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What to do when the mind starts moving so fast that individual experiences cannot be noted? And as far as I have experienced, the mind can only be in one place at a time, but it begins moving so fast between different experiences that it is as if there is awareness of nearly the entire body at once and all experience blurs together and the body feels like its humming?

edit: there seems to be some confusion..this didn't seem like a distracted state; it seems as if I was able to be mindful of multiple things happening at once all over my body. The normal areas where sensations occur that I'm only able to be mindful of one at a time i.e. sensations on my head, my arms, pain in the back, legs, I was nearly fully aware of all at once.

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    Thanks for correcting my misunderstanding, updated my answer, hope it helps. – Buddho Jul 3 '15 at 20:31
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    Just a clarification to this sentence "I was able to be mindful of multiple things happening at once all over my body". It is not possible to be aware of more than one object at a time. What happens is that the mind moves so fast that it can seem like one is aware of multiple objects at once. – Lanka Jul 3 '15 at 20:35
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    To add to what @Lanka says, I've often felt I can make my whole body glow with sensations, it can feel like the entire body is alive with little vibratory sensations, but what is really happening is the sensory mind is moving very fast to gather all that data, and the interpretive mind bunches it all up into one group. – Buddho Jul 3 '15 at 20:37
  • yea i misspoke, I meant that with the qualifier i had in the initial question of the mind can only be in one place at a time, it should be something like "it seems as if" – Ryan Jul 3 '15 at 21:01
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There are always many things happening in the body, your mind is getting distracted trying to focus on everything.

You need to spend more time on your samatha (ex. anapana) practice, so that your mind can focus better on whatever object you direct it at in Vipassana.

> edit: there seems to be some confusion..this didn't seem like a
> distracted state; I was able to be mindful of multiple things
> happening at once all over my body. The normal areas where sensations
> occur that I'm only able to be mindful of one at a time i.e.
> sensations on my head, my arms, pain in the back, legs, I was nearly
> fully aware of all at once.

Apologies I misunderstood, then this sounds like Bhanga nana - knowledge of dissolution. The best way to confirm this is if sooner or later you start hitting the bhaya (fear) nana.

Note: Identifying the nana category with certainty is difficult for the yogi himself/herself, let alone for a third party, so don't take any nana diagnosis as correct until it is verified a few different ways.

http://www.buddhanet.net/knowledg.htm

What happens next? The meditator’s awareness and concentration continues to develop. As a result, he now sees only the passing away of phenomena. It is as if his awareness is so fast, it is faster than the experiences he is examining, As soon as he places his attention on some aspect of his experience, it disappears. This is the knowledge of dissolution (bhanga-nana). In a weak aspect, this can take the form of the meditator apparently losing his concentration. It seems like he can no longer focus on anything; his attention keeps sliding off whatever he tries to look at. It can be lie trying to grasp something that slips out of your hand the moment you touch it. In a stronger aspect, it can be like falling into the black hole of Calcutta. Wherever you look, there is nothing - only blackness. The meditator is shocked, because he used to be able to focus on anything. Now, it seems, he can focus on nothing at all. All his good work has dissolved into nothing.

I just want to add the excellent advice that the same page gives about the nana categories - there are an infinite ways to map this journey, and the 16 nana map is good, but may not identify every sensation you encounter. The only way to practice is to continue the practice undaunted, whatever the feeling.

The 16 nanas constitute another way to categorise our experience. There are any number of ways we can analyse our experience; there are a potentially infinite number of categories we can invent into which we can classify our experiences. What is important is that we remember the difference between category and experience, and avoid becoming lost in the category. Our tendency is to get lost in the categories, and in doing so, lose touch with experience. When we create a system of categories we freeze the process of living experience and create a solid something in which our experience must now conform. We now divide our experience into two basic divisions: those experiences which we can fit into our system of categories, and which is therefore valid, real and useful; and those experiences which we cannot fit into our system of categories. Of course, in the act of meditating, we put more attention to our valid, real and useful experiences than we do to the other type. In brief, we become stuck in attachment and aversion, and instead of investigating our experience, we revert to manipulating it. We take the practice of freedom and turn it into a prison. This is inevitably the case when we project reality into the categories of analysis - whatever system we use - and not into the actual, living, stream of experience. Hence we must treat this system with great caution. We must learn to use it, and not be used by it.

I'd also like to add something by Bodhipaksa, of Wildmind.org - it's more general advise, but I think you can make it work in your situation too.

Our meditation practice never changes in a constant, linear way. There are always ups and downs. One day you’re sitting there and you unexpectedly find that you’re blissfully happy and almost totally without distraction. The next day your mind is all over the place. This is normal, and it’s good to relax, and not be obsessed about “getting somewhere.” Yes, it’s good to have the aspiration to move in the direction of greater calm and happiness, but the expectation that this is going to happen will bring us nothing but pain. Bearing in mind the aspiration to move in the direction of greater calm and happiness, we simply work with whatever arises, not worrying about whether it’s a “good” meditation or a “bad” meditation.

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  • so I should just continue doing what I'm doing? How do I deal with being unable to note? Is it fine that I'm having awareness of multiple things at once? All the pain in the body is gone and all i'm left with is a humming sensation, so just be aware of that and let my awareness and mindfulness grow? – Ryan Jul 3 '15 at 21:00
  • Yes, continue to practice, don't bother about the greater or lesser ability to note. The lack of pain adds weight to my suspicion that you are in nana 5 - concentration will get more difficult for a while - you may get restless, feel like giving up - just hang in there and persist. – Buddho Jul 3 '15 at 21:05
  • Ok thank you. I don't want to read the 16 stages myself because I feel I'll get caught up in a head game about them, so I appreciate you referencing this for me :) – Ryan Jul 3 '15 at 21:07
  • Reading it won't help much anyway - my own experiences of several nanas don't match the descriptions very much, so I am only able to fill in the gaps in analysis of my own practice only based on the nanas that do match the descriptions. It's useful to know, but not necessary. – Buddho Jul 3 '15 at 21:10
  • Any advice on this loss of concentration? It's even coming up in walking meditation! My mind is going everywhere! – Ryan Jul 4 '15 at 1:09
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A way to deal with this is to restrain the mind by choosing to note only experiences from e.g. the 1st and 2nd foundation of mindfulness. One could also start with only one foundation and then add more when mindfulness grows.

It's similar as to when one is starting to do walking meditation. One will start by noting only the "stepping" movement of the foot. When one gets better one can begin to include the "lifting" movement too and with more practice one can include the "placing" movement of the foot.

This way one is building more steps into the practice as mindfulness grows and one gains the ability to be aware of more phenomena.

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  • these experiences were only bodily experiences for the most part, with some sound mixed in and a thought here or there – Ryan Jul 3 '15 at 20:17
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Try one of these to slow down your mind:

  • Follow your breath
  • Follow the representation of your breath
  • Walking meditation
  • Concentration meditation (upon an object)
  • Keep the body still with eyes closed

Practice these in a quiet place. Usually within five to ten minutes you will notice a difference.

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