Japan Practice Logs

Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

Japan Practice Logs

Posts: 41 Join Date: 9/26/20 Recent Posts
Hello! 

This will be a place where me, and potentially a buddy will post our logs of what happened on practice on the daily, for each other's practice, and for us to help plot a way forward, self-analyze, experiment, and share our learnings with others. We both are currently working on Kasina and the Samatha Jhanas right now.

Feel free to post in here if you wanna provide feedback or wanna show some love if you've found something helpful. We'll also likely post a backlog of our conversation here where we shared our learnings over the last few weeks with each other as well, as there is certainly some gold in there. (And a whole lot of nonsense).
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Hey! Ditto what Sanath said.

Where I'm at and where I hope I'm going:

- Practising Goenka Vipassana since October 2016 to date, with about one hundred days sitting and serving at the Japan and UK centres in various three to ten day stays. Last visit to the centre was in October 2019.

- Self assessed as insight stage 11 - high equanimity. See details of my stage log here: 
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EC91fM99_U2j4Q0Y4k6BZ2HAsYO0sntOnWa-E_sdX2M/edit?usp=sharing
I recently got the latest version of MCTB so I'll update this as I read the new stages of insight section.

- Self assessed as uptight and taking myself too seriously...

- Recently started practising fire kasina, samatha jhanas, and metta on the advice of MCTB. More details about that when we post our backlog.

- Heading for the final goal, arahantship, of course!

- Currently working towards stream entry... hopefully.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Sunday Evening Practice

Quick 45 minute session. Lit a Kasina candle, used the red dot to develop 1st Samatha Jhana, which I realize is painful for me. The ecstacy is always painful going in and I never realized that it was the ecstacy causing it., some strange pain in the back of my neck leading up to the crown. Wierd clicking and then heat and pain. 

Eventually 2nd Samatha Jhana came in, and the red dot swapped was easier to concentrate on and felt joy/happiness, which also quickly got annoying, and allowed my awareness to expand and enjoyed the cool bliss of the 3rd Jhana. Here the visuals stopped being as vivid as I got more into the kinesthetic sensate experience.

I hung out here for a while. I like how the 3rd Jhana feels. Eventually irritation once again set in and I half assed my way into the 4th Jhana. The transition between third and fourth is consistently sloppy right now, but I can tell the difference between the states. 

From here, I was actively looking for the irritation to set in so that my mind would be more willing to transtion to the 5th Jhana which I'm currently struggling on. It eventually did, and I started directing my attention to the sensations of space and how big reality is. I got some vague hooks into some sensate experience that felt related but after not making any real headway for a bit, I stopped, and relit the candle to cycle through the Jhanas again. 

I did the cycle one more time through - and the jhanas definitely were experienced with a greater degree of hardness. and I was just making more traction with the fifth jhana until the timer went off.

I'm really digging this concentration stuff. I'm reading Shinzen Young's the Science of Enlightenment right now, and it speaks deeply to me. Especially in the idea of practicing all day through daily tasks(coming from his Zen background), and how concentration states are the ultimate meta skill for all the great human endeavors. I definitely find when I bring these states into my daily life, my abilities are often transformed from fumbling to being of much greater precision - especially in dance. 
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Dude, nice jhana practice. Fifth!! Boom.

My Sunday Practice

Morning: 65 minutes. I sat with a candle and worked on Kasina and jhanas. I think I remember medium hardness first and second Samatha jhana. I was a bit dull in general yesterday. I felt my mood improved after the session. Thanks samatha jhanas!

Afternoon: 25 minutes Kasina and soft 1st jhana.

Evening: 70 minutes pure insight practice. I switched back to this to make sure I'm getting enough insight to keep my progress. Or at least prevent me backsliding. I had a drop out last night. First one in a long time. About 40 minutes in got to feeling I was experiencing all my sensory inputs at once. I was able to be aware of Kasina visuals in a lot more detail than before. Thanks Kasina practice! Once everything was very settled and smooth I tried some enquiry
"What causal processes have I yet to release from my sense of self?"
"What mental processes have I yet to experience on a sensate level?"
Got in bed after practice and fell asleep doing insight.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Ah, I didn't actually make it into the 5th Jhana, I was just working on the transition and seeing if I could register space as a sensate experience. 

Monday Night Practice

My timer didn't work today but tonight's session was about 50-55 minutes.

I made some notes to myself that the last week of practice I've been cycling on content a lot, and after reading a bit more of Shinzen Young's book, realized that it's likely that I have poor mastery over the insight stage of mind and body. I'm good at pointing out content, from some of the work I did inspired by "The Book of Not Knowing" by Peter Ralston, but I don't have a strong grasp of separating mental sensation and physicla and distinguishing between the two. 

Decided that I'd take the first 5-10 minutes while warming up with the candle (3 cyles of imprinting it on my retina) of the session to just do some noting of content at the same time, and ask myself "What are the mental sensations in this bundle of sensations here?". The mental sensations, initially seemingly as solid and intrinsically bound to the the physical ones, would immediately disappear. It was bizarre. Almost as though they were fog.

In any case, after this, I did have a slightly more focused practice than usual. Cycled through the first four jhanas, and anytime I had solidity, or pain, I tried separating the mental sensation from the physical to dull it, and then returned to the concentration work. When I got to the fourth, and started feeling restless, started working on the transition to the fifth again. I was about to quit and start from the beginning when I realized part of concentration is actually trying when you hit the wall instead of immediately giving up when things get hard. I still struggled, but for some reason, while I was struggling, the visuals, which hadn't been important at all since the third jhana, started catching my eye. They become more and more encompassing as the bliss and happiness I was feeling was amplified - I thought they were taking the form of Ramana Maharshi's face, and then instead they became a very vivid, not hyperreal, but CGI level for sure, vortex of densely packed grey feathers, oscillating back and forth, disappearing and reappearing as though I was looking at the working digestion of an animal. 

Eventually the visuals faded and became normal abtract color, but god damn was that cool.  

After this, I found it really hard to figure out where I was in the concentration practice, and also the sensations in my body became way more pronounced. I tried focusing and couldn't due to the discomfort, so I settled on just doing some insight practice for maybe the last 15 minutes or so.
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Ah, ok. I see. Still, I think it's pretty cool you're up to working on the fifth.

Monday

Morning: 65 minutes of Kasina and jhana practice. I was feeling pretty dull. Visuals were there in a minor way. And I think I got to the second jhana. It's hard to remember now...

Afternoon: 65 minutes of Kasina and Jhana practice, and this time I managed to hit a reasonably hard second jhana.

Evening: 65 minutes of inisight practice. And then falling asleep aware of the sensations in my body. I had another drop out, making me think I've regressed back to low equanimity. I'll see how things go in the next few days. I was also very physically tired after doing physio and weights during the day, so that likely had some effect. Towards the end of the sit I also had a sensation which reminded me of sensations that occurred during my dark night, in the stage I think was disgust. It was a discontentment with my posture and restlessness. When it arose in my dark night it took me almost two weeks of practice at the centre, during which time I was constantly changing my posture, to work through it. Last night I was able to sense it arising, and then just as I was about to adjust my posture I caught myself and decided to investigate the sensation of wanting to adjust my posture, and it cleared within minutes or maybe even seconds of investigation. I finished the sit in something like low equanimity.

From now on I'm going to continue something like the above system; morning and afternoon - 60-90 minutes of Kasina and jhanas to get me into a good mood for the day, with some insight practice via the second or fourth jhana towards the end if I have time, and actually get to a reasonably hard jhana state. At the moment regulating my mood is my second priority after pursuing long term insight progress so I'm mostly focusing on cultivating bliss and or equanimity in the daytime. If I feel I get enough I'll move onto either Kasina or jhana insight from there. And then cap it all off with 5 minutes of metta. I've been using a few different metta meditations I found in Jack Cornfield's book 'A Path with Heart'. Evenings I'll go with a straight insight practice, again 60-90 minutes using either goenka vipassana scanning or choiceless vipassana depending on my state.

I'll post about any changes or interesting developments emoticon 
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Wednesday Night Session

One hour Session for this one, with a Candle for Fire Kasina. 

