Stage 3 question .. Please help!

Front Page Forums Meditation Stage 3 question .. Please help!

This topic contains 23 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  B Arnold 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #2537

    Prashant
    Member

    Hello,

    I would like to thank you for making me a part of this forum. I have been practicing and reading the Mind Illuminated from a couple of months. I would like to ask 2 questions that have been plaguing me from a technical aspect. If you could shed some light it would immensely help me!

    Question 1

    I am getting confused by this statement in Stage 3 – Attention trains peripheral Awareness to know which things are important. In this case, if you take an attentive interest in what’s happening in your mind, in particular whether or not gross distraction is present, you are training awareness to alert you to their presence. What does this really mean?

    Breaking it down from what I understand:
    When we pay attention to something (e.g gross distraction here), subminds consider them as important so they can alert attention of their presence. So in the future when a Sub mind see that that there is a gross distraction present, it automatically projects moment of introspective awareness (“ hey you are in a state of gross distraction”) with an intention for that to become object of attention (alerts you to the presence). So in reality we are using attention to train the submind. Is this what you mean by “attention trains awareness (submind)”? or is it completely different?

    Question2:

    Checking in and Labelling strengthens Introspective awareness. Does this mean that the subminds are projecting more moments of Instrospective awareness in consciousness? Also,how does checking in strengthen awareness? I understand it helps to train awareness.

    Thanks
    -Prashant

    #2538

    Becky C
    Member

    Prashant,
    So glad you asked, this is right where i am in training also. I am not a teacher in training or anything. And i really have no idea the answer to your questions, but it got me to go back and read and practice so i thank u!

    “Also,how does checking in strengthen awareness? So when i just did the checking in, my attention started staying on the breath because it knew awareness was coming to check on it and it was easier to just stay on the breathe than get caught by awareness and have to go back anyway. Facsinating!

    Looking forward to what others understanding is especually about submind questions.

    Hope your day is good. Happy learning!

    #2543

    Frederic
    Member

    Hi,

    I’m not sure I understand your questions and how it plagues you.

    Do you want to understand how does it work? Or what to do in your practice?

    #2544

    Prashant
    Member

    Hi Fredric,

    Yes I want to understand how the process of checking in works from a mind system model. And also want to understand the meaning of the sentence” attention trains and strengthens introspective awareness”.

    Question 1. – does the statement mean attention trains the submind? Is this what you mean by “attention trains awareness ”? Does “awareness” refer to sub minds here?

    Question 2 – Checking in and Labelling “strengthens” Introspective awareness. Does strengthening mean that the subminds will project more moments of Instrospective awareness in consciousness? Also,how does checking in strengthen awareness from mind system model.

    Thoughts?

    -Prashant

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by  Prashant.
    #2546

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    Hi Prashant,

    With the checking in process you are using introspective attention to check in on the activities and state of the mind. If we continually pay attention to certain things the sub-minds are more likely to project them into awareness and then into attention in the future. For example, if we continually pay attention to birds the mind system is given the feedback that birds are important, and it makes it more likely that birds will become objects of awareness and then of attention in the future. Please remember that anytime anything stands out from awareness it means that our attention has actually alternated to it.

    We use introspective attention to indicate to our sub-minds that knowing the activities and state of our mind is important. As we continue to do this, the activities of mind will be more likely to be projected into awareness. In this case, we call it introspective peripheral awareness. At first, these objects in awareness will probably also become objects of attention. As you progress in your practice they will start to stay in awareness more, and not necessarily become objects of attention.

    Yes, I think you could say that strengthening introspective awareness means that you will have more moments of consciousness directed towards introspective awareness.

    I hope this helps,

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher

    #2547

    Prashant
    Member

    Thank you so much Blake for the kind explanation.

    If you could confirm or shed light on the following assessment I would appreciate it:

    Taking your example of birds – If I pay attention to birds it will increase my awareness of birds.

    If I pay attention to a certain bird then the sub mind will alert me to that bird via introspective awareness.

    In the same way –

    If I pay attention to activities of the mind, I will become more aware of the activities of the mind.

    But, If I also pay attention to the fact that a gross distraction is present, then when the submind sees the gross distraction it will alert my attention to it in the future.

    Finally, on a side note, from what I understand is that when awareness alerts you of something, it is actually projecting a moment of awareness with an intention for that object to become object of attention. E.g Spontaneous Introspective awareness alerts you to mind wandering. Hope it makes sense.

    Appreciate all your guidance and help!

    -Prashant

    #2552

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    Hi Prashant,

    If you were to pay visual attention to a certain bird in a tree, the following happens in order for the bird to become an object of attention. The sub-mind that processes visual stimuli notices the bird. This image of the bird then becomes an object of extrospective awareness. It then stands out from extrospective awareness, and becomes an object of attention.

    At first you notice activities of mind through checking in with attention. You are showing the sub-minds that activities of the mind are important to notice. After a while you start to have awareness of the activities of the mind while your attention is on the breath. This introspective awareness of the mind allows you to know when attention is starting to move to a distraction.

    The following statement is a bit difficult to decipher, because I am not exactly sure if you are using attention in the way it is defined in TMI.

