Nick's Practice Thread

Nick's Practice Thread Nick W 10/30/11 10:44 AM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/10/11 10:23 AM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Nick W 9/10/11 3:01 PM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/10/11 5:16 PM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Nick W 9/11/11 3:16 PM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/11/11 4:45 PM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Nick W 9/12/11 3:33 PM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/12/11 4:00 PM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Nick W 9/24/11 8:37 AM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Ross A. K. 9/27/11 3:52 PM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Nick W 10/1/11 4:38 AM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 9/27/11 4:31 PM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Nick W 10/1/11 5:12 AM
The Nasties... Nick W 10/8/11 4:22 AM
RE: The Nasties... Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 10/8/11 10:27 AM
RE: The Nasties... Nick W 10/12/11 11:09 AM
RE: The Nasties... Liam O'Sullivan 10/16/11 7:03 AM
RE: The Nasties... Nick W 10/19/11 4:11 PM
RE: The Nasties... Jackson Wilshire 10/16/11 12:04 PM
RE: The Nasties... Nick W 10/19/11 4:36 PM
RE: The Nasties... Nick W 10/24/11 3:34 PM
RE: The Nasties... Nick W 10/30/11 11:35 AM
RE: The Nasties... Nick W 11/2/11 11:27 AM
RE: The Nasties... Nick W 11/2/11 4:19 PM
RE: The Nasties... Liam O'Sullivan 11/3/11 12:54 AM
RE: The Nasties... Nick W 11/3/11 7:33 AM
Equanimity Nick W 11/4/11 4:50 AM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Ross A. K. 9/10/11 11:13 AM
RE: Stuck In Access Concentration Nick W 9/10/11 3:08 PM
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/30/11 10:44 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 8:49 AM

Nick's Practice Thread

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Hi everyone. I hope by describing my current practice I may enlist some help in moving out of access, and into jhana.

As I sit to do anapana at the nostrils as taught at the IMC (U ba Khin, Mother Sayama) and I believe Goenka centres, within the first few breaths I start to drop toward access. It takes a very short time (maybe 5-10mins) for me to feel a definite shift.

I can hear sounds, but they're muted. If I'm lying down, my leg or arm will give a "kick" around this point. And I have a generally pleasant (but not overly so) feeling throughout the whole body.

I work on lightly being conscious of the breath below the nostrils. My most significant progress seems to come when I can feel the breath brush in and out over the anapana spot in a continuous stream. One problem I seem to have though is that often my "spot" moves around a fair bit, and often disappears entirely, though I am still concentrated and in access (and breathing fairly normally, i just cant feel the breath - the whole area below the nose just feels kind of numb...)

Some questions:

* Should I be cultivating a pleasant feeling at the anapana spot, or dropping the concentration on that and focusing on the pleasant feelings in the body?
* Although I seem to have most of the jhana factors arise, I seem to be missing "happiness". I can feel pleasantness in the body, applied though, sustained thought (discursive thought is very minimal, and when it does arise it's fleeting, and easily dismissed) and one pointedness occasionally (as mentioned above): --- I don't know why I'm missing this other bit?
* When I lose the anapana spot, i kind of imagine I can still feel the breath there. This seems to be better than searching for where it's moved to. Does this make any sense?

I think i've entered jhana twice. Once at home a couple months ago, and once on my latest retreat on day 4 or 5. When my one pointedness was good, things shifted. I felt like i was "inside" the breath. Or maybe like I was the breath. Or maybe like my entire being became the anapana spot -- does that sound familiar?

I find myself dropping into access often. Particularly when listening to classical music on the radio just before bed, as well as the feeling of annica arising whenever things are quiet (though i've dropped the vipassana while off retreat, at least for now).

One theory i have from reading greatly here and elsewhere is that maybe I'm doing vipassana at the nose, not samatha. If that's so, how do I tell, and what should I do?

Many thanks for any comments you might add. I was inspired by Liam's recent threads and progress. I'd like to really nail the concentration thing once and for all!
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 10:23 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 10:23 AM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Nick Wilson:
As I sit to do anapana at the nostrils as taught at the IMC (U ba Khin, Mother Sayama) and I believe Goenka centres, within the first few breaths I start to drop toward access. It takes a very short time (maybe 5-10mins) for me to feel a definite shift.

I can hear sounds, but they're muted. If I'm lying down, my leg or arm will give a "kick" around this point. And I have a generally pleasant (but not overly so) feeling throughout the whole body.

this might already be 1st jhana. or very close, anyway... try focusing on the pleasure where you see it, and try to find that same pleasure everywhere in your body:
Buddha:
"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal...


Nick Wilson:
I work on lightly being conscious of the breath below the nostrils. My most significant progress seems to come when I can feel the breath brush in and out over the anapana spot in a continuous stream. One problem I seem to have though is that often my "spot" moves around a fair bit, and often disappears entirely, though I am still concentrated and in access (and breathing fairly normally, i just cant feel the breath - the whole area below the nose just feels kind of numb...)

sounds like the early stages of insight - cause + effect, and 3 characteristics. focusing on the pleasure all over the body might make it easier to progress in terms of samatha instead of getting into vipassana territory.

