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Andreas' Practice Log
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10/31/16 10:03 AM
I've been meditating for about 8 years now. Mostly twice a day for 30 to 60 minutes each. Had phases with +4 hour sittings for multiple weeks in an almost retreat like setting. I'm not sure where I am at the moment but my guess is that most of my meditations I'm somewhere in stage 2 (Cause & Effect) or stage 3 (Three Characteristics) with occasional pushes into A&P territory. Sometimes I feel like I'm endlessly cycling through subtle dark night cycles in normal life which usually last from a few days to weeks. I think it doesn't matter too much as I am still in the process of learning about the stages.

For most of the past 3 years I've been trying to ramp up my concentration practice with some success. But I feel that it's time now to focus more on noting and make it to Equanimity and beyond. So without further ado I will describe my experiences in daily meditation in this log...

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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10/31/16 12:14 PM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
After reading a bit in Ron Crouch's old practice journal I begin to wonder if I'm not already deep in DN. I experience the same grimaces that Ron experienced and Kenneth Folk notes that this is DN territory (especially Misery and Disgust). However, I often experience them without having any conscious experience of A&P stuff.

Yesterday while falling asleep I noticed some very brief but obvious flash of light before my eyes. During the night I woke up twice and half a sleep and noted a small shift in perception from the watcher, who perceives an outside world to a consciousness that is the source of everything that happens. It's hard to explain and was rather subtle. However, it felt significant enough to mention it here.

A short description of today's meditation session... sat for 60 min in the evening. Facial kriyas/grimaces started pretty much right away. They kept coming  back during the session which let's me conclude that I moved up and down the DN stages (maybe even lower). My concentration wasn't to good to begin with and I had a few moments where I wasn't too far from falling asleep. Most noting was spent on bodily sensations and the passing of thoughts. The latter usually invokes a feeling of being pulled down or through my face/eyes into the room in front of me. At the end of the session I felt quite aware and energetic (maybe Equanimity?).

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/1/16 9:48 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Had another sit yesterday late at night. Again it started out with the facial kriyas. Awareness was pretty steady. After going through multiple DN cycles (?) things got more energetic and the kriyas intensified. Then I arrived at a point where things cooled down a bit and my head started to move left and right, up and down. Starting mild and getting more extreme everytime these movements came back. At first it was just a mild and slow turn from left to right to up to down. Then it became more of stretch, staying in extremer positions for a while then moving fast to another side. After a while I felt that all this is not leading anywhere and a very tangible frustration and tiredness swept over me. Unfortunately this combination was too much for me and I stopped investigating it, would probably have been a good opportunity. But I'm sure I will have another one in the future.

At night I woke up with a feeling of fear and terror imagining all kinds of terrible things that might happen to people I deeply care about. If that was induced by meditation or not, that I don't know.

In daily life noting practice really kicks in and awareness during daily routines becomes more and more prevalent. New is my hightened awareness of intentions (e.g. wanting to stand up, open the door, scratch my head etc.)

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/1/16 5:09 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
There can be these kinds of adjustments in Three Characteristics, so it isn't necessarily 100% DN. What has been your "peak" experience while meditating? Any other events like trauma/drugs cause a big experience in the past?


 

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/1/16 9:37 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
There can be these kinds of adjustments in Three Characteristics, so it isn't necessarily 100% DN. What has been your "peak" experience while meditating? Any other events like trauma/drugs cause a big experience in the past?

Hello shargol,

thanks for your hint. As a peak experience I would describe the first sit a few years ago when the kriyas started. It involved wild shaking and movements in various parts of my body and the subsequent feeling of a watcher that is distant from all these movements. Even while I talked I felt strongly that I watched the talk happening. It was followed by weeks of intense facial kriyas and tai chi like movements of my arms and legs. I'm not sure if that counts as an A&P event but it sure was a very special and memorable event for me.

