A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

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Sasha F, modified 10 Months ago at 8/22/21 1:56 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/22/21 1:56 PM

A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/22/21 Recent Posts
Hi everyone,
It has been 4 years since I started doing mindfulness meditation for stress relief and a year since I started believing that awakening is not some woo woo state I get sold on in new age books or carrot dangled in front of me by a guru on YouTube. It has been a year since I discovered The Mind Illuminated by Dr. Yates and decided to go hardcore into the exploration of my mind, daily. Once I reached stage 6 in TMI (around November last year) is when an interesting event happened:
During the later part of a 3-hour sit, I was laser-focused on a spot inside my left nostril that would tingle/blink on and off as I inhaled and exhaled. It was just the tingling sensation in that spot and a few waves of velvet red color brushing through awareness from time to time until I noticed that there was also this sense of ME observing the tingling sensation and it was tied together with a feeling of extreme tension and squeezing. As soon as I noticed the tension it disappeared and the following happened almost simultaneously:  my visual field curved as if I was going through a tunnel that was filled with fractals and I ended up seeing static fractal imagery that curved into a dome shape(as if looking at the ceiling of a chapel). This all lasted 2 seconds at most after which I was relieved and excited. But the real show came in the weeks after that event, it's as if my mind discovered how to let go physically which in turn led to all these emotional and psychological knots being untied on their own.  A lot of emotional cleansing and releasing happened and the top part of what felt like my brain was now completely relaxed and in a way automated if this makes sense. It was at this point that observing certain phenomenological experiences as passing textured clouds became a permanent way of functioning. 
I decided to quit my job and live off my savings for some time because the developments that were happening seemed like they should be prioritized.
Not soon after that is when I discovered Daniel’s book and this forum. No one I know is into Buddhism let alone hardcore practice so by lurking around this forum I felt like I was not alone in my questions and practice.
Another interesting experience followed in December after a day filled with frustration because I could not find a practice that suited my current mind state. Noting and deep concentration seemed to be counterproductive and the only thing that progressed my insight was M.Taft's "dropping the ball" practice which I had not heard of at that point but I intuitively started doing because it felt right. One night right at the start of my meditation after simply releasing the tension in my mind I was faced with a third-person perspective of me sitting on a brick wall surrounded by darkness. I started falling off the wall backward and the perspective suddenly shifted to first person. What came after was a feeling of dropping something heavy off my back combined with ''EUREKA". I barely slept that night and soon after had a similar experience empty mirrors facing each other and I wrote this as it seemed like the perfect depiction of what the next few days felt like - Every experience holds itself fully. Dejection is dejected, pain is painful, joy is joyful. I remember talking to Daniel later in December about this as I thought it was a stream entry experience and he gave me some guidance and told me to keep practicing through questions and that answers should come up. Ever since then every time I had a question I would tell myself to practice through and that was the last time I cared about where I am on the map of insight. It felt senseless to obsess over it, stuff was being constructed and deconstructed in front of my eyes and at a deep level was a feeling that my turn will soon come to be untangled and set free. I could never repeat these special experiences afterward, I kept practicing every day, reaching insight, feeling more and more sane month after month.
But, my day-to-day experience this past month has been very interesting:
Phenomena in my awareness being like clouds of colored, textured gas has been a stable way of perceiving since November except it now encompassed everything. Or to say it better - signals coming from every sense gate are all just textured clouds mixing with each other, as in it’s all just one sense. What preceded this way of perceiving was a realization that everything I think of as me is just layers of mental functions stacked on each other. Then these layers warped around a giant black hole and at that point, it seemed so clear that there was no single unit of control, no self could be found, there was no one observing from the back, everything just warped on each other. Right now, it seems stupid to think that there is someone in the background who will benefit from the mind squeezing and warping itself in order to avoid an experience. There is still an experience of subjectivity but it feels like just another sensation that arises alongside other objects. The simple fluidity that I saw in the itches appearing throughout the body I now see in the sense of self. It is here but it’s soft, I feel it fading in and out with each new instance of consciousness. There seems to be an end to this journey of dissolving as before once the sensation dissolved the observer was there to see it. But now the observer, the feeling of subjectivity dissolves together with everything else. Yet I am not still or fast enough to see the moment between the old and the new instance of consciousness. They still seem tied together. This same pattern of progression seems so fractal as if this all has happened several times already. Every time dropping me into a deeper layer of the mind.
In general, my experience since November has been that more and more mental processes realize they are simply a part of an interconnected system and once the realization happens these processes get integrated(the feeling that “I” was the one controlling them disappears)the mind feels more relaxed and existing feels less effortful. And so on in fractal repetitions. It feels cathartic to write about this finally, I do apologize if the text is a mess. It’s just that so, so much has changed in the past year but people who do not go through this journey cannot exactly relate to what we are saying. I don’t know if anyone will read this ‘till the end, but if you did, thanks. 