Nick Wilson:
* Although I seem to have most of the jhana factors arise, I seem to be missing "happiness". I can feel pleasantness in the body, applied though, sustained thought (discursive thought is very minimal, and when it does arise it's fleeting, and easily dismissed) and one pointedness occasionally (as mentioned above): --- I don't know why I'm missing this other bit?

if by 'happiness' you mean 'sukha', it is mostly obscured/hard to distinguish from/combined with by the piti (pleasure/rapture) until the piti drops away in 3rd jhana. then you will see you were feeling both all along.

Nick Wilson:
I think i've entered jhana twice. Once at home a couple months ago, and once on my latest retreat on day 4 or 5. When my one pointedness was good, things shifted. I felt like i was "inside" the breath. Or maybe like I was the breath. Or maybe like my entire being became the anapana spot -- does that sound familiar?

might be 2nd jhana. did the directed + applied effort fall away?
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Ross A K, modified 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 11:13 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 11:13 AM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

Posts: 123 Join Date: 6/15/11 Recent Posts
Hey Nick Check this out.
http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/01/yogi-tool-box-letting-go-approach-to.html

I found I was doing the method just right, only thing needed was to polish up how I viewed the whole thing. when I opened up or let go the jhana thing started blazing.
you may also want to try to see what happens when you turn your awareness back around on itself to be with just the mind, dwelling in the sense of the knower/observer or what a lot of kids on here call the witness.ride along with this witness be the witness and let it still down through stages of samadhi of its own accord. when you stop desiring jhana so much jhana happens.
With Metta - Ross
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 3:01 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 3:01 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Beoman:

this might already be 1st jhana. or very close, anyway... try focusing on the pleasure where you see it, and try to find that same pleasure everywhere in your body:


Do you mean stop focusing on the anapana spot to concentrate on these pleasant feelings?

Beoman:
might be 2nd jhana. did the directed + applied effort fall away?


That's a very good question, and an interesting thought. The simple answer is not certain. The longer one is: I think so. I remember it pretty much doing it itself, but it was "powered" by the breath. If i'd stopped breathing it would have stopped I think. This requires a bit more investigation/reviewing if I reach something like that again!

Thanks for the thought provoking reply!
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 3:08 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 3:08 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Nipuna you've certainly hit the nail with the "letting go" thing. My vipassana teacher at the centre had to really work hard to get me to stop trying so hard. And strangely enough, the best sits I did on the whole retreat were the ones where I just relaxed! I felt a bit ill at one group session and thought i'd just stay for 5mins then leave and try to sleep. But my anapana was awesome, so I stayed with it, then i switched to vipassana and that was awesome as well! I came out an hour later totally lifted... something about not having any expectations no doubt...

I've never explored the whole "witness" thing. It sounds interesting, though I don't want to get sidetracked too much. I havn't read your post yet, but I'm going to before I sit next (wont get a chance today) and will report back!

Thanks for the help!
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 5:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/10/11 5:16 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

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Nick Wilson:
Beoman:

this might already be 1st jhana. or very close, anyway... try focusing on the pleasure where you see it, and try to find that same pleasure everywhere in your body:


Do you mean stop focusing on the anapana spot to concentrate on these pleasant feelings?

yes.. though i wouldn't say to stop focusing on one thing and start focusing on something else, i'd say, shift your focus to the pleasant feelings. it's not like stopping to do one thing and starting another, it's just using the focus you already have on the pleasant feelings. if the pleasant feelings start to fade, then go back to the anapana spot until they return.
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 9/11/11 3:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/11/11 3:16 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

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So I just sat for the second time, focusing on the pleasant, vibrationy feelings in the whole body...

* I did anapana till I got pretty one pointed, and the pleasant energy-flow / vibrationy feeling was through the whole body.
* Gently moved focus to that feeling and sat with it. Like when I do vipassana (sweeping in my case) my concentration seems more steady when I am doing the "whole body". I sat with this for nearly 40mins.
* At the high point, i was trying with some small success to drop the tension i think i can perceive in the body/mind and "sinking' lower and lower into it. At this point, a different, cooly pleasurable feeling began to travel across my face and head. It's hard to describe, but it was reminicent of previous jhana(like) experiences mentioned above.
* Then, my four year old asleep in the next room rolled over and kicked the wall and an angry buzz coupled with a whilte "flash" in the mind occured. This is not pleasant. It also seems to happen to me if I fall asleep - an aggravated thrumm.... and white flash that jolts me out of it - anyway, though i got some of my concentration back, i was pretty much done at this point.

Comments most welcome.. will be trying this again tomorrow. It was surprisingly easy to just be with the body feelings as a whole - a much wider focus, but am I doing vipassana or concentration I wonder??
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 9/11/11 4:45 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/11/11 4:45 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Nick Wilson:
* At the high point, i was trying with some small success to drop the tension i think i can perceive in the body/mind and "sinking' lower and lower into it. At this point, a different, cooly pleasurable feeling began to travel across my face and head. It's hard to describe, but it was reminicent of previous jhana(like) experiences mentioned above.

investigate that that drop-the-tension thing more.. this might have been sukha, which becomes more apparent in 3rd jhana. try focusing on the edges of your attention, to feel that cool pleasure all over your skin, next time it comes up.

