Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Previously on Brandon’s practice log…

Summer of 2019 A&P that blew the bloody doors off
August -- December 2019 Post A&P Honeymoon -- practicing for an hour every morning at 5:30 AM
September of 2019 Discovery of MCTB -- Started noting
January 2020 Practice gets restless, not sure where I am on the maps
February -- March 2020 Two months focusing on concentration with the breath and metta mostly using Leigh Braisington’s Right Concentration as a guide but also using talks by Stephen Snyder and Tina Rasmussen to guide my approach to metta. I still prefer their wording for metta: “may I be safe, may I be healthy, may I be happy, may my mind be at ease, may I be free.” Built some solid skills at developing pleasant mind states with breath and metta.
April 2020 Back to noting. Concentration seems to have given the noting a boost.
March 2020 Hitting some crazy highs. Maybe a 2nd big A&P. Sitting outside, stone cold sober and I feel like I’m on acid. Looking at the clouds above me and overwhelmed by the immense sense of space. This is followed by my first experience that felt unambiguously in the realm of the Dukkha ñanas -- an apocalyptic dream with mushroom clouds and the earth rending apart. I wake up with a sense of vulnerability, nakedness and terror I’ve never felt before. I decide to get a teacher.
June 2020 I start working with a teacher doing a mix of noting and concentration. I eventually transition into doing “Mahayana-style vipassana” a more open version of vipassana that is meant to be a good fit for post-A&P practice. Practice starts with attention on the breath, then the body, then sound, then mind and finally pure awareness.
July - September 2020 I finally get a taste of how dukkha the dukkha ñanas can be. A handful of experiences (all off-cushion) -- typified by panic, claustrophobia and strong somatic unpleasantness. It feels like fingernails on the chalkboard, but all through my body. My first experience with kriyas (or PNES maybe?). Convulsions and contractions of the body. Arms and legs kicking and punching. One particular weekend of multiple bad experiences leaves me a useless puddle on the floor. My wife is a champ in supporting me through all this. On the advice of my teacher I take a 2 week break and do some grounding.
September - October 2020 Back to practice with a grounding meditation for 30 minutes a day, then back to the Mahayana-style vipassana. Started a temporary job. Things feel very peaceful on and off the cushion. I feel like I have entered the EQ to Reobs spin cycle. Practice gets deeper and deeper then I have some sort of wretched collapse into horribleness.
October - December 2020 Heavy sleepiness becomes the norm. Practice becomes a bit less consistent and sits shorter, but the recommendation from my teacher is to sit through the sleepiness rather than trying to fix it or give up. One particular session I have intense drowsiness from beginning to end. I resolve to neither let my head bob, to do any swaying or to give up. I feel intense internal discomfort in the process that causes me to make purgative gagging sounds. Not long after, the sleepiness is gone from practice.
December 2020 Practice starts to get effortless to a degree I haven’t experienced before. The week of Christmas I start to have some nihilistic thoughts and moments of panic and despair. On advice of my teacher, I decide to take some more time off of practice.

It’s now been about two weeks since I’ve taken a break. I’ll probably start back up the beginning of the next week easing back into practice with 20 minute sits.

I wrote a blog post summarizing my experiences with meditation over the past year mostly directed towards the uninitiated:

https://brandondayton.medium.com/a-year-of-dedicated-practice-364801a621f
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Thanks for the summmary. An excellent  body of work
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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To think this was coming, yet we had to go through the long version... ! emoticon
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Touche! emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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lol, the scenic route is the way to go. Olivier is joking you, Brandeon, because he recently did the same thing, summarized several eons concisely on a fresh thread, and somebody said the exact same thing to him! On the scenic route, I especially appreciate all the little roadside memorial markers where the vehicles of previous selves crashed and burned. Always a poignant moment that can't be fully captured in a re-cap. So looking forward to more wrecks! Uh, and, of course, the salvation of all sentient beings and all.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Yes, I was that guy. Honesty enjoyed both versions.
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Me too
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Been slowly easing into practice after an episode of instability around Christmas. Taking the break felt really good. Read some Cheetah House stuff during that time, and I really appreciated the alternate biological and neurological perspective on meditation and its negative side-effects. Read descriptions of side-effects that I was experiencing that I hadn't read anywhere else along with decent neurological (even if in some places speculative) descriptions of mechanisms that bring them about.

