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T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log

T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
practice log
Answer
12/18/19 6:58 AM
This morning I sat for quite some time. Everything settled nicely and suddenly that shift happened where my focus just suddenly says "hey - your nose has air passing! RIGHT HERE!" in the sense that I was thinking about doing it prior...and then it just goes and does it without effort. That sort of abrupt shift. 

I sat with that easily for some time just letting it do its thing, and my eyes picked up sort of wave-like patterns that undulated on my eyelids. They were basically a really dark, deep blackness, and the waves were a lighter gray, wisp kind of thing. Sometimes they would come down like drooping campaign bunting, one big one, or one or two - top down. Sometimes they were vertical and moving across. Sometimes they just moved and shaped out there in front of my eyes. Once in a while, they would form into a circle (perhaps a nimitta, based on descriptions). I wasn't able to do anything with it aside from watch it - it would go away if I tried anything. It seemed as though they may have been coinciding with the breath in some way, but it wasn't obvious enough for me to notice - it was just an impression. 

I then heard a noise in the house and my mind took it in, while observing the patterns visually. I noticed that it kind of moved the waves a little, hearing the noise. I also had a thought of something akin to "hearing doesn't know sight" or somehow the idea that one is separate from the other entirely. I then promptly forgot it, it seemed, and had a thought "uh oh. whatever just occured to me seemed useful and/or important" but I was unable to grasp it... so I let it be forgotten. 

Then I was having some kind of thought about...what I really don't recall..it was as if my mind was mid-way through the thought and it got totally cut off very abruptly - just a hard stop - and it was like I suddenly came out of warp speed in Star Wars/Trek. As if "I" was suddenly there realizing my thought got totally gutted, and then everything immediately (quicker than quick) went "whoosh" and came back as if it were catching up to me. Any of you fans out there might be able to visualize what I mean, except remove the light when traveling at warp. The moment when they exit warp and hit normal speed - everything zooms in like bright lines and then sooo quickly is like "pow!" and you can see the planet(s) ahead. It was like that, except it was as if everything was catching up to me, not the other way around. I was stable in the black zone and then things came zooming in. Hard to articulate....

The designs and patterns inside my eyelids were gonzo. It was a very rich, deep, dark kind of black, though. Nothing else at all visually, and yet it had some kind of depth and interest to it in a very warm and comfortable way. I preferred that nothing to the neat patterns I was viewing formerly. The patterns slowly came back, and eventually the nimitta-like, greyish smoke ring donut came back, too. I tried to go into the center of it, but it wasn't happening. It just broke up and when I'd say oh well, it would slowly re-form only to break up again. 

Then I got up and went about my day. Another sit down. Kind of fun!

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
12/18/19 7:35 AM as a reply to T.
T:
I then heard a noise in the house and my mind took it in, while observing the patterns visually. I noticed that it kind of moved the waves a little, hearing the noise. I also had a thought of something akin to "hearing doesn't know sight" or somehow the idea that one is separate from the other entirely. I then promptly forgot it, it seemed, and had a thought "uh oh. whatever just occured to me seemed useful and/or important" but I was unable to grasp it... so I let it be forgotten. 

Hello T.

What you wrote here is a very significant observation and one that, should you come to look more deeply at it, will reveal further interesting aspects about the nature of what we perceive to be inner-world, outer-world, and how consciousness is streamed between the two through the senses to produce a binary perception. The ear hears a noise. One becomes conscious of that noise and the mind interprets that noise through naming and forming. A feeling arises then comes a need to change ourselves or the environment in some way. These are the aggregates respectively: form, consciousness, perception, feeling, and intention. They are typically delivered in this order: form, feeling, perception, intention, and consciousness.

What I read from you is that you were able to remove yourself from this process and watch the entire thing play out perhaps not in the detail I've described but nevertheless, the bare framework was there. It does often appear to us that the senses operate in their own dimensions for instance, seeing does seeing things, and sound does sound things... and so on. I cannot say much more about this as I'm only writing at the level of my current experience.

However, what I do observe a lot of in me is how consciousness is streamed through the aggregated structure of self through the six senses. Senses perceptions are many events and have no relation to each other but the mind has such momentum it strings all these sense perceptions together to produce a stream of consciousness. Because of this the mind itself develops its own sense perceptions called thought so it can keep itself going even at the absence of external sense perceptions. We can see this when we go to sleep at night. The discontent mind dreams in name and form because that is how it is conditioned.

