The journey begins - Log #1

Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
(I wrote this comment in another thread, then realized it would fit here much better. Ooops) 

​​​​​​​I am 3 weeks into my meditation practice, and with a more serious approach. With the free time I find myself with, I have officially gone deep down the rabbit hole. The various ebooks, podcasts, online forums has led me to understanding new meditation techniques an terminology. What started with mindfulness meditation, led to vipassana which has led me deeper into samatha. 

My current goal is to cultivate more Access Concentration, which reading Leigh Brasington led me to that terminology. My pride and ego is intimately mixed with my wandering mind. I suffer(ed) from depression, anxiety, mood swings on one side, and intense passion for life, euphoric moments of bliss on the other. My belief is that I need to solidify my meditation foundation but cultivating my concentration. Vipassana will be a lot easier if my mind doesn't wander as much.  

Today's practice led to an interesting insight for me, which I just felt like sharing. I don't really have many people in my social circle that has the patience to listen to my meditation insights and ramblings. 3 days ago I started to feel the sense of detachment building between my distractions and my object of meditation (yay progress!). Today I started to really push the boundaries of the "self" (predominantly my body) as I was focusing on my breathing. It took about 5 minutes to stop resisting my distractions and accepting them with equanimity. The difference today was that I started dissolving as much of my "none" object of meditation into what felt like an infinite background of noise. I have my object of meditation, and I have everything else. 

When a draw in breath, I draw in from the infinite source. That fragment of air gains the title of "1 breath". As I breath it out, it returns and dissolves into that source. As a wave flows onto the shoreline, it is a fragment of "1 wave" that eventually returns to its source. As a thought emerges, it is "1 thought" until is dissolves back into my consciousness. Maybe this is the idea of "no self", that I am but a fragment of the inifinite, but never really fragmented. If it is, I expected it to feel more empty, but instead it feels inifinitely more full.
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 2014 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Welcome to DhO and thank you for sharing your journey with us emoticon 

​​​​​​​Best wishes to you Rob!
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Thanks! I'll make a point to explore all the sections. Excited to join an online community so my wife doesn't take the brunt end of my new "hobby" that I may or may not be a tad over zealouly passionate about already.
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session - 50 mins
    • 15 mins - Free Style Intuitive Reflection, with headphones and music
    • 5 mins - Vipassana Relaxation Warm Up
    • 30 mins - Access Concentration

Reflection:
    • Yesterday, late evening, I started to feel a pang of shame related to my post on a forum. I realized my post was more of a personal log, rather than a post open for discussion. To resolve that pang, I removed my post and copied it in the personal log location.
    • If I were more mindful about my participation on this forum, I would have spent more time exploring the different sections and features. Instead, what guided me to the forum to begin with was a strong desire to share. An eagerness born of attachment and not mindfulness.
    • My hero complex is prevalent, and strong. I framed it up under the guise of "selflessness" and "a desire to help others" but I still thrive and seek out positive feedback. This fuels my ego. I want to be special, I want to be a hero.
    • "Awareness and acceptance"
    • During my meditation sessions, I have a strong sense of eagerness and impatience. Part of me tries to cruise through my vipassana warm up, as though a race to enlightenment is the best course of action.
    • My actions are reflected in my practice. If I practice patience and equanimity, hopefully this will be reflected in my day to day actions. 
    • If I truly desire to be a service to others, to my daughter, to my wife, then I detach myself from this hero complex as it will deter my goals more than aid. Thank you ego, for fueling me with passion and child like eagerness. Thank you for helping me achieve all that I have up until now, the insights and experiences. Thank you for being with me, but now I must take lead for us to grow and reach our goal.

Vipassana Warm Up
    • Much calmer as I went from body section to body section.
    • Next time I will try to extend the time by shrinking my body sections and hone in my microscope field of awareness.

Access Concentration
    • This is the longest I meditated focusing on one goal and one object (my breath). My sense of progression continues, and I'm building off my earlier insights. Loving this part the most (... calm down hero complex).
    • The distractions were still present, but felt more manageable. When they truly felt like they were starting to subside, I also started to feel the session becoming a work out. That was a first, and maybe a symptom of the length of time. Re-focusing on my breath, attempting to allow my childlike passion to infuse that awareness quelled that sensation.
    • Other interesting fluctuations occurred during this session. These were below my vocalized thoughts, below my distracting thoughts, and just an occasional blip before my "ooo what's this" eagerness blew it away. 
        ○ A shimmering human body silhouette and a shimmering floating eye silhouette
        ○ A sensation of a chasm with what almost felt like a sense of falling as I was losing any sense of anchor points
        ○ My body contours creating a shell, with hollow emptiness inside

I came out of this session feeling that I achieved my goal. I tempered my eagerness and ego, and have this calmness vibe that is still reverberating through my body as I type these words. 
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Context: Two days ago I received a reply back from a job I applied for and was rejected (a job I was already doing for a year successfully). This is the second time in just over two years that I've been rejected from a job, and it stings. The Picard quote "you can do everything right, and still lose" is rather pognant at the moment.

