RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Previously on Brandon’s practice log…

Summer of 2019 A&P that blew the bloody doors off
August -- December 2019 Post A&P Honeymoon -- practicing for an hour every morning at 5:30 AM
September of 2019 Discovery of MCTB -- Started noting
January 2020 Practice gets restless, not sure where I am on the maps
February -- March 2020 Two months focusing on concentration with the breath and metta mostly using Leigh Braisington’s Right Concentration as a guide but also using talks by Stephen Snyder and Tina Rasmussen to guide my approach to metta. I still prefer their wording for metta: “may I be safe, may I be healthy, may I be happy, may my mind be at ease, may I be free.” Built some solid skills at developing pleasant mind states with breath and metta.
April 2020 Back to noting. Concentration seems to have given the noting a boost.
March 2020 Hitting some crazy highs. Maybe a 2nd big A&P. Sitting outside, stone cold sober and I feel like I’m on acid. Looking at the clouds above me and overwhelmed by the immense sense of space. This is followed by my first experience that felt unambiguously in the realm of the Dukkha ñanas -- an apocalyptic dream with mushroom clouds and the earth rending apart. I wake up with a sense of vulnerability, nakedness and terror I’ve never felt before. I decide to get a teacher.
June 2020 I start working with a teacher doing a mix of noting and concentration. I eventually transition into doing “Mahayana-style vipassana” a more open version of vipassana that is meant to be a good fit for post-A&P practice. Practice starts with attention on the breath, then the body, then sound, then mind and finally pure awareness.
July - September 2020 I finally get a taste of how dukkha the dukkha ñanas can be. A handful of experiences (all off-cushion) -- typified by panic, claustrophobia and strong somatic unpleasantness. It feels like fingernails on the chalkboard, but all through my body. My first experience with kriyas (or PNES maybe?). Convulsions and contractions of the body. Arms and legs kicking and punching. One particular weekend of multiple bad experiences leaves me a useless puddle on the floor. My wife is a champ in supporting me through all this. On the advice of my teacher I take a 2 week break and do some grounding.
September - October 2020 Back to practice with a grounding meditation for 30 minutes a day, then back to the Mahayana-style vipassana. Started a temporary job. Things feel very peaceful on and off the cushion. I feel like I have entered the EQ to Reobs spin cycle. Practice gets deeper and deeper then I have some sort of wretched collapse into horribleness.
October - December 2020 Heavy sleepiness becomes the norm. Practice becomes a bit less consistent and sits shorter, but the recommendation from my teacher is to sit through the sleepiness rather than trying to fix it or give up. One particular session I have intense drowsiness from beginning to end. I resolve to neither let my head bob, to do any swaying or to give up. I feel intense internal discomfort in the process that causes me to make purgative gagging sounds. Not long after, the sleepiness is gone from practice.
December 2020 Practice starts to get effortless to a degree I haven’t experienced before. The week of Christmas I start to have some nihilistic thoughts and moments of panic and despair. On advice of my teacher, I decide to take some more time off of practice.

It’s now been about two weeks since I’ve taken a break. I’ll probably start back up the beginning of the next week easing back into practice with 20 minute sits.

I wrote a blog post summarizing my experiences with meditation over the past year mostly directed towards the uninitiated:

https://brandondayton.medium.com/a-year-of-dedicated-practice-364801a621f
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1059 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for the summmary. An excellent  body of work
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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To think this was coming, yet we had to go through the long version... ! emoticon
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Touche! emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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lol, the scenic route is the way to go. Olivier is joking you, Brandeon, because he recently did the same thing, summarized several eons concisely on a fresh thread, and somebody said the exact same thing to him! On the scenic route, I especially appreciate all the little roadside memorial markers where the vehicles of previous selves crashed and burned. Always a poignant moment that can't be fully captured in a re-cap. So looking forward to more wrecks! Uh, and, of course, the salvation of all sentient beings and all.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Yes, I was that guy. Honesty enjoyed both versions.
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Me too
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Been slowly easing into practice after an episode of instability around Christmas. Taking the break felt really good. Read some Cheetah House stuff during that time, and I really appreciated the alternate biological and neurological perspective on meditation and its negative side-effects. Read descriptions of side-effects that I was experiencing that I hadn't read anywhere else along with decent neurological (even if in some places speculative) descriptions of mechanisms that bring them about.

One such model described hyperarousal due to the sensory attenuation which seemed to describe some of my oversensitivity and irritability post practice fairly well. The one I wasn't expecting was the description of cognitive impairment such as stuttering and having a hard time finding words, which is something I have noticed in myself, but hadn't connected to practice. During this last period of instability I was having a hard time finding words and remembering names and was starting to get caught in a narrative that I was in the throes of early-onset dementia. It was leading to some anxiety and panic that got pretty dark over the holidays. The anxiety dissipated and the cognitive abilities seemed to bounce back once I took a break. Still have some weird cognitive glitching going on, but the same anxiety isn't there. 

Started with a 20 minute session on the eleventh and I've been fitting in sessions here and there without any pressure to do too much or to do it with any regularity. There's been a bit of a sense of doubt and uncertainty about how to proceed. A bit of a sense of just wanting to ditch all of this. Maybe this is some of that "rolling up the mat" thing. If so, it has more of a quiet despair to it than I expected.

Had a meeting with Abre yesterday that was helpful and encouraging. We are reading Seeing That Frees together, which I started early last year, but never finished. There is a good feeling with reading Burbea. It seems like the right fit for where my mind is right now, like my mind starts meditating just by reading it. That reading and and an encouraging session with Abre has restored a bit of faith to move forward. It all seems inevitable anyway.

My first go at a full session this morning. Had to cut it a bit short to use the bathroom, but the session went deep. Space opened up at the end and there was a sense of clarity and mindfulness that were startling. I was sensing the same sensations I always sense, but there was something starkly novel about it. Perhaps it's too new and happened too quickly for me to put my finger on what I was picking up, but there was an "Oh, wow!" feeling about it. Maybe I was just hitting another A&P. Towards the end there was a feeling of soft, spacious clarity and illumination that gave me the sense of floating in an expansive ocean of milk. As I allowed myself to be absorbed into the tranquility, surges of pleasure came on that caused my body to shake. Some anxiety as the rocket kept reaching new heights. Everything felt very open and exposed. Had to take a decent amount of time to ground myself afterwards.
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
There's been a bit of a sense of doubt and uncertainty about how to proceed. A bit of a sense of just wanting to ditch all of this. Maybe this is some of that "rolling up the mat" thing. If so, it has more of a quiet despair to it than I expected.

