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A few weird things happening
Answer
1/24/20 8:03 PM
I’m new in these parts and don’t have the lingo down — but, I’d appreciate any thoughts around some of the things I’ve been experiencing.  I’ll try to keep it from getting too long:

Background:
I started meditation about 7 months ago.  First, it was just a casual ‘need to relax’ thing.  20 minutes a day for the first few weeks.  Quickly I progressed to 45 minutes, then a couple of 45 minute sessions a day with often some walking meditation too.  I now try to do about 75 minutes in the AM and another 30 - 45 in the evening.  

Some random happenings:
  1. About 2 months ago, while doing an extended walking meditation outside, all of a sudden I had this feeling of great clarity sweep over me and the words nama rupa appeared in my head.  I felt exceptionally clearheaded for a day or two after that.  I had heard nama rupa in a dharma talk — but, I didn’t know what it meant and had to go look it up.  It was probably the most striking thing to have happened so far.
  2. Very vivid and weird dreams — like having a liver growing on your face, feeling it, being disgusted by it, going to a mirror and having it fall away and feeling relief, like some big part of you was shed.  The vivid dreams seemed to be a phase that has largely passed for the past few weeks.  But I had another a couple of nights ago.
  3. Overwhelming desire to listen to dharma talks — you tube, Goldstein/Kornfield books, Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Chah audio books, etc…. Dharma feels like a comforting blanket.  I’m finding myself making good choices, being much more concerned about right speech, action, etc.  This has been going on for 90 days or so.
  4. A couple of weeks ago, I felt like I had a kidney stone or pulled muscle.  Lots of pain.  It moved up my back a couple of days later and it hurt to breathe in.  Couple of days later it went to my neck — so painful for for or five days I couldn’t turn my head.  Then poof, all gone.  Vanished.
  5. Was doing a good bit of insight meditation — walking, noting.  I’ve switched to more open awareness and light Jhana following LB’s instructions.
  6. Meditation is getting much deeper.  And, access concentration usually comes very quickly.  I don't struggle with thoughts getting in the way of concentration.  I use the breath only very briefly then go to the mind as the object.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in a trance.  I’m alert — but, there’s this kind of face-numbing focus feeling that’s trance-like.  This AM I meditated for about 75 minutes — I’ve never done hard drugs, but the session felt like I was on something strong.  Nimitas appear quickly after I start… the bright white pin nimita is most common.  Nebula like limits you just want to crawl inside… 
I don’t feel like I experience a great deal of insight.  I’m sure the answer is — 'sounds like you’re doing great, keep it up…'  but, thought I’d summarize some of this to see if anything here points to specific progress or to see if anyone has any practice advice

Thanks.

RE: A few weird things happening
Answer
1/26/20 1:14 AM as a reply to James.
Cool !  'sounds like you’re doing great, keep it up…'  emoticon

How you describe this depends on your frame of reference.  For example, non-dual practitioners might suspect that the clarity is a glimpse of the ground, to be developed over time in full. Path of Insight practitioners might notice aspects of the three characteristics, the nimittas, and the enthusiams for the dharma, and think you were past the A&P and in the second vipassan jhana, with dissolution maybe around the corner.

I guess, to navigate between specific practices, I would say you have established a strong practice, and are shaking up the arising if the illusory self.  Bits of that unskillful selfing process are falling away. Your subconscious is perceiving this change and communicating with your conscious through metaphors.  Meanwhile, your sensory systems are freeing up (like a stiff muscle that has been massaged, or a machine starting up and cracking off the accumulated rust and mud).  In this context, I would count the face as part of the sensory systems. And you are getting glimpses of better states, but there are many layers of the onion to go.  So rinse and repeat.   emoticon

Good luck

Malcolm

P.S.  It's a good idea to keep a regular log on the DhO.  You will appreciate it later, and it will help you through the tough parts.

RE: A few weird things happening
Answer
1/26/20 2:08 AM as a reply to James.
Just echoing Curious here - I'm very much of the 'Insight Path' tradition, so it would sound to me like:
1. Arising & Passing (A&P) event 
2. Dukkha Nana stuff (AKA Dark Night - look it up, but don't expect the worst!)
3. Classic A&P!
4. The weird pain stuff is interesting, as according to the old books this is normally a '3 characteristics' thing (pre-A&P). But hey the universe is mysterious! Good to accept anything like this as just another sensation, observe equanimously as best you can.

Otherwise it sounds like you're doing great! What concerns do you have about your practice?

RE: A few weird things happening
Answer
1/26/20 11:38 AM as a reply to Bill T.
Bill T:
What concerns do you have about your practice?

First, thanks to both of you for taking time to offer your thoughts.  Now that this weird bout with all sorts of pain in December and early January is behind me, I feel much better mentally and physically.  In the past week or so, the depth of meditation has taken a big step forward and my mood is noticably brighter.  It was never especially dark -- but, it is notably improved. 

Since you asked about the practice...  emoticon

I've been debating where to take it.  On one hand, I feel like I have about 10 different teachers because I spend at least 2 hours a day listening to the dharma.  I have nearly an hour in the car to work each day and it's not uncommon for me to listen for 30 - 60 minutes before bed.  If you would have told me a year ago that I'd be listening to some Thai forest monk dissecting suttas or Pema Chodron talk about Tonglen everyday on my commute instead of the news or my favorite playlists, I would not have believed you.  

To answer the question, I'm not seeking enlightenment.  If that's a consequence of all this work, all the better.  I want to be a kinder and more compassionate person.  I want to be freed from attachment to things -- meaningless aspirations at work, jealousy of others progress at work, feeling like I need a new iPhone whatever each year, etc.  I want to be kinder.  I want to get to a place where my kindness and generosity helps others and thereby brings me greater joy.  

I participate in a sanga in the Thai forest tradition.  The Dharma messages are easily surpassed by 90% of what is on the internet -- so, the inspiration to continue there is nominal.  I feel the need for a teacher and am considering starting Ngrondo practices with the ultimate objective of exploring Dzogchen.  I like the idea of finding a path on my own through a combination of active noting practice, more open awareness style meditation, Jhana practice, and walking meditation -- but, I'm not sure that's a wise course.

I'm not into the purely religous elements.  But, I do appreciate that I'm a beginner, I know enough to be dangerous, but in the end, I don't know much.  

Will take the advice of starting to journal my path.  Thanks for taking an interest and any advice is welcome.