Read in the "Science of Enlightenment" about bringing attention to solidities and looking for expansion and contraction counterforces, to help start opening them up. Thought this was interesting, so set the intention of doing a bit of noting to stop cycling on content in the beginning of the sit, to mainly work on the Samatha Jhanas 1-4 and the transition into 5, and lastly when I get distracted by intense/solid sensations, to first remove the mental sensations by discerning what's mental and what's not, and then look for both expansion and contraction sensations in the solidity. 

With some hicups of content occasionally came in I basically stuck to this game plan. I cycle through the jhanas pretty easily - and in a way pretty sloppily. Third into fourth was especially sloppy again today. As soon as I felt irritated in fourth, I started looking for the sensation of space. I'm realizing as I'm writing this, how subtle equanamity is (like it's not locatable for me necessarily, but I know what it feels like), and how maybe I should be looking at space the same way, 


In any case, the expansions and contractions I'm noticing in my solidities become way more interesting so I decide to go the insight track today. After a bit of working with them, I have the same experience that I had yesterday, where I suddenly got very interested in the visual field from Kasina, it became much more vibrant, and then Ramana Maharshi's face began to form, and I felt really fucking stoked.

After this, I continued analyzing  this contraction and expansion of my solidities, in my skull, face, and some spots in my upper backuntil the sit ended. 

I adjusted posture three times. One maybe 40 minutes in to give my legs a break, Sat back down after a few minutes, and then got up again with three minutes left on the timer.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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emoticon what a coincidence! I was pondering today about having two persons having a joint log for their practice and look here emoticon I like this format as two persons can really fire up each others practice by sharing the same log in my opinion. I dont know for sure but I have a gut feeling that this format might be of great benefit for those using it. We are in this together and yet stil alone while on the cushion.

I wish you both all the best! 
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Wednesday Night 60 minute Sit

For this sit I set the intentions pretty much the same as yesterday, do some noting, and some distinguishing between mental and physical sensations to get myself off of content, do 5 rounds of Kasina to start my Jhana exploration, working on the transition into the fifth Jhana. I also realized that maybe my understanding of equanimous sensations is not clear enough, so I figured I would try to spend some time delving into what equanimity felt like before making the transition to the fifth jhana. Also, I decided to continue working with Shinzen Young's explanation of observing solidities in both of their components, contraction and expansion, if I feel blocked by harsh sensations from cultivating bliss.

Practice went as previous, expect when I got into the Kasina work, I totally skipped over the red dot after seeing it in the first 4 cycles of imprinting the candle's light into my retina. Even though my intellect was very dull today, I could tell the state changes into 3rd Jhana. A couple of notes from the practice:

1. Noticing kinesthetic sensations in their contracting and expanding components is insane. I feel like almost I'm continually swirling into myself. It's totally fucked up (in a good way? lol)

2. I can tell when I get into 3rd jhana my chin begins to rise, and usually stays risen until I transition into another jhana.

3. I don't know if I am lying to myself in that I am getting into the fourth jhana. I just think I am because it lacks the focus of what seems like the second jhana, and I don't feel like I am doing "tight" meditating, It seems to be more inclusive than the third as well. The transition into fourth never feels extravagant the way two to three does. It always feels sloppy.}

4. I'm not sure what to look for in the formless jhanas. To be frank, once I get a basic level of access concentration, jumping between the jhanas feels like it's just about changing the focus of a lens or something like that. Do the formless jhanas require some level of hardness to be gotten in the earlier ones, or can you enter them lightly as well? Is it possible to not recognize you entered a formless realm? You  I need to review the formless realms to see if I really understand what to be looking for.

5. I ended up doing insight after getting bored in what felt like the fourth jhana, just focusing on these weird twisting twirling snake like sensations in my body. 

6. I got up about 44 minutes in, reclined and let my legs out, checked the timer, and went back to practice until the alarm went off.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Thursday Night 58 Minute Sit

Went in with the intention of some noting to get me off content, 3 cycles of Kasina imprinting instead of 5 so I wouldn't overdo it, and then focusing on bliss and visuals as I work up to Samatha Jhana 5. 

Instead after like 6 cycles of Kasina, I decided to do insight instead, since it felt easier to go that route today. I realized from Shinzen Young's book that I've been forcing solidities into only expansion instead of allowing them to contract as well, and it allowed me to get really deep into my insight practice. It did get a bit buzzy at certain times with with quick perception, but was mostly just experiencing things curling with expansion and contraction components, changing, constantly. It was fun. I noticed for the first time in a long time I was relaxed enough that my body started swaying with my heartbeat. Something that freaked me out 5 or so years ago, but feels very cool to experience ago.

I got up at the 50 minute mark to adjust my legs and then again like a minute before the sit ended. I'll probably want to do a determined sit soon to break myself of getting up with it's too difficult, plus I think I may have the understanding I need to get through it without being trauatized by the pain lol.

I don't feel amazing after the insight sit the way I do after concentration sits, but I think that's to be expected. Also I need to review the Samatha Jhanas so I can understand how I need to focus to bring on Jhanas 5-8. Might pick up the Mind Illuminated or just go through MTCT again (for the 4 or 5th time lol)
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Update for the last few days:

I've been a bit under the weather, maybe because of a cold or the change of the seasons, and coinciding with that my stress levels have been going up, and my heart rate variability results have been going down. This has been happening since I reintroduced my evening insight sessions, and I was worried they were causing the increase in stress. Also around the same time my daily Wimhof breath training was a bit intermittent. 

I've restarted my wimhof daily for the last two days and now I seem to be coming out the other side; my stress is going down, HRV results are improving. I kept up my insight practice throughout so that leads to conclude (for now) that the dip in my condition was caused by either the gap in my breathing exercises, my physical condition, or possibly one of these plus the initial restart of dedicated insight practice. So I think 2:1 Kasina/concentration jhanas and insight is a good balance for now. I'll keep it up and see what happens.

Interestingly all of my meditations seem to have got "better" coinciding with my physical condition getting better. I was meandering around in the second jhana most of this week and then yesterday and today I hit the fourth. Sloppy, as you would say. It took me quite a while to make the transition from third to fourth, and today I felt that I was only barely in the fourth. I still felt some qualities apart from equanimity from the third remaining. The message I sent on Facebook the other day about it:

"Bro, I hit the fourth this morning. Very happy about that. I see what you mean when you said it has a very through quality to it. It's very similar to the high equanimity state I have experienced towards the end of my insight sessions in the past.

When I got there I was like, "ohhh, it's like this." Kind of disappointed. In a very equanimous way, of course!

I hung out for a while and then slipped back to the third. Rest of the session I just let myself drift between the third and second without any intention. That was quite pleasant. I certainly felt good after that."

I totally get what you mean about moving through the the jhanas by adjusting a lens. I feel like it's a slider, and the various qualities of the jhana rise and fall as I move it along.

During my slump I also found my Kasina visuals were very undefined. And then last night towards the end of my insight session I hit a nice state of equanimity and had some really detailed fractal visuals. I think I've mentioned this before, it was like I came to Kasina from the opposite side; I was focusing on sensations and then as equanimity arose the visuals became more detailed and I was able to perceive them at the same time as all of my sensations.

I also had a moment where my visual field seemed to move, like I was moving towards experiencing another formation event, and then it just jolted back to normal. I think I scared it away by being to excited!

In term your posts above, your Kasina visuals sound bad ass. Very exciting!

Yep, I totally recommend TMI. He talks about the fifth to eighth jhanas and best way to enter them. I'm pretty sure I remember him saying you need a very deep state of access concentration and hardness in the jhanas up to it. 

And yep, concentration feels much better than insight for me too. Insight very often fulfils me on an intellectual level, like I'm exocited about what I found. The problem is I can still be massively grumpy while in that state!
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Friday night 63 Minute Sit

So for this sit, I again, set the intention to do a bit of noting to get myself off of cycling on thought, do three cycles of Kasina, get through Concentration Jhanas 1-4, specifically by using the cues, focus on bliss and visuals, work on trying to percieve space to get to 5, give it a few good college tries, and then after do insight practice if I'm so inclined. 

Getting into the Samatha Jhanas 1 and 2 was super easy today, and I felt bursting with Joy and energy in doing them, visuals were super strong, and started forming quickly, but at some point I petered out and things got much softer and sloppier. I think there were many points where I cycled on thought and the relationships that I deeply care about, which would knock me off of what I was supposed to be doing during the sit, and that made me move through 3 and 4 REALLY quickly, like 3 was probably 30 seconds or less today. When I was in 4, and started noticing on agitation I kept focusing on what space felt like, and realized that my perception of space likely has to do with my hands and my feet. I'm not sure if this is correct but this is how it feels for now. I could get some level of bliss out of that experience. 

