Tommy M - Practice Log

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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
I figured it was time to start a practice log on here again, after having been away from the site for far too long. I'll add a bit of background for context and to try to lay out how my own practice has gone over the last 11 years, and also give some details as to what my current practice and baseline looks like. My old posts are still on the site and under the same name, so you can see my previous practice, claims to attainments and how many times I've been very, very wrong. emoticon

Background

I believe I landed Stream Entry in 2009, which was what brought me to Daniel's book and this site. From there, I became a hardcore vipassana practitioner - on and off the cushion - for around four years, during which time I claimed 2nd, 3rd and 4th Path; claims which I have since abandoned for various reasons.

Beyond 1st Path, I can't be certain and so simply don't make any claims to anything any more. I know this is contrary to a lot of what's discussed on here and the open, self-diagnosed claims made by many, but unless it's confirmed by an external, genuinely realized practitioner who you've spoken to face-to-face, then I tend to be very skeptical.

It's far too easy to get caught up in ones own "spiritual pride" and get into competitiveness over attainment, so it's just easier for me to step away from those sort of self-diagnosed claims entirely. If the insights, phenomenology and access to various states I describe align with x, y or z then that's great, but the most important thing to me is practice with one goal and one goal only: Assisting in the liberation of all sentient beings from habitual rebirth.

Current Baseline

Around six months ago, my baseline became fully non-dual and has remained stable ever since. I should probably give more phenomenological detail on this for clarity, because there's considerable nuance to it that the phrase "non-dual" doesn't really convey. Much of this didn't happen instantly and that shift seems to have set in motion an ongoing process of refinement. Excuse my verbal clumsiness here, this gets super subtle and dualistic language doesn't do us any favours either...

  • A sense of embodiment and presence in the immediacy of 'now', which has made me much more engaged, present and attentive to the needs of others. This was something that those around me noticed immediately and couldn't quite understand for a while. Having your own parents tell you that you've become a completely different person (in a good way) was the first indicator that something had changed, not just 'internally' but in terms of how this bodymind relates to, and interacts with the world.

  • Any sense of self-in-relation-to-other has gone, replaced by a blissful recognition of appearances as reflection of mind. This in turn has led to much deeper, automatically arising feelings of compassion, empathy and friendliness towards all, since they no longer seem to be anything separate from this bodymind. This isn't the same as the dissolution of the illusory self as an independently existing phenomena, it's much more subtle and can probably be best conceptualized as the direct experiencing of the emptiness of all conditioned phenomena; not just the emptiness/dependant origination of human beings, but the complete lack of independent existence of all things, from top to bottom.

  • What were perceived as external objects in, for example, the visual field - positively sizzling with presence and energy on their own side before - are experienced directly and in a very simple way as the suchness of appearance itself. Related to this, the sense doors operate on their own, without the same contractions involved in the imputation of one-who-senses; the Bahiya Sutta conveys this aspect much better than I could. This has stilled the mind in ways I only ever glimpsed before.

  • Emotions still arise, but the experiencing of them has an almost vapour-like quality to it. I would characterize them as being like water lillies; their appearance is vivid and colourful on the surface, but their roots seem to just dangle, almost as if they're being pulled out of the stillness of the water when recognized, but without causing any ripples. Related to this, there is still cycling through the ñanas and I hit an A&P-like thing a few nights ago through lucid dream practice, but again it's experienced in a very different, less impactful way than before and with quiet confidence in its transience and inability to have the same feelings of importance.

  • Mental activity is a strange one to describe because all of the same sorts of cognitive processes still run just fine, but something has changed that I can't quite put my finger on. Since that major shift in baseline, the last few months have felt like an ongoing process of recognition/uprooting of layers of subtle clinging that were never even perceivable before. The vast majority of my practice at the moment revolves around "mind stuff", and exploring that in the context of lucid dreaming in particular.

These are just a few of the things that I thought were noteworthy and that may provide helpful pointers to others in their own practice. There is nothing spectacular about any of this, it's so ridiculously simple that I need to make it clear just how beautifully uneventful things are. No big fireworks, no peaks or troughs, just a warm, blissful, steady glow and sense of deep gratitude that changed the way this mind works.

This has all been tested in the forge of reality repeatedly, and by circumstances that would have previously destroyed me. Since it happened, I've gotten out of the cycle of relationships and seeking external validation that messed me up for years, I've quit a 20+ year smoking habit, ended a heavy addiction to painkillers, stopped taking SSRI's and have become a very different, much happier person than who I was before.

Current Practice

For the last 12 months, my practice revolved around a balance of samatha and vipassana, tonglen, cultivation of Bodhicitta and the Four Immeasurables. Tonglen, Bodhicitta and the Four Immeasurables - aside from being a great name for a band - are what I believe to have been instrumental in bringing about this most recent shift in baseline. Without the visceral and often heartbreaking experiences gained through sincere application of those practices, I don't believe that I would be where I am right now. I don't even just mean in terms of baseline, I actually believe those practices saved me from a very dark place and that is not even remotely hyperbolic.

Prior to that, I had been practicing Tummo with some regularity and it was experiences gained there that led me to the other three, life-changing practices. I won't go into too much detail as it's hard to describe phenomenologically, but that inner fire burned through a lot of stuff that I hadn't dealt with and opened my heart in a way that made the other practices possible. For various reasons, I decided to go back to scratch with the energetic practices and try to properly learn the basics, like the Nine Breathings of Purification, visualization of the channels, basic Tsa Lung and have started studying Trul Khor more seriously via "Yantra Yoga" by the late, great Chögyal Namkai Norbu.

Lucid dreaming has become an important part of my practice in recent weeks, and there have been a few eye-opening experiences that have caused me to take it even more seriously. The same applies to open-eyed practices, such as concentration states where the mental movements alluded to earlier can be seen more clearly sans one-who-sees.

Something I almost wasn't going to mention has been, what I can only describe as being a sort of impromptu deity yoga. A few years back, I developed a strong connection to Amitabha, seemingly from out of nowhere and began using his mantra almost constantly. It's hard to give details on this as it's a very personal thing, but in some sense Amitabha became a guru-like figure to me and brought me great comfort and strength during very difficult times. It's due to that connection and a visionary experience relating to his Buddha-field that I fully committed to the Bodhisattva Vows, and dedicated my life to this thing. I can barely even write this down without welling up because of the strength of my devotion to him, which might sound odd to some, but I thought I should mention it because it's been so important in directing my practice.

A lot of these practices don't seem to be commonly discussed here, so I wanted to start this thread in an attempt to get more phenomenological descriptions out there and open up the conversation regarding more advanced practices beyond straight-up vipassana.

So, preamble over...I'll stick to posting about practice itself from here on out!
Sam Gentile, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 1072 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Tommy,

I am so happy to see you open this practice log for several reasons. The first, is that reading your writings you speak from your experience and you really know your stuff. I hope to learn a lot from you! Second, although is not my current practice, I have been taught Diety Yoga, Lucid Dreaming and other Vajrayana teachings by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. My exposure is quite limted so I would love to see these topics and the others you mention brought up here. Thanks
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Cheers Sam!

My own practice feels like it's at a point where I need to find a teacher, but until then I'm going to continue doing what's worked for me so far, and try to share phenomenological descriptions that others might find helpful. I don't consider myself to be anything other than a beginner, even though I might write in a way that implies otherwise. I have very little knowledge of the scriptural side of things, so I always try to make it clear that these descriptions are purely practice-based, and that I'm open to being corrected at any point. 
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
I spent more time writing the intro to this practice log than I normally would on here, so I didn't get to sleep until after midnight compared to my usual bedtime of around 9pm. Due to this, I pretty much instantly crashed out and so didn't follow my usual practice of mantra recitation leading up to sleep itself, but it seems there's been enough momentum from previous nights to lead to lucidity without setting the intention.

