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diary of demoxenos

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diary of demoxenos Demoxenos 3/28/19 1:26 PM
3.27.19 – first try with fire kasina Demoxenos 3/28/19 1:31 PM
RE: 3.27.19 Hibiscus Kid 3/28/19 2:24 PM
RE: RE: 3.27.19 Demoxenos 4/1/19 11:51 AM
3.30.19 – visual (un)clarity Demoxenos 3/30/19 9:59 PM
4.11.19 - seeing a red dot // some basic questions about the 3 dharma seals Demoxenos 4/11/19 9:10 AM
RE: 4.11.19 - seeing a red dot // some basic questions about the 3 dharma s Andromeda 4/11/19 10:01 AM
RE: diary of demoxenos Demoxenos 4/16/19 9:46 PM
4.26.19 – dreams and nightmares Demoxenos 4/26/19 10:06 PM
5.2.19 - do nothing meditation Demoxenos 5/3/19 5:32 PM
RE: 5.2.19 - do nothing meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/4/19 4:00 AM
RE: 5.2.19 - do nothing meditation Demoxenos 5/4/19 7:42 PM
9.2.17 — wizard's hut under a full moon Demoxenos 5/4/19 7:42 PM
RE: 9.2.17 — wizard's hut under a full moon Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/5/19 12:30 AM
RE: 9.2.17 — wizard's hut under a full moon Demoxenos 5/18/19 11:01 AM
5.5.19 — getting what I needed Demoxenos 5/18/19 11:09 AM
RE: 5.5.19 — getting what I needed Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/4/19 12:50 AM
RE: 5.5.19 — getting what I needed Demoxenos 7/12/19 12:59 AM
5.18.19 — waves of awareness? Demoxenos 5/18/19 11:28 AM
5.25.19 - visual jumping beans Demoxenos 5/27/19 12:27 PM
6.12.19 - bugs on face Demoxenos 6/12/19 2:34 AM
RE: diary of demoxenos J C 7/4/19 1:29 AM
RE: diary of demoxenos Demoxenos 8/8/19 4:53 PM
7.2.19 – doing nothing Demoxenos 7/3/19 9:49 PM
RE: 7.2.19 – doing nothing Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/4/19 12:58 AM
RE: 7.2.19 – doing nothing Demoxenos 7/12/19 1:03 AM
7.11.19 - camera dolly around skull Demoxenos 7/12/19 12:51 AM
8.6.19 - lost the dot Demoxenos 8/7/19 5:23 PM
RE: diary of demoxenos shargrol 8/8/19 5:46 AM
RE: diary of demoxenos Demoxenos 8/8/19 3:03 PM
8.21.19 – jolted, by who? Demoxenos 8/21/19 5:17 PM
8.22.19 – vast spacious awareness through non-visual senses Demoxenos 8/23/19 12:01 AM
8.25.19 – hell realm Demoxenos 8/25/19 10:45 PM
8.27.19 - hungry ghost realm Demoxenos 8/28/19 3:36 PM
RE: 8.27.19 - hungry ghost realm Siavash Mahmoudpour 8/29/19 5:17 AM
RE: 8.27.19 - hungry ghost realm Siavash Mahmoudpour 8/29/19 5:21 AM
8.28.19 - animal realm Demoxenos 8/29/19 1:14 PM
8.30.19 - human realm Demoxenos 8/30/19 12:17 PM
9.3.19 - titan realm Demoxenos 9/4/19 12:51 AM
9.5.19 - god realm & sensations on the grid Demoxenos 9/6/19 12:36 AM
diary of demoxenos
Answer
3/28/19 1:26 PM
just a little bit about me to get the ball rolling.

have been practicing for about two years. very much a beginner. i currently do a group sit once a week for about 45 minutes and then pepper in shorter sits during the week. i generally work on noting practice and metta. i don't currently follow a particular tradition. i started with shambhala and against the stream, now i sit with sf dharma collective.

i started meditating in part to address my reactivity and create connection more easily. over time i've become interested in stream entry and focusing efforts around achieving it. i'm currently most interested in the mystical and biofeedback. 

i created this account for two reasons. first, i heard Daniel on Deconstructing Yourself and he is very excited about fire kasina, so i thought i would try it for fun. my guess is there are not many beginners trying it out in their living room like i am so my notes here might be entertaining if nothing else. second, i like keeping a diary for accountability purposes and my hope is it might give me some sense of progress over time. i've found it hard to recognize progress in practice so far, even though i have some basic sense that it's happening.

things that have inspired me in my practice: investing in relationship with my significant other, relationship with my parents as they age, a spiritual experience with ayahuasca, books: Wake Up to Your Life, Seeing that Frees, everything by Thich Nhat Hanh.

3.27.19 – first try with fire kasina
Answer
3/28/19 1:31 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
i listened to the podcast with michael and daniel and he gave a little bit of detail about the fire kasina practice so i thought i'd try it for fun.

i lit a tea candle and put it on the desk in the living room. it was mid-day. i stared at the flame for a couple of minutes. then i closed my eyes. i felt them dart around under the closed eyelids. i wasn't getting much in the way of imagery so i opened my eyes and tried again. more fluttering, no imagery.

i moved the candle up higher on the table by putting some boxes under it. now it was at throat level. i scooched up closer, maybe half an arms length. i really took in the shape of the flame, like a crescent, or a cuticle. and then there was sort of a third leg to the flame, there were the two ends of the crescent and then a third end, much less stable, and as it moved around the whole shape of the flame changed, sometimes it looked like a crescent, other times like a full moon, and then sometimes the flame even seemed to flip upside down or invert.

i closed my eyes and this time i felt a kind of heat. and i also felt something like a big red sun engulfing my field of vision. i felt relaxed and didn't feel like i was summoning the image. this lasted about 20 seconds and then faded from view. it actually kind of set, it went down. then a saw a few lights flickering, like a light show at a casino, or pips on a die moving around, or the mondrian painting broadway boogie woogie.



this passed after a minute or two and the images faded away and i stopped. i did not feel that i'd really made much headway.

next time i'd like to try the practice in the dark. i will also read a bit more to understand the practice better and what i should do when the images faded away, which they did very quickly.

RE: 3.27.19
Answer
3/28/19 2:24 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Hello Demoxenos,

Fire Kasina is quite a bit of fun and is great for developing both concentration and insight into the 3 Characteristics.

If I may make a suggestion: In my experience, using a tea candle to get an effective after image can be difficult. The flame is usually quite small and not very bright compared to other candles. My personal favorite is to use a "dinner candle" as the melted wax doesn't inhibit the flame as with tea candles or candles with large cross sectional diameters. I'd suggest investing in some taller, thin candles that have a diameter of 1 to 1.5 inches as this can create a really lovely flame that is easy to work with. If the tea candle is working for you, then feel free to ignore this suggestion.

