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Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off.

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Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. Mind over easy 4/28/12 11:59 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. Mind over easy 4/29/12 4:23 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. Mind over easy 4/29/12 7:17 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. Mind over easy 4/29/12 9:47 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW!) Mind over easy 4/30/12 2:25 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Russell . 4/30/12 3:31 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 4/30/12 3:46 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Russell . 4/30/12 3:50 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 4/30/12 5:12 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 4/30/12 6:21 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 4/30/12 11:04 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 5/1/12 4:25 AM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/1/12 3:22 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/1/12 5:04 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/1/12 8:00 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 5/2/12 4:07 AM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/3/12 8:35 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/3/12 1:49 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Russell . 5/4/12 11:22 AM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/5/12 8:42 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 5/6/12 5:44 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/6/12 8:49 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 5/7/12 4:37 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/7/12 6:49 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/7/12 10:54 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 5/8/12 5:34 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/11/12 11:21 AM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 5/11/12 5:25 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/13/12 11:28 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/14/12 12:32 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 6/18/12 6:45 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 7/13/12 12:02 AM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Mind over easy 5/11/12 11:27 AM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 5/11/12 3:59 PM
RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW Tommy M 5/8/12 4:36 PM
Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off.
vipassana meditation log notes practice progress rapture
Answer
4/28/12 11:59 PM
Hello. I'm Kellen! I'm 19 and male. I've been interested in philosophy and mind stuff for as long as I can remember, and eventually I discovered Buddhism and found the ideas very appealing. I was trying to do concentration practices for awhile, but then read about the idea of strata of mind, and how some think jhanas are just nanas that are stable for the mind, and that the only difference is whether or not you let it solidify or try to break it down and see how it's unsatisfactory, transient, and void of self. I was also thinking about Daniel Ingram's story and how he said he was able to do jhanas extremely well after stream entry, in contrast to before.

This made me think... I should switch to insight practice, as this seems to be a road based on quick progress, and moving through strata of the mind (or nanas, whichever you prefer) in a way that is based on gaining knowledge and cultivating "growth" as it pertains to awareness. I'm now thinking it'll be easier to do insight now, which will take me to enlightenment, and then see if the nanas which are stable and pleasant are really actually what are called jhanas. I know about the idea of vipassana jhanas, and from reading about the strata of mind (on Kenneth's page), it sounds reasonable that vipassana jhanas exist amongst the many nanas since they're places the mind can rest, and thus places we stop and say... "this is a state". Then it's just a matter of abiding in the state, or busting it into the vibrations and such with insights. Anyone have thoughts on this?

Anyways, I've been practicing insight meditation, and I'm starting to feel like things are really taking off. I've read Daniel's book and have found it useful. If you read this... thanks! You have done a great thing and it's so cool that you're so practical about enlightenment and honest about it. I believe that even those who sincerely wish to become enlightened are not able to practice effectively when they don't have the notion that they can actually do this stuff. That's what I'm realizing now. I'm actually doing this stuff! emoticon

I'm a pianist, and to practice, I've realized that I need to work freely and effectively with concentration and awareness to understand the mechanisms at play, play around with different techniques to see how the whole process is effected, and concentrate/stabilize the mind in order to sustain continuous effective practice, or even performance/the end product. The parallels to meditation are quite clear, I think. So for meditation, I've been "warming up" by switching my locus of focus rapidly from one knee to the other, or one hand to the other. It's like a drum roll getting progressively faster. I start at a comfortable frequency and then speed it up to my threshold, and try to push it just a little bit, then go back and forth for a bit. By this point, if I just "release the reigns" on my attention, I can observe it going from sensation to sensation all over, at a fairly quick rate (3 to 4 hz usually, depending on the moment). This is actually what has seemed to make progress for me.

So yesterday, I did this process of warming up the speed of sensate awareness, and then "released the reigns", letting my attention jump from sensation to sensation (but knowing the sensation), watching this just happen. Usually it just involves feeling various parts of my body like places where skin is touching something or where muscles are twitching (which does seem to be happening more lately, or I'm just noticing more) and cycling between them quickly. Then sometimes, I'll just lock in on one spot like my knee or a spot on my back. I notice that the further I get "involved" in this practice, the more things seem to be tingling. I suppose this is the transience aspect of phenomenon? When I open my eyes after practicing, everything I see seems to be tingling a lot too, like a low quality camera filming in the dark.

Anyways, I was practicing yesterday, and I got a text, which made my phone vibrate. First my mind jumped to the sensation of the phone vibrating, and then this immediately caused a feeling of anxiousness/butterflies/whatever it is when you're startled to arise in my stomach, where my awareness then went. Then, it went to my head where the feeling of the fear seemed to happen. The awareness went from the phone vibrating to the sinking stomach feeling to the startled feeling in my head in only a second or maybe less. When it happened, I didn't feel involved. It was like watching a chain of dominoes. The vibrating phone, the physical feeling of stomach sinking, and the mental/in my head feeling of startlingness all happened in a causal way, each seeming completely isolated from the other effects. Does this sound like the knowledge of cause and effect? I'm thinking so.


So I just practiced a few hours ago for about 40 minutes, going about practice in the same way. However, this time was much different. Everything my attention went to was very irritating, which I would take to be awareness of the characteristic of unsatisfactoriness. I realized that before this, there was aversion to settling the mind on these things, and that my awareness would let go of these things quicker, as though being burnt. This is to say, I didn't get a good look at those moments since they were unpleasant so I shooed them from awareness. But tonight, I thought about how that's probably the characteristic of unsatisfactoriness, so I didn't avoid these feelings of annoyance or unpleasantness. Soon, things were almost overwhelmingly unpleasant. It was almost like my awareness was swarming "me" with these unpleasant sensations like a beehive had just been shaken up. I was cool with it though, feeling relieved to just be more aware of them and not having some of the tension that seemed to accompany aversion to unpleasant sensations earlier.

So the tingling of sensation seems to be transience, and the unpleasantness of sensation seems to be unsatisfactoriness. Thinking about the nana of the three characteristics, I then looked into trying to find a self. This involved looking into sensations happening in my head. I found that emotions and thoughts could be found there, in an odd way. They were tingly like everything else, but they seemed to be locked deeper inside the head. I was trying to find self there, but then I started to see that even those emotions and thoughts were disappearing and reappearing from moment to moment. I knew from this that no self was resting within any of those sensations.

Next, I did something very hard to explain. Have you ever noticed how you can kinda make yourself shiver? I've been getting weird shivers from meditating, so I decided to evoke some of those shivers. It was weird, because when I'd do this, it would give me a feeling of the shiver drawing up from my body through the back of my neck, into my brain. My head would start to lean back, and my shoulders felt a bit tense. But it was cool, and I started realizing there was much more to it than just shivering. My eyes kinda started to spasm like they do when you're trying to hold them shut but can't seem to, but I was fine with my eyes being shut. It started to happen very rapidly, and the feeling started to get just... so intense. It felt like I was going through sleep paralysis (which I've been awake for from lucid dreaming experiments). It came in waves, but each was more intense, until finally, my head was tilted quite a ways back and my eyes were rapidly twitching. My breathing got fast and shallow, and it was hard to even worry about that, and I didn't worry about trying to gain control over it. I felt this really odd sense of pleasure in my neck and body being drawn into my head. It wasn't like a grinning pleasure though. Actually, the intensity almost made it scary, but I've read enough to know odd things can happen doing insight meditation, so I did my best to let it happen and keep a stable mind. It was dizzying, electric, almost sexual in an odd way, and powerful.

Each wave made it feel like it was getting closer and closer to the edge, till after a very intense wave, it seemed to continue but get more subtle and subtle. Then, I was left feeling as though after orgasm. It was this really chill, quite tingly afterglow feeling, like I had just had some odd orgasm in my brain. It was an ease at this point, and I mentally called off my effort and just sat and basked in the feeling, recollecting my poise. I found myself with my head tilted back, quick shallow breath, and various tensed muscles. I then chilled out and fixed all this. I felt as though in the arms of a lover after intense loving, except the feeling was more refined than sexual pleasure (even though it seemed oddly sexual), and I was not drained and exhausted. I felt acute and kinda empty, like a calm after a thunderstorm. Now, an hour or so later, I keep getting an odd dissociative-ish dizziness, where attention jumps around in my head and I kinda feel destabilized. It's almost nauseating, but not quite. Not necessarily unpleasant or pleasant. There's also a weird, edgy feeling to my perception after that experience. It's almost a feeling of being an alien freak or something. It's like I'm this odd being with blunted affect. It's like I'm tripping.

So, that's where I'm at. It was a breakthrough in my practice and I decided to stop lurking and post my experience. I feel like rapture really gets at that experience. It was so intense and... enrapturing. A very odd, tingling, flashing pleasure, like an ancient, refined and mystical spiritual pleasure lifting up into my head, in waves of growing intensity. Does this sound like the arising and passing away? I feel like my meditation yesterday touched on the knowledge of mind and body, the knowledge of cause and effect, and the 3 characteristics in the earlier part of my meditation where I began to see annoyance along with the tingles, and then tried to locate self but saw the things I thought to be self disappearing. So, following the map of insight given in Daniel's book, this would seem to put the arising and passing away next. Rapture also seems to be a description of the arising and passing away event. It was just... wow, so intense. That's a full experience, all the way. Does anyone see this as consistent with the map? Also, I must consider that I got close to A&P but didn't quite cross. It felt like a pressure was released though, and now that odd tingling tension of sorts is not so beehive-ish. It's like it's dissipating, like the band that was just marching and thumping all around me is now fading off into the horizon. Still the same band and song, but seeming to be farther and farther.

So first I seemed to feel the tingling (vibrations), which would be transience. This then led to the realization of how these things were really annoying and not really "doing it" for me, and kinda stinging in a way, like a swarm of many bees around me. Then, after eliminating aversion to perception of the "stings" of sensation and the annoyance of the sheer speed and quickness of sensation, I was able to separate the notion of "me" from these sensations, up to some emotion and thought. This makes me wonder... has anyone found that the three characteristics build on each other in this way? I've always been passionate about teaching and I feel like this may help someone progress if they know how to go about finding the three C's, and how an understanding of one can lead to the other, and how removing aversion of sensations can help clear up the three C's like it did for me.

It's just... so odd. I read about the practice of insight and the map and it all sounds like something happening to some intense monk locked away in a monastery. I've really only been doing insight type stuff on the short bus ride to school and haven't really been on the cushion besides yesterday and today. It just seems so nuts to consider that this stuff is actually happening to me, and that my experience is no longer just random mind crap and is consistent with the path of insight. I'm writing it now and thinking... Yeah, I think I'm really doing it. Enlightenment seems so possible, now that I'm feeling like I'm actually tracing the steps that have been laid out for me so neatly. It's also seeming as though you don't have to gain any new skill to do vipassana; you just have to start looking at a faster rate and not react to the feelings that sensations give you (which I suppose is to say, eliminating aversion). It's more like purifying and stopping the squirming. It's like devil's snare, where the tightness, helplessness, and frustration was due to my ignorance of my own futile struggling. The more I hold still, the looser it gets and the more I'm able to navigate this territory. It feels good to finally have touched this body of practice with results. I am now an initiate... heh.

So, there it is. This is a long read, but this seems to be a pretty active forum and I'd imagine a few of you might read and care to post. I've seen some very wise posters posting quite frequently, and I'd love to get some insight on my insight and maybe put this perspective into perspective, especially from someone who's been through the cycles of insight and has some familiarity with it. It's thrilling to have had these experiences yesterday and today, but it's cooool... it's not rushed and it's not even necessarily exciting. I'm satisfied in a very simple and subtle way with what has happened, and I'll continue to practice. I'll also continue to post. I have much to share and much to do.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off.
Answer
4/29/12 4:23 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
I just practiced for about an hour, maybe less. I've never really meditated by the clock or set up a system for determining how long. Actually, I kinda like to use previous meditation experience as my guideline. If something has happened in meditation that I can make happen again, I try to at least get there before I stop.

Anyways, I sped up perception by rapidly alternating between knees, and then let go of the reigns and let attention go from place to place. Everything got tingly like it always does. I had the same experience of eye twitching, shivers being drawn up into my head, flashing light, and all of this intermingled with sexual feelings of some sort coming in waves. However, this time it wasn't so intense, and it didn't feel so out of control. After this happened, some tension felt released and I sat and just calmed myself, feeling my whole being tingling. It was calm, like post orgasm chill out phase. Perhaps this is what is meant by tranquility? I like the feeling. It's as though I just worked hard to bust the vibrations, the vibrations cumulated in some odd kind of orgasm, and this left me tingling all over. Then, the intense feeling faded off into the horizon. This is just like last night's experience. However, this time, I kept going.

It wasn't really that eventful.

I just kinda sat and chilled, still watching attention go from place to place, although much slower. It was like rubbing two sticks together intensely, feeling the energy build up, and then seeing the fire ignite. This phase was like having lit the fire and just sitting and watching it. With this chilled out feeling, I felt much more relaxed and "tranquil". I then made it my task to find the feeling of calm and tranquility in my head. I could see that it too was a vibrating, tingling thing. It was much harder to find the tingling here, versus in the flesh. Thus, this seems to be the horizon of my practice: getting to the point where I can see the vibrations and tingling in restful and calm emotions and feelings.


Afterwards, everything seems tingly, and very chilled out. For some reason, I feel powerful after these things. There's a glass egg near me, and afterwards, I zeroed in on it with my attention and felt the vibrations on it. I felt for a moment as though I could increase the intensity of that attention and shatter it. Anyways, now I'm feeling really zoned out yet not drained. Post coital is the perfect description for the feeling, except I don't feel drained or like I've lost energy. I'm getting those odd feelings again, where awareness jumps around inside my head and makes me feel dizzy, as though my "self" is jumping from frame to frame rather than playing smoothly. It's very dissociative. I'd imagine this is a good sign of self being debunked.

I've noticed that sexual feelings are directly related to the shivers that go up my spine, the flashing lights, and the intense orgasmic moment that seems to happen. When I get the spine/cerebral shivers where things feel drawn up, I get sexual feelings down below, and when the feelings come down below, I find I can initiate the spine/cerebral shivers and flashing light. It makes me nervous about masturbating, since I worry that energy will leave. I'm not sure if it's a real concern or not.

As I was done meditating, I looked on my roof and saw bird poop. That made me think of the poop falling, and within a short time, I traced the poop falling to the bird, to the bird flying, to the egg, to bird sex, to bird sexual feelings. Cause and effect, huh...

This is going quite nicely. I like the "power up the speed of perception" then "release the reigns" approach, and it's working quite nicely for me. I'm also noticing how the process of my meditations are very cyclical.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off.
Answer
4/29/12 7:17 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
I just practiced for a half hour or so.

This was a little different. I started out with my speed up perception and let go of the reign method, but it felt like this happened fairly quick. I just jumped right into it. I got a few of the flashing lights, sexual energy feelings, and cerebral buzz things, but it was nothing like the intensity of the last two times. I couldn't seem to make it happen like I could before, and after I tried for a bit, it seemed to go away.

Then, I found myself in that calm, quiet and afterglow phase, except it wasn't so afterglow-ish since I hadn't had such an intense experience previous to it. So I basically started in the quiet, vibrations scattering phase after a few minutes. I investigated. Next, something new happened. I got this anxious, tight, adrenaline kind of feeling in my upper chest. I didn't seem to have any mental reaction to it; it was purely physical seeming. I sat and investigated the feeling until I began to feel it vibrate/tingle rather than remain solid. Not long after this, it seemed to go away.

Then, I started getting annoying body stuff. This was hurting and that was hurting and tingling was really annoying. This was much more thorough than what was going on before, and seemed to involve the whole of my body, rather than just a pain here or there. Switching awareness to my head and visually, it seemed as though there was a strong "strobing" effect. I seem to remember that somewhere in a description; I'll look into that after I post. It wasn't just the tingly, vibrating feeling. It was like my vision/awareness would strobe from up to down, fairly slowly. It wasn't extremely intense, but it seemed to involve the whole of my being, whereas before, the vibrations and tingling feelings were more or less only where my awareness rested. I suppose it seemed much more all encompassing and got at peripherals. Whereas tingling and vibration was happening only where I looked, now it felt like the whole of my experience was strobing from up to down. It's harder to find words for this. It seemed to subside, and I stopped practicing at this point.

Getting up from the meditation, I didn't feel so edgy/vibratory/buzzed/tingly. It was void of that energy. I also, for some reason, caught my reflection in the corner of my vision on the gloss of my guitar as I got up. It was startling in a way that I really don't think it should have been. Come to think of it, last night, when I got up from meditation and was laying in bed, there were voices outside and people slamming car doors, and these sparked feelings of adrenaline and made my heart start racing, like the feeling of a kid scared of the dark. Weird. I'm drawing a link between the startling feeling from those car doors slamming and voices, the reflection movement in my guitar startling me, and the feeling of adrenaline/anxiousness in my chest.

