Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

Benoit's practice log

Toggle
Benoit's practice log Ben V. 12/13/16 10:42 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Jack Hatfield 3/4/15 8:05 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 3/4/15 9:03 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 4/28/15 8:16 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/4/15 4:50 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 7/12/15 12:25 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 8/30/15 7:59 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 8/30/15 8:07 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 9/5/15 7:49 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Jack Hatfield 9/6/15 7:17 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 9/6/15 11:09 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Jack Hatfield 9/10/15 11:45 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 10/15/15 7:51 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 4/15/16 8:44 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/10/16 4:48 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 1/4/17 7:04 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 5/6/17 7:45 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 5/6/17 9:23 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 5/6/17 3:53 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Jack Hatfield 5/9/17 7:30 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 5/10/17 5:46 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/9/17 8:57 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 6/10/17 5:48 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/10/17 6:58 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 6/10/17 7:45 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/11/17 7:42 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 6/12/17 10:48 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/12/17 8:35 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 12/17/17 8:48 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Noah D 12/17/17 12:06 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 12/17/17 5:46 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 12/17/17 6:31 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Noah D 12/18/17 7:43 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log alguidar 12/18/17 10:45 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 12/19/17 9:18 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Noah D 12/21/17 8:13 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 12/21/17 10:08 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 1/8/18 7:23 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 1/9/18 11:39 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 1/9/18 7:03 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 2/22/18 7:42 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 2/22/18 8:59 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/23/18 8:11 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/24/18 6:40 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 6/24/18 7:27 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/27/18 10:48 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 7/1/18 2:22 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 7/1/18 6:45 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 7/1/18 7:11 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 9/6/18 10:38 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 9/6/18 3:11 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 9/6/18 7:38 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/6/19 7:02 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 6/6/19 12:08 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 6/6/19 12:04 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/7/19 5:05 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/8/19 8:32 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 6/9/19 5:24 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log rik 9/6/18 7:49 PM
RE: Benoit's practice log shargrol 9/7/18 6:06 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log rik 9/7/18 9:18 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log alguidar 9/7/18 10:09 AM
RE: Benoit's practice log Ben V. 9/8/18 7:39 AM
Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/13/16 10:42 AM
Hi everyone. I'm new here and I decided to first post on the practice logs thread as it seems a very effective way to interract on such site where we are all dedicated to awakening in this life and support each other along the way.

For a little intro into my practice path:
I began practicing in 1998, through local Buddhist groups. From 1999 to 2000 I was in the Goenka tradition but switched to the Mahasi style in 2000. My honeymoon with this lineage is still going on! I feel also inspired by the lesser known lineage, outside of Burma at least, of Mogok Sayadaw. The first teacher I met in Mahasi system was the late Sayadaw U Silananda. The one talk he gave in 2000 where I was was enough to make me devoted to that lineage. Most of my intensive retreats in the past (around 10 or more) were with Sayadaw Khippapanno and U Aggasami from this same lineage. They were and still are very helpful but I see them only once a year, if I'm lucky! Recently, being inspired by a friend who made impressive progress with the help of Kenneth Folk, I began having sessions with that teacher. I've read his book draft "Contemplative Fitness" and also Daniel Ingram's MCTB. These books are a breath of fresh air on the Western Buddhist scene! They gave me a boost of inspiration to work toward awakening.

Practice log.
I practice anapanasati, focusing on the touch sensations of the breath at the nostril area and bellow, noting the sensations and everything that arises predominantly at the six sense doors. I usually feel, unless very tired, a rather quick settling into a sense of bodily stillness that can last up to an hour or more, with very little movements of the body.
Things I note: Coolness (on an inbreath as the breath feels cool), touching or softness (on an out-breath as it feels this way). Sometimes the out-breath feels like a series of to to three of four quick successive touching sensations. Often feel quick vibrations under the nose.
Other objects: stillness, hearing, subtle anxiety, sensing (all types of body sensations such as stabbing, itching, etc), thinking, imaging thought, fear, focusing, sleepy, discouraged (usually during my annual four days retreat when I get stucked in mental and physical fatigue), desire (for progress or awakening), sense desire, smelling, intending, tightness, tranquilizing/relaxing, hoping (for awakening), urgency (to get awakened), disappointed (that not yet awakened), recollecting (a stream of thoughts that just went unnoticed), heat, cold, gathering (saliva), swallowing, happy, Dhamma thoughts.

Well, that's it for now. Metta and gratitude to all on this website.

Ben

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
3/4/15 8:05 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Hi, Benoit. Great to see you over here.

Jack

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
3/4/15 9:03 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
Hi Jack it's nice to see you again! What a surprise! :-)

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
4/28/15 8:16 PM as a reply to Ben V..
I've experimented with something a bit new lately, that I discovered, and I thought I'd share. It is a labeling exercise that helps with mind contemplation, cittanupassana. More precisely, it is to see the activity of focusing on an object. When we focus on an object, there is the object and the mind noting the object. This exercise helps see that. Basically, I use the same label over and over again for the duration of the entire exercise. The label is: "Focusing on this."

So when I focus on an in-breath I note "Focusing on this." When focusing on the out-breath, it is a new activity (not the same mind that arises but a new mind. I note "focusing on this." If an ich arises and the mind goes to it, "focusing on this." If an emotion arises and the mind goes to it, "focusing on this." Back to the breath, "focusing on this."


When objects start to manifest more quickly one after another, I simply start using the note "focusing".


Basically this exercise is meant to start to see the activity of the mind itself during meditation. I've had glimpses of how quickly one mintal state is replaced by another using this method. I also find it keeps the mind busy so there is little room for mind wandering.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/4/15 4:50 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Something subtly different than before occured last night in my sitting. The vibrations and rapid pulses I feel at the spot under the nose were matched with vibrations in my hands. In other words occuring in the hands as well. It is not the first time I feel tingling sensations in the hands as I meditate, but this time it was more pronounced. Before the tingling sensations were diffused and subtle. Now I could see more clearly the "poping in and out of existence" of individual sensations in the hands. So before there could be tingling sensations in the hands but no clear sense of each individual sensations passing away before other sensations arose.
Also, bubble-like sensations suddenly erupting on the side of the face, though this is something I've often experienced before.
On next June 21st I will go into a 7-days solitary meditation retreat in my home basement, meditating around 10 hours per day. I'll try to include a one-on-one session with Kenneth Folk, and a few back and forth noting with a Dhamma friend on Skype. I might record some log entries here during the retreat.
Metta,

Benoit

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
7/12/15 12:25 PM as a reply to Ben V..
I've had a seven-day solitary retreat a few weeks ago and posted some of its aspects in the section "Diagnostic Clinic".
This entry is for my sitting this morning, which was a one hour sitting. I entered a state in which I could perceive a deep and spacious stillness within. Actually, spacious in the sense that it seemed to expand outside of my body as well. And I had the ability to quickly perceive subtle mental phenomena arising, such as reflections on my practice, expectations of awakening, intentions, etc. But also, curiously, I got to a point where it's as if the stillness co-existed with mental noise (thoughts arising). So there was mental activities of wandering thoughts, and I could also feel the stillness.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
8/30/15 7:59 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Following are a re-transcript of parts of a thread of my in Diagnostic Clinic which I'm re-copying here:



2. A reccurent experience since practicing vipassana has been during sleep. I'm lying on my back and asleep yet fully aware of intense rushing vibrations all over the body, shooting at different places in the body with furious force. Yet I am very mindful of these vibrations. I purposely apply mindfulness continuously to them and maintain equanimity. The vibrations are not blissful at all like it is often described in A&P. What is strange and difficult to explain is that all this happens while I sleep.

