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RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
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Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/23/12 3:51 PM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/24/12 7:52 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/25/12 5:40 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/26/12 4:37 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/26/12 7:03 PM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/27/12 4:39 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/28/12 5:02 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/29/12 4:34 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/30/12 9:42 PM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/31/12 5:20 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/1/12 7:23 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/2/12 5:05 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/3/12 4:48 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/4/12 4:55 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/5/12 5:04 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Neem Nyima 4/5/12 5:43 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/6/12 5:27 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/6/12 5:26 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/7/12 5:37 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/8/12 6:07 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/9/12 6:30 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/10/12 4:54 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/11/12 4:51 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/12/12 5:05 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/13/12 2:39 PM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/14/12 6:14 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/15/12 7:52 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/16/12 5:11 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/17/12 1:34 PM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/18/12 5:59 PM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/19/12 11:40 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/20/12 4:58 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/21/12 6:40 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/22/12 7:09 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/23/12 5:29 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/28/12 7:27 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 4/29/12 5:53 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/1/12 5:58 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/2/12 5:24 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/3/12 5:18 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/4/12 4:36 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/5/12 3:32 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/9/12 5:14 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/12/12 5:22 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/25/12 5:15 AM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 5/26/12 4:24 PM
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation Dauphin Supple Chirp 7/6/12 5:42 AM
Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/23/12 3:51 PM
Brief summary of where I'm starting out: I lead a layperson's life in the USA, working part time and generally keeping the 5 precepts. I had SE a little over a year ago and gave up regular, daily practice about 5 months ago. For the last couple of months, I have been trying to stare at a kasina, but I would usually find myself just closing my eyes and getting cessations after a few minutes. When I have a break, I like to sit down or lie down for a few minutes and have cessations. I realized only very recently that those are "real" cessations, that I'm actually recalling them like one is "supposed to" be able to. I discounted them for a long time because they did not have "bliss waves" attached to them like the couple of "big" ones I have experienced so far. However, the fact that my mind prefers those over anything else, be it everyday life or samādhi, eventually led me to admit to myself that I'm not just constantly tired to the point of nodding off whenever I close my eyes for a few minutes. Now that all this is relatively clear, I want to again start formal, daily insight practice.

Inspired by SN 1.1, I want to make sure to practice at least daily (not to "stop"), while at the same time avoiding any "straining:" For example, I will not vow to sit at least two hours a day right from the start.

I just did my first "test session:" I sat straight, with my eyes closed, truly making an effort to investigate rather than just doing the same old thing. I used explicit mental notes only every few seconds, to make sure I wasn't getting carried away for too long. Between notes I stayed with the experience itself, directly, intimately, trying to be completely nonreactive.

The most noticeable difference to my insight practice from before was that I seemed able to have much less perception springing from sight-contact. I think this was a result of my recent attempts at kasina practice. Actually not just sight-contact, but all 5 external senses seemed that way. This made the session much more pleasant than I remember vipassanā, but kind of viscous, almost solid. I perceived about 1 to 2Hz vibrations of seeing and/or thinking, back and forth between left and right. After probably about 10 minutes, much faster vibrations of the sense of touch started appearing, the kind I remember from months ago. Not many of them appeared, though. During the last few minutes of the session something started creeping in that I didn't properly recognize/acknowledge, and it led to the desire to end the session, which I then did. I checked my watch, and it had been a total of 20 minutes.

The plan now is to sit at least once a day, each day for one minute longer than the last, starting with 21 minutes tomorrow, until I get to 45 minutes, at which point I will re-evaluate.

Other notable experiences from this session: At one point, for a couple of seconds, a fairly clear visual of my kasina (blue disk on black) came up; and a couple of times that pleasant feeling (in the sense of touch) that comes before jhāna appeared. (I usually note it as "rising energy.")
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/24/12 7:52 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
This session was 21 minutes. It started out with a general feeling of discomfort and lack of concentration. I noticed that there was a constant sound outside, probably some sort of engine. Tension in my face and stomach, to the point of feeling slightly nauseated. I tried to find a spot in the body that was not affected by the tension, but couldn't. The mind kept coming up with saṅkhāras: people, places, plans, memories. It was rather uncomfortable. Then I saw how the mind was just trying to escape from the present moment, which was this reality of noise and tension and anxiety, by going into the future. This insight made me feel like I had learned something. This feeling itself colored the entire rest of the session and made it somehow a lot more comfortable. On a couple of occasions, A&P style clarity and speed started creeping in a little bit, but most of the session was kind of murky, slow, and viscous compared to what I'm "used to."
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/25/12 5:40 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
This was 22 minutes. I didn't quite manage to sit still. It's getting quicker, less viscous, more unpleasant. I feel physically sick this morning. I think the 8 precepts might be in order. Tension around and in my belly. I felt cold, weak, and nauseated. I guess it's because I'm eating too much, at the wrong time, and not the right kind of food.

