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Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project

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Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/20/18 9:20 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 12/20/18 10:07 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/20/18 11:21 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/20/18 11:28 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/20/18 1:36 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Lewis James 12/21/18 6:19 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/21/18 1:12 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/13/19 4:19 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/20/18 12:34 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/20/18 1:41 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/20/18 4:49 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/20/18 10:20 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/21/18 1:51 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/21/18 4:47 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 12/21/18 2:32 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/21/18 3:59 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/21/18 4:49 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 3:23 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/22/18 8:16 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 11:21 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/22/18 11:05 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 11:18 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 12/22/18 11:32 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/22/18 11:37 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 11:53 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 12/22/18 11:59 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 12:08 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/22/18 12:18 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 12:20 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/22/18 12:25 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 12:37 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 2:59 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 3:22 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 3:41 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 7:41 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 9:18 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 12/25/18 9:42 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 12:38 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 12/25/18 1:22 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 1:42 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 3:32 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/25/18 4:31 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 4:44 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/25/18 4:49 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 6:25 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 9:11 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/26/18 9:31 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 9:25 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 2:59 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/26/18 4:55 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 5:15 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/26/18 5:24 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 5:43 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 5:48 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 5:54 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/26/18 6:07 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 4:42 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 4:51 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 6:16 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/27/18 12:11 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 12/27/18 6:11 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 6:17 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 6:20 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 7:02 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 7:24 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 8:00 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 8:14 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/27/18 12:19 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 1:31 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 3:05 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/27/18 3:21 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 3:39 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 4:13 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/28/18 3:04 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/28/18 3:17 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/28/18 4:09 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/28/18 7:04 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/28/18 7:49 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Lewis James 12/29/18 5:55 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/29/18 7:51 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/29/18 1:47 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/29/18 1:25 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/29/18 2:18 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/29/18 2:17 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/29/18 2:35 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/29/18 2:36 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/29/18 2:40 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/29/18 4:19 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 8:42 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 10:27 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/30/18 11:17 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 12:18 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/30/18 12:49 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 12:57 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/30/18 1:39 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 3:18 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 3:24 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/30/18 4:23 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 4:52 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 5:13 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 5:57 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/31/18 2:19 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/31/18 8:37 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/31/18 12:23 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/31/18 12:39 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/31/18 3:34 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/1/19 6:55 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/1/19 6:53 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/1/19 7:11 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 1/1/19 8:43 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/1/19 9:42 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/1/19 10:26 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/1/19 3:46 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/2/19 5:25 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/3/19 1:26 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/3/19 2:03 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 1/3/19 2:46 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 9:07 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 1/4/19 5:53 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 7:43 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 7:55 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 8:59 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 12:49 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 11:58 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 1/4/19 11:44 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 12:46 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 1/4/19 1:25 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 1:37 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 1:47 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 4:13 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 7:23 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/5/19 10:45 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/5/19 11:08 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/5/19 12:32 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/5/19 2:17 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/5/19 2:22 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/6/19 4:22 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/6/19 10:16 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/6/19 1:49 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/6/19 1:55 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/6/19 3:34 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 1/7/19 12:00 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 2:12 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 6:45 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 8:42 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project shargrol 1/7/19 9:14 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 9:25 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 9:47 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project dave m 1/7/19 11:30 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 1/7/19 12:01 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 2:00 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Raving Rhubarb 1/7/19 2:59 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 3:12 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Anna L 1/8/19 4:38 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 4:56 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 6:33 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Raving Rhubarb 1/8/19 8:07 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 2:29 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 2:54 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 3:17 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 4:28 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 4:43 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Andromeda 1/7/19 3:03 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 3:16 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/7/19 3:46 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 4:14 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje shargrol 1/8/19 5:58 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje Andromeda 1/8/19 6:10 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 7:04 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje Chris Marti 1/8/19 7:29 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 7:45 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje Chris Marti 1/8/19 7:49 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 2:27 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 1/4/19 7:22 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/4/19 8:11 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/30/18 8:50 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/30/18 1:35 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/29/18 2:37 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/27/18 11:15 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 12/25/18 12:32 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 12:43 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/25/18 3:40 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/25/18 4:26 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/22/18 11:41 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 12:16 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/22/18 5:23 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/22/18 6:02 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/22/18 7:36 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/22/18 8:09 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/23/18 2:24 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/23/18 4:41 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/23/18 11:35 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/24/18 1:21 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/24/18 2:07 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/24/18 9:34 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 12/24/18 11:28 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Milo 1/8/19 4:35 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/8/19 4:53 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/9/19 12:27 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/9/19 7:17 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/9/19 7:31 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/9/19 2:42 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 3:26 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 5:28 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 6:04 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 6:40 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 1/10/19 6:46 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 7:01 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 7:38 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 8:44 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 9:26 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 2:20 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/10/19 3:39 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/11/19 9:50 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/11/19 11:10 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 5:52 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 7:36 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 7:43 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 7:53 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 8:02 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 8:24 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 8:56 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 9:13 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 9:20 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 9:21 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 1/12/19 10:33 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 12:32 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 1/12/19 1:24 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 2:34 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Chris Marti 1/12/19 4:17 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 6:31 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 7:03 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/12/19 7:38 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/13/19 2:44 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/14/19 11:10 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/14/19 11:30 AM
Okay, so I will give this a try to help myself be more grounded and aware and maybe see patterns that I might otherwise ignore, running around in circles. I will allow myself to do this in a playful and not necessarily systematic way, to take away some pressure. These notes may include reflections outside of my formal practice as well, and even outside my informal practice, as long as I’m explicit about it. After all, I want my practice to benefit my off cushion life, which is not necessarily all about awakening. I do have other responsibilities.

So, today I tried a guided meditation by Rob Burbea on connecting with one’s energy body. It is part of a recorded reatreat material on the path to the imaginal. This is exactly the sort of thing that I had decided to avoid because that door seemed to be closed to me. Oddly enough, my practice kept pointing to it, and people in another community kept pointing it out to me. Yesterday I realized that I have been repressing my imagination for the sake of survival, but that is no longer necessary, and it’s still alive somewhere beneath all these layers of adjustement. This is a link to the talk in which the guided meditation is embedded:

https://media.dharmaseed.org/cache/DS/20150807-Rob_Burbea-GAIA-energy_body_instructions_1-31525.mp3

I sat down on the cushion and followed the instructions. I have had a few days with some disconnection with my body making my practice more superficial and my yoga less in synch. On the other hand I have come into some other kind of synch, with solutions to problems being dropped at my feet, more or less. The advice to check out this recorded retreat was one example of that, because this was exactly what I needed right now: a way to get back in my body while simultaneously opening up to a more imaginative realm.

First I had some trouble finding the right posture. I took some time to adjust it, because that was recommended in the directions. I accepted that I had that level of distraction and didn’t feel particularly bothered by it. Soon enough, the posture adjusted itself as I found concentration in the imagining practice. It does that from time to time, kind of falls into place on its own volition when I surrender to the buzzing feelings in my hands or other body parts.

I missed a few details in the beginning of the instructions because of my distraction, but I came back to it and felt that I knew what he was talking about, roughly, so I just went with what felt right at the time. He repeated them shortly thereafter and they corresponded with what I had been doing: trying to shift my attention not to parts of my body, but to the whole of it and some space around it. I don’t know how this is supposed to be done, but I have had perceptions of dropping into such a state before, so I went with that. It’s not a very centered attention, more like a widening, and more of letting go than intentional effort. I noticed that the feet were most difficult to include in that notion of the energy body (they are also very stiff, physically; I’m working on that), but at some point I also noticed my right foot heating up.

I think it was somewhere in the beginning of this imagining part that I felt resistence. My body was signalling that there wasn’t enough air. I instantly knew that was resistence. I check my lungs every week because I’m undergoing a hyposensibilization treatment, and my breathing is fine, and I know from experience that my breathing can be very light for a long time and even stop for a moment without any problem. I also recently read a paper where Leigh Brasington said that the breath gets very light before one enters the jhanas. Therefore I just noted the heart raising and the impulse to grasp for air and trusted that it would be OK. I think that was when the first shift in posture came about by itself. That actually made the breathing easier, and I felt a lightness.

There were breathing exercises. I was supposed to imagine the breath coming in and out from different points of departure. First it was in the belly. That was easy in the posture I had come into, and I felt calm. I don’t remember the details very well now (I had to go to the hospital before I was finished making these notes), but I remember that the different points of departure for the breathing made a noticable difference. Whereas the belly was calm, the crown of the head had an energetic feeling to it. There were some blockages resulting in resistence, don’t remember where. I think one of them was in my head, manifesting as a a slight pressure. When I let go of it, the posture adjusted itself on its own volition again. It felt like layers of blockages being released. Breathing along the spine was flowing energy throughout the body. Somewhere along the line my eyelids started flickering and the left part of my upper lip started twitching. These are familiar movements to me. It happens when I get into a more trans like state. I had shiverings all over my body and felt blissful.

There was one exercise involving color. That was difficult for me. Visualization is difficult for me. Most of these exercises could be done by way of kinestetic imagining, but the color exercise wasn’t my thing at this point in time.

At one point I was supposed to make a decicion as to what exercise to return to. That made me hesitate. I don’t remember now what I chose. I know that I picked one of the breathing exercises. I think it was the one departing from the crown of the head. I was able to maintain the concentration despite the hesitation. In the end of the session the instructions told me to open my eyes, and so I did. The flavour of concentration remained. When the guided meditation stopped and the talk continued, I decided to stay in this mode while listening. In doing so, the words and the sounds were more immediate and gave shivering and other energetic sensations. The phone rang in the middle of that. For a brief moment I was annoyed, but then I thought that it is quite possible, after all, to remain concentration while interacting. So I took the phone call. It was from the Swedish Medical Products Agency. I had reported adverse effects of a birth control product and they needed to ask a few questions. I answered the questions and we wished each other a merry christmas. After the call I sat down on the cushion again and continued listening. The shiverings were still there and I felt very relaxed and almost a bit tipsy. I felt the need to start swaying back and forth a bit, so I did. After a while I noticed that my head was also tilting back and forth in a way that together with the swaying of my upper body back and forth made my chin make circles in the air. My breathing was synchronized with this movement. I continued with this for a while. Then I lay down in baby pose and breathed into my lower back. I felt safe.

Afterwards I felt a bit shaky, but in a good way. Something had been released.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/20/18 10:07 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I've heard such good things about Rob Burbea's The Seeing That Frees and so it's been sitting on my coffee table for months along with piles of other unread books. I'll get to it eventually...

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/20/18 11:21 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
There are recordings and/or transcripts from retreats as well. Lots of lots of resources.

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12/20/18 11:28 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I recommend a thorough reading of "The Seeing That Frees" first so that you can get some idea of the objectives Rob is aiming you at. This is like looking at a map before you start a long journey. Then go back and do his recommended practice exercises.

JMHO.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/20/18 12:34 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
By the way, I'm really happy to see you've started your own topic/practice log. This will anchor you here and allow you to express your views and for you and the rest of us to follow your progress more coherently!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/20/18 1:36 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I started with listening to a long introductory talk where he explained his aims quite thoroughly. Then I listened to the talk that introduced this guided meditation. After that I did the meditation.

I will read the book, though.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/20/18 1:41 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
By the way, I'm really happy to see you've started your own topic/practice log. This will anchor you here and allow you to express your views and for you and the rest of us to follow your progress more coherently!


Thank you! I hope I will be able to maintain this log. It took quite some time to find the words. I appreciate the opportunity to get some feedback and correction when needed from meditators with more experience.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/20/18 4:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have decided that if I experiment with other traditions than the kind of insight meditation I usually practice, that is outside the curriculum and thus doesn’t count on its own. I have set up a minimum for my ordinary practice to 20 minutes per day. I usually do more than that, but I find that it is good to have a minimum that allows me to succeed even when conditions are less favorable. Earlier today I have already done the Rob Burbea meditation and 75 minutes of Hatha Yoga and I’m tired, so I chose to do 20 minutes.

I decided to do only one technique for the whole session, namely ”note everything” according to Shinzen Young’s system but with a slight modification that fits my way of perceicing and processing things better. This was the first time I tried that solution. It worked. It solved the problems that I used to have with my kinesthetic way of thinking not really fitting into the system. I also tried spoken labels for the first time. That wasn’t something I had planned. I usually note in a silent way. I probably felt that I needed the extra help with my focus. It did help. When I was about to space out a couple of times, I heard that there were no labels being said, and I quickly found something to note.

That shifting feeling in my spine together with my posture correcting itself on its own volition happened a few times.

My visual imagination seems indeed to subtly wake up. There were mental images popping up. That is new. They seemed rather arbitrary. Sometimes I couldn’t make out what they were. There were some symbols, I believe. Unknown ones. And an hour glass? Some other things that I have already forgotten. Mental images of things that I heard. Orange color; that may be due to the fact that we were supposed to imagine breathing in orange on the yoga class, which I found difficult at the time. The long curly hair belonging to R (visual image accompanied by and follwing the mental smell sensation and the mental physical sensation). I heard inner talk to, which I usually don’t very often. There were a lot of positive feelings, often due to sounds that I heard (my son and my cats), but also bliss coming out of the practice and occasional appreciative thoughts. There were some minor negative feelings as well, such as faint compulsive impulses to tic, but mindfulness has taught me that if I welcome the sensations resulting from me not ticcing, they are actually not unpleasant, and they are very transient Some sounds startled me briefly. A lot of flow (pulsating waves, buzzing vibrations) and rest (felt and seen). The noted sensations were in a broader range than what has been common up til now. Most of the time there were a couple of notions per second, I believe. I felt relaxed.

The chosen technique worked well insofar as it kept me active and in focus without stressing me out. Some rather loud noices and my cat climbing onto me did not take away my focus or tingling sensations. There were a couple of instances, maybe a few, where I was close to spacing out because I was so relaxed, but I remembered noting rest then. There were a few instances where I forgot the words, rendering spokel labels difficult. I found them, though, after brief moments of confusion. I accepted the fact that words don’t always come easy to me and took interest in that fact. This could perhaps be explored more closely. I think I was more relaxed on those occasions, maybe close to sleep but nut dozing off. I didn’t feel tired, but there was a dreamlike flavor to it.

There were lightness.

I feel very relaxed now. Time to go to sleep.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/20/18 10:20 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Good to see you are doing this, Linda. I'll be following along. Looks like you are already getting some good comments and guidance.

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12/21/18 1:51 AM as a reply to Milo.
Thank you! I appreciate it.

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12/21/18 6:19 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hi Linda! If you're interested in reading Seeing That Frees a few of us have been discussing it over on the /r/streamentry community:

https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/8k2ril/community_seeing_that_frees_discussion_parts_1/

We've just finished the last chapter, but there are summaries, notes and discussions which might help you along.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/21/18 1:12 PM as a reply to Lewis James.
Thankyou Lewis! That may come in handy.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/21/18 4:47 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I forgot to mention some details from my energy body meditation. At one point I had the feeling that my hands were directed towards me instead of from me. Then I felt that there were two of me, sitting in front of each other, mirroring each other. The hand thing reappeared later as well, after the phone call that had disrupted the experience.

Today has been hectic. I’m sitting on a train now. I was starting to have some motion sickness, in spite of the medication I took to prevent it, but then I remembered that I’m supposed to be mindful of whatever arises not only on the cushion, so I started concentrating with a wide focus, instead of resisting the impressions, and wow, that really makes a difference.

I think I have found a way to turn on that kind of concentration. I hope it sticks and lets itself be applied in a variety of situations. I’ll have to practice. It’s difficult to explain what I do. It’s like learning how to control the inner muscles of your ears to open and and close something in there. You just know what to do.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/21/18 2:32 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
 It’s like learning how to control the inner muscles of your ears to open and and close something in there. You just know what to do.

That's a good analogy. Tuning attention requires subtlety, not too much effort nor too little. I like to think of it as holding a bird in your hand: too tight and you crush its delicate bones, but too loose and it flies away. There has to be a brightly aware but relaxed sensitivity and responsiveness.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/21/18 3:59 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Yeah, holding a bird feels about right.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/21/18 4:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m not at home, but seeing a partner that I hadn’t seen for six weeks, and it’s his birthday, so I meditated for only 20 minutes this night. I used ”noting everything”, which made it easy to find and keep focus.

Maybe I’m too happy to awaken? There is no suffering in my meditation, no angst, no drama. I just tune into things and feel good. The pulsating waviness has become very reliable. It turns up almost immediately. I have noticed that it comes together with the purple swirls on my black screen forming a circle. That is a wellknown pattern by now. I have seen that purple circle before, during sex. The waves come and go, though, and so do the swirls and circles and all other tingles and buzzes. I trust them to come back, and they do. In the meantime I note other sensations.

There were golden brightness mixed in with the purple, almost like sun.

At a certain stage I was wordless again. I know how to recognize and distinguish sensations from each other, but the words are not there.

When I opened my eyes after the session it felt like I just had great sex. The same goofy smile and the same softness of the world and the same sense of things not being quite solid but pulsating. I took a moment to cherish the feeling and merge with the pulsating. I circled my spine a bit and released some pleasant shivers.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 3:23 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This night I meditated in my dream, practicing the method of noting everything. I don’t remember much of it, but I remember that mental images were part of it. In my daily life I also find it easier than before to access visual memory. That is a welcome change.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 8:16 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Maybe I’m too happy to awaken? There is no suffering in my meditation, no angst, no drama. I just tune into things and feel good.

There's nothing wrong with feeling good but it seems that's not satisfying to you. Maybe you should do vipassana. Investigate that which arises, whatever it might be.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 11:21 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Maybe I’m too happy to awaken? There is no suffering in my meditation, no angst, no drama. I just tune into things and feel good.

There's nothing wrong with feeling good but it seems that's not satisfying to you. Maybe you should do vipassana. Investigate that which arises, whatever it might be.



Maybe it isn’t satisfying me. Yeah, true. I get the feeling that there must be something more to it than this. If pleasant shivers were my goal, I might as well take some pill or have sex.

That’s what I’m trying to do. Shinzen Young’s mindfullness system is mainly based on vipassana, if I’m not mistaken.

