Am I in equanimity?

Daniel Andersen Thorson, modified 11 Years ago.

Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
Using Daniel Ingram's metrics I'd like to engage in a little bit of dharma diagnostic. Here is what Daniel writes: "Pay attention to these separate aspects: the shift in perceptual threshold, the physical and mental raptures, the emotional and psychological tendencies, and the overall pattern of how that fits in with the rest." (p. 200) Here goes.

Shift in perceptual threshold: With a little bit of focus and attention I can observe vibrations in my body even while walking around. In meditation stronger vibrations present themselves. It is easy and natural to be present. Generally these vibrations are not pleasant or unpleasant (or at least don't seem to be). Thoughts arise but disappear as soon as they are noted. Gross emotional and physical sensations can generally be broken down into vibrations with a little concentration.

Physical and mental raptures: As I said above vibrations are nearly always present if I tune into my body. Since my last ten day retreat strong vibrations and movements occur in my chest area. This movement usually goes rise from my belly to my sternum. Often during and after a longer sit I feel movement in my head sort of like a gyroscope.

Emotional and psychological tendencies: Emotionally I am balanced in a way I have never been before. I still do the things which used to provoke suffering in my mind (I still engage in all the bad habits, have most of the same hangups) but they don't really cause me to suffer. They just happen and I move on. I am extraordinarily optimistic about my life and the state of things in general for seemingly no reason. I am generally content or happy for no reason. Beauty is very apparent and captivating. On the other hand I often feel passive or lazy. Without suffering as motivation I find myself engaging in some unhealthy behaviors, and I don't sit for as long as I used to.

How that fits in with the rest: I have sat two ten day Goenka retreats following the body-scanning practice. During the first retreat I had what I now believe were A&P experiences. (1) Gross pain from sitting suddenly dissolved into subtle vibrations and (2) Really vibrant and trippy semi-lucid dreaming. Also lots of feelings of dharma fanaticism. Second retreat was mostly just sitting through unpleasantness and wanting to leave followed by exquisite 'okayness' on Day 8-10.

Now with a longer term retreat ahead of me (http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/425018) I find myself practicing much more. I have about three weeks before this retreat and my goal is strem entry. I'm sitting 2+ hours a day in preparation.

My self-diagnosis is that I've entered equanimity but I might problematize this for a few reasons. First is that while I've been 'practicing' for about four years now I've only been on two ten day retreats and otherwise my out-of-retreat practice has been pretty lazy. I have used holosync for about an hour a day for the past four years without much vipassana while not on retreat. It seems unlikely to me that I could have reached equanimity after sitting two ten day retreats. Is it possible that I'm deluding myself and that I'm actually in three characteristics or A&P? I have a tendency to intellectualize the path and I wonder if I've selectively picked experiences that could be attributed to equanimity because that's what I want. Is there anything I should look for or pay attention to that would really solidly place me in equanimity?

The main reason I ask is for retreat preparation. After consuming Daniel's book for the umpteenth time and stumbling around these forums I've mostly been focusing on what somebody in equanimity should do to encourage stream entry. Should I instead be preparing for Dark Night?

Thanks for any advice,
Daniel
thumbnail
the prisoner greco, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Daniel Andersen Thorson:

Physical and mental raptures: As I said above vibrations are nearly always present if I tune into my body. Since my last ten day retreat strong vibrations and movements occur in my chest area. This movement usually goes rise from my belly to my sternum. Often during and after a longer sit I feel movement in my head sort of like a gyroscope.


on your sits, you're kicking around either 3rd nana (3 characteristics) with past dark night experience influencing it, or 9th/10th nana (late dark night: desire for deliverance/reobservation), with my guess being the latter. either way, if, on a longer sit, the vibrations are rising far enough to make it to your head and mess with your sense of orientation (things moving opposite directions at the same time), you're not far from 11th nana (equanimity regarding formations) and have probably been there before, as your very description of the gyroscope effect suggests that its territory you've crossed before. there is a sense in which the late dark night and equanimity are part of the same territory (the visuddhimagga counts them together as a triad). pay close attention to what the vibrations come and go in and out of.. what is this 'quiet background'? and what is the mind that has to be very gentle and careful to perceive it? don't stop practising.


