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Progress on the Path
Answer
6/19/11 8:01 PM
I've started this thread so that perhaps I might better record how I am practicing and hopefully get some feed back along the way from those of you who are way further along than I am.

I've been meditating on a regular basis for about a year now.

I do the anapansati breathing meditation.

I felt a few months ago that I was making better progress in that my concentration was becoming stronger. I could stay with the point of contact with few distractions. On one occasion my body was doing the breathing and I was totally out of the way. "It breathed". That was sort of a wow moment.

On another occasion I was meditating with a group. During the meditation sounds that would normally distract me I experienced as being perfect and I did not identify with them. It was one of those sessions where everything felt perfect and in it's place.

Yesterday I meditated with a group. We did a short 30 minute silent meditation followed by a walking meditation. While doing the walking meditation my concentration felt good. I still had moments where it would come and go but I was bringing it back to each point of stepping. Then I posed the concept to myself that "I have this consciousness only because I have this body." A few moments after posing that concept my mind became very clear and I could feel my hips and pelvis in motion as I walked. That observation felt "objective". It was like I was in this body. When this happened I tried to let myself stay with it but I could my clear mind slowly fade back to my "normal" level of awareness by the time we stopped the walking meditation.

This afternoon I sat for thirty minutes and it took a while for my mind to calm down. (I've been slowly clearing "clutter" out of my life, literally, and I think I was still "worked up" by that process.)

I've tried the noting practice and I do that when I am meditating. I try it during the day but when I don't need to focus on a task. But when I try it it seems like there is so much stuff to note, especially visual stuff. It's non-stop so and hard to pick any one thing to note.

In a couple weeks I hope to do a three day retreat. It will be my first and I am very much looking forward to it.

- May we all be free from suffering.

Gerry T.

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/20/11 6:02 AM as a reply to Gerry T.
What sort of retreat is it, and what technique(s) will you be using?

Daniel

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/20/11 6:07 AM as a reply to Gerry T.
Gerry T:

On another occasion I was meditating with a group. During the meditation sounds that would normally distract me I experienced as being perfect and I did not identify with them. It was one of those sessions where everything felt perfect and in it's place.

"I have this consciousness only because I have this body." A few moments after posing that concept my mind became very clear and I could feel my hips and pelvis in motion as I walked. That observation felt "objective". It was like I was in this body. When this happened I tried to let myself stay with it but I could my clear mind slowly fade back to my "normal" level of awareness by the time we stopped the walking meditation.


Gerry T.


Hello Gerry !

Probably you have Pce´s. I had them very early in my meditation practice and confused them with Meditation attainments. Also the teacher on the retreat i participated tried to put them in his Buddhist framework. You could simply use the search function on this site to read about them. Here are some descriptions :

http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/actualism/others/corr-pce.htm

All best

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/20/11 11:28 AM as a reply to Gerry T.
Gerry T:
I've started this thread so that perhaps I might better record how I am practicing and hopefully get some feed back along the way from those of you who are way further along than I am.

I've been meditating on a regular basis for about a year now.

I do the anapansati breathing meditation.

I felt a few months ago that I was making better progress in that my concentration was becoming stronger. I could stay with the point of contact with few distractions. On one occasion my body was doing the breathing and I was totally out of the way. "It breathed". That was sort of a wow moment.

It's quite natural to "feel" or react as though you've just reached a high plateau following one of these experiences. And not to take anything away from their importance, because they are significant, don't let them become an object for self-agrandisement or distract you from the overall work at hand needing to be done. Treat these experiences with equanimity and move on, realizing the benefit from having covered this ground and using it to continue making progress in your practice.

These are moments you will eventually look back on and realize the insight that you gained from the experience. Use that insight to guide your succeeding practice.

Gerry T:

On another occasion I was meditating with a group. During the meditation sounds that would normally distract me I experienced as being perfect and I did not identify with them. It was one of those sessions where everything felt perfect and in it's place.

