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Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations

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Hi Everyone:

I have been lurking around for quite some time and I finally got up the courage to make my first post. Here goes!

A little bit of background – I have considered myself a Buddhist for many years and I have been meditating for more years than that. Unfortunately, I have generally found myself practicing in communities full of very nice and well meaning people who were unable to help guide me for whatever reasons. I have received both poor and conflicting information / instructions over the years; I have received good information that I have misunderstood or been afraid to act on; and I have focused more on concentration practices than insight.

I first read Daniel’s MTCB in 2009 and at the time I was in the midst of an excruciating and long Dark Night. Not recognizing where I was at, I thought, “If this is what I have to look forward to, forget it. I can’t handle any more pain and suffering than this!” I figured I was too unstable and messed up to seriously get through the stages that I assumed were still to come.

Since that time, I have continued to flirt with MTCB, the DhO and my practice. Over time, I have become aware of the cycles as they are happening (more or less) and have experienced multiple fairly classically described A&P events, which have helped me identify where I am at. By the way, the first A&P event that I actually remember happened around 1996 when I was around 21 years old, but I suspect it was not my first one.

Here are my questions:

1. I have noticed that my cycles through progress of insight (pre-stream entry) have sped up over the years. I would like to know if this is a common experience.

2. I don’t seem to be experiencing progress of insight while I am meditating. Basically, whatever stage I am in during the rest of my time, I seem to experience only that stage during the sitting / walking meditation. Is this common, or is my practice in need of some work to better recognize the stages during meditation?

3. In my visual field during the day, it always looks like it’s raining or that I can notice a very fine mist. When my eyes are closed, I see “television snow” a lot or other similar kinds of vibrating light shows – sometimes with colours, sometimes with just black-ish background and white-ish lights. Through the various stages of insight, I am aware of these experiences speeding up or slowing down, and seeing them better at either the edges or in the centre of my visual field. Are these vibrations? If so, how can I determine what HZ I am noticing them at? I mean, all I can tell is that they are faster or slower, or more jumpy / edgy or more subtle. Is there a way to measure and compare the frequency easily?

I’m looking forward to some comments, advice or questions from this awesome community. I am deeply grateful for the existence of the DhO and look forward to participating (finally!).

Laura

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/19/12 7:14 AM as a reply to Laura K..
Hi Laura,

Welcome to the Dho!

I am a bit confused as you say your progress through the nanas is speeding up, and yet you don't notice transitions through the states when meditating. Do you mean that your general progress over a period of time is getting faster?

Until you hit path, when sitting, you will continue to progress from 1st nana to your current cutting edge, over and over, until you breakthrough to the next state, or stream entry. It is normal for the earlier nanas below your cutting edge to pass quite quickly the more you pass through them. For instance, you might experience a mind-blowing A&P, but as you progress to the dukka nanas and EQ, it may feel little more than a bump as you rise to your cutting edge each time you sit.

When I first started seriously meditating I was hitting the A&P, and had no experience of the first 3 nanas, They happened too quick..but they were there! Don't worry about it, just investigate where you are.

I know there is a lot about the frequency of vibrations of particular nanas in MCTB, but it is not really necessary to get into that in order to make progress. There are other ways to determine where you are, and worrying about all that stuff can inhibit progress. It is best to just let what is happening occur by itself and watch phenomena arise and pass away.

Tell us some more about your current practice, are you noting/ scanning? What are you experiencing in terms of physical sensations? How do you know you have made progress through the nanas?

Dodge.

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/20/12 12:57 AM as a reply to Dodge E Knees.
Hi Dodge:

Thanks for the quick reply. I love your handle, by the way! Very creative!

Here are some more details – sorry for the time frame estimates but I am not really one who cares to track time in any detailed way, and I don’t keep practice notes.

In 2008 or so, I experienced a most dramatic Dark Night lasting at least 8 months. I do not recall any A&P Event, but things started to get weird when my meditations involved intense sensations of someone being in the room and even breathing on the back of my neck in sync with my own breath. I was only doing concentration and metta practices at that time, no insight that I was aware of. Things also got weird off the cushion as I began having terrible gory nightmares and there were a few times when I even left my apartment because I felt like I was being spiritually attacked by large snakes, witches and demons. I frequently felt panicked and unsettled.

After a few months, this gave away to a period of intense feelings of loneliness and sadness. No more panic attacks. The weird scary stuff subsided, and then I just basically didn’t feel like I had anything to live for. I remember realizing that there was nothing new in my life that should have caused this intense dip in my emotional baseline. After some time, I began to feel angry with the world and felt picked on by everybody. I seemed to be always in a bad mood.

