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Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
9/11/12 6:01 AM
I'm gonna try to make this short because I hate really long paragraphs.

I believe I had my first A&P at age 19. I just started going to church with a girl I liked, which was my first experience with Christianity. I had a really serious argument with my dad and ran out to the woods and kind of called out to God. It was like peace flooded through me and everything stopped, the woods went quiet and then it was like everything rushed back in. I went from tears to total peace and contentment.

I believe I have been stuck in the Dark Night since then. A very long time as I am 52 now. I am pretty sure though that I may have had a few more A&P over the years.

I have been meditating on and off for the last 20 years with the past year and half being the most dedicated I have ever been.

Practice:
I sit down and within a few minutes I am able to stay on the breath without much trouble. I can pick up on vibrations in the breath at about 10 per second after I have settled in for a while. It's mostly on the out breath that I sense the vibrations. In/Top/Bottom I am aware of but the vibrations are not as pronounced. (correction: Make it mostly on the in breath not the out breath, actually when it starts it is as if a wave comes over me at the start of the in breath and then the vibrations become clear. Just meditated and figured this out.)

I have times when it seems that I am drifting out of concentration but I recently realized that was not really the case. It's more like I am down in a shallow hole (not a great explanation) that has me, not cut off from sensation, but it's like a curtain between me and sensation. I am still following my breath though the breath and everything else seems far away.

I still have thoughts arise but most of the time they do not have any real substance and I rarely get caught up in them. I'm also noting when a distraction comes up.

I have definitely been through the stages of the Dark Night many times so I will not go into all that.

I would really love to get the hell out of the Dark Night for a while. Can anyone tell me where I am at so I can make it to Equanimity. I am hoping that I am in Equanimity now but my luck I am just in 4. again. LOL

One more thing, I don't have a teacher, tend not to trust teachers. I think I was a Christian too damn long and got burned too many times. Kinda turns you off to teachers. If you know a good one in the Atlanta, GA area that would be great.

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
9/12/12 3:30 PM as a reply to Darrin Rice.
Hi Darrin,

Welcome to the DhO! I also had my first spiritual opening with Christianity, and I share your pain at the darker aspects of that particular religion.

I am not the greatest diagnostician, but what you're describing sounds like access concentration, when the mind latches onto the primary object - in this case the breath - and other sensations are excluded. On the other hand, I have had something similar happen to me during equanimity, where sensations get "quieter" and there is less to note. You might get a better sense of where you are if you are able to describe what happens before the "shallow hole" arrives. If it's equanimity then you should see some indication - even if very brief and fairly mild - of the dukkha nyanas.

Andy

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
9/12/12 8:25 PM as a reply to Andy W.
Thanks Andy!

I will pay close attention to what happens before the "shallow hole". emoticon

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
9/12/12 9:47 PM as a reply to Darrin Rice.
Darrin maybe you can relate to some of this...

In my last experience of what I believe to be equanimity.

It first starts with access concentration where focus "snaps" into place. My focus was breath so I found that the breath is then focused on with no effort. After this other sensations were still going on and I could still verify they were there but my focus was still on breath with clarity.

Usually before I go through Equanimity, two main things I notice are that my hands and my feet warm up. Then things begin to melt in a sense that there is no one there for things to happen. Sensations are going on but there is no one there to have them go on. After this is well established, there seems to be a relaxing into it feeling going on. Or what I refer to accept and surrender naturally happening. Anything that can be labeled as a tension, sensation or what not is no longer bothersome as there is no one that it's bothering.

It seems more curious than anything and more relaxing than anything. It feels as if the sit could go on forever without budging from that spot. Breathing usually slows way down for me and it becomes very "light." Almost like feather light, and very gentle. A natural sense of okayness prevails over all experience happening and hearing heightens not to a person in particular. It is just more clear and "louder".

I hope the description is too out there haha. I've just been now reaching it again after a while of not meditating. Hope this helps in some way!