You can observe the aggregates in yourself in many ways throughout the day if that is how you choose to incline your practice. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
12/19/19 6:14 AM as a reply to T.
It is hard to compare experiences from meditation because words are so limited, but what you described in paragraph four sounds to me like it could be the slow version of A&P, the Arising and Passing Away, applied on thinking. That manifests a bit different than most A&P:s and I find it very cool. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
12/19/19 8:50 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Maybe? I have no idea what it was aside from neat-o. 

I have no idea where I am or have been. I've been at it for about 14-15 months really diligently. 1 hour minimum each morning and 30 to 60 minutes every night for the last four or five months. Before that, it was just an hour every morning. I can relate to lots of descriptions of things and have had some moments of clarity where I physically felt lighter and life was "easier" after - until it settles and becomes the new normal; the things I learned that made life lighter are still present, but it is now ingrained; One forgets how much they weighed pre weight loss until they pick up a heavy load again - ideally, with an awareness that it can be set down now...but none of it is obviously any of the pieces and parts described on the path of insight, except in small ways. 

I know fear and anxiety well (though that has never been a thing for me) from this process; I know super chill and everything's cool maaaan from this process; I know everything is exciting amazing and I can't wait to tell everyone how wonderful it all is from this process; and I know deep existential dread from this process (also formerly never a thing for me)... maybe one or two things that would easily point to as A&P (like two stone figures shooting/connected by lightning back and forth between them), but the confusion arises because there's no clear cycle. 

However, in no way has any of that been linear in the ways described elsewhere. Putting out a log just felt like a thing to do so... I did.

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
12/20/19 3:25 PM as a reply to T.
Just had a half hour sit.

I had been watching some Rupert Spira hot takes, so I was in an interesting mental space when I sat down. I basically went directly into a very relaxed and alert sit with very little distraction, yet not feeling any effort toward the (in)actions. 

It was calm and peaceful abiding, I suppose. 

Anyway, at some point, my mind felt a little foggy, in a sense. I suddenly jolted. I thought perhaps I had nodded off, but I was so alert. It happened again a few minutes later; still felt very alert. I checked in on my level of alertness and felt very sharp. I resolved to see if I was nodding. 

I found that, instead, I would feel a sort of brain fog... the eyes would literally feel kind of dense...the back(ish) of my head would have a kind of sensation, and a part on the left side, also. This would feel kind of like tiredness sort of, but much more specific. It occurred to me that it was in relationship to a memory playing out in a sort of daydream fashion. I followed this through and as the memory ended, I would snap mentally to an alertness that felt like returning from nodding off. I decided to watch another and felt the gathering described, and even felt a sort of mental sinking occurring both physically and in a sort of "settling" sense. Then, the memory would conclude and I would snap back - feeling like having nodded off except I was alert and watching if occur. It was marvelous. It wasn't really continuous, but there also didn't seem to be any kind of "gap," as is being long debated in other places on here. 

So I watched for pieces of it as it happened and even sought a memory to continue the process, just to witness it. It was different than the normal narrative mind going, for sure. 

So this went on for some significant piece of the sit and then the bell tolled for me... so I got up very fascinated. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
12/24/19 4:31 AM as a reply to T.
I have been sitting each morning for an hour, as always. In the evenings, generally a half hour minimum. Starting two days ago, an hour each, plus yesterday about three separate hour sits. 

I am tuned in and paying attention, and the sits are nearly boring. There is nothing in particular happening, I'm not the least bit drowsy. My mind doesn't wander far, if at all. I say nearly boring because it isn't actually boring. Simply sitting and breathing, hearing life happening, etc. is enough to keep my attention honed in; it just isn't anything of particular note. No jhanas, but I am very relaxed and have absolutely no problem sitting the hour plus. 

Last night, I said to myself "let go of whatever is keeping you in bland land, man"

Nothing yet. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
12/25/19 2:39 PM as a reply to T.
Christmas Eve I sat for a half hour. It was very relaxed and featureless. It was right before bedtime and went I went to lie down, I had this quick mental image of two colors with a line down the middle, kind of like a nebula in coloration. I had the thought they needed to bleed together or somehow merge. I smiled and the entire thing just went away and I couldn't really remember what I had just thought. 

