My path so far

Stefan Stefan, modified 3 Years ago at 3/29/21 1:15 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/29/21 1:13 AM

My path so far

Posts: 236 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Hi friends, 
I've been a long-time lurker here and on Reddit's r/streamentry for a while. Finally decided to make an account and introduce myself, share my story, and see if any of it resonates.
A little about me: I'm a psych student. Long-time contemplative scientist, albeit somewhat unwilling at times, unknowing most of the time, and only recently connected to it properly. Throughout childhood, I'd have very unitive experiences of my being submerged within reality. I'd watch myself watching my family at dinner. And some other times, I'd have what I called to myself "zooming", where my consciousness would sorta "rush" out of my head vertically, while looking down, and escape into the vast cosmos, to reveal my total insignificance to the size of the universe, but also the unique part of my being. Obviously, these thoughts from my childhood are backward-rationalised with my adult thinking processes, but it took a long time to realise what these experiences really meant. I used to think I was just a weird kid. Now I know I'm a born contemplative with an inclination to seeing things in certain ways. As a young adult, I spent most of my time studying politics and philosophy, neither of which gave me real answers. I got an MA in PoliSci, and really disliked the work culture I found myself in. In Jan 2020, I had some very strong mystical experiences from certain entheogens. It profoundly changed my life and brought me to connect to my innermost path of being a contemplative, along with a seeker and psychologist (which I'm studying to become now). 
My meditation practice: I began in January 2020. I started with 10 minutes x 2 per day of formal meditation. I started with Zazen-ish breath-counting meditation. I liked it simple. Within a week, I was up to 20min x 2 per day. Within a month, I was up to 40 x 2 per day. Coronavirus lockdown gave me heaps more opportunities to meditate than I would have normally gotten if life stayed the same. By April, I was already seeing very good returns. My expectations were the MBSR-type expectations of lower stress. Questions already began to itch at me demanding answers. What are these things called emotions? Why do I feel them despite not wanting to? Why do I want to not feel them, if the feeling of them is just happening? Wants versus reality was a big theme here, for the most part.
I travelled along getting small glimpses of peace and tranquillity, but for every itch scratched, a new one would arise. More tension was found everywhere. Especially just accepting the reality of things. Funnily enough, I was never really annoyed by my mind getting distracted. But I would get annoyed at my mind getting annoyed while doing the counting exercises. I guess I always had a more relaxed approach to mind wandering from my youth... Who knows? Either way, loud annoying sounds were the source of my stress around this time, and I'd spend lots of time meditating with loud noises around on purpose to annoy myself and work through it. Meanwhile, not doing any vipassana stuff, still just the Zazen counting breaths.
Around May, I started making good breakthroughs, seeing my patterns of coping, my anger, my trivial bullcrap popping up. This time I'd actually watch the emotions how they'd come and go. Sort of like watching a garden, you see the seeds go in, the soil get watered, and the sapling grow. It was a very liberating thing to watch. Things definitely began to annoy me way less than before. Mind you, I was still committed at this point to doing breath counting. I was kind of analysing the emotions and watching them in parallel to the counting. Sorta weird, but I had literally no instructions other than to count the breath. So I gave myself the side quest to look at emotions as they happened alongside the counting. It just felt natural, and I had no real problem doing it.
By June-July, I had very strong convulsive body shakes coupled with rapid eye movement nearly every sit, which lasted for about 7-8 weeks nonstop. The first time it happened, I thought "woah, I'm becoming an electric wizard!!!". I thought I had activated some deep chakra powers or something. I thought I was reaching something very special. I definitely got the feeling that meditation was the answer to all the problems in the world. I felt like I was God's gift to women. Just pure mania haha! Luckily, lockdown kept me contained from fully expressing this manic state and going full sicko mode out in the real world. After the intense shaking period times, I started getting WAY more into Buddhism; I began to read some Sutras from the Zen Canon. Around October-ish, I had some strong realisations. The first being that reality is a simulation; however, the simulation isn't "out there" but purely within our minds. That this reality was a self-sustaining loop, onto which we project and from which we introject; the main conclusion being that happiness and sadness were just choices from within the simulation. My meditation around this time was 3 x 40mins per day. Shaking started happening less, and also lost its appeal totally by this stage.
This was a very profound insight for me. By November, I had finished reading the Diamond Sutra, and this is around when the bad times began. My mind literally began fraying at the edges, and was having a really really hard time integrating the realisation that part of the simulation of so-called "reality" was also me. Also I was studying personality in psychology, so I had a rough intellectual time squaring the circle of personality exists and self doesn't exist according to Buddha! As I progressed further into this insight I had profound sluggishness, studying became hard, recklessness was very appealing (although, I'm a very non-reckless person so I never really indulged outside of some sweet foods), and concentration became TOUGH. Around this time I thought my brain was frying. So naturally, my personality being as it is, decides to "lean into the chaos" (which has been my mantra). And so I leaned in, continuing with Zazen breath focus for 3-4 x 40mins per day. But now I made a really strong resolution to keep the concentration on the breath and nothing else at all. Around this time I had two 1-day home retreats of about 6 hours total mediation in the day (I know rookie numbers, but for me it was huge considering my study load). Frustration ensued, and my mind continued to fray at the edges, realising that this idea of a self or personality is not compatible with what I was lead to believe my whole life.
