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Kellen's journey towards 2nd path

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Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/11/16 11:56 PM
After years of dealing primarily with conventional life (possibly reads: slacking), it's time to resolve to take on the 2nd cycle of insight.

Funny enough, the thought occurred to me recently that now is the time where I have enough time and stability to be working on getting towards second path, though I haven't been formally and consistently meditating in a long time. Simultaneously, it seems like the presence of cycling is becoming very obvious and annoying. The itch is kicking in, and the effects are hitting that threshold where it's just like... time to deal with it. But it reminds me of that adage, after stream entry, the dharma is doing you. 
I think I was in A&P territory when I had that thought, so maybe in a way it was like a resolution that the mind just kicked into effect.

But anyways, I did a little 15 minute sit earlier today, which wasn't so bad, but seemed to consist mostly of dissolution territory, with that hypnagogic, peripheral, spacing out, lulling, hard to focus quality. I was just thinking it was kind of a shit sit but I forget that 3rd V.J. can be that way. After the sit though, I found myself slowly becoming really anxious, getting this really unsettling feeling. Actually, that's kind of why I'm making this practice log; to channel some of that energy into an acknowledgement of where I'm at and to remind myself of what the long-term goal is in light of this transient experience of anxiety. But it came on quite strongly, that feeling of gut paranoia, the suffocating feeling in the chest, like I forgot about an important final. I was playing a multiplayer video game with a friend, and whenever I made a team mistake, I felt so anxious, like my friend was terribly mad at me, which I know he wasn't, and wouldn't be. I'm getting lots of vague but potent thoughts about the things wrong with my life, and feeling really nervous, like something bad is going to happen. I remind myself that though my life could always use improvement, the anxiety that goes along with the thoughts is most definitely cycling related. I'm just amazed at how strong the feeling came on. Usually the nana of fear is not this strong for me during cycling. Makes me nervous for what the later nanas could be like, but again, I'm ready and it's the right time to take on the challenge.

Did anyone else find that the nanas of the 3rd vipassana jhanas were more intense during post 1st, pre 2nd path? And in general, does anyone have anything relevant or anecdotal about their post 1st, pre 2nd experience that seems worth sharing? 

Thanks and cheers.

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/12/16 5:01 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Kellen:
Did anyone else find that the nanas of the 3rd vipassana jhanas were more intense during post 1st, pre 2nd path? 

Yes, dark night was quick, but harsh as fuck. 
And in general, does anyone have anything relevant or anecdotal about their post 1st, pre 2nd experience that seems worth sharing? 

It was super quick, like one month (thats with constant noting though).  I think my post 1st Review was actually longer than the 2nd path cycle.  My teacher at the time, Ron Crouch, told me that 2nd is practically just a post script to 1st.  

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/13/16 7:07 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
I'm resolving during every sit to meditate every day until I hit 2nd path. I'm also noting as often as I can think to do so during my waking hours, barring when I'm doing something engaging that seems to prevent being able to do so.

I did two sits today. They seem to be going very well. I found myself noting things fairly effortlessly. I'm doing choiceless noting. During my second sit, my stomach was grumbling the whole time, but it didn't throw me off at all. There is some sense of gung-ho-ness being absent. Distractions don't seem to discourage me; all sensations are part of the field and it seems silly to think of anything in that field being the wrong thing to happen during meditation.

I'm enjoying being able to directly look at where I feel my sense of self is. It's this sense of being in between my eyes, coupled with the physical sensations in that general area, with a slight visual image of myself, and the emotional state I'm in. It's impossible to get any more specific than that, and that's fine, since obviously I know I won't find a specific self. I feel very even keel. Distractions, hunger, unpleasant sensations: no problem. More of the field, seen to be impermanent. I typically don't like to try to look directly at the sense of self, and in the past, I found doing so to be frustrating and unproductive, but it feels like a good thing to be zeroing in on. So I guess I'm doing choiceless noting but also letting myself try to focus on that sense of self. 

It feels like I started my sits in equanimity, which isn't something I'm used to having happen in sits. Maybe it's because the noting I've been doing is putting me further ahead when I start meditating. I feel like my sits are going well and I'm focused and present and doing the technique well, but nevertheless, I didn't find myself going through the early nanas at all, which feels odd, but whatever. The advice of Nikolai, practice as though in equanimity, seems relevant. 

I'm enjoying the fact that my desire and efforts to get to 2nd path don't seem to directly correlate to my frustration and itch to get the thing done. In fact, the distinction between on the cushion meditation and noting seems to be virtually nonexistant. One just gives me a chance to fully commit to doing nothing but noting and noticing. There is no magical effect dependant on where I place my ass-cheeks. 

Feels good. I'm hoping my self-diagnosis of being in equanimity is correct, since pre-1st path, there was always a sense of struggle to maintain EQ as the baseline of sits, and even during equanimity, there was a big preoccupation with getting path. Now it seems like the burning desire to get 2nd path isn't really present. It seems doable. We'll see how this mindset holds up to the actual experience from now to 2nd. 

