How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Antonio Ramírez, modified 14 Years ago at 3/11/09 10:19 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/11/09 10:19 PM

How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Practical Dharma

II think I'm currently going through Dark Night territory, but I've been hesitant to declare this (to myself, even) since my experience has been relatively mild. I know that Daniel's discussion in MCTB was purposely emphasizing the more extreme possible manifestations, and he himself cautions that it doesn't have to be such a big deal for everyone. For that reason I'd like to get more descriptions of the "in between," not extreme but recognizable manifestations of these ñanas.

Today, for instance, during vipassana I experienced waves of disgust. My mouth "involuntarily" curls downwards in a rictus, then my lips pucker as if tasting something bitter, and there is groaning. It's as if a gremlin inside me was grossed out by the brussel sprouts.

However: while it was "disgust" in that an observer would probably think I'm disgusted, from "the inside" I was actually observing it without feeling invested in it. I was able to plunge into the nasty sensations and see them as just sensations. It was all very involuntary feeling.

After the disgust subsided, there was clarity and the vibrations were fine. I stopped there but I'm thinking that the right thing next time might be to go on.
I've had similar experiences but more tinged with "fear" than with "disgust" in the last days (i.e., lots of shivering from my legs up).

The reason I call this mild is, as I mentioned, that I didn't feel invested in it, so it felt a bit like fake disgust even though the sensations, grimacing, and groaning was pretty extreme.

I'd appreciate others sharing their experiences.
Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 3/11/09 11:42 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/11/09 11:42 PM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: garyrh

Hi Antonio,

Like you I am a bit of a novice. Insight teritory stays with you after meditation. So when looking at the maps consider what you know with regards to the 3 characteristics rather than particular experiences during meditation. My own experience with vibrations, legs, arm and neck jerking, sharp intense pains in various parts of the body made this a hard lesson to learn. It is not the experience that matters; rather it is penetrating of sensations in the vipassana practice. What do you think about this?

One other thought, if one goes into meditation with an expectation to fulfil a stage on the map this maybe exactly what you get, another reason not to be overly involved with content.
Keep us up to date with what transpires.

beta wave, modified 14 Years ago at 3/11/09 11:55 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/11/09 11:55 PM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
My experiences while _doing_ vispassina are the same way. In the past, I basically couldn't be objective and they took on a lot of the extreme versions of what's possible.

It's an awesome feeling to ride out these sensations. Their arising is involuntary and riding them out is some mix of effort and fate - so to speak, who can really say?

Even just knowing the names of the stages is really helpful. It makes it so much easier to stay object and note instead of falling into the "what the heck is happening to _me_?" version of panic.

Very cool!
Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 5:31 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 5:31 AM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Antonio,
I've been "on the ride" as a "chronic dark nighter" for many years. Looking back, I can identify many stretches of insight practice of some kind culminating in A&P crossings, followed by characteristic abrupt changes in personal circumstances (leaving home in a huff and getting married within a few months; almost trashing my education; nearly-catastrophic rows with my in-laws...). Of course, these episodes can always be interpreted in other ways, but the pattern certainly stands out when recognized.

So on the "sila", everyday-life front, the dukkha ñanas got me up to the eyebrows into my "stuff" and projection and reactive patterns of behavior. I didn't much *feel* afraid or disgusted myself, but wow, did I make other people feel that way. I deeply share Beta's relief for just knowing about this process.

On the insight front, the dukkha ñanas are not very pronounced, and the first time I went through them after reading MCTB I was expecting much worse. Some mildly amusing flights of fancy about dying of horrible causes, the odd tightness in the stomach and throat. Kenneth mentions how these ñanas are not "stable", and I can confirm this: after dissolution, I tend to slide through them rapidly up to re-observation, with no clear-cut boundaries, and the next clearly discernible "shift" is the one into early equanimity. So my "landmarks" in insight practice are the center blurring, and vibrations moving "outward" and "back" in dissolution, followed by some murky stretches (the "nasty ñanas"), followed by the "wall" of re-observation and then the open, unified space of early equanimity.

I've also found Kenneth's recommendation of increasing the concentration/samatha practice *after* the insight-break-throughs of a&p and re-observation very, very helpful.

Jackson Wilshire, modified 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 6:16 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 6:16 AM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
This is an excellent and detailed report. Keep'em coming :-D

I think your attitude toward what your experiencing is great, regardless of whether or not your practicing through the Dark Night stages. As you progress further, you'll be able to look back and have a better idea of what was happening. It took me longer to understand this point than I would like, but anyway...

Not feeling "invested" in the sensations during the dukkha ñanas is good. As long as you stay really present with what presents itself in a wide and inclusive way (which you seem to be doing), I'm confident you can push through without too much difficulty. That said, if things get really tough, let us know.

One thing to look out for, especially as you move up in to Re-Observation, are thoughts of wishing to get to the next stage. Treat these sensations like all the others and you should do just fine. It's only when these thoughts go unexamined that they pose a problem. I got really caught up in these thoughts at different times in my practice, which caused me to get quite stuck. Just a warning.

