Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 10/22/11 5:25 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry josh r s 10/22/11 6:53 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry John Wilde 10/22/11 7:42 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 10/23/11 8:41 AM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry John Wilde 10/23/11 9:04 AM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry End in Sight 10/22/11 8:39 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 11/13/11 7:00 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry End in Sight 10/24/11 12:38 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 10/26/11 10:02 AM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry Liam O'Sullivan 10/26/11 10:47 AM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 10/26/11 2:56 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 10/26/11 2:50 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry End in Sight 10/26/11 5:01 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry Tommy M 10/26/11 5:02 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 10/27/11 12:38 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 11/11/11 6:44 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry Tommy M 11/12/11 5:56 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 11/13/11 6:43 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry Steph . 11/13/11 1:15 AM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 11/13/11 7:08 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry Steph . 11/14/11 4:00 AM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 11/11/11 6:41 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry Tommy M 11/12/11 6:42 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry End in Sight 11/12/11 7:59 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry Tommy M 11/13/11 6:41 AM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 11/13/11 7:01 PM
RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry carolin varley 11/13/11 7:02 PM
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 10/22/11 5:25 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/22/11 5:25 PM

Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
So taking the advice of No End in Sight I've decided to start a practice thread, which will hopefully keep me motivated, make me more honest with myself about my practice and of course it helps to hear from other people who have been there, done that and can give me advice.

Background: I'm pre-path, dark night, have been meditating for about 1 and a half years now for 1-2 hours a day. Had my first retreat recently which was a "choicless awareness retreat", aka just sitting, which has definitely impacted my practice, which before had kind of stagnated into a mess of trying to note myself half heartedly out of dark night, while unable to detach myself from the thoughts that this state was permanent and that I wasn't likely to get stream entry any time soon.
Had also been dedicating half of my time to samatha practice, focusing on the breath.
Recently I have kind of hit a meditation cross roads. I have read and discovered so many ways to practice (such as AF, just sitting, and different approaches to samatha) that I feel like I want to order everything on the menu, but know that I can't eat it all! Also this has lead to the problem where in daily life I realize I haven't been aware, want to establish mindfulness but am caught between all these different methods, and waste alot of time thinking about "what the right practice for the situation is."

My day today for example was waking up, going about doing my morning routine thinking "this is known" and trying to take the perspective of awareness (which I find works better in off cushion time than my previous approach of strained mindfulness although I still have a tendency to attach strongly to my thoughts, and I tend to panic slightly when I can't figure out how to "deal" with them).

I then did a 45 minute samatha sit which was quite uneventful. Sat there trying to surrender to whatever happened (which is what gave me one of my first tastes of jhana a few days ago), while sneakily thinking to myself "this did the trick last time" emoticon so I suppose I still have quite a bit of clinging to detach from. I also have found a few times that alternating between watching the pleasantness of the breath and being aware of thoughts as they arise so that I can detach from them asap has helped in the past for strengthening focus on the breath and weakening focus on thoughts. However, today I just felt like I had to constantly watch out for thoughts to not get lost in them, so alot of the time the breath was more in the background if any thing. Any ideas on mastering this balance or different techniques?

Later went for a long "AF walk" up to the large park by my apartment. After reading Stephanie's post about how really getting into music can trigger PCE's I have started using my ipod more, but I felt that it was just a distraction for me today. I guess I'm not such a music lover and have never really experienced "getting lost in the music" which alot of other people seem to get. Had a good time though and alot of moments of REALLY enjoying the blue sky, green grass and the sunlight shining off everything, but some parts felt a bit "fake it till you make it" and no EE's today. emoticon

Then has a 45 minute choiceless awareness sit, which I THINK (SPECULATION WARNING) might have gotten me into low equanimity, although that broad-focus feeling only lasted about 20 min's from when my sit ended, and right now I am not particularly mindful at all, and can feel that my minds getting quite dull (like it normally does in the evenings) and I'm tempted to zombie out in front of bbc iplayer.
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josh r s, modified 10 Years ago at 10/22/11 6:53 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/22/11 6:47 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 337 Join Date: 9/16/11 Recent Posts
I also have found a few times that alternating between watching the pleasantness of the breath and being aware of thoughts as they arise so that I can detach from them asap has helped in the past for strengthening focus on the breath and weakening focus on thoughts. However, today I just felt like I had to constantly watch out for thoughts to not get lost in them, so alot of the time the breath was more in the background if any thing. Any ideas on mastering this balance or different techniques?


you might want to try just focusing on the breath, as long as you are concentrating on the breath thoughts can show up but aren't really a big problem, just let them do their thing as background noise. as you keep intensifying pleasant sensations the thoughts seem to just drop away of their own accord

but some parts felt a bit "fake it till you make it" and no EE's today


depending on what you mean by "fake it till you make it" that might not be a problem... in one sense haietmoba is just "faking it" in that you changing the focus of your attention in a way as close as you can get to the PCE for a moment. Tarin Greco made a cool flow chart describing the practice, suggesting that you "find closest approximation" of the PCE as an effort to actually get into one.

chart

here is an explanation
what i drew up that first flowchart to present is a means by which one can make a particular mode of experience (which i have therein dubbed 'perfection') permanent. however, if one's present mode of experience is not perfect as such (in other terms, is not immediately a pce), then the step i advise in the chart is for one to find the nearest approximation to perfection that one can, here and now (either by recognising its qualitative similarity to a remembered pce or by tuning in to the qualities present which are clearly and indubitably ideal)... done properly, this will, over time, lead to more clarity about how to evince a pce directly. however, if one is unable to tune in to such an approximation of perfection (which would be likely due to one being uncertain about how this is done), then what i recommend is to, in no uncertain terms, enjoy this moment of being alive (which is markedly different from, and superior to, merely 'deciding to be fine' with it). such enjoyment will, over time, occasionally reveal the traits of perfection, similar to how if one gazes at a pond, one will occasionally see sparkles of light reflecting off of fish which have come to the surface at the right spots. someone who catches enough of these sparkles will get an idea of what i mean by the traits of perfection soon or later (and will be having a great time meanwhile).. and someone with a zest for enjoying themselves (who has an enthusiasm for gusto) will catch enough of these sparkles sooner rather than later. (there, could i really drop any more hints than i just have?)
John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 10/22/11 7:42 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/22/11 7:40 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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Hi Carolin,

Just some personal experience and opinion here, not any attempt to guide or teach in terms of your particular goal.

