Pepe's Log - Discussion
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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" 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
"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.
even if our minds tend to have same patterns/states/stages the karmic load is so unique leading to different perceptions/perspectives/experiences.
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.
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.
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.
March 21: 30 ’. Practice interrupted by family issues. Many images, typical of the mind going to sleep.
March 22: 50 ’. Another practice interrupted by family issues. There were also many images (always silent). But unlike yesterday, there were initially energetic sensations triggered by previous Qigong practice.
March 24: 50 ’. It was very difficult to do what I proposed on March 20, I think it is useful only when there is a high level of concentration. So I went back to noticing thoughts and tensions, observing the 3Cs.
March 25: 50 ’. Initially there were quite a few energetic sensations on the scalp. Although I had done Qigong more than 1 hour before meditating, the cumulative effect of the practice is likely to end up coloring (forever?) the meditations. I went back to noticing thoughts, noticing in particular the stresses associated with them. An important insight is that there are tensions as long as the types of thoughts (or intentions) are somehow linked to the self. And the opposite: when the thoughts (those thoughts that ‘circulate’ alone) are not connected to the self, then no tensions are triggered. So it is an important guide to see how I discover Anatta.
Anicca is relatively easier to observe, but I have the feeling that I am not seeing with the necessary depth (or width). The same superficiality of observation occurs with Dukkha, where I have as (maximum) reference an awakening from a nap where it was observed very clearly as a intention generated an attraction, a movement towards that intention was felt.
March 26: 90’. In order to get to Access Concentration, it takes me 20’ if I choose the path of releasing tensions, but less than 1’ simply by observing the arising & passing way of thoughts. The Qigong effect gives an energetic patina to practice throughout the session. Yesterday's insight was seen more clearly: thoughts (images, auditory) and intentions do not generate subsequent tensions in the head, only very rarely were there tensions (and in a very subtle way). Instead, emotions do trigger tensions in the scalp, or discomfort in the throat.
For a few brief minutes, the EQ was very clear and stable. Then fear arose, and that destabilized the practice. Later I recovered, but never with stability.
Regarding Anicca, the focus of observation conditions the cycle of arising & passing of thoughts. Not so in the case of physical sensations, which have their ‘own’ cycle.
March 27: 50’. It was a practice similar to yesterday's (I don't remember the details) but where I focused exclusively on the beginning and end of thoughts. I did not try to relax tensions as a method of practice, but only escort those that occurred naturally.
Later, the type of phenomena was more consistent with A&P, without vibrations (except auditory) but with energy circulation. At the same time, there was a persistent strain on the crown (and sometimes before going down to the forehead). In general, it dissolved simply by putting attention there, but it soon became the maximum bodily sensation. It reminded me of when I tried 2PF. Next time I'm going to check whether relaxing the intentions allows that tension to dissolve.
Another thing I observed is a general tension in the whole head, which was possible to dissolve but only a little.
Apr 1: No practice for family reasons.
Apr 2: 60 ’. I caught a flu, without many of the symptoms compatible with coronavirus. As I was physically down, I put more focus on Metta/Gratitude. It was very relaxing. Many Christian images. Also, in connecting the energetic sensations of the head, which descend to the chest and abdomen. In the last 20 ’I was more attentive to the flow of thoughts, ‘waiting for the next thought ’but also relaxing the attention so that the non-own thoughts could flow without restriction.
Apr 3: 30 ’. Very similar to yesterday. Just to highlight that some mantras always trigger the forehead chakra.
Apr 4: 80 ’. Already a little better from the flu, the session was relaxing. I tried to apply vipassana but it worked more on the samatha side, although always activating the forehead chakra and energy.
Apr 5, 20: The flu got worse, stopped practice (resumed on Apr 9).
Apr / 07/20: -
Apr / 08/20: -
Apr 9: 60 ’. Alive & Kicking! Almost fully recovered from the flu (not coronavirus), so I was able to practice again. As it was several days without practice (although I did continue with Qigong to strengthen health), I thought I should go back to the 'classic' noting / noticing. Returning to this type of practice, I immediately observed how the mind is filtering / superimposing the sensations. And I remembered "in the seen just the seen, in the heard just the heard, in the sensed just the sensed, in the cognized just the cognized." Trying to put this into practice, on the one hand it accelerates the detection of thoughts, and in which there are no new stimuli, I feel / hear a totally different vibration, it is not 'energetic' and superficial, but deep. It is not connected with the breath.
Apr 10: 60 ’. Speed Noticing in the Six Senses, first focusing on Anicca and then Vedana. Vibrations, tensions, sleep nodding, sounds, images, sound vibration (8hz). Very few words, almost none. A couple of times, the spatiality was generated by the passing away of a thought or (high pitch) sound. The last time, for getting tired of so much body jumping from sensation to sensation, and taking a broader observation. I maintained high speed for the entire hour. I missed the calm quality of previous practices, although at times it could be seen as a background.
Apr 11: 60 ’. I kept up the speed for most of the practice. The Stage The Three Characteristics was more recognizable by the involuntary movements, but little and no vibration (except the auditory) and no energy circulating. What was striking was seeing a very sharp and precise image of my (current) face. Towards the end, I slowed down from noticing to standard noting, labelling emotions, intentions, thoughts or anything other than primary physical sensations.
Apr 12: 80 ’. Within a few minutes of starting there was a pixelization of the white-gray-black cloud in front of the eyes. Then there were 3-4 complete images of faces. Later (30’ approx.) and for the rest of the practice only vibrations at 8-10 Hz but in a very soft mode, throughout the body. Only once did I manage to detect something similar to an energetic sensation, since I wanted to check if it was in A&P or Low-EQ. Apparently, as I continued with the QiGong in the days when I stopped meditation for health reasons, it seems that it indirectly maintained the energy level and (along with Noticing All) allowed to return to Low-EQ. Something to check out in the next sessions. Yes there were pleasant sensations in the legs and, moreover, a practice without significant setbacks. The MCTB2 points out that in Low-EQ the 3Cs must be investigated in the sensations of peace, and spatial amplitude.
Apr 14: 40’. Almost nothing worked today. Mental exhaustion. The QiGong practice even worked halfway.
Apr 15: 60’. A very good practice, where perhaps because of a less quantity of thoughts, a key insight emerged. As the hands are one on top of the other, at a certain point, there were only physical sensations in the "external" hand. I looked for whether there was any sensation in the contact between both hands, but there was none. I did not find any, when I usually find sensations anywhere in the body if I put the focus there. Hence, the mental leap is that as long as there are no sensations, that part of the body does not exist. I assume it exists, extrapolating past sensations, but in the present there is none. What I observed in the hands, later I extended it to different parts of the body (legs, parts of the head, back) and the result was the same. It is very likely that some of this I had already read it years ago, but had completely forgotten. An interesting point I read in Seeing That Frees (Rob Burbea) is the need to reiterate these little / big insights every day / week / month as necessary until the mind takes it by default. The insight reminded me of the practice of Vanishings and Shinzen Young's Figure Ground Reversal, a topic I was talking about in a thread in DhO.
Apr 16: 60’. Progression 3C-A&P-DÑ-A&P-DÑ-EQ-DÑ-EQ. Most striking was that many of the typical DÑ elements (images, colors, proliferation of auditory thoughts) were observed with some tranquility. I did not feel the usual frustration and even looked a bit at the content of these thoughts to see what was emerging from the unconscious. At the end of the session, there was more physical and mental silence, but there was not enough time to practice what was observed yesterday.
Apr 17: 70’. In the first part of the practice I did 6SD & 3C throughout the body, with more emphasis on the physical senses and less on the mind. It is difficult to find the balance between intensity and tranquility, because in general I am more at the extremes than in the middle. In the second part, I tried to observe the empty spaces, which are the physical opposite of the place where I observed some physical sensation. It is similar to what Shinzen Young teaches, who says that if there is any arising in one part of the body, then there is always vanishing in another part. It is also similar to Daniel Ingram's Speed Noting, observing the sensations in front and behind the head, knowing that there can only be one sensation at a time. The main difference is that in addition to focusing on the opposite (where sensations are not observed), I observe an entire area (I explore how large that gap is) instead of a point.
Apr 18: 80’. In the first 20 ’ I did Speed Noting (Noticing) all over my body. In the rest of the time I did the Noting of the vanishings and empty spaces, in all parts of the body. On the head it is easier on the sides, eyes, under the jaw. It is very difficult on the crown and inside the skull. Practice works. It gets interesting. Now I have to observe Anicca and Dukkha in the empty spaces: the fluctuation of the edges, and the comparative vedana between the empty and the ‘full’. The Anatta for now is to observe how those gaps collide with the internal map that one has of the structure / distribution of the body. While I always look at one gap at a time (variable in size), I can make a mapping of the gaps (I use the memory of these gaps) and contrast it with the body map.
Apr 19: 70’. This time I started with the Noting of the vanishings and empty spaces and I observed very clearly the passage between two ñanas: Mind & Body (because the most visible vanishings are with the breath) and DÑ. The intermediate ñanas are completely avoided and it quickly leads to Dark Night, from which it is quite difficult to emerge towards EQ, due to the dynamics of this practice. (Shinzen Young cautions that this type of practice leads some yogis to fall into DÑ). Saw that if the observation is focused on the vanishings of the breath (something inevitable by what I mentioned before), during the in-breath a flow of protos-thoughts is triggered. If on the contrary in-breath is observed, thoughts arise in the gap between out-breath and in-breath. It’s possible to skip some vanishings and note them every other out-breaths or the like, but that requires detecting in the meantime vanishings in the visual, auditory, somatic, which is not so easy to achieve.
Hypothesis: The progression in ‘noting vanishings’ is: Noting passings, then Noting “unknown events” in A&P, DÑ and EQ, and finally have [(un)be] a Cessation. I think it is not convenient to practice this method before being in Mid-EQ, since it requires a high level of mental clarity, concentration and equanimity abilities (as defined by Shinzen Young), and that can only be 'guaranteed' back then. Maybe it is useful to speed up the final steps to Stream Entry.
Of course I talk about pre-SE EQ so if you are walking 2nd path ignore what I wrote above as I'm not there yet.
I'm just a beginner trying to have a solid foot in EQ. My fault if my words make me look wiser than what I actually am LOL. Just happened to had a taste in different practices in the past, when health, work and family conditions weren't the appropiate ones for a consistent practice. Little experiental insights here and there, plus some intelectual references as I read many dharma authors.
Regarding speed-up in Mid/High EQ, I meant seeing the gaps between frames (images), between words/syllabels, between out-breath and in-breath, the space between da-da-da-da in vibrations, the void scattered throughout the body. It's something specially pointed by Shinzen Young, but mentioned too by Daniel Ingram and Shargol. For example, Shinzen says that the 'Figure Ground Reversal' ( = SE + qualities of 2nd and 3rd Path) is more likely to happen if you're observing simultaneously fast abrupt vanishings in visual, auditory and somatic phenomena.
"For example, Shinzen says that the 'Figure Ground Reversal' ( = SE + qualities of 2nd and 3rd Path) is more likely to happen if you're observing simultaneously fast abrupt vanishings in visual, auditory and somatic phenomena. "
April 21: 50’. The practice was not very productive. I quickly went through A&P (vibrations in the base of the back, energy points in the head) and DÑ (discomfort in the throat, constant flow of thoughts) and always had a hard time stabilizing the mind. I tried to observe the beginning of the thoughts, it did not work. I tried a mantra, and it barely worked. I tried observing the space and the gaps in the body, and it worked a little better. I tried to fill the gaps with thoughts and something worked. None of this makes much sense ...
April 22: 75’. Because of what happened today, I think yesterday was not really a bad practice, it was an unexpected situation. A similar situation occurred today. The difference is that there was a background calm always present, but thoughts and feelings that had their own dynamics. This time what I tried was to join that “flow”. But although it was possible to observe the gaps between the end and another beginning of physical sensations, it was not possible for the thoughts. A higher level of concentration is missing for this.
