RE: What is "The Periphery"?

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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 451 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I've been reading Ni-Nurta's thread on using ant EQ like approach to the Dark Night (great stuff BTW) and there is discussion about focusing on "the periphery" which I've heard mentioned many times, including in MCTB. I'm interested in more detailed description of phenomenology of where the periphery is.

I tried something out today in practice where I focused on the sensations of the exterior of my arms and the periphery of my field of vision and kind of extruded two bubbles extending out at an angle in front of me. That was the basic territory I was placing my attention. Am I just making stuff up? Where exactly is the periphery for others?

I included some drawings to hopefully clarify what I'm experienceing.



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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 1661 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I would not say arms are the periphery. Rather the skin of the arm  or skin of the entire body. "Inside" feels hollow, empty. 
So even the arm feels hollow inside, in its center. Skin generally feels chilled as in not hot (which previous Jhana might have been). 

In vision/image space the center indeed can have that purple haze dancing and moving and in the peripheral vision lots of dark lava lamp blobs trying to break into the center but they can't. 

Even imagined images can lack the center. I've once had Kenneth Folks face during the DN stage and concentration was strong so 3rd Jhana was evident. I could only see his hair and beard and the center of his face was a black hole. 

Open eyes meditation got a dark doughnut shaped cloud coming out of the floor, getting wider and wider then utterly vanishing and reappearing. Here too the center is not there, empty and only visible was that doughnut shaped dark cloud. 

When it comes to breathing I find outbreaths to bed long and enjoyable as in passing away but inbreathing is short and has Dukkha in it, struggle to become, be alive as all is just passing away being dissolved in this Jhana. 

Or something like that emoticon 
I like those drawings! 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 1661 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Actually I could throw in my recent experience; 
I think I'm now experiencing the periphery of attention itself or maybe awareness itself. Not sure but makes sense as all seems very slippery. Stuff is there but something is just not clear enough to lock on it. 

Might be of interest to you. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 451 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
That's all very helpful. Yes, with the arms, its the sensations on the surface of the arms, but I'm guessing you're saying in can be the surface of the entire body (or any object for that matter). I guess I'm trying to identify the periphery in the gestalt. Maybe that's not necessary. Makes me interested in making more of a practice of defining the shape of objects and investigating where the center is and where the periphery is.

Interesting that before I started most recently thinking about the periphery that I was noticing that by focusing on the sensations on the surface of my arms that it was easier to tune into a sense of space, particulary with the sense of coolness on the arms. I think this is probably connected with this pathway from 3rd to 4th jhana.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 1500 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
For me, the j2->j3 shift to the periphery is more noticeable on the vipassana end of the jhana spectrum than samatha. It's independent of the object, it's the sense that the centre of attention itself has gone missing and attention is more diffuse. I suppose it's more noticeable in vipassana because attention is doing more work. It can feel like a loss, hence DN, and key for smooth transition is accepting that attention is not what it was. In samatha attention is more absorbed in the blissful feelings, so the piti->sukha shift doesn't feel like a problem :-) But still it feels like piti is more concentrated and sukha more diffuse. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 451 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Is that still experienced spatially somehow? I feel like I want to know spatially where to put my attention relative to some landmark.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 1500 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I experience it more as focussing on the centre of awareness in the mind, but I guess you could visualize that spatially as well. There's probably a personal angle depending on how one is wired. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 260 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
It's interesting to have this question asked right now, just as I started seeing what I took to be the utility of the periphery. My teacher gave me some instructions for getting into a stable 4th jhana, which has been a radical change (I will update my log soon). One of the things that happened is the periphery became clear/prominent in third. For me, this is way out there. There is a space that I am aware of that that I am in the center of, which can range from a foot or so out from my body, to the room (the room is pretty standard) to a mile or so to tens of miles. My periphery in third is many tens of miles out. I described it in my log, the first time it happened, as like being on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Putting my attention there seems to invite fourth to arise.  

My experience may be a bit atypical. I hear people talking about their spatial perceptions as being centered in the head, but I never have that sense. My center seems to be the heart or the belly and the spatial location of awareness is always pretty diffuse. So maybe the periphery is relative. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 451 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Ok, that's pretty cool. I feel like I can relate to that a bit even though "10's of miles out" feels a bit further out than i can get to. Maybe miles out, at most, for me. I'm going to think about the canyon visual a bit more though. I feel like there is something there to play with.
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Pepe, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 327 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Thanks for bringing this up, it made me structure my thoughts.

