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u/CoachAtlus · 3 pointsr/streamentry

This is golden. Lots of great information here. It's also encouraging, because based on your descriptions, I don't feel like I'm necessarily far off from being able to get into the much more absorbed, plainly altered jhana stuff. I'm familiar with much of what you describe, but I've never really just gone for it. I'm usually experiencing a lot of these sensations with a mind that is at least partly using its vipassana/investigative lens, so I don't fully absorb in the piti or make much effort to spread it around.

The few times that I have tried to really play with piti and spreading it around, I had success. In keeping with the phenomenonological spirit of this sub, I'll try and recall as best I can what those different stages felt like. I didn't get there using the breath as an object. As best I can recall, I was just practicing noting and decided to instead absorb myself into pleasant sensations. This was around the time I was reading Leigh Brasington's book Right Concentration, so I was playing with some of these things, just not exclusively. It was also right after a major path breakthrough of some sort, so the mind was extremely powerful and unified, which I think made accessing these experiences much easier. I haven't had much success repeating this experiment, but candidly, it hasn't really been a focus of mine.

  • First stage (what I thought of as first jhana): Tuning into the pleasant sensations arising in my body, the electric energy sensations, which I have always thought of as piti, I manage to become deeply interested and engaged with it. As you say, I started spreading it around using a sort of body-scanning method in which I'd slowly expand that sensation to surrounding areas until it felt like I was basically sitting in a bubble of the piti, which completely surrounded my body. Physically, the bubble was most intense around the exterior of the body as I recall. It was present, but less intense in the interior portion (chest, stomach, neck, head area -- basically corresponding to the chakra points).

  • Second stage: I tune into a different quality of that sensation. I recall thinking that I was looking for that part of the sensation that was not the gross physical-feeling sensation itself, but that quality of the sensation that was purely pleasant, free from that, what I thought of at the time as sukha. There was a noticeable shift. Maybe I was just tuning into a different flavor of the piti, as you described. But the sensation was less frenetic, electric, and smoother. Also, while I could still see the background first stage piti (the electric stuff) prominently focused around the body, this flavor of piti (or what I thought might be sukha) felt like it was focused in the central channel of the body -- the heart, third-eye, and crown were all very engaged at this stage.

  • Third stage: At this point, I tried to tune into that quality of the experience that pleasantly subdued, basically trying to tune away from the energetic stuff and into a more stable quality of relaxed peacefulness. This felt like the external first-stage sensations falling further into the background noise, and the internal second-stage sensations sinking into a heavy, relaxed sensation. Again, maybe just another flavor of piti I was playing with, but it felt like the descriptions I'd read of "third jhana." It was much quieter, more peaceful, yet still, I felt like I was in the bubble, always in the bubble.

  • Fourth stage: Felt like all of the stage one through three experiences coming back online, syncing up, but now they'd lost their edge is the best way to describe it. Whereas before, in stages one through three, each subsequent stage felt like I was moving away from a slightly unpleasant quality to a more pleasant quality, this felt like deep equanimity, bringing the entire bubble of those sensations, outside and inside, all together, without any of it really bothering me. I took this to be fourth jhana, and it felt -- that quality of equanimity -- just like it does in my standard noting/path work practice. From my perspective, the "feeling" of equanimity is less of a feeling and more of a quality of mind in which each object -- in this case the mix of these piti-flavored sensations -- is sort of picked up and put down immediately, without causing any clinging or aversion or, to put it another way, movement of the mind (which I experience as a stressful sensation in the heart area). All the stuff is happening, and I'm just sitting there, neutral to it all.

    From there, I was able to tune into some formless stuff (which Daniel told me sounded more like what he thinks of as 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, and 4.8 formless experiences, because it wasn't entirely formless given that there was a background sense of the body present). Basically, following Leigh's instructions, I progressively tuned my now well-honed attention into (1) that which I perceived as creating the quality of "space" -- used the sound of a passing car fading into the distance to shift into this phase, (2) that which I perceived as consciousness (simply becoming aware that the boundless space was all infused with mind clicked this into place), (3) that conceptual space in which nothing was happening (a turning away from even the perception of consciousness, almost like turning away from a light to stare back into a dark room) -- created a noticeable shift and I recall rousing myself from the state when the thought occurred "are there still cars outside?" and (4) trying to get into neither perception nor non-perception, which I am not sure I was successful at, I tried turning away even from that perception of "nothing," which led to a weird, hard to describe, seemingly barely conscious state, which felt something like,but not quite like, sleep maybe. (This last one I'm really not sure about, and my memory of that experience is not well formed because it was, weird.)