At the beginning of the practice there was a situation that is very common to occur, only this time I observed it with some theory under my arm. When closing the eyes, for the first 1-2 minutes it happens that the sight (eyes closed) sees a space (semi-luminous) but that there is no effort to see, just as there is (never) an effort to hear. Unlike other times, I did not try to modify this situation (nor force a concentration nor try to do vipassana) but only to be. By simply being there, this generates only a higher level of concentration. But it was short-lived, because a mixture of fear and anxiety ruined the opportunity. Then the lower dantian was always on / hot. While I could have focused there, deep down I used most of the session to explore options: (1) samatha / jhana; (2) simple mindfulness of physical sensations; (3) flow of thoughts; (4) observe the gaps in the body (this generally shoots energy into the head).
April 23: 60’. This time I was attentive from the beginning to what happens to the eyes. From the start, what I did was let the ‘images’ (the darkness with some lights) come / enter the eyes, instead of ‘going out’ to observe. It is an attitude of acceptance, trying not to force the perception, not doing anything as it happens with the sounds, which simply arrive. There in the eyes I observed the recurring (sometimes almost constant) push-pull of the observation. How attention seeks to 'grab' the observed object, an insight that I observed weeks ago with great clarity but it was a unique experience. This time there was less concentration (less wow factor) but it happened many times during practice. This push-pull of attention is different from vedana (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), it is as if it were a previous step (check Dependent Origination). One conclusion is that this grasping can include not only physical sensations, emotions and thoughts, but also more subtle things like 'space'. There is a recurring drive to grab hold of space, or of post-thought silences. So the idea is to test if the ‘acceptance’ modifies this modality. I am left wondering if that ‘holding’ is not useful in certain situations, like when practicing 1st jhana.
April 24: 60’. I continued doing this practice. After the first 3-5 minutes of great clarity, I lost it and spent 20 minutes in DÑ. Then the symptoms disappeared very quickly and the rest was EQ. Practicing acceptance / reception as the first focus and vipassana as the second focus makes me have very few thoughts. The concentration is not high, but there is equanimity and clarity / precision in the noticing of the phenomena. This equanimity is like standing on the border between the observer and the observed phenomena. And to stand on the border you have to physically recognize the sensations that are not greed or aversion (working hypothesis).
A method that I improvised at the time helped me a lot to find that point. Loch Kelly mentions that awareness is as effortless as hearing: sounds come, they must only be received. (Shargrol also talks about how awareness is effortless, and which is a key issue in EQ.) This of auditory perception reminded me of my Taijiquan practice, where one practices ting-jing: the ability to 'hear' the own and opponent's imbalances and tensions. So the practice consists of: (1) receiving the phenomena, seeing how the objects ‘come’ towards me, instead of ‘going out looking for them’ with the eyes (the classic exercise of self-inquiry); (2) loosen the entire surface of the body (in parts), which makes the border between the external and internal somewhat variable (which can be done vipassana) and that triggers energy flow; (3) act as if I have 'ears' where I have eyes.
Now I see that a practice I did a couple of weeks ago was going in the same direction, in which I stretched the vision of each eye to cover 180 degrees of vision, but loosening the center. This generated a similar sensation, but there was some tension in expanding peripheral vision. And it was a visual only practice, it did not allow to feel that greed-aversion border in the somatic sensations.
April 25: 70’. I continued with the same practice. This time it did not work so well. I noticed that I was leaning too far toward the reception, and ceasing to observe the spatial. With this fix, it worked better. Another thing I observed was a higher number of abrupt vanishings (Shinzen’s Gone). Unfortunately I was not attentive to labeling these vanishings, whether they were auditory, visual or somatic.
April 26: 45 ’+ 45’. In the first practice I tried to focus on acceptance with choiceless awareness. It was a poor practice in the sense of vipassana, because I constantly lost myself in the content. But to stand out, I counted 8-9 abrupt vanishings. Also, that there were long periods of DÑ (memories and fantasies of modifying the past) and there the acceptance was a healer.
In the second practice I left acceptance in the background (as an add-on) and focused on 6S + 3C. There I quickly reached EQ, where I went to observe the mindstream. In particular, the beginnings and ends of thoughts. From time to time, there was little to observe. This second practice was much calmer.
oh I like this! I just tried it a bit with open eyes and it seems very EQ inviting Nice one! Will use that one tomorrow in my practice and see what it does.
It reminds me of Zen gazing with that wise-guy smile on the face
I am falling into Jhana as of late without really wanting to as I would much rather prefer to plow throgh conscioucness with full on Noting. But as Jhanas are hapening anyway its good to have some stuff to do with them and this could be one such thing.
Still not sure what to do with this Experience? What is there to be seen? What is the insight behind it? Or is it just about getting faster into EQ? Im certainly not interested in gaining some wow experiences. Been there done that nothing to cling to.
It's about the Watcher. But first the job is to blur the somatic distinction of inside and outside (point 2 above) and assist that visually (the ear/eyes thing, point 3). Eventually, the sense of observer can slide along your vertical axis or even go out into space. I spontaneously have had these kind of experiences in a Taijiquan context, but no theoretical background to make sense out of it nor instructions on how to proceed from there.
Check Shargrol's posts: Vision Field and Identification and Inquiries on the Observer. Here I am proudly making use of his compilation
Here is one good one from your friend shargrol ;
Not enough honesty, not enough investigation, not enough acceptance. Meditation basically has three aspects: an honest experience of one's condition and balancing the effort/investigation and the relaxation/acceptance of that condition.
Not enough honesty and it becomes fantasy/spiritual bypassing.
Not enough investigation and it becomes indulgent daydreaming.
Not enough acceptance and it becomes aversive manipulation"
April 27: 60’. In the first part of the practice, I only observed the mindstream. At first there were memories and understandings of past things. Soon annoying sensations in the throat and neck were gone. When Compassion / Metta emerged there were (neutral) vibrations slightly to the right of the center line, at chest height (the tension knots used to be always in the center of the line). There were too (vague) visualizations of Christian images, which have been occurring in almost all meditations in the last month, where the precision of the image, colors, spatial distance, position of the eyes and mouth are related to my inner (changing) feeling about the 7 sins and the 7 virtues.
Looking at the mindstream, I noticed that sometimes proto-thoughts (or the echoes of thoughts) flow literally like a fluid (eg cigarette smoke, water from a stream) but have a non-melodic but flourishing 'sound' (like histrionic american soul singers). Sometimes I can "ride" that flow-sound. Other times what I did was focus on the auditory thoughts of that mindstream. There is clearly the arising and passing away. They are like two modalities: analog and digital.
The funny thing about all this is that ‘riding the flow’ becomes tedious at one point, “I want to get off”, “I got tired of this”. I intuit the insight of this, but that does not mean that I want to step down LOL. The consequence of this is to long for the digital modality, where there are breaks (auditory, spatial amplitude). But there I observe as a second insight that this spatiality-silence is perhaps not something transcendent that was there only be discovered, but perhaps it is a ‘fabrication’. Where this leads to, I think is above my paygrade as for now.
I suppose that it is good for practice to alternate between these two modalities, and that both are valid both at a practical level and at an insight level (unless someone comes with neither / nor… etc).
April 28: 45 ’+ 30’. I continued practice yesterday. The novelty is that the flow of thoughts and the calm peripheral space/container (eg TMI) can be observed at the same time. It was a practice where at times there was little to observe, at other times a well tangled flow.
April 29: 60’. It was a practice that alternated between a lot of calm and a flow of thoughts that at times made me lose myself in the content. At the beginning there were vibrations at the base of the back, then a drop of cold energy through the scalp, pixelation of an image (afterwards the pixels of the 'background' were swept away and only those of the 'front' remained, kind of 3D or layered 2D), later several abrupt vanishings, then some sad images and melodies, then more abrupt vanishings and later very calm (with alternating flow of thoughts). Out of nowhere I had a jolt, like a strong shock of tension when the body goes to sleep but the mind is still attentive, and logically I was more attentive, very calmly.
At times I tried to extend attention to the periphery, because I was concerned that this tranquility was dullness. A curious thing that arose out of chance is breathing from the sphenoids (following the line of the eyebrows), as if I had small lungs that inflated outside. Strangely this generated relaxation and a mental smile (similar to that of smiling with the eyes, but this time not using the eyes, hence the relaxation I suppose) that led me to a pre jhana state.
During the day I had been testing the eyes as if they were ears.
April 30: 60’. It was a similar practice to yesterday. I don't remember the details. The interesting insight was realizing I had equanimity with Equanimity (Now that I remember, Papa Che Dusko pointed me out just that days ago!). That I'm trying to grab/hold on to Equanimity instead of floating or seeing its symptoms with some perspective. Deep down, I see it's finding balance even in something as ethereal as being fair with EQ.
May 01: 75’. It was another practice similar to recent ones. At times very calm, with few thoughts or evident physical sensations that emerged (if I focus on looking for them, I find them). At other times, a confused stream of thoughts but that I can observe without falling. There were no typical A&P elements, but there were DÑ and EQ elements.
In the last practices verbalized questions arose, which is strange because affirmations or answers (without apparent questions) usually appear from time to time. Now these questions appear, like I'm a self-inquiry teacher or a Zen master hahaha. Today instead, I did ask the 'ether' (unconscious) a question: "What is hindering the practice?" After a while, the statement emerged: "fear of others." Food for thought.
During practice I tried to observe if the thoughts / images / memories triggered any physical sensation in the head, but very few arise. This has been happening in recent weeks. Perhaps is it that the type of more choppy thoughts that I observe now do not create challenges to the built Self? At the end of the practice I tried the reverse way: put more focus on the physical sensations and see if this triggers thoughts / views / urges.
May 2: 30’. The first half of practice was observing Dukkha (greed and aversion) over 6S. The second half, anapanasati.
May 04: 60’. First focus was on space and access concentration. Then anapana for 5-10 breaths and then vipassana in 6S with focus alternating between Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta depending on the type of phenomenon I was observing. As in previous sittings, there was alternation between silence / spatiality and flow of thoughts, but less intense than at other times. There were observations on "fear" but without a big or lengthy emotional reaction. In a few moments, it was observed and receded significantly. There were more strains on the head at specific points related to chakras, but no discharge of energy flow. There were also no jhana factors. I noticed that when the phenomenological scene is calm, part of the time I spend thinking about what I am not observing, what insight I am not seeing. When the practice ends, I see that I want to continue, since the sessions are bearable. I feel the need to extend the practice to 90 minutes, but for reasons of family logistics, I am more likely to be able to split it into two 45-minute ones.
May 05: 20’. I slept only 5 hours so it was impossible for me to practice vipassana. I practiced a little anapana.
May 06: 60’. A very quiet practice. In the first 20’ I did anapana, where I used vipassana as a tool to stabilize and deepen attention. The point is to observe what are the captivating sensations, which today were on the outer edge of the nose and part of the upper lip, and later on the lower belly. It takes some time to gain deeper concentration, but it happened.
In the last 40' I have focused on 6S + 3C. As recently happened, if I put enough focus/energy 6S phenomena appear, otherwise they emerge much less, and what is observed is the spatiality and some of its qualities. At some point I became convinced that there is no point in implicitly 'forcing' the 6S but to focus on spatiality. The insight of the day was that there is a quality of 'continuity' (in the sense of continuous vs. discrete) of that spatiality, and that that spatiality and awareness are closely connected. This continuity is easily observed in the gap of the outbreath-inbreath, in the silences after abrupt vanishings or when I put visual focus (with eyes closed) at some distant point.
As a closely related topic, there is the equanimity of Equanimity, because the idea of ‘captivating sensations’ that I used in anapana, I now use it for this spatiality / equanimity. A quality that captivates is precisely that ‘continuity’.
