Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person?

Ray Mall, modified 8 Years ago.

Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person?

Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/8/13 Recent Posts
Hello People,

I am a very new to meditation, and I recently had some strange experiences.

Background:
I started meditating a little less than a month ago after reading this:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/the-anxiety-of-the-long-distance-meditator/

I was intrigued and started reading up on the subject beginning with Mr. Ingram's, "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book." But, I didn't really digest a lot of the material because it was a new field, and I wasn't really familiar with the vocabulary.

I began casually meditating, by concentrating on one object. I started with a candle, and I had some moderate success. I generally felt 'good' during and directly after sitting. Eventually I began focusing on the breath because I began to feel more distracted by the candle flame's flickering and constant movements. Anyway, I found this website:
http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/how-to-meditate/
and began following those instructions.

I would focus on the breath (specifically the sensation in the nostrils) at the beginning of my meditation and after I felt relatively still and concentrated I would widen my focus to my stream of consciousnesses. I tried to note all of my thoughts and sensations and sometimes I would "see" them enter my consciousnesses from the right and exit to the left. I tried to note them as they passed and then let them fall out of my mind on there own.

I was having a lot of fun with this new technique because my sits were much more interesting and less difficult than my previous technique.

At any rate, here is where it got interesting. Around Christmas (probably not relevant) I was staying with family and couldn't really find time for myself so I would meditate in bed for maybe 20-30min before going to sleep.

I had two strange experiences two nights in a row. The first one happened as I was very "in the moment." An image entered into consciousnesses that was very distressing. It was a kind of disfigured man in a chair, and I felt a sort of shock wave as soon as it appeared. I broke concentration because I had never experienced anything like it before and I began to wonder if it had any significance.

The following night, I was meditating again in bed. After maybe 20 minutes of watching my stream of consciousnesses, I suddenly felt elevated. I want to try to be as descriptive as I can. I felt like pure openness. Like before I was somewhat confined within my own mind, but for a moment I felt like I was in some vast room, or like I was vastness itself. I just felt open, vast, expansive. I'm not trying to be vague. I hope this makes some sort of sense. At the same time, I felt a "shock wave" or "energy." I felt elevated. It was almost orgasmic, although there wasn't really any pleasure or sensation of relief. My head shot up off of my pillow and my eyelids twitched and strained. It only ended after I allowed my curiosity to take over. It was too bizarre and exciting not to engage.

Anyway, after that I got really excited about mediation. I began encouraging my friends and family to try it, and I started looking into all of the scientific research on mediation and Buddhist monks and all of that. But, my sits were becoming worse and worse. I couldn't help but by distracted after that experience. I always found myself wondering if something else would happen, or if I could make it happen again, or if it should happen.

Right now I feel like I'm back to square one. I'm so frustrated every time I try to sit, that I can't even focus on for more than one or two breaths before becoming fidgety or distracted. When I try to observe my stream of consciousnesses, there isn't anything there other than a feeling of stress that I can't feel impartial to, and that won't fall out of consciousnesses.

So I've read a bit more about "the path" and it sounds like what I've experienced are the A&P and Dark Knight stages, and the strange experiences are called raptures.

Thoughts? I've only been practicing for a little more than three weeks. I don't sit every day. I haven't had any profound insights. I just had two weird, exciting experiences and now my mediation kind of sucks.
A D R, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person?

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Hey Ray,

Welcome to the Dho!

I am probably not as well equipped to help you as perhaps some others on here, by my two cents would be that you probably did in fact encounter some kind of A&P territory.
My recommendation based on my own experience would be to focus on trying to find enjoyment in whatever creative/curious ways you can. Keep living your life, make informed decisions, and relax!

emoticon
thumbnail
Daniel Gravel, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person? (Answer)

Posts: 71 Join Date: 12/28/12 Recent Posts
I noticed when I started sitting to do formal meditation that my concentration appeared to get worse before it got better. Apparently this is because our concentration is generally so poor at the beginning of the Work that we don't notice how often we get distracted. Upon rereading your post however I realize that you might not be referring to this phenomena.
thumbnail
Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person? (Answer)

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
The trick is not to give in to content when the practice is imperfect. As soon as you know you've wandered you are essentially back. The best thing to do is just go back to the concentration object ASAP without commentary or judgment. That's what makes people progress faster. I counted breaths 1 to 10 and backwards from 10 to 1 for concentration. If you make a mistake just start over. With insight just follow the instructions for noting and avoid meditation judgment and commentary. Just go back to what is and continue the practice. The more nonchalant about mistakes the better.
thumbnail
katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person?

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Ray,

1/8/13 1:10 PM

Thoughts? I've only been practicing for a little more than three weeks. I don't sit every day. I haven't had any profound insights. I just had two weird, exciting experiences and now my mediation kind of sucks.
How's training the mind coming now?


