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Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal

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Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/17/20 6:19 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/17/20 6:26 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/17/20 6:48 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/18/20 3:06 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Lewis James 1/18/20 3:58 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/18/20 5:27 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/18/20 5:29 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/19/20 6:09 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/20/20 2:28 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/25/20 9:04 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/26/20 1:50 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/27/20 3:28 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/27/20 5:20 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/29/20 7:02 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/30/20 7:10 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/30/20 7:22 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 1/30/20 9:14 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/31/20 4:37 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Che Guebuddha 2/1/20 4:01 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/1/20 7:28 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Che Guebuddha 2/1/20 11:14 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/1/20 11:43 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Che Guebuddha 2/1/20 1:08 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/2/20 2:27 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Che Guebuddha 2/2/20 3:19 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/6/20 9:29 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/6/20 9:40 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/7/20 5:14 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/11/20 1:17 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/19/20 12:45 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Shane N Presswood 2/1/20 10:05 PM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/2/20 2:15 AM
RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal Bill T 2/2/20 2:29 AM
Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/17/20 6:19 PM
This is an experiment. I'm starting this journal to:

1. Keep a record and process things for myself
2. Hopefully get some feedback, advice or encouragement from those who've been before me.
3. Leave a record that might be useful to future travellers.

Background
Long time meditator for 20 years on and off, mainly via 'Goenka' Vipassana courses. Sat maybe 7 courses, served a couple, and sat a few more short ones. Kept up a solid practice at times. After a lapse of about a decade, I started building back into a daily meditation practice of 20-60 minutes a day, over the past 3 years.

Recent Events
Got into MCTB, fire kasina and this forum via my brother, a few months ago. Started using kasina type practices and found it to be fun and powerful . Tried a variety of light sources, and after a month or so found I didn't really need a light source to do a 'visual' focused meditation. During this time I went regularly through what I interpret to be 1st - 3rd Jhana, from "hard work" concentration, to easy concentration with more visuals, to "full-space" awareness (scary at first, relaxing and blissful later).

Arising & Passing Event
About 9:30am, 7th Jan. Doing a normal ~ 30 minute sit, with my wife and friend having a loud conversation next door. Nothing unusual going on, got into a pretty good concentration then WHOOSH, a huge rushing orgasmic 'kundalini' type energy going through my body from bottom to top. Felt highly sexual - unlike previous A&P experiences I've had. First rush lasted maybe 5-10 minutes. I remember thinking "wow - this is pretty full on, but not really a full-blown A&P thing". Then it hit again for a further 10 minutes or so (as it seemed). Closest analogy I have in my own experience is a very strong MDMA hit (I experienced this a few times over 25 years ago). Just really full on. After this I had to get my shit together and go to work!

This was followed by about 24 hours of very strange phenomena - felt like I was swimming in magical energy, could read the intent of everyone around me, "see through their eyes", had powerful emotional connections. This led to a strange conversation in the street, and all kinds of odd moments. If I closed my eyes for a moment, I was back in the rushing blissful stream, that seemed to be stimulated by concentrating on the 'electric' golden patterns behind my eyelids.

As I was about halfway through MCTB, as I 'came down' my immediate concern was 'dark night' problems coming up next, and dealing with the fallout of this event, wonderful though it was. Started connecting with friends and local sangha to discuss and try to make sense of it.

Current Practice
Since the event, practice has been generally good. It's been strange to come down from - far more stimulating in every way than any drug I ever did. Like ti lasted 30 minutes, plus a week! I miss my superpowers! Normal life seems a bit mundane after all that, but meditation feels generally easy. Got some good advice on taking it easy, trying not to do 'central' type focus, accepting, getting back to basic 3C's, 6 sense doors. Site have been way less 'sparky' and much more blurry, but I've been learning to enjoy that and 'just observe' as Goenka says.
Meditation and life *did* feel really sad for a bit, which might match the maps. Had a few sits that felt like sensations were sakura, falling away, and remorse on having chased them around my whole life.
All in all I feel really blessed to have been through this - especially given the context. "I" got there on my own steam, at home, in everyday life, as an 'independent' practitioner - building on all the experiences, teachers and teachings I've encountered. It's truly a beautiful thing this life, and I'm so lucky to get to appreciate it in this way. I now feel very driven to continue to practice, and find ways to help spread the dhamma through whatever skilful means I can find. This is typical A&P stuff, I'm aware - so I'm also trying to temper any fanatical fervour with a realistic look at my life now as a husband, dad and capitalist worker-bee. Present commitments preclude me from racing off to a monastery, and that's OK.

So. I'm going to try and keep a record here. I'd welcome any words of encouragement and advice, or any questions you might have about your current practice.