    I'd be curious to get your thoughts on these things. It felt like I'd rolled up through at least the first seven jhanas (with some degree of absorption) based on the descriptions I'd read in Brasington's book.

    But one confusion I'm having is on the absorption front. I've never distinctly experienced that "snowball" effect with any of this, where it feels like the piti just "takes off" and builds exponentially on its own.
u/jplewicke · 3 pointsr/streamentry

I have been following two main threads in my practice: continuing the ceiling fan kasina practice for developing concentration and insight, and investigating awareness more informally.

The ceiling fan kasina practice has been going well. This week I've returned to The Mind Illuminated as a framework for approaching my practice with it. Even though Culadasa recommends the breath as an object, there's still a lot of valuable ideas and suggestions in TMI when you're using an alternative object. I think I've been mainly in Stages 6-8 this week. Some subtle distractions and occasional subtle dullness do come up, but the vividness of the visual patterns in the ceiling fan is very useful for staying focused. I've mostly been trying to engage in close following while dropping effort whenever I can. I've also been trying to develop and encourage a sense of specific neutrality / equanamity towards all sensations.

The typical trajectory for my sits is to apply effort/intention for a while to stay focused on the ceiling fan. I get a lot of kriyas with odd breath patterns/holds and involuntary body movements, and just try to keep attention on the fan through them. During my better sits, one of two things happen: some sukkha arises and I do a 2nd jhana -> 3rd jhana -> 4th jhana descent, or the specific neutrality wears through without intermediate jhanic feelings and I find myself straight in the 4th vipassana jhana(back of head sucked down against the floor, equanimous feeling, little sense of self-identification).

This should theoretically be a really good place for obtaining insight -- I'm in at least a light 4th jhana, and my eyes are open with an intention to closely follow the impermanence of an immediately obvious strobing visual field. But it keeps on going nowhere in a variety of different ways:

  • Self-identifying with mind movements and popping myself out.
  • Messing around with awareness(see below) and triggering some piti/kriya that pops me out of 4th jhana.
  • Avoiding the first couple problems but then sitting around feeling like there's something else I should be doing or investigating or whatever.

    I've been working on developing specific neutrality towards more things and trying to develop more willingness to just sit and hang out and observe. It just feels like it's so close and that I just need to look at the right thing or do something slightly differently and I'd be there.

    The awareness side of my practice is a result of a few different things. One side is the theoretical side. One common thread that runs through people's descriptions of their post-4th path experience is that of mutual awareness -- the idea that all the elements of the different sense fields are all mutually aware of all the elements of all the sense fields. There's a really good description of this by Pawel K on the DhO that I'm having trouble tracking down, but it basically goes like this:

    > All sensations that are present in awareness are linked together. Normally this connection isn't obvious, but you can strengthen it through meditation until it's stronger than anything else. At that point everything is just mutually aware of everything else.

    This has also been prompted a bit by my observations into the selfing process. If you watch it, you'll notice that the self is constructed out of some fairly basic sensations -- stuff like muscle tension in the head, a sense of presence behind the eyes, and occasionally thoughts and emotions that are "mine". But if that was all, it'd be really easy to see through. There's also a strange sense of knowing and certainty -- you're really convinced that those parts of you are watching and aware of everything else. I think that that awareness, certainty, and knowingness in the felt sense of self is just a restricted and more obvious version of the full mutual awareness that's actually present behind the scenes. This is complete speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised if the brain's default mode network is the hardwiring of this sense -- just designate a few subminds as the aware ones and limit the sense of awareness to them.

    Based on this theoretical conjecture, I've been trying an eclectic assortment of methods of playing around with awareness. One of the foundations is the Mahamudra glimpse exercises from Shift Into Freedom, which have a number of techniques for becoming aware of the ground of the different sense fields rather than specific objects in them. I think it's really helpful to get a feel for different sense fields as themselves. A few techniques that have helped me with this:

  • Repeating "blah, blah, blah, ..." in your thoughts, and trying to be aware of the space/awareness that's present in the gaps between blahs (from Shift Into Freedom)
  • Moving meditation focused on the body, so you feel the subtleness or fluidity of the body.
  • Breath meditation where you get an "acquired appearance" of the breath and feel it in much more detail.
  • Focusing on the breath sensations at first, then focusing on the perceptual ground that they're arising within (from Shift Into Freedom).
  • Feeling like your hands and head feel huge after meditating (it's because they have more nerves).
  • Projecting metta to others and feeling emotions outside of your body.
  • Visual kasina practice for an extended period of time
  • Try to become aware of the space in the room you're in and the potential for you to see something there.