There are also good resources on the Fire Kasina website (www.firekasina.org). I'd suggest starting with the Q&A audio sessions from Denman Island: https://firekasina.org/diaries/denman-island-2018/. Many logistics are discussed in the first 10 minutes and then the technical meditation discussions come there-after.

Good luck on your practice! I look forward to your reports!

3.30.19 – visual (un)clarity
Answer
3/30/19 9:59 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
after the first try with the fire kasina i've been paying more attention to what's going on in my visual field. trying to describe what i'm seeing and actually playing with the seeing sense door. it's mostly... boring? but sometimes i find there's an interesting after-effect when i bring attention back to body or sound. like, what's the body or sound equivalent to this fuzzy ambient blackish stuff?

also recognizing how hard it is to summon mental images in various practices that require it. all the same i get by. like i might fail to bring up a clear visual image of a kitten, but all the same i can get sweet cuddly feelings toward it. normally i sort of just skip the visual image and go straight to emotion but last couple of sessions i've paid attention to what i am seeing. it's not like there's no visual image at all.

for example the other day i was doing positive feelings towards a colleague and summoning a mental image of us talking 1:1 and connecting. what was i seeing exactly? two fuzzy shapes, no faces, static images, zoomed in snippets of her hair or her eyes, a particular gesture, the color of the couch, etc etc.

RE: RE: 3.27.19
Answer
4/1/19 11:51 AM as a reply to Hibiscus Kid.
thank you for the suggestion and for referring me to the Q&A! look forward to posting updates with new light sources. 

4.11.19 - seeing a red dot // some basic questions about the 3 dharma seals
Answer
4/11/19 9:10 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Made the mistake of typing a very long entry in this box, then optimsitcally dragged in an image, and poof! my whole entry was lost. It was a very nice entry with lots of poetic turns of phrases. You'll have to believe me, now I'm reverting to bullet points:

- fire kasina with brighter flame
- sat on the ottoman (ok idea)
- didn't meditate before (bad idea, noisy mind, should sit quietly for 5 mins next time)
- 6am, pre sunset, birds chirping in background (very nice)
- saw red dot immediately. relief, good feeling to be "doing it right"
- switched to suspicion that I was just seeing flame through closed eyes
- but this red dot was steady, small, sometimes a circle, sometimes a teardrop, sometimes yellow
- first time, started to flicker out of sight.
- eyelids flickering, eyes squeezed shut. too much effort? but when I relaxed the dot disappeared
- second time, started to fade and "set" into the bottom of my field of vision
- third time, looked more like a falling meteor that never hit earth. eventually faded
- blew out candle with eyes closed and the red dot came back -- then alarm went off
- will try blowing out candle earlier next time, and need to re-read instructions

When I turned off the alarm I noticed a bird had shit on my window.

Lately thoughts and musings have been sort of hanging around with me post-meditation. Nothing particularly insightful or profound, more like the way a provocative movie might leave you chewing on things for a few days. Or come up in your dreams.

The 3 characteristics: dukkha, anicca, anattā. Feeling the imbalance of my awareness, specifically how dukkha seems to come so naturally, and so unavoidably to me. There's a practice in Seeing that Frees: behold any object and say of it: unsatisfactory. Hey, I do that practice all the time!

All 3 characteristics have a sort of ominous ring to them, and yet when taken in combination they mitigate each other. Things are unsatisfactory, but good news: they are also impermanent. Things are unsatisfactory, but good news, they don't have anything to say about "you," they don't coalesce into "who you are."

This last point reminds me of a self-compassion quiz I took online with T. It gives you an overall score and breaks it down into several factors. The 3 negative ones among them are self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification. I don't know if this methodology is any good. But I found those factors to be useful in illustrating the delusions I experience, particularly around anattā. I ranked "high" (bad) on isolation (my problems are only my own, I have nothing in common with others), and over-identification (my problems are me).

Writing this I realize there's a little wonk to my understanding of the 3 characteristics. If confusion about them is what causes suffering (and realization of them is what ends suffering), it doesn't quite fit that one of the characteristics is "suffering." "Awareness of suffering brings about the cessation of suffering" is a little too circular for my liking. 

I wikipedia it. Thich Nhat Hanh says that nirvana is the third dharma seal rather than dukkha. "Nirvana is the extinction of all notions." Maybe:

Things are not permanent
Things are not selves
Things are not

RE: 4.11.19 - seeing a red dot // some basic questions about the 3 dharma s
Answer
4/11/19 10:01 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Hi Demoxenos,

Great start with your practice log! I am also a fan of Wake Up to Your Life and the rest of Ken McLeod's work. He sends out a very thoughtful monthly newsletter that you can sign up for on his website, Unfettered Mind, which has tons of free resources on it, in case you didn't know.

It sounds like you are getting off to a great start with the fire kasina practice. No need to blow the candle out, by the way--I've always just let mine burn until the end of the session so I can open my eyes to refresh the afterimage over and over again as needed. In case you weren't aware, in addition to all the other good stuff on the fire kasina website there is a book written on the subject by Daniel Ingram and Shannon Stein.

Best wishes for your practice!

RE: diary of demoxenos
Answer
4/16/19 9:46 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thank you Andromeda! I do subscribe to Unfettered Mind, which I enjoy very much. He's put out a couple of Q&A podcasts recently too.

I read the book thanks to your link. I found it inspiring, and hopefully I'll reach levels of concentration at which it can become a helpful practical guide too emoticon

4.26.19 – dreams and nightmares
Answer
4/26/19 10:06 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Vivid nightmares lately. Last night I dreamed I was in a plane plowing into a mountain, into a building, no no no! As I was dying this consciousness of mine, this collection of things, was returning home somehow, what a relief, yes yes yes!

A nocturnal attainment?

I’ve never been so diligent with my practice and so detached from it. 30 minutes every morning, sometimes fire kasina at night. It feels like ages ago that I had an a-ha moment, or that something clicked, or felt something simple and pure like gratitude, humility.

I read about jhanas and ñanas and feel like they’re describing a different experience than the ones I’m having, I have nowhere to place myself and so have to assume that I’m at Stage 0, or worse that I’m doing it wrong.

I wander zombie-like through a brightly-lit grocery store, seeing spots in front of me and the cheap synth-y music rings in my ears. Are these the effects of meditation? What happened to equanimity?

I don’t know how long I’ve felt like this. Hours, or months.

I’ve been longing for a shamanic retreat, trying to retrieve the memories of the one I did two years ago, wanting something to shake me out of funk, wanting to be opened up to all those feelings that are so accessible and so out of reach.

Wanting, not doing. How do I create the conditions for opening up? Why do I resist it? How do I push through that resistance (this seems important somehow, a touch of violence, of invasion, of piercing).

Metta maybe?

I have been using the Brightmind app and the other day repeated over and over again, I inspire people. I forget what the prompt was. A positive quality I wanted to have maybe. I inspire people. My face scrunched up in pain, at the pathetic, pleading quality to my tone, sort of self-contradicting I inspire people, desperate, knowing it not to be true, wanting it to be true, having a little pity for myself, my face smoothing out to neutral, clean sheets, I inspire people, tone flattening, I inspire people, words losing meaning, I inspire people, a bag of sounds, I inspire people, the bell rings, I inspire people, off to work, feeling a deadness inside...

