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Some confusion about my experiences

Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/21/18 9:38 AM
Please forgive the length of this post. I wanted to give enough context to convey my experience. I have skimmed parts of MCTB, but I have not examined it in depth, so my understanding is somewhat limited, and thus I am hesitant to post this, but I'm also curious to know others' perspectives. Feel free to skim this or only read the parts that catch your attention.

I have been interested in meditation for a number of years, but it was really on/off for most of that time. A few years ago, I became interested in cognitive behavioral therapy, and spent a lot of time observing and writing down my thoughts, which led to an interest in mindfulness-based psychotherapy. I wouldn't say I had any real fundamental insights at the time, until the experience I will describe next. 

Experience 1:

Let me say that I am a professional classical musician, so concentration practice is something I engage in on a regular basis, apart from meditation. I was practicing singing one day, and I was getting extremely frustrated with one particular exercise.

I don't know how else to describe this, but after banging my head against the wall for quite some time I suddenly had a flash of insight, and the following realizations all hit me almost simultaneously:

* I saw why I was having difficulty with the exercise. It was not because it was "hard", but rather because my mind had constructed an alternative version of the exercise based on my overactive imagination, and I was trying to solve that version instead.
* I saw why I was frustrated with the exercise. It was not because I was failing. It was because of my unwillingness to experience the failure itself, and since I was failing, this left me with no other options besides trying to crawl out of my own skin.
* I saw that the reason I was frustrated with the exercise was the same reason I have ever been frustrated with anything in my life (and that "frustration", "anger", "boredom" are all different ways of saying the same sort of thing).
* I saw my mind trying to figure out the exercise, and I saw myself watching my mind.
* I realized that my mind was feeding me a version of reality that just wasn't objectively true. I saw how my intelligence is at the root of my suffering.
* I realized how possible it was to just disregard the fake reality concocted by my mind, how it is a matter of willingness and awareness, rather than "belief".
* I realized that every single part of me, all of my feelings, thoughts, actions, sensations, etc., could all be laid out in front of me and watched, and that there was nothing at the center holding it all together except for my own awareness.
* I realized (and this surprised me) that I suddenly knew exactly what the purpose of meditation was.

Over the next several weeks, I began looking at everything differently. I would break down in tears randomly, as I noticed how much simpler reality was than I had previously thought it was, how much of my pain was of my own doing, and how liberating it felt to just let go of it.

It is interesting to me that I was not meditating when this happened, and had not been for several months prior. I wasn't "trying" to have this experience. But, it convinced me that I should give meditation more serious consideration.

What is this experience? Does this correspond to a stage of insight?

Experience 2: 

Last year, I attended a 10-day Goenka retreat. As some may know, the goal for the first few days is to maintain concentration on the breath.

The instructions given (at this course, and elsewhere) are something like "focus on the breath, and when your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath." It occurred to me to try something else. What I did was something like this:

attention on the breath
mind wanders to X
don't try to stop it, don't try to return to the breath, but stay on X
wait for the awareness of the breath to return
observe how I can be aware of both X and the breath at the same time

In this way, the sense of effort required to maintain concentration on the breath disappears. Constantly moving my attention from one thing to the next, and dragging it back when it wanders feels like I am jolting myself awake every few seconds, and this makes it impossible to concentrate. In my alternative way, however, there is a groove I can get into. It's like I first give my mind permission to wander, and then once it is in that "wandered" state, it is more receptive to concentrating on an object of my choosing. 

What is this? Am I fooling myself? Am I better off trying to work on "real" concentration? 

Experience 3:

At the retreat, I was sitting in the meditation hall, in a rather uncomfortable position. Focusing on the breath. I felt like I was in a pretty deep state of concentration. I noticed my foot was pressing painfully into the floor. I experimented with observing this sensation without reacting to it. It stopped feeling like pain, and turned into pleasant vibration. 

After a couple minutes of this, suddenly, it felt like the floor dropped out from under me, and my body disappeared. I was filled with a sense of bliss, and I did not want to stop meditating. 

I don't know how long that went on for, but at some point I then had the sudden realization that I could feel absolutely everything I was experiencing. All of the pains in my whole body, the feeling of gravity pulling on everything. It was a terrifying feeling, and I had the thought that I had unlocked something horrible, and would never be able to ignore any sensation ever again. 

