Sameer's practice log

Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

Sameer's practice log

Posts: 30 Join Date: 12/2/20 Recent Posts
Following suggestions made to an earlier post of mine, I have decided to start a practice log. I am starting the log on day two of my “self retreat”.

During the “retreat” I plan to do Mahasi noting sits alternating with walking meditation. The daily routine is to start  around 7:30 and go on til 6 pm with breaks as needed. I will pick the last sit of the day (or maybe the most noteworthy) to report here.

After the retreat I intend to continue a daily practice and continue the log. My long term (hopefully not too long) goal is SE.


Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 30 Join Date: 12/2/20 Recent Posts
On day two, my last sit was a 1hr session with the intention to note clearly and continuously. The state of my mediation seems to have regressed compared to the link here (https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/21892100 ).

The state that I wrote about where my attention shines a spotlight, and spontaneously moves from one area to other is gone. It is becoming tough to find any sensation. One thing could be that I have also decided to stop coffee from the day I started the “retreat”. I don’t know if this is resetting something and causing impediments.

I started by centering on breathing sensations in the abdomen. Started noting any sensations other than the breath. Most notings were about “touch”; itches, tingles, pressure, tightness. There was very little see, hear or emotions I could note. Also no intentions. But I did note a little talk related with mind wandering. Very soon  however, the discomfort in my legs took over. This turned into intense pain. It was stabs and flashes of extremely intense pain (I was grunting - duly noted) over a background of generalized intense pain. Once in a while, it would turn into lots of intense, bubbling sensations that I could not term as pain and then again back to pain. I noted pain, frustration, anger, impatience. I noted “thinking” whenever I thought of stopping or wondered “how long will this go on”. Finally after 53 minutes, I called it quits.
[Edit, a bit after first posting this: I recall that close to the end I noted heat all over the upper body, I even began sweating. The shirt I was wearing which usually feels soft and even cool was suddenly prickly all over which I noted.] 

This pain (without the breaking into bubbles) is pretty much what has been happening since the last sit on day one. Tomorrow I plan to do a couple of  30 min sits followed by one hour sits interspersed with walking meditation (30 mins).

Walking Meditation:
I find myself noting very clearly for each foot: lifting, moving, placing. I can note the transfer of attention from the placed foot to the foot to be lifted. I also note turning clearly. Wind wandering happens more in the late afternoon sessions (tied). Then I note and stand still. Then restart.
Sam Gentile, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Sameer:
On day two, my last sit was a 1hr session with the intention to note clearly and continuously. The state of my mediation seems to have regressed compared to the link here (https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/21892100 ).

The state that I wrote about where my attention shines a spotlight, and spontaneously moves from one area to other is gone. It is becoming tough to find any sensation. One thing could be that I have also decided to stop coffee from the day I started the “retreat”. I don’t know if this is resetting something and causing impediments.

I started by centering on breathing sensations in the abdomen. Started noting any sensations other than the breath. Most notings were about “touch”; itches, tingles, pressure, tightness. There was very little see, hear or emotions I could note. Also no intentions. But I did note a little talk related with mind wandering. Very soon  however, the discomfort in my legs took over. This turned into intense pain. It was stabs and flashes of extremely intense pain (I was grunting - duly noted) over a background of generalized intense pain. Once in a while, it would turn into lots of intense, bubbling sensations that I could not term as pain and then again back to pain. I noted pain, frustration, anger, impatience. I noted “thinking” whenever I thought of stopping or wondered “how long will this go on”. Finally after 53 minutes, I called it quits.
[Edit, a bit after first posting this: I recall that close to the end I noted heat all over the upper body, I even began sweating. The shirt I was wearing which usually feels soft and even cool was suddenly prickly all over which I noted.] 

This pain (without the breaking into bubbles) is pretty much what has been happening since the last sit on day one. Tomorrow I plan to do a couple of  30 min sits followed by one hour sits interspersed with walking meditation (30 mins).

Walking Meditation:
I find myself noting very clearly for each foot: lifting, moving, placing. I can note the transfer of attention from the placed foot to the foot to be lifted. I also note turning clearly. Wind wandering happens more in the late afternoon sessions (tied). Then I note and stand still. Then restart.

Your having a lot of sensations and things happening. I looked back and shargrol did warn you that you were moving at a fast pace on this retreat for a beginner. What are you hoping to accomplish? You may want to slow down. But yah, these are normal things that happen with intensive practice.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Thank you Sam for your note. Yes, Shargrol did warn me (thanks again to Shargrol) and in fact, as I wrote I would do in my reply to him, I pulled back today. I only attempted four one hour sits and three walking meditations. Plus took time off to go for a walk (even though it was 35F, it was sunny) and napped. That seems to have improved things (will be adding details to my practice log soon).

I didn’t state my intentions definitively in reply to Shargrol because I am not sure how to state them for a beginner 10 day “retreat”. I cannot state that I intend to get stream entry because it is not going to happen over this retreat (how much I would love that to be the case) and I am not even sure if A&P is possible. So finally my intentions are to practice the dry insight method and make as much progress as possible. If I am stuck in the 3rd stage most of the time but improve my noting, I will take it. If I get to A&P that would be awesome.

