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Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/18/19 6:33 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/18/19 4:28 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/19/19 5:26 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/19/19 5:36 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/19/19 5:50 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Bardo Cruiser 10/16/19 11:07 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/16/19 3:14 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 spatial 10/16/19 7:40 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/17/19 12:36 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Bardo Cruiser 10/16/19 10:57 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/20/19 5:10 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/20/19 8:12 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/21/19 5:37 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/21/19 2:22 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/22/19 1:28 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/23/19 5:50 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/23/19 2:15 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/23/19 3:13 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/21/19 10:35 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/22/19 12:20 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/23/19 2:11 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/23/19 4:34 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/24/19 4:02 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/25/19 5:08 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 7:20 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 2:22 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 2:45 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Jyet 9/25/19 3:31 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 8:12 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 8:22 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 11:41 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 3:43 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/25/19 2:58 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 3:33 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 3:27 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 spatial 9/25/19 4:23 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/26/19 4:50 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 5:02 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 spatial 9/26/19 10:49 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/25/19 6:54 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 1:16 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/26/19 4:54 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 5:04 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 curious 9/26/19 5:28 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 5:51 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 spatial 9/26/19 10:39 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 12:47 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 spatial 9/26/19 4:32 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 9:25 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/27/19 9:14 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/27/19 5:10 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 spatial 9/27/19 5:22 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/27/19 5:31 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Siavash Mahmoudpour 9/27/19 6:12 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/29/19 5:21 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/29/19 6:06 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/29/19 11:02 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/1/19 2:46 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/2/19 2:29 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/4/19 3:50 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/5/19 8:38 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/5/19 6:24 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 4:38 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 shargrol 10/6/19 7:28 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 8:02 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 8:56 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 11:04 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 1:43 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 4:16 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 4:38 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 8:01 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/6/19 8:22 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/7/19 2:32 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/7/19 5:26 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/7/19 7:08 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/7/19 7:34 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/7/19 10:11 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/7/19 10:56 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Milo 10/8/19 10:16 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/9/19 12:53 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Milo 10/11/19 2:31 AM
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RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/11/19 4:46 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/8/19 3:58 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/9/19 1:35 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/9/19 2:47 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/10/19 2:20 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/10/19 8:27 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/12/19 1:57 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/11/19 5:03 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/11/19 7:31 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/11/19 9:21 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 melozone 10/11/19 9:18 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/12/19 1:46 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/12/19 7:32 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Demoxenos 10/12/19 7:59 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/13/19 3:20 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/13/19 7:41 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/14/19 1:00 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/14/19 5:54 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/15/19 2:30 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/16/19 6:30 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/16/19 7:24 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/16/19 3:29 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/17/19 7:26 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/17/19 7:51 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/18/19 5:46 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/18/19 1:46 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 spatial 10/19/19 1:19 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/19/19 7:20 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/20/19 9:05 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/20/19 10:22 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/19/19 6:50 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/19/19 12:27 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/20/19 6:31 AM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/20/19 12:53 PM
RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4 Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/20/19 2:01 PM
Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/18/19 6:33 AM
Just starting this new log while I still remember to do it, because yeah, the old thread was way too long both to load and to navigate. Content will follow later on. Metta to all.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/18/19 4:28 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Jhanas are more accessible and deeper. They draw me in like they haven’t for a long time. I won’t take this access for granted this time, but treasure it.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/19/19 5:26 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Did vipassana while travelling to work (Shinzen type noting) and found 1st, 2nd and 3rd jhana developing (light versions, of course) and my body feeling like an energy field. Where my hands touched each other and my lips touched each other there was a continuous flow rather than boundaries, and the flow knew itself. 

Perception seems to have a new layer of complexity added to it. It may have to do with the relation between details and larger patterns. It could be that I just sucked at it before and finally have developed what others already had. 

At a job meeting there was a profound calm and the sense of activity at the crown of my head. Hard to explain.

Did 1 h + 4 hours of formal meditation, the latter when I was finally alone. In fourth jhana the murk behind my eyelids arranged itself in complex kaleidoscopic patterns. The body fell away gradually, as a response to the feeling that fourth was very heavy and dense in all its chrystal clear and serene beauty. Formlessness wasn’t entirely stable but clearly evolving and reestablishing itself over and over. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/19/19 5:36 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

At a job meeting there was a profound calm and the sense of activity at the crown of my head. Hard to explain.


Good.  <edit>  And also that light jhanic mindfulness of the body has been one of my standby states. Somebody posted a beautiful poem on DhO a while ago written by Ananda in later life, mourning the passing of the old ones but finding solace in mindfulness of the body.

So again, good.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/19/19 5:50 PM as a reply to curious.
Thanks! I wouldn’t at all mind to have that kind of calm as a default position. Definitely not there yet.

I read today that Shaila Catherine recommends students of the dharma to travel in order to put their equanimity to test and have it evolve. I don’t need to travel to put my equanimity to test. With poor executive functioning I find that there are challanges readily available in daily life. No need to go on a search party for them. I do agree that it’s great practice. Practicing in the midst of daily life challenges clearly speeds up the progress.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/20/19 5:10 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I forgot to write yesterday that I noticed that feelings vibrate and that noticing some feelings made them autoliberate.

This morning I had to deal with an emotionally challenging situation affecting someone I am responsible for. Sadly but not unexpectedly the insights did not automatically kick in to release me from suffering. I still feel rather contracted, although meditation techniques did give some relief while travelling to and from the meeting. Shinzen style noting has a very grounding and stabilizing quality to it. I think there’s a point to the slow pace in that regard. The slow pace means letting go of all other impressions and of control. When I get into that calmness jhanic factors arise pretty quickly.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/20/19 8:12 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Michael Taft’s latest SF Dharma Collective guided meditation, ”Turning the world inside out”, was the ultimate letting go (well, ultimate for my limited options). The first shamatha part instantly made my hands and face into energy fields. A few moments in, I decided to silently recite the Jonang aspiration prayer, as I find it very helpful, but I could hardly find the words. Concepts were starting to fall away. Then I was getting embedded in a silky cocoon, or maybe I was getting out of it instead after being wrapped up in it. Silky veils were drawn away from my face. So soft. Breathing was so much easier. The air was crisp. The bodily sensations were starting to fall away. Then there was a bell and it was time to call up the boundless space. All objects fell away. Then an intense awareness. Bright. Feelings of letting go. Void. Then I don’t remember much until I was back in brightness, which felt very intense now. Then I was at the threshold, realizing that I was at the threshold. I focused on void again. Nothing. And then there was this very brief electrical type of snap, the kind of snap that sometimes arises when electricity is plugged in. It was an unknowing event. Maybe I had a cessation from a formless realm, maybe not. Whatever it was, it was followed by gentle bliss waves of relief and a feeling of unsolidness that lasted for a while. The nada sound is still loud. As I dwelled in the meditation, I then felt a short A&P followed by typical dukkha nanas traits rushing by and then calm again. Then the bell rang and there was a dharma speech.

Today I celebrate one year of systematic and dedicated practice. I am so grateful for this time and for all that has been offered me, not least on this forum. It is beatiful to be able to read about everyone’s practice, experiences, ideas, and insights and to see all the compassion flowing between people supporting each

By the merits accrued through all our virtuous acts,
May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all embrace happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all abide in peace, free from self-grasping.
May all attain the union of wisdom and compassion.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/21/19 5:37 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
:-)

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/21/19 10:35 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yesterday evening: 90 minutes of Kundalini yoga and gong meditation. I was careful in those exercises that involved too intense breathing and squeezing of the energy up through the spine. No need to force any energy through this spine - it knows the way just fine on its own. During the gong bath I believe that I was in rather hard third jhana. It was clear and dense and still. Large parts of the body fell away, but not completely, and it was way too heavy to be any of the formless realms. It was very equanimous but lacked that special neutrality and chrystal clarity of the fourth jhana.

This morning: 75 minutes of Vinyasa yoga.

This afternoon/early evening: 60 minutes of ”doing nothing” meditation. I felt very unsolid and the nada sound was loud. There were still periods of thoughts catching my focus. I felt a bit distracted since one of those favorite people that I don’t get to meet very often is staying with me for the weekend and I knew that I wouldn’t want to let her wait too long. Thus my time for meditation was limited, and that made it hard to just let go completely. There were moments of immediacy and moments of floating.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/21/19 2:22 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Michael Taft’s latest SF Dharma Collective guided meditation, ”Turning the world inside out”, was the ultimate letting go (well, ultimate for my limited options). The first shamatha part instantly made my hands and face into energy fields. A few moments in, I decided to silently recite the Jonang aspiration prayer, as I find it very helpful, but I could hardly find the words. Concepts were starting to fall away. Then I was getting embedded in a silky cocoon, or maybe I was getting out of it instead after being wrapped up in it. Silky veils were drawn away from my face. So soft. Breathing was so much easier. The air was crisp. The bodily sensations were starting to fall away. Then there was a bell and it was time to call up the boundless space. All objects fell away. Then an intense awareness. Bright. Feelings of letting go. Void. Then I don’t remember much until I was back in brightness, which felt very intense now. Then I was at the threshold, realizing that I was at the threshold. I focused on void again. Nothing. And then there was this very brief electrical type of snap, the kind of snap that sometimes arises when electricity is plugged in. It was an unknowing event. Maybe I had a cessation from a formless realm, maybe not. Whatever it was, it was followed by gentle bliss waves of relief and a feeling of unsolidness that lasted for a while. The nada sound is still loud. As I dwelled in the meditation, I then felt a short A&P followed by typical dukkha nanas traits rushing by and then calm again. Then the bell rang and there was a dharma speech.

Today I celebrate one year of systematic and dedicated practice. I am so grateful for this time and for all that has been offered me, not least on this forum. It is beatiful to be able to read about everyone’s practice, experiences, ideas, and insights and to see all the compassion flowing between people supporting each

By the merits accrued through all our virtuous acts,
May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all embrace happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all abide in peace, free from self-grasping.
May all attain the union of wisdom and compassion.

I have a bit of time now for a longer response to this lovely post. First, congratulations on your energy and dedication Linda/Polly, by which you have been able to make so much progress. People do seem to progress in different ways under different circumstances. And it is not quite as linear as we think. My own journey had some really clear landmarks, but also up to a dozen events in 2nd/3rd path territory that contributed to progress. Some were hugely profound, others were just A&Ps-type events that somehow stirred stuff up or peeled back another layer of the onion (TM Shargol). Compared to a standard Mahasi-style path of insight, I would at times be way ahead in some things and way behind in others. So from my perspective it went seems to be First - Some stuff that went on and on and on - Start finishing up third - I feel done - But I know I'm not - Yes I am - Not I'm not - Yes I am - No I'm not - Ah! ....  emoticonemoticonemoticonemoticon !!!!

Your recent posts clearly show major progress. Where it is I don't know. In 'some stuff" I think, but with hints of greater advancement in some areas (although that can fade). But it can been seen not just in your phenomenological descriptions but also in your writing, and in your reactions to the world. The path seems interminable (until it isn't). So keep on going, but equally, enjoy where you are.

For now, my advice would be to try to get really great control over your jhanas. It doesn't have to be all of them, but see if there is one you can summon in a mild form at any time. Try turning it on an off throughout the day. Try living with it as a background hum. And then see if you can do the same with one or two emotions.  Or nanas.  But one step at time.

May you flourish.  May you unfold into your full potential. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/22/19 12:20 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
One hour of shamatha (breath). Mostly silky, calm and heavy, but instances of feeling surpringly light all of a sudden. It started pleasantly vibrating, but the vibrations calmed down very fast as I was naturally drawn to the calm rather than the pleasure. There were some kriyas on the way there. There were some instances of intense immediacy. I believe they followed a brief snapping sound that arose a few times.

I have tried to maintain a light jhana in the midst of daily life today, but most of the time I forgot about it. It clearly takes practice. When I remembered it, a very light version of third jhana seemed to be most accessible. Or maybe it doesn’t qualify as jhana, I don’t know. Whatever it is called, the calm acceptance and the feeling of silky smoothness make a good approach to life. It is worth the effort to cultivate it. If I set a clear intention every morning, it might be easier to remember it more often.

As I was about to start my shamatha session, alone at last (I need to watch out not to become too much of a loner from this practice, neglecting people around me), my neighbors made a lot of noice in the hallway. The echo multiplied the noice. I think they were honking a horn, maybe a horn attached to one of the children’s bikes. A thought arose that it was so typical, but annoyance did not follow the thought. Instead, the next thought was ”Are they having fun?” I listened more carefully and heard children and grown-ups laughing together and talking happily. I think the grown-ups had helped a child to attach the horn to the bike, and now they were taking delight in testing it together. It warmed my heart and I thought ”Bless them!” I love that my neighbors prioritize letting kids be kids and having fun together over keeping quiet in the hallway. I closed my inner door, smiled, and shivered with happiness. That was a great way to start a shamatha session.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/22/19 1:28 PM as a reply to curious.
Thankyou from the depth of my heart, Malcolm!

Yeah, I believe I’m somewhere in ”some stuff” too, but right now that’s a pretty good place to be. The practice is challenging but not too challenging. I can see a way forward. I don’t know where it will take me, but I trust that it will be worth it and in the meantime I’m learning fascinating stuff.

True, not linear. I have never been much of a linear thinker anyway (selfing noted) - I believe linearity is overrated. Nonlinearity can be frustrating, though, so I will probably regret saying that. Anyway, some of my recent daily life progress is actually stuff that I learned several years ago. I had to unlearn much of it for a while in order to learn other stuff, to get more balance in my compassion, and the road there meandered quite a lot and had many bumps in it. A lot has also faded and I have needed to cultivate it anew and more systematically. So much work remains. The layers seem infinite. No need to get bored any time soon, or ever. Much of it will probably fade again, and ”I” will need to reestablish it. I’m counting on that. Right now I think I am in a sweetspot with access to stuff that I can only access from here. I will eventually have to let go of that in order to keep moving. I will follow your advice and practice technical skills while things are accessible, though.

I will keep going as long as I’m alive. I know now that I was trying to avoid it for a long time, hiding out in ignorance, but now that I have seen that, it cannot be unseen. Meditation is the one thing I can always bring with me, which seems like a very paradoxical thing to say as it teaches us not to hold on to things. But that is also why it can’t be taken away. The letting go cannot be taken away. It is such a blessing to know that what I treasure most is the letting go. I do struggle a lot with clinging. I mean, I can barely let go of worn-out clothes, old notes and things that might come in handy some day, I’m a digital horder (I have so many old text files that it was quite the challenge to move them into a new back-up system - text files! I thought they didn’t take up much space at all!), and I fear losing my job and find many changes difficult. But somewhere deep down there is a knowing, or a seed to a knowing, that all I really need is to let go. That is an embryo of profound peace.

