Subterranean Homesick Equanimity (Vipassana Practice Notes)

C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

Subterranean Homesick Equanimity (Vipassana Practice Notes)

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Greetings Everyone,

I'm about 2 weeks past my meditation-induced A&P event (see here for details if you're curious) and am struggling to find a foothold with a technique to work with. I was able to reach A&P through silently focusing on the breath at the nose until I had strong concentration and then, while remaining somewhat anchored in the breath, opening up awareness to the 3Cs of the various sensations coursing through the body and elsewhere. This was rather easy building up to A&P as my concentration was quite strong and as I got closer to the event, I could merely focus on the third eye area, which was a bright, concentrated ball of pulsing energy, and I could quickly gain enough concentration to tune in to all the vibrations and so forth.

Dark Night, however, is a different story, as many of us know all too well. I am quite confused about the best approach right now (while noting that confusion, anxiety, etc.) so I'd REALLY appreciate any input at all.

As is clear, many people have benefited from noting practice. However, I've gotten the sense that the approach to noting changes during DN, and have read at various places on the forum that a more general noting approach or even "bare awareness" approach is best.

So my overall query: Given that I wasn't using noting before, I'm wondering how best to incorporate it into my current practice to best effect (or if it's even worth attempting at this stage?)

Summary questions from the below points (in case you want to see these first):
1) Should I just remain anchored to the breath, even if there seems to be more going on, and just note that (or not note)? Is the abdomen a better location during DN because it's more physical (the breath becomes quite subtle at the nose sometimes)?
2) If taking the third eye "mindstorm" as object, is it better to quietly notice as much as possible versus trying to note the discordant frequencies?
3) What have people found as the best overall strategy for attention during DN - anchoring it to one area (such as the breath or the third eye) while remaining open or letting attention drift from location to location depending what's most prominent?

Here the some points and further questions about my practice right now:

-I'll often start practice with the breath at the nose and while I've experimented a few times with the abdomen, it's proved difficult to stick with as it doesn't seem to move much and is quite tense as I have some back issues going on. Sometimes I'll note, but it seems to slow me down and like I'm "missing out" on so many more sensations occurring in my third I area…

-The third eye area is now a densely textured confusing storm of vibrations (10hz?) that seems to be layered with a number of different frequencies making it hard to tune into a specific frequency to note or "hit" with awareness with any precision. Sometimes I'll attempt to note (with a quick "dit" or something), but then I grow tired and then just fix my attention and notice as much as possible.

-As others have noted, in DN physical vibrations come and go. Sometimes I'll notice the "helicopter" vibrations behind my head, sometimes vibrations will sink up with other sounds and so forth. Sometimes I'll have vibrations going through parts of my body. I'll pay attention and then move back to my primary object.

-Speaking of primary object, I keep being pulled into the mindstorm of my third eye area, as again it's the most noticeable sensation, even if it's difficult to note.

--

Right now I'm practicing 3-4 times a day, 1-1.5 hours at a time, and will likely be able to do so for another month before I have to begin part-time work and a full-time grad school program. I'm intending to make as much progress as I can before then, as I'll likely have to go down to 2 sits a day. I'm strongly considering a few self-retreats and would thus like to have a clear approach, as much as possible, in line before trying my hand that. So I'd appreciate any input on any aspect of the above, even if you only have the time to address just one question.

Please let me know if anyone needs any other information.

Thanks for reading.

-Chris
thumbnail
Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

Noting practice is really incredibly useful to me, I can't recommend it enough. Wide focus, catch whatever you can, even distractions are things to be noted, even bad concentration is just something to be noted, even getting sidetracked is something to be noted, even being fed up with sitting is something to be noted - BUT if you can note the fairly slow "helicopter" vibrations, really grab hold of them, get into the groove and solidify them, fuse each flap with your noticing it and with the note you acknowledge it by, you might well get lucky like I did and get whisked off into 4th jhana by them. Actually, hitting 4th (samatha) jhana towards the end of the dark night seems to happen to people, I remember someone, I think Vince Horn, mentioning it, too. There's a thread about my experiences with these vibes a couple of months ago.

Anyway, once you know the way to 4th Jhana, basically, you have access to equanimity. You can ease up on the noting and stay in the jhana, or experiment with alternating between powering the noting and letting the jhana coast on its own, or exit the jhana and do more noting - once you make it to equanimity, don't be too shy to experiment. It can be such a relief to get there that one is reluctant to actually do anything with it, but if it's equanimity, you can't break it by looking too hard. Like Daniel keeps repeating, "equanimity can take it".

On another note, the 3rd eye mindstorm has also taken me to 4th jhana during dark night - it took a bit of balance, a kind of trusting relaxing and letting it stand on its own, like balancing a long tube on end. You know the sort of tight grip you can develop on the sensations of the 3rd eye? That grip has to be relaxed, I did it by moving my attention to some other location in the body, such as the abdomen or throat, while keeping up the concentration that was powering the 3rd eye (in that particular case, a meditation word).

Use formal resolve. Can't recommend that enough either.

Let us know how what happens.

Cheers,
Florian
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:
Hi Chris,

Noting practice is really incredibly useful to me, I can't recommend it enough. Wide focus, catch whatever you can, even distractions are things to be noted, even bad concentration is just something to be noted, even getting sidetracked is something to be noted, even being fed up with sitting is something to be noted - BUT if you can note the fairly slow "helicopter" vibrations, really grab hold of them, get into the groove and solidify them, fuse each flap with your noticing it and with the note you acknowledge it by, you might well get lucky like I did and get whisked off into 4th jhana by them. Actually, hitting 4th (samatha) jhana towards the end of the dark night seems to happen to people, I remember someone, I think Vince Horn, mentioning it, too. There's a thread about my experiences with these vibes a couple of months ago.



Florian Weps:

On another note, the 3rd eye mindstorm has also taken me to 4th jhana during dark night - it took a bit of balance, a kind of trusting relaxing and letting it stand on its own, like balancing a long tube on end. You know the sort of tight grip you can develop on the sensations of the 3rd eye? That grip has to be relaxed, I did it by moving my attention to some other location in the body, such as the abdomen or throat, while keeping up the concentration that was powering the 3rd eye (in that particular case, a meditation word).


Florian,

Thanks so much for responding! What fortuitous timing, as I'm reading your response as I literally just finished a sit where I had those slower, helicopter vibrations going really strong for a while, at least that's what I think they were. I'll describe what I did:

I started with noting the breath at the nose, rising and falling, but quickly noticed really strong vibrations in the mindstorm that really caught my attention. However, as I've started to finally realize and as you've helped solidify for me, the "tight grip" in that region just doesn't work, so I relaxed some this time around to good effect. I think I backed off of focusing too hard in the storm and stuck with the breath at the nose, though in some ways my attention was still on the third eye area (perhaps that's what you mean by "keeping up the concentration that was powering the 3rd eye"?). Eventually, I noticed these really strong flashes that were going at, say 5hz-7hz or so, which were the color of a camera flash or lightening as opposed to the purplish haze of the mindstorm. They moved around, at some points filling my whole field of vision, and I noted them for a bit, but I backed off for fear of being lost in the mindstorm like other sits.

So I think those are indeed the "helicopter" vibes. I actually read that post earlier today, which described the vibes I had experienced this morning (however, then they were more subtle and in the background than they were just now. I think next time I'll stick to diligently noting them like you've suggested. I think that's key and I'm quite excited to pursue this further (noting the excitement, of course emoticon).


Florian Weps:

Use formal resolve. Can't recommend that enough either.


I've been formally resolving along the lines of "I will sit for an hour and strive to be aware of as many sensations as possible and understand their reality through the 3 characteristics in order to gain insight for benefit of all living beings." Would you recommend more specific vow, such as penetrating the reality of the "helicopter" vibes or what have you?

Alright, well once more thanks so much for your input - it came at a very relevant time and has given me some more concrete aims when I sit.

Best,
Chris
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Update:

Okay, per your suggestion, Florian, I attempted to fuse with those helicopter vibes. My next sit after my last post I was inquiring into the "background" sound (exactly like you describe in the linked post) when the flashes came. I noted them and my way of fusing with this was, as you put it, slightly forced - a visceral, almost gripping approach. Upon repeated attempts, I'm not sure if I'm overdoing it -- it's almost as if I'm squeezing my brain while stretching awareness in order to sink into the vibes. Make sense?

