Brandon's Practice Log

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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Brandon's Practice Log

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I've been considering starting a practice log for awhile. I've decided to make it a mix of posts on this forum that go into a bit more phenomenology that Dhoers will appreciate, and links to my personal blog where I am going to writing about my experiences for a broader audience. Although I'm trying to exercise restratint, you'll notice a certain evangelical tone in the writing.

To start I wanted to share my account of my A&P experience, and how it has seemed to alleviate most of my symptoms of depression. In a future post I'll talk about how the experience led me to discover MCTB, the POI and DhO.

https://brandondayton.com/blog/2020/1/22/crossing-the-threshold
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Dissolution of Craving

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I experienced for the first time what appeared to be the dissolution of a craving or compulsion. I was putting my son to bed, and I usually sit on the floor as he is falling asleep and do some noting. I had been playing a video game on his 2DS for the past few weeks and it had become a bit of a compulsion. A common pattern for me is to have a compulsion, to know it's not a good idea to follow it and to either resist it succesfully or to just accept that I am going to give in to it. The third alternative that I had experienced through meditation was to sit with a compulsion until it just eventually faded way. That night, however, I had basically accepted that I would give into the compulsion. 

As I was sitting, I paid attention to what I felt in my body as the compulsion arose. I felt a tightness and ache in my chest. The more closely I paid attention to it, the more it felt like a deep, aching sadness. I started to well with emotion, and just as the tears were about to flow I could feel this aching sadness break apart and dissolve. After that, the compulsion was gone and I just went to bed.

It's the first time I've felt anything like this. It felt very much like the metaphor I've heard before of suffering being like a hot coal that you're holding on to, but as soon as you recognize that, you just drop it. It has also given me some insight into how seemingly harmless activities can have suffering at their core. Even when you are doing something that is "not hurting anybody else" you can still be hurting yourself in subtle but problematic ways.

It's also started to make me much more interested and aware of emotions arising in my body. That's something that is very new to me. I've become very familiar with gross body sensations, and I'm starting to gain some skill with picking apart thoughts, but I am little by little starting to become aware of the manifestations of my emotional world. The heart area seems to be the center of lots of activity lately. Mostly a feeling of tightness or aching. This is interesting to me, since the heart area is where all the fireworks were happening during my A&P experience and my meditation teacher afterwards admonished me to pay attention to where I felt it. I honestly had not given that area of my body much attention since then, but I'm starting to see more and more happening there.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Metta and Concentration

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
For the most part my practice of late has been less focused, more restless and in general more difficult. Post A&P, I was getting up at 5:30 almost every morning for an hour of practice. I'm still committed to an hour a day, but it has been bumpier. From what the maps say and what others have observed, it seems like I'm squarely within dissolution. If the length of my A&P window is any indicator, its likely to last quite a while, unless I've dropped down to a pre A&P state. That's still a part of the maps I don't understand. Clearly, it is common to cycle up the POI, miss Stream Entry and fall back down, but I haven't found good information on the details of how and when "dropping down" happens (a good question for a dedicated thread). Nonetheless, practice is what it is. Sometimes it feels focused and energetic, other times it doesn't. I can work on equanimity either way.

On advice of the teacher at the last weekend retreat I did, I'm trying to integrate more metta into my practice to keep my insight practice from being too dry. At first I was gung-ho about metta, and I was feeling some really powerful, warm feelings at first, but I've noticed the feelings lately aren't as strong, metta feels more like a chore, and its harder to keep my focus. Perhaps just part of a maturing metta practice. I did pick up Salzberg's Loving-Kindness as a reference. Hopefully that will be a helpful guide.

I'm also adding in more concetration work, just working on breath. This morning's session was all concentration and it felt like the right place to be. I'm thinking I'll spend the rest of this week with a bit of metta to start, followed by concentration. Many sources here and elsewhere have recommended concentration and metta as a good fit for the DN. I guess its time to start taking that advice seriously.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Discovering the POI

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
My account of discovering MCTB and the POI. 

https://brandondayton.com/blog/2020/2/5/wtf-just-happened
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Back to Basics

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Just spent a week on vacation with family. It ended up being the biggest stretch of time I've gone without meditation in the last 6 months. I was a bit frustrated by that. I wish I had made more effort to do some everyday, even if it was a little bit. It leaves me feeling a bit concerned about keeping a steady commitment.

Now trying to get practice back up and going again. Did an hour of concentration practice this morning that began with some metta. Maybe its the time off the cushion by my concentration felt soft. Lots of getting lost in thought. It feels a bit like being a beginner again, although clearly the ability to sit for an hour whether with good concentration or not shows I haven't lost as much ability as I thought. Nonetheless, the beginner feeling is kind of fun. I feel a bit like I'm in meditation lab and testing the practice again. Let's see how it goes to start from a place of weak concentration and work back up to something stronger. 

I'm thinking of spending a few weeks to a month on concentration, maybe with additional noting sessions here and there, and then flip the balance back to an emphasis on noting. 

I'm still making my way through Salzberg's Loving-Kindness and doing a little bit of work every day on metta. I've had a really good experience with mudita practice and need to remember to tie that in to my daily metta practice.
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Che Guebuddha, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Back to Basics

Posts: 65 Join Date: 8/19/11 Recent Posts
Have you ever considered to find a technique to practice off the cushion? A non formal practice you do instead of sitting on the computer or at least 10 minutes before you go into the computer (or TV time). 

yes getting lost in meditation is a common thing if one has not found a way to keep at it non-stop easier. 
I used to get lost into narratives when doing concentration practice or even more so in simple Calm abiding Shamata. 

ive found that Noting Aloud worked really good in destroying hindrances and keeping me 99-100% in the present moment , noting sensation after sensation without breaking the noticing stream of awareness or what ever you wanna call it. 

looking in an honest way it is likely that we are actually mindful during a sitting formal practice only 10-50% and lost the rest of the time. And this 10-50% might be chopped up into small portions of actual determined mindfulness. This like trying to dig a water whole 10 meters deep but we dug 10 holes 1 meter deep and yet we haven't reached the water. 

maybe of more benefit to keep a steady stream of awareness for 10 minutes but actually being mindful of all the sensations arising and passing. 
Noting Aloud seems to do exactly this for me. 

such 10 minutes invested will be more fruitful than 60 minutes of on and off being lost and distracted or even just resting in certain experiences. 
sitting on a chair in front of the computer is as good of a place as any. 

this is my experience of course. Just sharing a possibility. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Back to Basics

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for the ideas. I try to do as much informal practice throughout the day as I can, and my success varies from day to day. My general approach is to ask myself throughout the day if what I am doing requires me to actively think, or if I can use that mental bandwidth to do some noting instead.

