Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

* I haven't had any experience with meditation, other than using it occasionally as a side thought to helping with anxiety. Unfortunately, I do not have anyone in my life that has any interest, knowledge, or experience with this stuff. I recorded an audio file and wrote a lot for my own records after I had my experience in February of this year. The purpose was to be able to relate with accuracy what I felt at that moment and be able to have it for reference for something like this post. Since my initial experience, I found many incredible tools to help me stay grounded. I most closely identify with insight and concentration practice in the context of Samatha and Mahayana maps, as relating to my experience and the way my meditation practice has taken shape since. Giving this thread a shot. Feel free to comment if you feel like you can help me understand how what I progressed through in my initial experience or have input on my current position.

February 26th, 2021
- Went to meditate that morning because I was anxious and uncomfortable in my body. Used mantras, body scanning and concentrated on my breath, which led to usual calming/crying reaction and feeling grateful. At this point, I usually would have stopped doing any kind of meditation and smoked a cigarette, gone on with the day, etc. However, I wasn't in a rush and I literally had a feeling that urged to continue practicing in that moment. I then became very aware that thoughts were trying to permeate in my concentration. 
- Eventually with more mantras and breath focus, I experienced the uncomfortable muscle jerks, gagging/hard time breathing, neck and back contorted, and I was letting out noises that sounded like a very sad/injured animal. I've experienced anxiety attacks similar to this and just observed as it happened and let it pass. I think at this point, I was approaching the arising and passing away, or the second shamatha jhana. But please infer from this story and share your thoughts about any part.
- In the moment, I had absolutely zero context for what was happening. I didn't have teachings of any kind to reference. 
- I remember checking in with myself, asking myself where I was and if I was alive, noticing that my breathing was getting very shallow at times
- I felt that I was now purely observing, being able to sense my body if I paid attention to it, but gone mostly. Visuals materialized, threads of color, and it felt like I was somewhat part of what I was sensing. 
- At somepoint, started feeling my attention being pulled upward, or whatever my physical form as an observer was, felt like it was being pulled upward and I came to a space that somehow appeared as an empty washed out, grayish room. I remember not knowing what to do so I just waited and sat in this new space.
- Eventually it didn't seem like breathing concentration was doing as much as before, and for some reason, I felt a desire to think about things that trouble me in my life. I can only describe the next moments as an extreme trauma release: 
+ I thought about my attachment to substances/food and the self hate that accompanies it: instantly, as if I was experiencing all of my senses in one very pronounced stream, the concept of substance use just disinigrated and I felt an incredible weight lifted from me. I proceeded to do this with many other traumas such as fear as being alone, fear of death, desire for social acceptence, desire for community, and self-acceptance. (The desire for social acceptance, community, and the self hatred as been bascially non-existent since my experience. The absolute lack of desire to eat or smoke my ecigs/pot lasted about two weeks after the experience, and since, I have had completely different relationship with substances/food, especially when I'm making time for a couple of hours daily.) 
- I finished the trauma release stuff and I kept my eyes closed. Felt like I had knowledge of something more at this point. Started noticing bright lights around the periphery, almost as if the lights were right outside my field of vision. Started having questions about what was happening, because by this point it was so far from anything I had ever believed was real, but I still had comfort and trust for the experience. I was wondering if I was ever going to return to my body and my mind, and if I was ever going to experience life as a human with a normal mind again. 
- When I realized that I was getting further and further from everything I used to hold as true, I adopted the mantra "let go" to help ease my thoughts about what was happening. There was a peacefulness in just being there and I remember feeling like I was trying to click off my "human mind". I remember feeling that I was still being urged to go forward or to do more, whatever that was. 
- I then crossed another threshold of feeling completely gone from my body and started experiencing fluctuations of energy, specifically, sounds started becoming distorted, echoing and gutteral noises coming from things in my real surroundings or maybe in my meditative experience. But I remember that as soon as I gave into those sounds, it just it started washing away, or fading. At this point, I remember feeling certain that I was doing something or going somewhere.
- I started having more full screen visuals with more pronounced colors. Before, visuals seemed like vaguely colored whisps of energy that would come and go. These visuals were now very pronounced in color and they were not shifting quickly. I had more ability to just notice and be still. Sometimes, little focal points would arise, or like little pockets of energy would open up, or just something would happen where I would obviously note a shift in something. I also remember having a moments of feeling that whatever I was "viewing" from, was being watched. At moments I felt a little creeped out. There were brief moments of visual distortion, at one point it seemed like the visuals were an expansive, infinite wall of energy in all directions. Sometimes it felt that there was nothing to see. I remember also feeling like I was experiencing things or having memories of things that I had never experienced in my life.
- I remember now coming to a place where I felt that I was in awe of everything. I was experiencing some sort of glowing, and that there was some pulsating energy near me. It felt like I was near a presence. Visuals were still present but there was an empty space in the middle, maybe what could resemble a hole? I remember that I was very blissful at this point and all accepting. I was talking to myself in my head and the last thing I asked myself was if I was dead. It felt like a fraction of a second after I asked that question, I remember just feeling a complete calmness about the idea of being dead, almost as if I didn't even think one second about the "life I was leaving behind." I felt myself give in completely.
- My consciousness collapsed for a second, or at least everything that I had been sensing just blanked out. I'm not sure how long it was before my coworker knocked on my door, but I was woken up by a knock.