P.S. Often I wake up feeling like someone is sending 5000 volts of electricity up my spine and into my brain, it feels ecstatic at first but then it’s like my consciousness is about to explode. Does this stop at any point? It has been happening to me on and off for almost a year now.
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Kaloyan Stefanov, modified 10 Months ago at 8/23/21 4:20 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/23/21 4:20 AM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 79 Join Date: 2/18/21 Recent Posts
Hi Sasha, thanks for sharing your story! By the sounds of it, it seems you are making good progress, great for you! You seem to have a regular practice, have given this thing the space and time it needs, and are already reaping some of the benfits! Well done and keep going! What you share generally makes sense to me, and matches a lot of what I was going through at what I believe is a similar part of the territory. 

I don't immediately see something that is off in your practice, or something that I would say you must be doing. At the stage where you likely are (this is no attempt to map you), your intuition as to what type of practice etc. to do is likely to drive progress further. I can see how you also describe that - e.g. you were intuitively drawn to a practice by M Taft and that brought some good progress. Seeing also that you spoke with Daniel, and I assume he likely provided some good tips emoticon

At the stage where you are, I personally benefited a lot from direct-pointing stuff (Advaita, neo-non-duality & also Hindu and Buddhist Tantra stuff). It may be something that helps, but lot's of people also progress without it and it is not their thing. There is a good ammount of youtube material on the topic by various teachers that specialise more in direct-pointing - Adyashanti and Rupert Spira are two of the most famous ones. There are also some good books on the topic. Daniel (although not famous for his direct-pointing) also skilfully directly points to the damn no-self thing throughout MCTB2 (which technically is not a direct-pointing book), and also in podcasts such as this one - a bit longer, part 3 is heavy on direct pointing but the whole thing is definately worth a watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY5GVQgcYdE.

Another thing I found useful at this stage is just talking about these things with people. Do you have any dharma or non-dharma friends or loved ones that you talk about these things?

On the energy stuff, it does tend to get better - but it is very individual. Some people have barely any energectic symptoms, and some have heavy ones for multiple years. As long as it is not impeding your functioning too much, I wouldn't worry too much about it and let it "do its thing". There seems to be a certain built-in intelligence to these energetic arisings as well. Rest, water, good food, mild excercise, walks in nature, meeting with people ocasionally tends to help with energetic stuff.
George S, modified 10 Months ago at 8/23/21 9:31 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/23/21 9:18 AM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Wow, what a journey! Thanks for sharing emoticon

I don't have much to add to Kaloyan's excellent advice above. In order to connect with your intuition about the way forward, it might be helpful to ask - what am I really looking for? Not necessarily just from a practice perspective, but also in the wider context of life. The further down the path you go, the more subtle things get in terms of underlying intentions and motivations. No need to answer here, just something to reflect on if it feels right.
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finding-oneself *, modified 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 10:19 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 10:19 AM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 252 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
That was super interesting to read. I too encountered the dropping the ball practice but I did put much thought into it, but reading your post is inspiring me to get a Michael taft video qued for for when I get stuck. 
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Sasha F, modified 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 1:02 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 1:01 PM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/22/21 Recent Posts
Hi Kaloyan! First of all, thank you for taking the time to go through my story and give me such a detailed reply. I've tried to reply several times today, maybe  my reply is just too long emoticon So I'll do it in two parts.  I’ve spent the last week working with your advice and came back with some notes I wanted to share: The no-self podcast with Daniel is what I mostly credit for the recent “black hole” event. I watched all three parts a few weeks before it happened and the realizations from watching it culminated into that event(this is what I think, looking back at everything). When I practice now it’s much harder to still my mind completely since I am studying to become a data engineer and have returned to normal life but that has not affected the progression of insight. You talking about direct pointed instructions seems to be spot on because I can notice that the tail end of sensations is being blurred out. Just like the brain blurs out the nose from our sight. The refuge for the self seems to be in the frame surrounding my experience. The only way to observe it is to do with my attention the equivalent of defocusing my eyes when wanting to see the entire room in front of me. I’ve also been waking up completely agency-less it seems, the body stands up and stretches on its own before getting shocked and returning to a dualistic split.  I’m not sure if agency-less is the best word to use here but without a doer-doing tension for sure. - These are notes written down between Monday and Friday this week. As I mentioned, I’ve already been here multiple times in the last year, a phase where my dreams are often extremely metaphorical, I would say it is equanimity. I dare say I hate this stage emoticon What comes to mind when I reach this familiar stage of practice are Daniel’s quotes: If you’ve come this far then you are extremely close, all you need to do is relax and keep practicing.  And "some people never get further than equanimity because of their physiological programming." -paraphrasing   These words combined with the fact that trying to assume a position of a meditator while practicing just feels like going backward. Doing what progressed my practice now feels completely counterintuitive. Trying to relax also creates a dualistic split and feels counterproductive. I wake up with what feels like my body doing everything on its own and I have dreams of different colored sensations on a boat saying “we don’t need a map, we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be!”  So everything feels to be progressing on its own and when I try to control it things just fall apart and progression stops! <--- I'm glad this came out. I will now work on deconstructing the frustrated meditator cluster of sensations and also untangle which part of meditative progress depends directly on the control and existence of "ME - the twisting and squeezing mind".  Combined with directly pointed stuff. 
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Sasha F, modified 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 1:02 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 1:02 PM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/22/21 Recent Posts
One last note: During day-to-day activities, I can relax(still) my mind for what feels like a second. When this happens my mind gets a bit scared and a wave of energy jolts into my head, the entire frame of consciousness seems to disappear and reappear as the next moment but I still cannot see the space in between. 

