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smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/23/20 4:38 PM
Hello everybody!
I have started what I would call a "loose home retreat" on Thursday -today is Saturday- triggered by... well, you know, the global confinement... and thought it would be a good opportunity to open a practice log here.

You can find more about "me" and my practice in this thread:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14719066
I will hopefully go on about things here that would not fit there. You are of course welcome to chime in.

So, about the set-up:
I am trying to put in six hours of daily sitting, still taking my part in home duties and chores, not cutting on my time (or quality) of interaction with my girlfriend (we are sharing a small flat in a big city), staying in touch with family and friends on the internet etc (that's the "loose" part). I noticed in the past that six hours of sitting in one day made quite a difference in daily practice for weeks afterwards... We'll see how it plays out with the global crisis and enduring confinement in the background.
Not so much to comment up to now: I ramped up the practice to four hours from Monday, started awareness of the breath at the nostrils on Tuesday evening. Planning to switch to body scanning tomorrow... The stilling of the mind does not reach the intensity of formal retreat (12 hours of sitting, no interaction, silence), but the sits are very smooth so far, the mind spacious and relaxed, the object well defined with thoughts flying around. I contemplated exploring another technique, and might do it after a couple of weeks, but starting in known territory (is there such a thing anyway?) seemed to make sense given the context.

To be continued...
May you all be well, happy and safe
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/23/20 4:38 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 5

Yesterday (Day 4), I switched to the body scan in a somewhat ritualized manner: in the afternoon, I did one hour of concentration, a few minutes of walking, followed by two hours of scanning switching from the "zone" to the top of the head, staying there for a while, then doing very precise review of the different body parts (as during retreat) before releasing the attention. It remained quite slow and quiet for the rest of the sit, although the experience was open and luminous from the very start (from not tensing up during the concentration practice). At some point, I thought "wow, this is a really powerful practice", which surprised me as I was quite at ease... I guess the "ego" wobbled, both at the intensity and at the lack of grounding of the fluxing experience. On day 4 of a home retreat, I did not expect that!
Before bedtime (after another nice meditation), I had a "tooth alert" which shook me in an again unexpected way. Teeth issues often pop up before or during retreats and they tend to reveal the fragile nature of existence (of the ego) and the subconscious intimacy with mortality. I went to bed a little absent to my partner, going through a strong emotional upheaval connected to my reflections on the tooth (and its impermanence, could we say)... I had to verbalize it to my girlfriend, which was really good, but it made me realize how sensitive I had become because of the meditation, like I was not in my "normal" state anymore.
On a general note, it is really fascinating to see how the meditation intertwine with daily life. My schedule looks something like this:
6h30-8h30: 2 hours (or 1)
11h-12h: 1hour (or 2)
15h-17h: 2 hours
19h-0h00: 1 hour (or 2)
which, as you see, leaves a lot of space for life in which I jump wholeheartedly when I leave my cushion. I have a good quality of presence to what I do (hum...), which I now cultivate by being in it instead of being mindful of it. Hmmm, that's what I explore on the cushion as well, the relationship between awareness and its object... and how to avoid the trap of denial in meditation (and in life!)... The first thing I learnt (years ago) was to "create" (or introduce) some space between "myself" and the object (whatever the object is, thought, emotion, sensation). Slowly, the awareness took a "spacious" quality to it which is important, but also tends to act as a buffer from the experience. And to maintain a sense of self as a pristine witness... And this whole witness business has then to be deconstructed as well, and the experience fully experienced, by an awareness freed from hindrances which is One with the object (it always was, as the object is in awareness). It does not mean that it will be free from filters, as awareness is itself a filter... A good sign for a lack of hindrances is a joyful quality to it.
So, in meditation, I track the slightest imbalances of awareness, as they indicate a degree of dissatisfaction. And I try to find the right balance between holding the object and not grasping it. Letting go while attending to something... Like with the body, if you really want to let go, you lie down. If you sit you have to maintain balance. It becomes almost effortless but still needs adjustments.
That's the tentative program for the retreat.
And that's it for now, it's quite long already... back to cushion!

Love to you all
with metta
smiling stone

PS: can somebody tell me how to have the name of the thread on a link (instead of message xxxy)? Thanks in advance!

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/24/20 3:59 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
"A good sign for a lack of hindrances is a joyful quality to it [the awareness]."
That was quick... What I wanted to express is that awareness (of any object) is tainted, either by a hindrance (again, this is an oversimplification, it is tainted by our whole conceptual apparatus) or, in the absence of any hindrance, by a quality that has been isolated as one of the eight (...nine) jhanas factors (because the buddhist tradition is really good at isolating qualities of the mind).