This progressed to such a deep feeling of frustration that the smallest things would happen (let’s say I accidentally dropped a fork on the floor) and I would want to scream and rage about it. I hated the world and pretty much everything in it. I was totally on edge and frustrated. Eventually all of this faded and things got better for awhile.

All of this that I have just described is meant to be an example of what seemed to me like a “slow moving” progression through some of the nanas.

Here is how things have “sped up” - what I think are cycles through nanas seem to be happening within a few weeks, not over several months. I now practice noting so I will try to give recent examples from both on the cushion and off.

In mid-June I had a dream where I was looking at a red door with a golden doorknob. Suddenly, a person appeared (I was still focussed on the door) and put their hand on the doorknob to open the door. At that moment, the person burst into a cloud of gold coloured dust particles. When I woke up, I did not feel bliss, I felt anxiety and agitation. I took the opportunity to look for the 3Cs in those emotions till I fell back asleep.

I felt pretty okay for a few days. My meditations were visually very sharp and I noted fairly precisely compared to other times. After a few days, I started to feel anxious. When I meditated, the centre of my vision was sort of blurry but the edges seemed to look a bit like a lightning storm. I paid attention to the light show at the sides of my vision rather than trying to experience anything else. I felt a sense of anxiety for a few days, no panic attacks but just an overriding feeling that something bad was about to happen. Then I started to feel depressed. I became less talkative and felt “monotone” in my moods. I went on a pre-planned holiday and had trouble really feeling a sense of enjoyment about it. I didn’t really enjoy flavours while eating foods I would normally enjoy. I meditated throughout the holiday and my visual field seemed very dull during meditation.

After a few days, I became annoyed by everything. I felt on edge and had to keep very close attention to ensure I treated people nicely. The intensity of my visual experience during meditation was a bit fuzzy but frenetic for a few days. My feelings of frustration intensified and I had a few emotional outbursts. The terrible frustration then subsided and I actually stated to feel pretty okay again for about four days. No bliss factor but my off the cushion visuals seemed very bright and crisp. I didn’t really meditate much during these days but my mood was fine! Life felt good again. Then after a few days of that, my senses faded down to being pretty non-descript.

Then last Monday or Tuesday, I was meditating (noting as usual) and then I decided to allow myself to drift off to sleep. Suddenly, I had a vision of a woman in a big green ball gown. No sooner did I “lock onto” her and her dress, then the image suddenly shattered into shards of what looked like a mirror. These shards flew outward (in a bursting manner) and I thought, “Cool. Another A&P!”. I immediately began meditating and focusing on the 3Cs and felt a sensation of bliss and wonderment throughout my body.

My visual field suddenly widened out and then I was looking at the “television snow” in my closed eyes visual field and this suddenly got very dramatic and large and it changed colour to a bright blue like how the ocean looks in the Caribbean. The image was almost like I was laying down in a pot of boiling bright blue water, watching it roll and bubble. I was doing my best to apply the 3Cs to this image and I was quite surprised at how solid this vision seemed. I was considering how it was not really solid and reflecting on how the last vision burst into shards. Suddenly, the fan that was clipped onto the windowsill right above my head broke (the clip snapped in two) and it fell down (luckily missing me!). I snapped out of this vision and the feelings of bliss and excitement subsided. I had a lot of trouble sleeping that night.

For a day or two, I felt pretty normal. There was a small black spot in the centre of my visual field when I meditated. I started feeling on edge and had creepy sensations. I had a gory dream. Then I started to feel very sad by Friday. On Saturday night I began feeling extremely lethargic in my body. This extreme fatigue has lasted on and off since that time (this may be due to an ongoing medical issue, not sure). My meditation during this time was “just okay”. I felt very unfocussed and the centre of my visual field was sort of dull and yellowish throughout this period, with dull but more active peripheral activity.

On Tuesday, which was two days ago, I started feeling very angry and have noticed that I have been experiencing a constant bad mood since then. Little things are rubbing me the wrong way and my husband says that I have been extremely quiet (which is not really my style). The edges of my visual field during meditation have been a bit like a lightning storm. It’s not sharp, but it’s much more clear at the sides than the centre. Last night, I was getting some interesting 2D geometric patterns that were easier to see when I looked at the whole visual field than when I tried to focus on one part.

