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Pepe's Log

Pepe's Log
12/30/19 7:21 AM
Encouraged by the recent Daniel Ingram videos, I decided to resume Speed-Noting (as a general framework), although applying some techniques learned to avoid generating unnecessary tensions, which in my first attempt (2012-2013) I couldn't cope with. The A&P - DÑ cycle was repeated too many times without ever being able to consistently settle on EQ. That cycle even continued for a while when I stopped meditating, then finally disappeared. Other practices such as BV’s 6R, Sz’s Gone Noting, LK’s Glimpses and taoist Qigong pointed in the opposite direction, and were successful in eliminating tensions and in making a more bearable practice. The problem is that sooner or later it went nowhere due to lack of concentration or excessive dispersion. Today I see that it is necessary to find a dynamic balance between demand and relaxation, which by the way varies almost every sit.

Background: I hit a big A&P for the first time via a Qigong practice in 2005, then several times during 2012-2014 via Mahasi Noting. Low EQ is the maximum level reached, but soon enough went back to DÑ or 3C-A&P-DÑ. Present Time: Speed-Noting, with ear plugs (too much noise at home and the street) Not a ‘bip’ note but kind of  **** <@__ <- * · * x ·· ^ __ O ··> o_ ·*·  as an old DhO member amusingly described. Its focus is on the head as central focus and the rest of the body as periphery. I try to gain speed and precision in the Noting, and when I notice that too much tension is generated, I loosen up by breathing, and I go on to do a body-sweeping in the Goenka style, but exclusively in the head. During the first week I tried different things, but then settled in what I described above.

RE: Pepe's Log
1/14/20 7:42 PM as a reply to Pepe.
Dec 14/2019: 1 hour. Back to Speed Noticing (MCTB2) within Choiceless Awareness limited to a chest-to-head area,  and using the nostrils as an anchor when stimuli are missing. Only noting (noticing) beginnings, except obvious endings. Phase 1 is 90% physical and 10% mental-auditory. Phase 2 is 80% physical, 10% mental-auditory and 10% mental-visual. Phase 3 is 70% physical, 20% mental-auditory and 10% mental-visual. In phases 2 and 3 strong (SZ’s) gones occur (big vanishings), mostly from mental-auditory things. In Phase 3 I was able to observe physical objects in the center at the same time and tranquility in the periphery (sides and depth). In general, the return to Speed Noting was comfortable and energizing. I imagined it would be stressful, but it wasn't.

Dec 15/2019: 1 hour. Much more mental-visual and emotional than yesterday, partly because of an family argument that happened today. In order to explore and change, I put more focus on the vibrations and also changed from wide focus to narrow focus, both in the nostrils and in the abdomen. There were also times to stop at some persistent tension in the head.

Dec 16/2019: 1 hour. I tried this time focusing on the abdomen (it came out natural, after doing a Catholic mantra). First the expansion / contraction and pulse occur, then the most diffuse vibration (10 per sec) and then punctures in the periphery (arms and legs). Later (without being fully stabilized), I began to observe tensions in the head, which remain connected to the observation of the abdomen, that is, while below is a 'pure' physical sensation, above (head) there are physical sensations resulting from the tension of observing the sensations below. The focus is on Dukkha, detecting and relaxing tensions and Anicca is in the multiplicity of sensations. Anatta remains to be detected. It is interesting how sometimes, from a sensation, the mind generates a crazy object, which does not correspond to the physical reality under observation.

Dec 19/2019: 1 hour. I made a mix with 50% Anicca and 50% Dukkha focus, sometimes in the whole body and more in the second part only in the face. The interesting thing is that even when I try to maintain speed in Anicca, at some point the mind calms down. There, instead of solidifying that calm and spatiality, I instead tried to detect the remaining Dukkha. For some time I had several consecutive moments of gones (big vanishings), which seemed to be generated as a result of searching for the remaining Dukkha. But it is not clear if it was a repetition of gones instead of deepening concentration or something else. Is this similar to looking for 3C at the exit of the Jhanas? A similar technique I use was to say a long Christian mantra, but without concluding it, leave it unfinished. In that emptied space/silence that was left unfilled with words, I also look for the remaining Dukkha. Sometimes, when I see Anicca stagnant, I focus on the visual.

Dec 20/2019: 1 hour. I did not do a physical stretch or Qigong before the sit. The practice drifted to a Samatha type with some investigation, kind of TMI, although with more focus on dissolving tensions. It was hard for me to find objects in general. Maybe I should have bet fully on the pleasurable sensations that arose in the belly, rather than focusing on the head. I guess with practice I will discern faster where to focus. I looked for yesterday's vanishings, but that had much less effect.

Dec 21/2019: 1 hour. Finally, I printed the Progress of Insight section of the MCTB2. Then while meditating I saw that I went through M&B, C&E and The 3C. In M&B it is noticed that (i) the ‘monkey mind’ is silent; (ii) the difference/relation between certain sensations and then its extension in time, more like echo (tension, vibration, heat) than anything else. In C&E how the mental-visual are triggered (mental impressions) and how an intention triggers a thought. Sometimes I listen to the intention and the thought with a slight offset of 1-2 seconds. In The 3C it is clear how the thoughts pop up, as if they are passing by (not coming from the ‘background’). I tried to observe how I observe those thoughts, to see what is related to Anatta. Since they are not very long (or I don't have much concentration), I don't have much time to see what happens (I don’t see a center where thoughts come from). What does happen is that as a result of this, I can observe the tensions that thoughts trigger. Usually they are in the scalp, but sometimes in the hands also. There are some minor pain in the throat and scapula, postural issues. Not on the legs, I get up and they are fresh, ok, not asleep. Also, my head doesn’t bend backwards, as in other previous practices, a sign that I’m not dozing off. One of the things that I noticed is that there is a moment of transition where I do not accurately observe sensations in a bounded area (eg. breathing), that I must expand the focus to the whole head or head and trunk, in order to maintain a rhythm of sensations per second. That change is comfortable, open practice feels more comfortable than focused.

Dec 22/2019: Less than 1 hour, as I was tired from a long walk back from the park. Even so, two levels of concentration deepening (silence and peripheral) were evident. It was not easy to notice physical sensations, but many thoughts flying, product of fatigue. Though it was easy to feel the warmth in Dantian (lower belly), I didn't focus there so it wouldn't end up being a samatha practice. One thing I observe is that I’m kind of unintentionally alternating days of Vipassana and Samatha practice.