I'll put the question to you and the DO at large here, and then the rest of the description below: Is it the best approach to slightly force my way into those vibes -- is that even where I want to go, or am I just fooling myself with something else? The forcing is almost physical in a sense, but more akin to the "tight grip" on the 3rd eye, that of intensely concentrating there (but not so much visually with the eye-awareness - actually the eyes roll up and all concentration just seems to pool into the mindspace) to the point of "flexing" the mind - though if I overdo it I find I'm contracting my core (not the abdomen but the core around my spine from the 3rd eye down) which has some subtle physicality to it. It's also something I can do right now just by concentrating hard.

What happens next is that the vibes (which at that point are slightly more visual than physical) break up into very chunky, hard flakes that pulse through my body and become a strong physical sensation. If I interpret this right, it's the literal experience of the "3D snow" Daniel and others have talked about, accompanied by the sense of a nearly 360 degree perception. The chunkiness smooths out and the individual vibes get "smaller" and faster, it seems. This is indeed accompanied by a sense of space, as if awareness and the vibes are interpenetrating each other and there are the vibrations (combination of feeling, light, sound, etc.) and then the space between them. They pulse, although at this point they're erratic and I sense as though I'll "lose them" if I relax too much. It seems that they fade away after a while, only to come back through the same process as I've just described.

Also, the sound seems key. Sometimes, just by tuning into the background noise you've mentioned (the "noise" of the 3D snow) it eventually becomes crisper, and sinks into my body and follows a similar routine.

It's kind of like a cold, slowly pulsing electrical current running through the body. Does that make sense? Is this what I'm looking for?

So this morning, as my concentration is usually very poor in the first sit (I may start them out with more 1-pointed period to help with that), I couldn't tune in as deeply. By the same, slightly "forcing" method, I was able to gain a superficial foothold (though noting the straining and impatience that motivated it as well) into the 3D snow territory. I'll see if I can more smoothly find this space again today.

Anyway, I'm curious about what this is. It seems possible that I'm hitting a very early, unstable equanimity, however I also understand that some of my interpretation might be influenced by the map terminology and descriptions, so I'm just going to keep practicing and see what happens. That first sit I mentioned above, I did feel a lot calmer afterward, though perhaps my unconscious suspicions about hitting low equanimity were influencing that mind state. Then again, this does feel like a very tentative, unstable breakthrough, if only because it's a change from the last week or so.

Thoughts from anyone on any aspect of this would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,
Chris

[Edit: Ah, one last thing! I'm noticing these very, very subtle physical vibrations that occur when not engaged with the helicopter vibes, or rather before those show up, if they do. Similarly slow, though at this point I cannot tell if they're the same frequency. Sometimes it's a whole body/awareness thing, sometimes it's part of the body, sometimes it's the "background". Familiar to anyone?]
thumbnail
Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

C T K:
Okay, per your suggestion, Florian, I attempted to fuse with those helicopter vibes. My next sit after my last post I was inquiring into the "background" sound (exactly like you describe in the linked post) when the flashes came. I noted them and my way of fusing with this was, as you put it, slightly forced - a visceral, almost gripping approach. Upon repeated attempts, I'm not sure if I'm overdoing it -- it's almost as if I'm squeezing my brain while stretching awareness in order to sink into the vibes. Make sense?

I'll put the question to you and the DO at large here, and then the rest of the description below: Is it the best approach to slightly force my way into those vibes -- is that even where I want to go, or am I just fooling myself with something else?


That's fine, I think, judging from your results:

What happens next is that the vibes (which at that point are slightly more visual than physical) break up into very chunky, hard flakes that pulse through my body and become a strong physical sensation. If I interpret this right, it's the literal experience of the "3D snow" Daniel and others have talked about, accompanied by the sense of a nearly 360 degree perception. The chunkiness smooths out and the individual vibes get "smaller" and faster, it seems. This is indeed accompanied by a sense of space, as if awareness and the vibes are interpenetrating each other and there are the vibrations (combination of feeling, light, sound, etc.) and then the space between them. They pulse, although at this point they're erratic and I sense as though I'll "lose them" if I relax too much. It seems that they fade away after a while, only to come back through the same process as I've just described.


3-D, all around, sensations implying space - yeah. Good! Sit with this, observe it closely. What is is that makes those sensations imply space, distance, separation, orientation, volume?

Don't be afraid to break anything (but look at - note - the hesitation) If the thing fades, look at the fading. If you decide to bring it back, look at the decision, and look at the thing reappearing. If it vanishes, look at what it left behind. This is it, however it goes.

Also, the sound seems key. Sometimes, just by tuning into the background noise you've mentioned (the "noise" of the 3D snow) it eventually becomes crisper, and sinks into my body and follows a similar routine.

It's kind of like a cold, slowly pulsing electrical current running through the body. Does that make sense? Is this what I'm looking for?


Well, yes - but don't go looking for stuff (and if you find you do, which you will, be sure to note the searching). Get into looking at this stuff. Daniel has this great image of standing waist-deep in water, keeping your hand on the surface waves so it never leaves the water, but the back of the hand doesn't get wet. That kind of fused observing-the-thing-while-staying-with-it-while-not-making-a-splash.

So this morning, as my concentration is usually very poor in the first sit (I may start them out with more 1-pointed period to help with that), I couldn't tune in as deeply. By the same, slightly "forcing" method, I was able to gain a superficial foothold (though noting the straining and impatience that motivated it as well) into the 3D snow territory. I'll see if I can more smoothly find this space again today.


Formal resolve: "Let the 3-D snow arise". Trust the process.

Anyway, I'm curious about what this is. It seems possible that I'm hitting a very early, unstable equanimity, however I also understand that some of my interpretation might be influenced by the map terminology and descriptions, so I'm just going to keep practicing and see what happens. That first sit I mentioned above, I did feel a lot calmer afterward, though perhaps my unconscious suspicions about hitting low equanimity were influencing that mind state. Then again, this does feel like a very tentative, unstable breakthrough, if only because it's a change from the last week or so.


Good strategy.

If I may, because it was something that held me up for a long time: What you're looking for is not the specifics of some refined experience - flashes of light and donut-hole shaped doors were my favorites - but insight about something common to any and all experience. Thus, it's there in the 3-d snow, but it's also there when the 3d-snow winds down, it's in the disappointment about the state ending, in the boredom after the special effects go away, and so on. Noting practice is so great because it's such a good reminder to keep looking in these unlikely places as well.

[Edit: Ah, one last thing! I'm noticing these very, very subtle physical vibrations that occur when not engaged with the helicopter vibes, or rather before those show up, if they do. Similarly slow, though at this point I cannot tell if they're the same frequency. Sometimes it's a whole body/awareness thing, sometimes it's part of the body, sometimes it's the "background". Familiar to anyone?]


What happens when you get your noticing in synch with them?

Cheers,
Florian
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:


Well, yes - but don't go looking for stuff (and if you find you do, which you will, be sure to note the searching). Get into looking at this stuff. Daniel has this great image of standing waist-deep in water, keeping your hand on the surface waves so it never leaves the water, but the back of the hand doesn't get wet. That kind of fused observing-the-thing-while-staying-with-it-while-not-making-a-splash.



Thanks again Florian, your advice has been absolutely invaluable. This is another crucial piece, I believe - a balance I'm still getting thing hang of. In my last 2 sits the flashing has been really strong and the vibes have become more refined, it seems. A few moments of "was that it?" but I think I was fooling myself. An interesting experience just now, however, which I'll write on below.

Florian Weps:

Formal resolve: "Let the 3-D snow arise". Trust the process.


Seems to be working...now resolving for stream-entry (as I read elsewhere, it can't hurt!).

Florian Weps:

If I may, because it was something that held me up for a long time: What you're looking for is not the specifics of some refined experience - flashes of light and donut-hole shaped doors were my favorites - but insight about something common to any and all experience. Thus, it's there in the 3-d snow, but it's also there when the 3d-snow winds down, it's in the disappointment about the state ending, in the boredom after the special effects go away, and so on. Noting practice is so great because it's such a good reminder to keep looking in these unlikely places as well.