5.2.19 - do nothing meditation
Answer
5/3/19 5:32 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Yesterday "do nothing" meditation with Michael. 55 minutes -- one of my longest sits.

It didn't "feel" like meditation. Partly by design. Let that go.

I really like this one, Michael had led it before once and felt positive effects. I think I needed to "feel good" after one of these sits, I needed some reward, and I got it.

Not just like, pleasurable sensations, although I got those. Also sense of progress, insights, footholds, pitons, whatever.

Several minutes in I started to see myself in the chair from a new perspective, top-down:




Later a small black circle a few inches in front of me and above my forehead. I focused on it, I think the fire kasina has helped my visual concentration with closed eyes, and soon I had the sense of essentially shitting myself out of myself, like shitting outward and upward, almost upside down shitting, and from the perspective of the shit. The hole opened itself up to me and I started to emerge, and the feeling was sort of exhilirating, but then as I experienced the exhiliration the hole shut and the "shit went back in."

Tight sphincter of the mind, constipation, etc.

I didn't feel any spaciousness until the bell rang. My field of vision was wider and I found it very natural not to really fixate on anything... "softness of gaze" realized and not just words.

RE: 5.2.19 - do nothing meditation
Answer
5/4/19 4:00 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
What a great practice log! I enjoy your way of writing it and illustrating it very much. It makes me happy to read.

9.2.17 — wizard's hut under a full moon
Answer
5/4/19 7:42 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
These are notes from my shamanic retreat 2 years ago in Bolivia. I'll likely go deeper on specific experiences in future posts. For now I just thought it would be a good idea to record the raw notes here.

Not without hesitation. This was something of a sacred experience, and if you could see the tormented face I'm making as I type "sacred" you'll get some sense of the difficulty. Writing these things out and sharing with others feels almost profane. And yet the thought of any experience being sacred makes me want to... profane it? As if to disprove its existence by destroying it.

Anyway I humbly ask for an extra dose of sensitivity from myself and the reader. Somehow I think if we both make it through all this with kind hearts we'll be just fine. (I'll use this formatting any time I'm editorializing.)

First I saw an eye, at the center of my vision. It appeared and disappeared. It was animal-like. Tendrils or tentacles, undulating underwater, beckoning, sprouting out of themselves. 

(The way "Jesus Cristo" would snap me out of it, as would "Hare Krishna.")

My reaction to the lyrics of some of the icaros (magic songs). The songs played a central role in my experience. 

Some discomfort admitting it but: she was undeniably female, undeniably a goddess, undeniably knew me and loved me more than I knew and loved myself.

"Let the players play!"

That phrase came out of nowhere to me while I was struggling through mental chatter. I was at the very beginning of my meditation practice and didn't have any vocabulary for these things. I remembered what my dad and I used to yell at the TV when we were watching Italian soccer and the ref was getting too involved in the match. Let the players play ref!

Took some time to silence myself even as I was "being introduced to her." Incessant chatter! It was quickly isolated and for that reason seemed even louder. And yet: smaller, weaker, something to laugh at. Tenderly. And I laughed!

The music and the way the palms set off like fireworks. I watched the sparks go up, up, up. And how, head in motion, I perceived the sound differently. I wondered how much I looked like Stevie Wonder. Swaying, smiling in rapture, head tilted up, up, up, throat exposed, vulnerable, ready for the knife. Humility. Gratitude. Submission. These came to me later and came with immense power — probably because (is it possible?) I'd never really felt them before. I hung my head in something like shame. Humility/humiliation!

More of a symbolic gesture than anything. A submissive gesture — doglike I felt. I knew I was safe. When Angela intervened I must have been weeping bitterly. I remember scrunching up my face the first few times the music felt sad, because the music felt sad. But the weeping came and swept me away when — what was the exact feeling? How lucky I was, how beautiful my life was, how good others had been to me (especially teachers: H, P) and how little gratitude I'd shown for it, how much I took for granted, and how I poisoned constantly the intentions of other people, how I'd not shown P the proper respect, how little I trusted anyone and how much I had to be thankful for, I wept and Angela came and put her hand on my chest and her hand on the top of my head and I sat up straight and she whispered in my ear something like You are going to be alright and I smiled and whispered back Yes, because I already was alright, it was as easy as taking off one mask and putting on another. Still I caught myself slipping back into sorrow often, head hanging, face contorting, all beautiful, in fact these were likely the most beautiful moments of all, how I felt 30 years worth of gratitude and humility and regret and shame. I'll do better — did I promise this?

When I write about longing for or missing this experience, I mean for the purity and the overwhelming strength of these feelings. I feel more bashful than ever that they are so out of reach. I want to go back, but can't. So I go forward. In my heart I know it's so easy, embarrassingly effortless. The only thing stopping me is my pride, I don't want to admit it's that easy.

Sometimes I felt sick. The medicine worked its way down my body and when it reached my stomach I held the bowl on my lap and held it out like an offering. I felt apologetic for its emptiness. The way I held it mournfully brought me sad, sadder feelings. It was at once a source of comfort and of sorrow. I became aware of how important my pose was, and how much it connected to how I felt. 




The bulk of the night was overwhelmingly engaging with the female. A female being unlocking in me “female” feelings, or at least vulnerable ones. Submission to the female; doubly feminine. My body would stir and she would command me to sit and stay and I would. Like a dog. Toward the end P played songs in a deeper register that resonated with my belly. I wondered if I would puke. Something about the music called to my masculinity and I made the effort (faltering) to pull myself into a seated, poised, cross-legged position. I felt manly. I felt, frankly, a little like a chieftain. I tugged at my blanket and made myself comfortable. Sometimes I drifted off, I imagined myself as a ram or an ox; tough, reliable, a soldier. This felt quite natural as my identity.

Every once in a while I get in touch with this "native" nobility during my practice. I don't quite know what to do with the tribal connotations that come up. Again, there's a solemnity here that I have to treat with a mix of caution and care. 

One thing that came as a complete surprise to me: once again the music turned sorrowful and I scrunched my face up again to cry and suddenly I was showing her my left eye, offering it meekly like a bird with a broken wing. She magically healed the left eye (left I?) and I suddenly felt as if I could see fully with two eyes for the first time. I marveled at this and joyously winked my right eye shut.

From here the notes turn to my (then) current situation: worried about catching my flight, sorting out logistics, concern about my eyes, mourning the loss of the feeling. I'm skipping most of that...


I take a piss in the cafe bathroom. My eyes look fine.

Absurd to absorb everything I experienced that night as fact (and how telling that I’m compelled to). Unrealistic to hope to be able to switch on that mode at will.

Dangerous to equate the experience with pristine awareness or whatever other phrase you just picked up from McLeod.

