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There is no spoon

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There is no spoon Tom O. 1/15/10 3:17 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/16/10 7:25 AM
RE: There is no spoon Daniel M. Ingram 1/18/10 12:09 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/18/10 7:37 PM
RE: There is no spoon Jigme Sengye 1/19/10 7:37 PM
RE: There is no spoon Daniel M. Ingram 1/20/10 4:52 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/18/10 9:26 PM
RE: There is no spoon tarin greco 1/19/10 4:07 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/20/10 9:30 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/20/10 10:35 PM
RE: There is no spoon tarin greco 1/21/10 1:25 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/21/10 9:27 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/25/10 10:16 AM
RE: There is no spoon Daniel M. Ingram 1/25/10 1:01 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/25/10 4:17 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/25/10 10:05 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/26/10 10:44 PM
RE: There is no spoon Daniel M. Ingram 1/28/10 1:18 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/28/10 7:09 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 1/28/10 8:37 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/2/10 2:32 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/2/10 10:20 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/3/10 8:45 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/3/10 9:33 PM
RE: There is no spoon Constance Casey 2/3/10 11:50 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/4/10 8:54 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/4/10 9:01 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/5/10 7:54 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/10/10 10:36 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/18/10 8:45 AM
RE: There is no spoon Daniel M. Ingram 2/20/10 3:34 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/20/10 11:01 AM
RE: There is no spoon Eran G 2/20/10 1:49 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/26/10 8:08 AM
RE: There is no spoon Daniel M. Ingram 2/28/10 2:16 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 2/28/10 8:19 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 5/18/10 9:22 AM
RE: There is no spoon tarin greco 5/30/10 11:01 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 9:44 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:05 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:06 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:06 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:07 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 9:54 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:07 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:07 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:08 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:08 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:08 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:09 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/29/10 10:05 PM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 8/30/10 9:59 PM
RE: There is no spoon Daniel M. Ingram 9/1/10 11:59 PM
RE: There is no spoon tarin greco 9/2/10 12:25 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 9/2/10 10:25 AM
RE: There is no spoon Tom O. 9/2/10 6:02 PM
There is no spoon
practice notes
Answer
1/15/10 3:17 PM
I have decided to join the ranks of those documenting their practice, after deliberating (a lot!) on the best way to do it. But at the root of it all, I am doing this to allow experienced practitioners to follow my progress if they choose to, and comment on it if they choose to, without my getting in the way too much, so this thread seems the most frictionless way to do that. And I really welcome help as, right now, I seem to be driven to reach stream entry notwithstanding the practice challenges I have with huge job commitments, huge family commitments, and no time to do a retreat.

So if you have been following along, my practice reached kind of a threshold in November as documented in my "Frustration and Deliverance" thread. During the holidays, my practice dwindled to virtually nil, and so these last few weeks have been spent trying to recover lost ground. I don't seem to be as focused as I had been, and I find myself again fretting, ever so slightly, where I am on the Path.

I'll jump in with my sit last night, 40m starting with breath counting and then moving on to vipassana. After 2 cycles of 10, I felt I reached access concentration, and moved to feeling my body resonating with my internal pulse. Generally, I followed my pulse or my breath during the entire sit, only getting lost in a brain loop a couple of times. As is typical these days, I felt many "rapture waves", these electric shivers washing over my arms and upper body. I also felt cycles of contraction, bearing down, and what can best be described as "quickening". The relaxation phase after these was not as pronounced as the contractions, but once or twice there was a period of deep calm, and I could just lightly notice my breath on my upper lip. There were so many rapture waves, that I felt it important to try and watch them closely, vaguely feeling that I should be noticing their start/stop, but after the sit wrote to myself that I could have done a much better job of that.

I have been writing down notes on my last bunch of sits, but rather than type them here, I'll summarize by saying that this sit is the first in a while where I have been able to cultivate enough stillness to watch my pulse. Also, I resolved prior to this sit to be more precise in what I was observing as the last couple of weeks seem to have been more about "choiceless awareness", which is too unstructured for me. And lastly, note that I am not very good at noting, and I honestly don't know if that is a bad thing, or just a thing.

I will post my practice notes regularly and, again, invite comments from those willing to take on some mentoring.

RE: There is no spoon
practice notes
Answer
1/16/10 7:25 AM as a reply to Tom O..
Another 40m sit, not worrying about noting frequency but just staying with the breath. Again I was greeted by many "rapture waves", but eventually, towards the end of the sit, I was able to get a sustained period of stillness, lightness of breath, calm.

But a thought occurred to me. In past sits, I was beginning to notice that, if I got lost in a mind loop for a short period, upon returning to the breath I often got a pretty strong rapture wave, almost as though I was excited to be back on track. I need to investigate more, but it almost seems like there might be a tiny thought preceding many of my rapture waves, the implication being of course that if I can keep even more focused and not get engaged in even the tiniest of thoughts, the rapture will cease.

Dunno.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/18/10 12:09 AM as a reply to Tom O..
Rapture waves, pretty much guaranteed A&P.

Nice work to be getting that off retreat like that.

When you say you were able to get a period of sustained calm, it sounds like you are looking for that. Beware the 10 corruptions of insight and solidifying an insight practice into a concentration practice. This is a chronic trap.

Notice every sensation that makes up calm come and go, every one that presents as stillness come and go, fast, many times per second. Avoid getting into the habit of doing samatha practice at that point, or you will make it harder to not do it.

The rapture will cease on its own just as it arose on its own. Investigate those sensations.

I would stay with the waves when possible, all the way down the breath and all the way back up. They may come in cycles with periods of calm between them: notice everything with the same speed and precision every single second without pauses or letting up. Let it all show itself to you when you can do this.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/18/10 7:37 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
When you say you were able to get a period of sustained calm, it sounds like you are looking for that. Beware the 10 corruptions of insight and solidifying an insight practice into a concentration practice. This is a chronic trap.


Now there is something to think about! Yes, I am trying to "cultivate" calm as I am equating that (wrongly, from the sounds of it) with the onset of equanimity. I will certainly try and take the calm if it is offered, but not grab for it when it is not.

Tough.

RE: There is no spoon
practice notes
Answer
1/18/10 9:26 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Tonight, 45m starting with about 10 minutes of hand-motion vipassana. I picked this because a sick child over the last week has really drained my batteries, and last night's sit had me nearly nodding off more than once. This way I can get concentrated while actually moving around a bit. Moved to breath watching, then just sitting. I made a concerted effort this time around to not micromanage my experience, nor strive for rapture waves or stillness. I listened, I felt, I tried to just be. Yes, rapture waves came and went, and I tried to look a little bit more closely at them and where they sourced from (seemingly low down in my torso). I got lost in thought once, but was actually otherwise present for the duration.

Nothing really remarkable happened, and I was ok with that.