Although this equanimity seems to have partially an ‘artificial’ cause, precisely because it arises from the ‘captivity’ of the qualities and not due to the disappearance of others. The riddle is whether Equanimity is a construction/fabrication or if it is something transcendent.
Another observed point is that greed and aversion are not two opposing forces, but sometimes an aversion to one sense door triggers greed to another sense door (or to another quality of the same sense door). As aversion is a particular topic of mine to investigate, this yin-yang type dynamic is a topic to follow closely in the future.
May 07: 60’. In the first 20 ’anapana + vipassana to find the captivating elements. Pleasant heat in the arms, legs and abdomen, smell of roses (intermittently) and also in some moments of spontaneous smile, drop of "cold" energy from the scalp to the forehead. In the next 40’ I refocused the practice towards vipassana on 6S + 3C, but it was somehow colored by the pre-jhana elements of the previous 20’. There was not as much concentration as yesterday, although sometimes I observed that "continuity" in the silences and spatiality (also the continuity in the observation of the pleasant heat in the body).
May 08: 60’. The original plan was to do the first 20 ’anapana + vipassana to find the captivating elements. But from the first minute (as in other sits) there is absolute silence and ease of observing / sticking to the void / spatiality (more 2D than 3D). This is gradually being lost in about 10'. In the following 10'-15' I return to the anapana + vipassana. The plan for the rest of the practice was vipassana, alternating as object of observation between physical sensations and thoughts. In this section I have been observing patterns in the contents of thoughts (images), which derive from needs to enhance/reinforce the ego. The difference this time is that one of the thoughts (with image) was a farewell to a friend, a farewell that was not experienced as suffering, but as an acceptance of something inevitable. In other words, there are contents that are not reinforcement of the ego, but acceptance of losses. During this section I also had the ability to observe again auditory thoughts in 'analog' format (more like a fluid) and in 'digital' format (with gaps between the words). And when concentration intensified, sounds emerged from inside the body (not ears tones) that have a very fast on-off (ta-ta-ta-ta ...).
At some point in this second section I noticed that I was having trouble positioning myself on spatiality and that I was making too much effort, both for this and for observing the mindstream. There I remembered about finding the balance between samatha and vipassana, and released all effort. In an instant, spatiality returned, and with a certain luminosity. And it was very quiet. I posed the observation there. The insight (important, I guess!) of the practice was to observe a steadiness / regularity in the link between the observer (me) and the observed (spatiality). Days before, I had observed a suspicious "continuity" in spatiality. Today that quality was not in the observed (spatiality) but in the act of observing (spatiality). And since I was constantly observing the act of observing, the insight is that was ‘watching the watcher’. What startled me is that ‘watching the watcher’ is ill defined, that rather is something like ‘watching the qualities of the observing watcher’.
Soak in jhana, soak in spatiality, soak in feelings of continuity. Your mind will probably want to "do something" but notice this is a very subtle aversion and a very subtle fear of giving up control. It can be helpful to "let jhana do the meditation"
Similarly, it's okay and good to be curious and investigate with more of a vipassina mind, but try to do it with about 10% of "you directing the attention" and about 90% of "noticing how attention directs itself". Your vipassinizing mind is well developed by this stage.
As you can see, what you are developing is trust and faith (or, conversely, lack of fear about letting go/having no control). It feels odd after doing so much intentional practice to get here, but there comes a time when you just have to go for the ride. Like riding a horse in nearly complete darkness: the horse with it's big eyes can see in near darkness by the light of the stars and you can't, so you just have to focus on staying balanced in the saddle and trust the horse.
Just like us, the mind likes to look at itself in the mirror So it will naturally get curious about how it hears the hearing, sees the seeing, and watches the watcher.
When auditory thoughts go ta-ta-ta, be very gently curious about not only the "ta" but also the gap between "ta". You can use ta-ta-ta as almost a mantra, just listen to it and allow your mind to join with it.
Most of all, enjoy this very odd stage! How many humans get to experience this stuff in their lives? Statistically, almost none. What an adventure!
May 09: 70’. Most of the situations experienced yesterday reappeared today, but since the slogan was to take the hands off the wheel and let things unfold with minimal personal intervention, those situations were very volatile. In one moment I observed the continuity / steadiness of the spatial, and in the next moment the mindstream overflowed. Then I watched a flow of thoughts grow in the background until it escalated to a point where it leaped into the foreground and at that very moment disappeared completely, leaving a total silence and again a continuity. At other times that steadiness / regularity emerged from hearing the act of hearing. This did not happen with the visual sense, only the auditory. And throughout the practice the pleasant heat in the legs and lower abdomen came and went, although at the end of the practice it was more recurrent and even the heat became too intense and no longer pleasant (although interesting for observation). In this issue of heat, the Cause & Effect connection was very clear.
May 10: 50’. At first I focused on the captivating sensations of breathing and spatiality. I let myself be carried away by the pleasant sensations in my legs and abdomen (and something in my face). This worked intermittently. I would immediately watch as the mind turned attention elsewhere, or triggered thoughts (especially analysis of practice). It loosened again and with a minimum of attention, the pleasant sensations reappeared. The positive is that not only do they return quickly but I also 'intuit' them through other neutral sensations or signs of continuity / inertia (physical / mental).
Later, sound vibrations arose at the base of the back, and then in the head. There I tried to get on the wave of vibration, repeating ta-ta-ta and observing the mini-gaps. I made a lot of 'anticipation' notes. At one point the focus on this became intense enough and there were two consecutive instants of rapid "eye closing" (which were already closed) and something like a minimal push forward. And the concentration intensified more for a time, then it was lost. No cessation, of course. My hypothesis is that, in the absence of base concentration, the mind was heading towards an A & P-like event.
May 11: 70’. There was no momentum of the pleasurable sensations towards the jhana factors. And while a general vibration emerged throughout the body and a deep sound, it did not grow over time either, but rather remained in the background. Yet there were some brief moments of ‘continuity’, but more associated with the 6S. What I did was take the hands off the wheel, follow the horse metaphor, and remain an observer. The insight of the day is that in order to continue riding without the attention being cut off or scattered, it is key that the analysis thoughts about what is happening are reduced to almost zero. It is so deep inside my mental gear to analyze what is observed that I see how I constantly muddy what I observe. It's like a constant on-off between hooking /watching and then unhooking/analyzing. When from time to time I finally get out of the way, a more subtle vipassana occurs: “seeing + observing how I see”, “hearing + observing how I hear”. It is in these moments where this continuity appears, which links these two things. Under this modality, "observing how I think" is not clear from the point of view of experience, beyond that I suppose that it is on the side of observing how the act of vipassana occurs.
The challenging thing is that the horse bucks,and jumps from one direction to the other constantly. So I have a long time to entertain myself ;) .
At some moments I observed the arising & passing of objects (phenomena) in a much clearer way than what had happened to me until now.
May 12: 60’. I usually do before sitting about 40 'of Qigong, and there I already notice what is my energetic, emotional and clarity state in the perception of physical sensations. And what was observed there was a preview of what happened next. It took 30 ’to get to EQ. It is difficult to follow the "awareness trail", the sequence in which the mind jumps from one sense door to another. There are jumps, etc. There I remembered some theory: greed, aversion, indifference must be 'sabotaging' awareness. So I searched to see when they appeared and why. The interesting thing is that both greed and aversion do what is expected of them, but indifference is the great saboteur, because when the mind fails to "draw a pattern" from what it observes, it discards it. And that's when awareness jumps to another sense door.
Strange noises in the right temporal.
May 13: 60’. It was a practice where the first 40 ’were of greater concentration. Unlike the previous two days, this time I was able to sleep 7 hours. The rest factor is key for me, since due to my work schedules I can't sleep 5 hours straight. I observed spatiality, a great mental silence and the on-off of a low vibration (in the head) and with a ta-ta-ta also low. It never occupied the entire space, as it did on May 10. I tried to observe the greed-aversion-indifference, but it was not as effective as yesterday, perhaps because there were fewer thoughts and emotions circulating. But I could see the aversion in attention to staying focused on some element, even when the element was calm, neutral, or pleasant. In the last 20’ the concentration was lost a little. There were times when the attention from the vibration shifted to the third eye, where I stayed for a while.
Tensions in the eye sockets are always an attempt to force something or grab something. There is a smart move to "turn" the eyes into ears, and to a lesser degree "lengthen" the eye cavities towards the center of the head. Also, since I use earplugs - since my street is very noisy - any facial tension is magnified and the pulse in the ears begins to beat, so it is a quick alert that makes me regain attention and calm.
May 14: 70’. Choiceless awareness does not work from the start, I must first set a minimum of concentration /centering. In part, I did this by looking at the post-breath gap, which generates a certain ‘continuity’ of the observation I spoke about earlier. The other part of the solution was to re-observe the mindflow, without a vedana analysis, but only the arising & passing away. The mindstream is mostly auditory (few images) and is generally triggered by specific points in the breathing cycle. In the middle of the out-breath thoughts arise, and at some (variable) moment of the in-breath, and quite a bit in the gap out / in-breath.
The insight of the day is that these thoughts not only do not trigger new thoughts, nor do they generate disgust reactions as those thoughts are observed by their constituent components. Simply put, if an auditory thought is heard as a melody of words, or as loose, concatenated words, then the observer does not identify with what is observed, he lets it pass. This also generates a higher level of concentration.
This insight arose because before I had read before an hypothesis of Steph S in his log, where he stated that each sense door has its awareness system built-in, and therefore Awareness is only a combo of these subsystems (something implicit within Culadasa's TMI) . This triggered the question of whether thoughts (the 6th sense door) have their own system of awareness, which would end in a recursive loop. The experiential conclusion was that thoughts are a bundle of the other 5 sense doors. Thoughts cannot be self-perceived, but only through physical sensations.
May 15: 60’. These thoughts that arise as loose words (sounds) also arise (trigger) later images, which last a minimum fraction of a second. Today's practice had an unusual situation, as a series of images, thoughts and physical sensations typical of DN happened, but this was observed without affecting or hooking me. As if DN floated past EQ. It’s something similar I felt in the days following May 10th, as if A&P occurred content within EQ. An hypothesis is that after an 'unknown event' (which had elements of A&P), I returned to transit A&P and DN but contained within EQ (or conversely, not within EQ, but with a significant patina of equanimity).
May 16: 60’. From a strong DN to an ‘unknown event’ all in the same session !! An hour before meditating I took acetaminophen (paracetamol) to ease a headache. And just before meditating I had the bad idea of not skipping the Qigong practice, which immediately woke up a knot in the pit of my stomach, which bothered me during the first 30' of the session. These first 30’ were complicated, with constant “pain” in that area, an exuberant mindstream and a pulse in the ears. At some point I observed that it is the analytical mind that generated this proliferation of thoughts, and not the emotions (beyond the knot in the stomach). So the move was to cut whenever analytical thoughts appeared. Before long, the mind calmed down and was preponderantly observing single thoughts (single words). Even so, I did not feel comfortable with this situation and I focused on spatiality (which had just emerged) and with this procedure, these individual words went increasingly spread over time. This triggered greater degrees of concentration. At the same time a general vibration was felt again and soon after a kind of sound / vibration in the center. I refocused my attention on this, with a certain degree of intensity. At one point, attention shifted to the other side and a "brief drop" was triggered (with a kind of reverse delay sound/sensation). I came back instantly. For a moment there was spatiality, but then the analytical mind jumped to the front, to understand what had happened. There was nothing special after this. Then I tried to repeat this sequence a couple of times, but there was too much "anticipation" in my mind to resume the practice.
May 17: 80’. This time I avoided doing Qigong before meditating, to check if this practiced was the trigger of DN elements. During meditation there were no typical DN physical sensations, emotions, or thoughts. At first I did observe some unpleasant sensations in the pit of my stomach, but more as if it were ‘transparent’, which did not hinder mentally descending (scanning mode) to the lower belly.