    I've also been experimenting to try to get one sense field or object to become aware of another one, with that same sort of certainty/knowingness of awareness that the self has. For example:

  • Once you're aware of the space in the room, try to get the space in the room to be aware of your bodily sensations, feelings, and thoughts (from Shift Into Freedom).
  • Look up at a corner of the room and feel that it's the centerpoint watching the rest of the things you see. Then imagine it also becoming aware of your body, etc. (from Shift Into Freedom).
  • When you've got an unpleasant or negative emotion that you identify strongly with, focus on the internal physical senations that characterize it. Then become aware from them of everything else you see/hear/think/feel.
  • When you're eating something, have what it tastes like and what the food feels like become aware of each other.
  • Do the blah-blah-blah exercise from before, and have the space thoughts move through become aware of the physical space around you.
  • Focus on a part of the visual field like a tree. Repeatedly think the word "tree" while being aware of the space it is in. Try to have the thought being aware of the space and the space being aware of/producing the thought.
  • Trying to make everything you see aware of everything you here and also aware of everything you feel. (triggers rapid piti / may be similar to the Witness)

    But really, once you accept the basic idea that every aspect of your existence should be mutually aware of other part and you've got some idea of what it feels like, you can just keep on trying to make more things aware of other things. Most of the time when I do these exercises, I start to get it for a fraction of a second and then some piti of varying intensity kicks in. There have been a couple dozen times in the last week where one of these felt like it was going to end up being stream entry, but that all passed. I've had similar piti/kriya experiences recently when reading people's practice logs and descriptions of path moments, as well as with general dharma reading. I especially liked the Hamilton Project's Testimonies of Equanamity and Stream Entry. I wanted to share a few random such things that made an impression on me recently:

  • Mentally zipping together the sensations of ease and extreme effort.
  • "Throw yourself backward into the abyss behind you."
  • Once you've got a handle on the different sense fields, think about how that's all that there is and there's no self beyond it.
  • When you're interacting with other people, try to let go of the sense of being an observer of the visual events and just let it be the other people there talking.
  • Try to be aware from the reflection of yourself in a mirror. Bonus points if you've got multiple mirrors set up so that there's more than one of you there.
  • If you've had an experience that you thought at the time was a cessation even if it could have been microsleep or a hypnagogic illusion, try to recall the feeling of the experience itself or what it felt like immediately after.
  • "I'd been aware of a slow, clunky vibration, a kind of chop-chop-chop muting of sensations, and the image I pictured for this was 'idling helicopter rotor sound'... I received the priceless advice from a good Dharma friend to pay attention to this, note it, stay with it, grab hold of it".

    This has been a strange period of practice to navigate. I feel generally more zoned out than usual. It's felt time and again like I'm in the instant of really comprehending what's going on, but every time it's been inconclusive or interrupted. It's kind of frustrating when you can get all sorts of different perceptual micro shifts that evaporate instantaneously. I feel like I'm trying to sneak up on myself to reveal something consciously that I already know unconsciously.
u/armillanymphs · 4 pointsr/streamentry

Since my last report I delved deeper into dream yoga by way of Andrew Holecek's dream yoga program. This pursuit has already contributed greatly to my path and practice by being insightful, appealing to my imagination and wonder, keeping my "waking life" awareness practice sharp, and being practical in preparing for death. The orientation towards dream yoga benefits as follows:

I kept a dream journal for six of the seven days of last week, which is the first time I've done so, and the contents of the dream have been surprising in revealing patterns and themes. This alone makes dream practice fruitful, as the content reflects aspects of my life that I otherwise wouldn't be aware of. The repetition reminds me of lifelong conditioning and how that contributes to the structure and perception of self. Not that I've nailed down concrete meanings of dreams, have seen them as instances of divination, or have acted upon them explicitly, but there's a continuity and meaningfulness in what arises that's worth reflecting on. For example, six of the seven nights consisted of dreams regarding aikido and me procrastinating, which strengthens my resolve in going to class despite being tired or having to take care of other matters (or just plain laziness).

