RE: Patricia's Practice Log

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Patricia M., modified 20 Days ago.

Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/13/10 Recent Posts
Hi all

It has been a couple of years (more than 11, wow…) since I stumbled upon and rested my curious head on DHO for a while. I had been a silent reader for a long time before I thought I was "ready" for insight practice. The urge of getting to know the territory (concepts) kept me from just sitting and practicing, because I felt desperate to know where the fuck I was walking into (fear of “the point of no return”) and my concept-driven, controlling mind needed a crouch to cling to. I was doing Samatha before, but without having a teacher or knowing how to progress. When MCTB and DHO crossed my path, I got really excited but also tremendously terrified. Here were the maps I was looking for - beautifully straightforward – and people who just sat and practiced their asses off. I was in awe.

Short recap of my practice back then: I meditated regularly over a shorter period of time (a couple of months if I remember correctly), until I did a 15 days retreat. Not sure which stage I hit before the retreat, probably 1.-3., so much time has passed that I'm having trouble remembering. In retrospect I have to call it a bootcamp, because the practice conditions were being intensified over it's two weeks duration and accumulated in very challenging three days without sleep, just meditating in my room with short breaks. I took some notes during the retreat (wasn’t allowed, did it anyway); in case you are interested: Retreat post 
(I edited this old post today, that’s why it got pushed up to recent posts; I didn’t know this would happen – sorry for that.)
I guess I made some progress on this retreat, but it was so demanding and intense that I quit meditating afterwards and assume that I am cycling through the dukkha nanas since then; most of the time slightly noticeable, sometimes more recognisable, but never utterly unbearable apart from a few short dark and desperate phases.

Long story short: I don’t know how and why it happened, but a couple of days ago I came back here, started reading again (and realized I have to become accustomed to the terminology again) and decided to get back to practicing and noting. I did meditate from time to time over the years, even did a short five days retreat end of November (even though it was a Yoga and meditation retreat), but never insight practice.

Now, there is a strong impulse to start over.
And that’s why I’m starting my first practice journal here.

05.02.2021: 20 minutes sit. First time of noting after 9 years (and fourth sit over the last four days).
A couple of minutes Anapanasati in the beginning to get access concentration which was surprisingly easy established. Started slow freestyle noting, because I couldn’t come up with any other noting technique in this moment, one note per second and I used my breath and my thumbs touching as anchors (e.g. inhale, hearing, touching, warm, thought, exhale, itching, pressure, image, inhale, hearing, touching, calm, sitting, question, exhale, joy, tingling…).
It was enjoyable and effortless, I felt calm and content, no pressure to speed things up. After some time the left part of my body (leg, torso, arm) started trembling/shaking in waves and wouldn't stop. It was not unpleasant, on the contrary, it felt like releasing tension and even made me smile. The waves spread to the middle of my torso and further to the right part of my body until every part of it except my head was trembling/shaking which lasted until the timer went off and I started moving. I kept noting during these 5-10 minutes even though my mind would have liked to indulge in these weirdly very enjoyable bodily sensations.


I've got the feeling that this slow freestyle noting is the right thing to do for me now in the beginning, since there is almost no effort involved and my mind doesn’t wander off, although I notice more than I note. Am I too lazy?
So my question is: Should I note everything I am aware of even though this would mean speeding up significantly and making an effort but probably resulting in pressuring myself? Or should I follow Shargol’s structured noting practice I discovered two days ago? Presumably the ladder. Or should I just keep on noting the way I did today?

Thanks for reading. Every comment/suggestion is welcome.
Patricia

EDIT: I know my question seems to be a bit early - after just one sit - but I'm going to do a short online hence home Vipassana retreat next week from Wednesay evening until Sunday midday and I would like to get some advice for starting a proper noting practice again. 
George S, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 1228 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Patricia, welcome back! It sounds like you already have a good noting foundation. What worked for me was just chucking all the doubts and thoughts about practice into the noting mix! So the noting stream would go something like this:

- Noting that freestyle noting feels right
- Noting that I notice more than I note
- Noting wondering if I am lazy
- Noting wondering whether to note more
- Noting concern about pressuring myself
- Noting wondering whether to follow different practice instructions or stick with what I'm doing
Etc.

I'm not being flippant, once you're noting all the basic sensations then it's normal for the mind to throw up doubts as a kind of defense strategy, so the best thing to do is just keep noting them. I really like Mahasi Sayadaw's Progress of Insight instructions which can be found as Chapter 5 of his Manual of Insight. It gives a good sense of the overall progression of noting practice and he is very disciplined about the need to note everything.

Good Luck!
George
Tim Farrington, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 2385 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hello, Patricia, and welcome back to the mat, and the company of people meditating their asses off. I had a good laugh when your old post surfaced yesterday after your edit; the update on the current DhO format made it appear that Nikolai had given you the feedback on your retreat report nine years before you took the retreat, which was mind-blowing, I thought we had a great temporal anomaly here, lol, and that you and Nikolai were probably time travelers from the future stopping in here to give us crucial lessons about the cosmos from the fifth dimension, and seeding samsara with eternity.

I've got the feeling that this slow freestyle noting is the right thing to do for me now in the beginning, since there is almost no effort involved and my mind doesn’t wander off, although I notice more than I note. Am I too lazy?
So my question is: Should I note everything I am aware of even though this would mean speeding up significantly and making an effort but probably resulting in pressuring myself? Or should I follow Shargol’s structured noting practice I discovered two days ago? Presumably the ladder. Or should I just keep on noting the way I did today?