The procedure I normally follow is to recite the mantra of Amitabha until it runs by itself, kinda like spinning a wheel and then letting it go. This fully consumes the conceptual mind and frees up attention so that it can then be focused on observing the transition between waking and sleep. I didn't really get a handle on this properly until three nights ago when there was the very distinct experience of the mantra, and thus the conceptual mind dropping down into the heart chakra.

The best way to describe this is to imagine a long funnel-like shape - which seemed to be a deep black colour - wider at the top and increasingly narrowing as it comes closer to the heart. The mantra seemed to 'fall' into the funnel, taking with it any sense of waking consciousness and leaving what I can only really describe as a boundless blackness; not even darkness, but the complete cessation of dualistic perception itself.

I can't say how long this lasted, since any sense of time was also gone, but after a period there was a sense of something that I would characterize as being like an old-time film projector whirring into action. That was when the dream state arose, and I became conscious of being 'in' it in a way that's as real as waking up in the morning and getting out of bed. It's almost as if you're waking up again to this very familiar feeling, vivid reality that you never actually leave even in the waking state.

I haven't gotten into the classic practices of changing forms in the dream, or shrinking/growing any of the objects perceived yet. That'll come with further practice, but I have managed to do some of the funnier stuff we hear described. One of the main things that I find myself doing in lucid dreams is, not exactly flying, but jumping or bounding over insane distances. This usually involves a type of jumping and sort of pedalling through the air, kinda like how Luigi jumps in Super Mario Bros 2 on the NES. It's hilarious when it happens, and when I became aware of being able to do that consistently, that's when I felt like there was more to this sort of practice for me.

Related to this, I've noticed a very peculiar sense of remaining aware of the 'real world' while asleep. Like a sort of (excuse the phrasing here) dual-consciousness where I'm fully present in the dream state, but still aware of this body lying there, in this space, asleep and turning over, snoring, etc. This led to a very interesting A&P thing happening a few nights ago where my entire 'real' body became this buzzing, vibrating, zig-zagging energy, while a very distinctive sense of activation and alignment of all of the energetic centres occurred.

Maybe easier to think of in terms of Kundalini, but it had a very clear feminine, wisdom aspect to it that's hard to really describe. What made this even more interesting was that I got out of bed, went to the toilet and then came back to bed again with this pulsating, jagged but blissful energy flowing through me while I did so. The dream state was still running, but it was happening at the same time as the totally mundane action of taking a piss in the middle of the night.

Something in that experience led to a realization of why dream yoga is such a big deal in really penetrating the illusion of the world as an independently existent 'thing'. When you've experienced this with that level of clarity, the whole idea of seeing the dream-like nature of waking life becomes less of a practice and more of an ongoing actualization.

There wasn't anything especially noteworthy from last nights dreams, just a lot of personal stuff being presented in a sort of mythical/movie-like way that helped to unravel a few of my own issues and deal with them better.

As mentioned in the introduction, while things became fully non-dual there was a period afterwards of having a lot of psychological stuff bubbling up to the surface. It was after that shift that I began dropping a lot of unhelpful, unhealthy behaviours I'd cultivated over the preceding years, and that's something that's still ongoing so I have no illusion of being 'done' in any way. It's now more like having to deal with the very human stuff that's common to us all, burning off a lot of habitual patterning and slowly, sometimes painfully dealing with the consequences of the actions I've taken in life until now. I've made a lot of mistakes and hurt people through my selfish actions in the past, so the last two months in particular have been more directed towards trying to "right my wrongs", if that makes sense.

The emotions that arise from this are quite different and more visceral than emotions arising from the actions of others, but I'm still trying to develop a better way of talking about it in a practice context and even understanding it in the first place. It feels like leaning into the pain I've caused others is the way to go with this, and really embracing and bringing light to the shadow sides of myself that are still coded into this bodymind complex. Something like atonement, I suppose, for what I've done but without guilt, clinging or the self-loathing that characterized so much of my life so far.
 
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Steph S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 667 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
YASSSSS!!

I love all of this. It fills me with tons of joy to see how far you've come.
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Steph S:
YASSSSS!!

I love all of this. It fills me with tons of joy to see how far you've come.

Thanks, sis! emoticon Much to be done, of course, but I really appreciate your love and support.
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Noah D, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 1143 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Tommy:
I didn't really get a handle on this properly until three nights ago when there was the very distinct experience of the mantra, and thus the conceptual mind dropping down into the heart chakra.

The best way to describe this is to imagine a long funnel-like shape - which seemed to be a deep black colour - wider at the top and increasingly narrowing as it comes closer to the heart. The mantra seemed to 'fall' into the funnel, taking with it any sense of waking consciousness and leaving what I can only really describe as a boundless blackness; not even darkness, but the complete cessation of dualistic perception itself.

I can't say how long this lasted, since any sense of time was also gone, but after a period there was a sense of something that I would characterize as being like an old-time film projector whirring into action. That was when the dream state arose, and I became conscious of being 'in' it in a way that's as real as waking up in the morning and getting out of bed. It's almost as if you're waking up again to this very familiar feeling, vivid reality that you never actually leave even in the waking state.

This is exciting, sounds like clear light lucidity in dreamless sleep.  I have never had this experience but hope to some day.  I can do wake induced lucid dreams sometimes where I 'mix' awareness back into the dream & have a slice of waking metacognition.  Sounds similar to your experience with the dream portion of the night.  I haven't tried to practice consistently because I'm afraid of interrupting my sleep schedule but I can usually do it if I wake up naturally about an hour before my alarm.  When I do do it I can sometimes control the environment & even multiply myself but it doesn't have the full level of immersiveness/absorption into the environment that non lucid dreams do so it's sort of unsatisfying.  
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hello guys,

Tommy, great stuff, happy to hear about the positive impacts of your practice. Glad to have you here emoticon

I wanted to ask you (and Noah) about two specific things.

(1) What are the basics for practicing lucidity in sleep ?

I've come to a point where I feel like this is an important next step for me but haven't started diving into it properly at all and am very curious to hear your first hand tips.

(2) Can you both expand on the "Tummo practice allowed me to escape from being trapped in libido" bit ? 

What does that even mean, what is Tummo, .. ?

Cheers emoticon
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Olivier:
Hello guys,

Tommy, great stuff, happy to hear about the positive impacts of your practice. Glad to have you here emoticon

I wanted to ask you (and Noah) about two specific things.

(1) What are the basics for practicing lucidity in sleep ?

I've come to a point where I feel like this is an important next step for me but haven't started diving into it properly at all and am very curious to hear your first hand tips.

(2) Can you both expand on the "Tummo practice allowed me to escape from being trapped in libido" bit ? 

What does that even mean, what is Tummo, .. ?

Cheers emoticon

Cheers mate, I appreciate that!

1) Start with "Tibetan Yogas of Dream & Sleep" by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. He talks about this stuff with such simplicity that it's easy to miss the profundity, and he explains things in a very practical, down-to-earth way that I've found really helpful

As far as first hand tips, start by setting the intent before you sleep to experience lucidity. Keep a dream diary and scribble down whatever you can remember from the dream state as soon as you wake up. Don't worry about being too detailed or trying to capture the whole experience, just write down basic imagery, themes or feelings you noticed and reflect on those throughout the day. You'll find that you can actually remember huge amounts of your dreams via these triggers, and over time you'll be develop a near-perfect recall of the whole thing.

