Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
On my most recent 10 day retreat in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin I had opportunity to explore jhana in the context of body-scanning much more thoroughly than ever before. As is usual on retreat, odd stuff happens, and this one was no exception.

Though I am still battling with myself over whether to use an upcoming home retreat to learn the noting practices or not, I figure it might be helpful to others as well as myself to share a few observations about this practice here. I hope you find it useful/interesting.

The notes I made on my phone are incomplete, but kind of fun anyway. I'll comment on them a bit in a moment. Here they are:


Day 2
1st EQ w/ anapana

Day 3
Cycling from start to EQ. A&P bit more bouncy with better concentration.
Cycling through touch/sight/sound walking. After 1/2hr the garden becomes the "magic garden"! RO dominant later in day as I get tired.

Day 4
Further into EQ with anapana. RO taking 10mins. Sometimes scanning. Leaning to breath tho. Exploring self in head made me very uncomfy. Heart started to race. Felt scared. Not sure in high enough EQ. Could not perceive any watcher at one point. Just sensations. Did front/back of head trick. Very effective!

In anapana EQ bearing down upon the spot for all ur worth just gives headache. Loose, light and wide is a winner though. Expand to breathe thru whole body.
Moving to scanning just seems to make me fall back toward RO. Quiet sure I have experienced a kind of DN loop within low EQ.

I take it back. Jury still out. Problem is I don't know what else to do when breath seems to tight an object.
Headaches get stronger as day progresses. Certain not a nana symptom tho. Hangover form RO or concentration or both. May have to take it easier tomorrow. By 5pm I'm wiped!

Day 5
Noticed cause/effect first time ever while walking after breakfast. Oh, sound,image,story! Etc. explains why sat in weak 1st jhana in first sit before breakfast. Seems I start from scratch each morning.

A/P first group sit. Quickly thru DN into low EQ. Low EQ is my current base it seems.
Experimented with just watching the Jhanic like state after lunch. A kind of 3rd maybe. Seems real stable in a sensationfest unstable way. It does change eventually but this is the slow route. Scanning moves me forward. Still in low EQ. Next sit they will teach vipassana hehe...

Concentration headache dominates even low EQ (no, I'm certain it's not RO). Dry vipassana is unpleasant to say the least. Probably to late today, I've made no real progress. Let's hope a good sleep and a focus on jhana tomorrow will help. And do les sits! This is always my problem: trying to hard and burning out!

In break did jhana sweeping per kayagatasati Sutta. Bingo. First taste of EQ proper, almost no headache, very easy. Sweeping entire body in a breath.
No more dry work period! It's tiring and unprofitable. If cant get into jhana for some reason go for a walk.

Day 6
Couldn't sleep for vibrations last night. When I finally let them do there thing I had one of my classic "blip" moments complete with zooming magnification then a lump/lozenge of energy come up back of neck and gently explode. Then I could sleep. Not had one of these in weeks.

Cycling between RO and high eq today. Anapana sent me so high I was sure this was it. Noted mind states, decision, intention etc.
Playing it by ear.
Felt very happy/satisfied last couple days. Like all is well with world. Started to have funny thoughts aswell. Like the Buddha doing the told you so dance!
Teacher says the blips are impermanent!...

Day 7
4:30 sit: 0-EQ = 15mins. Unbelievable. Anapana in the mornings, scanning after lunch works best. Tight focus to spin up the mind then wide focuss to not get over concentrated.
Very strong, clean 3rd jhana. The strand of experience to kick into is located in the third eye region (doing by pure feeling rather than breath). Need to confirm.

Is 4th what is left when this pleasure disappears? It would seem so. Sweeping from this vantage point was very good. Particularly for pre-lunch!

Good sweeping within jhana before break. Lot of investigation of where self is but maybe my "high eq" is not as high as I'd Like to think? No spontaneous formless realms for eg.


On this course Day 8 is really the last serious day and as you can see I didnt make any notes. It was much of the same though, complicated somewhat by another night of nearly no sleep.

One thing that I barely noted but was truly awesome on this course was my daily mindfulness. I noted touch/sight/sound while walking round the garden several times a day used the breath and sensations while eating. Did everything to stay present. It was very "enlivening" and conducive to a peaceful mind when it came time to sit once more.

On coming home we had a major loss in the family and practice was altered at the kind advice of friends here on DhO. Now, some time later my practice seems to be back on track. I am only managing 2 sits a day though (i have done 3 most of this year) as the kids are on summer holidays and time is a bit scarce.

I've found body scanning within jhana to be hugely beneficial. I hope to post a bit more about that shortly. On this retreat I really got to map out the Equanimity territory quite well. In retrospect my practice has seemed to work like this:

1st retreat: Break A&P without knowing it
2nd: Explore DN without realising it.
Discover MCTB / DhO
3rd: Break DN, spend 2 days exploring EQ
4th: (different centre) Stagnate a bit.
Current: Explore EQ fairly thoroughly

This is why I have a bit of a dilemma as to whether I should use my upcoming week of home retreat to satisfy the nagging doubt that I shoudl switch to noting. If my practice continues as per the above, I should be in with a good shot of breaking EQ next course/retreat... (but then what if it's just more of the same and I miss the opportunity to learn noting under semi-retreat conditions --for free!) Arrrrrrgh!
Liam O'Sullivan, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 213 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
What do you hope to achieve through learning the noting technique?
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
[quote=Liam O'Sullivan]What do you hope to achieve through learning the noting technique?

2 things:

  • Better mindfulness during daily life - though I rather imagine it may be as hard to remember to note as it is to remain with sensations...
  • Better understanding of mind states - though I have dabbled with mixing techniques for this, particularly when in EQ


All with the goal of reachng SE of course.
Liam O'Sullivan, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 213 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Baggy Old Saggy Old Cat:
Better mindfulness during daily life - though I rather imagine it may be as hard to remember to note as it is to remain with sensations...

I've got a few suggestions as to various experiments you could do to ensure you note. I've done some of these intentionally and some just make sense from experience.

- Start off with mindfulness only of mental activity. You'll be used to bare awareness of the body so the contrast might help.

- Do very choiceless noting of whatever pleasurably distracts your attention, again as a contrast but this time to the more systematic nature of scanning. I like this one as it is uplifting of mood, though you have to be careful not to lose yourself in the pleasantness.

- Conversely, just note gross physical sensations, but not repetitive ones like walking that tend to trick you into mantra-like false noting.

- Play more systematic noting 'games', as Mahasi style 'whatever arises' noting might feel unusual. For example, play the 'cause and effect' game and cotton onto a thought. Note the following thoughts, or plunge into the body and see what's... co-arising, I suppose you could say?