Namaste!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/23/19 5:50 AM as a reply to curious.
Okay, so I seem to be able to turn something on in the midst of daily life just by remembering that I should do it, but I’m not quite sure what it is that I’m turning on. It opens something up in my head and makes it easier to breath. There is movement behind my face. The movement reminds me of third vipassana jhana, which could be pretty violent at times (turning my senses inside out). There are pressure sensations and sort of the opposite. I guess that’s expansions and contractions. At the same time there are also silky veils being swept around and very smooth and subtle silky vibrations on my lips and a sense of a continuous energy field inbetween them. Malcolm, would you say that this is the threshold to a light third jhana? Or something else?

I can feel that there is a lot of resistance for some reason. It triggers my tics. The tics make me more contracted and much less equanimous. The background hum of jhana, if that’s what it is, can easily be turned off by giving in to the tics, since they are reactive by nature and clear manifestations of craving and aversion. Meeting them with an equanimous approach leeds to instant jhanic factors. Unfortunately the default mode is giving in to them, although I know all this. There is a negative feedback loop. The impulses are very strong. I guess working on being mindful and equanimous with regard to my Tourette’s is key to moving forward.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/23/19 2:11 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This day has offered excellent opportunities for practicing mindfulness and equanimity. I’m finally on my way home now after spending eight hours travelling to another town with my cat to visit a veterinary hospital. Another hour remains before we are at home again. Poor cat. He had to stay for observation as they needed a urinary sample (which they didn’t manage to get anyway). I don’t drive, so we are travelling by bus, train and tram. After waiting for several hours (walking around outside in the cold and sitting on a bench reading), I did an exercise from Shaila Catherine’s book Focused and fearless while waiting to talk to the veterinary. I observed thoughts as thoughts and feeling as feelings for a few minutes in the waiting room with noice from a TV and a hungry belly and worried about my cat of course. Within a few minutes that exercise led me to see the floor dissolve into waves and I was completely calm. So I guess mindfulness, equanimity (the approach, not the stage) and concentration are available. It’s just a matter of applying them.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/23/19 2:15 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda/Polly - I think you are describing some piti. That is good, and is absolutely enough for the exercise I have been recommending. If you can turn piti off and on at will, and keep it going as a background hum, that will be excellent.

On being mindful and eqaunimious about the tics. Hmnn, as a starting point yes. But once you are mindful and equanimious, try to get insight into the dependent arising of the tics. Observe them closely, and try to spot the contact, aversion, thirst, inflaming, urge, becoming (becoming being the tic occuring and simultaneously burning in the feedback loop). Don't try to suppress them, or resist them. Just try to clearly see the whole process with insight.
 
When you see the links very clearly, you can renounce them or let them go if you want - at the point of thirst and inflaming. But that is not as important as not suppressing them or resisting them. When the feedback loop is broken the tick will naturally be emitted with reducing frequency (not that this matters).

M.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/23/19 3:13 PM as a reply to curious.
Good. Will do.

I know. That’s what I meant. I have done that several times. I know that it works - neither resisting nor giving in to the tics, just investigating the feeling behind the impulse and noticing it arising and passing away without really affecting me the way the story about it claims that it will. That makes the urge dissolve and leads to calm. It’s just that it tends to come back even worse as there is resistance, especially after a meditative breakthrough. There are many more layers that need to go through the same process before it will last. After all, a neuropsychiatric condition is pretty hardwired.

As for what circumstances make the impulses arise, I have investigated that for several decades. That pertains to that whole chain too. It is the curious investigation of the urge that makes the difference, that is, breaking the chain. The urge says ”if you don’t do X, the feeling will be unbearable”. When I calmly wait to see what will happen instead of reacting, it turns out to be a false alarm. For all those decades, knowing the chain of suffering in detail did not help. I never realized that it was a false alarm, because the urge was so strong and so convincing. Investigating the physical feeling of it with curiosity, inspired by Shinzen Young’s talk about mindfulness and equanimity, was groundbreaking. It was one of the first practices I did as I started my daily practice.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/23/19 4:34 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
If I were to choose two feelings to maintain in the background regularly, I think I would choose compassion and equanimity. They seem like very beneficial qualities to cultivate. Still, there are times when compassion can do harm. I have seen what effect compassion with abusers (of different kinds) can have on the victims. Timing and balance are essential. I do believe that understanding is necessary in order to make the abuse stop, but there is a time and place for everything. Victims need to be taken seriously and have their support in place before having to witness everyone focusing on the emotional needs of the abuser. As for equanimity, verbal expressions of it do not do it justice. They can easily sound like indifference, which can be harmful. I’m not sure I believe in choosing feelings as default like that. I think it might cause harm. Being able to reflect critically on thoughts and feelings and choose which ones to engage with and act upon is another story. That I believe in.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/24/19 4:02 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Last night I fell asleep while meditating after a long exhausting and challenging day.

This morning: one hour focusing on seeing thoughts as thoughts and feelings as feelings and being open to absorption whenever accessible. This focus makes reality seem unsolid. Thoughts and feelings vibrate into being and vibrate out of being. Some tentacles remained sensitive to the needs of my sick cat, so full absorption was not accessible, at least not for very long. There were brief instances of both first and second jhana. Getting into first jhana is very much like blowing soap bubbles. The effort needs to be carefully balanced. For me, even the breath leading into first jhana feels very much like the breath in blowing soap bubbles, but with the nose rather than the mouth. Second jhana is less sensitive as it regulates itself.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 2:22 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This does not feel like review. I’m out of the sweetspot where anything is possible. I’m going to assume that I somehow inclined myself back to the post eighth junction of the previous path, had better access to jhanas for a while and had some fruitions, and now I have inclined myself back to the current path. It probably deepened something and gave me a few glimpses of what is to come, but insights of this path still need maturing. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. At least I got to have back to back fruitions.

Yesterday I did some investigation on what leads to piti in daily life. Intense rapture comes from turning to the divine (making a conscious choice about how to act and finding that it makes the world a little bit better, or feeling deep gratitude for what is) or to the immediacy of the moment. Mild piti is trickier. It can be difficult to know whether it is weak (=less concentration than with intense rapture) or subtle (=more concentration than with intense rapture), so I need to be careful about conclusions. Clarity needs to be part of the assessment. I don’t even know exactly what qualifies as piti or something else. Like seeing waves (pretty large ones) in the floor/ground - is that piti?

I also reflected on right speech, as I happened to do it a few times. It was very clear that right speech is not universal. No rules can be claimed about it. It is very situated. One occasion was a pretty banal compliment to a stranger at the pharmacy. It came from the heart, but it could have landed wrong. Not everyone appreciates compliments from a complete stranger. I had an intuitive feeling that she would be happy to hear it, but I had no idea that she would be that happy. It seemed to be exactly what she needed to hear. She thanked me profusely, and later approached me to thank me again before she left.

The other times were during a seminar. We had a doctoral student visiting us from another university, and we were giving her feedback on some work in progress (fascinating work!). My colleagues had great comments, all from their own perspectives and based on a solid ground of competence. I had a feeling about what she really wanted to do with this text, which would explain all the elements that my colleagues found disconnected from each other. I helped her to spell out more explicitly what the connection was, what her unique contribution could be. I could tell that it was exactly what she needed to hear. My colleagues also saw that it solved the problems. I made a few such comments that landed very well. Afterwards she approached me to thank me. She seemed moved. She took my hand in a way that was not just a greeting. It felt like magic had happened.

Any of these speeches would have been very ordinary in any other context. They could have been unhelpful too. Unwelcome. The situatedness was what made them right. I couldn’t have planned for it to happen. It was just... obvious... what needed to be said in those very moments to those very people.

I did some formal meditation as well, but that didn’t go very well. There was dullness with moments of clarity. There were a few instances of glimpses into fourth jhana that did not last. At all those instances, I had been thinking about the clarity of fourth jhana. That seemed to call up the fourth jhana, which is pretty cool. They were just brief glimpses, though.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 2:45 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

The situatedness was what made them right. I couldn’t have planned for it to happen. It was just... obvious... what needed to be said in those very moments to those very people.



Right speech is not any person’s accomplishment. It is a potential of the moment itself being unfolded.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 3:31 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Feeling touched reading about your encounters with fellow human beings. You where using the word divine, not a Buddhist term I know, but to me also it feels divine at those times when the moment unfolds itself just rightly with a sense of love and compassion, awe and wonder.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 5:08 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
... This focus makes reality seem unsolid...

Seem?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 8:12 AM as a reply to Jyet.
Jyet:
Feeling touched reading about your encounters with fellow human beings. You where using the word divine, not a Buddhist term I know, but to me also it feels divine at those times when the moment unfolds itself just rightly with a sense of love and compassion, awe and wonder.


Thankyou! Yeah, it’s probably not part of the lingo, but that’s the closest word I can find. You put it into words very well, I think.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 7:20 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
... This focus makes reality seem unsolid...

Seem?



I’m only talking about phenomenology, not making any ontological statements. Seeming unsolid and being unsolid do not preclude each other. I know that science says that matter consists mainly of empty space. Yet, matter often seems solid. At other times it does not, but instead seems unsolid. In this case I was talking about more than matter. More like the fabric of existence. I’m not entirely sure what science says about that, more than suggesting that it might all be information made into a hologram, but I wasn’t talking about science.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 8:22 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This has been yet another challenging day, going to the veterinary with another cat. I didn’t have to travel as far this time, but since I don’t drive it was still logistically a bit complicated. Then we got a prescription for a medicine that was only available at a pharmacy in the outskirts of the town. I went there, still with my cat in a cage, because it would take too long time to go home first. When we finally arrived at home, I realized that I had forgotten the presciption food and the cat toys that I had bought, so I had to go back to the veterinary again, which took quite a while. These things are exhausting for me, even though I know that they are luxury problems for many people in the world. Anyway, I decided to see this as an opportunity for practice, seeing thoughts as thoughts and feelings as feelings. I wrote notes about it on paper. I’ll try to decode them and write them here:


Frustrating circumstances, exhaustion: deciding not to engage with stories about it, but be present to every moment of it as best as I can —> feeling of expansion. Acknowledging that I’m still sad and tired and hungry while at the same time feeling expansion —> rapture: shower of pleasantness/relief to start with, then relaxation and subtle very silky and smooth tingles on, in and between the lips. One can be sad and tired and hungry AND accepting and present to the moment. There is no need to repress the

Practicing seeing thoughts as thoughts and feelings as feelings rather than identifying with and being caught by them. It is difficult withthe tics, as they are compulsive. The tics get much more subtle, but there is still acting on many of the impulses even though it is hardly noticable.

When I return to seeing thoughts as thoughts etc after forgetting it for a little while —> rapture showering through the body, then expansion, then tingling in hands, lips, face, scalp. Pressure towards third eye. Energy field between lips. More third eye pressure. Then waves in the bus floor. The road looks unsolid. Got off bus. Scalp tingling. Showers of piti.

Don’t know if piti remained in the background while talking to staff at the veterinary’s, but as I was finished and got out, it was there. Tingling scalp, shower of piti, silky smoothness of lips, subtle feeling of energy flowing between lips. Rapture from feeling the cold without judging it. Smooth tingles spread. Then waves in the ground. Visual flickering. Colors look differently (less automatic adjustment to light conditions in interpreting colors). More showers of piti. Pressure against third eye. Visual dissolving of walls inside bus.

Fascinating how attention moves systematically to cover different fields with different degrees of detail as the visual image is under construction. The field in the center is larger now than it used to be. It has most details but also most micro-flickering as it is updated more frequently (point by point). Peripheral fields are to a larger extent constructed from memories. I know from before that peripheral flickering can be grosser and rather comical, if noticed.

Change of bus. Rapture again when resuming investigation. Wow, freezing can be pretty amazing when not judging it. For a while, anyway. Then not judging gets harder. The same development again —> waves in the ground. Turning that into a story makes them go away.


I estimate that this daily life meditation took about an hour and a half.

I don’t know exactly why, but now I’m shaking and the nada sound is loud. My body doesn’t feel entirely solid. I feel no conscious fear. I have had some food now and am comfortably resting in my bed.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 11:41 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I took a yoga technique class for one hour. Before the class I lay down on the mat for 20 minutes or something. I almost immediately got into absorption.

After I have given my cats their medications I will go back to the yoga studio for a meditation class. The description of it sounded like it’s Kriya yoga, but I’m not sure. I’m not planning on switching techniques, but it’s good to have access to a teacher. I have been to this teacher’s yoga classes a couple of times and I felt that he knew what he was doing energetically.

I forgot to mention that I did 75 minutes of Hatha yoga yesterday, which felt very stabilizing.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 2:58 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:


When I return to seeing thoughts as thoughts etc after forgetting it for a little while —> rapture showering through the body, then expansion, then tingling in hands, lips, face, scalp. Pressure towards third eye. Energy field between lips. More third eye pressure. Then waves in the bus floor. The road looks unsolid. Got off bus. Scalp tingling. Showers of piti.


Good. You are extending mindfulness to other frames of reference. So this is a good time to read what Uncle Sid said about maintaining mindfulness of the four frames of reference. I have copied it out in full, as more people seemed to get enlightened in the old days when the oral tradition did not use abbreviations.


"O bhikkhus, should any person maintain the Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for seven years, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge (arahantship) here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning (the Third Stage of Supramundane Fulfillment).

"O bhikkhus, let alone seven years. Should a person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in this manner, for six years, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"O bhikkhus, let alone six years.  Should a person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in this manner, for five years, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"O bhikkhus, let alone five years. Should a person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in this manner, for four years, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"O bhikkhus, let alone four years. Should a person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in this manner, for three years, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"O bhikkhus, let alone three years. Should a person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in this manner, for two years, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"O bhikkhus, let alone two years. Should a person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in this manner, for one year, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"O bhikkhus, let alone a year. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness, in the manner, for seven months, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"O bhikkhus, let alone seven months. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for six months, then, by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

O bhikkhus, let alone six months. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for five months, then, by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

O bhikkhus, let alone five months. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for four months, then, by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

O bhikkhus, let alone four months. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for three months, then, by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

O bhikkhus, let alone three months. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for two months, then, by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

O bhikkhus, let alone two months. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for one month, then, by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

O bhikkhus, let alone one months. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for half-a-month, then, by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"O bhikkhus, let alone half-a-month. Should any person maintain these Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for a week, then by him one of two fruitions is proper to be expected: Knowledge here and now; or, if some form of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

"Because of this was it said: 'This is the only way, O bhikkhus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of Nibbana, namely, the Four Arousings of Mindfulness."

Thus spoke the Blessed One. Satisfied, the bhikkhus approved of his words.


Note: For me, 72 hours continuous mindfulness of the four frames of reference (including during sleep) opened the door to third.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 3:33 PM as a reply to curious.
Reading that led to tinglings of the scalp, lips and face. I made sure to not skip any lines. That kind of build-up of a text does something.

I had to google frames of reference and found a whole book. How do you stay mindful of all that while sleeping?

