Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

spatial's practice log, part 2

spatial's practice log, part 2
5/15/19 9:15 AM
(I'm starting a new practice log, because the old one is getting unwieldy.)

This is very tricky, but not tricky. It seems that the idea is to get closer to what's "right here". All frustration seems to be a result of trying to get closer to what's "over there".

It seems the factor that I need to work on most is Tranquility. There is a low-level agitation that is constantly present, which seems to trigger sudden outbursts at random, like I'm trying to navigate a minefield.

I have been experiencing a great deal of love and compassion lately. Much greater awareness of when negativity and unpleasantness from others is simply triggering "my shit".

I'm starting to enjoy agitation, frustration, distraction, discouragement, etc., much more. They are opportunities to practice noticing "the complete package of what's here right now."

I have been trying to notice the vipassana jhanas more clearly. I have a fantasy that one day I will be able to recount my meditative experience in step-by-step fashion, having a clear understanding of the order of events during a sit.

I think some of the motivation for this is like how I mentioned being overwhelmed by the complexity of looking at a bunch of trees in the distance, and then realizing that it's actually just a simple "image of trees" followed by a simple "sense of complexity". I suspect that bringing this type of awareness to my meditation might be helpful.


Here's my approximate guess as to what the jhanas look like when they show up right now, focusing on the breath at the nostrils. I'm holding these labels loosely. This terminology seems at the moment to be useful to describe certain experiences which to me seem very real and very relevant in the interpretation of meditation instructions <begin rant>(even though these experiences are ignored and invalidated by most meditation books and teachers, which is highly frustrating)</end rant>.

Access concentration: I'm here, the breath is right there. Other stuff comes and goes. I can bring the attention to the breath, and then sometimes it goes over to something else. And then I can bring it back again.

(apply pleasurable effort)

First: I can get into a groove where the attention stays on the breath. Muscular effort of some kind is needed to maintain this, and that effort seems to cause tingling sensations throughout the body. The sensations and the breath are combined into one object.

(relax the effort, ensuring that the breath stays)

Second: The tingling becomes predominant. The attention stays on the breath without effort. The world becomes smaller. I can rest in this place.

(relax the concept of "attention is on the breath")

Third: I become aware that there are things in the distance. I can staying resting where I am, but I am not aware of where I am. Instead, I am aware of things coming and going in the distance.

(relax the idea that "I'm over here")

Fourth: Things come and go wherever they come and go. I lose the sense that certain things are "outside of my awareness". I am equivalent to the sensory field. This place seems to be a real fractal, in the sense that I can perceive the whole previous pattern repeating over and over as I become aware of new sensations.

RE: spatial's practice log, part 2
5/21/19 9:04 AM as a reply to spatial.
Honestly, this is maddening.

I want to rest in something, either in some sense of stability, or in a sense of control, or in a sense of instability, or a sense of lack of control. But, none of them seems solid.

I don't know why it's maddening. It's this low-level agitation that seems to transcend anything I can possibly label.

But, the other day, I realized this, that I'm trying so hard to eradicate the subtlest levels of agitation. All while there are other, more obvious forms of suffering that I am basically pushing aside and ignoring. I suspect that agonizing feedback loops ("re-observation"?) are caused by this process. It's something like the tendency to make the attention narrower and narrower, in response to aversion, past the point where the mind can comfortably handle that level of resolution.

So, I've been allowing myself to experience those "more obvious" sensations as well. Seems productive in some sense.

Here are my questions:

1. Is "suffering" simply the feeling of scrunching up the face (even very subtly) whenever something "unpleasant" is experienced?

2. Is equanimity nothing more than the state of observing a sensation without scrunching up the face?

These questions are motivated by experiences like one I had this morning: I was noticing a lot of pain and agitation in my hips, and I let my attention rest there and observe how I was "bigger than the pain". Suddenly, my mind "locked on" to the pain, and I realized that all of that was actually in my face, not in my hips. It was like I suddenly noticed I had been looking at my hips through pain-colored glasses. At that point, it was easy to just relax my face. This kind of thing has been happening over and over. It's not always pain...sometimes it's tension, or tightness, a feeling of a physical wall where my mind is saying that my body is not allowed to move in a particular direction. But it all seems to be in the face, not actually in the rest of the body.

My sits seem to generally take on a flavor corresponding to one of the 3 characteristics, and it seems to be impossible to predict which one is going to predominate in any given sit.

Blah blah blah...writing about this stuff is's just the same thing over and over...

RE: spatial's practice log, part 2
5/22/19 8:55 AM as a reply to spatial.
OK, let's try this: When I'm meditating, I'm meditating.

I think that's the only story that needs to be believed.

There's something almost intellectual about it. I can't judge how well it's going based on how it feels. I think this is why a teacher can be useful. But, I don't see why I can't function as my own teacher, as long as I'm able to look at my experience objectively, and separate it from the moment-to-moment feelings.

It's not about the experience. It's about the relationship to the experience.

Can that relationship be 'felt'? Not sure.

RE: spatial's practice log, part 2
5/22/19 9:02 AM as a reply to spatial.
 ... I don't see why I can't function as my own teacher, as long as I'm able to look at my experience objectively, and separate it from the moment-to-moment feelings.

It takes a rare individual to walk this path alone without any coaching at all, but maybe the saving grace of those who wish to do so is to have a place like this available. So they're not alone.


RE: spatial's practice log, part 2
5/23/19 6:08 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
+1   I would be lost without my teachers and meditation friends.