Nick Wilson:
* Then, my four year old asleep in the next room rolled over and kicked the wall and an angry buzz coupled with a whilte "flash" in the mind occured. This is not pleasant. It also seems to happen to me if I fall asleep - an aggravated thrumm.... and white flash that jolts me out of it - anyway, though i got some of my concentration back, i was pretty much done at this point.

when i got a jolt of fear it's like the edges of my visual field blackened inwards. i think these things can happen if we are startled at a point of high concentration

Nick Wilson:
Comments most welcome.. will be trying this again tomorrow. It was surprisingly easy to just be with the body feelings as a whole - a much wider focus, but am I doing vipassana or concentration I wonder??

you might want to read the following MCTB chapters:
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 9/12/11 3:33 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/12/11 3:28 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
So this evening I i laid down to meditate. It always takes me longer to find the breath, but it's usually more rewarding in this position for me in the end.

I quite quickly gained the pleasant, energy-flow/tingle/vibration all through the body and the anapana spot was really working for me so i stayed with it for much of the sit. I had repeated sensations of "swooping down", and I get the impression i should "sink into" that, but I think some in built fear of losing control stops me from going with it. Having said that, this is the first sit where i've had so many of these come up and they did not spook me as much as they have done in the past.

I also got multiple (maybe 5 or 6) "blasts" of energy/air through the dominant nostril - just a short, intense and very pleasant blast. Like a really clear "snort" but Im pretty sure the breathing did not change, just teh feeling.

I verged on the previous jhana-like experience when my one-pointedness was really good, but never quite made it. In the end, I left the breath and just stayed with the pleasant all over feeling which is quite an experience all by itself, needing little to no effort to maintain other than to "be" - this was cool, with these interesting "swooping" sensations just to keep things interesting emoticon

Oh, and I will definitely reread those chapters! I think the insight vs concentration one was one of the ones I mostly skimmmed over so that may explain a thing or 2! Thanks Beoman.. appreciate the help.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 9/12/11 4:00 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/12/11 4:00 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

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Nick Wilson:
Thanks Beoman.. appreciate the help.


no problem! you might also like to freshen up on the progress of insight, as it sounds like you're getting into A&P and perhaps Dissolution.
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 9/24/11 8:37 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/24/11 8:37 AM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

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Some recent developments/observations and a call for a bit more help from anyone with more of a clue than I do!

2 days ago I stopped doing Vipassana (2hrs a day) as I was getting serious pain / tension in my upper trapezius - the bit between the neck and the top of the shoulder that you can pinch between thumb and finger quite easily. I figured I just needed to work on my "calm" a bit more. Maybe I was trying to hard (a big sticking point of mine in meditation) I took an entire day off yesterday as I was so tired (im always tired..) and today I just did anapana working on feeling the "pleasant sensations".

Progress on concentration today: As has happened a couple of times in the recent past, when I was over some initial sloth and torpor my anapana really took off, and my whole body just kind of straightened up all by itself. It felt like I was being painlessly lifted by the centre of the top of my head. I was so damn straight I thought I might topple backwards. It was very nice. It felt effortless and tension free. I even lifted right up out of the sacrum. I felt very "light". Bodily sensations were very pleasant all over and a general feeling of well being was just kind of there in my head and body without any fanfare or fireworks.

Some questions on the above concentration practice:

* What is that body straightening up thing all about?
* Does that above description mean anything of any significance?

About vipassana:

* I don't recall ever entering "mind and body" or anything else. I really don't want to fool myself into thinking I've made any progress that I have not, but the thought has occurred to me that maybe I just missed those bits. Is that even possible? Could I be further along than I think and just be too dull witted to have noticed some important stuff??

* My own thoughts have always been that I'm not even on the path yet. This makes most sense to me, but on my recent retreat there were some serious lightshows going behind my eyes when doing vipassana and now all this pain so...

I guess this is becoming a practice thread of sorts. Thanks for reading!
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Ross A K, modified 10 Years ago at 9/27/11 3:52 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/27/11 3:49 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

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I was getting serious pain / tension in my upper trapezius - the bit between the neck and the top of the shoulder that you can pinch between thumb and finger quite easily.

sound like #2 - 3 characteristics

my whole body just kind of straightened up all by itself. It felt like I was being painlessly lifted by the centre of the top of my head. I was so damn straight I thought I might topple backwards. It was very nice. It felt effortless and tension free. I even lifted right up out of the sacrum. I felt very "light". Bodily sensations were very pleasant all over and a general feeling of well being was just kind of there in my head and body without any fanfare or fireworks.

