Working with Fire

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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago.

Working with Fire

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
I'm going to use this thread to record my sessions with the candle flame concentration practice.

My first sit: about an hour. I looked at the flame for as long as I could, then felt the burn, then closed my eyes. I did this three or four times. The first time I was watching the flame's effects (halos, pulsing, that kind of thing), then when I shut my eyes I saw the flame-shaped image, which was small and rather unstable. It took on a variety of colors, most typically deep purple in the middle, with light green and magenta around the edges (in concentric circles). Eventually things grew murky, and I opened my eyes again. I saw what looked like a red dot superimposed on the flame. This time when I closed my eyes I went into deeper concentration. I began to feel the jhana factors, but my visual field remained as before. The third time the majenta lining of the flame-image began to emerge as a dot. But things got murky again. There were bliss and raptures as before.

I don't want to script myself. From time to time I would pay less attention to the visual field and just let myself sink into the jhana. Got to third jhana on the third closed-eyes segment.

I'll try to do this again later this evening and see how things go.
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
Second sit: This time I remembered my timer. So, I sat for an hour. Worked with briefer periods of watching the flame/closing eyes. For the last 10 minutes or so I kept my eyes closed.

There was after looking at the flame for the first time a small, lozenge shaped figure that was a light greenish-yellow with tiny magenta polka dots (I kid you not). That's the image I remember best. I got a single red dot about 20 minutes into the sit, but it seemed more blue-red or magenta than a true red, and it seemed to grow out of the fading of the flame-shaped figure. Then I went through a period when my attention started wavering. There was at one point a variety of colors, even a brown that turned into magenta, but it all took the form of the small figure.

By the last 20 minutes I could feel my attention staying at the periphery rather than the center. I even spent some time looking at the flame in this way (3rd jhana). Made it into fourth by the time the chime went off. By then I hadn't been getting any colors for quite awhile, although I could detect some dull white light flickering in and out at the upper-left edge.
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
50 minute sit. This was some of the deepest, most blissful peace I have ever experienced. I have found that the candle flame is a much better object for me than the breath in terms of settling myself easily and quickly into samadhi. I don't observe as readily my movement through the jhanas, however, because in the beginning of the sit I am focused on colors that are appearing in the visual field. By the time they began to fade into murkiness I was in fourth jhana and stayed there.

The shape of the candle in its holder was clearer upon closing my eyes; it appeared like a photographic negative (I wonder when it will be that people no longer understand what that means). Then I got the lozenge-shaped object (which I erroneously reported as majenta with yellow/green polka dots--it was the opposite!). I began the sit by opening my eyes to refocus on the flame itself, then as the sit wore on I just kept them closed. The play of colors in the field of vision was oftentimes beautiful, rich deep purples, blues, magenta (this last seems to be a favorite). I do have a question: when exactly did the red dot appear, and how clear was it? I should probably go back and listen again.

I have to wonder how and why this practice is different from other concentration objects. I also must confess that so far I haven't had any goddesses or dragons. I have, however, been loving the way this all feels.
Alexander Rice, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 36 Join Date: 2/20/15 Recent Posts
In my more successful sits I've:

-- Used the glowing tip of the wick as a steady point to rest my attention. If I look directly at the flame it seems to be harder to zone out.
-- Put the candle on the floor about 1m away. Too close and the flame's at a wierd angle, too far and it's too high in my visual field.
-- Used a darkened room. This seems to help with getting a 'ghostly' image of the candle that floats with no background stuff. 
-- Allowed my eyelids to droop after a while so that the image of the candle is partially obscured. This makes my brain jump to the more detailed memory rather than the less detailed visual image.

What have you found as being important in getting it to work?
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
Alexander: I find that the things you describe work for me as well. I have darkened the room, and also I will sometimes lower the eyelids gradually rather than all at once. 

