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Elbólintós P-Log

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Elbólintós P-Log
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1/13/21 7:34 AM
(EDIT: URL's to sites of Tucker, Upali and Cedric added.)

I am very grateful for all I had the privilege to learn so far here on DhO and finally decided to start a regular practice log. I'd like to offer the following by way of introduction.

First exposed to the mindfulness boom in 2012-2013, I started to slowly build up a regular practice in 2016-2017, inspired by many but at that time perhaps most significantly by TMI, MCTB1 and Robert Wright's Why Buddhism is True. (I owe special thanks for the makers of the audiobook version of all three works!) Approximating a daily practice, albeit often omitting a day or two, and occasionally more, since 2018.

I am currently playing and working with (in that order) with various forms of Noting (inspired, among others, by Mahasi, Shinzen, Shargrol & Papa Che Dusko), TMI, Fire Kasina (Ingram), Satipatthana (Analayo), Metta (Vimalaramsi), along with various approaches based on materials from Rob Burbea, Ken McLeod and Dan P. Brown (IPF). I have great respect for pragmatic dharma in general and, specifically, Daniel Ingram's work and the DhO Community. (I have some background in Western philosophy, Green political activism, and working with languages.)

I have approx. two weeks' worth of retreat experience, including time with Tucker Peck and Upasaka Upali, both of whom I am very happy to recommend as teachers.

I am taking a year-long course in Gendlin's Focusing technique. Furthermore, I am doing weekly online sessions with a much appreciated noting partner I have encountered here on DhO, Cedric Reeves. (Cedric also happens to teach meditation, and based on our interactions, I can heartily recommend him as well.) 

I have no attainments to speak of.

My practice goals for 2021 include a 2h daily formal practice with 1h of noting, increasing awareness off-cushion (U Tejaniya), establishing a routine of Micro-hits (Shinzen & also as recommended by DhO's Jim Smith), significantly increasing concentration and insight and integrating all of that with life in general (aka getting my shit together) and specifically, training in Morality, including Metta, IPF and Gendlin's Focusing, and once again, getting my shit together for the benefit of this being, the people in its close proximity, the planet, and all sentient beings. Also, probably, taking up work with a teacher as well as doing retreats (self-retreats in all likelihood with a view to the COVID situation).

I also wish to improve the balance between discipline and a playful, experimental approach, as well as incorporate standing meditation, doing more Tai Chi & Yoga and some Reich-inspired body work (Jack Willis). 
 
As far as the present practice log is concerned, I think I might start out with a pen-on-paper mediation journal, and share some (but not necessary all) of the content here, reporting at least once a week and see how this works out.

As far as the present practice log is concerned, I think I might start out with a pen-on-paper mediation journal, and share some (but not necessary all) of the content here, reporting at least once a week and see how this works out.

I am of course looking forward to feedback from you all and all your contributions are deeply appreciated.

Thank you for this emoticon

PS. "Elbólintós" is a pun on my first name (which I did not want to appropriate since there might be other Bálints around wanting to start their own practice logs) and it could roughly be taken to mean "(with a tendency to be) nodding off" in Hungarian or something of the sort and thus it is also, of course, a pun on sleeping and delusion as opposed to... 

  

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/2/21 6:06 AM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
PS. "Elbólintós" is a pun on my first name (which I did not want to appropriate since there might be other Bálints around wanting to start their own practice logs) and it could roughly be taken to mean "(with a tendency to be) nodding off" in Hungarian or something of the sort and thus it is also, of course, a pun on sleeping and delusion as opposed to... 

lol, thank you Uram Ebolintos, this is great, and thank you for the linguistic backstory. And welcome to the world of practice logs!

Your practice program as you've laid it out is wonderful, and all blessings on you as you dig in on it. I'm looking forward to your unfolding path, and thank you again for sharing it here.

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/16/21 6:01 PM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Thanks Tim Uram for your kind words of encouragement - feels lovely! emoticon 
Ahoy...

