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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

what was that, with regard to the progress of insight

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Hello,
Having just discovered this website, and the map of the stages of insight, I am trying to figure out where I might be on said map.
I am reading through MCTB, and I've read a number of posts on the forums, but there seem to be so many experiences which mimic one another, that I am confused. I am thinking, maybe if I describe my experiences here, the stages will be more apparent to others than they are to me.
So, I am going to post what I wrote in my journal after my first Goenke retreat 3 years ago. This was not the first unitive experience I have had (there have been a few, dating back to childhood, which I cannot classify), but it was the strongest. I am mostly confused about this because there is clearly an A&P event involved, but I'm not sure what it was that followed that.
Prior to this retreat, I had been practicing daily for one year - just watching an object - and had attained Mind & Body.
From the retreat journal:
"Day 5 Evening, a tingling - both cold and hot, heavy and light, electric - spreads from the top of my spine (back of my head) through my whole body, accompanies my awareness. I am space, nothing but electricity, pulsing. Pain just skitters along in the general tingling. My lungs are filling up with light, I can't breathe out, I am not breathing at all, only being filled and as the air comes in my spine extends the same air the same light. As my lungs expand I am drawn upward from above my head, the back of my head, the top of my spine, where the tingling started, drawn up as if being pulled from above and I feel like I am going to be pulled off the cushion into the air. I am light I am space I am buzzing, pulsing, space and electricity being filled with light.
The consequence of this is that I spend the whole next day trying not to crave a re-occurence, with no success. The next day was torture, I was in a lot of pain, and everything was incredibly irritating.
Day 7 Morning I decide to just concentrate on breathing. The tingling is still there but faint. I am abiding, abiding. I become strongly aware of the physical sensations that accompany thoughts/emotions, and the interplay thereof. I get all excited, thinking 'it's working, it's working', and then my mind starts turning again and I'm swept up.
Day 10 Morning I have given up on this ever occuring again, and so I am back to abiding in the breath and this is ok. All of a sudden a thought comes, a strong memory of me as a child, staring into a mirror, trying to pin down the idea of Me. What is Me? I was thinking "this is Me, this is Me" as I was staring, but I couldn't comprehend a coherent self. As I remember this, it hits me, like a bolt from somewhere outside me, the only relationship I have to this child me is a memory of being this person. Nothing more than that, and this is the same as the memory of being someone in a dream or the memory of being someone in a past life. I understand in a way I have never understood anything - on a fundamental level - that what you are is only your existence in this moment, and everything else is a conception. I understood - felt like I was being hit over the head with the understanding - that we are all walking around just pretending to be people. In this life, I am me and you are you, but these identities are all temporary conceptions, will of course change, have changed a million times in a million ways, and therefore do not deserve the seriousness with which we take them. We are all running around hurting one another because we think these separate identities are real, but it is so obvious just under the surface that they aren't, and that hurting one another is completely absurd. I had read all of this before, of course, but all of a sudden I was looking at everything from that underlying reality, and everything was so clear."
Following this retreat I kept randomly bursting into tears, being overwhelmed with how generally amazing everything is, and feeling surges of joy and gratitude. This continued for about a month, during which time I kept up a twice daily 1 hour long practice, during which the vibrating energy body and the sense of peace were right there at my fingertips. Eventually this sort of faded away as my practice decreased.
In the time since, my practice has been lazy. I had no idea what happened to me, I haven't been sure what to do, and I've just sort of been floundering along longing for the clarity of that understanding and feeling very silly being caught up in my life.
I hope some of you might be able to help me diagnose this experience. Though I'm not sure how it will help, I'm grateful to be able to present it to people to whom it might actually be identifiable.
Thanks,
Mary

RE: what was that, with regard to the progress of insight
Answer
12/29/13 6:35 PM as a reply to Mary R Bohan.
Hi Mary,

Welcome and thank you for posting. I can identify with the longing to return to a previously encountered place of clarity and joy in practice. It is quite likely that you have passed the a&p and are "floundering" somewhere in the stages referred to here as the dark night. The best way to proceed might be to begin a practice journal and begin practicing (again) consistently. This way people will have a better understanding of where you are currently and give advice that they found useful at such places. I found noting practice very helpful to when it was introduced after several years of my own floundering, and it brought forth results and changes that simply were not happening through the practices I was doing.
I would also be careful not to draw conceptual conclusions from non-conceptual experiences. Notice that your recounting of the absolute nature of the non-conceptual state is followed by several conceptual reference points. Tricky, isn't it.

Bill

RE: what was that, with regard to the progress of insight
Answer
12/29/13 9:26 PM as a reply to Bill F..
William Golden Finch:



I would also be careful not to draw conceptual conclusions from non-conceptual experiences. Notice that your recounting of the absolute nature of the non-conceptual state is followed by several conceptual reference points. Tricky, isn't it.



Hi Bill,
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm wondering what you mean by the above? Your conclusion was my original conclusion as well, but I haven't really found anything in the descriptions of the A&P that seems to describe the second part of my experience, which is why I thought I'd ask others.

RE: what was that, with regard to the progress of insight
Answer
12/29/13 10:13 PM as a reply to Mary R Bohan.
You wrote: "what you are is only your existence in this moment, and everything else is a conception. I understood - felt like I was being hit over the head with the understanding - that we are all walking around just pretending to be people. In this life, I am me and you are you, but these identities are all temporary conceptions, will of course change, have changed a million times in a million ways, and therefore do not deserve the seriousness with which we take them. We are all running around hurting one another because we think these separate identities are real, but it is so obvious just under the surface that they aren't, and that hurting one another is completely absurd"

RE: what was that, with regard to the progress of insight
Answer
12/29/13 10:15 PM as a reply to Bill F..
I'm not sure which part you are referring to, the month of gratitude/joy following?

RE: what was that, with regard to the progress of insight
Answer
12/30/13 9:31 PM as a reply to Bill F..
I am trying to understand the 'non-conceptual' part, that came later. But I'm not even sure what non-conceptual means - I can't conceive of it. emoticon
I think I give up trying to get a handle on this. I'm just going to work on noting. Hopefully the stages will become apparent in retrospect as I progress.

RE: what was that, with regard to the progress of insight
Answer
12/30/13 11:09 PM as a reply to Mary R Bohan.
Mary R Bohan:
I'm just going to work on noting. Hopefully the stages will become apparent in retrospect as I progress.

Practice with skill and diligence and good things will happen...
When it comes to insite....hindsite is 20/20.
Lots of people here skype or google hangout too....
Good luck,
~D

RE: what was that, with regard to the progress of insight
Answer
12/30/13 11:36 PM as a reply to Mary R Bohan.
Haha. Indeedemoticon
If you want you could keep a practice journal here, that also helps to get suggestions from others and to become clearer on stages.

Bill