DhO Upgrade happening now! Stop posting until complete.

General

Dear All, The remarkable Manish is about to backup and upgrade Liferay to Liferay 7. This is the fundamental platform on which the DhO runs. As such, anything posted from about now (January 23, Saturday, at around noon Central Time) will likely be lost until the upgrade is complete. Thus, stop posting anything you wish to last now until this is done! Thanks! -Daniel, Owner of the DhO

 

 

Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

Jade Lee Practice Log

Toggle
Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/20/20 6:00 PM
[font="comic sans ms", cursive]Hi all, emoticon


I am a 32 year old male who has been meditating for about 8 years. The immediate side effects were integuiging. I had suffered from anxiety and depression for my whole life. I didn’t realize how bad I was suffering until it came to a head and I was hospitalized at 24. For a couple of months I was on medications and felt like a zombie. It wasn’t working out for me. 

I started to meditate using the headspace app and noticed changes in my health very quickly. Not only was I feeling better but my overall being improved. I am a middle school teacher...which takes a lot of patience… I noticed that I was able to have more patience with my students and make more creative lesson plans. In situations where I would be yelling at a student, I had the ability now to take a step back and realize that's not the right move. More importantly I got my mental health under control. 

Using headspace has helped me so much, it taught me some meditation techniques and really sparked my interest…..But, I know there is more to meditation than just headspaces guided meditations. I have been trying noting meditation. It is very difficult for me. Noting aloud is WAY different than anything I have done in the past. I am struggling to decide something though. As I am noting, lets say I feel an itch on my face, do I note that and move on? Or should I note it and explore the itch? What are the sensations? Why do I have an itch? What is an itch? While I note should I try and think about nothing or my breath, and whatever comes into my head, note it? 

[font="comic sans ms", cursive]I had a 15 minute sit and was able to calm the mind and let my thoughts and feelings flow. As I was on my cushion I was noting things like feeling, itches, emotions and pressure. Emotions came up I noted between happiness, sadness, anxiousness and more. I then started to think if I should explore those emotions. Should I think about why I felt the happiness emotion or should I just note and move on? Then I noted the fact that I was thinking about noting and still trying to figure out what I am doing.


[font="comic sans ms", cursive][font="comic sans ms", cursive]Jade 


RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/21/20 12:53 AM as a reply to Jade Lee.
It sounds to me like you are doing an excellent job. You noted the object, then a thought appeared about whether you should think about it more, so you noted that you were thinking. That sounds well-executed to me. 

The most common instruction is to note what is foremost in your awareness, in that moment, and then let it go. It is common to have an anchor, such as the breath that awareness can return to when no object (such as an itch or a thought) appears. There is no need to delve into the exact nature or the reasons behind an object such as an itch. It is often suggested that you take the attitude of a host meeting friends as they arrive at your door for a party. Briefly greet each newly arriving guest with genuine interest and goodwill, but don't get involved in long conversations with them, or you will miss the other guests as they arrive. When there are no guests at the door, just watch your breath, as it will always be there. 

You might notice some patterns such as the objects appear being temporary (for example, first there was no itch, then the itch was the most important thing in the world, then it faded a bit, then it was gone -- temporary). Another common pattern is for the objects to come and go without our control  (for example, I was trying to pay attention to the breath, and all of a sudden I was thinking about a problem work, even though I don't like thinking about my problems at work -- thoughts are their own bosses). You might notice other patterns. You probably will. But the first and most important task at hand is not really so much about finding patterns but noticing the objects as they appear and disappear. 

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/21/20 2:19 AM as a reply to Jade Lee.
Hi Jade, and a warm, if belated welcome to DhO! I see you showed up first with a dream about dying, which I consider very auspicious. I try to die as often as possible myself, as it really helps in seeing why the hell I keep taking rebirth, lol.

