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Shri's Log

Shri's Log
3/23/20 9:13 PM
I am 28 years old normal guy who recently got interested in dhamma. I seriously started meditating since September 2019, but very dilligently since January 2020. I have attended one Goenka 10-day course where I spent most of the time stressing about why I am not able to get to the subtle sensations, purifications, etc.

Long term goal is freedom from suffering. Daily motivation comes from the already gathered momentum (steady practice since 2-3 months). Also I have faith in the teaching.

Current Practice
I practice TMI instructions and find myself in late Stage 4 level. I also encorporate non-verbal noting of distractions. I sit twice a day for 45-50 minutes per session.

Motivation To Log
To have something to track how practice changes over time. I also tend to have weak memory of what happens in a sit, writing it down helps me compare current experience. I pubish this on Dho to seek feedback.

Practice Playbook
  • Set attitude - Calm down. "I do this to be good to self, and to everyone". So relax.
  • TMI pre-practice - go over motivation, goals, expectations, diligent intention, hindrances, posture.
  • Familiarize body sensations, any type of feeling, sounds, sights, etc.
  • Gradually narrow attention to breath sensation inside the nostrils.
  • Count 10 breaths, repeat if attention is flaky.
  • Note distractions with a label.
  • Last 5 minutes sit without any method.

RE: Shri's Log
3/23/20 9:13 PM as a reply to Shri.
Recent logs in reverse order -

March 17, 2020
  • 50 minutes @ 11:00 AM
  • Started out with a lot of negative feelings or what I currently understand as ill-will.
  • But the session was to the point, very alert, felt that corrections were made whenever there were distractions, detecting loss of equanimity etc.
  • Lots of thoughts coming and going, of different weight/force. Proliferation happened only for a few.
  • At one point breath was very very subtle, for around 2 minutes.
  • Overall there is a general sense of the body and background awareness of sensations but attention/awareness tends to be more interested in thoughts or mental objects. 

March 16, 2020
  • 50 minutes @ 8:00 AM
  • 50 minutes @ 12:30 PM
  • 35 minutes @ 6:00 PM
  • Morning and afternoon sessions were focused, attention seldom leaving sensations.
  • Noting thoughts & sounds was quick and non-verbal, helping with distractions
  • Got stuck in a loop of finding the self for a while, which proliferated but not too far away from breath.
  • Evening session noticed that sometimes I do intentional breathing when I am trying to go for sensation clarity. Will watch out for this in next sessions.

March 15, 2020
  • 45 minutes @ 6:00 PM
  • Started the times after the pre-practice routine which took 8 minutes.
  • The sit felt very different, and felt better quality of concentration and clarity.
  • It was easy to stay on the breath even without counting.
  • The breath often did not remain the only object of attention, but it was always close, and clear.
  • Noted a lot of thoughts at early stages, but still felt I was missing a lot more.
  • Balance between awareness and attention (introspective) still needs stability, but it feels that I have at least something to work with.
  • When the attention was stable on the breath, trying to find the joy, generating feeling, it felt a little weird and forced.
  • The sit was kind of enjoyable and interesting since it was new.