All the same, all the same.

A glimpse.

Into what.

Into, if not a real, heightened, and repeatedly accessible point of view (outlook, per McLeod?) then at least a set of experiences, many of which were positive and characterized by heightened sight, smell, touch, hearing, feeling, thought. Not hallucinations but profoundly intimate connections with phenomena inside and outside me...

Remember that morning you took the cab to the airport? Called it from A’s place (wasn’t she pissed at you?) still buzzed from all the drugs the night before, hit the highway as the sun rose, stopped in traffic, got out with the cabbie to see what the hold up was, a motorcyclist had crashed, spreading himself and his bike all over the road.

Still caught your flight — you’d budgeted plenty of time.

RE: 5.2.19 - do nothing meditation
Answer
5/4/19 7:42 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
That's kind of you, I appreciate it emoticon While I haven't gone deep on your log yet I'm in awe of your diligence and the sheer volume of posts. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

RE: 9.2.17 — wizard's hut under a full moon
Answer
5/5/19 12:30 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Oh wow. If you haven’t already, please promise me that you will write a book some day.

That part about the healing of the left eye/I and seeing everything with two eyes for the first time feels strangely connected to what terry just wrote in Andromeda’s thread about the changing waters.

RE: 9.2.17 — wizard's hut under a full moon
Answer
5/18/19 11:01 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
such a lovely thing to hear and also a sort of fear of mine! How can I write what's "real," resist the "writer's voice," is that even possible... it's an endless, boring struggle of mine. can't wait to let it go emoticon

5.5.19 — getting what I needed
Answer
5/18/19 11:09 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
I stayed out very late with D Saturday night. Then woke up early Sunday to go off to H's half-day sit very much longing for connection, still very much in that state of desperate wanting to feel, feel anything other than desperate wanting, which feels so familiar, very dull, very rutlike.

In his opening comments H talked about a man who had been discriminated against at his workplace for being Muslim, he'd been a star at his job for years and then a new boss came in and made his life hell. I felt the tears start to well up. Then H started to describe how, when he goes to his community center every week, it's surrounded by homeless people, and he shared how he noticed the way that label comes into his head every time. Homeless. Homeless encampment. The way the function of the label is to separate him from the experience of those people.

Of course I can't do justice to H's talk or to the effect it had on me but soon I was crying, easy tears of compassion. And relief. Oh yeah, I can feel! 

It's funny — I got what I needed within the first 10 minutes of a half-day sit. This is the exact phrase: "got what I needed." The mystery of setting intention...

The rest of the sit was unremarkable. At some point during walking meditation I felt read to fully mourn all the things I haven't, two big traumas loomed large in my mind, 9/11 and the Holocaust, I felt both in my body in ways I didn't understand, I was ready to go to One World Trade Center, I was ready to go to Auschwitz, I was ready to cry, to Fully Process, I was fantasizing, this wasn't real, this wasn't quite right. I let it go.

H made himself available for check-ins so I checked in. I shared how desperate I'd been for that release, for that piercing truth, how I felt it right away with him, and how could I orient my daily practice to make feeling more available to me? He didn't answer that but instead told me that I was making a mistake, I wish I could remember his exact words, he put it so beautifully. But basically that I was on a false path, he said this very gently and familiarly, like this was a perfectly normal mistake to make, but that I was getting hung up on this crash, this epiphanic onset. "A real Buddha," (paraphrasing) "is very interested in the going away, not the arriving." 

Then he quoted William Blake:
He who binds himself to a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise

The next day T told me her dad was probably dying so I booked a flight and left work early. As I left the office and walked to the train station I was hit by an intense wave of, I don't know what to call it, euphoric awareness? It felt a bit like surfing, and it lasted several hours. I'm not sure how to explain it and it's all very distant now. 

What happened was that I felt very important as I was getting ready to leave work. I told my coworkers there'd been a "family emergency." That "my partner's father gravely ill" etc. etc. At some point I became aware of this self-importance, this Urgency that I was carrying around with me, and I thought, God what an insufferable ass you are. Or something like that. You know, the usual. And then I thought, or maybe I just felt, a relaxation and an easing off of all that. 2 things: first, a gentle demotion of that negative voice as not at all privileged over other sensations. And second, an interest in where all that was coming from, and pretty easily seeing that it was important to me to be known as caring, as showing up for my partner, that I was flooded with purpose because this mattered to me and that's pretty adorable!

(What Nietzsche means by condescension or going under... 

Now am I light, now do I fly; now do I see myself under myself. Now there danceth a God in me.)

This nimble understanding of what was going on inside me continued. The metaphor of a garden. Some plants very tall, very strong. Others are struggling, their leaves are full of holes and covered in rot. Some are just sprouts. Still others invisible. I felt my perception transform completely from judging the plants ("this one is great! this one sucks") to noticing where watering had happened.

Frustrating to write about these moments. The words need more polish but I'm in no state to be polishing them. No better sign of that than the word "polish" itself.

This is what I quickly wrote before taking off:
What moments are these, such clarity, clear waters, crystalline I want to say, I want to talk about pristine awareness, but that’s all a delusion, but ah, I’ve got that delusion in my sights too, and it’s that neverending awareness, whose breadth is almost godlike, that intoxicates.

Nothing escapes him. Least of all that. On repeat, intoxicates, but intoxication is noticed, on repeat.

By the time we were all boarded this feeling, this euphoric awareness, had subsided.

Shit, I forgot to notice the going away

5.18.19 — waves of awareness?
Answer
5/18/19 11:28 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Sat on zazen stool for an hour listening to Michael's emptiness meditation. Was surprised at how I didn't feel like I lost much listening on YouTube compared to being there.

30 minutes in my legs started to shake, I was sure I'd have to move, and then somehow they just stopped. Interesting. It came to me that these moments of physical desperation might be signs that something fun was just around the corner, but as soon as I thought it it felt cliched.

Lots of visual activity this time.

I looked down(?) and was surprised to see my hands resting on thighs in high resolution. Were my eyes open? No...

Waves crashing, Inky diffusions. Big black wormholes. Very pleasant. In his guided meditation Michael was describing open awareness. Was this awareness? I kind of was picturing a canvas with thoughts and body sensations being painted on it. But this was more like... more like a screensaver, seemingly running independent from what was going on around me... but then where was the going on happening? 

5.25.19 - visual jumping beans
Answer
5/27/19 12:27 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
opened my eyes after 30 minutes of samatha in corpse pose, paying close attention to the feeling in my lower abdomen. looked through window onto bright blue sky with clouds.

saw something like... swimming larvae or jumping beans or molecules, hard to describe, but unmistakably there, made of the same substance of what I was seeing. nothing like the floaties - little twists and turns in the sky.