3. I reccurently dream that I'm meditating but it is hard to keep stability in my body while meditating. My body keeps slipping off the cushion or falling on the side. Sometimes in the dream people come and bother me. Other times I just have an intense desire to meditate in the dream. I'm also a psychoanalytic therapist in training as well as studying Jung so dream stuff has an appeal to me personally.

4. During formal meditation practice (I'm just fresh out of a retreat  now so this is fresh stuff) I would at times have areas in my body (most often the facial area) where quick champain bubble-like sensations would be felt, or sometimes quite intense vibrations in the face (different than the champain bubbles due to the rapidity of it). The curious thing is that these experiences occur mostly in the face, with only an occasional jab of one rapid sensation elsewhere in the body. No bliss but quite concentrated. Even more curious is that these experiences can co-exist with solid pains elsewhere in the body. It's as if third nana stuff are co-exixting with higher ones. It's not clear-cut. Now that I'm writing this I'm thinking perhaps next time I should pay more attention to see if they really co-exist or rather alternate.

5. This one is quite subtle and more rare. I've succeeded to attain it spontaneously though after applying an instruction from Kenneth in this retreat: making my awareness more panoramic instead of localised. I would feel a stillness in my mind. And when objects would arrise I would perceive a subtle intention to "leap" toward them, as if the mind wants to go out and mingle with them, but not letting it do that. So the lleaps would be stopped in their track. I simultaneously feel like I (not even sure if it"s "I" really) don't want to let the mind leap towards objects. In other words, the mind becomes inclined toward stopping to leap toward objects. There can still be pains in the body while this happens. And concentration, though getting deeper here, can still break apart so it's not rock solid.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
8/30/15 8:07 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Another thing that occured in that retreat, in one of the last days, is I felt a mounting pressure behind my nose which rose upward toward the head, to finally dissolve into wave-like sensations accross the foreheadand and side of the forehead. It then stoped and I was then strangely and suddenly "afraid" that some sudden "chakra/kundalini-like" experience would burst through the top of my head, but it didn't. I'm not into reading of paying attention to chakra or kundalini stuff and know little about those topics, but suddenly I was "concerned" about those.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/5/15 7:49 AM as a reply to Ben V..
I was going to write a new experience but first, I just realized reading point 5 in one of my posts above in this thread that it misses some elements. I said when I get in this state the mind loses interest in leaping toward objects. This is not a false description. But what it really feels like is that the mind loses interet in creating anything. Not sure if this makes sense to any reader, but that's the best way I can describe it. Not only does it lose interest in creating anything, there is a feeling of interest in falling into a void where there are no arising objects. It's as if there are objects (mind and body phenomena), but the mind is interested in the void in between each arising.
The longer I'm away from my last retreat, the least often this state manifests though. Nevertheless, a new experience for me lately, which happened only twice, is a feeling of quick flashes in my "third eye" area, between the brows. It's as if a light was swithched on and off very quickly. But when it happened I wondered if it was only the light of the candles in the room in front of me that was doing this. Not sure.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/6/15 7:17 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Ben V.:
I was going to write a new experience but first, I just realized reading point 5 in one of my posts above in this thread that it misses some elements. I said when I get in this state the mind loses interest in leaping toward objects. This is not a false description. But what it really feels like is that the mind loses interet in creating anything. Not sure if this makes sense to any reader,
=======
Benoit, it makes sense to me. Sometimes my mind is still and passive and phenomena just appear without the mind doing anything. Contrast this with another state where my mind reaches out to touch phenomena.

Here are some exercises I do with this. I notice which is in the forefront either the stillness or the phenomena. I also notice when they merge, both stillness and phenomena exist in the same plane. Usually I am just passively noticing but at other times I might nudge my attention to one or the other. I might bring the stillness to the forefront and then switch and bring phenomena to the forefront. Then both together. I also try and notice the difference (if any) between the stillness and phenomena.

For me, this is important stuff.

jack

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/6/15 11:09 AM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
Thanks Jack. The exercise you describe makes me realize the stillness is just another phenomena to disembed from!

Benoit

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/10/15 11:45 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Right. I also find that iit is easy to concretize stillness, something to avoid.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
10/15/15 7:51 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
For the last few weeks I've noticed a curious strong but pleasant heat sensation that arises in my left hand (mostly left thumb) when I meditate. When I inspect/note/observe it, it slowly vanishes. The bubbling sensations that arise in my face are becoming a daily experience, even when I don't meditate. I can be just listening to someone attentively and the bubbling sensations will start popping up in my face. I've also noticed a correlation between the way I pay attention and the appearance of the bubbling sensations. If I direct my attention to any one sensation, that itself can provoke the bubbling sensations to arise. Just writing about this, bubbling sensations arise in my face right now.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
4/15/16 8:44 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Something new, somewhat, has happened in my meditation today. First, I've increased my daily meditation: 30 to 45 minutes sit in the morning and 30 minutes during lunch hour at work. The following happened today in my lunch hour meditation.
I was observing, noting, sensations at the anapana spot. Pulses coming and going, in addition to the touch sensations of the breath coming in and out. I was quite concentrated, so present that I was not expecting the next breath. When the next breath would come it would "surprise" me. As I was watching all these sensations I became interested in watching the "observer". For a few successive moments I saw how each act of "observing" quickly vanished with the sensation it "observed."  I put the word "observe" between brakets for the following reason. I had the reflection that the act of observing was not really an act of awareness. It was just another thought that thinks it is aware of an object.
In any case, after a very few moments of watching the "observing" thoughts, a huge flash of blue light appeared then disappeared quickly, at the level between my brows, with eyes closed.

I got puzzled after this. Anyways, I tried to reproduce the experience by looking for the "observer" again. What I got then is a few flickers at the level of the "third eye" again, between the brows.

