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2 years of practice. What was that?

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2 years of practice. What was that?
Answer
10/13/13 12:50 PM
Hi guys!

I met some of you at the buddhist geeks conference (tall blonde swedish guy)

Started reading at the forum on the way home and found it to be very exciting.

Since I have not seen any of these maps, nor been in contact with concepts like Jhana, dark night, etc. I thought I could just post some of my experiences the past years and maybe someone would help me to interpret them in the terms of these maps?

I begin 2 years before my daily meditation practice began, to give some background (skip this and jump to 2011 if you want the juicy stuff).

2009
This is the year I came in contact with personal development, through some books!

I began cognitive reappraisal “ positive thinking” and remember some profound experiences in the terms of “Wow, I can change the way I perceive/interpret this event as positive/negative”

I began writing a structured journal of my daily experiences in terms of emotions, reoccuring thought patterns, difficult situations and things I learnt/insights/ideas/”aha-moments”

Also began practicing my self-discipline, which was at a point were making the dishes or cleaning the apartment was “full days effort”

Came in contact with lucid dreaming, had a big curiosity but not the self discipline to “pull it through” (actually started to wake up after every dream = 5 times every night, got scared of that and stopped it)

Read “the monk who sold his ferrari” and started meditating!
5 minutes each day just focusing on a point in the wall
After 3 weeks a shift took place where I suddenly could listen to what people were saying
(probably would have been diagnosticated ADD before that)

Then, I stopped meditating, thinking that I already had gotten the benefits I could get from that. LOL.

2010
Read dalai lama “happiness, a handbook in the way of living”
And through that book, realized altruism was my biggest goal in life, somehow it feelt like the deepest truth at this time.

Thanks to the self-discipline practices, I now devoted from 7AM to 22PM, basically all my waking time to either work part-time towards something I projected as economically freedom
and also towards my academic career goals

Suddenly one day I woke up with a tight pressure in the chest
this happened coincidentally with most of my activities I previous felt as fun and engaging now turned to “must-do” things.

Also accompanied by high pulse all the time and strong fears of dying

Visited about 5 different doctors, took hormone tests, ekg, x-ray of chest, etc. found nothing and they all told me to “just wait and see”. Thanks emoticon very comforting! But I am grateful however, for as it will turn out ;)


2011
I self diagnostized the symptoms as stress-related but still kept going like a madman in school.

At the summer, after first reading the book “destructive emotions” by daniel goleman and being VERY inspired by the neuroscience and monks coming together, I thought hey, maybe this meditation stuff ain’t that crazy after all.

Found out about vipassana goenka-style and went there (with absolutely no daily practice at all)

First retreat 10-day
First days I noticed restlessness. In the entire body and mind. Could not sit still for more than 5 minutes.

4th day I suddenly could notice the “subtle sensations” under the nostrils Goenka recordings talked about all the time (making me frustrated like hell). This propelled my motivation like a mad man.

5th day began the “full determination sittings”, to sit in total bodily stillness for 1 hour. Seemed like an impossible maraton at first. Would become warmer and warmer as I kept on doing the body scans, noting tensions, subtle sensations/vibrations and pressures. And also a huge amount of back pain. Which came with a fear as I in the previous years have had searing pain the lower back coming from stress and bad excercises in the gym.

At day 7th, something very, very new and profound happened.

During one of the sittings, I kept on being determined to sit through the full hour with the headaches getting stronger, body getting warmer and pressure building up like crazy in the upper torso, and back hurting of strain (made sure to sit with a proper straight back at all time)

Suddenly, everything went through a transformative shift, and the label “pain/discomfort” was nowhere to be found. from that point, sensations were just sensations, pressure in the head was pressure in the head. Warmth was warmth. Sweat was sweat and sore back was sore back.

Wow. I felt an immense joy coming forth afterwards and kept on practicing.

After those moments, until today, I have almost never had any uncomfort by heat or tensions in the neck/back or headaches.

