lost in the border...

marcel dupit, modified 11 Years ago.

lost in the border...

Posts: 4 Join Date: 7/16/10 Recent Posts
hi everybody!

im a vippassana student since about 5 years. (i have done several retreats with goenka,last winter i spend some short time by u-pandita in burma)
Coming from a background that had nothing to do with spiritual practices i was shocked by this first experience and have immediately recognized how deeply "spiritual" i was.
That first journey that i, innocently, started as an ego-challenge turned out to be the most significant human experience i ever had. Love roller coaster,universal melting, madness, ease , harmony, light.... im so thank full to that day i encounter dharma!
I kept my daily practice for sometime then i drop it, then back to another retreat then drop it again....like that till my 4 retreat; since then im keeping my practice daily 1 or 2 hours when its possible.
Till here the reader, and me, can presume that after 3 years of heart full disciplined practice i will be advancing through the path.
But no. Since then i cant, almost never , get enough concentration to practice insight vippassana. So here i am sitting daily trying to not get disappointed with my lack of concentration since what it seems to me a really long time.
This circumstance ,that normally can be understood as a "period" and not give to much importance to it, with the time start to built up in me like a real issue in my meditation, and have grow till the point that its hard for me not to develope lots of expectations around it which keep me even further from concentrate.
If i start to get concentrate i get so excited ,( oh now its coming !! its coming!!!) that im pulled away from it. I know that it can sound a bit ridiculous but in fact it can me feel sometimes sad and lost.

I will appreciate any comments from anybody that feels that can bring me a bit of light in this matter. thanks.....
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: lost in the border...

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Hi there, and welcome to the DhO.

If you're having some trouble concentrating without getting overly energetic, then it would probably help you to use some calming supports for your meditation. Normally during breath meditation you don't try to control the breath, but a good preface to calm concentration is to intentionally take deep breaths and focus on slowly releasing them during the exhalation. If you can do this 20 times (counting in the pause after each exhalation) then it should help you out.

Another way to deal with the excitement when it comes is to switch your posture to lying down, or if you can lie down during your entire meditation session without getting too sleepy to focus, that would be even better.

Have you gotten to stream entry? If not, you're probably a dark night yogi. You should know that after the first time experiencing the Arising and Passing Away event, you'll experience a shift in your ability to concentrate. It feels like you can't focus clearly on anything anymore. The real truth is that your attentional spotlight is opening up so that you can include many more sensations in your awareness when practicing vipassana. When you're first getting used to that, it feels like you can't concentrate on your meditation object because there are so many distracting things on the periphery.

But really, nothing is a distraction unless you don't notice it mindfully. So if you have trouble concentrating, even if you get excited, even if it's hard to focus, you can still do vipassana. Just note the "distraction," and it isn't a distraction anymore. If you mindfully noted something, you just turned it into a valid object for vipassana meditation.
marcel dupit, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: lost in the border...

Posts: 4 Join Date: 7/16/10 Recent Posts
thanks for your impressions J Adam.
I think i can identify with the point you make about having more than one object on the view and maybe that its making me disorientated.
Before this winter in Burma when another yogi passed me Daniels book "the core teachings" i was a complete ignorant about what i was going through in my sittings. I was putting my soul on it but lots of time i was, and i am, overpass by the events in my meditation and the dhamma talks during the Goenka retreats or U pandita didnt help me that much for understanding to deal with them. Even though i have to say that i received very valuable words from my teacher in the Forest Monastery about the danger of expectations i was not able to understand where i was standing (or sitting).
My only reference as "correct" meditation direction was my own first retreat experience that was radical in terms of what i sense as profound insights, and from then i have supposed that anything that was not fitting in that scheme was not well done. Obviously i kept on receiving benefits from my practice, so generous is the Dhamma , thats why i continue but most of the time with the bitter taste of not "advancing".
Probably like for everybody else this can be sometimes a lonely path wich can make things more dificult than they really are. Thats why i really like to thank your support and the support that gives DHO that is like a oasis that i just discover today.

PD. what its a stream entry?
Pavel Oulik, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: lost in the border...

