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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Read Tolle during dark night, strange shift, is this equanamity?

I have been meditating for around half a year. I was chronically stressed, unhappy, had just gotten out of a horrible relationship (one of many throughout my life) and felt like I was willing to do anything to escape the suffering and unhappiness, the tension that would never seem to leave me.

I experienced many trance like states, as well as strange events that seemed A&Pish after around 3 months, which lead me here. I experienced an "ego-death" like experience briefly where I touched an awareness and realized I was not who I thought I was, I was not my thoughts. Not believing that I was in the dark night, I plunged into it shortly after, only now realizing it as I feel I've left it.

I started to hate meditation, it became extremely difficult. Before there was enthusiasm, excitement, relaxation I had never felt before. Now there was just tension and unease, a sense of pointlessness, that nothing new was happening, that "this was it" and I was utterly unsatisfied with it. Utter frustration. Why could I not escape suffering? The ease I had found before as I sat was gone. As I sat, I suffered. Practice became suffering instead of escape as it was at first. Inability to keep up consistent practice was constant. I would end up crying or swelling up with emotion constantly during practice.

A few days ago, I could not sleep. I spent nearly 48 hours awake. I had been trying to instill discipline in myself for days to get out of my slump, and every day I would watch myself fail in vivid detail. I could see my minds self sabotage at every turn but felt powerless to stop it. I did not even feel I deserved to rest. I picked up "A new earth" and sat in my meditation chair to read.

I had read tolle before, but this time it was different. As I read, I felt "epiphany shockwaves" through my body as I call them. Little jolts I get when something becomes clear to me. As I read his descriptions of present moment awareness something just clicked in my mind.

Something shifted, and my awareness became anchored in the present moment, and would not seem to leave. For the past 2 days since, my awareness has remained anchored. Monkey mind now seems to occupate a minority of my time where this "present moment awareness" is now the majority, where as before it was the opposite, this has been effortless, it just happened. I can feel myself leaving it and getting caught up in thoughts very quickly now, and its like a switch to return that is quite easy to push.

I feel like I'm seeing things with a childs eyes now, without pre-judgement and clear, I've dropped my formations and really "see" things as they are in the moment. It really feels almost like my eyesight has changed and become "clearer" in a way, in seeing the truth of things. I haven't meditated since. I almost don't feel a need to anymore. Is this equanamity? I feel content with this, if this is the fruit of the path, it was well worth traveling. Although a part of me now fears losing this awareness, as I've felt similiar things, but temporary where as this seems almost permanent so far.

RE: Read Tolle during dark night, strange shift, is this equanamity?
5/17/11 3:44 AM as a reply to Matt N.
Hey Matt,

What sort of meditation practice have you been doing prior to this realization?

Without wanting to sound like I'm criticizing your description, what you've said sounds very similar to how Echkart Tolle described his own awakening so be careful about scripting your experience. That said, his way of talking about this stuff is very good and, in my opinion, the guy's a talented teacher so it may be that you've been ready to hear what's being described and this has just come along at the right moment, as these awakenings so often do.

As for being in Equanimity, there's a possibility that this is the case but it's difficult to say without any more information about your current practice. There is an element of feeling like you don't need to meditate once you hit Equanimity, but this is where many people end up missing out on making that push towards Path, as it really nice to just sit around in Equanimity and be cool with everything in the world as it is.

Be very careful of getting into the thought that the afterglow of these realizations are permanent, two days is only two days and you've got an entire lifetime unfolding moment by moment so stay present. Your descriptions sound similar to my own experience of getting 1st path so there's a possibility that you've done the same, but this is all just speculation based on one post on a forum so don't get too hung up on any of it.

Basically, if you're suffering has been reduced then that's fantastic. If you feel like the world is fresh and new, wonderful!

The most sensible thing to do now is to get your ass back on the cushion and see how your practice has changed since this shift. Give this sense of waking up some time to settle down, don't get too eager to declare anything outright and enjoy the way things feel right now, if it's a permanent shift then that's excellent and more power to you, if not then you're at a phase in your practice right now where you can get a lot of stuff done so use it wisely and continue to develop your abilities.

Even Eckhart still meditates..... ; )

All the best,

RE: Read Tolle during dark night, strange shift, is this equanamity?
5/17/11 7:11 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
I've done a lot of concentration, Goenka style body scanning, and a mixture of the two. (feeling whole body and examining sensations/feelings while focusing on breath in the background). My first month of practice was exclusively concentration at the tiny spot beneath the nose, an hour or two a day, where I experienced a lot of weird trance like states (jhanas possibly) before I took a meditation stress reduction class where I learned the other techniques. I also did a day or two of Noting at one point, which is where I first experienced an ego death like epiphany/episode, but couldn't keep it up, it was too intense for me. I also occasionally do yoga.

So it's been a mix of a lot of practices, mostly I've stuck to feeling the body/examing sensations while watching the breath moment to moment though. Practice has been almost daily for half a year. Usually as much as I can manage. At several points I did 2 hours a day for stretches before burning out for a little bit.

I am starting to notice it fade a bit now, so I am going to start meditating again. I think the long period without sleep actually helped, as I noticed my mind quieted and became very calm without sleeping for so long. Perhaps it grew tired enough from that and everything else that it just gave up resisting.

RE: Read Tolle during dark night, strange shift, is this equanamity?
5/18/11 7:38 AM as a reply to Matt N.
Based on your history, the chances are that you definitely hitting Equanimity and that, for the last few days at least, it's been your baseline.

How do things feel nowadays?
What's happening when you meditate now?

When we're deprived of sleep it creates conditions in the mind which are conducive to change, it's a classic initiatory technique so it's not entirely unlikely that this fatigue and submission to things as they are has allowed for the shift up into 1st path. That's pure speculation but if you can post some notes on what sort of stuff is happening when you sit then it'll be much easier to get a clearer picture and maybe offer some better advice.

Thanks for elaborating, it'll be cool to see what comes up for you in the upcoming weeks and hopefully you'll get the advice you've been looking for!

RE: Read Tolle during dark night, strange shift, is this equanamity?
5/19/11 1:17 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Main differences I notice are actually outside of meditation. The way things are looked at or perceived. Have negative emotions and thoughts very little. Feels like a weight has been lifted in a lot of ways, I still occasionally get caught in thought patterns but catch it quickly and actually find it kind of funny instead of feeling annoyed, I don't think there is anything to be mad at, just things happening, the idea of blaming "myself" for anything feels kind of funny now.

The profound feeling has cooled down now. I haven't experienced any trance like states in a long time in meditation, (or at least no longer perceive them as such?) and still don't. I do find calmness comes extremely quickly where as before it was like sitting down for a battle for at least a half an hour before I started to feel relaxed. Feels like the mind has finally learned exactly what needs to be done with it to gain calmness in or o ut of meditation instead of any kind of struggle.

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