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Simon T. Journal

Simon T. Journal
7/31/12 7:56 PM
I usually post only when I have a specific question and I don't like when the thread is too much about me specifically but I will keep this thread to gather all the information related to my practice found elsewhere.

Back to reality (boring stuff about my retreats and coming back to Canada)

RLS, ADHD and update on my practice (My attempt at describing what I considered to be the A&P stage)

Tension in the brain (Got good advices there)

Micro Vs Macro Stages
(pseudo dharma science mumbling)

RE: Simon T. Journal
7/31/12 8:57 PM as a reply to Simon T..
Here is my humble attempt at self-diagnosis:

I started 1 year ago in a state of neurosis, physical tension, anxiety (that I now assimilate to the dark night) with strong resolution (typical sell-everything-fly-to-Burma stuff). I theorise that during my retreats last summer I reached equanimity which at that time I identified as either access concentration or corruption of insight. It's the stable, equanimous and panoramic vision that I would experience similarly much later when getting out of self-diagnosed re-observation (more on that later) that make me advance that hypothesis. I would end up getting back in a state of neurosis pretty fast and leaving the retreats.

Fast forward to this winter... depression-like symptoms, confusion, very weak practice. End up doing some shrooms (first time in my life) to see if the effect on depression was as some report it to be.

Indeed, it really kicked out most of my depression and I started to be a functionnal human being. My meditation practice taked off at that time, 2-3 hours a day sitting + constant noting during the day. I had energy, I was able to do all kind of things just by being mindful and could handle pain and tension pretty much (my resolve was strong). I would have restless legs syndrome-like phenomena for a while. Practice would really help me get rid of tension and was even necessary to be functionnal.

For a few weeks I would experience lights and head rapture. I managed to get beyond those and would experience sometimes a nice jhana-like state that I could keep for 90 minutes. Around that time, I started to see a single fast flash of light every sitting and I would feel that things were shifting after that. I would go back at my desk and feel slightly integrated to my environment and relaxed. There was something strange to the visual too. I started to wonder if that was dissolution.

Then one week things started to get more crazy. I would sleep only 4 hours per night, having all kind of crazy dreams. Full body spasms became more intense before going to sleep. I had even more grandiose-manic ideas. It lasted maybe 5 days and one night I found my brain "lock" in mindfulness. There was no other choice but paying attention to everything arising. I say "lock" because the tension in my brain was pretty intense. Then I had this flash of light I talked before (it's really never impressive, like a camera flash) and then I think I experienced all the stages up to equanimity during the night (some stages while sleeping) but I don't have very good memory of that (except that hellish nightmare of corpses...)

Next day, things were pretty much back to normal (manic phase was over). I did a short meditation and got again the camera-flash but this time, I really felt the change instantly and it was drastic. Every single tension in my body were gone. I was able to quit Lyrica on that day. I was using it to deal with all the tension in my body for the last 18 months. I felt like a rag doll left on the bed. I would feel no will to move, no discomfort. While my noting was very good before, now I was always late to the show. I would touch something and the time that my mind figure out the sensation, I would have a feeling that my attention was already somewhere else. It's very confusing and very telling on the curious nature of the mind. This sense that the mind isn't entirely sure of what it's aware of. From memory, it's like if first there is a gross evaluation of where the sensation comes from (ex: the hand) and it get more precise later (ex: the tip of a finger) and there is a lag between the two and an overlap the first step overlap with the last step of the previous sensation.

I noted this in the past about what I considered to be dissolution:
"It seems that there is three modes to dissolution:
In the first mode things feel pretty normal except that I'm lost in my thoughts a lot.
In the second mode, my mind is very quiet and I feel embedded in my environment. I feel heavy and has no wish to move.
In the third mode, I start to have all kind of weird phenomena, vibrations, distortion, foggy vision, etc. This mode open the door to fearful events."

In the following days I experienced surprising terror (AAAh! moments), mostly related to some distorded visual.

Then for a few weeks, I would wake up in what I consider to be dissolution and rise in the stages during the day at work. In short, my understanding of the stages was:

Dissolution: I would be sitting at my desk, relaxed, somewhat brain-dead, doing my best to work.

Fear: I would start to experience some anxiety (but not terror, hopefully...). It feel like a continuum of dissolution but shit get too intense and fear arise.

Misery: The anxiety would turn into tension in my back, especially along my spine.

Disgust: Only identified this one 2-3 times. I would be digusted by thoughts of food and sex.

Desire for deliverance: never identified this one in a way separated from re-observation

Re-observation: The tension of misery would make a come back but in a much worse way. Unlike misery where I'm pretty much in control of my mind, here my mind can be everywhere. Sometimes it wasn't too much of a deal and a 1 hour sitting would bring me into equanimity. At worse, I would be in foetal position for a few hours (sleeping a bit too) to finally emerge in equanimity.

Equanimity: Body tension are gone. For a while, there was tension in my brain and vibration on my forehead or top of my head. I figured out that tension in my neck were remaining and that I should work on those before engaging in more serious insight practice. I do get re-observation symptoms once in a while. My focus is more on relaxation than insight those days since I'm getting through some stressful events. After long session of relaxation/light-mindfulness I get this stable panoramic vision that enable me to look at a kasina object in a very stable way. The only other stage when I was able to look at a kasina object for a while was dissolution but it didn't have the same feeling. It was more a "whatever, here is a bowl" mindset than the "F/18 target lock" I get now.

To me, re-observation and equanimity seems like the long progression of one stage most of time. It starts with tension everywhere and as I gather my mind the tension is less difuse, move away from the limbs, into the back, into the spine, then into the neck. Still, there was time when the shift was more radical from the foetal position to clear panoramic equanimity in a matter of seconds.

Another thing about equanimity that match Daniel account is the occasional tendancy to get lost in my mind (I can be very mindful and then start day-dreaming), and the occasional difficulties to have a conversation. This last one seems related to the remaining tension in the neck which make me feel cognitively impaired. The difference with dissolution is that I didn't have that tension in the neck. Also, there is the obvious out-of-sync sensations of dissolution. Cognitively and in term of energy level, they are kind of similar (but equanimity isn't as constant energy-wise and can get you very low).