Theory Lesson: I took a drive while listening to the Descontructing Yourself podcast that featured Leigh Brasington on the topic of Dependant Origination. The insights were quite helpful to inspect my minor duḥkha moments I was having.

Meditation Session:
Guided meditation on the Thought Process - Shinzen Young (excerpt from audio book)
  • Concentration was okay, didn't feel as honed as the day before
    • Not sure if meditating late at night is optimal for me, but maybe pushing myself to do both mornings and evenings will offer different insights
    • The food I was eating last couple days has been garbage ... I'll track/improve my diet and see if my concentration improves
  • Aftermath
    • This was the first time I came out of a meditation feeling worst then I did going in. Like the practice itself stirred up the mud at the bottom of a pond muddying the waters. Which means that the insights and the positivity I was sensing yesterday, the thought that I somehow bounced back so quickly from this rejection, was masking the suffering that was still lurking below my conscious awareness.
    • My dreams last night had strong themes of rejection.
    • Fear - as I become more adept, more aware, more insightful on how my mind works, and the tricks it takes via dependent origination, how adept will it become to mask negative feelings? How adept will my ego become at pretending I am detached, while still lurking below ever present? Will I be able to distinguish between an elaborate imagined state of the ego vs a pure detached experience?
  • Next session
    • My next session will be to repeat the guided meditation in the morning. Contrast the timing, and really focus on what is originating some of the negativity. 
thumbnail
Siavash ', modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 1359 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
 Yeah it can be quite unpleasant to get rejected in an interview. I've experienced it enough times to know how it can feel.
But please keep in mind that the companies reject people for all kinds of reasons. It would be very good if they explained why they rejected, but a lot of them don't have enough understanding/care/courage to do that.

I've gone to many interviews, and also I've interviewd many people myself, and I've seen that how broad those reasons could be.

Sometimes they reject you because you are too good for that position, sometimes because you are not good enough, sometimes because you are younger, sometimes because you are older, sometimes because they don't want to hire at all, and they are just gathering CVs to know what is going on in the market, and many more.

A lot of times they themeselves don't know clearly why they reject, because they had an emotional reaction and that reaction has led to decision.

Just wanted to emphasize that a lot of times being reject doesn't mean not being qualified or skilled.
 
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
So true. I heard through the grapevine that it was someone already Full Time Permanent who changed department, bumping me out as a Contract team member. The last rejection was strongly related to nepotism and the need to cut payroll numbers.

I like to think that strings of my consciousness permeates out into reality to forge paths for me, embedding coincidences as guide posts. My first rejection brought me to my second, which showed me that being a retail manager was not for me. A valuable lesson. Leading up to my interview gave me the courage to kick my substance abuse and start this meditation journey. 33 days without any alcohol or cannabis, 17 days of daily meditation. 

I can honestly say that I've never been in a better position (mind, body, soul) to forge my own career path, and being a service to others is a prime motivator.
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 
40 minutes Guided meditation - Shinzen Young on the Thinking Process
5 minutes Focus on Positivity

  • This was my second attempt following this guided meditation. The contrast between last night's session and this afternoon's session was quite stark.
  • Concentration was easier, though I continued to feel my attention pulled in different directions.
    • Location was outside in the sun. I was actually able to use this setting as a feedback to my awareness. When I became aware of the sun on my skin, the sounds of traffic, the sensations of flies landing on me, I knew that my awareness on my thinking process was disrupted. I would focus back on that "infinite expanse". Shinzen talked about "hearing emptiness" or "seeing beyond the visual shapes and forms" in this practice which help give insight on how to focus my awareness.
    • Posture with my new meditation bench was different compared to last night. I tried using a kneeling position and found it to be immensely more comfortable and less distracting.
    • I'm still feeling the tinges of impatience and eagerness. I'm also thinking during my sessions about what I want to write in this log, including this line. Again, as I patiently progress in each sessions, this awareness of mental fluctuations will offer me feedback on my progression. Eventually I anticipate I will so enamored about the present that my future self will forget aspects of the meditation. 
  • Aftermath: I feel like a little kid giggling at my wandering mind, my progressing concentration, my deeper internal awareness. The whispy smile found me as I was giving thanks to all those in my life, to all the forces that brought me to where I am today. I think I may go on a trail hike today and just let this glow meld with the surroundings. 
Picture of my new meditation bench:

​​​​​​​  
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Note to self. Write the log in another program prior to adding here. Sometimes you get signed out after starting the reply, but prior to publishing.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It's a feature ... to remind you of anicca emoticon
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Aren't you precious ... hahaha thanks for the laugh!
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 9h49pm-10h09pm
5 mins Vipassana (warm-up)
5 mins Thinking Process (warm-up)
10 mins Access Concentration

Vipassana work appears to be getting better. Global body awareness appears to be improving as well. Thinking process still appeared to be focused too much on "doing things right" or variations on "eagerness". Though patience did appear to be a bit more natural, a lot calmer. Sabotaging thoughts came back, moreso in the form of "scary" or "fear" driven imagery (ie: spooky old lady). Labelling, awareness and acceptance cleared them out. 