Here, with body-scanning, the object changes all the time but the pervading quality of the mind tends to unify the field of experience. I here consider the jhana factors because it stroke me as a nice progression that fits my experience, but I feel it is important not to get stuck on one frame of reference (the fourth satipatthana, for example, uses the seven bojjhangas -seven factors of enlightenment-, after the mind has been assessed to be free from hindrance, and we can find other lists in other places):

0- some hindrance is tainting our experience inducing some kind of dissatisfaction
In all the next states, dukkha becomes subtler and subtler
1- some kind of neutral awareness, devoid of hindrances, concentrated through exertion.
2- bliss (in one of its myriads shades)
3- joy (in one of its myriad shades, I would include the three brahmaviharas in 2 and 3)
4- equanimity, first still constricted on the object, then, more and more spacious
5- until it identifies with infinite space (ultimate unbounded spacious quality)
6- which consciousness pervades until becoming the whole field of experience with all its objects (unbounded consciousness, that would be the One taste, all is One kind of...)
7- all this consciousness is then realized to be empty (of any thingness, Dzogchen rigpa?)
8- leaving behind any kind of conceptualization (deepening of rigpa?)
9- Total extinction of awareness (Nirodha)

I am always bragging about spaciousness, so I guess my baseline these days is somewhere on the spectrum of 4 (on the spacious side of it), and I am kind of looking forward to exploring the numbers I am not yet acquainted with (reading the previous post, I can see some excitement at the idea of getting a serious grasp at nonduality, of which I had quite a few previews)... but each time we change object, the signal can override the quality of our awareness and send us... anywhere, that is where the training comes handy. For example, when a thought comes with an emotional load, if the equanimous mind does not get overwhelmed, the contact might produce a bliss wave or some joy that will slightly stir the equanimity for a moment. Or the spaciousness could contract on an object etc.
One last thing is that different methods propose, with a twist, to experience directly (often through following pointing out instructions) some taste of... 5,6 or 7, you name it... I always feel a little bit uncomfortable with that, especially when it comes from dhamma merchants who try to lure their clients into more expensive trainings with some promises of deep experiences... Tibetans would recommend to get thoroughly rid of the hindrances before that, no?
Hmmm, thinking out loud, not so sharp like I hoped it would be before writing it... But that's the thing with this log... to let it flow a bit!

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/25/20 4:27 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Day 7

These last days, I have been practicing moving my attention using the framework I outlined in the previous post. The scan tends to get subtler and subtler, into a spacious experience which I sometimes narrow down into a more minute observation.
It struck me how this framework (of vipassana jhanas, could we say with a slightly different meaning from the one used on this forum, something like "moving absorption") makes sense of the evolution of the peak experience of my practice so far (what I was tempted at the time to assess as bhanga or free flow leading to bhanga -see the other thread-):
When I first started to feel my body as a unified field of experience, I made sense of it using the framework of the elements, all the different shades of heat, of solidity, of cohesion or the lack thereof, all the nuances of movement-stillness. These all correspond to different types of energetic phenomena, falling under "Bliss". I would then switch my focus to notice all the different kinds of exaltation linked to those experiences. That's all filed under "Joy".
Noticing how fragile it was and how it was in sending me back to more challenging sensations, I learn to discard this exaltation (that's the kind of depreciative name I use for it) in favor of peace and non reactivity to the experience, namely "Equanimity".
For the last two three years, I have been (while scanning, remember) more and more focused on the spacious aspect of the experience. And the awareness starts to merge with the object (by glimpses). I know that phenomena is empty in nature... but it has not percolated in the deep parts of my being yet... And I am still NOT practicing the total letting go that I know is the key to the realm of neither perception nor non perception...
And I don't feel like I should hurry to the later stages...where I am is fascinating enough, and have been since the beginning of this adventure.
So this framework seems at least helpful not to reify the later developments of practice!
Also, Goenka insists on equanimity... the neo-advaitins on nonduality... the tibetans on emptiness... the pragmatists on cessation... Dhammarato on joy... However, it is quite obvious that when you start, whatever you are pointed to (in my case equanimity), you will have to do the work -the work is the path, really-, even if you are offered the full blown preview by a gifted teacher. The difference is that most people know what joy or equanimity look like (well, you might have to explain what equanimity is...), which is not the case with non-dual experience or emptiness, hence the pointing out business, not so necessary for more mundane attainments.
I did not make any reference to the progress of insight yet? I guess we are still in the realm of concentration practice...