One such model described hyperarousal due to the sensory attenuation which seemed to describe some of my oversensitivity and irritability post practice fairly well. The one I wasn't expecting was the description of cognitive impairment such as stuttering and having a hard time finding words, which is something I have noticed in myself, but hadn't connected to practice. During this last period of instability I was having a hard time finding words and remembering names and was starting to get caught in a narrative that I was in the throes of early-onset dementia. It was leading to some anxiety and panic that got pretty dark over the holidays. The anxiety dissipated and the cognitive abilities seemed to bounce back once I took a break. Still have some weird cognitive glitching going on, but the same anxiety isn't there. 

Started with a 20 minute session on the eleventh and I've been fitting in sessions here and there without any pressure to do too much or to do it with any regularity. There's been a bit of a sense of doubt and uncertainty about how to proceed. A bit of a sense of just wanting to ditch all of this. Maybe this is some of that "rolling up the mat" thing. If so, it has more of a quiet despair to it than I expected.

Had a meeting with Abre yesterday that was helpful and encouraging. We are reading Seeing That Frees together, which I started early last year, but never finished. There is a good feeling with reading Burbea. It seems like the right fit for where my mind is right now, like my mind starts meditating just by reading it. That reading and and an encouraging session with Abre has restored a bit of faith to move forward. It all seems inevitable anyway.

My first go at a full session this morning. Had to cut it a bit short to use the bathroom, but the session went deep. Space opened up at the end and there was a sense of clarity and mindfulness that were startling. I was sensing the same sensations I always sense, but there was something starkly novel about it. Perhaps it's too new and happened too quickly for me to put my finger on what I was picking up, but there was an "Oh, wow!" feeling about it. Maybe I was just hitting another A&P. Towards the end there was a feeling of soft, spacious clarity and illumination that gave me the sense of floating in an expansive ocean of milk. As I allowed myself to be absorbed into the tranquility, surges of pleasure came on that caused my body to shake. Some anxiety as the rocket kept reaching new heights. Everything felt very open and exposed. Had to take a decent amount of time to ground myself afterwards.
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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There's been a bit of a sense of doubt and uncertainty about how to proceed. A bit of a sense of just wanting to ditch all of this. Maybe this is some of that "rolling up the mat" thing. If so, it has more of a quiet despair to it than I expected.

You've been in the little mini-loop of dark night easing into equanimity for a substantial period, and in both DN and EQ one of the main things is a deepening sense of emptiness and a seeing-through a lot of the things we tell ourselves about "meaning." You're reading Rob Burbea, so you're studying this territory conceptually and intellectually, but it is on the mat that we really have to come to terms with emptiness, neuronal firing by neuronal firing, breath by breath. There's nothing to grasp, nothing to formulate, nowhere to stabilize; it's painful and distressing, in DN, feels like failure or fuck-up or a horrifying vision of a meaningless cosmos; then the grace of EQ allows us to live with it again without the distress, and sometimes the lack of distress in comparison with the dukkha nanas is the best thing that can be said of EQ. But in both, the reality of "nowhere to go and nothing to do" is plain long before "nowhere" and "nothing", and "not going"/"not doing" reveal their up side. At best, at this point, there is a humility and patience and gentleness accessible--- the "quiet" in the quiet despair. 

That reading and and an encouraging session with Abre has restored a bit of faith to move forward.
It is faith, and never more so than in this territory where the previous formulations don't hold up, where the practice seems like a universal dissolvent that threatens to dissolve everything without a way forward in the nothing it leaves. That's the fire test of faith, moving "forward" when there is nowhere to go. John of the Cross says, "in darkness, and secure." Secure in what? The whats dissolve. 

It all seems inevitable anyway.

Yeah, "inevitable," you're pretty much fucked, and you know it. But you're doing a great job with your pacing, with keeping your shit together in your real life and not letting things get disruptively out of sync. It's very striking to me how often you mention the necessity for a substantial "integration" period after your sits, letting yourself decompress and reorient. Think of deep sea divers pausing in their ascent, to let the nitrogen out of their blood and avoid getting "the bends." You're doing a good job of not letting yourself get the meditation version of the bends. Your instincts are good.