Oh yeah... it bleeds over into everyday life afterword... meaning the light okayness is still there after i'm in my wakeful state. Little things can send short bursts of raptures through my body.

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
9/13/12 5:46 AM as a reply to Darrin Rice.
HI Darrin,

Welcome.

Further to the other comments:
Practice:
I sit down and within a few minutes I am able to stay on the breath without much trouble. I can pick up on vibrations in the breath at about 10 per second after I have settled in for a while. It's mostly on the out breath that I sense the vibrations. In/Top/Bottom I am aware of but the vibrations are not as pronounced. (correction: Make it mostly on the in breath not the out breath, actually when it starts it is as if a wave comes over me at the start of the in breath and then the vibrations become clear. Just meditated and figured this out.)

I have times when it seems that I am drifting out of concentration but I recently realized that was not really the case. It's more like I am down in a shallow hole (not a great explanation) that has me, not cut off from sensation, but it's like a curtain between me and sensation. I am still following my breath though the breath and everything else seems far away
.

It is very useful to keep following that breath closely through all the sensations, keeping the mind gentle and at the breath. When it wanders a little, no problem - come back the breath. One is being like an ideal, gentle, kind mother/father to the wandering mind and just taking any mind of commentary (about the practice) or wandering thinking (about anything) and bringing it back into the breath, taking it in with attention.

One is really being at the breath (around the nostrils and upper lip) with full contentedness to be right there, with the breath. Or full contentedness to find oneself in a thought and returning one's attention to the breath. No anticipation for anything, just total willingness, sit after sit, to be there with the breath. Some breaths are short, some breathes are long. Just being at the breath

I make sure the forehead space between the eyes stays loose. There may come sensations of tightness or focus there later (maybe not), but while I am "in charge" of collected the concentration around the breath, I also keep the forhead area relaxed. In this way I know I am not adding too much volitional intensity in the effort, which is not helpful, which desire is counterproductive. The effort can be very excellent and intense, while still being fully relaxed and content.

Also, one can sit in a chair (like a dining room chair - which has softness and a straight back) and keep the legs even lifted on a bench, or stretched out on something (something that will not force you to lock your knees).

When the mind really goes into its object (e.g., into open awareness, anapanasati, kasina, devotion --- all standard objects of meditation) shtira, sukkha comes up: body is steady and comfortable. Even after many minutes pass, the body becomes steady and comfortable.

The mind, meanwhile, when it really gets focused with its object, starts growing in what seems like "brightness". I would not pay attention to the brighten aspects. At some point of focus the brightness naturally become part of the meditation, and there the mind gets to a place wherein body feels fine and mind feels alert, bright, well, focuses. At that point there is a new "chapter" of practice arising (in my opinion), first jhana and knowledge of samadhi (excellent "concentration").

_____________
During the day, outside of meditation, it helps very much to be soft and gentle with everyone around you, to be an excellent non-judgemental listener, for example. This helps contain one's personality and prevent the creation of agitation with others (but it happens, like the mind wandering, and needs the same response to it's expression as the mind wandering: gentle recovery and return to sati), which creates an upset mind that is often too provoked in self-blaming or agitation to settle into focusing fully on an object. It can take days for a mind to settle after an argument...

During the day also, in as many spare moments as possible, letting the mind be felicitous and fully at the sense doors is very useful. This settles the mind before the meditation and also allows the conceptual aspect of mind --- heavily used in life today -- take a break, relax. If you work and in an office, feeling sunrise/sunset on the face (if near a window or by going outside and taking a walk in it). At night, there can be standing outside and taking in the air and animal or traffic sounds just as they are: letting odors be known in the smell-consciousness, acoustics just occuring in the hearing-consicousness. When eating, letting flavors just be in the taste-consciousness (although with food, when one eats after hunger, there is a strong pleasure sensation that spreads quickly through the brain and this mental consciousness of "pleasure" can also be felt). So this is often called here "seeing at the eyes", "hearing at the ears", "smelling at the nose" and it's usually referencing a sutta called the Bahiya sutta, about a man who became enlightened, experienced the simplicity of knowing things as they are.

