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Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?

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I think this is something I don't really understand.

I have read descriptions of people becomming over-whelmed with pain and then the next moment "dropping into equanimity." But what does that mean exactly and how do you do it? What actually happens?

I am familiar with the experience of a negative emotion arising... such as rage. Often it'll come with an image, maybe some sound too. Normally it's strongest when it first arises and then gradually goes away, but it can get stronger if accompanying thoughts and images arise later.

I am also familiar with conciously "letting go" of these things... of deciding that "ok... it's not that important... it's alright." and the feeling can drop dramatically or even go away completely.

However I have also noticed that the same feeling can later immediately arise again even as strong or stronger than before.

Does this even have anything to do with equanmity? What is it? Is it a constant effort to be in equanimity?

Is being in equanimity related at all to your concentration, speed of noting, ability to focus etc? Or is it unrelated to these "skillful" aspects of meditation completely?

I understand I'm asking a lot of questions here but if anyone has some answers for me I'd appreciate it a lot because this is something twhich has disturbed me probably for years now.

RE: Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?
Answer
7/28/11 9:29 AM as a reply to Rich -.
I'm going to describe my experience in a little more detail too... some of these "insights" (if that's indeed what they are.. to be honest I really don't know the difference between an insight and a delusion at the moment) have only happened recently. This may well just confuse my post even more, but hopefully not.

There's a constant set of vibrations in my body at any one time, these vibrations seem quite large and very physical. Actually on a closer look there is no real body, just some kind of mental image (although it's different from mental images such as memories, it seems more real, more 3d, and less "inside my head")...

When I do insight meditation these vibrations ALWAYS seem to increase... at first I thought this was my "awareness increasing" however now I think that the act of meditating actually causes some more irritation in my body - I have noticed this for years. The vibrations actually become much more like pain when I meditate... in certain places they just seem like presure (such as in my face, hands, forehead, etc..) and in other places they seem more like inflamation or pain and are very concentrated (around my heart, down the middle of my body, in my neck.)

When I get quite concentrated so that I can see emotions arise... what I notice is that if I am "being effected" by the emotion then probably I haven't actually noticed it fully yet and that actually I'm just looking at something else while being effected by the emotion.

When I notice the emotion I notice that emotions... as far as I can tell... are TINY tiny subtle vibrations. They have a less "physical" quality than the normal body vibrations. Often they seem like thin strips of vibrations which sometimes wrap and twist around the other vibrations.

Almost as SOON as I notice the emotional vibrations, they disapear and I briefly enter a period where I'm not quite sure what I'm feeling... at which point either something else arises or I search for a while to try to find out if there are any emotions currently going on... I'm sure there are because I do NOT feel "completely at peace" or anything like that. At the very least I'm still being irritated by the normal "body vibrations".

Strangely enough almost all these "emotional vibrations" happen only in my head area... or appear to. It's quite rare that I detect them in my stomach unless it's something massive (like adrenaline rush, extreme rage, etc...) and in those cases I suspect they still come from my head... they just happen so fast and so big that the other vibrations in my body react to them and they reach out and twist into them faster. But I'm never observed that, it's just a suspicion and maybe it's not true.

Alright... jibber-jabber over... I don't know if that makes any sense at all but thanks for reading if you did.

RE: Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?
Answer
7/28/11 11:45 AM as a reply to Rich -.
Sounds very much dark night-ish.

Usually there's some snag in the psyche where one insists on researching/investigating/rejecting/thinking about/fantasizing the snag and this holds them back from accepting that portion of themselves as it is. Or maybe it's a matter of accepting a huge blob of frustration that overwhelms the mind. Try looking at things as they are with the intention of accepting it? For most people this marks the big shift between dark night and equanimity, and once you've passed thru it once it gets easy to do it from then on.

Without even trying to see what it is you need to accept, can you accept how you are right now? What is the first thing that irritates the mind when you do this? Can you accept what irritates you?

These are very open-ended questions. Tell me how it works for you emoticon
Oliver

RE: Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?
Answer
7/28/11 2:32 PM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Sorry I think my initial sentence was mis-leading.

When I talked about people being "over-whelmed with pain" I was certainly not talking about myself. I was just talking hypothetically about the way into equanimity.

The rest of the post is my personal experience.

I don't really see how I can be in the dark-night because I don't feel that I'm crossed A&P... but to be honest... I'm not that familiar with the maps and I've never had any formal training.

RE: Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?
Answer
7/28/11 3:20 PM as a reply to Rich -.
Hey Rich,

Sounds like you're setting up a lot of confusion for yourself here by trying to place yourself on a map which you're not familiar with. It's no big deal, everyone does it but the best way to really understand it is to do it for yourself. I'll try to answer a few of your questions here and see if it's helpful to you.

