what was that??

Squee e, modified 11 Years ago.

what was that??

Posts: 4 Join Date: 6/18/10 Recent Posts
So, I've just came back from a 10-Day retreat, where, influenced by what I've read here, I practiced noting. I had some interesting experiences I'm not sure about and I hope you could help me figure it out. I added a longer description here, but if you want to cut to the heart of the matter, I've put it under the bolded title emoticon

A bit of background: I've been practicing for three years now, and this was my fifth retreat. I have been "enjoying" the Dark Night for quite some time. I've had no bhanga experience and hardly and A&P experiences, not to mention a recognizable A&P event, but the emotional reactions (fear, doubt, disgust, desire to renunciate) and characteristics of physical sensations (the donut, as Daniel puts it) have been very Dark Nighty. Last December I had my first recognizable A&P experience, a loop of force of energy of immense pleasure going up and down my body and waking me from sleep. Some weeks ago I had two such consecutive events in sleep at home.

Anyways, here's more or less what happened this last retreat:

Day 1-3:
Getting used to noting, which I had begun practicing at home a few weeks before. Dark night, with constant doubt about my ability to do this technique. Noted doubt many times...

Day 4:
Sensations become more sharp and less hazy, I feel like a stone is lifted of my chest, I'm peaceful and confident and my doubt is gone. I spend most of the day in sitting in strong determination with no pain. I couldn't understand Daniel's discussion of formations, and seemed to experience nothing like what I could understand, so maybe this was not equanimity, but I took it then, and still do now, to be Equanimity. In a session in my room, lying down, I begin having energy traveling through both my arms and my neck, top of the head and higher spine in great speed. After sometime the arms feel dull/burning and the inner part of the elbow is burning hot, staying like this minutes after I stop mediating. My head is bobbing up and down, or at least it feels so, from the energy traveling in it. This continues into the night, and I hardly sleep.

Day 5:
Day 4 energy thing repeats itself a couple of times when I'm in sessions on my bed. In the hall, I'm moving between DN and equanimity.
At night, a move from DN to equanimity. I then lose myself in thought, or doze off, and suddenly wake to have a strong burst of energy shooting out of my body into the air. Kind of like the X-men's Cyclop eye thingie, but shooting from my entire front. I take it to be a A&P event. After this I can hardly concentrate and can hardly find sensations on the body.

Day 6:

Title
I experience Bangha, and another sort of experience where I feel my body to be empty from the inside. Throughout the day I still have the burning in my hands and energy in spine/top of the head. At some point the energy (vibrations) begins to flow from my legs to my head, through the spine. I can feel the energy spilling from the spine to my brain, just gushing into it. The brain is just a mass of vibrations and energy. My noting is zooming quickly all around, being drawn again and again to the point contact between the spine and the head. The I give a small mental "push", and I begin to be drawn / sucked / shrink into somewhere. My heart is racing. There are a few phases to this sucking. I get sucked until everything falls around me. Then I somehow materialize back. I feel my body as very cool. It seems my toes reappear first, then the rest of me. Throughout this process I am (a) conscious, (b) thinking, (c) my heart is beating, (d) I can hear the air conditioning unit. As I rematerialize, I again find that I can hardly focus on meditation. I try to note but I can't concentrate on more than 3-5 notes in a row, and most of my body is just unresponsive. I don't know if its an after effect of the event or just my excitement about it. I can't sleep most of the night, and not meditate. My head alternates between pain, pounding and vibrating (and this happens again after every later shrinking event). I feel fresh, elated, happy, etc. But I can't say that it's because of the event or because I think it to be a huge thing, perhaps fruitation. At the same time, from now on, I keep rolling in thoughts on whether this was fruitation. Before the course I prepared only by reading carefully Mahasi and Daniel's descriptions of the path up to equanimity, because I could not imaging that I'd be able to cross it. So now, without knowing what fruitation is like, I am constantly thinking of whether this was it or not. This keeps preoccupying me during the next days until day 10 or so.

At night, I again have the same energy flowing from spine to brain and throughout the body. My attention again begins to shrink, but it seems to stop dead just before shrinking into nothing and reappearing. I feel like it's not done, and unlike before, the energy is still zooming throughout my body.

I now realize I am kind of mixing the days, as I had no paper and pencil and had ended up using the pencil for the interview list along with a variety of paper materials. So I have nothing listed for day 8.

Day 9:
Goenka gives his instruction on how to proceed after bhanga, describing an opening of the whole body, the flow in the spine and the ability to pinpoint any point in the body with precision and get a sensation there, limited to that area, instantly. I am lying in my room and again get all the energy flowing around, and suddenly it clicks and I understand that what I had before was what he describes, but that his description ends with the spine being open and not with the shrinking event that I had. I have energy gushing into the brain again as before but it does not click into shrinking. I meet with the assistant teacher and tell him that I am experiencing what Goenka talked about earlier. He tells me to continue opening the body. I tell him that I did a day before, and that the energy flowed from my spine to my brain. He asks what happened then and I tell him I shrank. He tells me that meditation often features weird events and that I should just accept it and continue as usual. After the interview we have a group sitting. I meditate and as I reach equanimity things begin to go super quick. I don't get the energies flowing, but as I noting increases in speed shrinking happens again. It is not as forceful as the first event but I am again disoriented by it.

