New to this

Christian, modified 4 Years ago at 12/10/17 5:24 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/10/17 5:24 PM

New to this

Posts: 3 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
I've been interested in buddhism for many years, but read basically only zen buddhism, and couldn't really figure out where I was going with the meditation, so never kept it up for more than a few weeks at a time. I had no technique except to focus on quieting my thoughts, and little knowledge of concentration. I recently started reading MCTB and started more formal practice focusing on concentration. For the first week or two I had the impression I was getting nowhere. I read the chapter on the samathi jhanas, and felt really disappointed, because I couldn't recognize even the first stage. Then I thought "hang on, that can't be right". I tried paying attention to what was going on, and I'm thinking maybe I'm on the right track. Access concentration is easy, and feels solid after a minute or two. Then focus on the breath is automatic, and again becomes solid. I feel no particular joy, except maybe some sort of release of worldly worries, and a faint pleasure or feeling that this is right. After five or ten more minutes I am more or less indifferent to what thoughts, feelings or physical sensations show up. After a while this too is a very solid feeling. If I stay with the equanimous feeling, I get an "opening" that makes my mental view a lot more visual. It's got depth and is vaguely green and black. After that it gets very pure and stringent and "there" all in front of me. Then it all goes away and seems empty. At the end, if I continue to focus, it beomes really strange. My body might feel like its swelling up or deforming, sometimes only in the face, but sometimes my whole body seems to expand to a sphere. Also there is this sense I remember from a recurring dream I had as a child, that the "real" me is located to the side, and the normal sense of self is an imposter. Other stuff too, but it's just weird. It's creepy. Would anybody like to comment on this? Am I passing through the jhanas, to the formless realms? It seems too fast, somehow.

I feel insecure about where I'm at because I'm new to this, and my experiences don't map exactly to the samathi jhanas as described in MCTB. I've started insight meditation, but I feel even more insecure there, and I'm not sure I'm doing things right. I don't feel comfortable with the noting where you specify exactly what is going on. It feels like it takes to much time, and I sort of naturally started letting my attention flow more freely, but while taking extra care to notice what is happening. I can clearly separate body and mind, but I think this must be something I picked up earlier, because I've had no epiphany. I'm sensing the aftereffects of sensory input as an echo, but I'm having problems seeing intentions clearly. Again, I feel like my experience doesn't map the way it should, and I'm unsure of whether I'm on the wrong track. I feel very strongly that this is something I have delayed for far to long, and I spend at least an hour sitting each day, and as much time as I can manage just paying attention to every little impression otherwise. Also reading and checking out other sources. Am going on mini-retreat with a friend this weekend for three days, but unsure how many hours of meditation to go for. Comments? Advice?
thumbnail
Richard Zen, modified 4 Years ago at 12/10/17 10:14 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/10/17 10:14 PM

RE: New to this

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Read the Shape of Suffering to see the cause and effect of suffering so that you learn faster. It's complicated but the book is free and you can see the causes and effects that are happening all the time, and how they are causing suffering. By gradually mastering the different parts of depending arising, you can start predicting mental movements and actions in real life as having obvious suffering and you'll learn to let go of clinging or create alternate actions that make life more enjoyable in the long-run.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/shapeofsuffering.pdf
thumbnail
Daniel M Ingram, modified 4 Years ago at 12/11/17 6:42 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/11/17 6:42 AM

RE: New to this

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
In the early part of the first vipassana jhana, the early insight stages, bodily image and shape distortion is very common, particularly the lips, face and hands feeling large and sort of strange (aka the humonculus), as are changes in the visual field. Keep going!
Christian, modified 4 Years ago at 12/11/17 7:20 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/11/17 7:20 AM

RE: New to this

Posts: 3 Join Date: 12/2/17 Recent Posts
Thank you for the feedback. Will read The Shape of Suffering, and keep going.