Meditating on nada

John Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 2/21/22 8:43 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/21/22 8:43 AM

Meditating on nada

Posts: 9 Join Date: 2/21/22 Recent Posts
Hi,

I've a lot of free time and decided to try to reach jhana using nada sound. I made a thread here on DhO on nada here, but lost access to the account.

I started listening on 04/Feb/2022, to nada in the left ear, then switched to the right. I did 104 hours of meditation since then. My routine is to wake up, eat something, do some breathing exercises for 10min and then lay down / sit and listen, trying to maintain focus exclusively on the sound. I learned quite a bit about how my mind works, I'm posting this to review and compress my notes and get some perspective / advice on how to proceed.

Verbal noise is mostly gone since I started using the right nada as the object. There is little thinking and it's easy to wake up from it. Touch sensations are rare and easy to wake up from.

My mind is constantly switching between audio and visual modes. There are two visual modes, the usual BLACKness behind the eyelids and MOVIES. Here's what I noticed. Attention will stay in DEFAULT, bouncing between BLACK <-> NADA, then switch to MOVIES, then come back to bouncing in DEFAULT mode. Quality of my sits depend mostly on how quickly I wake up from MOVIES. I tried to be equanimous with the content that is presented, but it's too nasty and had to use active imagination and metta practice to distance myself from the trolling my mind is doing on me. Content is designed to trigger shame, guilt, fear, disgust and fight/flight reactions (lower chakras?). My first reaction was to force different content, but it didn't work, the same noise kept repeating. Here are some tricks I use to influence the emotional reaction to MOVIES:

- If there are is a person, visually copy it, so there are two identical people instead of one. It's weird enough the curious part takes over and I'm acutally interested in what is going to happen emoticon
- Make the objects that bother you very small,
- Imagine being defended by something unusual, like a giant squirrel. Again the weirdness factor triggers curiosity plus there is a sense of relief - wow, someone is protecting me
- Say thank you god for not having to deal with this in real life - I'm meditating in peace, and this is just visual BS. This triggers relief in me.
- Metta: imagine petting a dog, slow loris getting tickled, parrots on skate boards or anything that you feel have a positive charge to it. I literally feel a pleasant wave in my nerves when visualising petting a dog. This gets me out of fight/flight/freeze too.
- Checking what you can do in the visual world: can you walk on the walls, the ceiling, can you fly, what happens when you check your reflection in the mirror (I see a female, strange). I'm doing this when very bored and have an exploratory mood.
- Play tic-tac-toe visually (or checkers if you can manage to hold the board in memory, I can't). This quiets the visual jumping and can get me quite concentrated.
- Reinterpret whatever negative emotion that you feel as the Troll's emotion that is being sent to you. This has an interesting effect of: wow! I'm winning with the troll, it's great I'm experiencing negative emotion! It works for as long as I remember to hold the justification story.

My lizard brain doesn't know the difference between MOVIES and real life, so nasty pictures and stories trigger basic emotions on autopilot, which is problematic when your mind is a troll.

I notived noting has an interesting effects. The visual location that appear, change. When noting pleasant / unpleasant, meditations centers and meditation teachers appear. I suspect that the visual content is reflecting my emotional state, but this state changes too rarely to notice the transitory relationship. Unfortunately the defualt mode is so, that undesirable / unpleasant objects appear uninvited and mess with me.

I'm trying to figure out how to reward my mind for coming back to nada, so there is a positive feedback loop. Imagining something pleasant just distracts me.

I managed to fall into jhana on a Mahasi retreat, so maybe I should note first to gain momentum and increase the frequency and then start listening. 

What do you think? My goal is jhana, nada seems appealing beacause it worked for me before (once). Maybe switch objects, do more noting or explore the visual mode more, to learn to navigate and influence it?

Thanks.
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 2/21/22 7:28 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/21/22 7:28 PM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for posting that. You described things very well. I have some experience switching between black and movies, and, for me too, it's much like what you described, though my movies aren't as vivid as yours (I don't have a strong visual memory). 

There are several types of jhanas. I have a lot of experience with rupa (1-4) jhanas in the style described by Leigh Brasington in his book, Right Concentration. To get to these jhanas one first has to get temporarily free of the five hindrances of desire, aversion, restlessness, sleepiness, and doubt. To do this, one can train the attention on a single object. If that is the nada sound, then my approach would be to just drop the movies as soon as they start and go back to the sound. Don't engage with them. Likewise, drop the blackness as soon as it is recognized, and go back to the sound. It sounds like the movies bring up a lot of aversion and you deal with that skilfully, but if the goal is jhana, the mental maneuvers that deal with the aversion by way of inserting pleasant images will replace aversion with subtle desire. In fact, almost any mental maneuver involves desire. 

I use the breath and I limit my observations to the point in the breath cycle (in, out, stopped, starting, etc.) and the intensity of the sensation at the tip of the nose. When other things come up, including cool things (sensations, effects, states, energies) I drop them as soon as is possible and go back to the sensation at the tip of the nose. I have found that, the more ordinary, and matter-of-fact, and plain, and not-noteworthy the watching the sensation is, the stronger (harder) the jhanas that follow will be. 