...and the first day report (Jan 1):

- two longer sits (65 + 60 min sits) + 10 m once + a few not too successful efforts of noting "Rising, Falling" while doing household chores etc 

- first sit: rather early in the morning (likely a lingering slight hangover, celebrating the new year the night before, had exactly on bottle of sparking wine)
    - 10 m breath counting,
    - 10 m metta (loosely following instructions by Bhante Vimalaramsi, felt a bit tedious at times)
    - 40 m noting 
    - 5 m do nothing (as suggested by Shargrol)

- second sit: late afternoon
    - 10 m breath counting,
    - 50 m noting (10 minute thereof in a standing position)
          --- this consisted of repeated cycles of
               - 10 min stretch of noting SeeHearFeel aloud
               - 10 min stretch of noting SHF + vedana couplets (as in "Hearing, neutral; Touching, liking; Feeling, disliking; Seeing, liking" etc.) 
    
observations, mostly from near end of the sits, esp. the first one:
    - pleasant vibrations on the upper lip, attracting and sustaining attention in a focussed manner (maybe like 2 minutes)
    - subtle feelings (waves?) in hands (for maybe 3 minutes)
    - also: muscles of the forehead and top and back of the head wanting to relax and contract repeatedly, much like in the FOREHEAD / TONIC EYES OPEN exercise in Jack Willis's Reichian Therapy - The Technique, for Home Use (p 183). not entirely intentional, but not entirely spontaneous either. let it happen, felt good, but wondering if this should be a concern as it goes against the idea of sitting still). noted "wondering"
    - lots of spontaneous smiling and a general feeling of happiness

 

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/3/21 9:25 AM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Day 2, Part one of three. (Sorry for the fragments, the site apparently wouldn't le me post the whole thing as one piece, but seems to work fine this way for some unknown reason.)

- 2 x 60 min "sits"
- a couple of 3-5-10 minner stands
- maybe 25 min of guided practice exploring instructions from a Rob Burbea tape

- trying to incorporate standing meditation for both health and dharma-related reasons
- first steps in Zhan Zhuang (pun intended)
- thus, the two longer sits included altogether five standing interludes of 10 m each consisting of taking up the position and then doing whatever one would be doing on the cushion (either following the breath or noting)
 
- In a video laying out the nuts and bolts of Zhan Zhuang, Marc Cohen tells you to locate “the center of the body” below the navel, to the back, but right at the front of the spine (my wording here might be quite imprecise). Following Rising/Falling here instead of at the abdomen gives an interesting twitch to the exercise, more expand/contract than proper rise/fall, seems a fun and useful thing to keep exploring (of course the novelty factor may wear off) 


RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/3/21 9:28 AM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Day 2, continued.

- Impression that the visual field consisted entirely of flickering dots (pixels) – or as if such a layer was superposed on it. This could of course be entirely  accounted for some naturalistic mechanism - such as particles in the fluid on the surface of the eyeballs or sg related to the optic nerves or even the result of some visual impairment – probably shouldn’t worry about the precise mechanism or ontological status thereof emoticon but to treat is as an object to further explore at the experiential level. 
(Though frankly, it could also be a result of scripting, in the sense of having read too much about fancy advanced stuff (like observing the 3Cs directly in insight practice), one deludes oneself into imagining that this is what is in fact happening) – anyway, “this is just a thought” and again, the idea is not to overthink it as per usual but to keep exploring (it) at the level of sensate experience. Well at least some of the phrases have stuck emoticon , no big deal, they are bound to gradually imprint practice as well.)

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/3/21 12:43 PM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Day 2, last bit.

- first sit also included (on a whim) a 10 min stretch of doing simple tasks while noting R/F – cleaning the cat’s litter box – making instant coffee (not too hot) and drinking it – stretching – at this point my girlfriend asked me sg and I lost the thread, to be resumed only at the coming 10 m chime

- second sit also included some “phone torch kasina”. Phone torchlight is very bright (and very white), after image is rather different than with candle
- is this safe for the eyes? – note to oneself: read up on it/ask around (maybe in a separate thread as well) and for the time being maybe put duct tape/a bit of post-it on the light source
- some fancy rapidly changing, vibrant multicolor polygonal dots shifting into other polygons – end of session, t.b.c. 

