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DN -> EQ -> SE
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7/11/18 3:22 PM
I've decide to start a thread documenting my journey from DN -> SE.

I've been in DN for approx five years. Only recently have I made it to a more stable form of EQ. I attribute that to a sudden resolve to make practice my number one priority.

Prior to reaching EQ I had lost all interest in practice and veered very far from the path. This is why I was stuck in DN for so long.

Only recently did I realize that no matter what was happening in my life I wouldn't be satisfied. This is profound.

Since getting my practice back in line I have noticed the mind playing fewer tricks. I no longer believe thoughts that say, "I don't like this." They still arise, but I take them much less seriously.

My practice right now consists of 30 minutes of mediation in the morning and 30 in the evening. Throughout the day I stick with a noting practice. It doesn't adhere to any type of tradition but is a result of the evolution of my practice that has taken shape through insight and direct experience. Although, I would have to say that the technique resembles Mahasi style noting.

I suspect that my sits will increase to longer times. I have come to enjoy sitting and value silence.

My primary focus at this time is developing stronger concentration because my concentration is weak. But I will continue to notice the three characteristics becaue I feel it's a very important part of practice.

I would like to start doing retreats but with a new job I really can't take time off of work. I do intend, however, to use weekends and my time off to deepen my practice. I would like to visit the local monasteries on the weekend.

My life right now isn't ideal. But I feel that it's enough. For fun I surf, sometimes I hang out with friends, I work, and I do yoga. I do these things so the mind doesn't go dry and dull and to cultive joy and it makes me feel like life is actually worth living. I believe that those that practice with a hardcore intensity and renunciate life are in for a very dry and dull practice and will remain stuck in perhaps depression and unhappiness.

I feel that it's important to reiterate the importance of resolve and perserverence. This has been the biggest shift for me of late.

On another note, I do believe that I did at once hit SE. Many years ago. However, I had no context for what had happened and was not familiar with the stages of insight. As I result, had basically given up my practice wondering what the hell had happened. In fact, I hit SE after a single day of practice. I remember waking up that day and deciding that I would no longer listen to the mind. I sat in meditation for hours, and through out the day I kept attention rooted in the breath. That night I disappeared and all that remained was the breath. It appeared to be aware of itself but it was deeper than that. The knowing of itself and the breath itself were insperable.

If that is not SE, I don't know what is, and perhaps I just need to spend more time on the cushion.

I just purchased MCTB2 and plan on making that my bible. However, I only plan on referring to it from time to time because I know that direct experience is the only way to proceed.

Anyways, that's all I have for now.

I'll check in from time to time to keep this thread up to date with my practice and any shifts that may occur.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
7/12/18 6:19 AM as a reply to ivory.
ivory:
I sat in meditation for hours, and through out the day I kept attention rooted in the breath. That night I disappeared and all that remained was the breath. It appeared to be aware of itself but it was deeper than that. The knowing of itself and the breath itself were insperable.

If that is not SE, I don't know what is, and perhaps I just need to spend more time on the cushion.


As you read MCTB2, pay particular attention to the description of the jhanas. This description maps really well to a "hard" jhana experience.



From MCTB1: "In really hard jhana, it feels as if our mind has been fused to those
qualities and the object with super glue, as if we were nothing but a solid
block or field of those qualities or that object, as if they and the object
were the whole world with nothing else remaining."

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
7/13/18 6:29 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Yeah, that sounds close. Except there was no me there. I wouldn't call it "mind" either.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
7/15/18 11:58 AM as a reply to ivory.
I'm think I'm approaching high EQ.

When meditating I find it difficult to note objects appearing through the sense doors because noting seems to interfere with the observation of various objects. It also seems that objects are appearing at the same time (for example, sound and tactile sensation) and sometimes I forget what my orientation is. The illusion of locality is breaking down. I can't tell if I'm right-side up or upside-down. I'll observe this more this week.

My primary focus is still concentration, not insight. I've seen all this shit before and the mind isn't stable enough for new or interesting insight. I need to dig deeper.