I do have a close dharma friend who mostly replies with “I can’t even wrap my head around that”  But he’s still a great listener and I can talk to him about all of this stuff. However, I would love to be able to send you some questions every month or two if they come up. I usually practice and write my way through my inner conflicts combined with giving them space and time but sometimes I could really use some simple advice from someone who has experience with what I’m going through.
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Sasha F, modified 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 1:03 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 1:03 PM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/22/21 Recent Posts
Thanks George, I've been writting down and reflecting on the exepctations and ideals I have in regards to awakening and I'll also take some time to reflect on what I am looking for.  ^^
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Sasha F, modified 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 1:11 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 8/31/21 1:09 PM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/22/21 Recent Posts
Thanks for reading! That type of practice has done wonders for me, it balances my "get super focused and dismantle everything gogogogo" side
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Kaloyan Stefanov, modified 9 Months ago at 9/6/21 6:16 AM
Created 9 Months ago at 9/6/21 6:16 AM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 79 Join Date: 2/18/21 Recent Posts
Hey Sasha, thanks for sharing these additional notes! This all sounds pretty good to me!

It is funny how synchonistically sometimes thing work - I suggested the direct-pointing-heavy podcast of Daniel, not knowing you had already watched it and it made a difference. The universe is a playful puppy sometimes emoticon

Indeed, a simplified way of putting it is that the refuge of the selfing process is the frame. On EQ (or even in DN), and as the process hopefully progresses, you will have increasingly more clarity over these sensations that normally constitute the "frame", and are normally kind-a blacked-out and "self-ing". 

Some thoughts which I hope may be useful for you:
Practicing in these stages is super light - it is literally mostly about creating the time for sitting/lying/walking and letting the body-mind do its thing.  The practice does you, so to speak. If you have anxiety about reaching goals and attainments, it seems your dream provided some very sound advice "We don't need a map, we are exactly where we are supposed to be" emoticon. There is only this here-now, only these sensations - if they constitute some anxiety about attainments, about the experience currently being too "dualistic" and more dualistic than it should be, or it was 1 day ago, about "I got it, but now I lost it", etc., then this is this moment, this is the territory, and carefully, freely, gently attending to these sensations (incl. thoughts) and letting the body-mind do its thing is the practice.

On a certain level you cannot go "wrong", as even if you feeling anxious that you are overtrying etc. is you being in the right spot. A metaphor which might be useful - it is like a cat practicing "being a cat". I assume you have spent some time around cats? Do they need to be taught to "relax and just be a cat"? No, whatever the cat does is what "being a cat" is emoticon

You are always welcome to share your progress or any obstacles that you encounter here as frequently as you like. Me and others will try to do our best to contribute positively. If you prefer to talk to someone 1on1 on skype, etc. - drop me a message here or to ks stefan ov @ gm ail. com without the spaces and we can arrange something - I am more than happy to chat emoticon
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Sasha F, modified 9 Months ago at 9/7/21 3:12 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 9/7/21 3:12 PM

RE: A year of hardcore mind training and insight, feedback appreciated

Posts: 18 Join Date: 4/22/21 Recent Posts
Thank you very much, kind sir!
 

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