My gut says you already answered your own question: "I've got the feeling that this slow freestyle noting is the right thing to do for me now in the beginning, since there is almost no effort involved and my mind doesn’t wander off, although I notice more than I note." You're NOT too lazy. You got overwhelmed the first time around partly because you were the opposite of too lazy; I suspect you are a deeply conscientious person and that "pressuring yourself" in excess is much more likely to be a characteristic problem for you. Shargrol is fantastic, and we are bless to have his compilation available here. But there's plenty of time for that, once you've had your butt back on the mat for a bit and gotten settled in to a regular, "unheroic" (a favorite word of Shargrol's, for describing the best practice) meditation practice, one you can commit to whole-heartedly and stay with. Slow freestyle noting gains speed and precision and nuance as you gain skill and discernment. The real thing is to do it, meditate your ass off in good steady unheroic fashion, without urgency, pressure, or fear. (Noting "urgency," "pressure," and "fear," of course, lol, all our old friends do pass through). So my two cents' worth would be "just keep on noting the way I did today."

How wonderful that you've found meditative landfall again, after such a long odyssey! May your practice flourish, and may this sangha, with the Buddha and the Dharma, be a support and joy and refuge to you on the path. I look forward to the fascination of watching your story continuing to unfold. Thank you for sharing it.
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Patricia M., modified 19 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

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Hi George, thanks for the welcome and the wishes. You were not being flippant at all, on the contrary, your example is very useful because it’s more refined than my current thought noting and I forgot to note doubt.
Pointing me to Mahasi’s practical instructions was also a good idea, it feels like ages since I read it. Particularly valuable for me right now is the part about noting intentions as “wanting to” especially with regard to movements.

Hi Tim, thank you too for the welcome and your friendly words. Your answer to my old post was hilarious, I had a good laugh!
You gut is right: The initial pace felt most natural so far. And I can be a quite conscientious person (I had to look up the word and felt caught ;) and yes, I know this problem. Furthermore, my mind loves planning and imagining results before I even made the first step. Impatience is one of my biggest obstacles.
"Slow freestyle noting gains speed and precision and nuance as you gain skill and discernment." I will keep this in mind and remind myself when rushing ahead, thanks. 



06.02.2021: 20 minutes sit
Started with breath counting (1-10) and switched to freestyle noting after the third round. Pressure in my chest and tension in my back during the whole sit plus shallow breathing and lots of external sounds got me irritated and impatient and led to faster noting of the experiences mentioned which resulted in a feedback loop and some resistance and aversion. After slowing down again towards the end of the sit I became aware that my main non-conscious focus of noting was physical sensations followed by feelings and urges but barely any thought noting, perhaps due to too fast noting suppresses thoughts?


07.02.2021: 30 minutes sit
Experimented with noting speed: After a few minutes of noting approx. one note per second, I slowed down to note only breathing in and out plus one or two other phenomena in between. It seems that this was a bit slow for my monkey mind as more and more thoughts arose; almost all of them were labelled “inner monologue” and “planning”, because my verbal mind was talking to itself about how to best describe what is happening right now – in English (I’m not a native speaker). Was a bit distracting but also amusing, as I normally don't talk to myself in English. ^^
Physically, the same trembling in my left part of the body arose again with a more subtle quality, did not spread and was short-lived.


Reflecting on my first three sits (and the ones the days before without noting), I would say that my level of awareness/concentration is not bad as I rarely get lost in thought and if it’s only for a short period.

But I feel that I’m lacking clarity (I'm not sure if this is the right term here) or as Shargrol has put it: “The main challenge is that you must get used to (over time) being on the level of direct experience rather than interpreted experience.“ and “The last thing I’ll say is that the direct and intimate experience of sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts are like a gateway.” I guess that my attention is not focused enough on the object I’m noting because there is too much other stuff I’m noticing, like the "background noise" distracts parts of my attention? ...I think I’m lacking focus. Something to observe more closely.
And I’m having a difficulty with noting emotions (not feelings or urges), so I might have to spend some time focusing on emotions soon.
George S, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 1228 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Patricia M.
Reflecting on my first three sits (and the ones the days before without noting), I would say that my level of awareness/concentration is not bad as I rarely get lost in thought and if it’s only for a short period.
But I feel that I’m lacking clarity (I'm not sure if this is the right term here) or as Shargrol has put it: “The main challenge is that you must get used to (over time) being on the level of direct experience rather than interpreted experience.“ and “The last thing I’ll say is that the direct and intimate experience of sensations, urges, emotions, and thoughts are like a gateway.” I guess that my attention is not focused enough on the object I’m noting because there is too much other stuff I’m noticing, like the "background noise" distracts parts of my attention? ...I think I’m lacking focus. Something to observe more closely.
And I’m having a difficulty with noting emotions (not feelings or urges), so I might have to spend some time focusing on emotions soon.

I'll try and apply shargrol's advice to your report above (apologies shargrol!) My aim is not to be critical but to try and show how interpretation and judgement of one's experience acts like a subtle form of ill will. When you say that "my level of awareness/concentration is not bad", it implies that there is a such a thing as a bad level awareness/concentration and maybe you are pleased not to be in it or fear falling into it or would judge yourself poorly if you did? It's hard to find non-pejorative words, but everyone has fluctuations in their relative level of concentration and the important thing is to notice and accept that rather than judge it as better/worse. Everyone gets lost in thought at times as well and again it's just noticing "lost in thought" rather than "bad". Likewise the phrases "lacking clarity" and "not focused enough" seem to carry a subtle self-judgement, as if it's somehow not good enough. Really it's just the case that clarity and focus wax and wane like any other mental state and the key is learning to accept that rather than judge it. (Indeed a more diffuse focus is one of the key characterstics of the "dark night" stages or third vipassana jhana.) Emotions can seem to be a complex topic and we might have all sorts of ideas about how they *should* be, but when we look closely we notice that all we can really see are sensations in the body and some associated thoughts. Finally the idea that you "have to spend some time" in one way or another comes back to this aspect of "conscientiousness" or pressuring yourself to do the right thing (whatever that is). Part of meditation for you might just be getting more intimate with that feeling of self-pressure and seeing how it creates a subtle sense that THIS (current experience) is not good enough. Again I don’t mean to be critical of you and I hope I’m not projecting too much on you, as I have a lot of self-critical conditioning myself!
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Patricia M., modified 19 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

