Pepe's Log #2

Pepe, modified 2 Months ago.

Pepe's Log #2

Posts: 402 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
My initial practice log became too long, so here comes the sequel. 


Some highlights of these 3 last weeks:

[ 1 ] I am more attentive (in particular off-cushion) to regrets / negative emotions of the past. Many arise throughout the day, and as most of them are not really significant, I find it strange that they emerge from the unconscious. I imagine that the mind is testing the conscious's ability to deal with past things, before refloating more painful things. I started reading "Start Where You Are", by Pema Chödrön.

[ 2 ] There is a persistent struggle between binary / non-binary thinking. It amazes me how I find at various times (on different topics) that this binary mentality arises (black-white, good-bad, etc.) even though I consider I have learned some things about psychoanalysis well enough. I guess deep down, it's a practice that will last until the last day of my life.

As for meditation, this binary / non-binary translates into something I call digital / analog. I notice how easy it is to fall into the digital noticing of the entire curve of a physical sensation / emotion / thought. What is digital? Capture only the arising, or the passing away, or the peak, or the void after the passing away, and discard the rest. It is a form of subtle rejection of what is being observed. Instead, to be analogous is to surf the entire wave of arising and passing away. And this is closely related to non-conceptuality, perceiving phenomena without labellings (non-verbal) or analyzing or looking for the 3Cs (as opposed to let them appear by themselves). All of this I see as a precondition to be on High-EQ consistently (as consistently as impermanence allows emoticon).

[ 3 ] This non-conceptuality is generally associated with 'being in the Present'. But being in the present is not a panacea, as Eckart Tolle preaches. It also has its complications. Just as being focused on the future, thoughts are connected with hope & fear, and when focused on the past thoughts are connected with pride & shame, when connected with the present the thoughts that arise are connected with approval / reproval or with lose / win. So a lot of psychological material comes up here to look at, that when I'm in 'noticing mode' I often overlook. After dwelling on the physical sensations left by these emotional reactions (which are not very intense, but they do persist/repeat), sometimes the brahmaviharas arise spontaneously as a cure: metta, compassion, mudita, equanimity (and gratitude).

[ 4 ] Perceiving everything in a non-conceptual way is difficult for it to occur consistently, it occurs more in sections of time,  because there is a lot of information that emerges simultaneously and the mind immediately seeks to filter / categorize to deal with the situation. And this derails the practice from non-conceptuality. One tentative solution that I have been trying is to focus on the intensity of physical sensations and emotions (and persistence of thoughts). The idea is that intensity has a gradient from low to high, regardless of whether the physical sensation is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. In my experience, observing intensity takes away the online analysis of what is happening, which is why it supports non-conceptuality.

In addition, the intensity also acts as a bridge between vedana (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral) with the three root keshlas (aversion, greed, indifference). Capture both sides at the same time, but without conceptualizing it. It is easy to understand that there can be greed to something pleasant, and that its intensity is low, medium or high. But there can also be greed towards a neutral vedana, a pseudo-EQ. The intensity (here, some kind of tension) in this case gives information about something dissonant. Another case is that there may be an aversion to a pleasant sensation/thought, because this may imply some kind of clinging (no matter how wholesome it is). More of the latter at the end of this post.

[ 5 ] The post-relief issue. When working specifically with tensions, I observe a connection between relaxation and the three root keshlas. When spotting a tension, I see if it has a fast/natural arising and passing away, or if it's kind of 'stable' tension. In the second case, I try to relax. After relaxation and the feeling of relief, that's where I found the connection with the three poisons: 

(1)  Sometimes there's an attraction to that post-relief 'state', I cling to it, kind of trying to solidify the situation. An aversion to going back to the previous dynamic situation, with its ups and downs. 

(2) Sometimes there's an aversion  to that  post-relief state, either because of an intellectual/intuitive clash with some sort of mental model of how things should be, or because of fear of the unknown, etc. 

(3) And sometimes there’s indifference to that post-relief state, trying to observe the always more interesting/fresh new thing. But you could no try to catch a new thing and be indifferent still: that’s when not acknowledging the I-Self, the awareness of awareness. 

What I found is that sometimes there’s kind of solution to these three scenarios: a  tactile feeling/visualization of opening/absorbing like a bath sponge does with water. This triggers  either more relaxation or more subtle phenomena. I had one of those very low key 'near-miss' trying this, so it’s promising. 

