Piti arising earlier in practice?

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Kim L Kim L 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #1904
    Profile photo of Kim L
    Kim L
    Member

    I have been praticing at stage 4 for quite a while now and seem to be experiencing what is described as meditative joy.

    My body starts swinging side to side, first gently but can quickly become pretty violent. Sometimes it twists violently and my arms want to flail around.
    I get a stupid grin on my face, my head pulls backwards often and stretches my throat. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I cough, sometimes I laugh, sometimes my body goes into a ‘breath of fire’ kind of hyperventilation but it feels very controlled, my belly pulls in rhythmically with the breath and it can become very fast sometimes. Then it suddenly stops, I breath in deeply en there is often a ‘moment of peace’ after where my body can just sit still and the inner turbulence has ceased for a bit.
    Sometimes there are feelings or emotions that are identifiable, but often it just seems to be energy.

    I also get it when doing walking meditation but I think because of the movement it doesn’t cause the bodily reactions. I’m walking in nature and I get this perpetual grin on my face and joy is coursing through me, sometimes I have to cry because of it. Because of the feeling of being so joyful just walking by myself, alone, in nature and feeling so connected.

    It get particularly “voilent” when I’m doing metta meditation, I can feel pretty intense feelings of joy and love doing that practice and my body gets a little violent because of it to the point that I can’t really focus anymore sometimes.

    I must say that I have been through some traumatic experiences not too long ago, I don’t know if this is related.

    This has been going on for months now.
    My practice is now 1 hour of sitting meditation in the morning, 20-40 minutes of metta in the evening and often 30-60 minutes of walking meditation.
    I have added mindful hatha yoga to my practice though I have not yet seen any impact of it on the bodily reactions in my meditation.

    I am just wondering if there is an explanation for this arising at this point in my practice and what it means. I also wonder if I should stick to the stage 4 instructions or do something else? I notice that when I start doing an active bodyscan, often the physical reactions die down a lot.

    • This topic was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Profile photo of Kim L Kim L.
    • This topic was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Profile photo of Kim L Kim L.
    #1907
    Profile photo of Blake Barton
    Blake Barton
    Member

    Hi Kim,

    I have had a similar experiences with the premature arising of piti, in stage 3 or 4. Culadasa explained this as a partial unification of mind. Different minds and bodies respond differently to the practice. Even though some of the sensations can be unpleasant, try to let go of the aversion as best you are able.

    One practice that has helped me is when these sensations start to arise let go of attention to the meditation object, and have the intention to notice any body sensations that occur prior to the movements. The effect may be similar to what you are noticing with the body scanning practice.

    I have also benefited from a spinal breathing pranayama exercise prior to meditation to smooth out the energy flow.

    http://www.aypsite.com/41.html

    I also recommend reviewing stages 7 and 8 in The Mind Illuminated for more information.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #1908
    Profile photo of Kim L
    Kim L
    Member

    Thank you Blake,

    I have read your link and will try the breathing before my next meditation session.
    The sensations begin in my lower belly and side body, going to them with my attention does not change the way my body reacts to it.
    Today doing a body scan also did nothing to lessen the bodily reactions so perhaps that was just incidental.

    I try to be equanimous towards the experience and most of the time its not really unpleasant. I was just wondering if it required another type of approach since piti usually arises in later stages of practice.

    #1911
    Profile photo of B Arnold
    B Arnold
    Member

    KIm,

    Are you sure you are still at stage 4? Do you still experience gross distractions/dullness ( though I realize the distractions question may be hard to answer, since the piti related phenomena can be so distracting!) Can you discern long breaths from short breaths?

    Best,

    Bobby (not a teacher)

    #1912
    Profile photo of Blake Barton
    Blake Barton
    Member

    Hi Kim,

    Does the piti arise when you do the preliminary practices such as present moment awareness, or when just being aware of body sensations, or does it only occur when you do practices where attention is more limited?

    One practice that has calmed the piti for me is to follow the breath but keep a more spacious awareness. More like using the breath as an anchor for attention but emphasizing peripheral awareness.

    You might also notice if you have any tension in your body when you meditate. I have seen a relationship between tension (particularly in the head and face) and the spontaneous movements. You could try letting go of tension on the exhales for a period of time.

    Another idea is just to persist in your practice, because the piti tends to calm itself over time.