After this I decided to switch to insight, and felt all the expanding and contracting solidities in my body. I'm still not acclimated to analysis of the cycles of insight to say when I get them, but I think I may have felt disgust and desire for deliverance in the insight practice. There were short periods whereI shook a lot and my body contorted while seated. I tried to let these happen on their own and let them run their course. 

A couple things to note:

1. I studies the 5 and 6 Jhanas a bit before I sat to review what I needed to do

2. My speed of perception and my non-resistance to phenomena is actually getting pretty decent, but my mind still cycles on thought sometimes, and it totally interrupts how deep I can get into the meditation. Some of my best ideas come from sitting on the mat. It's not really what I'm supposed to be doing, and I need to figure out how I can keep longer, continuous sustained attention without getting distracted and losing the potential depth I can get out of my meditation.

3. I realize I'm probably getting a bit attached to "knowing where I am" in terms of the state I am in in meditation. Maybe there's nothing to do about this but ultimately it seems that all that is important for concentration is focusing on bliss and the concentration object and all that's important for insight is allowance (non-resistance) and continual noting of the three characteristics.

4. I got up with a minute left on the timer. But I effectively made it through a 60 minute sit. Nice! 
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Saturday Night 60 Minute Sit

After realizing that my sustained attention might be weak due to the ridiculous amount of thought that occurs during my sits, I decided to start reading the Mind Illuminated, and set my intention for tonight to just focus on bliss and visuals during kasina, and not worry about anything else. Anytime my mind starts working on content, to immediately go back to those two cues. 

And hilariously, not only did my mind cycle on content several times that I had to bring it back from, it also cycled on content having to do with staying with the vsuals, and bliss. The ultimate trickery. 

At two or three points I found that my sustained attention was pretty good, even though there were still auditory thoughts (this annoying K-Pop song, La Di Da or something like that), and also thoughts analyzing the sustained attention. I didn't see a way to stop them without suppressing them so I just let them be as they were. 

Also there was ALOT of kriya like shaking that happened. I tried focusing on visuals while this was happening just to stay focused. Also a few bug bites distracted me a couple of times. 

I let my legs out with a 5 minutes left in the sit, and instead of switching to insight, I kept with the focus on bliss and visuals. It was a bit awkward doing this, but I started feeling some serious bliss during this period of time. 

At some point I also ended up in the third jhana. 

Everytime I do concentration and I get into a groove, it's almost like a motor turning on, or revving and engine. Certain high pitches come on in my ears, sometimes harsh sensations in my neck and my head start happening, and energy starts moving up towards my head.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Sunday Night 60 Minute Kasina Sit

Still reading Culadasa's The Mind Illuminated. It's an excellent companion manual I think the Daniel Ingram's and Shinzen Young's work.

Today after reading a bit, I set the intention for the sit instead of to "focus", to just consistently "include" the visual field and some elements of bliss in my awareness  continuously during the sit.

This intention, revisited again and again through the sit, really reigned in my wandering mind, and developed distinct red, black and, navy center points in my visual field for extended periods of time. Around minute 40, my body started convulsing again, getting into more extreme convulsions. It made it hard to stay focused, but I continued throughout this period of time, and all of the negative thoughts that collided in, to cling to keeping the visual field and some feeling of bliss somewhere in my awareness. 

And it worked. Although I still came out of the sit about 52 minutes in to stretch my legs, usually in this kind of difficult sit I would've given up and adjusted posture much earlier. Progress indeed. I also felt more extended portions of focus, and the jhanas definitely came on, though I was less aware of the specifics of which one I was in, how hard it was etc. 

I think for now, if I just focus on these two basic things, including a visual and bliss component in my awareness at all times during my concentration sits, I should be able to make really big strides in my practice over the next week. 

I'm also inclusing these cues during other things I'm doing (work, dance, etc.), and finding it really useful for upping my concentration and improving my performance in those endeavors. Let's see. I think by February I'll have a much better grasp of all of this stuff. 
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Okay, here's my update for the last few days. First my stuff:

I seem to have come into some new territory in my concentration practice. Tl:dr I've hit a very solid fourth jhana. Hard enough and long to think about exploring to the fifth. I've also had very strong meditative joy coming up even when I'm not in the jhanas. It feels great!

I read the chapters in the mind illuminated about the illuminated Jhanas being harder then the whole body and pleasure jhanas, and therefor being a better jumping off point to the fifth and above. And since then I've been focusing entirely on the nimitta in my concentration practice with the intention of seeing more yellow and filling my vision with yellow light if possible. Previously I was focusing more on seeing shapes form in the murk, and I was enjoying all of the interesting images and shapes that were coming up. I feel more focused, and as I mentioned above I'm getting strong meditative joy coming up even when I'm not in the Jhanas.

I also read some advice in TMI about accessing each Jhana individually from access concentration and then returning to access concentration afterwards and reviewing the qualities of the Jhana. I feel that doing that has helped me organise my feeling of what each Jhana is, and provided a very interesting experienc: Because I was already experiencing strong meditative joy even in access concentration it was like it switching it off when I entered the fourth Jhana and then switching the joy back on again when I exited.

I've also had the feelings of joy and other positive feelings remaining even after I finish meditation. Sometimes I was still even getting tingles when I wasn't meditating.

NOW I see the appeal of concentration meditation that Daniel talks about.

Your stuff: 

The ultimate trickery. Haha. Love it. 

Nice work on your sitting through that tough one. Sounds like with your convulsions you are on your way to physical pliancy ;) 

Also I'm a bit jelly of your sustained visuals on the nimitta. 

I'm having a great time rereading TMI realising that I just didn't get a lot of it before. Going through again it makes so much sense!!
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Monday 60 Minute Kasina SIt

Today was an interesting one. Set the intention for trying to keep some element of bliss and the visual from Kasina in my awareness the entire sit, and also added a third component of not excluding any sensate experience that comes in, but allow it to also enter awareness without dropping these two elements. 

It was very challenging. Anytime intense sensations entered, I kept dropping either bliss or visual awareness, even if it were just a few moments. Jhanic awareness is very low right now, though I can feel myself shifting gears through them, and really it's just developing stronger continual awareness on the object so I can enter the jhanas with more hard attributes. It looks like I'll be setting in this phase of practice for a while until I get much better at this. Additionally, I stopped meditating for a second to note something down for work, because I knew it was super important, and I didn't want to loop on it continuously through the sit. After that I didn't move, other than the shaking which happened again today, albeit less violently. 

For now I'll keep reading Culadasa's book, implementing what I'm learning, and make accurate diagnostics and corrections based on what I'm seeing. 

Question for Mark: In the 4th Jhana what is the quality of your visuals? 
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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You know, I don't remember... I've never been very good at noticing the visual effects of the jhanas. My memory of the last couple of days is that the visuals remain similar for all the jhanas. Kind of amorphous yellow patches moving around and taking up more or less of my field of vision. With some other coloues patches and sparkles mixed in... I'll pay more attention tomorrow and let you know.

I'm always much more aware of the physical sensations. And recently the inner sound is quite noticeable. The lights are kind of going on in the background. I guess that's my Goenka training.

Not much nimitta this morning... so I sat with the murk and very light meditative joy. No jhanas! I'll see how I go at lunch time.

Afternoon I saw a nimitta, and experienced low level joy. I decided to stay out of the jhanas to nurture that for a little while. Once my nimitta and joy are both super strong as described in chapter 8 of TMI I think I'll play with the jhanas again.

Hopefully that will lead to deeper access concentration, harder jhanas and me being able to report back to you what happens to my nimitta in the jhanas!

PS: it seems like we've reached some similar conclusions for current practice. More awareness on visuals whatever comes up! 
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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During my evening insight sessions recently I've been noticing a tendency to feel unsettled toward the end of the sit, maybe around the fifty minutes in. I've been training a little more recently so I wonder if it's to do with being physically tired. 

I've also recently been trying Culadasa's 'Still Point" insight practice during my sits. It seems to be a more structured version of the self inquiry practice I was doing previously.

Morning session: Nimitta was present, and they after it faded the murk was murky. I felt light joy and bliss a couple of times. 