More pain followed. By December I was really in the pits. Everything was very harsh, heavy, and cutting. Following the breath diligently was painful, but I kept at it. And frustration grew the more my concentration became jagged. It was around this time I was talking to a friend who shared with me the MCTB. Throughout November to late December, I'd have persistent nightmares, trouble sleeping in general, paranoia, delusions, and some auditory along with visual hallucinations. Most of the hallucinations were kind of unformed monster sounds that originated right above my shoulder kind of whispering in my ear. The visual hallucinations were mostly visions of vampires, monsters, giant spiders, and a little demonic baby thing. The paranoia mostly manifested as the constant feeling of anxiety, something was out to get me. It wasn't specific, kind of a general conspiracy tin-foil hat kinda way. Also, persistent thoughts of wanting to escape society, become a monk, and generally do away with the mundane existence of suburbia pervaded my psyche. Anarcho-primitivism seemed extremely appealing. This was all new territory for me. But I never really got super worried about anything at any stage. I don't know if I'm just wired differently, but there was definitely a mix of cavalier attitude along with "if this is what the mind/body is doing right now, it's gotta be for a reason".
The MCTB days began in mid-December, where I started meditating around 4 hours a day total (in 40min increments) but really began in earnest by late December. I switched to noting. And it was easy. I could note very rapidly, I found. The more I read the MCTB, the more I wanted to practice (mind you, I started from the start, not the maps part). And by the time I reached the maps part, it all made sense. Dark night. So I doubled down even harder. For about 2 weeks I meditated 5-6 hours a day, resolving to get out of dark night and taste some freedom. I made friends with my hallucinations, and laughed at my paranoid delusions. It was a matter of two steps forward, one step back. Each day was a new experiment on how to get out. Peace came by seeing the bad stuff as sensations. Nothing more, nothing less. Things got up. I finally got a real taste of freedom, some real nice smooth meditation ensued. And a sense of pervading totality of awareness opened up. I was very lucky at the time that my street had construction going on in it. I'd listen to the symphony of jackhammers, cars driving by, and the wind rustling in the trees. I found I could hear individual cogs, leaves, and motor parts when I zoomed in, and I could zoom out and observe them all. It was a really wonderful and miraculous time for my meditation. At this time I dropped mental noting, and started doing more direct mental noticing (if that makes sense?). It was like a really smooth flow state. 
After my big bullrush MCTB drive ended, and university came back (early January), I was relegated back to meditating 3 hours per day. I kept the expansiveness and rarely felt down. Energy levels were smooth. Life became way more effortless. Studying was no longer done, as much as studying was done through me. Not that I found studying a chore, but my mind naturally inclined itself to study at times and I could ride the waves way easier. Stress from my family and general life just slid off me. Around this time I was having very productive meditations. I would notice how awareness would parallel the sensations around it. Each rustle from the leaves would "split off" new aspects of awareness that would naturally co-mingle with each sensation. Each little vibration of whatever = a new parallel awareness to be with it. A few days of just noticing this, and I had a very simple sublime experience. I was noticing the parallel vibrations/awareness and as I sunk into the experience, poof. And I was back. The way I'd describe the experience is like this: imagine you're in a dark room, huddled around a candle, you're completely contorted and hunched over so that the light of the candle is only touching your body and not lighting up the room. It's kind of a selfish hogging of the light, but also done because you're scared. One day, you decide to get up because your body is tired from being all twisted and contorted. And as you clumsily try to get up, you blow out the candle by accident and hit a switch above you, which opens a window behind. All of a sudden light fills up your room. Sort of an awkward metaphor/analogy, but it's how I feel about what happened. It was a total accident, almost like a comedy of divine errors, and not one I was expecting at all.
The next 2-3 weeks after this experience, I had a few more of these experiences again, but they were less accidental-feeling, and a little more jagged (if that makes sense). I think all up, maybe another 3 or 4 times total, all with a very similar lead-up using similar stimuli. No, actually,, one of the experiences stands out. I focused on my body and its boundaries. I would notice how the sense of a body contrasted with the sense of the outside. The me vs not-me paradigm was a strange one, because how could I be certain of one without the other? And as I focused, I noticed the awareness splitting off at each location of the seeming boundary, which eventually collapsed, along with the awareness supporting the me not-me boundary. The next few days it literally felt like I was a type of ghost. Or a water being in a water world. As I was walking, it would feel as if my very body was just a different permutation of the substances which surrounded it. As I moved, each movement would transform the surrounding substances to become me. A constant transformation process. It was a very groovy feeling. I watched a lot of space documentaries at the time because I was becoming fascinated with how time and space worked. Insights also came very naturally after this period of meditation. Definitely some very good experience into the inherent instability of a self, which is rapidly changing, shifting its position relative to some other thing. What is this other thing? Hm, not sure! But the general model is that the idea of a self is more like a jellyfish type thing, kinda floating and pulsating inward and outward to stay afloat. The inward pulsations try to "wrap around" phenomena. The outward pulsations are relaxing around phenomena and allowing them to breathe. That's the general view.