Access concentration was not very long. May be a good idea to focus on it for a longer period tomorrow. Attempting to routinely hit 30 mins in one session may improve. The more I practice detaching the self, the longer I can spend focusing on my breath undistracted, the more I will progress. Already I started sensing moments of the first jhana. But that distracts the focus from the breath, onto the focus of the pleasure. I still want to have a complete experience focusing on my breath, for longer than what could equate to random occurrences. 

Theory: Dependent Co-Arising

As I continue to derive as many learnings from the recent job loss, the stumbling on the podcast about Dependent Co-Arising seems to be pulling at my thoughts. I found a link to the "Shape of Suffering" book which led me to explore the "Four Noble Truths" in more detail. 

My causal chain regarding the suffering of my job loss appears to be more of an offshoot of a deeper causal chain; "fear of failure" & "freedom". I link the two together as they appear to be quite intertwined. One oftens leads to a birth of identity, while the other triggers it's death leading to suffering. As I ponder that insight, I notice that this is also an offshoot; "Death of the Ego" & "No Self".

To draw my awareness to this deep level ... is immensely fascinating. What are the dynamics here?

It's been a while since something has grasped my full consciousness and put me into that 1,000 yard stare / daydreaming state.   
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 1 hour
Refuge Prayer
5 mins Vipassana
5 mins Thinking Process
50 mins Access Concentration

Returned to an original posture and position for this session as I wanted to go for over an hour. 

Tried something different in this session. Added a variation of the Refuge Prayer, including a focus on saying thank you to all those whom I forged a bond with, learned with, loved and laughed with. The wispy smile found me throughout this practice. 

Taking that warmth, I began my body sense awareness Vipassana warm up. I added a slight variation to take time to focus my awareness from the smaller sections into larger groupings. As I go through the scalp, temples, forehead, eyes, ears, nose, cheeks and jaw, vocal box, neck ... I pause to widen my awareness to the whole of my head. Then I proceed from my shoulders, into my left bicep, left elbow, left forearm, left hand, each fingers on the left hand, and follow the same path up the right arm. Then I pause to widen my awareness through the entirety of both arms for a couple breaths. I continue through my chest, torso, abdomen, front and back, and pause here as well. I spent a few extra breaths in the abdomen as I felt some tightness. I continued down my legs, similar to my arms, and paused here as well. I brought my awareness to my chest (heart) and began to widen it to encompass my entire body attempting to maintain a global body sense awareness ... and simply relax for a few breaths. 

From here I gravitate my awareness towards my thoughts. I still feel some uncertainty with this practice, as though I am not sure what to focus my awareness on, so I try to focus on that uncertainty instead. Try to see if I can catch the moment between sensory contact and reaction. Try to see how the stream of thought emerges from my subconscious. And attempt to diffuse any distractions back from where it came. Again the insight of acceptance, not resistance, comes fleeting back. 

When I feel my concentration start to deepen, I gravitate my awareness to focus on my breath. As I settled my concentration, I started to feel my distractions emerge in their typical fashion. I attempted something a little different, I felt that labelling each distraction was behaving like a microscope. Similar to widening my awareness for a global body sense, I tried widening my awareness turning the microscope into an expanse and hope the thoughts would be lost without a barrier to echo off. While widening my awareness, I tried diffusing my attention into my breaths. And maintain this form of concentration. I dropped all forms of labelling/noting.

New experiences:
    • Sound of silence - the sound of silence as I was falling deeper in concentration was become ... Louder? More pronounce anyways. It sounded like the sound of having a large seashell by your ear .. The one that is supposed to mimic the sound of the ocean.
        ○ This sound awareness was also coupled with a sense of visual brightness. 
    • Gravity/heaviness - at one point my body sense was drawing some of my attention as my entire body started to feel heavy. This is a completely new experience. The closest sensation would be like what happens when you're about to take off on a plane, but without direction.
    

I was also happy that my eagerness and impatience was a lot less pronounced. The sense of time for an hour, which I think this is a first for me, was near non-existence. The hour went by quick.

I'd be curious to try maintaining this style of practice, an hour long, for a week straight. 
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 1 hour
Refuge Prayer (focus on giving thanks)
5 mins Vipassana (warm-up)
5 mins Thinking Process (warm-up)
50 mins Access Concentration

Another great session. This one is having post ripple effects of having really sunk in deep. I'm feeling more contemplative about the present moment, exploring my surroundings like each sensory contacts are a new experience. The wispy smile is persistent which I'm pretty okay with. I feel I can accept that one.

Yesterday evening, I found a new job posting that really resonated with me and seemed like a great fit. It sparked dependent co-arising to the point of day dreaming new identities. Before really allowing that clinginess to find a foothold, my awareness recognized what was happening. It got me thinking to myself if this is a wandering thought that maybe I should allow it to run its course, if I should exercise some will power and stop the thought before it becomes more persistent... now I have concerns about what to do. 

