Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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[Link to previous log]

Time for a new log cause the old one was getting a little heavy on my phone. Last log I set out to smooth the ride and it ended up getting pretty bumpy, although that was mostly due to getting sick. I like to think that it was smother than it would have been had I not had a meditation practice to help me through it. But who knows, it seems that every time I get to a better place with meditation it opens up a whole new can of worms. I'm beginning to suspect that's the point. No big ambitions this time, other than trying to stay on this pony.

My current practice is mostly centered around the body and progressive patterns of relaxation and tension release. A year ago I would have thought that was very superficial as I was much more into the intellectual side of things and spiritually ambituous. But over time it's become harder to use my intellect to escape the physical and emotional side of things.

As always, please feel free to add your comments and suggestions. It's been very helpful to me in my practice. Thanks.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I just sat for a while and the quality of my meditation has shifted a little. The strong slightly painful waves of piti have morphed into a sort of golden ball of energy/warmth/light in the belly which slowly expands to fill my body & mind and then contracts again. It's intensely pleasurable, although there is still some of that controlling/grasping "trying to get the right dose" quality I had before. It's very powerful at times and feels like I'm going to be lifted off my seat if I really surrender to it. There's still some thinking although it's less urgent. My breath is getting quite small and there are some long gaps after the outbreath where I try to keep my mind on "where I last saw the breath" as someone put it. Some other words keep coming to mind which are "in the centre of the breath is the nimitta and in the centre of the nimitta is the first jhana". For me the centre of the breath is in the centre of my brain/mind which is where I see the hazy light. That seems to be more like Ajahn Brahm's point of focus rather than a lot of the others who place it at the tip of the nose where personally I've never been able to sense much. I'm worried that I'm going to jinx myself with this anticipatory talk of nimittas and jhanas, so I'm reminding myself that this was really a very nice experience, worth it for its own sake, and my next meditation will very likely suck, especially if I try to recapture this or look for anything beyond it.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I had some success using the self-enquiry method to wake up from the drama-dream during the day. Something like "I'm feeling stressed. Who am I? No one. Ok, it's just stress arising. Gone." There were a couple of days like this and then I fell back into the dream more persistently, although I was still aware in the back of my mind it's just a dream. It feels like the sense of self drops away for a while and it's a great relief, but then old habits of identification slowly restart. The sense of discomfort returns and then I want to wake up again but there's a period of time where I can't make it happen, until the discomfort gets too great and I give up trying and it's ok again. Calm returns and bliss arises, although even in that I recognize a sense of grasping where I'm trying to have a nicer experience for myself rather than just accepting life as it is. It's an impossible situation but it's also kind of recognized as ok and just what's happening even when it feels frustrating.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic

No big ambitions this time, other than trying to stay on this pony.

standard rodeo time for a successful ride is eight seconds, to stay on a bronco or bull. Don't forget to wave your cowboy hat, for style points.

love, tim
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I had the usual hangover after the last deep meditation - a day of heightened irritability. After experiencing the bliss it feels extra painful dealing with family stuff, like I just want to get away and meditate. I'm guess that's the downside of the bliss, getting attached to it and avoiding the rest of your life.

I slipped into the bliss again relatively easily this evening with the aid of reduced breathing. The piti is like a strong drug which you have to learn to handle. At a certain point I lost interest in it and saw the benefit  of hanging out with sukha instead. Once I let that go and moved into EQ then the thoughts started up again. I had to consciously tell myself the benefits of EQ - being secluded from strong feelings/vedana and thoughts which stir up the mind again.

I'm a bit confused about when one is supposed to move into harder jhana. It seems like there is a natural tendency to experience piti & sukha when you deepen the concentration and that starts to feel like cycling through "soft jhanas". Is the nimitta supposed to solidify in soft j4 or you shouldn't think of it like that, it's just access concentration (with hints of jhana factors)? Maybe it really is a jhana cycle and it just gets progressively deeper the more you practice. Anyone have any tips? Maybe I should find a meditation teacher. Any recommendations?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Hi agnostic! I fancy that breathing style of yours. I'm into it these days too (Aikido Ki-breathing). 

Seems to me you have the tendency to "talk yourself into stages and states" rather than observe, be interested in, and describe sensate experience. 

I would suggest to keep that breathing style and body your main priority and don't force the mind, but rather "let the mind join in" once gladened because of the body's calm. You know the "happy body, happy husband" or sumtn' emoticon 

There really is no rush in such "breathing" approaches. It's more like swimming in the sea, with the warm Sun in your back. 
No Jhana or stages to think about or attain to. Just the body doing what it does , breathing in long, pause, breathing out long, pause, ... and there is knowing about this and funny enough there is also knowing about the mind pitching up some scenario stuff on Jhana and Nimitta in the midst of body already knowing what to do. Curious thing emoticon 

I now do separately Ki breathing and Freestyle Noting Aloud. When I feel the need for going more investigatory I go Noting. When I feel to just let the body play the breath violin in D minor I do ki breathing and enjoy the concert without blabbing about Nimitta or Jhana during it emoticon 

So I suggest you do similar. If you see the mind insisting to blabbing about let it do some matter of fact blabbing like Noting. If it's about calming the body then only let into that body breathing, and keep the mind stuff in periphery , let it do its thing and let it join the body breathing when ready (I'm talking not about one single session. It might take up to 6 months until Mind really joins body in this deep breathing and THEN some interesting stuff might pop about emoticon but yes, it's because at that stage you will not have expectations but just "be the breathing" ) 

I hope this helps and does not confuse you even more emoticon 

Take care! 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Thanks Papa Che, you nailed it as usual emoticon You're right, it's my competitive side creeping back in. I felt like I made a bit of "progress" recently and instead of just enjoying it (or noting it) I also want to move the bar higher or get some confirmation or something. So, no more blabbing about jhanas or nimittas and if I start thinking that way then I note it emoticon Sometimes it feels boring just writing about the breath or tension, so again I just note that aversion and return to the breath!
Thanks again,
George
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

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I know emoticon 

We all fall prey to clinging. It's the name of the game until we get tired of it. Clinging can be gross and later on the path it becomes more like a wolf clothed in sheep skin, just mingling amongst us and we fail to recognize it taking form of an "expert" meditator who attained this medal or that belt color emoticon 

it's really more than enough to just take a breather a bit and let the breathing in and out be cognized as long and with or without struggle of gasping for air. I'm sure your breathing style is very similar to the Ki breathing I do. Let the mind do what it wants as long body is staying on the task. Some fun stuff will show its true nature when you least look for it. It's not showing up if you effort towards it. Give up effort. Like all of it. emoticon Breathing in long, hold breath, breathing out long, hold breath ... if mind wants ponder let it do so as long body breathing is still going on. If mind is extremely stubborn as in wants to be the cleaver one doing insight then move away from breathing and give the mind full on 1-5 sensation a second job emoticon Ha! 

Ok. I'm talking too much again. My bad. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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No it's very true what you say, good stuff. I'm going to try noting my experience a bit more plainly in this log and avoid giving my opinion about my practice or intellectualizing it. I know when I'm doing it when I start to imagine I'm teaching or explaining it to somebody, or else trying to link up my experience with what some authority says. I'm still going to follow the general framework of anapanasati though, because it's been helpful and I have confidence in it. Please anyone feel free to call me out or chime in with your own comments or observations though, as I'm sure you can all see things which I'm hiding from myself emoticon 

So, this morning I noticed quivering in the lower lip as I relaxed, as well as the occasional twitch of the nose. Forehead sensations are very minimal and there's a sense of "did I really have all that pain?" Tension in the jaw, neck and shoulders is noticeable, but I'm less concerned about it since my body seemed to know how to let go of the facial pain so maybe I should have confidence it will figure this out as well. There's a feeling of pressure on my chest, but mostly it's just the sensation of contact with my clothes being amplified.

There was quite a lot of thoughts about practicing and writing it up here, but they were the gentle calming kind rather than the urgent unsettling kind. There were feelings of gratitude for support from Tim, Papa Che and the rest of this community, in the form of warm glow in the heart area. I notice a tension in my belly which manifests as a tendency to try to control the breathing, and when I let that go the breathing becomes more relaxed and smaller and there's a feeling of dropping and grounding. The sensations in the perineum are then very pleasant and I notice there's a tendency for the mind to sexualize them, as if that's the only way it can rationalize the experience and quite frankly it's a little bit offended that its own being let go is so pleasurable. There were too many thoughts to allow sustained bliss experiences and I noted how that made me feel dissatisfied and short-changed with the meditation, so there's some attachment to the bliss there. But as attachments go it's one of the less harmful ones and it's something to work with.

There are feelings of irritation and anger relating to thoughts about my current situation of extended living with in-laws and out conflict prone interactions. I try to follow them back to their root - "why am angry about this, because of that, and why am I angry about that etc" - and that seems to reduce the anger somewhat. Mostly it comes down to a feeling of having limited territory or personal space and feeling the need to protect or defend what I have. I can see that they probably feel the same way too, even if I feel the odds are stacked against me - maybe they feel that as well being older.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic:

There are feelings of irritation and anger relating to thoughts about my current situation of extended living with in-laws and out conflict prone interactions. I try to follow them back to their root - "why am angry about this, because of that, and why am I angry about that etc" - and that seems to reduce the anger somewhat. Mostly it comes down to a feeling of having limited territory or personal space and feeling the need to protect or defend what I have. I can see that they probably feel the same way too, even if I feel the odds are stacked against me - maybe they feel that as well being older.

Please give this talk a chance its very short, less than 10 minutes but I find its a very good talk and teaches something trully amazing when it comes to human interactions and it also can help on the path as we get more aware of our aversions and urges with people around us

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDJBKEOe7Pg
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thanks, it's the kind of teaching I usually avoid because it seems so impossible for me. It's hard to even think about practicing compassion for the very people I feel are contributing to my own suffering. I have to remember that my own suffering is self-created and I'm just projecting my own mental states onto those around me. I will try to visualize myself as protected by this golden ball of warm loving goodness which is always accessible to me whatever the circumstances. That could be the "real me" as much as anything else ... why not?!
Thanks again
George
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago.

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I know what you mean. I find it too rather difficult to just be compassionate towards certain people or at all times. It's hard. 

It's easier to start with those we like or love. 

All in all, forcing compassion is not going to do it. Meditation practice will. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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By the way, I like the way you linked it back to the d minor chaconne. That was a nice touch emoticon
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Another mini-sit and some blissful feelings of being enveloped in a warm golden glow. I notice that my mind is better able to take criticism when it's in this state. I recognize that this current situation is the best for my kids and wife given the pandemic and my sickness, so it's just me being selfish about not getting what I want, or rather getting what I didn't want. Either way, it's a good lesson in acceptance and being less selfish.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I just had another session where my breathing got very small. It feels like there is a tug of war going on between the breathing centre in my brain and the rest of my body.   The breathing centre is screaming "too much CO2, breathe now" whereas the rest of my body is saying "wait, this feels great!" At times my abdomen involuntarily tightens to expel more air and fight the urge to breathe. It's not relaxing due to the feeling of air hunger, but every cell in my body is buzzing happily and I'm getting bathed in bliss waves. I put the oximeter on my finger to check there's enough oxygen in my blood and the SPO2 is not dipping too much (94 min down from 98). I guess this is what the Buteklyko people mean by breathing retraining and getting acclimatized to the feeling of air hunger. Once my breathing centre realizes I'm not suffocating it relaxes and I feel less air hunger. Still, it's a bit alarming when many seconds pass between small breaths. It reminds me of watching someone dying when increasingly long periods pass between breaths and just when you think surely they must be dead by now there's another breath, and it goes on for hours like that. It's kind of comforting to think this is what dying might be like and it could be pleasurable.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic:
I just had another session where my breathing got very small. It feels like there is a tug of war going on between the breathing centre in my brain and the rest of my body.   The breathing centre is screaming "too much CO2, breathe now" whereas the rest of my body is saying "wait, this feels great!" At times my abdomen involuntarily tightens to expel more air and fight the urge to breathe. It's not relaxing due to the feeling of air hunger, but every cell in my body is buzzing happily and I'm getting bathed in bliss waves. I put the oximeter on my finger to check there's enough oxygen in my blood and the SPO2 is not dipping too much (94 min down from 98). I guess this is what the Buteklyko people mean by breathing retraining and getting acclimatized to the feeling of air hunger. Once my breathing centre realizes I'm not suffocating it relaxes and I feel less air hunger. Still, it's a bit alarming when many seconds pass between small breaths. It reminds me of watching someone dying when increasingly long periods pass between breaths and just when you think surely they must be dead by now there's another breath, and it goes on for hours like that. It's kind of comforting to think this is what dying might be like and it could be pleasurable.

ag, i have a similar thing with the breath, and almost exactly the same reasoning sequence on it: just beyond the realization of not suffocating, letting the body breathe when it will. Not holding the breath, but not "doing" the next breath either. It really is peaceful as can be, and I do suspect it mirrors the dying process in some way, and it is certainly good practice. we only get one chance to actually die, might as well enjoy it! Practice, practice, practice! It is really a lovely condition, once the mind accepts being "beyond" all this breathing stuff. The time-distortion feels very real, yes. You can get to the point where the next in-breath actually is a real surprise, and feels like rebirth might, like, "Well, now, where do i find myself this time?" Of course, the next birth may suck even worse. But this is why we practice, right? It's a complete circular futility, as i understand it: letting go of  the mistakes we have made, and the dukkha we know, for mistakes yet unmade and fresh variations of dukkha we can't foresee. Or maybe i missed something in the scriptures, lol.

love, tim
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Good to know that it's not just me who plays these games!

As I was falling asleep after meditating last night this semi-voluntary pattern of reduced breathing continued and I found myself getting a bit anxious about the next breath and woke up a couple of times with a gasp. It feels like I might have pushed it a bit too hard and it needs time for the breathing centre to gradually acclimatize to lower levels of breathing.

Clearly anything can be pushed to extremes. Someone mentioned free-diving and obviously there's auto-asphyxiation ... the middle path!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I'm also wondering whether this is why anapanasati puts short breathing after longer breathing, because of the calming effect. This goes against what Buddhadasa says about the short breath being agitating. But he also says to get to know your own breath, so it seems there's some room for experimentation.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I just had a much more relaxed session with reduced breathing. For the first time I felt like I was actually letting go of the urge to breathe. It seems that urge is not in the breathing centre like I thought but higher up in the control part of the brain. When I let it go then it turns out the body knows perfectly well when to breathe and it happens all by itself. Imagine that! I measured my breath rate using my pulse and it was around 5 breaths per minute. That feels really low to me because I'm probably used to doing 10 or 12, but I've heard of people going much lower than that. Most of all it was just really nice and natural, it felt like coming home to the breath. It reminded me of my daughter when she was a baby. She was such a good sleeper and I used to worry that she had stopped breathing. She's always had a really good sense of her own body, unlike her brother who takes after his father!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Mixed noting + serenity session after lunch. Feeling dull due to digestion and a slight headache. Tried focusing on the breath but couldn't focus the mind. Realized it was dark nightish and everything was floating on the periphery, so just grooved to the emptiness of the centre.

I studied the urge to breathe and realized it is completely independent from the actual act of breathing. It's like an itch which you don't know if you are going to scratch or not, and even if you do scratch it might not give satisfaction. Sometimes I give into the urge to breath and it is satisfying because it happpens to coincide with the actual need to breathe, but mostly it is unsatisfying and I realize "oh, I didn't actually need that breath". Eventually I just stopped giving into the urge and the breathing happened when it needed to happen and the urge disappeared. I feel like I could learn a lot from that - it's a template for all kinds of compulsive, controlling, addictive behavior. Interestingly the natural uncontrolled breathing pattern was quite irregular, sometimes long, sometimes short, just like when you hear someone sleeping (and anapanasati steps 1 & 2 :-)).

Once the breathing settled then I wandered vaguely through the later nanas. Haven't done it for a while and couldn't remember everything. There was the sense of just catching the vanishing of phenomena. There was a heartfelt desire for deliverance. There were thoughts about cessation. There was some anxiety, fear and disgust. When that got too heavy then the mind automatically slipped back into serenity mode and bathed in blissiness for a while at the end.