The awareness practice I referred to here is called illusory form, which is the same practice I worked with a little while last year upon discovering Mahamudra. This consists of perceiving the dreamlike quality of all perception, as it is really no different than what one experiences in dreams. This has had a softening effect on emotions and somatic tension and is often accompanied by a temporary visual perceptual shift. In conjunction responding to distraction and mind-wandering with a reality check (is this a dream? Am I dreaming?) is a lovely take on mindfulness. I'll often scan objects in the environment and try to manipulate their shape as a means to test the malleability of perception, such as digital displays or words on signs.

Intention is another empowering component of the dream practices in that it arouses dedication to the path in a roundabout way. Telling myself that I will have many dreams, that I will remember them all, and that I will awaken within them fuels motivation, but doing it with the intention to fully awaken for the sake of all beings is even juicier. Often I'll go to bed and implore the buddhas and bodhisattvas to help me awaken in dreams for this goal, which is a very heartfelt and positive way to transition into sleep.

Earlier this year when I was reading Initiation Into Hermetics I had also been studying various western esoteric systems and the occult, and subsequently found threads between them and my discoveries and insights from meditation. I had found IIH to be very suitable to my aims compared to other systems that were interesting but didn't resonate with me, but later stages of IIH seemed daunting and unachievable...also a little far-fetched. Working with dreams satisfies the aspects drawn to magickal practices but in a way that seems more trackable, attainable, and in line with the pursuit of awakening.

In the mode of Rob Burbea soulmaking is rich here. Having read about Tertöns, those who have discovered termas in the Tibetan tradition (like Dudjom Lingpa for example), captures my imagination. Holecek implores people to invite and make contact teachers they've met or know of (regardless of time), and the adventurer in me really wants to test this out. And as far as how dream, sleep, and bardo yoga relate to death and metaphysics I'm happily agnostic there...I'm just thankful for another means to practice since humans sleep for approximately a third of their life. Having further contemplated the preciousness of human life in the Sutrayana course really fires motivation up but in a joyful way.

Also, given the level of interest and excitement for DY / LD it's a nice way to work with expectations and the attendant emotions (disappointment, striving, etc.). The process has been light and curious, and in one sense it reminds me of my work with TMI and pursuit of stream-entry in that I feel like a beginner once again. I feel like a scientist working in two shifts, the daytime serving as the worklike aspect of the lab where I see how effort affects the many qualities of dreams (strength and length of recall plus lucidity). No moments of lucidity just yet (which is funny given how strange some of the situations have been), but I've been able to recall and log from 2-5 sequences / scenes each day.

EDIT: Added content.

u/duffstoic · 7 pointsr/streamentry

Welcome! Several suggestions:

  1. The Mind Illuminated. The main author Culadasa just went through a sex scandal, so don't expect it to make you a saint. But that said, it's an amazing manual for developing concentration ("shamatha"). And it is body based in that the main object of focus is the sensations on the breath. Many people have used this approach with great results. Once you build sufficient concentration on the breath at the nostrils, it becomes much easier to feel other body sensations. At the point you are at now, you lack sufficient "sensory clarity" to notice them.
  2. Try a 10-Day Vipassana course. It's like meditation bootcamp, very hard core, but sometimes can be just what the doctor ordered. I was also a stuck in their head intellectual (philosophy major in undergrad). Vipassana courses start with meditation on the breath for 3 days, then it's all feeling the body head to toe for 7 days. Really helped me get into body sensations. Donation based, so you don't need to be rich to attend. Very painful if you don't have at least 1 hour a day sitting practice already though.
  3. Autogenic training. Another great body based technique that induces deep relaxation. Needs about 2-3 months of daily practice to start kicking in. 15 minutes or so twice a day is best. More "self hypnosis" than "meditation" but really does work given enough time and (letting go of) effort.
  4. Standing meditation aka zhan zhuang. This is probably the fastest way to get sensations of buzzing, tingling, etc. ("qi") in the body. Requires less time commitment too, only 20-30 minutes a day, but don't just stand there also relax deeply and feel into each part of the body one by one while keeping the form/structure. Can help to have a teacher, but not strictly required if you really work on having a long spine and relaxing into the posture.
  5. Tense and release exercises. This is often found in "progressive muscle relaxation" but the best way to do it IMO is slowly. Try lying down and relaxing for a minute or two, then very slowly tense all the muscles in your right leg from your toes, foot, calf, shin, quadriceps, hamstring, inner thigh, and glute. Take 30-60 seconds to go from totally relaxed to 90% maximum tension, then hold for 10 seconds, then slowly release the tension taking 30-60 seconds to return to relaxation. Compare how your right leg feels versus your left leg for a minute. Then do this with your left leg. Repeat for right arm and left arm. Then whole body. Now do a body-based meditation, feeling into the muscles and relaxing them--it will be much easier. When you are tensing or relaxing, it should be continuous, not static, so it should be very slowly getting more tense or getting more relaxed. That will build incredible muscle control and mindfulness. Once you get the hang of arms and legs and whole body, you can do specific muscle groups too which can be quite interesting.