RE: Pepe's Log
12/30/19 7:22 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Dec 23/2019: 1 hour. I sought to maintain a high observation speed. That inevitably generates tensions. So at first I alternated between observation and relaxing tensions. But then I tried only to relax the tensions of the periphery, and instead put the focus on the central tension, allowing observing the objects that arose on the periphery. For central tension, just let it grow, peak and fade. Although I also alternated with Goenka's method of breathing five times from that tension to make it relax. At the time of the primary focus, I alternate between breathing, the third eye, the head in general, the hands, and visual elements.

Dec 24/2019: 1 hour. I tried saying ‘attention’ between the end of exhalation and before inhalation, to maintain concentration during the noticing. It worked. I realized that it is a matter of accepting that this type of vipassana generates many more sensations but also more tensions, so I use the exhalations to unload those tensions. Other vipassana methods are less stressful, but eventually lead to lethargy (torpor) or absent-minded, they need a higher level of concentration in order to work. Maybe that's why the SZ’s Gone or Self-Inquiry work best in Equanimity. Another comparative point is that deep down, when doing Noting, the labelling involved many more words (and varied) than just saying ‘attention’. It is like a kind of mantra, without religious connotations.

Dec 25/2019: 1 hour. I continue to apply the ‘attention’ mantra and I see that it works at any moment of the breathing cycle, maybe it is convenient at the end of exhalation. This time also after a while the focus expands towards the periphery, especially the arms, where there are less taps (pinchazos, etc) and more like small bubbling. This time, with 10 minutes left, I removed the ear plugs, and obviously it is more comfortable, less general tension in the head. And I also kept trying to focus on the visual to change a bit and maintain the level of concentration. The most interesting thing arose at the end, when I laid down and I put exclusive focus on the visual. At first, the light was subdivided into concentric circles (strands of light that were modified). Then, at the bottom of these threads of light, a really fast flickering began, which seemed to alternate between a continuous light and blinking. I guess this must be the necessary speed for stream-entry.

Dec 26/2019: 1 hour. Max Speed-Noting -> 15 / sec. I forgot to use ‘attention’. Nevertheless I put effort into observing each sensation in each moment, both the obvious ones (rubbing of the hair, clothes, between hands, pillows, etc.) as the pulses and the bubbling. I relaxed the tension at the expiration. From there I did body-sweeping only in the head. In particular, when I put the focus on the area just above the forehead, there is a very fine bubbling at the base of the spine (also the shoulders ). Kind of activating the Kundalini. In the end, I lie down and take out the plugs and make 5 minutes of vipassana from the threads of light. Both yesterday and today I reached another level of meditation, where everything works quieter. It does not seem to be A&P, because it lacks a high level of noticing. Nor does seems to be EQ because I did not go through DÑ, and the discomfort in the throat seems more than 3C than anything else since it is not accompanied by gloomy images or red colors as years ago. Probably it’s the transition between The 3C and A&P. I still have to end with distractions to be a real A&P. Nervertheless, it is worth adding that during my daily nap, half-asleep I saw 'light rays', a typical symptom of previous A&P. Later at night, it took me more than 2 hours to fall asleep (another A&P symptom) in part because the jhana factors were big on legs and Dantian. Before happening that, an extensive bubbling runned through all the limbs (kind of Qigong type). In the short nap the next day, the where Moire Patterns (another A&P symptom,probably).

Dec 27/2019: 1 hour. Max Speed-Noting -> 10-12 / sec. As I slept very little and could not take a long nap, fatigue was felt. Even so, the Noting worked quickly and with less distractions, recognizing faster thoughts as such. The trick was to quickly apply head-sweeping and then open to the whole body. The bubbling was not as accurate as yesterday nor activated at the base of the column. But I did notice a general vibration, more like a shaking type. I had already felt it on other occasions, but could not distinguish it for what it was. The interesting thing is that although the shaking is fast, the gap between each peak could be distinguished. From time to time (2-3 times per sit), my body naturally accommodates to a less intense and wider Noting. After lying down, in order to see the threads of light I had to put more intension/tension.

Dec 28/2019: 2 hours. Max Speed-Noting -> 10 / sec? Enter to DÑ. The number of observations per second dropped, and many more images began to appear, without the A&P colorfulness, and now colors with textures. But ocher colors have not yet appeared as in previous DÑ. It is possible to observe in the periphery the low bubbling, that at times the gap can be distinguished between end and beginning of the next. While I had an eye on the periphery, I tried to observe the reactions in the center. But I don't remember now how I did it... When the number of observations per second fell, I used Goenka on the head, plus noting the easy sensations to keep some speed. The second hour was a reclined meditation, where I did a body-sweeping through the back and then the trunk and legs. Afterwards, I paid more attention to the jhana factors growing in legs and Dantian.

Dec 29/2019: Less than 1 hour (family interruption). Max Speed-Noting -> about 20 / sec at the beginning of the practice, but without the gaps so clear. What was noted that on top of an extended vibration (starting at legs and then resonating to shoulders & back) there was an ‘Intensity Sin (x) cycle’. Not a doubling of sensations, just higher/lower intensity. Then the speed dropped to 8-10 / sec, but it could have been 4-5/sec if not counting the sensations easy to note. It was more difficult to observe thoughts as objects. There were many images, mostly cartoons. The nice thing is that they were doing something, as if they were short films. There are no stories though, just movements. This has already appeared years ago in other DÑ. I guess it's a non-frightening way of showing me issues that would otherwise generate rejection, fear, etc. There was no red color or ocher tones, nor textured colors.

RE: Pepe's Log
1/14/20 7:43 PM as a reply to Pepe.
Dec 30/2019: 1.5 hour. Max Speed-Noting: 10 / sec. At first there were vibrations in the chest and then also arms and hands. Some discomfort in the throat, which dissolved when I focused on it. After 40 minutes I had to leave the ear-plugs, because the heartbeat returned again and again as much as I accommodated it. This usually happens when there are more tensions. Unlike previous days, there were almost no colors or images (a sad face, also a tender one but pixelated and poorly defined). There were a lot of emotional issues that paraded. But I didn't get too stucked with them and I could even at times observe how the mind reacted (tensely) to these thoughts and emotions. Same with reactions of attention, disgust, rejection, etc. to how the mind reacted to these thoughts and emotions, when the practice derailed. It cost a lot to run the body-sweeping through the head. The interesting thing is that the last half hour, I did body-sweeping lying down, first only on the legs, then whole-body breathing inbreathing from the feet and out breathing by the hands. Here there were many more sensations (vibrations, bubbling, etc.), although not as precise. A tension (global, not focused) grew in the legs as a byproduct of putting the focus there. Even if I relax, the tension grew again. Associated with this tension, a heat grows in the Dantian. Perhaps I would have to do only 0.5 hour of sitting meditation and 1 reclining hour, to investigate if this leads to 1st Jhana.

