Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

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Bronson Michael Miller, modified 7 Years ago.

Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/2/14 Recent Posts
Hello! 

My name is Bronson. I live in a super mormon town in Utah and it is very hard to find anybody that knows anything about meditation anywhere near me. I am really trying to figure out if I've already entered the insight cycle or crossed the A&P.

I've only started meditating recently (half a year or so) and only doing concentration type meditation for the most part put I read the MCTB a couple times and there were some things that got me thinking. So here's a brief summary of noteworthy events in my life:

age 13: Did mushrooms with my mom.

age 16: Taking a nap then I wake up and look around only to realize that I'm not in my body so I try really hard to wake up but then I just feel like I'm sinking into the couch and I get sleep peralisis and get really scared for a few minutes until I wake up and look around at the room exactly as it was while "sleeping".

25: I've always had VERY vivid dreams and been fascinated with them but when I was 25 I started reading about astral projection and was intrigued and in order to prove to myself that it's bogas I practiced every night for an hour or two before bed. This leads to a few times where I'm not sure if I was OBEing or just dreaming but would dream shortly after but the main thing was that I started having lucid dreams every single night for what seemed like all night. I eventually got so good at them that I could control everything from lighting, flying, breathing under water, going to places I knew, seeing people I knew, walking through walls etc but then I started to get confused when awake. I could never tell if I was asleep or awake and a lot of my dreams seemed to come true so it was like a constant dream/deja vu state and it freaked me out. I felt like I was losing my mind so I stopped the thing altogether and Immediately afterwards started using drugs pretty heavily and got suicidally depressed.

28: Started meditating. Read MCTB and noticed these stages in my life that seem Bi-polar like may be A&P/Dark Night. Became fascinated with this whole concept but afraid to start it because if I haven't reached A&P yet I'd like to start AFTER I become more stable. I start Samadhi practice and then last week I did a ten day Goenka retreat. The only notable thing that happened was a couple times it was like life was a strobe light flickering several times per second and once I felt a strong pressure between my eyebrows and my nerves all up and down my body felt electric and started making tiny parts twitch and release wierd tensions.

Now: I feel like I may already be in the cycle and if so I really want to practice noting but if not I'll just work on concentration for now.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!!

Other minor questions: I don't notice any changes in meditation other than sometimes I can sit for an hour without moving and sometimes ten minutes is really hard but my life definately goes through stages where I'm really upbeat and happy then very depressed/use drugs and sometimes I just decide to move to a new city or country for a while. Is this just because I'm wierd or maybe part of the cycle?

Should I practice concentration for a while anyway to get it stronger? And what's the best way to do this? right now I just focus on my breath and follow it from the bottom to the top and watch the pauses. Staying with it the whole time and trying to get the "gap" to increase between thoughts.

Thanks very much!! Again I have no acccess to any real people in this town so I appreciate it more than I can express!!
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Bronson Michael Miller, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/2/14 Recent Posts
I want to know if I've already started but I can't tell. I don't really notice the different vibrations in different stages. The only thing I notice is that sometimes I'm really energetic and outgoing for a while and then I have a bunch of crazy astrol projection type lucid dreams and then I'm depressed for long period of time but maybe that's just how I am?
Albin Hagberg Medin, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/24/13 Recent Posts
Bronson Michael Miller:
I want to know if I've already started but I can't tell. I don't really notice the different vibrations in different stages. The only thing I notice is that sometimes I'm really energetic and outgoing for a while and then I have a bunch of crazy astrol projection type lucid dreams and then I'm depressed for long period of time but maybe that's just how I am?
Greetings Michael

I cannot give you any advice regarding cycles, A&P and any other terminology used here on the site, but I can however give you a personal advice regarding your last sentence: "Maybe that's just how I am". 

I humbly and whole-heartedly recommend you to inquiry into this idea, the idea that you are a something, and that something causes lucid dreams and periods with high energy followed by depressions. 

Another suggestion could be that complex patterns of evaluations, of thoughts, of expectations and defence mechanisms aquired and formed through birth and growing up in a world not always loving and friendly, has something to do with these periods of ups and downs in your life. That they are nestled in this seemingly causal web of why things happen.

I also would say that the quote about "best not to begin" only holds true if your world view is latched onto the idea that life is a race towards something at a certain velocity and once you enter this race this idea of yourself, have to get going on the race until the end. This something could be an experience, a distinct way of experiencing the world, a different perception, etc. 

I shared similar worries regarding the "best not to begin" after having experienced certain phases of dissolution, of disenchantment and in hindsight these worries for me were emotions of fear latched onto an idea, nothing more or less and as the fear naturally dissolved, so did the idea. 