RE: There is no spoon
255
Answer
1/19/10 4:07 PM as a reply to Tom O..
the calm is made of sensations! when the calm comes, look at what the calm is, piece by piece, moment by moment. its trickier because its not obvious like raptures are but there is fluctuation in the experience of calm, and if you can't perceive the fluctuation then the simple fact that it's there again moment after moment (thats a big hint) should be enough for you to be able to note impermanence... which is what (for the purposes of insight practice) you're meant to be doing, regardless of whether you you happen to be taking the calm or grabbing for it or otherwise.

[edit: added the last section of the last sentence, which had previously ended 'note impermanence.']

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/19/10 7:37 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


Notice every sensation that makes up calm come and go, every one that presents as stillness come and go, fast, many times per second. Avoid getting into the habit of doing samatha practice at that point, or you will make it harder to not do it.


My apologies if you've answered this a lot previously, but how do you note that fast? Do you do a sort of beep-beep-beep thing rather than using specific labels to note? I tried some several times per second fast noting for a few sessions on retreat both to break up the rising and falling when it was getting hypnotic and also to track very fast moving vibratory sensations of leg pain. How do you deal with that much noting either obscuring the perception of the sensation or creating agitation from lots of effort?

Many thanks.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/20/10 4:52 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Good question, the one about fast noting. I switch to a sort of very quick "dat" sound in my mind initially when speeding up, then when things get really fast, by the nature of that stage (A&P) I have just been able to stay with the pulses of the sensations as they did their thing directly without any technique beyond that. Helpful?

RE: There is no spoon
practice notes
Answer
1/20/10 9:30 AM as a reply to Tom O..
40m this morning was spent in a "less concentrated" state than I have been these last few days, mostly because I had thoughts swirling in my head from a long conversation I had last night. Some recall, some "planning" future conversations (gah!). But what I brought to this sit was...no sweat. Yes, I was "treated" to a flurry of thoughts, but I tried not to get engaged and to simply watch them, dismiss them, and move on. "Just be here" is what I am working on these days.

I did get rapture waves, as seems very common now, though not as intense as other sits. This time, I tried really hard to watch them and discover their source and their motion. For very weak waves, they seem to radiate from my spine outwards, like a sheet of electricity or shiver. Not cold shiver, mind you. For stronger waves, they kind of start low down, move up my spine, and then radiate outward. I didn't have a lot of those, so I did not get to penetrate the origin as well. I also noticed, for the first time (because I was looking?), that all of these waves were synched with the out breath, with the shiver happening at the bottom of the exhalation. I don't know for sure, but I think this was also happening for the more intense waves too in other sits.

Something to look forward to.

RE: There is no spoon
practice notes
Answer
1/20/10 10:35 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Second 40m sit tonight where I was able to spend a large part of the time well concentrated. Most of the time, I had the "rapture wave" sensations, which afforded me the opportunity to watch them quite fully. Indeed, they are synched with my out breath, starting in the pit of my stomach at the bottom of the exhale, then quickly moves up my spine, along my arms, and "out" my fingers. The feeling is "electric", and my fingers buzz like when they have gone to sleep. I could watch this cycling along, and since I had my hands in a mudra tonight, it made a neat little circuit.

There were several periods of calm thrown in, but rather than bliss out I tried to investigate it too, noticing the blips and blurps that even my very light breathing induced in this "stillness".

More interestingly, the last five minutes or so were spent what I would guess was a pretty hard jhana. I didn't intend that to happen, but the raptures became really intense and no longer limited to the out breath. Additionally, my "head space" seemed to be big, as though I were in a large, dark room. I kept my attention on the raptures...they were really buzzing...and I spent some time actively noting the pulsing of the more prominent vibrations. It was pretty chaotic.

Wanting to keep investigating this, there came the dukkha moment as I coughed, lost the edge, and seconds later the bell rang. Oh well, there is tomorrow.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/21/10 1:25 AM as a reply to Tom O..
keep plunging into things like that, thumbs up d^_^b

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/21/10 9:27 PM as a reply to Tom O..
A gift of an hour quiet time, where I had hoped to continue the momentum of the last sit. Instead, anger, raw nerves, some concentration but for the most part, the "s" in this sit was not going to be samadhi but rather sila. Analyzing the source of my anger and hurt, where was the nub that started the process that, of course, resulted in less than "right speech" on my part? The anger diffuses as I analyze it, but then playing out "future" conversations just starts it back up. And if I had a better grasp of "not self" would I have played the same role in the drama?

I would have preferred to "grow" in a different direction tonight.

RE: There is no spoon
practice notes
Answer
1/25/10 10:16 AM as a reply to Tom O..
Somewhat back on track, the last few sits have been a little bit shorter (20-30m). Nonetheless, I am surprised at how quickly I am able to get to the stage where I am feeling rapture waves. I would guess that is within about 5 minutes. I am also not always starting with breath counting now. When I sit down and take the first few breaths, I am able to gauge my level of distractedness, and only resort to counting if I am particularly scattered. Otherwise I simply start to watch my breath at the nostrils or, occasionally, at my abdomen.

Last night, I deliberately sat in a room that had a loud clock ticking so that, in addition to my breath, there was some external stimulus that was always there. If I no longer heard or felt the ticking, then I was somewhere else, and noticed it pretty quickly. I also had a vague sense of going through some of the stages last night, up to Disgust where I suddenly had this strong vision of me sitting in a meditation hall and puking. Weird.

The other thing I have started to investigate is what I am "seeing". Generally, I am not getting any of the elaborate visualizations described in MCTB. Instead, when I see anything, I am getting amorphous blobs that move through my field. They kind of look like aurora, curtains of light strobing. Or sometimes, the strobing will be in concentric "round things" (not precisely circular), either strobing inwards or outwards. I have yet to find a sensation that determines what direction it goes in. If I don't see anything like that, I see "nothing" but I am now really noticing that it is not nothing but more like TV snow, back in the day when there was no cable. Like snow pixels, they are constantly in flux and, from time to time, one of them will go supernova and really grab my attention because it is so much brighter than the rest. Often, as I try and penetrate this, I will have quite strong raptures.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/25/10 1:01 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Remember MCTB is designed to handle a pretty wide range of practitioners, tendencies, focuses, and the like.

Some are much more visual than others. I actually was not that visual most of the time in comparison to some.

Don't worry about that.

The key things are the Three Characteristics, not the raptures.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/25/10 4:17 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Remember MCTB is designed to handle a pretty wide range of practitioners, tendencies, focuses, and the like. Some are much more visual than others. I actually was not that visual most of the time in comparison to some. Don't worry about that.

The key things are the Three Characteristics, not the raptures.


Yes, at first I was quite perturbed by the lack of visual fireworks (I did get the impression you had them a lot, but then I also recall you making a disclaimer that you tend to be very visual). But now I don't really care about that, and I only mention it because I am starting to notice it in my practice.