    Hope this it helpful, and it would be beneficial for others if you let us know if any of these techniques work for you.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #1913
    Profile photo of Kim L
    Kim L
    Member

    Hi Bobby,

    I haven’t experienced strong dullness in quite a while, but I think the bodily movements and sensations that are occuring are stimulating enough for dullness to be kept at bay. I am still experiencing gross distractions though. Sometimes because of the ‘chaos’ I slip back to stage 3 where I forget the breath but a lot of days I can keep my attention on the breath with gross distractions sometimes taking me off but I never forget the breath. I can discern long from short breaths and my breath sensations often remain quite clear, (I can discern the some different sensations of the inn and outbreath) sometimes the movements of my body make me stop breathing for a while on which point I keep my attention at my nose but I start noticing the way the air moves across the outside of the nose as my body or my head swings from side to side.

    Hi Blake,

    I will try out your suggestion of focussing on the relaxation. But that is always something I focus a little on when I sit down. The piti actually seems to be arising when I start to really relax into my posture and body. Upon the relaxation I think the energies can allow the movement to start occuring. I always start moving gently first upon “relaxing into myself” before the stronger movements happen when I have focussed my attention for a little while.

    I always spend time to keep my periphiral awareness open as well as I used to have a very tight focus on the breath. I now practice keeping that focus with the least amount of effort as possible while I sometimes check in to make sure I am still feeling my body and hearing the sounds around me. Also when a gross distraction presents itself I make sure I don’t yank myself back to the breath but sort of fully allow the distraction to be there first, or ‘relaxing into it’ before returning.

    #1919
    Profile photo of Kim L
    Kim L
    Member

    Okay, I just wanted to add something to what I’m experiencing at the moment because I realized that there is a lot more going on with me.

    I have noticed that with the piti occuring in meditation I have also a great increase in overal energy throughout the day. So much so that sometimes I can’t sleep because of it. But the energy is quite.. unruly.. at the moment.

    So I really notice that my mind is not ‘one thing’ which is obvious, but is a conglomerate of different motives or energies with completely different ways of thinking attached to them. So now I notice that I can have very high energy in one direction and a specific set of thinking that is attached to the motivation in that direction, next moment I have energy pulling me in an opposite direction with a completely different way of thinking that is convincing me to pull in that direction now…

    I have become very aware of this occuring and I believe that is what is always taking place in all people and I have now become very aware of it in myself. But at the same time I think it is way more noticeable now because I just have way, way more energy pulling me in these different directions.

    So at the moment I am writing so many notes to myself to not forget my “purpose” or main goals I have now because I know that at a different moment another part of my mind will be in charge… I never did this before.

    #1920
    Profile photo of Blake Barton
    Blake Barton
    Member

    Hi Kim,

    There are times when the energy overloads can occur and it makes it difficult to function in daily life (like sleep). When the energy gets to be too much, you can try the following.

    1. Cut back on practice
    2. Get physical exercise. Long walks can be helpful
    3. Get grounded by doing something like gardening or physical labor.
    4. Try something like Thai Chi
    5. Eat a heavier diet.

    The Advance Yoga practices web site to which I referred you previously has a lot of good articles on dealing with energy overloads.

    It sounds like you are gaining some insight into the way your mind works, which can be very beneficial.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #1921
    Profile photo of Kim L
    Kim L
    Member

    Thank you Blake

    Some of those things I already do like a lot of physical exercise, long walks in nature, a protein rich diet, I often do a qigong or yoga routine before bed in order to sleep but it is not very successful as releasing the energy. I am reluctant to cut back on my practice though…

    I will look for the articles on that website you linked.

    Thanks again!

    #1922
    Profile photo of Kim L
    Kim L
    Member

    I have identified that the reluctance to back down on my practice a bit has to do with aversion and ego. So I resolve to give myself a little bit of a break sometimes. I’m not going to sit for an hour today but will do a little more walking meditation outside and some yoga and bodyscanning.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Profile photo of Kim L Kim L.
    #1925
    Profile photo of Blake Barton
    Blake Barton
    Member

    Hi Kim,

    I don’t really have much else to add. You may just have to keep experimenting and accepting until you find something that works. Meditation teacher Jack Kornfield tells a story of practicing in a monastery in Asia, and his arms started spontaneously flapping like a bird which went on for several days. After talking to his teacher he realized that he had a subtle aversion to this. When he let go of aversion the flapping stopped, and he had a very deep peaceful release.

    Yoga in moderation can definitely help, but I find that beyond a certain threshold yoga can be energizing and the energy flows can get stronger.

    It sounds like a good insight that you realize that the reluctance to back off on your practice is driven by ego.

    The advanced yoga practices can be very energizing, and one of the keys to this technique is learning to self pace. Once the energy gets to be too much, one backs off until things are more stable and manageable. After that things can be gradually increased.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #1926
    Profile photo of Kim L
    Kim L
    Member

    Thank you Blake for all of your responses.

    I will work on self pacing and take a breath sometimes before resuming the rat race for enlightenment 😉

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