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Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/14/18 11:54 PM
Nobody ever told me taking acid would turn me into a spiritual junkie. But here I am, getting back into meditation again, and this time I want to finish what I started.

A little background: I've been fascinated with psycadelics since college, especially after achieving ego death several times on LSD. I had these moments, these rare glimpses, where there was no longer an 'I'. It was like I was completely integrated into the rest of universe. And I felt at peace. Now I've done other drugs. In fact I've probably done every drug you've heard of and most you haven't. I've felt hours of almost painful euphoria from MDMA and days of blissful apathy from heroin. But nothing ever compared to the experience of ego death on LSD. In those moments I was so at peace that prior to having experienced it, I couldn't even conceptualize how at peace I could be. The experience of ego death only last a few moments but the aftershock continues to send ripples into my life. Even when it first happened, I knew I wanted to feel that way all the time. Or as close as possible as I can get.

Fast forward a few months and I find an incredibly well written explanation of the stages of insight on less wrong. I started doing Mahasi-style noting. I worked my way up to an hour a day and eventually got to the point where I started having what I can only describe as full-body orgasms during meditation. I assume that's A/P style stuff. And it's at that point where I really realized I wasn't just making that stuff up in my head.

Then everything went wrong. Years of depression and bullshit. Which I am mostly out of. In fact I haven't been feel bad much at all lately. I bought a copy of the excellent The Mind Illuminated and I've been doing 35 minute samatha sessions in the mornings, trying my best to follow the guide completely. I'm also doing 35 minute mahasi-noting / choiceless awareness sessions in the evening. Every 10 days I increase the amount of time by 5 minutes, eventually I want to get up to 2 hours a day. I've discovered through trial and error that setting a consistent schedule and never missing it is the best way to build up momentum.

Which brings me to my current situation. I have two questions:

1) My experience with mahasi-noting is that my awareness is incredibly wide. I seem to see vibrations in all my sense, and my mind is constantly switching between them. But they aren't 'clear', in fact it feels like I'm completely overwhelmed with information, making noting a real chore, although I'm still trying as hard as I can. Everything is far too fast for me, and I'm making seemingly such slow progress, that it's hard to believe I ever reached the vortex raptures of A/P. Is this the dukkha nanas? Should I start from the beginning and climb back up to A/P if I haven't practiced in a while? If I'm in the dukkha nanas, why am I not super depressed anymore?

2) Is there someone, anyone with experience reaching stream entry, that I can talk to on instant messenger or something? I really want to make sure that I'm doing the right thing, building up enough momentum to reach fruition on a future retreat. It seems like I'm just completly stone-walled trying to keep up with the massive amount of vibrations I perceive these days.

Thanks in advanced.

- Fox

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/15/18 9:05 PM as a reply to Skunk.
Hi Skunk,
1) My experience with mahasi-noting is that my awareness is incredibly wide. I seem to see vibrations in all my sense, and my mind is constantly switching between them. But they aren't 'clear', in fact it feels like I'm completely overwhelmed with information, making noting a real chore, although I'm still trying as hard as I can. Everything is far too fast for me, and I'm making seemingly such slow progress, that it's hard to believe I ever reached the vortex raptures of A/P. Is this the dukkha nanas? Should I start from the beginning and climb back up to A/P if I haven't practiced in a while? If I'm in the dukkha nanas, why am I not super depressed anymore?

Have you thought about developing more concentration? That together with a strong intention to go fine might help you focus in on specific vibrations you want to track. Culadasa has some excellent techniques in his book about how to develop concentration. Also, I would not stress about it, but just try to take it natural and easy. Another benefit is that if you develop concentration enough into jhana, it helps to reduce if not eliminate the dukkha nanas. Traditional Theravadan practice counts only one type of jhana, what Culadasa calls the luminous jhanas, which in my experience are difficult to achieve, but the whole body jhanas and the pleasure jhanas are more accessable. In fact, the whole body orgasm you mention further up in the post sounds like one of the jhana factors,  piti, which is usually translated as "rapture" though I think that doesn't describe the phenomenon to me. Some folks call it "energy".

Hope that helps.

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/16/18 9:08 AM as a reply to Skunk.
Dear Skunk,

I know a few people that might be useful to talk with. I might have some time next week as well, depending on my schedule. PM me in the messages section.