You mentioned in your previous post that you were reading Daniel Ingram's book (MCTB2, for shorthand), which is as good a grounding in noting practice as you will find. And you will find a lot of seasoned practioners here to offer their perspectives too, as your questions arise. The more you practice your meditation, the subtler your noting can become. One key is to be aware of the three characteristics in whatever you note arising: transience (this thing i'm noting comes and goes), dukkha/suffering (to try to hold onto this thing i'm noting eventually hurts), and not-self (this thing i'm noting is not me, and come to think of it, is not even really a thing): anicca, dukkha, anatta, in the Pali words. 

Again, welcome aboard, and thank you for the courage and generosity of sharing your meditation log here. I look forward to your journey unfolding.

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/21/20 6:54 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Tim and Martin, thank you for the advice.

I just finished another 15 minute sit. I tried the techniques of welcoming new emotions\sensations, letting them go, moving on to the next emotion so not to miss a new "guest to my party". It worked nicely to keep me in somewhat of a "flow state" and focused on the present sensations. Emotions came, noted them, moved on to the next. It got overwhelming at times when multiple sensations and emotions came up at almost the same time. It was like it took me too long to note them before the next sensation had come and gone. Maybe I am trying to be to precise with the verbalization? I notice that, at times, I am very effective, and can note what feels like everything going on, this lasts maybe 10 seconds. And then other times I am "searching" for sensations. Its like a rolling wave of heightened awareness. it is very pleasant and empowering. 

As I was noting I was trying to keep in mind anicca, dukkha and anatta. I sometimes found myself stopping my meditation to focus on the fact that all of these sensations come and go (or maybe that is meditation :blinkemoticon . No-self has been very difficult for me to comprehend, let alone note it while I am meditating. 

I have used this analogy before, but I will say it again. Using this new noting technique feels strenuous to me, like I have fallen off my raft and going down the rapids without a paddle. Each wave is a thought and Im trying to note them while keeping my head above water. The waves never stop coming. 

Thanks again for the feedback. Everything is welcome. 

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/23/20 12:04 AM as a reply to Jade Lee.
As I was noting I was trying to keep in mind anicca, dukkha and anatta. I sometimes found myself stopping my meditation to focus on the fact that all of these sensations come and go (or maybe that is meditation :blinkemoticon . No-self has been very difficult for me to comprehend, let alone note it while I am meditating. 

Hi Jade, don't worry too much about "no-self" as something comprehensible or conceptual or even "experiential" at this point, beyond the simplest awareness that if you're noting something, it is de facto not self. This is the heart of a technique from Vedanta, "neti, neti," which is often translated as "not this, not this." The idea there is to watch what arises, and with every arising note "neti: [the Self/self/God/Ultimate/whatever] is not this." And then, to return to the 3 characteristics frame, whatever that neti was, there it goes, it's gone, it was transient, so there's anicca. And then if you fret about whether you're getting anatta and anicca right or not, and that makes you miserable, that's dukkha, lol.

I think you might find this compilation of wisdom from Shargrol helpful. If you read from the beginning, there are some great frame-setting considerations for meditation practice, and in general I find this gentle approach of his so helpful; there is wisdom here for every step on the path.  A compilation of shargrol's posts at dharmaoverground.org (shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com)  

I was trying to set the link to go right to some sections on noting practice, but am too inept. apparently, so forgive me for dumping all this here, i just think it's good stuff, and very suited to where you're at right now as your pracice deepens.


Noting



Different styles of Noting. There are lots of different noting styles. Ultimately, the goal is be able to have a technique that allows someone to develop momentary concentration and clarity about what is presently occurring.  Lots of ways to miss-use different noting styles, too. Focusing on breath can be dulling if it is used as sort of a mindless mantra and sensations are not seen clearly. Focusing on rapid fire noting could just enhance a busy narrative mind and be superficial. Noting without structure can sometimes lead to an avoidance of certain types of mind objects (e.g., ignoring feelings or not seeing thoughts as thoughts), but Shargrol's structure noting (which actually is very similar to some of Kenneth's teachings) can be too rigid for people past the beginner's stage. My belief is people really don't know a practice well unless they can articulate its downsides, too.