With gratitude to all my teachers, and the opportunity to find this practice. Metta to you all.


---
(Hitting Ctrl C now to paste this from another app! Lost a similar post yesterday ><)

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/17/20 6:26 PM as a reply to Bill T.
Just a quick note - been finding things a lot tougher today. Meditation has been ..OK.. but everything seems very dull, and I've been easily agitated / upset by people around me. It's amazing how coarse everything feels, and "I miss the magic!" Funny how quickly things can turn around. I'm still doing alright but this process of integration is tough.

Side note: Just realised while listening to a Shinzen Young interview that Ingram's "Dissolution" translates as "Bhanga" (correct me if I'm wrong.) Funny thing is, on those courses this was always the fun exciting stage we would look forward to. I guess it got confused in my head with ideas of the A&P.

Yeah, so anyway - dissolution is weird.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/17/20 6:48 PM as a reply to Bill T.
I have been confused about the very same thing. I think that possibly their mappings differ, but are similar enough to make one think that they should be the same. As far as I can see, Shinzen's description of Bhanga, which he translates as dissolution, comprises (among others) aspects that the PoI mapping according to Daniel would ascribe to the A&P. I also think that Shinzen talks about aspects that Michael Taft thinks should have its own map, namely a map for degrees of deconstruction, which is not the same thing as the chronology of cycling. Michael's decinstruction map is more comparable with the TMI map, but geared towards vipassana rather than shamatha. That distinction made it less confusing for me, once I had understood it. 

It sounds like the A&P you went through recently was the kind that is especially hard to let go of. Dissolution can be a struggle in that regard. Apparently many people like it, but I tend to find it difficult and sluggish in a way that reminds me too much of apathy for it to be comfortable, especially if it takes away qualities that I tend to crave. I'm working on it, and it seems to gradually get somewhat easier, but there are many layers to those cravings and aversions.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/18/20 3:06 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks Linda - interesting!

The maps stuff can be confusing. Like - comparing Shinzen's description of enlightenment to the MCTB map. Did Shinzen go through 4 cycles to Arahantship, or just get Stream Entry and stop there, back in the 70s? I haven't read his book yet, but this wasn't clear from his interview. Giant insects aside!

Yeah.. Feeling a bit better this morning but it's tough. Coming down off a drug that lasts over a week is the closest analogy I have. Like most drugs last 2-6 hours and you're done. Get over the after effects / hangover the next day.

This was like going down a really fast ski slope for a whole day, followed by a week of coasting. Now feels almost like I'm back in the valley again, slogging about in my ski boots!

Haven't sat yet this morning though.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/18/20 3:58 AM as a reply to Bill T.
If I remember rightly, Shinzen first got awakened via Zen, and only found his way into Theravada Vipassana teachings after his stream entry. So his path is a bit idiosyncratic in that way. I don't think he's ever claimed arahantship, in fact I've heard him (jokingly) say in a talk "Who would want that?"

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/18/20 5:27 AM as a reply to Lewis James.
Hah, nice!

Thanks Lewis. 

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/18/20 5:29 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Practice update - Found time to sit. So glad I did.

Just beautiful. Waves of purple fading light, almost 'Instagram' gradients, pulsing like lotuses. Energy, energy. Wow. Feeling very reassured, like spirits were calling to me saying they were still here. Was reminded, felt like prayer, thought for a moment about the parallels between meditation and prayer. 
Speechless. 

Wish I had more time to sit, but I've got to head out. Mind blown. Wish I could access this easier without needing a mat and some quiet! Will try to maintain somehow. 

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/19/20 6:09 PM as a reply to Bill T.
In flight meditation 
Today I'm flying to Rwanda via Ethiopia for research on a solar power interface design project I'm working on. Out to airport early so I've been trying to meditate on the plane. Strangely hard work - managed to get into quite a good focus (mainly what seems like 2nd jhana to me) but that was about it. Either slip into dreams or lost focus due to crying babies and other on-board distractions. Still, much better than nothing and I feel slightly better afterwards. More 'grounded'! More aware of sensation, 6 sense doors, headache etc. 
I'll be on Maloff anti-malarials for the next couple of weeks which should be interesting. Reading the packet it's a pretty hardcore poison with lots of potential reactions. Right now I've got quite a headache - though it could just be flying. 
Spinning across half a continent. It's a strange place to be. 
Yesterday I learnt that 'jhana' translates to Ch'an in Chinese and therefore Zen in Japanese. That pretty much blew my mind. Very interesting, will have to dig into this more. Does anyone know if they also talk about the different levels of samatha jhana in Zen Buddhism? I wonder what 'samatha' translates to in Japanese?

