Reassurance and / or guidance please!

Areeya M, modified 5 Months ago at 4/11/23 11:47 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/11/23 11:20 AM

Reassurance and / or guidance please!

Posts: 6 Join Date: 4/11/23 Recent Posts
Hi everyone, I've just joined and this is my first post (it's kinda long, sorry about that!), so please go easy on me. I'm very happy to be here, many of you here seem so knowledgeable! Whilst I have been meditating a while (about 10yrs, mainly a few retreats on and off, not much of a formal daily practice but I am aware of my sensate reality a lot of the time) and vaguely consider myself a Buddhist, I'm not massively au fait with some of the langauge, theory and practices etc in the way that many of you seem to be. I have dipped in and out of Daniel's book which has been invaluable at times (if you ever read this, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!! Your book has kept me on the right side of sane, I think and hope, more than once). I've joined because I've had some rather profound experiences which both amaze and frighten me so I was hoping for some reassurance that I'm on the right path and if not what I could do differently!

I should probably give some context. I did my first meditation retreat back in 2012 in India. I walked into a Goenka Vipassana retreat cold having never (knowingly) meditated before, and knowing nothing at all about Buddhist teachings. It was a very powerful experience for me as I was able to get very concentrated very quickly, and was deep into (what I now know to be) Jhana and Vipassana territory without knowing anything about it. I used to observe sensations at a very subtle level every night lying in bed as a child and (I realised much later!) also experienced Jhanic states and Vipassana / investigative territory then so maybe that is why. It totally undid me and I couldn't work for about 10 months. I do however consider it to be the best thing that ever happened to me!

That was the start of what has often been an exhilarating, and at other times rather frightening and somewhat choiceless process of awakening, and I have often found myself resisting it rather than allowing it. I felt compelled to go on numerous retreats in the following years, and things seemed to progress quite quickly, despite me still not really understanding what was happening or what I was supposed to be "doing" when I was "down there". I've never had a proper teacher (except once in Thailand) and as the people I asked often couldn't help me with what I was experiencing I've never really asked many questions. All I kept doing was be present, observe, develop ever subtler awareness of my sensate reality, develop equanimity and let go of everything as best as I could. I realised early on how limited my thinking / rational mind was and how extraordinary all these experiences were I was having that I could never have imagined or dreamed of, so I found it quite easy to trust that I basically knew nothing and could let go and watch the show unfold. I've never really "looked for" anything or any experience in particular apart from investigating what is going on right now at a very subtle level, and have never really tried to create or re-create experiences. I didn't realise it for a long time, but I think now that this is maybe why it seemed to be unfolding so quickly, sometimes alarmingly so. 

One of the most seminal experiences I had was on a 25 day solitary retreat in Thailand (about 5 years ago) where I was practicing with a very serious Irish Thai Forrest monk. It was a very "eventful" retreat with lots of energetic fireworks, orgasmic releases, near levitations etc. But once all that settled down the most profound experience was this moment when the "I" doing the observing spontaneously flipped or inverted or something (tbh it felt like it suddenly merged with the object) and I was left with simply experience, and nothing to experience. It felt like quite a small insignificant moment in a way but what followed was about 24hrs of one huge insight after the next about impermanence and the dellusion and suffering caused by clinging onto things (at every level of being), it was rather extraordinary. I once described this experience to a very senior and cultivated Thai Forrest Monk in the UK some years later on a retreat. He told me what I had experienced was Nibidda, a turning away from mundane experience. Is that Digust? All I know is that it changed the structure of how my mind worked permanently.

I then took a break from practicing for a few years, I needed time to integrate and sort my "mundane" life out.. Having a bit more space again now, this February '23 I decided to go back to a Goenka retreat to just go back to basics, but once again things progressed quite quickly. I couldn't help but investigate even though that wasn't the instruction! I got to a stage where I was observing the very rapid arising and passing of the "I" in my mind, which was rising to meet and experience other sensations (sounds, bodily sensations etc). At some point I realised that the sensations could arise and pass without this "I" needing to meet or experience them all - so what was happening could just happen, without it happening "to me" as it were. "I" didn't need to "hold it all together" anymore. My mind started to shake and at times it felt like my whole being was shuddering. It was rather frightening actually, and I could tell I just needed to surrender and let go of everything but didn't dare so desperately clung on. I was afraid of losing my mind. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to think anymore. I was most afraid that I would no longer be able to work again (that hasn't turned out to be the case thankfully, quite the contrary in fact). 