There's a bit of a feeling of failure there, like I could have landed a cessation and blew it. Still I investigated those feelings - who exactly would be landing what? At that point I felt a shift like my mental activity dropped forward in front of me, like here's the brain and here's the vat. Ditto the running logging commentary, I could step back and watch it do its thing without getting involved. Eventually the commentary stopped and I realized if something's happening I will remember it and if not then no problem. At that point thoughts subsided and it was just pre-verbal murky  mental formations. Still feeling a bit edgy, I remember why I took my foot off the vipassana pedal a few months ago. Back then I would push myself more and sit for three hours, now I feel like it's better to take it a bit slower.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

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That's good work. You are walking through the terrain regardless of the weather conditions, and when needed you take shelter because that allows you to maintain a shape that enables you to keep walking the next day. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thanks Linda. I hope you are doing well. Best wishes,
George
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Evening sit. Took about 15 mins to let go of the urge to breathe and sink into reduced breathing (5 breaths per minute). Bliss came on strong. I felt a bit guilty enjoying it all by myself while my wife is sitting downstairs with her parents, so I decided to use it on them. I brought various conflicts into mind and sort of bathed them in the bliss, removing the negative charge. Since there was still some bliss left over I used a bit of it on myself. It seems silly that I'm a difficult grumpy bastard a lot of the time only to get blissed out on the cushion. Lastly I went through various people I've wronged and held them and the transgression in the bliss while I said sorry and promised not to do it again. Don't know how much effect any of this will actually have on my behavior, but it felt authentic and healing. To be fair I had done quite a bit of this before I got sick but being being sick took away my capacity for giving for about 6 months. I hadn't planned any of this, normally reading about this kind of meditation strikes me as a bit cheesy, it all came spontaneously by focusing on giving up control over the breathing. It was a pretty intense experience and then some fear and anxiety started to come on strong, like I was falling into a void, so I decided to call it quits and try to ground myself a little before bed.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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1h morning sit. I realized that relaxing the urge to breathe is different from artificially extending the pause between outbreath and inbreath. With the excitement of all this new Buteyko stuff I've been pushing the pauses a bit, as if it's a competition to lower my breathing rate and extend my control pauses. While that pushes me deeper towards jhana like states faster, it's also forceful and has unpleasant side effects like disorientation and edginess. This morning I realized that the middle way is just to relax the urge to breathe, to be aware of the urge to control the breath, whether that is breathing sooner than necessary or later than necessary. Being aware of that allows the body to find its natural breathing rate, which feels easy and unforced and is pleasantly relaxing rather than a supercharged altered state.

I also realized that yesterday I was confusing the short breath in anapanasati with a small breath. It's like there are two axes - short/long and big/small. Short and small offen go together when stressed and long and small when relaxed, but different variations are possible. For me the point is to observe the variations, to play with them a bit to find the edges and then relax into the middle where it all takes care of itself.

After I got my breathing relaxed (30 mins) I felt nice and peaceful and then my thoughts turned to mind vs brain. It seems easier to forget mind altogether and just think about the brain being a physical organ along with the eye and ears and the rest of the body. Sure there's a tendency to think "but it feels like something different and non-physical to be me in here", but on closer inspection that's just persistent user illusion which the brain maintains along with all the other activity it does. The only mystery about consciousness is that we think there's a mystery at all. Sure I might see something which you don't, so it's "in here" but not "in there". But that just means this brain can react to it and that brain can't, it doesn't imply that "I" have a private audience on the contents of "my" brain. Anyway, not trying to argue or create a theory here, it was more like gentle thoughts along the lines of "ah, that's how it is, no problem, I can relax about it now".

Aftet that episode (20 mins) I felt even more nice and relaxed and just happy to be hanging out with not much thinking at all and being aware of whatever. I felt like I could easily have sat for much longer, but family and work calls.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Afternoon sit during energy crash. Immediately noticed dullness and generalized aversion to all experience. Just noting it and accepting it caused it to lessen and then the breathing settled and piti started up. Realized I have to relax into the piti and just let it wash over. If I get too excited or cling to it then I kill it or it gets stuck. Just have to let it come and go, no big deal. Started reflecting on the 3Cs. You can't push pain away and you can't hold on to pleasure, it all comes and goes. Seeing that caused me to let go of the piti and start bathing in sukha. Noticed I started to think more because it's a less in your face experience, but noticing that caused thinking to subside and sukha to stabilize. Let go of sukha pretty quickly and hung out in equanimity for a bit.

Still felt mild aversion, realized it was that nagging sense  of the observer "in here". Let that go and awareness expanded out into "space". Noticed that space was still a bit "stuffy" and moved on to awareness itself. Noticed that awareness wasn't really a thing apart from awareness of some murky phenomenological quanta. Let those go and focused on "nothing". Realized that nothing was still a bit somethingish, dropped that and left not with perception, because there's nothing to perceive, but not with non perception either, because it's still a state of some kind. This was all a bit scripted and I was thinking my way through it at times. Probably 20 mins in total so pretty soft. Only done it once or twice before a year ago.

After that went back to hang out in regular equanimity. Still felt some piti-sukha waves coming in but declined to folllow them. Tried to note and drop all thoughts of something big or special about to happen. Still left with a nagging sense of aversion causing me to remain stuck. Recalled that I've been here before a couple of times a year ago and something did happen. Wondered if I like being stuck here and/or am afraid of losing something or not making it back. Told myself it will all still be here when I get back and it's no big deal, lots of people have been through this.

Focused back on that uncomfortable centrepoint of experience again. Felt the brain sort of flatten out at that point and a weird sense of the hemispheres separating and being rejoined by a channel. Started to feel it was getting a bit too intense again, like there's still some structural shifts or settling needed and no need to push it further right now. Trust the process and the body/mind to know what to do in its own time.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Bedtime session, 1h ish. Mostly hanging out bathing various pains in sukha. Some emotional pains from wife getting angry with me earlier. Some physical pains from relaxing tension in jaw, neck and chest - feeling like heavy weights hanging off those areas. Really appreciative of having a strong stable sukha glow to bathe that stuff in. Almost no piti, mind seemed to know exactly where to go with this stuff. First time I've really spent a long time getting to know sukha all by her lovely self, fell in love a bit. Night night.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Morning session. Nice warm sukha glow was still there, despite mind whirling with unsatisfactory thoughts. Dominant physical sensation is a tension in the throat. This is an old area of contraction which started when I was about 10, in the form of compulsive clenching and vocalizations. I recall the throat chakra is related to self expression, so hypothesize this is something to do with the feeling of not being able to express myself. Back then I really wasn't able to express myself (exiled to boarding school). Nowadays I tend to put myself in situations (mostly just imagined) where I feel unable to express myself. I started to run through things I feel unable to express, but it didn't feel like it was getting to the root of the tension. Instead I tried droppping the ideas and bathing the tension in sukha, which felt more healing. Indeed it started to feel like genuine compassion for myself.

Stuff like this used to make me think "oh there's goes another self-absorbed Buddhist saving the world", but I realize now it's impossible to feel genuine compassion for others if you don't feel compassion for yourself. It can be an uncomfortable fact at times but everyone needs compassion, whatever they have done. Eventually I felt as if I was being bathed in compassion, bliss and the breath all at the same time. This is a totally new feeling for me. Then the intensity dropped and I started to feel a bit more dispassionate about the whole thing. Back to reality, I'll just see if I can piss everyone off a bit less today LOL.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Short mid-afternoon sit. The sukha is immediately glorious. I'm just sitting there like a love-struck idiot, gawping at the beauty of it, tears welling in my eyes. It's almost painfully beautiful. Part of that pain is the poignancy of it, knowing this is by far the most beautiful thing I have experienced and yet it cannot really be shared. Painful also is the knowledge that the beauty is proportional to the degree of letting go - it makes a mockery of all mundane efforts to control experience and create a better life. And yet it is still unsatisfactory, because I'm still there in the middle of it and that sense of being the owner of the experience creates dissatisfaction. But I'm reluctant to let go of that because I'm transfixed by the beauty. The words of Maha Bua keep running around in my head, something to the effect of "this is the true avijja (ignorance) and yet you don't recognize it." It's like this is the purest essence of everything we consider to be special, beautiful and valuable. And you're supposed to turn your back on that? Total respect for the cold-hearted motherfucker who can just shrug and walk on by.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Short evening sit. Getting more accustomed to the new level of sukha/bliss. Spent time savoring it, bathing pains in it and also gently investigating it.

Pains are 1) pulling sensation on lower lip, as if there was a weight attached to a fishhook hanging off it (probably payback for the time I spent fishing as a youngster - I was always uncomfortable with actually catching the fish); 2) tension in throat, as if my vocal chords are being stretched; and 3) pressure on chest bone, as if there was a weight on there. These pains are mild by comparison with the facial pains I had and I'm more accepting of them and comfortable they will get worked out. Technique is to relax into them and feel the fluctuations, try to get the waves to join up with the ambient bliss field.

When I was dominated by piti I couldn't really distinguish the sukha and appreciate it much. Now when I sit the sukha is immediately present and it's kind of there in the background off the cushion as well. It's mellowed me out a bit and judging by people's reactions to me today I'm being less of an arsehole. I can still generate piti if I want to but it feels way too coarse and unpleasant by comparison with the sukha.

In terms of investigation, being critical here, whereas the piti was too fizzy, the sukha is a little too sugary, a bit sickly sweet. It also has its own intensity to it which gets a little tiring. I couldn't drop the sukha though, it was just getting more intense and since I'm tired and have zero inclination to push things right now, I'm calling it a night.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic:
Short evening sit. Getting more accustomed to the new level of sukha/bliss. Spent time savoring it, bathing pains in it and also gently investigating it.

Pains are 1) pulling sensation on lower lip, as if there was a weight attached to a fishhook hanging off it (probably payback for the time I spent fishing as a youngster - I was always uncomfortable with actually catching the fish); 2) tension in throat, as if my vocal chords are being stretched; and 3) pressure on chest bone, as if there was a weight on there. These pains are mild by comparison with the facial pains I had and I'm more accepting of them and comfortable they will get worked out. Technique is to relax into them and feel the fluctuations, try to get the waves to join up with the ambient bliss field.

When I was dominated by piti I couldn't really distinguish the sukha and appreciate it much. Now when I sit the sukha is immediately present and it's kind of there in the background off the cushion as well. It's mellowed me out a bit and judging by people's reactions to me today I'm being less of an arsehole. I can still generate piti if I want to but it feels way too coarse and unpleasant by comparison with the sukha.

In terms of investigation, being critical here, whereas the piti was too fizzy, the sukha is a little too sugary, a bit sickly sweet. It also has its own intensity to it which gets a little tiring. I couldn't drop the sukha though, it was just getting more intense and since I'm tired and have zero inclination to push things right now, I'm calling it a night.

I think "being less of an arsehole" is the highest practice! And yeah, fuck that sukha/bliss stuff beyond a certain point, get your sleep. Let the ambient bliss field ambiate according to dependent origination.

love, tim
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Ah yeah, thanks for the reminder about DO - nothing special about these experiences, just a function of letting go. Getting attached to them will just created its own  problems emoticon 

What happened to your log Tim? Kind of missing a warm beer at the Bardo of Last Resort these days ...
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Short morning sit. The sukha/bliss was more mellow and I noted that I felt wistful about that, so I reflected on the disadvantages of being attached to it. That allowed me to drop the remaining sukha and settle into equanimity. The defining characteristic seemed to be a certain kind of coolness, like suddenly finding yourself in a cool air pocket on a hot day. The simile of being draped in a white sheet also came to mind. I found it hard to appreciate the benefits of equanimity until I had experienced being blissed out to the max. I tried rekindling piti and then dropping back through sukha into equanimity just to confirm what was going on. In summary: piti = fizz, sukha = sugar, equanimity = cool. It felt like I could spend a long time just hanging out in equanimity, but I was interrupted by my son wanting to play, god bless him. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Bliss all the way, a little more mellow. Occasional piti wave traveling downwards from the heart to the seat, very pleasurable. Jaw and throat opening up, still a little tensed. Heart radiating more, still some chest pressure. Trying not to get emotionally carried away by the bliss, some gentle investigation but leery of killing it prematurely as I feel like it's doing some important healing. Bliss got a little intense and tiresome after 45 mins, turned it down and tried to shift into equanimity but mind was too stirred up and was getting tired. Off the cushion experience is a bit more spacious and calm, although the usual aversions are still rattling around in the background. Generally happy to be having a deeper experience of the jhana factors, giving me more confidence in and gratitude for the Buddha's teachings.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Still feeling pretty blissy. I started worrying that if I get accustomed to it then I will be annoyed when it passes, but I reminded myself that it is just generated by letting go. That in itself was enough to let go of the worry and turn up the bliss. I don't want to declare victory yet, but it's nice to think that problems can be addressed by letting go and bathing them in bliss. That might sound like bypassing, but I recall Ajahn Brahm saying somewhere in his book that if he has a problem then he goes into jhana for a while and the solution usually presents itself. Who knows, maybe he's a spiritual bypasser too emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic:
Still feeling pretty blissy. I started worrying that if I get accustomed to it then I will be annoyed when it passes, but I reminded myself that it is just generated by letting go. That in itself was enough to let go of the worry and turn up the bliss. I don't want to declare victory yet, but it's nice to think that problems can be addressed by letting go and bathing them in bliss. That might sound like bypassing, but I recall Ajahn Brahm saying somewhere in his book that if he has a problem then he goes into jhana for a while and the solution usually presents itself. Who knows, maybe he's a spiritual bypasser too emoticon

yeah, this bliss stuff is clearly fucking you up bad, mate. Another yogi bites the dust in bliss. It's sad to see it. I will dedicate my dukkha to you, like sending flowers to a funeral.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I just need them to reopen that damn Bardo of Last Resort and then I can go on a proper bender.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Afternoon sit. Sukha has mellowed and tensions in jaw, throat and chest are more apparent. Focused on relaxing those areas and trying to "caress them with attention", which caused some powerful rushes of piti. Spent most of the session repeating that process, with slightly different areas of focus and depth. The experience of piti  definitely varies depending on which part of the body I'm unknotting. I tied to apply the lessons I learned from clearing my forehead pains: relax, flow, breathe. That took about a year and I don't want to protract this process unnneccesarily. The confidence which comes from knowing it can be done helps. A couple of times I moved past piti and into early sukha, but new tensions and piti rushes would come back. It's a tiring process and that's another lesson I learned before: it can't be forced, have to let it happen in its own time. Better to sit for shorter periods more frequently rather than try to clear it all out in one monster sit, which leads to frustration and fatigue and ultimately protracts the process I think.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening session. Powerful tension release session. Started with the throat tension and somehow dropped the labels and got much more interested in the actual sensations. Observed a fascinating array of interleaving sensations, chromatic richness, forgot it was pain or tension at all. Was drawn to the edges where the sensations undulate and ripple into the surrounding areas. Tried to find the centre but it as empty, just a hole where the label was applied.

At this point I got drawn into a beautiful melded piti-sukha bliss state with a lot of emotional release. Feelings of joy and satisfaction at gaining some mastery over the mind, as well as sadness about all the things I was letting go of. Releasing specific tensions brought to mind things like success, talents, renown, money - all the things I was so attached to and have deep roots in my body.

I felt like I could have gone further but the intensity was strong and I'd rather let it out bit by bit than fry myself.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Short morning sit. Similar dynamics to last night of tension release and piti-sukha. There was a strategizing mind loop running something like this:-

"While this is very pleasant and it's nice to have some ability to control the mind, I know this is not 'it' and I don't want to get stuck here. On the other hand, I know I have a strong critical tendency so I should give myself a chance to enjoy it for what it is and let the healing process work."

What I notice here is impatience and some aversion to the bliss, as well as a false sense of being in control of the process. In reality the piti-sukha is just a mechanical reaction to letting go, and letting go happens when dukha becomes strong enough and the right conditions arise.

I guess the correct strategy is to stay as close as possible to the actual physical sensations and avoid theorizing, or at least see it for what it is - a misguided attempt to reassert control? I'm interested if anyone has any suggestions ...
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Hi George,

We haven't exchanged much yet.

I think you should wallow in the bliss and let it lead you on.

What you're writing reminds me of a certain time in my practice when i was practicing using AB's book. It led to very positive stuff. Stop overthinking it and just enjoy meditating please emoticon emoticon You're not gonna get stuck, and if you do, that's a problem for the future. It's easier to go from bliss to discernment than the other way around. A smooth and joyful mind is the most conducive to deep insight.

Cheers,

Olivier.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Thanks Olivier, that's exactly what I needed to hear! 
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Zachary, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Olivier:
Hi George,

We haven't exchanged much yet.