Obviously there are undertones of the nanas in these descriptions, namely chilled out and mellowed in the afterglow = dissolution, and adrenaline/startled feelings/tightness & anxiety in chest and throat = fear. I don't want to script myself, and I'm kinda trying to make a personal map based on how my meditations are growing and cycling through new experiences and containing the old. However, it seems that the map in MCTB and experiences from all over do coincide, which points to consistency in insight practice.

I'm trying to figure out if the discomfort and strobing feeling was just regression back into the nana of 3 C's, or whether or not it was the nana of misery. It was much more all encompassing than the feelings of annoyance I've gotten before, but since my hardcore vipassana experience have really only began yesterday, I also consider the possibility that I restarted the cycle of insight mid-meditation and experienced the nana of 3 C's more in depth. Next time I start, I'll try to investigate mind and body, cause and effect, then the 3 c's to see if my experience of the 3 c's is as intense as this new, more peripheral, strobing state. I'm not too fixated on this or worried though, as this seems to be unfolding fast, and it's clear that progress can be made as fast as you can investigate what seems solid at your new horizon of experience. That seems to be driving my progress, so I suppose I'll repeat for emphasis for others:

It's clear that progress can be made as fast as you can investigate what seems solid at your new horizon of experience.

Once I "bust it up into vibrations", any given experience in vipassana seems to give way to something new.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off.
Answer
4/29/12 9:47 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Thoughts about Dharma "doing" me now:

It seems things are much different now. I feel as though the vipassana style of "thinking", to put it in some term, is emerging outside of meditation constantly. I'll itch my leg, feel the burn of it, and feel a wave of tingles/vibrations run from that point like ripples in a pond. Or, I'll be "bored", looking for that next thing to do, and suddenly realize that this is just not right in some way, and looking closer, recognize it as aversion to seeing how I'm not really in the situation and how the situation doesn't satisfy. Also, the tingles of things (including vision) are becoming striking. Everything is quite dreamlike. This could be from the relatively intense and frequent practice I've been doing. I feel very blunted in affect as well. It isn't bad; it's just very different from feeling in a constant state of perpetual looking for some new scenario or pleasure to get into, or having the subtle notion of trying to uphold an emotion or state. I'm sure subtler yet things remain. Pleasures seem to be limited to whatever sense they immediately evoke, such as taste buds, sexual pleasure, pleasure of the ear, or otherwise. They don't seem to spark anything up in my head like they normally do. This makes me feel as though I can practice wherever I am.

I'm gonna go sit now. I'll post it up if I encounter anything new or different. I'd like to keep my practice log limited to new experiences, things that confuse me or give me the desire to seek confirmation, or otherwise seem significant. I'd rather not post the boring, same ol' tingles and pains unless I think they contain some new knowledge.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW!)
Answer
4/30/12 2:25 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
[A Day of Solid, Consistent Practice

So here I am.

I passed the A&P two days ago, I'm pretty sure. I practiced last night before bed, and when I woke up, I found my mind to be like a (relatively) blank slate, as though practice had not stopped since going to bed. In this state, for some reason, I almost immediately made the resolution to practice hard all day even throughout school. This involves noting, cycling between points of focus to speed up perception, and more recently, trying to find the point in my head which is interpreting raw sensations and turning them into a story. Many signs point to this being the dark night. For one, there's an empty, raw and extremely honest and powerless feeling I have. It's like the weird, zoned out feeling you get when you have the flu or something. It almost feels a bit like a fever. It isn't that I'm lethargic or without energy though. It's very clear and lucid, like a dream.

Anyways, on to details of practice.

I am associating the very chilled out, empty feeling with dissolution, although the nanas seem to be like fractals where the same weird "feelings" seem to carry over into other nanas, with the perception of these as relating to vibrations, suffering, and no-self becoming clearer and clearer. Throughout the practice, I seem to be cycling through certain feelings. From this calm, I enter into a phase where my chest (upper) begins to tingle and contain an anxious/nervous/adrenal energy. As far as I'm aware, up in my head, I don't seem to get fearful or nervous. It's mostly located just in my upper chest. Then, it kinda moves up into my throat, like a kind of tight feeling. This is accompanied with lots of itches and discomforts all over my body, although they are vibratory, and strangely not at all "irritating" in the conventional way. It's like the waves begin to grow in size and crash against each other in my body, versus what seems to be dissolution, where the daylight sky is clouded and the waters are calm in an eerie way.

So there is the sense of everything vibrating all over, and after awhile, all the itches and tingles and unpleasant sensations seem to appear as pure vibrations. It gets to the point where it's a full-fledged tingle fest in my field of experience. It's like the peak of the storm.

I need to add a thought I'm having now, to better explain things. Since this practice has really only began a few days ago, I've not had the feeling of these periods being spread out over a long period of time. Actually, they seem to be flying by quickly as I apply myself in ways conducive to momentous and pliable practice. So, I feel like I don't have time to feel as though these things have sank in or be emotionally affected. It just seems like meditation practice, except now it's through the whole day. I'd imagine that if I walked away from it and tried to go back to living in solidity and not constantly applying dharma awareness, these nanas would throw my life off and make me feel edgy. There is a feeling of safety though, having suddenly brought about these things by my own applied effort, and not having experience much anything like this before. So I find this to be a safety net, as in practice you are strictly observing, and not getting lost in content. "My life" is always content, but from this strict vipassana mindset, it's all just practice and the things on the way to arhatship.

With that said, let's continue with the progress of vibes. So now it's a full-fledged tingle fest, a storm peaking out. I think to myself that this would be a terrible thing to be feeling constantly through life, and also feel in awe that I could have been alive all these times and not have realized what a raging storm of vibrations experience now seems to be. This naturally leads to the thought that merely seeing this full storm raging isn't the end of things, and that surely there's distance to be covered between this storm of vibes and arhatship. This then becomes a calm and collected intent on going further, whatever that is. It isn't a wish for the vibes to go away or anything, as I'm keeping a fairly strict perspective on this as I consider feelings to be just more sensations to place awareness on. However, what it does result in is a feeling of calm amidst all these vibes. I think of that story of Jesus on a boat when the storm starts going nuts, and his disciples start tripping out and panicking. Jesus, being the stud of a pro he is, doesn't get worried and refutes them for even being panicked, asking if they don't have any faith. He then, still being the stud of a pro he is, calms the storm.

Anyways, that is what seemed to have happened. I was leaving class, walking across campus in this super-vibes, everything tingling, jarring, intense state, while remaining objective and not feeling very shaken inside the head. After a moment, I just sat down, with this whirlwind of experience all around me. I closed my eyes and continued to practice more strongly, now that I was sitting in one place. Even through all the tingles and flashes and cascading waves, there was a peace. I couldn't really seem to find where it was though. I started looking inside my head, which seemed to be the hardest place to turn to tingles. The tingles were there, but that calm something was buried beneath it all, I could tell. The storm of vibes made it easy to tell that I wasn't part of the storm, since I, on the level I can discern deepest, didn't seem to be jarred around like everything else. This was good feeling.

I sat again later, and just dealt with the vibe storm. At no point have I really panicked or fretted about the changes that have occurred in the past few days of beginning my practice, and I haven't yet. There was, however, a deeper frustration with not knowing where that deep, calm "me" was that I couldn't perceive and bust into vibrations. I busted the frustration into vibes. Then, I kinda eased up on it all, remembering what I've read about surrender. The storm was still happening and perception was still fast, but I wasn't trying so hard to penetrate it. It was like I had just gone limp, rather than any kind of struggle or attempt to rescue or go deeper into the storm.

Then, as I was waiting for the bus, I ran into friends and began to chat and such. It's just simply harder to stay as present as when I'm just sitting, not being socially engaged. I noticed all throughout today that social interaction has no awkwardness, no edginess, and no self-consciousness that it usually does. It felt so good for this to be this way. It was like I could say and articulate things quite well, and not feel like I was holding up some face.

Anyways, as we were walking from one bus to the next bus, I tuned back in to the practice. The tingles were definitely still there, but they were subdued and not so chaotic. I'm not sure if by stopping practice, I had regressed in the cycle or what, but things were just peaceful. I was very calm, and felt wise. It was like the sun was out again. I still felt that dreamlike, flu-like quality, and things were still deconstructing and breaking into vibrations right away when I looked, but there was a "so what?" quality to this. It was just peace. It was okay. It was a mood that was so not good and so not bad that I felt so still. It was like the waves of vibrations was still going on, but I had floated up into the sky where even ten foot waves were simply beneath me.

This sounds like equanimity to me, and I feel suddenly like my progress knows no limits. I feel like as long as I keep breaking content down into sensations and keep tracing where I am on the map, I can navigate all the way to arhatship. And that is indeed my plan. Practice feels very easy and profound. Pain, itches, and highly unpleasant sensations seem like gold right now and are not at all painful, itchy, or at all unpleasant. They're a golden opportunity for me to look into the fact that something inside of me is "knowing" these sensations to be painful or itchy or unpleasant. But if I'm not affected by them and don't care to relieve these feelings, what is it that is knowing these feelings to be painful or itchy or unpleasant? Hmm...

I honestly didn't expect practice to go by so fast. Part of this is probably from the general feeling people get when they think of monks training for decades and retreating to solitude for life and being extremely strict and particular about every minuscule aspect of not only practice, but how difficult it should be. This is a breeze though. Even the unpleasant things are a breeze. Knowing that you can immediately deconstruct any thing you perceive is extremely empowering, and allows me to either deal with the sensations as they are, or if that fails, go deeper to see what it is in my head or wherever that is receiving these sensations.

There's a feeling to all of this, as though I'm about to leave. It feels like I'm packing up my bags and disconnecting. Actually, it feels like things are all going in the direction of up. It feels like the train is going upwards through my body, and all the vibes are moving in that general direction, being activated in that direction, and breaking out or something. Dunno. It's hard to say and it's not really something to be hung up on. But then again, in this state, I can analyze things including content to a large extent and it's not debasing or contrary to practice. Or, I can sit and just be empty as these things occur and watch without much effort, and that is also cool. I really do feel like this is equanimity.

I'm gonna sit for a bit. I'd love some feedback on this one.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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4/30/12 3:31 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
I don't post too much over here, more over at KFD but, this all sounds like A&P phenomenon to me.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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4/30/12 3:46 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
It's all sounding quite natural and positive, but I'd be wary of self-diagnosis when you're not familiar with the maps.

From your descriptions, I'd say you're in Dissolution and not Equanimity yet. In your sits, you're likely to cycle from 1st to 11th nana until you land stream entry so, while you might be hitting that general territory, it hasn't become the perceptual baseline. This is worth knowing as it's easy to become complacent, however given that your practice seems strong and you're clearly determined I can't see that being an issue as long as you're willing to thoroughly investigate whatever arises.

While progress can be made relatively quickly, given enough precise and dedicated practice, it doesn't help to go hell for leather all the time 'cause you miss the finer points; the territory traversed has so many subtleties and things which are easy to miss, things that could, in the long run, mean the difference between Path and cycling for another six months. Also, your practice is very new and all manner of events which appear mind blowing will actually become fairly normal over time. Don't get ahead of yourself, it's not worth it.

Those of us on here who claim 4th path, and particularly those who may seem to have done it in a relatively short time, have generally come to this with a long history of practice in various meditative techniques and have, like yourself, been naturally inclined towards insight practice. Don't assume that you're going to coast it and hit Arahat within the year, it's not to say that you can't but, based on my own experience and that of others on here, it's unlikely as the insights develop and deeper over time. One of the problems with having crossed the A&P is that you can get a bit carried away, the confidence and certainty you're experiencing just now may change considerably in the coming weeks but this is where a strong practice routine comes in handy.

Take it easy, go with whatever arises and don't fight or try to change anything.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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4/30/12 3:50 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
OK, so Tommy said it way more eloquently than myself. emoticon Easy to get carried away with all of the energy from crossing the A&P. Things will settle, but keep your momentum and enthusiasm, no matter what comes up.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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4/30/12 5:12 PM as a reply to Russell ..
Well, I just sat and tried to remove myself from all the intense vibrations, generally trying to quiet it all down and, in a way... concentrate. That isn't to say that it was a concentration practice, but basically, I was trying to gather myself, as I've heard you ought to "unify it all", letting yourself ease into all the vibrations. The pains and aches and itches started to get very intense at this point.

Interestingly enough, after I let go and what I thought to be the removal of aversion to these things, I started to get an INTENSE shaking. The last experience I had that I thought was A&P was limited mostly to upper body/neck/head. However, this one was a strong, steady, and intense shaking in my base at first. It came in waves, and then finally, as I really let it all go, the shaking really overcame me and it was a rapture much like the last one, except 10 times more intense. It lasted for about a minute, rather than just a short blip. I didn't really know what happened. I was looking for path, thinking that was where I was, but this was... A&P? I'm not sure. This was so, so overwhelming though. My whole spine was just raw and sore after this.

However, there are some interesting after effects. Everything was so bright afterwards. There was this romantic glow afterwards, like it was some kind of blurred yet sharpened, bright reality. It was so overwhelming. Details are extremely clear. I'm also extremely happy!

But, this begs the question... was this the true A&P event? I mean... I guess time will tell. But this time, it felt like such a full rapture. Overwhelming. Just... blown away. Can raptures happen after A&P? Do they tend to be more intense after? Or what? I'm not really sure about this one. In the dark. Further practice will clear it up. So will time. At least, that's what I think. I'm gonna chill for the rest of the day and see what happens.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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4/30/12 6:21 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Well, I just sat and tried to remove myself from all the intense vibrations, generally trying to quiet it all down and, in a way... concentrate. That isn't to say that it was a concentration practice, but basically, I was trying to gather myself, as I've heard you ought to "unify it all", letting yourself ease into all the vibrations. The pains and aches and itches started to get very intense at this point.

Don't "remove" yourself from anything, go with the sensations that arise 'cause they're going to come up whether you like it or not. There's a balance involved between concentration and insight so doing what feels natural here doesn't hurt, particularly if you're noticing uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations as being able to just accept and process what's being perceived is where the good stuff is. The thing about "unify it all" may not be appropriate for your current stage, which appears to be the earlier stages of Dark Night; this is 3rd jhana territory and the focus of attention is very much on the periphery, see what happens if you just let your focus relax and naturally observe what's happening towards the edge of your attention.

Interestingly enough, after I let go and what I thought to be the removal of aversion to these things, I started to get an INTENSE shaking. The last experience I had that I thought was A&P was limited mostly to upper body/neck/head. However, this one was a strong, steady, and intense shaking in my base at first. It came in waves, and then finally, as I really let it all go, the shaking really overcame me and it was a rapture much like the last one, except 10 times more intense. It lasted for about a minute, rather than just a short blip. I didn't really know what happened. I was looking for path, thinking that was where I was, but this was... A&P? I'm not sure. This was so, so overwhelming though. My whole spine was just raw and sore after this.

As I mentioned in another reply to you, you'll cycle through the ñanas up to Equanimity and back until you hit Path so what you've described is just a standard progression. The shaking and raptures are A&P-related, they're commonly called kriyas and are pretty typical. Relax. Sit with that and see if you can catch them as they arise, stay with them until they pass and watch how they constantly change. Look at what sorts of mental states arises, where attention moves, how it happens, basically just pay attention and notice what's happening. I've been left feeling as though I've just had the shit kicked out of me after a sit, purely due to the intensity of that shaking, so just remember that it's all par for the course.

However, there are some interesting after effects. Everything was so bright afterwards. There was this romantic glow afterwards, like it was some kind of blurred yet sharpened, bright reality. It was so overwhelming. Details are extremely clear. I'm also extremely happy!

Strong practice cleans up perception in the most exquisite of ways...but don't get complacent 'cause it's all just fodder for insight. Enjoy it, by all means, but don't cling to any phenomena or experience whatsoever. Also, sometimes the eyes can become very sensitive to light which may go some way to explaining, in non-meditation terms, what you're noticing. Take your time, don't rush or you'll miss it. emoticon

But, this begs the question... was this the true A&P event?

Maybe, but going by your initial posts and descriptions of what occurred before I'd say it's more likely to have been cycling-related. Again, don't get hung up on the terminological or map-related stuff; notice it and move on.

I mean... I guess time will tell.

Indeed.

But this time, it felt like such a full rapture. Overwhelming. Just... blown away.

Note it. Move on.

Something else worth looking into is what, for you, constitutes a "full rapture"?
On what would you base such a comparison, other than more transient mental phenomena in the form of a memory?
What sensations make up a "full rapture" or a not-"full rapture" and how are they any different to any other sensation?
Can you find a self in them?
Are they permanent?
Are they satisfying to cling to or avoid?