- On the other hand, play the 'six sense doors' game and intentionally hit each. What are you touching? Then... what are you smelling? Then... what are you thinking... etc.

- Use it as a psychological tool and try to pick apart a negative thought pattern that reoccurs often. That way you have a specific 'target'. You'll notice your progress as you 'hit' the note more quickly, start making multiple notes as you notice the thought pattern is made up of multiple sensations, etc.

- Start noting somewhere extremely busy, such as on a train, and just go for it. Don't worry about how good your technique is, just try to note as fast as possible. This produces good moment-to-moment concentration and reduces the amount of time there is for derailing thoughts or, I would assume, dropping into body-scanning habits.

- If you find yourself scanning (as I do at least once per sit) then either note 'scanning', or allow the scanning habit to guide your attention as you note 'feeling

feeling

feeling

'...

- Choose very specific notes, 'pondering' instead of 'thinking' etc. to get you used to 'tagging' sensations.

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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Baggy Old Saggy Old Cat:


But Emily loved him...

- Start off with mindfulness only of mental activity. You'll be used to bare awareness of the body so the contrast might help.


I've tried this. It works quite well. Using Shinzen's simple 'feel', 'image', 'talk' labels work very well in conjunction with:


On the other hand, play the 'six sense doors' game and intentionally hit each. What are you touching? Then... what are you smelling? Then... what are you thinking... etc.


...which is my most favourite walking exercise. I generally limit it to this though: seeing, hearing, touching, moving through space as per some dhamma talk I got a link to from here on some long forgotten thread. I should try to find it, it's agood stuff..

Im thinking if I integrate noting at all (that is still very much in the balance) it will be in addition to, rather than instead of scanning. Mindfulness of the body suits me very well I feel, as I have a lot of pain to work with at times and limited vision which tends to make at least my sense of touch and hearing quite well developed.

The other exercises you listed look very cool too. Particularly "as a psychological tool" though I wonder if it might be a little eaiey to get caught up in the content.

Cheers,
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James Yen, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 270 Join Date: 9/6/09 Recent Posts
Kayagatasati is sick.

I'm not familiar with body-scanning, but in the past I had tried the 31 body parts meditation, an asubha-sanna, essentially.

Good luck with that.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
James Yen:
Kayagatasati is sick.

I'm not familiar with body-scanning, but in the past I had tried the 31 body parts meditation, an asubha-sanna, essentially.

Good luck with that.


I've not done that practice yet James so can't comment. I can tell you that there is a lot more to body scanning than meets the eye though. U Ba Khin taught very differently to how Goenka and others now teach in his lineage it would seem. I will post more on this at a later time I hope.
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Ben H, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 16 Join Date: 8/10/11 Recent Posts
Very strong, clean 3rd jhana. The strand of experience to kick into is located in the third eye region (doing by pure feeling rather than breath). Need to confirm.


Could you expand on this? I think I'm in a similar spot in my practice (low EQ at the moment) and I've noticed a tendency for my attention to go to the 3rd eye area. I'll be doing noting or anapana, and it seems like I'm doing too much work and my attention just drifts to the 3rd eye and I slip into a very stable jhana-like state with pleasurable pulsing sensations in the 3rd eye. Is this at all what you're talking about?

I've also noticed that I can move my focus to other chakras, especially the throat area, after I'm in this state and the experience takes on a different character. The throat is associated with a lot more DN-like sensations, discordant buzzing feelings in the periphery and what not, while the 3rd eye seems to be associated with EQ sensations. I find this all pretty interesting because before I hit EQ I wasn't really able to feel chakras or energy at all. (Well, except during my A&P event.)
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bagpuss' Kayagatasati Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Hi Ben.

This turned out to be non-repeatable for me, though it was so clear, so obvious at the time! Like you, chakras meant nothing to me until fairly recently. These days most of the pleasure associated with the various jhanic like states I encounter in meditation are associated with the chakras.

The way I move through various states is one of two techniques (or sometimes a combination of both):
  • "Feel" the flow of experience in the body and "tune in" to a jhana factor(s) to increase it
  • Use the breath or body scanning to force a change if I cant work out how to move forward - basically if Im in 1st/2nd territory I will do a few sweeps of the body or anapana which will first increase the current jhana factors but then often reveal other strands of experience that can be explored.


At the time, the "strand of experience" I tuned into did not emenate from the third eye region but seemed absolutely locked to it. Like an open flow of energy running through rather than from that region.

Ben:

I've also noticed that I can move my focus to other chakras, especially the throat area, after I'm in this state and the experience takes on a different character.


Yep. That sounds very similar doesn't it? We may be describing the same thing here Ben.

Theres more to say on this subject but it will have to wait for another post. Hope that's useful in the meantime!
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

Jhana Factors

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
As I settle down in my practice after my last retreat I find myself once more leaning more and more towards my anapanasati practice. This is not to say that the body sweeping does not have a place in my practice, but the breath seems most appropriate, most of the time.

For some time now I've been able to manipulate some jhana factors. Whether we call this jhana or not is debatable, but the end result is one of much steadied concentration and greater equanimity with whatever meditation brings up --particularly the unpleasantness of the Dark Night.

For me, it works like this:

  • I lay down to meditate and within a breath or two joy starts to arise.
  • I either drop the breath and focus purely on the joy, or split between the two
  • The pleasure increases. Sometimes to astonishing levels, sometimes not.
  • The pleasure changes. A more bodily pleasure becomes dominant.
  • Often the joy drops and the bodily pleasure remains. This is most often experienced if I go through the A&P / Dissolution rather than starting off right in the middle of the DN.
  • IF the pleasure/concentration is really strong it can carry me right through Re-observation with little fuss. If it isn't, at some point along the way I'll realise I've lost it and the unpleasantness will be much worse. Attention will also be much worse.
  • Sometimes, but not too often the pleasure will drop but the concentration remain. It's not a mind blowing state, but it's a very good place to be (while in low-mid Equanimity).


I've been reading "Mindfulness in Plain English" today. It's funny, I had this book when I first started to sit and put it to one side as "too basic" but more than a year later I see that its an awesome book emoticon

Some questions that I ponder a bit..

  • Is the joy that arises "the sign" --im very un-visual. I wonder if I get the sign as a feeling rather than visual nimita --having said that, if I focus long enough I do get plenty of light arise in the form of "pre dawn light" so...
  • Are these experiences merely concentrated vipassana stages? (they certainly relate well to their corresponding vipassana-jhanas re MCTB )
  • Is this worthwhile practice?
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Eric Bause, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Jhana Factors

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:


  • Is the joy that arises "the sign" --im very un-visual. I wonder if I get the sign as a feeling rather than visual nimita --having said that, if I focus long enough I do get plenty of light arise in the form of "pre dawn light" so...
  • Are these experiences merely concentrated vipassana stages? (they certainly relate well to their corresponding vipassana-jhanas re MCTB )
  • Is this worthwhile practice?


