Is it Ok to continue daily practice without ever hitting the A&P?

Mitz U, modified 1 Year ago at 7/7/22 11:48 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/7/22 11:48 AM

Is it Ok to continue daily practice without ever hitting the A&P?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/5/22 Recent Posts
So i started meditating a few months ago. I hit the A&P, Dukkha Nanas about once or twice during the period where I was meditating about 4 hours a day.
In the past couple of months though, my practice has slackened to only meditating about 1.5 - 2.5 hours a day.

I have not hit the A&P in a couple of months! Am I still progressing? Is my meditation moving forward or is there no point in me meditating only 1.5 - 2.5 hours? I am a bit confused with how this works.

Am I only meditating enough to help me be more awake and less attached to ego/craving/aversion everyday? But not meditating enough for me to progress further into a deeper level of awakening? Should I up my game and meditate 4 hours daily again so I start going through the cycles again?
Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 7/8/22 1:24 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/7/22 7:43 PM

RE: Is it Ok to continue daily practice without ever hitting the A&P?

Posts: 1739 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
My opinion is that you should not judge your progress by what happens when you are doing formal sitting meditation.

You should judge your progress by what happens in daily life.

If the practice gives you more equanimity and or reduces the dukkha you experience in daily life, then you are on the right path. 

My view is that one should practice today for the benefits you get today. If you do that, the long term progress will take care of itself and you can let go of any attachment to attainments because they just create stress and are therefore counterproductive.

I don't think the progress of insight is that great of a system (I don't believe stages/cycles are true - at least not for me) - maybe that is just my unique situation - but there might be other people for whom it is not really that good either.

My (unconventional) views on awakening are explained here.
This perspective is not discussed much because it is not flashy, people don't have peak experiences that motivate them to write about them, but I think it is how the majority of people experience the phenomenon.  The link explains the justification for my opinions.
In my opinion A&P experiences are a side effect due to altered brain chemistry from a lot of meditation. I don't believe they are necessary to progress. You might have one as a beginner and then your brain might adapt and you won't have them as easily or as often. There are individual differences among people and some people will naturally be less prone to A&P than others. I really think you do not need ever have one A&P (or dark night etc) experience to be making good progress. 

I think equanimity in daily life is the best indicator of progress. And when you lose your equanimity that is the best learning experience, better than any sitting meditation. When you lose your equanimity examine how that happened, why that happened (attachment to self?), how do you get your equanimity back (relaxation=letting go of attachment). That is the practice (study of dependent origination and the three characteristics) that leads to good progress - in my opinion: how dukka arises, how it fades, impermanence of mental phenomena, seeing anatta in the fading of attachment to self. There is nothing mystical in any of this. It accrues incrementally and gradually. There are no stages or milestones or goal posts.
Pawel K, modified 1 Year ago at 7/8/22 2:16 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/8/22 2:16 PM

RE: Is it Ok to continue daily practice without ever hitting the A&P?

Posts: 1171 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
~2 hours a day is already a lot of meditation
Most likely its not amount of meditation that is the issue but amount of time spent with the kind of mind that is anti-meditation. It is entirely possible to use different minds during different life situations and have most of them completely disconnected from what is your mind during meditation. What I mean is that for example if you have a job it is very probable that during that time you do not really use the kind of mindfulness you practice during meditation. It does not necessarily mean you are not mindful in the frame of the situation you are in but just that ity might be its own thing with its own specific needs and while it might seem you are mindful of all the facts you need to be mindful about it has nothing to do with meditative mindfulness. In fact its having well optimized mind for given situation what might hinder meditation because you naturally behave in given ways, think about things related to what you need to do and do it in specific to given situation ways. That is in its own right ok but its also analogous to you doing that much time setting up your mind to be like this.

And its not only work. When we are around specific people, in given situations, mind is can just become automatic and since there doesn't seem like there is any issue with that there is not a lot of reason to change that. Then you do your 2 hours of meditation and its like 2h vs rest of the day hence no progress.

Solution here is to break once in a while and bring your meditative mind to the fron of all the situations you are in. When ar work stop whatever you are doing and empty your mind. When with people stop automatic responses and empty your mind, look around yourself, what is in your mind, where you are and who is it that you are actually interacting, etc.

I can assure you that if you give more attention to this 'outside meditation' part of your day it will move things forward. Quite a lot actually. Also if you just increase meditation time and even have some 'effects' but do not really stop to take a look how your mind works during normal parts of your life then any change you manage to do won't be that long lived.

And BTW. when you are meditating you should do the same. Stop 'meditating' and actually be midnful about what you do. If you go on auto-pilot for whole day in all situations and go to some kind mandatory "because it apparently will improve my life" activity like sitting meditation do not automatically assume that you are doing this activity correctly. The same processes which make up our automatic behavior during the day make sitting meditation completely automatic and this kind of meditation is completely not what is needed to bring up this elusive 'awakening'. Its not about efficiency in some process that you hone on cushion but bringing back ability of your mind to be actually awarem. Ability that we loose because we give in to life on auto-pilot.
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 7/8/22 6:25 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/8/22 6:24 PM

RE: Is it Ok to continue daily practice without ever hitting the A&P?

Posts: 856 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Excellent replies so far from Jim and Ni! 

Mitz, you may want to talk about what you want to achieve, how much time you have, etc., as that could help people give you even more targeted responses.

I can just say that people have achieved great things with fewer hours of daily practice, and that changes brought about by meditation are more often measured in years than months, which is not to say that some people don't achieve remarkable things in months, just that it is not the most common of the stories I hear.