Did I just laugh my way to a higher equanimity stage (or - unlikely - fruition)? Not too worried about it at the moment, but of course curious. For some reason, when I read the above passage - especially about look for the specifics of experience (just seeing myself doing the same just a moment ago) - I just broke out in hard laughter, uncontrollably for like 30 seconds. It was right after a long sit and I felt (and feel) even more free and easy. I also went and sat right back down for another 30 minutes or so to investigate. Getting lots of flashing and thus what I take to be continuing of the synching process? Got a few more sits in me tonight, I believe, so I'll report back if anything else arises...

Florian Weps:

What happens when you get your noticing in synch with them?


Not sure how causal it is (it's got to be related though), but the subtle vibes precede the flashing, generally (and then I notice them again when the flashing stops for a time).

Essentially, I think I've got the bare minimum concentration for this stuff (if that?), so some of the subtleties of the shifts and so forth are currently outside my ken. But I'll keep investigating.

Okay, off to prepare for another sit in a bit. Again, your input is much appreciated!

Best,
Chris
thumbnail
Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

Sounds good. Yeah, resolve to get stream entry.

If you want to up your concentration, go cultivate that 4th jhana state you found. Sitting in it, learning how to enter and exit it, observing how it comes together and falls apart, is pleasant, gets your concentration nice and clear for noting practice, and also reveals a lot about equanimity.

Oh, and I got so much out of repeatedly listening to the three-part Hurrican Ranch Dharma Discussion between Daniel, Kenneth, Hokai, Vince, and Tarin. The novel (to me) way Hokai presents this territory, and the way it's further discussed from all kinds of angles and approaches - it's just such a gold-mine of inspiration and information. Maybe it works for you like it did for me.

Cheers,
Florian
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
So, some interesting developments here...possibly.

First, thanks for the additional tips. I'm coming to find, at least for me, shifting from 3rd to 4th takes a tricky sort of finesse - like one has to anticipate or sense the opening and go for it...but wait, not too hard or it'll be overshot! That's what it seems like so far. Again, a way that I seem to be able to tune into it is when the background sound begins to become more apparent and increases in frequency (or at least appears to do so as I come notice it more strongly) - that's when to make a move.

Also, gotta love the Hurricane Ranch talks! Listened to them a few weeks ago with great relish and, coming back to them, am amazed at how much more and more different resonances I get with them this time around. The AF discussion with Dan and Tarin looks intriguing, but I want to get my bearings first.

Speaking of which, last night, I resolved for stream entry that very evening. At the end, was quite tired and feeling some knee pain that I hadn't felt before, so decided to back off forcing more sits (it was my 4th or 5th 1-1.5 hour sit of the day). I was okay with it, though (thanks equanimity!).

However:

-Was noticing how much more "intense" things were getting in the 3rd eye region and behind the eyes (the pulsing is so tiring it almost hurts!). Also, I was recently having an interesting knob of pressure moving around my head (seemingly apart from the 3rd eye), but now it's seemed to have settled down right near or at where I previously felt the 3rd I pressure around A&P...however, it's much stronger (but more contained, if that makes sense) and less pushing out at the forehead...or something. It's kind of like post-A&P but not quite so intense - more subdued. Anyone else experience this sort of this around Equanimity or thereafter?

-I woke up a few hours later and couldn't immediately fall back asleep, so I thought, "Well, why not meditate?" Did so for only about 20 minutes or so and then, due to fatigue, laid in bed to continue to meditate (no choice because of so much activity in the third eye region!)

-Seemed to get to 4th Jhana territory (increase in the sound frequency or the perception of such, more 3d-ness, tingly snowiness, etc.) and then went into a reverie about being a doctor (a childhood dream).

-Suddenly, there was a snap or pop, like of a bone (but not connected to the dream) or a piece of wood.

-I *seemed* to feel a lightness afterwords and a rush of excitement/bliss related to wondering "Was that it?" However, I'm keeping in mind the suggestibility of this whole thing and the obvious subjectivity of interpretations.

-Not sure whether this was before or after the last point, but I remember waking up feeling partial bliss waves? It was a murky period, so I'm unsure of the timing.

Didn't sleep the rest of the night, as the activity has continued to be quite high, but it was alright (this may happen again tonight!). Either in the morning or this afternoon when I was trying to sleep more and couldn't, I did more reclining meditation in bed. Again, there was a pop, but more of a "bump" at the crown chakra region (I've also been noticing activity there since last night or this morning). Also, there was another candidate from my first sit of the morning, but it's less clear.

Anyway, all of this is interesting but I'm not too worried about it. That's either equanimity talking or something else emoticon

I have noticed in later sits today that I seem to start out in that same high activity, intensity at the 3rd eye, and what I equate to be 3rd jhana territory - it's reminiscent of A&P as soon as I sit (though this could maybe be the normal pre-path cycling?). Also, I finally seemed to notice a distinct phase shift in the vibrations during my last sit -- one frequency, almost like a screen door, split apart to give way to another frequency. Again, as my concentration is not quite so precise yet, I have only this and a few other vague possible feeling-tones to go on in terms of cycles (whether path or not).

A few final things I've noticed:
-A LOT of heat/activity in the solar plexus area, as I think April V. had also noticed
-Also, lots of energy running to new places - the knee, behind the knee, crown etc.
-I'm very conscious of how anxious thoughts or even desire, when it bubbles up, has a strong physical correspondence, also bubbling up in the solar plexus or back region. Similar to the heightened awareness of A&P, but it's just so much more chilled out now. And anyway, it all just arises and passes…
-A few times today felt some phase shifts outside of formal meditation, but again it's not much to go on

But anyway, without repeated verifications (and fruition, eventually) this is all patched guesswork that's highly suggestible, so I'll just keep meditating and see what happens.

One thing though, I've gotten the sense from reading around the boards that fruition isn't necessarily immediately reproducible for people, especially attaining especially first path? That it takes a few days or weeks to integrate and be able to control? My guess is that this would make sense given the variability in levels of concentration and skill upon attainment…but I could be wrong.

Well, curious about all this of course, but whether it's a high equanimity or whatever talking, I'm feeling pretty relaxed about it. I spoke with Daniel last night on Skype for some further tips on dealing with equanimity, which was also of great help. Building up to yesterday, I was feeling a decent amount of worry about my upcoming move next weekend and how it would affect practice - but, for the moment I'm not too concerned…I'll just do what I can.

Hopefully equanimity or what have you and mindfulness will carry me through emoticon

Thanks Florian and DO! I'll report back with any further developments or questions soon.
thumbnail
Daniel Johnson, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Hey C T K,
Wow... I just read your reports and found them totally interesting, so I wanted to leave a little comment. I don't really have any advice or anything, but it sounds fascinating. I guess it's interesting because I think I've been moving through similar territories (A&P to equanimity, etc), but I've got to say that almost none of what you say makes any sense to me, and it doesn't even seem like your talking about the same stuff. I find that a strange dissonance in my own mind. Anyway, I'm interested to see how it proceeds for you.

Best,

Daniel
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Daniel Johnson:
Hey C T K,
Wow... I just read your reports and found them totally interesting, so I wanted to leave a little comment. I don't really have any advice or anything, but it sounds fascinating. I guess it's interesting because I think I've been moving through similar territories (A&P to equanimity, etc), but I've got to say that almost none of what you say makes any sense to me, and it doesn't even seem like your talking about the same stuff. I find that a strange dissonance in my own mind. Anyway, I'm interested to see how it proceeds for you.

Best,

Daniel


Daniel,

Thanks for popping in to express your interest! This is pretty cool territory, isn't it? I just read your post "Possible High Equanimity?" It's an uncanny coincidence that I just got up from a sit where I had that same shift! Thanks for posting that, as it gives me more to consider and question in regards to the perennial "where I'm at" line of inquiry (and I've mentioned it below as it's so relevant) . Read on if you're interested.

Anyway, best of luck with the practice and I'll look for more updates on DO about your progress!

So, Ok! More interesting stuff. I took the night off last night to regain my strength and ate a 3rd meal to help calm 3rd eye intensity (I've been sticking to the 2 meals a day schedule of the monastery I'd been staying at). I actually did some informal reclining meditation as I was going to sleep because there was still a decent amount of activity, though fortunately attenuated from the food. Lots of movement at the root chakra - vibrating and seeming to just pulse and emanate energy. I concentrated on that for a bit and then suddenly there was a "poof!" at the sacral chakra and then a moderate lighting up of the mind.

Pretty interesting stuff. Weird to read over again, but it happened!