_______________

I have definitely been through the stages of the Dark Night many times so I will not go into all that.

I would really love to get the hell out of the Dark Night for a while. Can anyone tell me where I am at so I can make it to Equanimity.


So I have written a lot to you (on top of what others have written): both daily, felicitous, receptive, even mildly delighted sati at the sense-doors (this means not to elaborate at the mental consciousness level, such as going further than just smelling, and promoting thoughts like, "Oh, what a fine night.") and sitting for training in deepening focus (the body-mind will have its indicators such as steadiness and comfort and the mind will brighten when willing, gentle concentration builds...it is a bit like a game).

Lastly, making sure that one's physical fitness has been addressed is very helpful. For example, it is extremely helpful to get a boost out of dark night with a regular cardiovascular program and yoga (or if you stretch, perhaps consider making every stretch be attended by long, slow, deep breathing (at least 5-seconds inhale, at least 5-seconds exhale, for no less than 5 cycles of respiration, ideally 12 cycles of long, slow, deep breathes). It is not even so much as the effect of the wonderful chemicals released therein, it is also about the effort and showing up to the effort which is then met by a chemical reward (from exercise) this combination of effort and reward starts to train the brain for focus and effort.

Best wishes.

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
1/21/13 10:05 AM as a reply to Darrin Rice.
Ok, on Saturday 11/10/12 I was meditating as usual (or maybe not as usual) when I hit what I believed was high EQ at the time, then: Everything stopped, it was quite dramatic. It was simply a snap/flash. The rapture that came over me was unbelievable. I distinctly remember a face/person (??), not sure if it was mine but it was to my left “over there” and then it seemed to switch sides. I’m not explaining this well. I finished meditating and had to drive over to my son’s house. The clarity of all of my senses was amazing. Whatever I looked at had depth and texture that I had never seen before. I could run through all of the senses but will only say that every sense was amazing. I remember thinking that what is over there is really over here. I felt like I could reach out and pull what was over there to me and then the feeling of separateness would disappear. This lasted for 3-4 hours.

Over the next week or so this happened again 2-3 more times in much the same way.

I have never really been able to recognize the nanas but now when I sit or not sit (watching the Falcons/49ers game) I know I am cycling through them. It’s actually driving me a little crazy. It took me almost 2 months to realize that this is what is happening. Over the last couple of days I have started noticing the cycle. If I were to stop what I am doing right now I’m sure I could figure out what nana I am in.

I think it was fruition, and I seem to be able to do it again at least once a day but it is not nearly as dramatic as the first 3 times. Also, it lasts longer at times and I don’t always see the face. Is that normal?

I went back and reread the chapter in MCTB “Beyond First Path”. Did I hit stream entry???????

I’m pretty sure this was not A&P because I have been there, done that several times and never had the after effects that this has had.

There is no way I want to deceive myself into thinking I hit stream entry if I really did not.

Opinions please!

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
1/21/13 12:06 PM as a reply to Darrin Rice.
Darrin Rice:
Ok, on Saturday 11/10/12 I was meditating as usual (or maybe not as usual) when I hit what I believed was high EQ at the time, then: Everything stopped, it was quite dramatic. It was simply a snap/flash. The rapture that came over me was unbelievable.


Yup, that's the path moment. It took me a day or two just to be able to think straight after that. I was high as a kite. I had some cool (literally, in the temperature sense) energetic sensations in what felt like the middle of the brain and I could not concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds until I came back down to the new "normal".


I distinctly remember a face/person (??), not sure if it was mine but it was to my left “over there” and then it seemed to switch sides. I’m not explaining this well. I finished meditating and had to drive over to my son’s house. The clarity of all of my senses was amazing. Whatever I looked at had depth and texture that I had never seen before. I could run through all of the senses but will only say that every sense was amazing. I remember thinking that what is over there is really over here. I felt like I could reach out and pull what was over there to me and then the feeling of separateness would disappear. This lasted for 3-4 hours.