So, I am not recognizing any transitions through the nanas during my meditations, but I think I am experiencing different stages in my daily life (roughly a few days for each stage, which seem to correspond to my meditation experiences as described by others and in the MCTB.) That’s my tentative interpretation anyway, but I’m looking for feedback.

It’s not that I mean to focus on what I think are vibrations (still looking for clarification on that) but I find my visual experiences to be the easiest to keep track of and report on. I do also pay attention to and note experiences from the other sense doors both during meditation and as often as I can during my daily life. I’m trying to stay focussed on the 3Cs as much as possible and not get caught up too much in “where I am” but I think it’s been helpful for me to compare my actual experiences with what others have reported to see if I am having similar or different experiences in my own life and practice, since I have been floundering for so long without good direction and being generally dismissive of experiences that would have been better for me to have actually investigated.

What has been helpful to me is that by paying close attention to my experiences as they shift over time, I am able to more and more trust that what I am experiencing really is totally transient, and that if I gently accept the experiences they seem to pass more quickly than if I indulge them. Also, “personality” is a very malleable concept. “I” seem to be very different throughout each of these varying stages I am experiencing, so it’s also very easy to understand that whatever those fleeting things or emotions are, they are not “me”.

My question regarding Hertz is because I keep reading on the DhO people referring to 10-18 Hz and things like that. I just wonder if there is a technique to figuring out such a thing. I can pay attention to what I think are vibrations, but I cannot count how many times per second they are occurring.

Sorry for the wall of text - it's hard to know just how much detail to give!!

Looking forward to any other comments or questions.

Laura

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/20/12 8:47 AM as a reply to Laura K..
Hi Laura and Dodge E Knees,
What has been helpful to me is that by paying close attention to my experiences as they shift over time, I am able to more and more trust that what I am experiencing really is totally transient, and that if I gently accept the experiences they seem to pass more quickly than if I indulge them. Also, “personality” is a very malleable concept. “I” seem to be very different throughout each of these varying stages I am experiencing, so it’s also very easy to understand that whatever those fleeting things or emotions are, they are not “me”.
Useful.

Anger and anxiety experiences appear to have very different feels. One is a sensation with tremendous joining (mind wants its object in anger, person willingly goes to it, can demand to be "right"), and the other sensation is a tremendous aversion (mind wants not its object, person is looking for ways to escape that object (like leaving the house, taking up diversionary activities (sometimes drug/drink/or jogging/exercise, etc)). Anger is related to the meditative skill concentration (sharp focused view) and anxiety is more related to meditative open awareness (broad scattered view). These are corrupted and transformable mental forms of the meditative developments.

I think if you keep noticing how these feelings are transient, you will start to feel them arise and pass without verbal expression and enter equanimity. Now, definitely, expression of anger and anxiety can go on for quite some time, but they are being tempered. But, as you have seen, some "stages" last 8-9 months in their peak!

The arising of equanimity also seems to need metta - the etymology of which is mitto: friend. So, one scholar-monk mentioned to me last month that "friendliness" is a good way to consider metta. We've talked about metta as friendliness here on the DhO before (but it's nice to know a scholar-practitioner agrees). This means in every moment - so long as you are not being obviously, physically threatened, one intends fully to see with a friendly, receptive sight and hearing, seeing the best in people, for example. It can be very hard, so there's also being friendly to how one fails in this. Minds learn best with repetition, and mind is willing, like an animal, to work in repetition if the activity is welcoming (friendly, receptive).

In addition to cultivating non-reactive receptivity for the visualizations and feelings, this receptivity also reaches out via daily sati: hearing receptively at the ears, for example. It can be very helpful just to go somewhere pleasant, like a park, or a back deck and train the ears to bird sounds, air, tree leaves moving, traffic, etc. At the outset, hearing seems to happen in the middle of the head, but this centricity is more likely reflecting how the form of a particular sound is being categorized, "bird sound", "leaves moving sound", etc. When hearing starts to happen "at the ears" (as with other senses), the mind moves its attention to the sense organs and the instant of sensation occurring there when sound "trips" those circuits, if you will. And now there is experienced sensation that is increasingly less familiar and un-identified ("bird" sound) and there can be moments of just sensation. Sometimes, the familiarizing mind - the mind that puts form into form-categories - "wakes up" and wonders, "what sense am I experiencing?" and it remembers, "oh, sound. and yes that it bird sound."

