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Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?

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Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jenny 7/6/14 3:22 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jake 7/6/14 6:03 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jenny 7/6/14 7:29 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? x x 7/7/14 5:48 AM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jenny 7/7/14 6:43 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Eric M W 7/7/14 7:34 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Eric M W 7/7/14 5:15 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jenny 7/7/14 6:30 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jenny 7/27/14 12:08 AM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? FM Cetin 7/27/14 1:56 AM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Dream Walker 7/27/14 3:47 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Matt 7/27/14 5:14 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Dream Walker 7/28/14 12:40 AM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jenny 8/2/14 11:50 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jake 3/15/15 7:36 AM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Dada Kind 3/15/15 3:38 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Jake 3/15/15 7:11 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Dream Walker 3/16/15 6:30 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Rednaxela 7/7/15 9:32 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Vuthy Ou 7/6/15 9:14 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Dream Walker 7/7/15 9:44 PM
RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding? Vuthy Ou 7/8/15 6:18 AM
Dear all,

I'm writing because I'm a bit puzzled about where I currently am in the progress to Stream Entry, while simultaneously suspecting that having a better idea where I am might help me practice with some tweaks that may increase efficiency or prevent further needless backsliding to earlier stages. On the other hand, it strikes me that I may simply have to go through the earlier stages again at this point. 

As some of you will remember, I crossed a very clear, dramatic, classic A&P stage that lasted a few months and culminated in a transformative A&P Event July 2013. This happened despite my having had a meditation practice for only a couple of years and having sat no more than 30 or 40 minutes each day. I feel sure that I stumbled into other A&Ps and long DNs earlier in life (I just turned 50).

After the A&P Event of last year, a week afterward to be exact, I had a crisis that was quite bizarre. Namely, after seeing the chaotic, fuzzy-middle stuff classic for the Dark Night, my vision, in one instant, became very warped and warping--so much so that it was interferring with my work as an editor. I had just started a new job and needed for this to stop. I have a history of complex migraine with auras, and I finally went to the ER, where this was diagnosed as a rare kind of migraine aura, and one I've never had before, called "metamorphosopia." It looks like everything is shifting, fluxing, warping--kind of as in a funhouse mirror. I backed off noticing/insight practice while also tackling the "aura" with medication. Things finally returned to normal, and I spent months avoiding insight practice and focussing on concentration/jhana.

In the autumn that followed that crisis, I fell into what I believe was Dissolution: everything was okay, but I was almost apathetic about practice and okay with life. In February, I received some traumatic medical news (genetic, not diagnostic), while also dealing with Empty Nest Syndrome since my only son went to college. Although what followed seemed to be a situationally induced depressive episode (I've not had any depression in more than 15 years till now), I could not help but notice that it progressed precisely in the order of the Dark Night substages: Fear (February), Misery (March), Disgust (April into May), Desire for Deliverance and Reobs (May into June). Moreover, while each stage predominated for about a month, I noticed that I cycled through all the DN stages daily, in a very predicable way, with early evening being just terrible Reobservation.

Finally, in mid-June I became very determined to reach Stream Entry, reasoning that I will never long stay out of delays in cycling and returns to DN if I don't. I believe I entered Low Equanimity, because even though my issues didn't let up, I suddenly was no longer anguished about them. However, the past two sits I've been hit with hard bodily pain, restlessness, and a new thing--a kind of involuntary swaying of my body. So I'm wondering if I've missed High EQ yet again and am back in 3Cs or Reobservation. Any advice for how to proceed is welcome and appreciated.

Several other "diagnosic" symptoms/signs have me puzzled. First, I always see, feel, and hear phenomena as vibratory. Last July and August it was obtrusive. Now I can control how much in the foreground these perceptions are. In other words, I always experience them in meditation. I can also experience them anytime I choose to just sit still and pay attention. But they no longer get in the way of my work. I can solidify things well enough to get through the day. I should also point out that I've seen vibrations for as long as I can remember; I assumed everyone did. 

The other thing I experience during meditation that is not deliberate samatha solidification is this 3-dimensional warping thing. It is a bit difficult to describe this mainly visual experience. It is as if wherever I look, instead of solid objects, I see a constantly fluxing conglomeration. It has a 3D sort of effect. Very fast, fine vibrations are in the background, and these slower, chunkier blobs are predominant. There is no sense that the other sense doors are participating; nor am I experiencing a sense that my "self" is over there. The watcher is intact. However, parts of my body enter into the flux over there now and then--for example, my foot.

