RE: Martin's sporadic log

Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I have decided to log a little, mostly because I get so much out of reading other people's logs that I feel like chipping in to the sharing pool. I only log some of my sits (when they are interesting or I happen to have time) and I only visit DhO on weekends, so these logs will be sporadic. 

Dec 26
  • At the end of a two-hour sit, I decided to brighten by entering j1 as if from zero, focusing on the breath, and it worked, but the sensation was like assigning it to an avatar of myself and the experience was like a simulacrum experienced by the avatar that I experienced vicariously. This sense came back several times in the day. In this second-self view, the observer is not exactly anyone, more like a neutral surrounding observer. 
  • I started a 20-minute sit in the afternoon and there was an interesting event. It was like a camera shutter. Very brief, less than a second. No other things. It clearly was not a fruition, and it does not line up with the sense of reassembling after a cessation. More like just a perceptual effect. Still kind of interesting. 

Dec. 27
  • Same timing, 20 min sit after 2-hour sit, same very brief shutter effect but this time an inwardly closing iris shutter (fast) preceded by a separate dip in the light. Also, on a walk afterward a flash in the sky (the whole sky) but, although it was a flash it was more like a glitch, or a hiccup in the sky. 

 Dec. 31
  • Interesting today. Sat for an hour with the intention of waiting for the light of access concentration at 15 or 20 minutes before starting jhana and then hanging out in the third. It worked well. First/second started at 15 and was ridiculously fun (tingly and stupid amount of chuckling, and all wow-wow-wowy). Got third but not super strong, maybe 80%, and held it for at least a half an hour. At some point I started making a point of relaxation in the manner of Bante V. In particular I worked on releasing tension in my forehead and not grabbing on to frissons, golden lights, waves and so on (but I did pay attention to pulsing when it was there). As this progressed, though I did not formally leave third and sink down into fourth, my body progressively slumped and, for a short while, the breath and body disappeared, though I did my best not to latch onto that either. I was using "don't latch on" as a sort of quiet response to any kind of reaching out, reification or co-operative fabrication. Interestingly, before the breath disappeared there was again the sense that the breathing was being done and perceived by an avatar. 
  • At the bell I tried for 5th and got it: I increased in size to probably something like 100 feet tall and then let the space spread away, below me at first and then in all directions, The space being grayish-white and unbounded but I could not "see" beyond about a mile in any direction. This then filled up with the content of my mind, which was the usual fleeting semi-visual formations that show up in vipassana sits, but expanded out into space. I took this to be, maybe, a weak proto-sixth, or just an elaborate collapse of fifth. It was fun, in any case. 
  • I walked halfway around the block. Very pleasant. Saw how it felt to apply "don't latch on" to things seen with the eyes as well. Then I went to the bathroom and the toilet was crazy far away, but sometimes popping up in different places like an active Picasso painting. I was in this kind of frozen state and so it took quite a while to get away from the toilet. Walking felt really mergy. There was no separation or otherness to walls and so on. This mostly calmed down in less than a half hour. 
Jan. 1
  • Had planned two and a half hours, but got cold and had a full bladder after an hour and a half, so I pulled the plug. That was just sitting and thought it was very quiet, nothing much happened (hmm, redundant, but also not). 
  • Later did a 30-minute sit, which turned into more than an hour of sitting, and noticed the sound-through-a-fan and strobe light effects. I found that if I watch the blanking part of the pulse, everything stops in that blanking interval, including any thoughts or perceptions, or fabrications. It's like they are gone into the blank. Normally, I think, there is a bridging function going on that produces a sense of continuity. Interestingly, when there is clinging, in the form of a sensation or formation or the like that is persistent, and I turn my attention to the blanks in that, the clinging breaks up after a second or two. 
Jan. 2
  • One hour sit. Breath disappeared after an hour, like ten seconds before the bell or something, but I had work to do, so I tried a j5 exit, but it was pretty weak. There was a lot of talk that broke up 3rd today, so it basically wasn't 3rd. 
  • Full day of work but quite pleasant. Kept noting the pulsing nature of perception off the cushion and kept finding that thought trains ended if I notice the blanks. But there is still general continuity for everything else but verbal thought. Before sleep I was noticing that the particulate nature of perception (little blips and dots) doesn't seem to be synched up with the pulsed nature. They can both be going on at the same time, independent of each other. Of course, both seem to be modes that I can tune into at least somewhat voluntarily, and so neither is likely to be any more unfabricated than the stitched together version or perception. 

Jan. 3
  • Very relaxing sit. Not what I was trying for, which was a stable j3, and instead what I got was a relaxed state with talk, especially of the "oh, no talk now, how nice, damn!" type. But talk is natural too. I kept not latching on. That kept working. Would have liked to sit longer, but had plans so I stopped after 90 minutes. 
  • Later did 20 minutes. Not planned, it just started when I sat in a chair. Got one of those sudden dips of light, like an eyelid closing, even though my eyes were already closed. 
  • Went for a long run with friends. My face was so tense afterward. Sat for 30 minutes. The inner eyelid closing thing happened again. I would have liked to be able to see the pulses because I imagine I could have let them swallow the tension in my face, but they were not there. They were not there in any sits today, which is odd, because they were there when I woke up so I had said to myself, "Yay, pulsate perception is here to stay!" Never a good idea to presume when it comes to perception, I guess. 
agnostic, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Great, good stuff. Please increase the font size though as it's very hard to read!
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin, it's so great to see you my friend posting a log. Subscribed! As the other poster said, please increase your font size. It's hard to read.
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Recently I've been agitated. If asked to give a reason, I would be tempted to say it's because I am in a new, public role at work. But I'm not shy. So the reason doesn't really make sense. It seems more like somebody's putting agitation in the water :-). My formal sitting has been a bit odd because the sitting goes as it ordinarily would but with papancha in the background. Sometimes it's in the foreground, but it is basically as if the ordinary sit is progressing in parallel. One part of me is getting calmer, clearer, unified, insightful, and another part of me is nattering away about any old bollocks. The attention goes back and forth. It's like opening and closing a door.

And this papancha is not entirely benign. At times I feel downright stressed, straight up worried. And I have nothing to worry about.  There's clinging involved. There are all sorts of views and fears and desires (none of which I care about in the grander scheme of things) that pop up and get briefly clung to. And I keep asking myself (particularly off the cushion), just what the hell is doing all this clinging. It's not "me." I don't give a damn about this stuff. It's like an automatic clinging function. Where is that installed? Where is the battery so I can take it out?
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Wow, I can't believe that I remembered to write this! What I want to record is that I can't remember a lot of stuff that goes on in my sits. Particularly in concentration practice, but also after concentration practice, some sort of pattern of content or sensation will come up and I will go "Oh, yeah, this again. I totally recognize this, it happens all the time, but I had forgotten about it." And I say, you should put that in the log. Then I forget. I made an effort to remember today and now, although I cannot remember the specifics of the thing I wanted to remember, I can remember that some things (there are multiple) are happening that I cannot remember. 
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin
Wow, I can't believe that I remembered to write this! What I want to record is that I can't remember a lot of stuff that goes on in my sits. Particularly in concentration practice, but also after concentration practice, some sort of pattern of content or sensation will come up and I will go "Oh, yeah, this again. I totally recognize this, it happens all the time, but I had forgotten about it." And I say, you should put that in the log. Then I forget. I made an effort to remember today and now, although I cannot remember the specifics of the thing I wanted to remember, I can remember that some things (there are multiple) are happening that I cannot remember. 
 lol, this reminds me of a great leonard cohen song, on forgetting what to remember about the most crucial things, but knowing that it must be remembered. Sounds like the spiritual path: "I can't forget, but I don't remember what."

(5) Leonard Cohen - "I Can't Forget" - YouTube

I stumbled out of bed
I got ready for the struggle
I smoked a cigarette
And I tightened up my gut
I said this can't be me
Must be my double
And I can't forget, I can't forget
I can't forget but I don't remember whatI'm burning up the road
I'm heading down to Phoenix
I got this old address
Of someone that I knew
It was high and fine and free
Ah, you should have seen us
And I can't forget, I can't forget
I can't forget but I don't remember whoI'll be there today
With a big bouquet of cactus
I got this rig that runs on memories
And I promise, cross my heart,
They'll never catch us
But if they do, just tell them it was meYeah I loved you all my life
And that's how I want to end it
The summer's almost gone
The winter's tuning up
Yeah, the summer's gone
But a lot goes on forever
And I can't forget, I can't forget
I can't forget but I don't remember what
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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I love it, Tim. Just right!
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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For the past month, I have been being bothered by papancha in my sits. It has kept coming up in both concentration and noting sits. Today I started my sit with Bhante Vimalaramsi's instructions for metta-based concentration. It's been several months since I did that. Boom! No papancha. Calm, pleasant, clear. Such a great practice. 