I’m trying to increase my mindfulness throughout the day as I feel that it is needed. I occasionally dream that I meditate, and I tend to hear signals from my cats while sleeping (as I did with my child when s/he depended on me), but otherwise I guess mindfullness takes a nap too.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 3:43 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
After I have given my cats their medications I will go back to the yoga studio for a meditation class. The description of it sounded like it’s Kriya yoga, but I’m not sure. I’m not planning on switching techniques, but it’s good to have access to a teacher. I have been to this teacher’s yoga classes a couple of times and I felt that he knew what he was doing energetically.


It was hinduistic meditation. The lingo was somewhat different, with emphasis on the spirit and getting rid of the ego, but much was similar. There was a brief dharma talk about becoming less reactive, purification of the body and mind, and compassion. There were some chanting, pranayama, and a guided meditation. The guided meditation started with focusing on the breath but then used the third eye as an object. That suited me very well today as there was already a pressure to the third eye. There were some visualizations too, and I was actually able to do them (except for visualizing the building next to the yoga studio - I had no idea whatsoever of how that building looks, and I forgot to check afterwards as well) as I nowadays can visualize things.

It felt very nice. I enjoyed feeling the energy in the room. I felt happiness and deep calm throughout the session and still do.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 4:23 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:

Note: For me, 72 hours continuous mindfulness of the four frames of reference (including during sleep) opened the door to third.

Could you describe more about what that experience was like? Also, do you mean continuous simultaneous mindfulness of the four frames of reference?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/25/19 6:54 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Okay, back in the sweetspot... I felt the need to meditate some more, so I lay back on my bed. I almost instantly was drawn into fourth jhana where I saw geometric patterns and had a chrystal clear agencyless focus that felt deep and dense. Then the density diminished and there was light spaciousness but not formless. Then there was an electric activity in the crown of my head, then the back of my head where a cord connected me to the earth and sort of pressed me down. There was an electric connection between back of head, earth and hands. It was a movement inbetween these states and a state with activity in the third eye and a state with activity at the top of my head. There was also something going on with my eyes and electric nodes in my arms. Movement back and forth, over and over again. Then something new happened. All these areas connected together and with additional areas around my body. My whole aura was buzzing, from above my head to below my toes and out on the sides. It felt balanced and tensionless but also freezingly cold. Then I really had to go to the bathroom so I gradually emerged from this state. I was so cold!

There were some snapping sounds in my head somewhere too.

Wow, where did the time go? I seem to have been in these states for at least a couple of hours, maybe three.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 1:16 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I almost instantly was drawn into fourth jhana where I saw geometric patterns and had a chrystal clear agencyless focus that felt deep and dense.



The geometric patterns were not flat, but curved in 3D space. They seemed to be made up by stars in dark space, but very symmetrically.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 3:27 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

I had to google frames of reference and found a whole book. How do you stay mindful of all that while sleeping?

I’m trying to increase my mindfulness throughout the day as I feel that it is needed. I occasionally dream that I meditate, and I tend to hear signals from my cats while sleeping (as I did with my child when s/he depended on me), but otherwise I guess mindfullness takes a nap too.



Or maybe I actually do stay mindful while sleeping sometimes, come to think of it. I was just reminded of it because I once again came into that deeply restful state that I visit sometimes, fully aware and with a feeling somewhat similar to absorption despite having no focus whatsoever, and unable to intentionally move. In that state I find that my mouth sometimes opens itself to let out a loud outbreath that is sometimes smelly. There are also occasional kriyas that are very similar to jerky movements during sleep. It isn’t formless, because I can still feel my body. I’m just not in control of it. That could be due to sleep paralysis, I guess. In that state I am very aware of my state and of my body, and sometimes dreamlike scenes pop up and then I’m aware of that (they didn’t this time). I never counted that as lucid dreaming because I thought I couldn’t be sleeping since I was aware even outside the dreams.

I spent about a couple of hours there this time. I no longer feel like I had too little sleep. The nada sound is loud. Breathing is very easy.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 4:50 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
curious:

Note: For me, 72 hours continuous mindfulness of the four frames of reference (including during sleep) opened the door to third.

Could you describe more about what that experience was like? Also, do you mean continuous simultaneous mindfulness of the four frames of reference?

Hey Spatial. For me, mindfulness during sleep was a byproduct of intense meditation and mindfulness, rather than something directed. After a while I found that part of the brain was asleep, but another part was semi-awake and continuing to be mindful. So my awareness became contiunous even when asleep.

Mindfulness of the four frames of reference was not simultaneous. At first it was progressive - body, feeling, mind states, dharmas - steadily learning to perceive the five aggregates of clingining and the chain of dependent arising. Not all at once, but able to switch between them to notice anything that happens to arise. So you might be walking along absorbed in mindfulness of body through motion, when you see something that causes disgust - so then you are mindful of the feeling of disgust, as it arises and passes away.

Having established the ability to be mindful, the next step for me was to be continuously aware of the energetic feelings of the body, or of the fluxing nature of reality in the sphere of perceptions. At first I concentrated on rapid noting of the phenomena and their three chracteritics, but eventually I just becam absorbed in the construction of reality from the energetic flux. 

Your mileage may vary!

Malcolm

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 4:54 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I almost instantly was drawn into fourth jhana where I saw geometric patterns and had a chrystal clear agencyless focus that felt deep and dense.



The geometric patterns were not flat, but curved in 3D space. They seemed to be made up by stars in dark space, but very symmetrically.

Yes, in a grid with identical distances between them, right?  Maybe a hundred or slightly more?  Not quite as bright as Sirius - maybe more like Alpha Centauri?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 5:02 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
spatial:
curious:

Note: For me, 72 hours continuous mindfulness of the four frames of reference (including during sleep) opened the door to third.

Could you describe more about what that experience was like? Also, do you mean continuous simultaneous mindfulness of the four frames of reference?

Hey Spatial. For me, mindfulness during sleep was a byproduct of intense meditation and mindfulness, rather than something directed. After a while I found that part of the brain was asleep, but another part was semi-awake and continuing to be mindful. So my awareness became contiunous even when asleep.

Mindfulness of the four frames of reference was not simultaneous. At first it was progressive - body, feeling, mind states, dharmas - steadily learning to perceive the five aggregates of clingining and the chain of dependent arising. Not all at once, but able to switch between them to notice anything that happens to arise. So you might be walking along absorbed in mindfulness of body through motion, when you see something that causes disgust - so then you are mindful of the feeling of disgust, as it arises and passes away.

Having established the ability to be mindful, the next step for me was to be continuously aware of the energetic feelings of the body, or of the fluxing nature of reality in the sphere of perceptions. At first I concentrated on rapid noting of the phenomena and their three chracteritics, but eventually I just becam absorbed in the construction of reality from the energetic flux. 

Your mileage may vary!

Malcolm


That sounds pretty similar to what the process has me doing, I think.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 5:04 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I almost instantly was drawn into fourth jhana where I saw geometric patterns and had a chrystal clear agencyless focus that felt deep and dense.



The geometric patterns were not flat, but curved in 3D space. They seemed to be made up by stars in dark space, but very symmetrically.

Yes, in a grid with identical distances between them, right?  Maybe a hundred or slightly more?  Not quite as bright as Sirius - maybe more like Alpha Centauri?



I don’t know how bright Alpha Centauri is, but that sounds reasonable. So yeah, that sounds like a very precise description.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 5:28 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yes, fascinating. I don't know exactly what that is, but I think it is something to do with rewiring of the visual system, and thus a very good sign.  Intersting that you saw exactly the same as me. In MCTB 2 Daniel reported seeing something similar but in his case it was grinning skulls in stead of stars ... oh to be a wizard!  I only saw it once, but saw dappling of the waking visual field multiple times, not to mention tunnel vision as a precursor to A&Ps and little mini cycles. 

Keep going!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 5:51 AM as a reply to curious.
I have only seen two skulls and they were in bad resolution and not part of any pattern. Also, they were pink. Not good for my image, haha.

I have seen geometric patterns made out of stars before, mostly flat patterns but not exclusively, always in fourth jhana. This form of curving was new to me with regard to star-based patterns, but I once (in review) saw a version of the flower of life as a moving thoroid. I found a similar image on the internet afterwards but had never seen it before. Earlier when the star-based patterns have been none-flat, they have been sort of clustered on different distances, as in a pair of binoculars when looking at trees and birds far away.

I had the feeling that something had happened to my vision after those fruitions or whatever they were a few days ago. Something that made it possible to see both small details and larger patterns at the same time, or at least as close to each other in time that they compose an image together.

Are there more than one insight cycle to go through in order to get second path? I kind of have the feeling of having completed a new insight cycle but not having completed a new path.

Did the ground often move in wavelike shapes for you when you were in the middle paths?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 9:25 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I just spent two hours in a heavy but unsolid buzzing state beyond thoughts and with loud nada sound. I have no idea what that was supposed to be.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 10:39 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This discussion about visual stuff is fascinating to me. During my retreat last year, a whole bunch of weird visual things happened. I feel like there were certain transitions that occurred, which were marked by specific visual events. I don't know exactly what the transitions were, and I have various hypotheses floating around in my head. I am dying to share this and discuss it, but I don't want to hijack Linda's practice log, or lead anybody off the track by encouraging meaningless comparisons of subjective experience.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
9/26/19 10:49 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
spatial:
curious:

Note: For me, 72 hours continuous mindfulness of the four frames of reference (including during sleep) opened the door to third.

Could you describe more about what that experience was like? Also, do you mean continuous simultaneous mindfulness of the four frames of reference?

Hey Spatial. For me, mindfulness during sleep was a byproduct of intense meditation and mindfulness, rather than something directed. After a while I found that part of the brain was asleep, but another part was semi-awake and continuing to be mindful. So my awareness became contiunous even when asleep.

Mindfulness of the four frames of reference was not simultaneous. At first it was progressive - body, feeling, mind states, dharmas - steadily learning to perceive the five aggregates of clingining and the chain of dependent arising. Not all at once, but able to switch between them to notice anything that happens to arise. So you might be walking along absorbed in mindfulness of body through motion, when you see something that causes disgust - so then you are mindful of the feeling of disgust, as it arises and passes away.

Having established the ability to be mindful, the next step for me was to be continuously aware of the energetic feelings of the body, or of the fluxing nature of reality in the sphere of perceptions. At first I concentrated on rapid noting of the phenomena and their three chracteritics, but eventually I just becam absorbed in the construction of reality from the energetic flux. 

Your mileage may vary!

Malcolm

Very interesting, thank you!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/26/19 12:47 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
This discussion about visual stuff is fascinating to me. During my retreat last year, a whole bunch of weird visual things happened. I feel like there were certain transitions that occurred, which were marked by specific visual events. I don't know exactly what the transitions were, and I have various hypotheses floating around in my head. I am dying to share this and discuss it, but I don't want to hijack Linda's practice log, or lead anybody off the track by encouraging meaningless comparisons of subjective experience.



Oh, but please do! Sounds interesting!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/26/19 4:32 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
spatial:
This discussion about visual stuff is fascinating to me. During my retreat last year, a whole bunch of weird visual things happened. I feel like there were certain transitions that occurred, which were marked by specific visual events. I don't know exactly what the transitions were, and I have various hypotheses floating around in my head. I am dying to share this and discuss it, but I don't want to hijack Linda's practice log, or lead anybody off the track by encouraging meaningless comparisons of subjective experience.



Oh, but please do! Sounds interesting!

Alright, I wrote a long description, and I've posted it my practice log.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/27/19 9:14 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Following Shaila Catherine’s writing, I’m now trying to to deepen and stabilize first jhana. I want to be able to develop a nimitta that is stable enough to follow. I took an hour to just focus on one small point between the nose and the upper lip no matter what. When joy and happiness arose I let them permeate the breath at that small point. Sometimes there was light that seemed to signify the breath, but it wasn’t stable enough to follow so I didn’t. I did not move away from the breath. Sometimes a thought would arise but I did not engage with it. With a lower standard for first jhana, I was there, but the fact that a thought would sometimes arise and I could still hear sounds sometimes (such as my cats fighting next to me but also the traffic outside on one occasion) means that it wasn’t full absorption. I wasn’t able to follow a nimitta either. But it was heavenly. I regret that I booked a yoga class so that I had to interrupt the session, because it felt like I could do this for the rest of the day. There were lightness, waves of pleasantness that felt like they would almost lift me, showers of delight throughout the body over and over again (it was impossible not to notice that although it was outside the point of focus, so I guess that was a bit distracting), and calm happiness permeating my very being.

Leaving that state I feel vague unpleasantness. I’m feeling slightly low.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/27/19 5:10 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Amazing how just focusing on one tiny spot can make you high. How is that even possible?

I kept focusing on that point between the nose and the upper lip while walking to yoga class. Of course I had to widen the focus for safety reasons due to the traffic. While in this focus, the world was visually rocking up and down with every step. The brain didn’t compensate for the movement.

At yoga class, after reading Shaila Catherine’s description of it, it finally dawned on me exactly what feeling is sukha. It’s the one that makes me not want to ”get back into my body”, as the yoga teachers usually say, after resting in shavasana. That feeling! I have it so often that I didn’t realize it had a name. I never really knew how to describe it either. I guess I thought that’s just how meditation feels. When I describe the breath as smooth and silky, that’s when I have led the sukha into the breath. It’s not a very good description, but it was the closest one I could come up with. I guess it would be more accurate to say that the breath is saturated with sukha so that the mental wellbeing replaces the physical feelings of the breath.

At home I did close to two hours of shamatha on the breath. The evening is not as good for concentration as the afternoon for me. I still got high, but it was unstable.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/27/19 5:22 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Amazing how just focusing on one tiny spot can make you high. How is that even possible?

I don't know the full answer to that, but something I've noticed:

When you focus on one tiny spot, you need to tune your attention to a higher degree of sensitivity. This seems to open up awareness throughout the whole body. As a result, it seems like you automatically start using the body in a way that is mechanically more efficient, even just tiny things like breathing, balancing your head, or moving your eyes. I think this leads to a decrease in feelings of heaviness and being "not high".

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/27/19 5:31 PM as a reply to spatial.
I guess. Interesting explanation. Thanks!

And people are paying lots of money for dangerous and illegal drugs to get similar feelings! So unnecessary!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/27/19 6:12 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I guess. Interesting explanation. Thanks!

And people are paying lots of money for dangerous and illegal drugs to get similar feelings! So unnecessary!


Often the motivation for going towards drugs, is not to get high, it's to run away from something, from an emptiness inside, from some dark emotions, from not feeling loved and etc. Getting high is a short lived byproduct, which will go away after sometime, and after that an addiction would be left, and the person doesn't have much choice, and would need the drug, to function in a way close to normal. And the substance would be an essential part of the person's life, something like going to bathroom, you don't have much choice about it, you do it to eliminate some pain and uncomfortable feelings.