Meditation is like riding a horse --- you want to stay loose in the saddle, but you don't want to fall off. You need relaxation AND alertness. That balance is only something that is learned over time, by hours in the saddle. Same thing with noting practice, it works but it also takes someone willing to put in the time and learn how to balance noting and noticing. It takes hours on the cushion. Shargrol structured noting is really for developing the foundation (or going back to basic for those who over-complicated their noting practice or is less-developed in one of the four categories of mind objects). Mahasi’s Practical Insight Meditation really holds the hand of someone who can notice the nanas showing up in their practice.  (DhO)


Shargrol’s Structured Noting Practice Sample.  Noting is simple and powerful, and it's okay to dive in if you are ready. The nice thing about noting is it takes you where you need to go. Something really amazing about the mind sort of points the way. The main challenge is that you must get used to (over time) being on the level of direct experience rather than interpreted experience. The more intimately you can be in experience, the more likely the experiences leading to legitimate insights into the nature of experience happen. The more abstracted and intellectualized the relationship with experience, the more likely experience will be shallow and the insights will be somewhat abstracted or intellectualized. This is a whole different domain than philosophy or therapy. The idealized 1+ hour version of a good noting session is:


1. Let mind get settled into practice mode, slowly letting day's thoughts get replaced with the intention to practice.


2. Let the body get settled. Sit. Rock left and right and forward and backward until you find the place of a stable upright spine. Move your head around until it is centered on your shoulders. Move your shoulders back and down so that they are hanging down and resting on your torso. Rotate your elbows without moving your shoulders and rest your hands in your lap. This should be a good comfortable position.


3. Take slightly longer and deeper breaths, just 20% deeper and hold it 20% longer. Start feeling that combination of relaxation and invigoration.


4. Now let the breath do itself normally. While the body breath itself, feel the relaxation of the out breath and count breaths from 1 to 10. If you miss a count, start over again. If you get to ten, start again at one. No big deal, just be honest. If the body can naturally breath itself and the mind can naturally from 1 to 10 three times then the mind is nicely settled. (It’s easy to get this part wrong by using too much effort. Anyone can count breaths if they use a lot of effort, like a soldier counting push-ups. This breath counting should be basically effortless, the body breathes, the mind counts, no effort.)


From this foundation starts the basic noting phase…


5. For 5 to 10 minutes, have the intention to notice sensations in a very intimate and direct way. On each out breath, note just one of the sensations that is present. This is a very easy rate (10 to 12 times a minute or so) which leaves plenty of time for directly noticing sensations. The mental note is a way to see if you haven’t entered a trance of sorts. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing sensations again.


6. Next slowly switch into urges and emotions. For 5 to 10 minutes, switch to urges and emotions in the same way. Urges are like little non-verbal motivational intentions that rise up, usually clinging/greed or aversion/resistance. Emotions are longer lasting non-verbal moods or feelings (different than the momentary sensations). If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing urges and emotions again.


7. Next slowly switch into thoughts. For 5 to 10 minutes, switch to “categories of thought” in the same way. In this step you don’t become imbedded in thinking, but you don’t stop it either. You let your mind think the way it naturally does, but you pay attention to it as thinking, and on every outbreath you note the general category of thoughts you are having. You might be planning your day, thinking about the past, worried about making progress, doubting the effectiveness of the method, etc. Perfect! You would simply note “planning thoughts”, “remembering thoughts”, “worrying thoughts”, “doubting thoughts”, etc. You can make up your own categories or style of labels. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing categories of thought again.


8. At this point, the mind is now very good at being mindful and discriminating (in the good “distinguishing” sense) between  sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. Now for 5 to 10 minutes, let yourself note any one of these things while you let your body and mind do what it wants. This is basically freestyle noting. If you slip into a trance and are lost in thought or are in a trance and forget to note, then simply note what was distracting you, give yourself a “good job!” feeling for returning to mindfulness, and start noticing and noting again.