Can raptures happen after A&P?

Yes.

Do they tend to be more intense after?

Variable depending on the practitioner. Note it. Move on.

Or what? I'm not really sure about this one.

That right there is the way you want to be looking at things: You don't need to know what's going to happen next, all you can possibly ever investigate is what's happening now. What's gone before only exists as a memory, you're here right now and this is where you'll gain insight. Stay curious.

Questions?

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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4/30/12 11:04 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thanks. I reread that a few times. Your advice sounds very helpful and thorough. It's nice to know there's such a body of support related to developments of meditation. There's quite a "down the rabbit hole" feeling in this, and it's nice to know that others who have navigated this territory are there to offer support. There is a very grateful feeling because of this!

A few questions...

Also, sometimes the eyes can become very sensitive to light which may go some way to explaining, in non-meditation terms, what you're noticing.


Could you explain what you mean by this?

I understand that maps only go so far and that the nature of experience firsthand in observing phenomenon is the true teacher. However, I've been practicing using maps of insight to help give myself clues on how to tweak practice, with a possible direction to get to. This seems to be helping me find progress, and offering positive reinforcement as I get an idea of experiences I have and how they may be related to insights that others have noticed. This also seems to help by giving me many ideas to play around with, almost like different study guides to the metaphorical texts I'm studying. It's like piano for me. As a pianist and composer, the styles and personal realizations of the laws of harmony by great composers gone by is of great value to me and I study them extensively. They even shape the way in which I build my own sense of harmony and style, and cue me in on what seem to be solid laws of harmony. However, in the end, it was really only my ears listening, my heart feeling, and my construction and study that led to my own personal development in harmony and compositional style.

With that being said, could you explain cycling? How exactly does this work? Is the nana of re-observation a way of simply saying, generally, people cycle through the nanas of dukkha after crossing the A&P? Do people seem to start at mind and body and work up from there, get to a peak, and then recede, each time attempting to get farther? I've noticed that many times, feelings come in waves, and seem to be carving out cycles of some sort. There's a sort of predictability to the chest feeling leading to an overall state of more waves all over to a shift to what's in my head, which is useful, since it makes me feel like I'm learning to traverse this practice. I understand that whatever phenomenon is present is the one that is important, but my experience thus far makes me feel good about using the maps to look at my experience and modify my applied effort in different ways to feel my way around.

I've calmed down quite a bit since earlier and have just been chilling with a friend today.

I'm thinking of testing out the jhanas tonight. I have a question about that too. I'd imagine once I have a well worn and navigated
"map" of my own experience, using other maps will be less necessary. But there is convenience in the functionality of maps and their terminology, and the way this allows for communication. Anyways, I read about 20 strata of mind on Kenneth's website. I've also read a bit about the idea of vipassana jhanas. What are your takes on the idea that jhanas are stable strata where the mind can rest? This seems reasonable to me; sometimes the feeling I get in practice is cool, calm, collected, and more stable seeming, in contrast to chaotic, shaking, edgy, and neurotic. I've read about how doing jhanas can help sharpen concentration and increase some kind of depth/awareness aspect to vipassana. I used to try jhana for about a month, but I just didn't seem to make much progress. I believe this was due to not realizing how unpleasant sensations aren't faults and the unrealistic attempt on some level to deny their existence and "jhana them out". I think it's good I started vipassana because not only have I generally felt like I've done something useful, but I also feel like my mental faculties are expanding. For me, this is the difference between doing scales and mechanical exercises vs. learning a piece built from a little of this and a little of that. If you just jump into the piece with at least somewhat moderate faculties, you can learn the techniques and mechanical skill while applying them to the real task of solving and learning the piece. I suspect some degree of similarity between jhana and vipassana.

I wonder, if there is some truth to strata of mind and the jhanas being stable nanas, and insight practice causing you to cycle through experienced territory, then might I be able to surf the cycle till I hit a spot that feels nice, chill out my awareness to not be so electric and deconstructing, and thus find my way to jhana. I wonder if it would be better to just start from scratch, trying to do jhana straight from the sit without using my vipassana style practice. I wonder if there is considerable in-between territory. These are questions I like to ask in order to have different directions to probe as I try to solve problems and go in new directions. You have excellent advice for vipassana, but what would you say about jhana? And in regards to practice of jhana while pursuing the practice of vipassana? The use of jhana with vipassana? How the two relate?

I suppose that's a lot of things to ask at once, but I'm just letting my curiosity flow. If my questions or writing at all leads to information that can be of benefit, then it is worth it to ask, even if some questions are not phrased in a good way, if some experiences are not dealt with correctly, or if some confusion happens in trying to figure it all out and communicate it. Experience seems to show me that exercising curiosity and using communication to connect to others and their experiences is an excellent way to learn and investigate.


Thanks again for your thorough help. I'll keep at this!

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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5/1/12 4:25 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Anytime! As long as it's useful to you, I'm happy with that.

Could you explain what you mean by this?

I should really have explained that a bit better; what I meant was that through sitting with your eyes closed and in a concentrated state, your eyes are likely to become more sensitive to the light when you get up from your practice. Basically it's the same as sitting in a darkened room then going outside. The reason I mentioned it is because the visual clarity you're noticing after a sit could well be down to something as simple as this, rather than being related to the meditation itself. I just like to suggest more than one possibility 'cause, particularly in the early stages of practice and even more so after the A&P Event itself, it's easy to try to manipulate your experience, consciously or unconsciously, to fit your expectations.

However, I've been practicing using maps of insight to help give myself clues on how to tweak practice, with a possible direction to get to. This seems to be helping me find progress, and offering positive reinforcement as I get an idea of experiences I have and how they may be related to insights that others have noticed.

That's fine, conceptual maps are tools; thinking of them in the same way you'd think of a road map is useful, they're a guide through the general territory but they can't ever contain all of the possible experiences and idiosyncratic variations of how this stuff happens. Sometimes it's worth taking the scenic route from time to time, explore the landscape and have fun with it.

It's like piano for me. As a pianist and composer, the styles and personal realizations of the laws of harmony by great composers gone by is of great value to me and I study them extensively. They even shape the way in which I build my own sense of harmony and style, and cue me in on what seem to be solid laws of harmony. However, in the end, it was really only my ears listening, my heart feeling, and my construction and study that led to my own personal development in harmony and compositional style.

I like the way you describe this, it's useful to be able to express these things in your own metaphors as they're the symbolic representations of your own experiences. You're also talking about a very useful insight into this here, you're seeing how those "what seem to be solid laws of harmony" are actually just another conceptual overlay to assist in understanding what you're working with. You're aware that, when you remove all of the ideas and concepts, you're just left with the pure sensate experience of the fingers dancing over the keys, the ears receiving the auditory vibrations and your own emotional reaction to the music. This is where the insight is: In the ever-changing interplay of the six sense doors.

With that being said, could you explain cycling? How exactly does this work? Is the nana of re-observation a way of simply saying, generally, people cycle through the nanas of dukkha after crossing the A&P? Do people seem to start at mind and body and work up from there, get to a peak, and then recede, each time attempting to get farther?

Cycling is exactly what it sounds like - You go 'round in circles over and over, but this is part of the process and leads to deeper insights as you repeatedly investigate, what appears to be, the same territory. Until you hit 1st path, you'll cycle from Mind & Body up to Equanimity, if your practice is strong enough at least; after 1st path, and until you start the cycle towards 2nd path, you'll start each sit at the A&P and should progress up to Fruition in each sit.

Your perceptual baseline will continually change with your practice, you'll progress through each insight stage as part of a greater cycle but you'll also cycle through them during a sit. It's not that complicated but it's something that'll become clearer as your practice develops. You're basically right when you say that people "get to a peak, and then recede", the point to which you recede will depend on where you're at within the cycle itself.

I'd imagine once I have a well worn and navigated "map" of my own experience, using other maps will be less necessary. But there is convenience in the functionality of maps and their terminology, and the way this allows for communication.

Aye, that's generally the case. It's just useful to have a set of mutually understandable terms with which to communicate 'cause this stuff is sometimes so subtle and almost imperceptible that it helps to be able to describe it in phenomenological detail.

Anyways, I read about 20 strata of mind on Kenneth's website. I've also read a bit about the idea of vipassana jhanas. What are your takes on the idea that jhanas are stable strata where the mind can rest? This seems reasonable to me; sometimes the feeling I get in practice is cool, calm, collected, and more stable seeming, in contrast to chaotic, shaking, edgy, and neurotic.

It's a useful way to describe them, definitely. This is something that'll become clearer with practice too.

I used to try jhana for about a month, but I just didn't seem to make much progress. I believe this was due to not realizing how unpleasant sensations aren't faults and the unrealistic attempt on some level to deny their existence and "jhana them out".

It's more likely to have been down to not having a good technique, when you're practicing samatha you're fixing attention on one object as opposed to vipassana where you're flitting from one object to the next. You'll encounter jhanic territory via vipassana and vice-versa, they're not mutually exclusive practices.

For me, this is the difference between doing scales and mechanical exercises vs. learning a piece built from a little of this and a little of that. If you just jump into the piece with at least somewhat moderate faculties, you can learn the techniques and mechanical skill while applying them to the real task of solving and learning the piece. I suspect some degree of similarity between jhana and vipassana.

Nicely put. The distinction between vipassana and samatha isn't present in the original Pali texts, in practice you'll see why this is the case. It's a useful distinction though, at least for the moment because it'll allow you to develop both skills seperately before being able to combine them.

I wonder, if there is some truth to strata of mind and the jhanas being stable nanas, and insight practice causing you to cycle through experienced territory, then might I be able to surf the cycle till I hit a spot that feels nice, chill out my awareness to not be so electric and deconstructing, and thus find my way to jhana.

Again, keep in mind that descriptions like "strata of mind" and "stable ñanas" are just more labels, more conceptual overlay so don't get caught up in the theoretical stuff. It doesn't generally happen in the way you describe, what you're saying sounds more like insight practice as you're noticing specific details; if you want to practice jhana, do breath counting or use a kasina object like a plain coloured bowl.

I wonder if it would be better to just start from scratch, trying to do jhana straight from the sit without using my vipassana style practice. I wonder if there is considerable in-between territory.

At first it's definitely worth practicing the two seperately, even using the first half of your sit to practice jhana before moving onto insight practice is worthwhile. Concentration practice calms the mind and temporarily suppresses the hindrances. There is no in-between territory really, it's a matter of (what seems to be) stability vs. investigation which leads to the deconstruction of that perceived stability.

You have excellent advice for vipassana, but what would you say about jhana? And in regards to practice of jhana while pursuing the practice of vipassana? The use of jhana with vipassana? How the two relate?

Jhana can be very straightforward, it just takes practice and knowing what it is that you're looking for. Some people think that a jhana is going to be some spectacular state of bliss and awesomeness, which it can be, but it's not usually the case until your practice improves. Remember that there isn't really a distinction between samatha and vipassana, it's just convenient to practice them as if there were so that you can develop your skills in both. In terms of practice advice:

1. Breath counting - Count the breath in cycles of 10 (with the whole inhale/exhale cycle being counted as "1") and see how long you can stay with the entire breath for. This is the most basic but effective technique I've ever used.

2. Kasinas - Basically these are just an external object on which you focus your attention; get yourself a plain bowl, or cut out a card circle or something like that, just a simple geometric shape to focus on. Sit down with the object about arms length in front of you and gaze at it, it will move around, change colour and do all sorts of wacky shit but just stay with the object regardless.

I'll post some links at the bottom to some other pieces that I, or some of the other folks on here, have written about this 'cause it's not as difficult as it can seem.

I suppose that's a lot of things to ask at once, but I'm just letting my curiosity flow. If my questions or writing at all leads to information that can be of benefit, then it is worth it to ask, even if some questions are not phrased in a good way, if some experiences are not dealt with correctly, or if some confusion happens in trying to figure it all out and communicate it. Experience seems to show me that exercising curiosity and using communication to connect to others and their experiences is an excellent way to learn and investigate.

It's cool, I'd rather you got the advice you needed than have you spinning in circles not knowing how to practice best. We're all in this together anyway, there's a wealth of information on here and a lot of strong practitioners from various styles so ask away and you'll, more than likely, get the answers you're looking for.

Check out these links in the meantime and see if there's anything of use to you:

The Hamilton Project - This is one of the best resources for practical advice and techniques, it's mainly written by Nikolai from on here but he really knows his stuff and it's worth bookmarking.
Interactive Buddha - Daniel's website which is also full of great info and advice.
Down to Earth Dharma - An article I wrote on "access concentration" which may be of use, I don't have a lot of stuff on this blog yet but I'll hopefully get more stuff up in the coming months.

That's a few I've got bookmarked here but I'll see if there's anything else I can suggest.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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5/1/12 3:22 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thanks again!

I've actually happened upon your article before! I'll poke around the other stuff some more.

Today is pretty mild compared to yesterday. Things feel more "normal" than they did yesterday, but with subtle differences. Sensations seem to be more broad and cover larger areas, whereas before they seemed more zeroed in. There's also this odd thing I keep running into where I'll get sensations from up in the back of my head, almost from behind my body. This seems to be happening when I zone out. Zoning out also seems to be happening a lot, but this could just be from how tired I feel today. Motivation is definitely not as strong, but whenever I feel tingles or such, it prompts me to investigate and do a little noting. It doesn't feel so momentous like yesterday, but it's still on the burner.

I just did a formal sit, starting with vipassana. It seemed so mild and chill. It wasn't really hard to tune into things, but like I said, sensations seemed to be more spread out over larger areas. I have no interpretation for this; it is what it is. Or, if I wanna sound studious, it was what it was, and then utterly vanished. Haha. I've been poking around the threads and I see how silly people sound sometimes when they get so into being strictly dogmatic, or dhar-matic, automatically, that they miss intent behind messages, chastise for wrong views ("you said "I'm going to work"! There is no I! You can't say that! Ahhhh!"), or in general sound like they aren't really interested in the very simple and down to earth idea of people just trying to learn a skill and communicate as humans. I might have been like that a bit before I read Ingram's book and realized how closed-minded we can be to things we think are serious business. I think to myself, some people seem to just like the idea of being in a holy, new age community, rooting themselves to that idea. But this is so mobile, so dynamic. Sure, it's a community on some level, but as far as the primary purpose, it isn't really a community; it's a commute.

Tangent. Hehe.

Anyways, it was really chill and calm. I thought I might try some concentration practice on breath. I kept getting distracted, just like before I started vipassana. However, when I did get distracted, the realization of this came within seconds, and there was a markedly detached feeling towards this. Some people yell at their kids for being kids, despair at their kids acting like kids, and do things to make their kids adults while they still mysteriously remain kids. But kids will grow up, and it's just nature for them to be kids. I felt somewhat like that when the mind would wander. There was also a feeling of no continuity of moment, as the distracted moment was just a moment that I happened to see with my attention. It didn't seem tied to the last, or like the concentration had gone bad. It just seemed like binary. Things were either this or that. Concentration was there or not there. I s'pose that's the vipassana flavor. Having this detached and nonchalant feeling towards it prevented feelings of frustration from arising or getting any good grip on me, which is good since I used to practice concentration and just practice in frustration and walk away with that feeling. This seems to help me. I don't need to turn "me" into some concentrated dude, I just need to look at the frames I've previously been busting apart and see what they're doing altogether and how they appear. Maybe. Of course, this is just speculation from my experience thus far.

I was thinking about the past today. On car rides, I always used to watch the dotted lines in the road go by, tapping my finger whenever they passed some sort of visual boundary like the car frame. It got easy, so eventually I added in trees, other cars on the other side of the road, poles, etc. and eventually just did it with my mind. Maybe this could explain how I somehow found my way to a practice which is not all too different.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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5/1/12 5:04 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
By the way, do you have a practice log? Where do you find yourself as far as attainment?

More ramblings, as this seems the best place to do it.

I've taken mushrooms a few times before. One such experience, perhaps the most real, was this:

I was in my friends house and immediately, things just shifted in perception. They were very edgy, nerve-wracking, and neurotic, in an exciting way. Eventually, the experience became so complicated, yet perception felt very clear and I felt like I was doing work. I'm pretty sure I just sat for a good hour or more. The first thing that really happens is uncontrollable shivers. These are almost rapture-like, now that I have an actual, intentional meditation-induced rapture to compare it to. Isn't laughter a rapture of sorts? Yawning? Shivering? Crying? Anyways, shivers and an immense cold overcame me, along with those neurotic, edgy feelings. Eventually, my mind got to the point where I just "knew" the police knew and were already arresting my parents and on their way to come get me. The fear was intense and so real. I knew that this wasn't ultimate reality though. My logical brain knew that this just simply wasn't possible due to my own isolated and secret change in chemistry.