I might add that I'm rather agnostic on the emotional side of all those meditation phenomenas. I make grimaces that remind me of an angry and wild animal with sounds and bite movements. Then often followed by movements that remind me of grief, sadness and disgust. And sometimes ecstatic looking faces and internal shivering moving up through the body. But all without an obvious emotional response.

Other notable experiences are an extreme heaviness inside the front of my body like my arms and chest where made out of heavy concrete. But no traumatic or drug induced peak experiences aside from the feeling of getting mad/losing myself after a night with lots of booze and only a few hours of sleep.

What do you think? Is any of this A&P or DN stuff or rather lower stages?

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/1/16 10:04 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Honestly, I would guess DN from the symptoms, but interesting that you haven't had a big firework A&P. Sounds like you have been meditating for a long time, so that would also suggest passing the A&P at some point and this is DN. I would go with your original statement -- you are working through DN and into EQ and want to make to EQ and beyond.

Noting is a good idea. If you become more concentrated, allow yourself to dwell in that state without guilt. But if things are busy, then definitely note. Note at least on every outbreath or more frequently if you want.

The big trick for EQ is to simply note that all this stuff is happening on its own, almost like a purification process. When it seems to hit close to home (misery, fear) if you can find enough awareness to note it as a "objective state" : there is fear, I am aware of the fear, if I'm aware of it, I'm not afraid but rather I'm aware of fear. That sort of thing can really help during the Dark Night.

The other thing is to "divide and conquer" when a state seems very powerful: there is fear, but there is the tingling, there is the cold sensation, there is the muscle contractions in the stomach, there is the feeling of nausea, there is the feeling of tightness in the throat, there is the thoughts about what could happen in the future. Note all of the pieces of the big overwhelming state.

Good luck and best wishes!

 

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/1/16 10:17 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thank you very much, shargrol. Those tips are really helpful as I am currently thinking about how to get to EQ and what to do next.

Yes, it always struck me as odd that I never experienced strong emotions aside from the feeling that something big is about to happen. I remember reading somewhere that some people experience e.g. nimittas only in the body without any lights, emotions etc. Maybe I am one of those types.

Will give an update as soon as something new happens...

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/1/16 1:36 PM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Another 60 min sit. Starting with facial kriyas right away. During the sit they became more extreme in terms of energy, stretch and rapidness, almost feeling like attacks. Each of these bouts was followed by a period where things calmed down pretty fast and I felt calm. Most of them were accompanied by a feeling of "eternal" compressions/contractions. My outbreaths became very pronounced and almost to the point of complete exhaustion. Breathing in was accompanied by a feeling of effort and unpleasentness. I felt like a squeezed orange.

The kriyas chaned from angry-like expressions to slow head movements and facial expressions of wild rage (grinding teeth, pinched eyes, wide mouth and "air bites"). Each time this calmed down I wondered if I had entered new territory. But then they started again. When I followed shargrol's advice and noted that all this is happening on its own the tension loosened a bit and it seemed like I was progressing. The calm periods expanded and it felt like what Ron is describing in this post: various songs repeating and playing in the background of my mind, random thoughts etc. Might this be Re-Observation (see my next post)?
Then I remember having a fictitious argument with a stranger and got very upset with her (Misery? Disgust?). I'm not sure if it was before or after this extended period of unspectacular calmness.

At some point I became aware that every little body sensation was accompanied by emotions like hope, expectation, frustration and resistance. When I started focusing solely on these, things loosened up even furter. Somewhere in there was a glimpse of acceptance (possible door to EQ?). Suddenly I felt like sinking deeper into a state of immediacy where the veil of conceptualization was lifted and the present moment became more intimate. It was like the watcher in me was moved up front into the eyes without too much thinking and interpreting left. Then my eyes automatically opened, looked/streched to all sides and I somehow had the feeling that this was it for this session.