I think you should wallow in the bliss and let it lead you on.

What you're writing reminds me of a certain time in my practice when i was practicing using AB's book. It led to very positive stuff. Stop overthinking it and just enjoy meditating please emoticonemoticon You're not gonna get stuck, and if you do, that's a problem for the future. It's easier to go from bliss to discernment than the other way around. A smooth and joyful mind is the most conducive to deep insight.

Cheers,

Olivier.

I agree. Feeding on this jhanic bliss is still feeding (perhaps why you feel guilty) and yet it's a more skillful form of feeding than the usual things the mind uses as food sources. You can think of it as "trading up" to better ways of feeding. If you're able to feed on the bliss and feel satisfied, then you're less likely to go out into the world and cause problems for yourself and others in trying to secure the mind's food supply in other ways (whether it be material, emotional, etc.) So a better way to orient yourself aroud the bliss is that you're actually doing yourself and others a big favor by making yourself feel good just sitting there doing nothing, on some level it's a practice in compassion and generosity. 

I am more or less paraphrasing something Thanissaro Bhikku talked about but I can't find the exact source at the moment. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Thanks Zachary, that's a really helpful way to look at it. The guilt is ridiculous. It's amost as if I feel more guilt sitting there getting blissed out doing nothing than I did about all the harmful ways I was feeding before. There's a kind of cognitive dissonance - the materialist mind can't comprehend getting so much pleausure from doing nothing!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Afternoon sit. Sukha/bliss was gone, mind felt sluggish and discontented. Normally this would be a yucky dark night session, but the idea popped into my head of trying to observe the parallel between the third vipassana jhana and the third samatha jhana (or at least what I know of it from the experience of sukha). Specifically I was observing that attentional aspect of things being on the periphery. The yuckiness was on the periphery but the centre was calm and empty, similar to the experience of sukha. That's all it took to reignite the sukha and make me feel happy again about sitting. The thought crossed my mind that if discontent can be overcome so easily on the cushion, maybe it can be applied off the cushion as well.

Anyway, after that I was back into relaxing body parts and experiencing piti rushes as before. Still it was quite exciting and tiring and the mind would balk at fully settling, either spinning thoughts or generating strong piti rushes. Afterward I re-read the part of Ajahn Brahm's book about the different kinds of piti and realized that I might be focusing on the more physically thrilling piti at the expense of the calmer variety born of letting go. There's a lot in that book I overlooked or forgot, including his account of anapanasati which has some good practical tips. The takeaway was to keep doing what I'm doing but look for a calmer experience.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Following Ajahn Brain, trying to calm the experience of piti-sukha so it's less of a physical rush and more of a stable mind bliss. Had some success and moments of intense stillness and the mind lighting up a little. Trying to cultivate the peace and beauty of it so that thoughts lose their appeal. Dropping the guilt and aversion to the bliss - why feel bad about feeding the mind healthy food for a change?
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Morning sit. Following Ajahn Brahm's description of anapanasati now. It's simpler than Buddhadasa and more directly aimed towards jhana. I'm noting less to minimize thoughts and the tendency to create a narrative around my experience to post afterwards. Not much point in focusing too much on the tensions and pains because they tend to reduce naturally once the bliss (piti-sukha) arises. Working on a calmer experience of the bliss now, in preparation for a more stable experience of citta. Realizing that if too many thoughts arise during the later stages then it's because I didn't spend enough time in the preparatory stages (present moment awareness and silent present moment awareness). But that's ok because at any point I can go back a couple of steps and boost it up. Actually it's quite useful to do that because you get a better sense of the purpose of each step. Will post a more detailed description of the steps if I have time and anyone is interested.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I'm just posting my summary of Ajahn Brahm's approach to anapanasati from his book Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond. This is to imprint it in my mind so I don't need to think about it too much while I'm actually practicing, as well as for anyone who is following. I was following Buddhadasa's book Mindfulness of Breathing before, but he has more of a vipassana approach at the citta stage (step 9) whereas Ajahan Brahm is more purely focussed on jhana which appeals to me more at the moment since I'm mostly practing samatha. As always, comments welcome.

Preliminary Steps

Step 1: Present-Moment Awareness.
Give your attention to the present moment, abandoning all thoughts about the past and future.

Step 2: Silent Present-Moment Awareness. Abandon all thoughts and inner speech about the present moment (including running commentary on your meditation) by attending to each successive experience very closely. As a way of solidifying your intention, you can set up a gatekeeper to the mind with the instruction not to let any unwanted thoughts enter.

Anapanasati

Steps 1 & 2: Awareness of Breathing.
Start focusing on the breath, observing when it is long/short, heavy/light, rough/smooth etc.

Step 3: Awareness of the Whole Breath. Immerse your mind fully in the whole process of breathing (sabba kaya patisamvedi).

Step 4: Calm the Breath. As you relax your breath will calm down, which calms the body (breath is called kaya sankhara which means body conditioner). In practice I tend to find myself circling around steps 1-4 a few times. When I start focusing on the breath it is normally a bit uneven. When I relax it becomes smoother, slower and smaller (carbon dioxide buildup which is relaxing). But relaxation brings release of bodily tensions, which can cause the breath to become uneven again and the process restarts.

Steps 5 & 6: Experience Joy & Happiness. With relaxation comes the experience of joy & happiness (piti-sukha). According to AB sukha can’t be experienced separately from piti until the third jhana proper, which I haven’t experienced. I have developed a sense of piti as more of a physical feeling of exhilaration and sukha as a more emotional feeling of happiness, but I think this is unhelpful at this stage as it caused me to get excited by piti which makes the breath uneven again and stirs up the mind. It seems better to focus on piti-sukha as a single package of bliss and try to make it as smooth and beautiful as possible, without getting excited by it.

Step 7: Experience the Citta Sankhara. Citta is the mind and depending on your translation sankhara is either the conditioner or the thing conditioned. Either way, you are transitioning from piti-sukha being a physical & emotional experience to being a purely mental experience.

Step 8: Calming the Citta Sankhara. You can get excited by the experience of piti-sukha, so try to calm it as much as possible. I tend to find myself circling around steps 5-8 as well.

Step 9: Experiencing the Mind. Aim for an experience of pure mind, which ultimately gets reflected as a nimitta. I can only experience the beginnings of this because my mind is not yet calm enough, so I won't post the rest of the steps into jhana and beyond.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Afternoon sit. Deepened and stabilized the experience of piti-sukha bliss a bit further. When it gets really calm I notice there is a slight wobble or shimmer in the experience of the bliss/breath/mind (they are tending to get merged at this point). I realized that it's due to trying to hold onto the experience a bit to tightly or control it. When I let go of that it then it stabilizes further. There is still some anxiety and excitement due to the depth/intensity of the experience. It's hard not to get exited when you are finally experiencing the bliss you only thought happened to other people in fairy tales. The anxiety comes from the fear of being annihilated by the bliss - it's so much bigger than me or anything I've ever experienced before. The key here I think is just to take it slowly and give myself a chance to acclimatize. I would be lying though if I said I wasn't excited to be making some progress and greedy for more, which of course is counter-productive.

I try not to spend too much time thinking about it, but I can't help speculating about the tension in my throat. The forehead pains I experienced seemed to be related to neurotic ways of thinking. From what I've read about chakras, the throat is related to speech. That's definitely an area I could work on. I tend towards sarcastic or cynical speech, or to say things which I know will antagonize or annoy other people. Mostly it's fairly low level but it's still indicative of a pervasive level of ill will. If I can correct this then it would be good for everyone around me and I imagine it would contribute further to calming my mind.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Breath was somewhat uneven, due to deeper release of tension down in the belly region now. There were ripples of energy down my body, similar frequency and feeling to the bliss wobble from earlier. Mind was stirred up by the new sensations and it felt like I was sitting on a piti volcano which I dare not release all at once. Calm was more elusive but that's fine, I've been here before, it's a familiar pattern of progressive tension release. Feelings of gratitude and confidence about practice.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Woke up early feeling edgy and disatisfied after an emotionally charged materialistic dream. I was sailing a fine old yacht with my mother and kept making mistakes. It's interesting because normally it was my father who is the hyper-critical one, but she can be very judgemental and in this dream I felt ashamed of my incompetence. It seems the yacht is a symbol of my mother and my inability to please her. Old baggage, time to let it go methinks.

It's interesting that I should dream about my mother just when the bliss is getting so powerful and satisfying. I know that people tend to project deities as being perfect all-loving mothers or fathers. I don't want to reify the bliss too much, but there could be a bit of that going on here and I don't think it's an unhealthy transference, at least temporarily. The bliss seems to be a place that I can reliably go to for those things I couldn't get from my mother - acceptance, comfort and unconditional love.

Throat tension was stronger (or awareness of it is increasing) but I'm trying not to obsess about it. Reminding myself that I didn't cure my forehead pains by thinking about my neuroses; they just dissolved due to a mixture of proper breathing, gentle awareness, relaxation and the passage of time.

I was able to calm my breathing more this morning. I found it helpful to repeat phrases to myself like "relax, it's ok, you don't need to go anywhere, everything you need is right here, no need to think about it, just sit back and let it happen, enjoy." Sounds cheesy but it really works!

I finally made the connection with what people mean by this "rotor" effect. I realized they are talking about the sound of a helicopter from a distance right? I think that's the same thing as this wobbling or shimmering vibration in the bliss I've been describing. I also think it's the same thing as the very harsh vibration that I experience occasionaly during sleep paralysis. It seems to be different variations of the same underlying phenomenon depending on the mental state - the result of clinging too tightly to certain aspects of mental or physical experience. Maybe AB is even referring to the same thing when he talks about the tendency of the nimitta to wobble in the first jhana due to trying to hold onto it, which is how he says vitakka-vicara manifests at this depth. Or maybe I'm just succumbing to my tendency to over-generalize, which is a kind of intellectual power grab!

Anyway, the trick I found which works is the same as how I learned to escape the sleep paralysis vibrations, which is to relax and fall into sync with it, so that there is no tension left to sustain the vibration. I played around with relaxing my jaw tension and noticed that at first the tension felt like a solid block because the vibration frequency was so high I couldn't even "hear" it. Then I relaxed it a little and it became a high pitched hum. Relaxing more it became the 10hz rotor which feels loud and throbbing. Relax more and it was the 1hz wobble. Relax that and it's gone. It explains why deep relaxation can feel more stresssful at first, as the vibration falls into the auditory range and the more noticeable frequencies.

I was posting as I meditated this morning and clearly a lot of theorizing about mechanics and less attention on the breath. I just wanted to get the techniques down so that next time I don't have to think about them and can get back to the breath!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Afternoon sit. The latest lower tension release has bedded in a bit and the bliss was calmer and more stable. It's nice to see the relaxation cycles shortening, although I'm wary of getting over-confident in case I hit a big block. I'm learning the benefit of patience, just sitting and waiting for the bliss to mature at its own pace. I was definitely like the foolish mountain cow in the Gavi Sutta before, impatiently trying to skim through the jhanas so that I could say I had been there. It's really quite beautiful and healing bathing in bliss during the preliminary stages. I realized that I could be quite happy whatever else happened so long as I had access to this, and since this is born of letting go there's no external reason why it should not be accessible.

I also noticed in the Gavi Sutta that all the characteristics of mind which Buddhadasa lists under step 9 of anapanasati are actually listed in the sutta as being discerned after emerging from nirodha samapatti (following 8th jhana). This gives me more confidence in Ajahn Brahm's interpretation of steps 9-12 as being about entering jhana, although I wonder why the sutta wouldn't just say you enter jhana at step 12 and start contemplating anica (step 13) after emerging from jhana. Maybe it's a deliberate ambiguity to allow the framework of anapanasati to be used for applying insight after both "hard" and "soft" jhanas ... Anyone care to comment?
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. A more physical session. Different cross currents of tension release colliding and producing strange energetic effects, vibrations and slight pain at times. Piti when it came was also quite harsh and painful. Couldn't settle into sukha. Didn't feel like pushing it too much, prefer to sleep and let this one open up a little and settle on its own.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Morning sit. Noticed slight dissatisfaction due to aversion (to tension in throat) and desire (to make progress towards jhana). Noticing these hindrances was enough to calm them down. I remembered that one does not have to worry about calming the body directly. The instruction in step 4 of anapanasati is calming the body conditioner (kaya sankhara), i.e. calm the breath and it will automatically calm the body. And it worked!

With the arising of rapture & happiness (piti-sukha) I noticed that the mind was still not calm, there were agitating thoughts. The instruction in step 8 immediately came to mind: calm the mind conditioner (citta sankhara). The paralell was clear - you don't need to worry about calming the mind directly, just calm the feelings of rapture & happiness and it will happen automatically.

I found myself getting into a nice feedback loop, where the calming and deepening bliss was increasing the concentration and the concentrating was increasing the bliss. I realized that I needed to do less and less, the process was becoming self-sustaining. It wasn't perfect of course, I got excited about figuring it out and started thinking again about posting on here, but the process is suddenly a lot clearer.

THAT'S ALL YOU'VE GOT TO DO FOLKS - READ THE DAMN INSTRUCTIONS (MN 118)!!! Only took me 2 years of trying to reinvent the wheel before I figured it out.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Deep tension release session. Felt like my jaw, throat and chest were being pulled in different directions, but there was strong piti-sukha to take the edge of the discomfort. I had a strong sense that my body knows just how much tension it can release at a time. I found myself saying in my head "I trust you my body to know what to do". Any attempts to control or direct it are counterproductive. Towards the end I got tired and the mood got darker. It was a little dark nightish - random disturbing images popping up and uncomfortable sensations. Rather than push on decided I needed a rest. All in good time.

I'm not going to post after every session now to avoid repetition and reduce the overhead. I often find myself composing didactive posts in my head and suspect that it's a form of aversion - trying to formulate my experience as a way of avoiding fully experiencing it.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Seemed to be in dark night territory but it is not so clear now I'm not psychologizing (taking it personally) so much. The usual trick worked of accepting that the focus was on the periphery and ending of phenomena, not getting frustrated at missing the center and beginnings. There were powerful downward pulling sensations on lips, jaw, neck and chest. Spent the whole session surfing the border between pain and pleasure. Concentration wasn't great but even small amounts had big effects. 5 seconds focused purely on the breath would generate powerful energy bursts. It was the harsh kind of piti, kundalini or whatever it's called. I kept resolving to stay as focused as long as possible, but 30 secs was about the most I could manage at a time before the energy threw me off or it started to feel too much like I was forcing it. The vibrations were quite noticeable and a general downward progression of energy. At the end the fireworks calmed down but by that time I was tired and lost focus. Don't feel as frazzled as I normally would after such as session, maybe I'm getting better at processing the energetic purification or whatever it is. Off the cushion I'm generally a little less unpleasant to be around. It's easier to be less hyper sensitive and critical when you know that bliss is only a 5 minute sit away.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Afternoon sit. First energy crash in a couple of weeks. Bit disappointing but it was a clear result of over exertion, stress and not enough sleep, so I need to heed the warning and stick to my regime which has really helped with chronic fatigue. The moment I sat I noticed I was dissatisfied due to greed for more bliss and progress, which was causing me to get stuck. I reminded myself to enjoy the bliss I had and forget about jhanas, which was enough to turn up the bliss dial. Still I noticed a mild dissatisfaction and critical mindset throughout the sit. It's also coming from my attitude off the cushion, so I spent some time reminding myself to be grateful that I have everything I want or need. The negative effects of being dissatisfied with what you have and greedy for more are immediately observable in this kind of samatha practice, which one of the main points I guess. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Unusually mellow sit for me. Earlier I read this article by Ron Crouch about the "psychological self" vs no-self and how the self is just a process, the problem is mistaking it for something more than that. Nothing earth-shattering, but it was a gentle reminder of some stuff that I had obsessed about 6-12 months ago. Anyway, my sit was a pretty mellow dark night broadening into a quite comfortable equanimity. Bliss levels were very mellow, more of a light mood and less strong energetic phenomena. There was some gentle investigation going on rather than the normal obsessive thinking. Something like "oh here's this self process running, just a piece of software, no problem, if there's a bug I can fix it otherwise it's just running in the background doing its thing". Things were unusually calm and then it got really quiet and still and some fear and anxiety arose, which was amenable to invesigation as well. There's still a baseline of anxiety there and I realized it's probably better for me to spend more time just chilling out in these kind of states rather than forcing anything. I recognize now that whatever kind of cessation experiences I had before, they were quite destabilizing because I didn't have a stable base of equanimity or serenity to work off.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Still feeling relatively calm. I would guess equanimity nana or soft fourth jhana. In terms of Ajahn Brahm style hard jhana/anapanasati it's more like learning to appreciate a subtler flavor of piti-sukha in the preparatory stages. There's some investigation going on because it's a relatively unfamiliar state for me. There's also a bit of excitement, like "hey I'm in equanimity!" Whatever it is, it feels like a nice cool breeze.