I also got overly excited about it and this sort of spoiled the experience. Another unexpected spoiler was a sudden thought of past misdeeds and the feeling of "who the hell do you think you are thinking you can gain awakening with those misdeeds you've done?" Now I can already hear the "make those so-called spoilers experiences to objectify and disembed from", which is what I plan to do :-)

The quick shakings/flickers behind the "third eye" is not new but the blue light was.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/10/16 4:48 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Just finished a seven-day intensive practice at home, putting 8 to 9 hours of meditation per day. Most of the sits was dealing with physical pain, which I see as related to the simple fact of long sittings (one hour) without changing posture. Throughout the retreat I got many occasional moments where I would feel rapid vibrations in the face or somewhat inside/behind the face. On the sixth day I sat in my bed in meditation, and I barely had the time to bring my attention to the anapana spot (under my nose) before I experienced rapid and continuous wave-like changes all over my face, which eventually spread inside my head. It was as if my face and inside my skull were massaged by these wave-like continuous sensations. I've had similar experiences before but not that long lasting and as clear as this time. For the seventh day, this did not occur again. More like a regular day just trying to be mindful during meditation.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
1/4/17 7:04 PM as a reply to Ben V..
I haven't posted in a while. What's new in meditation land is frequently I experience pulses inside my head, sometimes behind the two brows and more often deeper inside toward my crown. Sometimes the pulses are very rapid. Kind of like a light bulb that's about to die and it lights on and off real fast. This usually happens when I'm quite concentrated, and focus on subtle mental phenomena. 

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
5/6/17 7:45 AM as a reply to Ben V..
The pulses inside my head is becoming a daily occurence in my meditation. It usually happens when there's a lot of stillness. Sometimes it's very fast and, for lack of better word, "violent". Kind of like a loose window shaking violently when strong winds strike against it. Or like the noise and feel of a misaligned bicycle chain that keeps almost falling off the teeth of the apparatus (don't know how it's called) on which it is placed while trying to drive the bicycle, except in fastforward mode. These "violent" vibrations usually last barely a second. They can come a few times in a sit, usually early in the sit. My mind is quite ok with these vibrations.

Sometimes they can happen as I focus on the touch sensations of the breath bellow the nostrils. It's as if the sensation provokes a series or river of sensations, starting under the nose and reaching behind the forehead. 

After these there will usually be a period of stillness in which there is a combination of curiosity about the "observer" or rather acts of observing, curiosity about "awareness", a sense I don't want to get up from the meditation (I can stay sit withough moving for over an hour and feel I'm just beginning and don't want to get up), but also a frustrating slippery aspect where wandering thoughts still emerge.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
5/6/17 9:23 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Sounds really good Ben. See if you can accept the slippery aspect, that's normal and not a problem to fix. And also see if you can notice what comes between the gusts of wind, teeth of the gear, vibrations, third eye flickers, etc. In other words, it is obvious how these things "hit" but what is there in the gap between the "hits"? 

Basically nibbana is in the spaces but the mind doesn't know how to find it. Eventually it will grab onto nibbana and that's stream entry.

The other thing you can do is really drench yourself in any stilness or jhana that shows up. It has a way of conditioning the mind. Sometimes people will want to "vipassina-ize" experience too much. The other side of the spectrum is called for now: delicious non-judgmental and non-analytical initimacy with what is occuring. Your mind already is "insightful" enough, that's why you are getting the vibrations, now you need to relax, enjoy, and let your mind let go of its life-long tendency to grab objects and instead let it grab onto nothing/nibbana.

Keep going! It sounds very promising.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
5/6/17 3:53 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks Shargrol! That's encouraging!

Also, I've actually felt drawn a few times lately to focus more on the "stillness" aspect but everytime the "vipassanizing instinct" kicks in and takes over. So your advice makes a lot of sense to me.

Thanks again. I appreciate. 

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
5/9/17 7:30 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Kenneth Folk has a meditation he calls essence noting. I modified it slightly. Anything
that comes in through a sense door during this meditation, I note as
"accepting" and let it go. Separately, I become aware of the
stillness behind any phenomena that appears. I label this
"stillness". I equate this with being aware of awareness. Kenneth
labeled this "listening". I also put these two together and label it
"openness". That is, I become aware of both phenomena and stillness
together.
 
Sometimes while walking the dog, I will do the same meditation but without the noting.



.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
5/10/17 5:46 AM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
Thanks for sharing Jack. And it will be nice to do this while I walk my dog too emoticon

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/9/17 8:57 PM as a reply to Ben V..
I just finished a six days intensive practice in my home (7 to 8 hours of meditation per day and keeping the 8 precepts). I was shooting for stream-entry but it did not happen. 

I had tremendous amounts of fast vibrations as described above, very often. The vibrations were inside the head and often present also inside the chest. I often has the ability to trigger those vibrations at will, both on the cushion and outside formal meditation. Once or twice as the vibrations were happening, and as I was "inclining toward some void" (not sure how to desxcribe this), and feeling something big may be about to happen, this big fear would come up and pass quickly. 

All my sits were one hour without changing posture. In the last few days lots of physical pain would come up in the last 15 minutes of some sittings, mostly on the buttock from sitting long. 

In my last sit there was a very strong pressure against the crown of the head. At some point it was moving at different places around the top of the crown. And sometimes it would vibrate. I can still feel the pressure as I type those words, as my last sit ended 30 minutes ago.

I'm not sure where this all fits in the nanas. Maybe somewhere between Re-observation and high equanimity? The nice quick pulses and tinggles associated with A&P seem superficial compared to these vibratory phenomena, which occur around deeper concentration. 

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/10/17 5:48 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Have you ever had this experience before? What was your strongest experience of A&P, reobservation, and high equanimity before this event?

Was the flow of vibrations neutral, pleasurable, or unpleasurable?

What where you noticing about the mind/body when you observed the vibrations?

What was the days/hours like leading up to the experience?

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/10/17 6:58 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Sorry, this post is much longer than I thought it would. On to your questions:

I've had this experience before but for much shorter periods of time, like half a second then it would stop. (Ok, this is strange, as I just typed this I stoped and the vibrations came on). Anyways, in this retreat the middle of the head, or behind the face vibrations would come on very often during a single sit. On and off, on and off, on and off, and so on. Once I was reading during the retreat of an awakening account and that was enough to trigger the vibrations. 

Strongest A&P. I'm not sure which would classify as strongest but here's a few memorable ones that seems linke  A&P. About 20 years ago, doing a taoist meditation (similar to mindfulness) I had two successive sensations of "huge exlosion", one at the heart level followed quickly by one at the "third eye" level. The one at the third eye was accompanied by an explosion of bright white light flash at this very spot. I was stunned and could not make sense of the experience. I remember the one at third eye was like being punched, but without the pain. I had a third eye big flash of light (blue this time) while meditating about a year ago again. These are the only times I've seen light.

About 17 years ago I remember doing mindfelness of breathing and suddenly I saw three successive thoughts come and go as if I was standing outside of them. One thought woud come, be noticed immediately, vanish into the arising of a second thought movement, also noticed, vanished into a third thought movement. I was like looking at a water fall. It sounds mundane but I was much more stunned and impressed by this event than the "explosions" mentioned earlier. In the weeks that followed I felt anxious in meditation, like something was wrong with my life. 