I have read descriptions of people becomming over-whelmed (sic) with pain and then the next moment "dropping into equanimity." But what does that mean exactly and how do you do it? What actually happens?

The pain referred to here is most likely mental anguish or emotional pain (common during Dark Night but certainly not always the case) being experienced in "Re-Observation", or 10th ñana, which is the insight stage immediately before Equanimity. To move from 1st to 11th ñana and on to Fruition you just need to apply vipassana/noting, if you do the practice correctly and with commitment then you will encounter these stages for yourself. Dark Night sucks, admittedly, but it's just a stage along the way and a yogi needs to learn how to navigate their was through it which comes with practice, and moving into Equanimity is a pleasure after the harsh, jagged vibrations of 10th ñana.

I am familiar with the experience of a negative emotion arising... such as rage. Often it'll come with an image, maybe some sound too. Normally it's strongest when it first arises and then gradually goes away, but it can get stronger if accompanying thoughts and images arise later.

Good! Apply that to the positive emotions too, but this time try to observe the entire sensation from the moment you notice it to the moment it vanishes. Watch how the bare sensation arises first, then the feeling tone, then the mental aspect. Pay attention to your sensate experience, this is where the answers are!

However I have also noticed that the same feeling can later immediately arise again even as strong or stronger than before.

Even better! This is knowledge of the Three Characteristics, 3nd ñana, keep doing what you're doing and get a practice report up and running, that way it'll be easier to offer more specific advice.

Does this even have anything to do with equanmity?

No.

What is it?

3rd insight knowledge, Knowledge of the Three Characteristics. You're seeing impermanence in real-time, pay attention to this and see how every single sensation is subject to this simple fact.

Is it a constant effort to be in equanimity?

No. Forget equanimity for the moment, you'll come across it sooner or later if you practice well.

Is being in equanimity related at all to your concentration, speed of noting, ability to focus etc? Or is it unrelated to these "skillful" aspects of meditation completely?

I don't want to confuse you further by going into samatha and vipassana jhanas, and other more technical stuff. To keep it simple, getting to the 11th insight knowledge, equanimity, takes practice and solid technique. It's nothing special, it's just another insight stage which you will encounter is you practice well. It's nothing to do with the speed of noting, noting takes you through the stages of insight and requires concentration. It's worth remembering that insight can produce concentration, and concentration can produce insight, they're not mutually exclusive.

I understand I'm asking a lot of questions here but if anyone has some answers for me I'd appreciate it a lot because this is something twhich has disturbed me probably for years now.

Well, time to stop wondering and tell us what you're doing during your practice right now! Your posting after this original one is MUCH more like what you're looking to post about, this is real-time phenomenological stuff, not just speculation so you're obviously putting the work in here. Nice one!

Look at what it is about this which is causing feelings of disturbance to arise. Ask as many questions as you can, it's always good to get more than one opinion but a solid practice schedule with good technique will answer most of what you're wondering.

I'll reply to your practice notes directly rather than cluttering up this response.

RE: Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?
Answer
7/28/11 3:50 PM as a reply to Rich -.
There's a constant set of vibrations in my body at any one time, these vibrations seem quite large and very physical. Actually on a closer look there is no real body, just some kind of mental image (although it's different from mental images such as memories, it seems more real, more 3d, and less "inside my head")...

Most likely teetering on the edge of the A&P, it's just a guess.

When I do insight meditation these vibrations ALWAYS seem to increase... at first I thought this was my "awareness increasing" however now I think that the act of meditating actually causes some more irritation in my body - I have noticed this for years.

2nd insight knowledge (ñana), Knowledge of Cause & Effect - If I do "A", then "B" happens. This is seeing karma in action. The irritation and unpleasant feelings within the body are most likely related to entering 3rd ñana, Knowledge of the Three Characteristics which leads me to.....

The vibrations actually become much more like pain when I meditate... in certain places they just seem like presure (such as in my face, hands, forehead, etc..) and in other places they seem more like inflamation or pain and are very concentrated (around my heart, down the middle of my body, in my neck.)

Excellent description. Still in 3rd ñana, all this physical discomfort is typical of this stage but it's proof that you're making progress.

When I notice the emotion I notice that emotions... as far as I can tell... are TINY tiny subtle vibrations. They have a less "physical" quality than the normal body vibrations. Often they seem like thin strips of vibrations which sometimes wrap and twist around the other vibrations.