Jenny, your red dot and mine may not be the same thing. I got mine pretty quickly tonight. I've wondered whether it may not be the real deal, just another color manifesting. It wasn't as bright as it was two nights ago. I have to admit, tonight was a bummer because I got more distracted than I'd gotten over the weekend. I started planning my day for tomorrow, etc. Damned working for a living! 
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Jenny, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Laurel,

I've been so busy that I've not listened to much of the Florian-Daniel-Duncan recording yet. I will try to tonight. Among other things, I'm trying to figure out if that red dot is "required," hahaha.

The past few nights of doing this practice, I never got the clear red dot I did months ago, even though I'm in a path "honeymoon" Review phase right now and my concentration seems especially strong. I'm just getting ice-blue color that spreads throughout my "visual" field. I did two hours last night, and I could open my eyes and see something of a pale blue tint (except where the flame itself was orange).

The night before last, same blue color and I quickly got some cool "visions" with my eyes closed--leaves sinking underwater, purple jellyfish, a bunch of fluidly shifting underwater images.

But last night I couldn't get any of this, just distortions of the oil lamp itself--all reflecting the particular jhana I was in, which I learned some things from (like the fact that my body can "disappear" even in second jhana). When I closed my eyes, I got very little of anythign at all for an hour and a half. But the weirdest thing is that as soon as I blew out the flame and "gave up," meaning to sit the final 30 minutes in "regular" samatha boundless realms, some really wild visions started up and didn't stop until I stopped the session a half hour later.

So I have no idea if I'm on task or off! I'm going to try to listen now to the recording.
Daniel F Gurzynski, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 23 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Jenny]Laurel,

Sorry to butt in to the conversation late but I would like to know about the Florian-Duncan-Daniel recording that you refer to? What does it refer to and where would one be able to find it?
Thanks very much.

____________________________________________________________________

I've been so busy that I've not listened to much of the Florian-Daniel-Duncan recording yet. I will try to tonight. Among other things, I'm trying to figure out if that red dot is "required," hahaha.

The past few nights of doing this practice, I never got the clear red dot I did months ago, even though I'm in a path "honeymoon" Review phase right now and my concentration seems especially strong. I'm just getting ice-blue color that spreads throughout my "visual" field. I did two hours last night, and I could open my eyes and see something of a pale blue tint (except where the flame itself was orange).

The night before last, same blue color and I quickly got some cool "visions" with my eyes closed--leaves sinking underwater, purple jellyfish, a bunch of fluidly shifting underwater images.

But last night I couldn't get any of this, just distortions of the oil lamp itself--all reflecting the particular jhana I was in, which I learned some things from (like the fact that my body can "disappear" even in second jhana). When I closed my eyes, I got very little of anythign at all for an hour and a half. But the weirdest thing is that as soon as I blew out the flame and "gave up," meaning to sit the final 30 minutes in "regular" samatha boundless realms, some really wild visions started up and didn't stop until I stopped the session a half hour later.

So I have no idea if I'm on task or off! I'm going to try to listen now to the recording.
Gareth, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 17 Join Date: 3/2/15 Recent Posts
I found something on Duncan's blog as well, same recordings I presume...
http://oeith.co.uk/2015/03/04/the-powers-retreat-at-the-tower-of-hallbar/
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tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
Hi Laurel,
great thread.  i've been doing this too although less publicly.  i have been using some of the descriptions of daniel and florian to guage the stages, red dot, blackened dot, spinning star, background images....anything like this rising in your sits.

tom
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
I had a sit tonight (yesterday I didn't manage it). I have the red dot and the darkened dot. After that things get murky. I didn't see the lozenge-shaped figure for more than a brief moment. Also, I got rather hazy in my concentration. By the time I was done there'd been some dozing off, I'm afraid. It was the end of a rather long day. 

About the "burn": it sounds worse than it is. For me, it just means that my eyes get fatigued and start to sting a bit. 