Hang tough, amigo, and thanks for sharing here. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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I always enjoy your thoughtful and loving responses, Tim. Thanks for the encouragmenant, and BTW I'm finally going to release our podcast chat next week! Looking forward to re-visiting it as I log and edit the episode.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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60 minutes 9:15 am

Practice is getting pretty predictable. Mind settles little by little, without any intention really. By 20 minutes to half an hour, I'm on my way. From there I feel like the mind is a playground and there are any number of places I can go. Still mostly following the Mahayana vipassana approach, but it seems like each stage is like a floor of a department store with multiple areas to explore within it. Spent quite a bit of time looking at self at the stage of awareness. Repeated the phrase, “not me, not mine, not I” as sensations of self arose. Interesting to look at how sensations in the body, particularly this thread between my chest and face, and visual impressions mix together. Also becoming aware of the sense of doer that flashes on and off in the head areas. Seeing more of the impermanence of self. Also working with instructions from Abre to drop the sense of separation between myself and sensations. Makes no conceptual sense, but as I make an intention to do so things kind of just happen.

Sit felt very sustainable and effortless if a bit boring at times, but various qualities of well-being arose -- calm, bliss, contentment, happiness, quiet. Not as energetic as a few days before. No shaking or anything. Little anxiety. Still coming down after the session and very sensitive to family life. Fortunately things are very quiet and calm around the house, so the transition feels smooth.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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No practice today.
I had an experience last night that I thought might be relevant to point out. I was in the midst of a dream, and it was dark. I entered a room and turned on a light switch, but the switch seemed to turn on a light that was further into the room, partially obscured by a wall or something. I walked to the light and the room suddenly became illuminated and the dream took on a hyper real quality. The room was now a brightly lit, spacious great-room of a mansion. I noticed it was broad daylight through the window to my left and pitch black out the window to my right. As I walked further into the room it suddenly took on a psychedelic quality. The space suddenly became many spaces nested in one another and it was as if I was zooming in (or out?) through these nested heavenly realms. Awareness kicked in pretty strong at this point and there was a sense of expansive space and openness at the periphery. My heart started to race and I woke up a bit, but the sense of openness continued. There was a little bit of fear, which seemed to be quite concentrated in the body, as if the body was resisting the experience. It was similar to other similar experiences I’ve had, but the fear seemed to be more balanced out by curiosity and interest this time. With increased alertness the experience changed from the visual zooming to a sense of tiled sensations. It was as if all of the sensations that I was aware of in my sensory field were tiled, like a video with multiple copies of the same clip stacked in rows and columns all playing simultaneously, and extending in all directions out into space. There was a certain synesthesia too as bodily sensations became images.As things cooled down there was still a vast sense of space. I remember in particular paying attention to the sensation of being in bed and the gaps of space between the blankets and my body seemed cavernous.I mention this experience mostly because in the midst of it, I was kind of wondering what to do with it. I didn’t feel like the fear part of it was overwhelming. I was more frustrated about the resistance I was feeling more than anything. As if I wanted to dive deeper, but I could feel my body resisting it.Life otherwise has been feeling subtly good for the most part, so I’m not too concerned about destabilizing effects of practice, but I did take a day off of practice just to let things settle a bit.
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Hey Brandon, fascinating experience. You've been flirting along the edge of this kind of encompassing spaciousness, with the disappearance of the usual orienting conditions, for a while now, with varying degrees of attraction and fear at given points, so it's notable that the fear/bodily-resistance here was milder than the overall sense of interest and curiousity. So, a taste, and you didn't puke or gag or anything, lol, or otherwise seize up; a toe in the water, maybe even up to the knee, and getting at a visceral level that the water ain't bad at all. So good seasoning, with the stew at a nice rolling simmer. And as always, loving your deep respect for this shit. You're a husband and a father, not a yogi in the forest, even though you do practice like your hair is on fire and the ship is sinking, most of the time, lol. For western householders to be plumbing these realms is a whole new chapter of the history of What The Fuss Is All About With This Meditation Shit, and your path so far seems exemplary, if that's not laying too much crap on you. My point is, you're on a path with a high priority placed on integration, even as various realms open up for you, and your pacing seems very very good. 

​​​​​​​woo-woo!
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Just call me Tortoise Joe. 

