Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

Martin, modified 10 Months ago at 2/9/22 9:18 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/9/22 9:18 PM

Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

Posts: 498 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I wonder if anyone has experience with the following problem. 

Taking a page from Angelo Dilullo, I have been working with direct inquiry along the lines of "who is experiencing this?" "what wants that?" "how do I know that?". I do this both after exiting fourth jhana in my morning sit and in reclining sessions in the evening. After asking the question I stay in the space between thoughts and pay active attention. This has been engaging and, as a by-product, has produced a number of conceptual insights into my incorrect assumptions about how the mind works (the assumptions do not line up with observations). So far so good.

The problem is that, for the past week, when I pose a question, instead of a though-free space, I get a blast of energetics. The lights go up, I get tremors or jerks and muscle contraction, generally followed by a blissful or equanimous space. This is all very well and good, and not all that uncommon in my practice in general, but (I think) it messes with the inquiry. I am bounced off into a samatha state. It feels like it might be a defense mechanism. This also happens when I start with inquiry, without preliminary concentration. I can prevent it by internally voicing "no energetics" before or after the question, but this entails conceptual activity that seems to encourage thoughts and is not a very receptive stance. 

Has anyone worked with this kind of thing? If so, do you have any thoughts on how to avoid it or whether I should, perhaps, just roll with it?
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago at 2/10/22 6:25 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/10/22 6:25 AM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Martin, modified 10 Months ago at 2/10/22 2:10 PM
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RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Hi Shargrol,

Thanks for asking. Yes, very much so. I have read MCTB and Mahasi's Progress of Insight and I have been reading and posting here for about 18 months. I am a bit more than two years out from a pretty massive something-or-another which checks all the boxes for A&P and then some but which continued for about eight months (which strikes me as longer than most people report). I have a teacher who I see once every couple of months who estimates that I may be "stuck" in equanimity. For my own part, I must say, that I cannot see a clear one-to-one correspondence between the stages as described and my own experience. I could shoe-horn my experience into the map but I don't know how helpful that is. 

My current practice is half an hour of jhanas followed by half an hour of investigation (or recently inquiry) in the mornings and half an hour to an hour of investigation in the evening. 
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago at 2/10/22 5:01 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/10/22 4:56 PM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Martin
For my own part, I must say, that I cannot see a clear one-to-one correspondence between the stages as described and my own experience. I could shoe-horn my experience into the map but I don't know how helpful that is. 
Yeah, no need to shoe-horn experience into a map.

In general, a good model to assume is that each time you start a sit, you start with mind and body. From there you go up and down based on a blend of you intention/effort and just the mind's own trajectory. It might be that the first few nanas go quickly and you eventually simply hangout in EQ... but that's somewhat rare. Its also very common for a meditator to go up and down a few times during an hour sit. So anyway, short story is you might just be re-encountering A&P type stuff.

There's often a "going back to previous nanas" phase that can happen, sort of a cleaning-up phase. Here's a reddit post about it: https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/lmlcxu/housecleaning_phase_of_progress_of_insight/

Ultimately, let the energetics happen -- no big deal -- and then resume inquiry when it's over. The body/mind will sometimes do things like that.
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Dustin, modified 10 Months ago at 2/10/22 9:43 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/10/22 9:43 PM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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I had some energetic stuff kind of like that before. I would be driving/ riding in a car looking out the window or walking outside and see the wide open space of the sky and clouds and get taken over by what called a head hit of energy. It was like I would see spaciousness and all the sudden all the energy in my body would rush to my head and take me off into a samatha/ blissy concentration state like you said. I could also just sit or lie down to practice and it would take over automaticly or I could be standing around and take an in breath and call the energy up. I was doing noting practice but wouldnt be able to note because it seemed just to take over. It went away after a while. I never got any lights or anything. There was plenty of bliss and space for sure. I always just road it out until it would get calm and then start practicing. 
Adi Vader, modified 10 Months ago at 2/11/22 12:51 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/11/22 12:51 AM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Hi