This is a simplified version of the real thing.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/29/19 5:21 AM as a reply to Siavash Mahmoudpour.
You are right, of course. That’s why it’s probably a good thing that jhanas aren’t available for such purposes. Any such hindrances make them unreachable.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/29/19 6:06 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Both concentration and clarity were poor yesterday. After hours of trying to get somewhere, I feel asleep while listening to an entire metta retreat with Bhante G. I needed to feel something wholesome, and it made me feel gratitude and reverence for a while.

I think my hormones are messed up, probably some pre-menopaus shit causing my hormonal cycles to go haywire, which seems to effect my nana cycling as well. My concentration skills are not strong enough to deal with that, so I guess I’ll just have to wait for conditions to improve. Meanwhile, I’m paving the way.

I did a guided body scan by Jon Kabat Zinn to wake up some clarity. It always does something when I’m out of touch with my body. I blanked out over and over again, with dullness or microsleep, but managed to go through the entire body. Towards the end there was suddenly a very brief jolt of fear that left heat in my solar plexus, and then there was clarity for a while. I think I moved on into misery after that.

I think I know what the clicks in my head are (not the beeps - they are an entirely different story). They occur as hearing opens up to the outside again after that has for some reason been turned off, which can happen for a number of reasons, gross dullness included.

This round in the dukkha nanas is seriously depressive shit. I’m already on antidepressants (chronically) so medications won’t help. It will pass, though, as it always does. Weird that it feels like it has been like this forever. I know that I had a great yoga class yesterday morning and felt wonderful. A&P of course. So, I guess this is where I’m at on the current path. Not as much ”in control” as I had hoped. Equanimity feels very far away right now. Then again, it always does when I have the pms from hell. It will pass.

Metta to all. May you be well.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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9/29/19 11:02 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I did this guided metta meditation with Bhante Gunaratana: https://youtu.be/a0UUkLme5UE. It felt like mercy. I warmly recommend it for anyone who feels low. It does something that goes beyond the words. Hey, even my sick cat felt it. She came to listen with me and lay down on the ipad to feel every vibration of his voice. My nose has been swollen the last two days, but listening to this opened it up and made breathing so much easier. Thanks to Bhante G I was then able to do an hour of shamatha without getting dull. All jhanic factors were there except for the onepointedness. Given my condition today, I consider that a miracle. Now the nada sound is loud. Maybe clarity is coming back. I’m out of the mental hell hole, I think. I’ll send the link to Bhante G:s metta meditation to a friend who is heartbroken. Maybe it will help her feel better too. At least she is the kind of person who will appreciate the thought.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/1/19 2:46 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yesterday I did metta. I was planning on doing shamatha on the breath afterwards but fell asleep instead.

This morning I did 1 h 45 minutes of shamatha on the breath. There seems to be some defense mechanism in play, because as soon as I’m getting somewhere, I either tense up, have distracting thoughts, get dreamy or have intense kriyas. There is light involved, but I’m not sure I can distinguish between the light associated with the breath and other kinds of light. I just know that some of it is associated with the breath but not all of it, and they blur into each other. There is probably a lack of onepointedness.

My mood is much better. There is a calm trust. I hear the nada sound and see visual flickerings. Fascinating how the visual attention goes about to cover an area selectively. I’m not fast enough to uncover the exact algorithm, but I can tell that there is one. Or several ones, depending on how narrow or wide one’s focus is.

My avoidance issue is trying to tempt me to distract myself from finishing my text manuscript, but the anxiety isn’t very strong today. I’ll go and get started with the work now. I see you, Mara!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/2/19 2:29 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yesterday and today have been busy as I have a deadline and I’m late for it, but during relaxation before and after yoga classes, jhanic factors have been strong (after initial moments of noticing the activity of the mind as a chaos of waves). Yesterday I felt like there was a silky aura around my head, which was very pleasant. During the day today I have done micro-hits of seeing thoughts as thoughts and feelings as feelings. That was a relief, as my ongoing writing project makes my mind very entangled because of all the complex connections I need to transform into something linear. It surprises me how much joy comes from seeing thoughts as thoughts and feelings as feelings. It sounds so boring, but it isn’t. And after the showers of joy, it has a very calming effect.

Today there was also a meditation class at the yoga studio. We did some chanting and some pranayama: breathing out rapidly by way of drawing in our navels, with more space between the outbreaths than in fire breathing, and then breathing a couple of deep breaths, and then holding our breath while focusing steadily on the third eye. Then we did fire kasina (although the teacher called it something differently, and we were to see the flame in the third eye when we closed our eyes), which was considered a cleansing exercise. After that, we meditated by way of visualizing the candle flame in the third eye. At the end, we focused on the crown chakra. I could feel energetic activity there. Then some chanting again, and some talk about training in compassion, love and patience in daily life, one virtue at a time (for a week or something).

Now I mainly feel concentrated, happy and peaceful although I’m also aware that I may have to stay up all night to finish that text manuscript. The stress is there too, but it stays in the background and isn’t very strong.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/4/19 3:50 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m still doing my daily practice, but right now nothing new seems to be happening. My body is recovering from allergy vaccine shots.

May you be well.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/5/19 8:38 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m considering the possibility that I have been stuck in the early nanas for the last days. That would explain the weird tensions that I have had and the problems with the breath being messed up. And the clarity with loud nada sound etc is the 3C nana. This would also explain why I suddenly only have access to a light version of first jhana. But... Did I go through review? I’m not sure. I may have. There is also the possibility that this is still the first nanas working towards second path. I don’t know what to think. I’m pretty sure that I crossed the A&P several months ago. I guess that could have been the A&P of the previous path if I inclined myself back to that, I suppose, but I don’t know... Either I’m still working towards second path or I have started working towards third path. In case it is the latter, maybe I should resolve to get back to review before I cross the A&P. I had planned to stay longer in the second review and learn technical stuff rather than rushing into newbie territory again. Confusing!

I did 90 minutes of Vinyasa yoga today, then 40 minutes of fire kasina, mainly because I was freezing and felt that I needed more fire. The fire kasina was stuck in newbie territory. There was a red dot (small and not as detailed as I know it can be) and it got a halo and it turned dark and it vanished whereas the background remained and then there were purple swirls. The candle looked like it was swaying and the nada sound was loud. In the end there was a yellow dot with a red halo, but it didn’t last long. Then I lay down to do shamatha. I did that for almost 1 h 50 m and I only got into a very lite first jhana. That was after a long period of weird tensions and ridiculous difficulties in staying with the breath. I haven’t had such difficulties since the last time I was stuck in newbie territory. This feels very similar.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/5/19 6:24 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hm... I think maybe I did it. Resolving to go back to review did something. I could feel something change. Like reality was suddenly more open, less fixed. Then I got into jhana just from listening to a dharma talk. After that, I got a visitor so I didn’t get the opportunity to test some more - until now. I managed to get into first, second and third jhana despite needing to pee AND lying next to a man who not only snores but also throws himself almost wrecklessly in different directions while sleeping. That’s got to count for something. It was very light versions of jhanas, of course, but still. The last few days it has been difficult even with the best of conditions.

I have been wondering what resolving means more precisely, how one goes about to do it. It seems like it may be enough just to trust that it will happen. Okay, cool. I can do that. Daniel said that it was possible (generally speaking) and that it is easier before one has crossed the A&P, so I trusted that it would work. I think the trust made it work. So thankyou, Daniel!

So what changed? Except from the fact that I can suddenly focus, there is a different feel to things. There is a background feeling of unsolidness. Fluidity, sort of. And I feel in touch with things. And perceptions are smooth, silky.

Maybe I’m just suggesting myself into feeling all this, but in that case, at least it seems to grant me access to jhanas for a while.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 4:38 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yeah, it seems like it worked, because now I’m fairly certain that I had two cessations again. I think I’m going with the hypothesis that second path has been landed after all.

At a morning walk there was piti from being present to the beauty of the trees, and the piti led to sukkha.

Back at home I did a short pranayama exercise and then 40 minutes of fire kasina. The candle was dancing, and there was more action to the dot than yesterday. My nose did regular ticking sounds as I was watching the candle, probably from opening up the airways because my nose was running as well. The dot went through many transformations in color, with several layers of halos sometimes, but not so much in shape, and remained for longer periods, and when it finally faded away, the murk felt alive. The nada sound was loud. Sitting was easy. I didn’t care about my legs getting numb. That was partly due to equanimity, partly due to the fact that I have finally learned how to sit (firmly resting on the seat bones, or whatever they are called in English, rather than putting weight on the legs, and then letting the spine rise up from there).

Afterwards I lay down on my bed for an hour to just follow my breath. I was feeling unsolid. I could easily feel where the breath started, paused, started again, and ended, and I could feel that little twist that it makes both at the end of the inbreath and (in the opposite direction) at the end of the outbreath. Yet, I seemed to forget what I was doing. Some dreamlike scenes flashed by, and then there was a blip followed by a click and a whooshing of overwhelmingly loud nada sound as hearing came back. I started following the breath again. There were blisswaves, strong ones. Then there was another blip with another click and whooshing of overwhelmingly loud nada sound. Then even more unsolidness. I started following the breath again but felt that it was finished for this time. The unsolidness is still there. I think I’ll have a bathroom break, maybe start preparing some food, drink something, and then get back to meditating. I’ll dedicate this day to the darma.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 7:28 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Sounds really good Linda. If indeed you're correct, congratulatons!

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10/6/19 8:02 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Oh, thankyou! I can’t be sure, of course, but as a working hypothesis it is currently helpful, because it helped me to resolve my(not)self back into a point where I can do the practice that I wish to do. That is, work on technical skills and precision with regard to nanas and jhanas.

It is so cool that an intention together with trust can change things so radically. I mean, I just wrote it here and thought ”Yeah, of course, that’s what will happen. I haven’t crossed the A&P yet so no problem” or something like that, and then, content with that decision, I cleaned up at home while listening to a dharma talk, took a bath, went grocery shopping (listening to another dharma talk), then lay down to finish listening while waiting for my guest to arrive, and suddenly I found myself in jhana again without trying. And I knew that once my guest was asleep, I would get into jhana again. I didn’t mind being interrupted by attending to my beloved guest, but I also didn’t mind that we would only meet for a short time, because then I would get back to meditating more intensely. So I was able to have a great time for a couple of hours and then pick up the meditation from where I left it and deepen it once he had left this morning. Suddenly it is so easy again! I’m deeply grateful to Daniel for a talk we had a few months ago, right after I had been stuck in the early nanas last time. He talked about resolving to get back into review and made it sound so... possible.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 8:56 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Listening to Leigh Brasington at the SF Dharma Collective youtube channel. Finally someone gives me a name for that weird state where I sometimes end up when I am concentrated but need to recover. It has sort of a jhanic feel to it while it is also not focused on anything (not even on nothing), but it is different from the eighth jhana, so concentration seems like the wrong word for it. It is a fully conscious oblivion. Totally useless for anything but rest and purification, as far as I can tell, but effective for those purposes. Like being dreamlessly asleep although one is conscious of the state. Nineth jhana! Apparently the Buddha used to go there to recover/rest from his back pain. At least I’m in good company! I wonder if this is the state aimed at in restorative yoga (which is developed for recovery in people who are chronically ill and exhausted).

Also, the clicking sound in coming out from an unknowing event (without a subsequent powering up of the reality) was described. Apparently that is how auditorily oriented persons tend to experience the ”winking out” that Leigh Brasington says is common in the 6th jhana. Okay then! I think I’m mainly kinesthetic but that would be irrelevant to the formless realms, I guess, and I’m certainly more auditory than visual.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 11:04 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I did an hour of shamatha during which I was able to detect the exact moments of transfers from first to second jhana and from second to third jhana. It was a very clear experience but I don’t know how to put it into words. It was sort of a letting go that resulted in a gradual but marked descending while at the same time also an increased sense of weightlessness, and I think that neurotransmitters were being released, different ones in the different transitions. I’m talking specifically about the shifts now, not the charachteristics of the jhanas.

After that, things didn’t follow the arch. Instead of fourth jhana arising, there were energetic experiences at the back of my head and the top of my head. I tried to resolve to get into fourth jhana instead, and I used Leigh Brasington’s description of its quality for that purpose (quiet stillness), which turned out to be a bad idea since it doesn’t have the right connotations for me. I had one of those winking outs and then I may have been in that nineth jhana of conscious oblivion. That’s quiet and still, allright. There is nothing there. I think the quality of chrystal clarity is more important for my navigation if I want to resolve to get into fourth jhana.

Trying to navigate and getting lost took energy. I need to build it back up again.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 1:43 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Metta seems to rather reliably build up the energy again, but I need help with it. I need to listen to somebody saying things that make ”me” feel it. Cultivating the feeling from scratch is still too abstract for me. Going through the ritual of gradually including more and more beings requires too much from this brain’s poor executive functioning. Luckily there are many metta recordings available on youtube. This time I listened to Ayya Khema. It was a very short recording but it did the trick. It took me all the way to third jhana. It seems to always start with purple swirls. Those are not nimittas, but they seem to be a sign of relaxation. Early in my practice I would follow them with my gaze and sort of hypnotize myself, but that only made me forget what I was doing. Not in the good letting go way, but as in poor mindfulness with regard to what is happening and how much concentration and clarity there is. Nowadays I just let them swirl as much as they like in the background. I don’t focus on anything visually. I let the eyes relax. That way, the swirls don’t take away my focus.

Then I tried to focus on the qualities that would lead me into fourth jhana. That didn’t work very well. I blame nature, because it is calling (I shouldn’t have had both tea and juice in my break). I did notice, however, that the nada sound became louder. That’s when it dawned on me: maybe the nada sound is my nimitta? I’m not a visual person, and kinesthetic impressions aren’t really the way to go into fourth jhana as one is supposed to let go of any physical sensations. But the sound is always with me in the jhanas. I do recall merging with the sound. So I focused on the sound and tried to merge with it. I could feel that it made things happen, but it was counteracted both by the call from nature (aversion) and by my excitement about the discovery (cravings).

All this time I have been watching out for a visual sign, and sometimes seen embryos of it, but the auditory sign was there all along. I wonder how many times I have mentioned it in my log. I know I have written ”the nada sound was/is loud” many many times.

When I think back to all the times I have been in fourth jhana, I cannot recall one single time when the sound hasn’t been a prominent, yet taken-for-granted quality of it. The sound of silence. Or perhaps more accurately, the sound of stillness. Or the sound that makes stillness vital, crisp and chrystal clear.

This endeavor took about an hour.

Edited to add:
If the nada sound is my nimitta, I have Michael Taft to thank (even more than I already realized) for stumbling over the fourth jhana in the first place. He thought it was important for me to investigate other modes than just physical sensations, which was the easiest part for me. He wanted me to investigate self and impermanence in inner visuals and audio. I found that very difficult at first. The more I focused on it, the louder this sound was. I thought it would suffice as auditory impermanence since it is after all a vibrating sound (they all are, of course, but in this sound the vibration is detectable). So I focused on it. And I found that it worked. I had no idea that I was doing shamatha. I thought I was investigating impermanence. I guess I did a bit of both. It wasn’t the sound that directly led to SE, but trying to follow the bouncing sensations of the ”subjective point” (my kinesthetic version of watching the watcher). So it turned out that for me kinesthetics was crucial in getting to SE after all (and by that time Michael had changed the instructions to include all senses; he just wanted me to get some balance, I guess, and I’m thankful for that), but I never would have done that investigation that way if it weren’t for the clarity of having been in fourth jhana.