It took about 15-20' to stabilize the mind. Then I focused in detecting actions / intentions in order to analyze the mindstream. In general, this happened when the thoughts were already flowing, not in the beginning. Mindstream is a mix of auditory thoughts and images. There were three varieties. The first variety is "words of analysis”. Even when "I" stopped analyzing the mindstream that had occurred, these loose words began to emerge, trying to form sentences to analyze what had already happened. It is as if a sub-mind (TMI) continues to function, sending information, but which is no longer integrated into the self, but seen as mental objects. The second variety is "ego reinforcement," a string of words that mostly didn't make sense, but which sounded (in the auditory sense) as if it were an assertive speech, like a speaker trying to convince the audience. The third variety arose in response to a parenthesis in practice, where I practiced metta towards all the 6S observed, and thus practice acceptance indirectly. When doing metta, moments with an emotional tone emerged, and even a phrase: “I am afraid”.
During these 60', moments of silence / spatiality alternated with moments of thought. As happened in the past days, when the moments of silence were longer, I was able to stabilize the mind from time to time, and that generated a general vibration (especially in the head).
Observing those 3 varieties of mindstream, the forehead chakra was activated several times.
May 18: 60’. I didn't do Qigong before the session today either. Once in the session, after the first 5' of calm and spaciality, little else worked during practice. After trying different tactics, I achieved a minimum of mental stability by concentrating on the inner vibration, using ta-ta-ta-ta as a mantra. I could not observe this flow of individual words without the analytical mind immediately jumping to create more thoughts from what was observed, especially if the initial object was a thought. In a couple of cases, the initial aversion reaction was clear. There was one interesting thing in the session: relax(ing) the eye cavities, focusing on the base (the bottom). This allows more relaxation than trying to stretch back. At some point of increased relaxation, it fired pyrotechnics into the forehead chakra, accounting for the level of tension built up there.
May 19: 80’. Practice was quiet again. The variety of ‘loose words’ were those mentioned before: analysis and a variant of ego reinforcement (picture gesturing an expansive southern Italian). A funny novelty is that this time there were attempts at emotional ‘expressions’
This time it was difficult to connect with the general vibration that I mentioned in the past few days. My hypothesis is that this is a consequence of the lack of Qigong practice. Qigong brings octane to practice, but it is counterproductive if one is having a strong emotional moment. You have to know how to use the correct dose.
With regard to concentration, the theoretical assumption with which I had been managing (and experimenting) is that when less greed-aversion is experienced, concentration grew organically. But today, that did not work and I forced my concentration a little, focusing on the spatial or closely following the breath. In both cases it worked, at least for a while. The conclusion is that a dynamic balance between both extremes must be found (moment by moment).
May 20: 80’. I went back to practicing Qigong prior to meditation. It was another quiet session but with a different phenomenological
May 21: 40’ + 60’. The different phenomenological scenario that I mentioned yesterday, today deepened. It is not entirely clear, but it opens up new perspectives. In the first sitting it was very difficult to meditate, I felt that whatever method I tried, it was all confusion. As there was also a lot of noise at home, I chose to stop and try later. In the second sitting, the same thing happened at first but I realized that I was wrongly looking at what was happening. On the one hand, I expected ‘loose words’ to come up like in previous days, but that did not happen, I only listened to formed thoughts (generally of analysis), which came from me. The ‘tip of the (wool) ball’ (‘tip of the iceberg’ is the closest phrase in English) is that those ‘loose emotions’ that I mentioned in the last few days did appear, and in a clearer way. Those Italian type expressions / exclamations (like Heyyy, Ahh, Ohh, Wooow, but no sound) now had no words attached, but were physical sensations of being sliding, like going down a slide (or spreading paté on bread) ... Then I also started to observe very brief 'loose images', which also did not have an attached story (nor did they fire words). There I understood that this phenomenological scenario was more subtle, or at least prior to thinking in an auditory (words) format. This may be the explanation for why there was an abrupt drop in ‘loose words' (even though there were still chained thoughts from time to time, words that did come from me). The
From time to time I asked during meditation "What is the next thought?" and I waited for it. This generally triggered (post-silence and first thought) loose words. Today they did not appear, but elements prior to them, in an expressive or emotional format. The next step was to ask "What is before thought?" (
May 22: 70’. The practice went from high to low. The loose words of analysis proliferated, while the emotional expressions ones did not appear. I guess that for the emotional ones to appear, the analysis ones must descend. I took advantage of the practice at different times to try other things. The interesting thing about the day was connecting elements of Direct-Pointing / Self-Inquiry with the ‘continuity’ that I mentioned in the last few weeks. The general rule is to work in receptivity, seeing how attention moves from one object to another. The first step was the usual one, observing spatiality and general silence. The second step is to add to the above by observing how attention falls on that spatiality, that is, observing the observer. The third step was to remember the ‘Headless Pointing Experiment’ and abandon these previous two steps, observing how spatiality comes towards the observer. Since the connection with spatiality was already established for this third step, this receptive observation (instead of fixing the attention 'outside') was natural and even had a certain degree of deepening of concentration. And it was precisely in this receptive attention to spatiality that this ‘continuity’ that I had been talking about emerged. A continuity in which the boundaries between the observer and the observed are merged.
May 23: 50’. It was not a good practice. Obviously I am making too much effort in attention or in vipassana, because there is no flow of loose words or images,
May 24: 70’. This time I reduced "95%" of the attention control, letting the mind jump from one object to another. There was less strain on the eyes and scalp. From the beginning there was a brief (and pale) tour of A&P (with energy bubbling through the head, going down towards the forehead chakra) and DN (with multiplicity of images and a sad general tone, with sad melodies accompanying). But at 10-15’ I was already with some stability in EQ. Fluctuating stability, not solid. The images left, loose words appeared, but not associated with analysis. There were memories of the song of the voice with emotional tones, but without content of words or concepts. All this observed with curiosity. There were also moments of word / sentence flow, but no possible labels. Something more like daydreaming. At one point I had a short nod, like I was falling asleep. This generated the opposite effect, because thereafter the mind was more alert.
Anyway, I implemented as an alert / Self-Inquiry method asking "Am I aware?" every X number of minutes. It just allowed 95% of the mindstream to take its course and from time to time asked the question. The remaining 5% was keeping some attention to how the mind watched the mindstream. Visually, it is as if the index finger points from under the chin towards the head. It was as if I looked at the head / mind from below. It is not a visual view, but rather the internal and surrounding head space. Outside of sitting, I continued (intermittently) with this intention of observing the mind.
May 26: 60’. Loose words reappeared, little analysis and more of emotional expressions (without words) and ego reinforcement (both expressions, and personal rant). There were also quite a few images. The most interesting thing about the practice was that it became very clear that the loose words and images were in sequence, they never appeared at the same time, one triggered the other. At some point there was one (not two like days ago) unexpected abrupt fall of the eyelids (which were already closed) and there was a little more concentration and a silver-colored nimitta appeared, like a diamond with some filaments. I didn't notice it moving, although it did change brightness. It did not last more than 1-2 minutes. During practice I did not observe spatiality or watching the watcher. The latter works more consistently off-cushion, in daily activities or working on the computer.
May 27: 60’. This time the loose words appeared in Italian, Spanish and English. From what was observed today, the fact is that expressive emotions without words occur whenever there is a certain level of concentration. Otherwise, these expressions emerge with words. The same happens with analysis thoughts. In the last 20' I practiced samatha with different variants (breath, mantra). The idea is to expand this a little in practice.
May 28: 60’. Vipassana Jhanas!! Until now ‘vipassana jhana’ (VJ) was a concept. Beyond having practiced vipassana and samatha separately, I was understanding VJ as a practice of vipassana with a higher level of concentration, or a practice of samatha with a minimum level of vipassana in order to deepen concentration. But what was experienced today was different. I walked through the ñanas with equanimity. A&P and EQ were pristine. And DN was somewhat cloudy but intermittent, since I could observe equanimity in these intermittencies. As if DN was contained within an EQ bubble. Something similar I wrote in the log days ago, but this time it was clearer. I understand that this underlying equanimity is the implicit trigger of a higher level of concentration, hence cataloging it as VJ. It would be really cool if I could consistently repeat this quality of practice.
The key to all this was a weariness of letting go control at a 100%, because it leads to a situation without a minimum of concentration and therefore it is difficult to observe the thoughts without ceasing to identify with them. With some guilt, I stopped doing that but retained the idea of minimizing the analytical mind. Hence the equanimity in observation. The image of Kenneth Folk (mentioned by Shargrol) of the floating peanut was used for this. But speeding up noticing was also key. There I realized that I was "stretching" what was observed. It is difficult to explain.
As for the phenomenological, there were loose words and pronunciation melodies in English and Italian.
Lastly, it may sound silly, but it is key not only to have slept 7 hours or more but also that at least in the previous hour (which includes Qigong) the TV is not on or there is no music or constant conversations between other family members.
Up to an hour after meditating, the mind remained silent, hearing the sounds of the house as if they were louder (pumped up) and simultaneously deep silences between sound and sound.
May 29: 60’. I couldn't sleep enough hours, so that affected today's practice. The patina of equanimity was not so present and that had an impact on the level of concentration. The best thing happened in the first 30’, where the most interesting was not the phenomenological but to observe how the mind was changing the focus (wide vs. focused, fast vs. slow, etc.). A dynamic that reminds me of Shinzen Young's expansion-contraction, but less ‘elegant’ (more confusing). On a phenomenological level, there were fewer loose words / emotional expressions (and more phrases with content), and great tranquility on a physical level. This time I put more focus on the physical sensations in the forehead and eyes (and its link with thoughts and intentions).
May 30: 50’. Daydreaming during the first 30’, in the last 20’ I applied vipassana to deepen the samatha. There were many loose thoughts seen as non-self, but without the quality of perception of the recent days. I also practiced metta-gratitude, using Christian mantras. There was some devolution.
May 31: 50’. From the outset I focused on the physical sensations in the forehead and eyes (and its connection with thoughts and intentions), as I did in the previous two days. Many thoughts and loose words. Today's novelty was detecting images (lasting a fraction of a second) that triggered these loose words and thoughts. Perhaps this is related to not having focused on the physical sensations in the eyes. So I refocused the practice to observe the arising of images and detect if this generated thoughts. In the last 15-20 minutes I practiced metta-gratitude, using Christian mantras on and off, giving room for silent gaps and seeing what would emerge. I also tried to visualize religious images, the same deity always appears, but with different shapes and angles. The most gratifying was about 10 minutes of pleasurable perfume. I could let myself be somehow absorbed in that perfume. Few conscious (analytical) thoughts appeared.
Jun 01: 70’. Intention = Mental Inertia = Continuity. Today I was able to observe more closely (and repeatedly) what happened yesterday with the pleasant perfume. Starting from a base of mental tranquility, 'moments of mental inertia' arise where it is perceived how an intention, an emotion or a thought (IEP) has a certain temporary duration that emerges, submerges and re-emerges over a period of time. It is not a single Bell Curve type arising & passing peak, but each IEP has a voltage level that can be intermittently exceeded by a 2nd IEP, but this 1st IEP subsequently re-emerges. Just need to wait for the A&P of the 2nd IEP to happen and the 1st IEP reappears. And when it reappears, it has its long passing that is perceived as this inertia that I mentioned. Visualization is as if there is an ocean of mental processes and that each IEP is a stream at different depths, speeds and strength. Obviously, not always after a 2nd IEP does a prior IEP necessarily arise, as there can also be a gap.
From the point of view of practice, waiting for the reemergence of this 1st IEP and then getting into inertia (surfing) is an experience that allows me to deepen my concentration. It is to hold the (samatha) mental intention but sustained under a vipassana format.
From a psychological point of view, it is easier for me (as a ‘surfer’) to 'wait for the wave', to jump into inertia, than to try to avoid falling into greed-aversion.