[Anxiety can arise here - where am I? So, one trains gently. I think Daniel recommends eating heavy foods. I think equanimity gave me twelve pounds in pizza. No kidding. It all fell right off later. "Comfort food" is a real asset (and luxury in parts of the world); this is why teachers constantly encourage us to practice while we have favourable circumstances.]

So, in conjunction with learning to watch feelings arise and pass (in a non-reactive receptive (friendly) base) and learning to detect the physical sensations that accompany strong feelings, one is also learning in body-sati what is actually happening in the senses: ah, just sight, just hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling....ah, not knowing what sense is happening, just mind being at some sensation-door.

If one has basically fortunate life circumstances (ample fresh water, shelter, some spare time, etc), these are great trainings to help show the mind the road from "dukkha nanas" to equanimity. When equanimity is well-formed then the mind is ready to start looking at what it is and can do (concentration).

Clearly by being here and discussing what you are experiencing, you're already turning a corner. This is the corner that transforms dukkha nanas, eventually, into a) naturally arising compassion for others and b) a natural curiosity to observe closely and contentedly the body and mind (meditative stabilization, concentration, settledness).

Thanks for sharing your reports.

editx2

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/22/12 10:03 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hi Katy:

Thank you for your comments. These are all good reminders and I appreciate the confirmation that I am basically headed in the right direction with my practice and where I should go from here.

I am curious about the following statements you made in your post to me:

katy steger:
I think if you keep noticing how these feelings are transient, you will start to feel them arise and pass without verbal expression and enter equanimity.


katy steger:
The arising of equanimity also seems to need metta...


katy steger:
When equanimity is well-formed then the mind is ready to start looking at what it is and can do (concentration).


Are you saying that the best way to move from Re-observation to Equanimity is to start with 3Cs focussing on impermanence, followed or preceded by some metta practice during meditation?

And then are you saying that once Equanimity arises, to then focus on samatha practice and not insight?

Any clarification of this would be most helpful! Thank you so much for the direction.

By the way, I suspect I entered Re-observation this morning, as since then I have been experiencing a feeling of intense edginess and a fine body quivering, as well as a very irritating light show (television snow / lightning) when my eyes are closed. During meditation, it feels like my eyes won't stay still and that everything is shaking.

katy steger:
Minds learn best with repetition, and mind is willing, like an animal, to work in repetition if the activity is welcoming (friendly, receptive).


YES! This is so true. It can be such a tough lesson to learn but it's pure gold when I am able to just calmly abide. I'm getting so much better at that, yet there is still a lot of digging in the dirt to be done. emoticon

katy steger:
Thanks for sharing your reports.


Just FYI, I shared the reports in order to provide additional information regarding my original questions, which are not all resolved. Am I totally missing the point, or is it worth asking for more clarification on those? I am still noticing curiosity arising with regard to these issues!

Thanks,
Laura

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/23/12 2:05 AM as a reply to Laura K..
Hi Laura,

Calm abiding is something good to cultivate. To move from Reobservation to Equanimity, try witnessing sensations in the whole body at once. Notice the nasty sensations, but also allow the possibilty of pleasant ones. Let all of them come and go without pushing them away, or grabbing on to them. Build up your concentration first.

I think when Katy talks about phenomena arising and passing without verbal expression, she means that you may find it is not necessary to 'label' experiences. Dropping the 'noting' and starting to 'notice' is a common practice leading from Dark Night through to Equanimity and beyond....Personally I found labelling a hindrance from the start, although others report quick progress through the early nanas.

The practice in Equanimity should not really be considered samatha. It is all too easy to peace-out on the calmness and solidify it into 4th jhana, stopping progress. Having said that, it feels quite similar! Rather than actively investigating experiences, the mountain starts to come towards Mohammed...less effort is needed, but you still have to be open to what is happening. Here is where you might start to get more of an idea what 'vibrations' are.

"By the way, I suspect I entered Re-observation this morning, as since then I have been experiencing a feeling of intense edginess and a fine body quivering, as well as a very irritating light show (television snow / lightning) when my eyes are closed. During meditation, it feels like my eyes won't stay still and that everything is shaking"

Let it shake!

As to the specific Hz of vibrations in each nana; I never got into that, maybe someone else can advise you how to measure the frequency. I would say that as long as you notice that speed has changed and can recognise how the nanas feel to you (which nana you are in), that is the important thing.

Good luck, keep us posted.

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/23/12 7:11 AM as a reply to Laura K..
Hi Laura -

Just FYI, I shared the reports in order to provide additional information regarding my original questions, which are not all resolved. Am I totally missing the point, or is it worth asking for more clarification on those? I am still noticing curiosity arising with regard to these issues!