Had fun later in the sit noticing khandhas when I noticed that noticing perception invites an infinite regress: perception of perception. I've had this before when noting noting. Fortunately, anicca keeps the regress from being literally infinite :-)
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Feb. 7, 2021
  • I just noticed that, as I am well into my second year since the Big Wow and the start of logging, I have to add a year to the date. 
  • Full-range sit today. Hour and a half planned, hour and forty-five done. Used Bante V. style to start. Man, that takes out the verbal thought. It could be because the metta formulations involve mental verbalization. I noticed that, after a bit, just starting a metta phrase could just wipe out thought. Probably related to semantic satiation. 
  • Somewhere in the 40 to one hour range the new dukkha thing was there. This is the bit where absolutely every noticed phenomenon, including pleasant sensations, sounds, somatic sensations, thoughts, dispositions, everything, is predominantly dukkha. Everything has a pull, a demand, an insistence, a movement away. I have no idea what the movement is away from, or what the distraction is from. In this state, I can release the attention from the object, but it just sticks to another object. It's like a magnet that you can pull off one piece of metal only to have it immediately stick to the next. But relatively fast -- sub one second. The dukkha is in the nature of the magnetic attraction itself. This is not dukkha in the sense of, "Oh, my god, this sucks!" but just a "Hey, that's annoying" kind of dukkha. Like being bothered by flies.
  • There were a bunch of those things that I can't remember. I infer that they were fun.
  • At some point close to an hour and a half, the oiled feeling showed up. In a way, the oiled feeling is the opposite of the magnetic dukkha. But not. The attention is still there, but objects come and go without friction. It occurred to me, the other day, that the oiled feeling would come up as a result of noting sits, and then stay for several hours, in the months before the Big Wow. I'm a fan of the oiled feeling. I still have it now. 
  • After the bell, I ended with first jhana, which was very bright and ethereal.
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Chris Marti, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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It's like a magnet that you can pull off one piece of metal only to have it immediately stick to the next. But relatively fast -- sub one second. The dukkha is in the nature of the magnetic attraction itself. This is not dukkha in the sense of, "Oh, my god, this sucks!" but just a "Hey, that's annoying" kind of dukkha. Like being bothered by flies.

​​​​​​​Martin, this is a realization as much as it is an observation.  It's how things are.
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Thanks, Chris. Yes, it is not surprising, especially in light of all the spoilers I have read, and yet sometimes things appear like that, and sometimes they don't -- seemingly, without any rhyme or reason. I watch the world. It's nice for five minutes, then it sucks for five minutes, then it's neutral. Or it's lovely for two hours straight, or, like today, it seems entirely made of suckage. Later it will be something else. I get it but I would rather not. 
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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t-shirt of the week candidate: "​​​​​​​There were a bunch of those things that I can't remember. I infer that they were fun."
Martin, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Feb. 8
  • Interesting sit. Planned to do 1 hour starting with Bante V. concentration. Could not do it. People in the alley or in the housing development were making noise (I sit in a detached garage because it is quieter than my house). Not a lot of noise: just people moving around and indistinct voices, but it was annoying. I could not get my attention on the spiritual friend. I tried switching to metta for the people who I could hear. Didn't work. Each sound created aversion and a fear response. Not actual fear, which would include some kind of ideation of the potential threat, but just the kind of visceral response that would alert me to a threat. 
  • So I just turned it into a noticing-vedena sit. I would say 90% of the vedena was unpleasant. A phenomenon I have seen before was happening, in that every stimulation threw off a little burst of aversion on contact, like sparks in a gas flame. And the entire field of awareness also had an underlying aversive quality to it. Also, I was cold, because it was really cold out (the garage is unheated). But at the same time, I had a moderate heart glow going, so there was this kind of lava-lamp thing going on where there was this flowing, somewhat mobile pleasant warmth in my center-right torso, surrounded by the vastness of cold and aversion. It sounds worse than it was, but it was not an overall nice experience either. 
  • Somewhat after halfway through there was a kind of energetic thing with vibrational shaking and muscle contraction kind of like going into j1, but with back pain, followed by a kind of gray neutrality into which aversion re-penetrated over time. I could still hear outside noises, though they were quieter and, while still unpleasant, they didn't have a fear component. This gave way to settling or slumping reminiscent, in a bodily sense, of j4, but with the outside noise increasing clear and aversion producing. 
  • A few minutes before the bell, I decided to close with j1, but I could not get it started for around 20 breaths. Then it suddenly kicked in with finger-in-the-light-socket type intensity. It was startling and mostly unpleasant (though I've had worse j1s). J2 took a while to come but brought giggly happiness, though little physical pleasure. 
  • Half a day later, aversion is still ruling the roost. It's too bad that the oiled feeling is not available on demand. 
George S, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Nice sit! Good job sitting through all that and keeping your wits about you emoticon
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Your comment about your noisy neighbors reminded me of this passage from Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm. emoticon

For example, when we are meditating and hear a sound, why can’t we simply ignore it? Why does it disturb us so? Many years ago in Thailand the local villages surrounding our monastery held a party. The noise from the loudspeakers was so loud that it seemed to destroy the peace in our monastery. So we complained to our teacher, Ajahn Chah, that the noise was disturbing our meditation. The great master replied, “It is not the noise that disturbs you, it is you who disturb the noise!”
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Damn, views are weird. I've been clinging to some more than usual recently. Today, sitting with them, trying to watch them, I could not distinguish them from my body. They have a felt sense of presence within the spatial area I think of as me, and they are all caught up in physiological things like muscle tone. Intellectually, I know they are empty fabrications, but they sure don't feel that way. Ick. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Analayo suggests looking at the hedonic aspect of views. What I can notice, so far, is that, when a view is uncomfortable (when simulated arguments are going on in my verbal thoughts) it has a definite bodily hedonic presence. And when the view reaches a kind of conformity with other views and information (when simulated arguments against the view have been won in simulation) there is relaxation and quiet. So for me, so far, it seems not so much that holding the view brings pleasure, but that holding conflicting views brings discomfort. The pleasure is like the pleasure felt when you stop hitting your head against the wall. I used to smoke cigarettes. There is a similar thing going on there. Smoking itself is not pleasurable. The pleasure comes from the relief of withdrawal symptoms. Subjectively, however, that is indistinguishable from smoking being pleasurable. So I wonder if that is true about views too, or if there is a pleasure inherent to holding a view that I have not seen yet. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Another "dukkha-jhana" sit. The absorption cycle starts running like a dishwasher or something: settling, light levels increase, piti, physical sukkah, happiness, tranquility, bodily quiet, space, all that jazz.  At the same time, annoying verbal thought is running its course. I'm actually trying to pay attention to what is arising, but there is this background absorption cycle going on. After half an hour, it's all kind of mixed together into this broad-spectrum grossness. The thought has settled down, but I can hear outside sounds coming from all directions at all distances, so the effect is very spacious, but it's crappy spaciousness. Like a vast view over an industrial wasteland. After a while, I start asking what it is that doesn't like this, and trying to localize the sense of aversion. It is like watching a fish darting around in the physical space of the body, trying to get away from something. 

While all of this is going on, the other program is doing its thing. There are moments of peace and quiet and non-crappy space. There are different levels of light, and gold fractals through black backgrounds. They come and go. I am aware that I could change the experience by, for example, opening my eyes and switching to noting, instead of noticing, or sitting up straighter and inducing some metta. But I don't. It just plays out. 

As tends to be the case, many hours after the sit, I still feel annoyed at everything.  Maybe this is just ordinary non-specific grumpiness and the sit was just collateral damage. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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And now back to "normal." Or actually on the pleasant and relaxed side of normal. For the record, no outward circumstances have changed since yesterday, which continued to be unpleasant until bedtime. Some of the things that I noticed were that the general heading of happiness/joy covers a pretty broad range of experiences.  Happy and relaxed is quite different from happy and uptight. As it does not seem that one gets to choose, that may not be actionable information. It's harder to see a watcher of greed than aversion. Because I had noticed the aversion swimming around to different locations in my body space yesterday, I tried to see if could localize the perceiver of pleasure today but, while I could notice locations from which pleasure emanated, I could not seem to see a locus of perception or response. 