- but then I couldn’t go to sleep so from 1 to 2 am listened to part of a 2015 Rob Burbea talk mentioned in one of Polly Ester’s early practice logs 
- packed with instructions & sample guided meditation ---> cool stuff, very liberating; gave interesting ideas to work with in practice, e.g. visualizing (the breath along) a light beam rising from the bottom of the spine – weird (but still pleasant) kinesthetic experience at the top of the head/crown chakra

His distinction between different ways of working with the body also came up in Day 3’s morning session; however, as David Attenborough would put it, that shall be covered “in the next chapter of our story”…

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/3/21 11:08 AM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Wow, you are cooking with gas there. I'm looking forward to reading more.

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/3/21 1:00 PM as a reply to Martin.
+1 emoticon 

I especially like this part emoticon 

"the idea is not to overthink it as per usual but to keep exploring (it) at the level of sensate experience."

Best wishes! 

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/4/21 7:57 AM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Balint Pinczes:
Day 2, continued.

(Though frankly, it could also be a result of scripting, in the sense of having read too much about fancy advanced stuff (like observing the 3Cs directly in insight practice), one deludes oneself into imagining that this is what is in fact happening)

Even if one deludes oneself into imagining one's experience, it is still happening! (most of our experience is like this) emoticon

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/12/21 5:00 PM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Days 3-12 + Day 13

Hey Martin, Pepe & Agnostic, 

thanks for your kind interest & feedback!

After a dynamic start, I fell into the trap of aversion to logging/journaling. As a result of this, the promised "next chapter", as advertised in my last post, has also been dropped. emoticonemoticon (OK, it was supposed to be about how body parts felt "alive" during a body scan the morning after a night sit following Rob Burbea's instructions working with the energy body, even though this specific morning I was simply trying to contemplate skin simply as skin, flesh as only flesh etc, as when contemplating beans, millet, rice etc in a bag of grains). 

The sits, however, have been relatively solid. Save for one day w 60 and another w 90 mins worth of sessions, I had 120+ mins on and around the cushion (i.e. standing/walking med) every day + either microhits or household chores w/ noting almost practically most days. 

This Saturday, after a four-hour Focusing Zoom training, I joined Cedric Reeves's one-day online retreat exploring rest; however, except for the yoga bit, I mostly did my own stuff, following the breath and noting for the equivalent of 5 hour-long sits. (The last 20 minutes in a supine position, promptly lulling me to sleep.)

Day ----------- time (m) ---- Stand/Walk ---- Logging/Journalling

Day 3 (Sat)   ---- 120+   ----     y    ----     y
Day 4 (Sun)  ---- 120+   ----     y    ----     n
Day 5 (Mon) ---- 120+   ----     y    ----     n
Day 6 (Tue)  ---- 60       ----     y    ----     n
Day 7 (Wed) ---- 120+   ----     y    ----     y
Day 8 (Thu)  ---- 120+   ----     y    ----     n
Day 9 (Fri)    ---- 120+   ----     y    ----     n
Day 10(Sat)  ---- 300-     ----     y    ----     n
Day 11(Sun) ---- 120     ----     y    ----     n
Day 12(Mon) ---- 90      ----     y    ----     n
Day 13(Tue)  ---- 120+  ----     y    ----     y

Furthermore, as far as integration with life in the sense of productivity is concerned, the last week and a half were a complete failure. I absolutely need to get back to (or rather, take up) getting things done, my current performance is the opposite of sustainable.

DAY 13
Awakened by the clatter and bustle of the thrash collector truck before 5 am, decided to set the timer for 90 min. 30 breath counting, 30 min ZZ + Breathwalk, 30 noting. Not much to report; Breathwalk seems to induce alertness after, but let's wait and see. 
Evening: 30 mins noting aloud. Pleasant, time flew by quickly.
Also some distracted noting at the dentist's in the morning emoticon
                

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/13/21 4:17 AM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Hello, Nodding Off Uram! Wow, you have been working hard and long. 