The original questions from the initial post:
Here are my questions:

1. I have noticed that my cycles through progress of insight (pre-stream entry) have sped up over the years. I would like to know if this is a common experience.

2. I don’t seem to be experiencing progress of insight while I am meditating. Basically, whatever stage I am in during the rest of my time, I seem to experience only that stage during the sitting / walking meditation. Is this common, or is my practice in need of some work to better recognize the stages during meditation?

3. In my visual field during the day, it always looks like it’s raining or that I can notice a very fine mist. When my eyes are closed, I see “television snow” a lot or other similar kinds of vibrating light shows – sometimes with colours, sometimes with just black-ish background and white-ish lights. Through the various stages of insight, I am aware of these experiences speeding up or slowing down, and seeing them better at either the edges or in the centre of my visual field. Are these vibrations? If so, how can I determine what HZ I am noticing them at? I mean, all I can tell is that they are faster or slower, or more jumpy / edgy or more subtle. Is there a way to measure and compare the frequency easily?

1. I think it is natural that cycling through the process of insight seems to happen more rapidly. I also think that is common, but I don't know.

When it seems that cycles are happening more frequently, the mind starts to perceive kind of a cacaphony of cycles. Pre-stream entry that can be very stressful/cause for the feeling of despair. So, frequency itself is not necessarily a sign of pending "progress" as this area of "fast cycling" can be a traumatic place of action as much as it can generate a beneficial break-through. There's often samvega (despair) here: "how do I get out of this? Can I get out of this? I need someone's help." This causes mounting tension.

So, to work with the despair of cycling through these hard dukkha nanas, one adds gentleness and friendliness (metta). It is like the hospice patient who is receiving technically proficient care (analogy: a sitting practice that aims to be receptive and non-reactive to thoughts and feelings) and who also needs just as much as technically proficient care the friendliness of bed-side listening, "how are you?", the occasional light foot massage, fresh air from an open window, maybe watching a favorite team on TV, causes for smiles and naturally arising appreciation. Very gentle, basic friendliness. So, the tension of the cycles --- the feeling of frustration/despair/tension --- is taken up with gentle, basic friendliness, too: occasionally noting to oneself "I understand. This is frustration/tension/despair". In daily life, applying a gentle, basically friendly lens to others and all of the sense-doors helps re-awaken awareness of innocent delights. This delight start to define space and distance that one is getting from the nearly addictive contact with the dukkha nanas. (That positive definition of space and sense-doors is really useful at this pre-stream entry period of fast cycling). Developing friendliness here is an antidote to developing pleasure-gratification in the dukkha nanas: this may not be your experience, but this does happen: lacking knowledge of a wholesome, transformative way through the misery, fear and disgust of dukkha nanas some people choose to take up the dukkha nanas as a pleasurable way of life: it is often a short-lived way of life, but it alleviates with their tension, at least in the impatient short-term. They get to make a decision - no matter how bad that decision is -- and this relieves their tension of cycling around the dukkha nanas and even cycling with "cold equanimity." (Sterile, distant "cold equanimity" is not the equanimity, nor is it the fourth jhana at all: that 4th equanimity has to it something like metta and willing proximity/non-invasive intimacy). Impatience is a big feature as the cycles seems to become more frequent and unavoidable: a person may approach a nihilistic, bitter view and think this is "equanimity" simply because they've gotten space from the emotional stress of the dukkha nanas. So, one cultivates metta: a gentle treatment of oneself and others: get sleep, get exercise, eat healthy, place oneself in sun rises and sunsets, along water ways, watching trees sway, fill bird feeders, etc.

Does the above make any sense to your question number 1? It's a bit more than you asked. My simple answer would be "yes, that's common" but I've never taken a survey.