My technique has shifted a bit. Rather than using the breath as a meditation object I'm using my left hand as an anchor while allowing other sounds and sensations to be there in my periphery. Again, noting seems difficult because it's hard to tell what "things" are. I see everything as arisings. However, I do find noting these arisings as "sensation" or "sound" helpful when the mind wanders too much.

Sitting two 30 minute sits per day has become very easy. This week I'm going to add another 30 minute sit at lunch time. So that will be 30 in the morning, 30 at lunch, and 30 in the evening for a total of 1.5 hours per day.

Off cushion, I find mindfulness a bit confusing. Should I be paying attention to the hand like I do in meditation or should I be noting the crap out of everything? I'll investigate more this week but I'd like for my on and off-cushion technique to be the same as to eliminate any confusion and to really fine tune my practice.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
7/15/18 3:51 PM as a reply to ivory.
A temporary state that is highly concentrated with no sense of "self" during it but with experience of anything present isn't one of the criteria for stream entry, but it is routinely described in deeper concentration states.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
7/16/18 11:11 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
A temporary state that is highly concentrated with no sense of "self" during it but with experience of anything present isn't one of the criteria for stream entry, but it is routinely described in deeper concentration states.


Is that close to the state described in your Vimeo "supermap" as "Mini-nirodha?" emoticon

...Hitting J7 or J8 Ultra-hard seems indistingushable in such experience here. Making such a distinction is quite difficult. More so if one considers such things as Yates' idea that various degrees of "Unification" can cause variation in the "non-experience" of Nibbana....as seen via Entry/Return symptoms.

Goodwill

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
7/22/18 1:11 PM as a reply to ivory.
I made some minor adjustments to my practice this week. I'm currently sitting 45 in the morning, 30 in the evening, and 10 minutes every hour. I've also added 30 minutes of walking meditation in the morning just to energize myself.

I went on a two day solo camping retreat this weekend where I stuck to the above schedule. My practice has evolved as a result. I still use noting, but I'm primarily sticking to a single object. I find it helpful to note whatever I'm paying attention to such as "hand", "hand", "hand". I use it like a mantra all while feeling the actual sensations.

I've been reading through MCTB and just learned the term "access concentration." Access concentration has become the goal. As daniel said, "until you gain access concentration, you ain't got squat."

I noticed a couple things this weekend.

First, as mind-states change the key is to deal with each mind state as it arises. I find relaxation helpful for confusion and excitement, walking or showering for tiredness, noting for coming into the present moment, and concentration for stabilizing attention when I feel sufficiently energized and relaxed.

This was a key insight. Work with whatever defilement is arising now.

Second, rather than keeping attention on just the hand, it's more beneficial to focus attention on whatever sensation is the most predominant or interesting. I found myself repeatedly asking, "what is the most predominant sensation right now?"

This week I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. I'll report back next week.

Oh, and I just signed up for a 2-day retreat as well as a 5-day retreat, both of which will take place in August. I can't wait! I hope to get as much practice in as possible until then.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
7/26/18 11:22 AM as a reply to ivory.
Inspired by SigmaTropic, I've decide to take another look at TMI. What a great book! Without TMI I would have been fumbling in the dark. Already, I notice a newfound sense of confidence and faith going forward. According to TMI, I am a Stage 2 meditator. Knowing that helps because I know what I have to work on.

I'm still sitting 45 in the morning and 30 in the evening with 10 minutes every hour or so. This has paid off. My meditations are deeper and more enjoyable and I find that I have less mind wandering throughout the day. The goal is to get to 60 minutes in the morning, 60 in the evening, and 30 minutes of walking. I'm "baby-stepping" it.

My meditation has evolved a bit. I'm using the tip of the tongue and the tension in the tongue as my meditation object. I continue to note sounds and other bodily sensations as they arise but my primary goal is to stabilize attention on my meditation object. As I mentioned before, I'd like for my practice on-cushion to resemble how I practice off-cushion. That said, I'm doing the same thing throughout the day.