There came a point where I had no choice but to allow it to happen, it was so strong it was physically pulling me backwards. When I finally let go, it felt like I was sucked into a black hole where there were no sensations, everything went dark, silent and my body (everything!) disappeared, there seemed to be two or three clicks or flashes (white or red lights maybe? I could be wrong here) and then all sensations faded back into awareness only much stronger, louder and more vivid. It was like I'd been sucked in, quickly restructured and then spat back out again. It was like when you force quit your laptop and everything suddenly shuts down, only to immediately power back up again with processes coming back online more clearly. When I "resurfaced", that little "I" object / mind process was gone, with sensations simply arising and passing of their own accord rather than these things "happening to me" as it were. My overwhelming experience was this very profound insight into the sheer enormity of the delusion created by this simple little quirk of the mind, it was absolutely staggering. I spent days just being utterly staggered and repeating "omg it's MASSIVE" too myself. I also remember walking in the forest later that day, and just having this sense that there was nothing to hold onto any longer, and that everything was disintegrating and that it was relentless. Everything was so vivid. Whilst it was totally amazing, but I also had a bit of a panic, which thankfully passed relatively quickly. This all happened on day 4 of the retreat.

Over the next few days I started working with my equanimity. Goenka talks about it all the time so I decided to investigate it as I could tell that I was still experiencing sensations as pleasant and unpleasant. I saw at a subtle level that what I had actually been developing was non-reaction, so essentially indifference to pleasant sensations and the ability to endure unpleasant sensations for long periods of time (even with an inner smile!), rather than true equanimity which I thought must occur one step prior to non-reaction, so non-judgement of the sensations. I decided to turn my attention away from the sensations and towards that part of my mind which was "doing the judging" of the sensations in the first place. It's all very subtle and there was more this sense that there was something over here that was judging something over there - I think I read something about this in Daniel's book and I could really relate to that description. As soon as I observed the judging part of my mind (I affectionately nicknamed it "The Great Adjudictor") everything seemed to dissolve and this extraordinary sense of peace washed over me (what I'd imagine might be true equanimity), and my body would sort of slump forward involuntarily. I also had some very profound insights around how this process is what allows us to feel hurt by and also to hurt others, and I wept at all the suffering I had experienced and I had caused others. I felt compelled to ask for forgiveness from everyone, and to forgive everyone for everything they had ever done to me, including myself! It was rather lovely and very moving. When that part of my mind also started shaking and shuddering however, I got a bit scared again, and I resisted being in the present for a couple of days until the end of the retreat. I'd had enough by this stage! I needed to regroup and integrate. I felt a lot of physical discomfort and pressure in my head at that point and for the rest of the retreat, I think as a result of my own resistance. But I was done!

I guess the upshot of what has happened since the retreat is that I am experiencing this sense of utterly unshakable peace. Peace that seems to exist due to the complete absence of anything to shake, rather than the more fragile sort of peace that has been cultivated and is vulnerable to being shaken and needs tobe shielded and protected. It's rather wonderful and extraordinary. What happened has changed the way my mind works, similar to the way the so called Nibidda event did, but in a different way. It also however brings with it a slight sense of detachment and loss at times, and I struggled with that the second week after I left the retreat and felt quite low and sad for a day or two, although that has passed for now. It has changed the way I experience things, including emotions, and the way I think about things, and how I access knowledge which can be a bit disorientating. I don't seem to take anything personally anymore. Often it feels like my mind is completely empty which is both nice and can be a little unsettling as I have to trust that what I need to know will surface as and when I need it to - it seems to be doing for the time being, so that's good! I also still have moments of insight, as it feels like more and more layers and depths of this "undoing" reveal themselves over time. And I still seem to be in this process where I feel like I'm being pulled towards something (is this the cycling that people talk about?). I sometimes feel that background shuddering and the pressure in my head. And I sometimes feel like I experience a milder version of that shutting down of my mind again. That is actually quite pleasant as it feels a bit like a temporary release from this force or pressure. This can happen when I gently meditate, when I'm lying in bed or even occasionally as I go about my daily life which is a little more alarming and disorientating. 

I am booked into another 7-day retreat in 2 weeks time with a senior Thai Forest monk. I'm nervous about what might happen and feel a bit apprehensive about it. It all feels a bit relentless and can feel a bit out of control! The minute I am fully present and observe my sensate reality weird stuff like that happens and whilst it's extraordinary I can also find it all rather frightening at times. Where, when and how does all this end?!