"From the arising of this comes the arising of that."

This morning, I was still mulling over this recent bout of dependent co-arising. Asking myself how I should tackle this. Then I remembered; "My mindfulness practice does not prevent train of thoughts directly. I am making a false statement if I believe I need will power to prevent myself from wandering down specific paths. Mindfulness puts me in the "now". I am not "avoiding" a path for my mind to wander, I am refocusing my mental energies into complete experiences in the moment."

With this realignment of awareness, acceptance washed the clinginess away. It is from this insight that I felt the urge to sit for my morning session.

I can tell that I am a visual person. My eyes tend to feel a strain when I concentrate on body sense awareness. As though my eyes are tracking my attention as I focus awareness throughout the body or focus on one point. When I start to become aware of my eyes, I feel fluctuations like they are trying to find something to lock on to. I find locking them on my "third eye" has been helping and the difference in my body awareness is helping my consciousness feel more detached. I could almost feel that the "ego" believed this to be a safe stronghold to reside in.

Speaking of my "third eye", my concentration feels like its slowly progressing. The best analogy would be that it feels like my "third eye" is slowly opening, and as it opens, my sense of self and my thoughts are becoming more distant and less interesting.

The sound of silence was still heard and actually helped me anchor my sensory awareness as new sounds were permeating in the house with our new temporary covid roommates. The gravity bodily sensation came back as well which surprised me. I thought it to be a random occurrence. I'm actually starting to think that this may be the beginning of the 1st jhana, but in a much more controlled release. 

"Awareness & acceptance"

Acceptance is key to my goals. I am starting to deepen my understanding of that insight. The more I accept, the less I expect. The less I expect, the less the sense of self manifests itself. The more I cultivate this sense of acceptance, the more I anticipate I'll sense it's application in my daily life. 

Whether this path takes 3 lifetimes or 1 moment, whether it's a gradual process or an explosive release, I am more interesting in the now than the when or how. 

And right now, I will enjoy this moment.
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 1289 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Hey Rob,

Welcomme to DhO! Thanks for sharing your practice log. You will find a great group of like minded people here.
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Hey Sam,

Thanks for the kind words. Shifting my personal log from my OneNote to here has been quite helpful for me. Knowing there's a potential for "other eyes" to read my log helps ensure a level of honest accountability within me. 

Already finding a lot of great resouces and inspiration from this community too!
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 40 mins
Refuge Prayer (focus on giving thanks)
10 mins warm-up
30 mins Access Concentration

My warm-up process will take on small variations moving forward, but the goal will be similar; attempt to relax the body, attempt to focus my awareness, attempt to assess my state of being. This will be more of a pay attention to where my awareness feels attracted too and see if I can infuse awareness and acceptance to relax.

This session, my eyes again were drawing my awareness. They wanted to see and track what my awareness was doing. A slight frustration arose from this sentiment, so I decided to drop my typical global body awareness warm-up and spend time focusing on my eyes. An insight came to me. Using an "arrow" of consciousness as an analogy, I found I was busy focusing and directing my "arrow" as though I was the point. I decided to try something different, and focus my awareness as though I was the feathered end. My intuition guided the direction of the "arrow" towards tactile senses, points of contact between my body and the cushion, points of contact between body parts, as well as thermal senses. All of which freed my subconscious' desire to have my eyes track my awareness.

During my access concentration portion of the session, my concentration started to feel like it was getting closer to my goal but then dukkha pulled it away. Almost like I'm trying to run into the freezing cold water for a polar dip, but dodging the waves and pulling back just before making contact. I had the sense of going deeper within my being, then being drawn back out.

I'm curious if this "wave" function, this stream of consciousness dipping deeper in concentration and peaking out, will have a rhythm moving forward.

The sense of eagerness and impatience is now hitting a somewhat paradoxical junction. Where before I thought my eagerness was to fulfilling a dependent co-arising desire to give "birth" to an "awaken" identity, I now sense that the eagerness is to finish the meditation as soon as possible to avoid the "death of the ego". My impatience to complete my meditation is a desire to avoid dukkha, as I sense an utter lack of eagerness to dive deeper into my practice. Sorry ego-buddy, we're doing this.

Potentially. I feel this is really hitting new territory for me now.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Good stuff. Yeah the ego does tend to get a bit put out when it realizes it's not going to be able to take advantage of awakening. emoticon​​​​​​​
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 20 mins
Refuge Prayer (focus on giving thanks)
Warm-up (body sweeping)
Access Concentration

I hit a breakthrough today. My goal of reaching Access Concentration in a more controlled manner, not a random occurrence, and a capacity to maintain it has been met. I believe I found my key. The next step will be to spend a week or two meditating daily and attempting to maintain Access Concentration for longer periods of time now.