Today, I did the normal hour in the morning and a couple half hours throughout the day. During this last one, I had a mental image of a kind of dharma wheel out in space. No thoughts about it, just a mental impression and it was made out of sort of space/stars/nebulae. There was an effort to try and turn it inside out - which seemed impossible - but I had the impression of an idea how and began to kind of invert it through the hub... sort of. I immediately got kind of excited about doing that and brought focus onto turning it inside out... and it all immediately disappeared. sigh. 

I keep trying to remember about holding a peanut in the ocean!

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
12/30/19 4:54 PM as a reply to T.
Been practicing right along as described before, except for Friday/Saturday where I had quite short sits. The sits have been the same in featureless-ness, but I have had some flashes of... memory-like things. I'm not sure they are actual memories or if they are just creations of the mind. They flash fairly quickly, so I don't lose focus of the breath, exactly, though it isn't prominent in those moments. They usually seem to be fascinating, but nothing comes out as insightful and I promptly forget the theme. 

The major thing has been how I feel while not meditating. I had a major headache yesterday that originated (it seemed) with tension near the shoulder blades and up into the neck, particularly in the back. THe muscles that extended up into the back of the skull were tight and my head was very unhappy. I tried to soldier it out, but felt ill so I took tylenol. It lessened the pain, but it was there throughout the day. I felt somewhat better toward night. This morning, I felt fine. Then, I sat for about 2 hours 15 minutes and have since been feeling... icky and off. Tightness has returned to the same places, though not causing a headache. My stomach feels nauseous. It isn't necessarily related, but I'm putting it out here in case someone can point to something useful I should be doing to help. I did some metta in the sit today, but everything felt murky and unclear and generally I've felt that way since the sit. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
12/31/19 7:25 AM as a reply to T.
I did a very long guided body scan that started with 20 minutes of standing meditation before bed last night. I followed that with just sitting and felt very focused and extraordinarily calm. The mind was very, very quiet and it felt as though the body could have been completely asleep. It was as if it barely existed. My ears closed down a time or two, and I generally just found it very fascinating sitting still and experiencing the complete interior quiet. During the body meditation my attention was within the body entirely with little awareness beyond. Then, when I transitioned from standing and away from the bones/flesh, and I began sitting, my attention went very flat vertically, but extremely wide. Pinched, yet expansive on one plane. It then transitioned away from that, but I can't say to what. As I said, it was totally quiet in the mind and I actually had to generate some kind of thoughts about what was happening for "anything to happen." I then laid in bed and continued that until I fell asleep. There was essentially no piti or any noted physical feeling(s) of any kind, really. The mind was silent, and I was just sort of looking as... blank awareness. 

This morning, my hour sit was 'chaotic' mentally, though I had no physical aversion to sitting. The mind was all over the map and concentration never came together. My thoughts and attention were totally unbridled and free! ha. Much to my chagrin, though I have tried to simply accept that's what it was and move on. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/1/20 4:56 AM as a reply to T.
So I started reading "No Self, No Problem" by Chris Niebauer and I find it was incredibly helpful, in what felt like an instant, to my practice and in daily life. I highly recommend it to anyone who takes a peek at my log. 

After reading much of the book, I have such a clear understanding of what I'm aiming for with meditation and daily awareness and noting; it isn't some lofty goal a'tall, nor is it mumbo-jumbo. 

As a result, last night's sit and this morning have been... great? I hesitate to qualify, but it is certainly something different. Last night I was in a kind of awareness oblivion for the duration. 

This morning I did an hour, starting with the breath and a light body scan. What I noticed first, upon waking, was that noting was automatic, in a sense. I had qualified myself previously as a terrible noter. I didn't get it. I was forever forgetting to note and hadn't read anything that clicked as to why it works. 

Anyway, after I noted my way to sitting comfortably, scanned the body slightly, and began noting the rise and fall, noises, and what-have-you... I realized that I was much more immediately and clearly noting thinking, wondering, imagining, remembering, planning and was very, very quick to return to the breath, as well as note shifting and stretching movements. It feels as though noting is just... so simple. Except I was so tuned into the narrative brain that it was being drowned out...? maybe. 