However, it was still intensely real. Although all these things were happening, the rational mind was still working, so I was never just tripping out stupidly, seeing these things as absolutely true. I knew no cops were coming. But the feeling... Just so nerve-wracking. Almost straight panic. Staring out the window, just waiting for the cops, even as my rational brain somehow still knew perfectly well that I was safe. It was just the feeling. And that there is separation of mind of mind and body, I think. I think psychedelics should only be taken by those who can keep anchored in rationality while experiencing what is happening without being knocked out of rationale. I realized how odd it was for the paranoia to be there even with me, the rational dude somewhere inside, perfectly separate from the fear. Then, the focus became this: how is it that I can harbor these intense feelings of paranoia and fear and yet still see them from a different, rational, safe place? How incredibly painful of a question that was, and to be living, embodied in that very contradiction. I wanted so badly for that contradiction to be resolved. But still, there was immense peace in somehow being able to separate some fuzzy "me" from all the fear and questions and all that. It was my refuge as I navigated the stormy waters. I felt like I kinda locked on to the contradiction, and my awareness seemed to shift from the paranoia itself, to the relationship between the paranoia and the self that didn't experience the paranoia, to the contradiction, to the fact that I was stuck there even aware of it all.

So, eventually, this paranoia subsided, and at the same time as the shivers. I was wrapped in a blanket, shivering my whole soul out, but then a point came where the shivers were suddenly gone, along with the paranoia. I shed the blanket, as if arising from the terror. How liberating! I felt the fire from the skin on my body. Then, it was bodily stuff. How odd, these hands. How odd, these feelings. How strange and alien. How separate, from the one analyzing them. How disgusting and lumpy. How comical it was as well, to see this and only not be overcome by it by seeing it as it was. It was like a big joke. So funny, that moments ago that my lump of self was consumed by this odd, immense paranoia. I was now just fine. Totally just fine! Amazingly just fine! I had moved on. Now I was just sitting, still as a tree, branches swaying in the wind, but rooted firmly. I saw the good sensations just like the bad. There was a peace greater than any paranoia or terror that could strike, greater than any disgust in my contradictory embodiment of that unshaken self connected to a myriad of endless storms coming from horizon to horizon. It made me laugh, but the peace was so much deeper than even a laugh, deeper than a smile, deeper than even the content itself.

The carpet was a twisting, dancing mural of life, and the cat and all my friends were these other beings attached to the dancing mural, twisting and going from here to there. Even when looking down, my body was twisting and dancing with this mural. Even my feelings, coming and going, were connected to it. But me? I was just separate. Unshakable. This was the ultimate feeling. It was a feeling without feeling. It was a feeling that made me feel like I could look at the mural and see right back to my birth, and see right up to my death. It made me feel like death was already there, like birth was already there. Birth and death were dancing, like tongues of flames licking at everything. Nothing in my perception seemed to escape being consumed. Nothing except whatever I thought was the peaceful, radiant, brilliant me. I just soaked it in. I felt as though a glowing, radiant Buddha, just sitting and glowing, amidst the ever changing, dancing mural of life. I had won this. It wasn't just some drug thing. Several experiences came to me and went, as teachers. They were really just birth and death, dancing together and leading me on to where I had gotten. I had remained unshaken through the shaken, calm through the paranoia, high during the low, low during the high, left during the right, right during the left, dead during the life, and alive throughout the death. I hadn't turned away, logged out, checked out, ran away, or let myself be scared. I had remained studious and strong like a mountain. To this day, I still vividly get the image in my mind of a Buddha I know is me, sitting there with that feeling, amidst all sorts of odd, twisting and turning vibrations and beams of light. It is attached to some kind of significance. Ingram talks about a dharmic gravity that pulls you into the center, and this image resonates strongly with that. If I smoke or drink or get into trouble, or when I'm in a bad mood, or even just whenever, that image comes to mind and leaves a powerful feeling behind.

Anyways, after that peak of clarity, things tapered off and seemed to get more normal, as I began to move, use the restroom, talk to friends, etc. Later, the same paranoia happened, with the same general pattern of thought playing out. Eventually, instead of thinking the police were going to come, I thought I was going to die right then and there. I laid down, as it was late, and wrapped up inside my blanket, and just said, so be it. It was again peaceful, and I went to sleep.

When I had that last rapture yesterday, that radiant image unexpectedly came to mind very strongly for just a moment, and sorta faded off, leaving what seemed like a fractal of infinite auras, like those weird egg-women that each contain a smaller one that can in turn be opened.

Another interesting thing. Another time when I had taken mushrooms with my friend in the forest, it got to the point where he didn't seem much different than me. Looking at his face, it almost seemed like he was me. I convinced myself that there really wasn't much of a difference. Interestingly enough, since starting practice, this effect has happened to some extent, first with him, then with lots of people. Actually, lots of things seem to be happening as they did when I was having mushroom experiences. I've even seen the floor doing the weird twirl thing to a subtle extent at times. It's interesting. Mushrooms are indeed special, and a tool for those who wish to see inside.

Wow, that was a lot of writing. I find that when I write things out, things become clear when reading them. It's quite clear that mushrooms lead to insight. I didn't know anything about Buddhism at the time of that experience. However, looking back at that golden moment of radiance and peace separate from what were confusing dualities, it sounds a lot like equanimity. I don't really know much about the difference between low equanimity/high equanimity and all that.

I'm also having this thought... stages of insight seem to be various formulas for fractals of the three characteristics. It all seems to be very fractal-like.

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5/1/12 8:00 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Just tried some kasina practice. I'd never imagined one could stare at a yo-yo and do such things. There was some interesting light play/glow, and even the appearance of the chair it was on swiveling around. I just focused and followed. This seemed cyclical in a way, like the intensity and level of concentration was coming in waves. Once I tapered off, I realized the buzzing was going crazy. I decided to switch to vipassana from there.

So now that I look at the maps and consider my own experience, it seems that I cycled up through mind and body/cause and effect (still not really familiar enough with what exactly the experience is, but I know I'm passing them) to the A&P, then back down and up. It also seems like the speed of the cycling is getting faster and that each time around, the nanas are more intense. For example, whereas before, there would be some itches, then many all over, then just vibration throughout, then perhaps some kind of rapture/cumulation of vibes into an orgasmic type thing, now it is more defined. I feel good (maybe this is the mind/body bit), then warm up the perception with some fast switching (or today, kasina), then let go of the reins. Then, the itches and pains will feel quite a bit stronger. There will be a strong feeling of adrenaline in my abdomen/heart, and it seems to be getting stronger and stronger each time around, as well as coming on much quicker from the initial pains which I know will result in this. Then, the adrenaline feeling will meld all the pains and itches into tingling all over. This is now beginning to include a sense of behind the eyes, although my sense of self doesn't seem to be shaking. Then, it'll back off, things will seem to just be tingling and such, until they fade. Then, it'll all just happen again and again. Familiarity is nice here since it is a practice of skill, and familiarity offers relativity as far as what your skill is doing. I would imagine that these cycles speed and speed until the top tier gives way into the new territory.

I didn't try to push over the A&P, and am trying to feel the cycle. I'm also home with my mom and I don't usually sit in meditation when visible, due to religious differences and scrutiny this would bring. I'm just sitting in a chair at my desk. But anyways, a rapture would be a very hard thing to explain and I'm not really familiar with raptures yet so I'm being conservative and exploring this cycling aspect that is beginning to become clear. It's clear that there is a feeling I've gotten after rapture not included in the cycle I was just exploring, which becomes diffuse and very relaxed, but it has the feeling of being a point pushed off from the rapture. I'm curious if I can get there without intense raptures. I'm also wondering how the dukkha nanas play out after A&P. It sounds like after the A&P event, the dukkha nanas will generally just happen. I'm thinking the fact that the A&P is new to me explains why I haven't been "launched" into that territory, as A&P is still generally not a height I think I get to when I don't practice. Also, looking back on a few days ago where I was running around school noting all day, it looks like I was indeed cycling up to A&P and perhaps touching on dissolution. I'm thinking feelings of adrenaline in the chest and stomach are related to the 3 C's, and that the dukkha nanas will probably be more fundamentally shaking than just bodily sensations.

Forgive me if I go overboard on journaling and make it overwhelming to follow. It's as much for me as anyone else, as writing seems to help me take in what I've experienced. I also think the A&P area makes me go a little nuts, like speed or crack or something. Haha... I even asked my professor this, out of the blue, before class: "Don't you think taking a girl out for water would be a good date? I mean... everybody drinks; you can't go wrong".
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She gave me a quite incredulous look, and then just walked away.
Ahahaha... it's cause I touched on the nana of first date.

But in all seriousness, I'm watching out for going overboard with energy. I think I share a bit too much dharma with my friends who can't relate at all to this and mostly think I'm crazy. But they're cool and you do have to share things with your friends when you're overwhelmed with thoughts.

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5/2/12 4:07 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Today is pretty mild compared to yesterday. Things feel more "normal" than they did yesterday, but with subtle differences. Sensations seem to be more broad and cover larger areas, whereas before they seemed more zeroed in. There's also this odd thing I keep running into where I'll get sensations from up in the back of my head, almost from behind my body. This seems to be happening when I zone out. Zoning out also seems to be happening a lot, but this could just be from how tired I feel today. Motivation is definitely not as strong, but whenever I feel tingles or such, it prompts me to investigate and do a little noting. It doesn't feel so momentous like yesterday, but it's still on the burner.

This all sounds like you're moving through Dissolution, the way sensations "seem to be more broad and cover larger areas" is what I was talking about when describing what goes on in 3rd jhana, and the zoning out is also quite common. It sounds like you're staying present though and doing what needs to be done to continue, it's just a case of observing and accepting whatever arises; note it accurately and try to experience as much of each sensation as possible when you're practicing.

I just did a formal sit, starting with vipassana. It seemed so mild and chill. It wasn't really hard to tune into things, but like I said, sensations seemed to be more spread out over larger areas. I have no interpretation for this; it is what it is.

It's all good, early-3rd jhana territory, look at how the endings of sensations may be more apparent than their beginnings but try to see them clearly anyway. Where do those sensations go when they appear to pass away? Where do they come from when they appear to arise? What's going on in-between them?!

Or, if I wanna sound studious, it was what it was, and then utterly vanished. Haha.

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I've been poking around the threads and I see how silly people sound sometimes when they get so into being strictly dogmatic, or dhar-matic, automatically, that they miss intent behind messages, chastise for wrong views ("you said "I'm going to work"! There is no I! You can't say that! Ahhhh!"), or in general sound like they aren't really interested in the very simple and down to earth idea of people just trying to learn a skill and communicate as humans. I might have been like that a bit before I read Ingram's book and realized how closed-minded we can be to things we think are serious business. I think to myself, some people seem to just like the idea of being in a holy, new age community, rooting themselves to that idea. But this is so mobile, so dynamic. Sure, it's a community on some level, but as far as the primary purpose, it isn't really a community; it's a commute.

It's great that you've been able to see through the potential bullshit already, it's such a complex landscape involved with this stuff and miscommunication is all too easy. The attitude you've got towards this should stand you in good stead.

Anyways, it was really chill and calm. I thought I might try some concentration practice on breath. I kept getting distracted, just like before I started vipassana. However, when I did get distracted, the realization of this came within seconds, and there was a markedly detached feeling towards this. Some people yell at their kids for being kids, despair at their kids acting like kids, and do things to make their kids adults while they still mysteriously remain kids. But kids will grow up, and it's just nature for them to be kids. I felt somewhat like that when the mind would wander. There was also a feeling of no continuity of moment, as the distracted moment was just a moment that I happened to see with my attention. It didn't seem tied to the last, or like the concentration had gone bad. It just seemed like binary. Things were either this or that. Concentration was there or not there. I s'pose that's the vipassana flavor. Having this detached and nonchalant feeling towards it prevented feelings of frustration from arising or getting any good grip on me, which is good since I used to practice concentration and just practice in frustration and walk away with that feeling. This seems to help me. I don't need to turn "me" into some concentrated dude, I just need to look at the frames I've previously been busting apart and see what they're doing altogether and how they appear. Maybe. Of course, this is just speculation from my experience thus far.

Those two lines I've highlighted are particularly good indicators that you're getting into the groove with this; noticing you're distracted is being back where you want to be: Mindful. Nice. All of this develops very naturally when you stop fighting to make it happen, so keep doing what you're doing here and it'll come together.

I was thinking about the past today. On car rides, I always used to watch the dotted lines in the road go by, tapping my finger whenever they passed some sort of visual boundary like the car frame. It got easy, so eventually I added in trees, other cars on the other side of the road, poles, etc. and eventually just did it with my mind. Maybe this could explain how I somehow found my way to a practice which is not all too different.

Aye, I know that game well! emoticon Bring that fun, playful approach to your practice and you'll find it can be even more enjoyable.

By the way, do you have a practice log? Where do you find yourself as far as attainment?

I've got/had a few practice threads since I started on here, and also over on KFD, here's the most recent one although you'll probably come across the others anyway. I'll see if I can find them and post the links here.

Current practice log.

Attainment-wise, I got 4th path (as described in MCTB, not in the suttas but that's another story) last year but my background varies from yogic stuff to magick. To be honest, I don't even know 100% if what I attained, which seems to match Daniel's and others descriptions of 4th path, is actually what I think it was but it's become less important as my practice has evolved. I'm currently exploring the AF approach and the 7-stage model laid out by Thusness[1], with further commentary from An Eternal Now. My practice is pretty much a hybrid of various techniques, but is mainly focused on vipassana (not noting though) and what could be described as zazen. Basically, I'm just some guy who meditates and likes talking about this stuff. emoticon

[1] A highly-realized dude from Singapore who blogs here: Awakening to Reality along with another DhO user by the name of An Eternal Now.

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5/3/12 8:35 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Today I ventured upon something new.

In my sits, I start with tingles in specific areas. They start to increase in intensity and begin to ripple through my body and activate other ripples, until my whole body feels the tingles. Then, I get that very mellow, chilled out feeling. Up until now, it all seemed very edgy and neurotic, and with an odd tiredness, as though I was falling asleep yet still vaguely practicing. I got to thinking about where sounds ended when I heard them, and it was frustrating since I couldn't tell right where the physical sound ended because my mind would keep the sound alive. This got me to thinking to investigate on the mental level. Practice has been mostly dealing with physical sensations up to this point, but today I realized the mental level of experience is much different, and very disconnected.

As I tuned into the mental level, I realized it wasn't quite something where I could just feel the tingles inside my head as I thought before. It seemed totally different, like I had woken up in a large cathedral with walls too far away to see. It was a massive feeling. I realized that I had been ignoring this somewhat, but I decided to try to tune into it. It was like things were playing in jumpy frames, and physical sensations seemed to leave a vague, but barely perceptible imprint somewhere in this vast, expansive realm. After awhile, it seemed as though all physical sensation began to fade. The sense of my physical body began to fade.

I didn't really do much in terms of busting this realm apart into the 3 c's, since it was new and I was just getting a feel for it. However, visual elements within it seemed almost like holograms, presenting themselves in a very low frame rate. The thing that was most striking was the peace. There was no neurotic feeling or edginess whatsoever, which hasn't presented itself until this. It was like I had been in a bunker hearing rain overhead, and then come out to see a magnificent sun cut through the darkness. It left me feeling very peaceful, awake, aware, and not at all energized or tingly. The tingles were on a much lower, gross level, where my focus has, up to this point, been. This didn't really seem physically focused at all. In fact, it was like the focus was everywhere but where my body would be. The edge of my awareness wasn't far off; it was at the center of this big place of my mind. It seemed ever expansive, but it was tough to pinpoint the middle of it. I don't think I could "crash" from this like I could from other states. I'm sure it'll fade; none of these mental states last.

I understand that I am not to buy into the peace as it pertains to vipassana, and eventually, once my eyes adjust to this new light, I shall bust it apart into the 3 c's and turn my focus to finding out how "I" relate to this new realm.

It sounds and feels like equanimity to me. What do you think?

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5/3/12 1:49 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Also, regardless of what this is, I recall some jhanas having that characteristic of being very wide and having the effect of losing feeling of one's body as the focus goes to this mental realm. It certainly feels like a state that I could take refuge in and perhaps I ought to try to solidify this state. It's stable and very nice!

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5/4/12 11:22 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
I am not as experienced as Tommy, but I have nearly gone through 2 insight cycles (I guess you could say 'almost' 2nd path. Hha), and this still sounds like Dissolution to me as I experienced it. The earlier drowsiness with the cool sense of calmer peace and noticing the impermanence of things seem to line up. Especially how you describe things out at the edge of awareness is very 5th nana / 3rd vipassana jhana.

