Mailbag: Dark Stuff Behind the Eyelids as Object

25 Responses

  1. Charles says:

    Thanks Edd!

    You’re right about many things.

    The solution for me is not to pick another object of meditation (such as the dark stuff behind the eyelids) but to actually put more effort and energy into mastering the breath. I already knew this in fact, but my lazy side thought there was an easier method…

    So I will keep working with the breath following the advice you posted here and in the article about generating piti+sukha.

    By the way when you mention the bridge of the nose in that other guide do you mean the middle or closer to the point between the eyes?

  2. Ram says:

    What do you think of a longer sit that’s not all concentration — for example, half an hour of mindfulness followed by half an hour of pure concentration? Do you think that would lead to progress, or just end up wasting time in the same way that you’re talking about above?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I think using extra time for mindfulness is never a bad idea. What you suggest above would probably be a good warm-up for concentration, and I’ve recommended that system elsewhere on this blog. The benefit of the mindfulness session is that it calms the mind and deals with most of the “thoughts” problem before going for the jhana attempt.

      Also, if someone just went straight for jhana when first sitting, and burned out after 20 minutes, they could spend the rest of the hour just practising mindfulness. It doesn’t hurt, and there are other types of awareness that are trained by such practice, e.g. body awareness. I think time spent meditating is generally good provided you decide what it is you’re doing with the time and aren’t just spinning your wheels.

  3. James says:

    I always enjoy the mailbags, you seem to get better at explaining things simply each time, and hearing things told with the same meaning just slightly different ways helps in understanding and clarity.

  4. Edenist Whackjob says:

    Illumi, as you know, I inhabit a more Christian reality-tunnel.

    Whenever* I say the Lord’s Prayer, I get these crazy shivers of some kind of subtle joy throughout my body. I guess the technical term is frissoning.

    Is that something that could be used for jhana? I think I’ve been in access concentration a few times, but I’ve never gotten those pleasure waves that are supposed to come. Except when doing Christian prayer, as I said.


    * It’s close to 100% these days.

    • Edenist Whackjob says:

      Oh, and another thing: I see blue energy in the air from time to time. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can see a blue dot, and sometimes there’s even some movie going on inside the dot.

      Third eye?

      One more thing: I can kind of will the blue energy to appear by concentrating.

      • Illuminatus says:

        Blue is usually associated with the throat chakra:

        If you can generate the blue energy at will then that should be a relatively straightforward path to jhana: just generate and hold the blue dot/energy as a continuous, coherent phenomenon (object). You don’t even need to do much else, if you can do that. Just will and hold the object. The nice feelings should start to arise fairly soon, and that is access concentration. Then there is a noticeable “drop” to jhana.

        Just focus on maintaining the blue dot, and the rest tends to sort itself out. When the blue dot then appears to generate ITSELF — i.e. it’s just “there” — then that is second jhana. That’s pretty freaky, and awesome, when it happens.

        I do this exact meditation every day but using a vertical upward stream of kundalini. So, when the vertical upward stream appears to just run completely of its own accord, I know I am in second jhana. Then I just absorb more into that illusion for third and fourth. On a good day I can reach fourth jhana in under a minute. These visual/energy jhanas are really useful and straightforward, if you can generate them.

        • Edenist Whackjob says:

          I also notice that reality gets a bit crazy when that blue dot is active. Same for you? Seems to give a +5 bonus to synchronicities.

        • Edenist Whackjob says:

          To be honest, it’s more indigo-blue than blue.

          • Ram says:

            Edenist, when you see the blue, what is it like? Is it similar to the colored phosphenes you see when you close your eyes? Or is it a totally different experience?

            Sometimes, when I’m meditating, I’ll notice that one of those patches of color behind my eyes is a purple circle, which I sometimes think is just a mundane phenomenon and sometimes think as to do with my ajña chakra. I’m wondering now if that’s similar to the “blue energy” that you’re talking about here.

            • Illuminatus says:

              Here are videos of commonly seen phenomenon while meditating and simply relaxing with eyes closed:

              If the blue dot or anything else resembles something from those videos, it’s basically mundane and nothing to do with jhana. I get a lot of emails asking whether those sorts of closed-eye visuals are jhana and they’re not.