Comments, observations, speculations, advice?

Thanks! x

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/6/14 6:03 PM as a reply to Jenny.
Sorry Jen, I am a meditation noob and in no place to give advice. However, I do have some observations and questions...

Jen Pearly:
I could not help but notice that it progressed precisely in the order of the Dark Night substages: Fear (February), Misery (March), Disgust (April into May), Desire for Deliverance and Reobs (May into June). Moreover, while each stage predominated for about a month, I noticed that I cycled through all the DN stages daily, in a very predicable way, with early evening being just terrible Reobservation.


How did you keep track of this cycle? Did you keep a journal? Also, it seems like there are macro and micro stages for you. The macro ones lasting months and the micro ones lasting days. 

Jen Pearly:
I should also point out that I've seen vibrations for as long as I can remember; I assumed everyone did. 

Can you explain this in a little more detail? I made a post maybe 6 months ago or so where I was freaking out because everyday in class the carpet seemed to be alive. The pattern of the carpet excentuated this phenomenon of vibrations and motion, like little wavy invisible lines that I could somehow see. My vision at this moment does not seem solid, everything looks as though its moving at a very very subtle level.. I'm wondering if this is what you are talking about.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/6/14 7:29 PM as a reply to Jake.
Hi, Jake. To answer your first question, no I did not keep a journal. I have read through MCTB five times. I was talking with my husband most days during this recent "episode" about what I was feeling. Around the time that Fear changed over to Misery, I wondered if the Dark Night cycle were involved, so I watched. By the time I got to a very distinct Disgust stage, it was crystal clear to me that I was moving through the DN.

About vibratory stuff--sometimes the vibrations are more subtle than at other times. For example, during the DN cycle I experienced last August, the vibrations were very, very loud, chaotic, and multidimensional, with zigzags and clear strobing in peripheral vision. More commonly, if I rest quietly and stare at anything, then I see any object as a mass of particles that are coming and going very rapidly, all at different times. During A&P stage last year, I also saw shards of brilliant scattering lights in the carpet whenever I meditated. I don't see these lights anymore. Currently, the vibrations I'm seeing do not follow the rhythm of my breath; they are constant, extremely rapid, and extremely fine grained. I notice them only when I stop and look for them now. 

The blobby thing I'm describing during my current sits does make the carpet in my sitting room look "alive." It is very odd. There is a sense of constant movement, flux.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/7/14 5:48 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
Dear all,

....having a better idea where I am might help me practice with some tweaks that may increase efficiency or prevent further needless backsliding to earlier stages. On the other hand, it strikes me that I may simply have to go through the earlier stages again at this point. 
...

Finally, in mid-June I became very determined to reach Stream Entry, reasoning that I will never long stay out of delays in cycling and returns to DN if I don't. I believe I entered Low Equanimity, because even though my issues didn't let up, I suddenly was no longer anguished about them. However, the past two sits I've been hit with hard bodily pain, restlessness, and a new thing--a kind of involuntary swaying of my body. So I'm wondering if I've missed High EQ yet again and am back in 3Cs or Reobservation. Any advice for how to proceed is welcome and appreciated.



Jen, even though you don't notice it, chances are you are already going through the earlier stages again --- in any case, that's the normal model for making progress. For someone with a strong A&P, it can be a single breath before mind and body is recognized, but according to the theory, that's pretty much where you start each sit (until after SE and you are in the review phase). It's also common to go "up" and back "down" a few times during a 45 minute sit, which is normal, not a result of wrong practice. So it's probably worth getting used to the idea that earlier stages are going to arise. And that's also the secret to "dealing" with them: they simply arise, so you don't have a choice. You don't have a choice what arises or how long a stage stays.

Really, about all you can do is be with the experience as completely as possible. Each moment is a door to a door to a door. If you try to avoid a door or skip a "better" door, it just keeps you at the doorstep.

Ultimately, this all trains TRUE equanimity. The ability to be with whatever arises. When a certain center of gravity of equanimity is reached, SE becomes more and more possible. But even with the higher nanas, it's normal to cycle up to low EQ, High EQ, and even have some near-misses and back down again, even within a single sit, before SE happens. The stages are sequential, but we traverse them up down up up down down down up down up up down up up up, etc.  There are no rules for how it happens, except in very rare situations.