Does that "judging" process of the mind get undone at some point? If so what's that like? Can you still enjoy things? Can you still have preferences or does everything seem the same suddenly? I've had a small taste of how peaceful that could be, but is it feasible to operate in daily life when feeling that peaceful?! Am I even barking up the right tree here?

I'd be grateful for any answers to any of my questions, or reassurance before I head into this next retreat, any pitfalls to look out for, where to focus my awareness. Or if you think this is all too much too soon whether I should cancel the retreat?

With endless gratitude for any guidance.
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago at 4/11/23 7:42 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/11/23 7:42 PM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

Posts: 2123 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
The enlighted you really isn't that different than the current you. You'll still have the same personalities and preferences. You probably won't be so "ridgidly defined" by these preferences, but if you like chocolate more than vanilla now, you'll probably like chocolate more than vanilla in the future, too. If you have a trade/profession, you won't forget how to do it.

The things that tend to drop away are the things that were being done just for drama or excitement, not for their intrinsic value. Drama and excitement happen naturally in life and that's fine. But the desparate seeking of it is something different. The more you see through your old seeking habits, the more you realize just how exhausting drama and excitement is... and it just isn't worth it anymore. Judging fits into the same thing. Judging for judging sake is revealed to be... exhausting. And so, sure, there will still be occasional judging, but the habit of it is just no longer that appealing.

A lot of the path can feel like being out of control... totally normal. But it's also really common that we're kind of unconsciously _seeking_ that feeling of being out of control because it feels like progress. As practice matures, be on the look out for the desire for things to be dramatic, exciting, mind-blowing... because that is the spiritualized version of craving. The middle phase of practice is mostly about realizing how a lot of our spiritual dramas and excitement is... exhausting, and just isn't worth it anymore. Big things happen in practice and on retreat, but they also end at some point, and when they end, they end. Very simple if you can just let things happen and let them go when they stop.

Eventually there is a kind of basic sanity that dominates both practice and life. It all sort of works out, as long as you don't become spiritually ambitious. Spiritual practice is and should be mostly humbling, so be wary of feelings like "if I keep doing this practice I'm going to be amazing!!!" because that's probably feeding your superficial ego. Look for practices that promote a kind of radical normalness, basic sanity, basic resilency. For example, a retreat where nothing much happened, but where you were intimate with the present moment day after day would be a fantastic retreat. No one would want to read about it, but the simple experience of being on sustained retreat is wonderful in itself. So simple, so direct, so intimate. 

Real life isn't always calm and peaceful on the surface, but practice can give you the basic sanity to be in the midst of craziness and not be crazy. It just takes practice and time.

I guess the question/suggestion I have for your retreat is, what kind of frame or structure are you going to use for practice? What meditations will you be doing? How will you organize your day? What aspect of cultivation will you be working on? How will you assess progress?
Adi Vader, modified 5 Months ago at 4/11/23 11:09 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/11/23 11:09 PM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

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Q1. Where, when and how does all this end?!

The path of progress can be talked about in various ways. One particular way to talk about it is that we have baked within our minds certain assumptions. T

1. Something within my conscious experience is reliable
2. Something within my consicous experience can be relied upon to give me pleasure
3. Something within my consicious experience is 'me' .. 'I' am it, it belongs to me, I belong to it, It defines me, I define it

These assumptions are atavastic, they are preverbal and preconceptual. The end happens when these assumptions are challenged enough number of times and then they are eliminated, cleaned. This cleaning is done by the practice, we can only facilitate the process by learning how to practice and doing it, so that it gets done.

Against each assumption there are distinct drives that lead us to experience our lives in particular ways:

1. Reliability

a. Must seek an identity and hang on to it for dear life
b. Must keep scanning conscious experience for problems - real or imagined - and keep trying to solve them
c. Must engage in behaviour, views, atttitudes, actions that give a sense of familiarity and safety

2. The pursuit of pleasure

a. Must seek positive experiences and try and intensify them
b. Must avoid negative experiences and try and eliminate them

3. Ownership of conscious experience appropriation of its constituents

a. Must find meaning in the concrete
b. Must find meaning in the abstract
c. Must keep moving to find meaning
d. Must form a stance of comparison against elements in conscious experience - less than/equal to/greater than
e. Must reject anything that challenges the above imperatives

The path ends once all of these 'must' urbations are abandoned. the mind doesnt fuel them anymore, they wither away and die.