Dec 31/2019: No meditation today, I’ve been away from home all day.

Jan 01/2020: 50’. Max Speed-Noting  8 / sec. I could continue without ear-plugs all sitting, and as it was short there was no second reclined section. First there was a general vibration in the legs and arms. There was no discomfort in the throat. Then there was a flood of auditory thoughts (there were no images). They were too many but I could observe them without getting stuck in mental loops. At some point I sought to modify the situation by looking for sensations in the head, doing body-sweeping there. There was a very shy energy flow between the crown to a point just before the forehead starts. I tried to breathe from the head, but  it didn’t generate more sensations either. I changed and began to observe only the expansion / contraction of the abdomen with the breath, with the intention of releasing tensions with the exhalation. But just by following the breath, it made the stream of thoughts disappear completely. That was a big relief. Then, while following the expansion / contraction of the abdomen, I looked for the vibrations in the legs and arms. Couldn’t find them. Only after searching enough, I observed just a fine (steady) vibration there.

Jan 02/2020: 30 ’+ 90’. Max Speed-Noting 8/sec. In the first sitting, the general vibration immediately arose. But as I looked for sensations in the head, the vibration disappeared. It was quite difficult to find sensations in the head, beyond the obvious ones. It didn't even help to breathe from the head. What came and went was an itching / discomfort in the front bone just below the throat, something typical of previous DÑ. I observed many thoughts, and the best thing about sitting was that I was able to register 2 of the 3 Features: Dukkha and Anatta. In the case of Anicca, I observed few beginnings but always the peaks and endings. This makes me think that vipassana methods that focus only on relaxing / dissolving tensions (or resignifying it as Metta) such as Bhante Vimalaramsi are incomplete. Something similar must happen with Goenka's body-sweeping, if it is not possible to reach the whole-body-sweeping at each breath (because there it do seems more likely to see 3C simultaneously). It would be good to make a map highlighting which Vipassana Jhanas each method is most useful.

The second sitting (90’) I focused on using as a primary object the expansion / contraction of the abdomen, while cultivating and investigating signs of rapture. Soon there were vibrations in legs and arms. I extended it to the whole body, there were no major problems except in the chest and mouth of the stomach, where vibrations appeared only after some minutes, but not at the same level as the rest. Then there was also some vibrations and bubbling at the base of the column. In general, the heat in the lower abdomen grew with my intensity level of focus; it did not reach a point of escape speed. Then the vibration went down to a smaller level, even when I put energy on it. During the sitting, I could see the 3C well in the thoughts, I think it is the first time it happens. And the annoying sensation in the throat disappeared. As it was a different scenario to do vipassana, it was difficult for me to find the balance between energy and tranquility.

After reading in MCTB2 the section of the 7 Factors of Awakening, I see that this method is a complete framework (7AF) for Stream Entry. A much more refined and balanced version than the ‘Shooting Aliens’ of the 3C of the MCTB1. Just for fun, I’ll use its classification for today’s practice: Mindfulness (medium), Investigation (mid-high), Energy (mid-low, unstable), Rapture (mid-low), Tranquility (medium), Concentration (low), Equanimity (mid-low).

Jan 03/2020: 50 ’. Max Speed-Noting 4/sec. It is a very different practice. When I focus on breathing in my belly, pleasant heat grows, vibrations in my legs and rapid pulses at the base of the spine/sacrum. But thoughts and images do not arise, although there are logically intention-thoughts derived from the fact of wanting to investigate. When I investigate the heat, after a while I can find traces of finer vibrations that are more pleasant than the general heat. Then, when I try to observe why no thoughts arise, the mind engages directly with the peripheral (non-bodily) upper space. This is recognized as mentally pleasurable. I see that I was exerting effort and that was somehow rejecting that pleasure from a relaxed, but alert and expanded mind. There, thoughts begin to arise, and I clearly see the 3C. If I want to return to the belly, as a secondary or even primary focus, there is only pleasant heat, but undifferentiated. It is just a warm zone. Then, returning to the spatial / peripheral focus, from time to time the mind spontaneously focused on the ‘center’, near the nostrils. There I observed pleasant sensations of breathing. Thus, that the mind travels 3 different research foci (belly, space, nose), with its own qualities. The ‘center’ needs further investigation.

Jan 04 /2020: 20 ’. I focused on the movement of the belly, and it took some time for the pleasant heat and vibrations to grow in the legs. Quickly though, waking dreams  flooded in. I tried to put more intensity in noting, but soon the dreams returned again. On weekends it is more difficult to set time aside from my family, plus I have more physical activity. And although I sleep more, the fatigue of the business week drags me down.

Jan 05/2020: 50 ’. The first 20’s were a repetition of what happened yesterday. So I alternated the focus, first on the head (body-sweeping) and then the nostrils. It didn't help much, though. But the interesting thing is that after the 20’ mark, the head suddenly cleared, the peripheral space became the place to be and I was more alert. Thoughts circulated strongly, but I could observe at least 2 of the 3C.

RE: Pepe's Log
1/14/20 7:43 PM as a reply to Pepe.
Jan 06/2020: 70’. Max Speed-Noting 4-6 / sec. As in the previous occasions, I began by following the movements of the abdomen and investigating the expansive heat there and at the legs. I tried to expand it towards the trunk and head. Then I alternated the focus of attention between the upper (outer) space and the abdomen, looking for sensations to investigate the 3C. In general it was a very silent practice in terms of thoughts, something new for me. Something that did happen at times but not for long stretches like this one. I took the opportunity to try to observe / investigate attention itself, intentions, space. I took advantage of the tranquility to practice total surrender and its physical components. Also, vanishings a la SY. The time after meditation (family dinner) was very quiet too.