Something else that can be useful, if you've got free time during the day, is to have a "power nap" but see whether you can remain aware of the qualities of the sensations that arise as you doze off. As you get more familiar with how the bodymind feels as you're drifting off, you can then notice those same feelings as you fall asleep at night and that seems to release a lot of the clinging to those mental objects.

You'll become aware of a hypnagogic state that arises early in the process, but don't mistake it for the dream state itself because that's still very much tied to waking consciousness. Mental reverie and fantasy stuff bubbling up is all associated with that much lighter stage of the thing, so continually release any sense of attachment to that and you'll start to notice increasingly subtle layers.

2) Describing this is incredibly difficult because it's something you really need to experience to understand what's happening. There's a reason that a lot of metaphor and imagery is used in describing these sort of practices, because they take one beyond conceptuality via the willing-to-be/fabrication of experience. Personally, I'm not at a stage where I feel comfortable trying to get into the details because it's so completely different that I know my clumsy attempts to conceptualize it will lead to confusion. Not trying to be cryptic, I just really don't want to create confusion due to my own shortcomings and beginner level of practice.

Tummo/Heat Yoga/Fierce Fire is the first of the Six Yogas of Naropa and forms the basis for all of the other yogas. My working theory on it at the moment is that, through willing-to-be of experiences, one begins to see through the illusion of the bodily and mental fabrication, i.e. independently existing bodymind, but at much more subtle level than the penetration of "I" that's commonly discussed here. The further yogas, again in my working theory, train active imagination via visualization of deities, energetic channels, etc, so that one can fabricate experience and realize that even the most extravagant and mind-blowing visions are ultimately lacking in inherent existence. From there, the practices go beyond what I can reasonable describe or theorize because we get into practices beyond the senses, which is an odd phrase that only makes sense once identification with all of the sense doors dissolves and this non-dual-dualism of samsara is seen for what it is: Process.

There's a thread on here called "Dissection of the Advanced Stages of Mental Posturing" or something like that, where a guy who has considerable experience in this particular meta-path provides an unusual level of practical details. He provides a lot of very, very important caveats regarding getting into this stuff without rock-solid, reflexive control of attention and how it can lead to death if simply engaged in through intellectual curiosity. I still refer back to those posts now and continue to find layers and layers of deep, useful information that, at the time when I first read it, made pretty much no sense to me. The guy went by the name "Omega Point" and his posts caused a lot of friction because, aside from his extremely idiosyncratic way of writing, he's firmly in the wider vehicle practices, rather than the Hinayana-based models we tend to use on here. He also disclosed a lot of stuff that just isn't available online at all, and that required transmission to even start practicing so be aware that a lot of what he describes doesn't line up with what you may be familiar with at the moment.

That was eight years ago, and I still find new things every time I re-read that one post.

As for learning some basic practices relating to Tummo, there's a PDF on an old blog of mine called "Alaya Pragmatica" that's a compilation of a guys (Loco Austriaco) threads from Kenneth Folk's old site. He did Tummo for a short time and achieved some interesting results, but he gave up on the practice before any of the really interesting and powerful stuff started happening. It's an interesting read and gives a lot of good practical information, but there's a lot of stuff that, in retrospect and based on my own practices, lacks the depth found in the other posts.

After all this time, I'm now more inclined to advocate for starting off with preparatory practices like those found in "Awakening the Sacred Body" by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. I firmly believe that having hands-on, experiential knowledge of the absolute basics will make the more advanced practices much more potent and allow one to understand them in the context of the energetic systems. Dipping into advanced practices just to satisfy intellectual curiosity apparently makes certain higher-level attainments impossible, because you run the risk of seriously fucking with the rLung system through not being able to control the winds or direct them in the correct way.

There so much depth to this that I can barely even scratch the surface, but I would recommend getting transmission and direct teaching, as well as familiarizing yourself with the theory behind the rLung system and basic practices, before playing around with it. It's possible to experience some wild stuff that can screw your practice up and bring up a lot of deep psychological issues that you may not be ready to deal with, so please just tread carefully and get the appropriate foundations established before trying to get into it too deeply.

If you do some studying into this stuff, you'll begin to see why I'm so cautious about getting into specifics - which may well be complete misunderstandings on my part - and why I'm so concerned about avoiding confusion.

Also, I know you're an intellectual kinda guy so my previous recommendation to check out Elias Capriles and his writings might help to give you a clearer understanding than my clumsy attempts to put it into words.

Hope this helps! 
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi T,

Thanks for a detailed reply. I think I'm not even gonna start to get into the six yogas of naropa stuff which, as you said, I only asked out of intellectual curiosity ; it does not particularly strike a chord in me. Interesting, though, to learn what that is more preciely, as I recently read the life of milarepa, student of marpa, who brought naropa's teachings from india into medieval tibet. I was practicing the instructions in Clarifying the natural state at that time, which is the direct transmission of the mahamudra practices that marpa taught milarepa, too. Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, heir, a few centuries down the line, of milarepa's main student, Gampopa of Dakpo, states explicitly that his pointing out instructions in CTNS are the essence of all tantras and all mantras from india, including, I believe, the yogas of naropa. 

Btw, some of the statements in Clarifying the natural state, that buddhism in its essential aspect of being a vehicle designed to eradicate avidya, boils down to: "Once you have experienced and identified the natural state, train in keeping constant company, always recalling the presence of you original face (the natural state, the essence of mind, etc...)"... this is what has convinced me that essentially christian monks must be getting enlightened just the same, since they train in maintaining themselves in the presence of God at all times... And in that sense "god" is just an expedient, a metaphor, just like "essence of mind" is a conventional designation for something which is beyond ontological dichotomies. After I read all that in CTNS, I kept thinking of the monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery... My brothers !

And it's also what led to wanting to explore sleep practice !

Anyways...

I'll definitely look up the book reference for Dream Yoga, when the signs are present... emoticon

I am however checking out Capríles' stuff right now, and it's proving very interesting ! Thanks for the suggestion. Just as I thought, he equates avidya, ma-rigpa, ignorance, with the notion of aletheia, which is very important in the pre-Socratic philosophers like Heraclitus and a central concept in the philosophy of Heidegger (although HE is not realized and perhaps at thusness stage 1 :p)... Ever since reading Heraclitus and Parmenides, I was deeply convinced that these guys were talking about exactly what I was seeking, and that conviction hasn't left me...

There's another guy who's doing similar work of bridging Dzogchen and phenomenology/western philosophy, though his stuff is less academic in form : Rudy Bauer. 

Reading his stuff also further convinced me that the phenomenologists ALSO understand the basics of reality and the way to it, although they might not have gone all the way... 

For instance, Michel Henry.. This guy might well be at thusness stage 5, imo. I started doing a thesis work based on his philosophical writings, as a framework to approach spiritual practice, and in particular, buddhist meditation/dzogchen... His whole approach is based on the clearest delineation between sems and rigpa I have ever encountered, although it is not expressed in tibetan terms, and I haven't read much dzogchen literature :p

Cheers emoticon

Non minor edits
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Any time, my friend!