BTW, I think this bit from Frank Yang gets close to what this felt like (minus the sex stuff):

https://youtu.be/SmaZ6am_KIQ?t=1271
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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1/31 55 minutes 7:45 am
Uneasy restlessness in bed this morning. I think that’s due to not having exercised for the past few days. That seemed to translate over to practice. Off cushion I’ve felt a lot of silence that is leaning slightly pleasant, but I can sense a certain degree of dullness in it. That was the feeling when practice started to day, so I did some metta to try and nurture a greater sense of well being. Been feeling drawn to do more noting of vedana again too. I think for similar reasons -- to nurture wellbeing -- but I also feel like there is something of value to investigate there as far as parsing out how suffering is overlaid on experience.
Practice was concentrated. Lots of feelings of quiet and pervasive stillness, but my mind got very sleepy and the body got very heavy. I seem to be back in that territory again. Perhaps it's from pulling back on practice too much.
That being said, it does feel different than before. I can be sleepy, but I am still aware and somewhat equanimous in the midst of it. I can be sleepy for 55 minutes and do so without bobbing all over the place essentially. That sense of quiet and calm persists throughout it. Some openings of space here and there, but honestly the sleepiness is not conducive to that type of spacious opening. It's much more about sitting in a cocoon.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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50 minutes 6:15 am

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Tried to do Mahayana but sleepiness and mind wandering kept taking over, switched to noting with eyes open and out loud and that seemed to increase energy. Something about noting space in particular is energizing. Sleepiness was still strong but there was an upward energy that mixed with it in this expansive, buoyant way. Tried to go back to Mahayana but the mind got lost and overwhelmed with sleepiness again. Returning to noting things took on a slow motion feeling to them. Lots of stillness and quietness. Tried doing a bit of vedana but that got overwhelmed with sleepiness too. Overall conclusion: noting seems to be the right fit when things start getting sleepy.
Sam Gentile, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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I'd be reallly sleepy too at 6:15 AM  emoticon
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Ha, ha. Yeah, I've been trying to get up earlier, and I don't know if my body is quite on the same page yet.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
47 minutes 6:45 am
Woke this morning with a sense of quiet that has led to panic and anxiety before, but this time the anxiety was gone. There was just an ease to it. Still sleepy when I woke up so I expected sleepiness in practice.
I was surprised to find that the sleepiness didn’t really upset the practice. I’ve been reading Seeing That Frees and am on the section on samadhi. It seems like a good fit for where I am right now in practice. There is a move deeper into equanimity and the ups and downs are pretty subtle. It can be easy for me to start sinking into a kind of numb dullness with this state of mind. The emphasis on samadhi and cultivating feelings of well being works well to buoy me out of the numbness.
With that in mind I started practice with metta, intending to cultivate a warmth before I started practice. Did a pretty standard metta. Noticed as I practiced with “the enemy” that there was some tightness in the chest, but today was not the day to master metta. I finished with a warm sense of love radiating outwards to the world around me. Started doing Mahayana but I intentionally focused on the pleasant sensations at each phase of the practice. Pleasantness in the body, then pleasantness in sound and so forth. Second time around a really warm feeling of bliss came over me and I just sat with it.
Tuned into silence and space. A decent sense of both but nothing crazy. Did a bit of self investigation at the layer of awareness, but I don’t think the equanimity or concentration was deep enough for that to really be fruitful. Was a bit bored towards the end and finished the session to use the bathroom.
Off cushion, to support the samadhi I am doing informal noting of vedana throughout the course of the day, again leaning slightly more towards the pleasant. So far, so good.
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Sounds like your body is catching up on the new early hour. 

T-shirt of the week candidate: "Tuned into silence and space. A decent sense of both but nothing crazy. ​​​​​​​"
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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2/10 60 minutes 7 am
Feeling sleepy this morning so I was apprehensive about having another sleepy session. Jumped right into the Mahayana without too much prep. Took things a while to settle but not too long. Space opened up over time and there were some pleasant absorptions, mostly emanating from the head. A feeling of calm and pleasantness throughout my body but a tightness persisted in the chest. Did some “Not me, not mine, not I” The saying of the phrase itself caused awareness of sensations of self. Noticed the funnel of sensations that receded into my eyes and investigated the sense of self in that area. Some momentary strobing of sensations while doing that.