Fall 2011 post-retreat

After the retreat, I kept on practicing daily, but noticed how the daily practice time would decrease gradually from 2 hours, to 1 hours, to 40 min, all the way down the rabbit hole to 0 minutes at christmas.

I noticed strangely, how much rubbish my thoughts usually were filled off. Lots of jealousy, aversions or just same thoughts occuring over and over again, antipating fearful stuff or going over old memories.

I also noticed how looking at myself in the mirror, felt very, very strange. As I somehow was the person in the mirror but really couldn’t identify with the picture any longer. Some sort of dissociation I guess.

I also felt how moods no longer had any place in my life, still tons of emotions, nervousness, anxiety, fears and laughs, but nothing that lasted longer than hours.

Time was another thing that changed, now the days seemed eternally long compared to before.

Now, begins the era of craziness. First, I started reading alan watts books on Zen buddhism and suddenly realized, maybe this whole buddhism thing wasn’t just another stupid religion (I was heavily athetist at this time).

Got into the blend with neuroscience through the book buddhas brain

During the fall, I also participated in a coaching circle with some friend, using some old and almost forgotten very confrontative methods from the “human potential movement era” in the states. It was super duper frustating, as we all the time tried to explain to eachother who we are, in the momentary experience.

I at the time, wanted to avoid this question, it felt unexpainable. So instead, I projected a lot of fear and aversion to one of the friends who introduced us to the method.

And then went to south america for a 3 month backpacking trip on my own. At this time I had abandoned all plans of fusion physics for the sake of instead writing a book in psychology on secular enlightenment (I thought), with the name “Mental freedom”.

Planning nothing short of the flight there and back.

During this trip I had a very, very profound experience.

2012 Bliss in Argentina
Coming to a farm high up in the argentinian highlands and working there for some days, in this place of peacefulness and solitude, I realized its time to start practicing again. Took up my morning yoga and body scan meditation and one day I decided to try out a loving kindness meditation down at a river.

Sat myself down on a rock next to the river and put on a guided loving kindness meditation.

At first, I noticed some aversion towards the voice of the guided recording, it somehow felt “too kind”, as in “ridiculous”

I kept on listening and following the practice, and when mentioned to remember a memory in my life when someone fully accepted the entirety of my being, the I, a strong memory came to mind which I had never remembered before, from childhood with my dad.

I suddenly felt IMMENSE sensations flowings forth from the spine, which at first felt very threatening. Much like shiverings of cold. But at this point, I also felt a strong willing to give up, to completely surrender to the experience, to embrace it and take it all in.

And then came a most profound bliss that lasted about half an hour, where I would have memories of enemies of the past, people who hurted me, bubbling up, I would cry tons of tears and forgive all this and a little bit more. I would also feel a total meaningless in the story of me, a let go of all the different self-images I had harboured until that point.

I would then suddenly connect these extremely blissful sensations (pleasure was way stronger than any orgasm I had) in the spine and throughout the body, to memories where I have felt awkwardness, where I enjoyed good music, whenever I had some strong emotions bubbling forth.

This way of relating to emotions have been with me to this day.

After this episode, they kept coming up every day, together with an immense gratitude for life, for my parents, all my teachers, role models, friends, for nature, for existance itself.

And after some months, when I came home and began practicing daily again (still body scan and some metta) I would suddenly come into thought patterns of how meaningless everything is. That meaning itself is nothing but another sensation, another experience. How I suddenly could apply meaning to anything and nothing. And I also started having strong fears of dying, together with a strong sadness that I couldn’t explain this new way of relating to emotions through bliss to everyone.

At some point here I started wondering if this bliss experience was a kundalini awakening / kensho. But I also realized that thats just another concept to try to fold the entirety of an experience into and let go of that striving to explain.

I started teaching yoga and meditation to friends at this point. Which created alot of doubts - “Am I mature enough? Mindful enough? Enlightened enough” ?