A couple of your comments suggest that thought is a problem for you.

I find thought is a problem if you either

1) get carried away by the content

2) consider it an unwelcome distraction and resist it (which only generates more of what makes thought unwelcome).

A different way of relating to thought resolves both these problems.

Can you you shift your attention from the content of thought to what thought is actually made of?

(What is it composed of? What is its 'substance'? Where does it come from? What is the space in which it arises?)

If you can do this, you're

1) no longer on the 'inside' of the thought (ie. no longer living in the mental world which the thought has created)

2) no longer finding thought a distraction, or something to resist, or something to panic over.

3) aware of the 'space'[1] in which thought arises, and noticing that it's no more disturbed by the arising of thought than the ocean is troubled by its waves.

(It takes a lot of needless tension out of life, and doesn't seem to impair the ability to think ;-)).

John

[1] One's notion of what exactly this 'space' is may well change over time ... or even disappear! ;-)
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 10/22/11 8:39 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/22/11 8:36 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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carolin varley:
So taking the advice of No End in Sight


Does talking about the First Noble Truth make me seem so emo? emoticon

Continuing from your previous thread ...

carolin varley:

After reading Daniel's book I was doing a kind of"ordinary vipasna" with a mixture of noting (with and without words) until quite recently, and I found what I was doing quite a strained method of applying mindfulness. Went on a retreat recently though that was about taking the wider perspective of awareness and realising that you are always aware, and so you don't need to DO anything in a sense, because you can't help being aware. Just realizing this, and reminding myself of this has really helped. (...)

So decided to take your advice ans start a practice thread, hoping to pick up on more patterns I feel I am overlooking in my practice that may help me, and that it will encourage me to be more reflected. Also I feel like I can use all the advice I can get. For example I don't really know how to start going about to adjust my meditation to suit me like you suggested. I have noticed that I find some forms easier at the moment (choiceless awareness/formless awareness rather than noting)


First off, what "ordinary" vipassana is to you could be all kinds of things to the rest of us. In order to talk about your technique, you'll need to be more detailed in describing what you've done.

I can think of two basic ways to lean, from where you happen to be (though there are lots of others):

1) Adjusting noting

* Use a different "go-to" object for noting (your body, your vision, your breath, feelings)

* Note faster

* Note with / without words

* Build some concentration before noting

As a general point, the technique which is likely in my opinion to be most "powerful" along these lines is to note vibrations...picking whichever sense vibrations are more prominent in, and focusing on that. For example, if you can discern that objects are vibrating most clearly in your visual field, you could make the vibration of the visual field your default thing to note. In other words, you will see the visual field vibrate "on" and then "off", and you will note that, as rapidly as you can see it happen. (You would also note all distractions as usual.) This is likely to exaggerate the qualities of the nana you're in, and may interfere with your ability to cultivate felicity, but it should work quite directly (as it focuses you on the fundamental perceptual thing that you need to discern).

(How is your ability to see vibrations?)

2) Samatha / choiceless awareness hybrid

In this case, you would make a small choice with respect to what you focus on, by making sure that your breath is included in your awareness, but also making sure to include whatever else arises in as panoramic a way as possible (not pushing anything out of awareness). You would observe the sensation of your breathing, but without the goal of trying to get jhana or attain anything in particular; just observing the breath in this way, letting go of goals, and allowing yourself to observe whatever comes up may give rise to a more concentrated sort of choiceless awareness.

These are just simple ideas based on what little I know of your practice. If you describe what you've done, that would help.

carolin varley:
Recently I have kind of hit a meditation cross roads. I have read and discovered so many ways to practice (such as AF, just sitting, and different approaches to samatha) that I feel like I want to order everything on the menu, but know that I can't eat it all! Also this has lead to the problem where in daily life I realize I haven't been aware, want to establish mindfulness but am caught between all these different methods, and waste alot of time thinking about "what the right practice for the situation is."


If you can't decide, go with something fundamental (such as mindfulness of the body...how your body feels, how your body is positioned, etc.) and stick with it.

Mindfulness of breathing is also a possibility. On the plus side, you can build a significant amount of concentration like this, even when not sitting. On the minus side, it may interfere with your ability to function if your default awareness isn't panoramic enough.

Maha Boowa (in "The Path to Arahantship") describes mindfulness of a mantra as something he did early on in his practice, and claims that it works pretty much analogously to what I stated about mindfulness of breath...lots of concentration, not a lot of paying attention to basic life situations.

Asking HAIETMOBA constantly can be really good for some people.

The basic thing is just to build your ability to pay attention in a useful way. It's more important to do something than to think about what would be best. Pick something that suits you, make it as habitual as possible, and only then play around with the details. I think one of the best things to do at this point is pick some particular experience which is always there (body, breath) and at least make sure to be mindful of / attentive to sensuousness with regard to that experience, no matter what else is happening.
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 10/23/11 8:41 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/23/11 8:41 AM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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John Wilde:
I find thought is a problem if you either

1) get carried away by the content

2) consider it an unwelcome distraction and resist it (which only generates more of what makes thought unwelcome).

A different way of relating to thought resolves both these problems.

Can you you shift your attention from the content of thought to what thought is actually made of?

(What is it composed of? What is its 'substance'? Where does it come from? What is the space in which it arises?)