(typing this on a plane with no Internet. Will post when I land!)

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/20/20 2:28 AM as a reply to Bill T.
20 minute sit this morning after maybe 4 hours sleep (got to hotel late). 

Couldn't get much focus so I was switching techniques a bit  - starting with visual 'kasina' type focus, quick body scan (big chunks), bit of noting. Feeling a bit raw after the 2 flights. 

Wired now writing this after a coffee, might try another quick sit as I've nothing booked this morning.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/25/20 9:04 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Back again.

Trip this week really took it out of me - the sleep deprivation, long flights, and crazy culture shock meant I managed only 10 - 20 minutes daily to meditate. Just checking in really. Rwanda is one hell of a place, and it will take a while to process this experience. For now I’ll just say I’m glad to be working on a solar power project for these people, and I feel incredibly humbled. Wish I’d made a trip like this decades ago, and I feel like a total spoilt brat. I also feel very lucky to have had the life I’ve had so far, to have found this meditation, and to have the peace and time to practice. 

Practice
Today I set the alarm for 40 minutes, and had a fairly tough time maintaining what felt like a light first jhana. 
I used a different candle we had knocking around for a Kasina focus, and it danced around like crazy. I’ve also been experimenting with adding a mantra to this practice (I’ve seen Ingram mention it a few times). Whilst in Kigali I tried an ‘Intro to mantra meditation’ via Oak meditation app, and this was enough to help me get started. For the record, the mantra used (I understand this doesn’t matter much) was sathi-ohm - which might translate as universal peace or similar.
Outcomes
Had brief windows of more absorption towards end of the session. Then I lay down, knees up and found my concentration had built, and I held a steady 2nd or 3rd (I don’t know) jhana for a further 50 minutes or so. This was characterised by a steady perception of wide, bright space in the sight. Sometimes reminding me of an empty sky, sometimes like a mirror lake. At other times it was filled with plasma-like clouds pulsing or moving around the field, sometimes seeming coloured - cyan, purple, blue. This perception was right out to the periphery of ‘vision’. (Can anyone diagnose?)

At one point I decided to do a ‘sensation’ scan through the body, and was able to maintain the visual concentration throughout. Sensations in the body were not very subtle (no rushing energies, apart from fast movements in fingertips etc.) but easy to observe in all body parts / limbs.

At one point during the session some idiot was racing around the small streets in my neighbourhood on one of those incredibly noisy motorbikes or quads. This normally annoys the hell out of me but I just found it amusing. It reminds me how much of my life I’ve spent chasing after thrills - but this practice has given me something so much more subtle and powerful.
In terms of stage of insight - I don’t know where I am, but this experience felt very equanimous, so perhaps I’m at ‘Equanimity’. No idea really, and I guess it doesn’t matter much. I feel absolutely fantastic after the session anyway, so bright and full of energy! Sending best wishes to you all.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/26/20 1:50 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Tried again with a candle today. Went through usual nimitta type pattern to begin with, but had trouble getting beyond a ‘1st jhana’ type effort-made concentration. Perhaps I’m just tired - 1st time I’ve been up at 6am since the flight. 

Had some real glimpses of the sparkly plasma stuff again though which was fun. It’s interesting how real waves of bliss seem to accompany them - I can definitely see how easy it would be to become a jhana junkie without an understanding of the bigger picture. Still tired but feeling quite fresh after the sit.

Seem to have stayed free of any dhukka nana stuff since this week - but I did have a terrible nightmare the night before last (son kidnapped etc.). A real ‘fear’ event. Slept in same bed as my son tonight, and anxiety was much less! Feels like the trip took its toll a bit, as I was worried about my family the whole time. More specifically, “what would happen if I died? My poor son!” Type concerns. Felt really irresponsible to leave them and go to a potentially dangerous place. 

Wasn’t able to body scan during the sit - was just trying to build concentration the whole time. It’s amazing though what a benefit this Kasina type meditation seems to be. Life is ... just better seen through a cleaner lens. Diamond came to mind, but that’s so cliche! It’s almost hallucinatory though how strong awareness feels right now. Damn I wish everyone could get a taste of this.

Also so post-A&P cliche, but I have a strong urge to find a way to teach meditation right now. I feel so empowered by exploring this new path, a bit off the approach I learnt in the Goenka Vipassana tradition. The Goenka thing *is* amazing - really has its own benefits, but does feel a bit ‘mushroomy’ as Ingram puts it - keeps people growing in the dark. 