It all sounds good to me...at least from my limited perspective. My two cents re the above:

1st bullet point: I worried about the light for a long time. I thought I needed the light to come, get strong and turn into a nimitta of the sorts one hears about in Pa Auk style descriptions. I'd wait for the light to come, then turn amy attention toward said light, only to then have it vanish (oh shit!). So for now don't worry about the light--stay with the feeling, it's your key to the way in. I've found that the light builds over time, and eventually it gets to the point where I can look at it without its immediatley fading, but until then just keep going with the feeling and let the light take care of itself.


2nd & 3rd bullet points:To the extent you are not absorbed, they are concentrated vipassna stages, and getting to equanimity via these stages is where you want to be, as higher EQ is the lauching pad for attaing path (not that this has happened to me yet), so I'd say yes, it is a worthwhile practice.

Also, one thing you may want to experiment with once at the "The pleasure increases. Sometimes to astonishing levels, sometimes not." point you cite above, is then gently taking the attention back to the anapana spot. I've found this to be a good way to get deeper into absorption (that is if getting into deeper absorption is something you want to do).

I hope this helps.

Eric
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Jhana Factors

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Hi Eric, thanks for that. Good stuff.

Im right with you on returning to the anapana spot from time to time. I completely missed that in my notes, but have been doing it for quite a while. I also lightly body scan from time to time as per the instructions in the kayagatasati sutta. Returning to the spot will deepen the absorption as you say, but it's also a very good way to "unstick" -- by unstick, I mean that sometimes it seems I am kind of fixed in a particular state and it is not "moving" --this kind of dynamic jhana practice means that the factors are constantly changing, are impermanent. Returning to the spot can get things moving again.

And funny thing is, right after reading your post I went and did my evening sit and sailed into 4th jhana territory through exactly this technique emoticon I'd been bumping RO all day, and this was just the push I needed.

There's a fine balance with this though. Return to the spot for too long and the factors can decrease. Real care needs to be shown during the DN to keep that pleasure alive. Once it's gone, it's pretty hard to get back!

I suppose my body scanning practice is still alive and well in daily sits, it's just that now I do a kind of "loose" full body scan, or loose/fast part by part scan within the jhana - this isn't always necessary as full body awareness is part of the way I have learnt to cultivate these states --once the factors are up and running the body is alive in the same way as if I'd spent the last hour scanning laboriously from part to part. This seems like good practice to me.

Again there is a balance to be struck though. Scan to tightly, or for too long and the jhana factors drop. Too loosely and it has no effect. If you can get that "whole body awareness" thing going though, so every single part of you is alive with the pleasure AND you can note the bazillions of tiny sensations winking in and out of existence it's a good place to be.
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Eric Bause, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Jhana Factors

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Hi Eric, thanks for that. Good stuff.

Im right with you on returning to the anapana spot from time to time. I completely missed that in my notes, but have been doing it for quite a while. I also lightly body scan from time to time as per the instructions in the kayagatasati sutta. Returning to the spot will deepen the absorption as you say, but it's also a very good way to "unstick" -- by unstick, I mean that sometimes it seems I am kind of fixed in a particular state and it is not "moving" --this kind of dynamic jhana practice means that the factors are constantly changing, are impermanent. Returning to the spot can get things moving again.



BTG, that's a good point about returning to the spot when stuck. I haven't used it that way, but it makes perfect sense now that you mention it. Yesterday I was stuck between 3rd & 4th jhana in an RO sort of "mindcramp". Ikept difusing my awarness out to the whole body, but that didn't seem to do much. Eventually I did drift up to 4th briefly. Next tiem that happens I'll have go back to the spot.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

Not Clinging

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
This morning, not feeling too well (caffeine withdrawal as I prep for a "water fast") I did an hour of anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing...

I think I got a little insight into what it really means to "abide independent, not clinging to anything in the world" as per the Satipatthana sutta. This is not new to me intellectually, or even practically when in Equanimity. What was new was being able to really "get into it", right the way through the Dark Night...

As i lightly focused on the anapana spot, mindful of the whole body, streams of sensations, expansions, contractions, energy went past. As they were noticed, they were let go of. Rather than trying to expand the pleasant or concentrative strands of experience i just watched the pass away. Down down down.... it was like a gentle, interesting decent that showed no sign of ever ending. When the Re-observation headache came in, it was let go of. Of course it stayed for some time but it was far less than it can often be, and quite short lived.

Then the delivery guy knocked the door to deliver some new walking shoes. Heh!
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

Practice

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Today I rode the feelings of "billowy swirly pleasury floaty" up to a state resembling 3rd-ish jhana (hehe) where the sensations on the skin where very delicately shimmery, cool and pleasant. It's a little cold today and I think there was some physical shivering a bit and that sensations is absolutely delicious.

The pleasure faded and the focus becomes a kind of open/blank/concentrated/quiet quality of experience. The bodily sensations become very uniform, subtle, easy to sweep through. I built this up by alternately focusing on the above quiet quality, doing a slow full body sweep and "sinking in" to the sensations. This resulted in something almost bland (but in good way). Like exiting the jungle and starting to walk across the desert. Nothing much to see or do. In the end I just swept up and down the body at varying speeds, occasionally stopping to "sink in" and see what had changed.

That state could be anything, but I'd guess it was equanimity based on current experience. I'll have a chance to practice a bit more over the next 8 days as my family are all off to see the grandparents --but im going to do a water fast as well, so maybe that will make practice a bit tough. We will see...
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

Swirly Thing Alert!

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Last night my concentration was very good. I stayed with anapana and really worked on sticking to that spot like glue. I started out most likely in low equanimity and realised I was probably in EQ proper as the quality of vibrations through the body shifted gear. A description I read recently here.


The close similarity between the vipassanā meditation taught in the tradition of U Ba Khin and the instructions given in the Dhyānasamādhi Sūtra finds further corroboration in the simile given in the Chinese discourse, which compares the pervasion of the whole body with awareness to water that enters into sand. This imagery fits well with a stage reached after sustained practice of the U Ba Khin method, when awareness has been refined to the point of enabling the meditator to experience sensations throughout the body during a single act of scanning the body. The tradition refers to this as “sweeping” the body in a “free flow”, expressions that reflect how awareness passes in a “sweeping” or “flowing” manner through the whole body within the time period it takes to breath in or to breath out.


This is not the first time I have experienced this, but it's quite a bit different to being able to sweep the body at speed across the skin. This experience really feels like water flowing through sand, through ALL your body. Inside and out. Anyway, I digress....

