Tom's Practice Log #1

thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Hi all,
I'm Tom, I plan to log every day for this month of March. I am following Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu's meditation instructions after doing an At-Home course with him online. It is Vipassana Mahasi style noting during meditation and in daily life. He encourages walking meditation followed by equal length of sitting.

Where I am at now, I am very much a beginner, meditating on and off for a few years. I can claim no attainments or jhanas. I will probably read up on the jhanas when I have any powerful experiences. I am also working my way through Daniel Ingram's Hardcore Dharma book slowly.

Today (Mon 01/03/2021)
15 minutes walking, 15 minutes sitting in evening
Walking: Noticed sore feet & train sounds outside interrupting the usual noting of the walking (lifting, moving, placing etc.). I was grossly distracted in thought three or four times lasting under a minute. Tried to pay attention to how I experience moments, and notice any vibrations / stacattoness when being deliberately mindful (maybe I should let that be until it becomes apparent).

Sitting: Very soon into meditation I experienced some pleasent sensations in head. Like a density in my head. This increased and decreased in intensity throughout. I noted "pleasant" & the liking of it, going back to noting (rising, falling - breath at abdomen, sitting, touching - at a sequence of parts of the body, all done while attending to that experience). Not much gross distraction. I notice small thoughts that come in between noting, they are fleeting.

The dense pleasure in head was quite intense for a few tens of seconds, I noticed my eyes were almost crossed. I notice in general that eye squeezing / direction can in my experience intensify such sensations. I don't do anything like this deliberately however. There was sensations of itching which I had to direct attention/noting too for a couple of minutes in total.

I notice there's no standard way of logging, I think this summed up my experience & takeaways for today. Thanks, be back same time tomorrow (hopefully).
Lots of metta <3, Tom
Edit: spelling
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hi Tom, and welcome to DhO! And thank you for sharing your practice here. I'm looking forward to watching it unfold. May your find support, camaraderie, and enrichment in this sangha, and thanks for having the guts to jump in.
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Thanks Tim! Much appreciated. I love the gung ho nature of this community. I hope I can grow here. Will post day two soon!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Today went well with three meditation sessions.
Tue 02/03/2021
15 walk, 15 sit ~3am (could not sleep)
More thinking and getting distracted while walking. Sitting went by very fast, no drowsiness. There was slight tingling in hands in response to deeper breath.

15 walk, 15 sit after waking
Walk: walking is always more distracted and prone to getting lost in thought. What is more it seems that I keep noting mechanically stages of walking while thinking. Sort of tricking the mind into thinking it is going okay on some level?
Sit: I noticed I was frustrated with small thoughts between notes '(I should log this later' or 'what did that post on DhO say about this?'). All I can do is note and be mindful of them while returning to the breath & body.
15 walk

15 walk, 15 sit in evening before bed & log post
Walk: Noted the way I still note while thinking & getting lost. Probably 30% of walk was thinking & not attention on object of feet & noting. Went by quickly.
Sit: Slight onset of pleasurable sensation described yesterday. I notice my anticipation, clinging and desire for that sensation. Was more distracted by thought but by the end was in a quiet state of mind and wanted meditation to go on longer. Tomorrow I may increase periods to 20 walk, 20 sit each session.

Thanks for reading, have a good day and may you deepen your practice and be well,
Oodles of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Had two sessions today.
What I wrote about jhanas and reading up on them made me actually read a bit about them. Namely this thread. They mention some meditators get a "a sort of pressure in the center of the forehead between the eye brows". I do get that now and again. He says to shift attention to the pleasurable sensation may lead to first jhana. Interesting!

Wed 03/03/2021
10 walk, 10 sit at lunch
Much more distracted than usual while sitting. Got calm & pleasant towards the end which I thought wouldn't come due to distracted mind.
20 walk, 20 sit in evening
Walk: Walking was typically distracted, launching into thought about days ahead and what happened at work. I did manage to lock into very solid attention on the feet while walking which was good. I tried to use more intention about my attention. I intend to attend and all that.
Sit: Better than average attention. Several points where mind was pleasantly calm and sort of empty. Still some pesky thoughts interrupting but overall okay. I made sure to note "liking" and "calm" when arose.

Thanks for reading, have a good day. I know I'm very beginnerish, no fancy terms, but I will hopefully learn to associate some terms with my own experience,
Bundles of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Thur 04/03/2021
20 walk, 20 sit at lunch
While sitting got into a calm state of mind was pleasant. I didn't get that distracted in thought (I'd say perhaps 5-10% distracted in thought).

20 walk, 20 sit in evening
Walk: I got some what I thought good quality attention on the feet while walking. I could almost feel more somehow? I was aware at times quite accutely of the flitting of attention from one thing to another. I tried to uphold this mindfulness.
Sit: A lot of calmness and general feeling of rest while meditating. I often had to restart on the points of the body as I forgot where I was. There was a point where the calmness was so noticeable I noted it and used the sensation as the meditation object. I rested there for a bit. I did notice clinging and a wanting it not to end.

Tonnes of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
I realise I am not reporting back my practice of mindfulness throughout the day. To be honest it is not that stable and I only am mindful for a few minutes at a time when I remember. I started an app on my phone which sounds a bell every 15 minutes, and I would try to be present when I hear the bell and it reminds me to be mindful. It is inspired by Plum Village practice of having a mindful bell sound throughout the day. My teacher Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu would say this is a crutch that won't always be there for me. I would think it can still help me in long term to be more mindful (perhaps I can build up to sustain active mindfulness from one bell to another while doing daily tasks for example?).
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Tom, great practice here! Thank you for sharing that thread on the jhanas above, I've been reading up some lately myself. Daniel Ingram's treatment of the shamatha jhanas in Part III of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha is also terrific along these lines, and he is wonderfully detailed on lucid on the concentration aspects, while also putting them in a vipassna context.

Not wanting absorption to end comes with the territory, lol. We're lucky dukkha is such a relentless party crasher, I guess. Otherwise, we'd be a bunch of lotus eaters here. 

gargantuan amounts of metta, lol, tim
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Yes I've been a bit slow in reading the Core teachings, but I may dip in tonight and look at that section now that you mention it.

Dukkha is a teacher after all :-) and a fire beneath our feet to get at it!!
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"as I forgot where I was"

No worries emoticon you are still in the good old Samsara emoticon awake or not awake the karma gotta burn out before the lights are out. As long there is fuel for the light, lights-out can not not-be. 

Seeds keep sprouting, they pop out extremely fast. Some of them we clearly comprehend and others not. Truckloads of unfolding dependent origination, how to be awake in it all, myriads of arisings in one infinite small moment?! Is it even happening? If so, to whom?
Knock, Knock! Anybody home!? Entire universe unfolding. 