I think I’m in a phase of developing reliable access to what has before been my top performance, and perhaps that is a good opportunite to really explore what is happening. I’m not really sure what to do, though. Of cource it is impermanent. Neurotransmitters eventually run out. Even if they didn’t, (apart from the fact that neverending pleasant shivers would pretty soon be boring, and apart from the fact that the transient character of the sensations is exactly what makes them a rapture), climate change and oppression cannot and should not be ignored. Escaping into blissful states isn’t going to solve anything in the long run, and trying to fool oneself that it is will build up anxiety, wich means that it’s not satisfactory. But that’s obvious. I suppose there are more subtle qualities to detect? As for the part of not being me or mine, I don’t really understand. Why would I believe that it were personal in the first place? There is no me in this. I thought that was the point? To temporarily dissolve what is ”me”, to let go of it for a while? Isn’t that what draws some people to it and repells others who have a stronger need of being in control? So what is it that I’m supposed to do? There is nothing there to discover except for sensations that come and go, increase and decrease, move around, spread or narrow down, flicker in and out of attention, entail different flavours depending on deepness of concentration and degrees of clinging/resisting vs equanimity, etc., is it?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 11:05 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Are you still reading MCTB2? There is a path to awakening presented in the book that you might be interested in.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 11:18 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I am. I’m currently on chapter 30. Now I’m curious. Would you rather let me discover it on my own or would you like to share your thoughts?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 11:32 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
One of the advantages of using the instructions in  MCTB2 (it's basically just Mahasi style vipassana) is that it's what the largest number of us here have practice experience with. So you may get the most useful feedback for your practice log if that is what you're primarily writing about. It's also a sensible place to start working in a systematic way and it seems to work well for a lot of people. It was mostly all I practiced for years.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 11:37 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I think you'll get a better description from the book. I used the methods referred to in it, as did a lot of practitioners who've frequented DhO over the years. MCTB2 is a huge store of information about the Theravada path but it centers around the notion that one can awaken using the methods it describes. These are what is usually called Mahasi noting practice.

More references:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mahasi/wheel298.html

https://buddhismnow.com/2013/09/12/vipassana-as-taught-by-the-mahasi-sayadaw-of-burma/ 


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017I22E1A/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1


RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 11:41 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Well, that itself is an important insight. Now you can let go of that bliss in your meditation and move on to more refined concentration AND you can incorporate what you learned already in dry vipassana. All in MCTB2 and other places.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 11:53 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks, both of you. I’ll keep reading. I have learned Shinzen Young’s unified mindfullness system and use that, with some adjustments that fit me better. I’m not sure that changing the noting system would make that much of a difference. They seem to basically cover the same phenomena but from slightly different points of departure. I can see that certain situations may need different kinds of noting, though, and my plan has been to to do whatever works in a given situation. I’ll read the links and reflect more on this.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 11:59 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I *think* shinzen bases his system on Mahasi noting but the terminology is different and so that's where things get confusing when trying to communicate. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 12:08 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
That could be the case. I think it’s based on more than one system, though, and customized with the intention of enabling neuroscientific research with FMRI. I’m in contact with some of Shinzen’s students and need to communicate with them as well. I have made it to this point without any noting system at all, though, so it’s not like I’m formly rooted in it.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 12:16 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
Well, that itself is an important insight. Now you can let go of that bliss in your meditation and move on to more refined concentration AND you can incorporate what you learned already in dry vipassana. All in MCTB2 and other places.



Sorry, I didn’t see your comment until now for some strange reason.

Hm, yeah, maybe. So what next? Just find myself new states to first enjoy and then deconstruct? Or do I need more deconstruction first? What is there to deconstruct?

I’m not sure I’m capable of dry vipassana. I seem to enter shamatha jhanas whether I meditate or not.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 12:18 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Shinzen Young uses a fusion approach to his practice, mostly vipassana and Zen:

https://www.shinzen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/AnOutlineOfPractice_ver2.5.pdf

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 12:20 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yup. And I kind of like the fusion.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 12:25 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Cool - go for it!

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12/22/18 12:37 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
:-)

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 2:59 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Did 30 minutes this evening. Wanted to do more.

Was in a rather bad mood before sitting due to unexpected complications. Was able to find concentration almost immediately, though, and the bad mood disappeared. Restful. Noted the whole grid. Kept concentration. It was more than access concentration. I know the difference. Saw mental images clearly. Not only visual memories, but also imagined stuff. Drawings in detail that I have never made. I can no longer say that I have no visual imagination. Don’t remember everything. It was like dreaming although I was awake. Felt very vivid at the time, and was noted, but didn’t stay in conscious memory. For a moment words disappeared. I noted that anyway, with a wordless note. I noted wordlessly that I was in that wordless state, whatever it is. Since there are words for other experiences, I’m thinking that I’m not very likely to mix them up anyway.

Post meditation still deeply relaxed. Not tired, just relaxed. Slight headache, but doesn’t bother me.

Mabe I’ll meditate some more after R has gone to sleep.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 3:22 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Forgot: for a while I felt like I was moving in space, at a high velocity.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 5:23 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I'm somewhat in the same situation I think. Shamatha is easier for me than vipassana. From what I am reading here it seems to be the opposite for the majority. Not to worry though, MCTB2 suggests you pick whichever you are stronger with and work with that then go for the other, then combine them to a fusion of the two. So start from where you are as I understand it.

So, about what to do now: MCTB2 suggests you have a couple of options: try and deepen the state you are working with, try and move to the next one, or use the things you learned to gain wisdom. Could be you have gotten what you can from the 1st and 2nd vipasssana jhanas for the time being. Also, nothing wrong with enjoying these states. I do think noting the more and more subtle flaws of these states is important and helps us mature on the off cushion part of the path too.

As to not being able to do dry vipassana, what happens if you keep your eyes open, do walking meditation, etc?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 6:02 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
I'm somewhat in the same situation I think. Shamatha is easier for me than vipassana. From what I am reading here it seems to be the opposite for the majority. Not to worry though, MCTB2 suggests you pick whichever you are stronger with and work with that then go for the other, then combine them to a fusion of the two. So start from where you are as I understand it.

So, about what to do now: MCTB2 suggests you have a couple of options: try and deepen the state you are working with, try and move to the next one, or use the things you learned to gain wisdom. Could be you have gotten what you can from the 1st and 2nd vipasssana jhanas for the time being. Also, nothing wrong with enjoying these states. I do think noting the more and more subtle flaws of these states is important and helps us mature on the off cushion part of the path too.

As to not being able to do dry vipassana, what happens if you keep your eyes open, do walking meditation, etc?


Yeah, seems like it. Weird, because I have ADHD and thus should have trouble concentrating. I thought I had. In fact, I had no idea this was concentration. I just knew it had to be some kind of altered consciousness. I’m trying to do what you are suggesting. It seems to be what works for me.

I have had my strongest jhana experiences with my eyes open and with no (conscious, at least) intention to meditate. Of course I can do noting in the midst of my everyday life without getting into jhanas, but I wouldn’t know if it is meditation then or just noting. What makes meditation meditation? Oh yeah, knowledge of the three characteristics, in the case of insight meditation. But in how many ways am I supposed to come to the same conclusions? Like ”Oh yeah, this sensation is impermanent too, and this one”. Oh, really now? Couldn’t see that one comin’... Yup, I’m hoping that the more subtle nuances will make it more interesting.

I tried doing some quick noting in the doctor’s waiting room, and bright dots started playing in the air. It was fun but not particularly dry.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/22/18 7:36 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I think that at that point your work becomes to actualize that insight. What I mean is we can have these momentary experiences and then create an intellectual object that we come back to and can say "yep I know this or that is impermanent" but we're not really experiencing that in real time outside of meditation. Instead we're referring to the mental objects we created from our momentary experiences. That's a subtle difference but I think a key one.

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12/22/18 8:09 PM as a reply to Milo.
That and progressively freeing yourself from more of the "fetters."

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12/23/18 2:24 AM as a reply to Milo.
You are right, of course. Thanks, I needed that reminder. I do know the difference. I recently realized that the compulsive urge of my tics is transient and that it was resistence that created the suffering. If I instead of trying to repress it, or act upon it, just focus on and fully embrace the sensations following it (like ”Bring it on!l) they very quickly dissolve. It is nothing there, really.

Also, I realized that what I have been resisting is probably the feeling of ”solid” things being not solid, because touching things usually triggers my tics. It coincides with the time span that reveals that the sensations are oscillating.

It’s much easier for me now to just stop ticking without compulsion building up. I still tick out of habit, though, but I’m working on it. My tics were a huge obstacle for me, so this is extraordinary. More discoveries like that would be most welcome.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/23/18 4:41 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m hoping that Shinzen Young’s focus on expansion and contraction helps me not to neglect the insight work, because it seems to me that it focuses on the insight aspects of the jhanas.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/23/18 11:35 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I sat 30 minutes late yesterday night. Was too tired to keep the noting going consistently. Must see to it that I find the time to do it before I’m too tired.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/24/18 1:21 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Reflections:

It was only a couple of months ago that I took up a systemtic daily practice and started to apply techniques. Before I just sat down to breath very slowly and get myself into another mindset, which happens rather automatically and quickly if you slow down your breathing enough. I don’t get what people are saying about how sitting down with your own mind is so disconserting and chaotic. In daily life my mind has been very speeded, sure, with thoughts going on in many different directions and feelings and sensations arising and competing for attention. But I’m aware of that. I’m aware of how my perceptions trigger certain thoughts and emotional reactions, how my emotional reactions trigger certain thoughts and sensations, how my emotions and thoughts affect what perceptions come into focus, etc. I have worked on that for many years on my own outside of meditative practice, because I don’t want my actions to be controled by automatic thoughts or emotional reactions triggered by some old trauma. I have been observing my thoughts and emotional reactions and impulses and perceptions for as long as I can remember. Don’t people do that? Then how do they manage life?

When I sit down to meditate, my mind is mostly calm. There is nothing overwhelming going on there. If I’m upset when I sit down, it calms down very quickly. Monkey mind takes vacation. If I want to observe monkey mind in action applying meditative techniques in a systematic way, then I need to take my meditative practice into the businesses of my daily life. So I do that. That reduces the amount of stress significantly. It also stops monkey mind. I guess what I need to do is increasing the frequency of these ”micro hits” as Shinzen Young calls them, and also make them less micro, to be more mindful in my everyday life. Not in a way that makes me solipsistic, of course, but enough to be less attached to (personally invested in) thoughts and feelings and sensations off the cushion. I also need to do this when I feel the least inclined to do it, because that’s probably when I need it the most.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/24/18 2:07 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m watching Daniel Ingram at the Robert Wright show right now, https://youtu.be/V0cXqFYlm2I, and have gotten to the part where Daniel talks about how the senses are intertwined in our thoughts, and I feel like ”YES!” I knew it. That’s what I have been trying to explain to people who claim that thoughts are either images or inner talk. No, they are not. At least mine are definitely not. I was especially relieved to hear Daniel say that the expected physical sensation of touching the glass happens at the glass before you actually touch it. That’s where that sensation is, not on a visual screen or around your ears, and it is part of the thought process. I’m kinestetic, so the physical sensation aspects of thoughts are very accessable to me, and people have been telling me that these are not thoughts. I knew they were. Other senses are in that mix, too, but for me the physical sensation and the smell are often the most obvious ones. I even intentionally use them to access other aspects of my memory or imagination. And YES, the awareness of the rain is where the rain is. Yes! 

And I do know that the relief and the petty triumfant emotional reaction I’m having to this is me clinging on to personal investments in a self that is a mere illusion. I see the irony in this and find it rather amusing. It is vanity and very irrational, yet a part of the human condition that I have compassion for. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
Answer
12/24/18 9:34 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Due to the holidays I had barely time for my minimim of 20 minutes today (or yesterday, to be more precise). I did that, though, and I managed to keep my focus despite noice and quarrel around me. I also did some micro hits during the day, which reduced the amount of stress radically.

I still find myself ticking out of habit although I know now that it is completely unnecessary. It is only my resistance/craving that creates the suffering. No real discomfort kicks in if I just embrace the feeling. Thankfully, it is now easy for me to stop on a dime as soon as I notice what I’m doing and remember that the compulsive urge has no me to torture and is very transient. Thankfully, again, the process of realizing all this moves along faster and more effortlessly now. There may still be backlashes, though. These things tend to come and go like waves.

I look forward to doing longer sits. If my health allows it, I’ll do it tomorrow (today...), but I have had foods that tend to knock me out. My (for health reasons) very stric diet doesn’t contain much of the food that we normally have on the Swedish Christmas smorgasbord, so I cheated just a little bit.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/24/18 11:28 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda, nice to see you are making progress. I think it's interesting to see where our different backgrounds and mental makeups play into our strengths and weaknesses in meditation. That's neat that you are able to access some of the sensory stuff so easily. Looking forward to reading more.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
Answer
12/25/18 3:41 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I think you'll get a better description from the book. I used the methods referred to in it, as did a lot of practitioners who've frequented DhO over the years. MCTB2 is a huge store of information about the Theravada path but it centers around the notion that one can awaken using the methods it describes. These are what is usually called Mahasi noting practice.

More references:

[url=]https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mahasi/wheel298.html[url=]

https://buddhismnow.com/2013/09/12/vipassana-as-taught-by-the-mahasi-sayadaw-of-burma/ 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017I22E1A/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1



I will give this a shot. It seems to be more precise and thus more helpful in the process of developing insight insofar as it makes the gradual progressing visible. I need that kind of precision to move forward. I guess I needed to come to this conclusion by myself. Thank you for your patience!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
Answer
12/25/18 7:41 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Okay, so yeah, definitely more precise and more flexible to my needs. I see now why you recommended it, Chris. I decided to try the Mahasi noting style while performing ordinary tasks, just to see what it can offer.

Choosing the labels according to a new system and with a language barrier entailed some confusion, which was expected. Since most of my available resources are in English, it is probably more convenient for me to do my labelling in English as well, but there are some wordfinding difficulties related to being a non-native speaker. Hopefully I will overcome this barrier as I find labels that are both general and precise with regard to my needs. Please feel free to correct me if I’m going about this the wrong way!

Another challenge was the rate of arisings and passings in the task. My executive dysfunction involves both advantages and drawbacks in this respect. On the plus side, I’m already to a relatively large extent aware of the complexity of everyday tasks. On the minus side, this makes these tasks so overwhelming that applying labelling to them in a skillful way would probably require slowing down the process substantially. I will have to make conscious decisions as to when I do this, not least out of concern for the people around me. Lucklily, I was alone today.

While most people are able to perform such tasks more or less automatically, I need to pay attention more closely to precisely what I’m doing. One step doesn’t necessarily trigger the next step, so I need to keep track of what I’m doing and make conscious decisions in order to perform the task. The Mahasi noting made me realize that all these tiny decisions are not conscious enough, because I can very easily be distracted from the task with every new arising of an intention. Intentions tend to be triggered by sensate experience, and my attention wanders when off the cushion. Therefore I see clearly that there is an urgent need for developing insight into what is going on in and around these tasks. Lack of insight creates suffering. There is still much to be learned about cause and effect in order to deal with everyday behaviour in a skillful way. I seem to have skipped a few steps there, to say the least. I did suspect that, because I stumbled over the A&P without putting in the systematic work, which seems to be the case for many neurodivergent people.

Because of all this processing I have to do when performing ordinary tasks, there is so much going on at a mental level in these tasks. No wonder that focusing on a more sensate level on the cushion and in yoga is such a healing experience. I need to maintain that to stay grounded. I need to work with the mental level too, though, because that is a major source of suffering that affects not only me but also my output on the world (which I will for pragmatic end ethical reasons treat as something that exists and matters outside the vipassana practice).

I noticed a tendency to get lost in stories when focusing on the mental level, but the noting seems to offer help with that. I can note it as analyzing, and as fantasy and/or planning when I find myself imagining writing this log, for instance. This helped me to drop the intention and regain focus on the task at hand.

I noticed that there are so many intentions arising in my daily life that I need to elaborate more distinct terms for labelling different ways of handling them. This is probably related to my ADHD and Tourette’s. I need to choose more carefully as to how I deal with these intentions. I noted intentions to the best of my ability, and I noted will when I acted on them. I noticed that I have a tendency to avoid intentions that arise even though acting on the intentions would be skillful. I already knew theoretically and intuitively that I do this, but I need to note it when it arises. By doing so, I was able to abort the avoidance and act on the intention that was originally avoided. I think I will note conscious choices of dropping an intention as abort. I’m thinking that avoidance is a special case of intention. It’s a defence mechanism, so it is often unconscious, but it can be made conscious. Does this make sense?

I will have to distinguish clearly when I apply vipassana and when I’m ”off duty” to avoid mixing the insight practice with content and every day wisdom. I’m thinking that vipassana is welcome to seep into my everyday life to some extent, as long as it doesn’t make me solipsistic. Its clarity of perception is needed to increase mindfullness in daily life. The content of everyday rumination needs to stay out of vipassana, though.

My preliminary plan now is to alternate between noting on a sensate level to stay grounded and on a mental level specifically to work on everyday challenges regarding avoidance and other defense mechanisms that may arise. I work on tics (from Tourette’s) as well, but the sensate level takes care of that. These are my priorities right now. I may be tempted to enjoy the pleasurable aspects of jhanas as well and I know myself well enough not to forbid it (I need to handle myself with a compassionate low-arousal approach), but it will have to be outside of the curriculum and clearly demarcated. It may be a treat that I offer myself when there is sufficient time for play after finishing my duties.

A practical question: some intentions in everyday life that arise are better left aborted, but there are also intentions that need to be dropped momentarily to maintain focus on the task at hand although it would be a good thing to take up that intention and act on it somewhat later. How do I deal with that if choose to apply vipassana to the task to gain insight? Should I note that as planning and then drop the intention and retain focus on the subtask at hand, and then hope for the intention to pop up again when the time is right? Will that put the intention on stand-by, so to speak?

Using I-language feels a bit ridiculous in this context, but this is after all a personal log, and for now I’m kind of stuck with some conditionings affecting the construction of me. It would be little point in exchanging experiences if we didn’t believe that individual experiences from our unique positions matter, right?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 9:18 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Also, knowing that I have issues with avoidance, I believe it’s essential that I implement insights with regard to this in my everyday life, as an ongoing mission. I need to change the infrastructure that conditions my behaviour. Morality training remains a priority too. I will not allow meditation to become yet another escape. I may need some careful reminding with regard to this, and some reality check. My progress should be noticable in daily life. The five spiritual faculties should be helpful here. I need to come back to this section regularly as a reality check. I should make a habit out of it. On a more mundane level, I need to make a habit of intentionally doing things that I’m inclined to avoid doing but need to do. Avoidance is not my only problem, but it is a major one. I can see how it creates other problems as well. If I avoid taking my medicine or cooking meals or going to bed in due time, my concentration or my energy falters. If my concentration falters, I tend to be more distracted and thus avoid eating or sleeping, which leads to my energy faltering. If my energy falters, I tend to forget to take my medicine, which leads to faltering concentration. The downsides of ADHD in a nutshell... I have worked intensively with balancing faith and wisdom for the last years, although I didn’t have access to this framework. Without the proper amount of energy and concentration, balanced faith and wisdom doesn’t get much done, though. I have struggled a lot with balancing energy and concentration, developing many strategies for this, with varying success. Mindfullness seems to be the missing key component to deal with this in a balanced way. Mahasi style vipassana noting may be just the right tool do develop the clarity, precision and presence to the moment required.