March 15, 2020
  • 45 minutes @ 9:45 AM
  • First third of the sit had an energetic mind, but also vigilant noting and correction of distractions but not continuous attention on breath sensations.
  • Tried to fine tune attention and awareness, always tended to over attend or under attend breath in order to balance.
  • Last third felt continuous but forced focus on breath. Was able to note hindrance of restlessness and aversion to sitting.
  • Thought proliferation was very limited.
March 14, 2020
  • 51 minutes @ 8:50 AM
  • Very little dullness and almost no mind wandering.
  • Small intervals where breath sensations were very detailed.
  • Mind felt very nimble yet never left the breath sensations, although sensation clarity varied.
  • Ended session with doing nothing for 6 minutes. Felt little weird doing nothing and also I realized how little I know about the mind without relying on second hand information. Doing nothing was almost like noting without labeling, as my attention kept switching between sensations thoughts and feelings and little mind proliferation and then realizing it.
  • Although alert the mind did not seem calm.
March 13, 2020
  • 48 minutes @ 11:45 AM
  • Practiced TMI + noting distractions.
  • Memory of early practice is weak but felt it went well.
  • Attention to breath sensations and counting and very quick in noting distractions and restarting counting. It was sort of fun. No time to feel bad about anything because everything can be noted.
  • Most notes were ‘thought’ or ‘thought proliferation’ or ‘doubt in method’.
  • Started seeing outside light through closed eyelids, and tension building in the upper body, chest, shoulders, eyes. Noted anticipation/secretly wishing for something to happen.
  • After the above, I switched to only note and not be attentive to breath sensations for around 5 minutes.
  • Very soon mind went into complete scatter mode with some noting in between. From then on I switched back to breath + noting, but thought distractions were very strong.
  • After the last bell, just sat and observed everything without any set method. Did this for 3 minutes.
March 13, 2020
  • 45 minutes @ 8:45 AM
  • Started with Metta for self. Set intention to let any feeling to come and go without me trying to change it.
  • Very interesting for 30 minutes, without any forgetting at all.
  • Very sharp perception for distractions and could recognize how thought always accompanies sensation and is giving constant commentary.
  • Penetrating sensation and looking at it in detail was done better than most of the sessions overall.
  • Was constantly looking for things I could log in this journal which might be a hindrance.
  • I find myself noting a lot recently.

March 12, 2020
  • 45 minutes @ 5:00 PM
  • Although explicit attention to sensation was divided, the session felt very good for the first 25 minutes.
  • Required less effort than usual. I had an unacknowledged intention to try this.
  • Was able to catch the looking at what it was doing, example was able see the mind catch itself being distracted by some thought or some sensation at a earlier than normal.
  • Also was able to not indulge in negatively reacting to state of meditation.
  • Last part of meditation was full of distractions Attempted to notice the feeling of being restless and craving to hear the end bell.
March 12, 2020
  • 49 minutes @ 9:00 AM
  • Sensation not sharp.
  • First half of the session was able to remember before wandering started.
  • Last half had mind wandering and dullness.
  • Last 5 minutes were good, and had the feeling of being able to hold attention (even though sensations were muddy) without too much effort or will.
  • Noticed my approach is very ad hoc. Need more structure to it. Will take notes from TMI and stick to them for a few sessions.
March 11, 2020
  • 33 minutes @ 5:30 PM
  • Sensation very muddy, probably due to dullness.
  • Lots of distractions, counting was becoming mechanical. But still helped.
  • Able to remember to note hindrances.
  • Discomfort due to leg falling asleep.
  • Ended due to phone call.
March 11, 2020
  • 35 minutes @ 12:00 PM
  • Practiced in the office.
  • Sensations of breath were sharper than usual.
  • The attention was resting well on the sensations, although there were gross distractions making the breath go in the background.
  • Used counting to aid attention, this seemed useful and also it was tricky to not force counting or stop it from being mechanical.
  • Ended session to pee.
March 11, 2020
  • 45 minutes @ 7.15 AM
  • Practiced attention on sensation of breath.
  • Goal is to minimize gross distractions (when breath goes into the background).
  • Duration and clarity of attention on the breath better than yesterday but still fragile.
  • Fairly quick to notice wandering and correct.
  • Remembered to make sure attention is on actual sensation when correcting.
  • Time went quickly, and there is a very weak memory of the practice itself.
  • Mild discomfort in lower back at the start 5 minutes, leg fell asleep at the last 5 minutes.

March 10, 2020
  • 45 minutes @ 5.00 PM
  • Practiced attention on sensations of breath.
  • Spent most of the sit half asleep. Attention not clear and very fragile, very easily distracted into day-dreaming.
  • Time went quickly, and there is a very weak memory of the practice itself.
  • Guilt due to indulging in weed and stuff.

