Extra opinions

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Carey Torrance Woodings, modified 9 Years ago.

Extra opinions

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
Hello everyone. I'm just now starting into practice, and I'm beginning to think that I may have accidentally traveled part of the progress of insight before I ever even thought of formal practice, or even began studying the Dharma. I have started with Kenneth Folk's 3-Speed Transmission method. I'll paste in my practice notes from today and yesterday. I'd like to get as much insight into my experiences as possible.

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First day: Noting body sensations.

I will not be using my phone as a timer again. I was interrupted at around 37 minutes. I will complete my 45 minutes tomorrow. I might even do another sitting today.

I had some trouble finding a stable position. I had to sort out my cushion setup twice in the session. I found a spot that I could stay in the Burmese pose without issue.

in the first half, or so, of my session I frequently noted tension It almost bordered on burning, but it did not quite reach any definable sensation other than tension. I had a few notes of itching, especially in my throat (my body does not appreciate cold weather or my smoking habit). I had a few early notes on pulsing (heartbeat). I noted hearing a few times, as well as seeing (computer light through my eyelids. I noted pressure quite few times. I also noted warmth and coolness. Somewhere along the way, I began to take note of slight rocking in my body. It started as a gentle back and forth sway. After my final pose adjustment to a solid position, the "wobbling" as I named it, became increasingly pervasive. It progressed through different stages. At some times it came as a circular sway of my torso, other times it seemed almost as though my abdomen was trying to rotate on it's own, independent of the rest of my body. It became so intense that it felt as though my upper half was moving through at least a 3 or 4 inch arc. As the "wobble"/"sway" reached it's highest intensity ( began focusing on it, it was too strange to let go of, as my focus resolved, the more intense it became) waves of sensation began to slowly creep through my body, starting at my waist and fingertips, moving up to my neck. They seemed to dissipate before they hit my face. Only a few waves came through before the phone rang. It was a terribly jarring experience. When I snapped back into the world I was confused, as though I had taken a long nap, ...Cont.

...and was abruptly woken up. I was somewhat dazed through the phone call. Once the call was finished, I felt so disturbed that I decided to come document the session, instead of finishing the final few minutes. Even as I sit here writing, if I focus on my body, the sway begins to return slowly. Being brought out of my focus so swiftly was incredibly disconcerting. I'm still a little confused. I think it might be time for a coffee.

Aside from the odd movement, that I was not in control of, I did note some numbness and associated warmth. A few times I almost became aware of objects, but they were gone before I noted them.

Any insight into what I just experienced would be greatly appreciated. Thank for being here everyone.

***One of the members on kennethfolkdharma chimes in and tells me movements and energies are called "kriyas"***

Just finished a second session of body sensation notation. I went for a full hour this time, although I got a bit antsy at 45 minutes and looked at the clock.. Guess that impulse was a bit to strong to note away. This sitting was similar to earlier, with less pronounced kriyas in the upper body. I lost track of my notations quite a few times. I just zoned out past most sensation. Some numbness, warmth coolness, shaking trembling wobbling. Hearing came up a few times. Lot's of tension. I think the spontaneous movement focused in my legs more this time, so they felt tense and shaky quite often. I found an alarm for my laptop, that pulls it out of sleep mode when it goes off. That way I had less light, and no risk of phone calls. The alarm sound was an Asian flute with birds. The transition back was much better like that. Actually, I'm not really sure I actually left. I am still zoning out and getting the kriyas again when I do. I'm very calm now. Kind of detached. It's very neutral mood. I don't think much would bother me. Even my nicotine cravings are rather subtle.

I have a few things to add from the last 24 hours.

Last night, after my last report, I went to pick up a friend from work. It was about 15 minutes after I posted last, and I had to sit and wait in the car for them to get ready to leave. I dropped back into my practice, very close to where I left off. There were things happening around the car, but I didn't really put any significance to them. Mostly sounds. I was very comfortable. It was difficult to note anything other than warmth from my heater.