At this time I realize these problems with pain are common and are mostly related to unfamiliarity with sitting cross legged and still for long hours (thank you again for confirming that). Or maybe with the third stage. I don’t think I have to worry about the existential crisis of the dark night at this time. Hence my seemingly cavalier attitude.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Following yesterday’s painful sessions and a sleepless night, I decided to both scale back and continuously rearrange my siting space to find somethign less painful. I was able to finish my third session after a very short break and my fourth session completely.


3rd sit 2:30-3:30 pm.
Started with mild light play in visual space and very mild and light tingling on face and palm. This moved to stiffness in the back/shoulders/neck and pain in the legs/knees. Attention moved back and forth between the tow.

There is some break in the pain when attention moves to some light fluctuations in the visual field. These moments of relief are brief and surprisingly there are a couple of sensual images in there. Very soon though back to pain in the legs/knees with increased intensity (I saw this in my prior sits too, I would actually start with some light play and very mild tingling and proceed to leg pain, in fact it seemed that light and tingles were precursors to leg pain!). Very soon a loud tinny humming in the ears that keeps getting louder and painful. The humming in the upper body and the pain in the lower body forms a circle and my attention seeks some peace in between. But next the neck/shoulder pain joins in. Al this was then joined with some slight trembling. Surprisingly I clearly remember a fleeting moment of calm right in the middle of this (it had a one-two feel but I don't know what the one and two are.). I remember being taken aback and looking for it again, but it did not appear. 

I took a short break (30-45 seconds) with about 17 minutes left as the pain got unbearable, moved shifted and restarted. Pain reduced and after a while attention seemed to mildly solidify on the face and there was a slight sense of it scanning the face. The pain was still in the background and somewhat reduced. Completed the hour. 

Final sit. 4:35-5:35 pm.
Completed the whole 1 hr in one chunk!. Added a tonne of cushions before starting so that the pain has now discomfort and only the stiffness in the back and neck was most notable. On closer inspection, the back is pulsing, but doesn’t move around a lot. Instead there are two regions that alternate in intensity. At times it is quite bad especially when I attend to the pain.

Like in my earlier sits of the day and also yesterday, pain  took up a fair bit of my attention but this time it was bearable.
Noted a general heartbeat throughout the body. Noted coolness in the face, in the hands and the always present tension/tingling in the middle of the forehead. Noted visual phenomenon, thought, touch and emotions. Did comparative study of the kind of attention that leads to better staying with the noting (maintaining a distance) and the kind that leads to forgetting (peering up close). Found myself reflecting on the three characteristics, in the most jejune manner: good sensations are few and far between and don’t last while painful sensations are everywhere are never seem to end.

Walking meditation: I am liking this quite a bit. I find it relatively easy to stay with the stepping most of the time. I also caught intentions to stop as I come close to end of the path each time which I had not done before.


Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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One more night with just 2hrs of sleep. As mentioned earlier, I am also using this “retreat” to quit coffee. To what extent are my difficulties from the previous sits related to quitting coffee? As an experiment, had coffee —> Virtually no pain, just some slight occasional discomfort in the legs and some parts of the back. Finished 1 hr sits easily. Some mind running due to coffee though. Report on a few sessions follows.


Sit #1 (1hr):It seems my mind wanders basically due to “talk” (large portions of my thinking is verbal and I call it talk), So I decided to spend this sit by concentrating on talk. Where Does it come from? It seems to me to originate in the low back region of the skull (unsurprisingly). But it also can be detected in between the ears as “hear”. So eventually I decided to concentrate on “hear” (write why)After a while I started taking in all sensations as noting was good.

Tried another technique: Constantly ask self “Now?” (What am I attending to now?) and reply. This works very well in keeping mind on track for fairly long times.
Noted Clinging to thought
Noted aversion to stopping
Noted aversion to noting because noting causes thoughts that I want to cling to to stop.
Tried “staying with thought” after noting “clinging” to slowly leave thought and start noting other phenomena.

Sit #3,4 (1hr):
In addition to Now?—> note, and concentrating on talk, tried “distancing”. So instead of peering into the small confines of where the sensation seems to be coming from, I “step back” from my self and note from there. Seemed to stick to noting better in the onset with less chatter. But other sensation were not there to note.  Particularly in the visual field, it seemed like if some image was detected, by the time I noted/attended to it, it disappeared. Other stuff like buzzing in the ears was constant when I particularly directed attention to it. But otherwise the sensations were flat.

Walking meditation #1 (20mins):I noted lift, move and place as usual. Also noted shift in attention from placed foot to lifting foot. Noticed a few more transitions clearly (had an inkling earlier).  Noted transition from lift to move and move to place. Noted place ends as stop. Lift has a slight amount of push in it. Noted a few thoughts during noting parts of walking but could maitin focus on walking sensation while acknowledging thoughts.

shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Sameer, if you are only getting 2 hours of sleep for two days in a row, I highly advise backing off on the effort and sleeping whenever you are tired today.

Sleep deprivation (even if you don't feel like sleeping) has a way of creating big problems. It's one of the biggest warning signs that you are trying to do too much and are using too much effort.

Obviously, I cannot know your situation from just a few words on a message board, but I would strongly advise to take a break, let things slow down, and sleep when you can.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Thank you for your message Shargrol. That is exactly what I have done today. Began late and did only two one hour sits with a nap and a 30 min walking meditation in between. That is all for today.