One thing I have been noticing recently in my Kasina concentration practice is my right leg tending to tense up on its own. I relax it, return my attention to the nimitta and then within seconds it's tensed again. Today I repeated this cycle of realising it's tense and then relaxing it until maybe forty minutes into the sit. And then it remained relaxed. I'm guessing this is a manifestation of the strange muscular movements that occur on the way to physical pliancy that are mentioned in TMI. Funny thing is it only occurs during concentration practice. Not during insight practice. I'll continue monitoring it and see what happens.

Afternoon session: I tried focusing on the nimitta even when my leg tensed, so instead of moving my attention backwards and forwards as I relax my leg periodically, and that disturbing my focus, I just tried to keep my focus on visuals with my leg being tensed in my awareness only. I feel like that might be the way forwards. I'm going to see how that works for a while.

My stress and general physical condition the last few days has been good  so I'm currently happy with the balance of my practice with regard to that. I'm going to see how things go with my insight practice for a few days and then consider dedicating half of my afternoon sit to insight practice too. My goal is to do just enough concentration practice to allow me to do the maximum amount of insight possible.

Sanath's reply:
My goal is to push my concentration to stupid high levels so I can do amazing things in my day to day life, and then take that and bring it to insight when I have a bit more space to risk the dark nights in the further paths.

I have a feeling that if my concentration is that high, first path will happen as a by product. We'll see.

Plus insight necessarily happens to declutter your concentration.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Tuesday Night 63 Minute Kasina Sit

Today I set the intention of just focusing on keeping the VIsuals in my awareness after reading The Mind Illuminated chapter on how we can only truly percieve a single sense door at a time (once your awareness is granular enough). 

And so I did this. Definitely entered the third Jhana again once I let go of the reigns a bit, but the visuals in the third and fourth seem to not have the same focal point as first and second tend to have.

There was also a buttload of shaking and contorting, and just in general stuff bubbling up while I tried to keep the visuals the center point of my awareness. It got worse, as  it usually does, towards the end of the sit, where I'm basically just violently convulsing in spurts. 

The stretches of continual awareness are pretty good, and are easiest when there is red, navy, or black dot to work with, and sometimes the auditory thoughts get silent during these occasionally (one or two time noticeably so a sit).

Additionally I started noticing what Culadasa in The Mind Illuminated means by catching subtle distractions before they turn gross. If you have enough awareness power, things that would normally cause you to lose focus you can kind of catch on the horizon before they cause things to go haywire. I probably lost focus totally noticeably (not just a quick shift in attention back and forth) just a few times during this sit so this is definitely very good, but still something to work on.

Also, I don't know has fast attention can shift, but it seems like this shifting is what causes so much flickering in my visuals in Kasina. 

Anyways, homework for me is to continue reading The Mind Illuminated, and go over MTCT Kasina chapter to get a sense of what to expect after the Nimitta fades again.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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Wednesday Night 58 Minutes Sit

Again today I set the intention on sit to just keep the visual field as the main focus of my awareness at all times, while being inclusive of peripheral phenomena, especially things that feel like subconscious processes bubbling up ("oh you forgot to do that", "oh here's this memory from 10 years ago", etc.), as I feel like these are definitely mini purifications of a sort. The key part of intention was "main" though. I didn't want the visual field to drop to peripheral phenomena as much as possible. 

And, the results were wierd. I refreshed on the kasina flame everytime I felt like I started gettnig dullness in my meditation, which was 5 or more times this sit. By the tiem I was on the third time, the nimitta was morphing into faces, masks, etc. At one point there were at least a hundred or more shooting star like objects shooting through and around the nimitta of to a 45 degree angle towards me. At another point my face started contorting and I started smiling, then laughing really hard, and the smile continued in severity until my face contorted and hurt. 

I had to let my legs out at some point during the sit. I didn't bother checking the timer since I continued focusing on the visual phenomena. Additionally, I did get up from the sit 2 minutes early.

Lots of little things bubbled up as well, such as things I forgot to do, etc, and they presented as sensations in the body as well. I clung to keeping the visual field my main object of attention, and allowed these things to come and pass. I definitely was not successful everytime, but I'm getting much better at this for sure.

Excited for the sit tomorrow.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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Thursday Night 55 Minute Sit

Ugh. This one was not my best. Lack of sleep, and a little heartbreak over the rejection of seeing a girl I liked again hung over this session and kept distracting me. The sit was overall dull and I could barely get my concentration high enough to get the Nimitta to form, and then I couldn't stay with it for very long.  I could feel lethargy and subtle dullness seeping into this sit continuously. I would say more than 80% of this sit was just staring at the candle, especially towards the ends. I did set the intention as usual in the beginning of staying attentive of the visual field, while being inclusive of anything arising, and to be fair to myself I did try to keep doing this and keep dullness at bay throughout the sit, until maybe close to the end.

Ah well, such is life. Rest, recover and tomorrow is a new day to get after it.
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

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Wow, man, that is some crazy shit going on!! Sounds like big purification. I'm excited to hear where it leads you next!

I think I remember you mentioning you experienced fear and one other stage in your meditation. Last night during my insight session I had strong fear and what I have tentatively identified as my disgust stage. I heard a tapping sound (probably the rain) and imagined it was an army of cockroaches spreading over my kitchen wall, and marching towards me. I was thinking "What if they come across the floor while I'm sitting here with my eyes closed?!?" and then realised "Oh, this is fear." and immediately it was gone. 

Disgust I've mentioned before, that manifests as difficulty focusing on sensations, mind wandering, wanting to change my posture, and thinking about ending the sit. Thinking about it and judging by the intensity I guess it could also be Reobservation... Anyway it's come up a few times in the last few days and until now I would pretty much end my 65 minute sit in it. This time I came through it into equanimity just before 60 minutes and decided to sit longer. I felt to calm and stable, like there was no need to move away. Eventually I ended the sit at about 80 minutes because it was getting late and I wanted to get at least eight hours sleep before my workout today.

I feel very encouraged by that experience for two reasons:
1. This is the first time I've been strongly aware of insight stages during my meditation.
2. I was worried that only one hour insight a day is "not enough". Reaching equanimity within 60 minutes on this schedule makes me think I am progressing just fine. I'll see how long it takes me tonight.

Morning Kasina: 
I moved back to chapter 6 in TMI last night to review and this morning set the intention of focusing on the object, and keeping all subtle distractions in awareness. A couple of notable events occurred:
1. For the first time I noticed my visual field obviously change while looking at the candle.
2. Sola (my 2 year old daughter) came over, stood in front on me to look at the candle, and then sat in my lap, squarely on my balls. That was a brief gross distraction!

The nimitta was present from then start, and the murk was murky, so I kept refreshing on the candle until maybe 45 minutes into the sit. Then I was able to focus and discern vague movement, shapes and sparkles in the the murk, inner sound became strong, and I experience some light joy and bliss until the end of the sit.

I'm going to read the chapter 6 section on nurturing meta cognitive awareness and add that to the above intentions for my afternoon sit...

And then Sola had a cold, and didn't get to sit this afternoon. I feel like I might also be coming down with it so I'm going to switch out my insight session for Kasina tonight, in the hope that will alleviate some stress and help me rest up tonight. I hope you're feeling better tomorrow too!
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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60 Minute Breathing Concentration Sit

My eyes are tired. I've been staring at screens uninterrupted all week, and I figured it would be better instead of revving my visual system to it's limit to take a break and use the breath as a concentration object.

All in all, I prefer Kasina. The "forgetting" I was meditating happened way more because the feedback for concentration on the breath is not as clear as it is watching a solid circle with more and more details form as it does in Kasina. Both subtle and gross dullness (breath in the periphery of awareness and then breathe out of awareness) happened during this sit, though i usually snapped the breathe back into awareness as soon as it fell out. Of course, towards the end of the sit, subtle dullness became more of a problem, and thoughts and content started to become louder in my space of awareness.

It's interesting to note that I think that concentration on the breathe, because it is so kinesthetic, feels a tad closer to insight practice, but it probably doesn't matter because I didn't really bother doing the analytical work of insight at all, I just enjoyed the smooth sensations of the breathe. 

In any case, the weekend is coming, which means more rest, and thus - hopefully - stronger sitting practice. Until then, I'm off into the night for some adventure. 
Mark Smith, modified 8 Months ago.

