DN in concentration practise?

charon, modified 11 Years ago at 3/2/12 2:34 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 3/2/12 2:34 AM

DN in concentration practise?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 11/24/10 Recent Posts
I’ve been meaning to post for a while now, but wanted to have a really concrete idea of what I was experiencing beforehand. However, the last few days have forced me to scrap that plan:

I’ve been doing concentration practise (using the breath) and am fairly sure that I managed to remain in soft first jahna last week for the first time – I’m calling it soft as I wasn’t fully absorbed senses-wise, and the pleasure shifted down from the ‘beautiful breath’ wow stage to a much less intense version as I settled into the state (in fact a little disappointing after such a high).

Whilst I’ve been trying to only focus on concentration, I often find myself switching to a slightly more insight/introspective awareness and have had some beautifully profound insights on the three characteristics. I also, generally and very on-off, try to remain aware throughout the day, and whenever I walk anywhere.

I’m naturally very introspective and inclined to philosophical wonderings, which, combined with a ‘misspent youth’ (and occasionally and recreationally into my thirties) experimenting with acid/mdma/etc, feel I may have inadvertently crossed into darknight quite some time ago – if not, I have had numerous A+P events whilst sitting recently, and also have almost constant perception shifts throughout the day now.

I always find, on achieving a practise milestone, that it seems to bounce me back a level for a few days/week, but also throws up the hindrances to an extreme level that always make me stop mediating and question the worth of what I’m doing. This time has been really tough and I’ve cycled through some extreme stress and depressive states – so much so that I’ve booked a doctor’s appointment as I’m worried that mediation is the only thing stopping some form of mental illness taking hold of me.

Last night made me pause as a very significant realisation hit me as to how much this time was different than previously. Whereas I would normally wallow in either anger, stress, existential angst, or suicidal thoughts for hours and days in each one (and maybe only just one of them) - this time I cycled through the states far quicker than I’ve ever done previously, literally seconds, minutes, and hours - which has made me think DN more than mental illness.

So, if it is DN as opposed to some form of underlying MI, how best to continue?
As I’m aiming to take a jhana/insight route, how do I deal with DN? Is it the same as it would be with noting? But with maybe a little more focus on the ‘letting go’ aspect? Should I continue trying to cultivate first jhana as it’s still very far from stable?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

charon, modified 11 Years ago at 3/3/12 2:05 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 3/3/12 2:05 AM

RE: DN in concentration practise?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 11/24/10 Recent Posts
Just thought I better clarify a main point in that post as it was pretty heavy – the suicidal thoughts are of a heightened ‘what’s the point in living without meaning’ type (reaction to the 3c’s I think), rather than anywhere near actually planning on acting on them.

I’m also thinking of cancelling the doctor’s appointment as, having restarted mediation and taking the normal steps I find help with stress/etc, I feel much more in control. The emotional cycling states have been replaced by an extremely heighted perceptual clarity and, I can’t explain it in any other way, like a protective mental bubble stopping me getting too involved with my minds narrative’s – very much like a waking access concentration. It does, however, make me uncomfortable talking to people as too much detail jumps out at me.

Sorry if neither of these posts make sense and it sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person.

Nikolai , modified 11 Years ago at 3/3/12 5:32 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 3/3/12 5:32 PM

RE: DN in concentration practise?

Posts: 1675 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Hey Paul, I agree with Frank's advice on Jhana Insight where you posted the same questions.

Friend Paul,

I sense some confusion in you; namely, a conflicting juxtaposition
between the practice of the "Sixteen Stages of Insight" versus

If 'Samatha yoked to Vipassana' is your aim, than you need to let go of
the intellectual straightjacket of 'Straight Vipassana', you'll be
better off for it.

How do you deal with the dark night? Well you can start by seeing it as
a glass half-full rather than half empty. Better yet forget about the
concept of 'dark night' altogether. Because of the progress of your
practice, what you are 'feeling' and experiencing is the subsequent
renunciation, disenchantment, and dispassion from the wordily
defilements you crave and cling to.