Afterwards I felt calm but also distracted, noting became an effort and I was often lost in thoughts. There was also an underlying feeling of fear that expressed in thoughts about personal attacks from strangers. But since I was somewhat tired and distracted it was hard to grasp and investigate.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/1/16 1:20 PM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Regarding no strong emotions/reactivity:  I'm kinda like that, too. I've been calling it "being a member of the no-big-wow club." Even when I have big experiences, and I've had them for sure, things go back to normal in a few minutes or half hour. In a way, I'm jealous of people who have had wild paths, but in another way, I'm very happy to be in the no-big-wow club. emoticon

Re
Answer
11/1/16 1:22 PM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
The linked Ron Crouch post in my last account was followed by a post by Kenneth Folk where he basically says that Ron is beyond the Knowledge of Fear and in Re-Observation. I'll take that as a working hypotheses for where I am. His advice is to make friends with it without "the intention to avoid, short-circuit, or "get through" it."

I'll post this as a reminder for my coming session.s

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/1/16 1:32 PM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Regarding no strong emotions/reactivity:  I'm kinda like that, too. I've been calling it "being a member of the no-big-wow club." Even when I have big experiences, and I've had them for sure, things go back to normal in a few minutes or half hour. In a way, I'm jealous of people who have had wild paths, but in another way, I'm very happy to be in the no-big-wow club. emoticon

Mind if I join the club? I can totally relate to that. There were times when I almost wished for some totally weird and scary multiple years long Kundalini ordeal. And even having wild body movements (which can be quite extraordinary) became pretty boring and frustrating. It's very nice to have something like the Progress of Insight at hand that puts all these things into perspective.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/2/16 11:05 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Another 60 min sit yesterday. The kriyas and the inner energy were quite intense. I tried to get to acceptance mode. After almost an hour things again calmed down and the "aggressive" kriyas became more smooth and invoved mainly slow turning and stretchings of the neck. At the end their was a lot of frustration as there was nothing new happening. Maybe Desire for Deliverance?

The pattern that established in the last few sessions goes like this: contractions of the facial musculature interspersed by moments of relative calmness. Getting more energy loaded everytime this cycle repeated itself. Then kriyas that reminded me of wild rage/anger and finally one's that seemed like disgust. Then smooth turnings and stretches of the head and neck. After that my eyebrows raised and orgasmic like grimaces appeared but withou any emotions. Finally eyes opening and stretching to different sides.

Today mindfulness and noting were pretty strong until some unforseen minor irritations in my daily routine happened. That's when I turned really sour, grumpy and aggressive. I am curious what this will mean for the meditation sessions to come...

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/3/16 3:42 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Yesterday I had some subtle but interesting experiences while meditating. Again the session started with facial contractions. But instead of growing in intensity and changes in appearance the smooth head/neck turnings started quite early into the session. Still the contractions came back. This time I decided that I would fully participate in them without standing on the sideline. It felt like jumping into a pool instead of just watching the water from the edge of the pool and it seemed to have some effect. The whole process of usually aggressive facial contractions smoothed out pretty quick and at about 30 min in there were almost only smooth moves and stretches of my head. Sometimes even non-emotional smiles that came out of nowhere.

An interesting thing was to see how the contractions seemed to get rid of blockages/were loosening things up. The contractions often start with movements and energy in the eyes that somehow translate into muscle movements and contractions. As things cooled down these eye movements, which especially happen when I focus on passings/endings of thoughts, instead translated into smooth head movements and stretches. As if all obstructions had been removed and energy was now free to flow.

To push this process even further I started noting pleasent/unpleasent/neutral. This led me to some cool, distant and very accepting feeling (EQ?). At one point I thought about how long this is going to take. I noted this upcoming frustration and reminded myself that this is a process I can't and should not control. This is rather about becoming familiar with this stage. This led to further relaxation, albeit I became a little bit lax with my noting.