Keep up the good practice! Best wishes! 
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Haha :-) I like the idea of karma burning, makes feel like I'm making progress when it would normally feel like I'm not!! Yes stuck on the wheel of samsara as always, hope to jump off!
I should meditate on who is meditating, who is aware!
Thanks for wishes
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Fri 05/03/2021
30 walk, 20 sit
Walk: I felt like I could more stabley give attention to feet. I would catch distraction of thought only a few seconds in. One of the better walking meditations - better in a sense that I was more concentrated on feet & quick to catch distraction. I caught more details probably as a result of this, of the sensations at the feet, slight aching, small flexing of foot muscles.
Sit: I got into some nice headspace again - pleasant spaciousness & used that as an object for a bit. I now sort of look forward to sitting meditation. I felt that walking prepares me more for sitting too, settles me and readies me. Although walking in itself should be a good meditation. However at around 20 minutes in I had such a strong itching sensation at the nose, I felt it powerfully and was mindful of it. But I had to itch!! The teaching I have got around meditation is not to itch but use it as an object when it occurs. I have a habit of actually ending meditation when I do give in and itch (I am normally okay with itches though). So I stopped after 20 minutes!
Buckets of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Instead of stopping with meditation (falling because of hindrance) include freestyle noting aloud 1-5 sensations a second, keep noting unpleasant, desire to get up, ... speak out with loud voice to really hear yourself. Or ask who wants to give up and get up? Or "Look how it's trying to get up and give up, look how it's feeling unpleasant, etc ... 

If at all possible Do Not Cut The Sit Short emoticon 
ACCEPTANCE. Accept that Misety, that Agony, that Aversion ... Name it out loud 1-5 sensations per second without loosing the thread of noting. It's the very unfolding of your karma so be curious about it even if it's utterly unpleasant. 

You can also ignore all I just said emoticon 
Best wishes to you! 
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Good idea to note out loud, I will try doing that next time. Really feel the agony as you say! Early on in meditation I do remember being very impatient and there was a bit of frustration with myself. Thanks for advice, I will take it :-)
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
I feel that this log is keeping me going in a very real way. I encourage anyone reading who is struggling with their practice to start a log whether private or on this site publically.
Sat 07/03/2021
Only one session in afternoon/evening of 15 walk, 15 sit due to busy day
Walk: Quite distracted since my flat mate moved in today and my mind was a blur with it all. I still felt that walking almost settled me down for meditation as my mind was far less agitated when sitting.

Sit: Sitting was quite pleasant and I got into a quite empty feeling state of mind. I still didn't feel like I was getting clarity though. Felt a bit fuzzy but pleasant. I tried to pin down this sensation. Hard to find the words really. I think I got more of a grasp of the quality though, whether I can explain it here or not. There was still "discursive thought" however, so can't be that "far out" ;-)

Towards the end of the sit I started thinking rather morbidly about the two people who jumped off of the twin towers holding hands. Who would I jump with, how would it happen, what was going through their minds. A bit of a tangeant but maybe an example of how my mind wanders with strange day dreams. I noticed it wandering and noted soon enough and brough back to the breath & body.

Heaps of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Sun 08/03/2021
Did 30 minutes total late in night / morning again.
I also did a 60 minute guided meditation dug up from Michael Taft's YouTube channel in the morning. I found it okay at the beginning but he lost me on "infinite awareness". I couldn't foster that and I was mildly irritated when it was described as effortless while I was trying with effort haha, but I appreciated that he explained that if anything is too much or don't have experience in it, just go back previous step that worked.

I did 15 walk, 15 sit in evening. The walk was typically distracted but I would get back onto the feet within 10-20 seconds I think. The sit was particularly pleasant. I didn't feel like I clinged too much. I used the sort of pressure in head as an object. I still had a few thoughts entering and interrupting my attention. At one point I brought mind back to the object of the sensation in head by noting out loud sort of spur of the moment (thanks Papa Che Dusko) even though it wasn't a particularly frustrating or impatient note. Then all of a sudden I felt a denser pressure around forehead and sort of felt like I closed my eyes again (even though my eyes were already closed) sort of like a second pair of eyes above them. Strange, that's what it felt. I won't read into it or speculate, but I noted sensation and carried on until end of sit.

I realise I am meditating quite a short space of time especially since I actually only sit for half the time (walking other half). I'm going to try to do 40 minutes (20 walk, 20 sit) or 60 (30/30) as a more regular thing. Also trying to do at least two sessions per day (morning/lunch/evening).

Appreciate the comments I get, happy I made my log public & hopefully my beginnerish musings don't bore :-P

A heartful of metta, Tom
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Tom, I'm happy you made your log public too, and your "beginnerish musings" are inspiring, fascinating, and full of the spirit of real meditation work. May you always have that beginner's mind, it will save you a shitload of misery.

great big sloppy sloshing tubfuls of metta, tim
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for your support, happy to hear a beginner approach is a good one. Hope I don't get jaded anytime soon!
Handfuls upon handfuls of metta, Tom!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Watched a video on entering first jhana out of interest (I'm nowhere near, myself!). Interesting hearing about piti and how one waits until that is strong and stable then using that as the meditation object. I think the methodology I am following with Bhante Yuttadhammo is quite "dry insight" approach talked about in Ingram's Hardcore Dharma book. Going for a mindful / vipassana approach instead of concentration first. Taft talks about doing concentration first and doing vipassana while in first jhana. So I think I will try sticking with what I'm doing and maybe just try to be aware of any piti that arises. I won't delve into concentration practices just yet.

Mon 09/03/2020

30 walk, 30 sit
Walk: Quite good stable attention, mind wandering as always. I did feel like I was sort of working on automatic and sort of mantrafying the noting instead of remembering to really feel the feet.
Sit: The attack of the itch! Very very strong itching on nose interrupted the meditation object. I then focussed on itching noting it and my reaction. I did end up itching as it got worse and very strong desire to itch. I almost rationalised to myself that not itching wasn't productive and sort of torment to myself. Retrospectively I think enduring itch would of course be better - accept the agony, misery and aversion & note and all that! Something to work on.

Big spoonfuls of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Also to add to it all, I may be having more success & stable attention (little drowsiness & dullness) because I did do those 4-5 months last year doing 1 - 2 hours per day of walking & sitting. I don't want to mislead with all my talk of being a beginner, I think I mean to say in the grand scheme of it all very much a novice (~10,000 minutes of meditation logged in insight timer mostly done last year - but that says nothing of the quality of meditation ofc).
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I find there is nothing worse for the practice but have doubts in which practice is better or which to do now and which one later emoticon It's called DOUBT and is one of those grand hindrance motherfuckers emoticon 

Gotta make up your mind and stick to one. Let's just say it's not enough to only get awakened in Jhana by doing Vipassana while in Jhana. Gotta also awaken in that itch, that agony, that fear, that misery, that disqust, that equanimity ... that everything emoticon 

So paying attention to all arising and passing is really the key to this. Being absorbed in a Jhana or being absorbed in a good movie on TV or being absorbed in a worry about COVID is all the same lost in some state Unless we Awaken in it! We notice/note/vipassanise it and see it for what it is. 