Anyway, woke up early this morning with lots of energy, so the rest seemed to help. I just finished my first sit of the day, which went as follows:

-Sat down to a more balanced-feeling purple 3rd eye region (kind of a clunky way to put it…). Doesn't feel like it's going to pummel my brain or eyes into oblivion thus far today, fortunately.
-Seemed to progress through the stages: A&P had the cool flowing quality, a few small dots of light I've been noticing recently, which pop up for the first few minutes of my sits.
-DN had lots of physical discomfort, almost a nausea-less nausea (aka dukkha) feel in the solar plexus. Also digestion seemed to be occurring from last night's meal (haven't eaten anything this morning), so not sure if I'm confusing the former phenomenon for the latter.
-Eventually was hanging around upper DN…thought I had crossed into Equanimity because I felt a lot of tension drop from my body, but then I suddenly had thoughts bubble up like "I want to go do something else!" - aka aversion to practice. Hah! Perhaps I was at a transition point? This makes me think of Hokai Sobol's description of Shingon's transition between 3rd shamatha jhana to 4th vipassana jhana, where one relinquishes all (or most) sense of agency and just let phenomena do its thing.
-The background noise continued to pick up in intensity with some occasional bouts of backsliding. Was able to "force" my way into hard 4th jhana-type territory. Hung around, batting back and forth there for while

-SUDDENLY, there was a major shift. In terms of physical feeling, this soft warmth crept up my back and also seemed to fill other portions of the mindspace. Several pieces of advice about the balance of 4th jhana just immediately made sense…this seemed to be an insight-fused-with-experience sort of thing. One of the key pieces that came to mind was what Daniel said to me over Skype about this territory "Just let it do its own thing" or something like that. I had been confused over what to "do" with the helicopter flashes - do I "hit" them with awareness? Do I just sit there? Suddenly, it was clear - by letting go (but staying alert) of those questions, of that particular sort of "reaching" effort, THAT is where the duality disappears! It's now just phenomena doing its own thing!

Pretty, pretty cool stuff.

So, this could either be a fruition or just my first taste of "high" equanimity, as Daniel Johnson has described in his post here

In respect to the former, this seems to be what Florian has said he read elsewhere about fruitions - that they're primarily insight producing. That thought bubbled up right around the shift as well -- that really makes sense to me now, even if it wasn't a fruition.

This could, however, just be another step into equanimity territory. One way to reason this is that such a "realization" of deeper 4th jhana only occurring now might indicate that the first insight cycle isn't complete. That is, wouldn't this already be ovvious (looking around it's hard to say whether there's an observer here or not -- I've been trying to find an observer all morning but can't! However, this again is a pretty subjective mode of inquiry, so I'm not holding anything on the line for it). But I don't know -- do people find that, especially after 1st path, fruition clue them into things more deeply that they would have thought would be clear upon first gaining path? Sorry, hope that question makes sense.

Anyway, I should be able to get another sit in a few hours, so I'll see if I can make that happen again or go even further. Either way, practice continues!

Thanks everyone.

-Chris
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
C T K:

-SUDDENLY, there was a major shift. In terms of physical feeling, this soft warmth crept up my back and also seemed to fill other portions of the mindspace. Several pieces of advice about the balance of 4th jhana just immediately made sense…this seemed to be an insight-fused-with-experience sort of thing. One of the key pieces that came to mind was what Daniel said to me over Skype about this territory "Just let it do its own thing" or something like that. I had been confused over what to "do" with the helicopter flashes - do I "hit" them with awareness? Do I just sit there? Suddenly, it was clear - by letting go (but staying alert) of those questions, of that particular sort of "reaching" effort, THAT is where the duality disappears! It's now just phenomena doing its own thing!


yup. and furthermore, from the vipassana perspective, it may be useful to consider that phenomena is doing its own thing whether or not you're cognisant of it. and yet, clearly there is something good and beneficial in being aware of how things are just happening spontaneously, of their own accord, by just cause-and-effect, and so you should continue to incline your practice in this direction, though not at the price of becoming overly lax. fine tune your alertness. if in doubt, note and notice impermanence.

with regard to meditation descriptions, i recommend writing more about the little things you're noting/noticing during sits, as those details are more likely to give us useful indicators about what you're seeing (and may imply what you're missing).

tarin
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Quick Update:

First, thanks for the comments tarin - I'll make the attempt to write as many concise details as possible after a few more sits when I'm hopefully able to pick out more patterns. Is that state one of the immaterial jhanas or just deep 4th jhana?

Here's a few notes about my sit just now, though, and then below is a longer bit about some kundalini-type experiences going on:

-The past few sits I've seen the frame-by-frame flash by a few times. It's so fast though, am I to just note it like anything else or incline the mind in that direction?

In terms of the cycle of the sit:
-a single, small dot of bright light will appear around various spots a few times
-churning of the mindspace, mixing of vibrations
-sometimes one or several of the following occur: boredom, fear, indulgent sadness or a maudlin-type mindstate, anxiety, etc. when these thoughts come up, there is an obvious, immediate embodied feeling in the stomach of a rush of adrenaline or some type of intense fearful sensation.
-pain/nausea-like feeling in the sacral chakra for some time, like stomach is churning but worse
-eventually pain dwindles
-later will notice pain or tension in the throat
-quickening of the high-pitched mindsound, seems to fill the mind -- often it will "flood" the mind and it feels like the body tenses up to "force" it in...it's half intentional, half unintentional - make sense to anyone?
-frequency of vibrations continues to increase and "mix" (ie synchronize?)
-often around this time (but not exclusively) my posture will shift, with the spine relaxing and stooping a bit. I usually try to balance with letting it happen a bit but not too much
-eye flashing (lightening, camera-type flashes) then occurs
-around now, the painful thought-adrenaline rush is greatly diminished -- only notice some pressure in the stomach, not as much of the "chemical" sensation of anxiety or fear
-sometimes I'll feel warmth in the legs and/or please billowing, fire-like sensations all over the head
-hard to put, but it feels like the mindspace expands and dissolves parts of my body (the rest of my head, parts of my shoulder) - however, there's still the sense of a centerpoint
-after the flashes occur for sometime, there will occasionally be a few occurrences of the frame-by-frame (a few consecutive moments where it seems everything freezes temporarily)

in terms of technique:
-start with noting the breath and any thoughts and feelings that come up (thinking, fearing, hoping, desiring, etc. - sometimes more detailed depending on the speed of thought)
-when the flashing occurs will start to focus on intentions, desires for enlightenment, thoughts of progress, etc (I do this all the time, but the anticipation kicks off more thoughts around this period) and also feelings of comfort etc
-this last sit I really focused on the tension and stress the lines the perimeter of even the pleasant experiences -- this seemed to "progress" things some
-a lot of pieces of advice from DO start to come to mind and even make more sense (e.g. tarin's observation of how "reaching" of the mind, movement, etc. is only a quality of the mind...hopefully I got that right, but something along those lines really seems to make sense when I'm there)

Okay, so anyone who wants to weigh in on the above with tips, by all means emoticon and thank you!

-------

Okay, the kundalini stuff for anyone who's interesting:
I had gotten sidetracked the past several sits with some kundalini openings (slowly creeping electric-fiery sparks moving up my spine during one sit) and some shaking/swaying/etc experiences that seem to come up toward the 3rd-4th vipassana jhana transition (I *think* it's toward the end of Re-Observation/Equanimity). It seems quite a DO folks have experience with this, so I'll track down those threads at some point.

The shaking is a weird thing (actually, only saying it sounds weird…it seems completely "normal" like any other impermanent phenomena or process of the mind), as it's something I can stop at any time, and actually when it happens my body is incredibly relaxed and not exerting any effort (or seems so). It really has seemed to help my body sort itself out a bit (lots of back/joint issues that are slowly recovering), but I think it's a divergent path from gaining stream entry, or at least a bit of a detour as it basically ends my meditation before I can get a solid footing in equanimity or wherever I've been ending up! I was also getting caught up by the experiences and becoming lost in the thoughts of progress/theorizing/fantasizing/etc. While they may be cathartic and "cleansing" I'd like to go ahead and get stream entry first!

Perhaps a useful thing to explore a little later on. Maybe I'll write up a more detailed post about it once I get settled after my move and so forth.

So anyway, I stumbled across the "Bored in Equanimity waiting for first Path?" thread was incredibly helpful, as was "I got lost, help me get back on track" for cluing me in on my own distractedness and slacking on investigation in respect to the kundalini experiences.