I've also done a bit of vocal noting, per instructions from Shinzen Young's See Hear Feel, but that is something I could really do more of. I certainly feel like I am in a phase of practice that requires more commitment, and in general it seems like I need to bring in more energy to make that happen. Some vocal noting could be a good fit. Today is a Saturday too, so a good opportunity to do some informal practice with all the household chores!
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Che Guebuddha, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Back to Basics

Posts: 65 Join Date: 8/19/11 Recent Posts
Brandon Dayton:
Thanks for the ideas. I try to do as much informal practice throughout the day as I can, and my success varies from day to day. My general approach is to ask myself throughout the day if what I am doing requires me to actively think, or if I can use that mental bandwidth to do some noting instead.

I've also done a bit of vocal noting, per instructions from Shinzen Young's See Hear Feel, but that is something I could really do more of. I certainly feel like I am in a phase of practice that requires more commitment, and in general it seems like I need to bring in more energy to make that happen. Some vocal noting could be a good fit. Today is a Saturday too, so a good opportunity to do some informal practice with all the household chores!
Yeah that sounds fantastic. You seem to have a very clear sense of dirrection and some fine practice for it all. I like you mentioning that "mental bandwidth" emoticon so true. Good stuff! 

Im now trying to look at that "energy" we need to invest the same as what I need to get up my lazy ars and start that hoover to clean up our home emoticon I mean to get up and take into my hands and keep at it for the duration of the entire cleaning. Seems to give good results. So determination and resolve will inevitably get some energy fired up. I find that energy comes out of actually doing Noting. At some stage its on Fire how much energy there is but thats to the cycles Dissolution will come about with its cooling effect , ahhhhhhh lovely emoticon 

My opinion is that you are onto somthing of benefit here. Maybe others might add more to this thread in case Im gone astray as some might have more clarity about this than I. The only reason I responded to your thread is that there were so many views and no one replied. I wish someone with more wisdom would chime in.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Back to Basics

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I appreciate the response. That's the main reason I am blogging about my practice and keeping a log here -- to gain support from others in my practice (if it can help others too, that's cool). Being a lone practicioner can only take you so far, and I find great benefit from support of the Sangha in whatever form it takes. I've got a local group I meet with weekly, they are a fantastic group, but they are a more standard IMS/Spirit Rock type of group, so not so much nitty gritty discussion about practice. I actually shared a segment from Deconstructing Yourself at our last sit where Kenneth Folk and Michael Taft were talking about mindfulness with the group and there were some strong negative reactions (although they were all very gracious to me about it.). So this forum plays an important role for me as a place where I can really get into the details of practice with a group that is on board with the POI model of things.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Back to Basics

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
More metta followed by concentration practice this morning, with a bit of a diversion mid-practice to pay attention to the sensations in my chest. Been paying much more attention to the heart center lately. Listened to John Prendergast on Deconstructing Yourself talking about doing heart work. Much of it was over my head, but I feel a strong pull to pay attention to this area.

I had another moment of awareness of the connection between complulsion and the heart center. I was getting ready to do some dishes and was about to turn on some music. I felt a tightness and ache that was very similar to what I felt working with my video game compulsion. There was something that just felt painful in my heart about listening to music, and I ended up listening to a podcast instead. It don't really understand what was going on, but it is becoming an increasingly compelling area of investigation.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Back to Basics

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Practice feels very ordinary lately. The feeling of being a beginner seems to persist. I listened to the Guru Viking interview with Stephen Snyder yesterday and he talked about how the arc of practice has a quality of expansion and contraction. He likened it to an accordion. It's interesting to think of how that concept jives with the POI. I'm certainly feeling a contraction of late. Much more aversion to practice and a much stronger feeling of dukkha off the cushion -- just more uneasy, tense, skin crawly feelings, which of course I'm feeling in the heart area as well.

I'm trying to use it as an opportunity, and thinking of it as if I was lifting weights at the gym. The difficulty is just like an increase in the weight. I'm practicing staying calm and relaxing through restlessness. Fortunately the challenge is not too large, and the increase in difficulty seems manageable. Still doing a solid hour of practice per day, plus opportunistic practice throughout the day -- primarily as I'm sitting in my son's room waiting for him to fall asleep.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

experiencing piti?

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I've been listening to dharma talks from Tina Rasumussen and Stephen Snyder lately. It's a good fit since I am working on the Brahmaviharas and concentration and most of their talks are on the Brahmaviharas and Jhanas. This week I've adopted their metta phrases in my practice, and I've just been working on directing the metta to myself. The general phrasing they use is:

May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I be happy
May my mind be at ease
May I be liberated

As they describe it, this order follows up the chakras, which I really like. Before hearing their dharma talk on the topic, I found myself stumbling on to this pattern a bit naturally. I was ending my metta with "may I be safe" and in a moment of mind blip I switched it to "may I be free" and it just felt better. After finding their phrase order, it clicked why ending with "may I be free" felt better.

I started my meditation this morning with metta, based on this pattern, and found myself getting into a very deeply concentrated and pleasant state. I was wondering if I had veered out of metta territory into mantra. Not sure if that's a diversion or not.

After some time with the metta, I switched to concentration on the breath.  Rasmussen and Snyder recommend doing a strict anapanasati where you focus on the area under the nose. Snyder has described the practice as not focusing on the sensations on the skin, but on the movement of the breath through the area, as if you are a toll collector on a road. I don't think I quite understand how to do this, as I felt like I had a hard time finding what to focus on. Finally, I just directed my focus to the sensations of the breathing that I could clearly perceive, and again found myself getting into a deeply pleasent and concentrated state. I'm wondering if what I am feeling is piti. I found it to be very pleasent and energizing, which sounds similar to how I've heard it described. The concentration actually lingered for about 10 minutes after the sit, and even now I find it fairly easy to drop into.

Maybe all this metta and concentration practice is paying off.

Also discussing commitment on another thread:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/18771890

I think it's time to make a new resolve to practice, based on suggestions from the thread. This is the form my resolve will take:

I will resolve to practice a mimimum of 30 minutes per day, but will schedule my practice in such a way that I will have the option to do an hour or more at one time. If I do not practice in the morning, I will practice in the evening as I put my children to bed. There is never a good reason to skip practice.

When not on the cushion, I will find as many activities during the day where I can practice noting -- dishes, laundry, cooking, exercise, showering ect. Throughout the day I will ask myself, "What is happening right now?" I will pay attention to what is happening, I will notice any resistance and surrender to whatever is happening in the moment.

I will keep a log of my practice and attend weekly meditation sessions with my local sangha.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: experiencing piti?