Furthermore, as far as integration with life in the sense of productivity is concerned, the last week and a half were a complete failure. I absolutely need to get back to (or rather, take up) getting things done, my current performance is the opposite of sustainable.
This is fairly natural, a pendulum swing toward balance, the push/pull heartbeat of effort and relaxation over the long term in our practice and its integration into our "real life." In the long haul "sustainable" is where it's at, but taking it right up to the edge where you can see "sustainability" start to wobble and fall apart is not a bad thing, as long as you trust your sense at that point and ease off and allow the work of integration at a lower temperature. I once lived in the mountains across the creek from a lumberjack, and we would drive into town together, about nine miles down out of the woods. There was a long flat strecth of dirt road on the way, where he would always accelerate his truck to high speed, sort of wild and crazy speed. And he would give me a grin and say, "Sometimes, you've got to stress the machine." He meant partly that running that hot and fast is an education in its own right, and also that it's under stress that the flaws and weaknesses show. Obviously you can't drive like that all the time, lol. So discernment and context and good old common sense. You've been stressing the machine just fine, and it seems like the engine is in good shape and you've been running well, hot and fast. Now you can get reacquainted with the speed limit, lol. I see you're already doing that by getting to the dentist, for instance, before all your teeth fell out! Nice work.


RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/13/21 7:19 AM as a reply to Tim Farrington.
Noting "simpatico" and "camaraderie". And you're right about the visit to the dentist! emoticon

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/15/21 5:50 PM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Day 14

60+ min altogether (15 in the morning, then noting fear at the dentist (second visit), then some in the afternoon and in the evening.) Don't remember much.

Day 15

7AM  - 60 min STEFH (Homage to Steph, lol) - See, Think, Emote, Feel, Hear emoticon
       - seated + walking + standing alike
      - Notes: Phenomena are rushing to you at a breathtaking pace. (Rapid fire, all the time.) Time passes very quickly (in the sense that almost all 10m intervals seemed rather short, except for the walking one perhaps.) At one point as if a shift or opening or dizziness, but quite light. With passage of time, happy mood noted with increasing frequency. Felt alert throughout, but in the last 10 m: almost drifted off to sleep, even had (at least) one open-eyed dream, one scene which must not have lasted longer than a second, but was notable due to its comic tone and somewhat obscene content (visiting prince from a remote land threatening to take a dump) - anyway resumed standing position and switched (back) to noting aloud.
      - Seeing anxiety, worrying, self-pity, feeling of entitlement, anger/hurt, feeling abandoned. 
      - Thoughts frequently creeping in, realizing only after the fact. Strange that thoughts can occur even while noting. (Image of a cave, with the top/ceiling being the noting and the thoughts passing right below it.) 
      - After the sit: a feeling that things (in life) are manageable, feeling competent, anxiety contained somewhat. Some lightness of heart.

4 PM - 30 min in a park and in the street, standing + walking, noting aloud.

9 PM - 70 min. 10 m watching the breath in deep La La Land, 60 noting aloud SHF. Again, quick and enjoyable with mental talk occurring seemingly in parallel with noting. Am I doing something wrong? (probably sensory quality needs to improve so as to see that these phenomena are not really parallel/cotemporaneous but a succession of distinct intermittent mind moments - but I'm likely scripting and overthinking again...)   

Happy Birthday DHO!

RE: Elbólintós P-Log
Answer
1/16/21 5:55 PM as a reply to Balint Pinczes.
Day 16 - two sits, 75 m + 60 m

first sit - (early evening)
     - 10 m concentrating on patterns on a pillow in a poorly lit room
     - 60 m SHF noting aloud
                - stayed aloud and noting constantly for most of the sit, maybe for 58 min or so
                - long stretches seemed almost too easy and fast (as in "Why is this so easy? Am I cheating or what?")
     -  5 m choiceless chill
     - prostrations. I haven't mentioned prostrations before.
                            (Haven't made up my mind about them yet and also due to repetitions in low numbers.)
                            Most (practically all) days this new year I'd do 3 full prostrations after either the first long sit or after both.
                            Some days just going with the motions, other days taking refuge in three jewels or evoking a feeling of surrender etc.

second sit
- (late in the evening)
     - 20 m choiceless awareness with a candle. nice, not so spaced out as I would have been doing the same maybe a year ago
     - 10 m Zhan Zhuang practice - very spaced out, one train of thought chasing the other, Victoria Station really
     - 30 m noting aloud - SHF + vedana couplets. can't recall much else than"felt like work, but not too burdensome"

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