For quite a long time, toward the end of the sit, I saw (perceived myself as being located among) pine trees covered in snow, snowy fields, and so on. Thoughts appeared voiced in various women's voices. These are common things (not specifically pine trees, but locations) included among the stuff that I usually forget. I tend to notice thoughts in women's voices because that is not my default inner voice. I don't think any of it has any particular significance but I am logging it for logging's sake. I notice that, so far, making a habit of recalling seems to make recall easier. 

 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin

As it does not seem that one gets to choose, that may not be actionable information.


​​​​​​​Exactly - crappy always comes and pleasant always goes. There ain't a damn thing we can do about it. The only possible *action* is to let go of aversion to the crappy and preference for the pleasant. emoticon
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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The only possible *action* is to let go of aversion to the crappy and preference for the pleasant. emoticon


Thanks, George. That does seem to be the deal. This is a good reminder/pointer for me. 

I find the first half has become quite easy. Off the cushion, I can see physical pain, for example, as just a sensation. I can see worry as just a state and let it run its course without getting particularly fussed. On the cushion, I can see aversion as aversion. It's of interest, but that is pretty much all. 

But, unlike the unpleasant, the pleasant, and particularly off-the-cushion pleasant states, seems important. It feels foolish, wasteful, almost sacrilegious, to let it go to waste by failing to indulge in it.  When things are pleasant, I feel that I have got things right. The voice of reason says, pay attention so that you can do this again. On the cushion, the pleasant is nebulous, ill-defined. I don't see distinct, fragmented things to note, the way I do with pain or aversion. For example, if I am adverse, sounds are clear, arising and passing away with beginnings and ends. If I am in a pleasant state, I don't hear sounds much, and when I do, they are just additional texturing of the pleasant. 

I think I will have to gain skill in examining the component parts of the pleasant.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Sometimes there can actually be a subtle aversion to pleasure, expressed as a need to take it to pieces before it's had a chance to blossom to its fullest extent. Ajahn Brahm says in MBB:


“Be careful here not to start asking questions like “What is this?” “Is this jhāna?”“ What should I do next?” which all come from the doer trying to get involved again. Questioning disturbs the process. You may assess everything once the journey is over. A good scientist only assesses the experiment at the end, when all the data are in.”
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin: I find the first half has become quite easy. Off the cushion, I can see physical pain, for example, as just a sensation. I can see worry as just a state and let it run its course without getting particularly fussed. On the cushion, I can see aversion as aversion. It's of interest, but that is pretty much all. 

But, unlike the unpleasant, the pleasant, and particularly off-the-cushion pleasant states, seems important. It feels foolish, wasteful, almost sacrilegious, to let it go to waste by failing to indulge in it.  When things are pleasant, I feel that I have got things right. The voice of reason says, pay attention so that you can do this again. On the cushion, the pleasant is nebulous, ill-defined. I don't see distinct, fragmented things to note, the way I do with pain or aversion. For example, if I am adverse, sounds are clear, arising and passing away with beginnings and ends. If I am in a pleasant state, I don't hear sounds much, and when I do, they are just additional texturing of the pleasant. 


I tend to go back to the basics, on this stuff: samsara is dukkha, we're on the path because that's clear enough to us that the desire for liberation becoms the deepest desire, the last desire. And so we practice meditation, and see the three characteristics in everything that arises, the transience, the suffering inherent in trying to hold on, and the failure/absence of a self to hold on or control any of it. It's the suffering that got ous going, and it's the ever clearer perception of how the suffering happens that keeps us going. If the pleasantness isn't making you miserable yet, fine. Just do the meditative work, and note what arises. Let that nebulous pleasure state be its ill-defined, textured thing. What's the rush? If it lasts forever, let us know how you got it to do that, so we can try that too, lol. My experience is that even the most pleasant states eventually pall and grow boring. Let the dukkha drive the pace, let that be your tempo, and let that pesky pleasantness have its run. Your work is to attend to it, that's all. "Transience" is built in, and so is dukkha, and so is the fact that nobody's in control here. That's practice, that's the path. Meanwhile, enjoy your coffee. You're doing fine.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Thank you, Tim. That makes a good deal of logical sense and, of course, sounds comfortable, which always gets a thumbs-up from at least a sizable portion of my mind.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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  • The oiled feeling is back. Where does this come from? Perhaps it comes from doing an hour of Ajan Brahm style breath practice. But I doubt that's the whole story. 
  • For the past few days, I have done one hour sits in the morning and a bit of noting or breath following in the afternoon/evening, with no off-the-cushion benefit. In the morning sits, I have been starting with spontaneously arising jhana and having very strong j1 and j2, often at the ridiculous "this is nuts" level, but j3 will not latch. It's there for a few minutes and then it switches into image-space with all kinds of visual stuff including nimittas, sense of place (notably inside old barns, sitting on an 1960s style harrow, and in an orchard) and some extremely rapid image turnover (well over 10 Hz), most of which was unsatisfactory and interspersed with verbal thoughts. 
  • In one instance on the weekend, I had a fear episode. This used to happen quite regularly several years ago. In this instance, as various images were coming and going, I was in some sort of industrial space and I saw a young woman dressed in black crouching down, who looked up at me, and a sensation of horror arose.  It was not that the woman was horrific, but more a sense of having accidentally discovered a murder at work and knowing that you are next, as in a horror movie. This lasted for a few minutes and then morphed into a sense of being a homogeneous solid or gaseous substance without any positive or negative valence. In the past, moments of horror like this used to fall away and leave me in a very large open space, somewhat like j5 (except, at the time, I had never heard of jhanas). It was interesting because I thought those events were permanently gone. The next day, there was a point where fear/horror arose but there was no image to start it, and it was less intense. It did, however, resolve into the sense of being a homogeneous solid or gaseous substance.
  • So, in that context, annoyed by these pointless sits that left me feeling unchanged (like watching a matinee and coming outside to be immediately caught up in the world that is still going about the ordinary business of the day), I decided, as I sat down, to ignore jhanic factors and just stay with the breath and only the breath. There was quite a bit of thought, especially for the first half an hour. There were various changes in light levels. In the last 15 minutes, the breath became abstract and the body, other than the nostrils, disappeared, and in the last 10 minutes, the oiled feeling arose. I wonder if there is an association between the oiled feeling and equanimity. I tend to think of equanimity as being spacious, but the oiled feeling doesn't have a spatial component. It likewise doesn't have an exalted component, or a bright component, or really any components. And it's not like the oiled feeling is the absence of craving. For example, I am hungry right now. It's just that it's fine, it's smooth, there is hunger, it's urging me to act, and that's fine. 
  • It is not the case that AB style sits always result in the oiled feeling. They are pretty reliable relaxation generators, but the oiled feeling is not the same as relaxation. 
  • Looking at all this stuff, it is tempting to see POI stages in there and assume that I am cycling. But I am 99% sure that is not the case. First, my experience just doesn't fit with POI. My A&P-like stage lasted for months and was not followed by DN. Second, the experiences that could be mapped to POI stages are not showing up in POI order and, if they can be said to be showing up at all, they are showing up in inconsistent time scales (days, minutes, etc.). It's a shame because I am a fan of maps. 
  • I don't get it. I'm not complaining. It's interesting and generally beneficial. But I wish I could reliably get it to work. I feel like a guy in the cockpit of an alien spaceship, who presses buttons and pulls levers and feels the ship moving in response, and so knows that the buttons and levers do things, but who can in no way be said to be flying the ship.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Maybe that's it, that's the insight - you're not flying the spaceship! If that's the case, you don't really have any control over what's happening in meditation. So try focusing in on that subtle sense of dissatisfaction and restlessness ... What does that really feel like in your body? Where is it coming from and where is it going? That sense of wanting your experience to be other than what it is ... How is that even possible? Where is the controller and what does that feel like? (Just things to ponder)
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Good thought, George. Thank you.