Another moment of insight that you should savor and perhaps investigate further during a vipassana session, in order to deepen the value of the gained insight. Once you fully realize what you accomplished during this experience, it will hit you like a ton of bricks. An ah-haa moment!

Gerry T:

I've tried the noting practice and I do that when I am meditating. I try it during the day but when I don't need to focus on a task. But when I try it it seems like there is so much stuff to note, especially visual stuff. It's non-stop so and hard to pick any one thing to note.

Noting is a good practice used to enhance concentration, especially during meditation. But once your concentration level has advanced to a certain level, to try to use it during waking life can be, as you have expressed here, somewhat awkward. If you want to note during waking consciousness, pick one or two items you think are important to note and leave the rest for the periphery. Don't try to overtax your ability. It serves no purpose. If they are noteworthy enough, you can always come back to them later during a contemplation session (i.e. during meditation) in order to investigate them more thoroughly.

But quite aside from that, noting is only meant to instill awareness of phenomena happening in the present moment. It's an awareness exercise. Being aware only takes a split second. Don't think you have to internally verbalize each object noted. Use it in that way, and you shouldn't feel overwhelmed.

Best of fortune to you in your practice,

Ian

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/21/11 8:31 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
It will be at a Vietnamese temple in the States.
It's a Pure Land Zen temple. (But I don't practice Pure Land)

The nun that will be leading the retreat practices a form of Zen (but not the Amitabha chanting style.) (edited Amitabha)
She does a silent form of meditation.

The meditation will be a silent form of meditation.

The schedule goes something like this:
T
-05:00AM - Rising, Morning Bell Rings
-05:30AM - Sitting Meditation, Morning Service
-07:00AM - Morning Exercise (with sticks)
-08:00AM - Breakfast
-09:00AM - Walking Meditation
-10:30AM - Dharma Talk
-12:00PM - Formal Lunch
-01:30 - Relaxation Meditation
-03:00 - Dharma Discussion
-07:00 - Tea Meditation
-09:30 - Lights out


I plan on continuing Anapanasati breath meditation.

I plan on staying focused when we are not formally meditating and not waste my efforts with idle chatter.

I am open to any suggestions or comments that might help.

Thanks for your input.
- Gerry

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/20/11 8:58 PM as a reply to Christian Ballhaus.
Christian Ballhaus:


Probably you have Pce´s. I had them very early in my meditation practice and confused them with Meditation attainments. Also the teacher on the retreat i participated tried to put them in his Buddhist framework. You could simply use the search function on this site to read about them. Here are some descriptions :

http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/actualism/others/corr-pce.htm

All best


Christian,
Thanks for confirming the PCe thing. I figured it was something like that. I've had those for quite a while but don't quite know how they fit in or what to do with them.

-Gerry

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/20/11 9:11 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:


Gerry T:

On another occasion I was meditating with a group. During the meditation sounds that would normally distract me I experienced as being perfect and I did not identify with them. It was one of those sessions where everything felt perfect and in it's place.

Another moment of insight that you should savor and perhaps investigate further during a vipassana session, in order to deepen the value of the gained insight. Once you fully realize what you accomplished during this experience, it will hit you like a ton of bricks. An ah-haa moment!


Ian,
Thank you for your input. I am trying to figure out where these "experiences" fit into the picture. Since these experiences are different than my regular way of experiencing things I figure they must have something to do with the practice. But then I don't know how they fit into the "map".
I have some ideas of the implications of investigating experience to the point of understanding the three characteristics. And I do know that there is a big difference between the idea of that and the actual experience of that. But when these experiences come up I need help in understanding what is of value and where it fits into the big picture.
This is where I need help now. (thank you for taking the time to comment.)

Ian And:

But quite aside from that, noting is only meant to instill awareness of phenomena happening in the present moment. It's an awareness exercise. Being aware only takes a split second. Don't think you have to internally verbalize each object noted. Use it in that way, and you shouldn't feel overwhelmed.
Ian


Thanks for helping me put this in focus. I do have one question. Would you say the experience I had of awareness is a PCE? And if so,. If I can get to that state of awareness what sort of effort would you suggest I make from there? Or should I not try for the PCE experience?