If you desire more concentration you can try and place a small round object infront of you at 1-2 meters away and gently stare at it while also doing at least one note per second (noting anything and also the seeing and comprehanding of the seen object). You do this by not stopping the train of noting. This alone will catch up fire emoticon and at some stage it will be easy to note up to 5 sensations per second. In case it's hard to keep at it you can note aloud. 

This is combining Open eyes Kasina with freestyle noting aloud. 
Also would suggest a minimum of 45 minutes sitting practice. 15 minutes of walking is enough in combination with the longer sit. 
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
I have heard 45 minutes being a good length too. I will adjust to do 15 walk / 45 sit.

I had similar feelings around sticking to a pratice last night and did look up The Manual Of Insight by Mahasi Sayadaw and read Chapter 5 which he gives instructions on practice. Mahasi teaching being what Bhante Yuttadhammo was taught in & teaches. This is what I was doing at the At Home course.

The rapid noting seems so far away since I feel like the mind is slow and I have to slow down my movements in order to note them properly (of course can't do same for feelings or thoughts!). I will try my best to note more - I know it will get better and I'll try not to get disuaded and just note when I can while making effort to remember. Even Manual Of Insight is very reassuring and knows beginner's mind and is encouraging to keep at it. Remarkably unobtuse that chapter!

Thanks for comment and will take advice to heart.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Tom Collingwood
Interesting hearing about piti and how one waits until that is strong and stable then using that as the meditation object. I think the methodology I am following with Bhante Yuttadhammo is quite "dry insight" approach talked about in Ingram's Hardcore Dharma book. Going for a mindful / vipassana approach instead of concentration first. Taft talks about doing concentration first and doing vipassana while in first jhana. So I think I will try sticking with what I'm doing and maybe just try to be aware of any piti that arises. I won't delve into concentration practices just yet.

Hi Tom! You can intentionally cultivate piti by focussing on a pleasant sensation somewhere in the body - something like a tingle, vibration, wavy or flowy feeling, or a feeling of warmth or pleasant contact. Try to really groove with the pleasantness of the sensation. Think of it as stroking or massaging yourself with your attention. Then try to grow the pleasant sensation, so it starts to spread out through your body. Eventually your whole body will be suffused with pleasure. It makes meditation much more enjoyable and soothing. emoticon

Oodles of metta,
George
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
I've been taught to note the pleasant sensations until they disappear / go away - maybe the attention will help it grow. I'm unsure how I would grow the sensation without clinging. Grooving with it seems good, sort of riding it without forcing it. Thanks for the info!
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It's a bit of a cheat to get the piti flowing, but you still have to relax into it and let go for it to build. Eventually it becomes too strong or tiresome and then you let go of the physical vibrations and focus on the warm underlying feeling of emotional happiness (sukha). Jhanas are all about enjoying, then seeing the drawbacks and letting go of progressively more refined feelings and mental states. If you cling you get stuck, so it's a good training. Buddha said not to fear the jhanas and actively encouraged their cultivation :-)
Gallons of metta.
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Tue 09/03/2021
15 walk, 45 sit late afternoon
Walk: The walk was above average in terms of keeping attention and mind wandering. Repeating what I've said before, I often find myself day dreaming far more often in the walking meditation.
Sit: Nervous about 45 minute sit at first, but managed to make it to the end. Unfortunately, I guess my hubris was great after messaging about lack of dullness & drowsiness as I had a dull & drowsy sit. My mind felt foggy and attention was not sharp. I did feel happy that I did manage to stay roughly on track in between small unconsciousness here and there, I tried to just focus on breath rather than incorperating "sitting" & "touching" of body parts. Happy I did 45 minutes though emoticon

Tomorrow I will try to start a morning practice before work. I should use what time I would have spent commuting meditating (speaking of which there was an interesting thread about meditating on the train here which I must look at again when I am commuting again).

Cartloads of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Did not get round to meditate in the morning. I won't get into it here but I am very bad at getting up earlier in mornings. Some good days, most bad. My ideal routine would be two hour meditations in a day. A morning one would be great in an ideal world where Tom wakes with ease!

Wed 10/03/2020
15 walk, 45 sit after work ~ 6pm
Walk: I tried noting slower for example "moooviiiing" during the whole movement of foot, while "touching" is brief on contact with floor. I also tried repeating the note "moving, moving, moving", "lowering, lowering, lowering". Made it somewhat easier to pay attention (less gaps for small thoughts).
Sit: Today's sit I was awake, not much drowsiness. I sat through all 45 minutes, mostly keeping attention on breath. I think there was one gross mind wandering for about 30 seconds maybe.

Sort of reflecting on meditation, I think it goes well as I mostly keep on track with noting "rising, falling, sitting, touching" but I do notice there are small thoughts that fit in-between noting. Small more conceptual ones, not much verbal. I will try to note as "thinking" but often they are so small and brief that I don't bother or notice much.

On noting throughout day too, I notice there is so much to potentially note "planning, remembering, waiting, anticipation" especially mental ones that it is a bit overwhelming to categorize. Shinzen's Unified Mindfulness is tempting to use, where it is seeing, hearing & feeling, in & out (I may be simplifying). Feels simpler and maybe easier to focus on sensation rather than the word yet still feels solidly based on the noting technique I know. I still need to complete the free UM course online. I'm sure there is a lot to unpack there, but will keep doing what I'm doing for now! There's that DOUBT again ;)

Teraflops of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Those small thoughts or impressions in between notes don't need to be labeled. It's enough to notice some and note some sensations. Noting is much slower than our experience unfolds so it's natural to miss many and not be able to label/note some but simply notice them/be aware of them. This counts as a noted-noticed experience so no worries here emoticon 

​​​​​​​Best wishes. 
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Ah great, I did see some things about things counting as noted when not labelled. I think I read some text by Mahasi Sayadaw that said something to the effect that early on you notice sensations are fast but mind is slow to note. But later on mind is quick to note.

But this is good to know for now! Thanks!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
I've been doing lying meditation before going to sleep each night. I note & do "rising, falling, lying, touching" until I feel quite settled then I lie on my side and fall asleep. Has been a good sleep aid in calming mind and settling thoughts. I have to say I have not gone to sleep while noting as I have always made concious decision to stop meditating and just fall asleep.

Thu 11/02/2020

15 walk, 30 sit
Walk: Good, walking I think has been calming more now. It used to sort of agitate my mind and would set off day dreams sometimes. So it was opposite today. I often feel quite ready to sit because of the walking.
Sit: I often got that pressure in forehead while sitting. Not that pleasurable, but I sort of got that edge that it could become so. I used it as meditation object for a bit but it often faded.
One thing I noticed while attending the breath is that my in-breath is not smooth, it sort of has ebbs of strength, normally around three distinct in-takes within. I can't tell whether it is my heart-beat interrupting sensation of breath. Out breath does not have this however.
I feel like I am more aware that my mind is attending only one thing at a time now, that it can truly only pay attention to one thing at any moment. Things in the background feel like they are recalled / remembered when you notice them.