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Yeah, I was thinking about trying using the breath for a bit. I did a few months of it when I first read TMI. And I have agree with you, Kasina is much easier to build concentration. Plus I use the breath sensations as my starter for insight practice and I'd rather keep them obviously separate in my mind for now. Also, I think there's some benefit in continuity of practice of whatever method I choose.

I read chapters 6-9 of the TMI, the ones that I think apply to my practice at the moment, and I'm going to continue applying the techniques there to my Kasina practice. And now I still have maybe 5 days till my new kindle will arrive so I decided to start at the beginning and read it again all the way through. I'm looking forward to the nuances I think I'm going to pick up from it having read MCTB and other meditation books since I read it previously.

Since my last report my Kasina sessions have followed the pattern I described previously, where I experience some light joy and bliss toward the end of the sit. Yesterday afternoon I managed to get concentrated and experience some within about 20 minutes. I'm planning to keep working on the same plan and see if I can consistently get to that state during my sits.

Last night in my insight I hit equanimity and what felt like the edge of formations just as the 60 minute gong rang. I sat for another 5 minutes and then decided to end the sit. No need to push for equanimity or formations, I thought. They'll come when they come.

And then last night I had really grumpy dreams. Like I wanted to sleep and couldn't (Aster crying did wake me up a couple of times), and I was getting angry at Luna kicking me in bed. Luckily I woke up and my mood seems ok. HRV not so hot today so I'm taking it easy.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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Saturday Night 59 Minute Sleepy Kasina Sit

I started this sit super late, like 1:30AM, so I was feeling really tired. Set an intention as usual to hold the visual field in my main attention and allow any phenomena to arise in my peripheral awareness. Surprisingly, the nimitta was SUPER defined, but it became harder and harder to hold concentration as the sit went on longer. Towards the end, my visuals would flick between the Kasina colors, and straight up dreaming. It was clear that I was exhausted and barely meditating at that point. 

Sunday Night 60 Minute Kasina/Breath SIt

I've been tinkering with the idea of taking a break from Kasina and just working with the breath, because the breath is always available as a meditation object, and I've felt that the last breath focused sit I did was a bit more healing than the Kasina I've been doing. When I started this sit, I set the intention of just working with the visual field and peripherals, and after I let go of working so hard at keeping the nimitta in focus, entered 3rd Jhana and the 4rth Jhana shortly after. The visuals, as usual appeared to drop away during the Jhanas, and right after, feeling I got what I needed out of the Kasina sit, shifted position, and started focusing on breath. Nothing major to note, other than I didn't forget what I was doing for longer than a few seconds at the most, and most of the sit was just fighting off subtle and gross dullness. I have a feeling this will be the focus of the next few weeks, and maybe it will be helpful if I try to bring in using the breath as an object throughout the day as much as possible. We'll see, 

I think definitely at least until next Monday, I will use the breath as an object instead of the candle, and see what happens. 行こう! 
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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Monday Night 60 Minute Breath Concentration Sit

Today I set the intention of just focusing on the sensations of the breath and allowing peripheral phenomena to come up and pass as necessary. Breath concentration is interesting because it help release the things that cause bad concentration practice (tightness, subconcious holding, trauma etc.). I shook a lot, but holding to the breath as I allowed these phenomena to pass in the periphery allowed me to stick to the concentration practice through all the wierd phenomena coming up. Hit the third jhana in a medium hardness way at some point, and let the jhana pass by just continuing to keep attention to the breath. 

Right now my main focus is combating subtle dullness - I didn't really leave the breath totally during the sit, from what I can recall, but there are many times where my main focus was pulled elsewhere, especially as sensations in the body intensified, competing for attention. Overall I'm enjoying sticking to the breath, and am excited to use it as an object until I get past this stage of concentration. Then it may be fun to test out Kasina again. 
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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Tuesday Night 45 MInute Public Breathing Concentration Sit

Tonight, since it made sense to not have to commute back home, I got to my dance studio an hour early and went up to the top floor to do a chair seated meditation. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to go deep since I was basically in public, but it all in all was pretty good experience. Some notes:

1. I forgot to set an intention

2. There are definitely more distractions in an environment that's not private, but it's manageable if you're in a place that's safe. (Like Japan for example).

3. I checked the timer 15 minutes early, then 5 minutes early, because I was nervous it wasn't going to go off.

4. I managed to keep my attention on the breath. It did slip into peripheral awareness a lot, but there were no long periods of forgetting due to gross dullness. 

5. I feel like focusing on the breath is helping all of the last bits of resistance to high level concentration skills come up and out. There are so many tight places in my skull, neck, and upper back that is being dug up in peripheral awareness. I wouldn't say it's necessarily pleasant, but there are moments of it. Almost as though the last bits of trauma residing in my body are being released. 

6. I love that I can use the breath anywhere and everywhere. It makes the concentration states way more accessible in daily life, and a useful thing to tap into when working on anything. Also I don't need to formally sit down to meditate the way I was doing with my Kasina sits, I can do it all the time now if I want.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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Wednesday Night 60 Minute Sit

Set the intention to just focus on the breath and allow peripheral phenomena to come up as it wanted to. There's a lot of tightness in my head and certain parts of my neck that are clearly trying to work themselves out. Somehow ended up in the third jhana and maybe the fourth again. I also switched to insight twice for a few moments, increased my rate of perception, and start noting phenomena as not me just for fun. Definitely a very different feeling than concentration - feels more like I'm ripping myself apart. 

In any case, there's quite a lot of resistance still to holding attention on the breath - my mind keeps pushing up things into conciousness as important that are not attention on the breath, but  I do feel as though it's taking less effort to bring my full attention on the breath as soon as it starts to drift a bit. 

No real forgetting in this session, but lots of subtle dullness and distractiosn came up. Just gotta keep working. Loving the breath though because I can use it as an anchor point ALL F***ING DAY.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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Thursday 45 Minute Sit

Set the usual intention of keeping full attention on the breath while allowing phenomena to appear in peripheral awareness and pass. 

While the kriya/release phenomena was originally very interesting, it's now actually only registers as a distraction from the meditation object, even if whatever is appearing in peripheral phenomena seems very meaningful. I think this is a really good maturation of my practice, and is keeping me even more focused then before. I'm somehow very uninterested in the interesting experiences of meditation, and very interested in the unification of the mind, and just continual, unbroken attention on the meditation object. I think the power I accumulate from this will lend itself very well to insight. 

In any case, I'll probably do another 20 minute sit before I go to bed, but again, I think this marks a very boring (from a descriptive perspective), but probably most important part of my meditation journey. Many thanks to The Mind Illuminated and all who were involved in putting that book together for providing a framework and understanding of my practice so I can continue to make the oh-so-important daily incremental progress.

I may go back to Kasina in the near future, but for some reason, I feel thoroughly uninterested in the powers and meditation experiences, and am more focused on a better moment to moment experience, and  ability to enjoy my already very exciting journey through life, and whatever healing I can get out of the practice. As it's changed before, so it will change again, but I'll enjoy this chapter for now.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 8 Months ago.

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Friday Night 40 Minute Sit

Same intention as usual (attention on the breath, and peripheral awareness allowing anything to come up). I'm getting a strong sense that everything that is projected into awareness is actually a distraction - even the good, pleasant thoughts I have about myself, or some situation. All that matters is the breath and staying with it at all costs. During the sit, it's terrifying because I make all these cool connections, and plans, and have interesting ideas that I want to hold onto, but I find it hilarious, because I realize that after the sit was over, basically everything that came up during the sit didn't fucking matter AT ALL. It's kind of a joke. It feels like the most important thing in the world during the sit, but it's totally irrelevant one you get back to life after the sit. 

In any case, I cut this one super short worried that a girl was concerned about our date over text (which made me pick up my phone in the middle of the sit, huge no-no), and then got up 5 minutes early since I was so concerned about the date and planning for it. Lame. It ultimately made very little difference. 

I've been seeing my sits drop in time. I want the opposite to be true. I should be doing 60-70 minute sits. not 40-60 minute sits. I think if I continue excising unnecessary time wasting behavior, this should be no problem.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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Saturday Night ?? Sleep

I tried following the breath in bed before I slept because it was so late yesterday, and fell asleep god knows when.