To make things short, I experience this shrinking twice more by noting super quickly until the end of the course. I have now come back home and sat for one hour and could not tap it again. I read the descriptions of fruitation in Daniel's book and half of what I experienced seems to fit and half does not. I could cycle through the stages pretty well during the course, but I find it hard now. It is also not always crystal clear to me what stage I am in. During the course I felt like I could will myself from A&P to DN to EQ, but I am not 100% I can identify these perfectly. At other times, the cycling was crystal clear and I could actually feel my mind shift and the experience with it. The shrinking event itself seemed a big deal, and I don't think it could be A&P since it comes both after Goenka's description of post-bhanga and because I was able to repeat it through fast noting. However, it does not seem to fit Daniel's description of fruitation since there was definitely consciousness and a sense of time, and I had no insights into any of the 3Cs.

So what is this? how do I proceed? as usual?

Thanks!
Dan K, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 33 Join Date: 5/15/10 Recent Posts
I'm not convinced that this is anything other than A&P/dissolution. The temporal order of insight cycles is not always clear or straightforward, especially if you are mixing investigation techniques. Keep practicing. It sounds like you are doing well. Don't obsess about matching your progress to the maps.
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Bruno Loff, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
If you are referring to a sensation of shrinking in size (as if you became smaller and smaller in a very large space), I get this sometimes, although I don't know exactly how to reproduce it. It's not stream entry, though.
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Lilliputian hallucinations! Commonly caused by use of dissociatives, especially dextromethorphan. Perhaps the neural mechanisms are similar -- dissociatives seem to have some interesting connections to jhanic phenomena. Over at The Baptist's Head, there's a report of ketamine inducing formless realms in some pretty advanced meditators with solid experience of all the classic jhanas. Also, dextromethorphan use can be very jhanic, with each of the 4 form jhanas represented, roughly dose-dependently.

It's quite common for the Three Characteristics nana and the first parts of the A&P nana to involve some pretty weird bodily feelings and sensations of things being larger or smaller than usual, or other such spatial perception mishaps. That represents the transition from the late 1st vipassana jhana into the early and mid 2nd vipassana jhana. (Territory which is especially well-represented with dextromethorphan use, oddly enough.)

Anyway, all that impractical speculation aside, it's the type of thing meditators commonly experience, much like random A&P things happening when you're trying to sleep.
Squee e, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 4 Join Date: 6/18/10 Recent Posts
Hey guys,

Thanks for the answers. The shrinking was not a bodily thing at all. I didn't feel my body shrink or change in anyway. It was only my mind, my consciousness, that shrank and got sucked into one-pointedness or whatever. It didn't disappear though. And then it spread again so I could feel my toes, and then the rest of reality. Anyways, I am familiar with the bodily-felt shrinking effects you mention, but this was totally a different experience.
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
That sounds very interesting. If I really had to guess, I'd say it was some sort of unusual 6th jhana experience, where instead of being boundless and pervasive, consciousness was small and pointlike. But that's a pretty out-there speculation, and I'd take it with multiple grains of salt.
Dan K, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 33 Join Date: 5/15/10 Recent Posts
What would you call the object of jhana 6 if it was point-like? 1st jhana.
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Touchdown!

So would you call that some sort of jhanic arc going downwards, from a wide and panoramic sense of consciousness to a tiny point-like sense of consciousness?
Dan K, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 33 Join Date: 5/15/10 Recent Posts
I just reread squee's post more carefully. I am maybe familiar with what he's talking about. I don't think it's 1st jhana. It's something I can do in 4th jhana territory. The 4th jhana object is seen to shrink to a point, and simultaneously there is a feeling of spaciousness, like the point is being looked at from surrounding 3-D space. It shrinks, shrinks, shrinks, then *pop*, it goes supernova. It leaves a nice spacious afterglow. Does that resonate with your experiences, squee?
C C C, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
"What a curious feeling!" said Alice as she began to shrink, and shrink, and shrink. (L.Carroll)

Sorry, that's the limit of my contribution. emoticon
Squee e, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 4 Join Date: 6/18/10 Recent Posts
Yep, Dan K, that sounds exactly like that. 4th jhana then. Can I infer from this that this was my first time in that jhana? Or only that I now experienced it a bit more profoundly?
Dan K, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 33 Join Date: 5/15/10 Recent Posts
The fact that you experienced this suggest that you have access to the first four jhanas. Your experience was not samatha though. It was insight driven. Next time you are meditating, try to jam all your energy into a tiny point. Put all your effort into it. See if you can replicate the event this way, or see if anything else interesting happens.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Like the man said, A&P to D.

Energy in your body and you like it: not Equanimity.

D
Squee e, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 4 Join Date: 6/18/10 Recent Posts
Great, thanks guys!
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Jorge Freddy Martinez, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: what was that??

Posts: 17 Join Date: 6/25/10 Recent Posts
Hi Squee,

I agree with Daniel in that there did not seem to be a sense of equanimity during your experience. I have experience the shrinking sensation (although at a tremendous speed) when going from the 6th jhana to the 7th jhana, however jhanas 4-8 all share that equanimity quality. Certainly you seem to have experienced an interesting phenomenon of size/form changing of some of your perceived self and/or the environment around it. My suggestion would be to not stress too much about not being able to replicate the event, but rather continue your practice and sharpen your insight "knife" as much as possible, so you have a better chance to observe more closely the nature of this phenomenon should it manifest again.

Best of luck!

Jorge F