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A recent experience
Answer
10/27/11 9:06 PM
Last night I had the following experience.

I was lying down in my room, relaxing into the breath as I tend to do in my spare time (I don't use entertainments except for social necessity). Without warning, my mind felt like it shut down and rebooted. The sensation reminded me of an old style CRT monitor turning off and then on again. I lost vision for the brief period too. Perhaps sound also, but it was quiet anyway.

Accompanying this, I noticed my mind's "hum" change frequency. I normally don't even realise there is a hum. The hum was suddenly brought into focus due to the difference in the mental background before and after the reboot feeling. Another way of saying is that I only noticed the difference because of the difference in the 'frequency' before and after. This felt like electrical hum (e.g. through un-earthed sound equipment) rather than some frequency or speed of thought. I can't notice this hum now, though I suspect it is there.

Lately I've been making progress in moment to moment daily awareness and meditation on two fronts - 1. I have been addressing latent torpor/laziness, and 2. I have been gently examining a large root of self-centredness/ego I discovered a couple of weeks back.

Today the self-centredness/ego streams seem more dampened than before, and my mind's forays into narrative thoughts seem much shorter and I return much more readily to the present/breath. I am feeling much more aware of my mental actions and re-actions to internal and external phenomena.

Of course, this is just today. I will remain mindful of whether my mental processes have become altered or whether it is just 'a good day'.

Thoughts? I guess I feel that this is meaningful (otherwise why post?) but I am not feeling particularly excited either.

Peace. :-)

RE: A recent experience
Answer
10/28/11 4:36 AM as a reply to Luke R Hope.
Sounds promising, but it could be a few different things.

What sort of practice have you been doing prior to this?

Great to hear that you're noticing such a difference so far, let us know how things pan out over the next few weeks and don't stop practicing. If you've gotten stream-entry, use this post-Path time to refine your practice and get some mastery of the jhanas etc, if not then it's no great shakes and you've gotten some real benefits from your practice already so continued practice will only improve your life even more!

RE: A recent experience
Answer
10/28/11 5:16 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hi Tommy,

Thanks for the reply. It does seem like a textbook experience and so it is strange reporting it - textbook experiences are textbook because they happen most regularly, but of course they are most likely to invoke confirmation bias. Still, what happened happened. :-)

I sit about half an hour a day, generally just focusing on the tactile feelings of the breath, occasionally noting, occasionally inspecting for the three marks. I work part time at home and so I focus on the present and on the breath when doing chores. Essentially whenever I'm not working at the computer or talking, I am trying to maintain presence, usually focusing on the breath. I probably do about 2 to 3 hours of that a day. I don't regularly surf the web or watch TV or listen to music or play video games.

My current meditation focus has been jhana practice, and I have reasonable control up through access concentration and occasionally into (what I think is) the jhanas. Lately I have been quite fatigued (sleepy) when meditating, but that has been quite interesting. I usually have a dull headache which I think diminishes or blocks the physical aspect of the jhana pleasure (the pleasant tactile sensation of the breath), and I have a tendency to slip into dream states in the second half of the sit.

The slipping into dream states has been a good thing, actually. I have developed the ability to identify the state, gently ground myself back into reality (remind myself "I am sitting on my cushion in my bedroom"), and re-focus on the breath. It has also very much internalized the idea of thoughts as just sense perceptions. A dream-state, or a remembering thought, or a future planning thought are just senses that arise and pass away - I am increasingly free of tendency to identify with them.

After my last post, I sat with candle flame meditation as a somewhat easier focus than the breath. I didn't get lost in thoughts, but lately I've had good control with that anyway. My experience the rest of the day and this morning has been of a mind inclined to the present. Previously I've had to work to bring my mind to the present when I remember it, but all yesterday and so far today (it is 7:30am here), it has just drawn itself naturally to the present. Or if I've had thoughts of the past or plans for the future, when they subside I just move without effort to the present, whether visual sensations or aural sensations or just the breath.

Peace. And I have no plans to stop the practice. emoticon

RE: A recent experience
Answer
11/1/11 4:19 AM as a reply to Luke R Hope.
This is a follow-up five full days after the experience outlined above.

There have been two striking differences in my day to day existence.

The first is the sheer ease with which I stay with the body through the breath. I really only lose my centredness in the breath when I am actively engaged in thought streams while working at the computer, talking with others, or remembering things. But it comes back just moments after these streams conclude.

My first waking thought in the morning is to focus on the breath, and it maintains consistency until I sleep, where I naturally lose focus and drift off. (But I haven't had any distinct moments of meditating while asleep.)

The second thing is an opening to awareness of breath energy and its relation to jhana. The chakra at the base of my spine feels very open - that is, I am aware of it most of the time. I discovered a large blockage in my shoulders which is where (I think) my body houses large portions of stress and subtle resistance/suffering. I've never really thought or talked in terms of energy flows before, but that is where my current understanding is.

My breath meditation (which happens almost all the time) now consists of guiding breath energy down from the spine-base through the soles of my feet, and extending up to my chest, shoulders and sometimes head. In-breath, up the body, out-breath down through the soles of my feet. Sometimes, when I focus on the breath through my shoulders, it feels like I am pouring warm, soothing water through them.

This energy movement starts as just relaxation and ease, but at least a couple of times it has extended to full-body bliss experiences lasting several minutes. These experiences are like waves of pleasure moving through the length of my body from the soles of my feet to the top of my head and then down again. This is much stronger than my previous idea of what jhana is. I used to think it was localised in the head area. I feel almost like I am cheating at life to be able to generate these feelings just with my mind.

Two of the bliss-experiences above were off the cushion - one seated on a couch and the other standing, looking out the window.

I'll continue the practice and see how things progress.

RE: A recent experience
Answer
11/4/11 9:11 PM as a reply to Luke R Hope.
Here is a summary of my current abilities and understanding. I was feeling a bit ecstatic over the weekend, and I have settled down. It does seem to me that I have settled in a different place.

1. I am much closer to the present than I used to be. It feels like my mind is on a much shorter leash than it was. Where I had to work previously to attain some level of mindfulness, I can now just reach out and take hold of it when I remember.

2. I have a more visceral sense of my breath, body and suffering. I feel breath energy and can direct the energy through my body to obtain refreshment and peace. This manifested as very strong jhana feelings last weekend. I haven't felt that intensity since, but let it come when it comes.

3. It is very clear to me how losing my presence/mindfulness by flowing out and identifying with things is a direct cause of suffering. It is an act of becoming that I feel as direct tension, usually in my shoulders or discomfort in my forehead. During work yesterday I completely lost mindfulness for periods of time and the tension became unbearable.

4. Fortunately, as I sat regaining equilibrium after (3) occurred, I discovered I could use breath energy to directly strengthen and sustain mindfulness. I do this by breathing the energy out through the centre of my forehead, which is where it feels like my mindfulness 'lives'. This creates a peaceful feedback loop which I am very desirous to practice and develop. I feel deeply and strongly that the Eightfold Path (through meditation and mindfulness throughout the day, all day) is the only path through this suffering.

5. I had the insight into how my brain creates thought impressions (planning, concept linking) and that these become mental formations such as imaginary scenarios where I talk through these ideas with others. I haven't been able to see the root of these mental formations before.

6. FWIW I can't detect any ill will or attachment to sensual desires.

I'm not sure I'll update this here any more. It is true, and perhaps timely, but I can't see how it is beneficial due to lack of replies.

Peace.