-Gerry

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/21/11 2:23 AM as a reply to Gerry T.
Gerry T:
Ian And:

Gerry T:

On another occasion I was meditating with a group. During the meditation sounds that would normally distract me I experienced as being perfect and I did not identify with them. It was one of those sessions where everything felt perfect and in it's place.

Another moment of insight that you should savor and perhaps investigate further during a vipassana session, in order to deepen the value of the gained insight. Once you fully realize what you accomplished during this experience, it will hit you like a ton of bricks. An ah-haa moment!


Ian,
Thank you for your input. I am trying to figure out where these "experiences" fit into the picture. Since these experiences are different than my regular way of experiencing things I figure they must have something to do with the practice. But then I don't know how they fit into the "map".

I have some ideas of the implications of investigating experience to the point of understanding the three characteristics. And I do know that there is a big difference between the idea of that and the actual experience of that. But when these experiences come up I need help in understanding what is of value and where it fits into the big picture.

This is where I need help now. (thank you for taking the time to comment.)

If what you experienced was to not identify with the sounds and thus not become distracted, what do you think you could do with that ability? Would it help you to investigate an object (in this case sound) more deeply in order to see it more clearly with insight?

I don't follow any of the maps proposed by Daniel and others here, although there are certainly parallels. I follow the original instruction given in the discourses, which points directly at one's experience and attempts to have the observer directly observe and gain insight into phenomena from that direct and stark observation.

There are passages in the discourses which point toward these moments. Such as the following from the Susima Sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya (SN 12.70). The quotation itself is taken from a translation done by Thanissaro Bhikkhu; the words in brackets are Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations of those same words, whose translations I generally prefer over Thanissaro's. Although in this case, I like the choice of the word "unbinding" used at the end of the first sentence as it provides an implication that may be more accessible to general understanding.

"Whether or not you understand, Susima, it is still the case that first there is the knowledge of the regularity of the Dhamma, after which there is the knowledge of Unbinding .

"What do you think, Susima: Is form (any physical phenomenon) constant or inconstant ?" — "Inconstant, lord." — "And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful [suffering or happiness]?" — "Stressful , lord." — "And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, lord."

"Is feeling constant or inconstant?" — "Inconstant, lord." — "Is perception constant or inconstant?" — "Inconstant, lord." — "Are fabrications [volitional formations] constant or inconstant?" — "Inconstant, lord."

"What do you think, Susima: Is consciousness constant or inconstant?" — "Inconstant, lord." — "And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful [suffering or happiness]?" — "Stressful , lord." — "And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, lord."

"Therefore, Susima, any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"Any feeling whatsoever...Any perception whatsoever...Any fabrications [volitional formations] whatsoever...

"Any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.' "

Gerry T:
Ian And:

But quite aside from that, noting is only meant to instill awareness of phenomena happening in the present moment. It's an awareness exercise. Being aware only takes a split second. Don't think you have to internally verbalize each object noted. Use it in that way, and you shouldn't feel overwhelmed.
Ian


Thanks for helping me put this in focus. I do have one question. Would you say the experience I had of awareness is a PCE? And if so,. If I can get to that state of awareness what sort of effort would you suggest I make from there? Or should I not try for the PCE experience?

I don't characterize things in terms of the Actual Freedom material. For that, you will need to discuss these things with those who do.

To respond to the questions you posed, the practice as I have experienced it has nothing to do with "getting to state of awareness" in a meditational sense wherein you experience such shifts only briefly and impermanently; but rather a state of direct knowing or knowledge which naturally acknowledges such shifts in one's perception of reality. It has to do with doing the hard work that makes those shifts permanent (or at least as permanent as anything in this world can be) within one's understanding of reality. Which implies a realization (or insight) into the processes that the mind undergoes while it is sorting out its perception of reality.

