Certain shades strobing

Mike B, modified 8 Years ago.

Certain shades strobing

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/10/12 Recent Posts
For the past ten months or so I've been trying to focus mostly on concentration meditation in order to reach first jhana. About four months ago I started noticing that occasionally areas of the visual field that were a certain shade/level of light would strobe for a second or two when I stared at them. Now the same thing is occasionally happening in certain areas with my eyes closed while meditating and it's distracting me. It only seems to happen with eyes closed when I reach a certain amount of concentration on the breath.

I had a handful of occasions a month or two in where there were some strong rapturous, pleasurable feelings (and no visual phenomena), but since then I haven't had very much success at all.

What gives? Thanks!
Mike B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/10/12 Recent Posts
After messing around some more I can get the flashing to last longer, maybe a few minutes, if I can stay focused on the anapana spot. It seems to often get more intense during the peak of the in or out breath and less intense in between.
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
It could be a few things. It might be jhana-related. It might just be junk behind the eyelids that we all get from time-to-time even when we're not meditating. It's hard to tell without more context. If you post descriptions of practice sessions (how long you're sitting, what kind of meditation you're doing, what comes up and in what order), it will be easier to tell.

The rapturous experience a few months ago could have been an A&P. It tends to show up in a big way at the beginning, but then it goes away for awhile. It's important not to grasp after those energetic experiences (see the Corruptions of Insight) if you want to move forward and get stream-entry.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. If you want more advice, you need to give more information.
Mike B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/10/12 Recent Posts
Thanks for the reply.

I'm currently sitting for a minimum of two hours fifteen minutes at a stretch per night, sometimes a little longer. I probably have about a half hour or so some other time during the day where I might get some extra time in.

I'm almost exclusively doing concentration meditation where I find a small spot where the breath is easily sensed and then do breath counting for fifteen minutes or so, trying to stay with the sensation the whole time. Then I drop the counting and try to just stay with the breath, returning to the spot if my focus strays. Lots of thoughts are still coming up now and then, but it's the periods where my focus is good and I'm just with the breath that the flashing (which is a pretty regular frequency) starts. I also occasionally do tonglen and Shinzen Young's 'just note gone' but only once in a while.

Looking at the signs of Dark Night, I haven't noticed any emotional issues or negative reactivity since the times that were rapturous. Maintaining focus has seemed to have been harder compared to then though. I very recently went through the direct pointing process at Liberation Unleashed, but the general consensus I've picked up here is that that's something less than stream entry.
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
If your concentration is good and you're getting really absorbed with the sensations, there may not be that much emotional reactivity and negativity associated with the dark night.

What's typically happening after the flashing of lights? Does it subside and turn into something else, or does it just keep going? Describe what the sensations of the body are like before, during, and after the flashes.
Mike B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/10/12 Recent Posts
It was only last night that I could get the flashing to stay more than a second or two by staying with the breath. It's pretty distracting. It goes away, quickly shifting higher in frequency until there's just solid black or grey, once my attention is drawn from the breath. If my attention stays focused on the breath it'll get more noticeable or brighter when the breath is stronger on the in and out breath.

For a long time when trying to do concentration meditation there's been tension in my neck that wants to bring my left shoulder up and tilt my head to the left and back. There's also been tension in my right inside thigh that wants to bring my leg in. There's often tension in my jaw too. Other than that there's not much. By the time there's flashing I'm already focused on the breath and I don't notice that stuff. I can't remember anything out of the ordinary after, unless my attention is drawn to those tensions. I'll be on the lookout for stuff tonight. A few months ago, before there was flashing, I occasionally had a fizzing feeling all over my skin when doing this, like thousands of little sensations, but that hasn't happened in a while.
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Sounds like the A&P.
Mike B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/10/12 Recent Posts
Hmm I'll have to read up on this stuff some more. It's going to suck if my concentration gets worse than it already is.

Thanks for your help.
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Concentration is going to be shit at this point, especially if you're trying to bear down on the object like you were doing before you got the A&P. Switch to a much wider, all-inclusive, gentle focus. If you're practicing anapanasati, shift the attention to the surface of the skin. The boundaries of things is where most of the interesting stuff is happening now. If you're doing a noting practice, just switch to all-inclusive, general, choiceless noting, paying careful attention to those desires for things to be other than they are, and gently disembedding from them.

Do this consistently and relentlessly until the dark night lifts.
Mike B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/10/12 Recent Posts
Will do. Thanks again. emoticon
Mike B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/10/12 Recent Posts
I'm curious, would doing the 'just note gone' practice that I've been working with be enough (noting any abrupt diminishing in any sense modality as 'gone') or should I go for noting in more traditional categories as the phenomenon arises?
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Having never done that particular practice, I can't say. However, in the dark night, "gone" is going to be more conspicuous anyway. For instance, see if you can notice the difference between the quality of an itch below the A&P versus above the A&P (in dark night). Below the A&P, an itch tends to intensify when you observe it; however, it tends to disappear when you put the attention on it in dark night. This is because in dark night, the vibrations move from the center to the periphery while the center seems to disappear. It's that doughnut hole phenomenon of the third vipassana jhana.
Mike B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Certain shades strobing

Posts: 8 Join Date: 11/10/12 Recent Posts
Hmm Okay. I can get pretty fast noting gone, but maybe I'll mix it up half the time to be sure.