Off the cushion there's a feeling of more spaciousness and ease, like everything is ok. Again it's a new feeling for me and there's still some doubt and anxiety, so I need to give it time to settle and gain more confidence that it's consistently available. I notice there's a tendency to think more about how far there is still to go rather than reflect on how far I've come, which is a form of self criticism. There's also a strong urge to post about by progress, which reflects my insecurity. Best route seems to be through the middle - just enjoy it for what it is - no need to overthink it. I'm gaining more confidence that the body and mind basically know how to heal themselves and whatever I think I am, I'm just along for the ride.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Afternoon sit. Stressful work day and another (smaller) energy crash. Yucky feeling was pretty strong when I sat but latching onto the breath generated powerful bliss. I became aware of a basic aversion to the present moment though - either not blissful enough or not calm enough. I told myself that by definition the present moment can't be any different from the way it already is, which brought some acceptance and calm. However I couldn't quite shake all of the aversion.

It's strange, apart from brief spells in equanimity I feel like my aversion to the present moment is stronger now than when I started meditating a couple of years and possibly paths ago. I suspect it's because back then I thought that meditation would somehow make me a better person and my life better, so I had a higher tolerance for the nitty gritty details of my actual experience. Now I've got a more realistic view of things that's no longer possible. I'm not saying there haven't been any positive changes, but I suspect that as long as I continue to think that there's this thing called my life which I'm in control of and need to make better then that basic level of disatifaction will continue. I guess that once you've stopped the really harmful behavior then the only thing that can actually make your life any better is accepting it for what it is. I definitely don't think my personality has changed much. In some ways it's become more entrenched. Possibly I take it a little less seriously now and am able to let it run more quietly in the background. Anyway, enough stuff, back to the present moment.

EDIT: I'm probably just reading too much into a mini dark night here!
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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this is kind of the dark night of the latter half of awakening. the trite promises of perfection are seen as obviously untrue. we are still very much who we always were (although maybe there is some feeling of at least feeling free to be that person). the future is uncertain as ever and it's even more clear that we don't have control over it. life really does have the sense of being coated in dukka, just like buddha said. and even though we're suffering less, we are noticing it more. and, furthermore, what the heck is awakening anyway???

the things that are left to be discovered are very subtle at this point. the insights that happen are small in some sense, but they pervade so much of experience that you might call them big, too. they are so big by being so small.

just an encouragement to keep exploring and being curious, starting with that sense of ill will / aversion. what IS it?
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Not two, not one, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Hey Agnostic,

It's also interesting to reflect back on your azuric enlightened no self moment a few months ago. You can maybe see now that it was all really quite real and close, and very valid from a particular perspective. But something about the relationship to the insights creates an absorption, and this leads to some temporary barriers and some clinging to something.

Often some undiscovered karmic/behavioural knot pushes you subtly off the truth you have discovered.

But it is very subtle. So as you get closer to the end, these little knots of delusion need to be ferreted out. There is something increasingly about the letting go, and acceptance, and stopping clinging to the insights. Really subtle, but somehow really huge too, as Shargrol says.

Also, it's worth it. emoticon

Much love

Malcolm 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Thanks for the feedback Malcolm and Shargrol, you gave me a chance to reflect.

The depersonalization experiences of a few months ago were profound, albeit terrifying because they were premature. Being able to see that it was possible to basically function for a while without a sense of self changed something.

One thing that happened after that is I felt a need to intellectualize the experience and relate it to some kind of framework so that I could defend it on here in front of you fine folks :-)

The other thing that appears to have happened is the reassertion of this painful knot at the centre of experience. As you say Shargrol, it's small but it feels big because it casts a shadow over everything and I'm much more aware of it now I've had a glimpse of experience without it. I know it's an artificial construction but it's impossible to get a good view of it because it IS the point of view so there's nowhere to see it from. Without it there is just everything else as it already is.

So yeah, it's a little knot floating in the sea of everything, it knows it's days are numbered and yet still it keeps on clinging because that's its raison d'etre. The ill will/aversion comes from knowing that it's painful and doesn't have to be this way, and yet it's still there. It's like someone who has decided to give up drinking because the pain outweighs the pleasure and yet they are still getting drunk out of habit. 

Anyway, nothing to do but keep on investigating and blissing out when I can.

Cheers
George
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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One thing I have to keep reminding myself about those depersonalization (awakening?) experiences is that it wasn't "me" (the knot, the selfing process) who was having them. Mostly I would just wake up after an hour or two and find myself missing and get freaked out. But once it hit me out of the blue in the middle of crossing the road - a sudden synching up of reality - "oh my god, this is the way everything already is, completely perfectly present right here", followed a few seconds later by "what the hell was that?" It was both a radical insight but also strangely familiar, like it reminded me of how it was to look at the world with fresh eyes in childhood before all this troublesome selfing began.

Now I'm just going round in circles trying to find it again, even although I know it's that very act of looking for something which is preventing me from seeing everything as it already is. I'm not trying to be all clever and non-dual again, I'm just trying to describe what it feels like. It feels like I'm scratching an apparent itch which I know isn't really there, but I'm scratching anyway out of habit so it feels like I have an itch. It's quite humorous really, the absurdity and wonderful futility of it, especially since the solution is obvious: just stop scratching then!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Got into the very calm bliss state without the usual anxiety spike. Still a low baseline of anxiety there but seems like it should reduce with repeated exposure. Sort of getting a sense now why it might be a good idea to contemplate anatta after coming out of jhana.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I felt quite equanimous this morning but feelings of irritation and anger came thoroughout the day and I shouted at my son a few times. Yes the kids were high energy today and I'm still suffering from serious fatigue, but there was more to it than that. I suspect it's ego blowback from recalling nondual realizations. The ego recognizes the threat to its territory and feels the need to defend itself. Even tonight in mediatation when the bliss is strong I still feel suffocated by anger and various absurd revenge scenarios keep popping up. Noting things like "anger", "revenge fantasy" or "freakout" helps calm the cognitive side of things, but the basic ill will is still there. I know it will pass but still it's quite disorienting the juxtaposition of such strong bliss and anger states.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Sat again. Reminded myself it's just a dark night and the murkiness and yuckiness is normal. Mood lightened, grooved on the spookiness for a bit hopefully to remind myself in future how to appreciate DN, then moved into low EQ. Tackled the aversion by extending forgiveness and goodwill towards myself. I was just stressed and in a bad mood that's all. Would have no problem accepting that in someone else, therefore I deserve the same acceptance as well. (Ajahn Brahm's book helped here.) Spent some time cultivating a loving attitude towards my meditation object the breath, the key to happiness and insight. Done.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I've mentioned this before, but there were two practices that helped me become sensitive and objective about the seed of subtle emotionality that can quickly grow to reactivity if not seen early on: 6 realms practice and 5 elements practice. Basically it involves using some of cushion time to active evoke the patterns while in a baseline state of mindfulness. This trains the mind to notice more and more subtle "seeds" which means they have less of a chance to grow into bigger problems. 

6 realms is good when a "worldview" kinda masks the emotion. For example, when we just want some peace and a break in our endless responsibilities (animal realm), we don't see the subtle aversion to disturbances, how we double down on just wanting things to be fine, how we double down on "this activity in the past gave me relief, I'll keep doing it", how we push away thinking abou things that are bothering us --- until it all becomes too much and then there is a blow up that takes us completely out of the peace and ease we were trying to create for ourself. So in this case, the way we framed the situtation (need to follow my defense strategy, can't think about what is happening now) creates the enevitable conclusion (things that are happening now overwhelm me) -- but for the person involved, it seems like things suddenly blew up out of nowhere.

5 elements is good when there is enough mindfulness to look at the original "seed" of emotionality. It trains a greater sensitivity to the actual feeling tone of the seed, which promotes a more creative and real response to what is bothering us. 


The real benefit of these practices is also that the more reactive and difficult life gets, the more we can train these practices. So in a really cool way, the more shitty things are, the more the quicker the insights of 6 realms and 5 elements occur. The only downside to these practices is that it does require a modestly strong level of initial mindfulness in order to do the practices.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Thanks shargrol, that's helpful. I definitely need some off-cushion work. I see that meditation can only go so far and in some ways it masks or even exacerbates other stuff that's going on ("I don't like this because it's disturbing my calm"). I'm starting with my previous therapist again in 10 days, which helped me with bypassing and basic family/work attitude and behavior before. I left it too long but for months I was just in survival mode with this chronic fatigue and constrained living situation quarantined at my in-laws. But yes these kind of blow-ups are a warning sign for me and ignoring them isn't good for anyone. I will give the 6 realms / 5 elements practice a try. I recall you talking about it before so I will look at previous posts. Is there a book I could use? I think you mentioned Ken McLeod's Wake up to Your Life. Is that the right one?
Thanks again,
George
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Yes, WUTYL is the book. Congrats on deciding to work with a therapist. Therapy plus meditation seems to be a really synergistic/catalytic combination.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Morning sit. Woke up feeling tired and lousy. Sat and accepted DN, brought some relief. Feelings of tension and pressure were very strong in body. Spent some time in preliminary mindfulness before bringing attention onto breath. Actively dismissed thoughts by inwardly saying "thoughts not needed", although there were still some extended wanderings. Eventually managed to get the breath very calm. Had that feeling of the body being huge but didn't get freaked out by it. After about 30 mins there were some piti releases but not calm enough to sustain, so went back into breath/body calming steps. Not all of this stress is related to old tension release, some of it is new stuff which needs to be addressed off cushion.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Pulling sensations in throat and jaw are very strong. Head feels very heavy and spine compressed. Bliss was readily accessible but there was a lot of thinking along the lines of conducting a therapy session with myself. I listened to a Ken McLeod talk earlier about identities where he sets the exercise to explore yourself in the role of child, sibling and adult. I realized that a lot of the reactivity I've been feeling lately is due to conflicts concerning identities. Being sick for months put me in a dependent child-like role, taking away my work and parent identities. Now I'm trying to re-establish those adult roles but living at my in-laws where I constantly feel myself in the role of child again. I basically resent feeling like a child and want to rebel against authority. Finally of course there's my meditation identity where I'm "no one". I'm trying to be more mindful of these dynamics off the cushion. This situation is only temporary and it could be a good opportunity to explore mindfully how these identities operate and interact. I know that they are all fabrications and none of them is the "real me", so why not have a bit of fun  with it? If you don't take it personally, it is amusing really an 82 year old man scolding his 46 year old son-in-law like a 10 year old boy!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Got a small cold but on top of CFS it feels much worse. I recognized in that familiar reaction of immune system overdrive + fatigue that my small sicknesses have been getting progressively worse over the years and it was probably latent CFS at play, waiting for a really big one to tip me over the edge. I'm getting more sure that CFS was the result of pushing myself too hard for most of my life and ignoring my body. So really it's just a long postponed lesson (by now a "crash course") in paying attention to my body!

I've started reading more about 6 realms and 5 elements practice, using the following sources:

- Shargrol
- McLeod
- Aro
- Trungpa books
- Nicky's posts on worlds, rebirth and past lives which show original sutta support for psychological realms. 

A year ago I was actually starting to get into tantric practice as a way of consciously working with psychological modalities in relation to family and work, but a few things conspired to turn me away from it. Meditation wise, I was getting more focused on nondualism, not-self, emptiness, cessation and bliss, i.e. the god realm. Getting sick was like being forced to spend a long time in the animal realm (survival). Being forced to live at my in-laws exposed me to the hell (anger) and titan (jealousy, competitiveness) realms. I wasn't really aware of any
of this, I was in pure reactivity mode. Whenever I read on DhO about anyone doing any kind of practical/tantric practice I was implicitly looking down on it (god realm) or else reverting to my default scientific mindset where such such realms are not "real". I was totally overlooking the fact that I had already reconciled them with science by viewing them as symbolic representations of psychological (scientific) realities. I think the term "realm" is a bit unfortunate because it suggests a separate physical reality, I like to think of them as "modes" (e.g. "I was God mode followed by animal mode").

Anyway, it's all coming back now. Hiding in bliss states is just as reactive as losing my temper. It's objectifying the realm. I'm trying to be more aware now of which realm I'm operating in as I go about my day (including meditation). It's already giving me some a feeling of more spaciousness and less reactivity interacting with family members. Observing the rituals at my in-laws I feel like an anthrpolologist watching an alien tribe. It's completely the opposite kind of family environment to the one I grew up in. On the face of it my parents were open, but in reality it was a confusing environment dominated by their narcissism and own volatile emotional needs. At my in-laws there are very rigid protocols around parenting, food, religion etc. My gut reaction is to fight it, but I can see that if you accept it then there is a certain kind of freedom that comes from knowing what's expected ... to be continued ...
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Afternoon sit. With more mindfulness and flexibility around identities off the cushion, there seems to have been a small shift in my meditation. I'm grasping less after the bliss states now I view them as just another "realm" to pass through. Off course with less grasping they are even more blissful, but that's not the point. I've noticed that often in my posts I will say something like "the pain was strong but I managed to generate some bliss". There's a clear dukkha-sukha duality, trying to get away from discomfort and towards pleasure, aversion and desire, division of time into an unpleasant present and a more pleasant future. Now I'm trying to hold the pain and bliss simultaneously in attention in the present moment. It's not really possible, there is some oscislllation but then there's a point where they merge and you can't tell them apart. Sounds strange but the only way I can think of explaining it is that you can't have one without the other. If there was no dukkha then we would be in sukha all the time but we wouldn't know it was sukha because there would be nothing to compare it with. I'm also less greedy to make progress towards jhana, more content to just sit with sukha and see how deep it can go. I mean it's amazing really that the mind can create such a thing, or that it's the true nature of the mind when it let's go.

I'm starting to reframe my current living situation as an opportunity to learn more about these reactive patterns. I find myself in meditation replaying stressful episodes and really letting myself feel the emotions without getting caught up in the story or reactivity. Invariably it boils down to "I need to defend my territory". But when you look at it you can't find this territory anywhere. If you don't react then everywhere is your territory. Anyway that's the birds eye view sitting in my bedroom nursing a cold, let's see how it stands up to reality testing on the battlefield tomorrow!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. The experience of bliss is getting a bit calmer and deeper. I started with intense feelings of pressure in the skull and pulling on the teeth, but by now I know to accept that sort of thing and they mostly faded into the bliss. I was re-reading Maha Bua before I sat and that helped. He talks about dealing with pain on pp 18-32.

He also talks about variation in the radiance of the citta similar to the way Ajahn Brahm talks about the wobbling of the nimitta. I realized that if this is experienced even in the deepest samadhi then I should not be worried about fluctuations in my own experience of bliss. I've got over feeling guilty about the bliss, but I realized I was still averse to the fluctuations, hankering after a calmer experience. Realizing that and letting go of the hankering did actually lead to a calmer experience.

The main thing holding me back then was thoughts about posting about my progress, which is a form of pride (god realm!) I started getting to the point where the body/breath was disappearing and my mind was losing interest in thoughts because they disturbed the bliss. I can see how this type of practice could become addictive though and I don't know how realistic or wise it is to pursue it in the middle of family life. I think I'll just try to focus on letting go where I can and see what happens.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic:
Evening sit. The experience of bliss is getting a bit calmer and deeper. I started with intense feelings of pressure in the skull and pulling on the teeth, but by now I know to accept that sort of thing and they mostly faded into the bliss. I was re-reading Maha Bua before I sat and that helped. He talks about dealing with pain on pp 18-32.

He also talks about variation in the radiance of the citta similar to the way Ajahn Brahm talks about the wobbling of the nimitta. I realized that if this is experienced even in the deepest samadhi then I should not be worried about fluctuations in my own experience of bliss. I've got over feeling guilty about the bliss, but I realized I was still averse to the fluctuations, hankering after a calmer experience. Realizing that and letting go of the hankering did actually lead to a calmer experience.