- This entire experience lasted just a little bit over an hour. As I mentioned earlier, some of the afterglow effects lasted about 2 weeks, while some residual affects have been somewhat lasting and prevalent. 
- I immediately started doing research afterwards to understand what had happened and it felt like I was cycling through a lot of familiar cognitive processing, and then some cognitive processing/deprocessing that seemed to have been initiated by the experience. 
- I briefly had a strong desire to renounce my life, but that was very quickly passed by more mature and realistic thoughts. I handled the post experience pretty well, took two weeks off of work to just study, rest, and meditate. I mostly just wanted to understand what had happened to me because from what I could tell, it had an immediate and profound positive impact on my life going forward. I didn't develop any grandoise ideas but I did gain clarity on my life-long dissatisfaction and lack of meaning. Nothing really has changed, except my work as a social worker is expanding as I learn new ways of understanding human experiences. 
- It took me until about three weeks ago to fully understand the Mahayana and Shamatha maps, which put so much into perspective, but I'm still a little confused as to where I may have been on the maps before, where I was after the experience, and how many times have I restarted the cycle since that experience, if any. 
- I can pretty easily get into first jhana/insight practice, but I'm having trouble pinpointing the stages/states between beginning meditation and pre 4th jhana/pre A&P, as I don't really know how I experienced my initial experience in February. 
- I've had breakthroughs recently where I became extrememly senstive to noting, but I cant tell if my ability to note fluctuates with my discipline to meditate, or if I've been cycling through different stages of insight/concentration and going about my daily life. Some days it feels like I learn a skill very well and then I feel like my mind is so strongly exercised in that skill that I learned, that I forget other very important skills that maybe I haven't even identified as skills yet. 
- I thought I had crossed the dark night, but now I am unsure and have developed some anxiety wondering if I ever even came close and if I can handle it. I have dealt with hopelessness/depression/isolation/etc throughout my life, and while I have felt so confident at times and pursued head on trying to shatter my reality, I am now trying to be a little more skillful.
- I also have anxiety around finding the appropriate time to approach the deeper stages of insight, with respect to everything else in my life.  

If anyone has any input on anything I wrote, I would be infinitely grateful for your time and knowledge. Thank you.
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 1609 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
 Congratulations, what an incredible experience. In a certain sense, none of the individual experiences you've described are particularly shocking, but what is interesting is how this single sit gave you several examples of what is possible through practice. To me, it feels like there was a confluence of increasing perceptual ability, a not-fully-digested backlog of psychological knots, plus a heartfelt desire faith/desperation that really sent you deep.

Meditation maps are much more straightforward for when someone has a consistent practice of a consistent intensity in a consistent environment... it's really hard to map these kinds of "out of the blue" events. What is clear is that you experience many things that can happen over one's meditation practice, but I would be wary about saying "I am at X" on the progress of insight map, for example. Mapping in that way only makes sense within a context of consistent, daily practice. 

When we start entering centered states (i.e. concentration) we can have much more unmoderated experiences of body "knots" and more fully experience them. This extra energy of attention can often untangle them, releasing a sensation, emotions, and thoughts. It can feel like these releases were little packets of information and the body can twitch and react. This practice can also be done simply by gently scanning and feeling the body as you go to sleep. Everywhere there seems to be a dead spot or a knot can be "warmed" with attention and sometimes this "melts" "frozen knots" in the body/mind. Without being to woowoo, the body does seem to "hold" things. So this is probably what was going on with the twitches, injured-animal stuff.

When you turned your attention to the problems in your life, a similar thing happened. The problem with addictive habits that cover up past traumas is that most treatments are at the level of the using of the drug or the logic of the thinking surrounding the habit, but rarely do things get deep enough to touch the emotions and sensations that are the "seed". We use our habits and patterns to avoid the rawness of certain experiences. Certain sensations an emotions instantly trigger the "I can't handle this and I'm going to die" reaction. This reaction itself often needs to be re-experience with a high enough level of attention that it can be released. When this happens, the raw experience can be felt and the reaction can be seen as a reaction ---- and only then can the mind realize "hey this is just a yucky experience, I'm not going to die, this sucks but I can handle this". If the level of attention isn't high enough, then touching on that past trauma will just be re-traumatizing. So it seem to me that you were ripe for seeing some of the reactive patterns involved with self-medication, but maybe you're not done yet. When your ready, truly giving up cigarettes will both reveal and allow you to untangle the things that are behind your addiction.  You might consider making quitting cigarettes a phase of practice for you. It would probably yeild both physical and psychological benefit... but don't rush into things. Do it when the time is right. 