I'm still unable to locate my breath. The stomach doesn't move and the sensations in the nose are too subtle to detect. I'm hoping that once I'm more relaxed and attentive the breath will be more noticeable and I can use that as my meditation object.

Tonight I'm be heading out for a 4-day camping retreat and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be able to get in a lot of meditation, walking, and reading. I'll report back when I return from the trip.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
7/31/18 1:45 PM as a reply to ivory.
Overall my camping retreat went well. I hit EQ where meditation was very spacious, pleasant, and impermanence was obvious. Within an hour I had descended back into DN territory where meditations became very pixelated and unpleasant. I'm not sure why this happened but I suspect that it has to do with a couple things:

1) Avoiding emotional and physical discomfort by indulging in desire.
2) Thinking too much instead of noting thoughts and sensations (getting caught up in storyline).

The strange thing is that most of the big stuff has been taken care of. I'm no longer trying to fix myself or make changes to external circumstances. I gave up all addictions yet there's still some reason why I'm falling back into DN.

I'm going to keep practicing this week and I have a 5-day retreat next week. I hope to get clearer on these issues.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
8/13/18 7:51 PM as a reply to ivory.
Yesterday I returned from a 5-day Zen retreat. I started in dark night then finished in dark night and was very disappointed with the lack of progress. For some reason this bout of dark night was very difficult to deal with. Perhaps it was because there was no escape or distraction. It lasted much longer than usual.

I had a couple of interviews with the teacher and mentioned dark night. He told me to forget about the progress of insight, and just to focus on the breath and "be" whatever is arising whether it's depression, anxiety, boredom, physical pain, etc. Fine.

I explained to the teacher that I had a difficult time finding the sensations of the breath. He told me that it would be okay if I exaggerated the breath a bit in order to get in touch with it. That's basically all I did the whole retreat... Keep returning attention to the breath over and over and over.

For whatever reason I popped out of dark night last night, after the retreat ended. I'm on a level of EQ that I've never known before. Meditation is vivid, spacious, and interesting. The breath almost feels orgasmic.

The retreat really paid off. I must have meditated for about 3 hours today. I never sit that long on my own. I find myself craving silence. There has been a very obvious shift and I feel like something may happen soon.

Going forward I'm just going to relax, focus on the breath, and follow whatever curiousity that may arise with this new shift in awareness.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
8/14/18 10:28 AM as a reply to ivory.
Dear Ivory,

Most likely your 5-day retreat, involving poor concentration and physical pain, was stuck in the stage of the Three Characteristics, which is a painful and difficult stage for some that can easily mimic the Dark Night, and this stage is a very common phenomenon in the first week of a retreat.

This thesis is supported by the fact that what came after it invovles a description involving the word "orgasmic", which is pathognomonic for the A&P, meaning basically perfectly diagnostic, unusually long sits, also nearly only reported in the A&P, and the A&P, being so impressive, is frequently misgiagnosed as Equanimity.

Further, the timeframe involved is very typical of 3C to A&P transition, just FYI, in terms of how most people's stage progression retreats goes.

Best wishes,

Daniel

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
8/15/18 10:29 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
If I've been stuck in 3C does that mean that I haven't been getting to re-observation? I'm quite positive I've been hitting re-observation quite regularly, then breaking out of it, falling back, then cycling again. Now I'm just not sure which stages I've been cycling though.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
9/11/18 1:42 PM as a reply to ivory.
I've been meditation 60-75 minutes a day sort of using TMI as a guide. From what I can tell I'm still at stage 2. Wandering occurs frequently and forgetting occurs throughout the session.

BEGIN MEDITATION JOURNAL

Session time: 60 mins

Kept attention on the body while maintaining peripheral awareness of the breath. Whole-body breathing, noting in and out, counting 1 through 10. Breath was chunky. Mind was confused and in a state of anxiety but began to settle after 30 mins. Breath smoothed out and attention moved from the belly, to the throat, to the nose.