Jan 07/2020: 50’. This time I tried to start focusing on the nostrils and head, to register more sensations. Didn't have much success in that. When I focused on the abdomen, it was also hard to investigate. Then I focused in space, and there everything settled down. Very quiet. I went back to breathing from the nostrils to notice the small sensations and thoughts. I observed many vanishings, but there were also several distractions. 

Jan 08/2020: 20 ’+ 70’. As I had slept only 4 hours, I decided to do a mini-session of lying meditation, assuming that I would immediately fall asleep. But half awake, half asleep, I noticed a strange situation related to breathing (I don't know if inhalation or exhalation): everything I had in front (space, not me) turned from right to left. Obviously, it wasn't fruition. An early-miss, unlikely too. It was interesting that I could recognize the half-sleeping situation.

In the second (long) sitting I cultivated the jhana factors at the beginning from vipassana, and tried to expand the vibrations and pleasant pulsations at the base of the spine. Then the pleasant feeling literally solidified the abdomen like a hot barrel. For a long time, it was really very calm and alert. I had few things left to investigate. I then sought to investigate awareness itself. Later some thoughts distracted me. I could see the 3C, but not constantly, without pause, but rather choppy. When the pleasant feeling solidified, I changed for a body-sweeping at the back, head and front of the torso. I put special emphasis on the chest, an area that I generally avoid so as not to generate annoying pressures that usually derail the practice. There were no major problems, because everything was already quite relaxed.

Jan 09/2020: 60’. At first the typical signs of DÑ returned, with the impossibility of breaking the solidity of sensations in feet and abdomen, and many thoughts (another day with few hours of sleep). Then I put the focus on the nostrils, where I could do more noting but still with many thoughts. The interesting thing is that I put the focus on thoughts, as I had just read today about how thoughts are actually a compound of all the senses. There I saw that my thoughts in general have 3-4 components: (1) auditory; (2) visual; (3) physical; (4) spatial-proprioception. This was very helpful to experience ‘on-line real-time’ how thoughts are composed, and to give continuity and consistency to the practice. In addition, the signals of DÑ disappeared. The other interesting thing is after the bigger vanishings, in general I usually observed the spatial element and mental tranquility. But now I saw that these two things trigger at the same time (or is included in the package) a physical tension, usually near the crown or just below (and behind) the eye cells. Kind of like holding on to the last wood after a shipwreck... 

Jan 10/2020: 60’. At first it was difficult to use the abdomen as a focus, but it was easy to do it in the nostrils, which triggered heat in the legs and abdomen. There was more peace of mind than yesterday. As the focus was on observing how the thoughts were composed (their physical sub-parts and spatial location), although I saw one or more of the 3C, there was no precision like in previous sessions. During the day, I could also see (with seconds of delay) the images that are part of the thoughts. Mental impressions too, but not associated with thoughts, but by concentration effect I suppose. So it seems like a good daily practice. In the middle of the sitting I did a body-sweeping on head and trunk, and then briefly I could do a whole-body breathing with small vibrations throughout the body. At some point there was a lot of heat growing from the legs, more vibrations at the base of the spine.

Jan 11/2020: 30’. The initial DÑ sensations in the throat went away quickly. I did not focus on breathing and impermanence, nor on the spatial element. As I had little time, I observed Dukkha, how the body reacts to any sensation or thought, be it pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Thus, I constantly observed tensions. The most interesting ones are after big vanishings, where tension appears somewhere in the head. During the day, I continued to observe the visual images that make up the thoughts.

Jan 12/2020: 70’. In the first few minutes there were vibrations in the lower abdomen, then discomfort in the throat (usual sensations during DÑ). So I took the opportunity to focus on the reactions to Dukkha, as I did yesterday. There were constantly tensions for all three cases. The strangest were for neutral sensations. The most striking were those that arose after vanishings, where I observed auditory thoughts that were accelerating and the pitch was getting sharper, until in a moment it was like I was completely submerged on that climb and pum! all thoughts disappeared and I watched in a quiet and larger space. But as soon as I did a little investigation on the body, I noted tension in the head, either the crown, eyes or cheekbones. 

Later, there was a very interesting phase, where on the one hand there were many thoughts and lucid-dreaming (very visual) but there was a clear perception of a background that contained everything, and that was very quiet. This seems to me as a very likely sign of Equanimity. Later, these thoughts and dreams disappeared, so this place got very quiet, where little happened. After a while I decided to try whole-breathing. This time, the breath covered all (though at first the throat and part of the chest did not respond), accompanied by a faint vibration throughout the body.

RE: Pepe's Log
1/25/20 10:13 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Jan 13/2020: 60’. Similarly to yesterday's session, but with less concentration. Just a big vanishing to work with. The interesting thing was that I followed the path of these subtle tensions (this time more on the cheekbones than on the scalp). After the vanishing, I observed a tension in the scalp and I stay with it to see if it changes, disappears, etc. It is not solid or intense, although it is localized. This observation triggered another tension in the jaw. And from there I looked for the subsequent tension, etc. I could not do whole-breathing, there was not enough concentration.

Jan 14/2020: 70’. I started with unpleasant sensations in the neck-throat and automatic neck adjustments (3C, I suppose). As the noticing did not work, I switched to open space, in which all of this changed. Worked on decomposing thoughts, but I lacked energy to give consistency to the practice. There were those ‘pitch-vanishings’ (thoughts related) and later in open space I observed tensions in the forehead, cheekbones and scalp. But I felt that nothing was happening, that this was not going anywhere, so I opted to try the whole-body breathing. As it worked fine, I focused on observing and enhancing the jhana factors (which grew very slowly).

Jan 15/2020: 90’. I was able to sleep well and I was reading quietly before meditating, very positive conditions for the session. The practice was very interesting, different from what has been happening, a mixture of EQ and DÑ (but samadhi colored). What I discovered during the session is that there are two ‘directions’ for the mind. The first (the most usual) is the one that literally goes forward (even if perceiving a large 3D spatial component). The second direction is not to go forward but to stay in the place (let it be?), as if the cornea were the front border, and expand to the sides (and also backwards). In the first case, it is as if there is a constant extra tension that you are looking for, and although if I start with a wide and calm observation, in the long run the onset of thoughts begins to accelerate (ear-plugs obviously contribute a lot to that). As much as I can deconstruct thoughts into sensations and/or see vedana and the underlying tensions, it's like a roller coaster. In the second case, the observation is relaxed and calm, and also triggers jhana factors in the arms and trunk. There are fewer underlying thoughts and tensions, and I can investigate them better.