I think I'm going to start working on concentration for the first part of my sits, as recommended by a few in the first thread. I've done it a few times and it seems to help. I'll also be making some vows to postpone the "cleansing" shakes or whatever they are until Path, if possible emoticon

Unless something major happens in the next week, I may not be able to post a detailed update, or at least as often, until mid-next week after I'm (hopefully!) settled in Chicago (btw, this will probably be a separate post as well, but any good teachers or DO hardcore-dharma folks in that area?).

Thanks everyone!

-Chris
-
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
A few more things since last night:

I went to bed by doing reclining meditation as I sometimes do when I have the energy.

Woke up to the following:

-A very intense, yet subtle sense of bliss diffusely spread throughout the body
-something akin to centerlessness. I say this because when my eyes were closed I felt as if I was as much centered in, say my chin, as my head. I no longer head a sense of location of many body parts (but they were there).
-A fluttering, soft, variable vibration, what I'd almost identify as sphere-like (though not identify with) that seemed tied to the bliss. It was barely perceivable through the feeling-sense. It was like feeling the vibrations from one location of a fan that would alternate quickly between rapid and slower (longer emphasis on the rapid).
-I guess it was a psychological shock to wake up to this, as I felt panic and fear...yet it was a removed sense (not diffuse in the body, just coming up in one distant location and arising and passing continuously). I was able to tolerate it for a while, but could not manage the restlessness and intensity, so I got up to meditate
-Opening my eyes in the dark, I saw something closer akin the tiny dots (formations?) one sees in the "freeze frame" moments. However, not as clear as those moments in formal meditation.

-Nothing quite memorable from the actual sit, as I was tired

What was that? It seemed again different from anything I've experienced recently -- perhaps another deeper layer of Equanimity?

In my sit just now, toward the end I reached a space that was similar to the above, though not as intensely concentrated.

Hmmm...thoughts?

Another thing, a la Kenneth Folk's Hurricane Ranch description of strata of mind: When I reach what I think to be Equanimity when sitting, I seem to dwell in one sub-strata of mind, if you will, for some time. Eventually, through tuning into to the mindsound more clearly (or sometimes even spacing off and then snapping to attention), the frequency will speed up and permeate the mind more and then I'll have a sense of a phase-shift that includes the nausea-less vertigo I've seen mentioned elsewhere.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? This seems to be something important. Just what, though...
thumbnail
Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

Falling asleep meditating, I have experienced similar stuff to what you describe. I assume it's some concentration thing, some runaway effect of hitting 4th jhana when falling asleep. You must be concentrating a lot for this to happen like that during sleep.

That vertigious feeling... strange thing, isn't it? What I did was examine it and try to figure out what happened during that shift, to see every moment of it with clarity. Can you do that? (Edit: I may have confused your description with something else - does it have a solid, state-like thing to it, or is it more like tipping over the crest of something, like a huge standing wave?) Took me some time, and maybe that was a hang-up on my part, but I don't think so. Keep in mind that you're not chasing strange experiences at this point, but looking at them. (Edit: i.e. don't get too hung up on this particular experience; if it arises, investigate it; if it doesn't, there's plenty to look at, such as the desire to look at that particular experience).

Keep going

Cheers,
Florian

P.S. Chris Marti, who posts over at Kenneth Folk Dharma, is living in Chicago, IIRC.
thumbnail
Daniel Johnson, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
I'm having fun reading your updates, keep at it. Good luck with the move.

- Daniel
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Thanks Florian for your continued input and Daniel as well for the encouragement!

Florian, the vertigous feeling is the like the latter description - tipping over the crest of the wave. It's something I can induce, too, by "flexing" the mind or tensing the core of the body (but it's not the same as exerting in a physical exercise). It also seems to happen "on its own" -- yet, you know, the strange thing is at those moments, particularly in strong phase shifts, it's as if both I am and am not making the effort for it to happen. Perhaps something along the lines of a liminal no-self experience?

Well, I made it through the move despite some paranoia about all sorts of possible catastrophes and general backsliding. I'm using what little momentum I've recovered to do a two-day self-retreat starting tomorrow. I'll report back about that early next week (and will try to keep it concise and detailed if I have a suitable sit in particular or pattern to mention).

Here are my current questions with a bit more description of the experiences further down below:

-I'm back at equanimity (I think) and the eye-light flashing stage. I think I'm starting to get a hang of the effort/surrender thing. I think I'd been getting distracted with trying to "dissolve" the self, which ends up unfocusing my vision/attention, scattering it in a diffuse manner all around mindspace. What seems to work for me is keeping focus around the center, that is where one's eyes would normally be focused looking straight ahead. This way I'm sticking more with the flashing and "riding" the wave a bit better.

Does that make sense and seem to be in the right direction? Any further tips?

-Even though I can get a pretty good syncing of the eye-lights going, there seems to be another wave of lights/vibration behind it. Not sure what to "do" with it (in terms of attention).

Just let it be and let equanimity do its own thing? Try to look behind it?

-Recommendations about investigating the fear I mention below (the last major point)?

Now I'll go to some salient points from the past day:

-woke up laughing in a deep "runaway" 4th jhana last night after falling asleep meditating. Was having a dream where I was working with some friends (at my old job) when suddenly I realized I didn't "have to" work and could just let them do it if they like (or that's my interpretation from the hazy afterglow and upon reflection). some interesting possible interpretations about realizing that the self could let go or something more insight-related and it being meditated on a content-level in the dream…anyway, felt much at ease over that realization which occurred upon waking simultaneously with a silent, dry-mouthed chuckling.
[indent]-Also, did not experience the fear as I did last time…instead was able to work with it for the 10 or 15 minutes before falling asleep (noting, synching, etc.)
-Similar to some of my Post-A&P experiences, I noticed a great space and light-ness open up in my chest, as if some aspect of the weight of being was lifted and I could breath easier. Sound familiar to anyone?[/indent]

-Thus, I think I've crawled my way back to equanimity (for the time being) in the past few days after much dark night-ing last and most of this week. Much of the eye-light flashing as before in today's meditation. I think I'm starting to get the hang of the effort/surrender bit…will write more as I continue to investigate, but two main things:
[indent]-I agree about pumping up concentration -- I think that's where I've been falling short. At least one instance, I pulled back after it seemed impossible for the one flashing part of my mind to synch up with the other. After doing a few minutes of concentration, returned to insight/noting and there was a full synch of flashing (but no path-attainment…it "felt" like progress, though).
-I liked the way S. Kyle phrased the "zooming" into the particles of the eyelids (formations?) or however it was put…I remembered that while I was in equanimity (while meditating) and that effort seemed to instigate a phase shift into another stratum of mind which presented those particles.[/indent]

-I've picked up an element of fear in equanimity that seems somewhat subtle and layered. It pops up when I "imagine" things are synching, is coupled with anticipation, seems to be embodied in the middle of the back, and consists of:
[indent]-Fear of "messing up" or "missing" fruition (noting the fear, noting the craving for a fruition)
-A deeper fear that seems related to a few meditating-dreams I've had where some part of me worried it was going to "lose control" or "get hurt"…the same fear one might feel walking on slippery ground with shoes that have no treading…like both of those fears (loss of control, being hurt) could happen at the same time. Multiple interpretations are possible here, but I investigated and noted what I could.
-Further, many have talked about investigating desires for enlightenment something along the lines of whether one really wants that or not. In the same sit as the fear was most prominent, I investigated that question and the answer is an absolute yet (why the hell would I be doing this? I'm tired of the way I experience suffering now). So I'll just have to look at this fear straight on and note it as it arises. [/indent]

So I've probably rambled enough on this post. Looking the above over, I see how messy and long it is. I promise some day I'll excise the verbosity and write neat, concise, and detailed sit reports (when I can remember more of what happens during each sit!). Or at least, I'll work towards that goal.

Anyway, thank you DhO!
thumbnail
Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Just a few things to try if you're bored, as you seem to be doing fine. Generally speaking, you just need to hang out in equanimity and let it "ripen" or "penetrate it" and so on. Backsliding happens and somehow ties into the "synchronizing" aspect of equanimity at a deep level; Tarin used the image of swinging on a rope, or of a bus picking up and dropping off people until the right crowd is assembled.

You found out how to "get to" the wave-crest thing and the flickering lights thing and so on. Will they arise even if you don't seek them out? Then note that. Also note anything that arises instead. Generally, do more noting, sich as "seeing" the background frequency of the flasing lights, "trying" to "look behind" equanimity, the fear.

