After reading The Mind Illuminated I have more tools to describe my practice. I am at the stage that I can experience several minutes (like 10) of focused attention on the meditation object while maintaining peripheral awareness. I have glimpses of not-self, my responses are of higher quality, and my physiological measurements have shown improvements. My mind is easily distracted by subtle distractions and I can get back to the meditation object (breath) quickly. A couple days ago I had a great afternoon session and within 30 seconds was in a calm state. Halfway through, I intentionally changed my focus to my son who was in the next room and had a conversation with him about what he was doing:
When returning to the breath, the mind slipped very quickly back into a calm, focused attention state. I believe this is what the book describes as the ability to expand awareness to something in peripheral awareness and bring it back to the meditation object. My muse measurement showed this interaction very clearly:
My practice needs to continue until there is focused attention for at least an hour before the next stage is available. If I do my practice all is coming (my yoga teacher used to say that all the time).
I have been practicing daily meditation for 92 days now. During this experiment, I complemented the meditation with great books that helped me learn from the thousands of years of research before me. My specific area of focus has been brain science and Buddhism and I was surprised to find a bunch of books that combine both! Here are some of those resources which I found helpful:
For a long time I thought that hypnogogic states were actually glimpses of enlightenment. Like when you are falling asleep and you are kind of half awake but your body is unable to move and you are experience dreamlike states. Well, after reading The Mind Illuminated and having more meditation experience, I now see these as "Subtle Dullness" when the moments of non-perceiving outnumber the perceiving moments and lull you into drowsiness. The experience can be really pleasant, even blissful. What I have learned is that you need to get back to perceiving moments by focusing on your meditation object (say, the breath) to avoid this dullness. I have even gone to sleep when meditating and learned some new techniques, such as doing body scans, that will allow me to identify and pull out of, these dullness states to get back to attention and awareness. The Mind Illuminated does a great job of describing these techniques and the state of subtle dullness.
Eric is a traveller, hacker, and experimenter who is currently researching how to become a happier, calmer, and more compassionate human being.