After that I went and hung out with friends, had a meal, played some games. When that was done, I hopped in the shower and sat down under the water I went into practice there, hoping maybe I could note better with heavy stimulus on my body. The sensation from the water didn't really "come home." I was lying down at first, I still didn't really feel attached to any of the sensations enough to bother noting them, other than when I forced myself to pay attention to sensations. I sat up sideways, and then the water was directly on my head, then I stared being somewhat overloaded by the water in my face, so I moved to where the water didn't directly beat down on my head at the strongest points of the stream. I had quite a few good notes on the feel of the water while sitting up. At that point thoughts started interfering with my focus on sensation, so I tried to note them as "thinking" but one of them was a thought concerning my recent situation that took my entire idea of my life and identity I thought I had, which motivated my "hopeful search". I became overwhelmed by fear and emotional pain. This provided some physical anxiety to note, as well as physical depression. The emotional aspect gave away to just the physical sensations associated with it as I noted. I was so overcome by the feeling in my body that I could not concentrate on noting, and I stopped, finished my shower, and went to bed. Cont.

***This is where I break apart the 2 days. Day 2 is noting body sensations as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral***

After church (Unitarian Universalist, in case you wondered what a Buddhist was doing in church) I came home and started watching and listening to Dharma talks on Buddhist geeks, etc. (I'm really drawn to the pragmatic Dharma)

During a rather long video about the progress of insight, presented at the Cheetah house by Daniel Ingram. I found myself going into a state, just while watching. I've been doing that recently, noting at random times, even before I came here. This time was different though. I was actually having the involuntary movements while just sitting, watching a video. The experience of the movement has never been as intense as the first time. I has slowed to a minor wobble. I was in a rather tense state, I was just feeling unpleasant. It got more intense through the video. In the video, Ingram mentioned that movements like that could be indicative of A and P. He also mentioned that people could actually reach that state and the following Dark Night without ever hitting a cushion. Recent radical alterations in my mental state (in the last couple of months the life I thought I had was upended. I realized that everything I thought was just me was a sham, and I went within a 2 week span from a firm subscriber to Richard Dawkins' brand of militant atheism, to an intrinsic knowledge that there was something more to reality than could be seen. This was after a long period of said atheism, and sensory indulgence, but at the same time, I knew that things were not permanent, except for the things I clung to like a vice. I was not a difficult admission that the noble truths were true, when I finally found them) led me to wonder if I had been in this "dark night" for (10-15?) years. I was rather spiritual back in my late teens, and even before. I had 2 periods of disconnection from that. One before when I was in high school, and then again after a brief reconnection with my spiritual side, the last disconnect lasting until...

...about the beginning of December just passed. The idea that a radical alteration of self-perception could be the end of a cycle of non-practiced induced DN, would actually make some sort of odd sense. I just don't know. I'm trying to not read anything into it, but after the things I've been through, it's hard to dismiss the idea... I could use some feedback from someone who knows this subject very well.

Alright, after that aside, I'll get back to practice notes.

Throughout this unintentional meditation I was in (I could tell because of the way I was dropping into body view mode, and the slight sway in my body) I became very dissatisfied with just about everything. I was hungry, but nothing sounded good. I ate, the food was unpleasant, and my hunger was still not sated. I was thirsty, but water didn't really help. My cigarettes tasted like hell, but I still wanted them, one after another. No matter what I did, nothing was right. I decided to go to the cushion for my new exercise, noting body sensations as pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. For about 20 minutes I noted everything as unpleasant. It got to the point where I could not even sit, so I decided to lie down. Shortly after The change of scenery, all of the unpleasantness subsided. I stayed there for a while. It seemed like an hour, but it was just 30 minutes. I had to force myself to note anything that wasn't extremely overt. I had some thoughts, but they were elusive, at best. Finally, I felt strange energy crawling very slowly up my back. one side then the other, rinse, repeat. They were not anything but neutral. In fact, everything after the "all unpleasant" state was neutral. Even loud-ish sounds from the other room were neutral. Nothing was bad, but nothing was good either. At that point I decided to sit back up. Back in Burmese pose, I continued to note pretty much everything as neutral. After 30 minutes of that, I just decided ...