Despite the confusion and anxiety the session was very pleasant. Felt like I could meditate forever. After 45 mins or so the pleasant effect wore off. Had thoughts about committing to an additional 10-15 minutes at lunch, and 10-15 minutes in the evening.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
9/20/18 8:19 AM as a reply to ivory.
Hi Ivory! Really nice detailed journal.

Love to read.
Keep on posting.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
9/20/18 1:23 PM as a reply to alguidar.
Thanks. I haven't been keeping this as up-to-date as I would like but there seems to be a shift in attitude where I don't care as much to make progress. I attribute that to the realization that you really can't rush this. As a result, I don't have much to post.

I'll see what I can come up with, though.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
9/20/18 1:45 PM as a reply to ivory.
I suspect I'm still somewhere in stage 2 or 3 of TMI but it seems silly to obsess over stages or adhere to a recipe. Meditation seems more like an experiment. Ask questions, make small adjustments, and test things out methodically. I still think TMI is useful but I only use it to troubleshoot meditation in case I feel stuck or if I can't solve a problem on my own.

I've been going to the local zen center and this month happens to be practice period. Basically you make a commitment to push yourself a little bit harder than you usually do. I've committed to adding 10 minutes of meditation at lunch and 10 minutes in the evening in addition to my one hour morning meditation. At the end of the month is a three day retreat which I'll be attending.

I haven't been experiencing dark night symptoms like I did last month or the month before. Impermanence rarely bothers me and anxiety and depression has mostly lifted. However, although morning meditations are pleasant, evening meditations are different story. Sensations feel raw, unpleasant, and aren't very vivid. I'm hoping this will change after the retreat.

I'm experimenting with an additional step in my meditation. Typically meditation looks something like this:

1. Relax and allow the breath to flow smoothly
2. Be aware of the whole body and note the various sensations
3. Focus on the breath at the nose.

However, I notice that the mind becomes agitated when I switch awareness to the nose. I'm adding a third step which is to focus on the sensations in the hand and allow attention to shift to the subtle sensations of the breath once it's ready to become more focused.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
9/21/18 10:31 AM as a reply to ivory.
ivory:


I've been going to the local zen center and this month happens to be practice period. Basically you make a commitment to push yourself a little bit harder than you usually do. I've committed to adding 10 minutes of meditation at lunch and 10 minutes in the evening in addition to my one hour morning meditation. At the end of the month is a three day retreat which I'll be attending.



no youtube for 30 days here.

lol

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
9/28/18 3:12 PM as a reply to ivory.
45 minute sit this morning:

Began my sit with very intense existential anxiety. I was caught in a thought loop, acutely aware that nothing lasts and nothing satisfies. Classic dark night symptoms.

Started by keeping the sounds of the breath in peripheral awareness. This soothes my anxiety and I arrive at a state of tranquility. Not very concentrated but switch to noting to see if I can settle further. This becomes quite unpleasant so I switch back to the sensations of the breath until I am tranquil again. The breath energizes me, a little too much. Had to focus on relaxation to settle down again. Tried switching back to noting a couple more times but decided to just enjoy the breath for the duration of my sit.

45 minutes passes rather quickly. Existential anxiety seems to have lifted. I'm going to try adding little 5-minute sits throughout the day to see what happens. Will likely need to meditate this evening to keep dark night at bay.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
10/8/18 5:37 PM as a reply to ivory.
I just wrapped up a 3-day retreat at the zen center. It was pretty much dark night the whole way wrapping up with re-observation on the last day.

The teacher did pose an interesting question, "What is blocking presence?" He asked us to sit with that question the whole retreat. I thought that I was aware, but in asking that question I realized how much thinking was a means of aversion to emotional and physical discomfort.

I just signed up for a 10-day vipassana retreat which will take place January 2nd. Until then I plan on ramping up my practice to include walking meditation so I can learn to be more mindful throughout the day.