I snapped myself out of it, and thankfully my normal sense of body reappeared. I realized that my foot was practically bruised from digging into the floor, and the idea that I had somehow learned to ignore pain was extremely unsettling to me. 

Experience 4:

At some point on the retreat, I started noticing pressure in my face. My first thought was that I had successfully relaxed my jaw so much, that I had caused some kind of muscular problem. This turned into fears about air being trapped in my sinuses, as I realized the pressure correlated with my breathing. 

This has continued after the retreat (almost a year later). It basically only happens while meditating, however, and I do think it is some kind of postural habit. I believe that this sensation caused some kind of standstill in my meditation practice, as I have spent a good part of the past year trying to fix it or avoid it. Over the past month or so, I have made the decision to stop doing this, and press on through it, observing the sensations with equanimity. I believe this has been productive, as it has led to some interesting insights about the cause and effect relationships between movements of different parts of my body.

Experience 5:

Less than a week ago, I made the decision to not only observe sensations, but to really make an effort not to move, for an entire hour, just as an experiment. This has led to some insights. To begin with, it is incredible how many urges I have to move, even slightly. Ignoring these urges requires holding my body still, which leads to tension and fatigue, which at first convinced me it couldn't possibly be the right thing to do. 

However, I had the realizations that (a) letting myself relax wasn't doing much good either, (b) I really had no idea what the correct posture was, so trying to find it was possibly a complete distraction, (c) whether I let myself move or not, either option led to more input, which I could simply observe, and (d) either option could be described as "I am interfering with the process rather than simply watching", so I'm stuck either way and might as well go along for the ride.

After doing this for a short period of time, there was a definite moment when something shifted. Sensations rise up inside me, almost irresistible urges to adjust my posture, even slightly, and I have been watching them come and go. They occur as pain, nausea, frustration, shivers, thoughts, muscle clenching, (and strangely enough, forgotten memories from my childhood), etc. But actually, none of them has lasted as long as I thought it would. They come, I watch them, and then sometimes I have this weird intense sensation like my spinal cord is being tickled or something, and they vanish (often accompanied by blackness in my vision and increased concentration). This has been happening regularly over the past several days.

The thought also occurred to me that I was latching on to positive sensations as well, which is something I had never noticed before (everything has always been in terms of lessening the impact of negative experiences). When one of these negative sensations dissolves, I am left with a sense of relaxation and sometimes excitement, but I noticed that this was causing me to adjust my posture as well. So, I recommit myself to observation, without movement. Sometimes that leads to an immediate arrival of another negative sensation, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, I've been doing well simply noticing. I think I am on to something here. 

In summary, I feel like I have gone through a process like this:

Step 1. "Meditation is painful and confusing, and although I like the idea of it, I am only taking it on other peoples' word that it does much good."

Step 2. "I suddenly get exactly what the point is. I feel like a transformed person that understands the meaning of life.  I have discovered the cause of my suffering (and everyone else's suffering as well). I need to tell everyone I know about this. Wow, I am completely enlightened, and I don't even meditate all that much."

Step 3. "This is painful and incredibly uncomfortable. I'm a failure and a fraud for claiming to be into meditation when really I spend all my time obsessing over my posture and cheating on how long I go for. I am bitter and resentful toward others who don't have the insights I am now forced to have about cause and effect, and are able to live in blissful ignorance. All that said, deep down, I basically get what's going on here, since I can't deny the experiences I know I had earlier."

Step 4. Enough complaining...Let me bring some curiosity to this and just watch what's happening. I'm fairly certain I got stuck somewhere, so probably the only way out is through.

Step 5. OK, I actually see that some things aren't quite as real as I thought they were. I need to explore this some more. Also, I'm interested in getting more into yoga and exploring this new understanding of physical sensation.

There are probably thousands of other experiences I could add to this list, but I'm just hoping to give a broad picture here.

Some questions (or perhaps the same question asked 4 different ways):

(a) My obsession with posture sounds like the description of the Three Characteristics stage described in MCTB. But my initial experience sounds like A&P, which seems to be out of order. Did I backtrack? 