You've been in the little mini-loop of dark night easing into equanimity for a substantial period, and in both DN and EQ one of the main things is a deepening sense of emptiness and a seeing-through a lot of the things we tell ourselves about "meaning." You're reading Rob Burbea, so you're studying this territory conceptually and intellectually, but it is on the mat that we really have to come to terms with emptiness, neuronal firing by neuronal firing, breath by breath. There's nothing to grasp, nothing to formulate, nowhere to stabilize; it's painful and distressing, in DN, feels like failure or fuck-up or a horrifying vision of a meaningless cosmos; then the grace of EQ allows us to live with it again without the distress, and sometimes the lack of distress in comparison with the dukkha nanas is the best thing that can be said of EQ. But in both, the reality of "nowhere to go and nothing to do" is plain long before "nowhere" and "nothing", and "not going"/"not doing" reveal their up side. At best, at this point, there is a humility and patience and gentleness accessible--- the "quiet" in the quiet despair. 

That reading and and an encouraging session with Abre has restored a bit of faith to move forward.
It is faith, and never more so than in this territory where the previous formulations don't hold up, where the practice seems like a universal dissolvent that threatens to dissolve everything without a way forward in the nothing it leaves. That's the fire test of faith, moving "forward" when there is nowhere to go. John of the Cross says, "in darkness, and secure." Secure in what? The whats dissolve. 

It all seems inevitable anyway.

Yeah, "inevitable," you're pretty much fucked, and you know it. But you're doing a great job with your pacing, with keeping your shit together in your real life and not letting things get disruptively out of sync. It's very striking to me how often you mention the necessity for a substantial "integration" period after your sits, letting yourself decompress and reorient. Think of deep sea divers pausing in their ascent, to let the nitrogen out of their blood and avoid getting "the bends." You're doing a good job of not letting yourself get the meditation version of the bends. Your instincts are good.

Hang tough, amigo, and thanks for sharing here. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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I always enjoy your thoughtful and loving responses, Tim. Thanks for the encouragmenant, and BTW I'm finally going to release our podcast chat next week! Looking forward to re-visiting it as I log and edit the episode.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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60 minutes 9:15 am

Practice is getting pretty predictable. Mind settles little by little, without any intention really. By 20 minutes to half an hour, I'm on my way. From there I feel like the mind is a playground and there are any number of places I can go. Still mostly following the Mahayana vipassana approach, but it seems like each stage is like a floor of a department store with multiple areas to explore within it. Spent quite a bit of time looking at self at the stage of awareness. Repeated the phrase, “not me, not mine, not I” as sensations of self arose. Interesting to look at how sensations in the body, particularly this thread between my chest and face, and visual impressions mix together. Also becoming aware of the sense of doer that flashes on and off in the head areas. Seeing more of the impermanence of self. Also working with instructions from Abre to drop the sense of separation between myself and sensations. Makes no conceptual sense, but as I make an intention to do so things kind of just happen.

Sit felt very sustainable and effortless if a bit boring at times, but various qualities of well-being arose -- calm, bliss, contentment, happiness, quiet. Not as energetic as a few days before. No shaking or anything. Little anxiety. Still coming down after the session and very sensitive to family life. Fortunately things are very quiet and calm around the house, so the transition feels smooth.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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No practice today.
I had an experience last night that I thought might be relevant to point out. I was in the midst of a dream, and it was dark. I entered a room and turned on a light switch, but the switch seemed to turn on a light that was further into the room, partially obscured by a wall or something. I walked to the light and the room suddenly became illuminated and the dream took on a hyper real quality. The room was now a brightly lit, spacious great-room of a mansion. I noticed it was broad daylight through the window to my left and pitch black out the window to my right. As I walked further into the room it suddenly took on a psychedelic quality. The space suddenly became many spaces nested in one another and it was as if I was zooming in (or out?) through these nested heavenly realms. Awareness kicked in pretty strong at this point and there was a sense of expansive space and openness at the periphery. My heart started to race and I woke up a bit, but the sense of openness continued. There was a little bit of fear, which seemed to be quite concentrated in the body, as if the body was resisting the experience. It was similar to other similar experiences I’ve had, but the fear seemed to be more balanced out by curiosity and interest this time. With increased alertness the experience changed from the visual zooming to a sense of tiled sensations. It was as if all of the sensations that I was aware of in my sensory field were tiled, like a video with multiple copies of the same clip stacked in rows and columns all playing simultaneously, and extending in all directions out into space. There was a certain synesthesia too as bodily sensations became images.As things cooled down there was still a vast sense of space. I remember in particular paying attention to the sensation of being in bed and the gaps of space between the blankets and my body seemed cavernous.I mention this experience mostly because in the midst of it, I was kind of wondering what to do with it. I didn’t feel like the fear part of it was overwhelming. I was more frustrated about the resistance I was feeling more than anything. As if I wanted to dive deeper, but I could feel my body resisting it.Life otherwise has been feeling subtly good for the most part, so I’m not too concerned about destabilizing effects of practice, but I did take a day off of practice just to let things settle a bit.
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hey Brandon, fascinating experience. You've been flirting along the edge of this kind of encompassing spaciousness, with the disappearance of the usual orienting conditions, for a while now, with varying degrees of attraction and fear at given points, so it's notable that the fear/bodily-resistance here was milder than the overall sense of interest and curiousity. So, a taste, and you didn't puke or gag or anything, lol, or otherwise seize up; a toe in the water, maybe even up to the knee, and getting at a visceral level that the water ain't bad at all. So good seasoning, with the stew at a nice rolling simmer. And as always, loving your deep respect for this shit. You're a husband and a father, not a yogi in the forest, even though you do practice like your hair is on fire and the ship is sinking, most of the time, lol. For western householders to be plumbing these realms is a whole new chapter of the history of What The Fuss Is All About With This Meditation Shit, and your path so far seems exemplary, if that's not laying too much crap on you. My point is, you're on a path with a high priority placed on integration, even as various realms open up for you, and your pacing seems very very good. 

​​​​​​​woo-woo!
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Just call me Tortoise Joe. 

BTW, I think this bit from Frank Yang gets close to what this felt like (minus the sex stuff):

https://youtu.be/SmaZ6am_KIQ?t=1271
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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1/31 55 minutes 7:45 am
Uneasy restlessness in bed this morning. I think that’s due to not having exercised for the past few days. That seemed to translate over to practice. Off cushion I’ve felt a lot of silence that is leaning slightly pleasant, but I can sense a certain degree of dullness in it. That was the feeling when practice started to day, so I did some metta to try and nurture a greater sense of well being. Been feeling drawn to do more noting of vedana again too. I think for similar reasons -- to nurture wellbeing -- but I also feel like there is something of value to investigate there as far as parsing out how suffering is overlaid on experience.
Practice was concentrated. Lots of feelings of quiet and pervasive stillness, but my mind got very sleepy and the body got very heavy. I seem to be back in that territory again. Perhaps it's from pulling back on practice too much.
That being said, it does feel different than before. I can be sleepy, but I am still aware and somewhat equanimous in the midst of it. I can be sleepy for 55 minutes and do so without bobbing all over the place essentially. That sense of quiet and calm persists throughout it. Some openings of space here and there, but honestly the sleepiness is not conducive to that type of spacious opening. It's much more about sitting in a cocoon.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
50 minutes 6:15 am