Seriously feeling like I want to make meditation a more central part of my life. It will be interesting to see how things develop. I was looking at ‘Search Inside Yourself’ - corporate mindfulness scheme developed by a Googler a few years back. Good, basic stuff - but they charge a shitload for the training. It’s all a bit capitalist - which is fair enough, but I’m not sure it’s where I’d like to start. Also signed up for a Shinzen Young scheme, but it’s a waiting list so who knows when I’ll hear from them.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/27/20 3:28 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Another sit today after lunch, and it was like a full-on echo of the A&P. Big waves of energy through the body, orgasmic, kundalini, wow! Really no idea WTF is going on, but hey, I'll take a blessing like this anytime. Left feeling bright, inspired, and slightly clairvoyant again. It's a strange, magical feeling, like I can read the intent of people around me. I also feel very concerned, perhaps empathic, and I'm thinking more about how to get on with people and look after them.

Process went like: Candle flame, red spot, nimitta, faded. 'Dots' - grey static, then a solid, black velvet, then the sparkles and waves of energy. Interesting feeling like the 'electric lights' round the periphery of vision were directly related to sensations in the body. Altogether it felt like probably less than half the intensity of the event 20 days ago, but damn full-on and a totally different experience from any of my daily sits. What a strange and magical practice this is.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/27/20 5:20 AM as a reply to Bill T.
OK wow I'm still in A&P territory. Today's sit ended with a crescendo, like staring into the milky-way  or a gas giant. Started to notice then that the waves of energy were actually concentrated in points like chakras up the body. I've always been a massive cynic on chakra stuff so it's very funny to be writing this now with a throbbing pulse of energy in my forehead!


Wtf? How deep does this kasina practice go?! Wish I had more time to sit, but duty calls.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/29/20 7:02 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Daily sits continue strong.

Had a great chat with Kenneth Folk last night - I'm sure it would be fine to share details, but I forgot to ask, so I'm waiting to confirm. Suffice to say he cleared up a bunch of theoretical confusion and gave some great tips on accessing jhanic states.

Meditated for about 75 mins this morning (including 30 min reclining at the end, which remained powerful). I've found a mantra really helpful - I was listening to a Tibetan monk chant 'om ah hum' yesterday, inspired by Shannon Stein mentioning the phrase in the Fire Kasina book. So that's become my jam. It sure as hell beats "thinking about shit", even the meditation - also serves as a really good proxy for concentration level. If the chant's gone, so's my concentration. Honestly wish I'd dug into this stuff decades ago - it's like catnip for my mind right now. Anapana as taught in Goenka courses is powerful stuff, but this feels like I have a whole new complementary arsenal. There ARE 6 sense doors, after all.

Was able to maintain 3rd jhana for maybe 2/3rds of the sit today and it was all pretty A&P. Can also feel a pleasant 'descending' as from cresting a hill. Sadness accompanying occasionaly, but it's like watching sakura fall. Pretty gorgeous, all in all.

Writing this in a cafe right now. Never felt like this before in daily life, except directly post-retreat. Hah. Wish I could tell everyone around me how great this is. I'm such a dharma cliche right now! emoticon

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/30/20 7:10 AM as a reply to Bill T.
6am sit was a good one. So happy I've found this new emphasis on concentration in daily sits. So much clearer on what's happening throughout the session. I feel like I've wasted so much time lost in thought / dreams in previous years. Also kept a chant going all day on the cycle ride into work. Very interesting trying to maintain meditative presence 'off retreat'.

Working out of a co-working space today, and there's a 'MBSR' type sit here in 20 minutes, I'm going to try and join it.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/30/20 7:22 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Bill T:

able to maintain 3rd jhana for maybe 2/3rds of the sit today and it was all pretty A&P. Can also feel a pleasant 'descending' as from cresting a hill. Sadness accompanying occasionaly, but it's like watching sakura fall. Pretty gorgeous, all in all.


In what way was your third jhana pretty A&P, and how does sadness come into the picture? I find this a bit confusing, but maybe I’m misunderstanding you.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/30/20 9:14 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Bill T:

able to maintain 3rd jhana for maybe 2/3rds of the sit today and it was all pretty A&P. Can also feel a pleasant 'descending' as from cresting a hill. Sadness accompanying occasionaly, but it's like watching sakura fall. Pretty gorgeous, all in all.


In what way was your third jhana pretty A&P, and how does sadness come into the picture? I find this a bit confusing, but maybe I’m misunderstanding you.

By A&P I mean - bliss, expansive feelings of energy, broad, deep, energetic.

The sadness is partly "damn I've spent most of my life chasing these vibrations (in a futile way, as it's all annica, and nothing lasts) ... also just that feeling of watching the cherry blossom fall at the end of spring - it's sad, as it's passing, but it's beautiful too.

