Niels's practice log #2

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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
This log is a continuation of my first practice log. I will change the format slightly, from now on logging less schematically and only once a day, as opposed to the old log’s formal reporting after each sit. I still use the set-up for my meditation that I call SamVip 1.2*. So if nothing else is stated, a sitting uses this set-up and lasts 60 minutes.
 
SamVip 1.2: First I recite some inner words about my motivation and intention. These may vary and evolve (for the time being, they are about getting intimate with the entire experience, listening to the music of experience that is playing in this very moment, being the music of experience that is playing in this very moment). Then I do samatha to calm the mind: I do anapanasati with the spot above the upper lip and under the nostrils as object. When mind is ready (or if it gets ready), I gradually expand the object to include the face, head, arms, torso and legs. Then I include sound and visuals as well, everything that is here and now. And then I do (F minus S)-noting* for a while to highlight the aspects of experience that I hitherto have not seen clearly enough. When mind is ready, I drop the notes and try to just be intimate with the experience, no matter what it is. If the noting for some reason reappears by itself later in the sitting, I will try to dance with that as well.
 
(F minus S)-noting is a version of freestyle noting that I tailormade to my particular needs: It means ”Freestyle minus Sensations” and involves not noting (but of course still noticing) any Feeling, Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting, Thinking. In stead of the six sense doors, I note everything else, especially classic emotions (anger, sadness, joy etc.), feeling tones (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), and reactions (craving, aversion). But also more abstract qualities such as Clarity, Curiousity, Content, Calm, Agitation, Unease, Spaciousness, Asymmetry etc. And when thoughts come, I will not note ”Thinking”, but some other aspect of that experience, especially emotional aspects (shame, sadness etc.), or at least a category of thought (past thought, future thought, practice thought, for instance).
 
Absorptions. It is also now part of my practice to try to recognize the different varieties or depths of absorption. Since I don’t feel experienced enough to do formal jhana analysis, I have chosen, for the time being, to use my own vague categories. I’ll describe them here, so that I can just use their names as shorthands below. So far I have two:
     1) bottom of the ocean-feeling: The body is fairly still and comfortable with a soft, fluid feeling, sensing the entire body frame as this back of heavy liquid with some pressure in the surface. There might be some tensions, stiffness, soreness etc. here and there, but no aversion to these. There are wobly, wavy movements in this liquid body, everything from a choppy sea of hard, short, fast waves throug slow, deep undercurrents to almost dead calm waters. This is almost always accompanied by highpitched notes in the ears and a quite dark visual field with dim light softly moving. The feeling tone is pleasant, there might even be a little joy. When things get even more quiet, this gradually morphs into ...
     2) floating in space-feeling: The waves and currents are now more or less gone, body is now very still except for the occassional minor correction of posture, usually the position of the spine. The normal feeling of having or being a body is (almost) gone, the body sensations seem to just float in an abstract space as a sort of field or cloud of sensations (pressure, tension, movement, heaviness, lightness etc.). Body parts and their positions can usually be reconstructed, but that demands intentional effort and might take a second or two. The highpitched notes are louder than in absorption 1, and they often vibrate, jingle, pulsate and develop overtones. The visual field is usually very dark, except for the occasional flash of an image thought, a split second flickering of a set of nostrils, for instance, or an entire face. The feeling tone is neutral or slightly pleasant, there is contentment, balance, peace and almost nothing happening.
 
So, welcome to my new log. emoticon I might insert considerations and questions along the way, but no matter what, comments, advice, reflections etc. are always more than welcome.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
21st of September 2020

First sitting. Energy was a bit low, but this was met with full acceptance. Body was soft, self held, at the edge of absorption, but didn’t really get in. Thoughts were there maybe half the time, and some emotions (sadness, exhaustion, joy) passed by briefly and subtly: Mind was evaluating the retreat, I couldn’t stop it, and so I let it. I did some resolutions and metta as well. Felt relieved and energized after the sit.

Second sitting. Energy was strong and stable and so after maybe ten minutes, mind found its way into ”bottom of the ocean-feeling”. The waves of movement in the body were a bit more agitated to begin with, but got more calm. Only few verbalized thoughts. Things got calmer, and the state morphed into ”floating in space-feeling”. After a couple of minutes, different vibrations began to show up: the rotor like vibration, which is both tactile and (sort of subwoofing) auditory and difficult to place in space. Some staccato like vibrations in the outbreaths. Shimmering in the visual field. And vibrations in the highpitched notes in the ears. Then a hard and tight ”pain” came (tension or stiffness, feeling tone unpleasant, but met with complete acceptance) around the spine at the higth of the solar plexus. This ”pain” sort overshadowed the different vibrations. It morphed and twisted for a while, then slowly dissolved. Back in ”floating in space-feeling”. Some vibrations began to reappear, but then the bell rang.

Third sitting: A quite absurd experience. Two things were going on in parallel throughout the entire sit. On the one hand a moderately agitated absorbtion state was morphing around between different versions of ”bottom of the ocean-feeling”, mostly hard and fast waves, but sometimes more gentle, and a couple of times approaching the more calm ”floating in space-feeling”. On the other hand there was an intense chattering going on: Fully formed verbalized thoughts just talking and talking nonstop. I have never experienced this combo: The absorptions are usually only there when mind is quite if not entirely quiet. And when there is verbal activity, there is usually either some degree of aversion to it and/or attempts to calm it down in order to make room for the absorption. But this time there was both nonstop verbal activity and a semi-deep (although agitated, unstable, constantly changing) absorption. It was quite confusing. For a long time, I took sides with the absorption and tried to quiet this talkative idiot down, but he was completely unstoppable (at the beginning, he was going on about some major things happening in my private life these days, understable enough, but after twenty minutes, he was just telling me all sorts of irrelevant shit or live-blogging from the meditative experience in a sort of involuntary noting, and towards the end he even began singing!). I diligently directed attention to the breath, but got distracted by the verbal thoughts again and again. There was no aversion to this, I just found it absurd and a bit inappropriate that this voice would carry on like that – like a man in the audience talking loudly during a concert of classical music – when such a beautiful and interesting absorption was unfolding with vibrations in the spine, highpitched notes pulsating in the ears at different speeds and a semi-bright visual field: Do you MIND, Sir? But as mentioned, he was completely unstoppable, and the last twenty minutes or so, I gave up and just tried to be with it all. It was very confusing, disorienting, several times it was almost impossible, even with strong intention, to perceive the posture: Is my spine tilted heavily to the right? Has my head turned 45 degrees to the left? I had to set the body in motion in order to ”find” body parts or their position in space. Every time I found out that I was sitting more or less in my normal posture, so it must have been some sort of proprioceptive confusion. There was nothing uncomfortable about it, body was soft and painfree, mind free of frustration and aversion. It was just absurd – and quite amusing.

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SushiK, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 143 Join Date: 6/11/20 Recent Posts
and towards the end he even began singing!) [...] Do you MIND, Sir?
You made me laugh like an idiot at the office emoticon
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 739 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Welcome back Niels. 

New level of precision/clarity there.

Very funny about the talkative dude emoticon
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
22nd of September 2020

First sitting: Same parallel as in yesterday’s third sitting: Mental chatter alongside absorption, this time more as it has been in the past in that the absorption never really got established due to too much agitation in the thinking mind. It was planning and evaluating a lot, and since I am going through some major changes in my external life, that’s very understable, it’s its job. There was no aversion towards all this thinking, which is unusual for me, and no, or well, almost no craving emoticon for the absorption to become deeper and more stable. This whole messy mixture of a sit was met with a lot of acceptance, and there was no real physical discomfort, just some tensions and tightenings and stiffness, changing and moving around in the back, the chest, and the neck, especially around the middle of the spine, sort of like thick sea weed moving through across the bottom of the ocean.

Second sitting: Again a mixture of verbalized thought and weak and unstable absorption. After about ten minutes mind slowly established itself in ”bottom of the ocean-feeling”, but thoughts were still there, maybe 30-40 percent of the time (planning thoughts due to changing life conditions, and some valuable psychological insights). Around 40 minutes in, it was approaching ”floating in space-feeling”, but never quite stabilized there, though thoughts got a bit more quiet. The last five minutes or so, there were some vibrations in the spine.

Third sitting: The absorption was established after maybe 8-10 minutes, ”bottom of the ocean-feeling”, a bit chaotic, but also a bit more pleasant than usual. Then a long stretch of maybe half an hour where legs, torso and arms seemed to be ”floating in space”, very light and airy, difficult to find, all the while the head and neck was still on the ”bottom of the ocean” with fast and hard (but round, not edgy) waves pleasantly and quite intensely massaging the entire head. Also there was coolness there, whereas the rest of the body was neutral in temperature. This combo of absorption 1 and 2 in different parts of the body was a bit confusing, and I got disorientated as to body parts and body positions a couple of times, especially the head which seemed to have turned or tilted, but then turned out not to have done that. Towards the end, the head also calmed down, but mind never got entirely or stably into ”floating in space”. It was all very plesant and nice, though. There were some thoughts, especially the first twenty minutes or so, but not very distracting, and I chose to just notice them and not try to calm them down – trying to keep an ”all inclusive” approach rather than prioritizing the absorption management.

Consideration: After my retreat, there seems to be a better momentum to the absorptions, they more or less live their own life now, establish them selves, morph, evolve etc. without me really doing much. I guess that’s why verbalized thought has returned a bit. Also, I have caught myself being drifted off for maybe 20-30 seconds, not into thoughts, but just into some dullness or spacing out. I am not sure whether to try to avoid that and for instance anchor myself to the breath to stay more present, or if it is better to just let the mind remain a bit spaced out and sort of very broad in awareness scope?
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hey Niels, enjoying this new log thoroughly. You had me cracking up about the chatterbox in the depths of absorption. Gives me hope for a sitcom someday based on meditation: "Everyone Loves the Mat."
Absorptions. It is also now part of my practice to try to recognize the different varieties or depths of absorption. Since I don’t feel experienced enough to do formal jhana analysis, I have chosen, for the time being, to use my own vague categories. I’ll describe them here, so that I can just use their names as shorthands below. So far I have two:
     1) bottom of the ocean-feeling: The body is fairly still and comfortable with a soft, fluid feeling, sensing the entire body frame as this back of heavy liquid with some pressure in the surface. There might be some tensions, stiffness, soreness etc. here and there, but no aversion to these. There are wobly, wavy movements in this liquid body, everything from a choppy sea of hard, short, fast waves throug slow, deep undercurrents to almost dead calm waters. This is almost always accompanied by highpitched notes in the ears and a quite dark visual field with dim light softly moving. The feeling tone is pleasant, there might even be a little joy. When things get even more quiet, this gradually morphs into ...
     2) floating in space-feeling: The waves and currents are now more or less gone, body is now very still except for the occassional minor correction of posture, usually the position of the spine. The normal feeling of having or being a body is (almost) gone, the body sensations seem to just float in an abstract space as a sort of field or cloud of sensations (pressure, tension, movement, heaviness, lightness etc.). Body parts and their positions can usually be reconstructed, but that demands intentional effort and might take a second or two. The highpitched notes are louder than in absorption 1, and they often vibrate, jingle, pulsate and develop overtones. The visual field is usually very dark, except for the occasional flash of an image thought, a split second flickering of a set of nostrils, for instance, or an entire face. The feeling tone is neutral or slightly pleasant, there is contentment, balance, peace and almost nothing happening.

i love these, and can relate to them easily. In my own progression, there is a preliminary phase of sinking in the ocean, very slowly and gently, through temperature variants and grades of density of the water, so that it is a very non-linear sinking. The bottom of the ocean comes as a distinct sense of much less movement and very quiet generally (though there are thoughts, they are very distinct as thoughts, not as much fun as your singing chatterbox, lol, and it is usually pretty transparent what they wish for, and that it is either unrealistic, unknowable ahead of time, or simply a well-known path to misery, and so it is pretty easy to let them drift through). The more spatial feeling comes as the mind makes full peace with the breath (which often disappears, as breath, and just feels like muscular waves arising and passing) and the body (which the mind lets do what it does, in knowledge that the body is much better at sitting there than anything the mind can come up with, which usually leads directly to tension or pain). In rare cases, body and breath are both gone, and it would take such an effort to find them that it's easier to just let that be. (This seems to me to be the best state to die in, lol, as you can really do it without ever being too troubled by the actual dying.)

and then of course some guy starts singing, lol.

party on, my friend.

love, tim
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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I totally recognize what you say, especially the sinking down phase: Diving bell entered! Spine locked in! Let go! So strange that the mind can do this emoticon
agnostic, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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I have this sometimes. I think of it as meditating on the "mind stream" as an object. Like you say it's strange to have thoughts rattling around and be getting more relaxed, because there's this prejudice that thoughts are bad in meditation. Obviously if you are obsessively pursuing one thought that is different, but this is more like watching the mind defragging. Sometimes some random thoughts get me over a hump where I can't focus on the main object enough and I give up and let the thoughts come and go and suddenly I am dropping deeper.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Thanks for the comment, it's very useful. It totally aligns with some other advice I just had elsewhere that I should try to meditate on the mind stream. So I'll do that and see what happens emoticon
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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23rd of September 2020

First sitting
: Absorption established it self after around 8-10 minutes, first ”bottom of the ocean-feeling”, and then some 30-35 minutes in, it slowly evolved into ”floating in space”. It never got quite strong or stable, since there was, once again, verbalized thought, maybe 30-40 percent of the time. It seems that now that the absorption just evolves all by it self, ”I” don’t have that much to do, and so there’s mental chatter. There was even some boredom the last twenty minutes or so. It was all nice and pleasant and peaceful, body was soft and painfree, no real reactivity going on in the mind, so ”I didn’t have anything left to do. But I just tried to sit with it all.

Second sitting: Slowly sinking down through the waters, reaching the bottom of the ocean in about 8-10 minutes. It morphed back and forth between more calm, less calm, more calm, approaching ”floating in space”, but then less calm etc. All the while there was quite a lot of verbal thinking going on, once again. And several times a surprise that I got so easily distracted, that mind seemed less alert, less attentive. A bit boredom now and then. And doubt about practice, that is: about HOW to practice, not about practice itself being beneficial and important etc.

Third sitting (late night sit, logged next morning as I went straight to bed): Absorption quickly established itself, maybe in 5-6 minutes, a calm and quiet version of ”bottom of the ocean”, some deep undercurrents swaying from right to left and back again, also some cool tinkling in the scull. Some 20 minutes in (not quite sure about the timing here) it evolved into a very quiet and still version of ”floating in space”. No verbalized or preverbalized thought, no images thoughts, just a dark visual field, the highpitched notes semi-high in volume and slightly morse code like. Nothing happening, feeling tone neutral or slightly pleasant, everything peacefull and otherworldly. For long stretches ”I” seemed to be almost gone. I kept sitting for some 10-15 minutes after the bell rang, then the head began nodding, and I went to bed and tried to watch the mind disappear into sleep (didn’t succeed in following it all the way). Very nice and pleasant and healing.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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24th of September 2020

First sitting: It took a little longer, maybe 15 minutes, for the absorbtion to establish itself, at first as a quiet version of ”bottom of the ocean”, almost dead calm waters. Some 35-40 minutes in, it slowly evolved into ”floating in space”, but all the way the absorbtion, in both varieties, was quite superficial or unclean or mixed in that there also was some discursive thinking, maybe half the time, and some restlessness and soreness in the back, especially round the spine between and below the shoulder blades. Lots of small corrections to posture, body never found its stillness. A bit of boredom and impatience was also there towards the end. Along the way there was a good deal of self inquiery: Who is bored? Who are you talking to? etc. All of these things met wit lots of acceptance.