So as has often happened in the past when I am in or around Equanimity nana / 4th jhana territory my visuals (of which i rarely notice anythign at all) start flickering to deep gorgeous blue and then back again. I concentrate more and the blueness starts to settle and stabilise. But rather than seeing a pinprick nimita briefly then losing the moment, I start to notice that there are all these swirly, nebulous gaseous, misty type movements happening and that this blueness has depth, and space. Im sure when people talk about the quality of "space" in relation to these stages they do not mean planets and stuff... but that's what I was experiencing.

It was pretty good stuff.

Anyone have experience with that kind of thing?
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Superkatze one, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Swirly Thing Alert!

Posts: 33 Join Date: 11/5/11 Recent Posts
I always thought that i was seeing fiery red comets flying slowly through my red tinted visual field while doing Candle flame meditation and reaching lowEQ.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

No One Home...

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
My practice has been dominated by an extended period in Equanimity. I often go through the DN to get there but it is mostly quick and done in one sit. Sometimes when I'm sick / tired I stay in Reobservation. Not to often though, and the Dark Night has really lost its teeth these days. RO used to be just awful! These days it's pretty cool, kind of interesting and almost fun to work with. Weird eh?

After a few days where I thought I had started the inevitable slide back into the DN due to a radical diet change and a few nights of poor sleep I've been not only back in Equanimity, but experiencing things that seem like entirely new territory to me.

I am mostly doing anapanasati with occasional full body sweeps to heighten awareness of impermanence of sensations in the body. Here's a description of my last sit:

Within 2-3 seconds I feel myself enter a 4th jhana like state that could easily just be access concentration I guess as later in the sit it widens further, concepts of space between sensations gets more definable and the fine visual snow in front of my closed eyes streams and swirls and changes. I concentrate on "letting go" and begin almost immediately to concentrate on the nature of change inherent in everything I am experiencing. I try to not interfere with the deepening of concentration as I focus on the body-mind-swirly-energy thing and there are subtle but distinct "shifts" in perception that come maybe a half dozen times in 40mins.

I try to really focus not on increasing, not on dwelling, but on impermanence. On letting go because there is nothing to cling to. More shifts. The more I let go the "deeper" I drop. There are no thoughts, just stillness and the ever changing body-mind-enerty thing.

I occasionally switch to focus on no-self. I can see that I am not controlling these sensations. They are not me. More shifts. I try to do both anicca and anatta at the same time. This is harder but sometimes quite doable. More shifts...

By the time the bell goes my bodily sensations are just a mass of streaming champaign bubbles so fine they almost defy observation. I lay there on the bed and realise that this organism is blinking, laying, aware of the touch of air, clothes, bed. That occasional thoughts drift passed (through?) it BUT that there is no "me" there. It's just all empty sensations. As I notice this the vibrations start to speed up again but its really time to get ready for bed...

The feeling of "no one home" isn't entirely new but its the strongest I've ever felt it. I would presume this is a good sign. I hope so. It felt like I was doing this right last night. I don't think I have really concentrated on the 3C's this well until I read Nick's recent explanation. It still seems to simple but it certainly seems to be doing something...
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Nikolai ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: No One Home...

Posts: 1648 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:


The feeling of "no one home" isn't entirely new but its the strongest I've ever felt it. I would presume this is a good sign. I hope so. It felt like I was doing this right last night. I don't think I have really concentrated on the 3C's this well until I read Nick's recent explanation. It still seems to simple but it certainly seems to be doing something...


I'd say it's a good sign indeed. I'd keep honing those discerning skills as you are already doing. It is pretty simple, huh?
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: No One Home...

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Indeed. Thanks Nick!
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
So the big question of the day is am I "bored in equanimity" or just "going nowhere"?

My sits are running pretty much to the following template with a few odds and ends / new things happening from time to time:

  • Breathe. Within a breath or two feel the sinking/rising start of the swirly-mind-body-energy thing start to manifest
  • Go through various layers of swirlyness where the body is often kind of indistinct. Feel many "shifts" in perception as the mind goes deeper and deeper (or so it seems) as I let go of anything and everything I can let go of.
  • Slow, long expansions and sometimes contractions of the body-mind-energy thing.
  • Eventually, a kind of evening out of all this swirlyness into something less exciting. An obviously deep state but where the energy flows are much more subtle, smoother, smaller movements --it takes a change of gears mentally to begin to see that it's actually quite interesting in itself --you just have to pay closer attention to catch the subtelties of it.


That last step can go on for an awful long time. There would seem to be no end, which begins to make me wonder if this state is equanimity, and the game now is to just pay attention and wait for it to change, or whether I'm spinning my wheels in some kind of neutral concentration state?

Right from the first breath I am keeping impermanence in mind. Sometimes switching to not-self. Very occasionally dukkha. One time when focusing on the body-mind-energy and thinking how all this is probably dukkha I noticed that the whole experience was full of tensions. And not really very subtle ones either. Further contemplation led to the conclusion (probably helped by a recent conversation with Tommy in his thread) that the tension was being caused by this "boundary" of "me" vs "other". It was all on the periphery. Some concentration on that periphery can expand it fairly far, but the tension is still present.

Today during that last phase of the template there was a sudden less subtle shift. Not a smooth wave-like expansion/contraction but just a flick of a switch and everything went up a level, and some of the tension I've now come to habitually notice dropped away.

This would seem to indicate that Im not spinning my wheels but I'd welcome any thoughts on whether the "boredom" in equanimity sounds right from any with experience of the territory.
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
HI Bagpuss,

This would seem to indicate that Im not spinning my wheels but I'd welcome any thoughts on whether the "boredom" in equanimity sounds right from any with experience of the territory.


I think the stage of equanimity can be hard. After an initial wave of happiness/confidence of "getting the understanding" of the dukkha nanas (no longer just being buffeting by them), boredom does build. Frustration may build.

This is, to me, a perfect indicator that the conditions that build "high equanimity" are occurring. The practitioner - now relatively impartial to waves of dukkha - is to develop equanimity in the face of "boredom", waiting, expectation.

There's nothing special to do here except to continue with the practice: sati. It is like dusting every day, with attention, contentedness, willful collection of mind into sati until the mind becomes truly collected enough. I cannot emphasize enough a daily sati practice, Bahiya Sutta. Here is where by virtue of just sati, constantly collecting the mind around what the body-mind are doing (automatically and volitionally) that concentration really develops and naturally. Now the practice does need to take up every moment. Listening to kids, listening. Eating, eating. Colors of food, seeing colors. Touching door handle, touching.

This develops both intimate collection-of-attention around one's body-mind activity and it causes moderate equanimity to become suffusive. Any person doing any such developed sati practice may experience jhana arising spontaneously. It is a natural consequence of being ready and willing to collect the mind to what body-mind is doing right now.