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Tried to do Mahayana but sleepiness and mind wandering kept taking over, switched to noting with eyes open and out loud and that seemed to increase energy. Something about noting space in particular is energizing. Sleepiness was still strong but there was an upward energy that mixed with it in this expansive, buoyant way. Tried to go back to Mahayana but the mind got lost and overwhelmed with sleepiness again. Returning to noting things took on a slow motion feeling to them. Lots of stillness and quietness. Tried doing a bit of vedana but that got overwhelmed with sleepiness too. Overall conclusion: noting seems to be the right fit when things start getting sleepy.
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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I'd be reallly sleepy too at 6:15 AM  emoticon
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Ha, ha. Yeah, I've been trying to get up earlier, and I don't know if my body is quite on the same page yet.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
47 minutes 6:45 am
Woke this morning with a sense of quiet that has led to panic and anxiety before, but this time the anxiety was gone. There was just an ease to it. Still sleepy when I woke up so I expected sleepiness in practice.
I was surprised to find that the sleepiness didn’t really upset the practice. I’ve been reading Seeing That Frees and am on the section on samadhi. It seems like a good fit for where I am right now in practice. There is a move deeper into equanimity and the ups and downs are pretty subtle. It can be easy for me to start sinking into a kind of numb dullness with this state of mind. The emphasis on samadhi and cultivating feelings of well being works well to buoy me out of the numbness.
With that in mind I started practice with metta, intending to cultivate a warmth before I started practice. Did a pretty standard metta. Noticed as I practiced with “the enemy” that there was some tightness in the chest, but today was not the day to master metta. I finished with a warm sense of love radiating outwards to the world around me. Started doing Mahayana but I intentionally focused on the pleasant sensations at each phase of the practice. Pleasantness in the body, then pleasantness in sound and so forth. Second time around a really warm feeling of bliss came over me and I just sat with it.
Tuned into silence and space. A decent sense of both but nothing crazy. Did a bit of self investigation at the layer of awareness, but I don’t think the equanimity or concentration was deep enough for that to really be fruitful. Was a bit bored towards the end and finished the session to use the bathroom.
Off cushion, to support the samadhi I am doing informal noting of vedana throughout the course of the day, again leaning slightly more towards the pleasant. So far, so good.
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Sounds like your body is catching up on the new early hour. 

T-shirt of the week candidate: "Tuned into silence and space. A decent sense of both but nothing crazy. ​​​​​​​"
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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2/10 60 minutes 7 am
Feeling sleepy this morning so I was apprehensive about having another sleepy session. Jumped right into the Mahayana without too much prep. Took things a while to settle but not too long. Space opened up over time and there were some pleasant absorptions, mostly emanating from the head. A feeling of calm and pleasantness throughout my body but a tightness persisted in the chest. Did some “Not me, not mine, not I” The saying of the phrase itself caused awareness of sensations of self. Noticed the funnel of sensations that receded into my eyes and investigated the sense of self in that area. Some momentary strobing of sensations while doing that.

40 minutes 11 am
More sleepiness this time. Tightness in the sensations around the face. Still feeling some tightness in the chest too. Was still able to pull off practice. Good sense of stillness.

2/11 60 minutes 9 am
Mahayana today. Some mind wandering, fogginess and drowsiness, but practice proceeded just fine. Couldn’t really pinpoint any hindrances. Maybe some subtle doubt. Noticed impatience and craving for awakening. Some good feelings of samadhi but no crazy highs. Space expanded here and there. Definitely lots of tranquility and quiet.

The brow and forehead is an area of interest. It seems tangled up in the sense of self. Not that it’s the observer itself, but as if the observer is always looking through it. It’s still a bit maddening trying to pinpoint the observer itself, but it seems like it is somewhere immediately behind the eyes. I catch glimpses here and there. Lots of strobing and energetic phenomena in the visual field at different moments. The heart is the other area of interest. There will be total stillness and relaxation and yet a heaviness in the chest.
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Volatile reactions and side effects seem to be decreasing. I don’t seem to need to ground after practice. I no longer get anxiety from the sense of silence. The body contractions that at one time were full-body convulsions have become less frequent and much less intense. 
Sam Gentile, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Remind me again what the Mahayana practice is and is Abre having you do it?
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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It's a scan through different tiers of awareness, waiting for each tier to "settle" before moving on to the next. You start with the body. Usually attention is jumping around and things are energetic and disjointed and you stay with it until things calm down and you get a sense of the body as a singular object and the mind has calmed. From there you move to sound and pay attention to sound until sound also calms down and unifies. Next you focus on the state of mind which includes emotion and sense of space. The trick at the state of mind phase, for me, has been to focus on the sense of space since it is the "container" of the state of mind. Not obvious to the newbie. Last you settle into pure awareness. After you've been with awareness for a bit, you start the process again (this is why I refer to the practice as Mahayan loops). With each loop, the practice tends to get deeper and deeper. My understanding is that it is meant to be good practice for moving the mind into equanimity. Seems to work for me as long as I am not dealing with too much sleepiness.

Lots of little details and nuanced tweaks I've had to make and I still think I have lots to learn about the practice, but that's the basic idea.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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75 minutes 7:45 am
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Restlessness, aversion and doubt to start. Mind wandering, fogginess and lack of clarity. Body felt very light and insubstantial. Did a body scan to start and then on to Mahayana. Attention just wanted to rise upward. Odd feeling of being alert and energetic and yet falling asleep at the same time. Lots of drowsy, dreamy pleasant energies, like my mind is a lava lamp.  Things got quiet and more stable but never very spacious. More of a cozy sense of space. My daughter was upstairs crying, but it wasn’t agitating. Pleasant tranquility and mindfulness. Did some self inquiry. Eventually checked the timer and saw that I forgot to set it.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
60 minutes 10 am

Been missing logging some days and skipping some days as I’ve been getting over a cold this week. Today’s session started drowsy and foggy with some mind wandering and restlessness in the body. Lots of feelings of wanting to readjust sitting positions. The drowsiness remained but it felt like I got deeper into it and there were some really interesting fun absorptions that felt out of balance, and wobbly, like a spring bubbling out of the ground. Almost had a drunk coziness to it. Really dialed down the effort and let the subconscious do the work. Space and well-being opened on their own. Noticed emptiness and reactions to emptiness. Got into some deep equanimity and tried to take a very gentle touch to everything. Did some self inquiry in this place. Just sending out the questions gently and then completely letting go. Generally feeling positive about practice lately.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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2/28
55 minutes 10 am

Things seemed to rev up pretty fast. Quiet house, quiet mind. Started with some metta then jumped into the Mahayana. Some drowsiness. Things progressed okay. Towards the end, sleepiness increased and I started to get lost a ton in thoughts. Finished up with noting eyes open.