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5/5/12 8:42 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
So yesterday, I was just going about my day and chewing on this very helpless feeling I had. It seemed that I was noticing any time something happened in a certain way and I didn't like the outcome. The realization that I'm helpless to whatever is in the moment seemed to sink in and make me feel more okay with everything. I had a ton of energy after that.

Last night, I had this dream that I was with all my friends, being buddies and such. I was so full of life and energy. I was going to climb this big, bright, radiant tower, and was so energetic about it. My friends were supporting me. However, as I was climbing, before I reached the top, I had a complete emotional breakdown of frustration, pain, and helplessness. I fell back down all the way and I was ruined. I was so depressed and frustrated.

Today, I woke up very calm and relaxed. However, as I went about my day, things seemed more and more surreal. I'm looking at housing with my friends as of late, and there is something extremely surreal and terrifying about it. It's not terrifying in the conventional sense of moving out and such. It's just something about seeing these snapshots of life and the things that surround us and make up some seemingly stable world where we can feel supported. The same feeling came about as we walked around the city, ate out, and joked and talked. It was pitiful in a way... I was like an alien in this group of people who were somehow satisfied with drowning out the painful, selfless, and utterly fleeting truths behind every dollar spent to keep the wheel going. I felt these extreme waves of depression. I almost broke out in tears, just sitting there at the table for dinner, looking around at all these people living such empty and painful lives, trying to sustain illusions of consistent satisfaction in life. The pain was in seeing how each purchase, each fabrication of personality, each joke just seemed to be a way of hiding from reality. I kept looking up into the sky and getting lost in its vastness, and somehow still realizing how I could occupy the whole sky with my perception of it. It made all the people going about their days, swearing, cursing, smoking, laughing, and walking in groups seem like ants. It made me feel like I was a set of eyes within the sky, looking down on some odd life that I never saw from the vast empty space that is all around us. It feels like people go by and disappear, like every scene playing out is already over before it begins, like I'm a brick in a wall, like I'm a ghost floating amongst the living, watching life appear and disappear and somehow being separate from the system, like an anomaly.

I haven't formally sat; I've been with friends and probably will be for awhile. I would be interested to see where my mind takes me. Depression typically seems blunt, dull, and unfocused to me. However, this is a much deeper feeling of depression that makes everything seem extremely sharp and lucid. It's not unbearable, just really weird and pervasive in most experience. It just seems like I'm being rocked from situation to situation, with everything just disappearing, and me being an odd set of eyes in space watching it happen. I feel that this is doing good though.

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5/6/12 5:44 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Sounds like progress to me, nice descriptions and a lot of honesty which suggest to me that you're sincerely committed to this; not that it's any of my business how sincere or committed you are, but this is the impression I get from your posts.

The realization that I'm helpless to whatever is in the moment seemed to sink in and make me feel more okay with everything. I had a ton of energy after that.

Nice, using those "hindrances" to power up your practice is a good skill to learn at this stage; whatever arises, let it happen and experience what the 3C's are all about. There's no need to struggle with this, it's all self-evident whenever and wherever it occurs so develop that acceptance, equanimity and clarity you've got going right now.

Last night, I had this dream that I was with all my friends, being buddies and such. I was so full of life and energy. I was going to climb this big, bright, radiant tower, and was so energetic about it. My friends were supporting me. However, as I was climbing, before I reached the top, I had a complete emotional breakdown of frustration, pain, and helplessness. I fell back down all the way and I was ruined. I was so depressed and frustrated.

The process of getting 'near the top' and falling back down is part and parcel of the whole thing, it's not uncommon and it's no reason to get pissed with yourself, or anyone else for that matter. If if does happen, learn from it; get back up and go straight back to it 'cause there's literally no way you can lose by just getting back to practice and noting the living shit out of everything.

Everything else in your thread in the last few posts is very much Dark Night territory, but the way you describe your practice and observations in daily life does suggest that you're doing what needs to be done. Try to maintain your seated practice, think of it as an intensive session and resolve before you sit to note sensations as accurately as possible, for the entire time you've planned to sit. It really does work to move things along and there's opportunity for deep insights if you see things clearly enough, do some investigating into the sense of aversion that comes up at this point; look at the ending of sensations and see where they seem to go to; let it happen and stay attentive; don't get caught up in the mental narratives and apocalyptic scenarios the mind reels off[1], particularly in Fear and Re-Observation.

Chill out, do things you enjoy and just aim towards feeling as good as you possibly can, regardless of what's happening. It's all just more transient, luminous phenomena; not you, not permanent, empty of independent existence away from the experience of them.

[1] I spent a few months investigating Dark Night quite deeply and learned a whole lot from it, but one entertaining example of how strangely perception can be skewed was this: I was lying on the couch, willing myself through each ñana and feeling as much of it as possible, watching what sort of mental imagery appeared and what feelings accompanied them, and just generally going as deep as I could into it. At one point, two elderly women were heard talking outside my window about some non-specific subject and I could hear planes going overhead; from out of nowhere, a gut level fear hit and it sounded like the two women were talking about some sort of apocalyptic scenario which apparently had just begun, the plane having been misinterpreted by the mind as being a nuclear weapon and all manner of insane delusions. I could watch how the mind moved around all these beliefs and how it made up connections between seemingly disparate events, all based on misunderstanding and ignorance of what was actually occuring. I'm just writing this as an example of some of the mad shit the mind can throw up during these phases, there's loads of stuff like this I could tell you about but it's much more fun to find out by yourself.

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5/6/12 8:49 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hey there.

I'm trying to study cycling and determine what it is that's going on. I'll be going about my day, meditating or otherwise, and think to myself how the experiential territory I find myself in feels like a repeat of something I've encountered in meditation or otherwise. I'm trying to do better to be mindful of these different nanas and when I'm in what. It seems that if I sit, I can get "in the mood" and establish a quiet, peace, and mindfulness that seems to correspond with what I've heard of mind and body. Then, I just flip around awareness on the body, and eventually, I feel little drops of vibratory sensation going from here to there like in a pond of feeling. At this point, they're in itches and discomforts, mostly, and this is where I can really objectify everything I'm feeling in the body. I'm thinking this is the nana of the 3 C's. Then, all the discomforts start to feel more pure, like a pleasant, slightly exhilarating wash of tingles engulfing me. This culminates. I'm thinking this peak is the A&P. Then, the tingles seem to disperse and get all distant, and the feeling of exhilaration basically leaves and I feel very post orgasmic and fading. I'll get really sleepy at this point, and it becomes clear how there are these different segments of thought and feeling, and that each one of those moments is not the next and that those moments don't connect to each other besides by what seeds they may sow for the next moment. I'll think, whoa, I'm spacing out and losing my place in mindfulness since my mind will be one place and then another in an instant. But I see that the very fact that I'm watching it go from here to there and not being ignorant to the discontinuity is a sign that I'm mindful and not at all guilty for this mind stream. The train of thought just chugs along and follows the track laid out. This is where I get that spaacceeeee feeling, like I'm walking in some odd dreamland, where I feel this constant pressure to move on from each moment. It's like every moment becomes disconnected and flimsy. This seems like dissolution. Then, at some point, the exhilaration seems to come back in a different flavor, and seems to result from a feeling of adrenaline in my stomach or chest. When I'm mindful of this, it doesn't seem to create much of a drama of fear in my head. This seems like the nana of fear.

I'm still kinda unclear on cycling, and whether or not entering the dark night nanas implies that the nanas will just make themselves happen. It kinda feels like in my sits or periods of mindfulness, my mind will get to a certain point and then just go into digest mode on that point. Is this what you mean by perceptual baseline? It feels like the nanas are like a river, where each day, I ride down from the headwater until I get to a clog or spot I can't pass, and spend the day unclogging that spot. Then, at each new day, I start at the headwater again and flow effortlessly to the next clog and spend most of my time there. It could be that I only get to the nana where my mind has to digest more to proceed, or perhaps it's that there are subtle aversions and cravings that prevent further development in the nanas. I'm not really sure.

I feel like I've been chilling in dissolution mostly, and it's really edgy and can leave me feeling fairly shaking. I was thinking that I should give jhana another shot. I used a kasina today, and I'm fairly certain I got some kind of jhana, if not multiple. The states were marked by sudden clicks where my mind felt like it was suddenly magnetized to something. So I just stared at a blue slime piggy bank until vision started to get very glowy, fading, and twirling. It seemed like whole sections of vision were breathing. It seemed hallucinogenic! It was really fun and pleasant. Anyways, first, I noticed this kind of exhilaration in my body, and that I was very locked on to the slime's face. I let this occur for awhile, trying to hold on to the exhilaration and the way in which I was so locked on to the slime's face. Sometimes I'd get distracted and vision would become normal again and I'd snap back, but it was actually super easy and chill, in regards to easing back in. Absorption is a perfect word. So is groovy, with the way in which things were colorful and breathing. So, I got to the locked on vision and exhilaration in my body for awhile, and then decided to close my eyes. I tried to remember the slime's face but it was tough so I just let it go and chilled with the feelings. It seemed like there was a shift, where perception all melded into a grid-like space. Sounds which would previously give me the notion of distance and relativity lost this effect. It was like all the sounds were now inside my head. This gave me the feeling of being disconnected from the physical world and being suspended in some kind of mental realm. The exhilaration seemed to go at this point, and it was very much like dissolution where after the A&P event, the tingles that covered me seemed to fade. This new state of mind felt like I had been exhilarated, running with my canoe at the water, feeling the strength and power of my momentum and effort. Then, the next state felt like I had put my canoe in the water, pushed off, and then sat, suddenly motionless as my canoe carried my previous momentum into it's movement across the water, watching the shore fade away, feeling suspended in an odd vast ocean.

I'll do a little research and see if I can determine what was happening here. From what I've read, it sounds like these were jhanic experiences of some sort, even if they weren't fully developed jhanas. They were extremely nice though. They were comforting, relaxing, fun, stabilizing, light, and even humorous in some subtle way. After I was done, I decided to switch to vipassana. It was amazing how my body went from a profound stillness to sudden lighting up of itches, aches, and then tingles. I sense that jhanic practice is helping me pay more attention to which nanas I'm experiencing, and helping me navigate sensate experience more precisely. This concentration practice also left me feeling like my will was powerful and sharp. I'm glad I switched to kasina before giving up on concentration practice. It seems much easier to concentrate on what you're staring on than on the breath, and it also seems like you can just use the kasina as a push-off for the concentration, and let go once you're in the groove and your mind starts magnetizing and gravitating.

And oh, how it's so tricky to go through such weird experiences and not really be able to explain them to anyone, or even tell them without being thought of as nuts.

Mind is throwing up some "mad shit", haha. I was playing piano, and I'm pretty sure I was in dissolution (and it seems like I've been in that territory most of the time). Anyways, I noticed that the piano was vibrating. It was odd and I wasn't sure if it was just me seeing precisely what the keys were doing for the first time, or if it was just some of that weird dissolution vibration business. Lots 'a things seeming more unstable and relative.

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5/7/12 4:37 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Firstly, kudos on your descriptions as they're excellent; you're paying some serious attention with high levels of mindfulness if you're able to notice and record these sorts of experiences. One thing I would say is to not let recording your practice become a chore or something you're having to think about during a sit, you seem naturally able to communicate these things in clear terms and it makes offering advice so much easier, just enjoy it and don't let it be this absolute imperative thing you really need to do. Keep notes for your own records, by all means, but don't become a slave to a practice thread on here. It's another one of those time-wasting drawbacks that a lot of us have probably encountered at one time or another, don't waste this precious moment of being alive on worrying about how you're going to tell a bunch of faceless meditation geeks what happened. emoticon

I'll be going about my day, meditating or otherwise, and think to myself how the experiential territory I find myself in feels like a repeat of something I've encountered in meditation or otherwise. I'm trying to do better to be mindful of these different nanas and when I'm in what.

Don't worry too much about being able to identify which ñana is which, by the sounds of things you're doing fine as it is so use that energy you'd otherwise fritter away on figuring out whether you're here or there on further investigating what else is happening. It'll be more useful to learn how the whole cycle seems to play out on repeat, pick up on their 'flavours', so to speak and what allows you to differentiate between each. The general emotional tone is usually quite clear, as is the way that certain types of thought present depending on where you're at so these are some of the more obvious things to look out of; a more subtle but physically apparent 'glitch' is the way that you seem to loose the thread of conversations really easily when cycling through Dark Night, and how you only seem to catch the end of what people are saying in the same way you're only catching the endings of sensations.

It seems that if I sit, I can get "in the mood" and establish a quiet, peace, and mindfulness that seems to correspond with what I've heard of mind and body. Then, I just flip around awareness on the body, and eventually, I feel little drops of vibratory sensation going from here to there like in a pond of feeling. At this point, they're in itches and discomforts, mostly, and this is where I can really objectify everything I'm feeling in the body. I'm thinking this is the nana of the 3 C's. Then, all the discomforts start to feel more pure, like a pleasant, slightly exhilarating wash of tingles engulfing me. This culminates. I'm thinking this peak is the A&P. Then, the tingles seem to disperse and get all distant, and the feeling of exhilaration basically leaves and I feel very post orgasmic and fading. I'll get really sleepy at this point, and it becomes clear how there are these different segments of thought and feeling, and that each one of those moments is not the next and that those moments don't connect to each other besides by what seeds they may sow for the next moment. I'll think, whoa, I'm spacing out and losing my place in mindfulness since my mind will be one place and then another in an instant. But I see that the very fact that I'm watching it go from here to there and not being ignorant to the discontinuity is a sign that I'm mindful and not at all guilty for this mind stream. The train of thought just chugs along and follows the track laid out. This is where I get that spaacceeeee feeling, like I'm walking in some odd dreamland, where I feel this constant pressure to move on from each moment. It's like every moment becomes disconnected and flimsy. This seems like dissolution. Then, at some point, the exhilaration seems to come back in a different flavor, and seems to result from a feeling of adrenaline in my stomach or chest. When I'm mindful of this, it doesn't seem to create much of a drama of fear in my head. This seems like the nana of fear.

That sounds pretty good to me, it seems like you've got the hang of this already anyway. Something worth looking at is where you say: "I feel this constant pressure to move on from each moment. It's like every moment becomes disconnected and flimsy." What is that "constant pressure"? Where does it move "you" to? Notice that it happens by itself, "you" only seem to be what's still experiencing this happening.

I'm still kinda unclear on cycling, and whether or not entering the dark night nanas implies that the nanas will just make themselves happen.

Basically what happens is like cycles within cycles; you've got what you could call your "main" cycle, your perceptual baseline based on whichever ñana you're currently in which will influence the overall 'tone' of your current experience, and you've got the cycles which you'll go through during each sit depending on your "cutting edge".

Example: Imagine that everyone in the word goes through a "main cycle", regardless of whether they're interested in meditation or not, from 1st to 3rd ñanas as a matter of basic day-to-day contemplation of what's occurring. Anyone who takes up a reasonably serious interest in meditation will almost certainly cross the A&P Event at some point, or sometimes it'll just happen, as it did for many of us, while doing something totally unrelated to meditation, and so will begin this 'extended cycle' which, instead of going from 1st to 3rd ñana, now cycles from 1st to 11th ñanas. Since you've crossed the A&P Event itself, you're now "past the point of no-return" and now cycle from 1st to 11th ñana until you hit Path, which is where meditation practice comes in.

I'll need to sign off here but I'll come back and respond to the rest of your thread soon. Hope you're a bit clearer on the cycling thing, it's not complicated or anything but it's easy to overthink it.

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5/7/12 6:49 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thank you for all your help/comments. It seems like you really have your stuff down. So, is 4th path arhatship? Or, is it the path that leads to arhatship?

I'm really mixed on the maps. I do totally agree that it's just energy spent trying to, in some way, stick to a moment that is transient, whereas one could use the same energy to just break it into 3 c's, not worrying about the maps. But at the same time, I think that they're extremely effective. I'm walking a fine line... I don't want to get too crazy with maps and placing myself, but I do have to attribute a large portion of my practice to thinking about a spot on the map and trying to "feel" my way into the description.

Jhana worked so much today! Actually, I'm not really sure, but I think that the same skills that went into vipassana developed a strong base of mindfulness while allowing me the freedom of jumping around, with any sensation being valid. Today, I tried jhana only using my breath, after reading around a little. I totally nailed it! The control is not that good at this point, but I'm fairly sure I traced myself through jhanas 1-4. I think I've hit these states before too, expecting that when you hit a jhana, it'll hit you hard. Sometimes, at first, they're hard to maintain, but they're definitely distinct.

So I started this morning in what I thought was disgust. I woke up and everything was just so unpleasant and terrible. I felt like a violating creature, and showering was bizarre. I love curry, but this morning, I made it and it was not at all appetizing. I think I've hit this territory before; sometimes when I'm practicing in public, I'll stop and look around, and people will just seem so bizarre and unappealing, and I'll wonder how it is they looked attractive and not like repulsive creatures.