I'm guessing this is also the start of 'dukkha nana' type stuff.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
1/31/20 4:37 PM as a reply to Bill T.
Sometimes allowing oneself to grieve is necessary for being able to let go and to heal and be free. 

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
2/1/20 4:01 AM as a reply to Bill T.
I find that entering into Dissolution can indeed feel sad as all one can percieve is passing away. When such happened to me firts time I had no knowledge of the maps and I freaked out as my strong A&P was gone! My breath was no where to be found! WTF! I was such a great blissful meditator that can sit easily and focus on any arising so well and no all is gone.

Thankfully one friend linked me to Ingram's book back in 2011 but at that time I had not enough clarity to implement the teaching especially as I was so attached to the concentration practice of Shamatha. I had huge, ney , HUGE resistance to dry Noting and found it tedious and not-so-cool.

Several years passed me being stuck in the Dark stuff and lots of bleedthrouhg happened in my life (jobless for 8 years, divorced my lovely wife who decided anyway to stick with me and Im happy she did so).

Only last year did I said "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, LET ME PLOW THROUGH THIS DARK STUFF AND GET BACK TO LIFE" so I contacted Kenneth Folk and he kindly accepted to work with me via Skype.

This helped me to focus on ONLY ONE TECHNIQUE. Namely his Notin Aloud Mahassi style practice. Within 5 months I have plowed through the Dukkha Nanas/Equanimity and now I feel back to my life, back to myself so to speak and it feels good (eventhough all my PTSD package is still there and other personality stuff I can feel lots of weight being left behind as there is more clarity to the whole sensate univerese which makes this Me).

I see you, @Bil T , mix a few techniques every so often. It would be helpful to see these as hindrances in form of Restlessness and even Doubt maybe (you will know which it is, maybe both).
I see you are a dad (as me), wife and need your job to keep things going. I think getting in touch with just ONE teacher that really knows this territory ill be of great use to you. 
Firstly it will ground you into ONE technique so you really can work on this stuff as it keeps cycling. Secondly it WILL provide you with trust and comfort with it all (yes Doubting your teacher and his/her practice will show up but that is part of the Doubt arising at some point, this is normal and WILL pass away as you keep seeing things as they are)

Mixing techiques every so often can be painful as , say, concentration and vipassana have very different flavour to them. And they both will create a certain acceleration in different dirrections. Say, you practice concentartion and things will start to be more and more solid, then you suddenly STOP to do Vipassana and then low of Inertia pulls you with force away from that solidity into a more flickering aspect of the Noting technique but its not easy to do it as one is still feeling the Inertia from the STOPPING doing Concentration. And vice versa.
So you end up being pulled from one side to the other. This alone can create so much frustration which can be confused with Dark Night stuff.

I would suggest to really decide which technique to pursue and STICK with IT for at least 6 months and give a good try before swapping.
This I find to be very beneficial and less painful.

I only wish I've contacted a good teacher as Kenneth ack in the years I've got into the DN stuff but still better late then never emoticon 

Take care and all the best to you and your family!

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
2/1/20 7:28 AM as a reply to Che Guebuddha.
Practice continues today. Hour long sit, with little change in clarity, good vibes etc. Feeling much better after the sit. Light, bright, etc. Just wish I had more time (duty calls again).

Thanks for your thoughts @che, @linda.

Just for context @che, how long did your A&P inspired phase last?

I'm not so sure I'm mixing techniques, as adding to the Vipassana bedrock my practice is built on. Adding concentration practice via Kasina & mantra - it feels like this huge thing was missing in my meditation. Current sits feel more like I'm using these to access concentration, then I'm not striving anymore, I'm just accepting / observing. In fact, striving seems limiting (detrimental), once I've got somewhere round 2nd / 3rd jhana.

From there, I'm noticing a few things -
  • Visuals (space, volume, lights, patterns behind the eyes. Sometimes more solid, 3D things)
  • Sounds (including mantra)
  • Body sensation (tingling, weight, back pain, stretching, warmth, cold, etc.)
  • Thoughts (dreams & visions included. Noting these when they've distracted me from attention to the rest)
  • Smell / taste (but not much)
It feels like I'm basically doing Vipassana, but a bit more concentrated than I was. Also I've only occasionaly done Goenka-style body-scanning (none today, for instance). Just resting in awareness of the above.

I guess I could go more 'jhanic' via the fire kasina, and lose touch with all the above, if I went for a pure concentration meditation. But I'm not that bothered about it right now. Really just using a candle to get started it seems. I'm not returning to the flame much beyond a pass or two, most days.

Really enjoying having a bit more clarity in meditation, anyhow. It feels like a different level of practice.