Wow thanks for the advice John. Just had a really contented sit where I resolved what I was going to do (so that I wouldn't be aimlessly wondering all over the place) and spent what seemed like a relatively effortless 45 minutes following the breath and examining thought. When I say effortless I was of course still using effort to stay focused and direct my concentration, but the sitting down part and not peaking at the timer, like I normally do, was effortless and the sit was very enjoyable overall.
It was really satisfying directing my focus at the thoughts instead of trying to push them away, and noticing how they seemed to just be bubbles that popped if I actually tried to examine them, and what they were made of.
When I felt I could grasp the notion that "thoughts weren't me", which I managed a few times on retreat but had lost the knack of until today, I turned towards the breath less bothered by the background babble. I amped up the sensuousness of the breath, and when I included Daniel's suggestion of "breathing in as though you were breathing in the cent of roses or a really pleasant smell, I spent the last few minutes of practice in what felt like a semi-jhanic state. Shall try not to assume my next practice will be as "good" though, because this normally leads to disappointment in my experience.
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John Wilde, modified 10 Years ago at 10/23/11 9:04 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/23/11 9:04 AM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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carolin varley:

Wow thanks for the advice John. Just had a really contented sit where I resolved what I was going to do (so that I wouldn't be aimlessly wondering all over the place) and spent what seemed like a relatively effortless 45 minutes following the breath and examining thought. When I say effortless I was of course still using effort to stay focused and direct my concentration, but the sitting down part and not peaking at the timer, like I normally do, was effortless and the sit was very enjoyable overall.


Glad to hear that, Carolin. It's nice when a practice feels easy and enjoyable without any lessening of attention. I suspected you might find it soothing and liberating based on what you'd written about choiceless awareness (and how it compared with the noting practice you'd been doing earlier).

You might find this works really well off the cushion too.

In fact, that's where I think it really shines. It doesn't get in the way; you can do it anywhere.

John
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 7:00 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/23/11 8:31 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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End in Sight:
carolin varley:
So taking the advice of No End in Sight


Does talking about the First Noble Truth make me seem so emo? emoticon


Haha. Maybe you should open another account under that name for days when you are feeling less optimistic.emoticon


End in Sight:
First off, what "ordinary" vipassana is to you could be all kinds of things to the rest of us. In order to talk about your technique, you'll need to be more detailed in describing what you've done.


Yeh I can see how what I said before was a bit vague. Well basically I was doing sits and just trying to disimbed from whatever came up, like noticing noises around me, how I reacted to the noises, the thoughts that triggered and my reaction to the thoughts (slashing/contracting energy). I used to use a labeling approach like "listening" "reacting" "feeling" etc. but lately I have only been using labels in my practice to label particularly sticky thoughts and strong sensations, as I found words would just spin off into thought associations and stories.
Not quite sure how quickly I am noting/noticing, and I often get quite overwhelmed by dark-night nanas, finding it difficult to gather enough enthusiasm or faith to put all of my energy into high-speed noting, (even though the unattractive alternative is wallowing in my current state.)

I still find it very difficult to disimbed from thoughts though, and "note" my way out of them. When I was on retreat I got to the point where I could understand that thoughts weren't me and would just imagine my brain as two thin rods which would occasionally touch and form a bubble (my thoughts) as just a natural process. It was very "machine-like." Apparently this wasn't a permanent insight, although I managed to dis-embed quite a bit in an earlier sit today.

End in Sight:
I can think of two basic ways to lean, from where you happen to be (though there are lots of others):

1) Adjusting noting

* Use a different "go-to" object for noting (your body, your vision, your breath, feelings)

Do you recommend having a "go-to" object for noting rather than completely choiceless awareness?

End in Sight:
* Note faster

Should I resolve for this? Is it just as simple as determining to note faster if I feel stuck during meditation? I have tried to amp my meditation up before and feel like I just get quite muddled and confused, and forget to note these states.



End in Sight:
As a general point, the technique which is likely in my opinion to be most "powerful" along these lines is to note vibrations...picking whichever sense vibrations are more prominent in, and focusing on that. For example, if you can discern that objects are vibrating most clearly in your visual field, you could make the vibration of the visual field your default thing to note. In other words, you will see the visual field vibrate "on" and then "off", and you will note that, as rapidly as you can see it happen. (You would also note all distractions as usual.) This is likely to exaggerate the qualities of the nana you're in, and may interfere with your ability to cultivate felicity, but it should work quite directly (as it focuses you on the fundamental perceptual thing that you need to discern).

(How is your ability to see vibrations?)


So note with eyes open? Maybe this will also weaken my tendency to get stuck in thoughts. I actually associate vibrations with too much energy and difficult sits (like the one I just had). Right now if I look at the table I can see that it doesn't look completely solid and that it is shaking/vibrating with tiny tiny pricks. Is this what you mean? I've never actually investigated this properly in a sit though. Might try that tmrw and report back.

Thanks no end ;)
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 10/24/11 12:38 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/24/11 12:33 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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carolin varley:
End in Sight:
carolin varley:
So taking the advice of No End in Sight


Does talking about the First Noble Truth make me seem so emo? emoticon


Haha. Maybe you should open another account under that name for days when you are feeling less optimistic.emoticon


I think feeling that way would require some brain re-engineering. emoticon

carolin varley:

End in Sight:
I can think of two basic ways to lean, from where you happen to be (though there are lots of others):

1) Adjusting noting

* Use a different "go-to" object for noting (your body, your vision, your breath, feelings)

Do you recommend having a "go-to" object for noting rather than completely choiceless awareness?


In context of a pure or relatively pure vipassana practice, I would say that it quite difficult to practice choiceless awareness and yet notice enough of the range of one's experience (at a sufficient level of detail) to make for fast progress. This is a skill that one can learn, some people happen to be good at it by default, and it tends to become easier once having reached Equanimity.

Even for more advanced practitioners who have this ability, it is often better to stick with "foundational" stuff to note (e.g. the body).

When I was pre-path, I found that using the visual field as a "go-to" object was very helpful.

In general, I would say that these three things are things that are beneficial to overweight in terms of how much attention is being applied to them:

* Your body, its position, and all positive / negative / neutral sensations experienced within it

* Your feelings and emotions, whether positive / negative / neutral (if you see these as separate in any way from your body)

* Anything whatsoever that you observe vibrating in a clear way

A fourth would be

* "Formless" qualities of experience (e.g. spaciousness)

but these qualities are not always obvious, especially pre-path, and may not become obvious until one is squarely in Equanimity...one need not search for them if they aren't presenting themselves.

carolin varley:

End in Sight:
* Note faster

Should I resolve for this? Is it just as simple as determining to note faster if I feel stuck during meditation? I have tried to amp my meditation up before and feel like I just get quite muddled and confused, and forget to note these states.


