Another Stream Entry Report

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Nickolas Grabovac, modified 11 Years ago at 3/28/11 3:15 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 3/28/11 3:15 AM

Another Stream Entry Report

Posts: 19 Join Date: 2/10/11 Recent Posts
Hi everyone,

I’ve been lurking on DhO for several months and found the Discussion Boards to be incredibly helpful for my insight practice. I decided to finally break my silence here and post about my recent stream entry in the hope that it will help encourage others to go for it and get it done. I also want to thank Daniel for writing MCTB, without which I would probably still be meditating in a half-assed way with no clue what I was doing or why I wasn’t getting anywhere.

I found MCTB in late October of 2010, read it cover to cover in a couple of days, and started following the instructions for Mahasi-style noting practice described at tathagata.org. I had trouble with verbal noting - it took so long for me to decide what label to assign to the sensation, that I would miss many other sensations, so went with just being aware of the sensations as quickly and accurately as possible. The exercise in MCTB of paying careful attention to the index fingers was very helpful, since the sensations were strong and obvious in my fingers. I also found the sensations in my face were easy to notice as well, so I worked with these too. I found focusing on my abdomen more difficult than focusing on my hands and face - couldn’t feel as much there.

After about two weeks practicing at home, working up to 45 min per sit, I attended a local, non-residential, weekend retreat. I decided to really go for it, and more importantly, actually listen to the teachers’ instructions, based on the advice in MCTB. At the retreat, I alternated between 45 minute sits and 45 minutes of walking meditation, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. During the first day of the retreat, I got a really clear taste of mind and body, noticing the mental impression that seemed to tag along with every sensation. During the second day, I got a taste of Three Characteristics and things began to speed up. I had fairly intense pain in my knees and back for most of the day. When I couldn’t sit in my usual posture because of the pain, I continued the meditation in a different sitting position, or even standing up. By the end of the second day, the sensations were becoming decomposed into vibrations. I described what I was experiencing to the teacher and she encouraged me to stick with it and try to relax into the experience and to experiment with a ‘narrow’ vs. ‘wide angle’ attention. The last meditation of the retreat, I had the experience of rapidly spinning in place while noticing the sensations in my face.

After the retreat, I was stoked, and meditated every day, for about 1 to 2 hours each sit. After a couple of weeks, I got into obvious A&P territory, with either very fast vibrations or particle-like sensations. Sometime, my face felt like it was being rapidly showered by fine raindrops. I had lots of kundalini-like rushes of energy shooting up my spine. Occasionally, the energy would burst out the top of my head and then rain down on me. During this period, I slept very poorly, since the A&P sensations would wake me up several times during the night. Sometimes I saw intense flashes of white light during my dreams, some in kaleidoscopic patterns, which would wake me up and be followed by kundalini energy racing up my spine and down my arms and legs. I also had more of the rapid spinning experiences that I first encountered during the retreat. I found many of the A&P experiences to be really intense, and I would sometimes get very tense, both mentally and physically, during the sit, which seemed to block further progress. To help ease the tension, I spent the next week focusing on staying relaxed and accepting and ‘surfing’ the experiences. This helped tremendously, and after about a week of ‘surfing’ practice, I no longer tensed up and could allow the strange and intense sensations to arise and pass away while noting as much as possible.

After another few weeks, I noticed the frequency of the vibrations would peak and then decrease, followed by a calm spaciousness, which would then be followed by some different, low frequency sensations. At the time, I thought it was just another phase of A&P, since I had not noticed any unknowing events, but in hindsight, this was probably Dissolution. Then, in early January, I had a sit where I clearly felt A&P fade away and finally realized that I had shifted into Dissolution and then into Dark Night territory. I couldn’t really distinguish between the Dark Night stages of Fear, Misery, Disgust and Desire for Deliverance. Reobservation, on the other hand, was clearly different. It felt more energetic and noticeably more uncomfortable than the other Dark Night stages.