... I was done with the sitting. I just could not seem to note much of anything. There were sensations, but they held no real bearing on my situation. I figured it was possible that I had psyched myself into an unproductive state after watching that video. I am feeling skeptical that I would have actually progressed through some of the path after having never practiced. At the same time I felt like I was in the places that I saw on the video. I really just don't know what is going on. It doesn't really bother me right now though. I feel kind of ambivalent about the whole thing.

I would like to know if I'm really where it looks like, or if I could have just psyched myself into the whole thing.

If it helps, when I had the profound spontaneous movement yesterday, I felt rather pleased by it. It was strange, but I liked the whole thing. I neglected to report how I felt afterward, because I was too busy thinking about the body sensation notes, since that was what I was supposed to be doing. It's been easy to dismiss the thoughts and emotions that go with the sensations. They just come and go, just as the body sensations I note do. Very unlike the following states of mind, wherein the only echo of the movement and "energy" remained. I am calm after this session, but it is not the same kind of calm I reported after the sittings yesterday. I just kind of exist.

With any luck, I have been thorough enough over the past couple of days.

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As you might be able to tell, I'm a bit confused by all of this. Any insight would be great, thanks.
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Bruno Loff, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Extra opinions

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
My guess, kryas are A&P and the build up to that, the restlessness and unsatisfactoriness is dark night, and the "meh" part after that is (low) equanimity. It is quite possible to confuse A&P and equanimity, before having the experience a number of times. Also, the fact that you progress so quickly (if my guess is indeed correct) is a strong indicator that you've been there many times. I make the uninformed guess that you can remember a very depressive period in your life, preceded by a (perhaps much) shorter period of "great excitement/promise/thrill."

W.r.t practice, rinse and repeat, and upon reaching low equanimity again, don't get lazy or turned off by the apparent lack of anything noteworthy. Instead, note "nothing noteworthy" :-) To progress further, you should note subtler and subtler things. Instead of downright "energy movements" or "pain" or easily-noticeable phenomena (called "gross phenomena"), you should tune in to more subtle and panoramic things, such as "the sensation of space" or "the sensation of time passing" or "waiting" or "(subtly) looking for something to note" or "nothing noteworthy / boredom" or "my whole body" or "the feeling of being here/being something/being someone".

It is also a great platform from which to look at core processes of the mind, such as intention, attention, focus, and subtle attraction/repulsion. It is also a great place to just relax and chill :-)

This should cause further progress, into higher equanimity, when things are very subtle and panoramic and the mind can be powerful without any burden or "rush". Cultivate and develop that.

BTW a reasonable goal right now would be "stream entry." And read the book "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha," by Daniel Ingram, if you haven't already.
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C T W, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Extra opinions

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
Here are the notes for the sitting I just finished(?) I am still in the state. I am just not on the cushion.



"I sit. My body is uncomfortable. It exerts power on my thoughts. My thoughts respond with new stimuli. The mind allows the body to make adjustments until it is satisfied with it's position. There is discontentment in the thoughts. There is confusion in the thoughts. The thoughts try to explain everything. The thoughts try to explain me. The thoughts watch the way the body moves. The thoughts watch the sensations. The thoughts make value judgments. I see them. I do not care about them. I am not part of this process. I just see the process unfolding. The thoughts note things. I see it try to explain. I do not care. I am allowing it to do what it wants. The body and mind do not like sitting. I don't care. I watch them fight amongst themselves. The thoughts try to control me. I have no reason to listen. They just do what they do. The body tries to exert control over me. I don't care. I just let it. I accept. I cause the thoughts to accept on occasion. The body is too restless to be controlled. I don't care. It doesn't really do anything but complain anyway. The thoughts are concerned for it. I know they are fine I see them as children, struggling to understand the world. I am calm. The thoughts and body try to control me. I watch them. I am not concerned. I just observe. I make the thoughts obey me, but the body is distant. I make the thoughts obey me when I can. They exert will on the body.. I watch. I do not care much what they have to say. They don't mind me very well. I accept that. I do not care. I am calm. They can do as they please. After an hour the leg is very numb. The mind does not like this. I tell it it's being silly. It finds humor in this. It makes the body feel humor. the body and mind laugh. The mind is pleased by this. I think they are quite a pair. I feel tthe thoughts liking the body and the mind. I don't care. I just watch. I do not care. I am calm. I am here...