I was reading a thread on this forum related to Dependent Co-Arising and someone shared a link to The Shape of Suffering. This book is a slow burn for me. Each paragraph, each line, I am taking in and reflecting on. My first body stopping epiphany of an insight came from the following section, well encapsulated by the following:


Those, having seen 
what’s come to be
as what’s come to be,
and what’s gone beyond
what’s come to be,
are released in line
with what’s come to be,
through the exhaustion of craving for becoming.
If they’ve comprehended what’s come to be—
and are free from craving 
for becoming & not-,
with the non-becoming 
of what’s come to be—
monks come to no renewed becoming. — Iti 49

Craving not-becoming is no different than craving becoming. As I try to control my thoughts, distance my consciousness from my ego, ponder the "no self" ... I am actually feeding a craving for non-becoming. As I go through my logs, I see the Dependent Co-Arising building up. 

I am reminded of a podcast with Shinzen Young talking about the classic "what is the sound of one hand clapping" koan and how the confused mind is a desired state of mind. At the time, that was a neat thought that stuck out for me. 

As I reflect on the cessation of craving becoming and non-becoming, I find myself gravitating towards a middle between these two ends. The state of mind at the middle reminds me a lot of what a confused mind feels like. That moment of cessation, that moment of "huh?", that moment of no momentum in thought. Makes me think of how an apple should feel when you throw it in the air and it hangs there for a moment before falling back down. It does not have upward momentum, nor downwards momentum. All momentum has ceased in that moment. I'm sure if the apple was/is conscious and the act of being thrown was a new experience, hitting that moment of cessation would leave it thinking "huh?". 

Another line that stuck out for me was "what’s gone beyond what’s come to be". This line brought back memories of my time years ago when I was diving deep into philosophy books, landing on Nietzche. His line on "Love falls beyond Good & Bad/Evil" sprung to mind. Good and Bad was like a yin-yang symbol for me. Love falls beyond because it is on another dimension all together. Conflict within a duality can be resolved by approaching things with different perspective at a different dimension. 

A thought came up. What if I place myself into this confused state, this middle ground, and than focus my awareness on my breath during my meditation?

As I sat, ready for my session, I repeated my variation of the refuge prayer with a focus on loving-kindness for all those in my life. "Love falls beyond good and evil" ... What if I infused my awareness with that same loving-kindness?
 
I locked my awareness on that middle state, focused my attention on my breath, infused my awareness with loving-kindness, and Access Concentration was achieved much faster, much more controlled and was much easier to maintain. Unfortunately I had to cut my session short as a 12 year old daughter beckoned my attention. 

I'm sensing the shift. I am able to put myself in that middle state while making coffee, while listening to my music, while watching the trees sway through the window. I can focus my attention, while leaning on the counter, fully on my breath as though I was meditating.

Neat.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Rob Gee
Craving not-becoming is no different than craving becoming. As I try to control my thoughts, distance my consciousness from my ego, ponder the "no self" ... I am actually feeding a craving for non-becoming. 

​​​​​​​This is an important insight. A lot of people get stuck trying to "kill" the ego, which is still a neurotic relationship with the ego. You can't live without an ego! The important thing is to see the ego for what it is and, like you say, reduce the craving for both becoming and not-becoming. 

​​​​​​​Things get a lot easier when you drop the intellectual attachment to dualities - good and evil, control and no control, self and not-self, emptiness and form, samsara and nirvana - and start to see that it's possible for two seemingly contractory things to be true at the same time. The middle way ... emoticon
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
 I think I'm going to start trying 15-20 minutes sessions in the evening while I have all this free time. Even today I find that my sense of attachment, distracted wandering mind, fluctuation emotions, gets more muddled as the day progresses. Maybe even in the afternoon. 

Feels like a lot, but I don't anticipate I'll have this amount of free time in the near future. Might as well experiment.
 
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 50 mins
Mettā Prayer
Body Sweeping warmup
+40 mins Access Concentration

I think referring to my Refuge Prayer as a Mettā Prayer is more apt to its purpose. This is quickly becoming one of my favourite additions to my practice as it helps me realign and cultivate a more positive sense of being. 

My mood today is more cold, more calm. Like a thin layer of ice over a puddle, ever so fragile. Even my limbs were cold during today's session. My mind has been lost in contemplation about how my day ended yesterday. I wouldn't characterize it as a bad day, I'm just becoming more aware of my mind, my emotions and my general sense of being as it evolves throughout the day after my meditation sessions. As my insights and application of the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Co-Arising grows, I'm seeing a lot of the work ahead of me outside of meditation. The Noble Eightfold Path has been on my mind today (right action, right livelihood). 

I don't want this practice to simply be like an interesting entertainment TV series, where I dive deep within my psyche and seek out neat, near psychedelic experiences, that I can formulate into fun stories to share with people. I don't want to simply sit, breath, than forget. 

Opening my session this morning with the Mettā Prayer helped bring some warmth, almost literally, and helped refocus the mind. My body sweeping warmup was more mechanical than usual, but I didn't dwell on it. After yesterday's breakthrough, I was quite curious to see how my Access Concentration will behave. 