In an intellectual sense, I know that I am not flying the spaceship. That said there is some relationship between intention, action, and results. I am used to thinking that there is no me, no controller, behind any of those three things, and notably no controller behind the intention, but that doesn't mean that the three things are not causally linked. For example, I notice patterns such as this: if there is an intention to go for a run, there is a pretty high probability that I will go for a run and, for example, if the intention is to go for a hill run then it will be a hill run, and my calves will usually hurt more than my quads, and I will generally sleep for longer than on a day where I did a speed session. There doesn't need to be an I or a controller for any of that to happen, but the results are still predictable. But with meditation, the intention, the action (the specific things that my mind does in the sit), and the results are much more loosely connected. That's curious to me. The lack of predictability in the mind is an anomaly when looked at in comparison with other biological and non-biological phenomena. 
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin,

The area of control vs no control is commonly thought of as being binary, either/or, as when meditators say, "You have no control at all, over anything." In truth, the situation is not that obvious and clearly not binary. I like your running example because it illustrates the nature of this issue quite well. This is similar to the "no-self" thing, which is likewise murkier than what folks think.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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In my experience the difference in predictability is due to the greater influence of unconscious drives in meditation. The way I see it, you have a choice between patiently sitting it out and waiting for this stuff to bubble up, or being more proactive about investigating your deeper motivations and intentions. It's not to everyone's taste, but for me that essentially boiled down to asking the question: what do I really want out of meditation? Is it just to suffer less? Is it to have "better experiences"? Is it to have a "better life"? Is it to become a "better person"? Is it to become an "enlightened person"? Eventually I began to see that these deeper drives or "ambitions" were closely related to the suffering I experienced and the dissatisfaction I felt with myself and my life.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Thanks, George. Yes, I am sure you right. It makes sense that there would be a lot of stuff going on under the hood. As for me, I really don't know what I want out of meditation. Mostly more of what I have got so far. 

Many years ago, as part of overcoming addiction, I noticed that there was no lasting thing that could be called a self and so I looked to see if there were any philosophies out there that recognized this, and bumped into Buddhism. I started meditating out of curiosity and kept going for a very long time because it made me less bothered by life's ups and downs. Then, last year, things suddenly and unexpectedly changed (the big wow), and I started to see the range of things that the mind can do and the exceptional explanatory power of core Buddhist teachings beyond just no-self. Having seen that a number of surprising things are true, I'm keen to find out what else is true. Basically, I would have been happy to go through life as an uninstructed worldling, but having seen that there is more, it seems silly to leave it unexamined. 

As for deeper motivations, I have always been a little incurious when it comes to introspection, which may sound odd, coming from a meditator, but I might explain by saying that what I expect to find by examining my experience are impersonal natural processes rather than anything specific about the instance of human consciousness known as Martin. But I am starting to look at it more, and your log is actually a kind of model for me in that regard. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Thanks, Chris. I'm glad to hear that it's murky for other people as well. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Feb. 27
  • 90 minutes morning sit With Ajan Brahm style breath concentration. Nothing special. The thoughtstream ran in the background while I kept attention on the breath in the foreground, and sometimes it would switch so I would be carried away for a time by the thoughtstream. The only really interesting thing was that there was no aversion to the thoughts. They came, they went, whatever. There were some blissy periods in there. The body was obviously there at times, and obviously absent at other times, and neither state was particularly remarkable, nor notably important either. 
  • 40 minutes sit before dinner. Tried standard sutta jhana progression, and, once again, got image space instead of third, which was interrupted by random bursts and waves of piti and sukha.
Feb. 28
  • Started with breath counting with the idea of moving to quietly staying with the breath until access concentration and then doing standard jhana progression, but was overcome by piti at about breath 90, so I just went with it. Pretty intense. Maybe a 7 out of 10. Managed to latch j3 at the 15 minute mark. This was stable for a while, then broke down into images (can't remember what/where) then came back to quiet spaciousness and stability, then back to images, several times. There were thoughts too, and aversion to the thoughts. These would fall under the heading of view-organization/development/ rationalization: so boring, yet so captivating; the junkfood of the mind.
  • In the second half, various effects were taking place, some of which I noted as new ("I've never felt this before"). These followed the format of waves of tingling and/or joy and/or warmth followed by changes in the perception of space. They came and they went, without any indefinable periodicity or cause. I was reminded of the way clouds blow across the mountain when I am snowboarding: sunny, foggy, sunny, cloudy, sunny, foggy.
Martin, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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There is a big chunk missing from the log because I have been really verbose for the past few weeks. The short version is that my teacher told me to leave vipassana alone for a while and just concentration on getting a stable fourth jhana by increasing access concentration. I did this by limiting the focus strickly to the nostrils, ignoring piti and lights, and so on, relaxing when those things came up so that I could stay with the breath, and just watching that one thing. It worked. It has changed j1, 2 and 3, so that they are almost (but not quite) unrecognizable. J4 is now super stable. The first time I went into j1 after an hour and it felt like being blasted into space. Floating in a tin can, far above the world. No thought, and no sound. It took a week of sits to be able to calm down to j3. When I got to j4 the big difference was that, instead of feeling like being at the bottom of the pool, which was a dark quiet place, as I used to, I got down to the bottom and a bright light came on, like access concentration. From that point on, I am in a homogenous bright place (indeed, much like being under a sheet in a bright field). And it stays like that. Yesterday, I got to j4 in about half an hour and went up to one and back down to four. I was surprised to see that I got the pop and the floating in space on j1 the second time round, and got the light coming on in j4 just like the first time round, so these seem to be fairly robust and repeatable. I have been going at them for a week. 

There, that saves you reading thousands of gushy words, and two instances of a grown man crying :-)

  • I decided to wait for a full half hour before entering first. First was very strong, especially after the blast off, in the floating in space part. I had my wits about me enough to notice that I could hear sounds during blast off, and they very definitely did go away entirely during floating in space, and did come back in second.
  • Second was understated. I've noticed it's a thing with the high-concentration jhanas that, instead of sukha being pumped out from my chest and filling up my body, it's more like being in a swimming pool or something, and the sukha just flows around me and through me, so it's more of a case of "you're soaking in it" than it being self-produced. It's also less "sexy."
  • The progression thought third to fourth was typical, though somewhat delayed by the long first. There seems to be always a moment where I start to wonder if the states will actually change this time. 
  • The bell went when I was only ten minutes into fourth, and it kind of disrupted it. I noticed that I could hear the bell, and then I noticed noticing that I could hear it. I hung out for a while and basically decided that I was out, so I would try what I tried yesterday, and go all the way back up and down. But when I moved my attention to the periphery to get third, the sinking started again. This was some pretty big time sinking, not just a little slump. That seemed odd to me, because I figured I had already been at the bottom. But I just kept sinking and sinking, and things got more and more less. I had the not unfamiliar sensation that things might just stop entirely, but they didn't.
  • I sat for a half an hour after the bell (so, 1:30 in total) and I cannot say what happened but I can remember that I thought it was amazing. The one thing that I do remember was that there was some sound (can't remember what, probably a bird or a power tool) which I knew was distant, and the perception was that whatever was the source of the sound and the perception of the sound were part of a single solid. It wasn't the sense I have often had that awareness extends to include both me and the sound in some gossamer web or gaseous cloud, this was a solid and everything in the solid, of necessity, moved together.
Martin, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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No sit today. Last night I had too much momentum and my sleep was disturbed by periods of waking in which all experience was just streams of points and each flashing moment of perception of the points was there and then gone forever. That's kind of cool. But it also freaked me out, and ate up a lot of time that I should have spent sleeping. I also had a dream in which I suddenly lost my sight. Not much fun. This is a thing I have noticed: practice gains momentum, and gains more momentum, and then it spills over into sleep. So I am taking my foot off the gas today.

My teacher tells me to work on gaining efficiency in the jhanas, to avoid messing around and thinking about them or delighting in them, and just work diligently on mastering them. This will be interesting. I am planning to approach it like sports training, which I like.
George S, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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I've noticed that before, the old "jhana hangover" :-) It seems like going deeper in absorption often unlocks a deeper layer of hindrances, particularly anxiety and restlessness but also anger sometimes when coming back into the world.