BTW, anyone else out there who is doing this and wants to comment on how things are going without starting another thread, feel free to comment on this one. 
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Elizabeth P, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 75 Join Date: 5/10/14 Recent Posts
 
I’ve been wanting to try this and finally got a chance  Two 30 min sits.
 
I get the red dot. It is small but surprisingly vivid. Sometimes it seems more like a red spinning sphere with color variation (sometime reds, occasionally flecks of yellow) There is another color around of the red dot sphere sometimes this is very hard for me to pin down but sometimes it is green. The border of the red seems to shift to black with the red condensing into the center until only black remains. Often at this point  the dot gets very irregular sort of a shifting rotating geometric star like but not a star.  A couple of times this became distinctly dark blue inside a much larger lavender pattern... Lovely.
 
Definitely calm, pleasurable,  jhana like impression.
 
Logistics; beeswax taper,  light in room (daylight x1, other light x1)  Sitting in chair - candle on table about 2 ft away.. 
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
Thanks to people who are posting. I haven't posted because I haven't been keeping up, and I haven't been keeping up because I'm too tired. And I know that sounds like a feeble excuse. Only, the thought of staring at a flame when my eyes hurt and I'm just on the verge of getting a headache is daunting. I just don't want to make things worse. Anyone have any advice? I suppose I could just do an easygoing  choiceless awareness sit instead, but then I lose momentum with the concentration practice. Which I'm allowing to happen by not sitting, of course. 

Anyway, though, has anyone soldiered on with this type of practice in the face of being dog tired? 
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Jenny, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Laurel Carrington:
Thanks to people who are posting. I haven't posted because I haven't been keeping up, and I haven't been keeping up because I'm too tired. And I know that sounds like a feeble excuse. Only, the thought of staring at a flame when my eyes hurt and I'm just on the verge of getting a headache is daunting. I just don't want to make things worse. Anyone have any advice? I suppose I could just do an easygoing  choiceless awareness sit instead, but then I lose momentum with the concentration practice. Which I'm allowing to happen by not sitting, of course. 

Anyway, though, has anyone soldiered on with this type of practice in the face of being dog tired? 

Hi, Laurel. Well, be nice to yourself, of course. I think this practice is particularly demanding to me, too, because I'm not used to it. I have an intense migraine condition, so I'm sometimes concerned that I'm setting about to induce migraine attacks by staring into light until my brain goes whacky! 

One way in which this practice is hard is that I find it taxing after a while to keep with the visual focus rather than sinking back into the bodily bliss and the silky breath, because ooooo those feel so seductively good. I learned a lot from this, too. Even when the body seems to have "disappeared," I'm still somehow identifying with my body over against the distant flame. This surprised me because with this lastest path I've had a walking-around shift in perception whereby awareness does seem substantially gone over to be with the "objects" in play, leaving nothing over here while those are in play. But this jhana sit showed me that I still habitually prefer to be "over here" even when there is no body! So I'm still identifying with a placeholder here at center somehow! Very interesting!

So, if tired, maybe do a short regular samatha practice until you feel rested. I may do that myself tonight unless I get a nap! 

Maybe take a brief break to use some lubricating eye drops like Systane (or however it is spelled).
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Laurel Carrington, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 439 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
Thanks, Jenny, and also to people who have sent messages. I managed to sit twice today, an hour each time. The sits were so different! The first was blissful, while the second involved a lot of energetic stuff, most of it unpleasant. I suppose there are blockages that are being addressed.

I also took another listen to the first audio. Now that I've reviewed that, I see that things are progressing similarly to what the three of them are describing. I'm not getting a whole lot further than the murky stuff that follows the appearance of the red dot (which to me begins life as a lozenge, but whatever). Today, in fact, the nimitta themselves weren't as vivid as they were the first couple of tries. So I'm getting used to thinking in terms of the long haul here.

