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TOPIC: Welcome!

Welcome! 18 Jan 2016 21:35 #102188

Hi everyone!

I'm currently working on using technology, particularly EEG neurofeedback, to try to increase the speed, efficacy, and adoption of enlightenment / realization practices.

My personal practice story is that I started in Theravada Buddhism in 2008. I was taught to get into jhana pretty quickly (Thanissaro Bhikkhu of Thai forest tradition) and had a major opening a few months later. When the afterglow of that wore off, my practice stagnated for awhile, until taking Jeffery Martin's Finder's course in 2014-2015. Got some good results from inquiry and direct pointing practices out of that, and a smaller scale opening resulted. Taking those practices to an extreme left me feeling somewhat disassociated, disembodied, and not highly functional. Getting back into jhana meditation brought me back into my body and has done a lot of good for my mind and concentration capacity. I've been focusing on the simultaneous jhana-vipassana path since.

Hoping to learn a lot from the wise people here!

Metta,
Winslow
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Welcome! 19 Jan 2016 12:57 #102204

Winslow Strong wrote:
Hi everyone!

I'm currently working on using technology, particularly EEG neurofeedback, to try to increase the speed, efficacy, and adoption of enlightenment / realization practices.

My personal practice story is that I started in Theravada Buddhism in 2008. I was taught to get into jhana pretty quickly (Thanissaro Bhikkhu of Thai forest tradition) and had a major opening a few months later. When the afterglow of that wore off, my practice stagnated for awhile, until taking Jeffery Martin's Finder's course in 2014-2015. Got some good results from inquiry and direct pointing practices out of that, and a smaller scale opening resulted. Taking those practices to an extreme left me feeling somewhat disassociated, disembodied, and not highly functional. Getting back into jhana meditation brought me back into my body and has done a lot of good for my mind and concentration capacity. I've been focusing on the simultaneous jhana-vipassana path since.

Hoping to learn a lot from the wise people here!

Metta,
Winslow

Welcome, Winslow!

I'm curious about what technology you're using for the EEG neurofeedback. Also, I'm wondering how the technology's feedback compares with what you learned via traditional methods. Does what the device says is concentration the same as what you learned on your own? What other states can the device notice and help you attain?
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Welcome! 21 Jan 2016 22:02 #102232

Hi Winslow, looking forward to hearing more about your practice. My daughter has been doing neurofeedback therapy for childhood trauma for several months (using the California-based EEG brand equipment). The results have been remarkable. The therapist who helped her learn to use the equipment told me a story. Some of the people involved in developing the equipment were in India and found a Tibetan regarded as a meditation master who agreed to try neurofeedback. They said on day 1 the lama said it seemed fine and he would try it again. On day 2 he reported having a breath through and a new understanding. You can imagine that I hope to be able to try it someday. I hope if you want to you might share some of your experience.
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Welcome! 01 May 2016 23:27 #103300

Hello all, and thanks to the moderators for starting this site and considering me.

I came across a link to your site on a day the dharma overground site appeared to be down. I am fairly new to meditative practice, but not a complete beginner; have done a total of 30 days' silent retreat, the longest period 10 days. Most of my practice has been anapana and Vipassana (Goenka tradition of Theravada Buddhism), although I am currently trialling a switch to Vipassana (mahasi). I have a keen interest in Dzogchen and Mahamudra concepts but no actual experience.

I am in my early 30s, and work in Australia as a doctor. Prior to medicine I studied neuroscience, and prior to my current disciplines (family and emergency medicine), I worked in psychiatry for two years. I am no buddhist, but have found various buddhist texts very useful. The writer/neuroscientist/philosopher Sam Harris has been hugely influential. I like his concept of non-dual experience as being the "bullseye" of spiritual practice, although I have little direct experience to corroborate this, and note many contemplative traditions do not emphasis it.

I like working with the fundamentals. I have found retreats to have been deeply revealing (and yes, life changing), and the fruits of regular practice do come to the fore in times of perceived crisis. Psychological suffering aside, the key motivating factor for my practice is investigating the nature of conscious experience, which I find truly fascinating.

