Recently (re)Crossed A&P - Advice Requested

C K, modified 11 Years ago.

Recently (re)Crossed A&P - Advice Requested

Posts: 5 Join Date: 7/23/10 Recent Posts
Greetings everyone. About 1.5 weeks ago I went through A&P over a ~5 day period, as confirmed by Daniel over email (yes, I'm one of the 99% who contacted him thinking they made path but didn't emoticon). I wrote about it some in this thread if you're curious about the details - many thanks again to all who responded.

My first A&P event was about 7 years ago, an incredibly intense experience of nonduality induced by LSD, which dredged up a host of traumatic "stuff" issues causing me to lose touch with consensual relative reality for a few months. Several years of intense Dark Night ensued and since I did not start practicing until last fall, and not seriously until this summer, it's been a rough ride.

Anyway, I had some questions now that I'm back at the beginning and at least have a sense of the territory and a burgeoning practice to hopefully navigate this through to the end:

1) I re-crossed this recent A&P event through a "choiceless awareness" approach - anchoring attention at the breath (below the nose), just getting really relaxed, and making effort to be aware of as many sensations as possible and knowing them through the 3 Characteristics. After some time I feel vibrations running through my body, so I pay attention to those as well as anything else that comes into my awareness -- I'll sometimes try to "stretch" it to include a wider zone of awareness, such as sound or my lower body.

However, Daniel really recommends noting practice and many people here have seemed to have made a lot of progress with it. Is it worth switching over at this point, especially since it can help with Dark Night?

The problem is that just starting out now with noting, I can only note a few things at a time whereas I can sense many more sensations than that. If I try to speed up, it feels "forced" and I start to tense my body. Will slowing down for a while to really get noting down pay off in the end? Has anyone made it to stream entry just by choiceless awareness?

Right now I actually practice a hybrid form -- using noting when distracting thoughts or sounds come up, but otherwise keeping the mind quiet and attentive to the 3C of sensations.

2) As for noting practice itself, is it ok to focus on the nose instead of the stomach as is recommended? That's the location that presents itself most to me, though I'd be willing to relocate if necessary. Also, there's a lot of tension at and below my stomach (back/joint issues -- see below), but I'm not sure if this is one of those cases where I should plunge into that and struggle through, even if my concentration/insight takes a hit.

However, I also notice how I don't get as much of a physical feel for the breath at the nose, as it becomes incredibly subtle for me rather quickly and thus difficult to find then notice the sensations of the breath. Is this just something I need to work at, refining my awareness and attention to the point where I can find it again?

Then again, when I'm noting the rising and falling of the breath at the nose, the zone of attention seems to shrink and becomes more one-pointed as I make effort to notice those subtler sensations, thus seemingly cutting me off from the broader awareness that picks up more sensations.

Is this a problem in terms of gaining insight? That is, even if I'm attempting to discern the 3C, could the attention become "too" one-pointed?

3) The pressure at the third eye region I mentioned in that first post has dropped down, seemingly into my sinuses. During longer sits, I'll sometimes hear a small click or crack -- it seems like the energy is trying to break through and balance out in my head or something.

Anyone else experience a similar shift in pressure after A&P or at another stage?

Also, I'll catch my jaws unconsciously moving around when the pressure becomes really intense during meditation, as if to help the energy or what have you "break through". Usually upon observation, the jaws will relax, and then I'll focus on the pressure, mostly attempting to see its impermanence and pierce the illusion of solidity.

Any thoughts on other ways of dealing with this?

4) Likely related, I've had increasingly serious back/joint pain that suspiciously originated around the time of my first A&P. Years of visiting doctors on and off has yielded no signs of a coarse physical injury (although it could be related to a foot injury many years before -- but it's a tenuous connection at best), so I think this is at least partially related to being in Dark Night and/or having other subtle energy imbalances.

In fact, when concentration is good I can feel how the energy has trouble moving down my left arm (which has several tight spots in connected joints in the back), where I feel only a tingling of energy in the palm, whereas my right arm and hand has a feeling of "smoother" energy flow.

My wildly speculative theory is that the pressure above is related to the pain below, as perhaps since I've begun cultivation and meditation, my system is now trying to balance out or something.

