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TOPIC: TMI related questions

TMI related questions 25 Jan 2018 08:20 #108392

I’m making a rather rash offer to field TMI related questions. I’ve just started in Culadasa’s teacher in training program. As part of that, I’d be happy to help find answers to TMI related questions. If I don’t know the answer, likely- especially at the beginning, I can take the question to the other teachers in training and to Culadasa and Matthew Immergut.

I started working with TMI as part of my practice a year ago. I’ve done two solo retreats with him at Cochise Stronghold and one group retreat with him as well as Blake Barton and Jeremy Graves. My most recent solo retreat was right after Shannon and Daniel's book was published and at the last minute turned into a TMI/ fire kasina retreat. I am working with Culadasa and Shannon Stein to continue to explore and write up supplemental material about applying TMI to the fire kasina as a meditation object.
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TMI related questions 25 Jan 2018 13:24 #108394

Thanks Elizabeth. I'm doing calm abiding right now, with the breath as the object (aka TMI). So I will let you know if I have any technique questions :)
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TMI related questions 27 Jan 2018 01:18 #108400

Hi Elizabeth

I've been meaning to ask about TMI and fire kasina on one of the forums for a while now, so would love to hear your thoughts on it! In the little I've played around with fire kasina, I've found trying to apply the TMI stage framework helpful. But, I'm not particularly confident I'm doing it right; especially as it seems I'm a stage or two ahead when compared with breath TMI.

I also seem to slip into using the breath as a 'mindfiller'/concentration aid when noting the flame/after image gets too clunky, and it feels really natural. I guess it works in the same way as stage 5/6 body scanning and full body breathing do to develop concentration?

Anyway, I suspect using these two approaches together could be really fruitful, and I'm really glad to hear you're planning on writing some material on this :-)
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TMI related questions 29 Jan 2018 07:40 #108408

Hi Paul,

I'd love to hear more about your experience with TMI and the fire kasina. Having more of us working with it will help sort out the differences. Some parts of this definitely seem faster or easier to me as well.

I also seem to slip into using the breath as a 'mindfiller'/concentration aid when noting the flame/after image gets too clunky, and it feels really natural. I guess it works in the same way as stage 5/6 body scanning and full body breathing do to develop concentration?
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Could you expand a bit on what you mean by mindfiller and the flame/after image gets too clunky? I'm guessing that your attention is on the flame / after image and the breath is in awareness? That definitely could work and going back and forth seems to make sense.

For me, especially on retreat, breath and bodily sensation were in awareness but usually fairly distantly - sort of way in the back ground, Attention was focused on the flame then the after image or at times some other specific feature - especially once the afterimage was gone and I was in the murk. The most prominent part of awareness was anything else in the visual field, gradations of color, shape, specks or threads, patterns - whatever was there. Sort of the way other things are in peripheral vision when I focus on an object with my eyes open. I tried to be aware of more of the peripheral field with my eyes closed even when there was an immediate after image or red dot.

At this point my guess is one of the TMI 'keys' will be working with both attention and awareness. What is in attention and awareness may matter less (and will likely vary over time and among meditators ) than being introspectively aware of both and increasing the detail of one then the other to sort of step up concentration.


My retreat overview is now up at firekasina.org
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TMI related questions 29 Jan 2018 15:40 #108414

Elizabeth wrote:
My retreat overview is now up at firekasina.org

Nice summary, Elizabeth.
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TMI related questions 30 Jan 2018 04:03 #108422

Hi Elizabeth

Great write up of your retreat!

If I’m just trying to focus on the fire kasina and not intentionally intermixing breath awareness as well, I’ve found using the TMI stages very helpful with gauging my concentration levels. I would quite literally replace the breath with the kasina, and use all the checks/techniques in stages 3-5 to keep on track regarding subtle/gross distractions and dullness. I would hazard a guess that, if it’s possible, being able to more clearly ‘overlay’ the stages of the kasina development onto these would be a huge help for people with no access to teachers.

So, something like… at stage 4 when there are periods of increasingly less gross distraction/dullness, the after image will move less, and the emerald outer edge around the image will become more distinct, and the flicking centre may begin to stabilise into a red/purple/black/whatever colour…
Is the progression of the kasina reliable enough to do this? Other issues to consider may be how you split/define the parameters of attention and awareness. Will it be purely visible stimuli, i.e., attention on the after image and peripheral awareness as the cloudy colour background. This may be a better way of focusing development in the early stages, as opposed to bringing in awareness of body and breath (which will presumably happen spontaneously and consistently in the later stages anyway?)

I definitely think attention develops much quicker and easier with the kasina when compared to breath TMI, but I don’t know how that translates to making a more holistic and enduring practise of awakening as I have little detailed and usable experience of the later stages or SE.