Kind regards

Phineas
Last Edit: 01 May 2016 23:28 by Phineas.
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Welcome! 02 May 2016 01:26 #103301

Nice to meet you, Phineas. I'm also in Australia (Sydney). Not much of a pragmatic dharma scene over here (not that I identify with that term anymore personally...) Nick and Rod are the only two others I've come across (unless you count Actual Freedom's Richard).
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Welcome! 02 May 2016 07:11 #103303

Isn't Shaun from Oz too?

Welcome, Phineas...
Last Edit: 02 May 2016 07:12 by Tom Otvos.
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Welcome! 02 May 2016 09:37 #103305

Yep. :)

Hi Phineas. Welcome.
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Welcome! 02 May 2016 10:34 #103306

Hi Phineas! Welcome to AwakeNetwork.

Since you're doing Mahasi noting, here's a paper that might be of interest:Time Slices: What Is the Duration of a Percept?

Abstract
We experience the world as a seamless stream of percepts. However, intriguing illusions and recent experiments suggest that the world is not continuously translated into conscious perception. Instead, perception seems to operate in a discrete manner, just like movies appear continuous although they consist of discrete images. To explain how the temporal resolution of human vision can be fast compared to sluggish conscious perception, we propose a novel conceptual framework in which features of objects, such as their color, are quasi-continuously and unconsciously analyzed with high temporal resolution. Like other features, temporal features, such as duration, are coded as quantitative labels. When unconscious processing is “completed,” all features are simultaneously rendered conscious at discrete moments in time, sometimes even hundreds of milliseconds after stimuli were presented.
Last Edit: 02 May 2016 10:36 by Andy.
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Welcome! 02 May 2016 10:56 #103307

Good to have you on board. :)
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Welcome! 02 May 2016 18:13 #103308

Shaun Elstob wrote:
Yep. :)

Hi Phineas. Welcome.

Oh, I'd missed that somehow. There ya go! Where you based, Shaun?
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Welcome! 03 May 2016 07:44 #103309

every3rdthought wrote:
Shaun Elstob wrote:
Yep. :)

Hi Phineas. Welcome.

Oh, I'd missed that somehow. There ya go! Where you based, Shaun?

I'm in Queenscliff, two hours drive south of Melbourne.
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Welcome! 18 May 2016 05:50 #103410

Thanks for the warm welcomes!

Nice to know there are some fellow Aussies here.

Thanks for the article Andy, looks very interesting. Are you involved with perception research?

I finished up a 9-day Mahasi retreat a few days ago, will return to post a report in due course
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Welcome! 18 May 2016 10:40 #103415

Phineas wrote:
Thanks for the article Andy, looks very interesting. Are you involved with perception research?

Hi Phineas, good to see you back. I'm not involved in perception research, but am personally interested. I had simply seen that you'd been involved in both neuroscience and Mahasi noting and just threw that out there.
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Welcome! 03 Jun 2016 05:02 #103529

Hello fellow practitioners! :)

Thank you for accepting me as a part of this community. I'm excited to dive into the resources of this forum and to share notions and updates on my own practice and integrating it in everyday life.

I've been practicing for about three years now. My practice history consists of noting, different somatic meditations and some tibetan yogic practices. I've been lucky to learn this stuff from Antero, who's been a wonderful teacher. Right now my daily routine is guru yoga, tonglen, a short somatic/space meditation and then letting awareness do the inquiring (guided by some questions). Sometimes I still do noting as a second daily practice or with a partner.

Right now I'm interested in integrating the practice strongly with everyday life. One interest of mine is exploring the connection between a flow-state and the continuum of awareness and using my experience from both to deepen and strengthen each other. As a professional musician I have a lot of experience on flow-states and they seem to deepen as the meditation practice deepens and I see a lot of possibilities there for integration in all activities. I'll write a longer post on this subject soon! :)

I'm very happy to be here and meet you all! :)
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Welcome! 03 Jun 2016 06:52 #103533

Welcome, Kalle.
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Welcome! 09 Jun 2016 15:01 #103575

Hello everyone,

My name is Benoit. I've been practicing Vipassana since 1998, since 2000 in the Mahasi style. Most of my retreats in the past were with Bhante Khippapanno and Bhante Aggasami. For the last few years I've done my retreats alone in my basement. For the last year and a half or two I've been a student of Kenneth Folk.