The main thing holding me back then was thoughts about posting about my progress, which is a form of pride (god realm!) 

lol, please, oh One, don't let your devotees down!
I started getting to the point where the body/breath was disappearing and my mind was losing interest in thoughts because they disturbed the bliss.
lol. What a terrible situation to find yourself in. You're fucked, man. You're going to degenerate into a thought-less puddle of useless bliss.

I can see how this type of practice could become addictive though and I don't know how realistic or wise it is to pursue it in the middle of family life.
Brandon Dayton's last post was sort of kin to this concern, like, How do you come out of a deeper sit and plunge back in to the family scene? He ended up making a green smoothie. Have you tried green smoothies? Ask Brandon for the recipe. I think it can also be found in the Visuddhimagga.
I think I'll just try to focus on letting go where I can and see what happens.
love, tim
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I usually find that knocking one out gets me sufficiently grounded. I'm pretty sure that's somewhere in the Vsm as well. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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This small cold has triggered a relapse of my CFS symptoms so I'm still stuck in bed/resting. Been sitting off and on and also exploring the 6 realms. It's interesting to see how they are related to each other and how easy it is to transition from one to the other. For example bliss states are god realm which is clouded by egotism ("I'm having the best experience ever") and ignorance (ignoring everything else). Close by is the demigod realm which is based in jealousy (not having enough bliss) and frustration (not being satisfied with what you have). That can easily tip over into anger - the hell realm - where I'm irritable at having to deal with world again after being in such bliss. It seems to be a useful way to frame experience and enable me to be less reactive if I can identify the transitions in real time.

The painful tugging sensation in my lips has been replaced by a pleasant sensation like air passing through them (even though they are closed I find myself wondering if they are open). It reminds me of when my forehead pains started opening up and pleasant sensations crept in. I'm curious what my jaw, throat and chest have in store for me as the tensions subside. I can't really feel anything in my forehead now. I wonder what the body feels if this stuff is ever all cleaned up. I guess just subtle vibrations and bliss waves?
Gin Arnold, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Hi, I am the new kid on the block but can relate to somethings, as I have a monkey mind so severe that I am waiting for my tail. I have recently move my med time to 45 minutes, starting around 430. I use the Insight timer and in the last day or so, deleted my bells. By deleting the bells it seems hours rather than the bells keeping me alert. I have been practicing for about a year and never miss a session but other than a sore butt I cannot say much else. Being 78 of course does not help anything and I finally went back to a chair. In a lot of ways, I feel like a kid walking on to the first tee with old worn out clubs. My wife and I also live in Ecuador hi in the Andes in a small village where I have no teachers and not many that practice. Anyway, any advice would certainly be appreciated. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Hi Gin,

I have pretty poor concentration and sit in a chair as well. I don't have a dharma teacher or community, other than the DhO which is awesome. I say you can do it. The thing which really made a difference to me was learning to enjoy meditation, to generate internal pleasure. Before that it was a slog, now I look forward to doing it as often as I can. Leigh Brasington's book Right Concentration is good for that, or Ajahn Brahm's Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond which is more advanced but inspirational. Watch a couple of videos on YouTube of Ajahn Brahm if you want to see someone who really enjoys meditating. Start a log on here if you want to get your motivation up!

Best wishes
George
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Shameless blissout. Exploring it from the deva perspective. Observed the tendency to fall towards the asura realm trying to control it. Let go of that and back to deva. See now it's a very ego driven state - let's see how deep and beautiful I can go. Pride - here I am sitting on my cloud, don't need anybody or anything. I used to be afraid of getting annihilated by the bliss or sucked into jhana, but now I see it's attraction from the ego perspective. To go further it's almost like you have to identify yourself with the bliss - I deserve this bliss, I own this bliss, I am this bliss. Egotism in its purest form. And dukkha of course. Because it's never quite deep enough, stable enough, calm enough, or long enough, at least from where I'm currently sitting. Good to keep in mind it's just another state and tomorrow I could be back in hell realm losing my temper. I recall listening to one monk saying they would make you clean the toilets if you got too blissed out - sound strategy, back to animal realm.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Morning sit. I was reading Olivier's log last night and it got me thinking again (uh oh). This morning I found myself focusing on breathing at the abdomen, like him. Generally I follow Ajahn Brahm and try to focus on the mental sensation of the breath from the get-go, but I tend to ignore my belly and since that's where anger is most strongly felt maybe there's something going on here. I get the sense from AB that he got into jhana relatively easily at a young age because he was pretty clean, whereas for people like me who spent decades messing around there's more of a progressive energetic clean-up (kundalini?) process to go through first.

The switch of focus worked and got me more relaxed and grounded, but my mind wasn't so interested in bliss and wanted to think about awakening and paths instead. I started thinking about people like shargrol and Chris who are "there" and how "I'm not there yet". Then I remembered that there is no there, there's only here and I'm not here either. That brought more equanimity and acceptance of the present moment without conceptual overlays. Then I remembered what Malcolm said in this thread about the relationship to insight creating a temporary barrier from clinging to something. It seems that when nonduality (no observer, just the observed) first clicks then the ego recognizes the existential threat and tries to figure out ways of avoiding it such as intellectualizing it, debating it, looking for it ("here let me help you find that thing that's right in front it your face to make sure that you don't see it"), trying to recapture the experience (of everything as it already is, which is already here) etc. I realized that my current practices of samatha and interpersonal psychology are basically just ways of "making the prison more comfortable" (to use Tony Parson's phrase) and an elaborate way of avoiding what I already know. Not to say they are not wonderful and useful and beneficial, just to get a bit of perspective about what's going on. It's all good, no particular problem, just avoidance doing it's thing :-)
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Siavash, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Hi George,

Generally I follow Ajahn Brahm and try to focus on the mental sensation of the breath from the get-go

Can you please give some details on what you mean by focusing on the mental sensations of the breath? I mean what is the actual object of your practice in this case, and how do you focus on it?

Thank you so much.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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The object is the "knowledge of breathing". Here's how Ajahn Brahm explains it:

“When you focus on the breath, you focus on the experience of the breath happening now. You experience what the breath is doing, whether it is going in, going out, or is in between. Some teachers say to watch the breath at the tip of the nose, some say to watch it at the abdomen, and some say to move it here and then move it there. I have found through experience that it does not matter where you watch the breath. In fact it is best not to locate the breath anywhere. If you locate the breath at the tip of your nose then it becomes “nose awareness,” not breath awareness, and if you locate it at your abdomen then it becomes “abdomen awareness.” Just ask yourself right now: “Am I breathing in or breathing out? How do I know?” There! The experience that tells you what the breath is doing, that is what you focus on. Let go of the concern about where this experience is located. Just focus on the experience itself.”

As I understand it, even if you start out with the physical sensation of the breath at a particular place in the body, it becomes less physical and more refined through piti-sukha until it's purely a mind object and turns into a nimitta (I haven't got that far). One trick you can try is to watch the breath as if it were located somewhere in the centre of the brain or the brain stem. I'm not talking about the physical sensation of the air passing the roof of the mouth and round the corner. It's the idea of the breath or the mental representation. I find it gets me into a deeper state faster because it skips the physical steps, however that's a double-edged sword. If you're already head-focused like me and have headaches then it might make them worse and cause you to ignore other parts of the body, so maybe the abdomen works better for grounding.

Some people say they like the nostils because it's harder to detect so naturally strengthens concentration, however I can't detect much at the nostrils until I'm already a bit concentrated. There's also the "whole body of the breath" which I imagine like trying to hold all the physical sensations of breathing at once in attention in a less focused way. That seems to be a sort of half-way house between specific location and idea of breath.

I found it instructive to play around with them and see what works best, which can change depending on the state of the body and mind on a given day. If I'm agitated and full of ideas then idea of breath gets lost too easily and physical location is a better starting point. If I'm already relaxed and mind is calm then jump straight into mental representation.

Once the piti-sukha starts then I try to shift to that and drop the breath, but if I lose the bliss or it becomes unstable then I go back to the breath. Often I seem to be oscillating between the breath and bliss and they can sort of get merged, which is what AB calls the stage of the "beautiful breath" I think.
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Siavash, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thank you.
This was very clear.
Sounds interesting to try.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Mix of sam/vip. Started with bliss fuckfest, depraved amount of pleasure. Letting go is the new drug. Takes a while to find a vein but once it starts kicking in the mind can't find stuff to let go of fast enough. God realm - I'm the king of the universe, don't care if I live or die or the world vanishes in a puff of smoke. Notice the pure egotism. It's like my mind is the filament at the centre of a lightbulb and I think I'm staring at the sun when really I'm just staring at my own reflection in the glass. Vip on sankhara (blips). See the brownian motion of mental energy packets, no sense door distinction. See how sanna (perception) partitions the sankhara into sense doors and creates ideas, sounds, visuals, body sensations. Watch thoughts arise and dissolve back into sankhara (pre-thought energy patterns). Mind on fire, intoxicating mental power. Take it easy, back into sam, no need to rush this stuff and blow up.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic:
Evening sit. Mix of sam/vip. Started with bliss fuckfest, depraved amount of pleasure. Letting go is the new drug. Takes a while to find a vein but once it starts kicking in the mind can't find stuff to let go of fast enough. God realm - I'm the king of the universe, don't care if I live or die or the world vanishes in a puff of smoke. Notice the pure egotism. It's like my mind is the filament at the centre of a lightbulb and I think I'm staring at the sun when really I'm just staring at my own reflection in the glass. Vip on sankhara (blips). See the brownian motion of mental energy packets, no sense door distinction. See how sanna (perception) partitions the sankhara into sense doors and creates ideas, sounds, visuals, body sensations. Watch thoughts arise and dissolve back into sankhara (pre-thought energy patterns). Mind on fire, intoxicating mental power. Take it easy, back into sam, no need to rush this stuff and blow up.

as long as you're keeping the toilets clean, let the bliss fuckfest roll in all its resplendent depravity!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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If you would just reopen that damn bardo I could get myself a green smoothie :-)
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Morning sit. Alternately blissing out and investigating formations. Mind is still quite excited, trying to reconcile experience with theories, also thoughts of progress and "now I get it" (again!) But it's ok, that's just another bunch of abstractions layered on top of bare experience. All there is at the bottom is particles of experience flashing in and out of existence. Watch how the more complex experience of being a person is constructed out of those building blocks using perception, feeling (attraction/aversion), memory, intention etc. No problem ... relax ... equanimity concerning formations ... equanimity concerning formations ...
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Evening sit. Feels like new energetic cycle starting up, releasing tension in the belly. Neck, jaw and chest are still working themselves out but I have no problem with this process speeding up. Body felt like it was a nice shimmering field before the tension releases really kicked in, after that it was a grind. Lot of pulling sensations and movements of the torso. Lot of thoughts, tried to fight them for a while but letting them run worked better to drain their energy.

Busy and stressful off cushion, with kids remote learning restarting and usual household dynamics. Trying to lean into my reactivity a bit more and really feel it in real time. It's tiring but less avoidance means less blow-ups and storing up stuff. Some aversion due to not having enough cushion time to milk that powerful vip/sam equanimity thing I had going  a couple of days ago. Thoughts about how I would be making more progress if I could have more me time (or go on retreat, which is impossible). Convinced myself to see the upside - this way I have to confront my day to day reactivity and aversion head on, which has to be done.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Morning sit. Strategizing. When I drop out of equanimity into DN/Reobs I'm going to try and be more aware (a la MCTB) of what specific lessons I need to learn. Right now it seems to be about craving for my life to be somehow different from the way it actually is - thoughts like:

- I wish I had more time to meditate
- I wish I could go on retreat
- I wish I was back at home
- I wish the kids were back in school
- I wish my son was less demanding (less like me!)
- I wish my daughter could stay the same way forever (she is so perfect!)
- I wish I was more successful (or failing that fully enlightened!)
- I wish I wasn't stuck with my same old narcissistic personality
- I wish my kundalini/blockage release process was over
- I wish I didn't feel so much stress and tension
- I wish I could get into jhana
- I wish I was fourth path
- I wish I didn't have to experience so much interpersonal tension
- I wish I didn't have to deal with other people at all!

Throwing out everything but the kitchen sink there, but thoughts and associated feelings like these are probably what is blocking me from making further "progress" in meditation. It all comes down to accepting the way things are (including the wish for things to be different!) It helps to reflect that some of these wishes will  come true over time, but also that they will just be replaced by new ones. There's always going to be things I wish were different and the only thing I can really control is the degree to which I identify with and exacerbate those feelings of aversion. On some basic level things really can't be any different from the way they already are. I first realized this a year ago, but it seems to be one of those lessons that I need to keep re-learning until I instinctively get sick of thinking any other way.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Interesting day. Experienced a couple of reactive situations without reacting and immediately after took a mindfulness break to experience the emotions fully. Once I dropped the story it was experienced on a purely physical basis as a bunch of powerful sensations and energy patterns. It felt like they flowed through in some sense, whereas if I had reacted they probably would have been frozen. Either way it's clear that reactivity has a deep seat physical basis which goes beyond the details of any particular situation. It's also clear that to a certain extent I would have been reacting to other people's reactivity and that's a lose-lose proposition. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Evening sit. Very powerful pulling sensations on teeth and neck. Impossible to find the relaxed "wobble point" of the head, it's always being pulled forward or back. When I really relax there are strong spasms and convulsions through my torso.

It was a tiring and somewhat stressful day, but nothing that serious externally. The difference is I'm much more attuned to the stress and reactivity now. I'm finding that I'm able to create just a little bit more space between the inititial immediate urge to react and the subsequent reaction. I may still say or do something a little reactive, but it's definitely less than it would otherwise have been. Even just taking a second before reacting is a powerful practice, giving me some measure of relief from the feeling that I'm pre-destined to react in ways that will cause pain and suffering and which I will later regret or obsess over. Really it's nothing more than having a healthy adult perspective on life, and I've managed it in the past during easier times, but right now it feels like a revelation. I'm beginning to see what shargrol said about it being a cool practice because the shittier things are the more opportunity there is to practice and transform reactive patterns.

I also read this Aro article which was linked on another thread and explains the 6 realms really well. In meditation tonight I felt myself emerging from the drudgery of the animal realm (tired and stressed) into the jealous god realm trying too hard to get back to the god realm of bliss. It's definitely a useful model for understanding the underlying repeating pattens of what's going on in life and practice.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I've been reflecting to what extent this reactivity I encounter in certain family members is coming from them versus arising from my own reactivity. If I'm honest there's usually a moment where I have this feeling that what I'm about to say or do is likely to cause a reaction, and maybe even that's my motivation. I have a pretty good sense of what will trigger someone - slightly ignoring them, delayed response, pretending not to understand, feigning ignorance, raised eyebrow, change of intonation etc. Usually I think that I'm being subtle about it and they are the unreasonable ones, but maybe it's just as obvious and maddening as when my son does it - no prizes for guessing where he learned that :-)

I think it all stems from my being uncomfortable with attention. My parents were mostly focused on their own emotional needs and so I didn't naturally get a lot of "good" attention, so I resorted to getting "bad" attention. Even now I instinctively find attention threatening, because it makes me feel as if I must have done something wrong. Even something as innocuous as my father-in-law saying "good morning" in a slightly forced manner can raise my hackles. On the other hand I do still crave attention, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable. I spend a lot of time in social situations being silent, thinking critical thoughts about the chatter and probably seething that I'm not getting any attention.

I've been experimenting a bit with my level of participation and how much attention I give other people. It seems like there's a middle ground. Giving too little attention makes me look sulllen and people feel ignored and angry. Giving too much attention can be interpreted as forceful, hostile, aggressive, controlling etc. Interestingly there seems to be a bit of a parallel between how you apply attention in meditation - too forceful and you intensify things, too lax and you ignore things.

Anyone else have any insights/tips for this kind of behavior?
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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One other thing I should add. In the past I could be more skillful at participating in social/family situations because I was still operating unconsciously under the narcissistic mindset where implicitly I was giving something to get something (attention!) People would often think I was wonderful at first (at least I thought they did!) and I would work hard to get that reaction. But once their attention was "secured" I would start to lose interest or withdraw and go looking for other sources of narcissistic supply.

Basically in my life situation now I've exhausted all my available sources of narcissistic supply and I'm not motivated to go looking for more (other than jhana that is!) because I know how damaging it is for everybody involved. But I still struggle with the motivation for engaging fully with those around me now I know there's "nothing in it for me". Obviously when I do engage constructively everyone else is happier and so I do get something (peace, even if I'm still slightly critical of it). But it's still not instinctive for me. I guess that's the point of practice.