So, going forward:

- One hour of sitting meditation in the morning
- 30 minutes of walking meditation in the evening

Emphasis will be on a combination of noting and breath meditation. I want to emphasize an exploration of craving and physical and emotional discomfort; paying particular attention to my avoidance strategies.

I am going try to find ways to be more present in all situations. So there's getting ready for work meditation, eating meditation, driving meditation, showering meditation, social meditation, listening to music meditation, work meditation... You get the point.

I am beginning to consider becoming a member at the zen center so I can have one on one talks with the teacher. This particular teacher a shit ton of experience and his suggestions are always on point. I told him what my practice consisted of and he said I was on the right track. He basically said to use whatever technique that gets me out of my head.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
10/10/18 1:07 PM as a reply to ivory.
30 MINUTE SESSION

Had to hurry up for work so only got to sit for 30 minutes.

I usually spend a good deal of time relaxing but this time I started noting sounds and sensations sooner than usual. I found it very helpful to note thoughts as "thinking" in order to break up the thought stream. This combo helped to settle the mind very quickly. Attention shifted to the breath at the nose much sooner than it usually does. I'm still trying to build up concentration power and I think this is a solid approach.

Overall this was not a very pleasant session because I was super hungry but I learned something.

Good session.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
10/16/18 5:03 PM as a reply to ivory.
I have a hunch that I've been experiencing garden variety depression. I have adopted nihilistic views and decided to start questioning them. I've also been getting bored a lot. It's really hard to tell the difference between depression and dark night but I have a few new data points.

This week I spent a lot of time with friends and family, surfing, and exploring. It was a blast. I haven't experienced any depression or anxiety since the retreat and I haven't even been meditating that much.

I think it's a good idea to lessen my time in meditation and focus more on building my life back up. I will continue to practice but put less emphasis on it. I need more balance and play in my life. Play is what makes life feel like it's worth living.

I don't get how people spend hours meditating on a daily basis without getting depressed.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
10/17/18 10:05 AM as a reply to ivory.
Hey, I’m new here but saw your post and was interested.

Maybe practising metta can help you feel better during the practice.

I don’t want to imply anything but depression is a big thing nowadays, it is at 63% amongst teens and 47% for millenials a study says, so check this out. I have a good book about this called Feeling Good by David D Burns. It uses CBT techniques to help you think more logically. It depends on your situation as CBT is not always effective when there is a unwholsome psychological state. But there is a test to assess your situation and it really helped someone I know. 

Maybe you should also let go more, and train acceptance of mental state and feelings.

I'm in stage 6 of the TMI and can access piti to make meditation more interesting.

I have no idea whether I am in dark night or not, I don't think so as I cannot access the 4th jhana yet(I think). So I cannot compare it to your situation.

RE: DN -> EQ -> SE
Answer
11/15/18 6:03 PM as a reply to ivory.
It's been a month since I last wrote so I figured it was time for an update.

I've been listening to a shit ton of talks by Jordan Peterson which has had a major impact on my life. He talks a lot about suffering, meaning, values, and responsibility.

Up until recently I was focusing on acceptance, which was important and I think necessary at the time. I was trying to do too much and was reaching too hard. I didn't even really know what I wanted. I had to slow things down. But even though I started to relax more I still felt very depressed. Depression has been a struggle for a long time. It was scary and isolating.

At some point I realized that I had to get moving. After a good deal of contemplation I decided on the direction I would take my life and started taking action. I'm actively trying to make new friends, investing in my career, taking care of my health, making music, facing my challenges head on, and spending quality time with my girlfriend. Life has been enjoyable and rewarding. It feels meaningful.

What I learned is the correlation between responsibility and meaning. How I live my life is important. I'm responsible for going after the things I want, doing the things that are important to me, and for taking care of the things that I have. Putting myself in the driver seat and living with purpose is what makes life feel meaningful. This is profound.

I haven't been meditating this last month so I'm surprised to see the changes that have taken place. Tomorrow I'll get back to my routine by adding a half hour of formal practice. I'm really curious to see if it makes an impact. As for now, I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing.

I'll report back once I have more insight.