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Sounds great. I look forward to reading you log. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Just Concentration

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Just worked on concentration yesterday. No Metta. Was able to do almost a full hour. Concentration was pretty good. Did quite a bit of counting the breaths and there were micro mind wanderings, but not for more than a breath or two. Over the last few days I've noticed that mind-wandering gets more frequent the longer I'm sitting. I guess this has to do with the exhaustion of sitting. It's been interesting to work on bringing my focus back towards the end of the session. I conceptualize this like doing those last couple of reps at the gym, except without the striving effort. I wonder if it works in a similar way -- the work done in the second half of my sit, when concentration is harder, does more to improve my concentration than the easy stuff I do at the beginning.

I also just finished Braun's The Birth of Insight which traces the origins of modern Insight practice back to the innovations of Ledi Sayadaw. The first 3/4 of the book or more is about his scholarly work and his translations of the Abbidhamma for the laity that preceded his later emphasis on lay meditation. The book is pretty dry and scholarly itself, but gets most interesting when it gets into meditation territory and starts to explore the tradtition of meditation among the monastics and how Ledi began to decouple concentration practice from insight, which was later continued by Mahasi Sayadaw and has continued in contemporary approaches. Oddly enough, it ended up being a nice confirmation of the work I'm doing with concentration. I'd been wondering exactly how to interface concentration practice with vipassana and I felt like the descriptions of the practices he taught were helpful. He also recommded 3-4 hours of practice today. Not sure I'll be able to fit that in any time soon.

It also made me curious to delve a bit into the abbidhamma, as the practices he recommended were very deeply rooted in the Abbidhamma. In particular he used the basis of the four elements for vipassana practice where he noted the quality of fire (temperature), wind (movement), earth (direct contact) and water (integrity) in every sensation. I played with this a bit in my evening vipassana sit. I wonder if there are any contemporary practicioners that use a similar method. I see the value in the simplification of the Mahasi method and the even further simplification of Shizen's method, but I like having the tools to get more granular and specific. It seems that even in noting, the language used can determine what you are able to perceive and how your perceive.

I'm gonna continue with concentration and metta for a bit more, but I'm excited to start focusing more on vipassana again. I'll have to think through how to keep a finger on concentration and metta once I make that transition.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

The Grind

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Sat for an hour last night during my daughter's ballet class and another hour this morning. Both sits felt like a grind. I know that's not the best terminology to use to describe meditation, but that's how they felt -- they were tough. The sit last night was tough. Just focused on concentration and had to relax through a lot of bodily discomfort. This may have to do with the fact that I was doing my sit in an unusual spot -- an alcove bench in the corner of a university building. At the very least, I felt proud of being able to sit calmly through all of it. Well, almost. I finallly fidgeted with about four minutes to go. Had some moments of good concentration here and there, but I was very happy to be done.

This morning, I might have just been sleepy, but I felt like I had big lapses in concentration. I started with metta and transitioned into concentration. I feel almost like my body is pulling me to vipassana. Maybe its time to switch back, or to let my mind meditate itself more. I was listening to a dharma talk the other day where Joseph Goldstein recommends flowing back and forth between concentration on breath and broader noting practice as you feel inclined in a single practice. Maybe there is too much effort in my practice and I need to ease up and let it be what it wants to be.

Where am I on the Progress of Insight, by the way? I have no idea.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Vipassana Time

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Did the same drill this morning: metta then concentration. Practice was erratic. Lots of mind wandering. With 22 minutes do go I decided to switch to vipassana and only did that for another 10 minutes before I got so restless I quit.

Kind of grumpy and irritable afterwards. I'm feeling like my diversion into metta and concentration has come to an end for now and I'm feeling drawn back to having a bigger focus on vipassana. Maybe I'll find time for another sit for today.

Reading through Travis's log right now https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14271890

I
'm finding it inspiring and encouraging to return to vipassana. Practice has been erratic and difficult for quite a while now and I am continually focusing on relaxing into what it is, but I have to admit that it is challenging. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Vipassana Time

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I keep saying I'm gonna switch back to noting practice, but I've been sticking with concentration for the last couple of days. I picked up Leigh Braisington's Right Concentration book and I've realized that my concentration is actually making good progress. While its not totally consistent I have frequent sessions where my concetration matches his description of Access Concentration. I've had a least a couple of sessions where I've had a strong upwelling of piti, but I'm not sure if I would call it First Jhana. I think I need to keep my attention with the piti a bit longer to get there.

This morning was an hour with probably the first 10 minutes dedicated to metta and the rest on concentration. Concentration seems to be a much more fragile practice and requires a different approach than noting. This morning I was very comfortable and relaxed and the practice seemed to come much easier.

I still want to find some time for noting. I'll see if I can fit an hour in this afternoon. There should be plenty of opportunity for informal practice today as well.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Vipassana Time

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I keep saying I'm gonna switch back to noting, but the concentration practice is starting to get stronger and stronger. I had a restless night of sleep last night and ended up waking up around 4am, and finally decided to get out of bed around 5:30. I sat, but my mind was racing and I was restless. I was trying to do concentration, but kept losing my focus.

I experimented with switching between noting and metta, to see if one of them was a better fit for my mind-set. The restlessness was still there. Finally, I thought I'd try doing a Do Nothing sit. I just dropped everything, and suddenly got super relaxed and alert. I stayed there for awhile, but found my attention naturally sliding to the breath. It made me realize that there was a tension to my focus before that was making me restless. It's one of those things where I had heard others describe the idea of tightness around a thought, or tightness in the concentration itself, but this is the first time I think I really could feel that. As soon as I was able to relax my mind and my focus everything got much easier and my concentration became very tranquil and continuous. As I noticed distractions arising in my mind, I could sense a tightness around them and could consciously let them go by relaxing the space around the thoughts and impressions. It felt like I discovered a new little trick to concentration.

A very interesting discovery. More and more I am finding my practice in a place where the right approach is to not try and make the practice something but to relax and let the practice emerge. Very fun to start to gain these subtle insights into the mind as well.

I've been reading quite a few logs lately, and it's interesting to read the more advanced logs and how bizarre they can sound, but then to also read others at an earlier stage working through many of the same issues I am. I can start to see how the two ends connect. How, little by little small insights into the nature of the mind can lead to dramatic perceptual changes.

Honestly, all the bizarre stuff sounds pretty cool. The idea that I can increasingly have access to those types of experiences is one of the things that keeps me motivated. Reading all the very regular stuff is also a great motivator. It's encouraging to see that there are others working their way through the path.

  
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Was that First Jhana?