In general, during the session there were recurring moments of dropping/gones (let-go) thoughts (the ‘pitch-vanishings’ that I mentioned yesterday). In the second modality, the underlying tensions arose stronger. A novelty is that there were more physical sensations in the chest and upper abdomen, a generally conflictive area. But there were no problems, the sensations disappeared quickly. The interesting thing is that new melodies emerged, some somewhat sad (a novel way of showing DÑ). There was no discomfort in the throat as in the last days.

Jan 16/2020: 50’. It was a practice similar to yesterday, although with few drops / vanishings. With much observation about the composition of thoughts. The correction is perhaps to make only "soft contact" with what I observe, be they physical sensations, auditory thoughts, images or sounds. It doesn't matter if it's ‘forward’, the ‘side / back’, or ‘up / down’. It is like touching slightly the observed. Another thing that was involuntarily begun to do was to observe Anatta according to Daniel's tips. Before and after session, it was a very quiet day. Little reactivity, I could see the time lag between events and emotions.

Jan 17/2020: 30’. Very tired and distracted by the launching of a work project. I tried a simple mindfulness, without great consistency.

Jan 18/2020: 60’. Typical sensations of 3C, such as shaking and some discomfort in the neck. I couldn't  speed up enough for A&P or have consistency to lean towards samatha. For 30’ it was a sleepy practice, only in the last 20’ the mind cleared up. I have to define some protocol to take advantage of the session, such as labelling or body-sweeping.

Jan 19/2020: 15’. I could only briefly practice anapasati. The novelty is that instead of investigating the quality of breathing, I observed the tensions arising in the area between the upper lip and the nostrils. Thus, the sensations ceased to be weak and volatile, and showed to be stronger, easier to stay with. It is a topic to investigate.  

RE: Pepe's Log
1/27/20 8:28 PM as a reply to Pepe.
Jan 20/2020: 50’. The method of focusing on tensions arising from anapasati works, but for now it takes me a long time to stabilize it. I find it easier choiceless awareness, but that also has a limit when in DÑ or EQ. It is a future investment, because Daniel's framework requires rapture, so that the transit through DÑ is less heavy. In addition, with the ability of the jhanas it is easier to consistently repeat the sporadic vipassana insights that I have had and thus be able to move towards SE.

Jan 21/2020: 30’+ 80’. The short session was a vipassana practice and the long one a samatha one. Actually, I tried to have the ‘flat’ focus (on the cornea) and I found on the edge of the eyelids, where the eyelashes are, a stable and very silent focus, beyond the emergence of loose thoughts and images. From there, I moved towards a more samatha practice, where I observed pleasant fragrances and pleasant heat on hands, arms and legs.

Jan 22/2020: 60’. I kept trying to put the focus on eyelids and eyelash movements, then observe breathing tensions in the nose and abdomen. The stages I went through were difficult to decipher. Little of DÑ and some Low EQ. In the last 15 ’I focused on observing the 3C of thoughts. In short, it is the method that works best for me to investigate 3C, leaving the bodily sensations as constitutive of the thoughts, or as isolated sensations of the background (they pass in front while there are no thoughts, until intentions and other subtle thoughts become more evident).

Jan 23/2020: 50’. It was a very good session! Investigating thoughts is a fruitful practice and it feels natural. From the beginning I focused on observing thoughts (and their mental impressions), intentions and the mind's movement of attention. An important observation is that when I put a lot of energy into capturing each of the arisings, then few or no thoughts arise. I suppose that this modality leads to a samatha type of practice. On the other hand, when I loosen up that energy a lot then many thoughts arise, and I can follow the thought online and more than anything detect the endings. 

Thus, the optimal vipassana is to find that balance between a zeal observation and a (very) relaxed observation. The interesting and novel thing is that finding that optimum is fun! It must be the first time in my life that I can say that meditation is fun LOL! I guess this optimum should be variable, depending on the insight stage in which one is.

On a practice level, depending on the level of energy, I can hear/notice each word of auditory thoughts, or in general thoughts I observe how images and words are interspersed. For now I do not detect well the beginnings and endings of each word and images, but the good thing is that it guides me where I should go. Several times it happened that the words had a phaser effect. A couple of times it happened that the words had a strobe effect, where the beginning and end of each word sounded much less than in the middle. Is this a sign that these phenomena arise from and disappear towards "an origin"?

In general, after mental thoughts and impressions, tensions arise between the forehead and the crown.

Jan 25/2020: 60’. I watched beginnings and endings of auditory thoughts, which had images and audio interspersed. Audio impressions  too. No phaser or strobing effects. As the level of concentration was not very high, I switched a few times to choiceless awareness, with more focus on impermanence of physical sensations. 

Jan 26/2020: 50’. An improvement I found is always to focus on the outer sides of the eyelids edge, and at the same time relax the eye cells. That is, not to change the near-far focus ‘visual’, but always close but at the same time loosening the eyes. This triggers a reduction of about half the intensity of tensions in the chest, throat and scalp. One working hypothesis is that these tensions (when not relaxed) are escalating one over another, so if one observes those small tensions arising, then it is much more difficult for annoying tensions to arise. By following the thoughts, the auditory part varies in volume and spatial centrality/closeness, to the extent that I can observe them as mental objects.

RE: Pepe's Log
1/31/20 6:44 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Jan 27/2020: 70’. It was a strange session, because on the one hand there was a great absence of thoughts, it was very calm. On the other, I was attentive to observe emotions and impulses (urges). And therefore many of them appeared LOL. There was a lot of anxiety (related to meditation), but also sadness (auditory) and anger (thoughts). In some cases, it took me a while to get out of there. Most of them, I detected them fast. The most interesting thing is that once detected, both the heavy and light ones disappeared quickly. Long ago, these strong emotions lasted a long time and could ruin a session.

