Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

thumbnail
Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I've been meditating on and off for about 2 years and I can now explain my concentration experiences.

I usually need to meditate about 20 to 30 mins to quiet my mind and then when it is I find I can latch onto my breath for a good few minutes and I see a brightening despite my closed eyes. The first time it happened I felt my body release relaxing chemicals and I felt like my brain increased concentration automatically on its own. I did have some subvocalization like "Oh wow!" but the concentration seemed more automatic and steady.

Now ever since then I can get slightly less bright nimittas with less powerful feelings of joy but a good concentration nonetheless.

The two stumbling blocks I'm having is I don't know what is Jhanic and what is access concentration, and I seem to be stuck at this level for a few months. I have been trying to repeat it (relaxing, mindfully feeling comfortable parts of my body, and following the abdomin).

Thanks for the help

Richard
thumbnail
Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Okay looking at the nanas and jhanas table I can see I'm into the 1st jhana for a few minutes at the end of a 30 - 40 min sitting. Do I have to then elongate this experience before I can move onto vipassana or is it okay to move onto mental noting of the three characteristics?
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights) (Answer)

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
It depends on what your goal is. If you want to become more familiar with pure concentration, then go ahead and focus on solidifying Mind and Body, the first vipassana jhana, into the first shamatha jhana by refusing to look at the constituent sensations that make up the jhana. Devote your effort to focusing on pleasurable sensation without investigating it or seeing anything resembling vibrations.

If you want to do insight practice, then cultivate the first jhana as long as you like, and then start investigating it and looking for impermanence in the sensations. Watch the sensations closely, NOT becoming embedded in them or "one" with the meditation object. Rather, watch them like a hawk, being dispassionate and uninterested in whether or not they're pleasurable, and try to break them down and see what the sensations are made of. This will take you past Mind and Body and into the following insight stages.


The decision is yours. If you aren't a dark night yogi, it can be really prudent to become familiar with concentration before you get yourself into the dark night, because concentrating is hard in the dark night. Previous experience with shamatha is really helpful there. But if you've already had A&P stuff, it may be too difficult to get your concentration strong enough to do shamatha until after stream entry.

Just so you know, any time that you want to do insight practice, you can always note. The only time I wouldn't recommend noting is if the mind is so bound up in hindrances that it's absolutely impossible, regardless of how much effort you're using, to actually accomplish any noting. I'm talking a thirty minute sit where, despite maximum unrelenting effort, you can't get more than 5 minutes of mindful observation of sensations. If you just can't do the noting, then go ahead and practice concentration until you can get enough concentration to do the vipassana practice.
thumbnail
Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I've done some noting already and I had a weird experience while driving where I was concentrated (as per usual) and I was feeling distant from the subvocalization in my head and then the subvocalization stopped and I felt distant from a "self" for a brief few seconds. It was so weird I didn't forget it. I still will continue concentrating because a few minutes of noting after dealing with the hindrances wouldn't leave much time. I can see now why many people try and meditate for hours so they can find more time to note and hopefully gain more insight.

Thanks

Richard
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Feeling "distant" from the thoughts, and seeing how they are just phenomena as opposed to "you," is a common manifestation of Mind and Body. It's commonly accompanied by a feeling of lightness, even floating. The first time I ever hit Mind and Body, about a month before reading MCTB, I walked around immediately after I finished the meditation and felt like I was floating, and observing the processes of walking occurring without myself actually having to "do" them.

Of course, anything weird could be A&P. But it seems more likely to me that you're describing Mind and Body.
thumbnail
Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Based on that TED.com Jill Bolte experience I guess we are learning to use our right lobe because the sense of self comes from the left lobe. Since we in the west usually mainly use the left lobe (thinking about self, past & future) it becomes a new experience for us to use the right lobe more often. Vipassana can be disorienting if you're not used to non-dualism. emoticon
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Well, Dr. Taylor's explanation of the two hemispheres of the brain is simply not accurate according to modern neuroscience. I've read her book, and she reports that the stroke caused her to lose much of the memory of her work, and she essentially forgot all the neuroscience she had learned.

Basically, both halves of the brain work together to do things -- it's not the case that one hemisphere does some things and the other hemisphere does separate, unrelated things. Vipassana requires both halves of the brain to function, and in fact it can actually be a bit more heavy on left hemisphere function when doing noting practice, due to the language task of coming up with and repeating verbal notes. Not that the right hemisphere is uninvolved in language, of course -- far from it.
thumbnail
Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Well that's disappointing. Why she was put in TED.com is anyone's guess?
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Need help with Nimittas (seeing lights)

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Probably because her story was so inspiring to hear anyway. I think the story was a really skillful way of trying to spread the message of loving others and being compassionate. Also, I doubt the TED people actually ran her story by neuroscientists or psychologists. Dr. Taylor's Ph.D. had never been "revoked" or anything like that, so they probably just accepted the neuroscience part of the story because she was considered an expert in the field.

Breadcrumb