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Doing concentration practice today. Concentration was okay, not amazing, but I was def. feeling some pleasent feelings in the midst of it. I was thinking about the instructions from Right Concentration on turning the attention to the piti to get to First Jhana. I was holding off because I kept telling myself my concentration wasn't strong enough yet, but for whatever reason I felt confidence in swithching to the piti and finally made the jump. 

I felt like I was able to stick with it pretty well and I could feel the piti slowly surging as I kept the concentration. At one point, I think I realized that I was mostly focusing on the sukkha (the happy feeling) and tried to and tried to narrow in on the giddiness of the piti. As I did so I could feel it really swell and I had a giant grin break out on my face, which was actually broke my concentration a bit. I was also getting sexually aroused, which was distracting because of the physical senstations but also the confusion about whether or not that should be happenning.

The piti died down and a returned to my breath. When I switch to piti, the breath always feels very soft and pleasent afterwards and my concentration is stronger. So maybe making these jumps to piti is not a bad way to reinforce the concentration. I did a bit of back and forth from breath to piti to wrap up the session. 

Somehow I was able to maintain the concentration while my cat was scratching at the door, but I got up super mindfully, let her in and decided to do a bit of walking meditation with noting.

As promised, the high level of concentration made the vipassana work very clear and sharp. Faces almost seemed to pop out of the the wood grain, and visually everything seemed very crisp, almost like I was on a micro-dose of mushrooms. I slowly walked down to my basement, all of my perceptions feeling super sensitive. I crossed the floor of my basement and on the opposite side of the room. I felt the piti welling again. I returned my attention to the piti and this time it was explosive. I got a huge surge of euphoria that felt orgasmic. In my mind, I'm like "This is it! This is it! First Jhana baby! It was super energetic and I felt my breathing get fast and shallow and the sexual arousal again. It peaked and then dissipated.

I think the noveltly of it and being distracted by all of the sensations might have made me lose my concentration, but I was mostly just super excited about it.

Now I'm left kind of concerned that the intensity of the experience will lead to too much craving or expectation, but maybe it'll also just be a good motivator to get back on the cushion.
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John W, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Was that First Jhana?

Posts: 383 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Hey Brandon enjoyed reading some of your logs. Sounds like we're going through some similar experiences. I too have notice the ebb and flow or cycling between periods of increased concentration/positive feeling vs. distraction/unpleasant feeling. For me it seems that these cycle every 1-2 weeks.  
Something I am trying this go-round is to be less concerned with the highs (the blissful states etc), letting them happen but not get too sucked into them (even though it can be fun as hell!).  I think this might help get through the negative states and make real progress vs. continued cycling.

To me what you describe here sounds like more of an A&P event, I think of 1st Jhana as being a calm concentration state where it's just easier to focus on an object.  I could be wrong there.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Was that First Jhana?

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks John,

I suspected A&P too, since it was so unstable. Hitting a second A&P would a be a good sign as it would mean I am not stuck in some endless dissolution, as I suspected before, but hopefully can get moving through more frequent cycles and getting a better sense of the territory. Also, it does feel good, which is nice relief.

At the same time, it was the result of following the specific instructions that are suppossed to lead you to First Jhana. Leigh Braisingtion does describe it as being a euphoric and intense feeling, sometimes so intense that it can be uncomfortable. His description of it actually has a lot of overlap with descritptions of the A&P. That's what makes me wonder. 
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John W, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Was that First Jhana?

Posts: 383 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Ah, nice... I'll have to check out that book. I did have an experience like that a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was A&P since it was intense and unstable.
I've been thinking 1st Jhana is a much more subtle state that you can access more predictably but may also have undertones of euphoria and calm. A&P being more of the "yes, this is it!" type feeling. But again I might be way off-base.
I think they can be overlapping sometimes which makes it even more confusing. If it's anything like what I experienced I felt pretty subdued for the next few days after that...
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Flirting with First Jhana

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
My sits that last couple of days have been very similar -- concentration on breath, I start sensing piti, then I move my attention on to the piti.

Oddly enough, it seems like jumping to piti early and then coming back to the breath really supercharges my concentration. I find the second half of my sits to mostly be jumping back and forth from piti to breath and trying to sort out the varying senstations, and how I relate to them effects their quality. Mostly just trying to relax and keep my concentration on the piti, but it's not always a stable sensation, and I'm not always sure if I'm concentrating on the right thing or not. Is it that pleasent tingling in my face, or the subtle sense of giddiness attached to the tingling? Trying to see if I can be aware of the sukha in all of this too.

Can't say I've really hit First Jhana in the last few sessions, but it seems inevitable.

My sits are also going much longer. I can do an hour plus with ease.

I'm interested in my motivations at this point. I was struggling with noting, frustrated by trying to see what, if any progress was happenning, and now I've turned my attention to concentration where, after a month's time, I'm seeing results. I'm really enjoying the practice and the fun of the concentration and piti is winning out on noting right now. Maybe I'll naturally return to noting when the time is right. I still try to find time to note off the cushion, but it really isn't the same.

Am I avoiding opening up to all the hard stuff that you have to face with noting? Not sure. Learning to acceptance an equanimity is a big part of what I want from meditation, but I'm curious to see the role that Jhana might play in all of this.

On a side note, a spot opened to do some coaching with Michael Taft and I'm wondering if this would be a good time to check in with a teacher.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Playing ping-pong with Practice

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
A bit longer of a log as the change in routine has been a bit disruptive. Hope to get back to more regular entries.

I've been happy with the decision to focus on concentration for the past two months. I'm finding the benefits as advertised:

A. Concentration just feels really good, and really good in lots of different ways. Still dont' know if I've landed any Jhanas, but just gaining some familiarity with piti and learning how to cultivate it is fun and sustainable.

I'm also discovering another state that I think is Jhana related. I have one state in particular that I landed in the past week, but that I know I've landed 5 or 6 times in the past (but didn't have the Jhana terminology at the time to recognize it). While concentrating on breath, the breath suddenly gets very quiet and perceptually "small". Things get very tranquil and my visual field opens up and fills my attention. My body and breath are still there but they feel like they drop down underneath my attention space. It's maybe almost like I'm floating a bit above the sensations of my body. It feels fairly easy to just hang out in this state for awhile until it seems to naturally unwind.

B. I feel more confidence as I return to noting practice. Not that the practice even feels that great. I had quite a bit of discomfort last night as I was noting, but I feel like the concentration I bring to the practice allows me to sit through it with greater calm and openess. Oddly, after doing some noting, when I switch back to concentration mid-practice, it feels like getting shot out of cannon -- my concentration surges back and is very smooth, strong and pleasant. If find myself increasingly switching back and forth mid practice and playing with what happens.