When doing formal insight practice, the five spiritual factors are probably helpful as well, but the section on the seven factors of awakening seems more precise. I will go back to this section over and over again to set up my formal practice. When this has settled somewhat, I will do the same thing with the book Practical Insight Meditation. After that, Manual of Insight is next in the list.

All rightie. I have a plan. Scary. Please don’t let me avoid this! The responsibility is mine, of course (I’m using everyday language now, outside vipassana; within vipassana I will deconstruct the sense of me and mine, but that doesn’t entitle me to avoid personal responsibilities outside the practice, not even with regard to the practice - jeeze, this sure requires a fair amount of abstract thinking), but I will probably need help.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 9:42 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

All rightie. I have a plan. Scary. Please don’t let me avoid this! 

Good to hear you've got a plan. Let us know if you need a nudge in any particular direction.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 12:32 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
If you maintain a reasonably frequent practice diary here and post about your practice experiences honestly and in some detail then we can help in a lot of ways.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 12:38 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

All rightie. I have a plan. Scary. Please don’t let me avoid this! 

Good to hear you've got a plan. Let us know if you need a nudge in any particular direction.



Thanks! I’ll try, although I often find it difficult to know what to ask for.

For the moment, I think I’ll start with the basics. I’ll try the noting system in a formal sit. First I’ll use the breath sensations in the abdomen as my default focus of attention, but I’ll be careful to note anything that draws my attention away from it. Then I’ll probably try out some other possible focuses, in other sits, to see what difference it makes. I have often used the tingling in my hands as focus of attention, but maybe that tempts me to get lost in the pleasure and neglect the insight work.

Need to eat first. I’m contemplating whether respecting the wish of one of my cats to continue sleeping in my lap is avoidance or compassion. That’s a very temporary problem, though. ;-)

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 12:43 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
If you maintain a reasonably frequent practice diary here and post about your practice experiences honestly and in some detail then we can help in a lot of ways.



I’ll certainly try. I appreciate it.

I think I needed to be clearer about my goals before I could see what my needs were. I was trying to run in all directions at once. That doesn’t work, obviously.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 1:22 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yeah, experiment to see what works. Pleasurable sensations can be extremely rewarding for insight work precisely because they present an opportunity to investigate how the mind tries to chase them like a puppy bounding after a ball. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 1:42 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Yeah, experiment to see what works. Pleasurable sensations can be extremely rewarding for insight work precisely because they present an opportunity to investigate how the mind tries to chase them like a puppy bounding after a ball. 



I was thinking that too but forgot to write it. That is exactly what I had in mind. It might be good to have a more grounding routine to fall back on as well, though.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
Answer
12/25/18 3:32 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I set the timer to 30 minutes to try out the noting using sensations of breathing in the abdomen as default focus of attention.

More challenging than unified mindfullness system, renders struggle with attention more visible. Noted ”analyzing” and ”planning” and occasional ”hearing” and ”visual” (”seeing” seems more logical, but ”visual” was the word that appeared) and ”colour” but kept bringing my attention back to the rising and falling of the breath.

Initial challenge: noting affecting breathing. Noting pauses was aborted due to excessive effort forcing breath. I think I lacked the mindfulness to note these hindrances as they arose. Shifted focus more to sensate level instead of the concepts associated with the labels. Noted my spine shifting as a result of this (noted as ”shift”); this was something that reappeared every time (?) I adjusted my noting to something more in tune with my sensate experiences. I noted ”pleasure” from this.

After I while I found that clarity diminished in the center of my attention whereas more peripheral sensations appeared more clear. I noted this as widening as I widened my focus to breath into the more peripheral parts of my body. Noting rising and falling didn’t seem quite accurate anymore, so instead I noted expanding and contracting. Shifting spine and rapture. After noting this, I brought my attention back to the breathing with its expansions and contractions. Sometimes I needed to shift back to rising and falling again because my focus was narrowing, sometimes following distraction, sometimes seemingly because of a wavelike pattern in the nature of attention, how it widens and narrows. When I managed to be attentive to these shifts, paradoxically the wider focus appeared to stabilize. I was sort of tricked into focusing on my hands a couple of times, though, having the sensation that I was breathing with my hands. I failed to note this shift, but as I noticed it I redirected my attention back to breathing into a wider area of my body, fitting the labels expansion and contraction, which felt more accurate at the time than rising and falling of breath in my andomen. Sometimes it felt like breathing occured not only in my body, but also around it. Widening of focus was accompanied by purple swirls spiralling on my black screen. I noted this as spiralling and brought my attention back to the breathing.

There were instances where i felt lightheadedness and noticed that I was breathing very lightly. I noted this as lightness.

During the wider focus there were instances where my proprioception played tricks on me. A few times I had the sensation that my hands were turned towards me instead of away from me. At one point I had the sensation that my arms were crossed. I noted these instances as proprioception (that was the word that came to me, despite its length) and redirected my attention to the sensations of breathing. There were also instances of my hands dissolving into energy flow, which I noted as dissolving. I redirected my attention to the sensations of breathing.

There were instances of something that I failed to note because I couldn’t find a word. Suggestions are very welcome. It was the sensation of being drawn backwards from something, increasing the distance between... I don’t know what, really. The subjectice awareness and its original position in space? Awareness didn’t really move, though. It’s more like an increase of depth. Like widening but with regard to another dimension. Deepening? I don’t know. Focal deepening. Yeah, something like that.

I failed to note intentions; this will be a future challenge. Maybe I have difficulties in shifting between sensate and mental experiences, I don’t know.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 3:40 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
That all sounds good, Linda. It might be beneficial to break this down into a series of smaller goals to make it manageable.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 4:26 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
It might be beneficial to break this down into a series of smaller goals to make it manageable.


Yup. As usual. This is a constant struggle for me. I tend to be fascinated by complex interplays and then struggle with the entanglement. This happens over and over again in my research as well. I need to practice on breaking things down into series of smaller goals, but this is also where I might need help. I don’t know where to start. I guess the section on the seven factors of awakening could be helpful in teasing out what is more fundamental and then progress gradually from there. 

I was planning to do more sits today, but so much time has been spent on reflecting and decision making and reading back and forth that it’s now late night and I’m exhausted. I sense that I’m on the right track, though. 

Thanks for your input! I appreciate it.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
Answer
12/25/18 4:31 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
A tactic that helped me at the beginning of my vipassana noting practice was to focus my attention on just one object and try to observe it as directly and thoroughly as I could. For me, this tactic worked best on touch sensations. I would sit with two fingers, one from each hand, touching each other and try to observe that touch sensation. It isn't just one solid sensation, of course, and over time I was able to trace the transitions that would happen as the sense and idea of the touch would fade and return, fade and return (arise and pass away). I could eventually trace the steps the mind would follow in that process - this is called dependent origination and is probably the most fundamental insight in Buddhism.

Just a suggestion to try if you're struggling to stay focused on the stream of objects while you meditate.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
Answer
12/25/18 4:44 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
A tactic that helped me at the beginning of my vipassana noting practice was to focus my attention on just one object and try to observe it as directly and thoroughly as I could. For me, this tactic worked best on touch sensations. I would sit with two fingers, one from each hand, touching each other and try to observe that touch sensation. It isn't just one solid sensation, of course, and over time I was able to trace the transitions that would happen as the sense and idea of the touch would fade and return, fade and return (arise and pass away). I could eventually trace the steps the mind would follow in that process - this is called dependent origination and is probably the most fundamental insight in Buddhism.

Just a suggestion to try if you're struggling to stay focused on the stream of objects while you meditate.



Thanks! I’ll try that next time. I have used this focus before but without the noting. It is a focus that comes naturally to me, so it might be a good idea to add the noting to it to make it a vipassana practice instead of getting absorbed by the pleasure involved in the tingling sensations. And when my practice is strong enough, I might try to add separate samatha practice sessions at a different time of the day to see what works. But that is a later question. Right now I need to get accustomed to vipassana.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/25/18 4:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Right now I need to get accustomed to vipassana.

Yep!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 6:25 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Right. So. I set the timer to one hour, but I missed the signal, and now my neck hurts a bit. I think I sat for about 90 minutes, but I struggled with concentration and staying awake for the latter part. I was probably dozing off when the alarm went off. My ADHD medication lost its effect somewhere mid sitting, I believe. I should plan better. The first part of the sit was really cool, though. I’ll write about it, but first I’ll take care of the mammal and get some light and air. It’s twenty past one in the afternoon here in Sweden, and the sun is shining. That is something to cherish at this time of the year when there are just a few hours of daylight. I usually miss it, so this is mundane progress.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 9:11 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
My attention varied a lot during the session. There were moments when I could follow it shifting between my left index finger and my right index finger about five times per second, but that would only last about a second. I noted ”left”, ”right”, and ”shift”. There was a wow feeling to it that I failed to note. The shifting felt like something moving, very tangibly, and it wasn’t me that was moving. It felt similar to what happens in my spine sometimes during sits. Mostly I could only notice and note this shift once or twice per second if at all. That clarity of perception was more of an exception than a rule. I was distracted many times, and I used the note ”feel” to redirect me to feeling the sensations between my touching fingers.

For a while it felt like I could almost control the shifting, but I’m thinking that I probably wasn’t. I probably anticipated the shifts, which I failed to note, and therefore managed to be present to the arisings and passings, because the shifting wasn’t my doing.

One thing that distracted me was the urge to get up and write about the sensations immediately. I redirected my attention to feeling, and then I thought that I should have noted the intention and the planning. I thought about what labels were most suitable and got lost there for a brief moment, then realized what I was doing, noted it as analyzing and redirected my attention back to feeling. Analyzing (comparing the situation to my usual patterns of procrastination due to distracting impulses) and planning happened a few times. I also noticed that I felt the need to impress, and I noted that as vanity and redirected my attention back to feeling.

Another thing that drew my attention was the purple swirls on my black screen. They had a hypnotic quality to them. Redirecting my attention back to feeling the touch between my fingers required discipline. I noted ”spiralling”, ”purple”, ”swirls”, or ”circle”, depending on what word appeared first, and then ”feel”. I managed to avoid getting drawn in by the spirals but I had to make an effort most of the times.

At one time I had the sensation that the attention, or the thing observing or whatever, was a stable thing located between my fingers whereas my fingers were unstable or in motion. That startled me, and I noted ”scared”. The sensation went away and I redirected my attention to feeling.

The concentration ability sort of followed a wavelike curve in the first part of the session. In the very beginning, the peaks were more frequent. Then there were longer waves. I noted ”dullness” and ”clear” and ”rapture”. Then it sort of bottomed out with occasional peaks of some concentration. I noted ”torpor” and spaced out and dozed off. Somewhere along the line my right leg was geeting numb and torpid. I’m probably overly cautious here, but I have had some trouble with chronic pain before so I chickened out and moved my toes and then my entire leg and finally stood up and walked a bit on the spot. I did this without opening my eyes and tried to maintain my focus of attention using the noting, with some but very limited success. I meditated standing up for a while. Then I sat down on the chaise lounge next to me instead of on the yoga mat and cushion. I was able to track the attention wandering between the left and right finger a bit again. That was before the attention curve bottoming out, though. In this position my spine was not as straight as before, and it made me sleepy. Dullness and torpor was noted. I tried to straighten my spine several times, noted as straightening. Still, I spaced out several times and dozed off for microseconds a few times. It made me nod, which woke me up again. I may have dozed off somewhat longer too, or maybe I was just very close to sleep. I struggled to redirect my attention to the index fingers touching, but it was difficult. I wasn’t as present to the feeling as I would like to be. My cats started fighting next to me. That didn’t really help, but at least it kept me awake. Finally I came to realize that more than an hour must have passed, so I opened my eyes and stretched and had a look. In doing so, I noticed that there was a baseline of buzzing in my hands despite the torpor and really lousy attention.

Apparently, steadying the attention without embracing pleasure tingles tires me, which should come as no surprise since I have ADHD. I need to take my medicine and take care of the mammal in other ways to balance energy and concentration. I have a history of falling asleep when concentrating. I’m hoping that it’s possible to train the brain to stay focused for a longer time and more consistently, although attention will probably always follow a wavelike curve. It’s not a solid thing. Well, duh, it’s impermanent.

Should I do shorter sits and then gradually make them longer? Or should I do long sits and be stubborn about it? Try both?

As for the numbness, I’ll try double yoga mats. If that doesn’t work, I’ll bring the cushion to the chaise lounge. I want to be able to sit for a long time without disruption. How do other meditators handle their legs falling asleep? With equanimity? For me it takes quite a while to get them to function again afterwards if I let them go totally numb. Should I just get used to that? And note the sensations as unsatisfactory? Otherwise I don’t mind sitting for a long time. I can sit in my bed for hours, but then my spine isn’t straight, so that’s why I’m trying to sit on a cushion on a yoga mat on the floor instead.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
Answer
12/26/18 9:31 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
The point of this meditation is to uncover the mind processes going on behind what you normally perceive as "just two fingers touching." You don't need to run a marathon with every sit. I think a half hour of this kind of meditation is long enough. You should try to be comfortable and able to observe the "stuff" going on with touch sensations when you do this - you don't need to torture yourself with excessive posture related concerns. You do need to stick with this process for some time. Get used to doing it, stretch your ability to observe the touch sensation processes.

My prescription would be shorter periods of vipassana observation and less concern about posture so you can be comfortable... and observe.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 9:25 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Okay! I can do that. Will do.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 2:59 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Did a 20 minutes sit. Had to redirect attention to the touching fingers many times due to distractive sounds and occasional analyzing and planning. Didn’t space out, but some of the noting was delayed, which made me less mindful. I did feel the touch most of the time, keeping track of left and right. I sometimes was present to the shift inbetween. It felt like an animal, alive. Not me.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 4:55 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Did you notice anything about the sensations themselves? Are those sensations always present? Are they somewhere in the background even when you're not noticing them? Do they change over time? Is there a chain of things that happen to make you notice them after being unfocused on them?

These are some potential questions to keep in mind for another vipassana session.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 5:15 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Did you notice anything about the sensations themselves? Are those sensations always present? Are they somewhere in the background even when you're not noticing them? Do they change over time? Is there a chain of things that happen to make you notice them after being unfocused on them?

These are some potential questions to keep in mind for another vipassana session.



Exactly what sensations are we talking about now? The sensations of attention shifting, or what? The sensations of one finger feeling the touch from the other?

Thanks for the help! It’s good to have a clue what to look for.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 5:24 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
The touch sensations of your tow fingers touching.

That's all that matters for this particular exercise (voluntary, of course). All the other feelings and thoughts are distractions from that. For this exercise the objective is to focus on that touching as much as possible. If you get distracted from that singular focus just come back to it. We're not trying to follow or track those other objects. We're trying to investigate the sensations of two fingers touching, how those sensations arise, how they pass, and what they are comprised of.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 5:43 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Right. Okay. Should I use noting for that?

I used to focus on my hands touching each other before, without using any noting, and then my hands would kind of absorb each other and dissolve into an energy stream and then out of awareness. I’m probably using words in a confusing way, but that’s how I would describe the sensations. But I guess we are looking for something else here?

I tried just now to just feel for ten minutes without using any labels and without getting absorbed by tingles. I got the feeling that I was feeling with both fingers simultaneously. Both of them were both subject and object at the same time. Is that even possible? Or am I just tired? Just before the alarm went off I felt certain that I sensed the pulse in both fingers at the same time, both as subject and object. But maybe that’s just lack of sensory clarity?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 5:48 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Temperature, pressure and pulse, and sometimes waves/vibrations. That’s what I would say that the sensations consist of.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/26/18 5:54 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I guess they kind of disappear inbetween pulses when there is no new information to register. Pulses make them come back. 

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12/26/18 6:07 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
But it’s not just the pulse. There is something moving. Sometimes it’s in one of the fingers, sometimes in the other, sometimes in both, crawling around like a worm and taking the fingers in posession. Difficult to explain.

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12/27/18 4:42 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
No, there is no ”it” that is moving. There is a series of arisings and passings of pressure and relative temperature sensations located near each other. It’s very easy to give into the illusion that there is a continuous thing moving around, but there isn’t.

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12/27/18 4:51 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
So I guess there was never any shift there to be observed. That was just a series of arisings and passings of sensations of pressure and warmth or coolness, and I lacked the clarity to observe the arisings and passings and instead perceived it as a continuoum.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/27/18 6:11 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
 Just before the alarm went off I felt certain that I sensed the pulse in both fingers at the same time, both as subject and object. But maybe that’s just lack of sensory clarity?

Yep, lack of clarity!

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12/27/18 6:16 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m not sure I have sufficient clarity now, either. I recall having it, though. I remember feeling my pulse arise and pass away on so many different spots all over my body, as single blips, out of synch with each other. Later I have constructed this as feeling the pulse move around, but that’s not what I felt. I felt it as many different sensations with no continuity, and that scared the sh*t out of me then. That was several years ago.

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12/27/18 6:17 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
 Just before the alarm went off I felt certain that I sensed the pulse in both fingers at the same time, both as subject and object. But maybe that’s just lack of sensory clarity?

Yep, lack of clarity!



Thanks! That makes sense.

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12/27/18 6:20 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
So... I seem to have slided down to an earlier stage, then. Okay. So, that’s an opportunity to learn more thoroughly and consistently, I guess.

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12/27/18 7:02 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I seem to have had peak experiences that have faded away, and now I need to build up my insight from scratch with a systematic and disciplined practice.

Okay. That’s a bit unsettling. Very reasonable, though. I’ll do it.

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12/27/18 7:24 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have probably been doing one of those messy hybrids between insight and concentration practice that doesn’t lead anywhere. That’s good to know, albeit not very satisfactory.

I’m very grateful for having found this forum so that I can dismantle my delusions and hopefully make real progress. I feel rather stupid now, but that will pass. 

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12/27/18 8:00 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
The movement I thought I was sensing seems to be the passing of pressure sensation in one finger and the arising of pressure sensation in the other finger as I move my attention.