When there is an instance of relaxation in the body, it is pleasant, and then the mind latches onto that pleasantness, creating more relaxation in a greater area of the body. I want to see how all this starts, but can't make it out quite clearly.

Today I'm going to do an uposatha half-day at the local meditation monastery. Tomorrow I work early, so that will probably leave me with more than a 24 hour period without food, which I expect to have a positive effect on my physical wellness.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/26/12 4:37 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
When I got up, my body still felt sick and tired, so I decided to sit in the half lotus position today rather than using the meditation bench. It had the expected effect. The session itself was 23 minutes long. Everything was softly brilliant, sort of like a mellow and subtle A&P. Most notable was the sound of the refrigerator, which is normally unpleasant to neutral. It was slightly pleasant today. When it ended, that was also pleasant. In the beginning, my concentration was not the best, but toward the end it was sufficient to where everything felt calm, but clear. I am going to get ready for work now.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/26/12 7:03 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I have been noticing a lot of slow "oscillations," for example between the upper and lower part of the front of the chest. The frequency is usually around 2 Hz.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/27/12 4:39 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
24 minutes. Again I felt sick and tired before I sat down, so I chose the half lotus position. After about 5 minutes, I tried to detect the 5 hindrances, but couldn't. I sat rather still, which produced a pleasant feeling in the body, which led to a happy feeling in the mind. Everything was rather normal and boring, mostly hearing and thinking. I got complacent and planning started creeping in. I caught it after about a minute. At one point, itches started appearing. Metta to the rescue. Sudden noises still cause the same quick and not quite clear cascade in the body and mind.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/28/12 5:02 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
This session was 25 minutes. There is not much to report. Some itches, thinking, hearing, increasing calmness. Concentration got better at first, but then started declining. When I caught that, I just started mentally saying, "this, this, this, this," as fast as I could, which I think hat a positive effect on concentration.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/29/12 4:34 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today's session was 26 minutes. I started seeing more clearly some subtle aversion precipitated by a droning noise outside. I think progress may come from finding the right balance between clumsy clinging to noting and sitting back, letting the mind go on autopilot to cessations.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/30/12 9:42 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today's session (27 minutes) occurred in the late afternoon rather than the early morning. Among the new developments was that I noted restlessness and uncertainty. The uncertainty was whether I was going to move or not. When I moved, the uncertainty didn't go away, because in each moment I might move again, regardless of what I just did. It was a little bit weird, but nothing spectacular.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
3/31/12 5:20 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today's session was 28 minutes. At one point, it felt like my mind was very big and as if there were several personalities in there. None of them felt like me or mine. I have been noticing an unusually high amount of contentment generated by sitting still. Nothing feels brilliant or quick (yet).
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/1/12 7:23 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
29 minutes. There was a great deal of equanimity, but it didn't feel like the 11th nana. Then again I'm really bad at judging where I am at the time. The most predominant features of this session were calmness in the body, mainly legs and arms, gladness in the mind, then a strong warm feeling developed. There was a lot of mental activity, but nothing that really stands out.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/2/12 5:05 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today I got a chance to observe a worried mind. As I sat down, I started noticing a dripping sound, which remained constant (as constant as dripping water is) throughout the session. About a couple of minutes into the session, my left knee started feeling cold, as if wet. This also felt real and remained (conventionally speaking) unchanged. Worries came from the thought that my apartment was flooding.

Again there was great calm in the body, starting from the legs and hands.

I'm starting to notice the weird images and thoughts much quicker, almost like A&P, but no "spectacular side effects" (yet). One example was a red object whose image came up; then I noted red; then a red dot appeared for a moment; This sparked a kind of cascade where the mind kept bouncing around between the word "red" and red images or visualizations for a while. Generally I'm noticing more clearly how apparent permanence of concepts in the mind works. I say "apparent" because it's really a bunch of different mental sense impressions (interrupted by lots of other events) that have certain characteristics in common and are therefore experienced as one concept.