Two years ago I began occasionally skyping with Kenneth Folk. I learned better to identify nanas but it's still not clear cut to me. A&P has been identified like this lately: I sit and quickly settle into a sense of ease, even well-being accompanied by quick little pulses under the nose (primary object) and mostly side of the face, sometimes with a quick tinggle on the foot or hand, also in the context of feeling happy. I feel quite mindful when this happens. But I've never had huge ecstatic experiences, religious experiences of "union", or any such dramatic events in A&P.

For re-observation, that's difficult for me to identify. The reason I stoped intensive residential retreats in Mahasi centers and the like was because of intense depressive feelings that would be trigerred. Doing it at home prevents the depressive feelings. I never really quite acertained to myself if these were re-observation related or just personal issues/trauma being triggered in the iosolated environment of retreat centers. The last residential one was at IMS in 2006. I was able to observe more the depressive feelings and really being focused on them. They were experienced as intense burning in the chest, very rapidly changing sensations of intense heat, like a raging fire, but my mind was equanimous. Eventually the heat became like a stable beam, like a sun in the middle of my chest. The heat was associated with the depressed feelings but experienced with much concentration and equanimity.

I've also had restless sits with lots of pains in my home retreats, like my mind wants to jump out of my skin. Once I learned to make my mindfulness paronamic, I think that's when I began experiencing equanimity. A more spacious feeling in mind, and a sense of what "dispassion" ("viraga") could mean.

Strongest High equanimity before this retreat: Many sits where my body and mind feels very still, can sit for an hour without pain and feel I could go on more, as if one hour felt like 5 minutes. And what I would consider even stronger than this are the times where, in such still sits, a spacious feeling would be followed by quick vibrations in the middle of the head (a few inches behind third eye) and the feeling that something big is about to happen. That's the experience that occured over and over again in this last retreat.

These vibrations are neutral, often occuring around a sense of being focused on spaciousness, being quite concentrated. The first time it happened I was sitting in my car waiting for my wife in a parking lot. I was feeling a bit tired. I closed my eyes and my mind began spontaneously to meditate, and the following words spontaneously arose in mind: "dispationate toward all formations". Immediately after those words came I had my first experience of quick vibrations in the middle of the head.

So what I notice about body/mind when observing these vibrations is stillness and some kind of formlessness. 

The days leading up to the experience. Actually the first day of retreat I woke up with a headache which lasted two days. I wanted to observe the feelings so didn't take any tylenols or advils at first, but in the evening of the second day I took advils. The headache receded. Vibrations were felt in the first two days. After the headache receded that's when the vibrations in middle of the head were coming a lot more. Days 3-4-5 were especially noticeable. I have to say from day one it pretty much felt vibratory, except with lots of head pain the first two days.

In one sit, day 4 or 5 I think, I took care to really pay attention to the progress of experiences in a single sit. A quick settling into little A&P pulses (very mild A&P if it's A&P). Followed by some loss of concentration and tightness in chest. And eventually a sense of spaciousness concentration settling and at times followed by vibrations in the head. 

I appreciate your helpful questions. I feel I'll have to investigate more my experience with some of these questions.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/10/17 7:45 AM as a reply to Ben V..
My observation is that when people are close to stream entry, they often seem to go back and re-experience the earlier nanas with more clarity/insight/power. The discontinuous staccato aspect of A&P and the chainsaw chaotic vibration of Reobservation are very similar. But my hunch, also suggested by a lack of recent powerful A&P and the fact that you felt head raptures, is that you were accessing the width and breadth of A&P with high concentration. 

The tricky thing about retreat is everything is bigger and more dramatic and sometimes people can think that those are the kind of experiences that are required for Stream Entry. But actually, simple home practice, without a lot of fireworks also gets the the job done. So don't think you need this big event to make progress. 

And all of the above is just my hunch, so take it for what it's worth.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/11/17 7:42 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks Shargrol,

When you say that simple home practice also gets the job done, in your opinion and experience could one or two sittings a day be enough? It will be a while before I can do another intensive home retreat like I just did. 

Benoit

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/12/17 10:48 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Yes, I do think it can be enough. There are enough examples, in addition to my own experience.


The main thing is consistent daily practice and treating life like a retreat -- from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep stay aaware and intimate with your lived experience.


Retreat are great, especially for big openings, but interestingly the intensity of the retreat expereince and the pressure to get it done during short --- i.e. less than 100 day -- timeframe... well, let's just say it sometimes makes it hard to just simply enjoy the equanimous pleasure of the equanimity nana. But if you are able to do very simple, low-effort sits at home, it can take you there.

It is entirely possible. Try to feel that in your bones. If you don't think it's possible, then of course it won't happen. But "nothing" is always here, always right within the gap of individual sensations. It doesn't take much to settle down, minimize effort, let reality and awareness just be as it is, dwell in equanimity, let equanimity get loose and dreamy, let the distinction between observer and observed get blurry... and then drop into nibbana.

Very simple, just give yourself the opportunity for it to happen by consistent practice.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/12/17 8:35 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Very inspiring and useful. Thanks.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/17/17 8:48 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Nothing much new in my practice. Just some notes on recent practice. 1 day retreat last thursday at home. Uneventful. Felt down after that not progressing to SE. Noted "discouragement" a few times. 

This morning hade a 50 ish minutes sitting. Got quite still and noting subtle phenomena, little movements of mind. At one point (about 45 minutes into the sitting) intentionally inclining my mind to "dispassion" (i.e. just disinterest toward all that arises), then observed that very intention. Then experienced fast strobbing in the middle of the head (where the brain is), kinda like a light bulb going on and off, on and off, very quickly (but no visual sensations, more on the tactile side). Right after a feeling of fear came and pulled me back. Then a thought like "maybe I almost got SE". Then noting how sense of "I" jumped in quickly here. Got up a few minutes after.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/17/17 12:06 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Do some magick.  Faith > technique in high eq. 

"I bow down to the deeper subconscious." 

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/17/17 5:46 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Thanks Noah. I get that your diagnosis is this was a high eq territory emoticon

Dropping technique seems to be a common advice here. Will do.. Thanks again!

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/17/17 6:31 PM as a reply to Noah D.
By magick do you mean some kind of prayer? And then letting it do its work?

Bowing down to deeper subconscious to allow it to do its work?

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/18/17 7:43 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Yeah, by doing magick, I mean 'some kind of prayer.'  This could mean affirmative prayer, traditional prayer, some kind of ritual involving esoteric symbolism & physical objects, dream incubation, etc - so the whole spectrum of intentional practices.  My experience was that the soup needed this ingredient of specifically surrendering to a force which was authentically (not just conceptually) deemed more powerful than myself.  It was like the goosebumps before a trust fall or going off a jump in extreme sports.  "Dropping technique" might not be enough, because the part of the mind that is still distrusting but 'out of sight' can still be at play.  That part of the mind (the inner child, the emotional wound, the whatever) needs to come into the light & also bow down for the lights to shut off (in many cases that I've seen with myself & acquaintances).  