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12/27/18 8:14 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Can attention even be moved? Or does it just go through a series if arisings and passings that are constructed by the mind as something continuous? I guess I lack the fine resolution to sense this with clarity.

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12/27/18 11:15 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
When I notice the pressure sensation in one finger, the intensity of that sensation increases.

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12/27/18 12:11 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
So I guess there was never any shift there to be observed. That was just a series of arisings and passings of sensations of pressure and warmth or coolness, and I lacked the clarity to observe the arisings and passings and instead perceived it as a continuoum.

Yes! Keep investigating.

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12/27/18 12:19 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Can attention even be moved? Or does it just go through a series if arisings and passings that are constructed by the mind as something continuous? I guess I lack the fine resolution to sense this with clarity.

You're on a great track!

This is a practice I did for a long time to plumb the depths of how perception works, which is the ultimate objective of this practice - how is your experience constructed? The only way to get to that point is to do a dedicated practice that focuses on a small enough set of experiences that will allow you to see the process.

Nice work, and thanks for being patient with my so-called instruction.

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12/27/18 1:31 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thank you, Chris! I appreciate your instructions and feedback a lot. You are the one being patient.

I will keep investigating this.

Is it okay to also start with the basic exercises in Practical Insight Meditation to go through the basics in a systematic way and learn how to do the noting?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/27/18 3:05 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I decided that just focusing on the rising and falling of the breath in the first basic exercise probably wouldn’t hurt, so I did that to get grounded and to work on my mindfulness for 20 minutes. After that, I moved to a more comfortable place to focus on the sensations of two fingers touching for 30 minutes. This time I was calm and present enough to notice the pressure sensations arise and pass away on various locations, one at a time. There are really very many identifiable separate locations on two finger print areas. Would it be correct to say that the arising involves an increasing intensity of the pressure sensation and the passing away a gradual decrease in intensity of pressure before it completely vanishes? So that the sensation has a wavelike quality to it? That is what it feels to me right now. That’s what my mind erroneously constructed as something wormlike crawling around as it made the various arisings and passings away on different locations into something continuous.

Now I’m curious as to what it would feel like if I were to focus on a smaller area: only the finger tips. Must try that.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/27/18 3:21 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
When you sit to again focus on the touching of your two fingertips, see if you notice anything that appears as a buzzing or rapidly vibrating experience within the arising and passing touch sensations.

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12/27/18 3:39 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
When you sit to again focus on the touching of your two fingertips, see if you notice anything that appears as a buzzing or rapidly vibrating experience within the arising and passing touch sensations.



Right! I did sense that in my face a couple of weeks ago or something, so I think I know what you are referring to. There were pulsating wavelike arisings and passings, and these waves consisted of much smaller oscillations if I zoomed in on one of them. I was able to zoom in and out, and took interest in doing that. It was during a 90 minute session of restorative yoga (basically just lying down or leaning in different positions while tuning in to the sensations in one’s body).

I was about to try but was interrupted by a very insistent and cuddly cat with sharp claws just now. He seems to have settled down now so maybe I can give it another try. Otherwise I will do it tomorrow. It’s getting late here.

I seem to be very dependent on the right conditions to be able to observe things as they are.

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12/27/18 4:13 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I gave it a try for 20 minutes, but I seem to be too tired now. I did get a buzzing sensation, but there wasn’t much clarity and precision, so maybe it was just wishful thinking. The arisings and passings in the finger tips were not very clear, and sensations in other parts of my hands were obtrusive. My ability to focus seems to have reached its limit for tonight.

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12/28/18 3:04 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I seem to have come down with some bug, so conditions aren’t exactly optimal for meditative practice today. I have tried several times, both with very basic mahasi noting, to get used to the method, and with the exercise with touching finger tips. The first few times I tried both exercises in a reclining position, because I wasn’t feeling well. It was very relaxing so I fell asleep. I woke up feeling better each time, though. Then I tried the finger tips exercise sitting up in bed. I still dozed off, but it was very noticable that straightening the spine made a huge difference for my ability to stay attentive.

It seems that at this point I can either be present to the arisings and passings of touch sensations or to the smaller vibrations, not both at once. Zooming in and out doesn’t work. That’s a bit of a setback since I recently had a much more refined experience with waves and oscillations in my face. The clarity then felt amazing compared to this. It seems to have been a peak experience that I can’t intentionally replicate.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/28/18 3:17 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It seems to have been a peak experience that I can’t intentionally replicate.

May I suggest that you haven't really given this enough time? Meditation is a skill. It's not something you do once, have bells and whistles go off, and stop. Don't give up too early. Hopping around from method to method isn't optimal for progress. Whatever method you decide to do you should think of it as a long-term practice.

Keep going!

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12/28/18 4:09 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Of course I will keep going! :-) I didn’t mean to give up. It was intended merely as a reflection on the state of my progress so far, but I seem to have given the wrong expression. But thank you for the encouragement. I appreciate it.

I sat up with a very straight spine for about 45 minutes just now, and yes, I can sense vibrations within the identifiable arisings and passings. It’s not as vivid as it was before in my face. I don’t get that clear sense of oscillations building up larger waves, as layers. It’s not very precise.

This time there were a few instances of my spine aligning itself. I have come to see these instances as a good sign. It seems to entail increased clarity. What is that, exactly?

When I ended the session I felt brief pleasant tingles, shivers and rapture. I seem to need that quality to be able to investigate with at least some clarity. Is that cheeting? I wouldn’t want to mix vipassana and concentration practice in a messy half-measure sort of way.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/28/18 7:04 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Focusing on my finger tips so much seems to have caused a heightened awareness of my pulse, and now I can’t turn that off. It’s making me a bit nauseaus. It makes me feel very... mortal. And fleshy, sort of. It’s repulsive.

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12/28/18 7:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Focusing on my finger tips so much seems to have caused a heightened awareness of my pulse, and now I can’t turn that off. It’s making me a bit nauseaus. It makes me feel very... mortal. And fleshy, sort of. It’s repulsive.



I won’t stop, though. I trust this feeling will pass.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 5:55 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Focusing on my finger tips so much seems to have caused a heightened awareness of my pulse, and now I can’t turn that off. It’s making me a bit nauseaus. It makes me feel very... mortal. And fleshy, sort of. It’s repulsive.

Yeah, I've had heightened awareness of my pulse for a while, to the point where I went to the doctor to see if it was a problem (it wasn't - he basically said brains are weird and sometimes get latched onto these things). Nowadays it comes and goes but I'd say I can feel it most of the time. Possibly your reaction is related to disgust nana. But possibly just a normal reaction to a new sensation. 

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12/29/18 7:51 AM as a reply to Lewis James.
Thanks for sharing! I’m usully aware of my pulse, but last night it was a bit overwhelming. It’s normal for me, though, to be overwhelmed by sensory input from time to time. I guess that’s just how my autistic brain is wired. Some sleep usually helps, and it did.

Now I’m struggling with fatigue. It’s probably because I’ve had some food that I tend to react to. I should know better. I’m tempted to focus on pleasant tingles in meditation and really tap into that, because that usually gives me energy, but I’m guessing that would be unwise since I’m trying to get a vipassana practice settled.

I seem to be able to do ten minutes of breathing focus and noting in a reclining position without falling asleep, so if I find myself having trouble sleeping I’ll try to keep it up for just a while longer. That should do the trick. Trying to focus on my finger tips touching while reclining seems to cause sleepiness even faster, should I be desperate. Apart from the fatigue, I feel much less sick today, so I will be able to practice sitting. Thus I should be able to stay awake. I feel like I could sleep all day, but I have been procrastinating and need to deal with the consequences. There’s work that needs to be done. Initially when I started meditating daily (on October 20th) I had an energy rush that helped me be more productive. I miss that. It’s so dark here in Sweden at this time of the year. If anybody here is into sending positive energy and feels like sending some in this direction, that would be most welcome.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 1:47 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hmm sounds familiar. I felt a little bit like I had an insight hangover after the two fingers exercise and all the processing. Maybe that is the dukkha nanas / stages of insight kicking in? Lots of information around this site suggesting you can either just bear through it as it comes or use jhanas to go through it without so much unpleasantness.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 1:25 PM as a reply to Milo.
I wish... I’m not so sure that I’ve had so much insight from it yet.

This evening I sat 25 minutes breathing and noting, took a 5 minute break to massage and wake up one of my legs (while noting it) and then sat 30 minutes in a more comfortable position focusing on two finger tips touching. The first section was grounding and relaxing and gave a flavour of concentration, except for the part where my leg fell asleep in the end. I do get a bit frustrated by having to note every single intention every time I need to swallow, I guess. Hmmm... I should have noted that. In the last section I spaced out and dozed off. I can’t seem to find that fascination with the sensations that would keep me alert. Is there a way to apply Mahasi noting to that exercise to make it more engaging? Any other advice?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 2:18 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Seems to me like you are getting insights. If I remember correctly Chris said you should focus on just a single aspect of experience. If you are noting all your intentions at once that's probably taking too wide of a perspective for this particular exercise. I would try to note only things happening at the fingertips for this exercise.

Also, maybe you don't want to cut concentration entirely from your practice? It's not a rule that you have to. That was, at least from my end, intended as a short term experiment, and we were warned totally dry vipassana is pretty brutal. Personally I've just been shifting the balance to more vipassana for the last couple days with some short dry periods when it makes sense to do it from a development perspective, not cutting concentration entirely for prolonged periods.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 2:17 PM as a reply to Milo.
That's correct, Milo.

The objective of this exercise is to observe only the touch sensations in the fingers. Ultimately, the observer/meditator should be able to find components in those touch sensations but to be able to do that, to see that detail, you can't be noting all kinds of other things.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 2:35 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I do observe only the sensations from touch between those two finger tips. The breathing and noting is a separate exercise. I can stop doing that exercise entirely, sure. The problem is that I’m currently unable to stay alert when I limit my attention to just sensations between my finger tips. I doze off. So what shall I do?

Maybe this is an ADHD problem.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 2:36 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Do something active before you sit. Take a walk or a jog. That might help you stay alert for 20 to 30 minutes while you do this practice.

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12/29/18 2:37 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I mean, I try several times a day and I fall asleep most of the times.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 2:40 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Do something active before you sit. Take a walk or a jog. That might help you stay alert for 20 to 30 minutes while you do this practice.


I will try. Not jogging, though, because my health doesn’t allow that. Some yoga perhaps.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/29/18 4:19 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Apparently a short session of Kundalini Yoga does the trick. The difference was remarkable. Now I was able to stay alert and observe.

First I didn’t really get that rapid ping pong perception. My attention seemed to linger at one finger at a time, at different parts of the finger. I thus realized that I needed to narrow down my attention much more. That is difficult for me. I’m not quite sure how one is supposed to do that. I can distinguish between very tiny areas sensorywise, but zooming in on just one of them is tricky. Somehow I managed, though, and then the ping pong was there. I had to keep narrowing down, because there seems to be a tendency for the sensory input to spread in volume when I notice it.

I don’t know how much insight this is in the vipassana sense, probably not that much, but in my daily life I can most likely benefit from learning how to intentionally either narrow down or widen my focus of attention. I’m not sure how this narrowing down of sensory input from touch is applicable on intellectual tasks or everyday chores, whether or not the same processes are involved. I guess it’s all very much a case of sensory processing, though, so there should be some transferable knowledge there.

Also, since I struggle a lot with my energy level (that is why I only work halftime), it was valuable to realize that I can increase my level of attention tanglibly just by doing a few Kundalini Yoga exercises. The energy-concentration balance is a hard nut to crack for me.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/30/18 8:42 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I did yoga today, so there is no fatigue. Staying alert during the exercise of two finger tips touching was no problem. I really should do yoga every day.

I get the impression that the pulse is vibrating. I can’t tell whether it is the actual blood flow that is vibrating or if it is my attention flickering back and forth between the fingers that gives that impression, or even the discontinuity of my attention. During the pulses, the pressure sensation between the finger tips increases. The sensation isn’t really one sensation, but many. The pressure decreases and increases rapidly. Maybe it does so the whole time, but it is perceivable during the pulses. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/30/18 10:27 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Also, the fingers are never fully stable. There is always some tremor there, sometimes more noticable, sometimes so subtly vibrating that my crude untrained attention is fooled (gradually less so).

There are so many ways that the touch is not solid. Tremors, blood flowing in pulses affecting the amount of pressure, molecules and finer particles constantly moving around and on finer levels even flickering in and out of existance. Attention itself flickers between the two finger tips and also flickers in and out of existance, which is how the illusion of solidness is upheld: the mind fills in the blanks. There is no way that I will ever be able to perceive reality as it is through my senses. The only reality I will ever perceive is the sensate reality, and that is dependent on so many different conditions. One such condition is the scale.

Where does the attention go when it’s not here in the sensate world? Probably nowhere, as it’s not a continuous phenomenon. Attention itself is a mere construct of sensations and mental activity arising and passing into subjective consciousness.

Is consciousness even stable, or does that flicker in and out of existance too? 

What is consciousness anyway? Is it a stream of arisings and passings? Nothingsness vibrating into somethingness? If so, there truly is no real difference between subject and object. There’s only nothingness dividing itself into somethingness, which makes perception possible because the division enables subjectiveness.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/30/18 11:17 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
What is consciousness anyway? Is it a stream of arisings and passings? Nothingsness vibrating into somethingness? If so, there truly is no real difference between subject and object. There’s only nothingness dividing itself into somethingness, which makes perception possible because the division enables subjectiveness.

Fruitful thoughts!

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12/30/18 12:18 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
On the other hand, in another sense there is only subjectiveness, because non-duality is beyond perception. While we can realize that the division of consciousness into separate and seemingly (but not really) continuous entities is merely a construction that enables perception and experience and that everything comes from the same source, we cannot perceive the world from a non-dual position. There is no non-dual position, because in non-duality there are no positions. I guess that also means that there is no time in non-duality, because time is also a position.

But honestly, this isn’t something that I can perceive or derive from the sensations of two finger tips touching. These are thoughts that I have had for a long time. For all I know, the sensations could be constructions made up by my mind to fit into this framework. After all, it’s well known that our preconceptions affect our perceptions. That’s dependent arising, too, of sorts.

Maybe arahants are able to actually perceive the exact arisings and passings of all there is to sense and even their own subjective consciuosness. Maybe streem enterers are able to do so to some extent as well, I don’t know, but I’m definitely not there yet.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/30/18 12:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Sounds like good progress, Linda.

This thought about whether consciousness is stable is a good one. Once the sensate stuff is figured out that means the next step is looking at the mind itself, right?

Looking forward to reading more.

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12/30/18 12:57 PM as a reply to Milo.
Thanks, but I don’t know... I have had these thoughts for many years, but I guess I’m integrating them with my crude sensate experiences now at least to some extent. Still... Part of me scoffs that it sounds like pretentious bullshit. :-)

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12/30/18 1:35 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
This thought about whether consciousness is stable is a good one. Once the sensate stuff is figured out that means the next step is looking at the mind itself, right?



The thing is that the sensate stuff is not as clear as it should be, and I’m impatient and trying to cut corners.

I kind of like the idea, though. It would be nice for consciousness to get away from this washdryer of a mind at least for short moments on a regular basis.

We already know that consciousness isn’t continuous. Depending on how it is defined, deep sleep may qualify as not being conscious, and there are several medical conditions that involve unconsciousness. But are there shorter ”blips” apart from that, even when we think we are awake non-stop? On the other hand, does it matter if it’s beyond our perception? I guess it would matter on a finer scale. Let us say hypothetically that there are sentient beings that are able to perceive reality with a much higher resolution with regard to time. For them it would make a difference if they could squeeze actions in between our moments of consciousness. We would ”sit out a throw” in the game of reality on a regular basis.

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12/30/18 1:39 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I thought what I was experiencing was genuine and not just pretentiousness, though as you say the mind can follow suggestion. I guess how much to read into it is a decision to be made at the individual level.

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12/30/18 3:18 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
I thought what I was experiencing was genuine and not just pretentiousness, though as you say the mind can follow suggestion. I guess how much to read into it is a decision to be made at the individual level.



I believe it was genuine. Sorry for being unclear! I’m talking about my vague experiences, which I may be applying wishful thinking to. I believe in your experiences. Your clarity is obviously much more evolved than mine. Parts of me feel like I’m cheating. I am trying, though, and you are inspiring me. So please don’t think that I think that way about you! I don’t.

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12/30/18 3:24 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
And most parts of me don’t even agree with those mistrusting parts anyway. I just... well, I think they need to express themselves. If I don’t let them, they might form a shadow that comes out unexpectedly. I probably should be more explicit about this dynamic, or even refrain from letting those voices be expressed here where they can hurt others. I’m sorry.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/30/18 4:23 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I would offer that if you stick to the exercise you've started and pay attention good things will come of it. Speculating on non-duality and other things is interesting intellectually but irrelevant at this point. You seem to be doubting yourself. This kind of doubt is a common experience but it's certainly not insurmountable.

You can do this!

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12/30/18 4:52 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
The smaller the touching area, the faster attention shifts I’m able to perceive. I just tried balancing a toothpick between my finger tips, and wow, what an activity!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/30/18 5:13 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
When using the toothpick, I sense larger waves (they last for about two seconds) that are made up by many brief impulses alternating between the two fingers. I’m not sure exactly what quality makes it a wave. Intensity of perception? Focus? Maybe it’s like during eyesight examinations; in those it is obvious that the eye can only focus optimally for brief moments, and there is a wavelike curve for it.

The impulses could be waves of even shorter impulses as well, but that is beyond by perception for the time being.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/30/18 5:57 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
(I feel like I’m Karate Kid in the beginning of his training, waxing cars all day long and not yet understanding why.)

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12/30/18 8:50 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
No problem, Linda. I wasn't interpreting it that way - just trying to offer my perspective and encouragement and engage in an open discussion about legitimate skepticism. You have helped me quite a bit here by sharing your experiences. I'm grateful and the last thing I want is for you to stop practicing.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/31/18 2:19 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I would offer that if you stick to the exercise you've started and pay attention good things will come of it. Speculating on non-duality and other things is interesting intellectually but irrelevant at this point. You seem to be doubting yourself. This kind of doubt is a common experience but it's certainly not insurmountable.

You can do this!


