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Does experience track maps always or only sometimes?

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Author: sean2.0
Forum: Maps of Meditation

First, gratitude: I have benefited very significantly from Daniel Ingram's book and Vince's podcasts and I thank them for their effort and my benefit.

Here's my question: Is experience along the map sequence always linear? I'm interested in the map, but not completely sure how to square my experience with it. I've practiced yoga for ten years. Four years ago, I began meditating after reading Jack Kornfield's _A Path with Heart_. I felt like my practice was valuable for a number of reasons. About two years ago, I began meditating generally daily, and for the last 18 months, I usually sit for 30-45 minutes per day.

(con'td)

RE: Does experience track maps always or only sometimes?
Answer
5/14/09 10:48 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: sean2.0

Last December, I did a five-day retreat. I spent most of the sitting sessions very uncomfortable with cramps in my back and pains in my neck. The teacher said that if the pains continued after I got up off the cushion, I should try a different seat, but if they went away, I should just allow my awareness to be aware of the discomfort and continue. Other than a few brief periods of peace, the meditations in that retreat continued to be unpleasant. But one morning as I walked from the meditation hall to the dining hall for breakfast, a moment came when awareness seemed to be at a distance from my body/mind -- not "up" or "down," or any other 3-D dimension, but more like a little distance along a new dimension. At any rate, that awareness was still fully connected to what I think of as "me," but it seemed somehow independent of me at the same time. It was aware of my aches and pains and thoughts, but it seemed somehow more encompassing of the entire setting. A few moments later, the experience subsided, and my awareness was again intertwined closely to my body/mind experience. Later that afternoon, I was back in the "everything hurts and is miserable" meditation mode I'd been in throughout the retreat. There were other moments of peace and quiet and profound happiness during the retreat, as well, so I don't want to over-do the discomfort, but the discomfort was certainly the predominant experience in terms of duration.

After the retreat, I went hunting for some explanation of the experience I had. I ran across Daniel Ingram's book, and found myself a little confused.

Based on how I understand the maps, I’m at about at the cusp of A&P. But when I hunted through the book for something akin to the experience I had, the only thing that seemed to fit was “Formations,” which is much further down the path than I think I am at present.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

RE: Does experience track maps always or only sometimes?
Answer
5/14/09 11:33 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Sean,

It sounds to me as though you are, as you have intuited, "at the cusp of the A&P." That would mean that the cutting edge of your practice is in the 3rd ñana, Knowledge of the Three Characteristics. The experience of awareness being "at a distance from the body/mind" is something I would associate with the 1st ñana, Knowledge of Mind and Body. This is to be expected, not because you regressed in that moment, but because ñanas are cumulative; it's common to have flashes of a previously attained ñana.

RE: Does experience track maps always or only sometimes?
Answer
5/14/09 12:45 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
'But one morning as I walked from the meditation hall to the dining hall for breakfast, a moment came when awareness seemed to be at a distance from my body/mind -- not "up" or "down," or any other 3-D dimension, but more like a little distance along a new dimension. At any rate, that awareness was still fully connected to what I think of as "me," but it seemed somehow independent of me at the same time. '

sean,

i think i know what you're talking about. that can show up in any stage, but i would think only after one's crossed the a&p before already (which you probably have, otherwise you're not gonna be spending years meditating and reading daniel's book). i also think its most likely to show up in the a&p and certain parts of equanimity. kenneth's right in that there's something like mind & body in there, but from the way you describe it, it seemed more developed. ask awouldbehipster and hokai their thoughts, i've talked to them both about this particular one. in fact, check out http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/2354717/Pushing+Through?mail=1131 - particularly the first two posts, my response to it, and the short conversation that ensues.

RE: Does experience track maps always or only sometimes?
Answer
5/14/09 9:04 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
While I can't be sure to map every little quirk of the path and every experience, I agree, Three Characteristics sounds right, and perhaps hints of the A&P, which can be very profound at points, though there is room for argument here.

One way or the other, I think your teacher's advice was good, but I would add upping the speed of the noticing or noting, as that sort of speed helps get one into A&P territory, and look for anything that is even a hint vibratory.

RE: Does experience track maps always or only sometimes?
Answer
5/19/09 3:39 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: sean2.0

Thanks to all for your responses and thoughts.

My life (both before and after starting meditation) has been characterized by relatively brief moments (seconds or minutes) of heightened perception or understanding or experience that seem scattered across an otherwise pretty typical life. I've generally thought of them as pointers toward a path that has led me to where I find myself now.

Where am I today? As I noted above, for a number of months, I consistently practiced meditation, noticing thoughts and sensations arising and subsiding, naming them as I noticed them. It was all pretty placid, though it was a bit alarming to see how readily my mind wandered from here to there to god-only-knows-where. It was a useful practice that led to a new experience of lightness in my daily life, even to periods when normal existence seemed a bit transparent -- like I could see through the experience to the awareness of the experience. So when I first read Daniel's book and he mentioned the possiblity of noticing five or ten or twenty things per second, I thought, "No way -- that's impossible. You can't perceive things that fast." After a couple of days of so thinking, it occurred to me that even though I couldn't perceive things *that* fast, I could probably notice things more rapidly than my usual placid pace.

Since then, I've moved (blessedly) out of the constant back/neck pain experience I had lived in for months and months of my meditation practice. It seems that the more rapidly I began noticing sensations, the more sensations there were to notice. Tiny twitches began to occur in my finger tips and toes. As I tried to bring my noticing attention to those perceptions, they multiplied and amplified.

RE: Does experience track maps always or only sometimes?
Answer
5/19/09 3:52 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: sean2.0

cont'd

Also, sitting started to get a lot more interesting. These days, my sitting usually starts with a few slow breaths, allowing my attention to settle on whatever it experiences, usually starting with the breath at the nostrils. Within a couple of minutes, the twitches in fingertips and toes start. Usually (but not always) a few more minutes, and the twitches spread to my shoulders and spine, sometimes with what I think of as kundalini -- energy/shudder/surger running from tailbone along my spine to my shoulders. Sometimes it gets hard to hold open the noticing and sometimes the mind gets lost in thinking about the experience, but the physical sensations usually bring the mind back to the noticing practice pretty quickly.

Sometimes, as happened a couple of days ago, the buzzing/twitching/etc. subsides quite suddenly, and there is a kind of space and quiet. On one occasion last week, "normal" perceptions then re-started, but they seemed to do so only on the periphery of my awareness -- the center seemed void/empty/potential, if that makes any sense. I hadn't previously thought of awareness or perception having a shape, but it seemed to have, at least, a center and a periphery.

This morning was a more 'typical' buzzing/twitching/kundalini experience. The physical sensation compares to driving fast down a gravel road. But this time, it occurred to me to try to perceive each twitch-perception individually, and then to perceive their individual arising and subsiding. I'm not sure if that's a productive approach, but it did seem to be possible to perceive the sensations more acutely than I'm currently doing.

Any suggestions would be more than welcome.