Nice to be here.

Benoit
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Welcome! 10 Jun 2016 08:40 #103579

Welcome, Benoit!
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Welcome! 19 Aug 2016 14:21 #104086

Hello, my name is Johnny. I'm a 30-something guy living in London. I got into meditation, specifically MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy - not to be confused with MCTB!), after a severe bout of depression and anxiety. I had finally gave in to my stupid reluctances and started anti-depressants. Two weeks later I was cursing myself for not doing it sooner - I felt so much better, and a month later I felt perfectly fine and happy, but was aware that I couldn't stay on the pills forever, and needed a long-term strategy to make sure I didn't relapse into another bout of severe depression/anxiety when I stopped. A friend recommended the very popular Mindfulness by Mark Williams.

The book's completely scientific approach to meditation worked perfectly for me, and I started the 8 week course, not really sure what was going to happen. By week 8 I felt transformed. A huge amount of my hangups and insecurities had gone (or rather, were put into an easily manageable perspective). I finished my course of anti-depressants and was, as I'd hoped, absolutely fine. Better than fine. I became an absolute evangelist for MCBT. It changed me, and so changed my life. Whereas before I was easily offended, easily hurt, easily stressed, could easily become hung up on negative thoughts, etc. I was now able to see things in a much more mature light, and with the benefit of perspective. I enjoyed everything in my life more.

I basically became the positive, happy person I used to be when I was a kid. Everything in my life was better: Work, relationships, my sense of self. I started reading again. I started drawing again. It was wonderful.

And it didn't stop there. For me, meditation was the gift that kept giving. Just when I felt I'd learned something, or conquered something, I'd find a new insight or perspective which would help even more. It was, as you've probably guessed, amazing. I wanted to stay in that state forever.

Then one day, I was meditating on a bus on my way to meet friends, and there was a sudden explosion of pleasurable energy in my chest. I'd been focussing on my "heart chakra" (the place in my body where I feel peace and love) over the past through sessions, and that part of my chest just exploded. It was wonderful and I felt great afterwards. I remember I was going to see a play with friends, I spent the whole evening just absolutely blissed out by how wonderful the production was (they, to my disappointment, merely thought it was OK).

For the next few days, meditation was easy, intensely pleasurable, and immediately all encompassing. It was literally the best part of my day.

And then I started to worry about just how intense the feeling was. It hadn't been mentioned in the book I'd been following. According to that book I was just supposed to feel peaceful and relaxed from meditation. What the hell was this sudden energy? And why was I feeling less grounded after meditating? What did I do wrong? I remember, around that time, talking with a friend about meditation and just not being able to shut myself up. Maybe a bit "manic". I worried I was behaving oddly. Having nowhere to go, I tried to find some answers online but could only find things that made me feel worse. I just wanted a website somewhere to tell me "It's OK! It's a normal part of the meditation experience! Don't panic!". I was more and more sensitive. I could feel hard "stones" of pain moving up and down my chest that appeared to be connected to emotions. What the hell was that?! I couldn't handle reading the news or watching TV shows with "dark" content. I had to stop meditation (it was hard -- after the past few months it had become an essential part of my life) and slowly descended into what I now know as The Dark Night of the Soul.

Over the next two years, my "heart chakra" was dead. I felt empty. It was a long battle with feeling the world was devoid of anything good, and being unable to enjoy anything anymore. When I felt brave enough, I'd try and search again for my experiences online, to see if I could find a trustworthy source to help me understand what I was going through, but I'd invariably read something terrifying and be spun out for days afterwards. (I remember once finding a post on a Buddhist forum -- someone was experiencing energy while meditating -- and one of the members of that forum confidently explained that energy while meditating was dangerous, and that if the meditator wasn't careful it could shoot up their body and separate the two hemispheres of their brain, killing them instantly. It was ridiculous, but in my panicked state, it still spun me out.)

I eventually found Willoughby Britton and her research, and when I felt brave enough I emailed here, but I could still not find the message I needed to hear: "Don't worry! It's OK!" I just needed somebody, anybody to tell me that.

