First 3 nanas and possible A&P... Whadayathink?

Mind over easy, modified 9 Years ago.

First 3 nanas and possible A&P... Whadayathink?

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Hello. Well... I've been meditating. I just posted my experience so far in the practice log section, but I am curious to have my experiences verified as nanas. So, I figured I'd post them here, where that seems to be the place to get such answers.

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.

From reading, I'm semi-familiar with A&P, how it works, and how it may be experienced, but it seems to be easier to understand experience in retrospect after some time, and this just barely happened. I'm also interested in the fact that attained insights seem to happen all the time on some level, and that they can occur outside of meditation. I've considered that I've possibly crossed A&P in life at some point since for the last few months, I've obsessively been reading Buddhist stuff and it seem to always be on the back burner of my mind. I also can't seem to keep from sharing it all with friends. I get the strong urge to get them to practice, but realize it's not wise to be too occupied by these thoughts.

Could it be,
the A&P?
Along with nanas one through three?
And have I crossed,
have I been tossed,
to dark nights, brighter yogi lost?
Dauphin Supple Chirp, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: First 3 nanas and possible A&P... Whadayathink?

Posts: 154 Join Date: 3/15/11 Recent Posts
Like you I am sometimes very interested in placing my experience on the map of the progress of insight, and this inevitably leads to "searching out" certain experiences rather than simply observing what is happening. This in turn makes it difficult to diagnose where you actually are on the map.

However, if I had to bet—and since no one has been willing to bet as of yet—I would say you have just crossed the A&P. What makes me think this are the following points:

1. You are enthusiastic, feeling like your practice is really taking off, seeking input from others here.
2. You have been meditating long enough to make it a very realistic possibility. I conclude this from the fact that you "normally" seem to sit longer than half an hour.
3. The effect you describe where your vision seems noisy like a video camera in low light.
4. Energy rising through or around your spine, with a sexual aspect to it; and in general a feeling of increased or altered concentration and accelerated and/or shallow breathing.

The only thing of real value that I can tell you, though, is to stick with it and be consistent in your practice, because sooner or later, there will come a time when you want to roll up the mat and quit (or fundamentally change your approach), and your mind will present you with very compelling, maybe very original reasons. It is right then that you should make sure to continue, sit at least once every day (at least as much as before), but even better would be twice or three times as much. If you follow this advice when the time comes, I would expect that difficult time to last no longer than a couple of weeks, but that is, of course, a big "if."
Mind over easy, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: First 3 nanas and possible A&P... Whadayathink?

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Thanks for your reply! I believe it was the A&P as well. In fact, after two more sessions today, I feel as though I went through dissolution, fear, and terror today. If you're so inclined, you can find my practice log here:

I agree about tending to fixate on maps and scripting. However, I also have a bit of faith in these maps, as the body of experiences out there does seem to outline very real and concrete steps along the way. I feel an innate need to keep this momentous practice going, and have a feeling that I've crossed A&P before in life but not known.

One thing that is quite clear to me after practicing is that suffering is truly disappearing! I know I'm not far down the road, but after walking away from doing vipassana, I just feel as though there's a calm and an increased ability to perceive at a faster rate and to deal with any feelings that come my way, rather than act with aversion. We'll see how everything between this and arhatship goes though.
Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: First 3 nanas and possible A&P... Whadayathink?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts

I meant to chime in earlier to say welcome to the DhO, so...welcome to the DhO! emoticon

From your practice thread and your posts in this one, I would agree that you've crossed the A&P; this would also account for the boundless enthusiasm and utter certainty that this, indeed, is the way to go about ending suffering. Chances are, particularly if you're inclined towards paying close attention to your own sensate experience anyway, you've encountered the A&P at some point in the past and so you're in a strong position to recognize the way in which these things can play out. I don't know whether any of this has anything to do with your artistic background, but the ability to conceptualize and express these things so clearly can certainly help in understanding them and discussing them with others.

Dauphin's comment here: "and this inevitably leads to "searching out" certain experiences rather than simply observing what is happening. This in turn makes it difficult to diagnose where you actually are on the map." is a really, really good point and worth bearing in mind as your practice develops. The maps are simply conceptual models of the territory you're likely to encounter, as curiously accurate as they are they're just another tool that can help improve your practice by having, at the very least, a rough idea of how best to practice to allow progress to occur. Don't get too caught up in them, they'll stand you in good stead for dealing with the potentially difficult phases but always remember that your own direct experience is the best teacher and will reveal everything you need to know.

Practice-wise, I'll try to comment on your thread anyway but in the meantime here's a few tips:

1. Observe the Three Characteristics in real-time, in any sensation which presents itself; this doesn't mean that you should "note" them or treat them as another object, just see how it is that they can be clearly perceived in every sensation.

Impermanence (Anicca) is the transient nature of all phenomena, including those sensation which imply an observer. Be impermanence, watch how even "you" as the feeling of a seperate identity doesn't last for more than an instant but how the illusion of continuity is produced.

No-Self (Anatta) which is more subtle than it first appears; look at how, no matter where you look, you can't find this thing called a "self" anywhere other than in tandem with another sensation. Since no sensation can observe another, and since they're all being experienced by "you", the seeming observer of experience, how can it be that "I" am what's observing? Can a self be found anywhere? Check it out, see what you can learn.

Suffering (Dukkha) is even more subtle. What most people consider as suffering is a gross manifestation of this, suffering begins directly after the point of sense contact when "I" objectify sensations, which is the process that gives rise to "I" as the subjective viewer of these seemingly objective phenomena. Whether sensations are perceived as "pleasant", "unpleasant", or "neutral", there's this tangible sense of tension which arises; it's almost like a pulling towards something. This may not become apparent until your practice develops but it's something worth looking at anytime, whether you're on the cushion or not.

2. Enjoy your life. No matter how shitty things seem sometimes, this is the only moment you've got to be alive, right here and now. Don't fritter it away on, to quote Tarin, "petty and frivilous desires", all of these things are transient, empty and lead to suffering if either clung to or avoided. Observe, notice, and find something enjoyable in anything which presents itself.

3. If you're going to use the Progress of Insight model as your framework, learn the stages inside out. They'll all become quite clear through practice and experience but try to avoid misinterpreting one stage for another, it's all too easy to get ahead of yourself and it just causes you to go 'round in circles. I know. I did it too. emoticon

4. Practice well. If you're aiming for stream entry, get the momentum going; incorporate your practice into daily life as well as on the cushion; live this experience as it unfolds, it's wonderful, even when it may appear otherwise. Go for consistently and accuracy in your observation of phenomena, the speed at which you can notice things will ebb and flow as you go so don't fret about noting 30 or 40 sensations per second, it's something which happens naturally without "you" having to do anything.

Hopefully some of that's of use to you but I'll check out your thread and see if there's anything more specific I can suggest.

Best of luck!
Mind over easy, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: First 3 nanas and possible A&P... Whadayathink?

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Thank you for your very thorough and helpful comments.

I practiced right before I went to bed last night, and seemed to have woke up in a mode of practice. I decided right away to try to practice throughout the whole day. I definitely believe this to be the dark night. There's this flu/sickness like quality to everything, and it's very dreamlike. I've only felt this way when very sick or dreaming. I have reason to believe I've hit equanimity, and throughout my practice today, I've been able to trace a consistent cycle of what seems to happen in my perception as I practice, and each time around, it seems more intense. I'll be posting all this up in my practice log (link in my last post), and would love if anyone checked it out and commented.

Take care.