Regarding the raptures, I was asked:

"Are you noticing your breath the entire sit or do you note other sensations as well? "


To which I replied that my breath is the "go to" thing in the absence of anything else. But I am trying hard not to be totally random, a la choiceless awareness, so I tend to now only divert to really strong stuff. For example, when the raptures come, I will try and focus on them and note where they begin and end, and how they propagate. There was a sit last week where doing that seemed to trigger a major rapture, which I had then intended to investigate.

So the upshot is that I am trying to hang onto your advice about not getting too enthralled with my experience.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/25/10 10:05 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Cold, shivering cold. That is what I felt after 45m tonight. When the timer rang, I just sat there shivering for a good 5 minutes. Like my November "Frustration and Deliverance" stuff. The bulk of the sit was watching the various sensations associated with the rapture effects as they sort of had their way with me. There were also times of relative peace where I just watched my breath, simply, and ever so gently tried to feel more "spacious". I tried to see if I could sense the rest of the room behind me. And I noted the things that came into my awareness during this calm, house sounds mostly. Then the vibrations would start up again.

Nothing visual, that I can recall.

Tired.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/26/10 10:44 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Two sits today. A short 20m jaunt this morning, where I was able to quickly get the A&P raptures without breath counting, and spent the time trying to explore their vibrations and behaviour. I did sense a slight pressure in my forehead after a while, that I had not ever noticed before. But otherwise generally covering familiar territory, grooving it in I suppose.

In contrast, tonight's 45m was kind of a mess. My concentration was very weak, and was drifting in thought more than once. I was also in a lot of physical discomfort, with tension in my shoulders and pain in my knee. The latter I did explore for a while, seeing the small vibrations on top of which are superimposed the slower throbbing vibrations, but the pain was not working for me and so eventually readjusted to ease things up. Even more comfortable, I had a hard time staying focused.

So I'll end by asking: is there much to be gained by sitting through pain? My knees are not great and I don't doubt this will reoccur.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/28/10 1:18 AM as a reply to Tom O..
Schools of thought vary.

I initially was pretty into sitting through the pain, but that was in my macho meditator phase, and I am not sure it did any good. These days I am not into pain much at all, but I basically have little as nearly all of my practice is reclining these days.

I would very slowly and mindfully shift your legs or posture if it starts getting bad, but if you find yourself doing this a lot, maybe modify your sitting devices and posture choices.

Helpful?

D

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/28/10 7:09 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Helpful?


Absolutely. I just want to make sure I am not missing an opportunity to advance the cause. Two of the three characteristics are pretty plain...message received.

-- tomo

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
1/28/10 8:37 AM as a reply to Tom O..
Several shorter sits, unremarkable as far as "breaking new ground". Patience, perseverance, and grooving in familiar territory.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/2/10 2:32 PM as a reply to Tom O..
I have been holding off putting something up, for lack of much to say, until a friend's prodding suggested that maybe that is important too.

My practice has been a little scattered, and I am finding the last few sits have had more mental disturbances as I am catching myself drifting in thought. Yes, I am catching myself, but takes much longer than usual. Notwithstanding that, the things I am trying to keep in my head are to not force things, just sit and pay attention, as well as keeping half an eye towards the jhanic arc.

In one of my few longer sits over the last several days, I ended up with a more "spacious" feeling in my head, but I can't really describe it more than that. During that same sit, I also spent some time trying to focus my attention to my brow, just to see what that would do. After a couple of minutes, I noticed a slight tingling and warmth there, but it did not develop into anything more substantial.

Again, patience and perseverance. And, feeling just a little bit funky.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/2/10 10:20 PM as a reply to Tom O..
A longish 50m sit tonight. Concentration was very good, and I was able to feel myself lock onto my breath easily. Small rapture sensations came quickly, but I tried very hard to remain apart from them and to not stick-handle the experience. I got some weak sense of passing through the stages, although the dukkha ones were pretty much a jumble. Then, an interesting sensation that I don't recall having before: a distinct constriction in my throat, like I am swallowing (but I am not). I tried to mindfully sit up a bit straighter, thinking "is this some chakra thing?". The sensation remained, and a coldness spread down from my neck, and then dissipated.

Some time after that, I noted an "expansion". Previously, I had often noted contractions, bearing down. But this was distinctly in the other direction, and my arms felt very, very light. I was breathing slowly, lightly, and easily, and I felt calm and undistracted. But I also deliberately noted these feelings and sensations, rather than just hang out. The timer ran out while I persisted in this state.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/3/10 8:45 AM as a reply to Tom O..
A 30m sit this morning, where I resolved to not manipulate the experience at all. Sitting with breath counting first, then just noting the abdomen, quickly got to small raptures. Noticing, lately, that raptures are not as intense, maybe because I am just noting and moving on? I found myself back at the "light arms" state. Features include: light arms, quick noting and dismissal of thoughts, body sensations mostly internal as opposed to external, very aware of sounds (including the "sound of silence"). Not willing it to be so, but it did feel like a "place". Feeling still, but not still, as I could note small tremors, and the breath of course.

When bell finally rang, I found it very hard to unwind from this, like I was far away. I felt this last night too and actually tried to turn off my phone alarm and keep going, but that intent and movement kind of pricked the bubble. So this time I just mentally worked my way back, and it did require effort while I kept my eyes closed. Opening my eyes fast-tracked the return.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/3/10 9:33 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Another 60m sit tonight, featuring many of the same characteristics as earlier. Rapid access to a concentrated state (tingling scalp then balloon sensation in head), followed by near continuous but not extreme rapture waves. Thoughts coming and going. Breath constant and easy, no labour there. Familiar cold sweep from left neck down across torso well into the sit (but I have yet to precisely landmark this).

Eventually I got back (third sit in a row) to the "light arm" state. As before, I seem super concentrated/focused, and yet fully aware of everything around me. Checking the various sense gates, I don't really see anything, I feel tiny vibrations in my body, taste nothing, smell nothing, hear everything, and not really thinking about anything. For hearing, I seem hyper-aware. I can hear a plane go by, and the hum of the ventilation system, but most of all, the "sound of silence" which is very, very loud. Like cicadas in my head, I focus on that and my breath at the same time, and then I get a sensation of being pulled by my head, stretched tall and thin. My body is very taut, but paradoxically at ease. I then kind of visualize a long, flat, thin, pointed thing, like the edge of a knife -- it is sort of rotating in front of me -- and I sense myself as like that.

Even though it is a loaded term, "one-pointed" is a very, very apt description, and I feel as though I can maintain that state for a long time. Or until the bell rings, which it does.