When I got up after 30 minutes, I turned on the light and started to investigate about the dripping. My knee was dry and I couldn't hear or see any dripping anymore.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/3/12 4:48 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
31 minutes. I sat very still today. There was a lot of thinking, and thinking about the thinking, and thinking about the thinking about the thinking. The big stillness/calmness in the legs wasn't there today. Instead lots of subtle vibrations. At one point I needed a label for the discrepancy between wanting to be still and the lack of total physical and/or mental stillness. I started using "dukkha" and later discovered that there are a lot of discrepancies like that, so I started using that label quite a bit. The clarity is about what I remember from A&P, but no spectacular side effects. On some level a great stillness is developing. Sitting through it all was relatively very easy today. There were very few thoughts about time (how much time was left in the session), if any.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/4/12 4:55 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
32 minutes. The mind was wandering a lot, so I used a lot of slow noting. Images of faces kept popping up. I felt strong attraction to the female ones and aversion to the male ones, which always looked angry and dangerous. There was a weird pulsating sensation throughout the body, about 1Hz, but definitely not like a heartbeat. It feels like I'm regressing rather than progressing, but I know that is not necessarily a bad thing.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/5/12 5:04 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I sat for a little more than 33 minutes today. I only started the timer a couple of minutes into the session. Again, and more so than before, my body was very still throughout the entire session, but the mind kept daydreaming and planning. I think I'm having a hard time disidentifying with the bodily stillness, but at the same time the mind just seems to escape. Sitting still is so easy right now and meditating so hard. emoticon
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/5/12 5:43 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
You could try anchoring in on an object while you practice, like the rising & falling. Michelle McDonald said it can be very good for getting you out of the head and strengthening the pleasant calm concentration aspect of the practice. There will be lots of sensations in the breath around the belly, but just notice the most predominate and give it a label, like rising fast, falling tight, rising warm, falling tight, or; start rising rising until full and then full, the point being to be with sensations moment to moment.
You seem to have a lot of thinking, but I guess its that way for everyone at points & early in the practice. Lastly at Dharmaseed.org there are a lot of free talks by Michelle McDonald. listening to the dhamma during retreat sometime produced some of my best sessions. metta, g'luck.

PS I liked this thread by Ingram, cause it talks about some approaches for how to practice, along with the progress of practice. But the points for you, might be to look at some of the different ideas of how to practice that Ingram presents in this thread. http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1973107 its called "The Hierarchy of Vipassana Practice"
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/6/12 5:26 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today's session was 34 minutes. I have been sitting half lotus ever since I started this thread, but I think it's time to switch to the bench now. I was much more focused on the present experience today, even though I didn't sit quite as still as the last couple of days. What I did to make sure I stay on track is (mentally) increase the volume or intensity of noting. In the end, I got to the point where I could turn the noting volume almost all the way down without losing the present moment, and that, of course, allowed an even more immediate and richer experience. Most sensations were unpleasant, with pleasantness mainly coming from the disappearance of tension.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/6/12 5:27 AM as a reply to Neem Nyima.
Thank you for the input! I re-read Daniel Ingram's post.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/7/12 5:37 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
35 minutes on a bench. The noisy environment is getting kind of old. emoticon

Using the breath as the resting place, I started to see more detail of how body and mind interact and how the mind recognizes which phenomena belong to a concept and which don't. Toward the end I noted energy and restlessness.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/8/12 6:07 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today's session of 36 minutes was kind of confusing. I have been socially rather active this weekend, and naturally that gives rise to thoughts that spill into meditation. At the same time, I'm noticing how the mind is already much better at interrupting itself, "thinking, thinking" and never really getting carried away on a train of thought anymore. The bench is not all it's cracked up to be, so at the risk of the legs being the limiting factor, I'm going to make half lotus my "official" position from now on. I have been doing it a lot anyway.

Subtle vibrations are starting to become more and more apparent. One weird thing that happened today was what felt like a gross vibration of about 70 Hz right at the center of the body, sort of in front of the lowest part of the spine, which seemed to last for almost a minute. I remember finding it pretty neat for a few seconds before I noted "pleasant, pleasant," upon which it started to fade out.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/9/12 6:30 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
37 minutes. I was practicing almost perfectly and got lost in thoughts maybe a couple of times for less than 5 seconds. A few times, when thoughts about having made progress came up and I felt a degree of satisfaction or accomplishment, I noted that as "pleasant." Whenever I became frustrated with not having had anything major happen recently, I noted "frustration."
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/10/12 4:54 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Yesterday I had a lucid dream. Nothing spectacular, but still enjoyable. Today's session of 38 minutes was similar to yesterday's, but the body moved less. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but the mind is starting to crack into the connection between hearing a noise and feeling unnecessarily annoyed by it.