Insight is directly seeing things as they are; not just visiting a state of consciousness that briefly shifts one's perception of reality without that perception having become a more overriding fixture, so to speak. Replacing the previous wrongly conditioned state of perception. In other words, Wrong View of reality and phenomena is replaced with Right View of reality and phenomena. When this occurs (and the person fully realizes it), a shift occurs in the person's perception such that liberation from dukkha is achieved. Hence the stock statement: "Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being."

I hope that helps, some.

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/21/11 3:52 AM as a reply to Gerry T.
Gerry T:



Thanks for helping me put this in focus. I do have one question. Would you say the experience I had of awareness is a PCE? And if so,. If I can get to that state of awareness what sort of effort would you suggest I make from there? Or should I not try for the PCE experience?

-Gerry


Hi Gerry. If everything is perfect no further practice needed or possible, youre in PCE. When you know how to trigger PCE, do it sure. When youre here now ,in PCE, just enjoy it and observe. I found even after Enlightenment, the PCE clearly preferable.
One year after AF i can clearly say that i enjoy my life so much each day its amazing. You could check what i wrote about this last year

http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1021240

Enjoy your Path

Christian

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/21/11 7:33 PM as a reply to Christian Ballhaus.
Here's an idea of where I am at with meditating.

I wake up and think of noting my posture. I begin to watch getting up out of bed, turning on the light, walking to the bathroom, etc. Shaving I notice my hand putting shaving cream on my face, note how I lean on the vanity, shave with the razor, etc.

Later, I am getting a coffee filter out of a cabinet, pouring water into the pot, etc.

Driving to work, traffic backs up. I think "the traffic light has not been fixed since it was out yesterday" I put my arm on the armrest and lean against it. I notice the disappointing feeling that begins. I decide to change my posture. Minutes later I realize that I am back in that same posture and the disappointing mood is appearing again. (my attention got lost and I regained it.)

Later, I get out of the car and walk into the building. I continue my awareness of my walking, my posture. I approach some stairs and notice that my awareness had left and is now back. (hmmm....)


To be clear my awareness is not the same as a PCE. It does not have that degree of clarity and "objectivity", but it does have that sense of myself being aware of what I am putting my attention on as apposed to the majority of time when I am not aware of myself paying attention. At those times I might be focusing my attention on something but I am not aware of that focus.

This evening I do my usual 30 minute sitting meditation. (I do this almost every day)

Now what I do when I "sit on a cushion" and "meditate"....
I focus on my breath. I first relax my body. I begin with counting my breath (up to eight, then back down). During this time I will also be aware of my body and note any change in tension. If tension arises I will relax it without losing my posture. (I'm looking at muscular tension) After some time I can drop the counting and focus on the breath at the point of my nostrils. I am focusing on the sensation. I am not looking for visuals. If a visual arises I note it and go back to the sensation. If a thought arises I note it (planning, reflecting, etc) and go back to the breath. If a sensation arises I note it (itching, pain, pressure, etc) and go back to the breath. At times I can catch these things very quickly, other times I find that I had been "identified" with it for a while and then I go back to my breath.

Regarding the question about the three day retreat that I hope to attend;
The bhikkhuni that is going to lead the retreat is "Sister Lisa".
http://anlactemple.org/DacSanAnLac/nuisong.html

This year she will be assisting with the Relics Tour Maitreya Project.
http://www.maitreyaproject.org/en/relic/calendar.html

Also, I am currently studying the middle length discourses as taught by Bikkhu Bodhi.
The audio of this program is at:
http://www.bodhimonastery.net/bm/about-buddhism/15-a-systematic-study-of-the-majjhima-nikaya.html?start=5
(it's only about 100 hours of talks.)

The other material I am reading is "Satipatthana The direct path to realization" by Analayo.

When the Satipatthana Sutta talks about the four satipatthanas the Buddha says to perform them with "diligence, clear knowing and mindfulness". (the four satipatthanas are body, feelings, mind and dhammas)

Would the "clear knowing" part be equivalent to PCE or is clear knowing only possible after fruition?
I ask because when the PCE happens I'm just observing, without judgement, the bare fact of my body.
(I haven't figured out how to get into PCE yet. It just happens.)