At least, it’s some ‘novel’ way of triggering letting go/letting be. And I say ‘novel’ with quotation marks, because it’s not that novel. I have perceived this in taoist breathing, as after the out-breath and before the in-breath there is a spontaneous sucking (of the abdomen in particular but of most of the skin/skull generally) that defrost/unfreeze the situation. 

IMO,  it's kind of revealing as other tension release models (like B. Vimalaramsi's 6 Rs or Shinzen Young's Gone/Vanishings, or Katami’s 2PF chasing of tensions related to the I) promote clinging to /dwelling in that post-relief state, never acknowledging that greed, aversion or indifference is triggered by being there.

[ 6 ] Last Thursday I did something different than what I described in the previous paragraphs, which denotes how wide the vipassana-samatha spectrum is, and how todays' epiphany is tomorrow's half truth  emoticon ... I let myself got caught up in the post-relief clinging, which made me focus on awareness. At one point there was an outward displacement / enlargement (as if in a bubble) and then an acceleration of the thoughts, lights and sensations, revolving around the observation point. That I connected with Vipassana-Jhana 1 (VJ-1). A little later, the attention shifted to pleasant sensations in the body, which grew a little with the passage of time, but never by much. This I connected with VJ-2. Then there began to be many abrupt vanishings of thoughts (I do not particularly remember vanishings of physical sensations). Whenever I thought, the thought was cut off half way and there was silence. I don't know if these vanishings have to do with the intensity of these VJs or it was something more related to High-EQ. At some point later, there was circulation of cooler bodily sensations (coolness), which I don't know what to connect them with. In summary, it was a very interesting practice because I experienced Vipassana-Jhana at a 30/70 ratio when the usual is more than 80/20. It was totally unthinkable that I could take advantage of clinging / aversion to lean towards a more Jhana / Samatha-like practice. It is handy for an aversive personality like mine that could counteract it by taking advantage of clinging.
Pepe ·, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pepe's Log #2

Posts: 402 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Below, some highlights of the past four weeks.
Surrendering to a blend of textures between physical sensations, mind-states and emotions. Letting be. Accepting everything, marinating in them, there is nothing to change. If there’s any kind of resistance or intent of conceptualizing anything or imagine/remember anything, then I say “and so is this”.  

When I remain for a long time in a non-conceptual awareness mode, physical sensations are observed with greater amplitude. The interesting thing is to observe the impermanence. Physical sensations aren’t perceived in a pointillist type (Pointillism) like in A&P, but like interconnected small waves. Better still, it is observed how the mind always seeks to freeze those sensations and freeze their spatial location.

When marinating in Dukkha, I observe three levels: (1) the psychological Dukkha; (2) the perceptual Dukkha; (3) the I-Self Dukkha. The psychological Dukkha has to do with reactions to mind-states, emotions, worldviews. The perceptual Dukkha has to do with changes in Attention, is much more subtle. The I-Self Dukkha has to do with the “I” urged to regain its centrality, not accepting an endless parade of sensations. And that's annoying. Like your kid trying to regain your attention as he sees you immersed watching a movie. 

Marinating in the versions I and II of Dukkha triggered major vanishings. It reminded me of that practice Shinzen Young recommends of meditating at midnight and not moving anything, physically or mentally to trigger a cessation. I understand that by not reacting to discomfort, uneasiness, I am letting more parts of the brain to surface simultaneously, and that at some point the mind does not cope with it and have a restart.

When non-conceptual awareness does not work, the second best practice is to observe the past, present, future, and if necessary include labels: remembering, imagining and observing / analyzing.

The Tonglen and Boddhicitta practices I’ve been starting to explore are very good, but to sustain the practice over time I see that I need to be stimulating the mind all the time. My intuition is that it is necessary as a complement to the non-conceptual awareness practice, so as not to miss Dukkha material that is already present in the mind. To keep at least 4-5 concepts fresh in mind, I am going to have to summarize some chapters of Start Where You Are.

Many times I observe how the Attention does not move in the first minute of practice. Before I understood this as something related to concentration. But the 'insight' was to see that it is really Attention centered in the attention itself. In other words, that awareness of awareness is there from the first moment, but then the mind drifts. Once the movement of attention is exhausted, there the awareness of awareness is observed again. 

