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Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/20/17 9:39 PM
hey all,
Thoughts, different perspectives, advice please!

My aim is to samatha with/on the hara for sittings up to 4 hours or so. This seems to me to require comfort and relaxed internal 'stance' and posture.

The hinderance I find myself dealing with currently is eye ball flickering around and eyes strain. My eyes seem to insist on getting involved and wanting to stare at my hara. Especially if I attempt to increase the granularity of, or narrow the attentions focus, the eyes tense enough to feel like they are straining after a while. If I attempt to exclude/withdraw from the eyes, especially when they are closed, they dart around in the socket, often wildly.

Iam habitually a visually dominated person. I seem to a degree to be able to focus on the actual body feeling sensations rather than the mind image/sensations of the belly, as the mind sensations have a 'perspective' with a feeling tone as if one is seeing into the belly but with a kinaesthetic element or edging. Consequently at times by focusing on the body feeling sensations I feel as if Iam inhabiting the belly, rather than the head focusing on the belly, which is what Iam aiming to do, i.e. rest/inhabit the belly with a focus on the hara and feel the air element of the breath, if that makes sense. However, then the eyes start darting around or tense and I immediately bounce back into the head. Ping pong between the hara and the head.

Now, I think this is at least partly due to an 'immediate intent' sensation. There seems to be a kind of 'reminding intent' to remain hara focused, also an 'immediate intent' sensation utilised to navigate around the feeling realm. I believe I just caught a sensation of this reminding intent and it had a visual component. So habitually it seems Im using a visual metaphor to navigate and focus within the feeling realm. If I want to move the feeling focus the eyes move. If I intend to focus in on a smaller feeling area, the eye focus muscles subtly contract.

This is perhaps rather like when one feels ones throat muscles contract if say, one tries to internally shout with the inner voice. The inner voice utilises some kind of throat feeling metaphor to modulate the internal sound of the inner voice, which bleeds through so to speak. Likewise one observes children silently moving their lips when they read.

Thus there are contradictory messages being sent...i.e. relax the eyes, but the 'immediate intent' of feeling focusing has a visual component thus sending the eyes a message to contract (kind of bleed through).

Therefore the question becomes how to navigate and focus within the feeling realm without the 'immediate intent' using visual metaphors...

Ive been trying to imagine what it would be like searching for a tiny sleeping babies heart beat in the dark, and using those gentle, delicate hand movements as a model to kinaesthetically imagine in my belly...but the visualisations keep popping up...

Is this all a terrible idea, misconception of what is going on?
Anybody else encountered this issue and managed to refabricate their moment in some way to be able to navigate the feeling realm with feeling metaphors?
How do you navigate the feeling realm, what kind of immediate intent do you use to focus on a smaller area or move the focus, say further underneath the skin?

gratitudes for input!!!

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/20/17 7:50 AM as a reply to supaluqi.
Hi, maybe you need to do something that gives you butterflies which will hold your attention in that area. How about a bit of public speaking ?
I guess maybe that, because the gut brain is connected to the head brain, then getting into your hara triggers alertness in the head as a reflex because the two are linked. Like your system is not used to intense hara feelings unless there is something fighty/flighty to attend to. (pure guessing, and assuming the hara is the enteric nervous system). Or if your overarching intention is to be able to handle emotions better (typical in martial arts I think), then your gut takes that intention as a rehearsal signal and tells your brain to get on alert in readiness. It sounds like you're going squinty eyed in readiness for taking a few blows. Maybe a bit of time doing soothing things with incense and candles might help, and don't watch any MMA emoticon.

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/20/17 9:07 AM as a reply to supaluqi.
The very nature of perception is what you are experiencing. It's made up of sense objects that flicker and dance.