I chilled a little and calmed down the negative feelings, and sat. I zoned in on the breath, and it seemed like concentration was just the right thing to do. It was like a nice bath to get away from the crazy negative vibes that were going on. Anyways, I didn't use a kasina this time; I just followed the breath and let it flow and relax. I got that exhilarating feeling in my body quite quickly, but this time, I didn't react to it and it really took hold. So good! Then, the physical feeling chilled out a little and left me with the mental afterglow, almost like going from the A&P to dissolution... almost. Except the goodness didn't fade off like it does in dissolution. Anyways, there was just this great happy feeling in between my eyes, and it felt very pure. This left, and left me with the feeling of quietude with a satisfactory smile. Eventually, the smile feeling faded away too, leaving me in that big gridlike place I talked about before. This description sews it all together and leaves out some in between and losing focus/restarting, but it basically sounds to me like the jhanas. They were so peaceful and profound that I'm pretty sure.

After leaving the sit and taking a bus to the city, I felt like my vipassana-awareness was much more precise, sharp, and not so edgy. It was like I had learned to play the big steinway concert grand, and was now easing my way. I was so calm. Not really sure about the map. Anyways, this next bit, I'm going to post, even though I could just have it all wrong and have created a mental drama in my head. It's worth sharing.

As I was going, there was this incredible pureness to the vipassana which I attribute to adding the stability and the element of deliberate and exacting mindpower which seems to mark jhana. In this state, I felt so powerful and steady. The thought kept coming to me, why not stream entry? Why not stream entry? Stream entry. It got me excited, with butterflies in my stomach. I thought in my head, the 4th jhana is marked by equanimity, and you are cycling until you use vipassana when you are at equanimity. It felt like a good time to make a move, and I didn't know if the equanimious feelings were from just the jhana, or perhaps being in the nana, or perhaps no difference, but I just thought... hmm... this is a calm moment after a hard few days of depressed feelings and bizarre edgy shakings. I figured it was a good time as any.

So I just sat down at this quiet place on campus and went at it. I remember passing what I'm associating with dissolution, which is the feeling of falling asleep, feeling really relaxed and out of it, but I still had that mindpower from messing around with jhana. I got back to that state where it felt like I was in a big grid, like I was suspended and motionless. It was kind of like what I thought was the 4th jhana earlier, though vipassana doesn't seem to have strong walls between states/stages like jhana. Anyways, there I was, feeling calm, sharp, and steady. I kept... I don't know, vipassana-ing? Anyways, it seemed quite inclusive so I tried to take it all in at once, take in all the sensations as moments of sensations. This seemed to all gather into the point between my eyebrows. Anyways, very quickly, I got this sudden butterfly feeling, and the inner vision became quite luminous and I saw what looked almost like an outline of an eye, which was definitely felt right in between my eyebrows. It was so quick and sudden, and I was in public, so I kinda stopped the effort, but it was a really fast moment so I'm not sure how it would've played out. I started to get fast breathing and I didn't want to evoke anything that might make people be like... wtf... but anyways, I walked away, and I just felt... so thankful.

Yeah, thankful! I've just felt so thankful, and in love with all the people around me. I've been helping caterpillars crawl up trees and stuff too! If it's not obvious, I'm wondering if this could've been stream entry. This experience was quite similar to the A&P, except it came on extremely sudden. The A&P always comes to me as itches and tingles growing until the whole thing is an exhilarating tingle in my body, then climbs up my spine and makes me turn my head up and makes my eyes twitch. This wasn't vibratory; it was just... I don't know. I was concentrating and trying to pay attention to all the sensations, and in that big gridlike state of vastness, I felt like it was all culminating in between my eyebrows, and then I got this weird, eye looking thing that got so luminous and purple and stuff. It was really intense! Really really intense, but very quick, concise, clean, and didn't have bodily/spinal feelings. It was all in-between my eyebrow. That seemed to be the center of perception, where any "I" I could feel was. This isn't really a good description at all and of course this isn't a stream entry claim, but I am considering the possibility. A&P leaves me feeling so drained and psychotic afterwards, but I just feel thankful and so in love with all these people and caterpillars! Now obviously I haven't been practicing long and I really haven't experienced A&P enough times to see all it's variation, but stream entry is indeed the goal at this point, and I'm not sure what it's supposed to be like. I've read about the three doors but it all sounds confusing and I can't really imagine what it's supposed to be like or what the moment leading up to it is like. I just know that I felt much different after playing with jhana, and that I definitely got the impulse that I ought to go for stream entry with the momentum and calm concentration from those states. Dunno.

If it wasn't it, it was still wicked, and I feel quite good! Time will tell; I hear it's a timeless change I'll try to play around with some of that stuff they say stream-enterers can do like call up nanas and do jhanas like a pro. I guess fruition is a good thing to try too, if SE's can call them back up. How though? What should I be looking for? What is a fruition anyways? How does it come on and what is the experience?

I know that I probably need not rush through this stuff, but... dunno! The feeling was just there to try, and I got this experience, so it has been recorded and perhaps there are wise men across the circuits who can shed light onto my dharma adventures.

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5/7/12 10:54 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
In retrospect, I'm thinking that it was just an A&P. I believe doing concentration practice earlier made this point come on much stronger.

Thinking I might be starting to hit into Equanimity territory though. I'm not really sure if I can say whether or not it is this or jhana experimentation, but I don't necessarily see that there would be mutual exclusivity.

Starting to notice that in mindfulness practice, there's definitely a point where there'll be the loose impression of hard screams in my head. Chalking this up to fear...

Also noticing that I can almost immediately call up piti as long as I'm not really engaged in anything. This is useful; it really seems to be the hardest part in getting concentration meditation going. Also, piti seems to come on now completely randomly; this is new, or possibly not noticed until now. Piti sheds some light on how cycles work. I see that jhanas don't happen in vipassana since piti is (or can be) quite strong and easy to spot, which means that the vipassana yogi would become keen to break it apart into the 3 c's and thus prevent the feedback cycle of body to mind to body to mind and then from mind to feeling to mind to feeling, etc. That's what jhanas seem like to me under vipassana scrutiny: a fun game of ping pong between the body, mind, and feelings.

I'm ever so happy to be doing jhana. They just sounded so awesome but it seems that for me, vipassana was the tool that primed the pump. There's also an innate feeling that this practice of jhana is in perfect counterpoint with application of vipassana. Vipassana is so deep and concentration is so clean. I get feelings of bouncing back and forth playing around with the two. There has definitely been piti in my vipassana practice prior to this. It's really cool to see that I can now go back and use that piti to launch some cool mind grooves. I had imagined vipassana would be the intense, "trippy" side of practice, with concentration being much more sober and straightforward. Now, it seems that concentration is what magnifies whatever vipassana brings about, and is highly responsible for the "intensity" of vipassana experiences. This is why I think my event earlier was just an A&P, and that I was just seeing more clearly and mindfully rather than being overwhelmed. It seems like concentration-like steadiness and cleanness helps remain objective in various nanas, as well as offer much more power.

After doing jhana earlier, my mind feels quick, powerful, penetrating, quick to drop mental cycles leading to various degrees of suffering (up to a point), well oiled, and extremely responsive to inquiry of insight. I will indeed pursue their cultivation.

There's a markable feeling of brightness and surety that seems to tell me clearly and calmly that I can do this. It's in my nature to not give myself credit for my experiences and write them off somehow, and I believe I counter this by being extra analytical and scrupulous about referencing what is happening. However, just being extra analytical and scrupulous in reviewing what I've done seems to open up lots of pathways of experimentation and also allows me to check my ongoing experience against my previous.

This meditation journey is great. It never seems to stagnate, at least!

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5/8/12 4:36 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Other thread continued...

It kinda feels like in my sits or periods of mindfulness, my mind will get to a certain point and then just go into digest mode on that point. Is this what you mean by perceptual baseline?

Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm getting at although the same sort of thing can be observed in everyday life too.

It feels like the nanas are like a river, where each day, I ride down from the headwater until I get to a clog or spot I can't pass, and spend the day unclogging that spot. Then, at each new day, I start at the headwater again and flow effortlessly to the next clog and spend most of my time there. It could be that I only get to the nana where my mind has to digest more to proceed, or perhaps it's that there are subtle aversions and cravings that prevent further development in the nanas. I'm not really sure.

Nice analogy. emoticon

Watch out for what seems like a sense of tension, it's not really physical but it seems to happen somewhere around the centre of the head; look at how it's the same tension that arises regardless of whether the current experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. It manifests in almost every sensation but a more obvious instance of it, or one which you notice more clearly as having occurred, is what I'd consider as something worth investigating as it's like something's trying to get your attention.

I was thinking that I should give jhana another shot. I used a kasina today, and I'm fairly certain I got some kind of jhana, if not multiple. The states were marked by sudden clicks where my mind felt like it was suddenly magnetized to something.

Aye, that sounds like you're hitting jhana to me, or at the very least "access concentration" but I suspect it's the former; it really is like being suddenly drawn 'into' that state, you'll learn to recognize the characteristics of each jhana as you go, this gives the mind a 'handle' with which you can incline towards jhana at will.

Anyways, first, I noticed this kind of exhilaration in my body, and that I was very locked on to the slime's face. I let this occur for awhile, trying to hold on to the exhilaration and the way in which I was so locked on to the slime's face. Sometimes I'd get distracted and vision would become normal again and I'd snap back, but it was actually super easy and chill, in regards to easing back in. Absorption is a perfect word. So is groovy, with the way in which things were colorful and breathing. So, I got to the locked on vision and exhilaration in my body for awhile, and then decided to close my eyes.

Access concentration leading into 1st jhana. Fun experiment: See if you can 'click' into this state just by remembering it.

I tried to remember the slime's face but it was tough so I just let it go and chilled with the feelings. It seemed like there was a shift, where perception all melded into a grid-like space. Sounds which would previously give me the notion of distance and relativity lost this effect. It was like all the sounds were now inside my head. This gave me the feeling of being disconnected from the physical world and being suspended in some kind of mental realm.

1st jhana, most likely a stable experience of it.

The exhilaration seemed to go at this point, and it was very much like dissolution where after the A&P event, the tingles that covered me seemed to fade. This new state of mind felt like I had been exhilarated, running with my canoe at the water, feeling the strength and power of my momentum and effort.

2nd jhana, the lines I've put in bold definitely make me think of 2nd anyway.

Then, the next state felt like I had put my canoe in the water, pushed off, and then sat, suddenly motionless as my canoe carried my previous momentum into it's movement across the water, watching the shore fade away, feeling suspended in an odd vast ocean.

Early 3rd jhana.

After I was done, I decided to switch to vipassana. It was amazing how my body went from a profound stillness to sudden lighting up of itches, aches, and then tingles.

Nice.

I sense that jhanic practice is helping me pay more attention to which nanas I'm experiencing, and helping me navigate sensate experience more precisely.

I always liked Trent's analogy of exploring the jungle: Concentration is what holds the vines down to clear the way, insight is what cuts them off at the root prevents them from blocking the way again. I'm paraphrasing here, but the point is that concentration and insight are complementary practices which can be utilized together to 'clear the way'. This is what I was getting at when I said how you'll see for yourself why insight and concentration aren't differentiated between in the original suttas. Big Gotama really did know what he was talkin' about. emoticon

This concentration practice also left me feeling like my will was powerful and sharp. I'm glad I switched to kasina before giving up on concentration practice. It seems much easier to concentrate on what you're staring on than on the breath, and it also seems like you can just use the kasina as a push-off for the concentration, and let go once you're in the groove and your mind starts magnetizing and gravitating.

Nice, jhana temporarily suppresses the "Five Hindrances" so it's an excellent practice simply for living a better, more enjoyable life, even without the insight. Notice the quality of attention involved when you're "in the groove", there's a fun, playful, almost childlike curiosity to the way attention 'jumps' from object to object in the sphere of sensate experience. If you ever notice yourself feeling sluggish or flat, remember how it feels to experience that and bring that curiosity back to what's happening; it's just a nice way to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life and to continue gaining insight through investigation of the seemingly mundane.

And oh, how it's so tricky to go through such weird experiences and not really be able to explain them to anyone, or even tell them without being thought of as nuts.

That's why it's useful to have a community of fellow adventurers at all different stages along the path: someone, somewhere is going to have been through what you're describing, just knowing that what you're experiencing isn't unique to you and that, even though it can be difficult or painful, it does pass and other people have been there too can be an incredible boost to your confidence in your ability to make progress. Tell y'er Ol' Uncle Dharma Overground... emoticon

Lots 'a things seeming more unstable and relative.

Good! Change is stability, stability is change. How is it that this is the case?

I'll reply to your other thread separately.

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5/8/12 5:34 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Thank you for all your help/comments. It seems like you really have your stuff down. So, is 4th path arhatship? Or, is it the path that leads to arhatship?

You're welcome, if it's helping then I'm happy with that. As for having my stuff down, I've practised hard and did a lot of work to learn about what we're discussing here so I'm happy to provide any advice I can that would be of use.

To be honest, and much as I'm interested in different maps and models of 'the thing' along with all their possible correlations, I don't know what Arahatship is anymore. Depending on which tradition you're studying or practising within, the Paths and other attainments can have vastly different, sometimes contradictory, criteria so I would't get too caught up in that whole trip 'cause, interesting as it is, it's time-consuming and it's time which could be better spent practising. I like the idea of saying "I'm an Arahat" but it would just be casting a spiritual glamour, an illusory impression which would make people view me differently, or place importance on the words I'm writing here. Much as my current experience does have characteristics which match the descriptions of 4th path, as it's mainly understood on this site, I no longer claim any attainments beyond acknowledging having experienced "awakening or "enlightenment" to some degree" if pressed on the subject.

I love curry, but this morning, I made it and it was not at all appetizing. I think I've hit this territory before; sometimes when I'm practicing in public, I'll stop and look around, and people will just seem so bizarre and unappealing, and I'll wonder how it is they looked attractive and not like repulsive creatures.

Aye, I'm quite the curry fan myself too...but you're in 8th ñana and so disgust, repulsion, and all that nauseating, shaky stuff will be more apparent for a while. This is progress though, it may feel like shit but it's progress and you'll be lifting your head about the water in no time.


I chilled a little and calmed down the negative feelings, and sat. I zoned in on the breath, and it seemed like concentration was just the right thing to do. It was like a nice bath to get away from the crazy negative vibes that were going on. Anyways, I didn't use a kasina this time; I just followed the breath and let it flow and relax. I got that exhilarating feeling in my body quite quickly, but this time, I didn't react to it and it really took hold. So good! Then, the physical feeling chilled out a little and left me with the mental afterglow, almost like going from the A&P to dissolution... almost. Except the goodness didn't fade off like it does in dissolution. Anyways, there was just this great happy feeling in between my eyes, and it felt very pure. This left, and left me with the feeling of quietude with a satisfactory smile. Eventually, the smile feeling faded away too, leaving me in that big gridlike place I talked about before. This description sews it all together and leaves out some in between and losing focus/restarting, but it basically sounds to me like the jhanas. They were so peaceful and profound that I'm pretty sure.

Sounds more like 1st and early 2nd jhana to me, if your practice is strong, which it certainly seems to be, there can extraordinarily profound and peaceful experiences sometimes, even just in 1st jhana. Don't get hung up on identifying things, there's time for that once you're finished with your sit; while you're sitting, focus on what's going on right now, the initial excitement of "cool, I'm in a jhana!" can be enough to drop you right back out into access concentration so don't give them more importance than they're due.

The line I placed in italics demonstrates where you're doing this correctly. Good show. Now, instead of reacting to those pleasant feelings, just focus on them as your object; let them be as they are, you're not trying to change them or anything, all you're doing is watching them. The pleasantness will increase and can become outrageously good, all without you having to do anything other than watching a pleasant sensation.

After leaving the sit and taking a bus to the city, I felt like my vipassana-awareness was much more precise, sharp, and not so edgy. It was like I had learned to play the big steinway concert grand, and was now easing my way. I was so calm. Not really sure about the map.

Possibly early-Equanimity/4th vipassana jhana.

So I just sat down at this quiet place on campus and went at it. I remember passing what I'm associating with dissolution, which is the feeling of falling asleep, feeling really relaxed and out of it, but I still had that mindpower from messing around with jhana. I got back to that state where it felt like I was in a big grid, like I was suspended and motionless. It was kind of like what I thought was the 4th jhana earlier, though vipassana doesn't seem to have strong walls between states/stages like jhana. Anyways, there I was, feeling calm, sharp, and steady. I kept... I don't know, vipassana-ing? Anyways, it seemed quite inclusive so I tried to take it all in at once, take in all the sensations as moments of sensations. This seemed to all gather into the point between my eyebrows. Anyways, very quickly, I got this sudden butterfly feeling, and the inner vision became quite luminous and I saw what looked almost like an outline of an eye, which was definitely felt right in between my eyebrows. It was so quick and sudden, and I was in public, so I kinda stopped the effort, but it was a really fast moment so I'm not sure how it would've played out. I started to get fast breathing and I didn't want to evoke anything that might make people be like... wtf... but anyways, I walked away, and I just felt... so thankful.