Btw, some of the statements in Clarifying the natural state, that buddhism in its essential aspect of being a vehicle designed to eradicate avidya, boils down to: "Once you have experienced and identified the natural state, train in keeping constant company, always recalling the presence of you original face (the natural state, the essence of mind, etc...)"... this is what has convinced me that essentially christian monks must be getting enlightened just the same, since they train in maintaining themselves in the presence of God at all times... And in that sense "god" is just an expedient, a metaphor, just like "essence of mind" is a conventional designation for something which is beyond ontological dichotomies. After I read all that in CTNS, I kept thinking of the monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery... My brothers !

I know my responses in that thread on realization in Buddhadharma etc. sounded like I was maybe rubbishing other systems. I actually really do have a deep love and respect for all of them, even going so far as trying (but failing!) to learn Greek, Hebrew and Arabic at one point while studying the systems in those languages. Like I've said, my whole background was mainly in the Western Mystery schools, Gurdjijeff and alchemy, so I really can see how it's difficult to distinguish the increasingly higher levels of realization involved and how they align with Buddhadharma.

Acharya Malcolm Smith, who's a highly realized practitioner and translator, does a much better job than I could ever hope in explaining how the nature of mind isn't merely a metaphor. Resting in the natural state is a whole practice in itself and one that can't be understood at all without direct experience, which is why I still draw a distinction between this and the whole practice of maintaining oneself in the presence of God, etc. As we both know already though, it's pointless to get into debating the minutiae of this 'cause we often end up talking past one another and it leads to unnecessary problems.

Instead, I hope that approaching things from your own perspective and instincts provides you with the answers you're looking for. Just because we may not agree on everything isn't a reflection of anything other than intellectual differences in understanding. As I've said, I'm not an intellectual and a lot of Capriles stuff still goes way over my head, but I did think that his mention of Heraclitus in particular might be of interest to you. I'm glad you've found it interesting so far, and I hope, as mentioned, that it may not just make our differences of opinion more clear, but also much where we likely share a mutual understanding.

For instance, Michel Henry.. This guy might well be at thusness stage 5, imo. I started doing a thesis work based on his philosophical writings, as a framework to approach spiritual practice, and in particular, buddhist meditation/dzogchen... His whole approach is based on the clearest delineation between sems and rigpa I have ever encountered, although it is not expressed in tibetan terms, and I haven't read much dzogchen literature :p


This is a great example of why it's really, really important to understand the terminology used in Dzochgen and how terms like sems and rigpa are used in a very specific way. The semantic fields of those words in Tibetan are wide and deep, and English translations can lack a lot of the nuance found in the native language. I used to wonder why Dzogchenpas always seemed to use these specific terms in their original language, but over time it's become clear to me that it's to ensure they aren't misunderstood and then associated with theistic terminology. That's a whole 'nutha subject though, but I very much appreciate your curiosity and willingness to dive deeper!

The Dharma Wheel forum, while very traditionalist and not as explicit as the DhO about a lot of stuff, can be a great source to help in understanding these sorts of terms. Also, if you use Reddit then it's well worth checking out the r/Dzogchen subreddit as there's some seriously high level practitioners on there who could probably address a lot of your questions. If you search posts by u/Krodha and u/BodhiYoga (who's still on retreat) on there, then you'll find some really good, well informed clarifications about terminology and how it's used in comparison with, for example, Advaita Vedanta. Also, check out some of Acharya Malcolm's videos on YouTube; his always entertaining rebuttals to this stuff can be very informative and often hilarious.
Will G, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 21 Join Date: 4/7/21 Recent Posts
Hey Olivier, any book recommendations for Michel Henry (I'd read them in french, particularly interested in any of his writings that make you think he has deep insight) and/or Rudy Baeur? Sounds interesting.

Really interesting log Tommy, look forward to reading more.

Thanks,
Will
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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This is exciting, sounds like clear light lucidity in dreamless sleep.  I have never had this experience but hope to some day.  I can do wake induced lucid dreams sometimes where I 'mix' awareness back into the dream & have a slice of waking metacognition.  Sounds similar to your experience with the dream portion of the night.  I haven't tried to practice consistently because I'm afraid of interrupting my sleep schedule but I can usually do it if I wake up naturally about an hour before my alarm.  When I do do it I can sometimes control the environment & even multiply myself but it doesn't have the full level of immersiveness/absorption into the environment that non lucid dreams do so it's sort of unsatisfying.

I've been playing around with lucid dreaming and astral projection stuff for years, but never really tried to use it as practice in a Buddhadharma context until I got into studying Vajrayana and the Tibetan practices of dream and sleep. I suspect that the years of previously playing around with it have probably created some sort of stability, like not being shocked by the lucidity and all the usual stuff that people encounter at first.

If you're able to get even a taste of that metacognition, then you're likely well on your way to being able to do much more with this. I can definitely relate to interrupting sleep schedules and that's something I'm working through at the moment. What I've found is that the sleeping may become lessened in terms of time, but it's just as refreshing and maybe even more so. I seem to need at least six hours of sleep each night or it starts interfering with my focus, so what you're talking about makes total sense to me and I have no doubt that some solid practice with this will help maintain that balance of rest and recovery.

The thing about clear light lucidity does seem to align in a really interesting way. I had previously thought I'd experienced the actual-clear-light in the past, but I was full of shit and now realize that it was more likely a base-of-all-related thing. I can definitely see how people become completely deluded by these increasingly subtle experiences; like identifying with the storeground consciousness and then vanishing up their arses and missing the trick! Again, this is why I feel it necessary to work with a teacher because I'm very much aware of the consequences of misinterpreting the non-actual-clear-light and I feel like I need to be able to get direct instruction on navigating this properly.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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I was about to ask what gave you the strength to deal with everything psychological that kept popping up for you, whether it was Amitabha or something else, and how to move forward when it's overwhelming. Then I got an immediate response from the universe. It showed me one first impulse that was not messed up at all in a situation where I would probably had a messed-up first impulse before. That's real freedom. 

I'm still interested in your input, though, if you want to share. 
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I was about to ask what gave you the strength to deal with everything psychological that kept popping up for you, whether it was Amitabha or something else, and how to move forward when it's overwhelming. Then I got an immediate response from the universe. It showed me one first impulse that was not messed up at all in a situation where I would probably had a messed-up first impulse before. That's real freedom. 

I'm still interested in your input, though, if you want to share. 

To be totally honest, it wasn't even psychological stuff. Without going into detail, I had some really hard situations to deal with involving loved ones and what they were going through at that time. A lot of very painful and difficult things happened where I realized that I was powerless to help them, no matter how much I wanted to or even tried.

Ultimately, it became a lesson in letting go and understanding that everyone has their own karma to deal with. All I could do was to have compassion and offer whatever support I could, and it was in cultivating that compassion that Amitabha had a very real role in helping me. From that, a deep sense of devotion to him arose and taking the Bodhisattva Vows seriously became a non-choice; it was what had to happen.

Now, the actual psychological stuff that's been coming up is much, much easier to deal with and I attribute it to Amitabha's guidance in those earlier problems.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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So letting go of the helplessness and all that accompanies it - overwhelm, guilt, shame, shoulds and shouldn'ts and so forth - first, and then the rest gets easier? Makes sense. 

I think I have a similar relationship to Avalokiteshvara/Chenrezig. 
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
So letting go of the helplessness and all that accompanies it - overwhelm, guilt, shame, shoulds and shouldn'ts and so forth - first, and then the rest gets easier? Makes sense. 

I think I have a similar relationship to Avalokiteshvara/Chenrezig. 