If that is not the "clear knowing" that the sutta is referring to then please help me understand it better.

Any help with my practice or understanding (misunderstanding?) is appreciated.

-Gerry

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/22/11 1:09 AM as a reply to Gerry T.
Gerry T:

To be clear my awareness is not the same as a PCE. It does not have that degree of clarity and "objectivity", but it does have that sense of myself being aware of what I am putting my attention on as apposed to the majority of time when I am not aware of myself paying attention. At those times I might be focusing my attention on something but I am not aware of that focus.

That's fine. As long as general mindfulness is steadily increasing, that's the optimum state you want to be aiming for. The more you can cut down on moments of unawareness, the better. It just takes time and practice. Spending time in jhana-type concentration can help condition the mind to increase this kind of mindfulness, I have noticed. In other words, the high level of concentration attained during jhana meditation has a tendency to carry over into waking consciousness. The mind becomes less likely to wander and become distracted from the present moment.

Gerry T:

Also, I am currently studying the middle length discourses as taught by Bikkhu Bodhi....

The other material I am reading is "Satipatthana The direct path to realization" by Analayo.

When the Satipatthana Sutta talks about the four satipatthanas the Buddha says to perform them with "diligence, clear knowing and mindfulness". (the four satipatthanas are body, feelings, mind and dhammas)

Two very excellent books to be reading and contemplating. "Diligence, clear knowing and mindfulness" just refers to the same kind of care, diligence, and mindfulness that you would bring to any act that you want to be fully aware of while performing, such as using a skill saw and being mindful not to cut off a finger. During such acts, your awareness is clearly heightened and mindfulness is at its peak. That's because if you slip up and make a mistake, there are no second takes. So, your awareness and concentration is naturally heightened.

Gerry T:

Would the "clear knowing" part be equivalent to PCE or is clear knowing only possible after fruition?
I ask because when the PCE happens I'm just observing, without judgment, the bare fact of my body.
(I haven't figured out how to get into PCE yet. It just happens.)

If that is not the "clear knowing" that the sutta is referring to then please help me understand it better.

Clear knowing is possible both before and after fruition attainments. When you know something clearly, there is no doubt in your mind. It's like holding up three fingers in front of your face and knowing, "I am holding up three fingers in front of me." It's that simple. Try not to make more out of these terms than would in general be merited. Use your common sense.

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/23/11 6:52 PM as a reply to Ian And.
I've been pondering on the PCE experience in the light of Buddhist concepts.

When I spoke earlier of the "PCE" experience of observing my body during a walking meditation does it make sense to look at it in the following way?

1. I was observing my body, i.,e. one of the five aggregates (Form).

2. Since my mind was "clear" and I observed the body "as if it were the first time", could I say that I was observing the form "at the point of contact"? (If it is even possible to observe something at the point of contact?) I still could identify it as my body so perhaps I was still at the labeling point. But I have to say that I felt no clinging (attraction, or revulsion) So there was no Identification with it.

3. Then, since I felt no identification with it was that an experience of no-self? My answer to this is that I don't know. I have to say that when this event occurred I tried to just stay with it. I did not make the effort of discerning any of the three characteristics of suffering, impermanence or non-self.

When I wondered about this non-self aspect of the experience it brought to mind a couple occasions where I have found that as I wake up from sleeping there is a short period where there is no thought. There was nothing there, no images, no thinking, just blank but I was still "there" observing it. When I observed this I experienced it and then I thought "Wow! No Thought". The second that thought occurred, well, of course the no thought experience was gone.

Gerry

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
6/23/11 6:57 PM as a reply to Gerry T.
Gerry T:
I've been pondering on the PCE experience in the light of Buddhist concepts.

When I spoke earlier of the "PCE" experience of observing my body during a walking meditation does it make sense to look at it in the following way?