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/20/17 1:50 PM as a reply to Stick Man.
hey John thanks for taking the time to read and reply....

hehehehe I hadnt thought about getting (sucker) gut punched in the middle of a meditation before, but thanks for that! emoticon Iam wincing at the thought here!

but seriously, Moving from the hara, like bending the trunk forward or twisting from the hara (not experienced butterflies during this, maybe will since you mentioned mma!), does help render more 'real' the sense of abiding in the hara and focusing without visual metaphor type intention, but samatha on the whole ideally would be with a still as possible body.

I think fear does play a role with me in attempting this meditation but because Im attempting to leave the familiarity of abiding in the head to abide in the hara. I do believe Ive somewhat addressed that, via getting familiar with the gut and other means.

In general hadnt thought of the emotional aspect of the hara itself, I read BrunoLoff talking about how he found some anxiety rooted there abouts...hmmmm...I havent felt any anxiety rooted there trying this meditation, but I seriously doubt Im free of it...more like Ive yet to develop the sensitivity and observe at that deeper level...thanks for bringing that to my attention!!

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/20/17 9:34 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
The very nature of perception is what you are experiencing. It's made up of sense objects that flicker and dance.
hi Chris, thanks for replying!

I think I appreciate what you're pointing at, i.e. looking more closely at the vibrational dance, the discontinuities at the micro level, the details of the impermanence aspect. And I would wish to pursue the impermanence aspect of insight, if I cant figure out a kinaesthetic metaphor for navigating the feeling realm (at the macro level), or resolve it via self inquiry. Im guessing emphasising impermanence would run somewhat counter to the stability and continuity cultivation of samatha...

Just in case there was some confusion over what i meant as eye flicker, I mean physical eye ball darting about in the socket, rather than perceptual flicker. Ive edited the initial post to make this clearer.

I would be grateful to hear Chris (particularly as a post 4th-pather) what you do/observe inside so to speak to move your feeling focus about or to tighten the feeling focus on a smaller area? Is what Im describing above about an 'immediate intention' a 'volitional formation' or a mind image/sensation?

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/22/17 4:52 AM as a reply to supaluqi.
I would be grateful to hear Chris (particularly as a post 4th-pather) what you do/observe inside so to speak to move your feeling focus about or to tighten the feeling focus on a smaller area? Is what Im describing above about an 'immediate intention' a 'volitional formation' or a mind image/sensation?

I don't know if this will help you but -- I find it's really easy, at least for me, to get very controlling, almost overbearing, in my approach to concentration. I had assumed, on starting a concentration practice, that the goal was to focus like a laser beam and thus be able to tune out literally everything but THAT ONE OBJECT. Well... it doesn't actually seem to work that way.

Concentration can be hindered as much by bearing down and trying to control the process (intent - right?) as it can by distraction. In fact, I'd offer that trying too hard is another form of distraction. Bearing down and trying to put your mental processes in a vise can easily cause all manner of physical twitching, straining and the like. So my advice would be to try to relax into the object you are trying to focus on. Alight your attention on it like a butterfly landing and sitting on a flower.

Soak in that feeling and see what happens.


RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/21/17 7:28 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
That hit home!

Thanks Chris...

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/21/17 11:46 AM as a reply to supaluqi.
supaluqi:
That hit home!

Thanks Chris...
Wow, that really did hit home. Chris you pointed out a whole new world of pain in my head! Thanks!! emoticon

It seems I can now distinguish between mental stress and scalp muscle tension...believe it or not it has never ocurred to me to try and mentally relax before. My head now feels quite different, kind of bigger, more spacious with a higher fidelity of feeling. My general relaxation level has improved a couple of notches, my eyes have calmed somewhat generally...Ive been sighing and laughing away here for the last couple of hours.

That said Im still curious as to the questions above, but with a greatly reduced sense of urgency!

This man has wisdom methinks! Thanks again....

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/22/17 6:24 AM as a reply to supaluqi.
I would be grateful to hear Chris (particularly as a post 4th-pather) what you do/observe inside so to speak to move your feeling focus about or to tighten the feeling focus on a smaller area? Is what Im describing above about an 'immediate intention' a 'volitional formation' or a mind image/sensation?