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Weird and funny, I was writing an answer to your practice log in notepad, but before posting it I saw your answer here, read it first and now I'm almost too ashamed (...) to post it, but I'm doing it anyway, because its content is somehow not so far from what you've just said, at least with regards to myself. I have to re-read your answer, because I have to digest it first. ;)
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Patricia M., modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

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George, I’m having a bit of a hard time answering your last post.
Before replying to its content, I’d like to share the lessons I’ve drawn from it:
- Be precise when communicating on this forum. Using my everyday language might lead to misunderstandings. “Not bad” for example, see below.
- The first lesson is directly related to and rooted in the fact that I’m not a native speaker. Some thoughts I can easily write down in English without having to think twice, others I have to actively translate in my mind, write them down, see if the message gets transported with the written words (and no other, unintended message in between) and read them at least twice before posting. This process takes time and the tricky part is trying to sense if I got the nuances right. Especially difficult when I have to look up a word and get 10 suggestions for the same word in my language. The lesson is: Keep it simple, do not try to sound as eloquent as a native speaker is by nature. emoticon
- Be sure you get triggered by someone’s words here and be sure to trigger others with your words. Relax, it will happen and is a chance to look at your trigger point.

Your post helped me to look at possible subtle self-judgment I might not be aware of but was recognisable in my words. There surely is a subtle form of self-criticism, because I used to be self-judgmental in the past and it hasn’t gone completely yet, but when reading your reply, I can only conclude that you are overinterpreting my words. For example: “I feel/I think I’m lacking clarity/focus” are just assumptions and have no negative feeling tone to/for me. Or “not bad”: I could have written “I was delighted about the level of awareness of the first few sits.” Means exactly the same to me.
I guess I know you meant well and I appreciate that you took time to answer, however, the feeling I got from the overall tone wasn’t that positive. E.g., I don’t get why you would write “It's hard to find non-pejorative words” – what was it that irritated you so much?

(I would have preferred to use a PM function, but obviously there isn’t one…)


08.02.2021: 2x 30 minutes

1. Anapanasati: I decided to practice concentration on my breath for the whole first sit, in order to have time for playing with focus and effort. I was curious to find out how much effort is at least required to stay focused on the object after a very short night with only 4.5 hours of sleep. Surprisingly, not much, it was a relaxed and pleasant sit. When the timer chimed, the bell induced a sudden change in my bodily experience: The upper half of my body expanded at bit and it felt as if hundreds of tiny bubbles were released and evaporated through my skin. Stayed in this pleasant, delicate experience for about two, three minutes and got up.

2. Noting: Nothing much to say about this sit, except my noting pace was very slow but felt right at this moment and towards the end my hands kind of disappeared. There was just the perception of warmth but nothing physical/material.
George S, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 1228 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I'm sorry Patricia, I over-interpreted my own self-critical attitude onto your experience.
Best wishes,
George
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Patricia M., modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

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Absolutely no need to apologize, George. Overall, I get your point and it is valuable for me.
I’m going to explore this further. I tend to assume that I know my pitfalls, but I also know that there are others on more subtle level I’m not aware of yet.

​​​​​​​
Tim Farrington, modified 17 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 2385 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
It's weird and funny, Patricia and George, that you two went through a round of clarification in communication, because I could actually have seen the whole exchange collapsing into laughter for both of you instead, and thought it might, somewhere along the lines of, "In working on my own shame, I'm ashamed to say I think I shamed you," and the reply of, "I'm ashamed to have had my shame triggered, it's a shameful thing. I'm ashamed to not be working harder and better and UTTERLY PERFECTLY on Never Ever Being Ashamed!!!!" 

I'm ashamed of myself for finding this funny. But English is not my first language either. My first language is obscure untranslatable black humor.

You're both so well-meaning, lol. In the china shop of every soul, language is a bull. What is your native language, Patricia, if you don't mind me asking? Your English is so excellent it is very easy to forget it is a second language for you.

English is not George's first language either, which explains a lot. We don't know what his first language is yet, but if he keeps digging, he will probably unearth it at some point. (I am hoping like hell that everyone understands that I am joking, George in particular. He actually gets most of my bad jokes, despite the language barrier.) 
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Patricia M., modified 15 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

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Tim, your post induced a welcomed change of perspective. Nice one.
But: I’m German. And you know that Germans are lacking (every possible) sense of humour.