It was hard to fit my six hours yesterday, I finished at midnight (5h50), and we'll see today, I am a bit behind as well. But I love it, it is -being an island to oneself... I also see how joy and peace, and that spacious feeling, infuse throughout the day.
I wanted to say something about denial. It is certainly not that I have no blind spots and weak sides... Concentration is what keeps the hindrances at bay during the practice, and the focusing on the jhanic factor can help to override (not notice) negative emotions. Not fully satisfying, is it?Working on that as well, and will report later...

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/25/20 5:58 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading it. I especially appreciate getting to read someone else describing the phenomenology from a kinesthetic point of view. 

Metta right back at ya!

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/27/20 5:26 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks Linda, and welcome here, you are my first guest!
Back to business...

Day 8

Sitting afterwards (evening of day 7), some flaws appeared in what I had written: I tend to confuse non duality with Oneness of stage eight. Non duality is a trick the mind plays on itself...or duality is. In both cases, it has nothing to do with concentration states, which can be experienced both ways... Maybe that's the difference between a soft and a hard jhana, the fact that there is somebody to witness it. Anyway, let's stress again that I'm not talking about jhanas, but about the color of experience, be it without absorption.

And also, the way I presented it, it might appear to be sequential: bliss, then joy, then equanimity etc. In fact, these are different dimensions of the same experience, which build on each other in a mysterious way. I first thought of orthogonal dimensions to experience, but it seems interesting to think of music, and of the different states of being as being harmonics of the meeting of the equanimous mind with the "physical sensation". Anyway, thinking about harmonics really seemed to open a door of inquiry...

Day 8 saw a deepening of peace, the sits bordering on absorption. The fact that I admit being in some kind of concentration practice certainly help to relax into peace (versus putting some effort in investigating the three characteristics). Really good mood throughout the day, though I keep on listening to the news and reflecting on the situation throughout the world... This peace I am building is not dependent on external conditions... An island to myself... A raft with no mooring... it is promising, if not fully satisfying, mainly because of me being aware of my unresolved shadows (which are not bothering me in this moment... or they would not be shadows, would they?). And if I read Daniel, for example, he makes it clear that I should not expect psychological solace, even from insight practice.

Day 9

I've been playing with the idea of harmonics, which I really find fruitful:
From an early age, we are in the juice of the mental realm, where we learn thinking and other ways to process the signals coming from the five senses. That's our ground, our tonic. Meditation is one of these other ways to process the signals: tune in to the contact between the signal and the mind, with the least interference (aiming for equanimity).
when equanimity is good enough (thinking has receded in the background or stopped), the vibration of the awareness (its note) comes in tune with the vibration of the signal. Instead of just producing a sensation, it creates a chord: "bliss"... and this chord produces harmonics, the first one being "joy"... we can listen to the chord, or tune in to the harmonic, even sing the overtone on top. And, as in music, there is a whole scale of perfect harmonies after the first one.
Joy is already pretty unstable, we get easily out of tune, so the next overtones really need fine tuning of the tonic... deep peace... Somehow, there's a feedback loop that opens a space around the objects in the mind... the mindspace. I suspect that the mind is already an overtone of physical processes, but rational language made us loose its natural tuning. So by going beyond speech in meditation (or singing, or doing maths etc.?), we increase the harmony of the mind, and it develops that spacious quality. I would only fantasize about higher qualities that might be further developed, expanding the range of the mind, ultimately going beyond it. All that is existence, samsara, and we are exploring it, and it is really evanescent. Anytime we manage to tune in outside the mind (catching a higher harmonic), there is cessation of consciousness (oops, that's highly speculative, sorry).

Ok that's me, this is supposed to be a practice log and I get all excited about wild ideas. To be honest, it also happens on retreat and here, I can follow the thread day after day, instead of giving you the cooked resume after one month of thinking it over.

Long peaceful sits, today. The rambling above took place in the morning, but did not invade the day, other than as a useful framework...

Thanks for taking the time to read this,
with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/27/20 7:56 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Hi smiling,

I think you're spot on with the music thing though. You know that Sutta where the buddha explains to a guy how his mind in meditation must be neither too tense, nor too relaxed ? just like an instrument's tension must be just right so the strings will sound.

Some say the buddha used that metaphor because the person he was talking to was a musician and would understand that language.