Sunday Night 69 Minute Sit

Sat on the rooftop to get some sun. Love combining meditation with a bit of sunbathing. Feels very healthy! Set the intention to keep my full attention on the breath while allowing peripheral phenomena. It was very difficult - working on this fundamental skill feels very important right now. Got up after 50 minutes to stretch my legs, laughing at how I thought there was two minutes left in the sit. This is also something I want to fade with time - I might just have to kill this habit on retreat when I have more accountability for fighting for my attention and sitting through pain. 

The last twenty minutes was a lot of my mind wandering, but I kept reigning it back in and celebrating everytime I got it back. These fundamental skills of retraining the mind also feel very important. I got a bit bored, so at the end, while trying to keep some of my awareness on the breath, started investigating the three characteristics of my experience. A couple of notes:


1. Slow noting feels ten times more powerful when you are anchored to the breath, because it very quickly releases the mind from the object that it suddenly became attracted to. I like combining noting to help me reanchor more strongly to the breath, and the more clear the note is (instead of ambiguous ones like thinking, using thought about relationship, planning thought, etc.) works even better

2. I'm really getting a stronger sense that the mind is just constantly generating phenomena, pleasant, unpleasant etc, and getting clearer understanding of attraction and aversion. It's much easier to stick on the breath realizing that EVERYTHING, no matter how cool, interesting, or life changing it appears to be on the cushion, that is not exploring the sensations of the breath is a mind generated distraction. Some of these distractions are intense in nature, and hard to not start following. Suddenly all of these myths and religious stories make so much more sense when looked at from the perspective of mind control. 

I'm starting to be really attracted to insight again - especially after finishing TMI and Culadasa basically saying that a highly unified mind is impermanent too emoticon. The only permanent realizations are those having to do with the insight path. This makes me sad, but definitely recontextualizes my priorities. Though this being said,  I'm really enjoying the breath right now. It's making me feel a lot better and sleep better.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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Monday Night 64 Minute Sit

Worked with the breath today again and set the intention to stick to it while allowing mind generated phenomena to pop up as necessary. I was feeling a bit wierd today already, and it was confirmed by the sit - I had a really tough time reigning my mind in and keeping focused attention on the breath for any long stretches. My mind just gets so attracted to thinking about things it hates, things it likes, etc. It's definitely very new for me to realize that even the pleasant thoughts are distractions, and in a way, just as hard to peel my attention off of as some of the addictive aversive tendencies it has. 

A couple of notes:

1. Lots sensate phenomena going on in the head and neck today - just tried to let it expand AND contract as I read in Shinzen Young's book - and I'm definitely getting better at allowing and tracking this sensate phenomena. 

2. My mind never wanders for very long, it's usually maximum a couple of seconds before I can retrain it back on the breath, and it's rare that I lose the breath in peripheral awareness or completely forget what I'm doing and have to remember (if it happens at all). 

3. Continous attention is very difficult to sustain. Maybe the mind is getting bored? It's definitely much easier to keep continuous attention on a kasina object. I could just make the gaps between the in and out breaths nonexistent for the whole session, but that feels a bit far down the breath work side of spectrum instead of just watching the breath.

4. Lots of shaking today, and still changed positions twice to make myself more comfortable. I want to get to the state of physical pliancy that Culadasa talks about. Perhaps, maybe my body is kind of working this out on it's own and it will just take a bit longer to get there.

5. I do get into interesting visual territory from the breath when I get into a good groove. Maybe a remnant from Kasina practice.

Anyways, from here I'll be trying to switch my meditation to the morning so I can free up a bit more time in the evening. So expect an entry tomorrow morning as well.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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Tuesday Morning 58 Minute Sit

Woke up a few minutes (20 minutes) late for the sit, but still got it in. Sustained attention was much easier today, and got more difficult towards the end. I stretched my legs out at one point, and then got back in the seated posture after 5 or 10 minutes of reclining. I got up with a few minutes extra on the clock so I'd have time to prepare for work (this still feels like an excuse, lol).

Notes:

1. My breath sometimes drops out - by neck or upper back can sometimes become tight from a sensation perspective, and it will make the breath basically stop.

2. It's hard to know whether I'm influencing the breath or just watching it.

3. There was just in general, less unruliness and less content to distract, probably because that's the nature of the mind after sleep

4. It kind of feels like I'm going backwards just working on the fundamentals, but I'll stick to it at least until November and see where it takes me.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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Wednesday Morning 38 - 8 = 30 minute Lying Down Session

Woke up late this morning and decided to try to at least get somewhat of a session in lying down. Set the intention to focus on the breath and allow things in peripheral awareness to come up. Realized I had to go to the bathroom SUPER bad like 10 minutes in the sit and didn't think I would be able to focus through it, so took care of business and returned for the last 16 minutes or so. Nothing special to report really, though I was able to stave off gross dullness and subtle dullness despite laying down, and I tested switching my awareness to different parts of my body when I got bored, and focusing a bit more on insight, and intentionally switched back to the breath. A few notes:

1. Eating super late, always screws my digestion up, and makes me sleep poorly. I have to adjust knowing this fact will now screw up my meditation sessions, which are so god damn precious to me, and I want to be at my best for them.

2. I think I need to review "experiencing the whole body with the breath" and add this to my repertoire to improve my sessions

3. My attention is quite slow moving. It's really hard/slow to flick my attention between two spaces in my body without tracking through the space between them (my forehead and the back of my neck for example), and it feels like it takes a few seconds for things to "warm up" and to start to be aware of the kinesthetic sensate phenomena in that location
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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Thursday Morning 60 Minute Sit

Notes:

1. Set the intention to focus on the breath and allow peripheral phenomena to come up

2. I am still unsure the line between my controlling the breath and allowing it to flow by itself. I think figuring out this might actually be part of the practice.

3. Today felt more trauma releasey than concentration, where I just watched phenomena that made me shake, caused me to tighten up or constrict certain areas of the body, arise and pass away

4. I got up at one point to streth my legs than after a minute or so had myself sit back down.

5. Checked the time with one minute left in the sit (doh!)

6. Tried to celebrate and note everytime started getting caught up in mental phenomena or was pulled to far away form the breath. I always realize really quickly which is a huge improvement from just a few years ago where I would let my mind wander endlessly.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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Thursday Morning 60 Minute Sit

1. Same intention. Stay with visual sensate related to Kasina practice, and allow all other phenomenal to exist in peripheral awareness to arise and pass without allowing my attention to drift from the Kasina object. 

2. It was difficult in the beginning but then got better, and then towards the end got worse again

3. 60 minutes uninterrupted, but a lot of shaking and contortion. Managed to keep with the visual field through this (usually)

4. I have to keep reminding myself! Stay with the visual field. The mind wants so badly to focus on survival it will ocntinually drift to other things, especially things like work meetings, things that generally stress me out etc. Just take note and place your focus where you want to again. Generally my focus only drifts for a fraction of a second, but there was at least one time in the sit where I kind of forgot what I was doing for a few seconds and then remembered. 

5. Make sure I get enough sleep and food. This is paramount to feeling good in the morning and having a good morning practice.

6. Reading No Excuses! by Brian Tracy and the cross over between self-development and meditation is so really (as long as you have some tools to release trauma!)
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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Friday Morning 59 Minute Sit

Notes:

1. Set the intention to focus on the breath and allow peripheral phenomena to come up

2. I'm getting better at watching instead of influencing the breath - paying attention to the general area where the sensations are instead of the breath itself helps me avoid interfering with the breath and control it. I just want to watch it, and allow whatever to happen as a result of that, whether the breath gets faint or it is strong and deep.

3. Today again felt more trauma releasey than concentration, where I just watched phenomena that made me shake, caused me to tighten up or constrict certain areas of the body, arise and pass away. 

4. I didn't get up at all today though my body jerked around during the sit! Yay!

5. If I just hold to the breath eventually my mind phenomena starts to stop whipping me around everywhere. Eventually more phenomena will pop into consciouness and whip me around some more, but if I just stick to to the breath, it arises and eventually passes. The phenomena can be distracting and actually pulls me out of the concentration state if I get overly invested in it (even though I know it's ephemeral). I can feel this pretty clearly.

6. Everytime peripheral phenomena became intense, I doubled down on the breath and told myself that I'm sticking to the breath no matter what
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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Saturday Morning 63 Minute Sit

Sat in the sun while meditating today. Love this dual combo

Notes:


1. Set the intention to focus on the breath and allow peripheral phenomena to come up

2. My mind is getting good at basically automatically recentering attention on the breath, It is REALLY bad at continual attention right now, or maybe it's good at it but I have just too high expectations for whats going on. Remedy in a note below.