I always had a nagging feeling that it wasn’t really the impermanence of the sound that was in focus. I considered that a flaw. Still, I found it helpful to focus on the sound. I just didn’t know why. My intuition said that I should go with it anyway, and so I did. And then I just intuitively took up the investigation after fourth jhana had been firmly established, which made the jhana gradually fade of course. The latter is why I remember having thoughts and physical sensations ”in fourth jhana”: the jhana had already started to fade, as I had switched back to Vipassana, but the concentration was still high. That makes sense. It straightens out many question marks.

Now that I know (think I know) what took me into fourth jhana, maybe it will be more accessible for me. It also helps me in teasing out what is what in my practice. Yay!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 4:16 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Oups. In merging with that vibrating sound, I followed it into cessation in the space between the sound waves, or something like that. Twice. They seem to come in pairs nowadays, the cessations. It went so fast that I don’t know if I there ever was a moment of absorption before the blip long enough to call a jhana.

I cultivated the sound through metta. I listened to a dharma talk on absorption by Ayya Khema and a guided metta meditation that ended the talk. It took me to first, second and third jhana. Then I put in an effort to get out of jhana to take off the headphones so that I could hear the nada sound the way I’m used to hear it. I had prepared mentally for that timeframe. Then I cultivated the feeling again, which made the sound stronger. I listened intensely to the sound. I noticed that I can listen to it in different ways. One way makes the sound split into different frequencies. I guess that was the kind of listening geared towards insight. The other way first made the sound intense, almost painfully intense, but then it sort of spread to other domains and partially became light, which was utterly fascinating and definitely something one could get aborbed into. But then it also made me curious, so I couldn’t help but investigating its impermanence as closely as I could. I had to see if the gaps in the light were the same as the gaps in the sound. I guess they were.

Coming back manifested as before. A click immediately followed by overwhelmingly loud nada sound, sort of like the feedback sound of bringing a microphone too close to a loudspeaker, although it doesn’t hurt the ears since those are not at all involved in this hearing. The first time around I was so surprised that I just kept going. Then it happened again, not long after the first one. It manifested the same way. Or maybe the first one was less overwhelming and the second one was intense like feedback. Yeah, I think so. Then it sank in what had happened and I observed the aftermaths. There was very apparent impermanence in audio, vision and kinesthetics for a long time. It took time for the vision to stabilize enough for me to read properly.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 4:38 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Now the entire world is flickering in all the senses but I still can’t tell for sure if that’s the pathway to fourth jhana.

It is close to midnight but I don’t feel sleepy after all this meditation. I’m still curious. Maybe I should watch some netflix or play a stupid game on my ipad to make the mind dull enough to sleep. I hear sleep is good for you. I don’t want to go all extatic and then have to deal with sleep deprivation tomorrow.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 8:01 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I am trying to sleep, but can’t help meditating while waiting to fall asleep. I just realized: those weird tensions that feel like someone is tearing my sense organs and my face apart, there is no process entity that does this for some symbolic reason, haha. It happens because that is where I put my attention. The attention makes those parts stand out because pressure sensations are amplified there, from the attention. The sense of movement is because attention moves (or rather arises and passes away at different points). It is exactly the same thing as what happens in the two finger tips touching exercise. Nothing more magickal or less magickal than that. The phenomena I investigate exist because I investigate them. I feel like I’m in one of those movies where people are trying to change the present and the future by way of going back to the past to change some critical event, and then in the end it turns out that changing that thing was the very action that caused the catastrophy in the first place. But I guess the one thing doesn’t preclude the other. In a way there was a process going on that aimed at shredding my(not)self apart and turn my senses inside out. There’s just that small detail about reverse causality.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/6/19 8:22 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I am trying to sleep, but can’t help meditating while waiting to fall asleep. I just realized: those weird tensions that feel like someone is tearing my sense organs and my face apart, there is no process entity that does this for some symbolic reason, haha. It happens because that is where I put my attention. The attention makes those parts stand out because pressure sensations are amplified there, from the attention. The sense of movement is because attention moves (or rather arises and passes away at different points). It is exactly the same thing as what happens in the two finger tips touching exercise. Nothing more magickal or less magickal than that. The phenomena I investigate exist because I investigate them. I feel like I’m in one of those movies where people are trying to change the present and the future by way of going back to the past to change some critical event, and then in the end it turns out that changing that thing was the very action that caused the catastrophy in the first place. But I guess the one thing doesn’t preclude the other. In a way there was a process going on that aimed at shredding my(not)self apart and turn my senses inside out. There’s just that small detail about reverse causality.



Completely unknowingly, I gave myself the clues that led to stream entry. Ironically, this makes reality reductionist and magickal at the same time, but hey, so does quantum physics.

Oh yay, Dirk Gently’s holistic detective agency is really a documentary.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/7/19 2:32 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I think I’m really on to something (yes, yes, I realize the irony of talking about it as an achievement, but one has to start somewhere and if somebody who’s brain is wired similarly to mine happens to read this, perhaps a cookbook recipe could come in handy).

The sound of stillness really seems to be a valid nimitta. I believe it is talked about in some old texts too, although I have no idea which ones or how trustworthy they are. Some people call it the nada sound. Others talk about it as inner sound and pairs it up with inner light. It sounds pretty much as a chorus of crickets, or perhaps as white noice, but it doesn’t come through any sense organ. The inner light doesn’t come through any sense organ either. They both emmanate from the mind. I guess how they manifest is a matter of interpretation, and most people seem to be visual. I’m not. Anyway, I’m testing it out as a working hypothesis, and so far it seems promising. It turns out that it makes things happen AND with a certain critical degree of absorption, it doesn’t seem to matter what sensory mode one starts out with as they all seem to merge into one. I really had the sense that the sound was white light, and the detectable vibrations in the sounds seemed to correlate with fluctuations in the light. They were the same.

I started with listening to a short (and abruptly ending) metta (or at least some of the Brahma Viharas) recording with Ayya Khema, on forgivness. It seems to work very well for me right now. As it ended so abruptly, I stopped to check whether something had happened to my ipad, but it really does end mid sentence. That took me out of my light jhana, but I could recall the feeling and get back in quickly. For a very short while I focused on the breathing to strengthen my access concentration a bit. Then I focused on pleasant feelings parallelly to the breath, then entirely on pleasant feelings. I’m now once again trying out the hypothesis that a narrow focus is not necessary for jhanas, only for some jhanas (which according to Leigh Brasington are not the ones that the Buddha talked about; I wouldn’t know, but regardless, it seems more helpful right now to go with the jhanas that I can actually access). There were plenty of pleasant feelings to focus on, throughout my body.

In the beginning it was rather buzzy (albeit in a gentle way) together with a sense of floating and also a sweet silky wellbeing (first jhana). This time I knew that the buzzing wasn’t something independent but responding to intentions. Of course, intentions are dependent, too, but they still work. So I played my part in the Dirk Gently investigation and assumed agency over my intentions for practical purposes. I felt that I could make the piti do whatever I wanted, but I didn’t have time to play around, so I just resolved for it to calm down to stillness, and so it did.

First it calmed down the piti and put the sukha in the foreground (second jhana). There I focused on that sweet feeling of just relaxing and letting go. I had no inclination whatsoever to move any body parts or do anything else, and that was a great relief. I enjoyed the peace that comes from that, which for me is a bodily sensation although it has nothing to do with the touch sense. It makes the body as such fall more and more into the background, but apart from the remaining piti, there is also still a sense of having access to some energy field, and I enjoy feeling that there is a balanced flow there, if that makes sense. This is not piti/kundalini. In energy terms, maybe it is more like prana. I don’t know. I know too little about these systems. Maybe it is just a sense of presence. Please bear in mind that I make sense of the world in kinesthetic terms. Much of my conceptualization is based on the sense of touch. I often ”visualize” things kinesthetically. Some piti remained too, but the distinction is important.

I cultivated sukha for a while, and the remaining piti naturally subsided. At the same time I shifted my focus more and more to the nada sound. According to Leigh Brasington, it doesn’t seem that important what object of meditation one uses as key once the key is used anyway, so I figured I could just as well use different keys depending on what worked for the current purpose, as long as I didn’t hesitate or doubt. I think timing is essential if one is to shift objects like this. Intuition has been helpful so far, so even if I want to develop the technical skills for the purpose of reliability, there is no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water. When I shifted my focus to the sound, some vague visuals appeared. I’m synesthetic and often find that other senses open the door to visual thinking for me. The vague visuals had to do with movement. It looked like I was moving in space, away from something. Somewhere around here, there was an unknowing event. I don’t know if there was any gap in experience, but there was a subtle sense of coming back and a very brief sound that had some resemblence to what usually arises after my cessations. If it was a cessation, it was probably a very brief one and one that involved a minimal amount of subminds.

Anyway, there was a clear sense of deepening. During the movement there was also a sense of increasing pressure, as if sinking down to the bottom of a pool (third jhana). I can see why that description is so often used. The sense of pressure seemed to correlate with the sensations from my eyes relaxing more and more and thereby sort of a sinking of the eye bulbs into their cavities, as if they were moving further back into my head. (Do they really do that when they are relaxed? If so, why?) I probably rushed things a little too much here. I don’t recall taking time to build up the equanimity. I should probably learn to do that. I think I was too attached to the remaining sukha. It had been a fairly deep third jhana (for being a light version). I felt more and more parts of my body fall away: the lips, the hands, the feet, most of the face, the arms, parts of the legs and torso. I loved that. That should have been a cue for building up more equanimity before I proceeded, but I wasn’t exactly thinking much. I probably need to resolve that beforehand, so that the set intensions can guide me when I no longer have a sense of choosing.

Instead of building up the quality of equanimity, I went all in with regard to the sound, and first it led to another phase of movement, further down, with increased pressure and extremely relaxed eyes. Then - lo end behold - first there was a bright disk, and then everything turned white! It really did. But I wasn’t equanimous enough. I reacted with excitement, which made it go away. I tried to merge with the sound again. It did make things brighter, but not white. White sparks, dots and disks appeared and disappeared. I was approaching fourth jhana, but I wasn’t there. I wasn’t equanimous enough. This eventually resulted in some tensions from trying too much and some piti coming back, and of course I came out of jhana. It was very educational. Apparently I have a tendency (while lying down) to sometimes curve my back and raise my chest up as if I’m aiming at a halfbridge pose - one of the asanas that I like the least in yoga. No wonder I have a hard time getting into jhanas when I do that. I probably look like I’m trying out for a part in a rip-off of The Exorcist. Or maybe it’s just a very subtle movement. I hope so.

The metta recording took about ten minutes. The rest of the meditation took slightly more than an hour. Then it was time for yoga class (Vinyasa, 75 minutes - great class today).

Right now I believe my energies are as perfectly balanced as they have ever been. It is very temporary, of course. It wasn’t long ago that I was very low, and yesterday I was pretty hyper. Tomorrow... Who knows? But at this very moment I’m enjoying this high but calm energy, lightness, fulfillment (which has very little to do with outer circumstances; those are actually challenging in several ways that are way beyond the scope of this forum), and whatever this is. The best equanimity I have ever experienced. You are very welcome to remind me of this next time I seem to have lost faith. This kind of equilibrium is possible.

In daily life I’m gradually shifting my sources for wellbeing both to more wholesome stuff and stuff that is better for the world than my previous sources of (what I mistook for) wellbeing. For instance, I used to buy myself flowers sometimes because it made me happy. Not very expensive ones, but still... they didn’t last long and I hear that conditions are often really bad for the people who grow some of the flowers (I didn’t realize that until recently). Now I rather give the money to homeless people who sit outside the shop. Not just out of bad conscience, as before, but I have noticed that it makes me many times more happy to give the money to someone who needs it more than I do than to spend it on something that is so unnecessary as flowers on the table. If I’m in the mood for eating something that I know will give me an allergic reaction, I can make myself happy by way of deciding to help someone with those money instead, and then I can let go of the craving (unless I have the pms from hell - that happens) because it is weaker than the happiness in knowing that somebody in need can eat a decent meal that day. I know that these examples are very banal and don’t make much difference in the world, but the difference is in me. I crave less for myself. I cling less. This doesn’t make me a better person per se, of course, but it makes it easier for me to choose actions that are beneficial for others. That is one of the main things I was hoping for. I have very poor executive functioning and some issues with being impulsive, so if the good choices are too difficult, I’m not capable of making that many of them, but I would like to. This proves to me that I’m on the right path. Not that I doubted - I actually didn’t - but I definitely don’t mind tangible results. More results in that direction would be wonderful. These are very small steps to a less self-centered life, but wow, they are so liberating! It is such a relief that this is possible. That I can actually change my wiring for the better by way of just letting go. Just like that. Worrying less about me and mine has nothing to do with guilt and shame and much more to do with just finding it natural to put things into proportions.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/7/19 5:26 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

The sense of pressure seemed to correlate with the sensations from my eyes relaxing more and more and thereby sort of a sinking of the eye bulbs into their cavities, as if they were moving further back into my head.

I went back in and realized that it also has to do with the ears shutting themselves to the world more and more.

I felt more and more parts of my body fall away: the lips, the hands, the feet, most of the face, the arms, parts of the legs and torso.

I forgot to mention the tounge. I specifically noticed the tongue fall away. That was cool.

I listened to a guided meditation by Bhante Gunaratana on the Brahmaviharas. In the very beginning I was distracted, but soon I was drawn in. The recording was about 30 minutes long, I think. By that time I was in third jhana. Parts of my body had fallen away and equanimity was getting strong. It was already bright. As the recording ended, the nada sound was loud. It felt natural to shift focus to that directly. It took me further down. I felt the eye bulbs move back into their cavities and the ears shut more and more. The nada sound transformed more and more into light. It was white and suddenly completely silent and still and chrystal clear. There were a number of unknowing events here. I’m tempted to say that they were fruitions, but they were so many and so close to each other. I don’t know if that is plausible. After each of them, the sound came back overwhelmingly strong, but it was soon silent again. The last of them felt like a kickstart. There was a brief fear respons. I think I even made a sound because I was so surprised.