As unpleasant as reality may be, the unpleasantness is currently being overpowered by the pleasantness of being able to stay with everything, in the present moment, and actually doing it (staying with everything, in the present moment).
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/11/12 4:51 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
39 minutes. My belly is too heavy for optimal posture. When I relax more, it pulls me forward and down. Suddenly lots of unpleasant physical sensations and aversion came up. In order for it not to become overwhelming, I focused closely on the breath and tried to "whack" every sensation that came up as quickly and as hard as possible by noting it fast and retracting back to the breath. Then a lot of pleasant mental sensations started appearing, and I treated them the same way. This harsh and quick noting started developing into somewhat of a rhythm and made time seem to go by much faster. There is a period of time, maybe 1 to 10 minutes, that I don't seem to be able to recall right now, right after the session. I'm not overly worried about it. Toward the end, a constant ringing in the ears appeared, which at one point started breaking up into individual pulses in typical strong A&P fashion.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/12/12 5:05 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
40 minutes. It was similar to yesterday. There was more thinking, but also more peacefulness and pleasantness. Quite a few visuals came up, mainly faces and body parts. During the last minute, there was considerable discomfort in the legs. About 2/3 into the session, concentration increased significantly, and I started noticing subtle sensations. Then there was quite some bliss coming from the concentration. All in all, the "volume" of the noting might have been a little lower than optimal this time, but it's not like mindfulness or noting ever stopped completely.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/13/12 2:39 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today's session of 41 minutes took place in the afternoon rather than the morning. The peacefulness from a few days ago is gone. The whole body just consists of unpleasant vibrations. The only feeling of pleasantness somehow came from sitting there, observing how every little thing was unpleasant. At the end of 41 minutes, I walked right over to my bed and continued for about another 40 minutes lying on my back. That part, of course, felt less like a chore, but that didn't make the individual sensations any more pleasant. In the end, when I finally opened my eyes, everything (i.e. what I was seeing) seemed unstable and flickering.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/14/12 6:14 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
42 minutes today. It feels kind of ridiculous writing this, but it's like yesterday was the DN and today the 11th nana. emoticon Since I'm already babbling about things that are not supposed to go in here: For the first time in months, I have been having a "problem" in my personal life this past week, and combined with the noisy environment in which I live and meditate, I am sort of resigned to the idea that progress will be slow and possibly imperceptible for long periods of time.

So the first 10 minutes were kind of uneasy, lots of noise and aversion, quite a bit of thinking, some anxiety and tension. Then the subtle vibrations started gaining the upper hand, and like yesterday everything was just very unpleasant. To my surprise, though, right after having and acknowledging the thought that progress is expected to be very slow under these circumstances, equanimity started creeping in. Within minutes, my experience wasn't about subtle vibrations anymore, but instead I was back to mainly hearing, aversion, and thinking, but all of those phenomena seemed like beautiful, colorful blocks, and concentration started to increase noticeably.

[For quite a long time now, I have had the ability to avoid sneezing during meditation by somehow relaxing around that sensation in the nose and the wave of physical unpleasantness that develops around it, when ignored.] Today for the first time, I seemed able to meet other disturbances with a similar, but much quicker and more targeted "relaxing around" them: A dust particle landed in my throat. It was the kind of sensation that would normally always lead to a cough or clearing of the throat within no more than maybe half a minute. This time, I somehow immediately and nimbly relaxed around it, and, within a fraction of a second, it was gone for good. The same kind of "instinctive targeted relaxation" worked on an unpleasant sensation in the legs.

So much for all this. It's now time to get back to that personal decision that will likely have a huge impact on my circumstances for the next few decades.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/15/12 7:52 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Well, well, well... Today I sat for 43 minutes. About 10 or 15 minutes into it, I noticed how my mindfulness was very good, but not as immediate as it could have been without the noting, so I stopped noting. The resulting experience could rightfully labeled "inner peace." emoticon I started noting again after several minutes, when it occurred to me that I had probably been identifying with the pleasant peacefulness, but I used notes sparingly. I don't know what this was, but the whole session felt mildly pleasant with a total lack of color. It sort of felt like my sessions about three weeks ago, except that there were almost no wandering thoughts.

At one point, there was a very strong itch in the face. Of course it was interrupted by other sensations, but still it stayed or kept recurring for a long time, maybe 20 minutes. One interesting little thing that happened was, after not having noticed the itch (and the aversion it seemed to cause) for a few minutes, I felt aversion to a sudden noise, which in turn seemed to bring on the itch again.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/16/12 5:11 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Don't underestimate how much television can disturb the mind. I was exposed to some yesterday and am still feeling the effects.

