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Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?

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Author: Ryguy913
Forum: Practical Dharma

Hello, I'm a newcomer to DhO, and encountering a few specific sensations that I'm curious about. I've explored different approaches to them, but I wonder if any senior practitioners have advice on ways to treat these phenomena that could open up to new horizons. At the present I feel stuck whenever I encounter them.

The first is a strong surging sensation in my chest. I have a positive association with it, and it feels like what we might call elation, but it quickly moves from being expansive to being tight, very much like the onset of an orgasm. Tightness and contraction of stomach mustles, moving up to tightness in chest, shoulders, neck and face. I can't seem to release these sensations as they arise, only once they've become hardnened (by returning to the breath). Btw, this occurs all throughout my daily life, as well as in sitting meditation.

Secondly, I notice tingling sensations arising, especially as the in-out breath becomes refined, often to the point of being nearly imperceptible at the nostrils or of ceasing at the nostrils and moving through my body "on its own" (?). So far I've been noting and then releasing this sensation, returning to the breath, and then it often returns stronger. I wonder if this is simply a kind of rapture or bliss that's not much of a big deal, just a sign, or whether it's also an as-of yet-missed opportunity to do something I haven't thought of yet, which might create an opening.

Thirdly, often breath sensations turn into spinning visualizations (like a centrifuge) in the course of my practice, and I wonder whether these are likewise merely signs to note and watch pass away/release, or whether I might approach/investigate them in a way that could actually be more fruitful than merely noting and watching/releasing.

Thanks for any advice!

RE: Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?
Answer
7/16/09 5:24 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: Ryguy913

Further info about me:

I did a 10-day retreat at Wat Suan Mokkh's Dhamma Hermitage in 2006, and since then have been in school/working. I visited Wat Metta on a very brief vacation in 2008. Since those times I've been practicing anapanasati and metta reflections in daily life, and sitting approximately 20 minutes at a time, but somewhat sporadically, not every day. (I know, that's probably the first advice I'll get : ) .... to sit/walk daily!)

I've had some good success with both sitting and walking meditation, especially while contemplating dependent co-arising, and following the anapanasati techniques of either Ven. Thanissaro or Ven. Buddhadasa. More recently I've come across Ven. Mahasi and Ven. Dhammadaro's practical techniques (both noting intensive), and found them to be helpful, but I haven't learned those in person, as I have with Ven. Thanissaro and disciples of Ven. Buddhadasa, meaning they feel remote to me, and I lack much confidence that I'm doing them right.

Right effort and right concentration are particularly difficult for me, as well as right speech in the conventional realm (desiring to please is a big hang-up for me).

Also, another note about my previous post, at times I seem to be watching phemonena pass away, and other times intentionally releasing. Is one of these "better" (more effective) than another, when it comes to sitting meditation? Or when it comes to nimitta, or rapture?

Lastly, does anyone else have any experience working with these instructions "The Direct Path: September 14, 1956," about 3/5 down the page (from Ajahn Lee)?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/strength.html

Thanks.

RE: Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?
Answer
7/17/09 9:37 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Ryguy913

Here's an old thread about the chest area, which you might find interesting:

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/2872310/The+heart%2Fchest+area+and+it´s+importance+in+vipassana

Tingling "energy vortexes" and 2-dimensional visualizations synching up with the breath can be one of the many landmarks of A&P territory. I wouldn't go by any single such landmark, however. Are you familiar with the "progress of insight" map?

Anyway, any such phenomenon can be noted. I don't expect my noting to release anything or do anything beyond noticing. My attitude, which has served me well so far, has been "whatever presents most strongly, I note it". I also prefer fast noting over slow noting, for insight.

Right effort - which definition do you use? The fourfold one? Usually, I get more out of using the three broad divisions of the eightfold path (sila, samadhi, panna) than the fine-grained eight categories: I find it easier to slot an experience along the lines of "this is a matter of morals" or "this is about concentration" or "I could use this for investigating the truth" than "right livelihood" or "right concentration". I can always drill down into the path-factors or their definitions when I find it necessary.

Since you mentioned nimitta - I tend to reach concentration states, stable nimitta and so on, when tuning into slow vibrations, getting into the groove, doing slow noting, doing "buddho" on the in- and out-breath and so on. Quick noting doesn't have this tendency, with me at least.