10.02.2021: 25 minutes + 10 minutes “bodywork”
This was an interesting sit. The sit was after about an hour of introduction to the upcoming “short online home retreat”. First of all, I had to wear my noise cancellation on-ears, because my neighbour above me was having a drum session. After a day with low energy while working, some moments of aversion and aggression while doing hectic groceries shopping before the start of the home retreat and a – for my palate – poor introduction to Vipassana, my attitude at the beginning of the sit was annoyed, snappy and I felt tense.
Trying to move my attention to my breath for some time was not possible because these on-ears amplified my heartbeat that stuck my attention. My unconscious response was to controll and pronounce the breathing. Noted. Tension grew stronger. Noted. A dominant thought arose: “fuck it, switch to noting” so I tried to note. As soon as I started noting, I started crying, the sadness and dissatisfaction I felt were due to the effort I took (I guess) that led nowhere. Kept on noting pressure and tension (in my chest and throat), sadness and dissatisfaction, thoughts of ineptitude and control but then a meta voice/thinking chimed in and this inner voice/stream of thoughts re-echoed everything I was experiencing. It annoyed me even more.
I was not able to keep on noting during the whole sit, because I didn’t manage to just observe what arose but reacted with intense aversion to the feelings and the tension. And this was what surprised me, the aversion of the feelings that surfaced. When I take time to invite the well-known sadness, I’m okay with it and don’t switch into fight mode. Today I did.
But apart from all that I was somehow still able to watch myself resisting, indulging, struggling, fighting, self-pitying, re-echoing – a part of me (somewhere in the background) just observed what was happing. There was also a tiny spark of compassion and space.
Having sat for more than 1,5 hours straight, there was an intense rush to move my body, so I got up, turned some earthy-grounding (electronic) music on and let my body do whatever it wanted to do in this moment. First it was shaking off tensions, you can’t really name this “dancing”, but since I’m doing this kind of physical practice/exercise often, “I” just step back, focus my attention on my breath and let my body do whatever it wants to do. After a couple of minutes, the shaking stopped and grounding-dancing began. It always feels like energy flows down from the root chakra into the ground and vice versa and the body supports this flow with its movements (lots of stomping or “melting” with the feet into the ground and all movements are mostly downwards).
Thanks to the impulse to dance right after the somewhat challenging sit, I feel more balanced than right after.


Edit: Noticed that "despair" was not the right word, dissatisfaction is.
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Patricia M., modified 15 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

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11.02.2021 30 + 20 minutes
I was feeling dull due to a headache, so I stayed a long time with my breath but was struggling to keep my attention to it. Impatience and resistance throughout the two sits. When I finally started noting, I noticed after a while that I only noted bodily sensations, hearing and feelings but hardly any thoughts. So I switched to noting thoughts only. It appeared as if my mind was too slow to catch a thought, I only noted it when it was already gone, there was even a gap between the end of the thought and the mental note. Mixed feelings arose, from dissatisfaction to anger to weariness. Anyway, suffering was experienced during both sits.

I will keep updating this post with the following sits today.
Tim Farrington, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 2385 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
How many Germans does it take to change a light bulb? One, obviously. The procedure is quite straightforward.

It's good to remember that you are still relatively early in the process of settling into a steady meditation routine anew, and it seems natural enough that you'll be playing with your angles and focuses and pace, trying different things, trying old things again to see how they are in this new phase, trying new things to see how they are with this old mind. 

The basic noting practice is to note whatever comes in through the six sense doors (the five physical senses, and the mind, i.e., thoughts), in the light of the three characteristics. Those simple instructions give rise to the unimaginable vastness and complexity of meditative experience; a little more emphasis here, a sustained attention there, an extra beat of noting this or that characteristic, there are infinite variations possible, in every kind of weather. You've shown a real feel for your pace, from the start of this renewed phase, you've been able to discern the effects of "too slow" or "too fast" or "just right." That comes from experience, and trust in yourself: a postivive feedback loop, more experience, more trust, leading to more experience. And you will refine your feel for the "balance" in your noting; whenever possible see it in the simplest terms: what is obvious, what presents itself to the attention. Even: what is interesting? You are an intense person, ernst und aufrichtig, and anything you can do to be easy with yourself in your practice is going to be golden. Like your post-sit dancing, lol, which was beautiful! 

I just think you're doing great, basically.
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Patricia M., modified 9 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

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Before I’m moving towards the description of my last couple of days, I’d like to say a big thank you to you, Tim. Your answer was exactly the mirroring and endorsement I needed at this time, even I wasn’t aware of this "neediness" at this point.
I guess I’ve heard quite a lot of lightbulb jokes, but this was the first with Germans. This grain of salt…

Back from my mini online home Vipassana retreat. At the beginning I thought I would post my experiences daily, but couldn’t come up with the extra energy and attention required to post something here, so I just took some short notes on paper after each sit. As my retreat ended Sunday noon, I’m pressuring myself to write a proper report since then. Pressuring myself leads bullseye-precise to refusal, hence I’m only half done with my summary yet. I feel that I’m holding myself more accountable if I’m posting what I’ve already written down and will finish the whole thing sooner/faster.
Long story short, here’s the summary of the first two full days (Thursday and Friday):

(I'm posting the measurements of my my lowest heart rate and average heart rate variability during a sit out of my own curiosity and maybe will posting these parameters for each sit from now on.)


11.02.2021
Morning until midday:
Had a NMRI appointment because of my morning headaches I experience every morning since mid of November. This was my first NMRI; I guess this could have been the reason for my little emotional “freak-outs” during the last two sits. Even if “I” was sure everything would be okay, there was a subconscious worry/fear that was suppressed. Meditated during this half hour with attention to the breath in my abdomen – worked pretty well even during frequencies that were more difficult to tolerate.

15:00: 30 minutes, (lowest) heart rate: 81 bpm, (average) HRV (heart rate variability): 17 ms

Elevated heart rate right from the beginning.
Observation: Most of the phenomena I noted had already dissolved when I noted them or did when attention jumped towards them. Observed as “note” – “already gone” or “note” – “dissolved”. Some phenomena seem to have a longer lasting durability and remain persistent in the background hence appear “durable” for a prolonged time.
Noted “expecting” quite often; this attitude related to my heart rate and the more subtle feeling of dissatisfaction of everything – reality right now/today.
​​​​​​​(And just to be clear: I only know my measurements in hindsight, after the sit, so if I'm writing about "an elevated heart rate", it might correlate to the objective measurements or not.)