The self-hate thing is very common. These experiences, so out of the ordinary, combined with the kind of insight into negative habits (as described in the paragraph above) really have an amazing way of blowing away patterns of self hate. After these big experiences, there can also be a honeymoon of sorts and it can be tempting to think everything is resolved. It might be but it's also true that often self hate gives us a sense of self, albeit negative self, that "holds the space" for a more sane sense of self. So sometimes when self-hate it removed, there can still feel like there is a void. No longer in pain, but still not quite whole. No longer insane, but not quite sane. So it can be good to go back and really contemplate the hows and whys of the self-hate and really try to understand it. Because chances are there are some aspects where are not quite seen through... and the way the mind works is that small problems, if unseen, grow into large problems. Really, consistent, daily meditation practice is the way to develop the habit of introspection and contemplation... and this tends to be the most effective way of surfacing and understanding this kind of psychological material.

It's impossible for me to know based on what you have written... but my guess is that with your interest in the mind and interest in meditation that you are likely to have many of the aspects of "a dark night yogi". The experience you had is fairly consistent with an A&P type experience. But I wouldn't put too much stock in figuring out "where you are" because these one-time-events are very hard to map.

For what it's worth, I had a very similar experience in the early stages of my practices. I was a quintessential not-regularly-meditating regularly dark night yogi. Prone to depression and harsh self-judgement, interested in psychology and spirituality but annoyed at all the woowoo stuff... I had a similar "go deep" experience that transformed my mind and made me much more accepting/sane and made my mind about 20 times more sensative to psychological nuance. It was a really rich time in my life. But that said, I feel like my lingering psychological challenges lingered for longer than necessary, because I didn't actively search out a consistent, daily meditation practice nor did I search out a therapist. 

In a way, I think these spiritual openings finally make us capable of getting the benefits of therapy. We finally have touched on some of the core processess of "mind" and can better percieve the distinctions between sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. We can really start teasing out the psychological knots.

In a way, these spiritual openings also finally make us capable of a daily meditation practice. We've touched on what is possible and have much more confidence. Unfortunately, after these big events, usually there is a lot of black mud that starts leaking out an needs to be cleaned up.

I wouldn't worry too much about being a dark night yogi, especially if you are taking ownership of your life and your mind and your practice. It's important to know about the downsides of being a dark night yogi, but it's also important to understand how wonderful it is to be working on cleaning up your mind and to make progress on our seemingly intractable psychological and existential problems. 

Congratulations and good luck!


 
I don't know why it took me so long to visit dharmaoverground. Can't tell you how comforting it is to actually communicate with people who are familiar with these experiences. Y'all spoke directly to my experience and my questions. Really appreciate coming home to this!

Shargrol, really appreciate everything you wrote and the intention. If it is okay, I'm going to take the congratulations towards the fact that I never thought that I would feel anything close to the closure and tranquility I feel now. I know it's not all bliss going forward, but for me, there is something much better about this human experience now. In the past four months, I've had moments of being upset but they are never followed by much. They are just emotions that come out, and just noticing this has helped a tremendous amount in managing. I'm finding it easy to click into the mindframe of experiencing everything at the bare sensate level and using my breath is my way in currently. I think I'm getting better at starting with my eyes open. I don't think I understand the other techniques people use but will explore for sure.

After my experience, I felt like I owed my life to my breath for showing me something so beautiful and personal and a little obvious. I cried many times soon after it happened because I had been seeking "happiness" or "reason" for so long, and it ended up being my breath that guided me. And that moment when I caught my thoughts and noticed them trying to derail my breathing concentration really impacted me. To watch my focus drift to a thought and then watch that thought unravel into feelings and other thoughts and back to my breath in real time, was kinda boggling. I have been exploring my identity so long and becoming a confident person in the world, and I'm happy I wasn't rooted deeply in anything really to be honest. But it's cool because I'm generally going through a lot of growth in my life. And I agree, none of what I experienced was shocking. It's been really comforting to read of other people's experiences, to say the least lol. And I'm so ready to digest these knots!

For some reason, I have only been able to be consistent on a daily basis with meditation for about a week at a time. And during those periods, I definitely feel like I'm in the maps, if that makes sense. And I'm glad that I already have a small circle and that I'm a homebody, because it's been easy to let people close to me know that I am spending more intentional time with my "healing". Being gentle with myself too. I'm actually coming out of a really difficult five days where I just slumped into depression and could not keep my mind or body relaxed, which is the first "episode" since my experience. I was very familiar with my behaviors so I just tried to rest it out. Maybe it makes sense that I posted because it seems like I am about to start meditating again without forcing it or trying to find the time. 