This post might be relevant (indeed, the entire thread):

TJ Broccoli:
my application of vipassana was influenced by the insights from an unintended full-on pce one year before my first goenka course. i did not know what it was called and did not hear about af-richard until many years later. those insights were never trumped by any paths that happened later--the pce seemed to show it all--utter no-self, every aspect of impermanence, and zero suffering (thus showing exactly how much suffering was usually present), emptiness of forms, infinitude, causality, clear and pure sensing, and suffering and blindness caused by the identity (when it woke back up). the pce was what helped me know how to apply instructions and know if a technique was working for me or not. but my pce was not quite long enough for me to really process everything fully, and i didn't have one again(i don't count pce-ish events) until life became one, so much of the time i had to rely on the memory of the pce as interpreted by that emotional identity long ago, which had its limitations.


Gerry T:
When I wondered about this non-self aspect of the experience it brought to mind a couple occasions where I have found that as I wake up from sleeping there is a short period where there is no thought. There was nothing there, no images, no thinking, just blank but I was still "there" observing it. When I observed this I experienced it and then I thought "Wow! No Thought". The second that thought occurred, well, of course the no thought experience was gone.

no thought is different than no self. there's still thought in a PCE, and there can be no thought while still being a self.

RE: Progress on the Path
Answer
7/8/11 5:35 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I did the three day retreat. Like most things it wasn't exactly what I expected but it was a good experience.

The retreat was at a temple that's only about 1/2 an hour from home but I stayed overnight anyway. I always have a hard time sleeping in a new place so I didn't get much sleep but I was glad to be away from home and away from thinking about all the things that I should be doing or think I should be doing (fixing) at home.

I realized that I need to lengthen the time that I meditate. Before the retreat I would sit for 1/2 an hour. Now I'm sitting for an hour. I suppose at some point I'll stop using any sort of time frame. I didn't keep track of how long we were doing sitting meditation but we sat then walked then sat again, when we did meditate.

The other thing, which I already knew, is that I need to work more on "the practice" during time off the cushion. I thought that I was making efforts while off the cushion but after being focused for three days I see that I allow too many things to distract me.

We had dharma talks too. Sister Lisa, the bhikkunni that lead the retreat, talked about the six sense organs. Something she said that I had not heard of before was that the mind sense has three layers; the 6th consciousness sense, the 7th layer called Manas and the 8th layer called Alaya. The Alaya was described as the storehouse of perceptions(including perceptions from previous lives). The 6th sense does the recognition and labeling the 7th is where we have a sense of self consciousness. That's where attachments occur. The 8th consciousness can also influence the 7th with "likes and dislikes"

She talked about working on the 7th layer to see the non-existence of the self. She implied that our practice needs to look at the self (or the sense of self that we thing we are.) She also said that we don't use our mind to see the non-self we just be it. This reminded me of what Dan talked about in working towards seeing the three characteristics (in his book The Core Teachings of the Buddha)

On the last morning we took a walk at about 5:45AM. After the walk we sat on some big "slabs" of tree trunks that were setup along a wooden walk way under neath some trees. I sat and started watching my breath. Then I heard the buzz of a mosquito and brushed it away. Then I felt the first sting of another. And another.... I tried watching my breath as best I could but the mosquitos were getting the best of me. I opened my eyes and watched sister Lisa sitting on that tree stump motionless. I watched for quite a while and she didn't move... at all. After a while we stopped and went to breakfast. I don't think she was wearing any mosquito repellent, but I sure could have used some.

Best to all
Gerry

Practice Thread
Answer
7/30/11 6:06 PM as a reply to Gerry T.
I've changed the subject to "Practice Thread" which is what I originally intended this to be.

I'll describe my most recent meditation sitting.

My sitting time is closer to 1 hour now.

When I start focusing on the breath, if my mind is not able to quiet down enough to stay on the breathe I will count the in and out breathe up to 8 and then back down to 1.

I then make an effort to relax the breath and the body (my physical body). This seems to help my mind quiet down enough to focus more clearly on the breath.

Once I get to that point, which only takes a few minutes, I stop counting and just watch the breathe noting whenever a thought occurs.