I sat for 44 minutes, including a brief mental metta recitation in the beginning, and what an easy and wonderful 44 minutes it was! My concentration is weak, my mindfulness is so-so, there is plenty of lust, plenty of aversion, and I'm sitting still, noting along, totally content. I never felt a breakthrough during these past few days, but it seems like I'm experiencing the effects of a huge and subtle one: I now have a deep, intuitive understanding of what should be clear to any of us anyway, namely that this experience—no matter how trivial, boring, "inappropriate"—and its observation—no matter how incompetent or inadequate—that is all there is. It is the world. It is what's happening, and there is nothing else to do but to observe it . This (weird sounding) realization makes it so easy and natural to have a genuine interest in the noise, the tiredness, the lack of focus, the silly thoughts of greed; I really just don't even have words for it.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/17/12 1:34 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Yesterday in the afternoon, I closed my eyes for a few minutes to meditate informally. After opening them back up, there was just the image, slowly scrolling (my eyes must have been slowly moving). No thoughts, no sense of anything except for the seeing, and even that was really just the image, no sense of me looking or anything being looked at. When I started thinking again, it kind of freaked me out having experienced nothing but an image for a while. This temporary lack of existence of anything but the image made the image itself then appear flat and distant, but not literally distorted. I don't think I learned much from this, or changed much because of it, but for someone who has never seen non-self directly, an experience like this might have constituted a major breakthrough.

Anyway, this morning I either didn't hear my alarm or went right back to sleep, then got up 23 minutes late. Even though I was slightly pressed for time, I decided to take the full 45 minutes of meditation. It was very similar to yesterday's session, except there persisted a certain sense of hurriedness.

Given that I am sticking with half lotus for now, which is kind of hard on my knees when sustained longer than 30 minutes, I'm going to keep the sessions to 45 minutes for the time being.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/18/12 5:59 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
This morning's session of 45 minutes had some tiredness, physical discomfort, anxiety, frustration, but also a good bit of calm and peace. All in all it doesn't feel like what I think I remember as my "cutting edge." Afterwards I went straight back to bed to lie down and spent half an hour basically continuing the meditation lying on my back. At that point, there were lots of 10 to 12 Hz vibrations in my entire body.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/19/12 11:40 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I started this morning's session with metta. This probably had something to do with the fact that it was very calm and my concentration was good. When the timer went off and I had to start getting ready for work, it felt like I should just continue meditating, but I didn't.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/20/12 4:58 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I sat for 45 minutes. There was a lot of physical discomfort, but nothing major, and quite a bit of desire and thinking. Subtle vibrations began right away, during the metta recitation, at about 3 to 5 Hz. Later they seemed to be at 12 Hz. Then they transformed into just slightly pleasant "blobs of touch" without a discernible frequency. Late in the session, they were so irregular that I can't come up with a frequency estimate. The mind currently seems to be resistant to mindfulness, but still fairly calm. Meditation feels like a chore without much benefit. If you're reading this, it must be starting to sound like I have a psychiatric disorder or two. emoticon
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/21/12 6:40 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Again I sat for 45 minutes. There was almost no physical discomfort. The result was great stillness of the body. The mind wasn't quite as still, but it definitely felt like it was getting there. For about the last 5 minutes, I decided to focus on the breath, which went very well. When jhāna started, I enjoyed it for just a few moments, then slowly opened my eyes because I knew time was pretty much up. Seven seconds later, the timer went off.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/22/12 7:09 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today's session (45 minutes) was dominated by a droning noise from the outside, which led to aversion, tension, nausea, headache. Bodily stillness was great, though, and the anger that resulted from all the physical discomfort, dissipated fairly quickly, or at least the part of it that was not more intimately linked to the noise. (With this part, which I called "aversion" above, I made no discernible progress. I can't see it clearly, or how it fits into the chain of causation. I just sort of sense it or almost just assume it's there.)

The mind was very good at staying in the present moment, and there wasn't much thinking. The session sort of felt like an intense effort to stare at that conglomerate of phenomena to try to somehow discern its inner workings.