When you mentioned "entering centered states," it made me curious to ask you any tips on keeping concentration and insight separate. Because sometimes I don't feel clear in which direction I'm going, or what to do. Or if I'm in a concentration state, do you have any input on how I can look for those areas that maybe just need more attention? Is it okay to ask for examples of "dead spots?" I assume they can manifest as physical or mental dead spots? I've read many things like this, but this is so helpful to be able to actually ask someone. But I understand if your response to me is just to keep exploring and not to get caught up in the details. I am very good at taking in information subjectively and reality testing for my own experience. I just like to know the variations.

I really enjoyed what you had to say about addictive habits. The entire sentence, "The problem with addictive habits that cover up past traumas is that most treatments are at the level of the using of the drug or the logic of the thinking surrounding the habit, but rarely do things get deep enough to touch the emotions and sensations that are the 'seed.'" This model of understanding the mind has given me a lot to look forward to in the mental health field, and I am doing what I can to learn and understand these models for myself so I can integrate it into my own work. However, I am definitely not done yet with my personal reactive patterns of self medicating. 

I feel like the following question is going to be very revealing of my attachment but here it goes: will I, my human mind and body have to willingly give up smoking, or is it possible that through my practice, the concept of smoking will "dissapate in value" and I will freely be able to participate in whatever I want without the usual cognitive connections and processing happening, which includes desire? Because those two weeks after my experience were vastly different in the sense that I had tobacco and cannabis at my disposal, but it was almost as if I forgot that smoking has been one of my main immediate coping mechanisms for the past twelve years of my life. It was nice. Again, just asking for perspective. I will continue to pay attention to how this presents itself in my life. Thank you for both the paragraph on addictive habits and self hate. I think I've been skipping past these really big concepts because I've been trying to hard to understand meditation itself. I'll definitely be exploring these more intently.

Your shared experience gives me comfort. One thing I have been slightly hard on myself about is my capacity to slip out of meditation routine. And thank you for the honest comment about having aspects of a dark night yogi. I have been learning as much as I can about it, in hopes to attain a level of comfort around those stages, as I've noticed my inclinations and want to be wise/compassionate about it. When I first started learning about the dark night, I started wondering if I've been in a cycle of dark night stages for a majority of my life, but I still don't quite understand at that level. And I'm motivated to find a mental health practitioner that can speak to these experiences. I think I'm actually suprised or relieved that the leakyness hasn't uprooted my life in any serious/negative way. So far!

​​​​​​​Thank you.
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 1609 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
E O
I don't know why it took me so long to visit dharmaoverground. Can't tell you how comforting it is to actually communicate with people who are familiar with these experiences. Y'all spoke directly to my experience and my questions. Really appreciate coming home to this!
Well, you'll soon see the dharmaoverground is a crazy place. emoticon But I totally get it, it's good to hear that this stuff isn't pure insanity... even though it is kinda wild. The main thing to understand is that not all of spiritual practice is like this. There are moments of wildness, but a lot of it is more like introspection and therapy and a lot of "giving up" old habits or ways of thinking. There are a lot of models for what spirituality or enlightenment is... and my view is it is ultimately, in the end, just basic human sanity.  

Shargrol, really appreciate everything you wrote and the intention. If it is okay, I'm going to take the congratulations towards the fact that I never thought that I would feel anything close to the closure and tranquility I feel now. I know it's not all bliss going forward, but for me, there is something much better about this human experience now. In the past four months, I've had moments of being upset but they are never followed by much. They are just emotions that come out, and just noticing this has helped a tremendous amount in managing. I'm finding it easy to click into the mindframe of experiencing everything at the bare sensate level and using my breath is my way in currently. I think I'm getting better at starting with my eyes open. I don't think I understand the other techniques people use but will explore for sure.
That's great! Yes, ultimately sanity is knowing that sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts are like "hints of information" but aren't nearly as solid or true in the way we assume. When we have the clarity and sensitivity to see sensations as sensations, urges as urges, emotions as emotions, and thoughts as thoughts --- then life becomes much more workable and we're not having to always "defend" our self. 

After my experience, I felt like I owed my life to my breath for showing me something so beautiful and personal and a little obvious. I cried many times soon after it happened because I had been seeking "happiness" or "reason" for so long, and it ended up being my breath that guided me. And that moment when I caught my thoughts and noticed them trying to derail my breathing concentration really impacted me. To watch my focus drift to a thought and then watch that thought unravel into feelings and other thoughts and back to my breath in real time, was kinda boggling. I have been exploring my identity so long and becoming a confident person in the world, and I'm happy I wasn't rooted deeply in anything really to be honest. But it's cool because I'm generally going through a lot of growth in my life. And I agree, none of what I experienced was shocking. It's been really comforting to read of other people's experiences, to say the least lol. And I'm so ready to digest these knots!
Yes, there is a natural intelligence that guides us along the way. It's possible to see this as god or a guardian angel or our "buddha nature" --- whatever it is, it seems like we all have it. Sometimes religious sects or meditation cults turn this into something super-special and rare... which is really their way to try to market their "brand" of stuff. Be careful, there is a lot of this stuff around in the world. There will be people who will want to sell you on "this is what happened to you, and this is why you need my spiritual map, and this is the meditation program you must follow otherwise you'll never become awake...". Just remember that your own inner intelligence guided you to this stage and it will keep guiding you as you move forward. It's okay to explore different practices and ideas, just don't give over your personal power to someone else. Own your practice. 