So again, I'm not sure this will be helpful but... my sense in dealing with various objects is not what it used to be. One major shift that has occurred is that the distinction between "types" of objects and their "location" isn't really operative any more. This means I don't have any preference for internal vs external, self vs other, and so on. I also see that every object is the result of a sense perception folllowed by mental imaging and value judgment. That's basic dependent origination, of course. This applies equally to physical and mental objects, concepts, etc.

Is that what you were asking? I may be misinterpreting your questions.


RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
2/27/17 10:24 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
my sense in dealing with various objects is not what it used to be. One major shift that has occurred is that the distinction between "types" of objects and their "location" isn't really operative any more. This means I don't have any preference for internal vs external, self vs other, and so on. I also see that every object is the result of a sense perception folllowed by mental imaging and value judgment. That's basic dependent origination, of course. This applies equally to physical and mental objects, concepts, etc.

Is that what you were asking? I may be misinterpreting your questions.
Thats possibly the kind of answer I wasnt expecting/hoping for! emoticon

Yet, it kind of rules out the easy fix of trying to adopt a kinaesthetic metaphor without enough classical insight to be able to tell whether its possible/would work. I'd need to see how intent, focusing, navigating works in real time more stably, reliably...and that leads to more impermanence insight territory.

Thanks for your input Chris...

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
3/1/17 5:54 AM as a reply to supaluqi.
It's all turtles, all the way down.


emoticon

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
3/1/17 11:36 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
It's all turtles, all the way down.


emoticon
But are the turtles all annoying? emoticon

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
3/3/17 7:09 AM as a reply to supaluqi.
The Question is -- is it the turtles that are annoying, or.... just who or what is annoyed?

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
3/3/17 8:14 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Each turtle is inherently unsatisfactory as we (who??) attempt to organize the gestalt into Escher-esque, geometrical array, when really it's a vast mush.  Know this is going on, that's a relief.  Shut down the organizing filter, that's a bliss.  M2cents.

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
3/3/17 1:24 PM as a reply to supaluqi.
Here is my current mental image for this thing, which may well change as my practice progresses, and it could well be completely wrong and misleading. But here goes.

Imagine that 95% of perceived phenomena are perceived as a seamless, pure, uninterrupted signal. Or maybe it is a very high frequency signal. But the frequency is so high that there really doesn't seem to be any flickering at all, in that baseline signal, where 95% of things are happening.

So imagining that the signal is a beam of laser light, as emmited by a laser pointer (the things people use for powerpoint presentations). But instead of just red light, the signal carries all the very dense texture of experience. Let's call this signal 1.

If you have a signal like this, it is possible to impose a second signal by repeatedly turning the laser pointer off, and then back on again. Or just dimming it noticeably for a while, and then undimming. This turning on and off happens at a much lower-frequency than the main signal, so it appears as a flickering. Think morse code happening at 5-40 Hz. This is signal 2.

Someone on the receiving end of the laser light would have a worst signal-quality on the signal 1, because while the repeated turning on and off carries its own information as well (the morse code is used to send a message/cognition of some kind), it does so by obscuring the transmission of the signal 1.

Furthermore, the following happens: although 95% of the information is carried via signal 1, signal 2 is much louder (it has greater amplitude/volume). I think this happens because when signal 1 is interrupted (at each cycle of signal 2), energy is accumulated and then released all at once when the main signal is restored. This creates a sort of wave-like effect at about 5-40Hz per second. (this wave effect wouldn't really happen with a laser pointer, so the analogy isn't perfect) Furthermore, signal 2 is highly reactive and perpetuates itself via positive feedback loops.

When the signal 2 becomes significantly diminished, signal 1 shines through. It is an experience of great clarity, vividness and tranquility. The senses become vivid, the texture of experience becomes very detailed, and there is a peace that I find really satisfying.

In my current condition it seems that 80% of the superimposed signal is generated in the hara, and then the gaps in perception — that create the signal — propagate through the rest of the nerves. 20% or so is generated in the neck.