I probably sound pretty terribly but I'm trying to be honest about what it's like being a narcissist. I wonder, do non-narcissists just instinctively think about the wellbeing of other people? Or do they just learn at a young age that paying attention to others creates positive vibes and makes themselves feel good as well. Or is it the same thing? Does it even matter if the behavior, results and feelings are the same? Just trying to learn what it's like to see the world from a different point of view ...
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Siavash, modified 1 Year ago.

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I would work hard to get that reaction. But once their attention was "secured" I would start to lose interest or withdraw and go looking for other sources of narcissistic supply.

Same here.
I had pretty clear examples of this in my relationships. I am not sure how it is now, but I guess it has not changed much.
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Siavash, modified 1 Year ago.

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Now that I read this post, I remembered that I had similar behaviors for many years, specially with family members.

I don't remember exactly when what changed, but when I reflect, I think I don't do that in recent years.

I guess/think that these were the factors that changed that behavior:

- This interaction is not that important. It's not that my whole life/happiness depends on it, so why should I invest that much energy, to do such reactions, in the hope of what?

- Either them or I or both of us will die sooner or later, let's keep it simple and not cause discomfort for each other if possible, in this remaining short time.

- They too had a hard life, still have, they suffer from many different things. Let's see their suffering, and not cause more suffering.

- They are kind to me and care about me. They really don't deserve any suffering that can be eliminated.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thanks Siavash. I will try to bear in mind some of these things. It sounds like you are much more compassionate now. It's good to know that these things can change.
George 
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Afternoon sit. Powerful pulling pulling sensations on the teeth and head in general. I feel like I'm trying to guide the downwards force through my spine and find some kind of alignment. There's also a sense of a front channel (forehead-mouth-jaw-neck-chest-abdomen-perineum) which is lighter. Hard to concentrate on anything other than the energetics at the moment.

The reactivity practice seems to be creating a bit more spaciousness both on and off the cushion. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Evening sit. Kundalini is back with a vengeance, strong energetic sensations in head near roof of mouth, jaw, neck, throat and chest. Pulling and tugging and always downwards. I felt a bit dispirited, because it took months for my forehead pains to disappear and this is a much larger area and in some ways more dramatic. But I also have more experience now so trying to apply the lessons I learned. Accept it, submission, don't obsess over but don't ignore either. Drop the narrative and just experience it as physical sensations with no particular meaning. Relax and go with the flow. Felt bliss and light coming towards the end so seemed to be working. No need for heroic sits, get enough sleep and as balanced lifestyle as possible. 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Slept 8.5 hours last night which is a lot for me (normally 6-7 hours) but woke up feeling lousy because I was semi-wakeful the last 3 hours having unsatisfactory dreams/thoughts. Would have been better to get up and meditate for an hour then go back to sleep for a restful hour, like I normally do.

Morning sit (shortened by kids). Feeling strong tension in the neck and vocal chords. This has been an area of tension for me since I was a kid when I had an OCD behavior of clenching/straining my throat. I know the throat is a sensitive area for animals because it's where a predator can most easily kill them. Woops, didn't I just say yesterday to drop the stories about kundalini?! Ok, whatever it is, clearly it's a long-held area of tension for me so I shouldn't be surprised if it takes a while and it's a bit rough to open up.
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It feels quite mechanistic this tension release process. It reminds me of the ratchet-like quality of the Cause & Effect nana which I used to experience before what I think of as SE. Since then most of my sits have energetic/piti-like effects from the beginning, which I think of as starting in A&P. However if this is Cause & Effect then that causes me to question SE. Anyone know if it's possible to experience Cause & Effect after SE?

Not that it really matters. SE or no, I'm still going to be sitting and watching this process folding. Thoughts about maps and progress are just another bunch of sensations which come and go and are as worthy of investigation as any other ... I sometimes think about getting a teacher and the motivation is guidance yes but also faster progress and accreditation. But then the counter-thought comes - why give away my independence and rely on someone else's view about my experience? There's probably some narcissism at play there, but fundamentally it seems to be about the tension between wanting external confirmation vs being true to one's own experience. But even without a teacher I'm posting here and sometimes find myself thinking "I hope that someone like shargrol comes along and says this sounds like stage x". It's an interesting tension and it seems to arise at moments of transition where I'm not so sure what's going on and where I'm going. It's probably a natural thing and I'm just going to sit with that sense of uncertainty and tension in the body for a while.

Family/living situation has gotten much better with increased participation. I realize how self-absorbed I have been over the last few months sulking  like a teenager about my situation. Ok I was pretty sick and that's probably bound to make one slide backwards a bit into reactivity, still it's a miserable thing to cast oneself on the outside looking in and I don't want to do it again. I have to remind myself that however much I don't like the situation, the way forwards is to throw myself into the middle of it and experience it fully. Staying on the sidelines just cause me to get frozen, sulky and reactive.
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Afternoon sit. Energy flowing lower, opening up a pleasant undulating sensation from the head down through the whole torso. Found it easier to keep my eyes open, to avoid fixating on the energy too much and blocking it.
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Evening sit. Throat tension was very strong. I say tension but there might not actually be muscular tension, it could just be the nerves. Anyway I couldn't really ignore it but I felt like taking a bit more risk so I let it rip. After a while it calmed a little and some nice bliss set in and I felt proud of my meditative skill (god realm!) Then I shifted into vip, nothing verbal to note just watching blended sensory formations.
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Morning sit. Very calm. Thoughts about practice, life and work were coming up but my mind wasn't really interested in pursuing them. I had the thought "I wish more of my sits were like this" and realized that was just clinging to equanimity. Earlier on the path it was obvious that meditation was having a big impact on my off-cushion mind state, but now it seems to be the other way round. I've been sitting regularly but my sits are shorter and often they just seem like check-ins to see how my off-cushion state of mind is progressing. 
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Afternoon mini-sit. Energetics were still strong but there was a nice all over light blissy feeling and I just wasn't as bothered by them. Thoughts also weren't bothering me as much and were easier to drop. Although my day was busy and there were a few of the usual stressors, they also didn't seem to stick as much. I like this equanimity thing but I know it can evaporate in a flash so let's see what happens.
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Evening sit. Started with strong pressure on skull, felt like my head might pop. But got very nice and blissy again. Was really just happy hanging out having a very pleasant experience watching my body do its thing. Felt gratitude just to be alive really and able to be having this experience. Felt myself getting a bit prideful and pleased with myself. Towards the end started vip'ing a bit more and some compulsive anxiety thoughts popped up, through I didn't feel the need to take them seriously.
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Morning sit. Still feeling relatively calm. 24 hours in equanimity - must be some kind of record for me! Sleep was disturbed by mildly troubling dreams and I woke up feeling lousy, but a nice calm bliss state was accessible after a while. Still quite a lot of thoughts, but it felt like I could folllow them gently for a bit of investigation and then let them go without too much trouble. I had more thoughts along the lines of "I wish I could sit for longer and really enjoy this, or go on retreat and really deepen this". Since it's not possible due to family situation, I told myself that if I can maintain and deepen equanimity in the midst of daily life then maybe it will be more stable and durable, if not quite as deep. That's my story at least and I'm sticking to it.

After family relationships (which are improving) the remaining major off-cushion source of dissatisfaction for me is work. I don't have many external constraints around work, it's obviously an internally driven source of dissatisfaction. The main drivers are feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, ego, vanity, pride, greed, competitiveness and immortality. Did I miss anything? 
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Cutting back on logging but still sitting 2-3 times per day, anywhere from 15-90 mins each depending on time and inclination. Don't want to keep repeating myself and don't like always meditating with thoughts about what I'm going to log and trying to make it look like progress.

Evening sit was very blissful, wave after wave of bliss welling up. The usual family/work stressors just don't seem to be sticking as much at the moment and my mind is finding it easier to let stuff go. The personality issues which I've been working on the last few weeks also seem less pressing. Narcisistic thoughts still circle like "my life is a failure/disappointment" but it's hard to take them so seriously and I can almost smile at them. My personality seems like one of those old reprobate friends I used to hang out with and can laugh at/with affectionately now so long as I don't get too involved. It feels more like a mask I can put on or take off, although I have no idea what the real face is underneath.

Acutally I don't have any idea about anything much at the moment. Practice feels almost lazy it's so unstructured. Just sitting and watching the mind, alternating between samatha and a bit of vip when hindrances or questions arise (why so much bliss? what is this pure mind experience? who is having it? etc) There's still quite a lot of thoughts but they are fairly random and I can't be bothered to try and focus harder to suppress them, so they just float around a bit before dissipating.
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I was feeling quite stressed off the cushion today and there are painful pressure sensations when I sit, but overall I still seem to be in equanimity. It's quite liberating to be going through some kind of minor dark night and watching the inner turmoil whilst also feeling basically ok about everything. It's just obvious now that I create my own dissatisfaction and project onto my situation, when in reality externals are fairly neutral. I'm increasingly aware there seems to be this thing called "awareness" which makes everything ok, but it's not really a separate thing I can see. When I look closely, all I can see is fluxing sensations and the more equanimity I can maintain the easier it is.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

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agnostic:
I was feeling quite stressed off the cushion today and there are painful pressure sensations when I sit, but overall I still seem to be in equanimity. It's quite liberating to be going through some kind of minor dark night and watching the inner turmoil whilst also feeling basically ok about everything. It's just obvious now that I create my own dissatisfaction and project onto my situation, when in reality externals are fairly neutral. I'm increasingly aware there seems to be this thing called "awareness" which makes everything ok, but it's not really a separate thing I can see. When I look closely, all I can see is fluxing sensations and the more equanimity I can maintain the easier it is.

hey, ag, for me, it's always liberating to remember that equanimity "rests" on the firm foundation of the dark night's undoings: on nothing, basically. We are not in equanimity because of any accomplishment, we are in it because our shit fell apart, and we were terrified, horrified, and reduced to the single desire for liberation, beyond conceptualization or imagination. We experienced the world of suffering as chaotic noise, then as appalling noise, and then as hopeless noise, and then as silence, before that weirdly pure note of equanimity came in. I sometimes think of the equanimity "plateau" as a time of retuning everything to that gentle, clean note, "instrument" by psychic "instrument." We won't be able to carry a melody until enough of the orchestra is in tune, but the cure for hurrying that tuning process is a good taste of how bad the noise was when we just played on out of tune, trying to pretend it was good music. Equanimity's deep "quiet" is infinitely sweeter than the fucked up noise we've experienced as dukkha. So patience, in perspective, comes more easily, refreshed by the tastes of dark night  that we get.

And when we do start playing the song on that kazoo? Rock out, mate! Everybody will dance. The kid will eat his vegetables cheerfully! Stuff like that! Papa Che has an amp! Olivier on boogie piano! Momma's got a squeezebox, Daddy doesn't sleep at night!

with all due translations into Pali.

love, tim
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agnostic:
I was feeling quite stressed off the cushion today and there are painful pressure sensations when I sit, but overall I still seem to be in equanimity. It's quite liberating to be going through some kind of minor dark night and watching the inner turmoil whilst also feeling basically ok about everything. It's just obvious now that I create my own dissatisfaction and project onto my situation, when in reality externals are fairly neutral. I'm increasingly aware there seems to be this thing called "awareness" which makes everything ok, but it's not really a separate thing I can see. When I look closely, all I can see is fluxing sensations and the more equanimity I can maintain the easier it is.

I've found this great technique and works like charm emoticon 

With your feet on the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
But there's nothing in it
And you'll ask yourself
Where is my mind?
Where is my mind?
Where is my mind?
Way out in the water
See it swimmin'

https://youtu.be/I_aBmrYChfQ
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Morning sit. Peaceful and spacious. Woke up early with a blocked nose and feeling a bit shitty, compounded by some annoying trading losses. Held the shitty feelings in awareness for a bit and they receded as I left the ground. I was struck by a great sense of spaciousness, but I didn't find it as anxiety inducing as in the past. I realized there's a change of perspective. I used to feel threatened by the space because it was so much larger than me and I would get worried about vanishing or my head feeling like it would explode as if filled the space. This morning I found myself asking "but what if I am this space?" Then all my stresses and supposed troubles look small and insignificant and I can just hang out in this spaciousness while whatever is happening inside is happening.

Then space started giving away to awareness. I was investigating whether awareness is anything other than awareness of something. Is awarensss just the potentiality of being aware of things? However quiet I could get there always seemed to be some kind of faint background hum. Even if I turned down the hum real low so I couldn't really hear it any more, there still seemed to be something. Is that nothing? Fucked if I know.

After that it was just hanging out really waiting for something to happen or the family to wake up. My mind just seemed to know naturally when to investigate and when to rest. I realized that a lot of my supposed problems arise from trying to force stuff that's going to happen anway. Life goes on whether we like it or not.

I felt like I could have sat for hours and started to feel a bit aggrieved that I knew I couldn't and that I was being robbed of the opportunity for "something to happen". But that's just the dukkha machine starting up again. When I got this calm once last summer and a fruition may have happened, it could have been a bit premature and led to some of the craziness. Probably better to spend longer hanging out in equanimity and getting used to it and investigating all the ways the mind tries to mess it up both on and off the cushion.

Thanks for the encouragement Tim and Papa Che. Love that song. I haven't been to that many concerts but the Pixies was one band I did see. Must have been about 1990 somewhere outdoors in London. It was that end of high school period when I was trying to stay in with the cool kids while also staying academically strong. I was getting really stoned and anxious and feeling like there must be something wrong with me because I couldn't seem to enjoy it like everyone else. Anyway, there was a lake in front of the stage and when they started playing Where is My Mind someone jumped in the water and swam towards the stage and had to be escorted away. The cool kids thought this was really cool but I remember thinking it was a weird response to quite a chill song really. Guess I was always the odd one out. Feeling quite trembly reliving this experience. It was a formative time of trying to carve out a mixed-up identity for myself and now here I am 30 years later trying to disentangle it all. Cool song though. Thanks again guys, love you.
George
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Ah ok, finally I get it. I just read the lyrics - "Way out in the water see it swimmin'". Guess the cool kids really were cool and it was just me being clueless as usual emoticon 
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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naw, you're the coolest, georgie. them cool kids got nuthin on you. you been swimming your ass off all along.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Morning sit. Mostly vip but spacious and pleasurable, vj I guess. EQ still persisting, despite some of the usual life stressors - pointed exchange with father-in-law, high octane trading session, energy crash, getting angry with son, working late, sleep deprivation. As far as I can see, maintaining EQ off cushion doesn't require eliminating reactivity altogether, rather accepting life as it is and maintaining just enough space/awareness so that when reactivity arises it doesn't have to be automatically acted upon thereby worsening the situation. At least that's enough to keep my next sit starting in EQ rather than DN. Ok it may be EQ.DN, but it's kind of cool to go through DN stuff with an "it's basically ok" attitude. Knowing that EQ may still be accessible on the next sit is lessening my weird aversion to EQ which seemed to be because I would lose it so fast and frequently.

Every time the feeling/thought comes up "a fruition could be about to happen" I note it and try to remind myself that the mind needs to be relaxed and specifically not thinking about fruitions for them to happen, at least until you really start falling into one (based on my previous experience of something which may not have been a fruition anyway). I'm trying to cultivate the attitude of enjoying and investigating EQ for what it is, because it's pretty cool really and makes life a damn sight more bearable and, dare I say it, enjoyable. I also make sure to note prideful thoughts like "I'm making progress".

I keep coming back to this sense of awareness. I figure it's so spacious because literally everything that has ever happened and could ever happen has happened in awareness. But it doesn't seem to be anything more than the potentiality for stuff to happen, even if it can be so blissful (which is just something else that is happening). The bliss seems to come from letting go and getting out of the way. But who is actually aware and getting out of the way? No one as far as I can see. That's just more stuff that appears to be happening. Kind of cool and funny really.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I seem to have cycled over the last 24h, which I haven't done in an obvious way for a while. Yesterday afternoon I was in high equanimity I guess - sitting was just really easy and cool. There was no desire to go anywhere or get anything. I felt astonishingly ok with all the contents of experience. I wasn't even interested in piti-sukha, it just seemed too coarse and disturbing.