RE: Shri's Log
3/23/20 9:13 PM as a reply to Shri.
March 19, 2020
  • 50 minutes @ 10:50 AM
  • Started out with very little resistance from the mind.
  • Concentration was continuous and clear for about 20 minutes, with the sensations of breath, and also noticing all the other stimuli.
  • Then suddenly I noticed I had some tension built up in the face area which I allowed to relax. This led to a super comfortable state, which also led to thought distraction for around 5-10 minutes. Remembered to just remain equanimous but could not really settle in.
  • Keep noticing the thread in mind that the observer is looking at everything (aka noticing the observer trap). Not actually looking at the observer, but since every other object in experience is being objectified as thought, sensation etc, the only thing left is the objectifier. This particular noticing feels like a thought + feeling (+ optional emotion).
  • Last few minutes were back to regular concentration on breath and noticing distractions etc.

March 18, 2020
  • Morning and evening sessions were tough.
  • Concentration was weak and I ended the evening session 2-3 minutes short.
  • This led to the rest of the day being a little under stress, not too bad, but I felt I had to be vigilant not to get give into feelings of anger, depression, confusion etc.
  • Sleepiness throughout the day took a lot of attention.

RE: Shri's Log
3/20/20 1:10 PM as a reply to Shri.
March 20, 2020
  • 50 minutes @ 9.45 AM
  • Mind could not calm down for concentration to be steady on the breath.
  • Gave up after 30 minutes and switched to noting with short labels.
  • This helped a lot to limit thought proliferation and awareness started to become sharp and noticing a lot of subtle movements: sensations, sounds, patterns and depth in the visual field, and occasionally emotions of fear (during the visual patterns) and anticipation.
  • Perception of certain types of objects seems slow and weak as compared to speed of noting. Example it takes 4-5 seconds to actually break down a thought/signal of a sensation into actual sensations, but it is very easy to note that there is some sensation there.
  • This delay is significantly short for thoughts, emotions, sounds and sights.

March 20, 2020
3/21/20 4:48 PM as a reply to Shri.
March 20, 2020
  • 55 minutes @ 11:30 AM
  • There were short stretches of solid attention on breath, and the rest of the time went noticing distractions and also mind wandering due to interesting insightful thoughts which seemed important for practice.
  • Spent a lot of time contemplating this idea: mindfulness/observation/attention/awareness whatever cannot be done without a self. That is to say: if there is an observation there has to be an observer. And if something is being observed it cannot be self, it is just an object of observation. And mindfulness is a remembrance of this idea.

RE: Shri's Log
3/22/20 6:08 AM as a reply to Shri.
Just wanted to say that this sounds like good practice Shri!  It seems like the combination of both breath awareness/relaxation and gentle use of noting is working for you.

RE: Shri's Log
3/22/20 1:49 PM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for the encouragement shargrol. In fact, I have adjusted my practice & attitude based on the tips from your postsemoticon

March 22, 2020
3/22/20 1:51 PM as a reply to Shri.
March 22, 2020
  • 60 minutes @ 9:40 AM
  • First 45 minutes were full of thoughts and I could not stick to more than 5 breaths in a row. Mind felt energetic and restless.
  • Last 15 minutes switched to noting. Which was started out with very quick short notes, around 2 per second I think. The contact with the actual objects of noting was very shallow, but attention kept switching quickly.
  • In the last 5 minutes settled into a more calmer noting (1 per 2 seconds), which felt more natural.
  • Overall an unusually distracted session, but happy that I did not get frustrated and was very interested and willing to work with the experience.

March 23, 2020
3/23/20 11:21 AM as a reply to Shri.
March 23, 2020
  • 60 minutes 8:00 AM
  • Started out with heavy dullness.
  • Concentration was weak throughout the hour, but some short stretches with good clarity of sensations and general awareness.
  • Could notice aversion for distractions and mind proliferation, and made corrections.
  • Realized that my usual self-talk is very strict and harsh and leads to frustration.
  • Is low self-esteem and not liking self the reason for interest in meditation since it promises transformation of self and questions its importance.