That's awesome and so beautiful that you feel tuned in to that level of wisdom and compassion. I love hearing more people talk about these sorts of relationships with Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. It makes it all so much more grounded and human!
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Noah D, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Thanks for sharing Tommy.  I practice tummo & jnanamudra (have received instructions & transmissions for both in traditional contexts).  I've found them to be really life changing so far.  The jnanamudra has helped open my heart by "freeing" me from being trapped in libido (which was a major obstacle for years) & doing both in sequence has just been such a wonder, to be able to experience exquisite bliss by using the body energy & not needing to cultivate perfect attentional stability to get there.  I do set the practice up with breath focus & other things but going past stage 4 of the elephant path using breath focus has eluded me, despite large volumes of quality effort for months at a time.  

I've also been around DhO/pragmatic dharma for a bit (since mid 2014) & have had a more recent deepening of faith in "traditional" Buddhadharma (since early 2019).  I've also had spontaneous deity yoga experiences (perhaps a bit like "scrying" - when you see things spontaneously & later find out they are details of sadhanas).  Interested to read more. 
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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I practice tummo & jnanamudra (have received instructions & transmissions for both in traditional contexts).  I've found them to be really life changing so far.

That's awesome, thanks for sharing your experience with this. I've never had any formal instruction, which was a big of part of going back to the absolute basics with this stuff and now seeking a teacher for proper transmission and instruction.

The jnanamudra has helped open my heart by "freeing" me from being trapped in libido (which was a major obstacle for years) & doing both in sequence has just been such a wonder, to be able to experience exquisite bliss by using the body energy & not needing to cultivate perfect attentional stability to get there.

The libido aspect is something that really resonates with me as I had the same issues for the longest time. It's very, very interesting that our experiences with that and the heart opening seem to sync up similarly, so I'm seriously grateful to you for sharing that.

I do set the practice up with breath focus & other things but going past stage 4 of the elephant path using breath focus has eluded me, despite large volumes of quality effort for months at a time.

I wasn't even aware of the elephant path as I never got into Mahamudra specifically, but that's due to lack of having a clue on my part! emoticon 

On looking at the visual map though, it makes a lot of sense and Dan Brown's name has been popping up with strange regularity, so I'll really need to check out more of his stuff.

I've also had spontaneous deity yoga experiences (perhaps a bit like "scrying" - when you see things spontaneously & later find out they are details of sadhanas).

This is veeeeerrrrryyyyy interesting and relevant to how things have played out here so far. I know I'd mentioned in another thread about not even wanting to try talking about this or the whole idea of receiving instruction in that way, but knowing that you've had similar experiences is incredibly reassuring. For a time, I genuinely wondered whether I was going crazy or something. Like, 'seeing' these practices sponteneously and then, weeks later, seeing them laid out plainly in paintings and the imagery in the tantras completely threw me for a loop. That's another big part of why I now feel like it's necessary for me to find a teacher and why I didn't want to even try to talk about it with anyone who hadn't described similar experiences. Hopefully you can understand why I was so guarded about it before, but I'm massively grateful that you've been so open here.
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Noah D, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Tommy:
For a time, I genuinely wondered whether I was going crazy or something. Like, 'seeing' these practices sponteneously and then, weeks later, seeing them laid out plainly in paintings and the imagery in the tantras completely threw me for a loop.

Yeah!  I think these experiences are pretty common with practitioners of tantra.  Like I saw a being pop up that had metal wings (amongst other details), eventually figured out this being seemed to be Vajrakilaya & then found the Dark Red Amulet commentary which lists metal wings amongs Vajrakilayas forms.
Hopefully you can understand why I was so guarded about it before, but I'm massively grateful that you've been so open here.

No worries, looking forward to talking more about it.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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What a great log start! I so look forward to reading it as you continue to update it. We seem to have a very similar approach to the practice. I have no doubt this will be a treasure for me as I try to integrate things. It is already super-helpful. And yeah, that would be an awesome name for a band, haha. 
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
What a great log start! I so look forward to reading it as you continue to update it. We seem to have a very similar approach to the practice. I have no doubt this will be a treasure for me as I try to integrate things. It is already super-helpful. And yeah, that would be an awesome name for a band, haha. 

Thank you! Reading your own posts struck many chords with me and I definitely think we're coming at this from a similar angle, so it's an absolute honour if every a few words can be helpful to you and I appreciate it massively.
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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I realized last night that my description of this most recent shift can't really be accurately called "non-dual". It's more like what I've heard Acharya Malcolm describe as "dualistic non-dualism" or words to that effect, which much more accurately reflects the very full and embodied aspects of the thing while not being separate from it. One of the big realizations that came with that shift was that, to speak of duality and non-duality is itself misleading because neither are found independently, which is what prompted me to switch "duality" for "polarity" when talking about stuff like feminine/masculine energies and all that good stuff.

It sounds paradoxical, but that's because making those distinctions is itself a misperception of the nature of the thing. In seeing it for yourself, that paradox is effortlessly resolved and it becomes much easier to understand why things like non-practice or effortlessness are stressed in a lot of traditions. It's often used as an excuse to be a lazy bastard and avoid getting into the hard work of establishing any level of mental equipoise, which itself is essential for most of us to even begin to engage with those types of practice in the first place.

I tend to do Four Immeasuables and Bodhicitta as a real-time practice rather than an exclusively on-the-cushion thing, because it feels much more engaged that way. What I've been doing with these practices lately though is trying to do some "visceral mapping", and identify specific areas of the body where these feelings arise. Trying to understand, experientially, how the chakras are connected to those feelings and feeling out better ways to really project them outwards like rays of light. Hard to describe, like so much of this stuff, but that's why I started this thread and wanted to see how others experience them, i.e. do we all share the same general patterns and, if so, how can we work towards joining everyone in this gigantic 'sending forth' of the Four Immeasurables into the world.
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Tommy M, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Quick update due to a thoroughly interesting synchronicity: I mentioned earlier in the thread to Noah that I had noticed Dr. Daniel Brown's name continually popping up. This was happening over maybe the last week or two, and I'd hear his name dropped during interviews and stuff like that. I wasn't at all familiar with his work or his background, so I watched a few clips tonight and there was an older interview where he was asked about non-duality. He gave a description that seems to very much align with what's happening here, and then basically confirmed that my intuitions about needing a teacher were correct:

"The out-there-ness goes away so thoroughly that there isn't a sense of out-there-ness anymore"

This was so startlingly accurate that I had to stop the video. He went on to say that this non-dual thing isn't awakening, which I had no illusion about anyhow hence my continual emphasis on just being a beginner, but then he said this:

"There are still operations of consciousness that need to be addressed with certain tehniques that will lead to awakening...that's where the relationship with the teachers comes in"

Obviously these statements apply to anyone with a serious, sincere desire for the liberation of all sentient beings, but in the context of my earlier comments and continued feelings about really needing a teacher to progress my practice - which, as someone who's always been a solo practitioner, never crossed my mind in any serious way until after that shift - it felt like the confirmation I'd been looking for.

Perhaps it's confirmation bias or maybe even just wishful thinking, but I've seen too much in recent months that has caused me to stop and listen to these sorts of synchronicities. I figured this was worth noting down for my own reference, and to perhaps encourage others to listen to their intuition when it comes to how their practice should be proceeding.

Super interesting, and I now have a total man-crush on Dr. Brown and want to be like him when I grow up...hahahaha!
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Tommy M, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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From Chökyi Drakpa's commentary on the Longchen Nyingtik Ngöndro:


Through the wisdom that comes from hearing, you are able to recognize the disturbing emotions.

Then through the wisdom that comes from reflection, you are able to overcome the disturbing emotions temporarily.