I was quite surprised with the sleepless nights!
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Just did two sits today.

Sit #1 (1hr):
Since I am having trouble staying with the noting, I decided to try to go as long as I can by concentrating on the sensation of breathing in the abdomen. Count up to 10 and back down to 1.
I found that I was able to stay with the breath consistently for about 30-35 minutes. The detail that I could observe varied a little bit, but I was always aware of the breathe, especially of each beginning and did not lose count once for around 30 odd minutes.
At some point of time there was a transition when the breathe turned deep and much more automatic, and I felt a change of feeling in the head and the screen of the eyelids brightened. I opened my eyes to see if maybe a light was turned on or something (no such thing) and then closed my eyes again. There was a sense of excitement and I lost the concentration. I couldn’t get it back after a little while I checked that some 19 mins of the 1hr were left.
After a 1 minute break, I added 4 minutes and tried finishing off the hour with noting if not concentrating on the breath. It was a bit disappointing that I could not get back on track. However, I am impressed by the 30 minutes performance!

Sit #2 (1hr-15 mins):
Initially, noting was probably the best I have had. For a change I could clearly and consistently note “talk” (that was a big improvement). With time however this noting consistency went down.  I noted myself doubling down on the effort, reminding self to note, getting frustrated etc.. At least three or four times during the sit I had a semi nod followed by brightening and a suffusion in head-feel.

Walking meditation (30 mins):
I am now noting 'lift', 'move', 'place' and 'shift'. Was aware of mental talk, images etc. which I noted without losing track of the walking.
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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It's great when we have problems with noting --- that's were we really learn. Remember, the goal is not perfect labeling like a robot, it's using the practice to discover how we get lost, how we beat ourselves up, how we are our own worst enemy sometimes. When things are "bad", don't concentrate, don't use more effort, don't feel bad -- just note whatever is actually happening. No need to change it, just note.

So it's completely fine to note: lost, confused, worries, doubts, spacing out, doubling down, reminding sled, frustration, head nod, brightness, suffusion... etc.  By simply bringing awareness to how things are, we learn that a lot of our tensing up and battling with our body/mind is unnecessary. 

There have been many times in my practice when I've noted "spacing out".... "uh, spacing out"..... "oh, spacing out"   emoticon

There are no bad noting sessions.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Thanks Shargrol, “There are no bad noting sessions” is indeed something to keep in mind. It will definitely prevent people from getting discouraged. As long as I don't let it lead to complacency. Got to keep making progress.

Only two one hour sits today. Plus the half hour guided meditation at the beginning of  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgYjLxM4VMc  ("Guest Q&A with Daniel Ingram and Michael Taft")

1hr sit:
Pretty much standard experience at this time. With two notable additions.At some point in the meditation, there was a feeling of being much larger than the surroundings. Both in terms of body and above all, head (I have been accused of having a big head, but this was different :-) ). This went away after a short while. The other is that toward the end of the sit, it seemed I got to note better. There was a realization that a slight “turning into” (the best way I can find to put it) the sensation keeps the attention and therefore the noting ongoing.

Something to try tomorrow. I hope to resume normal service tomorrow with at least 4-5 1 hr sits.

Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Four sits today: one 1hr-45 mins, two 1hr-30 mins and one 1hr sit that got terminated after 25 mins due to an unforeseen interruption.

Sit #3: 1hr 30 mins:
So far I had been following attention and noting silently. Also I was being descriptive in my noting. This was leading to a lot of forgetting. So for this sit, I resolved to mutter the noting, and forget the content. So that the labels were: see, hear (external sounds), talk (internal dialogue), touch, feel/emotion & intention.

I found that most of my noting was touch (clothing, cushion, tightness in the forehead, some itch, legs etc.). There were mental images that I noted and followed until “gone”. I noted talk which on noting would mostly disappear. I missed noting some talk but that is not a problem as I did rather fast noting (heartbeat) of touch and sensed when I missed talk.

There were little bits of getting lost in thought but they were very few and I usually caught myself pretty quickly. Noted some “seeking”, usually after noting “gone” or after noting that I has lost the thread. Then at some point I lost the thread for a longish time, I check and realized that had probably gone for an hour with consistent (though limited in range) noting. Then of course Icontinued to the end of the sesssion. 

For sit #4, I experimented to see if the noting would go on with the acquired momentum if I mode mental notes only and found that after a short while I was losing the noting.  However there was more mental talk noted compared to the sit when I muttered the noting. 

So going forward I will do muttered noting and hopefully expand range to see if I can include more talk, feel/emotions and intentions.

Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Very strange day today. The first sit in the morning was supposed to be 1hr 15 mins of a continuation of yesterday’s last sit with muttered noting. Which is how it began. This time I interspersed silent noting to gain momentum int that direction. As with yesterday, most noting was about touch with some see, hear and talk interspersed. I noted breath, clothes, cushion, sitting, itch etc. But at some point, talk/emotion started ramping up. I noted impatience, doubt, frustration, anger, irritation, resentment, discomfort, The intensity of these emotions kept ramping up until I stopped (about ten mins before the timer went off so the sit was just over an hr long).