If you can get comfortable with this whole dynamic -- being moved along the nanas without any control, but still staying interested in the quality and character of the sensations, vibrations, and emotions -- then you will make great progress. Remember meditation is paradoxically different than most other arts, on one hand it is very passive. Things just arise. On the other hand it is active, You pay attention. And together you make "progress" but progress is really being able to be with whatever arises.

As I mentioned in your Low EQ thread, the transition from Dark Night to EQ is clunky. Just be with the clunkiness when it happens. You don't have to do anything. If you can be with vibrations without becoming manic or overly tight-minded, being with vibrations can keep things interesting on a second by second timeframe.

Show up completely for the meditation practice. Be all "here". Then let the meditation do you. Note to give you feedback, if you stop noting, chances are your mind had drifted. If it has, note "drifting" and start back up again.

Hope that helps.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/7/14 5:15 PM as a reply to Jenny.
However, the past two sits I've been hit with hard bodily pain, restlessness, and a new thing--a kind of involuntary swaying of my body.

Re-observation and 3C's share many characteristics, thanks to the fractal nature of this process. This can make things tricky. Hard body pain is more indicative of 3C's. It is very common to drop back down to lower nanas from low EQ, so this isn't really surprising. As for swaying of the body, can you be a little more specific? Involuntary movements tend to be associated with A&P, the 4th nana.

Re-observation for me feels like my brain has turned into a mental washing machine from hell, spinning through all the DN nanas very quickly and making me want to tear my hair out in primal frustration. What you are describing sounds more mild than that, which again makes me think 3C's.

I understand this can be puzzling. I struggled with the DN for a few months before finally "touching" low EQ and falling off the ride. It was no fault of my own, I didn't know what the Progress of Insight was! I just experimented with some of the techniques in the very beginning of MCTB and didn't bother to read the rest of the book. Bad idea... Now I'm sort of in the twilight zone, having gone way up through the progress of insight but now being in some lower place... I think? Very frustrating at times.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/7/14 6:30 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Eric,

About the sense that my body is swaying during meditation--during my sit last night, this started up again. I opened my eyes to try to better sense what was going on. I looked down at my body, and, interestingly, I noticed that my body parts where actually part of that warping, 3D visual thing that I have been observing with regard to objects. So I'm not actually sure I'm "swaying" in the sense that we normally mean when we sway from side to side! It was more like I was in the flux of things--or, my body was, at any rate.

I did read again in MCTB last night about movements being part of the A&P. I don't recall experiencing any involuntary movements during the A&P last year, but, then, the really most intense A&P stuff occurred then in lucid dreams, although some occurred during everyday meditation, too. 

Thanks!

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/7/14 6:43 PM as a reply to x x.
X X,

Sigh . . . yes, I guess I need to hear this and contemplate it. The DN since February was supremely difficult to withstand. I'm surprised I managed to avoid being hospitalized for depression. I couldn't even meditate for months and just wished I were unconscious. So, it stands to reason that I cannot rest in Equanimity if I cannot yet rest in equanimity. And, and of course, the stages are cycling. . . .  

I am confused about something in MCTB: I think I read in one place that someone pre-SE will start all the way back at Mind&Body with cycling. But I thought I read elsewhere that one may fall back down to A&P and begin there, even if SE hasn't been reached yet. Which way is it? Does one start at the level of the A&P only while in Review? I'm guessing so. Oddly, even though I distinctly remember what Mind&Body was like when I first started meditating, I seem to be unable to experience that clean separation out of mind and body. Everything is fused now.

I like that "drifting" note! Good idea.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/7/14 7:34 PM as a reply to Jenny.
I am confused about something in MCTB: I think I read in one place that someone pre-SE will start all the way back at Mind&Body with cycling. But I thought I read elsewhere that one may fall back down to A&P and begin there, even if SE hasn't been reached yet. Which way is it? Does one start at the level of the A&P only while in Review? I'm guessing so. Oddly, even though I distinctly remember what Mind&Body was like when I first started meditating, I seem to be unable to experience that clean separation out of mind and body. Everything is fused now.


