Niels's practice log #2

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Niels Lyngsø, modified 5 Months ago.

Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 301 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 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 301 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 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 97 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
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 731 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 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 301 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 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 2422 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 5 Months 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 5 Months 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 5 Months 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 5 Months 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 5 Months 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 5 Months 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.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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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 5 Months 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 5 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 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Niels Lyngsø, modified 5 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 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 1494 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 5 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 5 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 5 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 194 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 5 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 5 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 3 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

Posts: 194 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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good stuff!
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 3 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 3 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 3 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Sent you a PM
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Niels's practice log #2

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Sent you one back 

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