Felt very calm and relaxed after the meditation. The anger and stress I felt earlier today seemed like a very distant thing to me.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/3/16 11:56 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
The last 30min sit felt subtle but significant. First thing I noticed is a shift in my noting practice. Whereas I was very focused on the words and the noting itself I have now become more aware of the experience itself. It feels very effective. The sit started out with rather intense and energetic grimaces and even grunting. But these calmed down pretty quickly and the usual smooth head turns began. It felt like I was moving closer and came more into contact with them moment and what is actually happening. Like I said in one of my posts above it seemed like the veil of conceptualization was lifted a bit.

Another thing that happened in the last few sessions was that I became more aware of the feeling of space in front of me. This time I realized that the tensions that come up during meditation usually only take up a small part of that space. This makes them less irritating and somehow puts them into a different perspective.

Furthermore things like expectation, hope, intentions and frustration become more obvious. After the session I felt elevated and subtly enthusiastic.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/4/16 3:16 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Yesterday's late night sit was rather calm. Grimaces were mild and smooth head turns started pretty fast into the session. Again I tried to watch feelings of frustration, expectation etc. and pleasant/unpleasant/neutral. At times these qualities seemed like snowflakes, the moment I looked at them they melted away. Sometimes translating into a physical component like an eye or head movement. In the last 20 min or so of the sit things became very calm and I almost had to apply effort to find anything to note at all. It seemed like coarse components and obvious movements of perception were reduced. Then I tried to fit the experience to what I have read about EQ and tried to perceive reality in great breadth, precision and clarity. Which worked to a small degree. But it still left me unsatisfied and bored in the remainder of the sit. The power of expectations....

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/4/16 12:45 PM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
This evening's meditation was relatively dull and slow compared to the recent days. No kriyas, no great discoveries. Main reason for that was my tiredness. It made it pretty hard to be aware and to note. Everytime I tried to tuck my awareness to an object, the clarity faded and went away. After about half an hour I could make out kind of a contour of my tiredness (mainly a feeling in my eyes and around my very faint periphery) and I was able to keep my awareness there. Noting, however, was still difficult as I lacked the energy to keep the motor running. I guess sometimes all you can do is show up and sit with whatever is there.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/4/16 5:03 PM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Very true, but also notice that you were aware of:
dullness
slowness
comparing throughts
tiredness
difficulty
trying
fading
>gone<
time thoughts
feeling
sensing
holding/controlling
difficulty
fatigue
judging thought
resignation

So awareness was still pretty good during your sit. See, that's the tricky thing. Awareness is pretty much always aware, but when we identify with only certain forms of experience and call that awareness (clairity) then we suffer when there isn't that form of experience. When we are able to be mindful of things that aren't clarity, a whole world of meditation opens up.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/5/16 4:30 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
So awareness was still pretty good during your sit. See, that's the tricky thing. Awareness is pretty much always aware, but when we identify with only certain forms of experience and call that awareness (clairity) then we suffer when there isn't that form of experience. When we are able to be mindful of things that aren't clarity, a whole world of meditation opens up.

Thank you, Shargrol, that's exactly the pep talk I needed. You know I'm currently very insecure about where I am on the path. This is what I had already drafted before I read your post:

Yesterday, another 90 min late evening sit. Meditation was very calm and quiet. Only view not very intense kriyas. After a while I arrived at a deeper concentration state, in which I could recognize many mind moments, probably as many as I have never been able to experience before. Nevertheless, above all there was this feeling of unsatisfactoriness (which I took note of, of course), the wish to experience things even clearer, perceive even more movements and mind moments, especially when it came to seeing behind feelings like frustration and expectation. Despite all this clarity and attention to detail everything seemed quite unspectacular und unsatisfying. There was this desire to move on.

I feel uncertain about where I am on the path. Sometimes I think I made have made it to 2nd path, sometimes I think I'm stuck in the first three stages since day one.