Had breakfast after this (my usual routine) but was edgy/irritated and full of angry thoughts throughout the breakfast.  So I did walking mediation for 30 mins.  It was impossible to do slow walking meditation due to my jumpiness (all of these things I noted as best as I could). So eventually, I did a pretty fast walk.

After the walk, I decided to do some “feeling good” meditation lying down to increase my chances of calming down. For quite a while it was rather useless with some strong irritation, frustration etc.  continuing form the morning sit. But then, all of a sudden, I felt a full body tingling with very slow wave or two go  up and down from the legs to the head and a feeling of brightness in the eyes. This last for a few minutes. Then there was a vision of a rectangular spiral staircase from the top and sheer terror with the fear of falling down. And then the terror was gone quickly and there was a feeling of calm. That stayed for quite a while. Once in a while there was a mild leftover after-flavour of the terror along the left of my head and some parts of the left shoulder and upper-arm. But over all I felt calm. Actually for the first time in quite a few days.

After that I did some walking meditation outdoors and meditated for a short while on a park bench. Nothing eventful, felt calm. Almost fell asleep on the bench.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Sit #1 (1hr - 15mins).This was a very good sit. It began as a standard sit, None of yesterday’s unsettledness. Some touch, little hear. After a while (maybe half way through), I automatically started focusing on and noting the pressure between my eyebrows.  This comes up in every sit but this time, the attention automatically focused on it. Then I used this as the focus and noted hear, think and emotions (usually leading from think). This went on for a while. Then I realized that every new sensation/thought, I seem to notice is very clearly while it stays until it goes or my attention moves to another sensation/thought. That this staying is a better and continuous form of noting. After a short while, I felt sensations on the top of my head, tingling along the body, some generalized brightness  along my eyelids (no external source of light). This was accompanied with a sense of joy. This overall state stayed until the end of the sit. I continued noting while this was ongoing. 


Later sits:
The second sit was quite the antithesis with the whole gamut of negative emotions popping up.
Overall, later sits were not so good. There was quite a bit of forgetting and chatter. I tried recreating the “general feel” of the first sit but it didn’t work. At one time I had a song in my head and I felt that I could be very focused on the song and be entirely mindful through out the playing of the song. So I tried prolonging the song and it worked. But then I realized this is equivalent to chanting a mantra and not Mahasi noting. Toward the end I noticed that at time, my attention would get a focused quality while attending to touch. And it would shift from touch in one area to another and I while I did not control of the movement, I could notice it was about to start. This lasted for a short time. But then it was over as well.

I can see why people go to retreats. It is tough keeping this up by oneself especially when inexperienced, what with all the variability in quality of sits, frustration, doubt and all kinds of negative emotions that show up.

Tomorrow is the 10th day and this has been like anything but a retreat. I still have some time off. Maybe I can stretch this into mornings for a week more.
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Good job Sameer. You survived your first solo retreat without going crazy! emoticon

It's important to remember that there really is no such thing as a bad sit. Clinging to the pleasantness of the "good" sits is what creates the resistance to the "bad" sits.

The fact that you were able to keep this up by yourself speaks a lot to your determination and resourcefulness. Looking forward to hearing more about your practice. 
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Thank you agnostic. I survived, barely. There were times when I came close to losing it. Shargrol had pointed it out beforehand in a couple of posts and I must thank him for the pre-warnings and the advice to back off. I backed off often!

How true that “Clinging to the pleasantness of the "good" sits is what creates the resistance to the "bad" sits.”.  But somehow, during the sit, one tends to forget. And even when one remembers, it is another thing to implement the insight.
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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The trick is - instead of focusing on the goodness and badness of the sits, focus on the feelings of clinging and resistance. When you have a "bad" sit, try to find where in your body you are pushing away and ignoring the experience. When you have a "good" sit, see how you try to hold onto and fixate on the experience. If you can let go of the resistance and clinging then the feelings of badness pass faster and the feelings of goodness actually increase before also passing away. Either way, you end up in equanimity faster, which is where good things tend to happen ...
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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You may also notice that most sits have a mix of both pleasant and unpleasant feelings, meaning that you are simultaneously pulling and pushing, which tends to cause stasis. Again, if you can accept this then things tend to flow more easily. emoticon
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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At some point you start to realize that pleasure-pain and clinging-resistance are the same thing. Check out MN 44:

"In what way is pleasant feeling pleasant, lady, and in what way painful?"

"Pleasant feeling is pleasant in remaining, & painful in changing, friend Visakha. Painful feeling is painful in remaining & pleasant in changing. Neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is pleasant in occurring together with knowledge, and painful in occurring without knowledge."


"What obsession gets obsessed with pleasant feeling? What obsession gets obsessed with painful feeling? What obsession gets obsessed with neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"

"Passion-obsession gets obsessed with pleasant feeling. Resistance-obsession gets obsessed with painful feeling. Ignorance-obsession gets obsessed with neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling."

"Does passion-obsession get obsessed with all pleasant feeling? Does resistance-obsession get obsessed with all painful feeling? Does ignorance-obsession get obsessed with all neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"

"No..."