For some reason, I have only been able to be consistent on a daily basis with meditation for about a week at a time. And during those periods, I definitely feel like I'm in the maps, if that makes sense. And I'm glad that I already have a small circle and that I'm a homebody, because it's been easy to let people close to me know that I am spending more intentional time with my "healing". Being gentle with myself too. I'm actually coming out of a really difficult five days where I just slumped into depression and could not keep my mind or body relaxed, which is the first "episode" since my experience. I was very familiar with my behaviors so I just tried to rest it out. Maybe it makes sense that I posted because it seems like I am about to start meditating again without forcing it or trying to find the time. 
Yeah it can be tricky, sometimes it's okay to "push" but most of the time when resistance arises, practice should focus on the investigation of the resistance. The best way to deal with depression is to deal with depression --- that's such a simple statement but it will save you a lot of trouble. Go directly into your problems and figure them out. You can uses meditation approaches, but don't assume meditation fixes everything (no matter what other people might promise).

When you mentioned "entering centered states," it made me curious to ask you any tips on keeping concentration and insight separate. Because sometimes I don't feel clear in which direction I'm going, or what to do. Or if I'm in a concentration state, do you have any input on how I can look for those areas that maybe just need more attention? Is it okay to ask for examples of "dead spots?" I assume they can manifest as physical or mental dead spots? I've read many things like this, but this is so helpful to be able to actually ask someone. But I understand if your response to me is just to keep exploring and not to get caught up in the details. I am very good at taking in information subjectively and reality testing for my own experience. I just like to know the variations.
I like the word "centered" because it conveys what kind of mind is needed for so-called concentration states. You can try to force "concentration" but it rarely works. However, if you relax and become centered around a meditation object (like the breath), then so-called concentration naturally happens. So naturally center on your medtation object, don't force it.

Dead spots are just where there is avoidance or resistance or obsession or ignoring of certain sensations, urges, emotions, or thoughts ---- everyone is different ---- but in all of these cases our mind is obsessing on a reaction rather than the thing itself. This will become more obvious as you sit and investigate your experience.  

I really enjoyed what you had to say about addictive habits. The entire sentence, "The problem with addictive habits that cover up past traumas is that most treatments are at the level of the using of the drug or the logic of the thinking surrounding the habit, but rarely do things get deep enough to touch the emotions and sensations that are the 'seed.'" This model of understanding the mind has given me a lot to look forward to in the mental health field, and I am doing what I can to learn and understand these models for myself so I can integrate it into my own work. However, I am definitely not done yet with my personal reactive patterns of self medicating. 
Yeah, the "seed" idea is important. We obviously need to fix the behavior and thought aspects of addiction... but the seed is the bodily feeling that we try to avoid by self-medicating (fear, anxiousness, feeling of lacking, doubt, etc.). Those seeds seem like they will destroy us... but they are just more sensations and emotions. When we can learn to be with "lacking" for example, then we realize that it isn't a huge threat. A lot of meditation is learning to be with "negative" experiences and not freak out. emoticon

I feel like the following question is going to be very revealing of my attachment but here it goes: will I, my human mind and body have to willingly give up smoking, or is it possible that through my practice, the concept of smoking will "dissapate in value" and I will freely be able to participate in whatever I want without the usual cognitive connections and processing happening, which includes desire? Because those two weeks after my experience were vastly different in the sense that I had tobacco and cannabis at my disposal, but it was almost as if I forgot that smoking has been one of my main immediate coping mechanisms for the past twelve years of my life. It was nice. Again, just asking for perspective. I will continue to pay attention to how this presents itself in my life. Thank you for both the paragraph on addictive habits and self hate. I think I've been skipping past these really big concepts because I've been trying to hard to understand meditation itself. I'll definitely be exploring these more intently.

Hard to predict! emoticon

Your shared experience gives me comfort. One thing I have been slightly hard on myself about is my capacity to slip out of meditation routine. And thank you for the honest comment about having aspects of a dark night yogi. I have been learning as much as I can about it, in hopes to attain a level of comfort around those stages, as I've noticed my inclinations and want to be wise/compassionate about it. When I first started learning about the dark night, I started wondering if I've been in a cycle of dark night stages for a majority of my life, but I still don't quite understand at that level. And I'm motivated to find a mental health practitioner that can speak to these experiences. I think I'm actually suprised or relieved that the leakyness hasn't uprooted my life in any serious/negative way. So far!

​​​​​​​Thank you.

You're welcome. Just know that consistent low-intensity daily practice is much more effective than alternating periods of high-intensity and no practice. Slow and steady wins the race. Most of all, try to surround yourself with good people, good books, good teachers, good therapists, good friends. The buddha remarked that the sangha is the whole of the dharma.