Great to hear Kenneth Folk has been so useful! I spoke to him myself for the first time a few days ago, and he was as wise and insightful as I expected. We're lucky to have people like him around.







RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
Answer
2/1/20 11:14 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Oh boy ... that was some time ago but a several good months I would say maybe even up to a year max (I would say less). It was somewhere in the strat of 2011 as I have started with Shamatha May 2010 (calm abiding with whole body breathing as the subject but calming with each in and each outbreath). At first the Mind Body was VERY wow-like as my mind totally fell away into the background which was WOW wtf! So Im not this thinking mind I always believed I was emoticon Whatever "i was" was very there in the present of the body sensations very clear and very calm, aware. 

As I was doing calm-abiding I was not paying many other attentions to the nd and 3rd stages as I had no clue maps existed so I kind ofpassed them and dropped into very strong and energetic and clear , master-of-sitting faze with lots of fine feelings. Sitting was very easy and I could do my first 3 day solo retreat without trouble of any sort. Mighty meditator I was emoticon 

Since 2010 I was meditating daily without missing at least 1-2 sits a day (45-90 minutes depending on free time and even at work doing short 10 minutes toilet meditation if we didnt have many customers come in ...shhh dont tell my boss).

As I was hammering with daily practice and whole body awareness daily and powered up with this first 3 day solo retreat I likley caused the AP slipping into the Dissolution as my concentration went out of the wondow and I felt in panic, serious panic trying with ALL force to gget it back! You can only imagine how this went! From then on Dark Stages started rocking my Mighty Meditator but, big time and I had NO CLUE what was going on! Kept sitting and at one stage got into what I would call EQ and it was so lovely. After all that dark turmoil I really wanted that EQ to last. Guess what happened emoticon yeah, slide back into a very bad Re-observation and from then on all went down the drain.

One important thing to mention is that I have started meditating in 2009 using the Ki-breathing technique as thought by the Aikido masters. This powered up my Concentration really well, to the point of dropping into a stage where my body became an endless space with the feeling of "Me" as a tiny, really tiny center of it all and it felt sooooo very safe in there and I had no clue what that was as I never ever read anything to that point on Buddhism at all. According to a member from this forum it was a 5th Jhana. Anywho, I really jumped on it like a junkie as it felt so safe and of course it went away. Managed to get there once again and clinging to it's immense safety again it vanished. At that stage I was dealing with lots of stress in my life, psychologists and all and I tried to find some self-help (no thoughts on liberation and Insights and such, and I was never religious).

I hope some of this info asnwers your question.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/1/20 11:43 AM as a reply to Che Guebuddha.
Thanks Che, interesting!
Was there any particular, blow-the-roof off A&P type event, or was it more of a continuum?

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/1/20 1:08 PM as a reply to Bill T.
No blow-the-roof here. 

That being said I must also mention the AP Event that happened to me back in ... I think it was year 1999. I was maddly in love at that time and remember visiting a lovely green hill with my beloved one. It was a Summer day, hot, blue sky, top of a the hill was a large round grassy field surrounded by Pine tree forest.

I was laying on the grass on my back and my legs and arms were streched out in form of a Vetruvian man so to speak. I stared at the blue sky and at some point suddenly I was feeling the WHOLE volume and curvature and the huge Gravity pull of the Huge planet under my back. I was hanging out into the Universe seing all the stars ... the Earth was holding me strongy so tere was no fear at all that it will drop me into the dark abyss ... I could see millions of red lines coming from the centre of earth for each living being and shooting far out into the universe in all dirrections. One of those red lines was shooting through me.

I cant tell how long this lasted but I have a feeling it could be less than a second maybe even lesser than that but the clarity and realness of it was breath-taking. When I came out of it (what ever that was as back then I was not into spirituality at all, but an artist doing oil on canvas and photography) I asked my girlfriend if she felt the same, the gravity the pull, the huge volume of this planet ... blah blah .., She just looked at me in a kind of  "are you ok? " So I just let go of it but it stayed with me until today as it was so real and clear and something very special.

So one could assume I was already after that a Dark Night Yogi as I went more and more into visual art and dark feelings and staring at my empty canvas for hours, days, weeks before feeling some exploding energy and then painting like a mad man to be finished with it after just a couple of hours usually.

I felt alien to this world. Ah yes, we know that one right emoticon 

So in case this was the Blow-the-roof of my very first AP event then yes I did have one without having a clue what it was. 

These things seem to come out of nowhere and when you least expect them at least in my case that is. 

EDIT; I was not using any drugs or alcohol. Only normal cigarettes. I was highly in love though.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/1/20 10:05 PM as a reply to Bill T.
Hey Bill! It's Shane from Dharmachanics!

And everyone else! I thought I was a member here and never really got into posting.