Jun 2: Family emergency, I couldn't meditate…
Jun 03: 60’. I applied this idea of mental inertia no longer to the mental objects that might emerge, but directly to Awareness itself. The result is that while Attention varies its focus (spatial and intensity), Awareness remains constant (provisional ‘truth’). In fact, resting on this idea of inertia makes it much clearer (and less stressful) to see changes in Attention, and let more time to rest in Awareness. The result is a very calm practice (and boring haha). Greed-aversion is decreased.
When I leave this modality and focus on thoughts or physical sensations in the head space, single words or analytical thoughts return there.
Jun 4: Again family emergency, I could not meditate...
Jun 05: 50’. While it wasn't a great practice today, there was one interesting thing. I let go of the steering wheel, letting the mind choose where to focus its attention. What was interesting was perhaps obvious, but it was made explicit in practice. Not only are thoughts and emotions observed as 'no-self', but Mindfulness itself is non-self if one does not apply the intention to observe in a particular way. So the insight was that at a deep level greed-aversion is what determines the dynamics of mind's Attention, but at the superficial level the non-intention in observation allows to take distance (watch the watcher) and observe how the Attention of the mind jumps from one object to another.
Jun 06: 70’. I tried different techniques to deepen concentration, including vipassana as a support for concentration. Especially observing mental inertia both in the gaps of breathing and the silence after the end of a thought.
Jun 07: 50’. The practice was a mixture of vipassana and samatha. I do not remember the details well (I’m writing a day later).
Jun 08: 45’ + 40’. The first session was pure samatha. The interesting thing is that since I do not push the thoughts out to deepen the concentration, every so often (1 per minute?) a loose thought (unconscious thought) appears. Since the practice is primarily of absorption, it takes a little longer to detach from these thoughts of the Unconscious. In other words, I can see that they are no-self but I also see how the Self identifies with that thought. It's like I'm in an 'intermediate zone' (80% samatha and 20% vipassana I guess).
Should I tried to avoid the thoughts, they would disappear, at least for a while. If instead I took more distance, then I would see them clearly as loose words, or loose phrases. So this is the ‘blend of concentration of vipassana’ as Shargrol explains in his posts, that’s so fruitful in Equanimity. In the past I have had a (high concentration) experience where I saw how the mind jumped into a mental object and merged with it. Today it was less spectacular but not just one single experience, there were many. Here comes ‘wow factor’ vs ‘consistent practice’ debate, in order to make room for a cessation to happen.
With regard to samatha, mental inertias reappeared, which allowed concentration to deepen. The perfume of flowers appeared intermittently. There was also at some point intense heat in the hands, too intense. When this faded, I took as a focus a very fine and slight vibration in the periphery. The concentration deepened only a little, but it did trigger the activation of energy points: chakras of the crown and forehead. In a third round of concentration, I tried to focus on that (initial) warmth in the hands, and it spread to the legs, pelvic area, and lower abdomen. Seeing that it would take too long to reach a more intense level, I cut the session so I could do another session of pure vipassana.
In the second session, of pure vipassana, unconscious thoughts did not generate identification. The highlight of the session was realizing the persistent tension in the eye area, the relaxation I try there always comes back (while the body tensions in the rest of the head and body in general were almost nil). The solution was to reverse the observation (‘a la’ Direct-Pointing), that the outside world comes to my eyes (eyes like ears that I mentioned weeks ago). I use my eyes as a 'physical' point of contact with the outside, where contact is minimal, without tension. This makes it easy to watch the mindstream without triggering greed-aversion.
Jun 10: 70’. The evolution of the practice was similar to that of yesterday, although with a higher level of concentration. With repetition, patterns emerge that make my practice more effective. (1) Take the space as an object of attention to calm the mind and then remember those feelings that make the space calm. (2) Redirect attention to thoughts, wait for the arising of the first unconscious thought or analytical intention (voluntary or involuntary). (3) Observe in these unconscious thoughts to what degree the Attention tries to merge with them. (4) After passing the thought / intention, observe how the inertia of the previous intention or the calm space re-emerges. (5) After a time in which unconscious thoughts no longer emerge, then wait for the emergence of emotions or changes in Attention (under the assumption that the latter implies a reaction to greed-aversion). (6) When emotions arise, then detect what physical sensations compose it. When changes in Attention arise, detect physical sensations related to greed-aversion. (7) If pleasant sensations linked to samatha arise in any of the 6 previous points, then focus attention there, sustain the intention or look for signs of inertia. (8) An alternative to point 5 is to wander the mind through those areas where pleasant sensations were awakened and later, with a global look, wait for those sensations to reappear. (9) If nothing works, observe the physical sensations in the head.
Jun 11: 50’. It was a practice that went from high to low, where analytical / discursive thoughts arose. The most interesting thing was prior to the session, during the Qigong practice, where something read in DhO fitted perfectly with things that I had observed but could not model: to obtain bliss, the tension goes to the (physical) periphery to leave the center empty.
Jun 12: Family grieving. No meditation today.
Jun 13: 60’. Too much reverie (dreamy) during practice, too many images. Lack of rest and grief. I didn't expect much from practice, but at least I kept the session. The best were the first 25’ in terms of observing thoughts from the unconscious. No prior Qigong.
Jun 14: 60’. It was a better practice than yesterday, but still without returning to previous levels of concentration and the ability to see 3C clearly. Practicing Gratitude / Metta was key to putting a stop to the flood of thoughts. There were no painful memories or destabilizing images (neither yesterday) but as if there was a general underground noise that did not allow the mind to stabilize for too long. I also didn't do Qigong today, due to time constraints, given the family circumstances.
Jun 16: I couldn't practice.
Jun 17: 70’. Another Vipassana-Jhana practice, this time 20% vipassana and 80% jhana. I had previously done a long Qigong and Taiji practice, so that must have influenced. It was a very quiet session, with few thoughts. Mental inertia / continuity was not only present as that underlying current (always void of content, only presence) but also as inertia (expansion) of the expiration of the breath, for a whole-body breath. It was a new experience, because until now inertia was observed in the in-breath (in the form of floral perfume) while today it was in the out-breath. It is more like Qigong, but there it is more dynamic (with a body in movement or extension) while here it is static (beyond the fact that global respiration ‘expands’ the energy field). There were also sporadically more energy discharges associated with martial qigong.
Jun 18: 60’+ 40’ from Qigong and previous Taiji. The Vipassana-Jhana (VJ) scheme is clearer, where for long periods the ratio was 10/90 although there was some variability during the session. It was very calm, with some unconscious thoughts especially in the first 10'. Mental inertia always present as undercurrent. Towards the middle there was a lot of clarity and calm. Then pleasant sensations (not intense, as in past sessions) began to emerge in different parts of the body, but intermittently, perhaps because I forgot to practice the whole-body breath. The session felt short, it passed quickly.
Beyond momentary mental inertia during practice, I note that there is a certain momentum between session to session for the jhanic elements to grow so ‘fast’. (Something should also help the previous Qigong + Taiji).
From the start there was Energy flow in historically hard areas such as the highest part of the spine and the back of the skull.
Jun 19: 60 ’+ 50’ from Qigong and previous Taiji. I started aiming at a VJ 20/80 but there wasn't enough momentum so I turned my attention back to spotting intentions, emotions and thoughts (IEPs) from the unconscious. There were slight variations on what was already known, with independent syllables that the mind was tempted to merge and create words with. But overall there were few thoughts so I had to redirect my attention to observe intentions and emotions. In a practice passage, I observed that some intentions had emotions attached to them, such as a quick response, a kind of silent amazement (WOW! type) or alertness.
Then the vipassana lost momentum and when I tried to go back to it, I observed how the mere intention to focus the intention triggered pleasant sensations throughout the body. So practice turned to a VJ 50/50, sailing halfway between vipassana and jhana. The interesting thing is that just as there were pleasant sensations, there were also typical A&P vibrations in the same areas. The difference was that the pleasurable sensations were more intermittent and more associated with bodily relaxation or out-breath, while the vibrations were somewhat more general and consistent, and totally independent of the mind's intention.
Towards the end it was even clearer that, independent of the object of observation (in this case the arising of thoughts), it is the intention of observation that generates concentration, which triggers pleasant sensations, thanks to mental inertia.
Jun 20: 50 ’+ 20’ of Qigong and previous Taiji. Saturdays are the worst days, due to accumulated fatigue and family outings. And this time, the pattern was fulfilled as always LOL. The first 30’ were pure daydreaming. Then the mind woke up. The rescue of the practice was to give a twist to the Vimalaramsi 6Rs (Recognize a distraction, Release distraction (stop thinking about it), Relax related tension, Re-smile, Return to the object of meditation, Repeat the process). In his scheme, the smile is associated with relaxing tension instead of later peace or in any case as a later step in itself. My practice is to apply the contentment on the spatiality / silence / mental inertia that I observe after passing a thought, intention or emotion. The idea is to be more specific in that merger, and not make it look like an automatic / robotic step.
Jun 23: 50’. I slept only five hours, the pipes broke again and the plumbers came back to repair them. The meditation session was unclear, the mindstream very volatile. I never reached Access Concentration.
Jun 24: 50 ’+ 20’ Qigong + 40 ’. In the first session I tried to focus on vipassana, but with an unstable mindstream (although with a calm background) after 20 minutes, it became clear that it was not the best option, so instead I turned to samatha. In particular, I applied a simple relaxation of the legs, part by part, and the heat `caught fire´ at an intense level. The second session had a more vipassana tone although with that calm mental inertia I always mention, sometimes too calm. I paid more attention to intentions and emotions, which have relatively less presence than thoughts. A particular point that I observed is the (striving) desire to re-experience the causal components of thoughts, that temporary separation between the idea or physical/emotional reaction and the mental text that is then inserted to make sense of it. Obviously, this underlying mental intention/desire prevents observing the present as it occurs.
Jun 25: 60’+ 30’ Qigong. I observed a key point: when thoughts disappear, the silent spatiality that emerges (and that has traits of mental inertia) is always 'outside', that spatiality does not include the body. I see that this is a subtle form of aversion, it is like expelling thoughts out of the body. So what I did was incorporate the body into that spatiality. It is like the three (spatiality, body and mental inertia) merge. Intuitively it feels like the right thing to do.
This arose a bit as a result of what I wrote yesterday from that mental intention to observe the causal components of thoughts and the ‘text’ that the mind adds to it by focusing there. Also, because I listened to an audio by Daniel Ingram where he spoke of the ‘proportionality’ of each physical thought or sensation within a spatial frame. How each phenomenon occupies its time/space but without covering the rest of the field. I understand it as a more mature equanimity, described in terms of the interrelationship of phenomena, and not as an implied existing observer. When I put this into practice, there is obviously an observer in my case, but this scheme still works for experiencing that kind of equanimity: not letting greed/aversion for a thought or physical sensation hide the rest.
During the session, this served to observe the non-self of thoughts and emotions, but not concentrating on them, on what they are or what they are not, but how they "located" within this general mental field. It feels like when in A&P I was doing speed noticing of all physical phenomena and thoughts, but this time it includes subtler thoughts and more importantly, it doesn’t feel like I’m striving, instead it feels natural.
Jun 26: 80 ’+ 30’ Qigong. I put into practice what I observed yesterday, and some interesting conclusions emerged. If the ‘gaze’ is thus focused on the body, the physical sensations and thoughts occupy ‘proportionally’ the spatial frame. Thoughts are easily observable as unconscious and also stop being in the center of attention, they seem to be more on the periphery. And by simply observing the body, pleasant sensations are triggered (scattered, not in a single block). However, after a while this ‘proportionality’ is lost since physical sensations trigger a rain of thoughts/ideas/emotions that sooner or later become a central thought which I identify with.