Other interesting notes from recent practice:

I'm playing more and more with a trick that becomes helpful when I'm getting lost in thought. There is a specific type of getting-lost-in-thought that happens as I try to count breaths. I get very concentrated on the breath, almost in a way that is too tight, and it leads to restlessness and mind wandering. I find if I stop trying to follow the breath and just do a Do Nothing sit for a bit that my concentration relaxes, my attention opens up and after a few minutes I can ease back into the breath. I think it helps because of how it helps me to keep my concentration broader and more relaxed. If I can take in the periphery and gently follow the breath in the center of it all, things seem to go better.

I recently found Kenneth Folk's book-in-progress due to the recommendations of others on DhO and started digging into it. Reading Kenneth's life story was a particularly good reminder of the path I have taken -- that they end goal is awakening, and in my particular phase the proximate goal is Stream Entry. I've been a bit pouty over the last few months that as a married guy with kids that I don't have the bandwidth to do the retreat time I would like to but something about reading Kenneth's story emboldened me that I can do it. I have to remember people like Dipa Ma that demonstrated that you could make progress in the midst of regular life, but it does take dedication and commitment. This is the path I'm on. The second I crossed the A&P it was a fata compli. Part of walking the path is accepting the path as it presents itself in my life and embracing it for what it is. Along those lines I've decided to try and start doing two 45 minute sessions a day and work from there. The morning session would be a concentration session and the evening would be noting, but I would allow for fluidity and experimentation.

I'm starting to think that I've been mapping my noting practice wrong. I had a big glorious A&P that was luxuriously and generously long, and it put me in the mind state of thinking that I would then have these long drawn-out nanas in succession. I've been frustrated watching my practice and not seeing the  Dissolution and Fear I expected after the A&P. I now think that what is really happenning is that I am returning to 0 with every sit and working my way up the ladder. Last night I sat down, was having fun with noting and then things got painful and restless. I've realized that I've experienced a lot of this pain in my noting over the last several months and that it might actually be the 3C's stage of things. With the practice I've put into concentration I feel like I was able to relax much more into the pain that I have in the past. After a while the pain started to dissipate and things startred to feel good again, I felt like it was potentially building up to another A&P. My timer went off, and I ended up lying on floor doing concentration for a few few minutes.

It's now my working theory (holding it lightly) that I might be seeing the beginnings of cycles with each sit. I'm going to use this as my working model and see how it matches up to things as I keep moving forward. A review of Contemplative Fitness and MCTB on the first 3 might be good at this point. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Making Adjustments

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Well, the 45/45 thing didn't really work this past week. I just ended up sitting less than normal. I've decided for this week to do my regular hour sits in the morning and then try and find another time during the day that can be any length, but I do want to keep track of how much time 2nd sit is.

Did noting practice this morning. I can tell that concentration practice has helped me with relaxing into my noting practice and keeping things smooth and loving. I'm much more gentle when I get lost in thought. Otherwise fairly uneventful, just noting lots of things happening.

The uneventulness did make a doubt emerge. I have already been doing noting for several months without a sense of any change or "progress". It has basically felt the same most of the time. I've gotten better at sitting through unpleasent stuff, but other than that I don't get a sense of progressing through any of the ñanas. Maybe its just a matter of putting in more time and having some patience, but there is the lingering doubt that maybe there is a better approach that I could be taking. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Boring Boringness

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
An hour of noting this morning. Did some noting aloud and I feel like I got a sense for how to make that work. I did find that with noting aloud I miss some of the granularity of what is going on. I would switch back and forth, noting aloud when attention wavered and switching back to silent when concentration increased.

Concentration and tranquility are pretty good. There is a sense of "Is this it?" There isn't the same easy pay-off as there is with pure concentration. It feels pretty boring and uneventful.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Ok, something is happening

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Did an additional 45 minutes after dinner last night and probably 10 to 15 minutes while putting my son to bed. For whatever reason, my motivation has increased. Maybe it's the benefits of concentration and metta. I feel much more capable of relaxing and concentrating. It could also be reading Contemplative Fitness and Saints and Psychopaths. There is matter-of-fact quality to their descriptions of awakening that is emboldening.

Did another hour this morning. I had a sense again of an imminent coming-up of some sort. As soon as I noticed it it kind of dissipated. Maybe an A&P  on the horizon. Dunno.

Noting is certainly more taxing than pure concentration. I have to be intentional about relaxing and opening up to keep from getting too tense or rattled by the exhaustion. As advertised, the noting out-loud has also proven to be good at working through the defilements. I like to go to it when I’m getting too spacey, drowsy, restless or confused.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Ok, something is happening

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Yes, Noting is more taxing only because you are more Gaining. emoticon 

Btw, in my experience strong samadhi arises at times during noting. Noting Aloud also acts as a Mantra really. Using calm voice , as Shinzen is suggesting can help get into a more calm and concentrated state but at time this will not happen no matter what you do emoticon In that case there is only Note fast and Acceptance of what is. That too shall pass (unless I cling to it with aversion or desire). 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Ok, something is happening

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Do you change the pace of your noting or do you keep a pretty steady pace as you go? Sometimes I notice I get aware of a rush of quick sensations, and I start noting them all quickly in succession, and then kind of lose the thread.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Ok, something is happening

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"Anicca never takes a day off and has no lunch break" is a good reminder to have emoticon seriously all is changing. I never try to control the pace, I just do it and also Note this very intention I might have to start with. 

You will see that in the start there will always be some C&E in form of a jerky interplay between Intention and Object/s. This is usually the stage of trying to find a "proper" pace emoticon You cant. Just keep noting all that jerkiness and its utter unpleasantness. You are not in control any way. You are here to watch a teatre show!

That being said, NOTING PACE will change and get either very fast or maybe even very slow. Now, interesting is that when Noting Aloud is very slow and calm there is much more silent noticing going on inbetween the Aloud Noting. Or if there is fast noting aloud then the voice becomes more of a Fast Mantra-like and can be more of a whisper aloud noting even during the inbreath (try it this is possible when you whisper while breathing in. I find this to take place in A&P and then suddenly drops down into slow and chilled out Dissolution. Here you relax again and Noting pace gets slower.

I see our job to be in the very present. If there is expectation about certain stuff then NOTE "EXPECTATION" as this is PRESENT. "should I keep a same pace?" Note either "uncertainty" or "doubt" even if that is the case.

When thigs get WAY TOO confusing ALWAYS re-start the practice by returning back to the Body Sensations. Stop, take a deep breath and ask "Am I mindful right now? Let me see ... " and Noting goes on again; coolness, heat, itching, vibrations ...