I remember Kenneth and Daniel saying that it is a rather sure sign for stream entry when you can access the jhanas by will. Well, I think I may be able to do that to a certain degree. Thing is, there are no emotional signs like bliss, rapture etc. It happens mostly in the body and feels rather unspectacular. When I sit down and think of a jhana, a notable shift is happening. First of all there's a contraction of the facial musculature/grimace (maybe my personal form of a nimitta?). Then a feeling of sinking deeper and being pulled into the space in front of me. Then there is a cozy calmness and higher resolution in the mind. However, this all seems rather unstable and soft and very little resembling to what KF describes in this post. I can still hear and imagine my surroundings, there are still thoughts happening now and then. And I still can't keep every desired object in mind, e.g. still have trouble to experience the breath from begin to end in all its details.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/5/16 2:49 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
When we are able to be mindful of things that aren't clarity, a whole world of meditation opens up.

This sentence really resonates with me. I will keep it in my mind and heart and see what's happening... Thank you.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/6/16 9:51 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
It's funny how fast things can change. While my last post from yesterday was still filled with frustration I now feel like something important and good is going on. I even sometimes think I might have completed a whole cycle but as before I am rather uncertain about it.

Meditation has calmed down a lot. I experience the kriyas/grimaces rarely and only accompanied with a succeeding rather intense deepening of my concentration state (e.g. when I try to access the jhanas at will). In daily life I feel like a weight has been lifted. Whenever negative emotions and mind states, like boredom, impatience, expectation etc., come up I look at them, note them and they disappear (the aforementioned snowflake effect). In general it feels like these states have much less power over me, like they've become more insubstantial. There's some unagitated excitement in me. If these changes last will probably be revealed in the next few days and weeks.

This morning's meditation was very calm. Whereas I started my recent meditations with noting of mainly bodily feelings, I somehow now felt inclined to note hearing/sounds. I always had a hard time doing this as sounds always came to me as a whole package and it's difficult for me to note them as seperated mind moments. However, it seems to work much better now as my whole concentration has obviously deepened.
After a few minutes I became sleepy but not too much. Then my concentration increased. And at some point I find myself in a fictitious argument with a stranger. After I note that, my concentration increases even more. Then the thought comes up to get even deeper into meditation/concentration and the moment I thought that, there's this sinking feeling and the kriyas again (nimitta?) It feels like leaving some coarser parts of experience behind. After some minutes there's a very subtle feeling of enthusiasm or joy.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/7/16 9:41 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Some other things I forgot to mention in my last post:
1. Meditation now usually starts with my face making one short grimace and a feeling of sinking deeper. I wonder if that is an indication for A&P right at the beginning and hence possible preceding stream entry.
2. Since I started this blog I can (and wish to) sit for longer periods now adding up to about 2-3 hours/day (sign for EQ?)
3. I need less sleep.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
Answer
11/7/16 8:30 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
I just reread Daniel's chapters on Fruition and Path and what I read there sounds a lot like what I am experiencing recently. The feeling that something has been completed, the feeling of being special, a feeling of subtle joy and gratitude etc. And I also recognized something that Ron describes as the impermanence door of frution in his journal.

As Kenneth further points out in the days after a path one can to a certain degree decide whether one wants to stay in review or go to the next path. In my last sessions I felt that some of the feelings I was missing (joy, bliss) are slowly breaking cover. So assuming I really have attained 1st path I will try to set the intention for review as I think there's a lot to learn from this, e.g. becoming more familiar with the different stages.

Second thing I want to do is try to be aware of subsequent frutions as KF describes here.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
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11/9/16 10:34 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Here are some observations I made while trying to willfully access different stages. Although many of them feel pretty intense and involuntary, some feel rahter faint and I'm not sure if expectation isn't playing tricks on me here. I'm not even sure if willfully accessing all of these stages is possible. The observations will have yet to be confirmed by accessing them naturally, so I take them with a grain of salt for the time being.

