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Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/11/20 6:01 PM
Hello,

First, some context. I have been meditating for 4 years, with a daily consistent practice of 1+ hours a day, mainly under TMI (stage 6). The last month or so I have been averaging 3-4 hours per day meditation, and some days up to 6-8 hours of practice. In the last two weeks, I have been doing both TMI and Noting practice for several hours each, and as much off cushion noting as I can remember.

Anyways, my experience the last month or so (and maybe longer) have been rather shitty. Going through cycles of feeling like shit for a few days to a week, and then feeling perfectly normal/fine for a few days to a week, rinse and repeat. I'm familiar with the POI, but unsure if this is the dukkha nanas simply because I have never had any noticably A&P event. I guess it's possible that I've had one during a psychedlic trip (I've done many in the past) and just presumed it was regular tripping.

Anyways, my symptoms are:

- Very moody. I feel I can get triggered on a dime. 
- angry/frustrated in general, and quite often do to practice itself. Sometimes it's just a free floating feeling of anger as well. Like I'm just pissed to be pissed.
- Trouble sleeping. Night sweats, sometimes it takes hours to fall asleep, lots of tossing and turning. Lots of awareness while sleeping as well, I can hear the thought stream almost constant some nights to the point where I can't tell if I'm awake or sleeping.
- In general depressive symptoms, feelings just down and out, generally miserable. My wife says my physiology changes, slumped posture, sad fascial expressions, etc.
- I'm not sure I feel much fear but, I had one night at work while working alone that I got extremely afraid all of a sudden, and ended up calling the wife as an S.O.S, just sometime to speak too so I don't feel alone.
- Lots of doubt about practice. I have been thinking about how my meditation is a dead end, and have been looking at switching up practices to something else.
- Feelings of just want to feel better
- I feel bagged a lot, just tired.
- For an example, here's how my last mediation went: I was doing breath meditation, I had lots of anger/frustration, which had accompanied thoughts about the futility of practice, this was happening in the background of awareness. I felt it getting stronger and stronger, so I decided to bring my attention to the feelings. When I tried this however, it's like it vanished, slipped away somewhere else in the background. I tried a few times but I couldn't actually put my attention on it, everytime I tried it would just slip away. After a while I got an overwhelming feeling/urge with accompanied thoughts, "I hate this shit I wish this would just be done with already". At this point I dropped trying to do anything, and did "just sitting" which seemed to relieve some tension.

Often I can simply observe this process without interference, but sometimes they get a little too loud and pull me in. I'd like to mention my external circumstances, job, wife, etc is all good. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this. I want to believe this is dukkha nanas but again I don't remember having any A&P.

RE: Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/11/20 10:20 PM as a reply to Nathan Sutherland.
Hi Nathan,

Just as a casual observation, if you are having difficulty sleeping, it is not surprising that you are moody and ill-tempered during the day. I find that I need at least 7 hours of good sleep in order to be well-functioning and cheerful during the day.

What are your meditation sessions like? Any deepening concentration/jhana? Thought wandering? Good flow on the noting?

 

RE: Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/11/20 10:30 PM as a reply to svmonk.
Hello and thank you for your reply,

What seems to happen regarding my sleep cycle is a few nights with less sleep, maybe 4-6 hours, and then I tend to get better sleep for a few days, and end up somewhere around 8-10 hours of sleep.

I've never been able to reach jhana, and concentration is fairly stable, but flickers enough to stop the reaching of access concentration. lately, there has been a lot of thought wandering and I have more or less given up trying to stabilize attention, because it just doesn't seem to want to happen.

Noting seems pretty good though, albeit no profound experiences of any sort, which is fine. I tend to note 1-4 times a second and changes from mediation to meditation. Sometimes things feel slow and relaxed, and I feel comfortable noting 1 times a second. Other times my mind speeds up and I can note quite a bit faster than this. I don't seem too miss too much, and can stay with the moving of sensations steadily. The only thing I miss are the odd thoughts here and there, which I general realize a few seconds after they have passed. 

How things have been I have been seriously considering abandoning my concentration practice for pure noting. Trying to follow the breath can get a little frustrating when things fall to shit pretty fast, and I feel in general a lack of progress, things have been stagnant for a while, and without samatha access/jhana I have been doubting my abilities, wondering what I am doing wrong, or wondering if I just have a low affinity to samatha/concentration practice. 

