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Water skiing
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2/3/12 9:25 AM
I've been meditating now for about 3 weeks. Yesterday and today, over three consecutive zazen sessions, I've experienced a distinct, unmistakable change in the nature of my meditating experience. I'd be interested in any comments. I blogged about it in detail here, but here's a summary:

My practice so far is Soto Zen zazen and kinhin, but with a Mahasi Sayadaw squint, since I'm trying to note my breathing. For the first 18-ish days, I could split my experience into one of three "states"

1. Mindfully noting my breath. I'm useless at this -- I manage about 2 or maybe 3 in/out breaths before I move (involuntarily) to one of the other two states

2. Still noting my breath, but rapidly losing any kind of focus. I've tried counting to see how far I can get, and I've managed to reach between 15 or 20. But it's different from state 1. Although I'm noting, I'm aware that my attention is fading. I can notice me stopping noticing!

3. Utter daydreaming and following a train of thought. I only notice this after some time, at which point I push back to 1. But I reckon this makes up between 70% and 95% of my practice time (the difference being made up of an increasing amount of 2).

Until yesterday morning. Then there was a new state:

4. Tightly focused, very present, no distraction. Here are what I think may be important characteristics:

* Compared with the frustration of 2 and 3, 4 is pleasurable. My normal emotion has been "if it's like this forever, then it sucks", whereas the state 4 is "Wahay, this is cool"
* There is no day dreaming or getting lost in a train of thought. I'm just "in the moment"
* It is unmistakable. This is the most striking aspect. There's no doubt in my mind when I'm in state 4, and when I'm not. Yes, there's a transition point, and maybe the occasional hint that I may drop "out" of it again. But I'm either there or I'm not. Absolutely no question either way. The difference between 4 and everything else is vast.

As I describe in the blog, it feels like water skiing and after a lot of trying, I've finally managed to get up on my skis and skim over the surface. And following that analogy, even across the three days there has been a change. On the first day, I got up on the skis but almost sank back down again. By this morning I started to experiment, and realized I had control of it (staying up that is, not, so far, *getting up*).

RE: Water skiing
Answer
2/3/12 10:19 AM as a reply to Johnny Froth.
Have you read the Progress of Insight in MCTB? It sounds like you are potentially going through Mind & Body (your #1.), Cause & Effect (your #2/#3), Three Chars (your #2/#3), and getting into A&P Territory (your #4).

(Note: These are just preliminary suggestions. Take a look and see if those things match your experience.)

RE: Water skiing
Answer
2/3/12 11:57 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Have you read the Progress of Insight in MCTB?


Not yet. I'm only as far as the Five Spiritual Faculties. I'm reading fairly slowly because when I have to choose between reading and sitting, I've been pushing up the sit time. I guess that means things could happen but I won't know what they are emoticon

But I'm only three weeks into this stuff. I assumed I'd be sitting on my ass for a year or two before seeing anything worth remarking on, no?

RE: Water skiing
Answer
2/3/12 12:26 PM as a reply to Johnny Froth.
Johnny Froth:
Not yet. I'm only as far as the Five Spiritual Faculties. I'm reading fairly slowly because when I have to choose between reading and sitting, I've been pushing up the sit time. I guess that means things could happen but I won't know what they are

I think it's not a bad choice to pick sitting over reading/theorizing/conceptualizing. Things happen regardless, and what helps them flow more smoothly/more clearly is sitting.

Johnny Froth:
But I'm only three weeks into this stuff. I assumed I'd be sitting on my ass for a year or two before seeing anything worth remarking on, no?

Guess you'll have to throw that assumption out as your own experience has already disproved it =P. It's just a matter of good instruction and good practice with good intention and good effort.

RE: Water skiing
Answer
3/9/12 7:03 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
It sounds like you are potentially going through Mind & Body (your #1.), Cause & Effect (your #2/#3), Three Chars (your #2/#3), and getting into A&P Territory (your #4).

He's not going through progress of insight yet. His state #4 is just stabilizing in mindfulness. In my opinion he's getting access to concentration. No insights yet