Question on how to proceed once in deep silence

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Peter W 4 weeks ago.

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    Peter W

    I just finished reading TMI and I believe I fluctuate between stages 5 and 7. Stage 5 when I have a poor session (e.g. when I’m tired, ate too much, or just have a lot going on). Stage 7 when I have a good session. In 2017, I sat relatively consistently for an hour each day. Since 2018 after a Goenka retreat early Jan, I’ve been sitting an hour in the morning and in the evening. On the weekends if I have time, I’ll sit three to four hours spaced out throughout the day. Off the cushion I try to practice noting or mindfulness.

    My question is pertaining to an on the cushion state. I’m not too sure what it is, but I’m guessing it’s “access concentration” or a subtle “unification of the mind”. But essentially, I enter a noticeable state that’s relatively deep in silence, like I fell into a pocket of silence. There’s not much joy or bliss, but there’s equanimity and tranquility. There are still some sporadic one to three word thoughts that arise, but they are in the background while the deep silence takes the foreground. I can consistently get to this state, I just don’t know what to do next while I’m in it. I do experience many subtle vibrations and pulses in my brain and body which I just observe.

    Do I just keep abiding in this silence(choice-less awareness) or should I actively pursue scanning my body? I’ve unsuccessfully attempted the 1st jhana a few times. Should I stick to one of these objectives? I’ve actually been doing all three in one session, switching from choice-less awareness, scanning, and attempting jhana. My short-term goal is to develop possibility for insight.


    Darlene T

    Hello Peter,

    I am curious…what has brought you to determine you are not in 1st Jhana? Secondly, do you recognize “whole body breathing” while experiencing the subtle vibrations and pulses? This could be considered a body bliss or piti…moving into “sukkha” or mind bliss…You are doing marvellously in practice…and I suggest continuing as you are; being even more aware of subtle bodily contractions and fleeting mental formations, and wanting to “do” (which is perhaps a sign of contraction and formation) …and allow them all to open into the developing pliancy…attention resting as gently as a butterfly upon a flower.

    Teacher in training


    Peter W

    Hi Darlene,

    Not sure. My impression of 1st jhana was blissing out in ecstasy. I read that the physical bliss is overwhelming, difficult to miss and difficult to sustain. The closest I’ve felt anything like that is when the area between my eyes flashes and pulses with white light. There’s subtle joy, but not flooding in joy or happiness. Perhaps I have a misconception of the first jhana. I plan to read Jack Kornfield’s book on jhanas soon.

    I’m not familiar with “whole body breathing”. I do recall Goenka mentioning being able to sweep/scan the whole body in one breath. Don’t think I’ve experienced that yet.

    Sounds like I should just carry on with my practice. I like that, “attention resting as gently as a butterfly upon a flower”. In that deep silent state, it feels a bit dense/heavy, maybe I’ll ease off concentration a bit.

    Really appreciate your advice, Thanks!


    Blake Barton

    Hi Peter,

    You say that you enter a state that is “relatively deep in silence, like I fell into a pocket of silence.” This could be a state of dullness. Do you still notice the breath sensations very clearly? How many sensations do you notice on the inhale and exhale. Do you still have clear peripheral awareness? Do you have exclusive attention on the meditation object, for the most part?

    Even though we can fall into certain states, we generally want to continue the practices for the stage in which we are practicing. You can just let this silence be in peripheral awareness. This will give you the best chance of developing insight.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher


    Peter W

    Yes my breath sensations are still clear as is my peripheral awareness. I’m fairly mindful in that state. That sounds good, to let the silence be in peripheral awareness. Someone else also mentioned to me to sit in it, observe it, or even inquire it. =)

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