By the way, I found your last post really inspirational :-) Congratulations on getting into a solid jhana! It's something I've been working on for a couple of years and it's nice to be reminded that it's possible :-)
Martin, modified 22 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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  • Sat with a no-nonsense attitude for just over an hour. Just kept the attention on the breath. I noticed that I could, at least today, cut out two inefficiencies. The first is the noticing of thoughts. Instead of noticing a thought, and then noticing the noticing of the thought, and then reminding myself that thoughts are nothing to get interested in, I can just increase the attention on the breath. The same applies to noticing sensations, although it does seem to be necessary to add a relax step because, unlike thoughts, sensations themselves make it hard to feel the breath. 
  • I had decided to try for 1st on the third time that things got strongly brighter, and went forward with that plan at about 20 minutes. The shaking aspect of 1st was not as strong but 1st was silent, thought free and long (though not as spacious as it can be).
  • Second took a long time coming, but was joyful and a bit giggly. 
  • I tried to keep the attention on the contentment aspect of third, instead of the clarity aspect, and that did seem to stabilize it. It was quite long. 
  • Fourth was not as bright as it can be. Very quiet though, with no thought, not even the dreaded "look, ma, no thoughts" trap. Some images (not full fledged images, but some three-dimensional stuff, and notably the "bundle of threads under a microscope" thing) started to appear after ten minutes. Again, I decided to move to third but, in shifting my attention to the periphery, I sunk down again. This peripheral attention thing seems pretty much like a knob that can be turned to reduce formations. Ended up spending about 30 minutes in fourth. 
  • I returned to third and up to first (which was quite light) at the bell.
Martin, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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March 19(from memory next day) Went 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4. All three 2s were high-sweetness. Second 4 was stronger.
March 20
  • Plan was to do 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4 (down and up three times). Started 1 at about 15 minutes. Here I have a somewhat conflicting understanding. It seems to me that 1 was a bit like 3, 2 was next to non-existent, and so I just gave up and went with 3. On the other hand, based on the 15-minute interval bells, it seems it took 15 minutes to get from 1 to the start of sinking into 4. I would have put it at 2 to 5 minutes, but the clock put it at 15. To be clear, there were no gaps, but time perception may have been impacted.
  • From 4, three was not hard to get into, but there is this sort of disconnect. Going in the 0 to 4 direction, there is a kind of desire, but in 4, there is no desire for the contentment of 3. It works, but it is a little forced. 3, 2 and 1, were all intense and clear from the second time onward. 
  • Going up and down, it appeared to me that I was just working with three components (piti, sukha, and equanimity) and that I was simply changing the proportions. Or, at least, that is the way it felt in the transitions, at the peak of each state, it just felt like that state. 2 is a bit weird to go in and out of -- crazy happy, gone, crazy happy. 2 is always weird that way -- happiness without a cause -- but when done in rapid-fire, it is particularly odd. 
  • It was a bit disorienting going down for the third time. I stayed in 4 for 25 minutes after the bell. Was nice. There was a time when I thought it was ending. It was like the jhanic perception was a porous substance and ordinary perception was seeping in. I could almost see/feel the tiny interspaces filling up with ordinary space. But instead of ending, it just switched to something else, which was something unfamiliar. ​​​​​​​
George S, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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I've been finding these Ajahn Brahm jhana talks helpful:

https://youtu.be/tU9UZ1oTfa0
https://youtu.be/gcSfH9Aw-0E

EDIT: I'm nowhere near the level of concentration he describes. emoticon

Martin, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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George S:
I've been finding these Ajahn Brahm jhana talks helpful: https://youtu.be/tU9UZ1oTfa0 https://youtu.be/gcSfH9Aw-0E EDIT: I'm nowhere near the level of concentration he describes. emoticon


Thanks, George. I love those talks. Like you, I am a long way off from getting to the levels of quiet he talks about but I think I learned a lot by taking his hands-off approach to sitting. It's quite different from Brasington's active approach and, different again from the efficiency-oriented approach that my teacher is currently coaching me on. I would love to go to one of Ajahn Brahm's retreats. Even if I didn't get very far, I imagine it would be wonderful to try. 
George S, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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The main challenge for me at the moment is the strong energy that gets released in my head when my mind gets calm, and finding a way to channel that down into my body so as not to disturb my mind. And then the excitement and fear that kicks in when I start getting sucked in.

I seem to alternate between phases where I think of myself as practicing light jhana and phases where I'm aiming for hard jhana and think of myself as tuning the jhana factors in access concentration. It's probably the same thing physiologically, but the framing is different. In phase one it's 'j1, j2, j3, j4, j3, I got this'. In phase 2 it's 'get into the breath, whoa that piti is too strong, relax into the sukha, total quiet, nimitta coming, lost it, generate some more sukha to re-energize, still no nimitta, sigh' :-) Phase 1 feels like I'm in control and getting somewhere, but I know I'm settling for less. Phase 2 my absorption is deeper because I've got a higher bar, but it's easier to get frustrated due to the seemingly unattainable goal. I guess that's the point, accepting the experience for what it is :-) Of course if I could just stay with the breath there wouldn't be any of this nonsense lol.
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Pepe, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin
Going up and down, it appeared to me that I was just working with three components (piti, sukha, and equanimity) and that I was simply changing the proportions. Or, at least, that is the way it felt in the transitions, at the peak of each state, it just felt like that state. 

​​​​​​​ 
I like your "changing proportions" description. Easier to understand. There are a couple of posts from Daniel related to the topic:

Categorical and Dimensional Jhanic thinking 
Advanced Jhana Classification 
Martin, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Pepe
Martin
Going up and down, it appeared to me that I was just working with three components (piti, sukha, and equanimity) and that I was simply changing the proportions. Or, at least, that is the way it felt in the transitions, at the peak of each state, it just felt like that state. 

​​​​​​​ 
I like your "changing proportions" description. Easier to understand. There are a couple of posts from Daniel related to the topic:

Categorical and Dimensional Jhanic thinking 
Advanced Jhana Classification 

Thanks, Pepe. Those are useful. Reading Daniel's advanced classifications feels a bit like watching parkour videos on Youtube. There is an amazing level of mental clarity and agility. My jhana classification is usually limited to "wow!"
Martin, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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March 21
  • I had the idea of building up really strong access concentration before going into 1st but that's not what happened. First, I started late (about 2 pm) and after having had a political debate with my mum. The result was thinky, with poor concentration (poor continuity). I did get the thinking to stop but, when I went in after 45 minutes, I basically slid into a so-so third, without anything more than a shadow of first and second. 
  • I went for fourth almost immediately. It was OK, but nothing to write home about.
March 22
  • Planned to do a standard 1-2-3-4 and then stay in 4, but with a fairly raid entry. It worked quite well, but with an understated second. 
  • Was at 4th by 30 minutes but by 45 minutes it was starting to break up. There was basically no thought (some wispy thoughts in other people's voices, but very infrequent) but at the same time, I did not have either thought-impossible or thought-unnecessary going on. So basically, concentration was weakish, but not terrible. Then images started to appear, without meaning or significance or narrative or even interrelatedness, just little flashes of shapes. 
  • At that point, even though it had not been the original plan, I decided to move up to first and back down. I got third quite easily by looking for contentment and very shortly thereafter felt dopping. So, rather than go back up, I went back down to fourth and it was considerably brighter and more stable than it had been at its peak.
  • After a bit, it started to break up with images again. This was getting quite interesting: looking at how it broke up. What it is and what it is not. I brought in a little bit on sukha contentment again and it stabilized, which is to say that the images stopped, but it didn't regain density.
  • Opened my eyes with 01:40 still on the timer.
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Pepe, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin: I got some questions for you. While in Jhana 4, is it difficult to investigate the anicca, dukkha, anatta of those  shapes? Is it possible to investigate those subtle aspects of self, like wonder, intention, equanimity, etc? I ask because I recently have a deepening of concentration in my sits and I found it more difficult to investigate. And I guess that if it were easy, you would have already jumped to SE while investigating those shapes. I would be happy to know your experience and thoughts about it. Also, do you sense an tactile or aureal vibration while in Jhana 4?
Martin, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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The short answer would be, yes, that's hard for me. If I have a stronger (harder) jhana, even the lower ones, it's hard to do much intentional stuff. But, as it happens, I've actually stopped investigating the 3cs in the jhanas. My teacher has told me not to "deconstruct" the jhanas until I have got them efficiently and reliably reproducible on demand. He says that deconstructing them now may mess with them. In a few weeks, if I'm doing well, he will give me instructions for looking at the 3c and deconstruction with the specific goal of SE. 

It's funny you should ask about vibration. Since I have got the jhanas a bit "harder," about 25% of the time there is a vibration when I enter j4. It's like a whole-body hum, for less than a minute. Also, the same thing sometimes happens when the state is increasing in what I am calling "density" and, at the same time, the brightness is increasing. It's not what I would have expected to find because the rest is very still and very stable, so, in a way, it strikes me as a bit out of keeping. But it has been a thing for me recently. 

