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Low Equanimity, perhaps?
Answer
6/30/15 3:44 AM
First post after reading this place for around a year so here goes.

I believe I have attained low equanimity as per the MCTB descriptions, but I now find myself completely lost and foundering in some weird Dark-Nighty thingie. I’ll try to describe my sensations as best I can, so bear with me.

Having passed through what I assume to be fear, disgust, et al. I suddenly find myself going ‘vast’ in an internal sense. With eyes closed the space in my head just opens out into an almost dizzying emptiness. Whilst sensations of my body remain, the distances and exact placement are extremely fuzzy. Note that the external world remains present and correct. I hear cars and voices and so on and can place them in a real-world sense, yet this internal vastness remains. It’s like a world within worlds, like I have become the TARDIS. I’m infinite inside, and perfectly ordinary outside. I stay here for anything from 5-20 minutes before dropping back out and into…well, what? That’s the question? I was able to achieve this state almost constantly with every sit (but can never manage to get it again in the same sit) about 6-7 months ago, but now…nothing save an agonising mess of thoughts and mind noise, like angry bees.

(As a side note, I’ve been having these experiences, both with eyes open and closed, since I was about 10. I used to call them hallucinations and freak out as my bedroom just became almost infinite in size whilst I lay, perfectly normally, in my bed.)

So my question is: where was I, really? And how might I get past it? I’ve been managing to hit it again just recently, but still struggle to comprehend the next steps when I hit it. The internal experience is so profound that just continuing to note is very difficult (but maybe I’m answering my own question). I’m worried that I’ve slipped back to stage 1, but my recent tastes of vastness perhaps suggest not. Even through the darkest days (exhaustion, falling asleep after 5 minutes at every session, vol-to-11 mind chatter) I’ve always maintained a practice, so I don’t know. The vastness has no kundalini associated with it as I normally get just a few shudders on my way up. I certainly don’t think I’ve ever achieved stream entry without noticing it, as rather than loosen, the world has solidified into something more real than it was before I started meditating, which is rather annoying.

So yes, there you go. Any pointers most gratefully received.

Love and Hugs

Scott Mac xxx

RE: Low Equanimity, perhaps?
Answer
6/30/15 10:16 AM as a reply to Scott McCowan MacDonald.
Hi Scott.

The experience you describe seems to be within "normal" parameters, so nothing to worry about.

There seems to be an attachment to the sense of an "I", as you still seem to think that this is something "you" achieve through effort. That my friend is an illusion. ;)

I'd say that there needs to be a decision whether to reach enlightenment or to be a "strong meditator". If you're aiming for freedom, I suggest investigating with Direct Pointing (as described here: http://liberationunleashed.com/wp-content/uploads/Gateless_Gatecrashers.pdf ) to recognize the truth of no-self. After that the process unfolds more naturally, as the sense of a doer is seen through.

Good luck and have fun. emoticon

RE: Low Equanimity, perhaps?
Answer
6/30/15 3:02 PM as a reply to Scott McCowan MacDonald.
Scott McCowan MacDonald:
I believe I have attained low equanimity as per the MCTB descriptions,
Any pointers most gratefully received.
Here is some great information that may clarify the "what next" of EQ. Its from Kenneths book that is still a work in progress -
Knowledge_of_Equanimity_Stage_11
Give it a read and see if you have any more questions
Good luck,
~D

RE: Low Equanimity, perhaps?
Answer
7/3/15 11:09 AM as a reply to Scott McCowan MacDonald.
Hi Scott,

Welcome to the DhO forum. 
Having passed through what I assume to be fear, disgust, et al. I suddenly find myself going ‘vast’ in an internal sense. With eyes closed the space in my head just opens out into an almost dizzying emptiness. Whilst sensations of my body remain, the distances and exact placement are extremely fuzzy. Note that the external world remains present and correct. I hear cars and voices and so on and can place them in a real-world sense, yet this internal vastness remains. It’s like a world within worlds, like I have become the TARDIS. I’m infinite inside, and perfectly ordinary outside. I stay here for anything from 5-20 minutes before dropping back out and into…well, what? That’s the question? I was able to achieve this state almost constantly with every sit (but can never manage to get it again in the same sit) about 6-7 months ago, but now…nothing save an agonising mess of thoughts and mind noise, like angry bees.

