Okay, where am I in A&P?

Michael A., modified 9 Years ago.

Okay, where am I in A&P?

Posts: 20 Join Date: 9/20/11 Recent Posts
So I know I just posted one of these, but a lot's changed this week and I could use some light on how to proceed. I'm having real trouble knowing how deep I am into A&P, because I was following a concentration path (not realizing I'd reached access concentration a long time ago) and it cracked open into insight the second I dropped into jhana. With all the prior insights happening in basically a day's practice from there, I'm a little confused as to whether I'm running into the 10 Corruptions or am passing through and about to hit the Dark Night.

About 9 days ago, my breath focus (nostrils) practice burst rather suddenly into jhana, not just 1st but (for the peak experiences) 2nd as well. A week or so previous, I had made a resolution to count or note the breath for an entire day (a work day, no less), and managed to do so with only about 10 slips. After some weird abdominal tensing problems, it made the breath staggeringly findable ever since. I'd made my practice very consistent since then, and I was finally getting states of access concentration for 15-20 minutes at a time. At which point, barely 15 minutes into a session, JHANA struck.

As it did, the rapture went straight into some intense kundalini-ish back spasms, and for the next few days my back had a mind of its own (think those tentacles in Spiderman 2) every time I sat on the cushion. Weird little crawly acid-flashbacky things were all over my vision for the next 24 hours, and I was running on huge amounts of energy. The breath nimitta is ridiculously easy to bring out now. After some cultivation, I can get to 1st jhana regularly and pretty easily, and in a good session when my posture's just right I can open out to 2nd. That only lasts so long, however, and I only notice after the fact that suddenly I can feel my body discomfort again. I've also tried very gently noticing the motion/flashing of the visual field within 1st or 2nd jhana, which is very intense briefly but then seems to add chaos to my mind, drain out the stability and kick me back down to access after a while. I also have seen myself grasping for third jhana, trying to open out into a quiet deep clarity that does not focus in the center of things--and I get little hints of WILD things on the periphery of my view, but don't think I have the concentration yet to do so without grasping or getting a headache, and usually it seems to pull me out into access instead.

Till last week, I never sat for more than 20-30 minutes at a time (though sometimes two sessions a day), but this came after I finally had stabilized min-30 a day. Now, I'm sitting an hour a day no problem, plus 5-10 minutes metta, plus a few hours' worth of various non-cushion exercises in mindfulness (usually 20 or 30 minutes of which is taking a deeply mindful walk--informal walking meditation, and usually 10 minutes of very preliminary hatha yoga to improve my sitting.)

The deep motivation for further practice, and specifically insight practice, arises. I spent the next couple of days suddenly obsessed with learning mindfulness-of-body noting, and the small amount of yoga I do to stretch out each morning suddenly had this perfect sense of word/body/mind unitive flow. Taking an informal mindful walk, I witness 4 or 5 motions per foot, and it rolls along faster than I can note in full words. I'm noting the breath at the same time, and when I'm really in the swing I get the rest of my arm-swings and postures and gross body sensations and temperatures in there as well. Again, intense sense of flow in those motions. But now, I'm moving beyond flow except when I note it.

Those first few days my sexuality was pretty intense (luckily in a situation where it's hard to cause harm with it), and that is now more intermittent but comes in strong waves.

But then there was ANOTHER shift:

As of two days ago, fast visual vibrations finally jumped from behind my eyelids into the way I see the visual world. My visual field hums any time I look at it too closely, (15-25 hz?) Even just closing my eyes, the light show is brighter and more geometrical than normal If I try to wordlessly note every flicker all around with my eyes closed, (far more than is even possible for my attention right now), my eyeballs go into a spasm and I get a sensation like falling into first jhana but without the bliss. Hard to sustain dispassionately, and I really don't want eye-strain, so I don't overdo that.

Physical sensations now often dissolve into clouds of little hot or tickly or tingly pinpricks when I zoom in hard on them---and I'm getting that thing from MCTB where if I focus on my little finger, I get whole clusters of sensations seemingly arising out of nowhere and can notice them all. When I'm in the right kind of groove,I can even track the play of pinpricks all over the body. Very hard to say whether they're neutral, negative, or positive in tone, because whichever I try it seems incorrect, so I stick with "feeling."

(Additionally: and some may consider this content rather than form, but they're part of the diagnosis. My small amount of daily metta practice seems to have deepened. After doing it yesterday, I walk outside and an ambulance wails by and this wave of compassion rolls out of me. INTENSE feeling for the suffering of whoever's inside. Not usually that type at all.)

I'm sleeping very little because of all this energy, and having some highs and lows (might have picked up a small cold, which could be throwing this off. but jumping from energy to slight overloaded-lethargy to bliss to equanimity to tiredness, often very quickly; yes, I know. that's dukha and anicca for 'ya. I'm a little socially averse right now, as is expected. But in interactions with people, I'm not having any kind of moody downside; range from deep excitement to randiness to calm deep-thoughtful detachment.). But fears and even tiredness can seem to dissolve into sensations when I pay attention. That said, there's almost so much I could be seeing that I'm a little all over the place. There's a real tension between the single-pointed and the panoramic right now. Each feels like I'm missing so much, and sure, I note that grasping too, but it keeps coming back.

Anyway, I'm sure plenty of people here know how profound it is when all this hits at once. What I can't tell is whether this is heading towards a peak A&P event or away from it. I know the maps only get you so far, and mileage varies, but after seemingly having crashed right through the first few stages and learned them all at once, it is taking all this extra energy just to keep from getting outrun by myself. It isn't about grasping the map, it's about knowing where the pitfalls are.

Any words of wisdom much appreciated. Metta all around here.

-M
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Okay, where am I in A&P? (Answer)

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Dude. You see a lot of vibrations, so things are going well...you really don't need to know "where" in the A&P you are. Keep noticing the vibrations. You'll know where you are in the A&P when it finishes (which is what you want, anyway).

What are the pitfalls? The major pitfall that afflicts yogis is gaining the preference to talk about their experiences rather than to go further. emoticon

We have all been at the point you're at (with a sudden inclination to talk so much about all the weird stuff that's happening) and fallen victim to it to varying extents. A good rule of thumb is, unless you're having a problem, or unless you need some concrete piece of information, just fill out your practice journal once in a while and go back to meditating.

The best advice is, when you're not meditating, make it a point to behave as you normally would. If you can't, watch out / try harder.
Michael A., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Okay, where am I in A&P?

Posts: 20 Join Date: 9/20/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the down-to-earth advice. Think the "manic phase" aspect of all that got to me. Oops! After some "everybody's impermanent moment to moment!" terror, some mortality preoccupation, and some odd mindful falling-asleep episodes, I calmed the hell down. My body was getting physically ill in coincidental way, and I think it was having a lot of trouble understanding all the sensory/mental overload. Now my body's almost pleasantly down with a bad cold, beyond panic, and the Three Characteristics are almost comforting when you feel bearably crappy. No clue where it goes from here, but I'm not going to un-see what I've been experiencing, so back to the practice.