Bye for now.
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Okay, Baggy, I am going for it: three sequential posts:
So, through knowledge of equanimity about formations, which is endowed with many virtues, blessings, and powers, he notices the formations as they occur.
This is from The Progress of Insight and knowledge of emergeance. I put it here for inspiration about the value of the boredom of this area, that it provokes just sitting, *sigh* sitting, sitting. In your experience 'boredom' and willingness to just sit, the mind shows here how it is endowed as Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw wrote. Oh, one morning passes? Totally boring, good. Oh, two weeks, pass totally boring, yet one is getting up for the alarm and just sitting, good. Very useful.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
>>Okay, Baggy,

Baggy? Baggy!?! Good grief...

>>I am going for it: three sequential posts

Well okay, in that case I'll let the Baggy thing pass. I'd have been terribly disappointed with only one answer, but three makes me feel very happy emoticon

Again, this is to me a very useful indicator. If there is no dissatisfaction in equanimity, there is no going further. But because equanimity has nothing permanent nor permanently satisfactory in it a person is driven by this dissatisfaction to renew practice. While there can be a mad dash to try something new, to try a new practice, to try a new job, whatever, the knowledge of equanimity gets very clear in becoming naturally impartial to this stage, its extended period, its boredom, it's "what next?", its how to break through.


Got it. Let nature takes it's course then pretty much...


From a meditative angle (to set this post apart from the one above talking about daily sati) I think this is the area of equanimity wherein one can start to sit -- set a timer -- and just sit. I think an hour is useful Sitting past one's normal stopping point by 15-20 minutes I think is also useful. Stop the sit for no reason (but for you know, family, emergency). I am hearing routinely from friends that they are hitting a wall at 45 minutes and it seems to correspond with the stage of starting high equanimity.


I tend to get a bit distracted after 30 or so right now. This is odd as I am used to sitting for an hour. Always a timed sit, but could be because sometimes I sit for just 40mins at my evening sit. I can generally get back on track but the mind suddenly wants to drift around this point.

-- 15-30 initial minutes of dedicated anapanasati focus - more rigorous, the focus is helping all these sparrows of thought settle, stop flying up.Herein, there's the likehood of a few narratives really collecting the mind's attention (aka: daydreaming)
-- 30-45 minutes: here the little sparrows of many thoughts have calmed and either a) the mind will grow bright*** because calm abiding and relaxed attention is happening or b) the body may start to ache because all thoughts are organizing onto some singular resistance/attraction: Where is that brightness?/what can I do here? If there's too much looseness, then sleepiness gets intense here.


Its funny, I don't seem to have these chatterings at all. Right from the first breath there is near mental silence. Apart from the above mentioned oddness at around half an hour of course...

-45-70 minutes: for a person developing high equanimity, here's where the mind really is willing to let go, no worries about nimitta, jhana, whatever. If there was sleepiness, there is suddenly bolt awakeness. Images/thoughts may fly up like sparrows, but they are phenomena the mind can witness, there is no ability to be pulled in, so the speed of them may become rapid-fire. Anything can arise here, mind is very loose [and attentive, but another skhanda may be more prominent so there may not be the feeling of volition directing of attention -- to me in fact, the volition aspect is quite reduced---once sleepiness is overcome (through volition) then the mind has a relaxed state, but loose, wherein other skhanda can rise, and consciousness can attend, while the sankhara aspect is naturally now placid]. If one is practicing satipatthana of the senses, here is where the senses can go unrecognized by the mind: the skhanda of recognition settles quite a bit ("What that smell or taste that just happened?" the arising mind may ask before dissolving back down). If the mind enters open awareness, then the mind may start experience stuff for which there's just really no vocabulary, but can be viewed like just so many brands of jam--here too the mind develops equanimity to this: not trying to catch anything; if at anapanasati, the breathing channel, the stomach rising, the nostrils, the windpipe may all become like cosmos-size pure machinery...whatever. If holding this stuff, it's rubbish, but natural to enjoy it/run after it for the first few times. The point is not what I am writing as example, the point is this stage of sitting to sit, letting go, is useful, fun, and comes because one only sits. I think this area you may be entering is... well, I don't want to set up expectation. So, yes, it's just sitting despite that/because sitting is 'boring'.


This describes my sits quite well, but it starts right from the beginning. The mind becomes more and more equanimous/bored with what comes p and what comes up in turn gets more subtle as I progress..

This is from The Progress of Insight and knowledge of emergeance. I put it here for inspiration about the value of the boredom of this area, that it provokes just sitting, *sigh* sitting, sitting. In your experience 'boredom' and willingness to just sit, the mind shows here how it is endowed as Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw wrote. Oh, one morning passes? Totally boring, good. Oh, two weeks, pass totally boring, yet one is getting up for the alarm and just sitting, good. Very useful.


Yes. And I'll be on retreat in a few weeks so hopefully plenty of opportunity to get so bored I make progress hhh!

Thanks Katy!
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
All righty, Mr. Bags, look at what DhO'er 'dream walker' shared:

http://mojo1000.com/storage/comics/07/zen_motivational_poster.jpg

[edit: actual image removed. It's a bit huge and loud to define the thread past the first laugh]
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
heh, I liked it in here Katy emoticon

So after being back in Reobservation for a little while i've been back in EQ for a few days. This time the vibrations running through the body are so fast, so fine, it defies belief. There are often periods of "speeding up" when I really wonder just how much further I could go.. surely it should all explode, or implode, or just stop!

On a couple of occasions the speed of it has been a bit frightening. Mostly it's just about staying with it though. It's easy to space out. I find if I include sound it helps a lot, and the occasional sweep through the body seems to help.

What Im doing with these ultra fast, ultra fine vibrations is simply paying attention to the 3C's. Usually one at a time. Impermanence and no-self can produce some surges in speed / resolution --dukkha i still find harder, but I tend to see it as a kind of tension in the body.

Is paying attention to the 3C's in Equanimity enough to do it?

Im off on retreat Friday. Any advice would be most welcome...
Mario Nistri, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
Suggestion for retreat: the usual, I would say; don't neglect the informal aspect of the thing, keep momentum going, use just as much effort as you need in order not to get distracted, but apart for that allow the thing to what it does by it's own; yeah, maybe the only thing that comes to my mind is this: don't try to do/look for/crave subtler vibrations, you already got plenty of them...

Is paying attention to the 3C's in Equanimity enough to do it?


Yes, of course it is... don't worry, u'r bound to win emoticon
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
That's sounds reasonable Mario.

Me:
Is paying attention to the 3C's in Equanimity enough to do it?