    “But, If I also pay attention to the fact that a gross distraction is present, then when the submind sees the gross distraction it will alert my attention to it in the future.”

    As you gain more introspective awareness you will become aware of gross distractions sooner, before they lead to forgetting, and you can redirect your attention back to your meditation object.

    For your final side note, I would say it like this. The sensory sub-mind projects an object into peripheral awareness. These moments of peripheral awareness carry an intention for the objects to become objects of attention. If the associated intention is strong enough, attention will spontaneously shift to the object.

    Blake

    #2555

    Prashant
    Member

    Hi Blake ,

    Your explanation totally makes sense and clarified most of my issues.

    In reference to my final note, I Just want to understand mechanics behind awareness acting as an “ watchful alert system” from a moment of consciousness model. Would you be able to explain this from using an example when awareness alerts you to gross distraction? How does it unfold from a moment of consciousness process?

    Thank so much for all your help!!!!

    -Prashant

    #2562

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    Hi Prashant,

    In the moments of consciouness model, presented in the fourth interlude, a moment of consciousness is either a moment of attention or a moment of awareness. These moments of attention and awareness can either be external (extrospective), consisting of sights, sounds, or body sensations, or internal to the mind (introspective) consisting of thoughts or activities of the mind.

    When you notice a distraction, that means that you have had at least one moment of attention with that distraction as an object. If you also have introspective awareness, you will have a moment of introspective awareness that knows that your attention moved from the breath to the distraction. Once you know that your attention has shifted, you can direct it back to the meditation object. Please remember that the difference between a subtle distraction and a gross distractions is how many mind moments of attention are directed to the distraction versus how many are directed to the meditation object.

    Blake

    #2568

    Prashant
    Member

    Thanks Blake for the explanation.

    From what I experienced so far I feel that when awareness alerts me that attention has moved from breath to distraction I know it only when that realization becomes an object of attention. Another real life example is that if I am crossing the road and my awareness picks up a car it immediately alerts my attention to the fact that a car is coming my way.

    But from what you said “ If you also have introspective awareness, you will have a moment of introspective awareness that knows that your attention moved from the breath to the distraction. Once you know that your attention has shifted, you can direct it back to the meditation object. “ This seems to be pure awareness. Awareness is not alerting attention.

    Am I doing something wrong here?

    -Prashant

    #2587

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    Hi Prashant

    In the earlier stages of practice, often, the way you are going to know peripheral awareness is when an object stands out and becomes an object of attention, and this is just fine. As your mind gets sharper and your attention gets more stable, you will start to be conscious of more things through awareness only without your attention actually alternating. In the earlier stages your attention may alternate to something, and you have a realization that it was in peripheral awareness before it became an object of attention. You might also have the experience of redirecting your attention back to your breath and realizing that the previous distraction is still in awareness.

    For the second part of your question. Awareness can trigger an action without involving attention. Have you ever knocked something off of a shelf or counter and caught it before you even realized that you knocked it off. Attention would be much too slow to catch it in time.

    These topics should become more clear as you progress through the stages, since they will become direct experiences and not just intellectual understanding. The mind model interludes become considerably more detailed as the book progresses, and they are more understandable as your practice progresses.

    Blake

    #2602

    Prashant
    Member

    Thanks Blake for the clear explaination.

    One last thing regarding checking in is that more often than not when I look internally in the mind with attention I don’t find anything. It’s blank. I don’t find any information on activity or stare of mind. Why would this happen? How do I correct it or am not I checking in properly?

    -Prashant

    #2614

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    When we pay attention to thoughts, they often stop for a while, and this is what you are experiencing when you check in. You actually want to pay attention to a snapshot of what was happening in the mind a few moments before you shifted attention. This information may still be lingering in working memory. If you don’t notice any mental activity or thoughts that is fine. This exercise is designed to train peripheral awareness to notice the activities of your mind.

    You might want to try a meditation using thoughts as the object. After your mind settles a bit on the breath, switch to thoughts as your object. Thoughts will appear as either self talk, or images arising on your mental screen. Noting can help with this practice, because thoughts can be so slippery. If self talk arises use the silent mental label ‘hear’ (because you are hearing the thought), and if an image arises use the mental label ‘see’. Let sounds, body sensations etc. be in the background. This exercise will help you get more accustomed to noticing thoughts.

    Blake

    #2618

    Prashant
    Member

    Thanks Blake.

    Is it safe to assume that the narrating mind produces the moments of attention with the activity and state of mind when we check in. Right? ? That’s why we can only notice a snapshot of what was happening in in the mind a few moments before I shifted attention.

    #2623

    Blake Barton
    Keymaster

    In the first interlude of the Mind Illuminated in the Normal Functions of Attention and Peripheral Awareness is states the following.

    “Attention can’t observe activities of the mind because its movements and abstracting of information from awareness are activities of the mind. In other words we cannot attend to attention
    When attention is focused on remembering, you can’t use attention to know you are remembering. But you can be aware that you are remembering … If you do turn your attention introspectively, it takes a ‘snapshot’ from peripheral awareness of your mental state right before you looked.”

    I think you could say that attention would be focused on this snapshot which is a binding moment of consciousness produced by the narrating mind.

    Blake

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