Secondsitting: Body very soft and still and at ease and light (I meditated just after yoga: good idea). Absorption established itself within 5-7 minutes, a light and calm version of ”bottom of the ocean”. For some minutes there were some slow and heavy sideways waves going back and forth from left to right, then almost dead calm waters. Some 20-25 minutes in, it slowly changed into ”floating in space”, the difference between the two was very little. In parallel with the absorbtion there was discursive thinking maybe 30-40 percent of the time (random thoughts, no emotional charge). I tried to tune in to the sound of these voices, including an earworm, and take it as object, but I’m not quite sure I could find it. There was some impatience and restlessness and boredom, all of it included with acceptance.

Third sitting (late night sit, logged next morning as I went straight to bed). This sitting was much like the late night sitting yesterday: Very very quiet and still, strong and stable absorption, ”floating in space” appearing after maybe 20-25 minutes, and from there on virtually no verbalized thought, no images thoughts, nothing really happening, neutral feelingtone, peacefull, I guess, but no enjoying the peace, no joy, hardly content. ”I” was more or less not there. No nodding off, no yawning. Again I mindfully went directly to bed and tried (and failed) to see mind disappear into sleep.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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25th of September 2020

First sitting: Absorbtion slowly and sort of reluctantly established itself, and after 10-12 minutes, I was at ”the bottom of the ocean”. Absorption remained weak and unstable all throug the sit, also when it, just a few minutes before the bell rang, turned into ”floating in space”. There was a general restlessness, busy mind, verbalized thought some 70-80 percent of the time. I was and had been thinking a lot about ”meditating on the mind stream”, that is: Taking the sound of the verbalized thought as object, direct attention there and see what happens. But I didn’t get to meditate much on the mind stream this time, because almost everytime the inner voice was chattering (planning thoughts, practice thoughts + random irrelevant shit, no emotional charge to any of it), I forgot! And each time I finally remembered, the voice stopped. A few times I intentionally set it off again in order to meditate on the mind stream, as I had been adviced to do, but it was still difficult, because now the voice started talking about whether I was scripting and manipulating, so that this really didn’t count, and I got so caught up in the content of these meta-thoughts that I forgot to meditate on the sound of them! ”This voice is playing games with me!”. Said the voice. Two or three times I caught it off guard and for a second or two had the experience that the thinking voice became unarticulated, mumbling. But then a new and very articulate voice came in to speculate once again about what was going on. There was no aversion or frustration to all this, it was just a bit weird and difficult. Oh yeah, there was also, all the way through, some stiffness and soreness in the back, restlessness and from time to time impatience, boredom, but these in themselves aversive feelings were not met with any aversion.

Second sitting (begun some 5-7 minutes after workout, pulse was down, but maybe it contributed to the sitting). As soon as I sat down and was doing my initial intention setting etc., some sort of absorption was there, spine locked, and a heavy and powerfull ”wave” began swinging back and forth from front to back of the torso, or rather through the torso, it seemed. It was very regular, like a pendulum, one back and forth movement took about two seconds, tik tok, or rather: woosh! woosh!, it was heavy, like having an ironball passing through my midriff. I became short of breath, it was as if breath didn’t know whether or not to synchronize with this powerfull rythm. I didn’t interfere, only observed and let the breath breathe itself, it was difficult to formulate my words of intention with my inner voice, I usually use phrases that follow the breath, and breath was very disturbed, got quite fast and irregular, even though it had been calm as I sat down, it did not find any synchrony with the pendulum. It was unpleasant, like having a thump in the stomach each time the pendulum swung by, the entire torso was greatly affected by this physical agitation, but there was no aversion, just curiousity and wonder. After ten minutes or so, the force or heaviness of the pendulum wore somewhat off, but it still swung regularly at the same speed for maybe another ten minutes, and the general physical agitation lasted for the rest of the sitting, even though it sloooowly faded the last 10-15 minutes. Around halfway through I decided to collapse the spine and try to calm the system down with some intentional slow breathing (wrong decision?). It helped somewhat, but when I sat up straight again, the pendular movements resumed. There was some sort of absorption all the way through, not easy to categorize, a strange version of ”bottom of the ocean”, perhaps. Oh yeah, and in parallel with all this physical agitation, there was some verbal and a lot of preverbal activity, and I tried, without much luck, to ”meditate on the mind stream”, but perhaps there was just too much going on.  A strange sitting indeed.

Third sitting (late night sit, logged next morning as I went straight to bed). Similar to the late night sittings of yesterday and the day before, a bit more preverbalized chattering the first 10-15 minutes and a few small body jerks as I was getting sleepy.
Olivier, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 739 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi Niels,

I find that trying to see if you can notice whether the whole mental scenery changes or not in a very broad and general and inclusive way can help meditate on the mind stream. Like, "ok, there is a mental image of the room, and a mental image of the meditator, and a voice talking seemingly coming out of there. That's great. But does the whole thing stay the same or not ?" Just trying to notice or even note when the whole thing changes. "Change. Change. Change."

Also, hope this can be helpful, but i feel like ... Almost losing interest in the specifics of meditation... but still sitting... Is a good way to give up the last bits of clinging which stand in the way of... emoticon
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Hi Olivier,

Yeah, thanks, that's very helpful. To some extend it is what I'm already trying – the broad all inclusive scope. But it's always nice to have new pointers, new formulations, and this almost disinterested approach could work like that for me. Thanks for following along!
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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26th of September 2020

No time for morning sitting today, as I was travelling. So First sitting today (afternoon) is parallel with my normal Second sitting, and Second sitting today (late evening) is parallel wit my normal Third sitting.

First sitting. I had been driving for more than four hours so I entered the sitting feeling tired and with low energy. An absorbtion established itself quite quickly, a weak version of ”bottom of the ocean”, and the pendulum from yesterday returned in a much milder version and was there for maybe 15 minutes. Then things calmed down. Mindfulness was really discontinuous, I drifted off, most of the time into preverbalized (and sometimes fully verbalized) dreamlike thought, once again I didn’t manage to meditate on the mind stream, since every time there was a stream of (pre)verbalized thought I wasn’t mindfull enough to remember it, and when I remembered, the stream stopped. Some tiredness and soreness in the back also. Had this been a month ago, I would have considered this a sloppy sit and would have been disappointed with myself, but not now, there was and is no aversion to this mixed, not very deep, not-succeeding-in-developing-new-skills-sit. It was fine, really. So more acceptance is developing, I guess.

Second sitting. Similar to other late night sits these days. This one really quiet from the beginning, almost no thoughts. And a new feature: Somewhere along, maybe half way in, there was a sudden burst of very pleasant warm and fizzling sensations in the left thigh and left part of the lower torso, a fizz like in soda water, really pleasant. It lasted a couple of seconds and didn’t return. I’ve had it before, but this sensation is a very very rare guest in this body mind system, so I was quite surprised.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
27th of September 2020

First sitting: A weak absorption established after 5-7 minutes, a calm version of ”bottom of the ocean”. It got somewhat deeper as the sit progressed, bordering on ”floating in space”, but never really got there. There was sleepiness, restlessness, impatience, boredom. Thoughts were there maybe half of the time, mostly preverbalized, some of it verbalized, pretty random, no emotional charge, a couple of earworms also came by. I tried to meditate on the mind stream, even sat the intention to do so when the sit began, but most of the time I forgot when thougts were there, or they were so whispy and remote and short lasting that it wasn’t possible to find the sound of them. At one point I did meditate on the sound of an earworm, it didn’t really change anything, the song just continued, and then, in parallel, the thought: ”Is this really an earworm, or is it me singing a song in order to meditate on the mind stream?” Then the song stopped, and I wasn’t sure if ”I” had stopped it, or if it had stopped by itself. In general these days, there is often confusion or insecurity with regard to intention: Is this ”my” intention or just an intention? Often it is difficult to tell. Once again, there wasn’t any real aversion to any of this. Acceptance, general okayness.

Second sitting. Absorption established itself within 5-7 minutes, medium strength, starting off as ”bottom of the ocean”, slowly morphing into ”floating in space” after maybe 25-30 minutes. It was quite calm and still, thoughts were there maybe 30 percent of the time, all of them distant, unclear, whispy. Mind didn’t care to meditate on the mind stream, maybe because thoughts were not clear and articulated enough. The dominant feature all the way throug was a stifness or hardness somewhere between the middle and the upper back, between the shoulderblades, sometime stretching all the way up to the back of the head. It was clearly unpleasant, but met with total acceptance, and the last twenty minutes or so, absorption actually became okay deep, in spite of this ”pain”. A month ago, that would not have happened, there would either have been pain or absorption. Now they coexisted. So I guess I’m learning these days that absorptions don’t have to be super deep, super quiet and calm and still, they can be there in parallel with both discursive thinking and physical discomfort. The strangest and nicest thing happening here after my retreat is thus not that the depth of absorption has increased (which is hasn’t), but that the level of acceptance has gone op. Or in other words: Aversion has gone down, now almost – almost! – anything is equally okay in a sit.

Third sitting: A typical late night sitting (cf. above). ”I” was more or less gone for long stretches of time, but perhaps there was slightly more awareness when ”I” was gone, than what has been the case before, because when I came back to a more mindfull state, there was a better memory of being gone. It feels very relaxing and healing to be gone like that. I was sleepy, though, and there were a couple of body jerks as I dozed off. I will try to start my late night sitting half an hour earlier tomorrow to see if the energy is slightly higher, but the deep calm still there.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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28th of September 2020

First sitting: Reached ”bottom of the ocean” after some ten minutes, and ”floating in space” some 40 minutes in. All the way through there was a stiffness or tightness somewhere between middle and upper back, along the spine. It expanded and contracted and moved around a bit during the sit, some times into the chest, sometimes up through the neck to the back of the head. It was somewhat unpleasant, but there was no aversion to it. Thoughts were there some 30 percent of the time, mostly preverbalized. Now and then, though, a shower of fully verbalized thoughts, I tried to meditate on the mind stream, and it felt as if I was just listening to the thoughts, and as if I didn’t really manage to zoom in on the sound of them, even though I could locate them in the middle of the head. Again some doubts about intentions, did I intent to think fully verbalized, did I intend to stop the thought stream, or did these things happen by them selves? The last ten minutes or so I experienced the phenomenon of visual field lighting up a bit on the inbreath. What stroke me most, though, was a slight but unmistakable joy that was there al the way through, a sense of wonder an amusement, even though this wasn’t particularly deep or special, and even though there was some physical discomfort. It just felt nice to be there, to be alive. And since joy has never been a frequent guest in this body mind system, that made quite an impression on me.

Second sitting: Absorption established after maybe five minutes. A little tightness in the chest, otherwise no physical discomfort. Thoughts were there maybe 40 percent of the time, half of them preverbalized, distant, the other half verbalized, but not really pulling, and not stable enough to ”meditate on the mind stream”. Which the mind apparently didn’t care too much to do this time. It was just being with what ever turned up, bodily sensations, thoughts, sounds. There was clarity, content, actually joy most of the time, even a cheerfulness or jollyness (if that’s a word), that I have very rarely experienced in meditation. It was just nice and amusing to sit. A flicker of doubt turned up towards the end: Is this getting to sloppy? Well, I know I shouldn’t strive to deepen the absorption, but just include everything, but perhaps I should note to make sure that I actually do include everything? Then I noted for a minute or two, but it didn’t really make me notice anything that I didn’t already see, so I dropped it again.

Third sitting: A typical late night sitting, very still and quiet, almost no thoughts, dark visual field, some sleepiness towards the end.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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29th of September 2020

First sitting: Absorption established after 3-4 minutes, ”bottom of the ocean”, never got beyond that. There was as usual clarity, calm, acceptance, and the first ten minutes or so there was even some joy, but then energy dropped a bit, and there was just content. Some 15 minutes in a little physical discomfort arose, a tightness or stiffness between middle and upper back, it stayed throughout the sit, expanded and contracted a bit, sometimes into the chest, sometimes up to the back of the head. Towards the end it became part of the ”ocean”s wavy movement. It was a bit unpleasant, but no aversion. Thoughts were there maby a third of the time, most of them preverbalized. A few attempts at meditating on the mind stream were made, but the thoughts sort of evaded or stopped every time I tried to land attention there. General feeling still just content and okay.

Second sitting: Absorbtion established after about five minutes. Got interrupted by reality a few minutes before the bell rang an only managed to log some hours later, so I don’t remember the details, but nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Third sitting: Again very similar to ealier late night sits, except this time energy was too high and restless to begin with, and it took 30-35 minutes before things calmed ALL the way down to this very still ”floating in space” feeling. That I really like. And so I discovered that there was aversion to the restlessness in the beginning, and craving for stillness and deep absorption. Aversion, craving = dukkha. I sat with that, and the question arose: Who is dissatisfied with this? No answer, though, verbally or otherwise.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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30th of September 2020

Off-cushion remark – change of set-up.
Yesterday evening I re-read the feedback shargrol gave me on my home retreat (in my old practice log-thread), and I also read some new advice he’s give Pepe, who like me is an EQ-yogi (even though there are of course differences between Pepe and me, I feel that there are similar things we are working with). And so I decided to change my set-up a little.
          In SamVip 2.0 I started with 1) setting intentions and motivations, and 2) calming the body mind system down as to establish some level of absorption – or just presence – for the vipassana part of practice (noting or noticing).
          But I realized that 1) Even the best of intentions (”I intend to meditate on the mind stream”, ”) and the best of motivations (”I practice to be peaceful and kind”) can lead to striving, because there is some form of trying involved. And striving seems to be my main challenge. And I know what my intentions are, I have already taken in the good advice given, and it is not at all hard for me to find motivation, so there is no need any longer for this preliminary ”prayer”.
          I also realized that 2) By now, absorption usually just establishes itself within a few minutes after sitting down; hence there is no longer any need to intentionally calm the system down and try to be absorbed. That’s yet another form of trying, striving.
          So my new set-up is as simple as can be, I call it ”Just Sit”, and that’s it: No ”prayer”, no calming down, also no rules or suggestions as to what I should do in the meditation (note, notice or whatever), I simply assume the posture, close my eyes and do nothing.

First sitting (set-up: Just Sit): A low level standard absortion established itself withing 2-3 minutes and stayed throughout the sit. (By ”low level standard absorption” I mean: not ”bottom of the ocean” or ”floating in space”, but just a sense that the spine locks in, a pressure in the surface of the body is established, so that the body is ”self held”, and there is a basic clarity as to what is going on). And then there were thoughts, lots of thoughts, all the way through, and restlessness, impatience and doubt, lots of doubt about practice – not about the benefits about practice itself, but about my own abilities to practice. ”I need to find the last remnants of aversion, where can they be?” Suddenly I found myself striving for aversion, and mind saw the absurdity in that, but all sorts of doubt thoughts kept coming up, at one point the question ”what is good practice? what is good practice?” went on like an earworm for more than a minute. There was tension in the chest, and I became short of breath, there was stress in the system. So you could say I did manage to find some aversion – but I wasn’t pleased, I had aversion to the aversion. There was also planning thoughts, mostly about practice and how I could change it (add in walking meditation, as shargrol has suggested), but also about mundane stuff. So absorption, yes, but not much calm this time. But some part of me – or maybe that was precicely not me – watched all this unfold and saw the absurdity and uselessness of it.

