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What I do in EQ

What I do in EQ
Answer
8/22/14 7:51 AM
Hey Dho, 
  I’m starting a thread to record my experiences in equanimity, to help my navigating of it toward stream entry.  I’ve been getting into EQ in my daily sits regularly and I feel like I’m edging close toward the unknown.  I’ve been in this situation before about two and a half years ago, but it slipped away as other things in life overwhelmed my mind.  For over a year, I’ve been “meditating” every day, but sometimes all it amounts to is sitting on the cushion and thinking  Which is not altogether a waste of time, but certainly not conducive toward enlightenment.  Now life has settled down and I have a renewed ferver toward finally getting this dang thing done.

For this first post, I’ll outline what a normal hour-long sit might look like:
  • Usually within the first few minutes I’ll start noticing A&P like experiences without any sign of the first three ñanas.  There will be light phantoms in the minds eye, pressure in the forehead/third eye, energy rods up the spine, bright tingling throughout the body.  There is usually no single dramatic A&P event.
  • The A&P stuff settles down 15 or so minutes into the sit and I enter a sort of foggy area.  Concentration is a little more difficult.  Body sensations are still apparent, but it’s a bit harder to focus closely.  There isn’t any strong dark-nighty stuff, except for maybe some tensions and knots in the chest/abdomen.  I can feel, hear and see vibrations, but they are a little inconstant during this phase.  I’m able to stay fairly equanimous through it all, but I do tend to get drowsy.
  • Somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes, there will be a subtle but noticeable shift into equanimity.  Everything becomes very clear and ordinary.  It’s like waves settling on an ocean, or like biking to the top of a hill and then reaching some easy coasting with a nice view, or like sitting down in a comfy chair after finishing all the dishes from a great dinner.  At first my mind is prone to wandering, but I’m able to catch it fairly quickly.  As this state matures, my concentration increases and my mind wanders little.  Steady, rapid vibrations are noticeable as sight, sound, and touch, and these vibrations hum along together.  I am also very wakeful.  I can sit very easily, and if I don’t have anything else to do in my day I’ll extend the sit past an hour.
Although the ñanas are apparent in my descriptions, I have to say that the symptoms are pretty subtle.   It would be hard for me to pick the stuff out If it weren’t for sitting retreats and having mind blowing A&Ps, horrible DNs and everything in between.  Overall my sits right now are kind of homogenous, with equanimity being the prevailing feeling tone.  A Teague from 3 years ago, would probably just think I was in EQ in the first few minutes of the sit, but current Teague knows better, I think.

I always regard my own diagnoses with a degree of skepticism.  When I’m in EQ, I’ll wonder if I’m not just in something pre-dark night, but when I try to practice my way forward, I don’t get an A&P event or fall into dissolution, I just get more equanimity. 
Any questions, comments, and advice are quite welcome.

As for technique, I've sat a bunch of Goenka courses, so body scanning has been my foundation, but I use noting a fair amount as well.  In EQ I sometimes do choiceless awareness too.

-T

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/22/14 8:51 AM as a reply to Teague.

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/22/14 2:05 PM as a reply to Teague.
Well if you are in EQ then it's time to become more familiar about it. Have you reread MCTB about it? Read this too - Knowledge_of_Equanimity_Stage_11
There is quite a bit of territory all wrapped up in EQ. It kinda seems in a way that you have to figure out how to meditate all over again in it sometimes.
Are you in low medium or high EQ?
~D

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/22/14 8:30 PM as a reply to Teague.
Yup, I’ve read them all, but they’re always good to read again.    

Reading Kenneth’s descriptions of low/med/high, I have to say that high sounds familiar.  I think I go through low and mid each time though, which makes sense.  But I certainly get to a point (maybe not every time) where thoughts really settle down, my whole sensory experience is opened up, and sitting becomes totally effortless.  All that stops me is that I’ve only carved out an hour for meditating and I have to go have dinner with my wife or something.  I’m going to start doing mini day-long retreats on the weekend, I think.

