equanimity

Posts: 42 Join Date: 10/24/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Beoman:
UPDATE: Oh, I just realized this was a sit that happened a month ago. In that case, my main question is: what has happened since then? How are your sits now? The rest just confirms your assessment.

I was going to say, considering the sit started off in A&P, you saw clearly A&P->Dissolution, it was more intense than before, and you meditated for 2 hours without noticing it, maybe you had already gotten Stream Entry. Have you noticed anything in the previous month that supports that?


Shoot! Thanks for pointing out the obvious. Yes. I went back through all my sit notes and did find this gem on January 6th:

[indent]Jan 6 Woke up a bit early and decided to meditate until the alarm went off. Was concentrated most of the time, and was able to note some of the time. Got a bit of a jerk, then some spreading body warmth. Likely not cessation, but I'll try to keep track of these. Meditated for 10 minutes before work and was able to note continuously. Was able to note continuously in the car on the way to work for 30 minutes. Feel great this morning, energized even though I feel a bit tired. Easy to get concentrated if I think about it, and getting the same bliss in the front of my abdomen if I concentrate a bit on it.[/indent]

Turns out that January was a very unusual month to me in a lot of ways with a lot of drastic ups and downs emotionally. Soon after the event above, I attended a conference where I picked up a wicked nasty flu bug. The following week at work, I was picked for a high-profile team starting development on a new company initiative, and was extremely excited about that. I then picked up a cold which laid me low for a while. After that, I did a 1,400 mile road trip to visit a friend (that's when I did the 14+ hours of noting). By the time I got back on track in February, I had managed to ignore a number of things that are more obvious to me now.

It makes sense that the January 25 experience is the start of a new cycle. I had initially thought that I had gotten path last week, but had been confused about it because the timing didn't make sense.

I'll post separately to talk about this, and hope that some of the DHO regulars can look at my recent experiences and tell me if I actually did get path, or if I've managed to simply convince myself I did.

Beoman Claudiu Beoman:

Just keep going. Be sure to note everything I bolded. You will keep losing focus & keep coming back, note that, too. Note boredom and sense of pointlessness of meditating. About having a hard time finding stuff to examine or note - note anything subtle that you notice, e.g. awareness, calm, boredom, ease, relief, spaciousness, whatever subtle things you're seeing visually.. there's lots of sensations that make up all of those that you may be taking for granted.

"Eventually I stopped meditating" is the way it tends to end, so set a timer and sit & note until it goes off.


Thanks for the advice: all very good points. I do usually use a timer, btw. I sometimes choose to continue past the chime if I seem like I'm making progress. Or if something really interesting happens :-).
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Through A&P all the way to Equanimity

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Andy, this is report is very well written. Nicely done.

Getting "lost in thought" in the Equanimity ñana is very common; it's par for the course, really, for those who are making their first treks through the territory. Another way to describe being "lost in thought" is to call it "losing mindfulness." That's what happens, right? At first you're noting, and then you've either thinking in loops or getting caught up in the dreamscape. In fact, the initial insights of the Equanimity ñana can really get one's thoughts going, philosophizing and such. This will burn itself out in time, so there isn't something you need to fight tooth and nail against.

One of the ways I learned to keep from losing mindfulness in the Equanimity ñana is to note something that is both obvious and neutral. This can be something like "knowing, knowing" or simply the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe. If you find yourself getting sleeping in this stage, take a moment to take deeper breaths, and to take them a bit more frequently. This will energize your body a bit and keep you more alert.

The point is to keep mindfulness going in a way that recognizes and acknowledges change, selflessness, or the paradox of suffering and compassion (which seem to arise together in the Equanimity ñana). Be the container of experience, while recognizing that this perspective is also conditioned and changing (it wasn't there before, right?).

Best of luck, and practice well!
-Jackson
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Andy R, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Through A&P all the way to Equanimity

Posts: 42 Join Date: 10/24/10 Recent Posts
Thanks, Jackson, I appreciate it.

Equanimity has been very deceptive territory for me. And, based on what I just realized(see my previous reply to Claudiu), I apparently missed some really big things.

Sleepiness during meditation has been an issue for me, but I also have sleep issues - some nights I wake up many many time during the night. In meditation, I had attributed the head nods, dreaminess, disorientation, then sudden clarity to falling asleep and waking up.

I'll take your advice with me on my next session. I'll also post separately about possible stream entry. I'm still confused about that and don't seem to have all of the markers I expect. Now that the Jhanananda excitement is over, maybe I'll get more people to look at that post.

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