Yeah, thankful! I've just felt so thankful, and in love with all the people around me. I've been helping caterpillars crawl up trees and stuff too! If it's not obvious, I'm wondering if this could've been stream entry. This experience was quite similar to the A&P, except it came on extremely sudden. The A&P always comes to me as itches and tingles growing until the whole thing is an exhilarating tingle in my body, then climbs up my spine and makes me turn my head up and makes my eyes twitch. This wasn't vibratory; it was just... I don't know. I was concentrating and trying to pay attention to all the sensations, and in that big gridlike state of vastness, I felt like it was all culminating in between my eyebrows, and then I got this weird, eye looking thing that got so luminous and purple and stuff. It was really intense! Really really intense, but very quick, concise, clean, and didn't have bodily/spinal feelings. It was all in-between my eyebrow. That seemed to be the center of perception, where any "I" I could feel was. This isn't really a good description at all and of course this isn't a stream entry claim, but I am considering the possibility. A&P leaves me feeling so drained and psychotic afterwards, but I just feel thankful and so in love with all these people and caterpillars! Now obviously I haven't been practicing long and I really haven't experienced A&P enough times to see all it's variation, but stream entry is indeed the goal at this point, and I'm not sure what it's supposed to be like. I've read about the three doors but it all sounds confusing and I can't really imagine what it's supposed to be like or what the moment leading up to it is like. I just know that I felt much different after playing with jhana, and that I definitely got the impulse that I ought to go for stream entry with the momentum and calm concentration from those states. Dunno.

Something worth knowing at this stage is that there are aspect of 2nd vipassa jhana which can mimic aspects of 4th vipassana jhana, it's easy enough to avoid if you're familiar with the territory but, until then, it's best to hang fire on any absolutes. Also, there can be little instants where you kinda "blink out", almost like falling asleep for a split second or zoning out completely, which can be easily confused with Fruition, again this is especially true if you're not familiar with the territory.

I don't think you've gotten stream entry just yet, although I'm pretty sure you'll get it at some point; a few elements of your description give me reason to suspect you've experienced something like "the watcher" or some direct experience of what it is that seems to be experiencing things, this sense of "I", which in itself is quite an important realization. It sounds like you experienced something like a sense of "unity with all things", would that be accurate? It's normal but by no means worthless as it reveals something fundamental about your experience. Contemplate it and what it means to experience this "I" as something a pattern of sensations which seems to exist between your eyes/in the centre of your head.

The readiness and willingness to investigate that you're showing is inspiring.

I guess fruition is a good thing to try too, if SE's can call them back up. How though? What should I be looking for? What is a fruition anyways? How does it come on and what is the experience?

Fruition is the best criteria for establishing whether someone's gotten SE or not, but it's one of those things you can't really describe until the person has experienced it for themselves. It's a non-experience, a complete cessation of all experience, like an instantaneous death and rebirth which takes you completely by surprise; you can't predict it, you can't anticipate it, it just happens and it's gone leaving you thinking that something just happened but you have no idea what the hell it was. I like to think of it being like hitting the reset button on a Super Nintendo, expect instead of just the screen glitching in and out, your entire experience vanishes and comes 'back online'. When it happens, you'll know.

One of the best things to do if you think you've just gotten Path is this: Shut up. emoticon

Post about it, speculate, ask questions, get on Skype, but avoid making any outright claims. Why? It saves you having to explain that you've made an arse of things in the future. How do I know this? 'Cause I've done it a good few times. emoticon

I'll leave replying to your latest thread until tomorrow 'cause I think there's enough information to keep you going for the moment. Just keep on keepin' on...

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5/11/12 11:21 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
I'll start with my jhana experience.

I've been playing with this a lot. I found that I was having a lot of trouble sustaining piti. It seemed like I could evoke a strong piti right away, but it seemed to only happen after the out breath and before the in breath. It seemed like if I took a breath in, it would go away. It also seemed to cause muscle tension, using this evoke approach. What I found is that the breath needs to be extremely still, so the subtle pulse of in/out breath does not interrupt the much more subtle sensations of piti.

Once I got that though, I feel like I was cruising!

I just meditated. This is what happened. I discovered the relationship between subtle breath and sustaining of piti. I couldn't make the piti happen for too long though, and kept trying to evoke it with no luck. But then I noticed that the piti seemed to have transformed itself into a new form inside my head. Thinking about how switching between jhanas worked, I focused on this instead. It then grew, just like the body piti grew when focused on. It got really really good! Then, once I felt done with that, I stopped trying to focus on that and just kinda released it. I was left in that post-orgasmic, "mmmmmm..." state. I stayed there for awhile, then decided to move on from that, and after that, I was left with an extremely silent, no emotion, dead calm. Perfect peace, in a sense. At this early stage, I am tentatively sure these are the 4 jhanas as I've heard them described.

I also noticed some similarities between jhanas and nanas. The 2nd jhana which seemed to be marked by extreme cerebral pleasure also seemed to be marked by flashing light and brightness, as well as a climactic feeling of all the jhanas I was in. This seems to correspond to A&P. Then, being left in a post-orgasmic, chilled out state seems to correspond to the 3rd jhana and also to dissolution. After even those feelings disappear and the slate is so very blank and the water is so very calm, it seems to be the territory called 4th jhana, but also equanimity. This makes me wonder... if you are in 4th jhana and switch to vipassana, do you start from that point in the nanas? It felt that way.

I've been figuring I'm hanging out in equanimity from day to day. I mostly just feel normal and not bothered. I don't feel such a strong pull to practice like I did before. I kinda feel like I'm just cruising, and that I need not worry about "getting there"; I'm on my way. I'm still practicing though, and will continue. It feels closest to before I messed with any vipassana, like I'm just me again. Upon investigation though, things do seem different, and reaction to reality is different. It's the difference between shaking up a root beer and shaking up hard liquor. They both bubble, but the liquor almost immediately goes back to non-bubble after being shaken, while the root beer stays frothy and takes a long time to settle. There's a sense of peace and calm, but also a feeling of closure. I get the feeling that I'm so close to stream entry.

Now to the sit I just had. I did the jhanas, then from what I think is 4th jhana, I switched to vipassana. What a powerful way to start vipassana, regardless of if I have the jhana right. Anyways, I didn't really mess with body sensations that much. If I saw them, I saw them. But I got the incessant push to determine what was "I". I kept going deeper and deeper, and eventually I got the feeling that I was running out of sensations to objectify. Eventually, I got a very odd feeling, as though I had stepped outside myself.

I'm pretty sure you'll get it at some point; a few elements of your description give me reason to suspect you've experienced something like "the watcher" or some direct experience of what it is that seems to be experiencing things, this sense of "I", which in itself is quite an important realization. It sounds like you experienced something like a sense of "unity with all things", would that be accurate?


If I'd have to give a particular example, this feeling I got seems to be that. After whittling away sensations, I started to get the feeling that the frustration of not being able to find "I" was actually an aversion to the fact that there wasn't any "I", not a failure in my technique. For a moment, I got this grand sense of being outside of "I", like I had stepped outside of the tent of the body and mind and looked around at the vastness for just a tiny moment.

I also got the strong feeling of everything shaking at once. I tried to back away from every sensation until it felt like I was far enough back to see all of them in one gaze. This was the point at which it all seemed to be shaking. There was an extremely strong gravitational pull in between my eyebrows, and when I get to a point like this (I've been touching on it), it can almost seem to give me headaches, but nothing bad, and nothing you can't objectify, for the sake of meditation. I wonder if perhaps this is what you were talking about when you said this:

Watch out for what seems like a sense of tension, it's not really physical but it seems to happen somewhere around the centre of the head; look at how it's the same tension that arises regardless of whether the current experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. It manifests in almost every sensation but a more obvious instance of it, or one which you notice more clearly as having occurred, is what I'd consider as something worth investigating as it's like something's trying to get your attention.


So close. I know I'm so close! When I'm mid-sit, a part of me will wonder what it is that I need to do to just push it over the edge. However, when I'm just going about things, I get the feeling that just continuing to practice will do it. However, if there's something you'd recommend to "push it over", I'm all ears.

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5/11/12 11:27 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Oh, and one more goofy thing.

I've noticed my interaction with people suddenly getting weird. I just don't feel the pull of various emotions and thoughts causing my face to act in sympathy to the conversation, so people are always asking me if I'm listening or if I understand what they're saying, when in truth, I'm just tuning in to them and being blank. I wonder what the implications of this are and whether or not I should start moving my face when convention tells me this or that should make me have a subtle smile or nod or whatever. Seems so silly of a thing to even worry about, but I guess I look like an emotionless zombie. emoticon

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5/11/12 3:59 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Oh, and one more goofy thing.

I've noticed my interaction with people suddenly getting weird. I just don't feel the pull of various emotions and thoughts causing my face to act in sympathy to the conversation, so people are always asking me if I'm listening or if I understand what they're saying, when in truth, I'm just tuning in to them and being blank. I wonder what the implications of this are and whether or not I should start moving my face when convention tells me this or that should make me have a subtle smile or nod or whatever. Seems so silly of a thing to even worry about, but I guess I look like an emotionless zombie. emoticon

I think this can be a very useful point.

I was having this experience last summer. Then, midway through someone's speech, I realized I was listening, but actually not engaging. So, I took the mindfulness in another notch (I was practicing actualism as I understood it often from Tarin Greco's explainations) and became much more aware of the everything triggering the sense doors and I applied a metta-tool (Metta is derived from "mitto", which means "friend" in pali): I considered that what I was hearing was not someone else's, but also mine. The ability to hear intimately had to go right up and greet the urge to speak and engage it without a distinction.

The first effect was that this was relaxing (I am still a non-adept with this, much a newbie many months later) and the second was that single-point concentration came on.

I would not say the face became animated, but the face became alert because the mind had become alert. So far, the effect of this "hearing" has been mutually beneficial. It occurred to me now that I should see how this works with posting, which shows me where and how I am limiting here&now mindfulness (which mindfulness is the glorious street-version of concentration).

Best wishes in this, MOE.

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5/11/12 5:25 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
What I found is that the breath needs to be extremely still, so the subtle pulse of in/out breath does not interrupt the much more subtle sensations of piti.

It's even more simple than that, but you seem to have understood more about it here:

I couldn't make the piti happen for too long though, and kept trying to evoke it with no luck. But then I noticed that the piti seemed to have transformed itself into a new form inside my head.

You don't need to evoke anything at all, it's just a matter of shifting the attention to those sensations of pleasantness; don't try to increase them or make them expand, just change your focus and make those sensations your object instead of the breath (which you always have there as an anchor should your concentration slip).

Then, once I felt done with that, I stopped trying to focus on that and just kinda released it. I was left in that post-orgasmic, "mmmmmm..." state. I stayed there for awhile, then decided to move on from that, and after that, I was left with an extremely silent, no emotion, dead calm. Perfect peace, in a sense. At this early stage, I am tentatively sure these are the 4 jhanas as I've heard them described

Sounds good, but as I keep on saying: don't get hung up on identifying things right now; go with whatever comes up and analyse it later.

I also noticed some similarities between jhanas and nanas. The 2nd jhana which seemed to be marked by extreme cerebral pleasure also seemed to be marked by flashing light and brightness, as well as a climactic feeling of all the jhanas I was in. This seems to correspond to A&P. Then, being left in a post-orgasmic, chilled out state seems to correspond to the 3rd jhana and also to dissolution. After even those feelings disappear and the slate is so very blank and the water is so very calm, it seems to be the territory called 4th jhana, but also equanimity. This makes me wonder... if you are in 4th jhana and switch to vipassana, do you start from that point in the nanas? It felt that way.

If you haven't already, read "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" 'cause Daniel breaks this down really well and says it a lot better than I could. The way you've lined up the phenomenological detail with the model itself looks correct, based on my own practice. Remember how 3rd jhana feels and the characteristics of it if/when you feel a bit overwhelmed during Dark Night, just inclining your mind in that direction can help drop a lot of stuff; it's naturally clear, equanimous and mindful so tune into that.

I've been figuring I'm hanging out in equanimity from day to day. I mostly just feel normal and not bothered. I don't feel such a strong pull to practice like I did before. I kinda feel like I'm just cruising, and that I need not worry about "getting there"; I'm on my way. I'm still practicing though, and will continue. It feels closest to before I messed with any vipassana, like I'm just me again. Upon investigation though, things do seem different, and reaction to reality is different. It's the difference between shaking up a root beer and shaking up hard liquor. They both bubble, but the liquor almost immediately goes back to non-bubble after being shaken, while the root beer stays frothy and takes a long time to settle. There's a sense of peace and calm, but also a feeling of closure. I get the feeling that I'm so close to stream entry.

Beware of scripting yourself into certain experiences, I don't mean it as a criticism, it's just something to watch out for when you're still familiarising yourself with the territory. What you're describing certainly sounds like Equanimity, which wouldn't be very surprising if your practice is as strong as it appears to be, but it's almost too close to the descriptions I've read on the subject. Just be careful of thinking yourself into experiences which line up with the common description, although as long as you're continuing to investigate any sensation which presents itself then it shouldn't be a problem. Again, it's not a criticism or me doubting what you're saying, it's just one of those things that can happen along the way and which has led me to more confusion than was really necessary in the past.

Remember, the thought or the feeling that you're "close to stream entry" is just that: a thought or a feeling; another transient, empty piece of information; no inherent meaning, no hidden messages, just a plain old thought or feeling. Note it. Move on.

Now to the sit I just had. I did the jhanas, then from what I think is 4th jhana, I switched to vipassana. What a powerful way to start vipassana, regardless of if I have the jhana right. Anyways, I didn't really mess with body sensations that much. If I saw them, I saw them. But I got the incessant push to determine what was "I". I kept going deeper and deeper, and eventually I got the feeling that I was running out of sensations to objectify. Eventually, I got a very odd feeling, as though I had stepped outside myself.

Starting from a nice, stable jhana is always a winner; the hindrances are suppressed, mindfulness is high and attention is refined enough to deconstruct sensations with ease. Remember to investigate what appears to make up the jhana itself, it's a state and can be taken to bits, examined and seen as it is; this goes for the pleasant sensations, the sense of space, distance, anything implying a sense of an observer, all of this is worth looking at.

It does sound like you're hitting 4th jhana, this next part is interesting:
After whittling away sensations, I started to get the feeling that the frustration of not being able to find "I" was actually an aversion to the fact that there wasn't any "I", not a failure in my technique. For a moment, I got this grand sense of being outside of "I", like I had stepped outside of the tent of the body and mind and looked around at the vastness for just a tiny moment.

I also got the strong feeling of everything shaking at once. I tried to back away from every sensation until it felt like I was far enough back to see all of them in one gaze. This was the point at which it all seemed to be shaking. There was an extremely strong gravitational pull in between my eyebrows, and when I get to a point like this (I've been touching on it), it can almost seem to give me headaches, but nothing bad, and nothing you can't objectify, for the sake of meditation.

In all honesty, I don't think you're a kick in the arse away from landing Path but now it's a question of slowing it down and easing up a little. 4th jhana is concentration territory which is why you're finding that correlation between the samatha and vipassana jhanas, this leads me to believe that you actually are getting up into 4th jhana and that your own diagnosis has been correct since it's not a conclusion you'd come to without direct experience of both. emoticon

The tension is likely down to over-exertion, pull back a little and don't go hell-for-leather with the noting; in Equanimity, objects present themselves without you having to go looking for them. Use this to your advantage, try to see the whole thing at once; watch how the entire field of awareness itself can actually be seen to arise and pass away, just like everything else. The sense of things shaking is likely to be related to the experience of formations: individual, whole-sensate frames of reality experienced directly. When that starts to happen, try to see what's going on 'between the frames', look at how each one arises and passes...but where does it arise from and where does it pass to? What happens in between the passing of one sensation and the arising of another?

I wonder if perhaps this is what you were talking about when you said this:

Watch out for what seems like a sense of tension, it's not really physical but it seems to happen somewhere around the centre of the head; look at how it's the same tension that arises regardless of whether the current experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. It manifests in almost every sensation but a more obvious instance of it, or one which you notice more clearly as having occurred, is what I'd consider as something worth investigating as it's like something's trying to get your attention.