Daniel Andersen Thorson:

My self-diagnosis is that I've entered equanimity but I might problematize this for a few reasons. First is that while I've been 'practicing' for about four years now I've only been on two ten day retreats and otherwise my out-of-retreat practice has been pretty lazy. I have used holosync for about an hour a day for the past four years without much vipassana while not on retreat. It seems unlikely to me that I could have reached equanimity after sitting two ten day retreats. Is it possible that I'm deluding myself and that I'm actually in three characteristics or A&P? I have a tendency to intellectualize the path and I wonder if I've selectively picked experiences that could be attributed to equanimity because that's what I want.


yes, its possible to delude yourself that way, but it's also possible to be cowed, for whatever reason, into a self-defeating exercise of humility that will limit your ability to make progress. while it's good to not mislead other people, it's better to just get stream-entry already, so make your call and move on.


Daniel Andersen Thorson:

The main reason I ask is for retreat preparation. After consuming Daniel's book for the umpteenth time and stumbling around these forums I've mostly been focusing on what somebody in equanimity should do to encourage stream entry. Should I instead be preparing for Dark Night?


given what you've written above, do both, as going on retreat tends to re-set the progress of insight and you will probably cross the a&p and go through the dark night again before you get to your 'okayness'.. which you should make full use of when you get there (don't slack off consistent practising).

tarin
Daniel Andersen Thorson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts


on your sits, you're kicking around either 3rd nana (3 characteristics) with past dark night experience influencing it, or 9th/10th nana (late dark night: desire for deliverance/reobservation), with my guess being the latter. either way, if, on a longer sit, the vibrations are rising far enough to make it to your head and mess with your sense of orientation (things moving opposite directions at the same time), you're not far from 11th nana (equanimity regarding formations) and have probably been there before, as your very description of the gyroscope effect suggests that its territory you've crossed before. there is a sense in which the late dark night and equanimity are part of the same territory (the visuddhimagga counts them together as a triad). pay close attention to what the vibrations come and go in and out of.. what is this 'quiet background'? and what is the mind that has to be very gentle and careful to perceive it? don't stop practising.



I just sat for an hour and came back to see if anyone replied. This is very interesting and I appreciate the advice. During this last meditation the vibrations moved rather quickly up into my head and my sense of orientation became very...odd. For awhile it sort of felt like I was sitting next to myself observing two sets of sensations! Like there was a double field of awareness. I did my best to objectify as many aspects of the experience as I could. It almost seemed like there was this spinning characteristic to all that I was experience taking place in the center of my head. I don't remember anything like this ever happening, even on retreat.

There was also a period of time that I tuned into silence itself and tried to objectify it. It was also a very strange experience. It almost seemed like I could 'hear' silence and then it became a vibratory sensation within my field of awareness not quite sound and not quite felt.

Interesting that this seems to coincide with your advice even before I read your post. Any thoughts on what I have just experienced?
thumbnail
the prisoner greco, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Daniel Andersen Thorson:

I just sat for an hour and came back to see if anyone replied. This is very interesting and I appreciate the advice. During this last meditation the vibrations moved rather quickly up into my head and my sense of orientation became very...odd. For awhile it sort of felt like I was sitting next to myself observing two sets of sensations! Like there was a double field of awareness. I did my best to objectify as many aspects of the experience as I could. It almost seemed like there was this spinning characteristic to all that I was experience taking place in the center of my head. I don't remember anything like this ever happening, even on retreat.


funny how something which seems to apply to all that you experience is taking place in the centre of your head, eh?


Daniel Andersen Thorson:

There was also a period of time that I tuned into silence itself and tried to objectify it. It was also a very strange experience. It almost seemed like I could 'hear' silence and then it became a vibratory sensation within my field of awareness not quite sound and not quite felt.


good. investigate silence, investigate awareness of silence, investigate the field of awareness.

investigate the sense of time, investigate space, investigate movement.

investigate the whole formation.


Daniel Andersen Thorson:

Interesting that this seems to coincide with your advice even before I read your post. Any thoughts on what I have just experienced?


yes, my thoughts are you should go back to practising so that you see, clearly, that now is the only time you have (to practise or otherwise) and here is the only place that exists. this is the only thing that ever exists (everything else is part of this).
Daniel Andersen Thorson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
OK! Today I sat and decided to bring more awareness to passage through the various stages. I was inspired by Florian Weps description of his sits (http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/436443). I noticed that I rose into what seems like dark night in about 10 minutes and then spent the next thirty or so being buffeted around by various negativities, wanting to get off the cushion, general discomfort etc. This eventually got really severe (almost got up and gave up) but then after about 40 minutes broke into what I am now rather confident is equanimity. This stage feels like sitting in a large field, very relaxing and very open. It is very easy to just idle here. Without the sort of advice I've received on these forums this would be more tempting. Using Prisoner Greco's suggestions I tried to objectify seemingly conceptual things like 'silence' or 'observation' or 'space' or even 'presence'. I didn't have much success but I am really getting a feel for what it might mean to do something like that. At this strata of the mind (to use Ken Folks' terminology) these abstract concepts actually do seem to present themselves as objects! It's pretty wild and definitely terrain that needs familiarizing but I really do feel like I can make some serious progress.