.. They are there. Nothing phases me. I just look. After an hour hour the body is displeased. The mind says I should allow the leg to get blood. I acquiesce. I do not care where the body is. The mind wants it to be quiet. It is irritated at the body. I allow them to stand up, and come to the computer. I I have the ming tell the hand to type. I have them report. My body and thoughts have left the cushion. I am still there. No in body. I just do not care. Nothing bothers me. I am reporting. The thoughts want me to report. I don't really care. I let the mind have it's way. It is the one who complains about things. The body and mind are slaves to each other. The mind wants something, the body gets negative sensations. The Body wants something, it tells the mind that it has a bad emotion, which reinforces the body's need. . I am along for the ride. They do not concern me. The mind thinks they should. The mind says I am silly. The mind threatens to embarrass me for speaking like this. I do not care. That does not concern me. The emotions are just interactions between thought and body. I see them as things that are happening around me. They are just objects. I am not concerned by them. The mind does not like this. I observe this. I do not care. I let them have their way. Whay they do is not my concern. I am not even sure If I have any concern. I am just here. I just exist. I am along for the ride. This is the way it is. I do not have a judgment. I only observe. I do not care. I am just here.
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C T W, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Extra opinions

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Also, the fact that you progress so quickly (if my guess is indeed correct) is a strong indicator that you've been there many times. I make the uninformed guess that you can remember a very depressive period in your life, preceded by a (perhaps much) shorter period of "great excitement/promise/thrill.".


Now that I'm settled back in, I can make a statement in response to that. I've been living through that for at least 10 years. Maybe longer. I can definitely say that it has been that way for at least that long. I've had long stretches of low feeling, which led to as much instant gratification as I could possibly load in. First drugs and alcohol. When that but me in the ass too much, I dove into games. When that wasn't the way, I tried social situations. I fell deeper, and back to smoking pot, and binges of whole TV series, buying things, placing too much reliance on people for my own self aggrandizement. Recently, the house of cards fell down. I found myself on a spiritual path. That's how I found myself in Buddhism. I started digesting all I could. I see my fall as a chance to grow. I always have. Before I even started thinking about meditation, I could cycle myself through fear, misery, and disgust in a matter of minutes at times. Other times it would drag for a year. Lately I've been hitting those "highlights" in moments, and watching them pass away. I've been living in a rather contradictory way. I loaded as much sensory stimulus in as possible, to drown out fear and self-loathing, while at the same time not being worried about the things I needed. I knew thing came and went. I knew that I wasn't what I was living. I already saw that I was me inside a machine programmed by stimulus and response. I just clung to "individuality" to stay in the world. So to get to the point, I can remember a time like that. Or more accurately, a decade. A third of my life.

This most recent climax of "desire for delivery" pretty much shattered everything I thought of as me, to the point that I started researching religions, to find some fundamental truth that lay between them. I found that truth, and than I found Buddhism, the exact refinement of everything the others said, without all of the fluff surrounding the truth. It has all of the important parts, and very little of the junk that got stuck to it along the way.

More importantly, it has a cure for the life I've been living. And it seems I may have already been living through the part that worried me about the progress of insight. I would still like some more input. I don't really want to jump to conclusions and grab more illusion in the process.
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Bruno Loff, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Extra opinions

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
C T W:
I would still like some more input. I don't really want to jump to conclusions and grab more illusion in the process.


That hints at the kind of maturity one is liable to get from dark night disenchantment.