3/1
60 minutes 8am

Effortless practice. Started with a strong intention of faith and acceptance. Noticed in my practice from the day before that there was some ill will towards the mind wandering at the end. Let go of almost all effort. Loosely followed the Mahayana practice. A sense of pleasant calmness and well-being throughout most of the practice. Half way through the wife and baby came back from walking the kids to school. Noises were totally fine. Did some asking of , “Who is experiencing X?” with minimal effort. Also played around with, “look how it is aware.” Noticed lots of subtle attitudes about practice: anticipation, approval, prediction, fantasy, satisfaction. Mind felt very pliable and fun to play with. Did a sweep of the channel of sensations from the bottom of the spine up to the crown of the head, over the front of the face down the nose, into the nostrils and down the throat to the heart, guts and back to the base of the spine. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
60 minutes 9:50 am

Lots of pleasant feelings on and off the cushion over the past few days. Feels like summer vacation as a kid. The feel of clothes on my body feel light, crisp and pleasant. Everything feels okay, but like a really nice "okay".

On cushion today things took their own course. Tried to follow a loop but the mind had its own plans. Mind wandering, sleepiness, but not very concentrated or clear. A big woosh of sleepiness that I rode for about 15 minutes. Things stabilized a bit but it was still drowsy and ambling. All very, very pleasant. Stopped and just followed the breath for a bit which felt like making love. I can best sum up today as a giant, drugless bong hit. ​​​​​​​
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/4

60 minutes 8 am
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Started with a mantra that I used to do when I first started meditating, “Breathing in, I clear my mind, breathing out, I smile.” Without trying to smile I am finding my face tightening at the corners of my mouth and a smile forming. A sense of well-being right out of the gate.
Mind felt buoyant to start with. Felt difficult to settle attention on the body. A bit like trying to dive underwater with a life jacket. Just followed the absorptions. Sleepy, dreamy, mind wandering, cozy and pleasant. Sound at the beginning seemed to fill a lot of space. Ringing in my ears felt loud and large and detected lots of nuances in the sound. A rotor like sound, a deep low wobby hum. 
With time things opened up a bit but I still felt like I was mostly letting the mind do its own thing. I can sense space expanding and then the sense will fade. Did a bit of Mahayana but it was disorganized and would get derailed.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/7
60 minutes 8am

Started right off with Mahayana according to adjustments made with Abre last session. Spending time to let the body settle with the correct eye posture (lower, towards tip of the nose). Letting 1st jhana develop and sense of body unify and grow still and stable. 

Focusing on the visual field at that point and letting 2nd jhana develop. Warm sensations in the body. Pleasant flowing pressure in the face, a sense of buoyancy. 
Loop continues as usual, but is subtly “tighter”.  A little less letting the hot air balloon fly up into the stratosphere. I make a note of the specific sensations at each point. Eye posture begins to move upwards at the sound phase.

At the transition to mind pleasant waves and pressure flows around the face. Things become cozier and foggier. A sense of the body getting heavy and coolness on the arms. I do a bit of cueing to encourage spatial opening, but things stay intimate and warm.
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I do a few more loops. Returning the eye posture lower as I restart. It takes until the last few minutes of practice for space to really start opening up and to feel like I’m really transitioning into 4th Jhana. Things get more spacious, but not infinite. Open like a large room, very still and calm. I do a bit of investigation of self, but not much. Some dreaminess.
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SushiK, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Sounds like a pleasant place to be.
About the eye posture, is it with eyes open or close?
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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Eyes are closed, but I open them occasionally if I'm not sure of their position. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

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As I think about it, I don't think the eyes open or closed is really critical, but eye position seems to make a difference.
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SushiK, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 116 Join Date: 6/11/20 Recent Posts
Interesting, I will raise the topic with Abre for our next session ahaha but would you mind giving some explanation on why eye posture is important?

I meditate with eyes closed 99% of the time, looking mostly at my eyebrows it seems. Not by intent, just automatism.
I have been wondering if looking up wasn't creating more tension sometimes, I often have this feeling of pressure around the eyes/forehead.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I don't understand exactly what's going on. I remember Abre recommended a lower eye posture when we were working on concentration earlier last year, and the cue didn't quite work for me. This time around she ran me through a guided meditation with lots of details including changes in eye posture which took me up into the fourth jhana in about 15 minutes. Been trying to reproduce it but I end up spending most of my sessions in 3rd jhana (drowysiness, lack of clarity, pleasant, cozy, lots of flowing sensations).<br /><br />I have noticed that I can trigger or even push an absorption by rolling my eyes up. I think my use of it is pretty clumsy though.<br /><br />The pressure in the eyes/forehead is something I experience too. I think I've been noticing that for over a year now. It seems very common with practicioners, maybe just at an earlier phase (I keep hoping it'll dissipate at Stream Entry). I think it has to do with sensations of self hanging out in that general area. Sometimes it will really feel heavy and even give me headaches (rare) but it can also loosen up or stretch out in practice. Lots of the pleasantness in practice seems to emanate from that area. Again, it might just be the phase of practice I'm in. It can be funny to feel it so intensely that it feels like I'm scrunching my brow then I look in the mirror and my face will be totally relaxed.&nbsp;
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Kenneth Folk was teaching me to develop Jhanas by eyeballs moving upwards. You don't force them upwards but keep visualizing colors for each Jhana. At some stage the eyes should roll all the way up into the skull emoticon We never reached that far as I was 100% set on freestyle noting aloud. Glad I followed my hunch here emoticon 

However I do not remember what color was for which Jhana. But yes he too talks about eyeballs rolling gently upwards with each higher Jhana. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
It was easier to nail down at the earlier stages, things fell apart for me as the eye posture moved upwards. There's a point where the eyelids are suppossed to start subtly fluttering that I couldn't quite get. I guess it's one of thos metrics indicate where your progress is. 

I'll have to ask about colors. Abre also did give cues about where my focus should be at certain points. Eye posture down with focus on the body was more of a 1st jhana territory (still don't know quite how to recognize it, but that's what Abre was saying) eye posture down focusing on the back of the eyelids brough me into 2nd Jhana (sitting in a warm bath type feeling).

Do you intentionally go to any Jhanas or do they mostly arise spontaneously for you?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
No intentions on my part. I was never interested in knowing the fine details or mastering anything. I'm rather raw emoticon I'm infantry emoticon boot camp , come what may. As long there is Dukkha up front leading the way I'm not giving up. 

But yes Jhanas happen readily at times and at times not so much. I'm likely talking depth of absorption and vividness of it in all its forms. 

For me the first two pass rather fast or not so clear. However I do recognize 3rd Jhana. I know the murk very well. If there is strong absorption that's where you will find me emoticon if you are there come by for a drink emoticon 

Not sure how folks go about this. I have a feeling that 5th Jhana totally wiped out the enjoyment for the material Jhanas for me back in 2009. By loosing the 5th I likely learned that these things suffer from 3C's just like anything else emoticon so I developed dispassion for absorptions as such. 