6.12.19 - bugs on face
Answer
6/12/19 2:34 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
practice has been sporadic and difficult the last few weeks. feels like a "regression" after so much "progress." had been sitting comfortably in a kneeling position for an hour. recently i can't do more than a few minutes, i kept bailing out early so i shortened by sits to 15 minutes, 15 minutes felt like an eternity, pain shot up my mid-back, excruciating, after just 10 minutes.

tonight tried to be "gentle" to myself and lying down listened to a guided meditation (inner see hear feel). as i was attending to the mental screen all sorts of voices were chatting. when it was time to attend to hear they were silent. bugs or tears started to crawl on my face. i didn't attend to them and let that peculiar ice hot sensation roll down my cheeks. tear? one crawled out of my left nostril. bug? it seemed to be traveling in a predictable curve, a kind of parabola making its way down my neck. tear? i felt one wandering around my face. bug?

as soon as the bell rang (20 mins) i rushed to snap a selfie. it yielded nothing. checked in the mirror. no trace of tears or bugs. perspiration? galvanic skin response?

off the cushion i've experienced a wild sort of mental break that started re-reading jaynes and has lasted a few days. at times i feel parts of my head pulsing (brain working?) that i hadn't felt before, as if furniture were being rearranged. i feel sort of glum prisoner to my thoughts and at the same time utterly fascinated by, and even architect of the prison.

more on that some other time. as I write this a real bug, one of those big flying creepy crawlies, enters my field of vision and i'm off to shoo him out the door.

7.2.19 – doing nothing
Answer
7/3/19 9:49 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Continuing to struggle. Sat for 40 of a 45 minute sit of do-nothing before discomfort “won” and I spent the last 5 doing metta on the floor. Which came easily and brought a smile to my face.

it feels like forever ago that I was “crushing it.” Now actually dreading the retreat coming up... 

RE: 5.5.19 — getting what I needed
Answer
7/4/19 12:50 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Demoxenos:

What happened was that I felt very important as I was getting ready to leave work. I told my coworkers there'd been a "family emergency." That "my partner's father gravely ill" etc. etc. At some point I became aware of this self-importance, this Urgency that I was carrying around with me, and I thought, God what an insufferable ass you are. Or something like that. You know, the usual. And then I thought, or maybe I just felt, a relaxation and an easing off of all that. 2 things: first, a gentle demotion of that negative voice as not at all privileged over other sensations. And second, an interest in where all that was coming from, and pretty easily seeing that it was important to me to be known as caring, as showing up for my partner, that I was flooded with purpose because this mattered to me and that's pretty adorable!


I can relate to this so much that it makes me smile.

RE: 7.2.19 – doing nothing
Answer
7/4/19 12:58 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
I have recently been struggling with discomfort too. I usually do in the three characteristics and in re-observation. That’s just how it is. It will pass. I recommend just accepting it as reality and not self and don’t be too hard on yourself.

RE: diary of demoxenos
Answer
7/4/19 1:29 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind? It's a good one. Nice to see another Jaynes fan here.

7.11.19 - camera dolly around skull
Answer
7/12/19 12:51 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
1 hour sit tonight guided by Michael. He's on this "drop into spacious awareness" theme that instantly makes me feel over my head. I just sat for a while, enduring all the creepy crawlies I've been feeling. Thighs trembled a bit in the chair, I felt my weight distributed wrong somehow but didn't know how to adjust. Body like mountain, breath like wind, mind like sky, I kept repeating to myself desperately, nothing like a mantra more like a plea.

Michael said something about finding the edges of awareness and that started to feel very tingly and interesting. First my face started to feel like a balloon, the center of which was my left cheek, as if air was getting blown in through it, and my face was expanding and contracting, facial sensations stretched out wide like the skin of a balloon gets stretched. 

Next my awareness, or maybe it was my locus of attention, I'm not really clear what was going on, but I was outside myself looking in, and the camera swiveled around my skull, creating very pleasant tingly sensations all around it. Experiencing myself from outside myself this way was very disorienting. It's kind of like when you're looking in the bathroom mirror, when the cabinet doors are slightly open, and you see the side of your head, and as you look you keep turning your head away.... sitting in the chair I had no idea: was my head on straight? was it twisted totally to the side? Because I've had a bit of mis-propioception (that's what I'm calling it) already, I wasn't too alarmed by this and found it completely easy to hang out with, even as I was distracted by all the sounds in the noisy street. 

Later in the sit Michael asked us to put awareness in the chest, or something like that, and I did. I felt my head inside my chest. As my chest rose and fell the right side of my face rose and fell, my right eyeball rose and fell. And my face felt very warm, like my chest or heart would.

In what I felt to be the last few minutes of the sit I was overwhelmed by discomfort, as has been happening lately. Michael is so stern about not moving that it kept me still, except for my quads which were uncontrollably trembling. I felt that I was experiencing pain in "snapshots," like a literal stack of polaroids, and somehow this image was soothing: I wasn't experiencing pain, I was looking at a snapshot of myself in pain, an old version of me.

When the bell finally rang my collarbones were sore, of all places. Felt very pleasant afterglow from the sit: wider vision, smiling, energetic.


RE: 5.5.19 — getting what I needed
Answer
7/12/19 12:59 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
glad I'm not the only one emoticon

RE: 7.2.19 – doing nothing
Answer
7/12/19 1:03 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
yeah, I'm continually surprised at the amount of discomfort or pain I can accept, every time I've hit something that feels absolutely unsurmountable it has always been... not surmountable but... sidesteppable? not all-absorbing?

conversely, every time I've stopped my meditation because of pain or discomfort, it seems to double in strength, waiting for me on the next sit... this latest wave is clearly psychosomatic as it gets extreme whenever I think the sit must be about over. I am interested in what the contributing factors might be, but appreciate the advice to accept it and move on (and the reminder that it's not something to be overcome in these early stages...)

8.6.19 - lost the dot
Answer
8/7/19 5:23 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
For fun I went back to Fire Kasina last night. 20 minutes. The first time I sustained the dot in my field of vision for a while, but every time after that I wasn't able to. Instead I had black circles sort of undulating outward like waves. It was relaxing and I pretty quickly got into that state where my hands get very warm, and then I can really play with my center of attention, it's almost like a massage ball that I can roll anywhere around my body. Not sure what that's called but it's been fun to be able to get to that place repeatedly.

Overall the project of meditation is slipping a little bit for me. I've been bribing myself by getting high (T is not here, so I'm indulging more than I usually do), which generally makes the sensory experience more pleasurable and interesting. (It also leads to more discomfort / twitchiness.) 

Other vices include meditating while lying in bed, which has also been nice. In general I've kind of stopped with vipassanna and have been going for more pleasurable experiences. 

If it weren't for the retreat coming up in September I'd feel quite anchorless. I'm not yet sure what I'm hoping for on retreat -- renewed focus? insight? Thinking about working with a teacher over video, just as another accountability structure. I feel like I need help but I don't know what the question is yet.