During the last few minutes, jhāna factors became stronger than anything else.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/23/12 5:29 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I sat 45 minutes. Concentration and mindfulness are improving slowly, but steadily. There were a couple of weird pains in my bones, and a little bit of that 1 to 2 Hz subtle oscillation.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/28/12 7:27 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Since my last post, I have been sitting at least once every day for 45 minutes. There hasn't really been much to report. In general I feel very equanimous these days when I sit and also in daily life. The experience itself is currently kind of plain, not really what I would call brilliant or luminous, but definitely not unpleasant or boring. Concentration and mindfulness are slowly improving.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
4/29/12 5:53 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
There was a new development today, but it's kind of hard to put into words. A new sense of duality emerged when I decided to let go of the details of what presented at the sense doors. An "inner," peaceful part of experience sort of disengaged or split off, now much less disturbed by the "outer," noisy part. After what was probably a few minutes, I lost it when I swallowed, thereby reintroducing a stronger connection between volition and bodily movement (or: reintroducing bodily movement). This was followed by thinking about what had just happened.

The general tone of the entire session was still very equanimous.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/1/12 5:58 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
After having been off for a week, I had a pretty rough day at work yesterday, and there is still a great amount of restlessness. It took about half an hour for my eyelids to become still. There was a lot of thinking. Interestingly enough, on an entirely different level, there is total equanimity toward everything EXCEPT the things that "I have to do." In other words: anything can happen to me; anything can happen within me; the only things that cause a disturbance are "my responsibilities." I am starting to really understand how ordination can be very beneficial. (or maybe a long retreat)
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/2/12 5:24 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Today's 45 minute session probably doesn't really deserve the name "meditation." It felt similar to the sessions about a month ago when I couldn't even stay in the present moment. I basically used (or abused) my 45 minutes do think through and let go of "stuff" as the version of MCTB that I read calls it. I think I was rather successful at it, though, because I feel a lot more at peace and really happy after the session. Now I'm thinking, How do people ever practice vipassana without going on retreat or ordaining!?

Just in case anyone is interested in my current "stuff:" Yesterday when I got to my car in the morning, I found it damaged, and (as I am told is customary here in Florida) the perpetrator seems to have fled the scene of the accident without leaving a note. Apparently that bothered me throughout the day and was the first thing that came up in this morning's session, but it took only about 15 minutes to run its course. After that the work-related suffering came to the surface: I am currently finding myself at the receiving end of many individuals' anger caused by corporate BS. This is not all that tragic. However, I found myself not loving some of those angry individuals yesterday. I was still rather nice to them and never wished them any gross harm, but I think there is some subtle ill-will somewhere within me that I can't quite pinpoint (yet). It's hard to pinpoint because it manifests in lack of caring, which is kind of similar to "true" equanimity, but it's not really the same thing, so something just seems "off."
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/3/12 5:18 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Here's a big mess for you emoticon :

I have been having a pretty bad week at work; not horrible, but a huge contrast to the peace of not working last week. Nevertheless there is this huge mental pleasant feeling that bubbles up occasionally throughout the day. I have been sitting a lot in the half lotus position, and my knees are starting to hurt a little bit, but that's beside the point.

Yesterday in the afternoon, I listened to Ajahn Brahm's talk on the Upakkilesa Sutta, and at the end of it, I started to feel this strong feeling akin to tiredness, but different in that (1) I wasn't actually tired, meaning I hadn't missed any sleep or been up too long or anything like that, and (2) it didn't have the subtle achiness that real tiredness comes with. The "pleasant tiredness" I'm referring to is exactly the feeling I would get when cycling through the nanas after SE: I would be out and about doing something, then the "pleasant tiredness" would start, and then, whenever I got the chance, I would sit down and close my eyes, and within a few seconds or minutes, there would be a cessation, after which I would get up happy and energized. Well, yesterday I had the same "pleasant tiredness" and decided to lie down. I don't remember what happened next, but about an hour and a half later, I found myself still lying on my back. I got up and noticed that, even though it was 91 degrees (I try to avoid air conditioning whenever I'm alone), there was no sweat, which is not typical for me. I wasn't thirsty either.

A few hours later, as I was getting ready to actually go to sleep, I felt an almost overwhelming, but at the same time subtle mental happiness. It's like there's nothing to my life except for (1) the stress/suffering we (working laypeople) call normal and (2) a deeply rooted happiness. Whenever neither of those two are present, I don't even really exist, but there's just some almost automatic patterns playing themselves out, such as urinating, brushing teeth, eating, teaching intermediate algebra emoticon, sitting, hearing, seeing, walking. I guess the way I could clarify the "not really existing" is that I'm not emotionally invested at all.