Crazy.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/3/10 11:50 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Just wanted to support you in your practice. The edge is interesting: might help to ask: if there are two sides? Investigate, and feel into the process.
with metta, Constance

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/4/10 8:54 AM as a reply to Constance Casey.
Constance Casey:
Just wanted to support you in your practice. The edge is interesting: might help to ask: if there are two sides? Investigate, and feel into the process.


Thank you. I appreciate the support and encouragement from you, and everyone here.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/4/10 9:01 AM as a reply to Tom O..
Another 30m this morning, where the experience was not very different from last morning's. When I got to "that place", my sensation of light arms was not as light and I clearly did not go as deep because when the bell rang it was not quite as large an effort to get out. And equally clearly, I need more sitting time to settle into that state as hard as I apparently did last night, if that is a state I want to repeat (if only to move through to the other side).

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/5/10 7:54 AM as a reply to Tom O..
A 50m session started with an extremely fast transition to access concentration: after 10 breaths my perception zoomed in and I got a strong ballooning feeling in my head. Rapture waves followed several minutes after that. Throughout the sit, I felt myself be very present however, interestingly, when I did not dismiss a thought promptly and actually got caught, even for a breath, when I returned I would almost always experience a rapture wave. Reward or punishment? Frankly, the rapture waves are getting very tiresome, esp. when they persist throughout the majority of the sit.

I did get the sense of moving onward to more peaceful sitting numerous times, with similar hypersensitivity that I reported before. Lightness of arms, the "sound of silence" -- the latter seems to be particularly powerful in getting my concentration focused, if I tune to just that and the breath. Pressure in my head (front and top). Tautness in my body. This all did not peak in the stretched-out experience from the night before.

I caught myself wanting that a couple of times, trying to stick-handle the experience so, however weakly, I tried to just let go and accept whatever presented itself.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/10/10 10:36 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Another 30m sit, this one with a pretty clear progression. Starting with breath counting, dropping to watching at the nostrils as I start to get the balloon-like feeling in my head. Shortly after, I start to get rapture waves, discontinuous and, over time, intense. I feel my "depth of field" is very narrow, close. An I am labouring a bit with the breath, very clearly concentrating to stay with it. Then a noticeable transition as the effort drops away. I am watching for that, so I see it very clearly. The raptures continue, less intense but now more or less continuous. But I feel relief at not having to work to stay with the breath, as it gets a regular, easy cadence. The continuous raptures build a bit, and I feel a tension developing in my shoulders and neck. This straining builds and then, head first, I feel as though I am being pulled through an orifice. The tension moves down my body, replaced by very distinct ease. Again, the transition is very marked and, like a switch being flipped, the ease is accompanied by no rapture at all. A couple of times a very small rapture starts, but I find if I focus on the "ease", it goes away. I continue to pay attention to the breath and sense of ease, and then I start to get the expansion feeling again. Starting in my head but quickly my entire torso feels like, with each breath, I am getting pumped full of air. There is also this wobbly, wavy sensation as each "injection of air" goes in.

I was watching for transitions, investigating when some felt really different, but I really don't believe I was scripting this.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/18/10 8:45 AM as a reply to Tom O..
The last week or so (with some admittedly spotty practice) has been about samatha. Since I seem to be getting some traction on the jhana front, I am trying to cultivate that, ingrain it, so that I can clearly see the factors and transitions between them and push onwards. My intent is to approach the 11th nana from a concentration standpoint, getting to J4 and then vipassana-ize that to move up the Path.

I know that jhanas are supposed to be easier after SE, but for me they seem to be presenting a clearer direction at the moment. We'll see how that goes.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
2/20/10 3:34 AM as a reply to Tom O..
The Sri Lankans are into that method. Give it a shot. As Bill Hamilton said: spend all the time you can in the 4th jhana.

RE: There is no spoon
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2/20/10 11:01 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
The Sri Lankans are into that method. Give it a shot. As Bill Hamilton said: spend all the time you can in the 4th jhana.


Thank you very much for the encouragement!

RE: There is no spoon
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2/20/10 1:49 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Tom,

You may find this post from The Theravadin helpful: Buddha's Path

He makes a good case for why one would reach jhana before doing insight work, how far one should go (spoiler: 4th jhana) and has some good advice on how to go about with insight work as well. long read but good and solid.

RE: There is no spoon
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2/26/10 8:08 AM as a reply to Tom O..
A frustrating bunch of days with relatively weak concentration, owing partly due to stresses with work, commitments at home, and a new outside interest. A few longer sits (45m) move in and around J1-2, while some shorter ones (20m) barely get off the ground.

RE: There is no spoon
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2/28/10 2:16 AM as a reply to Tom O..
"frustration, frustration"

"not off the ground, not off the ground"

;)

RE: There is no spoon
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2/28/10 8:19 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
"frustration, frustration"

"not off the ground, not off the ground"

;)


Indeed! But to my "credit", I am not really feeling the frustration on the cushion. I think that I am doing an ok job of accepting what happens while it is happening. That is more my editorializing/analyzing the experience after the fact.

Thanks for checking in!.

RE: There is no spoon
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5/18/10 9:22 AM as a reply to Tom O..
It has been a very long time since I updated this thread, but not due to a lapse in practice. Aside from a period where we were dealing with the deaths of two very close family members, I have been sitting consistently once or twice a day, anywhere from 30-60m at a time. These sits now typically feature strong concentration practice, and more aggressive/precise noting which I have been always kind of lax in. I am not driven by marching through jhanas; plenty of time for that post-SE. I am trying to approach each sit as an exploration, with as much equanimity as I can muster up.

But I am not so equanimous that I don't want to gain stream-entry, badly. I just think that this is going to progress at its own pace, no matter how much I stick-handle it, and overdoing the stick-handling will actually hurt.

To bring you up to speed, here are some notes of an more intense sitting period I did this past weekend:

With the wife away for the weekend, and the kids in bed, I had a bit of a mini-retreat last night (to be continued tonight). 3 hours of meditation, broken down as:

10m sitting with kasina, 40m sitting, 20m standing meditation (qigong of sorts). Rinse, repeat three times.

I elected to use standing meditation over walking because walking always seems contrived to me, esp. in a room where I can only take about 10 steps. I only need something to give my knees a break, and standing offers a chance at continued stillness from the sit.

Anyhow, I did develop quite a deep stillness, and yet even at the end I was far from any empty mind state -- thoughts just have a way of always sneaking in and taking over. There was one point where I thought to myself "this might be it", as I was deep in what I would call equanimity and then I started feeling like I was being pulled somewhere. Difficult to describe now, as I don't remember the details (really hard to remember much specifics now, actually), but I had a sense that something was going to happen. I tried to just let go and see what developed, noting when I could, but after a couple of minutes, it passed.

That equanimity, by the way, came more from concentration than noting, as I felt throughout that my noting was sloppy. I am also not sure that the kasina time contributed anything, esp. after returning to the cushion from standing. Tonight will start with 20m kasina, 20m sit, and then straight 40m sit blocks after that (with the qigong, of course).


and
Second session was only two hours, but the same format. I also only did one kasina segment.