I am still figuring out the forum specs here, but want to say I appreciate your explanatory post and look forward to getting to know you!

Any suggestions on where to start as an introduction here at Dharmaoverground? 

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/2/20 2:15 AM as a reply to Shane N Presswood.
Shane N Presswood:
Hey Bill! It's Shane from Dharmachanics!

And everyone else! I thought I was a member here and never really got into posting.

I am still figuring out the forum specs here, but want to say I appreciate your explanatory post and look forward to getting to know you!

Any suggestions on where to start as an introduction here at Dharmaoverground? 

Hi Shane! I'm new here myself, so not really sure on an overview of the forum. Can anyone chip in?

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/2/20 2:27 AM as a reply to Che Guebuddha.
Thanks Che, that's a great story! I've also had a few of those in daily life. A bunch more happened deep in retreats too.

The one at the top of this thread was the first to happen to me in the context of daily practice. 

My big question right now is trying to figure out where I might be in the nanas (insight stages). Guessing I'm still in dissolution - which, interestingly, Folk has a different take on from Ingram. More in line with Goenka's interpretation / translation too. Will write that up in a different thread.

So - A&P event was about a month ago. Meditation is still clear and strong. But I'm not sure if this is due to the addition of Samatha to my practice, or just A&P aftermath / afterglow. Or dissolution. Or maybe I've been passing dukkha nanas without too much drama. No idea! I guess continued practice will reveal. Or perhaps, as Ingram recommends thinging about these things - it will make sense in a years time.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/2/20 2:29 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Something new in the sit today - got to what felt like a different space, more like a vault or church than a ‘sphere’ kind of feeling. Amazing impression of space.

Didn’t last that long, but very interesting. Spent much of the sit just dwelling in this kind of space. No visuals, just this kind of 3D impression behind the eyes. Mantra got a bit anthemic too. Out of curiosity, did a body scan. Nothing much to report there, just more detailed version of what I felt anyway. 

Got a bit lost in thought towards the end of the session. It’s funny how sometimes a train of thought seems like the most important thing in the world (“must get to the end of this idea”) - but actually, NEVER is, during meditation. It’s the one place you don’t have to think, and in fact, one place where there’s really no point (detrimental, breaks focus). 

Sitting now writing this surrounded by kids, chaos, music. Quite fun though. Just wish ... wish I could carry on with the meditation. But it does seem to be a pretty good break also, a pretty good change of pace. Keeps overall pace steady, can’t freak out too much as I’m going in then out of these states on a steady cadence. 

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/2/20 3:19 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Ah yes, Kenneth emoticon He sure is not linear thats for sure emoticon He draws from so many sources and uses so many different lenses/modes depending on what YOU tell him. At first he told me some stuff that really acted like a SLAP in my face and WOKE me up to look at my practice in a sober way and really get on with it.
Then at some stage said things I almost decided not to contact him anymore. Then things in my practice started rolling and he said some other stuff that brought me back to the ground again which made me yet again look in a sober way on all experiences arising etc ...
All in all Im very happy about working with him!
But yes, Dissolution is noting Dark if you know what you are looking at and not freaking out that things, well, dissolve emoticon 

If I can clearly notice the Outbreath in a way of ease (just like when you are really tired and then you do that long outbreath) , also slight confusion in the focal point of any arising (lets say thoughts) I know Dissolution is taking place. In the sitting practice I often "see" a doughnut-like dark cloud coming out of the floor which lack its center and it grows in diameter and its ring shape is very much like those turbulent clouds. Then at some point vanishes abruptly into its center. Then it comes back out until I decide to move on to another subject as I find sitting and observing same phenomena not so beneficial.
Very important to mention here is that such Samatha like experience is happening while Im doing Freestyle Noting ALOUD and sitting on a normal chair as Im shouting out  words and staring usually at one point in the floor, or wall or a door, depending where I sit and of course always with OPEN eyes as with closed eyes I can easily get Lost in the Objects.

My main resolution is to keep at it 99-100% during my sitting practice without getting lost into narratives about the practice or any other daydreaming. This I find to be THE most important thing in my practice that gave such fine results in a relative short time.

So, in my experience one can certainly sit like a non-mighty-meditator on a chair, with eyes open, noting aloud arisings and passing (I would likely look to passer by like an utter nut case emoticon ) and still experience , simultaniously Vipassana and Samatha experiences. Also this Noting Aloud turns into a Mantra at some stage when mind gets Disgustingly repetitive to a point of causing so much Mysery or even when hitting the A&P its very Mantra-like the way words come out and I hear the increased speed of Noting and its almost like the words spoken have a certain time signature/rhytm to it, then ubruptly at some point it slows down and the voice deepens (Dissolution) ... 