40 minutes 11 am
More sleepiness this time. Tightness in the sensations around the face. Still feeling some tightness in the chest too. Was still able to pull off practice. Good sense of stillness.

2/11 60 minutes 9 am
Mahayana today. Some mind wandering, fogginess and drowsiness, but practice proceeded just fine. Couldn’t really pinpoint any hindrances. Maybe some subtle doubt. Noticed impatience and craving for awakening. Some good feelings of samadhi but no crazy highs. Space expanded here and there. Definitely lots of tranquility and quiet.

The brow and forehead is an area of interest. It seems tangled up in the sense of self. Not that it’s the observer itself, but as if the observer is always looking through it. It’s still a bit maddening trying to pinpoint the observer itself, but it seems like it is somewhere immediately behind the eyes. I catch glimpses here and there. Lots of strobing and energetic phenomena in the visual field at different moments. The heart is the other area of interest. There will be total stillness and relaxation and yet a heaviness in the chest.
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Volatile reactions and side effects seem to be decreasing. I don’t seem to need to ground after practice. I no longer get anxiety from the sense of silence. The body contractions that at one time were full-body convulsions have become less frequent and much less intense. 
Sam Gentile, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Remind me again what the Mahayana practice is and is Abre having you do it?
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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It's a scan through different tiers of awareness, waiting for each tier to "settle" before moving on to the next. You start with the body. Usually attention is jumping around and things are energetic and disjointed and you stay with it until things calm down and you get a sense of the body as a singular object and the mind has calmed. From there you move to sound and pay attention to sound until sound also calms down and unifies. Next you focus on the state of mind which includes emotion and sense of space. The trick at the state of mind phase, for me, has been to focus on the sense of space since it is the "container" of the state of mind. Not obvious to the newbie. Last you settle into pure awareness. After you've been with awareness for a bit, you start the process again (this is why I refer to the practice as Mahayan loops). With each loop, the practice tends to get deeper and deeper. My understanding is that it is meant to be good practice for moving the mind into equanimity. Seems to work for me as long as I am not dealing with too much sleepiness.

Lots of little details and nuanced tweaks I've had to make and I still think I have lots to learn about the practice, but that's the basic idea.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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75 minutes 7:45 am
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Restlessness, aversion and doubt to start. Mind wandering, fogginess and lack of clarity. Body felt very light and insubstantial. Did a body scan to start and then on to Mahayana. Attention just wanted to rise upward. Odd feeling of being alert and energetic and yet falling asleep at the same time. Lots of drowsy, dreamy pleasant energies, like my mind is a lava lamp.  Things got quiet and more stable but never very spacious. More of a cozy sense of space. My daughter was upstairs crying, but it wasn’t agitating. Pleasant tranquility and mindfulness. Did some self inquiry. Eventually checked the timer and saw that I forgot to set it.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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60 minutes 10 am

Been missing logging some days and skipping some days as I’ve been getting over a cold this week. Today’s session started drowsy and foggy with some mind wandering and restlessness in the body. Lots of feelings of wanting to readjust sitting positions. The drowsiness remained but it felt like I got deeper into it and there were some really interesting fun absorptions that felt out of balance, and wobbly, like a spring bubbling out of the ground. Almost had a drunk coziness to it. Really dialed down the effort and let the subconscious do the work. Space and well-being opened on their own. Noticed emptiness and reactions to emptiness. Got into some deep equanimity and tried to take a very gentle touch to everything. Did some self inquiry in this place. Just sending out the questions gently and then completely letting go. Generally feeling positive about practice lately.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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2/28
55 minutes 10 am

Things seemed to rev up pretty fast. Quiet house, quiet mind. Started with some metta then jumped into the Mahayana. Some drowsiness. Things progressed okay. Towards the end, sleepiness increased and I started to get lost a ton in thoughts. Finished up with noting eyes open.