RE: diary of demoxenos
Answer
8/8/19 5:46 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Usually the extra bribing of yourself means the question is ready to come out, but you kinda are afraid of it. Anyway, for what it's worth, I would add in some walking meditation in addition to your mix of practices. It's easy to underestimate walking meditation, but it really does do something special that sitting meditation doesn't do. If you have limited time, then just sitting is fine, but if you find yourself slipping and you have time, then adding in walking can often help. Sometimes sit, walk sit, can be a good longer session... and great preparation for retreat.

RE: diary of demoxenos
Answer
8/8/19 3:03 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thank you for this nudge – I'll revisit walking meditation. I've intermittently done Mahasi noting (following his direct instructions in that short essay) while walking and it's been... kind of fun? A bit of a video game vibe. 

Reflecting more on "the question" and my current attitude. It's clear that I'm so hungry for results, for measurable progress. And that there's some conflict there. I mean, right now I'm reading Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and he is _super adamant_ that there can be no "gaining idea" in practice.

Then again can you blame me? I'm surrounded by teachers and teachings that feed my gaining ideas, my need for progress, my need for measurable results. We've got quantified stages and tell-tale signs of advancement and self-reporting of achievement. 

How do I reconcile this conflict? Would I keep meditating if I knew it was never going to get "better" than this? Than the way it is right now? Are these questions themselves just another form of laziness, lord knows I'm lazy, and the mazes I can construct for myself just to avoid the simplest things are... so beautiful and complex I've almost got to give myself credit for them...

RE: diary of demoxenos
Answer
8/8/19 4:53 PM as a reply to J C.
Yes! Had a huge impact on me the first time I read it, and a huge, different impact this second time. An absolute work of art and one of those one-way doors into another way of seeing the world. Still probing my way around "consciousness" especially how it's defined by Jaynes vs. dharma vs. everyday understanding -- need to write more about that at some point!

8.21.19 – jolted, by who?
Answer
8/21/19 5:17 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
The current obstacle in my practice is this: I am "trying" to "drop into" spacious awareness. The scare quotes point to the basic contradiction and maybe the fundamental problem: I'm exerting quite a bit of effort to reach something that is already there. I'm also a bit humiliated and frustrated because this feels like something I should easily be able to do at the drop of a hat at this point in my practice.

What ends up happening is that after a few minutes, when my body is relaxed, I employ any one of a number of methods to go outside my body. Sometimes I feel myself entrenched in a darkness, blacker than whatever purple black I've already got going, and it expands and retreats over my head as I inhale and exhale. Or I see a splotchy black circle in the center of my vision, and it expands to cover my whole field of vision, and then in its center there's another black circle, and so on. I've described a few other almost-out-of-body experiences above.

Just as I feel on the precipice of something (I assume it to be "vast-spacious-awareness") I am jolted, pulled back from the edge. 

Who is doing the jolting? How do I ask them politely not to do it? Is there fear? It always feels lower-level than fear; heart races but no eg., wide-eyed terror.

I've started video chatting with K. Some things I plan to try based on our conversation:

1. let go of expectation of achievement, or accept expectation as something like back pain

2. let go of visual metaphors (mind like sky, fireworks at night) that don't really work for me, in part because I don't experience mental imagery other than very low-level splotches and static

3. try other sense doors (eg., listening to the cessation of audio cues)

8.22.19 – vast spacious awareness through non-visual senses
Answer
8/23/19 12:01 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
1 hour sit with Michael.

10 minutes of attention to breathing sensations, long exhales. Deep breaths from my belly. Not much sensitivity to its ballooning state, for a change. Doing enough of that off the cushion. 

50 minutes of dropping into vast spacious awareness. Michael kept the instructions very simple which I was thankful for. Felt tingling sensations all around my skin. Tuned into those. Didn't attend much to the visuals, through which I've been *trying* to *reach* (danger words) awareness in the past. This time focused on hear and feel, think that was useful.

Felt some body disorientation. My head was located on my right shoulder then in my chest. When my head was in my chest I felt like a cheetah, or a locomotive, kind of like Thomas the Tank Engine, and it felt as if my shoulders were pistons(?) on the train, sort of rotating in alternating cycles. Wasn't sure if I was leaning back or almost bowing forward or both.

As sensations got more intense I practiced a sort of micro "do-nothing" and kept dropping things grabbing my attention as fast as I could. Mental chatter and thoughts were non-stop; snippets of what I was going to write here or share after meditation. At some point the mental chatter was interrupted by a white light, very small and concentrated, and I had brief contact with that sense of embarrassment and humility, that something so beautiful was here all the time and I was caught up in what I was going to say about my experience or something. I was briefly overcome with that strong emotion that I associate with being in the presence of holiness. The white light disappeared and I carried out the rest of the sit in a sort of stoic manner.

Feelings of openness and relaxation pervading post-sit, pleasant.

8.25.19 – hell realm
Answer
8/25/19 10:45 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
revisiting Wake Up to Your Life, the instructions are even more hardcore than I remember. Ken wants me to spend 2 weeks practicing each realm (!!!). Why don't I start with trying one realm each day and then seeing how it goes from there.

30 minutes:

10 minutes meditating on the breath.

10 minutes meditating on the hell realm. Easy for me to access this one. Felt hot tingly sensations, felt anger. Felt a sneer spontaneously come to my face and curl up my lips to my nose, baring teeth like a threatened big cat. Recalled moments in my life. Running down the hallway of the school my mom taught at, screaming I hate you I hate you I hate you!

Took me longer to access cold hell. Felt a little like relaxation. Deadened stare. Blank expression. Non-responsiveness. Underneath it, boiling anger. A bomb under the floorboards. 

The onset of the realm meditation was very intense but I had trouble sustaining the intensity and it sort of tapered into irritability.

Final 10 minutes cooling down. Was very restless and had a bad itch on my ear. Might try lying down next time. 



8.27.19 - hungry ghost realm
Answer
8/28/19 3:36 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
10 minutes on the breath.

10 minutes on hungry ghost realm. felt a new kind of facial expression, a scrunched up, pleading face: why don't you love me? why don't you love me? why don't you love me? On the other end, a voice growing impatient: But I do love you. I do love you. I do love you. Meaning it less every time.

Pathetic. Imagine someone lovedeaf -- words of love and affection come to them, but get garbled somewhere in the hearing process. Dying for love, which is all around them, just waiting to be absorbed.

After that image I struggled to find another, which surprised me as I consider myself most at home in the hungry ghost realm. Maybe that's the problem like asking a fish to imagine water.

I see a lot of homeless people in my daily commute. Some of them post up around the train station. A few times I've given them leftovers but I never stick around to chat. They have trash all around them, are always huffing at the stub of a discarded cigarette.

I imagined being one of these homeless people. In this image I was handed a baking dish covered in tinfoil. I removed the tinfoil with my dirty hands and there were stuffed peppers, full of maggots. They smelled awful. I had no choice but to take a bite, beggars can't be choosers. The taste was worse than the smell and I struggled to hold back dry wretching.

10 minutes of cooldown.