My friend DreamWalker has a good, simple map to technical 1st & 2nd paths: Are you in EQ? No - get to EQ.  Yes - do some magick.  Repeat.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/18/17 10:45 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Hey benoit, love reading your log.

have some experiences that i can relate to yours.

also aiming at SE in home practice.

but i notice i have more of a DETACHED attitude towards SE. like " if it happens it happens, inf not no big deal " just continue practice and have no expectations.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/19/17 9:18 AM as a reply to alguidar.
Thanks for jumping in Alguidar. What I find great about noting practice is that this kind of attachment (to attainment) gets seen through when it arises emoticon Well at least during those times we are noting.

Wishing you success on your path.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/21/17 8:13 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Fwiw, the "if it happens, it happnes" element is a part of any magickal spell worth its weight (& also the reason why most don't work).  The hardest part is letting it go afterwards emoticon  Just wanted to plug that they aren't divergent schools of thought ("letting go" vs "spellcasting") but rather ingredients within a balanced practice.  Also that the right time for magick isn't in any particular nana, but rather any time you feel like connecting to the deeper part of your mind.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
12/21/17 10:08 AM as a reply to Noah D.
Thanks Noah,

Acutally I have a practice I do and learned from my retreats in the past with Mahasi-lineage monks: Everytime I do something good like a generous deed, I recite "may this be a condition for the realization of path and fruit in this very life."

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
1/8/18 7:23 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Well this log entry is more about the difficulties of practicing while very depressed. Many times I have snapped myself out of depressive states by going into stillness in meditation (maybe equanimity) but this time even the motivation to meditate is low. Once on the cushion, my mind stays in depressive pain. I look at my house and feel complete desolation and loneliness even though I don't live alone. Same feeling everywhere I go. Sounds like a post-holiday depression since it started after the holidays ended, though I've never had that (post-holiday) before. I did pass the holidays very sick with the flu. 
My mind is invaded by thoughts about impermanence and death, and loved ones,  which bring tremendous pain.  

I used to love my house and now think of selling it. 

Personally, I have always had difficulty differentiating dhukkha nanas from depression. I always suspect the latter more than the former in my case. 

Noting the sensations of depression, it's like a fire burning in my chest. I feel far away from SE-oriented practice now. 

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
1/9/18 11:39 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Sorry to hear this... but also not sorry because sometimes I swear these things are your inner intelligence trying to tell you something. I'm not trying to make light of it and I am definitely not saying "oh, just ignore your depression and keep practicing". Actually, more of the reverse. A lot of time depression/dukka nanas is tangled up with unconscious identification/pride... so I wouldn't be suprised if a month from now you are seeing something that you maybe have been overlooking or downplaying...

Being far away from SE oriented practice is probably the best place to be. The fantasy gone and left with where you really are and what your life is really like. The most important thing to ask your self is what do you really want from practice? Not quoting anybody about what practice will do, but what truly is your own motivation for practice?

Sometimes the best thing about practice is just that moment in time where you can sit with yourself, just as you are, and BE. No method, no progress, no change. Just a moment of rest from being somebody to just being...

Sometimes the best thing about practice is the intellectual curiousity that comes from being able to investigate our minds, so even the "malfunctioning" is actually interesting and still is an amazing functionality... what actually is this depression, how is it actually made, why do humans fall for it...

Sometimes it's the mini releases that come from putting attention on resistance, how things start creaking and popping and releasing when you bathe it with awareness...

Sometimes it's the psychological insights into clinging that are so engaging. Ah, this is how I take an idea and a sensation and create a emotional mood, which creates a psychological context that reinforces the mood, a self-referential trap... and here's another way, and another way...

Sometimes it's returing to reading about meditation and getting intellectually interested again... or getting interested in the actual persons who wrote the book, what their lifes were actually like as human beings living in a changing world...

Sometimes it can just be making the connection with that inner wise guide that seems to be behind all of practice... we know there is something in us that is working, even if we have no idea where things are leading or what we need to do next. Sometimes just connecting with that essence/spirit/soul/Self is the heart of why we practice.

And sometimes it >completely unrelated to practice<. There can be aspects of our life that we have been neglecting. Exercise, diet, friendship, entertainment, travel, music, art.


So just a quick word of advice from someone that has gone through pre-SE depression and dukka nanas and disenchantment with practice many times over a couple decades (!) before my practice really got traction --- sometimes it passes in a day or two, but when it feels like something deep is involved, it's usually trying to tell you something. 

The best practice seems to come from working on whatever "weak link" that presents itself and then follow wherever it leads and then address the next weak link... rather than following methods that assume that progress is going to go in a particular way. My two cents.


Best wishes in 2018!! 

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
1/9/18 7:03 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks Shargrol for taking the time to write this. It is a very dark and difficult time for me. I will have to re-read this. I want to add I've enjoyed and benefited from all your posts, those you've written for me and those for others I've read. Thanks for all this help.
It would be great if I discover more clearly what this depression is trying to tell me. I actually think underlying depression may be part of what led me to practice, to Buddhism in the first place.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
2/22/18 7:42 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Notes on Re-Observation bad trip.

Last night in my sitting I experienced strong, chaotic vibrations, similar to some of the head vibrations I've described before. But this time they felt like my head was a malfunctioning washing machine that goes "bang, bang, babababang..." and accompanied with moments of fear, moments of feeling in danger or like the world is a dangerous place, feelings of edgyness or ill at ease. A lot of thinking eventually came, mostly about how I might write this in this log the next morning! I think the thinking may have been a defense mechanism against staying more with the experience. I did came back again and again with the whole experience though. I was sort of ok with it as it was happening.

Sometimes mapping has been a hindrance to me, but this time knowing about the map put the experience in perspective and was helpful. I was meditating in bed. After I lied down my mind was racing, and also had a vivid self-image as a decomposing corpse, bluish-black. Really f*ed up but again it's good I've read about how vivid images like these can come in Dukkha nanas. 

Back to some more practice now..

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
2/22/18 8:59 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Awesome.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/23/18 8:11 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Starting my annual solo 7-day retreat in my basement tomorrow morning. I've been used to write in my log after such retreats. But I'm noticing a repetitive beginning of retreat phenomena I'll post here. I usually feel tense when I start a retreat, contrary to my normal daily meditation routine. It almost feels like a loss of ability to meditate, and that I meditate better off retreat, at least when it comes to the first day or first few days of retreat. 

Not sure what this tension is about. Some thoughts are: 

-Perhaps some pressure to get it done (SE), related to what Shargrol has mentioned above as potential downside of retreats that are less than 100 days.

- Perhaps some withdrawal symptoms from refraining from usual daily pleasures like hanging around and goofing around with my loved ones, watching tv, reading, etc.

- Maybe a mix of the above and more. 

Off I go in a few hours...

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/24/18 6:40 AM as a reply to Ben V..
My first meditations of the retreat, one last night and one this morning, were surprisingly quite still. Lots of stillness with usual occasional background middle of the head vibrations. 

The following helps:

If stress and tensions arise, it's only mental movements to note.

If excitement about the meditation arises, only mental movement.

Disapointment about practice, only a mind movement.

Defeatist thought about practice ("I can't do it"), only mind movement. 