 
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Continue to make time for yourself. Be gentle. Don't worry about making too much sense of things, unless it is in a direct way (on a daily crossing of the A&P perhaps). You are in the dark night.
When you do reach stream entry, then it is very important to make time for the people in your life.
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
One thing, just because Shargrol and I say different things, doesn't mean much. I don't understand. When I respond to post's like yours, I notice a distinct lack of mentioning people. It's funny, and grounding, to include them in a meaningful way.
You have given me insight to ponder for the road. Thank you.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 277 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Hi EO, Shargrol has given excellent advice. I just want to chime in with some information that is many times overlooked. In your writing, you mention “concentration on the breath”. This type of practice is somehow minimized by many practitioners and experiences that occur are not seen as connected to this practice. Yet, it is documented to be able to take the meditator to the highest levels of attainment. Classically it follows the route of letting go of tension-letting go of thought-letting go of selfing-totally letting go. The last step can happen during any of the others. If you feel that you gravitate naturally to this kind of concentration I would advise that you find a teacher of Anapanasati that can guide you. You'll avoid a lot of missteps. 
I'm curious, what are your thoughts on why "concentration on the breath" is minimized in some circles? 
I use my breath because in the handful yoga/mindfulness sessions I've participated in, attention to breath is usually discussed at the beginning.
Thank you for that recommendation, discovering communities in this realm has been very interesting, it definitely helps to know the language when seeking resources. 
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
It's interesting you mention this, because it underlies everything about practice that is valuable. Unfortunately, health concerns will often make it seem otherwise. The breath can be increidibly subtle and misleading. Following the breath sounds cliche to my ear but that doesn't mean it is overlooked.
Edit: I am not saying the breath isn't important. Just that during the dark night it can be misleading. My thoughts while in the dukkha nana of disgust.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 277 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Regarding the breath as cliche is precisely the biggest mistake. Look into Holotrophic Breathwork, Coherent Breathing or Yogic Pranayama and you'll see that manipulating breathing can have varied effects. Practitioners that think that breathing only means taking in and expelling air can inadvertently produce imbalances with unexpected effects. Breathing can't be avoided but learning to do it well is another thing. Most of the experiences I read of in this forum are unrecognized body-mind imbalances mediated by the breath.
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
My mom has got some of those while doing yoga. You can also think of countries as having breath. What's the first thing that happens when you cross a boarder, you catch your breath. This happens when crossing legally or illegally. So our breath is contained within the boarders of our particular territory. Unless your an arahant.
Edit: I am not an arahant. Nor can I conceptualize one.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 277 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
I'm always surprised that people seem to defend their "dark night" experience.  I understand that the amount of normal baggage, not to mention trauma, that people carry is highly variable. Processing this material as quickly and completely as possible is the goal.  Seeing it as unsubstantial is the key.  Kind of like air.
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

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Angel Roberto Puente
I'm always surprised that people seem to defend their "dark night" experience.  I understand that the amount of normal baggage, not to mention trauma, that people carry is highly variable. Processing this material as quickly and completely as possible is the goal.  Seeing it as unsubstantial is the key.  Kind of like air.
Indeed. But may I suggest an alternative. Sometimes it isn't about what is necessary. Sometimes we let our experience ferment. What do you think about that?
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

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If you mean fermenting as in change, like grape sugar into alcohol, there may be some of that. Like pain into wisdom. That comes from understanding. Interestingly, another meaning of ferment is agitation, excitement. I think that's the aspect that keeps people spinning in the same place. If “dark night” material can be seen with serenity it can dissipate rather quickly.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 2119 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"If “dark night” material can be seen with serenity it can dissipate rather quickly."

Dissipate rather quickly?
emoticon you assume too much emoticon In Dark Night the Dissolution is a strong aspect and even Serenity keeps dissolving  emoticon 

If one thing can be mastered in DN then it's Humble Acceptance, as in just giving up the fight but accepting all the force of DN as it's crushing on you! Let it crush you but indeed stare it into the eyes as it does so. 
I like to think of DN as standing infront of a Tsunami Wave about to crush you. It doesn't help to hide, run away or fight it. It also doesn't help to have serenity to make it pass "rather quickly" emoticon 

My apologies for acting like I know what I'm talking about emoticon 
What was your story again Papa? You meditated for 5 years doing shamatha, called it a wrap on that, found mahasi noting, then reached SE in 5 months on 2 hours of practice a day? 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

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Nope. 1 year doing daily Ki-breathing as in Aikido. About 3 years Shamatha as in Calm-abiding (whole body breathing). 
This was 2009-2012 

Got hit by DN in 2011. Had no idea what hit me. I was desperately trying to get back my lovely Shamatha experience. 
Then someone told me about MCTB in 2011 but I couldn't find respect for Noting practice. I believed meditation was about concentration states rather than boring noting. 