I got this!

Feedback always welcome. Will update when it seems relevant.

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/14/16 4:22 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
howdy kellen,
welcome back to the carnival.

i have gone through several phases of pretty long pretty hard DN mind states although where i am is almost impossible for me to pin down if anywhere.

i recently read culadasa's most excellent book, 'the mind illuminated' and recommend it highly.  i found it to be an excellent adjunct to MCTB.  it covers the same territory but focuses a bit more on the slow build of competencies.  it focuses on particular skills to be developed at different points in your development and completely eschews importance on time frames.

one of its claims is to make the path less bumpy.  could be.

in any case good luck with your new push and have fun.

tom

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/15/16 3:34 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
Thanks for the recommendation. I grabbed an e-copy of the book and paged through it a bit last night. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. What a great practice tool! It is a great companion to MCTB and other resources. I like the mind model presented in this book. It's thorough enough to be used as a working model for consciousness and awareness/attention as it pertains to practice, but also succient enough to be comprehensible. Asides that, there are so many great practice tools and theories. I particularly like the distinction between super-lite, lite, and luminous jhanas. I've noticed the distinction between jhanas, but always imagined them as some sort of gradient. I feel some truth to the way the author separates the three.

I just finished up a 20 minute sit. Despite my phone going off and having a cold which forced me to breathe through my mouth, I still managed to get 20 seconds or so of 1st jhana. Not a bad accomplishment given the circumstances and that I haven't practiced jhana in quite some time.

I also woke up and even before I was fully conscious, I was just automatically noting. So that's a good sign. I realize how often things like checking my phone and browsing social media are often times an impediment to continuing a noting practice, so I'm going to be more conscious about how often I tune out during such activities, and not use them as a filler for idle time.

All is going well!

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/15/16 3:39 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
I'm also finding that the narrative of "me" being the person going through an effort to get to the next path is very quiet and not pervasive. This is good in the sense that I can chill out about the whole thing and not feel like there is some spiritual narritive about my progress. But I'm also finding that there was some inherent motivation in that very feeling last path which drove me to practice quite a bit. So I find that I'm having to just choose to practice for the sake of doing so, rather than having that burning itch be my motivator. It certainly seems much more normal and ordinary to practice this way, which is a good thing. But it's also different in that it feels very non-linear and that the narrative of progress which kept me highly motivated in the past is gone. So now it's practice just for the sake of practice. Not for the sake of getting to a milestone where I'll finally be able to make sense of it all, but rather, for the sake of actually understanding my mind and how the sense of self comes into play, in this very moment. So there is much more personal accountability and need for self-motivation, but this mindstate feels much more realistic and about comprehending what is actually happening in this moment rather than banking on some spiritual milestone to make things clear (which in many ways, did occur at stream entry). 

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/15/16 3:48 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
If I had to self diagnose, I'd say I'm hopping between EQ and re-ob. Sometimes things feel effortless, observation of sensations is just naturally occurring on its own, things are not a big deal, all-inclusive awareness, etc... then sometimes I find my mind getting upset about lots of things and upset that I am getting upset, feeling frustrated that the mind has the tendency to do that, especially in contrast to the EQ mode of things.

I don't find myself going through the push to get from the 1st nana to EQ, in contrast to the pre-stream entry grind of lots of effort going into getting up to and maintaining EQ as a baseline, or even just getting to EQ in sits. This is surprising, as even though I'm really ramping up noting and vipassana sits, I haven't had a clear A&P experience since I resolved to go for 2nd path. It almost seems too easy, but I'm not going to complain. I also wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong and I haven't even been rising to the level of the A&P, but it genuinely does feel like I'm hitting EQ in sits and as a baseline, and switching between that and re-ob. Does this sounds possible or normal? I'm not really too concerned about it since I'm practicing as I should be. 

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/15/16 8:37 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Hello,
  
  I won't hazard a guess about where you are at especially since I am not really sure where I am at, but I would like to share some of my experience going through some of the same territory you might be going through.

I arrived at what I am pretty damm sure was stream entry around Halloweem 2013.  Somewhere around Christmas I crossed the AP of 2nd path. After that there was a week or so where meditation seemed kind of dark and then things smoothed out into what I was pretty sure was EQ.  I was almost dissapointed with how easy it seemed haha.  

After a few months of wallowing around in a state I took to be EQ with a few brushes with some rougher stuff I thought of as dips back into Re-ob I began to notice major waves of fear and anxiety hitting me when I was at work or just walking around.  It took a few weeks of that before I began to get my head around the idea that I had been luxuriating in the lower, mellower end of the dark night the whole time rather than soaring high in EQ, and the fear I was experiencing was the "fear" nana of the dark night.  I had been oscillating between dissolution and fear for months thinking I was in EQ and occasionally dropping down into re-ob.  

This wasn't the only time I mis-diagnosed myself en-route to 2nd path.  In fact, I've mis-diagnosed myself so relentlessly that at this point I maintain a pretty strong skepticism about where I think I am on the map.