On the other hand, if the ‘gaze’ is focused on the space in front (of the eyes), basically what I am doing is taking that space as a mental object of concentration. That is why, concentration through, thoughts vanish more consistently, and when any appears there is sufficient concentration to observe its causal components (1st: greed / aversion; 2nd: intentional/emotional reaction; 3rd: syllables or single words; 4th: a phrase / text that unifies those single words into a thought with a certain degree of coherence).
As a tentative conclusion, the best way to go is to first use space as a mental object and, once a certain level of concentration has been reached, broaden the spectrum of observation to the whole body and observe this "proportional" emergence of physical sensations and thoughts. When this is lost, take the space again as a mental object and repeat the process. The idea is that over time the borders between that space in front and the body will get closer, that everything can be observed at the same time and with a consistent floor of concentration.
Jun 28: 35’. It was a very short but fertile practice. Awareness encompassed both the space in front and the body. The thoughts had little force, they could not capture the center. And when they did, it expanded the observation to pleasant (or neutral) sensations in the body. And there it was observed that that thought (mental impression) was not as strong as it seemed.
The most interesting thing was the emergence of visual fabrications. Just as it happened with the words (where first syllables or single words arose, and then the pre-existing (or later) emotion/idea triggered the mind to unify these elements to generate a 'story' or an idea) now the same thing happened with the images. It became clear that when the mind does not understand what it observes, it looks for patterns and builds an image. It could be seen how a set of colored spots were changing to generate an understandable and known object. Precisely what is interesting is that these spots did not change on their own, but instead the attention gave them orders (aversion -> not that, greed -> that yes) of what image could be composed.
Jun 29: 60’. This time I had slept well, but during the day I have had a lot of physical exhaustion and that had an impact on meditation. The bottom-line is that I always must take a short nap before meditating. The meditation was very dreamlike, I observed dreams, in addition to thoughts and physical sensations. I was able to observe the construction of both thoughts and images. But in general it was not a practice with mental clarity. What worked best was to follow the jhana elements.
Jun 30: 60’ + 30’ Qigong. The best happened in the first 10’ and the last 15’, when there was sufficient concentration to observe the creation of verbal thoughts from loose sounds, not even specific syllables. There was no observation of the creation of images, but there were cases where verbal thoughts were observed as spatial objects ... very strange! From 10’ to 45’ there was a proliferation of thoughts, largely due to a lack of intensity in observing the arisings & passings but also because I let the thoughts run to see what underlying psychological content was driving them.
Jul 01: 70’+ 60’ Qigong. I had to adjust the intensity of observation, because I was quickly lost in a chain of thoughts. With that adjustment, the practice worked fine. I used the space in front as an underlying observation object while observing the arising and passing of thoughts. Then, with a peripheral incorporation of the body, pleasant sensations arise in the body. I also add a smile, to see if it stretches the situation. That peripheral incorporation of the body has to be very subtle, because if not, the concentration level is lost and the chain of thoughts returns.
In a moment, the verbal thoughts and even the single words, syllables and other hum hum hum disappeared completely. With that, a little happiness and peace arouse. It was different from other sessions, the closest thing to a full jhana than to a vipassana-jhana. In fact, I was later surprised that thoughts didn’t arise (as the intention was to have the opportunity to see the creation of oral and visual thoughts with greater precision).
At another later point in the practice, I took the Brow chakra as a mental object. Unlike other sessions, there weren't as many vibrations or energy flow, although it did trigger some of this around the Crown chakra. Like yesterday, I continued to observe that certain disembodied objects (thoughts, states of mind) are represented in the mind as corporeal images (with a shape). I understand that it is a kind of defense mechanism of the mind, that begins to generate physical identity to something, because awareness is also incorporeal. I sought to observe awareness itself, just when there was complete mental silence.
Jul 02: 60’ + 40’ Qigong. Night and Day. Today's practice was very different from yesterday's. There was observation of individual thoughts / words / syllables and how they were chained, but observance of this prevented them from becoming conscious formed thoughts. The most different thing of today’s practice was the observation of a lot of negative emotions and mental patterns (eg, critically evaluating aspects of other people). There was also the (escalating) igniting of energy points: throat, forehead and crown.
Another interesting thing is that I practiced metta (to counterbalance the emergence of emotions), with a variant that Shargrol proposed in an old thread: inducing feelings of happiness in the body itself and visualizing those same feelings in the body of other people. The most logical thing would have been to try with a smile of my own and that of others (the usual way I practice metta), but instead it came about doing so via a general vibration of the body. Intuitively, it felt like the ideal way to do it.
Jul 03: 60’ + 30’ Qigong. Today I continued with the Metta practice. I read The Path to Nibbana (David Johnson) and the book turned out better than anything I had read of Bhante Vimalaramsi’s camp (I have a number of compliments and criticisms for the book, but that would need a separate thread). During practice (Metta/Gratitude/Compassion), warmth (and some vibration) was first ignited in the chest and shortly thereafter on the back, at the same height. Then it grew a bit in the chest and later it went up to the head, where the sensation was of expansion (balloon type) and ascension. In the head, Metta's feeling was different, of peace and a non-specific general contentment ... not what I would have expected, but very nice indeed!
Jul 05: 45’. It was the typical session without much concentration and very dreamy, many images. I practiced Metta as much as possible, with vipassana of thoughts as an initial practice to stabilize the mind. The interesting thing of the practice was to observe how the words and the images were not synchronized, but rather out of sync, so it was understood that the mind adds a story to images (the opposite case was not seen). It was like watching the construction of a dream.
Jul 06: 60’+ 30’ Qigong. Except for the first 10’ of concentration (space kasina, I suppose is the technical name) the remaining 50’ were dedicated to Metta. It is a less silent practice regarding thoughts, and that generated a feeling of dissatisfaction during meditation, until I realized that it is inevitable (at least for now) as images, memories, emotions, and all these objects arise: they trigger thoughts. This time the heat and vibration was more intense in the chest, and when I took that to the head space, that pleasant peace felt again, although it lasted less time. I also send Metta to me as a child, to heal emotional wounds. Another thing I tried was to be aware (while doing Metta) that the thumbs were barely touching, without loosening or squeezing. The bottom line was that it is incompatible (at least now) with Metta. The opening of the hand feels better, perhaps because it opens the heart.
Jul 07: 60’ + 50’ Qigong. I practiced Metta almost the entire session. When I tried to do vipassana of thoughts, it was almost impossible. I would have to do another separate session just for vipassana. As for Metta, the warmth intensified and expanded in the chest area. I purposely brought to memory unhappy moments and applied Brahma Viharas to them. When I brought the feeling to my head, this time it didn't work like last time, perhaps because I'm applying too much investigation to it. At the beginning of everything, I remembered an advice from Dharmarato, to take 3 points of initial anapasana: expansion, contraction and the touch of the body with the cushion. This quickly awakens pleasurable sensations in the legs and abdomen. When I switched to Metta on the chest, it was very easy to turn it on.
Jul 08: 60’ + 60’ Qigong. This time there was mental silence while I practiced Metta, at least for some time. Then it was lost. I observe that the pleasant sensations of Jhana or Metta can occur in three different areas: (1) (Jhana) so that it occurs in the legs and abdomen, it is convenient that it simply arise from anapasana, observing expansion, contraction and rest (touch of the legs with the floor/pillow), and has a character of pure heat; (2) (Metta) for it to occur in the chest, I must visualize the person / deity to whom I transmit it, it is a mixture of heat and vibration; (3) (Wet Equanimity? Pseudo J4j2?) For it to occur in the head, I must focus on the smile (corners of the mouth), side of the eyes and nose, it is a mixture of peace, some light and spatiality.
Jul 09: 60’ + 60’ Qigong. Since in the last few sessions I practiced exclusively Metta/Jhana, I wanted to test if I could go back to the Space Kasina concentration type that I have been using to observe thoughts. After a bit of practice, I managed to get my focus back this way and observe the unconscious thoughts. The key is in that ‘continuity’ that I spoke about weeks ago, perhaps best described by the perception of a species of underground ocean that always exists. Something like taking Equanimity as an object of concentration, which includes certain low pitch vibrations. In the last 20' I went to practice Metta and tried to keep that Equanimity as a container for the Metta.
Jul 10: 60' + 60' Qigong. I went back to practicing Jhana/Metta on abdomen/legs, chest and head. Metta in the chest is satisfactory as a practice, but I am impatient with how slow it takes to expand, without remarkable results. However, when I switch to headspace, some of all that remains. As I have been working on ‘space kasina’ + mind-flow observation for months, and that's where I made some progress, I think I should put the focus back there and then introduce the ‘Equanimus Metta’ there. Some of that I managed to do today, and even a Nimitta appeared three times (white circles that go 'away' towards the bottom and stabilize there for a while, then disappear).
In recent days I have been playing with the idea of 'closing the eye of Awareness'. The idea is that, meditating with my eyes closed, I direct my attention to where the Awareness observes everything, and I stress the intention of 'closing the eye', as if the Awareness were an eye that is in the middle of the brain, behind of the eyes. Not that this would trigger a cessation or else LOL, but it helps to identify the center of the brain and little tensions in the head.
Jul 11: 60’. This time I went straight to ‘space kasina’ and observed mind-flow. Still, physical memory lit up the chest for a few minutes, like I was practicing Metta. Since Metta is a more laid-back practice, when going back to the previous practice, I put more energy into it, not allowing to miss any sensory phenomenon or change in perception. For long periods of time, the concentration was so intense that I perceived nothing more than the passage of time and certain mental intentions. After a while a vibration + sound began to emerge very much from the 'background' (back of the head), so I remembered Kenneth Folk’s The Wheel and took it as an object of concentration and investigation, noticing anything in particular other than typical variations of a vibration. I did notice a wave near 5 Hz later. And when I put the focus on the third eye, I felt vibrations at first but then continuous pulses. I was able to hold this practice for about 40 minutes, and the remaining 20 minutes I dedicated to Metta on the chest and Jhana elements on the face. Flower perfumes returned (intermittently).
Jul 12: 60’. I continued with 'space kasina' and observation of mind-flow. I observed the creation of thoughts, not trying to recognize/comprehend them (let alone analyze them). In this 'non-conceptualization' mode, then I intensely observed intentions, particularly small changes in perception. It was a kind of stand-still situation, nothing moved. Then thoughts of observation, complaints and protests (in the form of distant non verbalized emotionality) began to emerge, all because the mind feared this situation of loss of control. Upon observing this, more intensity emerged in the observation. Then peace and luminescence. I interpreted this peace as an ‘end’ of doubts about the ability to reach awakening. Off-cushion, I had no doubts that it is possible to achieve it, but in meditation I can now see that there are subtle doubts that I did not consciously take into account.
At another point in the meditation there was a rotor-blade coming from the bottom (back). Then I heard some cuts in the vibration (like folds of a tape). Later on there was a finer, long-wave vibration (this time located in the top of the head).
One conclusion is that I should try to meditate more times per day to explore this promising stuff, albeit for a shorter time (given work / family restrictions).
July 14: 30’+ 40’ + 40’ + 20’ Qigong. The first meditation was difficult since I had slept only 4 hours and had worked 8 hours. It was impossible to silence the mind, I followed the mind-flow. For the second meditation, I had already taken a nap so the mind was calm from the start. There was energy in the Crown Chakra and Third Eye, and the line that connects them. Since there were few thoughts, I was a bit disoriented about what to focus on. The third meditation also started very calmly and a wave/vibration emerged in the (top of the) headspace. There were times when the heart pulse mixed with the wave/vibration. This wave was seen at times as compact (solid) and at times as very fast vibration. I did not observe gaps. I felt a lot of Energy flow all over my skull again, from the Crown Chakra to the Third Eye. This time I noticed how the tensions in the head alternated with the Energy flow. Towards the end, when everything was calmer, I focused towards the center of the head, looking for the observer. I practiced 'Who am I' observing small tensions and a lot of silence and internal space.