Most of my Dark Night experiences were at the level of bare sensation, so I experienced very little psychological content, for which I was very grateful. I was, however, more irritable than usual for about a week after the sit in early January when I finally clued into where I was in the stages of insight. Dark Night lasted for about a week before I got my first taste of Equanimity. During the Dark Night stages, I stayed in ‘wide angle’ awareness and didn’t try to notice individual sensations. Instead, I noticed the sensations on the periphery in ‘broad strokes’, staying as relaxed and accepting of whatever I was experiencing as possible. Then I just ‘hung out’ with the sensations until Reobservation came. At this point, things began to speed up again and I continued to observe in broad strokes in a relaxed way, until the somewhat annoying, discordant, prickly, jarring sensations of Reobservation melted away into this gentle, undulating, ‘liquid fuzz’ kind of sensation. Then it felt as though I had just walked into an enormous cavern in a dark cave and there was this obvious shift into a feeling of spaciousness. At this point, I realized that I had probably entered Equanimity.

After my first experience of Equanimity, there was a definite shift in daily life. I found it nearly impossible to get upset with my kids or my wife or with anything at all. I found it easy to perform tasks that I would usually try to avoid or procrastinate at. This was also when I had my first experience of looking at my hands and seeing them as having the no-self characteristic. They were obviously still my hands, but they no longer had the quality of ‘mineness’ to them, rather, they looked like familiar hands that could just as easily belong to someone else. This experience was a bit of a shock, but also strangely natural at the same time. Also during this time, I found it much easier to feel all the little sensations in the abdominal region that make up breathing. I also found that focusing on the breath at the abdomen during a sit seemed to build my momentum up much faster than focusing on sensations in my face or hands, and propel me quickly into Equanimity.

I stayed in Equanimity for about a month, during which time I was able to clearly experience the no-self characteristic in my breathing sensations in my abdominal region. It felt as though the breath was breathing itself. I also started to experience formlessness (as an absence of a mental image of myself) during the sits. I found it very hard to not anticipate the fruition event, since I would get into what felt like a high Equanimity and there would be the feeling that something big was about to happen. Then I would get all tense and excited and things would go nowhere. It felt like I was lost somewhere in Equanimity and couldn’t figure out how to move on. At this point, I had a conversation with Daniel, where he recommended checking out the DhO and getting some advice on how to proceed. So I read every post I could find that had anything to do with equanimity, as well as rereading the Equanimity section in MCTB. What I had been missing was paying more attention to the sensations associated with spaciousness, awareness, etc. The next several sits, I noticed everything I could about the sensations of spaciousness and awareness, but I still felt stuck. Then I finally realized that there was a sensation in my chest area that I had been avoiding, which seemed to be associated with fear and holding back. The next evening, on Feb 14, 2011, I did my usual sitting practice and noted the chest sensations whenever they occurred, as well as spaciousness and awareness. I also totally relaxed about the whole thing and just hung out with the sensations and ‘surfed’ them, in the same way as I had learned to do while in A&P. That’s when the fruition occurred. It happened very much as described in MCTB: high equanimity, formless; breath and many other sensations clearly not-self and impermanent. I Lapsed into a reverie of some sort - can’t recall now what it was - and ‘forgot’ to practice, which was followed by a sudden jolt back to awareness, and soon after by a ringing in my ears and a total-body bliss wave. The bliss experience was a pleasant, sometimes wavy, sometimes particle-like, feeling that encompassed my entire body. My third-eye/forehead area was pulsing, as well as the back of my head. It felt like a ‘reset’. I felt clear, rather than spaced-out, and light. I was happy in a calm, relaxed sort of way. It was like being post final-exams, but without the spent feeling. Awesome stuff. After the fruition experience, things somehow felt different and I suspected that I had gotten Stream Entry.

I went to bed and tried to sleep, but was kept awake by the bliss wave for a long time. Just when I was starting to fall asleep, I got my first review cycle. I could pretty clearly distinguish the stages of Mind and Body through to A&P and Dissolution, followed by the Dark Night, Reobservation, Equanimity and then a blip, followed by another bliss wave/reset feeling.

I spent the next two weeks reviewing the stages during each sit, trying to notice the shifts from one stage into the other as carefully as I could. Still couldn’t distinguish between the middle Dark Night stages. I made resolutions to abide in the ‘attainment of fruition of 1st path for 5 min’ as Mahasi suggests in Progress of Insight in order to try to get a really good look at the fruition event, 3 doors, etc, but was unable to lengthen the duration of the fruition. Following Daniel’s suggestion, however, I was able to move through the stages of insight via intention. I could go through the stages in order, moving to the next stage when intending to, or I could jump back and forth between the stages simply by intending ‘A&P’ or ‘Reobservation’ or ‘Equanimity’, etc. Very cool! During daily life, especially while walking outside, I found that I would often experience no-self in my hands and face. Occasionally, even the mental impression of myself that is normally always present in my mind would disappear, during which everything I was seeing outside would noticeably brighten and feel more immediate and intimate in some way.