#3 early A&P 2nd jhana feels effortless, as initial and sustained thought are dropped.
I really don't want to fool myself into thinking I've made any progress that I have not, but the thought has occurred to me that maybe I just missed those bits. Is that even possible? Could I be further along than I think and just be too dull witted to have noticed some important stuff??

you thinking your not progressing is a sure sign of progress lol! and this leads me to thing your in dark night somewhere. while your sitting try to let the eyes loosen to see the periphery even though eyes are closed. this may help to solidify jhanic factors to transition into 3rd jhana.

just keep it up!
this tandem thing of insight and samatha is good.
on my recent retreat there were some serious lightshows going behind my eyes when doing vipassana and now all this pain so...

yeah like I said ,dark night all the way baby! light shows are definite A&P. you may want to check out Kenneth Folk's direct mode grounding to use between sits. practice well. peace ~ Ross
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 9/27/11 4:31 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/27/11 4:31 PM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Nick Wilson:
Progress on concentration today: As has happened a couple of times in the recent past, when I was over some initial sloth and torpor my anapana really took off, and my whole body just kind of straightened up all by itself. It felt like I was being painlessly lifted by the centre of the top of my head. I was so damn straight I thought I might topple backwards. It was very nice. It felt effortless and tension free. I even lifted right up out of the sacrum. I felt very "light". Bodily sensations were very pleasant all over and a general feeling of well being was just kind of there in my head and body without any fanfare or fireworks.

Some questions on the above concentration practice:

* What is that body straightening up thing all about?
* Does that above description mean anything of any significance?


A&P dood! i know what you mean about body straightening. it's like the body finds just the right way to position itself, and it feels awesome. then if you keep sitting things start sucking again and you wonder "where did all that awesome sitting go?" that's A&P -> Dark Night for ya. (not sure if the latter part of it starting to suck happened to you yet, but it might.)

Nick Wilson:
I don't recall ever entering "mind and body" or anything else. I really don't want to fool myself into thinking I've made any progress that I have not, but the thought has occurred to me that maybe I just missed those bits. Is that even possible? Could I be further along than I think and just be too dull witted to have noticed some important stuff??

I had the very same concerns as you. i wasn't really sure about anything 'till stream entry, then it was obvious.

about "missing those bits" - this process is not about 'you'. it is the antithesis of 'you'. the mind is gaining insights into how it functions on a fundamental level. it moves along when it's good and ready, and not before or after. what 'you' do by meditating is set up the conditions for it to see properly, but the seeing happens on its own, even if that's not entirely obvious right now.

so, 'you' might think 'you' missed some important parts... but the fact that the mind is experiencing A&P/Dark Night stuff (at least as far as I can tell) means that those stages have been penetrated. that isn't to say you won't continue gaining insight into what is mind and what is body, what is cause and the effect, and what the 3 chars are.. that's what practice is all about.. but those insights come at later stages as well, not just in those. and you also start from 0 and go through those stages every time you sit, up to your 'cutting edge', even if that isn't really noticeable (though trying to notice it might be helpful). i couldn't really notice it until stream entry, though, they weren't that obvious to me until then.
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/1/11 4:38 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/1/11 4:33 AM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Ross:
you thinking your not progressing is a sure sign of progress lol! and this leads me to thing your in dark night somewhere. while your sitting try to let the eyes loosen to see the periphery even though eyes are closed. this may help to solidify jhanic factors to transition into 3rd jhana.


Thanks for your help again Ross. I've tried this now a couple of times and it does seem to intensify the experience and sharpen my sometimes wavering concentration at that point. I need to experiment with it a little more.

Ross:
this tandem thing of insight and samatha is good.


It certainly does seem so. But I wonder now whether the body scan i trained in (2x10days now, third one coming up in Nov.) got me to thi spoint and the anapana/full body awareness I'll describe below is what's pushing me forward or if it's just bringing me up to my base level and keeping me there...

Ross:
yeah like I said ,dark night all the way baby!

Haha! I don't feel particularly unstable, but again there are some things that may/may not be relevant here in my current practice and Ill try to describe it really well in my next post.
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/1/11 5:12 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/1/11 5:12 AM

RE: Stuck In Access Concentration

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Beoman:
A&P dood! i know what you mean about body straightening. it's like the body finds just the right way to position itself, and it feels awesome. then if you keep sitting things start sucking again and you wonder "where did all that awesome sitting go?" that's A&P -> Dark Night for ya. (not sure if the latter part of it starting to suck happened to you yet, but it might.)


It might well have. I'll try to explain my practice/current progress as best I can below. That full on body straigtening does not happen to me every time, but some version of it happens most times I sit now, but sometimes it's a fleeting thing, quickly over..

about "missing those bits" - this process is not about 'you'. it is the antithesis of 'you'. the mind is gaining insights into how it functions on a fundamental level. it moves along when it's good and ready, and not before or after. what 'you' do by meditating is set up the conditions for it to see properly, but the seeing happens on its own, even if that's not entirely obvious right now.


I guess I was expecting insights to be more like "lightbulb moments": for things to suddenly "click". I don't get anything like that at all (except for some stuff I notice when I hear a sound - the body tenses, or reacts to that sound - when I was on retreat last a guy there had a really annoying little cough and I noticed that when he coughed, my chest constricted a little bit because I was pissed off at it. (i also realised this was dumb, but couldn't control it).