This all sounds very easy, but very few people are capable of following the instructions above. Most people jump into freestyle noting, which is totally fine, but you need to be honest and admit if you are having any difficulty with any of the four categories of mind objects. You can't go wrong with checking in on all four before freestyling. But if one of the categories of sensations, urges, emotions, or thoughts is more difficult, you might want to spend more time on it. It might be you spend focused time on sensations and thoughts before going freestyle if you are already good with urges and emotions. . It might be that you need to spend a lot of time on urges or emotions before going freestyle. Etc. Basically, you are trying to design a practice that uncovers what is non-conscious or confused in your experience and what kinds of stuff you avoid by going into a mindless trance. Again, the path and goal is at the level of direct, intimate, visceral experience, including the direct experiencing of thoughts as thoughts. Definitely a different domain than therapy or philosophy (but obviously it supports both of those).


Now for the next phase….


9. Now simply sit for 5 minutes without applying any techniques. Let the mind transition from a practicing mind to a normal mind. Notice what observations from practice linger and what you might want to bring with you off cushion. What can you work on off-cushion during your normal life?


10. Dedicate merit


11. And now let the effort of practice go. It is important to have not practicing time to let the mind non-consciously digest what happens during practice. Yes, it’s okay to work on some stuff off-cushion, but don’t become neurotic or obsessive. Just like with physical exercise, you actually build muscle/mindfulness during your recovery from your workouts/meditation. Sleep is really important, too. Strange things can happen overnight in terms of developing awareness, attention, mindfulness, subtle distinguishing, etc.


The last thing I’ll say is that the direct and intimate experience of sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts are like a gateway. We assume we know what these things are, but honestly we really don’t. If you can simply have the direct experience of these things, then some amazing progress is made and the seemingly mythical progress described in the traditions all makes sense. And practice does lead to nanas, jhanas, cessations, and awakening. Yes, don’t crave these experiences, but also don’t write them off as unimportant. You’ll be amazed at the powerful experiences that do happen. But the gateway to all of this is simply intimately and directly experiencing sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts. Don’t underestimate the power of doing these very simple practices. Also use caution with these very simple practices, the results can be destabilizing. 


In the same way that you tear muscle to build it back to become stronger, you tear apart confusions (fused-with-ness) about experience so that your mind grows clearer. 


RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/22/20 1:39 PM as a reply to Jade Lee.
 "As I am noting, lets say I feel an itch on my face, do I note that and move on? "

As my collegues have already responded, you notice each sensation and move on. They replied with material on noting. With that and headspace you need to decide what your motivation for meditation is. Is for relaxation or do do you want to get awakened? Guided meditatoons and Headspace are good for stress relief and relaxation. That's it. If you want to take your Noting seriously and work towards getting awakened, you need to set a period of time anywhere from 30-60 minutes and manually not at-loud.

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/23/20 10:17 AM as a reply to Sam Gentile.
Tim, I tried noting in sections like you suggested. I did 5 minutes of each focus. WOW what a difference that made. It made it very challenging to focus on just type of noting at a time. It started off slow, noting only sensations, then only emotions and so on. Then when it came time to note EVERYTHING my mind went into hyperdrive. I was noting at a rate that I haven't experienced before. It was amazing. I will keep doing this technique and try to do it for longer periods of time. Even though it had only been one session, I noticed changes off the cushion. May have been placebo but I was very calm and was able to carry a heightened awareness throughout the day. 

Sam, I want to start meditating for longer periods of time. Does it need to be 30 minutes in one sitting or can I do two, 15 minute sessions throughout the day. I love meditating but very rarely have I gone over 30 minutes. 

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/23/20 11:30 AM as a reply to Jade Lee.
Jade Lee:
Tim, I tried noting in sections like you suggested. I did 5 minutes of each focus. WOW what a difference that made. It made it very challenging to focus on just type of noting at a time. It started off slow, noting only sensations, then only emotions and so on. Then when it came time to note EVERYTHING my mind went into hyperdrive. I was noting at a rate that I haven't experienced before. It was amazing. I will keep doing this technique and try to do it for longer periods of time. Even though it had only been one session, I noticed changes off the cushion. May have been placebo but I was very calm and was able to carry a heightened awareness throughout the day. 