Jan 28/2020: 70’. It was a very quiet session, for long periods with few or no thoughts, which were mostly related to the practice. So I sought to observe intentions and emotions, which were in greater quantity. They were not explicit emotions but more implicit (in chest and throat sensations). As happened yesterday and in other sessions, approximately 70% were dissolved during the first seconds of observation (or relaxation of sight/attention) and the remaining 30% - which no longer bothered - disappeared little by little. As a particular case, I observed a lot of impatience, like I was waiting for some thoughts to work with or to happen something else. But mostly there was tranquility. This impatience was sometimes observed at the physical level as tensions in arms, throat and scalp, and at the auditory level sometimes as melodies (neutral, neither sad nor joyful) or repetitive sounds. I did not observe impatience visually. I also observed "vertical" vibrations (through the trunk and head, rather than in the skin) that had a minimal auditory component. They may simply be vibrations related to blood flow. As there were few thoughts, I tried to observe how the attention moved around the space. I intentionally sought to relax it when attention rested for time "fixed" on an object or view. That triggered quite intense tensions, in an area that goes from the eyebrows to the crown.

Jan 29/2020: 20’+ 20’+ 40’. Just as I imagined, the use of the focus on the edges of the eyelids works for certain situations (ñanas) but not for others. In the first two short sessions, the initial clarity and stability was repeatedly lost in an intermingled flow of intentions, auditory thoughts and a few emotions. I could observe Dukkha, but not accurately Anicca. In the third (longer) session, the initial situation was the same. That's when I asked myself "why is all this mess going on?" The fact of considering it made me automatically give a panoramic look at that flow. Then, everything calmed down and I could see that flow, without precision but without aversion and restlessness. So I decided to have the widest possible look, a 360º view (noticed sensations on the sides of the skull, which I had never observed). Under that modality, I observed that while the background was clear and calm, that flow was between the background and “I”. I wondered why the flow was there. Then noticed that this flow was only part of that background, that everything (background + flow) was space (except "I", which was observing). Later, I noticed that the space also changed. As I writing this, I see that the "I" must also be part of this space, and so changes “there” are also changes “here”  ...

Jan 30/2020: 50 ’. At first I focused on observing emotions, and sad visual memories emerged, which aroused sensations in the chest. Later I advanced to observe the thoughts, looking to expand the focus to 360º. It was very difficult to keep in sync with the flow, there was a certain delay. Towards the end, it seemed more like a dream than loose thoughts.

RE: Pepe's Log
2/24/20 11:22 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Feb 17/2020: Back from holidays, where I was unable to practice, since until noon I worked and during the afternoon I shared time with my family. Anyway I could practice every now and then, mostly observe the tensions that arise when breathing, first in the nose and cheekbones and then in the belly. Even after total expiration, (neutral) tension in the abdomen continues. I observe the fluctuations of these tensions during the breathing cycle and the flow of thoughts. On the other hand, if I look more ‘from afar’ that tension, that gradually becomes pleasant sensations. It is also possible to make a vipassana-samatha mix of both observations, once both modalities are understood. In today's session (40’), in the first part I focused on the most samatha approach of this modality and in the second part, when I could already observe the flow of thoughts as not my own, I switched to the more Vipassana type approach.

Feb 18/2020: 40’. I repeated yesterday's approach. The variant I tried was that for each visual, physical, auditory or thought-intention sensation, I looked for an echo in the generalized vibration of the abdomen. It is similar to looking for tension in the head for every thought. The idea is to try variants this difficult week (due to family and work issues) to resume the pace and method next week.

Feb 22/2020: 60’. I started again with vipassana. At the beginning it was difficult to observe the beginnings of thoughts, so I focused on stabilizing the mind, observing the remaining tension through breathing or relaxation of tensions in the chest and abdomen. This resulted more in pleasant sensations in the chest (similar to satisfaction, love, etc.) and in the abdomen (non-suffocating heat). After a while, I could observe the beginnings and endings of the thoughts. There I remembered to play a little with the focus of observation: when it is more concentrated the thoughts are few, and when it is broader they are many. I think the key is the fine-tuning of this. 

Feb 23/2020: 40’. It was not a good session. I tried samatha, but it worked little. Then I tried the deconstruction of thoughts, but it was hard to stay focused, not to start daydreaming. I even tried noting out loud, but it had little traction. 


RE: Pepe's Log
3/2/20 2:51 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Feb 24/20: 60’. When I focused on the abdomen, the flow of thoughts was incessant and not easy to see the 3Cs. It had happened to me before. In the middle of the session, I put the focus on the head and there the thoughts disappeared or were totally sporadic. I even looked for the remaining tension (as I had been doing in the abdomen and chest) after the cessation of thoughts, and observed a general tension in the upper part of the skull. At some moments, the auditory thoughts had a rare vibrating sound that I had never observed before. In general, auditory thoughts have a higher pitch plus a lower volume and are spatially located somewhat further from the center.

Feb 25/ 20: 70’. This time I kept the focus on my head all the time. In the flow of thoughts I observed many more visual aspects (attached to the auditory) and little related to the physical aspects. After a while, a kind of ‘helmet’ formed with a density level of ‘tension’ different from the rest. Seen as a whole, it was quite solid. Just focusing on one part, there were physical fluctuations. I researched a little about the edges, without much success. But the cheekbones, eyes, mouth, neck were relaxed. In the ‘helmet’, no energy discharges were fired, as has happened on so many occasions. But it did happen that in the last quarter of the session, a tension grew in the crown. I tried with the 2PF of Katami, to see if by saying aloud ‘I, my, mine’ that would hardened the tension in the crown, but nothing happened.

Feb 26/20: 40’+ 40’. Just when yesterday I was wondering about the lack of energetic sensations… Just at the beginning of today's session I observed that the brow chakra was activated and shortly afterwards cold energy circulated through the skull, from the crown to the forehead. Even weirder was that before, when I woke up, I had a short sad dream, typical of past DÑ. During the session I was attentive to observe Anicca and Dukkha, especially what aspects or ‘attitudes’ (camouflaged aversion) cause me to stop observing what is happening as it is. That is, how I go from a clear and transparent observation to another cloudy one. This practice was not something premeditated. It happened that just before going to meditate, I was watching a video of Paul McCartney telling how he composed Let it Be.

In the second session, the energy flow was reversed, from the brow chakra to the crown. After I straightened the neck posture, the flow went back down. The brow chakra was quite active throughout the session. The idea was to observe it, not deconstruct it. There were no pulses or turns, but some minimal expansion / contraction, but most of all the fluctuation of their perception. The most interesting of both sessions was to observe how the thoughts related to the practice can be 90% unconscious and 10% conscious. That 90% is what obscures the clarity of perception. Sometimes it is not enough to simply see its arising & passing. To prevent the dullness from ending up covering everything, I was attentive to a point in the neck, something below the base of the skull. This ended up generating the observance of three points: the neck, plus the crown plus the brow chakra. A sort of attention triangle formed.