Second sitting (set-up: Just Sit): A low level standard absorbtion established itself within a few minutes. Around half way through, it morphed into a weak version of ”bottom of the ocean”, a bit more still and calm than the first half hour. Again lots of thoughts and doubts were there, most of them practice related: Is the new set-up a good idea? Does it change anything? Am I sliding backwards in my practice? Am I flawed somehow since I obviously don’t know how to do this? etc. Two or three times there was a little ”meditation on the mind stream” going on, watching the sound of thoughts, and sound got muffled and slowed down for a second or two, but then a fresh and very well articulated verbalized thought came in with reflections, doubts as to whether that was scripted etc. etc. Most of the time, though, I forgot to tune in on the sound of thoughts when there were thoughts, and when I remembered, the thoughts stopped. – So as to where there is still a preference and hence aversion or non-acceptance, it is clear that ”I” prefer deep absorption to shallow, and ”I” prefer not to have thoughts while meditating. I noticed that image thoughts are readily accepted, they seem to be beyond my control and have the same status as external (or internal, for that matter) sounds: not my responsability. But verbalized thoughts are different: There is a feeling that I ought to be able to stop them, control them. The last ten minutes or so, things got a bit more quiet, and there was more acceptance, even of the thoughts, that still showed up every third or fourth second, and I noticed that during the entire sit I never really got lost in all these thoughts. I was mindful of them (even though I forgot to meditate on the mind stream).

Third sitting (set-up: Just Sit): A very calm and quiet version of ”sitting on the bottom of the ocean” was established within 1-2 minutes. Some half way in it morphed into ”floating in space”. There were very few thoughts, peacefulness, content. The last twenty minutes or so some stretches of time where ”I” was more or less gone, which was very restful and pleasant and felt healing.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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1st of October 2020

First sitting (set-up: Just Sit): Absorption established within 2-3 minutes, a calm version of "bottom of the ocean", short and gentle waves. Some tension in the chest going up and down in intesity through the sit, a little aversion to it now and then. Thoughts were there maybe 75 percent of the time, about two thirds of them preverbalized, the rest fully verbalized, mostly practice thoughts and planning thoughts. Any attempt at meditating on the mind stream stopped the thoughts. Sometimes I found myself starting them intentionally so that I had something to meditate on, but stopped them again when I realized that I was manipulating. Most of the time I forgot about meditating on the mind stream. For some short stretches, I mananged to keep it in mind and then I sort of sat there waiting for thoughts, but they didn’t show up – until I had forgotten about it. Some self doubt, restlessness and impatience arose, but nothing too bad, the physical aspect was restful and mostly pleasant, and I enjoyed that.

Second sitting (set-up: Just Sit): Absorption established after 4-5 minutes, a calm version of ”bottom of the ocean”. Body was tired after gardening an yoga, so pretty soon a light dullness arose, and it stayed throughout the sit. There was no aversion to it, actually it felt kind of nice, maybe because it made me worry less about practice. So I just sat there, never dozed off, but sort of disinterestedly watched a very non-spectacular show unfolding: General physical comfort, but a little backpain, and thoughts maybe 75 percent of the time, most of them preverbalized or on the edge of verbalized, some of them dreamlike nonsense thoughts. I was never totally gone, but I wasn’t super alert noticing every little detail. A little impatience towards the end, otherwise just okayness.

No time for late night sitting today.

Off-cushion remark: During my home retreat and the first week after, I was very eager to sit, passionate about it, looking forward to it. Now the passion has cooled. A few times there has been a slight aversion, just a "Oh, well, time to sit, better get it over with, although I actually don't feel like it". Most of the time, though, the attitude is just neutral: "Okay, so now I sit, I do that every day, just like I shower, shit and eat."
Tim Farrington, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Off-cushion remark: During my home retreat and the first week after, I was very eager to sit, passionate about it, looking forward to it. Now the passion has cooled. A few times there has been a slight aversion, just a "Oh, well, time to sit, better get it over with, although I actually don't feel like it". Most of the time, though, the attitude is just neutral: "Okay, so now I sit, I do that every day, just like I shower, shit and eat."
Love this, Niels. This is the best practice. No why, just doing it. It is really the only kind of practice that will carry you through the darkest nights, where the whys burn off or explode or turn to dust. Dry, dry, not a drop of water in it. Like Nike shoes, we just do it.

"Just like I shower, shit, and eat," indeed. For me, when the emptiness quotient is highest, the order is shit, practice, maybe eat, maybe shower. If you're still showering and eating, you're in great shape, basically.

love, tim
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Niels Lyngsø, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Considerations + new daily practice schedule + two questions

Since my home retreat I have done 3 x 60 minutes of sitting. I wanted to maintain the momentum and was especially focused on still having quick and easy access to absorption every time I sit. I have that now, and as mentioned above, my passion for sitting (and for absorptions) has cooled quite a lot, and so it’s time to follow shargrol’s advice (in his response to my retreat report, see my old practice log) and incorporate walking meditation into my daily practice, alternating with sitting 50/50. I have some resistance to walking meditation (”it doesn’t ’count’ as meditation”, ”it is not efficient”, ”I’m not capable of doing it properly” etc.), so there’s definitely something to explore there. emoticon I will still do three hours of daily practice, but the schedule now looks like this:

     - Morning sit 45”
     - Morning walk 45”
     - Afternoon walk 45”
     - Evening sit 45”+ (meaning that I can extend the sit if I feel like it)

The new schedule will start from Monday the 5th of October (unless someone convinces me otherwise). I have two questions, though:

1) Should I continue with the ”Just Sit” set-up for the sittings, or should I now spend the sits working intentionally on absorptions, for instance by using breath as an ancor (in that way, the sits would be to the samatha-side and the walks to the vipassana-side)?

2) Being a man of words I enjoy logging my meditations, and I think it has benefited my practice and made me a more keen observer: Since I knew I was going to write, even publically, about a sit, I think I paid better attention. But now I often have practice thoughts during sittings, they are in English (I usually think in Danish) and sort of pre-logging thoughts. So maybe logging, in this phase of my practice, is actually a hindrance? (This consideration is inspired by a comment by shargrol in another thread about Stream Entry not liking publicity). Should I stop logging altogether for a while? emoticon Or – and this is the solution I’m opting for at the moment – only log the walking meditations, where I will probably need some advice, since I’m not very familiar with that practice?
shargrol, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 1614 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
My hunch is just adding one walk a day is enough. Maybe one trick for doubt is to use it as an opportunity to inquire "how is this not meditation. How is walking not IT?" 

(Ultimately, It is much more essential to walk when doing multiple days of 12-16 hours a day practice on retreat. It is less important when there is limited time. Just remember you can do walking practice during the day when you are walking! emoticon )

Less logging probably makes sense. I never kept a day-by-day log for the reasons you mention. At times when I had more difficulties, I posted more to get more feedback.

Ultimately, you need to decide all of these things for yourself. Hope this input helps in your considerations!
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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3rd of October 2020

First sitting (set-up: Just Sit): Absorption established within 3-4 minutes, first a calm version af ”bottom of the ocean”, gentle waves, not that much pressure in the surface of the body, then, some 35-40 minutes in, it slowly evolved into ”floating in space”. There was tension in the chest from the beginning, a little aversion to it, but not much. The tensions began dissolving when I arrived at ”floating in space” and was gone after some 10 minutes in that state, so that the last 10 minutes of the sit were physically (and mentally) the most comfortable: Body soft, still, self held, painfree. There were thoughts maybe half of the time on average, but most in the beginning, then gradually fewer. No aversion to them, no interest in them either, mind didn’t care to try to meditate on the mind stream, but thanks to Olivier’s remark above I several times just noticed (and actually noted a few times): change, change, change – in every sensation, and in the movement of focused attention, going here and there, and in the feeling of the broader awareness, contracting when there were thoughts, expanding when chatter was absent, getting spacious and diffuse when energy dropped a bit and focused attention’s share of the general bandwith dropped. Nothing special happened, everything was just fine.

Second sitting (set-up: Just Sit): Absorption established within a few minutes, a fairly calm version of ”bottom of the ocean”. Even though pulse and breath was very calm when I sat down (I had been reclining for ten minutes after workout), breath rate went up about a minute in, and there was some physical agitation for maybe ten minutes. Didn’t seem to relate to any thoughts or emotions. Then body became more calm, absorption more steady, and the last twenty minutes or so there was some subtle and not so subtle dullness. No aversion to it, and continuity in mindfulness. Thoughts were there some 75 percent of the time, a least half of them practice related, often the mind spontaneously labeled these ”striving”. A bit aversion to the thoughts, not much, in general just content, just fine, just fine.

Third sitting (set-up: Just Sit): A typical late night sitting, logged next morning, I don’t remember much from it except that it was peacefull and deep, quite a lot of pressure in the surface of the body, stillness, very few thoughts, content.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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3rd of October 2020

First sitting (set-up: Just Sit): This one sucked. There was aversion all the way through. Absorption was established within a few minutes as usual, and in a sense it was there (a calm version of ”bottom of the ocean”), but very much in the background, mind didn’t pay attention to it, mind was busy feeling dissatisfied. The aversion took different objects: There was some – really rather mild – backpain; there were thoughts about practice and about how lousy this sit was; there was some sleepyness. All of these things have in many other sittings been met with acceptance and really not been an issue, but this time, mind just didn’t like what was happening, even though nothing close to challenging was happening. So there was also wonder about why it was like this, and self inquiery: ”Who is dissatisfied?”, and attempts, that is intentions, to accept it all. And there were glimpses of acceptance – and when they were there, absorption at once showed it self. Strange and unexpected with this much aversion. Still though, on a meta-level, met with okayness.

Second sitting (set-up: Just Sit): Another sucky sitting. Absorption came quickly as usual, again a calm version of ”bottom of the ocean”, but it was superficial, weak, in the background. In the foreground was physical discomfort: At first a weird pain inside the scull, left side, behind the eye, stretching down to an into a couple of teeth in the left side of the upper mouth. Never had pain there before. Then tensions and tightness in the chest, more familiar and less surprising, since I have had some feelings of sadness and loneliness coming up since first sitting. It was quite intense, persistent and unpleasant. It spread to the upper back and moved downwards a bit. There was definitely aversion to all this discomfort. But no aversion to the thoughts that were there maybe 75 percent of the time, practice thoughts, planning thoughts. All the way through, though, continuous mindfulness, no feeling of overwhelm, a sort of meta-okayness: This sucks! But that’s okay.

Not late night sit today.
Martin, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 296 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I'm sad to hear that you had some sucky sits. I only visit DhO briefly on weekends these days but I always look forward to reading your log. 

It's interesting that you note how absorption and suckiness can be there at the same time. This is something I have been noticing recently. Samadhi can be in the background, as well as the foreground, which I find kind of odd. Now I am practicing with keeping it going after the sit and bringing it more to the foreground at different times during the day. I took this from a suggestion from Shinzen Young. The effect on mindfulness and insight during the day is also interesting.

I am hoping, and sort of expecting, that the suckiness of these sits will be beneficial. My teacher reminds me that we need to see how suffering arises if we want to be able to stop it from happening.  
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Thank you for the comment. Yeah, I'm sure the suckiness is beneficial. It shows me dukkha, and that's what I need to see. emoticon
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Pausing the log

As hinted at above, I have begun seeing logging as a hindrance at this point in my practice. So I will continue practicing three hours a day (3 x 45” sitting, 1 x 45” walking), but only log if I run into difficulties and need feedback. This will be in effect for as long as logging is experienced as a hindrance.

Thank you for reading along so far, and thank you for all the feedback. I will still hang around in other threads and follow you guys, but it will probably be a while before I update here myself. emoticon
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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23rd of October 2020

After almost three weeks of no logging, I feel like checking in again here. emoticon

Nothing much has happened in my practice in the meantime, no major events, no weirdness, nothing that feels like new insights. My practice seems to be in a phase of just repeating itself. I do three sittings a day, 45 minutes each, and one walking meditation, also 45 minutes.

The walks are done in the afternoon. I walk back and forth some 20 meters, outside in the garden if weather permits. I only added walking meditation to my practice just before pausing from logging, so it is still new to me. The first couple of weeks, there was a lot of resistance, often I postponed it and had to force my self to do it. It didn’t feel like ”real” meditation, I was sure I was doing it wrong, and that it didn’t contribute anything to my practice. So I worked with this resistance, noticed it, called it out when it disguised itself as boredom, impatience, enhancing the walking speed (as if that would get me through this absurd activity more quickly), etc. Now, the resistance has weakened a little, but it is still there. I never loose mindfulness completely during the walks, even though there is much more thinking than in the sittings. The thoughts are mostly practice thoughts, and there is aversion to them. I just want to walk quietly, feel my feet and legs. Sometimes I willfully try to attach the attention to the sensations in the feet, maybe even note to make it stay there, and it is possible to make it stay there more consistently if I make this effort. But I’m not sure if it is the right thing to do, and so I have doubts and thoughts again, and attention detaches itself from the feet (although the sensations of walking never disappear entirely from awareness). So there’s a lot of struggling here, and I try to observe it.

The sits: I do the first in the early morning (after shower, before coffee), the second at noon (after either yoga or workout) and the third in the late evening (just before bedtime). The technique is as simple as can be: I sit down, close my eyes and do absolutely nothing. If I discover that I – i.e. ”I” – am doing something (following a train of thought, zooming in on an interesting sensation), I stop doing that (and if I can’t stop, well, then it isn’t me doing it). At each and every sitting, an absorption establishes itself within a couple of minutes: What I call ”bottom of the ocean”, often going to ”floating in space” towards the end of the sitting. In parallel with the absorption, there is (pre)verbal thought activity to various degrees, but in general more now than a couple of months ago, where it took me longer to get to absorption, but where the absorption, once established, was more quiet. Morning sits usually have a little physical discomfort, the back is a bit stiff, mind still not quite awake. Noon sits usually have some physical agitation in the beginning if it is post-workout, some physical calm in the beginning if it is post-yoga, but ends in a stable medium energy. Evening sits tend to be physically the most comfortable and mentally the most quiet – these are the sits that I enjoy the most, and they are experienced as ”the best” of the day, not just because they are the nicest, but also because it feels as if that if I am making any progress at all these days (and I doubt that), then it is happening in the evening sits: Here, and only here, the sense of ”I” often fades away during the sit, and the state of consciousness is clearly altered. The absorption don’t seem to be as deep as it sometimes was some months ago, maybe because I only sit 45 minutes, not 60 as I did then. Neither the vibratory phenomena, including the rotor blade like vibration, nor the experience of bright light in the visual field, have been around at all for almost two months now.

All in all, there is a feeling of stagnation or even sliding back – from high EQ to low EQ. But if I’m stuck in this nana, it is certainly not the worst place to be stuck: My level of equanimity (and mental well-being in general) is, on cushion and off cushion, higher and more stable now than at any point before in my life. There is just this one thing nagging me: Why is nothing new happening? Why don’t I get to Stream Entry? Or why don’t I at least get some new insights? What am I missing? What is it that I cannot see? It is this doubt that gives rise to 90 percent of the thought activity taking place during both walking and sitting. And there is aversion to the practice thoughts, I know they are futile, but I can’t help myself. I often try to meditate on the mind stream, but haven’t really been able to do it more than a few seconds at a time.