(b) How does one tell the difference between stuck in a loop and going forward? 

(c) For that matter, how does one tell the difference between "pleasant stages" and "unpleasant stages"?

(d) Is this not just a pendulum swinging back and forth between "Things really suck" and "Oh, nevermind...I just never noticed I was taking some aspect of it too seriously. "?

Thanks for reading!





RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/21/18 1:15 PM as a reply to spatial.
This is an incredible post. Thanks so much for sharing. 

Experience 2 reminds me a lot of Jason Siff's approach. If you haven't heard of him, his books are Unlearning Meditation: What to do When the Instructions Get in the Way and Thoughts are Not the Enemy: An Innovative Approach to Meditation Practice. The gist is really learning not to struggle against or reject any aspect of experience, including mind-wandering. 

On Experience 2, some people would say that you can't really be aware of two things at the same time--that if you pay close enough attention, you'll see that your mind is pinging back and forth between the two objects extremely quickly. But maybe what's happening is that your attention and peripheral awareness are kind of switching polarities. First, your attention is on the breath and other stuff is in peripheral awareness. Second, your attention switches to the object that has become predominant--and you notice that you're still peripherally aware of the breath. I dunno... 

Vince Horn's basic map--Seeking, Breakthrough, Disillusionment, Resilience, Completion--seems to conform remarkably well with your overall take on the progression thus far. You appear to be working on resilience/completion.  

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/21/18 8:36 PM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:

Experience 2 reminds me a lot of Jason Siff's approach. If you haven't heard of him, his books are Unlearning Meditation: What to do When the Instructions Get in the Way and Thoughts are Not the Enemy: An Innovative Approach to Meditation Practice. The gist is really learning not to struggle against or reject any aspect of experience, including mind-wandering. 


I have never heard of him, although the titles of his books appeal to me. Thanks for the recommendation!


On Experience 2, some people would say that you can't really be aware of two things at the same time--that if you pay close enough attention, you'll see that your mind is pinging back and forth between the two objects extremely quickly.


Well, I guess that's probably correct. I also wonder about the following: do these two "objects" even exist? If we are talking about a thought in my mind, there seems to be this sense that there is a train of thought to get lost in, but I think there must be more to it than that. Is the thought of an object at one moment the same as the thought of that object at the next moment? If not, then what sense is it to say that my thoughts about dinner are intruding on my awareness of the breath? It would be more like a stream of thoughts happening one at a time, and sometimes my attention would be on one of them and sometimes on the breath. Also, sometimes it would be on the sensation in my hands, and sometimes it would be on something in my field of vision, etc. Why do the thoughts of an object get a privileged position as something more coherent?

It seems like the tendency to connect thoughts into coherent trains is perhaps a habit that is learned? In this case, I am thinking the goal of concentration practice is to break up those trains, which actually means you need to let the mind go where it wants to go, and then at that point inject some awareness of something else entirely. If you insist on not letting go there, you will always be at the mercy of the train of thought every time you *do* end up there, because you never practiced interrupting it. In this sense, you are really practicing "mind-wandering", rather than "concentration". A fixed object is used only because it is chosen ahead of time to be guaranteed to be independent of any train of thought.

I don't know if I'm making any sense. This is all just my own speculation.

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/22/18 7:06 AM as a reply to spatial.
I also wonder about the following: do these two "objects" even exist? If we are talking about a thought in my mind, there seems to be this sense that there is a train of thought to get lost in, but I think there must be more to it than that. Is the thought of an object at one moment the same as the thought of that object at the next moment? If not, then what sense is it to say that my thoughts about dinner are intruding on my awareness of the breath? It would be more like a stream of thoughts happening one at a time, and sometimes my attention would be on one of them and sometimes on the breath. Also, sometimes it would be on the sensation in my hands, and sometimes it would be on something in my field of vision, etc. Why do the thoughts of an object get a privileged position as something more coherent?


This is a very worthwhile line of inquiry, spatial. This is one of the keys - understanding the processes surrounding the creation of objects and the dependencies therein.



RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/21/18 3:09 PM as a reply to spatial.
What an interesting post.  I'll try to offer some thoughts, although I am not the most qualified.  Maybe somebody more qualified will come along and add some more.