I try to include my body in the calmness of my breathe. There is still some tension in the body, enough to stay upright in my posture.

If I begin to get tired I will increase my interest in the breath but I don't go back to counting. It feels more like an attitude shift that becomes more interested in the breathe and my body. Sort of like, "ok, things are changing, why are they changing?"

When the tiredness comes on, my attention can get caught up in a thought and I feel myself sort of like falling into the thought that was turning into a dream. When this happened I felt a jolt that snapped me right out of it before I fell into it all the way.

I went back and forth for a while like this between calming my mind to focus on the breathe and increasing my attention on the breathe if I feel myself getting tired. Then after about 40 minutes all of a sudden I felt very clear. My body was not tired, my head did not feel heavy and my attention was really focused on the breath and nothing else. It was a sudden shift. It lasted for maybe a minute. I think my mind started to get in the way of being clear like that and I ended up going back to the previous state.

I tried to think of how I got to that place but couldn't find a way. I just went back to the breath and the rest of the session was like the first part.

-Gerry

RE: Practice Thread
Answer
9/21/11 3:55 PM as a reply to Gerry T.
Questions about noting....

When I attempt the noting practice I pay attention to whatever comes up and while I am doing that I am also checking to see if I like, dislike or don't like whatever comes up. Also, when I am doing this it my attention will still come and go. I mean that I can keep it up only for a short time and then I fall back to the usual state of mind.

Should I keep in my my like/dislike/don't care feeling when noting?

Also when I am attempting the noting practice I have some attention on my body, for example, my posture, or my steps or whatever body feeling may come up. I note it for the time that it is there. Sometimes when this happens I feel a bit estranged from my body. (It doesn't feel like it is my body) Is that to be expected?

Sometimes I will attempt noting but will use my breath as a place to return my attention to. For example today I did a twenty minute walking "meditation" (during my lunch break). I watched my breath but if anything came up (a bird calls, a plane flies over, etc.) I would notice it but not allow my mind to get drawn into it and then return to my breath. I could feel how my mind wants to form some story about the thing that comes up.

When I do the noting should I even attempt to return to the breath or should I just not attempt to focus on anything in particular and just note whatever comes up? That seems to be harder to do. It seems easier to get drawn into things without a focal point to return to.

Am I on the right track with noting?

Gerry

RE: Practice Thread
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9/21/11 4:46 PM as a reply to Gerry T.
Hi Gerry -

Some medical traditions peel the membrane from the inside of an eggshell in order to make use of the parts separately. I.e., the membrane becomes suture material.
Also when I am attempting the noting practice I have some attention on my body, for example, my posture, or my steps or whatever body feeling may come up. I note it for the time that it is there. Sometimes when this happens I feel a bit estranged from my body. (It doesn't feel like it is my body) Is that to be expected?
It seems like your practice is starting to discern and peel apart finer components of a larger bulk. If you are on the DhO for the study of what makes mind and self, then those abilities are relevant. Is it correct to say "your mind" is recognizing Body?

Should I keep in my like/dislike/don't care feeling when noting?
I don't know how the teachers of noting would handle this (such as Mahasi), however, that you are asking this question expresses separation from feeling. Is it correct to say "your mind" is recognizing Feelings?

[I capitalized feelings and body just to render them generic, versus personal, such as "your feelings" since you seem to be showing some separation from both.]

I watched my breath but if anything came up (a bird calls, a plane flies over, etc.) I would notice it but not allow my mind to get drawn into it and then return to my breath. I could feel how my mind wants to form some story about the thing that comes up.

When I do the noting should I even attempt to return to the breath or should I just not attempt to focus on anything in particular and just note whatever comes up? That seems to be harder to do. It seems easier to get drawn into things without a focal point to return to.
During breathing meditation arising thoughts can be used as cues to go back to breathing. The event of arising conception itself can also be studied as object. If the content of the thought-object is ignored and conception itself can be recognized and studied, then there is the birthplace of one's mind. Attending the mind in order to perceive the moment preceding a thought-object allows one to play with reversing the after-the-fact attendance (as you said " how my mind wants to form some story about the last thing that comes up.")