The sequence of multiple unknowing events kind of reminded of being in delivery with very little pause inbetween the labor pushes, but with no pain. It was automatic, no sense of being in control whatsoever. During labor it is impossible to breath, but here it was either impossible to experience or the experience was so minimal that it stood out as a gap in comparison. It also reminded of multiple orgasms, but with total absence of craving and completely equanimous rather than lusting. I’m not sure that there really were gaps. Something formless is also possible.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/7/19 7:08 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It keeps happening as I try to sleep. The nada sound draws me in and the world gradually disappears (kind of like like when one breaths in too much nitrous oxide during labor) and then I blank out and come back abruptly. One of these instances, my whole body jumped as I came back. It was as if somebody had brought me back with an electric shock. There are no bliss waves. I’m thinking that the unknowing events of today may very well have been dips into something formless. It seems likely that the nada sound is such a strong jhanic trigger for me that it can draw me into a more refined jhana before the mind has been adequately prepared for the shift. Thus I get abruptly spitted out. Ayya Khema warns that one shall not focus on the trigger too soon, because that will make the jhana collapse. I need to learn to resist the pull into next jhana.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/7/19 7:34 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It keeps happening as I try to sleep. The nada sound draws me in and the world gradually disappears (kind of like like when one breaths in too much nitrous oxide during labor) and then I blank out and come back abruptly. One of these instances, my whole body jumped as I came back. It was as if somebody had brought me back with an electric shock. There are no bliss waves. I’m thinking that the unknowing events of today may very well have been dips into something formless. It seems likely that the nada sound is such a strong jhanic trigger for me that it can draw me into a more refined jhana before the mind has been adequately prepared for the shift. Thus I get abruptly spitted out. Ayya Khema warns that one shall not focus on the trigger too soon, because that will make the jhana collapse. I need to learn to resist the pull into next jhana.


However, the suffering door could perhaps also be a possibility. It did have something unsettling and creepy about it, and it was drawn out and probably fitted the description of death-like, and it really felt as if the world was taken away. Uh, I don’t know. Something to investigate further.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/7/19 10:11 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It keeps happening as I try to sleep. The nada sound draws me in and the world gradually disappears (kind of like like when one breaths in too much nitrous oxide during labor) and then I blank out and come back abruptly. One of these instances, my whole body jumped as I came back. It was as if somebody had brought me back with an electric shock. There are no bliss waves. I’m thinking that the unknowing events of today may very well have been dips into something formless. It seems likely that the nada sound is such a strong jhanic trigger for me that it can draw me into a more refined jhana before the mind has been adequately prepared for the shift. Thus I get abruptly spitted out. Ayya Khema warns that one shall not focus on the trigger too soon, because that will make the jhana collapse. I need to learn to resist the pull into next jhana.


However, the suffering door could perhaps also be a possibility. It did have something unsettling and creepy about it, and it was drawn out and probably fitted the description of death-like, and it really felt as if the world was taken away. Uh, I don’t know. Something to investigate further.


Uhm... It happened again, with a few near misses and two gaps. What the... After my last post I solved a jigsaw puzzle on my ipad trying to get sleepy. Then I was hungry so I made some popcorn and watched an episode of a Turkish netflix series. Then I lay down to sleep, but as soon as I closed my eyes and relaxed, I was drawn in again. As it happened, a scene flashed by involving ripping out my heart (which for some reason felt completely normal). Then I remembered that a similar scene had flashed by earlier as well. I didn’t think much about it at the time because I had been watching an episode of a series with vampires (or upirs) earlier. Thinking about recognizing this put me in analyzing mode so I was drawn out again. But then as I relaxed again, I was drawn in anew. It just wasn’t possible to relax without being drawn in. I let it happen. It felt like it happened in slow motion. One of the times I was drawn in, there was another scene (something less bloody) but I can’t remember it. Observing that there was a scene interrupted the process temporarily, but then I was drawn in the next time I relaxed (again in slow motion). Now the nada sound is really loud again. It is five o’clock in the morning and I haven’t had any sleep yet. Why do these things insist on happening when I should be sleeping? Yeah, I know why, of course. Because that’s when I relax enough. But I need to go to work this morning, and I’m tired now.

I’m going to assume that these events are fruitions through the suffering door now. Cool.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/7/19 10:56 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Oh, and I distinctly noticed gasping for air when coming back one of the times, as if I had been holding my breath for a while. I surely did not do that while being conscious.

(By the way, I forget to mention with regard to moving from third to fourth jhana earlier that before the white disc appeared, black and white statics dots organized themselves into symmetric patterns.)

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/8/19 3:58 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Weirdly enough, this very busy and hectic day has felt just fine despite severe sleep deprivation. I have been equanimous and pretty efficient and content and managed to do more than I had originally planned. My tics have very suddenly diminished (they will probably come back again, like they have before, as they are hardwired). Making priorities didn’t feel draining today like it usually does.

I haven’t had time to meditate yet, but I figure that I covered it early in the morning, in case I fall asleep now that I finally have time to do it. The nada sound is loud as soon as I give it attention. There has been a background sukha throughout the day.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/8/19 10:16 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
It keeps happening as I try to sleep. The nada sound draws me in and the world gradually disappears (kind of like like when one breaths in too much nitrous oxide during labor) and then I blank out and come back abruptly. One of these instances, my whole body jumped as I came back. It was as if somebody had brought me back with an electric shock. There are no bliss waves. I’m thinking that the unknowing events of today may very well have been dips into something formless. It seems likely that the nada sound is such a strong jhanic trigger for me that it can draw me into a more refined jhana before the mind has been adequately prepared for the shift. Thus I get abruptly spitted out. Ayya Khema warns that one shall not focus on the trigger too soon, because that will make the jhana collapse. I need to learn to resist the pull into next jhana.


If you are willing to share, about how long does it take you to move through the first four jhanas, if you look at the transitions relative to each other? Personally I've found that these days I move through the first three with relative ease and then do sort of a relatively slower slide into 4th, so that a larger portion of my sitting time is spent in the 3-4 transitional space. There is often some crossing back and forth between 3-4 that is not present with the other transitions too. On the other hand, I used to find that I needed to spend a lot of time in the 1st and 2nd jhanas to fuel any further progress but this doesn't seem necessary any more. It's more like the other transition times into the first three jhanas have decreased drastically while the transition to 4 has decreased less drastically. I wonder if this is what Ayya Khema is talking about?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/9/19 12:53 AM as a reply to Milo.
I think what Ayya Khema meant was that concentration needs to be strong enough and the right intention needs to be there before doing the transition. It seems reasonable that with practice and the right conditions that takes less time.

I recognize myself very well in what you describe, although it is clear that you are ahead of me. I believe that I used to get back into first and second to fuel up quite often (without knowing that was what I was doing, as my precision was very poor with regard to the jhanas - after all, my main focus was on vipassana), but now I don’t think I do that as much. I remember there being much more piti in my practice before compared to now. Now, on the other hand, there seems to be a great distance between third and fourth and a very gradual difference between them. I often find myself somewhere inbetween. My precision with regard to fourth still needs a lot of practice. I don’t have reliable access. I’m hoping that finding my trigger (the nada sound) will help with that.

Would you say that Ayya Khema, Leigh Brasington, Thanissaro Bhikku and Doug Kerr (if I remember his name correctly) teach a similar approach to shamatha? So far I find that their teachings are compatible whereas they are often contradicted by others. I believe Culadasa and Kenneth Folk fit in pretty well too, but I don’t know the teachings of everyone well enough to be sure. I’m reading Shaila Catherine and that’s quite a different story in which one needs to fully absorbe with the nimitta to reach first jhana. I believe Bhante Gunaratana shares that approach.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/9/19 1:35 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I wonder what’s up with the crackles as from static electricity that I often experience right outside my physical body lately, especially around my head.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/9/19 2:47 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Today after work I had a yoga technique class, then a class in Ashtanga Yoga, and then a meditation class. I also got to learn how to use a neti pot, which was very cool (I’ll try to make it a regular routine). Felt like a mini-retreat. I have never been in better shape than right now, both physically and mentally. It is more than I have expected from life. It is such a mercy. I have finally got a real grip on the ujjayi breathing too. It really does give the body lots of energy. I wish they taught that in physical education at school.

In the meditation class we did some chanting, did some pranayama, had the neti pot demonstration (I got to try it out, and wow, it was actually very did some more pranayama, meditated, and did some chanting again. Although the meditation was far too short, it was the first time I climbed the jhanic arch while sitting up. I felt that it was close to a cessation too, but that last letting go was lacking. (I was close to cessations in yoga class too. I’m starting to get a feel for how to get there. It’s all about just letting it happen. Free falling. Even just relaxing the gaze with eyes open can make it happen.) Body parts fell away almost immediately. The nada sound was loud, and there was white centered light (most of the time like a little cloud, but sometimes a more concentrated spark). Today I realized that when they talk about focusing the drishti (gaze) on the third eye, they actually mean relaxing one’s eyes completely straight forward. Why don’t they just say so?

Today I printed out my practice logs. I wasn’t aware of how much text it is. I’m so grateful for the format of this forum, because printing out the entire log was very easy. No need to print out one post at a time. Thankyou!!! Downloading the log was also very easy. Yay!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/10/19 2:20 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’ve been reflecting some more on the moments leading up to cessations, at least some of them. It seems like the visual field gets wobbly. The murk usually looks a lot like images of space, but during these moments, space gets wavy, as if it was bent and gently shaken. It seems to be the same fenomenon that sometimes makes the ground dissolve into large waves when the mind is still enough and the gaze relaxed. I have thought of this as related to jhanas, but maybe it is more accurate to think of it as just letting go of the dual reality. Maybe it can lead to cessations if met with total equanimity and awareness. I believe so.

I used the neti pot this morning, but it didn’t go as well as yesterday. I think I put too much salt in the lukewarm water at first, because it burned just like we were told that it would with too much salt. Also, it felt like I was choking. Maybe it was too cold. It was very unpleasant, and afterwards I felt that smell that usually follows choking on water. I only did one nostril (I figured that at least it run out through the other one anyway) and did not empty the pot. I’ll try again tomorrow. I think it had some positive effect despite these limitations.

I feel such a calm. Peace.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/10/19 8:27 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
The calm and peace permeated the working hours before lunch, and during lunch I was doing some correspondence and felt more equanimous than ever. I also talked to a former colleague (still a colleague, sort of, but now we belong to different divisions) whom I have worked close to and consider a dear friend, and she thought I look radiant nowadays. Then, just like that, I was knocked out from equanimity by a letter (email). A wonderful letter from someone dear to me. Someone I haven’t actually met and probably never will meet but have come close to in our correspondence. Weird how positive feelings can be so unsettling compared to peace and equanimity. The dukka in strong positive feelings became very obvious. It was a shock to my system, physically apparent (I got sick). An hour has passed since I read the letter but I’m still shaking. Okay, I do realize that I have a crush on the guy, apart from loving him as a friend which I also do, but he is hardly the only person in the world I have a crush on. In fact, I lost count a long time ago. But not all crushes are like that. Despite what it might seem like for readers of this log, I am a very stable person. Hm, selfing noted. And actually, there is no such constant me. Sure, I could tell a narrative of how I always stand firm on the ground and bounce back to a balance point that is very sane, rational and constructive, bordering on utterly boring. I could just as easily tell a narrative of what a turbulent life I have led and how I tend to attract chaos. Both stories are equally true and equally untrue. Weird how some behavioral patterns sometimes team up and take on the role as the true I, and how at another time a different set of patterns team up to present a totally different true I. Okay, that actually helped. Thankyou, log!

Okay, so now I’m curious as to what makes some behavioral patterns team up so strongly and so suddenly everytime I receive a letter from this guy, even in the deepest equanimous state I had ever experienced. That is definitely worth investigating. Perhaps I could consider it a trigger practice. A positive trigger, but a trigger nonetheless. I hope I will be able to deal with it wisely because this friend is a keeper.

Paradoxically, this is exactly the sort of reflections we share in our letters. His reflections usually help me to develop my outlook on the world and on life because he adds nuances and perspectives that I couldn’t have foreseen in the interaction or come up with on my own (one of the reasons he is a keeper). Hm, maybe that is also why he knocks me out of equanmity like that. It is actually a rare quality. People in general are rather predictable (it’s a horrible thing to say, I know). I often know exactly what to expect. That enables a feeling of control. I have a complicated relationship to control that involves both attraction and aversion. I often find it draining and dissatisfactory that so much social interaction is predictable (although it also often amuses me, and it can be a source of safety). I tend to cherish the surprises. Yet, uncharted territory can scare the shit out of me (while also fascinating me). Wow, these are excellent leads with regard to my practice! I need to investigate the sense of control with regard to social interaction and the selfing that it is associated with.

Still somewhat shaken but I’ll be fine. I don’t feel like I’m a helpless victim of feelings that just sweap me away anymore. I don’t even feel like an I. This reaction did challenge recent progress, but when investigated, it illustrates the three C:s very clearly. If I ever were to doubt them, I could look at this and it would prove them to me beyond doubt.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/11/19 2:31 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I think what Ayya Khema meant was that concentration needs to be strong enough and the right intention needs to be there before doing the transition. It seems reasonable that with practice and the right conditions that takes less time.

I recognize myself very well in what you describe, although it is clear that you are ahead of me. I believe that I used to get back into first and second to fuel up quite often (without knowing that was what I was doing, as my precision was very poor with regard to the jhanas - after all, my main focus was on vipassana), but now I don’t think I do that as much. I remember there being much more piti in my practice before compared to now. Now, on the other hand, there seems to be a great distance between third and fourth and a very gradual difference between them. I often find myself somewhere inbetween. My precision with regard to fourth still needs a lot of practice. I don’t have reliable access. I’m hoping that finding my trigger (the nada sound) will help with that.

Would you say that Ayya Khema, Leigh Brasington, Thanissaro Bhikku and Doug Kerr (if I remember his name correctly) teach a similar approach to shamatha? So far I find that their teachings are compatible whereas they are often contradicted by others. I believe Culadasa and Kenneth Folk fit in pretty well too, but I don’t know the teachings of everyone well enough to be sure. I’m reading Shaila Catherine and that’s quite a different story in which one needs to fully absorbe with the nimitta to reach first jhana. I believe Bhante Gunaratana shares that approach.