Eventually I found Ron Crouch (Aloha Dharma), and through a Skype conversation he began to explain the map of the Dark Night. This was all new to me. I still didn't immediately get the "don't panic - lots of people have gone through this" message I needed, but it was something, a big something, and it started my path to accepting the experience. Eventually I started to make some progress with feeling like my old self again, and after some time, I find myself here: Still not really meditating (a little bit of loving kindness), much more like my pre-meditation self again, probably having slid backwards out of the Dark Night, but feeling much better, and being able to talk about my experience without freaking out. I'm now very interested in getting over my remaining issues of fear in order to start meditating again in the future. I miss that wonderful period, although I'm (generally speaking) far from unhappy.

Thanks for reading. Be gentle :)
Last Edit: 25 Aug 2016 13:29 by Johnny W.
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Welcome! 19 Aug 2016 14:32 #104087

it sounds like you have a good perspective on everything. Your experience sounds typical.
In my simplistic way, I think the path forward for all meditators is to practice meeting your experience, getting to know every nook and cranny till the interesting air has all leaked out like a balloon going soft then flat. Then (but it's not clean and linear) the next thing is more noticeable, repeat the time and effort no matter what comes up, and that is progress. Meditation got you to where you are, and meditation will move you along. There are good folks here, ones with much more experience than I. Start a practice thread as a way to facilitate your awareness of what's happening, get a bit of good advise and you're good to go. :)
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Welcome! 19 Aug 2016 17:12 #104091

Hi Johnny - thanks for sharing your story!

Personally I have had a lot of experience with meditation and depression. The main initial things I'd say about doing any kind of work where you have or have had a history of depression is to make sure, as well as meditation or spiritual work, you're concurrently doing all the other 'right things' - psychotherapy, medication if needed, exercise, eating right, etc etc.

The "dark night" paradigm is useful when we have the question, "why has this really difficult stuff arisen through a spiritual practice that was meant to fix things," but I also wouldn't recommend gripping onto it too much as a "total" explanation of all that's happening - particularly when the difficult stuff was there before the practice ever started.

Hope not to make any assumptions in any of the above, I just think of my own journey!
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Welcome! 19 Aug 2016 18:48 #104094

Thanks for sharing Johnny. I've had an interesting journey with the intersection of bipolar disorder and insight meditation over the past couple years. Specifically, how the latter does improve my experience of the former, though not in predictable ways. I've also benefitted greatly from Ron Crouch's guidance. Let me know if you ever want to trade notes on any of the above.
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Welcome! 19 Aug 2016 21:41 #104095

Hi Johnny, I just want to add - Don't panic! Lots have people have experienced what you've experienced. It's a normal, well known part of the process of investigative meditation. Also, you're in the right place; in my experience, this is a wise, caring and very knowledgeable community of people amongst whom it's safe to explore your being.

Welcome.
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Welcome! 21 Aug 2016 20:16 #104113

Ha! Thanks Shaun :) And thanks for everyone else's comments, too.

@every3rdthought I'm sure everything in our inner lives overlaps, but I think I had a good handle on what was what. I think meditation has probably made me more aware than ever of my mental states, and if depression is arising. Definitely good advice to make sure you keep an eye on everything though, and make sure all issues are being dealt properly with if they appear.

Writing that long post, and reliving so much of that time in my head, was actually very cathartic. It left me feeling a little DNish, but I think I'm getting better at dealing with those feelings, and I actually woke up on Saturday feeling great. The best I have in a while, in fact. Not sure if it's related or not, but I'd like to think it helped me excise some residual fears of the whole experience, so thanks for letting me share all that :) Maybe I will start a practice thread...
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Welcome! 22 Aug 2016 12:24 #104120

Hello everyone,

I'm Philip, I work in IT in the UK. I've had a sort of fluctuating interest in meditation and Buddhism since university back in the late 70's. After a rather dark patch last year I started breath meditation for tranquillity and then progressed into mindfulness meditation. I ran across MCTB back in March and then found the Dho and then this network, which I've found tremendously useful. I started vipassana after reading MCTB and currently sit twice a day but try to keep the practice going during the day as well.

Philip
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Welcome! 22 Aug 2016 13:59 #104121

Welcome Johnny and Philip. Good to have you here!
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