How about you, what is going on with the vibrations for you?
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Pepe, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Ah! Good to know that your teacher has a plan, and that he/she would give you further instructions. Let us know how that evolves.

Regarding vibrations, not much to say yet given my new situation. As my "Vip-J4" is way less stable than yours, if I put intent into detecting vibrations, I find them. I observe "wave height" and the increase-decrease of intensity, see if there's some discontinuity. A good sign would be if all phenomena perceived, including I-Self, would be felt vibrating. That happened briefly only a couple of times, not recently though. 
Martin, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Interesting. I definitely got more vibration/strobe stuff with noting practice. 
Martin, modified 17 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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March 23
  • That was a weird one. The plan was to wait at least 15 minutes, and as long as a half an hour, for first. There was quite bit of persistent return of thought while developing concentration, also the breath seemed hard to find because it is not as cold in the garage as it was. But after a bit, the breath became very clear. Each time it got abstract I relaxed and kept the focus on the physical sensation at the nostrils (though there was this thing where I felt currents of air on other parts of my face). 
  • I let first sort of develop and fade several times with an attitude that I was not going to make the call or hold its hand. Fist could establish itself. And it did. Oddly it started relatively mild, but then it just went nuts. It was like getting electroshock therapy, complete with crazy rapid breathing reminiscent of an injured dog. That lasted a long time, and then settled down into the big silence. 
  • Two was back to its "current of water sweeping in" thing, without much joy. I can't remember third but I remember that the dopping at the end went on for a long time. 
  • Fourth was very stable but I knew that I had the intention of leaving it. After some halfhearted groping for sukha, I remembered to try smiling. There was a bit of thought clarity as third started to develop and it occurred that there may be clinging to fourth. 
  • The weird stuff happened as I went up and down. It was pretty normal and I only note that the second second was the same as the first second but the third second was full of joy. But the weird stuff was in the transitions. I cannot really describe it but there was a sense that it was very weird that transitions should take place at all. I mean, it is! This is some exceptionally arbitrary stuff. For that matter, absolutely everything, and not just jhana transitions, is exceptionally arbitrary. There was also an amazement at the aniccia, of it all. And some pretty strong non-duality. I mean, if this stuff is all weirder than I could possibly come up with, who's doing it then? And if nobody's doing it, then it's ALL just occurring, with no differentiation as to parts (how can there be parts in any real sense?). That is not news, but it was very real in the transitions. 
  • The bell went before I got into second fourth so I hung out. Fourth did form but then there was this long thing that I don't know what to call. I guess it was mostly just chilling, but there were images and some senses of place formed (fields of newly planted crops, and other rural stuff). There were some thoughts not a lot, but fairly consistent clusters coming up once a minute or once every few minutes, mostly in other people's voices. But the thoughts couldn't form. There was this blanking pattern thing again. At the same time there was this vast space stretching to the bottom left that came and went. Like unidirectional nonduality. There were numerous transformations to gold, and being very big, and benign made of gold, and that kind of stuff. When I write it, I realize there is nothing very new or special about that, but it definitely felt new and unclassifiable at the time. 
George S, modified 17 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Your question about the transitions reminded me of the correspondence table between the hindrances and jhana factors in the visuddhimagga:

dullness -> applied attention
doubt -> sustained attention
ill will -> piti
restlessness -> sukha
sense desire -> unification

You could argue that you are on autopilot and the transitions happen automatically once the relevant jhana factor has exhausted the corresponding hindrance and is no longer needed. So you transition from first to second once applied & sustained attention has exhausted whatever dullness and doubt you had, then into third once piti has exhausted ill will and into fourth once sukha has exhausted restlessness. Then you transition back up to third if restlessness arises again and sukha is needed etc.

I'm not sure if I believe it necessarily, but thought it could be interesting!
Martin, modified 17 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Map stuff is always interesting. Thanks!

The whole autopilot thing is interesting too. It certainly felt like that for months. I thought of it as the "dishwasher" thing. I would just stay on wash for however long the wash cycle was, the switch to rise, and so on. And there is this little interval of near silence between one cycle and the next where all you can hear is the water running down on the inside. Recently I have a specific intention to do xyz at the beginning of the sit. I don't know how that factors in. 
William Quixote, modified 17 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Martin, just wanted to say this log has recently been very helpful to me. Thanks!

The most recent stuff is  beyond where I'm at yet, but the discussion of jhanna hangover in the mid thread was really helpful and shed some light on my experience of having made a bunch of good progress then inexplicably regressed. 

​​​​​​​
Martin, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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Hi, William. I am super happy to hear that.

The whole progress/regression thing is odd, isn't it?  A lot of things are like that for me. I'm really bad at the guitar, even though I practice every day, but some days I pick up and I'm pretty good. Then I'm back to sucking again. There is a general trend to improvement but I cannot see any inputs that change the outputs in the short term. It's like that with running for me too. I'm pretty good at running, but every day is like Russian roulette, which kind of sucks when it comes to races. All I can do is show up and try. Maybe meditation is a bit more predictable, but not much. 
Martin, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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March 24
  • The plan was for the same as yesterday: 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4. 
  • A little thinky developing concentration. <g> In fact, I was thinking about thinking while developing concentration </g>. I did my best to keep it matter of fact so, even if the continuity wasn't there from the start, the clarity was good. I noticed (and I now believe this to be a thing) that the breath was clearer and easier to follow after the first few eruptions of piti. So I am just basically riding out the piti, or actually trying to relax it away, and each time I do that, on the other side, there is less thought and more continuity on the breath.
  • First was less stupidly physical than yesterday, and produced a version silence (the version in which I can hear, which I know sounds contradictory) and drop-away of thought. 
  • Second was short and relatively sweet; more upwelling than drifting in. But because it was so short (a couple of minutes), it seemed like there might be something wrong. 
  • Third was very long and very, very content. To begin with there was more clarity than there has been recently, but the tail end was really remarkable: completely fulfilling contentment. I felt like a specimen of contentment. The dropping started late and just went on and on and on. At the very bottom, I suddenly had a body again, for a few seconds. Another thing I remember now: it was all bright, not just first and fourth, but second and third too. 
  • I can't remember much of fourth, except for two things. First, I didn't leave. I remember trying to bring in some stirring of sukha, but giving up. It's not like I was trapped. I could have opened my eyes, for example. I also don't think it was clinging to fourth. I can't explain what was going on. The other thing was, in a point of great quiet and stillness, with verbal thought nowhere to be found (thought-unnecessary mode) there was this bright-eyed and bushy-tailed presumptive me, going "What is this?" The sense that this experiencer was feeling was that nobody was home and he had the place to himself. I don't know which was more odd, the experience or the way the experience was seen. That guy was an independent actor. It lasted only seconds. Later, walking, I thought about that and it felt a little creepy. Not super creepy, because there was no malice on the part of the independent actor, but odd. 
  • I finished at 1h20. I spent a long time trying to read the timer (tiny readout) which for a while I thought said 10 extra minutes and then for a while I thought said 40 extra minutes, and both seemed reasonable.
Martin, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