    Best of luck!
u/beyondthecrack · 8 pointsr/streamentry

Hey there,
I think I can relate to your story.

I've been suffering from depression and dysthymia for most of my life, since I was a child.
I took medications, did plenty of psychotherapy, but it was my "spiritual journey" that finally healed me.

I haven't felt really clinically depressed in the last 6 years, and I've experienced some of the happiest years of my life. : )

One day I bumped into a video of a Buddhist teacher on YouTube, and I fell in love with his teachings.
Little by little it radically changed my attitude towards my moods.

The most radical shift was to learn to welcome and love my depression, as a sweet part of me.

But I also cultivated simplicity, gratitude, self-love and self-compassion, learning to be happy with less, practicing seeing beauty in everything around me.

Of all of those qualities, self-compassion turned out to be the most important.

Taking care of myself also meant, of course: physical exercise, healthy eating, and healthy sleeping habits.
But also learning to never beat myself up if I screwed up. : )

Now, I bet if someone measured my average happiness it'd score above average.

Sadness, and sometimes depression, still come to visit sometimes, but I see their value and beauty, and because of that they leave soon.

I even still have intrusive suicidal thoughts from time to time, that just pops in my mind. They used to really bring me down, but now they are beautiful reminders of how far I've gone, good old friends.

Spirituality may not be enough. I also studied a lot of psychology to understand myself.

It is important for me to filter spiritual practices based on their psychological impact.

For instance, Thich Nhat Hanh or Ajahn Brahm are wonderful teachers for someone who suffer from depression, while most dry vipassana teachers less so.

Here is a great book I can reccomend, on how to use mindfulness with depression:

Take care, and feel fee to message me in private if you'd like to talk.

u/Share-Metta · 9 pointsr/streamentry

My personal practice mixes breath meditation and metta. I start off with some mindful breathing to calm the mind and body. Then I take a minute to feel the breath through my various chakra areas. This step helps me get in touch with my internal processes and subtle energies. It helps a lot with feeling the emotional feedback of the metta practice. Next I move my breathing to the heart chakra (center of the chest) and maintain my awareness of the breath in that spot. Then I typically use the standard phrases towards myself after each exhale:

  • Inhale / exhale at heart chakra.
  • "May I be safe."
  • Inhale / exhale at heart chakra.
  • "May I be peaceful."
  • Inhale / exhale at heart chakra.
  • "May I be healthy."
  • Inhale / exhale at heart chakra.
  • "May I be happy."

    It's important to pay attention to the type of feedback you get from metta practice. You may feel like there is aversion or frustration there. Be mindful of whatever feedback you get and relax into it. Accept it and continue. This goes for positive emotions too! Accept them and continue with your intention of kindness.

    After however many rounds feel right of metta towards myself, I move onto specific people, whoever comes to mind first, and eventually onto all living beings. Here there is eventually a transition point where the metta is strong enough that I don't need to use the verbalizations, it's at this point that the metta is self-sustaining just by focusing on the intention/feedback loop.

    From here there are two directions I'll typically go in:

  1. Jhana
  2. Choiceless Awareness

    This is just my personal practice so I'm not sure how helpful it will be for you. In terms of books on Metta:

u/kloudspiller · 3 pointsr/streamentry

> I'm not familiar with Pyrrhonism, so if there's any links / articles / books you'd recommend please do so!

I've just found out about it too, due to a post by /u/sponsored

The primary source of Pyrrhonism are Sectus Empiricus writings, he wrote multiple books one of which is "Outlines of Pyrrhonism", which I'm currently reading. I think to get an understanding of Pyrrhonism, this is pretty much required reading, since it's a book written by a pyrrhonist of ancient greece.

also pointed me towards these books:

A comparison of Pyrrhonism and nargajuna:
(very good, you might even start with this if you're interested in parallels to buddhism)

A master thesis comparing Pyrrhonism and the platform sutra:
(read with caution, the authors understanding of Chan seems questionable at times, but good at some parts.)