And finally, through the wisdom that comes through meditation you conquer completely the enemy of negative emotions, and obtain the confidence of the inexpressible wisdom of discriminating awareness.


Something that's become apparent is how important hearing is, and how it relates to the disturbing emotions in a very informative and practical way. The words in the quote above aren't referring to something abstract; it's a very human and physical thing. I'll give an example from my own experience from last night:

As mentioned, I'm working a lot more with dream yoga and so the process of falling asleep itself has become very important. I moved back in with my parents a few months ago after splitting with an ex, and there's a lot of construction work going on in the house. My dad has issues with his lungs, and the amount of dust in the house has been causing him a lot of problems at night and leading him to cough constantly.

As I was falling asleep, trying to maintain the mantra, all I could hear was him coughing loudly. Obviously he can't control this and it's not his fault that it's happening, but I still noted irritation coming up because it was distracting me. I would remind myself that he wasn't trying to distract me or anything, which would settle the irritation somewhat, but still that same irritation kept coming up. So, instead of allowing it to become anything more, I lay there and really felt the sensations involved in real-time.

What I noticed was that I could become aware of the 'gap' between the noise and the arising of distraction, so I continued to tune in to that and really stay with it. On closer inspection, the emotional part just floated off and all that was left was the space of awareness of where it had been. Continuing to hear the noises and paying attention to them brought about a very revealing insight into how anger and related negative feelings are often triggered by what we hear, rather than what we see, touch, smell, taste or think.

It seems to make sense to think that our thoughts themselves are why we feel these things, but if we pay attention to how these things arise in the first place we can see that it's actually connected to our internal dialogue about those thoughts. Thought itself is insubstantial and doesn't contain any emotion, or any other sensation beyond the mental movement itself. Yet due to perceiving ourselves as being some independently existent "me", we then slap on layers of emotion and tie ourselves up in knots that only bind us to samsara.

The sensations involved in the feeling of irritation don't have any substance to them; they don't contain any emotion unless we impute it, so it doesn't make sense to imagine that they themselves are the affective overlay. The process of imputing an affective overlay onto bare sensation is simply a habitual response, conditioned by years and years of reactivity to the point where we're totally unaware that there's even a disconnect between the physical aspect and the mental fabrications we've learned to build around them.

As I've said before, I still experience emotions but this understanding shed some light onto why they're not experienced in the same way as before. The absence of the illusion of an independently existent self or other pulls the rug from under those deeply conditioned, habitual responses. It doesn't mean that they stop entirely just because you've noticed them a few times, since these are habits we've unconsciously developed over the years and so require a process of 'de-programming' until that response no longer automatically triggers. They're deeply embedded into the bodymind, so it makes sense that it would take time and effort to 'flip' the mind and end the disturbing emotions entirely.

Edited to add: What I meant to say after all of this, was that hearing provides a doorway to the disturbing emotions and through close observation of hearing (both internally and externally), we can really get into how those feelings arise in the first place. It's not just unpleasant feelings either; it could be pleasant feelings, like those we feel when someone tells us that they love us or congratulates on achieving something. The process triggers and then cascades in the same way, regardless of the feeling-tone involved, and even the most pleasant sensations can become a source of craving, and thus suffering.

It's a useful practice to examine what leads to our feeling positive, neutral or negative about x, y, or z. In terms of dependent origination, the feeling tone (vedana) comes after sense contact (phassa) does, so there's always the oppurtunity for attentiveness to step in and 'short-circuit' the causal chain, thus avoiding having vedana become a source of craving/aversion/neutrality (tanha).
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Tommy M, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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With regards to last nights dream practice, I didn't manage to maintain full lucidity in any meaningful way. What I did notice was an interesting, almost Progress of Insight-like process that I've seen quite a few times in recent weeks in the lead-up to falling asleep in the first place.

As my practice has improved, I'm noticing more and more subtle qualities of the, what we could probably just call "pre-dream state". This isn't the same as the falling away of the conceptual and subtle minds, which I haven't managed to stay aware of since that first time. It seems like it's more related to the gradual loosening of the body itself as sleep comes in, but the way that it really feels like the insight stages seems interesting.

There seems to be a very A&P-like, vibratory thing that happens, albeit not as intensely as the other night, but it's then followed by a sort of spaced-out, unfocused blurring with a hypnogogic quality to the visual aspect. After that, there's a very clear experiencing of what I can only describe as downright creepiness, which is usually accompanied by these sort of lucid micro-dreams that can have a nightmarish quality to them, e.g. a consistent theme that I've noticed is these micro-nightmares involves someone outside who's harming an animal; usually dogs or cats, but rodents seem to crop up in this too.

If I acknowledge that the feelings of distress and creepiness are based entirely on these dream-like vignettes, then that's usually when I feel like everything is expanding in a very multi-dimensional way. Hard to describe because it gets super weird and subtle, but I've found that I seem to immediately flip into the dream state, or at least immediately become aware that I'm dreaming shortly thereafter.

I haven't come across descriptions like this in relation to lucid dreaming yet, so I'm curious to know whether anyone with strong insight practice and a background in the Progress of Insight has noticed anything similar. It may just be due to my familiarity with that particular model that I'm noticing similarities, but I figured it was interesting enough, and also relevant to the main practices used on here, to mention.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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I actually got into sleep practice by accident because I did lots of afternoon meditations and were fascinated by these stages that seemed to want to happen in the afternoons. It wasn't until I experienced listening to myself snooring that I realized that they actually meant that the body was powering down for a nap and that I could be aware of sleeping for quite some time. I recognize the stages you describe, although I can't remember ever finding it creepy. For me, that bubbly energetic part could last very long and gradually morph into the spaced out stage which was somehow still clear in some aspect that never really made sense afterwards. I had some images that could be described as creepy too, like ripping my own heart out, but I tended to interpret them symbolically and I really wanted to shred myself symbolically so I sort of got a kick out of it. During light sleep I have had many experiences of what in retrospect was conceptualized as energetic untangling. Lots and lots of untangling. A psychic yoga teacher observing this during restorative yoga said that my energy field was spread out in space and rearranging itself all over the place, which corresponded with my own kinesthetic experience as remembered afterwards. 
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Tommy M, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I actually got into sleep practice by accident because I did lots of afternoon meditations and were fascinated by these stages that seemed to want to happen in the afternoons. It wasn't until I experienced listening to myself snooring that I realized that they actually meant that the body was powering down for a nap and that I could be aware of sleeping for quite some time. I recognize the stages you describe, although I can't remember ever finding it creepy. For me, that bubbly energetic part could last very long and gradually morph into the spaced out stage which was somehow still clear in some aspect that never really made sense afterwards. I had some images that could be described as creepy too, like ripping my own heart out, but I tended to interpret them symbolically and I really wanted to shred myself symbolically so I sort of got a kick out of it. During light sleep I have had many experiences of what in retrospect was conceptualized as energetic untangling. Lots and lots of untangling. A psychic yoga teacher observing this during restorative yoga said that my energy field was spread out in space and rearranging itself all over the place, which corresponded with my own kinesthetic experience as remembered afterwards. 

I suspect that the intensity of the phases experienced in falling asleep might correlate with whatever stage of the cycle we find ourselves in from day-to-day. Like, with the super-intense A&P-like energetic/vibratory stuff happening a night or two beforehand, it would make sense that the more Dark Night-like aspects would predominate shortly thereafter. Oddly enough, last night I was more aware of a really chaotic, unpleasant-but-not-creepy Re-Observation-like phase before the dream state started. The creepiness isn't even really related to the imagery, it's much more physical and the images seem to arise as a representation rather than as the cause of the feeling. 