Now it's late January. I want to do a retreat and I signed up for Goenka and got a spot as a newbie. So excited. My meditation throughout January has been littered with these total mental-blank-out events. Meanwhile, I've experienced a parallel rapid decrease in mental stress, a sort of general amusement at how others experience stress (over small things), a deep appreciation for life, pain, etc., and a genuine deep desire to help people step out of their suffering/stress/anguish. Studying became a breeze. My dedication to Buddhism became very strong, and I started exploring more Theravada stuff. If back in July my period body shakes were like Rambo-manic state and November paranoia-hallucinations-delusions was like a scary movie, then this mental state of mine was like smooth smooth jazz and velvety sex. 
I get to the Goenka retreat and I'm so pumped. I get to meditate uninterrupted all day, every day!?!? So good! Day 1: very easy stuff. Focus on the breath. Well now that I feel like I've developed some insight, I can use it to turbo-charge my concentration. I was there for the third sit of the day. My concentration is very much on point; I've allayed it with insights into suffering. I'm looking at how the mind reacts to when concentration wanes off the nose/breath. There's suffering there. And then I notice when the mind is on the breath. There's suffering when it's even doing the right thing. It's like no matter where the mind decides to dwell it just isn't happy with a resting point, like it must always be moving in order to sustain itself (like the jellyfish thing I said earlier). Basically, I held onto looking at this insight nonstop for about 45-mins to an hour. Hard to tell. Suffering here (at the breath), suffering there (away from breath). Suffering here (away from breath, distracted, seemingly "happy"), suffering there (on the breath, doing the "proper job"). Then all of a sudden zip. And consciousness is back. I open my eyes because I'm genuinely scared, I was not expecting anything at all. And I see reality basically split into two, sort of like a hologram or those 3D movies when you have the special red-blue glasses off. And then it just re-combines again. It was all over very quick. I was very scared and perplexed. I went back to my room and just let myself cool off. My brain was on fire. Not sure what happened, but it felt like something good at the deep level, but bad at the shallow level. Kinda like eating some really gross healthy food, I guess. 
Day 2 was uneventful except that I blew out my knee from kneeling, which was not good. Sitting the next few days became extremely excruciating. Day 2 I nearly cried from the pain, but kept sitting the full hour. Day 3 I was furious at myself for not being more equanimous despite the 8-9/10 pain by 40mins into a sit. I was angry at myself for not being a better meditator (naughty me!) and also very amused that I'd even consider being angry at me. So I was kinda laugh-angry at myself. A very confusing time if you had to narrate my life. Deep down I never wanted to relent to the pain, because I knew it'd be a fantastic teacher. So I kept at it with full faith that I would be learning. But still angry. At the end of Day 3 after an excruciatingly painful sit, I was so mad. Genuinely mad. No layer of anything else. Just pure mad. I went back into my room and meditated. Just pure anger and hostility at this body for letting me down. And as I leaned into it, pain and sorrow. The pain and sorrow of all beings pervaded my awareness, how we're all born with bodies/minds that just don't do what we want them to. It was a real eye-opener. The experience was very cliché too, because I cried a single tear. Days 4, 5, and 6 were working with the pain days. Yes, there was anger. Yes, there was amusement. But what kept me going was the fact that by learning my pain, I was learning all of our pain. I was learning to become equanimous with this pain. First, a few minutes at a time. Next, 10 mins. The next sit, 20mins. It was progressing rapidly. Nothing sexy or cool happened here. Just pain and its ensuing lessons. 
Day 7 was a breakout day. Every single sit, I sat through 8-9/10 pain for the full hour and only shifted position once or twice. I didn't feel bad for shifting either (which was a bit part of my anger at myself). Day 7, I was body-scanning like it was nobody's business, and I was starting to pick up on very subtle vibrations in my hearing. Now I can't not hear it, but my hearing has an underlying "canvass" to it. Ever since I was a kid I could notice the pixelization of sight, the natural dance of the light hitting my eyes. This was the same, but for sounds, and even during "silence" there's a canvass on which the sound paints itself. Day 7 I had a really bad sleep. I decided to sleep in a little to make up for it, and I had a very strong sleep paralysis with a demon baby grabbing me on the chest and eating my insides while I watched in pure amusement. 
Day 8 was smile day. Every sit I was just smiling with 8-9/10 knee pain. It felt like a Buddha-smile to me. But that's probably just my imagination. I was just very content being there with no dramas. By the end of day 8, in the last few sits, I was dissolving my body into a giant fluxing macro and micro vibratory field. The macro vibration being the total body vibration, and micro-vibrations being all the little bits of vibrations. One sit, smiling, just vibrating like nobody's business, something clicked that the vibrations, pixels of sight, and pixels of hearing were all the same. And so the mind naturally leaned that way. Everything melded into a giant pixelated vibrating mass. Hearing/sight/feeling all fused together into one thing. I held onto this combined pixelization for about 30mins or so nonstop. All of a sudden, the pixels stopped and all I could observe was like these giant archetypal shapes or figures, like the primordial forms of being (my name for them). It was very breathtaking, and awe-inspiring. As I held the concentration of these inconceivable yet-conceived archetypal forms, everything fell away. Like someone opened a trap door below consciousness. I could feel the opening of the trap door. And zip. Gone. Back. Here I am. This experience was very smooth and pleasurable. I felt like laughing so hard. But I made do with a smile. It was the 2nd last sit of the day.