Well, Ayya Khema was Leigh B's teacher so they definitely share some similarities : )

I'm not sure about the others.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
Answer
10/11/19 2:41 AM as a reply to Milo.
Also I generally class jhana teachers into light/sutta style (Leigh B., etc.) that tend to emphasize tactile jhana factors as handles for moving between absorptive states and combine those states with simultaneous wisdom practice, and heavy/commentary style (Ajahn Brahm, etc) that tend go emphasize visual nimitta and heavily hypnagogic jhana that is then exited and used as preparation for non jhanic wisdom practices. Either style seems to be a good tool.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/11/19 4:46 AM as a reply to Milo.
Makes sense. I had noticed that Ajahn Brahm was in the same hardcore category as Shaila Catherine and Bhante Gunaratana. I agree that both kinds of practices seem to be good tools. It was just confusing in the beginning before I learned to distinguish between those two categories. Now it all makes sense, and I can even pragmatically make use of some advice from the more hardcore category in my light jhana practice to enhance concentration without getting all confused. For now I’ll focus mainly on the light jhanas. I don’t quite agree about something you said, though. I have found that the wisdom practice isn’t as simultaneous as I used to think it was. I have noticed that the investigation takes me out from the absorbed state, to the threshold of it. I need to make that distinction, because that makes it so much easier to compare qualities between the different jhanas. I need that comparison right now, as I’m learning to navigate.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/11/19 5:03 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Yesterday I did a session of hatha yoga and then went to a class of restorative yoga but stayed in shavasana almost all the time in order not to interrupt my meditation. However, I found that it wasn’t so good for my back, so I had to lay down on the side instead. They had a shortage of good yoga mats due to a special event, so it was pretty much like lying on the floor, and doing that for 90 minutes isn’t ideal, I guess. Thus, the quality of the meditation wasn’t great. I was tranquil enough not to be disturbed by loud instructions and people’s movements, but the clarity and bliss were lacking, and I wasn’t clever enough to switch into vipassana. Back home I did a guided meditation by Michael Taft, his latest at SF Dharma Collective. I think this was the first time I got the deep belly breathing just right. I did a ujjayi version of it, now that it finally comes natural to me, and it brought a lot of energy and relaxation. With the ujjayi version, it also made sense to make the outbreath longer. There were enough oxygene and energy, so the long outbreath didn’t cause dullness. Something happened during that breathing. I think I got back into the review phase equanimity. It was a very sudden shift that changed everything. Hard to explain. The static crackling/sparkling of my aura came back. The air was easier to breathe. Everything was suddenly lighter and easier. Unfortunately, I was still exhausted. I think I may have triggered a histamine reaction by doing yoga again after so much yoga the day before. It was too much for my body. I needed to rest. So when I abandoned the ujjayi breathing according to the instructions, I soon fell asleep. After all, it was bedtime. It would have been wiser to skip the yoga classes yesterday and instead meditate earlier in the evening. Lesson learned.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/11/19 7:31 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I did Michael Taft’s guided meditation ”Dropping out of the machinery of mind”, and I think that was the one I did yesterday too, not his latest one, because the latest one wasn’t posted yet yesterday at the time I searched for it.

I think it took me into the realm of neither perception nor yet non-perception. Body sensations tend to fall away for me even in formed jhanas fairly often in the current phase, but in this particular state I cannot recall thinking or perceiving anything, and yet I’m sure that I was conscious. When the bell rang I was surprised, because it went by so fast, but I wasn’t sleepy at all. I was aware of perception coming back as perception. Visual flickerings and the nada sound were suddenly there, recognizable, and I could both hear and understand the content of what Michael was saying perfectly clearly. I was aware of suddenly thinking again and realized that I hadn’t been for a while. Weird. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/11/19 9:21 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Then I did Michael’s latest guided meditation. This session was different from the previous one for me. In this one, the world remained (although there was a moment when it was about to disappear, but I wasn’t sufficiently equanimous; I was too enthusiastic), but I didn’t. There were lots of impressions but very little conceptualization and no centre. This is a very familiar state for me (or for not me), but it isn’t always accessible. When it is accessible, it is effortless. It is a state that I have often dropped into in order to rest. I used to call it being non-responsive, or just being. I thought it was an autistic thing.

Now I have this weird feeling that there is sparkling activity going on around my head, especially right outside the back of the head. The nada sound is also really loud and there is a feeling of unsolidness. I’ll go back into meditation.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/11/19 9:18 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thank you for describing your experience with this talk! I listened to it today, and wrote an entry in log about it.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/12/19 1:46 AM as a reply to melozone.
You are very welcome. Michael is my former teacher whom I have the greatest respect for.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/12/19 1:57 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

Okay, so now I’m curious as to what makes some behavioral patterns team up so strongly and so suddenly everytime I receive a letter from this guy, even in the deepest equanimous state I had ever experienced. That is definitely worth investigating. Perhaps I could consider it a trigger practice. A positive trigger, but a trigger nonetheless.
[...]
when investigated, it illustrates the three C:s very clearly. If I ever were to doubt them, I could look at this and it would prove them to me beyond doubt.


Sure, it is worth investigating, but not now. I’d like to stay in review for a while longer, to work on my technical skills and precision with regard to jhanas and nanas. Dear universe, there is no need to act on every whim that comes up in this easily distracted mind. Staying in review is totally fine for now. Could I please get some more technical practice, for the benefit of all sentient beings?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/12/19 7:32 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have been meditating for close to four hours today so far. Taking a break now. I think I’m in that weird territory where review and the early nanas of the next path are overlapping each other. There is this feeling of unsolidness and yet the feeling of being trapped. I have unclenched a lot, as new tensions arose continuously.

I have been in dreamlike territory. For instance, I was Hansel in the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, leaving trails of candy for myself to find in the woods. The candy came from the witch’s cottage, although I hadn’t been there yet. The candy was beautiful. I think I knew I had to let go of the candy now while I still wanted it in order not to want it, or because I would later realize that I didn’t need it anyway, or because letting go of that small pleasure would lead to something greater. Something like that. I’m not sure if I left the trail to find my way back home or to find my way to the witch’s cottage. Apparently I’m continuing on the Dirk Gently theme, now with a Jungian twist.

I had subtle tics disturbing my concentration even after I had been able to let go of the larger tensions. There was a thought about wanting the chrystal clarity of fourth jhana. That felt very wrong. Of course wanting fourth jhana won’t help. That’s not how to set the intension. Then there was a thought about allowing the clarity to unfold on its own, let it be welcome. Some thought promised not to resist. I could feel that when I let go of the tics, I started drifting away into emptiness, and it was good. Later resistance (tics and tensions) arose anyway, and there was the thought ”but I promised...” and then another thought reminding me that there is no continuous I that can make such promises. Resistance will arise because not every pattern feels safe enough to let go. So I did some Brahma Viharas practice. I came up with something like this:

May safe trust embrace us all
allowing for liberation of ”me” and ”mine”
and for the union of wisdom and compassion.


I sent that outward as well.

I had the touch sensations fall away without being in jhana. I guess it’s true that if one doesn’t move, there will be no relevant touch sensations for the nerves to report. Jhana probably makes it easier to remain still, but it isn’t needed for the body to start falling away.

I tried to focus on the breath. When I did, I had no difficulty following it to the end. I just didn’t remember to do it for very long. I could hear the nada sound (it is always there), but it didn’t draw me in like before. When I managed to focus on it, the visual field became brighter. It fluctuated a bit, but then there seemed to be some resistance again. There were even fear responses in my body sometimes although I didn’t feel the emotion fear.

For a while I felt that doubt was a very tangible hindrance. I don’t doubt the path per se, but it felt as if it wasn’t going anywhere, and apparently there was a feeling that it should be going somewhere. For a while I focused on the thought ”Anything is possible”. It did result in some of those sparklings around the head. I’m half-jokingly starting to think of them as a sign of having mana, magic power in games like WoW. It also resulted in clicking sounds behind the nose opening up and making it much easier to breathe.

In the end I found myself digressing downwards towards more stillness in the jhanas, but they were very light. I reached third jhana but it was third vipassana jhana with that familiar feeling of backward hands. Concepts remained and even a sense of agency. I could easily move my body when I decided to take a break. I was even able to make such a decision (or believe that I could). That’s a very shallow jhana, or rather merely the threshold to it.

I have listened to some brief dharma talks about the power of intentions today. I think I need to learn more about working with intentions, because this ADHD brain cooks up a lot of intensions out of boredom that are not thought through or even fully conscious and it affects my practice.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/12/19 7:59 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thank you for sharing and those sound like some rich dreamy states. I'm also interested in learning about intentions, and more broadly about speech acts that come from "another place."

Just now I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh's translation of the Diamond Sutra in which the Buddha says:
If you are caught in the idea of a dharma, you are also caught in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span. If you are caught in the idea that there is no dharma, you are still caught in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span. That is why we should not get caught in dharmas or in the idea that dharmas do not exist. This is the hidden meaning when the Tathagata says, ‘Bhikshus, you should know that all of the teachings I give to you are a raft.’ All teachings must be abandoned, not to mention non-teachings.”
This image of the raft reminded me of your image of candies on the trail.

The raft serves temporarily to get one to the other shore (where one realizes there is no other shore?)
The candies serve temporarily for a return trip (where one realizes there is no return trip?)

The raft is a tool for "current you."
The candies are so much weirder; a tool for future you (how will you know what she wants)?

No insight here, just wanted to share the connection emoticon

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/13/19 3:20 AM as a reply to Demoxenos.
Thankyou! It does have a resemblence to the raft. I like it. It takes some time to build a raft, I would assume, so in a way that is also for the future.

...

I meditated for another three hours, almost, without really getting somewhere despite feeling unsolid the whole time. As soon as the visual field started to get wavy, either I reacted too much or one of my cats interrupted. In the later part of the session, I was in light fourth jhana territory or close to it, but I think I had run out of energy by then. Anyway, I did get there by way of following the nada sound, and I managed to stay there for a while.

Somewhere in the session there was a very sudden and forceful kriya that left me wondering what happened.

I seem to have a histamine reaction in my body. That usually sets limits to my practice. Or maybe it’s the other way around, I don’t know. It could be 3C territory of next path. My upper back is contracted and hurts. It’s not from sitting, because I have been lying down, but I guess it is possible that I have been lying still for too long.

EDITED TO ADD:
Oh, I forgot - for quite a while, when I was absorbed into the nada sound, it felt like liquid was being poured down alongside my head, or like something melted and was pouring down. It was very tangible.

Also, I noticed that something happens automatically as concentration increases: a vacuum is created between the toungue and the palate. That probably contributes both to the sense of pressure that increases as I reach third and especially fourth jhana, and to opening up the paranasal sinuses.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/13/19 7:41 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Trigger warning: contains bloody scenes.

I lay down focusing on the nada sound for 1-2 hours. It took me into first, second and third jhana and then I think I landed somewhere inbetween third and fourth jhana, with body sensations falling away. Somewhere down the line there was a dreamlike scene where I stuck my hand and wrist into a meet grinder and just watched the process without feeling anything in particular. That reminds me that I forgot to report a similar scene yesterday where I ripped out my aorta. It felt like a completely normal thing to do. No fear whatsoever. No deathwish either. It didn’t even seem relevant, as I didn’t identify with the body.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/14/19 1:00 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
During the night I woke up from sleep in the midst of fourth jhana. I immediately recognized the chrystal clarity and deep neutrality and the feeling of eyes being pushed back into their sockets. The stars of the space organized themselves into a few different symmetric patterns. I focused on the brightness of the stars, and then everything brightened until it was white. I could feel my ears closing for outer sounds. Then I fell asleep again.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/14/19 5:54 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I meditated for 1 h 50 minutes most of which I spent in and out of first jhana and direct awareness of it, interspersed with weird tensions. It feels pretty much like the 3C nana heading towards A&P. Bubbles everywhere. Loud nada sound. What is it with this impatient mind and its impatient intentions? I said that I want to stay in review!

Impermanence is very obvious in the flickering visual field and in the bubbly body sensations, like sparkling soda in every nook and cranny. The nada sound sounds like a chorus of crickets. Lots of crickets.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/15/19 2:30 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
1 hour of shamatha in the morning. There was jhanic access but it was unstable due to reoccurring thoughts about work.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/16/19 6:30 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have had a couple of really bad days out of touch with both my practice and my body. Yesterday evening I did a couple of guided meditations just to get some help relaxing both body and mind. Then I fell asleep. I woke up feeling like nothing mattered, except my kid, and had very low energy. Now during lunch I did a body sweeping, guided by Ayya Khema. Mostly I just wanted to get away from everything. It felt like it wasn’t going very well at all, but then, suddenly, like from nowhere, I disappeared and came back as in an electric shock. And suddenly there was clarity. The contrast was huge. The world and I were so unsolid that I could barely see during the first moments after I had opened my eyes. The nada sound rings loudly like a field full of crickets.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/16/19 7:24 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Now the sense of static electricity around my head is back. Inside the head, it felt as if things opened up. The eyes are more prown to relax back into their cavities again. I’m equally exhausted but now that’s just a feeling that doesn’t belong to anybody. The world is vibrating with sensory information that is floating around. My face and ears are hot and blushing. Breathing is suddenly easier.

I finished a jigsaw puzzle that I had started before the meditation, and it went so much faster because pattern recognition was much better.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/16/19 10:57 AM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

At a job meeting there was a profound calm and the sense of activity at the crown of my head. Hard to explain.


Good.  <edit>  And also that light jhanic mindfulness of the body has been one of my standby states. Somebody posted a beautiful poem on DhO a while ago written by Ananda in later life, mourning the passing of the old ones but finding solace in mindfulness of the body.

So again, good.

Hi Curious. Would you be able to point me to that poem please?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/16/19 11:07 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Thanks! I wouldn’t at all mind to have that kind of calm as a default position. Definitely not there yet.

I read today that Shaila Catherine recommends students of the dharma to travel in order to put their equanimity to test and have it evolve. I don’t need to travel to put my equanimity to test. With poor executive functioning I find that there are challanges readily available in daily life. No need to go on a search party for them. I do agree that it’s great practice. Practicing in the midst of daily life challenges clearly speeds up the progress.

This is such a wise approach. I have come to see this as intrumental in the way I overlay practice onto to everyday human activities. Loving-kindness on public transport, bodily impurities walking down the road, the five aggregates in conversation and so on. I'm quite a visual person and so I often see peoples innards doing what they do - the heart beating, the lungs expanding, muscles contracting, skin hanging. But there are more nuanced and dynamic things to notice in people especially during complex human interaction. They are the teachers in one sense. The unconscious mind sharpens those who wish to be more conscious and this is a humbling excercise. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/16/19 3:14 PM as a reply to Bardo Cruiser.
Thankyou, that’s inspiring. I haven’t come to meditating on bodily impurities yet, at least not deliberately. When I was a kid I used to think about how my body was full of muscles and bones and yucky stuff and it freaked me out. Lately there have been some spontaneous dreamlike scenes during practice having to do with ripping out my heart or my aorta and stuff like that, but they just flash by. I don’t know how to deliberatly use such themes in my practice. I have started to practice the Brahma Viharas in daily life, though, mainly by embracing the opportunities that are given as I recognize them. 

Hm, actually, now that I think of it, daily life actually offers plenty of opportunity to practice with regard to bodily impurities. Even that smell from the sewage treatment plant can be seen as an opportunity to practice. That thought did cross my mind today when I felt the smell. I've got to say that particular part of the practice is not one of my favorites, though. That's an area where I'm not particularly equanimous normally. I think I may have to approach that particular area gradually in order not to have too strong backlashes.

Thanks for inspiring me to keep going!