Over the next week or so this happened again 2-3 more times in much the same way.

I have never really been able to recognize the nanas but now when I sit or not sit (watching the Falcons/49ers game) I know I am cycling through them. It’s actually driving me a little crazy. It took me almost 2 months to realize that this is what is happening. Over the last couple of days I have started noticing the cycle. If I were to stop what I am doing right now I’m sure I could figure out what nana I am in.

I think it was fruition, and I seem to be able to do it again at least once a day but it is not nearly as dramatic as the first 3 times. Also, it lasts longer at times and I don’t always see the face. Is that normal?

I went back and reread the chapter in MCTB “Beyond First Path”. Did I hit stream entry???????


Yes. Congratulations. What you're describing is the Review ñana. You've been going through the ñanas and getting fruitions. If that's still happening, I highly recommend that you take this opportunity to clarify your experience of how jhanas work. You can do it by noticing the size of the area of concentration. Does it expand? Does it occasionally expand infinitely to the sides (or become truly infinite in a formless way) and then loop back to the center? Do you then get states that feel like being half asleep where nothing is really going on, possibly followed by a fruition and a return to a narrower, pleasant and focused state of mind that might be the A&P? Since this has been happening for you for 2 months, I curious as to how much you're currently practicing per day. Review lasted 1 month for me the first time, something like 2 months the second time and I'm a week into it this time, which is the third time.

You may want to take the time to take the time to experiment with kasina meditation. Now is a good time to do it. You can prop up a plate at a comfortable distance and just stare at it. There are several ways of going about this. The way I like to do it is investigative. Rather than trying to manipulate attention by deliberately causing a particular jhana, you can just investigate how things are changing while you continue staring at the object and seeing what the different patterns of attention are while doing this practice. It's also interesting to pay attention to the patterns of physical sensation while you're staring at the plate (or whatever object you prefer to use). This then continues to be a vipassana practice, but is also a jhana practice at the same time. It's quite an efficient way to practice. It might work best during Review, A&P and Equanimity, but then everything does. You can use minimal amounts of noting, especially of recurring pleasant sensations to stay on track whenever you find your mind wandering. Once you really steep your attention into the staring and you start getting a concentration high, the field of attention will start to expand on its own.

Jhanas are fun and you should now have better access to them than before the 1st path. They get clearer and become easier to access with each path. If you're more comfortable doing this with the breath, feel free. It should work in a similar way (I don't do breath meditation, so I can't say), but keep in mind that the descriptions tend to be for hard jhanas and have standards for "access concentration" and visual nimittas that require special training and aren't necessary for accessing jhanas for the purposes of recognizing them at all or using them for insight.


I’m pretty sure this was not A&P because I have been there, done that several times and never had the after effects that this has had.

There is no way I want to deceive myself into thinking I hit stream entry if I really did not.

Opinions please!


While you clearly got stream entry, do you recognize the sensations of the A&P at any points in your meditation at the moment, like right after the fruitions? Do you still feel the vibrations? Once those sensations die down for a while, it should be a sign that you're passed Review and on to the early ñanas of the 1st path. Getting to the 2nd path works exactly the same as the 1st, except that you now clearly know what you're doing and know what to expect.

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
1/21/13 12:29 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Jigme Sengye:
Darrin Rice:
Ok, on Saturday 11/10/12 I was meditating as usual (or maybe not as usual) when I hit what I believed was high EQ at the time, then: Everything stopped, it was quite dramatic. It was simply a snap/flash. The rapture that came over me was unbelievable.


Yup, that's the path moment. It took me a day or two just to be able to think straight after that. I was high as a kite. I had some cool (literally, in the temperature sense) energetic sensations in what felt like the middle of the brain and I could not concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds until I came back down to the new "normal".