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March 25
  • Curiouser and curiouser! 
  • (One thing that I remembered about yesterday's sit was that I spent some time in fifth and then went back to fourth.)
  • Today the plan was again 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4 and I did it. 
  • 1, 2 and 3 were unremarkable, except that it was clear that the silence of first did not allow for hearing (I could hear the sounds from outside disappear).
  • I think I figured out that the problem with exiting fourth is indeed clinging, because there was the same inertia when fourth was strongly established and then it occurred to me that, if I got the trip to first and back over with, I would be back in fourth, and that seemed motivating. 
  • Second third was nice and bright, and I paid attention to letting it fully stabilize rather than getting caught up in the momentum of building piti. Same thing for second second.
  • Second first was like none other. I dissolved entirely into the brightness. I cried a little. After the dissolving, it was a vastly spacious, silent, bright room. That lasted a long time. There did not seem to be any point in ever leaving. 
  • I did leave (I think by looking for sukha) but second second was very odd. I just wept (like with noises and heaving chest and the whole deal). I wasn't sad. It was something akin to relief. Damndest thing. I'm not a cry-y person at all. At this point, the clear majority of my adult crying (and I'm in my 50s) has happened in the past 18 months and has been meditation or insight induced. The same crying on entering second happened when I was moving down from my first hard first about a month ago. On that occasion, I basically pulled the plug. But this was much more soby, much more intense. Anyway, rather than sit there sobbing I tried for third.
  • So strange. It formed in moments and the contentment was like a substance that I could slice chunks off of and pass around. I had a wet face, and snot in my nose, and everything was absolutely perfect. Odd stuff. 
  • Made it into fourth before the bell. It was very dense. I had set the intention of not staying past the bell, as I have a work commitment. In a way I wanted to leave anyway because it was just all too intense, but I also wanted to stay (picture Homer Simson saying "Ummmm….. equanimity"). 
  • I opened my eyes three minutes after the bell. I'm still weirded out. It's fine and all, but it's weird. I am very much looking forward to going for a run in the forest in a few hours. Wish I could go now.
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Pepe, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 325 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Inspiring! Never heard that jhanas could be cathartic too, only in a vipassana framework. Perhaps more akin to chakras?
Martin, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
No idea. It's an adventure. That's for sure. 
Martin, modified 14 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
March 26
  • Decided to try for first immediately after first 100 breaths, by the old fashioned five-breath count with attention to piti technique. 
  • It worked, 1 was weak, 2 was very weak, 3 had more clarity than contentment, the dropping lasted a long time, 4 was more of a stabilization than a return to bright light. There was a certain amount of thought, at one point there was a full-up discursive thought train.
  • It took a long time to bring up 3 again, in fact, it wasn't really there until I started trying for 2. Second second was strong. Second first was stronger than first first. Third second and third were weak. Second fourth was strong but not bright. I started to break up (images) after a while, so I moved to third and dropped down again. It was kind of breaking up again before the bell and I felt some warmth and thought about developing the sukha but didn't. I was struck by the arbitrary nature of these states again. I don't know if they can be chosen at will or if there is no will and no choice. 
  • I think I was in second third or third third by the 30 minute bell. My memory is really weak on this one. As soon as I opened my eyes, the memory seemed to have faded. This technique was more efficient in that I got through to second fourth faster, but it makes me ask, so what? It was definitely more manageable, but I also wonder, so what? A disadvantage of equanimity is that it is hard to see one thing as being better than another.
Martin, modified 12 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
March 25
  • 1 hour, 1 to 4 to 1 to 4. 20 minutes of building concentration. Second second was wild, with piti and sukha flowing through the entire body so there was no part that was not a conduit for the flows. Never experienced quite that before. I felt like some sort of model in a science dipaly. The rest was unremarkable.
  • Had strong oiled-feeling for the rest of the day, including on a long run, which was nice but weird. 
March 26
  • Yesterday, I tried generating the free fall/dropping sensation that shows up at the end of third, while I was out running, by putting the attention on the periphery. It worked. Later I tried it on the couch. So today I decided to try starting a sit with that, and see if I could move right into fourth. 
  • Did 100 breaths, then shifted aware to the periphery and got falling. The falling didn't last that long but got to a surprisingly well-developed fourth, which deepened with time. There were some verbal thoughts popping up here and there. Started to build third and heard the 15 minute bell (I would have guessed much less time had passed). 
  • Went up, down, up again, and down again, so the last fourth was third fourth. One of the firsts was very long, and very quiet, and very uniformly bright. Last fourth was exceptionally strong. It started to break up and I intended to move to third and I believe that I may have accidentally bumped into what Ajahn Brahm is referencing with "the beautiful." No body, no breath, no boundary, just the beautiful.  
  • Later, near the end, there was discomfort from GERD. It was stronger and weaker with the breath, but not distressing. I could feel the sense of self and ownership rise and fall with it. Quite neat.
George S, modified 12 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 1480 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I don't know what I'm more jealous of - your jhanas or your long runs :-)

I've been out of commission with this chronic fatigue, but hopefully one day I'll be back out there. Maybe I just used up all my energy on marathons and Ironman lol.

Have you ever tried running with your mouth closed? I was starting to play around with it and see some increased respiratory ability. When you open your mouth up again it feels like using rocket fuel! It's something the Native Americans used to do to train their young warriors apparently - give them a mouthful of water and have them run all day without swallowing it!
Martin, modified 12 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Iron man. Respect!

I have a friend (pretty quick fellow) who swears by keeping his mouth closed on runs. He also tapes his mouth shut when he sleeps because, he tells me, nose air is just better for you. I never thought about the turbocharger benefit of opening your mouth. I'll have to try it. 

Funny thing is that I was a keen runner and had to scale back two summers ago because of stage three arthritis in the knee, and that very unwelcome development is what gave me more time to spend meditating and hit the big wow. Now the knee is fine, despite what the x-rays said. Bodies are odd beasts. Here's hoping that your fatigue will go too.
George S, modified 12 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 1480 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
That's how I got into triathlon, due to a tendon issue (which was caused when I switched from heel strike to forefoot, although after that it made running much better). The cycling I never really enjoyed as much, plus it takes up much more time and I became a dad so it had to go XD I will probably swim more as I age because it's so much gentler on the body.

Nasal breathing is better for you all round. I taped my mouth at night for a while, now it just stays closed automatically, and I feel more rested after less hours sleep :-) There's a technique called Buteyko breathing which helps you to lock it in during the day. The science behind it is actually pretty interesting - the Bohr effect - paradoxically you get more O2 uptake into your cells when you have more CO2 in your blood, which means breathing less not more! Our breathing apparatus evolved when there was more CO2 in the atmosphere, so the limiting factor now is having enough CO2 in the blood. The blood is almost always 100% saturated with O2, even with very restricted breathing:

https://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Hyperventilation_-_makes_you_feel_as_if_you_can%27t_get_your_breath
Martin, modified 11 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
March 29
  • 1h08m
  • j3-2-1-2-3-4-5
  • Coming in from third was a bit challenging because I really think of third in terms of the transition from second and the transition to third. Spent relatively little time in third, got the full-flowing sukha and piti on both seconds. First was relatively weak. 
  • Stayed in fourth until it started to break up (images, proto-thoughts), lifted slightly into third and went down again. 
  • Got a not-very-big 5th (miles or tens of miles).
  • Returned to fourth and hung out until it broke up again. Then I hung out watching the sense of self wax and wane and trying to see how it worked. I felt kind of stubborn, insisting that it show itself, but I could not figure it out.
Martin, modified 10 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
March 30
  • 1h05m
  • Planned for Bhante Vimalaraṁsi as an entry object, progressing from entry to fourth and then back up and down again
  • Was a bit rusty with  BV metta but it worked, ended up in a mostly second-like state, and sort of 6Red down to fourth. It's interesting that the BV "radiating from the top of the head" lines up pretty damn closely with placing attention on the periphery.
  • I didn't leave fourth. I just could not find a handle to bring up third. It was a slightly odd fourth. There was a generally, but not consistently, increasing brightness. At times it was very bright: not quite "oh, my eyes!" but getting there. At other times, it was breaking up, but I just hung out, and it went back down, or got brighter, or did bits and pieces of images and thoughts. It was kind of random, but interesting. 
  • It's funny, I woke up this morning with a whole bunch of anatta going on. I was just watching my body scratch and stretch and get up and thinking, "hey how did we get here? I don't remember a decision to move," and so on (to be clear, I'm not talking about gappiness). This was also not like some of the major anatta experiences I've had, more like a string of anatta moments. I think some of that sense of lack of control (not out of control, or lack of agency per se) just kind of a lack of commitment to be involved in the whole control process, spilled over into the sit. It was kind of like, "Yeah, do whatever you want. I'll be here when you need me."
  • Higher than usual energy for the rest of the day.
Martin, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
March 31
  • A&P-esque weirdness at three in the morning. Crazy bright. Very much like looking at an overbright sun through the branches of a forest. All kinds of other stuff including infinite space, fear, sadness and "this is it" sensation. But mostly just dissolving into the strange bright space. Started at three, was over by five. I only noticed the portions where I was awake. 
  • Got instructions from Nick on how to play the insight game to with the specific goal of getting to SE this morning. Sounds mostly fun, though, as soon as I start looking at things that way (as all being made of up sensations to be investigated), it's like a hand just turning up the weirdness level. 
  • 30 minutes at the desk (keeping it light because of A&P thingy last night). Basically aimed directly at 4 and started looking around at 10 minutes. I wasn't really in 4, but verbal thought was basically gone. It was immediately very odd to look at what makes the observer. One interesting thing is, what sensations make distance. How can something be seen as near or far with the eyes closed?
  • Now, off cushion, I can switch to the sensations in a matter of seconds. It is immediately odd. Fresh. Somewhat frightening. 
April 3
  • Can't really remember April 1st sit. Probably was weak, whatever it was. Actually, now I remember that I was following instructions throughout the day as well, and ended up in a very weird and uncomfortable place in the night with the vaccine side effects, particularly pain in the core, and some A&P style bright lights and looking for which sensations were self. The whole thing was awful and I got up and drank cocoa and watched Jane the Virgin, but it still didn't get better and at 5 I took some Nyquil. No sit yesterday because of vaccine side effects.
  • 1h22m. 1-4-1-4. Strong on second round. Spent about a half an hour in fourth looking. It seemed hard at first. I thought I might have to come out to look but it got easier without the state disappearing. Turns out there are lots of sensations to look at. The attention does not need to be directed. It's going to objects anyway. It's more like twisting the focus knob a little bit when it goes to an object. The rate of change is very rapid. I can't say that I am getting much insight but it is interesting.
April 4
  • 1-4-1-4+3+5
  • The really amazing thing was that I found Nick was right. I don't have to do anything to move from one jhana to the next, just simply intend to. It is much faster. At the end, having done the progression and hung out, I intended 3 and moved into it and then, for fun, intended 5 and moved there. Although it was not strong, it was clearly 5.
  • Off the cushion, memory, which was strongly recreating middle school moved to high school. The striking thing is that I can more or less only remember places and girls. And even the girls I can only remember in general terms, more or less what their faces looked like. All that trouble trying to be with them, and now I can't even remember it. The same can be said about everything else. So much striving and then it is not even left in memory. 
April 5
  • 1-4-1-3-4
  • This intention thing rocks. What was I doing up to down, by trying to pull up factors? All I have to do is intend the number. It seems to take about a minute. Also, I can intend to stay in the current jhana. Up to now, I had felt that they kind of did their own thing. 
  • First fourth was actually pretty strong but I went up and down again because that had been the plan. I skipped second on the way back down, by intending third from second. Worked like a charm. Second just causes fuss. 
  • I remember that I spent a lot of time in fourth, looking, but I cannot remember what I saw. I also hung out for about 15 minutes after the bell in a state without any body. Before the bell, bits a pieces of body were showing up (mostly pain, not that it hurt) but after the bell there were none. I recall trying to look for memory and not finding any.  It was like both a temporal and sensory isolation chamber. 
George S, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 1480 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Martin
One interesting thing is, what sensations make distance. How can something be seen as near or far with the eyes closed?