Day 9 and 10 were quite uneventful, and I can't remember them that much really. Sitting became way easier. I had a nice smile the whole time. Time just flowed. I just flowed. The distinction between meditation and every other action was blurry. My mind was kinda racing with insights about the world. Everything is pure perspective, everything is a phenomenon or perspective. Self is a perspective. But what is the phenomenon making self? Hm? And the most important insight I had, I believe, was that all things exist in relationships, not by themselves. As in, what is a neuron without a brain? What is a brain without neurons? Whole and part are not the same, but meaningless without each other. It seemed pretty big to me at the time. Seems like a trivial point now. But it revealed to me a fundamental tension between the idea of an observer and observed sensation; along with the idea of a sensation being the thing in itself. E.g. The sensations that make up happiness are not happy themselves.
Goenka retreat finished March 7. Since then I have been meditating a solid 3 hours per day in 1 hour sits. Some days with less study I'll do 4 or 5 hours. About 2 weeks ago practice started to become very chunky, slow, and gluggy. Just like everything in the system was stopping. I'd press the accelerator for more speed, but nothing in the engine would go. I realised a few things progressively from that point: (1) noting practices are way too cumbersome and (2) more open awareness practices feel right. I've transitioned to more open awareness practices; I'm currently looking into Mahamudra/Dzogchen/Effortless Awareness. And since I've made the transition I've found that "seeing" or "sensing" the observer within the field of awareness is much easier. I've come to a few realisations since then. That self is not meant to be destroyed; how to destroy something that doesn't exist? It's an illusion. How do we dispel illusions? We learn to observe it, how we see it, and then remain mindful when it arises again. Much like the Mueller-Lyer illusion. Every time we meditate, we're learning to spot the illusion and how it forms. Have y'all heard of "Closure" in Gestalt psychology? Because that, as it seems to me at the moment, is what makes the illusion of self happen. Awareness pervades all sensations happening naturally, with no centre point, but because things aren't clearly seen in the field of sensation, the mind extrapolates the missing parts to be "self". In meditation, I can naturally sit in this centerlessness state, with awareness evenly distributed and naturally arising with phenomena. As a sense of observer arises, I'll gently sweep awareness around, and see where the illusion is made. Simply put, the self is simply a sensation that is generated as a kind of byproduct of incomplete perception. As perception becomes more complete, the illusion can be seen clearer. 
The last few weeks meditation has been the only real thing on my mind. Studying is very easy. Everything kinda comes and goes. Whenever there are feelings of difficulty, meditation time! Whenever I don't feel like meditating, time to meditate to see what those sensations are all about! Whenever I feel like meditating...? Meditation time! I feel like I'm getting at something very deep and profound like there are big things around the corner for me. Nearly every sensation is super interesting, especially its relationship to the field of awareness.  Sometimes I'll get a song stuck in my loop on infinite repeat while meditating recently, but it always passes, once it's realised as a part of the greater giant field of awareness. Deconstructing the illusion of an observer, controller, or knower has been very liberating and not at all scary. Maybe it will become scary soon! emoticon Just more sensations to observe in the field. Paradoxically, most of my meditation sessions feel very sloppy and uneventful.
Since starting meditation my motivations have evolved. Initially, I just did it because it was a good way to reduce stress. Then, as I got deeper, I thought it could be used to draw on archetypal powers; this corresponded with the "shaking times". Then, as I got further along, I've kind of dismissed any motivation other than becoming fully liberated for the benefit of helping others through my future psychology practice, and to potentially one day learn enough so that I may teach others meditation confidently. It's pretty clear I've been meditated, and not the other way around emoticon
On a personal note, I'd like to genuinely reach out and say thank you to Daniel Ingram and Shargrol. The MCTB helped me in a very trying time and helped ground me in my sensations. It also let me know I wasn't going crazy, but just living out a very normal archetypal pattern of human development. Shargrol's collected posts have helped me immensely in the last 2-3 weeks as noting has become less useful to me, and their very open/balanced approach speaks to me. 
Anyways, this is my journey so far. I've tried to keep away from any talk of mappy-stuff and stay with the actual emotions, insights, and phenomenology of what I perceived.  If anyone wants to guess where I am at based on the maps, I'm curious to hear. I'm not overly concerned with that stuff really, as most of my progress has unfolded quite naturally, and I'm genuinely happy to just be meditating. I've never missed a day since starting meditation, and I don't intend to.
Warm Regards, 
Josef C, modified 3 Years ago at 3/29/21 8:42 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/29/21 8:42 AM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 85 Join Date: 6/16/20 Recent Posts
Thank you for posting this Stefan. It inspired me in my practice emoticon and some parts resonated in me like "leaning into the chaos"  . I hope that you still post here and that you can start a practice log so that if you want to hear peer feedbacks or whatnots . Funnily enough I am reading up on personalities and surprisingly  based on some longitudinal studies personalities do change ( anicca and anatta )   which was not my expectation although now I am looking into deepening my knowledge about the abiddhamas in regards to their explanation for  , if they have such a thing back then , about personalities. 