 
It seems like there are two modes to operate in during EQ:  
  1. Hard scrutiny, where I closely examine how the 3Cs apply to sensations, and root out any traces of clinging or aversion.  This feels active and usually involves noting.
  2. Open Awareness, where I merely keep my attention in the framework of my body, keeping one of the 3Cs in mind, but letting things unfold on their own.  This feels passive and might involve some gentle notes, such as “wandering” when my mind wanders.
These both feel effective and I use them.  Is one better than the other?

-T

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/23/14 3:46 AM as a reply to Teague.
Teague:
It seems like there are two modes to operate in during EQ:
Hard scrutiny
Open Awareness
These both feel effective and I use them.  Is one better than the other?
-T

If you are getting to high EQ I would do choiceless awareness and let the sensations present themselves to you with little noting as possible. Try doing nothing at all and let thoughts/mind get a bit dreamy and take the back seat...they will still operate on their own but there is a different quality that you are looking for that is not identifying with the mind at all. Let stuff just happen and gently notice a different state of deep relaxation...it's impossible to describe the state quality besides kinda just before sleep...if you are used to surfing the awake/sleep border it's kinda like that a bit. Any "doing" does not help. You can only "do" to get to high EQ then let go. See what happens. You might even try reclining a couple times and see if you can relax deeper into it without falling asleep.
Don't underestimate making resolutions to SE before a sit.
Good luck,
~D

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/24/14 2:59 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
I agree with DreamWalker. I just went through EQ recently to what I (and others) suspect was SE, as you know. EQ was really a trickster. I did have to figure out that it was not only okay to "do nothing," but was actually required. So no noting. I just relaxed and let it show up. I often felt like I was slipping into daydream and not meditating well. I had to learn that it wasn't that I needed to change the meditation, but that I had to let the meditation do its inclusive thing to change me. Then I synced up with it.

Also, someone (DW?) gave me the suggestion of making a formal resolution to reach stream entry. The one and only time I did so was the night before SE happened. But I forgot about the resolution during the actual sit that led to cessation. And I think the forgetting is essential, helpful. The SE comes out of left field while you are focused on just watching in the here and now for the here and now--expecially passings away. I was watching those with fixed curiosity, not even remembering stream as a goal, when the discontinuity hit.

Best to you,
Jenny

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/24/14 12:43 PM as a reply to Teague.
Just be,
keep watching,
chill,
dont intellectualize so much!

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/24/14 11:05 PM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
Hey
 
I sat for several hours today and spent most of it doing nothing... or at least trying ;-) .  There were certainly times when I wasn’t drowsy, yet my mind would be kinda dreamy.  As you said Jen, it can seem as though I wasn’t meditating all that well, but I tried to just keep surrendering, yet with awareness.  Definitely feels like a paradoxical zone of practice.
 
In this state I periodically get little rushes of energy in the top of my head or feelings like my mind is contracting.  They have a faint aroma of A&P, but according to the explanation [url=]in this link[url=] they are normal.
 
I sat for quite a while today, and I admit that I was a little bored toward the end.  Or maybe a more accurate statement is that there was boredom present, but I observed it and could remain mostly equanimous toward it.
 
I think I’m on the right track and just need to keep doing more of the same.
 
Thanks for the help,
Teague

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/24/14 11:28 PM as a reply to Teague.
oh, just make sure you are in high EQ..otherwise this is totally crappy advice...strive to the spot you stop striving.
~D

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
8/30/14 8:58 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Because equanimity is relatively pleasant, my life has been relatively pleasant lately.  I remember years ago when I used to go on a hike with my journal, sit on a rock, and write about all my woes and the sufferings of life.  Not anymore.  I can go for a walk in the woods and just sort of flow; not worrying (much) or trying to force myself to enjoy it a certain way.
 