> what compels you to visit /r/streamentry or consider a meditation practice?

/r/streamentry I don't know, I'm leaving it anyways. Meditation basically because it sounds fun. I don't see it as related to enlightenment at all, but the jhanas sound interesting, so I'll probably do some concentration based meditation. Also I believe that concentration practice might have positive effects on other areas of life, so that's also nice.
So I actually have no interesting reason other than, just being curious.

u/proverbialbunny · 4 pointsr/streamentry

There are multiple kinds of meditation, not one, and not secret.

Becoming aware of when you're not focusing on your anchor (the breath in this case) grows awareness of 'not focusing'. Every time you do this, you become aware when you are not focusing a little bit quicker. The more you do this, the less you will fall victim to stressful thoughts.

Notice, there is something subtle but very important here: It isn't about increasing awareness of the breath. It is about increasing awareness of when awareness goes away. In this way, every single time you catch awareness away from the breath, you've automatically grown a little. This is a good thing. Yes, catching the mind wandering is a good thing. (Too many people beat themselves up over it, when it isn't a bad thing. It's showing growth.)

Eventually you'll automatically become aware of what your mental state was like before starting a meditation session and how that plays out into the session itself. Likewise, you'll learn multiple kinds of meditation that are ideal for those different mental states, so you can be productive every time you meditate, instead of only sometime.

But to do that, you'll start meditating without even realizing it. That is, your awareness will increase. Just by being aware of a lack of awareness, awareness of awareness itself slowly becomes automatic. It's really nice and effortless. Is this the secret you are looking for?

edit: Checkout The Mind Illuminated. It will give you everything you're looking for and then some.

u/citiesoftheplain75 · 1 pointr/streamentry

Read Thanissaro's advice on the path, check out The Mind Illuminated and Right Concentration. These books provide balanced, mutually compatible approaches for the cultivation of jhana. Their instructions are effective and many people have achieved great results by putting them into practice.

Don't worry about when you're going to reach stream-entry. Enjoy the development of relaxation in your practice. Best of luck to you.

u/[deleted] · 4 pointsr/streamentry

>"There's... nothing... everything is subjective, there's no one truth, nothing matters, what is this? Is this life?" But then, I felt... lighter... happy. I felt a sense of true release.

>I felt joy in not knowing.

You might enjoy Pyrrhonism, aka 'ancient skepticism.'

You did what Pyrrhonists called an 'epoché,' where, you see a bunch of questions, and not knowing what to do, you suspend judgment, and from there all that anxiously-searching or passionately-clinging attitude with regard to the truth or to those beliefs that are super-hypothetical gets evaporated:

>The Sceptic, in fact, had the same experience which is said to have befallen the painter Apelles. Once, they say, when he was painting a horse and wished to represent in the painting the horse's foam, he was so unsuccessful that he gave up the attempt and flung at the picture the sponge on which he used to wipe the paints off his brush, and the mark of the sponge produced the effect of a horse's foam. So, too, the Sceptics were in hopes of gaining quietude by means of a decision regarding the disparity of the objects of sense and of thought, and being unable to effect this they suspended judgement; and they found that quietude, as if by chance, followed upon their suspense, even as a shadow follows its substance.

For those who think that Pyrrhonism isn't especially related to awakening, I suggest reading this paper:

u/sillyinky · 3 pointsr/streamentry

I have tried gently restarting the practice with the focus on paying attention to what I actually feel and actively trying to take care of my psychological state. A useful pattern emerged. Maybe it will be of use to someone.
If you feel distressed, in state of anxiety and causeless terror, start exploring the sensations only when you are firmly grounded in the present, your body, or, best of all, in the presence of another person who you trust and feel safe in company of. Sometimes, you don't have that luxury, but try to make environment as safe and comforting for yourself as possible. Listen to music that you find relaxing, to guided meditation, to an ASMR recording. You need to gently guide yourself out of 'fight-or-flight' condition, otherwise it is very likely that you will keep mind-wandering, and while mind-wandering you will hate yourself, so every time you will come out of mind-wandering you will be even more agitated and distressed.
Only when you are clearly grounded in the present and feel safe enough to not spiral down into self-loathing, start exploring the disturbing sensations. It feels still uncomfortable, but there is an edge to it: you are no longer drowning in the storm, you are weathering it. And while it happens, you can start getting familiar with anxious feeling in the way when they cannot harm you. Their presence is more tolerable and it gives this sliver of 'okayness', 'being relaxed to the presence of discomfort' that will allow you to stop feeding these sensations and come to the place of self-comfort.
P.S. This book was very helpful in recognizing what happens during such states. Once again, credit goes to awesome u/jplewicke.

u/kaj_sotala · 4 pointsr/streamentry

> Emotions have their own distinctive feel to them, not quite a physical sensation, but close. It feels like the emotions are somehow above bodily sensations. That's my subjective experience of them. It's like the body is the earth, with the emotions being the grass growing on it. Or something.