I distinctly remember a face/person (??), not sure if it was mine but it was to my left “over there” and then it seemed to switch sides. I’m not explaining this well. I finished meditating and had to drive over to my son’s house. The clarity of all of my senses was amazing. Whatever I looked at had depth and texture that I had never seen before. I could run through all of the senses but will only say that every sense was amazing. I remember thinking that what is over there is really over here. I felt like I could reach out and pull what was over there to me and then the feeling of separateness would disappear. This lasted for 3-4 hours.

Over the next week or so this happened again 2-3 more times in much the same way.

I have never really been able to recognize the nanas but now when I sit or not sit (watching the Falcons/49ers game) I know I am cycling through them. It’s actually driving me a little crazy. It took me almost 2 months to realize that this is what is happening. Over the last couple of days I have started noticing the cycle. If I were to stop what I am doing right now I’m sure I could figure out what nana I am in.

I think it was fruition, and I seem to be able to do it again at least once a day but it is not nearly as dramatic as the first 3 times. Also, it lasts longer at times and I don’t always see the face. Is that normal?

I went back and reread the chapter in MCTB “Beyond First Path”. Did I hit stream entry???????


Yes. Congratulations. What you're describing is the Review ñana. You've been going through the ñanas and getting fruitions. If that's still happening, I highly recommend that you take this opportunity to clarify your experience of how jhanas work. You can do it by noticing the size of the area of concentration. Does it expand? Does it occasionally expand infinitely to the sides (or become truly infinite in a formless way) and then loop back to the center? Do you then get states that feel like being half asleep where nothing is really going on, possibly followed by a fruition and a return to a narrower, pleasant and focused state of mind that might be the A&P? Since this has been happening for you for 2 months, I curious as to how much you're currently practicing per day. Review lasted 1 month for me the first time, something like 2 months the second time and I'm a week into it this time, which is the third time.

You may want to take the time to take the time to experiment with kasina meditation. Now is a good time to do it. You can prop up a plate at a comfortable distance and just stare at it. There are several ways of going about this. The way I like to do it is investigative. Rather than trying to manipulate attention by deliberately causing a particular jhana, you can just investigate how things are changing while you continue staring at the object and seeing what the different patterns of attention are while doing this practice. It's also interesting to pay attention to the patterns of physical sensation while you're staring at the plate (or whatever object you prefer to use). This then continues to be a vipassana practice, but is also a jhana practice at the same time. It's quite an efficient way to practice. It might work best during Review, A&P and Equanimity, but then everything does. You can use minimal amounts of noting, especially of recurring pleasant sensations to stay on track whenever you find your mind wandering. Once you really steep your attention into the staring and you start getting a concentration high, the field of attention will start to expand on its own.

Jhanas are fun and you should now have better access to them than before the 1st path. They get clearer and become easier to access with each path. If you're more comfortable doing this with the breath, feel free. It should work in a similar way (I don't do breath meditation, so I can't say), but keep in mind that the descriptions tend to be for hard jhanas and have standards for "access concentration" and visual nimittas that require special training and aren't necessary for accessing jhanas for the purposes of recognizing them at all or using them for insight.


I’m pretty sure this was not A&P because I have been there, done that several times and never had the after effects that this has had.

There is no way I want to deceive myself into thinking I hit stream entry if I really did not.

Opinions please!


While you clearly got stream entry, do you recognize the sensations of the A&P at any points in your meditation at the moment, like right after the fruitions? Do you still feel the vibrations? Once those sensations die down for a while, it should be a sign that you're passed Review and on to the early ñanas of the 1st path. Getting to the 2nd path works exactly the same as the 1st, except that you now clearly know what you're doing and know what to expect.


"Do you still feel the vibrations?" Actually the vibrations are driving me crazy. I'm sitting here at my desk at work and feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. Wave after wave after wave. Arg!!! It makes it hard to focus.

"Since this has been happening for you for 2 months, I curious as to how much you're currently practicing per day. Review lasted 1 month for me the first time, something like 2 months the second time and I'm a week into it this time, which is the third time."
I have been practicing 1.5 - 2 hours per day in 2 sittings. I did miss a day a week ago when I was helping my mother move. Does it end quicker the more you practice or less?