In 2012 got to EQ but liked it so much I clinged to it, from fear not to fall back into DN. Quess what happened? Yeps, fell back into DN and gave up totally on practice to the point of trying to forget about it all. 

In 2018 (end of it) I just couldnt take it anymore seeing suffering in all my life. So I looked to find a way to get back to practice. I knew I needed a teacher. So I decided on Kenneth Folk and he kindly accepted. We started the journey in February 2019. My main practice was freestyle noting aloud. Did not log hence can't tell exactly when what happened but approx I've got a very bad Re-observation somewhere end of April or start of May. 

One session was the main breakthrough and felt like I will go insane. But I plowed through it aloud noting with utter misery and disqust in my talking voice and facial expression. However after the session was over I knew something got purified there. 

End of May got into EQ Nana which continued into Jun and got more and more boring. However I kept on sitting and kept on with slow gentle bored noting. 

End of June 2016 while playing with my son in our forest, dragging his little wooden cart, cessation happened. The one you can't tell how long it lasted but you knew you were out.
I didn't know what that was.  

Was that SE? I don't know. All I know is my old practice was utterly gone, I felt like I came back to myself. Yes, sense of a reset. 

My teacher Kenneth Folk didn't want to say either yes or no to this experience (or lack there of) but instead told me a story about Buddha awakening and Mara telling him that he can't be sure unless he finds someone else to validate it for him. Buddha touched the ground and said "the earth is my witness", and Mara disappeared. 

No, I've experienced no extra cessation's but that one. 
Yes Ive experienced Jhanic absorptions rather readily afterwards. This i did log in my 1st and 2nd logs here on DhO. 

I hope I answered your question. 

Edit; just to add as it's important. Yes usually my daily practice would be once or twice or three times 45-60 minutes (I seem to sit more during DN). 
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
As to what Kenneth said,

Are you Buddha or are you Mara?
Edit: Something fell away. What was it?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

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That's a good one emoticon don't know! Will need to check! 
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Papa Che Dusko
That's a good one emoticon don't know! Will need to check! 
I don't think your Mara.
Hey man thanks so much for that. It's really cool to learn about what people have gone through and where they're coming from when they give advice to others in terms of practice. I think having that context is helpful for me, because it gives me a better perspective of what happens during this awakening process.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

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You are welcome! 

I forgot to add another important aspect of my practice during the time with K Folk; 

That was not his suggestion but something that came spontaneously to me after seeing Kenneth doing freestyle noting aloud with open eyes. Instead just staring around , like he did , I felt need to have a focus point. I call it "open eyes Kasina".

While practicing noting aloud I would simultaneously gently stare at it and also note stuff associated with that sense door of seeing. 

I would not use anything in particular as my Kasina object. I would just choose a grain in wooden floor that's infront of me or a small round dirt spot on floor, furniture or wall (depending where I was sitting). Distance would be 1,5-2 meters from me and never higher than my chest. 

I think this aspect helped a lot in fireing up the concentration part of my practice. 
Also will offer interesting visuals to investigate and note. 

Ok, I'm writing too much again. Just thought this aspect was of help , as was the whole attitude of not having anything left in life but to lock into Noting and just do it no matter what (acceptance). 
I must mention that I had no thoughts or desires about "attaining" to anything. Actually I never had. Since the time I began looking into spirituality I was only ever focused on how to eradicate suffering. That was my main motivator and still is. "Where is this suffering coming from? Can I do anything to stop this suffering? Who is this "I" trying to stop suffering?"

ok emoticon enough of me blabbing emoticon Off to give my son some breakfast! 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 277 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
"If “dark night” material can be seen with serenity it can dissipate rather quickly."Dissipate rather quickly? you assume too much. In Dark Night the Dissolution is a strong aspect and even Serenity keeps dissolving. If one thing can be mastered in DN then it's Humble Acceptance, as in just giving up the fight but accepting all the force of DN as it's crushing on you! Let it crush you but indeed stare it into the eyes as it does so. I like to think of DN as standing in front of a Tsunami Wave about to crush you. It doesn't help to hide, run away or fight it. It also doesn't help to have serenity to make it pass "rather quickly". My apologies for acting like I know what I'm talking about.
​​​​​​​
Are you defending your experience of the dark night PapaChe emoticon. ? I'll take Humble Acceptance as a substitute for Serenity. As I said, some people have rougher life experiences than others. Dealing with them when they come up can be more challenging  But it depends on previous preparation, especially knowledge of physical reactions to anxiety and fear. This is one of the reasons that Hatha Yoga was developed as a supplement to Raja Yoga. Before, during, and after meditation practice knowing how to reduce tension in the body is essential. Even advanced meditators can get "bent out of shape" as a common occurrence. Techniques like Do-In and other self-care methods are very useful for eliminating deep stress. Some people have trauma locked into their muscles and will not be able to access it without outside manipulation, as in deep tissue massage. I read a story of this man that had an accident while cutting wood. The ax slipped and stuck into the instep of his foot. He blocked the whole experience from his mind, never thought about it. But he started to have symptoms of depression and somatization. ( this is in line with the psychological theory that explains that messages that come up in one sensory channel and are not attended will pop up in another channel) He went to have a deep massage for all the body pains he had and when they pressed into his instep the whole flood of memories he had repressed hit him at once. Dark Night?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 2119 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
My preparation was Reiki self healing and sending healing to all beings for about a year. Then for another year did Ki-breathing as in Aikido. 
Then whole body breathing Shamatha for almost 3 years. 

emoticon is this enough of preparation? 