It might be, but your description makes it sound more physical. I may be misunderstanding you so please correct me if I'm wrong, what you describe does sound familiar but I don't know if it's the same thing; if it's not the same thing, I suggest trying the following: Notice that tension as it happens but try to see what it is that's causing it to occur. If it's what I'm thinking it is, based on what I've understood from your descriptions, then see how it's actually you who's fabricating that tension through the, usually unquestioned, belief that "I" exist in the first place. If none of these sensations you're noting are this "I" which seems to be observing this experience, which you already know they can't be through direct experience of the 3C's, what is it that's still left to be doing the observing?

So close. I know I'm so close! When I'm mid-sit, a part of me will wonder what it is that I need to do to just push it over the edge. However, when I'm just going about things, I get the feeling that just continuing to practice will do it. However, if there's something you'd recommend to "push it over", I'm all ears.

Chill out, that's the first thing I'd recommend. emoticon Don't slack off though, not by any means, but take your foot off the pedal a bit and ease up on things during your sits. If you're already in 11th ñana then Path is potentially just around the metaphorical corner, it's about the balance of concentration and insight here; pay attention but remember that you don't need to go looking for anything, what needs to be seen is right there in front of you all the time, it's there in every single sensation you could possible experience as this body. So, if "it" is right there in every sensations, what's going on inbetween two different sensations? If "I" am present in every sensation, simply by the act of perceiving an object, then what about when there appears to be no object? What then? Where do "I" go? What's left? Anything? Nothing? If it's nothing, keep looking 'cause nothingness is just more of the same thing. It's right there wherever you look so it's just a case of seeing it clearly enough to allow it to come to an end.

Take it easy, you're doing fine and it's simply a matter of time. You can't predict it, if you think "ohhhh, this feels like stream entry" just note it as "anticipation", or whatever you want to use to describe it, and go back to paying attention to what's happening right now. By the time you've noticed the content of a thought, another sensation has arose in it's place so stay present. Constantly! It can only happen right now.

See how you get on and just keep your practice solid, everything sounds positive to me so keep it up.

All the best!

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5/13/12 11:28 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hey, I just thought I'd write one in.

I've been doing jhana. Good stuff... way good stuff. In particular, the 2nd jhana is powerful. Today, I got there and was almost reduced to tears in it. I would've been, except I had switched rather quickly from vipassana to jhana and thus was much more detached and mindful in regards to the sensations. So good!

It seems like they fly by. At this point, it seems like the best practice is to just do 'em and do 'em. I figure I can work on extending the length and deepening them and such later. I feel like I have a good handle on increasing the intensity, although I find this mostly applies to the 2nd jhana, and next the 3rd jhana. Equanimity seems more like turning the volume down, down, down, but there seems to be a limit on how silent silence is. Dunno, I'm new and just tinkering. I love to tinker. I've done mycology and gardening and just a bunch of random stuff, and it's always fun to test the boundaries. I feel as though I have a gift for development and exploration. I wonder if it'd be possible to evoke the body pleasure of the 1st jhana and the emotional pleasure of the 2nd jhana at once, or if they're mutually exclusive. I want to try rising up to the formless jhanas soon, now that I seem to be able to get 1-4 fairly consistently. Sometimes the sense of boundaries do get a bit fuzzy and expand, and it sounds like pursuing this leads to the formless fun. I also want to mess with some of that projecting of astral body jazz, or however you would say it. Has anyone stopped by to give the good ol' Brahma world a visit? Heh... And of course, I'll try messing with the siddhis too. I've read and heard enough about people walking on water to be motivated enough to try. Of course, these things aren't path and this is kept in mind.

I find it interesting that I can still seem to be distracted and have itches and emotions in all material jhanas. I suppose this may come down to soft jhananeering, but there's still an entirely new relationship to any of those itches or whatever. I always held the jhanas up as some crazy, super distinct thing, but looking back, they aren't so distinct to rule out the possibility that I've ran into them and missed them. In fact, looking back, sometimes when I had smoked weed, I'd try to meditate and get 1st jhana and just have no idea what it was. It would come on extremely strong, and essentially right after I closed my eyes, without any effort. This also leads me to the interesting topic of substances of any sort influencing your "strata of mind", to borrow from Kenneth's vocab. I find caffeine experiences to be very much like the nana of fear at times, and even dissolution. Same goes for pot. I've cut back considerably on pot, seeing that it makes meditation and mindfulness in general much tougher the day after. Actually, I predicted jhana would be an excellent substitute for any pleasure and this does in fact seem to be the case. Wasting money on a candy bar or trying to make some complicated plan for pleasure seems to be silly seeing how accessible and brilliant the jhanas are. I just know that I need to get enlightenment and stuff. There's a sense of impending need. Suffering is terrible, and as nice and distracting as pleasurable things are, I just know I need to eliminate fundamental suffering. I've been terribly depressed in life and have definitely been to the lowest of the low, desperate for the release from the suffering but not aware of the path. I emphasize that the fire that burns me to practice with diligence and progress with a sense of hurry is the fire of suffering. I just hate, hate, hate being brought down to intense levels of suffering, feeling trapped in extreme anguish and darkness. But, I suppose that's all of us. emoticon

Jhana and vipassana. It seems that all of this has a natural, organic way of fleshing out. At this point, I'm strengthening jhana, and typically start every sit by rising up to the 4th jhana and then deconstructing from there. Following your advice and that of others, I've been trying to follow all sensations as a whole, in general terms. Practice consists of rising to equanimity (jhana is like a fast lane to this point!), then seeing sensations as a whole (formations, from what I've read and what I figure). Then, it gets down to asking myself where "I" am. This leads to more sensations and then another round of, okay, now where is the true-er I? Eventually, things seem to boil down into that spot between the eyebrows. This point can be extremely frustrating, but it feels so expansive as I get feelings of this other thing, which is hard to put words on. Like I said, it feels like suddenly looking out at a huge landscape, rising from a sleep. Obviously more sensations, but it's the horizon of my practice. I'm trying to see where sensations arise from and where they go. It's tough but letting up does seem to help. I do get a headache when I get really into it and frustrated with finding "I", and I'm thinking that this is indeed from honing in on whatever mechanism it is that projects the sense of "I". Letting up and not trying to dig so deep does seem to relieve this tension, and give me the impression of being very close to seeing where the sensations come from and arise. I understand that this is also just a sensation, but I do feel like stream entry is quite close. Logically, I know that this practice will lead there.

So, yeah... all is well. The jhanas are awesome and seem to be the great catalyst for my practice. Progress is sweet, and so is actually living all this stuff out. To think I had a plan to leave my whole life behind and retreat to a forest monastery across the world in order to experience these things... Thanks Daniel, and all who are practical and open about this stuff. Being realistic gives all of us who live in reality a real insight into insight and puts practice into practicality.

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5/14/12 12:32 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Today I had a friend over for curry and a chat. He's been my good friend for a loooong time, and this summer, he wants to nail down music and lucid dreaming and sees meditation as a means for helping. I decided to teach him jhana.

Amazing! First, I did a "guided meditation" with him through mindfulness of the nostrils, pleasantness therein, expanding that pleasantness to the whole of the breath, and then finding that same pleasantness in the body, looking for 1st jhana. He got up to the point of pleasantness of the whole breath, and then we stopped, since obviously it's tough to do concentration and be engaged in talking. Then he went at it again while I did jhana aside him. He made it to 2nd jhana! First try ever, and he got up through the amazing magnetic pleasure waves of body to the pure emotional joy of the 2nd jhana! By that point, he stopped to tell me what was up. I'm intensely pleased. I meditated for months without hitting jhana, really, and he did it in less than half an hour! I chalk it up to my excellent guidance and instruction... emoticon

That's extremely satisfying. A part of me wonders if there's anything to the fact that I was doing jhana besides him and along with him that somehow was conducive. Who knows?

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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6/18/12 6:45 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Hello.

I've been busy since I've started working. Also, my practice over the last while seemed to taper off and diminish into complacency. However, through the whole time, thoughts of practice and dharma-things were part of a daily life. There was also a very subtle, quiet, yet strong pressure to get back to practice. I had the opportunity to go to a cabin with some good friends who are also interested in meditation and spiritual things. I did jhana and vipassana for a bit, and this session seems to have rekindled the fire to practice.

I read about how practice and experiences while meditating take some time to be understood, and this resonates along with the notion of consistency over heroics.

Looking back, in my initial practice, I was practicing in a valid way, but I was gearing my practice in an anticipatory manner where I would try to "get" to insights. I don't really see this as so terrible a thing, since I did indeed make progress in the linear sense by experiencing many nanas. However, I've realized that while there is a muscle for pulling one's mind into and through nanas (and jhanas), there is a separate muscle for grasping, studying, and analyzing the insight offered. It seems that my practice was too heavily geared to developing the first muscle, while neglecting the training of the second muscle.

One could argue that if you experience the nanas and "progress" in terms of going through insight stages, then you are making progress towards the goal (presumably of getting paths). While I suppose this seems true for paths/fruitions being attained, I still don't think this is entirely true through the nanas. I look at all the nanas up to equanimity as being "the cycle" which whittle away at fabrications. Yes, it seems that cycling alone will whittle away at fabrications, which translates to just practicing and moving through insight stages with consistency being adequate to make progress towards path. However, I think that directing less energy to seeking out of nanas and having the goal of rising through them, and directing more energy to evaluation of whatever nana/jhana/experiene/phenomena occur in that moment, is where efficiency and fruitfulness of progress tends to increase. Keep whittling, but don't be so anticipatory of getting to the end results that in your whittle-session you neglect keeping your whittling decisive, lucid, and efficient from present moment to present moment.

I just finished practicing some vipassana in a sit. Using a different approach, I refrained from setting up insight stages to get to and categorizing my experience into any nana. It's harder to describe my practice using the very concepts I refrained from using in my sit. However, some things are easier to put into words. I seem to have this odd, saturated feeling throughout my body. I don't know what it is, but it comes up whenever I practice now, and even when I'm sitting quietly. What feel like small bursts of bodily pleasure felt in the first jhana are coming up almost spontaneously, even outside of sits/practice. They seem to happen when I get very quiet and stop doing anything for a moment. My practice today was watching sensations and in particular, the ones where "I" seemed to rest.

Towards the end of it, things seemed very shaky, high energy, and highly engaging. I think this could be A&P stuff, but I'm not sure. Rather than being caught up in the pleasant, energetic feelings this was causing, I investigated the sensations. It seems to be that after watching/objectifying sensations for long enough, the "I" feels like it is retreating and becoming weaker/fainter. In the end, I got this quiet feeling, like the "I" had been evacuated. In this experience, perception seemed clear and strong. I then went from directing energy to watching sensations to directing energy to seeing where "I" resided. The sensations were in the head, and they felt like bubbles that I was popping with the effort of evaluation. It seemed to be that when I would "pop" a sensation and displace the sense of "I", the sense of "I" would then find a new sensation to reside in. This investigation revealed a seamless process of "I-ing", where without strong awareness, "I" can jump from impermanent sensation to impermanent sensation, creating an illusion of continuity. However, once I had objectified enough sensations for long enough, the point came where seeing sensations as transient became a background process rather than a thoroughly engaged effort. This left me free to investigate "I" in the sensations in my head. This is where things started to get shaky and high energy. I would feel a sensation which seemed to be where "I" was, and then the perception of the transience of that sensation would reveal that the "I" was never there. But in the next moment (I would guess this seemed to have a frequency of happening at 3 hZ), a new sensation which seems like I would appear, and the perception of transience would continue to reveal no "I" in this fashion. This started to make my perception seem very empty, almost like a hollow shell of mind-space or something. It also made the whole field of perception seem extremely unstable, seeming to be flickering at 3 hZ in the manner I explained. This moment gets exciting, which feels like clear water being murked up, as the quest to debunk I seems to contain more sensations that "I" can jump from.

From this practice, it seems clear that vipassana results in the real-time simultaneous deconstruction of fabrications, and building up of the threshold level at which sensations are not fabricated upon. I'm going to practice by building this threshold up until perception is clear enough to prevent erroneous fabrication at any given sensation. That seems to be what equanimity seems to be getting at... the baseline state of fabrications being calmed and greatly reduced to where the whole field of perception is seen clearly as transient.


Anyways, I'm still chuggin'. It is very magnetic, this stuff.

RE: Time to share and keep track, now that things are taking off. (WOW
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7/13/12 12:02 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Practice continues, with some difficulty. Dark night stuff seems very apparent in day to day life. The spiritual "highs" I've loved and have sought after (A&P stuff I suppose) always lead into periods of dumbfounded-ness, apathy, and then into very psychotic territory.

I'm admittedly still pretty bad with maps and putting them up to my experience, but I for sure recognize the A&P, as I always have the same shallow, quick breath, vibrations up my spine, and light flashing. In fact, I seem to be able to get to the A&P simply by focusing hard on the 3rd eye area, almost like flexing a very subtle muscle. I for sure can recognize the start of dissolution, since after the A&P event, it seems like I just come down, down, dowwwwwwn... until the breath is almost undetectable and all seems very quiet. I've noticed that dissolution can seem immensely relaxing, calm, profound, quiet, and positive while doing formal sits. However, when I seem to be in dissolution territory in day to day life, it has more of a depressing, apathetic feel to it. This leads me to note my continued effort to actually make a study of the experience and what various stages are teaching me, rather than making it all a path hunt. It's clear now that the negative effects brought on by the dukkha nanas are really only negative when content is derived from varying sensate perspectives. This is particularly clear in dissolution, which seems immensely quiet and peaceful when sitting, yet stifling, oppressive, and depressing while in day to day life.

Working with insight practices seems to be changing how I go about experiencing my life. I believe that much of the perceived fatigue, exhaustion, and apathy in day to day life is actually what happens when insight reveals the effort exerted as the mind does wacky things to "make things seem otherwise". I think that's a good way to put it. It might be hard to explain how things fundamentally are to myself, but it's clear that there is some process within where I do mental reconstruction in order to keep control of myself. It's obvious though that this process, for one, makes it harder to process experience, and two, is just somehow a lot of work that doesn't have to be done. Looking back, I've lived like that a lot... doing more than I need to in order to arrive at some sense of control and satisfaction with myself.

I posted about a process of selfing where "I" jumps from this sensation to that sensation, and that when the baseline of sensing is increased and guards the "I" from jumping to a sensation, the "I" loses its ground and is seen to be dancing clumsily from one sensation to the next as each ends and the next begins. However, I was reading Daniel Ingram's book, and found this paragraph:

One of the primary ways that the illusion of duality is maintained is
that the mind partially “blinks out” for a part of each formation, the part
it wants to section off to appear separate. In this way, there is insufficient
clarity to see the interconnectedness and true nature of that part of
reality, and a sense of a self is maintained. When the experience of
formations arises, it comes out of a level of clarity that is so complete
that this “blinking” can no longer easily occur. Thus, when formations
become the dominant experience, even for short periods of time, very
profound and liberating insight is close at hand. That is why there are
systematic practices that train us to be very skilled in being aware of our
whole mental and physical existence. The more we practice being aware
of what happens, the less opportunities there are for blinking.


This got my attention. It seems like that's the process I was talking about. I first noticed in concentration practice that I would find it hard to sustain a smooth motion of focus for a long time. I found that when my focus would break, I would kinda blink with my eyes, even though they were closed. I find this same thing happening after long sessions of vipasssana, except without the physical reaction. This isn't a spacing out like those in dissolution. It's a more microscopic thing. I'm having trouble trying to describe it so I'll just speculate. I speculate that in vipassana, you discover and weed out more and more subtle levels of aversion and clinging. At first, these aversions are to things like pain and physical things. Eventually it's easy to watch itches and not freak out. Then, emotional stuff can come up, with more and more subtle emotions and the aversions and cravings found there. However, I believe this edge of my practice is the analysis of the aversion and clinging related to very quick sensory blips. In describing the jumps of "I" from sensation to sensation, I believe I was describing these blinks and my process of tuning into them. I spoke of how the "I" loses senses to jump off of when vipassana practice continues. This seems to be coming up on formations, or in the terms I was using, sensory experience without the jumping of the "I" (or at least, a considerably reduced amount).

I believe my effort has been too strong. When I hit this area, I become frustrated that I can't seem to just press through this territory by trying hard like I seemed to be able to with the rest. I've been working on applying more tranquility and equanimity. Tranquility, to calm my mind and be sharp to do the work that must be done, and equanimity, to slow down and deal with this territory I'm in, wherever that is, without the pressure of moving forward or expecting something, and to be more inclusive rather than specific and directed with my awareness.

Bleedthrough into life hasn't really happened much, although it's becoming clear that I need to make path in order to not feel so stuck, in between, manic-depressive, and all of that dark night jazz. I am simply not in a good place and there's a strong sense of a resolution to all this being possible. Always hoping for that path...