A breathful of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Rather unmindfully I have often been dating my days with "2020" not "2021" :/

Fri 12/02/2021
15 walk, 30 sit after work
Walk: Same old same old! Noticed coldness at feet often and attention was good.
Sit: Often got the pressure around forehead. Some breaking into a rather spacious calmness which is nice. I kept noting and sticking to objects. Small impressions & thoughts noticed but sometimes not noted. It's kind of strange these small thoughts, I get a vague idea of them - it's like they're not fully formed. I think that a lot of my thoughts are non verbal and more conceptual?

Oceans of metta, Tom
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
What's a year between friends :-)

Proto-thoughts are interesting, you're getting into the murky world of sankhara or "formations". You start out thinking that thoughts are fully-formed discrete objects which you choose to "have". Then you start to see that there's a continuous spectrum leading from physical sensations all the way up to finished thoughts (and images). The finished product is just 10% of the proverbial iceberg. When thoughts break into awareness it's you they have! It's also interesting to track this process in real-time and play on the surface line, trying to see how the selection mechanism works which allows only certain proto-thoughts to develop into thoughts. (It has something to do with emotional charge or vedana.)

Buckets of metta.
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Wow, it is interesting to think (ha ha) about, proto-thoughts! It's sort of like the sensations I have sort of trigger these small mental impressions. I find it hard to note when it happens as they feel quite below the surface and almost not noticed. I feel like I must have missed noting a lot of them and feel a bit frustrated. There are other times when thinking is more obvious and I guess these are the finished thoughts you talk about & much easier to note & catch.

I'll let you know if I get close to the surface line in my practice!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
I always expect and hope to do more meditation during weekends but because there is less routine it sometimes ends up harder to fit in. I noticed some lethargy and laziness today which probably stopped more meditation from happening. I am remembering to be mindful & note more often nowadays which is good though!

Sat 13/03/2021
30 sit
Sitting was pleasant and calming. My mind felt like it was resting. There was a minute or two when my mind was lost day dreaming but for majority of sit I was noting and on track. No piti - I think, I feel like sometimes I'm expecting it or looking out for it. Maybe I expect a certain quality of piti to arise as. I will give myself this advice: to just sit and be mindful and not seek to find any pleasantness, just welcome it when it happens emoticon Might be an example of reading too much on it / speculating.

Umteen metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Sun 14/03/2021
30 walk, 20 sit
Walk: More distracted thoughts than usual, often day dreaming.
Sit: I don't know what it is but I stopped meditating after 20 minutes of sitting - I was in a "good headspace", i.e. good attention & pleasant sensations but I just reacted and opened my eyes and checked the time then I decided to stop. Next time I will try to catch this and note impatience or frustration or intention to stop / desire to stop.
Another thing I'd thought I'd note here, sometimes (today) on the in-breath I can almost feel slightly light headed perhaps as oxygen rushes to my head?

Rivers of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
It's ok if you catch yourself open eyes and get up to check the timer. However get back to the cushion and finish off the sit emoticon 

Have you ever tried freestyle noting aloud for an entire session? You note at least 1-2 sensations per second. Any matter of fact sensation happening will do. Even if same one gets repeated very often. If interested I can show you some videos by Kenneth Folk on you tube on how to do this. I also have a few videos demoing this. 

This way there is little chance to get sidetracked by hindrances and practice also tends to catch fire pretty well as one is not wasting the valuable sitting time emoticon 

Tell me if you are interested. 
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Hi, yes I think I sort of give up once I open eyes / check timer. I will try to forgive myself and carry on!
I would be interested in the videos by Kenneth Folk, I'm sort of familiar with him as I've heard him on the Deconstructing Yourself podcast a few times. Please send them my way :-) I will give it a go tomorrow!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Mon 15/03/2021
30 walk, 30 sit
Walk: Was okay, stuck to the attention. I wonder sometimes whether my walking meditation will ever be as interesting as my sitting one? I don't really see it as a thing in it's own right, more of an exercise in mindfulness and attention and a precursor to sitting. I think I should give more weight to it and it may help my problem with excessive mind wandering while walking.
Sit: One of the more interesting sits. A quite pleasurable sensation in head occured a few times. It felt like it could grow into something more intense. It once did I remember when I meditated 45 walk, 45 sit twice in a row in the morning back in August and it was very intense radiating from head. So it felt like it could grow into that - but it didn't. I also noticed on my out breath the sensation at the nostrils, the air passing outwards was particularly pleasant and more apparant (even though I focus on the sensations at the stomach).

It's been about an hour after my meditation, but there's still a sort of feeling around my forehead where I was feeling the pressure during meditation!

Noting during real life has been okay nowhere near constant at all. Hard to quantify, but I do sort of "check-in" now and again to the sensations that are in the present and note for a bit before focussing back to the task at hand.

Jugfuls of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Kenneth has a series of these demos for each sense. I suggest you look through them as well. 
https://youtu.be/0-58IoZMNss
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Here is me demoing how I do it https://youtu.be/9FeajWRJcXA
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1289 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Papa Che's videos were very useful to me when I was learning noting.
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Thanks Papa Che, I watched the two videos and did my own free style noting for 15 minutes. I found myself a bit unsettled at first but after a few minutes I fell into the swing of it. I also found myself being a bit rapid too. Kenneth's video on mind states came up and I found that useful too in regards to noting.

I noticed that it was far easier to note in my every day life after ending the session. There's probably something to freestyle noting out loud with no meditation object which seems to reinforce noting more than the meditation I have been doing.

Definately something to incorperate into my practice moving on! Thanks!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
So today after work I sort of thought "what the hell" and so I did 3 hours of meditation - 45 walk, 45 sit, 45 walk, 45 sit with one minute gaps for transition. In the last 15 minutes of the last sit I did the freestyle noting Papa Che has mentioned & showed.

Tue 16/03/2021
45/45/45/45 after work
Managed to sit through it all (I guess the last one was 30 normal sitting, 15 freestyle) which I am very happy with alone!

With a 3 hour session I expected to expect something, so I tried to simulataneously expected not to expect anything since I was expecting something which would stop something from happening. By 'something' I mean any new state? This paragraph is slightly tongue in cheek ;)

Walking was okay, perhaps below normal in proportion of attention at feet than with thoughts. While walking I felt a sort of pressure build up in my head. I am bad at describing sensations so "pressure in head" is used a lot but it is mostly used for the same particular sensation that precludes a feeling of pleasure behind eyes / in head.

As expected I didn't hit any new ground while sitting, first sit I was drowsy & dull in beginning. I stayed mainly on track though with my attention. The dullness meant I often forgot my position within the parts of the body 'touching'. I seem to get really calm or pleasant sensations in head if I remind myself vaguely of the dharma / Buddhism or if my thoughts go there. Maybe a sort of righteousness / pride affecting my mood... I also get the pleasant sensations the moment I go back to the meditation object after being breifly distracted. I would say overall there was a sort of significant dullness. I think I should read The Mind Illuminated again to get some good lingo / vocab on dullness & sensations.