Im not defending anything mate. I'm simply sharing an opposing experience to your "dissipated rather quickly with serenity" opinion. emoticon 
You see, I dont appreciate someone telling DN yogis "you are in DN only because you didn't develop serenity or you are in DN because you are failing to develop serenity" emoticon 


Peace emoticon 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 277 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
PapaChe, I can't comment on what you learned during your previous practices. Consider that all you experienced is yours and can not be generalized.  I didn't know DN yogis is a category or a club.  I've listened to many, many teachers that don't even accept DN as a given.  Sure, there are negative outcomes to repressed material coming up during practice. I sympathize with your perception of how bad it was for you. But there are many people that never have that experience. There is no accusation of lack or failure in my comments.  
"Serenity is the final word [of all teachings];
Reflection is the response to all [manifestations].
Devoid of any effort.
This response is natural and spontaneous
Disharmony will arise
If in reflection there is no serenity;
All will become wasteful and secondary
If in serenity there is no reflection
The Truth of serene-reflection
Is perfect and complete."
Hung Chih
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 2119 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"I didn't know DN yogis is a category or a club."

Wanna join? emoticon That's where the best party is! No rest for the wicked! 

I don't know why some get a smooth journey and others get to burn in fires of hell but I kind of blame the karmic points for it emoticon 

Some of us maybe had a few good karmic coins and spend it on serenity in the first few years of our practice then the bad karmic coins were all that's left emoticon 

While folks like you and Thanissaro Bhikkhu and that TMI guy got a huge stash of good karmic coins to spend it on life long serenity Good for you emoticon (or is it?) 

Please don't take my words too seriously emoticon Im never too serious unless I am emoticon 
Btw, you may choose the weapons for the duel! emoticon 

Just kidding!
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 277 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Hey, pass those bad karmic coins at the Bardo. They'll never notice.  I think the TMI guy ran out of good karmic coins.  Get him to play poker, maybe you can slip in some more of those bad coins, he can't tell the difference. emoticon
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
It's a notion that I have used for myself, first time I have presented it here. So who knows?
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

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EO
I'm curious, what are your thoughts on why "concentration on the breath" is minimized in some circles? 
I use my breath because in the handful yoga/mindfulness sessions I've participated in, attention to breath is usually discussed at the beginning.
Thank you for that recommendation, discovering communities in this realm has been very interesting, it definitely helps to know the language when seeking resources.
     I won't claim to have any special knowledge on this topic but, like you, the breath was my entry to concentration. I've stuck to it for five decades and it has been the mediator to any wisdom I've been able to gain. As you may know, the heart of this forum is Daniel Ingram's MCTB 1 & 2. https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/
You don't have to agree with Daniel's opinions (he has many) but as a primer into the world of meditation, MCTB has no equal. That's why this forum is a space where many other traditions have found a home.
I quote:
Concentration is the ability to steady the mind on whatever you wish and attain unusual and profound altered states of consciousness. Training in concentration relates to formal meditation practice, though some of these states can arise spontaneously during other activities.”
Training in concentration has had thousands of pages dedicated to it, and there are probably thousands of concentration exercises. Some very commonly used objects of meditation are the breath (my personal favorite), our posture, a mantra or koan, a colored disk, an image, a candle flame, various visualized objects from simple to complex, feelings such as compassion, and even the experience of concentration itself. The object you choose should be one on which you would be happy to steady your mind.
     People's minds function differently. That's why there are thousands of concentration exercises. Sometimes it will take a lot of shopping around until the one that suits perfectly is found. I guess this is why the first stage of meditating is called the search.
     The breath is a very subtle object of concentration. I've witnessed the trouble many people have in using it. Counting the inhalations and exhalations is a remedy some people have to use. (I never liked it)  My experience, corroborated in the suttas and in the Zen tradition I have practiced in, is that you have to breathe with the whole body. This becomes a “bodily felt sense”. When this becomes habitual it never leaves you, even in sleep. The “secret” is to start simple, be patient, observe/investigate, and don't stop to look at the sights. Enjoy, or not, but move on.

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Pepe ·, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Seeking insight about my experience, and perspective for going forward

Posts: 430 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi EO, welcome to DhO. Check these resources, lots of pointers, food for thought:

- Shargrol's best posts compilation
- Daniel Ingram's best posts compilation

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