Sam, I want to start meditating for longer periods of time. Does it need to be 30 minutes in one sitting or can I do two, 15 minute sessions throughout the day. I love meditating but very rarely have I gone over 30 minutes. 
I am not an expert. I know that longer times (to a limit) give better results. Sure, work up to it. Start with 2 15 minute sessions.

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/24/20 9:38 PM as a reply to Jade Lee.
Meditation is similar to physical exercise in many respects. Marathoners start with a kilometer or two (sometimes much less) and increase what they ask of the body only as the body adapts. If asked, I would suggest that, when you are comfortable with 15 minutes, you might try 20, and so on, in 5-minute increments. Many people find that the experience changes as the sits get longer. The 30-minute to 1-hour range is very popular and I think that one of the reasons for this is that this is the range where some helpful things appear. 

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/30/20 5:07 PM as a reply to Martin.
Thank you all for the advice. 

I have been sitting for 2, 15 minute meditations for almost a week now. My mind feels like it is sharper during my sits and I am able to notice different sensations that I wasn't noticing before.

Also, I have noticed things off the cushion with my physical body that I would over look and now I am trying to fix. For example, I do things that irritate my shoulder that can be fixed by being more mindful and cautious when I am doing daily activities.

A concern is that I have been in a bad/judgemental mood. I don't believe this is the dark night stage because I don't feel I have had a stream entry lately. There was something over the summer with a dream that got me started with this website, but that seems too far away? But back to my mood, I feel unsatisfied with some of my life choices. Like I could have done more? Like I should be doing more? And most of all, I feel like the people who I am surrounding myself with arn't who I want to be around. Its hard to put into words with out sounding like a d***. I feel like im surrounded by idiots...Horrible I know. I wish my friends had more ambition and my family made better decisions. I am getting very frustrated with covid and being stuck in my house all day. Even when my wife is swallowing her water I want to be like "why is that soooo loud, what are you doing?!" This might all be because Christmas wasn't the same and I'm starting to lose my patience with covid during the holidays but it seems ironic that I changed my meditation technique and now I'm in a sort of depression. At baseline I am a very happy laid back person. Lately I have been quiet and judging almost everything people are doing around me. You shouldn't eat that, you shouldn't drink that, Are you really saying that? Is this normal? I don't like it, I feel like a jerk!

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
12/31/20 3:47 AM as a reply to Jade Lee.
Jade Lee

A concern is that I have been in a bad/judgemental mood. I don't believe this is the dark night stage because I don't feel I have had a stream entry lately. There was something over the summer with a dream that got me started with this website, but that seems too far away? But back to my mood, I feel unsatisfied with some of my life choices. Like I could have done more? Like I should be doing more? And most of all, I feel like the people who I am surrounding myself with arn't who I want to be around. Its hard to put into words with out sounding like a d***. I feel like im surrounded by idiots...Horrible I know. I wish my friends had more ambition and my family made better decisions. I am getting very frustrated with covid and being stuck in my house all day. Even when my wife is swallowing her water I want to be like "why is that soooo loud, what are you doing?!" This might all be because Christmas wasn't the same and I'm starting to lose my patience with covid during the holidays but it seems ironic that I changed my meditation technique and now I'm in a sort of depression. At baseline I am a very happy laid back person. Lately I have been quiet and judging almost everything people are doing around me. You shouldn't eat that, you shouldn't drink that, Are you really saying that? Is this normal? I don't like it, I feel like a jerk!
It is classic that meditation fairly relentlessly opens up our personal cans of worms. It comes with paying more attention, basically: stuff we have been moving past comes to the foreground. Getting to know our mind and its workings leads with surprising frequency to being horrified by what we find. It's like the Mirror of Truth, in The Never-Ending Story: looking into it, they say, our first inclination is to run away screaming.

So try not to run away screaming, for starters. 

Also, try not to start screaming at anyone else and make them run away.

You point out a number of factors as to why you're feeling so exceptionally closed in right now in particular, in your social environment: holidays, covid, etc. And you're consciously engaged in deepening your experience of life, in doing the work of self-knowledge, which changes your point of view. The meditation practice is one foot on the path. But there are a range of other ways of moving forward. Therapy comes to mind. A lot of us here on DhO have our own testimony of the value of some sort of psychotherapeutic "practice." It can be a second wing to flap in crucial periods, and complement your meditation practice, and offer another angle on whatever cans of worms your process opens up. 