Given my contemplative mood, it took a little while to calm the thinking process. Even so, I still felt I could enter Access Concentration relatively quickly once I started locking my mind on that blank middle state and focusing my awareness and attention on my breathing. I'd say at the 15 minute mark I was in Access Concentration. I did catch my attention locking on to some thoughts, but overall I was quite pleased with how much I could maintain it and how quickly I could jump back in after a distraction.

I didn't have any other new interesting experiences, simply just me and breathing. It was quite pleasantly relaxing. A good pause button for the wandering mind. Near the end, I'd say the last 10 minutes, I felt I dipped a little deeper as things felt like they got more quiet. I would have stayed longer in meditation, but I misjudged my 1 hour mark. I came out of the session with an overwhelming feeling of wanting to say thanks. 

Spending more time mastering Access Concentration still feels like the right path for me. I'm almost at a full month of daily meditation yet still don't feel rushed to move along more advanced practices. I just got a copy of Right Concentration and The Mind Illuminated based on a few recommendations I read on this forum. My goal for the next couple weeks will be to read these books, continue studying the Shape of Suffering, continue my meditation practice with Access Concentration and really look at applying all these learnings throughout my daily activities.
 
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 1 hour (8h00am-9h00am)
Mettā Prayer
Body Sweeping warmup
+50 mins Access Concentration


The sense of disenchantment I felt yesterday was still present in the background. My Metta Prayer was a touch more mild but still pleasant. Body sweeping had a different quality after last nights guided meditation. The concept of Self vs Other, Expansion vs Contraction, was still echoing within me. 

I followed my same pattern with Access Concentration and still that sense of disenchantment followed. I am anticipating that this sentiment may be what causes some practitioners to stop their practice. The pleasant sensations of the newness to the experience, the discovery of the shores in our inner worlds, fade while leading to the mechanical quality of consistent training.

Progress was still felt. My sense of time dropped as the hour flew by. Distracting thoughts came and went, and I could feel my awareness on my breath contracting as they arose. This quality of expansion and contraction is quite interesting. If I can note the oscillating quality at smaller time intervals, I may be able to catch myself before a distracting thought fully detracts me.

I noted distractions in the form of outer noises (tv in other room), body senses (digestion, urge to swallow, breathing in the abdomen vs nose, slothful posture needing correcting), thoughts (my to-do list, last nights dream, various interactions, various learnings). 

Another interesting quality was the sensation of being immersed in the breath, losing contact with Other contacts. This quality is my current anchor point I am trying to lock my concentration on. By the end of my session I was able to enter it and maintain it for sustained bursts. The hour long sessions are definitely key at this point in my practice.
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Been an interesting couple days. 

Tuesday I did my standard practice but stopped at the 30 minute mark. Had a 10km hike planned with a friend which I didn't want to miss my time commitment. I also came to the realization that my sitting posture for the 1 hour session is way too comfortable. I'll be trying today's session in a kneeling position using my bench.

Yesterday, my willpower hit a wall. Ironically, I had an interview that went extremely well but otherwise my ego was in control of the day. I actually didn't fight it this time. Instead I accepted it. Want to sit and watch season 2 of the mandalorian ... sure. Want to eat processed food and sugars for the sake of it ... give er. Don't want to meditate today ... hmmm maybe. Did I feel better indulging my cravings? Not surprising, that's a big nope. I can internalize changes easier when I go through the experiences, and being mindful and accepting through the experience really helped internalize it. I do not feel guilty.

Except for the desire to skip meditation. By 10pm I was starting to throw shade at myself to get me off the couch. I'm not sure if I would have mustered the willpower to do it but life finds a way. A friend needed help with a drive to the hospital emergency dept to check on his post-op leg. Being a service to others is always fantastic on my mood, so I offered and drove him out. With Covid still present, I was not allowed in the ER. Sitting alone in the parking lot, I couldn't think of a better opportunity to meditate. It was only for 15 minutes, but even reciting my Metta Prayer proved positive to my mood.

Today is a new month. I am more determined to keep this practice going. 
Rob Gee, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Session: 1 hour (10h45am-11h45am)
Free Form Intuition
Access Concentration


(Heads up that this entry is quite self-serving and needlessly wordy and circular. Just me trying to work out the mental equivalence of a knot.)

Why has it been difficult to find motivation lately to meditate? Why was I actively trying to avoid it?

These were the questions on my mind this morning and all yesterday. So rather than go with my usual practice, I decided to try something different and to meditate on these questions in the hopes of gaining new insights.

Was I doing anything yesterday more worthwhile? Was I doing anything that warranted skipping my meditation? Both of these answers are easily a no. What did do yesterday was dive full on into my hobby to the point that I was in the zone all day. But "in the zone" in this case was not the positive kind; there was no mindfulness here. This was an escape. This was me running form my "productivity", my "right living", my meditation practice and spiritual journey. This was diving into an identity born from ignorance with no applied knowledge of the Four Noble Truths.