I think I will do 3 hour sessions divided this way again in future when I have the time.

Golden rays of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Wed 17/03/2021
30 walk, 30 sit PM
Walk: As per normal. Noting distractions better / more often.
Sit: was interesting - around 20 minutes in, when I started to shift attention on an itch on my chin &amp; noting, I felt a strong pleasant pressure in head - behind eyes and forehead. I felt sort of pushed back on my cusion & leaned back. My eyes I think were vibrating / moving around energetically and closed in a pleasant way. I still would be thinking now and again and noting during this time. Lasted under a minute. I name these 'head-gasms' and I can only count a few in my time (maybe 6-8 or so times in past year - normally when I am practicing daily). The sort of the output to that 'precursor pressure' mentioned in previous post on this thread.

In a way I'm sort of annoyed at getting these experiences as I know it's nothing too special (in grand scheme) and it's not really insightful into any of the three characteristics (or anything...). Still! I'm sure there could be an argument of the mind doing its thing and may be a sign of good practice. Head-gasms don't align with how Michael Taft was describing piti.

Besides that, sit felt more on track and felt like attention was with the meditation objects more than usual. Noting distractions was better & would often note an itch until it stopped.

Tubfuls of metta, Tom
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Tom Collingwood
In a way I'm sort of annoyed at getting these experiences as I know it's nothing too special (in grand scheme) and it's not really insightful into any of the three characteristics (or anything...).

Sounds like piti ... and also that you have an aversion to feeling pleasure. So that's a characteristic of dukkha right there! It's actually pretty common ... and worth thinking about ...
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Yes, I think I boxed piti into a specific set of sensations - I guess a lot of sensations may fall into the category of piti.
I am thinking my annoyance of piti comes from intellectualising my progress etc, but perhaps in the micro-scale I do still cling to pleasure. I'll think about dukkha, I just re-read MCTB's three characteristics too!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Thu 18/03/2021
30 sit lunch, 30 walk 30 sit evening
At lunch I started with my normal sitting practice then the Open eyes Kasina / freestyle noting aloud for final 15 min. Found it useful and is making noting easier - I am finding the selection of noting easier, it's not second nature yet. I watched a video of Yuttadhammo Bikkhu where he says when you get proffiscient the noting feels like it is happening at the object/sensation rather than a thought at the head.

In evening was mostly a normal sit. Slight dullness throughout. My attention was good at sit, little distractions. I felt like I was better at noting distractions. As often I do catch myself just going back to breath / object of meditation without noting the distraction. There was impatience and boredom at the end so I noted aloud for final 12 minutes.

I will try to lengthen meditations to 45 sit minimum as advised earlier.

I read the "Three Characteristics" chapter early on in MCTB book and I am struggling to think I can notice that many sensations per second (8 per second?). It didn't mention noting regarding this. I also understand that it is actually moments of attention on a sensation, in my head the sensation is there ready to be attended to and it is the attention you direct that may be vibratory?

For example I guess in order to notice the arising and passing of a sensation you have to have your attention to it for whole sensation. What if you direct attention elsewhere mid sensation - so it must be the attention. Sensation is still there in peripherary. I think the idea is that the sensation is so momentary (& the solidness is made up of so many momentary vibrations) that you can't switch mid sensation.

I'm thinking out loud and no doubt I'm sure many questions get ironed out in the rest of the book. Just some initial thoughts emoticon

Galaxies of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Apparently some practitioners can notice 40 sensations in a second. emoticon I can't nor shall we care about that. 

It's enough to recognize when sensory clarity increases and there is simply ease to note fast without effort. 

No reason to trouble yourself with numbers of sensations per second. Generally 1 sensation per second is fine and then let it increase speed when it naturally can and reduce speed when there is very little to no clarity. In the later it's good to go with words "There is ... (take your time) hearing. There iiiiiis ... dullness. Thete iiiis .... .... heaviness etc ... " 

Noting speed is ALSO subject to Anicca emoticon

​​​​​​​Best wishes Tom! 
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
That's a relief - I think it is important to just do what you can and not get daunted. We're in whatever stage we're at, and of course strive, but end of day accept where you are and don't get down.

Yeah, I'm interested with clarity and am interested in discerning when I am more able to be mindful. Could find some habbits or triggers that cloud the mind. Mindful of clarity or ability of mindfulness - how meta (with one t emoticon ).

Thanks emoticon
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Fri 19/03/2021
Strange one today, late in afternoon I just sat in an armchair and noted to myself (not aloud) my experience while looking ahead, occaisonally glancing around (I find the visual distortions when focussing on a point distracting and sometimes painful). And I got to say I sort of blissed out and felt really calm and quiet in the mind. I was basically meditating in a chair eyes open with no object (closing eyes occaisonly slow blissful blinks - love it). I think it felt like what trance might be except I was noting. Threw me off a bit since I would normally get in a similar headspace when sitting properly, Burmese style on the mat & cushion. I was 100% sober but felt quite high-like and quiet in the mind afterwards.

Then later on I sat 15 min walk, 15 sit and again I got this high state of mind afterwards. I was watching television with housemate, nothing heavy, light fluffy TV & nice acoustic singy music videos on this Friday night (UK light TV can be a bit more calm and less energy than US I would say). I just sort of was slow blinking, one eyebrow raised felt very blissful just focusing and noting while watching. Cool experience! Reminded me of my few experiences "high" (I am 100% sober now and have recently 'quit' alcohol).

I note this experience here as I do feel it was induced by the meditation and mindful practices I used today.

Again thinking about it now, I know it's nothing that special just felt good. I'm trying to notice cessations or vibratory nature of sensations. Most I can muster is the sharp stacatto nature of itches, fuzzy noise like sensation of physical touch & also noisy grainy visuals (which I notice everywhere now).

Blissful blinks with two eyefuls of metta behind them, Tom
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sounds like it could be an A&P type experience. Good time to read up on the Progress of Insight and be aware of the possibility of cycling.

Interesting that it happened while you were not officially meditating ... suggests you might be trying too hard in the formal sits.
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for the link, I read it and it sounds like I should read around the context of that chapter too. I have been dipping in and out of various chapters of MCTB.

I think my experience on Friday was not so extreme, and would have fallen under the subtle category - perhaps a lead up for things to come (still happening this weekend a bit). I'm not 100% about being in A&P as I'm not sure if I've got the extent to 1-3 of Progress of Insight. I'll keep in mind Daniel's points but I'll try not to be too certain I'm at a certain stage.

I read Chapter 32, What was That? in regards to cycling and I think what I really liked and will follow is the "Repeat It Again and Again and Be Honest With Yourself" - which sounds like solid advice. I'll try to gently repeat the experience without pushing myself, like you say about trying too hard, and try to determine what it may be & be more familiar with the sensations so I can describe & match it to a map perhaps.