I worked late and sitting before bed I was still in EQ but some cessation anxiety started to arise. I had these moments of feeling like I was falling into something and would get anxious and back away. Since I was tired I figured it was just hypnic stuff and went to bed. Falling asleep there was a dramatic zooming in experience which I also bounced out of and then fell asleep. At some point in the night (can't tell if it was a dream or light sleep) I seemed to be in a meditative state and saw a light which I instantly identified as a nimitta. I knew immediately what to do - focus on it and let it engulf me. There was some fear but I was ok with it and the light grew until it occupied my entire mindspace, there was some kind of welcome to heaven musical chord and I had the though "that's it, I just landed a jhana". I don't know if it's possible to dream about getting into jhana or get into it while you're asleep, but it was a powerful experience.

I woke up in the morning feeling lousy and didn't actually remember the experience. My energy was flagging and by mid-morning I had an energy crash. As I rested I started to feel quite anxious and trippy, which is when the nighttime nimitta experience came back to me. I had the feeling that "something must have happened" last night and I was in a new DN phase. The trippiness reminded me of how I felt following my depersonalization experiences a year ago. I was feeling a bit depersonalized but I'm more ok with it now. Actually there seemed to be a basic level of ok'ness/equanimity surrounding this whole DN. It was like "ok this is spookily cool and interesting".

I meditated on it a bit and wondered why these sorts of shifts often seem to happen to me when I'm near or in sleep. I realized it's probably because I'm still quite tightly contracted in my waking experience so it's the only way it can happen. I realized that on some level the spaciousness of equanimity is slightly terrifying to me. I guess that whilst being tightly contracted is uncomfortable it is also familiar. I feel threatened by the space and retreat to the familiar. Yesterday in my meditation I had been playing with that sense of self as being a mere bodily contraction or set of vibrations happening in space, watching it ebb and flow. So it's like know that's all it is and yet it still has the power to freak me out a bit at times. I just need more time in equanimty probably to get more comfortable with it, that's all.

Sitting again this afternoon I passed through the residual DN and back into EQ, although it wasn't as ease-filled as yesterday. I was mostly ok with everything as it was - the perfection of experience - but there was still this nagging sense of something missing, something to look for, something to be found. That sense has fallen away before so it can happen again - but not if I'm trying to make it happen! So I was just investigating in a loose way these sensations of missing something and looking for it. Obviously I'm never going to find what's already right in front my face, but any pointers are appreciated!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Last night and this morning sits - back into bliss mode. Strong desire just to hang out bathing in bliss, soothing mental and physical tensions. Reminding myself that's it's just a more refined form of feeding emoticon Notice some aversion to getting off the cushion and engaging with life. Try to be mindful of any reactivity emerging from the contrast between the bliss and the grind, or even better if possible carry some of the bliss around with me.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Turns out the grind wasn't so bad, actually everything is suprisingly ok even when it's not quite ok. Off cushion moments of amazement creeping in at the mere fact of existence and awareness - how incredible that this should be at all. I have to kind of pinch myself that this is happening to me of all people, but I'll take it where I can get it. Sits are blissouts, probably for a couple of days 'til equanimity settles again. It's a pretty superior way to pass through the DN - sitting in some hollowed out bliss realm. I don't think I'm addicted to the bliss, it's just what the doctor ordered to help settle my system. Not much more to say, toodledoo.
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Not two, not one, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Ha ha, yeah. That residual not quite okay stuff is really like a ghost, isn't it?
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Yup, it's just a habitual assumption that things are not ok and something needs to be done about it emoticon
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Morning sit. Bliss mellowing a bit and some investigation coming back in, maybe 50-50 sam-vip. It's like a pendulum: bliss-investigation-bliss-investigation- ... The investigation just feels like a habitual energy pattern at this point. From past experience I know there's nothing to find, but there's still this habitual restless self-sustaining seeking thing going on. And that's ok too. It's just waiting for it to exhaust itself really. The point of practice seems to be to narrow that seeking into such a tight channel that it becomes really obvious what it is and can be let go (or burns out by itself, because it's not really obvious who would be letting go of it).
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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There's been a bit of stress over the week but it's all still basically ok. I guess that is what is meant by EQ being a vast fractal. Practice almost feels a bit lazy, it's still happening but with less sense of urgency. Sits have alternated between 1) calming stress/tension 2) blissing out and 3) feeling ok with everything. Well, almost everything. There's still a residual "point" of dissatisfaction, which is identifiable as the sense of being the observer of experience. When I look for that point of course it can't be found. There's a vague sense it might be in the head, but when I look closely it's not there. There are sensations at the front, back and inside the head, but no clear centrepoint. There's the idea it might be in the head, but that's just an idea. In high EQ thoughts continue but there's less stress and identification around them, it's clear they are just "thinking themselves". The heart appears to be a centre, but it's emitting diffuse feelings of bliss and compassion, not a clear point of identification. There's a refined sense of ego or superiority associated with that (god realm) but it's not something I'm grasping after as much. It's cool to know it's there and I appreciate it when it arises, but it doesn't have to be every sit. There's a periodic sense of grounding occurring in the belly and below, but that's just grounding not a centre. So - head doing head things, heart doing heart things, belly doing belly things emoticon

Family relationships have calmed down a lot, there's an easier routine emerging. It's clearer that everyone is suffering (small 's') in their own way, or on their own trip, and that's ok, I can empathize (small 'e') or play along and don't have to react as strongly.

It seems like I can only get into high EQ on the weekends, when there are less demands of kids (remote learning) or work (markets closed). Even then it takes me an hour or so to meditate into high EQ. I can't really meditate for more than 1-2 hours per day and I still have thoughts like "if only I could go on retreat I could nail this thing". But then there's the counter-argument that if I can continue "progressing" in my home routine there will hopefully be less integration type problems. It doesn't really matter anyway, it is what it is.

In order to spend more cushion time in EQ I probably need to develop more equanimity in my daily life so that I'm starting from a higher base. The biggest remaining source of dissatisfaction is work. I don't technically need to work because my wife carries the family, but I'm still very driven. There's the feelings of guilt and low self-worth which come from being a dependent man (especially when I was too sick to look after the kids). I would like to take some of the pressure off my wife. I also still have a strong feeling of needing to prove myself, because my former career fizzled out. I don't really want any of the material extras, especially now I know how to hang out in bliss states, it's more of an ego-driven thing, which is clearly not so healthy. I give a decent amount to charity and I can imagine giving away a lot more as I get older if things work out, but again that's partly an ego-trip. I'm also just drawn to the challenge of trading, because it's like a real-time litmus test of how much you are dominated by your emotions and mindstates. It's what got me back into meditating and in a way it's right livelihood so long as you avoid trading in bad stuff - you start out losing money (dana!), you don't take what is not given (limit orders), there's no persuading or politicking, and if you are good you can easily scale up and take from the rich to give to the poor. Anyway, enough self-justification! Anyone have any pointers/experience in this area?
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I've had some unworldly experiences of bliss and calm. I would say it's life-changing, except everything feels strangely normal and undramatic. Off the cushion I feel more like what I imagine a normal healthy adult would be like - assertive when necessary but not overly reactive to others people's dramas. I doubt my wife would say much has changed except I'm a bit calmer.

Tonight I realized (or remembered) that one of the big obstacles in practice is the assumption that something needs to happen, which is a product of the path-focused mindset. Clearly path, practice, technique and discipline all have their place, but eventually one is left "just sitting". Anyway, the desire for something to happen was stressing me out. Once I accepted that everything is ok just as it is, then even that desire was something I could play with and be ok.

I've also been playing with the sense of being the witness and seeing how it's something extraneous which is layered on top of bare experience. As I see it, awareness is just the ability of the organism to respond to certain stimuli. Clearly in the conventional sense the stimuli exist independent of the organism, but from the organism's point of view (which is all that any of us have) awareness and the stimuli are the same thing. Anyway it's kind of fun to play "now you see it, now you don't" with the witness sense itself. The witness-off mode is kind of remarkable and strangely familiar at the same time, like remembering something I have deliberately been ignoring. It's all quite wonderful, humorous and absurd. Let's see how I feel about it in the morning when the kids and the markets are clamoring for attention emoticon
T, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I know it's early, but don't leave me hanging too long! 

What you're talking about is something that seems to dance around the periphery of my life somewhat regularly these days. I was explaining to my wife the Bahiya sutta and how I can have periods of direct access, but otherwise just experience as normal but with less reactivity. 

Is the direct access, absent the overlay of "you" interpreting, what you're talking about?
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Yeah that's it. In quiet meditation I can see that the sense of being the observer is just a perceptual overlay. When thoughts restart with me at the centre of the story and having some problem to solve, I can also see how that is fabricated. But the minute I get off the cushion I lose the meta awareness and I'm lost again. There's still a vague sense that it's just a drama, but I hardly ever "wake up" during the day. It's kind of frustrating but there's also a sense that it's ok, just a game playing itself out. I should probably try to maintain more mindfulness during the day but it's hard with a busy family/work situation. Won't last forever though.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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It's better not to try to maintain consistent mindfulness, but rather to keep waking up multiple times a day. Then the habit of "snapping out of it" becomes easier. The problem to all of this is we're not really in control of when we fall into drama-trance, nor are we in control of when we snap out of it. It can feel futile at times!

But the trick is that we form the _intention_ to _notice_ when we snap out of it. And some how, almost magically, we actually do start noticing the moments throughout the day when we snap out of it. And indeed, we somehow get better at it.

It can be very strange. At one point during my practice, I was working for a sociopath and I would experience a dire "oh my god, this person is leading us right off the cliff, we're totally fucked" and when I left the meeting, just one step later I would snap out of it and feel "actually, the future is completely unknown, I have no idea what will happen so no need to stress". It was very weird to go through this off-cushion "practice". But basically, it just felt like my mind was teaching itself to notice that experiences are over as soon as they occur.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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That's funny, I work for a sociopath as well - myself emoticon Kind of describes my day perfectly yesterday. "OMG I'm driving myself off a cliff. No I'm not. Everything is fine. No it's not, it's all completely fucked. Neah, actually it's ok."

This morning I had more luck with simple self-enquiry, asking myself "who am I?"  It immediately took the pressure off and took the energy out of the thoughts. "Who is thinking this? No one. OK then." Just asking the question "who am I?" and realizing there's no answer seems to create more space. Am I the blissful empty space? Not really. Am I the space and everything that arises in it? Maybe. Do I need to be a certain way? Not really. Do I need to do certain things? Yes. Do I need to do everything else? Not really.
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Zachary, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic:
That's funny, I work for a sociopath as well - myself emoticon Kind of describes my day perfectly yesterday. "OMG I'm driving myself off a cliff. No I'm not. Everything is fine. No it's not, it's all completely fucked. Neah, actually it's ok."

This morning I had more luck with simple self-enquiry, asking myself "who am I?"  It immediately took the pressure off and took the energy out of the thoughts. "Who is thinking this? No one. OK then." Just asking the question "who am I?" and realizing there's no answer seems to create more space. Am I the blissful empty space? Not really. Am I the space and everything that arises in it? Maybe. Do I need to be a certain way? Not really. Do I need to do certain things? Yes. Do I need to do everything else? Not really.



Hahaha, at a certain point the practice starts to be this process of accepting ever increasing levels of paradox and uncertainty without going crazy. "Don't know" or "maybe" seems to become an almost mantra-like answer to these. I'm starting to have a sneaking suspicion it's "Don't Know" all the way down. emoticon
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I don't know Zach, it sounds like you think you might know something there emoticon

But seriously, I agree, the less you think you know the better. The really crazy thing is to think you might know something for sure. As the old time pit traders used to say, "the minute you start thinking about a trade you are fucked".
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I'm back in the usual weekend equanimity state.

I've been working with the 6 realms again and reading David Nichtern's Awakening from the Daydream. I hadn't appreciated before how it is Dependent Origination which governs the transition from one state to the next. It gives me a much more concrete way for observing the operation of DO on a working basis - a thought or feeling arises, generating desire, aversion or indifference, and if I cling to that then I solidify into a state.

It's also becoming clear to me how close the 6 states are to each other, how each one contains seeds for the others. For example, I like to hang out in meditative bliss as much as possible (god realm). But if I cling to that then I fear losing it, which is self-fulfilling. Every thought or distraction gets perceived as a threat, generating a small amount of irritation, which undermines the bliss. At its extreme this can lead to getting angry later in the day (hell realm) about small annoyances which seem magnified in contrast with the bliss I've "lost". Physical needs (discomfort, hunger, tiredness, toilet) threaten to pull me into the animal realm. I might start strategizing (human realm) about how to stay in bliss or meditation techniques. I might get really hungry for more bliss, craving it like a drug which I can't get enough of (hungry ghost). Or I might start wondering whether this is a real jhana or not and how it compares to other people's bliss levels (jealous god).

I'm trying to focus on how to break the links of DO. I can try reducing contact to a certain extent but I'm pretty much stuck with it in daily life and craving follows quickly, however there's a gap before clinging arises which can be extended with mindfulness. In meditation I can slow down the film of experience until it's really fine-grained sankhara and the subtle vedana can be observed with more equanimity. As far as I can see, self-enquiry works directly at the source, the first link, ignorance. I'm trying to remind myself that there is no stable underlying self-identity which is persisting through these state transitions, they are just impersonal states arising based on past conditions. Even if you reduce the production of new karma, presumably different states keep arising due to the operation of residual kamma. I guess you just reduce clinging as much as possible and then your are ok with the rest of the play continuing - samsara is nirvana, or something like that. Comments?
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Pepe, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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agnostic:
It's also becoming clear to me how close the 6 states are to each other, how each one contains seeds for the others. For example, I like to hang out in meditative bliss as much as possible (god realm). But if I cling to that then I fear losing it, which is self-fulfilling. Every thought or distraction gets perceived as a threat, generating a small amount of irritation, which undermines the bliss. At its extreme this can lead to getting angry later in the day (hell realm) about small annoyances which seem magnified in contrast with the bliss I've "lost". Physical needs (discomfort, hunger, tiredness, toilet) threaten to pull me into the animal realm. I might start strategizing (human realm) about how to stay in bliss or meditation techniques. I might get really hungry for more bliss, craving it like a drug which I can't get enough of (hungry ghost). Or I might start wondering whether this is a real jhana or not and how it compares to other people's bliss levels (jealous god).

Interesting!
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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For DO work... I'd recommend not worrying about contact, but get really good at noticing the difference betweeen feeling and craving. This is a fairly tantric approach instead of a puritanical approach --- you don't stifle experience (puritanical) but you notice and cease only when it goes off the tracks (tantric).

It will always go off the track at tanha/craving. Craving takes you beyond what is and into the domain of time and fear of not thriving. Craving convinces you "if I only experience/have/do X, then the future will be interesting, safer, better If I don't experience/have/do X, then the future will be boring, dangerous, worse." We go into a trance when we crave --- we really do think X and not-X means our future will be like that. Any sane person looking from the outside will see how crazy we are.

In the moment, we're trapped in a snare and blindly trying to push past it. It's the whole momentum of if that ensares us. If we saw things clearly, the moment it tightened around our neck we would relax and flick the snare off our neck. 

Sitting practice can consist of looking for the arising and passing of tanha.  (If you look with too little effort, the snares get you. If you look with too much effort, there's more tanha again!) 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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That's helpful thanks. I was assuming the craving arises automatically, but I can see there's a gap there as well. Can I see bliss as pleasant without wanting it to continue? Can I see my son's behavior as irritating without wanting it to go away? Can I see my in-laws' behaviour as controlling without trying to ignore it? Let's see ...

I see what you mean now about this practice being kind of cool. It's a change of perspective. Instead of being annoyed that life is so stressful and busy and I don't have enough time to meditate, I can look at it as being full of fruitful oppprtunities to practice cutting off dukkha at the root emoticon
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Exactly. You got it.

If we're not damn fools, then the worse the suffering, the quicker the learning. emoticon

Shinzen has a bunch of pity concepts related to tanha, let's see if I can remember some of them...

Satisfaction = pleasure without clinging 

Suffering = discomfort times resistance 

Purification = discomfort without aversion 

Something like that.

You could even say Peace = neutral without indifference.

emoticon
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Siavash, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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It goes like:

Suffering = Discomfort * Resistance

Purification = Discomfort * Equanimity

Frustration = Pleasure * Resistance 

Fulfillment = Pleasure * Equanimity

( * = multiplied by)

Shinzen's Four Formulas


Regarding:
Can I see bliss as pleasant without wanting it to continue? Can I see my son's behavior as irritating without wanting it to go away? Can I see my in-laws' behaviour as controlling without trying to ignore it?

