Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Bobby D, modified 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 10:26 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 10:26 AM

Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 2 Join Date: 3/24/22 Recent Posts
Greetings DhO Peoples:

Before I get to my topic, allow me to do a quick intro and hello. I am certainly one of the least experienced here. Been sort of closely associated with the Buddhist stream since 1969, when my uncle married a lovely woman from Thailand named Mu (!!) and she taught me how to sit at the age of 5. Big fan of Alan Watts in the late 70s, did nearly a decade of study with a Thelemic teacher two degrees away from Uncle Aleister, then went to college as an adult and somehow ended up at a fairly prestigious liberal arts university where I met my first Gelug teacher, and Buddhism was part of my three-part major.

All very cool, right? But my practice was scant and spotty. Until I met my refuge guru and actually made the rubber meet the road - I took refuge within the Gelug Tibetan stream and began to grind that practice. Daily. Nightly. Without fail. However, as anyone who has read MCTB2 will know, the "mushroom factor" is in full effect in most Tibetan Buddhist orgs. Thankfully my teacher is the opposite of most "jet set dharma types" and entertains my questions about specific things that many teachers probably would not. Obviously, if one truly does the practices in MCTB2 with some force, things start to happen. Which lead me to actually doing some sessions with Kenneth Folk (wonderful) and also Daniel Ingram - I would like to thank him publically for putting up with me, and not just telling me "GO POST IT ON DhO AND ASK THEM!" :-)

Enough stories, here I am.

Since I am quite sure most of you have a lot more experience with access concentration than I do, I would like to relate my recent experiences with this.

Access concentration seemed to be something difficult for me, personally. I can totally relate to "dry insight practice". My stuff is like a desert, with tumbleweeds rolling by the parched earth.

However, I recently had a breakthrough with this, and I wanted to put it up to the group for comment/discussion/tips.

My breakthru did not happen ON THE CUSHION or during my practice. I was ANNOYED, sitting in a doctor's waiting room for an appoinment that ran late, and I was perturbed. Just sitting there, Kenneth's voice came into my head - "Am I being mindful? LET ME CHECK".

All of a sudden, it felt like I dropped into it, much like you would as a skateboarder dropping into a pool, or a surfer dropping into a good wave. I slid right into it, and it was pretty obvious to me that I had entered the state of access concentration. My object (which happened to be my knee at the time) became vivid, luminous, and STABLE. Everything finally STOPPED, and I felt like I was the still point of the moving world. It was "juicy" and did have a pleasurable feel, although i could also feel that this state requires a certain amount of effort/intention to maintain and was not the be-all and end-all of my practice by far. However, I can totally understand that if someone reached this state without good instruction or knowledge, it could be easy to think THIS IS IT and feel like one had hit the spiritual jackpot - and then turn into a spiritual crackpot.

All pretty good and sort of "by the book" in some ways. Except....

This state is something I used to drop into as a kid quite frequently. My parents somehow became lured into a fundamentalist baptist church thing back in NC in the 70s, and I had to endure hellfire and brimstone church services Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday evenings, revivals, vacation bible school, and more for years. I would zone out during these sermons and could put myself in this same state, by focusing on some object and just allowing the state to happen. I remember being able to "play" with this state, and also manipulate objects in some weird visual ways while in this state.

If I have a question, it might be - have I always been able to access this state, or am I just deluded?

Once again, I want to thank Daniel for his help with this - but I want to throw it out to the community and see what y'all think.

With gratitude to the DhO community,

BobbyD
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Chris M, modified 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 12:18 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 12:01 PM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 4611 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
If I have a question, it might be - have I always been able to access this state, or am I just deluded?

Hello, Bobby, and welcome to the DhO.

Before I comment I'd like more information. So... can you describe in more detail the falling into and then coming out of this state you found yourself getting into while sitting in the doctor's waiting room, staring at your knee? What was going on in your mind - what were the thoughts, if any? What was happening in your field of vision? I'm asking because I have access to a state that sounds like this but it's what I would call "my eyes got stuck." One more question - how do you know this is the same state you were getting onto when you were much younger?

(I bet you can hear Daniel asking these same sorts of questions.)

Thanks!

- Chris
Eric Abrahamsen, modified 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 1:47 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 1:47 PM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 28 Join Date: 6/9/21 Recent Posts
Bobby D:
If I have a question, it might be - have I always been able to access this state, or am I just deluded?