Think about it -- you are following the Lord Buddha's practice of mental
development to eradicate the fetters of becoming; to extinguish the 'I',
'Me', and 'Mine', another words, to abandon your World of greed, hatred,
and delusion, in order to Nibbana.

Unfortunately, the 'I', 'Me', and 'Mine' is loudly objecting mentally
and physically, to the progress of your practice. Subsequently, the pace
of your progress goes something like; one-step forward, regress two
steps back; three steps forward, regress one-step back; four steps
forward and regress three steps back, and so on and on -- be assured
this is the nature of mental development.

Paul, it is extremely hard in this dark age of the consumer-culture to
breakout from ones 'ego', especially if you are a practicing layperson.

Okay some advice, every time you enter the so called 'dark night',
rather than dwell on regression, depression, and despair, turn it around
and see it as a badge for the progress of your practice; because that is
exactly what it is! Another words when you are experiencing
renunciation, disenchantment, and dispassion; take heart, you are moving
forwards not backwards.

Two more things before I end this reply...

Now that you are aiming to take a jhana/insight route, consider moving
from breathe meditation to Metta meditation. One of the negative
spin-offs of western civilization, is the fact most of us don't like
ourselves, or even the people around us. This dislike is a big hindrance
to our progress; Metta practice without a doubt will stabilize and
smooth out the stress you will experience when the 'I', 'Me', and
'Mine', fights back against the progress of your practice, the 'dark
night' so to speak.

Also, forget about the goal of reaching the first jhana, and so on.
Focus instead on unifying your mind, and on mindfully achieving and
maintaining stillness. Learn to watch what arises and ceases in your
mind and 'how' the five hindrances come and go, not 'why' they come and
go. The 'three characteristics of existence' are obvious, that is they
are easy to understand intellectually. What is more important though is
to see 'dependent origination' in action; subsequently, the 'three
characteristics of existence' will become intuitive rather than

Oh yeah... when you focus on unifying your mind and achieving stillness,
the jhanas come naturally.

With Metta,
charon, modified 11 Years ago at 3/4/12 5:15 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 3/4/12 5:15 AM

RE: DN in concentration practise?

Posts: 36 Join Date: 11/24/10 Recent Posts
Hi Nikolai

Thanks for your response, it's much appreciated. I'll post the reply to his advice here too:

Hi FrankT

Whilst it seems like an understatement considering the gratitude I feel for your advice; thank you for both your time and response. I read it last night, but wanted to let my thoughts evolve a little before responding.

To be honest, now that I’ve re-established my practise after that short break, I feel rather embarrassed for being so effected by it. I guess it was a combination of being taken completely unaware by it, and not having anyone to discuss it with. I had thought that if I focused on achieving first jhana before delving into insight in earnest, I wouldn’t experience such an emotional effect.

Just before I posted I had just finished a sitting in which I experienced the most violent visual and physical reactions I’ve ever had before. I believe it may have been from trying to force my way into some sort of energy/beginnings of pleasure (I really don’t know). This took the shudders, jolts, and lights I’ve started to experience lately onto a level where they were physically knocking the wind out of me and forcing involuntary noises out of my mouth.

Both of these experiences have shocked me quite a bit – it’s almost like I’ve been acting in a drunken-haze, ignoring all the good advice I’ve ever read. It certainly highlights my ignorance of the approach I’ve adopted. I now plan on taking your suggestion to maintain stillness as a main focus, and will incorporate metta into my practise (having previously abandoned it due to its difficulty). I’ve also begun to look for physical instruction.

This first part of your reply has actually staggered me a little, and left me feeling a mixture of humility and fear. ‘Letting go’ in concentration practise has benefited me in so many ways, but up until now the scale of the larger picture was something I’ve never experienced on anything other than a shallow level. It has made me question how ready I am to face something like this…I guess the trick is, like you mentioned, to try and see everything in a positive light and as a sign of progression.

Once again, many thanks for your time.