Anticipation about practice (usually immediately after head vibrations arise), only mind movement. 

Depressive thoughts, mind movement. 

Movements of attention, mind movement.

Stillness, even that a mental formation. 

I think my practice at this point is to develop the ability to automatically see all these states as states, as mind movement.

I may not post again before end of retreat as this feels like it could be a distraction.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/24/18 7:27 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Great self-advice!

Another bit of advice for equanimity...

States and stages are fine to notice, but recognize that retreats creates the "container" of equanimity. You become better able to be with all of THIS because it is all within mind, all within awareness, not in a particularily special way, but in a very very natural way... 

If things are going fine as they are, you are allowed to enjoy the lived experience of being present. Enjoy being "here". If there are thoughts that "I need to practice harder" that's a mind movement. If there are thoughts that "I'm almost there" that's a mind movement. If there is a thought "I'm dropping out of equanimity, I'm getting farther away" that's a mind movement, too. Connect with your lived experience whatever it is. Try to live in this present and immediate way all retreat.

As a little trick: physical sensations are always immediate. You can rely on feeling physical sensations as a refuge, a way to reconnect with  immediate experience.

When you are "here", it is a very simple state. Nothing really breaks it. Nothing really can be added to it. It IS.

Sometimes this is-ness is kind of concentration state inducing and you'll want to close your eyes. That's fine, you can go deep into inner awareness. That is still "here". 

Sometimes this is-ness is so immediate that thoughts become nearly silent or like a trickle, and you wonder "am I even practicing?". That's still being here.

Sometimes this is-ness evoke a splash of creative thinking and you wonder "should I try to capture all these ideas or should I try to stop all this thinking?". Basically, don't worry about it. Let the mind do what it does. Limit note taking to a few words or a few sentences, but let thoughts happen. Trust that if it is a good thought, it will come back after retreat.

(I've been seduced many times into creative writing for 30 minutes on retreat when 3 minutes was more than enough. Basically, my mind was bored/creative and was kind of trying to avoid being present.)

Sometimes there will be a storm of worries and concerns and feeling like everything is a catastrophe. Don't worry. That's your friend reobservation. Now is a perfect time to say "oh, look at this mind worry and freak out. I'm going to study how a mind freaks out."

Sometimes you need to move the body, walking meditation, stretching, etc.  -- do so, do it mindfully and experience what it is like to be right "here" in a body. 

Finally make sure you sit each evening until you are really ready to go to sleep (like head-nodding, etc.) Sit until you head-nod three times, then mindfully get into bed. Be "here" in bed until the body disappears as you go to sleep. Be "here" in mind as your mind goes to sleep and intend to notice your frist experience when waking finally happens. Let yourself sleep how ever you sleep, dream however you dream, don't worry about that, sleep will do it's own thing on a retreat, listen to your body needs for sleep, maybe it needs more, maybe it needs less.

Equanimity isn't just the clear, calm, open "state". Mature EQ seems to seep into any mind state. It is an objective and intimate knowing of what is "here".

Once you are here, you don't need to "do" anything besides dwell in this simple pleasure that arises from seclusion. So simple, so complete. Nothing to be added. Nothing to take away. Any resistance or ill will is so obvious and so irrelevant, the mind just trying to find a problem, but you know that it's just a habitual movement of mind, so including that mindstream of worries in this experience of being here.

Poor mind, so troubled for all these years. It wants to worry because it just wants to protect us. That's fine mind, do your thing. I won't repress you, but I won't indulge you either... 

So thoughts come and go, emotions come and go, urges come and go, body sensations come and go... all within this space of knowing. Sometimes this knowing is on the exterior world, sometimes on the physical body, sometimes on the inner space of mind... all of this is known. And this knowing is the essence of mind nature. No extra effort or attention is needed. You can relax and let the mind know.

Let the mind know.

Best wishes!

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/27/18 10:48 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks a lot Shargrol for your always generous and practical advices. It is much appreciated. To me your writings are golden. You've been (and are) a teacher to me. I'm sure many others must feel the same.

So far nothing unusual in my retreat. Will post more at end of retreat.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
7/1/18 2:22 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Some post-retreat notes:

Nothing much new and didn't get stream-entry. Some of the thought petterns concerning realization mentioned above: anticipation, desire for awakening, thinking I must practice harder, dispointment about practice, confidence about practice, etc, all arose a lot in first few days. Starting day 5 or 6 something changes about these thougths when they came. They were noticed very early in their inception and didn't move the mind much, kind of like a little flicker of dust passing through a large room. And they disappeared real fast, having no power over the stillness. Not a huge stillness but quite still, even though mind could get slippery with thoughts. 

I discovered something about my own psychology, something I have come to note as "intellectual craving." It is the attempt to pin down the whole practice intellectually, such mapping thougths, and desire to grab one of my Dharma books or come here and read posts.

Also noticed another pattern I now note as "counter-thought". That's a resistance in the mind that comes quickly when I have thougths "I shouldn't have", which included very simple thougths like thoughts about awakening. In psychoanalytic term, it's super-ego strictness: "hey, you should be mindful and not dwell in those thougths" or somehting like that. Easy to say just notice and note but gosh some conditionings are strong. This "counter-thought" phenomenon is alwasy accompanied by tension near the chest. But in last two or three days these counter-thoughts were also catched very early in their inception, which for me is quite a progress.

Today is the first day out of this retreat. I'm alone at home and an hour ago I had a thought to sit and watch tv, then another came that no I should go meditate some more, then a quick but intense panic attack, something I didn't have in years. The panic attack was observed and, though quite intense and destabalizing, vanished quickly. Felt like a meditation neurosis could start develop there and then. I'm trained in psychoanalytic therapy and could quickly detect the inner conflict: desire to take it easy today, and super-ego rambling down very oppressively against that desire. I still feel some anxiety but manageable.

I feel I need time after a retreat to literally recover my defense mechanisms and my persona in order to restabilize. It's like I have to take the red pill from the Matrix again to re-enter normal daily life. The transition from retreat to normal life has often been difficult for me, just as the other way around in beginning of retreat.

On day six also had some bad news: my mother severely injuring herself in an accident, though quickly stabilized and helped appropriately. This brought some stirr of complex guilt complex in my mind and emotional stuff. Day 7 I could quickly settle back in stillness during meditation (though staying in touch with family on the issue).

Part of me wants to continue meditating hours every day, another part wants to re-integrate normal life. Oh mind, always in conflict.

Thanks again to Shargrol for the advices: they really feel tailored to my situation. 

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
7/1/18 6:45 PM as a reply to Ben V..
I opted for a lazy afternoon on the couch. Watching tv. Yet, without consciously deciding to initiate meditation, I found myself many times eyes closed, turning awareness inward. Very relaxed and awere and many occurences of this quick tapping/flickering/vibrating inside the head.
Cool...