A very small contribution here: when I was younger (maybe my teens) I could get into weird states through periods of intent focus on something. This almost always happened when I was in class, not paying any attention at all to what the teacher was saying, but intensely focused on watching their face. I'd often slip into a state of deep concentration where my visuals went "off": I lost the sense of relative size of everything in my visual field. Meaning that I couldn't immediately tell if things were larger or smaller than other things, and their apparent size seemed to be determined by how much attention I was paying to them. I was usually annoyed when this happened, because it was disruptive and actually took a little while to get out of.

I just offer this to corroborate your note about having better concentration skills when we're younger! I wonder if there was just less going on in my head back then. I'm slowly working back to that level of concentration, but it's taking a while.

Thanks for the interesting post.
Bobby D, modified 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 4:11 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 4:11 PM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 2 Join Date: 3/24/22 Recent Posts
Thank you both for replying!

Chris M:



"Before I comment I'd like more information. So... can you describe in more detail the falling into and then coming out of this state you found yourself getting into while sitting in the doctor's waiting room, staring at your knee? What was going on in your mind - what were the thoughts, if any? What was happening in your field of vision? I'm asking because I have access to a state that sounds like this but it's what I would call "my eyes got stuck." One more question - how do you know this is the same state you were getting onto when you were much younger?

(I bet you can hear Daniel asking these same sorts of questions.)

Thanks!

- Chris"


Thanks Chris M. I have been lurking here for a couple of years, so I already kind of know a few of you. Your presence here is a very good one. Thank you :-)

Falling into this state was pretty quick. I had resigned myself to waiting, and was attempting to simply calm down and wait with some small sense of equanimity. I began staring at my knee, because it's usually in poor taste to sort of "eye-wander" around a medical office waiting room. It's hard to put into words, but as I was staring at my knee, it began to get more vivid and 3D looking. The best way I can describe it is the difference between standard definition video and full HD 1080p yada yada yada. All of a sudden, as I dropped into this state, it was luminous and high definition visually.

My mind sort of almost stopped. I found myself wanting to add content and "think" about it, but I resisted the urge and merely basked in it. It was like Palmolive, I was SOAKING IN IT (that reference might be a bit old for many). The state had a vague sort of "good" feeling to it, it was apparent to me but not overwhelming or anything. I did not "think" in my usual, discursive, content-centered way. I KNOW that's sorta vague, but it's the best I can manage. 

The state remained solid for minutes, and when my name was called for my appointment, I was reluctant to get up because I knew once I "broke" my concentration, the state would end and I would be back to "normal".

How do I know it was the same state? It felt, looked, and acted familiar. I can't say 100% for sure it's the exact same state, as I am a very different person than when I was 12. But I immediately remembered getting into states like this. I was a pretty weird kid, anyhow.

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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 4:46 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/25/22 4:46 PM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 938 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Hello D
It is quite simple.
As child you used mind state you learned from your mother.
Then you shifted to mind state that was more suited for young man like yourself.

The mind state that you called HD is using both hemispheres. You can tell who uses what mind mode when using this state just by looking at people. Somehow when not using it is not visible at all... might explain why half of the people do not know about it...

Anyways, did you do any practices for this mind state specifically?
It is possible to smell cooking programs on TV with it you know emoticon
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Chris M, modified 8 Months ago at 3/26/22 8:56 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/26/22 8:55 AM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 4611 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Bobby --

My mind sort of almost stopped. I found myself wanting to add content and "think" about it, but I resisted the urge and merely basked in it. It was like Palmolive, I was SOAKING IN IT (that reference might be a bit old for many). The state had a vague sort of "good" feeling to it, it was apparent to me but not overwhelming or anything. I did not "think" in my usual, discursive, content-centered way. I KNOW that's sorta vague, but it's the best I can manage. 

I've been in a similar state. For example, I was sitting on my front porch one night years ago, just soaking the experience in and staring at a tree on the parkway. Suddenly, the leaves of the tree took on an extraordinarily vivid, lucid, and detailed appearance. I got enamored of this and sat there locked onto this visual (basking in it) for quite some time happily thinking, "This is something, what I don't know, but it's really something." This happened a few times afterward, once in an even more pronounced way while staring at the burning fire pit in my backyard. I emailed Daniel to ask about it, and he said what I think is probably correct - A&P.