On the subject of noting - maybe use a different set of notes? E.g. If you were noting mainly body sensations, you could switch to feeling-tone (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral) for a change.

With the eyes looking/focussing forward, can you get a sense of distance or 3-d perspective or volume or spaciousness? That can be fun to play with - I did a "look at the spacious volume while pumping a meditation word" practice for concentration, fusing the impression of 3d space with the word and the sensations of my body. Listen to the first Hurricane Ranch Dharma Discussion where Hokai describes something very similar with mantra/mudra ("feeling the fist-ness of the fist, saying "ah", and thinking "this is it") to get a really solid 4th jhana thing going.

Take a day completely off from meditation.

I deeply appreciate Duncan's article on The Gesture.

Looking forward to your next post.

Cheers,
Florian
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
As always, thanks for the input Florian. I've settled into what seems to be the "natural"-feeling phase of equanimity (if that's where I am, which it seems to be) for the time being.

Although this didn't happen as noticeably today, I've noticed that during my day, usually 1-2 hours after a meditation, I'll have something a strong but subtle "bliss pulse", where it feels like some gland in my brain is just beating some wonderful neurochemical (which it probably is), the same subtly blissful feeling I have when waking up in the "runaway" 4th jhana. It's quite nice (but of course impermanent, not-self, and in the end suffering emoticon)

Florian Weps:


You found out how to "get to" the wave-crest thing and the flickering lights thing and so on. Will they arise even if you don't seek them out? Then note that. Also note anything that arises instead. Generally, do more noting, sich as "seeing" the background frequency of the flasing lights, "trying" to "look behind" equanimity, the fear.


In just the past two days there's been a shift in the flashing without me necessarily doing anything drastically different. It's been less "bright". I do have the sense, however, of some flashing seemingly occuring behind my eyes, in the same way one would see with their eyes open a flash that goes off from a source behind their head. Mean anything?

Basically, I still get to a point where the visual-vibrations start moving back and forth in space (from over "there" to right up against my eyes, as if they're trying to "break through"), but it's just darker now with the occasional behind-the-head flashes. This, as usual, is accompanied by a seemingly half-intentional, often physical throbbing of my eyes in sync with the vibration.

Question: Do I encourage that? Basically, I just have to pay attention to the flashing and my eyes throb, but if my attention is elsewhere (somewhere else in the body), there's no throbbing.

Actually, to start to answer my own question, I just looked over some of Shinzen Young's stuff and I may give his "do nothing" / focus on rest techniques a try. You know, I've been pushing so hard, in some ways, in equanimity to "investigate" (though I still sometimes slack on noting) and "figure it out" that I'm wondering if I should in fact try the other option, which I really liked the way it was put in the "Bored in Equanimity" thread by Trent S.H.:

Trent S.H.:

This is great. Kenneth and I shared a few stories about this last week. It really does seem like you can get so wrapped up in the investigation & progress that you just become blind to the fundamentals, which ends up creating a thin wall between equanimity & fruition. I remember so many times that I would be pushing, pushing, pushing and could not figure out why in the hell I was stuck. Then I'd remember the fundamental point of allowing experience to be, releasing self attachments, and so on...and then a day or two later the wall would fold over on its own and progress would continue.


So yeah, I've been so cautious of "not spacing out" (though it's nice to sometimes emoticon) that I've been hesitant to relax my attention to much, but it sounds like sometimes that works for people! Kenneth even said in his Buddhist Geeks interview that he just kind of slipped into first path moment. But clearly, I still need to be aware and not just fall asleep, but I'm thinking I might try this way for a bit, assuming that the less bright flashing isn't a "bad" sign and I need to push harder…but just rereading that, it seems to be the opposite point of equanimity…right?

Florian Weps:

On the subject of noting - maybe use a different set of notes? E.g. If you were noting mainly body sensations, you could switch to feeling-tone (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral) for a change.


I do need to note more intently, even if it's gentle and relaxed…so I'll keep working on that.

Florian Weps:

With the eyes looking/focussing forward, can you get a sense of distance or 3-d perspective or volume or spaciousness? That can be fun to play with - I did a "look at the spacious volume while pumping a meditation word" practice for concentration, fusing the impression of 3d space with the word and the sensations of my body. Listen to the first Hurricane Ranch Dharma Discussion where Hokai describes something very similar with mantra/mudra ("feeling the fist-ness of the fist, saying "ah", and thinking "this is it") to get a really solid 4th jhana thing going.


Ok, so as a result of my self-retreat (not too much to report, aside from a few small insights), I've been getting to this really nice open space of awareness. Not quite the 3-d perspective I've been imagining (and maybe that's still possible to cultivate?), but it's akin to a 3-d feeling of space…if that makes sense. As opposed to being in the visual field, it's more like a loosening or integration (though not the full field integration I'm presumably aiming for) of the mind-body with the space around it.

In meditation I imagined some sort of extra, space-awareness-like wings sticking out from my shoulders. Ok, that may be a strange image, but it was like parts of my body and mind have started (will continue, hopefully?) to open up to the space of awareness and they're intermingling.

This is what my sense of "emptiness" might be like. Not sure if I'm misapplying that concept, but in those moments everything (well, not that deep yet, but a lot of things) becomes quite, still, and by extension, seemingly more empty. Hm, will investigate more.

Florian Weps:

Take a day completely off from meditation.


*Shocked, fearful look on face accompanied by a rapid, noisy inhalation of breath*

How…could…you…suggest…such a thing?!?

Haha, no maybe sometime soon I'll do that. Well, I'll probably only get a sit or two in this Sunday, as I'm meeting up with the Chicago contact you mentioned, Chris Marti, along with a few others. So that's something of a break, as I'll actually spend a good amount of the day not meditating and not doing graduate school preparations.

I'm so excited to meet some pragmatic dharma folks in person!

Florian Weps:

I deeply appreciate Duncan's article on The Gesture.


I really liked this as well! Absolutely essential to keep in mind to "include everything" (in the context of meditation, awareness, etc.).

Okay then, I'm looking forward to sitting once more a bit later tonight emoticon

Thanks!
thumbnail
Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Not much to add, except to note the questions, note the indecision, or the decision, or the encouraging - paying attention to how all this is happening now, how this it, this is what is happening, even if it is some fantasy of the future, it is happening now, even if it is a memory of the past, it is being remembered now, and constitutes it.

That sense of space - what are the sensations making it up? Do they have a location themselves? With them, too, note how they are occurring in the present.

It's great news to hear you meeting up with real life practitioners. Say hello to them from me.

Cheers,
Florian
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
An update:

About two weeks ago I was resting in what I had come to think of as a sort of deep equanimity, a space I could pretty easily get to every time I sat - a quiet, open, spacious state where my eyes and head were permeated by pleasant massaging energy tendrils. I was starting to lull out from those nice, heady equanimity vibes in this one sit when suddenly I "heard" a sound in my head (though different from voices, thoughts, perceived sound, etc. etc.) of "Kashoooo!" and it snapped me out of my reverie. I immediately thought "Was that it?!"

I had a bit of a rush in my body but that could've just been due to the excitement of a possible path moment. After the sit I took a walk and the first thing I noticed was that I could really "feel" my feet (I had recently been struggling with a sense of distance from my feet as I walked around trying to note those sensations), as if suddenly they weren't "out there" anymore. The other thing I soon noticed was what happened when I put my hands together, trying to see what Florian has described as a shift in the soft-lighting around the hands or a sharpening of details of the hands. I didn't notice that, however I did notice a sudden emptiness in the sensations…it seemed that before I was was adding something to my perceptions of touch, but that was now gone.

Then, that night I had a "snap" sensation as I was drifting off to sleep that shocked my attention - it was like a shotgun going off in my head. Again, these weren't the same as perceived sounds in meditation, however maybe this is just some weird Equanimity stuff? Or perhaps it was some sort of re-entry phenomenon?

Anyway, over the next week I had many more seeming skips and snaps while sitting and walking around, but no total blinkouts in the visual field or anything, so I remained unconvinced. Also, I haven't noticed any crazy jhanic powers, as I've been slipping pretty easily into light-to-medium jhana for a while. I had been feeling pretty different, if on a subtle level, but then...

