BobsUncle practice log

BobsUncle, modified 1 Year ago at 12/31/20 7:04 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/31/20 7:04 AM

BobsUncle practice log

Posts: 3 Join Date: 12/31/20 Recent Posts
I have been meditating off and on for 10 years.

I have been quite lazy with sitting meditation, partly due to physical aches when sitting which cause restlessness and I suppose I am a bit weak willed. Because of this I usually go on streaks where I sit everyday 30 minutes for 3-4 months and then stop meditating for 2-4 months, and then starting all over again. Once every 1 or 2 years I will do a 10 day silent retreat. These were Goenka type retreats. Due to my back I have problems sitting for more than a few hours per day. I have never had any significant insight experiences but I do think I maybe had an A&P experience earlier in life.

Since Sep 2019 I have gotten together more of a routine and have sat most days for 30 minutes on average. The majority of this time I tried TMI and struggled with it. I discovered that I had more stillness if I just stopped trying to do the TMI instructions, and instead just sat at peace with the breath. In these concentration based sits I think I am with the breath maybe 60% of the sit.

Around 2-3 months ago I changed to trying noting practices. So far I have tried Shinzen Youngs See Hear feel. It feels a bit complicated and clunky and I find myself missing a lot of sensations or experiences because im trying to figure out what category it falls into. I am now trying some more open Mahasi instructions.   

I have noticed some changes over the last 18 months. When walking I can stay with the sensations of the feet for quite some time. A few years ago I couldn't go 4-5 steps without losing track and day dreaming. Shinzens system has helped me a bit in opening up some parts of experience I had never even noticed before. I was never noting "see in" experiences before, and didn't realise how much I was doing it.

The reason I am writing this post is that because of various factors such as Covid 19, I now have 1 full year to dedicate to practice without work. For many years I said I would do this but always put it off. My intention is to make a concerted effort in the direction of stream entry. It won't be like a retreat as I will still do many normal daily activities and go outside, but the time I would previously put into my work, I can now put into practice.

In this practice journal I will detail my experience.

My plan currently is:

- Try to increase how much I am noting in my day to day activities. Maybe someone can correct this if it is wrong but I have seen a lot of people who made progress say that they were noting all day long (Do they really mean for most of the moments in the day they are noting?)

- Increase sittings. Currently I do one 30-40 sitting just trying to stay calm with the breath and trying to stay in the present moment. I was thinking maybe I will loop through a series of sits in the day. 30-40 minutes with the breath, short break. 30 minutes metta on reclining chair, followed by 30-40 minutes of mashi noting, trying to do a slow pace of 1 note every few seconds (if I try faster I get mentally tired very quickly). I could do this 4 times a day I think before getting physical problems.

For noting, the part I am stuck on is the time it takes me to think up labels, with the experience having gone by the time I have thought of a word. Do people use a vocabulary and then mostly stick to those set words? I found shinzens a bit too complicated.

Best wishes for the new year.

Any tips on noting meditation and resources for learning it more, or comments or recommendations on my plan are very welcome!
BobsUncle, modified 1 Year ago at 1/1/21 8:07 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/1/21 8:07 PM

RE: BobsUncle practice log

Posts: 3 Join Date: 12/31/20 Recent Posts
I began my first day of the new era of intense practice

I did 2 x 45 minutes sits , 6 hours apart. My method was to just sit and await the breath, with the goal of being present for the inbreath and outbreath and try to not miss any. I think I was with the breath approximately 60-70% of the time. I do get some drowsiness because due to current physical issue, i have to lay back in a chair when meditating, at around a 120 degree angle, leaning back against the chair. This isn't ideal for keeping alert but it's the best I can do right now.

Outside of this I have been trying to increase the amount of time I am being mindful in day to day life. I find labelling a bit a clunky and so often I just go with the being aware of the bare experience (does this class as noting?): If I am sat on a bus, I will sit, be aware of sensations of sitting, i don't put a label on them, but just be aware. I then try look "is this pleasant, neutral, unpleasant?" (I don't know if i am supposed to do this or let it happen naturally), I do throw in the occasional label, but usually I just bounce around like this, looking for things to note, sensations in the mouth, an itch, if i can't find anything I just default to looking ahead and doing a "seeing". The speed I am doing this is probably 1 "note" (i don't know if it classes as a note if no label?) per 3-4 seconds, as I have been staying on things for a few seconds.

Question for the pro's: Does labelling i.e "seeing", "thinking", cause a greater chance of seeing the 3 characteristics than just bare awareness of the experience? I have read some people say there is no difference and that adding the label just helps a person to maintain mindfulness and lose track. But, I have experimented myself just now, looking at something, vs looking while thinking "seeing... seeing", and it does seem that perhaps adding the label helps in creating a more objective view of the sensory experience. So perhaps it is worth me spending time to learn to label properly.

My next step is to maybe add an insight practice into my sitting schedule but I have yet to figure out how i do this. My noting when sitting eyes closed most usually ends up quickly making me get distracted.

So perhaps I could try daily:

1x 45minute meditation on breath
1x 45minute attempting (and probably failing) to do noting
1x 30minute metta session (I have not yet begun adding this in but plan to do so)
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 1/1/21 10:19 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/1/21 10:19 PM

RE: BobsUncle practice log

Posts: 491 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Sounds like you are away to the races. 

An advantage of labeling it is that it gives a task to the verbal parts of the mind, so they are less likely to start telling stories that can distract us. It is like giving a dog a bone to chew on so it doesn't run around barking. When I am interested enough in what I am noting that the mind doesn't wander, I drop the labeling and just notice. 
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago at 1/2/21 2:37 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/2/21 2:37 AM

RE: BobsUncle practice log

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Amen to Martin's angle on verbalizing in noting.

and to you being away to the races! Practice, practice, practice, and Bob's your uncle!
Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago at 1/2/21 3:35 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 1/2/21 3:35 AM

RE: BobsUncle practice log

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Welcome Uncle! emoticon 

I demo in video freestyle noting aloud as thought by Kenneth Folk. One can do this stuff silent or aloud. Matters little really emoticon The important thing is to actually do it at least 1 matter of fact sensation a second , or even 1 sensation every 2 seconds. But keep the pace for the entire minimum 45 minutes session. 
Best wishes (don't have time to write more right now emoticon but I'm sure we will chat often here)!