enlightenment-ish experiences and some recent stuff

(General content note: A lot of my thinking has really changed since the old days of this blog. There’s some weird, mean, and polemic stuff in there.)

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“That’s not it, but…” Cf. “Happiness not dependent on conditions” Cf. Ha.

Early 2000s, 1-4 years in

Late at night, back unsupported, sleepy and lightly drifting in and out. Coming out of unconsciousness, for a few moments, the separation between “I” and “me” was gone. Thoughts and feelings were streaming outward instead of appearing before me to be witnessed. While this was happening, there was a steadily rising feeling of elation, and then those brief moments were over.

Mid 2000’s, 4-5 years in

Back in grad school, the first time around, I meditated for an hour straight, for somewhere between one hundred and three hundred days in a row. (I lost my records for what I actually did. Also, I’m not sure if I’d recommend anybody do this, unless it felt right.) Anyway, something was different by the time I was done. It was like I’d stoked a glowing ember deep inside me. It wasn’t that much meditation, relatively speaking, but it felt like my will had been permanently strengthened. There was something irrepressible, something deep in my gut that wasn’t there before. Every time I start to sink, it feels like a light grows brighter inside me, evening me out, drawing a line that I can never fall below. And it’s a strength that I can draw upon, a ferocity, a hunger, a passion, a defiance, a consistency, a depth of feeling. It has never gone away.

2010s, over a decade in

Worked with the Jhanas for a few weeks, and got up into the (soft) probably second Jhana (haven’t looked at the descriptions for a while) a few times. Got bored with it.

2010s, over a decade in

I adopted a perspective of no referents anywhere. Everything was just surface sensation. For a time, with intense concentration, I was able to watch my mind in the act of assembling concepts as I thought them. I watched how my mind and the progression of my thoughts were shaped by the habitual concepts that were triggered by the concepts and experiences that came before.

2010’s, over a decade in

I was cycling through various ways to arrange my conception of world, desperately trying to find a way to align my sense of self and world with something that made sense, that worked, that I could be safe and comfortable in. Every time I thought I’d gotten something, my mind would pick it apart as I watched until it wasn’t useful or usable, anymore. None of the worldviews I had perfectly mapped the territory. Finally, frankly despairing, I abruptly threw it all away. I had never been able to take that leap before, and never again. I didn’t realize anything was different for a moment, nor was I expecting anything. But something was different. I could think just fine, but my mind was incredibly quiet. The external world was the default, crystal clear, not my internal life. Everywhere I looked, reality slapped me in the face. That night, I was even more desperate, scared, and miserable than before.

2010’s, over a decade in

Every once in a while, with carefully stabilized attention, I catch a vivid, gestalt glimpse of the entirety of my sense of self, everything that is me, the hopes, fears, longings, struggling, from just outside, all at once. Far from the usual self-criticism, self-flagellation, there is only compassion in this intimate glimpse of the entirety of a person’s (my) present, conscious state.

2010’s, over a decade in

With carefully stabilized attention, I search with my “inner peripheral vision.” I tenuously, manage to find and place my attention on my sense of “I.” I hold my peripheral attention on that “I sensation” for long seconds. I exhaust it, deplete it. Finally, I relax. And that sense of “I” is gone. I feel hollow, like a shell. Self-referential cognition goes into a void, or “grounds out.” Any thought that has “me” involved hits that void and doesn’t continue on. It’s very scary. “Oh, shit,” what’s left thinks. “Now I’ve done it,” it says on autopilot. The part of me on autopilot figures that it’ll probably fade. And it does, after ten minutes. I decide not to try that ever again.

Past five years to now-ish

Work continues with Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing and Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy, Jay Earley’s explication of Richard Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems Therapy, Bruce Ecker and Laurel Hulley’s Depth Oriented Brief Therapy or Coherence Therapy. Profound and apparently permanent changes continue to occur with respect to feelings, beliefs, and behavior with regard to self and world. Lots of stuff is better, so much better, easier, less painful, possible when before it was impossible, for me. I suspect that meditation makes all this stuff work better. Often, I engage in these practices partially nonverbally, by mental action and feel, yet methodically and precisely. I don’t feel limited by words or “solid concepts,” I can work with innumerable, interpenetrating, amorphous, “meaning.” If most people have access to, say, three dimensions of mental space, I feel like I have access to more, like I can more in more directions. And I feel like I can shake free of concepts and approaches more easily and make large jumps within my inner space.


I feel like reflection and meta-monitoring is more likely to occur moment-to-moment in my life. It seems easier to record and take things in and adjust what I’m doing before, during, and after I do it, regardless of how ambiguous or ill-defined that “thing” I’m doing is. It also seems easier to “go with the flow” and let intuitive action take over, at least in some circumstances.


Emotions sometimes rage through me (connected to occurrences and life situations), unbearably strong, yet not: waves upon waves, ebbing and receding, fear, doubt, uncertainty, disappointment, frustration, desperation, sick horror regarding my own life and the state of the world. None of it cuts to the bone. I can let it happen, I can experience it fully. I know it will pass. It’s like I rest in deep water while the storm rages above. I can experience it fully, I can be it and not be it at the same time. I can act decisively and viciously while keeping perspective on how much current situation X matters and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of my life. There is space and spaciousness within which to rage, without losing perspective or spiraling out of control. Stronger and stronger emotion is safe. And sometimes there is a soft warmth, a luxurious vacation feeling, a sense of appreciation and gratitude, and I can relax into it, bask in it, and experience it fully.


I listen to myself when my self has something to communicate, and I make sure my self feels heard: “Yes, you’ve got it, message received.”

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