I found myself in the same "something is drawing me in" place from equanimity, and did a better job (I think) of noting my way through it. That said, nothing significant became of it aside from a more complete sense of not being embedded in the stuff that was swirling around me. In general, I managed to be much more precise and consistent with the noting throughout the whole two hours.

I did not mention it last time but both sessions presented that "iron ball in the throat" thing that I have been having fairly regularly. This tends to precede the big equanimous space I land in, usually by noting the sensations of the ball, deliberately lengthening my spine, and letting it work itself "up".

But otherwise, still on the peon side of the stream.


And then last night:

Last night's 50m was with no less than three distinct iron-ball periods, the first occurring within the first 10m. I don't know whether I have opened something up, or it is just "a thing". Each time, I investigated it closely, seeing the tension in my neck/throat that causes the sensation. I see it dissolve, I see the various blips and blurps in my scalp and inside my head as space gets big. At one point, a very strong sensation of being pulled into darkness that wasn't really dark because there were a lot of reddish pixels swirling around as I looked at it closely.

I also tried Tarin's thing of rapidly switching between focusing on something inside my chest and something outside (my inner ear sound). Couldn't do it without making my eyes "look" this way and that, so it was painful and annoying.


Clearly a lot has gone on at DhO in my absence, and I don't know if these notes continue to be useful to anyone. If they are, please just send me a private message (not on this thread) and I will try and rejuvenate them

-- tomo

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
5/30/10 11:01 AM as a reply to Tom O..
Tom O.:
It has been a very long time since I updated this thread, but not due to a lapse in practice. Aside from a period where we were dealing with the deaths of two very close family members, I have been sitting consistently once or twice a day, anywhere from 30-60m at a time. These sits now typically feature strong concentration practice, and more aggressive/precise noting which I have been always kind of lax in. I am not driven by marching through jhanas; plenty of time for that post-SE. I am trying to approach each sit as an exploration, with as much equanimity as I can muster up.

But I am not so equanimous that I don't want to gain stream-entry, badly. I just think that this is going to progress at its own pace, no matter how much I stick-handle it, and overdoing the stick-handling will actually hurt.


surely, you are noting the desire-to-, including gain stream-entry, as well as stick-handle it? (with the noting of the desire not for the purpose of getting rid of it but for the purpose of seeing it as it is - this feeling of desire, from moment to moment, contains one of the three keys).

Tom O.:

Anyhow, I did develop quite a deep stillness, and yet even at the end I was far from any empty mind state -- thoughts just have a way of always sneaking in and taking over. There was one point where I thought to myself "this might be it", as I was deep in what I would call equanimity and then I started feeling like I was being pulled somewhere. Difficult to describe now, as I don't remember the details (really hard to remember much specifics now, actually), but I had a sense that something was going to happen. I tried to just let go and see what developed, noting when I could, but after a couple of minutes, it passed.


hmm.. try just kind of remembering the quality of that experience from time to time, and remember to have fun (you know you want to).

Tom O.:

I found myself in the same "something is drawing me in" place from equanimity, and did a better job (I think) of noting my way through it. That said, nothing significant became of it aside from a more complete sense of not being embedded in the stuff that was swirling around me. In general, I managed to be much more precise and consistent with the noting throughout the whole two hours.

I did not mention it last time but both sessions presented that "iron ball in the throat" thing that I have been having fairly regularly. This tends to precede the big equanimous space I land in, usually by noting the sensations of the ball, deliberately lengthening my spine, and letting it work itself "up".

But otherwise, still on the peon side of the stream.


this sounds like fun.

And then last night:

Last night's 50m was with no less than three distinct iron-ball periods, the first occurring within the first 10m. I don't know whether I have opened something up, or it is just "a thing". Each time, I investigated it closely, seeing the tension in my neck/throat that causes the sensation. I see it dissolve, I see the various blips and blurps in my scalp and inside my head as space gets big. At one point, a very strong sensation of being pulled into darkness that wasn't really dark because there were a lot of reddish pixels swirling around as I looked at it closely.

I also tried Tarin's thing of rapidly switching between focusing on something inside my chest and something outside (my inner ear sound). Couldn't do it without making my eyes "look" this way and that, so it was painful and annoying.


the thing to do when this happens is to use the eyes looking this way and that as the 'something outside' (so that you're going back and forth between 1-the sensations of the eyes moving and 2-the feeling of the knowing of it happening at the chest). do it if it helps, disregard the technique if it doesn't - one tool among many possibilities.

tarin

ps have fun

RE: There is no spoon
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8/29/10 9:44 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Once again, it is time for a long-overdue update. While I used to cross-post my online journal in more or less real-time, that was getting a bit too hard to keep going. And yet I feel I should continue this thread so that my friends and mentors here at DhO can see what's been going on and, honestly, I really welcome any feedback. To get some decent continuity, I will replicate a number of journal entries pretty much verbatim, so please excuse any issues with time/tense as you will be seeing this a few weeks after the fact.

By way of introduction, I should say that for a number of weeks prior to the posts you are about to read, my sits have largely been in Equanimity for most of their duration or, when the mood struck me, I was playing around with walking up the jhanas that I had access to (J1-J4). The latter was still imprecise, but I seemed to have quite decent concentration and could replicate these jhanas with some effort.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:05 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 7 2010, 7:53 PM EDT
I have been holding off posting this until I had a better sense of what is going on. Since I don't have the latter, I am going to put this up there as possibly a good case study in an SE-fakeout, so you can read about it in more or less real-time.

I sat down last night with nothing but time on my hands. Now that I have no qualms about sitting in a chair, discomfort was no longer going to be an issue, and so I planned to just sit and get it done. I did set the timer for 90 minutes, but only to take a small break and get back into it.

Anyhow, the practice started as has been lately: some verbal noting, and then soon after pulsing and the third eye stuff. I found I was able to notice the different modes again: twitchy vibrations of the eyes and eyelids, a steady thrumming inside my head, and very quick fluttering of the visual field, usually limited to a specific spot. I also noticed that, generally, I could only notice one of those at a time. Because I was sitting for so long, thoughts did come and go but I was not engaged by them and I noted them away and went back to whatever I was looking at. Occasionally, the vibrations would be very pronounced in my fingers, and I would switch to them. I seemed to be able to watch much faster tingling in my fingers this time.

Sometimes I really had to hunt for the vibrations, which seemed wrong. Too much effort. I tried to do the "empty mind" thing, and maybe it helped. Eventually, I always got back to something.

