Interview instructions - Dhammajiva
Reporting meditaion experience - Ănāpānasati
Most practitioners have certain experiences during breath meditation - Ănāpānasati. However they may find it difficult report these findings with accuracy during interview sessions. The examples given below may help the practitioner in that regard.
1. First, describe the origin of the primary object.
2. Thereafter, describe how you noted/labeled the primary object.
3. Finally what did you experience or feel during such noting?
For instance, the reporting could be in this manner:
‘When experiencing the in-breath I noted it as the ‘in-breath’. I felt the in-breath as cool air entering the right nostril and the out-breath as warm air leaving the left nostril. At certain times I notice that the in and out-breath enter and leave from the same nostril. The out-breath is warmer than the in-breath. And the out-breath is shorter than the in-breath. I notice these specific features when I focus my attention keenly on the breath’
4. How long can you observe the primary object without interruption? During this period of observation for how long can you retain focused attention on the in and out-breath.
I noticed the out-breath after the completion of the in-breath. I was able to retain my attention on the in and out-breath only for a short while. Thereafter thoughts flooded my mind. However, there were occasions when I was able to retain my attention on 20-30 breaths without interruption. But thereafter, once again thoughts invaded my mind.
It is important that you describe the primary object clearly, precisely and accurately. The description needs to be absolutely honest in relation to one’s personal experience.
If the practitioner has other experiences to share, this should be done only after completing the description of the primary object. Description of such secondary objects should have been experienced during the sitting meditation sessions.
5. If during a sitting meditation session, the yogi has additional experiences it is advisable to report these in the following manner:
‘I feel bodily pains. The pain increases in intensity and then decreases. Sometimes the pain radiates to the back or to the soles of the feet. I sometimes feel chills and coldness or sometimes heat. Electric currents radiate from head to toe. I have good samādhi, but at times thoughts invade the mind, and I get ideas, I make plans and projections.’
If you experience irritation, aversion or greed, elation or feel jealous and conceit or any such mental experiences, please report these accurately to the teacher. These mental states if experienced, should be reported in the following manner:
- When a mental state (eg, aversion/greed) is experienced, state how did it manifest?
- What was the yogi’s response/reaction (noting) to that experience?
- What was your understanding of such an experience?
- Were there any consequences to that experience?
- What were your experiences after the episode?
If the mind leaves the primary object due to a bodily pain:
- I experienced pain in the knee
- The exact location of the pain in the knee was…
- The pain was stabbing, piercing, throbbing
- Initially it was mild but gradually it increased in severity
- I noted the pain as ’pain’.
- Gradually it became less painful and more bearable and eventually ceased to disturb me I reverted my attention to the primary object.
- Or the pain was increasing and noted continuously.
- Then again the mind left the primary object. Then I contemplated on the shift of my attention and after a short while the mind came back to the primary object.
- This became a cycle of repetition
During walking meditation the reporting should be as follows:
When lifting the leg, contemplate as, ‘lifting lifting’. Then whilst moving and placing theleg, ‘lifting, moving, placing” should be contemplated.The yogi will then note the beginning, middle and end of the movement of the leg as an arc. After about 10-15 steps or less/more, the yogi will notice that the mind has left the walking process and has diverted to external thoughts, sounds or sights. Please mention the distractions that shifted the mind from the primary object.
- ‘I noticed the mind leaving the focus on the feet.
- I contemplated that the mind has done so and gone to thoughts
- I noticed when contemplating in this manner, the thoughts becoming less prominent and eventually disappearing.
- I was able to revert to noting the feet movement, as lifting, moving, placing
Many yogis find this method of contemplation very useful.
This helps in noting the body movement and the mind that notes the movement. This helps to maintain awareness throughout the process of walking meditation. And it prevents thoughts proliferating and the yogi fantasizing on such thoughts. The mind becomes less discursive and more focused on the object of meditation. Eventually this would lead to deep understanding and realizations in one’s meditation practice.
When a yogi records his/her experiences in this manner it brings sharpness and clarity to the mind.