Others think there is something deeper, like thanissaro bikkhu, who often talks of the connection between music and meditation in his book on the wings of awakening.

Others yet say that music is meditation, this Sergiu Celibidache guy for instance...

Personnally, I don't think it's a metaphor at all. Perhaps we have just forgotten how to actually make music. After all, people in the buddha's time practiced the jhanas without getting enlightened. 

Just some thoughts ; but then again, if things are not-two, then of course, music is meditation, just like the rest, I guess. And perhaps any activity can bring about awakening, and my fantasy about the special status of music is just a superficial dream.. Don't know.

But I have the intuition that what is actually music in music... is a similar harmony of the faculties as that which are a cause for awakening, from a cause and effect perspective, this kind of being thanissaro bikkhu's perspective. 

I've mentioned this idea in another thread before, but I think that perhaps music is a way to share awakening with others ? A privileged place for realizing union, transfiguration, untangling, and a privileged vehicle for the transmission of mind. In fact, I sometimes believe that music has nothing to do with sounds, that it can be expressed through sounds, but also painting for instance. Perhaps it could be said that music is the mathematics of the world of aesthesis - the essence of right-ness, the "hidden structure" of alignment, but not hidden, totally immanent, just invisible. In fact, perhaps we have it backwards : perhaps it's not that cheesy line, "music is mathematics", but rather, mathematics are music expressing through very precise and specific symbolic means ?

Maybe the specificity of music, being a matter of sounds, is to be an art of time, which could make it a vehicle more suited for achieving the realisation, specifically, of the emptiness of time ?

More imprudent ramblings for you... An elucidation in progress... Seriously, though. Need to praxis that.

Nice journal, I'm also thinking of doing a home retreat starting at the beginning of april, you have inspired me dear sir !

Best wishes, and metta,

Olivier

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/29/20 2:25 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Hey Olivier, thanks for chiming in, I kind of suspected that you would be interested in this harmony thing. I enjoy the intensity you put in your answers about these fascinating topics.
I am aware of that sutta, for me the quote about tuning the strings of a veena was about applying right effort, not too lax and not too tight... But as you say, there are many layers to each word of the Tathagata... And I did read Wings of Awakening years ago, which I found really inspiring... but, my memory being what it is, I don't have any precise recollection of that particular analogy.

Something else I like about the analogy with harmony in music is that it underlines the fleeting nature of any attainment, even when we thoroughly establish ourselves into it... I feel slightly uncomfortable when I see "liberation" being sought as some final state...

If we push the analogy a bit, music has several components: so, what about melody? Our behavior in the world organizes the signals at the entrance of our mind in a more or less harmonious way. That's the melody of our perceptions (and it has to do with sila!). Should it be sweet, sad, or more martial? In harmonic minor or in lydian mode? The body scan helps to fine tune the different notes of this melody (it tunes the mind to the different signals through non reactivity), before it leads to a unified field of experience (isolates the overtone).
And what is music without rhythm? that's the easiest way to produce trance states, directly through interaction with the outside world... And the rhythm of mantras, the power of singing rituals, the effect it has on spiritual life, a whole path on and of itself... Is it the same to isolate a harmonic in a chord versus to actually sing the note and directly access the state? open questions, food for thought...

The main point of my rambling is to realize how the concepts we use tend to magically fit with our experience despite them being so diverse. You see I did not refer to the progress of insight, or to the Goenka framework (I have elsewhere). I felt like I would let the practice lead the way to whatever. I have been switching from the eight jhanas to that overtone thing, and I could well have used the anapanasati sutta, or the seven factors of enlightenment. In the end, it is a playful search for meaning, and realizing that meaning is highly dependent on the frame of reference we are using.

Day 10

That would be the last day of a ten day retreat. I thought about doing a full day of formal metta... but I didn't. Several sits got interrupted by daily life, so for the first time I did 30 mn sits here and there, which were still quite peaceful after some initial agitation. And I could see some stirring in body sensations (well, some restlessness) at the end of a one hour sit in the evening.