That's just a guess, and a wild-assed guess at that. These things are very hard to describe in words and my diagnosis, based on less than 50 words from you, could be way off the mark


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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago at 3/26/22 4:34 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/26/22 4:31 PM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 938 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
I wrote short instruction manual for my body which you might find useful if yours didn't came with such manual.

Unknown source
4. 4th nana A&P is the test stage of creative process - mind increases its dynamic learning rates and mocks a some of the intended functionalities according to specification - it does it to be able to test in real time viability of the ideas.

Important thing to note here: despite these mind states seemingly working at first they are nowhere near ready to be used. It is proof of concept and special markers are used during the tests to then construct something that is actually working.

5. When A&P ends and newly acquired powers start to wane and everything slows down and dissolves it is 5th nana - dissolution. In this nana we have important mission to do - mark all parts of mind which are part of newly constructed mind during previous nana. This is done by not having any action in the mind. We have to stop the mind but without doing any action. This is nonsense and that is the point, minds will start getting confused by the problem and will start to activate which will be felt as pressure. When done correctly there will be experience of pressure in the head, skin, whatever is connected to mind and this pressure will start to fill the mind. It doesn't a lot of time and when its done nothing feels it cannot stop itself because stopping would be action and everything is stopped. It is not stopping which is important but marking mind precisely so that it can undergo process of maintenance. Minds undergoing maintenance will be unresponsive in their bubbles. More on that later.

After successfully marking parts of mind we will get new mind that uses different neurons that the marked neurons. It might feel a bit unusual and at times even like it didn't knew what it was doing but it should feel good and be eager to learn. Be nice to it and you will do just fine.

6. This is more relevant when previous step has not been done correctly or at all. When not everything was marked at stage 5 or was marked incorrectly strange and unpleasant experiences may arise from minds which should be marked. Simplest solution to this issue is marking them...

Note:
It is possible to mark neurons for maintenance without using no-action action but it is less safe and more importantly less precise. I do not discourage using it but it is not golden fix for every issue.


I took liberty to translate some things eg. "speed of learning" to "learning rate" and cut out its explanation. Google knows what learning rate of neuron network is. My instruction was vague on how to fix issues caused by abusing this marking thing but I figured it out: open the bubble and mark mind which has to undergo maintenance this time correctly. By correctly I mean only parts which have issues and not everything at once... few times over.

ps. Bubble residue that I broke feelt gross. Had to scrub it from my mind completely because it was not giving up. No wonder they didn't even want to explain these things! Best not do stupid things and not have to fix that kind of issues!
ps2. I somehow found that mysterious golden fix that fixes all issues but it too came with note that it is useful and all but for specific issues one needs specific solutions and not use golden fixes for just about everything or I never learn...
George S, modified 8 Months ago at 3/26/22 5:28 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/26/22 5:28 PM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 2603 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It's interesting that this experience happened when you weren't practicing and became mindful of an emotion (anger). That might be a significant pointer for the direction of your practice ...
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago at 3/27/22 7:48 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/27/22 7:48 AM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 938 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Another tidbit of trivia related to visual perception


If you perceive something consciousness with the image arises. Next moment another image arises in another visual consciousness. It matters how and where these consciousness arise and so for example if moment to moment roughly the same area of brain is being used then one data from eyes will overwrite previous data. This will cause impression that when seeing we are continuously seeing the image anew even though it is the same thing. Ultimately tire neurons which create images and they will change to another neurons once sufficiently tired. Clinging to specific visual consciousness will cause dukkha.

One way to fix dukkha is to always use new part of brain, new neurons. Then the impression will be that we are always seeing image but its new image, we are new each moment.

Other than that however there is even better trick: instead of letting mind use the same parts of brain we always used new parts of brain and if instead of letting these neurons which processed image go to sleep we made their consciousness remain accessible but disable their affinity to be triggered by eyes to process visual data then what becomes possible is using multiple consciousness from multiple moments to create more detailed images.

Additional advantage of this method is that there is slight variability between various parts of brain when processing images and how light hit eyes and how they focus, etc. Even if processing visual perception moment to moment it will have very flackery appearance because of that and this flickering will be hard to correct. If however the method of aggregating multiple visual stimuli via consciousness which do not go to sleep is employed then any variability and possible errors in visual processing are corrected.