The sit was very straightforward. No bells and whistles. I was incredibly focused, felt incredibly fresh, and noted (seemingly) everything there was to be noted. I had no real shifts to anything discernible, but I was certainly jacked up on existence as it is. At one point, however, I did try to return to the breath and realized (in the first moment with alarm, and then with pleasure and internal laughter) that I had no word for "falling" as I noted "rising" and "falling" of the breath. It did come back to me after three or four of them, but for a while it was just... gone. emoticon

When I got up, I continued noting the hell out of living and continue to do so now, several minutes later. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/3/20 7:03 PM as a reply to T.
Sitting has been happening. Continuing an hour per morning, plus at least 20 minutes each evening. Today I did several, hour long sits. I continue to note - kind of a mixture of Shinzen and Mahasi. I've been focusing on "gone" a lot in the Shinzen way and have been noticing a lot of neck stiffness and tightness between the shoulders. I've had some interesting quick fading/jerks while totally alert. Maybe I'm building up to a blackout - I don't know. The sitting itself is easy and without discomfort - I guess the neck undermines that idea, but it's very localized to the neck, between the shoulder blades, and sometimes the mid-lumbar. It basically goes away when I get off the cushion, loosen up a bit, and go on about my day. 

I find noting gone interesting and also hard to keep up with. I note an action, then another action begins before the first one is actually gone, so I find I'm doing something like "hear...see....(hear) gone...hear...(see) gone..." and so forth. They overlap and once in a while it gets kind of confusing, in a way, but I just try to keep at it. 

I find that after doing a little early jhana to get excited and focused, I can go along pretty well. Sometimes I get into what feels like equanimity and then it's even simpler to track what occurs. After a while of that, I just sit and do some shikantaza. I find that is when the gone-noting makes any kind of blank outs happen. It hasn't happened while noting yet. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/4/20 6:58 AM as a reply to T.
This morning I woke up with some serious, serious neck pain and stiffness that was angling toward major headache. I sat for about 30 minutes, but my daughter woke up early so I cut it short. In the sit, since I was having discomfort and such, I just decided to go with some kind of shikantaza/choiceless awareness kind of thing. I found that after the briefest time, I felt some shifts and dropped into a very nice equanimity feeling. I just sat and bathed and remained alert. It felt like some shifty stuff was happening at the periphery, but I just sat and felt so very comfortable and remained alert. Then, as I said, my daughter arose early. 

I got up and my neck was back to painful and stiff and I felt tired. After my wife got up, I went back to sit the other half hour. 

Again, I angled for just sitting; plain and simple. Again, all sorts of quick shifting and rapidly hit and equanimous feeling that was pervasive and made me crack a soft smile. I just sat and felt so.... content. I remained alert. Nothing particular to report. It felt, at one point, like there was some kind of jolt of a... major shift of sorts, but not "in your face" kind of shift. Just a quick - hey, where'd I go? Weird. I still feel super alert. 

That was the only thing going on. I had some peripheral thoughts and considerations swirling around, but I just sat quietly in the middle and was so very, very content and comfortable. 

The bell tolled for me - I ignored it and sat another five minutes or so because it was so luxurious of a sit. When I got up, my neck pain is 100% gone and I feel like a million buckeroos. 

Onward. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/5/20 5:17 AM as a reply to T.
Yes. Trust it. The process knows the way. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/5/20 5:49 AM as a reply to T.
Inspired by Michial's fun with fire kasina, I gave it a whirl last night for about 20 minutes. I don't really have a clue what I'm doing, but I sat and stared at it, closed my eyes, etc. I was able to get a reddish dot  (that reminded me of a sunset in Karate kid) to turn into a very deep red and form a full circle, instead of missing the bottom piece. After a while, it became a very well defined circle, and very, very red, like a laser being shot into my eye. The surround became very, very dark black, and all the murk was pushed to the fringe. Sometimes it was gone entirely, and would slowly creep back in. While starting at the flame intently, some of the time, I was so focused I felt 100% confident that I could interact with the flame. I willed it to flicker - no luck! hahah

Later, I sat for a half hour and it was very peaceful and quiet. Not much to report for that sit. It was comfortable and quiet inside. 

I woke up just before 0100 and was wide, wide awake and felt totally refreshed. I decided to sit for a few - probably 15 minutes. In that sit, it was wide and easy, though not expansive. As most insights seem to go - this seems incredibly obvious - but I realized that thoughts, my narration, and the perspective of the viewer are three separate entities. Meaning - I realized that my narration is more or less optional regarding thoughts. If I narrate the thought, it is grabbing it; if I don't, it just keeps on keeping on and I can kind of see it like an apparition of what it becomes once narrated. I had already seen the separation of viewer and thoughts, but missed the narration bit. 

