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witnessing thoughts

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witnessing thoughts
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5/23/11 11:46 PM
I've struggled with both concentration and insight meditation and got nowhere, so I thought I'd try bringing awareness to any thoughts that were happening. I decided to let the mind run riot and not focus it at all. I allowed the monkey mind be a monkey....encouraged it even. I just witnessed it with an attitude of interest and amusement "wow look at it go!", "where did that thought come from?!", etc.

Anyway it worked. It actually did something for me quite quickly. It's like the monkey doesn't like being watched. The moment you watch him he stops dead in his tracks, the shy little critter, and await another opportunity for you to turn your back. I'd get confused what to do when stillness and spaciousness happened, but now that i think about it, I guess I could just switch my focus and pay attention to that instead.

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/24/11 9:32 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Sounds like good insight practice.

RE: witnessing thoughts
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5/24/11 3:43 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
I've been doing something kind of similar with "mental movements". A large part of the identity/self has been the internal monologue and associated mental movements. I've been focusing a lot of attention to the sensations of facial expression, eye movement, the sensation that there is a panning movement through the actual brain, etc. It has been really successful so far for breaking down the sense of watcher. More and more this week "the watcher" has just been another sensation that arises in the series (instead of something simultaneous with all the other sensations like before). There's been lots of brain/consciousness instead of "someone". Sometimes there's a feeling like there's but a tiny thread holding watcher (and noticing that the feeling of it being a tiny thread being held together is itself just another sensation).

RE: witnessing thoughts
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5/25/11 8:00 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I think I just have to try and maintain some level of awareness during the day otherwise I get lost in extremely painful thoughts. Even on the rare occasion my thoughts are positive, it's still not what I'd call peaceful.

I find my facial muscles are strongly linked in with my state too steph. They change very suddenly sometimes, especially around the eyes and mouth.

RE: witnessing thoughts
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5/26/11 7:16 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
No point starting a new thread for this.

Interesting interview with Tolle: http://www.inner-growth.info/power_of_now_tolle/eckhart_tolle_interview_parker.htm

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/26/11 9:37 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
I noticed the same thing - the monkey mind not liking being watched - i wanted to investigate it. I seem to have succeeded at watching the monkey mind do it's thing a few things, but i have to do it very subtly and "sneakily" ;), or i just notice stillness and clarity and lack of thoughts. (Emotions are much less shy, and thus easier to investigate).

I do think (from my limited experience) that both continued trying-to-catch-the-monkey and observing (dwelling in) the stillness are good parts of practice.

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/26/11 1:43 PM as a reply to Villum (redacted).
[quote=Villum (redacted)]I noticed the same thing - the monkey mind not liking being watched - i wanted to investigate it. I seem to have succeeded at watching the monkey mind do it's thing a few things, but i have to do it very subtly and "sneakily" ;), or i just notice stillness and clarity and lack of thoughts. (Emotions are much less shy, and thus easier to investigate).

I do think (from my limited experience) that both continued trying-to-catch-the-monkey and observing (dwelling in) the stillness are good parts of practice.

When I'm mindful throughout daily life it seems like the mental chatter has become another sensation that's just happening and it's not all bothersome. I just picked up meditating again recently after a long time off, and within the past few days there's been a noticeable shift in how "I'm" relating to the mind. The mental field and associated sensations in particular feel as though they're hanging/suspended in space, not encapsulated by a "me".

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/26/11 7:16 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
When I'm mindful throughout daily life it seems like the mental chatter has become another sensation that's just happening and it's not all bothersome. I just picked up meditating again recently after a long time off, and within the past few days there's been a noticeable shift in how "I'm" relating to the mind. The mental field and associated sensations in particular feel as though they're hanging/suspended in space, not encapsulated by a "me".


Thanks for reminding me emoticon I've been forgetting my everyday mindfulness training, even though it's what i need the most. I find it takes much more discipline than doing focused practice.

Lately, i've also had something like the mental field thing you describe - a lot of the time, it seems the self-core isn't there, there seems to be a sort of more expansive "field" instead. Do you get the effect where the "me" seems to condense back together, becoming the center of things again? I can induce that effect sometimes by saying "me, me, me, me, me, me".

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/26/11 8:15 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
[quote=Villum (redacted)]I noticed the same thing - the monkey mind not liking being watched - i wanted to investigate it. I seem to have succeeded at watching the monkey mind do it's thing a few things, but i have to do it very subtly and "sneakily" ;), or i just notice stillness and clarity and lack of thoughts. (Emotions are much less shy, and thus easier to investigate).