Then very suddenly, there was a tremendous pressure in my chest, as though someone were sitting on it. It felt kind of like a rapture but 10x as strong. This pressure moved up quite rapidly into my head, and the tension up there was huge. Jaws clenched, it felt as though my head were being stretched. I thought "holy crap, is this it?", but then quickly just went back to noting all the sensations: the pressure, the pulsations, the chaotic visual stuff. Pressure, pulse, pressure. It lasted for a minute or two, and then quite rapidly it evaporated. In its wake was quiet, real quiet, crazy quiet. It seemed like a whole lot of chatter that used to be in my head was no longer there. I sat that way for another 10 minutes or so, during which the bell rang, but I kept sitting, loving the quiet bliss. I then got up, feeling kind of stoned.

So that is what happened. Here is what did NOT happen. A blip/discontinuity/cessation. It would be more accurately described as a mental orgasm, including the post-coital bliss afterwards. Even 30 minutes after, I still have a buzzed feeling in my head. WTF???

An hour later, I sat for another 60m. This time where I had multiple (3 or 4) surge/bliss sequences, with surge being only slightly less intense and the bliss being intensely jhana-like in the sense that I was totally absorbed, and totally NOT striving for anything. Just sitting. While similar to bliss I have experienced in the past, the main difference was the degree of bliss. 10x bliss. I also had a final surge that was a total body thing, head to toe. Intense.

This morning, 30m. I had a distinct body pulse right from the start, and easily focused onto body vibrations. Visual strobing and fluttering was more elusive. Then an energy surge starting at my crown, and then it felt as though my whole head was clenched, building into clear pulsation/vibration. The whole visual field was strobing with the pulsing, at a rate that was not too fast but certainly faster than my heart rate. I tried to disembed, but I was pretty engaged. Eventually, the surge waned, but this time without a dramatic release/bliss wave.

Later this morning, 45m where, upon sitting down, I immediately got visual strobing. Several periods of the same pressure build in the crown, clear pulsation in my head. Disembed and watch, trying to note pulse, pulse, pulse. But as earlier, the wave just dissipated rather than "crested" into the crashing bliss.

So then I changed tacks, and started investigating jhanas. I zoomed into J1, very absorbed with close, tight focus. I stayed with it until I could feel a rapture building in my lower body and arms. It slowly engulfed me, followed by bliss and a feeling of "inflation". Recalling cues, it did feel as though I was in touch with my whole skin, but maybe that was just scripting. But I stayed with that inflated sensation until I seemed to zoom into my head, but not tight like J1, it was much more spacious, and almost as soon as I "got there" I began to see strobing again. There followed several more pressure periods but, again, no great bliss wave. I got up from the sit feeling very stoned.

So that leaves me saying: WTF? Was this SE? If so, where is the cessation, as clearly none of these sits had one? I will be doing a long sit again tonight, so we'll all have to wait and see.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:06 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 7 2010, 10:55 PM EDT
Well, the story just keeps getting weirder. 90m tonight, starting immediately into body pulsing. Whatever else, it seems like when I sit down I am pretty much ready to go. But I chose to ignore the pulse, and just focus on the breath to see where that takes me. I noted the rising and falling, and all the little jogs and zigs and zags of the inhalation and exhalation. In between, I noted tingles in my hands.

It was a slow ride up, but eventually I found myself (where I have gotten much faster using the technique Kenneth showed me) seeing and feeling vibrations in my field of view. Details are murky right now, but what does stick with me is that at one point I was observing some vibration and the next moment I had this A&P rapture wave thing. Blip would, indeed, be the right word, as opposed to cessation, because it was subtle and fast. I'm not holding that out as anything significant, as I can't believe that is IT.

Anyhow, a short while later I got this body buzz, as in my whole body felt like it was literally BUZZING. I could note the individual vibrations, even though they were pretty swift. As that subsided, my visual field started to have a dark "hole", and I got the sensation of being slowing pulled into the hole by my forehead. The hole got bigger as it got "closer", and as I was getting pulled down into it things kept getting stiller. No visual lava lamp things, just kind of...nothing. And the way I was getting pulled, I'd bet that if I opened my eyes, my nose would have been pointing down and I would be looking into my lap. I felt absorbed by the stillness, and it was pretty damn cool. I recall a rapture wave at one point, but otherwise the details are indistinct. I wish there were a way to record this stuff.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:06 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 9 2010, 11:06 AM EDT
After missing yesterday due to family stuff, I was back at it this morning. In all honesty, it felt scattered, without a plan. Here is what I *could* do:

Immediately after sitting, I could feel vibrations in my hands, of differing frequencies superimposed on each other. Slow, heart rate, trivially easy. Faster, chaotic blips, sort of like twitches but my fingers weren't moving. Very fast buzzing in finger tips, where I could notice the buzz but too fast to actually see a single wave. But it took a minute or two to get my mind focused enough to get an A&P rapture. I was able to then start noticing various vibrations in the visual field, but my concentration on them was spotty, partly because I did not really know what I should be looking for if, indeed, I am now a stream entrant. I found my attention drawn away to various thoughts during this: planning, memories, worry, frustration. Some pressure build up in the crown, but nothing dramatic ensued.

But I continue to have doubts about SE because, as contrasted with other recent winners, I don't feel different. I don't feel huge elation/joy. I am not buzzing with energy, and can sleep the whole night just fine. I don't feel frictionless with the world. And I am not unconditionally "accepting the truth of the dharma".

I don't want to sound overly pessimistic or negative. But I am just calling it like I see it. The upshot, however, is that pre- or post-SE, the practice remains the same. So it should not matter, even though to me it does.

RE: There is no spoon
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8/29/10 10:07 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 10 2010, 4:00 PM EDT
Sits yesterday and today continue to be a bit of a mixed bag. I am reluctantly admitting that, at a minimum, I sit down to almost instant concentration, with an A&P rapture coming within approximately a minute. Otherwise, though, I am trying to not expect much and simply watch what happens. One thing I am keeping an "eye" out for is strobing; I am noticing that stuff I see in my visual field has a high-frequency flicker, like the refresh rate on a monitor. I am trying to see that more clearly....uh...because.

Interesting that I happened to reach the section on "Stream-winner" last night, in "Saints and Psychopaths". Here is what Bill Hamilton has to say from the opening:

Stream-winner is the first level of enlightenment. I have never been satisfied by any of the descriptions of what changes occur as a result of attaining it. I doubt that I ever will because it is sort of like describing shifts in shades of grey. Also there is a wide variation in changes from individual to individual as the result of attaining any level of enlightenment. This makes clear definitive statements very difficult.

Amen, brother.

He then presents a variety of classical descriptions that you can tell he is not really buying into. I wonder if he will eventually get to what he really thinks.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 9:54 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 11 2010, 10:55 AM EDT
A 45m sit this morning was interesting. First, I began by walking up the jhanas again. My thinking here is that I want to be able to more clearly recognize the transitions between them using my new-found superpowers (heh, joking here), and so using them to get up to a point where I can easily observe other effects seems like a good plan. Regardless of whether I am pre- or post-SE, I seem to be able to do this much better now than, say, last week.

