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candle kasina practice - sore eyes

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candle kasina practice - sore eyes
Answer
3/11/12 7:05 AM
just wondering if it is possible to burn your eyes (i mean retina really) by staring for an hour at a candle in a dark room?

what if you do it lots of times?

apparently you can stare at the candle and then meditate on the after image with eyes closed. only i'm not finding this sticks around long and so a lot of the time i'm looking at the flame.

is this bad for your eyes?

thanks. jacki.

RE: candle kasina practice - sore eyes
Answer
3/11/12 3:54 PM as a reply to wacky jacky.
wacky jacky:
just wondering if it is possible to burn your eyes (i mean retina really) by staring for an hour at a candle in a dark room?

what if you do it lots of times?

apparently you can stare at the candle and then meditate on the after image with eyes closed. only i'm not finding this sticks around long and so a lot of the time i'm looking at the flame.

is this bad for your eyes?

thanks. jacki.



Don't push it too far. If you need to blink your eyes a little, do so. I did it lots of time and I still have 20/20 vision. Once your body starts to present 'pleasantness' in some form, then either switch to noting or your vipassana practice, OR if jhana territory is the aim, then shift your attention to the pleasantness within the body and make it fullbodied by expanding that awareness panoramically filling up the whole mind/body with such pleasantness. Don't worry about the afterimage. I hardly ever focused on it and it always disappeared after a few minutes. I shifted all focus to 'pleasantness' manifesting in the body due to concentrating the mind. Experiment!

Nick

RE: candle kasina practice - sore eyes
Answer
3/11/12 3:34 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Just wanted to chime in because I have recently started doing some kasina-practice as well and have similar problems.

Nikolai, you said that it's okay to have SOME amount of blinking. But for me it's more like constant blinking, like every 5-7 secs or so (just due to the constant staring and watering of the eyes, I think). Also, it seems hard to have the visual image of the kasina stay really fixed in place. There is always some amount of involuntary movement of the image involved, caused by micro-movements of the eyes that can't seem to be stopped.

Do we have to really shoot for perfection here or will the pleasant sensations arise even when there is no complete fixed focus on the kasina? Maybe you could also share with us after what average amount of time these sensations came up for you (rough estimate of course). Is there a really long time of completely undivided attention necessary to have them arise?

Thanks alot!

RE: candle kasina practice - sore eyes
Answer
3/11/12 4:19 PM as a reply to Christian Vlad.
Christian Vlad:
Just wanted to chime in because I have recently started doing some kasina-practice as well and have similar problems.

1. Nikolai, you said that it's okay to have SOME amount of blinking. But for me it's more like constant blinking, like every 5-7 secs or so (just due to the constant staring and watering of the eyes, I think). Also, it seems hard to have the visual image of the kasina stay really fixed in place. There is always some amount of involuntary movement of the image involved, caused by micro-movements of the eyes that can't seem to be stopped.

2. Do we have to really shoot for perfection here or will the pleasant sensations arise even when there is no complete fixed focus on the kasina? Maybe you could also share with us after what average amount of time these sensations came up for you (rough estimate of course).

Thanks alot!


1. When you let your gaze stare off into the distance, do you blink a hell of a lot? Or is it more of a relaxed gentle gaze that has no 'effort' involved in it? If it is then simply stare at the candle as you would the distant mountains or valleys or trees or buildings or whatever in the horizon. Let the gaze be gentle and let the eyes relax just before they shut by themselves.

If you catch the staring becoming very 'effortful' then remind yourself to relax the eyes and let it be a gentle gaze once again. If the eyes blink, they blink. Let it happen. Just remind yourself when the blinking has ended to return to the object gently, sans effort!

Simply training the mind to do this again and again without 'trying' to do it is accumulative and it gets easier as you do it over and over. Let the eyes blink when they blink. The object of kasina practice is to return attention to it when the mind moves away from it again and again, whether your mind has wondered away in thought or the blinking interrupted the flow of observing the kasina. The flow of attention is more important than the flow of eye sight. If blinking occurs, pay attention to it. Then return to the kasina object when it has subsided no matter how many times blinking occurs. And experiment with the way you stare at the kasina object. If it has a sense of 'trying' overlaying it, recognize that and let that tendency relax.

