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Am I doing it right?
Answer
11/7/10 12:54 PM
Dear all

I first posted back in April when I was just emerging from a long illness that was probably dark night related. I had not practiced for about 4 years but was feeling a strong urge to re-connect. Since then I have gradually upped my cushion time to an hour a day, and looking to push out to 2 hours, today will be the first time. 2 hours is what I am used to do and is where I feel comfortable.

I have diagnosed my self as being in early equanimity. For a while I thought late equanimity, but that was a bit optimistic. I have settled on a noting practice a la Mahasi Sayadaw, mainly because the expertise available to me (you guys) is coming from that direction. Lucky for me it appears to be working. I sit with a Zen group but I have zero issues with the practice instruction I receive there. It all makes perfect sense with what I experience in my noting practice.

However, I was bed-ridden a year ago (in a literal sense) and had not practiced for a long time, and now I am in equanimity? I feel that with this sudden turn around I should be more than just mildly pleased with my self. Whatever.

But I do need to know if I'm doing it right. To whit:

I have moved through the need to actually note anything now. Sensations are obviously exactly what they appear to be; not me (or anything else), momentary and not that special actually; and I don't seem to need the discipline of formally logging them as "noted". In fact any kind of mental process around noticing just gets in the way. So I just observe my attention zipping around all over the place, and zip it does. I have also noticed that the faster it goes the more sensitive and accurate the process is. It appears to be "natural". Fast is good, right? And exhilarating (I know, just notice the sensations of exhilaration). This might be a problem, the exhilaration that is, if it were not for the other stuff that I do along side.

Tarin has advised looking into the background is of sensations is the way to go. So if you notice something in the foreground you should strive to catch it in context, not in conceptual way, but to see the sensations around and behind it; and then see between them. I also have a feeling that I can and should be striving to see "in" to stuff and maybe through stuff? It sounds a bit sci-fi but it makes perfect sense on the cushion. The important thing for me about this advice is that it has sharpened up my attention, focuses it some how. I have often read that the attention we should bring to our practice is of being on the edge of your seat, looking forward to what the next moment of experience will bring. I have always felt that I was doing that, it turns out I was not, now maybe I am. This quality of attention has a specific sensation that I can notice in and of itself; I have been trying to stay with it, but for the moment is eludes consistent noticing. Is there anything to be gained by trying to abide in this sensation?

Walking practice. I do about ten minutes in the middle of my sit, Zen style. Tarin advised walking too. I find that this dramatically sharpens up my sense of spaciousness. It’s much easier to notice a 360 sensation when on the move. It appears to have something to do with changes in the visual field (I sit with eyes open). This spaciousness has a similar sensation to the one I get when I try to see the background of things. Not identical but very similar. Same question is there any benefit from trying to abide in this sensation.

I read something a while ago about specific practices that can push you towards stream entry. One suggested was finding the point where "internal" and "external" sensations meet and then abiding in that point. This made perfect sense to me at the time and it is something that I now do. It results in a very similar kind of sharpening that I get when I try to see into the background of things or try to observe 360 spaciousness, the sensation of this is also similar.

I've also been experimenting with the daydreaming drop-outs that one gets when the mind wanders off from the present moment. In an hour I probably get maybe a one or two of these and only for a couple of minutes. Most of the time I can stay connected to the process. What I am now noticing now are the variations in quality of the mindfulness itself, it can be bright, dull, half formed, confused etc (I know, just note the confusion etc.) Also when the mind wanders it’s not just a full-on multimedia experience then back to mindfulness but all kinds of interesting graduations of wandering off-ness that may involve one or two or all the senses. I tend to get alarm bells when two sense doors go AWOL. It can be interesting to watch one of them (hearing is the easiest) do its thing. When I say hearing, I mean the voice in your head that, incorrectly, narrates your life. Any benefit in this?

That's pretty much what I do right now. The real problem is that I'm having a lot of fun with my practice at the moment. Most of it feels on-message but I don't want to wander off and get lost somewhere.

Any thoughts? Advice?