Consideration and questions. Sometimes the doubts also lead me to consider if I should somehow adjust my practice. I can spend three hours a day on practice, and my life situation is very flexible as to how I make use of these three hours. Have I found the optimal schedule as it is now? Should I do more walking? Should I skip the noon sitting and instead do a 90 minute evening sit? Or should I just continue with this set-up, doing what shargrol calls – and I resonate with that idea – consistent and non-heroic practice? – And one last thing: Of the seven factors of awakening, the one that I have the least of is definitely Joy. There isn't much joy, not to mention rapture, in my meditation or in my daily life. Should I do some metta? Should I try to work with "pleasure jhanas" a la Brasington? Or would that be "gaming" the practice?
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Brandon Dayton, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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I love reading your logs Niels. I am in this phase where I am bobbing up and down between DN and EQ, and when I get up to that EQ place your log really resonates with me and gives me encouragement that I am on the right track.

Dude you are in Equanimity -- the world's best waiting room. Maybe it'll take 10 years. Just enjoy that motherfucker! Everything you are doing sounds right on the money. You're on the beach in the sun. Soak up some rays.

Others with more experience might differ on their advice, but that's my plan for when I get to where you are.
shargrol, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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What helped me during this time (doubts, second-guess practice, trying to game stream entry) was to notice the feeling tone of the moments of those thoughts --- so much suffering, so much worry, so much doubt, so much dukka. Poor me having all of those feelings which didn't change a damn thing. emoticon emoticon   

See those thoughts as thoughts and don't swallow the bait and get hooked.
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Niels Lyngsø:
And one last thing: Of the seven factors of awakening, the one that I have the least of is definitely Joy. There isn't much joy, not to mention rapture, in my meditation or in my daily life. Should I do some metta? Should I try to work with "pleasure jhanas" a la Brasington? Or would that be "gaming" the practice?

I found pleasure practice to be very beneficial. I started with Leigh Brasington's book, focusing on very simple physical feelings of pleasure. At first it was hard even to find any pleasurable feeling in the body, because I was just not used to feeling my body in that way. Beyond the beneficial effect of the pleasure itself, the most important thing I learned is the importance of letting go. With pleasure practice you get a very direct feedback on how much you are clinging and how much you are letting go, because it has an immediate impact on the amount of pleasure you are experiencing. Learning that trick helped me to see how I was clinging to other things like practice, progress, identity etc, all of which work better with more letting go. Can't say I'm all the way there yet (still more joy on the cushion than off), but for me it was the tipping point between practice being something I should do and practice being something I really enjoy doing. And I was/am one aversive MOFO, so it's definitely possible. emoticon
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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On second thoughts Niels, I'm not sure this is such good advice. It might cause you to get sidetracked. Joy and bliss can arise through noting practice and should just be noted! Focusing on them as a goal of practice is probably counterproductive. You seem to have a strong noting practice and should probably just continue with that, deferring to the advice of shargrol and others who know what they are taking about. emoticon 
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Pepe, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Niels Lyngsø:
I sit down, close my eyes and do absolutely nothing. If I discover that I – i.e. ”I” – am doing something (following a train of thought, zooming in on an interesting sensation), I stop doing that (and if I can’t stop, well, then it isn’t me doing it). 

... There is just this one thing nagging me: Why is nothing new happening? Why don’t I get to Stream Entry? Or why don’t I at least get some new insights? What am I missing? What is it that I cannot see? 

... Of the seven factors of awakening, the one that I have the least of is definitely Joy. There isn't much joy, not to mention rapture, in my meditation or in my daily life. Should I do some metta? Should I try to work with "pleasure jhanas" a la Brasington? Or would that be "gaming" the practice?
I'm intrigued by the way you stop doing anything:

(1) do you actively stop it? 
(2) do you let it die? 
(3) do you dive into the experience?

And what happens to the mind as soon as you stop doing that? Where is it redirected?

I'll tell you what happens to me in these three cases. Forgive me if this is old-hat for you!

(1) Generally when I actively stop an activity, there is a taste of aversion hanging around. So I keep watching my relationship / reaction to that dislike. Sometimes there is a rejection of the dislike, other times there is a clinging to the dislike. Rejection or clinging can be due to different causes. But in the context of meditation, it is generally a reaction to "I, the mighty yogi": how could I ever stop doing nothing? So I could be rejecting my lameness (recently Daniel Ingram made me laugh, he said something like "accept your lameness". I was reading that while hearing my album, complaining about how bad it sounds emoticon ). Or I could be clinging to the shame of being lame, or not doing what needs to be done to step into Stream Entry, etc... So there I found little insights just by watching the vedana of stopping the action.

(2) When I let it die, sometimes it thins out and I watch how my mind clings to that thining. While other times it dies fast and so the mind clings to the vaccum, and there's a tiny vibration around the head space. This vibration is usually felt either as a neutral or pleasant sensation. What I have found is that I was missing the opportunity of understanding physically what a neutral sensation is. While trying to get back from the distraction, I was ignoring neutral or pleasant sensations. Doing this repeatedly made my more easily spot them, and soon jhana or absortion happened. There are weeks when I cling to neutral sensations, other weeks clinging to pleasant ones, other weeks to unpleasant ones. It comes and goes. I cannot control that. No need to pursue any of them, all of them can give me insights.

(3) When I dive into the experience, that are the most interesting experiences, but very odd to describe. There are aversive and attractive sensations, pushs and pulls towards them, there's a floating of these sensations around the body space (increasing/decreasing intensity), and on a few occassions, I'm wobbling with the sensations  altogether. Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta show up in strange ways. Anicca without  the  excitement tipical of A&P. Dukkha without the fear or startling reactions tipical of DN. Anatta as that wobbling mentioned before.

-

Here's a check list, some advice that Shargrol gave us in our practice logs. So please add what I may be overlooking, and so we'll have an EQ Cheat Sheet:

(1) No preference to what is experienced
(2) no manipulation of experience
(3) a kind of intimacy with experience
(4) a very gentle attention to when there is expectation and interpretation
(5) noticing willfullness
(6) investigate the knowingness
 


   
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Hey Pepe,

I read through your excellent summary a couple of times and tried to distil some bullet points to add to our list of things to be on the look-out for at the present stage.

First of all we might edit (4) since it is not only expectation and interpretation we have to perceive clearly, but anything that seems to be located in the relational space between (the observing) ”this” side and (the observed) ”that” side, thus maintaining the illusion of duality, for instance: effort, resistance, acceptance, doubt, mapping, comparing, knowing, excitement about succes ... Daniel calls these ”core processes” and emphasizes that they are not to be ruthlessly dissected, but only gently noticed, so as to not disturb them doing their thing. I think it boils down to this: Every time a ”this” seems to be watching a ”that”, gently notice the tension, the slight dukkha. (5) and (6) might be subsumed under (4), but I still find them important enough to have individual bullets. So here is the updated list:
 
(1) No preference to what is experienced
(2) No manipulation of experience
(3) A kind of intimacy with experience
(4) Gently notice the tension every time a ”this” seems to be watching a ”that” (eg. expectation, interpretation, effort, resistance, acceptance, doubt, mapping, comparing, knowing, excitement about success …).
(5) Notice willfullness
(6) Investigate the knowingness
(7) Notice the dukkha of any future-oriented thought
(8) Dwell in absorption if absorption arises, but at the same time do a gentle investigation of its qualities: peace, ease, panoramic perspective
(9) High EQ is inconspicuous, very ordinary-feeling, even boring. No need to chase or crave any ”special effects”
(10) A good general attitude would be the natural curiousity of a fascinated child
 
Let’s keep editing and updating the list! If Martin or others want to chiming in, feel free!
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Pepe, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Great idea! Good to know you liked the summary, it's about 1/3 of the original text, wouldn't want to trim his words more than I did.  I'm still processing Daniel pointers and matching them with Shargrol's ones (and my own experiences). I would say for instance that:

(3) A kind of intimacy with experience = subject-object synchronization. An example of that would be when you start to feel waves in your chest and then that spreads to the whole body and so you become the wave. Maybe it's an extreme example of intimacy, and as Daniel says, it shouldn't be dramatic but ordinary. Perhaps you have found an easier example?

One thing I found about intimacy is related to the things I disregard (that I involuntary ignore). When I 'only' include the 6 senses (the 5 physical senses + the stream of inconscious thoughts) that intimacy means to be pulled / and or somewhat tensed by the senses. Like A&P but without the thrill or speed, or like DN without the fear factor. But when I add awareness/knowingness/willfulness to the mix, then it kind of lose the push/pull (more like earlier EQ) and sometimes it feels like I'm at 'this' side and there's a ball of undefined tensions at 'that' side. More like the 'tri-ality' that Daniel speaks of. No formations yet. 

About (5), "willfulness" means "deliberate, premeditated" or "headstrong"? Is it a variant of (2) manipulation or more like another quality of (4)? 

(6) knowingness = effortless direct comprehension

Perhaps include (7) in (1)?  Already prefering things plus waiting something to happen

Regarding (8), it happens that when a new sensation/phenomena ocurrs, the mind jumps quickly into it and that triggers an absortion. But there are also times when peace happens (that's beyond silence) while yet there are other phenomena popping up at their own pace. If I put preference in the peace quality, then that drives me towards an absortion. If not, it's just another quality of a bundle of qualities (kind of a proto-formation). 

Well, what are your discoveries around them?
shargrol, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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really, a lot of this can be boiled down to naturally preferring already-self-arising knowing over tension-creating-future-oriented willfulness.

resting in knowing,
releasing willfulness:
THIS is intimacy.
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Dhamma_no_drama, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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shargrol:
really, a lot of this can be boiled down to naturally preferring already-self-arising knowing over tension-creating-future-oriented willfulness.

resting in knowing,
releasing willfulness:
THIS is intimacy.

Thank you for this!!
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Thanks for all the feedback! It is nice to hear from you, all of you. Living by myself, working from home and now even with the pandemic, I don't have that much human contact, so DhO has actually become an important part of my social life emoticon

Brandon: Thanks for the kind words, and for reminding me about something that had slid to the background after some 6-7 months in the vast and inscrutable EQ-nana – gratitude. After reading your response, gratitude showed up in my next sitting, and it lead to some rare inklings of joy. I gotta remember that: I'm in a good place now. Been through tough terrain, should enjoy and appreciate where I am at.

shargrol: Thanks, once again, for wise and to the point advice.

agnostic: Thanks for the response and the counter-response. I kind of agree with both of them emoticon– in that I often get tempted to try to do some pleasure practice, and maybe one day I will give in, but on the other hand, a part of me that I think is more mature resonates very much with the idea of simple and consistent practice, not trying to "figure it out", not constantly changing the practice, but just sitting, sitting, sitting, patiently. And observe. And trust that the mind will figure it(self) out when it is ready.

Pepe: Your remarks are very helpful. Not at all old hat to me, new and excellent hat! Strangely enough, I hadn't really paid attention to what happens when I discover that I am doing something, and I couldn't tell if I actively stop (which would be yet another doing) or just let it fade out by itself. Neither had I paid attention to where attention goes afterwards when I have caught myself doing something. I have started working with that now, just one sit so far, and I can definitely feel the aversion (for me in the form of a slight irritation), just after "busting" the I. And I noticed that attention often jumped back to the breath at the nose, which I think is a form of default object for me, since I started out in the Goenka tradition. But I am going to explore this more. It happens really fast, so I need to be sharp. And it is an excellent idea, since you and I seem to be in about the same terrain, to compare – and compile! – notes and advice. I made a handwritten note of the six points you summed up and keep it next to my cushion. And I will add new points when I think of them. Nice to work together in such a specific way. emoticon
agnostic, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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I think you have the right attitude to practice.

I realize what I was trying to say is that once the juices are flowing then the pleasure is greater the more you let go of it. At that point I found it counter-productive to focus on it too much. But in order to get the pleasure started I had to cultivate it intentionally due to my aversive conditioning. Maybe it would have arisen anyway in due course as a function of vipassana jhana. Maybe pushing it aroused kundalini more strongly than it would otherwise. Hard to say. But one thing I do know is that I was quite averse to allowing myself to really feeling pleasure in my body (not the shallow pleasures I was addicted to before). Obviously you can go to the other extreme, but there's little danger of that for those of us starting with an aversive slightly puritanical mindset. Another interesting thing that happened once I realized there was this incredible pleasure purely generated by the mind, it changed my relationship with pain and discomfort as well ...

Regarding questions about choice of practice, I would note those as "wondering", "questioning" or "doubting" and return to the breath. If they persisted I would ask myself "who is choosing the practice anyway?" and observe how they are just conditioned thoughts arising and passing like any other. Most practices seem to have the same goal of quieting and steadying the mind anyway, so the choice doesn't matter so long as you have confidence. MCTB, Mahasi and Maha Bua gave me a lot of confidence that consistent practice would lead to results. 
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Pepe, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Niels Lyngsø:
It happens really fast, so I need to be sharp.
...
And it is an excellent idea, since you and I seem to be in about the same terrain, to compare – and compile! – notes and advice. I made a handwritten note of the six points you summed up and keep it next to my cushion. And I will add new points when I think of them. Nice to work together in such a specific way. emoticon
Though it does happen fast, there are ripples of the aversion. So wait for them! If you try to be sharp, then note 'willfulness' and 'expectation' emoticon In about 10-30 seconds the aversion reemerges with the same modality or something  alike. In my case, it's more of a foggy vibration. In between the first aversion sensation and the ripple, other stuff will pop up (eg. clinging to nothingness and all the things that follow about it; or attention going wide; some subtle chasing of another aversive sensation somewhere else, or trying to compensate with an attractive sensation). So things gets messy, like playing 2-3 games at the same time (in the worst case scenario). Just by repeating the exposure to this, we'll learn to relax into this messy experience. 

Funny that you made me think about this. Never wrote it in my practice log. That's the good thing of working together! I'll try to think examples of that  six points, so that we do a ping-pong of ideas.
Martin, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Pepe:
Though it does happen fast, there are ripples of the aversion. So wait for them! If you try to be sharp, then note 'willfulness' and 'expectation' emoticon In about 10-30 seconds the aversion reemerges with the same modality or something  alike. In my case, it's more of a foggy vibration. In between the first aversion sensation and the ripple, other stuff will pop up (eg. clinging to nothingness and all the things that follow about it; or attention going wide; some subtle chasing of another aversive sensation somewhere else, or trying to compensate with an attractive sensation). 

It's good to read your log again, Niels. 

Thanks for bringing this up Pepe. It's interesting to me because in my local sangha we happen to have been studying mindfulness of mind this month, and that has primed me to be looking for these things. I find that, if my mind has become still, when I am drawn by something and then notice and then release it, although the thing that drew me may disappear quasi-instantaneously, the homogeneity of the clarity and spaciousness of mind is not the same as it was before. It is almost like there is a depression or compactness in one area of space. This sort of subtle background difference has what I have thought of as a very slow and slight pulsing nature, but ripple is an apt descriptor. Later, perhaps as long as several minutes later, the previous clarity returns. Contrasting these two states of mind, I can say, "this is a mind with lust" and "this is a mind without lust" or anger, or delusion, or whatever. 

I get that I may be just overlaying this way of seeing it because we happen to be studying it at the moment but it seems useful to be able to recognize how the two states are different. And the interesting thing (which is directly tied to what Pepe asked about) is that I don't think this works so well with the actual thing (thought, sensation) that drew the attention because (duh) I am busy paying attention to it when it is there. But when it's "gone," in so much as it's not manifesting as an obvious attention-getting object, the mind is quiet enough to be able to look carefully and see how it is different from how it was when it was clear. 