Experience 1 - Sometimes these kinds of insights can be temporary, with fading effects.  Sometimes they have enduring effects that change how you react to the world.  I suggest just be agnostic about that, and instead see it as a glimpse of a future destination - the ongoing realisation that suffering is optional, and that it arises from the delusions that you have about your mind and the world.

Experience 2 - You can find descriptions of similar exercises in Culadasa's The Mind Illuminated for intermediate meditators.  You might want to read that book.  However, I think most people would recommend that when on Goenka, do Goenka.  The retreats are structured around their exercises, rather than anybody else's, so you will get the maximum benefit following their approach.  Also, while I have mentioned TMI, you might want to stick to a single method rather than following a smogarsboard of techniques.  Find the one that suits you and stick to it, for now.

Experience 3 - Sounds like a pretty strong absorption or Jhana/Dhyana.  Bliss is a feature of 3rd Jhana, but lack of body is a feature of 4th to 8th Jhana. Daniel seems to be a bit sceptical that the Jhana's are so fixed, and I guess I wouldn't worry about which Jhana.  However, absoprtions can be useful as they boost concentration.  Here you are reporting a huge boost to sensory observation and mindfulness of the body.  It's good, as it shows progress in deconstructing the usual thoughtless gross perceptions of the world around you. However, you also seem to be reporting a defence mechanism from the mind, arising from the disorientation of this new experience.  Just work on unifying the mind, and next time be ready to investigate the phenomenon instead of reacting in horror.  Then you will make even more progress and may get additional insights.  You may get more disorientation too, but rest assured it fades.  Just be prepared to respond to any disorientation with choices of loving kindness, compassion, and skilfulness for yourself and for those around you.  I think this is why traditional approaches start with refuge in the Buddha, to give you a prop during those more difficult moments.

Experience 4 - I think your question has the answer too! 

Experience 5 - Cool.

Using the maps of insight can be tricky.  I think they are really designed for full time meditators going in a straight line from A to B.  They may not apply so accurately for worldlings like us, and after some progress in insight they seem to become much less linear, or at least the stages vary a lot in prominence and some stages can appear to be missed.  I suggest you see them as helpul diagnostic tools to recognise and move beyond an unskilful state (but look more at the dukka nanas, such as reobservation, rather than the three characteristics). It's good that you are mindfully recognising some negative states, and the maps of insight can continue to help here.  But unless you want to go on a long retreat, I wouldn't try to interpret everything you are doing in terms of the maps.  Use them to help you, but not constrain you.  Whatever the state, the prescription is the same - just keep meditating, and try to be mindful when you are off the cushion.  The only exception is when you are in equanimity and shooting for path, where special guidance from qualified teachers on retreat may be necessary.  

Hope this is of some help, and not too wrong.   emoticon

 

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/21/18 9:03 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:

Experience 2 - You can find descriptions of similar exercises in Culadasa's The Mind Illuminated for intermediate meditators.  You might want to read that book.  However, I think most people would recommend that when on Goenka, do Goenka.  The retreats are structured around their exercises, rather than anybody else's, so you will get the maximum benefit following their approach.  Also, while I have mentioned TMI, you might want to stick to a single method rather than following a smogarsboard of techniques.  Find the one that suits you and stick to it, for now.


I feel like part of the issue here is that no matter what exercise you do, as you pay closer attention to what is actually happening, you realize more and more how what you are doing cannot be so succinctly described by any exercise. So, what do you do? How much do you want to hold yourself responsible for? Words can always be reinterpreted.

This really stressed me out when I noticed it at the retreat. I noticed that the reason I was having trouble concentrating on my breath was because I was trying so hard not to let my attention wander. I had a few moments where I let go of that and suddenly my concentration was better, so I paid attention to what was happening and used those words to describe it. I was really torn, because it sounded so different from what the official instructions were. But it seemed to work better, so I just kept doing it.

I'm not exactly sure what the difference is. I notice sometimes that when I try to concentrate, I can feel muscles tightening. I can feel my eyes moving. I notice my breath being affected. These are certainly not part of the instructions. So, I could stop doing those things and still try to concentrate, right? Hypothetically, if I were so unaware of what I'm actually doing to the point where going out to the bar for a drink counts as "concentrating on the breath", I'm suddenly doing better? That makes little sense. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I let go of everything besides "concentrate", there will be nothing left...