The way that I found to be easiest is to pick the sense in which vibrations are clearest, and simply note the vibrations as quickly as they are observed; I would also intersperse the noting of vibrations with noting anything else that was observed (other senses, feelings, thoughts, etc.), with the understanding that noting vibrations is the primary thing and is to be returned to as soon as possible...if possible, returned to in the momentary gaps between thoughts / etc.. Following that strategy, one's noting will be about as fast as the vibrations one experiences, and there will be less confusion (assuming that confusion is due to having to look around for something to note, or pushing too hard to note beyond a speed that seems appropriate). There are other ways to pursue this, but this way is an reasonable default practice which you could try varying once you were comfortable with it.

As I have no idea how quickly your default noting would be, I have no idea whether this would be any faster.

If your default noting is on the slower side, a resolution to note faster (which may mean, a resolution to look more closely at your experience, and to decompose it more strongly) may be sufficient.

A Goenka-influenced noting variant would be to make the body and all vibratory experiences in the body the "go-to" object (even if another sense is more prominent)...the value of this may depend on whether these experiences are perceived to vibrate clearly enough.

carolin varley:
So note with eyes open? Maybe this will also weaken my tendency to get stuck in thoughts. I actually associate vibrations with too much energy and difficult sits (like the one I just had). Right now if I look at the table I can see that it doesn't look completely solid and that it is shaking/vibrating with tiny tiny pricks. Is this what you mean? I've never actually investigated this properly in a sit though. Might try that tmrw and report back.


That sounds like what I mean.

Noting with eyes open vs. closed is something that you will have to experiment with. It is possible to note vibrations in the visual field either way (the back of your eyelids are black, so any flickering you notice is a vibration that can be noted). I personally prefer eyes open; both ways are valid.

If you make vibrations in your visual field your primary object, it is likely to help make thoughts less sticky (as each time you note a thought, you immediately go back to the visual field...withdrawing attention from thinking removes some of the fuel by which it proliferates.)

The more prominent vibrations are, the more the particular qualities of the nana that you're in will be experienced...thus, in the Dark Night, clear vibrations are likely to be associated with difficult sits, as you say. However, seeing vibrations (which are the mind's affective reaction to sense-experience) in a clear way is the means by which stream entry is most directly attained, so my recommendation, assuming that you want to pursue vipassana, is to observe them (rather than ignore them) insofar as they present, and accept that it may not be pleasant, and accept that experiencing this unpleasantness in a non-reactive and accepting way is the key to progress at this point, and accept that some temporary increases in unpleasantness may be signs of progress (as they indicate being able to observe vibrations more clearly than before). (Do not forget to note the feeling of unpleasantness, however it manifests, and whether you see it as a body sensation or a free-floating "tone" that experience has.)

Some other advice. You have mentioned ending sits during stronger experiences of concentration...I would consider not ending sits anytime something interesting / new / uncommon is happening, and especially not when your concentration is good. If things are working, it's best to roll with it if possible. If that means extending a 45 minute sit to 3 hours, so long as you have no other impeding plans or responsibilities to attend to, why not?

Also, insofar as you have a lot of thinking going on, you could try ignoring the cognitive component of it, rather than focusing on it or noting it. (Paying attention to it often generates more of it.) Spending a lot of time noting thoughts is generally not as helpful as noting clearer sense-experiences or feelings / emotions. Keep in mind that you can note feelings / emotions while ignoring a great deal of the cognitive clutter that surrounds them.

Finally, if you reach Low Equanimity or think that you're reaching Low Equanimity, but keep falling out of it, consider whether (at that point) you might need to vary your practice in some way. Some people find a different approach to Equanimity to be useful. (However, don't expect that this will be required.) See what happens, and experiment.

carolin varley:
Well basically I was doing sits and just trying to disimbed from whatever came up, like noticing noises around me, how I reacted to the noises, the thoughts that triggered and my reaction to the thoughts (slashing/contracting energy). I used to use a labeling approach like "listening" "reacting" "feeling" etc. but lately I have only been using labels in my practice to label particularly sticky thoughts and strong sensations, as I found words would just spin off into thought associations and stories.


Keep in mind that noting your experience may be a clearer and easier-to-act-upon goal than disembedding.

carolin varley:
Thanks no end ;)


My pleasure.
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 10:02 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 10:02 AM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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K so I am aiming for a three hour sit now. I realized that if I actually wrote this on my thread it would mean I was more likely to do it.emoticon
Liam O'Sullivan, modified 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 10:47 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 10:47 AM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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Three hours is a lot in one go, in my humble opinion. I think my brain would say 'if I'm doing three hours then I expect results, damnit' and get all tied up in expectations. Physically demanding, too. I've found a long buildup of establishing mindfulness during travel, everyday life etc. and then sitting often has been more beneficial than a long sit.

As others have suggested, when getting stuck in the Dark Night, stick to bodily sensations. If that's too hard, drop to one sensation. It's a gears thing like Kenneth or Shinzen practice. The noting, I find, tends to speed up of itself when the factors of enlightenment arise: allowing tranquility leads to investigative inclination leads to greater mindfulness, etc.

When I began noting rather than doing anapana I went right back to mindfulness of the body and am only now adding in emotions, thoughts etc. as I feel able to. They're just so darn slippery, especially for analytical peeps who get caught in the content easily.
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 2:50 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 2:50 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

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Near miss?
I have no idea what I experienced today but it just happened half an hour ago or so, so sorry if this sounds a bit strange. Haven't really rapped my head around "it" yet.
Today before my sit I read this excellent article by Nikoli on stream entry tips. http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/page/Collection+of+tips+to+get+stream+entry