One of the ways I have to tune in to signal 1 is by seeing directly that signal 2 is made of gaps. So there is a sense in which it can be said that signal 2 doesn't really exist. There is a dream-like feel too it. It happens, but isn't really there, like an illusion.

Well, that's how I think of it at the moment, anyway emoticon I wonder if this resonates with anyone

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
3/4/17 8:57 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
The Question is -- is it the turtles that are annoying, or.... just who or what is annoyed?

At the risk of sounding a bit pompous, this really captures it for me at the moment:

"(1)When two flashing swords meet there is no place to escape;
(2)Move coolly like a lotus flower blooming in the midst of a roaring fire, and (3)forcefully pierce the heavens!"

Im guessing Noah's 'relief' was felt at the end of (1), the process of dropping entirely of the organising filter... and developing bliss is (3).

Pithy koans dont you just love'em!

RE: Immediacy of intention
Answer
3/14/17 8:24 PM as a reply to supaluqi.
You seem to aim for feeling your body from within and using this proprioception as object for concentration. Then your attentional "point of view" starts to jump: one moment it's the felt kinesthetics "in" the belly, a moment later your attention takes a more conceptional picture of what happens in your belly as the object. There is a sudden change in perspective, with a corresponding change in the angle of the eyes. Even just intending to move the beam of attention to a slightly different spot in the belly can create a reflexive tension of the muscles below the eyes.

Advice on this issue is sparse, so I'd love to read more on your progress.

Some ideas:

Not only is the strain on the eyes a distraction in itself, but I had to combat the "second order" distraction of ruminating about myself being unable to function as intended. So I turned the muscle reflex into a tool to do some research: What kind of attentional movements translate into which kind of tensions around the eyes? Any muscular "blip" is easily felt, thus constitutes a good biofeedback for relaxation.

I doubt, though, that relaxed eyes solve the deeper problem you point out in your OP: Visualizing on a mental screen (even if in the belly) is not the same like feeling your body from within. Look straight with open eyes and feel your way around in the body, then close the eyes and hold the feeling.

You might want to strengthen your proprioception with 4 elements meditation, with breath (wind) opening the whole body, sensing around and into any solid knots of tension (earth), creating energy (fire), mixed with cooling equanimity (water). In the beginning I thought this is pre-scientific, but working with the breath and the other elements is a powerful perception. Also good for entry into Jhanas.

From a phenomenological standpoint, attention and awareness are different. I see attention as a focused beam, emanating from somewhere behind the eyes. Or put differently: When in attention mode, it's like some kind of Mini-Me sits on my shoulders, in my head, and it looks through the eyes out into the world inside and outside my body. Awareness, on the other hand, is not a beam but a place where I can rest. Proprioception and awareness are nicely entangled, because it is a sense with a place - - the body from within.

"Resting" is a word which describes what happens with me, but it might not resonate with you. Resting in the body (in particular in the belly) reminds me of the visceral gut feeling you get if you image yourself continuously falling, a kind of weightlessness. The moment I rest, I somehow seem to center. The Mini-Me disappears. The switch from attention to awareness creates a surge of energy, you can use this for training purposes (as biofeedback, indicating the advent of awareness mode), or abide in it.

Attend to your belly, in beam mode. Then consciously make a resolution to rest in your body, just for a moment. Feel your face softening, your gaze of your closed eyes straigthening. The beam mode will reinstate itself automatically, the perspective changes. This more detached, visualised, conceptual feeling of the body is an overlay on the "true" proprioceptive sense. Rest again, rinse, repeat.

The resting type of awareness can be moved around inside the body, onto the skin, behind your back. Even if some are more difficult to sense into them, they are just different places. You can also rest awareness on really small places like the area between upper lip and nose.

I love to visualize stuff, so it really hurt for a while that it didn't work for me, for cultivating body awareness. But visualizing is looking. The first-person perspective captures the eyeballs. It felt like a big improvement as soon as I (the Mini-Me) got out of the way.