            • Edenist Whackjob says:

              It’s like energy in the air. A small cloud of electricity. Sometimes more like a LED light. It looks half-real, half like some visual artifact. Once saw it a a tunnel of blue smoke going from my forehead and forward.

              When behind the eyelids, it’s more focused.

    • Illuminatus says:

      You could only use those shivers for a jhana if you were able to generate them in continuous flowing waves.

      Those shivers could be considered kundalini events. In Christian meditation kundalini is known as “Christ consciousness” so maybe you could look that up and play around with that if it’s more in line with your existing reality tunnel.

      • Edenist Whackjob says:

        “You could only use those shivers for a jhana if you were able to generate them in continuous flowing waves.”

        It does happen like that, when I am praying. The trick is to keep them going, I guess!

      • Edenist Whackjob says:

        Thanks re the tip! I’ll look into that.

  5. Ram says:

    You mentioned in the past that when you started doing the Shinzen Young mindfulness meditation, you were also applying it all the time. Were you going around noting all day long, then, whatever else you were doing? And did that help you develop mindfulness and insight? And one more question — were you noting and labeling every sensation you had, physical, mental, or emotional?

    My goal is to reach the deepest possible concentration states and develop siddhis, and any insight I achieve, including stream entry, I basically want to turn toward that goal. I’ve been noting as continuously as I could manage for weeks now, and I can’t tell if it’s really helping me develop mindfulness or improving my concentration at all. Do you have any tips on mindfulness in daily life that will help with detecting and blocking that thought energy during jhana practice?

    Thanks again for doing these posts. They’ve really helped me to get the bullshit out of my practice and figure out what really works.

    • Illuminatus says:

      I only ever use noting on complex emotional patterns of sensation. For example, during Fear I noticed that sensations run rapidly up my abdomen like dozens of silverfish. Also, in the visual perception, there is a regular rapid pounding disturbance which resembles the wave that can be seen if you watch a slowed-down video of a drum being hit. I noted those sensations in order to bring clarity to them, and so I could recognize and navigate the state better next time. I have similar notations for Misery, Disgust, etc.

      But walking around saying to yourself, “Sound. Smell. Warm. Fear.” etc.? Absolutely not. I think noting as a practice is totally overrated and irrelevant. You should be looking to get past the need to put sensations into words as soon as is humanly possible.

      Like I say, I only ever use noting to get deeper into complex sensation sets. And, after that, I no longer use the actual words. So, when I recognize the sensations of Fear now, I do not need to say the words in my head like “silverfish running up my abdomen” — I recognize the sensations in that way from the previous noting. This is the same way that if you walk outside and see a car, you do not need to say “car” in your head to recognize that it is a car. (At least, I hope you don’t!)

      Noting is good for the initial recognition of phenomena, but after that it is a waste of brain cycles. You should be able to “see-feel” events at finer and finer levels as you practise more and more. So, I have now refined those “silverfish” sensation packages down to even finer vibrations. At that level you cannot possibly “note” each sensation.

      Noting is real beginner stuff, in my opinion, working at the grossest level of reality. You can put a name on something like “car”, but you could not possibly put a name on each photon of light emitted from the object you are calling car. Even saying “blip blip blip” (which Daniel Ingram bizarrely recommends for noting at the level of individual sensations) is impossible when there are a thousand such sensations entering awareness each second — instead you can just FEEL those sensations hitting awareness! Visual and feeling modalities are far higher “bandwidth” than auditory-conceptual (i.e. saying words in your head to package phenomena). The whole idea of packaging reality into words in meditation shows how left-brain we have become. I consider it a step backwards for the most part. And during deep jhana you should basically have zero verbal thought. Phenomena are see-felt. So, vibration level.

  6. Ram says:

    Yeah, I figured that kind of verbal activity wouldn’t really be your style. 🙂

    So, earlier, when you first introduced the Shinzen Young style of mindfulness (I don’t remember which post it was) you said something like, “the instruction was to greet every sensation with mindfulness and equanimity, and I understood that to mean ‘all the time.'” What did you mean by that? Are you referring to just always having a little witness in the back of your mind, seeing everything that’s going on? Or just having the idea of mindfulness in the back of your head at all times? I get a strong feeling when I’m meditating that it would be a lot easier if I can maintain a certain kind of awareness all day long, but the closest I can find to a tech that will accomplish that is the weird and artificial DhO verbal noting practice, but I’m sure there’s something better I can use.