But no matter how much less suffering is present in my life now, it’s not less enough.  And no matter how much equanimity I have, it’s not enough to smother the subtle feeling of “COME ON ALREADY!”
 
Practice is my number one thing in life right now.  I’m fortunate that everything else is going well enough that life is sort of on auto-pilot, leaving my mind to be focused completely on getting stream entry (except for watching the occasional episode of Battlestar Galactica).
 
EQ is certainly a tricky little ñana.  Every other one I how to just power through, but there seems to be no powering-through EQ.  It’s like a coaxing or charming of the mind.  Tricking it into wanting something it doesn’t yet want and hasn’t yet sampled.
 
I use the doing nothing approach, but when nothing begets nothing, I wonder if I’m doing nothing ENOUGH.  Or maybe it’s that I’m DOING nothing, and the DOING is too much.
 
I’ll also wonder if I’ve strived to the point to stop striving, or if a little more striving is necessary, so I’ll occasionally strive some more before doing nothing.
 
It’s like jiggling a key in a sticky lock.  You know it’s the right key and that it’s opened this door before.  All you have to do is just jiggle it in the right way.

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/14/14 9:51 AM as a reply to Teague.
How are things now ?

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/14/14 10:51 AM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
Progressing by small degrees.  I still get into EQ in my sits every day, and what I think of as "high EQ" keeps getting refined and pushed further.  I had an interesting experience yesterday that would be well described as boundless space/consciousness, but I'm not claiming a formless jhana because I still had some subtle analytical thoughts as well as awareness of my body (therefore not formless), but if felt very much as though my sense of self became totally un-localized within my head or body.  It lasted for about 15 minutes.  I observed the state with curiosity but without noticable attachment.

I've been reading material from the Awakening to reality blog, and find Thusness's vipassana instructions of just trying to feel things as clearly as possible without trying to control attention to be helpful in the latter stages of EQ.  I'm finding that bare attention is a learnable skill, and each sit I'm able to "do nothing" more and more, as paradoxical as that statement sounds.

I know that this stage of practice can go on for an indefinite amount of time, but I do feel like I'm pushing my cutting edge a little further each day, so I'm trying to keep myself motivated and patient.  I'm signed up to sit a 30-day in January, but I only want to do it if I haven't gotten SE by then.  

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/22/14 8:20 PM as a reply to Teague.
Motivation is getting slightly harder to maintain – just slightly, but still noticeable. Practicing the dhamma is currently still my priority numero uno, but I have to put in some effort to keep my mind interested. On the cushion, this manifests as my mind wandering more frequently and having to be more diligent about noting it and bringing it back. I think I should read fewer of the debate-oriented posts on here.
 
Having worked my way up to and through EQ so many times now (basically every day for a month or more), I’m beginning to see patterns in EQ that I think must be the sub-ñanas.  I have a hard time describing them, because they’re so ridiculously subtle, but here’s a shot at the broad arc of it.
 
  • The initial shift into EQ ranges from pretty apparent to rather subtle.  Sometimes I’ll have a split mind where one half is attending to sensations and doing vipassana, and the other half is just screwing off.  From what I’ve read this shouldn’t really be possible, but I’ve definitely noticed progressing through the insight stages with a pretty wandery mind.  Sometimes when I notice the split mind and note it to an end, I’ll also note that it seems like I’m in EQ.  At this point I’ll practice vigorously to see if it breaks up into something else or if it refines into more EQ.
  • After some time my mind will get more settled with less wandering, and I let up on vipassana, but still try to control focus to some degree.  I’ll usually fall into a pretty sharp mind state while watching something specific like the breath or my head/chest.
  • This sharp mind state then dissolves and things become really ordinary.  The sense of everything vibrating becomes less pronounced, and feels like experience off the cushion.  It has a very strong feeling of “okay, this sit feels over; time to get up,” and at this point I usually do get up because it’s been an hour or more.  I thought this feeling was just from slacking off on the concentration I just had, but it’s a distinct feeling that comes almost every time, which makes me think it’s symptomatic of some sub-ñana.  
  • Today I kept sitting past that and the mind plunged back down into the vibrating stew of experience, which had a slightly different flavor than before.
 