Q2. If so what's that like?

It feels as if a huge burden is off one's head

Q3. Can you still enjoy things? Can you still have preferences or does everything seem the same suddenly?

Yes one can still enjoy things, one still has a preference for guiding one's path through life towards the enjoyable and navigating away from the painful. But for the first time it feels as if one is making simple, rational choices. One never feels Fear, Misery, Disgust, Desperation to be anywhere other than here. Affect / the heart goes back into the chest cavity and beats softly doing its job rather than jumping into the job of the intellect.

Q4.  is it feasible to operate in daily life when feeling that peaceful?

A lot of our learnt behaviour, socially speaking comes from fear. The fear of failure, the fear of being seen as a loser, the fear of ... what will happen to me if I don't succeed? We have to learn newer behaviours. To base those behaviours primarily on the following positions:

1. I will be a friend to myself (and others to the extent reasonable)
2. I will actively help myself (and others to the extent reasonable)
3. I will celebrate my victories and finnd happiness in my success (and others's to the extent reasonable)
4. I will always remember that no matter what I wish for myself (and others too by the way) the outcomes I get in my life are conditioned by many factors that go beyond my wishes

From being driven by afflictive emotions we learn to be guided by reasonable attitudes towards self and others. while doing this we always remember that our scope of influence, power and control is a locus where we ourselves - this fathom long body - sits in the very epicentre and the strength of influence drops sharply in a gradient going from self to family to friends to acquaintances to neighbourhood to .... the world at large .... onwards to all sentient beings. Rationality is going to be always accesible we train ourselves to operate from rationality rather than from afflictive emotions (because afflictive emotions will be absent)

​​​​​​​This answers your questions Srotapanna. 
Areeya M, modified 5 Months ago at 4/12/23 4:09 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/12/23 4:09 PM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

Posts: 6 Join Date: 4/11/23 Recent Posts
And Adi Vader - thank you too for your comprehensive response, I really appreciate the time you have taken and the wisdom you have shared.

I think from your descriptions it's the "Reliability" that I'm most attached to, I can definitely identify with those. A, B and C actually- so all three! The "Pursuit of Pleasure" and "Ownership of conscious experience appropriation of its constituents" are probably less strong for me although no doubt also still present at a subtler level. I look forward to the burden lifting if I can overcome the fear in the moment and allow it to happen, if and when it ever does. I can honestly feel how exhausting it is, and I can now sense into the relief of its undoing. 

"The heart goes back into the chest cavity and beats softly doing its job rather than jumping into the job of the intellect" - I love how you have written this. I'm so aware when I jump around like that and lose my centre and I'm so tired of it! I'm very lucky to be in a job (acupuncturist) which requires me to be present with my patients and with my senses all day long, and the less I can jump up to my intellect the better I will be at my job. So bring it on! 

And yes absolutely. Fear has been the foundation of my life and has shaped so much of what I do and how I behave. The fear has significantly reduced since the undoing of the "I" mind-process however. In fact I don't really feel any at the moment, and if so only very fleeting moments. That all only happened about 6 weeks ago though so I guess there is time for that to be disproven! 

Thank you again, I am so grateful and have just booked my train ticket to the retreat emoticon
Areeya M, modified 5 Months ago at 4/12/23 4:13 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/12/23 4:13 PM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

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In response to you Shargol

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond with such sound words and advice. It's so helpful for me and I will draw on what you have said while I'm on the retreat.

Silly as it probably sounds I've found your first paragraph very reassuring, so thank you for that. Early on when I first started meditating I found letting go a lot easier, but it has got harder as I've gone along. I guess there's been more to lose! I can totally relate to the drama you talk about. I have found the exhausting drama surrounding the "I" mind-process has fallen away, this idea that I have to experience everything or that things happen to me, and that has been a huge relief. So if I can hold onto that and trust that any further undoing will just result in further relief and not a dismantling of everything that I am, that will really help me!