I can see why you keep pushing me to investigate with diligence to increase clarity, precision and speed. I seem to be struggling with the three characteristics, and that’s what I need to get through that stage.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/31/18 8:37 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
You'll be able to find the three characteristics in the finger touching exercise - that's the purpose. Of course, that's the purpose of vipassana in general. The three characteristics are found in every object, so focusing on one specifically is a great way to find them there, and then by extension, in other objects.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/31/18 12:23 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Today I did the exercise while travelling by train. I sat for 30 minutes. The vibrations from the train were picked up in the touching, so there were plenty of sensations. I realized that I really don’t need to intentionally shift the attention between the two fingers. When there is new information the attention flickers rapidly between them by its own volition. I guess that is the scanning that Milo was talking about. The arisings and passings of the impulses of pressure sensation coincide with when the attention arises and passes on the spot. This time the impulses felt painful. The pain was not constant, because it was just brief impulses, but the pain was always where the attention was. Thus, the brief moments of relief between the pain impulses were not really experienced. That’s ironic. Having a subjective awareness creates pain.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/31/18 12:39 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Dukkha is like that stubborn colour patch that blocks one’s view after staring into bright light. Wherever one looks, there it is. Relief is just around the corner, but when one looks around the corner, dukkha arises there.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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12/31/18 3:34 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Finding the dukkha in those experiences was an interesting insight for me. I understood that there was existential dukkha associated with neutral experiences but somehow previously failed to appreciate that there is literal physical discomfort and pain mixed in as well.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/1/19 6:55 AM as a reply to Milo.
I actually knew that. I just didn’t think of it as significant. I have sensory issues. Touch that is supposed to feel good is often painful to me, especially if repeated. The pain mixed in with the sensations has always been obvious to me. The discrepancy between socially expected sensations and what is actually there is especially unbearable when it comes to soft touch. I sometimes keep quiet about it, though, because people get hurt. I’m so used to being ”wrong” about this that I didn’t even think about mentioning it. Yesterday I was in a bad mood, though, and was unable to repress it. Suddenly it dawned on me that it could be that simple. What I have known all along but had learned the hard way to ignore is actually welcome in this framework. So it wasn’t so much that I needed to feel something entirely new. I just had to allow myself to feel what I have always felt.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/1/19 6:53 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
And now it just dawned on me... I have seen dukkha in everything for as long as I can remember and felt bad about it because it was socially expected not to do so. I thought there must be something wrong with me because nothing was ever really satisfactory, even when I was happily in love and especially in the ”perfect” moments. The discrepancy was just too obvious. A few years ago I decided that it was okay to feel this way, that I wouldn’t have to feel guilty for not feeling the sheer bliss I felt that I ”should” feel. I decided that it was okay, that it is what it is and that expecting something else was just creating suffering. So I stopped expecting those things and instead became grateful of the good that came with the bad. Is that insight? I just thought of it as... you know... growing up. Maturing psychologically.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/1/19 7:11 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It’s a relief, though, to realize that it wasn’t just me being ungreatful or lacking some neural connections that would enable me to feel truly happy. This is actually one of the core characteristics of life, and it has nothing to do with me. Not specifically me, anyway. It’s unpersonal. That feels liberating. Now I’m getting it.

Four decades of gaslighting... I’ll never listen to that shit again.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/1/19 8:43 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Woo hoo!

Happy New Year, too.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/1/19 9:42 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Woo hoo!

Happy New Year, too.



Thanks! And to you! :-)

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/1/19 10:26 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
The Japanese concept mono no aware is relevant to this. One of my loved ones is very fond of that concept.
https://sv.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_no_aware
Interestingly, when he tried to meditate using noting, inspired by me, the first thing he said was that wherever he focused he noticed pain that had been there in the background. He has a brain damage and I think that it has made him immune to some of the usual illusions. He has never understood how people can believe that they are separate and continuous individuals.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/1/19 3:46 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Tonight I sat for thirty minutes, using the rising and falling of the breath in the abdomen as my default focus of attention but allowing investigation of anything distracting me from focusing on the breath. I found it interesting in a way that I haven’t done before. When I was distracted by itching, instead of being super annoyed by the itch and how it was distracting me, I thought ”No problem, I can just sit here noting itching for thirty minutes; I’ll survive that”. So I stayed with the itch, investigating it. It was unpleasant but not actually that bad. The physical sensation was only a minor part of the suffering. Most of it was due to my craving for it to end and trying to suppress it. When I allowed myself to just note it, without feeling like a failure for being distracted by it, it faded away enough for me to notice other things as the figure to the ground. I heard my partner doing some rather icky noices, and I came to think of how grateful I am that our relationship allows the ugly parts of life to be accepted. I actually don’t strive for things to be perfect. I want the authenticity where the ugly sides of life are there right next to the beautiful parts and are all accepted as they are. This made the itch fade even more inte the background. I had noticed it and accepted it and that was that. (Now I come to think of Daniel’s metaphor of shoting aliens in MCTB2).

I turned my attention back to the rising and falling of the breath. After a while I was distracted by the urge to swallow, as is common for me. This time I noted it but decided not to act on it, just to investigate that intense urge. It grew in intensity and I kept noting it. Suddenly the swallowing happened as if by itself, in a very smooth way compared to when I do it intentionally. I remembered then that this was mentioned in Practical Insight Meditation (at least I think it was in that book) - noted intentions turning into will.

I turned my attention back to the rising and falling of the breath but noted other arisings and passings briefly, then returning to the breath. At one time I noticed some weird turbulens in my ear. I came to think of what Lars (if I remember correctly) wrote about a similar experience and his discovery that it was actually his attention flickering back and forth between his chosen focus of attention and other sounds that caught his attention. I formed the hypothesis that maybe I hadn’t done the noting right. Maybe I had just thought the word but not actually acknowledged the sensation. Thus I started to actually listen to the sounds that caught my attention instead of noting them while repressing them. The weird turbulens stopped. I noticed a similar turbulens going on with my eyelids. They were flickering. I hypothesized that maybe I was repressing mental images, so I started to be more mindful of my different senses when I noticed being distracted from focusing on the breath. I noticed that every sound I heard from my partner triggered many sensations, using all senses, and these sensations triggered new sensations and feelings and thoughts. I was craving him although he was in the next room and I were to join him very soon.

Being able to see this caused rapture. I then felt pleasant tingles in my hands. I felt content with letting them arise and pass and continue my vipassana investigation, because now I felt that I was getting what vipassana is about and why it is liberating. And yes, I noted that, both the feeling and the thought.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/2/19 5:25 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I did the same kind of sit this evening. It was comfortable and subtly pleasant most of the time. I investigated some annoying itches more closely and was able to focus on the sensations in a less entangled way, which made them much more tolerable.

I think I found a balanced level of noting sensations, balancing acknowledging and letting go. It had a flavour of concentration to it. That didn’t last the entire session, though. In the end I was less mindful. I didn’t find time to meditate until late, and I was probably a little too tired.

I saw the sound of the gong clearly projected on my inner screen for a brief moment. I’m synesthetic but usually not very visual. Being able to see things as if in reality is fairly new to me. I like it, although it’s most likely very unsignificant enlightenmentwise. It’s just subjectively something I appreciate, having access to another sensory gate. The image was very trivial, mostly a horizontal bright blue line with some entanglement.

In the end of the session I had a kriya that probably would have looked weird had someone been watching. It was an intense jerk. It was almost as if I had a jump scare from the gong a second before it happened. It was like one of those moments when you wake up because the alarm clock seems to be ticking unusually loud just before the alarm sets off.

***

Off the cushion: I seem to have entered a more intuitive period. A couple of nights ago I had a dream that to me very obviously was processing stuff that happened the following days. I’m not saying that something supernatural has happened. It’s more like my unconscious is more skilled than my conscious in picking up patterns and foreseeing further developments. I have had periods like this before. It’s good to know that it’s still there. I won’t go into details because it involves people I care about.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/3/19 1:26 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I seem to be tipping over to some version of A&P again. It feels slower this time, and I’m not so sure about that clarity. I do get the tingles and shivers all over my body even in daily life, though. I think I may be held back by a blood circulation problem. Does that make any sense at all? Regardless, I’m taking care of it (adding ginkgo biloba and beetroots to the yoga and cutting down on L-lysine just a bit; years of chronic fatigue has taught be quite a lot about the needs of this body).

At today’s yoga class we were working with the spine. Afterwards we were invited to stay for a while and meditate while the teacher was finishing some stuff, so I did (focusing on the rising and falling of the breath in the abdomen as my default focus and noting whatever distracted me from it). I was fairly focused but forgot to note some intentions before svallowing. No problems with legs falling asleep. I think I have finally found the way to breath from the abdomen while raising the chest to elongate the spine. The trick is apparently to breath into the lower back. That enables me to both relax and stay alert. I felt centered. When it was time to stop, the yoga teacher played a small gong. That’s when I had this intense Kundalini energy boost. First it felt like I was almost dissolved by the tone. Its vibrations invaded my whole body. My eyelids started flickering and I felt like I was going to have one of those non-epileptic seizures, but this time I intuitively knew that both the flickering eyelids and the convulsions are just resistance (or maybe clinging? Or both? Resistance and clinging seem to be the same mechanism; both are cravings creating suffering) so instead I let go. Then an intense energy ray shot up through the spine all the way up and then down again, several times. As intense as it was, I felt in balance afterwards. I had continued tingles and shivers. Even traffic noises had me shivering. It didn’t feel like excess energy, though, and no pressure was built up. The energy was flowing right through me. Now I feel relaxed and alert and content and happy in a calm way. I still have shivers, and if I want to I can tune into them and intensify and spread them which makes them dissolve.

Any advice for insight practice to make the best of this?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/3/19 2:03 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Noticing such phenomena mindfully but in a detached way to make them disappear seems to be the recommended way. Uh, that sounds so boring, but I will do it if that’s what it takes.

Can’t I at least investigate them? There must be something to dismantle there, right?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/3/19 2:46 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Can’t I at least investigate them? There must be something to dismantle there, right?

Yes, of course you can investigate. Look for the 3 characteristics in everything. That's the keys to the kingdom.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 9:07 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yep. Thought so. Well, they do get repetetive after a while, which is rather disappointing. They are transient, don’t last very long. They are rough, lack nuances. They have sort of a poor resolution? Like the shower from a nozzle designed to save water. Every tiny beam is sharp and they are distributed too far apart from each other, resulting in unbalanced sensations. Even if I do tune into them to intensify and spread them, they run out of energy pretty soon, and then there is a certain time period of recharge before they arise again. They are rather predictable and unpersonal.

I got the chance to investigate the prickly sensations when blood circulation returns to a foot and a leg. It turned out to be not that different from the shivering sensations when disentangled. I used to think that these sensations were unbearable, but when disentangled from each other and from resistance they werent’t that intense after all. Narrow beams of pressure spread over a large area with poor resolution, arising and passing.

I seem to forget the noting label from time to time, mostly on the outbreath. It’s not that I forget to note. It’s like a forget what too look for or how to categorize it or even where I am. I get disoriented and lack words. I’m not sure I even remember who I am in these instances. At one time, I noted ”noting”, because that was the only object I could name. What is this? Is it dullness?

At other times, the noting is swift and smooth.

I remember feeling very heavy and drawn to the floor as if I were magnetized. I noted it.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 5:53 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:


I seem to forget the noting label from time to time, mostly on the outbreath. It’s not that I forget to note. It’s like a forget what too look for or how to categorize it or even where I am. I get disoriented and lack words. I’m not sure I even remember who I am in these instances. At one time, I noted ”noting”, because that was the only object I could name. What is this? Is it dullness?


Hopefully this doesn't just confuse you... when in doubt listen to Chris--he's much better at coaching people with this stuff and actually learned from teachers rather than just making things up as he went along like I did. Ha!

I am not sure what you're dealing with, but personally I never really did a lot of verbal noting because I'm not naturally a verbal thinker and sometimes my brain cramps up when trying to do the word thing. The only time verbal noting has really been helpful for me was during the first few days of a Mahasi retreat in Burma when trying to stay on track during transitions and while off cushion. It seems to work for a lot of other people, though.

What I have done instead when unable to just stick with bare perceptions is a sort of light and brief holding with attention, so it has a tactile quality to me regardless of the sense door. Rather than trying to give it a label (and potentially inducing brain cramp and derailing my flow), it's like I touch it or give it a little pat with my mind. I've read some people also just use a little sound instead, like a tone or a beep or something, which would also prevent getting stuck in analysis.

Also you say "I'm not sure I even remember who I am in these instances." Now that is definitely interesting!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 7:22 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
... they do get repetetive after a while, which is rather disappointing... there is a certain time period of recharge before they arise again...

Impermanence (arise, pass, arise, pass) and suffering/dissatisfaction (disappointing).

They are rather predictable and unpersonal.... I'm not sure I even remember who I am in these instances

Not-self!

Most of us learn to note by labeling the objects that arise in perception, but it's not necessary to label, as we can note by paying attention. It's sort of like learning to read - at first we have to sound out every word one by one but after we get practiced at reading we can glance at a sentence and know what it means.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 7:43 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thank you Andromeda! I have come to realize over the years that even though I’m pretty verbal in many respects, that’s not how I think. In fact, I seem to do a lot of my processing on a sensory level (kinestetic in my case), something that I have in common with many other autistic people. Using language is always a translation, and it can be exhausting at times. Those closest to me know that I need to stay non-verbal sometimes to rest. I was wondering why the book said that I should use verbal noting but focus on the sensations. Verbal labels tend to distance me from my own processing. Maybe those instructions are for people who need to go from mental concepts to a sensory level rather than the opposite? The one word label is just a way to get there? In that case... Yeah. Why not just recognize the form of sensation or situation as I perceive it, say hi to it and move on? That would be much more natural to me. That is where I start out. Finding words for it is something that requires thinking. I do that manually.

Right. So forgetting who I am is not a problem, after all. That’s what I thought from the beginning, but I have been told that I was just spacing out and losing focus. Spacing out is a really confusing concept, isn’t it? Where I go it feels like space, so I have always thought that was what spacing out refers to. Then I learned that spacing out was a bad thing. How should I know what to believe? I’ll just describe it to the best of my ability. Maybe somebody can tell me whether I should try to go there or try to avoid going there? Okay. It’s dark. At least I think so. It’s spacious, I think, but I have no sense of the scale since there is nothing there to compare with. It’s empty. I’m trying to remember whether or not I’m aware of my body there. Hm, yes, but I’m not thinking of it as a body. There are no words there, no thoughts, no concepts, until I struggle away from there to redirect my focus after first struggling with remembering what it was I was supposed to do - after realizing that I am somebody doing something, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember much from it. I guess there is some sense of time, because I have some very vague recollection of it, and of being aware, but I have no idea how long I have been there. When I come out from it I’m disoriented and sort of surprised.

This is not new. A few years ago when I usually meditated just by breathing very slowly (one and a half breath per minute), this was what happened. But I haven’t been trying to go there now. I have tried to be mindful and stay focused.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 7:55 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m mixing things up now. I’m talking about three different things at the same time.

There are moments when I can’t remember words but definitely recognize the concept.

There are other moments when I can’t even remember the concepts, but I remember that I should be attentive to some concept. Categorizing things doesn’t come naturally. I think this is on the verge to that third kind of moment:

the one with empty spacious darkness and distorted time, where no concepts or thoughts or words are available.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 8:11 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks! I’ll just skip the verbal labels then and see if that works for me.

Yeah. The descriptions of the three characteristics make it sound like it would be a revolutionary discovery, but it’s just ordinary perceptions. I thought it would be more of an aha-thing than a duh-thing. Are there really grown-up people who haven’t noticed that everything is temporary? And yet so utterly repetitive? Maybe they are the ones who never get depressed. I always suspected that it couldn’t be really sane never to be depressed.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 8:59 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I’m mixing things up now. I’m talking about three different things at the same time.

There are moments when I can’t remember words but definitely recognize the concept.

There are other moments when I can’t even remember the concepts, but I remember that I should be attentive to some concept. Categorizing things doesn’t come naturally. I think this is on the verge to that third kind of moment:

the one with empty spacious darkness and distorted time, where no concepts or thoughts or words are available.

Actually, I think these are four different kinds of moments. The spacious one is actually two: one with some sense of a body and one where I completely forget about having a body. When trying no note sensations I don’t get there, though. That’s where I got by breathing slowly.

I checked what MCTB2 says about shamatha jahnas, and maybe I have experienced fourth and fifth jhana? The latter only several years ago when i practiced slow breathing. Is that possible? I was a beginner, just breathing very slowly. Easy peasy. I got there every time. Fast too. I read in a book about Kundalini yoga that one reaches a deep meditative state automatically if one breaths slowly enough, so I tried, and there it was. The first time. I used to do it on the train, to pass some time. Can that really be it? Or is there some form of really poor concentration that can be mistaken for it? Because there was no effort. I know I didn’t fall asleep.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 12:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
53 minutes

Choiceless awareness

Instant tingling - boring

Went deeper

Not me dozing off when concentrating. Awareness is discontinuous. This is noticable. Black screen gets pitch black for brief moments regularly with no pixelations or swirls. Mind fills in the blanks and leaves out all the nuances.

Noise outside had a different quality to it. I could surf on it.

Flickering eyelids means resistance —> letting go —> dizzying feeling of being projected into space at a high speed —> scary —> dropped out of it, reflected, went into thinking mode

Repeated

Made an effort to slow breathing down. More difficult now than a few years ago. Settled for a somewhat shorter outbreath. Kept breathing slowly, more and more relaxed. The breathing faded.

Nice. Comfortable.

Everything was suddenly bright for a brief moment. Visibly bright. (Not sure about the order, may have been earlier, or perhaps later...? Don’t know.)

Peaceful. Space. Vast. Comfortable. Effortless. Could stay in this posture forever.

Only temporary, though. Cannot last.

Sudden realization of body stiffness. Equanimous state gone. Then spaciousness dissolved. Outer world more tangible. Rapture. Rougher and rougher, cruder and cruder, slower and slower.

Opened eyes. Checked the time.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 11:44 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Thank you Andromeda! I have come to realize over the years that even though I’m pretty verbal in many respects, that’s not how I think. In fact, I seem to do a lot of my processing on a sensory level (kinestetic in my case), something that I have in common with many other autistic people. Using language is always a translation, and it can be exhausting at times. Those closest to me know that I need to stay non-verbal sometimes to rest. I was wondering why the book said that I should use verbal noting but focus on the sensations. Verbal labels tend to distance me from my own processing. Maybe those instructions are for people who need to go from mental concepts to a sensory level rather than the opposite? The one word label is just a way to get there? In that case... Yeah. Why not just recognize the form of sensation or situation as I perceive it, say hi to it and move on? That would be much more natural to me. That is where I start out. Finding words for it is something that requires thinking. I do that manually.