Well I take it with a grain of salt since its from wiki : 
The Buddhist view of the person is encapsulated by the not-self teaching, which states that there is no unchanging core to a person, no soul (atman) or Ego. A person is defined as a stream of phenomenal events (termed dhammas) in a causal series of mind moments (samaya), and therefore an 'individual' or 'person' is merely a conventional designation for a collection of constantly changing processes (the five skandhas). However, in the analytical Abhidharma works, Buddhists outlined how different individuals could still be dominated by certain proclivities and tendencies, patterns of thought which arose consistently enough to allow one to designate different 'personality types'.
Unfortunately I am still a beginner in meditation therefore couldnt comment that much in the technical aspects but keep up the practice ! Hope to read from you soon here in Dho ! 
Stefan Stefan, modified 3 Years ago at 3/29/21 5:16 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/29/21 5:15 PM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 236 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
G'day, Josef, I'm glad you like my mantra emoticon it's definitely served me well! I'm glad you enjoyed the read. 

Personality is a real doozie (I mostly work on HEXACO and Big 5 paradigms). And it actually lines up nicely with how I understand the Dharma as of today. However, it's crucial to be mindful that most personality research is static, and most longitudinal research never considers real dramatic life changes. It'd also be super unethical to subject research participants to undue stress to see how much stress it would take to lead to drastic and lasting personality change. 