In the past week I've felt much more solid in my sits and with sensations in general. I also had an afternoon of hard Dark Night-ing (at least in part caused by stress from my new job). The last time I had a suspected fruition was about 4 or 5 days ago. All this says to me says either the placebo-induced effects of thinking I might have landed path have worn off OR I'm on to 2nd path.

I really don't know…kinda annoying, but I'm just going to continue to sit and land whatever path lays before me to confirm!
thumbnail
tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
C T K:

Anyway, over the next week I had many more seeming skips and snaps while sitting and walking around, but no total blinkouts in the visual field or anything, so I remained unconvinced. Also, I haven't noticed any crazy jhanic powers, as I've been slipping pretty easily into light-to-medium jhana for a while. I had been feeling pretty different, if on a subtle level, but then..


if you sit down and do nothing at all, what does your mind incline to?

C T K:

In the past week I've felt much more solid in my sits and with sensations in general. I also had an afternoon of hard Dark Night-ing (at least in part caused by stress from my new job). The last time I had a suspected fruition was about 4 or 5 days ago. All this says to me says either the placebo-induced effects of thinking I might have landed path have worn off OR I'm on to 2nd path.


OR you're reviewing first path (assuming you completed the cycle) and are, as yet, without the degree of mastery necessary to navigate the progress of insight again and again (and so find yourself stuck here and there, however temporarily).

OR you're sliding around in 4th jhana (where things can get really malleable and powers-y) and beaming yourself all over the place from there (samsara is samsara - any realm can lead to any other realm).

my advice: sit down, resolve to go into cessation, and observe what your mind does.

if you really have gotten path, now would be a good time to review what your goals are, and where you are in relation to them. what would you like to achieve.. what are your ideals for accomplishment? make it as clear to yourself as possible.

tarin
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for your careful questioning, tarin, and comments k a. I've been unable to have a clear fruition after resolving for one...I still sometimes seem to get weird skips or blips and usually it's in deep equanimity, but I think those are near misses or just happen from snapping out of the deep lulling vibes of that territory. I would think by now (about a month) I should be able to call up a fruition if I actually got SE, right?

So I continue to sit as much as I can (right now 2-3 hours a day) and have interesting energy surges and so forth...but of course, the goal is cessation!

I have noticed I've become calmer when I sense a "quickening" of sensations and heightened activity in the crown chakra and so forth, so perhaps a bit of that equanimity is being wired into my brain. We'll see.

I'll post anything amazing that happens or questions when they pop up, but for now I guess there's nothing else to do but keep going emoticon

Thanks everyone.
thumbnail
Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

C T K:
Thanks for your careful questioning, tarin, and comments k a. I've been unable to have a clear fruition after resolving for one...I still sometimes seem to get weird skips or blips and usually it's in deep equanimity, but I think those are near misses or just happen from snapping out of the deep lulling vibes of that territory. I would think by now (about a month) I should be able to call up a fruition if I actually got SE, right?


Can you notice the on-set of the lulling vibes? Don't be lulled.

C T K:
I have noticed I've become calmer when I sense a "quickening" of sensations and heightened activity in the crown chakra and so forth, so perhaps a bit of that equanimity is being wired into my brain.


You've just described Knowledge of Equanimity regarding Formations.

Yes, keep going.

You know, some of the amazing stuff that crops up is how amazingly unremarkable things can be. Don't discount the amazing insights regarding the totally un-amazing.

Cheers,
Florian
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Ahhhhhh...so still going. Managing to get 1-2, occasionally 3 hours a day in depending on my workload. Interesting energy experiences every now and then, such as kundalini heating in the root chakra after qi gong and then during sitting energy rising up to mid-back usually (although one day after doing yoga it went up and down to the top of my back, on the right side).

And also, "ordinary" revelations, such as once I had about still subtly trying to control things when "letting go" in deep-ish equanimity. I realized I was letting go, but with expectation (and not "noticing" the expectation or otherwise subtly masking it).

So recently I've been using what I guess I would call a mantra word. After re-reading the "Bored in Equanimity" post (Outside of Equanimity proper I'm pretty damn bored [bored, bored] and impatient [impatient, impatient] emoticon ) and then this post (the second post of Dan Bartlett's) about the 3C and "the watcher", I came upon a new approach in sitting and daily life that seems to be progressing things that involves investigating this sensation. But I could be wrong?

Florian, I believe you've used a mantra word to good effect -- can you or anyone else familiar weigh in on this approach?

The approach being:

When sitting, I'll build concentration, note for a while, and then pump the mantra word "watcher". This seems to help build concentration while reminding me to focus on the sensations that make up the sense of self (as elucidated in the 3C passage in MCTB quoted in Dan Bartlett's post above). While pumping this word, I'll catch hints of the elusive/illusory sense of self that I'm normally unconsciously embedded in, which disintegrates (or disappears or flees or something) upon investigation. Furthermore, when intense pressure builds up in my head (which it often does, either a third eye rock-solid type feel or something akin to an expanding bubble in the middle of my head…weird), I seem to grasp/push away less when focusing on the sensations that make up the sense of self of the current experience.

Does this make sense? This seems to be what is suggested by this passage Dan mentions, which I'll reproduce here for convenience's sake:

  
There also seems to be something that is frequently called “the watcher,” that which seems to be observing all this, and perhaps this is really the “I” in question. Strangely, the watcher cannot be found, can it? It seems to sometimes be our eyes, but sometimes not, sometimes it seems to be images in our head and sometimes something that is separate from them and yet watching the images in our head. Sometimes it seems to be our body, but sometimes it seems to be watching our body. Isn’t it strange how we are so used to this constant redefinition of ourselves that we never stop to question it? Question it! This odd sense of an unfindable watcher to which all of this is happening yet which is seemingly separate from all that is happening, which sometimes seems in control of “us” and yet which sometimes seems at the mercy of reality: what is it really? What is going on here?

One of my teachers once wisely said, “If you are observing it, then it isn't you by definition!” Notice that the whole of reality seems to be observed. The hints don't get any better than this. Here are three more points of theory that are very useful for insight practices and one’s attempts to understand what is meant by no-self:

1. There are absolutely no sensations that can observe other sensations! (Notice that reality is made entirely of sensations.)
2. There are no special sensations that are uniquely in control of other sensations.
3. There are no sensations that are fundamentally split off from other sensations occurring at that moment.

To begin to unravel this mystery is to begin to awaken. Simply put, reality with a sense of a separate watcher is delusion, and unconditioned reality, reality just as it is, is awakening.


How does that sound? Equanimity is about experimentation, right? Maybe? No? It does seem that Dan, Florian, and others have used this sort of loose, investigatory approach to good effect while in Equanimity, if I'm not misinterpreting and misrepresenting them (and my apologies if so!). And also, of course that passage in MCTB seems to suggest one can do that as well…but once more, I could be misinterpreting?

Also, I'll incorporate other approaches while investigating "the watcher", such as paying attention to all peripheries (which disappear or at least recede upon investigation as well per tarin's recommendation).

In daily life, this seems like a preferred way to at least build concentration (which I think Kenneth said is the glass ceiling for those of us stuck in equanimity or post A&P people) instead of trying to frantically keep up noting while dashing around to classes (a tight schedule during the day makes consistent noting tricky at least at my level of noting). It's difficult, but I can catch snippets of "the watcher" sensations during these times, and even if not at least I'm (presumably) building better concentration.

Thoughts?

Thanks everyone!

Best,
Chris
thumbnail
Daniel Johnson, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Hey Chris,
I didn't really have any thoughts, but I'm still reading and enjoying your discoveries. Are you enjoying the journey? Sounds like you're having some fun investigating the equanimity thing.

Be well,

Daniel
thumbnail
Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Help incorporating noting practice while in Dark Night

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Chris,

Yes, investigate it all. Think, if this is really equanimity, you can't break anything by looking too closely. If this isn't equanimity (just for the sake of the argument), then looking closely at everything will bring you to equanimity.

Don't underestimate noting technique. Note the subtle sense of satisfaction with what you're doing. Note the planning and routine ("I've been here, now to get there I do this" - "planning, planning"). Note boredom - the aversion to unspectacular mind states, the urge to get somewhere more interesting. Note thoughts of the past, plans for the future, even subtle ones ("a few seconds ago / in a couple of moments...").

Cheers,
Florian
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

Subterranean Homesick Equanimity (Vipassana Practice Notes)

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
[EDIT: This thread needed a new title since it's evolved beyond the initial question into my practice notes)

Thanks for the comments Daniel and Florian, for the continued tips as always.