Dunno. Maybe I'm just rumbling here emoticon 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/9
60 minutes 8 am

More of the same. Noticing wanting arising over and over again and dissatisfaction that things aren’t how I’d like them to be -- space is not open enough, sound is not unified, awareness is not whatever it’s supposed to be. Practice is effortless regardless. Little agitation, lots of pleasantness, stillness and absorptions. I’m sure it’s some sort of Jhana but not sure which. Generally more fluid and cozy, so prolly 3rd. ​​​​​​​
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/10
58 minutes 8am

Same pattern. I feel pretty confident with body and sound. Things get more unpredictable after that. About half way through I felt a strong second Jhana (warm surging upward energy). It peaked then the energy fell into a 3rd Jhana (heavy, coolness, fluid) I stuck with that, my instinct being that it would lead to fourth jhana and it did. Eventually it cleared out and opened up. After that I kind of let things go. Did a bit of exploring space. A bit of investigating self. Unsure about what to do from there. Did some noting too. I seem to be doing two techniques here. I follow the loop, and then when I feel jhanas, I switch over and ride that wave, then go back to the loops. More of a sense of the mind doing its own thing again today. Discomfort in the butt was pretty intense. Wrapped up a few minutes early.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I thought I'd include this super-sophisticated diagram to explain what my practice has felt like over the past year. The right side seems like its getting even more subtle than I can draw here and there would be lots more oscillations if I were to really represent every event of the last year.

My post from about a week ago is a good indicator of how the highs feel now. Sutble, but still very nice. A good example of the lows would be some nightmares I had the other day. They were of the same type that I had in 2020, but much less novel and agitating. There was a sense of familiarity and even bravado with them. In the past, if there was some sort of vast chasm, or dark door, it would make my heart race with anticipation of what would emerge from the dark,. I'd usually get so spooked and wake up. This time, every time there was a threshold of the unknown I would explicitly find myself saying, "I'm gonna look in there" or "I'm gonna go in there" or I'm gonna dive into that maelstrom .

Oddly, these effects rarely manifest during practice. They are mostly felt off-cushion and in the liminal space between dreams at night. Practice itself has mostly been pleasant in the last year, with the exception of a few months of sleepiness during every sit.

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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/12

60 minutes 7 am

Started with a resolution to reach 4th jhana. Most of the session was just one progression up to awareness. Very carefully observing and testing jhanas and how and when they present themselves. Oddly I noticed my belly for the first time in a long long time sitting in the middle of my body. As the sensations in the body settled and unified I visualized it all as an extension of the belly -- my whole body expanding and contracting with the belly. I imagined a pyramid that enveloped the body and as the belly/body expanded it pressed against the envelope.

As 3rd Jhana came on, during the sound phase, I placed my attention on the periphery. Not sure what others mean by that, but in this case there are normally flowing pleasant sensations right in front of me. Rather than getting absorbed in that I paid attention to the periphery of my field of view and the sensations on the exterior of my arms and face and imagined two symmetrical planes extending out at an angle from the right and left sides of my body and vision. Noticed that it was very quiet and still within that area. With time the energy in front of me seemed to calm and it all opened up together.

Progressed into awareness. Did some gentle investigation of self. Asking, “who observes this?” and then letting some sense of observer spontaneously emerge and turning the questions there. As the sense of self emerged as the point-of-view-of-the-eyes I asked, “who is aware of this?” and there was a sudden softening in the head area including a decrease in tension in the brow sensations. Awareness and space opened up. Things were perceived very clearly as they arose. Did some more investigation of self and noted sensations as they arose with investigative language -- “who is feeling anticipation?” ect. Noticed craving emerge and a sense of something cool happening. Investigated unpleasant feelings I’ve been having over the last few days and noticing how they connect to self. A sense of calm, stillness, emptiness and stability for the rest of the sit.

Ended when I had to use the bathroom. Seems to be a nice natural meditation timer. Funny how often it hits right around an hour.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 2453 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
hi Brandon, your practice is so strong right now, and I'm enjoying your log so much, what else can I say? Loving your turn into the graphic arts, too, both the graph here and the fantastic little chubby-ass buddhas with purple bliss on "periphery" thread.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks man. I gotta flex my art chops every once and awhile. Those were quicker, but it'd be fun to take a bit more time with creating artistic representation of phenomenology. My ambition is to do with drawing what Frank Yang does with gesticulation.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/13

60 minutes 7:30 am

Started normal. House was quiet for the first quarter. Family woke up and started making lots of noise, so I put on headphones. Things got very drowsy and there was lots of mind wandering and annoyance. Mostly stayed in that place the whole time, so there was awareness but it was all foggy. Did some noting towards the end and I may have dipped into the 4th jhana here and there.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Looks like I'm in another sleepiness phase. That's all I can really say over the last few days. Don't know if my mind is to blame, or my kids. One thing is for sure, I can rock 60 minutes of sleepiness like it's nothing, which is a certainly an improvement on my last sleepy phase.

I know it's customary to wait a year and a day to claim attainments, but I'm gonna go ahead and break with convention and claim that I've attained the coveted distinction of good-at-meditating-while-sleepy.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
That's a pretty solid attainment IMO - seeing the difference between sleepiness because tired and sleepiness to numb out emoticon
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I know it sounds funny, but it does feel like legit progress.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Sometimes I find it helpful to allow myself to drift off during a sit and watch the falling asleep process, then snapping back feeling remarkably refreshed :-)
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I feel like I've experienced this, but I don't get he refreshed part when I snap back! 
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Siavash ', modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1227 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Brandon
Don't know if my mind is to blame, or my kids. One thing is for sure

I notice that in my experience, the above assumption is a source of great pain and suffering, assuming that there should be someone or something to blame.., that if it wasn't because of that someone or something, I'd be satisfied.

I think there doesn't need to have someone or something to blame. If possible, we can assume that there can be difficulty/discomfort without someone or something that should be guilty because of that (including ourselves of course). Things just happen and for most of them we just don't know what causes what.

Congratulation for your planned retreat Brandon emoticon
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks Siavash. This is something I am starting to get glimpses at. I was joking a bit here, but there is truth in every jest. There are lots of little stories I create all the time and lots of places to place blame. This is interesting because I was just reading a section in Seeing That Frees where Burbea is saying something very similar. That's a good sign that this is something I ought to pay closer attention to.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/21 60 minutes 8:50am

Started with lots of raw sensations today. A general “icky” feeling -  groggy, lots of little itches and aches appearing around the body, a fogginess. Lots of fantasizing and obsessing about going on retreat with a particular intimidation about losing sleep. I’ve lost about an hour of sleep the past few nights, for one reason or another and I’m noticing what a wreck it’s made me. I’m imagining how it’ll be to lose twice as much every night and in some sense, I’m steeling myself for the experience. That’s led to lots of the raw feelings over the past few days.