However, personality does change, but not really all that dramatically, and it does so with rank-order stability. This is mostly because our surrounding lives are very stable, which keeps personality stable, and vice versa. So, the anatta/anicca insights apply, but you have to mix in the co-dependent arising to understand why they stay stable. The reason is personality and situation co-determine one another.

Considering the relative stability of personality, I think the biggest place for anatta to really work is how personality expresses itself. And this is where person-to-situation is again a big factor. Imagine an experiment where we can control all variables. We get a a super extraverted person (top 5%), but then place them in an environment made up of extraverts only in the top 1%. This most likely makes them behave and feel extremely introverted by comparison. And now we realise that it's not intrinsic values of personality that determine personality, but its relational components emoticon The centre point cannot hold within a person or a group because everything is constantly changing. A central reference point is just malarkey because the way we homo sapiens calculate seemingly "inherent" value is from relational interaction between multiple interchanging/intermingling parts!
Josef C, modified 3 Years ago at 3/29/21 6:29 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/29/21 6:28 PM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 85 Join Date: 6/16/20 Recent Posts
Thank you for your reply , it all made sense  and I really appreciate it emoticon.  You have made connections that I wasnt able to connect.
Jeyan "Jey" Burns-Oorjitham, modified 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 5:11 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 5:11 AM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 64 Join Date: 5/5/18 Recent Posts
Thank you for sharing this discussion Josef and Stefan!

I found it intriguing and encouraging.

All the best to you both on your meditative adventures!
Rob Gee, modified 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 5:47 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 5:47 AM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
 That was a fun read! I'm enjoying reading up on people's experiences as they appear to be quite varied, yet each with some kernels of similarity. Like we all see the same infinitely complex "something", and try to observe, process, analyze, share.

I do have a question about meditating through leg pains ... isn't pain an indicator that damage is happening to the body? I understand that some pains can be psychological vs physiological, but putting knees in various positions with direct contact to hard surfaces seems like it would cause physiological damage, no?  
Stefan Stefan, modified 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 6:00 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 5:59 AM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 236 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
I do have a question about meditating through leg pains ... isn't pain an indicator that damage is happening to the body? I understand that some pains can be psychological vs physiological, but putting knees in various positions with direct contact to hard surfaces seems like it would cause physiological damage, no?

​​​​​​​Fair question. I've got a pretty decent idea of my joints because I used to do a lot of sport in high school and I'm a runner. Basically, knee pain is bad when its on the sides (lateral aspects), but through the middle is generally OK. My intuition and experimentation at the time indicated that it was mainly caused due to muscle tension/trigger points, not ligament shenanigans. The pain would resolve itself about 10-20mins after a sit, with some gentle walking. I was sitting on a seiza, so the knee was not bending in unnatural ways. I did something to antagonise my vastus lateralis on my right thigh on day 1, which started the terrible knee pain. The pain was terrible, it felt like something was tearing my patella off like it was about to pop off. 
shargrol, modified 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 6:47 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 6:04 AM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 2568 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
What an adventure!

