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where am i?
Answer
11/4/13 1:58 PM
First post, so here we go.
I develop a massive interest in Buddhism over this summer after experimenting for the first time with-you guessed it-psychedelic drugs. To months ago I started to read more about insight stages and all of that here from the mctb wiki pages. For most of this time I've thought that I'm not really in any true insight territory: maybe mind and body or cause and effect but that was it. Lat night I'm watching Mr. Ingram's cheetah house interview type thing on the stages of insight and more specifically the dark night, and a few things caught my attention. Id been having increased feelings of anxiety over the summer, but i had just attributed this to teenage angst and all of that wonderful stuff. this was largely because I couldn't think of any mind blowing a&p experiences, but there I was watching that video and I heard Daniel say that anyone still watching part 2 of this video is probably in the dark night. I took this as humor, but began to think more about it and realized today that at the beginning of the summer, during my first shroom experience, I felt two "mind explosions" where it just felt like some energy had just snaked my consciousness to the floor for a second. A few weeks after this, I was constantly feeling stressed or anxious, often because of a growing sense of the horribleness of the ways my "ego" manifested itself, and every other psychedelic experience was marked by a feeling that their was a bottomless pit of despair right underneath me or just sheer paralyzing fear. My meditation isn't much better than it was a free days after I started, and doing mindfulness has always between a chore. If this means I'm likely in the dark night, what should I do so as not to fall back into it if/when I reach equanimity? Le m knq if anyone needs clarification

RE: where am i?
Answer
11/4/13 2:38 PM as a reply to Ian.
Hi Ian, a few questions:
How often do you practice?
How long are your formal sits?
Which technique do you use?
Can you describe how a formal meditation session typically plays out?
Do you see any patterns in your meditation experience?
Do you see anything other than the feelings of anxiety that relates to the insight stages?

In general, knowing about the dark night and its possible negative side effects is a good thing, but don't script yourself into needless fear and suffering. The dark night tends to be unpleasant, but can be dealt with if you manage to practice consistently and avoid spillover of negativity into your daily life.

RE: where am i?
Answer
11/4/13 3:06 PM as a reply to Ian.
ian garner Myers:
First post, so here we go.
I develop a massive interest in Buddhism over this summer after experimenting for the first time with-you guessed it-psychedelic drugs. To months ago I started to read more about insight stages and all of that here from the mctb wiki pages. For most of this time I've thought that I'm not really in any true insight territory: maybe mind and body or cause and effect but that was it. Lat night I'm watching Mr. Ingram's cheetah house interview type thing on the stages of insight and more specifically the dark night, and a few things caught my attention. Id been having increased feelings of anxiety over the summer, but i had just attributed this to teenage angst and all of that wonderful stuff. this was largely because I couldn't think of any mind blowing a&p experiences, but there I was watching that video and I heard Daniel say that anyone still watching part 2 of this video is probably in the dark night. I took this as humor, but began to think more about it and realized today that at the beginning of the summer, during my first shroom experience, I felt two "mind explosions" where it just felt like some energy had just snaked my consciousness to the floor for a second. A few weeks after this, I was constantly feeling stressed or anxious, often because of a growing sense of the horribleness of the ways my "ego" manifested itself, and every other psychedelic experience was marked by a feeling that their was a bottomless pit of despair right underneath me or just sheer paralyzing fear. My meditation isn't much better than it was a free days after I started, and doing mindfulness has always between a chore. If this means I'm likely in the dark night, what should I do so as not to fall back into it if/when I reach equanimity? Le m knq if anyone needs clarification


Hi Ian,

Welcome to the DhO.

It is hard to say without seeing what is happening in your actual practice of insight and discernment where you are. Psychedelic experiences seem to trigger episodes of discerning sublte arising and passing for some but I would say they are but glimpses and not mastery of the particular nana. They may spur you on to actually discern more though. And there is good in that.

Nana means knowledge in pali. It means that for a reason. You discern aspects and perceptions of phenomena of mind and body at each nana that leads one through to the next nana until equanimity is purified by an equanimous feeling (4th jhana/11 nana). There seem to be yogis that see the nanas as just experiences, which perhaps are more how conceit relates and reacts to a particular perception (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral, impermanent, not in control etc) and thus the idea of a 'dark night' takes hold. It's 'dark' only for that conceit. There are yogis who see the nanas as both a manner in which conceit relates and reacts to these mentioned perceptions of phenomena, and at the same time discerns all this as well and develops equanimity (what I would now call a 'specific neutrality' to differentiate it from an equanimous feeling). The latter yogis make better progress in my current view as they are then truly mastering the nanas (knowledges). And mastering them means not craving, averting nor clinging to and outcome for them (to dissapear or to continue). Progress occurs when this is done. Equanimity (specific neutrality) is cultivated and strenghthened when this is done. And when the bodily expericne shifts to a more equanimous feeling, the 11th nana is given the chance to mature until even the most refined formation/fabrication/mindstate/view/conceptual overlay/manner of perceiving, is let go of too. Plop. Brain change.

The advice for any stage is to pick an approach (like the mahasi sayadaw noting/labeling approach), stick with and master it and gain a momentum in practice. If there is no mastery of the approach, then that is generally when supposed regress occurs. Best not to plant the seed that experiencing unpleasant phenomena is 'regress'. One should develop equanimity regardless of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral phenomena.