Thanks again, Tom
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It was the "high" that jumped out at me. They don't always have to be dramatic, but like you say repetition is the way to go ;-)
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Sat 20/03/2021
Did some small meditation while sitting on that armchair, open eyes & noting internally. Was pleasant. I was not high like Friday for rest of day. I sat for 30 minutes end of day and it was mildly plesant around pressure at forehead / brow. Attention was good. I notice that I am much better now at discerning sensation at those parts of the body in meditation, I always feels something there, whether it is a small buzz / tingle or an itch / touching.

Sun 21/03/2021
Did a guided "embodied metta" meditation by Tara Brach in the morning. I found it very nice, was very focussed on the guidance and was a good sit. I think I normally am pretty bad at guided meditations since it almost tries to direct you (often) to a certain experience (of love, of infinite awareness etc). I'm more of a whatever sensations happening kind of guy ;)
I did some lying down meditation at 9PM while thinking of potentially napping after (I did not in the end). Then I tried to "repeat" as mentioned in comment above, what happened on Friday and it did happen again the high-like subtle sensation while watching television. This time it was an action movie. I tried to note and be mindful of my unpleasant reactions to violence. I am sad to say I didn't notice much and might be desensitised.

I did note how there is unplesantness at cuts when the shot changes. I sort of get settled in a stationary shot, sort of concentrating on that spot (while noting breathing it all) while still paying attention to the plot. Then sort of very very subtle pain / dissatisfaction when scene changes and I have to rest my eyes at another point (tracking a car, a person's face etc). I couldn't find anything on television on these forums, people sort of applying vipassana or concentration practices to television-watching (samadhi while watching cartoons??). I guess we turn off in general when we veg out in TV but it really adds to it by being mindful when watching. I tried to note what it feels like paying attention to a plot on television. The sense of knowing who is who, and any thinking that occurs or judgement that arises. Watching television mindfully is good practice for life maybe - as after all, life just unfolds and you can watch it all (as a witness or as no one?!). Lot's of seeing, looking, hearing and feeling at the eyes & ear sense doors.

Anyway, fun times in TV land (I only watched one movie & that's it, in general will probably reduce TV - won't get mindfully addicted),

Signals of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Now we are at the point of the "Read More" button appearing so I can stash these replies beneath that and get away with exploring concentration territory with this reply instead of insight! Mwahaha.

Mon 22/03/2021
I sort of have diagnosed myself with a case of concentration (as opposed to A&P - perhaps confusion was over the quality of that 'high'). The way Shamatha Jhanas were described in MCTB seemed to align with my experience. The 'grooving into the bubble bath' spoke to me too. Also this part...

As concentration improves, it is as though the mind “sees” the first shamatha jhana and grabs on to it like you would grab on to a slowly moving bus you were trying to hop onto. Having an idea of what you are looking for—something enjoyable and steady—can be helpful.
... really seems to described how I enter the blissful concentration on television or Zoom calls. In two video conference calls I could tap into what I think is a concentration state. I'm not sure, I haven't heard of people applying it to semi-active things (normally formal sits). Somehow I think I am? You can tell I have the aversion to being 100% on labels. I'm at the stage of repetition.

My own description of what I feel and do: I listen to a person, I notice the shifts in attention from listening to watching. I sort of zone into that person (not tunnel vision tho still have peripheral like normal), and concentrate on what they are saying and their face. Joy and rapture follow. Concentration feels effortless. Vipassana-like it is obvious when attention shifts to body, or between watching and listening even (in sort of moments but everything is definately solid). Thoughts are minimal but they do appear now and again. When something funny or joyous happens in call (when others laugh etc) I feel it more. One thing to note is on calls I look fine (very aware of that...) and not strange or odd at all. Just very, very still when people are talking ("Is your webcam frozen?" - I'm expecting to hear).

So more involved areas of video conferencing like actually having to talk, I cannot tap into the concentration well or at all. But when I am back to listening and watching, I go back to concentrated & moderately blissful state. It's very important to note I can keep up in the conversation just as well if not better than normal with the conversation. I just am not caught up in a narrative or thoughts. I am just have the sense of knowing what they are saying. I speak when thoughts arise and are judged relevant. It's sort of addictive but I feel like I know when I'm clinging and try to lay off hence Daniel's 'moving bus' analogy above. The only part where I think it could be a problem is when I am listening and watching for a longer time (tens of minutes) I have to actually stop myself from concentrating and do a body scan etc, since it gets a little too much... bliss.

There is another bit in same chapter:
In the previous section on the generic jhanas, I mentioned that the first jhana is narrow, in terms of the extent of a given object you can appreciate clearly at any one moment. This typically translates to objects that are narrowly perceived, and, if mind-generated, such as a visualization, relatively small.
Which really aligns with what I tried today : a candle kasina! It didn't go well, after my second Zoom call (social not work) where I dipped into concentration when listening and watching, I felt cocky, read part of that chapter which describes Fire Kasina as a way of measuring concentration and dived in. I got the red dot but there was a lot of tension at eye lids, I kept all the time moving my eyes to track the after-image and the nimitta. Wasn't pleasant and didn't feel like I was tapping into my Television & Zoom call kasina.

Worth noting I did not formally sit at all today except for the fire kasina in the late evening after all television and zoom calls. I don't want to make this a major diversion to my insight practice. That being said, I sort of want to understand and see if I can keep up concentration in daily life as I think it actually helps with my work and social life... Something I never thought it would. I was more expecting the Dark Night to take me out of action (I know this is in much later stages so little worry there maybe).

Probably the longest post yet, thanks for reading, I would appreciate any comments as I think I'm a bit out of my element regarding concentration states. I hope I am not deluding myself or on the wrong track. However, the MCTB chapter struck a chord that I didn't really consider before (during weekend when watching Last Airbender blissfully...). Any similar experiences would be interesting to hear about, regarding integration of concentration states!

A webcam of metta, Tom

Edit: please do shoot me down if what I am saying feels like it is not concentration state or not at all shamatha jhana. I can handle it, give it to me straight emoticon
Edit 2: Thinking about it I know shamatha jhanas & vipassana stages coincide so could be touching A&P. This map business is something else!
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Definitely the lighter concentration states can show up off the cushion like that. Fun times! To shift into or reinforce the second jhana'ish/A&P area, focus on some sensations of physical pleasure (piti) in the body and try to really let yourself bask in the pleasantness of those and enjoy :-)
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for confirming for me, feeling the validation emoticon