Sorry if Im rubbling too much. Hope I've answered your question.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Ok, something is happening

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
That's helpful. Starting to see more and more ways that I'm over-thinking it and lots of subtle stuff going on that I wasn't aware of. Trying to settle in to paying attention to what's there, whatever it is.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

meh

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Did an hour in the afternoon yesterday. Afternoons are usually a guarantee of lots of drowsiness and spaciness, this time was no different, but it felt different. I noted the drowsiness and spaciness, and let it runs its course without fighting it. I felt like I was falling into some hypnogogic states but I was able to stay aware and concentrated through all of it.


Another hour this morning. Switching back and forth between noting aloud and noting silently. I feel like noting aloud makes me more aware of the stream-of-consciousness succession of sensations, and tends to be broader and coarser while with silent noting my attention gets more granular and I can see more details. Lots of getting spacey during both modes. Starting to note the spaciness along with things like boredom, urges (particularly to check the clock or quit), doubts, frustration ect. That stuff is much more subtle. I am aware it's there, but its so fleeting that I can't really perceive many details such as location in my body or shape before it's gone.

Gonna try and get in another session this afternoon. Maybe 45 minutes or so.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Jhana Comes A Callin'

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Hour-long noting sesh this morning, but sat down with an energetic feeling of faith to start. I thinik that's mostly from reading through Chris Marti's logs yesterday. Nothing like reading an account of Stream Entry to 4th path in the course of eight months to make the path feel very real and wide open.

Doing mostly verbal noting. Switching between eyes closed, eyes open and testing out silent noting v. verbal. About twenty minutes in I start to feel a sense of rest, quiet and tranquility between sensations. I start noting the tranquility and after a few notes in sequence the feeling expands to fill my awareness.

I don't have enough experiences with Jhanas to know this definitively, but this feels like a Jhana. My body is suffused with quiet and peace and there is a sense of open tranquil space expanding in front of me in my field of view.

This is a state I've experienced now maybe 7 times in the last 8 months. I had it happen four or five times the 2 months after my A&P experience, and it's happened now a few times since I started working on concentration, but this is the first time I've had it happen while noting.

I continued to note, although the sensations were very fuzzy and vague -- not much detail.

As I focused on the pleasent pressure sensations in my face, I could feel a welling of pleasure in the face and through the body. It's funny how the sensations in my face can feel so heavy and intense, but still pleasurable. It reminds me of the pressure and intensity I felt when I had an ear infection, but with a pleasant tone rather than the raw aversive tone from the infection. I cycled between pleasure and tranquility through the rest of the session. I kept waiting for a come-down but the tranquility was stable. Even as I'm sitting writing this now, it is still permeating everything. I'm looking out the window and it looks God-damn beautiful outside. 

I mostly kept with the noting but did take some detours and just watched the breath or settled into the tranquility. In the last 10 minutes or so I just chilled out in the good vibes. A little built of guilt that I should be noting when I was Jhanaing, but I spent the lion share of the experience noting, so not too much guilt.

Interesting note was being aware of the attachment, wanting and disatisfaction throughout the whole experience. It was subtle, but there was an urge for more -- to turn up the dial -- to become totally immersed in the feeling and to hold on to it. 

Feeling good vibes is great, but it feels like a victory to see the dukkha there too.

I like to think that there is a little magic when you read the accounts of others walking the path. I think about what I've been reading over the past few months and how I can trace the transmission of the dharma through the different accounts. Ledi to Mahasi to Hamilton to Folk/Ingram to Chris (recognizing that its not totally linear like that). I feel like I am opening a conduit to the awakening of others and feeling the flow of the dharma into my own practice. Maybe there is some truth to the Guru concept and the idea of Shaktipat in that sense. I think Chris even mentions somethings along those lines in his log.

Dunno if I will advance as far as others in this lifetime, but I feel the pull nonetheless. It feels like something I can place faith in. I don't need to try so hard. I can open up and let it unfold.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Jhana Comes A Callin'

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"Feeling good vibes is great, but it feels like a victory to see the dukkha there too."

yes emoticon being Awake really is liberating no matter what the experience is. And there is this rush from realizing this. Hence being Awake to This-ness becomes the home run! All else is just self-validating garbage that also is This-ness. All is equal under the hat of Noting.  

Nice one sais I emoticon 

 Btw, don't be disappointed if you don't awaken as Chris in 8 month time! You could awaken suddenly instead emoticon 


(I hope Chris doesn't notice me using smileys) 
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Jhana Comes A Callin'

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Brandon Dayton:
Hour-long noting sesh this morning, but sat down with an energetic feeling of faith to start. I thinik that's mostly from reading through Chris Marti's logs yesterday. . . . 

I like to think that there is a little magic when you read the accounts of others walking the path. I think about what I've been reading over the past few months and how I can trace the transmission of the dharma through the different accounts. Ledi to Mahasi to Hamilton to Folk/Ingram to Chris (recognizing that its not totally linear like that). I feel like I am opening a conduit to the awakening of others and feeling the flow of the dharma into my own practice. Maybe there is some truth to the Guru concept and the idea of Shaktipat in that sense. I think Chris even mentions somethings along those lines in his log.

Dunno if I will advance as far others in this lifetime, but I feel the pull nonetheless. It feels like something I can place faith in. I don't need to try so hard. I can open up and let it unfold.

I spent time in a Siddha Yoga Dham in the early 80s, and shakipat from the guru was big-time there, like pentecostal-level bop-them-on-the-forehead-with-a-peacock-feather-and-they- be-gate-gate-gate. You grew up in that that LSD cult in Utah, you said, Brandon, so you know the power of set and setting in altered states, it's mama's milk to you and the whole Joe Smith bunch out there, and all their wives too. (My first wife, whom I married twice, was a Mormon, and I lived in Logan, Utah for a number of years.) I think faith is where you find it, and that, as advertsied, a mustard-seed-sized dose will do for practice, but like you say, the occasional recognizable wave of inspiration is truly sweet. The fact that whatever Mama Shakti gave you, and however it was transmitted, moved you to feel that much more deeply that your practice is trustworthy, and that you can relax a degree or two, open up, and let it unfold---- that speaks for itself.

You were talking about pace up higher there, and for what it's worth, I have found that pace in the iteration of your technique can make a huge difference, and that it is often counterintuitive--- i.e., when it is most overwhelming and the obvious move is pedal to the metal, it sometimes happens that easing off on the gas is what does the trick. Like music, too, the tempo can change the song in qualitative ways, same notes, different beat.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Jhana Comes A Callin'

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
(My first wife, whom I married twice, was a Mormon, and I lived in Logan, Utah for a number of years.) 

Lol, it's all connected. Is there an X-file emoji?