Daniel - hehe, fun? Well, sometimes it's nice, but really, as I'm sure you are as well, I'm just ready to "get it done"! But you know, can't force it and I'm just trying to get out of the way and let it do its thing emoticon

Ok, so... some new developments - can't help but also report the non-ordinary stuff as well! (cross-posted at KFD -- I feel like I should keep up both journals since people have been so kind in commenting):

Practice continues, anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours a day, usually somewhere around 1.5 hours total daily.

I started kasina practice in earnest a few days ago and on my final sit of Friday night I more or less had the strongest taste of jhana (3rd or 4th, not so sure) since I’d re-crossed A&P this summer. What happened was, after doing kasina for 10-15 minutes (all my dry eyes can stand at the moment), I closed my eyes to ride it out and began noting.

Soon after, I noticed that, aside from the normal purplish mind space, high above the horizon was a electric, purple ciricular-ish patch of light. I focused on that, it descended and soon filled my whole vision. Starting from that region and spilling down my arms and chest, I felt a cool melting sensation, as if running water were flowing deep below my skin - and in fact, my skin itself had melted as well as *part* of the usual 3rd eye pressure (or maybe the skin was cool and hot and feeling like it had melted …it’s hard to pinpoint the right description - anyone know what I mean here?). This was accompanied by prickly sensations on the skin’s surface. A sense of calm, spaciousness pervaded my mind that was visually mirrored in the purple mindspace which seemed like walls of cool energy surrounding my bodymind.

Nonetheless, the mind was excited by this new shift and I noted “happy, hoping, expecting, desiring,” and so forth. I was tired and sort of being “absorbed” by the sit even before this, however I may have had a “was that it” moment and thus wondered if this was a “bliss wave”. But then again, every few sits there’s something that the mind grasps onto desiring it to be fruition…so I’m not holding my breath on this being “it”. No huge changes or anything.

Anyway, the sit eventually ended and the calm feeling remained, with more clarity than the normal “meditation hangover”. The next day (today) I didn’t notice anything different.

That night (last night), however, I had a lucid dream. All I remember was the sensation of my body falling towards a road or something and suddenly realizing I was dreaming. I started floating above it. Perhaps there was other content, but then I started to have REALLY strong vibrations in the body. This wasn’t imagined, as I was straddling the boundary between waking and dreaming consciousness and remember being vaguely conscious I was in my bed. This must have been 3rd Jhana, Dark Night, specifically Re-Observation [Edit: NOT Dissolution...I always mixup to the two names] per the description in MCTB - something along the lines of harsh vibrations feeling like they were going to tear your body apart - fits perfectly. Also, I experienced this "ripping apart" meditation/dreaming sensation over the summer while at a monastery - that time it was more akin to being sucked into a wormhole or something, but overall it was quite similar.

Anyway, tonight I had a similar, but less intense and more protracted experience of stronger jhana. After kasina practice and with eyes closed, an electric purpilsh section encompassed more and more of the mindspace. I was subtly interpreting it as the same thing from the previous night and thinking my skin would soon deliciously melt and so forth, but that didn’t happen. I did feel some coolness, but not the same. There was a lot more tension as well - DN type stuff that didnt seem present the night before - and the 3rd eye pressure actually increased probably to its most intense since directly after A&P. However, in the last 5 minutes or so, I had the calm, spacious, encompassing sensation of the previous night, though again not as strongly.

So my interpretation is that the initial electric purple space is strong 3rd jhana and when it encompasses the bodymind in calming spaciousness, is 4th jhana Equanimity. So maybe the other night I skipped through 3rd straight to 4th, whereas tonight it was a slower progression? Hm, who knows.
C T K, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Subterranean Homesick Equanimity (Vipassana Practice Notes)

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
So, it looks like I finally “got” stream entry a little over a week ago. This is what I wrote down immediately after the sit where I (non-)experienced cessation:


At some point in this sit I decided to really concentrate on the feeling of no-self, for some reason. To me this means completely relaxing the body and having the awareness that none of it is “me”. Was sort of in a dreamy state, but had this disposition towards no-self in the back of my mind, and lightly noting space and mindstates. My head was sort of bobbing around and suddenly, for no apparent reason my eyes snapped open. It was like the reaction I’ve had to energy surges I’ve experienced in (what I take to be) high EQ, but there was no feeling of an energy surge per se — just that same action of my body snapping to attention. It seemed like I was reacting to something, except the only thing I can say that it wasn’t an experience — I want to say a non-experience, but I’m not sure if I’m just scripting that. Anyway, I immediately felt this lightness in my head, subtle but palpable, as if a cap had been taken off the top of it. Accompanying that was this great feeling of relief and spaciousness and a new awareness of space around and behind my head — as if my normal conscious perception of my surroundings had expanded beyond the visual field, suddenly and permanently (I still feel it now).

Even though I have trained myself to let go during (many) times where, after a strange occurrence or energy surge, I would question “was that it?” and desperately hope it was, this time, due to the visceral feeling of spaciousness and lightness and relief, I couldn’t help but feel happy, light, and free. It was like the critical part of my mind was continuously going “no, wait now, just wait and see” and the rest of the “knowing” mind was just already accepting it. […] I was still noting anxiety, boredom, fear, etc. but there was a new distance to this and particularly of note, these feelings had lost some of their weight — as if some portion of what “I” was adding to it was no longer being added.

The overriding feeling is/was a sense of openness and lightness.

Also — although doubt about this arises, it doesn’t stick (I just watch and it dissolves) and again, it is not “heavy” like it was before. Worry and anxiety aren’t snowballing either — I can just watch them dissolve as well.


So since that time, this sense of lightness in the head and expanded awareness has remained, though it seems to be integrating quite nicely so is not as spectacular as that weekend. Also, changes in my experience include increased energetic activity, fruitions (easily initiated through the “eye flicker” technique), attenuated thoughts and feelings - which are now much less sticky - and, most importantly, a marked reduction in suffering. There is indeed a sense that my mind is just not doing a lot of unnecessary things anymore.

These past few months I’ve met with Kenneth over at KFD on a few occasions, which really helped focus and refine my practice. I found that noting out loud was a good “feedback loop” to help me tweak the technique and that noting mind states off-cushion like a fiend might just have been that last bit of momentum needed to get it done.

Here at DhO specifically, I want to extend a huge thank you to Daniel Ingram, of course, for bringing this to the masses emoticon I have been suffering so intensely for so long due to my “stuff” and the more fundamental misreading of reality and thus I am so unbelievably grateful for the hardcore/pragmatic dharma communities (despite being a virtual lurker here and at KFD due to spending all of my limited time [formally] practicing). While there is obviously much much more to go, and I’ll be interested to explore the other modalities after 4th path (or maybe before?), this has made a huge dent in the amount of suffering in my life.

But, of course, we’ll see what sticks ^_^.

Regardless....THANK YOU!!! emoticon

Also, I especially appreciate Florian Weps’s consistent advice in those “early” days (all six months ago). They were invaluable and I really appreciate the time taken to answer my (many) questions. Shout out to tarin greco for help here and in my first thread where I was just getting into this territory. And, of course, Daniel Johnson’s optimism and encouragement here were very much welcome emoticon

Ok, the award speech is over.

Hope to see (and meet) some of you all around DhO if I can make the time for posting

emoticon

emoticon
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Subterranean Homesick Equanimity (Vipassana Practice Notes)

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
hehe, awesome! always good when people attain paths. work on some samatha jhanas - they'll come in handy later, and it's easy now, with just about the only difficulty being in getting yourself to sit down and do them as it'll seem like there's no point.
Chris ^_^ ., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Subterranean Homesick Equanimity (Vipassana Practice Notes)

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Thanks Claudiu (or do you prefer Beoman?), Yeah I feel you on the seemingly pointlessness of sitting. I'm still doing it out of habit, though, and I definitely want to cultivate samatha jhanas while I can, before another major DN possibly hits emoticon I don't want to get rusty for when it counts.

Plus, the steadily increasing strength of jhana is quite nice. The gripping tension pre-path is gone (where it felt like there was some sort of cap to jhana) and, while I still have some head tension, I'm able to release it when it arises. I'm sure it will return with a vengeance at some point, but I'll enjoy the brief respite while I can.

Breadcrumb