Thanks

Howard

RE: Am I doing it right?
Answer
11/8/10 9:20 AM as a reply to Howard Clegg.
Howard Clegg:

I have diagnosed my self as being in early equanimity. For a while I thought late equanimity, but that was a bit optimistic. I have settled on a noting practice a la Mahasi Sayadaw, mainly because the expertise available to me (you guys) is coming from that direction. Lucky for me it appears to be working. I sit with a Zen group but I have zero issues with the practice instruction I receive there. It all makes perfect sense with what I experience in my noting practice.

However, I was bed-ridden a year ago (in a literal sense) and had not practiced for a long time, and now I am in equanimity? I feel that with this sudden turn around I should be more than just mildly pleased with my self. Whatever.

pleased.


Howard Clegg:

I have moved through the need to actually note anything now. Sensations are obviously exactly what they appear to be; not me (or anything else), momentary and not that special actually; and I don't seem to need the discipline of formally logging them as "noted". In fact any kind of mental process around noticing just gets in the way. So I just observe my attention zipping around all over the place, and zip it does. I have also noticed that the faster it goes the more sensitive and accurate the process is. It appears to be "natural". Fast is good, right? And exhilarating (I know, just notice the sensations of exhilaration). This might be a problem, the exhilaration that is, if it were not for the other stuff that I do along side.

fast.


Howard Clegg:

Tarin has advised looking into the background is of sensations is the way to go. So if you notice something in the foreground you should strive to catch it in context, not in conceptual way, but to see the sensations around and behind it; and then see between them. I also have a feeling that I can and should be striving to see "in" to stuff and maybe through stuff? It sounds a bit sci-fi but it makes perfect sense on the cushion. The important thing for me about this advice is that it has sharpened up my attention, focuses it some how. I have often read that the attention we should bring to our practice is of being on the edge of your seat, looking forward to what the next moment of experience will bring. I have always felt that I was doing that, it turns out I was not, now maybe I am. This quality of attention has a specific sensation that I can notice in and of itself; I have been trying to stay with it, but for the moment is eludes consistent noticing. Is there anything to be gained by trying to abide in this sensation?

attention.


Howard Clegg:

Walking practice. I do about ten minutes in the middle of my sit, Zen style. Tarin advised walking too. I find that this dramatically sharpens up my sense of spaciousness. It’s much easier to notice a 360 sensation when on the move. It appears to have something to do with changes in the visual field (I sit with eyes open). This spaciousness has a similar sensation to the one I get when I try to see the background of things. Not identical but very similar. Same question is there any benefit from trying to abide in this sensation.

spacious.


Howard Clegg:

I read something a while ago about specific practices that can push you towards stream entry. One suggested was finding the point where "internal" and "external" sensations meet and then abiding in that point. This made perfect sense to me at the time and it is something that I now do. It results in a very similar kind of sharpening that I get when I try to see into the background of things or try to observe 360 spaciousness, the sensation of this is also similar.

trying.


Howard Clegg:

I've also been experimenting with the daydreaming drop-outs that one gets when the mind wanders off from the present moment. In an hour I probably get maybe a one or two of these and only for a couple of minutes. Most of the time I can stay connected to the process. What I am now noticing now are the variations in quality of the mindfulness itself, it can be bright, dull, half formed, confused etc (I know, just note the confusion etc.) Also when the mind wanders it’s not just a full-on multimedia experience then back to mindfulness but all kinds of interesting graduations of wandering off-ness that may involve one or two or all the senses. I tend to get alarm bells when two sense doors go AWOL. It can be interesting to watch one of them (hearing is the easiest) do its thing. When I say hearing, I mean the voice in your head that, incorrectly, narrates your life. Any benefit in this?

wandering.


Howard Clegg:

That's pretty much what I do right now. The real problem is that I'm having a lot of fun with my practice at the moment. Most of it feels on-message but I don't want to wander off and get lost somewhere.

fascination, fun.


*


your self-diagnosis seems good, keep going.

tarin

RE: Am I doing it right?
Answer
11/8/10 10:29 AM as a reply to Howard Clegg.
Tarin

Thank you so much. Again.

Howard

RE: Am I doing it right?
Answer
11/8/10 1:29 PM as a reply to Howard Clegg.
Actually, that works rather well.