I guess now it's a matter of shortening the length of time I spend in the earlier stages (getting to EQ faster), and really prodding and hard investigating in the equanimity stage. To accomplish the first goal I think I'll do a pure concentration sit first thing in the morning for forty minutes before my normal vipassana practice. I'm not sure what I can do for the second goal other than just, well, doing it. Which is my plan.

Cheers!
Daniel Andersen Thorson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts
4/20 Sit:

Made it to what I believe is Equanimity very quickly, within the first 15-20 minutes or so. After my last sit (spent 40 minutes in DN territory) I've been focusing on surrendering to suffering. I find Yoga is very helpful for this. While in EQ my attention was rather diffuse. Most sensations appeared in my head or in the space around my head. The division between sensations occurring within my body and sensations occurring outside felt very permeable. Often got a sense of disorientation like my entire reference point was spinning off to the left or into some central point. Towards the end of the sit had a very profound sense of the whole of my existence spinning around a central location and felt as if something was trying to sync up with something else. I find that I have a lot of trouble putting EQ experiences into words or even remembering exactly what was going on during my sit. This likely means I need to bring more concentration and investigation into the operation. After the sit my third eye chakra is throbbing. Many of the sensations I observed seemed to be occurring in my third eye. Has anyone else experienced this?

As this is turning into a practice journal I think I'll likely start a new thread.
thumbnail
the prisoner greco, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hi daniel,

my tips, if you want them:

Daniel Andersen Thorson:

Made it to what I believe is Equanimity very quickly, within the first 15-20 minutes or so. After my last sit (spent 40 minutes in DN territory) I've been focusing on surrendering to suffering. I find Yoga is very helpful for this. While in EQ my attention was rather diffuse. Most sensations appeared in my head or in the space around my head. The division between sensations occurring within my body and sensations occurring outside felt very permeable.


note the permeable feeling.

Daniel Andersen Thorson:

Often got a sense of disorientation like my entire reference point was spinning off to the left or into some central point.


note the spinning and the disorientation.


Daniel Andersen Thorson:

Towards the end of the sit had a very profound sense of the whole of my existence spinning around a central location and felt as if something was trying to sync up with something else.


note the sync'ing, and if applicable, the wanting for the sync'ing to happen (or the aversion if it doesnt happen, if applicable).


Daniel Andersen Thorson:

I find that I have a lot of trouble putting EQ experiences into words or even remembering exactly what was going on during my sit. This likely means I need to bring more concentration and investigation into the operation. After the sit my third eye chakra is throbbing. Many of the sensations I observed seemed to be occurring in my third eye. Has anyone else experienced this?


yes, and i wouldn't make anything of it. if your goal is stream-entry, then stick to the three characteristics, regardless of the specifics of what sensations present or 'where' they present. since you've been trained on goenka retreats, that will probably be impermanence, but don't forget about suffering or no-self completely. in the u ba khin/goenka technique, once you get to high equanimity you're supposed to just let your attention rest at the chest and do nothing. my advice is once you get into the sync'ing territory, its best to sit back slightly and lightly and let the thing do whatever it will. perceive the sync/dis-sync/otherwise as it is and on its own terms. don't forget, the seeing itself is part of the sync'ing/part of the formation.

tarin
Daniel Andersen Thorson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 4/11/10 Recent Posts


don't forget, the seeing itself is part of the sync'ing/part of the formation.



Exactly what I needed to hear and be reminded of. Prisoner Greco you are a gentleman and a scholar.
thumbnail
Aziz Solomon, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Am I in equanimity?

Posts: 24 Join Date: 4/9/10 Recent Posts
Hi Daniel,

Your description pretty well articulates where I'm at too, and I've got the same questions as you. The contrast between the Dark Night and Stream Entry seems vast, and not being able to to tell which of them lies immediately ahead of me is making me very uncertain about how to proceed with my practice, especially as I won't have any opportunity to go on a retreat for quite some time.

I've just written a post in the hope that some generous yogi will diagnose my Dharma state too, though mostly describing a few of the symptoms that preceded this current phase of equanimity. I don't know whether these very unequanimous symptoms seem familiar to you from earlier phases in your meditation career: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/435924

Sorry I'm not the one to be able to answer your question, but I just wanted to say how helpful it is for me to read such your very clear description of a state very similar to what I have just started to experience. And I'll be very eager to read the answers to your question when they come!

Aziz