"Normally" one takes physical space as a "given" (and who knows, maybe it is). Nevertheless, there seems to be a part of the brain which is constantly involved in creating a working model of space. Then you start to realize that it's just a model, with various distortions, that you can play around with. And also it requires a certain amount of energy to run, and there's a basic level of dissatisfaction which arises just by virtue of having it running.

​​​​​​​I feel a bit presumptuous suggesting this, given that your jhanas are so much deeper than mine, but if you play around with the transition from 5th to 6th then you can get a sense of how this model works in the limit. In 5th you have the characteristic of pure "spaceiness", and as you move into 6th that drops away leaving pure awareness, and you feel the instant relief of switching off the space model.

You can also play around with the space model off the cushion and try to trick it, to try to peer inside its functioning, by asking questions like:
- How do I actually know this object is near and that one far? What if it was the other way round?
- How do I know that my head is in the center of the space around me? What if the center of my awareness was somewhere over there, or even inside somebody else's head?
​​​​​​​- Where are my thoughts located in space? One tends to think of them as occurring in the head, but try imagining your thoughts occurring inside some other object or part of space! It's possible and then you realize again, oh it's just a model, a frame of reference, a habitual assumption.

Obviously certain stuff you can and can't see is directly related to the fact that your head is here not there, so it's a pretty good model. But the point is to recognize that it still is only a model and  there's a certain amount of stress that comes from taking it to be "objective reality" (whatever that is).

Another way to think about it: incoming sense data to the eyes (and ears and touch) have no a priori spatial distribution. The brain has to arrange them in a certain way to imagine them being located at different points in space in relation to each other. Think of how a baby learns about space ...

I hope some of that is helpful.
Martin, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Thanks, George. 

Funny that you should mention the stress of the spatial model. These past few days I've been seeing it, along with the stress of any kind of fabrication. I don't have sixth so I can't really experiment with turning it off. I just do the start of fifth from time to time, but even that is not reliably repeatable. My teacher gave me a choice at our last session between learning the formless realms and going for SE. I chose door number 2. 

I do play about with spatial perception in the ways that you mention. It's fun. One other thing is to match my stride to someone running in front of me, and then occupy his body instead of mine. It's basically a variant on the rubber hand illusion. Another thing I play with is feeling my toes. How can "I" feel my toes. My toes are just as much "I" as anything else, but they seem distant: distant from what? Where is the other end of the distance measuring stick? 
Martin, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
April 6
  • 1h10m. 1-4. So wearying. 
  • Jhanas were very efficient. Fourth probably in 20 minutes. Just used intention. 
  • Just hung out in fourth/degraded fourth trying to watch self but instead saw dukkha. It's just what everything in the mind is built of. It's work. Everything has to be evaluated, created, ignored, focused on, whatever. And not in any kind of intellectual way. I'm talking about the basic process of consciousness. That's all work. Who is doing the work? I repeatedly asked, what is stressed? What is suffering? What wants to get away. Because Nick had said to check if the observer was in the face, I put attention on the face and found that having a face is a drag. So I asked who has the face? But I cannot see any answer. Of course, I know the academic answer that nobody has the face, but there is nonetheless a sense of having a face, doing the work, etc. It was tiring. There was a point where there was less and less, which was better and better, but even the little that remained was a bummer. There were times where the mind fled to bright light and space, and at one point an outdoor scene, but I insisted it get back to watching the observer, I guess I still hung out for ten minutes after the bell, trying to wrestle it to the ground and be done with it.
  • For the rest of the day, I have been able to see the dukkha in every perceived thing, or the action of perception or consciousness. Which is not to say that I had a bad day. It was very pleasant, but each time I checked, the pleasant day was made of dukkha. 
  • It's a good thing that I have been told to expect this, because otherwise, sits like this would make me think I am doing it wrong, or just make me want to stop.

April 7
  • 1h20m. 1-4
  • Basically the same, but with the oiled feeling. No, actually, did 1-4-3-4, because the first 4 was weak. In any case, I ended up in the same place: watching the mind try to run away from stuff. At the same time, there was the oiled feeling, but a lack of friction does not alleviate the weariness of samsara. There were several instances of fading that felt like the right direction, but I asked, what wants things to fade? As long as there is a desire for fading, there is work being done. There was also at least one dissolving into the bright light but I know from experience that dissolving into bright light gets me nowhere. 
  • For a while, toward the end, there was some pain in my leg. And I thought, OK, I'm going to see the mofo who is feeling this pain. I am going to spot the sensations that correspond to experiencing pain as different from pleasure. Didn't work though. Pain just faded.
  • I also realized that sitting in the garage in the dark with my eyes closed, or walking around the kitchens making tea, working, going for a run, doesn't change anything. The inextricable nature of samsara is currently clear to me. To be honest, I am kind of skeptical about the whole dukkha-nirodha thing at the moment. It seems inherently technically impossible. But I am used to be proven wrong. 
George S, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 1480 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It's not pain that goes away so much as resistance to pain - the desire or expectation that your experience should be anything other than exactly what it is.
Martin, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Yes, that makes sense. But I cannot say that I noticed any resistance to pain. If anything, the opposite was true, because the pain made an interesting object to work with. But something was perceiving it (in the sense of distinguishing it from other things) as pain. As an experience, it was no more stressful by its nature than, for example, an experience of the breath, or brightness, or whatever. Nonetheless, something was perceiving it as pain, but I could not see that something. It's a bit like the toes question. Painful to who?
George S, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 1480 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Even investigation can be a form of resistance, because you're singling it out as something that needs to be worked with! It can be hard to spot the resistance, but eventually one can always see that pain is what is resisted (and pleasure is what is clung to and neutral is what is ignored). So the question 'who perceives it as pain?' is equivalent to 'who resists it?' And that's an interesting question indeed ...
Martin, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: Martin's sporadic log

Posts: 252 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Makes sense. Thanks. 

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