Right. So forgetting who I am is not a problem, after all. That’s what I thought from the beginning, but I have been told that I was just spacing out and losing focus. Spacing out is a really confusing concept, isn’t it? Where I go it feels like space, so I have always thought that was what spacing out refers to. Then I learned that spacing out was a bad thing. How should I know what to believe? I’ll just describe it to the best of my ability. Maybe somebody can tell me whether I should try to go there or try to avoid going there? Okay. It’s dark. At least I think so. It’s spacious, I think, but I have no sense of the scale since there is nothing there to compare with. It’s empty. I’m trying to remember whether or not I’m aware of my body there. Hm, yes, but I’m not thinking of it as a body. There are no words there, no thoughts, no concepts, until I struggle away from there to redirect my focus after first struggling with remembering what it was I was supposed to do - after realizing that I am somebody doing something, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember much from it. I guess there is some sense of time, because I have some very vague recollection of it, and of being aware, but I have no idea how long I have been there. When I come out from it I’m disoriented and sort of surprised.

This is not new. A few years ago when I usually meditated just by breathing very slowly (one and a half breath per minute), this was what happened. But I haven’t been trying to go there now. I have tried to be mindful and stay focused.

Daniel writes about the analogy of the kazoo player in MCTB2 (progress of insight chapter section on equanimity) and when first reading it I thought, holy shit, I never got a kazoo. That explains a lot! Maybe autistics (at least some of us) lack a kazoo which leads to sensory overload and others have the kazoo which separates them from their experience and prevents sensory overload but can be an obstacle in meditation. That's my impression, anyway. At any rate, if you can hear the orchestra you don't really need the kazoo so not much point in verbal noting that I can see. But most people apparently do need the verbal noting at least in the beginning--this really confused me for a long time, actually up until reading the kazoo player analogy.

Not sure if this is what you are describing or not regarding spacing out, but equanimity has a panoramic thing going on and can have aspects of the formless realms of infinite space and infinite consciousness. Daniel's got some shorthand label for it I can never remember. Plenty more about that in MCTB2 as well. But the important thing for vipassana is just not notice the 3 characteristics of these sensations--the perceptions are where they are, so just relax out into it and keep paying attention. 

Funny--"spacing out" tends to mean not paying attention. But taken literally, "spacing out" is kind of what you do as the cycle of insight progresses. Expand and then collapse. =D

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 11:58 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I now remember why I turned away from this kind of meditation. I had no words for it back then, but now I can say that I saw the risk of turning into a jhana junky, was gradually developing into one. I wanted more and more, but it didn’t help me with my daily life. It turned into escapism. I had no knowledge of different traditions back then. I knew that there was transcendental meditation and other kinds. I vaguely aimed at ”other kinds” but didn’t do the research properly. I saw a heated long debate between different practitioners, one TM and one who called himself buddhist (unspecified!) and draw the conclusion that none of these traditions had worked for those two, although they both seemed very convinced otherwise. So I had never heard of the difference between shamatha and vipassana. I didn’t realize that there was a way to deconstruct meditative states and be free from the craving for them.

I get rapture from realizing this.

Maybe it’s a good thing that I was unaware of the possibilities of reaching higher jhanas and doing magick and stuff. The temptation might have been too great back then. Still... I may have stumbled over jhanas up to the fifth one with very little effort, and I rejected them because I saw that they were not satisfying (too satisfying, thereby not satisfying; short term and long term). Had I known that realizing this was the real breakthrough... I could have deconstructed the jhanas and maybe shortened my long dark night. On the other hand, I devoted those years to moral training, without knowing anything about this being a traditional requirement for meditation. That was probably for the best. I learned a lot. That’s what keeping me from going bananas about the jhanas now, getting myself fully absorbed and neglecting everything else. I could easily do that, but I won’t.

Bah, more rapture.

I think I would have wanted the pleasantness to be real back then and thus would have been unable te deconstruct it. I know better now. I actually do. I want to be free.

More rapture. This is getting ridiculous.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
Answer
1/4/19 12:46 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Thank you Andromeda! I have come to realize over the years that even though I’m pretty verbal in many respects, that’s not how I think. In fact, I seem to do a lot of my processing on a sensory level (kinestetic in my case), something that I have in common with many other autistic people. Using language is always a translation, and it can be exhausting at times. Those closest to me know that I need to stay non-verbal sometimes to rest. I was wondering why the book said that I should use verbal noting but focus on the sensations. Verbal labels tend to distance me from my own processing. Maybe those instructions are for people who need to go from mental concepts to a sensory level rather than the opposite? The one word label is just a way to get there? In that case... Yeah. Why not just recognize the form of sensation or situation as I perceive it, say hi to it and move on? That would be much more natural to me. That is where I start out. Finding words for it is something that requires thinking. I do that manually.

Right. So forgetting who I am is not a problem, after all. That’s what I thought from the beginning, but I have been told that I was just spacing out and losing focus. Spacing out is a really confusing concept, isn’t it? Where I go it feels like space, so I have always thought that was what spacing out refers to. Then I learned that spacing out was a bad thing. How should I know what to believe? I’ll just describe it to the best of my ability. Maybe somebody can tell me whether I should try to go there or try to avoid going there? Okay. It’s dark. At least I think so. It’s spacious, I think, but I have no sense of the scale since there is nothing there to compare with. It’s empty. I’m trying to remember whether or not I’m aware of my body there. Hm, yes, but I’m not thinking of it as a body. There are no words there, no thoughts, no concepts, until I struggle away from there to redirect my focus after first struggling with remembering what it was I was supposed to do - after realizing that I am somebody doing something, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember much from it. I guess there is some sense of time, because I have some very vague recollection of it, and of being aware, but I have no idea how long I have been there. When I come out from it I’m disoriented and sort of surprised.

This is not new. A few years ago when I usually meditated just by breathing very slowly (one and a half breath per minute), this was what happened. But I haven’t been trying to go there now. I have tried to be mindful and stay focused.

Daniel writes about the analogy of the kazoo player in MCTB2 (progress of insight chapter section on equanimity) and when first reading it I thought, holy shit, I never got a kazoo. That explains a lot! Maybe autistics (at least some of us) lack a kazoo which leads to sensory overload and others have the kazoo which separates them from their experience and prevents sensory overload but can be an obstacle in meditation. That's my impression, anyway. At any rate, if you can hear the orchestra you don't really need the kazoo so not much point in verbal noting that I can see. But most people apparently do need the verbal noting at least in the beginning--this really confused me for a long time, actually up until reading the kazoo player analogy.

Not sure if this is what you are describing or not regarding spacing out, but equanimity has a panoramic thing going on and can have aspects of the formless realms of infinite space and infinite consciousness. Daniel's got some shorthand label for it I can never remember. Plenty more about that in MCTB2 as well. But the important thing for vipassana is just not notice the 3 characteristics of these sensations--the perceptions are where they are, so just relax out into it and keep paying attention. 

Funny--"spacing out" tends to mean not paying attention. But taken literally, "spacing out" is kind of what you do as the cycle of insight progresses. Expand and then collapse. =D


Yes! To all of this! Last May I took part of an international autistic workshop where we digged deep into autistic thinking styles and perception and started writing a scientific paper about it (still in progress). We didn’t use the exact analogy, but basically everything we talked about culminated in the realization that what we are lacking is the kazoo, and somehow people seem to think very highly about that kazoo. We didn’t discuss the implications for meditation though, but we talked a lot about allowing ourselves to function at a sensate level.

I have had holy shit moments like that, too, but I still worried about not knowing the basics and didn’t trust myself as the rookie I am. So I went from effortless to HUGE effort. I was frustrated because I couldn’t see how any of those techniques I read about everywhere and heard about in youtube videos would lead me closer to the three characteristics. It was cool though to see them manifest in the tiny area of two finger tips touching. That exercise was an eye opener. I’m thankful for that. It helped me to understand the point of insight meditation and how the three characteristics are linked together. That part of the puzzle was missing before. I could see that everythings is temporary and that there was elements of suffering in everything, and I kept saying that I wished I could join the Borg collective because I was so tired of being an individual, but I didn’t connect the dots, even though I already believed that the division into separate beings was just something that ”God” did to be able to experience themself.

So... can I just let myself drop into jhanas as they evolve naturally and then look out for the three characteristics? Is that a valid practice? It’s not being lazy and unsystematic?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/4/19 1:25 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
[quote=So... can I just let myself drop into jhanas as they evolve naturally and then look out for the three characteristics? Is that a valid practice? It’s not being lazy and unsystematic?
]
That's totally valid practice! Noticing the 3C of whatever arises is it in a nutshell. Relax and just go with whatever arises. Too much effort can really get in the way of that outward expansion into equanimity.

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1/4/19 1:37 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Okay then! Thanks! Then that’s what I’ll do. This will be interesting! So much to discover and let go of!

This reminds me of Goethe’s Faust. Maybe there will be a moment where I’m tempted to say ”Bleibe doch, du bist so schön!”, and then I get straight to hell unless somebody who is pure sheds a tear for me.

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1/4/19 1:47 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I love this forum. Yeah, I know, I know... It is impermanent, there is suffering here, and this feeling is just depentently arising because of circumstances and has nothing to do with me as a person. But I don’t need things to be permanent or perfect or deeply personal to appreciate them. I appreciate that the universe has a way of offering learning opportunities when they are needed.

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1/4/19 4:13 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I gave it another go for almost an hour. I probably burned too many neurotransmittors the last time this evening, because I never reached that equanimous state this time around. I went past the tinglings through some absurd images that Freud would have loved (a childish-looking chopped-off bearded head with make up, among other things; it had a Monty Python quality to it) and into a wider state, but it felt shallow and blurry and murky and vague. It was one hell of a ride there, though. Moving into spaciousness feels very abrupt, almost like going from one of those portals in the Star Gate series. Or like being dropped in an elevator shaft in a very tall building, although down is not the direction. It’s more like all directions at once. Hm, I’m not sure. Vertigo, sort of, when space widens. It feels like there are too few gears in the gearbox or something. The shifts aren’t exactly subtle and smooth.

I snapped out of it abruptly, too. Suddenly there was brightness from the lamp next to me, and everything felt normal. Normal sizes and distances, normal sounds, solidity, ordinary clearness. Thrown back into reality, like being spitted out. Now I feel as if I have a very subtle hangover. It is obvious that these states depend on chemicals in the brain. When the supply is consumed, that’s it. Ride is over. Nothing I can do about it. Maybe the lower jhanas consume the fuel ineffectively, I don’t know. In Sweden we have this very popular childrens comics magazine featuring the strongest and kindest bear in the world. He depends on a special honey with a herbal exstract in it that makes him strong. Without this ”thunder honey” he is powerless. It’s kind of like that. The thunder doesn’t emmanate from me. It’s chemically induced. Not external chemicals, but still... very unpersonal. Predictable.

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1/4/19 7:23 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Ouch! I tried the exercise with touching finger tips again. I expected not to feel that much, but it was even more painful now. I only did it for a couple of minutes maybe. My finger tips are still buzzing from it. It’s like they have been zapped with small electrical charges. What the... Is this what usually happens?

Honestly, I thought the concentration would help me go to sleep. 

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1/5/19 10:45 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Today I sat for 45 minutes or something, and it didn’t go well. It was a humbling experience, though. I was too eager to enter jhanas so I ended upp suggesting myself into a very dull state of hynosis. That is probably what I used to go into several years ago, when I breathed slowly. I just didn’t know any better back then and had nothing to compare with. I do now, and this was not it. It was neither vipassana nor shamatha. There was no piti, no sukkha and no sati. No mindfullness, no sensory clarity, and although there was apathy, there was no equanimity. Ugh. It was more like dissociation. Don’t wanna go down that road. Ugh.

I’m okay, though. I’ll make sure to be more mindful next time.

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1/5/19 11:08 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I seem to have weak barriers between different states and degrees of consciousness, for good and for bad. It may sometimes allow me access to jhanas but also makes it far too easy to slip into something else. I need to watch out for this.

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1/5/19 12:32 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I seem to be struggling with the balance between energy and concentration today. Sat again, probably close to an hour. I had decided to sit for 30 minutes but wanted to continue. That was probably a bad idea. I didn’t go to yoga class today, and thus I’m dull. It was relaxing, but I spaced out. It’s not somuch distraction as a low degree of attention. I should probably at least do some light yoga exercises at home every day, and perhaps also have some meditation exercise on my repertoire that prevents me from spacing out. I missed my morning medication too (ADHD medication), and of course that doesn’t help. After all, I have attention deficit.

There were some involuntary movements. There were buzzing in my hands and comfortable waves through my body. Sensory clarity was poor. Attention faltered.

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1/5/19 2:17 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I seem to be struggling with the balance between energy and concentration today. Sat again, probably close to an hour. I had decided to sit for 30 minutes but wanted to continue. That was probably a bad idea. I didn’t go to yoga class today, and thus I’m dull. It was relaxing, but I spaced out. It’s not somuch distraction as a low degree of attention. I should probably at least do some light yoga exercises at home every day, and perhaps also have some meditation exercise on my repertoire that prevents me from spacing out. I missed my morning medication too (ADHD medication), and of course that doesn’t help. After all, I have attention deficit.

There were some involuntary movements. There were buzzing in my hands and comfortable waves through my body. Sensory clarity was poor. Attention faltered.


Oh, I forgot: before my attention and perception went murky I had that strange perception of my hands being backwards again. That’s a weird distortion that I encounter rather often. What is that? It seems to accompany some kind of broadening of my attention to more periferal sensations. The breath kind of disappears but I have a clear perception of both hands and of being seated. These sensations appear as the figure instead of the ground, and although I feel less attentive, the sensations from my hands and thighs are very tangible. They are distorted though, as if my body were dissolving. The waves are what my body is dissolving into. I have had very strong experiences of this, but most times, like today, it is much more vague. When I write this I recognize some of it from MCTB2 as vj3, but I have a hard time believing it. If it is, then it must be a very soft and shallow version of it.

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1/5/19 2:22 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It’s like embodied poetry by somebody really drunk brooding about how everything is impermanent and elusive and obscure.

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1/6/19 4:22 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Okay. So now I’m in dissolution. Again. Right. Oh, well. At least I don’t need to be scared about the dark night. I’m already there, and I’m handling it. It’s a relief to know that it has little to do with the world and me on a personal level. It’s just a phase. Clarity and energy will come back. I don’t know how many times I have been here, but on the plus side, by now I’m familar with the territory. I have dealt with many of my demons already. I won’t be miserable in a way that hurts people around me. Over the years, I have found rather healthy coping mechanisms. My executive dysfunction is harder to deal with in this phase.

This phase sucks, but it’s okay. This too shall pass. I can deal with it. Investigating the three characteristics of whatever arises is the priority, and keeping a steady practise, together with dealing with my avoidance issues with regard to daily life responsibilities. I know what I need to do.

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1/6/19 10:16 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks to the chapter about dissolution in MCTB2 I actually had a great meditation today. Thank you Daniel!

Noting is helpful to stay focused in this confused state. I start with verbal notes and occassionally do wordless noting when I can’t find the word but know that I know the sensation. The noting keeps me from getting lost in a swamp of murkiness. I use breathing in the abdomen as my default focus of attention and continue to do so when the breathing disappears, because I know that means that it is actually in the center. It is the center that disappears. (That’s why my hands disappeared before when I used them as my focus.) I note other sensations as they stand out as clear to me but allow them to stay in the periphery, because that’s where they are most clear. I note ”donut” when I notice that my attention is shaped like that. This weird attention span triggers a lot of thoughts and reflections. I note them to the best of my ability and try not to get lost in the stories.

For another session I plan to actually move my focus to what pops out in the periphery just to be able to note when it vanishes, because that will happen. However, this time I appreciated to see for myself that there actually is clarity somewhere. Just not where I want it to be.

It was interesting to notice that the more I tried to stay focused on the breath, the more outer sounds and sensations in the extremities stood out very clearly, whereas the breath eluded my attention. On the other hand, if I allowed my attention to shift to other objects, the breath was suddenly clear to me. At this stage, there really is a ”blind spot” in the center of my attention. How weird! It is cruel that this kicks in every time one passes the clarity of A&P. Still, when accepting that the center is just a big blur, I kind of enjoy this weird backward attention during meditation. In daily life it sucks, though, so I would really like to move on. I like the feeling of my body being dissolved, too, during meditation. It’s kind of a relief. I so hope that this is because I have come to accept that there is no me, not because of some destructive tendency, haha. It’s like my body is dissolving. The center disappears and the periphery dissolves into waves. It doesn’t feel solid.

I think this covers the three characteristics. I hope my appreciation of some aspects of it doesn’t mean that I’m clinging to this horrible state. I would like to move on.

This was only 20 minutes. My energy is low in dissolution, so that may be enough for one sit.

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1/6/19 1:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I sat for another 20 minutes because I felt like it. I tried shifting the center of my focus. It didn’t turn out exactly like I thought it would, but it made me discover something else. When I focused on my cat snooring a copule of meters away, the sensations of my own breathing stood out but I could still hear the snooring. When I focused on my own breath, the sound of my cat snooring stod out, and while the sensations of my breath faded in the center, they were still there in my cat’s snooring. We were synchronized and united. We were one and the same. This phase is not just about dissolution, but also about unity. They are two sides of the same coin. There is no need to fear dissolution of the self. It just means that I’m everywhere. Similarly, when something passes away, something else arises. It is really very beautiful.

I remember vaguely something hurting and me trying to focus on it to see if that too would disappear. It didn’t. Pain cuts through the blind spot. Because it becomes so vague, it only increases suffering. Then I shifted my focus away from it to move it into the periphery where there was clarity. That enabled me to disentangle the physical discomfort from my mental concept of it and feelings related to it, and the suffering went away.

There is quite a lot to learn from this stage. I’m starting to appreciate it.

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1/6/19 1:55 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I think it would be a really cool practice for two people who are both in dissolution to practice together and focus on each other’s breathing, to be able to experience their own breathing through the other person’s breathing, and to switch back and forth to realize that there are no real boundaries.

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1/6/19 3:34 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Maybe the point of all dukka nanas is to realize that all the opposites come together - dissolution with unity, fear with trust, misery with hope, disgust with compassion... That makes sense. I’m not afraid of being stuck in the dark night anymore. Its lessons are precious. It’s all about building up as much as it is about tearing apart. 