That felt interesting enough for one midnight sitting, so I went back and lay down, though I was still totally refreshed and awake. I just did some breathing exercises and relaxed. Suddenly, my attention did this really, really expansive sort of thing and I had this instinct "oh shit - this is it!" and tried to see what was happening. Attention sort of ballooned out, away and around, and then came back around behind me. That was it. Anticlimactic, but it was definitely a different feel. After sitting a little longer, I had this vision of a grand staircase with some number of landings ahead of me. It was white, marble stairs and railings with a lovely blue carpeting. Not sure where it goes/went. 

Eventually, I did an hour sit this morning. It started out very restful and cheerful and relaxing once again. I was very, very comfortable and really just enjoying sitting there. At some point, in retrospect, I have no idea how long into the hour...I had the thought that being kind to myself was being kind to all others (and the reverse. Kind of occurred in one idea). Then, I had this attentional shift in a strange way. It was like in the old cartoons where the character is heading to his lair, so he sits in a chair against a short wall... the wall then spins around and the character is on the opposite side of the wall inside the lair. Anyway, it was kind of like that, expect it didn't feel as though I moved, necessarily. It was more like my awareness swirled around me 180 degrees. 

The rest of the sit was super duper peaceful and chillllllll. I "came out of it" right about 4 minutes before my bell was set to go off. 

Rad. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/9/20 7:03 AM as a reply to T.
Been practicing right along, not missing a beat. Generally speaking, this continues to be an hour in the morning, and 25-45 minutes in the evening, and sometimes I do a half hour of fire kasina for fun before that sitting (with reading in between). 

The fire kasina has been fun. I can't report anything funky and fun, but it is enjoyable seeing the red dot and the different color and patterns that can surround it sometimes. I just like doing it - I suppose it is helping concentration, but I am just enjoying it. 

The sits lately have been quite effortless, though not as "deep" as they had been prior. I find myself very alert and focused on sensations. I have been using the Shinzen noting when I note - grouping similar senses into one single phrase instead of giving them each their own.

I have found that this method has kept me more alert than the other noting I was doing. I can't guess as to why, perhaps it is unrelated. More involved in occurrences both in and out, but less of a zen zone.  

That said, I have noticed in this method that I go along noting like so... hear, see, hear, hear, hear, feel, see, feel... at some point it just snaps kind of out of sync. (note: I also note gone, but that is hard to demo in writing) It's not controllable, although kind of. I have noticed that it seems to occur at the conclusion of a "see" thought. Some visual image passes mentally, or some memory concludes... and I kind of blip out. I'm very quickly back (thus the blip) and realize there was a moment of blip. It feels as though my body kind of jerks (similar to nodding off), but I can't determine if that is simply the sensation of it. My body is still in the place I last knew it to be - I'm not chin-to-chest or anything. I also know it is very, very quick, because other hear senses haven't changed enough in the interim to have been long. I'm certain I don't fall asleep; in fact, I have been very awake and rested for days, and I am very aware of it happening up until and right afterward. 

I sleep great for about 7 hours and wake up at 4 without issue. I go all day without yawning and really enjoy the daily activities, and go to bed around 9 just to keep a solid routine. I'm not necessarily "tired" by then, but I am comfortable to lie down and do some quick noting before falling asleep and stay asleep for 7 straight. 

Regarding the ability to "control" the blip. If I note it as a blip and consider what it was, and then think "let's see about that again," I can sometimes get a blip to happen again within a couple minutes, sometimes three in an hour. It seems to depend on just how zen-ed out I am, and whether I intend to try again, but then simply go back to noting diligently. If I try to, it doesn't happen. Perhaps a subtle difference, but I imagine any readers here will get the idea. 

EDIT* Forgot to mention that I have been consciously turning my crossfit workouts into meditation practice. I remember some allusion to physical activity (marching) in MCTB2 being possible for that, so I decided to do it on purpose. Essentially, I turn it to basic noting and try keeping my attention grounded as low, physically, as I can. So yesterday, it was running, box jump overs, rowing - combinations of those. I would basic note "left, left, left, right, left" while running; "up, 1, down" for box jump overs; "bend, push, bend, push" for rowing. I found that I really maximized my physical ability beyond my norm. It was partners, and while resting I would note my footfalls as I walked, or my in/out breath. At the end, I was dizzy and very, very winded, though I hadn't noticed it one bit during the noting. It was great. I am so, so very sore today. 