Posts: 88 Join Date: 1/20/10 Recent Posts
Hey Marcel,

I would re-read the second part of J Adams reply, I think that its the most relevant response that you will get. From the sound of things you are probably in the Dark Night which can be very demoralizing, especially when being compared to the previous stage (lights, elation, at one,...).

The thing is that in vipassana it is not overly helpful to compare how previous experience felt with how it feels now. In other words, instead of comparing your experience or hoping for another hit of the good stuff, you will have to pay attention to what is happening right now, however unpleasant it may be. This gives you a beautiful opportunity to notice all these horrible sensations, frustrations, judgments, urges to stop and so on, which were less frequent and intense in your previous practice. Sadly, this is the only way to progress. For as long as you hope for something else than there is, you wont get anywhere. As soon as you start applying the technique well to whats there, whatever it may be (however unpleasant it may be), things will progress. This may (will) also be helped by widening your attention, as J Adam G mentioned.

The most important point that the stages of insight make is that the path is not linear. Your attention will automatically shift during the different stages which will make for a very bumpy ride, elation will change into despair and then move on to acceptance. So the trick is to be okay with whatever comes, while knowing that bad will follow the good whatever you do. Also accepting that this is actually okay can be very helpful.

With vipassana, how your meditation feels is not a good indicator of how effective you are at applying it. Your mediation will naturally suck at some of the stages and it may feel as if what you are doing is ineffective, wrong, or goes nowhere. This is more often than not a bad indicator of your progress, a better indicator being whether you are noticing all those things that make up the badness or unpleasantness of your meditation. Re-reading the chapter in MCTB on the stages of insight (especially the Arising and Passing Away and the Dark Night) may be of help.

Stream entry means the first hit of emptiness, first path, finishing the cycle for the first time.

All the best and welcome to the Dharma Overground.
marcel dupit, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: lost in the border...

Posts: 4 Join Date: 7/16/10 Recent Posts
hey Pavel, thanks for your words.

At this moment of the practice i have been sitting around 3 years in dark night conditions,if im there. My level of acceptance is increasing significantly since i came back from the winter retreat. Sometimes is more easy to accept than not doing it. After sitting and sitting during the last 3 years and facing almost the same situation im giving up the "search of the beauty ".....
I cant say that im comfortable in the situation but i have a strong belief in what im doing, and no matter what will happen i will carry on. I have no doubt that difficult situation are great opportunity to grow and get stronger. I think it will feel now better knowing where im possibly standing.

One last question. End of August i will go to a personal retreat in England for about 15 days. Any suggestion for the practice?


be fine. marcel
Pavel Oulik, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: lost in the border...

Posts: 88 Join Date: 1/20/10 Recent Posts
After sitting and sitting during the last 3 years and facing almost the same situation im giving up the "search of the beauty ".....


Well, if its been this long without any progress (ie. there is no change within your meditation practice) then something is probably wrong. I already wrote what I could about your practice, ie. the fact that you now need to apply the vipassana technique to all those sensations that make up your current moment-to-moment experience. If this is done correctly you should naturally move to whatever the next stage is for you (a good sign of progress within your practice is change /for the good or for the bad/)

It seemed to me from what you wrote that you were looking for reasons why there was something wrong with your practice which you could fix and therefore go back to having the wonderful experience (what you called the most significant human experience). The point of the Dark Night (if that is where you are) is that there is nothing wrong with your practice, actually, you have done remarkably well to get this far, but the only way is forward, not back (the wonderful experience may not repeat, at least until next path). Now you really have to pay attention to what is going on (including expectation /its coming its coming/, worrying /my concentration is not strong enough/ and unease/suffering/unpleasantness/...), no other way forward. There must be a lot of things that you are currently not paying attention to, look for them and bring them out. There is nothing wrong, you just need to meditate and do it well (use the technique well).

As for technique, there seem to be a few Goenka practitioners who changed over to Mahasi-style noting (the style explained in MCTB ) with good results. If you seriously think that your current method of meditation is not working (if its impossible to make progress with your current method), or if you want to experiment, by all means go for it. I only have experience of noting practice and am a very big fan.

Take care.
marcel dupit, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: lost in the border...

Posts: 4 Join Date: 7/16/10 Recent Posts
thanks.....

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