Perceiving massive amounts of wide vibrations sounds like the opposite of stonewalled and instead sounds like good practice to me. Anything wide and chaoticly vibratory is some higher insight stage than the A&P. There is a low equanimity phase that can feel like that, wide, very complex, and yet not Dark Nighty. Read Practical Insight Meditation, noticing that, once things get complex and too fast to note, he changes the instructions: pay attention to those sections and read carefully. At that point, it is likely a question of balancing factors. It is true that more concentration in general is useful for most, unless that becomes too tight or effortful. If you are experiencing a lot of rapid vibrations, Investigation is likely strong. You are probably missing some low-level frustration, future thoughts and planning, as well as analysis if you are reaching out on a forum like this one, so give those sensations a bit more attention, particularly where they occur in the body if you can find them. If things are too harsh, more Tranquility and Equanimity might be useful.

TMI is definitely quality foundational practice.

As to a retreat: what is your retreat plan? When, where, with whom, and for how long?

If you are looking for something in a different direction, could always try candle flame: www.firekasina.org, as it can get people out of their heads if they are good at visuals and show them things about attention, awareness, the shape of the jhanas, as well as other things that are often harder to see through other objects.

Best wishes,

Daniel

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/16/18 3:52 PM as a reply to Skunk.
I cannot give you meditation advice, but I have been through the LSD experience and know what that can do to both the mind and to one's practice.  If you want to discuss anything, I would be happy to. 

The amazing thing is, that experience you had on acid, is what is "real".    You do not have to do anything to achieve it or be it or anything.  The stuff you identify as "not it" is just a movie running in your mind.  Why pay any attention? 

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/16/18 4:33 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
I haven't been doing any drugs lately, but what do you mean by LSD's affect on meditation? I've noticed in the past that smoking weed before doing vipassana made everything very clear and wide, and I've been curious as to whether or not microdosages of LSD or other psycadelics can positively affect progress.

Although I'm so invested that I don't want to screw up my progress, so I've been putting my curiosity on hold until I obtain first path.

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/16/18 5:07 PM as a reply to Skunk.
I dont mean using LSD to advance your practice - that is a dangerous road that usually leads to nuttiness - I mean that having had access to some powerful drug aided insights and experiences, I think some minds go through the progress of insight in a different way than ordinary.  It can be very hard to have had such a powerful and apparently valid experience and then not be able to "reachieve" it.  

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/16/18 9:44 PM as a reply to Skunk.
Skunk:

1) My experience with mahasi-noting is that my awareness is incredibly wide. I seem to see vibrations in all my sense, and my mind is constantly switching between them. But they aren't 'clear', in fact it feels like I'm completely overwhelmed with information, making noting a real chore, although I'm still trying as hard as I can. Everything is far too fast for me, and I'm making seemingly such slow progress, that it's hard to believe I ever reached the vortex raptures of A/P. Is this the dukkha nanas? Should I start from the beginning and climb back up to A/P if I haven't practiced in a while? If I'm in the dukkha nanas, why am I not super depressed anymore?


Here's my limited advice:  Be sure to note clearly the sense of being overwhelmed, the sense of feeling that noting is a chore, the sense of everything passing too quickly, the desire to return to the rapture of the A&P, and especially the urge to place your experience within the framework of the maps.

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/17/18 8:15 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Dear Skunk,

I know a few people that might be useful to talk with. I might have some time next week as well, depending on my schedule. PM me in the messages section.

Perceiving massive amounts of wide vibrations sounds like the opposite of stonewalled and instead sounds like good practice to me. Anything wide and chaoticly vibratory is some higher insight stage than the A&P. There is a low equanimity phase that can feel like that, wide, very complex, and yet not Dark Nighty. Read Practical Insight Meditation, noticing that, once things get complex and too fast to note, he changes the instructions: pay attention to those sections and read carefully. At that point, it is likely a question of balancing factors. It is true that more concentration in general is useful for most, unless that becomes too tight or effortful. If you are experiencing a lot of rapid vibrations, Investigation is likely strong. You are probably missing some low-level frustration, future thoughts and planning, as well as analysis if you are reaching out on a forum like this one, so give those sensations a bit more attention, particularly where they occur in the body if you can find them. If things are too harsh, more Tranquility and Equanimity might be useful.

TMI is definitely quality foundational practice.