Thanks for the thought on pace. I've noticed it kind of shifts naturally, but I'll play a bit with making intentional adjustments and see how it goes.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Jhana Comes A Callin'

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
(My first wife, whom I married twice, was a Mormon, and I lived in Logan, Utah for a number of years.) 

Damnit, this is unsettling.

Logan, UT is a beautiful place. I lived in Brigham City, a very small, desert-y little town west of Logan (and not in the mountains) that has one major claim to fame: it's close to the Golden Spike Monument, where the east met the west, railroad style.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Jhana Comes A Callin'

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Brandon Dayton:


Thanks for the thought on pace. I've noticed it kind of shifts naturally, but I'll play a bit with making intentional adjustments and see how it goes.

The pace thing has meant the most to me in the dukha nanas, and most especially when i am close to panic and inclined to flood the engine with gas. It is especially good the worse it gets, and in Disgust it leads to the kind of thing you were noticing, of being more at peace with the goddamned practice's learning curve slope going obviously beyond one lifetime. If it's going to take eons, somehow, even mythologically speaking, there is no real sense in hurrying. I mean, an eon here, an eon there, pretty soon it starts to add up to some real long time. The practice of this moment, this iteration of the technique, this bit of reinvested faith in the 1-2-3 of your state of the art, body, breath, word/logos/ algorithm fractaling into uncountable time, sure, but also, this, and only this mustard seed of iteration. With that, you're already at Desire for Liberation, for that iteration, and often EQ comes like the next breath, so quiet that you may not even notice it for a while. And EQ is foot off the gas all the way.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
An hour of noting practice before lunch. 

Trying to hunt down the subtle things more and more. Trying to pay attention to my attitudes about practice and things like urges. Starting to catch the urge to open my eyes or to check the time. Interesting to follow the connection from the pain in my back to the urge to get up.

Got drowsy and spacy for a bit. About 45 minutes in I got a little tired with the noting and just dropped it all. Focused on the pleasant sensation of drowsiness which ended up escalating into a surging pleasureable experience. I grabbed on to that poured on the gas and it seemed to surge upwards into my forehead creating kind of a painful pressure until it subsided.

Felt like I was trying to replicate the tranquility that emerged the other day, like I was actively searching between sensations to find it. Didn't really catch it but I did get another surge of pleasure putting pressure on the forehead like before. Jhana? A&P? Not sure, but at the very least I noted the mapping, analyzing and confusion.

Finished off by chilling out with the breath then returned to noting.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Nice one!

Yeah that urge to check the timer emoticon and how noting cuts it down in its roots only to leave behind the Imagining of the timer in the mind. I place my phone a bit behind me so Im not able to see it as I practice with eyes open. At times there is this urge to check "how much" time and usually is accompanied with some preassure in the solar plexus and an image in my mind of the phone. So it goes quick, preassue in plexus, urge, unpleasant, imagining, and then attention moves to something else like itch or coolness or what ever. Practice goes on without the hindrance called restlessness. Works same with Ill will, Doubt and Sleepiness etc ... Noting really is a Plow for plowing through the hindrances emoticon Love this stuff!

And then the feeling of joy that comes up from realising that this shit works if one is on top it, tap, tap, tap, one after the other they arise and pass away ay ay ayyy emoticon 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
At times there is this urge to check "how much" time and usually is accompanied with some preassure in the solar plexus and an image in my mind of the phone.

That pretty much describes it. I'm pretty amazed by all the emotional stuff happening at the heart center. It seems to always ping or tighten any time there is something difficult, and to soften when good stuff happens.

Sometimes it's also just gas.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Feelin' Groovy

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Practice over the last few days has been solid. Some persistent themes:

1. Practice has been feeling easy and sustainable. I went into my sit on Monday deciding to act as if I was in equanimity and practice accordingly. Mostly sat quietly, doing nothing with some very slow and gentle and occasional noting.

2. I have no idea where I am on the maps, and I feel okay about that. I analyze or wonder when I practice, then I note it and move one.

3. I’m feeling more “space” in my life. I am more frequently seeing a gap between when I feel something and when I react. I’m able to watch the urges and decide what to do from there. I mostly just watch without doing anything. Last night I made a resolution to arise early to meditate even though I had stayed up a bit later. The resolution was very gentle and soft, much in contrast to “plans” I had made in the past that were always wrapped with tension, doubt and anxiety. I basically made the resolution with a “let’s see what happens.” attitude. I rose early as intended.

4. I can reliably drop into altered states. If I sit still I can quickly and intentionally open up to states of tranquility and pleasure and am able to turn the dial between the two. Not sure if that is jhana or what, but it’s there.

5. I am hopeful and enthusiastic about practice. I feel like I can see my mind changing. I still feel very normal and have up and down days, but I can see subtle differences throughout all of it.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Feelin' Groovy

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Brandon Dayton:
Practice over the last few days has been solid. Some persistent themes:

1. Practice has been feeling easy and sustainable. I went into my sit on Monday deciding to act as if I was in equanimity and practice accordingly. Mostly sat quietly, doing nothing with some very slow and gentle and occasional noting.

2. I have no idea where I am on the maps, and I feel okay about that. I analyze or wonder when I practice, then I note it and move one.

3. I’m feeling more “space” in my life. I am more frequently seeing a gap between when I feel something and when I react. I’m able to watch the urges and decide what to do from there. I mostly just watch without doing anything. Last night I made a resolution to arise early to meditate even though I had stayed up a bit later. The resolution was very gentle and soft, much in contrast to “plans” I had made in the past that were always wrapped with tension, doubt and anxiety. I basically made the resolution with a “let’s see what happens.” attitude. I rose early as intended.

4. I can reliably drop into altered states. If I sit still I can quickly and intentionally open up to states of tranquility and pleasure and am able to turn the dial between the two. Not sure if that is jhana or what, but it’s there.

5. I am hopeful and enthusiastic about practice. I feel like I can see my mind changing. I still feel very normal and have up and down days, but I can see subtle differences throughout all of it.


Wow!
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Aversion to Fear

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Have done a couple of sessions while putting the kids to bed over the last few days. The first night I was feeling lots of pain/pressure on the ridge of my nose and center of my eyebrows. That discomfort made me start to wonder if I was in the 3 characteristics phase, so I thought I'd focus on the 3 characteristics. I seemed to check things off pretty quicklly -- yup, that's impermanence, yup that's dukkha, yup that's not meeeeewhooaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAA!