I woke up 2 hours early this morning from a work-related nightmare, so I had my meditation session earlier than usual. There was a lot of thinking, but my mind is somehow learning to separate a still core from everything else, including the excessive thinking, the restlessness, anxiety, even involuntary physical movements caused by the stress. All of that is viewed sort of like you would view a little cut on your finger: Yes, it's there, and you can see and feel it, but it doesn't really matter much. You just try to keep it reasonably clean and let it be.

As I was sitting there today, applying more energy than before to staying somewhat mindful and not getting carried away in all these thoughts, after a while a blue circle on a black background appeared. My kasina from a couple of months ago! I had never before seen this kasina this clearly with my eyes closed. That was kind of neat. I noted the "neatness" (mental pleasure) more than any other aspect of the experience.

I'm probably going to take a few more months to evaluate, but if the situation stays like this, I'm going to seriously start looking at ordination or at least living at a monastery.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/4/12 4:36 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
The only comment I have today is, with respect to the five hindrances, restlessness is definitely the strongest one right now. I'm not going to go on record right now with the other thing I have been thinking. Maybe a year from now I will.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/5/12 3:32 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I'm going to make a switch today, which will make the title of this journal (temporarily) kind of inappropriate. For now I feel that noting has run its course once again (and advanced my practice once again), and I therefore want to take a few weeks or maybe months to cultivate primarily concentration again. In praxis, I will continue to sit at least 45 minutes at least once a day, and I will actually continue noting when necessary, but my main short term goal is going to be jhāna, so I will focus on the breath and use notes only to make sure my concentration stays on track. When (if) I get a nimitta, I will try to stabilize and go into it rather than note it. To those folks who were reading this hoping I would crank out a couple of paths: Sorry about the delay. emoticon
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/9/12 5:14 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
My practice is going along nicely. I have the "beautiful breath" during and outside of formal meditation a lot.

The reason I'm posting, though, is a pretty interesting lucid dream I just had:

As so often, it was a "dream within a dream" setup. It started out with me being at home watching a documentary on TV about a Buddhist monk of Western origin in Sri Lanka. This was my childhood home from 20 years ago, though. I didn't realize this was a dream and considered it reality. I still failed to realize it was a dream when the scene sort of transitioned to merge the Buddhist monk and the Sri Lankans into my own home, and I interacted with the monk. Then I walked away from the crowd and thought I'd create something in my mind: It was something like an iPad, but I made it from a much more resilient material, and I was mainly playing around with it to explore and indulge in its material properties. At this point, I was aware that this was a lucid dream, but I still thought in "reality" I was sitting on the stairs in my childhood home, and I was just making up that experience with the iPad-like thingy. Well, that thing was made from a flexible and therefore undistructible kind of glass, and I decided to take it further and make that material incredibly flexible, or rather malleable. It got to the point where I would twirl it around, then run around the house with it stretching out and trailing dozens of feet behind be like a ribbon, a very viscous ribbon magically suspended in the air, but still somewhat in motion. The details are not important. It's just something I found kind of neat, mainly because at this time, I was aware that I was basically creating my own reality, my own material, and making it do whatever I wanted it to do. (Remember, I thought I was sitting on the stairs, having a lucid dream; In reality [the level of reality in which I am typing this post] I was in my bed, not sitting in my childhood home, but that part I didn't know about.)

Anyway, as I was running around the house in my dream within a dream, the flexible iPad-ribbon trailing behind me, I noticed how I could clearly tell that the experience was not quite real, because I didn't feel my feet touching the carpet. I made the intention to have the experience become more realistic with regards to tactile sensations on the feet—and boom!—it did. Everything felt totally realistic again. This also answered one of my questions: Before I noticed about the lack of sensation around my feet, I considered forcing myself to wake up, just so that I could determine whether "in reality" I was running around the house and only imagining the strange ribbon, or whether "in reality" I was still sitting on the stairs and only imagining that I was running around the house with the ribbon. I now knew that I was not really running around anywhere.

I felt like I had complete mastery of my experience, in other words I knew I was dreaming, but was confident that I could create any sensations I wanted at any sense door. In other words, I could make my own (holographic, tactile, etc.) movie and actually live it. I actually even had my own (joyfully wondrous) background music playing, just like a real movie. The next thought that came up was to live out some sexual phantasy, but the next moment it occurred to me that I haven't really had any sexual desire to speak of since last Wednesday (which, by the way, is very, very atypical of me—actually unheard of). Then I came up with a little theory and wanted to write it down, but I wanted to write it down in "the real world," not a dream, so I decided to wake up, upon which occurrence I was mildly surprised to find myself not on the stairs in my childhood home, but rather in bed in my current home.