Been thinking about my experience with trying to wrap my head around Equanimity over the past year and I think I’m finally starting to get it. I’ve been having these waves of ups and downs each getting more subtle. Initially I thought the ups were EQ because the came after the downs, which is kind of close, but then I would read accounts of EQ that made it clear that the nature of the sensations was the same as the DN, but the attitude towards it was different. This is NOT what I was feeling. When I was in faux EQ, it felt great, and then I would crash and it would suck. I can see now how I am grasping at EQ every time things get nice and resisting when things get icky again. I’m finally seeing that the opportunity is found in the ickiness, in accepting it, seeing it clearly, relaxing into it. All obvious stuff that I’ve known intellectually and sincerely tried to incorporate into practice, but it clearly is something that must be felt directly and matures on its own schedule. I understand now what Shargol means by “gaming” the process. With clarity about accepting the ickiness in the lows I’m also seeing the ickiness in highs as well. I thought I was getting good at accepting the hard stuff and relaxing through it and I’m starting to see how the good stuff requires the same approach -- relaxing through it, not constricting around it. Seeing it as energy, and letting it do its thing without interfering. Little by little the mind gets used to it and decouples from the energies whether pleasant or unpleasant. Still in the midst of it, but there is a more clarity about what is the path and what is not the path.

Began practice and there was lots of mind wandering. Kept gently returning the attention to the body and little by little things settled. A high degree of acceptance today. Whatever the mind is doing is accepted. Moved on to sound with the same attitude. More mind wandering. I get a sense of silence within the field of sound and turn my attention to that. There is a rich, smooth and subtle pleasantness the moment I do that. I’m able to stay with it and it starts to open and suffuse the experience.  The mind gets quiet and I move on to the domain of the mind and awareness. Same games as usual. Poking around at self and seeing how it shifts and changes but is still absolutely convincing.

Okayness. Alertness. Time passes quickly. 

Feeling emboldened about the retreat. It can be miserable. I can be miserable. I may well get my ass kicked and that’s fine. I’ve built some skills over the past year and I intend to make use of them. I intend to open to whatever lessons there are to be learned.
Georg S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 12/8/19 Recent Posts
 Hi Brandon, I've read your Practice Log as a silent reader now for quite a while now. What was and is so fascinating to me is, that much of your experiences reflects mine. It's great that you have the opportunity to go on a retreat soon (If you're interested in some parts of my life-history and my experience with meditation and retreats you can skip to the end, so that you know a little bit about the guy who's writing the following to you. When I read your last log entry, I was reminded of the Bāhiya Sutta, which is about Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth. Maybe it connects to you in some way. (You can find the full text here: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.1.10.than.html). I will only copy & paste some parts of it.

Bāhiya said to the Blessed One, "But it is hard to know for sure what dangers there may be for the Blessed One's life, or what dangers there may be for mine. Teach me the Dhamma, O Blessed One! Teach me the Dhamma, O One-Well-Gone, that will be for my long-term welfare & bliss."

"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

Through hearing this brief explanation of the Dhamma from the Blessed One, the mind of Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth right then and there was released from effluents through lack of clinging/sustenance. Having exhorted Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth with this brief explanation of the Dhamma, the Blessed One left.
In reference to what you wrote and in connection to that story and because of my own experience, my advice would be, to let things be (simple) as they are, without adding any extras (e.g. trying to fix anything, trying to be equanimious, reaching any jhanas, etc.), or cutting something off (e.g. fear, unwanted feelings, etc.). Take the stress out of the stress. Be mindful from moment to moment (for me noting worked best) and balance your effort when it is necessary. The less you expect, the less you resist, the less you will suffer and the more you will benefit from your retreat. If you are feeling overwhelmed by some experience don't hesitate and consult your teacher.

In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself.


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some parts of my life:
I just want to give you an overview about my meditation and retreat-experiences, so that you know something about me so my advice won't come out of nowhereemoticon. I've been on my 4th retreat on October 20 (11 day Satipatthana Vipassana in the tradition of Ajarn Tong Sirimangalo), which had a beneficial outcome (as had the others, but with a other meaning). My first three have been quite a roller coaster. In 2016 I attended my first 10-day retreat with little meditation-experiences, with the "naive" goal to overcome my anxiety-disorder. To that point my understanding of meditation was, that you should have no thoughts and supress everything which is causing suffering. A good base to start a retreat, wasn't it ;-). Long story short I hit A&P, even I wasn't really aware what I was doing there to made that happen. It seemed that I just suffered enough to follow the instructions as good as I was able to. After the bliss wave, which lastet about 3 weeks, the Dark Night hit me hard and my anxiety became even worse. In 2017 I attended the 2nd retreat, which I had to leave after 4 days, because of extreme social-anxiety and the overwhelming feeling of loosing my mind. All in all I left confused, but it felt more like a gain than a loss, because in retreating from the retreat I took care of myself and since then I started to integrate that in my life more often, because I experienced that it might be a good thing to do more oftenemoticon At this time I found DhO and read for the first times about the stages of insight, the dark night stuff etc. which made many things quite clear to me. Then, 2019 I attended the (above mentioned) Satipatthana Vipassana retreat and luckyly met my teacher. With hith advice and mostly because of his compassionate heart I was able to open up during the reportings. We talked a lot and he told me that it might happen, that I will get the sence of loosing it during this retreat. And well, it came up and was once again quite overwhelming. The difference was that because of his guidance I managed stay on the reatreat - even I wasn't able to formal meditate. After that retreat I started Psychotherapy, because the retreat tought me, that it's time to face reality and to stop running away (more or less unconsciously from my suffering. My last retreat was about 8 Month ago. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for sharing man. I appreciate getting all the background on your own progress. It can be hard for me to connct with names on the internet, and I try to read other logs when I can, but sharing this helps to bridge the gap. It's good to know that there is another human being at the other end.

I can relate to that fear of losing it. I get that every once and awhile during practice. It's so easy to get out of balance even when you are just trying to accept whatever comes. The idea is simple, but our minds make it tricky. I find myself making a resolution to accept and then getting frustrated when I'm not accepting!  
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Two changes for this week in preparation for retreat:

1. Getting up at 5am 
2. Adding another hour of practice each day

Got an additional session in last night:

51 minutes 8pm

Sitting on the couch. Pose felt odd. Sleepiness came on but the really heavy sleepiness that only really hits at night. Compared it to past sessions with sleepiness of this type and can see that I am growing more comfortable with this, but it still was a challenge. Very heavy, sodden feel to it, like my body is just soaked in heavy sleepy juice. Fell asleep several times, and noticed the particular cloying sensation of waking up again. Ended with eyes open particularly noting space. Kept noticing the urge to check the time and let it go. Finally tapped with 9 minutes to go.

3/22 
60 minutes 5:10 am

Sleepiness, of course. Practice was fairly smooth with the exception of some sense of imbalance in the pose. Continued up until I hit the mind phase, then sleepiness took over for most of the practice. Made attempts to “bring it back” gently, but kept getting tugged away by sleepiness. Was able to open into awareness towards the end and had a really odd sense of self in the head area that I hadn’t quite felt before. It was like I was looking from below and to the left at the sensations of my head and I could feel the eyes kind of shifting around subtly. It had the sense like it was a little mechanical puppet. Kind of creepy. Felt a sense of something pulling up on the sensations in the head that was slightly pleasant. I think there is something to meditating while sleepy that helps to attenuate or shut off stuff your mind would be doing normally. There are things I perceive during sleepiness that seem “deeper” or more clear when awake. 
Georg S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 25 Join Date: 12/8/19 Recent Posts
It can be hard for me to connct with names on the internet, and I try to read other logs when I can, but sharing this helps to bridge the gap. It's good to know that there is another human being at the other end.