"But what is to be abandoned with regard to pleasant feeling? What is to be abandoned with regard to painful feeling? What is to be abandoned with regard to neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"

"Passion-obsession is to be abandoned with regard to pleasant feeling. Resistance-obsession is to be abandoned with regard to painful feeling. Ignorance-obsession is to be abandoned with regard to neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling."

shargrol, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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wow, that's a great sutta passage. I haven't seen that before.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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@agnostic:
There is a lot to unpack here in terms of technique, strategy and insight (in increasing order of profundity). Especially the dialogue with Vishakha. I am pretty sure I am going to revisit this passage often. Thank you very much!

So far I had thought of clinging to good meditation/feelings, and aversion to the apposite, merely as recognizing the three characteristics. But now there is a new angle to follow. Its execution I am sure is going to be some time to master.

Log;
Two sits so far this morning. Tried agnostic’s suggestion of looking for clinging and aversion. Don’t know if this is my suggestibility but I think I got glimpses of what he is saying (locating where the aversion is pushing and the clinging is expressing) once or twice. I cannot claim to have found the location but I found the act of trying to locate aversion already mitigates some of the badness.

The sits are getting slightly double edged. On the one hand I seem to notice a few more things, on the other, newly noted things seem to lead to more thinking (overthinking perhaps?) and mind wandering.  Overall I seem to have lost the somewhat heightened ability to focus on noting diligently I had developed in my earlier sits. Maybe time to revisit the basics.

Later Sits:
Is it really so powerful am I such a suggestible person? In my recent sits whenever I remembered to look for where the aversion is pushing back, though I never quite figured out where, there was a lessening of whatever negativity I was undergoing.

I have mentioned in my earlier reports that every once in a while I enter a phase where the attention focuses on a physical sensation and slowly moves between different physical sensations. For the first time today, this happened across modalities. Lasted a few minutes but was very satisfying and completely unexpected.

Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Took a one day break yesterday. It was surprisingly relaxing.

From now on I plan on doing an hr long sit every day (first thing in the morning) and edit my posts daily for one week, posting new entries every week. This way I will both stay true and not clutter the log.

14-Dec-20
1 hr 15 mins sit. Very calm. Low on noting frequency, but stayed with sensations longer. I noticed that I seemed to automatically alternate between focused noting and staying with the sensation. The  staying with happened more for mental talk than physical touch. I also noticed that noting “seeing”, “hearing” “feeling” etc. works better than noting “see”, “hear”, “feel” in terms of remembering and avoiding forgetting. It probably will hinder noting speed in the future. But I will worry about that later.


15-Dec-20  1hr:
Trying to speed up noting. Seems to cause (unsurprisingly) a slightly edgy state. Since I am doing only one daily sit now, will probably pursue this. Caught myself thinking about the “Vishakha sutra” from agnostic’s post above.


16/17/18/19-Dec-20  1hr-15mins:

Last three sits have been similar in the sense that there is a lot of mental talk and emotion that leads to anger, frustration, resentment. I see familiar topics that come up and thought patterns down to imagined conversations that repeat. Last two times I actually gave up just a few minutes before the timer went off due to the intensity of the emotions.
However, today’s (18th) session was different at the end. At some point of time, the boiling negative emotions just sort of gave way and there was a general sense of calm. The frequency and intensity of thoughts reduced and reactions to the thoughts were minimal. Noting got better.

One weird consistent issue I have is that noting aloud almost immediately leads to incessant yawning. And this leads to mind wandering. Yes. I have tried (and will keep trying) all kinds of noting hacks to ensure I stay on track but something about yawning means no matter how much I am pre-warned and try to remind myself, anticipate, have a plan of action (put your advice in here), I always lose track of noting and get into mind wandering for prolonged periods. 

So I am forced to note silently. And somehow, I notice that I am making slow progress in remembering to continue silent noting or reduce time spent in forgetting and reduce resulting frustration (noting all along).


Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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21-Dec-2020 1hr-15 mins:

I decided to try a different tack. Keep eyes open (choose a spot to fix the gaze on) and note aloud.

This definitely reduces mind wandering, specifically for two reasons. First is that when I note a body-sensation (itch tightness etc.) with my eyes closed, my eyes actually get drawn to that location with the attention even though I might not be seeing anyhting particularly. Eventually this leads to mind wandering. On the other hand if I keep bringing back my gaze to the visual object, I am constantly reseting.  But this constant resetting is a bit exhausting as it is so different from the usual behaviour. But then I think that this constant reseting is probably what leads to the affects of and progress due to Mahasi noting meditation.
The second cause of reduction in mind wandering is of course that by noting aloud I am also directing “talk-attention” to the noting and that interrupts thoughts (I note "thinking"). Again, this gets exhausting but I am now thinking that is the whole point.

About my noting, there are two ways to note. Keep things minimal vs. be descriptive. By that I mean note “touch” instead of itch on nose. I have also realized that being specific leads to more mind wandering but not being specific leads to “dissatisfaction” as in constantly feeling that I am making everything too simplistic. For example I might feel itch on the nose followed by tingling on the hands, then coolness there, then tighness in back, general feel of cloth along arms and so on. But I will note all that as "touch".  I am not sure what is the best way to proceed but will try staying simplistic for now and ad complexity as noting constancy improves. 