Still haven't been able to maintain awareness of the actual transition into the "boundless blackness" mentioned before, but that would also make sense if there's some correlation with the attentional movements and the scattered, chaotic stuff typical in late-Dark Night.

Your descriptions of stuff like ripping your heart out actually sounds like some sort of Chöd-like thing, which is super interesting. 
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Tommy M, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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I had other stuff to focus on in everyday life, and so writing about practice had to take a back seat for a while. There are some major (positive) changes coming in my personal life and a whole new chapter unfolding in the next 18 months, so that's been where my attention has focused for the last while.

Dream practices have been inconsistent, but that's entirely on me. I actually found an old dream diary from 2003 and one from 2011, and it was funny because I could read the words and then recall specifics about the dreams as if they'd happened last night. That really helped me to remember and then re-recognize the qualities of the dreamstate as it was then and now, and see how the clear-light remains unblemished by conditions like time. I need to get back into my routine of going to bed early and doing consistent dream yogas, rather than practicing inconsistently and half-arsing it.

Aside from the dream practices, my everyday practice has been directed more towards gaining mastery over mental fabrications. This may sound like a lofty goal, but it seems to be essential for what we could call 'post-4th' practices where we use mind to control certain physical functions, eventually taking reflexive control of this bodymind matrix like we're controlling a character in a game.

This seems to be one of the fundamental purposes of Tummo, although certainly not its sole purpose. Tummo forms the basis of a series of higher practices that, without it, appear to be impossible to engage in. When we practice the inner heat at first, what we're doing is utilizing mental fabrication to cause a physical effect; we literally use the mind to change something about the body, which in this case is generating the experience of a certain type of heat. This ignites the energetic systems, meaning that we gradually become more and more consciously aware of the rLung system and the way it works.

For anyone who doesn't understand how, or even believe that fabrications can be made to trick the brain, consider this: Imagine, as vividly as you are able, biting into a lemon. Really recreate that experience in your mind and imagine how it feels when that sour, zesty juice hits your tongue. Chances are that you'll experience an increase in salivation and will probably experience a tingling at the rear-side areas of your tongue. Congratulations, you now know what a mental fabrication is and can how they can trick the body into responding to shit that isn't even happening!

Now, this is obviously a very, very basic example but it points to the same underlying mechanism where mind doesn't just influence the body; it's in control of the whole damned thing. We don't see just how much of an impact our mental fabrications actually have on the way these bodies operate. As someone who dealt with depression and anxiety for a long time, I know all too well how much we fuck ourselves up by fabricating these complex scenarios in mind and then cause our bodies to respond as if they were actually happening. I basically mainlined cortisol and adrenaline into my veins constantly for years, so no wonder I ended up burned out and physically ill!

Anyhow, I'll sign off here and hope that this is useful!
Martin, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Hi Tommy. Thanks for your log.  

It's a subject that interests me because, since my big-wow A&P-esque event about 18 months ago, I have been able to generate heat in my chest and belly. This is not something that I ever experienced before that. For a while, it just happened, and it was pretty intense. I guessed it was some kind of kundalini energy, even though the descriptions didn't really line up. This is not just a sensation of heat, but actual physical heat that other people could feel and, early on, was often very uncomfortable. I learned that the best way to deal with it was to physically cool it down by walking outside in the winter with my shirt open, using cold compresses, etc. It's under control now. It usually pops up once or twice a day, often in connection with meditation, but it's a comfortable warmth, and I can bring it up if I want to. For example, I got caught in the rain and got really cold, so I turned it on. Got toasty. I also use it on ski lifts. 

The thing is, I have no idea what it is or what it is for. Does that sound like Tummo? If so, do you have a good basic source on Tummo that you can recommend?
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Noah D, modified 25 Days ago.

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Tummo is a deep , rich , condensed heat, 4 finger widths below the navel & close to the spine. It is not a dispersed , coarse, common heat throughout the body.  Tummo is cultivated through specific practice rather than arising spontaneously.  Your description sounds like some other form of energy . Glad it is under control.  I would not recommend tummo to help with this.  Qigong or classic hatha yoga might help. Perhaps also worth finding a qualified teacher in one of those traditions.
Martin, modified 25 Days ago.

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Thanks, Noah. I do hatha yoga. Good stuff. I guess I'll keep embracing the mystery. I actually like my heat now. There is plenty of odd stuff in the world, I guess I just bumped into a packet of it. 
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Pepe, modified 25 Days ago.

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Noah D

Tummo is a deep , rich , condensed heat, 4 finger widths below the navel & close to the spine. It is not a dispersed , coarse, common heat throughout the body. Tummo is cultivated through specific practice rather than arising spontaneously. Your description sounds like some other form of energy . Glad it is under control. I would not recommend tummo to help with this. Qigong or classic hatha yoga might help. Perhaps also worth finding a qualified teacher in one of those traditions.

What you describe is Ming-Men cultivation. In taoist practice you either cultivate the lower-dantian or the Ming-Men, depending on personal proclivities. Actually, the job is to connect both energy centers, there's a line that connect both. (Niels described a similar line at the middle-dantian, in his latest retreat).

It's very common that any of both ignite spontaneously during the day (or just by inclining the mind, given a proper context), if you have had in the past a practice involving those points or for people with strong concentration abilities (like you Martin, or like Niels in retreat).
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Martin, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Thanks, Pepe. I looked up middle-dantian and lower-dantian, and that is, indeed where the heat shows up. Balls about the size of a golf ball or tennis ball in one or both of those locations (but somewhat to the right of center for the lower one). I never get it near the spine (Ming-Men). 

​​​​​​​Anyway, sorry for hijacking your log, Tommy. I enjoy reading it. 
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Tommy M, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Damn it! I posted something earlier but it doesn't seem to have saved! Let me try again...

For anyone curious about practicing Tummo, I would say this: Do not fuck around with this stuff or dabble in it out of intellectual curiosity. I'm not trying to scaremonger or engage in hyperbole, these practices can have very real and potentially dangerous physical and psychological implications when not done correctly, or without the necessary yogic skills and capacity.

If you have not developed reflexive control over attention and can 'stick' it to sense objects at will, and also maintain fixation on those objects for prolonged, uninterrupted periods of time then don't even think about Tummo. Lacking this degree of control over attention may eventually open one up to the possibility of becoming entangled with physiological processes that you have no business getting involved with and which could be fatal.

Yes, it's that serious. That warning alone should be enough to discourage casual curiosity.

At the same time, if you find that you're drawn towards these sorts of practices then I would strongly encourage you to learn as much as possible about them, find a qualified teacher and then go at it with gusto. Tummo forms the basis of a meta-path that can lead directly to the realization of Buddhahood, which should give you some indication of the power of these practices.



 
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Chris Marti, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Should such a dire warning be accompanied by a deeper explanation? I'd like to think so. For example, what does:
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 Lacking this degree of control over attention may eventually open one up to the possibility of becoming entangled with physiological processes that you have no business getting involved with and which could be fatal.

... actually mean in practical terms? What processes? How?

Truly curious.
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Noah D, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 1143 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Chris Marti
Should such a dire warning be accompanied by a deeper explanation? I'd like to think so. For example, what does:
​​​​​​​
 Lacking this degree of control over attention may eventually open one up to the possibility of becoming entangled with physiological processes that you have no business getting involved with and which could be fatal.

... actually mean in practical terms? What processes? How?

Truly curious.