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
7/1/18 7:11 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Perfectly awesome. Sorry about your mom, but you couldn't ask for a better retreat in terms of seeing deeply into the false self. You can really see how "being/experiencing" gets corrupted into intellectual mapping, how "intuition/insight" get's corrupted into super-ego harshness. Those two are subtle in everyday life, but they really become more obvious when they cook up in the space of a retreat. Retreat drives the intellect and super-ego kinda crazy, because you're >just sitting there doing nothing in particular<!      emoticon 

So for what it''s worth, Stream Entry doesn't need to happen on retreat. It didn't for me. I was just continuing my practice (actually a few weeks after a retreat) with nothing much changed in my life... Except:

- I absolutely trusted that my mind (not intellect or superego) was leading the way. It just needed my daily practice to see what it needed to see, so to speak.

- My "effort" dropped to almost nothing. How can I "work" or "try" to get get stream entry? It's ridiculous!! I don't know what it is or where it is, how can I try to get there?

- I let go of any state being the answer... and any state being a problem. What does it matter what arises? Equanimity is awareness and acceptance of whatever arises. It's almost too simple.

- I didn't keep trying to "clearly objectify" anything. If I got sleepy or drifty, I let myself get sleepy or drifty. Was I aware of sleepiness or driftiness? Yes. Cool, that's all that is needed. No need to be clear or bright or lazer-minded. Drifty or confused or foggy --- those were all mind states that could be accepted, too.

- The last thing that seemed to change was a willingness to just kind of dwell on the mindstream --- that flow of semi-verbal sounds in the head, that bubbling of proto-emotional urges, that vague sense of somatic being... the subtle flow of things became an object of meditation. Those things really aren't intellectually known and the super-ego doesn't like that stuff because it's bubbly and vague, but it had it's own attraction, hard to explain... except it sounds very similar to the tapping/flickering/vibrating that you mention above! emoticon


So basically just trust that it is a matter of time. Relax because "you" don't know how to do it and "you" will never know when it will occur. So really the only thing to do is relax in awareness, enjoy calm states, let go of worries, but keep a gentle and consistent daily practice going.

It can be good to sit without a timer/clock. If it feels good to keep sitting, keep sitting. If it feels like time to get up, sit a few minutes longer then get up. If it feels like you are falling asleep on the cushion, fall asleep on the cushion. 


No big deal, just a matter of time.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/6/18 10:38 AM as a reply to Ben V..
I made an experiement in the use of attention in meditation yesterday, one I had made a couple of years back. This led me to categorize two sets of meditative states or modes in my practice, and I'm wondering if I should give attention more to one of them than the other to progress.

Mode 1: That's the experiementation I did yesterday. I focused attention very narrowly under my nose and, on top of trying to track down as many sensations I could, I also tried to notice as many movements of attentions I could. For example, a moment of attention on tip of the lip, then another moment of attention moving an inch above, then an inch to the right, then expanding a little, the contracting a little. By doing that, very quickly, there arose eruptions of very quick pulses/vibrations in the facial area.

I could give the name "lazer beam - fast noting" to this mode. I had tried that 2 years ago and a big sudden quick flash of blue light arose and passed at the level of the forehead. Then I tried again and a line of flicker was perceived behind my forehead. This never happened again but I'm beginning to see how fast and precise noting can give somewhat dramatic and interesting results.

Mode 2. This has been the usual place I get when I meditate for the last two years or so. And I already described it a few times in past posts. The awareness is more panoramic. There is no energetic probing into details of individual experiences. All experiences (breath sensations, body sensations, thoughts, etc) are felt to be happening within a larger space. And it doesn't feel like there are big differences between experiences, as they are all automatically seen as stuff of nature arising and passing away. I can still distinguish that one thing is a beath sensation, another a body sensation, another is a thought, but they are seen as more or less the same thing, which makes it so that it  doesn't matter what's arising. Occasionally I would feel middle of the head quick pulses of tapping in mode 2. Like "tap tap tap" then it stops.

I have sometimes wondered if mode 2 is either access concentration or equanimity. As far apart as these are on the map, somehow they seem related in some way to me.

And although it may be tempting to say mode 1 is A&P and mode 2 is equanimity, and therefore I should not bother with mode 1 since I'm getting to mode 2 frequently, there is a part of my mind that says something like "I don't know the map. There are these two modes I can identify and I wonder  what I should focus on more." 

Mode 1 really feels like "wow something special is happening and developing here.." And it is somewhat more difficult to make it happen than drop into mode 2, which makes me wonder which one is "more advanced meditation." If mode 1 is a lower nana, then why is it more difficult to make it happen? I have read Daniel Ingram giving special importance on fast precise noting, like noticing as many sensations as possible. I wonder if I should cultivate that more.

Mode 2 is usually less spectacular but giving rise to more wisdom: the ability to see the mind more clearly than mode 1. Mode 2 may  also see all the above as just mental noise, now that I think of it, lol.

Any thoughts welcome.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/6/18 3:11 PM as a reply to Ben V..
In general, Mode 1 and then rest in Mode 2 when Mode 1 seems too manic/manipulative. Have that as a general bias.

If you start off in Mode 2 and Mode 1 doesn't seem like it's likely, then just soak in Mode 2.

Mode 1 and Mode 2 aren't necessarily incompatable with each other, so that's another thing to consider. Actually, what you describe as "occasionally I would feel middle of the head quick pulses of tapping in mode 2" is a perfect example of this --- and a very important event.

I would highly recommend that you stay curious about the quick pulses in the middle of the head.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/6/18 7:38 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks Shargrol!

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/6/18 7:49 PM as a reply to Ben V..
This describes the two subsets of insight practice that I've experienced down to a T, and I have all of the same questions as you!  I've only recently (since January or so) started to spend significant time in mode 2.

During my sits, mode 1 goes along, speeds up, and then experiences start cropping up such as tingling flowing through my body, pressure/tension in my forehead, small facial twitching around the lips, waves of bliss, general jerking around of my body.  Eventually it stops (usually over the duration of a breath and I've tried seeing how far everything would go and how intense it would get but I always end up "dropping out" of the experience.  I can never tell if I'm losing focus, or if it's something that naturally comes and goes.

Mode 2 is more likely to leave me with sensations that my body is dissolving into the space around me (all of my senses turn into a "smudge" of flickering points of sensations), swaths of purple and blue floating in my vision, and a sense of flickering that feels all encompassing. 

I'm interested in hearing more about this topic and if many others report the same thing maybe it would be beneficial to start an entire new thread for it

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/7/18 6:06 AM as a reply to rik.
There really isn't much more to say about this topic except keep practicing. (Honestly, don't over think it, stay curious, keep sitting daily, go on retreats if you can but if you can't no big deal just keep practicing.)

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/7/18 9:18 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Sounds good!