Anyway, sorry about the long post - I just wanted to put this out there on DhO in case anyone found it helpful or encouraging. I know that the posts on DhO describing stream entry were very encouraging for me.

Cheers,

Nick
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John H, modified 11 Years ago at 4/22/11 3:49 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 4/22/11 3:49 AM

RE: Another Stream Entry Report

Posts: 34 Join Date: 10/8/10 Recent Posts
Hi Nick,

Thanks for your report, I enjoyed reading it.

I'm kinda 'stuck' in equanimity at the minute and there were a few moments while reading your post that I was nodding in agreeance as your experiences line up with mine. I've mostly been focusing on sounds whilst I was noting in equanimity but this morning I remembered that noting space and awareness is recommended, so I began to do that as well with good results. I think this works well because equanimity is so silky smooth and it sometimes feels as if there isn't any vibrations at all to note.

It's interesting what you say about the fearful sensations holding you back. I've had some fearful sensations but they were more blatant and only occur when the energetic pressure in my head is quite intense. I will definitely look out for more subtle fearful sensations.

I'm not sure whether I've experienced high equanimity yet but there does seem to be another shift after equanimity in my sits. It's as if vibrations come back (after the smoothness of equanimity) and noting becomes difficult. I was trying to note footsteps at one point but it was as if the note didn't suit the actual exeprience of the sensation, almost like it wasn't adequate to represent that sensation. It felt more normal to just pay bare attention to sensations. Quite trippy.

Anyway thanks for your post. I've got a weekend to myself next week so I'm gonna do a mini 'at home' retreat and really go for it.

John
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Nickolas Grabovac, modified 11 Years ago at 4/26/11 1:11 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 4/26/11 1:11 AM

RE: Another Stream Entry Report

Posts: 19 Join Date: 2/10/11 Recent Posts
Hi John,

Glad you found it helpful. Best of luck on your mini-retreat. Let us know how it goes.

Cheers,

Nick
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Eric B, modified 11 Years ago at 4/26/11 7:06 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 4/26/11 7:06 PM

RE: Another Stream Entry Report

Posts: 187 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Hi Nick,

Thanks for your detailed report; it's very helpful.

When you finally realized there was a sensation in the chest that you had been avoiding, were you specifically looking for something you had previously missed, or was it something that presented itself in the process of your surfing the sensations in equanimity, or something other than either of the two aforementioned possibilities?

I ask because I've been in the upper reaches of equaniminty for 20+ days now and haven't "popped" yet. I'm walking around with panoramic awareness of space and sound.

Thanks,

Eric
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Nickolas Grabovac, modified 11 Years ago at 4/26/11 10:34 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 4/26/11 10:34 PM

RE: Another Stream Entry Report

Posts: 19 Join Date: 2/10/11 Recent Posts
Hi Eric,

Glad you found the report useful. I had been aware of the sensation in my chest at other times, but I basically ignored it. It because obvious that I needed to pay more attention to it when I let go of my 'striving' for stream entry and just surfed the sensations. It was obvious because, while 'surfing', I noticed everything that was going on, since that was what the surfing was all about - not leaving anything out, taking it all in, watching it arise and pass away, even seeing the gap between the passing away of one sensation and the arising of the next. It's a kind of alert, attentive yet relaxed attitude. I find that when I'm surfing it, everything is so interesting, I forget to strive =).

If you've been in it for 20+ days, I'm guessing you are super close - there's just probably something subtle that you've missed somewhere.

Cheers,

Nick
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John H, modified 11 Years ago at 4/27/11 3:18 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 4/27/11 3:18 AM

RE: Another Stream Entry Report

Posts: 34 Join Date: 10/8/10 Recent Posts
Very timely stuff guys. I noticed in my sit this morning that I get to a stage where sensations are very inclusive and I feel that I'm so close to SE and am expecting it to happen any second. Then I notice the sensations im my chest and there's a defiinite attachment and yearning there. I think the idea surfing the sensations could be very useful in this situation as stream entry is not going to happen whilst I have that attachment. I'm going to focus on surfing tomorrow, gnarly dude! emoticon

Thanks!

John

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