Chris, have you heard of "wind disorder?"  A close relative of mine who is a practitioner has long term energetic imbalance from the tsa lung practices (the overall category of energy practices that tummo falls into).  These symptoms are different than those described by industrial medicine.  

Tummo does things to neurotransmitters (white essence) - that is it's explicit purpose.  It happened to me - my seratonin (expressed as micrograms per gram of creatanine) went from 345.9 to 2176.1 in between June 2020 & December 2020 with all other things (sleep, diet, exercise, socializing, work, supplements) the same except that I added tummo/thigle breathing into my daily routine.  

The first example is negative & the second is positive, but just to show some examples 'close to home.'  One thing that a teacher of mine said that I thought was interesting was that "in the same way folks in pragmatic dharma have said 'holy shit, insight is real', eventually everyone will also need to realize 'holy shit, tantra is real'." 
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Tommy M, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Noah D:
 Tummo does things to neurotransmitters (white essence) - that is it's explicit purpose.  It happened to me - my seratonin (expressed as micrograms per gram of creatanine) went from 345.9 to 2176.1 in between June 2020 & December 2020 with all other things (sleep, diet, exercise, socializing, work, supplements) the same except that I added tummo/thigle breathing into my daily routine.


I hadn't made the connection between the white essence and neurotransmitters, but that makes sense.   

One thing that a teacher of mine said that I thought was interesting was that "in the same way folks in pragmatic dharma have said 'holy shit, insight is real', eventually everyone will also need to realize 'holy shit, tantra is real'." 


Took me a long fucking time to realize just how real tantra is! Hahahaha!
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Tommy M, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
For example, what does: Lacking this degree of control over attention may eventually open one up to the possibility of becoming entangled with physiological processes that you have no business getting involved with and which could be fatal. ... actually mean in practical terms? What processes? How? Truly curious.


I'll give it a try, but this will be over-simplified as it's a massively complex topic and I'll probably make an arse of it.

Think about how you can control your heartbeat, at least to some extent. You know roughly where to place your attention, how to focus your mind and how to control your breathing so that your heart slows down. That's a very basic, practical example of getting involved in a physiological process and exercising some degree of control over it.

Tummo goes way further than that. It brings previously unconscious processes (the rLung system) into conscious awareness so that mind can be disentangled from them, before eventually taking control over the five winds and directing them into the central channel. This involves extended periods of focus on the chakras and channels that correspond with, among others, the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, and the venous and arterial systems.

If you do not have reflexive control over attention, then you're opening yourself up to the possibility of stumbling across processes that, as I've said, you have no business getting yourself involved with. One wrong move at that sort of level and you could quite easily, albeit acccidentally do something like stopping your heart or massively disturbing the hormonal balance of your body and poisoning yourself.

This is why there's so much importance placed on having a qualified teacher who can guide you through these, and the higher practices of the completion stage.

As for the question of "how"? I'm not sure there's a lot I can say that would be useful unless you've actually engaged in the practices.
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Chris Marti, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Hi, Noah.

I'm not asking if the practices or the resulting problems are real. I'm sure they are. What I'm asking for is a different approach to posting warnings about dangerous meditation practices that don't treat the participants here like children. We're generally all adults on DhO. Providing more in the way of information would be a nicer and more helpful approach.  More examples would be useful, as would some explanation of the physiological and causal mechanisms in play.
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Noah D, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Chris Marti
Hi, Noah.

I'm not asking if the practices or the resulting problems are real. I'm sure they are. What I'm asking for is a different approach to posting warnings about dangerous meditation practices that don't treat the participants here like children. We're generally all adults on DhO. Providing more in the way of information would be a nicer and more helpful approach.  More examples would be useful, as would some explanation of the physiological and causal mechanisms in play.

Copy that.  Misunderstood the question/prompt.  But my answer was fun to write so I don't regret it emoticon
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Tommy M, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Chris Marti What I'm asking for is a different approach to posting warnings about dangerous meditation practices that don't treat the participants here like children. We're generally all adults on DhO.

I'm 40 and I can't drive. Would it be treating me like a child if you, as someone who knows how to drive, said: "don't get behind the wheel of that car, you haven't learned to drive and you might well kill yourself"?<br /><br />No, it wouldn't. That would be a pretty sensible warning, based on your experience and given in the hope that it might help me to avoid crashing my vehicle and killing myself. It would be immature of me to think that you're treating me like a child when, in actuality, you're sincerely trying to help me to avoid potentially dire consequences.

Providing more in the way of information would be a nicer and more helpful approach.&nbsp; More examples would be useful, as would some explanation of the physiological and causal mechanisms in play.

Let's be clear here: This is my practice log where I make notes regarding my own practice. It's not a tutorial and it's not my job to provide the sort of information you're expecting here. If someone wants to learn about that level of detail, then there are more than enough resources out there, written by people way more knowledgeable and experienced than me. I stated quite clearly that anyone who is sincerely interested in something like Tummo should go learn about it, find a qualified teacher and then go at it with gusto.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
For the record, I didn't feel treated like a child at all. Of course thorough information is great, but sometimes there is only energy enough for a shorter wording. If I had written about such a potent practice as tummo in a way that seemed to have possibly inspired others to go for it on their own, I would have added a caveat too, even if I didn't have the time or energy to follow it up more thoroughly at the moment. I wouldn't want to live with the consequences if somebody messed themselves up by going about it carelessly. Those who know about the dangers and take all necessary precautions don't have to feel put down, and they would know what the warning was about and probably agree with it.

Having said that, wow Noah, that's an incredible increase in serotonin! Is that even healthy?! I don't know at what level it flips over into serotonin syndrome. As I have chronically low serotonin levels, this makes me think that I should do my beginner's tsa lung and nejang more systematically. 
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Noah D, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
Having said that, wow Noah, that's an incredible increase in serotonin! Is that even healthy?! I don't know at what level it flips over into serotonin syndrome. As I have chronically low serotonin levels, this makes me think that I should do my beginner's tsa lung and nejang more systematically. 
Lol no I don't think it is healthy.  It was well above the recommended range.  It allowed me to go off (& stay off) the amino supplement for seratonin.  Fortunately I had no seratonin syndrome symptoms.  As the usual saying goes -  YMMV.  I had already been doing basic trul khor for maybe a year before that as part of my daily practice & it did not have this chemical effect.  Therefore, I think that what you describe might not specifically increase seratonin.  But certainly would increase overall well being/dharma practice!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Noah D:

Lol no I don't think it is healthy.  It was well above the recommended range.  It allowed me to go off (& stay off) the amino supplement for seratonin.  Fortunately I had no seratonin syndrome symptoms.  As the usual saying goes -  YMMV.

That’s great!


I had already been doing basic trul khor for maybe a year before that as part of my daily practice & it did not have this chemical effect.  Therefore, I think that what you describe might not specifically increase seratonin.  But certainly would increase overall well being/dharma practice!

I think I would prefer something a little more balanced, like moving around the neurotransmittors to the right places. One can dream, right? Also, if I do the preliminaries, it’s at least somewhat more likely that I would be able to do the real stuff some day without adverse side affect. I have already developed chronic illnesses as a result of spontaneous energetic activity without doing any practice at all, so I’m not that eager to rush into and fiddle with something that is said to be even more forceful than Kundalini yoga.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"I think I would prefer something a little more balanced, like moving around the neurotransmittors to the right places."

I would prefer something more permanent, like, Parinibbana!
Sorts out all the issues emoticon emoticon 
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Chris Marti, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Tommy M - Practice Log

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Looks like I hit a nerve. Sorry about that.

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