This led to a sort of pressure, every thought in the daily life catapulting me into the moment even stronger. I began to let go of aversions toward spirituality and towards the femine parts of my self. Started having sexual dreams with other genders (and animals, LOL).

Now came the second retreat

At this time I had began thinking ALOT about the concept of free will, which confused me like nothing before.

2012 Retreat 2, vipassana 10-day
During this retreat, I had an easier time settling down and exploring the different sensations throughout the body, letting go of thoughts and on the 7th day, something very strange happened.

Coming into a very very deeply concentrated state, I would walk out of one sitting and suddenly experience how my body just kept on walking by itself. This happened for about 20 seconds and I felt that I could change the course and even stop the body, but that it was unecessary, I was sooo freaked out by the awesomeness of the experience.

That I completely could let go of controlling the body throughout the walking.

In this experience, came alot of strong fear bubbling up, which transformed into bliss as it had been doing, and it stayed a loooong time, and I felt I could let go even further into a more deep tranquility.


Fall 2012
Even more events of meaningless and pointless would bubble up certain days, and I would just stay with it.

I would sometimes have the feeling that people around me lacked any intentional will that they were bots / parts of my inner world.

Suddenly, I could notice very strange shifts in my visual sensory experience, as I could begin to control and expand the vision to include an “even distribution of focus” to all items inside it.

This went with the hearing too

And happened very very often in conversations with other people, especially in engaging conversations. Super weird feeling at first. And it came with an ability to see something extremely beautiful in every face I saw.

During this time as well as the spring, I would often fall into short moments of immense sadness and appreciation, as well as spontaneous laughs at my life / life in general.

I overcame some of the last resistances towards spirituality I can remember, as I started to read lots of tibetan buddhism (I previously had alot of aversion towards that particular expression of spirituality with gods, entities, gurus, tantra and what not)

Very deeply inspired by the “Boddhicitta” concept.

Suddenly, poems would start popping up in the mind. Trying to convey insights in some form. That kept going until today.

New years eve 2012/2013
Went to a spiritual festival. Talked about some of these experiences for the first time and realized that this was not something that was so usual as I thought.

(At the time I thought this was probably pretty common, blissful states and all that).

I also noticed how extreme my lack of aversion towards heat was as I went through a sweat lodge (native american ritual) and totally enjoyed the whole thing.

The word effort, did not have the meaning it used to have, as moving my body and my speech nowadays comes without the effort it used to have.

I went to a zen monastery with thoughts about asking the sensei there about my experiences, but in the end I didn’t see any point with it. Had a nice short retreat of a few days only.

Somewhere here I noticed suddenly how even emotions of disgust (and sometimes sensations of cold) would turn into/be bliss.

My life would also more often have a dreamlike quality (feel as a dream) and I would notice that my capabilities of visualization became stronger and stronger (which is strange as I still only practiced body scan and resting the focus on the breath sensations in the abdomen + metta).

I would often have strong visual perceptions of my body shattering into million of pieces, or that I would rip out my heart and it would explode into flowers.

I found out about buddhist geeks, read some stuff about the dark night which I could relate to in many ways and eventually found out about the conference!

I traveled to colorado and met tons of inspiring people at the buddhist geeks conference, thats how I found out about this forum. I also found out that I could feel very relaxed even in the presence of very experienced meditators, something that previously would make me a bit tense/nervous.

Now:
There is aloooot of things going on! thoughts coming and going in a rapid pace as well as emotions. Also seems to be an underlying sense of peace/ "I'm totally fine with being in this whatever this might be in terms of emotions, thoughts, sensations".

Also: alot of confusion/openness/vastness in terms of the conceptual world, hard to describe but it feels like concepts are even more blended in the rest of the canvas than ever.


Edit: removed some less relevant info

RE: 2 years of practice. What was that?
Answer
8/24/13 8:08 PM as a reply to Albin Hagberg Medin.
Hey cool descriptions, I will see what I can do about labels.