Day 11

As I am kind of starting a new ten days cycle, I was thinking of going back into stillness, even if I feel my scan has been pretty quiet and concentration heavy these days. In another thread, Chris said something about doing concentration in the morning and "spaciousness" in the evening, the latter NOT being a concentration state (but more akin to open awareness?). I thought, when I focus on the "zone" (the size of a fingertip, below the nostrils above the upper lip, Goenka style anapana), I do it "from" spaciousness, and it has been kind of an issue on retreat, knowing I was kind of tightening the focus but was then supposed to go back to spaciousness (that's what made retreats easy, by the way...).
So this spaciousness, as a quality of awareness, is not a concentration state but a constituent of the mind (that developed from the practice), which sometime gets obscured by experience (when it is overwhelming).
So it is not the same type of quality as bliss or joy. These I may imagine, but this imagination is (still?) different from the real thing (like singing the note vs hearing the harmonic of the chord), and it is more different when I "descend" more toward physicality (producing the vibration of "joy" is easier than "producing" a physical sensation purely in the mind).
That's the old debate about ekagatta, one pointed concentration versus gathering (unification) of the mind around a single object which can be the whole body (see anapana sati... or the whole universe, or nothingness).
In the end, I kind of switched between the spaciousness of awareness of the whole body and the slight tightening of holding concentration on one spot. I have been working toward no tightening at all... I had three really peaceful sits so far (1h, 2h, 2h), and one to go...

Long post already
with metta
May all beings see their basic needs fulfilled, be happy, be safe
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/29/20 5:26 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
when equanimity is good enough (thinking has receded in the background or stopped), the vibration of the awareness (its note) comes in tune with the vibration of the signal. Instead of just producing a sensation, it creates a chord: "bliss"... and this chord produces harmonics, the first one being "joy"... we can listen to the chord, or tune in to the harmonic, even sing the overtone on top. And, as in music, there is a whole scale of perfect harmonies after the first one.
Joy is already pretty unstable, we get easily out of tune, so the next overtones really need fine tuning of the tonic... deep peace... Somehow, there's a feedback loop that opens a space around the objects in the mind... the mindspace. I suspect that the mind is already an overtone of physical processes, but rational language made us loose its natural tuning. So by going beyond speech in meditation (or singing, or doing maths etc.?), we increase the harmony of the mind, and it develops that spacious quality. I would only fantasize about higher qualities that might be further developed, expanding the range of the mind, ultimately going beyond it. All that is existence, samsara, and we are exploring it, and it is really evanescent. Anytime we manage to tune in outside the mind (catching a higher harmonic), there is cessation of consciousness (oops, that's highly speculative, sorry).

So, despite my intensity, or because of it, I hadn't read and understood this properly apparently...

Interesting, but what if it was the other way around, what if we like chords because they produce by virtue of the laws of nature, what buddhists call piti ? What if we experience goosebumps, sometimes, when we listen to music, because the mind is coerced by the power of the work of art creating itself anew in our individual awareness, into having all the jhanic factors alined ? What if getting a higher overtone is actually the sonic manifestation of an awareness which is clear, precise, calm, broad, qualities which all imply a form of equanimity and samadhi, perhaps a recquirement for being able to perform such precise activities as overtone singing ? (which i have no skill at incidentally ^^)

"We must tear away culture from the metaphysics of representation which reduces it to its "objects", and place those back to what constitutes their proper site : subjectivity." Michel Henry

If awareness is co-created and inseparable from its objects, then the objects are inseparable from awareness.. ? So, is it a recquirement that to achieve some stuff in music/art, practicioners must acquire skills which are totally related to meditative skill ? I tend to think so, though I have never in fact put so much attention to what's happening in attention/awareness during any other activity than meditation. Because we objectify things... Isn't music essentially, not about sounds, but about the awareness which imbues those sounds, and its qualities, and where that can lead ? I want to start experimenting with that more...

I really don't think the music meditation thing is an analogy (in the limited sense of the word I mean). I'm pretty convinced people can get enlightened by playing music, tbh. Though he has never told me so openly, I'm pretty sure I know one such person... A guy who can improvise fugues... As you mention singing as a path of its own, I imagine you're talking about the christian tradition ?
I practice that quite a bit too, singing what used to be the church's music, centuries ago. From George Duby's Time of the cathedrals : "Singing, and through it, liturgy, were the most efficient means of knowledge which men of the XIth century had at their disposal. (...) Through choral singing, all of man, body, mind and soul, walks towards illumination. He accesses that stupor, this admiratio which the cistercien Baudoin de Ford speaks of, in the XIIth century, to the still contemplation of eternal splendor."

Rigpa much ?

Well...