2. When I did kasina for a long time, I took on board the idea that I was essentially following the anapanasati sutta instructions but the breath was substituted by the kasina object.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'


This is how I did it:
Observing he discerns, 'I am staring at the kasina object', staring he discerns the colour of the kasina object, staring he discerns the movement of the object (for candle flame), staring he discerns the shape of the object, staring he discerns the perception of the perception of the object, staring he discerns 'blinking, blinking, blinking,', staring he discerns 'returning to the kasina object', repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, till....


"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'


He keeps staring sensitive to rapture, then pleasure, then mental fabrications, then calming mental fabrications (and bodily ones). Doing this, 'pleasant sensations' would manifest within the body due to the calming of the mental fabrications (and the bodily ones) and I would then shift all attention to such sensations (with eyes thus closed). Pleasantness would always result.

I practiced within the Goenka tradition for years and gained access to a subtle level of vibrations felt throughout the body and it was then not very hard to calm mental and bodily fabrications to give rise to 'pleasure' and rapture from simply concentrating the mind. It had become more pliant, malleable as a result. a few minutes of staring at the kasina was enough to shift to 'pleasantness' (back in 2009). If it doesn't take that long for you, keep repeating the kasina instructions till the mind is a little more pliant and malleable and thus gives rise to 'pleasantness'. Experiment!

Is there a really long time of completely undivided attention necessary to have them arise?


That would depend on you, the way you practice and the 5 hindrances interfering with that 'undivided attention'. It doesn't have to be 'long' if you practice in a way that works for you. Experiment!
Nick

RE: candle kasina practice - sore eyes
Answer
3/11/12 4:49 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:

1. When you let your gaze stare off into the distance, do you blink a hell of a lot? Or is it more of a relaxed gentle gaze that has no 'effort' involved in it? If it is then simply stare at the candle as you would the distant mountains or valleys or trees or buildings or whatever in the horizon. Let the gaze be gentle and let the eyes relax just before they shut by themselves.


I just tried to use a more "relaxed-eye" approach and found the following:
Firstly, the blinking gets a little less frequent, but it is still quite a lot. I guess I just never noticed that I needed to blink that much in general.
Secondly, when I try to relax my eyes, vision gets very blurry which makes the kasina lose its hard edges and exact shape quite a bit.

I should probably mention that I am not using a candle flame as my current kasina. Instead, I use a shiny spot on the nose of a teddy bear that belongs to my girlfriend and happens to be sitting on the edge of our sofa.. xD
In my opinion, this has the advantage of not being quite as "burning" as a candle flame after a while (I had similar experiences like wacky jacky, especially when sitting in a dark-ish environment with the candle for long amounts of time).

So far I was under the impression that I should really zone in on the kasina object, which would mean really staring at the chosen object to the general exclusion of the (visual) surroundings. Your last post makes it sound a lot more like one doesn't have to stare that hard at the object, but keep more of a full-panoramic view which just happens to have the kasina-object in its visual center. I will probably have to experiment with this a lot more to really get the hang of it.

Thanks for the quick reply and oh btw, I think all your podcasts rocked emoticon

Christian

RE: candle kasina practice - sore eyes
Answer
3/12/12 5:05 AM as a reply to Christian Vlad.
i like the idea of the teddy kasina.

i've decided to go back to using my security screen door. it's covered in diamond shapes. today i was staring at a shiny edge, and it felt like the flame. nice...

RE: candle kasina practice - sore eyes
Answer
10/5/12 9:45 AM as a reply to wacky jacky.
I hear by blurring your eyes, you're protecting them, but I think you can only do it for so long gazing at a naked flame! I wouldn't recommend any longer than 20 min. I find gazing at raindrops against a windowpane or puddle next to a street lamp (neon lights even) work better for me! My all time favourite gaze for meditation has to be reflected sunlight on a river or moonbeams on a calm lake gets me into the zone in no time at all! Meditating at home, if you live in a noisy neighbourhood you can use a background sound of rain or waves to help cancel any unwanted noise pollution!