I suggest dedicating a thread to a daily practice where you record what is going on phenomenologically. Then we may see more patterns and possibly (not always) offer suggestions on "where you are". At the moment, for all we know you may have had a glimpse of a subtler reality via drugs and are scripting teenage angst onto the paradigm of a the dukkha nanas. It is nice to attribute our suffering to such paradigms. It brings some sort of relief in my experience. But it is hard to say with certainty without seeing an actual practice in action. That is when states and stages become more obvious.

My 2 cents
\Nick

RE: where am i?
Answer
11/4/13 4:13 PM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
Christian B:
Hi Ian, a few questions:
How often do you practice?
How long are your formal sits?
Which technique do you use?
Can you describe how a formal meditation session typically plays out?
Do you see any patterns in your meditation experience?
Do you see anything other than the feelings of anxiety that relates to the insight stages?

In general, knowing about the dark night and its possible negative side effects is a good thing, but don't script yourself into needless fear and suffering. The dark night tends to be unpleasant, but can be dealt with if you manage to practice consistently and avoid spillover of negativity into your daily life.


Usually about 20-30 minutes of sitting each day, and throughout the day I try to recognize intentions and movement and thoughts and feelings that pass through as what they are.

During the sits I do Mahasi style noting of thoughts that arise and go immediately back to the breath but I do not actually note the breath because this tends to make me focus more on the noting than the actual sensation of air flow on my nostrils.

Usually I will start witih a few minutes of metta or the daily contemplations, and then I will begin to follow the breath as stated above. From here two things can happen

a. I will follow the breath pretty consistently and get easy 3-5 minute streaks of pretty steady focus on the breath with a few low volume side thoughts that go away on their own, and very rarely get a wave of piti that will go away within 30 seconds(I think because I get surprised or excited)

b. I will not be able to follow the breath for more than 30 seconds without either getting completely sidetracked(often because of noting thoughts that occur- I think that the noting itself distracts me more than it should so I may stop that and just go back to the breath as soon as i realize I am starting to get lost in a thought) or following the breath, but having my perception of the sensation of the breath at my nostrils turn slowly turn into some random almost dream like thought, which happens often if I am sleepy.

Option b unfortunately happens much more frequently than a., but I have only been meditating for 3-4 months so maybe thats normal? I'm not sure.

Usually I will get an option a. during a session and then for the next few days get option b.s, until maybe 5 days letter I get a good one again. I'm a little curious about why I feel so restless on the cushion. Most people I hear talk about breath meditation seem to enjoy it even when they're not really doing much let alone jhanas, but often times I am sitting and ten minutes later I am feeling like I would rather watch paint dry than sit here with this discordant mind.

Nothing that I can think of besides anxiety and an inability to concentrate, but as I am fairly new to this I feel that my inability to concentrate is too much of an unknown to classify as a dark night symptom

RE: where am i?
Answer
11/4/13 4:22 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:



Nana means knowledge in pali. It means that for a reason. You discern aspects and perceptions of phenomena of mind and body at each nana that leads one through to the next nana until equanimity is purified by an equanimous feeling (4th jhana/11 nana).
\Nick

Nikolai .:


I suggest dedicating a thread to a daily practice where you record what is going on phenomenologically. Then we may see more patterns and possibly (not always) offer suggestions on "where you are". At the moment, for all we know you may have had a glimpse of a subtler reality via drugs and are scripting teenage angst onto the paradigm of a the dukkha nanas. It is nice to attribute our suffering to such paradigms. It brings some sort of relief in my experience. But it is hard to say with certainty without seeing an actual practice in action. That is when states and stages become more obvious.

My 2 cents
\Nick


That is what I am worried about too, as I'm not sure that what I experienced truly was an A&P experience strange as it was.

I'll take your advice on the daily practice recording.

Thank you!

RE: where am i?
Answer
11/5/13 12:55 AM as a reply to Ian.
ian garner Myers:

Usually about 20-30 minutes of sitting each day, and throughout the day I try to recognize intentions and movement and thoughts and feelings that pass through as what they are.

During the sits I do Mahasi style noting of thoughts that arise and go immediately back to the breath but I do not actually note the breath because this tends to make me focus more on the noting than the actual sensation of air flow on my nostrils.



Noting can serve a variety of purposes and you seem to employ notes to prevent longer trains of thought from arising. This is good per se, but noting can also help you stay on your object, and I think it might be worth it to incorporate this approach into your practice. You don't have to do rapid fire noting on the breath. Instead, you could for example note the breath once per second, or once per inhalation and exhalation, or you could count breaths, or implement the instruction from the anapanasati sutta and note if the breath is long or short. Give these less intrusive approaches a try, or invent your own, as they might help you get sidetracked less.

Regarding restlessness, that's normal, especially in the beginning. As you slow down and look at your experience in a more honest and less deluded way, you begin to see how unsatisfactory and uncomfortable it is, and the habitual response to that is to avoid it via dropping into daydreams etc. If you resist the urge to avoid, restlessness arises.
Try seeing the restlessness as just another thing that arises. It's a natural phenomenon after all, causal, conditioned, and does not have much to do with you personally. Investigate: What triggers it? Does it vary in intensity? Where is it in your body? What stories and mental images are associated with it?

Best wishes
Christian