So, I sit watching the breath and within about 30s I get a "whoosh" effect in my head and super-tight focus. I had previously associated that sensation with access concentration, but I am beginning to see that this is also J1: it is just in the degree of focus that I end up with. Continuing with the breath, about 2m in I start to get a "rush" feeling and then each exhale gives me rapture-like shivers. It is tough to keep this going because the shivers are very distracting, but continued focus on the breath does lead me out into a more relaxed state. Weak sense of "inflation" here...certainly, I have had it much stronger. This J3 is the most elusive of the bunch for me, and I have a hard time dialing it in. But I think I recognize it now as the calm after the rapture-filled J2.

The transition to J4 is pretty stark. One moment I am just kind of expanding, then next there is another "whoosh" and I am back inside my head. But instead of the tight focus of J1, it is substantially lighter and open. Peaceful, as in J3, but now I am inside my head to such a degree that I don't notice my limbs nearly to the same degree, if at all.

Once in J4, I started to see visual vibrations almost at once, and so I started noticing them before I realized it, so I could not cultivate the feeling of J4 much beyond the transition.

As I noted the visual vibrations, I noticed that an old astronomy technique seemed kind of useful. When you are looking at faint objects in a telescope, it helps to use what is known as "averted vision", essentially looking out of the corner of your eye, because the eye is more sensitive to light there. If you look right at something faint, it often disappears. "Averted attention" seems to help here, as some subtle fluttering in the visual field sometimes goes away when I focus directly at it, but if kind of go "LA LA LA, I am not looking at you..." and indirectly watch it, it sticks around more.

I then turned my attention to my right hand, where I felt intense buzzing. While I could feel my pulse, the buzzing seemed way too fast to deconstruct. Then I looked at just my thumb, and was surprised to notice that the superfast buzzing was only hard to deconstruct when I considered all my fingers at once. If I looked at just one digit, it was way, way more noticeable. In fact, it clearly seemed to be the superposition of three things: the HR pulse, a somewhat random series of quicker pulses (2, 3, or 4, with a pause either at the end or somewhere in the middle), and tiny micro-pulses, like little pinpricks (too fast to count, but something like 4 or so per random pulse).

I was able to watch this for quite a while, during which a couple of times I started to get a pressure build-up in my crown or my forehead. I tried to correlate any pulsing in that build-up with the sensations I was tracking in my thumb, but did not really get anywhere. And the pressure just fizzled each time.

The bell was received with disappointment, as I could have explored that for quite a bit longer.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:07 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 16 2010, 3:36 PM EDT
I sat for 30m earlier today, and had a curious thing happen. Quite short into the sit (5m perhaps), I had two head "explosions" roughly 1m apart. These kind of felt like the head part of an A&P rapture, but absolutely missing the other sensations in the body. It was in the head only, and they were very quick and very intense (thus my "explosion" descriptor). Each was preceded by a very quick ballooning sensation starting in my crown, and my head actually felt as though it were floating up. Then bam.

The remainder of the sit was just sitting. No overwhelming sense of calm or anything, just noting sounds, the occasional thought/story, and the myriad sensations in my body.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:07 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 18 2010, 3:38 PM EDT
The last 3 sits.

60m of very tough going. Lots of stories, no real sense of being locked into any vibrations for any length of time. No A&P that I can recall. Frustration. Disappointment.

45m, started by watching body pulse then moving to vibrations in visual field. Fluttering in discrete locations, then more subtle strobing of whole field. Still, often caught in stories, and it was generally tough to stay very focused. There were several small energy surges, and then one HUGE body surge after which there was more peace/bliss.

35m, started with breath and working up through the jhanas. Raptures in arms and neck, stayed focused on breath, eventually leading to a large expansion feeling in head. I then moved to perceiving visual vibrations. After a while, I got a strong energy surge up through upper body, neck and head. Strong pressure on crown. Tried to observe impassively as a witness, noting all the various sensations. Event lasted several minutes after which the pressure gradually fizzled. Remainder of sit was stories, tension, relaxation.

Planning a long sit tonight as I have the place to myself. Maybe I can get a better idea of where the hell I am after that.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:08 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 18 2010, 10:21 PM EDT
So then.

It starts with me sitting with nothing but time on my hands. I set the timer for 2h in case I fell asleep, but mentally I resolved to keep sitting until I got it done.

No rush, following my breath in, with J1 and A&P coming quite swiftly. I don't recall the same dramatic "inflation" feeling this time around leading into J3, but I easily stay with the breath until I am quite still. I then try and turn my attention to the strobing, not fluttering, of the visual field. Observe till it disappears, then watch the breath. Back and forth. Stories do come and go and, if I am gone for more than a heartbeat, the return often carries a "rush" sensation.

This goes on for about an hour. Then while watching the visual strobing, unmistakably, everything winks out and back. Like a slow camera shutter. Before I could say to myself "WTF?", I knew what it was. I then starting wondering, "was that IT?" but caught myself and just suspended questioning and watched what would happen next.

The immediate "next" was not too dramatic, just a subtle quietening of the background hum in my head. Maybe the questioning/doubting jinxed things a bit. Then, about a minute later, the huge pressure build up in my chest, neck, head up to the crown. Release from that into more quiet. I used the quiet to continue observing strobing, but it was pretty darned peaceful, and I was ok with just watching the breath too. Eventually I could feel myself unwind, get more "solid" with body sensations, and I got more excited to write this down. Getting up, however, was a challenge as my head felt very "stoned".

So then. Was that IT? If that was IT, does that mean those other huge surges over the last week or more were preceded by IT and I just didn't notice? As before, I will now wait and see what follows, but I kind of feel ok with this. w00t.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:08 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 19 2010, 8:36 AM EDT
I follow my last post with another 30m sit before bed. Maybe it was just a hangover from earlier, but my head felt very "puffy", and I immediately sat down to equanimity. I felt very still, grounded (yes, I was using a cushion this time), and peaceful. Just sitting and letting be, trying to get out of the way of whatever might present itself. Nothing did, but that was ok. It also seemed to me like the strobing was much more elusive. I don't want to say it wasn't there, but it was definitely not as apparent. The visual field was much more uniform and stable, no lava lamp blobs.

Tinge of disappointment that nothing else happened, but went to bed very calm.

This morning, I tried a 30m sit straight from bed, before coffee even. Apparently not a good idea. Very busy mind, restless body. Just not getting "into it". Nothing else to say but "blech". Will do a more serious effort later this morning.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:08 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 19 2010, 8:32 PM EDT
I have had a headache all day, which is unlike me. Kind of like a hangover. On my sit this morning, I attributed it to lack of coffee, but now...?