17:00: 30 minutes (after a walk along a river), HR: 70 bpm, HRV: 24 ms

Felt more peaceful, lighter, pleasant and effortless until almost the end of the sit.
Observation:
1. Interdependence of phenomena, e.g. hearing-cringing- mental image-thought of “being startled”.
​​​​​​​2. Interdependence of thoughts and mental images: Every thought is accompanied by a mental image (even if abstract).

3. Around 99% of the thoughts during meditation are – let me put it nicely “unimportant” or more precisely just total nonsense/BS. In this sit: a lot of monologising, analysing, remembering, planning.
Newly noted/noticed: so many images, calm/tranquillity.
Towards the end an interesting physical experience arose; it felt like my upper body and my arms were opening up and getting wider with each exhalation. Only a few millimetres with each breathing out, but a steady expansion which felt very pleasant. Also noted smiling.

19:30: 30 minutes, HR: 71 bpm, HRV: 29 ms

Stayed with my breath for about 20 minutes. As soon as I corrected my pose intentionally, my heart rated elevated significantly (this is going to be happing more often in the next couple of sits), as if my mind and body would get alert and more agitated just by sitting up straight.
Observation: Every time, like every every time I settle into a certain amount of awareness/concentration and calm, a small part just a bit left of the middle of my chin (cent coin size) is beginning to vibrate. I experienced the same nine years ago every sit and here it is again consistently. I’m mentioning it now because I paid closer attention to it during this sit. It fades slowly when I’m focussing my awareness on it, but it keeps coming back. High-frequency vibrations of hundreds of micro-sensations within this tiny spot. Observing this spot functions like a 3C neon sign for me, even if right now I don’t recognise suffering.

20:30: 20 minutes Metta, HR: 56 bpm, HRV: 77 ms (!)

Best way to end this day; note to myself: do more Metta.
Felt light-hearted, touched, whole, connected and content. Interestingly low heart rate and high HRV.

12.02.2021
06:30: 30 minutes + 30 minutes, HR: 64 bpm, HRV: 52 ms
1. Samatha: Calm, content, relaxed, pleasant during the whole sit, no amplitudes
Usually, my focus of awareness when focussing on my breath just below my nostrils is very narrow, so I played with moving this one-pointed focus to just one of my nostrils. Wasn’t the first time I did this but never gets old/boring as the focus on the breath in/at one nostril leads to my mind experiencing the main breath just happening through this particular nostril – accentuated. And paradoxically letting me observe the breath through the other nostril as reversed. And vice versa, when I direct attention to the other nostril. Sounds funny, I know, and this is also how it feels, but my mind gets easily attached to this perception, hence when this happens, it requires a bit of effort to direct my attention somewhere else.
2. Noting: Mental images, images, images – observed so many mental images but didn’t pay closer attention to this observation until next day.
Slight aversion towards thoughts noted which had been here all along but only now really noticed and acknowledged (resistance towards aversion remained). I did not understand the term “ill will” before, but I do now (since I googled the five hindrances in English). So there are thoughts about rejecting (most of all) thoughts. Nice. And yes, interconnected with these rejection-thoughts are subtle or more pronounced pressure-/tightness-/hot-cold-/fluttery sensations.
In-between searching for interesting experiences – expectations. Lots of practice logging related thoughts (these ones I reject particularly and strongly I noticed;).
Got interested in the subtle movement of my hands due to inhaling and exhaling (hands folded below my navel and touching my belly), rested my attention there and noted only sensations of my hands, and was slightly amazed about the amount of sensations, didn’t even try to note all, just noticed and enjoyed.

09:30: 30 minutes, HR: 62 bpm, HRV: 62 ms

During the first 2/3 of time, I felt again very relaxed, content, quiet with almost effortless noting. Sea was calm, my boat sailed along and left post-its on its way. Eventually, the smooth sea got boring. Annoyance and restlessness arose, because these objects to note are almost always the same!! Boooooring! Dissatisfaction about my reaction pattern that showed up here: I get bored so easily. Repetition, no high amplitudes (up or down), nothing new – my monkey mind freaks out. Hence impatience and growing physical tension and pressure towards the end. Still, it was interesting to observe my monkey going bananas in such a short time. I must state, I never feel bored in everyday life, because I get into doing/distracting myself before I even can feel boredom.

11:20: 20 minutes, HR: 70 bpm, HRV: 26 ms

Agitation, twitches all over my face, disquiet, tension, overall mood okay, attention decreased during my sit significantly. Decreasing of attention was quite similar to the sit before.
Observation: Even if I’m thinking I’m okay with thoughts arising, I’m not. There’s a very subtle aversion underneath a – as superficial acknowledged - acceptance. Consequently, I have to admit that there is no real, heart-felt acceptance yet, just an intellectual or pretended one.

15:00: 25 minutes laying down, HR: 59 bpm, HRV: 86 ms

Laying down wasn’t a good idea at all, even if I felt terribly tired/lacking energy and thought it would make noting easier when the body relaxes. Most of the time I was chasing my attention because it behaved like a flea. After choking on my salvia, I quit.

17:00: 30 minutes, HR: 69 bpm, HRV: 31 ms
Forgot to take notes.

19:30: 30 minutes, HR: 82 bpm, HRV: 22 ms

Forgot to take notes.