Cheers and metta, may retreat part II go as well as part I

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/31/20 4:01 PM as a reply to Olivier.
Olivier : "Interesting, but what if it was the other way around, what if we like chords because they produce by virtue of the laws of nature, what buddhists call piti ? What if we experience goosebumps, sometimes, when we listen to music, because the mind is coerced by the power of the work of art creating itself anew in our individual awareness, into having all the jhanic factors alined ? What if getting a higher overtone is actually the sonic manifestation of an awareness which is clear, precise, calm, broad, qualities which all imply a form of equanimity and samadhi, perhaps a recquirement for being able to perform such precise activities as overtone singing ? (which i have no skill at incidentally ^^)"

Wow, Olivier, what makes you think that I do not wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying here?

"As you mention singing as a path of its own, I imagine you're talking about the christian tradition ?"

It had not crossed my mind, though it sure is (as is any tradition that considers the art of music as "sacred"). Actually, I was thinking exactly about what you are evoking in this paragraph. The fact that singing a simple note within a chord can produce bliss and joy... that identifying the harmonics of a sound, or tuning your instrument definitely trains attention in a peculiar way. Your question comes back to what came first, the hen or the egg?
Said another way, is inner consciousness a development, an integration of the signals of the five senses (the inner sense being a building up, an outshoot from the five), or is outside world a projection, and "true consciousness" the base from which everything arises? Who are we to decide? Did not the Buddha say something against indulging in that kind of argument?

Anyway, good to have you here, enjoy your home retreat when it happens!
with metta


Day 12

I am in a concentration phase, indulging in stillness... well, I have a decade of training in moving the focus of my attention constantly (when not at the tip of the nose). So I thought, maybe it would be interesting to focus somewhere else? Also, I have the belief (see the other thread) that it can be dangerous to stay in certain spots for too long (one of the reason for choosing the "zone" being that it is safe)... So I will take this concentration period to test that belief, and see if there is anything to it.

What I notice, trying to remain at the crown of the head, is that there is a certain kind of subtle tension there, and I have a tendency to come back to the "zone" where there are these obvious sensations of breathing that I have been thoroughly trained to feel (800+ hours of practice on retreat). Another tendency is to slide from the top of the head to the back of the skull, or the base of the back of the skull (remember Nikolai or Tarin saying something about focusing there in equanimity during the final steps of looking for a doer). Anyway, beautiful long peaceful sits in the second part of the day. In the morning I attended a group thing on social media which spilled over the day, and I had to catch up with meditation later...

Day 13

A day of concentration, trying to choose a spot and not move, experimenting with "chakras" or clusters of sensations throughout the body which seem to radiate awareness...
How I focus my attention: I am aware of the zone (under the nostrils etc..), with a resonance of the whole body around it. I am aware of the whole body, with a cluster in the zone. The other sensations of the breath are not attended to. I form the intention to switch somewhere in the torso, thinking about the abdomen but letting the awareness land where it wants. The heart area...
I have this big thing around the heart area (do not stay more than a few minutes, it can be too much, I experienced it in the past!). Ok, let's test that fear, let's stay there. Awareness escapes by itself after a while (20 mn?), I come back several times in the sit, then switch to the top of the head. After some time, big activity in the back of the head, should I associate this with my bold move? I feel a slight densification of the body, nothing as strong as my past experiences of intense restlessness. Maybe it is just bullshit? Maybe I was not dissolving enough? I had not thought of the progress of insight these last 13 days...
I think these "upsurge of gross sensations" have to do with the excitation when a strong tension is released, and I do not feel such tensions these days (and it is not the intensity of a formal retreat).
Anyway, good easy sits, more tomorrow

with metta
smiling stone

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
3/31/20 7:21 PM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
I am thinking about doing a home retreat soon as well, thanks for sharing, interested to see what works. If you have any resources on how you came up with your scheduled I'm interested to read it.

RE: smiling stone's home retreat log
Answer
4/1/20 2:44 AM as a reply to John W.
Hey John,
No special resources, you can check my other thread to see where I'm coming from (link in the first post).
As I say in the first post, six hours seemed doable without putting too much retreat pressure on my partner! That's where the indicative schedule comes from. Continuity of practice IS important, so it is not perfect, but I kind of come back to it all day long, with as long as three hours breaks...
What works for me is not bound to work for you !!! This retreat is the fruit of all my practice before it, and an ongoing exploration...
I felt I had enough experience to deal with anything that would come up with that amount of sitting. We'll see about that one, so far so good!

I wish you the best with your retreat. Did you listen to Daniel's last guruviking interview about covid 19? I would recommend it. He is down to earth regarding insight practice in the midst of a pandemic. Assess that you are in a good frame of mind before going too deep.
with metta
smiling stone