As an unrelated note, Niels, I was surprised to read that you like your last sit best. My best sitting time is in the morning. I usually only have one sit a day, but when I have two or three, the morning is still the best. My mind is almost always racing in evening sits. And if I sit right before bed, I always wake up in the middle of the night with difficult dreams and/or kundalini type energy/hear flows. Ick! The content of your logs is often similar to my experiences, so it's kind of fun to see that, in some aspects, things can be the same, and in others very different. 
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Pepe, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Hi Martin, good to know that you're working on the same topic. Regarding clarity, it's possible to observe that there's clarity in the knowing: though I may feel unpleasant physical sensations, still the knowing of them is unimpeded and effortless. Eg. eartones may sometimes be unpleasant, yet it's effortless to hear them.  

Niels: Chris Marti moved your threads to the Practice Logs Section. Check your inbox, I sent you a PM
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Pepe: Thanks for the help with moving the threads. And for the PM. I sent you one back. emoticon
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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31st of October 2020

Update, mostly on walking meditation

I still do my 3 x 45 minutes of sitting and 1 x 45 minutes of walking per day. Still nothing dramatic happening, but some smaller variations do occur. In order to avoid ”pre logging mode” while meditating, I don’t take notes or keep track these days, so these are some assorted observations from the last 8-10 days or so:

Walking meditation is met with less resitance. I found this advice from shargrol in another thread, and it really resonated with me:

”When you walk, you are training yourself to be intimate with the flow of sensations, letting them come and go as quickly as they happen. If you try to 'hold' any of the sensations, then you can never keep up and you'll become overwhelmed. So walking meditation is a very simple exercise of learning to both pay attention, but also learning to drop the clinging to any given sensation, urge, emotion, or thought.”

Meditating on the constant flow, no matter what happens, no preference, no manipulation, no interpretation or expectation, no direction of attention … Walking meditation has begun to feel much more like meditation! emoticon It is no longer experienced as absurd or pointless, and there is less doubt as to whether I do it ”correctly”. It has occurred to me – duh! – that the instructions are basically the same as in sitting: Do nothing, be intimate with what ever happens, don’t push, don’t pull – float, ride, sail on the stream of consciousness.

So I have a better idea of what I should be doing – or rather: What should be happening – in walking meditation. But it doesn’t always happen like this, of course. Rarely, actually. I fall off of the surfboard constantly. Which makes me aware of what it is that is hindering me: There is often an aversion to any kind of mind object, especially practice thoughts. So right now, walking meditation is not about (the body sensations of) walking, it is about thought and mind objects in general (same is true about my sitting these days). Sounds, visual impressions, and body sensations are flowing by much more easily, but thoughts make things clunky because they constantly turn on themselves and create eddies in the stream, slow things down. For instance thought sometimes goes back two, three, four links in a chain of associations to reconstruct why a particular thought arose: That’s interpretation, one of the things to avoid, and so that is met with 1) aversion, 2) recognition of the aversion and why it arose, 3) accept. All of this – the chain of associations, the backtracking to reconstruct, the aversion-recognition-accept – takes place within a second or two, but it disrupts the flow.

Another observation is that the majority of thoughts arise from other thoughts in these associative chains, but from time to time a new chain is started off by an association from a sound, a visual impression or a body sensation. Now and then a thought seems to come out of the blue with no prior event explaining it, and inevitably interpretation takes off and go back to try to see where it came from, this time in vain. There is a craving for control and understanding in that. Duely met with 1) aversion, 2) recognition of the aversion and why it arose, 3) accept. Again, all this within a second or two, but disturbing.

There are times when things seem to flow a bit more unhindered. At those times I am mindful, but not too mindful about being mindful, not anxiously checking if I am mindful, mindfulness is just there. Often when that happens, the entire experience gets tinted with a slight dreamlike character – which lasts for a couple of seconds until I become too mindful of it and start clinging to it and reflecting on it. I have found in this reflection that what makes these short episodes dreamlike for me is that on the one hand I am not gone, not sucked into the experience, I am there, mindful, but on the other hand, there is no sense of control or wanting to control, there is no reflecting or questioning, no judgement. Things are just happening all by them selves and I am there, in it, not outside it, but not totally dissolved in it either. Just like in a dream.
shargrol, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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good stuff!
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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I am in a phase where it doesn’t seem helpful to keep track of each sitting or reflect too much about what is happening. I still do my regular practice, nothing much is happening, nothing dramatic, certainly. Some small and unstable changes, though, very hard to describe, and it feels like I shouldn’t try, like language is a hinderance at this point.

Instead I want to share a dream I had last night: I was driving a car, a common theme in my dreams, usually I am not behind the wheel and feeling anxious for that reason (control freak as I am), but this time, I was actually driving myself and alone in the car. I was about to enter a highway, and made a turn to get into the acceleration lane, but didn’t turn enough and bumped into the crash fence. The car just gently bounced off, nothing bad seemed to have happened, so I began accelerating down the lane. Then all of a sudden I realized that I was asleep, and that that was a serious problem since I would be entering the highway in a few seconds. But then it occurred to me that I couldn't be asleep since I was able to have that rational thought. Instead the problem was that I almost couldn’t see anything. Did I wear very dark shades, or was there something on the windscreen? I waved my right hand, almost in panic, since the car was going quite fast now, and I sensed (heard?) that there were other cars around me. And then suddenly I could see, I was driving in the hard shoulder, going under a bridge. I felt a great relief and woke up. From the dream, I mean. emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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And then suddenly I could see, I was driving in the hard shoulder, going under a bridge. I felt a great relief and woke up. From the dream, I mean. emoticon

yeah, stick to that story, amigo. Keep it between the white lines until the white lines turn into flamingos.
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Pepe, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Sent you a PM
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Sent you one back 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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18th of November 2020

A little update on my sitting practice (still doing 3 x 45 minutes sitting, 1 x 45 minutes walking a day).

I have changed the set-up slightly: Now, at the beginning of each sit – and then again two or three times during the sit – I focus on the anapana spot below the nostrils for a while. I focus quite strongly and willfully, really try to narrow attention down to this spot and exclude everything else. When things stabilize, and thoughts have more or less faded away, I release all effort on an outbreath, going into ”do nothing”-mode. Here it has helped to think of it the way shargrol suggested above (rest in knowing, release willfullness, this is intimacy). This way of working feels a bit like tensing a muscle (focusing in, narrow attention) and then relaxing it (broadening out, panoramic awareness). It makes the difference between effort and no effort more clear. And also, it seems to enhance the level of mindfulness in the do nothing-mode, sort of pumping the muscle to enhance "mindfulness circulation". Or to put it briefly: Now, in stead of doing nothing all the time, I do nothing almost all the time, and then once in a while do a little something. emoticon

What I experience in the sittings is really nothing much, nothing dramatic. The seeing, hearing and feeling (= body sensations) are all there all the time, sort of wobling a bit back and forth between background and foreground, but nothing really stands out. These three sense doors seem to have more or less merged into one macro object. Mind objects, on the other hand, stand out as foreground some of the time, or rather: they emerge as foreground, and when they are seen (image thoughts) or heard ((pre-)verbalized thoughts), they slide to the background and usually disappear right away. Other mind objects – such as urges, aversion, expectation, and interpretation – also emerge in the foreground, but they seem harder to "see" and locate and thus (?) harder to integrate into the background. They usually have a very short life (less than a second), so there is not much time to investigate them. I have a hunch that they are ”scared away”, that there is a slight fear reaction, since these objects are regarded as ”wrong”, and so they shouldn’t be there.

The sense of ”I” or ”me” is still mostly located in the middle of the head, but from time to time there arises a spontaneous self investigation, a body scan triangulation thing inside the scull in order to pin down this ”I”, which is of course never found, but somehow escapes and for a split second seems to be located outside the head, behind me or above me. Sensations of the back of the head and of the face collapse and seem to be at the same place. Perhaps 80 percent of the body sensations now are on and in the head (the chest, that for a long time had a lot of tensions, has been soft and discreet the last couple of weeks). The head is pulsating and wobling and tensing (feeling tone usually neutral).

Small weirdnesses: The last week or so I have had an experience, maybe 8-10 times, half of them off cushion, where it is as if my eyes and head are transparent, and as if someone or something is looking through my head and eyes from a place behind me. And in my latest evening sit, there was a strange dislocation of sound: Due to a slight congestion in my right nostril, there was a tiny sound on each outbreath, I could make it disappear by dilating the nostril, so I am quite sure that this is where this sound originated, but I heard it with my right ear only, and it sounded as if it came from maybe twenty centimeters away directly to the right of me and slightly above head heigth, as if it came from a tall yogi sitting next to me. This little breath sound stayed in exactly the same dislocated spot for maybe twenty minutes, until the congestion went away.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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9th of December 2020

Update

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d do a little update. I am still sitting diligently 30, 45 and 45+ minutes a day. The evening sits are always the most interesting, so those are the ones I will describe here:

I sit without a timer now, until the head nods, and then I go to bed. It’s usually around one hour, rarely less than 45 minutes, some times up to about 90-100 minutes. In those sits the mind gets very quiet. Absorption sets in within a minute or two, and I go from ”bottom of the ocean” to ”floating in space”. It takes anywhere from 5 to 40 minutes to reach cutting edge absorption, usually around 15 minutes.

There might be thoughts in the beginning, and if so, they are clearly seen. When I try to meditate on the thought stream (I prefer this expression to ”mind stream”, since mind seems broader than thought), the verbalized thoughts either stop, drop into tape-loops of the same few words, become very slow or in other ways sort of resist the examination. Earworms (which can be songs with lyrics or just a humming nonverbal melody) don’t mind being listened closely to, they just go on, and so I have a little music while I meditate. There’s no particular reaction to that.

When thoughts quiet down, body sensations dominate. Body is almost always quite comfortable. It is pleasant to sit. Which I tend to not be mindful about: Suddenly half an hour into a sit it dawns on me: This is actually really nice! Often the usual sort of standard-anatomic experience of the body disappears, and all I feel is light tensions, wobblings, bubblings, pricklings, heaviness, lightness, usually neutral to slightly pleasant in feeling tones. Sometimes the body sensations can be a bit difficult to locate, as if the dimensionality of space is altered: Sensations of what I know is the back of my head are felt in the same place as sensations of what I know is my nose or lips, for instance.

Sound is the second most dominanting thing when thoughts have quieted down: high pitched notes, usually two or three at the same time. When the absorption is weak the source of each note seem to be stably located, some ten centimeters outside the ear. When the absorption is strong, the notes get higher in volume and more difficult to locate, they seem to be everywhere. External sounds are still clearly located.

And finally visuals, the third most dominating feature of this quiet mind these weeks: nothing much happening, the occassional photo realistic glimpse of a face or a facial part, just a fraction of a second, but most of the time, it is just some dim light quietly moving and perhaps some sparks. Maybe one out of five times, the light becomes brighter when the absorption has become deep, provided that I am not sleepy.

Towards the end of an evening sit, when I become tired, very very little is happening, the body is halfway gone, the notes stabilized in some pattern, the visual field usually almost dark.

It’s been like this for more than a month. Some days big external events cause a little emotional activity (mostly grief) in the beginning of the sit, but it subsides quickly (without me wanting it to subside or doing anything to control it). My mode of sitting is still the open awarenes slash do nothing kind of noticing everything, trying to get intimate with experience.

I assess that I am somewhere in mid or high Equanimity (vibratory phenomena are very rare now, they used to be more frequent, so I might have slided back from high to mid EQ?). Of course I am still aiming for Stream Entry, but the striving has subsided significantly, and so have the practice thougths. In a way I feel stuck, but it is quite a nice place to be stuck, so it is not a big problem. Off-cushion, though, I have begun to speculate if I could optimize my practice:

Should I 1) Begin noting again, maybe just some of the time (first two sittings of the day, for instance), to make sure I do not overlook anything (as mentioned I tend to overlook the pleasantness)?

Or 2) Should I up my samatha slash concentration game and do some good ol’ effortfull onepointed concentration and try to develop my jhana skills (which currently are non-existent: I have no idea which jhana I might be in, all I know is that I am absorbed). Again maybe just some of the time, first two sittings of the day, for instance, and then my usual Do nothing and get intimate-practice in the evening sits?

Or 3) Should I just stop speculating and continue what I am doing?
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Its way above my pay grade to address your questions but I just wanted to say that I haven't read any of your logs in 2-3 months now, and returning find the same esuisite prose-like writing. Contined wishes for a great practice.
shargrol, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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I would say continue... and when in doubt, see if there is any flavor or subtly of ill will present. If not, enjoy. If yes, include the ill will and enjoy. 

If you want to note again, definitely feel free to do so. EQ can handle it. But usually the interesting things to note is the subtle restlessness, intentions, leanings of the mind... this is very subtle, so it is sometimes hard to come up with narrative labels.
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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hey Niels, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your log here. Your language resonates with me, it seems very lucid, and it often relaxes something inside me, when I hear your fresh way of putting something. And your sustained engagement with Equanimity in all its range and depths is just plain fascinating, and heartening, and inspiring, and has been for quite a while now. You go, amigo. And thank you.

love, tim
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Thank you, shargrol, for keeping an eye on me. I am grateful for that.

And thank you, Sam & Tim, for the kind words and the encouragement. It really means something to me, since I am quite alone with this meditation business – apart from this virtual sangha. And btw, Tim, I actually often hang out in your bar(do), even though I have never uttered a word there. Think of me as the shy guy in the corner who enjoys company – from a slight distance. emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
emoticon
Yeah, Niels, I thought that might be you, sitting in the darker back corner of the Bar(do) at a single table with waves of the light that is perceived by the senses as darkness keeping you obscured, right near that hermit cave yogi from the Himalayas, the one with frost on his robe. We'll keep the drinks coming in your direction, on the house, and feel free to make requests from the house band.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 496 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Great to hear an update, maybe I'll have to make one too. Keep on truckin'. I'm mostly jealous of where you are right now. I've been stuck in the sleepy-town ñanas for the past few months and it's getting annoying.

The sound stuff is interesting. I get the same thing with the ear worms. The rest of the mind will be totally quiet, but I'll have Mu330's La playing in loops in my head. I like to imagine that it's my walk-on music for Stream Entry

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Niels Lyngsø, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
15th of December 2020

An odd thing happened in a sitting a couple of days ago. After the sitting I didn’t think much about it, but over the days, this little event kept popping up in my head again, so I decided to report it here:

I was at least half an hour into an evening sit, things were very quiet, I was in the sort of absorption I have named ”floating in space”, and everything was indeed very spacious and pleasant and uneventful. The usual highpitched notes were quite loud, and attention turned to one of them, a note that was perceived as being around ten centimeters to the left of the left ear. Then some very rapid, non-verbal self-inquiery arose, a wordless question like ”Where is the listener?” or ”From where is there listening?”, something like that. This silent question lasted only a fraction of a second, and in the next fraction of a second there was like a pull or a fall. It was difficult to tell in which direction, but ”I” (that is: the perceived center) fell for a fraction of a second, probably towards or into the highpitched note, which in the moment of the fall did not seem to have a specific location. In the next fraction of a second there was a pull in the opposite direction, a slight tightening up or tensing up, a sort of very subtle fear reaction: The subject pulled back from the object. Both pulls were purely mental, I did not budge a bit, and it was certainly not a head nod, I wasn’t sleepy at all, neither before nor after this very subtle pull-and-pull-back movement of the mind. I am also certain that it was not a cessation, since it didn’t meet any of the criteria for that. But I wonder if it might have been a near miss?
shargrol, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 1614 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
(I'll take a slightly zen like approach to this answer, but only because it's clear you're in a good place with your practice...)