July 15: 70 ’+ 20’ Qigong. During the first 30' the mind 'asked' me to focus on the vibration in the skull, but it was unable to settle down, thoughts could not be observed as such. I also tried to focus on outer space, but it didn't work either. Finally I turned to the internal space (head space) and there everything calmed down, it was possible not only to observe the unconscious thoughts but also the physical sensations associated with the face, neck, eyes and skull (including Crown Chakra and Third Eye). After a while I practiced self-inquiry variants, always with the head space as the focus: Who am I? Where am I? Where do thoughts come from?
Jul 16: 60’ + 50’ + 40’. In the first session I put too much intensity because I had only slept 5 hours, and that generated a very unstable mind-flow. In the second session I lowered the intensity level and everything worked better, but since there were few thoughts, I found the situation uncomfortable. Not knowing what to do. In addition, the cardiac pulse mixes with the sound vibration (at the level of the skull) and this prevents gaps from being observed (when the pulse was not heard, some abrupt cuts could be observed there). For a few minutes the observation point of the eyes changed: it was more to the right and turned anti-clockwise (10 PM). In past days sessions I observed that the point of view was more to the right or more to the left, but without clockwise/anti-clockwise rotation. What happened today was much more intense. In contrast, there were no changes in the Y axis (height), something that I had observed in practice (stand-up, not sitting) in Taijiquan.
In the third session I tried to broaden the observation as much as possible, being able to capture the entire body at the same time, the space in front including the visual (which is what I least pay attention to) and the sound vibration. With this, I applied the idea of proportionality as Daniel Ingram points out. All this improved meditation much more. But I still felt dissatisfied. I investigate this as well as in general any tension or change of perception that may be associated with the Self. In the last 5’ I tried removing the ear plugs. This completely removed the vibratory wave from the cardiac pulse. Maybe from now on I should stop using the plugs.
As an overall fact, the beginnings of the sessions are much calmer. Some momentum of equanimity remains from previous sessions.
During the rest of the day I observe (inconsistently) the physical sensations associated with the Self. It is something that was historically incorporated a long time ago (20y) when I did psychotherapy, but now it is more generalized (not tied only to emotional or ego-building issues) and the observed signs are much more subtle in the eyes, nose, cheekbones (before more linked with jaw, throat, shoulders, chest, abdomen, arms and legs).
July 17: 60’. This time I practiced the first 45' without earplugs and the last 15' with them. The first big observation is that without plugs it's much easier for pleasurable sensations to emerge and remain in the body. It may be a no-brainer, but now I realize that using the earplugs greatly diminishes bodily sensations (since I also focus on space kasina). I guess it’s as if I were trying something like Jhana1-subjhana 5 or Jhana1-subjhana 6. The second great observation is that without ear plugs, in order to stay in Equanimity and observe unconscious thoughts, I need to practice that ‘proportionality’ that Daniel Ingram talks about. In other words, I must broaden and sustain the focus of awareness to the whole body plus the surrounding space and be aware of the arising and passing of thoughts. On the other hand, using earplugs + space kasina, the spectrum of attention required is much narrower.
The big problem of not using ear plugs is that my street is very very noisy (and my little son too).
July 18: 50’ + 40’ + 20’ Qigong. It was actually a single meditation session, with a 5’ break at minute 50, where in the next 40’ I used the earplugs. When I didn't use them, the same thing happened as yesterday, more intense and extended pleasurable bodily sensations in the body, and even greater visualization of deities in brief interludes of mantras. Also, the need to keep the focus of perception very broad to sustain Equanimity, that mind-flow did not lead to a string of conscious thoughts (monkey-mind).
In the second stage I put on the earplugs. The silence and concentration level was much more intense. There I observed 4 overlaid flows: (1) a very fast vibration (which also spread to the legs and arms for a few minutes); (2) a very slow vibration (long wave, which I used as a thrust to deepen concentration throughout the session, I don't know if it is related to the microcosmic orbit or if it is simply that 'continuity' of which I spoke earlier, an effect of concentration); (3) an intermediate / rapid vibration (linked to the pulse); (4) syllables, loose words (unconscious and incoherent).
Type 3 vibration was non-existent at first, intermittent in the middle, and persistent at the end. I suppose this is related to the level of intensity that I put in order to be able to observe the type 1 vibration more clearly. In the next sessions I will try to be more Equanimeous in observing these 4 types of mind flows.
July 19: 30’+ 45’. The first 30' without earplugs were relatively peaceful, with pleasurable bodily sensations arising from a certain 'proportional ' equanimity of awareness. The most striking thing was the activation of the Crown chakra and another energy center in the skull near the Third Eye. There was an intention to open, all sensations where at the skull, there were no physical sensations piercing towards the center of the brain. The second 45’ session with earplugs, I let the attention go anywhere. Half the time, that made me lose myself in thoughts. The other half, the mind-flow could be observed without being stuck to thoughts. All 3 types of overlapping vibrations reappeared, but I detected only two at the same time. I tried to get absorbed by the very long vibration, but the concentration level today was very low. The vibration associated with the pulse appeared more towards the end of the session.
In the second session I also paid attention to the Crown Chakra from time to time and it was activated every time. Sometimes it was a tension (with some visualization of a vertical line above the skull) and other times the typical bubbling that leads to an energy spill into the Third Eye.
July 21: 25’ + 45’. Practiced Metta in the first 25' session. As it was a difficult day (some medical emergencies), the practice was not easy. In the next 45' session (already with earplugs) I aimed to observe mind-flow. It continues to bear fruit that of seeking to equalize the level of visual tension (associated with conceptualization and more generally with ‘grabbing’) with the levels of tension in the auditory and the tactile. The point is that the body makes no effort to listen (the sounds just come in) or to feel the physical contact of the skin with clothing, air, or the cushion. With that in mind, I can easily see the excess tension in the visual aspect.
Another remarkable thing about the session is that I again observed in the mind-flow how the mind (already silent) tries to put together stories that have an abstract visual component. Example 1: A mental (unconscious) intention results in a kind of white tube that moves forward and then turns upward. Example 2: an (unconscious) thought that looks for twists and turns and continues to spin around a series of white cones.
July 22: 30’ + 60’ + 30 ’Qigong. Qigong practice was unusually good, partly because several days had passed without practice and the removal of trapped energy is always satisfactory, and partly because a new exercise is paying off. The 30’ session without earplugs focused on anapana (instead of Metta) under the whole-body breathing modality. The practice is satisfactory but it generates chains of thoughts, so perhaps I should have to practice only while the anapana works. The 60' session with earplugs this time worked. The key was to focus on relaxing the tensions on the sides of the head, as the plugs add very uncomfortable tension for this stage of practice. The cardiac flow stopped being perceived and I was able to follow with more consistency the rapid vibration in the head-space. I observed a clear variability but no gaps. This vibration was at times throughout the session, not all the time. There was also a long flow of unconscious thoughts, single words, gibberish, etc. and this time it could be observed uninterrupted without identifying itself. As a new thing, I noticed the voices in particular of those words: they are almost always from third parties, only a few times did I recognize the voice as mine. Visually, there was brief activity in front of the eyes, where the most prominent were the white circles moving away to the background.
July 23: 30’. I had a very busy day and I had to wait until midnight for the batteries (of a noise-canceling headphone that was delivered to me today) to be charged. I had a lot of anxiety and expectation that things would get better, so it wasn't the best session LOL. The conclusion is that with (usual) earplugs there is the advantage of a deeper silence that facilitates rapid concentration, but as a disadvantage it requires several adjustments during each session, and generates tension in the ear area and even makes the heart pulse emerge constantly, which overlaps the mental vibrations and triggers many thoughts. With N/C headphones, the advantage is that all these is eliminated and also makes the session more even. As a disadvantage, it warms the ears a little (nothing terrible) and it takes longer to achieve a deeper concentration.
July 24: 60’ + 45’ (seated) Qigong. This time, I practiced seated Qigong, a practice that allows me to observe tensions and do a (semi) whole-body breath but without activating with the intention to trigger pleasant sensations or that the breath covers the entire body. It is more than anything designed to bring excess mental energy back down. And along with this, to focus attention on the Huiyin, which happens to activate the rotorblades (felt in the headspace) from down there. In the 60' meditation session (with N/C headphones) I observed just how the rotorblades were maintained throughout the session, although still weak.
July 25: 60’ + 60’ Qigong. Today I returned to Qigong standing, but later in sitting meditation I included the huiyin as the anchor of the breath. As I keep my attention there, the rotorblade sounds at head height, albeit in the background. As soon as I redirect attention to the space kasina, the rotorblade disappears. The practice continued to improve compared to the previous days (regarding the inclusion of the N/C headphones), the session is more even, although without achieving that other mental anchor (space). Still, I could observe the unconscious thoughts and other gibberish, but intermittently, perhaps due to excessive physical exhaustion (family duties).
July 26: 60’ + 60’ + 60’ Qigong. In the first session (with N/C headphones) just in the last 15' I had a deep level of concentration, when I could take the vibration (not rotorblades) as a mental anchor and the thoughts were observed as elements of the unconscious. In this mode, I observed how attention fluctuated with vibration. Earlier, the mental anchor in the Huiyin activated the rotorblade, without achieving to later become the next mental anchor. The most novel thing was that in a brief moment the vibration accelerated.
In the second session (with earplugs) the concentration was higher, it was easier to observe unconscious thoughts, loose words, etc. That is not only because of the increased acoustic isolation but also because if the mind is distracted and conscious thoughts start to arise, then the heart pulse in the ears is activated. So the mind disciplines itself. The highlight of this session was observing how tandem sensations arose in different parts of the body, especially the lower dantian and the vibration / rotorblade in the head, or certain sensations in the chest and the Third Eye. Towards the end, the arms and legs were 'filled' and heat emerged from the bottom up.
Jul 27: 60’ + 60’ + 30’ Qigong. In the first 60' only towards the middle of the session the mind cleared up. However, the rotor blade was present for most of the session, at first more run to the right, then in the center near the jade pillow gate (GV16 to GV17). Later, with the greatest mental clarity, I observed everything at the same time, in particular the auditory, visual and tactile, and instead of observing the mind-flow I observed the attention of the mind, how it observes, from where it observes, etc. Towards the end, the legs began to generate very intense heat.
In the second session I dedicated the first part to observing / activating the Huiyin. This heated up and generated vibrations throughout the session, connecting / syncing with the vibration in the back and headspace. Although for long periods of time I used vibration as a mental anchor, at other times I observed physical, tactile, and auditory sensations. During the meditation there were visualizations of smiling deities, the clear perception of the REN energy line (front of the body). Unconscious and gibberish thoughts with familiar voices also reappeared.
Jul 28: 45' + 30' + 30 'Qigong. The 45' session was always on the verge of sleep. At first I took as a focus the huiyin as a mental anchor, but at one point the mind jumped to the space-kasina, it was strange. Then there were many images of faces / heads, without any emotional connotation, just faces, as if I were observing people doing their own thing. The 30' session (with earplugs) I was more awake. This time I put that general vibration aside and went back to focusing on thoughts and that ocean container. I also asked myself “What am I struggling with?” in order to observe where there is no equanimity, generally in the three physical senses: visual, tactile and auditory.
Jul 29: I had a difficult day, I couldn't practice today.
Jul 30: 60' + 60'. The noise-canceling headphones stopped working so I returned them to Sony, as luckily it was within the warranty period. Anyway, they had never finished convincing me to meditate. I bought other real cheap earplugs (corkcrew earplugs) and returned to the situation of a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, the previous earplugs were wearing and causing irritation inside the ear. With the newer ones, the heartbeat is heard far and from time to time, not persistently and in the foreground. The first 60' session was one of adaptation, only towards the end did awareness reside in an expansive space (towards infinity), where unconscious thoughts and others were observed from the outside. Before this there were moments of confusion, alternating silences but a mind that jumped from phenomenon to phenomenon. There was also quite a discharge of energy in the Crown chakra towards the Third Eye.