I don't have any practical experience with the particular set of instructions by Ven. Ajahn Lee which you referred to. His advice to go for the strongest sensations, but not to be led around by them, seems very sound, as is to be expected emoticon

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?
Answer
7/18/09 1:16 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Ryguy913,
Here are some key points:
Ajaan Lee:
“When you fix your attention on the breath, you must try to cut away all outside preoccupations. Otherwise, if you let yourself be distracted, you won't be able to observe the subtleties of the breath and mind “
“Use just the feelings of emptiness, relaxation, or lightness. To use them means to expand their range so that you feel empty in every part of the body”
“focus on the whole body all at once as the single object of your awareness“

While I agree with Florian that anything can be noted I argue that Ajaan Lee is not presenting this as a noting practice and if you want to benefit in the way he has suggested – don't do it as a noting practice.
You are not trying to notice anything here – just incline the mind to an open spaciousness. This is all about giving “rise to a feeling of comfort and ease — relaxed, spacious, and still — like having an unobstructed view of the open sky”.

(cont)

RE: Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?
Answer
7/18/09 1:17 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
(cont)
Maintain a whole body awareness while at the same time staying as fully immersed in the body as possible. Try spending some time just feeling the outline of your body – the surface – to give you a sense of 'whole body'. Keep this in mind as you do your meditation.

What ever sensations come up – just incline your attention toward the qualities of “emptiness, relaxation, or lightness” that you find as a component of whatever sensations you experience. They are there but it may take time to draw them out – remember to keep some of your awareness on the whole body. Cultivate this as a whole body sensation. That is let the sensations of lightness, etc. expand to fill the whole body. All the sensations you mention may be handled in this way.

Remember you are training awareness to rest in ever more spaciousness and stillness. Takes time.

-Chuck

RE: Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?
Answer
7/22/09 10:12 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: Ryguy913

Thanks very much for your replies. The chest-area thread was a good reference, Florian. Helpful to read that as I'm simultaneously becoming more familiar with progress of insight maps. And, Chuck, I appreciate the emphasis on spaciousness. Breath energy has quite an amazing power!

I've been enjoying exploring the "light, empty" aspect of sensations that appear at first tight and knotted. Also fascinating how thinking can play a role, and how spaciousness of body and mind can influence each other " in both directions." Very helpful lately in difficult relationship times, opening up views and easing communication.

RE: Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?
Answer
7/22/09 10:16 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: Ryguy913

Also, I've found Shunryu Suzuki's talk about sound very useful in both calming and insight factors, combined with Ajahn Lee's techniques using breath. To put this in more specific terms, I use Suzuki's non-dual instructions combined with Ajahn Lee's spaciousness quality to bring both mental and bodily calm to relieve stress in both thought and body. For instance, I'm talking with my Mother, hear her words, become aware of a sense of irritation or anger, along with a bodily tension (often in neck or back or shoulder), bring a spacious quality to breath, spread to body, and from there consider thoughts from a spacious standpoint, and allow Mother as noise (in Suzuki's terms) to become sound, at which point brahma viharas (metta and equanimity especially) often arise on their own (or are easier to generate through conscious effort), mirroring the point in Suzuki's talk where bird comes into heart and bird is reading, or in my reality the barriers between Mother and Me break down (or whomever it is I'm relating to), allowing the stress of conflicting "people" to dissipate. Not only is relating more peaceful, but we are able to think more creatively and find root causes of conflict.

For those of you who are interested in my synchronistic approach, refer to Ajahn Lee's teaching in the link above, and the Suzuki video on youtube below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHNyCAJXUXE

Also, Ven. Thanissaro has several excellent talks on calming and directing breath energy among the collection of his talks at Wat Metta:

http://www.dhammatalks.org/

May these resources be available for the benefit of all who come across this thread!

RE: Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?
Answer
7/22/09 10:19 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: Ryguy913

Whoops. Syncretistic approach is what I meant to say. Combining teachings, in other words. : )

RE: Surging sensations, tingling sensations, spinning visualizations?
Answer
7/22/09 10:44 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: Ryguy913

Here's a particularly helpful essay relevant to my earlier posts, provided by Ven. Thanissaro:

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/DependentCo-arising.pdf

Because this footnote common to the website is not attached to the article above, I'd like to add that the Access to Insight website specifies terms of use in relation to other articles, suttas, etc:

Terms of use: You may copy, reformat, reprint, republish, and redistribute this work in any medium whatsoever, provided that: (1) you only make such copies, etc. available free of charge; (2) you clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) you include the full text of this license in any copies or derivatives of this work. Otherwise, all rights reserved. For additional information about this license, see the FAQ."

Please heed those specifications respectfully.

Thanks.

- Ryan