RE: Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/12/20 9:16 PM as a reply to Nathan Sutherland.
I've also had a lot of trouble with jhana. I was able to experience the pleasure jhanas and whole body jhanas, maybe first and second, that Culadasa talks about in TMI, but I have never been able to experience the light jhanas. I did a jhana retreat with a well-known Burmese saydaw who teaches jhana in 2011, and I managed to deepen my concentration to the point where I could see the nimitta (small disc of light under the nose), but it kept drifting around and I couldn't stabilize it. According to the classical texts, you need to stabilize the nimitta and concentrate on it until it expands and you enter first jhana. I found it frustrating. The Burmese don't recognize the pleasure jhanas and whole body jhanas, they only recognize the light jhanas.

It sounds like you have pretty good flow on the noting, so your idea of moving from concentration/jhana to noting/vipassana sounds like a good one. What I like to do when I'm doing noting is to spend a couple minutes at the beginning of the sit watching the breath to establish some light concentration, then switch to noting. If I'm generally relaxed and not a whole lot is going on, this tends to deepen the noting. If not and my mind is a jangling mess, then this is something I get to note during the rest of the sit.

Another gentle suggestion is to avoid judging your experience if at all possible. I find that life is a bit easier if I avoid judging, especially my meditation practice. Meditation is kind of a refuge for me. The world basically comes and goes and my experience tracks that or not. Sometimes it is really not possible, then if you are in a sit, you get to note "judging". emoticon

Good luck!

RE: Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/12/20 11:26 PM as a reply to Nathan Sutherland.
Nathan Sutherland:

I've never been able to reach jhana, and concentration is fairly stable, but flickers enough to stop the reaching of access concentration. 
So you can't gat access concentration? Is that what your saying here? I would think if you can't get access concentration it would do you a lot of good to nail that down. I think having the ability to get access concentration over and over is a game changer. I was told to get it before starting other practices like body scan or noting. It clears the mind and it gave me confidence in my meditation skills. And it feels really really dood! Over time after meditating for a while you can just do noting practice on its on and build concentration from there but I know a lot of people talk about concentration as being key to there practice. If following the breath has become old or boring switch to candle flame staring, Fire kasina or disc kasina. I find all those to be really powerful practices for concentration. The dark night part you asked about is hard to say. 
I'm not sure there's enough here to be sure, but even if there was a lot more info on how you feel, what you see, what's being noted, the body sensations your having and all that it is still hard to place someone on the map. What I'm learning now is that it's more about am I practicing well rather than where I'm at. Also meditation for me has caused those same problems of being fine a week and not so good a week and that going on for a while. No clue where I was was. But anytime I feel like crap I think it's dark night. Haha I would suggest reading the concentration section a few times in Daniels book. I did that a few time on my way trying to get access concentration. 

RE: Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/13/20 12:06 AM as a reply to Dustin.
Thank you for your reply,

I understand it's hard to place someone on the map, so I thank you for your input.

as far as concentration - you're right; I cannot reach access concentration. I have tried solidly for 4 years and this point I feel I am at a loss, and I feel trying to get there is an utter waste of my time. I think at this point it's better to switch to noting, because I feel I've hit a dead end in concentration practice and I have tried all I can to move forward to no avail. I realize the value of access concentration.

What also makes me feel I am in the dark night is that my concentration is ever worse now than it has been in the past. Any time I try to center myself, even gently, there is too much in awareness pulling my attention around that any attempt is completely shot to crap. So what's the point here? Keep trying anyways? 

RE: Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/13/20 4:38 AM as a reply to Nathan Sutherland.
You seem to know exactly what you need to do. You are saying it all along. Now its just to remove doubt by making up your mind to do the practice you feel is the way forward. 

Its about doing it, by practicing daily 45-60 minutes once or twice or else as you feel inspired by Dukkha. Dukkha is the great motivator.

Khanika Samadhi is all you need for Noting practice but be wise and use its many tools/variations depending on the mind terrain that presents itself during the daily sit. Be curious to investigate the terrain today while sitting. 

Keep Ingrams 1-10 sensations per second as a guide meaning that at times when sensory clarity is not strong then 1 sensationa  second is more than enough. No beating one self here helps but Accepting the ugliness of Dukkha Nanas is another good tip from Ingram. Here you are not beating yourself but letting stuff wash over you no matter how hard it may seem to be (spoiler alert; its not real. It only seems very real). Sit through it.

