Happily floating then sad

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Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

Happily floating then sad

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Hi I just went for a walk in the park and I was mentally noting all the main sensory experiences lightly at about a note per second. I starting feeling the nice bliss in a non-clinging way. It gave me a feeling of floating and my arm and leg movements, when walking, felt light and slightly mechanical but in a good way. By the time I was getting home I started feeling a slight unease. I have a big exam result coming in a couple of weeks but since I've started meditating a couple of years ago most prior exam results didn't bother me until a day or two before they are released. I was wondering if anyone had similar experiences and had some general thoughts on mindfulness? I'm hoping this isn't a dark night episode.
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Happily floating then sad (Answer)

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
My money (figuratively speaking, of course) is on the first 2 nyanas, or insight knowledges.

Nice bliss with floaty feelings: Mind and Body.

Mechanical aspect with the beginnings of unease: Cause and Effect.

If you start getting into solid-feeling pain, especially bodily pain, accompanied by anxiety and the desire to get the fuck off the meditation cushion before you start feeling any worse, that's Three Characteristics.

A VERY understated A&P can't be totally ruled out, and in that case the dark night would follow, but I seriously doubt that because the description is so perfect for the first 2 nyanas and so unusually nondramatic for A&P.

So if I were in your situation, I would proceed as if I had encountered the first 2 nyanas and I wouldn't worry about having a dark night until after getting through the Three Characteristics stage, at which point an A&P and the dark night following it are usually obvious and easy to identify for anyone at all familiar with the maps of insight stages.

General thoughts on mindfulness: There are a few different definitions of mindfulness, but with practice in meditation, you eventually find out what it really means because it becomes obvious as a specific mental function or closely related group of functions. The Christian Bible says "The tree shall be known by its fruit," and this applies to mindfulness too. When you have mindfulness, you'll know because it becomes easy to stay in the present moment with the sensations that are happening right now, and without getting too caught up in sensations that just happened, or happened a while back, or may happen at some point in the future.

So, the instructions for mindfulness are to cultivate the above -- try to stay in the present moment as gently and acceptingly as you can, and when distractions come, just move back to the present. There's no point in freaking out about having gotten distracted if you can avoid it, but if you can't avoid it, then the way to get back to mindfulness is to start noticing the sensations that are happening as you're worrying about being distracted. "Thinking, anxiety, tension, touching, seeing, relaxation..." And bam! You're back to mindfulness.
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Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Happily floating then sad

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I feel good this morning but I'm not as mindful as I was but I do find when I want to be more mindful I can be more easily than in the past. I do agree that mindfulness needs to be gentle in order to get back. I'll just keep practicing. I suppose no matter what happens just keep noting all experience pleasant and unpleasant. Looking at some Shinzen Young videos he describes fruition basically like his experience is just waves of impermanant experience but he actually has to actively move into that territory in his brain. His teacher taught him that having equanimity between both normal experience (like everyone else) and touching the source, is the goal. Of course the source to him being the "the great soul". He also mentions that his cure for emotional emptiness (for students stuck in a mindfulness trap of emptiness) is to note the emptiness of any "freak out" moments and to use positive reinforcement.

That I hope will prevent weirdness from taking over.

I also should note the pleasure I experienced because the trees and grass seemed so enjoyable in the nice sun and yet I felt like in a virtual reality version of the world (except perception of the beauty and complexity intact). I don't want to get too attached to it because I definitely liked it and already want to go outside and try it again. emoticon

Thanks for the advice.
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Happily floating then sad

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Ahh yes, that "virtual reality" feeling is pretty familiar. I used to worry that it was problematic in some way, perhaps the beginnings of some sort of dissociative disorder. But I got it pretty frequently when hanging around the territory of the first few nyanas.

If you want to practice concentration, you can try zooming in on the pleasantness of the sensation. See if you can get lost in it. Mind and Body and the first jhana are basically the same thing from two different perspectives. In the first shamatha jhana, you want to get the state nice and stable so you can let the entire body become filled with it. In Mind and Body, you want to try and see through the illusion of stability.