Earlier we did talk about grooving into the piti. I found it quite difficult on the cushion, but this feels more explicitly concentration so let's see how it goes!
​​​​​​​
Feeling a little tired today, I wonder how that affects hopping onto that bus!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Tue 23/03/2021
Formal meditation: 15 walk, 40 sit late evening
I realised I had been avoiding a proper meditation while the concentration practice was infecting my every day life. Aversion and fear of any strange states even if blissful (especially?). Cautiously I sat and went okay.
Walk was okay, it felt pleasant and attention was quite easily directed. Did get distracted now and again but nothing big, maybe half a minute at most for any one distraction.
Sit was enjoyable, my attention again was well directed however I sort of almost forgot the meditation object cycle (rising, falling, sitting touching) and did some freestyle noting and tried to drink in any experience that was happening. No crazy ecastcy that I was fearing. Just pressure in head, some minor bliss (I must see if I am using that term technically) in eye pressing, forehead and mouth. Pleasure at mouth only started since I deliberately directed attention there for a bit (& hands). There was actually maybe a minute of mind wandering through thoughts, worth noting to highlight the averageness of sit.
Life off-cushion: had meeting heavy day which I sort of look forward to now, since anything involving watching and listening now is much more enjoyable. After an hour or so of meetings colour became more vivid. I noticed that brighter colours are brighter, darker colours darker (higher dynamic range / HDR). I unfortunately could only spare 10 minutes to go outside to sit in garden outside. I sat on bench and just glanced around and as I sat, greens felt more green and wind was very pleasant. I appreciate the more subtle nature of the "enjoyability" - if it was any intenser I think I would begin to worry.
Small aside one nimitta (mentally formed image) from the kasina yesterday formed a red heart symbol that sort of pulsated, which leads me to my closing line,
A nimitta of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Also two metaphors sprung to mind when concentrating on my cartoons and zoom calls. A verb and an adjective. The act of "drinking" in the sights and sounds, and the "delicious" feeling when you do.
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Final thing for today. Looking at an old message, I say "I'm nowhere near, myself!" regarding first jhana then two weeks later saying I think I may have hit absorption while watching television... I may need to be more confident & have less of that doubt... It actually sounds ridiculous typing it really. They say jhana absorption has no dependance on external conditions. I would say this concentration sensation depends on having something (while it can be anything) to watch as I feel like I don't come as near sitting. Some food for thought. I think the maps and MCTB book are really, really helpful but I worry about getting lost in terms and categories. I think tabboo regarding labels is quite strong in my conditioning.
Okay! That's last thing, I swear!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Wed 24/03/2021
20 walk, 20 sit AM
Walking there is a whooshing pleasantness on lifting foot, then compacting to small soft pressure pleasure on touching foot on ground. Noticed half way through, went till end. I keep attention on feet and was mindful of the mental sensations it was having.
Sitting was more spacious. Something I Noticed is that lids were very lightly and comfortably closed while eyes were uncrossed focussed on a distant spot entire sit which is new for me. Often I cross them and lids flicker when getting that pressure I sued to get. Pressure is still there just less pleasure, more spacious and calm. However in the sit I dozed off occaiuonaly doing the ‘zen lurch’ but I felt quite aware it was happening. The mind was not fuzzy though, I got a good look at the dip of consciousness.

15 reclining PM
I did recline for 15 minutes at lunch. Mind was very spacious and very much at rest without any drowsiness or dullness. It was really pleasant. Like taking a good nap but conscious? Thoughts did arise. The pressure at forehead was reduced to feel like the physical sensation of a sticker stuck on my forehead. I was noting well and consistently, did the normal cycles of rising, falling, sitting, touching. But when that spaciousness arose I sort of basked in it without noting. This is all calm stuff, clarity was high though. Small twitches in leg.

Should note that I am not getting as much sleep but doing lying down meditation at night as if asleep (lights off, covers up, 2am -> 6am) - don’t count as formal practice as often I try to get hypnogogic and sleep. The low sleep seems quite in line with A&P territory. But I am getting sleep at least twice a day (two shorter naps) probably in line with those fancy nap schedules some high-fliers have involving optimising sleep patterns?

Tired in evening and felt a bit silly like I was overhyping myself about my practice. But I reminded myself of the memories of the past week and how good concentration has been. So there was doubt there. It made me want to sleep so that I can rule off sleep deprivation as a cause rather than an effect.

Thu 25/03/2021
I managed to get 8 hours sleep last night which I am relieved about. My concentration had to warm up for about three hours from waking to get similar levels to past few days, I did take coffee (two cups) which helped. I tried to be mindful while my mind was tired in those hours. Interesting to see my mind recover from sleep like that in terms of how concentrated I am / can get - sort of about clarity and hopping onto the bus.

15 reclining, PM
Did 15 minutes lying down meditation. Similar to yesterdays lunch, there was a sense of spaciousness and ease. One thing I am noticing is that my eyes no longer move around much and a lot more settled on a distant point which was always difficult for me. My eye lids are closed lightly but are shut completely. It’s just very very calm, not much of that pressure if anythingl. It feels like taking a drink when a bit thirsty. I enjoy the more relaxed nature of it (instead of big pleasure etc). Thoughts do come but I feel no need to chase or linger.

30 walk, 30 sit -> reclining PM
Walk had similar whooshing pleasantness at each stage of stepping. So I tested if I got same feeling in head as I went from ‘lowering’, then ‘touching’, ‘pressing’ back and forth and it did repeat the feeling in head as I did it.

Sitting I was actually quite tired. Interesting again to observe the small falling asleep with dull mind. I think my energy is falling as my concentration is higher. So my balance of energy / concentration is faltering. I will try to be aware of this. Seems my 15 minutes of lunchtime reclined meditations are pleasant while evenings are prone to tiredness recently.

However there was a peculiar feeling of lightness and spaciousness that was more prominent today off-cushion (and on).

A lot of experiences are happening so I thought it best to be descriptive in an effort to be helpful to anyone here and myself too. I am thinking of doing a private journal for month of April as I find myself self-censoring a bit (no juicy personal deets). Still a week left to decide though.

I feel like the zest and energy since Friday is now starting to fade, and concentrating has more tire to it. I can still dip in but less pleasant. Slightly annoying the concentration was mainly found off-cushion (I guess there's more time off than on in general so it's how it is). Interesting seeing it leak into every day life. I will use this experience as motivation and a taste of what could be.

I don't want to analyse myself too much in terms of why the zest is lost. I feel like consciously I can't say any insights. I do notice some dissasifaction with having to adjust eyes when concentrating, the clinging of the shamatha. The worry about not 'having it' today in the morning (luckily it came back between 11am -> 5pm). The worry of losing it, and the conflict between wanting to sleep more in morning but at same time blaming the 8 hours sleep for the lack of concentration in morning. Edit: there is a worry too that I wasted this time at work, watching television and not meditating as much. But I remind myself this is probably not the only time I experience this stage in my practice and resolve to meditate more the times I can and should.

Thanks for reading and a message to all to keep at it - I never really thought deep down I would have the clarity I came to know the past week. I will treasure my experience but try to let it go. I have to say that open eyes kasina seemed to accelerate things!! Thanks Papa Che emoticon

A freshly made bed of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Good man yourself Tom emoticon 

Edit to add; 
When concentration and mindfulness gets sluggish and sluggish it will get at some point, slow down but not too much. 