Actually there is a third thing I noticed. When I take a break from open eyed loud noting and shut my eyes and do silent noting there is a surge of feeling good (dropping all that effort). But there is also a feeling that I can actually notice more things as less of my attnetion is focused on noting and on the visual object. It feels good but is probably a trap because 
soon the mind wandering sets in. 

So now I think I am going to try eyes open and aloud noting for the next couple of weeks. I might reduce the length of my sits  from the one hour and increase the number to two (morning and evening).  Let me see what schedule is sustainable and gives best progress. Today’s sit was quite “broken” and went past the hour but not to the full set time.

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Bardo, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 259 Join Date: 9/14/19 Recent Posts
Sameer:
21-Dec-2020 1hr-15 mins:

I decided to try a different tack. Keep eyes open (choose a spot to fix the gaze on) and note aloud.

This definitely reduces mind wandering, specifically for two reasons. First is that when I note a body-sensation (itch tightness etc.) with my eyes closed, my eyes actually get drawn to that location with the attention even though I might not be seeing anyhting particularly. Eventually this leads to mind wandering. On the other hand if I keep bringing back my gaze to the visual object, I am constantly reseting.  But this constant resetting is a bit exhausting as it is so different from the usual behaviour. But then I think that this constant reseting is probably what leads to the affects of and progress due to Mahasi noting meditation.
The second cause of reduction in mind wandering is of course that by noting aloud I am also directing “talk-attention” to the noting and that interrupts thoughts (I note "thinking"). Again, this gets exhausting but I am now thinking that is the whole point.



It is often the case that the thinking mind takes a good slogging from these practices by its very own neurotic tendencies. Consistent observation of those things to be noted eventually result in their loss of real-world meaning - the perception aggregate strains under the pressure. We can see this right here and now. If you repeat a meaningful word over and over, eventually you'll discover that you have to make an effort to even sound off the syllables of that word and there it loses its meaning. In the noting practice focus is on the entire human condition (all sense organs) and this loss of meaning can translate as exhaustion to the mind because meaning (name and form) is what energizes its movement.

Progress means not that you lose the capacity to interface with the world by way of recognizing the particulars of our environment through language, but more that the language itself is seen as not containing anything sustainable but instead is a faculty of the mind and ear consciousnesses of which are just counterparts of all other six-sense perceptions. 

Noting then shifts from this meaninglessness to higher degrees of understanding but one is likely to enter some difficult periods in the interims. In the Progress of Insight these are generally referred to as Dissolution, Fear, Misery and so on but this is not a given.

The mind seeks meaning elsewhere, but here we are training it to not find that meaning in name and form. Doing so will subject the mind to more cycling, births and deaths or whatever. 

Best wishes
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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"Noting then shifts from this meaninglessness to higher degrees of understanding but one is likely to enter some difficult periods in the interims. ....

The mind seeks meaning elsewhere, but here we are training it to not find that meaning in name and form. .."

Bardo, Thank you for the observations  in the statements included above.  I am looking forward to the realization/manifestation of this in my practice.
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Sameer:
Actually there is a third thing I noticed. When I take a break from open eyed loud noting and shut my eyes and do silent noting there is a surge of feeling good (dropping all that effort). But there is also a feeling that I can actually notice more things as less of my attnetion is focused on noting and on the visual object. It feels good but is probably a trap because soon the mind wandering sets in. 

Yes and no. Feeling good can definitely result from concentrating the mind, whether you like it or not! Resistance to feeling good is actually a subtle form of aversion (maybe we feel like we don't deserve it). Feeling good is ultimately a trap (golden chains), but it can be a useful halfway house while we wean ourselves off whatever else we might be feeding on in our lives.
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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I also notice some aversion to mind wandering! Sometimes the mind might be trying to tell us something and it can be useful to watch where it takes us. Some of the tiredness you feel might be a result of resistance to this.

I don't mean to throw you off your noting practice. Precise noting of all sense objects at all sense doors is a powerful practice. But at some point things can broaden out a little so I'm just planting a couple of flags out there.

(Sorry for the multiple posts, some kind of glitch in the system at the moment.)
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Feeling good:
Yes, feeling good is important but I want to make it on purpose rather than slip into it (unless of course it is from A&P etc. :-), and even then, the intention is to note away).  I have just started ending all sessions with 5 extra minutes spent implementing Shinzen’s feel good technique. This is primarily to counter the raciness resulting from the noting practice. 

Mind Wandering:The fact of the matter is that currently when I start silentl noting, I tend to get lost in thoughts. I am hoping that by improving my noting concentration, I will be better able to actually follow them. But then too, I intend to limit this following of thoughts as I want to separate psychotherapy from classical awakening. 

Basically I have taken to heart the following adage “The relentless application of noting to all available sensations leads to the quickest possible SE”.


Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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I'm a fan of tacking on some time to generate positive feelings after the bell, as well. The mind is in its most cooperative state at the end of a sit, and it's a shame not to take advantage of that.
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Sameer:

Basically I have taken to heart the following adage “The relentless application of noting to all available sensations leads to the quickest possible SE”.


I think that's right. Onwards!
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 30 Join Date: 12/2/20 Recent Posts
Todays' session (1hr) was different and fruitful.