I have used the nada sound to get into jhana. I found it a little bit harder because it is not cyclical, so it's a little harder to know in a matter-of-fact way whether I am on it or off it but the technique is the same. It's like when you are taking an exam, and the mind wanders, as soon as you realize that you are daydreaming, you get back to the exam without giving even a second of extra thought to the daydream. This is the function of sati (remembering; aka mindfulness). You remember that you were supposed to be listening to the nada sound and immediately do so. In my experience, it is not necessary to reward the mind. Simple repetition trains it. If you reward the mind, you are introducing desire. 

It also helps to know what you are looking for in terms of access concentration. Someone with jhana skills (I can't remember who) said of someone else with jhana skills: what he considers 4th jhana, I would not consider access concentration. It's true that there are many possible jumping-off points. If you can remember what happened just before you fell into jhana on retreat, you might make that your target. Likewise, if you know what the first moments of the jhana were like (excitement, bliss, pleasure, tingling, warmth, coolness, etc.) then you will be able to look for and amplify that when you are at access concentration. 
John Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 2:05 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/25/22 2:05 AM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 9 Join Date: 2/21/22 Recent Posts
Thank you Martin. I will try to focus on the tip of the nose and drop everything else as soon as possible. I will report back after few days of this.
John Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 4/4/22 12:57 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/4/22 12:57 PM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 9 Join Date: 2/21/22 Recent Posts
I'm constantly getting lost in content. Mostly visuals, narration and emotional reactions.

I figured out a new method. Every time I notice a distraction I invoke a touch sensation at the tip of the nose. This quiets the mind pretty well and is a kind of silent noting, so I think it's neat emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago at 4/5/22 4:16 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/5/22 4:16 AM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 6430 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
In my experience, at least for me, the nada sound can be used as a nimitta very effectively. However, you would then need to treat it as a nimitta, which means not focusing on it until it is strong and stable enough and merged with the focus object, which makes it a sign of deep concentration. I would start with the breath and stay with that until the breath has become the nada sound. 

Your mileage may vary, though. 
Martin, modified 2 Months ago at 4/5/22 10:23 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/5/22 10:23 AM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Sounds neat. When I was first getting into concentration, and not really working from any instructions, I found that the mind eventually quieted in longer sits. It's like it wore itself out. There is a classic simile of a wild animal tethered to a stake, which runs until stopped by the tether, again and again, until it eventually gives up and lies down quietly next to the stake. Because I had never heard of jhanas, and didn't know what looks for or what to do, I had to sit for as long as two hours to get to strongly concentrated states. My guess is that two hours is probably unnecessary for most people. How long are you sitting for concentration now? 
John Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 8:33 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 7:18 AM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 9 Join Date: 2/21/22 Recent Posts
Thank you Martin and Linda.

I noticed whenever I try to focus on the tip of my nose I involuntary tense my neck and arms muscles and get into a loop of wandering. I'm not seeing any improvement emoticon. It brings memories of learning to read with my father and being very stressed.

Any ideas how to deal with it? I think my "doing" is getting in a way of relaxing and being curious about the object.

I will try swtiching to different objects or a different method, like finding and staying with a pleasant sensation.

I'm curious about your thoughts about how to approach this.

EDIT: I just tried touch sensations in the nostrils and it's significantly better in terms of noise than the tip of the nose. Less verbal and visual noise. I noticed a repeatble effect while tryin new techniques: noise levels drop at the beginning and then raise after about 30mins. IDK why or how to deal with that. Pure touch sensations seem to be more suitable for me, I'm very visual.
Martin, modified 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 1:05 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 1:05 PM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
As far as I can figure out, the object of concentration is not important, as long as it meets two requirements: it should change a bit over time (ideally cyclically) and it should be easy both to find and to lose. The reason for both of these requirements is that they place a demand on the mind. The mind must actively work on tracking the object, or it will be lost, in which case the mind must return to that same place. This demand can quiet the mind because if the mind follows, for example, a thought, or a sound, the object will be lost and, at that moment, the mind is forced to abandon that distraction.

My guess is that anything that you can stay with in the same way would work. I would just avoid fabricated objects of the type that fall under the general heading of imagination. 

It certainly seems to me, however, that there are a wide variety of types of minds out there. The techniques and ever the theory I used might not be suited to you. The whole jhana thing might even not be your bag. People do awesome stuff with techniques other than concentration. One of my greatest regrets in terms of meditation was not poking around more. 
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 1:14 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 1:14 PM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 4418 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I agree - almost any object can be a meditation object. I believe sounds and touch are likely to be the most universally useful, especially to beginning meditators.
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 8:46 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 8:46 PM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Martin
One of my greatest regrets in terms of meditation was not poking around more. 

​​​​​​​There's no time like the present!
Martin, modified 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 11:43 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/26/22 11:43 PM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
These days, poking around is my theme.
George S, modified 2 Months ago at 4/27/22 10:09 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/27/22 8:20 AM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
That's what I thought, which is why I was suprised by the comment! Regret is an interesting emotion, implying choice. It seems to have more of a cognitive component, maybe there is a more basic underlying emotion ...
Martin, modified 2 Months ago at 4/27/22 3:13 PM
Created 2 Months ago at 4/27/22 3:13 PM

RE: Meditating on nada

Posts: 443 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Iteresting. Thanks!

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