3. My sits have been painful. I full kind of like a bitch, but  I feel also like the trauma releasy nature of it has been a lesson in accepting the phenomena as it is and stop wishing for it to subtly be different or "if I do the right thing" it will go away. It's been interesting to see how much resistance I have to all of the things that I deem as annoying or irritating. The resistance comes in the form of creating too much constricted focus on these things which causes it to stay longer than they need to. This is the tricky path of desireless action. 

4. I watched naked ladies on the internet yesterday (read: pornography). This always fucks up my sits,and makes me feel way tighter and more resistant to my sit. This habit totally has to go - it's a once a week thing, but it's not worth the reversal of progress I experience from just 30-40 minutes of using it. There are better avenues for blowing off this type of steam anyways.

5.I changed posture 10 minutes before the end and looked at the timer. I really dislike doing this. If I'm going to let out my legs, I don't need to look at my timer at least. 

6. I think I will switch to Kasina in the next week. It seems like my mind is better at continual attention and absorptions in that format. We'll see how that goes and then I'll revert to the breath if I need to from there. 
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

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45 Minutes Lying Down with the Breath  + 65 Minutes Sit with the Breath

Woke up at 4:30AM and couldn't go back to sleep so tried meditating. The meditation was actually decent, but suddenly got very sleepy 45 minutes in and turned off the timer and fell asleep for another three and a half hours. I'll keep this in mind for future sleepless nights.

The sit was in the sun which was nice. Normal intention of staying with the breath as peripheral phenomena comes up, no matter what, and sit the whole time. I checked the timer with 5 minutes left but didnt move my legs so that was good. Also it's crazy how the subconscious mind is continually flooding your awareness with phenomena even though these things really have nothing to do with the sit. Much of the mind's focus seems to be survival, and takes whatever information we put in it, our intentions, and focuses, and then churns out all of this information that may be totally irrelevant to what I'm currently doing. Some of this stuff is useful to file away and come back to after the sit, but I'm getting even skeptical of those things. 

Anyways Kasina starts tomorrow. Will keep this updated. Might stick to the breath on the weekends while it's nice out to get some sun.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Monday 60 Min Morning Practice - Back to Kasina 

Set the intention to focus on the meditation object and allow all peripheral phenomena to rise and pass, while clinging to the visual field, no matter how intense the peripheral phenomena gets. 

1. I didn't sleep that well last night, and went to bed a bit late, so definitely had the additional distractions of "you're tired" coming up a lot and my body not feeling very good and distracting me that late. I've always wanted to be a super human and power through, but strength of meditation is strongly related to how the rest of your life is going. 

2. I find the Fire Kasina irritating since I already spend so so much time in the visual sense through the day. I'll give it the week and see how things go, and may decidedly return to the breath if it's irritating everyday.

3. The breath made me realize that I often when peripheral phenomena comes up, I immediately allow my attention to shift to it too easily. It also taught me how to stay with the meditation object when other intense sensations are vying for your attention. You don't actually need to percieve things super deeply to have them arise and pass away. Clinging to the meditation object, despite intense phenomena, shaking, etc, is the rep to build the unified mind and pliancy. 

4. Basically Kasina feels like at this point, just staying with the visual field when things get uncomfortable, wierd, etc. I imagine I can get into some pretty wild territory. The break was worth it, because it honed my skills and made me clearer on what I am doing when I am meditating. The nimitta is easy to get and stable, and once I get past that (which sometimes takes a long time since it switches to navy, black etc.) The murk starts developing into bright colors, that alarm me and throw me out of concentration. Just getting used to things again.

5. Got up to stretch my legs after feeling umcomfortable with 10 minutes left (checked the timer emoticon ). If I slept well I might have been able to avoid this. Gotta keep pushing on this one. 
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Tuesday Morning 60 Minute Kasina

Notes:

1. Set the intention to keep all direct attention on the candle and allow phenomena to arise and pass in the peripheral awareness. I'm getting a stronger sense that all meditation is is this. (At least for concentration practice). If I can just stay visual field during Kasina even when other sensations becomne very strong, this is gold. Sensations may be meaningful or not meaninful, related to what's happening or not, and interesting or not, but at the end of the day, all sensation are simply a distraction from the ultimate intention of keeping attention on the visual field

2. Practice gets harder as the sit goes on. The end of the practice always feels much more of a struggle.

3. When things get murky and I find my mind starting to be distracted by phenomena that is suddenly more interesting, refreshing on the candle is a good idea. 

4. I sat for the full 60 minutes and generally, although a bit sleepy, didn't really feel much pain and was pretty engaged. Likely has to do with Kasina being such a powerful amplifier for concentration work. I wasn't really irritated, and was mostly relaxed, although my face and posture contorted a few times - I stayed with the visual field as best I could even through these phenomena. 

Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Wednesday Morning Kasina Practice

Notes: 

1. 60 Minute Sit and didn't get up again! Yay Kasina!

2. I'm really getting a strong sense that meditation is really about returning and holding attention on the object. Regardless of what phenomena come up. In a sense the Jhanas can be the most distracting because the pleasure can be so much that the mind cannot help but be absorbed by it. Hard emotions, past experiences, physical discomfort, etc. Even the thoughts that I'm tired or whatever, or figeting or involuntary movements are distractions, and should be allowed to pass without interruptions and getting involved.

3. Things got harder towards the end, and the visual space was not as clear as usual. Just keep working and make sure the surrounding circumstances are conducive to meditation but don't stress about out during meditation
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Friday 60? Minute Kasina Sit

1. Set the intention to pay attention to the visual field and allow peripheral phenomena to arise and pass of it's own accord while staying with the visual field not matter what. 

2. Ate all my meals literally right before bed yesterday because I skipped lunch at work because I was too busy. I had terrible indigestion and pretty shitty sleep as a result and had to get up twice in the middle of the sit (reset the timer after the first one), to go to the bathroom. 

3. While I was able to keep pushing for most of the sit, even though I was very uncomfortable and involuntary movements were coming on like crazy, I gave iup with a bit less than 9 minutes left and let my legs out. BUT I sacked up and forced myself to sit down after a minute or so to finish out the sit. 

4.Was able to get the nimitta but things were just generally blurrier today. Though I can tell that my mind's will and it's ability to stick to intentions is getting stronger despite all the obstacles. I'm very happy with this progress, and I just need to tweak some external things to make my sits even better.

Improvement

I skipped lunch because I was too busy with work yesterday, and really what I should have done was instead of eating late, just fasted straight through till lunch today and drank a lot of water. I have all these silly worries like, "I'm getting skinny and losing muscle", and "what if I get irritable because I haven't eaten", or "what if this ruins tomorrow". At the very least, fasting through lunch today would have not given me such a painful sleeping and meditation experience this morning, and fasting improves body composition in spurts anyways. Better feeling fasted and alert, than my digestion being fucked up and my mind/body feeling so sloppy and gross. 

TLDR; No more late meals. If I have to eat a full meal late, just do at least a 24hr fast instead. Much better situation. Your next day will be much better, and most importantly, your meditation will be better.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Saturday Morning 60 Minute Kasina Sit

Got an email from Daniel today after I told him about some of my experiences in meditation, specifically in the devalidating all phenomena that don't have to do directly with the meditation object, and how it feels like the pathway forward. 

His response was basically, there are debates as to which method is better, this, or rolling with whatever arises, and that he has done both and been happy with his experiences doing both. 

I decided after this just to continue with what I'm doing, and have been setting the intention as I have throughout the week to just focus on keeping my attention on the Kasina object and visual sensate experience, and allow everything else to arise and pass in the periphery.

There are some interesting findings which I'll detail in the notes of the session

Notes:

1. This session was super grindy. I think probably around 40 minutes in I started shaking a lot and had everything screaming and pleading with me to stop. LOL. I managed to get through three cycles of my body and mind freaking out, calming down, freaking out, calming down, freaking out and calming down, until I eventually caved with 3 minutes on the clock. While I'm sad I didn't make it all the way, I pushed myself hard to keep going through the discomfort, and went a lot farther than I would traditionally go. Proud of myself for this one. 

