Experience of Impermanence or something else?

Nick Wilson, modified 10 Years ago.

Experience of Impermanence or something else?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Hi everyone,

I have been meditating since Jan this year. In April I went on a 10 day retreat in the U ba Khin vipassana tradition. Shortly after returning I stopped doing the vipassana technique they teach (body scan) because I just didn't like it much and didn't really "get it". Something about it just does not work for me at all.

I felt I needed to work hard on my anapana first, and then would come back to vipassana later.

My question is about my current experience doing anapana. Upon sitting I start to feel a tingly, fizzy, energy in my hands or feet (or sometimes face) and after about 5mins it sarts to spread as I focus on the breath (sensation around nostrils). It can reach a point where it's almost a tense, excitable feeling. Not steady. But the last few times I've tried not to explore it and just focus on the breath and it seems steadier.

It reminds me of a less prickly version of the sensations experienced when doing body-scan. And like that feeling, it seems to come up on it's own whenever I sit quietly, or have some time in peace (not often with little kids and a busy home life!)

It's not unpleasant. Quite pleasant most of the time, but there is no happiness/joy that I can detect with it. It kind of increases in waves, then subsides a bit, then increases again and I get the feeling it could "burst" if I got further with it.

The problem is that I have no idea if this is good/bad or just a dead end.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.
tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Experience of Impermanence or something else?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
welcome to the dho.

what you're describing is an artefact of a decent body-grounded concentration, and while its cultivation should not be taken as an end in itself, it is nothing to discourage either as its experience is likely to be more useful than not, and it is obviously pleasant and interesting and an object of fascination for you, which means it gets you on the cushion, which cannot be a bad thing. steadying your attention on the breath seems to be working well for you and i would encourage you to do this further, as well as to continue to notice whatever comes up without ever losing track of what you are on that cushion to do in the first place, namely, to be paying unobstructed and undistracted attention as much as possible at every single moment available.

the practices that you undertook on the ten days you spent on intensive retreat are now a part of your meditation skill-set and will continue to develop as you continue to practise, even if you move on to practising in different ways. i predict that at some point, your confusion regarding, and quite likely aversion to, the body scanning technique will be penetrated, and your approach to the technique will become 'your own' (not in the sense of ownership but in the sense of it being something you do for yourself and not to accommodate external instruction). till then, stay firmly focused on what you're finding works for you here and now.

Morgan Taylor, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Experience of Impermanence or something else?

Posts: 71 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
I concur that it's not an end in itself, but certainly not a bad sign. This is, I assume, the sort of "vibrations" that Daniel talks about. I don't know if it's a heightened awareness of what's already there, which we typically ignore, or something new brought about by meditation. Either way, I definitely think it's a signpost along the way. The first time I experienced the first jhana, which included a tingling sensation like the one you describe, I wondered if I'd come very close to it several years prior via relaxation that created a similar sensation.

So, yeah, why not play around with it? Push into it and let it "burst" to see what happens. emoticon When I did that, I had my first jhanic (or A&P, not sure) experience.
Nick Wilson, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Experience of Impermanence or something else?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Thanks Tarin, Morgan

I occasionally feel the muscles in my legs tense as it nears it's height, which led me to try to relax into it more (or ignore it entirely) but it's an odd thing. Even if i start getting caught up in thought or distractions the feeling is there, strong. When I stop, the background feeling remains for as long as I'm not too engrossed in anything else. (i usually make coffee, potter about on the web right after morning meditation so it stays for maybe 20mins or so).

This being able to feel it after, and just at "quiet times" during the day led me to think it was the feeling of anicca rising in me. It's what they taught at my retreat.

I'm actually booked back on the course in August, but specifically to work for 10 days on my anapana (cleared with the teacher there in advance). So I'm really hoping to make some serious progress!