2. About not experiencing insight in meditation and seeming to stay in one stage during the meditation: I think those are great observations. Personally, I have experienced what you're saying, but I again, I do not know if the experience is common. Here is something I do to check the tenacity of my mental process during sitting. I start to breath for 5 seconds inhaling and 5 seconds exhaling. After a few moments my breath will expand further and become concordant on its own with the heart rate. This means the diaphram is naturally moving in a manner that works in conjunction with the hear rate. It's not worth over-thinking this (e.g., Do I breath in the pause or in the beat?). The long, slow deep breathing will naturally find concordance with the heart. After about four minutes, I see the mind is very relaxed, has released some of its grip on whatever thoughts/state of tension or agitation it had at the outset. Usually, as soon as I realize the relaxation has occurred, the tenacious mindset returns, so it takes another few minutes of long, slow deep breathing again for the mind to release. Thereafter, the breath seems to get shallow naturally and the mind can take up an object of focus. My favorite objects of focus have been breath and hearing. Breath has been really useful, because if it is cultivated with friendly close attention, it will generate whole body pleasure. A mind that starts to experience that really starts to see itself as something worth exploring, the world as something worth exploring, and, in this, the torment of the dukkha nanas begins the process of unbinding.

3. The mist/TV snow in your visual field, yes, I relate to that. I have also used that as object of concentration. I just sit somewhere pleasant, cultivate a friendly mind and then just breath and watch. I am definitely emphasizing a friendly mind for a reason (this friendliness is "captured" by the word "Receptive" as well, as in "non-reactive receptive awareness", but I want to be clear here about friendliness. The dukkha nanas really pattern the mind deeply and bringing a light, deliberate felicity, benignity, friendliness is very useful therapy.

Are you saying that the best way to move from Re-observation to Equanimity is to start with 3Cs focussing on impermanence, followed or preceded by some metta practice during meditation?

And then are you saying that once Equanimity arises, to then focus on samatha practice and not insight?

Any clarification of this would be most helpful! Thank you so much for the direction.
So, I would sit for about 20 minutes with the breath and I would (and do) start the sit with the breathing mentioned above: 5-sec inhale, 5-sec exhale, watch how your deliberate breathing naturally becomes longer in concordance with the heart rate, then watch how the breath naturally goes shallow and leaves you behind with an released calm mental state. This will probably use up 10-12 minutes.

Then I would focus on how the inhale can bring pleasant sensation through the head. Especially how the inhale has sensation at the lip, the nostril and the sinuses and this can enliven the forehead and top of the head. This pleasant sensation can then enliven the whole body. It is like the mind knows inhale is delightful, rich. Exhale is a natural time to enjoy the relaxation.

After these 20 minutes, you might try your eyes on a nice, non-man made object, like loosely placing sight on trees. With calm breathing, let the eyes show their particulate ("television snow") aspects and their "we see the whole picture aspects". Without straining the eyes (don't worry about blinking/not blinking, just be relaxed and friendly about your willingness to enjoy a sense-door for a while) this can be experienced for about 20 minutes. Eyes seeing the static-iness and seeing whole picture. This is not to generate a trance or a special state - it is just being human and gently attending to one of the sense-doors.

What do you think?

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/26/12 1:47 AM as a reply to Dodge E Knees.
Hi Dodge:

Thanks so much for your time in answering my questions. Your feedback has been helpful.

Dodge E Knees:
Dropping the 'noting' and starting to 'notice' is a common practice leading from Dark Night through to Equanimity and beyond....Personally I found labelling a hindrance from the start, although others report quick progress through the early nanas.


Yeah, I didn't really use the right word for the description of my practice, so thanks for bringing that to my attention. I have also found labeling a hindrance and just notice without labeling. I have basically done this from the very start, possibly because I didn't start doing noting practice until I was in the depths of a very long Dark Night period.

The practice in Equanimity should not really be considered samatha. It is all too easy to peace-out on the calmness and solidify it into 4th jhana, stopping progress. Having said that, it feels quite similar! Rather than actively investigating experiences, the mountain starts to come towards Mohammed...less effort is needed, but you still have to be open to what is happening. Here is where you might start to get more of an idea what 'vibrations' are.


Thanks, Dodge. I will try to explore this once I hit Equanimity again. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I have been only hitting Low Equanimity so far. Any recommendations for solidifying in Equanimity first?

Let it shake!


Wow, you make it sound so fun! Yes, I guess in a way it is! LOL!! emoticon

As to the specific Hz of vibrations in each nana; I never got into that, maybe someone else can advise you how to measure the frequency. I would say that as long as you notice that speed has changed and can recognise how the nanas feel to you (which nana you are in), that is the important thing.


You're right. Noticing is the important part. I was just curious since this skill seems to be beyond my abilities.