Suddenly, everything went through a transformative shift, and the label “pain/discomfort” was nowhere to be found. from that point, sensations were just sensations, pressure in the head was pressure in the head. Warmth was warmth. Sweat was sweat and sore back was sore back.

Wow. I felt an immense joy coming forth afterwards and kept on practicing.


sounds like the equanimity nana according to the "maps"

I noticed strangely, how much rubbish my thoughts usually were filled off. Lots of jealousy, aversions or just same thoughts occuring over and over again, antipating fearful stuff or going over old memories.

I also noticed how looking at myself in the mirror, felt very, very strange. As I somehow was the person in the mirror but really couldn’t identify with the picture any longer. Some sort of dissociation I guess.

I also felt how moods no longer had any place in my life, still tons of emotions, nervousness, anxiety, fears and laughs, but nothing that lasted longer than hours.

Time was another thing that changed, now the days seemed eternally long compared to before.


I have had experiences and thoughts like these at various times

And after some months, when I came home and began practicing daily again (still body scan and some metta) I would suddenly come into thought patterns of how meaningless everything is. That meaning itself is nothing but another sensation, another experience. How I suddenly could apply meaning to anything and nothing.


I have had similar insights/experiences.

During this retreat, I had an easier time settling down and exploring the different sensations throughout the body, letting go of thoughts and on the 7th day, something very strange happened.

Coming into a very very deeply concentrated state, I would walk out of one sitting and suddenly experience how my body just kept on walking by itself. This happened for about 20 seconds and I felt that I could change the course and even stop the body, but that it was unecessary, I was sooo freaked out by the awesomeness of the experience.

That I completely could let go of controlling the body throughout the walking.

In this experience, came alot of strong fear bubbling up, which transformed into bliss as it had been doing, and it stayed a loooong time, and I felt I could let go even further into a more deep tranquility.


I have had the experience of strong concentration resulting in a sense of the body talking, moving, thinking, by itself.

Ok, so having read it all it sounds like lots of genuine insight to me. Really liked your poems too.

So my question is, how do you still suffer? What goals do you have in practice? How do you practice today?

RE: 2 years of practice. What was that?
Answer
8/25/13 1:05 AM as a reply to Adam . ..
Good questions, thank you emoticon

Today, I practice daily yoga and sitting meditation formally about 1-2h, will rake up the yoga part for awhile to even out some imbalances in shoulders and hip rotators and also will begin doing the yogas of naropa, primarily tummo and dream yoga. Might explore some energy work like qi gong to broaden my perspective, never tried similar things.

In the daily meditation the breath in abdomen is my predominant focus.

My explicit goal with the daily practice is world peace.

Suffering now tends to come in shorter intervals (minutes) than it used to do, this happens when I sometimes get caught up in storytelling thoughts about the world and how my self should relate to that (especially on the interpersonal level).

Or when different bodily sensations like tensions / nausea / pain which sometimes has emotional layers of suffering beyond their pure sensation.

Either, those states are dominant, or the states of bliss (which I can enter "at will" <-- hard to explain), or the state of some kind of purity in the awareness of sensations and thoughts/imagery.

RE: 2 years of practice. What was that?
Answer
8/26/13 5:34 AM as a reply to Albin Hagberg Medin.
Hey, great meeting you at Buddhist Geeks.

Here is my quick map take on this:

The initial period of really bad back pain: obviously the stage of the Three Characteristics.

The massive bliss beyond orgasm and tears and all of that: obviously the A&P.

The fear that followed that: Fear, obviously.

The remainder is not quite as straightforward, but some of it is very Equanimity-esque.

Diagnosis of other things usually is better done in person.

I sent you my Skype contact info if you are interested in talking more.

Be well,

Daniel

RE: 2 years of practice. What was that?
Answer
8/30/13 3:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thank you for your feedback Daniel.

To all you other who read it, I will make an update in some months and we'll see what has happened then :-)