Possibly 4th ñana, Knowledge of Arising & Passing Away.

Almost as SOON as I notice the emotional vibrations, they disapear and I briefly enter a period where I'm not quite sure what I'm feeling... at which point either something else arises or I search for a while to try to find out if there are any emotions currently going on... I'm sure there are because I do NOT feel "completely at peace" or anything like that. At the very least I'm still being irritated by the normal "body vibrations".

My guess? 4th into 5th ñana, Knowledge of Dissolution, what you're describing sounds like the typical focus on the ending of sensations which begins at this stage as we move into Dark Night territory. Also, in 5th ñana there's a sort of fuzziness and the less pleasant tinges of fear and anxiety may begin to creep in at the edges which may contribute to you feeling not "completely at peace". Again, just remember that these are all signs of progress through the insight stages.

Strangely enough almost all these "emotional vibrations" happen only in my head area... or appear to. It's quite rare that I detect them in my stomach unless it's something massive (like adrenaline rush, extreme rage, etc...) and in those cases I suspect they still come from my head... they just happen so fast and so big that the other vibrations in my body react to them and they reach out and twist into them faster. But I'm never observed that, it's just a suspicion and maybe it's not true.

Again, sounds like the A&P but it's only a guess based on your descriptions. It's probable that the feelings in your stomach are the instinctual passions, you'll see them again and again so just pay attention to them.

Tarin gave me some great advice when I started out with insight meditation so I'll pass it on as it will absolutely improve your practice - Get mindfulness established before your ass hits the cushion, and also pay attention to feelings arising in the body. These two gems, although simple, changed my practice and I strongly advice giving it a go.

Hopefully that's of use to you, get a practice thread up and running as your phenomenological descriptions are excellent and it will help you, and others, to refine the noting technique.

Best of luck,
T

[Edited to add - The advice given by Olyver Mith is actually correct but, given that we've never seen a practice thread describing his experience and the fact that he is more closely aligned with the Gurdjieff model, I'd say his directions are less like vipassana and more like a different approach altogether. Not to sound like an arsehole or anything, but if you're practicing insight meditation then you're best taking advice from someone who's familiar with the maps and techniques as otherwise your practice may get waylaid by incorrect information.]

RE: Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?
Answer
7/28/11 10:24 PM as a reply to Rich -.
Rich N:
I have read descriptions of people becomming over-whelmed with pain and then the next moment "dropping into equanimity." But what does that mean exactly and how do you do it? What actually happens?


Having had this type of experience, I'd describe it like this: It's like if it's raining really hard out, and windy and noisy, and then all of a sudden it stops and the sun comes out. If you've ever seen the weather do that, it's basically the same, but the mind does it.

Just like you can't will the weather to stop, you can't will the mind storm to stop either.

Your job is... to keep practicing no matter what experience is arising right now in this moment.

Rich N:
I am also familiar with conciously "letting go" of these things...


If you're familiar with this, you may question who is "consciously letting go", and perhaps notice all the little sensations that make up the experience of "consciously letting go" and perhaps notice that all the sensations which make up the experience of "consciously letting go" are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not you.

RE: Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?
Answer
7/29/11 3:41 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thanks very much Tommy, your comments are extremely useful.

I'll start up a practice journal in the near future.

RE: Exactly what (or how) do you do to get Equanimity?
Answer
7/29/11 8:07 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Having had this type of experience, I'd describe it like this: It's like if it's raining really hard out, and windy and noisy, and then all of a sudden it stops and the sun comes out. If you've ever seen the weather do that, it's basically the same, but the mind does it.


It's interesting you should say this Daniel because I used to have half of this experience quite a lot about a year ago when I'm certain my "technique" was inferior in many ways to what it is now. The half I had is the hardening/painful sensations. At the time I hadn't read MTCT and after some basic internet research I concluded it was something called "samadhi pain" and didn't really make any further progress with it. What I did notice is that if I went anywhere with people while it was happening then I became extremely agitated, it was like all my emotional reactions where aplified. I used to do it at work for a bit on the breaks but I noticed that afterwards I'd get really annoyed with people easily and it was definately linked to those sensations which had arisen through my practice at the time.

Rich N:
I am also familiar with conciously "letting go" of these things...


If you're familiar with this, you may question who is "consciously letting go", and perhaps notice all the little sensations that make up the experience of "consciously letting go" and perhaps notice that all the sensations which make up the experience of "consciously letting go" are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not you.


That's quite interesting. First it makes me think that I need higher levels of accuracy in my awareness. But also... are you saying that any "conscious decisions" or things done "by me" are also something to be observed?