I would call this a mild sukkha-- when the mind and body are at ease and there is this boundaryless body apperception.

So equanimity is an actual place of mind in which the mind is unprovoked, neither attracted nor repulsed by any formation (thought, feeling, sensation), locationless. Generally, one's own identity has become dissolved here into apperception; any sense of own central position is dissolved here. 

To have an experience like what we could label "low equanimity" can be compared to wobbling on a balance beam: Yes, you're sitting in relative ease and emptiness, but there's ego-identify sort of naming and placing formations of mind or at least feeling "I am watching". This is still very, very useful, nothing to dismiss.

So Gautama Buddha is said to have recalled sitting under a rose-apple tree as a child where he had a very, very pleasant experience just sitting there. And this is said to have been his basis for using the anapanasati training means. Anapansati is where mind is trained to calm down into equanimity by passing through immersion in suffusive sukkha (deep ease, comfort, mental-bodily contentedeness). This way a mind can look forward to training (the training is pleasant and calming to the body, stress-reducing) so that one can see how formations occur to mind and how ego lurches to grab some formations, reject others and then eventually see dissolution of identify itself.

For equanimity itself,
So I would say that it's worth cultivating pleasantness in your life: if you can, do a restorative yoga or a very slow yoga (or happy baby posture for several minutes if it doesn't aggrevate you in any way, including blood pressure), or long swimming. Prepare your body and mind for pleasant relaxation, however you can do that. You might volunteer at a soup kitchen one morning or do something other-serving, then come home and take care of your body-- release tension on your exhales if you're stretching; using long, slow deep breathing to settle the brain stem-- three minutes of 5-second inhale, 5-second exhale perhaps.

Then as you sit, just place the mind on the breath like a leaf riding a small lake's little tides coming up and down the beach. Sit in this pleasantness. Let the mind grow calm.

As mental formations arise and pass, you can imagine a giant tub draining and objects come into focus (thought, feelings) and then letting them go --- whooop --- they go down the drain.

As mental formations arise and pass, you can see them as objects coming into focus at the drain, and --- whoooop --- they go down the drain.

If an object gets stuck at the drain, then this is a mental formation that attention is stuck with. It's okay, keep placing the mind with the leaf riding on the tide of the inhales and exhales. Releasing tension consciously on exhales: shoulders, face, mouth, forehead...

If you grow sleepy, stop and get up, or, try first, to think of something more enlivening-- this enlivening will be a clear re-entry into ego-identity, but you're doing it for the purpose of waking up the mind.

Then resume, place the mind on the leaf riding the little tide of inhales and exhales and intend to stay alert and loose, mind on the leaf riding the breath-tide, watching mental formations come and go.

This sitting causes sukkha. If there is the presence of own-view, sort of an ego location seeing objects come and go, this, to me, is low equanimity. It's very useful because one sees one's mental formations arising and passing, which are the big formations hard to let pass and which can be also the funny little formations that come up, sometimes tiny little memories from childhood-- a certain washcloth, a base of a tree, one sock, locker contents, funny little clear memories..

And one day when one is alert and in deep sukkha, the mind is clear and equanimity is there on its own, alert, intimate, egoless, restful.

Letting go by dropping through cultivating practical and physical pleasantness and non-fight with self, going with the breath, calming the brainstem, calming body tensions.

From sukkha to equanimity may require a lot of practice because being alert and attentive is a typical job for ego-identity; so there can be a lot of coming in and out of equanimity just because the ego is toggling its role in attention, grasping formations, creating excitment, aversion and so on.

And both equanimities (including so-called "low" eq) help in daily life to develop new habits over time.

Best wishes.

a couple edits for clarity.