In my case, it feels like three "rings" (or "spheres" if you like). The inner ring is where the observer / the doer is placed. The middle ring is where physical sensations and thoughts show up. The outer ring is where silence and calmness abide. The inner and middle rings communicate with each other. I would say that in theoretical terms, they co-emerge. The outer ring may be "sensed" while perceiving the middle ring stuff. If / How the inner and outer rings communicate with each other is work in progress, time will tell, not enough data. Bernadette Roberts and some Taoist maps seem related to this kind of representation. Forgive my half-baked ideas.  
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 451 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Ha, ha. I'm right there with you poking my head in the oven early. "Inchoate" has been my nickname lately. I'm guessing you see that middle ring as being the periphery? That vibes with me intuitvely. 
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Pepe, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 327 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
LOL. The middle ring is the periphery but when things get really quiet, the third ring is more prominent. 
Georg S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 25 Join Date: 12/8/19 Recent Posts
That's an really interesting discussion here going on. To me the periphery is the thing which only can be seen, if the awareness is not directly pointed on it. If doing so, it becomes the center and then vanishes. Periphery is all that I can experience when my mind is not single pointed and open minded. It's the space, the non-space, the nothingness and the entirety at the same time. It's like watching birds, playing around, eating, bathing in the water. You can watch them and enjoy the presence of their being. What happens if you wanna be part of the birds-club and try to enter it - I guess you can imagine. Everything goneemoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: What is "The Periphery"?

Posts: 615 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Awareness is like a kind of eye that mind has. Eyes have focus point and periphery and awareness has these too. Focus of awareness is by default strongly linked to focus of eyes. It is however possible to move focus of awareness to different place than focus of eyes as these are actually separate.

Normally everything in these focus points have very good definition and periphery is not only blurry but generally things happening there have very bad definition with lots of perception glitches. We do not notice them because we have focus of both eyes and awareness coupled and quickly move eyes and/or awareness to where object of perception we want to perceive clearly is located. Periphery can however get triggered by some kind of noise, small or large movement, flickering, etc. I am talking here about both awareness and visual perception.

Now let's take example of issue with physical eyes where there is noise seen in the periphery but not where eyes focus which technically is called fovea. If we notice this noise we probably move eyes to direction of noise. We won't see noise because it moved with eyes and it is still in periphery.

DN effects in awareness are exactly like this. Additionally definition in focus of awareness is decreased in DN like it was only working partially for some reason.
And all would be good with this description if not for one thing... In eyes we can easily notice by moving focus of awareness and seeing with it clearly that noise moves along with moving focus of eyes. With awareness though how can we do that? Well, still by using focus of awareness. Awareness has layers and is actually a bit complicated which simplistic models or common sense do not cover.

BTW. lack of proper focus on what to us is just focus of awareness is caused by focus of some parts of awareness being drawn to this noise that is perceived in DN in periphery of awareness kinda highlighting it for us. To me it happened automatically so I assume this how it just happens. In either case it might be that DN doesn't have as clearly perceived awareness of periphery of... awareness (well, it got super confusing fast...).

BTW2. This noise actually changes location moving through different parts of awareness hence the same basic effect is experienced differently in earlier dukkha nanas than later ones making this stuff even more fun.

These different layers of awareness might be focused on different things and in fact by default they are. Some are more like eyes, move around, some more static though even if they are not moving or not moving much because this was never done they in fact can move focus the same way as any other part of awareness and this is skill one can practice.
There is separate awareness for perception of body which I call "body image" (not sure if anyone else calls it that though) and I moved focus of this whole awareness from body image and use it for different tasks, typically eyesight. Yet another part of awareness handles sense of self and here I did the same trick and moved it to visual perception. Though at this time I can move any focus to anywhere so I didn't as much change functionality as much as gained it. I can have body image or sense of self the moment I want it.

Now, this DN noise can appear to be somehow in the body and by connecting dots one might start thinking that body has periphery of sorts... well, awareness which is aware of body image has focus and periphery. If this awareness was to change its focus then noise would move also in relation to this layer revealing it is not the body. If focus moved but only slightly and still stayed on the body then the impression it is part of body would still be there, just more blurred by the movement of focus which is probably not clearly separated for any other movement of other focuses. With more insight and trained focusing of all these types of awareness's one could one by one point to where there is nothing but have other part of awareness roughly pointing to the same place and then perceive that noise is still there in this focus and even be able to analyze it.

And another chaotic post XD
I find it impossible to describe concept like peripherals not covering more topics without making such descriptions useless.
In any way what I wrote above are Vipassana instructions as I understand Vipassana and most efficient way of communicating them, so throwing bunch of concepts along with some explanations and descriptions of applications and anyone interested can pick up topic and work with it.

@Martin
My experience may be a bit atypical. I hear people talking about their spatial perceptions as being centered in the head, but I never have that sense. My center seems to be the heart or the belly and the spatial location of awareness is always pretty diffuse. So maybe the periphery is relative.

Actually many people describe things from perspective of heart which from purely head-centered perspective makes absolutely no sense. There are however many of these layers of awareness and changing focus of them change different aspects of how sensate experience is like including apparent location from which awareness is observing things.
I move this stuff all over the place so it is more dynamic for me with no fixed position

In either way having this perspective where you have it is apparently better than pointing to the middle of the head. Some highly enlightened Zen masters moved it out of the head to belly. At least if I remember correctly... somewhere I read some people do it. I did tests and at that time it was in fact better location for general well-being. Less ideal for working with eyesight so I moved it back.

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