Shinzen offers great advice on changing the tone of your voice during the noting aloud. Also he thinks, as does Kenneth Folk,  noting aloud will help with keeping you away from daydreaming (as Shinzen sais , la-la land). 

I use all sorts of vocalising techniques depending on what terrain is there. If its very slow and unclear I use "There is ..." and label what ever I have noticed. When clarity is strong then I just keep at itas its easy. At times individual arisings arise and pass quickly and there is no depth to the vipassana but at times one clearly can "zoom in" into the sensation and see how its changing. All good and all very much changing all the time. 

If there is resistancce note aloud by speaking up very loud. Such resistance can show up in early stages but also in re-observation. Its part of the purification. Suck it up (acceptance) and let it wash over you. 

I personally use a Kasina to stare at while doing noting aloud as it can offer some absorption and interesting visuals to be investigated. My usual kasina is just a dirt spot on the floor, wall or any object that has a spot on it. Dont care about colors of it all. This is also noted as "seeing".

The worst thing is to have doubt about the practice itself. "Should I do this or that practice? Im not sure". Make up your mind and do it. Give it several month and see what it brings about. Go for quality over quantity. No reason to dread for 90 minutes and think about the bloody timer. Instead 45-60 minutes of noting matter of fact 1-5 sensations a second is actual work.

People here will offer practice that they feel/know helped them to get through this. Some feel Noting is good in the start and Shamatha later on the path. I come from Shamatha as my past practice and then lost the concentration so got stuck. Then I found Noting as thought by Kenneth Folk and that was of help to me. 

Go with that which makes sense to you and stick with it for several months to give it a good chance. 

What ever you may decide may it be of benefit to you.

RE: Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/13/20 5:40 PM as a reply to Nathan Sutherland.
What's the point here? Keep trying anyways? 


the point is if it is the dark night it can suck and it wants you to give up. That's why reobservation is called the "rolling up the mat" phase. It brings up all your bullshit, all your fears, character defects and all the emotions that most of us always run from. Don't run!!! Learn what it wants you to see. There is a practice on this site  https://shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html?m=1#shargrolstructurednoting it's called Shargrols structured noting practice. It was a huge help to me after struggling in funky dark territory for a few months. You can do it. It takes really good practice. Maybe even finding a teacher. For me it's really about getting to know the negative side on my urges and emotion. Learning where I want to give up and why. Looking at the times I'm in meditation lost in my shit. Noting day dreaming, lost in thought, future thinking, sadness, wanting, needing and all things that come up. I've gotten really good at seeing all the dark night tricks my mind plays. It's takes a lot to get through it but well worth it.

RE: Is this the Dukkha nanas?
Answer
7/14/20 7:25 AM as a reply to Dustin.
k0[[Dustin:
What's the point here? Keep trying anyways? 


the point is if it is the dark night it can suck and it wants you to give up. That's why reobservation is called the "rolling up the mat" phase. It brings up all your bullshit, all your fears, character defects and all the emotions that most of us always run from. Don't run!!! Learn what it wants you to see. There is a practice on this site  https://shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html?m=1#shargrolstructurednoting it's called Shargrols structured noting practice. It was a huge help to me after struggling in funky dark territory for a few                                                                                                                                                      omonths. You can do it. It takes really good practice. Maybe even finding a teacher. For me it's really about getting to know the negative side on my urges and emotion. Learning where I want to give up and why. Looking at the times I'm in meditation lost in my shit. Noting day dreaming, lost in thought, future thinking, sadness, wanting, needing and all things that come up. I've gotten really good at seeing all the dark night tricks my mind plays. It's takes a lot to get through it but well worth it.

Nathan, amen on Dustin's riff, +1. Good luck, amigo, and stay in touch. Shargrol Of Course, as Dustin notes, is the gold standard in this territory. But the basic prayer posture for navigating the dark night is to bend over, put your head between your knees, and kiss your ass goodbye.

Do not under any circumstances keep trying, lol. Just be there, do your techniques dry, with no hope of benefit. One of the dark night's best effects is a strong purge of our spiritual avidity: it will take away any benefits you care to conceive, just to starve that self that craves.

love, tim