Whack! Straight ahead!

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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 439 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Nice! Watch out for that keisaku slap! emoticon 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
19th of December 2020

Upcoming New Year home retreat

I’ve managed to scrape free six or seven days from end December to the beginning of January, so I will be celebrating the turn of the year with a short, but intensive retreat. Had it been for a longer period, I would have put in some walking and/or more physical exercise, but for a six or seven day period, I think this is reasonable, considering that my last home retreat in September went so well (see above).

As to technique, I am just going to continue what I have been doing for a long time now.

Since meditating late in the evening seems fruitful for me at the moment, I have turned the clock a bit, compared to the traditional retreat time table, where you get up very early.

New Year Retreat
09:00 – Up, feed animals, take shower
09:30 – Sitting
11:00 – Breakfast, reclining
12:00 – Sitting
13:30 – Yoga
14:00 – Sitting
15:30 – Lunch, reclining
16:30 – Sitting
18:00 – Yoga
18:30 – Sitting
20:00 – Break, reclining
20:15 – Sitting
21:45 – Break, reclining
22:00 – Sitting
23:30 – Yoga
00:00 – Sitting
01:30 – Break, reclining
01:45 – Sitting until head nods or until …
03:00 – Bedtime, at the latest

Comments or suggestions for revision of the plan are very welcome.
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Niels, the schedule looks great, but don't forget the wisdom of Shargrol (  http://hardcorezen.info/enlightenment-and-cat-poop/3949  ), and be sure to leave time for, uh, you know. I remember you once described what you do as eating, sitting, shitting, and sleeping. Let's just say that you need to allow for all four on your retreat. emoticon
shargrol, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 1614 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Wonderful!

I think my main suggestion would be to really enjoy the experience of being alive and on retreat.

Enjoy the "pleasures of seclusion". Enjoy the tactile sensations of a body in the world. Enjoy the comfort of the bed. Enjoy the chores. Enjoy bathing. Enjoy walking. Enjoy sitting. Enjoy watching the mind. Enjoy streching and loosening the aches. Enjoy fine tuning the posture. Enjoy being neither loose nor tight -- in mind and body. Enjoy the dips into jhana. Enjoy the hypnogogic visions and daydreams. Enjoy the oddities of a concentrated mind. Enjoy the oddities of a worried and second-guessing mind. Enjoy confusion and doubt. Enjoy >this<.

Connect and commune with the actual lived experience of a body-mind on retreat.

That's all there is to it. So simple, but ---- as you know ---- so hard to get to a point where enough has been let go and these simple words are even a possibility.
 
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Oatmilk, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 108 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
I've been thinking about this a lot and I wonder if intentional 'letting go' really makes the difference, wether or not one awakens. Sure, certain attachments are unskillful, ie. addiction but other than that, I don't see the point in it. I always tend to think about intentional letting go, unless it makes one really suffer, as an identity trap - "I am a meditator, I shouldn't have attachments." From my experience, the letting go happens as a result of awakening and can be used as a tool, instead of renouncing from something. 
I hope I enterpreted it the right wayemoticon 
shargrol, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 1614 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Oatmilk:
I've been thinking about this a lot and I wonder if intentional 'letting go' really makes the difference, wether or not one awakens. Sure, certain attachments are unskillful, ie. addiction but other than that, I don't see the point in it. I always tend to think about intentional letting go, unless it makes one really suffer, as an identity trap - "I am a meditator, I shouldn't have attachments." From my experience, the letting go happens as a result of awakening and can be used as a tool, instead of renouncing from something. 
I hope I enterpreted it the right wayemoticon 

Letting go is essential, but it is a particular kind of letting go which is combined with awareness.

Letting go means being aware of urges of greed, aversion, and indifference -- and allowing them to play out within awareness. It's a bit of a paradox, but if we try to fight/resist/get rid of greed, aversion, or indifference, it just creates more of it. Samsara just goes round and round, one desire fueling another desire, a craving feeding a craving, on and on. If we try to just simplistically let go of samsara without awareness, it's really nothing more than ignorance.

But if we allow it to play out within awareness, then we get a tiny sense of how stupid it is to want more of what we already have, resist what is already happening, and try to ignore something that is already present. The three poisons have to be exhausted and the only way to do it is by letting go... and letting go means "letting be within awareness".

So "letting go" needs to have a sensitive mind that can see greed, aversion, and indifference in real time. And letting go needs to have a stability that doesn't get triggered into yet another reaction.
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Pepe, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 439 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Qué bueno! I'll use your schedule next time I have an opportunity. Mucho Metta, all the best for you! 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
5th of January 2021

New Year Retreat Report

 
I had an excellent retreat, the best I’ve had so far! I have just finished typing a more than twenty page long report in Danish, based on my handwritten notes, but I will try to keep it just a bit shorter here. emoticon
 
The tl;dr take-away is: I had some of the deepest meditative experiences I have had so far on the path, including some quite weird stuff, and unlike a retreat a little more than a year ago, where I experienced an intense spiritual emergency (interpreted by the surroundings as ”psychosis”), I easily managed to stay sane and balanced this time. And not only that. So many good things happened. I feel that I made a lot of progress, both vipassana-wise and samatha-wise, and came out of the retreat full of joy and energy and faith. I did not have any cessation experience. During the retreat there were some striving thoughts about reaching Stream Entry, but here afterwards, I can honestly say that I have only 0,2 percent disappointment, and 99,8 percent contentment with the retreat and the results of it. And the contentment is getting stronger day by day. Yay!
 
And now the looong version:
 
The set-up and execution: My planning and the time schedule (se post above) turned out to be absolutely perfect. I will repeat this set-up next time I do a home retreat. I had made space for an additional sitting late at night, but it turned out I was too tired, so I went to bed around 01:45 every day, skipping the additional 9th sitting. So the retreat turned out to consist of the aesthetically pleasing 8 days of 8 sittings each, all in all 96 hours. I woke up around 06:00, but had made it a rule to stay in bed until the alarm went off at 09:00. When I woke up around six, I did reclining meditation, and after half an hour or so, I fell asleep again and got another two hours of deep sleep. I think this contributed to maintaining sanity. Also the three times 30 minutes of yoga during the day was really nice. I did it with closed eyes most of the time and could stay in light meditation while stretching and revitalizing the body. The sittings after yoga were exceptionally calm and almost painfree. Another note is that I managed to up my daily meditation to 4-5 hours the last two days before the retreat, and this ”runway” in to the retreat was also very satisfying (and highly recommendable): Already on day 1 I had the momentum I normally only have on day 2 or 3. As to technique, I basically just let the meditation do its thing and tried not to get in the way. I began each sitting by reciting two ”instructions” I had decided on beforehand: ”Trust & Surrender!” and ”Include & Enjoy!” (this last one inspired by shargrol’s advice when I announced my retreat, see post above). The idea of repeating these two instructions was that if doubt should arise, any question I might ask myself, could have only these two answers. I used the last one the most.
 
The results: Roughly speaking the sittings turned out to fall into three different categories with an approximately equal distribution. 1) The mainly samatha-oriented sittings; 2) The mainly vipassana-oriented sittings; 3) The sittings that were both-and or neither-or, typically because the absorption was weak due to restlessness. There was no clear pattern as to wich category turned up when.
         1) Samatha As my overall goal with meditation is progress along the path of insight, it had not occurred to me beforehand that this retreat would develop my samatha skills. But when the mind just got quiet and didn’t seem to want anything else but that, I followed along and did not force any vipassana. And that brought me to qualitatively new places in my practice. I am still not sure how to match my experiences with the traditional Four Jhana model, but I think I might have touched new categories of absorption. What stroke me the most was that I several times experienced quite intense joy. I have not been good at feeling joy, neither in my life, nor on the cushion. In fact, genuine and strong joy has never been present in my meditation before, so it was quite a shift suddenly to feel this (for me at least) huge amount of sheer object-less joy, sometimes also accompanied by strong physical wellbeing or even pleasure. Before this retreat, my absorptions would always be more ”equanimity” or ”content” than ”joy” or ”rapture”. Especially ”rapture”, I have never been anywhere near, these electric sensations etc. that I have read about. This is why the jhana map confuses me, because it looks to me as if I am learning the jhanas in the wrong order? And only now, after more than three thousand hours of meditation, I am perhaps backing up into second and/or first jhana. I feel very uncertain about this diagnosis, though. But no matter how we categorize the absorptions, it was wonderful to experience this (or these) new type(s). Especially one sitting (see below) was quite intense.
         2) Vipassana It is difficult to summarize what insights I gained, most of them were sort below the threshold of language, but if I have to generalize, I would say that I got some insights into the construction of time and space and body. See the notes to the specific sittings below.
         3) Restlessness, aversion. The main result for these ”undecided” sittings was that I developed a better acceptance for them. There was not the calm of the samatha nor the investigation of the vipassana, so what to do? Like I said, I had only two answers allowed. So I got much better at just sitting with this type of leaky absorption, weak concentration, slight restlessness, boredom, pain etc. Perhaps this is the most important result of the retreat. I also feel it in my daily sittings here afterwards: There is very little aversion left. And the micro-aversions that still arise are instantly and clearly seen. Even during and after this morning sitting today (January 5th) with one whole hour of absorption never really coming on, and a ridiculously low level of mindfulness (I was off on a thought train for more than a minute, completely lost, just like the first time I sat down on a cushion!), I was just like … So what? Doesn’t matter, I can’t do anything about it anyway. I was just happy.
 