Perceiving this place can bring up emotion and that emotion can feel very real and become the source of action in the same way seeing a shouting person may result in another person shouting. Soooooo, if emotions come up while attending to the moment of arising conception (which will easily come up again and again in a breathing practice), then there's the opportunity to do what you're already doing: identify "like/dislike/don't care". That may point you to another practice, something like how ironing a shirt clean on one side can press a wrinkle on the other side. This can go back and forth a bit until no more wrinkles exist or are added.

RE: Practice Thread
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9/21/11 8:34 PM as a reply to . ..
katy,
Thanks for you input.

katy s:

Is it correct to say "your mind" is recognizing Body?


I think I am seeing my body without the mind making up any story about it. They are just moments for now. Nothing that lasts very long.

Gerry:
Should I keep in my like/dislike/don't care feeling when noting?


katy s:
I don't know how the teachers of noting would handle this (such as Mahasi), however, that you are asking this question expresses separation from feeling. Is it correct to say "your mind" is recognizing Feelings?


Here's an example. I notice my posture as I walk. For a moment it feels like I'm not attached to it in some way. Then I might feel a sense of "isn't that odd, the body is such a strange thing." There is a feeling associated with the "odd" sense of the body. The next moment I might note something else and the thought and odd feeling are gone.

One other point that has come to mind; When I have moments of being present in the moment I feel grateful for them. Even though those moments come all on their own and are different than the moments that I work towards. I think this is somehow important too.

When I am on the cushion I am doing the breath meditation but I also maintain a sense of awareness of my body. I try to let my body relax and feel tranquil while I develop my concentration. During that meditation I just note whatever I feel in the body, or whatever sound I might hear, or whatever thought or mental image appears and I go back to the breathe and continue a sense of relaxed feeling in the body. Also, when I am on the cushion I am aware of the sense of the present moment.

I am trying to do proper noting when I am not on the cushion.

Gerry

RE: Practice Thread
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9/22/11 12:52 AM as a reply to Gerry T.
Here's an example. I notice my posture as I walk. For a moment it feels like I'm not attached to it in some way. Then I might feel a sense of "isn't that odd, the body is such a strange thing." There is a feeling associated with the "odd" sense of the body. The next moment I might note something else and the thought and odd feeling are gone.

Ok: so there's the beginning of the mind's changing its name for an object (aka: applying subjective conditioning the object), though the act of naming has not changed. For example, my mind may have conditioned the object "tricycle" as "fun" when it was four years old; today my mind could condition the same object as "too small".

Is "mind labeling" a relevant notation to note along with the other noting?

One other point that has come to mind; When I have moments of being present in the moment I feel grateful for them. Even though those moments come all on their own and are different than the moments that I work towards. I think this is somehow important too.
This is also the moment of the mind conditioning its object. That's just fine - these are chances to watch the mind overlay its own desired condition (grateful) onto an object (being in the present moment). You mentioned shaving and walking (hips/pelvis rotating) in an earlier post. Those writings seemed to bear the trace of a much simpler conditioning action, that of the mind just noting what is actually happening.

So, the conditions grateful and odd - how are these related to the three characteristics?


Update: you are perhaps already familiar with khandhas (skandhas) - the macro-constituents of sentience. You raise all five in your post and noting observations. Perhaps this article will be useful to you. In buddhism, the khandhas are considered synthetic constructions (aka: delusions, fabrications), yet these are also a basis from which to enlighten (the dissolution into unfabricated)... Anyway, good luck with your practice.

RE: Practice Thread
Answer
9/22/11 6:00 PM as a reply to Gerry T.
I think I am seeing my body without the mind making up any story about it. They are just moments for now. Nothing that lasts very long.
Perhaps study what arises and sees the body. For example, when noting "hand typing", what knows "hand"? How can "hand" be known without assumption, without preconceived reference?