Wish you all the best on your path, whatever it might take you :-)
Rist Ei, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
"gap" between thoughts is mind dharma door, imho it has to be realized not longed or widened, to be able to dwell in there and you will notice you can dwell in there and think at the same time.
"gap" basically is You, try to be it. letting go of whatever there is or try to make your precision strong(try everything you can). Basically what holding you back is the remains of your wrong attention or take to the reality.

the gap between thoughts is same as the gaps between sounds you hear or feelings you feel, breaths. 

looking at the gap is same as you would looking at the mirror. Tho it is useful for examining myself.
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

Posts: 393 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Interesting post!  I have heard lucid dreaming can have dangers, interesting to hear about your experience.

I like that quote, 'Best not to begin, but once you have begun, better to finish'  Here's a quote about it I saw the other day:

"The spiritual path is not fun - better not begin it. If you must begin, then go all the way, because if you begin and quit, the unfinished business you have left behind begins to haunt you all the time. The path, as Suzuki Roshi mentions in 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind,' is like getting on to a train that you cannot get off; you ride it on and on and on." - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

That seems to sum it up pretty well; once you start looking at your problems of perception, start focusing on the way your mind is tricky and out of control, you start to notice it more and more, and it starts look like an issue.  The fact is the only way you will get anywhere on the path is if you truly want to change your mind badly enough that you force yourself to put in the hard effort it takes to make progress.  If your mind's not a problem, you probably won't get anywhere because you have no reason to practice.  If you do get somewhere, it's very likely because your mind was such a problem it forced you to take action.  The path is unpleasant, and you don't undertake it without a reason.  If you feel driven to meditate to improve your mind because you want out, you're on the ride as I see it.

As for being in the cycles; what you should do to determine that is go read the chapter in Mastering the Core Teaching's of the Buddha where it talks about cycles and the stages of insight, and see how they resonates with you.  If it does truly resonate with you, then trust yourself, you are probably somewhere on the map.

Mediation wise, stick with what you know and feels good.  If you took a Goenka course it seems you have a prety solid foundation in training, so go with it unless you really feel otherwise.  Personally I would say don't worry too much about concentration specifically; practicing vipassina/noticing sensations will naturally improve your concentration.  The key thing is to practice consistently.  Maintain the continuity of mindfullness; that's how you build up steam.
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Bronson Michael Miller, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/2/14 Recent Posts
Thank you for your replies! I appreciate it! If I could just ask... how do you percieve the different vibrations of different stages? I can feel my whole body tingling and when I get really concentrated sometimes it feels like certain parts dissolve and dissapear but I don't ever sence vibrations.

Also for anybody that does Samadhi practice how long does it usually take to get to say the second Jhana if you practice 1.5 - 2 hours per day?

Thanks again!
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Teague, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Best not to begin.... But have I already begun? (Answer)

Posts: 104 Join Date: 8/1/11 Recent Posts
Tingling is the vibrations and vice versa.  At a gross level they may feel like pinpricks, like a shiver going up your spine.  But other times, like in A&P and equanimity, they can get much more subtle and they become more obviously vibrations.  Eventually when you get the hang of it you can look at pretty much any sensation any time and feel it vibrating away.  You kinda learn what to look for, and having taken a Goenka course, then this is what he means by Anicca.  When something vibrates, it's changing.  Also what you saw in your mind's eye, the light flashing, I would call that vibrations too and it can either be fast or slow.  

From your descriptions, I'd say you've crossed the A&P, but as someone suggested, reread the stages of insight section and see what clicks.

Another thing you can look for: when your feeling depressed and try to meditate, what is your meditation like?  Do things seem foggy and really hard to apprehend.  Like you try to observe your leg (or any part), but it somehow resists being observed, or your mind won't grasp it?  Or does the "flow" of your meditation feel choppy or edgy, or do you get drowsy quickly when you weren't tired before?

Good luck,
T
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Bronson Michael Miller, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/2/14 Recent Posts
Yeah when I got back from that Goenka course a couple weeks ago after the lights in my minds eye on the last day I had tons of crazy astrol projection type lucid dreams and then I became depressed again and it was really hard to even get to the cushion but when I did there were a lot of places that I was able to perceive subtle sensations before that I couldn't feel anymore and after like 15 minutes I was sure it'd been 45 and I couldn't focus so I would just give up every time lol.
x x, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Best not to begin.... But have I already begun?

Posts: 122 Join Date: 8/18/13 Recent Posts
I tend to think that there is a psychological version of cycling that is very similar to meditation cycling. Similar dynamic of effort, wild experience, and crash. In extreme forms it's easy to simply say: bipolar or manic depression. But for the rest of humanity, most people seem to be in an in less volitile state of this kind of ambition-crash cycle. Not quite meditation related, more like "introspection" related.

That said, it does seem like you're on the ride. Or at least that meditation seems like good medicine for you right now. Don't make it into a big holy deal, just add a regular sitting practice. Probably the most simple practice of sitting and letting your mind bubble away and noticing it is all that is needed right now.  

If it seems like meditation is useful to you, find a good teacher. You can get some good benefits from simple mindfulness practice, but if the drive is to push on, have someone you can check in with. Seems like you have the more "wild" versions of these experiences, so having a teacher (and normal support in life) will help a lot. Working with a teacher is the most painless way to go.

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