Additionally there is only so much visual stimuli that is needed for another consciousness arising and adding to this collection of consciousnesses from which we create visual image do not add any details. Mind can then conclude that this object has been fully processed and decrease amount of activity when processing this detail. This causes visual field solidifying with extremely high level of detail and the experience is very pleasant. Another advantage is that since we are always locking neurons from processing further visual stimuli they automatically cannot be used again thus avoiding information they processed to be overwritten and avoiding them to be triggered too much.

After given consciousness are not needed eg. the thing they showed is no longer in sight they can go to sleep. They are also automatically going to sleep after some time.

This method gives impression each moment part of the image is rendered, first major details and then little details pop in. Very quickly but this shimmering on new details happen. Then its all static.

Note: Until that trick of kinda solidifying sensations in to complex experiences is perfected there might be similar experiences but not quite cooked yet. It is always best to work on any method or mind state to make it work optimally. Especially when it holds promise but has some technical flaws.

Also in this case I personally used visual perception and optimized method with eyesight. It is easy to validate if what I am supposed to see is what there actually is see eg. by watching 27" 4K monitor from more than a meter away without scaling and being easily able to read text. Can easily get closer to check fine details and text itself usually makes sense or not. Not sure sitting meditation and learning it then for eyesight. I learn skills in eyes and then move it to meditation, not the other way around. That said I did often practice watching things I could not easily validate eg. ridiculously small tips of branches of far far away trees and would gaze at them with relaxed eyes until I consistently saw sharper image. It improves eyesight a lot. Also somehow trees always work for meditation practices... anyone else noticed that?
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Ni Nurta, modified 8 Months ago at 3/28/22 11:25 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 3/28/22 10:41 AM

RE: Access concentration and my glances into it - also, a hello!

Posts: 938 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
I analyzed the Palmolive state and must say I might have been somewhat mistaken as to its nature.
I recognized this state - hence I was able to experience it fairly easily - and had it on numerous occasions but believe it or not my usual methods did not include it. I did claim 4th path even without having direct knowledge of it (states like these tend to be forgotten when not experienced and when they are not mastered in a sense knowing exactly how to get them and just arise on occasion) and this is because I used different type of experiences instead which did have many similar effects. And/or different ways getting these experiences and some of the similar effects. Similar as in when describing them they would sound roughly the same.

To be slightly pseudo-scientific technically specific I would say that described experience (at least what arose when reading the post few times and then by cultivating the state which fits the description) is very much related to serotonin. Or it is driven by mostly serotonin. Whereas most of my methods and ways with which I enter and sustain meditative states seems to be based on dopamine. The way I know is because I at some point in time tried serotonin and dopamine precursors and so I can tell which experiences are related to which neurotransmitter fairly well. Palmolive experience seems to be serotonin, probably secretion of some endorphins with different qualities but certainly acting on serotonin a lot. I also did kinda develop this type of experience but somehow didn't hit the right level of palmoliveness in it and instead it was always mixed more with dopamine hence felt differently.

It is also less related to hemisphere synchronization than I initially imagined. I assumed it is it because mentioning of higher visual acuity and this is very related to hemispheres. I was in fairly synchronized hemisphere mode at the time I was reading it and certain effects seemed stronger in it and seemed to fade away when moving to single hemisphere mode. Also from experience properly synchronized hemispheres where no such effects like obvious switching of hemispheres happen (it happens mostly when mind is not driven correctly as a way to make neurons rest - and might not be as obvious when this two hemisphere mode is not well developed - hence a lot of people normally do not even realize their brain switches hemispheres!) allow for superior sensual perception thus assumption it is related. I still kinda assume this was part of the described experience but technically this Palmolive experience doesn't strictly need it and can be had from within left or right mind alone. Though I would need to do more testing. My typical mind state which I normally use has both hemispheres synchronized in kinda non-synchronized way, meaning they are not synchronized by any signals but are more like both master and slave at the same time and whole thing is event-driven rather than synchronizing them via specific consciousness which drives synchronization... hopefully the descriptions make at least some sense emoticon