I'm not sure if this last image properly represents the hungry ghost realm. Ken divides it into three kinds of distortion, each of wich captures an aspect of greed:

1. External distortion conveys how greed prevents you from finding any satisfaction or enjoyment from the world around you. (barren world)
2. Internal distortion portrays the way in which green prevents you from enjoying anything you do find. (cavernous belly)
3. General distortion reflects the way greed prevents you from feeling any satisfaction even in the midst of plenty. (luxury without pleasure)

I think the first image spoke to internal distortion; my hearing was the problem. The second image spoke more to external distortion; a cruel uncaring world that passes me by.

Re: nausea, Ken warns of this in his introduction to the realms:

When you first suspect that your girlfriend or boyfriend does not love you, you feel nervous and anxious. When you find out that he or she really does not love you, you feel sick and nauseated. Dismantling beliefs about what we are and how we function is not threatening at the level of the body, but it is profoundly threatening to our feeling and conception of what we are and our relations with others. Nervousness arises when we begin to suspect or anticipate that things are not as we had thought. Nausea is a reaction the the realization that we have been emotionally attached to a fiction, the fiction of an autonomous volitional self.

What then do these stuffed peppers symbolize? What rotten truth am I struggling to swallow? Maybe that in some sense the world is not mine for the taking, that there are ways I really am a beggar, disgusting to some, passed over by many, lucky for whatever I am given, too good for nothing.



[PS: I appreciate the conflict around visualizations that make use of the true squalid living conditions of real people. My current feeling is that they are helpful to my awakening, and not actively harmful to the people who live that life, so I'm just going to move forward with them and accept the accompanying feelings of guilt/wrongful appropriation.]

RE: 8.27.19 - hungry ghost realm
Answer
8/29/19 5:17 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
not actively harmful to the people who live that life

It's not actively harmful to those people, because they are not treated as "people". You (and anyone else) probably wouldn't put an image of an angry moment of someone who has a decent job and life and etc.

RE: 8.27.19 - hungry ghost realm
Answer
8/29/19 5:21 AM as a reply to Siavash Mahmoudpour.
From this moment on, whenever I see this image, I would get the mental talk about hungry ghosts (unless I would be able to clear than tangling from my mind, which is not easy), and that is the harm that is done to that guy and many others.

8.28.19 - animal realm
Answer
8/29/19 1:14 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
10 minutes meditating on the breath.

10 minutes in the animal realm. I struggled throughout this one to summon images. I pictured myself as an ox, or in this case some kind of yak, I was in the fields munching on grass. My eyes were at the sides of my head. Two pictures of the world, loosely stitched together. In front of me was blank space. As I munched I was listening for sounds, I was never totally at rest, danger felt right around the corner, maybe some predator would rush in. Lucky for me I'd asked someone to come to my apartment and fix the sink, and he was going to come any minute now, so I really inhabited that uneasy anticipation.

Munch, munch. There was a bit of nobility to my animalness. Ken writes so bleakly of the realms that initially I thought they were all hell realms. Is there nobility in the animal realm?

My back hurt a lot. Animals don't experience pain like we do. I tried to feel my way into the pain and let it sort of take over my condition, as if I would just sort of become the pain, mindlessly absorb it. I wasn't sure how to do that.

The image of a deer thrashing in a pool came to me. Legs kicking desperately. Again, not panicked the way you or I might be. Something more mechanical than that.

Lied down for the last 10 minutes.



8.30.19 - human realm
Answer
8/30/19 12:17 PM as a reply to Demoxenos.
10 minutes meditating on the breath / do nothing,

10 minutes meditating on the human realm. Like the animal realm this one didn't spark major emotions for me. It was much chattier, in part I guess because language felt at home in the human realm. 

I thought about all my obligations, the day's meetings, the travel I had to do. I don't want to, but I have to. 
I thought all about my unfulfilled wishes, to be a writer, to be a big boss, to be famous. I want to, but I can't.
I listened to the sounds around me. A car alarm was going off. I turned up the unpleasantness of the sound. Anywhere but here.
I thought about all the simple pleasures in my life: a cigarette, booze, an ice cream sundae, sex, a walk in the park. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Human life felt very game-like, lots of little rules and judgments and outcomes, a constant evaluation of one's current state. I was a little tickled by it.

10 minutes cooldown.



9.3.19 - titan realm
Answer
9/4/19 12:51 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
10 minutes noting.

10 minutes meditation on the titan realm. I thought about work a lot. They don't appreciate me. Felt pressure run in diagonal lines between my jaw and my temple. Wanting in a different way than the human realm. This realm was all about zero sum games.

Remembered Daniel Plainview, from There Will Be Blood... I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people. Of course that's a rare moment of introspection.



So much pressure in the temples. World felt small, crowded. I felt robbed of... everything, a better career, a better body, more happiness. I deserve it.

10 minutes of noting to close. Back hurt, left ear felt wormy.

9.5.19 - god realm & sensations on the grid
Answer
9/6/19 12:36 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Remember it started in the morning with a very unproductive meditation on the god realm. I felt incredibly restless and kept attending to things I wanted to get done that day, ideas, etc. I tried to occupy the god realm and enjoyed it. I reminded myself I was going to age and die, in the long run I had the same fate as everyone else, but I reassured myself that my legacy would live on; that I’d written a magnificent book that said it all really, that I left behind strapping children and enough wealth to ensure they’d all live comfortably and so would their children. Sure, nothing was guaranteed and everything would come to an end, even this planet, but as far as human beings go, I’d done a pretty great job, and with that I died in peace, a smile on my lips.


Gong. 

I didn’t really want to go to sit this evening, mom is in town and I’d had 1 tequila, 1 white wine, and was mellowing into the evening. But I convinced myself it would be good to go and got on the train. Arrived early, so I went to the coffee shop and had a pot of genmaicha and a big drag on the vape pen. I never – almost never – do sits under the influence. Tonight was different.

M was out and TJ who I don’t know replaced him. TJ began encouraging us to relax, long outbreaths, etc., detailed description of the breath, and almost immediately I fell into a hypnotic state.

Need to back up. I wouldn't even know how to describe a hypnotic state except earlier this week, I tried 2 “sleep hypnosis” videos on YouTube. The first night was something about letting go of negative attachments and the second was about finding my purpose in life. Sounds pretty good, right?

The two nights were quite different. The first night I didn’t feel fully hypnotized. I felt so much tightness in the center of my chest and my legs were stiff like boards. I was afraid. My experience flew in the face of the narration -- feeling warm, safe, relaxed, etc. And yet I was in some kind of trance. The answer for my afraid condition came to me in something along the lines of: because you were never soothed, you don’t know how to sooth yourself. And that realization itself had an immensely soothing effect, I felt warmth rising from my lower back to envelop me, the afraid me, which was somewhere in my chest cavity. The word or the image feather came up. I felt relief, and true self-love, in a sort of simple humdrum kind of way. I broke out of the hypnosis shortly after that.