 I think, for me, the problem may have been that the increased concentration abbilities I got after stream entry made it much easier for me to switch into smooth spacious pleasant types of mind states which could sort of mimic EQ.  I would maybe tweak and twist them a bit to get a rough facsimile of EQ, but it wasn't the real EQ.  

Right now I think I am in re-ob as there is a unprecedented (on this path) chaotic jagged roughness to things (during medititation) but who knows...

Anyways, that's been some of my experience of going towards 2nd path, not saying it matches yours, but just thought I would share..

Good luck!

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/15/16 11:25 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Mind over easy:
If I had to self diagnose, I'd say I'm hopping between EQ and re-ob.
This is how it presented for me. Wake up in Re-Ob and sit and get to eq, stop and slide back down then sit again and get back to EQ again each day.
Mind over easy:
Sometimes things feel effortless, observation of sensations is just naturally occurring on its own, things are not a big deal, all-inclusive awareness, etc... then sometimes I find my mind getting upset about lots of things and upset that I am getting upset, feeling frustrated that the mind has the tendency to do that, especially in contrast to the EQ mode of things.
Yep, that about sums it up. Be happy its not worse emoticon
Mind over easy:

I don't find myself going through the push to get from the 1st nana to EQ, in contrast to the pre-stream entry grind of lots of effort going into getting up to and maintaining EQ as a baseline, or even just getting to EQ in sits. This is surprising, as even though I'm really ramping up noting and vipassana sits, I haven't had a clear A&P experience since I resolved to go for 2nd path. It almost seems too easy, but I'm not going to complain. I also wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong and I haven't even been rising to the level of the A&P, but it genuinely does feel like I'm hitting EQ in sits and as a baseline, and switching between that and re-ob. Does this sounds possible or normal? I'm not really too concerned about it since I'm practicing as I should be. 
It took me a couple weeks to get from 1st nana to EQ. It then took 8 months or so of Re-Ob to EQ daily to get to second path. There was a few slips down to A&P but mostly I used the jhanas to move up back to EQ quickly.
This is exactly how things went for me.
Notice much as you can in as much detail as you can and note it if you need to, to keep you on track.
Happy to chat if you need some motivation along the way.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/16/16 7:02 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
@DW - your descriptions mirror very accurately my tracks through the dn-eq-dn cycling-

@moe - i liked culadasa's mind models very much too.  they take into consideration things like fractals without having to name them that or to get into the possible side trackiness that can entail.   his working definition of awareness and attention is highly functional and a really valuable addition to practical use in meditation and general observation.  my own personal take / definition of awareness differs from his but nevertheless, i dropped my definition to fully explore his model and found it extremely helpful.

i got the book and it sits on the top shelf with another book often mentioned here.

good work

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/16/16 7:39 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I'm so appreciative for a community where I can get the sense that all these things are normal and real. It's just so far out sometimes! I think the fact that others are getting this stuff done is a huge factor in enabling progress. It CAN be done, and it IS being done!


Yesterday's last sit was pretty interesting. I've been trying to work with the sensations around my head, but also work to include all the sensations I can when I feel I'm sitting in EQ. As I said, it feels like the sense of "me" is tangled up in some fleeting images of myself, the sensations around my head, and my emotional state. In trying to really let go and experience the sensations in their entirety, I keep getting fleeting moments where it feels like the sense of me is really absent, which last for a few seconds at a time, but then it comes back online. It's interesting to watch this happen. I don't know if it's of any significance but the practice continues on regardless.

RE: Kellen's journey towards 2nd path
Answer
6/16/16 8:53 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Just did another vipassana sit. In general, I'm doing choiceless noting and noticing, but I'm kind of letting the breadth of attention dictate what I focus on. It feels natural at this point to take a kind of all-inclusive focus. During and after the sit (right now), I'm fairly cognizant of that sense of self which again, consists of my emotional state, a faint visual image of my face, and the physical sensations around my head. But I'm also cognizant of my surroundings, and awareness seems to be able to contain them both at the same time. There is that sense of what feels like this-side, and what feels like that side, but the point of distinction within the field of awareness is unclear. The space separating the sense of self and the sensations of sight and hearing seems unclear. It all seems to be happening in the same space, though it still feels like there is this-side and that-side. Admittedly, there's something slightly unsettling about this, and I'm not sure why that is the case. Given the unsettling feeling, I'd usually assume dissolution or fear, but in third V.J., the sense of this-side is never this clear, so I feel like I can safely exclude that. Again, not that it matters particularly given that I'm continuing to practice no matter where I'm at on the map. I'm just sitting with this odd sense of this-side and that-side, steeping in the observation of sensations, gently looking at why there is a distinction between this-side and that-side, though they both seem to be contained in the same space.

Edit: definitely a fairly trippy and dreamlike state.

Edit: I'm able to notice the mental image of things occuring, for example, I just closed my eyes for a little bit, then swallowed, and it was clearly seen how there is a mental visual impression of the action, helping to contribute to the sense of self, and the sense of being the observer of self. I have to emphasize, this feels pretty far out.