Excerpts from my notes. These are of course not representative, I have picked out some of those I found interesting.
         Day 1. From the end of this day and two or three times every day on the rest of the retreat, I had what you could call an experience of Augmented Reality: A sort of hallucination or image-thought seen with open eyes, either on or off cushion. They usually last from ten seconds to a minute. Today for instance, during one of the last sittings, I opened my eyes, and in the perifery of the visual field I saw the room I was sitting in, but in the center, taking up perhaps sixty percent of the field, I saw a starry sky. Otherwise it is often an animated and unreadable handwriting (not my own), dancing on the wall or the floor in front of me.
         Day 2. When I am in a very quiet samatha absorption, and there have been no verbalized thoughts for tens of minutes, it can happen that a loud and fully and clearly articulated voice suddenly arises with what I perceive as a meditation instruction. It is a very insisting voice, reminds me a bit of David Lynch, especially the character he played in Twin Peaks. Today for instance: ”See as far as you can!” or ”There is nothing for you to see, you are the one who must be seen! And for that reason you have to sit very still!”
         Day 3. The visuals are truly amazing, otherworldly. Mostly 2D, sometimes 3D, constantly morphing patterns, organic, crystalline. And then these glimpses of faces or fragments of faces, photorealistically real 3D, but only there for a fraction of a second. Human, half-human, animal and mythological faces. Faces in fear, anger, misery, pain. Very rarely happy faces. I don’t have any emotional reaction, no matter how scary and horror like and shock effect-like it gets. I am immune to this by now.
         Day 4. 1. sitting: Bottom of the ocean absorption, but with a new lightness, mildness, a completely painfree body and a deep deep calm. 2. sitting: More joy. 3. sitting: Even more joy, never had joy like this before. 4. sitting: Visuals just beyond otherworldly in their beauty. A colour I have not seen with open eyes: a mysterious orange-red glow everywhere in the dark, as if I sat inside a piece of glowing charcoal, a dark and compelling light, a light without a source, but everywhere. No verbalized thought. Feelings of quiet awe, gratitude, joy. 5. and 6. sittings: More of the same. Halfway into the 7. sitting, suddenly in the middle of the vast silence some clearly verbalized thoughts: ”Wau, I am really good at visuals!” Then David Lynch: ”Remember anatta! You are not the one being good at anything here!” ”Okay, but I wonder how much I control them, once they arise by them selves …” And then, as to settle this little senseless dispute, the visuals just surpassed them selves and in a splitsecond created the most beautiful icepattern, an immense frost work, clear in every detail, and not two ”ice flowers” in this wickerwork were alike. It looked like something from Ernst Haeckel’s ”Kunstformen der Natur” (googl it, it’s awesome!). And then like a curtain, the icepattern opened to a sparkling starry sky, and I literally got tears in my eyes because of all this beauty, and I felt humble(d). And a bit stupid. How incredibly arrogant to think that I create this. Also at some point, there was a space ship, CGI-level 3D realistic, and this time, my eyes were open. The reason I go into such detail with these visuals is not the content of them, which is idiosyncratic and not important. What strikes me is that these visuals are very similar to the ones I had on the retreat a year ago, where things went so terribly wrong. I understand now what went wrong: I was impressed – by myself and my concentration abilities, I was arrogant, felt important, special, felt that everything I saw was of the utmost importance. I kept obsessing about it in every break, every minute of the retreat. I had attachment to what I saw, greed to see more, understand more, become enlightened (or beamed up). And now, the visuals are about the same, but my reaction to them is very different. I can see immense beauty and seductive sci-fi weirdness with open eyes and be relatively calm and grounded about it. Even feel humble. And just get up from the cushion when the bell rings and prepare lunch like another day at the office. A year ago it was A&P turning to DN. Now I got to re-experience the difficult retreat from my EQ-stage.
         Day 5. 1. sitting: A very soft and wobly bottom of the ocean absorption, immense tactile clarity, everything in the torso could be ”seen” in minute detail, especially the spine. Visuals almost gone, high pitched notes almost gone, almost only tactile sensations. And a feeling of peacefullness of a magnitude I have not experienced before. When the bell rang: Gratitude, joy. 5. sitting: For several minutes, a stable experience of lying down in a completely horizontal position, looking up (on a starry sky). I knew I was sitting vertically, I could ”reality test” the pressure of my buttocks to the cushion, but none the less, the experience was that I was lying down flat on my back, looking up in to the sky. 6. sitting: Vipassana on sound. Half an hour in or so, attention got interested in an external sound: the howling of the wind and something more rythmical, thumping. It sounded as if I heard a far away open air concert with some hiphop band. I even recognized the (Danish) rapper, the tone of his voice, the characteristics of his flow (words could not be distinguished). It was a great tune, groovy. I heard a simple baseline, a jazzy beat. I knew that this was an illusion in my head, based on the real sounds out there. But then it appeared to me that it was not only the ”real sounds” (wind and thumping) that were ”out there”. My construction was also ”out there”. I heard the music out there. The case was not that first there were these real sounds, and then they entered my head and got a hiphop song fitted on to them, no, the fitting-on was taking place out there. Which further meant that the ”real” sounds also could be heard as ”constructed out there”. It is difficult to explain in words, these were preverbalized thoughts, an investigation of the experience of sound. I sat with it for a long time. After about twenty minutes, I suddenly realized that the groovy hiphop beat was not even rythmically stable, not really a beat. I found out because I began stomping the beat with my toes, and my toes were beating regularly at about 80 bpm, but the perceived hiphop song could not fit in into this regular rythm – only for a bar or two, then the tempo went off, up or down. There never was a beat. I had constructed that, and I had even misperceived the ”real” thumping: It was never regular. In a way, I had misperceived time itself: heard sounds at specific locations in ”objective” time, where there were no sounds, and overheard other sounds at other specific locations. My seemingly totally natural experience of time had just had its pants pulled down. I was very surprised by this. 7. sitting: Samatha extravaganza! Intense feelings of joy. Never tried anything like that on cushion. Or off-cushion, as far as I remember. Had a feeling that I managed to back up from second to first (or third to second?) jhana by following Brasington’s suggestions and taking the physical aspect of joy as object: The joy was almost entirely mental, but there was some pleasant cool tingling in the scull, I focused on it, and after a couple of minutes, it got enhanced. Not much, but unmistakenly. This is the first time I have had any sort of sense that I could move around in Jhana Land. Not quite sure where I moved from or to, but I moved! Intentionally!
         Day 6. 1. sitting: Another vipassana thing happening with regard to sound. As almost always when I am in absorption, there was a highpitched sound in my ear. This particular sound was slightly irregular, morse code-like, and seemed to be located a handbreadth to the left of my left ear. It hung there, in the air. But then I turned my head, very slowly. And strangely enough, it both moved and did not move. Several times I turned my head in order to face this seemingly external sound, to get it in front of my face. And while I was turning my head, it was as if it … well, it didn’t exactly happen, but it was as if it was about to get in front of my face. But when I then stopped the turning movement, now with my face above my left shoulder, the morse code tone was still hanging a handbreadth to the left of my left ear. ”Okay,” said a verbalized thought, ”it is not really ’out there’, but not ’in here’ either, it is a sort of attachment to my body, like an ear ring.” Then I slowly turned the head back to frontal position, and the sound seemed to follow along as the attachment it was, but somehow, at the same time, it seemed to stay still, not move. Then there were some thoughts about objective versus subjective space: In objective space the sound should have coordinates, a position, but it did not, since I could not turn my head and face it, no matter where I turned my head, it was attached to my head, outside it. So it had to be part of subjective space. But when I turned my head and felt the tactile sensations of the turning, the sound did not follow along like the tactile sensations of the left temple did, it stood still, as if it belonged to objective space anyway. How could this be possible? It was maddening, I repeated the experiment again and again. Only when I sat still, the subjective and the objective space could co-exist and be reconciled. When I turned my head, they got into an insolvable conflict. I almost concluded that there had to exist an extra spatial dimension, like the wonderful tale in ”Mr. Thomkins in Wonderland”, where the sphere visits Flat Land, where it is perceived as a suddenly arisen point, expanding to a circle, contracting to a point and then disappearing. And all the while I had these thoughts, the little satellite just hung there, patiently transmitting its endless stream of data from another dimension. 5. sitting: I had a very detailed memory from my ”psychosis”, a very painful situation at the hospital. I could really feel how terribly lonely I was at that point, and how lonely I have been almost all my life. And then I felt that I was not at all that lonely anymore. This moved me to tears. Quite unusual with an emotional reaction like that in the middle of strong absorption. 6. sitting. This next thing needs a little explanation: Some months ago, in my therapy, my therapist did what I would call a guided meditation with me (she would certainly not call it that, but perhaps regression therapy or something like that). She basically led me back to my childhood home, had me enter the door, talk to my parents and pick up the little boy that was me and bring him home to the house where I live now. Since then ”Little Niels” has begun joining me in my meditations. I don’t know why, I didn’t come up with the idea. He is what Culadasa would call a pre-image thought: I don’t actually see him, but he is sort of there, visually. Back to the retreat: Every time I felt restless or bored, I nonverbally sort of asked ”Little Niels” what he would most like to do right now. Focus on visuals, investigate sound, just relax? It was an attempt to contact my inner child, its natural curiousity and sense of wonder, its unquestioned selfcare. So in this particular sitting, I also asked (preverbally) ”Little Niels” what would be nice for him right now, since I was feeling a bit restless. And then, and this is highly unusual, I almost felt I saw him turn his head to me, and his anwer was not preverbal as it usually is, but fully verbalized and it came instantly: ”I think it is nice just to be with you.” This answer was completely unexpected and caused another emotional reaction: Once again I had to shed a tear, floating in the vast and starry silence of outer space. Highly unsusal for me.
         Day 7. 1. sitting: The most perfect bottom of the ocean absorption I have ever had: soft, light, wobly, calm, completely painfree, pure physical wellbeing – like the last snippet of postorgastic wellbeing, just without the tiredness and the feeling of being far away: I was just here, clear, present, calm, enjoying my self. Having a full body massage from the universe. When the bell rang, I felt strong gratitude. Thank you, Miss Universe! I seriously don’t think any form of IRL massage, tantric or whatever, could surpass this. So delightful with intense physical pleasure totally without the craving of sexual desire. And I have never before been anywhere near this in meditation. 2. sitting: Some restlessness, verbalized thought and a slight aversion to thought, an aversion it took me some time to discover. I pulled a bit back from the absorption, changed posture and – much to my surprise – yawned. I thought I had been restless, that is: too much energy. But now I realized that I was actually low on energy, that there had been drowsiness under the restlessness. Just like a fretful three year old child who can hardly keep her eyes open, but who non the less tries to play energetically and insists that she is NOT tired. There is some craving that stops this child from feeling the underlying tiredness. She wants something. Likewise with me in this sitting: I had wanted something (more Miss Universe, Stream Entry, whatever), and this restlessness had stopped me from feeling that I was actually low on energy. And so I gave in to my low energy, settled with it. And then, again unexpectedly, there was a little grief hidden under the drowsiness. What was that? I was a little sad. Sad about my perpetual striving. And then a verbalized thought, soothing: ”It is okay. You are allowed to relax.” And then I did that, I could do that. 5. sitting: Deep deep floating in space absorption, and a feeling that I could to a very modest extent stear the jhana, possibly go from 3rd to 4th (or 2nd to 3rd?) by gently focusing very narrowly on the anapana spot below the nostrils. Breath got very very quiet. Body was almost gone. And visually, there was once again a starry sky, so I was actually floating in outer space. 6. sitting. I kept the absorption going in the short break (15 minutes), and so it more or less just continued into this. After some minutes, I got the feeling that not only the head, but the entire body was transparent. There was no longer any field of vision, there was just vision. I did not see out through two holes in a head, I just saw. Tactile sensations of the body were very weak. 70-80 percent of the body could be located if I really put effort into it, the rest was completely gone. Unless I moved, then it reappeared. If I did not examine the body, the spontaneous experience was not that of having a body, but rather a set of not particularly localized sensations such as pressure, wobling, lightness, pulsation etc. When I very carefully tipped my head and looked down on my body (eyes closed), there were just more stars. It was as if a weather man stands in front of his blue screen and is wearing blue clothes him self: He is there, but not there. I was invisible. A ghost, a spirit. In outer space.
         Day 8. I had a very unusual dream, a very retreat-like dream: I dreamed that there was some problem with my smart phone, which was charging: The screen looked fucked, and when I touched it with my finger tip, it was very warm and ”electric”. I wanted to drag out the cable and had to hold on to the phone to do it. And the second the cable came out, I had a strong electrical shock going all the way up my arm, and I woke up with a huge gasp. I was hanging suspended in mid air, about half a meter above my bed, with the phone in my hand. I had a preverbal thought, sort of ”what now?” But then immediately a fully verbalized answer came: ”This is a dream. The problem will solve it self.” I looked towards the door and considered my options: Should I fly around the house? Then I woke up once more – this time to consensus reality. I laughed a little, shook my head and went back to sleep. Again, what is important is not the content of the dream, but my reaction to it. This is a perfectly normal retreat-dream, and I was about to call it A&P-like, but my reaction, even inside the lucid dream, was very equanimous. And unlike my first three or four retreats, I was not at all shocked, (self) impressed etc.
 
All in all, like I said, this was my best retreat ever, and I am very grateful and happy. Thank you for reading along in this perhaps too long report, I am a bit post-retreat manic emoticon. And thus perhaps not totally equanimous, I must admit. But full of joy and faith.
agnostic, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2027 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Wow Niels, that was a really powerful and inspiring retreat description, thank you 
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Pepe, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 439 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
What a wonderful retreat Niels! Amazing! 
Tim Farrington, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
As my overall goal with meditation is progress along the path of insight, it had not occurred to me beforehand that this retreat would develop my samatha skills. But when the mind just got quiet and didn’t seem to want anything else but that, I followed along and did not force any vipassana. And that brought me to qualitatively new places in my practice. I am still not sure how to match my experiences with the traditional Four Jhana model, but I think I might have touched new categories of absorption. What stroke me the most was that I several times experienced quite intense joy. I have not been good at feeling joy, neither in my life, nor on the cushion. In fact, genuine and strong joy has never been present in my meditation before, so it was quite a shift suddenly to feel this (for me at least) huge amount of sheer object-less joy, sometimes also accompanied by strong physical wellbeing or even pleasure. Before this retreat, my absorptions would always be more ”equanimity” or ”content” than ”joy” or ”rapture”. Especially ”rapture”, I have never been anywhere near, these electric sensations etc. that I have read about. This is why the jhana map confuses me, because it looks to me as if I am learning the jhanas in the wrong order? And only now, after more than three thousand hours of meditation, I am perhaps backing up into second and/or first jhana. I feel very uncertain about this diagnosis, though. But no matter how we categorize the absorptions, it was wonderful to experience this (or these) new type(s).

Wow. Wow. Wow. Beautiful. Thank you for the entire report, but I had to pick out this cherry of joy to celebrate. I know that for you to be using the word "joy", it must have been striking, lol. Truly inspiring, Niels, and blessings for the next three thousand hours.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
15th of January 2021.

It’s been almost two weeks since my home retreat ended, and so I thought it was time for a little update.
 
Things have changed, both in my practice, and in my life. The main difference is that both of these now have more joy in them, a new lightness.

In my off-cushion life, there is even less worry than before the retreat. Less striving. I very rarely think about meditation. Stream Entry hardly ever crosses my mind, I have more or less lost interest in it. My libido has gone up, a friend with benefits has entered my life, I play the piano more, am all in all more playful, cheerful. The first week or so, I had a post-retreat high, was really really happy and joyful, a bit manic and hence also a bit restless. But a pleasant form of restlessness. Now things have calmed a bit more down, though the joyful restlessness is still there from time to time.
 
In my practice, immediately after the retreat I went back to sitting minimum two hours a day in two or three sits, usually one of 45 minutes in the morning and one of 75 minutes in the evening. Especially the first week, the cheerful restlessness was also in my meditation. I got lost in thoughts for tens of seconds. I even had sexual fantasies and vague physical sensations of lust, something I have never experienced in meditation before. I was mostly just cheerfully surprised by the fact that thoughts and fantasies suddenly pulled me in much more easily than before the retreat. But after a week or so, I realized I was also just a little bit aversive to it. I craved – no, that’s too strong: I would rather prefer – the deep and calm sits that I had on my retreat. I had a feeling that my meditation after the retreat had become just very ordinary, beginner-like, sloppy, even. I wondered – and still wonder – if I should put in more effort? In stead of my Do nothing aka Open awareness, I could focus on the breath and go the samatha way, get deeper into absorption, or I could decide to do some form of noting or self-inquiery and go the vipassana way, develop more insight. But I really didn’t and don’t feel like it. And judge(d) myself just a little bit for being sloppy. Or you could say: There is doubt.
 
The last three or four days, the sittings have calmed down a bit, though. Fewer thoughts, almost no sexual fantasies, but still this feeling of, well, a form of set-back. In every sitting I enter a medium-strong absorption, and then there is all this mental activity, monkey mind, going on at the same time. Almost no practice thoughts, though, just random shit. And there is – apart from the amentioned micro-aversion – contentment and often joy. Body sensations are neutral or pleasant. Visual field has gone back to dim light slowly moving like before the retreat. Highpitched notes are there, although not as loud as during or before the retreat. All in all, the sense is that I don’t get as deep as I did before the retreat – but that it doesn’t really matter, and that there is nothing I can do about it.
 
As I sat down to write this, it stroke me that perhaps everything is just fine. Joy has entered the system, a rare, almost alien guest in this body-mind, and maybe the task now is to learn to be equanimous with that as well, just as a year ago I struggled to become more equanimous with negative feelings and thoughts. Maybe the task now is to deeply accept the seemingly superficial cheerfulness, the lightness, the nothing special-ness, the everything will be fine-ness, the no biggie-ness of meditation. And life.
Tim Farrington, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the update, Niels! It gives me such happiness, to know you are facing the terrible work of not letting joy fuck you up! If anybody has the chops to do it, you do. 

Interesting, too, to note other fruits merging, after your retreat. Offering your experience and perspective, the fruits of your own work, on Flo's practice log, for instance: lovely, lovely. The plain direct style you bring to your own log and practice translates very well to a larger relevance, and will be a blessing to others.

As I sat down to write this, it stroke me that perhaps everything is just fine. Joy has entered the system, a rare, almost alien guest in this body-mind, and maybe the task now is to learn to be equanimous with that as well, just as a year ago I struggled to become more equanimous with negative feelings and thoughts. Maybe the task now is to deeply accept the seemingly superficial cheerfulness, the lightness, the nothing special-ness, the everything will be fine-ness, the no biggie-ness of meditation. And life.
Amen. You go, my friend. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
February 11th 2021

Time for another update. I guess the reason I have been silent here for some weeks is that I haven’t felt much need for feedback. But now there are some things that it would be nice to hear you guys’ opinion on.

I am still meditating at the same pace, minimum two hours a day, divided into two or three sittings, the longest at night, just before bedtime. And I still feel the same elevated level of joy that has been here since my new year’s retreat. I am generally quite happy, both on  and off cushion.

After a couple of years with a very moderate level of sexual activity I have now, since the beginning of January, significantly increased this level. I mention this because I feel it somehow relates to my practice: The increase led to me being more sleepy, more exhausted, than I have been the last couple of years. And less focused in daily life. So I came to think of some tantric practices that I dabbled with some years back, before I began meditating.

This was five years ago, to be more exact. I knew and know next to nothing about this, I took an IRL course with a teacher, I think it was daoist tantra in some modern form. The basic idea was to practice semen retention while maintaining an active sex life, in order to preserve the (sexual or just generally vital) energy and ”recirculate” it. In due time, one would allegedly learn to separate ejaculation and orgasm and be able to have another more comprehensive so-called ”energy orgasm”. Apart from semen retention + sex, the practice consisted of some combined kegel and breath excercises and some yoga excercises. I did it for thirty days, never acquired the skill necessary for the ”energy orgasm”, but did experience a higher level of wellbeing and energy or vitality in my daily life.

So, now, with my new life conditions, I decided to revisit this old practice. So I am doing the excercises and also practice semen retention (currently on day 19) while having an active sex life. And there has been some changes in my meditation, that I think must be caused by my new tantric practices: There is in general a higher level of physiological wellbeing and even pleasure in the body during almost every sitting now. And apart from that, there are some shorter periods of time – half a minute to maybe 4-5 minutes – with more intens physical pleasure, especially in the back of the torso, some times spilling over to the front and up to the neck and face and head, and sometimes out through arms and thighs. It is a combination of warmth and a soda (or if you prefer: champagne) like fizzing which follows the breath, building up on the inbreath and releasing on the outbreath. These ”pleasure breaths” sometimes just arise on their own (this happens in the yoga and kegel excercises as well), but I have found out that I can to some extent generate them intentionally while meditating, mainly mentally, i.e. by taking pleasure and joy as my meditation object(s), but also physically by making a slight pause after the inbreath and withholding the first part of the outbreath ever so slightly. After some time (again maybe half a minute to 4-5 minutes), these ”pleasure breaths” slowly fade, they become harder to generate, and then I stop trying and just let them fade, and then the absorption is usually quieter, lighter and deeper.