Seems like the main thing to practice at this point is becoming very simple, very relaxed and to tune into subtle dukka/ill will. The days of powering through difficulty and heroically facing hardship is mostly past.

By chance do you have a typical metta practice? It seems like now might be a good time to add it in. The basic idea is that you say the words but also feel what the words mean in your body/mind. So you are sort of inducing it in your body/mind as you say the words. And then when you are doing it for others, you become like a cellphone tower and you beam out these nice experiences to others.

Make up your own metta statements, but here's a starting point:

May I be calm (feel what calmness feels like)
May I be at ease (feel what ease feels like)
My I be healthy, rested, and whole (feel what each feels like as you say it, etc.
May I be safe and free from all kinds of physical and mental danger.
May I bravely face the difficulties in my experience.
May I wisely avoid creating unnecessary problems.
May I awaken
May I be free from suffering
May I be happy.

And then you do the series for different groups of people. Feel like you are beaming these intentions out to the others....

May my friends and family... 

May those that support me...

May those that oppose me...

May all beings, known and unknown,...

And then return to yourself, always end with yourself...
May I....

Do this slowly and it can take about 30 minutes to an hour. It's very good practice and it reduces sublte ill will and reinforces our deep intention for awakening.

Just an idea, no need to do this if it doesn't seem right to you. Trust your instincts.

Stefan Stefan, modified 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 5:24 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 5:23 PM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 236 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
Seems like the main thing to practice at this point is becoming very simple, very relaxed and to tune into subtle dukka/ill will. The days of powering through difficulty and heroically facing hardship is mostly past.

Yeah, this is the way it seems to be unfolding. One of the most beautiful things I think about my journey so far is how intuitive most things seemed, how childlike and simple the insights are at their core, and a kind of feeling of slowly "returning to the source". 2019 was a very rough year and a year where all my insecurities, maladaptations, false cognitions, false hopes, and baggage all spilled over, completely derailing my life and causing great depression. I think the general heroism/cavalier attitude I had was a general recognition on my part that there is no substitute for work. 

By chance do you have a typical metta practice?
I do, but it's very sporadic. I don't really have much ill will toward people any more. I just wish they could be nicer to one another. 

I found myself doing tonnes of metta after my first mind-slate-wipe experience in January. The next day, I had the realisation that sending metta to a single grain of sand on a beach would instantly enliven the world. It was a very liberating vision, seeing the happiness of the tiniest most insignificant thing being converted into happiness for all. I think the toughest metta I've ever done is toward Trump/Republicans/QAnon people along with the political tyrants of history, and even then, after a while of sending metta their way, it revealed a kind of scarred, frightened, and helpless core of their psyche, using twisted compassion logic to do bad things. Everyone keeps hating them, and then they fight back, and vice versa. It's this vicious cycle of suffering. It's beyond tragic. Sorry to get political, but it's my truth; it took me a long while to find targets for my metta that made me feel uncomfortable. 
Josef C, modified 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 6:33 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/30/21 6:33 PM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 85 Join Date: 6/16/20 Recent Posts
All the best to you too on your practice emoticon 
Rob Gee, modified 3 Years ago at 4/1/21 9:58 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 4/1/21 9:58 AM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 26 Join Date: 3/18/21 Recent Posts
I was contemplating your reply and came to a realization that maybe my posture and sitting position is too comfortable, creating moments of slothfulness with my concentration. I decided to try a different posture for longer sittings, not shying from the pain. Being able to discern a pain, most of what I felt eventually dissipated and allowed me to better appreciate the pains that I can meditate through. Definitely felt an improvement.
shargrol, modified 3 Years ago at 4/2/21 6:17 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 4/2/21 6:17 AM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 2568 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Nice. Sounds like you got the heart of metta practice so no need to particularily emphasize it now. And your current log is sounding great.

Keep going. "Straight ahead!" as the zen expression goes. emoticon
Alessandro Migliori, modified 3 Years ago at 4/15/21 7:40 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 4/15/21 7:40 PM

RE: My path so far

Posts: 27 Join Date: 3/24/21 Recent Posts
Very cool