Where am I?

Chris, modified 5 Years ago at 3/27/17 11:50 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/27/17 11:49 AM

Where am I?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/9/17 Recent Posts
hi everyone - I am looking for some perspective on where I may be along the stages of insight given my experiences so far. I am not overly worried about this, but frankly am a bit confused and think it would be helpful to have a better sense. Thank you in advance for any perspective, as I know this forum is a great resource and you folks are much more experienced than I am. 

So I had been practicing forms of concentration meditation for maybe 6 months (had also done this previously, but a couple years prior). I took up vipassana by incorporating noting into my sits. Over the course of a few weeks, I had very positive experiences and felt confident I moved through the first two stages.

At the end of these few weeks, I was noting while sitting and had an experience where I felt a strong pulsing in my chest area which lasted for a few seconds, and then spread so that I was feeling the same pulse everywhere in my body. It very much felt to me like feeling my body pulse in and out of existence (but maybe 3 pulses per second, not extremely fine). I was surprised by this as it seemed (to my inexperienced mind) like an A&P event, however I would have thought it was much too early in my practice for this. Moving on, the very next day, my meditation completely fell apart. Unable to muster any meaningful concentration, and suddenly feeling lots of physical pain while sitting. This has lasted a few months, accompanied by fairly meaningful depression. It was so difficult to meditate that I just dropped noting and went back to concentration as noting felt ineffective when I could not even muster a baseline level of concentration.

After a few months, depression has lifted, concentration is back, and I am once again noting and do feel I am experiencing some new insights.

So, the question is probably obvious: Was this A&P, dark night, and now emerging from dark night? I struggle to accept this as the event I am calling A&P happened so quickly into my experience with vipassana, and it did not seem to be extremely profound as I have read. 

Thank you very much for reading and for any perspective you may be able to share.
J C, modified 5 Years ago at 3/27/17 1:17 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/27/17 1:17 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Sounds exactly like A&P/DN to me. A&P doesn't necessarily take very long to reach.

Have you been meditating over the last few months? What's your practice been like?

Is there a feeling like you're coming up from being underwater? That's what the DN/Eq transition feels like for me.
Chris, modified 5 Years ago at 3/27/17 8:56 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/27/17 8:55 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/9/17 Recent Posts
Thanks for the response, it is really helpful to have thoughts of someone with more perspective.

Yes, 100% feels like coming out from under water. Or like I had been carrying a heavy weight that has now been lifted.

I have been sitting daily for this entire time and also using every opportunity I can throughout the day (uber to work, etc), I had just dropped mentally noting. I really was experiencing a fair amount of physical discomfort both on and off the cushion. Eventually my practice became focused on just surrendering to those sensations and watching without fighting them (mostly bc I was out of options as I realized nothing else worked). This was effective pretty quickly, and seems to have been the catalyst for moving forward. 

Lately, it seems I have been internalizing impermanence, emptiness, and the fact that everything we think is real is just a collection of disparate sensations labeled by the mind. Walking is a good example for me - I can pretty clearly feel a fine sensation in my legs or feet as I walk, see it disappear as it is replaced by another, and watch my mind bundle them together as a leg appears in my minds eye.  So that has seemed like progress.

One concern is that I do not feel like I am as advanced with noting as MTCB would imply I should be - should I really be able to note like 15 sensations per second? As in the walking example above, I certainly can be aware of sensations arising and passing, and see the minds process with those. But I am not as fast as Daniel writes about and I cannot actually mentally note that quickly, I can just touch them with my awareness. If I try to mentally note that quickly, I seem to just get tripped up.

Long response, I know, but appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 9:46 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 9:46 AM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
ditto.  classic.

btw..the "down time" that you experienced between hard charging meditation is not necessarily lost time.

i have made good progress while "backing off".

culadasa's model might mirror your experience more closely..take a look.

cheers
J C, modified 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 1:21 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 1:21 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Chris:
Eventually my practice became focused on just surrendering to those sensations and watching without fighting them (mostly bc I was out of options as I realized nothing else worked). This was effective pretty quickly, and seems to have been the catalyst for moving forward. 


Yup, that's the point of the Dark Night.


One concern is that I do not feel like I am as advanced with noting as MTCB would imply I should be - should I really be able to note like 15 sensations per second?


I've never come anywhere close to that and it didn't stop me from getting to 4th path. The most I can get is 2-3 / second.
Chris, modified 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 9:59 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 9:58 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/9/17 Recent Posts
Very helpful, thanks to you both. It seems like the course in equanimity is just to carry on and investigate some more abstract objects like equanimity itself, space, and the sense of an observer? MCTB mentions the mind blinking out a part of each moment, which maintains duality. Seems like I am observing this blink as it happens a bit recently. Anything else to focus practice on? I kind of get the impression from reading that once in equanimity, continued practice will almost inevitably lead to fruition.
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Laurel Carrington, modified 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 11:10 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 11:10 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 440 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
It can take awhile for some people, so keep up the momentum. A danger at this stage is slacking off because suffering is reduced, leading to complacency. I did that and got a second trip through the dark night. 