20:40: 20 minutes Metta, HR: 64 bpm, HRV: 79 ms (!)

I love Metta. Why didn’t I incorporate it as a regular practice yet? Such an easy way to feel gratitude, benevolcence, self-acceptance, humility and connectedness.

tbc very soon, Insha'Allah
 
George S, modified 9 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 1228 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I had two MRIs last year my headaches were so strong. There was nothing to see and I realize now it's just old emotional tensions draining out of my system. I hope your results are clear.
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Patricia M., modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/13/10 Recent Posts
Thanks, George, the results were clear as predicted by my neurologist, because as you said, it is very likely caused by (emotional?) tension in my neck and shoulders. I read what you wrote about the fire element and how its distorted form manifests in Sivash’s practice log. Yes, this is my reaction to isolation and loneliness. ^^

13.02.2021

06:30: 60 minutes, HR: 65 bpm, HRV: 29 ms
After observing thoughts always followed by a mental image, I paid closer attention to mental images arising after noticing/noting something. As it turned out, there were almost every time images following a phenomenon/object. Hence I noted “object x+image”. After a while, my attention moved towards my hands: The warmth and the touching of my hands experienced as slight pressure plus tingling sensations were the only observable sensations. Looking closer, there were just many single sensations that formed the physical experience of the term “hand” and its mental image. So sensations arise/come into awareness and form thoughts and images, is this correct?
Still resting my attention at my hands, I noted slight movements, a pulsing which got a bit wavy, the strong impression that my hands twisted +180 degrees, my breath got slower and more shallow, almost no thoughts. 
Min. 38 I had to switch postures and as soon as I did my upper body started swinging slightly back and forth proceeding from the base of my spine. Then an even slighter inner trembling began and moved up my spine until my whole spine trembled/vibrated (I’m struggling to find the right expression for this experience). Delicate. My legs chimed in. I felt light(-hearted), effortless, wide, calm. It was a really pleasant experience until it dissolved. Afterwards so many objects/phenomena were observable so that I stopped noting and just noticed. There were many small twitches all over my body, a small part of my leg started pulsing and vibrating and when I moved attention to this part I was smiling until the timer went off. 

09:30: skipped

10:10: 30 minutes, HR: 69 bpm, HRV: 29 ms
Again I played with moving my narrowed attention to different objects and ended up with paying close attention to a small part of my body. As a result, this part got more vibrant, energetic and much more sensations were felt than before. I have to admit, at this point of my practice I got a bit bored with noting, so discovering an interesting object and moving towards it, my attention gets pinpointed without any effort. After the sit I wasn’t sure if it’s a good idea to let my monkey jump to and grab the most shiny (pleasing!) banana instead of noting 1.000 normal bananas without or lesser intention to grab them.

11:20: 30 minutes, HR: 73 bpm, HRV: 23 ms
Slight agitation, restlessness and tension in my chest and abdomen in the beginning.Again: Interconnectedness of phenomena, especially noticeable when swallowing: There is the intention to swallow, my attention moves to my mouth and the spot under my tongue, then more salvia is produced just by being attentive of this spot, a second intention to swallow arises, swallowing happens, a mental pictures arises and I observe the process of swallowing: Of how many different sensations it is composed. Noted being bored because almost always the same sensations present themselves, as I have said about thoughts before: Same same almost not different except for a few. ARGH. No wonder my monkey seeks new/interesting things all the time. So I’m noting boredom, expectations, resistance, aversion, restlessness, tension and I’m noting aversion towards noting aversion and the rest. I can still sit and be with this, even though it produces itchiness and more tension as a physical reaction. Why, this early - at the beginning of my renewed practice, do I get bored from noting? Boredom seems to be a hindrance right now. 

15:00: 33 minutes, HR: 79 bpm, HRV: 26 ms
Many external sounds: Noted hearing, jerking, mental image, subtle rejection. Many small twitches, my spine feels unstable (slight wobbling(?)). Urges/intentions: Re-erecting, moving, swallowing, raising head, scratching. Unease and agitation arose with pressure in my throat and chest/area of the heart. “There is pressure”. Sadness. “There is sadness”. It was intense but short-lived when I noted it and turned my attention to it, although the imprint was noticeable a while longer. Towards the end of the sit I added to my noting “pleasant, unpleasant, neutral” after each noted object. 

19:30: 30 minutes, HR: 79 bpm, HRV: 27 ms
Spend some time observing the sensations at the tip of my tongue as they felt like thousands of mini champagne bubbles tingling in waves. When hearing my neighbours above me talking while I was noting, an unpleasant memory arose that was accompanied by palpitation, tightness, tension, discomfort. Even when moving my attention to my chest/heart the sensations didn’t lessen, followed by a feeling of powerlessness. But apart from this, I wasn’t able to note the feeling(s) associated with the sensations I listed. 

20:40: Metta, 20 minutes, HR: 69 bpm, HRV: 57 ms
<3


14.02.2021

06:30: 53 minutes, HR: 68 bpm, HRV: 23 ms
Again I noted a subtle aversion towards thoughts and when focusing my attention to the aversion, sadness about this resistance surfaced. When I replaced the word aversion with rejection, sadness got more intense and got me thinking about how much I wittingly and unwittingly reject (small things but also myself and my life circumstances, even though I consider them as quite nice usually). It also dawned on me how often I am not present in the moment but disconnecting from direct experience by getting lost in thoughts. Next realisation was how often I am in resistance with what is directly experienced because it is “not enough”/“not good enough” or even boring. Stayed with this sense of resistance and rejection/aversion which was exhausting, especially since there were many thoughts about wanting things to be different (posture, breath, ending the sit) and not being able to stop controlling my breath.