    • Illuminatus says:

      It was a pretty interesting path I took into all of this.

      I already had moment-to-moment mindfulness established for about a year at that point, after seeing a David DeAngelo presentation with a guy called Dr Paul who recommended a mental process called “observing ego”. So this was thoughts watching thoughts. After a couple of days practising this, I couldn’t turn it off. It massively broke the flow of everyday life, but started bringing millions of streams of consciousness into awareness.

      I got into meditation out of necessity after that, since the mindfulness was revealing more and more ways I was sabotaging myself constantly. I bought a book recommended by people in the PUA community called The Presence Process by Michael Brown, which introduced me to sitting practice. I don’t think much about his recommended practice in retrospect since it involves investigating negative emotions (good) but doesn’t provide a system for turning on the reward circuit to start negating them (bad). However, after I started extending his recommended sitting times of 15 minutes (bad) to 30 minutes (good) I found I would get a very calm mind and start experiencing mild pleasure which is basically a soft jhana state.

      I then switched to Shinzen Young’s Science of Enlightenment audio books, which was a recommendation from Ross Jeffries. He did not talk about jhana specifically and instead recommended greeting every experience with mindfulness and equanimity. I already had the mindfulness; the equanimity became the challenge. I found that I could tweak my mind for many experiences to negate the bad sensations, but that this took a lot of concentration. One day in sitting practice I concentrated so hard on the process of trying to maintain that equanimous state that I fell into a hard first jhana which lasted, I recall, about 15 minutes that first time. At this point I had started to put together the processes that I described in the above blog post, namely that there was a “concentration muscle” which could be used to negate negative thought and perception energies. I could still only get the jhana state about once a month though, even with regular practice. I had no idea it was jhana.

      At this point however I discovered MDMA which I found did everything I wanted at that time, and got sidetracked into a life of drugs which ended up taking about 5 years of my life to play out. I continued meditating as well but my attention was split between practice and taking drug shortcuts to the states I wanted.

      Finally I discovered Daniel Ingram’s MCTB and was able to put my various meditative — and drug — experiences into the context of The Path. What I had been doing with the Shinzen Young approach (well, my own interpretation of it, whether that’s “right” or “wrong”) was a combined concentration and insight practice. I do not believe the two approaches are inherently split. Concentration provides the reward circuit activation required to negate the dysphoria caused by recognizing suffering. Concentration also allows a finer resolution of the sensations that make up reality (and suffering). You CAN split up concentration and insight if you want (like Daniel Ingram does) but this would only be for special purposes, e.g. attaining higher jhanas or better understanding the Stages of Insight. However, the separation is illusory in my opinion, since both types of work are being done all the time in practice.

      My model of meditation and how it works is as follows. For meditation to work, you need two things: 1) A way of noticing suffering, and 2) A way to negate that suffering. I believe meditation works by wiring negative affect to the reward circuit. Pain plus pleasure equals EQUANIMITY.
      So, in Shinzen Young’s method, mindfulness achieves #1 and “equanimity” achieves #2.

      So, to answer your question, I was walking around being constantly mindful of how objects and events, people and situations, made me feel (suffering). Simultaneously, I was looking for ways to negate that suffering internally. Most of PPM and my PUA community writings can be summed up as me cooking up methods to negate suffering. Most of them were junk. However the one that’s been with me from almost the start was concentration methods, and front-back brain suppression. This can be abbreviated “jhana”. Some drugs can be wonderful for this, too, but they cause so many of their own problems (tolerance being a main one) that you HAVE to figure out how to do it yourself, with your own mind.

  7. Edenist Whackjob says:

    Illumi, is manifestation getting easier for you since Trump won?

    If so, any theories as to why?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I have not been manifesting anything since Trump won. I’ve been looking at apartments to move into using my winnings, and now I’m planning the next phase of my life. When I have set course, then I will manifest everything I want and let it unfold over time. 🙂

  8. Moviestar says:

    Edd, I’d love it if you took DMT and made a report about it and how you would connect the experience to jhanas. (I would then know what you’re writing about exactly haha)
    For someone that has meditated for years without results, DMT could be a great aid. It shows you the goal instead of trying to figure it out from written descriptions.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Haha, I’m not sure DMT is “the goal” of meditation. But it probably plays a role in the hard, hard “off world” jhanas.

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