Technique can vary. I found it helped to establish concentration at the beginning of a sit, then do noting practice for awhile and eventually drop the noting and just experience whatever turns up. If you can work in some retreat time at this point, go for it, but otherwise, keep practicing and let the process unfold however it will. 
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Nikolai , modified 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 11:36 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/29/17 11:36 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Concerning the blinking...

i asked a similar question many moons ago. Daniel replied with some helpful advice at the time in this thread:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/87499


nikolai
Chris, modified 5 Years ago at 3/30/17 11:06 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/30/17 11:06 AM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/9/17 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
Concerning the blinking...

i asked a similar question many moons ago. Daniel replied with some helpful advice at the time in this thread:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/87499


nikolai


This is awesome, your question is exactly what I am experiencing
J C, modified 5 Years ago at 3/30/17 1:14 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/30/17 1:14 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Chris:
Very helpful, thanks to you both. It seems like the course in equanimity is just to carry on and investigate some more abstract objects like equanimity itself, space, and the sense of an observer? MCTB mentions the mind blinking out a part of each moment, which maintains duality. Seems like I am observing this blink as it happens a bit recently. Anything else to focus practice on? I kind of get the impression from reading that once in equanimity, continued practice will almost inevitably lead to fruition.

At this point what that helped me the most was to:

* spend as much time as possible in 4th jhana

* try to note things like "wondering" and "searching"

* visualize myself being tugged upwards

* look at each of the 3Cs in turn and then combine them all into one, in particular focusing on the sense of restlessness, the need to do something, the process of looking and focusing itself

* and at a certain point, just let go and let it happen.

For me, SE happened on retreat after the scheduled meditation hours - I had gone back to my room after a full day of meditation in 4th jhana, and just felt like noting for a few minutes before bed, and that's when it happened.
Chris, modified 5 Years ago at 3/30/17 7:21 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/30/17 7:16 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/9/17 Recent Posts
Ok folks, today has seemed like a big day. Sorry to turn this into a bit of a practice log, but if anyone has any input please do share.

So I am noting basically all day whether I want to or not it seems. I have been focusing on the percieved split between my 'self' and sensations, basically the 'blinking'. It seems every single sensation I experience is self-referential i.e. feeling, image of self, hearing, image of self, on and on very quickly. As I was at the gym today, noting this and watcing that 'self' concept arise and cease constantly, a number of interesting things occured:

- Lost virtually all feelin
g of self, it just was not there - only those flickering thoughts
- Also really lost t
he conviction that anything actually exists. I intellectually understand the theory but this was very experiential
- I t
hink I started to get some visual 'snow' which is new for me
- Experienced t
hat there is no difference between the sense doors, the difference is just thought and seemed to occur with the images of 'self' that would arise after each sensation
- I t
hink I experienced formations, but not positive. Moments of very panoramic awareness with no feeling of self anchoring my awareness in one spot, so to speak. These moments felt very profound, and were accompanied by very strong bliss to the point that I actually laughed out loud in the middle of the gym
- Stran
gely, while I was standing still and noting, I would keep losing all sense of balance and start to tip straight backwards over my heels to the point I definitely would have fallen if I didnt actively catch myself. This happened like 5 times. Not sure what that is about but I am sure I must have looked like a spaz at the gym emoticon

T
he only constant I can find in the 'self' images is the sense that sensations are over 'there' and 'I' am 'here'. Watching that, and seeing that that split is just impermanent thought seems to have lead to these experiences. It seems that the self concept is dependent on arising of sensations - all I can find is the thought that sensations are over there so therefore 'I' am here. Take the sensations away and there could be no 'self' concept at all. I guess that is dependent arising. And of course, sensations depend on a perciever, which is not there. It seems the whole concept of reality is tied to the concept of self.  

Anyway I will continue to investi
gate this and the other things you all have mentioned as I think the guidance from you all has been very helpful. Feels like I must be close but am doing my best to avoid worrying about fruition. 
Chris, modified 5 Years ago at 3/31/17 8:32 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/31/17 8:32 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/9/17 Recent Posts
Think I may have reached fruition today although am also not sure if I am making it up so would appreciate any input.

Was sitting earlier today with the intention of just doing concentration and surrendering as I felt I have been trying a bit hard to get somewhere. Moved to gently noting after some concentration, after which the event I think was fruition occured. I was aware of noise outside my window but mostly as just buzzing, then *pop*, followed by hearing the buzzing and realizing it had disappeared a moment ago, as well as my visual attention being focused beind my eyelids also with the sense that it was coming back from having disappered. Overall, definitely the sense of reality re-engaging. Immediately after this, my heart started pounding quickly, and "what the f*** was that". No bliss wave - not sure if that is always present.

I found this in another thread that very accurately describes the experience: 

"On a couple of occasions, I was in a state of extremely calm, high equanimity then the next instant my heart was beating very fast and focus was resting on looking at inside of my eyelids, whereas an instant before attention had not been there."

My inclination is that this was it, but it was so subtle and I do not feel particularly different other than maybe a solid sense of calm. I understand I need to see what happens over the next few days but appreciate any opinions in the meantime?
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Nikolai , modified 5 Years ago at 3/31/17 9:37 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 3/31/17 9:36 PM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Promising. See if it repeats with continued practice. 

Do you see any cycling through repeated territory/mindstates? More importantly, has your view shifted in some way, if so, how? 

Nick
Chris, modified 5 Years ago at 4/3/17 11:29 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/3/17 11:29 AM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 1/9/17 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:
Promising. See if it repeats with continued practice. 

Do you see any cycling through repeated territory/mindstates? More importantly, has your view shifted in some way, if so, how? 

Nick


Re my view changing, it is subtle, but the best I can describe is I feel like I dropped some of the self sensation such that thoughts seem really not to 'stick' in the same way. It is like the identifying with thoughts and sensations has diminished - less clinging. This has definitely been noticeable to me.

I could make a case t
hat I have been cycling - it is not completely obvious to me but I have not been great at identifying the stages throughout all of this. The experience has not repeated although I have really sat only twice since.
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Nikolai , modified 5 Years ago at 4/4/17 3:37 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/4/17 3:37 AM

RE: Where am I?

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Smells like progress, Chris. Keep doing it what you were doing. Keep us posted on any patterns you see emerging.

nick