Okay. So let me try to describe where I'm at now, and some thoughts around it:

* I hit what you both have identified as A&P stuff after 5-10mins. If that. It seems I barely have to sit and things start to happen.
* Every time there is any quiet or stillness that is not filled with my work I notice strong vibrations all through the body. I can feel it in my feet, legs and hands as well as chest and face even as I type this! (my right foot always wants to curl up as well for some reason.. like it has a life of it's own)
* There is something that happens to me after some time meditating (depends on concentration but maybe 20-30mins, and not every sit) that I've not mentioned as I have always thought of it as a sign of concentrating to hard. But after this conversation I wonder if it's relevant to Dark Night stuff? -- I will get an uncomfortable, very insistent, very small (pinhead size) itch/irritation somewhere around the nostrils or mouth. If I continue to meditate as I was, it will get worse, and I will get others. At it's height, it is almost unbearable. It's really, really horrible. I've come to know these sensations as "the nasties"!.
* I have tried focusing on them. You hear people say "pay attention to the sensation, and see that it is impermanent" but these don't go away, they get worse. I do notice that this pinhead size nasty is not static though. It's 3 or 4 smaller sensations winking in and out continuously. Then I focus more and realise it's actually 10's, then perhaps 50/100 sensations all arising and disappearing continuously - all the time I'm doing this though, the nasties are spreading and getting more yucky around my nose and mouth. Sometimes inside my ears too!
* I just don't know what to make of that at all?

* My current practice is to do anapana until I hit a plateau of A&P stuff then either focus on the periphery of full body awareness / pleasant sensations and then every now and again return to anapana - rather like fanning a small flame: breath till it gets going, observe it, breathe a bit more, observe etc --OR (and since your encouraging responses this is mostly what I do) I get to A&P stuff with my anapana then when I feel it's not getting me any further I switch to body scanning - I find this hard, and sometimes uncomfortable but if the feelings I have consistently off the cushion are any indication of progress, this is what I feel is causing that. And this is what will eventually cause the nasties to arrive.

* After A&P stuff (and sometimes right from the start and through it) my concentration seems to go to hell. I get a lot of discursive thought, but strangely it does not seem to impact my meditation particularly.

The feelings I have in everyday life are astonishing. I have almost forgotten what it feels like not to be vibrating. When I lie in bed at night just before sleep, it seems I may as well be on the cushion. It comes instantly and powerfully.

Phew... I hope i've not overloaded you with too much info there! That's about as detailed as I can be about where I'm currently at. I guess the big questions are these:

* Are the nasties just me concentrating too hard or some manifestation of the dark night?
* Im on retreat again in November. Any thoughts on strategy between here and then, and during?

Thoughts on any of this stuff as always hugely, hugely appreciated!

Thanks a lot
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/8/11 4:22 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/8/11 4:17 AM

The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
An amendment to my points above: It's not during body scanning the nasties come up, but during anapana. I've been avoiding them for so long I'd forgotten!

Yesterday when I sat in the evening I did anapana right up till the body started to straighten out all by itself, tingling/energy flow was through the whole body and it was quite light behind my closed eyes. The nasties came in the form of 1 small itch on the outside of the right nostril, it went from uncomfortable to excruciatingly uncomfortable and intense in a very short time.

At it's height, my heart felt like it was pounding and it was a bit scary, every in and out breath magnified this feeling and rather than turn away from it I "leaned in" and took at as my object (it was pretty much blotting out the breath anyway it was son madly intense!) - It seemed like it was all over, then it got worse...

It started to "crawl", from the right nostril, across the bridge to the outside of the left nostril, it followed a similar pattern of build up here, then started to move inside the nostril (not far, still on the edge really) and it was just the most uncomfortable, horrible meditation I've ever had. During this time there were occasional feelings of heat around the anapana spot also as well as the ghost of "pulsing" (i experienced pulsing at the anapana spot on retreat in August).

Eventually it died down, i seemed to come out the other side. There was the occasional relapse, but not with anything like the intensity i experienced at first. When I ended I was okay, and my anapana was quite good, but nothing remarkable apart from a small "blast" of energy that kind of feels like a "snort" through the predominant nostril)

The whole thing took about 45mins but I'd estimate reaching A/P stuff at around 5-7mins and hitting this nasty stuff shortly after.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago at 10/8/11 10:27 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/8/11 10:27 AM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Nick Wilson:
The nasties came in the form of 1 small itch on the outside of the right nostril, it went from uncomfortable to excruciatingly uncomfortable and intense in a very short time.

At it's height, my heart felt like it was pounding and it was a bit scary, every in and out breath magnified this feeling and rather than turn away from it I "leaned in" and took at as my object (it was pretty much blotting out the breath anyway it was son madly intense!) - It seemed like it was all over, then it got worse...

sounds like Fear

Nick Wilson:
It started to "crawl", from the right nostril, across the bridge to the outside of the left nostril, it followed a similar pattern of build up here

creepy crawly Misery-able things?