> So I became aware of this sadness, not quite the same thing as the knot, but definitely linked to it, and I sat with it. I probed the knot for a while, trying to coax it into opening, releasing, while simultaneously using self talk. I realized after doing this for some time that what I was doing was sort of violent, so I backed off and tried a different approach that lead to a breakthrough.

> There was an impatience to the way I was relating to the sadness, I just wanted to get underneath it, move past it, have it purify itself away. Essentially, I didn't want to feel sad. I learned a while ago not to approach physical tension and pain like this. Why would the emotions, or anything else, for that matter, be different? To move through something so that it may pass is just as aversive as ignoring it. It creates yet more tension to have to deal with.

> So I changed my tone, the way I was speaking to it, the words I was speaking to it. I softened, relaxed emotionally (what a novel idea) and found myself feeling tender and vulnerable. I started to say things to the body like, "you've done a great job protecting me all these years by containing this sadness within you, but you don't have to any longer. It's okay to let go, I'm just going to lay here with you until you decide to open."

> It was a beautiful experience that led to some wonderful feelings of metta, karuna, and tenderness. The soft gushy stuff that is usually so foreign to me. This experience showed me in a direct way the power our thoughts can lend us. Hence the entire idea of Right Speech and Right Thought. I felt silly for never seeing this before.

If you haven't already done so, you may be interested in checking out Inner Relationship Focusing (1 2 3) and Internal Family Systems; what you describe here sounds very similar to them. They're basically detailed techniques for doing the kind of work you describe having done instinctively. (The "distinctive feel of an emotion" sounds like what Focusing usually calls a "felt sense".)

u/Paradoxiumm · 5 pointsr/streamentry

Shift into Freedom by Loch Kelly is fantastic, he was authorized to teach it by Mingyur Rinpoche and is able to describe seemingly difficult concepts in clear language. The book has tons of techniques and maps out a clear path. I initially heard of him from a Daniel Ingram and he seems to be a fan.

u/AlexCoventry · 2 pointsr/streamentry

The nice thing about metta meditation is that it creates its own discipline. It feels good, so you want to do more of it.

I would steer clear of compassion meditation, for now. It's not really a beginner's practice, usually.

You might take a look at The Mindful Way Through Depression. I dont' know how well its scientific claims have stood the test of time, but there's good advice in there.

u/nothingeasy76 · 2 pointsr/streamentry

For people that already have a daoist energy practice, I highly recommend reading Damo Mitchell's A Comprehensive Guide to Daoist Nei Gong. It is by far the most comprehensive text I've seen so far

There's also a section within it where it goes in depth with zhan zhuang/the wuji posture and highlights important pieces and theory, which I think most other texts don't bother to explain

u/ReferenceEntity · 17 pointsr/streamentry

It feels like a lot of us are struggling with this right now, with curiosity about Tataryn's stuff but unwillingness to spend hundreds of dollars to test it out. Hopefully he will develop a bit more affordable content in the next few years. (Do we have time to wait?)

I'm thinking about buying The Power of Focusing which I read here or on the TMI subreddit is a better update to the Gendlin book. But I haven't gotten around to it.

I talked to my therapist about this. She asks why I'm looking to do something on my own rather than working with her. She is probably right.

In the meantime I'm spending a lot of my time on the cushion doing body scans on the chest and time off the cushion trying not to run from feelings.

u/fithacc · 7 pointsr/streamentry

Practice has been pulling me into the roots of my fears, the burdens i'm carrying on my shoulders, and the sadness that is integrated in this. I'm not going to lie it's pretty hard facing this, especially during finals season. Metta is teaching me a lot of things, although its not possible to say ive permanently learned anything :P

I am attempting to read "Lovingkindness" by Sharon Salzberg. And prev touched on "Science of Enlightenment" by Shinzen Young, didn't finish it as the need to focus on metta arised.

sigh.. well, im thankful i was able to see even momentarily these burdens im carrying are just something in the possible future. the reality is, right now i have power in the present moment. i hope i remember this.

thank you for reading this far! Wishing myself, you and all beings happiness <3

u/shargrol · 6 pointsr/streamentry

/u/sunmusings, you might be interested in the book: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing

u/hlinha · 1 pointr/streamentry

>Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha - takes you to the 2nd edition online site....