Question:
If I end my sit in say "disgust" will that linger after I get up? Because that seems to happen. Had to stop yesterday and I'm pretty sure I was in the disgust nana and for about an hour or so my wife (who is an amazing and awesome person) was truly repulsive. Don't tell her I said that.

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
1/21/13 2:34 PM as a reply to Darrin Rice.
Darrin Rice:

"Do you still feel the vibrations?" Actually the vibrations are driving me crazy. I'm sitting here at my desk at work and feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. Wave after wave after wave. Arg!!! It makes it hard to focus.

"Since this has been happening for you for 2 months, I curious as to how much you're currently practicing per day. Review lasted 1 month for me the first time, something like 2 months the second time and I'm a week into it this time, which is the third time."
I have been practicing 1.5 - 2 hours per day in 2 sittings. I did miss a day a week ago when I was helping my mother move. Does it end quicker the more you practice or less?

Question:
If I end my sit in say "disgust" will that linger after I get up? Because that seems to happen. Had to stop yesterday and I'm pretty sure I was in the disgust nana and for about an hour or so my wife (who is an amazing and awesome person) was truly repulsive. Don't tell her I said that.


Yes, disgust will probably linger. The only time when the dukkha ñanas were really bugging the hell out of me was from September to mid-November of 2012, basically from the moment I got 2nd path. I guess it was some sort of crazy review version of them. Nearly every time I'd sit, I'd be in amazing jhanas, I'd get up and I'd be back to feeling horrible about this one particular thing that I generally couldn't care less about. The feeling of being unhappy about that thing would last all day long and I just couldn't shake it, though I could note my way into making it bearable while on the job or in some other non-meditative setting. It was the most overt the dukkha ñanas have ever been for me. Noting all the time really helps at that point and these involuntary unpleasant sensations are very obvious and therefore very easy to note. This is why I'm suggesting intensive jhana practice. If you note and sort of keep a focused but trancy 1st jhana high for as much of the day as possible and then go straight into jhana when you sit, this crazy, unpleasant phase will be far more bearable.

The more you practice, the sooner you'll be done with this unpleasantness. I got bogged down after I got the 1st path. Life became a lot more pleasant, so I wanted to spend more time enjoying it rather than meditating. The dukkha ñanas really only made me reluctant to practice back then. It took me From July of 2010 to September of 2012 to get from 1st path to 2nd and then until last Monday to get to what seems to be 3rd. Consistency pays off and progress will get you out of your current mental state. If you keep up your current practice routine, which is excellent, you'll get to the next path in a few months.

Are there still any pleasant sensations to notice? What happens if you pay more attention to them?

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
1/21/13 8:18 PM as a reply to Darrin Rice.
Hi Darrin,

Opinions please!
Well, for me, your experience resonates with what I called for myself knowledge of jhanic absorption. Whooo, i loved it, grew to crave it and miss those absorptions, particularly 4th jhana's inability to see anything/one as separate from me, for there to be me, per se, for there to be no gradient of "here" and "there", no gradients at all, yet there to be ability to know distinctions...

For me, the ability to be absorbed like that was a symptom of high equanimity, not mind having SE.

But everyone is different and only you will know in the coming year what is changing in the mind between your ears and what to determined has occurred emoticon

Good luck, sounds nice. In my opinion, if it is SE the paramis --- those basic ethical principles common to world religions and practices --- start to come up strongly in later months (not perfect practice of them, just affinity for them and metta in particular).

That's just me. We're all completely unique and it's fun/interesting to read your own unique experience. Thanks for that!

[edit: formatting]

[Also, my response doesn't refute anything Jigme has written. I'm reading and considering his/her view, too. It's a nice diversity.]

RE: Where the Heck am I? :)
Answer
1/22/13 6:35 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
"Are there still any pleasant sensations to notice? What happens if you pay more attention to them?"

There are still pleasant sensations. I will focus on them and see what happens. emoticon