Then had a half hour sit=snoozing and ending up curled up on the carpet with my head on my zafoo zoning out, not too optimistic about my three hour declaration.
Anyway decided to move my "sit" to the bed, where I lay just noting all the aversion I was feeling about not knowing what to do, meditating in an informal position, etc.
Then, when the aversion had lifted sufficiently I actually felt like sitting. Had some tea and sat down on my zafu for attempt 2. Did some metta practice, which I haven't done in a while. Decided to give it a proper go, and actually felt really serene and loving by the end of it (which I could have really used in most of my previous dark night sits). Oh metta, how I have underestimated you!
Then went onto noting practice, landing right in the middle of intense dark night sensation with plenty of aversion, but this time I just found it really curios. I just remembered how Nikoli had said in the article that you are never going to get away from your suffering by running away from it. Really embraced it and after 10 minutes popped my head out in equanimity, where all my brain chatter, surrounding noises, bodily vibrations and feeling tones became glaringly obvious. Noted away softly but determinately, enjoying this out-of-control relaxed-ness about everything that was happening.
Remembered what Michael A. wrote in his thread about how if something in you wants to keep sitting then LISTEN TO IT! So I turned my timer off and just sat there... After a while I started focusing on my third eye area and the flickering, squirming sensations there. I felt waves of immense fear (prob. fear of ego being anihalatedemoticon) and just remembered to be completely accepting of that. Noted the fear for a while and then back to the head. By this point there were patches of energy throbbing all around my body, and when I looked at them more closely I could see they were made of tiny tiny pricks of energy. Energy running up my spine. Back to third eye area and then this crazy thing happened that felt like a brain cramp. My eyes started blinking rapidly out of control and my body exploded in energy.
I could feel how excited I was, how much I wanted this, how scared I was. I don't think I got access concentration today but I could sense I was close to something.
Amping up my noting practice!emoticon
Dedicating this post to metta
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 2:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 2:56 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Haha you're probably right Liam. I think my meditations go better generally when I sit for 45 mins or so, for twice a day and only do more if I feel like it. That will prob. be my new attitude from now on. The 3 hour attempt started with me getting sleepy in the first 10 minutes and thinking "I CANT DO THIS FOR 3 HOURS!" Whereas when I just dropped the time frame, which was causing alot of aversion, I could sit alot more easily and I magically wasn't sleepy anymore...hmmm suspicios. emoticon
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 5:01 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 5:01 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Turning off the timer and allowing your sits to stretch on for however long seems natural, rather than determining that you'll sit for a certain amount of time, sounds like a good idea.

Keep in mind that stream entry won't necessarily come when you expect it to. If you feel like something is going to happen, just note the feeling and move on.

In any case, whatever you're doing seems to be working; carry on!
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 5:02 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/26/11 5:01 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Going from your previous practice notes, I'd suggest that you're getting into early A&P territory. There are similarities between 3rd ñana, Knowledge of the Three Characteristics, and 10th ñana, Re-Observation as well as between 4th, A&P, and 11th, Equanimity so don't get hung up on figuring out the specifics of where you are right now as it's easy to get confused. If you want the specifics of why I'm saying this, possibly disappointing, rough diagnosis based on your descriptions then I'll highlight them below:

Then had a half hour sit=snoozing and ending up curled up on the carpet with my head on my zafoo zoning out, not too optimistic about my three hour declaration.

3rd and 10th ñanas can have this sleepy, can't be arsed sort of thing happening, as can 5th, Dissolution.

Anyway decided to move my "sit" to the bed, where I lay just noting all the aversion I was feeling about not knowing what to do, meditating in an informal position, etc.

Again, 3rd can be like this.

Then went onto noting practice, landing right in the middle of intense dark night sensation with plenty of aversion, but this time I just found it really curios. I just remembered how Nikoli had said in the article that you are never going to get away from your suffering by running away from it. Really embraced it and after 10 minutes popped my head out in equanimity, where all my brain chatter, surrounding noises, bodily vibrations and feeling tones became glaringly obvious. Noted away softly but determinately, enjoying this out-of-control relaxed-ness about everything that was happening.

The last two sentences sound like early A&P, Equanimity is quieter, more spacious and panoramic but the early stages of it can still be quite unpleasant as you edge out of Re-Observation.

As always, this is just my impression based on your descriptions and what I know of your practice so I stand to be corrected on any point. I know how easy it is to overestimate where you are and adjust your practice in a way which isn't conducive to progress, it doesn't help in the long run and doesn't improve your ability to practice well.

As for access concentration, if you're getting into the sort of experiences you're describing then you've almost certainly got this already. I did a blog post on access concentration here which might explain it in more practical terms. Don't let it trip you up, it's really simple.

Don't worry too much about the maps and the technical side of things right now, I guarantee you that all of this will become much clearer with continued practice so just focus on landing stream-entry and get as much practical advice as you can. It sounds like you need to knuckle down in your sits and really go for this as there seems to be a lot of hesitation and speculation happening, some of which is based on inaccurate information and will not lead to the insights you're looking for.

Hope that's of some use to you.
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 10/27/11 12:38 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/27/11 12:38 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for your post. Further practice will tellemoticon
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 11/11/11 6:41 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/11/11 6:41 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
I can't remember ever having a PCE, and while I was on the train today I realized that it was strange not having an idea of what the thing I was trying to get actually felt like. From what I have understood one of the main characteristics of a PCE is that you haven't got any emotions or feelings, and while I was 'imagining' what that would feel like I could feel my emotions ( desire/ doubt etc.) weaken, as I actually got closer to the state I was imagining. I had been sitting there trying to notice beauty/ pleasantness in my surroundings and this suddenly become much more effortless. There was definitely less striving.

I kept repeating this during my day, and when I was walking, and reminding myself to 'imagine' this emotionless state there would be seconds, very very brief moments, where I would catch glimpses of perfection.
This makes me wonder though, is this state that I am 'imagining' completely imagined or would it have to come from a memory of a PCE that I have, where I can't remember the incident precisely but the state is imprinted in my memory?
Also, is this practice what is meant when people talk about 'staying as close as they can to a PCE'?
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 11/11/11 6:44 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/11/11 6:44 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
What exactly did you do to get stream entry? I get the impression that you had a lot of momentum in your practice when you decided to really go for it. Were you noting continuously all day?
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 11/12/11 5:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/12/11 5:56 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
What exactly did you do to get stream entry? I get the impression that you had a lot of momentum in your practice when you decided to really go for it. Were you noting continuously all day?

What complicates my take on things pre-1st path is that I didn't get there (consciously, but more on that later) through the methods most commonly discussed on this site. I come from a different background from most people here because I spent the best part of 15 years studying, practicing and dabbling in various forms of magick and meditation ranging from Thelema to Taoism. If you're interested, I'll describe what happened: (If not, skip to the next bit or else I'll bore you to tears...Ha!)