09:40: 20 minutes, HR: 81 bpm, HRV: 32 ms
Agitation, many thoughts, wandering off, then applied too much effort which resulted in resistance.

11:00: Metta, 20 minutes, HR: 67 bpm, HRV: 39 ms
Agitation and restlessness remained. 

End of the mini-retreat


15.02.2021 30 minutes, HR: 74 bpm, HRV: 24 ms
The inner trembling/vibrating was back, this time starting in the pelvis and spreading to the centre of the body and legs. It felt pleasant and gentle. When paying attention to it, I noticed of how many sensations it was composed and wavelike they grew stronger and fainter. They disappeared completely for a short time but came back more gentle than before. At the beginning of the sit I felt calm, cheerful, relaxed and light, and while experiencing the trembling calm and vividness increased. When this experience finally faded, I observed my breath as unfettered and deep, as opposed to the more shallow, controlled/manipulated breath I noticed during most of my previous sits.

17.02.2021 30 minutes, HR: 65 bpm, HRV: 33 ms
Not much to say about this sit. There was a lot of itching and twitching and mind chatter. The main challenge was not to follow the urge to scratch but remain patient and just observe until the itches dissolved.

18.02.2021 30 minutes, HR: 79 bpm, HRV: 22 ms
20.02.2021 30 minutes, HR: 80 bpm, HRV: 21 ms
Since I experienced the last sit as almost the same like the one today, I just summarise this one. As soon as I sat down, it felt like my heart rate was increasing and I noticed agitation, restlessness and pressure in my chest - it was like a heavy weight was weighing on it and the chest itself felt more solid than usual. Hence my breath was very shallow and unpleasant as if the size of my lungs had decreased. Urges to inhale more deeply came up as well as correcting my posture several times as I kept sinking down. Almost everything I noted and noticed felt unpleasant. Many commenting thoughts and my mind wandered off several times. No boredom but impatience and aversion because even sitting on my cushion or the warmth of my hands that I usually enjoy were unpleasant and these 30 minutes seemed to last for ever. Dissatisfaction kept growing, noting was difficult as there was so much unpleasant stuff going on the whole time and I had to force myself a bit to remain attentive and keep on noting and not just stop and get up. On the bright side, it was still interesting to observe all this and I’m glad it did not quit. 
George S, modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 1228 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
You are noticing all the right kinds of things and it  sounds like you are firmly in the dukkha nanas. The key is accepting the suckiness as much as you can, even embracing it, because this is all stuff that has to come out one way or the other and you will feel better once it does. Hang in there. emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 2385 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hi Patricia, and thanks for the detailed update. And your mini-retreat was great, very inspiring. It is easy for us to sell ourselves short, because we know perfectly well how dense and gnarly our experience on the mat can be, as we learn to live with and become more aware of the workings of our minds and bodies. But to commit to a retreat like that, alone and unsupported, and to work that hard: that is remarkable, and beautiful. I just glanced back over your first post on this log, where you gave some of your story, and you said, "When MCTB and DHO crossed my path, I got really excited but also tremendously terrified. Here were the maps I was looking for - beautifully straightforward – and people who just sat and practiced their asses off. I was in awe." It's not a bad moment to realize that you are one of those people now (and again!), sitting and practicing your ass off.

Since I experienced the last sit as almost the same like the one today, I just summarise this one. As soon as I sat down, it felt like my heart rate was increasing and I noticed agitation, restlessness and pressure in my chest - it was like a heavy weight was weighing on it and the chest itself felt more solid than usual. Hence my breath was very shallow and unpleasant as if the size of my lungs had decreased. Urges to inhale more deeply came up as well as correcting my posture several times as I kept sinking down. Almost everything I noted and noticed felt unpleasant. Many commenting thoughts and my mind wandered off several times. No boredom but impatience and aversion because even sitting on my cushion or the warmth of my hands that I usually enjoy were unpleasant and these 30 minutes seemed to last for ever. Dissatisfaction kept growing, noting was difficult as there was so much unpleasant stuff going on the whole time and I had to force myself a bit to remain attentive and keep on noting and not just stop and get up. On the bright side, it was still interesting to observe all this and I’m glad it did not quit. 

This is basic grinding, blue-collar, workaday meditation, in many ways: a dense, tough patch, when it seems like the best you can do is just show up and hang in. But your body is taking it very seriously--- as soon as you sit down, it's on red alert. To me, that's a sign of being in the right neighborhood. And as they say in sales: location, location, location. Just being in the right place. One thing to remember is that your body is in this with you: it is coming alive, as you mind is noticing more deeply. So let the body be scared, and disoriented, and let it find its reorientation in the new environment you are creating with your practice. No hurry, in mind or body. Remember your pace, you've been good at staying alert to pace all along, and when it gets dense and resistant, sometimes easing up on the pace the least little bit will change the dynamic. 

This struck me, from your retreat log:

20:40: 20 minutes Metta, HR: 64 bpm, HRV: 79 ms (!)
I love Metta. Why didn’t I incorporate it as a regular practice yet? Such an easy way to feel gratitude, benevolence, self-acceptance, humility and connectedness.


I actually think your noting practice is strong right now. You know how hard you are on yourself, lol, and you're working that out on the mat in daily combat. But the occasional bit of your metta practice might offer some lubrication. Just a thought. It could totally backfire and become a chore, lol. I am plagued often enough myself by my failure to accept my self's failure at self-acceptance, and the last thing you need is another item on the check list. And also, gratitude, benevolence, self-acceptance, humility, and connectedness all have a weird way of ripening on their own, and in my experience will find a way in when they're ready. 
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Patricia M., modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/13/10 Recent Posts
Thanks George for the heads up. Before reading your post, I haven’t thought about where I could be on the maps. Not sure about the dukkha nanas, I could also be lurking around 1.-3. or at 0 and just having a shitty time during a few of my sits. emoticon You could also be right, I have no idea.