Yeah sorry, should have been clearer regarding the ‘mindfiller’ comment. In this instance, I’m using it in the same context that people would use noting or a mantra (I think, have never used the latter and only going from the kasina book) to help focus attention and limit distractions. So, say I’m concentrating on the flame/image and noting with the labels fire/colour/etc., I find that the breath will increasingly grow in awareness/alternating attention, and I will quite ‘naturally’ replace the labelling with an intentional awareness of the breath to help ‘fill’ the mindspace and increase overall mindpower and decrease space for distractions. I guess like the purpose of developing full body breathing in TMI stage 6?

Going back and forth, or intentionally switching which is in attention and awareness seems to really feed into each other, and, I suspect at least, would increase jhana-like sensations as well as boost attention and over metacognitive ability?

Unfortunately, I’m coming up against a significant practise bump/layer of the onion/past practise karma process that needs to be resolved, and that very much hinders my ability to explore this further as it’s very much related. I am very inclined to think that the best way of resolving this is via breath TMI.

Sorry my reply isn’t more structured and is a tad stream-of-consciousness, I don't have time to re-do it! I hope you can unpick my meaning?
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TMI related questions 30 Jan 2018 20:57 #108429

Hi Paul. Those are great questions and definitely the sort of things we are thinking about. Thanks! It will take me a bit of time to unpack them and then talk to Shannon and Culadasa and come up with even the start of answers.

In the mean time a follow up question. Are you working with the candle flame and the after image or are you hanging out in the murk for a while after the afterimage goes away and stays gone and working with that as well
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TMI related questions 31 Jan 2018 00:12 #108430

Very much looking forward to what you all come up with :-)

Play a very little in the murk, but almost always flame/image
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TMI related questions 31 Jan 2018 08:04 #108433

Is it possible to get Culadasa and Shannon to post here for themselves? That seems more efficient and I think we'd all gain something that way. No offense meant to you, Elizabeth, but getting the word from the original source would be nice.
Last Edit: 31 Jan 2018 08:06 by Chris Marti.
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TMI related questions 31 Jan 2018 10:01 #108435

I will ask. If not, it may be a mix of responses from them that I post, and jointly composed text. I will try to make it clear when a response is my speculation vs something from one of them or the three of us.
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TMI related questions 05 Feb 2018 10:02 #108455

Culadasa, Shannon and I are are treating this as work in progress, the three of us have many more questions than answers. We can share our experiences and perhaps tentative ideas of how it might work but it will take time and many more people working with TMI and the fire kasina to sort it out. We hope some of you might join us as co-adventurers and help us by sharing your experiences.

@Chris I did invite them to the thread. Forums are more my thing than theirs so most likely, I will be the one posting to the thread - sometimes on my own sometimes relaying joint answers or responses from them.

@ Paul thanks again there is a lot in your post for us to think about. here a couple of questions I wrote based on your post and my thoughts on them

In general do you just substitute the fire kasina as an object instead of the breath and continue to work with the stage specific suggestions to deal with distraction, dullness etc. ?

This is basically what I tried on retreat and am trying in daily practice. Taking it as sort of an experiment. Does it work the same way? Let’s find out. How do I adapt some of these suggestions to working with visual sensation instead of breath and body sensation? It would be great if you and others would try the experiment as well and report back.


How do you work with attention and awareness with the fire kasina.?


We don’t have answers to this yet but are talking about it a lot so I don’t have anything definitive yet. So this is what I did on retreat.

What I did is to focus attention on something in the visual field. I focused attention on a specific part of the visual field usually a relatively small portion. It might be the candle flame, then the after image / red dot and following sequence. It could also be some other part of the field for example colored area off to the side or the slightly darker part of the grey murk. Because the visuals changed the object of attention needed to change as well. I focused on the changing thing as it changed or finding a new one when it was gone. Sometimes I would purposely focus attention on something else in the visual field instead. That was sort of practice for what to do when the afterimage had faded.

Awareness contained a number of things most prominently the rest of the visual field. For example, with eyes closed and attention on the afterimage the rest of the visual background was in peripheral awareness and I and trying to be really aware of as much of that as I could, then ’sound’ the mantra and any environmental sounds then bodily sensation. I have tried varying that in sometimes having the breath and bodily sensation be more prominent than sound.
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TMI related questions 06 Feb 2018 03:21 #108458

Hi Elizabeth

I've been planning on ramping up my practice again to include evening sits as I generally hate them and dullness, so think they'll prove fruitful ground :-) I will experiment with alternating breath and kasina in the morning and evenings.

I may even try and log this on my practice log, but keeping one for any length of time hasn't been a strong point if mine!
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