This is a bit confusing for me as well. You can backslide in all kinds of ways-- from EQ to DN, from EQ to A&P, from DN to A&P, and from anywhere all the way down to the lowly bottom. It depends on the continuity of practice. If you are meditating quite a bit, you will only backslide a little ways, whereas if you don't meditate as much, you are more likely to drop all the way back down to the bottom.

I personally hit EQ and dropped all the way back down. 

I don't get the clean separation of Mind and Body anymore either. It's like being in some kind of nana twilight zone, where I'm never really sure where I am, other than the lingering DN symptoms. Sometimes I get a stiff neck and I've had some A&P symptoms, but it all feels fake or inauthentic somehow. Very frustrating...

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/27/14 12:08 AM as a reply to Jenny.
I didn't slide back down, after all; It seems that I'm in a higher EQ, if not outright High EQ. I am sitting for longer periods easily, every day. I reread the chapter on EQ in MCTB and understood better that the object needs to shift from narrow/concrete to investigation of broader, more abstract things: selfing, peace, ease, resistence, intimacy. . . . 

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/27/14 1:56 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Good to hear that. 

I think I'm somewhere around there too. First time I hit EQ it didn't last very long. We'll see what happens this time. I think more letting go of attachment to progress is helping. You have good reminders also.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/27/14 3:47 PM as a reply to Jenny.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/27/14 5:14 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:


Thank you Dream Walker, that's an excellent pointer for me, another yogi stumbling around the circuit.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/28/14 12:40 AM as a reply to Matt.
the real matt:
Thank you Dream Walker, that's an excellent pointer for me, another yogi stumbling around the circuit.


No problem....I really like Kenneth's descriptions of EQ. I would add that the thoughts kinda get a bit dreamy. It's almost as if your thoughts are sitting in the back seat of the car doing their own thing while the forefront is in a dreamy kinda state. Then pop out of the dreamy state and onto the moments leading to cesassion. If your concentration is super high it does not feel so dreamy.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
8/2/14 11:50 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Yes, it is dreamy and spacious. It keeps feeling like I'm not "really" meditating, somehow, that I'm not focused. But I think maybe it is a different kind of "focused." Thanks for the KF link. 

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
3/15/15 7:36 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

Any idea how to access Kenneth's book now? The domain seems to have expired and I suspect I am in the same situation that Jenny was during this post.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
3/15/15 3:38 PM as a reply to Jake.
https://web.archive.org/web/20141217013653/http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/

It has a few of the sections archived.

https://web.archive.org/web/20141019050949/http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/book-two-theory/the-progress-of-insight-map/
For example

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
3/15/15 7:11 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Awesome, thanks Droll! 

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
3/16/15 6:30 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Gonna send Kenneth an message to ask him to renew the domain. This is too good of stuff to not be accessable.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/7/15 9:32 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
the link looks to be renewed.  i was reading this book yesterday when i could find the time.

edit: i just ran into the third part of the book which ends rather abruptly.  great up to then, and somewhat inspiring in terms of encouraging stream entry.  i love the bits about Bill Hamilton (incl. his dying words).  anyway, it renews my interest in mahasi noting, and i'll get back to MCTB once i get my concentration fired up at a jhana retreat in July

Alex

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/6/15 9:14 PM as a reply to Jenny.
No directly useful input, just chiming in that I've also been experiencing similar visual phenomena in the past few weeks, but not as dramatic as what you describe. There is constant subtle visual flickering without having to sit and look. Today, after 2nd Vipassana session, also encountered a subtle "3D warping" of visual objects for 5 minutes or so after the eyes opened. Then I got up to go to the bathroom and the warping stopped (flickering remains constant).

I actually don't know what to make of it all - initially, it felt special. Now, just a cool thing that happens. Suspect that it's totally natural/normal and this stuff is always there, but with enhanced perceptual ability, it can be seen now.

Best of luck towards SE - I'm working toward the same.

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/7/15 9:44 PM as a reply to Vuthy Ou.
Vuthy Ou:

Best of luck towards SE - I'm working toward the same.

Vuthy, this thread was started 7/6/14
Jenny is far beyond SE now.
But yes, best of luck finishing it Jenny
~D

RE: Surpassing Low Equanimity Without Backsliding?
Answer
7/8/15 6:18 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Ha! Noting "embarrassment", " heat", "humor"