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/7/18 10:09 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Ben V.:


Mode 2. This has been the usual place I get when I meditate for the last two years or so. And I already described it a few times in past posts. The awareness is more panoramic. There is no energetic probing into details of individual experiences. All experiences (breath sensations, body sensations, thoughts, etc) are felt to be happening within a larger space. And it doesn't feel like there are big differences between experiences, as they are all automatically seen as stuff of nature arising and passing away. I can still distinguish that one thing is a beath sensation, another a body sensation, another is a thought, but they are seen as more or less the same thing, which makes it so that it  doesn't matter what's arising. Occasionally I would feel middle of the head quick pulses of tapping in mode 2. Like "tap tap tap" then it stops.


Mode 2 is usually less spectacular but giving rise to more wisdom: the ability to see the mind more clearly than mode 1. Mode 2 may  also see all the above as just mental noise, now that I think of it, lol.

Any thoughts welcome.

Mode 2 is pretty much what i do.

plus, NOT trying to change the experience in any way.

Just sit, shikantaza.

Have you read about it? Tried it?
Zen tradition.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
9/8/18 7:39 AM as a reply to alguidar.
Mode 2 naturally makes Shikantaza quite compelling, actually. I have not read much about it, but read into what I think is it's Chinese counterpart in Chan Buddhism (silent Illumination school, late master Sheng Yen). If I remember correctly, Sheng Yen teaches in 3 steps: aware of whole body sitting, aware of whole environment sitting, then, I think, drop the whole thing (step 3 is awakening I think).

Thanks emoticon

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/6/19 7:02 AM as a reply to Ben V..
I'm on the beginning of the fourth day of a seven day intensive practice at home: around 6 hours of sitting meditation and 3 or more hours of walking meditation.

Nothing much new in my practice. But a few observations on the "not new material".

I read an old log on Awake Network where Kenneth Folk was teaching jhana jumping post SE. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still pre-SE but tried some aspects of it, although in a vipassana style (Vipassana jhana I guess).

1st Induced mind to focus tightly on any sensation that seemed solid. A sensation of pressure on my nose. Then another sensation of pressure near my left temple.

2nd Induced mind to penetrate those pressure sensations. Sure enough, they start vibrating.Quick pulses and vibrations were felt around the face.

3rd. Induced mind to become diffuse over the whole body. 

4th Induced mind to expand beyond body (in my case I would say it felt like it expanded 2 or 3 feet around the body. This got me straight to a very familiar place and where I consider have been my cutting edge for the last 2 or 3 years: Expanded awareness that includes all things within it. A sense that it doesn't matter what arises: a breath sensation, a movement of thought, etc. They are all kind of the same stuff: movements of nature arising and passing away within awareness. 

In this expanded awareness, there is also, not always but often, a curiosity about "what is awareness"? Or, "what is aware"? There is also a sense in this state of access to some (at the risk of sounding spiritually narcissistic) of the "big wisdom material" of spritual traditions: e.g. "all things are manifestations within absolute awareness", an "awareness that can never be taken as object, and which has no features upon which it can be identified".

There is also a slight frustration that despite all the above in this 4th mode of focus, there is still this somewhat annoying sense of solid center. This morning I turned my attention toward this "solid center" and it vibrated very smoothly for a few seconds. 

In the last few weeks, I've made an interesting observation about the 2 or 3 quick pulses that arise in the middle of the head when I'm in the focus mode 4 above. It is that the three pulses can be provoked in three ways:

1. By paying very close attention to the ending of a sensation/experience.

2. By generating a deep sense of dispassion toward all phenomena (beause they all have a slight stress to them). This kinda feels like I focus on "not focusing on anyphenomena", or "inclining to the void where there are no phenomena".

3. By Looking for the observer and seeing that it too is just a thought rising and passing.

I was baffled to realize that these actually correspond to the 3cs, or the "3 doors". In my case, the 3 doors to the middle of the head quick pulsing, not to nibbana because I have never experienced a cessation in my practice.

A final note. In some sittings, it seems I "fall back" to being a total clueless beginner that lost the ability to meditate, to be in 4th mode above. This feel solid and constricted, like the beginning stages (first 3 nanas perhaps). 

Oh, one final curious thing. But this is something that's been going on for quite a while, maybe a year or so. After an afternoon nap, I would, immediately upon waking up, feel extremely rapid vibrations under the nose and a little bit inside the face, and really concentrated, as if I was in some A&P territory.

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/6/19 12:08 PM as a reply to Ben V..
 Ben, you sound very “ripe” to me right now. It might be time for you to fall off the tree...

take your time and make a relaxed home in 4th mode and very very very gently look (almost more wondering than looking) for where is the center of your mind.

No worries if you mind wants to show you other stuff, that’s fine, the mind is always right...

...but when things are calm: “where is the center of my mind?”

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/6/19 12:04 PM as a reply to shargrol.
This is a very very subtle wondering/looking.... and kinda feels like the mind gently gently gently turn back upon itself like “as I wonder about the center of my mind, where is the center of this wondering?”

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/7/19 5:05 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks Shargrol! Very much appreciated.

After I read your response, I immediately turned inward and felt the mind being very light and expansive, and a sense that there is no center!

Well, I didn't fall off the tree/ had any cessations, but I did a lot of "looking for the center" whenever my mind was in this calm zone since then. What I realize is difficult is the "very very gently part." That will take some practice...

One more day of intensive practice now + the rest of this evening...

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/8/19 8:32 PM as a reply to Ben V..
Just finished the last meditation of my 7-day intensive practice at home.

Of the last two sittings, nana-wise, seems like the first one was in equanimity (very still and calm mind, objects that arise immediately and effortlessly seen as just objects that rise and fall in space, some pulses in middle of the head) and the last one in reobservation (rapid, frantic vibrating in face, behind face and head, with occasional quick stabs of itches here and there). There was still equanimity in the reobservation though, an okayness.

That's it. 

To be continued..

RE: Benoit's practice log
Answer
6/9/19 5:24 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Cautionary tale (to myself and others):

I woke up last night (which was that last day of retreat), close to midnight, feeling extremely exhausted, drained, and some undefinable unpleasant sensations in my chest and head, weakness in my hands, all of which I intuited as lack of nutrition. Felt very weak on my legs as I got up.

I observe the 8 monastic precepts when I do retreats, which includes not eating between noon and the following morning. Seems like this time around my body didn't take it, seven days in a row. I felt these symptoms a few days into the retreat (less intense) but they went away. Weird how when I came back from "retreat mode" my body showed those symptoms with a vengence. 

My wife prepared miso soup with bread and sardines at midnight seeing how I was. She said I was very pale. I was so weak and having such unleasant sensations she was wondering if I needed to go to the hospital. I didn't. Woke up almost 2 hours later feeling as horrible. But decided to sleep it over and see.

This moring I feel better, but still weak. This morning I am scheduled to facilitate a meditation group as replacement for a teacher in a Yoga studio. Hope I will have my strength ok. Back to eating normally today!

I have watched a Culadassa interview lately where he explained how advanced meditators can be better at ignoring or bypassing emotional and even bodily symptoms/needs, as he talked of his own health situation. I wonder if duriong this retreat I was not doing just that, in this case ignoring signals of de-nutrtion. Still, meditation was good. 

Note to myself: Next time I need to check on my nutrition!!