Mario:
Yes, of course it is... don't worry,


Is that your own experience Mario?
Mario Nistri, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:


Is that your own experience Mario?


In Eq context I had a buip/entrance/interruption/afterglow/perceptualbaselineshift-like experience, but it didn't repeated, so there's still room for uncertainty.
I spoke to my teacher who didn't confirmed nor denied, I spoke to Daniel who didn't confirmed nor denied.

However, after that many things in my practice changed in a lasting way, so I think it's safe to assume that I got that.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Interesting stuff. What kind of practice were you doing? Can you describe what you were focusing on in EQ when this happened Mario?
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

Update

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Last couple of sits I have had a lot of pressure in the forehead but curiously also on the top of my head. This has not been painful, but I can feel that it is exactly the same "headache" that was crippling some months back in Resobervation...

Im also being kind of gently buffeted by the vibrations. I'd say it was the A&P if I hadn't clearly passed that this morning and then gone through the DN this afternoon..

There just seems to be this whole pressure/tension building in the body and particularly forehead/crown that is not unpleasant (nor pleasant) but a bit scary nonetheless.
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Eric Bause, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Update

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
First of all, may the aggregates coventionally known as BTG have a fruitful retreat.

So I've been having all sorts of weird pressure and energy surges (for the lack of better labels) that past few days, but nothing that hasn't happened before. I'd been to a teaching recently by the Ven Sayalay Susila, who is a student of Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, where she advocated taking the 2nd through 4th foundations of mindfulness and seeing them as "Not I, not mine, not myself". I've found this more effective than just trying to note (noting has never worked for me). Taking this perspective to the pressure/surges/whatever, I've been more able to catch the aversion to what's going on, which normally i get carried off by it. I think it may be a good general purpose anatta shovel to take to whatever comes up. Annyhoo, I hope this may of some use.

Eric
Mario Nistri, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Update

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
taking the 2nd through 4th foundations of mindfulness and seeing them as "Not I, not mine, not myself"

How did you do this?
I mean, I think that with these instructions many people could come up with many different practices...
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Eric Bause, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Update

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Mario Nistri:
taking the 2nd through 4th foundations of mindfulness and seeing them as "Not I, not mine, not myself"

How did you do this?
I mean, I think that with these instructions many people could come up with many different practices...


As you recognize any of these to arise/be present, just know them to be "not I, not mine, not myself". You can try repeating that refrain mentally, but with a bit of practice it can be stripped down to just a context of knowing.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Update

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
Mario Nistri:
taking the 2nd through 4th foundations of mindfulness and seeing them as "Not I, not mine, not myself"

How did you do this?
I mean, I think that with these instructions many people could come up with many different practices...


The best way imho to do this is to try n remain focussed on one particular object...and then whatever else arises will be
directly and automatically known to be impermanent and not-self. You never willed it to arise because your whole
intention was to remain focussed on one particular object and yet it did arise and thus making it not-self..the added
advantage of this method is that it builds concentration along the way (which inevitably leads to waves of
piti , sukkha , passidhi)
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Eric Bause, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Update

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Shashank Dixit:
Mario Nistri:
taking the 2nd through 4th foundations of mindfulness and seeing them as "Not I, not mine, not myself"

How did you do this?
I mean, I think that with these instructions many people could come up with many different practices...


The best way imho to do this is to try n remain focussed on one particular object...and then whatever else arises will be
directly and automatically known to be impermanent and not-self. You never willed it to arise because your whole
intention was to remain focussed on one particular object and yet it did arise and thus making it not-self..the added
advantage of this method is that it builds concentration along the way (which inevitably leads to waves of
piti , sukkha , passidhi)


That's a good one. Thanks SD!
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Update

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Eric Bause:
First of all, may the aggregates coventionally known as BTG have a fruitful retreat.

So I've been having all sorts of weird pressure and energy surges (for the lack of better labels) that past few days, but nothing that hasn't happened before. I'd been to a teaching recently by the Ven Sayalay Susila, who is a student of Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw, where she advocated taking the 2nd through 4th foundations of mindfulness and seeing them as "Not I, not mine, not myself". I've found this more effective than just trying to note (noting has never worked for me). Taking this perspective to the pressure/surges/whatever, I've been more able to catch the aversion to what's going on, which normally i get carried off by it. I think it may be a good general purpose anatta shovel to take to whatever comes up. Annyhoo, I hope this may of some use.

Eric


Hey Eric, seems we may be in similar territory yet again! Funny thing is, even the A&P/DN is vastly different to how it used to be for me. It's all ultra-fine/ultra-fast vibrations now. And yes, paying attention to no-self in feelings, mind and dhammas as well as body sometimes seems to progress me forward very rapidly. At other times it doesn't seem to work at all and I fall back to impermanence. The best results I get when occasionally i can see both impermanence and no-self in the body sensations at the same time.

10 days of retreat time should clear up a lot of this stuff. Im quite relaxed about these things nowadays. If I make enough progress I may get SE, if not, it will still be progress. After spending the last year in the DN my practice is so much easier, and so much more interesting so it's all good!

Be sure to let us know if anything changes with your practice Eric!
Mario Nistri, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Bored in Equanimity or Going Nowhere?

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Interesting stuff. What kind of practice were you doing? Can you describe what you were focusing on in EQ when this happened Mario?


In that period I was doing walking meditation, sometimes noting if it helped, sometimes opening the focus, but mainly trying to appreciate every moment how everything was going on by itself. In practical terms, I would spend my time in meditation/daily life obseving the sensations that seemed to imply someone doing something. In order to do do that I would turn my attention back to a neutral place, (my favourite was my neck, felt quite a natural place) and from that position allowing intentions and actions to manifest.
However, the thing happened while I was reading an online recap of a tv series, laughing for a joke in the article...

However, I don't have any experience at all with the goenka tecnique; just thoose felt like the most useful things that I could think of...
And, by the way, I'm experiencing crownish activities too in this Eq period...
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: No One Home...

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
My practice has been dominated by an extended period in Equanimity. I often go through the DN to get there but it is mostly quick and done in one sit. Sometimes when I'm sick / tired I stay in Reobservation.
Again, this is to me a very useful indicator. If there is no dissatisfaction in equanimity, there is no going further. But because equanimity has nothing permanent nor permanently satisfactory in it a person is driven by this dissatisfaction to renew practice. While there can be a mad dash to try something new, to try a new practice, to try a new job, whatever, the knowledge of equanimity gets very clear in becoming naturally impartial to this stage, its extended period, its boredom, it's "what next?", its how to break through.