As I sat just now, for 90m, I could immediately feel this "full" sensation in my head...puffy...none are the right words. But from the get go, that is where the action was. Thoughts, memories, planning...quick to jump in, but none carried me away. I was acutely aware of being present, feeling and hearing everything. Tingling in hands, strobing in visual field, pressure in my head in waves, or in synch with the strobing.

Three or four times, I don't recall precisely, there were these sudden "head bob" moments. I came back from each with a start, hyper-aware. Were those cessations? To me, honestly, they felt the same as nodding off to sleep. How can I tell the difference?

The middle part of the sit was a roller coaster. At about 1-2m intervals, I was having intense waves of energy in my entire body. It didn't start anywhere in particular, and was more like the simultaneous firing of every neuron in my body. One or two were less intense, but there were at least 20 that were really mind blowing. Each included intense pressure in the head/crown, and as I rode each one I tried to be apart from it, disembedding, watching my body react, while at the same time noting things like the birds chirping or a cool breeze blowing in. Odd, and tiring.

The last part, 20m or so, was relatively tame in comparison, but again I was noticing how "there" I was for everything. Maybe I am looking for it, but the degree to which I was present for most of the 90m was markedly different from most of my practice up until now.

Maybe something has changed after all.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:09 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Aug 20 2010, 5:36 PM EDT
Three sits so far today, 30-40m each and, for each, I resolved to have a fruition if possible. In all cases, I found that I had to work a bit to get concentrated unlike, say, last week where I pretty much sat down to A&P. Nonetheless, all sits ended up very "present" and I was able to attend to the usual vibrations and sensations. The first two sits were otherwise uneventful, although in sit 2, there was a point where I got a sensation of being pulled, then falling. I felt that if I could just "let go" a bit more, something might happen. I tried to completely surrender, but it didn't resolve into anything.

In sit 3, I was watching nothing in particular -- exactly what, I don't recall -- where I was met with a "head bob". Immediately preceding it, I felt tension building in my crown, and immediately after all tension was gone and a wave of relaxation passed over me. This felt like the "falling asleep" thing I mentioned yesterday, but I was most decidedly not sleepy. "Blip" would be the word! Note that this did not have a visual black-out, just a skip in my mental LP.

Later in sit 3, I had a sudden whoosh of blackness (not black out) and pressure build in my forehead that, literally, pushed my head forward and down somewhat. I noted and watch, and then...whoosh...release, followed by, literally, my head being pushed back up. If someone saw that, they probably would have been dialing 1-800-EXORCIST in no time. Finally, sit 3 also had a falling episode where, again, I tried to surrender to it. But again, nothing.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/29/10 10:05 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Most recently...

my sits have been missing a sense of...engagement. It is like I really have to work at staying with the noting, or following the breath. I will end up in a equanimous state eventually, but it seems to be by a roundabout route. No raptures for several sits now. If I did get SE, might this be the beginning of road to the second Path? I feel as though I need to "get back to basics", as though I am drifting.

and

A back-to-basics sit seems to be typical of my practice at the moment. Starting with noting out loud for a good 5 or so minutes, trying to arrive at a point where breath became easy to stay with. I recall noting breath, then the very clear, fast, vibrations in the visual field, but as I tried to focus on the start/stop of those vibrations, I felt I had lost the skill to do so. The sit felt immature, with no raptures or typical jhanic events. Hmmm, am I back at the beginning of the ride again, or am I still on the first lap and just being spanked for jumping the gun on where I really was?

and then even today, where I sat for 45m and was able to stay quite present, noting both physical vibrations as well as vibrations in the visual field, I did not *feel* like I was in the game. Hard to put into words still, but something is not the same. If I were firmly convinced of stream entry, I would say for sure I was starting up a new Path. But I just...don't...know.

Frustrating (noted).

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
8/30/10 9:59 PM as a reply to Tom O..
I sat today with the intention to deliberately see what might be open to me, assuming I was on a new Path. Since jhanas worked well for me in the past, I started there.

I found that J1 was quite easily accessible, sharp and narrow, and with some more effort than I recall having to do in the past, I was able to maintain concentration and move up to J2, with its mild body raptures. There I seemed to flounder, and no amount of willing my mind could get me to transition to J3. I fell back to noting, rising and falling, and the core pulsing in my body being my focus of attention, but tingling in my hands and several short mind loops were "features". I recall eventually noting thoughts quite quickly, especially mental images, before they became more fully formed and powerful. And soon after, I found myself in equanimity.

A flat, wide visual field, no lava lamp blobs. And a very clear flickering of the whole field, like that bad computer monitor. I was able to stay with that flickering a good long time, trying to "feel" it and become synchronized with it. I could correlate the flickering with some other sensation in my head that I could not localize, and it was very fast, much faster than my heart rate.

I felt really locked into this mode, while still being aware of stuff around me, including several chipmunks chattering back and forth. Sometimes there chirps seemed to bounce into me, and I could feel the physical effect of the sound in my body as it dissipated quickly.

While I stayed like this for at least 10 minutes or more, it did not develop further and the bell rang.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
9/1/10 11:59 PM as a reply to Tom O..
Energy, movements, dramatic openings, cycling through energetic stuff, more of that, on and on, makes me think A&P, just so you know. Head drops can occur a number of places. The blips and drop outs are not diagnostic for any particular stage without more details, and, given the surrounding stuff, are more likely A&P territory. Stream entry tends to barely be an event in comparison and tends to come out of a place of calm and even of forgetting to practice, not all that heavy kundalini-esque dramatic stuff.

All sounds like fun,

Daniel

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
9/2/10 12:25 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
yeah i can't tell either.

tom - after a blip and you ask yourself, 'was that it?', what does your mind do?

tarin

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
9/2/10 10:25 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
tarin greco:
yeah i can't tell either.

tom - after a blip and you ask yourself, 'was that it?', what does your mind do?

tarin


In all honesty, Tarin, I don't recall and blips, cessations or whatever, are not something I can call up now. I seem to be back a bunch of steps.

RE: There is no spoon
Answer
9/2/10 6:02 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Energy, movements, dramatic openings, cycling through energetic stuff, more of that, on and on, makes me think A&P, just so you know. Head drops can occur a number of places. The blips and drop outs are not diagnostic for any particular stage without more details, and, given the surrounding stuff, are more likely A&P territory. Stream entry tends to barely be an event in comparison and tends to come out of a place of calm and even of forgetting to practice, not all that heavy kundalini-esque dramatic stuff.

All sounds like fun,

Daniel


An A&P diagnosis is always kind of a let down. Let's say I can get back to high equanimity again. Knowing what you know now, and if we assume that I may have had a cessation so that I am not breaking new ground, do have a suggested technique for helping to trigger another?

Edited to add, I hope I did not come off sounding ungrateful. Thanks, as always, for any input you can offer!