Good question re the framework for the retreat. I was going to just carry on investigating my sensate reality, and possibly work with my equanimity again. That was as far as I'd got with my thinking for it. I usually use the body to get concentrated (which generally happens quite quickly), and then I start to investigate my mind. I don't usually work with pure Jhanas, I'm actually not very good at them as I'm just too interested in what is going on that I will start vipassana on all the sensations that make them up rather than absorb into anything. The schedule is determined by the retreat centre, and I don't generally meditate any more than that. I've never been one to go mad on meditating, like all night sits or anything. I'm usually well ready for breaks as and when they are offered! Do you have any advice for what I could be doing differently? I've no idea how to assess progress actually, that's never really occurred to me. How might I do that?

I also look forward to my practice maturing as you say, as I sometimes feel like the foundations are a bit shaky. Luckily I have never craved exciting, mind-blowing or exciting experiences. They have usually frightened me! So whilst they can derail me briefly I generally find my way back to mindfulness and present moment awareness quite quickly and I start to investigate them for what they are - simply sensations. I actually long for just a normal retreat where nothing much happens too be honest!

Yes those thoughts do occasionally creep in - I am /  I'm going to be something special - but much less often now. Early on in my meditation days they were much more common but over the years they have subisided and I can usually see them just as thoughts now. But def one to keep an eye on, so thanks for the reminder!
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago at 4/13/23 6:31 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/13/23 6:31 AM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

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Sounds good. Following the retreat schedule and investigating sensations is a good foundation. Are you mostly noticing? Are you also using noting? When you say "investigate my mind"? How are you doing that?  Are you also investigating emotions and thoughts? Do you label emotions and thoughts? Are you investigating "where is there greed, aversion, or indifference in this experience?"  

It's often good to have a few basic practice methods to draw upon, especially for long retreats. 

Sometimes a slow noting practice -- a few notes a minute, or maybe a note on each outbreath -- can help provide feedback on whether we truly are investigating the moment, rather than just getting kinda lost in a flow state. (It's a matter of balance. It's okay to flow sometimes, but flows can eventually degrade into trance/habit/dullness. So sometimes a double-checking method, "can I still note in this state?", can be helpful.)

Investigating "greed, aversion, or indifference?" is also a way to get very quick feedback on whether we are truly investigating or have fallen into a trance/habit/dullness, regardless of what state we're in.


You can get very very far in practice with just those techniques above. I'll also throw this one out just for fun... 

Using the framework of "the six realms" can also be valuable to your practice. Basically, regardless to the raw content of what shows up in sensate experience, regardless of the momentary experience of greed/aversion/indifference, we also have an overall attitude or worldview that we apply to the entire situation. This can be tricky to notice at first, but in time it becomes much more obvious. You could say that these worldviews are how we become psychological "reborn" many times a meditation session, many many times over the course of a day.

The purpose using the six realms as a framework is it help reveal the semi-conscious attitude we have about the present moment:

Hell beings feel they need to fight the present moment.
Hungry ghosts feel they need to take/get something from the present moment.
Animals feel they need to endure the present moment.
Humans feel the texture of the present moment and evaluate/plan/compare possible desires.
Powerful gods feel they need to achieve something in the present moment.
Heavenly gods feel they need to maintain something in the present moment.

You can see how just these six categories are very useful for diagnosing our attitude towards our meditation practice while on retreat. In general, we want to learn how to quickly see through the lower and higher realms. We want to drop the habits of fighting, taking, and enduring. We even want to drop desire for achieving and maintaining (especially when we get stuck in the "I'm becoming/I'm am a superior meditator" attitude). The human realm is the only one where awakening is possible.

And while in the human realm, we can feel the texture of the present moment as it is. And naturally our mind will start having desires (which is very human)... BUT if we turn this around by having our desire to be "to see the nature of desire itself" -- or to say it another way, "to see the nature of greed, aversion, and indifference and how it causes suffering" -- then we can escape psychological rebirth, so to speak, through insights into our confused habits and clinging. If we can make the human realm into a place of investigation 

I mention all of this because sometimes investigating sensate reality loses traction as things become energetic, blissful, trance like, or dull... especially on long retreats. But investigating "which realm am I in now?" doesn't have that problem and can quickly re-establish investigaton. It can also serve as a red flag warning when we get trapped in low realm struggles or high realm ambitions.
Areeya M, modified 5 Months ago at 4/16/23 4:12 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/14/23 11:01 AM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

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I don't have time to write now but just wanted to acknowledge and thank you Shargrol for your very helpful instructions (the realms mediation is super interesting I've been pondering that today), I will get back to you properly over the weekend with what it is I do when I practice (if I can even describe it?!). 
Areeya M, modified 5 Months ago at 4/17/23 1:38 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/16/23 5:15 PM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

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 Hi Shargrol - so in answer to your questions:

I think I'm doing noticing and / or noting practice, although I've never been formally taught either of them. What's the difference between noticing and noting?