Things started dissolving and getting very creepy and energetic. had a few surges of terror as things dissolved and images began emerging in my field of view. One of the things that I have been dreading has been the scary aspect of practice. I am heavily aversive to fear and am concerned about how I will navigate that particular challenge. Not suprisingly, it was tough to sit still with. I sat with it for a bit but finally tapped out at around 30 minutes and had a horrible night's sleep.

Same thing the next night. I was able to sit more calmly through some of the creepy sensations but eventually decided to call it a night. 

I did quite a bit of practice earlier in the day on the second day and had no issue with it, so I'm wondering if it's just me dipping into 3 characteristics within the context of meditating in a dark room at night. It could also be entering into the Fear phase of the POI (duh). Who the fuck knows? I see evidence of both things. I'll need more time and experience with this stuff to discern things better.

Lots of mixed feelings. Worrying about the fear. Excited about learning equanimity in the midst of fear. Excited about the scary stuff as a sign of progress. Feeling like crap 'cause I haven't slept well in the last 3 nights and I feel like garbage.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Lost in the Wilderness (but at least its a pleasant journey)

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Still haven't hit any landmarks that would indicate a difinitive place on the POI. Generally feeling like I could be somewhere pre A&P again or still slooooowly sliding through dissolution. 3C's and dissolution sound the most accurate. In contrast I don't think I've experienced anything yet that would fit the description of any of the dukka ñanas. Don't know where I am, but it certainlly still feels like I am progressing. It's rare for me to have a session where something interesting doesn't happen.

Practice today was very chill and sustainable. Taking a cue from Contemplative Fitness I tried a pre-A&P practice where I investigaged a single spot. I ended up observing the sensations on and around the bridge of my nose for about 30 minutes. Lots of flux and shifting between sensations of pressure and pulling. Some subtle pinching, pulsing, folding, and dissolving. Ocassionally I would feel smaller sensations of rattling or shivering. Just seeing it for what it is and trying not to force a particular perception.

As practice progressed I got more and more tranquil and focusing on the nose area got harder. I felt like I could have sat for a very long time. My visual field started to get much more active. This is becoming more and more common in my practice. It is still mostly the dark screen you would associate with closed eyes, but I'm seeing a lot of motion and depth within the subtle variations of dark. I get the impression of complex forms, like you would get the impression of a body part while meditating. Nothing in full folor or defined contrast, but the forms nonetheless are fascinating and complex. As an artist I feel I could easily make a representation of them. They are organic and phantasmagoric -- faces and anatomies that are constantly shifting and recombining. Practicing in the middle of the day, there is nothing scary about them, but there is certainly a part of me that is wary of how things will unfold as practice gets darker.

The last 30 minutes was just open noting. After I was done I found myself in a very tranquil state with pleasant sensations accompanying the breath. I decided to hang out with that for about 10 minutes and just stay with the breath. I wouldn't have expected it, but it seems like an hour of vipassana makes my concentration stronger.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
It seems like I was going through a period for awhile where something interesting was happening every time I sat down. Lately, it has felt very uneventful. Lots of dozing off which leads to standing up or walking meditation. Generally very lethargic in the rest of life too.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Brandon Dayton:
It seems like I was going through a period for awhile where something interesting was happening every time I sat down. Lately, it has felt very uneventful. Lots of dozing off which leads to standing up or walking meditation. Generally very lethargic in the rest of life too.


That's the ticket!
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
That's the ticket!

It probably wouldn't be much of a sign of progress if practice was always one thing or another. 

More of the same today. Drowsiness, spaciness, fogginess.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

Yup

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Okay. More of the same. Drowsiness, spaciness, restlessness. Mind wandering. wanting to get up. I thought it might be that I was not sleeping well, but I've now been having similar sessions regardless of sleep or time of day. I've practiced in the evening, in the afternoon and the morning and it seems like anything less than Papa Che recommended noting-aloud-with-eyes-open is the only thing that will keep me on track. 

This is all starting to feel very similar to how my practice was a going a few months ago. I was quite discouraged at the time, but seeing this return to such familiar attributes feels like this is a natural part of the process. I don't regret the diversion I took into concentration, but it does seem like I kinda started from 0 and worked my way back up to this.

Did I hit another A&P again, just something much less energetic then the first time? My practice previous to this was feeling pretty pleasurable and effortless, but the I can't say the phenomenology matches what MCTB or Contemplative Fitness describe. I'm not perceiving sensations breaking up into tiny little pieces or getting any sense of a literal arising and passing of things. It continues to be mostly just a lava lamp like flow of sensations.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Yup

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Dont worry about the Mapping. Kenneth Folk told me when I worked with him on my practice that he found it difficult to map me but even thats ok and one should not worry much about the maps as the maps are not the terrain. The only thing I ever needed from the Maps is the heads up on the possibility of the Dark Night after having some nice concentrated blissful meditation thinking thats all to it and that bliss is the goal. Before the knowledge of the Maps I had no idea what this practice can lead into. Its so much easier to practice and cntinue to do so when you know shit can really hit the fan at some stage emoticon and that, that too, will pass away if you really keep at it.

Keep noting that feeling tone you experience and mind states like Unpleasant, Misery, Sadness, Boredom, Restlessness, Doubt, Urge, Preassures in the body etc ... its ok if these get repetitive a lot and you think you should maybe change the words by looking at something else. Do that as well but NOTE that as well, note as Escaping, Desire, Aversion, ... and return to what is there even if that be repetitive leading into some Miserable state.

Its all food for the practice! 

Im in a very much similar state at the moment with some mixture of Jhana absorption leading me into a more laid back state and Noting Vipassana. Off the cushion (right now while writing this) I feel sadness (tearing sensation around the eys), emotional irritation which feels unpleasant, high pitch in the ears (neutral), pulsating in the head and heat (pleasant), vibrations in the hands and feet (pleasant), slight stiffness in the neck (slightly unpleasant), eye sight slightly defocused, a bit hard to follow what people tell me (need to ask them to repeat what they said). 

Practice keeps on even when its a blistering snow storm inside emoticon " Its always darkest before the dawn"
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Yup

Posts: 3875 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Kenneth Folk told me...

Four words for the ages.

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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Yup

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Kenneth Folk told me...

Four words for the ages.

emoticon

It could have been "Chris Marti told me ..." but you didnt advertise yourself that well mate! To be honest I was looking far and wide for a teacher I could work with and it fell down on Kenneth who kindly excepted to be of help.
If I knew last year that you existed and that you will do it then I would certainly try as I guess you would do it for free emoticon 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Yup

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for the reminder. There is always this nagging thought that there might be some subtle change to my practice that would clear the way forward if I only I could clearly identify where I was on the map.

Honestly, I don't think mapping gets too much in the way of my practice. I mostly just keep noting. I could try and fit some more sessions in during the day, but other than that...

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