Stream entry happened after about 18-24 months of the most intense Dark Night period wherein my entire life collapsed; my relationship broke down, my house was about to be repossessed, I was unemployed, had literally no money whatsoever, and all manner of other problems and difficulties ranging from bereavement to mental health. I had thrown out every book and object I had which was related to magick, decided I was done with the search for enlightenment and was disillusioned with the whole thing, I could find no pleasure in anything and began taking a lot of heavy painkillers on the pretense of having a back injury (which I actually do have, but the painkillers became an excuse not to have to feel anything for a while). In short, my life sucked. Big time.

At some point, I remembered an earlier insight into impermanence and applied that to what was going on. The only thing that made life bearable was the understanding that nothing lasts and that even the best of feelings will pass. One night I remember lying like a corpse on the bathroom floor with the door locked, wishing that everything would just stop but in a way which is far beyond the desire to kill yourself (I'd already experienced that fairly regularly but never considered it an option). At that moment, I surrendered and let go of everything, gave up trying and submitted to the will of the universe, to phrase it in a certain way. The next day, I woke up to a different world where I was fine with everything. Bad shit was still happening, but I could deal with it and it was fine in a way I hadn't really noticed before. About three or four days later, still aware of how everything kept changing, I was sitting at the computer when, what I now know as, a Fruition occurred and the entire perceptual field expanded in this amazingly clear way. I turned to my girlfriend and just said "The circuit has been completed", something was completely different about my experience of the world, different to anything that had gone before and the changes that happened never went away. I had no idea what it was but I knew it was different and started getting back into magick again, which led me to the Baptists Head website, which led me to MCTB, which led me here and changed my life in a way I could never, ever, ever have imagined.

Insight practice only seriously started as a conscious choice of technique early last year, a few months after what I learned was stream entry. At first I only did seated practice but over a few months I began incorporating practice into normal life, noting as continuously as possible and working on concentration while sitting formally for longer periods. A fairly intense practice history in other, more concentration based techniques, particularly yogic breathing stuff, undoubtedly gave me a solid foundation from which to work but I believe that making this a lifestyle rather than just a practice is what allowed me to make progress. There is no doubt in my mind that constant observation of the three characteristics at the sensate level is what does the damage and so I recommend applying this whenever possible, not just on the cushion.

The main reason I began to incorporate practice into daily life was that nothing was/is more important to me than putting an end to suffering, a possibility I had already experienced outwith the Buddhist framework but which was so incredibly well explained by Daniel, Kenneth and the people on here that it became something more tangible, something realistic and achievable. In seeing how dramatically my life changed after stream entry, I knew that there was literally no other option for me and that this is a case of life and death. Were it not for the dharma, I'm fairly certain I'd either be dead or cripplingly depressed and, dramatic as it sounds, I mean that sincerely.

Momentum is built with solid, strong, regular and committed practice combined with the desire to end suffering, first for yourself (a word which will make you laugh after a while) and then for all sentient beings. I probably come across as being pretty hardcore and serious about this, which I am to an extent, but I hold humour and a lack of taking yourself seriously in high regard as useful tools along the way. I make an arse of myself quite regularly, but such is the Path of the Fool. emoticon

Learn to enjoy your practice, enjoy the "bad" meditation sits and learn from them, turn the whole thing into a wonderous journey, have fun with it and for fucks sake don't take anything, other than ending suffering, too seriously.

Believe nothing, question everything!

Hope your practice is going well.

T
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 11/12/11 6:42 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/12/11 6:42 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I can't remember ever having a PCE, and while I was on the train today I realized that it was strange not having an idea of what the thing I was trying to get actually felt like. From what I have understood one of the main characteristics of a PCE is that you haven't got any emotions or feelings, and while I was 'imagining' what that would feel like I could feel my emotions ( desire/ doubt etc.) weaken, as I actually got closer to the state I was imagining. I had been sitting there trying to notice beauty/ pleasantness in my surroundings and this suddenly become much more effortless. There was definitely less striving.

In my experience, it's not helpful to focus on the lack of affect in the PCE as a way to get there. Anything you can imagine is not what it's like, and the chances are that you've actually had them more often than you realize but, because they are not stored as an affective memory, the remembering of them in this way doesn't incline you towards it. If that makes sense?

What's more useful is to generate felicity as this is closer to the PCE than trying to cultivate less unpleasant affect is. By focusing on the unpleasant feelings of desire or doubt, you're really just feeding them more but, since "I" can be a tricky motherfucker and, even though you think you're trying to reduce these feelings, it just propagates more of itself or it's opposite. Emotions are dualistic, each contains its opposite and to suppress one is to emphasize the other so it's useful to be able to generate an emotion which is conducive to the required outcome. Neutrality of affect is the potential for either pleasant or unpleasant emotions to arise and so it's not very helpful either.

Perceptually, what works for me isn't noticing obvious beauty or pleasantness but rather just paying attention to simple things like colour or shapes. Try looking at things in a childlike, innocent way, or imagine you're an alien landing on this planet for the first time and how it feels to see things, hear sounds, feel touch, smell and taste them for the first time ever. Do this with sincerity, playfully but honestly, enjoying and appreciating what it is to experience things as this body, as objects making contact with the sense doors.

What you describe sounds a wee bit like a mahamudra-style thing which may explain the lack of striving happening, paying exclusive attention to one of the sense doors and looking for something in the way you describe brings about a similar effect when I do it here. That's a good technique to work with actually, check out this link for a really good talk by Kenneth Folk on Mahamudra.

I kept repeating this during my day, and when I was walking, and reminding myself to 'imagine' this emotionless state there would be seconds, very very brief moments, where I would catch glimpses of perfection.
This makes me wonder though, is this state that I am 'imagining' completely imagined or would it have to come from a memory of a PCE that I have, where I can't remember the incident precisely but the state is imprinted in my memory?
Also, is this practice what is meant when people talk about 'staying as close as they can to a PCE'?

