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Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?

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Dear members of DHO,


I just came back from an intensive
mahasi style meditation w-e and I had what felt like a meditative experience (compared to my usual formal practice which is fairly uneventful usually). I would like to know if it is the sign that I am effectively getting somewhere, meaning that I'm applying the instructions correctly. Thank you for taking the time to read me and pardon my English as it is not my first language.


Because this is my
first post to this great forum, this will also be the occasion to introduce myself along the way. I'll try to keep it relatively short (I didn't manage to keep it short, if you just want to go to the experience I'm talking about go to the > at the bottom ;) )


So, a bit of background about my practice may be useful to have a better comprehension : 10 years ago (I'm 31) I had what I called a mystical experience while taking a psychedelic drug. Getting THE answer to life I didn't even know I was searching for since immemorial time. I felt infinity, out of time, waking up. After this I had the impression to understand exactly what Jesus and other saints where talking about (I have zero religious education) and it seemed to me that this kind of experience was the ultimate purpose of being alive. I then took a lot of various psychedelic drugs trying to recreate this experience. I knew about Buddhism but believed that psychedelic drugs could give me the real deal. I ended taking more and more stimulants,
euphorics drugs and less and fewer psychedelics. Talking more and more about my initial experience while on amphetamine on party, theorizing a lot about it. Anyway, from what I read, this seems to correspond to a classic A&P (which I learned about only a few months ago thanks to this site).


Seeing that I wasn't getting anywhere doing drugs, I did a 10 days
goenka retreat two years ago. I understood during this retreat that 'seeing things as they really are' has nothing to do with the experiences I had with psychedelics and that the motivation was exactly the opposite (not trying to reproduce the experience). This retreat seems remarkably uneventful to me, used to strong sensory drugs experience. Following this, I didn't manage to meditate daily more than two weeks in a row. I meditated from time to time, sometimes with months between sitting and continued my drugs use. Thinking about it now, I think I was way too rigid about myself, forcing myself while sitting, wanting to make a radical shift in my behavior but not ready to make it happen, I guess.


Then I did a 3 days
goenka retreat one year ago where I was glad to reintroduce myself to the teaching and practice. But I still wasn't able to meditate daily or even regularly after this, and continuing my drugs use.


I began to see the toxic pattern behind my drugs use and how life seems bland when I wasn't taking drugs (I actually felt this way since quite a long time, actually. Is it the Dark Night of the Soul ?). It began to be clear that this was not leading me anywhere positive for myself.


This lead me to make the decision to really try to meditate more seriously and I began to meditate daily (more or less)
six months ago. I since take a lot less drugs, I had to force myself in the beginning and when I still take some it is a lot less interesting than before.


I took a one day goenka course in February of this year. Since this course, I manage to meditate almost daily and almost cutting off the weed (daily smoker for 10 years) and the drugs in general. On two occasions I had what felt like the “free flow”
goenka is talking about : suddenly feeling lighter and feeling all my body in the same time in an effortless way. This lasted maybe 10-15 seconds each time. I don't crave about it. I usually have difficulty to meditate and have to force myself. I really love to read about it though (especially on this forum).


Reading about the
mahasi technique here and on the Hamilton project blog, seeing that I didn't get as many results as I was hoping for with the goenka method (coming from my past drug use, I have expectations about how it should “feel” to get impermanence or other stuff, even though I know I should not) and also because I felt I understood the mahasi method better, I decided to give it a go.


So I tried it for two weeks and then I did go to this intensive w-e where I had this kind of experience :


> I had the free flow one or two times (but it felt less intense than the two times before), felt nauseous here and there (don't remember exactly if it really was before or after what is following). Ho, by the way, I always have pain in the legs or one sleeping leg after 15-20 min of sitting.


Anyway, during the afternoon, after a few hours of sitting/walking meditation, it suddenly appeared clearly that it was silly for my part to identify with the painful sensations. It was clear that I should just abandon this identification instead of wanting it to go away. And following right after this, it appears clearly that identifying myself with the pleasant sensations was what lead me to suffer from the painful ones. One could not go without the other. For the first time, I felt I understood what was the meaning of 'the pleasant sensation lead to suffering too' and it felt like an intuition.