3/1
60 minutes 8am

Effortless practice. Started with a strong intention of faith and acceptance. Noticed in my practice from the day before that there was some ill will towards the mind wandering at the end. Let go of almost all effort. Loosely followed the Mahayana practice. A sense of pleasant calmness and well-being throughout most of the practice. Half way through the wife and baby came back from walking the kids to school. Noises were totally fine. Did some asking of , “Who is experiencing X?” with minimal effort. Also played around with, “look how it is aware.” Noticed lots of subtle attitudes about practice: anticipation, approval, prediction, fantasy, satisfaction. Mind felt very pliable and fun to play with. Did a sweep of the channel of sensations from the bottom of the spine up to the crown of the head, over the front of the face down the nose, into the nostrils and down the throat to the heart, guts and back to the base of the spine. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
60 minutes 9:50 am

Lots of pleasant feelings on and off the cushion over the past few days. Feels like summer vacation as a kid. The feel of clothes on my body feel light, crisp and pleasant. Everything feels okay, but like a really nice "okay".

On cushion today things took their own course. Tried to follow a loop but the mind had its own plans. Mind wandering, sleepiness, but not very concentrated or clear. A big woosh of sleepiness that I rode for about 15 minutes. Things stabilized a bit but it was still drowsy and ambling. All very, very pleasant. Stopped and just followed the breath for a bit which felt like making love. I can best sum up today as a giant, drugless bong hit. ​​​​​​​
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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3/4

60 minutes 8 am
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Started with a mantra that I used to do when I first started meditating, “Breathing in, I clear my mind, breathing out, I smile.” Without trying to smile I am finding my face tightening at the corners of my mouth and a smile forming. A sense of well-being right out of the gate.
Mind felt buoyant to start with. Felt difficult to settle attention on the body. A bit like trying to dive underwater with a life jacket. Just followed the absorptions. Sleepy, dreamy, mind wandering, cozy and pleasant. Sound at the beginning seemed to fill a lot of space. Ringing in my ears felt loud and large and detected lots of nuances in the sound. A rotor like sound, a deep low wobby hum. 
With time things opened up a bit but I still felt like I was mostly letting the mind do its own thing. I can sense space expanding and then the sense will fade. Did a bit of Mahayana but it was disorganized and would get derailed.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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3/7
60 minutes 8am

Started right off with Mahayana according to adjustments made with Abre last session. Spending time to let the body settle with the correct eye posture (lower, towards tip of the nose). Letting 1st jhana develop and sense of body unify and grow still and stable. 

Focusing on the visual field at that point and letting 2nd jhana develop. Warm sensations in the body. Pleasant flowing pressure in the face, a sense of buoyancy. 
Loop continues as usual, but is subtly “tighter”.  A little less letting the hot air balloon fly up into the stratosphere. I make a note of the specific sensations at each point. Eye posture begins to move upwards at the sound phase.

At the transition to mind pleasant waves and pressure flows around the face. Things become cozier and foggier. A sense of the body getting heavy and coolness on the arms. I do a bit of cueing to encourage spatial opening, but things stay intimate and warm.
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I do a few more loops. Returning the eye posture lower as I restart. It takes until the last few minutes of practice for space to really start opening up and to feel like I’m really transitioning into 4th Jhana. Things get more spacious, but not infinite. Open like a large room, very still and calm. I do a bit of investigation of self, but not much. Some dreaminess.
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SushiK, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Sounds like a pleasant place to be.
About the eye posture, is it with eyes open or close?
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Eyes are closed, but I open them occasionally if I'm not sure of their position. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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As I think about it, I don't think the eyes open or closed is really critical, but eye position seems to make a difference.
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SushiK, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 113 Join Date: 6/11/20 Recent Posts
Interesting, I will raise the topic with Abre for our next session ahaha but would you mind giving some explanation on why eye posture is important?

I meditate with eyes closed 99% of the time, looking mostly at my eyebrows it seems. Not by intent, just automatism.
I have been wondering if looking up wasn't creating more tension sometimes, I often have this feeling of pressure around the eyes/forehead.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I don't understand exactly what's going on. I remember Abre recommended a lower eye posture when we were working on concentration earlier last year, and the cue didn't quite work for me. This time around she ran me through a guided meditation with lots of details including changes in eye posture which took me up into the fourth jhana in about 15 minutes. Been trying to reproduce it but I end up spending most of my sessions in 3rd jhana (drowysiness, lack of clarity, pleasant, cozy, lots of flowing sensations).<br /><br />I have noticed that I can trigger or even push an absorption by rolling my eyes up. I think my use of it is pretty clumsy though.<br /><br />The pressure in the eyes/forehead is something I experience too. I think I've been noticing that for over a year now. It seems very common with practicioners, maybe just at an earlier phase (I keep hoping it'll dissipate at Stream Entry). I think it has to do with sensations of self hanging out in that general area. Sometimes it will really feel heavy and even give me headaches (rare) but it can also loosen up or stretch out in practice. Lots of the pleasantness in practice seems to emanate from that area. Again, it might just be the phase of practice I'm in. It can be funny to feel it so intensely that it feels like I'm scrunching my brow then I look in the mirror and my face will be totally relaxed.&nbsp;
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1667 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Kenneth Folk was teaching me to develop Jhanas by eyeballs moving upwards. You don't force them upwards but keep visualizing colors for each Jhana. At some stage the eyes should roll all the way up into the skull emoticon We never reached that far as I was 100% set on freestyle noting aloud. Glad I followed my hunch here emoticon 