I don't think that this is what's meant by "staying as close to the PCE" as possible. Remember what I said about the PCE being something you can't imagine? It literally is and so anything you can visualize or imagine is not it, those "glimpses of perfection" are more likely down to your desire to see something when you look in this way. It's not a criticism, I know what it's like 'cause I tried that too but what really works is simply paying attention to this immediate sensate experience as it happens. Trying to "get" a PCE doesn't seem very effective, although that's not to say that it can't be, so drop the expectations and preconceptions so that you can just pay attention to what's already there. The PCE reveals things as they are before "you" start labeling and trying to own things as "yours", anything "you" try to do does not bring "you" any closer to it.

When you say "the state is imprinted in my memory", could you explain this a bit more please?

For me, after that extended PCE I wrote about in another thread, the memories of dozens of PCE's through my life have become apparent now that I can automatically tune in to that way of being in the world. The memory isn't the same as, for example, remembering your first kiss or some emotional event, even the same as remembering what colour of socks you put on that morning. It's kinda hard to explain what I mean here, the sensory clarity and directness of perception can be 'relived' by tuning into the senses and recalling what it was like to experience in that way. It's not quite that simple otherwise I'd be writing from a full-blown PCE right now, but basically if you're able to tune in to the feelings of wonder, naivetè and felicity then you can begin to make your way back. What usually stands in the way is some feeling(s) about something, or, more broadly, a belief pattern which is preventing one from being attentive to the senses.

Advice? If you're aiming for AF, attention to the senses as constantly as possible while only dealing with the psychological/belief based stuff as the need arises. Don't go looking for trouble. emoticon

If you're going for stream entry, noting, noting, noting, concentration, noting, noting, noting, concentration, noting...ad nauseum or until you land 1st path.

It might be worth focusing on one or other right now, rather than flitting between two rather different goals and thus giving yourself unnecessary work. Both have their benefits but it depends on what it is that you're looking for, although stream entry at the very least seems to be very useful before pursuing AF. Personal opinion, of course, and it's up to you. Either way, you'll get plenty of practical advice on here.

Peace.
End in Sight, modified 10 Years ago at 11/12/11 7:59 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/12/11 7:59 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Although the PCE isn't imaginable per se (as employing the faculty of imagination pushes one away from it), if Carolin is getting "glimpses of perfection" (and not kidding herself about what perfection is), I'd say whatever she's doing is inclining her mind in the right direction.

I suppose that's what it comes down to...perfection, or 'perfection'?

(This is one word that deserves to be treated with reverence.)
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Steph , modified 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 1:15 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 12:27 AM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
carolin varley:
What exactly did you do to get stream entry? I get the impression that you had a lot of momentum in your practice when you decided to really go for it. Were you noting continuously all day?


Alot of people here are really good at the technical stuff. I've never been one for the super technical side of things, as in figuring out the exact in's and out's of every little mental movement. I'm not saying you should shy away from that, if you're interested in or good at the technical stuff.. then go for it. But what has primarily kept me going, and going well, has been the following:

I made it my number one priority in life to find peace. Simple as that. Paying attention to everything, without fail, until the thing was on auto-pilot and I couldn't stop paying attention even if I wanted to.. haha, so yes, there is a natural momentum that's important. The absolute most important thing for me that has kept this momentum going is unwavering commitment (don't mistake this to mean that you will never feel like giving up or doubtful). I have tons of times, but I just looked at that feeling of wanting to give up/doubt for what it was, watched it fade, and went on (and yes, sometimes wallowed in it which was totally unnecessary, but that passed too). For what it's worth, in case it helps squash some doubt about how possible this is... Within one year and five months of starting completely from scratch - absolutely zero meditation experience of any kind - I have far surpassed stream-entry. For the past year, my primary practice has been actualism, so I haven't been so focused on stages of insight, but in recently comparing notes to others here it seems I'm beyond technical 4th path at this point. No big deal, I keep going and keep paying attention to everything.

The video linked below has more advice from another woman, a nun who seriously rocked. The Dharma Overground tends to be mostly men and I wish there were more women who posted here regularly, so keep it up with you have to say! And feel free to PM me for Gchat or Skype info if you want to chat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMkjTcB2DzI&feature=related
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 6:41 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 6:41 AM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Although the PCE isn't imaginable per se (as employing the faculty of imagination pushes one away from it), if Carolin is getting "glimpses of perfection" (and not kidding herself about what perfection is), I'd say whatever she's doing is inclining her mind in the right direction.

I suppose that's what it comes down to...perfection, or 'perfection'?

(This is one word that deserves to be treated with reverence.)

It was on the off-chance that Carolin was mistaking something imaginative for actuality that I mentioned this, something I considered based on the descriptions of the method she employed to get to that point. Although you're point is spot on and if these truly are "glimpses of perfection", as in glimpses of actuality, then I see no reason to change the approach. Apologies if my advice came across as dismissive or overly skeptical.
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 6:43 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 6:43 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for taking the time to write your story, Tommy. It wasn't boring at all. In fact I find it really inspirational and helpful to see where everyone has come from. It's easy for me to forget that not every one on this site was born 4th path.
I have found with my practice that I go through different phases, were life seems really difficult (and I get lots of motivation to get me out of this hell hole!) and other times when things seem to be ok. and I seem to lose momentum/ some belief in salvation. I'm afraid this changing perspective makes me lose momentum, as the problem doesn't seem so unbearable.
My situation/dark night stuff doesn't seem to be as extreme as yours (although I don't feel it so much right now and will prob. disagree with that in a few hoursemoticon), but I don't think I have every wanted anything more badly then I want AF and that want doesn't ever really go away, no matter how much my perspective changes if that makes sense.
This makes me reaaaally want to aim for a PCE but I think it might be more productive to go for stream entry as a step towards AF instead, something that Nikolai also recommended that I do, so you're not alone with your advice. Just have to sit down and GO FOR IT. I put in the time but I think I also need to get over the pretty basic obstacle of doubting my practice/progress before I can actually make any!

Thanks for the sound advice and I hope to be where you are some day.
Good luck getting AF!
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 7:01 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 6:59 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
In my experience, it's not helpful to focus on the lack of affect in the PCE as a way to get there. Anything you can imagine is not what it's like, and the chances are that you've actually had them more often than you realize but, because they are not stored as an affective memory, the remembering of them in this way doesn't incline you towards it. If that makes sense?