Keep noting 1 sensation every 2 seconds. You can use loud voice and say something like "There is .... (look for some matter of fact sensation) touching, there iiiiis ... looking for something, there iiiiiis ... hearing, there iiiis ... dullness, there iiiiis .... tiredness, there iiiis ... I don't know/confused, there iiis .... etc ... " 

And yes open eyes and aloud noting. Try pep-talk yourself into committing your self to 45 minutes noting practice once a day. This I feel is what can help you move along. Do another second session for just 15 minute walking meditation. 
Or ignore what I just suggested. 

Best wishes Tom!
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Hi Papa Che,

Thanks, man emoticon I won't ignore you !! I will look out for the slowing down (feeling it already) and do my best to note at that pace you said.

To clarify most of my sits are silent & closed eyes. I think that the first few times I did open eyes & noting helped me note and concentrate on visuals more off-cushion.

I had a question regarding the 45 minutes. I think I am quite inclined to the practice I am doing (normally equal walking first then sitting in a session) as I was taught by Bhante Yuttadhammo (Mahasi's rising, falling, sitting, touching). Would you say using the open eyes & noting aloud would be a good 'complement' to that? I am thinking of perhaps a regime of 45 minutes open eyes noting aloud in morning. Then optional 15 minutes reclined at lunch. Then the classic equal walk / sit perhaps 45/45 or 30/30 in evening. It's a bit more than what I'm doing now but if I prioritise the evening session and do morning when I can.

I guess it's up to me, just wondering your opinion in fitting it in with my normal practice emoticon

All the best,

Tom
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
At some stage you will have your own "personal" practice. It will come naturally to you. You stick with that no matter what I or anyone has to say about it emoticon 

These are things that helped me keep hindrances at bay. This is what I needed after several years of Shamatha practice. It's my personal story. Might not be yours at all 

We share experiences here. This way we get to know about all different tools and attitudes. 

We try it out for ourselves and stick with that which you think your practice needs. 

Also the timing is up to you. However many here will agree that insights, when they hit, usually do so closer to 45 minutes and not in the first 30 minutes. However this is not a rule. 

Walking meditation is very good. Heck just simply  walking is great after a meditation session! Loose, no effort just walking and getting lost in its looseness. But on cushion full on noting for the duration. Relaxed body of course. No tension needed here. 45 minutes is a work out in the gym of paying attention without much lapses in mindfulness. Then walking afterwards can be loose no effort no control of any kind. 

My view only this is. Follow your gut feeling emoticon 

​​​​​​​Best wishes no matter what you decide. 
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
This is true about personal practices, I guess no one will be able to tell you what to do. You will know what works for you. Saying that, I appreciate all your words and will take them on board emoticon

I think I will try to prioritise making the sits 45 minutes. I have heard similar things before too about how long you should sit. I'll walk after the open & aloud sessions and see how I find it. Between my last comment and now I did a 45 min open eyes & aloud session and went well emoticon

We share experiences here. This way we get to know about all different tools and attitudes.
I really like the open atmosphere these forums have and I think this practice log has served me well to motivate me to meditate. I have learned a lot too, so 100% agree here!!

I'll have a word with my gut,

Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Fri 26/03/2021
45min open eyed and noting aloud, AM
Went well. I get the sense it increases my vocabulary of noting. I noticed a fogginess of mind, perhaps because it was quite early for me in the morning. But there was a sort of clarity to that fogginess? Meaning I could see it clearly - whereas normally I would be consumed within - at least I feel a little less consumed...

10 min, 15 min, 15 min reclined in breaks at work
These I sort of dipped into now and again and I could access a really nice spacious feeling in my head while noting. It is really pleasant and really welcome compared to the more effortful sitting I had been doing in beginning of month.

While before falling asleep I did the same reclined meditation. At one point I noticed my chin below the mouth was tensing in a sort of frown. I then relaxed it into a more neutral face and then my mind just shot into a really nice spaciousness really quickly! Strange interaction between tension in face and mind.

Sat 27/03/2021
45 min open eyes / aloud, 15 min walking AM
It was interesting basically opening up awareness whenever I stopped talking. It felt like a back and forth. I note out loud, I then search for a feeling, note again. But sometimes almost a queue formed. I would note then have a sensation as I noted aloud then noted that. I made sure to note the thoughts in a bit more detail “planning, aversion, liking, disliking, remembering”.

15 walk, 45 sit x 2 (5 hours apart)
Walking was okay, I’m noticing the feelings elsewhere in body more when I walk between noting the stages of walking.
Sitting I got big time restlessness at points and also points of drowsiness. I had dips of unconsciousness between noting. I remember being in middle of a thought then dipping out! I tried to use the sensation of tiredness as a meditation object itself. In the act of using it as an object it felt like I was giving distance to it. Like I was looking at it three feet away. I felt like I was observing the tiredness and not actually tired myself (who is tired? Indeed!). I realised I had done this for a while when I went back to breath and body as objects.
In the second in this pair of sessions I decided to lie down half way through, as I remember whenever I have reclined meditation it seems ‘easier’ - it was a little easier with attention. Classic aversion to the moment. I feel like it’s very well me noticing it is a hinderance now but in the moment it really sucks to sit there with it all!

Sun 28/03/2021
Sunday was a bit of a write-off as I had mild fever from the vaccination. I did do 15 minutes of reclined meditation. I also tried to note and be aware of the sensations as objects throughout day. It made the pain and shivers a bit more bearable.

I read through my posts and slightly cringed at them. Please forgive some of my ignorance over the finer points of concentration & insight emoticon

A smile of metta, Tom
thumbnail
Tom Collingwood, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Hi all,

I'm a bit late reporting the end of March. This will be my last typical log post and probably wrap up this thread emoticon

Mon 29/03/2021
15 walk, 40 sit PM
This felt like an old-style sit from beginning of month. Struggled with staying on cushion, lots of impatience & restlessness. It's a strange feeling I can't really explain in thoughts - it was more of a feeling that encompassed me than thoughts. Karma burning no doubt ;)

Tue 30/03/2021
15 walk, 40 sit PM
This was a little more pleasant than day before. Some moderate piti feelings gave the sit a nice vibe and it was easier to sit for the length of time. Attention was good too & noting distractions often.

Wed 31/03/2021
15 walk, 35 sit PM
Again some moderate piti and there was a point I thought it would rush and get a lot but it calmed down probably because of the anticipation of more of it. Mind wandered less than previous day. I did end sit early (I know emoticon I must embrace the agonnnyyy!! ) I used excuse of a phone notification and knowing I was waiting for a message / email to pull me away.

Thanks for reading and joining me on my journey in March. There was an odd week in the middle there where that laser-like pleasurable focus came into play, I have a better idea of why (outside of meditation) but won't delve into it here, maybe in another thread down the line. I may give the log a break and maybe be back in May or June to give my practice a boost emoticon I'll keep logging privately as I valued the reflection logging gave me.

Thanks for all your comments and words of encouragement emoticon emoticon

Strudels of metta, Tom x
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
All the best, George
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Tom's Practice Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Take care Tom and all the best! 

Breadcrumb