2. The reason for number 1 probably has to do with the fact that I paid a bit more attention to periphery phenomena. I started to realize what Culadasa talks about as I think "meta-cognition" where I could see peripheral phenomena in it's seedling form before it spawned into a variety of thoughts and other sensations. I realized as I was doing this, that the reason distraction comes on during concentration is due to these peripheral phenomena gaining too much steam in the background until it's too intense to ignore anymore, but if you can pay attention to it in it's more seedling form, you can sidestep your attention being pulled. 

3. Keeing attention on the object, and making peripheral phenomena more clear is super difficult because it feels like I'm doing a sort of dual processing, or being pulled in two completely opposite ways, where I'm trying to keep part of me on the meditation object, but the other part is keeping track of all the other sensate phenomena to make sure I don't get caught with my pants down and absorbed by a distraction. As a result maybe my concentration power was a bit weaker today, but I felt like I was working on my overall "consciousness power" in doing so. In addition to this, this kind of takes the best of both worlds of "rolling with whatever is arising and passing", and "staying with the meditation object" and merges them together. I was kind of doing this before too, but not nearly as much effort was allocated to seeing the peripheral phenomena clearly. In fact, I was almost avoiding peripheral phenomena.

Anyways, excited for tomorrow. We'll see how things go.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Sunday Morning 60 Minute Kasina Sit


Notes:

1. Set the intention to focus on the Kasina object, but also allow phenomena to arise and pass in the periphery. I added the additional parameter that I wanted to see the peripheral phenomena as clearly as possible.

2. I definitely saw the peripheral phenomena more clearly, but I'm not sure if it was at the expense of clarity of the meditation object. I didn't necessarily get into any groove of with the object, but I also was able to sustain a slightly less clear nimitta even though I was also looking through peripheral content. 

3. I am unsure if I'm actually paying attention to the object and aware of the periphery, or my attention is actually flipping back and forth. In fact, I'm not sure how to increase clarity of peripheral phenomena without my attention getting into it a bit. 

4. I need to reread the Mind Illuminated and just clarify my intellectual understanding of what should be going on so I make sure I'm actually effectively practicing. I'm reading two other books right now, so as soon as I'm done with those I'll go back to the Mind Illuminated.

5. I did cycle on content a bit due to trying to increase the clarity of peripheral phenomena. I had a few moments where I wasn't actually concsciously placing my attention, and that's when I cycled a bit. Maybe this is an adjustment period as I give more resources to the periphery.

6. This sit was super fast and felt like 5 minutes. 

7. I shook a lot at one point, but considerably less than yesterday, and it faded more quickly as I saw the peripheral sensations giving rise to this more quickly and at their root. 

8. I go up to stretch my legs and continued meditation, and tried sitting back down, but the timer immediately went off when I sat down. I think the quality of the sit went down a lot when I stretched my legs. 

9. I also went out last night and feeling a bit tired/underslept. I don't regret my decision of going out actually (though I regret not talking to some of the girls that I was at a house party with), but I still have to be mindful of how this affects my sits.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

Posts: 41 Join Date: 9/26/20 Recent Posts
Monday Morning 60 Minute Kasina Sit


1. Gotta get my sleep right, but also not make it an excuse for bad sits either. Drank caffeine yesterday and ate a bit later than I should have. I'm so busy! Anyways, no excuses, just do better. 

2. Setting the intention for holding to the meditation object while increasing the clarity of the peripheral phenomena. I'm definitely pushing the limit of my practical understandings. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing a mix between concentration and insight practice, but on the other hand, my practice feels a lot less tight around the meditation object which is making things a lot more pleasant as well. Plus it seems I get accidentally caught and distracted less. 

3. I realized I have a subtle expectation of how my sensations should be and try to "force" them into a box for how the sensations should change, relate to each other, and dissolve. Also I have a subtle expectation of how a sensation should feel and what it should be. Just having the intention to clarify these sensations makes these expectations a lot clearer, and in letting go of them, increases the clarity of the sensations themselves. Intentions for the win. This will definitely make it easier to do proper noting/vipassana

4. Sat the entire time, but almost lit my blanket on the fire by the candle. Gotta be careful about this one.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Tuesday Afternoon 60 Minute Kasina 

Notes:

1. I can feel that I'm being drawn back into insight work as I attempt to clarify what's happening in the periphery. I don't know if it's possible to clarify both the meditation object and the phenomena in the periphery at the same time, so I found myself flicking back and forth, with varying degrees of effectiveness (IE: Not really that effective)

2. I sat for the full 60 minutes again. I did adjust my posture, but I didn't move my legs to do it.

3. I set the intention as usual, hold attention on the object, and not only allow peripheral phenomena to arise but also to see it clearly.

4. I'm starting to distinguish between what I want sensate reality to emerge as and merely viewing it as it actually is. Of course I still struggle with this, but I guess the intention of clarifying sensate reality is directing more to just taking a more honest look instead of trying to force things how I want them to look, or what I think they should based on rationalle or beliefs.

5. I need to reread TMI by Culadasa again

6. From tomorrow I'll start working with the breath as the main meditation object and focus on clarifying peripheral phenomena. I can feel that my mind feels like it's being forced to work on concentration skills, and it feels more in tune with how things are to just focus on insight for now. Things coming full circle I suppose.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Wednesday Morning  59 Minute Insight Practice

Notes:

1. Set the intention to use the breath as the anchor point for attention when my attention drifts, and to clarify all arising phenomena as much as possible. 

2. Sat through the entire time without issues, though did make adjustments to my posture in the upper body. Also there was far less shaking. I guess because I was catching the sensations that I react to in their seedling form before they turned into more intense reactions?

3. Found that the "usual" stuck sensations, that I find overwhelming at the base of my skull, are actually just many different types of sensations knotted together. If I continue to hold the intention to clarify them, I begin to see more nuanced and separate sensations instead of one giant cluster of tightness.

4. I still need to continue working on releasing expectation of where sensations will go and how they will arise. I still subtly try to mold the sensations into what I want them to be instead of what they are.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

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Thursday Night 40 Minute Sit

I started an entrepreneurship training and it's gonna be brutal. I think my meditation practice will be impacted because I will have to forgo some sleep on Thursday night, and have homework assignments and a whole new group of people to interact with that will inevitably cause more distractions during meditation. In any case this is just an opportunity to double down on the practice and use this as good additional training to cut through the noise and focuse on what's important.

In any case, bought an eyemask and earplugs to help with the sleep side of the equation, so maybe fxing this will give me a bit more energy to tackle the additional challenges.

Friday Morning 1 Hour Lay

Felt spent after the 5AM to 11PM day yesterday. Stayed in bed. Managed to keep bringing my attention back to the sensations in my body again and again despite being super stressed about how I'm going to get through all the work for the entrepreneurship course. Got up with three minutes left.

General Notes from both Sessions:

1. I need to keep remembering not to search for things that are not there. Just allow things to pass and rise without searching for how they should resolve or attempting to interfere with sensations (another way to think of reacting). 

2. Overwhelm is just a result of not allowing a sensation to resolve into it's many subtle components. Just sit into the bigger "chunks"/hard to get into sensations, and instead of focusing on how I can't feel it clearly, focus on the questions "What does this thing actually feel like", "Can I see all the subtle sensations that are involved with this?", "What are all the different types of sensation I can feel like". This all helps me focus on what's actually there instead of my reactions to it.
Sanath Sambamoorthi, modified 7 Months ago.

RE: Japan Practice Logs

Posts: 41 Join Date: 9/26/20 Recent Posts
Saturday Morning 60 Minute Insight Sit

Cycled a lot on content, but also my focus is better, ability to come back is better. and ability to detect subtleties of sensation and nuances of it are better. Set the base intention to clarify all phenomena that arises and passes, and ask myself the questions "What am I truly feeling from a sensate perspective here?", and "Can I distinguish more aspects of what's arising and passing?". 

Unfortunately due to the entrepreneurship course, I'll be unable to revisit TMI or any meditation related stuff for the next 12 weeks. Just keep things on maintenance mode and focus on sitting and updating my findings everyday.

Insight is also exhausting compared to concentration. Don't ream me out if you see me swapping between the two to keep my energy levels up. 

Also bought a night mask and some earplugs and got some of the best sleep since I've moved to Tokyo. Brimming with energy right now.

Cheers.

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