March 23, 2020 PM
3/23/20 9:14 PM as a reply to Shri.
  • 60 minutes @ 5:00 PM
  • A lot of thought activity related to a busy day. Disconnected to actual sensations. This went for around 15 minutes.
  • Following breathing sensations calmed the mind activity, and as clarity increased kept relaxing the tensions held in the body, mostly face, forehead & eyes.
  • At one point concentration became very smooth and easy, and there was very clear awareness of lots of stuff going on. Body feels light. There are very lightweight thoughts which come  and go very very quickly, and a lot of it like a narration, or labelling of stuff going on. Tried to notice more and drop effort lost into this narration for some time. This went on for I guess 10-20 minutes maybe more..
  • Concentration dropped in the last 5 - 10 minutes switched to just sitting and not doing anything.

March 26, 2020
3/26/20 3:35 PM as a reply to Shri.
March 24, 2020
  • 35 minutes @ 9:00 AM
  • Lots of frustration and craving for practice to progress.
  • Kept chasing intellectual insights and going in directions which lead to mind wandering and loss of awareness.
  • This reminded me of the mini version of the state I was at the Goenka course, the difference is that nowadays I am able to notice this state as just a state of mind and not roll in it.
  • It seems that practice has regressed in terms of focus and mind wandering is happening again. Will go over tips in TMI to counter this before the coming sits.
  • 45 minutes @ 4:00 PM
  • Started out with an explicit resolve to not forget and keep gently being with the breath and whatever comes up. This was to make sure I keep the session going into mind wandering.
  • This seemed to work.
  • Went into a state of good concentration again where the body feels light and full / inflated, especially arms and upper body, the state is pleasant. It is easy to keep at the breath, and be aware.
  • I am not 100% sure about the level of dullness, will check next time. TMI talks about pleasurable dullness at this stage.
  • When this happens the body is absolutely still, and movement of breath, heart beat , abdomen etc is detectable. Breath is never out of awareness.
  • I am not what effect moving the body will have on this state, will try next time.
  • This continues for 10-15 minutes and the unusual sensation in the body fades away, but the concentration and awareness remains.

March 26, 2020
  • 45 minutes @ 8.30 AM
  • Fairly good attention and wide awareness. In the last 5-10 minutes went into exploration.
  • There were many distractions but not a lot of mind wandering. The breath sensations were always close.
  • Could notice visual parts of awareness and attention, and how they are always so difficult to detach from, in the sense, it is easy to distance from / observe sensations, sounds, even thoughts but how I have always missed the visual field. It is still extremely difficult to stabilize attention to be able to discern this part of experience. For example when attending sensation of breath there is always this visual field which is accompanied / modified, but not really noticed unless it is very flashy.
  • This also seems to be related to the sense of space, shape of the body, my location within the body, the direction of attention.

March 28
3/28/20 3:44 PM as a reply to Shri.
March 27, 2020
  • 45 minutes @ 10:30 AM
  • New standards set for concentration in terms of clarity of sensation and exclusive attention, although not 100% continuous.
  • Very low level of effort went into this session.
  • Was really able to be with the sensations and ignore everything else.
  • Did not give into intellectualization and interesting thoughts.

March 28, 2020
  • The depth of feeling the breath sensation has improved (same as the last two sessions). Feels more exclusive and having a more clear discernment between sensation and everything else.
  • Sat for 30 minutes resolving to maintain this level of attention on the breath.
  • Last 10 minutes completely switched to noting with a short label. This felt great overall, relaxed, clear and non-sticky attention

March 28, 2020
3/30/20 5:14 PM as a reply to Shri.
Last 2-3 sessions (45 minutes each) I have spent 5 minutes on relaxing and breath concentration, and the rest of the session noting stuff that comes up. I start by noting the easy stuff, like sounds and gross body sensations and keep noticing more and more subtle things. I attempt to directly experience the things, and not intellectualize / interpreted experience.
I see the session going in phases, within some of which I am able to notice very subtle phenomena like very short lived thoughts, interesting body sensations, constant sounds (I might have developed Tinnitus emoticon ). But also phases where there was mind wandering, but those are short. I will continue to dedicate fixed time to noting for a few sessions.
In general, off-cusion life feels much calmer internally. I am able to recover from indulging in disruptive emotions and thoughts much quicker. It also feels that I am more self-honest and able to chill and not take myself too seriously; still working on this though.