Keep up the good work!

Antonio Ramírez, modified 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 8:31 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 8:31 PM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Hi Gary, thanks for the reply. I agree that it's not the content that matters. Maybe it wasn't totally clear from my description, but I don't feel I was particularly mired in content during this experience and similar others. That's why in a sense it doesn't really seem like it was actual disgust. I wasn't obsessing about how disgusting this all was. Sensations, movements and utterances consistent with disgust were happening.

I also worry sometimes about fulfilling the stages "on purpose," which of course isn't a problem if it happens and is after all what we want to do. The reason I worry is about the possibility that I'm fooling myself and might be subconsciously acting out the stages to feel like I'm an accomplished meditator. This "what if I'm faking it" feeling is of course just another cluster of sensations to investigate and note emoticon

Even now it's conceivable that I've only been experiencing knowledge of the three characteristics, but my A&P event candidate and other clues lead me to more confidently think I'm in the dukkha ñanas. Practice should sort this out. I hope emoticon
Antonio Ramírez, modified 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 8:46 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 8:46 PM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Hey Florian. Thanks for the reply!

Your reply helped me take a closer, more honest look at my everyday life experience. I think that there are clear signs there that there has been bleed-through. I'm encountering lots of resistance to doing things (at work, say), lots of aversion, lots of vague nausea that resists investigation. So much so that tonight I've been rereading the relevant MCTB chapter. I'm really trying to take to heart Daniel's dark night yogi resolution (p. 215) [incidentally--- an interesting theme in MCTB is that of resolutions. They come up a couple times and they might be worth a thread of their own.]

I have a history of depression (not too recent or too severe, fortunately), so maybe my current experience doesn't feel too out of the ordinary in the light of that.

This all reminds me of the following. After that A&P-ish event (which repeated a couple times, btw), I was 95% sure that I had had one much like it as a teenager. It was freaky the first couple of times (enough to wake up my parents, thinking I was having a seizure), but I learned to find the events pleasurable. Then they subsided (together with my then-considerable interest in things like astral projection / Carlos Castaneda / etc. etc.) So it's not out of the realm of possibility that I've been in dark night territory for much longer than it seems. I didn't write about this back when I made my first excited A&P post, but it was a conscious editing since I didn't want to sound even more noobish than I was.

BTW: tonight, it's possible (with all the customary provisos) that I saw some of early equanimity. So, I think I'll reinforce my samatha practice. Thanks for reminding me of that advice too. I've been well-concentrated lately, it's pretty cool. I can sit in the second jhana at least for a good while, sometimes the third.
Antonio Ramírez, modified 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 8:52 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/12/09 8:52 PM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Jackson, thanks for the note. I am definitely trying to take to heart the advice about examining the sensations that involve "wanting progress," and this is a good reminder. To quote guru sri sri Ingram: 'What you are looking for is “nearer than near” It is in the looking.'
Trent S H, modified 14 Years ago at 3/13/09 10:58 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/13/09 10:58 AM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts

The intensities and durations of the stages of insight can vary widely. You can have a short, extremely painful dark night, or an extremely drawn out dark night with only mild feelings of disassociation. This is typically true for any stage, and the reasons why are probably largely a mystery in the moment. These complexities become more and more murky through the path of insight because the cycles begin to compound on each other, and the amount of different cycles can make it near impossible to map.

I mention this because keeping track of yourself in this manner is difficult and not at all necessary. The maps are, of course, invaluable; however, in real time, they can become a hindrance in many subtle ways. Maps are especially good when it is profoundly obvious where you are, or if you know you have become stuck. If things are vague, you may end up running circles around your mind instead of sticking to practice; which is the remedy regardless of whether you know where you are or not.

One thing you might give a try is tuning into your intuition in these murky waters. If you are in equanimity, for example, it will feel RIGHT to relax into a panoramic peace. If you're around A&P territory, it will feel RIGHT to concentrate on the precise arising and passing of sensations. If you are in the dark night, it will feel RIGHT to just relax, accept, and let things be.

These are pretty vague descriptions, but my general point is that the process is a natural one. Whenever you notice that you're feeling differently, test a few different ways of sitting with the sensations-- whatever feels "right," (not necessarily "good") is probably the way the water wants to flow.

This is just another tool in the Yogi belt, and it can be very useful.
Antonio Ramírez, modified 14 Years ago at 3/13/09 4:32 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/13/09 4:32 PM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 55 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Thanks, Trent. I believe I'm being cautious and non-obsessive about the map, but it might be too late for me to completely stop wondering about what stage I'm at. After MCTB, the cat's out of the bag, and I'll have to deal with the possible negative consequences of knowing about the stages. Fortunately there is plenty of cautionary advice to go around, including yours, which I'm trying to honestly assimilate.

Thanks also for the advice on intuition, it does sound useful.
tarin greco, modified 14 Years ago at 3/13/09 7:52 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 3/13/09 7:52 PM

RE: How were the nasty ñanas for you?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
note wondering, note mapping, note trying to stop mapping, note thoughts about being stuck, etc...