 Feb 27/20: 40’+ 70’. Both sessions were very similar. I was careful to keep my neck always upright and that prevented the proto-thoughts to be triggered. What happened then is that I had few elements to investigate. I observed Anicca and Dukkha in tensions, and the sensory components of thoughts. In the last 20’of the last session, I switched to a general Noting (noticing) of everything, starting from the breath and including physical sensations in the rest of the head, and thoughts. At some point in the practice I tried to observe the movement of the eyes (pupils), and this had a great concentration effect, but it did not last long. I could not continue observing that movement. It is an aspect to investigate.

Feb 28/20: 60’. I continued practicing observing the movement of the eyes, and that quickly achieves a certain level of concentration. Soon the eyes move less, so you have to loosen attention to feel subtler sensations. In this way it was a practice where the focus was on following the mind's attention. At the same time I watched the 3C in thoughts and unconscious noise.

Feb 29/20: 60’. The practice was quiet, too quiet. Few thoughts were observed. I tried to loosen the intensity of observation, so that they could emerge. Otherwise, when observing their arising, they already fade away. In one case it happened that I could observe the complete cycle of the bundle of thoughts arising, expanding to the maximum and disappearing completely. I sought to broaden the range of observation to physical sensations in the head and trunk, but everything was calm, there were hardly any energetic points on the head. Nor did it work much to observe the movements of the eyes. But I could do vipassana on the levels of clarity of the mind: even when the mind was silent (no thoughts, no proto-thoughts, just intentions), different levels of clarity could be observed. 
Mar 01/20: 40’. A practice with all the classic symptoms of DÑ: (a few) violent images that pass very fast and almost permanent flow of thoughts. But there were no obvious physical discomforts (in the throat or chest). Nevertheless, I did notice some tension in the eyes, something I had not paid attention to in past DÑ. The novelty of the whole situation was that (unconsciously) I lived it peacefully, without a big stress or the urge to find a way out at all costs. Other thing that caught my attention was that at different times of the session I observed the tranquility of the background. Therefore, I tried to expand the focus, but it didn't work out though.

RE: Pepe's Log
3/2/20 2:08 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Your practice is on fire brother emoticon Nice! Just keep at it. 
im subbing to it so to follow. 

here you say;
". The novelty of the whole situation was that (unconsciously) I lived it peacefully, without a big stress or the urge to find a way out at all costs. Other thing that caught my attention was that at different times of the session I observed the tranquility of the background. Therefore, I tried to expand the focus, but it didn't work out though"

yes, "without the urge to find a way out" is the ingredients called acceptance and just let objects to their thing even if utterly unpleasant. Nice one. 

"tried to expand the focus ... it didn't work" emoticon apply to this the "without urge" as above and instead note "desire, wanting, failure, thinking, intention, seeing, over there, who is observing, etc" 
"Trying to" and engaging with it is Dukkha. Noting the trying and noting the object of desire is Satipatthana. As Chris Marti mentioned someplace else "more Gain, more Pain" as a musician I certainly can relate to it emoticon 
"less gain, more self-less flow" Try and notice stages which are heavier (DN, 3,C's) and instead of "trying to" maybe apply a constant remembering "acceptance". I like to say "I will allow this Tsunami to crush over me no matter what" and I keep noting unpleasantness and else. Some stages especially DN are-observation have a Purification feel to it, hell-like. Fighting with "skills" will not help here I feel. Utter Acceptance and honest moment to moment noting of all arising-passings is the key to EQ.

When in EQ again try and recognize at a later stage if you can sense Boredom, a Status-Quo like feel about the EQ itself. Keep noting this quality in a relaxed way together with all the other all inclusive stuff which happens anyway. 

RE: Pepe's Log
3/2/20 6:48 AM as a reply to Papa Che Dusko.
Great advice, thank you! Utter acceptance is the way to go be, not trying to outsmart the mind. Regarding the sense of boredom, I did notice that on a few occasions when the mind was really quiet and just noticed a few physical sensations here and there and observing my mind in attention mode. "Nothing happens, now what?". As you imply, acceptance there is needed too. 

RE: Pepe's Log
3/3/20 7:32 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Ok. I wouldn't know about a mind in attention mode without much else in the 5 senses. Even in attention mode there seem to be much in the experience. It's like a pot of hot popping popcorn in here emoticon wohooo emoticon but then again I'm more into flickering noting practice than solid samadhi objects. 

even if our minds tend to have same patterns/states/stages the karmic load is so unique leading to different perceptions/perspectives/experiences. 

RE: Pepe's Log
3/11/20 8:58 AM as a reply to Pepe.
Mar 02/20: 60’. The session was strange. There were no symptoms of DÑ during the session but I did have them afterwards. During the session a lot of psychological stuff bubbled up. Not all of them had negative tone, some had a ‘hopeful’ tone. Much like yesterday, although in shorter duration, I observed tranquility in the background, while the mindstream ‘flowed’ (with high  volatility). It's not just the Shinzen Young gaps, but as a kind of double observation, center-periphery.

Mar 04/20: 40’. Memories and frustrations continued to float. I watched the flow of thoughts, but without investigating. Barely distinguishing the visual aspects of the auditory. It is a bit tiring. When some positive feeling appeared, I tried to stay there for a while. When there were few thoughts, I did a general Noting of physical sensations (whole body).

Mar 05/20: 40’. I used the breath as an anchor, which caused the center (breathing, area near the nose) to be separated from the periphery (the flow of thoughts). From time to time, the focus was strong enough to silence even the proto-thoughts. Even a Nimitta appeared, which quickly went from red to yellow and then to black, and then disappeared. Outside the session, there were symptoms of psychological / emotional purification. I lived it as something purely healing. Emotions ever present, flowing freely.

Mar 06/20: 50’. Peace and tranquility returned to the practice. From the beginning the focus went to the brow chakra, which had some vibration. No annoying sensations were observed in the chest and throat. There was a lot of silence. At times I noticed that I was waiting for something else to happen. At other times it was simply being. The tensions appeared again (more subtle) in the head, associated with intentions and some thoughts. There were also visual phenomena (probably associated with the 1st Jhana): white crescent moons (such as Kipferl croissants) leaving from the center and moving towards the background and finally forming complete circles/rings (a white border and a black center).