What was the root of this all-encompassing desire? Was this a new experience? Definitely not a new experience. Reflecting on my past and present showed a pattern emerging. New experience brings a fervent joy, takes over my life, becomes like an addiction, tappers off when that sense of newness wears off, no longer interested in the experience. This will often last a month or two. 

I see the pattern in my work experiences: start a new job with an insane amount of energy, set a bar for myself that is near impossible to maintain, start to tapper and plateau, allow negativity/insecurity/anxiety to creep in more and more. 

I see the pattern in relationships, hobbies, lifestyle changes like fitness and healthy eating. I also see the pattern in meditations themselves. 

Again, the insight of these feedback loops comes back. As I focus on the pattern of these loops, they again feel like off-shoots of sometime deeper. As time goes on within a loop, my fear of failure has a greater chance of taking hold and becoming a negative feedback loop. Rather than work through this fear, I jump onto a new identity/experience/hobby. Like an addict, my fervent energy to this new identity helps distract myself from that fear. Like clockwork, I jump from hobby to hobby, returning to old ones, experience to experience, always seeking new ones.

Meditation is how I can begin to break this cycle and begin to work through this deep rooted fear.

With today's meditation, I felt the clouds of emotions in my mind like a thick fog. My awareness easily sliced through the fog and found that state of mind from previous sessions. I give thanks to my steady practice, permitting myself to become familiar with this state. In this session, I forgo my mindful breathing practice to focus more on a state of mind. Fabrication was the concept I was meditating on.  

Name & Form has an interlinking relationship with Sensory Contact. Prior to this step in the thinking process, I have consciousness itself. Consciousness itself taking Name & Form within the thinking process. All this "conscious becoming" is a fabrication of my existence in relationship with my reality. These thinking processes can be experienced like streams, with my consciousness jumping awareness from stream to stream. Each stream a different fabrication.

I am starting to detect "something" deeper, "something" that connects with the universe at a primal and ancient level. Not everything that exists questions its ignorance of how it exists. Trying to understand this "something" with words is simply attempting to put names and forms and results in slicing off part of the infinite into a finite concept. The complexity of love cannot be effectively expressed in words without requiring other dimensions of expression like art, and even then the results are still limited. Much like trying to explains the concept of red versus blue to a blind person. 

All matter in this universe if fabricated off this "something". Life and existence are off-shoots of this "something", as is equally all matter. In its purest form, it allows for creation to exist. The creation of dimensions, matter, life, love, etc. Fabrication is permitted. It is on this backdrop that I am fabricated, leading to all my feedback loops of dependent co-arising. 

This is where I take a leap of faith. This "something" is the source of everything. In its purest form, it is of service to all things with the upmost equanimity. Loving-kindness is one of its qualities because service to others is the purest form of loving-kindness. It is in relation to this source that all things exist.

This universal stream of loving-kindness is the stream that I am seeking to attach my awareness too. From this stream, may I begin to fabricate my consciousness and elevate myself with equanimity. Staying mindful of this stream, of this particular feedback loop, all others from my past will dissolve into equanimity. 

This process will not occur in the flash of a moment of insight. I have years of ignorance to work through. The mental erosion of bad habits require time to heal while new ones are being forged. 

I came out of this hour long practice and a headache formed pretty soon after. There is a conflict of intention in my mind, between the state of mind that was and the state of mind that will be. My skipping of this meditation practice yesterday was my state of mind from the past seeking its familiar patterns. Arrogance in permitting myself to slip into my dependent co-arising did not have knowledge of the four noble truths applied; it was not with mindfulness. Suffering was building up. Feeding into my cravings like an addict lowered my energy levels into a negative state. Evidence of this was quite apparent when anger and irritability was triggered when not feeding the craving. 

I see the pattern again when analyzing these energy levels. How this dip in energy level was an excuse to prevent my growth and to simply stick with my cravings. 

This hour session was a critical session in my growth. This is the point that I push past my previous peak and truly begin this journey in earnest. This is not a simple hobby to feed my dependent co-arising.

This is something new. This is change in motion. 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Meditation is the "ultimate" hobby, in the sense that it's the last one you will ever need! The great/terrible thing about meditation is that there is nowhere else to run. You can try to intellectualize it or zone out or fantasize for a while, but it's hard to deceive yourself about it for very long before realizing that there's literally nowhere else to go and nothing else to do apart from get really familiar with your actual experience of what it's like to be you (sensations, body state, emotions, moods, mental states etc)
Rob Gee, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
I think that's the interesting thing about meditation, it is quite multi-faceted. On one side, it is cultivating a tool to help with every day experiences or even enhance other activities (ie: mindful eating, zen like mountain biking, fully experiencing a moment of blissful joy) and another is for the sake of itself (ie: exploring altered states of consciousness). It can be to seek out answers, seek out healing, seek out peace. The nice thing about this ultimate hobby is the fact that it is independent of weather, time of day, state of the body's health, other people, etc. The simplicity of the act is pleasant in itself, and it is very hard to find a logical reason not do follow through with it. Even if it's only for 5 minutes. 
Rob Gee, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Mental Note - Altering my logging process to a weekly format. I may keep a daily journal for when I feel like writing down a new experience, or working through a thought process. This should help balance between keeping myself accountable and keeping my practice light.