No it doesn't, this link takes you to The user then has to find another link there to the actual 2nd edition online site: Why not link directly to the free online book website?

> I see this takes you to about a paperback of the 1st edition. As far as I know there is no print edition of the 2nd edition.

It says that there's a print version right there at the website you are linking to:

>MCTB2, which was published in July, 2018, available in print from from standard booksellers and from my kind publisher, Aeon books,


Hope it's clearer now!

u/Zhuo_Ming-Dao · 3 pointsr/streamentry

Even better, the book is now available for pre-order:

Amazon - MCTB2

u/KagakuNinja · 3 pointsr/streamentry

I recommend Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation.

A central claim of the book is that the original practices of the brahamaviharas did not use the standard formulas of modern metta practice.

u/flyingneko · 3 pointsr/streamentry

There aren't many good sources unfortunately, I have basically created my own set of techniques. The book by Holecek is not bad, but it is not the way I practiced it, really:

u/BBBalls · 3 pointsr/streamentry

Metta meditation doesn't necessarily have to be an internal dialogue. Bhikkhu Analayo talks how the typical metta exercises didn't work for him. He has made references to how he practices metta in some of his talks. Roughly, it is generating the feeling of goodwill in the body, and then using it as the mediation object. I have experimented with my understanding of his method when very agitated during meditation, and have found it useful. I presume he discusses the method in detail in Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation. Here is an excerpt from a talk where briefly talks about metta meditation: Alternative metta methods

u/aspen-glow · 5 pointsr/streamentry

Well, you would hyperventilate if your inhale were longer than your exhale. I don't think that's healthy for trauma survivors. For me, I definitely use breathwork / pranayam to help with anxiety and tension that are as a result of trauma. A simple breath is to inhale 5 counts, exhale 10 counts, repeating this. By making your exhale longer than your inhale, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and your vagus nerve, which is very calming for anxiety, stress, etc. Counter to this is a longer inhale and shorter exhale (hyperventilating), which stimulates your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), which would NOT be helpful for trauma survivors.

Because I have a tendency toward anxiety from my childhood abuse, pranayam and meditation have been life-changing in giving me the tools to both observe emotion when it arises, and allow my breath to carry the emotion through to its end (ie, until the emotion transforms and changes, as it inevitably does).

You may find the book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness to be good, as well as a book on yogic pranayam.

u/theelevenses · 9 pointsr/streamentry

This is a powerful and important lesson. I personally can identify deeply with your experience. I am still recovering from meditative burn out related to trauma.

I do feel like the pragmatic community in general does not have a big enough discussion surrounding trauma. On many retreats, I was met with a quizzical look when I explained the feelings that I was having and told to just apply the method and things would work out.

Eventually, the method brought me to the same purgatory that you describe. I've gotta be honest and say that the purgatory sure felt like hell to me.

It wasn't until I hit a pretty dark place that I found Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness. After reading the experiences described in the book I reached out to David and he connected me with Willoughby Britton. Both the book and Willoughby helped me put my meditative experiences into a context that helped me get out of that hellish place.

A big lesson for me is that in order to reach a state of no self you have to have some respect and compassion for your sense of self to begin with. Often, the way trauma robs you of your feeling of inherent value is incompatible with the methods the pragmatic community prescribes for resolving these issues. Books like TMI and MCTB (which I love) often have this do x and y will happen approach to things but I personally remember feeling like a failure because I couldn't follow the most basic of these math-like instructions.

I'm going to piggy back on your post to say to anyone going through a similar experience that you are not alone. If the path gets so difficult that your day to day life becomes unbearable considering how trauma fits into your narrative might be important and necessary.

Also, note to the mods, I vote that you guys add some resources related to trauma to the r/streamentry beginners guide and reading list. I have been checked out of the sub since I have gone through all of this but taking a cursory look I don't see anything related to trauma in the guide. Please, ignore this request if I missed something.

Many thanks for what you have written here and much Metta.