Nick Wilson:
, then started to move inside the nostril (not far, still on the edge really) and it was just the most uncomfortable, horrible meditation I've ever had.

gah that sounds Disgust-ing

Nick Wilson:
Eventually it died down, i seemed to come out the other side. There was the occasional relapse, but not with anything like the intensity i experienced at first. When I ended I was okay, and my anapana was quite good, but nothing remarkable apart from a small "blast" of energy that kind of feels like a "snort" through the predominant nostril)

nice

it sounds like dark night stuff. you did the right thing here - keep meditating, keep watching it.

next time, maybe try to ask yourself, why, exactly, is it so disgusting? if an obvious intuitive answer comes up, ask again of that: why does that make it so unbearable? what exactly is unbearable about it?
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/12/11 11:09 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/12/11 11:09 AM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Thanks! I'm having trouble getting that far again. Lots going on at home, not much time for anything other than rushing around trying to squeeze more hours out of the day. When I do sit i've been kind of yoyo'ing between darknight stuff and a&p - alternatively staring down the itchy/nasty stages then losing that and "rising up" again in a&p

I guess I'll have a good chance at moving passed it on my 10day'er next month, but I still can't figure out if my best strategy is pure anapana, or the regular 4 days of body scanning...
Liam O'Sullivan, modified 10 Years ago at 10/16/11 7:03 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/16/11 7:03 AM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 213 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Anything that I find myself avoiding on the cushion is something I need to investigate further, as a general rule, and you've already suggested at the meet that the nasties led to Equanimity at least once. Perhaps you could experiment and find out whether you can hit 'the nasties' without body scanning? With only body scanning? If not, then perhaps the best thing is just to carry on with both?

I wonder whether the mixture of anapanasati and body scanning in a single session is either setting back your attention or pushing you further on (I couldn't tell you which)? I've always made the most progress in a single session by sticking to one method, though it's been interesting and useful exploring samatha and vipassana by doing both in the same sit.
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Jackson Wilshire, modified 10 Years ago at 10/16/11 12:04 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/16/11 12:04 PM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Nick, I really enjoy reading your updates. Keep them coming!

I agree with the others that there you are making progress along the stages of insight.

You wrote: "When I do sit i've been kind of yoyo'ing between darknight stuff and a&p - alternatively staring down the itchy/nasty stages then losing that and 'rising up' again in a&p"

A similar thing happened for me the first time I was first moving through these stages prior to stream entry. It was like I would get up to the highest stage available, and then fall back down to the start and go through them again. Not exactly what you're describing, but that's what came to mind.

More importantly, you wrote: "I still can't figure out if my best strategy is pure anapana, or the regular 4 days of body scanning..."

My advice? Don't choose just one or the other. It isn't necessary. Actually, it could be what's holding you back.

Someone else suggested that you pay attention to pleasurable feelings. The point of this, I think, is to experiment with different ways of breathing, as well as perceiving (changing your mental picture of things) in order to try and get the pleasure to increase. This works well for getting in to access concentration, first jhana, and up through the A&P.

However, it doesn't really work after that - at least not for most people I talk to. It certainly isn't what worked for me. When the unpleasant feelings of the dark night/dukkha stages come up, there really isn't much you can do to try and feel those pleasant feelings again. In fact, you're not supposed to. They're supposed to drop.

It's almost like the pleasant feelings are a pleasure-self that starts to die, and the dark night is somewhat like grieving the death of this pleasure-self. It's a good pointer, too. It shows that we can't just perpetually generate happy feelings and live there forever. It will always die.

So, there has to be a different way of approaching practice during the dark night stages... and there is. It's already been brought up, really. For me, it's acceptance. I used to ask myself three questions during really difficult sits, and it helped me stay in the right mode of awareness:

1.) Will grasping at this experience make it better? (No.)
2.) Will pushing this experience away make it better? (No.)
3.) Will ignoring this experience, pretending that it isn't happening, make it better? (No.)

The only option left is to consciously welcome any experience that comes up, as though you were inviting them into your house for a meal. Listen to each sensation with kindness, and don't interrupt them. Let each tell their story. This is a powerful way to cultivate equanimity and move to the next broad stage... which is, of course, Equanimity.

Or, you can try something else. Just don't think that you're progress in one stage is dependent on successfully applying a strategy that worked well for an earlier stage. It would be like saying, "You know, swimming was a good strategy for getting across that lake. Maybe I'll try swimming up this rocky mountain terrain." Moving forward often feels like backsliding on this path, and it's tempting to try and do the same old thing that worked before. Don't be reluctant to get creative. You'll figure out a good way through it if you keep trying.

Practice well!
-Jackson
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/19/11 4:11 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/19/11 4:11 PM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Liam:
I wonder whether the mixture of anapanasati and body scanning in a single session is either setting back your attention or pushing you further on
It's hard to say! I've done a bit of both since I last reported in, my growing suspicion is that the hard work is done in scanning, but that I notice that work better the next time I do anapana. By this i mean that the anapana can take me up to my current cutting edge (see next post though, that's not always the case) but may not be the right way to make progress. ..
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/19/11 4:36 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/19/11 4:36 PM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Jackson:
Someone else suggested that you pay attention to pleasurable feelings. The point of this, I think, is to experiment with different ways of breathing, as well as perceiving (changing your mental picture of things) in order to try and get the pleasure to increase. This works well for getting in to access concentration, first jhana, and up through the A&P.


This seems very much the case for me. I've been doing anapana the last 3 or 4 days. Hour long sits. Though anapana got me up through several dark night stages a a week or two back (reported above at the start of this thread) I've not repeated that feat since. I can ride the breath / feelings right up into A&P easily though. Stian suggested Im pretty much walking around in A&P at present, and I think he's right, as this takes almost no effort.