After that I was able to observe the painful sensations more easily than before and I saw them change and how there was different sensations, not just one big pain. There was more little painful sensations inside the painful area that appeared and disappeared.


What's funny is that the next hour we had a teaching about exactly that, how to observe the painful sensations and how we should use the attention as a microscope to watch the painful sensations.


I'm happy because it's the first time I feel
like I have an experience matching with the theory, and I would like to have the opinion of some more experienced DHO members than myself about this and advice if you feel like giving me some.


Thank you so much for reading me.

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/4/16 12:53 PM as a reply to Martin.
Hey Martin,

I would guess that your insight into the effects drugs were having on your life was a deep experience of the 2nd nana.  Also, I would say that both the "free flow" experiences, and the more recent, equanimous experience, were different versions of the 3rd nana.  

P.s.- and in classic form, your epic, psychadelic experience (years ago) would have been your first time through the 4th nana.

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/4/16 2:06 PM as a reply to Noah.
Thank you for your response, this confirm what I thought. Except that, funnily, I didn't thought my reflection on my drugs use as a nana. Do I read the table right if I say that the second nana is the knowledge of cause and effects ?

It feels good to see where I am on the map !

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/4/16 6:10 PM as a reply to Martin.
Yea, 2=c&e

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/4/16 6:39 PM as a reply to Martin.
I would add that aspects of your insights could be from the "mature" stage of Three Characteristics nana. Basically, you became intimate with the negative aspects of your experience, yet you weren't running away from them. As a result, you were able to fully experience those sensations as sensations, rather than beliving they were "you". 

That's really promising! If you can find ways to continue to practice, that intimate experience of sensations will naturally become more and more detailed, more and more fine grained, more and more vibratory... leading to another A&P. This time, without drugs!  emoticon

As you are sitting, investigate "what really is a sensation? how do I know a sensation is happening? where do I experience sensations in my mind?"

Hope that helps!

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/4/16 10:09 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:

As you are sitting, investigate "what really is a sensation? how do I know a sensation is happening? where do I experience sensations in my mind?"

I'll try this. Thanks to you for the encouraging response !

I am really curious about a non drug induced A & P experience, it seems unbelievable to me.

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/5/16 5:20 AM as a reply to Martin.
The classic A&P experience is pretty bizarre. The mind zooms into the arising and passing of sensations and throughts and keeps zooming into the micro-sensations and micro-thoughts which seem to make up the sensations and thoughts. Everything is made up of vibrations and it's hard to tell if it is external or internal. There can be a "gap" event, similar to a cessation, that really blows your sense of dualistic (inside/outside, self/other) reality. Your highest likelihood for the extreme versions of this experience is on retreat, where it is easy to maintain fairly consistent practice, but consistent home practice can get you there too. 

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/5/16 12:03 PM as a reply to Martin.
Martin:

I am really curious about a non drug induced A & P experience, it seems unbelievable to me.  


It happened to Kenneth.

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/5/16 1:18 PM as a reply to Noah.
Cool, I'll read about this right now.

Shargol, I tried to investigate the questions you suggested about sensations during my last two sitting and I have to say it was quite difficult. I was thinking  "well, a sensation is just that, a sensation !". Then, it occured to me that a wall by example is made out of bricks and likewise a sensation is made of other sensations. But I wasn't really able to experience it. It was like the sensations composing the bigger sensation where too small or too rapid, I don't really know. I'll continue to try though.

Since the intensive meditation w-e, my sitting meditation is surprisingly easier. I am more relaxed than I ever was and I have almost no pain. My mind still wander a lot but not much about everyday stuff, almost exclusively about meditation stuff, it seems. And I think I notice this more rapidly and can bring it back more easily and without frustration.

Thanks to you two !

RE: Was this some kind of equanimity or the 3rd ñana or ... ?
Answer
4/10/16 1:40 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
Martin:

I am really curious about a non drug induced A & P experience, it seems unbelievable to me.  


It happened to Kenneth.

Oh yeah, I can relate to his LSD experience ;)

I think this is a book I'll read emoticon

edit : it was a really nice read, I love his definitinon of the arahantship.