The risk of harm from enjoying the pleasantness as a concentration practice isn't too big. You already know how to see through the illusion of stability since you've been getting into Cause and Effect. If you want to do the shamatha practice and pretend that the floaty blissful state is permanent and satisfying, it's no big deal. Once you're done pretending that the state is stable and permanent, just tune into mechanical and somewhat uneasy feelings. Boom, you've detached from the first jhana, because it isn't so pleasant anymore.
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Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Happily floating then sad

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Yeah when my first Jhana moment came it was like AMAZING but I could never get it back the same way again. I could concentrate but each pleasureful Jhana moment I got after that first time was good but not the same. Now with mindfulness I found that mentally noting felt better and made my Jhana experience much stronger and banished the hindrances more efficiently with less effort. Then when I started walking with that intent to note sensory experiences I snapped into the virtual reality mode and again it was AMAZING. Today it was good but I couldn't hold it as long and again it's because it's not new and I won't have that mindfulness experience the same way again. Plus chasing after the experience is a hindrance in itself. Ultimately this is fine because clarity and equanimity is in the long run better than getting attached.

What I am noticing is my skill in stopping mental ruminations is more solidified with mental noting "seeing", "hearing", feet "touching", and I don't have as much anger when a hindrance appears since the quickest way is to just bring yourself back ASAP after noting the hindrance.

This is definitely gradual process as it should be. I need time for my brain to adjust and rewire.
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Happily floating then sad

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
All sounds great! Keep up with what you're doing, and remember that if you get pain that appears solid, just watch it and let it start to disassemble itself under the scrutiny of mindfulness. Noting will serve you very well.
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Eric Bause, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Happily floating then sad

Posts: 187 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Richard B:
I also should note the pleasure I experienced because the trees and grass seemed so enjoyable in the nice sun and yet I felt like in a virtual reality version of the world (except perception of the beauty and complexity intact). I don't want to get too attached to it because I definitely liked it and already want to go outside and try it again. emoticon

Thanks for the advice.

J Adam G:

Ahh yes, that "virtual reality" feeling is pretty familiar. I used to worry that it was problematic in some way, perhaps the beginnings of some sort of dissociative disorder. But I got it pretty frequently when hanging around the territory of the first few nyanas.

If you want to practice concentration, you can try zooming in on the pleasantness of the sensation. See if you can get lost in it. Mind and Body and the first jhana are basically the same thing from two different perspectives. In the first shamatha jhana, you want to get the state nice and stable so you can let the entire body become filled with it. In Mind and Body, you want to try and see through the illusion of stability.


I can drop into that "virtual reality thing" sometimes when I'm out walking around. I live in the city, and find the best ways to induce it are to walk (not too quickly) 1) down narrow side streets that extend for at least two blocks, preferably with a canopy of trees or 2) walk with the flow of traffic on the side of the street where there are no parked cars. Looking further down the street or up to the tops of buildings helps. I used to think that it was the "distance" aspect that was the primary factor, but it was pointed out to me by a teacher on retreat that is was probably "space" as opposed to "distance" per se that was the factor, which makes sense because one of the first time this happened was when I walked into a very wide and deep six story high atrium in a department store.

Thanks-this thread and particularly the comments about Mind & Body/first jhana have given me a new perspective on this.
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Richard B, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Happily floating then sad

Posts: 1635 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
It happened to me again after walking out of Inception at the IMAX. I was walking through the mall and I was able to note myself to it again. Mindfulness after seeing a movie like that was an interesting experience.

I saw a woman walk passed a kiosk of jewelry, slow down and then stop and walk back to take a look. Witnessing this in this mindfulness state was funny and disturbing at the same time. How many times do I get acquisition disorder from looking at enticing products? emoticon In a mindfulness state a mall can feel like a shooting gallery except you are the target and there are multiple shooters. You have to note faster. emoticon I could see my brain moving back to the plot of the movie over and over again trying to figure it out (good luck with that). I just noted "thoughts", "thoughts" and brought myself back. When I saw some expensive cologne (which I like to collect) the noting was even harder and thinking about that woman with the jewelry helped.

It shouldn't be news but it's shocking sometimes to see how appetitive we humans are. It's so ingrained (and still ingrained in me) that the external is the main area for happiness but I can still remember products that I once enjoyed are now taken for granted or considered garbage. We obviously need food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education but we are never satisfied. On the one hand if you don't have hobbies you can become a very boring person, and on the other hand being addicted is no fun either. I suppose it doesn't matter what you do in life as long as it's not damaging to others or yourself and at the same time you make priorities so you don't get scatterbrained and bankrupt. Aristotle is right about moderation.

My thought is that to meditate outside of a monastery and be in the world with all it's "worldliness" is to not be a rampant consumer but to spend most of our time developing SKILLS and keeping consumerism to a healthy minimum. This way we still have an economy but the population isn't bankrupt and is capable of savings. We also can receive benefits from others but are capable of giving to others because of the SKILLS we developed.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Happily floating then sad

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I agree, first two insight stages.

Daniel