I've been quite lucky to be introduced to two practices that I think will really help with this - yin yoga and qi gong. I've just started the former and I can tell it will really help. I'll be beginning the latter in a few weeks.

Any other recommendations for energy work and recovery from these sorts of long term injuries?

5) Lastly, thoughts on applying insight in daily life? I've been practicing a lighter form of my hybrid choiceless awareness/noting method ("feeling" impermanence as I walk by noticing any vibrations and sensing as many things as possible at once as well as noting distracting thoughts or strong feelings).

Anything else that people have found to work when not engaged in activities requiring much concentration?

Hm, alright I've probably inundated the forum with enough questions at the moment. I haven't noticed anything too intense yet in terms of Dissolution, although the ease of meditation and concentration power has DEFINITELY dropped off, but I'm keep my senses alert and doing my best while meditating, even if progress feels like somewhere between paltry and nonexistent.

Given my first incredibly intense A&P, this was minor in comparison (thought definitely significant and yielding some pretty profound insight both in ultimate and relative least for me). Perhaps (hopefully?) this time through won't be as bad...however, I'm not counting on it.

Lastly, just to give an idea of how my practice has progressed, I resumed practicing between 1-2 hours starting in mid-june after a 4 month hiatus (having only started 3 months before that with no knowledge of 3C, etc), and then in mid-July I went to 3-5 hours (which is when I read Daniel's book and began applying the 3C and so forth). I'm now averaging about 1-1.25 hours a sit.

Any other advice at this point would be welcome as well.

Ok, once again I'm incredibly grateful for this forum being here and of course for Daniel's work in MCTB. I hope at some point I'll be able to give back some of the immeasurable knowledge and help I've received to aid others on the path.

Thanks for everyone's time and help!

Derek A Cameron, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Recently (re)Crossed A&P - Advice Requested

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
I can only offer one small comment, and that is that noting creates a center of knowingness above and beyond simple tracking of the breath sensations.

Once this center of knowingness has built up some momentum, it will automatically (or with very little additional effort) carry forward into your daily life.
C K, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Recently (re)Crossed A&P - Advice Requested

Posts: 5 Join Date: 7/23/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for your thoughts on noting, Derek. Even though I haven't plunged into full noting practice just yet, I have noticed that when distracting thoughts come up in daily life, noting does kick in.

Some updates:

-I'm definitely back to the the land of "mere mortals" after the high of A&P. The purplish mind-space I see when I close my eyes is how a confusing, scattered haze, ranging from 5-10+Hz, as opposed to the concentrated, jhana-inducing third eye of before.

-My attention naturally wants to rest in that space, however discordant and unfocused it is. From there, it still feels like I can sense many more sensations (although I don't feel the vibrations like I did during A&P) -- my object, then, seems to be that space, and I can also incorporate sound as a focus for the 3C - especially impermanence and not-self. I wonder, however, if I'm not penetrating deep enough by just settling into this space and thus not sharpening my perceptual skills? It's hard to tell at this phase.

-The pressure has now extended to just above the roof of my mouth when practicing and then moving back to my sinuses at other times. It's quite distracting and seems to pick up in intensity when I gain some concentration. I inevitably end up focusing on it for some time (as it's the sensation that presents most strongly), attempting to break up its seeming solidity and examining any associated feelings that come up...but it's quite difficult.

-Lastly, since I was becoming to confused and straining to "find the breath" while attempting noting practice at the nose, I'm going to try at the abdomen as recommended by the practice. I'm finding that my abdomen actually moves very little in initial attempts but then sometimes I'll unconsciously begin to exaggerate the movement. Perhaps this is just a beginner's mistake, like with forcing the breath at the nose or elsewhere?

So I'm feeling quite confused about technique and not sure whether to put in several weeks with a new one or not. Plus, I read in another post by Daniel that mentioned how his noting practice during Dark Night became much broader given the nature of attention during that phase. I'm wondering how others found their practice change during Dark Night and whether they consciously altered their technique at any point.


Thanks for reading.
C T K, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Recently (re)Crossed A&P - Advice Requested

Posts: 28 Join Date: 8/4/10 Recent Posts
Just a heads up to anyone who's interested, I've since distilled from my ramblings above a more focused thread regarding technique...interesting developments have been in...ah, development emoticon. Jump over to the link below and chime in if you like:

Thanks DO!