  • Dissolution: start with kriya that I identified as possible nimitta: contraction of the face with a feeling of being pulled down or out through my eyes.
  • Fear: Light, energetic feeling in the head. Inner and light outer shivering starting from neck upwards.
  • Misery: A feeling moving up from the throat to the front of my face like shortly before one starts to cry. Wings of my nose widening.
  • Disgust: Pretty obvious facial grimaces of disgust and resistance
  • Desire for Deliverance: A bodily feeling of urgency and "moving forward" in a physical sense in my solar plexus, breast and especially head. The feeling is mixture of pulsating, pressure and tingling sensations. Heightened awareness of the heart beat.
  • Re-Observation: Not clear yet, but seems to start with kriya that I identified as possible nimitta (see Dissolution)
  • Low EQ: A stable, calm and somehow clear feeling in my eyes. Like my sight has stabilized.
  • High EQ: Like low EQ but with more calmness and less agitation.
  • Conformity: Feeling of settling down/of moving the center of gravity to my lower abdomen and buttocks
  • Fruition: Strong defocusind or moving up/right of my eyes

The transitions between the stages are either accompanied by a kriya (facial contraction and energetic down- or outpulling of the eyes) and/or by a feeling of sinking/pulling forward especially in my face and chest.

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
Answer
11/12/16 3:06 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
I had a crash and hangover the day before yesterday. Meditation was a struggle and although a lot of the symptoms showed I felt somehow lost and disoriented trying to make my experiences fit into what I have read about the stages. This proved to be very frustrating and I went to bed with feelings of failure, frustration, unsatisfactoriness and doubt. Unfortunately I somehow bought into it and was not very good at investigating those feelings.

However, yesterday this dissolved into a rather relaxed attitude and a very nice meditation in the evening. First of all, the constant guessing about which stage I might be in fell away. Second, I got back from focusing on a narrow part of my experience to free style noting, i.e. noting every 1/2 to 2 seconds and making sure I only noted AFTER the experience and not before. That was very effective and the awareness survived beyond the session.

I also turned the analyzing process around and looked at what is actually there: What appearances/symptoms repeat themselves in almost every recent meditation session? And instead of relying solely on other people's categorizations, pretend that there are none and I'm the first one to ever explore this. I came up with the follwing observations:
  • 1. stage - kriyas/facial contraction: usually starting right after I close my eyes.
  • 2. stage - head/neck movements: usually starting while I watch thoughts dissolve/fade away. The left physical energy translates into eye movements which translate into the head/neck movements and stretches from side to side, up and down.
    • 2.2 sub-stage - head circling: the movements start to get smoother and are more like describing circles
  • 3. stage - kriya moment w/o facial contraction: it feels like the kriyas start again but instead of grimaces there's just this strong feeling of moving forward through the face. Accompanied by greater clarity and lifting of the "conceptual mist" surrounding my experience (i.e. less interpretation, more direct experience). This also seems to be a good place to start with what I understand by Kenneth Folk's 2nd gear practice: investigating the feeling of an I, asking "Who am I"

RE: Andreas' Practice Log
Answer
11/14/16 11:25 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Some new things have emerged in my last two meditations. I still more or less go through the above mentioned phases: kriyas >> head/neck movements >> kriya moments w/o facial contraction. But there's something new happening. First, precision and detail of my noting and observing have definitely improved. Since yesterday I've been mostly watching and noting thoughts, their fading and their absence. This has proven quite powerful in the past and it is again now. After almost every fading I have some sort of eye movement which translates either into grimaces, neck/head movements, a feeling of sinking/being sucked into the space in front of me or a mixture of these. The feeling of sinking/being sucked in is lately often accompanied by a pre-ecstatic/pre-orgasmic feeling which is mostly physical with only a slight hunch of what it might look like emotionally once it comes to full blossom. Sometimes I'm even able to reproduce it to some extent willingly.
There's also this getting deeper and deeper into the present moment and lifting the veil of conceptual thinking. It still feels blocked but also like it's slowly finding its way through.

2nd gear practice also has come to a slightly different level. It seems like my mind is moving on to some finer levels of investigation. Inspired by Ron's journal I started to note the me/mine quality of different feelings and perceptions. And I begin to see that every felt or thought answer to the question "Who am I?" is just another feeling, just another thought that vanishes the moment I look into it.