Katy
thumbnail
Mind over easy, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person?

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/28/12 Recent Posts
Hey. I'm loving the name of your thread... ha ha.

I second the diagnosis of A&P for your two strange energetic events. The initial good feelings when you started to have success with the concentration practice sounds like 1st jhana, or the nana of mind and body to me. I've found that as you go through the nanas, it's good to know how to play the concentration states when there's a good opportunity. It feels to me like consciousness is slowly expanding out like a root system when I go up jhanas or nanas, like consciousness is fitting itself to new molds. That's just personally how it feels, but it seems consciousness is expanding in some way. So I suppose "growing pains" could be a way of discussing the annoying ways in which your tool for insight constantly changes and works in different ways at different times. If you've had success getting into the 1st jhana, I highly recommend developing that ability, up to the 4th if you can, but if you can get the 1st jhana, you can probably at least make the 3rd jhana in short time with some practice.

Anyways, the point being this... when you're doing noting practice, you can simultaneously develop concentration, or vice versa. From my experience, it's easier to be in jhana and then switch to vipassana. I like to do one jhana, get absorbed in it as possible, then once the mind feels the pull to go to the next, use that moment to switch to noting, basically letting the jhana deconstruct by seeing the 3 characteristics. Since dispassion and letting go of mental fabrications is the goal, this also seems to train a muscle in the mind that allows you to intuitively drop fabrications. My theory of why this is so effective is because equanimity drastically increases your ability to see what's going on clearly and release mental motions that you make. So by doing jhana, you get the mind sharp and acute, full of equanimity (which is developed in every jhana), and then you use that equanimity to do vipassana from a stable base. Then, you can start to use that same muscle to do pure noting practice and move on from stage to stage effortlessly, with good feel how your mind is expanding along the way. Pure noting does seem to work for some people, but even if you're not going to take the raft with you once you get to the other shore (path and fruition up to 4th), it still might be nice to take the time to develop a steady raft (concentrated mind, good at jhana) to make the journey smoother. And if you read MTCB, it should be quite obvious that there are some... potential whitewater rapids, even before you've entered the "stream". ;)

Or, maybe just keep noting everything until you hit equanimity. That didn't quite work for me though, and being stuck at the dark night stages is less than ideal. Past the A&P, I think there needs to be a lot of releasing going on. You have to release some of your effort to note objects and let the mind find it's new focus, where there are new, deeper things to note. 3rd jhana is great here, since it's very calm, serene, quiet and dark, gearing towards dropping down, deeper, like falling asleep, in that the immediacy of physical senses calms down and you're left with mental boundaries rather than physical. If you cross the A&P in a sit, focus on the joy as it happens, and let it fade to calm and simple, silent happiness. The mind calms down quickly when it has the simple happiness and naturally lets go of a lot of tension. The focus naturally shifts outwards towards the edges of your boundary of awareness, as opposed to locking on to individual, immediate objects.

Those are some of the things that that helped me personally get from A&P to EQ.

Good luck,
-A Blathering Enthusiastic Person emoticon

Edit:

Right now I feel like I'm back to square one. I'm so frustrated every time I try to sit, that I can't even focus on for more than one or two breaths before becoming fidgety or distracted. When I try to observe my stream of consciousnesses, there isn't anything there other than a feeling of stress that I can't feel impartial to, and that won't fall out of consciousnesses.


If the A&P is so great and energetic and enlightening and glorious and insightful, then why would we need to go deeper? If there weren't some unpleasant processes that we mentally fueled, undetected by the usual threshold of awareness, then why would we need to keep going deeper? The problems didn't just appear, they were there, and it's actually a significant success, although annoying and confusing, to get closer and closer to the source of those tensions, peeling off layer by layer of stupid, unnecessary, annoying, compulsive mental conditioning.
Kenny Whitman, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 5/23/13 Recent Posts
Personally I find, in all fields of my life be it meditation / sport / new pass time etc, whenever I'm new to something I am very gentle with myself, I expect nothing and I enjoy everything because I am expecting to be pretty rubbish. But when something starts going well, when I notice I have made some progress, I start to expect more progress. I feel like I have moved into a new phase, it becomes more serious, and I want to continue to progress.

In general this generates frustration, removes the fun and sets me back. This is especially tricky with meditation, because what is there to achieve when we are meant to be just sitting with what is?

Maybe this is not what has happened with yourself, just thought I would share my personal experience in case anything resonates emoticon
thumbnail
Simon T., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Who Wants to Help a Blathering New Person?

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
Indead, it seems like a typical A&P description and entrance in the dark night. Not that there is such a thing as a certain diagnosis but it's ok to work with that assumption. If you want to discuss about the dark night, reach me on skype. Search for simontanguay.

Breadcrumb