Yes, that's true. On the other hand it is also fun to watch how easily the mind connects/disconnects with some written words, how it creates a (imaginary) whole being and how it forms a general impression/judgement about a person, even if you have never seen or spoken to this person. 

It's so easy to get out of balance even when you are just trying to accept whatever comes. The idea is simple, but our minds make it tricky. I find myself making a resolution to accept and then getting frustrated when I'm not accepting! 

This experience is a well known companion. It often plays out like this: I'm there just dweling mindfully in a joyful experience, when suddenly a nice little fella joins the happy mindfulness moment and says hey reality, hold on right there and woe, you are trying to change, because I'm liking how things are right now. And then a other friend comes by and says: "Oh, I don't care, I'm fine with everything. No matter what comes up, i can take it. Come on challenge me, challenge me". And the next friend arrives: "Hey, things have already changed, didn't you notice?" and another says "Oh now, what a mess, try to be mindful again" and the next one joins and shakes his head "My dear, you sucked in being mindful! How well you are doing in accepting!" and the next one comes in "shut it up, I'm trying to be mindful here". ...
The mind as you say is very tricky and traps the mindfulness in many ways. It often creates storys I'm not aware of and instead I'm really thinking, that I'm mindful right know, which I'm not. And when the moment comes at which I'm mindful again, what do I do? I misuse "mindfulness" to beat myself up and beliefing the storys again, which the mind brings up and up again. I'm feeding the wrong "mindfulness" by putting believes in those storys. And even about that I'm not aware of. And when i become aware of it is so easy to step into the next trap...
I often unknowingly put myself into mysery because of believing that I've been mindful. To me on my last retreat, (relaxed) noting was the key to break up (and be aware of) these patterns faster with less and less effort until it became "automatic". This led me to a point, where I didn't had to "try" something to change my experience. And that was the moment I was able to relax into the experience, no matter what came up.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
3/22
60 minutes 5:10am
Sleepiness, of course. Practice was fairly smooth with the exception of some sense of imbalance in the pose. Continued up until I hit the mind phase, then sleepiness took over for most of the practice. Made attempts to “bring it back” gently, but kept getting tugged away by sleepiness. Was able to open into awareness towards the end and had a really odd sense of self in the head area that I hadn’t quite felt before. It was like I was looking from below and to the left at the sensations of my head and I could feel the eyes kind of shifting around subtly. It had the sense like it was a little mechanical puppet. Kind of creepy. Felt a sense of something pulling up on the sensations in the head that was slightly pleasant. I think there is something to meditating while sleepy that helps to attenuate or shut off stuff your mind would be doing normally. There are things I perceive during sleepiness that seem “deeper” when awake.
Second session around 7:45, started with loud ringing in the ears. Got relaxed and then sexual arousal came on. Eventually things got very sleepy and hard to stay with. Pain in the body, mostly the legs, knees and butt. Lots of urges to get up, and eventually got up with 8 minutes or so to go.

3/23 
2 sessions almost identical to the day before. Lots of sleepiness and sleepiness and pain the body gets more intense with each sit. I end up getting up about 10 minutes early on the 2nd sit and collapse onto the ground. Taking a big nap every day after practice.

3/24 
60 minutes 5:00am
Feeling really sleepy before I start. Trying to bring an approach of restfulness to the sit this morning which seems to soften things nicely.  Sit still like most of those the days before: sleepiness, mind wandering, pain and discomfort in the posture.

3/25
60minutes 5:20am
Feels like early mornings every day are creating a cumulative effect. Feel totally exhausted this morning and have to fight more to get out of bed. This morning instead of trying the Mahayana, I start with the practice that Abre gave me to scan the body starting with the feet and to ask if it's possible to perceive that part of the body as not having a self. I was having a hard time with this when we went through it in our coaching session. She recommends it be done with eyes open, so I thought it would be good to do to start and to keep me from falling asleep. I work slowly from the feet up to the head over the course of 30 minutes. I can feel it’s effect at objectifying the body. I even do it with space, visuals and thoughts and sound as I get to the head. I eventually switch to Mahayana and get caught in the sleepiness, mind wandering, pain and discomfort again. Lots of adjusting the pose.​​​​​​​

3/26

60 minutes 5:30am
More energetic than the past few days. Still lots of mind wandering and pain in the legs, mostly in the seat this time. Was able to move through the Mahayana okay. Tried to relax into the pain and had some success. By the end things got sleepier and the urges to move came more frequently and got more intense. 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
4/3
60 minutes 7:30am

Took a break while on vacation with my family. First sit this morning. Took some Afrin, as I am suspecting my flonase is not working for some reason. The benefits of this sit might be entirely due to Afrin.

After consulting with Abre this week I decided to modify my preparation for the MAPLE retreat. No rising early. Just getting exercise and stretching, eating and sleeping well and focusing on developing concentration leading up the retreat.

This morning’s sit was all concentration on breath. Basic concentration seemed to be established quickly. Mind was relatively quiet and mindfulness was strong. Thought about switching to Mahayana but decided to stick with the concentration for the whole sit. Mind moved through different states. Focused energy in front of the face, pleasant drowsiness, quiet stillness, ordinariness. Pleasant throughout and sitting for an hour was effortless. Weird for things to be so effortless when less than a week ago I was feeling pain and discomfort. It puts the pain of last week in perspective. It was clearly more mental than I was aware of. Abre suggested that I might have been back in Re observation. That wouldn’t surprise me.
​​​​​​​
Abre also recommended that I switch back to straight noting as things get difficult again. Mahanayan vipassana is really hard to stick with when other unpleasant things are vying for your attention. Her recommendation was also to pay close attention to reactivity around the unpleasant sensations. 
I feel like I have a good plan leading into the retreat. All other details have been finalized. I also found out that there is time when naps are possible, so less anxiety on that front. ​​​​​​​
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
4/4
60 minutes 8am
​​​​​​​
More concentration practice today. Fairly smooth, but not quite as smooth as yesterday. Some mind wandering. A bit more discomfort in the body.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 5 Days ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
I'm gonna forgo a practice log dump and just give a general update of things. 

Making sense of the False Start at MAPLE.

Dissapointment on missing out on the retreat (you can read about that here: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22537368) -- It was a big sacrifice, particularly for my family, and as such not something I can ask them to do again any time soon. It'll be awhile before I can take an opportunity like this again. Bummer.