From a meditative angle (to set this post apart from the one above talking about daily sati) I think this is the area of equanimity wherein one can start to sit -- set a timer -- and just sit. I think an hour is useful Sitting past one's normal stopping point by 15-20 minutes I think is also useful. Stop the sit for no reason (but for you know, family, emergency). I am hearing routinely from friends that they are hitting a wall at 45 minutes and it seems to correspond with the stage of starting high equanimity.

I think it also helps to loosen the reins on the object here. If one is trying to really tighten up on the object of focus [of anapanasati] here in hopes of cracking equanimity, that really just thwarts equanimity. Here I find the mind must be loosely at its object - there but loose.

So here's an outline of what I would know for myself here (if access concentration does not start right on the first few breaths):
[indent]-- 15-30 initial minutes of dedicated anapanasati focus - more rigorous, the focus is helping all these sparrows of thought settle, stop flying up.Herein, there's the likehood of a few narratives really collecting the mind's attention (aka: daydreaming)
-- 30-45 minutes: here the little sparrows of many thoughts have calmed and either a) the mind will grow bright*** because calm abiding and relaxed attention is happening or b) the body may start to ache because all thoughts are organizing onto some singular resistance/attraction: Where is that brightness?/what can I do here? If there's too much looseness, then sleepiness gets intense here.
--45-70 minutes: for a person developing high equanimity, here's where the mind really is willing to let go, no worries about nimitta, jhana, whatever. If there was sleepiness, there is suddenly bolt awakeness. Images/thoughts may fly up like sparrows, but they are phenomena the mind can witness, there is no ability to be pulled in, so the speed of them may become rapid-fire. Anything can arise here, mind is very loose [and attentive, but another skhanda may be more prominent so there may not be the feeling of volition directing of attention -- to me in fact, the volition aspect is quite reduced---once sleepiness is overcome (through volition) then the mind has a relaxed state, but loose, wherein other skhanda can rise, and consciousness can attend, while the sankhara aspect is naturally now placid]. If one is practicing satipatthana of the senses, here is where the senses can go unrecognized by the mind: the skhanda of recognition settles quite a bit ("What that smell or taste that just happened?" the arising mind may ask before dissolving back down). If the mind enters open awareness, then the mind may start experience stuff for which there's just really no vocabulary, but can be viewed like just so many brands of jam--here too the mind develops equanimity to this: not trying to catch anything; if at anapanasati, the breathing channel, the stomach rising, the nostrils, the windpipe may all become like cosmos-size pure machinery...whatever. If holding this stuff, it's rubbish, but natural to enjoy it/run after it for the first few times. The point is not what I am writing as example, the point is this stage of sitting to sit, letting go, is useful, fun, and comes because one only sits. I think this area you may be entering is... well, I don't want to set up expectation. So, yes, it's just sitting despite that/because sitting is 'boring'.
[/indent]


[edit:*** and brightening or non-brightening can also become a object-with-pull/given-needless-connection which thwarts equanimity]
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

Retreat Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
So heres my retreat report. It only covers a few of the middle days. The ones with things worth noting in them. The most interesting things were the discoveries during walking in the last couple of noted days. I still have yet to see what changes this retreat has made as Im still getting back into routine but my dog walks continue this "pleasant sensations" through the body as I notice sensations as I walk.

Let me know if you have any comments on the last couple of days re the watching thoughts bit...



Day 3
Delicious bounciness as I walked. A kind of jhana-lite. Odd pleasurable sensations in bum/tops of thighs and when sitting, centre of this pleasure is just below belly button. Spent most of today in a third jhana like state. Probably in low EQ now. Certainly beats the DN of yesterday
Started jhana/sweeping on day 2. Felt like the right move. And proved correct today. I am basically playing it by eat every sit. Sometimes anapana. Sometimes sweeping. Sometimes falling through layers and layers of vedana/jhanic stuff.

Day 4
Rode out DN in 3rd during 1st group sit. Easy.
4th jhana next. Long slow contraction after a while. Anicca and anatta both easy to see at same time.

Regressed once or twice but mostly in low EQ today with a couple of "spurts" into higher territory.
Felt like pineal gland was flickering for a while today as I tried to get a nap. Focusing on it sped it up to vanishing point. Could be my imagination though. Will watch for it again. Crown still has light pressure. Doesn't seem to move much. Maybe I just bumped my head! Hehe.
..
More sleep pills today. I am not letting myself burn up by day 5 as usual. So far taking one every other day seems to be keeping me on an even keel.

Day 5
Holding it together headache wise. Not burning out early this time. Breaks, not pushing it, sleeping pills...
Went through to EQ smoothly in first sit. No DN today at all.
Couple of really cutting edge spurts which were interesting. Mostly consisting of vastly speeding up of vibrations. So much so that it seemed hard to notice 3C's so fell back to just anicca which is fine.
Uneventful really though. I suppose that fits with this stage of EQ.
Most interesting thing was watching the mind while walking. I'd not really done this seriously before but when I kept drifting away from sensations and sounds to thoughts of an idea for work I decided to work with it. Very cool stuff. Could feel various small perceptual shifts as I did this. I was just noting "gone" whenever I noticed a thought and it vanished. This adding of mind as well as sensations / sounds to my walk seemed to have moments of really clear anatta. More tomorrow.
Sweeping has been good when I've done it. Really good penetration of spine.
Looking forward to breakfast already!

Spoke to soon! DN kicked my arse in the final group sit. Tiredness. Will have to start leaving that sit early starting tomorrow.

Day 6
Much of the same. When in EQ which was most of the time, quite uneventful. Walking was outstanding though. Noting talk, image, feel. Amazed that with almost every "talk" there was an accompanying image. I didn't think I ever much saw images. Almost not at all in fact. Turns out I just don't notice them, which is not the same thing at all.
Progress (or at least shifts of some kind) seem easily gained. Every time I catch a thought/image there is a sense if motion as my perspective pulls back from the thought to observe it (from being the thought to being the observer?) "I" seem to then be just behind my own head, or perhaps just right at the top/back and this is often accompanied by a sinking feeling and/or a "clearing", like reality's spectacles just got a huff and a wipe.
This does not really work when not walking though. Tried it when eating and having a shower and at best it just put a guard on the mind. Deliberate mindful actions and attention to sensations still seems best there. Wonder what that's all about?