That's the view from here.

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/11/20 4:50 AM as a reply to T.
The last couple of days, I have found myself engaged in a conversation, or otherwise occupied in a similar way, and suddenly had attention tune into the fact that one of my hands (generally dominant) is in some odd posture. It isn't necessariyl odd in and of itself, but my brain never sent a signal to change it from whatever it was doing before. So I'll find it rigidly sitting in some strange way for the context as I speak... notice it and then change the position. It's interesting. 

Sits have been just sitting and noting. Very alert and zero tiredness (all day and also during sits), but nothing kind of "going on" during the sits. 

This morning's hour sit, I just sat down. As in - I didn't have any real intention. I didn't get up to my alarm, I laid around a bit, finally had the impetus to go sit come up so I did... and just sat down. My mind wandered all over god's creation and I was aware of it from an observer perspective - never truly losing myself into the wandering. At some point, I felt a drop like an elevator and went down about four floors. It was fun so I tried to tune into the drop (maybe jhanic in nature) and it wasn't very eventful. I simply felt very clear, alert, and observant. So I just kept letting the mind do as it might. 

That continued the full hour. I'd have the seemingly random and unidentified elevator drops and just watch whatever seemed to be randomly occurring. I continue to be very balanced in my daily life and not really ever getting tired mentally. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/12/20 4:35 AM as a reply to T.
I sat quite a bit last night. It wasn't much of anything and I had trouble keeping any focus. I noticed being uncomfortable physically more. Throughout the day, earlier, I was feeling antsy and fidgety. I had one pretty serious jerk/body mvement/kriya of my dominant arm and hand. Before that I had done 40 minutes of fire kasina. 

This morning was quite terrible as far as sit goes. I did my daily routine. Immediately, I was uncomfortable, but I just soldiered on. That lasted the entire time, sort of crescendo-ing throughout the hour. It felt like my focus was a mess - actually, non-existent. I tried following the breath with a mantra to help, but I wasn't able to keep track. My mind felt like a busy, busy place. I couldn't relate any one thread here, exactly, but I kept getting pulled around with what was going on and totally and completely forgetting my intent.

Somewhere around halfway through, maybe, I heard what was maybe the nada sound? I haven't heard it before, so I'm unsure. It was definitely not an external stimulus. It sounded like two of those wooden blocks clunking together once. It had a very interesting tone to it, but sounded faint. 

Throughout the sit, I noticed that I kept realizing I was hunched forward/curled in. Kind of like falling asleep, but I wasn't, and it was my entire torso. I would realize that and then straight up slowly - a while later (15 minute maybe) I would notice it again. 

As the sit went on, I started to worry about how much longer I had left to sit. I felt very overwhelmed by what was going on in my head. I had tried to start metta twice. The first time, I had trouble remembering how to even begin (odd and concerning, if I had been able to remember I was doing that, which wasn't until later). The second time, I was able to access the phrasing, but only got through the first four or five words of my phrasing when I realized I had forgotten the first time, and couldn't fathom why; I use it all the time. It worried me a little and felt out of hand. I did manage to get through one round before my mind just went elsewhere and I wasn't able to continue the metta anymore. 

I was very uncomfortable and in "pain" for the latter half hour of the sit. The mind was feeling pretty wild. I began feeling ill at ease with it all, anxious, etc. Then, it started to rain. I was sitting beneath a skylight, so I could hear it start very, very slowly... one drop at a time, and slowly increase. This felt naturally soothing and stopped my freaking out, but not how painful sitting was. The bell tolled for me, but I resolved to power through a little longer to prove a point to myself (I guess). I listened to the rain, noting gone after each drop walloped. I felt less edgy, anxious, and worried. 

I've seen/heard people talk about how their practice, in certain stages, can feel like going back all the way to the beginning again - but this felt worse than that to me. I never had much trouble focusing when I first began meditating, though I obviously worked with discomfort and what method helped me best maintain focus. This was like negative progress, though I know it isn't like that, necessarily. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/13/20 5:18 AM as a reply to T.
So. Yesterday after the journal/log, I continued to experience high levels of anxiety and worry. I felt cooped up and hemmed in...and all that jazz! So, I decided to try and work it out instead of stew. I headed to the morning crossfit and approached the workout as a noting/meditative practice. It was a thirty minute deal. It seemed to help a little and got me physically churned down into a more relaxed state. The rest of the day I had underlying freakouts happening all day in the heart area with period of high anxiety. My wife could definitely feel my energy, which made for some annoying conversations for both of us. 