What's more useful is to generate felicity as this is closer to the PCE than trying to cultivate less unpleasant affect is. By focusing on the unpleasant feelings of desire or doubt, you're really just feeding them more but, since "I" can be a tricky motherfucker and, even though you think you're trying to reduce these feelings, it just propagates more of itself or it's opposite. Emotions are dualistic, each contains its opposite and to suppress one is to emphasize the other so it's useful to be able to generate an emotion which is conducive to the required outcome. Neutrality of affect is the potential for either pleasant or unpleasant emotions to arise and so it's not very helpful either.


Focus on felicity rather than lack of affect. Yeh, that makes sense.

Tommy M:
Perceptually, what works for me isn't noticing obvious beauty or pleasantness but rather just paying attention to simple things like colour or shapes. Try looking at things in a childlike, innocent way, or imagine you're an alien landing on this planet for the first time and how it feels to see things, hear sounds, feel touch, smell and taste them for the first time ever. Do this with sincerity, playfully but honestly, enjoying and appreciating what it is to experience things as this body, as objects making contact with the sense doors.


I don't know if I read it somewhere before but I have tried the alien perspective thing before and it has worked for a few seconds for engaging interest. What you said about colors and shapes was also useful. When you don't look for obvious beauty or pleasentness, but instead notice things like colors and shapes in a naive way do you begin to feel more pleasentness/ appreciation of your surroundings, but in a more subtle way?

What you describe sounds a wee bit like a mahamudra-style thing which may explain the lack of striving happening, paying exclusive attention to one of the sense doors and looking for something in the way you describe brings about a similar effect when I do it here. That's a good technique to work with actually, check out this link for a really good talk by Kenneth Folk on Mahamudra.

I kept repeating this during my day, and when I was walking, and reminding myself to 'imagine' this emotionless state there would be seconds, very very brief moments, where I would catch glimpses of perfection.
This makes me wonder though, is this state that I am 'imagining' completely imagined or would it have to come from a memory of a PCE that I have, where I can't remember the incident precisely but the state is imprinted in my memory?
Also, is this practice what is meant when people talk about 'staying as close as they can to a PCE'?

I don't think that this is what's meant by "staying as close to the PCE" as possible. Remember what I said about the PCE being something you can't imagine? It literally is and so anything you can visualize or imagine is not it, those "glimpses of perfection" are more likely down to your desire to see something when you look in this way. It's not a criticism, I know what it's like 'cause I tried that too but what really works is simply paying attention to this immediate sensate experience as it happens. Trying to "get" a PCE doesn't seem very effective, although that's not to say that it can't be, so drop the expectations and preconceptions so that you can just pay attention to what's already there. The PCE reveals things as they are before "you" start labeling and trying to own things as "yours", anything "you" try to do does not bring "you" any closer to it.

Tommy M:
When you say "the state is imprinted in my memory", could you explain this a bit more please?

It's like this brief "state" felt very familiar, and accessible, although it was hard to maintain and I am not sure when I say that I got glimpses of perfection how this compares to the perfection of a PCE or AF. And it seems a bit of a memory now, but when I do it now its more just an 'okayness' that comes from not reacting/ being quite neutral, but it isn't a bland state.


Tommy M:
Advice? If you're aiming for AF, attention to the senses as constantly as possible while only dealing with the psychological/belief based stuff as the need arises. Don't go looking for trouble. emoticon


First time I tried this I tried to get through all my psychological stuff in one sit. emoticon Just ended up sitting there totally overwhelmed/ confused.

Tommy M:
If you're going for stream entry, noting, noting, noting, concentration, noting, noting, noting, concentration, noting...ad nauseum or until you land 1st path.

It might be worth focusing on one or other right now, rather than flitting between two rather different goals and thus giving yourself unnecessary work. Both have their benefits but it depends on what it is that you're looking for, although stream entry at the very least seems to be very useful before pursuing AF. Personal opinion, of course, and it's up to you. Either way, you'll get plenty of practical advice on here.

Peace.

Thanks again for the advice. You've given me a lot to mull over.
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 7:02 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 7:02 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Sorry about the awful layout of that post. Having some problems with the quoting.:/
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carolin varley, modified 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 7:08 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/13/11 7:08 PM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 55 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
Wow that is some really,really impressive progress. Do you think it was useful approaching this with beginners mind? Richard talks about how you NEED to be happy/ enjoy like to get AF, something that is difficult to do when in Dark Night. Just curios, did you go through dark night? Did you get stream entry and then start with AF?
Thanks for the support. I'm not terribly technical either. (stereotyping but mayb a feminine vs. masculine thing?)
Will take you up on the chat offer since I've got some more questions.emoticon
Reading your posts really inspired me to research AF and aim for the starts.
Thanks a lot.
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Steph , modified 10 Years ago at 11/14/11 4:00 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 11/14/11 3:14 AM

RE: Carolin's practice thread in the epic quest for stream entry

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Hey Carolin,

I didn't know much about AF until after stream entry. I started researching it a couple months after I got stream entry because people here started posting about it more regularly and it piqued my interest... and then started seriously practicing the actualism method in August 2010, dropping formal sit-down noting meditation for the most part. Yes, stream entry was very helpful for practicing actualism. As far as the insight method - I think anyone with some solid insight training (at least a path) can't technically strictly do actualism because the knowledges gained from path moments are permanent, so the things known from it are playing out on their own anyways. I can say for certain there have been many times that seemed very insighty even after switching to actualism, and it was sometimes hard to tell if I was cycling through Dark Night or drudging up stuff from examining the identity/beliefs. There still remains an intrinsic knowledge of the 3 Characteristics while going about daily life and paying attention to sensuousness. This has helped my progress along, regardless of method, in getting rid of the various filters of "self". Simply put, the less filters there are to see through, the easier it is to see what actually is.

Attention to impermanence can be especially helpful at more difficult times (or any time really), and so can hanging outside in a quite & scenic natural setting (also helpful any time). I would highly recommend going out in nature more. Have you ever wondered why people are so amazed by nature? One reason I think is because it's so complete, just as it is - this is what is meant by perfection.

Glad this is helping and inspiring! I got your PM, so I'll add you on Skype and hopefully talk with you soon.

Steph

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