Day 7
Much if the same.
Had one spurt into higher EQ but was still reactive so can't have been high EQ proper
Asked the teacher about watching the characteristic of anicca in the long slow expansions and contractions I experience. He said to stay with the body sensations. That following the expansions was an upakkalisa. One of the ten corruptions of insight. This makes sense to me. I will have to learn a bit more, but essentially the advice seems sound.
At the higher points of the day I've been very aware that where the body is almost air-like in its insubstantiality, there is this not unpleasant tension/solidity in/around the top forehead. When I rest my attention gently upon it it will move about a bit or even diffuse across the whole skull. But it will never entirely break up like the rest if the body. I'll bet that will go in high EQ. I'll further bet that it is "me". AND it is absolutely the same sensation that in the DN would be my "splitting headache"! No real surprise. I have noted this before. DN and EQ are the same thing viewed through different lenses.
Attention had begun to wander this afternoon. This is probably as far as ill get. Hopefully further learning EQ nana and leaving DN behind. I've spent over a year in the DN. it wouldn't be too dreadful spending the next year in EQ!
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Eric Bause, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Retreat Notes

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Hi BTG,

About the flickering pineal gland: Is it like a sort of fluttering or gurgling (felt not heard) that takes place inside what seems to be a more or less solid area of the head?

Eric
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Retreat Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Hi Eric,

Fluttering would be the more accurate word, but it almost felt like an extremely rapid pulse (like a vein) and it was pretty much where that gland is supposed to be: about an inch inside the skull from around the third eye region.

I've not had it since though. Is this something you have more often?
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Eric Bause, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Retreat Notes

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Hi Eric,

Fluttering would be the more accurate word, but it almost felt like an extremely rapid pulse (like a vein) and it was pretty much where that gland is supposed to be: about an inch inside the skull from around the third eye region.

I've not had it since though. Is this something you have more often?


On occcasion. Sometimes off to the left or right of center. It's fluttering like pressure is being let off. It doesn't have any discernable effect or lead to anything sort of change. It's just an odd sensation that comes up from time to time.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Retreat Notes

Posts: 566 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
What is the experience of the expansions and contractions like? I just read about them in a sutta, and I'm curious.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Retreat Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Its like the feeling of motion as the body expands, but the perception of the body is still where it is (most of the time). I just get the sensation of expansion. It can go on for minutes on end. I get a similar thing with jhana factors. Sometimes they just increase and increase and increase.. with the expansions they reach a point where it is so intense I feel it cant possibly go any further, but it just continues. The "unbearable" becomes normal and it just keeps going.

I get this to a far lesser degree just sitting quietly in my living room, or at the computer. There is this kind of "wavering" very much like if you were lying on an inflatable in a slightly uncalm body of water. Just a gentle bobbing of "experience". Another way to describe it might be to say I am wavering in and out of "phase". I feel like im in startreck trying to materialise but can't for some reason.. heh!

This gentle bobbing experience often precedes some nana shift. I bob a bit, then things change...

Those are not great explanations. They're probably the best I can do though.

Which sutta? That sounds most intriguing...
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Retreat Notes

Posts: 566 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Which sutta? That sounds most intriguing...


I meant this one.

Having developed a mind of good will for seven years, then for seven aeons of contraction & expansion I didn't return to this world. Whenever the aeon was contracting, I went to the realm of Streaming Radiance. Whenever the aeon was expanding, I reappeared in an empty Brahma-abode.


I just assumed that the phenomenology he's referring to here is similar to what you're describing. I could be wrong, though.
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Retreat Notes

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Its like the feeling of motion as the body expands, but the perception of the body is still where it is (most of the time). I just get the sensation of expansion. It can go on for minutes on end. I get a similar thing with jhana factors. Sometimes they just increase and increase and increase.. with the expansions they reach a point where it is so intense I feel it cant possibly go any further, but it just continues. The "unbearable" becomes normal and it just keeps going.

I get this to a far lesser degree just sitting quietly in my living room, or at the computer. There is this kind of "wavering" very much like if you were lying on an inflatable in a slightly uncalm body of water. Just a gentle bobbing of "experience". Another way to describe it might be to say I am wavering in and out of "phase". I feel like im in startreck trying to materialise but can't for some reason.. heh!

This gentle bobbing experience often precedes some nana shift. I bob a bit, then things change...

Those are not great explanations. They're probably the best I can do though.

Which sutta? That sounds most intriguing...

Personal self's mind can be loosened in meditation, then a basic condition to our human existence (the ability to sense, to have and to experience sensations) starts to occur with reduced volitional manipulation, reduced volitional oversight, which oversight can be as mere as "what is this?".

It is very familiar for the aggregates to be under the influence of the volitional khanda, even if it is a basic volition of willingness. Willingness to meditation. Willingness to examen, to attend the phenomena in meditation. Willingness to just stay awake during meditation, etc.

So as meditation training grows, aggregates may show up with less conditioning asserted by the volition khanda, or altered conditioning by the volition khanda, and sensation naturally will start seeming to expand. It is losing some of its daily reigning-in, a lifetime of reigning-in and contextualizing sensation (a natural "That is pleasant; I want that" escalation; "that is unpleasant; I want not that" aversion) .

(And, of course, the experience of sensation is also continually being conditioned by the other khandas, such as changes to form and perception via aging and disease.)

So, these sensational experiences get vast and funky. If there is no realization that this is natural stuff, then the "I" may cling to the experience and lose the experience in that clinging: lose that there is just sensation happening. It is normal. There are mechanisms in beings that come into being and survive, which mechanisms determine pleasant, unpleasant and neutrality of sensations.

There can be so many bliss experiences in meditation. So many insights that just make themselves understood to the mind through often unfamiliar means. Instead of getting the simplicity of "this is just how it goes, being alive and being something conditioned by sensations" there can be a natural reaction to develop the sensational experience into something obstructively special. I think this is very natural - it is part of the "desire for deliverance" and the restless of wanting to shed delusion and to know nibbana. It is also part of novel experience and primate curiosity to seek, "What is this? I think this was..."

Ultimately, are the experiences changing behaviour?

Are the meditative experiences letting mind close the gap between ever-occuring change and the need to constantly be, the supplication to not change too fast, to be comfortable in the changes, to be in control of all the conditions effecting change of one's Heraclitian lifestream?

Does the mind realize if this, then that? In being momentarily if not completely loose from itself, does the mind realize it can contribute wholesomely towards the cessation of unease/stress/suffering/dissatisfaction to every conditioning with which it interacts and experience in some dignity those conditions over which it has no say? Brahmaviharas arise logically. I'm adding that sympathetic joy, mudita, could also be called "happiness" (keeping in mind that all conditioned things change, do not have permanence, in order to thwart any consideration that I may be saying a permanency exists in these emotions

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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Retreat Notes

Posts: 706 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Thanks a lot Katy. Now i've read your post a few times I think I get it emoticon

So I think you're in agreement with my teacher that these are to be treated as impermanent, and they are certainly not the path. Stick with sensations in the body and treat this other stuff with equanimity.

This is what I've been doing since coming back and they have largely gone away. This seems to be a good thing.

Im suffering from the hindrance of doubt currently. Always my worst, I may post about it over the weekend separately.

Cheers