I guess it’s compassion that makes this possible in a alive way, right? I guess without compassion that can turn us into a wise robot?
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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thanks S!
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Thanks, those equations are really handy. The other equation he mentions is Equanimity = 1 / Resistance. If I understand correctly, what he calls resistance is the same thing as craving. I guess it sounds more natural to talk about resisting discomfort rather than craving its absence. On the other hand, it sounds more natural to say craving pleasure rather than resisting it by trying to hold onto it. It's too bad english doesn't have a single word which does both jobs. It took me a while to realize that craving refers as much to wanting unpleasant experiences to go away as to wanting pleasant experiences to continue. Is that what is referred to by vibhavaanha vs bhavatanha?
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I really like the second equation: Purification = Discomfort * Equanimity. I sort of assumed that but it's really helpful to make it explicit - every uncomfortable physical and emotional experience is an opportunity for healing
IF it can be experienced without resistance or interference. I'm almost having fun playing with this now, feeling myself getting drawn into reactive situations and watching the discomfort arising without actually reacting. There is indeed a sense of purification, like wow I managed to avoid reacting like I have in the past and the emotion has passed more cleanly through the system without leaving a sticky residue.

It's not perfect, there is still some reactivity, but it's a significant upgrade. At least 50% of the sense of "I'd rather not be here" has gone. It's the difference between tolerating discomfort and welcoming it as an opportunity to heal. A lot of the time before I felt like I'd rather be meditating. Now I have less time to sit but the sits themselves are easier because I feel like I've already been cleaning up gunk off the cushion.

It helps that I've taken a break from trading. It wasn't jiving well with the kids remote schooling and both were suffering. It also made clear to me why I'm still drawn to trading - it's like a laboratory for experiencing uncomfortable emotions and measuring my reactivity in realtime. I enjoy it and do moderately well when I'm not being reactive and it's a mini self-inflicted hell otherwise. There's still the money/ego side of it which is 50% I guess, but it's clear that I do better the less attached I am to the results.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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I woke up at 4:30 this morning feeling lousy and meditated on craving for a couple of hours. I got it really fine-grained so that I could see each formation arising with its associated painful/pleasant/neutral feeling tone and subsequent attractive/aversive/ignoring craving reaction. It got very mechanistic, almost like Cause & Effect nana. It felt like an amoeba swimming around blindly veering in different directions, always away from one thing and towards another according to some basic law of aversion & attraction. Once I realized that this is just an impersonal basic biological process then some equanimity settled in. It got really calm and quiet and then the usual anxiety reared its head. I sat through that, settled down a bit, got tired and went back to snooze, though there was still some anxiety. I need to tackle this anxiety intentionally. Something Olivier said about using it as a signpost and heading towards it stuck with me. It's happened enough that I feel like it's a "thing" which needs to be purified.

Now I feel like I'm seeing craving everywhere, in every experience and interaction. Not in a bad way, just like wow I never noticed before how prevalent it is. I suppose the theory is that by seeing craving arising & passing all the time I can avoid unconsciously clinging to it? I can see now that contact -> feeling -> craving is really the heart of DO. By the time I get to clinging & becoming it's too late and I'm already moving into the next realm. I find it hard to disentangle the earlier stages of sankhara and namarupa except in meditation (and even then I find them hard to understand). But contact -> feeling -> craving is something I can really see all day long on a very tangible basis. Yaay emoticon

Another thing I realized is that although it's the painful & pleasant experiences which catch my attention most of the time, if I intentionally look away from those and broaden my attention field then there is a huge amount of available experience which is neutral, maybe as much as 99% of the field. It's fair to say I'm ignoring that most of the time, but the associated craving almost seems to be like a desire for the neutral stuff to stay the same, to take it for granted. The associated dukkha is then that nothing ever stays the same, it is constantly changing, so that creates a sort of generalized anxiety about the instability of the wider attentional field. I guess you just get used to anicca and suck it up?

What's the endgame with craving here? Does it actually reduce or do you just get better at noticing and accepting it, so that it doesn't solidify into the later stages of DO so much?

I guess there's also the anatta side of it. If I don't see it as self doing the craving then it just becomes like "oh there's object X moving towards/away from object Y, whatever". Just throwing out random stuff here but really interested to hear others take on it ... Thanks.

Oh and one more thing while I'm about it. I often notice now that I feel worst immediately after I wake up. It seems to be because during the day I can use mindfulness or meditation to deal with stuff, but that's not an option during sleep. I frequently have unsatisfactory dreams (full of craving), but even when I don't remember any dreams I still wake up with the feeling that something unpleasant happened. Anyone else have this or a way of dealing with it?
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Evening sit. Decided to work directly with the anxiety that arises when experience gets really calm and grainy. Looked out for it and when it started to arise headed straight into it, tried not to resist it and tried to have as complete experience of it as possible. Was quite cathartic, felt like I was releasing something deep and old. As the waves of anxiety passed I felt a definite grounding process going on, lIke I was droppping down in my body and the head-heart channel was now extending down through abdomen to end in perineum.

This anxiety seems to be related to a fear of physical pain rather than death or madness (which I've processed before). I suspect it's the root of some higher level anxieties and compulsive thoughts about physical pain I used to engage in a lot, imagining horrible things like my eye being stabbed or tongue cut out as a way of atraching some concrete imagery to the anxiety. Anyway, I don't feel as jumpy now as I usually do when the anxiety arises and I avoid it. This time I was actively trying to experience the anxiety as fully as possible with the aim of purifying or releasing it. Will probably need a few more runs through as it is a deep one.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Yup, craving (tanha) is where it's at! I'm noticing it all day long now, like clockwork, prolonging and worsening unpleasant experiences and curtailing and spoiling pleasant ones. Or in terms of Shinzen's formulas, turning discomfort into suffering and pleasure into frustration. I can't believe that I've been studying Buddhism and meditating hard for 2 years and only really just understood the importance of craving, when it's right there at the heart of the 4 NTs and DO ... READ THE LABEL!

I guess it's natural. You start out on the path plagued by addictions, personality issues, bad relationships, bad jobs etc. and tend to assume that suffering is external. You clean up your life a bit and notice that you are still suffering from internally generated stress and dissatisfaction. You learn to generate some meditative calm and bliss which blows away any of your former pleasure sources, but is still tainted by frustration. That's where the rubber really meets the road. Why does my life still feel so shitty a lot of the time? Craving! You just can't avoid unpleasant experiences or hold onto pleasant ones. It's a goddam law of nature: discomfort always arises and pleasure always passes. The only thing you can do is stop resisting it!
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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nice, this is the good stuff! 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I think this is a simpler definition of craving: "wanting things to be different from the way they are". This automatically includes wanting more pleasant experiences, less unpleasant experiences and unchanging neutral experiences. It also links nicely to the nondual viewpoint that things can't be any different from the way they are, which shows immediately that craving is futile. (I'm not denying there's a moral track to the path where there appears to be free will and choice.)
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I was just indulging in a sexual fantasy and I realized why guilty pleasures are so much more intoxicating than legitimate pleasures ... you get double the craving! Positive craving from the pleasure and negative craving (resistance) from doing something you know you shouldn't. Two for the price of one! It explains why you feel so powerless - you are literally being pulled in opposite directions 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I've started working with the 5 elements in addition to the 6 realms. It's nice because it fills out the emotional and psychological picture. I'm using this Aro article which explains how each element arises as a distorted reaction to the intrinsic emptiness of existence, but can also be transmuted into a liberated form. The key to transmuation is to recognize that each emotion is self-liberating if it can be experienced fully without clinging or resistance. The way to do that is to fully experience the emotion in the body without conceptual overlays. It's similar to Shinzen's idea of inducing purification by experiencing discomfort without resistance, but it has the backdrop of emptiness and more detail about the individual emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety.

I gave it a test drive and it seemed to work pretty well. I was feeling tired and irritable so I sat and let the tiredness and anger fill my entire body without resistance and within 20 mins I was right as rain. There was a definite sense of the emotions transmuting into lighter and more spacious forms. It also seems to work with anxiety as well.

Another technique I've stumbled on which works well here is "grooving to the music of the body". I listen to the body's rhythms, vibrations, harmonies and dissonances as if it were a piece of music and try to really get into the flow of it, to dance to the music as it were. If it's just a piece of music then there's no longer the identification and stress about it being my body. I'm even finding myself able to appreciate the chromatic texture of the painful energetic sensations. Also ideas seem to be less of a problem. They are just another part of the music which rises and falls. It's kind of a middle path between suppressing thought and obsessively pursuing it.
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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"I was feeling tired and irritable so I sat and let the tiredness and anger fill my entire body without resistance and within 20 mins I was right as rain. There was a definite sense of the emotions transmuting into lighter and more spacious forms. It also seems to work with anxiety as well."

nice.

When the first round of easily accessed emotions seems to get cleaned up, consider doing the (5 element) dakini meditation/active imaginations in Ken McLeod's Wake Up to Your Life. It's good for provoking more material to work with.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Thanks shargrol, I will look at that next. For the moment I still have plenty of my own material to work on emoticon
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Spent some time working with uncomfortable emotions today, both on and off the cushion. Morning meditation I was recalling conflicts, allowing the emotions to arise and blossom fully before dissolving into blissy spaciousness. During day I was on watch for triggers and again allowing myself to feel the emotions fully, which caused them to pass quicker and made the day more enjoyable.  Evening meditation I was focusing on uncomfortable body sensations and trying to identify the resistance so they could be released. I'm realizing in a tangible way that these uncomfortable emotions and sensations are really pretty fluid and it's only resistance which causes them to solidify and create problems. It's powerful healing stuff and makes concerns about cessations or stream entry seem less important. I'm even drawn to meditating when I feel tired so I can nod off a bit and release the really grungy stuff from my subconscious emoticon 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Life has suddenly gotten a lot more practice like. I'm seeing the interaction of the 5 elements in all sorts of mundane interactions and experiences. Beneath the storyline I'm starting to see the archetypal energy flows. For example I can see the water element every time I detect a threat, real or imagined, and feel anger arising. With enough spaciousness that anger can morph into a sort of field of brilliant clarity. The trick is to feel the discomfort and known that must mean there's resistance, feel the resistance and let it go. Or else to let the emotion expand until it occupies the whole field, then there is nothing left to resist it and the "problem" with the emotion is gone. I can see anxiety (air) as a reaction to groundless spaciousness, feeding doomed neurotic activities designed to create false sense of ground. But if I relax and accept that space is the ground then the anxiety dissipates.

I'm seeing that a lot of my reactions are to the fire element in my in-laws, their need to create comforting tensions to stave off loneliness. Framed that way it's nothing personally threatening at all. It creates an interessting situation though. Do I continue to give them the conflict they subconsciously crave? Do I retreat and become the aloof arrogant one again? Or do I just rail with them against the same targets and confirm them in their fireiness? In practice it's a bit of all three, but it's much more muted now, just playing around at the edges. The wonderful thing about these elements (and realms) is that they all have shortish lifespans based on their energy level, so nothing is irrevocable and everything comes to a natural close once the energy is exhausted.

I'm probably beginning to sound like some tantric nutjob now. I'm not really into funny hats and don't feel the need to create new symbolisms and rituals, but it's quite liberating to realize that all behavior is symbolic ritual on some level. I think I was in a phase of rejecting life's rituals as arbitrary, but now I'm coming back to accepting them for what they are - temporary fabrications of meaning which don't pose any special threat. In a way they can be quite endearing, but there's still some resistance to seeing them as beautiful manifestations of emptiness.

Kundlalini has ramped up again with the increased willingness to experience discomfort, but I'm getting better at recognizing that it's only resistance to K which is uncomfortable, not K itself.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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It really stuck me this morning the obvious fact that thought is just another sense medium, another way of filtering or fabricating experience and interacting with the apparent external world. It's just that I'm more attached to thought as being mine or about me than the other sense media. It explains why I'm so addicted to thought, both on and off the cushion. But really it's just thinking for its own sake as a way of perpetuating a sense of self, whether the thoughts are pleasant, investigatory, profound, shallow, neurotic etc. Seeing that started loosening the clinging to thought.

Another thing that is starting to become more apparent is emptiness and how one relates to it. One reaction to emptiness is aversion, framing it as nihilistic. But if no one thing is more significant than any other then everything is equally significant. Taking a shit is just as meaningful as listening to Shostakovich's 8th string quartet. When you think (!) about what food is, where it's come from, what it does and where it's going ... it's a ritual as sacred as any other really. In a way I've always felt like this, that meaning is totally arbitrary, but I didn't relate to it particularly skillfully. I was always getting obsessed with sideshows, or else veering into depression where everything was meaningless. But if everything is meaningless then everything is equally meaningful, so it can be framed as life affirming as it is nihilistic.

And another thing while I'm at it. What's up with everything being dependently originated?! Not just in meditation, the whole damn show. Everything from apples to iphones to people to trees to the big bang. Nothing will every have any accessible existence outside of fabricated experience. Pretty mindblowing as well when you really grok that one. Tends to trigger anxiety, but that anxiety is just another fabrication designed to fill a space which doesn't need any extra filling because if it's completely empty then it's also completely full. Starting to talk nonsense here, but it all seems to be falling into place somehow.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Agnostic’s Log 4 (Riding the Ride)

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Very equanimous day, felt like I've turned some sort of a corner. Had some moments of enjoyment with small family stuff which I was resisting before.

Got tired and crabby this evening and a new type of headache has started - very strong hard iron band feeling going back further over the skull than the wavy forehead thing I had before. Probably the strongest head pain so far, but not overly concerned since I've cycled through this before. Still, a bit disappointing because I thought I was done with headpain. But the head pains are close to the bliss waves and there's a clear grounding process still going on so it's all good.

Now I've had a better taste of equanimity I feel like I'm craving it a bit, which is ironic since Equanimity = 1 / Craving. Guess that's just another craving to let go of and accept that EQ comes and goes like anything else. Need to up my sleep a bit, it's a definite factor.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Woke up with the usual lousy feeling and meditated back to equanimity in about 20 mins. emoticon 

I'm noticing that craving for equanimity is a very pure form of craving. It's craving for non-craving, wanting the feeling of wanting to go away. When there's wanting without a particular object one can observe the pure feeling of wanting in the body, an unsettling urge in the belly. It reminds me of when I was a kid and would want things that I had absolutely no power to obtain. As an adult you have the power to obtain most things you want, or at least a taste of them, so you move very quickly from wanting to getting. But if you're a kid and you want something and your parents say no then it's game over and you're just stuck with wanting. Also like wanting your first love, when you have no knowledge about how to make the first move. The nice thing to observe about the fire element is that once you stop feeding the fire it runs out of fuel and goes out. emoticon 

After getting to equanimity so quickly a feelng of pride arose and thoughts about touting my victory here. I noticed how the urge to post is related to the fire element - a feeling of loneliness and a desire to have some interaction which will appease that feeling. Simply observing that feeling made it dissipate. In nonsense terms, if I'm not connected to anything in particular then I'm connected to everything and there's no need to feel lonely or separated.

I'm getting in touch with spaciousness quicker on the cushion and more pervasively off the cushion. It's the emptiness from which everything is arising. Is that the same thing as rigpa or the ground? In sutta terms it just seems to be a very soft formless jhana, which I think can be understood as an extension of the fourth or equanimity. Thoughts?
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

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Yeah, eventually the "worldview" tends to stay mostly in EQ and the different life experiences are more like sub-nanas of the EQ nana. Fear becomes EQ.Fear, Desire for deliverance become EQ.DFD, etc.

Intuiting "emptiness as ground" and "seeing emptiness in real time" tend to be seen as possibilities at about the same time during practice development.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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That sounds like a pretty good way to go about life emoticon 
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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I'm identifying another craving which causes dissatisfaction - the craving for awakening. My dualistic mind tends to assume that "I am making progress towards awakening", but reflection shows that the concepts of "I" and "progress" and "awakening" are all fabricated, hence empty of any intrinsic existence. I appear to be making progress in the areas of behavior, calm and insight, but I'm not convinced that's necessarily related to awakening. It might make awakening more likely to sneak up on me, but it also might cause me to remain stuck in the dualistic trap of assuming that awakening is some kind of destination I could be making progress towards. In a way it's the ultimate self-defeating craving - preventing me from seeing what is already here.
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

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Link to next log.

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