This is all a very serious problem with instructions of any kind, I think. Especially if we are talking about gaining insight into the self. The more stuff you watch, the more you realize isn't really part of "you" at all. At what point do you say you aren't doing the instructions correctly anymore? If I'm watching myself do it incorrectly, how can I possibly say I am the one who's doing it wrong? And if I tightly control things such that it doesn't happen, I still end up doing other things that contradict the instructions. Presumably the goal is to find a balance in the middle, but then I would imagine the instructions need to be exactly customized for the student.

I hope I don't sound like I'm just repeating an obvious point over and over. I have a hard time talking to many teachers (music, yoga, etc.) because this point just seems lost on them.


 Here you are reporting a huge boost to sensory observation and mindfulness of the body.  It's good, as it shows progress in deconstructing the usual thoughtless gross perceptions of the world around you. However, you also seem to be reporting a defence mechanism from the mind, arising from the disorientation of this new experience.  Just work on unifying the mind, and next time be ready to investigate the phenomenon instead of reacting in horror.


Unfortunately, this experience only happened once and has not reoccurred. I don't know if that's because I am somehow shying away from it. I remember feeling almost betrayed after it happened, like I had never considered that meditation might be harmful. I think I might be inching back to a more open mindset, though, as I have been gently exploring the idea of "torturing" myself with longer sits and less movement. So, we'll see.


Using the maps of insight can be tricky.  I think they are really designed for full time meditators going in a straight line from A to B.


Is it possible you can be in more than one stage simultaneously? Do the stages exist only with respect to specific classes of sensations? It does sound like the descriptions are for someone who just meditates through the whole thing and does nothing else.


 Whatever the state, the prescription is the same - just keep meditating, and try to be mindful when you are off the cushion.  The only exception is when you are in equanimity and shooting for path, where special guidance from qualified teachers on retreat may be necessary.  


It is funny that every time I have felt any progress, it came from "just watch, don't react." What's the point of all this discussion, then??? emoticon

Thanks for your advice!

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/22/18 6:19 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:

I feel like part of the issue here is that no matter what exercise you do, as you pay closer attention to what is actually happening, you realize more and more how what you are doing cannot be so succinctly described by any exercise. So, what do you do? How much do you want to hold yourself responsible for? Words can always be reinterpreted.

This really stressed me out when I noticed it at the retreat. I noticed that the reason I was having trouble concentrating on my breath was because I was trying so hard not to let my attention wander. I had a few moments where I let go of that and suddenly my concentration was better, so I paid attention to what was happening and used those words to describe it. I was really torn, because it sounded so different from what the official instructions were. But it seemed to work better, so I just kept doing it.



You can't not let the attention wander, its not something you have control over. All you can do is program the mind to go back to the breath every time that it notices the wandering has occured. The more it does this, the faster it will do it in the future. Eventually the mind gets more clued in that its more beneficial to be on the breath than to be distracted and so distractions will die down.
The idea that not letting the mind wander as a type of holding the mind in place is mistaken, might be not properly explained well on the Goenka course or might be an unexamined assumption on behalf of the meditator due to our cultural aesthetic around meditation

TMI has some great explanation of how this works

ALso I think its probably a pretty common occurrence to misunderstand the meaning of the original instruction, fail at it, then figure out the correct way of doing it, have success at it, and then have resentment towards the original instruction. Has happened to me plenty of times in meditation retreat settings. Also this is the same pattern you were talking about in your OP with the music! And is also based around the delusion of a separate self that has things right etc.

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/22/18 9:28 AM as a reply to Andrew S.
Andrew S:

The idea that not letting the mind wander as a type of holding the mind in place is mistaken, might be not properly explained well on the Goenka course or might be an unexamined assumption on behalf of the meditator due to our cultural aesthetic around meditation


I do wonder if it is somehow just my own interpretation of the instructions, or perhaps it is just how Goenka himself viewed it in his own experience. For some reason, I didn't bring it up to the teacher. However, I was discussing this with my roommate after the retreat ended, and he mentioned that he had a similar concern, and he did tell the teacher about it. The teacher's response was that sometimes different things work for different people, so if the specific words don't resonate with you, then it's fine to try something else. I believe what worked for him was viewing the distractions like a TV playing in the background.