Today though, I did shift into a Jhana. There was little mistaking it, though it was not as "rough" as earlier experiences. I was just breathing with good one-pointedness when I made a real move to "let go". This does not come easy to me. There was a "shift", like changing gears (but not the "bubble" thing of access). Bodily pleasure increased considerably, but smoothly and it was pretty good stuff. My excitement chased it away, but not for a while. Im getting a bit more used to stuff like this and it stayed with me for 5/10mins. All the time I was in this, there was increased lightshows going on behind my eyes. Lots of colours (both prior to this and during) and yesterday when a floorboard creaked there was a brilliant blue flash (I usually experience sound as a white flash) which was unusually calm even though unexpected.

The last 2 times I've come back off retreat it's taken 2wks or so before "things happen" (insight is gained / progress is made). This is beginning to look related to my experiences in current practice. My working theory is that insight is being gained during the scanning but Im not really noticing it at the time. My mind processes it, then I do anapana and I seem to be able to notice it more easily there.

Jackson:

However, it doesn't really work after that - at least not for most people I talk to. It certainly isn't what worked for me. When the unpleasant feelings of the dark night/dukkha stages come up, there really isn't much you can do to try and feel those pleasant feelings again. In fact, you're not supposed to. They're supposed to drop.


Yep! The next logical step would seem to be to go back to my training and do anapana to develop my samadhi (or as I will, to ride it right up to the limits of A&P) then move to scanning.

Jackson:

The only option left is to consciously welcome any experience that comes up, as though you were inviting them into your house for a meal. Listen to each sensation with kindness, and don't interrupt them. Let each tell their story. This is a powerful way to cultivate equanimity and move to the next broad stage... which is, of course, Equanimity.


Ah... but I got a nasty inside my ear a day or two ago! The little bugger was crawling around in there so bad it made the whole left side of my body ring with it's unpleasantness! -- I had read your post already though, and I did just that. It's not so hard, just not so nice. Shinzen Young has a good phrase for this kind of thing. To "infuse the sensation with equanimity".

Jackson:
"You know, swimming was a good strategy for getting across that lake. Maybe I'll try swimming up this rocky mountain terrain."


Love it.

Understood!

Thanks for the help Jackson. Much appreciated. I'll be working on my scanning for the next few days then will report in.
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/24/11 3:34 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/24/11 3:34 PM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
So i've been focusing on body scanning the last few days and things are interesting, but not particularly progressing I think. At its height, there are unpleasant sensations (usually around the nose/mouth but pretty much all over the face and head) and it can feel like tension is building and building as I continue through the hour.

I just did a full hour of anapana, just because it happened that way today. At one point there was a nasty stabbing pain in my neck, which may have been Fear (as it was pretty scary for a second) or just a nasty stabbing pain the neck! It was followed by some nasties around the nose and that same feeling of "build up" and a tightness over the whole head -- my rough interpretation would be Feat, Misery and possibly the beginnings of Disgust

One question about scanning: When unpleasant sensations arise should I focus on them, or continue scanning?

I've had some interesting results with both approaches. Sometimes just continuing to scan progresses them, sometimes they disappear into the background until I am scanning that area again. Focusing on them sometimes progresses them, but sometimes they just pass away.

I still feel that the progress is being made in scanning, but that it's easier to see in anapana. But I really couldn't say for sure. My experiments have proved inconclusive.
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 10/30/11 11:35 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/30/11 10:50 AM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
I just sat for 2hrs. Did 1hr of anapana, though for much of the last 1/2hr i had no anapana spot at al to speak of and was mostly focused on the bodily sensations (extreme tingling, occasional swoops downward etc) then did 1hr scanning.

It's hard to imagine I got much out of it. Apart from increased vibrations through the body, there was only really the "foot curling" oddity that iv'e experienced a few times to write home about.

My right foot went a bit beserk all by itself. Curling up, splaying out, twitching etc. I decided to stay with it for a time and it was like having something inside the foot fighting to get out. I figured it might be just a by-proiduct of the tingling/energy-flow feeling casused by the scanning just making the nerves twitch about a bit..

It's odd that a week of so back i seemed to be making great strides, now even a 2hr sit seems very ho hum, nothing special.

PS: The only other thing was an almost overwhelming urge to scream in the last 30mins and jump up off the sofa and do some push ups or something....
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 11/2/11 11:27 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/2/11 11:27 AM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Trying to build up some momentum before i go on retreat Friday I'm sitting 3x a day. I can't feel the breath doing anapana though (no much, after a few minutes anyway) and I don't have much DN stuff going on at all.

I don't know if I'm in some Nick'ish equanimity, just tired, or fallen back to dissolution.

I focus on the bodily sensations, which are immense. Plenty of almost shaking going on at a lower frequency than in A&P but I pretty much feel okay. Nothing special, some shoulder pain, the ghosts of nasties, but nothing much -- just okay...