I will add one thing, which is that once the more defined figure subsides, I develop a more panoramic focus. This can feel dreamlike, so the evening I found myself feeling like I was falling asleep wasn't just a function of fatigue.
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Elizabeth P, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 75 Join Date: 5/10/14 Recent Posts
I’ve continued to work with this intermittently.  I can get past the red then black dot to the murky place and sometimes a bit further.
 
Re-listening to the audios was helpful.  The comments about sinking and third jhana helped.  As I really sink/ drift “downwards” and get to a very 3rd jhana underwater like feeling there is a place with threads or small specks of color.  The threads seem more vibrant and colorful - the specks seem more washed out.  I’ve also gotten to a place with much larger washes or splotches of color that moved -  though not precisely with the breath. 
 
The two color spaces feel fairly similar in terms “underwater bliss”.  But there seems to be something  different I can’t quite pin down yet. Almost as if I am focusing my eyes very close in for the threads and looking at something further away for the washes. But not exactly and only sometimes…  Also how much color and what form it takes is not dependable or predictable at this point.  
 
So definitely a long term exploration especially at low dose.
Gareth, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 17 Join Date: 3/2/15 Recent Posts
Elizabeth P:
Re-listening to the audios was helpful.
May I ask what audio is being talked about?
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Elizabeth P, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 75 Join Date: 5/10/14 Recent Posts
The experiences I have of first and third jhanas using the fire kasina seem different than when I use the breath as an object.
 
With the breath, the progression  to third is 1st, 2nd, 3rd jhana and with all three the sensation is full body. I am aware of my body and the pleasurable feeling fills it. That is somewhat more vague for 3rd than 1st and 2nd but still a full body effect. 
 
With the fire kasina the progression is more like 1st jhana, dissolution nana, 3rd jhana. And I am much less aware of my body. I feel it but much more of my focus and attention is on the visual field.
 
Has anyone else noticed something like this? These descriptions are fairly tentative at this point. The words or descriptions for the felt difference are elusive so I will keep working with both for a while - and perhaps trying other variations.
 
One other thing I noticed. When I was dealing with a cold (congenstion, coughing,…) a couple of weeks ago the fire kasina remained easy to work with but breath was pretty futile.
 
 
 
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Steph S, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 647 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Hi Laurel,

I also get the red dot really quickly... it actually starts off as more magenta with a whitish center and then slowly turns very red with a blueish green and a yellow ring around it.  It also sometimes has a purple field around it and I think that's just the after image of the candle holder.  I'm using a tea light right now, but am looking into getting an oil lamp because it seems like it would last longer and be less messy than candles.  The murky stuff is greyish and then can take on a brown tone.  After that I will sometimes get flashes of imagery that are really quick.  By this time my focus is incredibly panoramic and I barely have any sense that body or mind or there.. it's very peaceful and getting stiller the more I practice it.  Even after the red dot has disappeared, that stillness remains and it feels like things are balanced and from there I will sometimes get washes of color.  No dragons or goddesses yet for me either.  haha. I might have to listen to the audio again because I remember one of the guys saying they took a few days or so to figure out what to do when the murky aspects appear.

Steph
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Jenny, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
Nice, Laurel. Your thread has inspired me to pick this up again. I practiced it only 4 or 5 times months ago. I would get a clear, bright, small red dot about 30 minutes in. Then I had some, hrmm, strange things happen and stopped. But I'm up for this again.

I felt that the afterglow from the candle flame (I use a fancy oil lamp from my altar) was intense and long-lasting. And time passes quickly--I don't know if 12 hours of it would pass quickly, but 1 does.
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Eric B, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Working with Fire

Posts: 186 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Laurel Carrington:
... I looked at the flame for as long as I could, then felt the burn, then closed my eyes...
Laurel,

I haven't tried this yet.  When you say you "felt the burn", do you mean you reached the pont of visual exhaustion that necessitated closing your eyes?

Great stuff;I look forward to reading about your further explorations.

Eric

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