Mar 07/20: 20 ’+ 60’. I stopped the first session because I fell asleep twice. In the second session, the first 5 minutes there was discomfort in the throat and chest, and tension in the eyes and head. Then the discomfort disappeared, although the flow of (proto) thoughts fluctuated all the time. Associated with the flow of thoughts there was a ‘tension’ that manifested itself not at the body level but rather at the hearing level. In moments of tranquility the harmonics of the ears sound more precise and simple than when there was a flow of thoughts. There were lights, but less clear than yesterday.
Mar 08/20: 30’. It was a strange and uncomfortable practice, with lots of images (some cartoon type) and few auditory thoughts. When that happens, it is usually the other way around. At times, the space was ‘silent’ (auditory and visual). But recurrently they returned this kind of visual sequences, which more closely resembled a dream. They had no emotional components (except in one case, of fear), but rather they did their thing and disappeared.

RE: Pepe's Log
3/15/20 8:16 PM as a reply to Pepe.
Mar 09/20: 60 ’. It was the first time that I clearly observed how I went up and down through the ñanas. In this session I happened at least twice. As at some point those great gones (a la Shinzen) of great inactivity were occurred, I could observe the first signs of the restart of the stream of thoughts.

Mar 10/ 20: 40 ’. It was a short session due to lack of time, it could have lasted much longer. Just like yesterday I was able to clearly observe the sailing through the ñanas. While there was a path that ran from A&P to Low-EQ, there were several short distance ups and downs. At first I observe a mix of physical sensations and thoughts. Then, the discomfort of observing that flow of thoughts in the center and the need for a broader focus. Subsequently, I observed those (already lesser number of) thoughts and what reaction they generated: attraction, rejection or neutrality.

Mar 11/20: 30’. A short, very confusing practice with prior overdose of coronavirus information. It was difficult to concentrate.

Mar 12/ 20: 40’. Through the ñanas ladder, The Three Characteristics stood out in particular, probably because I previously did Qigong (which I had left months ago). Discomfort in abdomen, chest, clavicles and throat. Then a couple of times A&P with energy on the scalp. Subsequently, with the most stable focus, it was equally difficult to register the vedana in the physical and mental sensations.

Mar 14/ 20: 40’. Yesterday I could not practice for family reasons. Today's practice was bad, nothing worked. Beyond the current global context, Saturdays are days with little productive practices if I do not have extra time for a previous nap, due to my work dynamics. At first there were some sensations of temperature (cold), openness and vibration in the head chakras, but later it was very difficult to sustain the Noting, due to the great flow of thoughts.

Mar 15/20: 60’. It started the same as yesterday with typical sensations in the head chakras and also tensions in the area. The whole practice was an alternation between calm and clarity, and getting lost in the flow of thoughts. I tried different techniques and the one that worked best was to observe the tensions and let them relax. One thing that struck me was that the ‘light filaments’ and other lights on the eyelids could be observed continuously (in the manner of a 'do nothing' practice) as long as no thoughts arose. In that case, the focus became more 'distant' and murky.


RE: Pepe's Log
3/20/20 11:01 PM as a reply to Pepe.
March 16: 70’. A very calm session, with typical A&P energetic sensations (generated by practicing Qigong before), DÑ (emotionality, memories, physical discomfort in habitual areas) and Low-EQ (spaciousness and calm enough to observe tensions associated with intentions and subtle mental objects). I hope that once this is the ‘center of gravity’ of practice, I will be able to observe Vedana more consistently.

March 17: 60’. Very similar to yesterday's session, but with a more Metta/jhanic tone in the second half.

March 18: 50’. Another quiet session, which started with metta/gratitude/jhana, a kind of mourning in a positive tone for the death of a close person, after a long illness. In a second part, I observed tensions and the flow of thoughts. While there were no sensations, images and other typical DÑ stuff, I did observe a few gones (a la Shinzen Young) that generally occur in the DÑ/Low-EQ terrain and the quiet subsequent spatiality. Here I observed the concept of arising & passing away but on a more global spectrum, encompassing the entire flow of consciousness, the recurring cycle. On the end, I returned to a practice closer to metta / jhana and the interesting thing is that the attraction of sensations triggers an aversion disguised as a preference for neutrality. Besides, I lack patience to cultivate metta / jhana, obviously there is anxiety too. Regarding the flow of thoughts, I looked at Anatta again with more clarity (and consistency).

March 19: 60’. Before practice, I was thinking about that dislike disguised as preference of neutrality. And I was struck by Spatial's classification of the jhanas (in a recent thread). Also, something I had read about total self-giving / surrender in Christian spirituality. Then, during the session I observed that aversion again and it occurred to me to try something different, to work on Vedana. Instead of 'observing' physical and mental sensations, noticing the 3Cs and relaxing possible tensions, the new practice is to 'let yourself be absorbed' by the sensation, such as falling to the center of the sensation and 'floating' from there, and then observing Anicca and Dukkha on its periphery.

This practice (and the fact that I do 40 'of Qigong before meditating) triggers physical knots (tensions) and energy knots in the head, chest and abdomen, which have a certain duration, they don’t vanish quickly, so it make the practice easier.

March 20: 60’. I continued with what I practiced yesterday. It is especially helpful when it comes to aversive feelings. In general, I stay on (in) each sensation for about 20 seconds to 2 minutes.

I observed that basically this practice what it does is to extend to the physical and energetic sensations what was already happening with the thoughts. When observing the thoughts, they stopped and a space was opened in which I ‘floated’. Now it's a bit the same, except that I don't focus on the last thought but on the flow (thought + mental echoes + physical sensations). The result is more ‘comprehensive’. And this gave me a clue of where to observe Anatta, something I was not able to observe yesterday. The key seems to be 'attention'. This is what happens when the object is ‘detached’, when attention is extended from the center to the periphery.

As a first approximation, it is a practice that combines: (1) vipassana noticing plus observing 3Cs; (2) total immersion (surrender) in the sensation for a time way longer than usual; (3) an immersion that translates into a kind of mimicry with the sensation, which reminds me of the solutions of Zen koans; (4) a practice that imitates / resembles intermittent navigation of the jhanas, as I jump from sensation to sensation.