The organization is a little intimidating, because they are so emphatic that you don't mix techniques or deviate from their instructions. But then they say reasonable things like this. My teacher also was very understanding about a few other doubts I did express.


ALso I think its probably a pretty common occurrence to misunderstand the meaning of the original instruction, fail at it, then figure out the correct way of doing it, have success at it, and then have resentment towards the original instruction. Has happened to me plenty of times in meditation retreat settings.


That is exactly what happened to me. I was so furious at the time, I was almost ready to walk out right then (I believe this was on the second day). I'm glad I stayed, though. There were a few instances where I felt absolute crushing pressure and incompetence from the organization (and one moment where I was certain I had been kidnapped by a cult), and then after a couple hours realized that it was mainly my own issues rising up.


Also this is the same pattern you were talking about in your OP with the music! And is also based around the delusion of a separate self that has things right etc.


Don't even get me started on how prevalent this problem is in music teaching. Developing physical skill requires a ton of awareness, and not as much knowledge and problem-solving. Most music teachers, however, developed skill at an early age, and never paid much attention to the process. So, they have it neatly explained in their minds, and can't understand why it doesn't work for others.

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/21/18 3:21 PM as a reply to spatial.
Spatial --

Rather than reply to the details of your post, I'd like to ask you this question:  What do you want to do now?

It appears to me that you've developed a great amount of concentration from pursuing your music career. It also appears, not surprisingly, that this concentration capability lends itself quickly and easily to vipassana style meditation. Are you really, really interested in pursuing a deep meditation practice? If so, why?

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/21/18 9:10 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Spatial --

Rather than reply to the details of your post, I'd like to ask you this question:  What do you want to do now?

It appears to me that you've developed a great amount of concentration from pursuing your music career. It also appears, not surprisingly, that this concentration capability lends itself quickly and easily to vipassana style meditation. Are you really, really interested in pursuing a deep meditation practice? If so, why?

That's a good question...

What I would like to do now is continue practicing and see what happens. I will go on another retreat in a couple months.

Are you trying to warn me?

I wouldn't say I developed a great amount of concentration from most of my history practicing music. It's more like I wrestled greatly with the problem of concentration. After the experience I described above, I started to understand what kinds of things might actually lead to the development of concentration. Musicians, in general, do not get this. As a music teacher, I want to understand this more thoroughly, in part so that I can help others.

Why not just use music practice as meditation? Well, I could do that, and did do it for a while. But still, it is quite different from setting aside time for nothing other than observation, where I am accountable to no one except myself.

These insights have helped me with far more than music. I have a much more fluid sense of self, which has put a lot of my anxieties and neuroses in a completely different perspective. I have a greater awareness of the causes of my limitations, which ironically makes me feel more powerful. There are seemingly smaller benefits too, like I no longer experience boredom, and minor distractions from other people don't drive me crazy like they used to. Also, I'm a nerd who likes to learn new skills. So, I'm interested in seeing where it takes me.

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/22/18 6:52 AM as a reply to spatial.
Are you trying to warn me?


No warning intended, spatial. I was trying to understand your motivation.

I'd assert that you've learned and expressed here some key meditation related skills and knowledge. For example, the fact that concentration isn't about raw effort. You're being very honest with yourself and have a good, objective perspective and a lot of observational skill. I believe these are things that will serve you well as you continue to practice. You seem to be inclined naturally to vipassana practice. It would be unfortunate for you not to continue, IMHO.

RE: Some confusion about my experiences
Answer
5/22/18 9:35 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:

I'd assert that you've learned and expressed here some key meditation related skills and knowledge. For example, the fact that concentration isn't about raw effort. You're being very honest with yourself and have a good, objective perspective and a lot of observational skill. I believe these are things that will serve you well as you continue to practice. You seem to be inclined naturally to vipassana practice. It would be unfortunate for you not to continue, IMHO.


Thank you for the encouragement.

I must also say that it is great to have other people to discuss these things with. It is hard to find that elsewhere, even in some meditation groups I've attended in real life.