Thanks again! You've been really helpful.
Laura

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/26/12 2:13 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hi Katy:

Thanks for the point by point clarification! I really appreciate it! emoticon

When it seems that cycles are happening more frequently, the mind starts to perceive kind of a cacaphony of cycles. Pre-stream entry that can be very stressful/cause for the feeling of despair. So, frequency itself is not necessarily a sign of pending "progress" as this area of "fast cycling" can be a traumatic place of action as much as it can generate a beneficial break-through. There's often samvega (despair) here: "how do I get out of this? Can I get out of this? I need someone's help." This causes mounting tension.


I think your description aptly describes my situation and my motive for finally reaching out to the DhO community. I am definitely feeling quite a bit of anticipation and tension at times. I'm trying to just notice it and let it be, but I am noticing it. I have been working on being gentle with myself through this. I find that the bigger challenge than softening the feelings that come up towards others. Compassion and kindness towards others (even in extreme difficulty) has always come easily. Not to say that there isn't always room for improvement, but it is my stronger suit.

...this may not be your experience, but this does happen: lacking knowledge of a wholesome, transformative way through the misery, fear and disgust of dukkha nanas some people choose to take up the dukkha nanas as a pleasurable way of life...


I still notice the aversion more than the enjoyment of the darker stages. Patience is helpful, and faith that it will eventually pass (it always does).

Does the above make any sense to your question number 1? It's a bit more than you asked. My simple answer would be "yes, that's common" but I've never taken a survey.


Katy, I'm still smiling at that comment. I truly appreciate the long answer, which is really what I was hoping for. Your short answer is hilarious! Does the DhO have an official survey-taker?? LOL!

All my other questions received a thorough treatment. Thanks for providing your personal methods. It's always great to know what worked for someone else! I will try to incorporate the things I am not already doing. You have given me a lot to think about.

Thanks again for taking the time to assist me!
Laura

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/26/12 9:26 AM as a reply to Laura K..
Hi Laura -

Well, phew! It's great to know this may be helpful so far. I also find it helpful, so thank you.

I did a variety of physical practices through dukkha nanas and equanimity. Sometimes this included changing my diet to experiment, for example, with the effect of a no sugars/ketogenic plan. Often times I exercised: high aerobic stuff in dukkha nanas, and lots of yoga during equanimity. I started to go to bed by 10 p.m. (Not so much anymore) and really savor the sensation of the head on the pillow and just hearing the staticy calm and whatever else (crickets, doors being shut, car alarms). Willing, close attention to the physical senses seemed to oblige the mind to come back to sensate actuality. Exercise done with sufficient effort makes the mind attend to the body.

There mind and brain are changing: I felt at several points that what is perceived and familiar seemed to get very vast, more detailed and less organized, yet there's this personal mind trying to label and inventory and categorize all of the new information. (This may just be my perception, not your experience.) I found it useful to remember that babies are taking in vast amounts of information and they usually look kind of wonder-eyed and reach out for stuff.

The physical practices calmed the mind enough to consider just sensations (I think I am re-iterating Dodge E Knees here) and the senses, how they perceive things. For me, the "TV snow" you mentioned continues to be one of the actualities of vision that seems inherent to sight, but the mind does a great job of ignoring/filtering/not being bothered by. This static quality of the sight faculty is still something I enjoy and that I find curious: it certainly is a delight to realize I don't know everything/anything, but I can explore the senses.

About 4th jhana, I definitely see Dodge E Knees' point about not getting stuck there. I would just say, if you're not sure this has happened, grasping it is no concern. For me, single-pointed equanimity has been a very key and fortunate occurrence. It first occurred about 4-6 weeks into an immersive, sensate practice, wherein I immersed myself in being sensate and receptive to the senses. I spent my spare time sensing natural phenomena: sitting at a water's edge watching light on water, feeling breezes, learning that each sense-base is apperceiving details I had not perceived before. During occasional sits, I found that sensation was occurring, but the mind had to perk up a bit to determine what sense was triggering: sound or sighttactility? Smell or taste? Lacking familiarity is a sign that the mind is subduing and that the khanda of perception (saññā, recognition) is ceasing for a bit. After about 4-6 weeks of this sensate practice (just really taking in the senses with willingness and friendliness) the fourth jhana happened out of the blue. This is still the way it occurs: I can only set up the conditions for it, and that means that I entirely and willingly put my attention on the senses again and again, with no expectation or anticipation.

