First A&P after years of bad practice

Nick N, modified 4 Months ago at 1/31/22 8:08 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/31/22 8:08 PM

First A&P after years of bad practice

Posts: 9 Join Date: 1/27/22 Recent Posts
Hello!

I recently changed my practice quite a bit thanks to MCTBII and it's yielding results. For the past three years, I have been sitting zazen semi-regularly with much difficulty and not much in the way of progress, although I realize now it was laying some important groundwork. I started doing Mahasi-style noting after reading MTCBII which works much better for me than Zen teachings à la Suzuki Roshi, Dogen, and others. Sitting got much easier and more enjoyable, previous insights related to Mind & Body and Cause & Effect crystalized somewhat and I began to see a bit of what is actually going on. It was after a stressful conflict in my hometown that I had some solid emotional activity to observe and analyze, and at this point, I started to become very "in-the-moment" all throughout the day for several days in a row. This made me more excited and comfortable sitting, and once I read that 'noting' transitions at some point to 'noticing', I let go of the mental voice descriptions and my practice started to take off. I never sit for too long in any day, but over this week I went from twenty minutes a day to almost two hours a day towards the peak. It was during a longer sit (for me) that I transitioned from my normal, effortful noticing into an odd territory where my eyes fluttered, my vision blurred and refocused, and I worried that I was falling asleep. My memory fails around this part. But I emerged into a very stable state with a quiet mind and I could easily and fluidly watch my attention move between physical sensations, mental phenomena, etc. I knew I had hit some new mental territory and tried to keep calm to avoid scaring it off but even noticing my amazement and enthusiasm didn't change the effect. I sat for a while just enjoying the stability and after getting up I was surprised to notice that I remained in that state as I went about the rest of my day. Driving around, talking to people, I just felt an overwhelming feeling of joy and immediacy and vitality in the world. I had a short conversation with a neighbor and I felt an outpouring of love towards her the whole time. I noticed my grasping thoughts about wanting to maintain this afterglow and let them go effortlessly. The experience matched closely Daniel Ingram's description about mental phenomena shrinking and taking their appropriate proportions related to other inputs. It did eventually wear off.
The next day I was still alert and excited so made plans to sit longer. I got back into that same stable state through the same odd territory and although I didn't get euphoric this time, I certainly enjoyed the stability. Thinking I might be in A&P territory, I anticipated some visual quirks and perhaps I primed the pump this time but while looking at a colorful blanket in front of me, I could comfortably watch it transition into a black/white very stark, very intense version of the image back gently to the original repeatedly again and again. After finishing my sit this time I witnessed the afterglow again for a while and had that moment of thinking 'wow, is this what enlightenment is?' because everything was so immediate and forceful and I could barely detect my mental voice at all. This time when the afterglow wore off, I felt deflated and somewhat depressed. The days since have been more boring than anything and it's harder to pull myself into just a baseline 'aware' mindset. Before and during the A&P stuff, I was convinced that I had permanently changed my brain to a degree and was content with that, but now I feel like my regular self again. It's a little disappointing, and I feel like I missed out on a lot of the interesting kundalini/energy tornado/jhanic stuff. Reading about Dark Night and these stages of insight practice helps me feel confident that there's still plenty to observe in this period but I'm feeling disheartened and let down (which, of course, I'm taking the time to note diligently).
Anyway, I appreciate the logs and descriptions that I read on here and figured that I would make my own small, amateur contribution. It's nice to feel like I'm finally on a more concrete path. I'm currently trying to improve my practice discipline and insight clarity to prepare for a solo retreat and then hopefully a week-long vipassana retreat this summer in California. I'd love to hear any thoughts about this progress!

​​​​​​​Cheers.
George S, modified 4 Months ago at 1/31/22 8:46 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/31/22 8:46 PM

RE: First A&P after years of bad practice

Posts: 2456 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 4 Months ago at 2/1/22 5:48 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/1/22 2:11 AM

RE: First A&P after years of bad practice

Posts: 384 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Hey Nick,

Sounds as if you are getting a good practice going! Congratulations! What you describe also sounds like A&P to me (but take it with a grain of salt, since I am far from an expert yogi). Luckily, no matter where you are on the map, I think this simple advice applies: Patience and consistency is key! Keep going, pratice every day at a nice and easy pace, since this is a long journey.

Since you have read MCTBII, you might also like this compilation of Daniel Ingram's Dharma Overground posts.

And further, I highly recommend this compilation of shargrol's Dharma Overground posts which contains heaps of great advice for everyone on this path.

All the best,
Niels
Nick N, modified 4 Months ago at 2/2/22 5:38 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/2/22 5:38 PM

RE: First A&P after years of bad practice

Posts: 9 Join Date: 1/27/22 Recent Posts
Thanks!
Nick N, modified 4 Months ago at 2/2/22 5:39 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/2/22 5:39 PM

RE: First A&P after years of bad practice

Posts: 9 Join Date: 1/27/22 Recent Posts
Thanks for your comment. I checked out and am really enjoying shargrol's posts, they're very approchable and down-to-earth.

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