As decided yesterday, I started noting aloud with my eyes open and gazing at a fixed point. To start, I only noted "see", "hear" and "touch/feel" (later, as I notices less forgetting, I got a bit more descriptive). The frequency was about once per second. As usual, noting aloud meant sustained and strong yawning ensued almost immediately. No big deal, we know what to do; note "yawning". If feeling fed up with the yawning, not as much. Note aversion, note "wishing this would stop". After a while, I started noting the beginning of the yawn. This meant in two out of three instances, the yawn was heavily attenuated!

For the first time in my noting practice, I basically stayed with noting for some 15 minutes straight (I got curious and checked). Next I tried the exact opposite, close the eyes and note silently. This immediately led to thinking, mental talk and forgetting. But funnily within a short time (1 minute?) I  automatically detected the forgetting and started noting (silently) again. This followed for a bit: forget, realize rather quickly that I have forgotten and then note again.

Then I realized I had stopped noting though I was still paying attention. So I went back to eyes open, aloud noting. After a while of stabilizing my noting attention (another 10-15 minutes?), I tried closing my eyes and noting silently again. As during the first switch, after initial forgettng, I was back to noting and got good at detecting possible forgetting and avoiding the forgetting!. This time though, there was a change in the experience of noting. I started noting whole body sensations of "touch". Even when these sensations were at a location, I was perceiving it while still being aware of the rest of the whole body. There was a fairly sustained feeling of warmth throuhgout the torso. And at times instead of feeling an "itch at the tip of the nose" I started feeling an itch at the same place the tip of the nose is! Also, as noting thought became sustained, that there was the same feeling about the thought; there are these thoughts and they can be seen/heard. 

Also noticed a few intances of clinging and aversion (thank you "agnostic"). I am still amazed that looking for the location of the aversion reduces the unpleasantness of unpleasant sensations!

So I am going to do the same for the next couple of weeks (start with eyes open and note aloud, proceed to eyes closed and silent noting. Repeat one more cycle and go for an hour long session) and see if I can repeat (and improve upon) today's performance. If yes, this is a great way to solidify attention to noting. And then maybe, just maybe, I am finally making some good progress.
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 2388 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
emoticon

Hi Sameer, and my apologies for coming in late to this feast! Thank you for sharing this log here. and what great work. that retreat of yours (including finding the edge of sustainability, in the energized state, and having the prudence to ease off enough to sit another day) is just beautiful, like a learning module, and very inspiring as an example of what can be done on a self-directed retreat. Especially with Shargrol as the catcher in the rye, lol.

It doesn't seem broke in your strong practice right now, and I'm sure not going to mess with you on a good roll. Just wanted to say hi, and to thank you for this gift, and to say I'm following your journey here with great interest.

love, tim
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Tim, Thank you, I will take a bow to that! emoticon emoticon

Today's session (1 hr) was a bit like yesterday's. I did as I planned and almost seemed to retrace my actions and experience of yesterday.  Though I approached with a bit more expectations so that it felt relatively flat.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 30 Join Date: 12/2/20 Recent Posts
24-27 Dec. 
I am continuing with eyes open aloud noting (1hr/45 mins daily sits). Mostly note see out (with see-in interspersed) and touch. With time, I see myself noting some more mental talk/thinking. The good thing about this kind of noting for me is that there is very little forgetting.  During my sits I try to include some eyes closed silent noting with the idea of catching more hear/talk. This is getting better as well but there is some forgetting after which I revert to eyes open noting. I got to admit that eyes closed noting is more "interesting", but that is not what we are here for. 
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Sameer:
Also noticed a few intances of clinging and aversion (thank you "agnostic"). I am still amazed that looking for the location of the aversion reduces the unpleasantness of unpleasant sensations!

In case you're interested, this is the middle link of dependent origination (feeling -> craving -> clinging), so the suggestion is "by the book" as it were. A good reference is SN 12.44 Loka Sutta (The World Sutta):

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.44/en/sujato
Mike Smirnoff, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 181 Join Date: 2/6/20 Recent Posts
Hi Sameer,

Considering you're a new member, let me offer a bit of unsolicited advice.

I'm assuming you're interested in trying/following the Ingram system. In that case, you will come across people on this website who will offer good advice, and likewise, you will come across people on this website, who are trolls, and those, who will offer bad advice.

Figure out who is which -- those who offer advice -- see the kind of posts they have written in the past for example -- and make a judgement call on who you want to listen to.

And maybe you already know this -- in which case, feel free to consider me a troll & ignore me!


Mike.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Thank you Mike for the heads-up. This kind of stuff will be always present in public message boards. I take your post as well meant.The biggest reason for posting here is to maintain a daily habit. Though I have to admit that I found some of the responses I read here were very helpful with my meditation.
Mike Smirnoff, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 181 Join Date: 2/6/20 Recent Posts
Great you found some of the responses useful!
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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"Figure out who is which -- those who offer advice -- see the kind of posts they have written in the past for example -- and make a judgement call on who you want to listen to."

This is so confusing mate! If I was the OP just starting my journey here I would feel uncertain, in doubt and this would be a hindrance. 

I do get what you write but please be more Direct and call out those by name , those who might be spreading false Dhamma or false teaching! 
Be that me or anyone else. Make your case. 