What I do is I basically try and notice (and immediately let go) of any sensation that arises in my awareness. I do this for a while and there then comes a point where it feels like time / space fuses and I'm just in a continuous present. At this point I tend to drop purposefully noticing or noting as it feels clunky / jolty and it actually takes me out of the present more than keeps me in it.

I tend to start with just one sense (generally feeling in the body because it's so accessible) until my mind has settled and stabilised and "fused" into the present and then I tend bring my other senses into the present too, and then I "sit back" (as best I can) and simply notice whatever it is that arises -  so be it a sound, a bodily sensation, a thought etc. I've always called this being in the absolute present as I don't hold onto any sensation, they all just continuously arise and pass extremely quickly like I'm passively watching telly or something. 

By "investigating my mind" I mean I watch my mind in action, how it tries to move towards the pleasant and how it flinches at the unpleasant (this is how I worked with the equanimity until I turned back to see where and at what point is the process my mind was doing the judging). I catch thoughts arising and observe the "flavour" in my mind created by a thought (eg do I like it, do I not like it). Sometimes I catch a thought so early on in it's arising that I don't even really know what the content is, but I know the flavour of it (pleasant, unpleasant, funny etc) already. 

I do also investigate emotions I guess. So for example if an angry thought arises, I allow it to arise briefly, and then I halt the thought, and observe what sensations have arisen in my body in response to it. Then sometimes I let the thought progress and I see how the sensations change. Or if I'm happy, again, I don't absorb into the happiness, instead I observe the sensations of that mind state (hence never really getting into jhanic states!). I observe my mind changing shape according to emotions I am feeling, twisting or knotting at unpleasantness, and eg how expansive and open love feels. Is that what you mean by investigating emotions or is there something else I could be doing?

I don't think I actively label emotions as such, but I am aware of the flavour of them. So I know directly if I'm happy / bored / annoyed, but I might not use the word in my mind. Should I be?

Am I investigating where is there greed, aversion, or indifference in this experience? This is the bit where I think I fall down the most actually. Sometimes I do find myself floating around looking for something to investigate, and I forget that the core teaching is to observe craving and aversion, and the three characteristics of no-self, no satisfactory-ness and impermanence in everything. That has become clearer to me over time but I still find myself forgetting. This has been a very helpful reminder actually (as well as Adi Vaders message earlier) and I am going to try and remember to keep that at the forefront of my practice from now on. 

"Sometimes a slow noting practice -- a few notes a minute, or maybe a note on each outbreath -- can help provide feedback on whether we truly are investigating the moment, rather than just getting kinda lost in a flow state. " This is interesting. What exactly do you mean by noting here? I definitely think I can get lost in a flow state without being totally aware of it and things get a bit dull or even trancey. When I realise that's what's happened I deliberately launch / re-establish my attention onto an object eg the breath or a part of the body until my mind has sharpened again. Is this what you mean by noting?

I absolutely love the idea of the six realm meditation and I will definitely try using that technique on the coming retreat. I've been trying to tune into how and "where" in my mind I might "find" the realm I'm currently in. I guess as you say it's the attitude behind everything. Just from reading them I think I'm probably most commonly in the animal and human realm, and maybe occasionaly in the powerful god one too. Feeling into the realms now, I guess being in the human realm is another way of saying "don't try and do anything other that observe the present reality as it presents itself". So don't e.g grasp or try to create anything, just observe reality as it is, equanimously. I'm going to enjoy adding this to my toolbox!

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide me with so much helpful feedback and guidance, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it! It's been invaluable. Now rather than feeling apprehensive about the retreat next week I'm looking forward to it. 
shargrol, modified 5 Months ago at 4/16/23 6:35 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/16/23 6:35 PM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

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Areeya M, modified 5 Months ago at 4/23/23 2:25 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 4/23/23 2:25 AM

RE: Reassurance and / or guidance please!

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Hi Shargrol - thanks for that link. Yes I think I am pretty much doing noting practice then, no and off, when it serves me. Sometimes it gets in the way and other times it's useful to check that I am really present with what is. 
I'm off on retreat today, armed with your and Adi Vader's advice, and am feeling good about it. I'll report back!