In Samatha practice, I experimented with Ajahn Lee's breathing method (4 points: nose, Third Eye, Crown Chakra and middle of the brain). As an interesting byproduct, the flickering appeared on the Third Eye (better to look at it from the front but with a peripheral view) and some image forming (morphing light images). It is probably related to A&P Vipassana-Jhana.

For the first time, I walked through J1, J2, J3 and J4. They were very lite versions of jhanas, yet  an amazing experience nevertheless. Interesting how those theoretical things actually translate into physical / mental experiences. I observed the pull in J1 (towards the Third Eye), pleasant sensations in J2 (the chest and extremities in general). J1 is more mental, J2 more physical. Later there were cooler sensations (cool) and calmness and quietness, which I connect with J3. Finally there was a push up (as if it were above my head) and then it stabilized there, which I connected with J4. 

I noticed that the loss of concentration is synchronized with the drop in the gaze, that the eyes descend from the forehead to some space in front of the nose / mouth or torso. I practiced to keep my gaze just above or just below the Third Eye. It demands some effort. When I drop that effort, a new landscape appears.

Sometimes, when the practice is more inclined towards Samatha, abrupt vanishings occur, abrupt cuts in the middle of some words. Just a remainder that Samatha powers Vipassana... 
Griffin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pepe's Log #2

Posts: 155 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
- "I have perceived this in taoist breathing, as after the out-breath and before the in-breath there is a spontaneous sucking (of the abdomen in particular but of most of the skin/skull generally) that defrost/unfreeze the situation."
Could you elaborate on this? I had some related experiences in my practice but I am not sure whether you are talking about the same thing.
Pepe ·, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Pepe's Log #2

Posts: 402 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Sure. In what chinese call "buddhist breathing", the belly expands in the inbreath and contracts in the  outbreath. Instead, in "taoist breathing", it contracts in the inbreath and expands in the outbreath. In martial arts it's usually recommended to use the buddhist breathing, leaving taoist breathing for advanced practices. Yet, the later arises naturally for many while doing sitted meditation, but you can also do it deliberately with some caveats. In a reclined position it works best.

The lenght of your outbreath is usually dependent on the lenght of the previous inbreath but also of the previous outbreath. Kind of 'the sytem looking for homeostasis'. The inbreath is a conditioned pattern, not initially driven by the urge of oxygen. If you just don't let that inbreath to happen, after a 5-10 seconds you may notice that the lower belly starts to vibrate, and soon a little/big contraction happens that ignites the inbreath.
With some practice this contraction also smooths out and you have a new breathing pattern. So you have like a little wave: (1) contraction of the belly; (2) expansion of the sides of the torso and chest; (3) contraction of the chest; (4) expansion of the belly. Instead, in buddhist breathing the expansion/contraction of the belly and  chest happens roughly at the same time. It's a 1-2 pattern. I practiced the 1-4 breath pattern years ago, but never went too far and eventually lost interest when sitted meditation became my main practice. But it pops up every now and  then during the sits.

The 1-2 pattern is easier for a whole-body breathing, where you feel that the extremities and skull 'breath' too. The thing is that I observe a rest of some seconds between the outbreath and the next inbreath. In that rest,  the body and the Attention tend to freeze, the mind trying to grab onto something (the restful experience or Attention itself). The unfreeze happens when I notice that that restful experience has an underlying tension (the need to grab onto something) and let it go. It's like a second relaxation (the first is the outbreath), but that it feels like being sucked to the center of the brain or to the ground. My guess is that it may lead to a cessation if the sinking is deep enough. 
Pepe ·, modified 2 Days ago.

RE: Pepe's Log #2

Posts: 402 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Below there is a long description of a mix of practices (middle/high-EQ and Self-Inquiry) I've been doing during the last 5-6 weeks. They are quite intertwined, not that one can isolate one from another. In a sense they are like alternative (but not contradictory) ways to get to similar places. What is described below has a chronological sense, although many of the situations are repeated from session to session.


- Who I am? - Answer: brood, incubate (LOL) 

- Where does the self reside? 

There is a process of de-identification by removing the possibility of holding on to the past or future, to thoughts, emotions and sensations. An identification with awareness is forced.

In the search for questions that can only be answered by the unconscious, the following emerged: How does Consciousness feel? 