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1/7/19 12:00 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It seems to me that the nanas happen because we overcorrect a bit (Or a lot) in the course of vipassana. We go from constantly seeking a high of sukkha and trying vainly to repress or ignore dukkha (And of course trying to coalesce a sense of self in these things) to being hyper aware of dukkha and disillusioned with our various grabs at sukkha (And with sukkha itself). In classic buddhist cosmology this is like being momentarily reborn into the hell/hungry ghost/animal realms with the self coalescing with identity in dukkha. The trick is in tacking back to the center. Concentration definitely seems to help with this recentering. I find how this corresponds with the idea of rebirth relating to momentary mental states quite fascinating and beautiful.

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1/7/19 2:12 AM as a reply to Milo.
Makes sense. It doesn’t really explain the change of the attention field, though. That change seems important, because it enables us to be mindful about more sensations. Maybe it is a natural progression when insight or concentration has matured enough. To me it seems to have the purpose of making us see that there is no core of self at the center of our attention. Maybe that’s just me going religious and solidifying dependent arisings to something intentional. Anyway, it helps me to deal with dukkha.

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1/7/19 6:45 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m currently reading this very informative thread: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1191517
It confirms what I was beginning to suspect. I did not stumble over jhanas without meditating. I stumbled over hypnotic trance, and that is something significantly different although it seems to share some components. The piti and sukkha was there, I believe, at least in the beginning, but not the sati. I wasn’t mindful. Therefore I entered a dull yet very pleasant mode, susceptile to suggestion. It was a side track due to poor concentration and attention.

I’m actually really happy to realize this. I did cling to the false belief of having reached jhanas because of vanity, I guess, but most of all I wanted to understand the reality of what happened as it is. I knew that it was an altered state of consciousness but I wanted to understand its components. Now I’m able to recognize piti without sukkha and piti with sukkha. I’m only starting to get a sense of how to recognize sati, and I believe Mahasi noting could be a great tool for that. I need to cultivate sati. I need that in order to overwrite old habits that are unskillful, such as my avoidance problems, and I need it for the sake of liberation. Also, I believe it’s possible, now that I understand what I need to do.

Another reason this makes me happy is the realization that there are more goodies in the bag. That is secondary, though. I need to overwrite my bad habits before developing strong concentration skills. It’s sort of a relief that this possibility still remains, which is a third reason.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/7/19 8:42 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Wow wow wow WOW! I just received a long email from Michael Taft indicating that he would be interested in being my meditation teacher, if I understand it correctly. It has a client’s agreement document attached to it and everything. I’m so thrilled I can’t concentrate enough to read it. WOW!

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1/7/19 9:14 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Very cool!!! Best wishes for your practice!

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1/7/19 9:25 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Very cool!!! Best wishes for your practice!



Thanks! I still haven’t dared to read it more closesly, in case I misunderstood it (which would be utterly embarrassing). I should do that now.

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1/7/19 9:47 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It’s real, allright. And expensive. Maybe I’ll use my retirement savings. It could be a good investment. I’ll just not tell my mother.

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1/7/19 11:30 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It’s real, allright. And expensive. Maybe I’ll use my retirement savings. It could be a good investment. I’ll just not tell my mother.

I encourage you to sit with that idea for a resonable period of time (like a month) before acting on it, just to make sure you don't do something in a moment of exuberance that you'll later regret.

Best of luck to you!

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1/7/19 12:01 PM as a reply to dave m.
Don't spend your retirement savings on speculative stuff!

At minimum, you should ask Taft to talk to you free of charge at least ONCE for an hour or so so that you know he's an appropriate teacher for you. Did you ask Taft to be your teacher? Otherwise, how did he learn about you? I'm truly curious.

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1/7/19 2:00 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thanks for the advice, both of you! Yes, I will think it through, because it’s really very expensive. He already offered to talk if I have any questions before I decide, but I need to think it through before that. Otherwise I may be even more tempted to do something that I may not be able to afford. I wrote to him a while ago because I had listened to his podcast and started reading his book. I didn’t explicitly ask him to be my teacher, because I suspected that it would be expensive, but I told him about the challanges I had dealt with so far and about my background and thoughts, and the non-existent support for my practise (this was before I found this forum and all the resources here). So his email was a reply to mine, once he had found it in his junk mailbox. I guess I wanted to find out if he would consider himeself a fit for me before I asked, but I was going to ask him, and that was probably obvious from my letter. When he didn’t reply for several weeks, I just assumed that he was fully booked and received too many emails for him to be able to respond to all of them.

If I remember correctly, he is twice as expensive as Kenneth Folk, but I may be confusing numbers. I can’t find that post where somebody asked if his (Kenneth Folk’s) fees were reasonable. I don’t remember how long those sessions were either.

I think I’ll look for posts here about teaching to see how people work together and what is reasonable to expect, how many hours are needed to get some breakthrough and things like that. There is no way that I could afford to work with Michael Taft longterm. I don’t have that kind of money.

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1/7/19 2:59 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I'm truly astounded by the fact that some meditation teachers can get away with charging enormous prices for their time when there are monks (and some lay teachers) who are probably more qualified than them giving their knowledge away for free.
Being a book author seems to really pay off (though probably not by the book sales themselves).

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1/7/19 3:03 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I've met Michael and he definitely knows his stuff, but blowing one's pension on him or any teacher sounds rather shortsighted to me.

In just the few weeks you've been on this forum, it looks like you've already learned quite a bit and getting a lot out of your practice log. What about giving it a couple of months and then reassessing? That way, you will have a better idea what your needs are and if you do decide to spend all that money on a teacher it may be better spent.

Just a thought!

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1/7/19 3:12 PM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Yeah well... I guess even meditation teachers need to pay their bills.

I think I would be scared to approach a monk. I don’t know how to address them properly. Michael Taft seems like someone I would actually dare to ask the stupid questions. For that prize, though... Nah, I don’t know. I seem to be able to ask my stupid questions here for free. I guess it was too good to be true. I’ll think about it, but it would probably be irresponsible for me to pay such a large sum of money when I have trouble paying my bills.

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1/7/19 3:16 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
I've met Michael and he definitely knows his stuff, but blowing one's pension on him or any teacher sounds rather shortsighted to me.

In just the few weeks you've been on this forum, it looks like you've already learned quite a bit and getting a lot out of your practice log. What about giving it a couple of months and then reassessing? That way, you will have a better idea what your needs are and if you do decide to spend all that money on a teacher it may be better spent.

Just a thought!



I’m certain that he does. I believe he would be a great teacher. But yeah...

I was considering that. I might do that. Thanks!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/7/19 3:46 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Practice today was rather uninteresting. At least I wasn’t dull, but I was distracted quite a lot (mostly thinking about this forum and possible teachers). I was able to note it most of the times, which is at least something. There were very slow pulsating waves in the periphery most of the time (1 Hz or slower?), not very clear but they were there. There were moments of relative calmness. In the end I had my eyes open and could still feel the pulsating waves. They are rather reliable. I feel them even when I’m distracted. It’s not my pulse, by the way. I know the difference.

I went to a restorative yoga class earlier this evening. It was not the same teacher as before, so I didn’t reach the same level of calmness, but in the beginning of the class I felt heat in my hands (which are otherwise generally cold most of the time, especially when I’m resting) and the slow waves were very clear.

I think I am in dark night territory, but my fears at this time are mostly related to responsibilities and poor executive functioning, and I’m used to that and it generally does not come up during practice. It won’t stop me from practicing, so that’s a good thing.

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1/8/19 4:14 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m dealing with fear on an emotional level off the cushion now (responsibilty-related anxiety that usually manifests in avoidance). I don’t know if it’s related to the stage of fear, but it would make sense if it did. Any advice on how to move this struggle into the practice so that I can deal with it on a sensate level instead? I would rather deal with it on the cushion than letting pople down. I’m trying hard to be mindful of my avoidance tendencies and avoid them (hehe) but would love to find a way to move this beyond the emotional level.

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1/8/19 4:38 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Yeah well... I guess even meditation teachers need to pay their bills.

I think I would be scared to approach a monk. I don’t know how to address them properly. Michael Taft seems like someone I would actually dare to ask the stupid questions. For that prize, though... Nah, I don’t know. I seem to be able to ask my stupid questions here for free. I guess it was too good to be true. I’ll think about it, but it would probably be irresponsible for me to pay such a large sum of money when I have trouble paying my bills.


Hey Linda, Shinzen Young also has a large amount of free information online (youtube videos, podcast interviews etc.). There is also a facebook group called Shinheads that you could join. I always find Shinzen's advice to be extremely clear. https://www.youtube.com/user/expandcontract

Also, Culadasa: http://culadasa.com/teachings/

There's a lot of really great free info out there; just takes a while to sift through it all emoticon

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1/8/19 4:56 AM as a reply to Anna L.
Thank you Anna! That’s really kind. I have already joined Shinheads and watched hundreds of youtube videos with Shinzen Young and bought his book and started reading his written online resources. :-) I love the way he explains things. I have thought about joining his home practice program as well. I have come to appreciate Mahasi noting more, though, because there is a natural progression in it that I struggled to see in Shinzen’s very flexible program that probably requires more executive functioning than I possess.

There are really sooooo many resources out there. I have so much to read and watch and listen to! What I would need from a one on one teacher is probably somebody calling my bullshit and reminding me to stay focused, but also helping me to identify what exercises would develop the skills that I lack, and what I need to watch out for.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje
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1/8/19 5:58 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I’m dealing with fear on an emotional level off the cushion now (responsibilty-related anxiety that usually manifests in avoidance). I don’t know if it’s related to the stage of fear, but it would make sense if it did. Any advice on how to move this struggle into the practice so that I can deal with it on a sensate level instead? I would rather deal with it on the cushion than letting pople down. I’m trying hard to be mindful of my avoidance tendencies and avoid them (hehe) but would love to find a way to move this beyond the emotional level.

Deep breath...deep breath...

Okay, so here's what you need to keep in mind: in the dark night, dissolution, fear, misery, disgust, a desire for deliverance, and a freakout mind are all likely to occur ---- as mind states. You are basically being shown a movie of all of your hang ups, your shadow, your history. It's not because you are bad or flawed or unworthy. It's because your mind really does want to digest this old material and move beyond it. There is no way to move through things like trauma or PTSD or dark night without going through some difficult mind states. It's simply the nature of healing.

Notice how you are already thinking in terms of not being able to handle it, letting people down. There can be a lot of guilt and shame that also arises when we face our old materal, shadow self, and past history. Again, this is not because you are bad or flawed or unworthy. It is because the mind wants to protect itself and avoid stuff until it can move through it. 

The nature of mind is such that it wants to be safe AND it wants to heal. Healing involves going into those yucky sensations, awkward emotions, and oppressive thoughts with mindfulness, appreciation, friendliness, caring, and acceptance. When you go through these mindstates with awareness you realize that they are old baggage, not relevant, weather that is here now and gone later, not the same as the Self, transitory. You also can connect to the witnessing/aware mind that SEES all of this. This is what develop the more adult and sane mind that is resiliant. 

A mature, sane, and adult mind can experience fear, misery, disgust, desire for deliverance, and momentary freakout and say "oh, look at all these fears, look at all this misery, look at all this disgust, look at all these desires for deliverance, look at the mind momentarily freaking out." Ironically, it really is that simple. Of course, when we identify with the mind we tend to think/feel "I AM afraid, I AM miserable, I AM disgusted, I AM desiring for deliverance, I AM freaking out."

There really is no one on earth that can "teach" you to switch from one to the other. In the end, we need to ____GRADUALLY____ let ourselves be exposed to these difficult mindstates and let them happen and notice how the come and go.

A last point: as developing humans, we can become very paranoid about these difficult mindstates because we don't see the good in them. Why on earth should we sit on the cushion and go through all of this? What does it get us?

All these difficult mindstate will also have a piece of wisdom connected to it, sort of hidden within the noise. There is a >positive intention< that is within each state. Fear just really wants to keep us safe. Misery really wants the world to be more fair and just. Disgust really wants us to make better choices and care for ourselves. Desire for Deliverance really wants us to work carefully toward improving. And Reobservation really wants to give us a guided tour of all of our silly trigger thoughts/feelings so that we see that freaking out isn't helpful. So on one level, meditation is giving you a personally guided tour of all of the nonsense in our mind so that we can re-connect, re-interpret, re-evaluate the thoughts and feelings we have toward ourself and the world. 

This is also why mediation improves psychology and morality --- we have to go through this character growth in order to be able to rest in Equanimity as a stable state. If we don't grow and develop, then any little dark night blip of discomfort will throw us around. When Equanimity is mature, aspects of the dark night pop up as little purifications and we can even go through a Reobservation-like mindstate without being freaked out.

The normal human progress for developing resiliancy is:
* first we are only stable when the body and mind is stable
* then we can be stable when the body is freaking out but the mind stays clear
* finally we are so grounded in the Self that we can be stable when the body and mind is freaking out

It really is amazing what is possible... but we have to ____gradually develop_____ these skils. While meditation on the battlefield is theoretically possible, we can't start a meditation practice there. We would just traumatize and re-traumatize ourself. We have to gradually develop calmness in the face of challenges. And these challenges should be at an appropriate dose, so that we can develop resilancy over time.

You have to learn your weaknesses and take them into account. Are you someone that rushes foolishly into too much intensity? Are you someone that repressess and avoids direct experience? Are you someone that fantasizes that suffering is heroic and a good thing? Are you someone that fantasizes that suffering means you are a failure and will never be any good? We all have tendencies toward greedy, aversive, or delusion modes of relating to our inner experiences... it's important to learn the ways we cling, avoid, and are indifferent to our experience. 

Build a support group before things get tough (normal firends, meditation friends, teachers, advisors, etc.), study the terrain through books and conversations with others --- and when the time is right, go slow and go through.



A forum will never be able to provide perfectly accurite advice and no one should blindly trust/believe/follow anything they read on the internet!! So you have to take responsibility for yourself. My own sense is you are going a little too fast and need to slow down, but I don't believe that that is necessarily the right advice either. You need to decide for yourself.


Hope this helps in some way!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje
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1/8/19 6:10 AM as a reply to shargrol.
+1 to shargrol! Nice post.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 6:33 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It dawned on me that if the fear didn’t show up in the practice, I needed to move the practice into the fear. I decided to use the rest of the lunch break to practice, approcimately 25 minutes. I sat down in my office, by my desk. My two bosses were heaving a meeting with some collegues in the room right next to mine, so I could hear them talking and use them as triggers. This was a great idea.

The anxiety manifests as a sensation of slightly increased pressure to the heart, usually very temporarily. It is often followed by avoidance, because mental constructions following the mere sensation makes it worse than it is. I tend to notice the avoiding, which is followed by judgement and feelings of being a failure, which trigger thoughts about what I need to do, leading to more anxiety with pressure of the heart. If I stay with the sensations, they don’t get worse than that, though. Then I could note acceptance of the feeling and relief. The anxiety arose again several times, but it was short and very managable on a sensate level. I started to notice that my bosses’ and other colleagues’ voices also made me happy. From time to time, that reminded me of their expectations on me and my feelings of responsibility, which triggered anxiety. I could accept that. I started to notice motivation, lust, related to work. Those positive feelings scared me, triggering pressure to the heart. It was a relief to realize that there is motivation and lust lurking under the fear.

I was able to note diligently. I appreciate the returning clarity and energy in fear. Thoughts. I can actually make use of the energy and clarity in my work. All these stages have relative advantages. I can work with those.

There were slow wavelike vibrations, mostly in my hands touching my lap. Sometimes my breath felt synchronized with the vibrations, which made breathing much easier. Other times, it felt as if the breath was struggling woth the vibrations. The frequency of the vibrations was slightly more than 1 Hz. These waves made my body feel very unstable, but that doesn’t scare me. I felt grounded by the solid sensations of the floor to my feet and the chair to my butt. Something about that was dissatisfying. I noticed a whirring sound in my right ear and decided to speed up the noting to include more sense doors, which made me more mindful. That made the whirring go away somewhat. I noticed tensions between stableness and unstableness. The floor and the chair felt very solid whereas my body didn’t. That manifested as stiffness in my upper back, among other things, and also as whirring in the ear. I also noted confusion from the contradiction. I decided to investigate the stableness of the floor to my feet. In focusing on my feet, it felt very stable. Then I remembered that clarity is diminished in the centered so I focused on the breath but kept the feet in my awareness. That way I could feel the slow wavelike vibrations there too. Breathing was easier. Relief. I don’t need false security. May the ground falter if that is what it takes to reach liberation!

Now I’ll read Shargrol’s answer and then work.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje
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1/8/19 7:04 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thank you, Shargrol! <3

You know what? I actually am ready to take meditation into the battle field, since this battle field is a workplace that I do love, and I have gone through this enough to actually know what is happening. I have been watching these tendencies follow each other for years now. I have a support group, too, online, with a group of friends who share these kinds of thoughts all the time. They often trace their hang-ups back to their childhood and to relationship stuff triggering old traumas. I have felt for a long time that going into all these stories doesn’t help me, though, because that’s not where the problem is. Trying to interpret it that way is just clinging to a self narrative that I have felt is only limiting and rather pointless for several years now. You are right. It’s old baggage. Clinging to firm ground is just false security.

This will probably take some work, but I will continue to take my practice into the workplace and into all those areas that need the reality check of mindful investigation.

I know that it probably doesn’t seem like it on this forum, but I’m actually a very stable person. I’m almost ridiculously constructive. I had to stop going to therapy because my therapist thought I was too constructive and stable for the county to prioritize me over other patients, and I could understand that. I usually solved the problems on my own and then just reported. That was years ago, and I haven’t felt the need to take up therapy. I have stable relationships and am known to be the peace maker of my community. I take care of myself well and I’m able to say no when I need to. I have very sane boundaries. I do struggle with avoidance behaviour, though, and I don’t like it. I’m making some progress. Initially, taking up meditation led to remarkable progress, but lately I have fallen back into old habits a little too much. That does disappoint me. There is no point in denying that. I don’t think ”fake it til you make it” is the right way to reach equanimity, so I’ll work on my mindfulness instead.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje
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1/8/19 7:29 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I find myself going back to basics quite often. When things are particularly stressful I've learned that one simple meditation practice can really help to reset the mind. It's called "noting."

emoticon

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje
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1/8/19 7:45 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yep. It does help. I just need to do it when and where the anxiety arises. That’s where I hold on to illusions about self the most.

It was probably misleading to describe it as strong anxiety. It is more like vague and persistant over the years and demoralizing in a way that I’m really fed up with. It’s not panic attacks.

(Waiting for others to show up for a meeting now, not avoiding work in case anyone wondered. :-) )

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje
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1/8/19 7:49 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
 It is more like vague and persistant over the years and demoralizing in a way that I’m really fed up with. It’s not panic attacks.