Anyone familiar with my thread here hazard a guess as to what's going on here?
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 11/2/11 4:19 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/2/11 4:19 PM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Update: Business as normal! A&P then lots of pain, wandering thoughts, lost concentration and low frequency vibrations. No discernible fear/misery etc but definitely painful! I stayed with the pain when I couldn't feel the breath, then the breath and the pain when I could and I had that almost overwhelming urge to just scream again but the gong on my phone went when the hour was up and now i need to sleep!
Liam O'Sullivan, modified 10 Years ago at 11/3/11 12:54 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/3/11 12:54 AM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 213 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Nothing special... Anyone familiar with my thread here hazard a guess as to what's going on here?

I know you're probably looking for advice from the sixth formers here, but... I'm finding whether I'm getting to Equanimity as per MCTB descriptions pretty difficult to diagnose myself, due to its lack of big markers compared to say, A&P, even when what I think was Re-observation has occurred in that sit, so I can relate. I find that I do still have 'nothing much' sits, especially if I haven't been ramping up the 24/7 mindfulness thing as much, and I try not to attach too much meaning to that. I think it's easy to assume that every sit is going to be a distinct progression or will fit one's standard model. I reckon these kind of sits could be just as much about other factors than the jhanic arc.

Business as normal... I stayed with the pain when I couldn't feel the breath

Ah, there you go. It does make me think 'good days bad days' more than anything else, unless you always always get the nasties in other sits...

From your posts, I'd ask whether perhaps you're getting a bit stuck on the being able to feel the breath thing - I did, when I used to do a lot of anapana, and I think that stopped things progressing on retreat. It's now clear to me that if the breath disappears, then it's just as useful to switch the concentration that has been built up to another sensation if the thinking about the breath is becoming a hindrance. Frankly, when meditation is 'speeding up', sensations are coming so thick and fast that I barely note the breath much anymore, and it clearly isn't stopping anything occurring. When deep into Re-observation I don't even have to note, everything is just happening by itself and I'm holding on more than anything else. Whatever works, innit.

Good luck on your retreat and soz that the timing of the meet isn't good for you - looking forward to catching up with you in Dec.
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 11/3/11 7:33 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/3/11 7:29 AM

RE: The Nasties...

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
>Sixth formers

<---LMFAO!

The breath is one thing yes, but I seem to have good results from shifting to the sensations / tingling in the body when that goes away. THough I sometimes get the feeling that instead of doing vipassana at this point, im just solidifying the A&P...

Re "letting it happen" - Im finding this easier these days. It used to be extremely hard for me not to desire a certain feeling or cling to past feelings - even clinging to the idea that the nasties are my dark night, when the last sit I had was all about pain, and barely any nasties at all.

On retreat I'm going to try and just "watch" - i've never got this idea of the watcher sorted at all. I get it intellectually, but im pretty certain im not doing it! but either way, im going to try and take "me" out of the equation and just observe, as that seems to be key.

No worries re the meet, have fun and I'll catch up in Dec. (btw, that sharon salzberg workshop has changed date to 29th Jan in london)
Nick W, modified 10 Years ago at 11/4/11 4:50 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/4/11 4:50 AM

Equanimity

Posts: 41 Join Date: 6/28/11 Recent Posts
Last night just before bed I sat very briefly on a meditation stool (my company sells these, i was testing a new one out to take with me today!) and immediately just swooped into the A&P. I had to stop when my wife came in and bumped the door into me!

Got into bed, lay down and without meaning to started following the breath. I then waltzed through the dark night and straight into equanimity! - It took about an hour and a quarter I think. I distinctly noticed Fear as a fluttering sensation around top of my lip sent my heart racing and made me feel like I was sweating. It took a while for that to calm down. I kind of missed Misery, but assume it was there.. I then caught Disgust - this made me actually feel sick/nauseous as the nasties increased in intensity and intimacy. Then I assume the peak of sensation of the nasties around the nose, when that sensation seemed to be felt throughout my entire being was Desire for Deliverance -- after than it kind of got okay again and at the time I mistook this last stage for Reobservation and this to be Equanimity - BUT, when it all looked good and dandy, all hell broke loose and the whole lot came in a made rush at me from all sides and like Liam said above, it was kind of like "holding on" rather than focusing at all...

In fact, the whole thing seemed to "happen to me". "I" was just there for the ride. Little actual effort was required at all. All the while this was happening my feet were doing made curling/splaying slow motion movements, like some beast in terrible pain and my legs were tensing and contracting the whole time - i tried not to interfere at all and just kind of observed those things in the peripher of my perception (i did the same with the nasties, the centre was the breath at the nostrils, though this was not the rock solid one-pointedness of the A&P for sure..)

Just when I thought I could stand it no longer there was a "click" - almost audible, and certainly tangible. Im still not sure this morning if something in the bedroom actually did click and this feeling was just coincidental, but it did mark a change. Even though at that very point the nasties and legs/feet stuff and nausea were all still there, but there was also "relief", and that relief slowly blossomed - no fanfare or anything seriously special, just a sense of relief. The nasties etc died down to a manageable level, but they were still there. The difference was that it didn't matter, and didn't cause any tension. There were just "stuff" and not really of any greater imporatance than other "stuff".

I thought about going on, but couldn't. It was so late already and I have 4am starts for the next 10days...

Hopefully this means I'll have 10 days to figure out equanimity!

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