Weekly Frequency - 4 sessions in the last 7 days

This last week was the return of my "dark forest" episode which lasted 5 days. I was able to motivate myself to meditate for a couple days, but even those days took a lot of effort. One amazing insight from this latest episode was how mild it was comparative to prior episodes. I anticipate that going 50 days without alcohol or cannabis and 30 days with meditation helped out. 

Yesterday and today's meditations did not go the full hour but I was able to meditate through the pain of my ankles with my new posture.
  • The straight back with this posture is certainly of value to the practice and prevents the slothful sense I had earlier from manifesting.
  • My Metta Prayer is building up and rippling throughout the days again.
  • My concentration with my body sweeping keeps breaking half way through but I am becoming more gentle with my reaction. Simply restart the process, it's not a race. 
  • Access control has been easier to slip into, moreso after this dark forest episode. My object of focus is usually the breath which I maintain for the largest portion of my session, but I've been finishing with another object of focus. Focusing on the nostrils still requires some form of sensory contact (tactile). I am starting to focus on the mental stream that has deconstructed all senses, deconstructed name and forms. From this object I try to infuse loving-kindness and just ride that wave for as long as I can. The magnetic aspect of my attention-distractions feels a lot less prevalent when I am concentrating here vs my breath. As though I can maintain longer sustain bursts of access concentration. 
Overall I feel lighter about this minor changes. I started tracking my emotional energy level throughout the day as well as my physical-concentration-mood. A quick google forms and a timer on the phone, voila. Another tool to help keep myself mindful throughout the day.

 
Rob Gee, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
Practice Frequency: 4 sessions in 7 days

Today I felt like an insight coalesced. Something has been building up for the last couple weeks. Part of me was rebelling to this new ideal, this new lifestyle which I am trying to forge. I'm sure I transfered a lot of unproductive energy into this rebellion ... but at its core ... I believe there was an understanding waiting. 

I feel like I hit a saturation point. Between all the podcasts, all the books, all the online resources ... between all the stories, the teachers ... especially with all the free time I had to devote to this new path ... I felt the inclination to simply halt everything and re-evaluate. If I am to be honest with myself, I've been trying to recreate others successes and stories. I needed to start somewhere, and I am grateful for my practice thus far. I feel I have a better vantage point to understand my current goal. Before it was simply to practice for the sake of practicing and see what happens. 

I decided to allow my intuition to guide the practice session today. I didn't feel up for doing my metta prayer, body sweeping focus, nor my access concentration focused on my breath. In each of my recent sessions, my concentration has been waning with so many distractions. My goal with access concentration was to build my concentration and have a solid foundation for future progress. Before I can fully master access concentration, I need to figure out my wandering mind. My intuition guided me to dependent co-arising yet again. 

A couple weeks ago I started to experience and understand dependent co-arising a little deeper. Cravings and Desires was the easy entry point to begin understanding this concept. The relationship between Sensory Contact and Name & Form appears evident to me. So I decided to try to go even deeper. A distraction is given Form from a Sensory Contact, in this case the thinking mind. Before this Sensory Contact, before this Form, there is my Conscious. Before my Conscious is Fabrication. My belief is that every fabrications, every distractions, comes from the same source. A shared and infinite source. 

My object of focus is now my distractions. As one comes up, I try to deconstruct each step of dependent co-arising until I go beyond Fabrication. Once I feel I hit that source beyond Fabrication, I maintain my awareness and concentration here. Much like counting my breaths for focus, each distraction is simply another opportunity to practice my capacity to deconstruct the thought and return to that deeper layer. If I feel a hope, an expectation, a desire ... I follow the same deconstruction process. I'm sensing that metta is buiding up because I am not combatting these distractions. I'm almost welcoming them, thanking them, because each opportunity is helping me. 

I felt my previous forms of practice would promote and trigger my wandering mind. My hypothesis is that I am not yet ready for those other forms of practice. If I can better minimize my distractions, I will nautrally be able to concentrate for longer periods of time, and thus much deeper. And once again, if I succeed here, everything else will fall in place.

Today's session lasted 45 minutes and I had absolutely no difficulty sitting for that period of time. I could have gone longer, so I'll set my time for 60 minutes again. The thought of time did not manifest itself frequently this time. The interesting thing was the sensations after. I had that calmness again. That otherworldly awareness. That my perception of my reality was somewhat different. I just wanted to absorb myself into my surroundings and my senses. I felt like a child exploring my world for the first time again. 

This form of practice feels more my own. This feels right for where I am at on this journey. I actually feel my enthusiasm and motivation returning.  
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: The journey begins - Log #1

Posts: 1909 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sounds promising :-) The more time you spend investigating your own explerience the better!

Breadcrumb