That's familiar to me. It's what originally drove me to meditation. I had a nagging, underlying, always-present anxious feeling. I wanted not just to get it to stop but to figure out what it was and why it was there. I felt I was out of sync with the world, that there was some part of my perceptions and mental processing that caused it. It was noting practice that eventually allowed me to figure out much of the how and why of it.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 8:07 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Yeah well... I guess even meditation teachers need to pay their bills.

I think I would be scared to approach a monk. I don’t know how to address them properly.
Oh, that's pretty easy. Monks and nuns are humans, too (:

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot proje
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1/8/19 2:27 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
 It is more like vague and persistant over the years and demoralizing in a way that I’m really fed up with. It’s not panic attacks.

That's familiar to me. It's what originally drove me to meditation. I had a nagging, underlying, always-present anxious feeling. I wanted not just to get it to stop but to figure out what it was and why it was there. I felt I was out of sync with the world, that there was some part of my perceptions and mental processing that caused it. It was noting practice that eventually allowed me to figure out much of the how and why of it.



Thank you for sharing! This brings hope. I want to know, too. I have really come to appreciate Mahasi noting for this purpose. You were right. I’m grateful for the advice.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 2:29 PM as a reply to Raving Rhubarb.
Raving Rhubarb:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Yeah well... I guess even meditation teachers need to pay their bills.

I think I would be scared to approach a monk. I don’t know how to address them properly.
Oh, that's pretty easy. Monks and nuns are humans, too (:



You are right, of course. Something about it scares me. I should investigate that.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 2:54 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This evening I made a practical mindfulness exercise. I took notice of all healthy and skillful intentions that arose and let them transform into will instead of avoiding them. Wow, what a relief!

I noticed that I love the feeling of relief. That made me wonder why I love it and what components make up the sensations, and how I recognize it as relief. It is mostly a prickly set of sensations. Lots of prickly formations are subjectively deemed as horrible. Guilt and shame tend to prickle and burn in my neck. The sensatations making up relief are cooler, but not as cold and intense as fear. The location is different too. I’m not entirely sure where these sensations occur, but I think the upper back is involved. Maybe behind the heart? I must investigate the sensate components of all these feelings more thoroughly. Strange, really, that the arising and passing away of pressure and temperature on very small areas but widely spread in a similar fashion is interpreted so differently depending on differences that I’m barely even aware of. How much of it is contextual and thus mental constructions? How much is on the sensate level?

Silly how I have avoided skillful behavior so many times over the years because of sensations (related to fear, shame and guilt) that are not that different from those that I really enjoy. It’s really very arbitrary.

I guess I need to deconstruct relief as well, even though the illusory me prefers it over anxiety, fear, guilt and shame any time. I want to deconstruct myself in a more reflective way instead of continuing this Pavlov’s dog behavior based on sensations that aren’t really satisfactory.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 3:17 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Then I noticed pride for kicking ass with avoidance this evening, which is ironic, because that is just the ”self” acting like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I can’t really take credit for just letting intentions naturally transform into will. Not while doing Vipassana. It is also ironic that pride seems to manifest as pressure sensations around the heart, just like anxiety. Is my delusional ”self” taking refuge in the heart? Is pride and anxiety basically the same thing, namely clinging of the self?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 4:28 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Before going to sleep I decided to sit for 20 minutes to check in with the vibrations. Lately I have been sitting on a schaize lounge (spelling?) because my legs tend to fall asleep but now I sat on a cushion on the mat. My right leg did fall asleep after a while, but I didn’t care that much. Noting was fluent and faster than before. There was mindfulness. The vibrations had changed. They were softer but also less regular. The main waves were about 2 Hz on average, but there was also a subtle energetic buzzing of faster vibrations. There were tensions and that flickering whirring in my right ear. I investigated conflicts in my observations. The solid ground wasn’t that solid. The whirring continued. What am I missing? There was itching. For a moment it seemed that the annoying itching in the right eye arose and increased during inbreath and vanished during outbreath, but that wasn’t consistent. Occasional lightness.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 4:35 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Nice work, Linda. I'm very interested to hear your narration of going through the nanas as I still don't have a great grasp of mapping these to my own practice. Interesting observation about similar sensations being interpreted differently at different points on the body etc. So, none of that data has an inherent core quality that makes it one thing or another on its own right?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 4:43 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I must say that it is so much easier to go through the dukkha nanas now that I know what is going on. It’s fascinating how predictable this process is. It really isn’t about me! And now that there is direction, it all happens so fast. ”This too shall pass” has a whole new meaning to me now. Quite possibly this is not the end of it. Cycling may continue. But if the challenges are as managable as this, I can take it. If I wake up all miserable tomorrow, I shall remember this. Also, I shall remember that misery is accompanied by hope. There are things that I can do to make the world a better place. Even small things make a difference.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/8/19 4:53 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
Nice work, Linda. I'm very interested to hear your narration of going through the nanas as I still don't have a great grasp of mapping these to my own practice. Interesting observation about similar sensations being interpreted differently at different points on the body etc. So, none of that data has an inherent core quality that makes it one thing or another on its own right?



Right. They are all depending on contextual interpretations and stories, I guess. Mental constructions.

And thanks! The vibrations are very helpful in the mapping process. And the energy. My energy levels vary enormously, so that’s a clue I just cannot miss. And I really did feel fear today. Yesterday too, a bit. I think I have had this very cycle for years now without realizing what was going on. The patterns are familiar to me.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/9/19 12:27 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Tonight I dreamt that a sharp pain in my foot was just my delusional self resisting and fighting for its survival.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/9/19 7:17 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Uhm... Something has happened with my attention span and ability to focus. A couple of months ago I could barely walk and carry a tea cup at the same time. Today I noted three layers at the same time while walking fast and watching out for the trafic more mindfully than I have ever done. What the... How is this possible? I have an attention disability for crying out loud! I understand the kazoo and orchestra metaphor better now, although I’m still using the kazoo. It really is a symphony. A wild and fast one. If I let go of the noting I can enjoy the wide chaotic input. There is a clarity to it. Normally I get overwhelmed by so much sensory input, but now it’s invigorating.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/9/19 7:31 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
To be honest, I am a bit overwhelmed. Wherever I am in the nanas now, I probably need to relax, so I’ll do that.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/9/19 2:42 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
45 minutes. First part mindful, last part spacing out.

Breath more nuanced. Soft slow vibrations together with subtle irregular buzzes at higher frequency.

Startled by gong. Some kriyas. Relaxed and calm. Too calm. The heightened clarity and energy are gone. Easy come, easy go.

Tired. Can be a food reaction, though. Seems like it.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 3:26 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have a vague memory of either waking up from sleep while meditating or dreaming that I did.

My body hurts in a way that tells me that I definitely had a reaction to the food (uhm, walnut icecream) I had yesterday. No wonder that I was so tired. I should stop fooling myself that it will be okay this time. Although no doctor can explain why I have these reactions, I do have them, and they affect my ability to focus.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 5:28 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I feel rather useless today. I keep reminding myself that it was expected, not only because it usually happens on a regular basis, especially after an energy boost when I think I have finally faced my fears, but also because the dharma maps actually predicted it. Even though it feels like this is me being useless, again, it actually isn’t about me. It sorts of becomes me, though, if I act on it. So I’ll try not to, but also try to accept whatever happens, or at least just take notice of it. And if taking notice of it doesn’t work out, I will take notice of that. That’s somewhat realistic, I think.

I had planned to write on my article this morning, but I didn’t manage to. I did manage to be mindful of some other skillful impulses, though, and let them transform into will. That’s at least something. I have these diagnoses for a reason. It’s not realistic to believe that meditation will miraculously take away all my difficulties. I need to accept that, but I find myself hoping too much and getting disappointed. It’s probably good that I notice that. I have scheduled a walking meditation in the woods today inbetween two appointments at the hospital, since I’m stuck in the area anyway due to logistics. Instead of feeling bad for wasting time, I’ll make the best of it. I don’t walk in the woods often enough. When I feel miserable I usually don’t manage to take the initiative. I don’t expect the noting to be as fluent as yesterday, but at least the nature will keep me grounded and make fe feel better, I hope.

And if I don’t manage to do some writing afterwards, I will at least do some errands. And meditate. Yup.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 6:04 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Did a mini sitting for about ten minutes while waiting for food to heat up. Noting was surprisingly fluent after all. I noticed different sensory elements of thoughts triggering each other or accompanying each other so rapidly that I sometimes just noted ”senses” to cover it all for every formation (I’m not entirely sure I’m using the word correctly, but it seems to be a useful concept). I was able to note intentions and other subtle mind states rather often. I was able to return to the breath inbetween other sensations although they were many. The noting was relatively rapid, using myself as reference point.

Maybe I should do short sits more often and then gradually work up my ability to focus for a longer time.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 6:40 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
As for the three characteristics of all this... apparently the different dukkha nanas are very transient, for good and for bad. That’s impermanence. As I have understood it, I need to be able to instantly recignize impermanence in all sensations or formations that arise. Well, duh, of course they are all transient. Am I missing an important point here? How is this a challenge? Hm, maybe I need to really torture myself with itches to take this to another level, knowing it emotionally as well, becuase yeah, itching certainly does feel more solid than I would like it to. So do the sensations of legs regaining their proper circulation. Yikes.

As for the no self part, I guess the challange lies in finding those things that still feel like ”me” and tear them apart?

As for unsatisfactoriness, I’m hoping that it has to do with how nothing makes me truly happy as long as I cling to a separate self. I don’t have to actually dislike everything and everyone, right?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 6:46 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Like, dislike, or not care -- it's all dukkha   emoticon

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 7:01 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Like, dislike, or not care -- it's all dukkha   emoticon

Right. Because liking is attachment (craving), disliking is resistance (craving to get away from), and not caring is apathy which is sort of resistance in disguise, and definitely not something that would make anyone truly satisfied. Dissociation is not equanimity, and equanimity is not permanent.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 7:38 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
One thing that I should work on with regard to no self is how I react to not being believed by for instance the doctor. Apparently ha can’t cure it, so why feeling bad about his doubts? It hurts my pride, so obviously pride is something that the self uses as a defence. What are the actual sensations of pride? A vague pressure around the heart (like the heart being held?)? What is that to hold on to? And what are the sensations of pride being hurt? Also vague pressure around the heart, it seems (more like a squeeze, perhaps, but not painful). It may be accompanied by faster heart beats (pressure sensations and frequency) and tensions in muscles (pressure sensations, I guess), but that happens for many different reasons. So how do I even know that my pride has been hurt? It’s all stories. No need for that unnecessary baggage.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 8:44 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Taking a break in walking meditation.

Started with noting walking for each step and then added other notings. I was unable to note rising and falling of the abdomen (breath) without synchronizing it with the steps. Soon breathing and walking synchronized on their own. Tried to desynchronize them in case I had been forcing it, but they just fell back in rythm. The rythm and time signature varied, but somehow the breath always seemed to find a way to stay synchronized, occasionally as syncopation or back beat or just variations of the melody. Then my arms started waving back and forth. They were initially out of rythm. As I noticed that, they quickly fell into rythm without any conscious intention from my part. I wonder if they would have done it had I not noticed them. Maybe they would, because it is probably more effective for the body to move when synchronized with itself and with the breath (it certainly is in yoga). I just wasn’t aware of the extent to which the body does things on its own.

Felt strongly that I miss a former friend whom I had to break with due to circumstances several years ago. Identity related circumstances and boundarie issues (complicated story to say the least). Felt sad and nostalgic. Would awakening or at least equanimity change things there? Maybe. Would reaching out be a good thing? I don’t know. Even if it would mean letting go of some things, it would also be clinging in other respects.

Cold. Have to walk.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 9:26 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Upon walking I noticed that my left arms syncronizes with the legs immediately, unlike my right arm, which is more stiff. That’s probably why I noticed the right arm swaying out of rythm. Being more mindful than before I had noticed stiffness due to carrying a bag in my right arm as I usually do. Therefore I had switched arms (which I noted). When the usual pattern didn’t arise right away, my attention was alerted.

Attention thus is based on what is expected and unexpected (I know that there is scientific evidence to this, especially with regard to neurotypical people but less so with autistic people like me). Something in this formation of ”me” knew that the arms are supposed to synchronize with the legs, out of experience I guess, even though I usually don’t think about it.

I think I noticed in the corner of my eye that my mind had failed to fill in the gaps when I turned my head while simultaneously gazing above my glasses so that the frame of my glasses shattered the image of a lamp post. When the mind filled in the blanks that occur when the head turns rapidly, it didn’t put the lamp post together. It was in two pieces, with the upper part levitating above the lower part. Kind of funny.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 2:20 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Sat for 30 minutes. Couldn’t feel any vibrations. Sleepy. Muscle pain (many reasons possible).

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/10/19 3:39 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
After pain killers kicked in, I gave it another shot för 15 minutes. More mindful. There were subtle slow waves there after all. Managed to sit on mat.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/11/19 9:50 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I thought I would be able to focus more after a yoga class (hatha yoga), but I didn’t get the usual energy boost from yoga today. Instead I felt nausious. We were working with the throat chakra; I have no idea whether that had anything to do with it. Anyway, I tried meditating lying down on a wooden sofa with my knees high and my feet resting against the armrest. I did noting through the whole session, which was only 20 minutes. That went okay, I guess, but lacked clarity. I have trouble perceiving anything special about the breath. It arises and passes and arises and passes, sure. So what? That’s pretty basic, isn’t it? Why would breathing be me and why would it be satisfying? I don’t get it. Maybe I should focus more on mental processes that I actually tend to think of as me. I didn’t think that much, though. One of my cats lay down on me and started purring. Do I need to see that as dukkha in order to progress? Do I need to focus on finding the unsatisfactoriness of a purring cat on my lap as they choose to come to me while I meditate? That seems... coldhearted.

I didn’t feel any waves (except for the breathing, the pulse, and the purring of course). During yoga I did, though. They were slow and heavy.

Maybe I’ll try again later today.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/11/19 11:10 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Another 20 minues.

I skipped the breath as default focus of attention since I can’t perceive it with clarity anyway. I tried choiceless awareness and forced myself to investigate new sensations instead of returning to one set of sensations. This time I could feel the waves, so I guess the clarity was somewhat better. I noticed being annoyed. I noticed many intentions to swallow. At the same time I really didn’t want to swallow. ”My” intentions aren’t really mine. I had to swallow anyway. It’s a reflex, sort of, that I’m not fully in control over. Swallowing happens. Very irritating. I noticed some compulsion related to tics. When I didn’t act on them, they eventually passed away.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/12/19 5:52 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I dedicated 20 minutes to diligently investigate what made up sensations that arose. I came to focus on the light phenomena on the black screen behind my eyelids. There seems to be very tiny dots of light that arise and pass faster than I can measure. I tried to stare at one point in space continuously, but that was impossible. Formations of light dots swirled suggestively around the spot and over it and drew attention away from the spot. Eye lids trembled and flickered open to disturb the image with other input. Although eyes were already closed, there was this strange urge to blink. Formations arose next to the point in space, drawing attention. There seemed to be a figure ground shifting that made it impossible to stay with the same spot. Even when not giving in to any of this, attention was not continuous, and because the scenery is constantly changing, identifying the same spot was simply not possible. There was disorientation.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/12/19 7:36 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I forgot to mention that I also tried to investigate the urge to swallow. I think there were pressure sensations in the throat and impulses to do something about them. Fear is involved somehow. Of being suffocated? At some point it was like the impulses just took over and did the swallowing. I’m not sure if this is true or if I chickened out. Maybe it’s a reaction pattern that takes over and gives the illusion of no agency, since no conscious decision has been made. Maybe it is actually a reflex that kicks in when fluid hits a certain trigger. I don’t know. Anyway, later I found that I would rather make a conscious decision to swallow than have this happen. I don’t know exactly what I feel the need to avoid in this. Is it the panicky feeling of being suffocated (that I still haven’t been able to investigate thoroughly) or is it the feeling of having agency taken from ”me”? Both? I don’t know. Rationally, there is no way that I would be anywhere near actually suffocating. I suspect that in any case, this has something to do with the self trying to defend itself. Fear seems to be an effective tool for it.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/12/19 7:43 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I think I may have rationalized it as getting it over with, because swallowing was bound to happen either way and thus it would just simplify things if I just cut to the chase. Then I would be able to be attentive to whatever would arise. But this actually means that I wasn’t attentive at all. I forced it because being attentive to the process unfolding without forcing it would be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable was something that did arise, and I just wanted to make it go away.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/12/19 7:53 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Maybe this is a cause and effect thing, where paying attention to something that normally occurs automatically, messes with the process.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/12/19 8:02 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
According to some web page, don’t remember which one, it is normal to automatically swallow saliva once or twice every minute, so there is bound to be some swallowing during a session of formal practice. Failing to swallow will eventually lead to suffocating. It would probably be best to just let swallowing return to being automatic even if there is awareness of it, just like with the breath. No need for agency there, as long as it’s done.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/12/19 8:24 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I noticed now a thought that maybe being aware of and attentive to what occurs could mess up automatic functions needed for survival to the extent that it’s pathological and even dangerous. I write that off as a typical manifestation of fear that is to be expected at this point. Survival reflexes will kick in eventually, unless there is a strong determination of ending one’s life. I have no such intention, so there is no need for worry.

There really is resistance from the self. Parts of the separate ”me” don’t want to be attentive. They are fighting for survival as a separate entity, which is really ironic, because this conflict illustrates clearly that there is no inner unity. Also, if the self was really a separate entity, why would it be threatened by further investigation of the matter?

This brings me to again think about that investigation of the swirls on the black screen. It was as if something deliberately tried to draw my attention away from the investigation and into the swirling itself, being caught up in it without the mindfulness that investigation requires. Who was that? Me? Or a reactive pattern? Avoidance?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log - a pilot project
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1/12/19 8:56 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I decided to investigate for ten minutes (while cooking) if it is at all possible for me to look into the shapes and patterns of the swirls without loosing mindfulness. As it turned out, it is. At least for ten minutes.

I was unable to will the swirls into existance, but they appeared when I was mindful of other sensations. Sometimes it almost seemed like small brights spots were manifestations of something coming into awareness. Some of these spots then inverted into their opposite: little dark spots.

The swirls seem to have certain returning patterns of behavior:
1) They spiral, mostly clockwise I think. I think I may have seen them change direction before, but I didn’t take notice of it this time. Before I have also seen them alternate between moving inwardly and outwardly, but that didn’t occur within this timespan.
2) There is a figure ground reversal where the dark background becomes the purple swirl and the purple swirl becomes the dark background.