At first I really (always in the past) had this aversion towards the uncool-paint-by-numbers, dumb-bell Noting Vipassana (as Shinzen calls it emoticon  ) but boy oh boy does it plow through stages with razer sharp precission. I think Shinzen also speaks highly of it as the most powerfull weapon of choice for awakening venthough the most un-cool of all until you get to know it.

So to sum up; to me Freestyle Noting Aloud (part of Kenneth's 3 gear stuff) has acted as Vipassana-Insight/Samatha-Mantra-Jhana.

Ok Im off to drink up my coffee and then go play with my 4 yo son as it is weekend and he loves building Lego with his Dad emoticon 

Take care friend and all the best!

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/6/20 9:29 AM as a reply to Che Guebuddha.
Gave a talk last night on design ethics. Amazing amount of nerves before starting, but went well. Interesting sensations to be mindful of, right? So it was a great evening till the after-party in a local pub, where someone stole my rucksack containing my laptop and other gear as I enjoyed a 0% alcohol beer and a chat.

Bit of a crap end to the evening, all in all. Fortunately I was able to give the presentation I had scheduled today via my iPad. Got through that, to find my phone touchscreen had stopped working, while on the way to buy a new laptop. 

So yeah, not the greatest 24 hours. Fortunately laptop was all backed up, and we should be able to get most of the value back on the insurance. But, heh, sucks to be me right now. I’m just glad these are replaceable material objects, not flesh and blood / illness problems. Count your blessings right? No-one hurt, family are all OK. I’m blessed to be able to afford to replace these things and carry on working. Shit could be much worse. So, I struggle on. Meditation this morning was predictably hard, but from a ‘MBSR’ perspective, the jhanic type Kasina practice works incredibly well. Just zone out in the moment, leave all that negative thinking behind, feel better.

Good to have real-world challenges to go through, and keep a practice strong. I feel more motivated to do this right now than I ever have. I will also take better care of my bag while out in public from now on. F*ck!

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/6/20 9:40 AM as a reply to Che Guebuddha.
Interesting to hear this about your practice Che.

Yeah it's remarkable how many different, yet effective ways there are to meditate. I never got into noting much as I initially learnt via Goenka - very non-verbal, basically ignore anything if it's not direct body-sensate experience. Always returning to body sensation as it's the 'root of the mind' in that system (reflects any other sense-door, builds sankara etc). 

So adding Samatha type visual-focus, mantra, (and jhana techniques) has been very interesting and powerful for my practice. I feel like Samatha is given short-change in the Goenka system. Strictly anapana, and just a few days at the start of a 10-day retreat. Sometimes powerful as f*ck while on retreat, but so unstructured compared to some of the things I've learnt since.

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/7/20 5:14 PM as a reply to Bill T.
No formal practice today!

Life has been a bit full on trying to catch up on work since the theft. Also met an amazing young 'Search Inside Yourself' grad. So, lots of talking about meditation, not much doing it. 

Wanted to leave a note to self here, and a recommendation for a brilliant podcast. 

This episode with Leigh Brasington really changed my perspective on accessing the jhanas. Puts samatha meditation in such useful contrast to my previous practice. 
https://overcast.fm/+Qj6fPnZP8

And this episode with Lorin Roche is just lovely. Contrary, lively and human. So refreshing. 
https://overcast.fm/+Qj6faQ1sc

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/11/20 1:17 AM as a reply to Bill T.
So much to report but no time so just a quick one. More fire Kasina. Focus is foggy now, less clarity, but still entered a 2nd Jhana (maybe a light 3rd) this morning.

Lorin Roche blew my mind with that interview. He has such a refreshing take on the whole idea of meditation. Beautiful. Why should it be 'beating yourself up'? - Trying to fit someone else's model?

Very interesting to try and fit this with the Theravada 'strive diligently' version emoticon

RE: Bill's Post A&P 2020 Practice Journal
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2/19/20 12:45 PM as a reply to Bill T.
Meditation

Goes

Well

Maybe a bit less zingy and focused than it was. Jhanas seem harder to reach. But still really enjoying it, and enjoying this new perspective I've gotten from Roche. Now reading his book and it's the best thing besides MCTB that I've ever read on meditation. Just a stellar intro - I'm going to be giving a copy to any friend who asks me about meditation from now on. Just bought one for my brother, will probably get one for each of my parents too.

Otherwise not much to report! Might only be checking in occasionally for a bit.

Small bit of news: Might be starting a podcast - conversations around meditation, with a friend here in London. More soon hopefully.

If anyone's been reading and / or found any of this interesting or useful, please say hi!