At some point during the day, it became kind of exciting. I was driving back from somewhere and it felt like an adrenaline rush more than anxiety. I have always been an adrenaline junky, so I channeled this into something super awesome to experience. It was like driving too fast (I wasn't) or riding a roller coaster, or sky diving. Somewhere on that spectrum depending on the moment. I would give it consideration and let it roll without doing much. 

I sat 45 minutes before bed, which was different than earlier. I was much more able to focus, or at least some semblance thereof. I just did breath focus and sat. Though the mind did stray some from time to time, it was relatively focused on the breath. I wasn't very comfortable after the first 20 minutes; my back started hurting as well as my legs. I kept on keeping on. I inclined toward jhanas (I really only have the lower 4 with any success), but they weren't happening. 

This morning, I sat an hour. Started out uncomfortable and continued, but I sat through. I kept with the breath and was able to focus alright. In the beginning the mind was quite clear and featureless. Various stories came and went; I followed a few, but was aware I was doing so. I inlined toward the jhanas again, but only felt like 1 happened...maybe 2. At some point, I think I may have dropped to 3 because my core felt very warm, but my arms and chest had a very cool sensation, if somewhat clammy. There was something interesting about the field of focus, but I'm not sure I can articulate it. I stayed there the rest of the sit without any changes in focus, attention, or the body feeling. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/13/20 3:03 PM as a reply to T.
I was watching a video of Fool Us with Penn & Teller. The magician fooled them, during which he elaborated about losing his ability to be fooled at 13 years old; he described the trick, but made it yet another trick maintaining the viewer's innocence. Anyway, as I said, they were fooled and were praising his skill. 

...and I just started crying. I was so damn happy for the guy and for his skill, and for our maintaining of innocence to go forward naive and believing in magic, and their honoring of his abilities. Just cried. 

That came out of left field and has to be related to my practice. 

RE: T's (likely sporadic) Practice Log
Answer
1/18/20 4:54 AM as a reply to T.
Sits recently have been pronounced by discomfort and a general lack of impulse to do them. I continued to sit the morning hour and a few short evenings, but the desire to wasn't there in the same way it had been prior for so long. 

Yesterday, it came back! I did a 45 minute sit and was excited to do so. During it, there was zero sloth/torpor/boredom that would mix into past sits. Discomfort certainly existed after a half hour or so (I was sitting in a different way than I usually do, and on a different surface, so I'm surprised I made it that far), but it was kind of... there. It wasn't pain in the sense of a deterrent and something I was battling with. It was just noticed as what would be interpreted as pain, but wasn't coming through that way exactly. At one point, I had a strange sort of jolt at the bottom of the out breath. I had been very, very relaxed. I could sort of recreate it at the bottom of the out breath if I really tried to relax absolutely everything in my experience. It would result in this sort of jolt. 

This morning, during my morning hour, it was basically the same, but the pain seemed even less interesting and relevant to anything. I could check it out if I chose, but it was kind of "down there" and not necessarily relevant to "me." 

So the drop out/jolt thing happened, seemingly randomly as I got super relaxed. I decided to play with it a bit, inquisitively. During the out breath, I would just try and relax as much as possible - mentally and physically. Kind of let go. It felt kind of like, as I descended, I could just drop right out of the body, in a sense. I would reach the bottom and feel very open, and there would be a jolt and the in breath would start. I kept doing it and found that my concentration seemed to deepen out of curiosity, I imagine. I kept monitoring it - relax, open, let go.. jolt...in breath. 

I think I've decided that I finally found the base, base impulse to in breath...? I'm really not sure.

I definitely in-breathe after the sort of jolt. The jolt, as I'm calling it, isn't like holding your breath and having a strong desire to breathe. In fact, I let go and didn't respond to the impulse in that way, and the jolt came separately without the impulse feeling, and after. It originates somewhere deep down and comes up from "the bottom" and then up through, and subsequently I breathe in. It is hard to truly see if one causes the other. On the way down, it feels like I'm letting go to an extent that my body would just fall apart/away/open, and the jolt brings me back up and in. Hard to articulate. I get the same feeling of the mind in that moment - like it is opening and I can see it totally relaxing and it could also fall apart/away/open completely and - zingo. Except... jolt.