 
I used to feel things like anticipation and excitement if some batch of sensations gave the impression of something big about to happen.  Those feelings are totally gone now.  It’s almost like you have to become equanimous to equanimity.
 
-T

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/23/14 2:58 AM as a reply to Teague.
Totally awesome breakdown...you got me laughing. Yep yep and yep.
You're lining up the nails and whacking them.
"equanimous to equanimity"...yes exactly....this is where the feeling of just drifting comes in for me...like I don't even care about my EQ anymore. You give up trying to control it and just finally let it do you.

The feeling of sit done totally sux....I still fall for it today....got mine...ho hum now what.....oh wait, I was gonna actually do something while meditating....what was it? oh ya get path...

Keep up the diligence and skill
~D

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/23/14 11:14 AM as a reply to Teague.
This thread has been very useful to me.  Keep posting!

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/23/14 2:28 PM as a reply to Teague.
When I was in this territory I threw nearly every technique I had at it. I experimented constantly with tuning the effort up or down. Though, sticking with my practice was probably the hardest lesson at this stage, and still is when I'm in EQ.

I agree with Jen on not underestimating the power of resolutions. Notice the subtle difference between desire/craving and resolve/will. Try making a strong resolve that resonates with you at the start of every sit. Become absolutely convinced that you'll get SE soon. Then, during your sit, act on that resolve by not wondering about progress. If you're truly convinced SE isn't far away, then there's no need to wonder.

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/23/14 4:17 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
I agree with Jen on not underestimating the power of resolutions. Try making a strong resolve that resonates with you at the start of every sit.
Yep, good advice Droll. Set your intention then fuggitabout it and practice like normal.
Tell your sub-conscious this is what you want. Ask for help from your higher self, buddhas, spirit guides/helpers, whatever has meaning to you. Do some magic. Do some hypnosis. Whatever has the most meaning to you.....then let it go and just practice diligently and with skill, and then let even that go.

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/23/14 6:29 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
From nother thread - http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1978584#_19_message_1973107
Daniel M. Ingram:
Or, one might be high up in Equanimity and yet not be able to land a Fruition. One might ask oneself, "What core process, subtle background or foreground sensations, or other patterns of experience are not yet brought into the clear light in the way I have done for so many objects?" In this way, one sees what one is missing and, having learned to see those objects naturally also, lands it.
I hope this is helpful,

Daniel

RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/23/14 7:00 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
Notice the subtle difference between desire/craving and resolve/will. Try making a strong resolve that resonates with you at the start of every sit. Become absolutely convinced that you'll get SE soon. Then, during your sit, act on that resolve by not wondering about progress. If you're truly convinced SE isn't far away, then there's no need to wonder.

Well said. Perfect. This is exactly how it worked for me, too. I really did just absolutely believe it would come, because I was clearly in High EQ. So craving it was anathema--although I do think during one sit I experienced a near miss because I tensed up around what was coming. Later, I knew it was coming and I didn't worry about when. That is key. I enjoyed just prolonging EQ, staying with it, day after day. I also experienced those periods of boredom in it. But, hey, even those at least aren't the Knowledge of Suffering, so EQ in itself is such a relief--why strain after anything else?



RE: What I do in EQ
Answer
9/23/14 7:06 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Yes, again. For me it was all the sensations that I normally think of as "me" that I wasn't seeing. And then, when I tried to, I grew weary of searching for a self. But as soon as I focused again on exterior objects--BAM, I had a sense of self! This was a key realization for me, and XX put it so well, subsequently--that subject and object create each other.

So good advice to remember--ask yourself what you aren't seeing clearly.

Best to you, Teague. So great to see how well your practice is going!