Though 4th jhana is called concentration, that sounds too active/effortful for what actually results (to me). What happens in fourth jhana is, to me, a profoundly calm, connected and uniquely focused state of mind that seems to arise without "I" and coming from I don't know where. It is this experience, to me, that allows a person to really start trusting that, whatever I think "I am", "I" can occupy itself at the sense-doors and let this other aspect of mind arise. This jhana profoundly placates the logical mind, the "monkey mind", the mind of highs and lows, restlessness, craving and anxiety. So, I do think if a person can set up the conditions for its arising at least once, that is a very beneficial experience. (and then, yes, to Dodge E's point: a whole new stress arises if I want to "keep" that jhana, force its ongoingness. It arises, it passes).

editx2: spelling, one strike-through correction

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/29/13 2:23 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hi Everyone:

I just thought I would give you all a very brief update, as my practice has evolved / improved since my earlier posts and the excellent feedback I received from Dodge and Katy.

I worked hard to increase my concentration, and once I brought it up to a high level, I started to be able to experience the cycling from A&P up to my cutting edge during each sit. I also noticed that I was going through a "bigger cycle" off the cushion, meaning that there was an overall "flavour" affecting my life experiences, moods, etc. (similar to what I described in the earlier posts)., and they were lasting longer than the "short cycling" I was able to experience during my sitting meditation.

I went on a 10 day retreat in May, and during that retreat I got a lot more experience in Equanimity. I had some very vivid, panoramic sensory experiences - everything was so delightful and the world felt so open and grand! I learned quite a bit from anticipating too much and then from slacking off too much. It was great to have the chance to "play around" for a few days, trying to get more familiar with this territory.

I believe I had two near misses for fruitions, once while on the retreat (last day) and once the next night after I got home. Regardless of what those experiences were, I have re-read my posts and know that I'm in a different place in my practice now than I was then.

After the retreat, my life got very busy and I stopped making meditation as much of a priority... Now I'm back to having trouble noticing the "on the cushion cycling". This has been good confirmation of the importance of keeping up with my practice, otherwise I will need to rebuild my concentration and work back up to my cutting edge of vipassana practice again. It's been a great motivator to keep practicing consistently.

So, I haven't gotten stream entry yet. I kind of took two steps forward and one step back. I'm really happy for that experience though, because I have so much more confidence that I'm on the right track and that I know what works. I do think it's inevitable that I'll attain stream entry if I just keep doing what I already know to do. I'm looking forward to doing another retreat as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I'll keep lurking in the corners of the DhO and hopefully I'll get a bit more brave to participate in the excellent discussions here. I so appreciate this community and knowing that there are other like-minded people out there.

Laura

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/29/13 10:16 PM as a reply to Laura K..
It seems that now you have progressed beyond where you were in the original post but I think it's still relevant to post this. The blurry vision generally happens in dissolution. It seems I also experienced it in Equanimity when the same kind of relaxation was reached but it wasn't as obvious. It's like if you get so relaxed that your eyes don't even bother to focus properly. There is also the "tv snow" effect that can happen which is similar. It's described here:

http://www.vipassanadhura.com/sixteen.html#fourb

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/29/13 8:17 PM as a reply to Laura K..
Hi Laura,

It is so good to read your update.

I kind of took two steps forward and one step back. I'm really happy for that experience though, because I have so much more confidence that I'm on the right track and that I know what works.
Awesome.

I so appreciate this community (...).
I totally agree. emoticon

I wish you the best and look forward to learning from your practice.

Simon T.-- thanks for that link. It's been a good long while since I looked at it and it's chock full of interesting things. I love how anuloma nana is described: "It is like a person who is walking along a road and suddenly falls down a hole."

RE: Questions re Progress of Insight Cycles and Vibrations
Answer
7/30/13 12:39 AM as a reply to Laura K..
Laura K.:


3. In my visual field during the day, it always looks like it’s raining or that I can notice a very fine mist. When my eyes are closed, I see “television snow” a lot or other similar kinds of vibrating light shows – sometimes with colours, sometimes with just black-ish background and white-ish lights. Through the various stages of insight, I am aware of these experiences speeding up or slowing down, and seeing them better at either the edges or in the centre of my visual field. Are these vibrations? If so, how can I determine what HZ I am noticing them at? I mean, all I can tell is that they are faster or slower, or more jumpy / edgy or more subtle. Is there a way to measure and compare the frequency easily?

Since noone answered the third question I'll give it a go
Wikipedia
The hertz (symbol Hz) is the unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI). It is defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon
So just count how many cycles of whatever is repeating each second and there you go....3 times a second is 3Hz
Kinda difficult with the snow phenomenon but vibrations get easier to guess at until they get real fast....then its kinda a guess. There are websites that allow you to modify clicks per second so you can check it out.