In the second session I already started in a very calm situation. I even stimulated a greater calm "descending" as if I were submerged in the sea, with pressure on the skin. I observed both the unconscious thoughts and the equanimity between the three physical senses. This led me to observe in particular the Dukkha in arising & passing of phenomena (when the usual is the other way around) and also Dukkha and Impermanence in Awareness. I think this is promising.
Jul 31: 40'. I had a molar (tooth) removed, so today's practice was just done in order to maintain a certain level of consistency. Only at 30' did the mind stabilize.
Aug 1: 60' + 30'. In the first session (60’) I began to observe the mind-flow and apply a physical-mental relaxation to any thought-emotion-intention that appeared. After a few minutes, this led to a certain level of concentration, where thoughts could be observed with greater precision. Overall, there was on average 1 thought per minute. There were many non-verbal thoughts and emotions: thought-images and emotion-images appeared. Due to the type of concentration, no oral thoughts were generated that would put text/letter to those thoughts-images. In the last 10 minutes, attention was redirected to a vibration in the head-space. It has some points in common with the rotor-blade but it is different. It is a long wave, which 'sounds' like magnetic (very similar to long waves perceived in Taijiquan) that has cyclical cuts (silences). When listening with greater attention, the sound becomes 'pixelated', it sounds zazazaza ...
In the second session (30') the attention was directed to that magnetic wave, but the heart pulse enters and modifies the wave, the cycles become shorter. I had to cut ahead of time because dinner was ready.
Aug 2: 60' + 70'. In the first session (60') there were very few thoughts (every 3-5 minutes approx) in the first 20 minutes, when the attention shifted from the usual space-kasina to the Third Eye. Then the rotor-blade was activated, but very slightly, in the background. The first reaction is to put all the focus there, but that activates the heart pulse and ends up overshadowing it. After various adjustments, the rotor-blade 'stabilized' once attention took a global focus. When the focus also included the legs and the pelvis / sacrum, the vibration of the lower zone was connected with the rotor-blade of the head-space, until the end of the session. Throughout the session, slight pressure was felt on the skin, first on the face and arms, then the rest of the body. Despite the Third Eye being activated, there were no energetic discharges. During the period of adjustments to stabilize the rotor-blade, there were many thoughts and doubts related to practice: how to do it, if I am on the right track, etc. From the unconscious came a phrase: "keep at the vibration".
The second session (70') was very fluctuating. At 5' the mind stabilized, there were brief images (without a defined shape) with bright colors and the silence was so deep that there was no possibility of a thought generating a 'mental echo'. The thought emerged and disappeared, but without activating a new thought. By comparison, from the visual point of view, the ‘space’ was dark, without fluctuation (while the usual thing is that the visual space has variability, alternating between black and white in amorphous forms). This lasted a few minutes, then the amorphous space and thoughts returned with mental echoes. Instead, the rotor-blade emerged. This time it was difficult to anchor it in the pelvis / sacrum (because of an intestinal discomfort) but instead it stayed a long time in the Crown Chakra and in the chest, two areas in which he had not landed before.
Aug 3: 80' + 40' seated Qigong. The 80' session was a single sitting, just that at 60' I changed my legs position. The first 30-40 minutes were influenced by previous Qigong. There was a hum in the background in general (which persisted through the whole session) but at first there was also a vibration in the root chakra. Then some (dense) energy locked at neck level settled. Then the heart chakra was activated again in a complementary way with the Crown chakra. It was satisfying to watch a (historic) blockage in the chest undo, as the 'cold' energy descended into the solar plexus. At the thought level, there were many, almost all associated with the practice (at the beginning there was also a melody with which I was composing).
The interesting thing is that I discovered that thoughts are seen more clearly as not own when attention is focused on the vibration in the Brow chakra. I don't know if this is indeed the case for some energetic question, or if it is simply having found a point of concentration with a physical sensation (in general I concentrate with space-kasina, so the 'container' of mind-flow is incorporeal). There seems to be a way to approach the Brow Chakra that triggers this situation, it is not simply to focus there. Then I tried going from the Brow Chakra inwards to the 'I' point and staying there, observing the movement of the 'I'.
During the night I woke up several times listening to the hum in the head-space.
Aug 4: 20' + 60' + 40' Qigong. I stopped the first session at 20' because the sleep deprivation made me have a lot of energy running through my body. When I went to bed for a nap the energy kicked in again. In the standing Qigong section, the energy points were connected more than usual. Then in the 60' meditation session the first 20 minutes was a ping-pong of energy. On the one hand, it is interesting to observe the energy column at the height of the neck and towards the skull. Or the rotor sound on in lower dantian, the superficial pressure on the face, etc. But on the other hand this is the complete opposite of EQ, it seems more like A&P. So I did about 10-15 minutes of a simple Noting, a note every 1-2 seconds, to stabilize the mind. In the last 20 minutes, the mind stabilized at times, alternating calm and moments of discursive mind. The hum-magnetic type vibration appeared in the last 10 minutes.
Aug 5: 70' + 40'. The first session (70’) was a practice (with earplugs) more focused, with a focus on the third eye, observing how thoughts trigger the numbing in attention or the mind wandering in search of objects to observe. As long as the concentration is sufficient, the pulse in the left ear does not appear. It is an uncomfortable practice.
In the second session (40') I tried putting liquid Vaseline (a single drop) on the left earplug, to see if that would cut the heart pulse. It worked for about 10 minutes but then the sound came back (more muffled). I finally lost all hope that it would work and meditate the other 30 minutes without earplugs. In spite of everything, the session was not so bad since I was able to follow the mind-flow without major problems, although with a lower level of detail and precision.
The most interesting thing was when I finished meditating, because for the next 2 hours the level of thoughts dropped notably, there were almost no thoughts. And in the middle I had the family dinner and watched a while of television. Then thoughts happened then, but didn’t stick lest proliferate.
Aug 6: 60' + 60'. The two sessions were very similar, acclimatizing to a practice without earplugs or Qigong. The body is relaxed on one side but compressed on the other. Something similar is felt in the attention paid to the Third Eye. I notice, on the one hand, that there is a lack of intensity to observe the thoughts so as to be able to observe them as unconscious. In general the thoughts are more than anything of practice, only a couple of times there was a mental distraction, although there are also thoughts about the discomfort of the new situation, the familiar noise, the noise from the street, doubts if I should use the earplugs although be 15 minutes to calm the mind, etc.
Aug 7: 70'. The first 40 minutes had a more dreamlike vibe, with the body relaxed (although I periodically check tensions in the eyes) and the mind on the verge of falling asleep. Few oral thoughts and several images of human and animal faces. And colors with a certain viscosity (that alludes to a physical sensation). Then the mind cleared and the level of observation of unconscious thoughts (visual and oral) was similar to what happened when wearing earplugs. Still, there were relatively few thoughts (yes intentions). In the last 10 minutes I did Noting with only 4 very general tags: feel, see, hear & think. Only a couple of times did I notice think. Noting speed was 1-2 per second on average.
Aug 8: 80'. I used the 4 tags (feel, see, hear, think) for Noting. Depending on the situation, sometimes there were only 1 physical sense notes, sometimes 2 and sometimes all 3. Feel is everything somatic (plus the feeling tone), See is everything visual but non-mental (plus the spatial sensation), Hear is the auditory non-mental (plus vibrations that have sound), and Think the conscious and unconscious thoughts (whether visual or oral). I don't label the intentions and mental-states for now, but I did observe them when there were significant changes.
Doing this type of Noting with very few labels instead of a typical speed-noticing was very helpful, because instead of agitating the mind, it calmed it. In fact, it was not something deliberate but a discovery. I just wanted to make sure that I was making notes about what is really going on, since with fast-noting I may sometimes imagine sensations that actually did not occur.
The point is that I started by making notes first every 1-2 seconds, then every 3 and then every 5, because I noticed that as the time lengthened the mind calmed down more and more. It is as if I were transitioning from vipassana to samatha but never quite intentionally getting there. The eureka moment was realizing that out of fear of falling into dullness, and also out of ambition to achieve SE, I was demanding too much observation (previously in the form of choiceless awareness). Realizing that I could be in a great calm without implying of being dull.
From a phenomenological point of view, the practice was again like in the good sessions of previous weeks, although without that global perception of ‘proportionality’, but rather something more limited to the head-space. Another thing that came up by chance was a somatic anchor on the tip of the tongue, touching the palate. It feels slightly sweet. This calms the mind.
Aug 9: 80’ + 50’. In the first session (80') I continued Noting with 4 labels, where Feel also includes the somatic part of the emotions, which were absent throughout the session, except for a brief agitation in the first minutes. It was a duller session than yesterday, with relatively fewer unconscious thoughts and a couple of thought-chain distractions.
(Clarification: I consider a session to be dull if few or no unconscious thoughts are seen. It may also happen that concentration could be strong enough so that thoughts don’t emerge, but that kind of concentration usually doesn’t last more than 15 minutes and in the exit of a deep concentration, usually unconscious thoughts emerge. So it’s easy to call if the mind is dull or not.)
I observed two probable causes of this duller session: (1) I lengthened the times of each note to more than 5 seconds, neglecting other emerging sensations; (2) I maintained a dull observation of visual sensations.
Dullness seems to emerge faster from the visual than from the somatic or auditory senses. The tip of the tongue continued to serve as the somatic anchor of the mind. In the last 30 minutes I shortened the notes. All in all, this was another session where I was discovering the fine tuning of vipassana-samatha. After 60 minutes I changed the position of my legs, because it was already starting to get uncomfortable.
In the second session (50'), the most relevant thing was to discover that in order for the visual sense not to fall into dullness, it is to intensify the visual, detecting color variations on the visual screen, light fibers or the intermittence of nimitta. I also noticed that if I want to explore the sensations that refer to the self in the head-space, then I must suspend Noting, because it is impossible for me to maintain both practices. In the last 10 minutes I suspended Noting and explored physical sensations in the eyes, Third Eye, and Crown Chakra.
Aug 10: 90' (changed legs at 60'). This time I started the session by dedicating the first 10-15 minutes to The 3Cs, because I had the feeling that I was overlooking several things, before moving on to Noting with 4 labels. The feeling is that Choiceless Awareness (and Noting with 4 labels) is more comprehensive but superficial, that looking at 3Cs in particular goes deeper. In fact, strong emotional memories surfaced today, which were not observed for a long time.
Seeing Dukkha in Anicca or Anicca in Dukkha is easy. What I see is that it is not so simple to perceive Anatta in Anicca or in Dukkha. I can observe Anatta in my thoughts, but it is not obvious to me in my body, probably because QiGong, martial arts and other practices had already made me link between intention and physical sensation visible. Thinking about it, the implicit assumption that I believe I have is that in the chain of causality, at some point there was some mental intention that subsequently triggered a physical sensation xyz. The fact that occasionally I can observe that the energy hits some bone or that the body posture accommodate itself while I meditate, that does not mean that Anatta's insight has penetrated deeply with respect to Anicca. Those are just experiences.
When I did Noting with 4 labels, after a while I observed that it is useless to label "See" because in reality the sensation of observing has the sensation of "Feel" (touch) attached. And every time I label a physical sensation in the body, there is a visual/spatial visualization that tells me in which area of the body it occurs. So before a feeling-tone occurs, it is already possible to observe that See + Feel come in tandem. Perhaps at some point in High-EQ or bordering on a deep jhana each sensation can be observed separately, but in my meditation experience that does not happen.
A comic/ironic thing that happens during meditation is that when I am actually enjoying the ability to observe physical sensations and the unconscious (choppy) mind-flow, just a little while afterwards the mind enters a greater stability, all kinds of thoughts disappear (awareness remains ), the space in front is more transparent, etc. Here maybe is Anatta acting, not letting me even enjoy the feeling of self-control (equanimity) of not trying to control anything LOL!