However I do not remember what color was for which Jhana. But yes he too talks about eyeballs rolling gently upwards with each higher Jhana. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
It was easier to nail down at the earlier stages, things fell apart for me as the eye posture moved upwards. There's a point where the eyelids are suppossed to start subtly fluttering that I couldn't quite get. I guess it's one of thos metrics indicate where your progress is. 

I'll have to ask about colors. Abre also did give cues about where my focus should be at certain points. Eye posture down with focus on the body was more of a 1st jhana territory (still don't know quite how to recognize it, but that's what Abre was saying) eye posture down focusing on the back of the eyelids brough me into 2nd Jhana (sitting in a warm bath type feeling).

Do you intentionally go to any Jhanas or do they mostly arise spontaneously for you?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1667 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
No intentions on my part. I was never interested in knowing the fine details or mastering anything. I'm rather raw emoticon I'm infantry emoticon boot camp , come what may. As long there is Dukkha up front leading the way I'm not giving up. 

But yes Jhanas happen readily at times and at times not so much. I'm likely talking depth of absorption and vividness of it in all its forms. 

For me the first two pass rather fast or not so clear. However I do recognize 3rd Jhana. I know the murk very well. If there is strong absorption that's where you will find me emoticon if you are there come by for a drink emoticon 

Not sure how folks go about this. I have a feeling that 5th Jhana totally wiped out the enjoyment for the material Jhanas for me back in 2009. By loosing the 5th I likely learned that these things suffer from 3C's just like anything else emoticon so I developed dispassion for absorptions as such. 

Dunno. Maybe I'm just rumbling here emoticon 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/9
60 minutes 8 am

More of the same. Noticing wanting arising over and over again and dissatisfaction that things aren’t how I’d like them to be -- space is not open enough, sound is not unified, awareness is not whatever it’s supposed to be. Practice is effortless regardless. Little agitation, lots of pleasantness, stillness and absorptions. I’m sure it’s some sort of Jhana but not sure which. Generally more fluid and cozy, so prolly 3rd. ​​​​​​​
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/10
58 minutes 8am

Same pattern. I feel pretty confident with body and sound. Things get more unpredictable after that. About half way through I felt a strong second Jhana (warm surging upward energy). It peaked then the energy fell into a 3rd Jhana (heavy, coolness, fluid) I stuck with that, my instinct being that it would lead to fourth jhana and it did. Eventually it cleared out and opened up. After that I kind of let things go. Did a bit of exploring space. A bit of investigating self. Unsure about what to do from there. Did some noting too. I seem to be doing two techniques here. I follow the loop, and then when I feel jhanas, I switch over and ride that wave, then go back to the loops. More of a sense of the mind doing its own thing again today. Discomfort in the butt was pretty intense. Wrapped up a few minutes early.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I thought I'd include this super-sophisticated diagram to explain what my practice has felt like over the past year. The right side seems like its getting even more subtle than I can draw here and there would be lots more oscillations if I were to really represent every event of the last year.

My post from about a week ago is a good indicator of how the highs feel now. Sutble, but still very nice. A good example of the lows would be some nightmares I had the other day. They were of the same type that I had in 2020, but much less novel and agitating. There was a sense of familiarity and even bravado with them. In the past, if there was some sort of vast chasm, or dark door, it would make my heart race with anticipation of what would emerge from the dark,. I'd usually get so spooked and wake up. This time, every time there was a threshold of the unknown I would explicitly find myself saying, "I'm gonna look in there" or "I'm gonna go in there" or I'm gonna dive into that maelstrom .