As to a retreat: what is your retreat plan? When, where, with whom, and for how long?

If you are looking for something in a different direction, could always try candle flame: www.firekasina.org, as it can get people out of their heads if they are good at visuals and show them things about attention, awareness, the shape of the jhanas, as well as other things that are often harder to see through other objects.

Best wishes,

Daniel

I do appreciate the writer of MCTB reaching out to me. For some reason I can't seem to PM anyone, maybe because I'm on Linux and Firefox. In any case, it is good to know I am making progress. My retreat was going to be at home, since it would be my first I was going to do a 24 hour retreat, with the same schedule as I've found online for goenka retreats but practicing Mahasi noting.

I have not read Practical Insight Meditation before but I'm going to grab a copy. I'm thinking about switching to just following TMI's techniques for both my sessions, as I had a great experience yesterday practicing them that seemed to make my attention much more stable while also allowing me to perceive vibrations clearly in all the senses.

I've never tried kasina before, but I have been interested in it for a while.

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/17/18 8:29 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I dont mean using LSD to advance your practice - that is a dangerous road that usually leads to nuttiness - I mean that having had access to some powerful drug aided insights and experiences, I think some minds go through the progress of insight in a different way than ordinary.  It can be very hard to have had such a powerful and apparently valid experience and then not be able to "reachieve" it.  

Does it actually lead to insanity or a danger of psychosis? I just had an interesting experience regarding drugs and meditation. A little background: A friend of my drowned last weekend and me and my friends had a memorial for him yesterday. Naturally being the skillful people we are, we decided the best way to deal with our feelings was to get fucked up.

Some of us anyway, I live at this pseduo-hippie commune with 99 other people, and there was beer and talking and joking and crying. What's important is that I ended up getting pretty high for the first time in a while. I sat down to meditate, not mashi noting, but TMI's instructions for balancing concentration and awareness. Here's what I found:

1) At the beginning, I was instantly in the territory of formations. Different sense-doors seemed to combine together in this sort of 3-dimensional way. I also ran into this weird territory where I felt like my sense of being an obeserver was 'outside' of myself. Like I was watching myself carry around a sense of being an observer. Actually it felt like it was flickering, which was really weird. I started having the period of not being able to properly reflect on my experiences. It freaked me out, so I decided to sober up for a few hours, then I sat back down.

2) Things were much more enjoyable when I was only a little high. It seemed like my peripheral awareness was much wider, but everything was still clearer. I was able to make observations about my concentration that I wouldn't have normally. I realized very clearly that one of the obstacles I'm facing is having far too 'tight' a grasp of my breath, while not allowing my awareness to expand properly. I realized by actually temporarily allowing a few distractions I could open up by awareness and then return to being as present as possible. Like I could see my mind delicately balancing the appropriate energy level to move into deeper levels of concentration. By the time I finished meditating I felt totally sober, but I was in a very deep (perhaps jhana?) state of concentration where it felt like maintaing this state and perceiving the sense doors was completely effortless.

All in all although I doubt meditating while high particularly improved my skills, it did give me sling me forward in my practice. And as I slowly returned to sobriety I felt like I was seeing a map of the road ahead in terms of what I need to work on. It might be an experience I'd like to return to in perhaps a month's time.

RE: Getting Back Into It
Answer
5/17/18 1:20 PM as a reply to Skunk.
The conversation about drugs and how they help, hurt or confuse is a long one.  Generally, drugs make you relax and change the way the mind fabricates reality.  This dual action allows the mind to experience what feels like deeper and more amazing experiences and can kick down the mental walls that confine people into a particular identity, set of problems and reality.  

What mostly happens, though, is you start chasing the spiritual highs the same way heroin users chase the heroin high.  It feels so true and good compared to regular consciousness (at this stage of progress) that the mind just wants to get higher and higher.  Eventually, the high mind in meditation is so different from the anxious walking around mind that the two become disconnected.   Folks often either get stuck in some anxiety attack and freak out or just stay high and check out.   

The whole game of getting better and better feeling mind states is the wrong game to play in the first place.  All mind states are the same.  That is what the truly bad ass practicitioners come to realize.  It is fucking hard to accept and getting high may up your rate of progress in seeing this for some time, but it has so many blind alleys and that I wouldnt reccommend doing it regularly as part of practice.  


if ever do and find yourself in need of any help, let me know.