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/16/19 3:29 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
In the afternoon I got sick due to a histamine reaction and it knocked out the balance again (I don’t deal well with sickness, as it makes this ego feel very sorry for itself; something to work with), but ashtanga yoga and a meditation class in the evening restored balance, for now, thankfully. Dealing with a sense of self is so exhausting, really. When one thinks about it, it is actually pretty strange that it keeps popping up so persistently. It should be obvious by now that it only causes suffering. Why not just let go of it?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/16/19 7:40 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Lately there have been some spontaneous dreamlike scenes during practice having to do with ripping out my heart or my aorta and stuff like that, but they just flash by. I don’t know how to deliberatly use such themes in my practice. I have started to practice the Brahma Viharas in daily life, though, mainly by embracing the opportunities that are given as I recognize them. 


During my retreat this summer, there was at least 1 one-hour sit where the entire time was spent like this. My body was mutilated and assaulted in every conceivable way, and it just kept getting faster and more intense until it became fun. I wonder if this is a common phenomenon.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/17/19 12:36 AM as a reply to spatial.
It wouldn’t surprise me. It is probably something one has to deal with in order to let go of the ego’s strong grip.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/17/19 7:26 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
This has been a hectic day. I practiced vipassana during a 2 h long seminar today. It was a formal seminar where one of our doctoral students got feedback on his thesis work by two different opponents, so the rest of us mainly listened passively. That is challenging to my ADHD brain, so practicing vipassana was really helpful. I investigated cravings and aversions (including restlessness and various distractions) and the interplay between thoughts and feelings. I also investigated dukkha and mind states (or whatever the right term is), what enabled me to stay alert. Apparently spontaneous cultivation of the Brahma Viharas, as opportunities arise, are very helpful. I managed to cover all the four Brahma Viharas. The last one was particularly helpful. That was a wow-moment. 

In the evening I was overwhelmed by papancha due to too much going on in my mind, so I mainly focused on relaxing in my evening meditation (about one and a half hour) and then allowed myself to go to sleep afterwards. I started out with just taking in what was going on in body and mind without engaging with it and then shifted to shamatha on the breath. The breath partly transformed into light and nada sound but my concentration and energy were inconsistent. I decided that being relaxed was still a success, given the circumstances, so I went to sleep content directly after the session.

In the middle of the night I found that my dreams were repeatedly interrupted by suddenly getting into fourth jhana, if that is possible. At least being in fourth jhana woke me up from sleep. Or maybe it was a state inbetween third and fourth jhana. It had that distinct flavor of strong equanimity and chrystal clarity, and it felt completely secluded, but it wasn't visually like a white sheet. It seems like light sleep has some quality that renders fourth jhana more accessable. Do I really have to fall asleep to let go enough? It is weird, though, because as far as I remember, the dreams involved lots of complications and dukkha. Maybe there were other occurrings inbetween that I just cannot recall. Anyway, it is pretty clear that meditation goes on just fine without a doer. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/17/19 7:51 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
This has been a hectic day. I practiced vipassana during a 2 h long seminar today. It was a formal seminar where one of our doctoral students got feedback on his thesis work by two different opponents, so the rest of us mainly listened passively. That is challenging to my ADHD brain, so practicing vipassana was really helpful. I investigated cravings and aversions (including restlessness and various distractions) and the interplay between thoughts and feelings. I also investigated dukkha and mind states (or whatever the right term is), what enabled me to stay alert. Apparently spontaneous cultivation of the Brahma Viharas, as opportunities arise, are very helpful. I managed to cover all the four Brahma Viharas. The last one was particularly helpful. That was a wow-moment. 

In the evening I was overwhelmed by papancha due to too much going on in my mind, so I mainly focused on relaxing in my evening meditation (about one and a half hour) and then allowed myself to go to sleep afterwards. I started out with just taking in what was going on in body and mind without engaging with it and then shifted to shamatha on the breath. The breath partly transformed into light and nada sound but my concentration and energy were inconsistent. I decided that being relaxed was still a success, given the circumstances, so I went to sleep content directly after the session.

In the middle of the night I found that my dreams were repeatedly interrupted by suddenly getting into fourth jhana, if that is possible. At least being in fourth jhana woke me up from sleep. Or maybe it was a state inbetween third and fourth jhana. It had that distinct flavor of strong equanimity and chrystal clarity, and it felt completely secluded, but it wasn't visually like a white sheet. It seems like light sleep has some quality that renders fourth jhana more accessable. Do I really have to fall asleep to let go enough? It is weird, though, because as far as I remember, the dreams involved lots of complications and dukkha. Maybe there were other occurrings inbetween that I just cannot recall. Anyway, it is pretty clear that meditation goes on just fine without a doer. 

I don't remember now whether it was during the evening meditation or when waking up from sleep, but there were distinct "back in review" sensations: static crackling around the head and rhythmical ticking sounds and kinesthetic sensations. They came together with breathing more easily and a sense of anything being possible.  

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/18/19 5:46 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m wondering, though... The sense of there being static electricity crackling around the head, it also sounds like an A&P thing, right? I don’t know what to think. And if it’s A&P, how do I know whether it is the A&P from a previous path or from the current path?

I’m also wondering about the access to jhanas. I know that it is limited by hindrances and depends on building up a momentum over time, but it still seems to vary with the nanas as well. I’m not sure exactly how much, though. If there is access to fourth jhana, does that mean anything with regard to what nana is ongoing? Or can that happen anytime?

When I listen to people teaching the jhanas, they don’t seem to find it relevant to even talk about the nanas. Do shamatha practitioners not struggle with insight progression getting in the way of their jhanic access? Can they maintain reliable access to all jhanas over time just by maintaining a diligent shamatha practice?

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/18/19 1:46 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
The gentle electric crackling continued to build up. During the day there was a racing heart beat. I went to a soft meditative yoga class where we warmed up the spine a lot. I was in light jhana even before we started, just from lying down on the mat, and during the class I felt my aura and hands buzzing with energy. Sensations were getting more and more finegrained and started to separate from each other until they were... yeah, pretty much like confetti as in the interview I listened to today. That was a very illustrative analogy. Very finegrained confetti, though. Maybe more like that horrible glitter that one can buy in small pots, for craft purposes (the kind you can never get rid of because once you or your kid has opened the pot, you have it everywhere). Then I started to have pleasant shiverings moving upwards through the spine. They continued on the way home frome yoga class. When I came home I sat on the mat for 30 minutes. I didn't set a timer. I just resolved to sit for 30 minutes before I lay down. I'm starting to learn how to sit correctly, so I focused on getting it just perfect. I have noticed that it really makes a difference, energetically, and I'm very sensitive to blockages. When I sit correctly, it is quite comfortable (well, at least in the A&P, which this apparently is). My legs don't fall asleep and my back and neck don't ache. Now I can finally get into jhanas while sitting (I did during yoga class). I could feel that there was a nice flow of energy. I noticed that the bandhas were very helpful in keeping the body in a stable position. I still find it easier to let go while lying down, though, so when 30 minutes had gone by, I lay down on my bed (which has a hard mattress that enables the spine to be straight). I used a pillow to come into a slightly heartopening position. I turned the palms of my hands upwards to open up the shoulders. I focused on my breathing and made it very soft and smooth, and champagne bubbles were building up. The nada sound was loud. I tuned into it, and it made the champagne bubbles shoot up through my spine and explode in a soft bright foam in my head, like when one pours the champagne a little too fast into the glass. There was no popping of the bottle, because the bottle was already open. There was no barrier. This repeated itself a few times. It was very undramatic.

The reclining part of the session was close to one hour long. 

Okay, so I guess that was the A&P. I'm going to assume that it was the A&P of the current path, which I believe is heading towards third. Although I have continued to have fruitions, I have (looking at it in retrospect) seen the nanas body and mind, cause and effect, and the three characteristics, interspersed with some remaining review going on parallelly. That was fast. Okay then. I was fearing being stuck in the early nanas for a while without access to jhanas. I'm not very good at dealing with poor concentration. It makes me irritable and cranky. I'm not as afraid of the dukkha nanas. I might regret that in the days to come. Still, I find the theravadan maps tremendously helpful in dealing with the dukkha nanas, because they make them predictable and unpersonal. Thanks to them, I know that "this too shall pass" is true. However... my kid depends on my being constructive and reliable on Tuesday because that morning we will have to deal with a very delicate matter. It would be a mercy to either be back in A&P by then or visit equanimity for the duration of the meeting and during travelling time. For my kid's sake, I resolve to be at my best at that time. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/19/19 6:50 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I used to think that I loved the A&P, but that was merely a story that I kept telling myself. Now the dukkha in it presents more clearly and I can see that I don't need to get on that emotional rollercoaster. It insisted on drawing me in, engaging me in wired up thoughts, but as I started writing about it, it was suddenly clear that I can choose to disengage from it. Just like that. Okay then. That certainly simplifies things.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/19/19 12:27 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I just spent 1 h 20 min experiencing the world as I know it dissolve and reappear, dissolve and reappear, dissolve and reappear over and over again, in a soft, mellow, pleasantly drowsy state. If dissolution can be like this, I understand why people like it. It certainly is restful, and actually interesting.

Before that, I did a couple of short guided meditations on the five elements. I had a feeling that I might need to balance them, but now I can't remember exactly why. It probably had to do with getting grounded. Oh, now I remember that I was also wondering whether people's choice of kasina objects could mess things up with regard to doshas in Ayurveda. I believe I might be a vata, and I was wondering whether focusing too much focus on space and/or emptiness could make me unbalanced. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/19/19 1:19 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

When I listen to people teaching the jhanas, they don’t seem to find it relevant to even talk about the nanas. Do shamatha practitioners not struggle with insight progression getting in the way of their jhanic access? Can they maintain reliable access to all jhanas over time just by maintaining a diligent shamatha practice?



Let me know if you figure this out. I suspect that they either (a) haven't progressed very far in insight, (b) are naturally super-talented at jhanas and have no hindrances, or (c) have indeed struggled with insight but don't mention it when they teach, because they are just parroting the words they heard from their teachers, rather than teaching their personal experience.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/19/19 7:20 PM as a reply to spatial.
Sure, and you tell me if you figure it out? Deal. I have been wondering for a while now.

The alternative A seems unlikely to me, because at least for me, access depends on insight and I have a hard time understanding how jhanas would not lead to insight whether one likes it or not. Still, apparently that is possible for some people. As for alternative B, yeah, maybe, but... are there really people without hindrances? I mean real human people. If so, I'd really like to know what their secret is. C seems to be a possibility, but I'm not so sure that's true for all of them. Maybe they are just not into mapping and think of it in other terms? Maybe that's the advanced course that they haven't got time to get into on the recorded dharma talks? Or maybe they have really learned to call up nanas to their liking from previous paths? I hear we are supposed to be able to do that. Still trying to figure that one out. Maybe I'm unconsciously so geared towards continuous insight progress that the intention to do that is not really there. I did manage to get back into review when I decided to, so maybe it is as simple as that for them. Or maybe all the talk about getting into momentum refers to a rather lengthy process of getting into the right nana, either on the current path or on a previous path. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/20/19 6:31 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Did a 50 minutes long letting go meditation. As soon as I noticed being caught up in a thought, I let go of it, and it dissolved into vibrations in visual, kinesthetic and auditory spaces, and maybe in something that vaguely reminded of taste or smell. In the beginning it felt like I was free-falling, but with nothing to grasp onto and nothing to crash into, the motion soon turns into stillness. The letting go resulted in brightness and lightness and loud nada sound.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/20/19 9:05 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

When I listen to people teaching the jhanas, they don’t seem to find it relevant to even talk about the nanas. Do shamatha practitioners not struggle with insight progression getting in the way of their jhanic access? Can they maintain reliable access to all jhanas over time just by maintaining a diligent shamatha practice?



Let me know if you figure this out. I suspect that they either (a) haven't progressed very far in insight, (b) are naturally super-talented at jhanas and have no hindrances, or (c) have indeed struggled with insight but don't mention it when they teach, because they are just parroting the words they heard from their teachers, rather than teaching their personal experience.

It suddenly dawned on me: this is of course why both Ayya Khema and Thanissaro Bhikku say that sometimes one needs a wider focus in order to get into jhana, and why Daniel talks about knowing where to widen one's focus in fire kasina. In some nanas the narrow focus doesn't work. That isn't pertinent only to vipassana, but to shamatha as well. Of course. So in dukkha nanas, one gets into jhana by way of widening one's focus. Instead of focusing on breath sensations between nose and lips, one focuses on breath sensations in the entire body, even outside it if possible. Thereby one can make use of the peripheral clarity and be busy enough with the breath to prevent other ideas from sneaking up on the mind and occupy its free capacity. In the lower nanas, on the other hand, one needs to make the focus really sharp, because that's where the capacity is. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/20/19 10:22 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

It suddenly dawned on me: this is of course why both Ayya Khema and Thanissaro Bhikku say that sometimes one needs a wider focus in order to get into jhana, and why Daniel talks about knowing where to widen one's focus in fire kasina. In some nanas the narrow focus doesn't work. That isn't pertinent only to vipassana, but to shamatha as well. Of course. So in dukkha nanas, one gets into jhana by way of widening one's focus. Instead of focusing on breath sensations between nose and lips, one focuses on breath sensations in the entire body, even outside it if possible. Thereby one can make use of the peripheral clarity and be busy enough with the breath to prevent other ideas from sneaking up on the mind and occupy its free capacity. In the lower nanas, on the other hand, one needs to make the focus really sharp, because that's where the capacity is. 
I tested it empirically, and it actually works, even in dissolution. The widening cannot rely on touch sensations, though, because those need to be let go of as one climbs the jhanic arch (or sinks into the jhanic abyss). In the first jhana, I focused on pleasant sensations from the breath in the entire body. (How could I forget that? I have done so intuitively from the beginning of my practice, but now that I try to maintain a systematic shamatha practice, I somehow became to rigid). That was so much easier, and it allowed both piti and sukha to build up. Then there was a shift. Those electric crackles came back, and it felt like my aura was loaded with mana. That feeling was more self-sustaining. Second jhana. After a while the energy gradually came to stillness, with remaning clarity. I allowed the widening to use the visual and auditory fields as the piti subsided. The nada sound can fill up a larger space pretty well. Third jhana. When everything was suddenly chrystal clear and bright white (approaching fourth jhana), the surprise and excitement took me out of jhana. I had to build it up anew. Next time instead a clear tone arose (whereas the hearing out was gradually more cut off), with the same result. So now I know how to do. I just need to cultivate equanimity to a greater degree so that inner light and sound do not tilt the balance. 

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/20/19 12:53 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I did shamatha in the bathtub for 30 minutes. It opened up for a lot of colors. The whole rainbow was swirling around.

Fear presented itself physically with racing heartbeat.

RE: Polly Ester’s practice log 4
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10/20/19 2:01 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I think that if I didn’t have knowledge of the Theravadan maps, I would probably have ended a relationship today, in the disgust nana. Now that I do know them, I’ll just keep my mouth shut for a while. It’s a distance relationship, so no need for confrontation.

Wow, these are some powerful chaotic vibrations. Kind of cool, actually.