I believed that fear was the main problem, and I was looking for a question connected with that. But I see that what is really urgent is to connect with emotions. What emerged is the need to "sensitivize" the thoughts: to find the emotional component connected with the thought. Small responses appear, in the form of physical sensations.

From there I went on to the general search of sensitivizing awareness. As feedback, the answer was silence and the movement of the center of the observation, which did not remain more or less fixed in one area but moved on the vertical axis (up-down) and on the horizontal axis (forward-backward)..

Thoughts do not speak of me. Thoughts speak to me.

I seek to observe when a stream of thoughts acquires inertia and disconnects the observation from the underlying silence.

Sometimes it is possible to perceive a faint vibration behind each thought.

This connecting with the raw sensations of thoughts triggered a change in perception, everything felt closer and more vivid, for 1-2 minutes. And the feeling is generated as if it going  from 3-D to 2-D (*). Then it was lost. When the first thoughts reappear, they feel outside of the “core”, of that 2-D plane. The (startling) difference is well marked. I speculated that it was a High-EQ lineup and / or something related to the Watcher.

(*) the center of observation went down from head to heart, and the sense of self began to merge with the flux of raw sensations

The observation center decants and quiets down towards a diffuse area that connects head to heart.

- Where do thoughts come from? 

The non-conceptual answer was an image looking up at the sky, observing the space between the tall treetops. Later an archetypal image emerged, a druid that said "we live in ..." and a stone rock with inner light appeared. Cheesy as it was, the image shocked me. I relaxed, descended and returned to that perception in 2-D.

- What is behind this?

I applied to everything: physical sensations, thoughts, awareness. It was a delicate search, more than anything an intention.

Two comparisons I explored: (1) comparison between tension and awareness. This is about the automaticity of the attention that I spoke in past posts. There is a small fraction of a second in which I notice that when the tension runs, there is something behind. (2) comparison between that spacious place that is generated after a silence, and the raw sensations that are in the center. 

The practice became 24/7, throughout the day I remember this ability to maintain awareness of awareness. Certain conclusions also come out of nowhere about psychological issues that I carry since childhood, and how that negatively affected all human relationships since then. Although there are issues that I have matured over the years, tendencies of self-demand and comparison with other people persist today.

There are two possible ways to go towards that perception in 2-D. The first is to let go or relax each time a physical thought or feeling arises. The second is to say "that thought is not me, that feeling is not me ..."

When looking towards the observation center, one option is to stand directly there and another option is to have a kind of anchor, a point somewhere ‘in front' from which to look back. As if it were a mirror that looks back. In some sessions (not always) this anchor served to stabilize / quiet everything, although it also serves in a complementary way to broaden the focus of awareness to include the chest. This bears many similarities to spatial factors from Jhana 1 and 2, so it got me wondering if this 2-D perception is actually something tied to Self-Inquiry or just an in and out of rupa jhanas.

Every sensation, every thought, even the center of observation must "fall" (product of acceptance, etc) in order to look further back. Not because something has to be relaxed, but because every feeling, thought, etc. gives the I-Self a spatial location to hold onto.

As soon as the mind-space becomes quiet, the mind clings to anything: some kind of image, a sound, a vibration, a thought, a point of observation, and also the space itself, and the passing of time. The mind "objectifies" everything it observes. It attaches itself to what it observes and crystallizes into it. But if one remains calm, sometimes a small fluctuation is observed in what is observed. Sometimes it feels physically, and other times it is something like "transparent". But there it is observed that there is something observing from behind.

So there are two non-exclusive options: in a handmade way see how the mind is coupled to each object, and/or inhabit that object and let it show those cracks by itself. These variants are gentler, it is not so insistent as observing the observer directly and recognize and drop everything that is not it.

But this gentle approach doesn't always work. So one has to alternate between gentle and intense.

- “I am I” emerged when playing with this alternation between the gentle and the intense approaches … and when I was thinking of repeating the phrase as if it were an Inquiry in itself, when I said “I” the subconscious responded “IS”.

I woke up in the middle of the night with an intense pain in the pit of my stomach. It is a place where 20 years ago it was a constant trouble, of psychological origin. So I connected the last experiences in meditation with a revisit of those pains. During the last sessions I had several times flashes of horror images, but they do not generate fear, but a mixture of surprise and interest in seeing them for a longer amount of time. Something like Hegel’s “first as tragedy (DN) then as farce (EQ)”. But the pain in the pit of his stomach felt more like a “threat”.