About your practice: I suggest you investigate what is this "I" who "doesn't care" (about thoughts, discomfort, etc). How do you know (what is it that causes the recognition to arise) that "you don't care," despite having thoughts and feelings?

Make your mind so panoramic that the "I don't care" is just part of what's going on, rather than a seemingly personal response to "the rest of experience". Leave absolutely nothing out.

Something like: "feeling of discomfort, sensation of 'I' not caring for feeling of discomfort, body wanting something, sensation of 'I' being along for the ride, etc" --- they are all the same thing, happening in the same place, "you" not caring for what is happening is just something else that is happening, it is the happening of "a sensation of 'I' not caring" --- and if you are seeing it as somehow different, then understand what is it that causes you to see it as different (i.e. look more closely).

When you can successfully do that with everything for a while, in that your "reactions" to events are just more events, you will get stream entry (assuming you haven't yet, in which case this should be relatively easy to do).
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C T W, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Extra opinions

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
It's funny, I started wondering about that "I that didn't care" last night, before I got back home and posted. I was thinking, since that was an "I," maybe I should try to figure out who that "I" was. A sense of feeling nothing is a far cry from compassion and happiness.

I'm going to try to focus on my final day of prescribed noting practice. After that, Mr. folk should chime in with further instruction. I really appreciate your insight. A quote I saw: "Enlightenment is a team sport." I want to give the rest of the team a chance to give their perspective. As you are the only person who has said anything yet, either here or over on KFD. I expect the long weekend is a bit to blame for people being slow to respond. When one relies on the grace of others, one must also rely on their schedules. emoticon
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C T W, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Extra opinions

Posts: 19 Join Date: 1/15/12 Recent Posts
Day 4: Objectifying thoughts, categorizing
A lot of apathy surrounding these thoughts. It was a second layer of thought I was in yesterday. There was a realization that the thoughts that saw thoughts yesterday were still thoughts. Observing thoughts came up frequently. Critical thoughts, planning thoughts,searching thoughts (searching for thoughts, ironically enough). The thoughts were searching for themselves. That was the main theme of this session. They wondered who I was. That lasted briefly, they started stacking up from there. They became very discouraging. There were a lot of expecting thoughts, The planning thoughts mostly centered around reporting themselves. A lot of this probably came from the fact that the thoughts were trying to find who was thinking them. These were difficult to disembed from. The thoughts at the surface were easy enough to let pass, but the fact searching for the thoughts were thoughts themselves, made a lot of discouraging thoughts come up. The chain would be something like this: There's a sensation (observing thought), That was a thought, (observing thought), of course it was a thought (admonishing thought). There were a few times when one note would lead to noting the note as a thought, which would note that not as a thought, and so on until there was another admonishing thought. There were a lot of times The thoughts would say I was doing something wrong, until the thought that it was false, because the thoughts were being observed came up, showing that it couldn't be wrong if the thoughts were being observed. That was functional for a while, but the admonishing thoughts eventually started leaking back in. At that point, the time was up. Over all there was wide open space, with nothing, and a small but loud series of thoughts that were difficult to chase down. That would imply (it just occurred) that this is part of the chicken herding process. Yesterday, I was watching the chickens, today, I tried to chase them.

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That pins things down. 3 places to get stuck: Three Characteristics, Re-Observation, Equanimity. If the Spontaneous movement and crawling energy was A&P, then It can't be 3C, leaving. R-O and EQ. I only felt apathy, and distant frustration today, and yesterday was pretty similar, only no frustration. I have been feeling anxious in my normal routine today, as I have been a little stressed by not Knowing where I am for sure while on the cushion. I've also had some of the thoughts concerning my rough patch I've been going through come up, but when I catch myself thinking of that, I just note it and watch it dissolve (in life, not on the cushion, Those thoughts only came up once while actively practicing, an that was the attempt to meditate in the shower from way up above). I also had a tough time getting myself onto the cushion today. I felt like doing other things. More of the apathy. Everything in life and on the cushion is calm. The only conflict that exists is conflict I allow, when I'm distracted from mindfulness.