Testing my limits -- No regrets about making the call to come home. I tested my limits and found where I was comfortable going at this time. Where I am capable of going is another question that will remain in the abstract for now. Still, for the few days I was there my concentration held me steady through some physical and emotional unpleasantness. There is something more to be developed there. What I am looking for seems out of my grasp, but it doesn't seem too far out of my grasp.

Aspirations -- The charge I received from Soryu was to "clarify my aspirations" (paraphrase). I think that was part of what was missing at retreat. Did a practice with Abre following the retreat where she led me through a transmutation of the negative feelings I experienced on retreat. The result of that was discovery of a feeling of boundless, joyful love and an accompanying feeling of purity. As we discussed it, I realized that these were the components that made up the intense feelings of my A&P experience of Summer 2019. My teacher at that retreat advised me to remember the feeling. There is also great talk by Christopher Titmuss where he makes the same recommendation in regards to moments of insight. I am seeing now why this is good advice. Abre remarked that these are qualities of awakening, an area where I think I need to apply some of my studies. Seeing my aspiration now as liberating myself to live my life according to these qualities. I feel like this clarifiying process will be a continued one, but at least things are starting to take form.

This has had a profound impact on how I see the purpose and trajectory of my practice. After being thrust into the world of pragmatic dharma, the POI seemed like the logical way to plan my way forward. I am now seeing one of the downsides of maps -- at least for me, it has become an abstract aspiration rather than an emodied one. Not that I am casting the maps aside, but attainments are only valid insomuch as they instatiate my aspirations. Awakening now has a clear flavor to me, one that calls my heart as much as my mind. 

Future Plans -- I plan on returning to MAPLE later this year, but doing a self directed retreat. Based on how that goes I will decide if I want to take another shot at doing a full retreat there. It would be an encouraging short term goal to return to MAPLE prepared and determined to follow through on the full retreat experience. I want to get one of those damn sashes!

Practice

Practice was on fire the week following my return. Probably had to with the fact that my calendar was clear, and I felt like I had to make-up for missing out on actual retreat. Some themes in practice lately:

Equanimity as an skill -- MAPLE uses the whole unified mindfulness thing, and I think I've gained a greater appreciation for that framework. Been thinking particularly about "equanmity" as Shinzen uses it. All the stuff I was not able to approach with equanimity is the reason I came home from retreat when I did. I like that framework as a way to look at my practice lately and to look at life lately. I am doing more determined sitting, where I sit an hour or more without moving, (my goal is to increase the duration to 3 hours) but in general I am seeing unpleasantness of all sorts on and off cushion as an opportunity for developing equanimity. I'm leaning into discomfort of all types. Sitting through body pain (being careful to differentiate between temporary pain and injury) and sleepiness. Doing some explicitly ascetic practices like taking cold showers and fasting as an additional opportunity to observer unpleasant sensations. I'm also back to jiu-jiutsu and paying careful attention to the pre-practice anxiety in all of its details. It may appear masochistic on the outside, but it feels like a very gentle process. I now have a laser like focus on any sensation that triggers reaction or avoidance, and am trying to see it clearly, open up to it and relax into it.

See, Hear, Feel -- I've also mostly been doing SHF noting since MAPLE, mixed in with some breathing to build concentration. I like how SHF slices things up. It's currently helping to bring some resolution to sensations that were previously vague. When I get concentrated enough, I can stop using labels and see everything flowing and emerging. Not very stable or long lasting, but it happens.

Deconstructing Self -- Seeing the pieces that make up self more clearly. Things like attention and intention are becoming more clear as things. A shimmering sense of a doer in the center of it. Very subtle, but getting glimpses.

General Phenomenology

Sensory richness -- there is a baseline richness in senses lately. Colors are vivid, textures are deep, sounds complex and layered. That in and off itself is not new. I remember similar sensations with past A&P moments, but this current sensory richness is without the accompanying euphoria and is becoming normal.

Taste of Purification? -- Right on the heels of retreat I've noticed a sensation that appears to accompany pleasant and unpleasant sensations alike, depending on how concentrated and relaxed I am at the moment. It is this clear, silken, water-like sensation that is pleasant in a way that feels nourishing. I am wondering if this is what some people talk about when they talk about the "taste of purification".

Dementia or Meditation side-effect? -- Noticing a continued frustration with trying to find words and forgetting names, even of people I know well. Sometimes have to slow down to spell things correctly. Had to think carefully today about how to spell cheesesteaks in a text. Seemed to ease up over Christmas when I took a break, but also maybe something I should get checked out.

Other weird stuff that has become normal -- This stuff is occasional, but happens regularly enough that I've gotten used to it: flashes of bright light in the field of vision when eyes are closed, detailed images, mostly creepy that flash or develop quickly, also in the field of view, a sense in the middle of the night of being dumped down a pitch black water-slide and feeling like I can accelerate or deccelerate the experience.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think you're seeing something in my reporting that I'm not seeing myself and it feels challenging and subtley upsetting (in a good way, I think). Could you be a bit more explicit in pointing out the storytelling you see me doing? I'll take a closer look at what you've recommended.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
You've got me curious. Not sure where to go with this, but its a compelling idea. I'll have to spend time with it.

Maybe I should reread the bit in Seeing That Frees on creating stories.     
George S, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1602 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I think AKD makes a really good point. Most of us frame our practice to a certain extent within the context of an overarching personal narrative. It could be a moral redemption narrative (atone for sins and become a better person), a psychological improvement narrative (work on our issues), an intellectual/creative narrative (become a better thinker/writer/artist), a social narrative (live in a better way) or some combination of these and more. There’s nothing wrong with having a narrative or worldview (to a certain extent it’s necessary for living in society), but for insight practice it’s important to identify the narrative and see through it so you can focus on the patterns of attraction, aversion and ignorance underneath. It’s not like you have to totally abandon the narrative, but you need to be able to see that it’s just a compelling story that you are telling yourself. And actually when you disembed from the narrative and stop identifying with it so strongly, then the insights you get into mind & self do actually help you to have a better relationship with the narrative - to drop the misguided elements and focus on the parts that actually help you and the people you care about.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 17 Hours ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Brandon and I are into another style of practice these days emoticon "Look how its ... changing diapers, ... Look how its ... holding the baby, ... look how its singing to the baby ... look how its changing diapers ..." emoticon emoticon 
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 474 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
The best practice! A constant flood of mostly pleasant vedanas with the occasional (or more frequent) very unpleasant vedana. Hope you're enjoying your new little one. We should co-author a cringeworthyily cutesy book on practicing as a parent and call it Daddy Dharma
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Day ago.

RE: Brandon's Practice Log Number 2

Posts: 1724 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Oh boy oh boy emoticon what to say. I mean you have 3 kids right? I have just two. Not ok to complain but the eldest son is starting to feel that his mother is giving more attention to the baby brother so we are experiencing all sorts of unpleasant behavior from him. On top of that sleepless nights are kind of kicking our buts as well. Hope the little fellow starts to sleep better so at least we get proper rest in the night. 

But yeah Daddy Dhamma would be a challenge for me to write emoticon I could make a song if you write the lyrics emoticon 

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