In my practice I experienced a lot of head pressure and very coarse priti / piti on as well as off the cushion. For me it turned out to be an imbalance between attention and awareness. Please take a look at this reddit post and see if it makes sense to you:

https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/ekrscz/samatha_practices_to_balance_attention_and/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
Martin, modified 10 Months ago at 2/11/22 4:54 PM
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RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Thank you, Shargrol! That is really interesting. I never considered such a short-term version of the nanas. I love the simile of the rag. Certainly, I cannot say that I am at the point where I go through the house and the rag is still clean.
Martin, modified 10 Months ago at 2/11/22 4:56 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/11/22 4:56 PM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Thanks, Dustin. That sounds like me, alright. Gald to know other people get it too.
Martin, modified 10 Months ago at 2/11/22 5:04 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 2/11/22 4:58 PM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Adi, this is fantastic. Thank you! I think this is exactly what is going on. I never really thought about the balance before. I feel like I am pretty good at both but my habit is to do one or the other. I am looking forward to heading out to the tennis court with a basket of balls tonight!
Martin, modified 9 Months ago at 2/21/22 3:12 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 2/21/22 3:12 PM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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To follow up, I did the exercises you suggested Adi, and soon got the hang of it. It works exceptionally well in practice. At first I was noticing the onset of piti and broadening the awareness by looking at body contact points and found that lessened the explosion to more of a sort of blissful blossoming. I am now getting better at noticing the excess attention building up earlier and much of the time I am able to keep the mind steady while doing the inquiry practice. 

It's still curious how the inquiry itself seems to initiate this imbalance. I wondered whether it might be the case that any form of inquiry would do it, so I tried asking other questions that I did not know the answer to, like "what is the best kind of sandwich?" but the piti-surge response did not occur.
Adi Vader, modified 9 Months ago at 2/21/22 6:25 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 2/21/22 6:25 PM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Hi Martin

Its good to know that the technique worked for you.

In my practice any and every object through any sense door which is dominant and calls for attention was my object of meditation while doing vipashyana (apart from chosen objects for shamatha). So the imbalance would occur across all kinds of objects. I would be walking around a park and take an additional amount of interest in a park bench on which I would want to sit, look at it, it would turn into the one object of interest coming in through the sense door of sight and attention would congeal around it and there would be a burst of priti. I would be listening to someone speak in a meeting and there would be a burst of priti ... it was strange.

It is possible that due to your practice style, in doing a lot of inquiry, you have trained the mind to take the sensations associated with the sense of self in any given moment as your object and in doing so have taught the mind to disregard other objects. So due to training the imbalance comes about only with regards to the sense of self. This is why you don't experience a burst of priti when you pay attention to other stuff. It is also possible that folks who do a lot of self inquiry then get this head pressure and priti bursts in extreme doses even off the cushion, since as they go about their day the mind keeps taking the sense of self as an object - releasing it, taking it again .. and so on. So a contextual imbalance but the context continues through out the day even outside of meditation.

But frankly speaking I am just speculating.

Generally in my understanding observation has to move to a mode where there is attention yes, but there is also very sensitive and powerful awareness, and metacognitive introspective awareness.

What we call insights are really metacognitive memories. We create experiences and metacognitively we know and we 'remember' in the moment and perpetually there after what precisely we observed metacognitively. We experience joy and we know why we experienced it, we remember why we experienced it. We experience fear and we know why we experienced it, we remember why we experienced it. The context in which an event occurs is more important than the event. The context is the insight, the event is required but it is ... just .... an event.

​​​​​​​Good luck with your practice.
Martin, modified 9 Months ago at 2/22/22 1:10 PM
Created 9 Months ago at 2/22/22 1:10 PM

RE: Energetic stuff disrupting inquiry

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Thanks, Adi. That's helpful. Many of your posts are helpful to me, including the ones directed to other people. So thank you for those, as well.<br /><br />