You're feeling the toxicity of this flood of judging, which is good, oddly enough. It means you're keeping your head above the water and not buying into the judgments wholesale and becoming a jerk, as you say. It's a dramatic change from your accustomed self, though, and again, I think of therapy, as a way to get the space to sort of what is truly at the heart of the frustrations, what it is about you that is reacting, what it is in your social environment, and whether there is room for adjustments, a need for better communication somewhere, all the basics of healthy human interaction.

In the long run, judging others severely reveals itself, often, to be a way of avoiding examination of our own stuff, the New Testament "speck in the neighbor's eye" that is easy to see, while we ignore the giant block in our own vision. This is the long slow patient, increasingly humble work of self-knowledge. But in the short run, don't screw up your life, and if this harsh phase persists, I'd say get into therapy to address the poison before it really hurts you and yours.

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
1/10/21 2:04 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
As Im on the cushion and noting I cant help but notice that I am searching for a lot of sensations instead of letting them flow through my mind. I note "searching" and move on. Im still getting the hang of this but I feel like I am doing a good job and working hard to improve my sessions. 

I had a very strange experience the other day. I have a 3 month old baby and I had just put her into her crib. She usually cries when her binki falls out so I sometimes lay on the ground next to her crib and meditate. This particular session was late at night and I was laying down on the floor. I began to fall asleep as I was noting and I was very aware that I was dozing off. Instead of me falling asleep and being completly out of touch my mind, the noting continued and I knew I was dreaming and I knew I was noting the sensations of my dreams. It truly was an experience like no other. When I was younger I would have lucid dreams, but this was very different. I was able to note, walking, weight, laughter, fear, comprehension and sounds. I was asleep for maybe a minute and then I came to and had to stop the session to try and grasp what had just happened. 

RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
1/10/21 3:53 PM as a reply to Jade Lee.
As Im on the cushion and noting I cant help but notice that I am searching for a lot of sensations instead of letting them flow through my mind. I note "searching" and move on. Im still getting the hang of this but I feel like I am doing a good job and working hard to improve my sessions. 

Hi, Jade. I have a suggestion:

Have you tried a few minutes of chilling (aka concentration) practice before you start noting? It's not easy to dive into a hard core noting practice right out of the gate. A few minutes of calm abiding, counting the breath, just hanging out with whatever's happening might be a good way to calm your thoughts and get out of searching mode, looking for objects to note. Developing a calm mind os a great skill to have in general but it'll be a major contributor in your practice.

Also, the purpose of a noting practice is to follow your experience as it occurs. If you want a real noting practice it's best to note objects as they arise, see them pass away as they are replaced in your eperience by the next object that arise. It's best not to follow them by investigation as that defeats the purpose of watching a stream of object arise and pass, arise and pass, arise and pass, ad infinitum.


RE: Jade Lee Practice Log
Answer
1/11/21 2:02 AM as a reply to Jade Lee.
I had a very strange experience the other day. I have a 3 month old baby and I had just put her into her crib. She usually cries when her binki falls out so I sometimes lay on the ground next to her crib and meditate. This particular session was late at night and I was laying down on the floor. I began to fall asleep as I was noting and I was very aware that I was dozing off. Instead of me falling asleep and being completly out of touch my mind, the noting continued and I knew I was dreaming and I knew I was noting the sensations of my dreams. It truly was an experience like no other. When I was younger I would have lucid dreams, but this was very different. I was able to note, walking, weight, laughter, fear, comprehension and sounds. I was asleep for maybe a minute and then I came to and had to stop the session to try and grasp what had just happened. 
Wow. The Tibetans have a dream yoga, working toward lucidity through every bardo you find yourself in. Fascinating. I know we've got a few lucid dreamers on DhO. Combining lucid dreaming and practice sort of blows my mind. 

I cry when my binki falls out too.

Announcements Announcements