Back to the Palmolive experience in question: I assume I got it right and if not then at least I got something out of the OP. For that I need to thank mr. B D for clear instruction (read: 'describe it as palmolive experience' emoticon). It seems like a very useful thing to be able to do in meditation. Also somehow seems obvious now that I know it. I ask myself how did I exactly went with my practice and developed ways I did practice not realizing I could do this instead?. Especially since I already know this experience, had it numerous times already and lots of these effects were part of large part of the year following my alleged 4th path experience 7 years ago. I guess too much dry insight and dry dopamine-driven jhanas is the most likely cause and my liking of dopamine driven experiences I shifted toward these kind of experiences instead emoticon

Anyways, the dopamine driven meditation I developed is similar but instead of "Palmolive" it is more like experiencing colorful (mostly reddish colors, like orange, golden colors, etc.) glow. Also makes this internal body appearance of being covered with vibrant glowing color aura and consciousness kinda have this aura also.. if that makes any sense. Any sizes of forms in mind are much much smaller than Palmolive state which makes everything including whole experience much larger. It seems to be also resopnsible for experiencing 'brilliant light' in my mind all the time. It also seems to be more taxing on neurons (or rather dopamine runs dry much quicker) thus more effort may be needed to correctly switch which parts of mind are used before experiencing crash-like symptoms. Otherwise it is for the most part the same thing when it comes to how it allows mind to stay focused and to focus and do jhanas. With correct brain management it can be sustained indefinitely and when it doesn't seem like there is much dopamine I'd just experience cessation of mind - literally barely run anything so most experiences are not experienced, until it feels like I can have glowy experiences again.

BTW. As for if it is A&P or access concentration...
A&P I would say not so much. I understand A&P as creative part of insight cycle where mind tries to create new configuration by allowing itself to construct in real-time changes necessary to experience whatever we want to experience, even if this includes mocking some faculties. Mocking is term from programming where you write empty functions which return intended data and not have full implementation. So for example we want to experience sensations in some specific way so mind will just make up this experience even if there is no such processing giving this kind of experience and whole thing is thus in some way fake. The intention for mind with this is to take all the ideas and try to make them in to new features. Hence after A&P all the constructed experiences are mostly gone but a lot of this stuff will come back, in different form later on eg. after fruition mind state has some of the intended qualities but actually working and doing something more than just be when we thought they would be experienced.

Anyways, described experience itself might be A&P but itself I would say not necessarily have to be related to A&P. Definitely not 'Palmolive' part of it. Maybe some aspects related how it is used by brain. I mean brain when encountering new thing it can do might get very creative very quickly and this would be A&P. But Palmolive experience itself I would imagine at people might experience at any nana and part of any experience. For example would fit AF's PCE experience. Definitely since it makes reality seems much more refined and 'beautiful' it would fit PCE perfectly.

As for access concentration - kinda fits in a sense that it itself (Palmolive experience) would fit definition of access concentration as it really seems to be perfect for meditation and especially Shamata but access concentration like I already suggested can be also something else. It doesn't have to be Palmolive experience necessarily. I was always able to concentrate really well even without single ounce of palmoliveness in my meditation by using dopamine driven access concentration... which kinda makes me wonder what people really use when they meditate. Like really, if there are at least two similar but so different 'access concentration' types then there are probably more. I will need to search memory for something I might forget. I know I totally forget this experience so who knows... Might be useful to check different types of such experiences which can be used in the same way and do some kind of excel table out of them with all sorts of qualities like how it feels, how to induce it, how it makes things feel, etc emoticon

I will refer to this experience as Palmolive experience whether I will want to point to it. Seems like the perfect name for it emoticon

BTW. This is why I love hanging out here on DhO
I sometimes feel I know everything about everything but I also know I do not know everything and so places like these where people give pointers is great. Also talking about stuff motivates me to practice and always tipple check that everything I myself write about actually works and this is great motivator to especially practice things which might be otherwise not even needed and with that keep my faculties sharp.

All this thinking about dopamine made me experience it instead of palmolive. Well oh well, gotta experience different bliss then. Probably best will be to switch these modes often as to avoid issues parts of brain are running out of given neurotransmitters. Something I will need to check. Also if really palmolive is as much serotonin driven as I currently assume.
It kinda seems related to 1st jhana but not quite. I can do 1st jhana without it and while 2nd jhana feels more related to this dopamine thing I use I seem to be able to have 2nd jhana with palmolive thing. I need to somehow fit it all in to my models. It is all about qualities and how they mix anyways so maybe trying to call these things using pali names doesn't make much sense.

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