Apart from this, my sittings are more or less as they have been since my new year retreat. It feels good to have added this ”energy practice”, and I think the effect on my meditation is good. My overall goal with meditation is still primarily to develop insight (next stop: Stream Entry), and I think of the ”pleasure breaths” as working on one of the seven factors of awakening, piti, the one that I estimate has been the weakest for me. The new practice (and reborn sexual life) also has lowered my preoccupation with Stream Entry and other attainments (is this maybe First Jhana that I am experiencing? Kundalini? Don’t know, don’t really care that much, it just feels nice). But now and the a little doubt sneaks in: Am I messing up my practice with this tantric stuff? Should I take it easy with the libido and go back to a more monk like life? Because, as mentioned: Insight is my main goal. And if this ”energy work” (or whatever it is) is messing with that, I am ready to drop it at the drop of a hat.

​​​​​​​So what do you guys think?
George S, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2027 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I don't know Niels, but I'll trade places with you emoticon 

No, but seriously, what is the source of dissatisfaction which makes you want more insight?
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
That is indeed a good question. Usable – in self-inquiry. Thank you!
Tim Farrington, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hey, Niels, great to get the update from you! 

OBVIOUSLY all this joy and energy and a good relationship and SEX is fucking up your practice!!!!! You are playful, curious, interested, adventurous, bold, enjoying intimacy, thriving, and still practicing well--- you must see that this is a slippery slope to hell. 

I have found in similar circumstances that if you wax the runners, you can make the sled go even faster. Watch out for trees and big rocks. Remember to yell "WHEEEEE!" Tell your girlfriend to hang on when you go over the jumps. Give her a turn steering the sled. 

​​​​​​​I just KNEW all that equanimity would ruin you!
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Thank you for that, Mr. Farrington! A warm and instructive response. I will try to stop worrying. Or try to investigate what it is in me that is worrying, now that things are really fine and literally better than at any earlier point in my life. What is this little part of me that cannot just relax and enjoy the ride down the frosty and sun glittering slope? Still striving, I guess. Still craving that silly merit badge (SE) in order to believe that I am actually okay ...

The last couple of days thoughts about SE have re-entered my mind after being practically absent for weeks. And there is this feeling of a setback, of not getting anywhere. During the summer and autumn and early winter, I had a feeling of progressing from low through mid to high EQ. Now I am not even that sure where I am on the map anymore. There is this subtle feeling of slight tension, even when in the deepest absorption, the sense of an annoying distance to each and every aspect of experience, an aversion against the unfindable, but still functional or functioning observer, who refuses to give himself up and surrender: I can't quite get into it. Or rather: I can't quite get out of the way.

But:

A) It is really a minor problem, compared to how difficult things were a year ago, when I was probably in Reobservation. That stunk.

And emoticon I have absolutely no idea what to do about it. Noting? Self-inquiry? Trying to deepen the absorption? All of that seems completely pointless. So I still just sit my two hours a day with my messy non-method of doing nothing.
Tim Farrington, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Niels, you're fucked, in the best way, existentially, and all the way. (We're all desperate people here, living in our burning houses. I still rejoice that you are happy in your burning house right now and have love in your life.) But remember that you work best at the bottom of the sea. and there are no maps there worth shit. I have a lot of trust in your messy non-method of doing nothing, and I've seen you do your work. No hurry, no fear. You've got this.
George S, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2027 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Different people have different ideas and experiences as to what constitutes SE. Maybe you already have it by one person's standard. Maybe you will never have it by another's. Whatever standard you apply, it may be worth asking yourself how much you think things would actually change if you got whatever it is right now. Maybe these subtle feelings of tension, distance, annoyance, aversion and the observer don't permanently vanish. Maybe they are just like all the other stuff in life which comes and goes. Maybe it's just the craving for them to permanently vanish which vanishes.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
It's been three or four weeks since I have written here, so it's time for a new update. Only small changes. So just some scattered notes:

- The pleasure breaths and other pleasurable tactile sensations have worn off. They turn up in a weak form now and then, but I don't miss them and didn't have any particular reaction to it when they begun fading a couple of weeks ago. Instead I now have backpains again, not in every sit, but quite often. And some tensions in the chest and head, usually neutral in feeling tone.

- The backpains may simply be due to the fact that I dropped my usual yoga routine to do the tantric excercises instead, since I didn't have time for both. Now I'm switching back to my old yoga routine, since I would rather maintain a back suited for sitting meditation than learn some new energy practice, which might be fine to pick up at some later point, but right now does not seem as important.

- Speaking of the tantric stuff: I do a little of the excercises when I find the time, and I observe semen retention, which I experience as a good thing for the time being. It gives me energy, vitality, joy.

- I have had a couple of nightmares with the common theme that someone broke into my house and I got either very afraid or very angry. Not hard to interpret that as a fear of surrendering and letting "strangers" enter my bodymind-house. I have also had a lucid dream where I was floating in mid air in some cave as I became lucid and just flew around for maybe ten seconds before I woke up.

- I am still sitting two times 60 minutes each day, doing nothing, or to be more honest: doing as little as possible. Now and then, I try out the "attention surfing", as Pepe calls it over at his log, but then it feels too much like striving and I do nothing again (and then I see the attention jumping around on its own).

- Back when I had very pleasurable sensations, I at one point tried the Brasington method for achieving first jhana, making the pleasant sensations the meditation object. I have really strived to do this dozens of times in the past, but never succeeded in getting to the second step, which is that these sensations then expand and intensify. Well, now (a couple of weeks ago) they did expand and intensify, only some ten-fifteen seconds after I focused on them. According to Brasington, the third step is that at a certain point these sensations suddenly "explode" and flip you into the first jhana. But I lost interest shortly after the second step. Attention jumped elsewhere, and I didn't care the least, didn't bring it back, didn't feel any disappointment or frustration.

- One little new thing, though: Sometimes when the clarity is really good, I have the experience that I can perceive single mind moments. This has happened maybe ten times, but I will mention just one clear example: 1) The right part of the visual field suddenly became dark (probably due to a cloud, I was sitting with the sun in my face). 2) In the dark area som bluish blops formed. 3) One of those was perceived as a distorted, scary face. 4) Then there was a sort of expectation or perhaps intention of a fear reaction. Or maybe it was the experience of the vedana "unpleasant". 5) Then came the (very vague) fear reaction. - These five events took place in less than half a second and were perceived as clearly distinct. In general when there is good clarity I have a feeling that things are going extremely rapidly and very slowly at the same time. Kind of like driving on an empty highway: The immediate feeling is smooth easy cruising. But if you look at the weeds at the side of the road, you suddenly see how fast you are actually going.

- All in all I have a more and more "yeah, what ever, come what come may"-attitude to my meditation. I have lost almost all interest in logging (in my private Danish log), and I have lost most of my intellectual interest in stages of awakening, PoI and the like. I don't feel like I need to know more at this point. Don't mean to sound arrogant, there is plenty more for me to know about this stuff, I am just not interested in the theoretical aspect right now. Thus I have also more or less given up on finding where I am on the map. I seem to be all over the place. And that's okay with me. emoticon Not that there is not striving. Striving for SE is still there. But it feels less and less as my striving. I recognize it (on and off cushion), sometimes with a little aversion, sometimes with a little compassion, sometimes with a little smile.
Sam Gentile, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 1345 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Good to catch up with where you are. I'm curious about one thing:
 I am still sitting two times 60 minutes each day, doing nothing, or to be more honest: doing as little as possible
This sounds strongly Mahmudra style. Are you doing that or literally doing nothing?
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Hi Sam,

I know nothing about Mahamudra, so I can't tell if what I'm doing is related to it. I would suspect that my "Do nothing"-technique is similar to "Open awareness" or "Choiceless awareness". I picked it up from a Shinzen Young-video. It is very simple (and very difficult). I sit down, close my eyes and do nothing. If I discover that I am doing something (engaging in a thought, doing a self inquiry, singing a song with my internal voice, observing the tingling in my face, zooming in on the highpitched sound in my left ear ....), I stop doing that thing. Sometimes I can't stop. Then it wasn't "me" doing it, it was just happening. In other words: I try to detect intentions. If they are experienced as "my" intentions, I drop them. Or even more briefly put: I try to sit without any intentions.
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Pepe, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 439 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi Niels,

Interesting stuff about the mind moments. I remember having just a very few of those, not recently though, specially because of being amused of how scary faces where childish actually. Or that the mind was trying to discern patterns out of "clouds". 

Regarding the nightmares, that may be your mind trying to make up a story / interpreting out of some energy waking up events while you're sleeping, connected to your tantric exercises. If possible, try to do them many hours before going to sleep. If that nightmares persist, stop for a while please. 

​​​​​​​
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Hi Pepe,

Only had the nightmare twice, and that was more than a week ago. I have cut down on the breathing and Kegel excercises (to make time for my yoga routine), and following your advice I will from now on do them in the morning. I don't do a lot of this energy work, so I don't feel there is any need to worry about it.

Regarding the mind moments: Yeah, it is weird and weirdly easy when you suddenly see such a little string of 3-4-5 mind moments in a flash of a second. Really a strong anatta feeling: You are just watching the little cogwheels in the machine. It is absolutely unpersonal. For a fraction of a second – and then I'm back to being this tired old person again emoticon
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
16th of March 2021

Update

Some small changes the last week or so:

Off cushion mindfulness seems to be increasing, even though I don't really do any off cushion practice, except when driving (where I do the "count breaths to ten"). Funnily enough it seems to have increased ever since I had my little thread about off cushion practices, which never led me to draw any conclusions as to what I should do, but which somehow seems to have influenced this body-mind anyway. Especially the last 4-5 days the level of off cusion clarity has seemed higher than ever before, for instance I see very clear glimpses of image thoughts (eg. the memory of a face) even when I'm quite focused on my (cognitively demanding) work, which must mean that my periferal awareness has grown stronger. From time to time there seems to be some low level meditation going on on its own.

On cushion there are also some slight changes, but they are so subtle that they are hard to put into words. It's nothing weird or mysterious, quite the contrary, it is a sort of normalization or even trivialization of the absorption state, which just comes on as soon as I close my eyes on the cushion: 3-5 breaths and the body locks into the posture, breath becomes very calm, body sensations (chi) and mental activity (thoughts, intentions, movements of attention etc.) become very clear. It happens at once, as easily and naturally as putting a jacket on. And then it usually becomes stronger, taking maybe 20-30 minutes to reach cutting edge, where I stay until the bell rings, sometimes with some (very clear) sleepiness towards the end in the evening meditation.

My attitude has changed a bit: The feeling that "I" really can't do anything at all to alter the experience has grown stronger, and so has the accept of that fact, to a point that I'm just slightly amused about whatever is happening.

Almost constantly in meditation – and more and more often also off cushion – I feel that I clearly see even micro-cravings (on cushion, a split second craving for a little more clarity in the rotorlike sound when that turns up, which it does in every other sitting these days, followed by immediate letting go into accept/composure), micro-aversions (on and off cushion, a split second annoyance that a (pre)verbal thought turned up and "disturbed" my pristine mindfulness, then accept, amusement, curiosity) and micro-striving (on cushion, a two-three second string of preverbal thoughts a la "It's all very quiet now, I should do some self-inquiry so as to make progress towards Stream Entry"; or off cushion, doing the chores, a two-three second verbalized thought "Oh, I ought to do some off cushion practice now to enhance the probability of Stream Entry" – both followed by an amused feeling that it wouldn't make any difference anyway, so why bother).

Spring Retreat
I'm fortunate to be able to set aside eight days for a home retreat. So from Saturday the 20th of March to Saturday the 27th of March (both days included) I will be doing nothing 8 times 90 minutes a day. Since my last retreat around New Year went very well, I am just going to copy that set-up with the slight moderation that I end the day with reclining meditation. So the daily schedule looks like this:

09:00 – Up, feed animals, take shower
09:30 – 1st sitting
11:00 – Breakfast, reclining
12:00 – 2nd sitting
13:30 – Yoga
14:00 – 3rd sitting
15:30 – Lunch, reclining
16:30 – 4th sitting
18:00 – Yoga
18:30 – 5th sitting
20:00 – Break, reclining
20:15 – 6th sitting
21:45 – Break, reclining
22:00 – 7th sitting
23:30 – Yoga
00:00 – 8th sitting
01:30 – Break, getting ready for bed
01:45 – Reclining meditation in bed until sleep comes
NIGHT – If I wake up before 9, I stay in bed and do reclining meditation

Expectations for the retreat and summary of the last 16 months of my practice
Usually I tell myself before a retreat that I shouldn't have any expectations. The reason I do that is that I have expectations. This time I actually don't have any, because even though the last three retreats were extremely different from each other, they did have one thing in common: What happened on the retreat was completely unexpected. So to sum up my three last retreats (and my practice the last 16 months):

1) In October/November 2019 I was on a Goenka retreat (my fourth since November 2017) with the expectation to get SE or at least some really deep jhana. I ended up in a psychiatric ward (you can read about it in my first post on DhO), which was the last thing I would have expected beforehand.

2) After gently working my way back via a lot of reclining metta meditation, I switched my vipassana technique from body scan to mahasi style noting/noticing in January 2020, slid into EQ somewhere around March after some tough but bearable months, and in September 2020 I did a home retreat (you can read about it in my first log, scroll down to september). It turned out to be extremely non-dramatic, which was the last thing I expected, since all my previous retreats – in very different ways – had been higly dramatic with weird energy stuff, strong open-eyed hallucinations, meeting with "entities" etc.

3) Then there was my New Year Retreat in late 2020 (you can read about it in this very thread, just scroll up). It gave me massive amounts of joy and sheer physical pleasure. Which was the last thing I expected, since I had never before been anywhere near joy and physical pleasure in meditation, and I was going into the retreat in a very neutral high equanimity-like mode, more or less expecting things to be very quiet and deep and perhaps going all the way to SE.

So this time I truly do not know what to expect. I can't even tell what would be unexpected emoticon

I will just try to enjoy myself these eight secluded days, try to keep a childlike, playful and curious attitude, let whatever happens happen, see it clearly and hopefully gain some benefit from it – for my self and for all sentient beings.
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Pepe, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 439 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Those micro-cravings and micro-aversions are so true, never willing that the automaticity of attention show itself. As you said, your retreats have all been different, so the most unexpected thing may well happen. Wish you the best!

 
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Siavash ', modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 1383 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Congratulations Niels, another retreat in the new year!
20th March, Nowruz, beginning of spring, while mother earth sets aside her old dresses and puts on new ones, the sun smiles and birds sing again, and day and night have the same length. It's a special day. Enjoy emoticon
Sam Gentile, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 1345 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Niels, you seem to be in a geat place. Great luck on yoour new retreat. An agressive schedule. I hope you hit SE!
Tim Farrington, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
So this time I truly do not know what to expect. I can't even tell what would be unexpected emoticon

I will just try to enjoy myself these eight secluded days, try to keep a childlike, playful and curious attitude, let whatever happens happen, see it clearly and hopefully gain some benefit from it – for my self and for all sentient beings.

​​​​​​​
Beautiful.
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 6 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 339 Join Date: 11/15/19 Recent Posts
Time for a new practice log!

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