I do think (from my limited experience) that both continued trying-to-catch-the-monkey and observing (dwelling in) the stillness are good parts of practice.


When I'm mindful throughout daily life it seems like the mental chatter has become another sensation that's just happening and it's not all bothersome. I just picked up meditating again recently after a long time off, and within the past few days there's been a noticeable shift in how "I'm" relating to the mind. The mental field and associated sensations in particular feel as though they're hanging/suspended in space, not encapsulated by a "me".
hehe i hit a pretty obvious A&P about a day/two after starting to meditate again, shortly followed by dark night of course. sounds like you're getting into insight territory again. just a heads up!

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/26/11 8:42 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Hi CCC,

I find my facial muscles are strongly linked in with my state too steph. They change very suddenly sometimes, especially around the eyes and mouth.
Awareness of eye movement, and probably the additional responsive movements of the eyes, come up in jhana stage "diagnostics".

"I sit here and see the river", is a state of self-reference, while "River" is an eye state and thing-word mind state (maybe of the posterior supramarginal gyrus).

As the self-referential aspect and the physical eyesight "separate" maybe "self" creates new eye sensation (e.g., strain, pressure, flux, pixilation, other), similar to how a stressful mental view can tweak the low back or neck.

However peculiar/strained/etc, the self itself may be that which is peculiarized/strained, becoming unable to re-establish a habit to repetitively-aggregate-and-assume.

So face may feel tired/stressed/worked, too, as self separates from coordinating facial presentation on pre-meditated grounds. It's well known that facial expression is hugely referential in social mammals. Lacking orchestration from self, face has no pre-meditated reasons to flex. It finds itself flexed and relaxes. You notice.

What do you think?

I think I just have to try and maintain some level of awareness during the day otherwise I get lost in extremely painful thoughts. Even on the rare occasion my thoughts are positive, it's still not what I'd call peaceful.
Staying away from extremely painful thoughts: for me, I agree. There is inherent capacity to deal with those, but for some people, not until after other uprootings. Extending awareness-of-every-moment/everything-here has an ability to show more and more cause and effect, until nothing, and that can shave off some of the hirsute extras adding to painful mental thoughts.


Best wishes.

[edits:typos]

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/26/11 10:57 PM as a reply to . ..
katy, I'm just trying to extend the awareness to each moment as best I can, which i figure to be about 5% of the time.

"Show more cause and effect" - yes I must read that bit again in mtcb.

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/26/11 11:17 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Steph S:

When I'm mindful throughout daily life it seems like the mental chatter has become another sensation that's just happening and it's not all bothersome. I just picked up meditating again recently after a long time off, and within the past few days there's been a noticeable shift in how "I'm" relating to the mind. The mental field and associated sensations in particular feel as though they're hanging/suspended in space, not encapsulated by a "me".


hehe i hit a pretty obvious A&P about a day/two after starting to meditate again, shortly followed by dark night of course. sounds like you're getting into insight territory again. just a heads up!


Oh yeah, I totally did it on purpose as an experiment. I wanted to see if getting into equanimity would work well for inducing PCE's - mostly because of the calm, spacious, really panoramic quality of equanimity. I jammed through DN really quickly this morning on the way to work, no big deal at all, and then got into equanimity. I had a PCE at lunch and have been having an excellent time the rest of the day.

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/27/11 5:59 AM as a reply to Steph S.
What about the A&P, does that make the PCE more accessible?

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/27/11 11:17 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Paul S.:
What about the A&P, does that make the PCE more accessible?


I didn't try it from A&P. The general quality of A&P is a high energy/vibratory happy, and can have a fantasy/psychedelic element to it- so I thought that would be overshooting it. Maybe if you were able to feel the vibratory sensations as just on the body and not as an internal affective makeup, it could work for sensuousness - i.e. vibratory quality of the breeze on the surface of your skin. Try it out and see!

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
5/27/11 6:26 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Si si si:
awareness to each moment as best I can

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
6/19/11 8:17 PM as a reply to . ..
I'm interested to know what determines the style and type of thought that pops up.

If my mind gets reasonably quiet, the randomness and speed of thoughts is astonishing. Memories from many, many years ago, rarely with a strong emotional charge, and lasting a split second. Where on earth did that come from? Who did the thought and why that particular thought?

RE: witnessing thoughts
Answer
6/19/11 9:44 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Who did the thought?


note the wondering/questioning of all those, but pay special attention to the part quoted.. note this sense of wondering of "who" did the thought and surrounding sensations if/when it comes up again.