Hi Tim and thank you too, your answer was helpful in many ways. It’s interesting that it isn’t easy for me to embrace/accept the first part of your reply and I’m not even sure yet whether you were joking or not (this is one of my typical reaction patterns, don’t get it wrong). 
On red alert, very accurate. I read your post directly before my sit on Sunday (21.) and I wonder if reading it before my practice gave way to how it unfolded. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. What could matter is that I might have an emphasis on sensations regarding the focus of my attention and my noting and I wonder if I should just let it unfold this way or if I should pay more attention to all sense doors. 
From my point of view, I’m not really hard on myself, I’m quite friendly with myself nowadays, compared to the past, but I get how it might look from the outside. 
​​​​​​​“I am plagued often enough myself by my failure to accept my self's failure at self-acceptance (…)” - thanks for making me cry. No, good you did. ;)
I’ll see if there is an impulse to do metta, otherwise it surely will be a chore - bye. ^^ 


21.02.2021: 35 minutes, HR: 68 bpm, HRV: 30 ms
When I started with focusing on my breath, it was like my mind couldn’t decide whether to stay on my nostrils or my abdomen. After some switching between the spots I noticed that when paying attention to my nostrils, my visual field was somehow predominantly included in the focus (the visual field is always present when observing the breath at my nostrils, but in the background). As I directed my attention directed to the visual field (eyes closed), there appeared visuals as always when observing it. I guess I indulged my mind’s desire to watch because I got tired of the switching, so I gave up trying. A large colour-changing dot with a white halo pulsing in and out, snow (TV), moving spirals, moving and pulsing of the black space - the usual stuff there is when I close my eyes for some time off-cushion.
I was calm and relaxed after a few minutes until the shaking started. At first I thought this would be the known trembling, but it wasn’t, even though it started in my pelvis/lower abdomen again. Not gentle, but harsh and at a changing but higher rate. I noted resistance and unease towards the shaking in the beginning that resulted in growing tension, so I said to myself to step back and let it do its thing a couple of times which actually worked. The shaking sensations got very intense and high-frequent, but remained limited to my pelvis and abdomen and somehow their epicentre kept moving around within this space. They didn’t get above the solar plexus or into my legs (there were just many twitches).
It was interesting, not really unpleasant or but not pleasant either, and just a slight uneasiness remained. The experience only dissolved slowly when I got up. I had the impression it was untying knots/dissolving tension. During the next couple of hours, trembling sensations showed up and passed quite often.


22.02.2021: 40 minutes, HR: 75 bpm, HRV: 22 ms 
Spent about twice as much time for settling my attention to my breath than usually, as the headache was a bit stronger today and I wandered off in thoughts more often. Sitting straight was difficult as there was a lot of tension in the upper part of my body, especially the right side where I felt a painful traction from my back to my head, jaw and arm, hence my noting revolved a lot around these unpleasant sensations. By closer observation I noticed that all the tension was restricted to the upper part of my body from my solar plexus upwards to the top of my head, with my chest and my throat being the tightest parts where there was most of the pressure located. There was no tension observable where yesterday’s shaking happened.
​​​​​​​Again, inhaling deeply was not possible. But today I was able to meet these unpleasant sensations with a bit less aversion and dissatisfaction than last time. My upper body moved a lot to reduce tensions until the moment when something pulled it more and more upwards with every exhale until I was sitting with perfect posture again which remained until the end of the sit, like a puppeteer had pulled on its strings. It was a relief, as keeping my posture was easy from this point on. I noted a clinging to this puppeteer experience while it lasted as it reminded me of my Latihan experiences (which amazed me and let me feel humble).
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 2385 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Tim: Your mini-retreat was great, very inspiring. It is easy for us to sell ourselves short, because we know perfectly well how dense and gnarly our experience on the mat can be, as we learn to live with and become more aware of the workings of our minds and bodies. But to commit to a retreat like that, alone and unsupported, and to work that hard: that is remarkable, and beautiful. I just glanced back over your first post on this log, where you gave some of your story, and you said, "When MCTB and DHO crossed my path, I got really excited but also tremendously terrified. Here were the maps I was looking for - beautifully straightforward – and people who just sat and practiced their asses off. I was in awe." It's not a bad moment to realize that you are one of those people now (and again!), sitting and practicing your ass off.

Patricia: It’s interesting that it isn’t easy for me to embrace/accept the first part of your reply and I’m not even sure yet whether you were joking or not (this is one of my typical reaction patterns, don’t get it wrong). 

Well, I'm devastated, devastated, to not be taken seriously on this. It may be even worse than people not getting my jokes. (This is one of my typical reaction patterns, don't get it wrong.)
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Patricia M., modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 17 Join Date: 1/13/10 Recent Posts
​​​​​​​Well, I'm devastated, devastated, to not be taken seriously on this. It may be even worse than people not getting my jokes. (This is one of my typical reaction patterns, don't get it wrong.)


I should have warned you that I'm a cold-hearted b****.
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 2385 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
lol, well, thank God, that takes all the pressure off, and frees me up to realize my Buddha nature as a flaming asshole.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Days ago.

RE: Patricia's Practice Log

Posts: 3763 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
... frees me up to realize my Buddha nature as a flaming asshole.

Jeebus, finally!

​​​​​​​emoticon

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