Otherwise this will only cause paranoia within this community where people should rather be focused on their practice. 
Mike Smirnoff, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Don't see any need to call out names. I was just giving him a general warning to be careful.
People should be focused on their practice yes. But they can do that keeping their eyes open.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Mike Smirnoff:
Don't see any need to call out names. I was just giving him a general warning to be careful.
People should be focused on their practice yes. But they can do that keeping their eyes open.
For example I have done and said all sorts of stuff in the past (genraly speaking about my life) which I would not do or say today. Judging someone for something said in the past makes not much sense unless they say the same today. 
Views change. 


EDIT this first sentence emoticon was harsh sorry emoticon 
I will call you out for spreading doubt in this community. I have faith that if I or anyone else is to say stuff which is unwholesome and of no benefit, that someone will point that out, which then can be discussed in public.
Mike Smirnoff, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 181 Join Date: 2/6/20 Recent Posts
I have to say a community would have to be pretty weak if a statement like the one I made would spread doubts in the community. Feel free to call me out for spreading doubts in the community and let the moderator speak. I'm happy with harsh statements. I however think, your calling out is not harsh, it's stupid.

It's basic advice: figure out who you listen to -- offered to a new comer. And note: I also said, some people give good advice (and others who give bad advice). And since people change as you yourself say, all the more reason that I don't give out names and only say, figure out who you listen to. And still it's a good idea to go by what people have said in the past to see whether you want to trust them or not. Feel free to ask the Buddha.

It's you who seems to be getting paranoid. Anyway, if you have a problem, let the moderator talk. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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"Feel free to ask the Buddha"

and who did the Buddha ask? Surely not a person dead for 2500 years emoticon Yes, Im stupid (thats old news). 

You still keep pushing this abstract notion of not trusting "some poeple" here. You being so secretive about them make me think if this community is inflitrated with Illuminati or some other secret society trying to lead new members astrey emoticon 

Be well friend emoticon peace emoticon 
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 2388 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Come on, guys. This is Sameer's practice log. Let's stipulate that nobody has fucked him up beyond repair so far, and let the guy get on with his practice.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Yes emoticon my bad. My apologies to Sameer! 
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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Tim Farrington:
Come on, guys. This is Sameer's practice log. Let's stipulate that nobody has fucked him up beyond repair so far, and let the guy get on with his practice.

Tim, I thought your comment was a bit too general and hopeful. Please see a more accurate version below emoticon

"... Let's stipulate that nobody has fucked him up beyond repair so far on this message board, and let the guy get on with his practice...."
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

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emoticon

Sameer

Tim, I thought your comment was a bit too general and hopeful. Please see a more accurate version below emoticon

"... Let's stipulate that nobody has fucked him up beyond repair so far on this message board, and let the guy get on with his practice...."

lol, yes, "as is." Like all of us, my friend.
Sameer, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 30 Join Date: 12/2/20 Recent Posts
28-Dec: I am now doing 45 mins sits followed by 5-10 mins of feeling good.
Eyes open aloud noting (EOAN) is improving both in terms of avoiding forgetting and in terms of variety and frequency of sensations noted. I am beginning to note thoughts without getting lost in the content that much while doing EOAN and also note some emotions related to the thoughts. I tried eyes-shut silent-noting and stayed with the noting of mental dialogue much better than in the past.
Sameer, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 30 Join Date: 12/2/20 Recent Posts
Started the sit with EOAN. Felt that the progress, in the sense that I can note more than just "see" and "touch" and start noting "hear-in" and some emotion, seems to be continuing. After say 10-15 minutes I started eyes shut silent noting (ESSN) a chance to see how far I can go without forgetting. I am happy to say that I could go or most of my sit with little forgetting compared to where I was about a week or two ago. There was more forgetting as time progressed but the trend is in the right direction.
As always, transition from EOAN to ESSN resulted in some very good body-feel. 

I want to be able to note not only physical sensations but also the mental imprints following each. And I think this is most easily available by following thoughts (hear-in). Hence my singleminded emphasis on improving noting concentration and then turning to mental dialogue during my sits.
Sameer, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Sameer's practice log

Posts: 30 Join Date: 12/2/20 Recent Posts

Happy New Year to all.

EOAN: Eyes closed aloud noting
ECSN: Eyes closed silent noting


Started my daily sit as an EOAN session. My noting keeps steadily improving and I am trying to note more of the emotional feelings/sensations between see-hear-talk. I am also trying to concentrate on“talk” (thought) and subsequent emotional sensation. So far I have been keeping the noting at once per second but in todays’ sit, I found after a while my noting automatically sped up quite dramatically. Not only was I jumping between noting different modalities and in the case of “touch” different locations, but at times, the same “touch” at the same locations was noted distinctly in sequence. I suspect that means I missed an interveneing sensation, but that'sok for now.

At sometime I decided to see what happens with ECSN. There was an immediate forgetting. And it was tough to remember. Finally I realized that with EOAN, I am anchoring my sight to an external spot (I use a small rock) and that I should anchor on something; my breath. That turned out to be a very good experience. Soon I was noting fast again. There was a general sense of heightened pleasure, some brightness and some really strong visual processes, almost felt like hallucinations. I could stay with noting thought, noting my current sensation and my ration to it (mostly excitement at the new facility).

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