Oddly, these effects rarely manifest during practice. They are mostly felt off-cushion and in the liminal space between dreams at night. Practice itself has mostly been pleasant in the last year, with the exception of a few months of sleepiness during every sit.

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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/12

60 minutes 7 am

Started with a resolution to reach 4th jhana. Most of the session was just one progression up to awareness. Very carefully observing and testing jhanas and how and when they present themselves. Oddly I noticed my belly for the first time in a long long time sitting in the middle of my body. As the sensations in the body settled and unified I visualized it all as an extension of the belly -- my whole body expanding and contracting with the belly. I imagined a pyramid that enveloped the body and as the belly/body expanded it pressed against the envelope.

As 3rd Jhana came on, during the sound phase, I placed my attention on the periphery. Not sure what others mean by that, but in this case there are normally flowing pleasant sensations right in front of me. Rather than getting absorbed in that I paid attention to the periphery of my field of view and the sensations on the exterior of my arms and face and imagined two symmetrical planes extending out at an angle from the right and left sides of my body and vision. Noticed that it was very quiet and still within that area. With time the energy in front of me seemed to calm and it all opened up together.

Progressed into awareness. Did some gentle investigation of self. Asking, “who observes this?” and then letting some sense of observer spontaneously emerge and turning the questions there. As the sense of self emerged as the point-of-view-of-the-eyes I asked, “who is aware of this?” and there was a sudden softening in the head area including a decrease in tension in the brow sensations. Awareness and space opened up. Things were perceived very clearly as they arose. Did some more investigation of self and noted sensations as they arose with investigative language -- “who is feeling anticipation?” ect. Noticed craving emerge and a sense of something cool happening. Investigated unpleasant feelings I’ve been having over the last few days and noticing how they connect to self. A sense of calm, stillness, emptiness and stability for the rest of the sit.

Ended when I had to use the bathroom. Seems to be a nice natural meditation timer. Funny how often it hits right around an hour.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 2437 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
hi Brandon, your practice is so strong right now, and I'm enjoying your log so much, what else can I say? Loving your turn into the graphic arts, too, both the graph here and the fantastic little chubby-ass buddhas with purple bliss on "periphery" thread.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks man. I gotta flex my art chops every once and awhile. Those were quicker, but it'd be fun to take a bit more time with creating artistic representation of phenomenology. My ambition is to do with drawing what Frank Yang does with gesticulation.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/13

60 minutes 7:30 am

Started normal. House was quiet for the first quarter. Family woke up and started making lots of noise, so I put on headphones. Things got very drowsy and there was lots of mind wandering and annoyance. Mostly stayed in that place the whole time, so there was awareness but it was all foggy. Did some noting towards the end and I may have dipped into the 4th jhana here and there.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Looks like I'm in another sleepiness phase. That's all I can really say over the last few days. Don't know if my mind is to blame, or my kids. One thing is for sure, I can rock 60 minutes of sleepiness like it's nothing, which is a certainly an improvement on my last sleepy phase.

I know it's customary to wait a year and a day to claim attainments, but I'm gonna go ahead and break with convention and claim that I've attained the coveted distinction of good-at-meditating-while-sleepy.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1538 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
That's a pretty solid attainment IMO - seeing the difference between sleepiness because tired and sleepiness to numb out emoticon
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I know it sounds funny, but it does feel like legit progress.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1538 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sometimes I find it helpful to allow myself to drift off during a sit and watch the falling asleep process, then snapping back feeling remarkably refreshed :-)
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Brandon Dayton, modified 28 Days ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 456 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I feel like I've experienced this, but I don't get he refreshed part when I snap back! 
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Siavash ', modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1204 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Brandon
Don't know if my mind is to blame, or my kids. One thing is for sure

I notice that in my experience, the above assumption is a source of great pain and suffering, assuming that there should be someone or something to blame.., that if it wasn't because of that someone or something, I'd be satisfied.

I think there doesn't need to have someone or something to blame. If possible, we can assume that there can be difficulty/discomfort without someone or something that should be guilty because of that (including ourselves of course). Things just happen and for most of them we just don't know what causes what.

Congratulation for your planned retreat Brandon emoticon

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