So my little theory is this: Now that I have much less desire for any particular experience, it has become very easy to create experiences within a dream and make them feel as real as I want. It's this law that seems to govern so much of our practice: Whenever you want something, it's not going to happen, but once you have lost the desire for it, it will come easily.

The last interesting point I have noticed is this: Currently it seems that my practice has prompted a big, sudden reduction in desire, but not really a big, sudden reduction in aversion. Even though I practically want no particular stimulation anymore, I still want unpleasant things to go away just as much as I did a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand, though, my aversion in general had gradually, but dramatically lessened over the past several months, whereas my desire for sense pleasures had not. It's like all the metta practice had eroded away most of my hatred, but it took a big cessation to translate that into the same level of reduction of greed, and then this reduction of greed happened all at once.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/12/12 5:22 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I'm still doing the Ajahn Brahm method, still at least one 45 minute session every day. I get the beautiful breath a lot, an "attainment" I've had since long before I ever started vipassana, but the occasional visual nimitta still dissipates after a few seconds or a couple of minutes. I have been noticing something new, though: Quite often during these last few days my concentration has gotten so strong that all outside sounds appeared significantly muffled.

I switched to the meditation bench today because my knees are starting to feel weird, and now that it's nice and warm, I'd rather take a chance with my overall well-being than my knees.

My relationship to sexuality still appears miraculously changed from the event 10 days ago. It's still too early to really say anything with any amount of confidence, but it definitely seems like enigmatic/subtle conceit (or desire for self-validation or whatever you may want to call it) is now more apparent because it is no longer dwarfed by sheer lust.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/25/12 5:15 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Since my last post, nothing "new" has happened, and apparently restlessness and boredom have increased to the level that led to an "irregularity" yesterday, namely that I didn't sit the full 45 minutes. It's hard to describe my attitude right now, but it sort of feels like I want a vacation from meditation.
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
5/26/12 4:24 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
As you may have expected, I have given up my regular 45 minute session for now. This afternoon I was sitting in my chair listening to music, closed my eyes, and the cessations started happening. I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but when I have them, my head drops, usually to the back, and I only "come to" when I notice, "Oops! My head is dropping!" I guess one of the cessations was especially powerful, so after pulling my head back up, I thought this had to have left some sort of pain in the neck, stiff muscle, or whatever you call it when your neck sort of hurts for a few days. [It turns out this fear was unfounded.] Anyway, I decided to lie down on my side instead, and when the next cessation happened, obviously my head didn't drop, so I didn't come out of it with the "Oops!" but instead just stayed in a state of what felt similar to the few jhānas I ever remember having, where there is some sense of being there and even a little bit of what you might call thought, but instead of moving or even thinking a full blown thought, you just remain still and enjoy the bliss. I guess this was my first real experience with phala samāpatti. Rather subtle, of course, like all my fruitions, but it felt more like an "attainment" than an accident. It seemed more deliberate and was definitely more sustained, even if only for maybe a minute or two. (I'm not one for long periods of absorption without investigation. emoticon)
RE: Putting it out there: The journal of an investigation
7/6/12 5:42 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
I think I'm just going to start calling it second path. Frankly I don't think we quite got the whole thing with the paths and the fetters right, and I may very well find myself getting 12th path in a few years. emoticon

Here's what's different since that breakthrough: After SE, and after practicing another few months, I was able to get into a state (for several minutes at a time) where there weren't any thoughts that I could remember, even immediately afterwards, but somehow I always had a pretty good feeling as to how much time had elapsed, so there must have been some subtle or rudimentary mental activity. This also corresponded to how I felt right afterward: I knew I had been meditating, but I couldn't remember anything from the session (after a certain point).

After what I am preliminarily calling second path, this state of "cessation of mental activities" is more complete or total: Now I will close my eyes, and within a few seconds, I'm gone. When I come to, usually about half an hour later, it feels like I can't even tell how much time has elapsed until I get some external reference point, such as looking at my watch or realizing the movie that my family just started watching is already over.

Of course the mind now just wants to go to this new state of cessation rather than the previous, weaker one. I don't know what to make of it all, though, since it doesn't quite seem to come up in the suttas, but then again what do I know emoticon

There is still plenty of greed and hatred, but a severe lack of follow-through on any of it. A beautiful woman will still get my attention, but I can't get myself to believe in the illusion that this pleasant sensation could somehow be made permanent by being with the woman. That kind of thing.