The second night I was hypnotized almost immediately. 10, 9, and before 5 my eyes were locked shut. I *think* they were rolled up in the back of my head, but I’ve never really had that experience so can’t be sure. I didn’t attend to much of the narrative. Something about flying like an eagle. The previous night I’d had a clear image of me as a theater director, maybe a professor-type figure, or a working playwright. I was senior, had a gray beard, and younger women looked at me affectionately and probably longingly. This night I wasn’t getting much in the way of purpose.

I did get flooded with unconscious imagery, dream-type stuff. They were coming in hot and heavy. At one point I had a series of crisp memories of middle school kickball: being left-footed, everyone else right-footed; kicking over the right field fence, when everyone kicked over the left field fence; being picked 2nd, never 1st (Tai was always 1st); a memory of a field behind our field, so that as the ball rolled in I could pivot 180 degrees and kick backwards into another field, a sort of shadow diamond; the ball rolling in, picking it up and rolling it back if I didn’t like where it was placed. All sorts of inversions and subversions packed in like sardines.

So when I say I fell into a hypnotic state, I mean: I fell into a state exactly like the ones I’d experienced under hypnosis earlier in the week.

Some qualities of this state that made me feel like it was somehow *not* meditation:

Well let me get back to that. Let me first describe my experience sitting.

Trance state almost immediately. Can’t attend to what TJ is saying. “Snap to,” at least to some extent, when I wonder if I’d been breathing very loudly. Have I been asleep? Here, let me quiet the breathing now.

There was this narrating or observing self that had a lot to say the whole time. Somehow it seemed not to interrupt my experiencing self, which was super tingly with sensation. In fact I think I skipped the whole experience of having a body at all, I don’t ever remember having a body. At one point TJ asked us to picture our heart, I think, and I saw a beautifully flooding and receding network of blood vessels. That was as close as I got to body.

Instead everything was sensation.

I felt myself be pulled straight up, as if by a string. Then I felt myself falling backwards, a little scared there was no chair behind me, then feeling “chair” in the form of a delicious series of sensations, the feeling of vertebrae after vertebrae touching the back of the chair, but more precisely it was not vertebrae but like “atomic units of sensation” that I was experiencing, there were way more of them than I have vertebrae. Later I was surprised when I had the same experience only in reverse, sitting up from my chair (this required more core work).

I tilted my head a little to the right and knew in that moment that I’d made the same sort of head-tilt in Rurrenabaque (my ayahuasca retreat). Through my left eye (left I) I started to experience sensation in a new way, at different levels of organizing structure.

First, I felt 3 splotchy clusters in my (closed-eye) “visual” field (felt more like a multi-sense cluster than strictly visual). Maybe one splotch was me or my breathing, another was the AC, and still another was TJ. Something like that. Then these 3 splotches became connected nodes. Then the nodes sat on an organized grid. Then the grid fit into a stack of grids. I had the experience that I could keep going, and have grids of stacks, etc., but I didn’t really pursue this. I didn’t have any dawning “truth” or “insight” feelings associated with this, I wasn’t exactly seeing the matrix as code, it was just a more low-level visualization of how I was experiencing sensation. It occurred to me that maybe this grid, or this ground, was the vast spacious awareness I’ve been looking for.

Gong.

As everyone else stretched and yawn and got up to go to the bathroom, I stayed perfectly still and was flooded with sensation. It wasn’t a choice; I felt very much stuck in the trance state. It was so pleasurable, every sensation was fuzzy and warm and interesting, I didn’t have any fear. But after a while I got some searing back pain and it was -- mildly inconvenient, like a phone that won’t stop ringing. Well I guess I better go pick that up. I opened my eyes, and it made almost no difference to my interior experience. More sensation. Eventually was able to move my arms and sat in a stupor through most of TJ’s talk.

Eventually TJ brought us back into an exercise, which I was surprised by. I had no sense of time but it felt like we’d already meditated for at least an hour. He read off some labels and invited us to feel our way into them. 

What gender are you? (with a sort of subversive, very un-2019 ease) MAN! 
Your ethnicity? (neutral, receding.) White. Jew. White jew. Jewish, white. White. Half Jewish. 
How old are you? (without interest) 33. A full 33, birthday soon. Soon I’ll be 34.
Your ability? (patient-to-the-doctor) Able. Feelin’ good. Feelin’ healthy. Strong. Able.
Your sexuality? (playfully defensive) Straight! Seriously, I’m straight!
Your location? (literally laughed out loud) Here!

TJ took us through the list again, with complicated instructions that I couldn’t attend to. Something like, how does the world see you? I slipped into unconscious imagery. A young couple was there – I imagined going back to their place and seducing them, I felt physically aroused from the fantasy but also not in control of it.

I remembered being a child, standing outside the frozen yogurt shop in downtown Pleasantville when three girls came down the street, I picture them uphill from me and arm in arm, they sort of rushed me and I must have had key lime frozen yogurt on my face because they took some napkins (from where? my hand?) and cleaned my face, did they lick it or something? did they touch my dick? I felt very hot shame, something proto-sexual was going on, even though I must have been 6 or 7 and they wouldn’t have been much older, in the retrieval of the memory I felt like I’d somehow been abused. The shame was not so bad to take in, more than anything I experienced the warmth of it. I’ve been reading a book on trauma and I suppose to some extent I wanted to be traumatized, or to be more precise I wanted to have a traumatic memory, something to pin down and point at and blame – or maybe just something to play with?

The bell rang again and again I fell into a sort of stupor. When people left I checked in with TJ and explained that I felt weird. Had I been in a hypnotic trance or was that a deeper state of concentration? I can’t really remember what TJ said. I had trouble listening to him. The gist of it was don’t worry about it, and in a way that’s exactly what I needed to hear. I guess I was afraid, I was looking for comfort disguised as clarity.

Comfort from what? I’ve tripped before, not many times but enough to know that trips end. And even some meditative states that compare with this one. I don’t think I was scared of this state not ending. In a way I think I was – am – scared of continuing to investigate it, continuing to be curious, finding out where it will go without having any idea or control. To some extent, my wish for clarity on what I’m experiencing is a wish to kill it, to say, ah, it’s not meditation, or ah, that’s classic nth jhana.

So it’s with a little trepidation that I post these notes here, on a forum for people who really like identifying things. Taxonomy // Taxidermy. A fine line!

I do feel a little less touchy about this stuff than I did even a few months ago. I can be so sensitive –– snapping out of connection just because the wrong word is used, or something comes off as corny, or the state is garbage because it's manic, or some random person on a forum tells me what it is I’m experiencing. I think – I hope! – my experience is at once more valued and less dear than ever. What I mean is: what I experience has more value than anyone’s input, and that any deep feeling is available to me, or should be, all the time. That sure, there may never be an experience exactly like this one, but the beauty of life is that’s true for every experience.

More to say, ask, wonder, but I think that’s plenty for now. Raw doodles: